Sunday, December 31, 2017

Make-Ahead Fajita Chicken & Rice

One of our financial goals this new year is to spend less money on eating out, and to focus on making more of our own food. So for Christmas, I got Mark a week's worth of microwaveable glass containers for him to pack his lunch each day for work.

And today to get him started, I whipped up some Fajita Chicken & Rice.
I thought I'd write down the recipe in case he likes it and one of us decides to make this little kitchen experiment again. Here are the ingredients:

1 lb. boneless/skinless chicken tenders
Weber chipotle marinade
3/4 cup white rice
3/4 cup Uncle Ben's Spanish rice
1 can black beans
1/2 red onion
1 red bell pepper
1 green bell pepper
2 limes, cut into quarters

Marinate 1 lb. boneless/skinless chicken tenders in about 1/4 pack of Weber Chipotle marinade (mixed according to package directions, adjusting for amount used).
In a rice cooker, add:
3/4 cup white rice
3/4 cup Uncle Ben's Spanish rice
2 cups water
When the rice is cooked, add:
1 can black beans, drained

Meanwhile, chop into thin strips:
1/2 red onion
1 red bell pepper
1 green bell pepper

In a saucepan with olive oil, cook vegetables until slightly charred, about 5 minutes. Set aside. Then cook chicken until cooked through.

Arrange rice & beans mixture, then the veggies, in the large section of the dish, and 2 chicken tenders with lime wedges in the small section of the dish.
Beans and rice, rice and beans... here's to a fresh start that's as healthy on the waist as it is on the wallet.

15th anniversary & marriage

Today, a few thoughts on marriage.

Because I get kind of mushy when I think about this man that I get to spend my life with, and all the ways he's changed my life for the good and makes me a better person.
I was reflecting the other day on my walk about the many blessings in my life, and you know what? 
He's the greatest one of all.

The kids too, but let's be fair... they wouldn't exist without this man. The one who works so hard to provide for us, yet still makes plenty of time for us. (He holds true to the adage, "Never spend so much time making a living that you forget to make a life.") The one who goes to work at an ungodly hour in the morning, so he can be home early in the evenings to help with homework and sit around the table for family suppers and the "thimble game" and cards. The man who brings home the bacon, so I can sprinkle my little bacon bits into our "travel fund" and have lots of dedicated time to raise our kids while they're still young. The dad who the kids look up to with stars in their eyes, who cooks "Gryffy's Favorite Fried Rice" and checks on their Saturday chores and helps to plan our weekly Family Night. 

(We're sure working on a consistent Date Night in 2018 too, a goal we agreed on at our anniversary dinner last night while slurping oysters.)

The one who, despite his preference for relaxing at the beach like a monk seal and soaking in the rays with nary a care, acquiesces to my wild and complicated adventures and parenting philosophy of exploring the world with kids to broaden their horizons and build up some glistening family memories.

(And boy, do the kids' eyes ever glisten as they recall, daily, these gilded adventures: "Remember that time I picked up that jellyfish on the beach in Denmark?" -Gryffy, just yesterday)
He is my anchor. My partner. My soul mate. 

All this I know, but I don't prioritize marriage like I should. Sometimes it gets elbowed out by all the demands of school and parenting. Our family is a huge priority for us, which is why I feel so convicted about making our marriage an even bigger priority. Strong marriage=strong family. We still need to date each other. We need weekly time to just be together, one-on-one. It could be as simple as a coffee at Caribou, but we're going to make it happen this year. 

So, here's to dating my husband more in 2018, and making him the priority he should be.
Happy Anniversary, Hubsley. What an incredible 15 years! I love you fiercely and count every day with you a true, God-given blessing.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Christmas 2017

Christmas morning arrived with not too many presents beneath the tree, but a big inflatable palm tree and the sounds of Mele Kalikimaka...
After the kids woke and dutifully began caroling on the stairs...
... until the Baby Jesus arrived in the manger on the landing, watched over by Domino.
The race downstairs began!

The kids thought the leis were for a trip with neighbors to Coco Key, which was one of their gifts... but there were more surprises to come. :)
Lorelei got some nighttime curlers, a salon appointment to dye strands of her hair purple and pink, some pajamas, wheely-shoes and some books.

Gryffy got some wheely-shoes, nerf guns...
... and a leather jacket, which he's been begging for for ages. (I think he saw one on Stranger Things.)

And then came the PowerPoint Presentation outlining our philosophy about spending money on experiences--time together that weaves fond memories into the fabric of "us"--rather than material things... and a few BIG surprises to boot!

The kids were pretty excited as the presentation built...

The kids were more excited about Spring Break with the neighbors than anything else. The Pueblo Bonito Emerald Bay was our first big family vacation, when we fell in love with spending time unplugged together. We didn't think we could pull it off this Spring Break and had gotten cold feet when our neighbors were ready to book, but later found a deal that was too good to refuse!

Mark and I opted to bundle up our Christmas, 15th anniversary and birthday presents into these 2018 trips to Mexico, Hawaii, China, Cambodia & Thailand (whew!)... but I did get him a much-needed suitcase. :)

Merry Christmas, 2017! And God bless us with health, love and many grand adventures, everyone!