Family · Food · Home · Organization

Weekend prep for the week ahead?

Do you prep for the week ahead?  The last few weeks at work were crazy.  My schedule’s been packed from morning to night with little chance to breathe in between.  I know that’s the status quo for many.  Trying to balance work and family and a tiny bit of me time is often a challenge.  Wasn’t there an old advertisement where the Mom worked all day and came home to “fry it up in a pan”?  We could have it all – right?  My Pollyanna alter-ego says yes we can!  The part of me who is flat on the sofa says maybe not.

I’ve finally come to the conclusion that if I’m going to have a shot at doing it all, prep is my only hope.  I’ve gotten into the habit of cooking for the week ahead.  That way I have homemade and healthy dinners already done when I get home on a week night.

I tried two new recipes last weekend.  Both new recipes are instagram inspired – chicken chili and stuffed peppers.  Best yet, both freeze.  This gives me dinner for the week and variety for another week.

Chicken chili-

  • One block low fat cream cheese
  • two chicken breasts
  • 1 carton chicken stock
  • one can black beans
  • one can rotes tomatoes
  • one package frozen corn
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tbs chili powder
  • 1 package Hidden Valley Ranch dressing mix
  • salt and pepper to taste

Place chicken in the bottom of the crockpot with beans, corn, tomatoes, stock, and spices next and cream cheese on top.

Stuffed peppers –

  • one pound sausage (chicken)
  • one can rotes tomatoes
  • one block low fat cream cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 bell peppers cut in half

Cut peppers in half, clean out and place on baking sheet.  Fry sausage out till done.  Add to sausage tomatoes and cream cheese.  Stuff pepper halves.  Bake for thirty minutes in oven.

 

Decorating · Holiday

What is on your fall bucket list?

 

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Are you a list maker? I am.  I have countless “to do” lists both of the handwritten and the digital variety.  Those “to-do” lists are of the mundane type.  The chores that must be done, the work projects, the grocery lists.  I decided that I wanted a fun version, thus my fall bucket list.  So here it is:

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  • replace the ferns and geraniums with mums, pansies, and pumpkins.  Add a few jack-o-lanterns for Halloween.
  • visit a pumpkin patch
  • spend time with friends finding my way through a corn maze
  • try a new fall soup recipe
  • learn to make my great grandmother’s caramel cake
  • take a drive through the mountains to see the leaves
  • Watch a scary movie
  • visit the farmers market
  • jump in a leaf pile

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That’s my bucket list.  What’s on your list?

Food · Home

Seasons Change from Summer to Fall: Fire Roasted Tomato Soup

I love that there are four distinct seasons of the year.  Each one is unique and leaves me with a bucket list of things to enjoy and do.  The official start of fall this week left me with a major “to do” list.  Top of the list was mums and pumpkins for the front porch to replace the geraniums and ferns I’d enjoyed all summer long.  Next up, the first pot of soup for the fall.

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I love soup and with a busy schedule it is quick and figure friendly.  I tend to make up a large pot each weekend.  It makes enough to have a weekend meal and have lunch and dinner over the next week.  For my inaugural pot of fall soup, I decided to go with an oldie but goodie – fire roasted tomato soup.  It is quick and easy.

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  • two chicken breasts cut into bite size chunks
  • two links of either chorizo or hot Italian chicken sausage
  • one large red or yellow bell pepper, diced
  • two medium onions, diced
  • olive oil
  • cilantro
  • two 28 ounce cans of fire roasted tomatoes
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • large container of chicken stock or bone broth

In a large stock pot, sauté the chicken, sausage, onion, garlic, pepper, cilantro, and salt and pepper.  When the meat is done, add in tomatoes and cook on medium heat for 15 minutes.  Add in the chicken stock and cook on low for two hours.

 

Books · summer

Summer Reads Audible Style

Is listening to an audiobook “reading”?  While not “reading” in the traditional or neurological (due to different processing in the brain) sense; but an excellent alternative when you are driving, exercising, otherwise engaged in an activity where you are unable to “read.”

As an avid reader, I often have several books started at any given time and one of them is likely to be an audible book.  This summer I’ve listened while painting, weeding, exercising, and driving.  As confession is good for the sole, I confess I’ve listened to some excellent books and then there are the duds.  My summer thumbs up / thumbs down list follows.

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Those on the thumbs up list all share common features.  They had an engaging plot, likeable characters and were well written.  Park Avenue Summer and Down River are not to be missed.  They are excellent!  So, thumbs up for:

Park Avenue Summer

Down River

The Mulberry Tree

The Spitfire Girls

The Malta Exchange

The Girl From Berlin

Single Malt Murder

Honorable mentions to :  The Mother in Law and Berlin Calling

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Those earning a thumbs down also shared certain characteristics including a wandering plot, need for a good editor, and characters who were not rootable. Both The Golden Hour and Wunderland held so much potential.  Yet, they both fell flat.  I kept thinking get on with it!

 

Etiquette · Professionalism

Ten Socially Acceptable Synonyms

Profanity?  Is it acceptable?  Growing up these were the words that got me in trouble.  To be clear, I’m not a shrinking violet and I know the words.  I’ve even used one or two on occasion to the extreme displeasure of my Father.  As daddy’s little girl there was no greater punishment bestowed than to disappoint him.  He would look at me and say those are not words a lady uses and walk away.  A friend’s mother was even more creative.  Upon hearing one of these words, she would immediately request ten socially acceptable synonyms.  The end result is these words, while known, are not part of the vocabulary I chose to use.

Imagine my discomfort then, when during a professional facilitation, the accomplished facilitator suggested that profanity is acceptable in a professional context and, for me even more stunning, that this is a window into the true person.  My immediate thought was – no it is the sign of a limited vocabulary and an absence of creativity.  I probably would have let it pass but for a second conversation that afternoon where yet another group discussed the use of profanity.

I’m of the opinion that words are powerful.  The right word at the right time in the specific context has power and the ability to speak in a distinctive manner.  Choosing the right word for the right context is an art.  It suggests creativity and awareness and the ability to paint a picture.  Profanity is a huge stop sign that silences the speaker at the exact time they most want to be heard.

Holiday · summer · Travel

Ashford Castle and Tea

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I love tea and I wanted to stay in a Castle .  On my recent trip to Ireland I combined a few of my favorite things and spent an amazing afternoon at Ashford Castle.

Ashford is that fairytale Castle of your dreams.  The Castle has hosted Kings, Presidents and, most recently was the  site of golf pro Rory McIlroy’s nuptials, it has a wonderful golf course, excellent fishing, clays for shooting, falconry, a spa, beautiful gardens, and amazing food.  I now understand the concept of eating until you pop.

On a recent rainy Sunday, I was fortunate to spend the entire afternoon curled up by a fire having tea and champagne with my favorite gal pal.  Two pots of tea, four glasses of champagne and nibbles was the perfect setting to spend the afternoon.

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I opted for the Irish Wiskey-Cream tea.  Described as the “extravagant flavor of Irish whiskey with a hint of cocoa blended with a malty Assam tea” it lives up to its description as delicious.  Nibbles included chicken salad sandwiches, salmon, ham and cheese, scones with lemon curd, clotted cream, and strawberry and rhubarb jam.  The tip from the server was lemon curd with the cheddar cheese scone.  The pairing was perfect!  The sweets course included eclairs and other tasty sweets but the cheddar cheese scones were my favorite.

What an amazing setting to spend a rainy afternoon.

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Family · Food · summer · Travel

Going Home, Charleston, SC

 

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I’m on my way to the 47th annual family reunion in Charleston.  Every summer growing up we planned a visit to Charleston for my Mom’s family reunion.  Held on Sullivan’s Island, the family with all the cousins would gather for a vast lunch, sno cones, the beach, and lots of fun catching up.

As the ladies of the family were wonderful cooks, lunch was always a treat.  Ham, Charleston red rice, shrimp, fried chicken, potato salad, deviled eggs, coleslaw, and macaroni salad were among the traditional dishes found on the table.  The dessert table was not to be overlooked with poundcake, pies, and cookies.  Add in plenty of homemade sweet iced tea and good conversation and it was always a delightful day for all.

It’s been years since I’ve been able to attend but I’m headed there this year.  I’m so excited to be back in Charleston.  Flying in there was this sense that I was home.  From the plane I could see the marsh and the peninsula.  The humidity and heat enveloped me as I exited the plane bringing a large smile to my face.  This is the place I loved as a child.

With the passing of my grandparents, I opted for a reservation at Charleston Place Hotel. Located in the heart of downtown Charleston, it was ideally located for a walk to the battery and the waterfront parks, shopping on King Street, and a visit to the vegetable market.

King Street was always the place for a shopping expedition and continues to be the location for delightful boutiques.  I (re)discovered Ben Silvers and Sara Campbells.  A trip to Charleston would not be complete without a walk through the market to look at the sweetgrass baskets.  They are individual works of art and I always find creative uses for them at home.

Sullivans Island is a barrier island off of Charleston and home of Fort Moultrie, used in the Revolution.  White sand beaches and beautiful old homes mark it as a lovely location for a family gathering and a swim or day at the beach.

 

She crab soup, beautiful iron work, great food, and family, I’m going home!