New Habits, New Recipes

A couple of months ago Andy and I started a new weekend routine. On Saturday we look at the week ahead and see who is gone which nights and we make a meal plan for the week to get us through to the following weekend. We check the fridge, freezer, and pantry for inspiration and try to use up what we already have. Then we make a grocery list.

Sunday morning after church we head straight to the grocery store along with everyone else in our town, but with our list, it’s a 15 minute stop (thanks, Aldi!). We head home, make lunch, and often take a Sunday nap. Then Andy does laundry and I prep meals for the week.

I’m sure this sounds really boring, but the predictability of the routine has been really nice for us. It’s kind of like a re-set before the week begins again. And knowing what we’re cooking for the next 6 days takes all the, “UGH, what should we do for dinner tonight?” completely out of the equation. If we’re not feeling a meal one night, we’ll swap it for one we were planning to make later in the week, or for the always ready frozen pizza, so there’s flexibility. 😉

Since we’ve chosen to make Sunday slow on purpose, we take our time and usually try a new recipe that night. Tonight Andy made this single sheet pan Pesto Chicken recipe with baby potatoes and pesto that was left over from a previous recipe, some chicken we already had in the freezer, and green tomatoes from this week’s local farm food share we joined.



Not a Food Blogger.

It. Was. Amazing!

While he was making that, I started a new soup recipe we hadn’t made before, but we had a huge bunch of kale from the same farm food share, so I found this copycat Olive Garden recipe for Zuppa Toscana that was super simple with onion, potatoes, and kale. Hopefully, it’s good! We’ll have it tomorrow night for dinner.


Still not a food blogger.

My friend Amber wrote recently about trading dinner with family or friends and I am totally into it! If you want to do this with me, hit me up- it doesn’t have to be once a week, it could be once a month- but I LOVE THIS IDEA! We’ve been trying a lot of new recipes lately and I’d be happy to cook one for you!

And if you have made anything you love that is even remotely healthy and delicious, I’d love to hear about it!

Happy Cooking 🙂


Getting rid of stuff

If I was moving, would I move this?

We were talking about purging our belongings and this is a question our friend uses when deciding what to get rid of or keep. We had both been using the Kon Mari method taken from a book a co-worker lent me last spring, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing.”

I started getting rid of things in the summer (okay, I’ve been getting rid of things for years, but this was a new round brought on from reading the book). Most things went to Love Inc in Delano and some things were sold on facebook garage sale sites and craigslist.

Kon Mari focuses on keeping things that spark joy. I like they way she suggests tidying, which I call purging. She would say getting rid of things is not the goal, but only keeping what you truly love, is. I, however, LOVE the feeling of getting rid of things.

Our travel backpacks we both had from the late 90’s when we traveled through Europe (during the exact same months, but we wouldn’t meet for six more years)? Sold to a man who was planning a backpacking trip with his son.

A very pretty pottery bowl set my Mom gave us (ahem, while I was helping her purge) but we barely used? Sold to a kind woman in the Sam’s Club parking lot.

I grew up with my parents hosting parties and serving lemonade in a giant punch bowl, and depending on the crowd, also floating a baby ruth bar in it (my parents were Young Life kids and Youth Leaders, ie, they were Cool). My brain made the association early in life that punch bowl = fun party. But we had used it just twice. Donated.

The big things are easier for me. The sentimental stuff, or as I’ve called it since I was a kid, “semi-mental” I’m saving for last. Kon Mari recommends it this way so you’ve had good practice of deciding what sparks joy.

Because words are one of my favorite things, I’ve kept printed out emails from when Andy and I were dating (it was how communication was done in 2005), boxes of cards and letters from family and friends, and photos, eesh. Photos may be the hardest for me.

I read an article from a person practicing the Kon Mari method and she turned all her wedding pics upside down. Then as she flipped them up one by one (I’m picturing a game of Memory here) she would pay attention to how she felt when she saw it. If it (to totally overuse this phrase) “sparked joy” she kept it, if not, she tossed it. Ugh. I get a little pit in my stomach just thinking about throwing pictures away, but I will, eventually. Also, how will I do this with digital? I don’t want to think about it yet.

So now I’m trying to find a place to start on next. I’ve attacked my clothes like nobody’s business, then we went through books. We’ve gone through the kitchen and pantry. Paperwork was purged so much that I sold our file cabinet on craigslist this fall. The guy was like, “Where do you keep your papers now?” “Um, in just a few folders.” (I’m pretty confident he thought I was nuts.) We went through the bathroom cabinets and the front hall and linen closets. Maybe that’s why I’m dragging my feet- maybe sentimental is next!

I’ll poke around some things and see if I can get going. If I start making progress I’ll share about it here. I know, this is edge of your seat, life-changing kind of stuff. But it’s probably not a bad thing to keep asking, “If I was moving, would I move this?”

A post about Fuller House

I’ve polled friends and read enough articles to realize that people either love or hate the new re-make of the 1987 Full House. From my non-scientific research it seems that anyone who watched and enjoyed the original, is more likely to enjoy the new one too. People who didn’t really get into Full House, tend to not like Fuller House. And that makes sense because the original show was incredibly cheesy. The new one is just as over the top, but, I love it.

Even with being a Full House fan growing up, I still had my reservations about the new show. And when I heard the first laugh track, I was sure I wouldn’t make it past the first episode. Initially the cheering for each original cast member entering the stage was annoying, but by the end I found myself just as excited to see Uncle Jesse and Aunt Becky too (how do John Stamos and Lori Loughlin look the same after 29 years!? Have mercy!). So I kept watching.

Without exception, each episode has made me laugh out loud at least once, sometimes twice. The new middle kid is so much like Danny Tanner (Bob Saget) that it cracks me up. The fact that there are twins playing the baby of the family- awww, nostalgia for Mary-Kate and Ashley. And I think it’s hilarious when they poke fun at themselves (DJ: I watch a lot of Dancing With the Stars) or each other (Kimmy: At the prices MK & A charge for their dresses, no wonder they’ve given up acting!).

Somehow they make the leap into current day with still having a bit of Full House’s original family values. I liked that Uncle Joey took away everyone’s phones and iPad to have, “good old fashioned family violence” with Super Soakers and silly string. They discuss issues like balancing wanting to be friends with their kids and setting boundaries in discipline. Still conservative and cheesy, but I like it.

And then there’s a moment so real and tender that it totally caught me by surprise. Um… can we talk about Stephanie explaining her infertility to her sister? Sheesh! I had read an article that mentioned it so I knew it would happen eventually (sorry if I spoiled it for you). But D.J.’s response of, “My kids are your kids” ……annnnnd without warning I was wiping away tears with my sleeve. I don’t know if I could imagine a sweeter thing to say to someone in that moment.

Oh, and this is one of my favorite articles I’ve read on the show so far. It slams it as a show on its own (without the Full House nostalgia factor, I’m not sure I would’ve kept watching the new one either). But the article brings up a deeper story line about how good friendships can help us cope through hard times.

Maybe that’s why I kept watching. There’s something inspiring about seeing women pull together to help each other, and this show has that in spades.

For the love of the crock pot

One of Andy’s favorite stories to tell about my cooking ability is from the first time I invited him over for dinner. I made him a ham sandwich.

And I saw exactly zero things wrong with this at the time.

My next meal involved the stove, barely. I boiled water, threw in some spaghetti and opened a jar of ragu next to the boiling water to “warm it up” (my words that he likes to repeat with air quotes) and pour over the noodles after they were cooked.

All this to say, Andy didn’t marry me for my cooking skills.

But in the last few years, I started to discover and truly love, the crock pot. I learned to cook some of my most edible meals in it. Chili, pulled pork, red curry lentils, (careful, that last one makes 16 servings- ask me how I know) and more.

Then, Superbowl Sunday happened. Our crock pot made a popping sound and set off a huge spark. Our friend noticed exposed wires in the back and told us he wouldn’t trust it anymore (I didn’t either).

Our other friend tried to encourage us, saying, “Hey, your marriage outlived your crock pot, that’s a really good thing!” Andy said he had bought it used, so it wasn’t a big loss. But I was a little sad. It had become my favorite kitchen appliance.

The next day I decided to find out if a crock pot was one of those things that needed to be recycled. (I don’t know these things, but I was sure google could tell me what to do.) I couldn’t find anything on recycling it, but a comment on a blog showed up with someone talking about a free repair event, hosted regularly in our area.

Basically, anything that can be carried in can be repaired, or at least attempted and then if it can’t be fixed, there’s no loss. I thought it was a pretty cool idea and I was reviewing things that had been repaired before (fans, dvd players) I figured our crock pot could be a great contender.

Then I remembered that my cousin likes to tinker with things and has a strong electrical background. I texted and told him I was pretty sure our crock pot was broken, but did he want to take a look at it? He replied, “I’m always up for a challenge.” I dropped it off the next day.

My cousin is amazing! He figured out what was wrong, replaced some parts with things laying around his house, and a few days later he was testing it by cooking in it. It worked again; I was floored! I felt so green. I wanted to fly a banner in the air that said, “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle… or Repair!”

To be honest, I feel a little stupid that I didn’t think of the possibility of repairing it. But I’m so thankful I have a cousin who likes to fix things, and that our crock pot has lived to see another day.

It’s time to make some pulled pork sandwiches again.