The Weekenders

March 17th, 2014 by Jenny

There was a show on ABC on Saturday mornings when I was growing up.  It was part of their “One Saturday Morning” program, and it was called “The Weekenders”.  Every episode started Friday after school and ended Sunday evening.  They had this pizza place they went to every Friday evening for dinner, but it changed ownership (and therefore name and decor) every week.  They had a routine.

I liked that show more than I really should have.  But I really like weekend routines.  I like doing things the same way over and over again.  I like the rhythm, and I really like the predictability.

Unfortunately, this last weekend had me off my routine.  It started with a totally epic field trip to Carolina Beach.  We road a boat and explored Masonboro Island, and I got sunburned like whoa.  The kids were generally really well behaved.  In truth, I probably had fewer behavior problems than I would have on a regular day in the classroom.  But that doesn’t change the fact that it was a 12 hour trip.  A 3.5 hour bus ride there, and a 3.5 hour bus ride back with 40 fifth graders.

It was a lot.  So much that I went straight to bed when I got home.  No dinner.  Just sleep.

Saturday morning was great thought.  It was warm and sunny out, so Joel and I hit the farmer’s market.  Before that, though, we stopped by the ATM.  That’s when we came across this.

Carnival

Armed with cash and reusable bags, we hit the farmer’s market.  It was packed.  The nice weather really draws the hipsters.  Then there was breakfast at DaisyCakes.  I get the biscuits at DaisyCakes way too often.  But this was the first time I had a full breakfast there.  We sat at a teeny tiny table outside.  It was white.  The side of the building was white.  My husband was white.  I was having trouble keeping my eyes open because it was just too bright.

Daisycakes Breakfast

But boy was it amazing.  Their three potato hash was A-MAZING.

After some yard-related errands, I hit naptime hard.  Then the little sister came over.  I liked that she stayed with me as endcaps to her spring break.  We watched really terrible television and ate way too many fruit by the foots (fruit by the feet?).  Sunday morning included couponing and doughnuts (recipe to come).  More naptime.  And then video games.

I didn’t do nearly enough in the way of chores, which is why my house is a disaster right now.  Along those lines, I was really hoping for a school delay today (yay wintry mix!), but alas…  While I’m so over this winter, I’m also not even remotely close to being ready for this week.  Here’s to sleeping 37 minutes past your alarm and caffeine.

Impressing Guests

March 11th, 2014 by Jenny

Last night, we had a guest over for dinner.  A single guy who typically purchases his dinner on his way home from work.  Which is only to say that I could have made almost anything and impressed him.  But the weather outside was delightful yesterday (and promises to be so again today), and I wanted to get that grill going.

Hamburgers.  Joel suggests these often, actually, and I always shot him down.  If I’m going to spend $6 on 4 servings of bread (that’s what Udi’s hamburger buns cost at my grocery store), I’m not going to waste them on hamburgers.  And I stand by that decision.  But we’re lucky enough to have a farmer’s market with a booth dedicated strictly to gluten free bread.  Hello Imagine That Gluten Free!  So far, I’ve only tried their baguettes, but they’re divine.  And baguette slices can make a great partner for hamburger buns.  I buttered them up and threw them on the grill.  Flipped.  Topped with cheese.  Then threw a hamburger and various toppings on.  Then you scarf!

Burger Prep

The prepwork for this meal was easy-peezy-lemon-squeezy.  And then the actual cooking part was done outside with my husband (let’s be honest, he did the cooking), lemonade, and my favorite pup, Ramona.  But I wanted some sides for these burgers.  The sweet potato fries sitting in my freezer were an obvious choice.

I also had a Costco amount of sweet peppers in the fridge.  And that’s where our story really begins.  Cheese stuffed sweet peppers are a go to treat around here.  I keep people believing that they’re super hard to make, but really, they’re pretty easy, albeit a little time consuming.  You just have to core a bunch of sweet peppers.  Then I typically stuff with a cream cheese feta mixture.  This time, we had cheddar on hand, so I went with that.

Burger

They look kinda gross because of the blending of colors, which is why I didn’t take a ton of pictures.  But I’ll say this.  There were leftovers of everything but the peppers.

Cheese Stuffed Peppers

  • Sweet peppers (I made 10, but scale accordingly)
  • 4oz. cream cheese
  • 1/2 c. shredded cheddar (or feta or be creative and try your own thing)

Take out the cores and tops of the sweet peppers.  Cut a slit up one side of the peppers to create an opening.  Mix up the cheeses.  Now stuff the cheese mixture into the peppers.  I grilled them this time, but I’ve also roasted them in the oven at 400 degrees as well.  The cheese is going to ooze out to an extent.  Just go with it.

I don’t know

March 8th, 2014 by Jenny

When I was little, I knew everything.  I argued with adults because I thought I knew better.  I thought people getting hired for a job because they had more experience was nonsense.  The few times I didn’t know better, I played like I did.  ”Oh, uh… yea… I was about to say that.”  I wasn’t.

Somewhere in college, I learned how to say “I don’t know”.  I didn’t use it very often because hey, I still knew most everything there was to know.  I felt like I deserved to have a multi-page resume because I was just so great.  Since then, every day seems to teach me only one thing: I know less than I thought I did.

I used to create recipes and think that I was the bee’s knees.  Look at this pasta I made.  Aren’t I fabulous and special?  No.  Cooking requires experience.  The more you do it, the better intuition you have.  The more recipes you see combining certain ingredients, the more willing you are to go off script to create a combination you’ve seen before.  I like cooking.  I think that what I cook is usually pretty tasty.  But it’s not nearly as original as I thought it was when I was in high school.

… so this morning when I wanted doughnuts that combined chocolate and peanut butter, that wasn’t exactly a fresh idea.  I already have a tried and true chocolate doughnut recipe (see this cookbook).

Doughnuts in Morning Light

And peanut butter frosting just made sense to me.  I was a little nervous about how to go about that, though, because I wasn’t about to go shopping for whatever ingredients I was missing in any of the recipes I found.  … and then I thought about peanut butter pie.  That glorious creamy peanut buttery combo topping ground Oreos.  And the recipe for that is pretty simple.  Peanut butter + cream cheese + cream + sugar = amazing.

… but let’s make this simpler given the ingredients I actually have on hand: Peanut butter + dairy + sugar = amazing.  And so it did.  I used Yoplait vanilla greek yogurt because I have a Costco sized amount of it that’s going to go bad next week.  But let’s not kid ourselves, this recipe is hardly rocket science.

Doughnuts by Window

My sister requested that she be awoken when breakfast was ready, so I served her bedside with doughnuts and hot cocoa.  She kind of loves me a lot.

Peanut Butter Frosting:

  • 1/4 c. peanut butter (I used creamy, but I think crunchy would be grand)
  • 1 5.3oz. container yoplait vanilla greek yogurt
  • 1/4 c. powdered sugar

Mix ingredients until creamy.  Chill.  Frost doughnuts immediately before serving.

 

Target Lady vs. Cat Lady

March 7th, 2014 by Jenny

I went into Target the other day to buy cat food.  I saw this lady in the frozen food aisle (which I was only in because Ibotta coupons are hard to resist).  There she was in her birkenstocks, too short pants, and baggy sweater, staring into the lean cuisine case, trying to make important decisions.  And I totally judged her.  I’m not proud of it.  But it happened.  Let’s just be real.

Just a few minutes later, I had gathered my own items and was ready to check out.  I was in one of those everything I see looks good and I have to have it kind of moods.  I bought tortilla chips (because we were out of chips, but not salsa), lemonade (because duh!), and sour gummy worms (because well… you know…).  So there I was in the express checkout with junk food and a big ol’ case of canned cat food… and the target lady judged me.  I could see it in her eyes, her face, that sad look on her face that seemed to say, “You shouldn’t use food to fill the void in your life.”  She thought there was a void in my life!  I tried to flash my ring as I was paying so she’d know that I really wasn’t a crazy cat lady.  Maybe she’d know that my husband and sister were the crazy cat ladies, and I only lived with them.  I don’t think I got my message across.

… and then I think how ridiculous it sounds for me to say that I was judged by the Target Lady in light of the SNL sketches.  Whatever… she wasn’t like that.  She was a teenage girl who was probably super satisfied with her life… about as much as any teenage girl is, at least.

And while I really don’t believe there’s a void in my life that I’m trying to fill with chips, salsa, and gummies (those are all just delicious foods that I really enjoy eating), I have noticed myself picking up some odd habits… becoming a bit more extreme and obsessive in my tastes.

Sunday Morning Couponing

First, there’s couponing.  I have a Sunday morning ritual these days.  I really relish looking through the coupons, snipping the ones I want, going through my stash to discard expired ones… it’s relaxing.  Add some orange juice in a fancy glass, you’ve got yourself a nearly perfect morning.

To make it actually perfect, though, you need to add some doughnuts.

Chocolate Doughnuts

… and every once in awhile that’s what happens.

Buttermilk Doughnuts

Ok, it happens a lot.  But I got this cookbook for Christmas, and my husband would feel bad about his gift to me if I never used it.  Right?

Then there’s Costco, which doesn’t help with my obsessive tendencies.  It’s easy to eat a bajillion servings of something if you can only buy it by the bajillion servings.  Add to that the fact that Costco has their own coupons, and then Ibotta coupons come off after that.  (Have I never told you about Ibotta?  Oh, yea… it’s great.)  And top it off with Costco carrying HUGE loaves of Udi’s multigrain and Ibotta having a coupon for a dollar off two weeks in a row.  That said, I’ve been really into toast lately.

Toast

… I won’t post the pictures of all of the salsa I’ve been eating lately.  But you should just know that it’s approximately Costco sized.

Failure to Thrive

January 23rd, 2014 by Jenny
Earlybird Thriving

Earlybird Thriving

I like to listen to podcasts as I get ready in the morning.  This particular morning, I was listening to Judge John Hodgman.  He told of his friend’s child who was not getting enough nutrients and was diagnosed with “failure to thrive”.

It’s interesting because I’ve been thinking a lot about thriving, even if not using that particular word.  My friend Bekah from Pretty Little Snippets sent me a couple articles to read, both were about margins and whitespace in our lives.  And then the Joy the Baker podcast got me to listen to this Google Talk on Willpower.  Kelly McGonigal basically says that if you sleep more and have more rest time in your life, you can boost your “willpower”, or rather enable yourself to make decisions based on long term goals rather than impulses.  Our mental health professional at school has also been talking a lot about the idea of meditation to help our kids out.

… so then I started meditating.  I’ve been using the Headspace app.  My conversation with my partner Joel about it went something like this:

Me: Sorry I didn’t answer your call earlier; I was meditating.
Joel: You mean napping?
Me: No, meditating.
Joel: You mean watching TV?


All this is really new for me right now, so it’s hard for me to express too many of my own ideas.  It certainly has me thinking though.  I look at my students who are often failing to thrive… physically… emotionally.  I think about how I feel so much of the time, and there’s no reason I shouldn’t be thriving.  … so I’m going to keep doing this thing called life, keep listening to podcasts in my slippers and robe, and try to get just a smidgen more quiet time into my life.

… also, if I go down to the kindergarten rooms in the afternoon, this one teacher who is really into ballet makes me plank, which way sucks.  … so sorry guys, I can’t, I’ve got to get a little bit more me time… white space… thriving… you know…