Thursday, September 27, 2012

Pork Braised in Milk

Horrible picture, but man oh man, did I give birth to tall children or what?


This kid did weigh in at 9 lbs 4 oz and was 22 1/2 inches long when he was born (early, I might add...and without a drop of drugs.  Not. A. Drop.)....I guess he was meant to be a giant.


On to more pressing matters.

Pork braised in milk.  I'd read about it in lots of Italian cookbooks and finally decided to try it tonight, combining a bunch of different recipes into one.

My boys were quite literally licking their plates at the table...a sign that I did something right.


Pork Braised in Milk
(sounds strange...just trust me.  please.)

1 T butter
1 T olive oil
2 1/2 lb pork roast (I used a loin, which was too time I'll use a pork shoulder)
2 Cups whole milk
1 sprig each, rosemary and thyme
4 garlic cloves

Heat butter and oil in dutch oven until hot.  Salt and pepper pork all over,  then saute on all sides until brown.  Add remaining ingredients to pot, cover with a loose fitting lid and simmer for 2 1/2 hours until meat is tender, turning meat over every 30 minutes.  Remove meat to cutting board, cover with foil to keep warm.  Using an immersion blender, puree gravy.  Boil for 10 minutes until reduces a bit.  Slice pork, serve with gravy.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Working The 'Hood

Last Saturday I convinced a girlfriend to hike my favorite trail with me rather than walk around our pretty lake...I figured if we went at the crack of dawn (as in 6:30am...on a Saturday.  The only sleep in day of the week!!) that the snakes would be sleeping.

They were sleeping until mile 4.5, right near the end.  And while this picture makes us both look tall (and at 5'4", I am tall compared to her!) ...neither of us was so tall when that black stripey thing ventured near our path.

Those snakes are stealing my fun.

This morning I drove to work in my new work as in no radio, no AC, a window that doesn't roll up and a smell (and not a good one) that I just can't place, and found myself working a corner in a neighborhood that wasn't the kind of neighborhood I even knew existed until I started this job.  Hence the's the car reserved for the 'hood.  Nuthin' left to be stolen on this bells, no whistles.

But the locks do work.  Can I get an AMEN?

The people though?  Just the same in those neighborhoods as they are in mine.  They're struggling to get up in the morning until the smell of coffee fills the room.  Cereal is poured into bowls just the are rushed out the door on the way to school and crossing guards are needed  to help them get there.  No English was spoken where I was today, but the one thing I teach my peeps on those corners who complain of that?  The universal language of kindness.  Smile, say good morning, ask them to wait til it's safe.

No English needed.

After, I met up with some work friends including my old boss (who's job I now have) who is back visiting,  at the beach for lunch.  It's always fun to gather with people who share the same crazy job that you do...the one no one else can even come close to understanding.

We laughed.  We complained.  A few tears were even shed.  Basically, I got 3 hours of therapy and a great plate of fish n chips for $20.

Well worth it.


Home to work some more and then a drive thru of Del Taco for Taco Tuesday because I'm in a supper funk...kind of trapped between summer food and winter food.  Time to dig out my pile of cookbooks and become reinspired...hmmm, sounds like a nice way to spend an evening.

That evening isn't tonight though...tonight there's a mandatory parent meeting for basketball at the high school.  Four more years.  Four more years.


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Monday in the Mountains

Today that guy that I like so much and I took a little drive to the mountains in search of peace and quiet.

I've been working like a hound dog these last few weeks...working a new job that I am having to figure out myself since everyone either thinks I just know what to do or just doesn't really give a hoot, so I am just winging it and getting done what needs to be done.  It's just weird though...but I'm figuring it out as time goes on.  After all, every morning is a new day in the world of crossing guards.  And their bosses.


But this morning, we packed up a bunch of stuff for the oldest of our offspring and headed west.  I worked in the car on the way there, answering a bazillion work emails all while listening to the Forrest Gump soundtrack (LOVE. period.) and chatting about how strange it is that we are THOSE parents...those parents that have grown up children.

I mean...THOSE parents are OLD.  Are we old now?  Seriously?

But once at the mountain we forgot about being old and walked and climbed higher and higher in search of apples and pears.

The sun was shining and it was that perfect sort of warm...the kind of warm where you can tell that Autumn is knocking at the door.  There are two perfect sort of warm's in my book...the one where the warm chases away the cold of winter and the other where the warm begins to welcome the chill back in.

God sent the latter to us today.

The best thing about going to the orchards on a Monday is that they are pretty much empty.  We were the only ones there and we spent our time examining each and every branch for the most perfect fruit...and sampling apples fresh off the trees as we went along.

For a girl with sugar issues, apples are a treat...and I felt like it was Christmas morning while munching away.  Yum.

Once finished, we drove a little ways down the mountain and snuck in a lunch date with one of my favorite boys in the whole wide world...the boy who is the easiest of my three to make laugh, the boy who has suddenly made us feel old because he doesn't live here any more and is now a grown up in grad school, the boy who I miss so very, very much.

Lunch on a Monday?

Nice.  A treat.  A blessing.  


We made it home in time to greet our other two and cook a big pot of pasta with sausage and peas and (gasp!) heavy cream and tomatoes...and then watched them munch away on apples while yelling at the refs on Monday night football.  That guy that I like so much dashed out to a rehearsal and I spent the evening catching up on my bible study homework and doing laundry. 

And staring at apples I can't eat...well, at least until the sun rises and a new day dawns.  Can't wait...except the morning also brings crossing guards and all their issues and that job I am trying to figure out.  

But today?  Today was just nice.  I'm not going to worry about tomorrow until tomorrow comes.


Monday, September 24, 2012

Sunday Snooze

Sunday following church, that guy that I like so much and I went to breakfast.  

Just us.  No boys...just the parental unit.  I'm tellin' ya...we're kinda getting used to this grown up thing.


Once again, presenting Cucina Enoteca.  Bottomless bellini's (which we could afford because we weren't feeding our bottomless boys) and tiramisu pecan cinnamon rolls with the frosting on the side.


Freakin' awesome.  That's all I can say.

But then...THEN we had a breakfast pizza.  Spinach, speck, ricotta, fried eggs.

I pretty much wept with joy over this.  No words.  Just tears of joy.

Following the bottomless bellini's and that amazing pizza there was simply one thing.  A nap.  A 3 hour nap.  No laundry, no cleaning, no TV...just a nap with my cat.

The only problem?  Waking to hungry boys who needed food and love and clean clothes.  My job as mama?  Secure.


Marinated and grilled some strip steaks, roasted some red peppers and piled the whole mess of it on a grilled baguette.

Happiness and harmony were restored.  All was well in the land.  

If only the laundry would fold itself.


Needless to say, not much got accomplished this weekend...but in turn, I feel rested and ready to begin this week.  I guess sometimes you just need a nap day...after all, the stuff that didn't get done will still be here tomorrow.

And that's ok.


Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Perfect Friday Night

I'll forgive them for spelling my name wrong (even though it really irks me when people do, which is why I normally use the name 'Alex' when I am at a coffee place) because this nonfat sugar free salted caramel mocha with no whip just about made my day.

I squeezed a haircut, a drive to the office in LA to pick up my company car (and had a meeting with my boss along the way), a yoga class and a trip to Costco (including lunch in their food court with that guy that I like so much) all in to one day.

That coffee?

Necessary for my sanity.

But then, on a Friday afternoon, it was prep time for yet another Garden Party.

For this group...appetizers were an expensive bottle of bubbly and some bruschetta with feta, garden tomatoes and fresh thyme.  Drizzled with olive oil, of course.

That guy that I like so much?  He's the hors d'oeuvres (had to google the spelling on that one) whisperer.  Seriously, give the guy a couple of ingredients and he makes the best stuff.

I. LOVE. Sabbatical.


The rest of the meal?  Pork chops, grilled (with a smoker box full of mesquite)...grilled lemons alongside and squeezed that over the top, roasted asparagus and a simple risotto.

Dessert?  A $5.99 pumpkin pie the size of my head from Costco.

It was actually easy...I was in charge of asparagus and risotto.  That guy that I like so much handled the rest, plus the cocktails.  Have I mentioned how much I LOVE sabbatical?


And then....THEN we sat and talked and ate and drank and LAUGHED all night long.  It was, quite simply, the most perfect ending to a really long week that I could ever imagine.

That little garden is probably one of my favorite places to be in the whole wide world.

Except for the big spiders that come out when it's warm.  Ick.

This weekend is full of jewelry orders and basketball games and hikes and church and laundry and, hopefully, catching up on sleep.

What are your weekend plans?


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

A Confession

Tonight, after an unusually long and stressful work day where everyone wanted everything done yesterday, we did something not so good.

Not all of us...just that guy that I like so much and I.

But first I need to talk about the picture below.  Those thingy's in the red bowl?  Dolmas...which in English means 'my turkish girlfriend is the best cook on the planet'.  Seriously.  I even ate two of them cold from the fridge this morning on my way out the door...yum.


Oh...and this picture?  The youngest shrub, while talking to us through the window, pulled on the curtain rod and down it came...anchors and all.

It's on the list of thing to do...maybe we'll rehang it by next summer?  Maybe? back to the bad thing.  Tonight was back to school night at the high school...year 9 of 12 for us at the high school and I just. couldn't. do. it.

Just. Couldn't.

So we and that guy that I like so much.  We hopped in his cute car, pretended to drive towards the school but instead went to a local brewery and ordered beer and a thai chicken pizza and toasted ourselves that we caught on to ditching at year 9 rather than waiting until year 10 or 11.

Back to school night vs beer and pizza.  What would you choose?

The only problem came when we finished and realized that we couldn't go home yet because technically we were still wandering around the halls of the school like mice in one of those crazy mazes, so off we went to the mall.

Why the mall?  Well, the mall has See's candy and mama needed some chocolate to help get over the itty bitty teeny tiny ounce of guilt I was feeling at having to LIE to my 14 year old about where we were tonight.  Not enough guilt to come clean, mind you...just enough guilt to need chocolate.

And just to clarify...this is not a permanent lie.  It's just a temporary one...just long enough for him to be old enough to not hate us for not meeting his teachers.  I'm thinking we'll tell him when he's 30.  Maybe.

So there you have it.  

We're ditchers.  Happy, full, slightly sleepy ditchers.


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Just A List...

...of things that make me happy lately:

1. salted caramel (or is it toffee?) mocha's from Starbucks.  (ordered sugar free mocha, non fat, no whip, thankyouverymuch.) YUM.

2. my new job.  HUGE territory but doing stuff I think is a good fit for me.  Today was dealing with a guard who was giving a supervisor a hard time, so I went to assess the situation.  Parked my car and acted like a pedestrian...chatted with him about the weather, the taco place on the corner and his brothers car detailing business all while waiting for the light to change.  He was friendly and made me laugh and then he waved me across the street and let me cross myself.  How kind of him!  I walked back to my car, threw on a supervisor vest and suddenly my chatty buddy couldn't remember a word of English.  Made me laugh.


3. grilled cheese.

4. my middle son, who is just fun.  Except for tonight when his beloved Bronco's lost.

5. pandora.  The Colbie Calliat station, to be exact.  The louder the better.

6. being able to picture where Matthew is performing.  And taking classes.  And sleeping.

7. the last two teeny tiny tomatoes on the vine, picked while no one was looking, sprinkled with a little salt and eaten standing up at the kitchen sink.

8. a spiritual awakening when I had no clue I was having a spiritual sleepening.  Not that that will make sense to anyone but me, but it's cool nonetheless.

9. a bottle of bubbly that is out of our price range chilling in the fridge, just waiting to be popped open while we are sitting in the garden.  Anyone want to come share?

10. Brian, who after two weeks of high school Spanish, thinks he is fluent.  Really.  Just ask him...he'll tell you.

11. an overdue visit to the chiropractor this morning...that rolling table thing you lay on after an adjustment?  I love that thing!  Makes me feel like I'm 5 inches taller than when I walked in.

AND...12, because 12 seems like a good number to end on.  12 is sleep.  I've actually slept the last few nights.  Life just seems better when you've had a good nights sleep, don't you think?  Still lacking a money tree, still have an engine light on in a car or two, still got closets that need to be cleaned and floors that need to be mopped.  But somehow, it just doesn't seem as bad with a well rested mind and body.


Monday, September 17, 2012

Over The Weekend

It all began with a little trip to California Adventure...I mean, we had never visited the new Cars Land yet.  And not only that, I will publicly admit that I haven't seen the movie...mainly because it was released when my 3rd child was on the cusp of watching movies with real people and his mother could not handle one more animated character.

It's true...which also means he hadn't seen it either.  I completely failed my now 14 year old.

Oh well...add it to the list.  The 'tell it to your therapist' list.  Each of my kids has one because I'm a great parent.


It. Was. Hot.

The kind of hot where the sweat was running down my back.  Ugh.  We lasted until 12:30pm and practically ran back to the car where we turned the AC to the 'artic tundra' setting.

Oh...and that new Cars Land ride?  The best ever.  Can't wait to go back when it's cooler!

On Saturday we visited our boy in the mountains...saw his new place and stocked him up with food and took a tour of his new school.  He's a fun one and he's a great tour's just nice to have a visual image of his hang out spots.

I asked him how he liked grad school and his response? 

'There's no math in grad school'...said with a big smile on his face.

Math and Matthew were never the best of friends.


His campus?


I have to made me want to move there.  Well, except for the fact that it was 105 degrees.  I think God knew I was going to have a hint of the green headed monster and threw in a dose of extra hot weather just for me.

It worked.  But in the Autumn when the chill hits and the leaves start turning?  Oy.  Oh wait...then I'll have a son telling me that he moved to get AWAY.


In the meantime, Alex went beach camping and sent me this amazing picture.  WOW.  Yeppers...we live in a place where you can ski the mountains in the morning and picnic on the beach in the afternoon.

It's also the place where it costs way, way too much to live.

Oh well.  Can't have it all.

Sunday was church followed by lunch followed by a much needed pedicure.

My toes are SO happy!

Sunday afternoon meant football and napping boys and work for that guy that I like so much and bible study work for me.

It was just one of those much needed, relaxing afternoons.  A true Sabbath.  

Sunday supper was huge ribeyes that we threw on the grill, garlic smashed potatoes and this really awesome roasted broccoli.  Everyone in my family liked it, which is always a good thing.

And yes, I need new pans.  I'm thinking we are going to renew our vows next year and have a huge party...and on the invite ask everyone who attends to bring a kitchen item.  

Toaster?  Blender?  Baking sheets?  Yes, please.  

The best part about our Sunday dinner?  While sitting in the garden, it got chilly.  The kind of chilly where I had to go grab a sweater.

And all God's people said....AMEN.


Thursday, September 13, 2012

I've Got...


Seriously.  Nuthin'.

Nuthin' except tiredness and overwhelmedness and anxiousness and over-it-ness.  And nope...I don't care that those aren't real words.
(The BEST burger ever at Plum's!)

For starters, I have worked SO much in the last two weeks.  Like 90 hours of overwork-ed-ness.  Training people to do my old job while trying to do my new job means I haven't been sleeping and I am just kind of over it. of today, I have set them free and next week is all mine at my new job.

I. Cannot. Wait.

Bible study started up and that is causing me some anxiousness, too.  We're doing a study that took a strange turn during our group discussion.  My quite conservative Lutheran to the core of my being self should have spoken up and didn't...until after.  And then I found out that so many others had needed me to speak up because they, too, were feeling what I was feeling.  


God nudged me.  I ignored Him.

And the midst of everything, a night out with some of the best friends a girl could have.

Just what I needed.

Tomorrow?  Friday.  It just might be a 'let's go to Disneyland with that guy that I like so much' day.  For reals.

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