Tuesday, September 16, 2014

What I'm Loving - Fall 2014 Edition

1.  Binge-watching.  Ever since I discovered Orange is the New Black and House of Cards on Netflix, I am now a BIG FAN of binge-watching shows instead of waiting to see them week-to-week.  I devoured Breaking Bad and am now completely HOOKED on Scandal.  You definitely catch more of a show's nuances by watching straight through.  Huck is creepy; Quinn is annoying; Jake is hot but scary; and Olivia is laughably pregnant and it's so obvious they're trying to hide it during all of Season 3.  I love the dialog they give Melly and I can't decide whether President Fitz is hot or not. 

2.  Juice cleansing.  I already told you about the juice cleanse I did, but I just wanted to give a few more details.  You guys, I totally didn't mind doing it for 3 days.  I felt so much better afterwards.  Way less bloated.  The juices came in refrigerated packaging and are numbered 1-6, so there's no thought involved.  There were no flavors that I couldn't drink.  Some were more "interesting" than others (think spicy!) but all of them were absolutely drinkable and dare I say, filling.  I would definitely recommend and I would definitely like to do it again.  I have a coupon code:  JUS4FRIENDS to save you 15% off your online order at Jus by Julie.

3.  Gold bangle.  I am a new fan of this store called C.Wonder.  A blogger I read had taken a picture of her new bangle from here, and I instantly fell in love with it...and bought one for myself...and a friend.

4.  Monday night soccer.  I miss my soccer days of yore.  You know, when my thighs didn't rub, my feathered hair was Aqua-netted stiff, and I could run for days without getting winded.  Playing in an age 30+ indoor womens' soccer league gives me (faint) whiffs of those glory days.  It's good company (our team is super fun), good competition, and good exercise.  (If you count huffing and puffing for two 25-minute halves as exercise.  Which I totally do.)  Oh, and there's beer after.  And sometimes before.  Plus, my Sis and I play together.  We totally bicker (good-naturedly) on the field. 

5.  Good book.  It had been way too long since a book totally captured my attention.  (See binge-watching above.)  I wasn't expecting it from this book, so I was definitely caught off guard by just HOW SAD GOOD it truly was.  Warning:  read with tissues.  Related:  I totally love Goodreads!  I have no idea what I did before I had a place to keep all my must-read lists.  Oh yes I do, I kept lists on scrap paper that I constantly lost.  That was fun.  Got a good book recommendation for me??

6.  Football.  Oh yes, it's that time of year again!  But dare I say, this has been the easiest fall that we've had in years.  Middle and Baby are both playing on the same Pop Warner team, and Hubby is one of the coaches.  Eldest is taking this year off from football and is playing fall baseball.  All I have to do is show up for baseball games on Saturdays (every Saturday is usually a home doubleheader) and one football game on Sunday.  So nice!  That is, until it gets frigid out and they're still playing football in November... 
Brother helping brother.

7.  Easy appetizer.  Greek dip.  Quick and easy and delish and will get you rave reviews.  You will need:  a container of hummus (I like the Tribe extra smooth classic); a container of taboule salad (I use Cedar's brand); a container of crumbled feta cheese; chopped cucumber; chopped tomato; and a small can of sliced black olives.  I always serve it in a disposable 8x8 pan.  Spread hummus in bottom, then taboule, then feta.  Add chopped cukes, tomatoes and olives and sprinkle more feta.  Best served with pita chips.  (I use either Stacy's or Town House.)

Happy Fall!  What are you enjoying this season?

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Where I Was When the Planes Hit

I repost this every year:

A Tuesday.  Crisp and cool.  Clear skies.

I was 36 weeks pregnant. Lumbering and uncomfortable as I boarded the 7:22 a.m. commuter rail bound for my job at a law firm in Boston.

Arrived at work after 8. Was chatting on the phone with a friend, discussing our baby showers that had both taken place that weekend. Mine on Saturday, hers on Sunday (our poor collective friends!) while our hubbies frollicked in New York City at a Yanks/Sox game. One of my friends from Florida had flown up for my shower. She flew out of Logan Airport in Boston on Monday morning.

I was interrupted from my conversation when a co-worker peeked her head in and said, "Your husband is on my line. He needs to talk to you." So I said goodbye to my friend (who was home, but didn't have her TV on) and got on the line with Hubby. "Do you have your computer on?" he asked breathlessly. "No. I just got here and was on the phone with Mary. Why? What's up?" "A plane crashed into the World Trade Center! They don't know many details yet though. TURN ON YOUR COMPUTER!"

Slowly the buzz began to spread on my 21st floor. We were directed into a conference room to watch the breaking news on a projection screen. That was when I saw the second plane hit.

Shortly after, a firm-wide e-mail was delivered. Our building would be closing at 10 a.m. We were all to evacuate immediately.

I called Hubby back. (Meanwhile he had been frantically trying to call me. The firm's phone lines were being inundated.) Hubby was nervous that they were going to shut down all public transportation. That I wouldn't be able to get out of the city of Boston. 9 months pregnant.

My friend Michelle (who was also working in Boston at the time) and I miraculously got through to each other via our cell phones. We met downtown, so we could walk to the train station together. It was eerie. Practically everyone in downtown Boston had been evacuated. The city streets were packed, yet it was oddly hushed. Everyone was rushing, furiously punching buttons on their cell phones, desperately trying to get a signal.

I tried to call Hubby from the train station to let him know what my (meager) train options were to get back home to Central Massachusetts. There was only one train heaed towards home, yet it would only take me as far as Framingham, about a 45 minute drive, and NOT where I had parked my car that morning. But I couldn't get in touch with him. The lines were jammed.

So I waited until the last possible minute to board that train, worried that Hubby might already be driving into Boston to collect me; nervous that he wasn't, and that I indeed NEEDED to get on the train. Finally, as the annoucement was blaring, "Final boarding call!", Hubby and I connected. I SHOULD take the train, and he'd pick me up in Framingham.

As you can imagine, the train was packed. Every seat full, every aisle space occupied. But so silent.

Someone kindly gave me a seat. I let a few strangers borrow my cell phone. Everyone lost in their own thoughts. Fear, stifled but present. Uncertainty heavy in the air.

I spent the next three days on the couch in my "uniform" (you know, at 9 months pregnant, the comfy maternity clothes that are the only ones left that possibly fit), glued to the TV. Alternating between grief, disbelief and horror.

What kind of world was I bringing a child into? Unsafe. Unpredictable.

September 11, 2001. I will never forget.



Thirteen years ago now, you guys.  Thirteen years.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Hood Sour Cream Meal Makeover

Back in August, I was invited with a few other bloggers to participate in the Hood Sour Cream Meal Makeover.  So all us bloggers got our boxing gloves oven mitts on and had a cook-off!  The rule was that we had to create a dinnertime meal that incorporated sour cream as a full ingredient in dishes (not just a scoop on top).

The pressure was on!  (Not really.  I love our Boston-area blogger network.)


The recipe I chose was one of mine I have made a LOT in my Trenches.  This dish isn't fancy, but is definitely tried and true, kid-tested, kid-friendly, and kid-approved.  

And delicious, to boot.


Sarah's Sour Cream Chicken

1 to 2 pounds chicken breast or chicken tenderloins 
(I used tenderloins for this competition because they cook faster)
 16oz container Hood sour cream
1 pack Good Seasons Italian seasoning (found in salad dressing aisle)
garlic powder, salt, pepper, and parsley to taste
2 cups crushed Corn Flakes

Pour packet of Italian seasoning into sour cream container and stir.
 Pound chicken until tender.
Coat both sides of chicken in sour cream mixture and then roll in crushed cornflake crumbs.
Season with spices, if so desired.
Place in 9x13 buttered/greased baking dish.
Bake at 375 until chicken is cooked through and cornflakes are lightly browned
(about 30 min for tenderloins; longer for chicken breasts).
Serve with regular sour cream as dipping sauce.
Enjoy!


Friday, September 05, 2014

So You Think You Can Do a 3-Day Juice Cleanse...

Day 1:

I wake up feeling bloated and gross, most likely from a Chinese food binge the evening before. Ahem.

I have 6 juices to drink, spread throughout my day.  The juices are numbered, so there's absolutely no thought involved whatsoever.  I take the first four to work with me.

I'm cranky, knowing that I won't be having any of my (beloved) Coke Zero to get me through the next three days.  I dramatically ponder whether I will even remember how to chew after drinking liquids for so long.  Nonetheless, I'm motivated to do this 3-day juice cleanse with success.

I realize, right around lunchtime, that it's probably not the best idea to peruse Pinterest for meal ideas.  I'm starting to get a dull achy headache, which I was expecting.  Surprisingly, I'm not that hungry, and damn, I feel like I'm constantly drinking a juice.  Right when I finish one, it's time for another!


I've never peed so much in my life, except for when I was 9 months preggo.  (Note to self:  don't wear Spanx while juicing.)  

I get home from work and still have 2 more juices to go.  I drink Juice #5, which happens to be a peanut butter and banana combo, while my family enjoys a nice roast from the crockpot, along with orzo, corn and bread.  I'm proud of myself for not sampling even a grain of orzo.  No food touches my lips as I hold in the tears.


I call it a day before 9pm.  If I don't go to bed, I'm worried all go all Hulk-smash/Cookie Monster in the kitchen.  Yeah, it's just safer to go to bed.


Day 2:

The first thing I do is weigh myself.  I'm down 3.4 pounds from yesterday.  Yes, I'm fully aware that it's just water weight, but psychologically, it helps.

I still have a dull headache.

Today I don't feel like I'm constantly drinking.  As a matter of fact, I find myself watching the clock, checking to see when it's time for the next one.

I'm also starting to think about Friday.  What happens when the cleanse is over?  How am I going to stay on track with this and not allow myself to go backwards?  Ugh.


I can feel my resolve start to waiver as my co-worker carries a piping hot pizza to her office.  I can smell that shit and it smells phenomenal.  *sigh*  2 more juices to go while I'm here at the office.  Is it too much to hope that my next juice will instead be a solid block of chocolate?  Or Doritos?

Later in the afternoon, as I walk by a candy dish on someone's desk, I have to will my arm not to reach out and grab a Milky Way bite.  They're so teeny tiny.  Surely one can't hurt?  But I resist.

It's 3pm.  I'm officially halfway done with this.  I have downed 9 juices, with 9 more to go between the rest of today and tomorrow.  I mean, I *should* feel somewhat victorious, in an "I CAN DO THIS" fist-pump sort of way, but alas, my stomach is rumbling, my head aches, and I feel light-headed.

Dinnertime before football and baseball practices.  Thankfully all the boyz had already eaten before I got home from work.  But then my loving husband decides to make himself some bacon.  OMG the smell.  Thanks, dear.

At 6:00, I'm done with my cardio workout.  I do 2.65 miles in 31 minutes.  

After my run/walk (ralk? rulk?), it's time for Juice #5, which tonight is a surprisingly refreshing Island Coconut made with coconut meat and water, date and cinnamon.  I mean, it's no steak, but it will do.


After everyone gets home from their respective practices, I realize I haven't yet drank my final juice of the day.  Dare I say I'm not even hungry?  I force myself to drink Juice #6 at 8pm while everyone else is enjoying ice cream.  The bastards.

Bed at 9pm.

Day 3:

I'm officially down a total of 6 pounds.  With one more day to go.  I actually feel like I can do this and get through the day.  I'm telecommuting, so will be home all day.  I decide to forgo my usual routine of grocery shopping during lunchtime.  NO WAY.

I guess I should really start thinking about how I'll re-introduce solid food to myself tomorrow...

The headache is still ever-present, but dull.  Oh, and my stomach gurgles lulled me to sleep last night.

By 1pm I am done with 3 of the 6 juices.  Today is pretty hard.  The bag of chips on top of my refrigerator beckons me with its salty crunchy goodness.   I ignore it, even though I really just want to do this:


At 5pm I start to think about Juice #5.  We have an Open House at the boys' middle school for Eldest and Middle, so I will actually have to socialize with people.  Even in my crabby state.  I think I can, I think I can...

I do some research on eating after juicing, and set a plan for myself that tomorrow I will try to just eat raw fruits and vegetables during the day. 

Bedtime is at 10pm.  I actually retire without drinking my final juice of the cleanse.  Instead, I save it for the morning.

And with that, the CLEANSE IS OVER!

Conclusion:

I end up down a total of 7.4 pounds overall.  I feel proud of myself that I stuck with it for all 3 days without even cheating once.  Not so much as even a stick of gum or a mint, people.  It was tough, but I did it!

My belly is less bloated.  My face looks a little thinner.  I'm now motivated to keep those numbers on the scale dropping.

Worth it?  Yes.

[If you're interested, this is the juice cleanse I did.  I have a 15% off coupon if you're interested.  This is NOT a sponsored post.]

I'll leave you with Jimmy Fallon's take on juice cleanses.  Hilarious.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

My, How They Grow


 First Day 2007...
 
First Day 2008...

First Day 2010...

and Yesterday.

I think I must have something in my eye.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Summer's End

You can feel it in the air.  A crispness.  The sense of anticipation.  The deliberate savoring of the last few lazy breaths of summer.

Here in New England, the wind-down has already begun, as the temperatures begin to dip at dusk and the sweatshirts are donned.

Backpacks are unburied.  School supplies are checked off the list.  Summer reading is done.  Or not.

School starts on Tuesday for us, and I am completely torn as to whether I want this to happen.  Not that there's anything I can do about it, but still.

The days when I telecommute and spend the majority of my hours listening to bickering, refereeing fights, saying no to ridiculous requests, mediating arguments and issuing orders for the thousandth time, I am SO READY for school to start.

The nights where I'm a short-order cook because everyone is rushing off to football and they all want something different to eat, I am SO READY for school to start.

The times when my Trenches are a complete mess because I have three children who are home alllll day, I am SO READY for school to start.

The moments when absolutely no one hears what I'm saying because their faces are buried in their electronic devices, I am SO READY for school to start.

And yet there will be much to miss about the relaxed ease of summer days and nights...

Championships

 Brotherhood
 
"Stardom"

Camaraderie and laughs


 Lazy lego days

Chillin'

Fun with friends

 Spontaneous beach days

 Diggin'

Beach baseball sunsets

Blissful moments of quiet

 Fishin'

 Quality cousin time

 Sisterhood

Family

And then there's the ice-cream-for-dinners; the "go to bed whenever you wants"; the swimming counts as a shower nights; the s'mores streaked faces with firepit-scented hair; barefoot feet; the pungent scent of chlorine; and the no-homework/no school lunches/no early wake-up mornings.  

*sigh*

Goodbye Summer 2014.  You sure were a good one.


Friday, August 15, 2014

The Cape Cod Mystery


We had a WONDERFUL vacation at the Cape this year!  After taking last year off, it was nice to remember how relaxing it is to go away with good friends.  To laugh, to play cards, to watch all our children play on the beach.  Good for the soul.  I highly recommend.


This year, however, wasn't without its share of drama.  No, we didn't lose a child.  No, we didn't bust through a screen door.

But there was a huDge hailstorm.


That, in turn, flooded the ENTIRE basement of the house we were renting.  This is important to note because three of the five children were sleeping (not at the time though - it was 6pm) in that partially finished basement in a room that had a queen bed and a single bed.  Water was GUSHING in through the basement window during the storm.  Thankfully we were there.  Thankfully both husbands stepped up to the task of damage control.  After calling the owner to tell him, they pulled up all the carpet remnants (that were now soaked under an inch of standing water) and proceeded to wet-dry vac the basement for the next FOUR hours.  Studs, those men of ours.

So now we were short a bedroom.  And uh, my Sis was already on her way to spend the night and go to the beach with us the next day.  Sleeping arrangements were quickly procured.  Jay and Mary would stay in their bedroom with their two children sleeping on the floor on sleeping bags.  My older two would sleep in the room with two twin beds.  And Baby and my Sis would sleep on the living room couches.  Problem solved!

But that's not where this story ends.  Oh no.  There's more.

Fast forward to later that night, when only the 5 adults were still up.  Close to midnight.  Jay lovingly prepared a sausage, egg and cheese breakfast casserole while the remaining four of us (me, Hubby, Sis and Mary) played cards.  We decided he should bake the casserole that night and then we would heat it up in the morning before we trekked to the beach.  The entire house smelled delish, and after it had cooled down a bit, it was placed in the fridge.  It was probably about 2am by the time we all retired for the night.

The next morning, I awoke at 7am, ready to prep for the beach.  My Sis was awake on the living room couch and Jay was already in the kitchen.  I opened the fridge to grab stuff to make sandwiches and noticed that the two pot holders for the casserole were on the shelf in the fridge, alone, so I took them out and put them back in the drawer, figuring that the casserole was already in the oven or microwave.  

As I started making sandwiches for the beach, Jay asked, "Should we heat up the casserole?" and I said, "Yeah, I figured that's what you were doing."

Um, except he wasn't.  The two of us quickly realized that the casserole, in fact, wasn't in the kitchen at all and that it was uh, missing???

No casserole in the oven.  No casserole in the microwave.  No casserole to be found IN THE  HOUSE.  OR THE YARD.  OR THE GARBAGE.  OR THE BASEMENT.  OR ANYWHERE.  It was, quite simply, GONE.

Wanted:  Dead or Alive

At first, we were joking about it.  Figuring someone had maybe sleepwalked?  And ate it?  Were we too drunk to realize we had all eaten it the night before?  Nope.

At this point, my Sis realized something else.  Her backpack was also missing.  [*insert eerie music here*]

It seemed that now we had a real mystery on our hands.

Lost:  One Sausage Egg and Cheese Casserole

Also Lost:  One purple North Face backpack containing a bag of Cool Ranch Doritos and Mountain Dew.  (It also, sadly, contained my Sis's designer sunglasses, her appointment book, her journals, and her prescription medicine.)


(What 5 grown adults felt like after searching for hours and coming up empty.)

1.  Did someone break in?  My purse was right in plain sight, as were all our electronics.  Nothing else was missing.  There was no sign of entry.  All the doors were locked.  All 10 of us were sleeping on the main floor.  No one heard anything, which leads me to...

2. Was it a hungry ghost?

3.  Or even creepier, was it a hungry stoner jonesing for some snacks and WATCHING US while we were merrily unaware and the scent of casserole was wafting throughout the neighborhood?  The backpack (open, with the bag of Doritos peeking out) was last seen in the living room, right where my Sis and my 9-year old son were sleeping

4.  Did someone (a family member, a previous renter) have an extra key and walk right in?

We still have no what happened.

Weird, right??????  So weird.



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