Six Years

It’s our six year anniversary! I went back to look for wedding and honeymoon photos for this post and had a lovely stroll down memory lane.

2013

The day feels so crisp in my memory, but it also feels like a lifetime ago. I think primarily that’s because our day-to-day life has changed so much since having the twins. Like today, we spent the morning snuggled up in bed with them while they watched Curious George and we got an extra half hour of sleep, allowing us to get out of bed at the luxurious hour of 6:45. We wrangled them in the yard while I cleaned off the back porch and CW mowed the lawn, both of us legitimately excited to get these two neglected chores checked off. Right now, CW has taken them down to the neighborhood playground and I’m here enjoying the quiet house for a little while (a truly great gift!).

Tonight, though, we will head out on a date and enjoy some of our favorite special-occasion treats — fresh oysters, martinis, something wonderful for dinner, dessert with Really Good Coffee, and possibly an additional drink at a Second Location — and we’ll get a lyft back home so no one has to be the driver. We’ll get to have a whole night of enjoyable conversation without (we hope) anyone interrupting us to scream about anything.

I braved my TimeHop app today for oyster photos (please note that is November 9, 2019 and therefore I only looked back at the previous two years; I could not really bear to go back three years to see the morning-after-the-election tears) just to show you our tradition. I’ll make sure to snap another one tonight!

2019 and better than ever

Fridays

I work from home on Fridays, so it’s a great opportunity for me to head out for a longer run on a day when it won’t eat into family time (just work time, heh). I love starting my day this way, and I often make it even more fun by running in a different part of town after dropping the kids off at school.

Their “school” is a daycare, by the way, which means that they have to provide meals— breakfast, lunch, and afternoon snack. They don’t also have to provide breakfast and coffee for parents, but they do. In the parents’ lounge just off the main entrance, there’s always a huge pot of coffee and a tray of something like muffins, mini bagels, or biscuits. But on Fridays, there are cinnamon rolls. Warm, soft, cinnamon rolls with a drizzle of icing on them. Y’all. They are SO GOOD.

What I’ve been doing is grabbing one on my way out the door and leaving it in my car for post-run fuel. It’s not exactly still warm an hour later, but it’s still pretty damned delicious. Today I even leveled up by placing a mobile order with Starbucks to pick up right after my run so I had hot coffee to go with it. It’s taken me over forty years, but I feel like I’ve finally learned some things about how to do life.

November is Here

Today feels like one of those days when everything is coming together perfectly. The weather finally got cold, for one thing. I went out for a run this morning and needed long sleeves. I swear there is nothing more wonderfully invigorating than a long-ish run in the cold.

Long-ish, you know. Long-er. Long-adjacent. I went for 6.2 miles today, also known as 10 kilometers. Not on purpose; it just wound up being a perfect 10K route that I ran serendipitously and by feel. The trees are starting to turn; the sidewalks are littered with the pine needles, acorns, and other seasonal detritus; the parks are full of older people walking their dogs and children collecting leaves and sticks. At home afterward I had hot coffee waiting for me and a slice of leftover pumpkin bread I could pop in the toaster.

My main task for work today is to make some significant progress toward finishing the novel I’m teaching in a couple of weeks. It’s rare that I assign a book I haven’t yet read, but I have it on good authority that this one will be a great addition to my class, so it’s time to dig in. I suppose I’ll have to spend some amount of hours today reading, snuggled on the couch with a blanket and another cup of coffee. I cannot complain about this life. It’s a work-from-home day, by the way, which is what allows me to do things like go for a 6-mile run and then read on the couch all day on a Friday. Yes, I am grateful for the flexibility of my job and no, I do not take it for granted.

Tonight is Pizza Friday, and I am making a couple of New York-style pies featuring this dough recipe (which is pretty much flawless) and maybe the kids will be in a happy mood when they get home and maybe we’ll watch a movie and have some leftover Halloween candy. Hell, man; anything is possible.

Thanksgiving Eve

I don’t want to miss my daily blog post, but the kids came home from a half day at school and absolutely would not nap (preferred screaming) so it’s been all hands on deck.

I was planning to make my apple and pumpkin pies and the cranberry sauce tonight but I felt like I got run over by a truck (and by “a truck” I mean “endless toddler screaming x2”) and I told CW I might have to just make one pie and wait until Friday to make the other one. He was like, “OK, that’s fine! Whatever you need! Let me know how I can help!”

But then after the kids went to bed he immediately put on his apron and got me a drink and we made a game plan together to get all our prep done. He had already been planning to do the green bean casserole and then he jumped in and made the pumpkin pie filling and decorated it and did the cranberry sauce. All I had to do was the apple pie filling and the dough rolling (and I latticed and decorated the apple pie, which I’d been ready to forego, but I had the energy to do it with some of the other tasks taken off my list).

We always share the workload, but today was a real gold star for the team. Everything got done and we had a good time doing it. Phew.

Thanksgiving Prep

Let’s chat about Thanksgiving! I love getting prepared for the holiday and planning and making all of the food. So cozy! So festive! So much opportunity to drink coffee or wine or whatever and hang out in the kitchen.  It’s just the four of us on the day, but we’ll have friends over Saturday for pie and drinks. So far, we have planned our menu and done the shopping and made a plan for executing everything. Here’s what we’re doing:

Breakfast: cinnamon rolls, bacon, mimosas and/or Bloody Marys.

Turkey: CW is fully in charge of this. Will do Thursday, obviously.

Mashed Potatoes: also CW’s domain. He will probably make these on Thursday, but may do them ahead of time.

Roasted Root Vegetables: This one is mine. I’m doing sweet potatoes, carrots, parsnips, and onions with some simple olive oil, salt, and herbs, roasted until they start to caramelize. So good. Will do these on Thursday.

Green Bean Casserole: CW does this one. Will assemble Wednesday night and bake on Thursday.

Cranberry Sauce: Mine. Do you have a favorite recipe for this? I seem to remember not loving the one I did last year (too runny). Will do this Wednesday and chill overnight.

Apple Pie: Mine. I do a double crust with lattice and/or braiding of some kind. Crust recipe from Smitten Kitchen.

Pumpkin Pie: I do a single (traditional pastry) crust with some ornamentation on top. Filling recipe from the Libby’s can but I add more spices.

I’ve made the dough for the pie crusts already (did this tonight after the kids went to bed and enjoyed a glass of wine while working on it — perfect example of the spirit of Thanksgiving) and will make fillings and bake them both tomorrow evening.

In the past, I have also done a Tofurky or Celebration Roast for a vegetarian option, but this year, I think I will just stick to sides as vegetarian options. (I am the only person who cares and I just have limited resources and don’t want to make an additional protein if I’m the only one eating it.)

We don’t generally do stuffing, so I should probably pick up some bread or rolls or something, right? I forgot about that. I also need to buy some sugar, which I just realized we are almost out of.  Hmmm. Am I forgetting anything else?

 

Recipe: BBQ Tofu Salad

If you don’t like tofu, this tofu may convert you. If you don’t like salad, well, then just skip this one.

File Nov 16, 7 13 27 PM

The best thing about this recipe is the tofu procedure, to be honest. It makes tofu that is flavorful and has a great crispy-chewy texture. It’s my favorite way to make tofu lately.

Tofu Prep:

Freeze the block of tofu overnight and thaw in the morning by placing it in a bowl of hot water in the sink. If you don’t have time for this step, you can skip it, but don’t blame the sub-par tofu texture & flavor on me. Freezing it causes all the water in the tofu to expand, making little holes throughout the block, essentially turning it into a sponge after you drain it — all the better to soak up your marinade. It also creates a chewier texture in the end, making the tofu better in all ways that matter.

Squeeze the block of tofu between two cutting boards or just between your two flat palms. Be gentle enough not to break or crumble it, but firm enough that you see A LOT of water draining out. The more water you get out, the better. You’re going to replace this water with delicious flavor.

Cut into small cubes (or triangles, if you feel fancy)

Tofu marinade:

  • 1-2 T oil (olive or vegetable)
  • splash liquid smoke (this shit is key)
  • splash hot sauce (your fave – I used Cholula today)

Bake the Tofu:

Toss tofu in marinade. It should immediately soak up all the liquid because you’ve made it into a sponge.

Spread out pieces on a baking sheet (lightly prayed with non-stick spray if you like)

Bake at 425 for 25-30 minutes or until the edges are getting browned and slightly crisp.

While the tofu is baking, skip down and make the salad & dressing but don’t forget to come back up here and glaze!

Glaze the Tofu:

Put pieces of baked tofu into a non-stick pan over medium-low heat with about 1/2 cup of barbecue sauce. I use some from a bottle and I have no shame about this. Our favorite is from a local restaurant, but if we don’t have the time to go there, we’ll grab a bottle of Stubb’s Sweet Heat at the grocery store.

Stir occasionally. When the glaze is reduced and sticky, you’re ready to go. It should take about 5 minutes.

Salad:

  • shredded kale from a bag (pick out and discard the stems, I beg you)
  • shredded red cabbage
  • corn (use grilled corn if it’s summer and you have some; canned or frozen otherwise)
  • 1/2 avocado

Salad Dressing:

  • 1 part sugar
  • 1 part apple-cider vinegar
  • 1 part oil (olive or vegetable)
  • celery seed to taste
  • grainy mustard to taste
  • salt and pepper to taste

Make the Dressing:

Heat apple cider vinegar and sugar over low heat, stirring just until sugar is dissolved. Add oil and seasonings. Let cool.

File Nov 16, 7 13 44 PM

Assemble:

Toss kale in dressing, “massaging” (I’m sorry) the kale until it’s wilted a bit. Then add cabbage and toss again. You don’t need to “massage” the cabbage.

Top with corn, sliced avocado, and sticky glazed tofu.

Take this to the next level with some pickled red onions. (I’ll share that recipe another day!)

 

Fitness & Food Highlights: Week 3

Happy Monday, friends.

This morning, I attempted to start my Monday as I have so many Mondays before: with a workout at the campus rec center, a shower, and then a day at the office working on work stuff. ALAS! I was thwarted! It’s the week between semesters, so I should have known better, but I failed to check the rec center schedule and arrived there at 7:45 this morning, dressed in my most fashionable spandex and ready to work out, only to find that they would not be open until 11:00. Well, shit.

So there I was. My only real option was to head to my office and work, planning to return to the gym at the end of the day instead. Not wanting to waddle up to my department wearing workout gear, however, I stopped on the way there at the student center to change clothes in the bathroom.  I had not showered (because I would have done that after my workout, of course) and I didn’t have any of the usual beauty/hygeine items with me because they were in my locker, at the gym, which was not open.

As I write this post, I am in my office, unshowered, with greasy hair, no deodorant,  no makeup, and no workout. And I had to get dressed in a bathroom stall. How very, very Monday of you, MONDAY.

Well. Let’s what happened last week, shall we?

Fitness goals: Run ten miles (YES!), do at least one strength workout (no!), workout at least 5 days (yes!)

Monday: Elliptical (45:00). I have been watching Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. while on the elliptical. A++, would recommend.

Tuesday: Ran 2.1 miles with the twins in the jogging stroller (26:00). I improved a bit on this jogging stroller run, running more of the total route. The heat-humidity-hills combo is totally killer, but I am making it work.  Can I get three miles next time?

Wednesday: Rest Day.

Thursday: Ran 3 miles on the treadmill (32:22). This was, I believe, my fastest 3 miler postpartum! I ran the first and last miles at an easy pace and did intervals during the middle mile, one minute fast + one minute slow. Fast pace was about 9:30 and slow pace was…I forget. 10:30, maybe? Felt pretty good!

Friday: Arc Trainer (20:00) and inclined walking on the treadmill (30:00). First time trying the Arc Trainer, which was not my favorite. Something about the movement feels a little herky-jerky to me. I’m not sure what the difference is between this and the elliptical exactly, or if one is supposed to be “better” in some way, but this was not my favorite (which is why I only stayed on for 20 minutes).

Saturday: Rest Day.

Sunday: Ran 5 miles on the treadmill (55:00). Woo hoo! A pretty nice new postpartum personal distance record (PDR)! This felt really good. I slowly increased the pace for the first four miles (while still keeping it relatively relaxed) and then slowed back down during mile five. This is the run that brought my weekly total up to the 10 miles I’ve been shooting for, too, so it was a double win.

Thai tofu salad with zucchini instead of lettuce 👍Latergram from Saturday night. Pear and Gorgonzola ravioli.

Food Highlights from the week: My Thai tofu and peanut sauce served salad-style with this shredded zucchini and carrots. So good, and the leftovers were just as nice. Also, I had a lovely pear and gorgonzola ravioli for dinner Saturday when CW and I went out (taking the babies with us, because we don’t have our shit together enough yet to get a babysitter). Lovely and delicious and probably way too many calories, but enh. I stuck to my goals the rest of the week.

This week’s weigh-in revealed a 1.6-pound loss, for a total of 7 pounds down so far. Feeling pleased. Let’s see if I can keep the streak alive this week!