Saturday, March 16, 2019

Christchurch 3-15-19

Hate has no place here.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Book Club - Unbound by Steph Jagger

2019 - 12 

"What I saw from the little window of my plane was more dramatic than I had even imagined.  My welcome to the country was big and bold, as if ruby-red peacocks had been let loose to dance all over the place, streaking everything in sight with their color."

"Who are you?" he asked "And what kind of woman do you want to become?"

"Find a place inside where there's joy, and the joy will burn out the pain."

"Imagine what's possible now."


I'm currently stuck in a funk/wallowing in self pity in a bunch of aspects of my life and can't seem to get anywhere with anything.
But now at least my reading list is up to date, so that's something, right?

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Book Club - Guess Who by Chris McGeorge

2019 - 11

"Everyone's a liar - to the world, to other people, to themselves."

"Sometimes all we want is to be seen."

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Book Club - A Few Feet Short

2019 - 10

"The hardest part of finding an authentic path is not the effort involved in following through but missing the friends you leave behind."

"I am here, and here is all that matters."

"We don't fly through clouds, because in Nepal the clouds have rocks in them."

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Monday, March 11, 2019

Book Club - The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith


"The dead could only speak through the mouths of those left behind, and through the signs they left scattered behind them."

"How easy it was to capitalize on a person's own bent for self destruction; how simple to nudge them into non-being, then to stand back and shrug and agree that it had been the inevitable result of a chaotic, catastrophic life."

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Book Club - Andrea Martin's Lady Parts


"I hope I have been able to stop the cycle of secrets in my family."

"I was alone, in my head, with no distractions.  And that is not a pretty place to be."

"Miracles do occur.  You can tell her that you are going to cherish the present time together, while waiting for a miracle."

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Book Club - The Dead Moms Club by Kate Spencer


"Mother's Day doesn't have to be just about honoring the living.  But it doesn't have to be about the dead either.  It can be about honoring you, because you are one of the best things she ever did."

"Almost every day I look up to the sky and think, Are you here?  Are you seeing this?"

"She is nowhere, but she is everywhere too."


This is the last of the 3 books on death I impulse purchased last Spring.  (1 here, 2 here.)

Thursday, February 21, 2019

2 muffins from epicurious

My family is cruel and often prefers store bought baking over my own.
These 2 recipes were a hit with them though.
They aren't all bad all the time, my family.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Amazing, beautiful, gorgeous bread

Getting this one from all angles 'cause it's so lovely.

Friday, February 15, 2019

Book Club - Born A Crime by Trevor Noah


"Love is a creative act.  When you love someone you create a new world for them."

"Growing up in a home of abuse, you struggle with the notion that you can love a person you hate, or hate a person you love."

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Freezer Cleanout Part 3

So much room in the freezer.  So much happiness at getting it cleaned out!

Did I mention I have a small life?

So last time I had the following to deal with -

Turkey bones
Meat pies
Apple muffins
Seafood patties
Hawaiian chicken

I made another batch of turkey stock and it got used up on a chicken pot pie with biscuit crust AND  a batch of Mac and Cheese done in the instant pot.
The ham became ham fried rice which the kids loved.
The meat pies are still in the fridge freezer.
The apple muffins got taken to work because no one here was eating them.
Seafood patties got eaten.
Hawaiian chicken got postponed because we had too many leftovers.


Last week was a tough one - I was short on time for menu planning, and we had a couple of nights already set so I didn't need much.  I planned on heating up the leftover container of seafood stew I found, and  to use the hawaiian chicken that hadn't gotten used the week before.
I took a bag of buns out for sandwiches etc.

We are getting into weird territory now - 2 (or possibly more) bags of hashbrowns, so much frozen spinach - both store bought and home frozen.  Spicy sausage that I know the kids won't eat.  Coffee beans.  Lots of black bananas.

Also - I found TWO MORE half bags of ice.  I married a hoarder.   


Neither the seafood stew or hawaiian chicken got eaten as we had so much leftovers from our lunar new years dinner and enchiladas.
The buns didn't defrost well and only a couple got eaten before they started to go moldy.

I have just finished my menu plan for the week and not much from the freezer is involved.

I'm going to use a block of frozen spinach for some creamed spinach tonight.
I'm going to turn some leftover holiday turkey into turkey cakes for tomorrow's dinner.

I found a freezer bag with a ground beef/pork combo we will use for Taco Tuesday.

The Hawaiian chicken is optimistically on the plan for Friday's dinner, but that is so far away who even knows what will happen.

Saturday, February 09, 2019

Another Chrissy Teigen Sunday Dinner - Thai Fishcakes with Peanut Sauce and Skillet Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Blondies

I haven't been taking too many Sunday Dinner photos, or even making a good effort to remember what we had, but here's a super good one from Chrissy Teigen - Thai Fishcakes with Peanut Sauce followed by a completely decadent dessert of chocolate peanut butter blondies.

The fishcakes were very easy to make - I left out the spice for the kids and the Grandfather and they were still perfect.  Peanut sauce is my very favorite and this was a very good one.

The dessert was amazing too and I think we all gained a couple of pounds before we even cut into it.  So rich and good.

Thursday, February 07, 2019

Book Club - Calypso by David Sedaris



"Our silence translated to: Let's pretend we didn't hear that."

"The times I miss her most are when I see something she might have liked: a piece of jewelry or a painting.  The view of a white sand beach off a balcony.  How I'd have loved to spoil her with beautiful things."

 "Man, oh man," he'll say in my memory, lifting his glass and taking us all in, "isn't this just fantastic?"  


My first David Sedaris book.  Heading to the library for another one.

Sunday, February 03, 2019

2019 - February 3 - Day 34 - A Morning in Pictures

My alarm went off at 5 this morning, and I crawled out of bed at 5:30 to see how cold and snowy it was.  
I thought I might do some yoga this morning before I started the less fun jobs but instead I crawled under my blanket in the living room and finished my book.
Got moving at 6:30 - we bought a weather monitor station at Costco last month (The Mister's favorite hobby is obsessing about the weather) and it told me that it was -20 out, with windchill -26.  Wheeeeeee.

I read my to-do list that I wrote last night and decided to start with cleaning the fridge.

This is the after and it's still very full because we are having a Lunar New Year dinner with my Dad tonight.  Lots of delicious dishes are planned.

Next I made tomorrow's dinner - Sour Cream Enchiladas.  I am very excited to try this tomorrow; it was easy to make and looks wonderful.

Cheese grated with my Grandmother-in-laws cheese grater.  I hate grating cheese - hate it! - but The Mister wasn't up yet so I did it myself.

The Girl made herself a peanut butter, strawberry jam and dried apricot tortilla for first breakfast.

For dessert tonight I'm making pineapple hamantaschen.  I made the filling and the dough early as they both need to chill.  The recipe left out the amount of water needed for the dough - I used 3 TB.  We will see shortly if that works out.

Here's the baked enchiladas.  Mmmmmm.

Yesterday morning I read through all the recipes to make my shopping list.  This morning I read them again for timing and discovered that the noodles for the Crispy Chow Mein needed to be cooked in advance so they can dry out, and the shrimp mixture for the Crispy Prawn Balls needs to be in the fridge for a while too.  I cooked the noodles and laid them out to dry, then warmed up the car and drove to my Dad's to get the shrimp. 

Getting ready to make the Hamantaschen - the filling has cooled.

We went to the library yesterday.  Got 2 cookbooks and one memoir.  If I get all the dinner prep done soon, laundry finished, dusting done, and journal work, I can have some reading time!

Hope you are having a lovely Sunday.  Stay warm, be kind, do something nice for yourself today.

Friday, February 01, 2019

Unicorn Birthday Cake - or, Thank God Four Year Olds Don't Have High Standards

So The Girl is like many other kids out there and is currently obsessed with unicorns. 
I remembered a video someone had shared on The Facebook about how "easy" it is to make a unicorn (or lots of other animals) out of a 9x13 pan cake.
It was her 4th birthday!  A fancy cake was needed!  And so I went for it.

I made the cake (box mix with sprinkles mixed in) the day before her birthday and so the morning of, I was up early to knock this thing out of the park and wow my family.

I realized right away that I hadn't thought about what I would serve the cake on, and I knew we didn't have any sort of tray or pan big enough to hold it.  I knew The Mister would not be excited if I woke him up at 5am to share this info, so I wandered around the kitchen for a bit before deciding I would have to cover my biggest baking sheet foil and use the back of it.

I covered the pan in foil, and briefly felt a little sting on my hand, but I was too busy getting nervous about how wrong this was all going to go to give it much thought.

Following the video, which by now I had watched 20 times, I made my first cuts:

I started to move the pieces to the unicorn shape when I noticed something red smeared on my hand and on a bit of the cake.  It was blood.  I had cut the palm of my hand on the TINFOIL and was bleeding onto the CAKE.  Nice.

I bandaged myself up, cleaned up all the blood, and trimmed the blood off the cake.  Thank God no one was awake and watching this.
I had realized already that the tray covered in foil looked like crap BEFORE I got blood everywhere, so I trimmed the cake down a smidgy more and left it on the cutting board.

A month before The Girl's birthday, The Boy had his birthday.  I had a cake plan in mind and some ingredients bought - he is very much into Harry Potter lately and I thought he might like a cake like the one Hargid made for Harry - but then a couple of weeks before his birthday he announced that he wanted a totally different cake, so I had the package of white icing and a tube of pink icing already in the cupboard.

I bought the icing at Bulk Barn, it was some sort of "professional" icing that all you had a to do was add water to and whip.  I had planned on following the video and piping little dots/blobs all over the cake, but this was not that sort of icing.  
The pink tube icing went on sort of ok, but it was heavier than the white icing and it was looking like it was going to slide right off the hoofs - which it actually did a few hours later.
The black tube icing was a real pain in the ass and I was getting very frustrated that I couldn't get it quite where I wanted it.
Also, I feared the unicorn looked more like a pig.

I started working with the little tub of fondant I'd bought at Michaels, and it was wayyyy harder than I thought.  I was getting pretty unhappy about the whole thing.  At this point, The Boy woke up and came into the kitchen and was so excited about how the cake looked.  He flattered me enough to keep me going, and together we managed to get that damn fondant shaped into a horn and tail.

The video we were following also had a rainbow mane, but we didn't have a big enough unicorn to fit one in nicely.

The girl was beyond thrilled with her cake, which made all the blood loss, sweat and tears worth it.

One super weird thing that happened, that you can see the starting of in the last photo, is that the white icing actually began  to dissolve in spots shortly after the cake was done.  The icing on the right leg above you can see it looks almost bubbly.  So odd.

Very awesome YouTube video here .

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Freezer Cleanout - Part 2

It is a bit sad how exciting I find it to open my freezer and see a bit of space.
I have a small life.


I did very well on what I pulled out of the freezer on the second week. The turkey bone bag was so big I was able to make 2 batches of turkey stock - I made one into soup that same day and used some of the roasted garlic in the the soup (turkey noodle, so good, I was the only one who ate it)  and froze the other batch of broth.  I made the broth in the Instant Pot.  Very easy.

I used the blueberries for a pan of Blueberry Grunt from The Urban Vegan, and added some strawberries that I bought especially for that Sunday dessert.

The chicken cutlets were actually pork - and they got eaten on the Sunday as well.

The sausages were made into a weird crock pot thing that no one really liked.

The buns got eaten for breakfasts and lunches, and the pirogis and bacon made an easy weeknight dinner with some broccoli and peas.

Unfortunately the kebabs got tossed - once thawed it was clear one was an odd shade of greeney brown, which made me nervous, so I got rid of them.

Here is what I took out of the freezer last Saturday morning:

A half bag of ice left over from when our fridge died.  I tossed it.
Half a bag of frozen papaya - will be good for smoothies.
Frozen black bananas
Corn on the cob
Cooked turkey
Cooked pork belly slab
Naan bread
Flatbread shell
Not pictured - a bag of chopped rhubarb

The papaya went into a smoothie with some watermelon and strawberries from the  fridge and a black banana from the counter.  There's a bit left but it won't last long.
The naan bread and flatbreads were turned into Saturday night pizzas.
The turkey and corn were used for a weeknight dinner, and the pork belly was served with eggs and toast.
The rhubarb became a Sunday night dessert.

Yesterday morning (week 4)  I trekked back to the freezer, admired the growing amount of room again, and emerged with this:

ANOTHER bag of turkey bones.  Going to make it into stock and freeze it; makes more sense to have frozen turkey stock than bones.
Leftover ham slices/chunks - not sure what to do with this.
A couple of meat pies from Costco
Apple muffins
2 seafood patties bought from a butcher. 
Not pictured - a container of  homemade "Hawaiian Chicken" I will thaw for dinner later in the week.

The pickings are getting slimmer and weirder.

There are so many bananas down there - it may be time for some banana baking.

I am going to have to do some internetting - there is a lot of frozen spinach down there, both bags I have portioned and frozen and a couple of the blocks you get from the store.  What to do?

I tossed out two items this week - some old popsicles and a single serving size container of leftovers that was SO freezer burned it hurt my eyes.  The plastic container it was in had a crack, so it was definitely time for it to go.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Book Club - Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert


"Similarly, when the question is raised, "What kind of God do you believe in?" my answer is easy: "I believe in a magnificent God." "

"Never forget that once upon a time, in an unguarded moment, you recognized yourself as a friend."

"May Peace prevail on Earth, reads the sign." 

"The Yogic sages say that all the pain of a human life is caused by words, as is all the joy."


Another November book sale purchase down!  I was trying to read 5 different books at the same time; with this one finished, it's down to 4.  I liked this one very much, although the portion I thought I would like the most - India - I liked the least.
Maybe I'll read it again in a few years and see if it feels differently to me.

Friday, January 25, 2019

Sunday Dinner - Onion Buns

I made some Onion Buns from King Arthur Flour that I made for the first time 9 years ago.

My helper was very interested in the dough and insisted on being the one that put the rolls on the baking sheet.  She did a fine job.

They were a good hearty bun with a mild onion flavor for most of us - The Boy said they were too oniony for him and wouldn't eat his - and he is a carb addict like his parents so he really meant it. 

They went very well with our soup, meat and cheese, and veggies.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Mincemeat Tarts from 100 Breads

We had the best Christmas we could this year, and missed my mom terribly every second of it. 

I know it would have made her so happy to see the kids with my dad, and she would have laughed a lot at how big and smart and silly the kids are.

We did a traditional dinner this year, turkey and all the trimmings, and I patted myself on the back for how perfectly the turkey came out.

The highlight for me was the homemade mince tarts - my favorite.  We used the recipe from Paul Hollywood's 100 Breads which is easy - the pastry is so simple even I can't mess it up, and the filling is simply jarred mince with some apples and mandarin oranges stirred in.  We left out the oranges because my dad didnt' like the sound of that, but I'd like to try it sometime.  I forgot to dust them with sugar, so there they are naked on the right in the photo below.

The ones on the right were a Christmas Eve gift from a thoughtful person, and we had fun at Christmas dinner tasting them both and pretending we were judges on a baking show trying to pick the winner.  It was super close, but thankfully mine squeaked out a victory.

Friday, January 18, 2019

Pork Belly Two Ways

On a recent trip to Costco we came across some pork belly strips in the meat department.  I think I had pork belly once in my life as part of a tasting menu at a restaurant?  Or maybe not?  It is one of those ingredients that seems too exotic for the likes of us.
The Grandpa, who has fond memories of pork belly from a tasting menu at a restaurant (hey that sounds familiar.....) decided we should buy it and have it for a Sunday dinner.

Much debate about cooking methods and techniques and styles and seasonings and sauces was discussed over the next few weekends (the pack of belly was safe in the freezer) and finally we decided on Honey Glazed Crispy Pork Belly.

It was easy and delicious and we all loved it, especially The Boy, which was a bit of a surprise.
The pack of pork was huge and we froze the cooked leftovers and a while later we turned a couple more of the strips into Pork Belly Hash with some potatos, onions, bell peppers, garlic and paprika, with eggs on the side.  
So good.

We've got a few more stashed away to be used up and I'm thinking a stir fry, or better yet - 
FRIED RICE!!!!!!  Now that sounds perfect!

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Book Club - The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

2019 -1

"I tried to make a home for myself here, tried to turn the apartment into the sort of place where the person I wanted to be would live."

"You'd be destroying what makes it special." she said.  "It's the Joshua tree's struggle that gives it its beauty."

"I hoped when New Yorkers looked at me, they would see whatever it was that Dad saw." 


Another November purchase already read, I'm on a roll!  In the fall I read another book by JW - Half Broke Horses.  I enjoyed both of them, but this was was very difficult for me.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Freezer cleanout has begun

Our freezer is in a pretty appalling state right now - full to the brim....but of what?
There never seems to be anything useful for a quick meal, it's full of fruit, bread, greens, bones....
Where are the chicken pieces, packs of ground meats?  
They are at the store because I have no room for them.
With the dawn of a new year I've decided that enough is enough and I'm getting my freezer cleaned up, along with the rest of my life (ha!)

Last Saturday -
I was working on a menu plan for a busy week and went to the freezer hoping to find some stew meat and some chicken.  I found the stew meat - no chicken, and also unearthed some yeast, which I added to my container in the fridge freezer, and some corn tortillas and homemade enchilada sauce, which I also moved to the upstairs freezer in anticipation of making a version of these green chile enchiladas.

I also brought up a bag of home frozen spinach, half a bag of frozen blueberries and a nearly full bag of mixed frozen berries.
I turned the spinach, the blueberries, and some of the mixed berries into a smoothie for me and the kids, along with a banana that was heading south and some almost expired coconut yogurt.


The beef stew meat was turned into Instant Pot Korean Beef, but the tortillas and sauce were not used.  The Mister pulled a box of mini sausage rolls out for a dinner/snack one night but the kids refused to eat them.  We tried to reason with them - you like sausage, you like pastry!  No go.

This morning  - 
I can see improvement in the amount of space at the top of the freezer!!!!!  Progress is being made.
I found some frozen chicken cutlets that will get cooked for tomorrows dinner.  I also grabbed a bag of turkey bones to make some soup, a bag of roasted garlic heads to move to the freezer upstairs so I will remember to use them, a bag of cheese buns, MORE blueberries, some swiss chard - maybe for the soup?, 2 Korean kebabs from Superstore that I will cook up for The Mister and I to eat for lunch or dinner.  I also found a bag of pierogis and some bacon, which will be an easy and tasty dinner too.  Grabbed a package of sausages too - if I can find a crock pot recipe or something easy for them, my week is practically set.

I am not above tossing out anything that really needs to go, although my goal is to eat as much of this as we can - I found a glass jar of homemade jam that was thankfully in a freezer bag; it had cracked or leaked so that got thrown out, along with a truly unidentifiable bag of something pretty scary looking that I didn't want to thaw to find out what it was.  Ew.

Wednesday, January 09, 2019

playwright's melt

I pulled my copy of My Father's Daughter off the shelf a while back to make the 10 Hour Chicken for a special Sunday Dinner.  It was so good! Better than I remembered from all those years ago.  
The book sat out for the rest of the week and I started flipping through it, reading recipes to The Mister of things that sounded good.  
When I got to playwright's melt - olives, scallions, cheese, curry powder and veganaise spread on an english muffin and toasted, The Mister stopped and said "That's breakfast today" and started shredding cheese and firing up the broiler.

The kids both took one look at our plates and asked for cereal but that was ok - this would be wasted on someone who didn't appreciate it.

We used regular mayo instead of veganaise and canned olives instead of fancy ones and it was deeeelicious.  This version doubles the cheese but that ain't a bad thing.

Saturday, January 05, 2019

Sunday Dinner - One Pot Seafood Stew and Skillet Flatbread

We cooked an absolutely gorgeous dinner from Cravings 2 by Chrissy Teigen that knocked all of our socks off, ALMOST including the kids!
This seafood stew is amazing, fully of fish, shrimp and scallops.  Incredibly flavorful.
I did what I often do and increased the liquid amounts, so it was more of a soup than a stew but then there were more leftovers and we were all glad for that.

The flatbread was a super duper major hit with my carb loving family.  This is on repeat around here.

Such a delicious amazing dinner from one of my favorite books.

Tuesday, January 01, 2019

Advice for 2019


THIS is how we are going into 2019.

Put those emotional vampires, the negatives, the drama first people at the back of the pack.
Focus on you and those that are important to you - those that love and care about you JUST the way you are - not the ones that only want you to act and react the way they think you should.  The ones that only reach out when they need something or some validation.  The ones who ignore you until it works for them.  Because - real love and kindness?  Isn't like that.
Bye to those guys.

Reach out today to someone you love, like, admire, miss - whatever.  Tell them you are thinking about them.  Wish them well.  Put some good vibes out into the world today, on day one of 2019

Here we go; peace and love to you as we start this brand new year.