Some Life Stuff & The Best Pickles

So what have you been up to? We’re just living life over here. The days run into weeks and the weeks into months. Funny how that happens. I heard a quote on parenting once and I just love it so. I’m pretty sure I’ve shared it before. And I don’t know where the quote came from so I could give credit where it’s due, but I just don’t remember.

“The days are long but the months are short”

It seems that time passes in the blink of an eye sometimes so I’ve just been enjoying my kids and hibernating because the weather is unbearable.

BUT Guess what? We’re finally moving back to Florida! I have tickets booked and suitcases packed! Well, nothing packed actually, but we have our flights scheduled! I absolutely cannot wait to never experience a Michigan winter ever again. And to be close to family again, of course. 42 days to go but who’s counting? ME! So more on that stuff later and I’ll even bore you with a recap of what we’ve been eating, too. But first.

The pickles I’ll be eating until I turn green blue in the face. I’m not sure why what’s an expression and I’m pretty sure it doesn’t go in this instance but I’m sticking to it. Anyway. They’re garlicky, they’re salty, they’re refreshing. Um, did I mention they’re perfect? Yes.

I’m not a cucumber fan. I just find them kind of boring. I’ll eat them but I don’t go out of my way to buy them or cook with them. They just seem… meh. So over the summer one of Pierre’s co-workers sent him home with a ton of cucumbers from his garden. I wasn’t going to turn them away so I decided to make pickles! So happy I did that. Now I go out of my way to buy cucumbers and make pickles 3-4 times a month. My 2 (almost 3 WAAAHHHH) year old will eat the whole jar in one sitting if I let her. No utensils necessary. So here are the step by step photos of how we make them! So easy that Eva could probably make them with minimal help.

Add 20-30 black peppercorns at the bottom of a quart-sized mason jar. Don’t count mine.

untitled-14 Cut up a cucumber in the size and shape you like your pickles. This is just one medium pickle but the jar can hold up to two. I’ve crammed a ton of cucumbers in the jar and it works just fine. I toss the ends.untitled-15 Next, let your toddler SLOWLY add the cucumbers one by one to the jar while you take deep breaths and try not to cut in because you have no patience. untitled-17 untitled-18 untitled-19 Chop up a garlic clove in the meantime. Anyway you want.untitled-20 Add 1 tbsp kosher salt.untitled-22 Add 1/3 cup of white vinegar.untitled-23 Fill the rest of the jar up with plain water, give it a quick shake and place it upside down for 24 hours. I put mine in a bowl just in case the jar leaks but mason jars have a nice tight seal so it hasn’t happened yet.untitled-25 untitled-26

 

After 24 hours turn the jar right side up and place in the fridge for another 12 hours before you dig in. True be told you can probably eat these after the first 24 hours.

THAT’S IT. Please tell me you’ll make these.

The Best Pickles

1-2 medium cucumbers, sliced to your desire
20-30 whole black peppercorns
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 tbsp kosher salt
1/3 cup white vinegar

Add all the ingredients to a quart-sized mason jar, shake and leave upside down for 24 hours. After 24 hours return the jar to right side up and store in the fridge.

Friday Things

Happy Friday! We’ve had a busy week around here. Last week our Thanksgiving was lovely, I put butter in everything and it was delicious. Then we went shopping on Saturday – no crazy Black Friday shopping for me but we still did some damage the following day. Unfortunately for our wonderful weekend my husband had to leave for a work trip on Sunday (which is the worst) and he’s been gone all week. I can’t wait to see him tonight!

Fast (?) forwards to this week! Monday I stayed home waiting for my new iPhone to be delivered because we had a package delivered to the wrong address last week and I didn’t want it to happen again. Tuesday the twins had their 9 month check up (WHAT?) and Wednesday Olivia had a therapy appointment for her Torticollis. Thankfully her therapists saw significant improvement at the last two session and officially discharged her! We are so happy! She’s also done with the helmet therapy, a perfect end to the year!

Thursday I finally made it back to the gym and it felt so good to sweat! Sounds weird, I know, but for those of you who enjoy working out get me. After the gym we had a friend stop by for a visit. It was so nice having her here with her two daughters, one Eva’s age  (born the day before Eva!) and one a few months younger than the twins.

Here’s a ton of photos from this week and some from last! First up we have The Pioneer Woman’s cinnamon rolls. They were amazing!! I’ve always wanted to make my own and I was seriously proud of myself. To be honest I have been intimidated by this recipe for years but I gave myself a whole day to to make the dough, let it rest and roll it out and it was great. Patience, didn’t know I had it in me!

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untitled-62Thanksgiving chicken (no turkey for us) SMOTHERED in butter, it was so good.

untitled-4Brussels sprouts sautéed in, you guessed it, butter, and bacon. I don’t regret a thing.

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And you can’t forget dessert! Pumpkin pie and a Dark Chocolate Salted Caramel Oreo Pie. Just, wow. untitled-88

untitled-22 We took a stab at out own Christmas cards!untitled-36untitled-159

untitled-69-2First gingerbread house! For Eva and me! untitled-145

What We Ate – Dad Edition

I mentioned last week that I’d share some of the things we ate while my dad was in town so that’s that I’m gonna do!

If you would have asked me 10 years ago who I’m more like, my mom or my dad, I would have told you, “My mom”, without skipping a beat. I’ve always thought that I was more like her because that’s what most people that know us both tell me, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. If you were to ask me the same question today I’d answer differently. My dad and I are very similar and I’m a little sad to admit that it’s taken me this long to realize it. My dad and I have similar temperament and our sense of humor is the same, too. We view problems the same way and I think we both like to avoid conflict, as much as we’d like to deny that fact. We both have strong faith in people as well as God and we’re excellent homebodies. Also, we’re both severely addicted to coffee which I’m pretty sure is genetic in our case. Having him here in my home and actually speaking in person versus on the phone or over FaceTime (he lives in Venezuela so we only see each other every few years) was a huge blessing for our family.

One of the things that makes my heart super happy is that over the years my dad has developed a passion for cooking! I remember when I was young and we were still living under the same roof, my dad liked to cook dinner once in a while. My mom handled most of the cooking around the house so I guess it was just on special occasions that he actually got to cook. I consider myself a very fortunate person, I grew up in a household that had two parents who cooked healthy, delicious meals for us kids every day. Never from a box, always fresh and we very rarely went to restaurants or did take-out. Cooking and talking about food is just another awesome thing my dad and I have in common. So here’s what we ate, in no particular order.

A few days before he got here he turned 60! WHAT? So I greeted him at my home with a fresh batch of fried chicken. I don’t think I’ve ever really made fried chicken before. Maybe I’ve tried to ‘fry’ chicken but not the real deal stuff. Well, this is it. It was delicious! I fried it in our cast iron pan and all! I felt very legit. Forgive the photo, it just doesn’t do it justice. I served the chicken with sad-looking biscuits, mashed potatoes and green beans on the side, how Southern of me.

Crispy Fried Chicken // Pancake Saturday I’ve talked to you about arepas before, right? If you haven’t had one in your life then you’re seriously missing out. In Venezuela, arepas are a staple in your house just as sandwich bread would be. You can do anything with them, do you hear me? ANYTHING! And my dad taught me a new way – he added toasted sesame seeds and ground flaxseed to the mix! I was so excited to try them and they tasted so good! We stuffed them with cheese (duh), avocado and slow roasted pork from the previous nights’ tacos.

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Sesame Seed & Flaxseed Arepa // Pancake Saturday Of course we had to bust out a Pancake Saturday staple – pancakes and bacon!untitled-134 One of the days he was here it wasn’t so cold that we could bust out the grill! I was so excited to use it one last time before winter. I grilled ribeye steaks because in my opinion, if it isn’t a ribeye then you’re wasting your time. I roasted cauliflower and made baked sweet potatoes. My dad wanted to learn how to make egg-less Caesar dressing from scratch so we followed this recipe that I had made once before and it doesn’t disappoint. untitled-137
My dad also wanted to learn about spaghetti squash and kale and how to make chili so we did all of those things, too. Once he left Eva and I were so sad we had to make pumpkin muffins to make ourselves feel better. untitled-174We had such a wonderful time with my dad here, I actually made him extend his trip by 2 days before he went off to Atlanta to visit my brother, I didn’t want to let him go!

So that’s what we ate. And if you’re wondering, yes I gained 20 pounds while he was here. So much food.

Thoughts For Thursday

Hello! I hope your week has gone well so far! Mine had been a bit difficult. I’ll be the first to admit that I haven’t been as patient with Eva this week as I should have been. She’s really growing up fast and I think she’s ready for new challenges.

1. The twins are 7 months old today. WHAT? 7 months ago I was looking at their tiny little faces and couldn’t believe they were all mine. I’m so blessed to have them in my life!

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2. Back to what I was saying about Eva. The girl wrote her name! I realize every parent says this about their child but she is just so smart! She knows letters and what some of them sound like, numbers in English and Spanish through 15, she can apparently write her name, and speaks in full sentences. We’re working on potty training, and she’s doing so well with that, as soon as that’s fully taken care of it’ll be off to school for her! I’ve considered homeschooling but she loves the idea of going to school and the school bus (although I’ll probably never let her get on one because I’m a freak), she loves people and making friends. Maybe I’ll let her go to school for a few years and then homeschool. I’m not sure, just some ideas I’m toying with.

untitled-203. Monday was National Coffee Day. Please tell me you enjoyed coffee in some way. I’m obsessed with Starbucks but you already knew that.
untitled-33 4. Pierre got a little tooth a few weeks ago and you can actually start seeing it pop up now. With as fussy as Olivia has been the past two weeks I’m hoping and praying her teeth cut through SOON. There’s only so much a mama can do to sooth a teething baby (or two).untitled-38 5. HC was out of town this week AGAIN. We had him home for 1 full day before he left to NoWheresVille, IL. I’m really looking forward to having him home in a few hours. While he’s away I pretty much survive on coffee, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and what I like to call ‘mixing bowl salads’. I throw a bunch of stuff with lettuce in a huge mixing bowl with red wine vinegar, a little salt and olive oil and you’ve got yourself lunch. This one pictured had a tomato, onion, olives, avocado, feta cheese and baked chicken breast. Almost like quick Greek salad. I’ve had about 5 of these in the last 14 days. I’m really looking forward to eating pizza tonight. untitled-42 6. I posted this quote from Michael Pollen on my Instagram account this week because I really thought it was a very interesting take on eating (It’s a little hard to read, it says “If it comes from a plant, eat it; if it was made in a plant, don’t”). It’s all about fueling your body so it can do amazing things, right? Why is it such a hard philosophy to stick to? I need to tape this quote to the back of my cupcake-reaching hand. untitled-52 7. Why does this happen at the worst possible times? Like when you’re fridge is bare because your husband has been out of town for nearly two weeks and the only thing you have to eat are eggs, grapes and strawberries. untitled-99Don’t tell Michael Pollen I’m getting pizza for dinner.

 

Thoughts for Thursday

Good afternoon! I hope your day was off to a good start. Mine started with a ‘Battle of Wills’ with my 2 year old who is convinced she’s turning 16 soon. HC has been out of town this week and WE CAN’T WAIT for his later today.

1. My little, tiny babies are about a minute away from full-blown crawling. Also, they’re actually noticing each other now. Before they could care less if the other was around but now they find each other and smile. I can’t wait to see them grow up together. Technically, they are just siblings like any other but they were born at the same time but it’s still cool :). This is them fighting over a burp cloth, I foresee a lot of “I had it first!” in my future.

Thoughts for Thursday 22. Mr. Hotcakes ran a Tough Mudder last Saturday! He finished and I am so proud of him! Even though I wasn’t there, I was freaking out the whole time hoping he wouldn’t break something on the course. Because he had to leave early on Saturday morning we didn’t have a Pancake Saturday but we did have a Pancake Friday Night, which is almost just as good!

Thoughts for Thursday 2

While he was getting dirty I went to a Mom to Mom sale and found a lot of great things for the kids, all this stuff for under $100!

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3. I was having a rough day yesterday. We had a lot going on and I always feel ‘off’ when HC is out of town. I texted my cousin, who is basically my second sister, to tell her I was in a funk and she told me to go check the mail. My first thought was that she was telling me to get some fresh air. BUT when I got there I found a beautiful card from her with a Starbucks gift card! She lives in Florida so we’re lucky if we see each other once a year. It lifted my spirits and the fresh air really helped, too!

Thoughts for Thursday 2

4. Eva is currently completely in love with the sun and the moon and the stars. Every morning when she wakes up she says, “Mommy, the sun is out!” with so much joy. She asks me about the sun when it sets and about the moon and stars when the sun is out. My response is always that they are sleeping. Which then prompts her to respond with, “SHHH! The sun/moon and stars are sleeping!!”. I love this child. untitled-294. Thank you, fortune cookie writer. 
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5. Don’t judge me. I don’t even like donuts that much but Sunday, when HC couldn’t even walk because of the race on the previous day, it just kind of made sense. He said he “needed the calories”                              untitled-75

5. Sunday I chopped my hair off, over 8 inches. I haven’t weighed myself in the last few weeks but I’m positive that I’m at least 5 pounds lighter. I hadn’t even had a trim in over a year and a half so it was time for a cut. I probably won’t cut it for another year. untitled-88Enjoy the rest of your day, it’s almost FRIDAY!

 

Mom to Mom Kindness

Eva had her 2.5 year check up last week and the pediatrician said, “You make having three kids look easy! You’re always well put together and calm. It’s pretty impressive.” I have to be honest and tell you that I really loved hearing that. Not only was it one of the best compliments I’ve ever received, but it was said to me while Mr. Hotcakes was sitting right next to me. The thing is, I don’t always have it all together. I make mistakes, I lose my temper with Eva sometimes. There are days that I envy other moms who look so graceful, moms with bodies that look like they’ve never had a baby in the first place.

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I take Cardio Kickboxing at my gym twice a week. The instructor is this tiny girl, muscles for days and has the energy of someone who drinks espresso all day long. My jaw dropped when I saw her leaving her three kids in the child center before class one day. I could not believe she had three kids! I’ve had three kids, too, but I surely don’t look like her, the first thing that popped in my mind was – not fair! I think we live in a society where it seems that a lot of women kind of ‘give up’ after they’ve had kids. They gain weight and don’t have the drive to lose what they’ve gained or get discouraged when the weight doesn’t just fall off as it seems it does for many women in the public eye (have you seen Jennifer Lopez’s body after she had twins?). The instructor and I struck up a conversation about our kids last Friday and somewhere in the middle of her telling me that none of her kids sleep through the night, it just kind of hit me that she’s just like every other woman navigating through motherhood. I’m sure she has good days and bad days, days when her patience runs thin and days where the last thing she wants to do is teach a high intensity cardio class.

‘It takes a village’, you’ve heard that, right? It’s kind of a lost art these days, We want to prove we can do it alone, we are capable of raising our kids without ‘you sticking your nose where it doesn’t belong’. I think if more women were to show kindness instead of jealousy or passing judgment on other moms (guilty!) the world would be a nicer place. It’s easy to get wrapped up in our little world but the truth is that the world isn’t just about us. Community and loving one another is what it’s really about. Show kindness to the mom you see at a local coffee shop trying to get her much deserved caffeine and keep her toddler from touching everything in sight. Show kindness to the mom on your flight who really doesn’t want to hear her child crying the whole flight either, but she’s doing the best that she can. Show kindness to your mom friend who you haven’t heard from in a while, caring for a child is hard work and sometimes that means less time for chatting, she still loves you.

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Body image is something I’ve struggled with for a long time, that’s why I gave that example but for you it may be giving your kids fast food or letting them watch too much TV (um, how much is too much?) or letting them stay up late. Whatever it is – IT’S OKAY, you don’t have to be perfect. You’re caring for your kids the best that you can and you are their perfect parent, not someone else who you think could do a better job than you. Because the truth is that they can’t. No one can love your kids the way you do, it’s impossible. So be kind to one another, lift up other moms for doing well with their own kids, give them compliments, make friends. What a beautiful world this could be.

Currently.

Hi everyone! I can’t believe it’s been a month since I’ve posted! That went by quickly. Life has been consisting of a lot of sleeping and eating. Most of the eating is being done out of the house, I’m afraid. When 5 pm rolls around I’m so tired that I’m not really in the mood to cook.

I have been circling back to a lot of my favorite recipes and being wowed again and again by them. Everything is yummy. I’ve been eating a lot of these black bean ‘meatballs’ but making them taste like falafels instead. I could eat those every single day of my life.

I also made a really good fish and chips dinner last week per Pierre’s request. I used catfish and I coated it in panko breadcrumbs and spices. It was the best fish and chips I’ve ever made and I’m kicking myself for not having taken photos of it. I’ll do it again soon, I’m sure.

But I do have a confession. It’s been almost one year since I decided to become a pescitarian. It was pretty easy for me to make this switch after a life of eating a lot of meats. I wasn’t even craving meats. But once I was about 5 or 6 weeks along the cravings hit and they hit hard, for chicken mostly. I’ve only cooked meat once (a pork tenderloin) in my own house but when we go out to dinner or get take out, I’ll occasionally order chicken. I don’t really feel guilty or ashamed to admit this because I feel like if I’m craving it then my body needs it. I want this pregnancy to be as healthy as possible and I don’t want to deprive myself of anything. I have noticed a change in my digestion since eating meats again. It’s slower and I feel heavier after a meal (but that could be the babies ;)). I guess it’s not really a terrible thing but I loved that I didn’t feel that way after a vegetarian meal.

Now that I am in the second trimester of this pregnancy I’ve noticed that I don’t feel like I need meat anymore and I look forward to meat-free meals more than I did in the first trimester. I looked at veggies and wanted to cry, I had zero desire to eat them. Glad that’s over!

I do have a yummy salsa recipe coming soon!