Sunday, January 10, 2016

Weekly Meal Plan 1.10.16

We are on to our second week of Whole 30. Sean is getting into helping me with the meal planning (the Bacon Wrapped Guacamole Stuffed Chicken Breasts for this Saturday's dinner were one of the first things he pinned onto his Whole 30 Pinterest board). Here's what we're eating this week:

Sunday breakfast: Egg Foo Young-ish
Sunday dinner: Boneless Pork Ribs and Garlic Spinach (Paleo Slow Cooking)

Monday breakfast: leftover egg foo young-ish
Monday dinner: leftovers

Tuesday breakfast: Italian sausage, egg and spinach bowl
Tuesday dinner: Asian meatballs and Black Sesame Green Beans

Wednesday breakfast: banana chia pudding
Wednesday dinner: leftovers

Thursday breakfast: bacon butternut squash quiche
Thursday dinner: Carrot Ginger soup & salad

Friday breakfast: leftover bacon butternut squash quiche
Friday dinner: Grilled Steak with Garlic-Shallot Purée and Avocado, with leftover green beans

Saturday breakfast: Smoked Salmon Frittata
Saturday dinner: Bacon Wrapped Guacamole Stuffed Chicken Breasts and roasted vegetables

Friday, January 8, 2016

Recipe Review: Creme Bruleed Pumpkin Pie

On Christmas, we made this creme bruleed pumpkin pie. What started out as a plan for the perfect dessert turned into a series of experiments, and a discovery that it is in fact worth buying real pie weights. (Spoiler, we now own real pie weights. Sean is thrilled to bake all the pies.)

First, I think the internet version of this recipe is simpler to read than the printed version in the magazine, which is what we were going off of. I put Sean in charge of the pie, since he's a better baker than I am. He's better at the precision stuff, I'm good at the cooking that involves a bit of this and a bit of that. So I was in charge of the rest of our menu (duck, cranberry jelly, stuffing, carrots) and Sean did dessert. Well, because of the way the magazine split the crust and the pie filling onto different pages, the timing for getting the pie started was off. Right from the beginning we knew we wouldn't actually be eating pie for dessert that night.

The pie crust. No pictures exist of it. It was delicious. But it didn't really stay...pie-shaped during the blind bake. We tried dried beans on the parchment paper, which is supposed to be an acceptable substitute for pie weights. It was not enough. It slumped, it rose, it was a weird misshapen mess in a pie dish. But it was a really tasty misshapen mess, and we did enjoy eating it. I just would have liked to eat it with the filling.

The filling. It was phenomenal. Just the right amount of pumpkin, the right amount of cream. Not too rich, not too many spices. Really good!

What we ended up doing (since we couldn't put the filling in the crust that we made) was picking up a store-bought refrigerated crust. They're not the best, but we knew it would let us eat our pie. A side effect is that the store-bought crust was not quite big enough for all of the filling. Which leads us to...

Living Design Recipe Review Creme Bruleed Pumpkin Pie pumpkin creme brulees! The extra filling just filled our four mini ramekins.

Sean is very excited about his new culinary torch that we had to pick up for this recipe:

Living Design Recipe Review Creme Bruleed Pumpkin Pie

So, while the pie wasn't a technical success for Christmas dinner, every aspect of it was delicious enough that we will absolutely be trying it again. I think with some more practice, and the proper pie weights, we can make this a true success. We grew some awesome sugar pie pumpkins this year, so I plan to grow more next summer, which means more pumpkin pie, right?

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Weekly Meal Plan 1.3.16

Sean and I will be doing what we call a modified Whole 30 for the month of January. It's modified because we like flexibility. We'll stick to the real rules as much as possible, but we do give ourselves passes if, for example, I need my little sugar and milk in my coffee during rehearsals. But since doing a Whole 30 requires more meal planning than regular life, I will be sharing a more in-depth meal plan this month. Lunches will be leftovers from the previous night.

So, here's what we're planning to eat this week:

Sunday: finish off the leftovers in preparation to start the Whole 30 tomorrow!

Monday breakfast: scrambled eggs & fruit
Monday dinner: Whole 30 Chicken Korma (except for us it will be lamb korma)

Tuesday breakfast: Jalapeno Sausage Hash (Paleo Slow Cooking)
Tuesday dinner: Fiesta Lime Chicken with Avocado Salsa (Paleo Slow Cooking)

Wednesday breakfast: Paleo Breakfast Muffins
Wednesday dinner: Creamy Tomato Soup and Spinach Salad (Paleo Slow Cooking)

Thursday breakfast: leftover Jalapeno Sausage Hash
Thursday dinner: leftovers

Friday breakfast: leftover breakfast muffins
Friday dinner: Chicken in Cashew Nut Sauce (5 Spices, 50 Dishes) with veggies

Saturday breakfast: scrambled eggs & fruit
Saturday dinner: Italian Sausage & Broccoli Rabe (Cooking from the Farmer's Market)

Friday, January 1, 2016

2016 Home To-Do List Update

I didn't do an update of our giant to-do list when we hit our one year house anniversary in October, but with the new year I thought it was a good time to go over the list again.


Living Design New Home
  • reseal driveway
  • repaint exterior -- planning this for next spring

Yard & Back Deck

  • remove old satellite dish to give access to electrical panel
  • door mat by sliding door
  • repair/replace back deck steps
  • weed front yard
  • planters on back deck
  • get bird feeders
  • plan & plant veggie garden -- we had a decent veggie garden last summer, though I have some improvements in mind for this year
  • plant fruit trees
  • install compost bin
  • build chicken coop & run

Front Porch
  • new welcome mat
  • potted plants on either side of entry


Living Design New Home
  • paint
  • update light fixture
  • turn coat closet back into coat closet (it currently has wire shelves, but we would like to hang coats in there)
  • figure out some shoe storage near door
  • get runner
  • get coat rack/hat stand for corner in stairs -- something that is functional, but also provides visual interest

Living Room

Living Design New Home

  • fix drywall patches
  • paint
  • repair windows with broken sashes: living room left
  • hang art
  • get rug

Dining Room

  • fix drywall patches
  • patch trim
  • install beadboard wallpaper below chair rail
  • paint beadboard wallpaper to match trim
  • paint upper part of walls
  • update light fixture
  • get rug
  • new dining room chairs


  • remove wallpaper
  • patch & paint trim
  • paint walls
  • hang shelves
  • remove closet doors, turn closet into filing/bookshelf area?


Living Design New Home

  • new fridge
  • caulk around kitchen sink
  • paint 
  • update knobs
  • update light fixtures
  • update appliances to stainless steel when needed
  • eventually replace countertops & sink; change out range for gas

Family Room
Living Design Family Room Decor

  • paint 
  • get rug
  • new larger couch, larger coffee table

Downstairs Bath

  • paint
  • update fixtures

Downstairs Hallway
  • paint
  • hang art
  • get runner
  • update thermostat?

Laundry Room
  • paint
  • buy washer & dryer
  • update cabinet hardware
  • install folding shelf over washer & dryer
  • get wall hanger for iron & ironing board
  • figure out closet organization

  • fix garage door opener
  • build work bench
  • add storage for bikes, shovels, tools etc.

Stairs & Upstairs Hallway
  • paint
  • remove carpet on stairs, put in hardwood with runner
  • refinish banister

Master Bedroom
Living Design New Home

  • patch holes in drywall
  • paint

Master Bath & Closet
Living Design New Home

  • replace lightbulb in closet
  • get plumber in to install new wax ring on master toilet
  • fix grout in master shower
  • paint
  • new towel bars/hooks
  • fix linen closet doors -- they currently rub each other
  • update mirror & light fixtures
  • update shower

Guest Room & Bath
Living Design Guest Room
  • touch up enamel in upstairs guest bathroom sink
  • repair windows with broken sashes: guest bathroom
  • patch trim, remove half finished framing below chair rail
  • paint wall above chair rail
  • paint bathroom
  • get furniture for our holiday guests!
  • replace ceiling fan blades
  • new window treatments
  • update mirror & window treatments
  • update vanity
  • replace bathroom window with safety glass

Future Kid Room 1 (Currently Sean's Office)
Living Design New Home

  • patch trim
  • install beadboard wallpaper below chair rail
  • paint beadboard wallpaper to match trim
  • paint wall above chair rail
  • replace ceiling fan blades

Future Kid Room 2 (Currently Cat/Sewing Room)
Living Design New Home

  • patch trim
  • install beadboard wallpaper below chair rail
  • paint beadboard wallpaper to match trim
  • paint wall above chair rail
  • replace ceiling fan blades

Jack and Jill Bath
  • replace knobs
  • paint
  • update mirror & light fixtures

  • determine & label ethernet cables in basement junction
  • replace water diffuser in humidifier prior to turning on heat
  • new window well for basement window
  • finish out basement

Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015 Reading List

The past two New Year's Eves I have shared lists of all the books and plays I read that year. Here is my list from 2015. As always, only books or plays that were read all the way through have made the list (nothing skimmed or unfinished).

For 2015 I also challenged myself to complete this reading challenge. I've been wanting to branch out in my genres more, in addition to just reading more books. So, while I've still organized my reads by Non-Fiction, Fiction and Plays, next to each book you'll see the category that it fulfills from the challenge.


Bringing up Bebe by Pamela Druckerman -- a nonfiction book


The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec, Volume 1 by Jaques Tardi -- a graphic novel
The Latke Who Couldn't Stop Screaming: A Christmas Story by Lemony Snicket -- a book set during Christmas (well, Chanukah and Christmas really)
The Martian by Andy Weir -- a book that became a movie
All Other Nights by Dara Horn -- a book your mom loves (this one might be stretching it a little, but she did send this one to me after she read it!)
Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver -- a book published this year
The Sapphire Rose by David Eddings -- a book with magic
Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty --a book with antonyms in the title
Rav Hisda's Daughter Book 1 Apprentice by Maggie Anton -- a book set in a different country
Tortall and Other Lands by Tamora Pierce -- a book of short stories
Petals on the Wind by V. C. Andrews -- a book with a love triangle
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern -- a book by a female author
The Ruby Knight by David Eddings -- a book from an author you love that you haven't read yet
Flowers in the Attic by V. C. Andrews -- a book by an author you've never read before


Fuddy Meers by David Lindsay-Abaire -- a play
Red Riding Hood by Mike Kenny -- a book with a color in the title
Outside Mullingar by John Patrick Shanley -- a book you can finish in a day
The Mikado by Gilbert and Sullivan -- a book more than 100 years old

Unused Categories:
-a book with more than 500 pages
-a classic romance
-a book with a number in the title
-a book written by someone under 30
-a book with nonhuman characters
-a funny book
-a mystery or thriller
-a book with a one word title
-a popular author's first book
-a book a friend recommended
-a Pulitzer Prize-winning book
-a book based on a true story
-a book at the bottom of your to-read list
-a book that scares you
-a book based entirely on its cover
-a book you were supposed to read in school but didn't
-a memoir
-a book set somewhere you've always wanted to visit
-a book that came out the year you were born
-a book with bad reviews
-a trilogy
-a book from your childhood
-a book set in the future
-a book set in high school
-a book that made you cry
-a book you own but have never read
-a book that takes place in your hometown
-a book that was originally written in a different language
-a book written by an author with your same initials
-a banned book
-a book based on or turned into a TV show
-a book you started but never finished

I'm hoping to do even more reading in 2016! I have so many books waiting to be read, and there are lots of categories from this year's challenge that I didn't even touch. Here's to a great new year of reading!

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Weekly Meal Plan 12.27.15

After the holidays, our fridge is full of delicious leftovers! I like how easy that makes meal planning for the week. Here's what we're planning to eat:

Sunday: spaghetti squash alfredo

Monday: leftovers - borscht

Tuesday: bratwurst & veggies TBD

Wednesday: leftovers - duck, stuffing etc

Thursday: slow cooker chick-pea stew

Friday: leftovers - chick pea stew

Saturday: more leftovers? dinner out?

I'm also planning to make these Cranberry Apple Danish to use up some of the cranberry jelly I made for Christmas. The jelly itself was definitely a winner, so I'm betting these danish will be fantastic too!

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Weekly Meal Plan 12.20.15

It's looking like a pretty low-key week for us this week. We'll be having Chinese on Christmas Eve, and then we will be having a small Christmas dinner with just the two of us -- it's a fun chance to try all the fancy recipes I see in my Martha Stewart magazines that aren't practical to try out on Sean's 30 person family gatherings! And because we'll have a huge amount of leftovers after Friday, I'll be keeping the beginning of the week fairly simple. So here's what we're planning on eating this week:

Sunday: leftovers

Monday: leftover borscht

Tuesday: ravioli & artichoke pesto, salad

Wednesday: leftovers -- get some containers out of that fridge!

Thursday: Chinese food

Friday: duck with cranberry-orange sauce; butternut squash stuffing; brown sugar glazed carrots; creme bruleed pumpkin pie

Saturday: leftovers!