Happy birthday (week) to me!

Last week (on Wednesday), I turned 44 and it was a great birthday week. I’ll try not to make this too wordy, but I mean, a lot of fun stuff happened, so I may fail.

We have to start on Tuesday when the washing machine broke. I know, this birthday week isn’t starting out too promisingly, is it? Particularly since it was the day the boys went back to school, and I had literally been counting down the minutes until I had some peace and quiet and solitude in the house. Instead, I had our friend Chris come over to try to fix the washer (he determined it wasn’t easily fixable, and we’d already fixed this thing a zillion times) so happy early birthday to me, I went to Home Depot and picked out a new washing machine.

I mean, exciting, except for the part where you have to pay for a new washing machine. (It wasn’t delivered until Saturday, but I’ll skip ahead and show you a picture of this beautiful giant that can wash enormous loads of laundry.)

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Aw, our poor lil’ dryer is dwarfed by it.

Okay, so Tuesday night is when the excitement really started. Kiki flew in! I picked her up and we went to Mopho for dinner and had pho and these really delicious chicken wings.

And then Wednesday, it was my birthday! Yay!

I woke up bright ‘n’ early with the boys and got them off to the bus stop, and then Kristina and I went to Orangetheory, where, duh, we wore shirts that I made (kind of like the ones I made for our trip to Harry Potter World.)

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I got so many birthday wishes! This was a great idea she had. Definitely do this on your birthday.

Next, we went home to shower, then hopped on the ferry (it was a gorgeous day) with mimosas and met Teresa for lunch at French Toast. (I’m friends with the owners, and I had been wanting to check it out since it’s pretty new.)

Next, we went in search of a king cake since I knew that it would make the boys happy, and it could also stand in for my birthday cake. After we found it, we got an Uber back to the house so we could meet the boys at the bus stop.

We hit up Ann Frances’s birthday party for a while and took our usual birthday pic together. ❤

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7 and 44!

We rested for a little while and then we went and had pizza for dinner at Tavolino, a restaurant in the neighborhood.

And after dinner, the boys gave me cards (Linus didn’t want me to share his, but here are the ones I got from Oliver and Miles, and of course I cried a bit.)

And then we had king cake!

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And then Kiki and I went to have a nightcap at the pub. But we didn’t last too long, we were exhausted.

Thursday, Kristina spent the morning cleaning the crap out of my kitchen, which is basically her favorite thing to do. Meanwhile, I got a much-needed haircut.

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Awkward, exhausted selfie! But dang my hair looked goooooood.

Later, we went to a fabric store that I love so Kristina could pick out fabric for the skirt I was going to make her. Then we went to get 80 minute massages at a spa. Oh man, that was heavenly! That night, we made a pot of Italian sausage and kale and tortellini soup for the grown ups and sushi rolls for the kids. I also made a cucumber salad for the boys AND THEY ATE IT AND LIKED IT. So obviously the apocalypse is upon us.

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Friday morning, we went back to Orangetheory, and then had a late lunch at Turkey and the Wolf. We split a bologna sandwich and a collard green melt. It was good, for sure, but we were both scratching our head a bit at how a hipster sandwich place got named “Best New Restaurant in America.” (The collard green melt was too spicy for me, sad sad sad.)

Kristina spent every spare moment organizing my pantry and the rest of the kitchen, and it’s pretty amazing right now. She loves to do that stuff. And then she was supposed to leave Saturday evening, but there was snow forecast where she lives for Saturday night, so she changed her flight to Saturday morning. SAD PAM.

I brought her to the airport while the new washer was being delivered, and then spent the rest of the day resting and getting ready for the CAMAN Ball that I was attending that night with friends. It was a speakeasy theme, and it was a lot of fun getting all glammed up. Jen was my date.

Oh wait, so now I have to tell you about the presents I got because it’s kind of funny how excited I am about them. Well, funny if you don’t sew. But George got me a cordless iron! And my mom got me nice scissors (now I really do feel bad for sneaking her nice scissors for cutting paper when I was little) and a new ironing board! I mean, not just ANY ironing board. This thing is TALL and WIDE and NOT WOBBLY and the base for my new iron sits on a holder on the end and it doesn’t squeak and it’s all very very exciting. If you sew, anyway. Also my lovely friends got me Joann gift cards and THE FUN NEVER STOPS.

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London (the rest)

I think it’s time to wrap up my trip recap, so I’ll just put the rest of the London bit in this post.

Tuesday was our second day in London. George wanted hats, but I’ve already blogged about that. We also did some other shopping and browsing, which was fun.

On the bus!
On the bus!
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Piccadilly Circus
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Me ‘n’ the Queen at Hamley’s

After we got George a jacket and me some tea at Marks & Spencer, we went our separate ways. I ended up eating a sandwich in Soho Square, where Kristina and Anne and I used to meet for lunch almost every day, 18 summers ago.

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The next day, George and I poked around Camden Market (it was pretty dead, being a Wednesday) before meeting a friend for a pub crawl.

Pub crawl!

Yes, this is Pimm’s on tap.

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Cool pic of a bridge we were near. Can’t be more specific.

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The best meal we had all week, if you ask me: Toad in a Hole!

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Thursday was our last full day, so I crammed as much in as I could. Museums, (okay, mostly the gift shops), walking around my old haunts, etc. It was a pretty warm day, and people were covering every inch of grass everywhere. I love London for that.

Friday, we flew home. The end.

Other things also to blog about

Mmm, oysters.
Mmm, oysters.

Kristina and I tried out this new food market the other day before she went back home. We had some really delicious raw oysters, a cheese board, a salad, and a crepe stuffed with macaroni and cheese and pulled pork. I mean, yeah. It was good.

We also attended the boys’ school fundraiser on Sunday night. More good food, especially the brisket tacos from Taceaux Loceaux (the name annoys me greatly, but what can you do?) (PS It’s pronounced Taco Loco. I don’t know how obvious that is if you’re not from here.)

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Entertainment at the fundraiser

I may have hit the open bar a few times, because by the time we left, I had a fancy bottle of wine from one raffle and I’d outbid everyone for some hair salon services in the silent auction. It’s all for a good cause, at least.

Sunday was a really big day, actually. Between the garage sale and the school fundraiser, we also went out to cheer on my friend Heather as she finished her first half Ironman triathlon!

Well, I should say we attempted to cheer her on. Thanks to some gross ineptitude by local organizers, the website said the race finished at City Park. But no, it actually finished several miles away at the lakefront.

By the time we finally go there, she had already finished. 😦 I was so upset about it, and really freaking angry at the organizers. I wonder how many other people missed seeing finishers?

The kids made a poster for her, and the adults made a few too.
The kids made a poster for her, and the adults made a few too.

On the bright side, I almost got to see fellow identical triplet mom Kim close to the finish line. You may remember me posting about her husband, who was killed last year in a training ride for this very same triathlon. She decided to train for it and race it in his memory. So inspiring.

(My friend Robin, also a mom of triplets, also finished it. I know so many kick ass women!)

IMG_1501In horticultural news, a couple of weeks ago, I planted some jasmine along our iron fence. We only have a side yard, so hopefully this will add some privacy as well as some beauty and nice scents. And probably bees.

And it’s already growing! I don’t know how much I am supposed to nudge it along the fence, but it seems to be doing okay. I guess it’ll be a few years before the fence is covered, but it’s fun to watch the progress now.

On the other hand, the Bradford pear I planted when we moved in eleven years ago has some weird black spots on the leaves, which also look like they’ve been eaten. I need to figure out what to do about that.

Remember when my friend Matt got very very sick about five years ago? Well, the husband of another mom of multiples is currently very ill with the same kind of situation. A flesh eating bacteria. Matt pulled through, and I’m confident Melissa’s husband will as well, but they can use all the positive thinking (and other support) we can send their way.

I remember Alicia saying that Matt did as well as he did because he was a rugby player, so big and muscly and solid. Melissa’s husband Josh is a police officer, so similarly brawny, so I think this is a good sign. Keep them in your thoughts.

Next week, the boys and I are headed to Virginia for Emily’s first communion. A plane ride with all three – hopefully I won’t get barfed on this time. Hmm.

Barcelona, in food

So I have a bunch of posts to make about Barcelona but since I’m still pretty out of it from traveling (that’s a story for another post) I’m just going to post some food pics here.

The food was amazing. The ham! The seafood! The paella!

 

Am cooking genius (Butternut Squash Crack)

I have to tell you about this recipe that I like to think I invented (but I’m sure I didn’t, but maybe I did?) but either way, you must go make it right now. It is extraordinarily delicious.

I wish I had some pictures to share with you, but truth be told, it’s not exactly a pretty dish, and anyway, I ate it all too fast to photograph it.

Took some pictures! See below.

I call it

Butternut Squash Crack

or maybe I should call it something more descriptive like

Butternut Squash with Italian Sausage and Sage (and Goat Cheese If You’re Not Going Dairy-Free For a Little While Like Pam Is)

Take your pick.

Ingredients:
A butternut squash (are you surprised?)
1 package of turkey sweet Italian sausage (the kind I buy has 5 links in the package)
1 bunch of fresh sage (or dried, but fresh smells so nice), chopped
1 chunk of goat cheese (2-3 oz)
2 tbsp Olive oil (I cannot type the word “Olive” without typing “Oliver” and then going back and deleting the r)
Salt and pepper

heaven

Here’s a picture of the actual ingredients, right before I turn them into the yummiest dish you’ll eat maybe ever.
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Directions:
1. Peel and chop butternut squash into smallish chunks. 1.5″ or so? I feel like this part should take up more than one line, because it takes forever, and for some reason the outside of a peeled butternut squash makes my skin feel very dry and cracked. Very odd. Here’s an interesting explanation.)
2. Toss butternut squash with some oliver oil (see?) and salt and pepper and the sage.
3. Cut Italian sausage into chunks. It’s easier if it’s still a bit frozen.
4. Arrange all willy-nilly into a casserole dish. Mix everything up.
5. Dot with some of the goat cheese, crumbled.
6. Cover with foil and cook at 375 for a while. 45 minutes or so? Until the squash is all squishy. Take the foil off and cook for about 20 more minutes until the squash on top gets all brown and caramelized.

Eat, and contemplate when you can eat it again.

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It’s so good because the juices and seasonings from the sausage get all up in the squash, which are like little flavor sponges. And it’s kind of mushy and caramelized and the goat cheese adds a nice um other flavor, as does the sage.

Enjoy!

Thursday

You know what’s exciting? Tomorrow. Tomorrow is exciting because it’s a Catholic holiday and I have the day off. I have big plans. Unfortunately, sleeping late isn’t one of them. That would be truly magnificent, but alas, the boys are still going to daycare so I have to bring them before George goes to work. But I am going to go to the gym after I drop them off. And then I’m going to take the van in to have the (newish) tire looked at. Fun, right? Okay, maybe not that part.

But then I’m going to hang out with Kristie and Ren! Kristie lives in exotic San Francisco, and I haven’t seen her since the day before I went into the hospital. So she’s never met the boys! After having lunch and hanging out, we’ll go pick up the boys so she can see them.

It’s gonna be fun. Except for the tire part.

Speaking of fun, I had dinner with Stephanie and Alicia the other night. You know, my triplet and quad mom friends. After talking to them over the most delicious grilled artichokes on earth (HOLY CRAP), I came to realize I think the boys are eating too much formula and too little food. So yesterday, instead of giving them a bottle after daycare, we gave them some baby food. And then they had their regular evening bottle before bed. They were getting about 40 oz of formula a day, which is apparently way too much. Oops. This is why I like going to the pediatrician every month. But no biggie, they seemed fine with the change from bottle to food.

I’m also going to branch out with what they eat. Currently, they’re getting a lot of purees, and not much else. (Though I did find out they got animal crackers at daycare yesterday, which I have other thoughts on…don’t really want to get into here, am not too angry, but don’t want it happening again, but apparently they loved them…but I don’t want them eating cookies! But they gummed them good, and I am pleased they’re enjoying different textures…so we’ll see.) They’re getting better at picking up their puffs and eating them, so I’m going to add in some chicken and see how they like that. Thanks, of course, to Karen for her advice on this matter.

In other random excitement, I’m wearing my wedding band and engagement ring today! For the first time in a LONG time. Woo!

Sunday we have another playdate with the aforementioned Stephanie and Alicia and their kids. All ten babies will be together again! I think, since Ellen hasn’t responded to our last photo, we need an updated one. Yeah, we’ll be able to get a decent picture with ten babies. Yeah. Right.

And I can’t post without a picture, can I?

Since I don’t have any new ones, how about an old one? Don’t ask who this is, by the way. I don’t know. But he was not quite 2 months old in this picture. Ack!

Oh wait, this was on my phone. Here you go…