Nesting

Something is seriously wrong with me.

I went back to work and I’m now trying to merge my stay at home mom lifestyle and expectations with my new part-time, working mom time commitments. Wednesdays are my “day off” and feel like my Sunday, like my day to catch up and to exercise and see friends and make appointments and to run errands and to supposedly cook like a wild woman!

Yesterday, I had to leave the house early and was gone and in and out all day and night. I had no time to cook and this bothered me. I like to have food readily available for my family when they come home. They’re all busy too, and providing food feels like I’m providing comfort and energy so that everyone survives. So dramatic, I know. But seriously. They can cook on their own and make their own food, but I still want to do it and feel like I’m doing my job. I want to take care of them this way and show them my love this way. I love that they enjoy my cooking and I feel connected to them through food. So when I literally couldn’t fit in the cooking time any time during the day yesterday, I felt like a failure. Not really, but really I’m feeling dramatic today, so let’s just go with an F- in the food department.

So today I made up for it because I had time.  I also had pounds of chicken and beef and veggies that I had planned to use yesterday, so I got busy. I had leftovers to repurpose and new recipes to try and a dish that Juliana asked me to make, plus 2 dishes I wanted to recreate from the Indonesian restaurant we visited this past weekend. I had big dreams to fill today and I made 6 different things, plus washed all the dishes and put them away. All in a day and now I feel happy with my full fridge.

In case you’re curious about what I made, I made a spicy Indonesian beef rendang, Indonesian sayur lodeh, gluten free/light/baked coconut chicken, some sort of mediterranean chicken and cauliflower in a tomato and onion sauce, chicken marsala, and Julie’s spaghetti pizza bake recipe. Oh, and Thai jasmine rice to soak up all the sauces.

So no one should go hungry for the rest of the week. Phew. I feel so much better now with food in the nest, ready to feed my flock.

How do you nest?

nAMaste BeLoveRs

Food

My relationship with food is changing. I’m trying to lose a few pounds and am trying new strategies. None of this is new or rocket science and I know we all try to lose a pound here or there.

The thing that I’m noticing this time around is how much of my time and life is focused on food. Have you ever thought of it like that before?

I was sitting on the floor, looking up at our bookcase and noticed how much space was consumed just by cookbooks, that I hardly ever look at but like holding on to anyway. I even like thinking about food.

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I was thinking about how as a mother and provider of sustenance for my family, I spend quite a bit of time thinking about, planning, gathering, preparing and serving meals over and over again. And typically when we are doing something socially, food is involved. Same with date nights. We think about where we should go out to eat. Food is a form of entertainment and feel goodness and something that is shared and enjoyed and creates connections and shared memories.

Now that I really want to lose weight, my mind is shifting. I don’t want to be thinking about food as entertainment. I want to eat more healthfully and be more mindful of my portions and food choices. Yet my old self really is a foodie and I like to try everything and share everything and I don’t have an off switch. I love food! And when it’s in front of me or shared with me, I want to eat. But now I’m wanting food to be less of a priority and focus – not that I don’t want to eat, but I want to spend less time thinking about and preparing food, if that makes any sense. Yet if I want to be surrounded by healthier options, I have to spend more time at the grocery store buying fresh produce and chopping it up so I’m prepared when hunger strikes. Today I made a minestrone soup with quinoa and kale that I can enjoy quickly when I’m hungry during the week.

I’m working on self control and controlling my temptations, yet it’s quite challenging. It’s that yin and yang thing again, and it’s a struggle. The desire to shed a few pounds and enjoy shared meals. I know they’re not mutually exclusive and that there is a balance, yet I’m not there yet and my family isn’t joining me on this ride. I’m getting there…I think, but this is work! And I know there are substitutes and I can still share meals, but the carrot sticks are just not as appetizing as the crackers and artichoke dip and I have to work on the discipline while I change my behaviors.

How about for you? Is this easy? What’s your strategy to eating and living healthfully? I’m curious what works for you. Have a great, healthy week!

Day 17: Food, Glorious Food

Carla was curious about what we eat here and what we feed the kids. Believe me, I was curious too and I’m still learning. Everything is different – from size portions, to flavor, to directions in a different language, to ovens using celcius vs. fahrenheit, from pounds to kilos, to how frequently they shop here, to the packaging, and I could go on and on.

For breakfast, I grew up with a Dutch treat – Hagel Slag. Basically it is a dark, chocolate sprinkle that you sprinkle onto buttered toast. In California, I could buy a box for $6.00 at Ranch 99. Here at the Albert Hijn (the favored grocery store from the locals here) a box is less than 2 Euros – less than half price!  My kids are enjoying this sweet treat, although it’s not the most healthiest of breakfasts. Jeff and I also like a piece of aged cheese on toast for breakfast.

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For lunch, we’ve been enjoying Toasties – like grilled cheese sandwiches, sometimes with a slice of thin meat. Lil’ C has found a new passion which is helping me cook in the kitchen. He actually found a new way to make grilled cheese toast by sprinkling cheese into the hot pan first to melt and crisp it, and then to add the bread on top. The cheese sticks to the bread and makes the most delicious sandwiches that we all love. The other family favorite is quesadillas. Although they don’t seem to have cheddar cheese here, like we do back in CA. Instead, it’s a white, young cheese that tastes great.  We’ve figured out the right packaging now.

While we’re busy messing up the kitchen, we have also been preparing dinner at the same time. Cook once, eat twice!  I like it. But lots of times the dinner smells so good, that there are lots of taste testers and samplers nibbling away at dinner.

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One thing I like about the local stores is that they have a lot of pre-cut and pre-sliced mixed vegetables and meats that make for easy stir-fries.  We’ve been making curries, stir fried noodle dishes, fried rice (nasi goreng) and similar dishes. They are easy to make and we all love them. We add some soy sauce, fish sauce, chili sauce, oyster sauce, garlic and/or salt and pepper.  But I think we need to find some new ideas.

The hardest part for me is reading directions on the backs of packages. I’ve been able to adapt and just be creative, but I’d love to follow a recipe or instructions to make something as simple as pancakes. I know I could type the recipe into Google translate, but that means more work. So for now, I’ve just been cooking what I know.

Some things taste very different than we expect too. For example, C wanted BBQ sauce on his fries. His BBQ sauce actually tasted more like thousand island dressing and nothing like BBQ sauce.  And when I made fajitas for the Petersons, using packaged fajita seasoning, it had a nice curry flavored undertone. That’s great if you’re expecting curry, but not so great when you’re hoping for fajitas.

We’ve also noticed that the savory flavors we’re used to tend to be milder here.

Another snack like food we all love are the bitter-ballen. I don’t know exactly how to describe them, but they are like a deep fried, thick gravy like veggie filling that are served with spicy mustard. You can order them as little snack size balls or as Kroquets – more of a Twinkie like shape that is served on a bun. I love them.  French fries or frites are also quite popular. The difference is that they are served typically with mayonaise, but not the Mayo we’re used to in America. It’s actually quite flavorful with a much better texture. Satay (peanut) sauce is also served with fries. Mmm…. Not going to get any skinnier eating this way!

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And as for shopping, the cashiers sit at their cash registers and customers must bring their own bags and bag their own groceries. Of course, they have bags to buy too.  Eggs are not refrigerated but instead are found on a typical shelf like you would find bread. I still refrigerate them when we get home. Luckily we have a big, American sized refrigerator!  The bread is very fresh and there are several local choices. You don’t see as many big name brands competing for shelf space like we do in the states. I like this change.  To use a shopping cart, you must put a 50 cent piece into the cart to use it, and when you return it, your 50 cent piece is also returned. Good control of the carts!  By the cash register, the candy choices are a bit different too.

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One other difference that is HUGE, is that kids can buy and consume wine and beer at the age of 16!  Isn’t that surprising?

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The market place is also open on Friday afternoons in Amstelveen. It’s fun to shop around, people watch and taste hot, freshly made stroopwafels! My favorite dutch cookie – waffle like cone flavored cookies filled with a sweet, warm, caramel filling.  This week we enjoyed seeing the fish market with HUGE live lobsters. The kids also picked some sweet candies and we enjoyed just walking around and taking it all in.

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We’re enjoying our new home and settling in.  Today the massive IKEA delivery arrived and the assembly team worked for 8 hours straight!  We’re just waiting for our couch to arrive next week and for our kitchen table to be re-delivered hopefully early this week as some pieces were missing from the box today. Oh well – we will just enjoy our chairs and one ottoman.  And the kids are happy with their new bedrooms and personal items. It’s all good.  Now I need to go get a stroop wafel for dessert! Want one?  xo

Day 59: Wishing Flowers and Alpacas?

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We’re in Colorado this weekend and our only plan was to spend time with Jeff’s grandparents and his Aunt Debbie and Ken. It’s kind of nice to not have any expectations except to be with family. Seriously. So simple and easy and we are thankful they want to spend time with us.

We had breakfast at the hotel and then went over to the Air Force Academy to see the visitors center and chapel again. I love the open space surrounded by the mountains. It brought back memories of Nate’s graduation 14 years ago! The chapel was stunning.
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After the AF visit, we had lunch at Freddy’s Custard and Steakburgers. That place was so delicious. Custard is like a creamier and richer ice cream with a yogurt like texture. Yum!

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We met up with our Sunnyvale friends – the Myles family, who moved to the Springs a few years ago. The boys had fun hanging out and swimming together.

We had a great dinner together and talked about the infamous haunted house next door. Oooohhh… We got out the ghost radar app and tried to see how close the ghosts were! WTH?? Should make for great bed time stories tonight.
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Are you wondering about this face? Ken has two alpacas on his property and I tried to feed and pet one. I was fascinated by them even being there on the property. J and I had fun picking flowers and wishing on the wishing flowers. I wonder what she wished for?