A day in the life – April 2017.

Carrying on my tradition of posting a day-in-the-life play-by-play (so. many. hyphens) every six months!  Past posts:  October 2015April 2016October 2016 

These days, Ava is sleeping like a champ and wakes up between 6:30 and 7:30 each morning.  I know that seems like a wide range of time, and maybe it is.  As such, I wake up at around the same time because I will likely never be one to get up before my child(ren).  It’s just not who I am.  Kevin, on the other hand, wakes up at around 5:15 or 5:30.  He goes downstairs, has some coffee, reads the paper, watches Mike & Mike, and sometimes goes to the gym. If he doesn’t go to the gym, he’ll go upstairs when Ava wakes up and they start their morning by turning off the sound machine, opening the blinds, and changing a diaper.  They usually find me getting out of bed and we’ll all go downstairs together.  Unless I need to stop off to throw up (or not – it’s such a pointless exercise:  nausea and the urge to puke but empty stomach, so nothing happens), which is happening less, but still trips up the morning every few days.

We do breakfast.  Ava usually has yogurt and fruit; Kevin and I usually have an English muffin with peanut butter or almond butter.  Then we just hang out downstairs until around 8:00 when it’s time to go upstairs and start getting ready.  Ava is obsessed with my makeup these days and loves “makeup time”.  She’ll haul around the brushes and containers and scatter them about as I chase after her, collecting what I need as I need it.

If it’s a morning that I work, Kevin and I will head to work at a little before 9:00 or when Sue arrives to watch Ava.  Ava has been loving Grandma (Pa-ma, she calls her) these days so there aren’t any tears when we leave.  “See ya, folks,” is more her motto.  I’ll work through the morning (audits, audits, audits – that’s the name of the game recently) and Kevin and I will usually both go home for lunch at 1:00, if he doesn’t have a meeting or something.

We’ll hear about Ava’s morning – she has been taking 1 hour to 2 hour crib naps recently (party emoji!) and will usually be eating lunch when we get home.  We’ll eat with her (leftovers, egg and avocado burrito for me, lunchmeat sandwich for Kevin – those are common) and then Kevin goes back to work.

Ava and I play and go for a walk if it’s not too windy.  We’ll stop off at the park and she’ll play there for a bit.  She loves the slides and the swing and pointing at the sand (“HOT!”) and the little ant hills and the leaves and so forth.

Once home again we’ll have a snack, then play or read or watch Raffi.  She’s obsessed with Raffi, and I don’t mind letting the DVD babysit for awhile as I rush around, cleaning up, prepping dinner, etc.  Or cuddling her on the couch and marveling at the eighties style clothes and hair of the kids and adults jamming to man in concert.

Sometimes we’ll go out in the backyard and play there for a bit.  We have a little sandbox for her and her favorite thing is climbing in and out and in and out and so on and so forth.

One day a neighborhood cat was on the back wall/fence and Ava spotted it and said, “Cat!”  The cat jumped down into another yard and ever since then Ava will point to that corner of the yard and say, “Again!” because she wants me to magically conjure up another cat.  Cats are hard to conjure.  That’s a tough pill for a one year old to swallow and I can tell that she does NOT understand why the cat isn’t on the wall.  She’s very patient through my rational explanations of cat independence, but I can tell with each “Again!” that she really just wants me to FIND A CAT.

Kevin comes home around 5:30 and if I’m on it, I’ll have started dinner.  Unless we’re grilling in which case, maybe I’ve prepped stuff, but I don’t turn on the grill (he’s shown me how no fewer than eight times and I just can’t seem to retain the information), so we wait for the grillmaster.  Dinner is served around 6:10 and we’ll eat together.  At the table, like adults!  This still shocks me because BA (Before Ava) we were committed couch and TV dinner people.  If we get done early enough and don’t need to do a bath (baths are approximately every other night or as needed, such as when peanut butter covered hands get raked through golden locks), we occasionally meet up with some families who live one street over from us.  There are five families and we call ourselves “the Five Families,” always in a Godfather-esque tone.  By we, I mean Kevin and me.  We’re too cool to actually do that in front of these people who can really just be considered acquaintances at this point.  But anyway, it’s nice to have other kids nearby and the ages range from 11 months old (well, in utero if you count the baby I’m growing!) to 6 years old – hopefully they’ll all be able to play together for many years to come.

Beginning at around 7:00, we put Ava in her pajamas and read three books with her.  We’ve been alternating nights on who puts her to bed, so one of us will say goodnight and tell her we love her and the other will pick her up, turn on the sound machine, and walk around her room, singing to her for about 5 minutes.  (Quick note on singing – she has strong opinions about which song she wants us to sing to her and will shake her head and say, “No,” until we settle on one she approves.)  When she’s getting drowsy (or sometimes not – she’s getting heavy and my back starts to hurt!), we’ll put her in the crib, finish the song we’re singing, and tell her goodnight and that Mama and Daddy love her.  Then we leave the room and – knock wood, please – she has been quiet as a little mouse, settling herself to sleep when she’s ready for the past two weeks or so.  It’s amazing.  We’re so proud of her.

Kevin and I will read or watch TV.  We commonly watch Chopped and Fixer Upper as re-runs, and our current “new” shows are Billions and Better Call Saul and Big Bang Theory, so if there is a new one for any of those, we’ll watch it.  We usually go upstairs between 9 and 9:30 and get ready for bed.  And that’s the day.  I love every moment with my little family.  I’m excited to do a post like this in October and see how things have changed.  We will have a newborn in the house!

What’s the typical day like in your life right now? 

Capsule recipe box: chicken.

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There are a few recipes we do really well in our house and these dinners are in regular rotation.  A capsule wardrobe of recipes, if you will.  While sometimes it feels like a rut, it’s a tasty rut.  I decided to share some of our favorite chicken recipes today and hope that you’ll link to some of your favorites in the comments so I can expand my repertoire.  Four of the recipes I’m sharing today just kind of evolved organically in our own kitchen, so I’m typing out the details on what we do to make it come together.  I hesitate to even call them “recipes” because they’re so basic!  The other recipes are things I found through Pinterest, usually, and I’ve linked to the original posts.

CHICKEN FAJITAS

There are a million and one fajita seasoning packets that you can get at the grocery store, or recipes for seasoning mixes that can be found online.  We do not use any of those.  We keep our fajitas really simple!  Here is the process we follow.

Ingredients:
Chicken breasts, sliced into strips
Bell peppers, sliced into strips
Onion, sliced into half-rings
Olive oil
Salt
Pepper
Garlic powder
Sometimes we’ll add a little turmeric or paprika to add a little something special.
Tortillas
Cheddar cheese, grated

Tools:
Cutting board
Knife
Skillet
Tongs or fork
Plates

Process:

  1. Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a skillet and season the chicken breast strips with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and any other seasonings you want to include
  2. Cook the chicken breast strips through.  Remove from pan and place on a plate.
  3. Using the same skillet (add a little more olive oil if needed, but we usually don’t find it’s necessary), cook the onion for a few minutes until it starts to soften.  Then add the bell peppers to the skillet and cook the veggies through.  Add a little salt and pepper to season them! (Side note:  if we’re in a hurry, we’ll often sauté the onions and bell peppers simultaneously in another skillet as the chicken is cooking.  Dirties an extra skillet, but does practically cut the cook time in half.)
  4. Add the chicken back into the skillet and mix the meat and veggies together.  Turn the burner down and let it all simmer together for a few minutes while you prep the tortillas.
  5. You can heat tortillas on the stove top but we always just put the tortilla on a plate, spread cheddar cheese on the tortilla, and stick it in the microwave for thirty seconds.
  6. Load the tortilla up with fajita mix and dive in.  :)

PAN-SEARED CHICKEN WITH BALSAMIC CREAM SAUCE

This is one of our FAVORITE, go-to meals.  Kevin and I especially love to make it on a weekend when we can prepare it together because we each play our roles so well in putting it together (I prep and clean as he actually stands over the stove doing the cooking).  You can access the recipe we use here.  We serve the chicken and the oh-so-delicious sauce with egg noodles.

MUM’S GARLIC LEMON CHICKEN

This is another favorite.  It’s from The Londoner and it’s so easy and delicious.  I definitely recommend serving it with the salad that she details in the post.  We love the pairing and the salad dressing recipe she includes is amazingly good.  You can get all the deets here.

ROASTED CHICKEN WITH SWEET POTATOES

This is one is so simple and so, so good.  Kevin and Ava love it too and we’ve been eating it at least once every few weeks recently.

Ingredients:
Chicken thighs, bone in and skin on
Sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
Salt
Pepper
Garlic powder
Oregano
Turmeric
Any other seasonings you’d like!
Olive oil

Tools:
Baking sheet with side (not a flat cookie sheet style pan)
Aluminum foil (optional)
Clean hands!

Process:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Spread a piece of aluminum foil over the baking sheet, covering the sides of the sheet.  This is optional but really helps make clean up a cinch.
  3. Place chicken thighs on baking sheet, skin side up.
  4. Arrange sweet potato chunks around chicken thighs.
  5. Season liberally with chosen seasonings.  Drizzle olive oil over it all.
  6. Use hands to mix things about and get the seasonings and oils spread around.
  7. Bake for around 45-50 minutes or until chicken thighs are cooked through.  Broil for 2 minutes to get the skin crispy.

GREEN CHILE SAUCE CHICKEN BURRITOS

This is a favorite because it’s so easy (slow cooker!) and really tasty.  We use a local green chile sauce – 505 Green Chile Sauce.  You can use any green chile sauce your grocery store carries.

Ingredients:
Green chile sauce – 1 jar
Chicken breasts – we usually do three or four, sometimes more if we want a lot of leftovers for lunches
Tortillas
Cheddar cheese, grated

Tools:
Slow cooker
Slow cooker liner (optional)

Process:

  1. If using the slow cooker liner, place it in the slow cooker.
  2. Place chicken breasts in slow cooker and pour the green chile sauce over the top.
  3. Lid on, slow cooker on, and cook!  Times vary – you know your slow cooker better than anyone else.  Ours is pretty fast we can usually do three chicken breasts on low for around four hours and be fine.
  4. When the chicken breasts are done, use two forks to shred the meat.
  5. We usually just spread some cheddar cheese on a tortilla and put it in the microwave for 30 seconds, then load up the tortilla with the shredded meat.  Fold like a burrito and enjoy this easy-peasy dinner.  You could get fancy and have sour cream, avocado, onions, tomatoes, other toppings, available too!

HONEY SESAME CHICKEN

This is a slow cooker meal that we serve over rice.  It’s really delicious and easy.  Here is the link to the recipe.

 

Do any of these sound like something you would like?  Share your favorite chicken recipe with me please!

A tale of a bathroom reno.

The title of this post makes it sound like it will be a much more dramatic story than it actually is.  Perhaps I should have gone with Veni vidi vici:  bathroom edition, but that sounds like it could be an entirely different kind of story, and well, let’s not go there.

Anyway.

We recently had our guest bathroom reno’ed and we are so. so. happy with the outcome.  Previously, the bathroom was dated; the house was built in the early nineties, and the bathroom reflected that.  More importantly – it had some issues.  With every flush, the toilet sounded like it was dying an agonizing death.  When bath water was released from the tub, it would flood the pipes and leak through the ceiling into the downstairs bathroom just below.  No bueno, si?

The befores:

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We – um, mostly Kevin (he’s so much better at this stuff than I am – he has vision) – picked out our new tub, toilet, tile for floor, tile for shower, vanity, and mirror, and a jack-of-all-trades handyman and his son did the work for us.  The entire project took a week and it was a week – and money – well spent.

Demo day results:

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^ A tribute swatch of the aquarium blue paint color that covered all the walls in the bathroom when we first bought the house. ^

New tub and new tile, in progress:

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And the after photos (taken on different days at different times, hence the different lighting)!

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The tub doesn’t leak, the toilet flushes discreetly, and it has a more classic, timeless look overall.

We have done so much to our house since buying it in the summer of 2013.

{Talkin ’bout my reno-va-tion.}

{Hello, Goodbye.}

The previous owners wouldn’t recognize it!  Our final major project is our master bathroom and we’ll probably tackle that in the spring/summer this year.  I’m also intrigued by the idea of replacing our kitchen counters.  They’re fine but so dark.  I’d like to lighten it up a bit.

Have you done any home improvement projects recently?  Any project you’d like to take on this year?

That’s a wrap {January}.


Links to Love:

  1. I have been loving the Daily Connoisseur’s YouTube videos.  I don’t watch YouTube often, but hers are some that I seek out.  I find her very soothing and I agree with so many of her philosophies.
  2. I came across her video about three ways to do overnight oats and recommend the blog post with the recipes.  We have tried the blueberries and cream version and the chocolate almond version and they are both delicious.  What overnight oats recipes do you recommend?
  3. This song.  (Million Reasons by Lady Gaga)  It has been on replay in my brain for the past week.
  4. Amanda linked to this article recently.  Definitely check it out and consider searching for yourself and opting out of having your personal info displayed on the site.
  5. This first look video was so funny!

Making Memories:

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  1. We had our guest bathroom renovated this month!  It looks so great.  Kevin and I marvel over all the things we’ve done to our home since moving in.  It really is like a different house!  The previous owners wouldn’t recognize the inside.
  2. We also had some touch up painting done around the house.  It felt good to get a few things patched and cleaned up!
  3. I was on the Nominating Committee this year for Junior League and got to help interview candidates for the slate next year.  I was slated as Nominating Chair for the upcoming year, which is exciting.  I go back and forth on leaving Junior League because I sometimes feel resentful when I’m at events, wishing I could be at home with Kevin and Ava.  But ultimately I know that it’s good for me to be involved in the organization and get out of the house for meetings and events.  I am very grateful to have such a supportive, amazing husband – he doesn’t bat an eye when I have meetings or events that take me away from home for hours at time in the evening or weekend.
  4. I went to an Escape Room with some girlfriends one Friday evening and it was such a blast.  I can’t wait to go back and am already planning a triple date with Kevin and some friends.
  5. Kevin and I made an early bird reservation at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse as a joint birthday celebration dinner.  It was so nice to get dressed up and have a date night.  We ate so much food and it was amazing.

Bookish:

  1. Read Truly Madly Guilty.  It’s Liane Moriarty’s newest and I gave it four stars.  I can understand why some people didn’t care for it.  The story did seem to move a little slowly at times, and the characters are very strong personalities.  You’ll likely either love them or hate them.  I loved them.  Each of them!  I thought they were well developed and quirky and real.
  2. Read At Home with Madame Chic:  Becoming a Connoisseur of Daily Life by Jennifer L. Scott.  I’ve read the other two books by her about lessons learned from Madame Chic (the author’s hostess when she lived in France in her early twenties) and polishing poise.  I think At Home is my least favorite of the three (I gave it three stars).  I have gotten into Jennifer’s vlogs recently.  (See above in the links section.)  I agree with much of what she says and think that she’s a great role model for teenagers and young adults.
  3. Currently reading The Danish Way of Parenting:  A Guide to Raising the Happiest Kids in the World by Jessica Joelle Alexander & Iben Sandhal; The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett (on my phone/iPad); Duplicity by Newt Gringrich (listening to this one on Audible with Kevin); and Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin.  Oh and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, because it’s time to re-read that series.
  4. Kevin has been reading The Looming Tower: Al-Quaeda and the Road to 9/11 by Lawrence Wright and Duplicity, as mentioned above.  He also started taking a class (Leadership and Organizational Behavior) this month, because he didn’t feel like he had enough on his plate with only a baby and a wife and a full time job.  :)  He’s toying with the idea of getting an MBA through UMass Amherst and this class allows him to metaphorically dip his toe into the graduate school waters.
  5. Ava hit the 1000 book mark in her 1000 books before kindergarten challenge.  We’ll try it again in a few years, when kindergarten is on the horizon.

Challenges:

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  1. Ava has been a bit of an inconsistent sleeper for the past couple of months.  I feel silly saying that has been a challenge because in general she is such a good sleeper.  But there were a few nights where she woke up out of sorts and on one night we threw up the white flag after an hour and a half of crying it out.  Kevin slept on the floor of her room and that seemed to satisfy her.  She also does not like to be left alone to fall asleep, whereas she used to sooth herself to sleep just fine and dandy.  Now we need to stay in the room with her until she drifts off.  It’s just different and we don’t know what caused it.  Our trip to Denver last month?  A developmental leap (she’s in the ninth Wonder Weeks phase now and she is always hyper-aware during those leaps)?  We finally seemed to be getting back on track and then…dun dun dun…she got a cold.  However, the latest and greatest is that as of last night, January 31, Ava has been left in her crib awake and has not cried a bit for four consecutive nights.  She chats to herself and then falls asleep alone and on her own.  It’s been very exciting and I hope it continues.  January – I guess you could say it came in like a lion and out like a lamb on the sleeping front for the sweet girl.
  2. There was a bit of a challenge to our schedule when the reno work was being done to the bathroom.  The cats had to be locked up in our master suite (woe is them) during the day and it was loud and disruptive.  Ava couldn’t nap or even peacefully play at home so we spent a lot of time at Craig and Sue’s house.  Fortunately they live close so it’s easy to go back and forth.  We’re glad to have this project done!  We’ll tackle our master bathroom in the spring when we can play outside more.  That’s going to be a longer project.  Yikes.
  3. After almost 15 months of perfect health, a cold virus struck my poor baby.  She was sniffly, stuffy, and sneezy, and it was so hard to watch her struggle with not feeling 100%.  She is such a trooper though, and we were really lucky – overall she continued to feel well and be her cheerful self during the day.  She struggled to get comfortable at night and had a hard time breathing while lying down.  Fortunately it was pretty mild and passed relatively quickly.  We did a few steams and ran the humidifier and diffused peppermint oil.
  4. I don’t want to get into politics, but regardless of where any American stands on issues, January was a challenging month.  As a nation, we are very divided.  That division scares me.  I am scared for this country and the world, and I am disappointed in how leadership has handled many things.

Sustenance:

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  1. This month we ate a few of our regular rotation meals – chicken fajitas (strips of chicken breast, bell pepper, onion, seasoned with salt/pepper/garlic powder, sautéed in olive oil, and served over a tortilla with cheese), beef stroganoff (we usually use ground beef rather than stew meat and we always add mushrooms), roast, a smoked salmon that we regularly get at Whole Foods, these Cuban sliders
  2. We made lentil soup for the second time and really enjoyed it again.  It’ll become part of the regular rotation in the winter.  It’s not an Ava friendly meal though.  Soup is hard to eat for a little lady mastering utensils, and she did try it…but didn’t love the flavor.  We made her a ham sandwich and she was content.  :)
  3. I feel like we tried more than two new recipes this month, but I’m only remembering these – braised coconut spinach chickpeas with lemon and the Pioneer Woman’s Chicken with Mustard Cream Sauce.
  4. Perhaps the meal highlight of the month was our joint birthday celebration dinner date out at Ruth’s Chris.  Oh it was so delicious.
  5. Effective January 5 (we had to wait until after my birthday :)), Kevin and I are back on our righteous eating plan and allowing ourselves three cheats a week.  Cheats include fast food, fried food, sweets, pizza, and pasta.  We followed this plan for the majority of last year and feel like it is a good way to stay on track with conscious food decisions while also not depriving ourselves altogether.  Kevin also has started seeing a personal trainer once or twice a week.  He’s hoping to expand his repertoire of workouts that he can do on his own.  I’ve signed up for a month of unlimited hot yoga at a place very near our house and I’m excited about getting into that.

How was your January?  Tell me something good!

There’s a basket for that. And other “life hacks”.

One day, out of the blue, I noticed that I love baskets. There are approximately a million of them, scattered around my home. Each fulfills its basket destiny by bringing some semblance of organization and containment to what would otherwise – I’m certain – be a chaotic space. Here are a few of my favorite uses for my wicker friends.

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This one is the keeper of my flip flops and sandals. A nice sturdy square basket, it sits stoically in my closet, keeping the summer shoe selection out of trouble.

Also: life hack – I put a rubber band around each pair of sandals. Keeps me from digging through the basket to find that elusive (fun fact:  I recently learned the difference between allusive and illusive and elusive.  I’m so proud to show off my newfound knowledge.) other sandal.

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A vanity basket. Our master bath has a long vanity and one sink. Kevin keeps his manly toiletries on one side of the sink and I keep my Listerine, coconut oil, and other potions on the other side. When we first moved into this house, it was chaos. We each had our side but the stuff was just sitting out, getting shuffled about and knocked over and so forth and so on.  I stumbled upon these sweet baskets at Cost Plus World Market (aka:  the store that makes me want to buy everything in the store) and they have been perfect for keeping our stuff organized on our his – and – her sides of the vanity.

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A toy basket.  There are two toy baskets in the house – one in our den and one in Ava’s room.  I really don’t want to become a house that is overrun with toys, so these two small baskets are perfect for keeping toys contained but accessible.  I’m sure they’ll continue to have magic keeping-the-house-picked-up powers once Ava is more mobile and has fine tuned her toy transport skills.  Ha. Ha. Wink. Wink.

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A bread basket.  Our counter was laden with gluten (wheat bread, tortillas, and oatmeal English muffins are staples in this house) and the bags were driving me bonks.  So I hid it all in a basket.  Naturally.

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A mail basket.  We’re pretty good about going through the mail right away and recycling/shredding/filing as needed.  But there was inevitably a few items stacked up and what better place to keep them semi-hidden than a basket.  It’s also helpful for storing charger cords, etc.

That’s it for baskets today.  But there are two more storage idea “life hacks” I want to share.  First, one that I learned from Tiffany, my college roommate – kind of a rolodex system for addresses.  It’s just a recipe box, alphabet separator tab things, and index cards.  I list the name and address of my nearest and dearest on an index card and then when they move, it’s a simple thing to shred the old card and create a new one with the updated address.  Or a friend gets married and changes her name – create a new card with the new name.  Gone are the days of crossing out names and addresses in an address book.  I also like storing stamps in the address box.

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I also have an expandable file thing where I keep cards and letters and ticket stubs and Playbills and other memorabilia associated with my closest family and friends.  I’m not one to get too attached to things as I’m not especially sentimental and I don’t like clutter.  But I do love keeping some items and I’ve found this is a good way to store them.

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Do you have any organizational life hacks?  Do share! 

Garden update.

Our garden is doing well overall.

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Some of the flowers we planted are past their prime but others (I think they are begonias) are thriving.
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We have harvested three tomatoes and there are many many more on the vine. Hopefully they’ll ripen up soon.

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We have three eggplants in various stages of ripe and two bell peppers on one of the pepper plants.

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The two types of thyme, rosemary, and lavender are doing quite well. Really the biggest disappointment this year has been the basil. You know how I love my basil pesto and our basil plants have really struggled since about late June. I think it got too hot for them. Or maybe we should add some nutrients? I don’t know, but they are a sad light green color.

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The monsoon season has brought a few really good rainstorms and there is nothing quite like rain to help the crops (even when the crops are our little garden). It has been another fun summer in the garden.

Did you plant a summer garden? Is it thriving or wilting?

The staycation that was.

Kevin and I toyed with the idea of taking a long weekend away this summer.  Maybe somewhere in the mountains.  We looked at a few Air B&B cabins and ultimately decided that getting away was more trouble than it was worth.  So instead we chose a weekend to tack a Friday and Monday onto and indulged in a little staycation.  Our goal was for it to be a nice combination of productive and relaxing, and it delivered.

Friday:

We knew it was important to get the productive part out of the way first.  We arranged for Craig and Sue to split the day caring for Ava and Kevin and I tackled the garage – after fueling up on Oscar’s breakfast burritos (aka:  the best breakfast burritos).  The garage had become a catch all for all and while our vehicles fit inside, nothing was organized and it was driving us bonkers.  We hit it hard early in the morning and made a few piles:  dump, keep, and donate.  It gets messier before it gets better, but we started to see progress as we filled the trash bin and recycle bin.  Kevin built some shelves and I killed some spiders and it was a good time all around.  Except maybe for the spiders.  I didn’t think to take before pictures of the mess, but here are a few in progress photos.

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Perhaps the highlight for me was organizing the tools I’d gotten from my dad’s stuff when he passed away a few years ago and learning how to neatly store an extension cord.  I pulled up this YouTube video on the spot and had the extension cord neatly roped within five minutes.  Ahh, technology and education.  It’s a great time to be alive.

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We took a load of stuff to the dump and a load of stuff to recycle and a load of stuff to the hazardous household waste drop off place.  And the garage looked amazing by the end of the day!  Weeks later, we still smile every time we walk out there.

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Kevin was multi-tasking this entire time.  He had seasoned a brisket (that my mom gave him last year – thanks, mom!) and put it on the grill with a smoke box full of mesquite chips.

imageIt smoked low and slow for around 8 hours and we had a delicious dinner that night.  Seriously – so good.  It had this amazing crust on it where the seasoning had charred and the brisket itself was so tender. He was pretty critical of his first meat smoking experience (he’d overfilled the smoke box so the chips couldn’t smoke as much as they should, etc.), but I thought it was the best brisket I’d ever tasted!  Ava liked it too.  That day and the following when she had it in a brisket quesadilla.

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Whew.  That was Friday.  We were tired by the end of the day, but really happy about the progress we’d made on the garage!

Saturday:

When Ava went down for her morning nap, I decided to make an impromptu trip to my favorite pedicure place where I relaxed, read my book, and had my toes painted purple.  As I was driving home I noticed a sign for a lemonade stand in the neighborhood so I insisted that Kevin and Ava and I trek down to support the young entrepreneurs.  They were really cute and their start up business had all the markings for success.  Lemonade was “10 cents.  Or more.”  They complimented the baby.  And they were selling apples which they made a point of saying were “freshly picked and washed.”  It was really a sweet little group.  And the lemonade was delicious.

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We took it pretty easy for the rest of the morning and the early afternoon.  I do believe I napped with Rue.

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Late in the afternoon we went to my cousin’s “I Do BBQ” to celebrate she and her fiancé’s upcoming wedding.  It was fun to see some family members and Ava impressed them with her talent for eating a lot of strawberries.

That evening I went to a friend’s going away party.  It was the first time I’d missed putting Ava to bed for the night and I was a little sad about that.  And nervous for Kevin as he isn’t equipped to nurse her right before bedtime like I always do.  She was like, “nbd, guys,” and went to bed like a champ at her regular bedtime.  When Kevin texted me to let me know she was asleep I was simultaneously relieved and sad that my baby DOESN’T NEED ME.  (Dramatic much?)  The going away party was really fun and a terrific tribute to my sweet, beautiful, kind friend.  Five of us continued the party at a local western bar, which was LOUD.  The people watching was great though.  I was home by 11:30 I think.

Sunday:

We started out the day by picking up breakfast from a local place and eating it at home.  It was a relaxing day altogether!  More reading, napping, playing….

That afternoon we dropped Ava at Craig and Sue’s and took ourselves to a nice dinner out at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse.  We may have had a 4:45 reservation time, but we partied like rockstars once there.  Kevin had wine and I had a Diet Coke (heeeey, party people…).  He had a Caesar salad and I had lobster bisque.  We each had steak (mine came with shrimp on top) and got sweet potato casserole and mashed potatoes to share as sides.  That steak.  It was amazing.  Melt in your mouth amazing.  It comes out to the table from the kitchen on 500 degree plates.  A dollop of butter sizzles on top of the steak.  My mouth waters just thinking about the taste.  Yum.  They had a chocolate lava dessert on the menu but I was toooooo full.  Next time I have a game plan – I’ll only eat one piece of bread, get the steak without shrimp, and just eat some of whatever side Kevin orders (probably the sweet potato casserole because he loves that stuff).  Then hopefully I’ll have room for dessert.

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imageIt was a really lovely dinner out with my man.  I love the addition of Ava to our little family, and it makes the couple time that Kevin and I share when it’s just the two of us even more special.

Monday:

It was a very busy week at work with a big event planned for Thursday, so I had to go into the office for a bit on Monday morning.  Kevin and Ava stayed home and played, and I was home to them by noon.  We enjoyed the rest of our staycation with more relaxing.  It really was a wonderful long weekend!

Did you vacation or staycation this summer?  What’s your preference when you take time off work – to get away or to stay in?