Sunday, May 10, 2009

Simply A Mother of a Weekend

I saw so much of my in-laws this weekend. It's a good thing that they are absolutely amazing folks. You know how television sitcoms are always portraying in-laws as horrible monster-people? Mine are nothing like that. Quite the contrary -- they are the most encouraging, loving, God-trusting individuals that I know. They have been an incredible blessing to me since the moment we met. I love them!

We started out the in-law-ing on Friday night by playing hosts in our fabulous new house. It was quite fun having guests over in our mostly unpacked home for the first time, and of course my in-laws were gracious, as always. I put together a delicious and easy meal.

Once again, the Crock-Pot earns a gold star in my book, this time for tasty salsa chicken! I tossed three or four frozen chicken breasts in the slow cooker, and poured almost a whole sixteen ounce jar of raspberry chipotle salsa over the top, then set it to cook on low for seven or eight hours. The chicken tasted great, as if I had slaved over the sweltering stove-top to get it just right -- only I didn't! I love easy meals. I served the chicken with shredded cheddar, sliced olives, and Quark as garnishes. Fresh green beans, a salad, and both plain and lime varieties of tortilla chips with optional mango peach salsa rounded out the meal. Yum!

Another quick and simple item that I incorporated into the meal was mint green tea. Sounds complicated, as if it took hours to brew to perfection, right? Guess again! I "made" this tea in about twenty seconds. You can, too!

Easy-Peasy Mint Green Tea

1 large bunch of fresh mint
1 gallon of your favorite green tea (I used Arizona's decaffeinated diet green tea)

Purchase green tea and fresh mint. Drive home. Wash mint. Stuff mint into the jug of green tea. Shake a little, just for good measure. Chill, then serve, preferably in tall, pleasantly-shaped glassware. Enjoy a refreshing sigh of contentment, complete with minty clean breath.

I love meals that are easy to make, healthy for my body, and that taste good. And then top all that off with a pleasant evening shared with family. Mealtimes don't get much better than that.

Speaking of nutrition and healthiness, this dinner also served as an excellent pre-triathlon fueling. My youngest sister-in-law proved this by taking the local YMCA's triathlon by storm on Saturday afternoon! The Best Husband Ever and I turned out to cheer her on as she swam, biked, and ran her way through the beautiful day's course.

This girl is absolutely amazing. This was not her first triathlon, and she is a seasoned runner. However, she apparently decided to partipate in this triathlon on a whim and did not do an ounce of training for it. If I tried that, I would not only be terrified of the event, but also probably drown about two laps into the pool component. But did my sister-in-law freak out? Did she flail about like an ill-fated platypus in the water? No way! Instead, she 100% rocked. Nice job, little sister!

It was a very pleasant way to round off our Saturday. (The Best Husband Ever had started the morning by visiting the newly-opened farmer's market, then heading to Bernice's Bakery for treats -- a cinnamon nut croissant for me and caramel roll for him -- and Scrabble. I'm very proud of our game, but forgot to get a shot of the final board! There were definitely some excellent plays on both sides, though! We then did some gratuitous puppy-fondling at the pet store, checked out the student art show that my class created a rad robot for, then hitting Costco for produce and lunch.)

I really enjoy attending athletic events for a number of reasons. Of course it was fun to support my sister-in-law. It's also nice to cheer on all the participants, though. There's a lovely sense of community and camaraderie at such events that's so refreshing. Also, watching people sweating like crazy in the beautiful, if tenuous, spring weather motivates me. I couldn't help but go for a run around my hilly new neighborhood upon returning home. After a quick stretch, I tested out the Best Husband Ever's newest "toy," a reel mower. I give it two thumbs up!

Of course Sunday was another day full of family time. How could it not, with it being Mother's Day and all? After church and some errands, we went over to my in-laws' for a delicious light lunch. My mother-in-law had roasted a turkey, and we each put together our own turkey paninis which we then crisped on a skillet. I spread my sourdough bread with mango chutney, then layered turkey, roasted red peppers, and red onion inside. Paired with heaps of fresh fruit and veggies, a homemade white bean dip, bean salad, and baked potato chips, it tasted amazing. Once again I find myself loving how easy good food is to put together.

After one more fast in the early afternoon, the hubby and I again headed back to hang with the family. This time it was in honor of my niece's fourth birthday. She made out with some cute clothes, fab pink shades, jewelry and a jewelry box, Dora the Explorer roller skates, and some books (from us -- Skippyjon Jones and Is Your Mama a Llama?, two of my favorite picture books). We shared some homemade cupcakes before heading back to the house to do some laundry, mow, organize, and putter around with the potted plants. It was a good day, and a great weekend.

Between our copious visits with my in-laws, I did also manage to chat with my own parents. They were down in southern New Jersey doing some work on my grandma's beach apartment there. Aside from rehanging window coverings and picking up my brother from college, they did not have any big weekend plans. It was nice to be able to sit on the back porch and chat as I soaked up the sun.

My mom and I don't always get along. We really know how to push one another's buttons. Things are getting better between us, I hope, even if it is slow going (with a lot of that due to me). But I truly appreciate and love her. After all, she is my mother. Plus, she's extremely intelligent, literate, gentle and kind, hard-working, an overcomer, crafty and creative, handy with a needle and thread (or yarn and a crochet hook, for that matter), and she loves me and my younger brother. I'm blessed to know her. Thank you, Mom! Here's a shot of her being silly with me at a visit to a nearby ghost town back when I first moved to Montana (this is one of my favorite memories of her -- we were goofing off and pretending to be ghosts):

I love you, Mom. Thank you. You are a wonderful woman through and through.

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"I am glad you are here with me."
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King