Friday, January 30, 2015

Let's Have a Chat #1: Answers

It's Friday- and not only is it Friday, it's link-up Friday!

Here are my answers for this month's link-up questions:

1. What are your goals for the year?  Do you have a plan to accomplish them?

Ah yes, the cliche resolutions post- but at the end of the month instead of the beginning!

This year, I want to do more from-scratch cooking again.  I love cooking and baking, but nowadays I have so little time, so frozen and pre-made meals are just so tempting- as are the takeout menus strewn across the counter.  My little toddler is slowly growing out of her clingy phase and learning to entertain herself while Mommy cooks, but still, after an entire day apart from each other, we both would rather cuddle than work and play separately when we get home at night.  She's too active for the Ergo- and besides, I feel like a front-carry position is a little dangerous when working near a hot stove or oven, and she is NOT a fan of the back-carry.  But, as I said, she's getting better at playing on her own and allowing me to spend more time working on dinner, so that, combined with more Sunday meal prep for the week, are how I plan to get more real meals on the table during the week.

Another goal is, like I said, to blog more, but that's a goal I have every year.  But I really do have great plans for this little blog this year...I hope you like it!

2. What's your favorite snow day activity?

Well, we have yet to have a snow day this year, which disappoints no one more than Mr. Geek.  In his opinion, the only benefit of living up north- as this is as far north as either of us has ever lived, here in Northern Virginia- is that from time to time, it snows enough to cancel work.  The entire month of January has now gone by with no days off!  When we do get the opportunity to be snowed in, my needs are simple- I good movie, a warm blanket, and some hot chocolate.  I've never particularly been a fan of sledding or snowmen, though I'd love the chance to really play in the snow with Miss Chief- though she seems to take after her Mommy when it comes to preferred snow day activities...

3. What is used more often in your kitchen this time of year- the oven or the slow cooker?

As much as I love to bake, I definitely find myself relying on my slow cooker more than my oven when it's cold outside.  I make this chili so much that I'm surprised Mr Geek continues to eat it, but I do sprinkle in this soup every now and then (although let's be honest, those recipes are super similar).  New goal- find some more soups to try!

Okay folks, it's your turn- answer any or all of these questions in a post on your blog and link up below!  The link-up is open all weekend.  I'm interested to read your posts!  Don't forget to include a link on your blog to this post!!!

Much love,
The Geeks

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Monday, January 26, 2015

Culinary Adventures: Black Bean Soup

I had every intention of making pasta fagioli for dinner on Wednesday night.  But on Tuesday night, after I went grocery shopping, I discovered I didn't have any cannellini beans in the pantry.  At all.  So it was time for a new game plan- I still wanted to make a soup, and I wanted to use only what I currently had on hand.

I didn't have any white beans, but I did have some black beans, so I found a recipe for black bean soup (which I didn't realize was a thing until I Google'd it).  I had to make some adjustments- for one thing, I cut the recipe in half, because I don't have 8-10 people to feed, and for another, I didn't have any onions or Worcestershire sauce.  The result is this delicious bowl of comfort that is sort of like a different take on taco soup- especially if you serve it with corn chips.  I found it to be just perfect with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of cheddar cheese stirred in, and the toddler in our house, who has recently decided to be a picky eater, ate every single bite (and then some).  You could also go easy on the liquids and serve this with rice as more of a side dish than a soup, if you wanted.

*personal photo*
Black Bean Soup
adapted from Dave Lieberman

-5 slices of thick-cut bacon, sliced into thin lardons
-3 garlic cloves, finely minced
-1 C low-sodium chicken stock (more for a thinner soup, less for a thicker stew-y dish)
-1 (14.5oz) can diced tomatoes
-1 Tbsp ketchup
-splash of white wine (1 tsp?)
-dash of chili powder (couple tsp?)
-2 (15.5oz) cans black beans, drained
-1 (14.75oz) can corn, drained
-salt and pepper to taste
-1 tsp parsley
-juice of 1 lime
-sour cream and shredded cheddar cheese, for garnish

-Render the tiny bits of bacon in a dutch oven (or other heavy pot) over medium heat.  Once the bacon is crisp, toss in the garlic.

-Just when the garlic becomes fragrant- only about a minute- pour in the chicken stock, tomatoes, ketchup, wine, and chili powder.  Give it a stir, then add in the beans and corn and stir it some more.

-Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.  Let it bubble for about 10 minutes, then stir in the parsley.  

-Give it another 5 minutes and you'll notice it thickening up; squeeze in the lime juice, then season with salt and pepper.

-Top with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of cheddar cheese, then enjoy!

**This makes about 5 or 6 servings, which was perfect for us- a serving each for dinner, then a serving each of leftovers.  Feel free to use the original amounts in the recipe- that is, double this recipe- if you're feeding a larger family or want to freeze half for later.**

What's your go-to pantry-raiding recipe?  Have you ever had to switch gears on your dinner plans when you noticed a key ingredient was missing?

Much love,
The Geeks

Friday, January 23, 2015

Oh, Internet... {61}

Hellooooooooo Friday!

This week, I discovered A Knotted Life and the nominees for her Sheenazing Awards- aka a nice long list of amazing Catholic blogs to read!  So now that I'm following some new blogs, my Oh, Internet posts will be peppered with some new sources of humor, education, and inspiration for you to check out.

Here are the most awesome things that happened on the internet this week:

I love these chess piece salt and pepper shakers at Anthropologie!

The Pioneer Woman shared a delicious recipe for butterscotch pudding which involves both butter and scotch.  Yes.  So much yes.
When I was pregnant, there were plenty of days when I felt lazy and useless.  Next time, I need to pull up this post from Better than Eden- The Pregnant Works of Mercy.

In light of yesterday's anniversary of the Roe v Wade decision, I think everyone should read this beautiful reflection that Haley wrote several years ago about her unplanned pregnancy, over on Carrots for Michaelmas.

What awesome things happened on your internet this week?

Much love,
The Geeks

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Wordless Wednesday: Baby Steps

climbing up the playground all by herself // *personal photo*

Much love,
The Geeks

Monday, January 19, 2015

Fashion Adventures: I'm So Fancy

...and now you have that song stuck in your head.

You're welcome.

A sorta-kinda "resolution" of mine this year is to dress a little more thoughtfully for work (and everyday, but mainly for work).  The dress code in my office is a very loose interpretation of "business casual", meaning most people show up in jeans, Chucks, and a collared shirt every single day.  (As a woman, I can get away without the collar- some sort of cute sweater or something.  Just not a t-shirt, unless it's a Friday.)  This is to be expected when one works IT, and since sleep is a premium in the house, I really do appreciate that I can roll out of bed and throw on the first thing I see in my closet and still be considered office-appropriate.  I especially love that nobody bats an eye if I decide to skip my make up.

But I've found that if I'm dressed nicer- even if that outfit still includes jeans- I tend to be in a better mood.  And I need all the help I can get to be in a good mood at work nowadays, so if I have to get up a little earlier in order to actually do something with my hair, I think that's a sacrifice I need to make.

Normally nobody notices what I'm wearing, but if one of the handful of women in the office shows up in a skirt- a dress, no less- then everybody notices.

"Why are you so fancy today?"

"Do you have an interview?"

"Do you have to give a presentation?"

"Seriously, who are you interviewing with?"

Nope, nothing special about the day I wore this outfit.  Just a Monday.  Just felt like it.  And you know what?  When you wear gold sequins on a Monday, that Monday sucks just a little bit less.

earrings: gift
blouse, dress, tights: Kohl's
necklace: Francesca's
watch: Kate Spade
shoes: Kenneth Cole Reaction via Off Broadway Shoes

Does the way you dress affect your mood?

Much love,
The Geeks

*all photos personal*

Friday, January 16, 2015

Oh, Internet... {60}

Phew, what a week!  I went on a business trip, which meant five long days away from my little family, so I'm so excited to be home tonight!  I still managed to poke around some awesome things on the internet while I was out of town, and here they are:

Stir fry spaghetti squash (from A Beautiful Mess) sounds weird but looks pretty good!
Lauren from Fizz and Frosting is WAY more put together than I was when my little one was first born!
This tutorial from Infarrantly Creative looks really simple!  I'm going to need something like this soon as Chief gets older...
The adorable Oh Joy! has started a "Dressing the Babe" series that I'm excited to drool over from now on :)

"I didn’t marry The One, I married this one, and the two of us became one."  Matt Walsh speaks truth yet again, this time about our culture's warped perspective on true love and "soul mates".  In high school, I believed in the "soul mate" concept, but then I grew up and decided to get married.  Mr. Geek and I weren't brought together by the universe or fate- we made the conscious decision to be together, even though our lives had brought us to entirely different places (geographically).  We made the choice to get married, not because it was destined to be, but because we had the free will to make that decision.

Focused on the Magic gave us a look at all the upcoming Disney movies we have to look forward to!

We're not yet ready for Chief to be a big sister, but I'm still curious about how to prepare her for the transition once we are pregnant again.  Luckily for me, Kendra from Catholic All Year has offered her perspective!

What awesome things happened on your internet this week?

Much love,
The Geeks

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Wordless Wednesday: Disney Parades

the Main Street Electrical Parade // *personal photo*
Today, I'm linking up over at Focused on the Magic for the Wordless Wednesday blog hop!  Today's theme is Disney Parades.  Click the button below to join in on the blog hop!

Much love,
The Geeks

Friday, January 9, 2015

Oh, Internet... {59}

I am so incredibly glad it's Friday.  Even though I'm sad that we're taking down our Christmas tree this weekend, I'm excited that we're hanging out with some friends tomorrow- friends that have dogs, which means Miss Chief is going to have a great time!

The internet had a pretty great time this week, don't you think?

It would be inappropriate to say I need this dress from ModCloth but...I NEED this dress!
I am obsessed with Anthropologie's ridiculous furniture, including this bed.  If only we were zillionaires...
I should really just set up the direct deposit for my paycheck to go straight to Carter's because let's be honest...
This animal rug craft on A Beautiful Mess is so freaking adorable.  If we ever do a jungle-themed room for our kids, I'm making a tiger "skin" rug!
Nicki of Full Hands, Happy Heart shared a beautiful reflection on the real "Mommy problem" over on Carrots for Michaelmas and I completely, 100% agree.  The timing of this post was fantastic, too, as it's something I've been reflecting on this week.

What happened on your internet this week?

Much love,
The Geeks

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Our Tree is Still Up

Merry Christmas!

No, it's not too late for me to greet you that way.  Yesterday was the Epiphany- the 12th day of the Twelve Days of Christmas everyone sings about in November (although in the US, we celebrate the Feast of the Epiphany on the first Sunday after New Year's Day, which was this past weekend).  But the Christmas season- which, for the record, starts on Christmas Day, not ends- is actually celebrated through the observance of the Baptism of the Lord, which we will celebrate this Sunday.  So in our house, the tree won't come down until this weekend!

All of this is to say- I'm going to give you a (little) recap of our Advent and Christmas, and it's not technically too late to do so ;)

We put up decorations on the 4th weekend of Advent, though we had the plain, un-decorated tree in the living room for a week before that.  In our efforts to live the liturgical year, it was important for us to really separate our observance of Advent from our celebration of Christmas.  Originally, we discussed decorating the tree on Christmas Eve, but we both had to work, and then we went to the early Mass, so there was just no time.  Maybe when Christmas Eve falls on a weekend, or when our little family is able to attend Midnight Mass again without the fear of toddler meltdowns, we'll celebrate that way.  I also want to invest in some Advent decorations- lots of plain evergreen wreaths and a purple tablecloth, perhaps- because each liturgical season deserves its own trappings, even the solemn ones.

the ornament that Daddy and Chief made at the daycare Christmas party

We went to an early Mass on Christmas Eve- a Mass which started riiiiiiiiiight around bedtime.  And we didn't sit in the cry room, because the church was packed, and there were plenty of tiny babies that needed the space in there.  Believe it or not, we made it through the whole Mass with no meltdowns!  There were a few close calls- Daddy had to hurry her out to the back of the sanctuary when she started getting loud, but she didn't like being taken away from all the interesting people, so she quieted down and got to come back to our pew.  It's just so hard for her to sit still, or even just to keep her activity to our pew, so we normally default to the cry room so she can roam free without needing to be chased down.  (I have literally chased her as she crawled under pews on a beeline for the altar.)  But she likes talking to and waving at the people who sit around us in the congregation, and so long as she's not actually screaming, I think a little noise is acceptable from a 1-year-old during Mass.  The people sitting near us on Christmas Eve certainly appreciated the constant "Hi!"s and kisses blown in their direction!

Although her wardrobe is plenty big enough, I really wanted to start the tradition of buying Chief a new Christmas dress every year, so we popped into Babies-R-Us at the last minute and snagged this beautiful champagne-colored floofy number with golden sequins on sale (and I had a gift card!) so I don't feel too guilty about it.  Mr. Geek wore the navy suit he got for his birthday waaaaaay back in August- with no tie, because we never could agree on the right color.  And my dress is from Anthropologie, bought with a gift card I've been saving until I lost the baby weight and no longer had a need to wear nursing-accessible clothing during the day.  It's beautiful, comfortable, and it has pockets- so I'm going to be getting a lot of wear out of this one!  All in all, I say we clean up pretty good :)

Right now, our family tradition is to open one present when we get home from Mass, and the rest the next day before having a big breakfast (and then a big dinner).  This tradition might change, but for now it works- because someone was so sleepy by the time we got home that she fell asleep before we baked cookies for Santa!

Speaking of Santa- growing up, we always got candy in our stockings.  As we were dropping chocolates into our own stockings, Mr. Geek grabbed a bottle of Chief's rice puff snacks and said, "Wouldn't it be funny if we put these in her stocking instead of candy?"  So, jokingly, we put the new container of puffs in her stocking...and the next morning, it was her favorite present.  Her eyes locked on those puffs the moment she saw her stocking, and all she wanted to do all morning was eat puffs.  She enjoyed tearing wrapping paper and playing with some of her presents, but she kept going back to those puffs.

"Yeah, this baby doll is okay, but what I really want are these puffs!!!!"
"Santa" brought us an XBOX ONE- which is to say that we saved up credit card points and Amazon gift cards to buy it at a greatly reduced price.  And then Mr. Geek surprised me with Disney Infinity, and I have never had so much fun with a video game!  Now I know what Mr. Geek's childhood was like- anxiously watching the clock until the time comes when I can sit down, controller in hand, and tap those buttons to control my little character on screen.  Of course, I have to wait until Chief goes to bed or takes a nap on weekends, but for those few precious hours, I'm completely absorbed.  I highly recommend it!

So that was our Christmas.  How does your family celebrate?  What are your traditions?  Did you travel this year, or have a quiet weekend at home, like we did?

Much love,
The Geeks

*all photos personal*

Monday, January 5, 2015

Let's Have a Chat #1: Questions

This happens every year.  The holidays roll around and BAM- my blog dies.  It's shot in the heart by the giant meals to be prepared, the presents to be wrapped, the family to visit with, the house to be cleaned.  In the month of December, especially- but sometimes November as well- I'm much too busy living my life to write about it.

So once again, the beginning of January has me resolving to "grow my blog."  Yes, this year I once again promise that I will blog more- or at least more regularly.  By the time December rolls around, my life will probably be too busy to stick to any sort of blogging schedule, but I've come up with a way to guarantee one (well, technically two) posts every month, no matter how busy it gets.

I want to have a link-up with you!

At the beginning of every month, I'm going to post 3 questions, and at the end of the month, I'm going to post my answers.  Then, I want to invite anyone reading who has a blog to also answer those questions, and link up on the designated day, right here.  Sound good?

The Questions for January 2015:

1. What are your goals for the year?  Do you have a plan to accomplish them?

2. What's your favorite snow day activity?

3. What is used more often in your kitchen this time of year: the oven or the slow cooker?

You have a whole month to blog your answers!  Write your post whenever you want, but come back here to link up your post on Friday 30 January.

I can't wait to read all your posts!

Much love,
The Geeks