How many times do you have to repeat something before it becomes a tradition? If the answer is three, I can tell you with confidence that Sunday dinner and I are officially besties.
It started the day before St. Patrick's Day, give or take six years, which is when I first started thinking that a married woman on the cusp of motherhood should perhaps know how to create dishes that did not feature toast, reindeer food or spinach dip as the main course.
Anyway, this year, this month, this day before St. Patrick's Day, just felt right. I was two months into a new job at this point (more on that later) and finally had the mental energy to tackle a new skill. I wanted to give Luke a break from the stove at least one day a week, and I needed to show my kids that I could do more in the kitchen than pour milk and wash dishes.
So on March 16, I made chicken, pesto and pasta. It was pretty good, though even with a whole jar of pesto the flavor was still relatively mild. Nathan was my helper, and everyone gobbled it up. Julia Child, right here.
Last Sunday, I was still living on the high of my previous culinary success and decided to shake things up a bit: ratatouille with black beans.
This was Luke's favorite dish, hands down, but Kara and Nathan both complained about the eggplant. At their age I couldn't stomach eggs, so the fact they even tried it earns them an A in my book.
Which brings us to tonight's extravaganza: mushroom and broccoli stir fry, which actually had lots of other veggies in it, so I'm not sure why they were left out, and chicken because I'm adventurous like that.
I was pretty happy with this one, even though my "who needs measuring spoons when I can just shake stuff directly into the skillet" approach led me to overdo it a bit with the red pepper. At one point Kara exclaimed, "My lips are burning!" and proceeded to drink four glasses of milk. It was too hot for the older two to finish, but as always, they were very encouraging and said I should totally make it again, without the red flakes.
"Are you feeling more comfortable in the kitchen now, Momma?" Kara asked at the end of the meal. It was a thoughtful question for a six-year-old, I think, and a smart observation - her understanding that I was on new territory.
"I do, honey," I said. "I love cooking for you all."
Sunday dinner isn't the only thing I've been cooking up this year.
After almost a year and a half into my return to education, I took a new job that smashed my comfort zone into a million pieces. New industry (financial services), narrowed focus (HR communications), completely foreign corporate structure (bigger, more administrative layers and overall more conservative). I spent the first few weeks practicing deep Lamaze breathing, but I've settled into a nice rhythm now and it's all good. Whether it lasts six years or six months, this job is great for me today, right now. Shorter commute, excellent downtown location, and a chance to build and carry out my own strategic plan. I'm proud of myself for getting up to speed so quickly and putting the small stuff into perspective.
Luke and the kids had lunch with me at my work cafeteria for the first time last week.
Oh you guys, it's been too long! So much to say - let's see how much ground we can cover with bullet points.
- Reading: I clocked in at 16 books last year and joined a local reading...movement...? here in Indy called #Ready26Indy. I've got five books under my belt so far, but that's only because I've finally embraced audio books. Why didn't I hop on this train earlier? Also, "The Hunger Games." OH MY GOSH YOU GUYS.
- Phoning: Last month I rejoined the smartphone community after almost a year off the grid. I'm swearing off Twitter and Facebook apps for now, and my favorite part has been using all the cool emoticons for texting with sisters.
- Exercising: Since last fall, I've been working out a couple of times at week at the local rec center with a fellow townie I met at my last job. Two days isn't enough, but it's better than zero days!
- Freelancing: Last summer I opened myself up to freelance work and finished a couple of big projects by the end of the year. I've got an ongoing side project in the works right now, and I could be even busier if I wanted, to the point that going out on my own in a couple of years doesn't seem as far-fetched as it once did, but I'm not completely sold on it, either. Expect many blog posts regarding my indecision in the near future.
- Word of the year: I hemmed and hawwed over this forever, but sometime in February I landed on steady. I've been pretty good at shaking things up the last two years, but now I hope to make quieter changes that encourage better habits. (Aka, please don't ask me about my book.) I like where I'm headed these days, but the path, it is long, and there are many more miles to go.
My new company is the title sponsor for the Mini-Marathon (yes, that Mini). Here I am volunteering at the 10k training race.
So much to say, so little time. I won't make any promises about my next entry, but maybe if I tell you three months, it'll actually be three days. Reverse psychology, work your magic!