Next she'll start having food delivered there

Hey you guys, believe it or not this is post #100. What an impressive waste of time this has been for all of us! I think we should buy me some presents. Has anyone actually read all 100? I'm not entirely sure I have. Maybe I'll do a quick skim through the backlog later.

Guess now is as good a time as any to do an inventory, so let's see....yep, despite my best efforts, Anna remains largely feral. Progress = zero.

The only thing she wanted to eat was a days-old popover straight from the fridge, and the only place she wanted to eat it was huddled on the floor.
I realize I feature a lot of pictures in the vicinity of the cat door, due to it being one of the only areas where she remains stationary for long enough to take a picture, but one more can't hurt. I thought you might be interested in knowing that she is now entertaining callers there.

This is absolutely not staged. It is an actual thing that happened at my house yesterday.


Less hair, more fat, I'm calling it even

Okay, first up: MegaThanksgivingPlate. We go pretty traditional in our family, so I focus my energy on things like trying to make the deviled eggs look super fancy.

Whoa, what's that at the end there? Cake balls? Well done, second-cousin-in-law!

Upon further reflection the next day, we* decided that having the most preposterous food item come from outside the immediate clan would not stand, man, so my brother bravely took charge and did this:

This is what happens when you don't shop on Black Friday like normal people.
Using Paula Deen as his spirit guide, he made a ham and cheese sandwich on two slices of lemon pound cake and then fried it all in butter. I wish I could report to you that it didn't smell completely great, but that would be a dirty lie. Like a beautiful porky donut.

Our only non-gorging activity of note was Anna's first haircut. It's worth pointing out that the woman who cut her hair is the same woman who gave me my first haircut. AWWWWW.
New Year's Resolution: more makeup, fewer chins.
I was going to include a picture of my first haircut, but apparently that is not a thing that exists. Congratulations, you have been spared a dollop of holiday sappiness by my family's inconsistent scrapbooking efforts. Here, instead, is Doris giving Nathaniel his first haircut while I snicker at him.

They are the SAME anonymous-looking hands, I swear.
Anyway, here she is road-testing her new 'do. Look, we caught her one second before she completely mangled this flower! She looked sort of like she belonged in that little-girl-with-a-flower scene from Frankenstein.

I'll let you decide which character.

*Nathaniel and I, and our beers.


Next time: the end result of the egg and butter parade

Just a quick holiday dispatch from the Old Meeks Homestead.

In case you were ever wondering where my obsessive food-planning originated, I think I've tracked down the source:

Aside from that, it's nice for Anna to be out here, since she gets a chance to explore a bunch of stuff.

Mostly boundaries.


The bruised face does make it a little harder for her to hustle people

I just wanted to let you know that by Thursday morning's playdate Anna was right back to card-sharking as usual, so she's probably not permanently damaged or anything.

You're going to want to double down there, kid.
She was a lot more clingy and quiet than normal, though, to the point that one of the moms (who had never met us before) commented on how good she must be at story time and such. I probably would have laughed wearily for about ten minutes if I hadn't been distracted by the slight concern that the blow to her head had somehow altered her personality. For the quieter. And still...er. (Having since taken her to a birthday party in the park, I can say with some confidence that this is not the case.)

Friday night: red beans and rice. I know I said that Friday night meals are usually the least desirable of the lineup (perhaps because they are not-infrequently kale-based), but in this case, I just kept forgetting to soak my beans overnight.

I always desire you, red beans and rice.
Not only were they warm and tasty, they actually inspired Anna to give the bowl-and-spoon thing her most concentrated effort to date.
I don't need to tell you how rapidly this situation disintegrated.


Maybe Hopper has been giving her scrapping lessons

It was probably only a matter of time before Anna mouthed off to some bigger kid and got punched in the face.

Mommy's Li'l Bruiser
Okay, it was actually a totally innocent playground collision, but she still looks like she was in a bar fight last night. I couldn't find the "My First Busted Lip" section of her baby book, so I guess I'll just paste this picture over "Second Birthday" or something.

In earlier, less injured times, she spent about 20 minutes wandering around the house holding a piece of cheese in each hand, occasionally placing one on a chair or couch or toy or window sill then picking it back up. She also dangled (but didn't drop) one of the pieces out the cat door for a minute.

And then she ate them. That's okay, right?
And what have we been eating? Well, all you concerned citizens whispering about how I don't take care of my husband can settle down because LOOKIT I MADE HIM A STEAK.

Photographing meat: not a thing I am good at.
And let's see, what's that on the side there? Looks like potatoes and...some green stuff...wait a minute, that's kale! Okay you guys, I know. I know I have a problem. It's like my brain decided that kale is actually a vice, because I am drawn to it compulsively despite myself. The other day I even bought some baby food for Anna that has kale in it. That's exactly how these things get passed down from generation to generation. It's a sickness.

Anyway. Tuesday night. Barbecue Pulled Chicken sandwiches, side salad. For some reason I decided I would be completely faithful to the recipe and not quadruple the garlic like usual, and I have to tell you that mincing ONE TINY CLOVE of garlic was really strange and hilarious to me. Like I was making dinner for dolls.

Last night: Chilaquiles Casserole. If you look at the recipe, you'll see that they suggest "10 servings." If you then look at my picture, you'll see that I cut it into fourths.

And this is me trying to lose weight.


Butternut squash, good decision-making

Friday night was the end of my pre-planned weekly menu, which generally means it's time for the recipe I found least appealing for the previous several days. Without fail, every time Menu-Planning Erica thinks it's a good idea to throw some kale into the mix, Hungry-For-Dinner Erica thinks, "I hate you so much, Menu-Planning Erica." Friday night was no exception.

Butternut "lasagna" with kale, their scare quotes, not mine.
Although referring to this dish as a "lasagna," even in jest, cannot be classified as anything other than absurd and cruel, it actually tasted really good. It almost tasted like pizza, which means the presence of tomatoes and cheese is all it takes to trick my 7-year-old palate into eating grown-up food.

Saturday night was Girls' Night Out with my ladies-in-law, and as we all know, the first rule of Girls' Night Out is "How about we just stick to discussing the meal, yeah?"

A giant nacho and a very sour margarita at G├╝ero's.

Bread stuffed with delicious things at Botticelli's.

Butternut squash ravioli, also at Botticelli's. Basically the same thing I made Friday night, except wrapped in actual pasta and covered in some crispy sage and about three pounds of butter. By a professional chef. I mean, I could barely taste the difference.

Around midnight: Cheeze-Its Snack mix, red wine, blurry movie.

The only other thing I'll say about GNO is that if you've ever found yourself wishing you were still awake at 5 am, stuck in a hotel room with a crazy person who insists that you quiz her on her own playlist and probably also wants to tell you all the presidents in order: I might be just the party animal you're looking for.

Obviously, as I am a responsible adult, Sunday was a day for pulling it together and behaving maturely. We wrangled a non-grandparent babysitter for Anna for the fifth time in sixteen months and there was absolutely no way we were going to waste it on something stupid. Like, I don't know, another scavenger hunt OH WAIT THAT'S EXACTLY HOW WE WASTED IT.

Look how genuinely giddy I am.

Dude to my right: total stranger.
The "X" stands for "Xtremely surprised I haven't passed out yet."
We were 9th out of over 100 teams, which becomes even more impressive when you note the fact that my only contribution was attempting to prevent myself from throwing up anyone from pulling a muscle by constantly requesting that we please slow down.

"I've been sitting adorably in this tunnel for this ENTIRE POST waiting to get a mention. Mother."


I'll know where my strangulation marks came from, anyway

Thursday night: Whole Wheat Pasta with Broccoli from the Whole Foods cookbook. Doesn't look like much, but come on, it's pasta. It's not bad. Actually, with the parmesan and pine nuts and olive oil and lemon juice it's quite nice.

I know it seems like I'm just punishing Dan at this point, but I swear I made this whole week's menu before he sadly requested more cow.
When I looked in the mirror on Friday I noticed what seemed to be a very faint black eye. I have no idea where it came from, but I'm about 99% sure it was Anna's doing, as she is the only person who frequently hits me in the face. For example, when I ask her to give me a kiss, she head-butts me. (When I ask her to give me five, she face-palms me.) Anyway, I figured I should try to make her at least slightly less of a menace, so I managed to swap orange beads from our New Orleans trip for her drumsticks. A safer toy? Maybe not. Less pokey? For sure.

Also, this is as close to religious ecstasy as I have ever seen her.


Hey, for once it's not a Simpsons reference

On Tuesday night we went to Black Star, the brewpub that we totally own (a minuscule share of, because it is a co-op). Their own brews aren't up and running quite yet, but the food is goooooooood. Full disclosure: if all of you eat there repeatedly, that might result in me getting 14 cents someday. Or not. I actually have no idea how that works. Can someone explain co-ops to me?

Anyway, despite the riches that potentially await me, I'm not lying. It's really good.

Grilled veggie sandwich. Due to my bread addiction, I find salads to be 500% better when they are called a "sandwich" instead. See also: wraps, pizzas.

You can tell it isn't food I made because Dan actually got to have beef for dinner.
Meanwhile, Anna is continuing her joyful ingestion of bananas, although her skills at this point are still sub-monkey.

She was mostly chewing on the peel.
Wednesday night's dinner was neither brown nor mushy, because I was in a Big Salad mood. I love Big Salads, probably because I spent a lot of formative years watching Seinfeld, but Dan does not like them, probably because he was watching some show where the characters complain about Big Salads being unwieldy.

Also, there is no steak in it.
I swear I keep taking these away from her and hiding them is different places, but she is just drawn to them like a magnet.

"What should I beat on first?"

I think here she is trying a more primal method of sending a message to Hopper.
She also spend some time outside, checking up on our work from the other day.

I really only included this to record the fact that a sleeveless top was appropriate outdoor-wear on November 11th.


Things that happened last week while I ignored the blog

Okay, time to catch up on the past week. When we got back from New Orleans, Anna was obviously super excited to see us. It had been our longest separation ever!

Wait, no...socks. She was super excited about socks.
My bad.

As promised, one of my top priorities upon returning to town was forcing Anna and Cash back into their sorta-themed Halloween costumes for more pictures.

The models lounge in the break room before a grueling photo shoot.
I took a LOT of pictures. On the whole, they took a more action-movie-esque tone than I originally planned. Still better than Pebbles bawling, though.

Let's just say that this photo isn't unrepresentative of the entire enterprise.
After several days away, Anna was shocked to find herself displaced from her favorite lounging spot.

I think they worked something out, I'm not sure, I usually just let them do their own thing.
I also started actually preparing meals again, although it was hard to get back on that horse after New Orleans. Because of the 27 pounds I'd gained.

I have to warn you, the change in season means that my cooking is going to become progressively more brown and mushy. Awesome in person, kinda blah looking in pictures. Use your imaginations! Or Photoshop skills! Whatever you need to do.

Grilled cheese sandwich with sauerkraut on rye and roasted tomato soup. If you like sauerkraut, this is a sandwich you should immediately look in to.

Chicken with roasted cauliflower and tahini sauce. I am absolutely going to start roasting chicken more often.

Tomato and white bean panade. It has bread, cheese, and tomatoes, which basically makes it a sneaky way to eat pizza in a bowl. Which makes it magnificent.

Curried sweet potato and brown rice soup. Brown. Mushy. Not a bad thing.
I thought the flavor on that last soup was good, but maybe lacking some dimension. When I mentioned this to Dan, he suggested that it might be better with some sort of side dish. He then suggested, in an entirely non-joking manner, "You know, like...a little piece of steak or something." Noted! Poor Dan, slave to the whims of my dietary capriciousness.

Finally, a (stunning?) return to form: yard work!

I probably should have mentioned to the gardening fans that we only mess with the lawn about three times a year.

This is the happiest Hopper has been in so, so long.