Productive Weekend, Ahoy!

So last week, some friends of ours were all going to see Stevie Nicks (opener: The Pretenders). We were invited, but long story short I married a miser who hates Stevie Nicks, so we ended up not joining. However, one of the spouses ended up having a work thing, and I was invited to take that spouse’s spot. So I did! Because I don’t hate Stevie Nicks, and I love friends!

We met for a spectacularly expensive and not particularly super dinner in the central business district (the raw oysters were amazing at least), and while the food was overpriced, the company was delightful. Then we walked over to the arena, I bought a tiny Coors light for $10, and we settled into our nosebleed section seats.  Chrissie Hynde was the bomb. She rocked so, so hard – she looked good, she had a total filthy mouth, and she played all the hits with an ease of someone who’s done this a thousand times and still enjoys it. Let’s just say we all had a lot of fun watching the opening act (when “I’ll Stand By You” came on, the whole crowd just wailed). Stevie Nicks, on the other hand, was a let down. Real superfans probably enjoyed it (and there were lots of people whirling around in shawls, clearly having a Really Good Time), but I found it incredibly indulgent and boring. Basically, she played a bunch of crap that never made it on any album (FOR GOOD REASON, STEVIE, THEY SUCK), and told REALLLLY long stories in between each song. Epically long, fantastically boring stories that were mostly name-dropping opportunities, to which I say – you’re Stevie Nicks! You don’t need to drop names!

Half our group left early, but I stuck it out with one couple and then we caught a cab back to their place and had a drink together. Then he dropped me home at about 1am (we live only a few blocks apart), Craig woke up shortly thereafter, and I had to wake for the day at 6am. The next day was a bit fuzzy and I definitely could have used more sleep, but it was so good to get out, see some live music, hang with friends, and all in all be neither lawyer nor mother. I don’t do that enough.

Anyway, the Prof was out the next two nights, and we were basically ships in the night the whole week. Much of the meals I’d planned didn’t get eaten as most nights it was just one parent plus some children, so they’re in the freezer waiting to be re-heated. I probably could have taken this weekend off of pre-making food, except we have a fridge full of produce that is rapidly wilting and needed cooking, so I made more cabbage stuff (seriously, enough with the cabbage!) plus a squash soup today, plus chopped a bunch of zucchini and carrots for ease of eating (with ranch, hummus, or in a salad, or cooked up like this for breakfast). I also spent about four hours yesterday deep cleaning – scrubbing the glass shower enclosure, cleaning the bathrooms, sweeping and swiffering. I really need a maid – I’m behind on billing as always and needed that time to bill – but our shower was about to grow legs and walk away, it was so filthy. I also managed to wash, fold, and put away about fifteen loads of laundry, and completely clean and organize the fridge and freezer.  I’ve got dozens of unread personal emails, I’m about two full days behind on billing, but darn it, my shower is clean, my fridge cleaned and stocked, and I got to see Chrissie Hynde be awesome.

The week’s meals:

Summer squash soup with crusty bread. I used coconut oil to saute the vegetables (instead of olive oil), and it smells divine. Although it doesn’t have curry in it, the cumin and coconut gives it a curry feel.

Ina Garten’s stuffed cabbage recipe, because I still have so. much. cabbage.

The cashew cabbage and chicken kebabs I didn’t make last week.

The slow cooker refried beans and brisket enchiladas that I made last week but we didn’t eat so it’s all frozen.

Fried chicken and homemade coleslaw, which is basically shredded cabbage plus shredded carrots plus bottled coleslaw dressing. And lots of pepper.

Pre-made refrigerated Ravioli with white wine cream sauce, and asparagus and crusty bread on the side.

Posted in Bitchin in the Kitchen, Dear Friends, Everyday Adventures, New Orleans | Leave a comment

Meal Planning On a Rainy Sunday Afternoon While Being Pestered By My Child

We had more parades yesterday – St. Patrick’s Day. When Mardi Gras is late (as it was this year), this Irish parade comes up too soon. I haven’t had time to get over being sick of parades. I know, I know – so spoiled. In any case, the parade goes right by our house so we basically had a choice of going or being trapped inside anyway. I billed a looooot of hours this week, and was feeling pretty weary, but nevertheless we went. It was fine, just a little draining, and now I’m trying to squeeze meal planning and prep, shopping, laundry, house-cleaning, and a few financial chores into the short afternoon hours after church today. Tired just thinking about it.

Last week’s meals were really good. The brisket was over the top delish.  The hamburger soup was boring but did the job.  I put a bit of sugar in the creamy rigatoni, as it was quite salty and acidic given the tomatoes – but really good stuff. I’ve frozen half in a pan, and in a week or two we’ll defrost and I’ll crumble bread crumbs on top for a pasta bake. The salmon was also good, except (a) the store had no ripe avocados, so I didn’t even do the good avocado salsa topping, which is a big part of the point, and (b) I didn’t use salmon, I used redfish, and that one piece of fish (large enough to feed all of us) was TWENTY SEVEN DOLLARS and now I remember why I hardly ever make fish. Delicious fish is delicious but expensive, and cheap fish is cheap but non-delicious. We live on the Gulf Coast. I think we could do better.

We are down to nothin’ in the freezer, so I’m about to brave Costco on a Sunday afternoon (along with everyone else in the world), and buy All the Meats. Since I caught a giant cabbage plus one non-giant but still substantial cabbage, the below menu shall be disproportionately cabbage-based.

  • Lasagna. I keep reading all these recipes for lasagna roll ups (roll the typical ingredients up in a lasagna noodle) or lasagna cups (tuck a noodle in a muffin tin, fill remainder of muffin cup w/sauce and ricotta) and I’m like – this is still just lasagna, only harder to make. Ours will likely have layers of zucchini, spinach, ricotta, jarred sauce, and if I’m feeling feisty, perhaps some sausage. I usually mix a medium sized plastic tub of ricotta with one raw egg, a dash of nutmeg, and wilted spinach. Then layer sauce, cooked noodles, zucchini/sausage, ricotta, then re-start with sauce, cooked noodles, etc. Shred mozzarella on the top. I might make two, and carry one down to a family w/a new baby down the street.
  • Cashew cabbage and chicken kebabs. A little Asian fusion.
  • Lazy cabbage rolls. Looks do-able.
  • Slow cooker refried beans and leftover brisket in some sort of tortilla configuration
  • Frozen pizza – I’m going out to dinner and a concert with some girlfriends on a Wednesday. How thrilling! The spouse shall frozen pizza-it-up while I’m out.
  • Roast chicken, potatoes, and carrots.

One last story before I dive once more into the breach. We were at the parade yesterday, on the route before the parade started late. Suddenly, four giant school buses went pealing by, way too quickly. Craig, thinking the parade had started, darted forward toward them, and my neighbor (who was closer) dashed forward and roughly grabbed him back. This sent him WAILING – zero complaints on her daring save, but her roughness startled him. He loves this woman and so he felt betrayed when she shouted and grabbed him, and his giant, rolling tears made for quite a dramatic sight. Her friend made a game attempt to talk him into a better mood, and learned through some prodding questioning that Craig’s a big fan of garbage trucks. So she said – “Ha! I planned this parade. I know the clean up crew. You’re going to ride on a garbage truck today.”

Two hours later when the darn thing ended, I thought for sure she’d forget, but she didn’t. After the end-of-parade fire truck went rolling by, I sent the big boys home with the neighbor and the friend, Craig, and I headed down the filthy route toward the (frankly astonishing) clean up crew. They do a bang up job cleaning the mess, and after we pass the people with rakes, the bulldozer, the people dragging garbage cans on casters, more people with rakes, another set of ‘dozers, we get to the line of garbage trucks. She has a word with the boss, and he radios back to the driver, and next thing you know, Craig and I are hoisting ourselves up into a garbage truck. He was wide eyed and speechless. I was a bit chuffed myself – it’s kinda cool up there! The driver was a bit embarrassed at the state of his truck – “If I’d a known you was a comin’, I’d a cleaned it!” – but I assured him that we were totally thrilled.

We’d found out earlier that day that our boys have once more been rejected by the public charter here in town (School Choice is bullshit, don’t let them sell you on it), really our only shot at a public school for next year, and I was all set to up stakes and move away.  I’ll admit, the garbage truck thing mollified me again.  This city is both frustrating and magical in equal measure. (Besides, bullshit charters are spreading across the whole country so it’s not like we can escape this nightmare. RIP public education, c. 2017.)

Have a lovely week, and wish me luck in bending the space-time continuum to get all these chores done before I launch into another 60 hour workweek. One plodding foot in front of the other.

Posted in Bitchin in the Kitchen, Holidays and Celebrations, New Orleans | 1 Comment

Post Mardi Gras Menu

I meant to append this to the last post, but instead I’ll just do three, three, three posts in a day!  Mardi Gras craziness leads generally to crazy eating. Although we do make sure the boys eat vegetables and get plenty of water, we often end up eating dinner after 8pm on parade nights, and it is often Chef Boyardee or boxed mac and cheese or ramen with some frozen veg and/or scrambled egg mixed in. There’s a lot of crackers and apples munched on the route (along with Milk Duds and lollipops tossed from the floats), lots of juice boxes and Gatorade, less milk. We’re all craving more wholesomeness now that the parades have stopped rolling.

Below is what we’re having this week. The brisket (h/t lag liv) is already slow cooking as we speak, and smells divine. I’ve gone to TJs already and am planning to hit Costco for some meats later this afternoon, once the boys get back from Boy Scout camp.

Sunday – Brisket, rolls, TJs boxed macaroni and cheese

Monday – Leftover turkey bolognese and spaghetti, I made a ton the other night

Tuesday – Beef and broccoli with jarred soyaki sauce, steamed rice

Wednesday – Creamy rigatoni with tomatoes, sausage, plus asparagus spears with olive oil and salt and pepper

Thursday – PWs hamburger soup, because I have ground beef I need to use up

Friday – This salmon (again h/t to lagliv who has been killing it w/recipe collection lately), plus couscous and broccolini

 

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Mardi Gras 2017 – Picture Post 2

After a full day of parades two weekends before Mardi Gras Day, Liam woke up unable to walk. He couldn’t come down the stairs – he couldn’t bend his left hip or leg at all. I thought maybe it was a parade injury – too rough up and down off my shoulders or something. A quick trip to the urgent care revealed that it was not the simple dislocated/pulled hip or groin muscle that I thought it was. They did some Xrays and did some wiggling of the various joints and ultimately concluded that I needed to take him to the ER immediately . . . which was disconcerting and mildly alarming, to say the least.

We swung by Wendy’s for lunch, thank heavens, as little did we know after a 3 hour stay at the urgent care we’d be staying 21 additional hours at the hospital. They did more Xrays, blood work, mucus tests (gross), and an ultrasound of his hips. Long story short, he had fluid on the hip due to a common kid virus that causes inflammation, and he was on bed rest and observation for the night with possible early a.m. surgery to drain the fluid. I stayed the night with him, prepping him for surgery (IV fluids, a full body antimicrobial wipe down, no food after a certain time period, all the pre-op stuff). It was surreal and a bit stressful, especially as a newborn next door was going through drug withdrawal or something because that baby did not cease screaming for the entire time we were there. Also, during our seven hours in the triage area, before being sent to a private room, we were across from a tiny 1 year old having grand mal seizures. The Children’s Hospital is a tough place to hang out, let me tell you.

At the urgent care - I was lifting him everywhere but it was hurting my back, so our hero got to ride in a wheelchair, which thrilled him to no end.

At the urgent care – I was lifting him everywhere but it was hurting my back, so our hero got to ride in a wheelchair, which thrilled him to no end.

Looking somewhat wee and helpless in his hospital bed, but thrilled by the on demand tv

Looking somewhat wee and helpless in his hospital bed, but thrilled by the on demand tv

After a long night of wrestling with his IV and stressing me out, by morning we were released to go home. Phew!

After a long night of wrestling with his IV and stressing me out, by morning we were released to go home. Phew!

Waiting for the wheelchair lady to come wheel us out

Waiting for the wheelchair lady to come wheel us out

Luckily, that adventure occurred during a 4 day parade hiatus. So there wasn’t even any temptation – or whining – about skipping parades while he recouped. I, of course, am still recouping the lost billable time . . .

A few days later, a parade rolled a couple of blocks from our house, so we went. Liam stayed a bit and went home early, which was sensible. The other two stuck it out til the end. He started feeling better as the week went on, and he went to most of the parades, though he sat for a lot of them. It was a fun season! And now I’m all about salads, vegetables, water, and no more fried chicken for at least a month!

Slay

Slay

Nyx is a great parade - they throw purses

Nyx is a great parade – they throw purses

And I caught one!

And I caught one!

Smooth criminal

Smooth criminal

This guy came up to me the next morning and asked if I would "turn him into" a butterfly - then handed me these wings

This guy came up to me the next morning and asked if I would “turn him into” a butterfly – then handed me these wings

The weekend before Mardi Gras day, my in-laws always come to town. My husband’s sister’s husband is from a NOLA family, though he was a military kid and I don’t think has ever actually lived here himself. In any case, they come to Mardi Gras every year, and though the Prof was working on this day, I pushed those kids in a stroller almost a mile and a half to meet this crew at the Iris and Tucks parades. It was fun – we had a little area in the back where the littles could hang and play, while the big kids stood right up close and caught stuff. It was fun to catch up with them!

Cousins who look like siblings

Cousins who look like siblings

The in-laws, looking cute as usual

The in-laws, looking cute as usual

Go big or go home

Go big or go home

Bead tradin'

Bead tradin’

If you are what you eat, then we are all fried chicken

If you are what you eat, then we are all fried chicken

Friiiiiied chickennnnnn

Friiiiiied chickennnnnn

And in B&W bc why not

And in B&W bc why not

Reflecting on his Tucks throws

Reflecting on his Tucks throws

Iris and Tucks were on a Saturday. The next day is our favorite day of  Mardi Gras – three parades roll right by our house, and we always have a house party. (Although we have moved from our former apartment, the two places are only a couple of blocks from each other). Tons of people came and used up my hand soap and TP and ate all my food, it was fabulous. The Prof got to come to this one as well.

His first parade of the season, I believe.

His first parade of the season, I believe.

He caught a lollipop and was really into it

He caught a lollipop and was really into it

This little boy on the left was a visitor from SC, and he got the hang of it real quick. Almost lost him a few times as he'd run up the route chasing floats!

This little boy on the left was a visitor from SC, and he got the hang of it real quick. Almost lost him a few times as he’d run up the route chasing floats!

Uncharacteristically serious, probably annoyed I made him pause for one second to take a pic

Uncharacteristically serious, probably annoyed I made him pause for one second to take a pic

Frands

Frands

The in-laws brought some buddies from up north, and I got a good family shot! Their youngest is adopted and he was born here and adopted from here - he is gestationally Liam's exact age, though he was born 3 weeks early. Which is a weird way of saying that I met him when he was born, and held him, and it was weird to look at this little thing and know that the exact same sized thing was still in my belly at the time. Liam was born a week later.

The in-laws brought some buddies from up north, and I got a good family shot! Their youngest is adopted and he was born here and adopted from here – he is gestationally Liam’s exact age, though he was born 3 weeks early. Which is a weird way of saying that I met him when he was born, and held him, and it was weird to look at this little thing and know that the exact same sized thing was still in my belly at the time. Liam was born a week later.

A crew in a walking parade (with one float) rolls right by our house - this is from my front porch on Mardi Gras day! That's my white car!

A crew in a walking parade (with one float) rolls right by our house – this is from my front porch on Mardi Gras day! That’s my white car!

On Mardi Gras day we headed up to Rex, when the King of Mardi Gras (this year, played by a well known local pediatrician) arrives to town. Craig and I went and watched alone, with friends. Here, he's caught a Rex bull - the Boeuf Gras (fat beef!)

On Mardi Gras day we headed up to Rex, when the King of Mardi Gras (this year, played by a well known local pediatrician) arrives to town. Craig and I went and watched alone, with friends. Here, he’s caught a Rex bull – the Boeuf Gras (fat beef!)

The Rex parade floats are always beautifully, professionally done, with unique throws for each float. They ride on original old wagons from a long time ago - 1800s maybe? - pulled by modern day tractors of course.

The Rex parade floats are always beautifully, professionally done, with unique throws for each float. They are built on original old wagons from a long time ago – 1800s maybe? – pulled by modern day tractors of course.

The girls we were hanging out with all wanted to dress as princesses, so we were surrounded

The girls we were hanging out with all wanted to dress as princesses, so we were surrounded

Post Mardi Gras the Prof has been gone a lot still - work dinners, etc. - and this weekend a Boy Scout campout. So me and little man went out to dinner together!

Post Mardi Gras the Prof has been gone a lot still – work dinners, etc. – and this weekend a Boy Scout campout. So me and little man went out to dinner together!

 

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Mardi Gras 2017 – Picture Post 1

So picture me a little frazzled, with a varied and lovely network of tan lines (because who remembers sunscreen in February?), wading through drifts of cheap plastic beads, moon pies, empty Bud Light cans, fried chicken bones, and purple, green and gold feathers. (And drained Gatorade bottles. We did remember to stay hydrated.)

The season has come and gone, and I did much of it alone, as the Prof had a book deadline that sent him to the office many, many nights and weekends. The boys and I love parades, and Jack is big enough these days to be pretty helpful vis a vis lifting and hefting stuff, so I felt confident braving the parades with the three of them. Jack would either push the double stroller with brothers in it, or drag the wagon with the cooler and folding chairs in it. We’d trek, sometimes more than a mile, sometimes less than three blocks, to get to the route. I would keep Craig close to me, lifting him up when the floats come by (“You have to go CLOSER, Mom”). These days Jack and Liam are old enough to get free reign to run up and down the route, and generally they make friends with the other parade rats. Over the course of the hour, they gradually gather more and more finery, festooned with jester hats, samurai swords, blinky rings and necklaces, and of course, beeeeeeads. At the end of a parade (or three, sometimes there are multiples that roll by in a row), we would shove it all in our bead bags and trek back home, filthy and tattered and hot and full of fried chicken and chips/candy we caught from the floats.

And now, some pix, split into two posts bc there are tons. Plus our holiday was interrupted briefly by a hospital stay for one of these guys . . . stay tuned . . .

Loaded up and ready to roll

Loaded up and ready to roll

Me and these three

Me and these three

Street scene

Street scene

Juice break

Juice break

Night parade

Night parade

Tusks

Tusks

Shutter didn't click fast enough on this one. It's a bad shot of a VERY cool dress - huge poodle skirt.

Shutter didn’t click fast enough on this one. It’s a bad shot of a VERY cool dress – huge poodle skirt.

Hydrating

Hydrating

Wearing their spoils

Wearing their spoils

Ride or die

Ride or die

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