What’s Up October

Happy Halloween Friends 🎃 How has your month been? Our family felt a little off this month. Everyone in our house was short tempered. I took a step back and realized that we had been spending less time outside and we were using a lot of sarcasm under the guise of being funny. As a family we recommitted to not just being active everyday, but actually getting outside. We put a moratorium on “roasting” each other and have been sharing 5 things we are grateful for at dinner each night. There was some grumbling at first, but as time has gone on there have been fewer arguments when I broach going on a walk after dinner after a long day spent in front of screens. I think we have surprised ourselves with how many things we have to be grateful for each day. There have been quite a few occasions where someone continues to think of new things after they have taken their turn. Many of the things we express gratitude for have been small kindnesses we have done for each other. I feel like our mood has lifted a bit and we are feeling more appreciated. What are some of the activities you try to engage in more when you are having a tough time?

What We’re Eating This Month

Turkey Salad Sandwich

Turkey, Cranberry Salad on Organic Pumpkin Bread have been not only a lunch staple, but an easy weeknight dinner we turned to when we were all going in different directions this month. Luckily, I put a back-up loaf of the Organic Pumpkin Bread in the freezer because it has been a few weeks since I have seen it stocked on the shelves. The Turkey Cranberry Salad has continued to be restocked regularly, but it goes quickly and can be tough to come by if you are grocery shopping later in the day.

Chicken Scampi

Whenever I spot the term scampi in a recipe or on a menu it usually preceded by the word shrimp. I am not a fan of shrimp, so when I saw this recipe for Chicken Scampi I jumped at the chance to finally try this dish. Yum! I won’t hesitate to make this again.

Chicken Scampi
Mongolian BBQ

Ever since my husband and I discovered Mongolian BBQ while in college it has been one of our favorite cuisines. We were thrilled when Gobi Grill opened its doors in a nearby town a couple years ago. Our entire family loves to get take-out from Gobi Grill because we can each customize our own bowls and the leftovers feed us all for days. This is an especially good spot to try if you have a household with varied tastes. Vegetarians, meat eaters, spice lovers, and picky eaters alike will all find something to nosh.

Gobi Grill Mongolian BBQ
Pasta Carbonara & Butternut Squash Salad

I had a hankering to make a special fall dinner one night and this Pasta Carbonara recipe served with a Butternut Squash Salad caught my eye. I learned two new cooking tricks in the process. The first was to cook pasta such as spaghetti, linguine, and fettuccine in an oval dutch oven with just enough water to cover the pasta instead of a large pot filled with water. the result is a shorter wait time for boiling water and starchier pasta water to add to your sauces. The second trick was to simmer my bacon until the water evaporates and then let the crisp. This eliminates the risk of accidentally burning you’re bacon. The best part about pairing these two recipes is that together they use exactly one package of bacon.

Pasta Carbonara with Butternut Squash Salad

What We’ve Been Up To

Vote Forward
Watching a new episode of the West Wing on HBO+ seemed appropriate while participating in a letter writing campaign to encourage voting

The election has definitely dominated our free time this month. I volunteered with Vote Forward to send letters to voters in Ohio to remind them to vote this year. We have also been watching the debates, listening to town council and school board candidate forums and researching propositions whenever we have a free evening. If you live in California and are confused about how to vote on the propositions, I found this website especially helpful. It features videos that explain each proposition in just one minute.

My best friend came into town last weekend and we decided to go on a hike. We opted to take a trail I discovered last spring. Unfortunately, it looked a little different this time of year. One wrong turn later we found ourselves on a six mile hike instead of four! We will be laughing about this hike for years to come.

What I’m Loving

Dinner of soup and a grilled cheese sandwich is one of the things I love best about fall and winter. I bought Trader Joe’s Sweet & Savory Tomato Spread on a lark to elevate our typical grilled cheese sandwiches a bit. I was surprised by the overwhelming positive response it received from my family. Everyone liked it so much that we went through an entire jar before the month was over. It gives your run-of-the-mill grilled cheese sandwich a yummy dose of sweetness.

Anything with caprese in the description automatically has my attention. These Trader Joe’s Organic Caprese Ravioli stuffed with tomatoes, basil and mozzarella are ideal for kiddos that gobble up a slice of margherita pizza, but don’t usually care for the traditional ricotta filled ravioli. Our favorite way to enjoy them so far is with a little olive oil and a drizzle of balsamic glaze.

What I’m Watching

Dream Home Makeover

Dream Home Makeover premiered on Netflix this month and I admit I watched the entire first season that day. I’ve followed Shea and Syd McGee on Instagram for years now and love their home designs.

I’m pretty excited about the return of The Amazing Race and This is Us. The Amazing Race is one of a few that we watch as an entire family. We have fun debating which one of us would be best at a challenge and second guessing player strategy. Curling up once a week to watch This Is Us is pure “me” time. It is a rare occasion that an episode doesn’t give me all the feels and leave me teary eyed. Watch this series from the beginning if you haven’t had a chance to watch it yet.

What I’m listening To

The Michell Obama Podcast

The Michelle Obama Podcast was originally released to only Spotify subscribers. After enjoying her book and documentary immensely I was thrilled to hear that her first season was released Apple on September 30th. Each episode features a conversation between Michelle and the people who have influenced her life most. We hear from her husband, mother, brother, best friends, colleagues, mentors and mentees. I took something away from every episode, but the two I enjoyed most were What Your Mother Never Told You About Health with Dr. Sharon Malone and The Gift of Girlfriends with Denielle, Sharon, and Kelly.

What I’m Reading

2020 had dealt so many blows that I have found myself gravitating towards books, podcasts and movies that I can either learn from or offer me an escape with lightness and laughter. Unfortunately, The Life We Bury by Allen Eskens did not offer me that respite. It was however fast paced with an interesting plot. I would recommend this book to those of you that love a good 20/20 or Dateline murder mystery. It felt heavy to me only because every single character had an incredibly tragic background and could seemingly never catch a break. I think in a different year I would have enjoyed this book much more.

So You Want To Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo was another hard book for me to get through. You can feel how angry and fed up the author feels from her tone. The knowledge that some of that blame is aimed at the reader can be tough to swallow. While reading this book I repeatedly reminded myself that the discomfort I was feeling was insignificant to the injustices the author dealt with her entire life. Gaining greater understanding and learning how to be a better ally is the end reward.

What I’m Wearing

The challenge this month has been to give my daily outfits a fall vibe and still feel comfortable while experiencing above average temps. Lightweight fabrics and cropped jeans have been my go-to while trying to incorporate fall inspired colors and prints. Here are a couple of the outfits I’ve worn lately…

I wore this leopard midi skirt for Thanksgiving last year and had fun reinventing it with a more casual vibe this year. The addition of sneakers, a baby tee and denim jacket did just the trick. The skirt is multi-seasonal and versatile. It’s lightweight enough to wear during warmer weather and goes well with a pair of black tights during colder months. Leopard can be worn year round, but I find the colors to be especially fitting for fall. This skirt is the same style, but in a slightly different print. It fits true to size.

I invested in a pair of the Cali Demi-Boot Jeans during the last Madewell sale. The cropped length is my favorite when we are transitioning seasons. The stretchy denim makes spending all day in a pair of jeans a little easier after all those months of nothing but lounge wear. I would recommend sizing down one to two sizes due to the amount of stretch. Loafers are a great way to transition between sandal season and boot season. The classic style. pointed toe and quality leather will make these a staple for years to come.

What I’m Doing This Weekend

Halloween! Between COVID-19 and having two teenagers that are ready to move beyond Trick or Treating the focus is going to be more about spending time with good friends, playing games and watching scary movies. It’s the first year that we haven’t bought costumes and both kiddos are digging deep into their closets instead. I think I would feel a little sad if they were younger, but watching them come up with fun and creative ways to celebrate the holiday with their friends has been really heartwarming.

What I’m looking Forward to Next Month

After months of back and forth we finally decided to take the plunge and order a Peloton! The price reduction and fact that so many friends swear by their bikes finally sold us. I’m looking forward to riding with friends from afar and getting back in the saddle after a VERY long break. Send me all you instructor recommendations. I enjoy classes with choreography where you ride to the beat and have a good mix of sprints and climbs.

As we enter November I hope you know how grateful I am for the feedback and encouragement you have provided whenever I post. Thank you! Wishing you a great Halloween with filled with more treats than tricks🍬

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