Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Gather your bottled water & canned goods...

Hey, everyone!  Hope you guys had a GREAT Labor day weekend!  Can you even BELIEVE it's SEPTEMBER??  It doesn't even seem possible.  But what seems even MORE impossible...and I can't even believe I'm about to type this words but...sigh...here goes:  I'm not sure if even I was ready.  Yes, I- who yearns for Fall the first moment I start putting away my Christmas decorations could have used...hmmmm...maybe about 3 more weeks of the summer stuff.  I know, I know...gather all your supplies for your apocalypse bunker now, because that's the only real explanation for this insanity.

Well...that or:
  1. As I've said (a million + 1 times), the weather was REALLY not too shabby this August.  Lots of sunny skies & low humidity.
  2. Katie's summer clothes were absurdly adorable this year (although they sorta are for every season...in a week or so she'll be a vision in various shades of orangeJ)
  3. Katie LOVEEEEEEEED the beach.  Like, REALLY LOVED.  She was just happy runnin around, chasing seagulls all day.  I think I went to the beach more times in the last 3 weeks than I've been in the last 3 years COMBINEDJ  It was just such a nice thing to do to keep her busy and REALLY, REALLY HAPPYJ
And thankfully, the skies parted on Friday and my friend & I were able to sneak one more trip down to keep these little peanuts busyJ  Here's one of the three seconds Katie actually sat still all dayJ  Glad I caught it on camera...hahahahahhahaa....

And ya wanna hear the sad part??  So once Saturday came around and it was going to be a celebration of ALL THINGS FALL...the 'lovely weather' turned into ALL THINGS SUMMER and was SOO gross and unpleasant for the rest of the weekend.  HOT & SUPPPPPPER HUMID, the weather where you walk outside and immediately go "UGH!" (or maybe that's just me!)

 But I tried...I mean, REALLY tried to keep the Fall theme going throughout the day, starting with crakin open this bad bear...

...and starting the morning off with some pumpkin oatmealJ 
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/4 cup dry oats
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • lots of cinnamon & pumpkin pie spice!
I also dressed up Katie in her most festive Football gear to help Daddy kick off one of his favorite days of the year:  opening day for Michigan college footballJ

I also ATTEMPTED to put away the summer decor and break all of the pumpkins & mini bales of hay out of hiding...except that the decorations are UPSTAIRS in our cape house...which does not have air conditioning and felt like the middle of JULY.  Not very Fall festive.  I got THIS far before calling it a day...
 (Maybe I'll get back to it on Friday when the high is supposed to be 76!)

Well, that and the 2 pumpkins I snuck in the basement while Katie was napping...which she noticed in .3 seconds and thought they were her new toysJ  
Oh well...thank goodness they're non-breakableJ  Not to self:  NO GLASS DECORATIONS THIS YEAR!

We also had a VERY "Football Fall" dinner brewing all day.  I made Scott surf my Pinterest board for his pick of "football food" and he chose this awesome slow cooker Cheesy Cowboy Casserole...
The "hardest part" was browning up the ground beef...and the rest you just tossed in the slow cooker!
  • 1 diced onion
  • 2 diced potatoes
  • 1 can cheddar cheese soup
  • 1 can corn, drained
  • 1 can diced tomatoes (with liquid)
  • 1 can kidney beans (drained & rinsed)
  • salt & pepper
Set this on high for about 4 hours (or low 6-7 hours), sprinkle shredded cheddar the last 1/2 hour of cooking and WALLAH!
Talk about COZY & HEARTY...oh yeah, and "MAN FOOD."  So many bites of this were followed up with "Oh my God, that is just SO GOOD!"  In the words of Scott: "Meat. Cheese. Potatoes...how bad could it be?"
The only thing that would have made it better were some BRISK TEMPS to go along with itJ  Oh well...soon, I'm sureJ

And while the cheesy casserole hit your nose as soon as you walked into the kitchen, the OTHER side of the kitchen met you with something even BETTER!  Cinnamon & sugar fairies to be preciseJ
Since I had cracked open that JUMBO can of pumpkin for breakfast, I figured a pumpkin-laced dessert was just the ticket to help make a bit of a dent in said canJ  And Scott & I both agreed that nothing sounded better than PUMPKIN BREAD PUDDING!

In a bowl, I added:
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup pumpkin
  • 1 cup 1% milk 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • LOTS of cinnamon & pumpkin pie spice (yes...same as the oatmealJ)
I whisked all that together and added the torn bread.  And I just happened to find the PERFECT bread to use...

How cute are the little round slices??  That just so happened to be both SWIRLED with cinnamon and then COATED with cinnamon sugar.  BLISS!
The only downside??  My "let me try a piece" turned into 2...which turned into 3...which I eventually had to declare my "sample" enough for LUNCH and call it a dayJ

ANYWAY....I tore up enough bread to soak in the pumpkin/milk mix and poured it into my mini slow cooker sprayed with some non-stick spray.  I set it on high for about 5 hours or so and was met with some warm & creamy bread pudding.... 
Admitted:  bread pudding is FAR from the prettiest dessert on the planet, but it was SURE delicious with Fall spices THROUGH & THROUGH...and not to mention the double benefit of having an all-day cinnamon & sugar air freshener in your houseJ

After we put Katie to bed & Scott flipped on another game, I dug into my latest book from the library...
...and barely stopped thinking about it until I finished it not even a day & a half later.  This one was IMPOSSIBLE to put down.  I even woke up in the middle of the night to finish it because I couldn't even wait until morning.  And it was as heartbreaking as it was a quick read.  Sarah Jio made these characters so vivid & real in only 288 pages that I'm not sure I'll ever forget the character of Vera Ray and her devastating story.  If you want a thoroughly engrossing, quick read (oh yeah...and a kick in the gut & a crush of the heart), READ THIS NOW.

ANYWAY, after our "Fall-day Saturday," we actually DID attempt to have another "summer night" on Sunday.  (I TOLD YA!  What is wrong with me??  This would be so blasphemous normallyJ)  We planned on heading to the shore for another beach picnic...this time with Katie to let her run around & have fun since it's her new 'happy place'J  Buttttt our plans got a LITTTTLLEE eschewed as we were heading towards the east and saw BLACK CLOUDSJ  A torrential downpour on the way and a drizzle by the time we got to Point Pleasant had us nixing the picnic and heading into.... 
We would always get a delicious whiff of charcoal and steaks when we would drove past Frankie's on our way to Jersey Mike's, that we figured the rain was finally a good excuse to try it out...and we were so glad we did.  It's the perfect place to grab a drink or bring the family since it was both LOUD and bustling.

Oh yeah...and reasonably priced food in HUGE portions.  Yes...maybe too huge, but Scott & I just KNEW we had to try their "classic nachos" as soon as we saw them on the menu.  We both love a messy & gooey plate of nachos and um....
...this one certainly fit THAT bill!  Frankie's didn't skimp on the CHEESE, THAT'S for sure! 
A half-order next time is DEFINITELY an order, but I'd be lying if I didn't say we didn't love these gooey, chili-filled babies.

And after our HUGE nachos, we were nearly bowled over once our main courses showed up.  These "famous" charcoal burgers platters were MASSIVE.  Scott went with the "Jersey Burger" topped with pork roll... 

While I went with the classic California burger with American cheese... 

I could barely manage a little over a quarter of this burger, it was THAT big!  
Not that I didn't try...it was as delicious as it was massiveJ

And even though we were stuffed to the GILLS (AND Hoffman's was a mere stone's throw away), we decided the Toll House pie was just too tempting to pass up...
As if warm chocolate chip pie with cold ice cream is EVER a bad ideaJ  A couple bites of this was all that I can managed, but OH-it was soooo goodJ

And as if our plans for the night didn't already get twisted, we headed to the beach to finish out our original plan of letting Katie run around, only to be met with a dense, thick FOG! 

I felt like we were almost in a dome since the fog stretch on either side of us and made a arch right overhead and over the ocean.  It was both beautiful and VERY eerie.... 

The air was so moist that even my camera stopped taking clear pictures after awhile...even though I still loved this one for some reason...
And Katie still loved a foggy beach tooJ  She still got to run around like a nut...but once we saw she was getting a little braver and headed closer & closer to the (FOGGY!) ocean, we decided to pack it up and head for home...albeit with sticky, wet sand stuck to our feetJ

Monday I tried to get back to a "normal Monday eating plan" with a blended coconut yogurt for breakfast...

...and cherries & cheese for lunch...

But the call of the long holiday weekend, along with the added bonus that Katie spent the late afternoon at my Mom's house (thanks, Mom!), we decided to skip over to Federici's for one more 'celebratory pizza' before the long weekend came to a closeJ 

And even though our eating was DEFINITELY in "treat zone" this weekend, I DID still try to keep my exercise on point over the weekend:
  • Friday:  Chasing Katie in the sand (that counts, right??)
  • Saturday:  Power Yoga...with lots of float-y poses and new arm balances to try, the class name might just be changed to 'super yoga'J
  • Sunday:  Boxing...complete with extra strength & cardio stations and 10 minutes of going across the floor doing lunges, skaters & frog jumps...EI YI YI!
  • Monday:  Body Flow class...which was a mix of Tai Chi, yoga & pilates all in one.  SO NICE!
And since this post is a little late, I can GUARANTEE that tomorrow's post will be MUCH "lighter" than this oneJ  Balance, balance, balance, folks...that's the name of the game!

Have a great TUESDAY! (NOT Monday!)

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