Texas Summer Trip (Part 1 of 3ish)

We are back from our whirlwind trip to the US.  I am always amazed at how fast a month can go by, but this trip was over-the-top busy.  In 4.5 weeks, our travel plans included:

  • A conference for Brad in Cincinnati
  • A trip for me to DC to surprise my sister at her engagement party
  • A week in DFW to see cousins, and prep for…
  • Kathleen’s, (Brad’s youngest sister), wedding in Dallas
  • Brad and I’s trip to Caneel Bay, St. John, USVI to celebrate our 10th anniversary
  • A few days of “down time” in Amarillo, and THEN
  • Another trip downstate, this time to College Station, for Brad’s cousin Erica’s wedding
  • (And a 10.5 hour car ride back to Amarillo…Texas is a giant state.)

For those of you from Texas, you can probably tell that we spent a fair amount of time in the car.  Thankfully, Brad’s parents let us borrow their suburban to schlep our crew, and all of their stuff, around the great state.  Here is a link to the first album of pictures.

After the brutally cold winter and spring in Ireland, the kids were so excited to wear short sleeves and sandals.  Every day they would wake up and ask, “can we wear shorts AGAIN?!”  They did a lot of playing in the kiddie pool, and running around outside.

Liesl and her diva sunglasses
Liesl and her diva sunglasses
Clearly we're not having any fun
Clearly we’re not having any fun

We traveled on Liesl’s birthday, and Isaac’s birthday was 3 days later, so we did a small family party in Amarillo instead of a party in Ireland.  Brad and I have turned into typical expat parents, because we got them luggage for their birthdays.  I mean, what 3 and 5-year olds don’t just *love* luggage.  What?  Your’s weren’t appreciative either?  The kids got a  “pup tent” from my parents, which my dad set up in the backyard.  They had a great time running from the kiddie pool to the tent and back again.

Liesl and Isaac's new tent!
Liesl and Isaac’s new tent!

The week of Kathleen’s wedding, we stayed in Frisco, with my other sister-in-law, Janell, and her family.  Her boys are close in age to our kids, so the cousins had a great time.  In a profound lapse in judgement, I took the four oldest to the playground by myself one morning.  The kids took it upon themselves to leap off of the playground equipment right as I walked away/wasn’t looking/attending to one of the other kids.  I considered myself lucky that no one injured themselves.

All 4 at the playground, and one adult.  What was I thinking?!
All 4 at the playground, and one adult. What was I thinking?!

Isaac and Liesl, along with their cousins Andrew and Connor, were in Kathleen’s wedding.  We had a lovely rehearsal, where the kids acted like they had never been in a church before. (Winning!) I just prayed that they would behave better during the wedding, and they were great!

At the rehearsal..."who me? Cause trouble?"
At the rehearsal…”who me? Cause trouble?”
Most of the family at the rehearsal
Most of the family at the rehearsal
Our "angels" after the rehearsal
Our “angels” after the rehearsal

As Brad says, “Home is where the PBS is”, which was definitely true on the big day.  The kids were getting restless in the basement, waiting for the mass to start.  Brad started a “Dinosaur Train” on his iPad, and all was well again.

Watching Dinosaur Train before the ceremony
Watching Dinosaur Train before the ceremony
The lovely bride!
The lovely bride!

Unfortunately, we do not have many pics from the wedding, or the reception afterwards.  Too busy celebrating and toasting the happy couple!  Brad did snap this wonderful picture of Liesl and I with his grandparents, HD and Myrtle.  They have been married 61 years!

Liesl and I, with Brad's grandparents, HD and Myrtle.  They have been married 61 years!
Liesl and I, with Brad’s grandparents, HD and Myrtle. They have been married 61 years!

Kathleen & Sebastian are both A&M grads, and their sendoff was everyone waving A&M 12th Man towels.  Clearly Patrick was not amused!

12th Man Aggie sendoff!
12th Man Aggie sendoff!
Get me out of here!
Get me out of here!
The lovely couple!
The lovely couple!

I’ll have more pictures in the next post of Brad and I’s trip to Caneel Bay.

Back to the real world – Menu Plan June 21 – 27

We are back from our trip to the US (more posts on that later), and I am trying to get on top of the chaos in our house.  At this rate, I’ll never get completely unpacked before our next trip! (Not that it hasn’t happened before…noooo…not at this house…)

So, a basic menu to get us through the next week while we try to get back on Irish time, and settled into life here in Dublin.  Most of these recipes are easy, go-to meals.

Menu Plan

Friday – Homemade pizza night – pepperoni, onion, and mushroom.

Saturday – Grilled Polish sausages from our local Polish grocer, with “Green Pancakes” from Plenty.  The pancakes are savory, with spinach, green onions, etc mixed into the batter.  We’ll see how these go over with the kids. Usually they like things that are in patties – we have made zucchini and carrot fritters before, and those were a big hit.

Sunday – Roasted chicken with potatoes, and eggplant tricolore (also from Plenty).  Eggplant tricolore is a salad with roasted eggplant, bell peppers, and tomatoes.  It is a new recipe, so I’ll let you know how it works out.

Monday – it’s back to Meatless Monday.  As much as I love Texas beef, it will be nice to lighten things up a bit on Mondays again.  This Monday we’re having tomato soup with grilled cheese or grilled vegetable sandwiches.  I use the tomato soup recipe from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone that calls for canned tomatoes…because the fresh tomatoes here are nothing to write home about.

Tuesday – Garden-style lasagna from CookingLight.  I have used this recipe for years.  It makes a ton, freezes well, and has a good balance of veggies vs cheesy sauce, so the kids like it as well.  My main alteration to this recipe is using full-fat cottage cheese instead of reduced-fat.  I found that the flavor is much better and the dish is less ‘watery’ than with the reduced fat cottage cheese. (Also, finding low-fat cottage cheese here in Ireland is a bit of a challenge.)

Wednesday – Leftovers Day!

Thursday – Usually frittata day, or maybe quiche or souffle.  It really depends on what we have around at the end of the week, but Thursdays have become our “egg night”.

Lunches – PB&J, white beans on toast (gag – I hate beans, but the kids love them), barley or bulgur salad for me, and something we don’t usually have in Ireland – tuna melts!  Tuna here is mainly sold packed in oil, not water.  I found some today (at Lidl, of all places!) that is packed in water, so I bought a few cans to try it out.

Here’s to a good week, wherever you may be!


Menu Plan – April 15 – 19

We’re back from a long weekend in Spain, taking in some much needed Vitamin D (via the sun!)  We ate wonderful Spanish food and drank great wine, and spent three days on the beach of the Mediterranean Sea.  More on our trip later this week, but for now, below is the abbreviated menu plan for this week, since I’m already behind:

In the box this week:  None. We cancelled our vegetable delivery this week because we were out of town.

Meatless Monday – Frittata with potatoes and onion, and topped with goat cheese I bought at a local farmer’s market last week.  Served with a bag of spring salad mix.

Tuesday – Roasted chicken with potatoes and broccoli.  I use Ina Garten’s recipe as a basic starting point for roasted chicken. Depending on if I have time, I might make an onion galette, from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone.   Roasted chicken was on the menu last week, but we decided to make polenta-crusted fried chicken instead. It.was.awesome.  It’s a good thing we don’t make fried chicken often!

Wednesday – Shepherd’s pie (made last week and frozen), along with leftover chicken and vegetables.  I have a meeting Wednesday evening, and will conveniently miss shepherd’s pie, round 2. Darn.

Thursday – ‘Friday night pasta’.  We found this recipe when we were living in Dallas, and we’ve always called it ‘Friday night pasta’, I think because the article it was attached to was similarly titled.  If I can find decent Italian sausage (which is fairly difficult to find in Dublin), I’ll put it in this dish.  If not, I’ll just substitute more olives and tomatoes, and maybe some fresh spinach.  This dish is also good with a side of steamed mussels.

Friday – Homemade pizza.  We traditionally make homemade pizza on Fridays, and top it with some of the veggies that come in the delivery Friday morning.  I make my own pizza sauce in bulk and freeze it in Bonne Maman jam jars.  One jar = one pizza.

Next week, we’ll be back into a regular schedule, and I’ll post a more detailed plan.