Meals This Week

Inspired by these colors | Photo by Scott and Ashlee of O'Malley Photographers | 100 layer cake

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Monday – We’re starting the week with leftovers from the weekend because I’m out late.

Tuesday – Trying out a pesto and prosciutto chicken recipe I found online. If it’s good, you will, of course, be the first to know, and I’ll bring it to a group of people next week for a meeting I have.

Wednesday – Leftovers. Again. Because all that chicken (and this chicken) isn’t going to eat itself, and I’m out late. Again.

Thursday – My go-to, “I didn’t really cook, but it sort of feels like I did,” meal. Tortellini and pesto.

Friday – Chinese food before I dash out to a Christmas party. Cheers!

Saturday – The best meatball subs ever. (Not an exaggeration.)

Sunday – Trying out a new, homemade Sunday gravy. Wish me luck.

***If my son recovers from this illness that causes him to be attached to me at all times, I will make time to enjoy this oatmeal one morning for breakfast, or, “brekka,” as it’s now known in our house.

What You Should Bring When You Don’t Know What to Bring [snip doodles]

These snip doodles, a predecessor of everyone’s favorite cookie, the snickerdoodle, are amazing.


I brought them to big group of people who confirmed what I already knew upon first bite, and begged for the recipe. I’m happy to report they couldn’t be easier to make. When you find yourself with a bake sale, or book group, or holiday who-knows-what, and you’re supposed to bring something for dessert, you know what to do.

Stocking Stuffers

Shopping for stocking-stuffers might be the most fun I have all year. Ever since I became a real-live grown up, I sort of stopped caring about having a Christmas List. I’m fortunate enough that if I want something, I may have to save for a bit, but I can buy it for myself. And we all know about my decluttering binges, so mostly, I’m not looking to amass more crap. None of us are.

But shopping for stockings is my favorite, because you can find the quirkiest, funniest stuff. Bonus points if it’s useful to the recipient as well. Almost everything here (click on the pictures to see where it’s all from) is geared towards toddlers and men because that’s whose stockings I’m always looking to fill. But if you’ve got ideas for stocking-stuffers for others, leave them in the comments, because I’d love to hear!

Color-changing spoons ($6.95)

Kid Made Modern Confetti Crayons ($12.80)

Stop Talking Cards ($9.95)

Personalized ornaments (this one is $11.95)

Glow in the dark stars ($5.50)

Snowman Mini Spatulas, Set of 2

Snowman mini-spatulas ($9.95 for two)

Superfight game ($29.99)

Fish toothbrush holders ($6.50 for a set of 2)

Braided phone charger ($19.95)

Fisher-Price Little People DC Super Friends Exclusive Figure

Little People super friends ($17.99)

Peppermint Crunch Junior Mints ($2.95) because no stocking is complete without candy. I got these in my own stocking this year, and they did not disappoint.

Fridays are for Chicken [baked chicken with tomatoes and cheese]

Hallelujah, praise the Lord, I have found another “forget about it” chicken. You know, the kind of chicken which is almost effortless. And flavorful. And the kind that will go into heavy rotation in this household, I already know. Here is how you, too, can make this chicken.

You’ll need:

  • A glug of olive oil
  • A glug of your favorite boneless, skinless cut of chicken
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, also finely chopped
  • 1, 14.5 oz. can of diced tomatoes
  • 3 T mascarpone cheese
  • a giant sprig of fresh basil, or a tsp. of dried

Brown your chicken, plus salt and pepper, in the olive oil in an oven-proof dish. Remove to a plate. Add onion and garlic to the pan, and saute for a couple of minutes, until fragrant and soft. Add the tomatoes (+ juice), and cook over low heat for 10-15 minutes. Add chicken back to the pan, and pop that sucker into the oven. Cook 10 minutes, flip the chicken, and cook 10 more. Done and done.

It should come as no surprise that this chicken comes from DALS, weeknight dinner champion.

 

Meals This Week

Dear readers, this week is a doozy. Let’s all take a deep breath, and do the best we can, okay? This meal plan is not glamorous in the slightest, but it will do the job.

Monday – Pioneer Woman’s chicken spaghetti

Tuesday – Boboli pizza (I’d love to feel ashamed, but I can’t! It’s my husband’s favorite. I think it’s gross.)

Wednesday – Fettucine similar to this with some leftover grilled chicken, and arugula if it lasts that long without wilting.

Thursday – I’m out with Ali for a fun night, and my husband can fend for himself!

Friday – Burgers and tater tots (We have so many burgers in the freezer. Why?)

Gifts for Toddlers

This glorious gift-giving idea comes straight from the same place as all my best ideas, and that place, of course, is the internet. What I love about this approach is that using it year after year creates a holiday tradition. And it sets the stage for reasonable expectations on Christmas morning. The kids are getting some gifts. They will be for fun, and will not just be new socks. But we’re not going crazy here, people.

Something you want, something you need, something to wear, something to read.*

Oh my gracious, it’s brilliant. Four gifts, each with a distinct purpose. Here’s what I’ve bought Gooplet in each of these categories, click on the pictures to take you to the sources.**

Something he wants:

Chip and Joanna with the Wooden Toy Tool Bench

As soon as I saw this in the Hearth and Hand lookbook, I knew it was going to be mine. I bought it the day it came out. Now to figure out how to assemble it.

Something he needs:

When your pajamas are your costumes, it's a double smart win for everybody. Imagination costumes at Hanna Andersson.

Gooplet never has enough pajamas. The cheap ones seem to stretch out too much after just a couple of wears. These are my all time faves. That blue on blue stripe action is as good as it gets.

Something to wear:

Image result for castaway corduroys holly

You know how much I love ThredUp, so when I saw some corduroys from Castaway for $12, it was a done deal. (They’re usually $75! For toddler pants!) He’ll wear these to church on Christmas Eve.

Something to read:

I don’t know what he’s getting in this category yet. That’s a whole other tradition for a whole other blog post. Check back soon.

*I have seen this idea in a gazillion places, and can’t remember if it was Design Mom or Tsh, who alerted me first.

**But also, sorry if this breaks the rules, but we are totally doing stockings as well because they are the most fun part of Christmas morning. If you’re lucky, I’ll pull off a gift guide before it’s too late for Amazon to ship you anything.

In Which it is Time to Hygge

Since it’s almost time to flip the calendar to December, I’ve been working hard (hard!) to ignore blogs and Instagrams that are telling me how stressed I am going to be over the holidays. No, thank you very much, internet, but I will be just fine. I have a toddler, I no longer cling to dreams of baking 8 varieties of cookies and assembling them on plates for the neighbors, gifts almost all come from Amazon in just 2 days, and Christmas Eve should be a quiet, early night at home.

GO AWAY WITH ALL OF YOUR WARNINGS OF STRESS!

See? Totally fine.

Wanna know what hygge is? Check out my latest post (link in profile) to find out what it is (and how to do it)!

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This time of year means that I need to get serious about hygge, which, if you love the internet as much as I do, you already know to be a Danish word that translates to the warm, fuzzy feeling you get deep down inside when you take the time to recognize little indulgences that cozy up your winter.

Or something.

Here is how I hygge. Picture this on repeat every single night in our house:

Gap has long been my go-to for sweatpants and sleepwear. I have never found anything softer, and Gap prices (and sales) cannot be beat. Last year, I bought two pairs of sleep joggers, and I am the toastiest I’ve ever been. This year I’m eyeing another pair. Stars + navy is my love language.

We’ve reconfigured the set up of our main floor, and that means the fireplace is now in the dining room. This is not terrible, and should make for some seriously cozy family gatherings, but it means our living room is getting a little hygge-ier with candles. These in particular because I’ve been given a couple as gifts and never really used them.

Gooplet has been super into anything artsy lately, which for him means stickers, painting (remember these little guys?) and coloring. It’s rekindled my love for coloring and so I’ve busted out the adult coloring books again. So relaxing. Currently trying to find pages that are scribble free in this one. Is it super-weird that I would love to have this all to myself? And while we’re at it, I need some new pencils.

A Rule for Making Plans

Dear readers, let’s talk about our calendars today, shall we? Be they digital, paper and pencil, or simply a jumble of dates and times rolling around in your head, I’ve got calendars, and more specifically, the filling of them, on the brain.

Creatives Calendar, Calligraphy (Sunday Start)

(The new Lindsay Letters calendars are beautiful.)

In listening to many-a-conversation between Tsh and Erin Loechner, I keep hearing Erin talk about making plans at the last minute. It’s a rule she has when it comes to filling up her calendar. Because she’s got two little people underfoot almost all the time, and a travel schedule that makes she and her husband passing ships at times, she doesn’t commit to much far in advance.

Instead, when it strikes her fancy, she or her friends will send a text along the lines of: pizza at our house tonight. Bring a salad?

And if the friend(s) can join, then they have plans. And if not, next time, then.

I’ve been mulling this one over. At first I thought, nice for them, not for me. But over the last couple of weeks, we’ve had a couple of get-togethers that have come together at the last minute and been wonderful. And a couple of in-advance dates on the calendar that haven’t worked out because you can plan and plan and plan, and then you can have a toddler who has other ideas.

So I might hang on to this one, dear readers. I might need to cling even tighter as Christmas draws near.

The Internet is a Crazy Place

Dear readers, I have some great links to point you towards today, but I have to share a little story with you first.

There are so many people on the Internet whom I’ve followed for years. My first foray into blogs was via some of the OG scrapbookers, Ali, Elsie, Tara, and Elise. I’ve been “with” them for almost a decade at this point. And then Deb, Joy, and Tracy led me into the world of food blogs, and, well, you’re reading the result of that.

hashtag oprah.

(one of Oprah’s and my favorite sayings)

In the time since I’ve followed these people, they’ve had eight-thousand ups and downs, some of which they’ve shared, and I’m sure, many they haven’t. But this year has been a big one. Ali got married. Tara took the pictures. Elsie is headed to China right now to adopt a little girl. And right after Thanksgiving, Tracy posted that her mom died.

I’ve never met Tracy, but she’s given me my favorite wings recipe, stuffed shells that I love to make for others, hours of podcast fun, and so much more. I’m simply heartbroken for her. It’s strange to think about how to me, she is someone who both is and isn’t a stranger.

The internet is a funny little place, isn’t it?

Here’s what I’m into lately:

If you’re tired of bloggers throwing Christmas in your face, may I point you towards New Years? Because I love me some goal-setting, and this don’t do list idea is my jam.

I think I have a jolly good British accent already, and this is fascinating. Chock full of tips to boost my already amazing Harry Potter read aloud skills.

Speaking of internet “friends” from the good old days, Emily posted a holiday snack board, and as I’m on post-church punch and cookies duty soon, this is looking perfect.

Also, we’ve got a new royal wedding to look forward to. Here’s a reminder that this book (on super sale for Kindle today) is a great one, and worth your time while you wait for spring, 2018.

 

 

Random Updates Right Before Thanksgiving

Dear readers, I hope you have the most wonderful Thanksgivings ever! I am so thankful for those of you who come visit and spend time with me online. Some of you have been here since the very beginning, over 8 years ago. Wow.

pumpkin skillet cobbler I howsweeteats.com

(Did I tell you all I made this pumpkin skillet cobbler for a recent Sunday dinner? Mine didn’t look nearly as beautiful, and I’d cut the flour topping by half, but I loved this, and will happily make it again around Christmas time.)

Let’s share some random stuff in hopes that spilling it here helps us move on and focus on the most important things this week – THANKSGIVING. Dear readers, tell me what’s in your heads right now in the comments.

  • Oh man, the holidays are here. Despite the internet announcing their presence for the past month, they’ve still sort of surprised me by being here already. And I am clinging to what little sanity I have, but dear readers, I have to tell you. The one thing I miss most about being childless is the ability to drop everything and do nothing for hours on end. Oh, sure, there was a full time job, and volunteer commitments, and cleaning the house, and whatever. But here and there, you’d better believe there were little spots on the calendar with nothing going on. I miss that life, and the endless YouTube binges it brought with it.
  • I’ve started 4 books recently and put them all down before finishing. It’s not because I don’t like them – they’ve been great. (Though one has been incredibly emotionally intense, and I needed a break.) I always do this – it’s the weirdest. I found two books I had started but not finished the other day on my library’s used book shelf, and I brought them both home with me.
  • Speaking of books, Anne and Leigh have been doing some super fun bookstagram things with Little Free Libraries, and I’m loving it. We have a couple in the next neighborhood over, and it’s making me want to take a big walk in the stroller to see what they’ve got, and maybe leave a book or two as well.
  • We got this Bose speaker for our main level of the house recently. (After we renovated our basement, the soundbar that went with the TV got booted downstairs, and with it went my ability to play music or listen to podcasts on anything other than my phone.) I love it.
  • Our house is in a state of re-shuffling and that’s left the room we used as an office (except really, we rarely event set foot in that room) almost empty. So. Part of me sees that and thinks, we need to put things in that room because usually rooms have things in them, and the other part thinks we should wait and finish a couple spaces we use more frequently before we fill it. I don’t want to fill it just to fill it, you know?
  • I need to go to Costco. There is never a good time to go to Costco.
  • Trying super hard to make healthy choices right now. Holy moly is my life different now than it was before Gooplet came on the scene. Since going to barre 4 times a week isn’t feasible right now, I decided I cannot beat myself up about that. It simply is what it is right now. Instead, I’ve got to focus on what I can do, which for today, is drinking tons of water, and eating fewer snacks between meals. Let’s hope I can stay strong on that aforementioned Costco trip.