Every week I try to pull out my crock pot because, well; I like easy.
This pulled pork recipe from The Pioneer Woman is super easy and flavorful.
She makes hers in the oven but I’ve found that most anything you can slow cook in the oven turns out even better in a crock pot.
Here’s what you need:
A 2-3 lb pork butt or shoulder
A can of chipotle chillies in adobo sauce
2 cans of Dr Pepper
And for easy sake, if you don’t use slow cooker liners when you’re using your crock pot, you’re doing it wrong.
Also, two tablespoons of brown sugar were sprinkled on top of the pork when I put it in the crock pot.
Cover the pork butt in chipotle sauce. This can get spicy and my kids are wimps so I used about 1/2- 3/4 of the can.
Dump in the two cans of dr pepper and walk away for 3 hours.
Then flip it over and walk away again.
After about 6 hours in the crock pot, you’ll have an ugly looking pork butt and a dark brown sauce.
This is awesome for parties and if you like leftovers. You can feed a crowd for cheap. And it’s awesome.
We serve these as pulled pork sliders on these amazing little Hawaiin rolls that the girls love.
David adds bbq sauce and you can add cheese and pickles if you were so inclined. Not here though. Pickle is a dirty word to my kids.
There ya go! A super easy crockpot recipe that makes a ton of food. A few of my favorite things.
My girls are athletes. Both of them. And while it’s been a while since I myself was an athlete, I still remember how much I loved it.
My girls weren’t always athletes. They’ve always loved to run and play and enjoy playing with friends, but they’d never been part of a team until we moved to California.
We heard about a soccer program there that “all the kids play”, spent a ton of money to get them registered and bought all the right gear. We showed up at the first practices, not knowing what to expect. And they both fell in love.
They ran, they laughed, they sweated, and they learned the sport. I played soccer so watching them play I knew enough to tell them what to do when they had questions and David’s a wonderful coach and smart enough at most things to be able to teach them and guide them and made me fall in love with him all over again watching him help our girls in the backyard with drills.
And the other parents on the team? I have a confession to make. I fell in love with them as well. We shared stories and laughs and spent countless hours on the sidelines watching our girls bond on the field, while we bonded off.
Charlottes coach had played college soccer and was goalie and was good enough in her field that if you google her, you’d be able to see how amazing she was. Her team had a few natural athletes but a few standouts who helped them win most games. We brought each other coffee and dropped kids off and picked others up quickly became part of a soccer family. And this happened on Emilys team as well. We found two soccer families and for a while there, every weekend was all about soccer. For two years in the fall, with both girls, this was the norm. Early to bed on Fridays and early to rise on Saturday for games and who was snack mom and can you drop off and I pick up and Go Emily! Go Charlotte! Go Olivia and Brooke! We cheered for each other and cried when girls who had struggled scored goals, and cried again at the end of the season when Emilys team took home the championship game trophy.
And then we moved to Texas and are playing soccer here now. The girls are on teams and they try hard and play well and the other parents are slowly growing on me. They haven’t won a game yet and have lost with scores that make me sad to think about for them.
But this morning, at 8:30, as I walked across a full parking lot that was in the middle of 16 soccer fields, I listened for a moment to what was going on around me.
And I was struck by a line in a movie that I love called ‘love actually’. You know the part where he says as the narrator when they’re all at the airport ‘love actually is, all around you’? I could hear the love. I heard moms and dads and sisters and aunts and uncles cheering for their kids and whooping in excitement when they scored and consoling the team that was scored upon. I heard my own little one yelling for her sister ‘you can do it Emily!’ And ‘Go Riley! Nice Stop’ all at the same time.
And it made me think of how much love there is on a soccer field every weekend morning, at every practice, at every drop off and pick up and every time another mom helps out a team by slicing up oranges for the girls to have a little more energy at halftime and when you hear another mom cheer for your daughter, how it makes your heart smile, as cheesy as that sounds.
And then I texted a few friends whose sons have a game tomorrow that we are going to go see and she was worried about a kid on the team and cheering on another mom who was worried about her own son. And another friend is 3 hours away at a tourney for her son and is gone most weekends for him. And this was baseball, not soccer. I know their lives are consumed with the sport for months on end and take the sports family thing to a whole other level. But I’ll never mock them for it. Because I get it.
Love is actually, all around you on a sports field.
Today I was lucky enough to be able to just stop for a second and notice it in a parking lot in the middle of Texas.
A few weeks ago, my sister Katie was diagnosed with breast cancer. She had been to the doctor in January for a mammogram and had a clean bill of health. Then, a few weeks ago; she found a lump. So she went back to the doctor and the dr said those words that no one should ever hear. You have cancer. The C word.
She’d gotten insurance through obamacare the day before her appointment, and was cleared for surgery. Her surgery went off without a hitch and we all let out a sigh of relief; a breath was exhaled that I hadn’t realized I’d been holding in.
And then, today; her husband called me. And I drew my breath in again and won’t let it out for weeks. They didn’t get all of the cancer. It wasn’t stage 2, it was actually more aggressive than they thought and she needs another surgery. And she’ll need chemo and radiation.
And you know what I need? I need my sister. The fierce one. The protector. The one who protected me when I was a little kid on the playground with a lisp who was picked on. The one who went to the school and pulled the little boy named Ethan off the playground and threatened to beat him up if he ever made fun of me again. And again, she was there when I was 12 and the bitches in Connecticut wrote me a note that I was too skinny and my chin was super pointy and made me cry.
And then again she was there when my mother went over the deep end. Even though she had a new baby and was just a teenager herself, she never hesitated when I asked her if maybe I could move in with her, instead of living with mom anymore? She said yes and we found a way to make it work. I need the sister who makes me wet my pants with her dirty jokes and terrible awful sense of humor that makes mine seem tame in comparison. The sister who makes people uncomfortable when she tells people stories about my sex life. Wait, ok, mainly she makes me uncomfortable with it, but I digress.
I need to run my fingers through the long mane that is and always has been, her claim to fame. Even when we make fun of her for it and tell her she’s stuck in the 80’s. Her hair is gorgeous damnit and if she doesn’t want to cut it, why should she? I need the sister who named her tumor Marla, based upon the movie Fight Club, so we could say things like ‘fuck you, Marla!’ and no one would know what we meant but us. I need the sister who went through a hard time about ten years ago when she was under a Maureen influence but never let it kill her spirit.
I need for my sister to be ok. I need for Marla to go away and never come back. And I know it’s often said and joked about but tonight, I say in my most honest voice ‘Fuck cancer. And fuck you, Marla’.
Guess who’s back? It’s meeeee! I know I’m on Facebook and I’ve been seeing a few of you and face timing with others and am basically always around, but I just wanted to throw out a few updates.
We are unpacked! Woohoo! I can’t believe it, but we have our new house in Texas completely unpacked. Except for the stuff that Charlotte has shoved under her bed in an effort to make me think we are all unpacked. But if you ask me, yes, we are unpacked.
We spent the weekend painting Emily’s room, with a color that I stole from the most stylish woman I know, my sister-in-law Sarah. She is so happy to have her own room done in the color she wants! She says it’s finally beginning to feel like home, and I agree. We are still working on getting her a new queen size bed and new bedding, etc sometime soon. So many projects at once!
The house is coming along! So far, two rooms are just about finished so those are the rooms you get to see.
I’d eventually like to put hardwood floors in the whole house but David keeps mentioning something about money and budgeting and boring stuff like that. Sigh. But someday! Here’s the front hall and a pic of the dining room.
I am happy to say that we hosted our first dinner party a few weeks ago to celebrate David’s birthday and it was wonderful! We were so happy to be able to sit in our own dining room, and to be able to use our own China and stem-ware, etc,. surrounded by friends that we adore. And even when my bestie dumped a glass of red wine on the couch, we didn’t care! Life’s too short to worry about wine stains when you’re having fun, right?
So what have we been doing since we’ve been back? We’ve been melting! Texas is hot! We’ve been swimming and hanging with friends and visiting with family and then spending more time with friends. We were able to see my niece and nephew in Austin a few weeks ago for my niece’s 2nd birthday. We also had a chance to visit David’s dad. He’s not doing great but is as good as can be expected so it’s nice that he’s close enough to visit. And I always love spending time with Drew and Sarah.
And have I mentioned that we missed our friends? We’ve gone on double dates and triple dates and movies and have seen them every weekend since we’ve been home. And we aren’t sick of each other yet! We are very happy to have been able to jump back into the middle of our friendships right where we left off. If moving overseas teaches you anything, it teaches you who your friends are. And I don’t mean that in a bitchy way. I mean it in the way it’s intended. I’ve honestly learned what kind of people I need in my life. What kind of couples we need to spend time with, to have the strongest marriage possible. I know when I need a girl date for a glass of wine or when I need to play mah-jong and sit around and laugh about nothing and everything. And when we want to play bingo at the vfw and drink dollar beer? We know who to call. When I need a fancy dinner in town? I’ve got friends for that as well. I know I’ve always been a pretty good judge of character, but choosing this group of friends 17 years ago was the best thing that I could have ever done for myself.
Ok, enough about that. So, what’s next? More house stuff! We are working on the yard, moving trees, removing bushes, planting herbs, etc. David built me a new Jasmine trellis, which I am thrilled with! He does this in every house we live in and it’s always the best part of our yard. It’s still 98 here during the day so we do outdoor work in the evenings.
We are looking for more paint colors and new bedding and a new sofa for the living room, etc. We need paint for our room, for Charlotte’s, etc. We are slowly but surely making this a Nora house. Which for anyone who’s ever been to my house means a painting on every wall, with colors and fabrics and pillows and rugs everywhere. My style is what’s been known as Shabby Chic meets Martha Stewart meets an Indonesian swap meet. And I’m totally fine with that. We are taking it slow and making choices that we are content with. Nothing is rushed, which for us living on the go for 4 1/2 years is so comforting. There’s no hurry. We aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.
How’s David, you ask? He’s amazing. He has spent the past few weeks working on his new company! After 10 year of working for other home inspectors, we are so excited about this new venture! He should be up and running in a few weeks and we are very excited and nervous but mostly excited. A few years ago our best friends bravely branched out and started their own company and have never been happier. With their emotional support and David’s fantastic skill-set, him owning his own business is a no brainer. And ya’ll know I’m in sales so I will of course be helping him from behind the scenes on marketing, etc. You know what I always say; behind every successful man is a pushy woman…
So, that’s it! We are basically just hanging out and laying low. Spending time with family and friends and enjoying being “home”. We’ve been back for just about two months and while we have a lot of work to do on the house (and hopefully a pool to put in this winter!), we are finally, without a doubt “home”.
Such a fun morning with my girls! After I made them clean the house for two agonizing hours (half the time they hid from me) we decided to open the windows, and make some pasta from scratch!
It’s a lot easier than you’d think and so much fun. Best of all? You only need two ingredients! Eggs and flour.
I used this basic recipe and a great pasta maker that was a gift from a friend in Singapore.
It took about 40 minutes but it’s always such a fun thing to do with the girls that it’s worth the time it takes.
And excuse my makeshift pasta dryer of chairs on the table covered in dish towels. We are obviously super fancy.
I’m a full time and then some, working mom. Who sometimes wishes she could be a stay at home mom. Not really, but sometimes. Like when I’m leaving work and want to come home to a fully cooked dinner with the house sparking clean and the kids bathed and homework done and everyone in an amazing mood. But the actuality of my life is a lot different than the romanticized version I mentioned above. I’ve got an amazing husband who does more than his share of housework and cleaning and cooking, but I’m also a control freak and want to be in charge. I’m super fun to live with.
The acuality is, I leave work between 5:15 and 5:30, after a day on the phone and surrounded by coworkers that I love but also want to murder. Ok, not murder, but sometimes I fantasize about telling them how I really feel and that’s always a bad thing for a Nora. But, I digress.
I leave work and head home and I used to think “what’s for dinner that’s not pasta with frozen meatballs and green beans and that’ll take 15 minutes to cook so that the kids aren’t starving and fighting while I’m staring into an empty fridge trying to figure out why I don’t have any food to eat except cheese” . And I’d be stumped while I ate cheese. And then I’d spend 40 bucks picking up something that was marginally good, or a rotisserie chicken and mashed potatoes or something easy. And I knew I was better that that. I just needed a plan.
As I was perusing Pinterest one weekend, I came across a post about meal planning. And it looked complicated. She had it down to an exact science and to the penny as far as what each meal cost. I’m not that girl. So I skipped it and did it my own way, as I often do. I just wanted something to make my life easier, and I think I found it. I sat down and literally wrote down the top 15 dinners my family loved. And realized we eat a lot of the same types of foods. But in different ways. I bought a two dollar dry erase board, and I planned meals for a whole week. This was a year ago and it’s been life changing.
I now use Costco and this board to plan meals for a week. Or three. I buy things I know we will use in bulk. We eat a lot of fish and chicken and I use my crock pot usually twice a week…but I’m in love with my own version of a plan. I don’t do a month at a time and now when I plan for pasta and meatballs, it’s not as a last minute thing and my kids look forward to it. They’re always looking to the meal menu for what’s for dinner and it’s such a relief to not have to stress every day over what’s for dinner.
A few things I use all the time at Costco that we always have on hand? Salmon and their pre-shredded rotisserie chicken meat. I use this stuff in everything. It’s ten dollars for a huge bag of cooked meat that I just divide into three baggies in the freezer. I use it for tacos, soups, enchiladas, Thai food, everything. So good and such a find. I used to buy the whole chicken and shred it for enchilada soup or gumbo. Not anymore!
I also love their salmon. I cut it into three giant pieces and throw it in the freezer as well. I thaw it the morning I want to use it, sprinkle it in old bay, sear it in my cast iron skillet with a little olive oil and then flip it and throw it in the oven for ten minutes. This is a family favorite. And while this ones a little more expensive and will run us about 30 dollars for a big piece, I figure it’s split over three dinners and still a great dinner. We serve this with Brussels sprouts and rice and it’s a family fav.
Sure, there are days when we skip the menu and do our own thing or sometimes we change it up if we are in the mood for one thing over another, but on those weeks that are now few and far between, when I fail to plan a menu, I start thinking about the dreaded “what’s for dinner” question about 2pm.
My question to you of course, is what are a few of the ways that you save yourself a headache when it comes to family dinner time?
I’m almost 40. As in, this is the year I turn 40. May 2, to be exact. It’s still 5 months away. Ok, 4 1/2 if you get technical. But when you’re about to turn 40, it’s expected that you have something phenomenal planned in your head that will help you overcome this momentous occasion and take away the potential pain that turning 40 brings with it.
But here’s the thing. (You knew there was a thing, right?) I don’t care about turning 40. Sure, when I’m reading People magazine and see a list of “Who’s hot at 40” I always compare myself to them, but honestly I wasn’t really in Gywneth Paltrow shape before I was 40, so why care now?
I’ve got a pretty good life and am quite happy and sometimes when repeating stories of my youth, pleasantly surprised that I’ve made it this far. I’ve already traveled all over the world, so there’s not this urge to say “I have to go to Paris by the time I turn 40!” Although there’s always a piece of me that wants to go to Paris…ahhh…bread and mustard and soup. And cheese…But, I digress. Let’s just say that I’ve seen some stuff and don’t have the need to go anywhere this year.
My friends have started texting and emailing asking about trips and such and asking what did I have planned? Seriously, I have nothing spectacular that pops into my head. Sure, I’d love a weekend at a friends farm or my family’s ranch in Texas but don’t want to spend the money when we’re saving for other things. And yes, a weekend in the wine country is always nice but we don’t have family here to watch kids to make it easy. And I like spending birthdays with my kids, since they’re pretty much my life.
And then I read an article about a woman who donated 40 sleeping bags to homeless people in her city for her 40th birthday and what a great experience it was for her. And it got me thinking. And you all know how I love thinking.
So, here’s the deal. This year for my 40th birthday, I want nothing. Well, I want nothing in the form of a gift. I do want something, though. From 40 of you, anyway.
For my 40th birthday, I want 40 of my friends to each commit to donating $40, to a charity that is close to my heart. http://www.gofundme.com/jy0qrs
Covenant House. For many complicated reasons that I won’t get into now, when I was 15, my sister and I were homeless for a week in Southern Florida. They have locations all over the US, not just in Florida. Covenant House is a place where teenagers who need a place to go can find a hot meal, a warm bed and someone to listen to them and hear them about what’s happening that’s brought them to where they are.
They helped us get back to family within a few days with warm smiles and kind hearts. While we were there we met a few kids who’d been there for months. There were some who’d had substance abuse issues and others who’d been mistreated by parents, etc. But it was a sanctuary. And I’ll be forever grateful that when we needed a place to gather our bearings and stay safe, we were able to find Covenant House. Not all teenagers are so lucky.
So, is there are 40 of you who would step up and let me know if you’ll be able to contribute, we have some time to work on this.
My Birthday isn’t until May 2 and I would love to be able to take our donations to them on my birthday. Even if I only raise 40 bucks, it will be worth it. But if I were able to donate 40 donations of 40, it would be spectacular.
**Due to the repsonse to my request, I am truly humbled to have set up an account with gofundme. You can donate to me right here and I’ll take them a check on my birthday. Much love to all.