Monday, June 17, 2013

Summer At Last!

Every week I make a "To Do" list for the whole week, broken down by day.  This includes workouts, meals, things on the calendar, and then all of the random stuff that needs/or I want to be done.  Unfortunately "Update Blog" is always one of the only things to not be crossed off at the end of the week because there's always something else to do.  Not this week, my friends! 

So what HAVE we been up to for the past 2 months?  Well, aside from waiting for the temperature to stay consistently above 70 degrees, a lot of traveling.  So much so that we really need to buy a little IPad holder or something to put over the seat in the car so CJ has something to keep him happier on trips.  He's great for an hour or two, but after that every toy ends up on the floor with a "Uh Oh! Drop it!"  We made several day trips to Pennsylvania in May to visit family and unfortunately mourn the loss of my Grandmother.  Kevin and I made our yearly trip down to Charlottesville for Foxfield Weekend to catch up with my Pep Band friends.  The weekend after CJ and I drove up to Syracuse and after dropping him at the inlaws I continued to Rochester where I met up with Kev and watched him perform with his old college acapella group, Eight Beat Measure.  Finally, at the end of May, we spent the week in Nags Head with my parents.  I'm glad that we have had a bit of a reprieve this month, and only have a few things on the horizon over the next few months.  Sometimes it's just nice to have some weekends at home! 
Nags Head

Foxfield Weekend

In the car again

Eight Beat Measure Alumni

CJ has been talking up a storm now, and we can actually hold somewhat of a conversation with him.  It usually consists of:

CJ:  Do you hear the birds?
Me:  Yes I DO hear the birds.
CJ:  Chirp chirp!  Do you see the moon?
Me:  The moon comes out in the nighttime.  It's daytime.
CJ:  Sun in the daytime.  Moon in the nighttime. Have fun at the beach?  Have fun at the bridge? (he means pier) Have fun at the tractor?  Have fun at the playground?  Have fun pick strawberries? 
Me:  Yes, we did have fun [at all of that].  Stop hitting mommy. 
CJ:  That's rude.  That's bad.  Say sorry. 
Me:  Yes, you should say you're sorry. 
CJ:  Want to play with Thomas?  Okay.  Want ice cream please?  Okay.
Me:  Sure. 

It's so awesome that he is becoming observant, and remembering things that we do throughout the day.  He also is remembering names of friends, and calls all of the grandparents by name (well, sort of.  He calls them all grandma).  I love that CJ actually is having fun at the things we do instead of just being along for the ride.  We have started going to Great Country Farms again every week to pick up our CSA box and so far this year so he has loved picking strawberries and riding on the tractor.  Last year he would just glare at me from the stroller.  I have been finding lots of things to do in the mornings, but the one thing we have not utilized yet is the pool.  Hopefully soon!
Strawberry picking

Although typically CJ is very well behaved (we can still take him out to dinner and as long as he sits in a high chair, we're good) we still are starting to experience toddler behavior (aka hitting, screaming, spitting, throwing, some tantrums).  I know it's normal, but still annoying.  Today in I had to push the grocery cart with my arms stretched out to dodge CJ's smacks.  

Yesterday was Father's Day and as we did last year, our family of 3 drove to Annapolis for crabs and a nice walk along the waterfront.  We went to Cantler's Riverside Inn for lunch first as it is a few miles away from "downtown."  CJ ate his first crab cake!  Kevin and I shared snow crab legs, and then I had a crab cake sandwich and Kev had the crab melt.  The wait, even to just park, is definitely worth it!  We then had a nice afternoon at the waterfront where we watched people on a boat trick kayakers with a remote control alligator, ate some yummy ice cream, and looked longingly at the people relaxing at a waterfront bar (CJ is good, but not sit in a high chair for 3 hours while mommy and daddy have a few drinks and people watch good :) ).  Seriously though, a great day to celebrate a great daddy. 

Friday, April 5, 2013

Thoughts on My New Part Time Gig

Family picture on Easter
Back when I was first making new friends in the Mom's Club, I was engaged in some small talk and learned that one girl worked from home part-time for Pearson Education, a company that publishes textbooks and other educational materials.  Her job is to write math assessment items-which is actually what I have done as a summer job for Fairfax County Public Schools for several years.  Although I had an infant at the time, I filed this information in my head, but didn't pursue anything because well, I had an infant.  A couple months ago I received a call from this same friend who let me know that Pearson was looking for more writers and wanted to know if I was interested in working on a project.  I will admit that about a year ago at Kevin's encouragement I did reach out to my old summer coworkers (some of them have leadership positions now) and asked if they had anything available for me to do at home as I was still technically an employee of Fairfax County.  Didn't really get much of an answer, wasn't devastated.  But now, with a serious offer, I had to think about it.  My friend was asking me how much I knew about the Core Curriculum Standards, national standards that more and more states are moving towards adopting for their state tests.  I am only familiar with the Virginia Standards of Learning, although in the 8 years I taught they seemed to change in some way every couple of years or so- who knows what they will look like whenever I actually go back to teaching?  Will all schools be using the CCS?  Not only will I have to possibly reteach myself trig and certain other skills (again) but will I have to learn all new standards?  Having this job would keep me at least a little bit in the loop, and will help me keep my math skills fresh.  It will also help fill in that possible 10 year gap that will be in my resume once I venture back into the working world.

So, I said yes.  The project goes until the end of May, and broken up into 4 parts where I am writing questions for 4 different grade levels.  The first due date was only a week after I got my assignment, and I was only trained for about an hour.  Needless to say, after that first week of staying up late and trying to do what I could during CJ's naps- I was definitely questioning my decision.  I could not do what I normally do being a stay-at-home mom with getting CJ out of the house and not just plopping him in front of the TV AND devote the time needed to do a good job with this project AND get 7-8 hours of sleep with the pace of this job.  Thankfully, since the next due date isn't until April 22 I do not feel the stress quite as much.  Also, I can say "no" to projects, so if it is a particularly busy time, I can just tell Pearson to keep me in mind for the next one.  As long as I get plenty of time to work, I think this job will be just something little to keep my "adult mind" fresh, and more prepared to go back to work when the time comes.  Not sure how I will do when there are more kids and less naps in the picture, but I'll keep you posted! 

Due to a weird what I think was an inner-ear infection last week, I have not cooked anything too notable that I would want to share with you.  Last week was a lot of take-out (dizzy spells and knives-not good), and this week I am just now finally getting motivated to cook again, but really nothing too exciting.  Looking forward to sharing something with you soon though.  Tomorrow night Syracuse will be playing in the Final Four, so I may be cooking something special for the occasion.  Go Orange! 

CJ keeping himself busy in our room while I stayed in bed

Friday, March 22, 2013

Our New Kitchen!

We have been back to normal for a few weeks now, but it took awhile for our lights to come in and be installed, so I am finally going to post pictures of our new kitchen!  After talking about it for 2 years, we took the plunge and replaced our cabinets, put in granite countertops, a backsplash, and replaced all of our appliances (except the dishwasher).  We even had a gas line run so we could have a gas cooktop!  The project only took 2 weeks and a couple of days- pretty quick compared to the 4-6 weeks other companies were telling us, but I feel like quality was not compromised.  And, holy crap I would have punched someone if I had to stay holed up in that basement for much longer.  Especially with the weather not being conducive to spending any time outside.  Here are the before pictures:

 Clutter on the counters!! UGH!
 Complete waste of space.  We have an office, so we didn't need the extra desk so we just put crap on it.  Unfortunately, we still need a place to put crap (mail, etc) so we gave ourselves extra work by having to reorganize the office when we changed this area. 
 HATED this refrigerator.  No freezer space whatsoever.
Oven/stove was okay, but microwave was not user-friendly, and too close to the stove.  

 They had the kitchen demoed in about 2 hours! 
 Apparently our kitchen (originally?) had wallpaper and linoleum. 
Fun in our cave-
 Make-shift ball pit
 A little bit more TV than usual
This picture was taken at the end of the 2 weeks.  I think CJ was about as done as I was. 

But it was all worth it!  

Our pantry is very tiny so the cabinets on the left are more pantry space.  The refrigerator is counter-depth with the water dispenser inside.  Even though there is less cubic feet than our other fridge it just seems much more spacious.  I knew that the double oven would come in handy here and there, but I have already utilized both ovens several times.  I have yet to try the convection baking feature.  
So far, love the gas cooktop!  And I think the hood looks pretty slick as well.  To the left and right of the cooktop are pullout spice racks.  I love all of new space, so I don't have to have as much sitting out on the countertops.  I have organized the kitchen now so everything is in a place that makes sense.  And that in itself makes me happy.  ;)

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Happy Mardi Gras!

I am writing this post from our basement, which for the past week I have called my "cave."  When you are spending the majority of the day down here, it certainly does feel like a cave.   Work on our kitchen is going pretty smoothly so far, and it's supposed to be done at the end of next week!  Let's hope we don't hit any snags!

2 weeks ago Kevin and I took a trip to New Orleans for Mardi Gras.  I had been to New Orleans during college, so I knew that it was crazy even when Mardi Gras wasn't going on.  I was not too excited about going during Mardi Gras, but we decided to attend for a couple of reasons:

1.  Kevin's 125 Places to Drink a Beer Before you Die List states "French Quarter During Mardi Gras" as #26.  God forbid we don't check something off of a list- ;)

2.  Check it off the old bucket list, before we become too old to walk down Bourbon Street (more on that later)

So my awesome parents came up to watch CJ and we flew down to New Orleans on Saturday.  We checked into our really nice hotel and ate our first meal at the Acme Oyster House.  The Travel Channel runs a "Chowdown Countdown" all of the time, and this is one of the two places in New Orleans on the list.  We both had oyster poboys and I also had gumbo.  The rest of the day was spent exploring the French Quarter and having some drinks.  That night we ate at Mother's Restaurant, but due to well, maybe one too many hand grenade drinks, I didn't eat much.  Kevin said it was good though. 

Sunday we had brunch reservations at Brennan's but once again those hand grenades from the night before kind of ruined the meal... very sad.  It will be the first on the list the next time we go to New Orleans.  I accompanied Kevin to #101 on his beer list- Cooter Brown's.  After watching a Syracuse basketball game at this sports bar, we decided to not try to meander around the Mardi Gras parades in a taxi and walk the 5 miles down St. Charles Ave back to the French Quarter.  The fresh air did us both good, and we got to experience how the locals celebrate Mardi Gras.  Since many of the parades travel down St. Charles Ave people just set up tents and tailgate the whole day.  They also have these ladder contraptions where kids can sit on top to be able to see and catch beads and other trinkets thrown off the floats.  By the last parade of the day, which we were able to see, you can imagine the party!  It seemed like the whole city came out!  It also is kind of crazy how nuts people (myself included) go just to catch beads and trinkets (don't worry, the parades are very family-friendly).
A cool alligator float

All of the people in the streets (to the left is the parade)
On Monday, we took a graveyard tour through the pouring rain.  I took one of these with my friends when we were down in college, and again found it very entertaining and interesting.  Afterwards, Kevin and I walked to another restaurant on the Chowdown List- Willie Mae's Scotch House.  Best.Fried.Chicken.Ever.   And might I add that I had it with mac and cheese?  Yum.  Totally worth the line to get in.  The rest of the afternoon?  French Market exploring and then Cafe Du Monde for Beignets.  Dinner was at Emeril's.  Luckily, there was a parade going right in front of the restaurant so were able to catch the end of that- as well as get up close as we were not on a main street.  Lots of beads and even a few trinkets!
St. Louis #1 Cemetary
My favorite meal
Drum dish at Emeril's

Tuesday was Mardi Gras so there were some pretty long parades that seemed to go on all day.  One of the downsides of going to New Orleans at Mardi Gras was that you had to really plan your day around these parades.  We actually were kind of stuck trying to find a place to go to breakfast because there were several streets blocked around our hotel and we had to wait awhile to cross the street.  Coincidentally, the day before the priest that married us and baptized CJ, Father Cool, texted Kevin to ask him if we would be free for lunch on Tuesday as he was coming into town for a wedding.  It was so nice to catch up with him (unfortunately at a forgettable restaurant that I don't even remember the name of, the place we wanted to go was closed due to Mardi Gras).  After that, we made sure we had a beer in the French Quarter on Mardi Gras, and then headed back to our hotel so we could grab our luggage and get to the airport!

Bourbon Street on Mardi Gras
Thoughts on the trip- still love New Orleans.  Would go back tomorrow.  I do not need to go back for Mardi Gras.  I AM happy we did go though and experience it.  It kind of reminded us of going to Spain during Holy Week.  Happy to experience all of the events and see what goes on, but would like to go at not such a crazy time.  Remember when I said that we wanted to go to Mardi Gras before we became too old?  Well, there didn't seem to be many people in their 30's frequenting Bourbon St.  There were the college kids just there to see or show boobs of course, AND there were also lots of people over the age of 50.  That surprised me.  The other thing that surprised me was all the people that brought their kids to Bourbon Street at night.  It seems like much of Mardi Gras is very family friendly, but Bourbon St. not so much.  I saw a couple pushing their double stroller while both holding hand grenade drinks.  With beads hurling above at 60 mph.  At 10 PM.  It just seemed wrong to me.  Anyways.  Overall, a great time, and it was nice to get away with just Kevin for a few days.

My recipe(s) for this week- it's kind of late, but I am providing the links to all of the recipes that I made for our Valentine's Day Dinner.  Every year I try to cook something a little fancy or out of my comfort zone for Valentine's Day- it seems like for the past few years it's been something that Gordon Ramsey is always yelling at someone about on Hell's Kitchen.  Last year I made Beef Wellington (probably won't make it again).  This year, I made scallops, risotto, asparagus, and a chocolate tart.

Sea Scallops with Mushrooms and Sherry - These came out even better than I hoped.  I need to make scallops more often! 
Risotto with Asparagus and Morel Ragout- I actually did not make the ragout part, just mixed in the peas and morels at the end.  I roasted the asparagus separately. 
Chocolate Truffle Tart- Actually pretty easy to make, and VERY yummy.

Hopefully next week I will be showing pictures of our new kitchen! 

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Minimalist Mama?

Hardly so.  But, I did read an article written by a British mother of a 2-year-old and it got me thinking.  This mom, Hattie Garlick, lost her job around Christmastime and her son's 2nd birthday.  She did a little research and decided to give "Kiddie Consumerism" the middle finger by conducting an experiment on trying not spending any money on her toddler for a whole year.  To clarify- this child will still be fed, clothed, entertained, and otherwise well-cared for, but with parameters.  Such as, the food the child eats will be the food the parents also eat.  No special overpriced Gerber toddler meals.  All clothes, toys, and cloth diapers will be obtained for free either on Freecycle or from hand-me-downs.  She is blogging about her "experiment" at  I hope she is successful! 

Is she nuts?  I don't necessarily think so.  Could I do what she is doing?  Maybe.  But probably not.  I am the type of person who feels satisfied when clothes (that I've had for awhile) get holes in them, when old shoes finally fall apart, the fact that I've had my car for almost 10 years- I like things to be well-used.  Does that stop me from buying new things here and there when I don't necessarily need them?  Of course not.  Just look at all of my shoes.  Or purses.  Or kitchen gadgets (on that note, our whole entire kitchen in a month).  But I am pretty darn satisfied when they are so "loved" that I have to throw them away.  What has irked me for the past 19 months is how aside from the occasional onesie with a poop stain that I could not get out, CJ's clothes are NOT well-used.  He wears them for a few months at the most (it's slowing down now) but then need to be packed away.  A few nice outfits are never worn because who wants to wear a nice Gymboree sweater around the house?  Does my child, whose days entail playdates, Wegmans, and Target really need to be trendy?  Some of the millions of toys he has have never even caused him to give a smile.  Why are we spending so much money on our small children when (sorry for the cliche) they are happier with shoeboxes?  I've not been shy about accepting hand-me-down toys and clothes or shopping at consignment sales.  But, I occasionally have gone overboard- especially this past Christmas.  I fell victim to all of the cute toys available and now CJ has enough to entertain him for the next year or two.  The Easter Bunny may bring him a book or a puzzle (not that he knows any better anyway).  Thank God his birthday is not until June.  At least then we can get him outdoor toys.  Like a ball.  Or a glorified stick or something.
All this kid needs is a couch and some pillows.  That's entertaining enough! 

Anyways, I'm all for spending money on decent clothes and toys when I know they will be used for awhile or grow with the child.  Even his train table is sturdy, and can be converted to just an activity table once he is done with trains.  Should last 10+ years, right?  Food? I did try and make my own baby food last year.  I succumbed to the baby food grocery aisle.  It was only for a few months.  Now he pretty much eats what we eat.  Diapers?  Not against cloth diapers (although used?) but for whatever reason have no desire to venture into that world.  I'll keep Pampers in business.  Activities?  Yes, I have signed CJ up for some baby classes over the past year even though I could technically keep him entertained for free.  Oh well, change in the schedule is good.  What do you think?  Do you think you would be able to give up spending money on any of these things?

Switching gears (sort of) is this week's recipe.  We didn't have any plans for the Superbowl, so I knew I wouldn't be tempted to stuff my face with chips and Helluva Good Dip if I wasn't around it.  However, I still wanted to have something snacky and decided on a recipe I have seen on a few foodie blogs- Buffalo Cauliflower Bites.  Cauliflower florets battered, baked, and then topped with wing sauce.  Surprisingly good, and a lot healthier than actual chicken wings.  They probably won't actually satisfy a wing craving (talk to Kevin about that), but I was happy with them, especially with some light ranch dressing.

Spicy Buffalo Cauliflower Bites (adapted from


  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 22 oz (6 1/2 cups) cauliflower florets (about 1 head)
  • 3/4 cup Anchor Original Wing Sauce (or you could just use Frank's Hot Sauce)
  • 1 tbsp melted unsalted butter

Preheat the oven to 450°F. Lightly spray a large non-stick baking sheet with oil. Combine the water, flour, and garlic powder in a bowl and stir until well combined.  Coat the cauliflower pieces with the flour mixture and place on the baking sheet; bake for 20 minutes.  While the cauliflower is baking, combine the hot sauce and butter in a small bowl.  Pour the hot sauce mixture over the baked cauliflower and continue baking for an additional 5 minutes.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

The Dog Days of Winter

This has been the longest month EVAR.  With the flu circulating through the town and the bitter cold of the past week, CJ and I have not left the house as much as we would usually do.  It's not like I want to raise a wimpy kid towards the cold (especially with having a husband from Upstate New York), it's that I AM the wimp.  Our family room is probably the coldest room in the house, but CJ's toys are in there and he seems to have no issue with the temperature.  He'll even sit on the cold stone in front of the drafty fireplace and be perfectly fine.  I, however, have jacked up the temperature in the house and still just want to huddle under a quilt.  I have even started working out during CJ's naps here and there instead of first thing in the morning just so I have something warm to do.  Or, I cook.  I actually have two recipes that I'm including this week. 
That sliding glass door is sooo drafty

The first one is an old favorite- Pork and Peanut Noodle Salad from Cooking Light.  You roast a pork tenderloin (I always use whatever jelly or preserves I have on hand as a glaze) and mix it with soba noodles, some veggies, and a yummy peanut sauce.  And it's light!  The recipe says to serve it chilled- we always have it warm. 

The next one was a new recipe I tried off of the smittenkitchen blog- Carrot Soup with Tahini and Crisped Chickpeas.  A little involved, and I was a bit worried about the final product because, well, it was carrot soup (and no cream was added!) However, when you swirled the tahini (sesame paste) into the soup it actually was quite excellent.  I also could just eat the crispy chickpeas plain.  I think now I would like to add to my cookbook hoarding problem with the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook

Back to this never-ending month.  Like I said, we have not been getting out quite as much as usual.  I will say that I am blessed to have a son who for the most part can entertain himself quite well.  Even right now as I am writing this he just playing with his train.  He also really loves puzzles and throwing our cat's toy ball around.  And jibber jabbering to himself (so I am assuming he is pretending?)  Most days, he does get some TV time as well.  The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that the TV (and other forms of a "screen" such as Ipads) should be avoided until a child is 2.  Well, apparently the AAP never had to cook dinner.  Or spend 12 hours all day cooped up in a house and have to find MULTIPLE ways of entertaining a child (that don't always create a mess.)  Now, I am not catching up on DVR'd episodes of American Horror Story with CJ in the room.  We stick to PBS, Disney Jr., and Nick Jr.  (and maybe if I'm folding laundry or something, an occasional Top Chef.  Sorry.)  I think the shows (at least the ones we watch) on these channels are actually pretty good, and educational.  I was cooking dinner one night and CJ was watching Super Why.  If you aren't current on children's shows, this one promotes reading.  I actually heard CJ repeating back letters as the cartoon characters were spelling out words!  Now, I'm probably making a bigger deal out of it by buying a letter puzzle and incessantly singing the alphabet song- but my point is, no more guilt about letting CJ watch a little bit of educational TV each day!  Now, if I could be a better parent and listen to more Choo Choo Soul and less Justin Timberlake in the car...

Kevin is out of town this weekend so that always means 3 things- earlier dinner, earlier bedtime, and catching up on my girly TV (love Downton Abbey!).  So, I must turn on Super Why for the Little Man and cook dinner.  And put on a pair of slippers. 

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Hibernation, Appliances, and of Course Food

I am happy to inform you that so far this flu season, none of us have been affected... yet.  Well, no flu anyway.  We have had our share of colds, but nothing too debilitating.  It seemed like one out of every few posts on Facebook this past week have been about someone in a family (or whole families!) being bedridden for a few days.  So, needless to say, at the beginning of the week, I kept CJ home from the library.  I have seen him put a bunch of those toys they play with after singing in his mouth so who knows what germs lurk in that bin!  We have had a few playdates, but for the most part we have been holed up in the house.  Lesson learned- must put newspapers or plastic on floor when playing with Play-Doh.  That stuff is MESSY.  Who knew? (Well, apparently me who spent a good half hour Monday night scraping dried up Play-Doh out of the basement carpet with a butter knife). 

Our huge project this winter is getting the whole kitchen redone.  We were very happy with our kitchen when we first bought the house, but now we realize it is time for an upgrade.  So, we are getting all new cabinets, granite countertops, a backsplash, and appliances.  We are also changing the layout slightly so we can have more storage.  I am very excited about the whole thing, but can't wait until it is done.  The latest step in the process has had me picking out new appliances which is quite the headache.  Apparently nowadays everything breaks.  Quickly.  So, no brand has stellar reviews across the board.  I don't care if we get different brands for different appliances (we are keeping our Bosch dishwasher per recommendation) except that we need our refrigerator and wall oven to match because they will be right next to each other.  To find a brand that does both well- well let's just say I've been quite frustrated.  But, I think FINALLY we may have some winners- let's just hope that the oven won't explode when using the self-cleaning function (HA!  Cleaning the oven.)  Today we pick granite.

This week's favorite meal was inspired by trying to use up ingredients in our refrigerator before the renovation starts.  I decided to make a pizza using some leftover sausage, veggies, and a jar of pizza sauce I had on hand.  I like to make my own crust, and over the past year I have used this recipe.
Even though it comes out really crispy when using a pizza stone, it is not foolproof and there have been times when I'm about to call it quits when trying to press it into a circle.    So, I decided to try something new from a cookbook I received for Christmas. 

Jim Lahey's Perfect Pizza Crust from "Dinner: A Love Story"
3 3/4 cups flour (I substituted 2 cups of whole wheat flour for 2 cups A.P. flour)
2 1/2 teaspoons instant or other active dry yeast
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon sugar
1 1/3 cup room-temperature water

In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, yeast, salt, and sugar. Add the water and, using a wooden spoon or your hand, mix until blended, at least 30 seconds. The dough will be stiff, not wet and sticky. Cover the bowl and let sit at room temperature until the dough has more than doubled in volume, about 2 hours. Divide the dough in two and shape each into flattened balls. (Dough can be frozen at this point.)
When you are ready to make a pizza, preheat oven to 500°F roll out one ball of dough in a rectangular shape and place on an oiled cookie sheet.

Yeah, forgot to take a picture while still on cookie sheet
I topped the pizza with fresh mozzarella, pizza sauce from a jar (gasp), cooked turkey sausage, broccoli florets, and mushrooms.  Yes, you do have to knead it a bit and wait to let the dough rise, but it was so much easier to press it out into a cookie sheet!  And, you get two balls of dough so now I have one in the freezer!  The middle of the pizza may not have been as crispy as I would have liked, but overall me, Kevin, and CJ gobbled it right up.  Win!  By the way, check out the blog Dinner: A Love Story.  I like it so much I had to get the book. 

We still try to go out to eat once a week (thank God CJ is typically good at restaurants) and we're always all about a new restaurant opening in our area, especially if it's non-chain.  Last night we tried The V Brew House in Ashburn.  It used to be the Shenandoah Restaurant (loved their Krispy Kreme Doughnut bread pudding!) which was short-lived unfortunately.  I had a grilled chicken sandwich with cheese, avocado, and bacon with waffle fries, Kevin had a New York strip steak with a loaded baked potato, and CJ had the kids' fish plate with mashed potatoes.  Me and Kevin's meals were okay, not bad, but nothing to get excited about.  The waffle fries were really good, and you didn't get too large of a helping.  CJ liked his meal, especially the free scoop of ice cream at the end!  The beer list is pretty good, I'm assuming at some point they will have their own beer.  The ambiance is nice, a little dark, but not too intimate that I felt bad bringing a child.  The bar area seemed hopping.  I would probably go back for drinks, but if I'm in Ashburn for dinner the much better choice is Ford's Fish Shack. 

We are off on this cold (but at least sunny) day to pick some granite!  Let's hope we find something we will be happy with! 

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Happy New Year!

Well, hello friends.  Again it's long time, no see.  I am finding that more and more things that I have enjoyed doing in my "free" time are getting pushed down the priority list to make room for toddler activities- one of those being continuing with the blog.  But more on that later. 

Yes, October-December was super busy with the holidays and all of the preparations, as well as keeping up with our day-to-day activities.  We traveled to Syracuse for Thanksgiving, I ran a 10-miler in VA Beach with my friend Kat from college, we saw many college friends and old co-workers at holiday parties, my parents and sister came up for Christmas for a week, and then Kevin's parents, brother, and his girlfriend came down for several days.  Not to mention hosting some extended family.  And all of the preparations for guests, Christmas shopping, cookie baking, etc.  Phew!  All of this is why I love the Holiday Season though, and New Year's Day is always so anti-climatic when either people are leaving our house or we are coming home.
Unexpected White Christmas!
Everybody's leaving!

CJ's big present this year was a train table.  We were trying to save that for last when opening presents Christmas morning, but he escaped the living room and found it.  Well, needless to say, we opened the rest of his presents for him.  I actually think we all went a little overboard, and am going to try my best to not repeat next year (but the toys are so darn cute!)

CJ also liked the puzzles that he received

Since October, CJ has developed immensely.  He FINALLY started to walk (by himself) right before Thanksgiving.  One night he just let go of our hands and started walking around the house like he was a pro.  And that was it.   Now he rarely holds our hands when we actually want him too!  He also has had a language explosion.  I left CJ's 15 month appointment thinking we may need early intervention if he didn't have 10 words by 18 months- but now he has far surpassed that goal.  In addition to actually knowing many words (and mostly using them correctly) he is just very vocal in general.  You can barely understand a thing CJ says, but he'll just talk and talk and talk.  Sound familiar?  (He has a very talkative Daddy). 
Putting on his "shooos" while he is holding his "cack" that goes "eeoww"

I have not made many resolutions this New Year, but do have some goals in mind (difference?  goals seem more attainable than I WILL lose 20 lbs or whatever your resolution happens to be).  I only have a few.  As always, I am trying to keep up with working out and losing weight.  This year may be the year for pregnancy #2 so I have a few (well, maybe 10) more pounds to lose before I gain it back again.  HA!!  I have started Insanity again so if you hear some yelling coming from the basement of my house at 7AM that would be me.  It's probably the hardest and best workout you can do at home though, and it's what really helped me begin to take off some of that baby-weight last year. 

As I mentioned above, I have let some of my hobbies get pushed down on the priority list in these past months.  CJ and I keep quite busy during the week with two formal playgroups, library storytimes and playgroups, and seeing other friends.  Now we are taking Parent-Toddler swim classes as well once a week.  The only time I really have to myself is naptime in the afternoon (CJ needs to take naps until kindergarten!) and then some evenings.  Most of the naptimes were taken up by holiday stuff, so now I can hopefully devote more time to blogging, organizing pictures and scrapbooking, and of course cooking.  I ended up starting another 365 Project because I found that having one really keeps me motivated to take pictures and experiment.  This time I am uploading them to a website- if you want to follow along check out this link
At the library

Finally, each time I post to this blog I am going to post my favorite recipe of the week that I made.  (Yes, one of my goals is to blog at least once a week).  This week, I made recipe that I got out of "Eating Well" Magazine last June to use some of the abundance of cherries that we received from our CSA.  We ended up having to freeze many of those cherries and now I'm finally getting around to using them.  Although when thawed they aren't as pretty as fresh, they still taste fine.  The base is quinoa (lots of protein for a grain!), wild rice, cherries (I used sweet), cheese (I used smoked gouda), pecans, olive oil and vinegar (I used balsalmic).  It's a great light lunch dish! Here is the recipe.  The picture on the Eating Well site is so much better than mine, I really need to start using white plates when taking pictures of my food! 
Have a good week!