A Week, in Three Acts (Philly Cheese Steak Sandwiches)

skipaheadAct 1: “Is it Friday yet?” So said the girl who enjoys an incredibly flexible work schedule and one or two work-at-home days each week. This week has seemed exceptionally long though. It all began with some news about staff changes at my job. It’s an exciting time, but it also likely means more demands on me and a more rigid work schedule. Since the biggest perk of my job is my ability to work from home as needed and start my day at 10am or leave at 4pm when I can, I’m a little troubled. I know we’ll get back to a flexible schedule again, but as we transition, I imagine I’ll be pulled in a few more directions. It’ll be a fun ride anyhow. Ride along with me?

Act 2: In the middle of the week I attended a conference and flashed a handful of attendees. Ok, not really, but kind of. If you ever plan a conference, please please please make sure you have a spot to direct nursing mothers to. PLEASE. To be fair, this conference did have a spot for me. On the other side of the hotel on the 24th floor. It took no less than 10 minutes to get to. So 20 minutes of travel, plus the time it takes to pump, meant I was missing whole sessions out of my $200 conference. There were only five sessions to begin with, so I was not a happy girl. Even so, I tried to roll with it. But when I went to use the room for the second time that day and found it was in use, I was incredibly frustrated when they didn’t have a back up option for me. Folks, I’ve pumped in storage closets, I’ve pumped in my car, I’ve even pumped in a restaurant after hours. I’m flexible. I really just need a door. I asked the hotel and conference crew if there was an office, a bathroom with a sofa, a closet – anything at all that I could use in lieu of the 24th floor isolation chamber that was in use. No, no, no. With tears welling up – mostly out of frustration – I started counting my options. I told the staff I’d nurse right there in the lobby if that’s what they left me to (fyi – I do have a cover-up, so we’re not talking about extreme indecency here). They said I couldn’t do that, but didn’t give me any other options either. So I walked three steps in the direction of the lobby sofa, saw a plethora of guys in three-piece suits on their blackberrys, and quickly chickened out. Instead I found a corner in one of the meeting rooms that had minimal traffic and a spot to plug-in my pump. It was still humiliating sitting there with my shirt hoisted, my nursing coverup (aka “tent”), and the steady “swish, swash, swish, swash, swish, swash” of my breast pump while conference participants networked and met with one another close by.

(By the way, later that day I found that the bathrooms did in fact have sofas, despite the front desk looking at me with bafflement when I asked that question.)

Act 3: Finally, the end of my week was spent battling a three-day snow storm that veered wildly from sputtering rain, to huge snowflakes, to sleet; and so on. I had watched the weather closely because of an early morning meeting, with participants from all around the state. The meeting went off without a hitch and although I hid behind various types of technology all through the meeting, my struggling social side was drained. I mean it, I was dog tired when I got home. Introvert friends, if you find yourself physically exhausted after meetings or parties, don’t worry – you’re not alone. Read this and take comfort. How to Care for you Introvert is one of my favorite articles. I share it, reference it, and read it often. It gives me comfort and reminds me that I’m not a crazy person (well, that might be an overstatement), but just an introvert.

So, needless to say, easy was the name of the game this week for dinner. I wanted comforting food, fast food (from my kitchen, foo, not from McDon’s), and mostly I wanted easy food. So, consider this the first installment of the “this week can just go right back to H E double hockey sticks” series.


Philly Cheesesteak Sandwiches

Overall: five-star

Go ahead, have some wine! I love this Purple Cowboy Merlot. It’s named Purple Cowboy because the rodeo-loving wine makers always had purple teeth. My cowboy always turns his teeth purple when he has wine too!

This recipe makes me happy. It was so quick to whip up; had the meat, veggies, dairy, and grain all included; was a breeze to clean up; and tasted great! It costs a bit more since it does require steak and if you’re feeding a big family it could add up, but at least a little steak goes a long way in this one! (Recipe here, from Simply Scratch.) Continue reading

It’s pronounced keen-wah (Lemon Herb Rainbow Quinoa Salad)

skipaheadWe’ve been eating pretty unhealthy around here. Or at least my recipe feed would have you think so. So I figured it’s high time we bust out a healthy recipe. Plus, I haven’t had many vegetarian recipes and no vegan recipes yet! (Sorry Jenny! Your potato soup recipe is still in the queue though!) So we’re busting out of our “meat, potatoes, pasta, and chocolate chip” funk today with a quinoa recipe. I have only had quinoa a couple of times and I’ve never prepared it myself. It’s one of those foods that scare me, simply because I don’t know what it is exactly or where to buy it or how to prepare it. And I know my mom is reading this now saying, “Qw-in-o-ah? What the heck is that?” So, here is a great infographic to help you, Mom!

I can summarize though: We should all be eating more “keen-wah.” Get started with this recipe. It’s easy and yummy and fast.


Lemon Herb Rainbow Quinoa Salad with Toasted Pine Nuts

Overall: three-star

We loved this salad. Light and fresh and easy to make. But it was expensive, man. E was trying to dissuade me from thinking it was expensive, so maybe I’m a cheapskate, but I had to spend $10 on the quinoa alone. Mint and pine nuts aren’t cheap either. (Recipe here, from Simply Scratch.) Continue reading

Soup-er Bowl and Salad

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If you’re curious, my parents’ farm no longer has any animals (not counting Reggie – the chunky pup – and Hopsing and Patty – my Dad’s coonhounds), but they still run the crop land. If you hadn’t guessed, this is Reggie. What a goon!

What a game, am I right?! I set aside my cheesehead to cheer for the 49ers, and I loved the rally they had in the second half. Still, nice work Ravens. The power outage was crazy too, but it was perfect timing for the post-halftime kitchen clean up. Woo! All that said, when E asked me on Saturday morning what I was most looking forward to this weekend, I said “the Superbowl food.” Leave it to the big girl to say her favorite thing is the food.

This past weekend my family came to visit. My parents live in Wisconsin on the farm that my sisters and I grew up on. Both my sisters live in Minnesota now; one just started college here this year. When my parents come up to visit, they’re visiting all three of us in a weekend and it’s always a whirlwind! We knew we had to squeeze in the Superbowl and all the goodies that come with it. So rather than trying to find time to put together a full menu, I just called my favorite soup place and put in a party order for Wisconsin Cheddar (duh.) and Beef Chili. I figured we could have a Soup-er bowl.

Allow me an aside here about our soup order. I put this order in last week and the person taking the order wanted to talk about how I’d be heating it, how I planned on warming the (included) 100 breadsticks, and what time I planned on serving the meal. I was happy to have the insight on how to prepare and I thought with all that effort, they must have their ducks in a row. When E arrived he found out that they didn’t undercook the breadsticks as discussed (to allow for reheating) and they didn’t have one of the soups I ordered! (Anyone else imagining the Seinfeld Soup Nazi episode? “NO SOUP FOR YOU!”) They simply said “what would you like instead?” Ugh. E called me and I decided to go with the White Chicken Chili, knowing in the back of my mind that it’s a bad choice. I love it, but it’s spicy, man. I knew my meat and potatoes family wouldn’t like the fire. When E checked out no discount was offered and he shared his irritation. In response they told him we could have the Beef Chili they had in stock, though it wasn’t my full order. Great! After all, we’re only feeding seven people. Apparently they meant we could have that for free, in addition to my initial order. So we had three soups, rounding out to about a gallon and a quarter of soup and 100 breadsticks. For seven people. I knew I’d have lots of leftovers to send home and freeze, but this is ridiculous!! Suffice it to say, the food there is amazing and we’re all very happy. Everyone took home lots of breadsticks and some soup. Unfortunately the bulk of the soup was White Chicken Chili and, as I had guessed, it was WAY too spicy for everyone. E and I will be dining on chili for the next decade.

Whatever you do, don't make him eat carrots!

Whatever you do, don’t make him eat carrots!

Anyhow… My middle sister (I’m the oldest), only eats local meat. So I knew I should have something for her besides the Wisconsin Cheddar. I scrolled through a few salad recipes and came up with the obvious choice. Papa’s Salad with Sweet Basil Vinaigrette by Simply Scratch. I say obvious because to Little K, my parents are Papa and Nana. So I figured, Papa’s Salad was a no brainer. Of course that didn’t take into account the fact that my Dad isn’t really what you call a “veggie guy.” He eats his greens and all, but if you put three crockpots in front of him and one bowl of salad, you can count he won’t spend much time looking at the salad. To his credit though, he did take a couple bites of lettuce.


Papa’s Salad with Sweet Basil Vinaigrette

Overall: four-star

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Eating Healthier with Sesame Chicken

I’m feeling so worn down lately. Maybe it has something to do with me having to drive an hour each way to and from work. Maybe it’s because the weather around here has been crummy. Maybe it’s because we’ve had a fairly full schedule the last several days and next few. I don’t really know, but the result is me dragging myself out of bed and to and from work before falling into bed again after Little K goes down. For dinner last night I knew I wanted something substantial, but something that was healthy and light too. I found the perfect thing on Simply Scratch.


Healthy Sesame Chicken

Overall: four-star

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