Friday, December 30, 2011

The five days of Christmas...

On the first day of Christmas, my big hen gave to me....

the first egg that we've been waiting for so anxiously.

On the second day of Christmas, my big hen gave to me...

a second egg, bigger than the first, yet ever so slightly.

On the third day of Christmas, my big hen gave to me...

a third egg, as we waited outside the coop impatiently.

On the fourth day of Christmas, my big hen gave to me...

a fourth egg, this is so much fun...eeee!

On the fifth day of Christmas, my big hen gave to me...

nada. zip. zilch. She's taking a break apparently.

It's been such an exciting week! Our "middle child," Henrietta started laying the day after Christmas. We have been waiting and waiting for an egg since we got the chickens in July. The first two eggs were pretty small so we were convinced they came from Dixie since she is the oldest and the smallest hen. But on the third day, we were lucky enough to witness Henrietta make her way up to the nesting box, shuffle around in there for a while, and then come back down; leaving a nice, warm egg behind. What a gift that she waited until this week while we're all home to experience this first-hand. Thank you, Henrietta.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Three peas and their iPods...

Actually it's two iPods and an iPhone, if anyone cares to question the photo above. Yes. It was a very Apple Christmas around here. And while this is what it looked like when I tried to crawl into bed on Christmas night, there was a whole lot of unplugged time that went on as well.

And since I must have listened to Julie Andrew sing about her raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens at least 347 times since November 11, I thought I'd let her in on a few of our favorite things...

This massaging foot spa that Santa brought BB for her tired dancing feet has been a major hit. Once she finished soaking her own piggies, she opened up her own salon and offered pedicures to everyone who has walked through the front door. I think she's earned enough for college already. Must be from the tips she's getting from BSD. She dims the lights. Serves him wine and chocolates. Queues up his favorite songs on Pandora. And let's him soak for a good long while before massaging his feet. If this dancing thing doesn't pan out, the girl's got a future as an aesthetician. Either that or she's sure to woo any guy she chooses with all this pampering she's practicing.

And what could be better than playing with a three story Barbie Townhouse? With an elevator? And a rooftop jacuzzi? How about playing with a three story Barbie Townhouse. With an elevator. And a rooftop jacuzzi. While listening to your Mommy's new iPod Touch. That she let you bling out with your own bejewelled case. And load up with all the apps and music. That your  little heart desires. That your $10 gift card can buy.

And then there's the mug. Gotta love it when your hubby's favorite gift is a gawdy $13 coffee mug. Because it has a picture of Wonder Woman on it. Because he has a Wonder Woman fetish. Because he thinks his wife is Wonder Woman. I may not be the richest girl in Virginia Beach, but I am the luckiest.

It was a mellow Christmas at home. We spent the entire day in our pj's. We even ate dinner. In the dining room. With the special Christmas china. Wearing our pj's. aaahhhh.

And just like LB said, I got the things on my list...

"Daddy coming home. And peace and quiet."

Well, maybe not so much of the peace and quiet...

I hope you all had a very, Merry Christmas surrounded by those you love also. We're gearing up for New Year's Eve. We're ready for another great bash this year! How about you? Any rockin' New Year's Eve plans?

Monday, December 26, 2011

Coming Home...

Homecoming 2011 went off without a hitch. After traveling over 7,000 miles, BSD made it home as scheduled.

Or at least we hoped it was BSD. We weren't too sure who the crazy-hair, bearded man was who wanted to give us a hug.

He was definitely a sight for sore eyes.

Or rather. He made our eyes sore at the sight of him. So we drove him straight to the salon for a little a lot of grooming of his own.

And then on to a favorite Mexican restaurant for some margaritas.

And then right over to a holiday party for a little gabbing and gambling.

Before finally letting him actually COME HOME to rest. In his own bed.

I’m coming home
I’m coming home
Tell the World I’m coming home
Let the rain wash away all the pain of yesterday...

Welcome home, BSD.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Grooming Report...

Sorry. No 12 inches of fresh powder to report here. Unless you count the layer of baby powder coating my bathroom floor. This is the "other type of grooming" report. AKA yourhusbandiscominghometomorrowafterthreemonths grooming report.

Yes. In between the Christmas shopping and tacky holiday sweater party going, I've been doing some grooming. For the past three months, I put off all major maintenance. The gray hairs were staging a coup. But I managed to keep them at bay for the past few weeks with a little help from the Melissa Gorga school of fashion.

I finally got it cut and colored this week. But I kind of like the hat look. I think this Jersey homegirl is onto something.

Next up was the nails. I hadn't gotten a mani/pedi in months. And my scraggly toes were starting to snag on the carpet. Definitely. not. pretty. But never fear. Groupon to the rescue. A shellac mani/pedi for $35. *woot*  Have you ever gotten a shellac manicure? I didn't even realize what I bought until I got there. This stuff is supposed to last two weeks. At least. With no chips or fading. I am psyched.

Of course, it took me a good 20 minutes to decide on a color when I realized it was that "permanent." The girl was making fun of me. "I'm not asking you to marry the color. Just date it a while."

Meet my date.

I went for tall, dark and handsome. Total opposite of my usual man. Even the ballerinas were shocked, "You picked black?!?!?" You know what they say, "Once you go black, you never go back." I'll let you know if it's true.

A new Groupon popped up this week. A Brazilian for $40. I considered it. But hey, BSD's only been gone three months. Not sure he deserves that kind of carpet treatment. Plus I have my own wax pot. I'd rather save the money for something bigger and better. Like maybe a Botox groupon.

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Big Red Pot: Chicken Soup that's good for the soul...but not for matzoh balls

My heart seems to be firmly planted in my kitchen this week. In the midst of the holiday hustle bustle, I find myself racing back home each afternoon like a horse to the stable. Content only when I'm chopping and stirring, familiar smells fill the house, and Pandora plays the soundtrack that I didn't even know was in my head. 

This morning the temps dipped down into the 20's. So, of course, that called for something hot. From the Big Red Pot.

I recently ran across Pioneer Woman's chicken soup recipe. I haven't made a full-blown chicken soup from a "real chicken" in a while so I decided to give it a try incorporating some of the suggestions from her readers. My own chicken soup recipe is very similar, but her addition of parsnips sounded intriguing. I found a mixed bag of pre-chopped parsnips, turnips and rutabagas at Trader Joe's so in they went. I also found a tiny Savoy cabbage for pennies so that went in too.

Now, "real" chicken soup isn't "real" unless you add matzoh balls. So I whipped up a few.

But growing up, my grandmother only served matzoh balls in clear chicken soup. We always removed all the veggies. And the meat too. Which we ate separately. Often cold. Over the next few days.

I was torn. I went to all the trouble of adding in these special veggies. Do I now strain them out? That seemed like sacrilege. And what about the chicken? In or out? Tough decisions. But in the end...
I went for complete chicken carnage.

Plus all the veggies.

Plus the matzoh balls.

The total was quite the bowl of food.

And just like the picture...
It lacked a focal point. There were too many things competing for attention. Boubi was right. Matzoh balls need to be the only thing swimming in the bowl.

But if you're in the mood for some chicken vegetable soup? This stuff kicks butt. 

Chicken Vegetable Soup
adapted from The Pioneer Woman

  • 1 whole Chicken
  • 1 whole Bay Leaf
  • 48-64 ounces fluid Low Sodium Chicken Broth
  • 1 whole Large Onion, Chopped
  • 3 whole Ribs Of Celery, Sliced
  • 3 whole Carrots, Peeled And Chopped
  • 1 bag Trader Joe's Harvest Vegetable Blend {or chopped parsnips, turnips, rutabagas (whatever you can find)}
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 8 black peppercorns
  • 1 cup chopped cabbage (any kind, I used Savoy)


1. Remove innards and wash chicken. (Do not use soap, Adrienne.)
2. Place all ingredients, except cabbage, into a large soup pot. Bring to a boil.
3. Reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until chicken is done.
4. Remove chicken. When chicken is cool enough to handle, shred the meat and return it to the pot.
5. Add the chopped cabbage, and simmer about 30 more minutes until cabbage is very tender.
6. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.
7. Serve. Without matzoh balls.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Homeward Bound....

Single digits, baby! We're down to single digits. BSD should be home in less than ten days. And Pandora, played the perfect song for me when I fired her up this afternoon. It's eerie how that station reads my mind.

And I'm half expecting BSD to look quite like Art Garfunkel when he arrives. As he has warned me that he has not had a hair cut. Since he left. Three months ago. I think I'll get him an orange turtleneck for Christmas. So he can really rock that retro 60's look. I never realized how much he resembles Mr. Garfunkel. They even stand alike.

Maybe I'll tease my hair big, snap-on my long fake ponytail, rock some go-go boots and join him. It'll be just like the good ole days.

Photo circa 1995 or so. Us in Hawaii. Just dating. Prekids. Prebrow waxes. Preflat Iron.

And just like NORAD can track Santa along his Christmas Eve joyride. We now have our own site to track BSD's voyage home. How cool is that!?

Homeward bound
I wish I was
Homeward bound
Home, where my thoughts escaping
Home, where my music's playing
Home, where my love lies waiting
Silently for me

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Big Red Pot: Chicken Stew (because I know you all love quinoa)...

It was time. Time to get back into the kitchen. We've eaten out more meals than I care to admit due to the last two weeks of Nutcracker madness. I needed something homemade. Something healthy. Something simmering. From the Big Red Pot.

Chicken stew sounded like just the ticket. Especially when the other ingredients were butternut squash and everyone's favorite superfood...quinoa. Throw in a few kalamata olives for some twang and we've got a winner. Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner.

I served the stew up in my favorite Christmas bowls. They are rimmed in orange instead of traditional Christmas red. Which makes me love them even more. This set is about 20 years old. Which makes me love them even more. I bought them in NYC with my mom on a whim. Which makes me love them even more. I can't wait to put them into rotation each year right after Thanksgiving dinner. And I'm always a little sad when I have to put them back up again on January 2nd.

Now if only there was one of those cheese biscuits sitting smack in the middle like they serve it at Panera my comfort food would be complete. I told you we've eaten out too much lately. I'm pretty sure I can tell you everything on Panera's menu. And how much it costs. With tax. And a 99 cent baked good added on. Thankyouverymuch. Mypleasure.

Oh, and a tip for all the single ladies. If you're looking for a man, don't go to the bars. Head over to your local Pit Smoked BBQ fast food joint instead. That place is teeming with men. Rugged men. Manly men. Men without women men. Men who like women men. Men who like women who like bbq men. A-men. Your welcome. Send me an invitation to the wedding. And be sure to serve bbq at the reception. 
What Am I Going to be When I Grow Up? 
22. Fast Food Connoisseur 
23. Matchmaker
Hearty Chicken Stew with Butternut Squash and Quinoa
Yield: Serves 6
From the kitchen of Cookin Canuck.

  • 1 1/2 lb. butternut squash, peeled, seeded & chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 3 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 can (14 oz) petite diced tomatoes
  • 2/3 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 3/4 cup pitted and quartered kalamata olives
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
  1. Steam the butternut squash until barely tender, about 10 minutes. Remove half of the squash pieces and set aside.
  2. Steam the remaining squash until very tender, an additional 4 to 6 minutes. Mash this squash with the back of a fork. Set aside.
  3. In a large saucepan set over medium-high heat, bring the chicken broth to a simmer.
  4. Add chicken thighs, cover, and cook until chicken is cooked through, about 15 minutes.
  5. Transfer the chicken thighs to a plate and allow to cool. Pour broth into a medium-sized bowl.
  6. Return the saucepan to the stovetop and lower heat to medium. Add olive oil.
  7. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is starting to turn brown, 8 to 10 minutes.
  8. Add minced garlic and oregano. Cook, stirring, for 1 additional minute.
  9. To the saucepan, add tomatoes, butternut squash pieces, mashed butternut squash. Stir to combine.
  10. Stir in reserved chicken broth and quinoa. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook until the quinoa turns translucent, about 15 minutes.
  11. Shred the chicken with your fingers or a fork.
  12. Stir the chicken, olives and pepper into the stew and simmer, uncovered, to heat, about 5 minutes
  13. Stir in parsley and serve.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Ten on Ten: December 2011 - FAIL




Can't pull it together to post my Ten on Ten tonight. Hate to miss my favorite day of the month. But my eyes are sinking fast.

Side Note: Finally got the nerve to sneak my camera on stage with me as I volunteered tonight. Pulled it out during intermission while they warmed up. Snapped about three shots. Turned around. And there sat the professional photographer. Staring right at me. Needless to say, I covered my name tag with my camera. And hightailed it out of there. Luckily, he had moved to the other side of the stage when I returned.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Pasta Angel Ornaments (aka...a crappy gift to give your friends)....

MERDE! That's what the ballerinas are supposed to say to each other for luck before a performance. Have you ever heard that word? I have. Plenty of times growing up. As the daughter of a French-speaking mother, that's what she always muttered under her breath when I'd walk back through the door telling her I just missed the bus.

So imagine the looks on our faces when my mom and I sat down in the theater for the Big Ballerina's first "real show" and saw the word printed in the Playbill. We were convinced these people were clueless. Why on earth would graceful ballerinas tell each other to take a crap?!?

Well...six years later, we have finally been told the story behind the strange expression. Here you go...

Never say “break a leg” for good luck to a dancer. It is always “merde”. For you French aficionados, it really does mean “poop.” The origin of “merde” has a colorful history. In the early days of ballet, companies would use live animals in their performances. When one of the animals would have an accident on stage, one would yell “merde” from the side stage to let the dancers know to watch out so they wouldn’t slip. No injury or slippage, good luck for the dancer! Additionally, those attending public ballets or theatre performances would arrive in horse coaches. When an event was successful, the carriages would have a traffic jam with horses waiting and, in turn, creating by-product. Obviously, the quantity of the by-product was proportional to the carriages that had visited the theatre, and was an indirect measure of the economic success of the evening. It was then related to “merde” meaning have a good theatre performance.

Along with the expression, the ballerinas exchange "Merde" gifts for luck. This year BB is dancing as a Big Angel and a China Ribbon dancer in the Nutcracker. To represent her part, BB made macaroni angels to give out as gifts.

I have been making these macaroni angels for over 15 years whenever I need a small gift for a large number of people. Or if we need a fundraiser around Christmas time. They are easy and cheap to make. And, um....adorable! And now that the ballerinas are both proficient with a glue gun, I was able to turn them loose with the supplies as I sat eating a box of candy cane Joe-Joe's. With milk. Yes, I've learned a little something about the benefits of child labor from reading Oliver Twist along with BB this semester. 

And after 15 years, I discovered an easier way of making these that I will share here with you in case you need a "crappy" gift of your own to pass along this holiday season. Instead of spray painting the pasta, get a couple of bottles of the small white acrylic paint at Michael's. Pour about 1/3 of the bottle into a cup. Add a little water to thin it out a bit.

Then just roll your pasta pieces around in the cup with a paint brush until they are covered. And stand them up to dry.

It's basically a paint and glue project. Easy peasy. Here's what you'll need:

bow tie pasta (wings)
rigatoni pasta (body)
elbow macaroni (arms...duh!)
wooden balls (heads) (they come in a pkg of about 30 at Michael's. I think they're about 3/4")
Spanish moss (hair)
small spool of very thin gauge wire (halos)
spools of thin ribbon (hangers)
white Folk Art type acrylic paint
black Sharpie (for drawing face)
blush (for giving them those glowing angelic cheeks)
hot glue gun
hot glue sticks


Thursday, December 1, 2011

This little light of mine...

"The only thing that separates us from the animals is our ability to accessorize." 

Well, if that's true, I must be further down the evolutionary ladder than most because accessorizing is definitely not my strong suit. I love the look of a well-styled outfit or home, but I never trust myself enough to go for it. But yesterday I went for it.

While on my weekly pilgrimage to TJMaxx, I wandered through the lamp section, as I always do, hoping to find a gem. And, as I've done many times before, I found a lamp I liked. I put it in my cart and walked around the store some more. The more I walked. The more I talked myself out of it. It won't work. The color will clash. Especially now with all the red and green out for Christmas. Maybe it's really ugly after all. Finally, I put the lamp back on the shelf. 

I made a few more laps around the furniture aisles. Spied the lamp from across the floor. Fell in love again. And instead of walking away like I usually do, I went over and put it back in my cart. I can always return it if it doesn't look right. (Famous last words.)

I came home excited. Plunked the lamp down on the end table. Stared at it for a while. And waited for the usual negative thoughts to creep back in. It doesn't look right. It's too big. It's not the right style. Take it back. But low and behold. This time they didn't come. The quirky, turquoise lamp with the woven shade just made me smile. This silly little lamp was home.

Have you ever seen the show Secrets of a Stylist? Where the designer surveys the couple to figure out each one's style, and then blends them together to redo their home in their combined style? That's what this lamp feels like to me. A blending of my styles. I wonder what she would call me. Maybe Beach Modern? Or is it just the opposite...Retro Beach? I guess if I knew my house would be perfectly accessorized already. But then I guess I wouldn't be such a great galloper either.