Tag Archives: friends

menu monday: perfect summer BBQ menu

Over Memorial Day weekend we had Greg’s boss and his family over for dinner. We are friends, so it was fun, not like a 1960s sitcom episode where the boss comes to dinner. The weather wasn’t warm enough to eat outside, but it was warm enough to pull out the BBQ for summer and grill our food. I’m so excited it’s BBQ season.

I threw together a menu on Friday and it ended up being so delicious I thought I’d share for anyone planning a summer BBQ. You could also make the chicken in the oven if you aren’t able to BBQ. Everything can be prepped ahead and then the cauliflower can be cooked while the chicken is being grilled. I wasn’t aiming for this, but since I know the family prefers to eat low carb I went with meat and veggies and it ended up being a completely Whole30 compliant meal (minus dessert).IMG_9087_edited-1I only managed to get a photo of the salad, but here’s what we served. Typically I would have put together a fun cocktail as well (well, asked Greg to do so), but we don’t totally have our post-baby hosting act together yet.

Green Chicken from Nom Nom Paleo. This is my favorite chicken recipe right now and while it might seem like a lot of ingredients, you only need to toss them all in a blender to create the marinade. We used bone-in thighs instead of legs and marinaded the chicken for about six hours. Greg followed the grilling instructions from the recipe and they were so good. Probably the best grilling he’s done to date. I think we are going to have a good summer of eating.

Mango Cabbage Salad from Food Network. I wanted something other than a green salad to serve and this looked delicious when I read through it. I’ve been on a mango kick ever since realizing I like them about two years ago (I’m slow sometimes). It ended up tasting delicious as well. I skipped the Serrano chiles since we had a two year old dining with us, but it turns out she loves Sriracha so maybe I should have just gone for it. With the exception of the mango that I sliced by hand, I used the shred blade on my food processor to prep all the other veggies. I made this in the morning and tossed with the dressing about an hour before we ate.

Coconut Cauliflower ‘Rice’ from The Clothes Make the Girl. This recipe is from Well Fed 2 and isn’t available on her site, but here is a very similar version that someone has adapted. This is such a great substitute for rice; it leaves you less stuffed and adds another veggie to your meal. I doubled the recipe (we had some leftover, but I think we wouldn’t have had enough if I didn’t) and it took nearly double the amount of time to cook. The key to cauliflower rice is always lots of salt to give it a little more flavor.

For dessert we had fresh strawberries and WOW brownies. They are gluten free but really tasty. I’ve eaten a lot of gluten free treats over the years that I would not say that about. I find mine at Whole Foods and while they aren’t cheap, it’s way more cost effective for me to pick up pre-made dessert occasionally. I really do not enjoy baking at all and if I buy supplies they end up going bad before I use them.

Happy summer eating! If you’ve got any great grilling recipes, please leave them in the comments. We eat at home a lot more now that Paige has arrived and I’m looking forward to new recipes this summer.

sabbatical days, part 2

Processed with VSCOcam with x1 presetMy second week of sabbatical started the real vacation now that my midterm and class session were behind me. First up for vacation was a tri-city tour starting in Los Angeles for a few days with the Smithskis. Greg and I weren’t able to make Sloane’s first birthday party because I was in class and I wanted to make sure I got a trip in to see her before she’s practically a teenager.

We had no real plans and just hung out and played with Sloane. On Wednesday afternoon Lauren and I took her to a local park. The crappy thing about not living near most of the babies in our life is how much they grow between visits. Sloane was running all over the park, it was crazy. She also did her fair share of playing in the dirt. IMG_5662_edited-1 IMG_5663_edited-1It was unbelievably hot on Thursday (and it takes a lot for me to say that). We tried to do some exploring outside but it was just miserable so we took Sloane home and played in the air conditioning instead.

Who doesn’t love a little book nerd? IMG_5674_edited-1

Lauren and I went out to dinner Thursday night to a fantastic Peruvian restaurant near their house. I can’t remember the last time just the two of us hung out. Typically we’ve got husbands, babies, or other girlfriends. All of which are great, but it was nice to chat and catch up. We’re planning Meet in the Middle: Portland for the Fall. Back in 2009 we met up for a weekend in Paso Robles… clearly we need to work on not waiting five years between girls’ weekends!

sabbatical days, part 1

My job is pretty great for many reasons, one of them being the four-week sabbatical that we earn every three years. I actually became eligible to take mine in the fall of 2012 but waited until this summer. The timing seemed perfect when I realized there were four weeks between my big school weekend/midterm and my brother’s wedding in Jamaica. I could easily fill the two weeks between events and I was definitely ready to step away from the laptop for a bit.

IMG_5613_edited-1Before I jumped into school mode for the first week, we celebrated Soccer Sunday. Our friends, the Kays, hosted a World Cup final party complete with a German brats bar and dolce de leche for dessert. I was rooting for Argentina, but well done Germany. I’m ready for 2018 already. We went home to take care of the dog and then it was time for our second match of the day: Sounders vs. Timbers on Sunday evening. I love a city where 65,000 fans come out to cheer and sunset isn’t until 9pm.

IMG_5624_edited-1My first week was a little more work than fun, but I’m really thankful I had three full days to study for my midterm before class started Thursday. In fact, it worked out so well I’m a little nervous about not having time off before the final in October. I spent my days getting very familiar with 103 color-coded index cards and a few coffee shops around our neighborhood.

IMG_5633_edited-1Class started on Thursday (my studying paid off, the written and practical midterms went very well!) and went through Sunday. My boys were good sports while I left every morning at 8 and returned home around 6:30, most nights too tired to even have a conversation. Who am I kidding, they do just fine without me. As far as Alfred’s concerned I’m a third wheel to his time with Dad.

IMG_5645_edited-1Luckily I gave myself a few down days post-school. I had plans to get a lot done around the house on Monday and Tuesday, but in reality I just recovered from the intense learning. I somehow managed to get myself packed and ready bright and early Wednesday for my next sabbatical adventure, a tri-city tour to visit all my “homes away from home”.

Next up: Three uber-relaxing day in LA with the Smithskis!


the best weekend

I’m not the type to have a lot of acquaintances; I much prefer to have a handful of very close friends that I really invest in. I feel lucky that I survived college, the sorority, and the drama of one’s early and mid-twenties and came out with a group of girls that mean the world to me. By far the hardest part of moving to Seattle was leaving the ones in SF behind.

There’s something about doing everyday life with people that is very intimate. I have a wonderful sister and best friend in Southern California, but it’s been ten years since we did everyday life together. More like 14 with my sister, and she was 11 the last time we lived close to each other. My relationships with Lauren and Becky have evolved through the long distance, with text messages and IMs and weekend visits. We’ve had a decade to figure out how to stay close.

But with my SF girls, it still feels like I should be there, like everything needs to happen in person because that’s all we know. We have shared so many dinners after work and brunches on the weekend, and put I don’t even know how many miles on our running shoes. Somehow a text message doesn’t feel like enough when all you want is to meet someone on the corner of Chestnut and Scott and go for a long walk to work out everything that’s going on in your head.

Being in San Francisco this weekend was so good. I think I smiled the entire 30 hours I was there. The invite for Alyssa’s baby shower came at a particularly low point in December, and at first I dismissed it. I wasn’t upset at the nature of the shower per se, I just wanted to wallow in my own grief and not think about anything fun. Maybe a week later I realized – wait, there is party being thrown at which all or most of the girls would be, it will not cost me much to attend, and I can get there in two hours? Sign me up. I immediately RSVP’d and booked a flight, then looked forward to it for five weeks.

It did not disappoint. To anyone else, this was probably a relatively boring weekend. Baby Barringer was showered for a few hours and the rest of the weekend was just normal. We were in bed by ten on Saturday night and I didn’t even get dressed on Sunday in normal clothes. But we talked and we walked. (So much. I hit 17,000 steps on my FitBit.) We ate. We laughed. We didn’t cry, but that would have been fine if it had happened. It was such a great weekend.

Now I have a new resolve to be thankful for and take advantage of modern technology while I’m in Seattle and to look forward to weekends I get to spend with them in person. Untitled-1

blanket redemption


After the blanket beach towel of 2013, I really needed to prove (to myself?) that I could properly knit a blanket. My good friend Alyssa is having a baby in early March and her baby shower is this coming weekend. In need of a good dose of girl time with a few of my favorite ladies, I decided a few weeks ago to fly down. Before the holidays I had started a baby blanket for her as a gift and I’m so excited I’ll get to give this to her in person at her shower.

I wanted something sweet for a baby girl, but not something overwhelmingly pink and purple. I was totally inspired by this color palette from PurlSoho.com. It’s beautiful, but a little out of my price range. Once I’m a better knitter I might splurge on one of their amazing kits, but for this project I went to Jo-Anne’s with this picture in mind and found similar colors in the Vanna White yarn line (I know, really?). But look at that bright pink, it’s so amazing. Someday!


Photo credit: PurlSoho.com


It’s a bit more square than I intended, but square > beach towel, so we’ll call this an improvement. IMG_7812_edited-1

I also learned a ton from my last blanket. All my “seems” (no idea what they are actually called) are on the back side this time. I figured out how to count ridges so each color band is the same width. There are definitely some mistakes and one small hole in the middle pink color, but I’m really proud of it. IMG_7813_edited-1IMG_7810_edited-1

I’m loving knitting because it’s one of the few hobbies that doesn’t take extra time. I knit when we watch TV, fly, or take a long car drive. It’s easy for me to do because I don’t care to knit anything with an actual pattern, so that might be a different story. It’s also a really easy hobby to pick up only when you have time.

Total cost was $31.96, including new needles in the correct size for the yarn.

Total time is a bit of a guesstimate. I didn’t time the whole thing, but on occasion I timed doing one ridge (two rows, one each back and forth). I found that a ridge takes about 15 minutes. Each color had 23 ridges and there are 7 colors. I hesitate the write this because I don’t want to discourage anyone from trying it out, but that puts the total time to about 2,415 minutes, or just over 40 hours. That sounds like a lot of effort but keep in mind it can take you as long as you need and hours sitting in the car, on a plane, or binge watching TV shows really add up.

throwback thursday

I thought it would be fun to go through my photos and try to find a picture from January from each year in the past. My digital photos start with 2005 and I really had no idea what I would find. I just skipped the year if I didn’t have any pictures from January.

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2006 – my first roast chicken! oh my gosh I totally remember this. i was living alone for the first time (in San Rafael) and always did new recipe Monday.

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2007 – around my birthday on the coast up in marin county.

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2009 – one of my all time favorite SF nights. the night before we ran our first Kaiser half marathon. soo many of our inside jokes came from this night.

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2010 – my birthday/girls night at julie’s. after many bottles of wine.


2011 – so many great pictures from my 30th birthday, but i’ve always really loved this one. five great guys, i’m thankful to have them all in my life.


2012 – sending out save the dates. started to feel really real!


2013 – birthday trip to portland, before we realized puppy plus hotel room was a terrible combination.

This was so much fun, I’m going to try to remember to do it again next month.

mr. and mrs. maciol

My baby little sister is married! We had such a fun weekend celebrating Becky + Arek’s wedding with family and friends. I didn’t take many photos, and even fewer good ones over the weekend. I was too busy enjoying the family (and herding cats at times).

Friday we landed in Long Beach and it was WARM. I immediately asked Greg why we don’t live in Southern California and he had NO GOOD ANSWER. Even his usual “taxes” didn’t quite work when it was seventy something degrees in January. We headed straight to the rehearsal and dinner. Polish food truck for the win. rehersal

Friday morning we woke up after 9+ hours of sleep to overcast skies. Not cool, LA. I headed to the boat for the first time as it was girls’ day at the spa. We all got manicures and pedicures, and those of us who have been to kindergarten already also enjoyed champagne. The littles definitely took to a day of pampering just fine. Anna was on top of her technician like it was her job.

nailsAnd then it was time for the big day. We started getting ready sometime before the crack of dawn. Literally. Meeting my new nephew for the first time and holding a 16 month old in a tux well made up for the early wake-up call. Another champagne toast and we were off… only to wait for the limo bus that was an hour and fifteen minutes late to arrive.

getting ready

Greg managed to track the limo bus down and get him oriented and we were off to the church. They had a fun ceremony that was traditional with a light-hearted priest. Maks decided he had no interest in me holding him down the aisle, so his mama did instead. I think I definitely saw Arek wipe away a tear seeing his two loves walking down the aisle towards him. 

The reception was so much fun. We ate, we danced, we caught up with friends and family. I managed to make what is hopefully my last wedding toast ever and survived. I’m a billion times happy for Becky and Arek and so thrilled we got to take part in their happy day.



NYEE and a meatball bar

Last night was the tenth anniversary of New Years Eve Eve. It was also my fourth one to attend/host, which seems crazy. Perhaps it’s a sign you married the right person when it seems like there’s no way possible you’ve been together for four years already? We had a small crowd this year, just eight of us, but it was nice and low key for a Monday night when half the crowd had to work on Tuesday. For the first time ever, a baby attended NYEE. We also added a white elephant exchange this year and it was pretty hilarious. It was definitely a different party than previous years and I’m sure it will continue to evolve as the years go on.


This is a terribly fuzzy and dark photo, but the only proof I have that humans attended our party.IMG_7671_edited-1

I had a fun idea to make a meatball bar. Seemed perfect since they are bite-sized snack foods that are easy to make ahead of time and reheat for the party. I made then on Sunday then followed the reheating directions before the party; they tasted fine room temp as well. I picked four of the fifteen meatball recipes from Well Fed 2 (bringing my total to six so far); I did switch up some of the meat suggestions to ensure we had a good mix for people’s preferences.


I made beef Thai Curry balls with curry sauce; beef Cuban balls with Lizard Sauce; pork Japanese gyoza balls with an Asian dipping sauce; and turkey Greek balls with a kebab sauce. Just realized it’s kind of funny I make Greek balls with Turkey, not always known as a loving combination. Perhaps the way to world peace is through balls? Everything was tasty (minus the Cuban balls but that is because they had olives and we all know I think olives are the devil’s food).

The meatball recipes are all in the cookbook only as far as I can tell, but try out a few of Mel’s other meatball recipes that are available on her site.

I clearly went way overboard for just eight guests who mostly had already eaten dinner, but now we have a stash of meatballs in the freezer for next week. I also made sweet potato with bacon soup and have a ton leftover so my breakfasts will be something to look forward to the first week of January.

IMG_7666_edited-2Champagne corks + Project Life cards made for cute and free food labels.

Our hosting is done for 2013! Tonight it’s a quiet night on the couch with our yearly take-out of homemade chow mien noodles from Snappy Dragon with a fancy bottle of champagne my parents sent for our first anniversary. I’m sure it will involve (almost finishing) The West Wing, knitting, a sleepy doodle, and probably some coding. What more could you want from NYE? (answer: absolutely nothing)

Happy New Year’s Eve, friends!

becky’s wedding shower

We celebrated Becky’s wedding shower this weekend in southern California. Such a fun weekend of family and friends. My mom and I had a mini girls weekend; we shared a hotel in Irvine and she helped me put the finishing touches on the party. While driving from the airport on Friday night we realized the last time just the two of us stayed in a hotel together was ten years ago. In 2003 we flew to New York together after I accepted an offer with GreenPoint Bank to apartment hunt and get the lay of the land. I wonder what 2023 will bring.

While the weekend was so nice, the pictures are not. Neither my mom nor I took very many. I guess it’s a good sign we were having too much fun to think about photos, but I was hoping for a few more than what I ended up with. First up, the little guy that always steals the show.


I asked Maks to smile so I could take a picture for Uncle Greg. He wanted a more serious photo I guess. After the shower we stopped by to see Maks some more (and have dinner with his mom, sure, but really to see him). He was pretty sleepy and climbed into Grandma’s lap to rest. I’m pretty sure it made her year.

The shower was at the Melting Pot where we had fondu dessert and a champagne toast. I have no pictures of the dessert because at our table we were too busy eating it. The picture below is the only picture I have of the bride to be. IMG_3664_edited-1IMG_3660_edited-1

Becky has such generous friends and family – she has almost a whole new kitchen after the party. I made the flag banner to decorate the gift table and to give to Becky after to use as a Christmas decoration. More on sewing project #2 coming soon.IMG_3662_edited-1IMG_3642_edited-2

We played one game and I also handed out cards with the numbers 1 – 25 on each one. Everyone at the party wrote Arek and Becky a note for that “monthaversary”. Starting with February 4th, I’ll pop one in the mail each month and they will get a fun note of advice, encouragement, or who knows what.IMG_3648_edited-1IMG_3665_edited-1

The favors were mini succulents. I ordered them off of Etsy and they were so cute! I replanted into mini terra-cotta pots and added a thank you flag.

Mom and sister bonding time, I got to catch up with Brittany and Lauren (and see Sloane for a few minutes as an extra bonus!), briefly chat with extended family, and lots of Maksym time. Weekend success.

the week in food: one pot/pan/crockpot recipes

Another 7 days of my Whole30 are down! I’m feeling great. Seriously. This morning Greg asked me why I was so chipper as I bounced around our room forcing him out of bed so we could take Alfred on a long walk. Benefits this week are clear skin and more energy. I also feel like my jeans are looser, but maybe that’s just wishful thinking. Tomorrow is half way and I’m feeling pretty good about things. There’s no possible way to do this without being prepared, but I probably spent less than two hours this weekend and have all my food ready for the week.

This week I made a bunch of recipes that all happened to only use one pot (or pan or crockpot) for the most part. It’s a very busy week both at work and after work, so I went the easy route. Our fridge is full of containers in one meal portions. No real plan for when to eat what, other than to grab what I need for the day on my way out in the morning and that something will be ready to be nuked when I get home. IMG_3461_edited-1

Here’s what I made this weekend and will be chowing down on all week.

Asian ground beef, mushroom, and broccoli slaw ‘stir fry’. I didn’t make it in lettuce cups like the recipe suggested (because I forgot to add lettuce to my grocery list), so I just ate it as a stir fry. One pot, easy clean up, buy sliced mushrooms, shredded carrots, and pre-made broccoli slaw to make this quick and easy. It was incredibly good fresh and decent as leftovers. I recommend making it when you’ll eat most of it in one sitting, but I’ll still happily be having it for lunch a few days this week. Under thirty minute meal, probably even under twenty, I just didn’t pay attention. I made it with turkey because I’m out of ground beef. Until my quarter cow arrives on 11/12. Hell yes.

IMG_3440_edited-1It’s hard to go wrong with these three in one recipe.

IMG_3437_edited-1Next up is my second soup for the fall bucket list, a sweet potato and beef chili (how fun is that recipe graphic? Currently obsessed with this site.). Holy cow this was good. We had it for dinner tonight with a side salad and it got excellent reviews from our friends who were over to watch the Sounders game with us. For the record, Greg changed out of his pajamas, I did not. Good friends who don’t mind if you stay in your pajamas while you make them dinner are one of life’s true blessings. It’s a crockpot recipe, though not great for weekday because you need to put sweet potatoes in with four hours left of cook time. Perfect for a weekend. I forgot to take a picture after it cooled down, but this is a real winner. We ate ours with a few avocado slices and chopped cilantro. IMG_7026_edited-1I didn’t feel like making a breakfast casserole this week and had some frozen cooked chicken that I wanted to use from the freezer. I threw together this hash, minus the eggs, as best as I could recall from memory, then mixed in the few cups of cooked chicken. Breakfast for the week done in about ten minutes.

I made eggs and bacon (sugar free bacon at PCC! whole30 win!) for breakfast this morning and we might have eaten all the bacon. My excuse is that it was our breakfast and lunch and after an hour long walk with the pup. Orange egg yolks are delicious. And nutritious.

IMG_3457_edited-1The other items in my ready-to-go containers are chicken apple sausages (read your labels – you can find clean ones that aren’t super pricey – I was surprised by what I found at Safeway last week) with roasted delicata squash. If you haven’t tried delicatas, pick one up at the store. They make two servings each and are so easy to prepare because you don’t have to peel them. I’ve linked to my new favorite recipe, which I’ve made probably four times in the last two weeks.

We had another pretty quiet weekend. Alfred is pretty much loving how much we’ve been home the last two weeks and being our little shadow. It’s been very much needed weekend down time, but I’m ready for a fun adventure next weekend as one of my favorite ladies ties the knot. Have a lovely week, friends! And happy birthday, mama! xoxo IMG_3424