meals, june 1-6

After a VERY long weekend of indulgences (cupcakes, brown butter rice krispy treats, orange cake), it’s time to get back on track.

Yesterday, I had: a string cheese; two boiled eggs; cherries; SmartPop cheddar (1c); and some water. We did bunless Bubba burgers (+cheese) on the grill tonight with lettuce, tomato, pickles & Primal’s thousand island dressing, plus grilled corn on the cob and raw vegetables/salads. They really hit the spot.

Today, I had plain Greek yogurt with 1t honey, strawberries, and almonds for breakfast and for lunch, boiled eggs, string cheese, honey wheat pretzels, and a nectarine. We are making shrimp scampi with EVOO, red pepper flakes, garlic (lots and lots of garlic), chickpea pasta, artichokes, spinach, tomatoes, and grated parmesan for dinner.

For the weekend, we will do egg & cheese English muffin sandwiches for breakfast; followed by grilling a whole chicken Saturday and serving with grilled potatoes, beets, and salad and then on Sunday, grilled chicken and Bolocco-inspired buffalo chicken bowls for dinners. These are a big hit — rice (Banza chickpea rice), chicken, Noble’s buffalo sauce, celery, carrots, lettuce, and tomato. My husband and the kids like bleu cheese dressing on theirs; I typically opt out of it.

I wanted to keep meals simple next week, so I’m planning turkey sandwiches for weekday lunches alongside salads; chickpea pasta with tomatoes, spinach, red wine vinegar, and parmesan or homemade fish sticks, Annie’s mac & cheese, and raw vegetables for dinners. Nothing really exciting. We may head to Chipotle one night to mix things up a little but stay on the simple path.

We have a birthday party coming up and with the end of the school year to-do, this is just easier to maintain. I plan on using this planning idea through the summer — lots of vegetables to have salads, bowls, and pasta and a few packages of meat to grill when desired seems like the best way to go about things.

staycation: a review

My husband and I had a great staycation in the city of Boston for Memorial Day weekend. My in-laws came down to visit with the kids & dog and we took the train in on Friday afternoon. We didn’t plan much (a couple meals, a race & yoga, and a Red Sox game), which really made it relaxing — hello, daily afternoon naps.

My phone was on DONOTDISTURB the duration of our trip. I texted only a few times with friends while my husband was running his race or getting ready for bed (and when my cousin got engaged!). Taking the train instead of driving relieved some stress and let us start our trip off with ease; though, admittedly, it was not easy carting around our suitcases, so we took a taxi home.

I kept a partial log of the restaurants and the foods we tried. In my mind, I’d write restaurant reviews but in reality, I’ll just give a quick one-liner with recommendations.

We stayed at StayPineapple. It was a cute boutique hotel between the South End and Back Bay areas. We could walk everywhere, which was the best for us. The room was small and definitely wouldn’t be for everyone but we liked it.

Friday, we tried Myers & Chang for dinner. The sweet & sour brussels sprouts were my favorite. We also ordered the wild boar dan dan noodles — I’d not had dan dan noodles since my time in Wuhan and was excited to try them; the verdict: Very spicy but delicious; I’d have preferred less meat in mine. We walked to Flour near our hotel after dinner and I got a brown butter rice krispy treat — my life has been forever changed.

Saturday, I introduced my husband to hot yoga. He was a real trooper — I could tell he was struggling but he made it through! Afterwards, we tried Tatte — their haloumi & sunny-side egg sandwich with tomato is basically all I ever need for breakfast for the rest of of my life. We had breakfast in the Public Garden and then walked to the Seaport to get his bib for the Run to Remember. Afterwards, we stopped at Taiyaki NYC to try the ice cream; their cones are more like soft waffles with red bean. We split the beach, please and it was a nice, light treat.

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We then ventured to Bartaco for lunch. Admittedly, I LOVE Bartaco — I tweeted them until they put a restaurant in Boston, so we try to visit when we are on that side of town. I had the grapefruit-mint agua fresca (non alcoholic) and it was so light; I want to make this at home. My husband and I spit a few duck, shrimp, chorizo, and falafel tacos, their chopped salad (my favorite), and their salsa & guac trio. It was all delicious. We’d walked nearly eight miles by the time we reached our hotel; took naps; and then got ready and headed out to dinner. We chose MoonBar for wine and some snacks (raw oysters, smoked swordfish dip with crackers, halibut crudo, and the most amazing grilled squid salad I’ve ever had). We knew we’d need something a little more substantial later, so we returned to Tatte and got sandwiches: My husband got the Turkey BLAT  and a sandwich cookies while I opted for the mozzarella sandwich and a slice of their orange cake. Delicious.

There’s a recipe book of mine that has a smoked fish dip and I’ve been curious about it. I can’t wait to make this at home now. The dip we had was really good, so I am tabling the recipe I have for a beach-date night.

On Sunday, my husband ran a half marathon and I went to yoga. We got back to the room and got ready for brunch: Brownstone was up. It was okay; I’d probably choose a different place next time, as there weren’t many vegetarian options and I was feeling very meated-out at that point. Their pancakes were good. After brunch, we took naps and then got ready for dinner in the North End. My husband snagged a reservation at Nico.  We went to Nico on our second date and it’s one of our favorite restaurants in the city. We went all out — drinks; the beet salad with whipped ricotta, honey & roasted pine nuts; their burrata salad with prosciutto, tomatoes & artichokes (a recipe I recreate at home OFTEN), and then my favorite dinner — their rigatoni with artichokes & sausage. I didn’t really eat the sausage and in retrospect should have asked for it without. My husband had their chicken parm and liked it too.

On Monday, we had plans for the 4PM Red Sox game. We ordered delivery for breakfast from Trident. My husband had the breakfast burrito and I made my own eggs benedict with tomatoes and spinach. We hadn’t been to Trident in a while and their food was just as good as we’d remembered. We had some snacks at the game (nachos) and then stopped at CAVA on the way back for some grain and greens bowls.

We ended our trip on Tuesday with more rice krispy treats from Flour, breakfast at the Friendly Toast (we both built our own omelettes — mine had asparagus, broccoli, tomatoes, and goat cheese — YUM!) and sushi at Red Lantern for dinner.

It was a great trip and a time to just walk around and enjoy the city and each other. We walked A LOT. At the most, I logged 8.2 miles (Saturday) and at the least, 2.9 miles (Friday). We didn’t take the train or a taxi anywhere after we got there and before we came home. It was nice to be unplugged, too. I need to put my phone on DO NOT DISTURB and forget about it more often. Overall, a great time. I look forward to our next one!

 

 

staycation

My husband and I booked a hotel in the city and are heading in after work today. We have dinner reservations tonight, a half-marathon (for him) and lots of yoga (for me, though he’s going to come to a class or two as well), brunch, and a baseball game planned.

I. Cannot. Wait.

Our last overnight trip together was a weekend away in December 2017; we stayed at a hotel in Pittsburgh last summer over vacation but went down with the kids and then met them the next day for a baseball game, so it’s not the same level of kid-freeness.

Anyway, I won’t be planning any meals this week but am looking forward to recapping the restaurants and getting back to swing of things next week!

 

water park adventures

My semester ended on Monday and on Wednesday, 3 and I packed our bags and drove to Great Wolf Lodge. It was interesting trip for a few reasons:

  1. We drove to Fitchburg, an area I’d never been but in our journey to get there, we passed Shirley, MA. Five years ago, my husband and I put an offer and deposit on a lot to build a house in Shirley.

    WHAT. WERE. WE. THINKING?

    When you get off of the exit, you’re greeted by a giant tractor store. I know that there was a lot going on during that time and it is beautiful out there in the country. All I kept thinking as I drove past was how miserable I’d be if we’d ended up there. Sure, we’d have a beautiful home that we’d designed, but that’s where things would come to a stand still for me. I am happy we ended up in our beach town, able to walk to the ocean (and bonus, we designed our current kitchen last summer when our floor caved in, so – there’s that).

  2. We drove past the town where my son was born and spent the first year of his life. I was definitely feeling emotional passing those exits. I’ve only ever been to that town for his disclosure meeting, pre-move-in visits, and our court date when his adoption was finalized.
  3. My son was excitedly talking about our “abventure” and then I looked back and he was out cold asleep. What a little trooper. He managed to get in a 40 minute nap on our 70 minute drive, so he was all ready to roll when we got into the water park.

Great Wolf Lodge is HUGE! I parked on the other side of campus and when all was said and done, we walked nearly three miles before we even got to the water park (granted, I ran 1.5 in the AM and we did walk the dog before we left).

We went to our room, moved the car, got changed, and then went to the water park. What fun! There are two sides of water park at the GWL in Fitchburg. We spent a few hours on one side where 3 ran and played and swam. He went down a water slide over and over and over and just laughed and laughed, having the best time.

I love that I get to see the world through his toddler eyes. He was just having such fun and as a result, so was I. After our water park time, we showered and went to dinner and then to bed. It was a busy day and I wanted to be well-rested for the following.

The next morning started off okay — we went to breakfast; 3 ate a small feast; and then we went to the other side of the water park. He didn’t care as much for this side, so we only spent a little while there. We went back to the room after a bit, changed, went to the balloon animal activity where 3 got a purple monkey on a green tree balloon.

We walked around, got dessert and then pizza, and then went back to our room for naps and some HGTV. 3 was pretty exhausted at that point, so we took it easy the rest of the night. Friday morning, we got up, had breakfast, and got on the road to head home. I had my Friday 5k to run upon our arrival and figured 3 could use a nice, long nap… actually, it seemed we BOTH needed a nice, long nap. I put 3 down and decided to lay down myself; two hours later, I awoke, got my 5K in, and got ready for dinner.

We ended our adventure with a trip to one of our favorite Tex-Mex restaurants as a family. All-in-all, it was a great couple days and a nice way to kick off the end of the semester. I am still waiting for consistent warmer weather, though I will say, this weekend’s preview has been lovely!

meals, may 17-24

Because 3 and I planned our first adventure, I’d already figured on burgers for Friday but I’m thinking I’d prefer a lighter fare, so I’m switching things up a bit.

I have been feeling a bit defeated that my weight isn’t going down at the pace I was planning. I’ll have periods where I’ll drop and then plateau and it’s frustrating. My body is definitely changing composition (thanks, yoga) and I’m fitting into clothing differently (and clothing that previously was too tight to wear), which is great but that number is just not moving. I know that I should be grateful for the endurance I’m building (and I am) and that my running pace is decreasing — I am definitely seeing all types of non-scale victories but that doesn’t help me not dwell on the number.

I’ve been reading that people who are healthiest tend to eat the same things over and over. I have been doing this, largely, but I think I’m consuming far more meat products that I’d prefer. I used to not eat meat at all and now it’s center stage in all three meals, basically.

This week, we are going to mix things up a bit: open-faced breakfast sandwiches and refried bean tacos for lunches during the week and then grilled meat and salads for dinner. I am hoping this brings more of the balance I’m looking for and won’t require so much day-to-day cooking on my part. I have been getting A LOT of chicken kebab salads from a local place (it’s a nice .75miles r/t walk) and I like that they serve pita with their salads, so I think I’ll grab some of those for us to have with ours to really round everything out if we want to add a little more substance. I also think I’m going to roast some baby potatoes as an alternate carb option.

My husband and I are going away next weekend for a few days, so it’ll be nice to see how this works and if it’s worth our while when we get back from our long weekend trip.

 

end of semester recap

Well, folks, I made it through the end of the semester! Monday marked my last day of classes and yesterday I spent some time updating grades. I will submit and finalize everything on Friday upon my return from 3’s and my FIRST SUMMER ADVENTURE!

We are leaving in about 30 minutes to head on a mommy-3 retreat and we are both so excited. 3 has been talking about his “abventure” all week and told me today that he can’t wait until we get there. I can’t wait either!

This week has been really remarkable. On Monday, I had students wait in a line to talk to me after class and tell me that they looked forward to attending my class every week. It was so nice to hear. The biggest compliment, though, was from a student who casually mentioned that it really meant a lot to him to see how I tried to connect with all of my students and build a community within my classroom. I know that this is not something that most professors do and I’ve definitely been told by colleagues that I really shouldn’t care about my students, but it was honestly one of the most appreciated comments I’ve ever been given about my work.

I’ve been looking to transition out of teaching for a while and started doing some consultant work here and there; nothing really steady or serious. I’ve been working on rebranding and marketing in 2019 and have a few big projects in the pipeline that I’m excited about. Monday’s end to the semester really left me on a high note going into a summer and at least a fall sabbatical.

Monday’s high was quickly knocked down by Tuesday’s low. 3 was just not having any part of that day. He went to daycare on Monday and we know when he goes he is over-stimulated and under-rested. This trickled into Tuesday like a waterfall… it was throw-himself-on-the-floor tantrum after tantrum accompanied by screaming and crying. When it was nap time, I ate two giant bowls of ice cream and took a nap myself (I may or may not have cried myself to sleep).

The evening was better for both of us, even though I was so upset all day that all I’d eaten was breakfast (eggs) and ice cream, so I ended up missing my yoga classes in lieu of a salad and some cabbage. It was worth it. I had S relax and read in his room before bed and he got a good night’s sleep and is ready to take on today’s big adventure.

 

mother’s day

For years, Mother’s Day left me in a strange place. I was a step-mother being celebrated for my contributions to my family but yearned for a child of my own at the same time. It was difficult to be appreciative and not show outward aching at the same time. When 3 came home, that all changed of course…

This weekend, we celebrated Mother’s Day and it was all lovely. Yesterday, I was showered with love and hand-made gifts from 11 & 13. They each made me mugs that were thoughtfully painted and they were both proud to tell me that I could use these mugs for my tea. I can’t wait!

Their mom took them to Michael’s to get a craft for me, which is appreciated. She has not always been so accepting and approving. Last night, when she came to pick 11 & 13 up, she texted my husband to let him know she got to the house and to have him wish me a Happy Mother’s Day. 11 & 13 left with handmade cards from an in-town printing press, flowers, and chocolate-covered strawberries in hand.

Before that, though, we went to Davio’s and had an Italian dinner (and a glass of Moscato for me). It was a delicious meal and our server complimented all three kiddos on their behavior (and their appetites).

I also was taught a new dance this weekend. I honestly wonder what the neighbors think, as there are frequent dance parties that take place in our sitting room and kitchen space. The newest dance I learned is where I catch an imaginary ball and then look like I’m tying a bow with my fists. It appears there are dramatized facial expressions as well.

All-in-all, a great weekend that led up to today. For Mother’s Day, my husband and 3 took me to brunch at one of my favorite places, Eastern Standard and surprised me with tickets to the Red Sox game! The weather in Boston was less than fantastic today, but after a Mother’s Day winter hat purchase, I was comfortable enough to make it through the game. Fortunately, my husband got us seats under the grand stand, so we stayed dry the duration of the game.

After a stunning Sox victory, we drove home, admiring the city and recapping our day. Then, we ordered pizza and cheesecake, because is there really any other way to celebrate Mother’s Day?

 

grief.

It’s really strange, sometimes, being 37. Two classmates of mine from high school are widows and a dear friend’s husband is now a widower.

Last week, my closest high school friend passed away. She fought a long, courageous battle with cancer. I’m told that she knew it was the end and was at peace with it. This is something that makes my heart a little less heavy; but I’ll be honest, this has been a struggle for me.

It’s easy to think and feel young but when something like this happens, it can hit hard. I have tried to stay busy — I went to two yoga classes on Tuesday; I took 3 to the park on Monday; 3 and I drew and wrote and played on Wednesday; and today, I picked up an antibiotic for a sinus infection (less fun; still a distraction). Still, I feel a great heaviness in my heart.

As I waited for my prescription to be filled, I stood in the Hallmark section and sobbed as I chose sympathy cards to send her to husband & son and her parents. Her parents are the people who welcomed me over nearly every weekend from middle school through high school graduation; her husband, the man I watched share his vows (and keep them) in a periwinkle and cream bridesmaid dress; and her son, a near teen who’s played Legos with 11 & 13 while we visited my parents.

There’s something about losing a friend that makes you face your own mortality; something that makes you think about so many things and yet nothing, really. I spoke to a friend’s sister; she sent me a picture of us from high school that she had. It was really nice to see, as all of my old pictures are still at my parents’ house.

I guess what I’m ultimately saying is that it’s really sad to lose a friend; even understanding that life ends and that illness shortens that life. It can be difficult to stay positive and think of memories, but that’s my plan for now.

 

meals, may 10-16

Last weekend didn’t quite go according to plan. I missed yoga on Saturday and Sunday due to a sore throat and ear ache (thanks, rain) but I’m felling better now and I’m looking forward to the weekend ahead: Mother’s Day brunch & surprises; back on track with yoga and working out. Monday is my last class of the semester (and the upcoming year, thanks to a sabbatical), so once my final grades are submitted, 3 and I are heading out on our first adventure of break!

I started using Instacart last week for groceries to save some time/money. I can get groceries from multiple stores without running around. We are trying out the Express membership for two weeks and then will decide if $99/year makes sense. The fact that they can deliver from BJ’s makes me think it will be worth our while, but we’ll see.

We are going to keep our at-home meals simple and quick (and mostly healthy).

Friday — BBQ chicken legs, potatoes, and a spinach salad.

Saturday — What a busy day we have planned: 3 has soccer and from there, I’m heading to yoga. We are going out to dinner to celebrate Mother’s Day early with 11/13 since they will spend Sunday with their mom. Breakfast will be quick — cereal.

Sunday — Happy Mother’s Day! We are having brunch in Boston after yoga at one of my favorite places — blueberry gin may be calling me name. For dinner, we are going to stick with something easy — buffalo SHRIMP skewers on the grill and beets.

Monday — It’s my last day of class and 13 is having a tooth extraction, so I wanted something easy, nutritious, and soft: Unstuffed cabbage and mashed potatoes.

Tuesday — Taco Tuesday and we’re switching it up this week with taco mac: quinoa pasta, ground turkey, black beans, peppers, shredded cheddar, and Greek yogurt.

Wednesday — It’s just my husband, 11 & 13, and I know that H is in the throws of the busy season at work (meaning, he will likely have more work to do after he picks the kids up from school). I want to make things easy, so I figured on a crockpot meal that I can put in before I head out on 3’s and my adventure. I figured on meatballs and lentil pasta. I know that it’s pasta two days in a row but it’s easy and there are zero people in my house who complain about eating pasta; a salad kit can round this out nicely.

Thursday — Leftovers / sausage stir-fry.

I went really easy/lazy this week to help my husband get out the door quickly and grabbed some pre-made breakfast sandwiches. It’ll be easy to pair them with an applesauce or some fruit and call it a day before school. My husband will take his usual lineup of Greek yogurt, string cheese, boiled eggs, Kind bar, and a banana. Lunches are equally as simple: slow cook chicken breasts and shred over salad kits. My husband has work meetings all week, so he’ll be eating there and this will make things as simple as possible for him once 3 and I are on our trip.

meals, may 3-9

Well, it’s May now! I have two weeks of classes to go and the day after my last class, I’m taking my toddler on our first summer adventure. My husband and the older two will meet us for a fun post-school swim before heading home and back to school/work the next day. I’m so excited!

I was exhausted this past week. I missed my beloved Tuesday night yoga class and Wednesday’s run/weight training. I just had no energy to give. I’m hoping to get back to normal this coming week. Over the weekend, my husband and son are doing a 5K walk together (likely in the rain). I’m going to meet them after yoga for brunch at a place in Boston we’ve never tried. If we’re being truthful here, I’m dying a slow death waiting for the rainy season to end and am really just trying to stay as positive as possible.

Friday, we are going to take it easy and make a casual meal with steak frites with chimichurri and serve it with a tomato-mozzarella salad. Simple and delicious.

Saturday, we are going to be home and I’m looking forward to making something healthy and different. We will start our morning with yoga/soccer and then follow it up with stuffed acorn squash from True Roots (P11) for brunch. For dinner, we are going to stick with goat cheese stuffed jalapeños (True Roots, P150), buffalo shrimp, and something else that is yet to be determined (but possibly buffalo chicken/spinach artichoke dip).

Sunday, we are meeting for brunch after the 5K & yoga. I know that we are going to indulge (hello, pancakes or crab meat hash!), so I wanted to keep dinner easy and healthy: Tumeric-glazed mahi mahi (True Roots, P67) and a healthy side of beets.

Monday is Monday. I have two classes left and this class starts our presentations. I am going to make Chrissy Teigan’s sesame chicken noodles recipe (Cravings, P89) to eat in my car before class. 

Tuesday is always tough to plan because I have yoga and I’d like to get in two yoga classes. This means that I’ll probably try to eat a substantial lunch and take a small snack to have between classes and a smoothie for the way home. I’m not sure that this is sustainable but I’d like to try it. I came up with chicken sausage, spinach, and potatoes. I’ll take crackers as a snack to have between classes and a smoothie for the car-ride home.

Wednesday, finally! Family dinner night! Buffalo chicken salads — I know this is no surprise. This week, we are going to try to remake SweetGreen’s buffalo chicken salads: pickled celery & carrots, blackened chicken thighs, tomatoes, lettuce, hot sauce, and caesar dressing.

Thursday is typically our date night but we won’t really have any this month due to travels of our sitter and then us, so we will make something date-night worthy at home: 3 requested Chrissy Teigan’s Cacio e Pepe (Cravings, P79). I use chickpea pasta, shredded parmesan and will probably add more arugula to the mix. This recipe is a big hit in my house.

Breakfasts during the week will be easy: Eggs & fruit. (If you’ve not noticed, we eat eggs with great frequency.) Lunches for all will be chicken sausage, potatoes, and spinach.

Here’s to a great week of eating ahead!