Thirsty Thursday

Thirsty Thursday used to be when we’d go to a bar in college and drink horrible mixed drinks and the cheapest beer we could get.

Today, I’m just happy I managed to have a cup of coffee, at least 3 of my big tumblers of water, and 2 juices lovingly made by Jason. I’ve got another greenie waiting in the fridge, and if I’m lucky…there is a glass of red wine in my very near future.

But I’m still thirsty. I don’t know exactly what for, besides that glass of red – obviously. But there’s a lot. I think we’re all thirsty for things…that’s what drives us, or at least me, to do, to try, to achieve.

And, just like that, just now…The Perfectionista’s Thirsty Thursday was born!

It’s not really about drinking – although I will share when I find something particularly tasty – but it’s about things we thirst for. And by we, I mean me. But maybe you’re thirsty for that same goal, or maybe you’ll share your goal with the rest of us.

That would be cool, just like hanging out at Tequila Grill with a bunch of people we didn’t really know, but were connected to by collegiate thirstiness.

So my first thirst, because for once I’d like to focus on one thing at a time, is to be more organized. To do start a big spring clean and feel some zen. I should start smaller…

But first things first…

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What are you thirsty for this week?

All You Need is Love

It’s true. I think.

It doesn’t matter who you love, or who loves you…or what for that matter. Sometimes, it’s the snuggle of a four-legged friend that fills the need. A friend or a kind stranger. Or an iguana. A fish will do. But love and be loved, and the world will go round. And the world will be a better place for it, trust me.

I came to the sad realization that I haven’t posted in months. I have sensed something missing, and this is it. I love this blog, but I needed to take a break to be a better daughter and mom and wife. That break turned into a complete break in routine, and now I need it back.

Mom is doing quite well. God love Dana Farber. Her treatment ended right after Thanksgiving and she has the cutest hair again! (And at 66, she doesn’t need to color it either…even after chemo!)

The girls are good and back to normal now that mom’s better, and normal means their old antics…but it keeps us laughing about life!

The dogs are still causing a ruckus, but Larry is finally coming out of puppyhood and is totally lovable!

And the love of my life. He is amazing. He embraces every ounce of crazy that is the family he married into and the family we’ve built. He loves me, flaws and all, and even when we’re at our worst, I feel his love. We’re going to be celebrating our 10th anniversary next week, a little delayed, and the timing couldn’t be more perfect.

But when we get back, I’m getting back into my routine.

Right now, I’m watching my littlest love at her gymnastics class. She can drive me batty, but she is a beautiful little snuggle bug and those dimples, OH those dimples. They are definitely her saving grace! But look at her! She, as unfocused as a 6 year old can be, is popping herself into a hand stand, graceful as a butterfly, and exactly unlike me. I love her to the moon and back. It’s the littlest things that remind us of the greatest.

I hope you feel love, and spread love.

Just love.

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An Untraditional Fourth

No cookout. No beach or lake. No kids or Jason, even. (That last one wasn’t fun.)

However, I had some freedom! I took the day (until 11pm, when I couldn’t stay away from my email any longer) to do stuff that I have needed/wanted to do for ages at the house!

I painted our master bath.  Lucky for me, its tiny, so I was done by early afternoon! (This is good. I’m an impatient painter…)

I was definitely done with blah.

And now…a beautiful blue! With cute little shelves!

 

I felt so accomplished, that after a quick lunch…we tackled the garage!

I know, that sounds exciting. Really. But when you consider that we moved in 4 years ago and can now use that bay for a car…its pretty darn exciting!!

Then, to wrap up my untraditional 4th, I had the most amazing dinner that Nonna cooked: goat chops, kale and chard with sausage, salad, broccoli, and jasmine rice. With some delightful red wine. Not a BBQ, but I couldn’t think of a better way to reward a hard day’s (not) work.

How did you celebrate our country’s birthday and your independence?

Purple Mac & Cheese? Aww yeah…

Yes, purple.  Well, kind of fuscia purple-ish…but close enough!

Let me start from the beginning – well, at least from yesterday morning.  Patti and I took an early morning drive to Cape Ann via Starbucks for our Misto and Latte. There are some things we can’t live without…

She invited me to run the Twin Lights Half Marathon with her from Gloucester to Rockport and back again this coming May, so we had to check out the course before training begins. Woo Hoo!  Now, first, that’s an honor because its scary to run with other people.  At least for me it is, and she asked me to do it with her. And second, I’m so excited because its going to be a blast!!! We get to do things we’ve both been trying to make a priority (running/a half marathon and spending time with our girlfriends) but have found it really hard to do.

On the way home, we stopped at the Wayland Winter Farmer’s Market at Russell’s and visited one of my favorites – Winter Moon Farm.  The farmer, Michael Doctor, is delightful, and his carrots are seriously the best I have ever tasted. AND – they come in different colors! Did you know there are yellow and purple carrots?!?!?

After some delish spontaneous shopping, we headed to Target and then home. All before 11:30!

So we headed to the girls’ basketball game, then a birthday party for one of Maddy’s friends, and finally home to make dinner. You know, a typical Saturday!

The girls wanted homemade Mac & Cheese. I wanted vegetables. And both girls wanted to try the purple carrots… how was this going to work? I’m a big fan of compromise, so we had both, and darn it – it was awesome. I mean, really, actually awesome!

In honor of the Epiphany, I present to you the Three Kings’ Royal Mac & Cheese ~

 

The following recipe is for a double batch!

Ingredients:

  • 2 packages whole wheat elbow pasta
  • 2 T Olive Oil
  • 2 leeks, rinsed well and sliced thin
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 purple carrots, peeled and diced
  • 3 1/2 C skim Milk, divided
  • 6 T Whole Grain Pastry Flour
  • 2 C low-fat (no salt added) cottage cheese
  • 3-4 C shredded cheese (I used Gruyere, Swiss and Fontina)
  • 1 package frozen peas
  • 2-3 T panko bread crumbs
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees and spray a large glass baking dish with olive oil or cooking spray.
  2. Heat olive oil in a saute pan, and add garlic, leeks and carrots.  Cook on med-high heat for 5-6 minutes until leeks are softened.
  3. Puree sauteed mixture in a blender or food processor until combined, and purple! Set aside.
  4. Prepare pasta as directed on package.
  5. Drain pasta and return to pot.
  6. In a medium saucepan, heat 3C of skim milk until steaming. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour and remaining 1/2C milk until smooth.
  7. Pour flour mixture into heated milk, stirring/whisking constantly for 2 minutes, or until thickened. Add pureed carrots and leeks. Remove from heat.
  8. Add cheeses to milk and puree mixture, combine until smooth and a slightly lighter purple. Add salt and pepper to taste (not much!)
  9. Combine with pasta and add to prepared baking dish.  Top with panko crumbs, and bake at 450 for 25-30 minutes. (I like a bit longer so there are lots of crispy noodles!)
  10. Enjoy!!

This makes a TON, even for 6 of us, so it will make its first encore appearance in Maddy’s lunch tomorrow, at her request. Woot woot – that means it was good!!!

What is the strangest looking, yet totally delicious meal you’ve made recently?

The Perfectionista Does TV

Yes, I know…its been awhile.  Again.

But there is a lot in the works, and soon you will hear all about it!  But until I reveal all that ‘s been happening, I wanted to share my TV Debut as a healthy cooking expert.  Yes, me!  Woo Hoo!

So here it is:

Despite being nervous about this last-minute appearance, I loved it! Things have been a little batty lately, and this brought me back to how much I love to cook – even the simple things.

I think I’m going to start making simple cooking videos for the blog… but I need some ideas! Let me know what you would like to see for cooking videos!

Top Dish D-Lish

Before I talk about what a delicious time we had Friday night, I’m going to address the lingering question…where on earth has the Perfectionista been, and when do we get to hear all about the adventures of the past month?  Well…life has once again taken me captive, but I will say, although its been crazy, much as been enjoyable! There are a number of blog posts coming – most exciting of which is all about my half marathon experience in the happiest place on earth!!!  But, for now, you NEED to hear about last night!

First, I have to say that Exhale Magazine and the Banner Publications are great media partners with the American Heart Association.  In addition to featuring AHA recipes and survivor stories in their publications, they invited us to join them at Top Dish, a fundraiser for the Greater Boston Food Bank, to give out our new Simple Cooking with Heart dinner party kits.

    

Patti and I brought Larry and Jason and made date night out of it – we shared 120 kits with people AND had a great time. So let’s talk about what there was to love…FOOD. Lots of luscious, local food…and friendly faces sharing it!  Oh yes, and Patron…

Lolita prepared the most amazing tacos – Lobster Tacos.  Oh my… this was the first thing we sampled, and Jason, the Mainer that doesn’t do lobster, had a smile from ear to ear…

  

Then, I tried Bokx 109’s scallop with a seasonal fresh veggie salsa and reduction…again – total home run.

Other favorites included Goat Cheese Gnocchi from Tuscan Kitchen and a three bean salad with quinoa (and pumpkin whoopie pies!) from Babytrain barBARq.

    

But I have to say that our favorites were our neighbors at the event, Wilson Farm from Lexington. Not only were they THE nicest guys, they had pumpkin biscuits with turkey and a cranberry chutney that have already made it on to my Thanksgiving Weekend menu. They also had a pumpkin hummus AND mushroom and kale little stuffing/bread pudding bites.

  

I think we may have to make a stop there when we go hiking in the area over the next few weeks…before it snows!  Now I just have to find time to schedule a hike…

What, if anything, has already made it on to your Thanksgiving menu???

Is this the Beginning or the End?

Its both. And actually, I think it might be easier to deal with them simultaneously…

Yes, I have come to accept that it is the end of summer. I’m sad, but it went so darn fast this year, that I’m not sure we even really had it…except for the slight good-enough-for-a-half-Irish-girl tan that I got!

However, its also the beginning of the school year…

…the return to chaos, dance, gymnastics, soccer, CCD, Daddy and his busy work schedule, me and my crazy fall work season…a schedule. Ah, yes. A routine. God’s gift to busy families is the routine. Kids seem to fall into them after about 2 weeks, and I can mentally pretend to be in one so that its not such a tough adjustment. Once you’re in one for a bit, you occasionally hit a very smooth patch where everyone seems to work seamlessly together, like in the BSO or something. Usually, just in time to switch it up with the seasons.

But for now, I’m going to focus on the positive. On the good things that going back to school means for my kids and our family. You know, tired little ones in the early evening. The “not until your homework is done” mantra that buys me some time to blog when there doesn’t seem to be a spare minute. Making happy healthy lunches for the girls and getting back to planning ahead for our  meals. A routine I can (hopefully) really sink my teeth into.

  

Here’s to sinking…

For the Love of Humanity…

Jason and I are so proud of our girls. This year, after a answering some tough questions about why and how not everyone who works hard has a house, the girls decided to make their birthday party a fundraiser for Habitat for Humanity of MetroWest/Greater Worcester. They were bummed they weren’t old enough to actually help build, but wanted to help anyway. I couldn’t have been more proud, and quickly went to work putting the pieces together.

We decided that this was the perfect opportunity to kill two birds with one stone, although not really because that wouldn’t be very humane, but we could manage to plan our End of Summer Kegger to immediately follow the kids’ birthday party, right? Ahhh, yes. Party perfection! Although, every time the girls said “we’re helping humanity” I had to giggle.  Such big girls…yet so little 🙂

So invites went out to everyone – kids, adults, friends, neighbors, etc.  We asked that instead of presents they bring donations to Habitat, and as a thank you, we gave them cute little inflatable hammers!

We grilled, and by we I mean Jason, and everyone brought something delicious.  Of course, I had to have veggie burgers, wheat buns, and nitrate free hot dogs in addition to the “normal” cookout foods. Yes, I’m that lady. And proud of it, dammit. However, the favorite burger of the day – Amy’s Hamburger Cookies. How genius!!!! Look at these adorable and super tasty treats!

We had facepainting and sand art for the kids thanks to Julia and Kayla – our awesome helpers, and thank heavens we invested in that play/swing set. Instant kid party entertainment!

  

The cake was delish and we’ll be trying to give it all away for the next few days. (note: I succeeded! Repurposed sheet cake = cupcakes! Just wait and see…)

And the biggest hit of the day may have been the lawn games (thanks to Sean and the Seymours) that lasted well into the night. I actually researched getting our own Cornhole set, and in the process, learned that there is actually an American Cornhole Association. I’m going to have to save up for a regulation board. Really?

  

While the day flew by and was crazy busy for hours, its was perfect to end our summer with friends and family – some we hadn’t seen in AGES! And so what if the keg didn’t get kicked.  Next time, we don’t put good beer in the keg. Instead of Wachusett Country, we go Bud Light next time – although I think that’s against every fiber of my husband’s being. Then, we should kick it. I guess we’re not as young as we’d like to think…

Llamas and Tractors and Sharks(?), Oh My!

Nothing is as adorable as watching a little boy’s face light up at the sight of “boy” things. At least, as the mom of two girls, nothing is as exciting for me as watching my nephew become ecstatic at the sight of random animals, John Deere and sharks in a tank in the middle of a hot, sunny fairground. Yes, that last one threw me for a bit. And honestly, if I were one of those sharks, I would have eaten that diver for lunch. They must have been sedated…but I digress.

On Friday, Mom, Mary Beth and I went with Bridget, Desmond and Clara to the Bolton Fair. Despite a rough nap and a doubly rough wake up, Des rallied at the thought of seeing all kinds of animals and other exciting things. I’m not going to lie – some fresh raspberries and some Annie’s bunny cookies helped matters, too.

We saw lots of animals. Some cute, some ugly, some that looked like they wore more makeup than I do to a Heart Ball… but Des loved them all.

We even saw local firefighters in a dunk tank. That may have been the grownups favorite booth, but we’re not here to talk about that.. nor did I capture a photo. That would have been too awkward…really.

So instead, we decided that the carousel would be a great idea. Because no matter how crazy woozy spinning and swinging things make me, my nephew’s smiles are totally worth it!

While we were walking by and talking to the sheep (who I think were competing for something, so this probably wasn’t a good time for Des to start a conversation in “sheep”), I came across a non-profit I could see myself associating with at some point. Think of the PR campaign…

Awesome, huh? I almost bought their shirts and mugs to hand out to some people as a bit of sage advice…but it might have be an unfortunate waste, so I held off. Next time…

After we left the long eared cuties, it became clear that our adventure was quickly approaching its end and it was time for dinner and a cocktail on the porch.

All good things must come to an end, right?

New digs!

The Perfectionista has new digs!!!

I am not a tech guru, and this has taken me a while – I will admit mostly because of fear – but, the Perfectionista is now coming to you via WordPress.  Phew.

Now if only I can manage to redirect to http://www.perfectionistamamma.com and get my page looking just right…I will be one happy little camper.  Oh yeah, and learn the ins and outs of this platform…  But until then, I’m posting anyway.  After all, this is all about the “new” Perfectionista – you know, how to pretend you’re still one after you have kids and a life in progress, right???

So, please forgive the ever changing look that you will see over the next few weeks, and know that I have missed blogging terribly these past 5-6 weeks of craziness.  That won’t happen again…I’ve felt naked without it.  And as someone who often had that naked-in-school dream…yikes!

All it took was a little me time on the dock…and she’s back!