Friday, March 30, 2012

Birthday Bonanza Day 1

Yesterday was my birthday. If you are reading this, there's a good chance that you already knew that.  

If I had had a cake this year,
this is totally what it would have
looked like.
 love birthdays. I think that my birthday is one of the most important days of the year. Okay maybe that's a bit of an overstatement. I mean, obviously, there is one birthday that is slightly way more important than mine.

I had to ask a friend if posting this picture
is sacrilegious.  She said no because
he looks so happy about getting cake.

I think it is totally appropriate that Jesus' birthday warrants an entire season rather than just a mere day. 

In fact, I think everyone deserves to celebrate longer than a day.  You've survived another year - what's not to celebrate about that?  

And so, I like to wallow in my birthday.   I like to drag out my birthday revelry for 3-4 days if possible . . . beyond that and my family starts to complain.  

And, I don't mind if everyone knows it either.  Yesterday morning I announced my birthday to everyone in Main Street Coffee.    If I could have, I would have walked around all over town wearing a tiara and a "Birthday Girl" sash.

And, I'd probably still have it on today, too.

 So, what did I do to celebrate the first day of my 38th year?

The day before my birthday, I got my "hair did."  I typically only do this twice a year . . . because I'm high maintenance like that.  But, while I generally don't care too much about the state of my tresses, I do not like to have "roots" on my birthday.  This is my birthday hair:


When I got home, there was a package waiting for me that came all the way from the Aloha state . . . thanks, Wendy!

And, on the actual day commemorating my birth, I began the day with a birthday run with my running buddies (we really need a cute name for ourselves): 

Look how ungorgeous I am before 6:00 a.m. 
I included this picture only because
it's the only one that I could find

We got in a swift seven miles. Since I had big plans to eat my way through my birthday, the extra calories burned were nice to have in my back pocket. 

As we were running, Allison saw something on the road and turned back for it.  Happy Birthday to me!   Meet One-Eyed Willie:

There was a ceremony this evening, and
Spooky Juliet and One-Eyed Willie
are now living in wedded bliss. 

Can you believe that we actually found another doll on the road?!?  Of all the terrific luck!  

When I got home from my run, my kids sang "Happy Birthday" to me, and Awesome Jeff made me a birthday omelet:

An omelet is beyond my culinary skills.  In fact,
I'm really not good with any food that requires flipping
(i.e., omelets, fried eggs, and pancakes).
  If ever you see an omelet on this blog,
it's the workmanship of Jeff or Ihop.
After safely depositing my kids at their schools, I had birthday coffee with this group of contortionists:

After main-lining coffee, I worked a little until it was time to stuff my face again.  Then I met Awesome Jeff (the grey to my goose) and Elizabeth (the peanut to my butter) for a birthday burger at the new Prime Burger Dive:

For dinner, my mom came over and cooked me a birthday spread of roasted chicken and a medley of vegetables. 

It was awesome because she is awesome.  

This is not 'yo momma.
This is JoMomma.

And, of course, my birthday dinner included brussel sprouts!!

brussel sprouts on the left
zucchini, yellow and red peppers, and carrots in the middle
spaghetti squash, cream cheese, and herbs on the right

I also pulled in a nice birthday haul. Here is some of my birthday swag:

And, I typed part of this post on my new iPad.  Aren't Jeff and the kids great?  They totally support my Apple-Early-Adopter addiction.

It was a great day! And, it was just beginning because the birthday festivities continue tonight. I'm dragging some close friends to a new restaurant in town.  Tomorrow, Jeff and I are headed to Tulsa to spend the day with my best friend from college.  I feel like there may be some good pictures to come out of this weekend.

Thanks to everyone for making my birthday a great one. Thanks to Jeff for the kind words yesterday that showed that he really loves me to the core.  And, most importantly, a big thanks to my mom for giving birth to me 37 years ago . . . way to go, Mom!

Another year older,

Jenni (a.k.a. jMo)

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Happy Birthday, JMo!

In celebration of Jenni's birthday, I decided it would be fun to have a guest blogger share his first-hand account of what it's like to live with a fructose-free JMo.  That's right folks; I've turned the keyboard over for the day to Awesome(and/or Grumpy) Jeff.

Happy Birthday, Soul Sister.  

Thank you for being there for me. . . really there for me. . . when it matters. . . like when I'm low on corn or patience. 

Love you lots, EW 

Here goes. . .Lord help us all. 

Jeffrey Moen
Awesome and Grumpy all at once

As all good attorneys should do, I have to start today's post with my own little disclaimer.  I have been called many things on this blog(and in private) by my blushing bride and her blogging buddies-"awesome"(well, of course), "grumpy" (eh, that's probably fair), "grouchy" (also fair), "hot guy doing man work" (yes, you weisenheimers.  She was referring to me), and even "fun-hater" (so NOT true).  However, the words "funny" and "Jeff" don't often collide in the same sentence.  And, since I told Jenni that blogs are only worth reading if they make people laugh, I will be channeling my inner JMo and relying heavily on EW for some serious comedic contributions to this post.  My apologies in advance. . this was not my idea. 

Since today is her birthday, it's only fitting to start by sharing one of my all-time favorite pictures.  It was take during the summer of 2000 when she was a clerk for her current law firm; I believe it was this summer when she actually obtained the nickname JMo.  Yes, she had had a couple (or eight) drinks before the picture was taken; and yes, we have a 3' x 4' (that's in feet) poster of this in our home:

The Original JMo
Jenni is pretty much pure greatness.  So when she comes up with wacky ideas that I fear could alter this greatness (like giving up sugar for 40 days) I tend to get, well maybe, just a little grumpy . . . but just a little. 

When Jenni told me she was giving up sugar (or was it fructose, or both . . . what's the difference . . . whatever) for Lent, I knew it meant more than just cleaning out the cookie jar for 40 days.  One time Jenni told me that she was going to take up knitting, and in no time she had whipped up this little number

This is a bikini that she created from a single strand of yarn (that skill still baffles me)
And, yes she wore it. . . once.

I used to give her a hard time about how expensive all of her hobbies were. So one day she told me that she was going to take up running. I thought, SWEET! How expensive could that possibly be?  Well, thanks to Luke's Locker, and now many years later Lululemon, we're out countless thousands of dollars, and she even convinced me to run with her up and down hills through fire and mud:        

Don't be fooled by my smile.  I despise running.
Always have, always will.
The point is, when Jenni makes up her mind to do something, she goes ALL IN. So, when I heard "sugar-free" for Lent, I knew that the Moen house was in for an entire new menu.  You've seen the pictures (and for the record, she now take pictures of all of our dinner plates ALL THE TIME). Can you believe some of the things we eat?  Seriously?  She's even got Dylan thinking about new dishes we can try. 

Duck-at-the-door soup anyone?

But I have to admit, now that we are three or four weeks into Jenni's latest life-consuming experiment, we've adapted very easily to our new "normal".  It probably doesn't hurt that no matter what Jenni feeds me at home, I can (and do) still go to the office and stuff my face with these little gems.

Damn straight those are GALLON bags of gummy greatness

And despite all of the talk of the craziness in the first two weeks of giving up sugar (what did she call it . . . sugar detox or something . . . I don't know), Jenni never lost her fun-loving spirit, smart-ass mouth, or came at me or the kids like a spider monkey. 

So, all-in all, JMo's little Lenten sacrifice has been a pretty painless experience for everyone involved.  We've enjoyed some dishes we never would have otherwise.  We've all become a little healthier than we were before.  We've had something new to talk about every day.  And most importantly of all, it makes Jenni happy.

Isn't this strikingly similar to the picture from 
twelve years earlier?

And at the end of the day, that is all that matters.  

Happy Birthday, Jenni.  I love you. 


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

I Totally Stunk Up My Parents' House

When you are 17 and your parents leave town, you throw a party.   When you are on the cusp of 37 and your parents leave town, you sneak into their house and roast brussel sprouts.

Now I personally love the aromatic bouquet of roasted brussel sprouts but some people (a.k.a. Grumpy Jeff) find their odor offensive.

Now that is the wrong side of a skunk!

If you, too, live with someone with a sensitive sniffer, you may need to change your approach for preparing sprouts.


How to Roast Brussel Sprouts Jenni-style:

1. Break into someone else's house.

my parents' house where I grew up

2. Preheat oven to 425.

3. Rinse the little gems so that you don't eat dirt and get pinworms.

4. Chop off their tiny little butts.

5.  Spray with Pam or brush or spray with olive oil.

6. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

7. Bake for 45 minutes or so. I like 'em crispy and blackish.

8. Pop a few in your sprout hole to make sure they live up to expectations.

9. Lovingly put them to bed in an odor-proof container.

10. Remove evidence of oven trespass.

11. Bribe home owner's dog to keep your secret.

The things I will do for a Brussel sprout.

What-I-Ate Wednesday:

My breakfast was just the same-old, same-old. Nothing ground breaking here:

Breakfast:  Scrambled egg whites, yellow peppers,
mushrooms, avocado, and cheese;
english muffin with cashew butter
Calories: 357
Fat: 17
Sugar:  4

This was a Dallas day, and I had the good fortune to have lunch with this very special little lady - though my conversation was so riveting that she slept through the whole thing.

I love babies under three months because they are portable and borderline comatose.

Her momma and I ate at Fadi's Mediterranean Grille. I had the veggie platter, which meant that I ate roughly a pound of hummus.

Lunch:  veggie plate
Calories:  who knows?
Fat:  a buttload
Sugar:  minimal
As you can see, I also had some Greek salad, a pasta salad, creamed spinach, pickled beets, and a whole wheat pita that was roughly the size of my head.

I left Fadi's fat and happy - though not as fat and happy as the man with the big spare tire around his waist at the table next to me.  He ate three head-sized-pitas with his lunch. I tried to get a picture of either his plate or his spare tire, but he caught me gawking.

Since my lunch was lacking anything with a face, my requirement for dinner was a big hunk of meat.

Dinner:  NY strip, roasted brussel sprouts and turnips;
steamed green beans
Calories:  414
Fat:  22 g
Sugar:  5 g

My New York Strip was slightly over-cooked for my taste. I thought about refusing it, but since I was the chef . . . that would have meant sending my ass back outside to cook another one. So I accepted it as is.

I had never cooked or knowingly consumed a turnip before, but I was given a free paper sack full of them. I'll try any vegetable once - especially a free one.

Sprouts and Turnips
Grumpy Jeff maintains that turnips are objectively hated by the general public . . . second only to brussel sprouts  . . .  

But, I genuinely liked them.   I thought that they were surprisingly sweet.  What I've determined though is that I'll eat pretty much anything.    I'm like a garbage disposal.

My snacks throughout the day included a tall Starbucks skinny Misto, a Perrier water, popcorn, colby jack cheese, Nut thin crackers, and a glass of wine. 

And there you have it. A full day of good eating.

Pop Quiz:
Do you like turnips?

If so, how do you like them cooked?
- I peeled and roasted them with Ms. Dash.

Do you notice being much hungrier on days when you get in a good workout?
- I ran 7 miles this morning and was starving all day.


Monday, March 26, 2012

Gobble Gobble Burgers

Yesterday, I found some frozen ground turkey in the freezer - left over from some pumpkin turkey chili I made during colder days.

Visit, one of my very favorite 
recipe sites, for this Turkey White Bean Pumpkin Chili 

But, it's not cold now.  In fact, it was so warm and beautiful this weekend that all I wanted to do was grill, and I had a hankering for a burger and some more freezer space. 

I mixed the ground turkey with an egg white, 1/8 cup of panko bread crumbs, and some Southwestern Chipotle Ms. Dash. Then I made tiny little patties for tiny little Turkey sliders.

Calories:  451
Fat:  18 g
Sugar: 6 g
Sodium: 471 mg 

I slapped them on mini-sandwich thins and dressed them up with lettuce, tomato, and avocado. Awesome Jeff had his sliders with Swiss cheese, and I had mine with a wedge of laughing cow cheese.  (That's the weird stuff that you see smeared on top of my burgers.)

They were fantastic! The sweet potato fries were a repeat of Friday night's dinner because Awesome Jeff was taking care of my awesome children and didn't get any fries.

Truthfully, the turkey may have been in the freezer since December . . . and poorly packaged, too. If you are paying attention, then you probably just thought, 'She may have poisoned her entire family.'  But they all seem ok today.

While the turkey burgers were great, I did something else yesterday that was way more mind blowing.


My kitchen lacks a pantry.  It's hard for me to believe that someone actually built a house in 1998 and didn't put in a kitchen pantry, but apparently either the builder or the original owners didn't cook . . . or, at the very least, didn't need to store 40 different spices. 

My pantry-less kitchen where I make a lot mediocre meals
 interspersed with a few fantastic ones

I have a lot of spices - and not all of them are Ms. Dash, I promise.

Becaue I also have popcorn spices.

Everything was just stacked on top of each other creating a very unorganized mess.   I forgot to take a picture.

But, the world is a better place now because of Pinterest where I saw a pin for a similar spice drawer.  Someone had painted baby jar lids with chalkboard paint and then written the names of the spices on the top with chalk.  Inspired, I had a friend start collecting baby food jars for me. 

The chalkboard paint didn't work out for me.  But after some trial and error, I painted the lids flat black and bought some fancy little Martha Stewart labels at Staples.  And, voila! This is my new spice drawer.

No more of these:

I'm a little bit in love with my new spice arrangement.   Okay, to be perfectly honest, I'm a whole LOT in love with it.   I think I might marry it. 

Awesome Jeff was impressed, too . . . with everything except the fact that, due to the chalkboard paint debacle,  I got discouraged and it took me two months to finish this little project.

Have a great Monday, and, what ever you do today, do not search google images for "marry spice."  Just don't do it.   Its a porn trap.