Okay, the truth is I love Hamburger Helper. I make it about once a week. It's not the healthiest thing but it is easy. The other truth is, I could try harder in the kitchen. In essentially the time it takes to make that sodium-laden garbage, I could be making healthier meals or I could even venture to open my Rachel Ray 30-minute meal cookbook. There's a part of me that's very insecure about cooking still but when BFF sent me a recipe for 30-minute skillet lasagna I had to try it. I'd sent it to Andrea and she liked it so I decided to make my in-laws my guinea pigs.
How delicious does that look? It tasted that delicious, too! My only modification to the recipe was substituting the ground beef with ground Italian sausage. The in-laws and I all had second helpings. Poor Husband, he had to work so he'll have leftovers tonight. It makes enough to serve at least six to eight people. My confidence was definitely boosted when I was able to make and serve this meal; I highly recommend it.
Husband took Casey down to the airport on Saturday to pick up my in-laws so I decided to take my mom and Christa to see The Secret Life of Pets. I saw the previews but other than that, I had no preconceived notion of what this movie was about. Since Christa loves animals, it just seemed like a good movie to take her to. The story is about an apartment building in New York, full of pets, and what said pets do when their owners are gone for the day. Max, a cute pup voiced by Louis CK, and his new shelter dog "brother", Duke, are the main characters. Max is not stoked when Duke comes home and there's a bit of an alpha dog struggle that ends up with the two of them separated from their owner and on the lam from the dog catcher.
I will say, this movie got a little bit dark and may have been a bit too much for my wee two-year old. She liked the pets a lot but got a bit antsy when the "flushed pets" in the sewer and the alley cats became the focus. Much like her brother, she seems to be quite sensitive to conflict and bad guys. The story was very cute and it was such a treat to hear Dana Carvey as the voice of a crippled old doggie. The animals were all quite lovable and fun but I can't say I'd tell you to rush right out and see this in the theater. New York plays its own character so that was very enjoyable; I just love that city. However, my favorite part of the whole movie is when Duke and Max gorge on hot dogs to the song from Grease. It's hilarious.
I always like book review time on the blog because I look back to the last book I read - in this case in DECEMBER - and get washed over in shame realizing how long it's been since I've read a book. In my defense, for Christmas my mother bought me a Kindle despite the fact I did not want one. I loaded it with Haruki Murakami's 1Q84 sometime in January and there it sat until I finally surrendered to the electronic reader and began it I think last month. Boy is it a doozy now that I'm into it (and I'm deep into it) but I am only half way through the 1184 page tome so no review yet.
All of that brings us to The BFG by Roald Dahl. On the last day of kindergarten, my mom brought Casey to see Finding Dory and at the theater they handed out a sample of this book. I, not realizing it was only a sample, began reading it to Casey one chapter a night. When we finally figured out there was much more to the story than was given to us, we rushed right out to buy this book because I simply had to know how it ended. I'm pretty surprised that I never read this book because Roald Dahl was kind of a big deal when we were growing up. The more I think about it, though, I think I only ever actually read James and the Giant Peach and The Witches.
Almost exactly a month to the day after we started reading, sticking more or less to the chapter a night unless we didn't read at all, we finished The BFG. I'm quite proud of this because illustrations are minimal yet Casey was deeply into it. He's never been one to sit quietly and be read to, but he was actually eager to listen to this story. He also insisted we go and buy Charlie and the Chocolate Factory right away which we'll start tonight. We've not even started that one and he's already talking about wanting to read Matilda. Good stuff. The BFG is about an orphan who wakes up to see a giant snooping in windows. He sees her watching him, kidnaps her, and takes her off to the land where he and nine other man-eating giants live. BFG is not a fan of eating "human beans" so he and Sophie the orphan hatch a plan where they plant a dream in the Queen of England's sleep and recruit her to stop the other nine giants. It's a very silly story with lots of talk about farts and burps but it's also quite dark at times considering there are man-eating giants as the main plot line. BFG speaks in a very nonsensical way that Casey really enjoyed and hung on to despite being practically impossible to understand. While I enjoyed this book, it didn't really have a fairy tale quality to it that I wanted. The descriptiveness was thorough and rich but maybe I just got too hung up on BFG's gibberish and found it distracting. The build up was clever but the resolution was sort of anticlimactic in a way. I will admit, though, in reading the very last few lines, my heart did feel that magical tingle.
This morning I stopped at my favorite local liquor store to pick up a bottle of beer to gift my coworker on his birthday. I love this place, which I shan't name here because I've been sworn to secrecy in regards to this occasion - because there is always a huge selection of IPAs. I go in almost every pay day and buy an assortment for Husband and myself so I've made friends with the owner and a couple of the guys that man the shelves and registers. This liquor store has been around since I was a kid and one of the boys I dated used to stock shelves.
As I was checking out with a bottle of Modern Times, the owner asked if I'd grabbed the can of coffee they were making. I hadn't heard of it but he said it was very popular so I helped myself to a couple cans. While I was checking out, I regaled him of our trip to Petco Park and how many awesome beers they had on tap and how we couldn't help but get drunk on such an awesome selection in such heat. He went on to reminisce about a Sierra Nevada event and threw the name "Pliny" in there. I told him how that's like the Holy Grail for Husband and our pals because we never see it anywhere.
He kind of leaned in and told me that he carried it but it wasn't on the shelves. He never advertises it and only mentions it to people he really likes. I guess it costs him a pretty penny to send the guys up there and they're only allotted a certain quantity so he didn't want to sell it to just anyone who might dare complain about the price or the quality. Well, I guess I'm one of those special people because after he swore me to secrecy he sold me two bottles and I think would have sold me more had I asked. It's sort of fun to be involved in this weird little secret society. I'm deeply smitten with the Mike Hess Habitus Double IPA so they've gone out of their way to stock it for me. The guys always go out of their way to recommend something new and I'm never disappointed. It's nice having friends in high places.
Have you ladies taken the time to read "For the Record" written for HuffPo by Jennifer Aniston? Have you by any chance taken a moment to look at Ashley Graham's Instagram? Well I have and I would ask that you do the same. These are just two of the many strong and amazing women out there that we should be admiring and emulating. Women who are ready to shake things up and help us empower ourselves. Women who really believe we should be ourselves and love ourselves and stop judging who we are by what we weigh or who we marry or if we're birthing.
I have to be honest, here. I've struggled with my weight for a long time. Maybe not the weight itself, but accepting my new-ish adult mom body; a body I got while I was pregnant with Casey and have basically kept for years after Christa was born. This is it, you know? Unless I really focus on every bite and every sip and really start exercising like a boss, this is the skin I am in. I never want my daughter to hear me utter one negative thing about my body. I never want her to feel the way I have for way too long, like my body determines me. My Gran used to tell my mom "She was almost as fat as you!" My mom would call the clothing departments she shopped in "The Fat Lady Section." To that I say NO MORE.
I think change is on its way. I think we have the responsibility to be healthy but not to be so focused on being perfect. I think we are ready to not only accept differences but to embrace them. Look at our Disney Princesses: Elsa didn't need a knight in shining armor to save her; Merida fought to avoid marriage. Things are changing and considering how many other problems there are in the world right now, I'd like the last thing Christa to be obsessed about is a number on a scale or a size on her clothing. I'd like her generation to figure out how to end racism and enforce gun control and find a cure for cancer. Things that matter.
I really like how the cell phone photos I take all the time can be so easily added here. My new little photo album diary blog brings me so much joy. I hope you enjoy, too.
I got my hair cut.
I realized I murder flowers so I re-did my patch with heartier succulents and such.
Saturday was a very home bound day so we did chores and had some nude pool time.
Christine is in town so Dalton joined in on the fun. Then we had a pizza party and a fire and some s'mores and it was just the perfect summer day.
Sunday was a BBQ and pool time at Gaga's.
I love how nicely the cousins play together. Can you believe my niece's tan?
And we ended our weekend with the Muppets and a sassy up-do.
Not too shabby. I stinkin' love when friends are in town and we can be outdoors all day and we have impromptu family reunion barbecues. I love being in the water and playing in the dirt. It's too bad I keep forgetting I am a white person, though, because my sunburn today is gnarly.