Christmas Came Early This Year

I was at another cross country meet early Saturday morning when my phone rang. It was my uncle asking what I was doing and what time I’d be home.

“That was weird,” I said to Dave after hanging up. “My Uncle John said he’s coming over this afternoon to bring us something.”

“What do you think it is?” he asked. My uncle lives about an hour away from us, so it had to be something that he really wanted to get rid of. Especially since we are going to his house for Thanksgiving in less than two weeks. (Ohmygod how is it possible that Thanksgiving is in less than two weeks?!)

“I have no idea. I hope it’s a car,” I joked. “Or maybe he won Lotto and is splitting up the money.”

“I don’t think it’s either of those things,” Dave said bringing me quickly back to reality and popping the Italian-villa-vacation, new-car, new-floors, new-windows Lotto-dream thought bubble that was forming inside my head.

“Are you sure?” I joked again. I really had no idea what my uncle could be bringing us. Maybe some old Coke bottles he found at a yard sale for Chandler’s collection. Or perhaps he and my aunt got a new bed and were bringing us their old mattress. He always joked that he was going to give me a lump of coal for Christmas. Maybe it was a really big lump. I was certainly intrigued.

I called Marley to tell her to please vacuum the den and make sure the bathroom was at the very least not gross. We clean our house on Sundays so by Monday morning Saturday it’s full red alert FEMA disaster status. People dropping in on a Saturday (without giving me at least 24 hours notice) and seeing my dog-haired, dusty, two-teenagers-live-here-and-I-work-full-time mess of a house is enough to make me break out in hives.

When my uncle got to the house he had me look in the back of his truck. I could not believe my eyes. It was not a mattress or old Coke bottles or even a really big lump of coal. It was unbelievable. It was a box for a 60 inch flat screen smart TV.

“You got us a TV?! Where did you get this? Did it fall off a truck?”

He laughed. “This is the box for my new TV,” he said. “I read on your blog that you still have a box TV so I thought you might like my old one. It’s a few years old, but it’s a 50 inch flat screen.”

Uh, yeah. I was at his house about a month ago watching football on his “old TV.” Let’s just say that it’s more than just a little bit better than watching football on the twenty-year old twenty-six inch box we have sitting inside our antiquated TV cabinet.

He and Dave carried in the TV, we did a bit of furniture rearranging (and behind the furniture ohmygod-I-can’t-believe-how-much-dog-hair-there-is-back-here vacuuming) and set up the TV that brings the Ross family into the 21st century. Mostly.

We are a bit tech un-savvy (I know, shocker!) and had a little trouble getting the TV to display a picture (which it turns out is kind of important), but I figured out the problem shortly after my uncle had to go. (Hint: it helps to attach the cable box to the cable cord coming out of your wall as well as to the TV.)

I can’t tell you how blown away Dave, Chandler, Marley and I are at my uncle’s generosity. (Even though it’s painfully obvious he was just trying to find a clever way to be mentioned in my blog.)

Dave was in heaven watching the final NASCAR race of the season. Football is a lot more exciting to watch on our new flat screen. The Walking Dead is a lot gorier. According to Dave and Chandler we never need to go to the movie theater again. I think having a houseful of teenagers for a movie/video game night is in our near future. We might even host a Superbowl party next year.

Thank you Uncle John. I love you.

And to anyone reading this who’d like to be mentioned in my blog -and who wouldn’t?!- have I mentioned we drive a 2000 Honda Civic and a 2003 Mercury Mountaineer? (I’m just sayin’….)

Welcome to This Wonderful World

On Saturday morning I woke up at about 6:45, which was equal parts much too early and much too late. I walked the dog, came home and woke up Marley who surprisingly got up without the usual teenage grumble and we were out the door by 8:25 headed to my mom’s house. I was meeting my brother there, who was going to fix the ignition coil on my car and Marley and my mom were going to watch the Great Gatsby for the thousandth time because apparently you can never get enough Leonardo DiCaprio. (I don’t quite know how to break it to Marley that he’s pushing 40.)

I had planned on coercing my mom to do a Costco run with me (we were out of everything – surely she had to be out of everything too). I also had to pick up a few things at Target, maybe Bed Bath & Beyond. Then I’d head home and cheat on my hairdresser (again) with some long overdue root maintenance before meeting my girlfriends for a 6:00 dinner and then a concert at The Canyon Club.

But when I got to my mother’s my brother wasn’t there. I was slightly annoyed because I had rushed and was late (the story of my life) and had forgotten my Costco list and now wished I’d turned around to get it.

“Where’s Richard?” I asked my mom as I walked in.

“He’s at the hospital,” she answered.

And a smile spread across my face.

My little brother was about to become a grandfather.

“Did she have him?” I asked.

“Not yet,” my mom told me.

“Can we go to the hospital, Mom?” Marley asked me.

It was very considerate of my niece to have her baby on a Saturday so we could all be there. I was hoping for a speedy labor (for her comfort of course and not because I was rudely and selfishly thinking of my month-long plans with some girlfriends that I rarely get to see). She was only at four centimeters so we took our time and made eggs for breakfast; lingered a bit. I helped my mom clean up and made a new Costco list.

We headed over to the hospital a little after ten. My niece was doing great and we plopped down next to her boyfriend, my brother, his girlfriend. and my younger niece ready to meet the newest member of our family. At 11:30 Ashley was only at five centimeters and everyone was hungry so my mom and I decided to go to Costco and pick up a couple pizzas while we were there. My list was long, but we barreled through Costco knowing that the baby wouldn’t be coming for hours, but still nervous that we’d miss it if we took too long. We dropped the groceries off at my house, dumping them on the kitchen table and into the fridge (we’d worry about separating them later), gave Dave a couple slices of pizza and rushed back to the hospital. My older niece had joined the group and the pizzas (now warmish rather than hot) were devoured.

At 2:20, Ashley was moving steadily, but slowly. I took a risk and headed home to get ready for my night out, stopping for hair mascara along the way, taking my cheating on my hairdresser to a new low. At 3:40 my mom texted me 9 1/2 maybe 20 minutes. 30 minutes.

I unplugged my flat iron and flew out the door.  On my way I texted back. I made it to the hospital in 20 minutes flat.

He still wasn’t quite ready to come out yet. Wombs are warm and cozy places. The nurse came back in the room to check her at 5:00. “The baby’s coming,” she said as she went to call the doctor. Ashley’s boyfriend and her two sisters stayed with her. And even though she left our earth way too soon, I know the girls’ mother was there too. Marley sat on the floor outside the room. The rest of us headed to the waiting area down the hall.

A little while later Marley texted me The baby is out and we rushed back down the hall.

“How do you know the baby is out?” I asked as the door was still shut. “Did someone come out?”

“No, I can hear him crying,” she said and we all pressed our ears to the door.

At 5:37 PM I became a great-aunt. He was 7 pounds 7 ounces and perfect. Mama and baby were both doing fine.

newborn
Welcome to the world little man!

 

We congratulated the proud parents and took turns holding our new little treasure. We called and texted family far away. We Instagrammed. We Facebooked. We were in awe and in love with our new little family member.

About an hour later I drove my mom home and left Marley there. I’d missed dinner with my friends, but still had time to meet them at the club. As I was driving home to change I thought about Ashley and her new little family. She is so young – just one year out of high school, two weeks away from nineteen. Yeah, her life’s going to be hard. Motherhood is so damn hard.

But also so very wonderful. Quite possibly the most wonderful thing in the world. They are surrounded by love. They’ll be okay.

 

 

 

 

 

An Easy Week Night Dinner with Minute Rice

#LoveEveryMinute
#LoveEveryMinute of this easy (and delicious) dinner

Friday night my dad and step-mom (in town from Texas) and my two brothers with their families came over for dinner. Awesome yes? Yes!

Except…

My dad, one brother, and (of course) my two kids are picky eaters. Like ridiculously so.

Add the fact that I am making a concerted effort to make healthy meals and I was placed with a bit of a dinner dilemma.

I could have barbecued except:

a.) My barbecue is down to two burners and I was serving 10 people

b.) I wanted to spend as much time as possible with my family and as little time as possible cooking. (It’s hard to hang with the family when you’re stuck outside flipping chicken and everyone else is inside drinking wine.)

So I made a rosemary-lemon-garlic chicken dish I found from my friends Google and Rachel Ray, added green beans and broccoli, a simple salad (made with iceberg lettuce due to picky eaters… sigh…) and some easy-peasy Minute® Rice. FAB!

#LoveEveryMinute
Minute Rice makes dinner so easy!

Okay, in truth I made one dish of the awesomely delicious rosemary-lemon-garlic chicken and one dish of plainish-tiny-bit-of-lemon-even-tinier-bit-of-garlic-chicken for aforementioned picky eaters.

rosemary-garlic-lemon-chicken
Picky eaters – your chicken is on the right

I prepped everything before my guests came over and once everyone arrived popped my chicken in the oven. After the chicken was in the oven for 2o minutes I started the veggies and the rice and dinner was ready in 30 minutes. I loved that I didn’t have to fuss over anything. This dinner was a hit – even for the picky eaters. My non-picky brother had 3 plates full!  This will definitely be making its way to my table again.

#LoveEveryMinute
My baby brother finishing his 3rd plate. (So yeah – dinner, I rocked it!)

Here is the recipe from Rachel Ray and the Food Network:

2 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into large chunks
6 cloves garlic, crushed
3 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves stripped from stems
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, eyeball it
1 lemon, zested and juiced
1 tablespoon grill seasoning blend (I used Montreal Seasoning) or, coarse salt and black pepper
1/2 cup dry white wine or chicken broth

*For picky eaters eliminate the rosemary (boo!), and cut the garlic and lemon zest in half.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Arrange chicken in a baking dish. Add garlic, rosemary, extra-virgin olive oil, lemon zest and grill seasoning or salt and pepper to the dish. Toss and coat the chicken with all ingredients, then place in oven. Roast 20 minutes. Add wine and lemon juice to the dish and combine with pan juices. Return to oven and turn oven off. Let stand 5 minutes longer then remove chicken from the oven. Place baking dish on trivet and serve, spooning pan juices over the chicken pieces.

Minute® Rice is so quick and easy to prepare and is great pantry staple. When meal time seems like a hassle, Minute® Rice is a go-to ingredient your whole family will love and allows you to have more quality time doing what your want with your loved ones.

Leftover rotisserie chicken or veggies from a meal earlier in the week? Minute® Rice can easily be paired with some of your leftover ingredients to make a quick, easy and wholesome meal your whole family will love in just a matter of minutes.

Visit http://www.minuterice.com/ to create a great main meal or side dish for your next family get-together or potluck.

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Minute® Rice.

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Today (and everyday) I am thankful for so many things… good friends, laughter, music, books, wine, coffee, my blog readers (all 10  of you – thank you so much!), living only 20 minutes from the beach, waking up to watch the sunrise every morning, beautiful sunsets, and our wonderful Southern California weather.

But above all, I am most thankful for this…

The loves of my life

What are you most thankful for?

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!