Everyday Life and Menu Plan 1.31.16

It was definitely a fun-filled week around these parts!  Including the best kind of day: haircut day!

Since I usually do a big chop and then let my hair grow, it'd been over FOUR MONTHS since I did anything with my hair.  I feel so refreshed.

And I try to plan date nights on hair nights - one less thing to do while getting ready.  So we went out for margaritas at our favorite tex-mex joint.  I'm not doing so great on my goal of trying new restaurants out of the gate in 2016, but I DID try a new margarita (the blood orange) and two new dishes: the enchiladas poblanos and spicy-sweet brussels sprouts (ZOMG) from the specials menu.

It was also school conference week, which meant lots of half days and even a full day off when a transformer blew near our school.  No power and school was cancelled, on the day of our conferences, of course.  Thankfully we were able to get on BOTH teachers schedules the following day and, as usual, my kids make me really proud.
There was a LOT of crafting, going out for ice cream and even a little movie viewing.  

Now we have one nice full week until mid winter break the following week.  So many breaks!

This week's menu:

As always, I'm linking up with Org Junkie, Mommy Run Fast and Jill Conyers - be sure to check out all the great weekly menus!


Books I've Read, Movies I Probably Won't See

A recent Twitter conversation about whether I could watch Brie Larson's (surely amazing) performance in Room got me thinking about other books that I've read, yet don't think I can handle the film version.  When I'm reading, I can take breaks, compartmentalize difficult things and even try to picture things in a positive light.  In a movie, these things are laid out for you and there's no escape for the duration.  It's funny, my husband is sort of the opposite.  He ditched The Hunger Games less than halfway through because it was just 'too awful.'  But he was fine to watch the film; his reasoning is that you can imagine the worst when reading, and that the movie version is usually made more palatable.  In some instances, I agree.  And normally I'm chomping at the bit to see the movie version of a book.  But, to me, certain movie adaptations are VERBOTEN.  These five books immediately popped into my mind (title links are to IMDB).

The Road
This story of a man and his son in a very scary and depressing post apocalyptic world is pretty horrifying.  I read it so long ago and there are images burned on my brain that STILL cross my mind from time to time, and I really wish they didn't.  
I really enjoy Chris Cleave's novels and highly recommend Gold and Little Bee.  (I also have a NetGalley of his upcoming novel Everyone Brave is Forgiven which I'm SUPER excited to read.)  Yet, this story of a young mother who loses her son and husband while she's conducting an affair is tough stuff.  A good read, but as much as I adore Ewan McGregor and Michelle Williams, not the stuff of a good film, methinks.

The Book Thief
When I saw that this was being made into a film, I thought, NO.  Just...  no.  The way this story of a German girl with a Jewish man hidden in her home during WWII unfolds is just so beautifully written and didn't need to be messed with.

Sarah's Key
Speaking of WWII, Sarah's Key mainly deals with children in concentration camps.  It was probably the hardest book I've ever read.  I could NOT believe they made it into a movie.  Who?  What?  Huh???  No.

I mean, I think Brie Larson is awesome - she's one of the best parts of Trainwreck, she's in Scott Pilgrim vs the World (one of my all time favorite movies) and does a bang up job of singing one of my all time favorite songs in said movie.  Yet this story of an abducted girl who raises her child (and the child of her captor, if you catch my drift) in the room in which she is confined is just too much for me to take.  Maybe I could watch 20 minutes every month or so?  I do want to see her performance...

If I'm missing out on a really great movie, do tell!  I'd definitely recommend the books, but you might have to put them in the freezer for a bit...


Everyday Life and Menu Plan 1.24.16

Another week, another two trips to the Y on the same day for swim lessons.  I go in the early afternoon with my 5 year old, and in the evening with the 8 year old.  He loves that he's old enough to hit the hot tub.

Meanwhile, I hear Eddie Murphy doin' James Brown in my head. 

And, this week: another trip to see The Force Awakens, this time with the kids!  My boy loved it, of course, but I think my daughter got a little bored - what!?  We'll keep working on her...
This Vlog Brothers video pretty much sums it up for me.  The movie is just so great.

This morning started out leisurely, and I would have loved to do this all day:
But, as all Pacific Northwest folks know, if the sun is out: then you MUST get outside.  We do not squander our sunny days.  It was a perfect day for the zoo.

This week, we're trying out some Mediterranean bowls and getting out for a date night!

As always, I'm linking up with Org Junkie, Mommy Run Fast and Jill Conyers - be sure to check out all the great weekly menus!


Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel (a NetGalley Review)

I wasn't quite sure where to begin in my review on Sleeping Giants (to be published in April 2016 by Del Rey), so I'll start with the description from the publisher: 

World War Z meets The Martian. This inventive first novel will please devoted fans of sci-fi as well as literary readers hoping a smart thriller will sneak up on them.

17 years ago: A girl in South Dakota falls through the earth, then wakes up dozens of feet below ground on the palm of what seems to be a giant metal hand. Today: She is a top-level physicist leading a team of people to understand exactly what that hand is, where it came from, and what it portends for humanity. A swift and spellbinding tale told almost exclusively through transcriptions of interviews conducted by a mysterious and unnamed character, this is a unique debut that describes a hunt for truth, power, and giant body parts.

Regarding that first statement: other than the fact that this is told using scientific files and interviews, I don't believe it has anything in common with either The Martian or World War Z.  I just didn't feel any emotion towards the characters, or even just one character - there was no real hero to root for (like the FANTASTIC Mark Watney of The Martian) or a villain for that matter.  The 'mysterious and unnamed character' as interviewer does this novel a disservice.  Not knowing his angle made all the interviews seem lifeless and completely erased my suspension of disbelief.  How exactly is this 'nameless person' able to work with the President and our military without anyone knowing who he is??  As for the World War Z comparison, there was no real edge-of-my-seat tension.  Which was a real missed opportunity, because the story is pretty original and slick.  The idea that thousands of years ago, alien beings (perhaps?) left parts of a giant robot scattered around the globe for us to discover is kind of interesting.  It did read pretty quickly, and the plot went in some unexpected directions.  I just don't think it was executed as well as it could have been.


Crock Pot Nuts n' Bolts - Our Family Chex Mix Recipe (Plus Everyday Life and Menu Plan 1.17.16)

Our everyday life wasn't too terribly exciting this week - precisely the way I like it!  We did have the kids science fair (well, they call it STEM/STEAM night for Science Technology Engineering Art and Math) and it was lots o' fun.

We did some nail painting.

And, book reading, of course.

Now on to my family recipe!  My mom's Salami Stacks and Nuts n' Bolts are the stuff of legend.  They were an absolute staple for every Thanksgiving gathering.  I kept up with the Salami Stack tradition, because they are my favorite and because they are easy to make.  The Nuts n' Bolts required huge baking pans, garbage bags for mixing...  Just a big operation that I didn't have the gumption for, especially since our holidays are just the four of us nowadays.  So I put it off for many years.  This year, though, I felt as if there was a resurgence in the number of recipes for Chex Mix floating around and my craving got the better of me.  So, I researched a SMALLER and less hands on recipe to doctor like our family recipe.  And I was successful!  Here it is! (I basically followed the amounts and cook time from this recipe from Gimme Some Oven, but used different seasonings/ingredients.)  I'm thinking it will be good Superbowl fare, and might just make another batch...

Nuts n' Bolts


2 cups wheat Chex cereal 
2 cups rice Chex cereal
2 cups corn Chex cereal
3 cups original Bugles
2 cup Cheerios
1 cup French's fried onions
1 cup peanuts
1/3 cup canola oil
2 teaspoons seasoned salt
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
3/4 package of taco mix


Add cereals, Bugles, onions and peanuts to the bowl of a slow cooker.
In a separate bowl, whisk together oil and seasonings until dissolved.  Stir in the Worcestershire sauce until combined.
Drizzle the sauce evenly over the top of the cereal mixture.  Toss for about 1 minute, or until the mixture is evenly combined.

Cover and slow cook on low for 3 hours,  stirring at the 1 hour, 2 hour and 2.5 hour marks so that the mixture does not burn.  Then spread the mixture out onto a few baking sheets or parchment paper in an even layer until it cools to room temperature.

This weeks eats:

As always, I'm linking up with Org Junkie, Mommy Run Fast and Jill Conyers - be sure to check out all the great weekly menus!


The Stack - January 2016

Aw, this January is such a sad little stack from the library...

As most library power users know, it can be a feast or famine situation when it comes to the timing of holds.  I've mostly worked the system on this, though, and my stack of ebooks that I have to choose from is SKY HIGH.  Currently, I'm #1 in line for the following:

The Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll
Happy Again by Jennifer E. Smith
The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson
Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware
Red Rising by Pierce Brown
Seveneves by Neal Stephenson
Aurora by Kim Stanley Robinson
Brooklyn by Colm Toibin
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews
My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante
A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff
The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

PLUS I have two NetGalley books!  So, yeah, I've go my reading mapped out for a bit.  But so many interesting ones cross my path and... SQUIRREL! MUST READ!  The TBR list just gets longer and longer.

Until next time!  As always I am very much open to suggestions of what I need to move up in my queue.


Everyday Life and Menu Plan 1.10.06

In keeping with my goal of more weekly Instagram pictures, I figured the weekly menu was as good a place as any to incorporate them!  

Whenever I ask her if she'd like to do soccer or ballet, she always comes back to the latter.

We FINALLY saw Star Wars!  It was every bit as wonderful as I thought it would be, and then some.  The goal was to enjoy it without stress or distraction of the kids or crowds.  So now we have to figure out a time to take the boy child, as the girl child is probably a bit young for it. (And isn't as into it as her brother - yet.)

Some of my favorite ornaments, given as a bridesmaid gift and kept in a Marshall Fields box for posterity.
And the tree is put away for another year.  Wah.  349 days until Christmas!  At least today is a holiday of sorts with the Seahawks playoff game (quite a win there, I'm anticipating many Ace Ventura memes) that was clinched right as my son's indoor soccer team scored a goal - it was pretty hilarious and awesome.  

This week's menu plan:

As always, I'm linking up with Org Junkie, Mommy Run Fast and Jill Conyers - be sure to check out all the great weekly menus!


Favorite Books of 2015!

It looks as if this year will be a top five list (in no particular order).

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr (read in January)

Yes, this was probably on most people's list last year and I read it last January.  But it still holds up.  It's just a wonderful, unique and complex story.  A must read if, you know, you haven't already.

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir (read in December)

On the flip side, I JUST finished this book, but I adored it.  It's just my kind of fantasy novel.  Like if Game of Thrones was slightly more palatable and cut to the chase.  

Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen (read in June)

This book just resonated with me.  It was one of those novels that kept me up late reading, because I loved the characters so much.  

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng (read in May)

Ng tells a quietly riveting, and deftly plotted, story of an immigrant family.  A must read for all Americans, in my opinion.

I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson (read in March)

Love. Love. Love.  For many of the same reasons I loved Saint Anything.  Best characters of the year and best narrative of weaving past and present.  (Right up there with the Kate Morton level of narrative finesse.)

Favorite Books of 2014
Favorite Books of  2013 
Favorite Books of 2012


2016 Goals and December Recap

As some of you may have noticed, I went ahead and changed this blog over to Born and Read in Chicago, instead of maintaining two separate spaces.  It just seemed the logical thing  to do.  Rather than letting all the content here collect dust (I'm too sentimental about it!), I brought all the book posts here with the rename.  So, there will be slightly different content going forward.  As I said in my updated About Me page, more book focused, but I will still occasionally talk running and other stuff (just as I occasionally/monthly talked books since 2012).

In keeping with simplifying things, I'm going back to a yearly/to-do list for 2016.  I really had fun thinking big picture back in 2013/2014, and think it'll be simpler (and less boring) than talking monthly stuff.  But first, I've gotta check in on my last goals of 2015:  

December Goals

Finish gift shopping.
I felt ahead of the game on things this year and was done with all the gifts at least 2 weeks before Christmas.  Although, with the way shipping was backed up this year, that meant one or two things still squeaked in juuuuust under the wire. 

Purchase and assemble teacher gifts.  
Holiday bark  with the Target cards went over so well, that I got a recipe request from one of the teachers.  I make a note of the ingredients in case of allergies, but DUH.  Next year I will be including the recipe, maybe on nice card stock... 

Baking, so much baking.
Mmmmm.  Always a fun to-do item.  

Holiday Cards. 
Sigh.  The pictures and ordering were accomplished by the first week of December and, alas, I tried another coupon with a different company than last year and the same thing happened: not making good on promised timetables.  Thankfully, since I did order them so early, I was able to get them out the Sunday before Christmas.

Come up with some 2016 goals.  
Voila!  Those are below!

Put together a race recap on the Turkey Trot.

Stay well, and pray to the weather gods that I get a whole calendar year of streaking done in 2015.
I am knocking on wood as I type this, but we have been really healthy this year.  I haven't been sacked with a fever or cough since last winter!  By November of every year, I'm usually struck with some horrible virus the kids have picked up.  Maybe because they're getting older/less handsy in elementary school?  Nevertheless, I have that and the weather to thank for making the whole run streak thing possible.  Which brings me to my first goal for 2016, not exactly what you might be thinking...

2016 Goals
  • End the run streak when the time is right/obvious.  Having completed a year in May, then a calendar year in 2015, I don't know how much more I need to do with the streak.  I will for sure keep going, as I said on Instagram, it's my daily meditation.  However, if I'm running a fever or feel like I'm dying?  DONE.  If we ever get a few inches of snow and a snow day? (Can I call one in?  I miss them.)  DONE.  So, my goal is to not be obsessive and give myself permission to stop.
  • Read 55 books. My goal this year was to read at least one more book than I did the year before (47 books in 2014), and I HANDILY succeeded by reading 54.  So yeah, one more book than last year.
  • Do the Book Riot read harder challenge.  I'm excited to do a separate challenge from the annual Goodreads and I'm going to outline the books to read soon.
  • Run 5 races, including one trail race.  In 2015 I ran a LOT, but I cut my race schedule down by half.  Again, simplifying is a lovely thing.    
  • Aim for one PR.  This is something that I've been able to accomplish every year since I really started running in 2011, so I'm hopeful I can continue the trend.  Speaking of trends, it seems that my PRs are always a surprise/not planned for, unlike ones I train for - so I'm going to kind of 'let it go' in the dogged mentality of getting that damn sub 25 5K or sub 2 half.
  • Plan a girls trip with my high school buddies.   We haven't gotten together in so long and since I'm probably not doing Bird Camp this year, I have the time and funds to make something happen with these ladies.  It's just getting the stars our schedules to align.
  • Plan another summer family road trip. This will be the first summer in two years that we don't have a weeks old puppy in the house, so we might be able to squeak in something fun like we did back in 2012 and 2013.
  • More picture taking and maybe a small weekly or monthly roundup.  I really enjoyed doing a roundup in past years and now that I've signed up for Chatbooks, it has inspired me to take more pics.  It might be easier to do weekly (maybe along with menu day) than to make a roundup at the end of the month.
  • Get at least 5 new meals into regular rotation.  I think this is a little more attainable than holding myself to trying a minimum number of new recipes a month.  
  • Try new restaurants with the hubs. I dunno, we'll see!  We love our usual haunts SO MUCH, that it's hard to gamble with something new when you get a date night out.  So, maybe more date nights out then?  Birthdays will always be at Daniels.  That's non-negotiable.
  • Have more fun with makeup and find the right routine, colors, etc. for me. For Christmas I got a subscription to Birchbox (from my list!), as well as some new brushes, so I'm on the right track.  But I still feel pretty clueless about stuff (I didn't realize, until recently, that I could apply my BB cream with a brush. Brushes are a BIG DEAL, apparently.), so I'm going to try to learn more.  Plus maybe find a new perfume!  Fun, right?  I've had the same two scents (Issey Miyake, L'Eau D'issey and Fresh, Memoirs of a Geisha) for nearly a decade.
December Birchbox!

Okay!  I'm excited!  Maybe I'll do a little quarterly check-in.  Maybe not.  Keepin' it easy breezy.


This Weeks Eats 1.3.16

First menu plan for the year!  And it's comin' to ya from the new blog.  One of my goals for this year is to simplify, and it's probably not a huge surprise that I'm starting to consolidate things onto this site.  One might argue that it would be simpler just to do away with weekly menu posts, but they are my favorite.  I love to read others, I like to look back at my own, and it's a handy thing to have all my recipes for the week in one space.  Can't stop, won't stop!  

This week, I'm glad to be getting back into the routine, even though we had a lovely holiday break.  

This cartoon that I keep seeing all over the internet, from Hurrah For Gin (who I am NOW FOLLOWING), pretty much sums everything up.  Although I'm not necessarily feeling fat, so that's a good thing.  Especially since we have Lou Malnatis pizzas and Portillos hot dogs to eat in the coming weeks!  The pizzas are gifted to us every year from my mom, and this year we got the hot dogs from my mother in law.  So, yeah, they're BOTH goin' on the menu this week.  

As always, I'm linking up with Org Junkie, Mommy Run Fast and Jill Conyers - be sure to check out all the great weekly menus!


Hot Chocolate 15K/5K Seattle Coupon/Promo Code 2016 (UPDATE for 2019)

**UPDATE FOR 2019: I'm not sure what it will be, but you can start using SEAANDREA19 for next year's free item!**
I'll have a post up with more details soon.

Registrations are ramping up for Seattle Hot Chocolate 15K/5K, so I thought I'd re-share the deets here (and because I'm having some hiccups with redirects from Born And Raced......). 

Here's this season's Hot Chocolate 5K/15K Seattle freebie! 

Use code: SEABUFF2 for a free buff when you register for the Seattle 15K OR 5K.
  • The race is Sunday, March 6th 2016 - perfect time of year for some hot chocolate.
  • The swag is always awesome, and this year is no exception:
    Full zip, fleece lined tech jackets!
  • And again, there will be medals for the 15K - super cool, city-specific bling.
  • The folks at RAM Racing put a lot of thought, time and effort into choosing the hot cocoa and fondue - trust me.  And it is goooooood.  
  • They have an option this year to have your packet sent to your HOME!  This is really great, since it can be a bit of a bear to head to the Seattle Center twice in one weekend for most people.
  • And they have added NUUN as the on course hydration!  This makes me super happy.
Hopefully I've tempted you to join in the fun and get yer free buff!  If not, here are my recaps from Seattle Seattle AND Chicago.  I can attest to the fact that the race in each of these cities is so fun and really well organized.  If you want to run in any of these other cities:
  • Atlanta
  • Austin
  • Chicago
  • Columbus
  • Dallas
  • Denver
  • Minneapolis
  • Philadelphia
  • Phoenix
  • San Diego
  • Seattle
  • St. Louis
  • Nashville
  • Los Angeles 
Go here and check out this great race series!