Tuesday, February 20, 2018

What's Making Me Happy This Week

// Attending two fantastic author events - the authors were fantastic, the events were fantastic.

Dar Williams at Novel Neighbor. Nineteen year old me never thought she would be sitting so close to her!

George Saunders at the public library. So funny, so smart, so charming -- have you listened to Lincoln in the Bardo? I haven't read the book but the audiobook is superb.

// Drinking a protein shake in the morning. My trainer introduced me to a chocolate-flavored whey protein that is Not Gross. Not good, but not gross. And that's good enough.

// After I read Tribe by Sebastian Junger I've recommended it to everybody. Funnily enough, it shares many themes with Dar Williams' book What I Found In A Thousand Towns - the desperate, innate need for community, the necessity of struggle, etc. We're going to do a trial of the girls sharing a room based on a persuasive line of thinking in this book! I got a lot out of it and it's a quick read. Highly recommend.

// Managing magazine subscriptions through Amazon makes things so much easier! I cancelled most of mine and re-subscribed through Amazon to consolidate them. When we moved, updating our address was so fast instead of "what's my password..." "enter your account number..."

// Knife Skills documentary. I heard a brief interview with the filmmaker and thought, I have to see it! But where?

Then I saw a link somewhere else - watch Knife Skills for free! (It's been purchased by Conde Nast). You can watch here. I only wish it had been more in depth. People are doing amazing things for each other - it's so nice to be reminded.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Winter Staycation

The second half of a relaxing staycation...

Luke and I went on a couple of day-dates: seeing Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (let's discuss!) and sofa shopping.

Reading her new book from The Novel Neighbor.

A workout with my trainer, a pedicure, a massage, some sofa shopping... Trivia Night!

The team behind us wore Viking regalia and I love how it got into this Gracie pic...

And we won! My snack offerings for the table were brown butter cardamom banana bread and pig candy - caramelized bacon that is so delicious but so difficult to clean up after! (I might treat myself to a new wire rack).

Clem has been learning about the Winter Olympics at school.

On Saturday morning I made a Dutch baby for Luke and the girls

And joined the girls for Jenny's birthday brunch (birthday 1).

Sausage pizza with an egg.

Birthday 2 for our neighbor. This facility has a Little Ninja obstacle course class I'm interested in for the girls.

Birthday 3 at our cousin's. Arrived home after a full day to the beginnings of a light ice storm. We put the girls down and Luke went to a show in Maplewood. I started a new autobiography.

Woken up by this bride ballerina pegasus.

I cooked this pork belly in the sous vide earlier in the week and broiled it for an early lunch on Sunday...

Tucked into steamed buns with lettuce, pickles, and a reduction of the marinade folded into mayonnaise. (I'm really into the Serious Eats website these days. Eager to try some of these staff favorites.)

Clem drew during Josie's dance lesson.

"This is Josie doing ballet with her class."

Her turn. Josie colored a Lion Guard coloring book ("wy-un gawd") while Clem danced.

Sunday - if I'm organized - is meal prep day. I made breakfast meals of sausage and scrambled eggs, this 15 bean soup in the pressure cooker, and started pork carnitas in the sous vide. One great thing about sous vide cooking is the flexibility - as with the pork belly, once cooked, the carnitas can stay in the bag (chilled) for many days. All that's left to do is shred and broil when ready to eat. It also occurred to me to break out the large percolator we use at parties and brew many cups of coffee for our iced coffee. I'm focusing on food waste and unnecessary food expense this year - sometimes I make too much food and we don't eat it but the more typical scenario is purchasing too many perishable ingredients that I just don't feel like tackling later in the week. This week's menu is leftover soup; quesadillas; pork carnitas served as a taco or in a bowl; baked buffalo drumsticks; bags of freezer veggies - the steamable options seemed to have gotten a lot better. Pantry staples in case we eat everything and/or I lose the will to make anything new are cheese and water crackers; apple or banana with peanut butter; and (my new fave) Top Ramen with a 6 and a half minute egg sliced in half.

(This 15 bean soup looks limp and muddy but was so delicious. I served it with Jiffy mix cornbread muffins - Luke's first introduction "these are amazing." Northern cornbread >>> Southern cornbread. #sorrynotsorry).

While I cooked the girls played all afternoon and then wanted to listen to Swan Lake and the Nutcracker - it's truly amazing how well they know the music of the latter due to our many viewings of the ballet on YouTube. I remembered how we listened to The Nutcracker on the way to Elgin and I asked Clem "what is happening now?" and she said "the grandma and grandpa are dancing" and sure enough the radio display read "Grandfather Waltz".

Back to the grind!

Friday, February 9, 2018

Clem's Birthday Extravaganza

Other than a shared party with an older cousin, we've never done anything other than cake at home for their birthdays. This year was different!

I ordered pink and purple cupcakes from La Bonne Bouchee for her class. That night, her actual birthday, we surprised Clementine with Disney On Ice as her gift after a quick Subway dinner after school and work. The show consists of 4 vignettes: The Little Mermaid, Tangled, Beauty and the Beast, and Frozen.

They loved it! Josie said: I liked it when Ariel fwipped. I liked the stagecraft - it was much more elaborate than I expected. Josie couldn't let go of the scene in which Gaston stabs the Beast. All the way home:

Do you be-member when Gaston had a knife?

30 seconds later

Why did Gaston hurt da Beast?

30 seconds later

Do you be-member when Gaston had a knife?

Clem wanted ALL of the light-up wands and spinning-light-up things but Luke said, "no honey, those are junk. You don't want junk, it will break."

Cut to Clementine frantically waving down the concessionaires going up and down the stairs and shouting, "I want junk! Junk! I want junk! I want that junk!"

Friday night: Indian Friday, movie night, and setting up party stuff.

Getting ready for Saturday's party.

Me: I asked you to put on pants.
Josie: I wanted wings.

I asked the girls to draw some pictures as decorations for the unicorn party.

Clem drew "a sunset, with a sunset sky."

Unicorn, a fence, and our family. We are wearing party hats and holding carrots for the unicorn.

My mom brought this beautiful (and delicious) cake with matching cupcakes from WashMO.

The girls knew it was a unicorn party but they didn't know a pony would make an appearance!

I love this photo: the glee on Josie's face, Clementine's curious apprehension.

One hour and forty-five minutes of unicorn rides for all interested/brave-enough kids. We lucked out with a 40 degree day in a week with near-single digit temperatures.

STL folks: the pony was from Cowboy Critters and they were great.

Those post-party blues.

After some downtime it was off to our municipality's daddy daughter dance at the police station.

Me: Clementine, you're going to a dance! It's like... going to a ball.
Clem: (dreamily) Am I going to fall in love?

Luke said she loved the photo booth with props and got in line over and over... her favorite was an Incredible Hulk mask. I'm a monster! Look at my teef!

Listening to the (kid friendly) Top 40 DJ songs: When are they going to play the real music? (Luke thinks she was expecting waltzes).

We slept in, had a lazy morning, I made my first visit to Global Foods, and we went to dance lessons before the weather turned bitterly cold and blustery. It was a perfect afternoon to spend at home - I started cooking from my new Indian cookbook.

MagnaTiles during the Super Bowl. I bought them at least two years ago and they are now starting to play with them.

Daddy Daughter Adventure Day: a train ride from Kirkwood to WashMO. Lunch at a pizza place with Pop Pop and a delayed trip back.

Happy birthday, C! We love you so much.

First birthday // Second birthday // Third birthday // Fourth birthday