Adama (3) appetizers (5) beauty (7) beef (6) birthday (2) books and writing (14) busy body home life (140) chicken (29) crappy crafting (10) current events (1) dessert (2) drinks (9) fitness (62) food (127) holidays (11) lamb (1) life hacks (1) lists (12) me (39) med (1) media (33) oh baby (117) one-dish (26) paleo (7) pasta (9) pets (38) phone (2) pork (11) randoms (8) raves and reviews (55) salad (4) seafood (19) sick (3) side (1) sides (14) snacks (4) sorrow (3) soup (9) todd (3) travel (7) veggie (23) weather (16)

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Because Cute, That's Why.

So, some of my family and some of my friends read this blog. For those individuals, posts that are filled with pictures of Alex make sense. For the 1.34 people who don't know me in real life who are reading this? Probably not so much. But will that stop me? LOL NOPE

A week or so ago we went to the zoo. Alex was in full on ham mode.

She looks like she's plotting something. She probably is, let's be real.

Sometimes she will ASK me to take her photo and then immediately asks to see it. Luckily she's not 100%sorostitute, and doesn't do duck face or tanning beds.

She loves sitting on that little elephant.

Okay, the picture above starts my favorite little string of looks and expressions, each of them so different, transforming her face each time into different masterpieces of cute.

Perfect profile.


Just checking out other kids...


Well, at least we know she can top it.

Monday, March 25, 2013

A Few Life Hacks.

Look man, I'm no genius but sometimes I come up with stuff that makes my life easier and I really just love that. So here's some shit I've come up with/read about and conquered recently. If you are already a genius and started doing these things when you were 10, well FINE THEN.

1. Sports bras.

I hate bras. Who doesn't? I hate the feeling and I hate the unnatural shape they give to my boobs. I love, however, a sports bra. Comfortable, moves with you, a more natural shape. But I also hate what they do to the fat under my arms, which is squish it. Even the skinny minis I see trotting around town in their $400 yoga outfits have this problem. It sucks. So with my four cotton ones, I simply cut out the top row of elastic and instantly improved them and how I look in them. They're still effective when I work out, too. I don't know if I will ever put on a real bra ever never ever. Which reminds me, I need to go to Dillard's and try to find a bra that doesn't make me grumpy.

2. Shoe storage.

This past winter I went from having one pair of heeled boots to having one pair of heeled boots and three pairs of flat sole boots. Oops, sorry honey! There went all the closet space! Anyways, I gained in shoes but did not gain in any more room for them. So I killed two birds with one stone: I stash my flip flops and a couple of pairs of flats inside my boots, which gives me more room AND helps keep my boots standing tall and proud like little soldiers.

3. Butter lover.

Ok, so maybe everyone does this? But I did it just the other day and felt like Einstein. We keep out butter out (OH GOD SO GROSS just shut up) and we keep it, unwrapped, in a little glass butter dish. Doing this gives me nice room temperature butter but how in the hell do I measure it for recipes? Well, before I unwrap it now, I lightly press a butter knife into it at each tablespoon increment. Presto! Instant accuracy instead of eyeballing it. Although if you ask Todd, or me because I am a braggart, I am insanely good at eyeballing my measurements, like spices or shredded cheese.

4. Holy sheet.

So this is probably more to do with my OCD tendencies than a hack, but I came up with this method of changing sheets when Alex was a newborn. See, when you have a newborn, you lose all ability to function like a normal person. You may look normal, but inside the space between your ears is nothing but a mushroom cloud. Sleep-deprived, memory-addled, you have no idea when you last did laundry or went to the grocery store and even if you look down at your feet you have no idea if you're wearing shoes or not. So to make sure I didn't just use the same set of sheets each time, I decided to start with the palest color and each week, go down in colors til I was at the darkest. I still do this now because even though she's almost three (!!!!) parenthood still takes it the fuck out of you, man.

5. Nailed it!

So I found THIS one on The Frisky and was pleasantly surprised to discover that it actually works. Here's something else that no one likes: the time it takes your nail polish to dry. Who remembers to pee before painting their nails? Yeah, me neither. The time it takes for your nails to be 100% damage-proof dry is like as long as it takes an elephant to gestate (fact). But when I read that if you can handle it and keep your fingers in ice water for three minutes, that it would work, well... What's a little discomfort to achieve awesomeness? I have given birth after all. Naturally. So this should be a sinch. Well look, it sort of sucked and I did it first for a minute, then for a minute and a half, with just a little thaw in between and hot damn, it did the trick! Give it a try next time you give yourself a mani. Wait til the ice melts for the most part though; it'd suck to have an iceberg smudge your Titanic, right?

6. Table polish.

Oh Pinterest, you saucy minx. Thank you for everything but seriously thank you for this. Touted as a remedy for rings on wooden surfaces, this stuff also gives wood such a deep luster and shine, it's crazy. And it's also a disinfectant! TELL ME WHAT IT IS, JIL, NOW, JEEZ. Ok, so mix equal parts white vinegar and olive oil. Stir or whisk to muddle them together until it's sort of thick, and then... just swab it on your table. Not only does it remove rings (TRUTH), it also polishes away other stains, like gobs of ketchup or droplets of dried milk that someone (not me, not Todd) left on there days ago before you could even notice. This particular trick is SO amazing, I can't even. I use it on almost all of our wooden surfaces. It's cheap, easy, ~all natural~ and honestly it's so much more effective than furniture polish, I cannot stress enough to you how big a BAMF this mixture is.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Crafty Little Hands.

Yesterday I was just like BLAH BLAH BLAH and didn't want to do much of anything. I had had a long Wednesday of chores and running around, and then that night we stayed up late because I was all like WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU'VE NEVER SEEN BLADE RUNNER like I'm cool and then I spent the next hour or more going "God I don't remember any of this" like a moron except for the part where Sean Young is smoking like a chimney. I remembered that. Oh, and Daryl Hannah's "makeup".

Anyways, I knew that because of my fatigue I wasn't up for following Alex around the Childen's Museum, or the park, or pushing her around the zoo, so I figured, what, we'd make cookies? Do crafts? And then I was like, hey. Hey Alex! Want to get some beads with mommy and make a necklace? And then the atom bomb of adorable toddler enthusiasm went off, and my eyebrows will take weeks to grow back.

So off we went to Hobby Lobby on its second day of being open and it was appropriately chaotic. But also huuuge. So despite my blah energy level, we wandered around for at least 20 minutes. I got her beads, some stuff for me to make for Alex's birthday and for Easter, and then we headed home.

Well, by golly, that girl can craft. I wasn't sure if it would be too advanced, or too boring, since she's not yet three but then, at the same time, is incredibly intelligent and advanced for her age (look, I'm not just saying that, the doc was blown away that she knows all of her colors -- we're working on metallics). So I wasn't sure. But man, she took to that like a fish to water.



And would you just look at that adorable, wonderful little necklace she made? ALL BY HERSELF?! I wrapped the end of a piece of kitchen string with tape, sort of like the end of a shoelace, and showed her like, three or four times and then she's all "Woman, I got this, your pasta water is boiling." Oh yes, we had rice pasta for lunch yesterday and it was like angels came to visit me in my kitchen. Not really, or else those angels would have taken pity on me and completely rennovated that sucker.

Anyways, if you think that up there is a look of satisfaction, you're only partway there.

Because THAT right there, is a look of satisfaction.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Did that Detox Bath really work?!

So I realized this weekend that Alexandra wasn't suffering from allergies but was likely suffering from a cold. And before you're all HORRIBLE PARENT ALERT let me just explain myself and put the blame entirely on my toddler: she is always SO upbeat and jolly, that it's hard to tell when she's ill. The only time I've been like "Oh ok, yeah, she is totally sick" is when she was vomiting all over me. That was an easy one.

Yes, she had a runny nose and was sneezing, but so were Todd and I; allergies reign over here for all of spring and some of summer. It's a bitch, really, because I have NEVER had allergies in all my life. But two years ago Tucson was all "yeah, you've been here long enough, it is time for PAIN."

Anyways, the way I found out that Alex was likely sick with a cold was that I started feeling like shit on Saturday. The itchy nasty sensation in the back of the throat? Yeah, I owned that Saturday night and Sunday morning. So Sunday morning, badass that I am (I guess Alex gets it from me), I threw my corned beef and cabbage together, popped that puppy in the oven and went to the grocery store to get the stuff I needed for a detox bath I read about on Pinterest.

Oh, Pinterest. We're like Benedick and Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing, where once there was mutual disregard and dislike, now we're practically banging each other in public.

Anyways (if I pulled the data I bet this word actually beats out Shit, Fuck and Goddamn in my blog posts), I needed epsom salts and more baking soda and ginger to complete the ingredient list. I had already purchased tea tree oil and lavender oil at the hippie dippy store over the weekend. Then I came home, cleaned the tub and got ready for some serious detoxing.

For those who hate clicking links, the recipe goes as such:

a tub of hot water
two cups or more epsom salts (unless you're under 100lbs, then it's less and then you just go click that damn link yourself)
one cup baking soda
1 tbsp - 1/3 cup ginger -- I went with 1 tbsp to be on the safe side since you can have a sensitivity to it
20 drops or so of any oils you'd like. I did lavender and tea tree oil, obviously.

Swish that shit around and pop yourself in for forty minutes. Yes. Almost an hour. The first twenty minutes are to sweat out the toxins and the last twenty minutes are to absorb the minerals. I did it and I can tell you one thing, it's been at LEAST however old Alex is since I've just lingered in a tub. The last time I just lingered like that was when I was laboring at home. So, three years ago, almost.

It was sort of awesome, sort of boring. Women's Health, Vanity Fair and Parenting helped but two out of three of those magazines sort of suck and sometimes all three of them do. Plus Alex kept coming in and poking me and dipping her hands in the water, but that was sort of awesome too.

Anyways, after my forty minutes were up, and you can rest assured that I had a goddamn clock in there with me so I didn't have to sit in there a minute more, I carefully stood up and, as the wiki how page warned, I did feel light headed and sort of woozy. I had brought a huuuge thing of water with me and I think I drank too much of it, because I also felt sort of nauseated. I just felt sort of strange afterwards. That's the only word for it, really.

I also felt flushes of heat all throughout the day, sweating one moment and then feeling fine the next. I took an afternoon catnap on Todd's lap and went to bed that night worried about how sick I'd be for work the next day; I had taken a day off the week before and was determined not to do it again. The next morning on Monday, I woke up and... I felt fine. Absolutely normal, no sickness, no aches and pains like I usually do in the first stages of a cold. The itchy nasty tickle in my throat? Gone. No congestion, no stuffiness.

Was it just a super light cold? I don't think so. Alex is still talking with a super stuffed up voice and her chi is far more vigorous than mine. Really, the only thing I did was take Advil early on Sunday morning, and then do my detox bath at 10:45am. But by early the next morning, any remnants of a cold were absolutely gone.

So, I can't say with any certainty that it worked, but... Did it? If you're not feeling well or just want to tell your spouse and kid(s) that you are NOT AVAILABLE for 40 minutes, I'd give it a try. Just don't chug too much water.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Corned Beef with Cabbage and Potatoes

Welp, after two years of using this particular recipe from Cook's Illustrated, and after two years of very positive feedback each time I make it (after all it's not just for St. Patrick's Day), I have decided to post the recipe here. I strongly urge all corned beef fans to give it a try. Like, do it!

Corned Beef with Cabbage and Potatoes
serves 6 - 8

1 4-5lb corned beef brisket
4 cups low sodium chicken broth
4 cups water
3 carrots, chopped
1 onion, peeled and quartered
1 tbsp peppercorns
1 tsp whole allspice
3 bay leaves
1 tsp dried thyme (or 1 tbsp minced fresh)
3 tbsp butter
1.5lb small red potatoes
9 carrots, halved crosswise
1 head cabbage, cut into 8 2" wedges
Salt and pepper to taste

Can you believe I wrote that ingredient list out from memory? Like I don't even have the recipe in front of me. GOD JIL YOU ARE TOO COOL.

Preheat oven to 300. In a Dutch oven (my 5 quart just baaaarely housed all the ingredients), combine the brisket, broth and water, chopped carrots, onion, spices and bay leaves. Cover and place in the oven to cook for 4.5 - 5 hours, until a fork can slip easily in and out of the meat. Try not to salivate at that point (impossible).

Remove meat and place in a 9x13 casserole dish. Strain liquid through a fine mesh strainer into a large bowl, and discard the veggies. Pour one cup of cooking liquid over meat and cover tightly with foil. Return the rest of the liquid to your Dutch oven and bring to a low boil. Add your potatoes and simmer for about 10-15 minutes until they're tender. Now, add your halved carrots and cabbage on top of the potatoes, cover and cook for an additional 15 minutes. You want to make sure that any outer cabbage leaves are easily pierced by a fork.

Plate veggies on a large serving dish. Starting at a corner of the brisket, slice the beef, cutting against the grain. Nestle the meat on top of the vegetables and season with pepper and salt, if you so desire.

DEVOUR! This stuff is SO, SO good Todd will request it on random weekends. Like, wifey, for the love of God please make that corned beef.

I really hope you give this version a try. Don't wait til next St. Patrick's Day, either.

Friday, March 15, 2013

A Few Flowers More.

See what I did there? Anyone pick up on that?


The other day while I was at work, Todd took Alex to the park. At the end of their merriment, Alex decided to pick a bouquet for mommy (THAT'S ME YOU GUYS). So she did and she requested that Todd put her flowers "in a little bowl for me." So he did.

Apparently she clutched them in her hot little hands the entire car ride home, fists together, held at chest level as if they were precious. Which, naturally, they are, especially to me.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

How To Be A Princess.

Here is Alexandra, pretending to be Aurora from Sleeping Beauty, reenacting the scene in the forest when Aurora is singing to the woodland creatures.

Girlfriend really knocks it out of the park, don't you think?

Friday, March 8, 2013

Grisly Gluten. :(

So yesterday Alex and I went to the museum with a friend of mine and her adorable daughter, then met up with an other girlfriend and her adorable daughter (must have more babies immediately, they were that cute). For lunch, we hit up Sauce which is a delicious little restaurant serving Italian fare, and I was eager to get my grub on for a yummy cheat meal.

If you read this blog with any regularity you know that I have been trying to stay away from them. I did Paleo for a couple of weeks and then switched to Primal because wine and parmesan. Wine and parmesan. Mmm. But in order to keep myself sane I let myself have a cheat meal about once a week. Twice if you count that piece of Chompies everything toast I had the other day.

Now here is the difference between that piece of toast and my bread roll, thin crust pizza slice, bites of Alex's mac and cheese experience at Sauce: Pain. Horrible, crampy, something died in your gut kind of pain. Hurrah, I'm gluten intolerant! 

I didn't even go all out like I had intended, thanks to my friends who ordered salads (God, ladies, way to keep me reined in). I had intentions of a big bowl of pasta, or maybe my very own pizza, or maybe a PANIIIIIIINI. But THANK GOD for the salad I ordered because had I eaten any more than I did, I think I would have died right there outside the store on the sidewalk.

I'm not going to get into any sort of gross detail, but it was remarkable, how fast and how long the inflammation lasted. It sort of blew my mind, to be honest and even Todd was taken aback by the severity of the reaction. He didn't even think I should have worked out last night (I did, and I owned it), because it had KO'd me so thoroughly.

Anyways, I don't know what to think about this. Last Sunday for the cheat meal we made a big mess of pasta and yep, I had stomach pains after. But nothing so severe as yesterday. The pain lasted SIX HOURS. Oh my God. Ugh. Fucking gluten, man. What the hell.

One thing I'm glad for though is that the withdrawals during my first couple of weeks of going Paleo are gone. I don't really think about it anymore unless I'm planning a cheat meal (and now that will forever be different), and I'm more than happy to load up a leaf of butter lettuce with anything from scrambled eggs with cheddar and ham or guacamole and leftover steak. It's no big deal.

But now this pain, this reaction my body is having to a food I used to eat all the time, is making me question whether I should be feeding Alexandra this stuff anymore. Now, I know that there are a lot of studies out there saying this rampant, widespread villainizing of gluten is overblown and unnecessary. But my reaction, my body's loud protest, was very real, and before I had never thought I even had a problem. If I had any discomfort, I don't remember it. Nothing stands out. But now that I've gotten my body off the stuff, ouch.

So, yeah. I tried a few weeks ago to give her a trail mix instead of her go-to favorite of Cheerios mixed with goldfish crackers and she was like WHAT IS THIS BASIC ASS SHIT and refused to eat it. But I think I may keep trying, perhaps with a less shmancy mix than the previous one (sun-dried cranberries are lost on a toddler I guess).  All I know is, the pain I felt was my body telling me something about the food I ate, and it wasn't a happy message.

Of course, tomorrow we're supposed to have Italian with friends and already I'm sort of thinking about how delicious lasagna is. I heard once that humans are the only animals that will return to a food that treated them unkindly, and I guess I am not only a human but the president of humans as well. Mmm, lasagna.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

A Fistful of Flowers.

We walked Patton this afternoon, but really it was to check out the explosion of wildflowers on our route. Last night we saw a bunch but literally overnight and this morning, hundreds more showed up, thanks to the spike in sunny temperatures. 

Alexandra petted as many as she could, namely because I told her they were in other people's yards and weren't ours for the picking. But then I found a section of earth on the other side of the sidewalk that was blanketed by orange and yellow wildflowers. I picked four for Alexandra, and she picked three for herself.

Needless to say, her enthusiasm for taking those flowers home was unparalleled. But I promised her we'd keep them, and that I would put them in water. Since she skipped saving the stems and just went right for the heads, I had to switch out a vase for a little bowl. Thank goodness my mother bought me a coco egg cup in France, because it's the perfect size for trying to revive mangled flowers.

They look, um, a little perked up, sure. But this is Alexandra's bouquet and so it's absolutely perfect and makes mine look basic and boring.

Mommy daughter bouquets are pretty much the raddest thing ever, though.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Sonoran "Winter"

I had another lovely dog walk yesterday, just Patton and me. It wasn't super chilly or too cold for her by any means, but Alexandra had no desire to come along. And look, between you and me, sometimes I'm okay with that. She's a tough cookie and does the mile long walk no problem and has for over a year, but it takes almost 40 minutes. I can do it in 20 or less and when I have her dinner to get on the table, our dinner to prep, baths to draw and showers to take, all before her bedtime, that extra 20 minutes comes in handy.

ANYWAYS. When I don't have a sweaty little hand in my sweaty little hand, I have a bit of brain power to focus on some pretty things I see.

I love how the blinding sun, momentarily tucked behind a tree, can transform this little street. Like, where am I right now?

I love daffodils, they're pretty much my favorite flower ever. We had slews of them growing in our yard back in Nashville. I also love than they're alternatively known as jonquils. What a fun word! Who came up with that anyway?

jonquil (n.) Look up jonquil at
1660s, species of narcissus, from French jonquille (17c.), from Spanish junquillo, diminutive of junco "rush, reed," from Latin iuncus "rush;" so called in reference to its leaves. The type of canary bird (1865) is so called for its pale yellow color, which is like that of the flower.
Oh, okay.

I love that this is still technically winter. This is the time to visit the Sonoran desert, let me tell you. It's like visiting Chicago in the early summer, you're all "OH MY GOD these people are so LUCKY to live here, why don't I move here?!" and then you come here in the summer, or go to Chicago in the winter, and you're convinced the locals must be out of their goddamn minds. Oh yeah, Lent is over for me. I gave up. Hey! I gave up Lent for Lent! I'm on the right track.

It's the desert! There is grass and greenery everywhere! Someone call the paramedics! I love how unique each photo is. The first one makes you think I'm like ten minutes away from twilight, but these were taken in order. But we have a wide, wide sky out here in Tucson, it's breathtaking really, and it provides a lot of room for creativity when it comes to sunlight.

I think this last one is sort of my favorite and I'm not sure why. It's not even really in focus. But the sun, still tame and nowhere near the menacing force it will be in two months, is a tangible presence. There in the upper lefthand corner, you can see the rays almost lending an autumnal array of color to the trees. Where am I? What season is this? How did I get out of the house?

Friday, March 1, 2013

Wonderful Week

This week has just been lovely. I feel like it was a great, solid week full of fulfillment and achievement and nowhere did Alexandra slap my face away when I tried to give her a kiss, so that was swell.

But seriously, I managed a dog walk everyday, I managed a workout everyday, I WORKED ON MY STORY, I bought a Crate & Barrel serving dish for $7 at a thrift store (and a green wood chair for Alex - $3, a 14 piece punch bowl set for $20 and an adorable bright orange mini pitcher/vase for $2), Alex and I had fun riding the choo choo train again, the house got cleaned, I folded and put away the laundry the same day I did it and Alexandra was absolutely in love with me which damn, just feels so good.

Oh, and I never mentioned here that I am queen of storytime again! For the first year or longer I was the go-to reader for book time before night night. Then BOOM Todd was the shining star in an otherwise bleak night sky, and basically for the year after that, I was ousted, left alone to sit on the floor with my back against her changing table dresser. NOT ANYMORE, BABY! I'm back, and it feels great.

Anyways, everything just seemed nice this week. Things got done, love got spread, joy was experienced, and things just felt a little more... orderly. Except last night when halfway through dinner prep, RIGHT before I was going to draw Alex's tub, I realized I was out of the key ingredient of my sauce. So off to the store we went. BUT Alex was so cute and fun and helped me carry the basket so who cares right?

This morning was nice too. I mean, I still hit snooze as many times as possible, but then Bingley came to purr on me, and then Alex woke up which I always secretly love cause I get to see her before I leave. Todd brought her into bed for snuggles. And then, in true Bingley fashion, this happened:

God, he always looks so surly, like he's half a beer away from punching my lights out. Anyways, folks, that's his sweet look, and that is what I see every workday morning. He perches on my jewelry box and basically watches me get ready in the morning. He even let me pet him after I was done. Like, what is this rose colored world I've been dropped into?

I got dressed, kissed Alex and Todd and got ready to ride my bike to work when the best sentence ever came, dressed in a toddler shriek, from the bedroom: I WANT ONE MORE KISS!

Yes ma'am!

Happy weekend to everyone!