Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Randomizer

1. Where did September go?! It feels like just yesterday I was w-a-i-t-i-n-g for August to end and fall to begin, and now we're almost halfway through the season! I love it though; mornings are crisp, days are warm enough to still spend hours outdoors with the kids, orange is everywhere, and basically, life is perfect. :)

 2. My crockpot has been in almost constant use lately; in fact, one day I contemplated asking my mom if I could borrow hers so I could run two of them at once! Last week I made the most amazing bean soup: I started with a bag of sixteen bean soup mix, the kind with just beans and no seasonings or anything, soaked it overnight, and then threw it in the crockpot the next morning with water, about eight slices of Whole30 compliant bacon (meaning no added sugar, nitrates, etc) and cooked it on low all day. I added salt, pepper, and some hot sauce to taste and it was amazing - I ate it every day for the next couple of days until it was gone. I'm going to make another batch soon so I can freeze some for easy dinners after teaching.
I did manage to freeze several meals worth of the chili I cooked in the crockpot last weekend;  I used the same recipe I always do, but it ended up being very dense and thick and not as "wet" as I like it. I'm not sure what I did differently... I've had several bowls full this week and look forward to eating it Cincinnati-style.
I also made a big batch of apple butter - so big, in fact, what half of it went to the triplets for their morning toast. :) It was pretty amazing stuff, and, again, is one of my favorite things to make in the crockpot - I just peel and slice the apples, and chuck them in with a good sprinkle each of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. I cook mine for 24 hours on low, and by the time I'm done, it's dark and thick and sweet and almost spicy, and the sugars in the apples have broken down and carmelized and oh my gosh I want some just talking about it.
The last thing I made in my crockpot was a batch of clotted cream. I had two days this week with no triplets and no evening teaching, so I decided to knock off a few of the "creative" projects I've been wanting to try, and this was one of them. I used the method from this blog post but instead of putting it in the oven all day (I shudder to think of using so much propane!) I instead poured the cream into a shallow dish, placed the dish in my crockpot on low, and added water around the dish. It worked perfectly and I was sold on clotted cream at first taste. :) I whipped up a batch of the cream scones mentioned in the post, and they were also to die for - totally different than an American scone which I've never liked. I ate them with clotted cream and the apple butter and can't wait to eat the rest for breakfasts this week!

3. I'm sort of frightening myself with how absent-minded I am these days. I jokingly say it's because my brain has limited RAM and has to dump all the unimportant stuff in order to keep holding on to the important stuff, but really... it's getting ridiculous. I think part of it is self-fulfilling, in that when I forget or misplace something, I panic, wondering what the next thing I forget is going to be, and then in my panic I forget something else. Not cool. Today Maggie, Ruth, and I went to Red Robin for dinner, and when the waitress returned the check for me to sign, I completely forgot to grab my debit card out of the holder. I didn't realize it until I was in the checkout line at Wal-Mart. And I refilled my propane tank today and realized that I haven't given it a thought in weeks; it's only because it's warm out and I haven't been cooking on my stovetop that I didn't run out and have no replacement. This cannot continue into colder weather. I need more brainpower.

4. In two weeks I get to take my first ever business trip! I'm so excited. :) I'm heading up to New Jersey for more training for my new position as Facilities Manager at swim, which entails a (albeit short) road trip, a hotel stay (yay for hot tubs!) and tons of awesome training, which honestly, I cannot wait to get into. I got my official notice today of my acceptance into the American Swimming Coaches Association! :) I'm trying to convince my dad to go with me to NJ as I hate to travel alone and all my usual companions are booked that weekend.

5. The ninth season of Bones premiered last week, and I spent the rainy days since then curled up on my couch, watching. Since I don't have TV or high speed Internet, I only watch a few shows and generally buy them when they come out on DVD in the fall. I've tried following shows week by week using Panera Bread's wifi, the DVR at work, etc, but inevitably in the middle of the year something happens and I miss an episode or whatnot and quit. In the past, the three shows I've faithfully followed have been NCIS, Bones, and Castle, but this year Castle and Big Bang Theory came out at the same time... and I realized I don't really care about Castle anymore. :( So BBT came home with me instead.

6. The lone exception to my "wait til it comes out on DVD" rule? Gracepoint. I was riveted by the original UK show, Broadchurch, and, uh, hello, David Tennant?!? I have already begged pleaded with asked my mom if I can "borrow" her TV for an hour on Thursday nights so I can stay up to date. (But please, don't let it be Emmet Carver!)

Monday, September 29, 2014

# 17: Go To The Farm


Addie-cadabra, checking out the bunnies. She was absolutely delighted at all the animals!

Miles-beguiles, typical boy, spent the morning running from one obstacle to the next.

My Lucy-loo, fascinated by the loose corn in the corn shed. :)
The girls enjoyed checking out the swing with Liz. They love to swing with me at home!

I have no idea what prompted this funny face, but I had my camera out at the right moment. ;)

She informed me she was a "sky dancer" (apparently this is from My Little Pony?) and raced around the top of the straw bin, leaping across the cracks in the bales.
She's told me several times lately that horses are her new favorite thing.
After we'd run off everyone's energy exploring and had a snack, I tried to grab a few quick, more formal pictures before the babies got too tired... with mixed results, lol. I prefer candid shots with babies, but these are pretty cute, even if nobody is smiling. ;)


Lucy

Miles

Addie
 Then it was Abby's turn!

 













This kid makes my heart smile. See? <3 :="" br="">
My little pumpkin. :)

It makes picture taking so much easier now that she understand how to smile!
 I even made Ruth and Liz get fall shots!

Ruthie was totally dressed for the occasion - I love her boots!

Liz always looks cute. :) Also, more boot envy.
 I even got one myself. :)

I'm covered in kid-chasing grime, and my scarf has fallen limp and looks like it's going to strangle me, but there ya go! :)

Friday, September 19, 2014

Five For Friday

- It's fair weekend, and I spent yesterday evening and this morning enjoying one of my favorite events. :) Last night it was all about the cotton candy (which was totally amazing after thirty days with no sugar), miniature horse pulls (hysterical!), and bunny rabbits. This morning we met up with Abby and Natalie and saw the rest of the livestock and rode rides. I still haven't made it to the photography exhibit or the kids section, so I'll be returning at least one more time this weekend. :) (Some other posts about the fair, from 2009 and 2010.)

- My Whole30 ended on Wednesday, and although I had the best of intentions concerning reintroduction and not going nuts and all that, I basically threw it all to the wind and indulged in some of the things I've been missing the most. Surprisingly (or not surprisingly? I'm not really sure anymore) I've ended up staying mostly Whole30 compliant since then. I have enjoyed very small amounts of cheese, reintroduced legumes and soy, and had some condiments, etc with added sugar (though I've become a habitual label reader and have swapped out several of my favorite foods for versions with little or no added sugar). I'm excited about my new tastes and healthy eating habits! :) Hoping to do a full Whole30 wrap-up post soon, but for now, that's my two cents.

- Speaking of Whole30... One of the things I was really craving was a good creamy salad dressing, and I bought some Caesar dressing on my first "free" shopping trip, but they all had added sugar and dairy and preservatives and after having some on my salad I decided it was delicious but too guilty to be enjoyed. So today I made my very own homemade Caesar using this recipe from SimplyScratch (love that site), except I added extra garlic and black pepper and left out the parm (because, again, trying to limit dairy) and it was fantastic. No additives, no sugar, no dairy. I am happy.

- I can't believe it's more than halfway through September. In fact, there's only one week of swim left in this session before the break. And it's almost time to put together a new sensory bin for the triplets and start a new monthly theme. We've been doing tons of crafts lately and the kitchen has started to look like a children's art museum LOL!

- I had today off, and since it's been FOREVER since I've had a Friday off, I kept thinking it was Saturday, and tomorrow I'd need to dive back in to the business of church and rehearsal and getting ready for the week ahead, etc, etc, etc. But it isn't. It's Friday, and I have tomorrow to do all the necessary stuff. So today, I took a nap, watched TBBT, cooked bean soup, and generally relaxed. So needed, and so amazing.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Wrapping Up

- It was a really, really crazy and stressful week. Last Wednesday was the first "official" day of my new promotion to manager of the swim program, and this past week has been crazy as I frantically shored up various issues. I will totally admit it, there was a moment where I stared blankly at my roster and thought, "There might not actually be a solution to these problems..." and it was a really, really discouraging thought. I care so much about the program and I want everyone to be happy and succeed! But by the middle of the week there was a glimmer of hope, and as of right now, I have 75% of the issues sorted and we have a plan in place for the other 25%. It will get better.

- I also had four days with the triplets this week, and while I love them and am thrilled to be working, it made for a long week. One day I got up to be at Abby's by 7, took her to school, went to the triplets, worked until 4, ran to swim class, ran class, then ran to drama rehearsal (praying the whole way I wouldn't be late - ended up being only 5 minutes past). By the time I got home, I was completely ready to just crawl into bed and collapse.

- But - tomorrow I have a whole day off. This is so exciting I could cry. I'm going to bake chicken with lemon, give the house a good cleaning (Lord knows it needs it badly!) and decorate the front steps. :)

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

#7: Take Back To School Photos

My great big grown-up first grader. *sniffles* How did she grow up so fast?!
She told us she was "scared" of first grade the week before school started, then she went to open house, met her teacher, and declared "I'm not scared anymore."
She worked so hard this summer, "keeping my mind sharp."
She told me for six months that she wanted a leopard backpack - never asked for one, just made sure I knew lol - so Maggie and I got her one for her birthday. :)
Also, who wouldn't want that adorable unicorn lunchbox? ;)
Who's number one? :)
"Sweet face!"
"Now funny face!"
Off she goes!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Fall Bucket List 2014

Oh, Fall. It's here now (I don't care if the thermometer reads 90+ degrees - September is the start of fall!) and I'm glad. It was a good, hard, long, amazing, stressful summer and now it's over. I'm more than ready to settle into a routine and enjoy the (hopefully!) quieter pace of Autumn.

There's been lots going on lately (hopefully lots of posts coming in the near future!), some good, some not so much, but for now, here's my latest bucket list:

1. Winterize trailer (put up insulation, install heat tape, unpack space heaters, etc)
2. Take coffee to Professor Maloney
3. Get a fall drink at Starbucks
4. Start Christmas shopping
5. Take a road trip
6. Go to the fair
7. Take back to school photos
8. Crochet something
9. Clean out closet and donate unused clothes
10. Buy pumpkins
11. Visit the corn maze
12. Make hot apple cider
13. Sit around a fire
14. Buy a new sweater
15.Unpack winter bedding
16. Make apple butter
17. Go to the farm
18. Burn a new CD
19. Wear boots
20. Binge-watch Bones, Castle, and NCIS
21. Eat honeycrisp apples
22. Make chili
23. Go to Artsfest
24. Buy an autumn candle
25. Buy a succulent for indoors
26. Decorate for fall
27. Make birdfeeders with triplets
28. Host a party
29. Buy a new pair of socks
30. Go to First Friday
31. Go dancing
32. Stop for donuts before school with Abby :)

Monday, August 4, 2014

It's Geek Week, Y'all!

I just got back from taking my BFF to the airport where she boarded a plane back to Alabama and "real life." My own house is blessedly empty except for me and the girls, and I get to sleep in my own bed tonight (yay!). I'm kind of a little sad that this weekend is now officially over, and back to real life I go... but mostly, I just feel peaceful and happy and so, so glad for the incredible memories I made this weekend.

This weekend was Shore Leave. I realized last week that in the four years I have attended Shore Leave, I have never ever done a post about it (how does that even happen?!) so this week I'm mostly going to be posting about our experience at the con. We had some really fun things happen this year, like scoring hotel rooms in the actual con venue (finally!), singing karaoke late at night with Robert Picardo, and bumping into Teryl Rothery in the hall, and I remembered to take really good notes so I'd remember it all. :)

Until then... I hope everyone is having a great August so far. For me, August is one of those "in between" months, not quite summer and not quite fall, that I use to tie up loose ends and get ready to transition into the next season (which just happens to be my favorite!), so I'm hoping for a restful, low-key month. :)