Sunday, December 31, 2017

2016 New Year's Resolutions: DID I KEEP THEM??

Here's what I said I was going to do.  DID I DO IT?

1. More play:   I did, in fact, play more with the kids, especially Harry and Jack who can play cards and games and are actually fun.  So, yay!

2.  Less phone: Nope, I looked at my phone all the damn time.

3.  Monthly massage: Got pregnant and stopped the massages because they aren't safe in the first tri and then had a miscarriage and just rested under the weight of ennui, not hot stones.  Eff massages, basically.

4. Monthly pedicure:  My favorite place cut the heck out of my foot and I walked (limped) out, leaving my friend behind to be super annoyed with me and spent a week waiting to die of sepsis.  Started doing my toes at home.

5.  No procrastinating at work: I definitely used my time better, but when there was something I didn't want to do, I could waste time like it was my job.

6.  More blog:  Yes!  This was my most prolific year yet!  Not sure if that's actually a good thing!

7.  A book a week:  Yes!  I almost tripled it!

8.  More steps:  Ditched the Fitbit because it made me fat, but lost weight through the magic of intermittent fasting! So, yay!

Not bad!  Quit massages, painted my nails and home, and kept staring at my phone all of the time I am awake everyday, but the other stuff? Totally doable.

What about you?  Did you stick to your 2016 goals?  And if not, why?

Saturday, December 30, 2017

What I Read: The Best of 2017

I read A LOT in 2017.  Good Reads says 139 books, and I think there were some I forgot to record.

I also read more nonfiction than usual-- remember when I was into all of those painful campaign memoirs?  I have a couple of nonfiction titles (4!  That's more than a couple!) staring at me from my bookshelf right now, in fact, so 2018 is going to be fact-y, too.

None of the nonfiction made my best-of list, though, and I put an embarrassing amount of thought into this one because not only did I read a ton of books, but I also read really good ones!

11. Idaho by Emily Ruskovich: I read this early in 2017, and it stayed with me-- haunted me, you could say, all year.  It was weird and sad and beautifully written.

10. Our Short History by Lauren Grodstein: How do you write a book about a young mother dying of ovarian cancer that's written from the mother to her little boy and NOT create a maudlin mess?  I don't know, but Grodstein pulls it off.

9.  This Is How it Always Is by Laurie Frankel:  This book about a family with lots of kids and transgender kindergartener (who grows up throughout the book) really resonated with me.  The parents had a work-life balance like ours; the early part of the book was set in Madison and skewered this place savagely and perfectly.  This is a vibrant, funny, smart book.

8. American War by Omar El Akkad:  See?  Sometimes I read books by dudes. For some reason, 2017 was a year that saw me reading dystopia by the ream.  WHY would I want to do that when the actual world is a dumpster fire?  Dunno, but this book is smashing, and, to give you a plot set-up, starts after the second Civil War which sounds super real.  Also the main character is fantastic even though I prefer women written by women.

7.  Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng:  Such sad things to say about motherhood!  This is a great book to lose yourself in for pure enjoyment  And while you will love the characters and be intrigued by the plot, you will pause every hundred or so pages because you are struck by a line or two and realize how perfectly written this book is.  I loved it.

6.  The Future Home of the Living God by Louise Erdrich:  YIKES you guys!  Another dystopian book, another sad day for me.  This is spellbinding, and the main character is great-- the collapse of the world through the eyes of a totally spoiled millennial who isn't even a little bit self-aware.

6. The Power by Naomi Alderman:  READ THIS speculative fiction about gender-- you will not be able to get it out of your head. TOTAL TIE, which is cheating, I know.  I mean, I should be able to knock this down to 10 books, and smart people can discriminate better than this, but I actually have 12 books on my top 11 because I am stupid, ok?  But seriously, The Power is good.

5.  Saints for All Occasions by J. Courtney Sullivan:  Like the Ng book, you can just lose yourself in this one, and every page is a delight, even the ones that make you cry a little.

4.  The Impossible Fortress by Jason Rekulak:  Another book by a dude.  And you know what?  I think the 2 books on this list were the only 2 books by dudes I read all year, and I promoted them straight to the top like they're nurses or something.  Shit.  But, you should read this wonderful, sweet, contained story.

3.  Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward:  Everything you have heard about this book?  TRUE and MORE.  Go read it.  Probably right now.

2.  Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman:  Read this one!  You will laugh and cry and sometimes do both at the same time.

1.  The Animators by Kayla Rae Whitaker:  Oh, I loved this book so much.  It's about a creative friendship and addiction and exceeding your own expectations.  So lovely and sad and full of energy.

Did you read any of these?  What did you think? Or, do you have any great reads that didn't make the list?

Friday, December 29, 2017

Grocery Store Blues

So, this didn't rise to the level of a resolution, but I want to spend more mindfully at the grocery store this year.  I have discovered the magic of ALDI, so we spend less money-- especially less than when we used to shop at Whole Foods exclusively-- but I still throw away soggy produce before it's eaten and pitch half-eaten bags of stale snacks from the pantry.  We still scrap dinner plans and get junky takeout because the meal we planned doesn't actually fit our schedules.  I want to cut out these inefficiencies.  Any tips for me?

Looking back over our year in food, there are some recipes we definitely loved that made dinner time a little easier.  Let me share them with you:

1.  Indian slow cooker dinners:  We use a simmer sauce from ALDI and their naan which is delish and then thrown chicken, potatoes and assorted other veggies in the crockpot with tons of Penzey's spices.  Always good, always a little different, always a great way to get rid of extra produce.

2.  This lasagna:  It's awesome.

3.  This one-pot pasta:  EVERYONE LOVED IT

4.  Make-your-own pizza.  The kids ALWAYS adore it, and they will use homemade dough, English muffins, bagels, French bread-- all of it.  Another good way to get rid of produce.

5. Tacos. Kids might love tacos more than dragons.

6.  Spaghetti, sauce, garlic bread, canned vegetable, canned fruit-- my favorite $11 meal.  We also do ACUTAL spaghetti with homemade sauce and meatballs-- no recipe, just wing it, but use lots of anise or fennel in your sauce. And, of course, garlic bread.

7.  Chicken and noodles, my childhood favorite.

8.  Rotisserie chicken soup.  I call this my quasi-homemade soup because it starts with chicken and boxed broth.

9. Enchiladas:  The first thing I learned to make by myself, and I have been making it since college.

10.  Make your own chicken salads.  The kids are meh about chicken and even more meh about salads, but together:  YUGE HIT!

What are your most-made dinners?  I am literally always looking for more ideas.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Buh-Bye, Christmas

We finally had the (bacon-wrapped, mushroom-topped) steaks, baked potatoes, roasted carrots, dinner rolls, salads, and lobster tails/crab legs we were too tired to make on Christmas.  I couldn't find my fancy Christmas table cloth (that we have used ONE TIME), so I went with a battered and wrinkled white one because I AM SO FANCY.
 The kids had a dance party/laser tag game yesterday morning, and I told Harrt to take pixtures.  Thsi is the best one:
 If you look closely at this picture, you can HEAR THE ANGELS singing,
 Holiday cards are my favorite.
 I look this pic right before I started rounding up all of the decorations because I was already nostalgic for them.  I am not a scrooge.  I just hate clutter.
 Speaking of clutter!  This is as picked up as Dorothy's room gets:
 It's our 7th Christmas in this house, and we have finally reached out saturation point.  We simply cannot absorb anymore crap, and it all stays on the surface.  Ben's gifts have literally been sitting on our dresser for 3 days (I am getting sooooooo twitchy)
 So happy to have her bed back!
 Harry is getting in on the letter board action
 Oh!  Look!  My top-liked Instagram pics of 2017:  (You can make yours here and then use the hashtag #2017bestnine)

Wednesday, December 27, 2017


I am the exact person who should not have a letter board because I think I am way funnier than I actually am.
 Dorothy got a ton of doll stuff, and she USES IT and I LOVE it!  Now if she could only also dress and undress them independently.  Baby steps.
 Dramatically bundled to walk the dog after whole minutes of complaining about walking the dog preceded by many more minutes of asking me to take him sledding.  WTF?
 They were throwing a tea party for some dolls.  Look at the guests in an unceremonious heap on the floor.  LOLz for days.
 Yes, this book is great, but the book light might be my favorite present.
 Santa brought her a doll bed, and she liked it so much that she used her Christmas money from Ben's parents to buy 2 more doll beds.  Ha!  Now this room is literally the dolls' bedroom.
 Harry's peripherals shelf is starting to make me twitchy.
I need to exercise today because I have been treating this break like an extended weekend.  I also need to vacuum the bedrooms and wipe down the bathrooms and wash all the bathroom linens.  And then there is the tree.  I think I would like it to go away today.  But!  The thing that feels like the biggest buzzkill is that I have to go get my hair cut and colored and it;s going to take FOREVER and I am going to have to drive at night (I am the biggest old lady ever, obvs).  Seriously I hate going to the hair place so much that I just basically don't, which is also not a great solution, I know.  Send me your best don't cancel vibes because my grays are running rampant, and my color starts mid-head.  Gah.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Merry Perfect Christmas

We stayed inside all day in our jammies.  We drank 2.5 bottles of champagne. We ate cinnamon rolls.  Instead of the fancy dinner we planned, we had fondue and gingerbread house.  All of the giant box of Fannie May candy in my stocking is gone.  IT WAS THE BEST DAY EVER.

The kids took 2 hours opening gifts.  Which, maybe, is a sign that they got too many gifts.  Next year, I swear, we are holding back a little bit.  But!  I will say, a lot of the stuff they got this year fell into the "things they need" category.  Everyone got clothes and sports gear, for example.

But then they also got things like life-size dragons.  So.

Dorothy picked out a shirt/tie/sock comb for Ben at Nordstrom Rack, and she did a fab job, BTW.

I hope you all had a similarly cozy day where all of your wishes came true and you ate yourself a little sick on gingerbread people and Frango mints.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Merry Christmas Eve

Everyone was sad to see Toofy head back to the North Pole, but we were all happy with the new jams he left behind.
Seriously, this is her signature pose.
No selfies, apparently.
We had a healthy snack and watched the movie Toofy left us, A Dog's Purpose, which is good but SO SO SO SO SO SAD.
Beatrix watched the whole thing.
Dorothy cried the whole time, as did I.
Then we got dressed and headed to the Chicago burbs to drop by Ben's sister's house
Before heading to Ben's grandma's.  It was so perfect and made me miss going to my own grandparents' house.

Jack discovered the magic of TV trays.
As did Cooper.  That Pepsi was not his THANK GOD.
The boys played knee hockey in the basement.
Ben face-timed his parents.
So thrilled with her new elf doll.
Ben stuck this headband in his head and then forgot and thought it was sunglasses and wore it all night.
Invisible ink visible with light-- Jack's fave
This STILL makes me laugh
Oh, Santa.  I ate all of your cookies and put the carrots in the garbage disposal.
A Halloween's worth of candy.
SANTA!  He left so many presents it was hard to get them all in one shot!
(And then someone peed their pants at 4:20 and discovered all of the presents and also the stockings in their room and WE WERE UP).