2018/2019 Fall TV is here!

I’m a little behind in my highly-anticipated annual post on fall television. Please accept my apologies, friends. And for those shows that have already debuted? That’s what OnDemand is for.

What am I watching now? As I write this, I’m watching the series finale of Shooter (USA). Ballers (HBO), The Purge (a new one from USA), and Barry (Showtime) have also been in rotation. It seems like every year I’m less and less excited about the new shows. This year is no different. Maybe you know something I don’t? Tell me what I should be watching and help get me jazzed!

What will I be watching? Welcome back to my returning favorites:

  • The Deuce, HBO (Sept. 9, 8 p.m.)
  • Bull, CBS (Sept. 24, 10 p.m.)  
  • The Goldbergs, ABC (Sept. 26, 8 p.m.)
  • Modern Family, ABC (Sept. 26, 9 p.m.)
  • The Good Place, NBC (Sept. 27, 8 p.m.)
  • Law & Order: SVU, NBC (Sept. 27, 9 p.m.)
  • How to Get Away With Murder, ABC (Sept. 27, 10 p.m.)
  • The Simpsons, FOX (Sept. 30, 8 p.m.)
  • Superstore, NBC (Oct. 4, 8 p.m.)
  • Riverdale, The CW (Oct. 10, 8 p.m.)
  • House of Cards, Netflix (Nov. 2)

Two of my favorites will be returning mid-season:

  • Good Girls, NBC
  • Jane the Virgin, The CW 

And now for the new shows I’ll be adding to the DVR and following until I decide I hate them:

Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan, Amazon (Aug. 31)

Author Tom Clancy introduced the character of Jack Ryan in a series of books before Ryan headed to the big screen in several films. Now the former U.S. Marine is featured in an episodic series for the first time, with John Krasinski portraying Ryan in this Amazon original thriller that centers on Ryan as an up-and-coming CIA analyst. He is thrust into a dangerous field assignment for the first time and uncovers a pattern in terrorist communication. That launches him into the middle of a dangerous gambit with a new breed of terrorism that threatens destruction on a global scale.

Kidding, Showtime (Sept. 9, 10 p.m.)

Jeff, aka Mr. Pickles, is an icon of children’s television, a beacon of kindness and wisdom to America’s impressionable young minds; when his family begins to implode, Jeff finds that no fairy tale, fable or puppet can guide him through the crisis.

The Good Cop, Netflix (Sept. 21)

The Good Cop is an upcoming American television drama created by Andy Breckman based on the Israeli show of the same name created by Erez and Tomer Aviram and produced by Yoav Gross. It will consist of ten episodes, and will be released on Netflix.

New Amsterdam, NBC (Sept. 25, 10 p.m.)

Dr. Max Goodwin is brilliant, charming — and the new medical director at America’s oldest public hospital. While he’s set on tearing down the bureaucracy to provide exceptional care, the doctors and staff are not so sure. They’ve heard this before, and no one else has delivered on those promises. Not taking no for an answer, Max disrupts the status quo and proves he will stop at nothing to breathe new life into this understaffed, underfunded and underappreciated hospital — the only one in the world capable of treating Ebola patients, prisoners from Rikers Island and the president of the United States all under one roof — and return it to the glory that put it on the map. Inspired by Bellevue in New York City.

Single Parents, ABC (Sept. 26, 9:30 p.m.)

This ensemble comedy follows some single parents as they lean on each other to help raise their 7-year-old kids and maintain some kind of personal lives outside of parenthood. When the parents in the group meet Will, a 30-something guy who’s been so focused on raising his daughter that he’s lost sight of who he is as a man, they see just how far down the rabbit hole of PTA, parenting and princesses he has gone. The friends decide to band together to get him out in the dating world and make him realize that being a great parent doesn’t mean sacrificing everything about his own identity.

A Million Little Things, ABC (Sept. 26, 10 p.m.)

It has been said that friendship isn’t one big thing, it’s a million little things. That is certainly true for a group of friends from Boston who bonded under unexpected circumstances. Some have achieved success, others are struggling in their careers and relationships, but all of them feel stuck in life. After one of them dies unexpectedly, it’s just the wake-up call the others need to finally start living. Along the way, they discover that friends may be the one thing that can save them from themselves. 

I Feel Bad, NBC (Oct. 4, 9:30 p.m.)

Emet is the perfect mom, boss, wife, friend and daughter. OK, she’s not perfect. In fact, she’s just figuring it out like the rest of us. Sure, she feels bad when she has a sexy dream about someone other than her husband, David, or when she pretends not to know her kids, Lily and Louie, when they misbehave in public, or when she uses her staff to help solve personal problems. But nobody can have it all without making a few mistakes — and Emet’s realizing that as long as she doesn’t become her mother, it’s all going to work out pretty great.

Camping, HBO (Oct. 14, 10 p.m.)

An obsessively organized and aggressively controlling woman gathers together her meek sister, her holier-than-thou ex-best friend, and a free-spirited tagalong for a back-to-nature camping trip to celebrate her husband’s 44th birthday.

The Rookie, ABC (Oct. 16, 10 p.m.)

Starting over isn’t easy, especially for small-town guy John Nolan, who, after a life-altering incident, is pursuing his dream of becoming an LAPD officer. As the force’s oldest rookie, he’s met with skepticism from some higher-ups who see him as just a walking midlife crisis. If he can’t keep up with the young cops and the criminals, he’ll be risking lives — including his own — but if he can use his life experience, determination and sense of humor to give him an edge, he may just become successful in this new chapter of his life.

The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Netflix (Oct. 26)

As her 16th birthday nears, Sabrina must choose between the witch world of her family and the human world of her friends; based on the “Archie” comic. (Think Sabrina the Teenage Witch meets Riverdale!)

Grand Hotel, ABC (mid-season, likely 2019)

Eva Longoria executive produces this bold, provocative drama set at the last family-owned hotel in multicultural Miami Beach. Charismatic Santiago Mendoza owns the hotel, while his glamorous second wife, Gigi, and their adult children enjoy the spoils of success.The hotel’s loyal staff round out a contemporary, fresh take on an upstairs/downstairs story. Wealthy and beautiful guests bask in luxury, but scandals, escalating debt and explosive secrets hide beneath the picture-perfect exterior. The show is based on the Spanish series.

The Gilded Age, NBC (mid-season, likely 2019)

When the population of the US doubled at the end of the 19th century, transforming America, disparities between rich and poor sparked passionate debate. Food, coal, steel and oil made fortunes for some, but seldom for the workers on the front lines of industry.

Abby’s, NBC (mid-season, likely 2019)

The oddball cast of characters that hang out at Abby’s believe everyone needs a bar to call home. Theirs just happens to be an unlicensed watering hole in Abby’s backyard, where the drinks are cheap and the laughs abound. But what really makes this place so special is Abby. She’s a tough cookie with no time for nonsense. She doesn’t allow cellphones, earning a seat at the bar takes time, and losing a challenge means drinking a limey, sugary, non-beer cocktail — and her regulars wouldn’t have it any other way.

Set those DVRs and tell me what I should be watching to help get me jazzed for the new shows!

Our Buffalo summer top 5 list

Now that we’re officially into summer, and with this being our first summer in Buffalo, we put together our Buffalo summer top 5 list: (in no particular order)

1. Eat local: berry picking & shop the farmer’s market

Brandon and I have been picking berries for years — blueberries and raspberries are our favorites, since the picking is easy (no bending required) — and Western NY has a ton of u-pick farms. Last summer we picked raspberries, apples, and pumpkins and we went strawberry-picking a few weeks ago — perfect for a 3 foot tall individual… far less bending…

Strawberry picking at Greg's U-Pick Farm in Clarence NY

Berry picking is in Michael’s blood!

Strawberry picking at Greg's U-Pick Farm in Clarence NY

Yum! Strawberries!

Strawberry picking at Greg's U-Pick

Michael loved strawberry picking

We’ve also been loving all of the farmer’s markets in WNY and have made a point to buy whatever fruits and veggies (that we’re not picking) at the local farmer’s markets. We’re having fun and really enjoying the food!

2. Patio happy hours 

Winter in Buffalo wasn’t as bad as we expected (knock on wood!) but now that summer is here — there wasn’t a spring, it was skipped this year — we’re ready to enjoy the heat and humidity that is summer in Buffalo. We’re looking forward to tackling this (year old) list of patio happy hours this summer. Sun + drink & food specials + kid in school = an excellent time.

3. Camping 

We’re already making progress on this item with our recent camping trip at Letchworth Park. It’s been 10+ years since I camped and was Michael’s first time. All-in-all, we enjoyed it. It was ~10 degrees colder than we expected at night, so we have a better idea of what to pack for next time. Also, friendly skunks and raccoons aren’t cool.

Letchworth State Park 2018

Father’s Day camping trip to Letchworth State Park

We’re looking forward to checking out: Four-Mile Creek State Park, the Adirondacks (maybe Cranberry Lake with Michael’s BFF?!), around the Finger Lakes (maybe some glamping through The Quiet Place?) and any other parks you recommend in the comments below.

4. Pool time 

We moved to Buffalo and discovered the splash park with only a week left of summer. Michael loved it and was so excited for his first visit on the 4th of July. The hours are a little wonky and really cut into nap time, but we’ll get there as often as we can!

Clearfield Pool

Michael’s new happy place

5. Play tourist

Buffalo was ranked one of the 52 places to visit this year by the New York Times. While my job allows me to drive around and explore a lot, it’s not quite the same without my boys. So, I’ve been keeping track of places I want to show to them. Here are of a few of the places I’ve already found and some that I’m eager to explore:

What am I missing? Fill me in, Buffalo. We’re still new here and know we have a ton left to do!

National Doughnut Day {2018}

This week we’ll celebrate National Doughnut Day on Friday, June 1.

It seems like there is a new National ____ Day every day, but this is a holiday we can really get behind as doughnuts are some of our favorite foods.

In Seattle, we had our favorite shops and doughnuts: Top Pot (maple old-fashioned, apple fritter) and Daily Dozen Doughnuts (assorted dozen or a dozen sprinkled).

We love Daily Dozen Doughnuts so much they made an appearance in our wedding photos! {Photo by Mike Fiechtner Photography}

We were sad to leave them, but pleased to find that Buffalo is a doughnut city too! Buffalo also fancies itself an expert in wings (duh), pizza (the greasier, the better), and ice cream (it’s so good! That’s for another post!), among others.

We’ve sampled most of the doughnut-eries in Buffalo and Donut Kraze is hands-down our favorite shop. Brandon doesn’t have a favorite doughnut yet and always tries the classic or seasonal favorites. Michael always gets the white cake doughnut with frosting and sprinkles. I opt for the blueberry old-fashioned (it’s like eating just the crispy parts of a blueberry muffin) and a bagel egg sandwich that I share with Michael.

Weekend breakfast goals.

Michael and his favorite breakfast

As you get ready to celebrate National Doughnut Day the best way you know how, let me offer some ideas and recipes I found on the internet that are sure to be your new favorites:

Travel the Ohio Donut Trail with us? We’re legitimately looking into a trip…

S’more doughnuts

Triple dipped chocolate peanut butter doughnuts: Two of Brandon’s favorite flavors!

Catnip doughnut with pink frosting: I met the owner of this Etsy shop at Craft Camp last year and fell in love with her catnip toys, especially this doughnut!

If you still haven’t had your fill of doughnuts yet, keep reading some of my favorite doughnut posts:

{2017/2018} Fall TV updates: What I’m still watching and going to miss

Every September I write about my hopes and dreams for the upcoming fall TV season. Read last year’s post here.

And then around this time every year, as the shows are wrapping up for the season, I take some time to reflect on what I thought of the shows, and how I feel about their fate to return for next season. Read last year’s RIP fall TV post here.

What am I watching now? As I write this, I’m catching up on For the People. I’ve also been engrossed in Riverdale, Westworld, and Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.

Some of my favorites that left or likely will be leaving after this season: 

  • Vice Principals
    • It was only meant to be two seasons and got weird here and there, but I still miss it.
  • Scandal
    • It was time. I was surprisingly unfilled by the finale.
  • Designated Survivor
    • I figured it was nearing the end when they killed off Alex last season, but I still enjoy it!
  • Great News
    • I was fond of this show but never made it a priority. I guess I wasn’t the only one.
  • Quantico
    • I’m catching up on the current season and it’s weird. It’s time.
  • Timeless
    • This show is cute! I hope it stays on!!
  • Shades of Blue
    • I watched the first season sort of. No loss here.

And those who newbies that couldn’t make it work:

  • The Crossing
    • We’re catching up on this show and it’s good, but I’m definitely not hooked.
  • Law & Order: True Crime
    • The Mendez Brothers series was interesting. I’d like to see more stories.
  • 9JKL
    • This show was sort of cute, but ridiculous. It was time.
  • Alex, Inc.
    • I intended to watch this show but then didn’t. I guess I wasn’t the only one!
  • For the People
    • It is good but it does seem like it’s missing the mark. Maybe they’ll come back and turn it around?
  • Ghosted
    • Such potential. Such a disappointment.
  • Life Sentence
    • I thought the show was cute, and I’ll miss it. Lucy Hale’s duck lips though? Not right.
  • The Mayor
    • I gave up on this show less than one episode in. It was bad.

So, what’s on-tap for the summer TV viewing?

  • Nashville returns June 7
  • The Bold Type returns June 12
  • Young & Hungry returns June 20
  • Take Two premieres June 21
  • Westworld wraps up June 24
  • Making It premieres July 31 (I’ll still watch, even though I’m not on it. Jerks.)
  • Ballers returns August 12

Above renewal assumptions informed by Zimbio.

Tell me what else I should be watching!

Mother’s day “flowers” {last-minute gift idea}

Still looking for the perfect gift or card for your Mom this Mother’s day? Look no further!

Presenting a special bouquet of flowers:

Mother's day bouquet of hand print flowers

My Mother’s day bouquet

These are really easy to make:

  1. Squirt out your paint – we used Michael’s Crayola washable tempera paints
  2. Take subject’s hand
  3. Paint subject’s hand. Work quickly depending on age and patience level of subject.
  4. Press subject’s hand onto paper.
  5. Let dry.
  6. Add some foliage (stems and leaves) and cut out or back with additional paper.

And if you’re a visual learner:

Handprint flowers | Mother's Day

Prep your materials.

Handprint flowers | Mother's Day

Painting your subject.

Handprint flowers | Mother's Day

Stamp, stamp, stamp.

Handprint flowers | Mother's Day

Hand prints: complete!

Handprint flowers | Mother's Day

And then when the hand prints turn into painting…

Happy Mother’s day!

Buffalo Botanical Gardens

As we continue to adjust to the city of never-ending winter, I mean, Buffalo, we went on a mission to find spring a few weeks ago.

We didn’t have to go far, just 30 minutes south from our house, to find the Buffalo Botanical Gardens.

Buffalo Botanical Gardens

We found spring!

Stopping to smell the flowers

Cheese!

Warmth and pretty, pretty flowers!

Family photo!

To be fair, this post was drafted last weekend during our freezing rain bout, which was then followed by our first 70 degree day in exactly six months, and there is snow in the forecast tomorrow!

I’ve been told that it has snowed plenty of times in May here, so I’m not putting away my snow clothes quite yet, but I thoroughly enjoyed this week’s dose of vitamin D!

 

 

 

 

 

Our current Instant Pot favorites {April 2018}

Even though we hauled our Instant Pot across the country with us on our big drive last summer, it took me a little bit of time to warm up to it.

While it’s nice to be able to saute, slow cook, pressure cook, etc in one dish, the time needed to get up to pressure (15+ minutes) is annoying and makes weeknight IP’ing (as the cool kids are saying) more difficult.

Nonetheless, I’ve persevered and have been actually enjoying our Instant Pot lately and found a few recipes I’d like to share here (and keep on record for quick reference):

Urvashi Pitre’s Instant Pot Butter Chicken from the New Yorker

We pair ours with naan, jasmine rice, and roasted cauliflower with slivered almonds and raisins.

Delicious, delicious IP butter chicken

Instant Pot Salisbury Steak With Mushroom Gravy by Live Simply

We nestle these Salisbury steaks in a bed of creamy, garlic mashed potatoes with a veggie on the side.

It’s not that photogenic of a dish and I always devour it right away, so no photos. Please use your imagination.

Instant Pot Beef and Broccoli by Savory Tooth

Michael has a soy sensitivity, so when we can avoid it, we do. Thankfully, coconut aminos exist and are delicious as a soy sauce substitute in this recipe. We sub them 1:1 and the sauce tastes so much like “normal” sauce!

IP Broccoli beef

I electronically hoard other Instant Pot tips, tricks, and recipes on Pinterest too. Check them out. And please share some of your IP favorites for me to try out!

And the Oscar goes to… YOU for hosting a party!

Tonight is the big night! We normally have a party in honor of the Academy Awards, but this year is different. The east coast time zone combined with a 2 year old with an early-ish bedtime has really done a number on our party hosting. (I’m looking at you too, Super Bowl!)

If I WERE hosting a party though, I would print out this ballot, these bingo cards, and create a menu that looks something like this…

Our Oscar party spread, circa 2017

View our other annual Oscar party recaps here. {2015} {2014}

And a bonus photo of Michael from the 2016 show. What a round little cutie!

Michael getting the statues ready for our 2017 party

 

The BEST lactation cookies

Lactation cookies: a reason to eat cookies? Yes, please!

As a breastfeeding working mom I had a little help in keeping my supply up: COOKIES!

When I was pregnant with Michael my love of chocolate chip cookies greatly intensified and I had at least one a day. My obsession didn’t end with pregnancy and my sweet craving — especially for chocolate chip cookies — has stuck with me ever since.

When Michael was still nursing, I tried a million recipes for lactation cookies — cookies with a purpose! An excuse to eat even more! — and my favorite one came from Milkin’ Mamas, but the link doesn’t work anymore, so I’m re-typing it here.

You know a recipe is legit if it’s posted in the lactation room at work and dated almost two years prior! Enjoy!

The BEST lactation cookies (Makes a lot of cookies! Bake extras to share with your lactation room friends! Freeze what you don’t want to bake now!)

  • 2 T flax seed meal
  • 4 T water
  • 1 c butter, soften to room temperature
  • 1.5 c firmly packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs, room teperature
  • 1 t vanilla (I usually use don’t measure and just add a steady pour…)
  • 2 c flour
  • 3-4 T brewer’s yeast
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1 t salt
  • 3 c rolled oats
  • 1 c chocolate chip (I prefer milk chocolate!)

Steps:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the flax seed meal and water. Let stand for 5 minutes. (This simulates an egg in texture for baking.)
  3. In a large bowl or mixer, beat butter and brown sugar.
  4. Add eggs and beat well.
  5. Add flax seed mixture and vanilla, beat well.
  6. Add dry ingredients: flour, brewer’s yeast, baking soda, and salt.
  7. Stir in oats and chocolate chips.
  8. Scoop rounded tablespoons onto baking tray.
  9. Bake 12 minutes.
  10. Cool for 5 minutes before transferring to a cooking rack.

Some notes: 

  • Use whole oats, not quick oats. Extra thick oats are even better.
  • Do not substitute the brewer’s yeast with regular yeast. These are not the same thing. Brewer’s yeast is available on Amazon, as well as at natural food stores.
  • Flax seed meal is available at Trader Joe’s and natural food stores.

I would make a large batch of cookie dough, bake the cookies I needed for the week and then freeze the extras, so I could bake them whenever I needed cookies.

Need other ideas for keeping your supply high? Read this post!

 

Tips for breastfeeding working moms

Milk? Formula? Fed is best.

This post is over a year in the making. Life of a working mom, then-pumping mom, then mom, right?

Having a kid is a lot of fun, but it’s also hard work. (Like, the hardest job I’ve ever had!) One of the hardest/most annoying parts of motherhood is feeding your kid, specifically breastfeeding.

Michael was a good breastfeed-er and we hit our stride pretty early on. But, it was a task; not something I wanted to do, but something I had to do. You know, to feed my kid. Breastfeeding while you’re with the kid is pretty easy to get the hang of, but when you’re away from him and pumping? A whole ‘nother story.

Until recently, and while I was nursing Michael, I worked for the City of Seattle and while some of the city buildings only have adequate pumping facilities, my building’s “mother’s room” is amazing. In addition to a couple of mini fridges, a sink, and microwave (essentials for storing and cleaning your milk), we had plush chairs, private cubicles, and a bank of lockers to store our gear.

By themselves, these attributes made my pumping experience a bit better than some of my friends who didn’t have quite this nice of setup. But it isn’t a standalone thing. The City employs thousands of individuals, and some of them are lactating moms. This is a strong, close-knit community that I was honored to be a part of for close to a year.

It’s not easy going from months off of work, focusing solely on nurturing your new human to working 8+ hours a day, trying to pretend that you didn’t just give birth and don’t have biological needs that have to be addressed. Do you know what it’s like to push your pump break a few minutes only to have to rush to the Emergency Operations Center with your non-parent, mostly male colleagues to address citywide messaging for a huge power outage in downtown Seattle instead of “milking yourself”? I do. It’s not ideal.

I named the lactation/mother’s room the Pump Haus (or Microsoft, which is what it looks like you’re saying if your colleague mouths “milk yourself” after saying you need to leave a meeting urgently). I made some really great friendships there with moms with kids weeks or months older or younger than Michael. We talked about everything. It was a real, live chat board! The more experienced moms set many of our concerns to rest and I was thankful that I was able to pass along my knowledge to the newbies. We talked sleeping, eating, drinking not just for our babes, but also for ourselves; everything under the sun! We shared sale codes, recipes, and advice about decorating, first birthday parties, vacations, and jobs. I even took a meeting or two in the Pump Haus, with a new-mom colleague. Talk about multi-tasking!

I stopped pumping in September, after Michael’s first birthday. I didn’t realize how emotional it would be, but as I wrote a note to my fellow Pump Haus moms, I teared up. While I blame the hormones for the tears, the Pump Haus and my Pump Haus community were a huge part of last year. I count my blessings that I was able to have such a positive pumping experience, because I know that’s not always the case.

Just before the end of the year Michael nursed for the last time and seems to be doing just fine without breast milk. (YESSSSS!!!) It’s pretty freeing for me and for those of you who are struggling with breastfeeding and/or pumping, or heading back to work soon, I’m here to share my tips with you.

My daily haul of “milkies”

Lactation cookies: a reason to eat cookies? Yes, please!

For milk production: 

  1. Drink a lot of water. Like, a lot. Drink one ounce of water for every pound that you weigh. I know. That’s a lot of water, but I promise, it’ll keep your supply up!
  2. Don’t diet. Making milk burns about 500 calories a day, and you need those calories in order to make the milk, so don’t diet.
  3. Eat healthy, but… Don’t deny yourself either. I’m a pretty healthy eater, but my milk seemed to increase those days when I had a little bit shittier things to eat (licorice, Cheetos, cookies, etc).
  4. Drink this tea or take Fenugreek and Blessed Thistle supplements. It tastes gnarly, but it works.
  5. Eat lactation cookies! I tried a million recipes and my favorite one came from Milkin’ Mamas, but the link doesn’t work anymore, so I retyped it. (You know a recipe is legit if it’s posted in the lactation room at work and dated almost two years prior!) I would make a large batch of cookie dough, bake the cookies I needed for the week and then freeze the extras, so I could bake them whenever I needed cookies.
  6. Your supply operates on a supply and demand schedule. If there isn’t a demand, there won’t be a supply. So, if you want to keep your supply up, pump as many times as you would normally feed your wee one on the weekend. This also meant pumping before bed for me, which was pretty annoying, but it also meant Michael was a good nighttime sleeper, so a trade-off I was ok with.
  7. Supplement! Sometimes you just don’t make as much milk as others. It’s most important that your child eat. We used Similac for Supplementation throughout Michael’s first year and he continues to thrive!

Pumping at work: 

  1. Get this bra. It’s sizing is very forgiving (growing and shrinking with you, easy to wash) and you’ll have your hands free to properly search Pinterest. (I mean, respond to work emails.)
  2. Keeping a pump at work with clutch for me. If possible, keep one at work, so you won’t have to drag it back and forth.
  3. I can’t say enough about my steam sanitizer. I preferred to wash my pump supplies at home, but have the supplies (soap, brush, steamer) if you’re washing there.
  4. The jury is out on how long you can leave milk un-refrigerated. I usually kept it out no more than 4 hours.
  5. Have a waterproof bag for transporting your milk upright. As much as you want those Madela lids to work flawlessly, they don’t.
  6. I bought these 8 oz Madela bottles and kept my milk in them. It was a lot easier than lugging lots of small bottles around!

I think that’s it. Happy pumping!

Don’t let this happen to you! Pay attention to clean up!