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Wonderful Weekend

October 20, 2014

Hi friends!  Happy Monday!  I’m ready to get this week over with—I have papers to comment on and poetry portfolios to grade, and then this weekend, we’re headed up to North Carolina to see one of my very best friends get married!  Hurry up, weekend!

We had a good weekend—unlike last weekend, our weather was beautiful all weekend long—sunny skies, crisp temps…perfect fall weather!

Friday night, we stayed in and watched a “scary” movie (Drag Me To Hell—meh).  I made this super-easy lamb and butternut squash ragout that we both agreed was REALLY tasty.  It was also super easy.

Lamb and Butternut Squash Ragout

1 lb. ground lamb

1 large onion, chopped

1/2 a butternut squash, peeled and chopped

1/2 tsp. garlic salt (you can use more or less depending on the sodium level of your stock)

1 tbsp. garam masala

1/2 cup golden raisins

4 cups chicken stock

Directions:

Heat a tbsp. of oil in a deep pot.  Add onion and cook until starting to brown.  Add lamb and use the back of a wooden spoon to break up the lamb into small chunks as it browns.  Cook for about 10 minutes.  Add butternut squash, garlic salt, and garam masala.  Stir well to combine.  Add raisins and chicken stock.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce to a high simmer and continue to simmer uncovered until the liquid has reduced and the ragout is thick, about thirty minutes.

Serve over couscous.

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It was so delicious that even Tenny couldn’t resist trying to sneak a bite as I snapped a pic. Winking smile

On Saturday, we had a Halloween party to go to—and we needed to pull together some costumes!  Lila told us that she wanted to go as a cat…so we decided to ALL be cats!

Cat, Cat Stevens, and Katniss, that is. Winking smile  It was a pretty clever costume idea, if I do say so myself.  Unfortunately, Lila had a breakdown at the party about not being there as Elsa.  Costume remorse is real, y’all.

We brought some cookies to the party, which Lila helped me bake earlier in the day:

Pumpkin Spice White Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 cups flour

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1 tbsp. pumpkin pie spice

1.5 sticks softened butter

1 cup packed light brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 egg, plus 1 egg yolk

1 tbsp. vanilla extract

1 cup white chocolate chips

Directions:

Heat oven to 325.

In a mixing bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and spices.

In a standing mixing bowl, combine butter and sugars.  Cream together until light and fluffy.  Add egg vanilla and beat for another minute. 

Slowly add dry ingredients to butter/egg mixture, beating to combine.  Once fully mixed, turn off the mixer and add the white chocolate chips, mixing by hand until combined.

On a non-stick baking sheet, place cookie dough by tbsp., at least two inches apart.  Bake at 325 for about 12 minutes.  If you desire soft cookies (and I do!), take them out when they still look a little undercooked (about 11 minutes) and allow them to cook on the baking sheet for another minute or two before switching them over to a cooling rack.

Sadly, I didn’t get any pictures of the final cookie—but we did get a lot of pictures of us baking! Smile

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Lila’s favorite part was obviously eating the chips. Smile 

The party was a great time, and we spent Sunday relaxing and prepping for the week ahead.  Lila helped me cook again—this time, we made some leek and white bean soup for dinner:

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I really do think that helping me cook means that Lila is way more likely to actually eat the food.  She kept saying, “We made this soup!” during dinner. 

Off to shower and get ready for school—have a great day!

All Stocked Up On Crazy

October 7, 2014

Hi friends! Did you have a good weekend?

We had a good one here…started it with only two dogs, and somehow had three by the time Sunday rolled around:

Yep…that’s one more cattledog than we normally have.  Smile 

I’ve been following Emma for a while on Facebook—obviously we have a soft spot for Australian Cattledogs in our family, and Emma looked like a great one.  The local shelter she was staying with kept posting pictures of her, and I would think, Man, somebody needs to adopt this dog!

When they put a call out for foster homes due to an influx at the city shelter, I decided that we should foster Emma for a while.  She came over and met our dogs and Tenny (our cat) on Saturday afternoon, and did good with all of them, and with Lila as well. 

She was standoffish at first, but warmed up really (really) quickly:

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Now the only thing that remains to be seen is if she stays a foster…or joins our family for good, haha.

Other than that, this weekend was pretty relaxing.  We went to a game night at our friends’ house on Saturday—our second “Cards Against Humanities” game in as many weeks.  We went to church the next day, which was probably needed. 

I made some easy turkey vegetable soup last night:

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And cooked up this coconut chicken curry soup in the slow cooker this afternoon.  SUPER easy and yummy—it was just 2.5 cups chicken broth and 1 can of coconut milk (full fat), 3 tbsp. red curry paste, 2 tbsp. chopped fresh ginger, 1 tsp. garlic salt, and 4 chicken breasts in the slow cooker.  I cooked it on high for 3 hours, then added chopped zucchini and cooked it for another hour.   When it was done cooking, I shredded the chicken before serving:

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I wish we’d added more vegetables—I think canned tomatoes, mushrooms, and peppers would make delicious additions.  Maybe even broccoli and snow peas—go wild! Winking smile 

My pictures officially suck, but at least I shared some of what we’ve been eating, right?

Thank you for all of your comments about my last post—it means a lot to me.  Hope you have a great night—I’m off to snuggle with two cattledogs, a terrier, a cat, and my husband. 

xx

Workouts and Clomid and Stuff

October 4, 2014

Kind of a random title, right?

I woke up at 6am this morning and Ryan and Lila are still sleeping soundly (jerks), so I decided to blog about some of what’s going on right now.

Workouts went a little better this week.  I’m still disappointed in my lack of movement on days that I teach (MWF).  I’m on my feet for about 3 hours straight while I teach, so I guess that counts as something.  Still, my steps are always down on those days, and I just haven’t been able to push myself to get up early to workout, or go to the gym in the afternoon.  Now that the weather is starting to cool off and I can go outside without looking like this in five minutes:

…maybe I can start going on walks in between my morning and afternoon classes.

Anyway—I did get a run in on Tuesday morning (4 miles) and then worked out at our neighborhood gym on Thursday morning.  Tuesday and Thursday are no problem—and because of my lack of exercise on other days, I will say I try to push myself hard at the gym on those days, especially with the weights.

Still, I’d like to add at least one more “formal” workout to my weekday routine.  It just feels good to break a sweat.  Right ladies?

Okay, I’m done.  I promise.

Except to say that I can’t stop watching this video, and I really want to do this with some of my friends. 

On a more serious note—I start Clomid this week.

Womp, womp.

Remember this post I wrote about how we were going to start trying for baby number two this summer?  Well, we actually started back at the end of April, with the idea that if I got pregnant, I would just take the 2015 spring semester off.  But it didn’t happen…and didn’t happen…and still hasn’t happened. 

A lot of doctors say that if you’re under 35 you should try for a year before seeing your doctor, but my doctor (whom I LOVE) told me to come in if I wasn’t pregnant after six months of trying.  Last month we hit the six month mark, so I went in and talked to her. 

Ryan checks out fine, and my blood/hormone levels were all normal, so she’s putting me on a low dose of Clomid this month to see if that will help. 

I’ve been tracking my ovulation regularly with kits, with success each month, so I don’t really think the ovulation is the issue.  Honestly, I don’t know what the issue is.  I know a LOT of couples try for way longer than six months—I have friends who have had to try for years to get pregnant. So trust me, I don’t want this to become a “woe is me” kind of post.  I know we’re still in the early stages of trying.

Still, with Lila, we got pregnant without really trying—it happened so quickly, it kind of scared me.  So I guess I just assumed the second one would happen quickly as well.  And now that it’s taking a while, it’s pretty frustrating.  A lot of the fun has gone out of it.  When it’s go time, imagine this:

23 Things Every Couple Trying To Get Pregnant Understands

Except instead of Jennifer Lawrence, it’s me.  And I’m wearing fleece pajamas and a facemask.  And I’m frantically waving a positive ovulation stick back and forth.

HOT.

Anyway, I thought about not really writing about this on the blog.  But, I wanted to be open about what we’re going through—again, I think there’s a misconception that if it happens easy once, it will happen easy twice.  We’re proof that that isn’t necessarily true.  And honestly, I kind of feel guilty even feeling pissed off about it—after all, we already have one child.  What right do we have to feel exasperated about not having a second one as quickly as we’d like?

But when I went to see my doctor, she looked at me and said, “Well, when your heart decides you want another one, you want it right away.”

And I basically started crying.

Things have been a little emotional over here lately.

I’ve heard the Clomid helps with that.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

xx

Coupla’ Meals

October 1, 2014

Hi friends!  It’s a new month—welcome to October!  I was feeling reminiscent about Lila’s first Halloween this morning, when she dressed as this sweet lil’ Lion:

How on earth was this only two years ago?!

I think this year she’ll be a little more excited to be in her costume, which I have a feeling will start with a Prin and end with a cess. 

We’ve been a little better about cooking around here lately.  We had a game night with friends and made the butternut squash lasagna, as well as a vegan lasagna for our non meat-eating friends.  I followed a recipe online for an easy tofu-spinach “ricotta”:

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To the tofu (firm) and thawed spinach (water pressed out), I added nutritional yeast, garlic salt, and a bit of lemon juice. 

I sauteed some vegetables (carrots, zucchini, mushrooms) to put in between the layers of lasagna noodles, along with tomato sauce and the faux ricotta.

Lasagna can be a little labor-intensive.  Luckily, I had Queen Elsa on hand to assist with the assemblage:

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Who knew that Queen Elsa was such a great sous chef?

The resulting lasagna was very tasty, and fed us for a couple of days after the party!

I also made a super (souper?) easy soup on this past Sunday afternoon.  We had some leftover fruits and veggies in the refrigerator that needed to be used up, so I chopped them into large chunks, tossed them with olive oil and garlic salt, and roasted them at 400 degrees for 25 minutes, until they were easily pierced with a fork.

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Butternut squash, carrots, and apples, pre and post roast.

Then, on Monday night while I was teaching, Ryan just blended the veggies with a little bit of chicken broth and heated it up over the stove.  Instant veggie soup!

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It was really nice to come home to a bowl of warm soup and a grilled cheese sandwich after a long day (and night) of teaching.

A couple of tasty fall meals! Welcome to October!

Catching Up

September 18, 2014

Hey there!  I don’t have a specific post or recipe to share, but I thought I’d play a little catch-up on the ol’ blog.  Things have calmed down a bit around here—I had a few days last week and this week that were totally open, so I was able to get work done for classes and even hit the gym a few times.  I think I just get used to having SUCH an open schedule in the summer that when it’s time to return to classes and my time is more limited, there’s a bit of an adjustment period. 

Two things have been helping me get back into regular workouts—1) I’m just making them a priority.  It’s really easy to sleep in now that Lila is waking up a little later (like, 7 instead of 6), but I’ve come to realize that especially on the days I teach, those early morning hours are the only time I’m going to go to the gym.  Lila is in school all morning until 1:00, so I hate to drag her to the childcare at our Y after I haven’t seen her in the morning.  Plus, on the days that I teach, I shower in the morning before my 10 and 11 o’clock classes, and I don’t want to workout, get all gross, and have to shower AGAIN before my evening class.

Eh, it’s all very complicated.  What it boils down to is that I’ve been waking up at 6:15, going to the gym in our neighborhood (instead of driving all the way to the Y), and getting my workout done first thing.  And I kind of love it.  It’s *really* nice to have a workout over and done with before breakfast. And our neighborhood gym is actually surprisingly nice—I’m kind of mad at myself for just now starting to use it! The fact that is is literally 2 minutes down the street from us, as opposed to 15 minutes away like the Y, is so convenient.

So anyway—that’s what’s going on on the workout front.

Let’s see…what else.  Did I tell you that Lila is taking ballet classes?

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I mean…it’s basically the cutest thing ever.  The only way it could get cuter is if they released a bunch of puppies into the studio, halfway through the class.   She loves the classes, too—maybe we have a prima ballerina on our hands?  

We’ve had some really nice sunny weather, although it still needs to drop about five degrees for it to actually feel like fall.  We’re getting there though.  We went on a hike this past weekend:

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….and I officially wanted a sweatshirt to wear over my tank top. 

We tried to get a picture of all “the kids” at the top of the mountain:

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…but it was pretty much a fail.  At least we got a picture of the humans:

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Other than that…not much going on here.  Tonight is Thursday, which means a trip to the farmers’ market.  Ready for the weekend, for sure!  Hope your week has been a great one!

Pumpkin Butternut Squash Turkey Lasagna

September 12, 2014

Is that enough of a mouthful for you? 

I mentioned in my last post that I haven’t been cooking much.  We’ve been eating meals, of course—but lots of easy stir-fries, pastas, sandwiches, etc.  I just haven’t had as much time for grocery shopping and planning specific, cooking-heavy meals. 

But today…ahhhh, today.  For the first day maybe since school started, my schedule was gloriously OPEN—no meetings, no teaching, and not even a huge amount of grading or class prep weighing on my shoulders.  Friends, today was wonderful.  While Lila was at school, I went to the gym, caught up on some writing, and got a massage.  Perfection.

I also had time to go to the grocery store and <gasp> cook dinner.  And I’m glad I did, because this one was a good one.

My friend Ellen was gushing about the amazing butternut squash lasagna she made last week.  That, combined with this pasta sauce that has been sitting in our pantry for about a month:

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…meant that lasagna was on the menu.  With pumpkin sauce.  And butternut squash.  And turkey.  And spinach. 

I used no-cook lasagna noodles in an attempt to save some time, and they did fine.  I do think you can taste a difference between them and regular lasagna noodles though.  They weren’t bad different—just a little different.  And they definitely do save the time (and mess and hassle) of having to boil the noodles.

For the filling, I peeled and chopped a medium-sized butternut squash:

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…and then tossed the cubes with olive oil, dried basil and garlic salt.  Roasted them in the oven for 20 minutes at 400 degrees.

While the squash roasted, I chopped an onion and cooked it along with 1.25 pounds of lean ground turkey (seasoned with salt and pepper). 

Once that was all cooked, I transferred it to a bowl:

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…topped it with fresh spinach:

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…and then topped THAT with the roasted squash, and tossed it all until it was combined and the squash had wilted down.

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Then the assemblage.  I spread a layer of the pumpkin sauce first, then topped that with lasagna noodles, plus a layer of the squash and turkey:

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Then I topped THAT with shredded mozzarella (just the pre-shredded Kraft kind…judge me if you must), plus another layer of noodles, sauce, and filling.  I finished with a final layer of noodles, sauce, and cheese:

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Covered it in foil, baked it for 30 minutes at 350, then took the foil off and baked it for another 15 minutes until the cheese was golden and bubbly.

Behold:

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It was really, really good.  Ryan and I both agreed that the pumpkin pasta sauce might not be great on everything, but in this dish it paired really well with the rest of the ingredients.  And hey, eat pumpkin now before we’re all orange as oompah loompahs and sick to death of all things autumn and gourd, amiright?

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Lila was a fan too…after it cooled off.  Winking smile 

Glad tomorrow is Friday!

Whoops

September 10, 2014

Wow…did I just take a nearly-month-long break from blogging?

And then did I forget to renew my domain, thus effectively shutting down the blog for a few days?

Seriously, my bad.

Thanks for the e-mails and text messages asking about the blog—I actually wonder sometimes if I just stopped blogging altogether, if anyone would notice or care—and clearly some of you did!

Anyway, I’m not going to quit blogging.  I promise, this blog isn’t going anywhere (for now).  Things have just been flat-out crazy with our return to school this year.  I’m not going to lie—the past couple of weeks have been really stressful.  Between managing Lila’s new school schedule, along with both our teaching schedules and meetings and events on campus, the past few weeks have just felt like one non-stop to-do list.  The blog isn’t the only thing that has suffered—we’ve been eating super simple dinners (umm, frozen pizza anyone?) and my workouts have definitely fallen by the wayside.  Even Ryan and I, who usually see each other a lot up at school, have been kind of like strangers in the night.

Anyway, I’m hoping that things will calm down soon—they have to, because I’m basically like a giant ball of stress right now:

…which isn’t good for anyone.

I hope you’re having a great September, and hopefully I’ll be back soon with regular posting. 

xx

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