Rabbit Rabbit

Note: I originally wrote this post ON FEB 2nd….but figured it was still worth it to post since there’s 2 weeks left in February to work on my goals. There were consistencies including snow days and children being sick too….sigh…

white rabbit holding gold frame pocket watch statue

Have you ever heard someone ring in the new month by saying, “Rabbit Rabbit” ? If not, it’s an old English tradition said to bring  luck throughout that month. For myself, I say, “sayonara January” and, “Helloooo February!”. The last few weeks were filled with snow days (both at school & work), doctor visits, illnesses for the kids, and some minor financial hiccups. Between the Polar Vortex stopping and Punxsutawney Phil NOT seeing his shadow…..bring on Spring! Or at least, bring on a month that gets us closer to Spring.

With that said, with each month I try to focus on a few small goals which over the course of 12 months should add up to larger ones.

My goals for February are as follows:

  1. Financial: This is an ongoing struggle as a working mom. Make money: check….make enough to justify daycare: FAIL. Regardless, my goal for this month is to save a little money from each paycheck, even if it ends up only being $5 a week. Something is better  than nothing, right?
  2. Self Care: Another ongoing theme in the balance of life. This is an important one though. My goal this month is to take baby steps and try something new in terms of self care- such as the recently opened salt cave nearby or finally signing up for that spin class I’ve been talking about for 6 months.
  3. Relationships: I’ve been noticing lately a bit of disconnect with my close family. It is sometimes hard to comprehend how you can live with 4 other people and feel disconnected, yet we are always on the go and rarely relaxing and spending genuine time together. Electronics have a lot to do with that as well. My goal for February is to take time out to unplug and have a sit down family meal or do something we love as a family, such as our hikes or Hudson Valley excursions. Maybe we’ll get crazy and even through a family game night in the mix  😉
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What are your goals? This is about the time where people give up on their New Years Resolutions too, so don’t beat yourself up if you’ve stopped going to the gym every day or said a couple f-bombs. Remember, each day is a NEW DAY, and a NEW CHANCE.

Wishing you a wonderful weekend,

 

XO Robin

Snow Day Delights

Ever heard the saying, “winter meals make summer bodies?”. Yeah me too. And it’s stupid lol. Now if it were “spring meals help shape summer bodies”, I’d be a little bit more on board. Spring allows us to get outside, get active again, and (hopefully) eat lighter, healthier meals. Now, it’s supposed to feel spring like here in the Hudson Valley, but instead my three girls and I are hunkered down inside while a howling Nor’easter drops another foot of snow on us.

After playing dolls, arts & crafts, and watching movies, we decided to cook some delicious, and healthy recipes together. Up first, Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookies. Note: none of my children are required to have gluten free diets, but I had almond flour left over from a previous recipe and needed to use it up. The results yielded a delicious and more nutritious result than expected.

Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups almond flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt (I used Newport Sea Salt)
  • 1 whole organic egg
  • 2 organic egg whites
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup organic grade A maple syrup (I used Nature’s Promise)
  • 1 cup organic semisweet dark chocolate chips (I used Nature’s Promise)
  • 1/2 cup organic walnut pieces

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the almond flour, baking soda, and sea salt. Set aside.
  3. Using a stand mixer (or by hand if you’re stronger & steadier than I lol) beat the maple syrup and coconut oil on medium for about 5 minutes. (The mixture will give you creamy light brown result)
  4. Next, add the vanilla extract, followed by the whole egg, and 2 egg whites, mixing slightly to incorporate each egg.

Up next was a more substantial meal- a lemon chicken & orzo casserole. (In case you’re wondering: yes we do dessert first in this house on special days).

As soon as the word casserole is used, my kids tend to run in the other direction. So instead, I told the girls it was a magical pasta and chicken just like the Trolls love to eat. I also had to put on the Trolls movie soundtrack while we prepared it lol. Hey, whatever works, right?

Creamy Lemon Chicken & Orzo Casserole

Ingredients:

  • One 9″ x 13″ baking dish
  • 2 cups orzo (NOT COOKED)
  • 3 cups low sodium organic chicken stock
  • 3 tbsp melted butter (unsalted preferred)
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  • 3 lemons: 2 of them zested and juiced, 1 lemon just sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 4 organic, boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tsp dried coriander
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried dill
  • Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Grease your baking dish with non stick cooking spray.
  2. Let’s work on the orzo first. (This will be the base layer of your casserole). Begin by whisking together the chicken stock, melted butter, lemon zest & juice from the 2 lemons, cornstarch, oregano, dill, and 1 tsp of the salt. Once combined, mix in the orzo and fully coat.
  3. Next we will work with the chicken. Rinse and pat dry the 4 chicken breasts. Sprinkle both sides with salt, pepper, and coriander.
  4. Assemble the casserole by placing the orzo mixture into the bottom of the baking dish. Then, take the chicken and lay them on top of the mixture, but at an angle so they are “nestled” among the orzo. Top the chicken with the lemon slices
  5. Bake casserole for about 45 minutes. Let rest for 5 minutes before serving, then top with parsley. Enjoy!

***Sorry for not posting a picture- my hubby dug right into this dish when he got home from work. It was literally demolished in a matter of minutes once the kids got their hands on it too. My favorite part of this casserole is that the orzo becomes very creamy- almost like a risotto. The chicken was very tender and flavorful as well. Definitely a recipe I’ll make again. ***

I had plans to try out another recipe or two , but once my husband got home, we honestly needed a glass of wine. With full bellies from the casserole, and giddy from enjoying a local dry riesling, we decided to tackle the 14″ of snow that had accumulated outside. The snow is still falling, and you can most likely expect another recipe post tomorrow.

Hope everyone is staying dry, safe, and happy.

xo Robin

 

Is it Really Possible to do a “Digital Detox”?

A “digital detox” is an idea I’ve been reading a lot about lately. And although it sounds good in theory, I’m not 100% sure if I have the willpower to go through with it. Or perhaps I simply am lazy and haven’t tried. Seems to honestly be a little bit of both.

The other day I received an article in my email detailing all the positive ways a digital detox can help you. I agree it should help us socialize better, spend more time “in the moment” with families and friends, and of course it will allow us to gain back all that wasted time scrolling on your phone to do more productive things…..even if “productive” for you means reading a tangible book or simply taking a hot shower.

Personally, I’ve definitely noticed a difference in our culture as we as a society have dove head first into the digital age. I find it mind-boggling how my middle daughter needs to be practically pushed outside to play on a warm sunny day because she’d rather watch YouTube on her tablet. Once I get my children outside, they’ll play for hours, which in my mind is what childhood is all about. As long as they’re in a supervised, safe environment, I let them explore, I let them get dirty, and most of all I let them laugh and be themselves.

More and more I see my children (and my peer’s children) all wanting to spend more time glued to an electronic device rather than playing with each other. To me this isn’t real childhood. It’s a shell of one. Something to pass the time and not gain any true knowledge or sense of perspective in the world. My biggest fear is that one day these kids will wake up and they’ll be 18 years old, and not sure how to act on their first interview. They (hopefully) won’t be able to text their college admissions board or first boss…..and I want them to know how to properly interact. Or what if god forbid our worst fears come true and there’s a zombie apocalypse? (Yeah I watched too much of the Walking Dead lol). I know I wouldn’t last 5 minutes out there …….but I certainly believe our future generation wouldn’t last 30 seconds. Without Amazon to overnight them a taser or someone tweeting on how to build a fire…..they’d never make it.

In real talk though, I’ve gotta admit all the ways in which we are so connected to each other should bring more gratitude and positivity. Instead, I find that it breeds anxiety, jealousy, and unrealistic expectations. I mean how many times have you seen something on Pinterest, whether it be a party decor, recipe, or craft, and tried so hard to recreate it, only to fail miserably? I know I have. Or what about seeing constant stories on Instagram of someone you went to high school with going out to chic expensive restaurants wearing their Louboutins every night, while you’re busting your ass at a 9-5 job just to make ends meet and put food on your kid’s table? This is not what social media does to everyone, but I have seen some of these scenarios first hand. Also, I don’t want you reading this to think I hate technology. {I mean, I write a blog, so clearly I don’t lol}. All I’m getting across is I truly feel that we need to take a step back from the hold all these digital devices have on us.

I miss Sunday afternoon family dinners where people would talk, laugh, and tell stories about things new & old. I miss seeing kids playing outside until dark when they had to be yelled at to come inside. I miss making a tangible card or meal when someone is tired or sick or has a tragedy, rather than taking the easy way out and sending an email or amazon gift card (although that is at times totally appropriate). Overall, I miss the meaningful interactions us as humans used to have with each other.

Everything in moderation is the key.  Technology should be there when we need it to support us. Not to destroy us. Friends, families, co-workers, neighbors, etc…. we all need faith, love, and kindness to survive. Not to mention pressing the “reset” button once in a while. That’s in my mind what a digital detox is really about. Resetting ourselves to be mindful, social beings. Perhaps we can start by reducing our screen time by just a little bit each day.

Baby steps.

Stay tuned to see if I can follow through with my own digital detox

xo Robin

 

Happy {Day After} Valentine’s Day

Happy {Day After} Valentine’s Day everyone! I say this because I originally wrote this post last night, but unfortunately had a sick baby on my hands and was unable to get around to posting it. But here goes…..

I don’t know about you, but the ideas surrounding this holiday have evolved quite a bit for me over the years. I remember as a teenager being so excited to receive gifts and flowers, and get all dressed up for a fancy date with my significant other. The same rang true when I began dating my husband. We would always look forward to a special date night where we would exchange gifts and be romantic. After we had our first daughter, nothing much changed. I was also 23 years old, fairly young, and more concerned with what color lingerie to wear than with the upcoming bills. Then came our second daughter. We slowed down a little, still doing chocolate, flowers, and cards, but typically not going out on actual Valentine’s Day, as my hubby tends to work late and we wanted to save money (not to mention avoid the crowds). Fast forward another three years to my third child being born. I now spend more time and effort picking out the right type of cards, chocolate, and class valentine’s than anything else. Today is no longer about me, but about seeing the happiness as my children come downstairs and read the heartfelt cards with x’s and o’s from mommy and daddy. It’s about watching them skip off the bus to show me all the valentine goodies they received from their friends and classmates. Please don’t think I’m complaining, because I’m not. I still make my husband get me a card, and I always buy him one along with chocolates. This year we will hopefully get a chance to have a breakfast date next week rather than spend the couple hundred dollars for a babysitter and fancy dinner, but it’s ok by me.

Despite this total 360, I have to say that I’m not sad. In fact, I feel renewed. Sure I still love getting all decked out for an expensive dinner and doing something fun like a theater day or a romantic hike & picnic. But honestly, it’s not about the material “stuff” anymore. I no longer anticipate Valentine’s Day like a kid on Christmas morning, thinking “what did he buy me?!!”. Instead, it’s about TIME. Time spent with my kids. Time spent with my husband. Time spent with my extended family & friends. I cherish those special moments most of all.

So…….whether you’re having a glass of champagne tonight with your girlfriends, or a romantic date with your spouse, or even spending it on your couch with a pint of Ben n Jerry’s- I’m wishing you a Happy Valentine’s Day. Please remember to cherish those around us not only today, but every day.

xo Robin

Challenge Day 9!

Yesterday was day 9 of my ten-day Positivity and Productivity Challenge. The task at hand was to plan meals for the next week. As a mom, foodie, and list lover, this was a fun one for me. I always try to mix it up when planning family dinners, hoping that at least one of my children will be willing to veer away from the chicken nuggets & mac n cheese train to try some “real” meals. With that in mind, here’s what I chose:

Sunday: Superbowl!!! No dinner needed- just appetizers, as we are going to a party.

Monday: Trying this whole “meatless Monday” thing by making lasagna, garlic bread, & a caesar salad. I’ll do the prep on Sunday afternoon so all I have to do Monday evening  is pop the lasagna into the oven.

Tuesday: Leftovers. Because who’s really going to eat a whole 8″x13″ pan of lasagna in one sitting?

Wednesday: Beef stir fry with Asian vegetables and brown rice. This is another easy peasy meal, as I buy the veggies already frozen. I do slice up the steak and sear it prior to combining with the vegetables and condiments, but still a pretty simple one. Here’s a recipe if you’re looking for one: https://www.dinneratthezoo.com/teriyaki-beef-stir-fry/

Thursday: Cedar plank grilled salmon with sun-dried tomato and fresh parsley chutney. Served with quinoa and steamed asparagus. Needless to say this is an adult meal lol. But salmon is my fav. Especially when grilled on a cedar plank. If you haven’t made this yet….try it. I promise to post all these recipes shortly.

Friday: As a treat for the kids I’m going to buy a pre-made gluten-free pizza dough at the grocery store along with all the fixings (sauce {obviously}, three cheese Italian blend, shredded, pepperoni, and mini meatballs.) Then, in the evening we’ll make pizza from “almost” scratch together. We used to do this a lot in the summer and the girls loved it. I let them eat it in the family room while watching a movie too. (I have a feeling the requested movie will be Descendants, but I’ll keep my fingers crossed for an alternative lol)  *Note: None of us require a gluten-free diet, but we prefer the taste and elasticity of that pizza crust as opposed to a regular one.*

Saturday: Snow is in the forecast for next weekend, and we have most of the afternoon free while my hubby is at work. That means arts & crafts for the girls while mama makes some comfort food. I’m thinking lemon chicken orzo soup, which is healthy with a nice addition of fresh spinach. The recipe I use is from New England Soup Factory’s cookbook. Check out their website, or better yet, look them up next time you’re in Boston.

Well, that’s it for today. I’ll admit that after planning dinners for the next 6 days, I made a shopping list with all the ingredients not stocked in my pantry. I then added all our other weekly necessities. Overall, a very successful and productive use of my time. I did this task while my youngest was sleeping, and still had plenty of time to spare.

Sunday Success!

xo Robin

 

Challenge Day 8

Today’s original challenge said to make a meal plan for the week. Since I prefer to do any weekly  planning on Saturdays, I decided to skip this day and go right to Day 9. I mean it’s my challenge, so why not customize it?

Ok, so challenge day 9’s task was to think of a good memory and share it with family and friends. This is something I like to try to do often, especially with my kids. Today I had some extra down time with all three girls, (due to a 2 hr delay) so I decided to talk to them about my grandparents. My dad’s parents were very special people, who took care of me practically every day while growing up. They taught me how to play the keyboard, take care of a garden, play card games, listen to classic music, read literature…. You name it, we did it. There wasn’t one important event in my life that my grandparent’s missed, no matter how trivial it may have seemed. February is also a very special month because both of my grandparents’ birthdays were in the first week. Therefore, my daughters and I began with me asking if they knew whose birthdays are coming up. Of course they replied with “groundhog day” and “mine” and again with “mine” lol. I replied that although all of them were correct to a degree, it would have been both my grandparents’ birthdays very soon. Unfortunately they recently passed away and we can’t share it together, yet, I thought it would be nice to honor them with some music, food, and card games. The girls and I were limited on time, but listened to a few Beatles songs, as my grandmother loved them. Her favorites were “I Want to Hold Your Hand” and “Let it Be”.  Dancing was of course part of this morning celebration. and serendipitously, my eldest told me that “Let it Be” is the song for her dance recital. Words can’t describe the smile that broke out across my face.

Next, was breakfast. I explained that my grandfather was English and loved a traditional breakfast. In fact, he usually ate two or three. One at 5am, another around 7am, and a light breakfast snack around 9am. Since I have picky children, we couldn’t have eggs, sausage, oatmeal, or scones with tea, and instead settled on toast with jelly.

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Finally, I didn’t have enough time to teach my eldest how to play the infamous cribbage- a card game my grandfather and I played daily. (I honestly don’t even know it she would understand if we DID have the time lol) Nevertheless, we had about 25 minutes left before the bus came, so the four of us played “go fish” (I played for my one year old, who kept trying to throw the cards underneath the coffee table). During the game I told the girls how my brother used to play this game all the time with my grandparents, and how he used to have a meltdown if he wouldn’t win. Not surprisingly, my 4-year-old did the same thing shortly after….

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Overall, today was a great time. I consider myself an old soul. And I absolutely loved today’s challenge. It reminded us to slow down and take time out of our crazy lives to think about our memories. We laughed, we cried, it’s bittersweet, but in the end…..it’s all good. Because each one of these little moments is what makes life so amazing.

xo Robin