NaBloPoMo

Not bad for a Tuesday.

I woke up at 4:30am this morning, because I had to get ready to drive to Boston. I was going to work for the day, and then meet my very, very good friend J for dinner and…our night with Ina Garten!

It was raining, which meant everyone forgot how to drive, so my 2 hour drive took 3 hours and 15 minutes. I listened to the final episode in the Serial season 3 podcast, and started listening to Jennifer Weiner’s memoir, “Hungry Heart”.

A night with Ina Garten.

I was antsy all day, anticipating my delicious dinner with J (whom I hadn’t seen in almost 6 months) and our night with our soon to be BFF, Ina.

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We met for dinner at Eataly Boston, nabbing 2 bar stools and ordering a board of charcuterie that could have fed 6 people (though that didn’t stop us from ordering a pasta dish to share as well. Or wine.)

Ina was speaking at Boston’s Symphony Hall. A gorgeous, ornate building, that was casting a golden glow onto the cold, wet streets.

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Best I could do from row KK, taking an illegal photo.

Ina was her welcoming, wonderful self. She was honest and open, funny and warm. She talked about Jeffrey (whom she married when she was 20), revealed some little-known facts (she has her pilot’s license, and Jeffrey discovered he was dyslexic when he went to get his), shared the recipe she’s been working on for 8 years and hasn’t mastered yet (Boston cream pie) and let everyone in on her secret for success: “follow your dreams, and jump in the pond. Find something you love, and figure out how to make a living doing it.”

Ina Nerds that we are, J and I had our cookbooks with us, ready for her to sign. Unfortunately, there was no signing event this time around (she DID sign my cookbook the last time I saw her on tour).

I’m staying in Boston tonight, at a hotel. I used to travel quite a bit for work in my last job, but it’s been a while since I’ve been in a hotel room by myself. Will I be able to sleep without the beacon of light from the monitor in my face? (Hopefully) Will I remember how to barricade the door? (Yes) Will I wake up at 3:30am like I used to do when I traveled alone, not being able to go back to sleep? (Probably)

I’m up early tomorrow to beat the holiday traffic and start Thanksgiving prep. Because Thursday is the day that REALLY kicks off the holiday season…and I can’t wait.

cooking, NaBloPoMo, recipe

Recipe: quick & easy Midnight Pasta

It’s Thanksgiving week, which means the madness has begun. Weekends will be filled to the brim with activities and shopping, cookie baking and present wrapping. Which means time during the week after work is precious, and I need to make the most of it.

This is the time of year, when meal prep becomes ‘whatever’s easiest’. That may be thawing a container of beef stew (like we’re doing tonight) or making simple meals with foods you can find in your pantry (like last night).

Yesterday was a big push to blow all the leaves in the yard for Mr. KK (despite half the yard having snow on it) and starting the holiday shopping and entertaining Little Mister for me. Knowing I’d be doing a VERY LARGE grocery store trip early in the week for Thanksgiving, I needed to get creative with what I had in the house.

Enter: Midnight Pasta.

This pasta dish is easy to make with pantry staples, and originated as the dish Italians would make as a midnight snack.

midnight pasta ingredients
I know I said ‘pantry staples’ and no one has parsley in their pantries. For some reason, our parsley plant is hanging on outside, even after the first snow of the season. If you don’t have fresh parsley, you can use dried or skip altogether.

If you don’t like anchovies, you’re out of luck on this one. But I promise they create a deliciously salty pasta, you’d have no idea you were eating them.

Recipe for Midnight Pasta (aka: Pasta with Anchovies)

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Delicious midnight pasta with anchovies.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound spaghetti
  •  Salt (for the cooking water)
  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
  • 1 small can of anchovies, mostly drained
  • 1 tablespoon capers
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley, optional
  •  Parmesan for grating, optional (for me: lots of parmesan)
  • 4 slices of bread, pulsed into bread crumbs
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 Tbsp. butter

Directions:

Put spaghetti in well-salted pan of boiling water. Cook according to package directions until al dente.

Melts 2 Tbsp butter in small sauté pan over medium heat. Add bread crumbs and stir to coat. Toast breadcrumbs, stirring to keep them evenly browned. Sprinkle zest of lemon into breadcrumbs. Remove from heat when toasty.

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While the pasta is cooking, warm the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for about 1 minute, without letting it brown. Add the anchovies, breaking them up with a wooden spoon. As they cook, they will start to melt. When anchovies are mostly melted, add capers and red pepper and cook for a half-minute more.

Reserve a 1/2 cup pasta water. Drain pasta and add it to the skillet with the anchovy sauce. Toss spaghetti to coat it with the anchovy sauce. Add a few tablespoons of pasta water to loosen up the sauce if necessary. Remove from heat.

Plate spaghetti and top with lemony breadcrumbs and parmesan.

Enjoy!

 

 

Kids will be kids, NaBloPoMo

Mourning the loss of the Afternoon Nap

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This past spring, the KK household mourned the loss of a beloved and loyal friend, who could provide endless hours of enjoyment, was trustworthy and a true partner when it came to raising the Little Mister.

We will miss you, Afternoon Nap.

We understand that we had you around much longer than other families; Little Mister enjoyed you until he was three-and-a-half. And not only did he enjoy spending time with you (for 3 hours at a time), but after Little Mister had an afternoon nap, he was always in such a great mood. You were really, really good for him.

Because when you were taking care of Little Mister, Mr. KK and I were task masters, getting so much done around the house. Mr. KK spent quite a bit of time doing yard work, and I would shop and cook for the week. You were so reliable, we knew we could count on you.

Alas, we knew it was too good to be true, and that you had already stayed longer than we had anticipated. You were gracious about it; you had slowly started to disappear: a Saturday afternoon here, a Tuesday there. We sensed you pulling away from us, and we adjusted our tenuous grip on you, hoping to selfishly hold onto you for a little bit longer.

But then one day, you were gone.

And boy, do we miss you.

When you first left us, it was hard on Little Mister. He would try his hardest to stay awake until dinnertime, but we’d often find that the minute he’d be strapped into his car seat after a long day, it would only take a matter of minutes before we’d find him snoozing.

We did find ourselves with fewer time restraints on weekends; we didn’t have to wait until after your visit to do an activity, or stop what we were doing in the morning because you were coming over. But we still missed you.

Today, you are a mere distant memory. If I close my eyes, I can almost remember what it was like to have you visit on weekends; all of the cooking and meal prep I was able to do, catching up on the bills and mail, and even getting chores done.

So we officially bid you good-bye, dear nap, please know how much you are missed.

NaBloPoMo

How old people do beer fests.

We are by no means “experts”, but we’ve been going to beer fests for quite some time.

So while we may look “old” or “conservative” compared to the bearded hipsters who frequent beer fests these days, we’re actually seasoned ‘fest go-ers.

So much so, that we come equipped  with our very own pretzel necklaces.

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We were stopped no less than 20 times today to be asked where we got our pretzel necklaces. Were they selling them at the event? How much were they? Where could they get one?

Truth is: you can’t buy them. They were made by a person who remembers the beer fests that helped her fall in love with beer. When she and Mr. KK would go (before the Little Mister arrived) and make the rounds from table to table.

I swear, at the next beer fest, I’m going to come with a little folding table, set up shop, and sell the necklaces for $5 a pop.

We would make a KILLING.

Because even though we’re old, we’re smart. And we know how to rock a pretzel necklace like it’s nobody’s business.

NaBloPoMo

If you need me after 9pm, call me tomorrow.

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The fact that I’m writing this post at 11pm on a Friday night is amazing. Not because I’m home, but because I’m AWAKE.

That’s right. Usually, I would have at least a solid hour of sleep under my belt by this time, but we were at a friends’ house, and when you fall asleep at other people’s homes, they don’t always invite you back.

Part of the deal with being a morning person is that you’re NOT a night owl. Meaning: you go to bed early. I have always gone to bed early. In college, I would do my best to hang until the wee hours of the morning (why, people? WHY?) but would often find myself sneaking off “lie down for just a minute” and the next thing I knew I would wake up fully-clothed, on top of my twin comforter, mascara halfway down my face, at 5:30am.

During the week, every night is an endurance test to see if I can outlast Little Mister at bedtime. When we start our pre-bed show at 8pm, there have been many night when I have fallen asleep (Mr. KK, too) while Little Mister watches TV, wide awake. In fact, I’ve never known my child to ever fall asleep while watching TV. How is that possible?

If you find it a necessity enjoy going to bed early, you shouldn’t have children. Because guess what kids hate to do? GO TO BED. In fact, they are so manipulating, that they could drag out the going-to-bed-routine for over 45 minutes. Forty-five minutes. Do you know how many times I could have fallen asleep during that time? Nine times. Nine.

And guess what little kids don’t like to do? NAP. I would practically sell my soul to be able to take an uninterrupted marathon nap on a Saturday afternoon. When I suggest a nap to Little Mister, he acts like I offered him poisonous candy. I want to scream, “Enjoy this sleep while you can, Kid! You don’t know what you’re missing!” Because some day, you’ll be exhausted and just want to throw your body on your mattress but you’ll have a little child who just “isn’t tired” or “isn’t ready to sleep just yet”, even though it 9pm, 9:30pm, 10pm. You will be DYING to go to bed (forget pajamas, I’ll just sleep in my clothes like college) – you will be able to physically SEE your bed from his room – and yet, you will never get there. You will be dealing with orange ghosts under the bed, one very last glass of water, and getting the comforter tucked in on all sides. You will say things like, “I’m exhausted,” to your child. Who will simply look at you, wide-eyed, and reply, “Well, I’m not.” As if that’s the last word to keep you up even.

When Vito the Wonder Dog was still alive, and we were living in our last house, there would come a point in the night when he would be ready to go upstairs to bed. Mind you, he had been sleeping on us on the couch for the last 2 hours, but he’d reach his breaking point. He’d wake up and stretch, shake out, jump down from our legs, and prance over to the staircase. Vito would then sit at the bottom of the stairs, staring at us and crying; it was as if he was saying, “Come on, humans! Can’t you see I’m exhausted! I just want to go to bed.” Eventually his crying would wear us down and we’d take him upstairs to bed.

I loved this about Vito. He was tired? He’d go to bed. Now, when I’m tired, I’m either in the middle of the bedtime routine, or there’s laundry to be done, or cookies for school to bake.

Once Little Mister started growing up, I still couldn’t meet my early bedtime, because on the nights Mr. KK and I would eat after Max went to bed, we found ourselves eating at 9:30pm. (In fact, we still do.) And if there’s anything I hate more than missing my bedtime, it’s being hungry. Food comes first.

So if you ever need me – or, God forbid, ever want to go out with me – after 9pm, consider it a hard pass. We can talk tomorrow when I’m up before the sun and ready to tackle the day.

Right now, I just want to tackle my pillow. GOOD NIGHT.

Entertainment, NaBloPoMo

We’re horrible at binge watching

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This is the BEST show on television. David Rose is the most perfectly written and developed character I have ever seen. Go watch this show now.

Hey, it’s the Ides of November! (oh, not a thing?) Anyway, what I really should be celebrating is that I have made it halfway through NaBloPoMo and blogging every day so far during the month of November. Yay, me!

Perhaps it’s because it gets dark so early, but when it’s time to relax at night after Little Mister is asleep and we’ve eaten and cleaned up after dinner, we’re both exhausted.

But as not to go to bed on a full stomach, we’ll usually watch a little TV to wind down.

And I don’t have to tell you that there’s NOTHING to watch on TV. Besides the two shows that have our loyalty (Modern Family and The Goldbergs), most nights we stare at The Guide, neither one of us wanting to commit to something.

Which means it’s time for a new show to binge watch.

Unfortunately, our lives don’t allow us to ‘binge watch’ in the true sense of the word: plopping down in the family room and watching episodes for 8 hours straight (Mama ain’t got time for that). So instead, we binge watch our own way: whenever we can fit the shows in. I think half hour shows are the perfect amount of time. An hour is just too much of a committment (and who am I kidding? I can’t stay awake for an hour at night any more.

Or, we start a show and don’t finish.

Seriously, we are the worst binge-watchers ever! Shows that we’ve (sort of) binged on include:

  • Entourage (Watched every episode. I STILL miss this show),
  • Arrested Development (but we stopped during sometime during Season 4)
  • Orange is the New Black (again, we stopped watching that one randomly too)
  • Younger (I started watching this by myself thinking Mr. KK wouldn’t like it, but then I wanted to watch the episodes so badly that I’d just put the show on when we were watching TV together. #TeamJosh)
  • Catastrophe (I watched this one by myself, mostly when I was traveling so much for work)
  • Schitt’s Creek (I started this one on my own but loved it so much that I started it all over again so that Mr. KK could join in the fun. Seriously, one of the best shows on TV, and coming back in January!)

We are in need of a new show.

I think we started Homeland, but didn’t get through the first episode (not sure I remember why?)

House of Cards has been in our queue for a long time but we never started it. Worth it?

Breaking Bad has also been in our queue. I feel like all the hoopla around that show is gone. Should we start?

Don’t get me wrong, I could watch Friends reruns until the cows come home, but it’s probably time for something new when I can practically recite the episode purely from its name.

News shows, and….GO!

Kids will be kids, NaBloPoMo

The preschooler rating system.

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My rating tonight after shutting the TV and announcing it was time to start our bedtime routine.

If you live in my house, you are constantly aware of the type of job you’re doing not only as a parent, but as a human being. Why? Because our preschooler has developed a very detailed rating system that puts Yelp and Rotten Tomatoes to shame.

That’s right, at any given time, Mr. KK and I are given immediate ratings and feedback, delivered through the complex rating system knows as: Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down.

Imagine if you could use this rating system as adults in real life???

When your waiter at a restaurant asks how you like your meal, you could give him a big Thumbs Down.

At work, when someone in a meeting throws out a ridiculous idea, you simply reply with Two thumbs Down.

And, after a decent first date, instead of the awkward kiss at the front door, you can give them an enthusiastic Two Thumbs Up!

But back to parenting.  Just how does one earn this prestigious Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down rating? I’m glad you asked!

Here are just a few ways you can earn a Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down rating in our house:

  • Ask Little Mister to wash his hands before dinner. Rating: Thumbs down.
  • Shut off the TV when it’s time to go to bed. Rating: Two thumbs down.
  • Say yes to dessert. Rating: Two thumbs up.
  • Announce that it’s bath night. Rating: Thumbs down.
  • Ask Little Mister to brush his teeth. Rating: Thumbs down.
  • Remind Little Mister that he needs to put shoes on to go to school. Rating: Thumbs down.
  • Read two books before bed. Rating: Two thumbs up.
  • Mr. KK and I try to have an adult conversation. Rating: Two thumbs down.
  • Limit TV intake to a normal amount. Rating: Two thumbs down.
  • Try and hold hands in a busy parking lot. Rating: Thumbs down.
  • Give Little Mister the ‘Thumbs Down’. Rating: Two thumbs down.

Not everyone can have this educational rating system in their house. In order to do so, you must have a very opinionated preschooler with a strong will and award-winning frown face.

My current rating: Thumbs medium. I’ll take it!

NaBloPoMo

When a foodie needs to feed a toddler.

He enjoys twirling his ‘noodles’ like a true Italian.

Tonight, right before I put our dinner on the table, my Little Mister said to me, “Mommy, you make the BEST dinners!”

This warmed my heart, and I happily accepted this compliment, even though I had just plated the most typical four-year-old’s meal: chicken nuggets and steamed carrots (not really a dinner I was going to win any awards for).

I love food. I love cooking and I love eating out. I love trying new recipes at home, and tasting restaurant’s signature dishes. I’m a self-proclaimed (non snobby) foodie. I just enjoy good food.

So when the Little Mister came along, I couldn’t wait to bestow my knowledge and love of good food on my impressionable son.

One of my favorite parts of babyhood was when it was time for Little Mister to start trying solid foods. Each weekend I would steam and purée new foods, package and freeze them in single servings. Apples! Carrots! Sweet potatoes!

And the Little Mister loved every bite. In fact, the only food I couldn’t get him to like – despite weeks of trying – was avocado (how is that possible??)

Then we moved onto combination foods: puréed chicken soup, beef stew and veggies and chick peas.

As someone who loves food, and loves cooking, Little Mister’s love of food made me want to cry tears of joy. We were doing something right! Our child liked to eat different foods!

We progressed from there. Shrimp. Zucchini. Meatloaf. There was nothing he wouldn’t eat (except avocado, still).

But as time went on, and we entered ‘toddlerhood’ (cue maniacal laugh), my good little eater was nowhere to be found.

Suddenly, foods that he used to love, were met with a loud, “Blecch!” (even before a morsel was tasted).

Right before my very eyes, my wide-eyed little foodie lost his sophisticated palette, and almost over night we entered the dreaded chicken nugget phase.

There are about a dozen meals we can rotate for dinners, including:

  • Chicken soup (if it’s homemade only, and doesn’t have any “green things” in it)
  • Chicken nuggets (we prefer dino nuggets, and don’t even think about trying to pass off a genuine chicken cutlet in small shapes off to him, it will be met with, “Mom, what IS this?”
  • Hot dogs
  • Meatloaf (most of the time, as long as there’s lots of ketchup)
  • Scrabled eggs
  • Pancakes
  • Grilled cheese (it’s hit or miss with the grilled cheese, which we are sometimes told is “only a lunch food”)
  • Spaghetti with butter and cheese
  • Pasta with sauce (depends on the shape of the pasta, how soft the pasta is (he prefers al dente) and whether or not there is visible basil or oregano “green stuff” in the sauce
  • Meatballs
  • Mac and cheese (He prefers blue box, I prefer Annie’s)
  • Salmon (every third time I make it, as long as it’s drowning in lemon and there’s a promise of dessert if he finished)

We are lucky in that he does eat some vegetables: carrots, broccoli, string beans (sometimes) and peas.

When I think back to my childhood, I distinctly remember eating a cheese and mustard sandwich every day for lunch for 3 years straight in junior high. I’m pretty sure we had the same dinners each week on rotation. And I’m the first person who wants to order octopus at a restauarnt, or enjoy a big bowl of midnight pasta (made with anchovies).

So, there is hope for my Little Mister after all. And for me to keep my ‘best dinner-maker’ award.

NaBloPoMo

Life is short, remember the good times.

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Every time we would see the words “Good Times” anywhere, we’d laugh and take a pic and text it to each other.

A few weeks ago, Mr. KK came in with the mail, and my college alumni magazine was on top. I flipped through mindlessly, looking at pictures of a campus I no longer recognized, ambitious students participating in activities that never used to exist, and wedding and baby photos of young, fresh-faced alums who didn’t seem like they could be more than 20 years old.

At the end of the magazine is always a section on “class news”, and each graduating year is broken out with little snippets that people share; new jobs, career and family milestones and, sadly, deaths.

When it comes to my college years, my memory is pretty lacking. I don’t mean that in a “Wow, I partied those four years away and it’s all a such a big blur!” way. Instead, it’s like I just didn’t commit names, faces and events to my memory. Or if I did, they are no longer there. And, of course, it causes my college roommates to make fun of me, question whether or not I even attended the same school as they did. (NOTE: I did.)

So when I scanned the class news section for our graduating year, and the graduation years above and below us (since we DID spend lots of time with those folks, even though I can never remember their names) and saw the obituary for a guy we knew quite well, I had to do a double take.

We lived next to the football team our junior and senior years, and if anyone had ridiculous nicknames for each other, it was these guys. So it took me a minute for this guy’s name – his real name – to register. And even then, I doubted my memory, which didn’t have the best track record. I texted a pic of the obit to my friends just to double check I wasn’t crazy, and sure enough, our friend “Good Times” had passed away.

When did we get so…old?

I was never particularly close with Good Times, however one of my roommates spent quite a bit of time with him during – and after – college. But no matter how well I knew him, or how much we hung out, the three of us were stunned to see his name in print. Someone we were friends with in college died.

The realization was a little scary: my friends and I were at the age, when classmates could just start dying. Sure, we’d lost a few others over the years to tragic accidents. But to think that people our age may start passing away due to illness or medical conditions, was pretty scary.

That night, one of my roommates scoured the internet looking for answers. She stumbled across Good Times’ Facebook page, which had been turned into a memorial. “I don’t want you to do that to my page,” she told us, referring to the memorial page. One of her biggest worries is what is going to happen to her social media if something should ever happen to her. We reassure her that we will be very kind, and continually tag her in embarrassing photos in the afterlife. (kidding!)

Life is short, be sure to spend it doing things you like.

Social media aside, seeing that someone who had been so full of life (and was always up for a Good Time, hence his nickname) had passed away was pretty sobering. One minute you’re here, and the next you’re…not.

I wouldn’t say that this occurrence renewed my lease on life or anything big and spiritual like that, but it did remind me that life truly IS short. So you should make the best of it while you can. Make time for the things you like to do, say no to stuff that doesn’t interest you and takes up your time. Pick a few items off your ‘to do’ list and make them a priority. Stop and remember the little moments; for me: don’t rush the Little Mister brushing his teeth every morning because we’re running late again; if he wants to get in the car seat by himself as a feat of independence, just let him do it, even though it takes forever; and be the green dinosaur who needs to rescue the lion who fell in the ocean, even though I should be making dinner.

And make sure to have a Good Time, no matter what you’re doing.

Uncategorized

Footloose and Child-free

Here’s what happens when you let two forty-somethings loose in Brooklyn (hipster central), sans child, with zero agenda.

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Every once in a while you need to sneak away and remember who you were before you had to watch Blaze and the Monster Machines 24/7, eat chicken nuggets for dinner and sleep in dinosaur sheets.

Mr. KK and I are enjoying some frosty beverages, while Little Mister enjoys time with his Grandparents.

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That beer list is pretty impressive. As is the beard on the guy in the bottom right.

Cheers to adults-only weekends!