Thursday, June 28, 2012

Bikini so Teeny

Loving Essie’s new summer nail polish “Bikini so Teeny”!

I wore Essie’s “crème de menthe mint” this spring and loved that too.  I recall my boss telling me that his 8-year old daughter got a pedicure and picked a similar color.  I was wondering if green nail polish was appropriate in the corporate world and considering references were made to 8-year old girls I’m quite sure that it’s not.

Oh well, better luck blue!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Junk Pizza

A weeknight staple in our house is what we like to call “junk pizza”.  Toppings include any and all spare ingredients we can piece together from the fridge, hence the name.  Effective fridge cleaning exercise and tasty too!

I’m not going to sit here and claim it as a health food item, but I do my best to lean in that direction.  I use a whole wheat Boboli crust, pesto or olive oil for the sauce and very little cheese.

Last night’s junk pizza was created using rotisserie chicken* chunks, onion, bell pepper, jalapeños and fresh tomato slices.  Some ingredients were new, some were used!  In the past I’ve used spinach, mushrooms, squash and broccoli.  Seriously, whatever you can find in the veggie drawer is good…it’s pizza, baby!

 * Chef’s note J: Rotisserie chicken is a staple in my fridge.  I buy one a week!  I will peel back the skin and chop up the chicken breast for a quick salad or pasta and Cooper boy loves just eating it plain.  You can imagine my delight when HEB started putting out an “All Natural” version.  Mommy approved!

Kyle says “junk pizza” is one of my best dishes.  At 5 minutes or less of prep time, I’m not sure that’s a compliment but I'll take it! 

Monday, June 25, 2012

Terrified of Technology

The ease in which my 17 month old navigates an iPad is terrifying!  He knows how to turn it on, find his games "Bar" (Peek-a-boo Barn) or "Wheels" (=Wheels on the Bus) and can sit there and independently play his game.  Wonderful for cooking dinner and airplanes but I wonder where this leads???

Here's a video of Cooper playing "Bar".

Fast forward 15 years and I'm picturing Cooper telling me: "I met this girl in an online virtual chat room where we had dinner via holograph while I downloaded her data.  Oh yeah, she's coming to meet you from China and she has a full-body tattoo."  I don't know why the tattoo but it seems fitting.

Kyle and I have resorted to joining every social networking site we hear of just to stay on top of the game.  Facebook, Twitter, name it!  What I'm really hoping is that in 15 years its cool to "unplug" and go "tech-free".  One can wish!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

It's all good in the 'hood

I love my neighborhood.  It's dripping in kids and dogs.  We literally borrow sugar from our neighbors (and Tylenol and maple syrup and babysitters...)  This is what a $3 watermelon and an ice chest of beer will buy you on a sunny summer afternoon:

Cooper went a little overboard with the yellow chalk here:

And here: 

If you ever feel like stepping into a Norman Rockwell painting look us up!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Kyle's blog

When I started this blog, Kyle (in his ever not-so-subtle way) told me “That’s great!  Now everyone that has always wanted to know what you do every minute of the day will finally be in the know!”  Ego = checked, but I didn’t let it stop me!

A mere two weeks down the road I am rather tickled at Kyle’s ever-increasing interest in the blog.  I get emails at work asking me for a list of upcoming blog topics.  Before he takes a bite of his dinner he pauses and asks “Are you going to blog this?”  And then the other day, this stack of his homegrown tomatoes neatly appeared in the exact perfectly lit place where I take all of my pictures.

When questioned, he simply said “You should blog my tomatoes.”  When further questioned about what I should say about them he said “Show people how beautiful they are and tell them about how I turned a little patch of backyard into an organic garden.”

Welp, there you go honey.  Tomatoes are blogged and your secret love affair with Cheeseburgers on China is out!  (More on the garden later, it is a labor of love and we all love it!)

Happy weekend to all!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


I want to be Giada De Laurentiis.  I mean seriously, who can look that cute chopping onions?  Please stop.  You are making the rest of us look bad.

I'm pretty sure Kyle wants me to be Giada too...and it ain't for the cookin'!  His favorite episode is when Todd (her husband) has been out all day surfing with the boys and she decides to make he and his friends a hearty white bean chili to warm them up while they enjoy a nice stout by the fire-pit on the beach.  Gag.

Back to reality in H-town...when Kyle spends all day golfing with the boys, he is lucky if there is a plate of leftovers waiting for him to wash down with the half glass of wine that i *maybe* saved...if he is lucky!

Kyle and I both love to cook big meals on the weekends.  The more "out there" the recipe the better.  42 ingredients?  SURE!  Two hours spent at Central Market on a Saturday?  HEAVEN (provided we have a babysitter)!  

On the weeknights its a different story.  I get home from work between 5:30 and 6 and try to have dinner ready by 6:30 so we can all eat together before Cooper boy goes down.  We definitely get in a rut.  "Do you want salmon tonight with your broccoli, or would you rather just have chicken, again?" BLAH!

So when Giada came out with her new cookbook, Weeknights with Giada, I pre-ordered it!  I must say, it hasn't disappointed!  My goal is to try a new recipe from it per week and have come up with some winners that will definitely stay in the rotation.  It is not some cheese-ball cookbook for dinners in "30 minutes or less using only 3 ingredients".  Its the real deal, only faster!  There's a whole section on breakfast for dinner and a "change of pace" section that is more worldly than her traditional Italian.  If you decide to get it, be sure to try the spicy meatballs, turkey and pancetta pot pie and mango fish tacos.  

Here's a picture of our Asian Chicken Salad the other night.  Delish! 

Monday, June 18, 2012

Die Red Dye 40

I'll be the first to admit I can get a little crunchy but Motherhood has taken it to a whole new level.  I wasn't always this crazy.  (I think!)  When I was newly pregnant with Cooper, I couldn't get enough sour worms.  Kyle would say to me, "I'm going to kindly ask that you stop eating those" in the nicest way possible.  This would usually result in me throwing something at him but it got me thinking about all of the crap I was consuming.  And not just in the junk food, in the "healthy" stuff too.

I don't take it to the extreme, but I do what I can.  We eat organic fruits and veggies (mostly), hormone free meat (when at home), wild caught fish (sorry CCA!) and try to stay away from processed foods.  This is a handy little cheat sheet that I keep in my wallet so I know when its worth the extra $ to go organic. The Dirty Dozen  My family makes fun of me but I've spied a copy or two in their wallets too!

We do it mostly for the Cooper man.  Don't get me wrong, dude has eaten a french fry and chowed down on some Blue Bell (like any good Texan should)!  I fully expect for him to drink a Coke one day and eat so much Halloween candy he makes himself sick but I'd like take this blip in time when I have full control over his diet to give him a good foundation.

Cooper loves berries.  "Baaaaaiiiiiiiiieeeeeeesssssss" as he calls them.  He requests them when he's hurt and when he doesn't like his dinner.  And you should see the way the little stinker asks for them with his cocked head, sweet smile and twinkling eyes.  I swear his eyelashes grow an inch when he's working me over!

The other day I went to the store to get him some berry popsicles for a little summer treat.  I started reading labels in search of some that were "all fruit".  Big mistake.  Meltdown in aisle 12!  Yes there were many that contained "all natural fruit" but even the most trusted brands had Red Dye 40 and xanthan gum.  What the heck is xanthan gum and why should my sweet baby boy with his shiny little eyes ingest it?

So, I did what any gal would do...called my mom!  She reminded me that when we were little she used to make us our own popsicles out of fruit juice.  Aha!  Taking it old school!

I found these little popsicle molds on and went to work!  One bag of frozen organic blueberries, about 2 cups of pear juice and about 1 cup of water in the blender and voila!  Homemade pops with nothing but the good stuff!

My little guinea pig enjoying his "baaaaiiiieeeeeee" (aka berry) treat!  Such a hit!


Sunday, June 17, 2012

Father's Day, Al Bundy style...

Kyle asked for two things for Father's Day: 1) to sleep in and 2) to watch full coverage of the U.S. Open.  No gifts, no frills.  I get it.  For Mother's Day I also asked to sleep in and I wanted an hour to myself, uninterrupted, to clean out my closet.  Lame?!  I guess when you are used to your day being dictated by a curly-headed blonde dude that stands at less than three feet tall it is nice to call the shots.

Kyle enjoying his day:

Here is a picture from Father's Day last year and one from our brunch with Kyle's grandparents.  What a difference a year makes!  

Friday, June 15, 2012

It’s a love without end, Amen.


Reflecting on Father’s Day, I thought I’d share one of my most guilty pleasures…

There are not many songs that I don’t know the words to.  Maybe it’s from being in show choir in high school?  (NERD!  But, I swear all of the cool kids did it!)  This trait frustrated me to no end when I was in school and studying…”Why can I recite every word to ‘Whoomp there it is’ but I can’t remember this &*%( formula”?  Don’t even get me started on show tunes!  But I digress…

Kyle is a man of many talents but to say music is not Kyle’s strong suit is a huge understatement.  He will attempt to sing me a song 10 times to see if I have heard it before and we usually have to resort to iTunes before I realize what he is singing.  At this point I am usually rolling the ground laughing.  My favorite thing is to try to sing the song back to him the way he sang it to me.  He doesn’t think that’s as funny as I do!  Not only is he tone deaf (sorry babe!) but, in his own words “I just listen to the music, I don’t pay attention to what they are saying!”  He is always asking me what songs mean.

When we put Cooper down at night, we read him books and sing him a song or two.  One of my favorite things is to listen on the monitor to Kyle putting Cooper down.  Kyle’s version of the singing portion includes the Aggie War Hymn, which I fully expected, and the sweetest George Strait song ever, which came out of left field.  Kyle sometimes forgets a verse or confuses the lyrics but the chorus, and the message, is always the same:

Let me tell you a secret, about a father’s love
A secret that my daddy said was just between us
He said daddies don’t just love their children every now and then
It's a love without end, amen.

Full lyrics here:

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Baby we can work it out!

About 6 months after Cooper was born, Kyle and I were dying to get back into a work-out routine but we struggled on how to make it work.  Long gone were the days of "I'm going to catch a spin class after work, see you at home with take-out!"  Hello to "If I walk up and down the street with a crying baby 20 times does that count?" and "YOUR turn to go to the store after work for miscellaneous baby item a, b or c!"

Problem:  When could we find time to work-out?  Before work was out of the question.  Kyle leaves the house around 6:15am and I'm tending to Cooper some days by 5:30am.  After work and before Cooper's bedtime is the precious 1.5-2 hours I get with the little man every day.  Out on that too.  We considered joining a gym and trading off nights after we but Cooper down but then when would we see each other?  How do two working parents squeeze in work-outs and still have family time and couple time?  

Solution: Kyle-90x.  The garage work-out instructed by none other than Kyle Charles.  That's the former collegiate athlete in him.  My contribution?  Work-out jams with rap music so ghetto it will make yo' Mama blush.  That's the former East Dallas girl in me!

The selling points:
  • It's quick and efficient.  In 30 minutes or less, we accomplish both cardio and strength training. 
  • We get our family time in.  After work and before Cooper goes to bed we unplug, eat dinner together and enjoy our little guy.
  • We spend time together.  Nothing like sweating it out with your main man!  There are some words of encouragement, a few grumbles and every so often the "You want me to do what?  You are out of your #*%&@  mind!"
  • You don't need a lot of equipment.  We've pieced it together here and there but the basics are weights, resistance bands and jump ropes.  Oh, and a car battery to hold down your battle ropes!
  • It's sustainable.  We've been doing this for 10 months now.  It's not some over-the-top routine that you want to quit after 1 month.  It fits our lives and our time budget.
  • The neighbors love it.  Highly entertaining to those around us.  Especially those drinking Dos XX in their front yard watching us go.  You know who you are. 
  • It works.  Baby weight gone. Enough said!
The plan:
  1. Cardio warm-up.  One person goes on a quick run while the other jumps rope or other cardio activity (with an eye on the baby monitor, of course).  Switch!  I try to convince Kyle hula-hooping is cardio just like he tries to convince me practicing his golf swing is.  Not buying it!
  2. Circuit training.  Four sets of five high intensity exercises.  You go as hard as you can for 30 seconds, take a 30 second break and then move on to the next exercise.  An example would be four sets of: 1) squats 2) push-ups 3) box jumps 4) biceps and 5) shoulder presses.  

 Kyle obliged me with an action shot of the box jump!

How do you other busy people out there get it done?

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Everybody's working for the weekend

It's so cliche but we LIVE for the weekend in my house.  Some of the best weekends are planned around meals and good friends.  ALL of the best weekends involve big breakfasts.  We are huge breakfast people.  So much so that, when in town, breakfasts are planned to the last detail days in advance.  See Exhibit A: an email from Kyle Thursday afternoon...

From: Charles, Kyle 
To: Charles, Casey
Sent: Thu Jun 07 15:06:40 2012
Subject: Weekend checklist 

1. Sleep in
2. Eat sloppy breakfast sandwich
3. Drink margaritas and wine
4. Dinner with the Zorichs

Point #1 is well taken but with a 16 month old this is usually wishful thinking.  Point #2 we mastered on Saturday morning and this morning we moved on to waffles, Kyle's favorite. While we tend to use boxed waffle mix I assure you this is no low rent affair!  We found the greatest waffle mix at HEB and also Gucci it up a bit.  A splash of vanilla and some citrus zest go a long way (we used grapefruit today but lemon and orange are great too).

Top that off with great bacon and we are good to go!  We have found that good bacon really is worth the extra $.  Last year for Christmas Kyle researched where the "happiest pigs in the U.S." were raised and had bacon from Iowa delivered in dry ice to our front door!  Today we went with Apple Smoked Uncured bacon from Central Market.  Delish! 

Cooper got in on the action too!

Afterwards, a little shirtless Swiffering.  He is going to be the man of some girl's dreams!!! What a hunk!

I want to know...What are your favorite weekend breakfasts???

Saturday, June 9, 2012

This one's for you!

After many years of steadfast, patient-ish encouragement from one of my dearest friends and much accomplished blogger, Chelsea Salomone (check her out!), here I am!  I feel the need to document the craziness that is life as a full-time mom, with a full-time job, with full-time demands from the hubs, kiddo and dog.  Oh, and the cat...I think she's around here somewhere!  I have a few hobbies which include drinking wine, eating good food and working out so that I can eat!  I throw in some cooking here and there, mostly hits but some rather glorious misses!

Here's a little gem from our first swim lesson today.  Around the 20 second marker Cooper is thinking "get me away from this crazy lady" and Kyle is wishing he could trade places with Cooper! ;)