Friday, May 31, 2013

I have a Green Thumb!!! (no wait, that's just paint)

Well, I did it (Cue the Dora song after they cross Chocolate River and make it to Magic Mountain...) 
I've started my container garden in my screened porch and I've managed to A) Keep the plants alive for a WHOLE week now! and B)  Plant itty bitty seeds in pots and they are actually starting to grow!  Did you hear that, people?  They. Are. Growing. Hi, I'm Melissa and I can work magic.  It's almost like I didn't really believe that anything would happen when I planted seeds in the dirt and watered them.  Like it only worked for people who knew what words like "harvest" and "soil" meant. 

YAY!!  I works!   It really works! 

This is exciting on several levels.  First and foremost - I can now join the ranks of those who run around in big floppy sun hats and floral print gardening gloves who say things like "I need to get some gardening done this weekend" with a pained look of obligation on my face as I stare up into the bright sun and wipe sweat from my furrowed brow.  No one knows exactly what I'll be doing, but I'll tell you what - they won't ask any questions.  Nobody questions someone in a floppy sun hat who runs around making bold statements like that.

Second, I have actually followed through with one of my small goals that I made months ago.  This is kind of a big deal considering most of the time it's difficult to follow through with the simplest of tasks.  Something as simple as say....folding a load of laundry can turn into a full blow fiasco when you have 2 kids who are hell bent on keeping you from doing anything productive by doing things like sprinkling a vat of glitter in each others hair then painting the dog's tail yellow with finger paint. 

In any event...having goals is up for me: convincing Brian it's a good idea to foster dogs for the Doberman Rescue  ;)

Monday, May 20, 2013

The Mom-lympics

If climbing over baby gates was an Olympic sport, I'm pretty sure I'd have a gold medal. I can clear a baby gate...on a step, with a full laundry basket in my arms (which also, incidentally, contains a sleeping cat I felt too bad to wake)...while talking on the phone to my mother.  In the dark.  During an earthquake.  Ok, that last part was for dramatic effect, but you catch my drift.   Needless to say, there are baby gates all over my house - one separating the dog from the playroom so she doesn't eat Lauren's Barbie Collection.  Another at the bottom of the stairs so that the dog and the kids don't chase each other up and down the stairs all day...because you know, the 3 of them have to live dangerously.  Another in the hallway where the dog drinks her water...because after she drinks water, she drools so incredibly badly, that if we don't either wipe her mouth immediately or contain her somewhere....she will soak the floor and we will actually slip on mastiff drool.  I'm not kidding...this is what goes on in my house.  One of the hazards is "Mastiff Drool".  And it's slippery.  That dog drinks some water and shakes her've got "slingers" in places you'd never expect.  Ah, the nuances of having a large dog. I love her to pieces, though.  She's my 3rd baby...drool and all.

Anyway, last night when I was up at my usual 3am feeding the cats, I got to thinking about the amount of hours I've spent in say the last 3 years climbing over baby gates.  Does that count as exercise?  It totally should. The daily Mom stuff in and of itself should be a gym circuit...offered at places like Planet Fitness.  Then I thought how great it would be to have a Mom-A-Thon, or the Mom-lympics.  Sort of like a Triathalon or Iron Man type of event....but for moms...involving all the "mom activites" we partake in on a daily basis.  I'm just spitballin' here....but here's a rough idea of the events that would be included....

EVENT 1:  Physical Portion:  Gate Hurdling....Mom's have to hurdle gates in a number of scenarios...carrying groceries or with a screaming toddler on their hip.  There would also be points awarded for getting over the gate without a foot touching it. Disqualification if you get your foot stuck in the gate and fall into it face first.

EVENT 2:  Cooking Portion:  PB & J Making:   Mom's would have 15 minutes to make as many peanut butter& jelly sandwiches as possible - taking special care that there are equal amounts of both ingredients and of course cutting the crusts off ever so carefully.  Winners would be decided by a group of actual hungry toddlers doing taste testing.  For example, my Benjamin (3) would reject any PB&J that had too much jelly.  It's a delicate balance.  Just a touch too much jelly and that sandwich would get tossed aside. 

EVENT 3:  Multitasking Portion:  Mom's have to plan a family menu for the week then write a grocery list to coincide...while at the same time texting with another mom trying to plan a playdate, while your kids talk at you the entire time.  This is when I kind of go into a robot mode and use a lot of "Mmm Hmmms"  with the kids...trying to engage with them while doing 47 other things.  This is usually when they ask if they can have a ferret, to which I absentmindedly answer "Mmmm Hmmm"...and then we have another issue on our hands.   Flash scene to 2 hours later - driving home from the grocery store with the kids in the back screaming "But you SAID, Mommy!  YOU SAID WE COULD GET A FERRET!!!!"  Extra points awarded to the mom who can make their kids forget about getting a caged animal.

EVENT 4:  Talent Portion:  Mom's sing Karyoke to the Dora The Explorer Theme Song.

EVENT 5:  Sanity Portion:  Grocery Shopping with tired, grumpy kids who are overdue for a nap - Mom's need to get all items on the shopping list in a set amount of time without taking a Xanex before leaving the house.  Extra points awarded to moms who don't have a nervous breakdown at the checkout. 

The prize awarded at the end to one lucky mom would be like a spa pedicure, lunch on the beach, and bunch of those baby gates that have the opening door...where you can step on the bottom and it magically swings open.  But then, what would I do for exercise if not climbing over the gates 342 times a day??

Friday, May 17, 2013

Thai Salad With Sliced Chicken & Peanut Lime Dressing

I found a recipe on Pinterest for Choppped Thai Chicken Salad that looked sooooooo yummy that I just had to try it!  The only problem was that it called for some strange ingredients that I either had no idea what they were, couldn't find, or just wasn't comfortable putting in a salad (fish oil...BLEH!)  So I tweaked the ingredients and changed some things around and came up with a simplified version that's absolutely yumm-o-licious!  Here's what you'll need...

2 Cups shredded ICEBERG Lettuce (perfect texture & crunch for this salad!)
1 Cucumber - Diced or Shaved
1 Large Carrot - Diced or Shaved
1/2 Cup Diced Scallions (aka - green onions)
1/4 Cup Diced Fresh Cilantro
1 large or 2 small boneless skinless chicken breast
Thai Kitchen Sweet Red Chili (pictured below) - found in Thai aisle at any grocery store

1/4 Cup Water
1/4 Cup Peanut Butter
2 Cloves Minced Garlic
2 Tablespoons Soy Sauce
2 Tablespoons White Vinegar
1 heaping Tablespoon Sugar
2 Tablespoons Fresh Lime Juice
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil

1) Slather Raw Chicken Breasts with 3 Tablespoons of Thai Kitchen Sweet Red Chili and either grill or bake Chicken until cooked through and set aside. (I basted chicken with additional Sweet Red Chili Sauce as it was cooking - YUM!)
2)  Combine Iceberg Lettuce, Cucumber, Carrot, Scallions & Cilantro in large salad bowl and store in fridge to keep cool while you make the dressing

3) In a separate small bowl combine the Olive Oil, Lime Juice, Vinegar, Soy Sauce, Sugar, Garlic and Water and whisk until thoroughly mixed.  Add in the Peanut Butter and whisk until smooth and creamy.  

4)  Slice Chicken up and serve atop Salad - Drizzle dressing over top and serve immediately. 

Monday, May 13, 2013

Mother's Day 2013

My babies & I

 First, I hope all my mommy readers had a wonderful Mother's Day!  I'm kind of thinking it should be "Mother's Week" instead of just one day :)   Can you imagine??   A week of pampering and well behaved kids??  Ahhh, one can dream!   But my Mother's Day was great - relaxing and low key.  When Brian asked me what I wanted to do I instantly thought of sitting in the backyard in the sun sipping wine while watching a hot handyman with the body of Channing Tatum chop wood with no shirt on..the beach.  So that's what we did.  We packed snacks and the kids beach toys and headed to the beach.  It's still "off season" here in CT, so although the beaches are open, there were just a few scattered families there.  It was so quiet and peaceful.  I think I'm more of an "off season" girl.  Like taking a trip to a really touristy place when it's off season and only some of the restaurants are open and there's no traffic and hardly any people.  Something about that is just magical.  I think I need to live in a New England beach town year round so I can enjoy having it all to myself before Memorial Day and after Labor Day.  Anyway, yesterday's weather was perfect at right around 70 degrees...great for dipping our little piggies in the ice cold ocean and then laying on our blanket soaking up a little sun. 

On the drive to the beach, I told Brian that I would be thrilled with 15 minutes of quiet time at the ocean.  15 minutes of laying in the sun while everyone played nicely. Before the...."Mommy, I need a drink""Mama I need to go potty"..."MAMA, Lauren poured sand down my pants..."  started.  So I was pleasantly surprised when we had 2 hours of relaxing family time.  The kids made sandcastles and then Brian took them for a walk around the rocks leaving me with some PRECIOUS alone time where I laid on the beach and listened to the ocean and actually had....wait for it.....UNINTERRUPTED THOUGHTS.  That never happens!  99.9% of my thoughts are interrupted by someone asking for a cookie or asking me to cut out shapes for an art project.  (Most of the time the kids, but sometimes it's Brian ;)  But I think the ocean is therapeutic...I feel so good being there - especially when there's not a beachful of teenagers playing frisbee over my head as often is the case in the summer months. Anyway, I came to some real epiphanies, if you will.  I need to spend more time at the beach....I need to start meditating - this is something I've been interested in for a while, but just haven't made the time to start doing it.  I also really want to start making some healthy recipes and eating more whole foods.  And finally, I need a goal based check list.  Don't ask me what those goals are first goal is to set goals for the check list. ;)   A bucket list of sorts.  But I need one and there's no reason on earth why one of those goals can't involve a cooking lesson with a Ryan Reynolds look alike....just sayin'.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Gardens & Trees & Shrubs, Oh My!

Our yard is full of rare trees, shrubs & plants - some of which aren't even meant to be grown in our area of the country.  The previous homeowners were arborists and actually ran a full fledged landscaping business out of the house.  They had a greenhouse on the property and were very passionate about this yard. The time, care & love literally just radiates from the yard.  It's awesome.  Here's the irony of it - I've never had what you'd call a "green thumb".  I have actually managed to kill every house plant I ever had by way of over or under watering, and one actually met it's demise after an incident involving a bissel steam cleaner with a faulty hose attachment...but we won't go there right now.  Anyway, I haven't cared for a house plant (or anything green) for quite some time....which actually works out since there are florists and garden centers in the area who have me on a "Do Not Sell To" list.  I've been "blackballed" my most plant & flower retailers in the Boston area, as well. 

So you can see the irony here.  When Brian & I first looked at the house it was in January - the ground was snow covered, and although we could tell there were lots of a trees and a nice yard - we had NO IDEA what kind of work would be involved.  By the time we closed on the house and moved in, it was summer and we looked around the yard admiringly, and kind of assumed the work was already done and that the yard was "self sufficient".  I'm not kidding - we actually had a conversation about the yard maintaining itself.  That's how clueless we were.  The previous owner had left us a folder of information we may need at some point, and some basic instructions on caring for some of the trees.  There was a paper with the name of a gardening company noting it was the place they used to prune the dogwood.  After an exhaustive search of the yard, I couldn't locate the dogwood.  I googled it, and as it turned out - the dogwood was the big tree right outside the kitchen window.  Right...of course...the dogwood...I knew that. 

So we did nothing that was all we could do to move in and get settled with 2 kids under 2. We figured we'd deal with the yard the next year.  Flash scene to the following May when the yard had basically taken on a life of it's own and transformed itself into a jungle - you couldn't get through it without a machete.  There were troops practicing military operations in the brush, crawling around in the tall grass with black paint under their eyes.  Shipwrecks that had gone missing from years past were located in a remote corner of the yard, and we actually found 2 members of the former 80's band "A HA" back there.  After they performed a rendition of the hit "Take On Me", they were on their way and we realized it was time we put our focus on the yard.  It was WAYYYYYYY more work than we had ever anticipated.  It's kind of like purchasing a house that, unbeknownst to you, has a fully functioning Dunkin' Donuts in the basement.  When you first move in and discover it... the wafting smell of coffee and muffins, you think COOL.  But then you realize that workers are showing up at 4am to start their shifts and the time clock is in your bedroom, and you're responsible for growing the coffee beans to supply said Dunkin Donuts.  Well suddenly it's way more than you bargained for.  So we called for help and thankfully, John showed up.  Or, as we like to call him - The Google Of Gardeners.  Needless to say he whipped this yard into shape in no time.

And here I am...going on the 3rd summer in this house and I'm really getting to know my yard :)  I can appreciate the needs of my dogwood, and the plants no longer cower when they see me coming.  I'm actually going to try my hand at a garden this year.  It's going to be an indoor vegetable garden on a screened in porch.  I'm cleaning out the area now to make way for planters.  I'll be planting over the next few weeks...and the kids are very excited about it, too.  I'm excited to be following through with this project and learning more about gardening.   I'll be posting pics of our progress...and honestly I will be SO excited if I can get anything edible to grow.  Oh, and also if I can get my kids to eat any of the veggies.  Time to put on my fake glasses & mustache so I can go incognito to purchase my garden supplies.