Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Cabin Fever


On Friday we were hit with a huge blizzard.  After spending the week preparing, buying enough food, water, gas, candles, batteries, flashlights, and firewood to get us through, we all hunkered down on Friday afternoon to watch the storm come in.  A few hours into the storm the governor announced a travel ban.  Unless you were an essential public service employee, you were not allowed on the roads.  If you drove you could face jail time and hefty fines.  Not that I’d planned to go anywhere anyway, but the idea of not being allowed to go anywhere made me feel a little claustrophobic.  I'd only been housebound for a few hours but already cabin fever was setting in.
 
I was prepared though.  We had plenty of movies and snacks for the kids to choose from (provided we didn’t lose power) and just before the storm hit, I sent the hubby to pick up the new sewing table that I’d order and had just come in.  I figured if I was stuck inside I might as well spend some time organizing my sewing stuff.  I’ve been talking about doing it for a long time now and this was the perfect opportunity. 

I hate to assemble furniture but this was pretty easy and it came together relatively fast and it fit perfectly in the space I wanted it to go too.  The planets were aligned! 
By Sunday we were all dug out (we got 3ft!  Shoveling that was NO FUN) and the travel ban had been lifted, so, desperate to get out of the house, I went to HomeDepot to pick up some pegboard and accessories to further organize my stuff. 
 

I’m not done yet (I wish I’d taken a before picture because it would make the after look so much more dramatic) but I was actually able to get some sewing done and not once did I have to stop to search for some tool that I NEEDED but had misplaced for the 10,000th time!
 

Sunday, February 3, 2013


It’s been cold here!  Like REALLY cold.  Like so cold that even my Siberian Husky doesn’t want to go outside.  I usually don’t mind the cold, but I don’t like it when you walk outside and your sinus passages freeze up instantly, it hurts to breathe, and any bit of exposed skin immediately starts to ache. 

To combat the cold I’ve been dressing in many, many layers. (I feel like that kid from “A Christmas Story” who can’t put his arms down.)  And I’ve been making lots of warming comfort foods.

Last night I made a family favorite, chicken tortilla soup. A little spicy and a lot warming, as comfort foods go, this one won’t kill your diet.

Here’s how I make it.

Ingredients:
 
Olive oil, black beans, garlic, basil, lime, long grain rice, chicken broth, onion, taco seasoning, Rotel tomatoes (I use mild but go for spicy if you like it hot.  Also if you can’t find Rotel, you can substitute a jar of your favorite chunky salsa), cumin, cilantro, poblano pepper (or your choice of chili pepper).  And not pictured chicken breast and zucchini.
 

I start by cutting up one chicken breast and browning it in a little olive oil in a large heavy bottom pot.  Meanwhile, dice the medium onion and the poblano pepper (seeds and ribs removed) and throw them into the pot.  Cook until the veggies start to soften.  Then grate in one clove of garlic and saut√© just for a minute or two (be careful, burnt garlic is not yummy!) 
 
 
Add ½ an envelope of taco seasoning, 2 cans of Rotel, a tablespoon of cumin, 2 tablespoons of chopped cilantro (or more if, like me, you love cilantro) and a 3 or 4 basil leaves chopped.




Drain and rinse a can of black beans and throw those in too.  Then add about 6-7 cups of chicken broth.  Now bring to a simmer and let this all cook for about 30 minutes (or longer if you want, the great thing about this soup is I can start it early and leave it on the stove on low for several hours if I want)
 
30 minutes before you are going to serve cook your rice.  I usually combine 2 cups of uncooked rice with 3 cups of water in a large bowl and microwave for 20-30 minutes.  You don’t want sticky, mushy rice.  You want it to maintain a bit of a bite and fluff easily. Once done I squeeze in the juice of one lime and fluff it up with a fork.
 

While the rice is cooking chop one small zucchini into half moons and add them to the pot.  Let them cook until they are tender crisp and you are ready to serve!

 

To serve, add a couple of spoonfuls of rice to your bowl, ladle your soup over the rice and add your toppings.  I like to add a little (or a lot) of shredded Monterey Jack, a few slices of avocado, a dollop of sour cream and some crushed up tortilla chips.  Sometimes I add some fresh pico de gayo too for a little more kick and some fresh tomato taste.


 

My kids love this dish.  They usually get themselves a big pile of tortilla chips and scoop up the soup and rice with the chips.  This soup is so easy and quick to make too and it tastes even better the next day, so be sure to make enough for leftovers!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Deer Tracks


 

Last night we got a dusting of snow.  Originally they were talking something like 6-8 inches and the kids were expecting school to be called off today.  They weren’t happy when they realized we only got a dusting and they’d have to get ready and go to school.  Last year we had a very warm winter with barely any snow, so they are itching for a snow day.  

Going out to my car this morning I noticed some deer tracks in the snow.  It looked like the deer was hanging around my lilac bush.  Looking for a snack maybe? 
 

Two years ago we were slammed with FEET of snow.  It was awful!  Rooves and decks were collapsing, people were getting hurt and almost everyone I know, including us, had ice dams that were leaking into their homes.  At one point the snow banks were well over my head. Most people’s mailboxes were buried so some started hanging buckets from sticks stuck in the snow so they could get their mail.  I don't know why but this struck me as hilarious and I was thankful for a little comic relief during such a stressful time.
 

That year we often saw large groups of deer running down our road.  I assumed they had wandered into the neighborhood in search of food.  I felt so bad for the poor things.  I wanted to put out a bowl of something for them, but the hubby insisted "You can’t feed wild animals!”  HMPH!

Since then I haven’t really seen many deer around so seeing those tracks this morning was really cool.  And while it would have been fun to have a snow day with the kids, maybe do some sledding and then relax by a fire with a little hot cocoa, I was thankful that I didn't have to shovel off my roof.
 
 

Friday, January 18, 2013

New Year, new me!


Ok maybe not.  Every year, even though I tell people I don’t make resolutions, I make a mental list of things I plan to do in the New Year.  I always have grand plans to organize my life, get healthy, be a better mother, wife, friend, etc, etc, etc.  Usually by week 2 of the New Year I’ve abandoned most of those plans.  This year is no different, except, I’m starting a blog.  Something I’ve wanted to do for a while but just never found the time for.  For Christmas this year my husband gave me a swanky new camera, and I need an excuse to use it.  My kids are getting sick of me sticking the camera in their face when they are doing things like eating, sleeping, watching TV, or trying to talk to me.  They told me to “get a hobby” so here I am! 
 
See what I mean?!