Have you flown recently? Getting on the plane is such a pain. There has to be a better way, right? Here are 6 different ways we could try to try to board that would make the process a lot more interesting-- though probably not any better.Read More
I've heard about people who eat the same thing everyday. Actually, I haven't just heard about them, I live with one. Brian has the exact same breakfast, lunch, and snacks every day. This is regardless of the day of the week, weather, meeting schedule, mood, or anything else that might impact what you feel like eating.
I can't relate. I can hardly choke down one night of leftovers let alone think of eating the same thing two days in a row. So as the primary food-fixer in our family, dinner is different every night-- though I don't think Brian would care if I never switched it up.
I was curious to know whether it's possible to get everything you need nutrient-wise through one, simple and standard meal plan. After a bit of research, I found a bunch of articles and even a Harvard study that I shared in this Inc post.
So, if you were to follow this plan, what exactly would you cook? Here are a couple of recipes I've tried.
- Breakfast: 8 oz nonfat yogurt with a cup of papaya and kiwi and 14 walnut halves. Okay, you don't need a recipe for this one but it did remind me of this great podcast interview on How I Built This With Guy Raz and Gary Hirshberg, the founder of Stonyfield Yogurt.
- Lunch: 1 small whole-wheat pita with a green salad including 1 cup of dark green lettuce, a red pepper, 1 cup of tomatoes, ½ cup edamame, and unsalted sunflower seeds sprinkled on top. Don't despair! You can add olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and pepper as dressing. Here are 10 different options from one of my favorite food blogs, Kitchn.
- Dinner: 4 oz broiled wild salmon (about the size of your palm) with a yogurt sauce. On the side, a ½ cup of barley and lentils with a cup of steamed asparagus or baby bok choy.
They're simple and pretty tasty-- though I still know I couldn't eat them forever.
The last of our summer "crops" are ready to leave their comfy garden beds and meet one vicious set of kitchen knifes. What's left? Some crazy hot habaneros and a lot of 'em.
Don't ask me how we ended up with these. Well, okay... since you insist. Brian was looking for something with a bit more kick than our standard jalapenos but not quite as screaming-crying-temper-tantrum-throwing hot as these feisty little guys.
They're not good for a single thing except hot sauce. So... hot sauce it is. I adapted this Belizean-style habanero sauce recipe this afternoon. It has the predictable onions, garlic, and vinegar plus a couple of more interesting things like carrots, orange juice, and mangoes. No fewer than 10 raw habaneros were added to the mix. I also threw in key lime juice and honey from Country Mouse Farm. As you can see, it came out bright yellow.
On it's own, I thought it was inedible because it's so spicy. But then on our dinner of stuffed bell peppers tonight, it was hot but not overwhelming.
Alas, this baby has no name. Help Brian and I come up with something descriptive or interesting. If it's funny, all the better.
If your suggested name is picked, I'll send you some in lots of bubble wrap and an appropriate warning label. If you're local, I'll deliver.
Recently, my little middle, Baya, and I took a trip to Mobile, Alabama. We went with a two-fold purpose: see my cousin Rachel walk down the aisle and hang out with my grandfather- more commonly known as Pawpaw. This was not the kind of trip that’s exciting because you’re exploring someplace new. Instead, it was about reconnecting with something familiar.
Pawpaw lives alone in the big, old, old house he’s called home for more than 60 years. Nine of his ten children live within his same city limits. Proximity makes most of his nearly 100 family members day visitors. They come by to chat over a cup of coffee. They bring left-over chicken and rice in carefully labeled, microwavable plastic containers. They bring birthday cake at the right time and shuttle him to numerous eye doctor appointments.
My dad is the only one who moved away from this big family in a small city. That makes my parents, sisters and brother, and our families the few overnight visitors at Pawpaw’s house. And over the years, we’ve collectively spent hundreds of nights upstairs in the big, old, old house.
It’s a place where little ever changes.
Tires on the white gravel driveway sounded the same this weekend as they did when I was ten years old. Coffee, biscuits, and aftershave mix to create a distinct smell. The furniture, the phone, the mail, the trinkets, and the mementos haven’t moved. There are always a few new family pictures on the giant collage that are his kitchen walls but that's about it.
It’s no surprise that his stuff doesn’t move. Old people don’t need or want new stuff. They’re creatures of habit and know what works for them after 90+ years of living.
What’s surprising is that our stuff- leave-behinds from us few overnight visitors- doesn’t move either.
Because Pawpaw’s bedroom is on the first floor, the second-floor guest bedrooms are rarely disturbed. Going upstairs is like going back in time- but not in a fun, retro “Back to the Future” kind of way. It’d be fascinating to see the stuff leftover from a time when my aunts and uncles were teenagers in the house.
No, the three upstairs rooms were redone in florals and stripes after they left. Anything personal (and really interesting) was taken away in boxes a long time ago. Instead, it’s going back in time to trips my siblings and I made to this house in more recent years. Pawpaw has a lovely woman come to help clean and dust every other week but clearly doesn’t know what to throw out. So, stuff left behind stays put.
What happens at Pawpaw’s house, stays at Pawpaw’s house. Literally, for like, forever.
Here are just a handful of examples I came across on our recent weekend trip…
Here’s a gossip magazine. Oh no! Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert broke up?! Sorry that was breaking celebrity news back in 2015. Just look a Blake’s sweet, sorta sad, sorta happy face. I look into those eyes and want to tell him, “Don’t worry, Blake. You’re having a baby with Gwen Stefani now.” Figuring out the owner of this leave-behind was too easy. It’s Anna’s. You can tell by the address block.
The rest weren’t as obvious, but I think I figured them out.
Here’s an old stick of deodorant. It’s called Canoe. Yes, Canoe. I mean, really? I had to read it twice. What kind of name is that for a hygiene product? There are a lot of great things about boats. The smell is not one that comes to mind. Either way, this has to be my brother’s. I guess CVS was all out of “Oil Rig.”
While we were there, I had a runny nose and got tired of leaving a trail of tissues. What luck! I found a box of DayQuil! It was a bit dusty so I flipped it over to check the date. Damn. It expired in January 2007. January 2007 was BEFORE MY WEDDING and that was 10 years ago! This has to be Molly’s. She must have had a cold sometime during the second Clinton administration. I'm guessing this was about when her passion for universal healthcare started.
Alas, moments before leaving for the wedding, I realized I needed a razor quick, or there wouldn’t be any Y-M-C-A-ing for me. No problem. This Daisy was in the medicine cabinet. Only one of the two blades rusted and it did the job. Thanks, Kelly. You always plan for contingencies like that. This had to have been yours.
The owner of the last leave-behind had me a bit puzzled, but I figured it out by process of elimination. This bottle of LA Looks conditioner couldn’t possibly be from one of my siblings. We’re more of a Finesse kind of family. That leaves the brothers-in-law. Since two out of the three are entirely bald (not to mention Republicans from New Jersey), there’s only one man left. Mike! Mike, your 1980s-era investment in hair care is holding up well. It’ll be exactly where you found it on your next trip…ready to give you that yes-I-might-just-be-Matthew-McConaughey shine-enhancing look.
In addition to these things, there are dozens of little hotel soaps, travel toothbrushes, one lonely gold bangle bracelet, and ponytail holders. There’s a travel hairdryer, a boarding pass, and a fresh copy of 50 Shades of Gray. (Kidding. Dad put that one right back in Anna’s carry-on after realizing what all the hype was about.)
I love that a trip to Pawpaw’s house is so predictable. You know precisely what to expect. All the little, value-less items upstairs peacefully coexist with the heaps of kindness, laughs, and memories in this big, old, old house. The leave-behinds will eventually be thrown away while we cling to the rest.
To my brother and sisters: There might just be a few new leave-behinds for you from Baya and me to discover on your next visit.
At 94, Pawpaw reminds me life is a marathon. We put one foot in front of the other each day for something. Our unique combination of dreams and obligations propel us forward. For my grandfather, he’s driven to do the right thing. His life has always been focused on the basics: love, work, and just being. While those things aren’t unique, his style is. Everything he does is done in the gentlest, most kind way possible. He’s simply the sweetest person I know.
I took this picture while we ate dinner from Panera and shared a bottle of wine. I had 7 glasses, he had 1, and only 1/3 of the bottle was gone! The next morning, I had 6 cups of coffee... with no jitters! In addition to being the sweetest person, he has the smallest glasses I've ever seen.
And while I'm at it... have you ever noticed how flirty old ladies are? My goodness!
Work-life balance is sometimes about having a little fun at the office. Here are 10 truly awkward things you could do- or dare a friend to do- when they bump into their boss in an elevator.Read More
General Mills recently announced it was reversing a promise to take artificial colors and flavors out of their cereals. They were reverting back to the original recipe and the more familiar, brightly colored Trix would be on store shelves in October 2017.
Wait what happened? Two years ago, the company thought they were doing the right thing for customers and sales when they changed their recipe. Their intent was to keep up with the times and changing consumer preferences for healthier, more natural foods.
However, it didn't quite work out the way they'd hoped. While there was a bump in sales, the new and "improved" version was drab and lacked that delicious chemical flavor. Nostalgic, long-time loyal customers were furious and let them know via social media.
Here are some of the funnier tweets I saw on the topic.
All of this pressure added up and prompted General Mills to change their mind. We were never allowed to have "sugar cereals" growing up and I'm still upset about it. Not only did I miss out then, I'm missing out on the opportunity to be outraged now. I'm trying to imagine how these people feel and had the thought-- what if they changed Reese's Peanut Butter Cups?! Ugh, the horror!
Anyway, this was fun. Silly Rabbit! You thought Trix were for kids? Nope. They're apparently for grown-ups who don't want to let go.
Hear crickets when you ask your kids how their day went? Me too. I don't know if their memories are too short or they just don't want to share, I rarely get anywhere with generic questions. And even if they did speak up, they probably wouldn't share what I really want to know. As an alternative, here are questions I came up with for my kids. You can try these two or come up with your own versions to get the information you want and need to know about how you're doing as a mom.Read More
In this week's "Learn to Try" summer challenge we head to the Rock Creek Park planetarium... and get more than we bargained for. This is a great activity for kids anytime of the year- assuming they're feeling up for it.Read More
Want to create a beautiful flower arrangement? Here's how in 18 simple steps (with wine!) Whether you're looking to build a new skill or for something fun to do with the kids, flower arranging is easy, fun, and has the immediate benefit of a beautiful decoration for your home.Read More
Procurement, manufacturing, pricing, marketing, sales, and customer service are all part of any simple lemonade stand. It’s an enduring, practical, and charming way to introduce kids to the basic concepts of business- if your business is backed by an angel investor who can drive to Giant and reach the sink.
When I pitched the idea as one of the Summer “Learn to Try” challenges, the kids enthusiastically agreed. Looking back, I realize they had no idea what they were signing up for. They heard lemonade (and because I’m ultra-stingy with juice) reflexively shouted “YES!”
Part of the deal was to donate the money raised to A is for Africa. They wanted to do this piece because they hear Grandma and Opa talk about Africa and the school there. The kids were especially interested in funding school lunch because…all kids like lunch.
So, that was the goal with this week’s Summer “Learn to Try” Challenge:
• learn a bit about business and
• fund raise for a good cause.
To start, we reserved the space in front of the Falls Church Community Center. The Center staff offer this fantastic opportunity to any kid with a homemade product raising money for a nonprofit. This space is strategically important because it’s close to the Farmer’s Market. There’s way more foot traffic than we’d get in front of our house.
We then made a trip to Giant for the ingredients and came back home to make a sign.
There was a little social media marketing on Facebook, and our friends in the neighborhood helped spread the word. Our neighbor Nate even offered to help. Yippee! Set up on Saturday morning was simple. Then, we hit the first roadblock.
The kids wanted nothing to do with the actual selling. Drinking the lemonade, playing with the cups, and dumping out the straws took precedence. They hung-out behind the pillars- partly out of shyness and partly out of distraction from the Farmer’s Market activity.
Then, two things happened to change their outlook.
They got their first customers- a family of five. These weren't just any old customer. They were super fun, enthusiastic, and encouraging. When the dad handed over the $5, Marin looked at it for a second before stuffing it into our Ziplock “register.” I actually think a saw something click. Marin later told me that the best part of the day was making the customers happy and getting the money. A win!
Then, their friend Nate arrived, and it became less of chore and more of a game. All of the kids moved out in front of the stand shouting, “Good morning. $1 lemonade!” Baya told me she was scared to speak up the first time but it got easier throughout the morning. Another win! Marketing and selling are most difficult in the beginning. Then, you realize that some people will buy, some won’t, and nothing bad will happen either way.
Nate also immediately improved our process and started pre-pouring cups so there’d be no delay for our next customers. Unfortunately, Linc drank these before anyone else arrived but it was a good idea.
Over the next hour and a half, we had a steady stream of totally awesome people come by- including many friends and neighbors. Each person was there for the kids (ours or theirs), not so much the lemonade. They were upbeat, encouraging, and genuinely interested in hearing about A is for Africa. It made me love our Little City that much more.
They also pretended not to notice the chaos that ensued after simply saying, “one lemonade, please.” There was sloshing and spilling. Some of the shortest members of the staff might have even been screaming and crying, “It’s my turn!” Every. Single. Time.
In retrospect, I should have worked out our order fulfillment process to avoid the confusion about who’s turn it was to pour, dole out stickers, and take the money. I would have also mentioned that most people don’t care to have ice handled directly by the server's grubby, bare hands.
So, I’d say this was another successful week of our Summer “Learn to Try” challenge. The kids raised $86 and got dad to make it an even $100. That’s enough to fund lunch for 900 kids for a day—pretty incredible! I also believe some entrepreneurial seeds were planted, as well as, a small lesson in overcoming your fears.
What’s up next? Come back next week to find out!