Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Top 12 Posts of 2016!

Hello! I ended up taking a bit longer of a holiday blogging break than I intended, but we've been having a wonderfully restful and celebratory time with friends and family, so I just kind of went with it! I've also been spending some time thinking about this blog and what I'd like to do with this space in the next year. I was perusing the scintillating analytics when I also happened across one of my favorite blogger's "best posts" from last year and thought it might be fun to share my top posts from this year! I always find it interesting to see what content people really like (and it almost always surprises me -- like, maybe I should turn this into a food blog?!). So without further adieu, here are my top 12 posts from 2016 in no particular order:

Monday, December 19, 2016

DIY Party Hats!

How are the holiday countdowns going in your neck of the woods!? We celebrate pretty much anything and everything, so this month is verrrrry festive for us. To help the kiddos get ready to party, I decided to try making our very own DIY Party Hats this year. We're saving them for New Year's Eve, but they'd work to celebrate any occasion. Head over to the International Arrivals' blog to see how our party prepping is going! 

Friday, December 16, 2016

The Friday Five!!

Today is the last day of the kids' school before winter break and I couldn't be more excited! I'm sure I'll be singing a different tune in a few days, but right now, we all really need a break. I've had to wake the kids up for school three days this week and they NEVER sleep in (couldn't they decide to do that on a Saturday!?). When we haven't been hiding under their warm covers, we've been ....

Cooking -- everyone crushed this Chicken Shawarma Naan Salad with Sweet Potato Fries. The kids said it tasted just like Nandos, which is pretty much the biggest culinary compliment you can get out of those two.

Making -- Kane has been obsessed with making Harry Potter wands out of chopsticks this week. The tour guide on our Edinburgh Harry Potter tour handed them out to the group and Kane has been intent on figuring out how to make them himself. I didn't give him a tutorial—just lots of supplies to try different things. But this would be a good place to start.

Reading -- I started Jane Steele this week, which is totally dark and fabulous. We're still working our way through the same kids books from last week.

Wanting -- our bathroom redux is FINALLY complete. Steam shower all winter long, man. I also have my own vanity area now, so I think I need a cashmere sweater robe to really make that work. Right?!

Playing -- holiday breaks mean puzzles for our family, so Kane and I took another crack at this 1,000 piece Periodic Table of Elements puzzle this week.  Theodore Gray's pictures are so beautiful, that I ended up getting Kane the book for Hanukkah too. We've got work to do!

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Winter Coat Favorites for Girls

It's supposed to top, TOP, 25 degrees F here today! We are getting a blast of arctic air and I'm hauling out our winter gear. That also means that I'm dreaming of all of the other winter coats I had my eye on this season. I'm sharing my picks for the little ladies today—with this kind of weather, you might want to stock up ....

p.s. that rose gold number is on super sale right now. Sizes keep selling out, but they've been replenishing too. I picked one up for Cam for next year.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Holiday Kiddie Mocktail

Our kids love to celebrate the holidays with us and I feel like I get stuck on repeat making the same kiddie mocktail for every occasion. Not this year. I'm scooping up a festive float that is sweet, bubbly, and all kinds of party. Whether you're looking for a drink your kids can clink for Christmas or New Year's Eve, head over to Honest to Nod to see what we're serving this year.

Friday, December 9, 2016

The Friday Five!

Despite the fact that I feel like I haven't had two seconds to focus on anything this week, I'm in a good mood because our Christmas tree is up, the menorah is out, and our kids have been in the holiday SPIRIT. They've wholeheartedly embraced our Giving Back Advent Calendar and have been (dare I say it) playing so nicely together all week in a bunch of cardboard boxes that delivered holiday presents. I'm sure it will all go to hell over the weekend, but I'll take it for now! Here's what else we've been up to this week .....

Playing -- the kids' grandparents brought Pictionary Junior with them over Thanksgiving and the kids have been loving it. Cam actually follows the rules. Kane insists on trying to make everyone solve his own perplexors. But both seem to be enjoying it!

Reading -- We finished Evil Spy School and moved on to Spy Ski School this week -- both kids have been into this series much more than others we've tried recently. It's enough mystery for Kane with enough funny for Cam. We also started reading The President and Me: George Washington and the Magic Hat by Deborah Kalb. We met Deborah at a local book fair last weekend that the kids patiently staffed with me. Kane was obsessed with George Washington when he was younger, so this has been a great book for him so far!

Cooking -- I don't cook pork a lot, but this Pork Chops and Couscous with Tomato-Caper Sauce was a huge win with everyone. Plus it actually came together in about 20 minutes as promised. I will definitely be working this one in as a regular recipe for busy nights.

Wanting -- I am on the constant hunt for a tablecloth that looks good, resists stains, and doesn't need to be ironed (HATE ironing). It's been a losing battle thus far. Until I threw a paper table runner from Cami's birthday party last year over my white tablecloth for Thanksgiving. Hides wrinkles, helps keep the tablecloth from being stained, and just adds a touch of festive. I've got my eye on this gold marble one for Christmas dinner.

Making -- As I mentioned, the kids have been spending hours, HOURS building cardboard box offices this week. It appears they've dragged half of their rooms in there, but they've been playing so nicely I don't mind a bit. So no new purchase recommendations this week -- just let them at all those holiday present boxes!

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Monthly Meal Planning Tips

Every time I post a new monthly meal plan, I get a lot of questions about how I manage to pull off cooking dinner for the fam on a regular basis.  I don't think there is any one formula that works for everyone—we all have our different schedules to juggle. But I do have a method to my own particular madness and I thought it might be helpful to share how I get it done.

I know that planning meals a month at a time can seem a little daunting at first. But I've found it to be the most efficient and cost-effective way to cook for our family. Planning a month at a time helps me visually balance our menu, pool a large number of recipes from which I can pull, and make sure our meals match up with our schedule in a realistic way. So here are my five tips to monthly meal planning:

1. Plan alongside your family calendar. At the beginning of each month (or 30-day stretch), I sit down with our monthly calendar and make sure I've noted all our regular activities (e.g., weekly sports activities) and planned special events. That way, I have a sense of how much time I'll have to cook on a particular night and whether I need to at all. On nights where I know I'll be short on time, I either plan a slow cooker meal, a quick one, leftovers, or a night out. And we almost always eat out at least one weekend night a week. So that helps.

2. Pick a few regular themes. Yes, Taco Tuesday is a little hokey. But the kids like the regularity of themes and it narrows down the recipes I need to sort through for a particular night. We don't always have tacos on Tuesday, but we usually have some sort of tacos once a week. I also plan for brinner once a week. Sometimes I make a special breakfast recipe, but usually that's my opportunity to use up things we have on hand. Whatever theme interests you, pick a few and count on them each week.

3. Plan for leftovers. I am a HUGE lover of leftovers. Even if I have to slightly tweak them to get a second meal, they are always a big time saver. I eat them almost exclusively for lunch during the week too. To make sure I get them, I pick one or two meals each week and double the recipe when I cook it. That way I have enough for at least one dinnertime meal out of leftovers and all my lunches for the week.

4. Make sure you have variety. I probably go overboard on this because I seem to be a constant hunt for new recipes. There is nothing wrong with having several stand-by recipes to use each month, but I do like to make sure I vary our proteins, cooking techniques, and cuisine throughout the week. I aim for a good balance of beef and chicken recipes, and try to add in a turkey, lamb, or fish every now and then (although, I hate cooking fish so I rarely do). I find everyone can get bored if I just bake every meal in a week, so I try to plan for a mix of grilling, sautéing, baking, etc. My kids are pretty adventurous eaters, so I also aim for a mix of cuisines throughout the week.

5. Don't be overly rigid. Just because you planned for a particular meal on a particular night doesn't mean you need to stick to it. I review each week as it comes up and adjust whatever I need to depending on changes in schedule, how everyone is feeling, etc. Having a month of meals pooled ahead of time means it's easier to shift things around too.

It doesn't always work out perfectly and we have our fair share of time periods where we eat out too much or aren't quite as healthy as we'd like. But, overall, monthly meal planning has worked wonders for our family dinners. I hope you find this helpful—I'd love to hear how you make diner happen in your house!

Monday, December 5, 2016

Holiday Family Traditions: Festive Kids Room Decor

For the past few years, we've stuck to our own home for the winter holidays. Traveling is expensive, always crazy, and it's just not as fun for Santa to visit the kids in advance (or schlep presents elsewhere). But I always miss my mom's holiday tradition of decking out our childhood rooms. So I decided to pick it up and decorate our kids' rooms this year in the same way. The kids LOVE it (and you just might find me snuggled up in their flannel sheets too). Head over to The Land of Nod to see how I carried on this family tradition.

Friday, December 2, 2016

The Friday Five!!

Cooking -- ever since the kids lost their minds when I made vegetarian tacos, but then proceeded to down several of them each, I decided that all our tacos will have veggies in them. I mean, I'll pretty much eat anything wrapped in a tortilla too, so it makes sense. These Steak Fajitas with Chimichurri and Cucumber Salsa are a little time consuming, but when they eat even MORE veggies AND fruit in the tortilla, it's totally worth it.

Making -- did you catch our super cute (and free!) printable holiday coloring placemat on International Arrivals' blog yesterday?  I couldn't believe how much time the kids spent coloring them in.

Reading -- we started listening to Evil Spy School this week and everyone loves it. For some reason, the first Spy School audiobook wasn't available, so we started with the second. But we had no problem picking up there. I also started listening to 99% Invisible this week—it's a great podcast that focuses on design and architecture. And even though short podcasts bug me for the kids, it's good for me. If I get too roped in to a long episode, I'll sit outside listening to it instead of going in to work!

Playing -- this is a fun version of the family game that is easy for kids to get into on their own!

Wanting -- I need a new metallic clutch and I love this Loeffler Randall one with a tassel.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Creative Ideas for the Kids Holiday Table

I actually loved being at the kids table for holiday meals. We got sparkling grape juice in miniature wine goblets and tried to eat as many marshmallows off the sweet potatoes without eating any actual vegetables. But maybe that's just me. Our kids like being where the action is with the grownups, but when our big table is full, they too get sent over to the kids table. So I thought I'd come up with a few fun ways to keep them entertained and happy about it. Head over to the International Arrivals blog to see what I've got cooking—including a free holiday color-in placemat to download! 

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Easy Honey Dijon Skillet Chicken + 30 Days of Dinner!!

I've been in a real rut with chicken. I try to work it in the menu several times a week, but I feel like I just keep falling back on the same several recipes or get stuck making a more complicated recipe just to get more flavor. But this Easy Honey Dijon Skillet Chicken is super delicious, quick for a weeknight meal, and full of fall flavors. Give it a try if you're looking for a new weeknight headliner!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Ragnar Kjartansson at the Hirshhorn Museum

It's no secret that the Hirshhorn Museum is one of my most favorite museums in DC. And we've seen some seriously cool exhibits move through there (you can find lots of our past visits here). But the Ragnar Kjartansson exhibit was truly like nothing we've ever seen. It was so interactive and, just, alive—we were all completely mesmerized. I had heard plenty about the "gold lady" ahead of time and a few whisperings of another cool musical installation, but I wasn't really prepared for the whole experience. I knew it was going to be a lot of performance art, but knowing that and experiencing it are two totally different things.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Giving Back Advent Calendar

I love, love the holiday season. But every year I feel like I spend inordinate amounts of time making sure our family focuses on the real meaning of the holidays and not just the piles of presents rolling in. We celebrate both Hanukkah and Christmas in our home, so it's no small feat. The kids are always asking me for an Advent Calendar, but I've resisted. This year, I decided to try something different: a Giving Back Advent Calendar. Head over to Honest to Nod to see what I put together! 

Friday, November 18, 2016

The Friday Five!!

Although I think it's vitally important to continue addressing all of the serious things going on in our country right now, I am really looking forward to the holidays bringing a little extra joy and comfort around our house. Believe me, our family feels much of the negativity directly and continues to feel for those experiencing other difficulties that we don't too. But man I need something good to come along soon. And we did work in a few good things this week too -- check 'em out. 

Reading -- we are loving this sequel to Mr. Lemoncello's Library.

Making -- did you catch our DIY Gratefulness Banner? Free download and a good activity to keep kids busy while you cook! 

Wanting -- ummmmm, I absolutely need this Jonathan Adler gold marble dinnerware for Thanksgiving. 

Playing -- Pass the Pigs is one of my favorite childhood games and I love that Cam loves it now too. 

Cooking -- Half-baked Harvest's Greek Lamb Souvlaki Plates were out of this world. The kids both asked for them as leftovers the next night. 

Thursday, November 17, 2016

2017 Holiday Gift Guide for the Kiddos: 70+ Ideas of Things to Play and Read

The holiday catalogs have started arriving in droves and Black Friday is just around the corner! That means it's time to start thinking about holiday presents, but I thought I'd try something different for this year's Holiday Gift Guide. I love doing categories of presents (like last year's gift guide for the Little Art + Crafter, Young Builder, Starting Scientist, Beginning Traveler, and Budding Designer), but I thought it would be fun to re-group all of our Friday Five favorites of what we've been playing and reading for this year's guide. They are all tried, tested, and approved by Kane and Cam (and me). I simply listed them in the order we played or read them this year. So without further adieu, here's what we've loved from this year that we think would make perfect holiday gifts for your kiddos!

1. White Mountain puzzles 
2. LEGO Architecture Studio
3. Timeline Historical Events card game
4. Brain Quest cards
5. Twister 
6. Robot Turtles 
7. Rat-a-Tat Cat 
8. Zeus on the Loose 
9. Sushi Go 
10. Agricola 
11. Cinderella Uno 
12. Dragonwood
13. Zeus on the Loose 
14. Spy Gear 
15. Outfoxed
16. Clue 
17. Baba Yaga
18. Top Trumps Harry Potter
19. Don't Be Greedy 
20. Pokemon Trading Cards
21. Longhorn
22. Cranium Brain Breaks 
23. Magnatiles 
24. Sorry 
25. Just Desserts 
26. Enchanted Forest 
27. Set
28. Rush Hour 
29. Grimm's Wooden Mandala 

1. Rick Riordan's Magnus Chase series 
2. Seven Wonders series 
3. The Sherlock Files series 
4. The Secrets of Droon series
5. Septimus Heap series 
6. Blue Balliet's Hold Fast 
7. Blue Ballet's Pieces and Players
8. A to Z Mysteries series 
9. The Island of Dr. Libris 
10. Treasure Hunters series 
11. Benjamin Franklin Huge Pain in My ...
12. Lunch Money
13. The Boys in the Boat (Young Readers)
14. Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes
15. A Week in the Woods 
16. The Heartbreak Messenger 
17. Sasek Classics 
18. Magic Treehouse series 
19. The Worst Class Trip Ever 
20. Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales series 
21. Brick Fairy Tales + Greek Myths
22. Lunch Lady series
23. Enchanted Glass 
24. Mr. Chickees Funny Money
25. The Call of the Wild 
26. A Street Through Time
27. The Chronicles of Narnia 
28. Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library
29. The Unwanteds 
30. Treasure Island
31. I Funny series
32. Travels with Gannon and Wyatt series
33. Phillipa Fisher and the Fairy Godsister
34. How to Catch a Bogle 
35. The School Story
36. The Gutsy Girl 
37. Woods Runner 
38. Cam Jansen series 
39. House of Robots series 
40. Inkspell 
41. The Great Shelby Holmes
42. Frank Einstein series 
43. Bad Kitty series

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

DIY Thanksgiving Gratefulness Banner

Apparently this is just the week where we're going to pop up everywhere else around the interwebs! But I am really excited to share this particular project because I am really trying this holiday season to keep our kids focused on being grateful, spreading kindness, and helping out. So I made a printable Thanksgiving Gratefulness Banner over at International Arrivals' blog that you can download for free! We used the International Arrivals awesome Magic Puffy Pens to color in the graphic black and white pennant and write our own messages of gratefulness to add on each year. Share the love!

Monday, November 14, 2016

DIY Rainbow Hair Chalk

Cam is always after me to color her hair and I'm all for it. But I know well how it feels to take a leap with hair color and wake up the next morning with regret, so I have stayed away from permanent color with her. She finds hair clips annoying though so we decided to try out some bright hair chalk and LOVED it. Head over to Honest to Nod to see how we did it! 

p.s. I might have also tried to relive my own hot fuchsia hair days and colored a few of my own strands. My 21-year-old self sported a full head of pink curls with no problem, but my current self was glad it washed out the next morning.

Friday, November 11, 2016

The Friday Five!

For a whole variety of reasons, this week has just kind of been the worst. So, sorry for the lack of posts. In between drinking lots of wine and marathon CNN sessions, this is what else we did.

(FTR, the kids did not have any wine, but as this Onion article suggests, maybe I should have shared.)

Wanting -- I'm pretty sure our grocery delivery service thinks I have a La Croix addiction. Oh wait, I do.

Reading -- we are totally obsessed with the amazing podcast The Unexplainable Disappearance of Mars Patel. It's part Goonies, part Stranger Things, and completely hooked all of us. I love that kids are the actors and it is just really well produced. We binged the past episodes and are now wringing our hands waiting for next week's episode. Highly, HIGHLY recommend.

Making -- Kane has been studying bar graphs in school and he's obsessed. I dug out a pad of graph paper this week and our fave International Arrivals double-ended markers and he graphed pretty much everything that was in his room.

Cooking -- I knew we'd be glued to the TV on Tuesday for election coverage so I made this crockpot beef chili (and easy homemade soft pretzels) so that I wouldn't have to cook in the evening. I'm not sure what it is in particular about this recipe, but everyone declared it the best chili I'd made this year. I'll take that.

Playing -- I constantly feel like the kids are growing up overnight, so I love when they pull out "baby toys" to play with. Cam has totally graduated to LEGOs, but for some reason played with this old Duplo set for a whole afternoon this week.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

5 Tips to Get Kids Moving!

Is your whole fam feeling a little sluggish today? I'm right there with you. Fortunately I put together my favorite tips for keeping kids active and am sharing it over on the Fitcene blog today. For those of you not in the know, Fitcene is a community fitness movement located in Washington, DC and is a great source of fitness and wellness info for women no matter where you live. Check it out!

Friday, November 4, 2016

The Friday Five!

Did everyone have a great Halloween!? We had such a fun day filled with school parades, parties, and a great big group of us trick-or-treating. The kids had quite the haul this year, but I head to bed every night hoping that the candy bowl grows feet overnight and hits the road. Measures must be taken soon. Besides recovering from sugar shock, here's what else has been keeping us busy this week!

Playing -- I had an awesome wooden mosaic when I was young and I don't know for sure, but I suspect it was made by Grimm's because the colors were so unusual and I've only seen similar natural dyes put out by Grimm's. Cam has this large mandala and loves taking it apart, building 3-D scenes, and then rebuilding it as mosaic patterns. Always a good bet when she needs some down time, like recovering from Halloween.

Reading -- Kane started the Bad Kitty series this week and has been loving it. And our obsession with podcasts continues (especially because our new car doesn't have a CD player so we're checking out new free audiobook options) with The Radio Adventures of Dr. Floyd, which is sort of like listening to an evil carton genius battle his nemesis while learning about history in the process. The podcasts are on the shorter side (8-9 minutes) so we have to listen to a few on the way to school, but both kids are enjoying it.

Making -- did you spot the DIY Wooden Necklaces we did for International Arrivals this week? SO bright and fun.

Cooking -- I almost always forget to marinate flank steak ahead of time, but this Simple Sicilian-Style Grilled Steak only needs an hour to get the job done. Perfect for busy weeknights, plus it's DELICIOUS.

Wanting -- I haven't had a pair of UGGs for a few years -- I have a love/hate relationship with them. But I always miss how easy they are to throw on and off. They've stepped up their game recently with a few more stylish options and I think this pseudo-moto pair might do the trick this season.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

DIY Wooden Bead Necklaces

Cam and I made these bright wooden bead necklaces using International Arrivals' awesome Neon Chalkables Liquid Chalk Markers this week. Head over to the IA blog to see how we put these bright beauties together! 

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Fall Cardigan Must Haves

Right around now, when the weather actually starts to get cold, I start itching to get the kids new clothes. But since I already bought their fall clothes back before school started, they really don't need anything new. I do like adding an extra layer and changing up what they've got by adding in a few new cardigans though. For both of them. Cardigans are such a great way to add a fun print or color to an outfit and Kane in particular loves to feel like he's "dressing up" without wearing real fancy clothes to school that are sure to get ruined. Here are a few I'm eyeing for each of them ....

1 / 2 / 3 / 4 /

1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 

Friday, October 28, 2016

The Friday Five!

I am getting this week's Friday Five in just under the wire. It's been an insanely busy week, but I am really looking forward to some fam time this weekend. Here's the sweet and short lowdown on everything we've been up to in between the doctor's visits, playdates, homework, parent teacher conferences, dentist checkups, and freelance work.

Making -- DIY Halloween decorating has continued, but Cam also busted out some of the Little Loving Hands kits we'd been trying to get to. Art and giving back = happiness!

Reading -- this week we spent a lot of our "reading time" listening to stories. Last weekend I spent 2, 6-hour stints solo driving to upstate New York and back. And that meant I got to listen to 12 hours of This American Life and cycle through all kinds of emotions by my lonesome. I continued my binge this week and finally introduced the kids to podcasts as well -- they LOVED them. Their favorite this week was the science-centric Brains On! I think we'll loop them into our normal car audiobook routine and continue sharing our good finds here.

Cooking -- I have a tendency to be on the constant search for new amazing recipes and forget about meals we were all gaga over. I dug out the Shawarma-Spiced Chicken Pita with Tahini-Yogurt Sauce this week and we all fell in love all over again.

Wanting -- this sweatshirt just seems to appropriate for this week, but something tells me that my face read similarly, so this might be overkill.

Playing -- a few years ago we did a review and giveaway of local toymaker Thinkfun's Rush Hour, Jr. The kids have continued to love it and we recently invested in the next level of Rush Hour -- a great logic game!

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Dia de los Muertos Party Inspiration!

I have been trying for year, YEARS, to get my kids to have a Dia de los Muertos party (remember our mono prints?!). Or at least dress as a sugar skull for Halloween. I never get any takers. But I keep rounding ideas up in hopes they'll bite one year, so I figured I'd share them!

1. I'd leave papel de picado up all year long and this set of skulls is perfect for Dia de los Muertos.

2. I came across this table runner a few years ago and haven't been able to get it out of my head. Now who wants to make one for me?!

3. I usually like to make my own arts and craft projects, but OTC is a great place to find projects for a large group of kids and I love this little tissue paper craft.

4. Sugar skulls AND edible confetti!?

5. The kids love horchata and bubble tea, so I have to think this combo would be a winner!

6. A honeycombed wall is such an easy way to brighten up the party.

7. I tend to second-guess photo booths, but the kids always seem to LOVE them. Set one up fast with these great props!

8. I don't think it's a party without striped straws and I think Cam would love to make some tissue paper flowers to add!

9. I think it would be super fun to make some of these cinnamon cookies and let the kiddos decorate them with edible decorating pens.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Sheet Pan Sticky Pomegranate Chicken and Honey Roasted Squash + 30 Days of Dinner!!

I feel like we're slowly putting back together our clean eating habits. It's meant a few more throw together dinners, brinners, and better dining out discipline than normal, but it's been working. My goal is to really keep it as steady as I can through the holidays and then do another Whole30 in the new year. We'll see how it goes! As for this last 30 days, I ended up making a serious number of successful dinners for the family. I didn't cook every night, but it felt like every night I did, they liked better than the night before. Not a bad place to be. The one I decided the share, though, was one of my own favorites. Sometimes I find that I get in a rut with chicken recipes that are clean -- they all kind of end up tasting the same. But this was a new one for me, full of seasonal flavors. And the kids loved it too.

Sheet Pan Sticky Pomegranate Chicken and Honey Roasted Squash
(modified slightly from Half Baked Harvest

- 1/2 cup sweet Thai chili sauce (if you're Paleo and can't find a prepared version that works, try whipping this up)
- 1/4 cup pomegranate juice
- 1/4 cup Tamari (or other gluten free soy sauce)
- 1 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled + grated
- 1 clove garlic, minced or grated
- 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 1 acorn or kabocha squash, seeded + sliced into half rounds
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp honey
- salt + pepper
- aerils from 1 pomegranate

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Make the pomegranate sticky glaze. In a medium bowl, combine the sweet Thai chili sauce, pomegranate juice, soy sauce, ginger, and garlic.

Toss the chicken with 1/2 of the pomegranate sticky sauce (reserve the rest for serving) and place on one end of a parchment lined baking sheet. Toss the squash with olive oil, honey, salt, and pepper and place on the other end of the baking sheet.

Transfer to the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and the squash is tender (mine took more like 35 minutes). Halfway through cooking, rotate the pan and spoon any sauce that has settled on the bottom of the pan over the chicken. Turn on the broiler and crispy up the tops just a bit -- about 5 minutes.

Remove from the oven and sprinkle the pomegranate arils over the chicken. Serve the chicken and squash over rice or cauliflower rice drizzled with the remaining reserved pomegranate sticky sauce. Garnish with pomegranate aerils.

*          *          *

30 Days of Dinner

Day 1 (W) -- Omelettes, Perfect Fluffy Crispy Potatoes (I skipped the nutritional yeast), and Grilled Romaine with Bacon and Blue Cheese
Day 2 (Th) -- Slow-Cooked Bolognese over spaghetti squash, green salad
Day 3 (F) -- dinner out
Day 4 (Sat) -- dinner out
Day 5 (Sun) -- Lamb Meatballs with Feta, Olives, and Lemon and Cauliflower Tabbouleh 

Day 6 (M) -- leftovers 
Day 7 (T) -- grilled steak fajitas 
Day 8 (W) -- brinner
Day 9 (Th) -- One Pan Pesto Chicken + Veggies, kids also had pasta
Day 10 (F) -- dinner out
Day 11 (Sat) -- dinner out in Chicago
Day 12 (Sun) -- dinner out in Chicago 

Day 13 (M) -- brinner
Day 14 (T) -- Chicken Breast Sautéed in Sweet Red Onion + Lemon (sans sugar), roasted potatoes, salad 
Day 15 (W) -- Massaged Kale Salad with Cherries, Pistachios, and Grilled Steak (cherries are out of season, so I subbed in cherry tomatoes and it was still delish).
Day 16 (Th) -- leftovers
Day 17 (F) -- Slow Cooker Carnitas with regular salsa 
Day 18 (Sat) -- dinner out
Day 19 (Sun) -- dinner out 

Day 20 (M) -- Grilled Chicken, Burst Tomato, and Artichoke Skewers with Goat Cheese Dip (skip dip if you're dairy free) 
Day 21 (T) -- Slow Cooker Cholulua Shredded Beef Tacos -- everyone LOVED these -- hardly any leftovers! 
Day 22 (W) -- Cabernet Braised Short Rib Stew -- another HUGE family fave. Such a good comfort food din. 
Day 23 (Th) -- dinner out 
Day 24 (F) -- Sheet Pan Sticky Pomegranate Chicken + Honey Roasted Squash 
Day 25 (Sat) -- dinner out 
Day 26 (Sun) -- dinner out 

Day 27 (M) -- Stifatho (Greek Stew)  
Day 29 (W) -- brinner
Day 30 (Th) -- Slow Cooker Cholulua Shredded Beef Tacos -- told you everyone loved them. 

Friday, October 21, 2016

The Friday Five!

Between the presidential election ridiculousness, a sudden need for a new family car (and a corresponding need to locate all documents to our old family car), a trip to the dentist (I HATE the dentist), and a few more non-glorious things that I won't complain about, I'm freaking glad it's Friday.  Here's the good news from us this week, though .... 

Making -- you might have seen on Instagram that our Halloween decorations are underway. We've done two waves of store bought and now the kids are filling in with DIY. Additional gravestones have been a priority for both kiddos, and they've been loving these Chalk-O-Rama Dustless Chalk Crayons -- the colors are so rich and they go on smoothly on pretty much any surface, including our spray-painted cardboard gravestones. 

Playing -- the kids both really got into Kane's math game this week: Set. His was a slightly different version they handed out at school, but this SET game is basically the same. It was challenging, but in a fun way and the kids both loved when they found a set faster than me. 

Reading -- I just started Love May Fail this week and the kids and I started another series from one of our favorite authors, Jon Scieszka: Frank Einstein.

Cooking -- these Slow Cooker Cholula Shredded Beef Tacos went over like gangbusters in our house. Kane had three adult servings and there were basically no leftovers after just one dinner with our family. 

Wanting -- we don't really need new bedding, but in my ongoing quest to marbleize everything, I think I should probably pick these up

Thursday, October 20, 2016

National Gallery of Art: Renovated East Building Galleries

We have been anxiously awaiting the re-opening of the National Gallery of Art's East Building Galleries. The East Building has been closed for the past three years while over 12,000 square feet of space were added to feature modern and contemporary art. I took the kiddos this week to check it all out and it didn't disappoint. The renovation itself is beautiful and adds so much gorgeous natural light space, including a fabulous rooftop sculpture area.

We raced down one day after school and spent the last two hours that the museum was open exploring the top two floors of the building, starting at the rooftop. With the exception of our trip to the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, it's actually been a while since the kids and I spent a good bit of time at an art museum. And I was so completely astonished with how much they've grown up. To start, Kane can completely read all of the placards and exhibit descriptions, which made a huge difference in his interest. He loved exploring and reporting back, explaining what he'd learned.

They were also able to recognize favorite artists and discuss in so much more detail their thoughts about particular pieces of art. We've certainly come along way since I first took Cami to the National Gallery more than five years ago and all she really wanted to do in front of the modern art was play with her new set of blocks (which she still has!).

Needless to say, we are all totally smitten with the new digs and can't wait to go back to see the other floors!

p.s. one more of the giant blue rooster, which is so gorgeously rich in color and texture and Cam squealed when she spotted it overlooking DC when we were down on the street after.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Scotland + Ireland: Belfast Day 10

Ohmagaaaah. It's taken me forever to get to sharing our last day in Ireland. Partly because fall has been crazy, somewhat because I took a gazillion photos that day, and mostly because I still haven't completely processed that day or figured out exactly how I wanted to share it. But at the risk of forgetting many important details, I figured I'd forge ahead.

We spent our last day of the entire trip taking a road trip up to Northern Ireland. I had mixed feelings about taking the kids. I was a little worried that by the end of our trip they'd be OVER road tripping. And I was worried about how to appropriately share with them the inevitable subject matter we'd encounter on our trip north. But I was incredibly glad that we took them. Once we decided to go, I also wanted to tack on an additional jaunt up to see The Giant's Causeway, which looks insanely cool and right up their alley. But we ended up spending so much time in Belfast that another stop just wasn't possible. Another thing to add on our return list to do, but I actually think we were all emotionally spent from Belfast anyway, so if we did The Giant's Causeway we would have needed a night in between to regroup.

We hired a guide through a Black Cab Tour company and ended up getting a really thought provoking, insightful (while still humorous) tour of the city. We started out stopping at the neutral city hall, and getting a peek at the outside of the new Titanic Belfast Museum (the site where the Titanic was built) and the Game of Thrones sound stage (many of the show's scenes are filmed there).

Then our guide drove us to the Protestant side of the city first, stopping at various points along the way to show us particular sites of interest, including the actual wall that still divides the city (and is locked at nights and over weekends). He provided a great overview of "The Troubles" as well as giving us his own thoughts about how the country is working to heal. It was pretty insane to see it all in person and we all struggled to understand how this kind of divide exists today. I know full well that divisive hatred exists in the U.S. as well, but no one in our family is used to seeing such overt physical representations of that on a daily basis (and the kids might not recognize it as such anyway). The kids had a tough time comprehending it at the beginning, but I actually think visiting the murals, walls, and memorials was a good way of bringing the concept home for all of us.

We stopped at one point along the Freedom Wall to contribute our own thoughts, and then moved on to the Catholic side of the city. We made a brief stop at a church to light a candle for my very Irish grandmother who passed last summer, and then continued looking at more murals about the conflict.

Our tour guide finished up by dropping us at the wonderful St. George's Market where we wanted to grab a quick lunch. The market was starting to close up when we arrived, but we were still able to snag some delicious lunch from various vendors, listen to some local music, and do a bit of shopping. We could have spent much more time there if we'd had it!

After lunch, we walked our way over to The Crown Liquor Saloon, one of Belfast's oldest pubs that sports pretty incredible Victorian gin palace design and decor. Kids aren't allowed in the pub, so they did a little roaming about with their grandparents while the rest of us grabbed a last pint. We all sadly piled back in the van to return to Dublin for our last night. Everyone was taking off at different times the next day and we very sadly said our final goodbyes before packing up and hitting the sack!

It was such an absolutely fantastic vacation and both Ireland and Scotland will remain on our wanderlust lists for return trips!

That does it for our Scotland + Ireland posts!