Feb 16, 2016

This and That (part Eleventy Billion)

  • I've told y'all how much I love the Gap Breathe tops.  Then I stumbled upon this new style.  I love it!  I wore it tied in the back- got a ton of compliments at Jazz.  And Gap is having a sale every other day it seems, just wait a hot minute if they're not on sale currently.

  • I read this oh-so condescending article in the New York Times, and its snakiness inspired me to make Mississippi Roast.  The sodium laden processed food kind, not the New York Times version.  I guess I got my back up a bit, ha!  It was surprisingly delicious.  Didn't help my quest for a smaller waistline at all, but that's okay.  We ate it over grits for dinner, then had it on hoagies with provolone cheese a couple days later for a yummy post swim lessons lunch.

  • Dell Harper got Candyland and Chutes and Ladders for her birthday.  She is into the board games!

  • Also, I bought her some baby workout clothes at Target and Old Navy.  This is what she sports for gymnastics.  Combined with new big-girl tennis shoes?  She looks way too grown up for my taste.  But super adorable (she's showing off her friendship bracelet here- hence the wrist action).

  • Also in game news she also received the Pie Face game.  Huge fan!  Deeds and I?  Not as much.

So that's about it over here.  Weather has been yuck, so we've been swimming at the Y a lot, hitting up open gym, and giving me stress wrinkles.  Hopefully it's almost over and school will be in for the foreseeable future.  Yesterday I had a babysitter for 6 hours, so I could work.  Being a work at home mom has a lots of unforeseen expenses during the winter months (it's still worth it though!).

Feb 10, 2016

Why I Quit Le Tote (another Unsponsored and very honest Le Tote review)

Okay, I didn't actually quit.  I put my account on hold for 9 months because the person I talked to made me feel guilty.  But in essence I quit.

This is why:

Here's my choices from a couple weeks ago.  I live in the South, but we still have winter!  I can't be gallivanting around in a t-shirt or cotton dress and sandals!  It's freezing outside.

So I go to switch some stuff out.  Here's some of my choices.

 Lots of darling dresses.  For summer time.  Or early fall, or late spring.  But January??
 The skirt situation is largely the same.

Here's some of my totes that I received.  I am super grateful that they introduced me to Lysee leggings- love them.

However, most of the stuff was what I could find that was available and remotely in season.  Not something I was dying to wear.

I think Le Tote is probably a great option if you are on the West Coast- seasonality might not be such a problem, and the shipping wouldn't take so long.

Yes- it's free two day shipping, but after I would take my package to the post office, my next tote wouldn't be ready to review until the next day.  Then, it wouldn't ship until late that day or the next.  Basically, if I sent a tote back on Monday, I would get my next one on Friday.

Also, since the packages are too large for my mailbox, I was having to go to the post office once a week.  Not my favorite thing to spend 30 minutes doing.

There were screwups with billing and shipping, also.  The Le Tote staff was always very nice in dealing with it, but with the time change and dealing with customer service- it was just more of a headache than I was prepared to deal with.

Finally, as I mentioned in my earlier post, the clothes.  A few winners, and some fun accessories, but overall, meh.  A lot of basic stuff.  I don't want to rent basic stuff- I will buy that!  I want fun, wild, trendy stuff for rental.  Or even just stuff like cute J. Crew tops for a night out without spending $88.  It's a great concept- maybe I should start my own for the South.  Ha, a little more colorful and preppy, and with all four seasons represented.  Well, mild winters at least.

Feb 9, 2016

Yogurt Blueberry Pancakes

School is out.  Again.  Without a drop of snow on the ground or in the sky.  People are vociferous in their complaints on Facebook, which is at least entertaining.

Anyway,  we're having pancakes for snow day breakfast!  These are delicious- and somewhat healthified with the inclusion of Greek yogurt and whole wheat flour.  Perfectly fluffy with crisp edges, and fantastic flavor thanks to the cinnamon and fresh blueberries.

Yogurt Blueberry Pancakes

2 cups milk
3 eggs
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 tablespoon baking powder
3 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cinnamon
4 tablespoon melted butter
2 cups fresh blueberries

Combine milk, eggs and yogurt  in a large bowl and mix well.  In a separate bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, sugar and salt.   Add to egg mixture, and beat until the large lumps disappear.  Stir in butter, then fold in blueberries.

Pour about 1/4 cup batter on a hot greased griddle (or a non-stick pan, if you have no griddle like myself).  When bubbles appear on the surface and the edges are dry, flip the pancakes and watch carefully.  Drizzle lightly with syrup (or sprinkle with powdered sugar and cinnamon if you are anti-syrup like myself).

These can be frozen after cooling on a wire rack.

 If you prefer a runnier pancake batter, like myself, just add more milk to the batter.  You can also make the batter the night before, but it will thicken overnight- just whisk in some more milk to thin it out.

Okay, off to try and work while taking care of my children. . .this should be interesting.  I might have another pancake first to increase my fortitude.  It's practically a medical necessity, right?

Feb 3, 2016

My Imaginary Catalog Life (Part 128- Garnet Hill)

You know you are headed toward middle age when you imaginary life is based on the Garnet Hill catalog.  But seriously.  I'm all scruffy with no makeup remaining by the end of the day, in my slightly odoriferous workout clothes.  I'm awful at daytime casual.  Exercise clothes about sums up my daily uniform.  Apparently, I'm that mom.

In my dream life though, my messy hair looks like this, as does my outfits.

For example, I have pretty much this exact look.  However, it does not look like this on me.

 Oh, tra-la.  Just slightly dewy from my super intense hot yoga session.  In my super cute non-sweaty striped tank.

Oh, just loving on my pet.  I'm not rushing around getting kids ready for school while trying to sneak in work stuff and answer emails while Paw Patrol thrums in the background.
 I just really want this caftan.
 And this jacket.  Oh, and to look this polished and cute in my workout clothes.
I truly love Garnet Hill's swimsuits- great quality at a great price, and such darling prints.  Since I'm not a super tall skinny model, I have a feeling that this swim dress will make me look eighty-three years old.  

Apparently in my dream catalog life, I wear a lot of stripes.  And have a lot of free time.  Sounds good to me.

 I also wear a lot of cashmere without worry of how I'm going to hand wash it when I get snotted on.

And this obviously looks super cool on me, instead of ridiculous.

Feb 2, 2016

French Chicken in a Pot (Plus Side Dishes!)

Allie at Alexandra Bee Blog asked for some good recipes to bring friends that aren't casseroles, but still easy to transport.  I recently made this dinner for three friends who just had babies, and it was quite popular, healthy-ish and delicious!

Enter French Chicken in a Pot.  From Cook's Illustrated, so of course it was delicious.

The pictures do not do it justice- because it is baked in a dry pot under low heat, you don't get that super brown exterior.  You can either brown it more than I did, or stick it under the broiler for a couple minutes for a tanning bed effect if pale chicken bothers you.

French Chicken in a Pot (From Cook's Illustrated with tiny tweaks by me)

1 (4.5 to 5- pound) whole chicken, giblets discarded
2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 TBSP olive oil
1 small onion, roughly chopped
2 small celery ribs, roughly chopped
6 garlic cloves, peeled
1 bay leaf
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 tsp fresh lemon juice

1.  Adjust the oven rack to its lowest position and heat oven to 250 degrees.  Pat the chicken dry with paper towels, then sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Heat oil in Dutch oven until just smoking.  Add chicken, breast side down, and scatter onion, celery, garlicky leaf and rosemary sprig around chicken.  Cook until great is lightly browned, about 5-7 minutes.  Using a wooden spoon inserted into the cavity of the chicken, flip the chicken breast side up and cook until the chicken and the vegetables are well browned, about 6-8 minutes.

2.  Off heat, place a large sheet of aluminum over the pot, then cover tightly with the lid.  Transfer the pot to the oven and cook chicken until the breast registers 160 degrees, and the thighs register 175 degrees, about 1 hour and 20 minutes to 1 hour and 50 minutes (depending on how fast or slow your oven is).

Now, here the recipe has you straining the vegetables out of the sauce, using a fat separator, yada yada yada.  I simple removed the chicken, tented loosely with foil, and cooked the remaining juices and vegetables in my Dutch oven- bringing to a boil and seasoning with lemon juice.  It was delicious poured over the chicken, after I carved it.

For easy transport, I placed the chicken in a disposable roasting pan (that came with carrier and lid, score!), decorated with rosemary and lemons, then poured the sauce over.

I served it with roasted cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and roasted potatoes.

For baby dinners, I made Lemon-Garlic Green Beans-  Simply chop a clove or garlic or two, sauté with some olive oil, then add haricots verts. After sauteing until about 5-6 minutes over medium heat, add two cups of chicken broth, or enough to cover.  Bring to a boil, then lower heat and cover.  Simmer for about 10 minutes until the green beans are tender.  Season with salt and pepper, and squeeze lemon juice to taste.

Now, this cauliflower recipe.  It's a winner.  Ignore my picture- it's not actually swimming in butter.  I just forgot the butter when making the recipe, so added it at the end,  took  picture, then mixed it in.

Adapted from John Besh-  Cauliflower Puree.

Ingredients: Six 2-pound heads of cauliflower, cored and separated into 2-inch florets2 cups heavy cream1 1/2 sticks unsalted butterSalt

Preheat the oven to 325°. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the cauliflower florets until tender, about 7 minutes. Drain well. Spread the cauliflower on a large rimmed baking sheet. Bake for about 5 minutes, to dry it out. 

In a small saucepan, combine the heavy cream with the butter and bring to a simmer over moderate heat just until the butter is melted.

Place the cauliflower, and cream and butter back in the big pot, and puree with immersion blender until completely pureed.

This is delicious!  The original recipe has less  half the cauliflower, and is truly decadent.  However, I think it's wise to balance out all that butter and cream.  
This makes about 12 generous servings (I was making it for three dinners).  Feel free to do the math to halve it.  Or, if you are feeling the need to clog your arteries a bit, use the original 2 heads of cauliflower.  

Feb 1, 2016

Smoooooooooooky Party

 DH and her buddy checking out the Haunted House.  My girl had requested one that she could walk through, but this mama's time and energy ran out.

It was a great party, lack of haunted house notwithstanding.

 Deeds had a wonderful time- perfect way to celebrate his second birthday.

 Lots of princesses.

And superheroes, pirates and Buzz Lightyears. 

Dell Harper and I were witches.

 How old are you, Deeds?  "Twwwooo".

 And I wondered why my friends kept laughing when they saw me. . .

 This is how DH looked every time I saw her- a blur of activity.

 So I made tons of pigs in a blanket, cut up some Tostino's party pizzas, blueberries, carrot sticks, chips and pretzels.  I thought about getting all pinterest-y with cute, spooky food, then I got realistic.  Which was good, because there was a lot of kids there.  We got a half sheet cake for DH and one for Deeds, so they both got to blow out candles.  Then the kids got to "trick or treat" as they left, filling up paper bags with candy.  Sorry, parents!

Several tables were set up with stickers and crayons to decorate treat bags, as well as foam masks to decorate.

 Dell Harper said it was the best day of her life, and Deeds wouldn't quit doing his happy dance.  Mission accomplished, thanks to the dollar store and Oriental Trading.  And the bounce house rental place.

And maybe to Sam's Wholesale cake and Capri Sun.