Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Tastiness - Greekish Quinoa a.k.a That Time When Quinoa Cheered Me

Who does this title think it's kidding?  This is just ONE of those times quinoa has cheered me.  I freaking love this stuff.  And I only call it "Greekish" because the dressing is the same I use when I make Greek salad.

Anywho...Today has been one of those days where things just didn't go right.  One of my students broke her arm at recess, a planned 5 mile run turned into the complete lack of a run, I realized that I STILL haven't printed invites for the kids' 2nd/5th birthday party when their birthdays are one month away, the grill ran out of gas as we were preparing dinner, and on and on and on.  Every have one of THOSE days?  The combination of these events (and more) was turning me into a grumpy, moody, b.

And then I started chopping up the veggies for this quinoa salad to go along with the hanger steaks I'd marinated all day.  Something about the colors just made me so happy.
Dressing whisked with red onion, cucumber, kalamata olives
As I kept chopping and adding to the bowl, I was more and more cheered.
With tomatoes and green pepper added
Once the quinoa and the feta were in, I was pretty much cured.  Or maybe just really, really hungry.
By this point, the grill was back in action, and we were ready to eat.  With a gorgeous Chicagoish day happening outside the kitchen window, I couldn't help but move dinner outdoors.  
The people at A-1 should really have paid me for this adorable ad.

A close up on the dinner - Hanger Steak and Asparagus with the Quinoa Goodness
B's Milk.  Yuck.
Bon Apetit
The day was saved.  The meal was delicious.  The company?  Perfect.  See?
Like a fat kid loves cake

Passionate about her quinoa stubble
Greekish Quinoa
**There is no reason to stick to this recipe exactly.  Adjust according to taste.  It makes A LOT as written.  

  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano (I think.  I didn't actually measure it because at this point, I didn't know I was going to blog this recipe.) 
  • 2-3 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil (Again with the lack of measuring)
  • Juice of 3 lemons
  • Red Onion, diced small (1/2 is probably enough)
  • 1 English Cucumber, diced small
  • 1 jar Kalamata Olives, cut in half - I used these from Trader Joe's
  • Cherry or Grape Tomatoes, halved or quartered - I used these
  • 2 green peppers, diced small
  • 8 oz. (or more or less to taste) feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1 1/2 cups quinoa, rinsed (I used 1/2 cup of red quinoa and 1 cup of white quinoa)
  • 3 cups vegetable broth (This is what I had on hand.  Chicken broth or just water would work, too.)
  1. Bring broth to a boil.  Add quinoa and return to a boil.  Cover and simmer on low for 20-25 minutes, or until the water is absorbed.
  2. Add garlic, oregano, lemon juice and olive oil to large bowl and whisk together.
  3. Add veggies and mix well.
  4. When quinoa is finished, add it to the bowl.  Now it's decision time.  Do you want to serve this warm or cold?  It's great both ways. 
  5. If serving warm, add feta and serve.
  6. If serving cold, put in refrigerator until ready to serve, or at least until B gets back with the gas for the grill.  Just before serving, add feta.
  7. Enjoy!

Sunday, May 12, 2013


My celebration cup runneth over.  As I said before, I absolutely LOVE my birthday - like a 5 year old.  And this year did not disappoint.  

Friday was the kind of day at work that I hope everyone in any profession can experience at some point.  I don't know how it is possible to have a better day.  Our third graders put on their big program for their parents and loved ones, and I just don't know that I could have been more proud of each and every one of them.  Not only were they so stinking cute, but the big show went off without a hitch.  Days like Friday are how I know I've chosen the right career.  And did I mention it was my birthday?  My desk looked like a funeral home, as it was covered in many bouquets of flowers.  And when I got home from work, we had NO plans.  None.  Not one thing to do.  And it was glorious.  B picked up sushi from my current favorite place, and we had a date at our table.

B and the kids horsing around
A few of the 90+ gems I found on my phone
No clue where H's love of a selfie comes from

Saturday we had big plans with friends - a little rail riding for cocktails and dinner.  We took the train a few 'burbs to the west.  And there was some celebrating to be had.  A lot of it.  The best part?  My parents came to town and kept H and L at the hotel with them overnight.  This momma knew I wouldn't have to be up at the crack of dawn.  And so...I celebrated a little more.

LOVE these ladies!  There were boys, too, but who needs pictures of our boys?

When my eyes fluttered open at 8:13 this morning, they promptly slammed shut until B not so gently reminded me that we had 10:00 reservations in the city and I had to be presentable.  It's my day, after all.  
Pulled together.
Pink Pants (finally!) - Ann Taylor
Top - Target
Shoes - Fossil
Watch - Charming Charlie
Hair - last night's, thanks to Suave dry shampoo
And it was the perfect day.  My parents arrived with the kids, and we headed to the city.

H and L with Grana and Papa
Yes, Anne, we went to Glen's

My favorites

And nothing says Mother's Day like a little shopping.  B got me a cute purse from a little boutique near the restaurant - the second bag of the weekend.  It's like he gets me or something.  And the shopping continued.
Nothing says Happy Mother's Day like shopping for meat.
Sausages and Brats, to be specific.
Unfortunately, over the past six months, I've been reminded too many times of how short this life really is.  Each tomorrow isn't guaranteed.  Living in and loving these moments makes my heart so full.  Almost filled to bursting.  

Snack Sausage
And he ate it.  All.
My boy.

Taking the time to blow the dandelion fluff.
Mom of the Year forgot to tell her not to eat it.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

...Getting My Feet Wet

Actually, I got a lot more than just my feet wet.

This is my favorite week of the year.  Every year.  It's my birthweek (that's a word, no?), teacher appreciation week, and Mother's Day all rolled into the same 7 days.  I'm like a 5 year old when my birthday rolls around.  I can't wait.  It doesn't matter whether or not I have plans to celebrate.  I don't need presents (but I don't hate them, so shop if you must), and Lord knows I don't need cake.  But I just love my birthday.  Lucky for me, 2 of my best girls also have May birthdays, so we tend to make a big deal of ourselves together.  And yes, I'm the oldest by 11 days.  Prepare yourselves.  Celebration pictures are sure to follow.

Today was just the icing on my "my favorite week" cake.  It was gorgeous.  That's all there is to it.  Maybe my whining about the miserable weather has paid off.  And to top it all off, after a day of teaching followed by a long meeting, I joined my family and friends in our friend's pool.  That's right.  In the pool.  On May 8th.  This was L's first real pool experience.  Last summer, she spent pool time in a little raft that one of us always held onto.  Today she was free, wearing H's old arm floaties, as he's now a strong enough swimmer without them, and she showed no fear in the water - which terrifies me.  We all loved every second of it.  I hope I can remember the feeling of wonder and awe I felt watching my kiddos tomorrow when I'm sure they'll be absolute monsters because we kept them out well past their bedtimes so they could enjoy the moment.  It's worth it.

This is where I would post a picture of H and L being adorable in the water, or eating hot dogs poolside in their jammies with wet hair and those fresh from the pool eyelashes that I can't get enough of.  But, alas...  Instead of taking pictures, I was living in the moment.

And since it feels like summer is really on it's way, I just can't do another drab outfit.  Today I broke out the green skirt again, but this time with some color blocking.  So much color used to be way outside of my comfort zone, but I'm really starting to like it.  Luckily, the outfit includes a cardigan, which is the definition of my comfort zone.  And I still haven't cleaned the mirror.  I do think of it every time I take a picture.  I obviously don't have time to dry my hair in the morning, let alone break out the Windex.

Skirt - Banana Republic outlet
Cardigan and T - Target
Bracelet (the gold one, not the rubberband) - Limited
Monogram Necklace - Personalized Me to You
Sandals - Madewell

Monday, May 6, 2013

...Extreme Highs and Lows - aka a Stream of Consciousness Dump

It's been an entire month since I've posted.  Frankly, life has been busy.  And amazing.  And frustrating.  And exciting.  And a bummer.  And really, just wonderful.  See what I mean by extreme highs and lows?  This ride has been full of peaks and valleys lately, but luckily the ride's still rolling.

House Stuff

This is not a secret.  We're outgrowing our house.  And by "we're outgrowing," I really mean we've outgrown our house.  Already.  Like almost 2 years ago.  2 bedrooms in less than 1100 square feet is less than ideal for our family of 4.  We've made it work, and things aren't terrible, but we would really LOVE some more space.  And so began the house hunt.  We've only been at it for about a month (see the timeline since my last posting), and it's been up and down like crazy.  In the specific area where we are looking, any house that is remotely decent inside and even close to reasonably price has been sold in 2-3 days after being on the market.  So we do a lot of looking, getting excited, and being let down.  So 2 weeks ago when our offer in the PERFECT location (less than perfect house) was accepted, we were thrilled!

The house that wasn't meant to be
The answer to the kindergarten question.  Walking distance to the train and downtown area (read Dairy Queen) of the suburb.  And then came the inspection.  Everything that could possibly be wrong with a house other than termites and water damage was present.  And we were devastated.  After a lot of soul searching and tears, we decided that it would be best to walk away, and we backed out of the contract.  And so continues the house search...  Peak.  And now valley.  But this valley is kind of a peak.  The home inspection was the best money we've ever spent.  Headaches saved.


June 8th - the day of the Half Marathon - is rapidly approaching.  And by rapidly, I mean it'll be here before I'm ready.  I'm really doing my best to prepare for this thing!  What I'm finding is that this is hard.  No shit?!  What's crazy is that physically, it's not all that bad.  It's my head that struggles.  Luckily, I've got some pretty incredible friends who are also either training or willing to run right along with me.  And I don't think I could make it through these long runs without them.  Here are a few shots from recent training sessions.  You'll note that my mileage doesn't match what I'm telling you.  For some reason the Nike app that I use and the MapMyRun app that both of my partners use aren't quite aligned to each other.  MapMyRun is right on with what the Prairie Path mileage and the actual map mileage were for these runs, so it's what I'm sticking to.
April 27th - 9 Miles with Logan
Running the streets of Tinley Park - How can they call it a suburb?
Total 1:43:11
May 5th - 10 Miles with Meeshie
Prairie Path run from her house to Wheaton
Total 1:48:08
So my friend, Amee, asked me if I've ever had a bad run.  She said it's important to get a really bad one out of the way.  But I haven't.  I really LOVE running with friends.  I certainly could never find nearly 2 hours to chat these ladies up on the telephone - or even in person, for that matter - without one of our kids needing something.  These long runs have been the most selfish and wonderful uses of my weekend mornings.  That's a lie.  The 10 miler was not wonderful.  I had my first experience of nearly shitting myself.  I've heard of this - like some kind of runner's urban legend.  And if one of my girlfriends lived 3 houses east of where she lives, and if her back door hadn't been opened exactly 3 seconds after I pounded on it, and had I needed to explain why I was bursting into her quiet house at 9:00 on a Saturday morning dripping in sweat, I would have experienced it.  But now I know I can do 10 miles.  What's a 5K more?  So far...the runs are extreme highs.  And...I'm getting faster.  I didn't think to pause the Nike app while having my little experience - so that time should be subtracted from this!
Here's the end of that run, including a little cool down!
Only 9 minutes longer than the week before.

This post is getting to be too long!

I fell asleep during Mad Men last night.  Thanks 10 miles and then Sesame Street Live.  I've got priorities, and Don Draper is waiting.  So I'll leave you with a few shots of what I've been wearing over the last month.  Nothing special.  For the most part, the weather has been dismal, and therefore I've been trying my best to think spring!
Night out of Whirlyball with B
Celebrating Logan's fiance's birthday
Cardigan, shirt, and tank all Target
Jeans - Express
Boots - old
Necklace - Loft outlet
I think it was a high of 60 this day.
Sometimes you've just got to break out the sandals.
Long-sleeve striped t - Target
Gray T - Limited
Pants - Ann Taylor
Sandals - Rainbow
Dove Necklace - Tiffany
Shirt that I probably should have tucked in - Old Navy
Skirt and gray tights - Target
Necklace - Loft outlet
Boots - old
Crazy Eyes - all mine
And the extreme high - Flowers at work from B
We've just begun our 14th year together
I can count on one hand the times I've received flowers - and these were "just because"