Sunday, March 22, 2015

what do you eat each week?

Dinner
What do you eat each week?  I wrote up a little schedule for us a few months ago.  It has changed a bit from previous years.  Currently for dinner we eat . . .

Monday--some sort of rice based dinner--probably our favorite type of dinner.  The photo shows the Sweet Soy Chicken from The Family Flavor.  We love this meal.  I always stir in some steamed broccoli.  Another huge rice-based favorite is the Southwest Chicken Salad from Summer Harms.  Oh, and another is her Maple-Mustard chicken.  (Love her recipes--wish she'd start blogging again).

Tuesday--pizza (this is take out.  We have a good pizza place locally).

Wednesday--soup or chili.  Love this night!

Thursday--leftovers.  If we don't have enough food left over then I whip something up from what we have on hand.

Friday--Mexican!  This is also take out from a local restaurant, or we eat there.

Saturday--date night.  Ken and I eat out and the kids usually go to my parents' house.

Sunday--"Sunday dinner."  Actually, it could be anything--likely it is something I don't have time to make during the week.  Tonight we are having chicken pot pie.  That sort of thing.  Or something special like steak.

I loved this post when I saw it on Cup of Jo.  Apparently these weekly rotations are trendy now?  The concept of eating the same thing every week used to be the butt of jokes, I think.  Personally, I love it because it is a comforting routine for the children and for us too--at it's easy to plan and do.

Do you eat the same thing every week?

Sunday, March 15, 2015

mid-march check in

View from my hike My new breakfast Orange blossoms in full bloom right now

March is half over now. It feels more like summer here these last few days, rather than technically still winter. Oh my. Winters lately in Southern California.  To tell  you the truth, I'm feeling pretty anxious about the lack of rain, the record drought conditions, and the ever hotter winters.  I'm not sure what else to say about that. I hope that human beings adapt to this new climate . . .

Good things that have been happening in March--my walks are getting more regular and I'm liking them more.  This is a good sign.  I'll refrain from getting overly optimistic too soon.  I think having a hill to walk up gives me enough challenge and novelty that it feels new and fresh to me--not my usual super boring walk around the block.  And on Saturdays (two weeks in a row now) I've been going to the top of my normal hill and then entering the trailhead at the top and doing the entire loop.  I call it a hike, but I think most would call it more of a walk.  Anyway, it is beautiful and the views from the top are sweeping (see photo 1).  It takes me an hour and a half to do the full loop.  It's exciting to have this.

I've been listening to a new podcast-- Happier with Gretchen Rubin.  You know I like her blog and books, right?  The podcast is in its infancy, but it's pretty fun.  Her sister is her co-host.  Her sister is located in Southern California and she also commented on a local hiking trail she has been enjoying and that what passes for "hiking" in So Cal would most likely be known as "walking" everywhere else.  It made me smile for sure!  What podcasts are you listening to lately?  I hear Invisibilia is worth checking out.  I listened to one episode (the one they aired on This American Life) but I need to download more episodes and give it a fair chance.  How about you?

In other news, I have a new breakfast (photo #2).  Faith sent me a picture of her breakfast one morning this week, and I was fully inspired.  Hers was eggs, avocado, and tomatoes.  I subbed spinach for the avo and have been having it ever since.  I think it's making me healthier already!  ;)

Also--the orange blossoms are fully in bloom and they are fragrant and lovely.  I love this time of year--so expectant and hopeful.  I love making plans for summer and the longer evenings (after the sleep deprivation is over).

I did a bit of a closet cleanup today and am heading to Buffalo Exchange tomorrow after work to sell some stuff.  I'm continuing my goal to transition to a capsule wardrobe.  I feel like I'm making some good self discoveries in the process (e.g. buy less and don't expect to like it forever, so adjust your spending accordingly.  I think I've mentioned Jennifer L. Scott's YouTube videos before, yes?  She is very helpful in this process).

Thank you so much for the comments you have been leaving!  I haven't been getting e-mail notifications lately (not sure why), but discovered today comments I hadn't seen before.  Thanks again!  How is your March going?

Monday, March 2, 2015

march goals

At the museum


I decided to do some goals for March. I feel that things have finally calmed down a bit (since the holidays?  since the beginning of the school year?  LOL) and I'm finally ready to make some monthly goals.  All joking aside, life does feel pretty intense in the fall, getting school up and running, and then the holidays start, and then the January birthdays hit, and then this year February contained an out of town conference and a jury duty stint (albeit one day, but still).  So it actually does feel like a little exhale right now.

I absolutely love seeing the goals that others make on their blogs.  So here are mine:

1.  Drink a  glass of water each morning upon waking, eat two oranges per day, and take a hill-walk three times a week.  Those three mini-goals are all wrapped together as one health related goal.  I hate dieting and feeling deprived and cutting way back on calories.  I actually feel that those days in my life are past and I'm entering the next phase.  So here is my first step.  Bonus:  eating two oranges a day will help to use up some of our huge surplus.

2. Read a book.  I've gotten SO out of the habit of reading and it distresses me.  The internet has ruined my attention span for sure.  I'm trying to read The Luminaries right now, but it's taking awhile to get into.  Instead, for now, I'd like to read the book that The Theory of Everything is based on (a memoir by Stephen Hawking's first wife).  I'll let you know how it goes! I'm hoping it's available for the Kindle.

3.  A little spending freeze until I go to see my friend Carrie at the end of the month.  We'll do some shopping together in Kansas, but until then, no shopping for me.

I'd love to hear your March goals if you have any!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

february wrap-up

chicken pie
homemade chicken pie
the new kitchen
kitchen
sleeping on the floor
sleeping on the floor at the Hilton


March has come!  I thought I'd do a little February wrap-up.  I started the month up in Santa Cruz with Faith.  I had a little getaway weekend at the end of January and drove home on the first of February.  I can't tell you how refreshing it was to spend a weekend with my daughter.  We ate out, saw a movie, shopped at Bookshop Santa Cruz (so fun!  I overspent on books!), got pedicures, and watched City.Ballet on her laptop under her fully quits.  Mother-daughter time at its finest.  The movie we saw was The Imitation Game and we cried so much.  I drove home Sunday and that Monday I had a day off so Ken and I had breakfast out.  So it was a really  nice weekend over all.

Mid-month I attended the CSNO conference in Anaheim.  It is the yearly school nurses' conference that is held in different parts of California each year.  Last year was in Sacramento, which I loved.  Getting away to Anaheim is less exciting, but I still leaned a lot and it is always nice to bond with the other nurses.

For the Oscars we had a super fun "party" at my parents' house.  And by "party" I mean it was just them and us.  My mom made a lovely spread of food and we watched the entire thing.  Even the boys were mesmerized because we don't have broadcast TV at home, so it's a treat to watch an actual show.

And, I also had jury duty one day.  It stressed by out!  But fortunately I did not get selected to serve on a long trial.  Next time perhaps I'll be a bit more prepared, but this time I was not and was so thankful to be released after serving my one day.

And now we are on to March!  It even rained a little today to welcome the new month.  Do you have any March goals?

Saturday, February 28, 2015

corners of my home :: kitchen remodel

the new kitchen

Welcome to our new kitchen!  Sorry it has taken me so long to post pictures of the remodel.  It honestly seemed daunting to try to photograph it and I've really fallen out of the habit of blogging at all.  But some of you have been asking about it, so here we go.  The above photo shows a view from outdoors in the evening.  This is a new door and it looks out onto the back yard.  Come on inside!

the new kitchen

Our previous kitchen was old, yellow tiled, and basically crumbling apart. I hated it but I had to bide my time. Finally this summer we decided to go forward with the remodel (and took out a home equity line).  In the meantime, I'd been pinning kitchen ideas like mad, in the hopes of a someday kitchen remodel.  I wanted open, airy, clean, white, and non-dated.  Having Pinterest available as a tool for gathering ideas was great.  In the days before Pinterest, I honestly don't know how I would have figured out what I liked or what's available these days since I rarely go into other people's kitchens (although I am so curious about others' domestic lives--I just don't usually get the opportunity to see in).

the new kitchen

Here is a view of the long run of counter space.  You can see part of the door that I showed in the top photo.  This is leading out to the back yard.  The counters are Caesarstone quartz in Misty Carrera or Frosty Carrina (can't quite remember which, but I do know I ended up going with the lighter and whiter of the two).  It has a greyish vein going through that looks marble-like.  Love love love this coutertop! The open shelves are really thick planks of oak, stained dark to match the flooring.  I love that the wood of the door leading out back is natural/stained clear.  I like that contrast.  The cabinets are hand made in maple by a local cabinet maker guy named Logan.

the new kitchen

I got rid of maybe 2/3 of my kitchen stuff. I'm loving the minimalism of this. And we haven't missed all the clutter and junk one bit!

the new kitchen the new kitchen the new kitchen

I haven't hung any art or framed prints, but art from the boys brightens up the place.  I suppose with this much white there's a risk of the space looking sterile or severe, but I love it.  I honestly don't care.  I'm so happy to have it be clean, bright and open.

the new kitchen

This is the only view that shows the refrigerator. The footprint and the layout are almost exactly the same as before. The fridge, sink, and stove are placed identically. But the doorway to the dining room was widened significantly so the kitchen seems more open.

the new kitchen

And here is one of my favorite parts--(low) open shelves to store and display my Le Creuset.  This serves a dual purpose of displaying the colorful pieces and having easy access since they are heavy.  Oh, and we love having the microwave down low.

the new kitchen

Here is where we made the biggest change.  Formerly this space in the back of the kitchen was a laundry room--a very ugly, crumbly, non-functional space.  Now it is a tri-use area:  breakfast nook + open pantry + laundry room.  I'm so thrilled to have all this open shelving to store pantry goods.  And the breakfast nook makes a great homework area and laundry folding station.  This corner is so functional now.

the new kitchen

Here is another view. So if you are sitting at the little breakfast nook, the washing machine and dryer are behind you.

the new kitchen

And one final view from the back yard.  Just to be clear, we didn't DIY any of this.  We hired a wonderful local contractor named Johnny, and he handled everything.  Last summer we just "made do" without a kitchen (we had a temporary set-up in our breezeway, outside) and in 3 months it was done and we were moving back in!

Thanks for going on this little kitchen tour with me.  Words honestly cannot express what a dream come true this is for me.  I'm so happy every time I step into this space.

Monday, February 16, 2015

solvang getaway

Solvang Jan. 2015 Solvang Jan. 2015 Solvang Jan. 2015 Solvang Jan. 2015 Solvang Jan. 2015

Ken and I were super lucky to be able to get away to Solvang for two nights in January to celebrate his birthday!  A huge shout out to my parents for taking the boys for those days.  All parties had a great time.

Ken and I stayed at Hadsten House in Solvang again (I also wrote about it in this blog post) and again just thought it was perfect for a little getaway for two.  So basically the weekend was very chill.  We enjoyed the jacuzzi at the hotel, ate out at the phenomicnal restaurants in the area, took an easy and very scenic hike, and just generally enjoyed spending time together.  The weather was ideal--highs around 80 degrees and chilly in the evenings.  We decided that January is about the perfect month to visit Solvang.  Great weather and fewer crowds than in the summer months.

I think it is SO important for us to get away without kids sometimes.  It's very bonding and just gives us a chance to talk and reconnect.  Regular life with kids and school and work and activities and commuting can get so full and busy.  Sometimes I feel like we barely "see" each other.  So I love these getaways.  I'd love to do this twice a year.  Again, we are so lucky to have my mom available to help with the boys.  We are so blessed and fortunate that she has her health and energy, loves kids, and the boys have a blast over there.

So, in other news, Ken bought me a new laptop!  I've never had or used a laptop before so there is a huge learning curve for me.  I'm determined to make it work.  And I'm excited to learn.  We still have our old desktop Mac but it is so slow and clunky I'd basically stopped blogging.  My hope is to get organized and post here much more.  I love having my blog as a way to look back on our family life and all our memories.  I hope to "be" here much more often in the coming weeks and months.

Recommended places in Solvang and the area:
Hadsten House (for lodging)
Sides Hardware and Shoes in Los Olives (insane food--we've only been here for lunches.  I highly recommend the fried chicken sandwich.  The butternut squash soup was also unbelievable).
The Red Barn in Santa Ynez--this is another Brothers Restaurant (as is Sides) and is delish.
The Red Viking in Solvang--this is where we always go for our fix of Danish yummy foods.  Get the smorgasbord.
The Hitching Post-- we tried this  for the first time.  Excellent if you like meat, which we do.  We had wonderful steaks here.

The whole area has lots of restaurants and lovely wines.  I definitely recommend venturing into Los Olives and Santa Ynez.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

rainer's birthday

Rainer's birthday. 8! Rainer's birthday. 8! Rainer's birthday. 8! Rainer's birthday. Rainer's birthday. Rainer's birthday.

Rainer's birthday.

 Rainer turned eight last week!  We had a little family party for him on the actual day and a kid party the weekend before, on Friday evening.

For his family party I made his favorite dinner (Moraccan chicken couscous) and a chocolate cake with white frosting.  My parents came up and we had dinner, presents, and cake in that order. 

We don't usually do an additional kid party, but this year we decided to and it turned out really fun.  Ken pulled it off almost entirely on his own.  I work full time and was in charge of making a cheeseball + veggies and a birthday cake, plus collaborating with Rainer on a birthday playlist.  Ken came up with the theme, made cute invitations, and set up everything.

The theme was "witchcraft and wizardry" (in the style of Harry Potter) and Ken set up a "potions" station (super popular) and a wand making station (using sticks from the yard which people sanded down and added gemstones and leather wraps).  I'm not much of a blogger anymore so I lack good photos of the stations or wands, but it was really neat.  We served pizza and "sunbursts" (orange juice mixed with 7-Up and grenadine syrup). 

All in all it was a really good birthday!  And his birthday really kicks off our fall.  The holidays are ramping up!

And, a little walk down memory lane--

Rainer age 7
Rainer age 6
Rainer age 5
Rainer age 4
Rainer age 3
Rainer age 2
Rainer age 1

Monday, October 27, 2014

almost November

Lunch.
lunch on Sunday


Oh, hello!  The weeks have gotten away from me and I missed posting in September entirely!  I started a new school year and it's been busy and stressful.  I will say I think things are calming down now just a bit.  It's almost November and I feel just getting to that month is an accomplishment in itself and then there will be some breaks.  I always feel that September and October, where there are usually no breaks or holidays for 8 weeks or so, is a long haul.

So since I last blogged we got a new kitchen (!!!!!) and Rainer turned 8.  I'll be back (soon I hope) with pictures of both.  I have to say, having my baby turn 8 is great but getting this new kitchen has been amazing!  Anyone who has read my blog over the years, especially reading between the lines, has probably picked up on the fact that I hated my kitchen and this remodel means the world to me.  I'm so happy about it.

I love a good bullet point list, so here we go--
  • I love doing kitchen chores now and keeping everything clean and neat in there.
  • I got rid of maybe 50% of my kitchen stuff and I plan on keeping everything minimal and spare.  It's what my heart wants.  
  • I'm actually decluttering everything I have that is my own.
  • I'm transitioning to a capsule wardrobe. 
  • Can't wait for Thanksgiving break--we are going to Palm Springs for a few days.  Much needed!
  • Before that there will be Veteran's day--a random Tuesday.  Not sure yet what we'll do with that.
  • I'm dying to go to an art museum and look around. 
  • I'm doing a 30 day no sugar thing.  It's hard for me, but it's good timing before the holidays.

Friday, August 22, 2014

dreamy/practical :: new school year edition

Huntington Gardens in Pasadena

I just completed by first week back to work. SO glad to have that first week behind me. To tell you the truth, only Thursday and Friday were student days, but nonetheless the week felt intense. Opening school is hectic. I'm so glad to be off and running.

A dreamy/practical list feels appropriate.  Something I've been thinking about is approaching the weekends with more intention.  I'd like to plan a bit ahead, have something specific to look forward to during the week, and not let the precious weekend simply wash over me.  These two days each week are so valuable and I want to make them count.

So with that in mind, here is my list for this first weekend of the school year.

Dreamy

:: my mom turns 79 today!  We will go tomorrow and wish her happy birthday and sing to her and eat cake.
:: date night with Ken on Saturday night.  Hooray for Saturday date night!
:: Saturday morning yoga.  The summer was crazy and I barely made it to any yoga classes.  Sad!  And now I'm back at square one and 5 lbs heavier (at least).  It will feel good to get back into it.
:: and after yoga I want to lay out by the pool for one hour.  I think Ken and the boys will meet me there and maybe we will order lunch.
:: dream of recipes and cooking.  We've been getting a kitchen remodel this summer and I haven't had a kitchen for the past several weeks.  Two or so more weeks to go!  Can't wait to make poached eggs and family dinners.
:: on Sunday we want to have a little picnic in the park.

Practical

:: laundry is more challenging since the kitchen remodel means we also don't have a laundry room for now.  I've been doing laundry at my parents' house, but I may go quicker this weekend and use a laundromat.
:: wash the car Sunday morning with Dieter.  It's our little Sunday ritual.  He's a great helper and it's one of the few times we can have mother-son time (with just him and not his brother).
:: neaten up the house--pick up and swipe down the bathroom
:: set out clothes for Monday morning.

I'll be back later with my ideas and thoughts about starting the school year.  Happy Friday!

Monday, August 18, 2014

pasadena!

Colorado Blvd. with full moon. Pasadena trip. Pasadena trip. Pasadena trip. Pasadena trip. Pasadena trip. Pasadena trip. Pasadena trip. Huntington Gardens in Pasadena Huntington Gardens in Pasadena Pasadena trip. Pasadena trip.

My BFF Carrie and I were able to get away for a little end-of-summer trip a week ago.  You guys, we had SO much fun.  This is the favorite girls weekend we have taken so far.  Longtime readers of this blog know that in the past we have gone to Covina (!) for Ikea and hanging out.  Seems like a silly destination now but at the time we had fun and as I always say, our friendship is "conversation based" anyway.  But we finally have sated our fascination with Ikea and have moved on to better things.  Pasadena was lovely.  We stayed in Old Town Pasadena which means we did not have to rely on driving everywhere which is a HUGE bonus for me.  It made the experience much more of a true vacation.  I love being able to settle into the hotel and walk everywhere.  It turned out to be a spa/beauty/shopping/eating kind of trip.  Which I loved.  And of course there was lots of talking.

I kept a list of where we went and what we did for future reference.  I'd love to repeat this trip next summer when we turn 50.

Day One
:: picked up Carrie from LAX in the morning and drove to Pasadena (not a bad drive)
:: checked in at the hotel--we stayed at the Old Town location of Courtyard by Marriott.  Loved it!  I definitely would stay here again.
:: lunch at Mi Piace.  A great place to watch the world go by as you eat Italian food and sip wine.
:: after lunch we walked around the shops a little bit and then we both had our brows shaped at Zoey Van Jones (definitely make an appointment first--it's a really busy shop)!
:: pie at The Pie Hole (this is in a really cute space--5 businesses sharing an open "lofty" kind of space--a florist, a pressed juicery, the Pie Hole, a spice merchant, etc).
:: more walking around and shopping
:: mani-pedis at Dashing Diva (this is a fun spot but there were tons of other nail salons as well.  We were perfectly happy with our nails and they also give free Cosmos on Thursday and Friday evenings!)
:: light dinner at the Pita Jungle (we shared a salad because we were still crazy full from the Pie Hole)
:: bought some juice to go from Pressed Juicery.

Day Two
:: early morning wake up for our spa appointments
:: Croissants and coffee at Aux Delice
:: massages at Burke Williams spa (loved this place--I highly recommend this spa chain if you are in California and you like spa experiences).
:: late breakfast/brunch at Russell's (love this place so much--we ate here twice.  The bloody Mary's are fantastic, as are their breakfasts.  Great burgers too and yummy coleslaw with lots of colored crunchy cabbage).
:: More walking around and shopping.  Coffee at Intelligentsia.
:: Back to Burke Williams for anti-aging facials.
:: Dinner at Picnik (loved this place.  They have tons of beers and housemade sausages.  Yum!  Mine came with homemade watermelon pickle relish.  Pure delight.  Great atmosphere here and outdoor seating a a full moon.  Fun and lively.)

Day Three
:: pool time and sitting out on the patio and ordering oatmeal and having it brought out to us.
:: we ventured away from the hotel and went to Americana at Brand in Glendale for shopping and lunch.  We ate lunch at Amici Trattoria (huge portions--next time I'd split something or order a small plate) and then we walked around their lovely Nordstroms.  Carrie splurged on a new suitcase from the Tumi store and now I want one too.  I think she will have that suitcase for life.
:: we legit needed to pick up a couple things at Ikea, so we headed over to Burbank.  Big mistake.  It was crushingly crowded.  I had to buy a bedside lamp (they have the best there) and she needed to pick up a duvet cover her son had requested.  We got our stuff and dashed from there.
:: after re-grouping at the hotel we had a casual, fun, funny dinner at Russell's (our second meal there) and again the bloody Mary's were fantastic.  We laughed a lot at that dinner.
:: then more walking around on Colorado Blvd. and we stopped in at Lush which was really fun and had more pie and iced coffee at The Pie Hole.

Day Four
:: sad!!  Our last day.
:: but we stretched it out as much as possible.
:: more coffee and oatmeal at the hotel patio and pool time.
:: after check-out we went to the lovely and amazing Huntington Library.  Whoa!  I'd never been.  Tons of art and artifacts and gardens.  So so good.  It was super hot though so we mostly stuck to the indoor galleries and didn't really explore the gardens so much.  I'd love to go back in a few months when it is cooler.
:: lunch at the Huntington (they have a casual cafe and also tea rooms--we didn't have tea room reservations so we ate at the cafe).
:: drove to LAX and dropped off Carrie

It was such a fun trip with just the right mix of fun, laughter, conversation, relaxation, and beauty treatments!  And what can I say about having a best friend that I love so much?  I'm so lucky to have her.

Now, fast forward a week and I'm getting ready to start school and get back to reality.  I'm ready and excited but, you know, transitions can be hard.  Our first official day back is Wednesday. 

PS--I realize my last 3 posts have been "travel" themed posts!  I do intend to get back to "normal" blogging soon.  Just have to figure out when/how.  Thanks for reading along!


Sunday, July 27, 2014

much needed Solvang anniversary trip

Solvang anniversary trip Solvang anniversary trip Solvang anniversary trip Solvang anniversary trip Solvang anniversary trip Solvang anniversary trip Solvang anniversary trip Solvang anniversary trip Solvang anniversary trip Solvang anniversary trip Solvang anniversary trip Solvang anniversary trip

Ken and I were able to get away for two nights to the Solvang area (Solvang/Santa Ynez/Los Olivos) for a little anniversary getaway.  So fun and much needed.

Basically I copied all the suggestions from this blog post and everything was wonderful (thank you, Megan K. Graham)!

You can just read Megan's  post for more and better info, but here's my take:

:: we loved staying at the Hadsten House.  They have a lovely indoor pool (rare in California, but delightful to be out of the sun) and a large outdoor jacuzzi (the best of both worlds).  I was loving the whole pool scene and we relaxed a lot there.  It was just us for a lot of that time, which is ideal as far as I'm concerned.  The hotel rooms were large and modern and lovely.  And there is a restaurant on the property which was also very good!  They serve a lovely hot breakfast (included in the price of the room) and the dinner we had there was delish.  I had the Caesar salad with salmon.
:: the first day we had lunch at The Red Viking in Solvang.  We both love their smorgasbord--you can sample a lot of Danish foods that way.  Yummy!
:: Gah!  SY Kitchen and Sides Hardware and Shoes (both restaurants recommended by Meagan) were both amazing!!  Will definitely visit both again when we have the chance to return.  Super special!!
:: we saw a live show at the outdoor theater--Forever Plaid.  Such a lovely setting and the show was really sweet.  (Plus, you can buy fresh warm cookies and coffee at intermission).
:: I bought a tub of butter cookies at Mortenson's.  I'm trying all the Solvang bakeries trip by trip.

I absolutely loved getting to spend time alone with Ken.  It was so great to reconnect and just hang out together.  It's hard to be able to BOTH get away together because of course I have to ask my mom to watch our kids (she is SO kind and generous to do it for us).  It's thrilling to just be a couple for a few days and to remember what brought us together in the first place.

Summer is speeding by.  I have about 3 more weeks before it's back to work.  I hope yours is lovely!!