Tuesday, December 27, 2016

New Year

Christmas and New Years look a little different now than they used to.  There's no long traveling days and flurried packing and sadness leaving our tree on it's own hundreds of miles away.  But there's also no full week off for Ian.  He's loving his new job but the time off is built up so these first years are feeling tight on long family vacations.  We'll get there.

In the meantime I get this week to myself with the kids.  Right now that means staying up while Ainsley putzes around in her room until almost 11 and getting up with Felix at 6:20 to help him find his new favorite batman mask and costume because he just can't start the day properly without them (I get it bud, for me it's coffee and a plan).

To be honest I'm excited about this week.  The kids got so many wonderful new things to do and play with.  We spent all day yesterday (the day after Christmas) building and creating and napping (for me!).  I read 1/3 of the first Harry Potter book to the girls and if Ainsley had her way I'd have read the whole thing straight through. (When Louise woke up this morning she told me excitedly about a great dream she had about Hagrid...success!)

I LOVE seeing their interests so honed in on this Christmas.  Ainsley is particularly enamored with all of the doll goodies and medical things she received.  From Santa she got the American Girl diabetes kit and arm crutches and from her Aunt she got a playmobile hospital and between those two she was occupied for 5 hours yesterday.  Louise's favorite so far is a paint set she received from Grammy.  The paintings look so professional and her hands are adorably stained from her hard work. She's also IN LOVE with her new Wellie Wishers doll Emerson. As I mentioned Felix is SO into his new superhero duds.  It's so funny to me that Ian and I made this little uber boy.  Santa brought him the Millenium Falcon, that plus his new Rescue Bots, giant Firetruck, and read aloud super hero books are pretty much all he wants in life.

I feel odd not having a knitting project on my needles at the moment.  I have a few baby things I could knit, and I've been wanting to make myself a winter hat, but for some reason the motivation to start isn't there.  I'm putting a lot of my mental energy towards this yoga program I'm doing, that and trying to stay away from sugar and treats to up the effectiveness of the daily yoga seems about all I can muster!

Ian got me Molly on the Range for Christmas and I want to make nearly everything in it.  This woman and her recipes appear to be the combination of everyone and everything in my life.  Born in the north suburbs of Chicago (my parents!) to a Jewish mother (Julie and Sim and Rory) and a Chinese dad (yum cuisine!) moved to New York for school, married a Scandinavian man (Ian + his entire side of the family), moved back to midwest (north Dakota/Minnesota) and currently lives on a chicken farm writing her food blog (pretty much my life dream).
Ian's hankering after the cauliflower shawarma and I'm super excited about the wild rice hot dish, homemade dumplings, and Israeli Shakshuka, among many other things.

I'm still really trying to revamp my meal planning, mainly sticking to the meal plan.  It's been really hard to shake the take out habit.  By the end of the week I am so over cooking and cleaning up after cooking that pizza just sounds so much easier.

I'm slowly remembering that keeping simple pantry staples is enough to throw something together most nights.  Last night I made crepes stuffed with leftover ham from Ainsley's birthday and roasted cauliflower, from the veggies tray on her birthday, topped with a simple cheese sauce (recipe for that and the crepes from my Moosewood cookbook).

I've really liked having a soup in the fridge for easy healthy lunches this winter.  Yesterday I made a batch of lentil soup (also from moosewood) and love that it was so simple (made just from pantry ingredients) and super healthy.

Today I am hoping for a slow morning, getting a few things done, getting out a bit, and lots of fun family together time.

I hope you all have a great week bridging these two fun holiday weekends!

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Christmas week

I was up with Ian this morning, a rarity for me.  Now it's 6:30 and I'm showered and checked email and had coffee, and...now what?

December has been great so far.  Lots of fires and treat making, snow playing, book reading, wrapping paper making, things in Santa Mug sipping.  It's perfect.

I am so excited for Christmas this weekend. I'm like a  kid at Christmastime.  I love the excitement and the surprises and all of the anticipation and preparation.  This year my one big regret is not planning better with Ainsley to help her make gifts.  That girl has such loft expectations (trying to sew shirts for everyone!) I want to help her achieve her goals of giving in a realistic way for us both.

One thing I'm loving this year is letting go even more of having to do it all in time for Christmas.  Everyone will have something to open. We will all have PLENTY of treats.  But the decorated gingerbread may have to change into stars to make a January garland (or hearts for Valentine's day?!) The Christmas theater outing will have to be a late winter outing (I do HAVE To find a Nutcracker that won't break the bank for next year though, the girls were disappointed).  I don't have to buy and wrap every single great idea I had.  I can save things for when they need them, remembering that it's so fun a special to get things "just because" throughout the year.
I'm even trying to let go of Ainsley's birthday a bit.  She's reached the age where she's a bit sad that her birthday is shared with Christmas so we're waiting on her friend party until later in January.  I think it will be a good thing for us all.  Letting go.

This week is shaping up to be full but manageable (I hope!) Felix's preschool program yesterday was adorable and today and tomorrow are the girls' holiday parties in the afternoons.  I've spent the morning looking up some last minute crafts that the kids could make because Ainsley is desperate so I may go get some supplies with Felix today.  Last minute elving is the best!

I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas week!

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Too Long! Fun New Food

I cannot believe that it has been over a month since a post.  Oops.  The truth is that my tiny macbook air is full and my phone is full and I just need to motivate to clear everything off so that I can take photos again.  Sad but true.  Well that and this new medication is making me feel so sleepy that I have no extra energy for anything.  Well, it's either the medication or the three children.  I feel like either way I'm in trouble.

I am so incredibly excited that it is December. But first! Thanksgiving....we had a wonderful holiday. We started the festivities with traditional soup dinner at my mom's the night before, all 18 of us. The next say we hosted here at our house.  Ian's family came, grandparents and all.  It was such a calm wonderful celebration.  I used the convection setting on our oven and our turkey was done in 2 hours.  Amazing.  The kids enjoyed watching the parade on TV in the morning (thank goodness for our free satellite TV over and over again).  We ate by 1 and then sat by the piano and sang and played and talked.  We enjoyed a quiet evening just us 5.

And now Christmas.  I have always been such a believer, such an enthusiastic supporter of this holiday.  I love most everything about it.  The excitement, the anticipation, the magic, the meaning.  I LOVE giving presents.  I love baking and sharing love and wondering what's to come.  It can feel like a lot to fit into a few short weeks, especially with Ainsley's birthday and full weekends and all of the normal school/after school stuff.  This year I'm thankful to have done most of my shopping early.  I feel like I can relax and focus on the making which is my favorite part.

I'm almost done with the body of Louise's sweater and hope to have that done soon.  I bought yarn to make a few simple felted projects as gifts so I'll have to motivate for that soon.  I have one or two simple sewing projects to do for Christmas, nothing for the kids though.  I'm realizing I love just making things as they need them or request them.  I think new dresses for the girls are on the docket soon.

I've been loving a new cookbook I found at the thrift shop.  It's all Christmas cookies and I earmarked 22 recipes that sound appealing so I'm hoping to work my way through some of those.  I love trying new recipes.  The excitement that I may find a new favorite is addicting.  Yesterday I tried some toffee squares and cream cheese cresents.  They were both really good.  This week I'm hoping to do some gingerbread and some iced orange cookies I found.

And in other food related news I'm on another health kick/reboot, this time geared at finding a diet that gives me more energy.  Less than 48 hours in I can tell you I feel a marked difference in my energy, mostly in my eyes.  They used to always feel so heavy and now I feel like I can fully open them and I just feel lighter, does that sound crazy?

I literally typed in "foods for high energy" into google and made a list.  Here's what I ended up with for the week.

Blue Smoothie - 1/2 cup each skim milk and fat free plain greek yogurt, 1 tsp, ground flax, 1 cup frozen blueberries, 1/2 banana, 1 tsp. honey, 1 large bunch of kale
I don't have a good blender, but my handheld did alright.  The flavor was good but the kale was still a little chewy for me.  I'll keep sucking them down though if they're working!

Granola on top of plain greek yogurt with strawberries and honey. I love Great Harvest granola or Eliie Kreiger's homemade variety.

When I'm in a hurry I grab one of the Melaleuca bars I keep on hand, either the Attain or the Fiberwise varieties are really good.  Or if I'm REALLY struggling to decided I just grab a banana and slap some peanut butter on it.  Yum.

Picture this, delicious fresh whole grain bread toasted, topped with 1/4. avocado smashed with lemon juice, arugula, sliced tomato and smoked salmon.  That was a good idea.

Chicken Curry Salad with a slice of that same whole grain bread and an apple (I can' find a link to the recipe I used! I did two cooked diced chicken breasts, diced apple, diced celery, chopped almonds and raisins, the dressing was simply half greek yogurt half olive oil mayo and a good teaspoon of mild curry powder, plus I always season with salt and pepper...it was really good)

Greek Quinoa Salad

Snacks: Dried fruit (cherries in particular are said to be good for boosting energy), Edamame, green tea and black coffee, I made some muffins today with Felix too if I get really hungry plus the kids love them for breakfasts and snacks (I didn't have any applesauce on hand so used apple butter, that was an excellent choice)

Herbed Pork Tenderloin with leftover brown rice broccoli casserole from the weekend
Lentils and Polenta
Sweet Potato Hash with sautéed greens and soft cooked eggs
Veggie burgers and sweet potato fries
Greek Cod Cakes with whole wheat cous cous and roasted zucchini
Whole Wheat tuna noodle pasta with peas
Canned Indian dishes over brown rice with carrots (trader joe's has a new line of canned Indian food so of course we had to try them!)
Brown Rice and Shrimp Risotto with Spinach
Trader Joes meat lasagna (I bought the individual spinach lasagna for myself because it's apparently much healthier, I hope it's good!)

I like that this menu feels very manageable and healthy and filling.  I bought enough that we'll have some meals to make for next week which is great because I know after a heavy cooking week I can get burned out and it's nice to have things already planned/in the freezer.

So up next will be the fun photo post I promise!
Happy December everyone!