My Summer 2017 Favorites

It’s still officially summer, but with school having started and temps mainly in the 60’s these days, it definitely feels like fall.

Between the long days, the beautiful colors, and the more relaxed pace of life, I absolutely adore summer. Each year is a little different, though, and these are the things I loved most this year:

Atypical Summer Weather

I’m pretty cold-intolerant, but I’m not a fan of extreme heat or humidity, either. Most years, we get plenty of days of hazy, hot, and humid weather. In fact, most of the months of July and August can be this way. This year, though, we had very little of it. In fact, I can think of only a handful of days when we had typical summer weather. The humidity has generally been low, and I don’t think we hit 90 degrees more than once or twice. This meant we barely used our air conditioning – great for the electric bill! – and being outside was quite pleasant.

A rare, summery day

Veggies and Flowers for the Picking

Gardening is one of the things I enjoy most in summer. Our growing season is pretty short here in upstate New York, so I try to squeeze as much out of it as I can. We have a perennial bed that requires little maintenance, so I focus my efforts on two beds where I plant annuals. I adore zinnias, and plant as many varieties of them as possible. This year I added a number of different kinds of cosmos, as well as other annuals. Perhaps my biggest gardening victory this year was that my sunflowers survived! Every year, I plant several packets of sunflower seeds, and never once have they come to fruition. (The chipmunks seem to be the culprit.) For whatever reason, they did not get to my sunflower seeds/seedlings this year, and I’ve had a plethora of Shock-O-Lat, Vanilla Ice, Moulin Rouge, and other sunflowers.

I also had success with my veggie garden this year. I use the straw bale gardening method for my veggies, and this year I planted 15 bales. I stuck to veggies I knew my family and I would eat, rather than branching out and trying new ones. We’ve been swimming in Sun Gold, Chocolate Cherry, and Tiger Stripes cherry tomatoes, for weeks! (I’m still waiting for my full-size tomatoes to ripen…) I also had a good number of  cucumbers, zucchini, and summer squash. My beets are making slow progress, and I plan to leave them in the ground for as long as possible.

I love stepping out into my yard and picking bowls of cherry tomatoes and armfuls of flowers to display inside my house. As fall becomes more and more imminent, I treasure these trips even more.

She Loved Camp (Mostly)

My daughter is an only child, so socialization over the summer can be challenging. As a result, she started attending summer camp several years ago. Over the last four or five summers, she’s attended five different summer camps. And every year, she’s complained or resisted at least somewhat. This is always a source of anxiety and frustration for me, because I know she benefits from attending camp.

This year, she attended two, two-week sessions of the local children’s theater camp. (She attended the same camp last year, but was placed in a younger age group, which was not the best fit for her.) She loved both sessions, and impressed me with her comfort with auditioning for parts each session. She made new friends, and clearly enjoyed herself during each of the shows. It was such a relief that she had such a positive experience this year, and she’s already informed us that she wants to attend the same camp next year.

My little pig is on the right

She was less excited about her week of Girl Scouts camp, though. There weren’t any major complaints or problems; it just didn’t suit her. She even did do the one overnight at the camp, without incident.

Our Fire Pit

My husband is a pretty handy guy. He’s patient, and takes the time to do a lot of research on his various projects. His DIY-ing saves us a good bit of money, but I don’t always get excited about his projects. However, this spring he built a fire pit in our backyard, and I have absolutely loved using it. We’ve got a couple of Adirondack chairs and log benches around it, and we’ve enjoyed many times around the fire, most including smores, or at least marshmallows. It’s warm and relaxing, and I look forward to many more fires this fall and in future years!

The fire pit my husband built for us

Good Fiction Reads

In recent years, I’ve focused much of my reading on nonfiction books – some of which I’ve enjoyed, and some have felt like more of a chore. One of my goals for 2017 is to read 24 books that I really want to read. (In the past, I’ve been guilty of reading books that I’ve felt like I should read, even if I wasn’t really excited about them.)

I’ve read several nonfiction books this year, but I’ve also read several fiction books this spring and summer. (You can see all of my 2017 reads here.) With the exception of one, I thoroughly enjoyed all of my fiction reads, and I look forward to reading more fiction in the future.

Probably my favorite fiction read of the year

What are some of your favorites from Summer, 2017?

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Monday Meal Plan #42

Happy Labor Day Monday! I hope you’re enjoying a lovely, holiday weekend!

Weekend Recap

Summer seems to have abruptly ended in these parts. We didn’t have very many standard hot and humid summer days this year, but it was generally pretty warm. However, once the last few days of August rolled around, Mother Nature threw in the towel and started the clock on fall. I like fall, I really do, but it would’ve been nice to have temps in the 70’s and 80’s for a couple more weeks… As proof that fall got an early start, I wore a fleece jacket and SmartWool socks all weekend, and we even switched on the heat yesterday morning!

My father-in-law came up from New Jersey on Saturday. He and my husband had tickets for the Zac Brown Band concert in SPAC that night. My daughter and I went to see the movie, Leap, and hung out at home for the rest of the evening. She says it’s her new favorite movie.

Yesterday’s weather was cold – it never got out of the mid-50’s – with rain all day. After my father-in-law left, we took a family trip to one of my least favorite stores, Home Depot. We had our deck replaced last year, and now it’s time to weatherproof it. We chose a basically clear stain, plus deck cleaner, rollers, and a tray. Good times. We spent the rest of the day at home, in our pajamas.

After dinner, my husband and daughter watched a Star Wars movie, and I put together my work schedule for most of the upcoming academic year. This will be my seventh year at my current job, and I’m also going to be working part-time at another college for a few months. It took me a good hour to coordinate my work days at the two colleges, with my daughter’s school calendar. Why must there be so many half days and random days off in the fall??

Because things will be more hectic than usual for a couple of months, I’m going to focus on making some freezer meals over the next few weeks. I’ll probably just make double batches of some dinners, and freeze the second batches for the future.

The Week Ahead

School starts on Wednesday this week, and my daughter will be a third-grader (sniff, sniff)! On Saturday, we’re going to Sharon Springs for their Harvest Festival, and to tour the Beekman Farm. (You can read about my love for all things Beekman here.) And on Sunday, my daughter and I will be doing a shift at her Brownie troop’s table at the town garage sale. Other than that, it should be a quiet week.

This Week’s Meal Plan

I’m still slogging ahead with Weight Watchers. I’m more than a third of the way toward my goal, and I can’t wait to eat normal food again! Here’s what’s for dinner at my house this week:

  • Monday: Grilled fish and veggies from the garden
  • Tuesday: Turkey and spinach veggie lasagna w/ green salad (I’ll make two trays of the lasagna and freeze one.)
  • Wednesday: Taco salads (beef for them, black beans for me)
  • Thursday: Roasted pork tenderloin w/ frozen peas
  • Friday: Leftover buffet!
  • Saturday: We’ll probably grab something on our way home from Sharon Springs
  • Sunday: Quinoa stuffed bell peppers

What’s for dinner at your house this week?

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My Goals for 2017: Check-In #8

Some people are motivated by rewards. Some people are motivated by fear. Others are internally motivated. Me? I’m motivated by public shame. I do not want to be embarrassed, and that’s what typically gives me the push I need complete things. (I’m what the author Gretchen Rubin would call “an obliger”, based on her personality framework.)

It helped keep me focused when I trained for two marathons in my younger years. I joined Team in Training, which, in exchange for participants raising funds for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, provides coaching, support, and organized, group training runs. Those group runs were critical for me – in particular the weekly “long runs.” Knowing that I would be running 16 miles with a group on Saturday, helped keep me motivated to train on my own throughout the week. I knew I’d never be the first, but I really did not want to be the last person to finish the long runs.

What does this have to do with my 2017 goals? I’m using this motivation to help keep me on track with my goals. I’m sharing monthly check-ins on my progress to keep me focused, and as a form of accountability.

2017 Goals Check-In #8

(You can read more detailed descriptions of each of my goals here.)

Goal #1: Read at least 24 books that I truly want to read.

I really stalled out with reading books in August. Part of this had to do with the fair amount of traveling I did throughout the month, and not wanting to lug books around with me. Also, I get a lot of magazines, and I love reading them. My stack of to-be-read magazines grows a lot when I’m reading books, and periodically I like to make some progress on them. This leaves my total number of books read in 2017 at 13. You can see all of my 2017 reads – current, past, and future – here.

Goal #2: Try at least three new (to me) activities, preferably active ones.

Woo hoo – I finally made some more progress here! Early this month, we took a family vacation to Mont Tremblant resort village in Quebec. (You can read a summary of the trip here.) During the winter, Mont Tremblant is a ski resort. For many reasons, I’ve never been skiing. My strong aversion to the cold is high on the list, as is my fear of heights and falling from them. Specifically, ski lifts scare the bejeezus out of me.

Who’s having fun on the ski lift??

During the summer, the most popular activity at Mont Tremblant is the luge ride down a portion of the mountain. Driving a luge down the mountain was scary enough, but to get to the starting point, you have to take the ski lift. This was terrifying for me, but became a little less so, each time I did. (I did the luge three times.)

I’m not sure if I’m counting this as two – riding a ski lift and driving a luge – new things, or just one. What seems right to you?

Goal #3: Run at least three 5K races. Get 150 minutes of activity every week.

(I changed this goal last month, and you can read my explanation for it here.)

I thought this would be a good measure of my activity level, since I wear my FitBit daily and it tracks this metric, but in August I realized that FitBit is a bit more generous with what it considers to be active minutes than I want to be. As a result, I’m easily hitting this target, sometimes without doing what I would really consider true activity. Fortunately, it also tracks what FitBit considers “exercise”, which is more in-line with what I’m trying to capture. This is where I’ll be looking to measure my progress toward my goal of 150 minutes of activity per week.

Goal #4: Find a way to dread meal planning/cooking less.

This goal was particularly challenging in August, since I started doing Weight Watchers, with a plan to lose 15-17 pounds. (As of the time I wrote this, 5.5 are down…) I did Weight Watchers once before, about a decade ago, and I lost 27 pounds, with minimal discomfort. This is in large part because I love repetition; variety is definitely not the spice of my life! (Thus the need for 2017 goal #2!) I figured out a few meals and snacks that made the most of my daily Points allotment, and basically hit repeat daily.

This extreme repetition does not lend itself well to meal-planning for other family members, so my poor husband and daughter are having a lot of basic dinners. Grilled fish and chicken are things we can all eat, and some nights I have a Smart Ones frozen dinner, while they eat something that would blow through too many of my daily Points. In the meantime, I’ve been gathering recipes for when I can eat more normal foods again.

How are you doing with your 2017 goals or resolutions?

Beekman 1802

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Monday Meal Plan #41

Happy Monday!! I hope you had a fantastic weekend!!

Weekend Update

I mentioned in last week’s meal plan post that my husband didn’t want the summer to end before he got in a little beach time. Since we had already taken a longer summer vacation, he researched the closest beaches to us, and landed upon Hampton Beach, New Hampshire, as our best option. Neither of us had been there, nor even heard much about it.

My husband got out of work early on Friday, and we headed out late that afternoon. We arrived at our hotel in Exeter after dark that night, and woke up early to maximize our day at the beach. While the beach itself is quite nice, the town of Hampton Beach is like a divey Jersey Shore town. We spent most of our time on the beach, though, so it didn’t matter much. We had decent, but overpriced lunch at Bernie’s Beach Bar, and at the end of the day, a delicious, casual dinner at Las Olas Taqueria. (I mentioned last week that I’m currently on Weight Watchers. Needless to say, I suspended my participation during our time away.)

Strange Interesting side note: Saturday happened to be Go Topless Day at Hampton Beach. It was pretty surprising the first couple of times we noticed participants, but thankfully they were pretty small in number.

We considered stopping back at the beach yesterday morning, but after spending seven hours there on Saturday, we had had our fill. Instead we stopped for lunch in Woodstock, VT, which is essentially the polar opposite of Hampton Beach, with its beautiful, historic buildings, and lovely covered bridges.

The Week Ahead

It’s my daughter’s final, full week of summer break! We have several things planned for the week: her Brownie troop’s visit to the county jail and 911 center; a few hours at work with my husband, while I have my annual mammogram; and a trip to the Great Escape, the local Six Flags venue. I may also bring her to my office, so she can see where I work. The students won’t be on campus yet, so it’ll still be relatively quiet in my office. (I return to work on September 19.)

My father-in-law is coming for a quick, overnight visit Saturday, as he and my husband have tickets for the Zac Brown Band concert at SPAC that evening.

And I’ll be getting back on-track with Weight Watchers today. This is my third week on it, minus the time I skipped last weekend.

This Week’s Meal Plan

A friend loaned me her Weight Watchers cookbooks, so in addition to grilling several nights, I’ll be trying some recipes from those books.

  • Monday: Grilled hot dogs and garden veggies (a WW meal for me)
  • Tuesday: Middle Eastern Beef Kababs (from Weight Watchers New Complete Cookbook)
  • Wednesday: Grilled chicken and garden zucchini
  • Thursday: Pork with Ginger and Soy (from Weight Watchers New Complete Cookbook) and rice
  • Friday:  Pasta with Broccoli and Goat Cheese (from – you guessed it! – Weight Watchers New Complete Cookbook)
  • Saturday: My husband and father-in-law will grab something before the concert, so it’ll be a low-key dinner for my daughter and me.
  • Sunday: Grilled fish and garden tomato salad

What’s for dinner at your house this week?

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How We Chose Upstate New York

This spring marked nine years since my husband and I relocated to upstate New York. At the time that we moved, we were childless, but looking to find a place to settle down. This is how we chose to settle here in upstate New York.

Where We Came From

Both my husband and I grew up in places that were not rural, but not quite suburban, either. He grew up in northwestern New Jersey, and I grew up in southern upstate New York. (Read how I define “upstate New York” here.) We each grew up in houses on more than an acre, and that backed up to woods. This is what felt normal to us, and played a large role in what we were looking for in a home.

At the time that we moved, we were living in Jersey City, New Jersey, which is just across the Hudson River from lower Manhattan. We moved there after living for several years in the Battery Park City neighborhood of Manhattan. We had both gone to graduate school in New York, and worked there for several years afterwards.

After three years in Battery Park City, we moved to Jersey City to save on rent, without increasing our commutes by much. It was a good move, but about fifteen months later, we were ready to buy a house. If you know anything about the cost of real estate in the New York City suburbs, you know that it’s pretty astronomical. Not only that, but our commutes would’ve increased – potentially by a lot of time – and become more expensive. (This is a great article about some of the extreme commutes people have taken on to minimize their cost-of-living, while still working in New York City.)

Rather than spend hours each day on a train, we decided to relocate outside the New York metro-area entirely. We knew we’d need to be near a city for my husband to have job opportunities, and we knew we wanted to be someplace that wasn’t too built-up, and also had some sophistication. We wanted a walkable downtown, with non-chain restaurants and shops. And of course we wanted our housing dollars to go farther.

Smallbany It Is!

We ultimately decided on Albany – or “Smallbany”, as some of our downstate friends called it – as the city around which we would center our search. When thinking about where to live, though, I was reminded of a brief stop in Saratoga Springs, many years before, on the way home from a family vacation in Maine. I was in high school at the time, but even then I loved Saratoga – the beautiful, historic homes, the walkable downtown and main street, and the small-town feeling that permeated it.

Depending on where you are in Albany, the drive can take 35-45 minutes from Saratoga, as long as you’re not driving in rush hour traffic. There’s a set of bridges that span the Mohawk River, connecting Saratoga County to Albany County, officially called the Thaddeus Kosciusko Bridge, but referred to by locals as “the Twin Bridges”. Many people warned my husband about the rush hour traffic at the Twin Bridges when we first moved to the area. This always made us chuckle and think, “You don’t know rush hour traffic until you’ve been stuck trying to enter the Holland Tunnel!”

We also researched housing prices, and were just amazed at how much more house we could get for our dollar in the Capital Region, (as the Albany area is called), even in Saratoga Springs, one of the most expensive markets in the Capital Region. And when we researched apartments to live in immediately after we moved, I became giddy at how low the rents were. I actually said, “That’s it?!?”, to a leasing agent at one complex. (My husband, who was hoping to negotiate the rent down even further, was not amused.)

Home Sweet Home

Ultimately, we opted to buy a house in the next town over from Saratoga Springs. We could get even more house for our money just outside Saratoga’s border, and most houses in Saratoga come with much less land than we were looking for. But we can be in downtown Saratoga in ten minutes, so it feels like we have the best of both worlds.

I’m a huge fan of Saratoga Springs and our town, and very happy that we’ve chosen to live and raise our daughter here.

Do you live where you grew up? If not, how did you choose where you live?

Monday Meal Plan #40

Happy Monday!! I hope you had a wonderful, late-summer weekend! It’s been a while since I posted a meal plan, and it’s good to be back at it.

Weekend Recap

My daughter and I spent a few days with my sister and her family in Massachusetts last week, and our drive home on Friday took five and a half hours – more than an hour longer than it usually takes us. With that as a start to the weekend, I was glad we had no plans and were able to lay low as a family.

The weekend weather was lovely – sunny and warm, with minimal humidity. On Saturday, my husband took our daughter to Victoria Pool in Saratoga Spa State Park, then out for lunch and ice cream. I caught up on laundry, cleaning, and reading at home.

Lucky girl!

We experienced a minor trauma when my daughter was stung by a bee for the first time Saturday afternoon, but some toasted marshmallows at the fire pit stopped the tears. (She gets her toughness from me.)

Sunday brought a sense of deja vu, as we all went to Victoria Pool in the morning, and hung out at home in the afternoon. We even had another fire in the fire pit, but thankfully there was no repeat of the bee sting.

The Week Ahead

This will be my second week on Weight Watchers. During the first week, I mainly just adjusted to the point system and figured out some basic, point-efficient foods. I didn’t cook anything for myself besides scrambled egg whites and veggies, but this week I’d like to cook some real meals that I can eat with the rest of the family.

One challenge will be the fact that we’re taking a quick beach trip to Hampton Beach in New Hampshire this weekend. My husband really didn’t want to miss out completely on the beach this summer, so he found a close(ish) beach for us to visit. (You can read about our non-beach, summer vacation here.) I’ll pack some Weight Watchers-friendly options, but I’ll probably indulge a little. I’ll be sure to save all of my weekly points for some fried clams!

The rest of the week looks pretty uneventful. I’ll plan some activities for my daughter and some of her friends, including a solar eclipse viewing.

This Week’s Meal Plan

Here’s what’s for dinner at my house this week:

  • Monday: Grilled fish with green salad
  • Tuesday: Roasted pork tenderloin with frozen peas and carrots
  • Wednesday: Grilled burgers (extra-lean and bun-less for me!) with grilled zucchini from my garden
  • Thursday: Caprese pasta salad (Basil and tomatoes from my garden!)
  • Friday: Leftovers
  • Saturday: Probably some fried seafood at the beach
  • Sunday: We’ll pick something up on the way home, and I’ll probably have a Weight Watchers frozen dinner

What’s for dinner at your house this week?

create a healthy home shop mightynest.com

Our Mont Tremblant Family Vacation

Last week, my family and I went on our summer vacation. We spent five nights at the ski resort village of Mont Tremblant, in Quebec. We don’t ski, but during the summer, Mont Tremblant has lots of great activities for a family vacation. We chose it for the variety of primarily kid-friendly options, in addition to the fact that we could drive there in under five hours.

Overall, we had a very nice vacation. Our daughter loved a number of the activities, and my husband and I each got to do something that we especially wanted to. (The birds of prey show for me, and the zipline course for him.) Here’s an overview of the best and worst parts of vacationing in Mont Tremblant:

Pros

  • Beautiful setting. Part of the Laurentian mountains, Mont Tremblant is 2,871 feet at the summit. The views of the mountains and lakes are truly beautiful, and the resort is tucked nicely inside this peaceful area.
A view from the summit
  • Easy to navigate. After we had walked around the resort village a couple of times, I knew the layout and had a sense of where everything was. There’s a free gondola that takes visitors from the bottom of the resort village to the base of the mountain, where most of the activities are.
  • Lots of kid-friendly activities. A major reason we chose to take our vacation in Mont Tremblant was the availability of kid-friendly activities. Our daughter is seven and an only child, so we do our best to plan vacations that will have lots of appropriate activities for her. From the eurobungy, to the aquaclub, to the luge, Mont Tremblant had more than enough activities that she enjoyed.
The eurobungy is a favorite kid activity
  • Many restaurants. There are many restaurant options in the Mont Tremblant resort village, most of which are pretty casual. (We didn’t go to the one or two ones that appeared to be on the fancier side.) We ate cuisines from Cajun and Chinese-Thai fusion, to creperie and microbrewery. Our favorites were Pizzateria and La Maison de la Crepe. And every restaurant we went to had a children’s menu, off of which our (picky) daughter almost always ordered.
  • Favorable exchange rate. This isn’t always the case, but the American-Canadian exchange rate is pretty favorable right now. On many occasions, my husband commented to me that money we spent was really only about 75% of the cost in Canadian dollars.

Cons

  • Claustrophobic. I’ll never go on a cruise for several reasons – norovirus, anyone?!? – particularly because I get stir-crazy when I feel confined to a space for an extended period of time. Mont Tremblant’s resort village started to feel this way to me after a couple of days. Everything is right there, which is great, but also, well, not so great (to me).
  • Crowded and crawling with kids. Like any popular family vacation spot, Mont Tremblant is pretty crowded and there are kids everywhere. This isn’t at all surprising, but if you’re not a fan of crowds or other people’s kids, this is probably not the place for you.
The dinner line at Pizzateria at 5:30pm!
  • Pricey. Even though we had the favorable exchange rate working in our favor, everything was pretty pricey – restaurants, activities, and souvenirs. We never once found ourselves commenting on what a great deal we had gotten on something!
  • Slow service. Call us ugly Americans, but we found the service at almost every restaurant we visited to be incredibly slow. Yes, we were on vacation time, but we didn’t want to spend all of it waiting for the check to come!
A participant in the birds of prey show

If you’d to plan your own family vacation in Mont Tremblant, the village’s website has lots of great information, and there are also some great YouTube videos of the activities. Enjoy!

Psst… See pictures like the ones above and others in between blog posts on Facebook and Instagram!

My Goals for 2017: Check-In #7

Some people are motivated by rewards. Some people are motivated by fear. Others are internally motivated. Me? I’m motivated by public shame. I do not want to be embarrassed, and that’s what typically gives me the push I need complete things. (I’m what the author Gretchen Rubin would call “an obliger”, based on her personality framework.)

It helped keep me focused when I trained for two marathons in my younger years. I joined Team in Training, which, in exchange for participants raising funds for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, provides coaching, support, and organized, group training runs. Those group runs were critical for me – in particular the weekly “long runs.” Knowing that I would be running 16 miles with a group on Saturday, helped keep me motivated to train on my own throughout the week. I knew I’d never be the first, but I really did not want to be the last person to finish the long runs.

What does this have to do with my 2017 goals? I’m using this motivation to help keep me on track with my goals. I’m sharing monthly check-ins on my progress to keep me focused, and as a form of accountability.

2017 Goals Check-In #7

(You can read more detailed descriptions of each of my goals here.)

Goal #1: Read at least 24 books that I truly want to read.

I read two great fiction books in July: Saints For All Occasions, and Every Last Lie. I started and gave up on one nonfiction book – Own It – and am currently reading another one, Is It All In Your Head? I haven’t finished the latter, yet, but I really enjoyed both of the fiction books. This brings my total number of books read in 2017 to 13. You can see all of my 2017 reads – current, past, and future – here.

Goal #2: Try at least three new (to me) activities, preferably active ones.

No progress here this month – not surprising, given my comfort with and preference for the familiar… 🙂 However, we’ll be going on our family vacation in August, and with activities like zip lines and bob-sledding available to try, I’m confident I’ll knock at least one more off my list.

Goal #3: Run at least three 5K races. Get 150 minutes of activity every week.

Even though we’re more than halfway through this year, I’ve decided to change this goal. I created the original goal of running at least three 5K races because I thought it would motivate me to run consistently. Spoiler alert: it hasn’t! Instead, I’ve decided to change this goal to one that my doctor reminds me of every year at my physical: get at least 150 minutes of activity every week. I think this will actually motivate me to achieve consistency much more effectively. And since I wear my FitBit daily and it tracks just this metric, it’ll be very easy to follow my progress toward this goal.

Goal #4: Find a way to dread meal planning/cooking less.

I’m still loving grilling season! I don’t know why, but I find dinner much more manageable this time of year. Grilling feels much less complicated: few ingredients are required, many things can be grilled, and clean-up is fairly minimal. It also helps that I’m out-and-about more during the warmer months, and great, fresh food is easy to come by.

How are you doing with your 2017 goals or resolutions?

Stonewall Kitchen, LLC

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Friday Favorites

Hey, hey, it’s Friday! Cue the Judy Andrews, as I share some of my favorite things…

Summer Weather

I’m a little surprised that I’m saying this, but I’ve been enjoying the heat and humidity we’ve been having lately. Don’t get me wrong, my preferred summer weather is sunny, low humidity, and temps around 80. But we had such a cold and rainy spring and early summer, that it’s nice to be experiencing true summer weather, warts and all.

Simple and Free Fun

My daughter is currently in her second, two-week session of theater camp at a local school. (Not the free part.) Camp finishes at 3:00, and even though she’s had a full day of rehearsals, games, and friends, she’s always looking for something to do after I pick her up. Since it’s ridiculously easy to spend money during the summer, I’m grateful that some of her favorite things to do after camp are free. We spend 30 minutes to an hour on the school’s playground every day, then hit the library, sprinklers, or farmers’ market. As long as I get all of the books and DVDs she borrows back to the library on-time, all of these activities don’t cost me a dime. (Psst… I share more photos of these and other things on Facebook and Instagram.)

Fresh Veggies

We’ve only harvested two Sun Gold tomatoes from our own garden, so far, but the farmers’ market is bursting with fresh, summer veggies. My daughter and I picked up a pint of cherry tomatoes at last week’s market, and ate them like candy on the way to the car. Halfway there, we turned around and went back for a second pint! There is NOTHING like summer tomatoes, peppers, corn!!

Baby cucumber!

Good Fiction

I’ve typically read more nonfiction than fiction, but over the last few weeks I’ve read two fiction books that I enjoyed: Saints For All Occasions, and Every Little Lie. Have you ever loved a book so much that you were sad to finish it? That’s how I felt about Saints For All Occasions. And Every Little Lie was a real page-turner for me, but I was very disappointed with the ending. (You can see all of the books I’ve read in 2017 here.)

I LOVED this book!

Podcasts About Religion

I’m completely non-religious. (Sometimes I refer to myself as a recovering Catholic.) Religion simply doesn’t play any part in my life. I loosely associate myself with general Christian values, but that’s as far as it goes. But in spite of my complete lack of religious beliefs or affiliation, I find it interesting to hear about other people’s faith and beliefs. So I was very excited to listen to the Religion series of the podcast, The Smartest Person in the Room. I enjoyed all of the episodes, but my favorites  were Mormons vs. Evangelicals: Can Woman Bridge the Divide? (I know very little about Mormonism and had no idea there was a divide with evangelicals), Judaism as a Cultural Identity (I was particularly intrigued by the concept of religion without believing in God), and When God Goes Silent (Interesting to me, since I don’t really think I believe in a God). There are also episodes about Hinduism, Islam, and religious journalism.

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Monday Meal Plan #39

Happy Monday Tuesday! I hope you had a lovely weekend!

Weekend Recap

With the exception of me having a bad migraine on Friday, we enjoyed a great family weekend at home. My husband took Friday off from work, so he could attend our daughter’s camp play performances with me. We went out for a celebratory dinner after the second show, at one of my least favorite places in Saratoga. (It was the actress’s choice.)

On Saturday, we visited a local lake, drove around a new-to-us area, and tried a local (but new-to-us) restaurant for lunch. My daughter and I did a quick Target run after lunch, and after relaxing at home for a couple of hours, my husband took our daughter to see Despicable Me 3.

We made our first trip of the year to the pool on Sunday. I grew up with a pool, and hated all of the worked involved in maintaining it. So when my husband and I were house-shopping, I ruled out any house with a pool. The season is too short here! They’re so much work! They take up too much yard space and are ugly in the winter! While I still believe all of these arguments against pools are true, now that I’m a parent, I wish we had a pool. Go figure.

On the reading front, I finished Saints For All Occassions, which I absolutely loved, and started reading a mystery, Every Last Lie. (You can find a list of all the books I’ve read so far this year here.)

The Week Ahead

It’s going to be a relatively quiet week here. My daughter starts a new session of camp, and she has gymnastics on Tuesday evening. She and my husband are joining friends for the Kidzbop concert at SPAC Friday evening. I have a couple of random things scheduled, including a doctor’s appointment and the monthly exterminator visit. I’ve completely fallen off the exercise wagon, so I’ll be attempting to get moving again, too.

On Saturday, our good friends are coming to visit from about two hours southeast of us. We take turns packing up kids and making the trip to visit each other several times a year. It’s been a few months since we’ve seen them, and we’re looking forward to their visit.

This Week’s Meal Plan

Here’s what’s on this week’s dinner meal plan at my house:

What’s for dinner at your house this week?

7280 x 90

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