Beep beep boop #20150921

Do you get it, fellow WordPress friends? That’s the thing they show when you make a new post! Do you get it now? Do you?! I was entertained. Because this is a new post. Beep beep boop.

Anyway, something changed in the internet-universe, and now I see my little “wordpress” bar at the top of so many sites. Observe below:

Wordpress is everywhere

Has this been around forever? It’s not just on my good friend P-Dub’s website. I’ve also seen it on other websites, though I can’t recall other specific examples. I’m curious to find out if it’s a setting on *my* wordpress profile, or if that’s something that’s on *their* wordpress profile. I’m not actually curious enough to do any real research at this time, but if you know the solution then hit me with a comment! Please and thank you!

This is where I would traditionally insert a meal plan. But guess what?! I’ve been interested in dividing this here website-cookie into bite sized pieces, and so that particular bite will follow at a later date. As in, tomorrow. After I have a chance to think about it a bit more.

Life Plan #20150112

Lessons learned last week:

  • Meal planning does in fact save my butt and make life easier. I should keep doing it.
  • I’m not great at using free time for something other than work and grocery shopping… but I also squeezed in a haircut and managed to feel relaxed & appreciative of my alone time! Definitely a step in the right direction.
  • Both kids played in their basketball league last Saturday and it was madness and wonderful all at the same time. This coming Saturday will be the last one that the boys both have bball games, then Kimathi’s season ends and it will just be Darian.
  • My first strawberry pie ever is delicious, but I seriously need to improve my blind baked pie crust. Rave reviews in spite of the crust not being just right.
  • Snow + above zero temps = Darian snowboarding (such joy).

Ok! So! I’m short on time. But here we go.

Life plan: Regular school/work/homework during the week but Darian’s school carnival is happening this Friday while Kimathi is snowboarding. I *will* be present and thankful for the opportunity to get him extra time with his school friends. I *will not* freak out, give in to my introverted tenancies, and conveniently “forget” about it.

Now, on to the Meal Plan. No pictures/graphics. No time. Ok, I lied….

Pictureless

  • Monday Pot roast I cooked yesterday (so good!) reheated with some extra liquid, served over mashed potatoes, broccoli on the side. And probably some rolls too. Because juices.
  • Tuesday Grilled Chicken burritos, guac, bean and rice, fresh salsa, with a chopped salad of some sort on the side. Kid-less and spicy!
  • Wednesday Pasta with smoked sausage, peppers and onions, and a side salad.
  • Thursday Chicken Pot Pie casserole, biscuits, broccoli on the side.
  • Friday *Crossroads Carnival* we’ll be buying burgers and hot dogs. Fresh fruit in the car on the drive there to balance it out.
  • Weekend I have to make pancakes Saturday morning or there will be a riot. Birthday dinner out with a friend on Saturday! I’m also planning on making burgers and fries at some point. And chocolate chip cookies.

Well there you have it. The briefest life plan in the history of me posting life plans. Not that there’s a lot to go off of, statistically speaking. Have a great week, friends!

Fireworks and Mandatory Park Visit

This may come as a shock to you, but last Friday was Independence Day here in the good old U. S. of A. My little family celebrated the 4th by going to a family cook-out, and then going to see fireworks up close and personal in Roseville, MN.

Roseville

This was our first time going to see fireworks there, and I was pleasantly surprised by how un-crowded it was. Families were spread out, and we got to set up on the side of a small lake path. It felt a lot more relaxed than our usual experience in St. Paul or Stillwater and it is by far our new favorite spot.

On our way driving there, I spotted a park I had never been to: The Central Park Nature Conservitory! Yes, that’s how they really spell it on Google Maps, so I’m going with it. It’s right above the word “Fireworks” in that handy map I have above.

Less than ten measly minutes from my home, there is 52 acres public green space and 1.34 miles of trails to explore. And Google Maps tells me that the Harriet Alexander Nature Center is there too, so that’s definitely what we’re doing on Saturday.

This made me wonder- what other parks are right under my nose in the Minneapolis/St.. Paul area? Let me know some of your favorites please, I’d love to explore the cities and any place with walking trails is where I want to be.

As usual, because I can’t help myself and my week doesn’t feel right without it, here is my menu plan:

  • Monday: Sauteed Tilapia with creamy dill pan sauce, corn on the cob, green beans and garlicky rice.
  • Tuesday: Stir fried rice noodles with chicken and mixed veggies.
  • Wednesday: Meatball Subs with pasta salad and cantaloupe on the side.
  • Thursday: Spinach leaves tossed with this “Summer Chickpea Salad with Honey Garlic Lime Vinaigrette” and topped with marinated chicken.
  • Friday: Turkey keilbasa sliced, seared, and mixed with pepper & onions. Served over rice pilaf with a side of broccoli.
  • Saturday: For brunch I’ll be making a Dutch Baby, because no (sweet) breakfast food makes me any happier. We’ll have fruit on the side and a turkey sausage/potato breakfast hash. We’ll pack sandwiches and carrot sticks for the hike. Saturday night, we’re grilling out at the Drive In for a friend’s birthday and I expect it to be amazing.
  • Sunday: Breakfast will be plain old oatmeal, home made and delicious. Lunch will be some odd combination of leftovers . Dinner will be homemade veggie sushi, edamame pods, and teriyaki beef skewers.

PS: Last weekend I made cheese enchiladas inspired by this lovely recipe [I used a a mix of monterey jack, sharp cheddar, and queso fresco in the filling, and used fresh fire roasted poblanos instead of canned chiles]. I also made a braised chicken in a tomato/cumin sauce, cilantro lime rice, black beans, roasted corn/grape tomato/queso fresco/cilatro/green onion salad, guac and sour cream. It was fairly epic, and I definitely recommend it.

Minnehaha Falls: Then and Now

What a difference (nearly) two years makes. This past weekend, we made the trip to visit Minnehaha Falls. We do it often, I take pictures each time, and it’s always a blast. Except for the part where I get all choked up because they’re trying something new, or they’re just SO much bigger than the last time we were there. We go there at least once a month, so realistically it can’t be that big of a difference.

Minnehaha20140628_1

This time however, I went far enough back to see a BIG difference. Not only a difference in the boys (sniff), but a difference in the falls themselves. In November of 2012 we were at the end of a season of drought. The boys were playing in a dry creek bed, and they were so itty bitty that I just can’t take it.

Minnehaha20121117_1

They even found ice in the shallow pools and happily smashed it to bits!

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Minnehaha20121117_3 Minnehaha20121117_2

Fast forward to last Saturday, and the water level had changed almost as much as the boys had.

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They were wading with whitewater rapids it the background. And looking far too grown up for my taste. Has anyone discovered a way to rewind kids back to being baby sized?

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The water had even eaten up part of the path, so we didn’t go all the way to the Mississippi like we usually do.

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Also- do you see how the water is basically up to the top of that bridge? Here’s the boys playing under it in 2012:

Minnehaha20121117_5   Minnehaha20121117_6

One last one of then…

Minnehaha20121117_7 And now…

Minnehaha20140628_5

They’re so big and brave! Which is awesome. But I would like it to stop now, please.

[Insert sobbing here]

Back to business. Here is the deal: I have 10 million things to do around the house, outside of the house, and with the boys this week. There’s no Tee Ball or Near Ball because it’s a holiday week. There’s also no school or work on Friday, so the law states that we have to go swimming.

What does this all mean? It means I don’t want to cook this week. At all. But since that’s not actually realistic or affordable, here is the plan.

  • Monday Chicken with mustard-cream sauce, rice pilaf, green beans.
  • Tuesday Stir fried rice noodles with soy/sesame, beef, broccoli, carrots, and whatever other veggies I can throw at em.
  • Wednesday Cheese Enchiladas, salad, beans and rice.
  • Thursday Chicken thighs topped with peppers, onions and cheese. Served with Mashed potatoes and broccoli. This is faster and easier than it sounds, and only uses two pans, a cutting board, and a single knife when I do it right. It’s on the table in about 22 minutes.
  • Friday Burgers, corn, veggies and dip. The buns will be these overnight refrigerator rolls, made to the size of burger buns and topped with sesame seeds.
  • Weekend I have no idea. This past weekend I ended up making a delicious crockpot meatloaf recipe, so I’ll probably experiment with other crockpot options.

That’s all folks! Any tips on how to not turn into a blubbering mess every time I see old pictures? It would be much appreciated.

Tee Ball Season

Tis the season fo-or Tee Ball, fa la la la la, I have no time!

Monday Tee Ball, Tuesday Near Ball, fa la la la la, I have no time.

So-o now I cook ahead now, fa la la, fa la la, there’s no time!

Here’s my menu, mostly pre-cooked. Fa la la la la, I have no time.

  • Monday Chicken/Veggie stirfry over rice (already cooked, heat and eat)
  • Tuesday Sloppy Joes & salad (already cooked and/or cut up, heat and eat)
  • Wednesday If I actually survive Monday and Tuesday, I’ll make chicken lettuce wraps with curry rice noodles and fresh veggies. 
  • Thursday Baked fish, broccoli, buns.
  • Friday Stuffed shells (ricotta, spinach, etc) with meat sauce (already made), and garlic bread.
  • Weekend Buttermilk pancakes and fresh fruit for breakfast on Saturday. I’ll deal with the rest of the weekend once I actually get through this week.

Did I mention that my microwave broke, and that work is crazy busy, and that I am still getting caught up from camping over Father’s day weekend and have ten million things to do? Because I do.

Busyness and Business

Life has recently taken over my life.

There has been all sorts of busyness with home stuff, family stuff, and work stuff. Business is booming at my job (yay), and on top of that we’re moving (yay again). It’s only across the hall, but there is construction, painting, new carpet and more going on to make it ours. I think the new space is going to work really well for us, and I’m pretty pumped. I also like meetings, so I guess this just confirms that I’m a little odd when it comes to work/everything in else in the world.

So! For Father’s day weekend we went camping at Wild River State Park here in MN with a few family friends. It was wonderful, but it rained so so much. Except for when it was time to leave, then it cleared up and was sunny and warm. It was a lot of fun in spite of the rain, and only about an hour drive from the cities. I took the day off Friday, and we arrived back yesterday.

There are two morals to this story: 1. You should go to Wild River State Park if you’re in MN because it’s pretty great, and 2. I have zero grocery shopping done so I’m kind of winging it with this menu plan based off of what’s in my freezer & what I can pickup easily at my neighborhood store.

The last few menu-plan-less weeks were ok-ish, we survived and ate generally nutritious foods, but it sure is a lot more mental anguish trying to figure out what to feed folks on the fly. Without further ado, I bring you this week’s menu!

  • Monday Cheater Chicken Parmesan: Sauteed chicken breast, topped with marinara (chunked up with bell peppers), a layer of mozzarella cheese, and a breadcrumb/Parmesan mixture, broiled til breadcrumbs are golden. Served with garlicky rice pilaf and a side of spinach.
  • Tuesday Pan cooked Steelhead Trout with a garlic/lemon/dill/cream sauce, baked breaded shrimp, green beans, and twice baked potatoes.
  • Wednesday Taco bowls with chicken, cilantro lime rice, black beans, lettuce and fresh salsa
  • Thursday Sloppy Joe’s, corn on the cob, broccoli slaw with shredded cheddar cheese and balsamic dressing.
  • Friday Movie night! Our church is showing The Lego Movie at 6:30, so we’ll be grabbing some sandwiches on the way there.
  • Weekend
    • Saturday brunch will be a french toast extravaganza! Turkey breakfast sausage, grapes, and a fricking toppings bar: strawberries, whipped cream,  bananas, chocolate sauce, maple syrup, and whatever else I can think up.
    • I’m making pasties this weekend, because I’ve been wanting them for months and just haven’t gotten around to it. I’m not sure which day it will happen, but it will happen this time.
    • Meaty marinara- whichever day I make pasties, I’ll also make a batch of meaty marinara sauce. The pasties will use 2 out of 3 lbs of beef I have, and the other pound will be made into red sauce to use at some point next week.
    • Whichever day doesn’t get pasties, I’m going to make chicken pot pie casserole. Shredded chicken in a homemade creamy gravy, with carrots, onions, celery, and topped with buttered bread crumbs. We skip the peas due to a few picky eaters, but they certainly belong here if your crew will eat them! Served over rice, with a side of green veggies. This makes excellent lunch leftovers with a small green salad, and I always cook up extra chicken when I make this for other grab n go meals.

Welp, that’s all I’ve got. Have a good one folks!

Plan implosion

Ok, so my menu plan didn’t *literally* collapse inward in a very sudden and violent way. But it came close.

Last week I had the blahs. I didn’t make much of the menu I had planned. The biggest bummer of all is that I didn’t make pasties, because they’re awesome comfort food, and I could really use that right now. Sigh.

The problem is, I’m pretty sure I had an awesome week. I think I was just too busy and drained by the number of “out and about” activities to appreciate it. Can I blame it on being an introvert? Maybe? Either way, now I’m going to do my best to recount all the good stuff that happened.

    • Monday- I did in fact prep and assemble the lasagna as planned, and it turned out really well. I alternated layers of the garlic-butter-sauteed-chard mixed with ricotta/mozarella/egg/parmesan, with layers of beefy marinara spiced up with fennel and Italian seasoning. Sauce on top, covered with foil while cooking, and topped with fresh grated parm when it was time to serve. I think I have a new preferred technique here!
    • Tuesday- My boss gave me four tickets to the Twins game! Score! I had both boys overnight, so we left as soon as we ate our lasagna dinner and took the lightrail to the ball game. Their dad joined us after he got off work. We had to leave after the 7th inning stretch because it was a school night, but the boys were happy to find out that the Twins won the next morning.

Twins_05132014

    •  Wednesday- I actually got mowing done, and it felt good to have my yard look (temporarily) respectable. I did make the greek style salad with chicken, and it was good but it didn’t turn out exactly as I had hoped.
    • Thursday- I went to my first ever meeting of The Children’s Storytelling Guild. I’ve been excited about telling stories for a while, and got a lot of good feedback from the others there about my telling of The Sausage. It was fun to get the inside scoop from storytelling professionals, and get feedback from someone other than my five year old. We just had leftover lasagna for dinner.
    • Friday- Where did the week go?! I made us some to-go bbq chicken sandwiches with fruit on the side, which we ate in the car as we drove to NE Minneapolis. We went to a friend’s gallery event for Art-A-Whirl, and got to see a lot of cool and unique art. I also had the chance to catch up with former co-workers, who I now miss desperately.
    • Saturday- french toast for breakfast! I picked up my seedlings from Gardening Matters, and made a halfhearted attempt to try on summer shoes before heading to dinner with my friend Erin. We went to Boca Chica Restaurante in St. Paul, ate some good grub and talked, and talked, and talked some more.
    • Sunday- I took Darian’s Grandma with me to church, and after we had lunch I picked up Darian. We ran some errands, going to pick up more iron on patches for his pants, and get bright side walk chalk to replenish our supply. We played, we read together, I braided his hair while he watched Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 for the five thousandth time. I roasted a chicken for dinner and kind of scraped together the sides, but no one complained about it (other than me in my head).

So here’s the deal. This was all wonderful, really good stuff. Technically, I’m really happy that I did it all. I would have been sad to have to give up any piece of it. At the same time, I’m really not energized by this much activity, and I feel like I’m behind on everything.

This week, I’m vowing to take it easy. And I’m really, really going to try. Here is my best shot at a slacker meal plan.

    • Monday Shredded leftover chicken stir fry- broccoli, carrots, shallots in some kind of thrown together soy/teriyaki sauce. I’m making a big enough batch of rice to have leftovers for many other meals.
    • Tuesday Baked fish and shrimp, baked potatoes, salad.
    • Wednesday Romaine lettuce salad with balsamic dressing, dried cherries, carrots, broccoli, green onion, and probably sunflower seeds. Topped with chunky shreds of chicken, croutons, and mini cubes of cheddar cheese.
    • Thursday Rice with peppers, onions, carrots, celery, rutabaga, and seasoned ground beef. It’s like home made rice-a-roni. Or maybe a less dirty version of dirty rice. Some kind of side vegetable in here. Maybe asparagus?
    • Friday I have absolutely no idea. I’ll marinate on this a bit, look at my fridge inventory, and update a bit later in the week. I may get a few more things because I need to get to the store for milk!
    • Saturday and Sunday TBD. Again, I’ll check the fridge and hit the store.

There. I’m mostly planned, and a bit more thankful.

What do you do to perk yourself up when you start the week feeling exhausted?