April is going out with a bang – this last stretch of the month is so busy and full. The little guy just had a fun school vacation with a visit from the teen nephews, playing with the grandparents, and also some time home while we worked. Double duty is tiring. He’s starting baseball too. Work has so many things coming up – virtual and in-person events and then the timing of hitting deadlines and a lot to happen in prep for May & June ending Q4.
I started an occasional apps for dinner theme, kicked off with cranberry & brie phyllo cups They couldn’t be easier and I included a whole bunch of alternatives and uses for leftovers. We did apps-as-dinner again on Easter after hosting brunch. It is also a great excuse to have lots of great cheese around.
May will definitely have some quick meals between baseball practices and nights we’d rather have after-work-playground time. Early spring flavors make me think of lemon and warm-and-cool.
The Little Girl: She is happy for bike rides and is looking forward to baseball spectating. Daily she envisions the beach trip. She’s definitely having her 3-year-old moments of resisting and digging her heels in. She never wants to take a bathroom break. She was a bit scarred from an Easter Egg event when it rained, then hailed, then was sunny, then rain, then hail. We raced to the car for the second round and she was not impressed. Meals have been a bit smoother.
The Big Guy: He was thrilled to play nerf with the teen cousins. His fav home lunch is always always always peanut butter and nutella. He still loves hardboiled eggs. I love seeing him being so strong and confident on his bike. He had chosen his scooter over the bike for awhile but he’s got his confidence and I’m proud to see it.
March is on the way out and in comes April. I’m excited for Easter and the next season and I love the daylight! I like to usher out one season for the next, but I loathe talking about the weather – moreso I guess I’m not interested in people complaining about the weather to me.
This month in a spirit of variety, I made these Thanksgiving Hot Wraps with deli turkey, stuffing, cranberries, and greens and the best part is burrito-izing it. So good – and much more appreciated outside of Thanksgiving time.
I also made Nutella Chia Pudding with Strawberries which requires the make-ahead brainspace but it is breakfast your tomorrow will thank you for. I looove the nutella flavor with the strawberries.
I gave a revamp to Gyro-Style Wraps with hummus, chicken sausage, fries, and tomatoes.
To wrap up the month I did a mine vs. theirs for Pasta with Shrimp or Chicken and Blistered Tomatoes. I did shrimp, the rest had chicken. After I made it I thought about how good it would have been with a crunchy lemony breadcrumb topping. Do it! I’m envisioning that showing up another way.
What’s next? Hmm I’m thinking about ideas for Easter brunch foods and I just did apps for dinner one night and feel like that might be a new tradition.
The Little Girl: She’s psyched that it is sandbox season again! She’s awaiting picnic time and wants to eat at a restaurant. We’ve cut her off of Oreos since it is confirmed she just eats the filling. She’s very into the thermos lunches but said to stop with the cheeese sticks – where my girl, do you expect to get some protein?
The Big Guy: He’s had fun playing with school-friends. I feel like it’s asking somebody on a date but worth it to see him connecting with others. He just started a lego extracurricular class – so legos, after school with other kids, what could be better?
I love love love grain bowls and the inspiration for Cobb Salad Rice Bowls was to winterize a salad. Plus, the build-your-own aspect gives everyone a bit of what they like (me = arugula, littles = cucumber).
We made these cute little Greek Chicken Turnovers for dinner with hummus, chicken, tomato, oregano, and creamy caesar dressing. We had them with a little orzo/tomato/cuke/feta salad.
The Little Girl: She’s always packing backpacks with all the toys & books that’ll fit. We saw her do a lot of sock-skating around the house this month too. Lunches packed for daycare have been a struggle – she cannot be fooled with peanut-less pb.
The Big Guy: He’s currently enjoying school vacation. He really likes school but appreciates getting to stay in pjs longer, and of course more play time at home. He’s 100% into hard boiled eggs right now. All of us have been enjoying nerf battles.
Goals: Year of nail polish! I got a brick red (this one) More international food inspiration: Greek turnovers & a little “international night” for the Olympics! More soups/salads: We had blackbean soup that was so so easy. More apps: some for the Olympics and some for the superbowl! More fun drinks: tea – this one is my new obsession Updating photos: nope What I’m reading: I read Interior Chinatown by Charles Yu for bookclub – it was ok. Then I read Anne of Manhattan by Bria Starler which was more romance-novel-ish than I expected. Somebody’s Daughter by Ashley Ford was amazing, and powerful – a must read. What I’m watching: all Olympics, all the time. We were grateful for more sleep once they ended. What I’m listening to: showtunes with my workouts!
January went by quickly! The little boy is 7! I got to work remotely a lot and we were thrilled for some snow for sledding and ice skating. I had so much joy from one single trip ice skating. It felt like an awakening and that we were more solidly in a state of kids versus toddlers. Just going ice skating where each kid could kind of do the activity without as much from us as parents felt like a shift. Getting back to something we haven’t done in years, outside, on a pond….it was magical. I loved it.
I’m in the minority for this dinner, but I stand by it. French Onion Manicotti was so good – I know, I ate the leftovers for days. The fam was not whole heartedly into this one but I liked the flavors and a twist out of the ordinary.
Olympics and Superbowl snacks are ahead for me! I’m so excited. I have one sweet treat planned for Valentine’s Day.
The Little Girl: She’s so hit or miss on meals. Either she’s all in or takes a few bites and doesn’t care about more. Cheese is always a safe bet. I couldn’t believe how much quinoa she ate one night. This girl powered through T’s birthday cake. She love love loves her babies and stuffed animals. She is going to loooove Valentine’s Day since she folding her pictures into “cards” is a pastime of hers and she loves envelopes.
The Big Guy: He had such a fun birthday! We did a family party and his ideas as a chicken nugget eating contest. He ate 14! Claire ate 5! Wow! Grandma made a Pokemon logo cake. He got nerf stuff and is loving it. He’s still eating hard boiled eggs most breakfasts. He really loved sledding and he’s very into going to the library.
Goals: Year of nail polish! I got a deep moody navy (this one) More international food inspiration: nope – unless we count our homemade crunchwraps? More soups/salads: We had cheeseburger soup and crescents with sesame seeds! More apps: not really, but Winter Olympics and the Super Bowl are coming. More fun drinks: tea! Updating photos: not this month. What I’m reading: I read Bad Muslim Discount and it was incredible. I slogged through Vanderbilt: The Rise and Fall of an American Dynasty – I love Anderson Cooper but skip the book, or maybe listen to it. Hola Papi: How to Come Out in a Walmart Parking Lot and Other Life Lessons was so fun for a perspective I don’t automatically see – a self-help writer for LGBTQ dating sites from small-town Oklahoma. What I’m watching: Project Runway What I’m listening to: I really missed all the podcasts who were on break for December.
December is such a blur. It was a fun month but busy and a bit emotionally heavy and uneasy- a lot at work, too many Covid cases in the world, plans too TBD for me, and I really enjoy this season but also like to look forward too.
Pizza Beans were a bit of a re-do and we love it for a quick dinner with lots of options. The leftovers are great, though it is also an ideal way to use up little bits of leftovers.
Last but not least, I made a lasagna with Sausage & Pesto Lasagna was so so good and a nice change from a tomato-sauce lasagna.
Before we get into 2022, NYE is sliders & frappes – our tradition for 7 years running!
The Little Girl: She forgot about what Santa does – for a while she was planning to ask Santa to bring “a cookie with green on it”. She asked for a puzzle and really enjoyed the holidays. She was thrilled to get 2 babies (a Bitty Baby named Winnie and a Cabbage Patch Kid) and she loved a package of undies and lots of bath toys.
The Big Guy: He was torn what to ask Santa for – he ended up asking for Pokemon cards and now has a whole bunch. He looooves some Beyblades and legos. The cookie season brings him lots of joy. He’s been not interested in cheese – weird.
Goals: Year of nail polish! I got a neutral pink (this one – it is nicely solid and not streaky like an essie one I had.) More international food inspiration: hmmm. I’m not sure I did. More soups/salads: We had broccoli & cheddar soup. Seems like chowder or chili are in order. More apps: We had an app party for Christmas Eve, a candy cane caprese salad – a smear of pesto plus the tomato/mozz. More fun drinks: nope, but maybe NYE? Updating photos: Pizza Beans! An update from Tomato, Basil, Polenta Bean Bowls What I’m reading: I read The Night Watchmen and wasn’t into it. Then, I read We Are Not Like Them and loooooved it – one of the best of I read this year. A cute NYE one was This Time Next Year. What I’m watching: All the Christmas movies! Our must-sees are Christmas with the Kranks, Christmas Vacation, and Home Alone. What I’m listening to: still loving the American Girls podcast.
I love November – Thanksgiving is one of my favorites. I make fun-but-easy breakfast (cinnamon rolls from a tube & bacon!), and we watch the Thanksgiving Day parade in pjs, and I love the early-dinner and the food. The day has a casual mood and we all just mill about together. It is great. I do not do Christmas things until Black Friday, so it is fun for me to usher out one holiday to welcome in the next.
This month I made Caesar Broccoli which is so so good and I hope it is on your future menu – it is perfect alongside any entrée. Make with ham! Grilled Chicken! Sausages! Pasta! You name it. The kids loved it once and didn’t care either way the next time, so give it a whirl!
If you’re planning your leftovers, whip up some Thanksgiving Nachos! In all honesty, I used roasted chicken when making these before Thanksgiving and can whole heartedly encourage either way!
My blog turned 11! I set a few new goals and awarded my own superlatives.
The Little Girl: She’s becoming more self-sufficient all the time. I love seeing her grow up and it is funny to see old videos of her as a tiny toddler now that she’s such a kid. Decisions are based on whatever her brother has or is doing and she loves him so so much. I promised next year when she’s 4, we’ll go see the Nutcracker – then days later she asked about seeing the cracker show. 😉 She’s been pretty into hummus lately and has been eating quite well lately – knock on wood.
The Big Guy: He finished his soccer season. It was fun and also endearing to see them improve (go the right direction/pay attention). I don’t mind a practice night and a game day off our schedules. He got his first vax dose! Hallelujah! He’s super into trading Pokemon cards on the bus and at school. This kid loves canned cranberry sauce more than anyone I’ve ever met. I had to ensure there was plenty for others at Thanksgiving. He normally eats some of everything so we’ll see what he’s into this year. For breakfasts he has been obsessed with hard boiled eggs.
Goals: Year of nail polish! I got a deep redish one (this one – the bottle looks more purpley than it comes out to be) More international food inspiration: does Diwali lunch at work count? More soups/salads: I made a super quick tomato soup for dinner one night More apps:Thanksgiving Nachos! More fun drinks:Apple Cider & Vanilla Tea Hot Cocktail Updating photos on some old posts: not yet, stay tuned! What I’m reading: I read The Last Story of Mina Lee which was a mix of true-crime versus mother/daughter relations versus immigration story. It was pretty good. Bookclub read Midnight Library. I liked the fantastical element of between life & death and the themes of regret or what-if was pretty good. I didn’t love it like the masses did, but pretty good. What I’m watching: We finished the Impeachment: An American Crime series. We were fascinated and it was fantastic. I loooove a deep dive into something that happened in my lifetime that I do not have the full story on. Next up will be Christmas movies! What I’m listening to: loving the American Girls podcast to look at the literary merits or deficits of the books, and The Dropout because Elizabeth Holmes is mind boggling.
Most Insta-popular: Not blogged, but the Olympics food was a hit on Instagram. Duley noted. Winter 2022 is coming right up and I have LOTS OF IDEAS.
Most Likely to Succeed:French Onion Soup Burger – this one is so so so good. There were a few burgers this year and this was the clear winner. French onion soup mix and caramelized onions plus some really great cheese made this additionally special.
Most Popular: Pineapple Coconut Rice with a honey teriyaki drizzle. This is such a crowd pleaser and works great with pulled pork, chicken thighs, or kielbasa. I like the hint to a tropical vibe, but is so great year-round.
Goals for next year: Year of the ______: this past year has been year of fun mail. The year before I thought I’d do plants/flowers but quickly dropped that. It really became a year of treat for myself each month. This year, I’m going to do a year of nail polish! Some of mine are embarrassingly old. I loved some more elaborate ideas but want to stay true to easy to find and something for me – my kiddos are treated to things all the time. More international food inspiration: take out or make my own. More soups/salads: this is kind of seasonal so it seems useful to reach towards but might not always happen. More apps: I’ve done this before and love it – esp when it becomes dinner 😉 More fun drinks Updating photos on some old posts What I’m reading: I read 40 books this year! Wow! I love books and keep adding to my list to always be ready for my next. What I’m watching: maybe more movies?
October has been a whirlwind! Work has been super busy- pandemic alumni weekend and family weekend events are no joke- and our weekends have some more other things keeping us a bit busier than recent times as we do all the things outside! I’m grateful for some normalcy for tiny things like daycare painted pumpkins and leaf pile play. October was good in the kitchen too – just some of those days of: hmm. I planned soup but it is almost 80-degrees…
We made this super fun hot dog pizza that not all followers said they would try, but we thought was good and probably once-a-year fun:
Then I did a chicken, bacon, ranch burrito that is just perfect. It feels filling from the brown rice and chicken then melty cheddar makes it burrito-y and of course there is ranch dressing and bacon for that perfect pairing, and some greens for freshness. So good. I froze some and already wish there were more stashed away. Make some now and you’ll thank me later on a busy weeknight. I defrost in the micro and toast in the toaster oven to finish for a much better packed lunch.
Then I gave the Parisian Burger some photo updates from the original one in 2014. I had made it a bunch to practice the cooking competition timing and wasn’t interested in making it again anytime soon – and perhaps I was bitter that I didn’t take home the big prize.
Next month I have a side dish that was a winner once and neither of the kids cared the second time – so take that for what it is worth. Then I’ll blog a fun dinner that the kids gobble up and my blogaversary where I’ll set some new goals and declare some superlatives from the year.
The Little Girl Her imagination is coming alive and I love the reasoning behind her made up play- from what dolls are doing to what she pretends in the leaf pile, it is too cute. She’s totally protested eating dinner a few times which I think it just the authority of being 3 years old. She loves pasta and can eat her weight in pizza. I was surprised that she was into sesame oil/rice vinegar cucumber salad one night. She’s excited for halloween but doesn’t remember trick or treating. That will make it even more exciting! Last year we didn’t go and the kids wore costumes and found candy hidden around the basement – a la easter egg hunt. Before that she was 1 1/2 so trick or treating was more of a spectator sport in the stroller for her.
The Big Guy: Soccer is going well and he’s quite happy going to school and being home in the afternoons or whatever. He’s gotten better at communicating what he wants (or doesn’t want) his little sister to do. He looooves the leaf pile. His very fav fig bars were back at Costco which makes breakfast decisions so much faster. He lost his 2 front teeth! It is so so cute. He saved some dollars and picked out a few new hotwheels cars. Pokemon card trading is big time with the first graders at his school.
Goals: Year of the fun mail! I thought of a card to get out just at the end of Oct! More breakfasts: nope Lunches coordinated or prepped in advance: I made a quiche and some burritos for the freezer which was helpful. I’d like to get the house a bit neater: I’ve been clearing some surfaces, nothing major. Bullet journal – yup, keeping a meals list. What I’m reading: I read Know My Name for bookclub and looooved it – let’s get Chanel Miller famous for her writing instead of Brock Turner who got off easy for being a white male. I read Meet Me in Bombay and really flew through the story. I was “ehhh” on Things We Lost to Water. What I’m Watching: Instead of MLB playoffs, I watched a CNN docuseries on Diana. I also devoured LulaRich and was fascinated! That one is a must-watch.
I love September though this one was a bit of a rollercoaster! There were some real highs: our 10th wedding anniversary! T started 1st grade! The lows were all the Covid cases in first grade and quarantining…2x and going remote and postponing other fun things. We’re wrapping up the month quarantined – again. This time the entire class was sent home. Are we done yet???! I’m psyched for October and Halloween!
This month was a good one in the kitchen! I love love loved this French Onion Soup Burger. All that melty cheese in the middle and on top!
Oct will have some fun ones. Wait till you see this pizza coming up! I have an old post to give a face-lift and some fun ones. Work is full force – especially for September and October.
The Little Girl She loves being back to daycare and having grandparent days! Her favorite things to do are playing outside and playing games that her big brother makes up for them! Her fav foods are pb and cheese. I get a kick out of giving her something, like an egg, when she resists, then eats it and says “Ohh I loooove eggs”. She likes tasting all the ingredients.
The Big Guy: School started well and he loved the bus. I wish we heard more from him. It is hard to tell how he feels about anything. I try not to pepper questions and lately have had some luck with: what surprised you today? what do you wish didn’t happen today? what made you laugh today? what was delicious today? what felt hard today? etc. only asking a few. He’s playing soccer and despite having to miss some, so far so good! He loves school lunch, hard boiled eggs, and all the pasta.
Goals: Year of the fun mail! I thanked the teacher & principal for a little preview we got from the playground to ease the first day. More breakfasts: ehh. not really Lunches coordinated or prepped in advance: Having the standby of turkey/cheese/arugula is helpful! I’d like to get the house a bit neater: Bullet journal – yup, keeping a meals list. What I’m reading: I read Malibu Rising and worried since it was so hyped but I loved it (though the author’s Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo is still the best)! For bookclub, we read This is How it Always is and it might be the best one I read all year. Next was Dear White Peacemakers and really appreciated it. Then I read Share Your Stuff, I’ll Go First – it was ok. What I’m Watching: I got all caught up on Million Little Things awaiting the return. We watched a few movies with the kids: Toy Story 2 & Rio 2 & Jungle Book.
Howwwww is summer ending? Wayy back in the late spring, we cobbled together a mix of summer camps for when Kindergarten let out and got a schedule together of grandparent care for the little one. Now we’re getting ready for back to school! We did all the summer things – as I post from our beach vacay.
Summer was hard with changes at work, some good camps – another not-so-good. The pup has consistently not been 100% and I just ordered more masks because somehow we’re still going through this. August was a good month in the kitchen though!
Then we made a Crab Rangoon Pizza that was fantastic but was hit or miss with you all! Crab filling, a cream cheese sauce, crispy wontons and duck sauce! What’s not to love?
For a super quick dinner we made crispy chicken sandwiches with peach topping. The chicken tender makes it decadant and a crowd pleaser, the fresh arugula is quite optional, and the peach topping? relish? compote? whatever you want to call it, is delicious. It is only a tiny bit sweet from the peach – the oil/vinegar, the tomatoes, and the onions keep it really on the savory side. The kiddos ate it just like this too.
I’m not sure what September has in store – our refrigerator is at a questionably working state. We’re awaiting a part because we don’t love the replacement options. It is annoying.
The Little Girl She started back to daycare a few days a week and loves it! We are so proud of how grown up she is getting! She loves corn on the cob and ice cream. We are seriously impressed by her coloring. Her birthday was fun! We swam, had a cake decorated like crayons, and grilled. She loved it!
The Big Guy: He is really into the Magic Treehouse Books and will listen endlessly. It is so fun to see what he chooses at the library- a lot of Lego ones, all the super heros, and non-fiction. I’m so glad to be done with camps – the last one wasn’t a fit and it is heartbreaking to feel unsure how it is going. He doesn’t complain which doesn’t make it better – we don’t get much from him so it is hard to support him. We think he must be growing! We are psyched for first grade though it is a new school, the bus, and a new routine.
Goals: Year of the fun mail! I think I missed it in Aug. More breakfasts: Lemonade Pancakes! Lunches coordinated or prepped in advance: I need to get back on it. I’d like to get the house a bit neater: Bullet journal – still keeping a meals list. What I’m reading: I read the Firekeeper’s Daughter thought it was page turning and so well crafted then I read Crying in H Mart which was an interesting perspective I don’t know relate to and then I read People We Meet on Vacation which wasn’t great for me – another title I’ve read of hers was much more my vibe and Delicious! was a fun one – especially as a work of fiction from a usual restaurant critic. What I’m Watching: Back to a few after Olympics took over our lives.