Birthday, Labor Day, Lazy Days

Whew…happy Tuesday y’all. The long weekend was, in fact, quite long (the good kind, not the bad) and I’m looking at a very full September calendar wondering just how we got here – the end-ish of summer, the beginning of a new season. We spent a good part of our weekend celebrating B’s birthday. He isn’t big on fuss- he doesn’t want a party and I often have to pull meal requests out of him like pulling teeth (“I like everything you make”) but we still manage to let him know he is loved.

His parents came into town on Friday so we kicked birthday/Labor Day weekend off with a meal out. Gracie ate none of her grilled cheese but all of her fruit and charmed everyone at the table with her sweet behavior and love of coloring. She wore a dress from my childhood and looked fantastic if I do say so myself.

LaborDay2

LaborDay1

Who knew that a hidden joy of parenting is dressing your child up in your old clothes? Also, please note my child is now tolerating bows in her hair, which is good since we own a metric ton of them.

After dinner we headed back to our house for pre-birthday birthday cake so we could enjoy it with the whole crowd. I made this recipe and it was pretty dang good- I should have crushed the Oreos smaller, but besides that, divine!

LaborDay3

Saturday morning, B’s actual birthday was spent at the zoo just the three of us (B’s parents were helping his Aunt with a few house projects), where we checked out the “heebras” (zebras), the sea lions, the ‘mingos (flamingos) and of course the monkeys and lions. Fun tip: the gates of the Lincoln Park Zoo open an hour or so before the zoo officially opens (kiosks, special exhibits, etc) and this is when the animals are their most lively- the temperatures are cool, breakfast is being served, and you get a lot more action than the middle of the afternoon.

LaborDay5

LaborDay6

Post-zoo there was lunch and naps and general relaxation and playing with Grandma and Grandpa before B and I headed out for a night on the town. I had made reservations at Summer House and we enjoyed tuna tostadas, burrata with a tomato compote, rainbow trout with roasted walnuts (him), orecchiette with lobster, corn and truffles (her), and one of their signature cookies for dessert. After long conversations (about…nothing, everything, Gracie, and stuff in between it all) we wandered around and ended up at the bar of a French restaurant that we ate at for my 24th birthday, way back in the day. A couple that was about to get married was sitting near us, and it made us do a lot of “remember when” on the cab ride home. All in all, a wonderful day celebrating my favorite person.

The best part of the weekend was that even after a jam-packed Saturday we still had two days for relaxing. B’s parents hit the road home after a nice breakfast out on Sunday and we spent the rest of the weekend enjoying our in-town down-time – splash park, grilling out with neighbors, playing with the dog and generally enjoying life. Even if summer is “officially” (but not really) over, we still have a few summer-y things on the calendar before we are in the full swing of fall and pumpkins and falling leaves.

Your Knees Your Problem

Have you heard the fuss lately about the flight that had to land early because two passengers got into an altercation over seat reclining? It would seem that one passenger was employing this gadget called a “knee defender” that when used prevents the passenger in front of you from reclining their seat. The passenger in the affected seat was frustrated, asked for help from the flight attendant, refusal/words/throwing water ensued, and bam, flight landed.

And then I see people talking about how rude it is to recline your seat.

Needle screech. What? RUDE?

I suppose this is an issue if people go so far as to invent devices to prevent seat reclining, and some say that reclined seats make laptops hard to use on tray tables (I don’t think my laptops are unusally large or big but I can’t say I’ve encountered this) but I’m perplexed. When I purchase a ticket on a plane, I buy a seat and I expect it to recline. It is part of the feature that I am paying for, just like a tray table and on some flights, a complimentary beverage. I’m sorry that my reclining eats up your room, but then you can recline YOUR seat if you like. The only non reclining people are those sitting in seats with little placards that say THIS SEAT DOES NOT RECLINE and those seats? Are the least popular on the whole damn airplane. You know why? THEY DO NOT RECLINE.

Now, there are some seats on a plane that are not affected by reclined seats. First class, business class, seats behind the exit row, seats in the bulkhead- all of these seats are yours for the taking! Pony up the money (for the seat, the early boarding, the what have you) and sit in your own special person seat so you knees are not knocked by the seat in front of you. Did you know many airlines will allow particularly tall people to pre-board so they can select a coveted seat (on open seating airlines). It is true. If you find yourself over 6 feet tall, feel free to ask. I once boarded a flight with an entire college basketball team and the majority of the team got to preboard because they were all so tall.

Flying isn’t the glamarous, wonderful thing it used to be in years gone by. It is crowded and cramped and there is always a rude person on board that does something that affects many. Don’t be that person. Don’t block the seat in front of you from reclining. Don’t get so huffy about a person using a FEATURE OF THEIR SEAT THAT THEY PAID FOR that a plane has to land.

 

Tomatoes

I’m struggling to believe that the end of August is slowly approaching. Didn’t summer just start? Don’t we have many more weekends of barbecuing and sunscreen application? Is it really time to contemplate football and the glorious end of baseball season in Chicago (thus making my commute soooo much better)?

Side note: All of the back to school photos in my Facebook feed have me panicking about back to school 2016 (yes, two years away) when, arguably, Gracie will be entering preschool. There are so many choices for schools in Chicago, with many different curriculums and price points and public schools with selective applications (and waayyyy more potential students than seats) and private schools with curriculums and governing boards and methodologies, and there is Montessori, and classical, language immersion, Common Core, magnet schools…….. I want to crawl into a hole every time I have to think about it.

Anyhoo. Back to the topic at hand: delicious things I’ve made to eat.

Last night we were grilling chicken for dinner (Monday nights are always an “easy” meal in our house, aka, must be ready to eat in under 30 minutes) and I made a couscous salad as a side dish. I read a bunch of couscous salad recipes, threw caution to the wind and mixed together:

  • 1 cup of dry Israeli couscous, cooked
  • 1 cucumber, peeled and chopped
  • 1 pint of grape tomatoes, tossed in EVOO and s/p and roasted under the broiler for 10 minutes
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • a healthy glug of EVOO
  • 2 tablespoons high quality balsamic vinegar

It was pretty spectacular and I’d guess that if you paired it up with some wilted spinach and sliced fresh buffalo mozarella it would make an excellent vegetarian dinner. Or you can pair it with grilled chicken and grilled summer squash and call it a night.

I also made a tomato tart recently that was beyond awesome…so if you have a bunch of summer tomatoes you need to use, look no further than this beauty. The recipe was given to me by our old nanny share family and I know I’ll be making it for years to come. Tart pictures here, alongside a lemon cake I made:

 

Cheddar Pecorino Tomato Tart
Author: 
Recipe type: Side dish
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
 
Delicious summer tart is a perfect side dish for any meal
Ingredients
  • 2 cups flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1.5 cups shredded sharp cheddar
  • 10 tbs unsalted butter, cubed and chilled
  • 1.5 tsp salt, plus more to taste
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper, more to taste
  • ⅓ cup ice cold water
  • 3 medium tomatoes cored and sliced
  • ⅓ cup grated pecorino cheese
  • ¼ cup of mayo
  • 2 thinly sliced green onions
  • 1 tbs finely chopped basil
Instructions
  1. In food process, pulse flour, ½ cup of cheddar, butter, s/p, until it forms into pea sized crumbles. Slowly add cold water, pulsing until dough comes together.
  2. Form dough into flat disk, chill for 1 hour
  3. Spread sliced tomatoes onto paper towels, sprinkle with salt and drain for one hour
  4. Heat oven to 425 degrees
  5. Roll dough to ⅛ inch thickness, and transfer to parchment paper lined baking sheet
  6. Mix ¾ cup cheddar, pecorino, mayo, salt and pepper in a bowl
  7. Spread cheese mixture on crust, leaving a 1.5 inch border
  8. Top with tomato slices, sprinkle with green onions and basil
  9. Fold up overhanging crust
  10. Bake until golden brown, about 40 minutes

 

And in final “tomato” goodness, I’ve taken to tossing a pint of cherry tomatoes with about a half a cup of enchilada sauce and a splash of olive oil and roasting under the broiler whenever we have tacos….delicious, easy and full of flavor.

Enjoy those final summer tomatoes!

Daisy Q & A: Balancing Parenthood Between 2 Working Parents

Ok, so next up in the reader questions, Natalie asks: I’m interested in how you and your husband share parenting duties, especially with his weekend commitments.  

The short answer: very carefully and with lots of teamwork.

The real answer is much longer of course. B and I both work, and both of our offices are in the suburbs. I go into the office twice a week, B goes into the office most days but has plenty of days that start or end in a courthouse, deposition or other meeting not in his office. Daycare is South of our house, our offices are North. B sails pretty regularly in the summer and my girlfriends are pretty good at regular “lets get together for dinner/a glass of wine”. So between it all…..

B has morning duty 95% of the time. On the days I go into the office it is all him, on the days I work from home it is mostly him. I set outfits and daycare “necessities” (back up outfits, a new nap blanket, a signed form, etc) every evening, and B is mostly the one responsible for getting up with her and getting her out the door. On the days I work from home I chip in where I can, and I try to set up as much of her breakfast as I can before I hit the road or start working. On the odd day that B has to leave the house really early (typically for court in a county far, far away) he tries to give me as much advance notice as possible so I can shift my work schedule around to accommodate doing the drop off.

I have afternoon duty 95% of the time. I pick up from daycare, get her home and bathed (first thing first, immediately, goodby germs), get her dinner made and get her fed. On a “usual” night, B comes home shortly after she has finished eating (she eats at 6, he gets home between 6:30 and 6:45). We all play, read stories, I try to prep as much of the adult dinner as I can, and after Gracie goes down at 7:30, we make and eat our dinner.

On nights that one of us has a “thing” (work, social or otherwise) we put it on the shared Google calendar, make sure the other person can leave work in enough time to pick her up/get home with enough time for the other person to get out the door. On the weekends we share duties as much as we can- one of us gets up with her while the other makes breakfast. One of us stays home with her while the other runs to the grocery. We take turns bathing her, we eat meals as a family (so we both feed her) and we trade off as much as we can.  When B sails, Gracie and I do our thing solo. I try to make the days fun- a trip to the zoo, splash park, playground, farmers market, brunch with friends, you name it.

There are weeks that I tackle a lot more of the parenting duties, there are weeks that B does. We try really hard to be respectful of each other’s work calendars- for instance, I have to go into the office on Thursdays barring natural disaster or the flu. I try not to ask B to leave the office “early” (they don’t have set office hours, but you know what I mean) more than once a week, which means sometimes I say no to an event if I had something else earlier in the week. It isn’t always even. Sometimes after 7 or 8 nights of bath duty I get snippy “come on, you can handle the bath tonight” and sometimes B asks for a little more help in the morning so he can get out the door. With communication and a shared calendar though, we seem to make it work!

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