Have renovation regret? Let West Elm + Snap Kitchen make it better

I wasn’t kidding when I said we’re doing yet another home renovation, but oh man, I wish I was.

Here’s the gist: We eat and feed the baby and watch “The Night Of” and do work projects all while lying in bed, because the rest of our furniture is packed away. A flimsy sheet of plastic separates the only livable room – our former living room – from the clouds of construction dust.

Essentially, we’re living in a studio apartment with our 7 month old and the cat.


And when you have two adults, a baby, a cat, and everyone’s belongings crammed into an 11-by-13-foot room, you try to get out of the house as often as possible. Seriously, we downloaded Pokemon Go and trained the shit out of those critters just to have another excuse to stay outside past Wilder’s bedtime.

So when we got invited to a picnic by West Elm and Snap Kitchen, we obviously jumped at the opportunity. A delicious lunch, gorgeous decor AND a few hours away from our one-room living situation? Thank you, Jesus.

I mean, this is WAY better than our current dining room situation, AKA our living room.

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How dramatic does this grapewood branch look on this wooden dining room table? I can’t imagine it would be that hard to pair it with some green moss or mountain laurel and a few faceted brass lanterns, and VOILA! You now live within the pages of a West Elm catalog.

And can we talk about gold flatware for a moment? I never felt particularly drawn to it, but then I went to this picnic and sat at this table, and now I’m all like, “Should I scour resale shops for some of this stuff, or what?” I liked it a lot, you guys. I felt fancy using it, too.
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And speaking of things that are beautiful and inspiring and practically life-affirming, check out that plate o’ deliciousness from Snap Kitchen.

You guys! SNAP KITCHEN IS THE SHIT. I’m somewhat ashamed I’d never had it before, especially because there’s a location not far from my office in the Chicago Loop, but oh man. Everything about this plate – the curried chicken salad sandwiches, the Summer Fling salad with coconut chicken, the fresh veggies and hummus and the juices and espresso I didn’t take pictures of because I was too busy chugging them – is totally recommended by yours truly.

So go there. Go there for lunch TODAY. And let me know when so I can meet you there, because it really was that delish. And did I mention it’s healthy, too? BECAUSE IT IS.

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Do you guys have any West Elm faves? Or if it’s too close to lunch to think about home decor, what about food faves? I tell ya what, I could eat about 10 things on that Snap Kitchen menu right about now … it’s been that kind of day.

Lazy girl recipe: 15-minute Modern Table Meals

My first Lazy Girl Recipe was a hit, so I decided to post another … only THIS one’s even easier, because it comes in a package.

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OK, I know what you’re thinking: A packaged dinner doesn’t really count as cooking. Well maybe to you, but in my world, if you measure some stuff and bring it to a boil, IT COUNTS. And FYI, it counts for double – sometimes even triple – if you’re sick/pregnant/a new parent/living in a construction zone. I’m all about justifying Lazy Girl Recipes, even if they do come in a package.

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Our situation: I was pregnant, hungry all the time, with a torn-up kitchen. We were doing dishes in our BATHROOM SINK, for crying out loud.

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Understandably, the last thing I wanted to do after work was cook, and the other last thing I wanted to do was a mountain of dishes in the bathroom. And so, we kept it simple – and healthy! – with Modern Table Meals. The pasta is made of LENTILS, you guys. If that’s not healthy, I don’t know what is.

Step 1: Open the bag. Brush the construction dust off the stovetop and boil those lentil noodles with the accompanying veggies. Stare at cute cat atop butcher block island.

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Step 2: Open the powdered sauce packet. Mix it with some oil and water.modern table meal - fancykins 7

Step 3: Pardon the construction dust. Drain the lentil noodles, then mix the boiled stuff with the sauce you just mixed.modern table meal - fancykins 8

Step 4: Serve on high-class paper plates to avoid doing more dishes in the bathroom. Best with a fancy side of buttered bread, a hammer and a drill.modern table meal - fancykins 9 modern table meal - fancykins 10

That is seriously it. Dinner’s served in just 15 minutes, you’ve suppressed your hunger in a healthy manner, it actually tastes good, and you’ve barely messed up the construction zone … I mean kitchen. And you don’t even need a working sink to do it!

Have you ever tried Modern Table Meals? Don’t run out and buy them for full price just yet – download Target’s Cartwheel app and keep your eyes peeled for a sale. Just a few weeks ago, they were just $1.83 EACH with the Cartwheel discount! Healthy, cheap, fast, delicious … seriously, if you don’t grab a few of these as pantry backups, you’re not living your best life.

What are YOU having for dinner tonight?

In which we attend a breastfeeding class, then I have strange dreams all night

James and I realized we were in trouble when all the pregnant people around us started going to baby classes. “Sign up for baby classes,” they said. “You’ll learn about babies,” they said.

So, because James and I know literally nothing about newborns and babies, neither of us having spent much time around either, we decided to sign up for a few classes. Also, our doctor was really harping on us about it, and who wants to piss off the person who’s going to eventually be sweeping your membranes and doing cervical checks, both which I’ve heard are nothing short of a nightmare?

Image (2)A shot from our babymoon in Palm Springs, which illustrates how I’ve felt about pregnancy over the last few weeks: fast, blurry, rocky. More pictures from our trip coming later this week, because a weirdly named pregnancy vacation is a great excuse to travel and chill out for a few days.

And so, there we were, bundled up and headed to Prentice for an after-work class called “Breast is Best.” No, really; I can’t make this shit up. Over the course of three hours, we did the following:

- Watched breastfeeding videos of babies and moms who make the whole thing seem entirely too easy.

- Learned about latches, because apparently there are different types (we had no idea) (this is seriously a whole new world).

- Held a weighted doll up to my boob in what is known as the Football Grip.

- Got afraid of engorgement and infection and cracked nipples and blocked ducts and basically everything else that could go wrong.

- Died of hunger because we’re insane and didn’t eat dinner before class and weren’t dismissed until 9 p.m.

Class ended, and on the walk to the car, James admitted that he was feeling a lot better about this whole baby thing, having sat through three hours of learning how to feed this living, breathing being who will (very soon) make an appearance in our lives.

Me, on the other hand? Not so much. I’m really, really afraid of how breastfeeding is going to fit in my life and whether it will hurt, and what happens if the baby won’t latch and I’m tired and we’re both hungry and nobody can stop crying and James is back at work and our first-floor tenants are so fed up they break the lease and move out?

The only cure for these thoughts is, obviously, Portillo’s. I needed a hot dog and a chocolate cake shake, stat. I get really weird when I’m pregnant and hungry – not sure what my excuse was pre-pregnancy, but let’s just go with it – which is why I proceeded to then have a total meltdown in the car in the Portillo’s drive-thru.

I ugly-cried because I am afraid of my baby. I’m so, so terrified of all of the FEELINGS swirling around inside me, and the unanswered questions I have about parenthood and this kid and how our lives are going to change, and whether we will be able to manage. Hell, I’m even scared of my belly button popping out the rest of the way. But voicing all of this to James at Portillo’s as the drive-thru attendant took our order and (thankfully) ignored my blubbering was helpful. So were the hot dogs, and so, especially, was the cake shake.

And then, that night, after we got home from a whirlwind of emotion and education about things I didn’t even realize my boobs could do, I fell asleep and dreamed I breastfed my cat. MY CAT. What in the ever-loving hell, you guys. I don’t even know. Pregnancy dreams are real and, apparently, they’re horrifying.

What’s going on in YOUR lives lately?

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