This Week's Eats 11.23.14 Thanksgiving Time!

Writing up the menu every year for Thanksgiving is pretty easy for me now, I just cut and paste from previous years!  I don't have much new to add this year, although I might try and make these Linzer Muffins I saw in the most recent Cooking Light issue for a weekend treat, along with our Cranberry Orange Bread.  I just love hitting the store this time of year, with all the end caps filled with yummy, festive and traditional foods.  The Ferrero Rocher boxes and cases of sparkling cider are things I NEVER buy.  But it makes me happy to see them, ya know? 
A nearly $150 trip and I was still able to use what I like to call the 'single lady' cart: as in, I am a free and breezy lady, shopping without kids!

roast turkey breast (we buy a 5lb breast and have used Alton Brown's brine recipe for about the last six years - DELICIOUS) 
classing New England style stuffing with sausage and chestnuts, I also add granny smith apples to this recipe we've been using from Cooking Light for about ten years 
hash brown potato casserole - this Cooking Light version has also been a staple of ours for many years 
crescent rolls - trying my aunt's recipe this year, wish me luck - I HATE cooking with yeast...
mixed greens salad I use the bones of this recipe, omitting chicken/bacon and add Trader Joes spicy/sweet pecans and apples
cranberry sauce - bought jarred stuff from Trader Joes this year
pumpkin pie - I just pick one up from the store as the kids are really the ones who eat it and they're not very particular about their pie
As always, I'm linking up with Org Junkie, Mommy Run Fast and Jill Conyers - be sure to check out all the great weekly menus!


Riff on a Deserted Island Theme

Okay, writing on a Saturday is HARD.  Plus I spent a good deal of my free time going out for a run since I've been feeling better.  So!  I'm pulling up one of Miss Zoot's easy peasy blog prompts from last week:

Someone's paying you to move into one of those tiny house everyone is talking about. If you can survive a whole year in that house with just the things on this list, you get a bajillion dollars. Tell us how you fill in this List Of Things You Can Take With You:

5 books: The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley (so awesome and LONG) The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follet (do you see a theme here?  Long? Yes. Awesome? Yes.) Harry Potter Anthology by J.K. Rowling (I'm making a ruling that one day there will be a Norton Anthology of Harry) A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving (meets criteria) and something brand new and notable - maybe something by Rainbow Rowell, Jojo Moyes or John Green.

3 outfits: A Little Day Dress and my Zella Leggings
so comfortable and easy!
Oiselle Long Rogas and a Winona/Gwen Tank (a running outfit), and um, really that's all I'd need.  But I suppose I'd add my pair of Gap moto khakis, that are great all year 'round, and a simple black top.

You have a fridge/stove/oven - but you can only take 1 counter-top appliance.
a microwave, that's easy!

1 DVD collection of a TV show (your budget doesn't allow for Netflix)
ahhhh! so HARD. I think I'd go with Friends, but Battlestar Galactica would be a close 2nd

1 childhood artifact
I don't even have a childhood artifact on me NOW.  So, a photo album? Or yearbook?

They will give you ONE subscription to a magazine - what is it?
Hmmm, this is tough...  I think I'll go with Self, since it has a little bit of everything.


What the Kids Are Reading Lately

It's been quite awhile since I did one of these posts, so here's some great stuff the kids have enjoyed reading lately!

Hits for the four year old:

That is NOT a Good Idea! by Mo Willems - we never go wrong with his books and this little twist on a Red Riding Hood theme is hilarious.
Chu's Day by Neil Gaiman - yep, that Neil Gaiman.  Chu has a special talent and following along on his day is filled with suspense and humor.
Good-Night, Owl by Pat Hutchins - super cute story of an owl who just wants to get some sleep.
Zorro Gets and Outfit by Carter Goodrich - ohhh my gosh we are ALL loving this discovery of a book about a pug named Zorro!  In this installment, Zorro gets an embarrassing outfit, but learns that being different can be a good thing.

What the seven year old is enjoying, in addition to mind-numbing books about Minecraft:

The Mouse and The Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary - oh, I'm so glad we've started reading Cleary books!  
The Magic Tree House by Mary Pope Osborne - the Dinosaurs Before Dark is great, or really any that happen to strike his fancy at the library.
Stink Solar System Superhero by Peter H. Reynolds - Stink, who happens to be Judy Moody's brother, never fails to make my kid laugh.
Dinosaur Cove by Rex Stone - time travel, adventure, excitement and stories about dinosaurs - what's not to like?


A Day in the Life (With One Photo an Hour)

It really worked out well that Miss Zoot's daily prompt for NaBloPoMo was about routines, since I had planned a 'photo an hour/day in the life' kind of post for today.  Our weekday routine is pretty consistent, and it's all about... 

  • getting the big kid to school (and the little one to preschool three days a week)
  • going to exercise on my own or at the Y
  • showering and lunch
  • some type of activity for the little one (soccer, swimming, playdate, etc. - she has something planned for every day but Tuesday, when we go to the library or just laze about) 
  • some quiet time before the big one gets home and a little bit afterward, so he can decompress before...
  • the dreaded homework hour, which I have whittled down to two nights a week, so it's not too terrible
  • dinnertime
  • a TV show for each kid 
  • bedtime routine
  • mom and dad relax time

The weekends involve much more sleeping, TV and much less homework!  Saturdays are my favorite days because for one, that's my sleep in day (my husband gets Sundays).  We take about an hour to clean the downstairs after lunch, errands, whatever.  I know, cleaning isn't fun, but a clean house is!  And we have our weekly date night dinner (in our nice clean house) after the kids go to bed.  Afterward, we make cocktails and watch new or old favorite movies.  Saturdays are like a carrot dangling at the end of every week.  

So, here's a typical-ish weekday in pictures!

7AM hour: everyone gets up, dressed, I make breakfasts and my son's lunch.
8AM hour: get everything packed up for the day: school stuff, running/gym stuff and head out the door and get kids to school.
9AM hour: exercise and shower.  Normally if I go to the Y, it's more like a two hour outing.  But, on this day, it was a 'rest' day so I just did my mile to keep the streak going.  Every other Wednesday, though, I try to go to yoga.
10AM hour: if I didn't exercise for more than an hour, time to run errands.
11AM hour: Since I didn't do yoga, I had time for a Starbucks outing on this day!
12PM hour: get the littlest, and on this day her buddy for a playdate, from preschool.  Also, instead of going straight home for lunch, I took advantage of the weather and took them to the park to play.
1PM hour: lunchtime and some time spent in my least favorite spot of the kitchen while the kids play, cleaning up after the morning and afternoon mess.  Sometimes I'll do dinner prep during this time, too - especially if it's a crock pot meal.
2PM hour: more playtime for the girls and it's time to get big brother for some of his downtime, as it's early release day.
3PM hour: homework wasn't too bad, just a few writing exercises and alphabetizing words.  As I said before, I whittle the homework down to two nights a week.  He does his daily math sheets while on the bus home, so that takes a load off.  I give him a pass on the weekly 'word work' packet he gets on Monday and we split the rest between Tuesday and Wednesday, leaving Thursday for another day off or for anything we missed.  He doesn't get to play Minecraft until he's done his work, so he's usually pretty motivated.  
4PM hour: on this day I'm packing both kids up for swim lessons.
5PM hour: the dreaded showering and changing of two kids in a very small shower space after lessons, stuffing them in the car and braving rush hour traffic to get home.
6PM hour: dinner time.  My husband finished everything up while we were out, yay!
7PM hour: each kiddo picks a Netflix show to watch before bed (they're really into Wildkrats right now) and my husband and I take turns taking them upstairs to do the nightly routine, books, etc.
8PM hour: adult TV time!  
9PM hour: more couch time, usually writing and reading with this little nugget.
And we head off to bed at 10PM, maybe 10:15 if we want to watch a bit of the news.  Exciting life we lead, eh?  I wouldn't trade it for the world.


On Living the Puppy Life, Again

I think there are a few of my friends that will be grateful for this post with more pictures of our dog Chewie.  It seems about time that I give him a little spotlight here, and what better time than NaBloPoMo.  

When we had to say goodbye to Peeps, we had no real concrete plan as to when we'd get another dog.  Well, we knew that we would have a dog again and that it would be another Pug.  That's about it.  After a month or so we still weren't feeling ready, but knew that if we wanted another purebred baby, we'd have to start putting feelers out if we were hoping to have one by the time we were ready.  

It was around March that we sent out emails to breeders we found online and began working with one.  We decided that we wanted to get two dogs this time around, since we weren't living in a two bedroom condo on the third floor. Pugs are great in multiples, and we wanted one black and one fawn (Vader and Chewie) however we could get them.  Since the breeder's litters (and most litters) were mostly fawn, we were able to put in a deposit and get our Chewie first.  

This was probably meant to be, as I have since learned that it's not the best idea to get two puppies at the same time for various reasons: they can tend to bond with each other rather than you, follow each other's naughty behavior, and puppy TIMES TWO.  GAH.  So, we got our little guy and are aiming to get a black pup as soon as this spring, and hopefully by this summer.  But, they are rare, so we shall see.  I might have to look for other breeders, but I definitely liked working with this one.

The startling contrast between personalities of our first puppy and this one has definitely thrown us for a loop!  All Pugs are the same, right??  We're pretty certain the main reason for this contrast is lifestyle.  Peeps chillaxed at home most of the day in our condo, and had a dog walker come and play with him/walk him every day.  Then we'd all cuddle on the couch in the evenings.  Chewie gets attention from us pretty much 24/7 aaaaand has come to kind of demand it.  The kids run him in circles, literally, at least once a day and he acts like a crazy kid.  We have our hands full.  Some of the differences are fun, though, for sure.  Like his ticklish nature and his perfectly robust and curly tail.  He has the BEST Pug tail.

Then there are the startling similarities, just little things that catch us unawares like a head tilt, a snuffle, the way he tucks his tail when he runs fast...  and, of course, the way Pugs can sense an empty lap from a mile away.  Well, these things make us a little sad sometimes and nostalgic.  But, mostly, they make us so glad we got another Pug.  They really are pretty awesome.  SO! Now for a BIG PHOTO DUMP.  You're welcome, I'm sorry.  At least I made an effort to only post new pics that I haven't posted to Facebook/Twitter/Instagram.


Holiday Gift Guide (aka, My Wish List)

A 'gift-guide' is the perfect blog tool to put your own gift wish list together.  I find that I buy a lot more stuff for myself during this time of year, while I'm shopping for others.  The sales, the festive 'treat yo self' atmosphere of the holidays just makes me cave.  So, without further ado, here's my Christmas wish list not really disguised as a gift guide!  Maybe I'll just forward this along to my husband...

photo via Kohls.com
Yoga Towel/Mat I really could use a yoga towel.  For now, when I go to hot yoga, I line my mat with a beach towel.  It works just fine, but it'd be lovely to have a spiffy little number that fits my mat.

photo via Jaybirdsport.com 
Jaybird Headphones My husband just gifted himself a pair of these Bluetooth headphones and now I'm kinda jealous.  See, this is why we never get anything to put under the tree - we buy ourselves gifts all the time!

wazelle long sleeve
photo via Oiselle.com
Oiselle Gift Card  Speaking of buying ourselves gifts all the time...  Having a gift card would make giving myself gifts much easier.  The Wazelle long sleeve, pictured above, has been on my list of 'gifts to buy myself' for awhile.

photo via Nordstrom.com
Toms Sunglasses My cheap blue Target wayfarers will always be my go-to for running.  But, I've had my current pair of 'nice' sunglasses for at least five years and would love to update them with these super awesome Toms.  When I'm not running, I'm a fan of aviators, and I love the idea of plastic framed ones.

Clarisonic Mia 2 Sonic Skin Cleansing System, Lavender
photo via Amazon.com
Clarisonic Mia This thing has been around forever, and I have always kind of wanted one.  But, I just can't bring myself to spend my own money on it.  Will someone buy it for me?  

photo via Nordstrom.com
Cable Knit Pillows Our couch pillows are boring/match the cushions and I think these pillows look so cozy.  The Paprika color would totally punch up our couch and be festive for the holidays.

photo via Victoriassecret.com
Long 'Jane' PJs This is another item I can't bring to buy for myself, 'I have enough serviceable pajamas, etc.'  But they're so cuuuuuute!  I'll take a size small in the dark grey, please and thank you.
photo via Amazon.com
Elago iPhone Case I took a spill on a recent run and totally scuffed up my favorite iPhone case.  This one held up nicely and I will most likely gift myself another soon, as it's not terribly expensive.  Maybe I'll even change up the gold/turquoise one for indigo or rose this time...

photo via Amazon.com
Cards Against Humanity Games are such a fun gift for the holidays, and I've yet to play this one.  I'm thinking it'd be good for when we're all camping out for Ragnar Trail...

photo via Amazon.com
One Line a Day, Five Year Memory Book If you are new here, you might not know how this book speaks to me.  I'm a big fan of daily tasks and routine.  What a cool way to keep a journal.

photo via Tastesofchicago.com
Tastes of Chicago Ohhhhh yeah.  Getting a package from any of the vendors through this service would be heavenly.  *cough* We like the Lou's pizza packs and Portillos hot dogs the best. *cough*

AeroPress Coffee and Espresso Maker with Bonus 350 Micro Filters
photo via Amazon.com
Aeropress I do love my cheap Target espresso machine.  But, since it was cheap, I'd be willing to cheat on it and try the latest craze in coffee.

photo via Stellaanddot.com
Gold Pyramid Studded Cuff Bracelet It's the time of year again for Dot Dollars and I'm tempted to get this for myself...

'Elle' Drop Earrings
photo via Nordstrom.com
Kendra Scott Earrings So cute, right?  I've yet to cave to my own pair of Kendra Scott earrings.  

small square stud earrings
photo via Nordstrom.com
Kate Spade Small Stud Earrings However, I DO have a pair of these babies - and I want MORE.  I have them in yellow (which is a deceptively neutral color that goes with almost everything) and I wear them all. the. time.  I think I need to get them in turquoise...

photo via Tieks.com
Tieks in Lemon Patent Speaking of neutral yellow...  One day I would like to see what all the fuss is about with Tieks.  And I would love them in this lovely, sunshine-y, happy yellow.  

Had to go out with a bang, eh? Happy shopping holidays to you - I hope you get everything on YOUR list!