Things I Love Thursdays

A few happy Things I Love on this first Thursday of August…

Pengoloo

Penguins

 

A game I never mind playing!  Pengoloo is a memory game made of hysterical little penguins and their colored eggs.  The game is easy to understand, fun, and fast!  It is loved by all three of my kids.  And we’ve given it as a birthday present in the past and it has been well-received. Only negative? The eggs are a choking hazard so stick to playing with kids who are 3+.

Pumpkin Muffins (recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

I do admit that I am usually anti pumpkin food stuffs.  And it isn’t fall.  But these are easy (one bowl!) and tasty.  My kids adore them (because, really, like most muffins, they are basically cake).  Smitten Kitchen is brilliant – I’ve loved every recipe I’ve tried (except the gingerbread, but I think that was more about me and less about the recipe, but I digress…)

Make these muffins.  I cut the sugar down to 1 cup, and eyeball the pumpkin amount.  I also eyeball the spices.  And the muffins are always great.  The recipe is really forgiving. I’m going to try making them with a 50/50 white/whole wheat flour mix in the next few days.  I bet they’ll still be great. Added bonus? These keep beautifully for a few days, unlike some muffins with fruit in them that get soggy on day 2.

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/3 cup canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (I usually just use cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger)
  • cinnamon sugar

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 and put muffin tins in a 12-muffin pan.
  2. Whisk together the first 4 ingredients.
  3. Add all remaining ingredients except the cinnamon sugar and whisk ingredients together.
  4. Fill muffin cups 3/4 of the way full.
  5. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.
  6. Bake for 25-30 minutes (mine are always done at 25).

Enjoy these August days – eat as much ice cream as possible and run in those sprinklers – it’ll be back to school soon enough!

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Leisure Time

Once a year my husband heads to Maine on a Friday morning with all three kids. This means that when I get home from work on Friday night, I get the house all to myself for a glorious 12-14 hours.  Sure, I’ll be sleeping for 7-8 of those hours but the other 5 or 6 hours?  I can do whatever I want!  And those sleeping hours?  They will be uninterrupted! (Except maybe by the confused cat, wondering where the rest of her noisy family is.) And the waking hours?  No one asking for anything (except maybe the hungry cat)! No one needing dressing, changing, wiping, feeding or any of my attention!  OH HAPPY DAY!

 

My mind spins with all of the possibilities!  I will make a plan!

THE PLAN:

I will…

… go to Target on the way home, or maybe Whole Foods, or maybe Trader Joe’s!  I never go to Trader Joe’s! I will get their margarita mix!  And some onion bhajis!  And croissants! And flowers!  And mango babka!

Image from Trader Joe's. Click on photo to go there!

Image from Trader Joe’s. Click on photo to go there!

… swing by Starbucks for an iced tea! That I won’t have to share!

… stop by my regular grocery store to pick up some items on my list! And wander slowly through the aisles, contentedly humming along to the piped-in grocery store music! And I won’t buy goldfish! Or yogurt in a tube!

… go home, preheat the oven and make this chocolate cake! While listening to 80’s hits and dancing around the kitchen!

Smitten Kitchen's Everyday Chocolate Cake. This is her photo - isn't it gorgeous?! Click on the link to visit her site - it is one of the very best!

Smitten Kitchen’s Everyday Chocolate Cake. This is her photo – isn’t it gorgeous?! Click on the link to visit her site – it is one of the very best!

… clear some toys from the toy room while the cake is baking!  Finally get around to moving the toys we are keeping into the newly-finished basement!  Prep some toys for donation! Good deeds! Tax write-offs! Less legos to step on!

… clear some of the 5,000 photos (I’m not joking) off of my phone!  Back everything up to the Cloud, my laptop, and my external drive!  Add photos to my family photo share site!

… figure out my Amazon Fire TV stick!

… unpack my suitcase from my Midwest trip! Do a load of cold delicates that is just mine!

… go out and get a steak or something decadent, and sit alone, sipping a cocktail (or two!) and reading!  No picking up pieces of cold, slimy mac & cheese off of the floor when I’m done! No rushing through dinner! No asking for the check when I order the entree!

Yes, please.

Yes, please.

… put on my PJs and watch a movie of my choosing, with an R rating, from the seat of my choosing, on my own couch! While eating cake!

… sleep a glorious 8 hours! Wake slowly! Drink an entire cup of coffee while it it still hot! Take a walk then a long shower using all the hot water I want! Eat a piece of chocolate cake for breakfast! No need to set a good example!

… swing by the farmer’s market for raspberries! And tomatoes! And veggies! And anything else that strikes my fancy!

… pack my bag for the journey up to Maine! Listen to podcasts on the way! Stop at my favorite outlet in Kittery! Make it up to see the kids at lunch, feeling fulfilled and refreshed!

THE REALITY:

I will go home, put on my PJs, and order Thai take out.

I will then realize I have to get dressed to get the Thai food, throw on a sweatshirt (in July), and hope I don’t run into anyone I know who is out and being social and fun on a Friday night.

On the way out, I will realize we are out of cat food but skip the grocery store, lest I run into one of those social, fun, productive acquaintances. This means I will have to listen to the cat loudly lament the terribleness that is dry food (disgusting death nuggets, stupid human!) for the rest of the evening.

I will half watch The Great British Bake Off (go Ian!) while playing Plants v. Zombies until my eyelids droop at 9pm.

I will wake up to pee twice, and to a meowing cat three times.  And I will wake up three more times for no good reason, other than that I’m really used to sleeping next to my husband.

I will leave early to go to Maine, because I’m inexplicably up at 5:30am and have no coffee or half and half in the house, because I anti-socially skipped the grocery store.

And I’ll drive straight through, because I should.  And because Maine is awesome.  And so are my kids and my husband.

And lobster.

 

The Land of Misfit Bloggers?

I am a toy gun that shoots jelly.

A train with square wheels.

A doll that cries real tears. (Okay, this one always freaked me out a little bit.  It just seemed too deep and serious, and not full of playful Christmas-ness.)

I guess I am a mommy blogger.  Because I am a mommy.  And a blogger.  But I’m having trouble defining myself… finding my voice… understanding why I feel compelled to do this.

I’ve been reading a lot of blogs.  And most mommy blogs fall into these categories (some even fit into several!)…

1. Miscarriage/fertility issues

2. Green mommies

3. Great mommy cooks

4. Working mommies with high-powered careers

5. Christian mommies

6. Mommies who have suffered PPD

7. Frugal mommies

8. SAHMs

I guess I almost fit into a few of these.    But not really.

Are there other bloggers out there like me?  If so, where?

My name is Sarky T.  I’m a mommy of 1 (with another on the way) who is…

…trying to live a balanced life

…while working full-time

…while saving for retirement

…while making time to have fun

…while attempting to live with kindness

…while nurturing my relationships

…while seeking health and balance

…while making positive social change (or at least not screwing things up too badly)

…while raising reasonably well-adjusted kids (okay, I’m really hoping I just don’t mess them up too badly)

…while learning more about myself and the people and world around me.

And perhaps I should add – while trying not to drive myself and those around me crazy with my seemingly unattainable goals.

So… am I Herbie, who wants to be a dentist?  Or are there other mommy bloggers out there like me?

Let me know.  And watch out for the Bumble.

The Dinner Dilemma Part 1

I’m not into dinner.  I’m trying to be, for the sake of family dinners, blah blah blah.  But I’d be pretty happy with crackers, cheese, fruit and the only dirty dish being one solitary knife (and maybe a plate.  Maybe.)  I plan meals ahead for a week and then I slack off.  Argh.  My husband is very tolerant of my dinner dilemma, that sweet Mr. T. But today, when I actually made dinner he was so very excited.  He thanked me about 37 times.  He cleaned his plate.  He asked for leftovers for lunch.  The dearie. I should make him dinner more often.

I cooked tonight because the pork was thawed, and I had the other 4 ingredients on hand.  I also cooked tonight because I was home early, and Mr. Pickle Pumpkin decided to entertain himself with the drawer of plastic containers for 7 minutes.  I tried to find this recipe online, but amazingly, I couldn’t.  I learned this one from my friend, Suzie.  Next, time I’ll try to snap some photos while I cook.  But this time, I’m going to pat myself on the back for simply getting a hot meal on the table.

     

Peachy Pork Piquante

  1. Heat about 1T vegetable oil in a pan (deep enough to hold saucy, gooey liquid) over medium heat.
  2. Cut about 2 lbs. of pork (tenderloin, loin, chops, whatever) into cubes and place into a big plastic bag.
  3. Put one packet of taco seasoning into the bag, seal and shake to coat the pork.  Pour the contents into the hot pan.
  4. Saute the pork until it is pretty much cooked through.
  5. Add 1C. salsa (jarred is fine, I used medium)
  6. Add 3/4 C. apricot or peach preserves.
  7. Cook it for a little while until it is bubbly and saucy.  If you want less sauce, decrease the amounts of salsa and preserves.
  8. Serve over rice.  I served it with a dollop of sour cream and some chopped up cilantro.
This recipe served 2 hungry adults, and I packed up 2 portions for lunch.
Upcoming dinner dilemmas?  Calzones.  Indian simmer sauces.