Friday, February 20, 2015

More Questions, More Answers

We were iced in for a few days this week, so I had a little time to answer the next set of questions from the 36 Questions to Bring You Closer Together. Having extra time with the kids and Jason was a bonus, but the whole idea of not being able to leave the house is claustrophobic. And I am a lot like our shepherd mix: if I don't get a run in every day, I start to pace and get anxious. I usually run through any conditions, but it was too treacherous even for me. Running on the treadmill is terrifying. I'm afraid I will fall off, and that is because I have fallen off! But I've sucked it up and gotten through a couple of workouts inside and I'm just looking forward to running outside again after this d*$# ice melts! We're due for one more blast of ice today and then solid rain and warmer temps tomorrow.

Anyway, here goes:

10. If you could change anything about the way you were raised, what would it be?
Not much, but I wish someone had pushed me more to try and stick to sports at a young age. I consider myself pretty athletic now, but I didn't pick up running or working out much at all until after college. I'm not sure if this is a fair complaint because I did take years and years of dance and tumbling lessons and played a few team sports.

11. Take four minutes and tell you partner your life story in as much detail as possible.
Who needs four minutes when you have this

12. If you could wake up tomorrow having gained one quality or ability, what would it be?
I'd like to wake up and be multilingual! And also have the answer to world peace and cures for things like cancer, AIDS, ebola, etc. That's all before lunch. Also, the ability to get my kids to eat anything and everything I make without complaint. I think world peace and curing diseases would be simpler.
13. If a crystal ball could tell you the truth about yourself, your life, the future or anything else, what would you want to know?
I don't think it could tell me anything that I wouldn't rather learn myself. The only thing that comes to mind are cures for diseases and perhaps the winning Powerball numbers.

14. Is there something that you've dreamt of doing for a long time? Why haven't you done it?
Writing a book. I don't know why I haven't started. 

15. What is the greatest accomplishment of your life?
Raising my kids is and continues to be my greatest accomplishment. Nothing else comes close.

16. What do you value most in a friendship?

17. What is your most treasured memory?
How can anyone pick one? Impossible. As a kid, going out for dinner on my birthday every year with my mom and dad. It was the one night of the year my dad would go out with us and we all dressed up. As an adult, walking down the aisle with my grandpa and Jack and seeing Sophie and Hawkes together for the first time.

18. What is your most terrible memory?
Sitting in a movie theater in college on a date and looking up to see another friend, Michael Sorrow, standing there in the aisle trying to get my attention. I couldn't figure out why he was there, but soon realized he had gotten a call from someone trying to find me to tell me my dad was dying and I needed to get home to say goodbye. I made it home to Galesburg and my dad died within a few hours.

19. If you knew that in one year you would die suddenly, would you change anything about the way you are now living? Why? 
I would probably take more chances. 

20. What does friendship mean to you?
Being honest, loyal, compassionate, free of judgment and having fun. 

Friday, February 6, 2015

Plagiarism is Awesome

I made a promise to myself to post once a week. So far I'm 1/1 but it's going to take thievery to go 2/2. Thank you to my college friend, Kristi, who I reconnected with thanks to the magic of Facebook, for letting me steal this idea. I love to write and I'm not delusional enough to think anyone but me will pour over my posts, so they're mostly just for me. But, if you're reading, that's icing on the cake!

Here we go. Over the next four or so posts, I'll answer nine questions. This is the first set:

1. Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?
Myself as a teenager.

2. Would you like to be famous? In what way?
I have no desire whatsoever to be famous! I enjoy wearing old workout clothes to Target on Saturdays way too much.

3. Before making a phone call, do you ever rehearse what you're going to say? Why?
No, but I do think about it carefully if it's anything but a phone call to check in on a friend of family member. 

4. What would constitute a perfect day for you?
Everyone sleeps in until at least 7am, the coffee is ready the moment I walk in the kitchen and the kids wake up happy. We all go for a run on the greenway and out for breakfast before heading to the Zoo or to an outdoor festival. The kids magically take naps at the same time and I get to watch one of the 57 shows I have DVR'd but never catch up on, like Scandal or Downton Abbey. Kids wake up super happy and we all play outside until dinner, when we head to our favorite Mexican restaurant for lots of good bad food. The kids both go to bed in under 10 minutes after we return home with no encore calls for more stories. Wine and hanging out with my husband, and a solid night of sleep. 

5. When did you last sing to yourself? To someone else?
Last night, the Annie soundtrack in my car. And again, last night, singing songs from Annie with Sophie after we got home.

6. If you were able to live to the age of 90 and retain either the mind or body of a 30-year old for the last 60 years of your life, which would you choose?
I feel like a lot of elements of my body are in my control. I hope I'm still running when I'm 90. If I'm not, I know I will find something else I can do to stay fit. It's too important to me not to. I don't, however, feel like I can control what happens to my mind as I grow older so I'd have to say retaining my mind would be my choice. 

7. Do you have a secret hunch about how you will die?
No. And I'd never want to know.

8. Name three things you and your partner appear to have in common.
We both have careers focused on helping people in some way. We both love politics. We both love to run. 

9. For what in your life do you feel most grateful?
The health of myself and my family. 

Thursday, January 29, 2015

What?! A New Post?

Skipping right over the excuses for not writing a post for months (and months), here's one that I grabbed from my favorite blog, Iowa Girl Eats. I want to see what you have to say about yourselves, too! 

Household chore I actually enjoy
Ummm… this is hard. I don’t really enjoy any of them but I do enjoy having a clean house! If I had to pick one, I’d say cleaning the wood floors. I love the way they look for the 90 seconds before dog hair and kid sludge reappears.

Biggest house disaster
Just one?? Our back porch and mud room. Both areas look like Sanford and Sons meets Home Depot. Bags of unused Quickrete, old toys that don’t work, three different strollers, all of our Christmas decorations that have been sitting there for over a MONTH… they make me crazy. We haven’t yet built in storage and hooks in the mud room so it’s just the place where all the clutter goes to die, plus we have approximately 15 cans of paint sitting in there.

Before company arrives, I hide
The five or six laundry baskets full of clean clothes that no one will put away.

Most recent music download
The Annie soundtrack. One of the greatest joys in my life is singing every single song with Sophie, who loves both the original and the new movie.

The last thing I bought online
A new comforter for our bedroom. There was too much gray with the walls and our old gray duvet cover and I’m excited to see how the color in the new one brightens up the room.


I hate to shop for Bras. TMI, but true. There is nothing more humbling to me than post-baby, post-nursing bra shopping. And I’m not gonna lie, I would wear the stretchy nursing bras forever and ever if I could.  

Favorite family ritual
I hate to leave Hawkes out of this one, but I love the last few minutes of the evening with Sophie and Jason. I’m sure Hawkes will join in down the road, but for now it’s the three of us all snuggled into Sophie’s bed while we 1) read a book 2) Jason tells a crazy story with lots of direction from Sophie and 3) Sophie tells us about her day. Precious time and we learn a LOT about what’s going on in that brain of hers.

I sleep in
Lately, these Zella soft pants that aren’t really pajamas. Pajama pants don’t work for me; they’re always too short after one dryer cycle. These Zella pants are awesome.

I have a style crush on
I have no idea! I like my own style.

I’m currently reading
Food: A Love Story.  But let me be real: I'm in a book club and I don't read the books. At least not very often. I just love the people in the club and the discussions we have (especially after wine) about all kinds of things.

What’s up with the ___ trend?
High-waisted jeans. Why? I don’t mean normal-waisted, i.e. not low-rider, jeans. High-waisted.

How did I ever live without
My Brooks Ghost running shoes. Love them so much. I thought I was a Mizuno person for the longest time, but I hadn’t met the Ghost yet. Wine comes in a close second.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Veggie White Chili with Poblanos

I love fall. It's no secret in my family that October and November are my two favorite months. I love the crisp, cool air. I love running in that cool air early in the morning. The leaves, especially sugar maple leaves! I love fall clothes so, so much. Boots. Sweaters. Why does it seem like fall doesn't last as long as it used to?

Something else I love about fall is making soup. Sunday afternoons are my time to prep soups, stews and chilis that can simmer for hours and make excellent leftovers and freeze well. We are pescetarian (we don't eat meat but we do occasionally eat fish) and I rarely use my crock pot because I just haven't found a lot of slow cooker recipes that are vegetarian. I stumbled upon this recipe recently that is veggie and I had to try it.

This Veggie White Chili with Poblanos may sound spicy, but it's really not unless you leave the seeds on the peppers. To cut down on prep time, I stock up on frozen bags of mirepoix (carrots, celery and onion mix) and Cajun mirepoix (green pepper, celery and onion mix).  

I was a little nervous about roasting the poblano peppers, but it turned out to be really simple. Here goes:

Veggie White Chili with Poblanos
Adapted from Potluck at Oh My Veggies
  • 2 medium poblano peppers
  • 1 frozen bag of Cajun mirepoix
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika (I used regular paprika)
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 2 15-ounce cans cannellini beans, drained
  • ¾ cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed under cold water and drained
  • Garnishes: Cholula hot sauce, sour cream, mexican cheese

Photo courtesy of Potluck at Oh My Veggies
  1. First, roast your poblanos. Turn the oven on to the high broil setting and move the rack to about one-third of the way from the top of the oven. Wash and dry whole peppers and place on a sheet of aluminum foil on a cookie sheet. Place in the oven and broil until all sides are blackened. I suggest not walking away! All ovens are different but this may only take a few minutes.
  2. Remove peppers from the oven and carefully tent the foil over them to trap the heat and make the peppers sweat, which makes the skin peel easily.
  3. While the poblanos are cooling, heat the olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat and add the frozen Cajun mirepoix veggies. Cook for a few minutes until the veggies are warm throughout and softened.
  4. Add the garlic, oregano, cumin, smoked paprika, cloves, and salt. Cook, stirring, for one minute.
  5. Add a cup or so of broth and stir to make sure all the bits of flavor are scraped up into the broth. Carefully pour into the slow cooker along with the remaining vegetable broth, cannellini beans and quinoa.
  6. Carefully peel the skin off of the poblanos and remove the stem. Remove the seeds for a milder chili; keep them for a hotter chili. Finely dice and add to the Crock Pot. Stir gently to mix all of the ingredients together.
  7. Cook on high for 3 - 4 hours until the quinoa is tender and the chili is relatively thick. Taste and add additional salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Scoop into bowls and garnish with additional toppings if desired.
I never know what to expect with the number of servings. We are all hearty eaters and something that is supposed to feed 6-8 often doesn't in my house! This chili went a long way so I would say it yielded at least 6-8 servings and thanks to all the quinoa and beans, it's very filling. 

Do you have soup, stew or chili recipes to share? Anything that could be converted to veggie? I need some inspiration!  Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Waiting is the Hardest Part

It has been a long while since I've posted an update about our house project.  Without going into too much detail, I'll just say it has gone over budget, long past the scheduled completion date, and we are way over it and ready to put the stress behind us and, finally, move into our home. No large project is without stress, but we have learned a lot through this process and I think have some valuable takeaways we'll apply to any future projects.  We have renovated two houses previously, but this is by far the most extensive project we've had.  

We are within weeks of moving in, and I'm working on putting together some before and after photos of the house.  I'll share just a few photos here for now, all taken about two weeks ago.  Since these were taken, cabinets have been installed, tile work has been completed and painting is underway. More pics to come soon.

Exterior of Addition - the brick on the original house was impossible to match, so we elected to install durable hardy board siding painted to match rather than using a different type of brick.

Master Bedroom

Master Bedroom
Master Bedroom
Bonus Room

Bonus Room

Looking into dining/sitting area from bonus room.  The new back entry way/mud room is to the left and the new powder room is to the right.

Looking out into the living room and the front window from the dining room


Dining Room and Sitting Area / Fireplace.  The doorway to the right leads to the original bedrooms and bathrooms.

Living Room and Cabinets (lots of cabinets)

Computer closet

Hallway to new laundry room and master suite
Master Bathtub

Master Shower

Master toilet closet

No more acoustic ceilings.  All original rooms in the house had acoustic ceilings and we had to apply 1/4" sheet rock over them because they had been applied with a glue that proved impossible to sand down to remove.
Front door - surprise purchase Jason made. A solid walnut door with pretty side light panels.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Stitch Fix

I posted some photos of my first Stitch Fix box of goodies on Instagram and Facebook last month and it's time again for a new box to arrive!  I just got my shipping confirmation this morning, along with a referral credit.  Every time someone signs up with my referral code, I get a credit, which helps me sustain my healthy appetite for new clothes.  This is a shirt from last month's fix:

If you haven't signed up for a Stitch Fix yet, please think about trying it! The deal is, it's a $20 stylist fee for each Fix, but if you keep even one item in the Fix, you're credited back the $20.  If you keep all five items, you get the $20 credited back plus 25% off the entire order.  There's no shipping for receiving or returning items and you can leave as much or as little feedback about what you liked or didn't like as you want.  Also, you can receive fixes as often or seldom as you like. 

Here's my referral link: 

Last month, I only kept one item of the five in the package, but I was tempted to keep three of the five.  I can't wait to see what's in this month's fix!

Time is Flying

I had every intention of writing two- and three-month posts for Hawkes, but that hasn't happened!  He was three months old this week and I have yet to slap that three month sticker on his chest and take a photo, but it will happen!  He is such a big guy now and really strong.  

Yep, I could look at this face all day! His eyes are not as blue now - they are a blueish/greenish/brownish hazel.

I love this face - it's his skeptical face.  He's starting to really enjoy his play mat, but he's apparently suspicious of some of the dangling toys.

My favorite face - the gummy smile! Hawkes is such a happy, smiling little guy. It makes the tired days a lot more fun after some sleepless nights.
Likes:  Sophie, jumping/putting weight on his legs, putting his entire hand in his mouth, drooling, Sophie, blowing bubbles, Sophie, foot rubs, On Top of Spaghetti, Sophie, Twinkle Twinkle, Sophie, being naked or having his diaper changed, Sophie, baths, and pretty much anything Sophie does (except maybe when she grabs and squeezes his head or pinches him - gah!)

Dislikes: Sleeping all night long.  Ha!  We were so spoiled by Sophie, who was sleeping 10 hour stretches at 9 weeks old.  Not so much with Hawkes, but I know we'll get there.  We had a crazy week last week as Houdini found ways to escape from virtually every supposedly inescapable swaddle contraption.  At this point I'm double swaddling him for naps in a Woombie underneath a velcro Summer Infant Swaddle (both of his are for "big baby"!) and at night with his arms swaddled in an Aden + Anais swaddle with a velcro Summer Infant Swaddle on top.  Crazy! While he likes to escape, he hates being unswaddled.  Go figure!

Last month, I spent the day with a wonderful young woman who helped me get Hawkes into a better routine during the day, including crib napping, and it was the best thing we could have done.  We struggled a lot last month with bottles.  We've been trying pumped bottles with him since he was about three weeks old, but he's never really taken to them and lately flat out refused them.  Knowing that I was returning to work soon and he was refusing them made me a little crazy.  We tried different techniques and bottles and finally found one, the Comotomo, that he's taking pretty well.  Fingers crossed!  

Sometimes it feels like the entire last month of maternity leave is spent preparing myself and my baby to have the leave end. I just want the transition to be as good as possible for both of us.  Just a little more than two weeks now!  He's in good hands at the same school Sophie has been in since she was an infant and even in the same room she was with awesome and loving teachers.  That makes it much easier!

Have a great weekend!