new season, new goals

With the start of a new season, there’s often an urge to make promises to yourself; to strive to accomplish goals you’ve set awhile ago.

Lately, I’ve been really feeling this. I want to work harder on several things that are important to me. A few big goals, but mostly little ones. Some are things I used to do but have fallen by the wayside. Some are things I’ve always wanted to do but haven’t gotten to. Some are random. Some are predictable. I know I won’t get an A+ on this endeavor. But I’m going to try my best. (And be glad the days of getting grades are long behind me.)

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Goals for the rest of 2016:

  • Send more letters and cards by post.
  • Cook more. Mostly whole foods. Don’t cave and give the kids things we don’t really want them to be eating.
  • Spend 10 minutes of focused play time with each of my kids, twice a day. (Read this, and this for more on the topic, plus numerous parenting books!)
  • Blog more. At least one post a week. Do the updates/reformatting I’ve been planning for way too long.
  • Create our “family yearbook” of photos for 2015. (Nope, that year is not a typo.) Start the 2016 one.
  • Complete the household projects that we’ve been thinking about forever: new curtains, craft area for kids, laundry room organization, pictures in various spots around the house, the guest room closet…
  • Don’t plan on exercising during Cameron’s naptime.  It never works.
  • Host a party occasionally. I like parties.
  • Plan a new activity/park/outing once a week. I love our neighborhood, but I tend to do the same things and go to the same places all the time. I need to keep expanding my/our horizons.
  • Don’t drive if I can walk or bike. Unless the weather is really bad. But sometimes, go places I have to drive to.
  • Continue to reduce our waste. Don’t buy things in packaging if they can be obtained without packaging.
  • Minimize screen time before bedtime. Find an alarm clock to replace our phones.
  • Complain less. Just address the “problem.”
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while i was snapping…

I’ve been given a hard time lately for a dearth of Instagram photos. I used to post at least once a day, but in recent months I’ve waned. Mostly, my aging phone has been to blame. Every picture I took was blurry and not Instagram-able. But, also, I must admit, Snapchat has been dominating my social media time. I really like Snapchat. It’s fun. And quick.

However, Snaps do indeed disappear unless manually saved, so I best post some pictures on this here blog lest we forget everything we’ve been up to lately. Here’s a roundup of pictures from the past month or so!

IMG_3352^^spring has been coming and going, but i think the nice weather is finally here to stay!^^

IMG_2775^^biker cam! we’ve been biking a lot more, but the two kids are pretty heavy in the trailer, so when the whole family bikes, we put one of them on the back of dan’s bike.^^

IMG_3405^^one of those bad shots i referenced from a roller-skating birthday party!^^

IMG_2825^^flowers on our cherry tree!^^

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IMG_3439^^that montage is called: “eating out with kids is fun…”^^

DSC01173^^so much magna tile fun with grandpa!^^

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IMG_2848^^yay for backyard time!^^IMG_2891^^celebrating A&J’s birthday!^^

DSC01238-001^^girls’ spa day in boulder for our dear friend sara’s baby sprinkle!^^

IMG_2896^^mother’s day lunch at taste of thailand. SOOOOO GOOD!^^

IMG_2899^^her “celebration of learning” at school. she was so excited to show us what they’d been working on but mostly she was thrilled to “be in charge” all night. ;)^^

IMG_3520^^pizza delivery race at her school’s field day!^^

go-to recipe :: sweet potato tacos

A few times this week, dinnertime has been less than ideal. Kids crying. Short tempers. No fun.

It’s definitely not always that way chez nous, but those hours at the end of the day can frequently be trying. I don’t think it’s necessary to spell it out here; I’m sure lots of you know what I’m talking about.

That time of day can be even harder when I have no idea what I’m making for dinner. Usually, I’m pretty good at meal planning. However, sometimes, it’s 5pm and I realize that I haven’t even thought about what I’ll make for dinner. Oops. So for times like that, it’s good to have a few go-tos in my back pocket. These are my number one. I make them probably twice a month. You should make them too. I mean, if you want.

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Sweet Potato and Black Bean Tacos with Cilantro Pesto

SWEET POTATOES:
2 large sweet potatoes, roughly peeled
olive oil
1T ground cumin
1/4t cayenne pepper
1-2 cups black beans

CILANTRO PESTO:
1 cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
1 cup cilantro leaves and stems
2 medium cloves garlic, peeled
juice of 1 lime
1 serrano (or jalapeño) chile pepper
2/3 cup olive oil

TO SERVE:
tortillas
feta or jack cheese
lime wedges
green onions
hot sauce

1. Cut sweet potatoes into 1cm cubes. Toss to coat with olive oil, cumin, cayenne, salt, and pepper. Roast at 400 degrees until they reach the desired softness. About 30 minutes.

2. A few minutes before sweet potatoes are finished, toss the black beans into the pan to warm.

3. While the sweet potatoes are roasting, make the cilantro pesto. Mix all ingredients in a food processor or with an immersion blender. Add more olive oil if needed to reach the desired consistency.

4. If you’re feeling fancy, warm or char your tortillas on the stove or microwave.

5. Assemble tacos with desired accoutrements and enjoy!

burmatown, california

Last month, I went on a trip ALL BY MYSELF to California. I was there for some work stuff, but also as a mini vacation and a chance to spend time with family.  And I was so lucky: they really made sure I had a fun and restful stay.

On my first night there, they took me to Burmatown in Corte Madera.

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Obviously, I love an Asian restaurant! And San Francisco boasts numerous exceptional ones. During a previous visit, we went to Burma Superstar in the city, but I dare say Burmatown was better. It was sensational. From the ambiance to the food, everything was divine. The service was exceptional too. And the tea leaf salad! Who doesn’t love tea leaf salad? Well if you haven’t had one, you probably don’t know you love it…But you should try it. Preferable this one. (Although I imagine one in Burma would probably be pretty darn good too…)

Anyway! Everything about Burmatown was delightful. Perhaps I was influenced by the profound enjoyment of dining without little kids to wrangle. But, it doesn’t really matter. A fantastic eating experienced is colored by several factors, and the stars all aligned that night. Thanks so much R + B for such a wonderful dinner and visit!

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a simple thanksgiving?

This year, we kept Thanksgiving very simple. My sister and her husband came over for dinner. They live here now, which, as I have said before, is crazy awesome.

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However, “simple” meant that Dan and I were in charge of cooking the turkey for the first time. We’ve hosted Thanksgiving several times since we’ve been married, but there’s always been someone else to man the bird. Not this year. It was all us. And we cracked under the pressure. I cracked. We put it in too early because we were worried about putting it in too late. But Dan totally saved things and I somehow sneaked by, only making the pie filling and the cranberry sauce.

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It was a nice day. But a regular day too. Cameron’s been Mr. Fussy McFussville for the past few weeks, and he tolerated about 2 minutes in his highchair at the dinner table. Willa wore lipstick. Which is anything but simple. Ha.

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I have so many things to be grateful for, and I thought about that a lot on Thanksgiving. But I also am starting to realize how holidays change and evolve as you get older. They were simple as a child, but now even when we try to keep things simple, nothing is that black and white. Life is wonderful. But complicated sometimes. Wonderfully complicated. And at least there’s pie. And wine.

spicy pork lettuce wraps

There are many, MANY reasons why I am not and could not be a food blogger. One of them is that I never remember to take pictures of food while I’m making it. Sometimes I strike upon a great dinner by chance/luck/skills and I’m like, “man, if only I’d taken pictures, I could blog about this!” But then again, since my blog has no real specific direction, I can blog about whatever the heck I feel like, pictures or not. Right? Right.

A week or so ago, I made the best (BEST!) pork lettuce cups. I often make some version of stir-fried ground meat with Asian seasonings and serve it in lettuce leaves. But, for years, I’ve never really had a go-to recipe. I’ve made different ones, or just improvised, but I’ve never found a go-to, staple recipe. The wait is over. This one is it. A keeper. It was so good. Easy to make, yet super flavorful. Pretty much what we’re all striving for in the dinner department, no?

And then, icing on the cake, I made it again the other day and remembered to take pictures. So, basically, I am a food blogger?

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Spicy Pork Lettuce Wraps
Serves 2-3. Easily doubled.

1lb ground pork
1 red bell pepper, finely diced
1c shredded or sliced carrots
2 garlic cloves, minced
2T minced peeled ginger
1t Siracha
1t sugar
2T fish sauce
2t sesame oil
2T plus 1T grapeseed oil
4 scallions, thinly sliced
2T oyster sauce
1/4c (large handful) mint leaves, roughly chopped
1/4c (large handful) fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
1/4c (large handful) fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
24 Boston or iceberg lettuce leaves

1. Mix the pork, red bell pepper, carrots, garlic, ginger, siracha, sugar, fish sauce, sesame oil, and 2T grapeseed oil in a bowl.

2. Heat remaining 1T grapeseed oil in a wok or large pan over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the bowl of meat, vegertables and seasonings. Stir-fry until the pork is cooked through. Don’t stir constantly; allow the pork to brown in spots.

3. Remove from heat, and add the oyster sauce, scallions, mint, basil, and cilantro. Stir to combine. (Alternatively, allow meat to cool to room temperature, and then add the herbs. This will keep them from wilting as much.)

4. Serve alongside lettuce leaves, with additional Siracha if desired.

frikadelle + other fun

FRIKADELLE!!!! That’s German for “meat patty.” Apparently, during the industrial revolution, German immigrants in NYC needed a way to eat them faster and on-the-go, so they put the frikadelle between two slices of bread, and the hamburger was born.

We had frikadelle a week or so ago, thanks to my friend Marret who was visiting for a few weeks last month. She’s from Hamburg, Germany, and was an exchange student with my parents 10 years ago (what!? 10 years!?). It was so fun to have her here to spend time with us. We were able to reconnect, have a lot of laughs, and eat a lot of good food. And it was amazing to watch her get to know the kids. (The day we took her to the airport, as I was getting Willa ready for her nap, she suggested we take “a lot of planes” to Germany “next weekend.” Melted my heart.)

DSC06991^^There’s the frikadelle. On greens with roasted butternut squash and potatoes. It was delicious. Marret made the disclaimer that it wasn’t really a “German dinner” that she made us. But, I say, she’s German and she made a dinner that she would make at home, so that’s pretty much a German dinner. No? Whatever you call it, it was healthy and delicious and it was so nice of her to do the cooking. (Not to mention all the dishes she did while she was visiting!)^^

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IMG_8948^^There was a sunny hike with Willa’s playschool group. And on another day, a trip to the mountains to snowboard!^^

DSC06901^^Falafel was made! ^^

DSC06911^^And a marzipan cake! (Willa is always game to help with baking. She loves to cook and/or knows she’ll get to lick some batter.)^^

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IMG_9078^^We went to Union Station and hit up Zoe Ma Ma for lunch.^^

IMG_9135^^Willa learned where Germany is. Or at least that Germany, is.^^

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IMG_9109^^Pizza salad and gelato at Parisi!^^

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IMG_9127^^Girls’ night out at The Source. Comida tacos of course. Hold the cilantro for Marret. And the avocado thanks to my newly developed intolerance (aka the worst development ever!).^^

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IMG_8894^^Most importantly, chocolates were exchanged.^^

THANK YOU for coming to visit Marret! We loved having you!