This idea of "better" is a good reminder for me on Thanksgiving morning and something I should reread as we crash towards Christmas. “Better” to me applies to food and friends, play and work, and giving and receiving. And, better is precisely what I’m thankful for this year.Read More
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
Last night, we squeezed in the last* of our Summer "Learn to Try" challenges and hosted a mega dance party. Our friends and neighbors joined us in the driveway for drinks, cookies, and lots of silliness to celebrate the end of summer and start of school.
Thank the lord, I wasn't sure this day would ever come. So, on this high note that is the last day of summer, I'm thinking I should focus on something like I did on the first.
More than getting to check fun things off a list, I feel fortunate. We won summer. To be more precise, my kids won summer. I got to drive the team support van with the snacks and towels. And, most days that felt like winning.
If I were giving an award acceptance speech and had unlimited time, here’s what I’d say. I've thrown in some random, never-before-posted pictures. I know, I'm excited too.
I’m thankful for Youtube videos. There’s a lot of random shit out there, but some of it is really helpful. Thanks to all the girls who took time to shoot, edit, and post cartwheel training videos.
I’m thankful for our neighbors for, like, 1,000 reasons. One of those reasons is that they don’t mind (or call the cops) when you go in their yard at night with kids in pajamas to catch a bug.
I’m thankful for food- whole, healthy food. I’m thankful for the one gazillion recipes out there on the internet. Without trying every single one of these, we wouldn’t have found the three my kids will eat. Eating whole foods in our house isn’t easy. We’re not “there” yet (and where “there” is changes daily.) So, I’m not giving up on this moving target.
I’m thankful to have time off from work and money going on vacation. My kids are the second generation to enjoy regular, planned family trips. A vacation is not something either of my parents really had growing up. And, they changed that for us with some tortuous drives to beautiful places. Now, we seem to be upping the ante. Instead of a stack of coloring books and the single of Whitney Houston’s “Greatest Love of All,” our kids get a stack of DVDs and access to literally every song ever recorded.
I’m thankful for our Falls Church, VA community and the value we all put on giving back to others. I’m also thankful for the encouragement that comes from those around you when starting something.
I’m thankful for natural beauty all around us. Creating a bouquet became a metaphor for me about arranging the things I have (possessions, activities, obligations, etc.) in a way that brings more happiness. Nature is also a reminder to enjoy the moment. It doesn’t last forever, and that’s okay because it comes back in other ways. I’m also thankful for wine.
I’m thankful for people who rush in to help- even when it’s gross and inconvenient. I spend most days trying not to ask for too much. But still every single day, I cross paths with people going out of their way to make things a little better for me, for us. I love you and thank you.
Lastly, I’m thankful we can stop and be silly. To choose to spend a couple of hours dressing up, dancing, and eating too many treats is a gift and privilege so many people don’t have. And, I struggle with this. How can we laugh when others are hurting? Eat chocolate chip cookies when others haven't eaten in days? Stay up late playing with a glow-in-the-dark balloon when some places it’s unsafe to go outside after dark?
I search daily for the right answer. Today, it’s to be grateful. It’s also to stay aware and vigilant, do what we can through encouragement and support, keep others in our hearts and heads, and to learn with my kids how to steer into a better future for all.
I’d especially like to thank the following people. Brian for being my Superman. Mom and Dad for being the change. Lynda for always being one call (or emoji-laden text) away. My sisters Anna and Molly who make me laugh and make me think. My friends Carrie, Sarah, Benita, Jen, Aime, Christy, Sara, and Katharine for keeping things in perspective. For my cherished clients who trust me. For all of the people- Jesus, Rosario, Bill, Clara, my beloved UPS drivers, and the team of Peapod delivery men who help keep our life more or less on schedule. I'd buy you all a Pumpkin Spice latte if I could. Bring it, Fall. We got this!
*For those keeping score at home, you'll note that 2 summer challenges are missing. The girls did ride horses. My mom took them to a lesson last week while they were enjoying some time at Grandma and Opa Summer Camp for spoiled grandchildren. She has some great insights regarding girls and horses that she's going to write. I'll share her guest blog post later in the month. We also haven't yet slept in the massive 8-person tent (more like my first apartment) we bought last Spring. Brian is scoping out weekends this Fall. More to come on that too.
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