Happiness in the Form of Sweatpants

I’ve been very busy lately gearing up for the NYC marathon this Sunday. Not only am I managing Robin Hood’s team of 100 runners again this year, but I’m also running. It has been crazy busy the past two weeks and as a result I’m feeling a little under the weather today.

Nothing helps fix that better than a package from my sister. Especially when that package contains a sweet nike top and the most comfortable, oversized mens sweatpants.

I opened the package 5 minutes ago, put the sweatpants on 3 minutes ago and starting feeling better 2 minutes ago.

Thanks, Abby, for always knowing exactly what I need!

Welcome to the Neighborhood

When I was about four years old, my family moved into the house that I spent the bulk of my childhood in, and where my parents still live. When we first moved in, there was a family living in the house across the street who had a boy about the same age as my sister and me. Unfortunately, they moved a few years later and the house remained empty for four or five years.

Our neighborhood had a lot of other familes, including two of my best friends Tracy and Lindsay. Even though Lindsay’s family lived on the street behind us, I actually met her at Sunday School. I know — you are shocked to hear that I went to Sunday School. Let me be clear, I think we went a total of six times before swim meets, soccer games and various other sporting events starting getting in the way. Thankfully, during those six Sundays, I was able to meet Lindsay and form one of the best friendships that would remain with me all the way through eighth grade.

Lindsay and me - 1993
Lindsay and me – 1993
Another year, another soccer team
Another year, another soccer team

Early in our friendship, Lindsay (or her mom) introduced me to the family that lived down the street from them, including their daughter Tracy, who was the same age as Lindsay and me. And then there were three.

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Here we are doing our best Sandy impression before the 7th grade sock hop

We spent many weekends and day throughout the summer riding bikes around the neighborhood and “playing” at each other’s houses. I remember going over the Lindsay’s house to catch frogs in the swamp in her backyard, playing basketball (a sport that I was horrible at, and Lindsay was great), carpooling to soccer games in her parent’s van, which had a tv and video console, and making totally inedible food in her easy bake over. At Tracy’s house, I remember jumping on her trampoline, playing Sonic the Hedgehog on her Sega System (more accurately, watching since I was horrible at video games) and making apple crisp with her mother and younger sister. I also remember countless birthday parties including one where we camped out in a giant tent in Lindsay’s front yard and another where we got to play dress up, put on make up and have a tea party at Tracy’s.

Here I am all dolled up at Tracy's party.
Here I am all dolled up at Tracy’s party.

They were great neighbors and amazing friends. I can’t imagine living near anyone else.

When I was about  12 or 13 years old, someone finally moved into the house across the street. It was a younger family with a 2 year old girl. I remember being so excited to get new neighbors. One morning, my mom, sister and I made monkey bread to bring over to our neighbors. In our household, we made monkey bread on Thanksgiving, Christmas morning and sometimes for birthday mornings. It was essentially the nicest gesture that we could think of. I remember wrapping it up, walking across the street and ringing the doorbell to introduce ourselves and welcome the new family to the neighborhood. It was very “Americana” and I loved it.

Matt and I have lived in our new apartment for a few months now. We haven’t really made many new friends and no one has brought us monkey bread.

Well, after the last four days, we’ve made our presence known… at least to our neighbors on our floor. Since Sunday, we’ve had multiple people come by our apartment to tell us that our utility closet was flooding. Every time we take a shower, a large pool of water has been seeping our of the utility closet and into the communal hallway. The maintenance crew has set up “wet floor/caution” signs and large fans to try and dry out the area. Unfortunately, the flooding continues to happen.

The best thing about living in an apartment building is that when something breaks, you can call someone to come fix it and you don’t have to pay a thing. The bad think about living in an apartment is when something breaks, your neighbors know and are annoyed with you.

Do you think we will be getting any “welcome to the neighborhood” gifts soon? Maybe new plumbing?

Bursting with Flavor

Tonight’s dinner is a good one for anyone who wants to use up some leftovers and/or for anyone who goes a little overboard at the farmers market on tomatoes.

Thanks to Carrian over at Oh, Sweet Basil, I was able to make this yummy, and relatively healthy, meal for dinner.

Easy Garden Skillet

Ingredients

6 turkey meatballs, cooked and chopped
1 small to medium zucchini, chopped
3/4 cup sugar sweet or sunshine tomatoes
3/4 cup grape or cherry tomatoes
1 heirloom tomato, chopped
1/3 cup marinara sauce
3/4 cup mozzarella cheese
olive oil and salt and pepper
*basil, chopped, optional

Directions

  1. drizzle a little olive oil in a skillet and heat to medium heat. add the zucchini and sprinkle with salt and pepper. saute for one minute and add the meatballs, tomatoes and sauce. cook until the tomatoes are big and bursting, zucchini is tender and everything is hot. sprinkle with cheese and add the lid to help melt the cheese, about 1 to 2 minutes.
  2. serve with fresh basil and more salt and pepper if needed.

The dish was great – I probably added a bit too much sauce. Just stick to the recipe. You won’t regret it.

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Oh, and can someone please let my husband know how lucky he is? Thanks.

 

How to Treat a Case of Boredom

When I was younger, I hated being bored. And my mom hated it even more.

“Mom… I’m bored. What can I do?”

So in order to keep myself entertained, I would spend some time thinking of things that I could potential be doing. This list would contain things like:

  1. Read for 30 minutes
  2. Rearrange the furniture in my room (this one was a favorite of mine, but didn’t always make my mom happy)
  3. Clean out my clothes
  4. Hold a lemonade stand
  5. Write a story
  6. Bake cookies
  7. Ride my bike around the block
  8. Make a mixed tape
  9. Make greeting cards
  10. Go outside and weed the flower beds (I never actually did this, but I would put it on the list)

Once I had a sufficient list, I would put write them each on small pieces of paper and put them in a jar. I would then pull them out and start doing each activity, one by one. Yup, I turned making to do lists into a game… at the age of 8.

This past weekend Matt and I literally had zero plans. We went out with our friends who just moved to Brooklyn on Friday night and then basically did nothing the rest of the weekend. I loved it… Matt was bored. So he started making to do lists for our apartment.

Now anyone who walks into our apartment would probably think it looks pretty good. The only thing you might notice are our lack of chairs around our dining table or the lack of pictures on the walls (which you would soon realize are all on the floor behind the couch). Well, apparently Matt is was SO bored this weekend that he decided to point out every little thing that we need to get done. That didn’t bother me too much. What bothered me was that he then wanted to cross every single thing off the to do list, within the next 5 minutes.

Here is the list he created:

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Main Bedroom

  1. Buy a bed
  2. Hang photos
  3. Purchase two IKEA rast dressers, and update them to look like this for bedside tables (please ignore the face that this one is in a nursery. Yes, I have the same taste as a 6 month old).
  4. Buy a rug, or rugs

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Living Room/Kitchen

  1. Buy an oversized piece of art for the living room
  2. Buy a bar cart (like this one) and accessorize it. Ok, Matt didn’t want to accessorize it. I’m not even sure he knows what that means.
  3. Buy chairs for our dining table. I want these but I can’t stomach the price. Anyone know where I can find similar ones?
  4. Determine if we want another bookshelf in the living room
  5. Buy new couches, coffee table, and rug (long term)

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Second Bedroom/Matt’s Office

  1. Hang pictures
  2. Buy a duvet cover for the comforter
  3. Buy a floor lamp
  4. Move bedside table from main bedroom into this room once the new bedside tables are done
  5. Buy a rug

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Molly’s Craft Nook

  1. Hang pictures
  2. Accessorize desktop (again, my addition, not Matt’s)
  3. Buy a new computer (I’m torn between a desktop and a laptop).

Hasn’t he ever read Young House Love? They get stuff done but in a well thought-out manner. They aren’t rushing around trying to get everything done in one weekend.

Thankfully Matt compromised and just told me that I needed to get two things crossed off the list.

We had a few other, non-apartment things on our to-do this, so at the end of the weekend, we had accomplished the following:

  1. Purchased two rugs for our main bedroom
  2. Purchased a floor lamp for the second bedroom/Matt’s office
  3. Hung up some pictures in both bedrooms and my craft nook
  4. Made attempt number #1 at an apple pie with a lattice crust (part of my fall to do list). Unfortunately it didn’t come out that well… looks like I will be trying again next weekend
  5. Planned 3 dinners for the upcoming week and purchased everything from the grocery store

And finally, Matt booked a vacation for us this November; a post-marathon celebration. I guess it pays to keep him bored. I end up with a trip to Mexico and the apartment starts coming together! That’s a whole lot better than the 75 cents that I would raised at my lemonade stands back in the day.

A Fall BBQ

I don’t know what got into me, but tonight, I decided I would crush it as a wife. And I have to say, I delivered. Pull pork, baked beans and an apple cheesecake.

Yup, that’s what being a good wife looks like.

The pulled pork was really good and fairly easy (due to the fact that I made it in my crock pot). The most difficult part was cutting up the onions, which left my hands smelling like onion all day long.

You can find the recipe here.

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The baked beans were from a recipe that Matt and I experienced for the first time this summer. We were visiting our friend, Jimmy, at this cape house. Remember, this one. Well anyway, Jimmy’s mother made the most amazing baked beans when we were visiting for the weekend. I’ve dreamed about them a few times since that weekend. So I decided to ask for the recipe and make them along with my pulled pork.

When Matt saw that I was making baked beans, his first question was “are these going to be as good as the ones Jimmy’s mom made?”

Predictable.

“I hope so since I am using her recipe.”

Cue Matt dancing around the kitchen with glee.

To insight your own dance party, follow this recipe:

  1. Fry 3 slices of bacon, once cooled chop and set aside.
  2. Saute 1/2 cup of chopped onions
  3. Stir in: 28 oz of B & M baked beans, 1/2 cup BBQ sauce, 1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar, 1 Tablespoon mustard and bacon.
  4. Bring to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes.
  5. Eat and enjoy!

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The last step was to make dessert. Naturally I turned to my Apple cookbook.

Lemon Apple Cheesecake

Ingredients

Crust-
1 cup crushed graham crackers
1/2 cup ground almonds (I substituted vanilla powder instead)
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Filling-
3 medium granny smith apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
3 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
24 oz cream cheese
6 oz sour cream
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon rind
2 large egg whites

*you should bring cream cheese, sour cream and eggs to room temperature

Preparation

  1. Preheat over to 300 degrees F and position rack in lower third of over. Grease a 9 1/2 inch springform cake pan, and line base with parchment paper.
  2. Prepare crust: In a medium bowl, mix together graham crackers, almonds and butter. Press mixture into base of pan; then refrigerate for about 15 minutes, or until firm.
  3. Prepare filling: In a medium bowl toss together apples and 2 tablespoons lemon juice until apples are coated.
  4. In a medium saucepan, heat butter over medium heat until melted. Stir in 2 tablespoons sugar, cinnamon and apples, and cook for about 5 minutes, or until apple are tender and golden. Set aside.
  5. In a large bowl, beat cream cheese, sour cream and remaining 3/4 cup sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time; then stir in lemon rind and remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice.
  6. In a small bowl, beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Gently fold egg whites into cream cheese mixture until combined.

Arrange apples evenly over crust; then pour cheese mixture on top. Bake for about 70 minutes, or until sides are set, but center is still a bit woobly. Turn off heat, open oven door, and let cake sit inside oven for 30 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely, then refrigerate for at least 8 hours before serving.

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Even though the cheesecake cracked, the evening was a success. And now, Matt gets to do this

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I think he is starting to think that microwavable dinners aren’t so bad.

Let’s Get Saucey

The apple madness continues with my favorite, apple sauce.

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I was a very picky eater growing up (sorry Mom) and there were many nights when I would skip out on the entrée, the vegetable and basically everything on my plate and eat a bowl full of warm homemade applesauce. YUM!

This recipe was easy, didn’t call for sugar (it uses honey instead) and makes your whole house smell amazing.

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Ingredients

6 fuji apples, peeled, cored and quartered
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 cup unfiltered apple juice
2 tablespoons butter
3 table spoons honey
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Directions

  1. In a medium sauce pan, mix together apples, lemon juice, apple juice, butter, honey, and cinnamon. Cover and cook over medium heat for 15 to 20 minutes or until apples are soft.
  2. mash with a potato masher* to achieve desired consistency. Serve warm or chilled. May be stored in refrigerator for up to two weeks.

*I used my immersion blender

The recipe only makes two cups, which in my book isn’t enough. I would definitely recommend doubling it, especially if you want to use some of the applesauce to make apple butter!

Soup for Two

IMG_0710After participating in Applefest this past weekend, I was left with a giant bag of apples.

So I did what anyone else would do – I started researching recipes that called for apples. I turned to my trusty Apple cookbook that Matt’s sister gave us for Christmas a few years ago.

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Even though it was humid out, I wanted to make soup for dinner on Sunday. I decided upon a carrot, apple and ginger soup recipe. The results were pretty good, although I ended up putting in some extra ground ginger at the end. And the recipe probably makes at least 6 servings, even though the recipe says that it serves 4.

And when I served the soup to Matt, it was like a mini lesson of Sesame Street, where the word of the day was “Parsnip” a new vegetable in Matt’s diet. He was skeptical at first, but after a few slurps of soup, he was sold.

Carrot, Apple and Ginger Soup

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons butter
1 leek, finely chopped
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
3 large carrots, peeled and finely chopped
2 large parsnips, peeled and finely chopped
3 golden delicious apples, peeled, cored and finely chopped
2 teaspoons ginger paste or minced fresh ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 tablespoons finely grated orange rind
1/2 teaspoon dried chili flakes
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
one 13-ounce can coconut cream (I used coconut milk)
2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons finely chopped mint
sale and freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

  1. In a large heavy-based sauce pan, heat butter over medium heat until melted. Add leek and celery, and saute for about 3 minutes, or until leek is transparent (this will smell so good).
  2. Stir in carrots, parsnips, apples, ginger, nutmeg, orange rind and chili flakes. Add soup stock, increase heat to high and bring to a boil. Immediately reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, for about 20 minutes, or until vegetables and apples are tender. Remove from heat and let cool.
  3. Transfer soup to a food processor or blender (I used my immersion blender) and blend until smooth. Pour into a clean sauce pan and mix in coconut cream, cilantro, and mint. Season with salt and pepper. Heat over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until hot. Transfer to individual bowls and garnish with cilantro and chili flakes before serving.

I had the soup again for lunch the next day and it was just as tasty! Enjoy!