Maybe it’s because I’m crabby today, but something a customer just said really aggravated me. She bought five bottles of wine and I asked if she wanted me to put them in a box so they’d be easier to carry. She told me that she’d prefer bags because “they changed the recycling rules in [her town] and it’s just too confusing” so she’s “not going to bother anymore.” WTF? How hard is it to cut up some cardboard and place it on the curb on recycling day? I cannot imagine that the town’s rules for recycling are that hard to follow. I swear, some of the pampered women make me crazy. They won’t mind spending hours researching the best doctor for their Botox treatment or looking for the top diet pills, but goodness — spending 10 minutes sorting out the recycling is just too hard.


I should have suggested she start carrying around her own cloth shopping bags.


I wish school busses had vehicle tracking systems in them so the parents could know exactly where they are. What a frustrating way to start the morning: I took Jake out to wait for his bus at close to his usual time (possibly one or two minutes later than usual, but we end up waiting for five to ten minutes, so that should be negligable). We waited. And waited. And I started getting stressed out. And then one of our neighbors from up the street drove by and let me know that the bus had already passed and her kids missed it too. We made it seven months without missing the bus! I’m convinced it was early this morning. So I had to run inside, get Noah’s coat on and drive to school. Of course, having never done the whole drop-off routine, I was stressed about that. Luckily it was pretty easy and parents were letting cars turning left into the parking lot (like me!) in and not cutting off everyone. So then I felt like a fool for getting worked up about it in the first place. Blah.

Oh well. He’s there, and on time and that’s the important thing, right? I am skipping my full-on kitchen spring cleaning today because I am feeling a bit under the weather. My plan is to just do a basic clean-up of the house, crank out a few blog posts, get stuff ready for dinner early (so I won’t have to think about it later), and hopefully spend the afternoon knitting or reading. I hope your day started better than mine, LOL!

Slow Cooking Thursday: Indian Spiced Braised Chicken

slowcookingbanner.jpgI love, love, love Indian food, but I’ve never made it at home. (I don’t think that the simmer sauces from Trader Joe’s really count, even though they’re quite tasty). However, after having a delicious Indian buffet lunch at Basera when we saw “Rent” I have been craving it. I remembered a recipe from the April 2007 issue of Everyday Food that I wanted to try and thought this would be the perfect opportunity! Since I had a lot of cleaning to do yesterday, I had wanted to use my slow cooker, and I rememberd it being a Crock Pot recipe. Perfect!

Of course, I almost never make a recipe exactly as dictated and this one is no exception. I omitted the tomato paste because I didn’t have any, and neither of us really like the flavor it gives food. I didn’t have any cayenne pepper on hand, so I substituted chili powder. Also, after slow cooking all day, the sauce was really thin and watery so I transfered everything into a large pan on the stove, cranked the heat, and thickened it up with a bit of Wondra. I also adjusted the seasonings. I found it needed more salt, as well as heat so I added some Frank’s Red Hot and sprinkled on a bit more Garam Masala as well. I didn’t have basamati rice on hand, so I just made regular old white rice to serve along with it. Drew loved it! (I did too!). Next time I would probably use chicken breast, though. The thighs were fine, but they have a bit of a stringiness to them. I don’t know… I guess we just prefer the white meat. But even so, it was excellent. I hope you enjoy!

Indian Spiced Braised Chicken

Indian Spiced Braised Chicken

1 1/2 pounds chicken thighs — boneless and skinless
1 medium onion — thinly sliced
1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes — drained
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
1 Tbsp. ginger — grated from 1″ piece
2 cloves garlic — minced
1/2 tsp. coriander — ground
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup yogurt — plain
1/4 cup cilantro — chopped
1/2 teaspoons garam masala — optional
Cooked white rice, for serving

In a 5 or 6 quart slow cooker, stir together chicken, onion, tomatoes, tomato paste, ginger, garlic, coriander, and cayenne; season with salt and pepper. Cook on high 4 hours (or 8 hours on low) until fork tender. Stir in yogurt, cilantro and, if using, garam masala. Serve with rice.

For more delicious slow cooker recipes, be sure to head over to Diary of a SAHM!

Spring Cleaning: Living Room

I am getting back on track with my spring cleaning and yesterday I decided to tackle the living room. Last weekend I asked Drew to bring down an armchair that had been upstairs because I wanted to rearrange the furniture, so in the “before” photos, please don’t think that I just randomly had a chair in the middle of the room! And it’s covered with a sheet and a quilt because they were still slightly damp when they came out of the dryer, but I had to get another load in there. And so, here is my living room before:




Here’s what I did:
* Dusted the baseboards, mantle, and funiture
* Cleaned endtables, armoire, and desk with Orange Glo
* Put away all toys and miscellany
* Sorted through papers on desk and filed/tossed as needed
* Rearranged furniture and a few decorations
* Vacuumed

I am so pleased with the results!




You can see from the photo that I still haven’t gotten the desk chair from my MIL’s house and I still have that nasty old office chair there. Sigh… I keep forgetting! I love the way I now have the desk arranged too. I decided since I rarely sit at the desk (I mainly use the drawers for storage) that I wanted to make it more decorative than anything. So I took a small table and put it next to the desk. On the top I have our paper shredder and on the bottom shelf I have my hanging files. Then, I took one of the hand-embroidered linens that my Babci did and put my typewriter on it. She gave me the typewriter when I was in high school or college, and it is one of my favorite things! I decided I should display it, rather than have it stored away in its case:


It took quite a while to do because Noah was being rather pesty yesterday. Sure it would have been more fun to look at Hilton Head rentals, or imagine someplace to go on vacation where someone else does all the cleaning for me, but you know what? It felt pretty darn good afterward 🙂 (even though my back was really sore!). Tomorrow I plan to tackle the kitchen, which shouldn’t be too much of a job since about a month ago I did a really deep clean. Stay tuned!

Sometimes I expect too much…

Sherried Tomato Soup A few weeks ago I saw The Pioneer Woman’s recipe for Sherried Tomato Soup and I swear I said out loud, “I. Must. Make. That.” I love tomato soup and this sounded delicious. Not to mention all the comments raving about it. How could I go wrong? So yesterday I realized that I had all of the ingredients and I was going to whip up a batch for dinner. I made a few minor substitutions: I used fire-roasted tomatoes instead of regular tomatoes. I cut way down on the butter. Sorry, PW fans, but you do not need an entire stick of butter to sautee an onion. I cut it down to 2 Tbsp. and added a little olive oil because that’s how I roll when I sautee. A little of each. I also used half-and-half instead of heavy cream. None of these substitutions would really have had any major effect on the flavor.

Otherwise, I follow the directions, adding only a scant Tbsp. of the chicken base, as I heeded her warnings about it being salty. It looked great, it smelled delicious. Imagine my surprise when I took a sip and realized how freaking salty it was! I went back over everything I did, e-mailed a chef friend of mine for advice, and between the two of us we figured out the culprit: the tomato juice. Hello, 36% of my daily sodium intake! Ew! So then I thought about the other tomato soup I often make — my friend Kristin’s recipe for Tomato Florentine Soup. I’ve been making this for at least six years now, and it’s always so good. And that is when I realized the difference: her recipe uses chicken broth and when I make the soup I use either low-sodium broth or my own stock.

Mystery solved, Scooby Doo. So yeah… unfortunately my first PW recipe was a bit of a let-down (blasphemy, I know!), but there are a couple others I plan on trying. I think it’s all a matter of personal taste. I just don’t like heavily salted foods. The soup has potential, though, and I might play around with the recipe a little bit.

Signs of Spring

Today was Jake’s last day of Easter break and since it was sunny and in the mid-40s, we got plenty of outside-time in this afternoon. We also went on a nature walk around the yard, hoping to find some flowers breaking through. And we did!

Forcythia buds!
Forcythia buds!




Now if only the mercury would rise a little bit higher and I could put away these heavy coats! Alas, I know better than to jump on it. We can still get snow in April. (Hopefully we won’t, but… you never know).

Easter Sunday

tulips We had such a nice, relaxing Easter this year! The Easter bunny visited our house, of course, and brought the boys a few Easter goodies. I think I probably did the opposite of most moms and went heavy on the candy and light on the toys. We have enough junky toys in the house. The candy is easy to hide and ration out, and it will be enjoyed by everyone. I just didn’t want to buy a bunch of plastic junk just to use for filler. But don’t worry, there were a few things to play with. To share, there was a Superman action figure, a “grow a dino” science kit, and some paints. Plus, the boys each got two books. Jake is really blowing us away with his reading skills, so I thought a couple chapter books featuring Super Fly Guy were in order. They look really cute and should be good “easy reader” books for him. The kids suprised us by not totally pigging out on Easter candy in the morning! They each took a few pieces and that was it.

I made French toast with some cinnamon raisin bread that was going stale, and everyone enjoyed that for breakfast. I felt bad because there were so many things I wanted to make this year (pretzels, Hot Cross Buns…) and it just didn’t happen. So at least we had a special breakfast. Then we were off to Drew’s mom for lunch. She made leg of lamb, eggplant parmesan, salad, roasted vegetables, asparagus, and there were delicious cookies for dessert. I think we all could have benefited from walking on the treadmill after our feast 🙂 Drew and I brought a bottle of 2004 GraEagle RedWing, which went really well with the lamb.

After lunch, the boys had an egg hunt in grandma’s basement. Jake is getting a little too good at these. Poor Noah was left in the dust! They had a blast, though. All in all it was just a fun, relaxing Sunday. Not a bad way to spend a holiday if I do say so myself!

Home Again

What a weekend (and it isn’t over yet!) As I mentioned in my last post, I’d been in Massachusetts. We had a fun day yesterday. My parents set up an egg hunt for the boys, and they had a blast collecting their Easter eggs. After that they flied kites (even though it was FRIGID out!). We got to visit with my cousin Angie and her little boy, who is around Noah’s age. And of course we saw Mike & Kathy. Kathy & I went on a top secret vodka mission for Drew after the boys were in bed, LOL… I also picked up a couple things for myself: from the 2/$10 bin, a Spanish Grenache and a Spanish Tempranillo, and I also treated myself to a bottle of Clayhouse Vineyard Adobe Red, which is a delicious-sounding blend (Zinfandel, Syrah, Petite Syrah, and Cabernet). I’ve seen mixed reviews of it (like, really, really mixed), so it’ll be good to try it for ourselves. After that I dropper her off at home, went home myself, took a relaxing bath, and promptly fell asleep around 9 while watching “Best Week Ever.” Ahh, these exciting Friday nights!

Today of course, was a little more somber. Isn’t is so odd how sad events really do bring people together and, in a way, end up happy ones? Today was my grandmother’s burial and it was the first time that side of the family had all been together in… who knows how long? Fifteen years? Possibly more. I know that it has been at least that long since I’ve seen my cousins. Of course, thanks to the wonder of the Internets I’ve maintained some kind of contact with a few of them, but nothing “real” you know? It was a little awkward at first, but after a while we founds ourselves chatting pretty easily. It was really nice seeing them (as well as my aunts and uncles) and it would be nice if we all would be better about staying in touch. I know that I am guilty of it.

My parents also gave me some vintage linens that were my Babci’s. (In case you didn’t know, I collect them). Many were embroidered by my grandmother herself, so they really are a treasure. She loved needlecrafts, so these are very special to me. I’ll try to take some photos of my favorites next week. They’re a wonderful rememberance, that’s for sure.

So, we got back home around 4. I’m excited to put together the boys’ Easter baskets after they are in bed and steal a few Cadbury Mini-Eggs for myself 😉 I might also put together a dish of French toast to bake tomorrow morning. I’m super tired after a whirlwind weekend, so we’ll see. If you celebrate Easter, I hope you have a wonderful holiday tomorrow. It is one of my favorites, so I am looking forward to it!


I’m in Massachusetts today and tomorrow 🙂 Tomorrow is my grandmother’s burial, but today I’m just hanging out with my family. I’m off to visit my other grandmother in the nursing home in a bit, and I know she will love seeing the boys. But I just wanted to share pics of my new (and much needed!) haircut!
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