Saturday, September 2, 2017

It's been awhile

September is here and it feels like the summer blew by.  Not because we were any busier than usual, it was one of our more relaxing summers but I guess everything goes faster as you get older.  

We didn't take our normal big family vacation this summer.  Since we went to London & Paris earlier in the year, we decided to just do a Colorado trip to visit Josh's family and then go up to Estes Park.  The trip ended early due to a horrible hotel experience, an episode of car sickness, and rainy weather.  The highlight for me was the day we spent in Boulder doing some shopping and taking a tour of the Celestial Seasonings Tea Factory.  Celestial Seasonings isn't my favorite but I still love all tea.  And who can resist the cute bear mascot?

It also was the summer of weddings.  I do love a good wedding and one of them was a friend's Star Wars themed wedding.  Josh was in heaven and planned months in advance for his costume.  He now also has something to wear to the opening of the next Star Wars wedding.  It really was a neat wedding.  The other was more traditional style wedding and both Josh and Tori got plenty of dancing in that night (see first pic).

Penny celebrated her 10th birthday in August.  Grandma hosted a Unicorn Trampoline Park party. This was the first year that Penny has actually been able to be in touch with friends over the summer so we were able to have a "friend" party and it seems she had a great birthday.  She also managed to top off her Nintendo Switch savings and have enough to go buy herself a Nintendo Switch.  We have 3 in my house now...sigh.

We did spend some time swimming this summer both at my sister's pool in KC and at the YMCA. While in KC we also hit a up cookie dough stand to try out the cookie dough craze... it was really good and I cheated for it. The girls did the Girls Who Rock Camp for a week and they both loved it.  They played a rock concert at Central Standard Brewing.  I really love how empowering this program is for young girls.

Speaking of music now not only do I have a guitar player I now have a drummer.  Penny finally decided on playing the drums and started lessons a few weeks ago.  We new she was naturally inclined to play the drums because she has always had such a good sense of rhythm.  Tori also upgraded her acoustic guitar to a new electric guitar.  She played bass guitar during rock camp and although she had fun, she decided that she would rather stay with lead guitar on electric.  We ended up keeping her acoustic which now hangs on her bedroom wall. 

Also to celebrate Josh's birthday this year we all got tickets to see Sir Paul McCartney.  The girls are as big of Beatles fans as we are.  The concert was awesome and there was plenty of singing by all of us. 

We redid Penny's room.  She has wanted a cupcake wall for awhile and I figured how to make that happen.  Also she desperately needed a better desk space that she could use for all her arts & crafts as well as working on the computer.  I sought out an Ikea hack that worked out great.  Here is the sneak peak but I plan to do a more involved post about her room later.

I have been working from home almost 100% these days which has been nice.  I get so much more done and life is just more balanced.  I am getting ready to go into a period of travel for work over the next month.  I will be spending a week in Minneapolis, a week in San Francisco, and a week in Bangalore, India.  The India trip is a big one that will take two weekends up in order to travel the 20 hours each way.  My connection is through London... who would have thought I would be in London twice in one year?  My only hope is that I have time to hit up M&S Food in my short layover!

I did take a break from keto the month of July but have been back since the first of August.  I feel like my body isn't adapting as easily as it has in the past.  Unfortunately it is gong to be difficult to stay keto with all the travel.  I'm not worried about Minneapolis or San Francisco but India just isn't going to happen. I love Indian food so I want to eat the carbs but also, it would be difficult to seek out foods that are't made with rice or potatoes.  I am looking forward to the chai though. I can only imagine how yummy it is in India.

Josh & I have also started on our goal to get tattoos that we have been wanting.  He went first.  We spent 5 hours a couple of weeks ago and he has about 2-3 hours left to go to complete his.  It is rather large and includes a silhouette of the girls faces with scenes in each one that are special to each daughter.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Low Carb Southern Tomato Pie

After returning from Savannah, I have been craving southern foods moreso than normal.  I started looking up recipes and came across a recipe for Low Carb Tomato Pie and let me tell you, it doesn't disappoint!

Low Carb Southern Tomato Pie

3/4 C Almond Flour
1/3 C Oat Fiber or 2 Tbs of Coconut Flour
1 C Shredded Parmesan
1 Egg
2 Tbs Butter

Mix ingredients and press into 9" pie plate.  Bake on 350 for 15 minutes.

4 large tomatoes, sliced
1 C Shredded Cheese of your choice, I used Colby Jack
1/2 C Mayo (the real stuff)
1/4 C Chopped Bacon
Italian Seasoning

After the crust is done lay sliced tomatoes on crust.  Sprinkle tomatoes with chopped bacon.  Mix mayo and shredded cheese together in a separate bowl.  Slather the top of the pie with the mayo mixture to evenly distribute. Sprinkle top with Italian seasoning.

Bake at 350 for 45 minutes.  Serve warm or chilled.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Savannah, Georgia Mother Daughter Weekend

For my mom's 60th birthday this year my sister and I surprised her with a mother daughter weekend in Savannah, Georgia.  She has always wanted to visit and I happen to love the town as it is at the heart of the south.  To inform her of her upcoming trip, I faked a letter from Paula Deen inviting her to visit her hometown.  The letter also informed her that she had reservations to eat at her restaurant, Lady & Son's on her actual birthday.

We flew into Atlanta and had about a 4 hour drive into Savannah.  Upon arriving, we decided to check out the the shopping areas while we waited for time to check in.  Public parking garages are pretty easy to find although the streets can be pretty congested with traffic at times.  Most people staying near River Street hotels find it easiest to park their car at the hotel and walk or taking public transportation (trolleys) everywhere.

We stayed at Hotel Indigo which was right next to City Market, central to everything.  Parking was only via valet but as I mentioned, everything was within walking distance... if you could stand the heat and humidity!  Our room was nice and the hotel was very pretty. The customer service wasn't so great though - we were originally given a key to a room that had not been cleaned yet that day ...

We ate at some nice places --

Pie Society - A British Bakery that had authentic Pastys and Sausage Rolls.  So good we actually ate there twice!

Tequila's Town - Mexican restaurant with some different dishes than I typically see on the menu at other Mexican places. It was good, not excellent, but good.

Gryphon Tea Room - ran by SCAD students was my absolute favorite place we ate.  The food was excellent as was the tea but the atmosphere was awesome.  Dining tables were set up in a library-like setting, with cases and shelves of books and antique furniture.  I had the Vanilla Lavendar Tea Latte and it was sooo good... even if it was hot tea in Savannah...

Lady & Son's  - Paula Deen's restaurant that serves southern home cookin.  This was my second visit and it didn't disappoint.  I personally liked the hoecakes and biscuits the best but I'm also not normally able to eat carbs so I took full advantage.  The sweet potatoes were really good and the fried chicken was perfect.

Leopold's Ice Cream - My sister waited in the hour long line to get some of this.  I only tasted a bite but it was really creamy and I can see why it was famous.

Wet Willies - technically a daquiri bar but also served food.  We only enjoyed the drinks but they were good... a little to sweet for me so I ended up not finishing my Monkey Shine & Pina Colada mix.

Paula Deen's Creek House - This one has a funny story.  By some dumb luck we stumbled onto this place on our way to Tybee Island on it's grand opening day.  We were seated immediately and joked it would be so funny if she was actually there for her grand opening and given the fact that we faked a letter from her to mom.  Guess what?  She was there!  So was most of her family.  And we got pics with her and my mom fan-girled out.  Paula was so sweet and wished my mom happy birthday.  It couldn't have worked out any better than if we would have planned it!  The food was excellent and I loved the pimento cheese appetizer... I have this thing for pimento cheese.

A Lowcountry Backyard - We found this place as we were pulling into Hilton Head, SC.  We made a day trip of it and drove 45 min north to check it out.  This place was #2 on my list but overall the best food that we ate.  Gryphon won for overall experience but this place had a grilled pimento cheese sandwich with bacon on flatbread... and it doesn't get much better than this.

You might be surprised that neither of the Paula Deen restaurants were my favorite... to be honest it is just reflective of how good the eats were on this trip.  Everything was so so good.

We actually did do more than just eat... if you can believe that.

We visited Wormsloe Historic Site which was so beautiful.  It would have been nice to be able to walk around but it was hot and I knew there were probably all kinds of snakes around... I saw a snake book a la bird seeker book and thought to myself, no way, no how.

We visited Bonaventure Cemetary.  I love this place. I could stay there all day... so beautiful and creepy all at the same time.  The epitome of southern gothic.

We did the Ghost and Gravestones trolley tour. I've done a different ghost tour on a prior visit and I thought this one was a bit hokey but I still had a good time.

We drove out to Tybee Island.  Some people just use golf carts to get around here.  I'd love to spend more time on this island, seems very laid back.

We did plenty of shopping.  Some our favorite places were: Savannah's Candy Kitchen... I ate a lot of pralines...The Spice & Tea Exchange, The Paris Market... my favorite shop in Savannah, Byrd's Famous Cookies and  Savannah Bee Company... all things made of honey.

On our way back to Atlanta we stopped at a little french restaurant with a bakery and gift shop attached.  I can't find the name of it now for the life of me but I really enjoyed the Croque Monsieur I had there as well.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Poulet a la Moutarde and Julia Child

It has been a month since I was in Paris.  And I have this strong desire to be there again, like I was meant to be there even belong there.  I have always been a bit obsessed with the French and apparently my visit to Paris has reignited that obsession.  

When talking about France, one can hardly dismiss the food.  Unfortunately the food isn't low carb and that has definitely hindered my weight loss over the last month.  That isn't to say that I haven't been back on keto for days at a time but then I come across a nice cheese and baguette at the store and I cave.  I so wish bread wasn't a carb...  

I have managed to make one fairly low carb french meal that I thought I would share with you. Poulet a la moutarde otherwise known as chicken in mustard sauce.  I am a big fan of chicken dishes with mustard so when I came across this recipe from Mon Petit Four I decided to give it a shot.  To be honest, I don't cook with wine often and was a bit concerned that my family would even like it.  The dish did not disappoint.  In fact, I didn't even have leftovers!  The flavors are rich yet mild and the the dish was simple to make.  A good dijon mustard like Maille is key to getting a good sauce flavor.  My local grocery store Dillons sells Maille so I was in luck.  Unfortuntately, there aren't many options for shopping for European groceries in Wichita or at least that I am aware of.  I am kicking myself for stocking up on some French essentials while I was there.  I am on the hunt for my next french recipe that I wish to try.  I've been thinking about getting the mother of all French cookbooks, Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child, just to give it a whirl.  There are actually plenty of meat and vegetable dishes which are low-carb, they just require me to step outside my obsession with pastries, crepes, and croque monsieurs (which I have also learned to make, yum!).  I am currently reading the autobiography of Julia Child, My Life in France.  I am loving it but then again I love France and I love Julia Child.  I've also seen/own the movie Julie and Julia which is a true celebration of French cuisine and Julia Child. 

This weekend I will be celebrating my 40th birthday.  My family and I will be heading to one of the only French restaurants we have in Wichita, Georges French Bistro.  I have been a fan of Georges since they opened and I can't wait to go back.  

I apologize for lack of photos this post, I did take some great photos of the chicken dish but lost them in transitioning to my new phone.  I'll try to grab some next time... and believe me, there will be a next time.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Boston - London - Paris Vacation Recap

Last weekend we returned from our family vacation (+ my mom: grandma) that started in Boston and included stops in London and Paris and I wanted share our adventure with you.


We started our trip with a day and a half stop off in Boston.  My cousin, Kari, and her wife and son joined us for a day at The Museum of Science.  We had a great day at the museum, which was really a pretty impressive place. There were many interactive exhibits that the kids enjoyed.  I thought the health area was the neatest.  I did manage to grab a lobster roll before leaving...

We left Boston at 10 PM and flew overnight to London.  This was a first for all of us to plan to sleep on a plane.  We flew in a 787 Dreamliner which I thought was pretty comfortable overall.  Since we traveled via carry-on backpacks, everything was easily accessible.  I managed to sleep off and on for a couple hours but it was definitely a long trip.  We arrived in London at 830 AM and quickly had to make our way to the London St. Pancras train station to catch the Eurostar to Paris at noon.  We took the Thameslink train to St. Pancras train station (about an hour ride) and made with with a hour or so to spare.  At this point, we were pretty exhausted.  We grabbed lunch/snacks at the Marks & Spencer gourmet food store and oh my goodness was this a cool place.  I *wish* we had M&S in the states.  We had pork pies, scones, pasta salad, crisps, pastries, and chocolates that we brought on to the Eurostar train for our two and a half hour ride to Paris.  At this point, we were all ready to eat and sleep.  In fact, I missed going through the tunnel under the English Channel because I was asleep.

We arrived in Paris around 4 PM and made our way to pick up the keys to our apartment.  It was about a mile walk to pick up the keys and then another short distance to get to the apartment.  Immediately, I felt immersed into the culture and way of life.  I would highly recommend staying in an apartment over a hotel in Paris as it gave us the opportunity to really experience life in Paris.  Our apartment was pretty small for the five of us though but we were so exhausted and ready for a nap, we hardly noticed.  Around 8 PM we ventured out to grab dinner.  We just walked until we found a place that sounded good.  We found a little restaurant/bar and immediately I had to turn on my french.  I was in an advanced french program in high-school and then I also took some french in college but I am still not fluent by any means.  I did find that a lot came back to me though and I was able to at least order for us and communicate and read the basics to get us around.  Our dinner was excellent - I had Croque Monsieur with a salad, the girls had burgers and fries (with mayo!), my mom had Risotto that she still is talking about and my husband had fish and chips... he's not all about french food....

The next morning we ventured out for breakfast and hit up a pastry shop.  Us girls on the trip basically lived for all the little pastry shops we encountered along the way.  Chocolate croissants and eclairs were a big hit with everyone.  We next made our way to the Eiffel Tower where we had already purchased tickets so we were able to walk right in opposed to waiting in the long line.  Good thing because there were long lines to get to the top of the tower.  It was slow moving but we eventually made it on a windy, chilly day.  It was an amazing view but we were pretty chilly so it was a brisk visit at the top.  After that we headed to grab some lunch and hit up a street vendor who was cooking fresh crepes.  We had ham and cheese crepes while sitting on the edge of the Seine River.  It felt like a movie moment.... After lunch we took a little cruise along the Seine River to see all the sites of Paris along the river.  There was so much to see and after standing at the Eiffel Tower for so long it was nice to take a break.  After we left the boat we hit up another street vendor selling waffles topped with nutella and strawberry... so so good.  On our way back to our hotel, we did some shopping.  We picked up little trinkets to remind ourselves of Paris.  We also stopped and grabbed a few groceries -- fresh baguette, brie, butter, grapes, apricots, and pear.  That evening we walked down the street from our hotel to another street vendor where we had sandwiches and savory crepes for dinner.

The following morning, we had breakfast at our apartment and then headed out for a day of exploring.  We started out at the Louvre which was amazing.  I could have spent a week there.  Knowing that we were limited on time, we prioritized the areas we wanted to see focusing on favorite artists and famous art pieces.  Seeing the Monet in person was a highlight for the girls, especially my little artist Penny.  She had decided she wants to be an Impressionist Painter and loves Claude Monet now.  We grabbed lunch at the Louvre and then headed out to explore more of Paris.  Shakespeare and Company has been a bucket list item for me forever and I wasn't about to leave Paris without making a visit.  Shakespeare and Company is a bookstore that is famous for housing many famous writers as they traveled through Paris -- Allen Ginsberg, William Burroughs, Richard Wright, and so forth.  Today it is one the biggest stops for book tours with many best selling authors stopping by for book signings.  Notre Dame is just across the street from Shakespeare and Company so we ventured over to check it out.  It is a beautiful building, far more intricate than in pictures.  Next we started heading back to our apartment but not before grabbing dinner at a little corner cafe called Sarah Bernhardt named after a famous french actress.

The next morning we had to get packed up to head to London back on the train.  We took the Eurostar back to London and this time I was awake going through the Chunnel.  Once we arrived back at the train station we did some shopping and grabbed another little gourmet lunch from Marks & Spencer.  If you do nothing else on a trip to London, you have got to check out a Mark & Spencer Food Store....  We went into Kings Cross train station and was able to visit Platform 93/4 from Harry Potter.  The girls were super excited and they have a pretty neat little store in the train station.  Next we headed to the flat that we had rented in South Kensington.  It was a big step up from our little Paris apartment with two big bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a large living room and modern kitchen.  The clean lines and style was perfect, I loved it.  We did have a pretty stressful trip on the tube getting to our hotel as people were packed on like sardines and I worried we wouldn't all be able to get off the train in time but we somehow managed.  After settling in we went to dinner and hit up an Italian restaurant just down the road.  Afterward we stopped by a little grocery store and grabbed some groceries for the next day.

The next morning we got up early and headed out on a chilly, rainy day for our tour taking us outside of London.  We started with a visit to Warwick Castle which was really neat.  We had about an hour to walk around and the girls really loved it.  It was a bit difficult at times due to the rain but we had our compact umbrellas with us so were able to get around ok.  Next we headed to Stratford upon Avon to visit the birth home of William Shakespeare.  It was amazing to me how well it and so much memorabilia had been maintained.  After our tour of the home we explored the town and fell in love with it.  I could absolutely move there.  We grabbed lunch from a sandwich shop (where I tried a Cornwall pastie - so good) and headed back to bus.  Next we went for a ride through the Cotswolds which was beautiful.  The grass was so green and lush and all the sheep and cottages made it feel like it was a out of a fairy tale.  We arrived in Oxford later in the afternoon and did a tour of Oxford University which was very interesting.  If had my way now, I would just move to the UK and go to Oxford instead of work... we also made a stop past The Eagle and Child Pub where JRR Tolkein and CS Lewis writer's group used to meet.  Upon leaving Oxford, we got news that there was a terrorist attack in London so we were a bit nervous as to what this meant for our trip.  The tube station was shut down in some places. Luckily we were able to get to a stop not far from South Kensington.  By that time though, we had been getting phone calls and text messages of people asking if we were ok.  It was our luck to have decided to do the tour outside of London that day instead of the tour of London that was planned the following day or we could have been at Parliament when it happened.  That evening we went to a local hamburger joint and then called it a day.

The next day we set out to explore London.  We purchased a pass that gave us access via bus all around the city.  Of course, due to the terrorist attack the prior day, many things were closed off but we made the best of the day that we could.  We started out at 221B Baker Street famous by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes.  We did some shopping and I thought it was a really cool place.  Next door was a Beatles store and we spent most of our souvenir money here... what can I say, even my kids are Beatles nuts... Grandma is too.  We had lunch at the Sherlock Holmes cafe where I got some fish and chips as customary to do in the UK.  Next we took a tour around the city for awhile seeing the London Eye, Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square, etc.  We stopped at the London Bridge and Tower of London for a bit.  It was still very windy and cold so it was hard to stay outside very long.  Traffic was especially bad due to part of the city being shut down and all the reporters who were there to cover the attack.  I never thought in a million years we would be so close to a terrorist attack.  I intentionally held back telling the girls until we were ending our time there because I didn't want them to be afraid.  The city was still very positive though.  In Trafalgar Square, there were artist doing drawings about peace and no fear.  There was a guitar player singing John Lennon's "Imagine" and "Let It Be."  If anything, this is an experience I will never forget and I was really moved to see how the city came out and came together.  On our way back to our flat, we grabbed dinner at an Indian restaurant.  All of my IT friends always rave to me that London has the best curry so I had to find out for myself as a curry-lover.  Indeed, it was all wonderful.  My girls, who can be a bit finicky, also liked it.

The last day, we made our way back to the airport.  Other than a brief panic over a cancelled train, we were able to get back to the airport with plenty of time.  Going through Security was a bit overwhelming with the attack but security there was very kind compared to the US TSA.  All of our bags were searched and swabbed.  It took us about half an hour to get everyone together and ready to get go to our terminal.  We left London at 4 PM and made it back to Boston at 7 PM on the same plane we came in on.

Overall, this was an amazing trip with a lot of activity but such a positive experience.  I would love to go again and hope to do so in the not so distant future. We loved backpacking and it is now our preferred method of travel, I plan to do a separate post soon on how we pulled it off.

Now I return to back to seeking and plotting out my next European adventure...

"Why, then the world's mine oyster" -- Shakespeare, The Merry Wives of Winsor

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Spring is coming

I'm ready for a season change.  Not that we've had terrible winter weather in the Midwest but it has been overcast for months now and I am ready for spring to arrive. I've definitely been short on motivation although my creativity has been flowing freely.  I thought I would just share what I've been into lately...

Cross stitch - I have a new addiction.  In fact, I spent most evenings working on different projects.  I started with a Last Unicorn pattern that I love and then quickly moved on to other projects including learning to make my own patterns.  Etsy has been my favorite spot to shop for new patterns but making patterns is fun for personalizing items.  I recently made this portrait of my cousins and I for my Grandmother for her birthday. I both designed and stitched it.

Paper flowers - I have also been working on making a large bouquet of paper flowers.  I am a bit of a paper collector and it has been fun to learn how to cut, fold, and mold different shapes from paper.

Books - I have started too many books to name but have struggled to get into anything lately.  The last book I finished was in December, it was Everything That Rises Must Converge: Stories by Flannery O'Connor.  I loved it as I love all things by Flannery O'Connor but since Dec, I've just been stuck. My attention span hasn't been there.  I did recently buy My Best Friend's Exorcism by Grady Hendrix so am hopeful that it will grab my attention and throw me back into reading again.

Television & Movies - what can I say.  It is easy to stitch and watch tv so I have been doing a lot of that.  It doesn't hurt that there is a lot on right now that I am into.  The Walking Dead picked back up last month and I am still crazy for the show.  A new show called Riverdale started last month as well and I am really enjoying it.  I always loved the Archie comics growing up and this show is based on the newer, darker Archie comics.  Jughead was and still is my favorite. Girls on HBO has been a favorite for awhile - love Lena Dunham and her character.  This Is Us was a show I knew I would love from the previews that came out months in advance.  It has some of the best writing for a television show ever.  I admit, I get a good weekly cry from this show - and Randall is my favorite. And then there are plenty of what I consider cotton candy shows - The Voice, a slew of MTV shows, and all the Investigation Discovery I can fit in.  As far as movies go, we did go see Hidden Figures as a family.  I loved Hidden Figures and highly recommend it to everyone.  I also rented Edge of Seventeen one evening and thought it was cute.  I realize that I will always love all things aimed at teen girls.... oh well.

Unicorns, Lisa Frank, and other colorful things - Speaking of teen girls, my love for all things Lisa Frank is strong going back to the early 80's.  I have really rekindle my love for these things through sharing it with my daughters.  Lisa Frank and Glamour Dolls recently launched a Kickstarter collab for cruelty-free Lisa Frank makeup!  I was the 24th backer so I am not only getting the Lisa Frank makeup collection but also am getting something from the Lisa Frank vault!  I'm most excited about that. We also went to a store party here called Happy Puppy, Sparkly Kitty, Rainbow Unicorn Party.  It was all about the colorful animal stuff.  And my youngest has gotten into baking and loves making colorful treats.  I have started a Pinterest board just for this as we discover things she could make.  She's also already planning her 10th Birthday party and going with the Unicorn theme and I'm not complaining. I actually love that all this stuff I loved as a kid is back "in."

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

It's Tough

It's tough to find the desire to blog lately.  I seem to waiver back and forth between feeling depressed and anxious all the time.  I'm completely distracted with worry about what is coming next for myself, my friends, and my family under the dictator that is acting as president.

Hopefully I'll figure out how to get back to enjoying things again and find something to share soon.

In the meantime, I'm contacting my senators and emailing Grab Your Wallet companies I will no longer purchase from to remove myself from mailing lists and deleting my online accounts with them.

Fun times.