Weekend recap, March 25 edition

1. Tracy's lovely house | 2. Back at the hike | 3. My favorite part | 4. Unexpected date night | 5. Chow, Norfolk | 6. Local oysters | 7. Selfie | 8. Front row seats | 9. Unexpected lunch | 10. - 12. One of our favorite spots | 13. Late night drop off | 14. Chesapeake sunset | 15. Hardworking doggies | 16. New drink | 17. Photo of the day | 18. MSL inspiration | 19. Fireside day | 20. Fireside supper | 21. Winter's last gasp

What a SHORT weekend it was. Thank the good lord I started it with a hike with my friend Tracy. Seriously. We'd gotten off track with those (life gets in the way), but we seem, after both agreeing that our families like us better when we hike regularly, to be back at it. She had to drop her kids off at school before we went and I had a few minutes to myself in her sun-filled living room, and that was just lovely. I read. A book. Life is good.

Callum had a crazy-busy baseball weekend this weekend with an away game on Friday and a tournament on Saturday. It's a bit of a rite of passage, these away games. You leave school early and ride a bus with your team. On the way home the team stops at some grocery-type-store thing (this is still unclear to me) and gets "dinner." All I know is that Callum had chicken, and one kid had six cupcakes. On Saturday we were gone ALL DAY. Our kids did well. Won two, lost one. All good. Callum is still on the cusp of this and that's okay. Sort of. It'll sort itself out. However. As soon as Neel and I realized that there was a THREE HOUR wait between the second and last game, we high tailed it the hell out of there and off to our favorite restaurant in the area. One we never get to. Go us.

I had this weirdest realization last week when I stepped on our upstairs landing and figured out that if we reconfigured the rooms (like majorly) we could easily live just in the upstairs of our house. There's plenty of room. That's like, ridiculous, people. And then I read an article in this month's Martha Stewart Living about a family who completely down sized their lives. I totally want to do this. It's not happening anytime soon, but someday. Now, I don't see myself carrying mason jars into store when I go shopping, but. I have dreams, you guys. I'm feeling restless and daydreamy, and my next big mistake was watching House Hunters International while I cooked all afternoon. Nothing irritates me more in that show than when people move to Europe and look at gorgeous flats in Berlin or Stockholm and say things like, "That's the refrigerator? It's so small!" Or, "I don't think our king size bed will fit here, honey." Good grief. But Copenhagen? I'm sold.

And then it snowed! It's all gone now. Cold sleety rain today. (Yuck.) But it was pretty while it lasted. Yes, of course it's almost April and we're ready for spring, but the snow is so exciting and pretty around here. What was the most exciting thing that happened to you this weekend? That might have been it for me!

And if I thought we had a rough and busy weekend, we had nothing on our three dogs. They crack me up. Apparently there is some sort of critter in the wall by our fireplace that requires total vigilance. Complete concentration. They wore themselves out guarding us from it. With all the staring.

Five things, march 22 edition

1. I think I'm so glad that baseball season has started around here. How about my lucky #14? All he wanted to do was play for his school and there he is. His lack of experience is showing a bit (it's only his second spring to play, remember), but he's out there, working hard. That's all we ask. Ever, really. He's loving every bit of it. Practice after school, leaving early for games, all the gear. It's fun to see him so much in his element. Thriving.

2. I think, however, that the temperatures need to be more reflective of baseball weather. Ahem. Snow flurries on Thursday. Cal will be playing in 40º temps this afternoon, and a three game tournament on Saturday will be much the same. Momma's chilly. Also, whose idea was it to make baseball pants white? Buying stock in Oxyclean.

3. I think I will be spending much of tomorrow thinking of this dear friend and wishing her merry. Spare a thought for sunny skies and many blessings for Annie and her beloved.

4. I think I need to give a shout-out to my twice-monthly photography group. We met yesterday, somewhat diminished this week, but this collection of like minded folk never fails to energize me. For various reasons, I've missed our last several sessions, but I work hard not to. Even when we talk about silly stuff, I come out inspired and energized and I always learn something new. Thank you, my friends, for teaching me so much.

5. I think I'm finally starting to shake the dust off. Got some stuff done that I'd been dreading (doesn't that feel good?), and wrote out some lists of things I need to do (doesn't that feel good too?). Our food photography workshop has been canceled for March and scheduled for May, but that's okay. We have lots of company and fun coming down the pike. The days are longer and the weather is warming up. Nothing but blue skies ahead. Happy weekend, my beloveds.

supper club, march 2013 {life}

Tracy and Mark (hosts)
Lauren and Neel
Artemis and Peter
Catherine and Michael
Jennifer and Dave

Not attending
Bill and Ali

The Menu
Theme: Green (for St. Patrick's Day)
Chilled Pea and Watercress Soup with Parmesean Crisps
Cream Cheese and Pepper Jelly
Spinach Lasagne
Corned Beef and Cabbage
Roasted Asparagus
Irish Colcannon
Spinach Salad
Chocolate Guinness Cake
Key Lime Pie
Bread Pudding with Irish Cream

Next Supper Club, May. Julie's House

chilly for chili {life}

We tend to be a white chili family around here. You know, shredded chicken or ground turkey and some kind of white bean like cannelini or great northerns. Mostly because, let's face it, it's what I prefer and I'm the one who's generally doing the cooking. However. I like to think of myself as an accommodating person, and if requests are made, well. Sometimes I listen.

We're at a funny and interesting stage at our house. I call it Teenage Boy. Neel and I are precariously trying to balance our own portion control with Callum's need to eat constantly. I really am trying to honor the fact that he needs fuel for this growing machine and offer up healthy but satisfying and filling (especially filling) choices. Enter Mad Hungry. Have you seen this book? Neel loves the title because he says he remembers being hungry just like that when he was a boy. So hungry that you could cry from it. So hungry that you actually got mad about it.

So we made some hearty chili, and now I might make tomato based chili more.

Chili  adapted from Mad Hungry: Feeding Men and Boys

3 smoked serrano chiles
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
1.5 pounds stew meat, cubed
1 tablespoon coarse salt
2 teaspoons cumin
1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 bay leaf
1 pinch of brown sugar, if desired
1 28 oz. can petite diced tomatoes
12 oz. beer
2 15 oz cans beans (pinto, kidney, black, etc.) with liquid

Using a dry skillet and high heat, lightly toast the chilies for a few minutes. Once roasted, remove from pan and slice the chilies to remove and discard the stem and seeds. Soak the chilies in boiling water for five minutes to soften and then pureé in a food processor with enough liquid to form a thick paste.

In a deep pot, heat olive oil over medium high heat and sauté onion and garlic until translucent. Increase the heat to high, add the beef and roughly two teaspoons of the salt and brown.

Once beef has browned, add cumin, red pepper flakes, cayenne, bay leaf, chili paste and remaining salt. Stir to combine, adding brown sugar to taste. Combine tomatoes and beer with beef mixture and simmer for 30 minutes. Add beans and cook an additional 20 minutes. You may need to add more water if the chili becomes too thick.

Serve with diced avocado, shredded cheese, sour cream and lime wedges.

Weekend recap, March 18 edition

1. Furniture moving = dog panic | 2. Curtain twitching | 3. Yes, I mopped. | 4. Game day dress code | 5. Go Dogs! | 6. Big Win | 7. Friday night | 8. Cal's standard fare | 9. Dessert thanks to my bread lady | 10. Weekend reading | 11. Callum tucks in | 12. Living room light | 13. Project Postal | 14. Warm-weather cocktail | 15. Cubano and sauce | 16. Clover | 17. Nobody "liked" my picture of an iron on instagram, what? | 18. Men at work | 19. Leeks | 20. Colcannon | 21. Supper club

Oh, it was a nice weekend. I cleaned a little on Friday. Seeing Sue's home when she guest posted for Erin inspired me. All those lovely homes, really. I wasn't sure if I'd keep it, and we still need a throw rug to anchor everything (one that's washable, hello doggies!), but once they got over their surprise, Neel and Callum both liked it. It feels lighter in there. I think we'll keep it. For now at least. Working in there gave me the chance to curtain twitch as my neighbors brought their daughter home after an almost 3 month stint in the NICU. What a happy day! I get a little weepy just thinking about it. Those are good days, yes? Callum's first game was on Friday too. Chilly. He didn't get as much playing time as he wanted, but that was tempered by the fact that his team won 11-0! It's always like this for our boy. He's behind the curve in baseball, having started so late compared to the other kids. But we reminded him how things worked out last year and how he got better and better as the year went on and got more and more playing time until he was one of the strongest on the team. He's trying to be patient and work hard. Good lessons those. Still, 11-0! Worthy of celebration, yes? So of course we went to his favorite restaurant for dinner. Between you and me, I could use a break, but it's not always about me. Cough, cough.

We're both reading Little House books right now. Cal saw me pull out Little Town on the Prairie, so he grabbed my copy of Little House in the Big Woods. Despite it being in three pieces, he read it all day Saturday. What is it with those books? They work for my family. It was so fun to just hang out at home and cook and read and talk. Re-entry was hard last week, and I think Callum needed a day to snuggle under the covers and read. Saturday night felt like a movie night, so we watched Argo. Wow. I'd said to Callum that I wasn't sure if he'd like it or not (our phrase for movies like this is "too talkey"), but after, as we were going to bed he said, "I know you said it might be 'too talkey,' Momma, but there wasn't one minute that Argo wasn't super intense!" If you haven't seen it yet, go for it.

Sunday was our Supper Club, and I'll tell you more about that later this week, but hello, YUM. We're really starting to gel as a group, and that feels so nice. Good food doesn't hurt either. But the total bonus was getting my Project Postal letter in the mail late on Saturday. Sent by Stephanie from Pretty and Delectable. How wonderful to find a new blog! I took a quick peek this morning, (hello, lemon curd and skiing!) and I can't wait to go back for more! Thank you, thank you Stephanie! What a beautiful bright spot on my day! My Project Postal goes out today.

Thank you, too, to all of you who checked in on my funk. I'm pulling out of it. A bit, at least. It's nice to know I have such a good support system, and I have some work to do to. That's a good thing.

five things, march 15 edition

1. I think whoever came up with the idea to have the Monday after Spring Break to be the same day as the first Monday of Daylight Savings needs a stern talking to. Who do I need to see?

2. I think I was absolutely riveted to all of this Pope stuff this week. It happened to me last time, eight years ago, too. I'm not Catholic, or even especially religious, but all the pomp and ritual is absolutely fascinating to me. I've loved learning about every little behind-the-scenes detail. And it's been so moving. How can you not be moved for all those people who wait so anxiously for word, in the rain, and then are so joyous?

3. I think I've had some wildly swinging reading interests in the last week. This book, which, well, no comment. Christine, if you want to know what I really thought about it, shoot me an email, 'kay? As an avid and ongoing reader of The Little House on the Prairie Books, I was thrilled when my friend Megan sent me Wendy McClure's The Wilder Life. I loved this book. It was like reading my biography. If only I were funnier. And since, (as Ruth guessed) twisting newspaper into tight wads to get our wet wood to light when the power was out during our stay on the mountain reminded me of The Long Winter, I'm full-force back into a Little House kick. Finished TLW last night, Little Town on the Prairie, here I come.

4. I think I'm in a bit of a funk. Undetermined cause, at the moment. My mom says funks can come right before a big creative push, but right now I just feel blah and blue and not really good at much. A hike with my friend Tracy this week helped immeasurably, and the notion of supper club on Sunday gives me something to look forward to. But right now? Right now I'm feeling just a little blue.

5. I think today's a day we've, but mostly Callum, been waiting on for quite awhile now. First baseball game of the season. When Callum started Little League (was it really only last year?) all he wanted was to someday play for his school. It was a long road of tryouts (nearly two weeks) and anxiety about cuts, but here we are. He made the team. He's been practicing hard, and each day it seems he comes home with some new piece of gear (please god, help me with the white pants). So if you can, think of me and Neel, sitting in the stands around 4 PM today, and if you will, think of #14 a little too.

dream trip {life}

Snow moves in.

Night skiing.

Waiting for word.

White out.

The day after.

Holy photos, Batman. These are just the ones from our phones. I decided I needed to break things up into two posts, so today I'll tell you guys all about our adventures, and on Wednesday, I'll share the photos I got with Big Daddy. I'm really pleased. Winter Wonderland.

Neel and I have been in some big snow over the course of our years together. There was the Blizzard of 1993, one winter when we were living in Central Pennsylvania and got over 80 inches, a trip to Yosemite and an amazing lodge where it started snowing the night of our arrival and dumped two feet on us. This trip was kind of like that. As soon as I booked our condo, we started watching the weather, hoping mostly for lots of slopes open and no 70º days (it is early March, after all!). When the weather reports started showing signs of Winter Storm Saturn, quite honestly, we were afraid to hope. When they showed a forecast of 20+ inches over the area we'd be traveling to, well, I knew that would never come true. I'd be thrilled if Neel and Callum got a few inches, enough to ski on some fresh powder and enough for me to enjoy it gently falling, but come on people. This kind of thing doesn't happen to us. Still, we watched the timing, and made sure to get to the top of the mountain early Tuesday evening.

Callum was itching to get on the slopes, so once we dropped of our stuff, I drove the guys down to the resort for some night skiing. As soon as we stepped out of the car, we started to see flurries. Here in the Tidewater we're so used to forecasts for snow not going our way, it was still hard to imagine it might happen. Somewhere along the way we realized that we'd forgotten Callum's coat (nice, huh?), so as we took advantage of end of season sales and stocked him up, we asked the clerk about the upcoming storm. She said, "Um, yeah. Make sure you go ahead and bring wood into your house. Have lots of candles and matches. Do you have a flashlight? We do have blackouts on the mountain."


Honestly, losing power never once occurred to me.

Have fun skiing, guys!

I went back to the condo, grabbed some wood on the way down, and tucked in with the doggies. The first pictures at the top of this post, I took while Neel and Callum were off having the time of their lives. Our condo opened on to a bit of a grassy knoll, and the dogs loved sniffing around. The first time we went out it was spitting snow, and each subsequent time we peeked out the door, the flakes got thicker. We had an easy view of the lights of the ski slopes, but after about two hours I looked up and the lights were gone! I couldn't see them any more! I assumed the resort had shut down for the night so I texted Callum who said, "No." They were still skiing. It was just snowing too hard for me to ski. An hour later he called to say they were coming home. Visibility had dropped and the wind kicked up. They couldn't see more than a foot in front of them. Time to call it a night.

Callum slept on a pull out bed in the living room in front of the fire, and we all woke up at five to find the snow still coming down and the drifts piling high. Neel and I crawled into bed with him to watch out the patio windows and see the sun come up. The dogs were worried. I'd be worried too if the snow were higher than my head. Doesn't Thea look concerned in that picture? After a hearty breakfast, we checked on the slopes and got the word that they were all open, so Neel and Callum got suited up and called the shuttle to come and pick them up.

Except. The shuttle had flipped over in a ditch. They said they'd call us back, so for a bit Neel and Cal waited. No call. So my boys decided to ski into the resort. Yikes! They made it, no real problem. Nothing more than deep and powdery snow where if you stopped for a second your skis sunk up to your knees. My son was determined.

Over the course of the morning the lights had flickered once or twice, early on. Well before Neel and Callum left the condo. After that no problem at all. So despite the whipping wind and blowing snow, I felt tucked in and cozy. Here's a series of texts between me and my dad:

DAD 11:23 a.m.: Now all "we" have to worry about is power.
ME 11:24 a.m.: I'm less worried than I was. Seems pretty stable now. Knock wood. ;)
ME 11:25 a.m.: Uh, power just went out.
DAD: 11:26 a.m. Your fault.

Cal called shortly after to say that the power was out all over the mountain. He'd been getting ready to head out for a ski when the snow patrol stopped him, saying, "Don't go down!" People were stuck at the base of the mountain and on the lifts, and the wind was picking up. Neel and Callum were stuck at the resort with no shuttle. The skied in, and they had to walk home.

I built up the fire and tried not to worry about them trudging up the hill in the wind and snow. In truth, it took less time for them to get home than I expected. Only an hour. We warmed everybody up and snuggled under blankets to play Monopoly. Five hours later, lights back on! Despite the blazing fire, the temp had dropped over ten degrees in the condo, so I'm really glad we didn't have to go through the night without heat or light. Shortly after the lights came back on, the owners called to check on us and since they didn't have renters checking in until Friday, they graciously allowed us to stay another day and night. What a relief! At this point the snow was still coming down, the car was snowed in and there was no sign of stopping. Now we could relax about getting off the mountain and Callum could finally, finally, FINALLY ski. Sometimes things really are worth the wait.

That night, while it was still snowing, we walked the dogs. Because of the location of her tumors, Violet has trouble navigating stairs. Or so she tells us. She bounded up and down the five sets of stairs at the codo with total ease. Both our girls were total snow bunnies! When Neel and Callum headed out to ski on Thursday, I shoveled a path out the patio door to snap some photos of the mountain. I sank in drifts past my thighs. By Friday morning there was a crust on the snow that, if we treaded lightly, we could walk on. Dogs especially!

Callum got some photos for us too, on the mountain and of his nighttime fire. It was a wonderland everywhere you turned.

Thirty some inches they got. It snowed for more than 24 hours and the winds were steady at 40 MPH that whole time. Some storm to be perched on a mountain top, and really, I wouldn't have wanted to be anywhere else. Callum got his skiing in, and we got some adventure in too. Who could ask for anything more?

weekend recap, march 10 edition

1. leaving our mark at our condo in the mountains | 2. pretty view | 3. trees down from the storm on the trip home | 4. - 5. craving non-alcoholic drinks and salad on our return | 6. new read | 7. - 8. Cal makes breakfast (protein heavy for baseball practice) | 9. Indian snacks | 10. icy cold gin and tonics | 11. curry | 12. dinner, Saturday night | 13. sunny yard | 14. team work | 15. backdrop painting | 16. studio time | 17. dinner, Sunday night | 18. still life

Looking at these photos, I'm astonished at how many of them feature food! What the monkey! We had a nice weekend. Re-entry, for the most part, feels good. Ask me that at the end of the day today, when we've survived the school/work day AND daylight savings, yo. Our drive down the mountain on Friday was stunning. The snow decreased as soon as we pulled out of the resort, but the valleys still had snow-laden fields. Once we hit the freeway, it was clear that the storm was more wind than snow, and there were trees toppled by the dozen, some with their uppermost branches brushing the roadside. I was craving salad, so Neel and I went out to grab a bite to eat while Callum stayed home Friday night. These guys were tired. As you can imagine.

Callum had baseball practice on Saturday. Mandatory practices for the end of the week if you were in town (and mandatory, no-excuse practices and a tournament for the varsity team), so we dropped him off at school and headed to the Indian grocery. Neel and I were in the mood for curry. I was really in the mood for palak paneer, but that takes forever to make from scratch so we got some frozen. Maybe next time. As far as the curry goes? The house still smells amazing.

Sunday was gorgeous here. Sunny and warm. Hard to believe that just a few days ago we were in 30 inches of snow! Neel got back in his yard and I got to work painting some backdrops for the studio. Something I've been meaning to do for ages. I knew I wanted to do a still life for my 365 photo yesterday, something to honor daylight savings and the longer, lighter days. A photographer's dream! So as I painted, I let my mind wander. By the time I got in the studio, I had plan. For once it worked out pretty much the way I imagined it, and that felt pretty good.

Slow-moving Sunday to start a fast moving week. Back at it today! I'll have a recap of our trip to the mountains tomorrow. I finally got a look at all the photos I took with the camera (not just the phone) yesterday, and I still can't believe ALL THAT SNOW!

I'm restless these days, so spring must be coming, right? Or is it the unexpected late night sun? Whatever the reason, I'm not sure I like it. How are you feeling these days, my lovelies? What does your week look like from where you're standing?

Five things, dream come true edition

1. I think I couldn't have asked for a better Spring Break. Really. As I'm typing this post, Neel and Callum are finally, FINALLY spending the day on the slopes, and the pups (2 out of 3) and I are tucked in cozily in front of the fire. The snow is piled high outside and the wind is still whipping. I couldn't be happier, really.

2. I think it'll be Tuesday before I tell you the story of our adventure. Is that okay? It's been an adventure, for sure! Most of my pictures during the storm (and all of the ones above) came from my phone, but I was able to get Big Daddy out for a bit. I can't wait to show you how beautiful it is here.

3. I think, if you're looking to rent a condo at Wintergreen for 2-4 people, you can NOT go wrong with the one we stayed in. Gorgeous views, convenient, affordable, and not just pet friendly, but pet welcoming. It was perfect. To top it off, the owners were absolutely AMAZING. Gracious and welcoming before we even left on our trip, they went above and beyond once it was clear we were snowed in. I can't recommend them highly enough, and if you do decide to try it out, let them know we sent you. We'll definitely be coming back. My boy loves to ski.

4. I think it's so interesting how vacations, even mini ones, can coalesce your thinking for you. I miss mountains. As you may know, I grew up in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and those rolling hills are part of my DNA. Driving up into the mountain on Tuesday afternoon felt like coming home. The view out the patio doors of this codo appeals to me more almost than any other, even the ocean, and that's a revelation. The Tidewater of Virginia has spectacular beauty, but it's pretty flat (wink). I'm also reminded of how much I love small-space living. I've said it again and again, much as I love our (little) gray house, and as perfect as it is for this time in our lives (raising our kid), I look forward to the day when we can open up the spaces and downsize. (Even Callum got it. Direct quote: "You know? I really like a small house like this. But I want to live in a mansion when I grow up.") One bedroom/One bath like the condo we stayed in? That's a bit small. But the truth is, we do the bulk of our living in such a small part of our current home. We don't need much more room than that in the long run. I have dreams, people.

5. So I think this little getaway was just what the doctor ordered for my family. We finally got in the skiing, and I got the snow I've been desperately craving. Add the adventure of a big storm to boot; who could ask for more? Our dogs did great, and it was so nice to cozy up with Miss Violet. We live at the beach, I think it only makes sense that we'd enjoy vacationing in the snow. Do you have a dream vacation spot? How about a dream weekend? Right now mine involves re-entry. Grabbing some groceries, getting Callum to baseball practice and gearing up to get back at it, only this time, we all feel better. Refreshed.

weekend recap, march 4 edition

1. Favorite stop of the week | 2. Stocking up | 3. River shot, week 6 | 4. Favorite lunch | 5. Visit with the Bread Lady | 6. Good practice | 7. New restaurant | 8. Nice cocktail | 9. Better burger | 10. Every weekend | 11. Stuff for me too! | 12. The new dog park? | 13. My granddad's drill bits | 14. Fence men | 16. Old/New game addiction | 17., 18. Spring will be here before we know it | 19. Cold, cold day | 20. Cubano bread and olives | 21. Pre-thank you Goodie Basket | 22. Dinner | 23. Patient doggies | 24. Pizza on the grill | 25. Why does it feel like we go here every weekend | 26. Little pick me up | 27. Favorite movie marathon

Shew-ee. Running late today. But, SPRING BREAK. We had a really nice weekend. I kicked off Friday at one of my favorite stops ever, indulging myself in a long chat with the fabulous ladies at Simply Selma's. I love it that they carry products from Santa Maria Novella and I can think about Annie and her love of them while I'm there. After that it was stocking up for our little getaway (hello, wine) and some shots for my 365 before picking Callum up from practice after school. My beaming boy made it past the first round of cuts for the school's baseball team, so that deserved a celebration dinner at a new local burger joint. We'd been wanting to try 80/20 Burger Bar for weeks now, but our last attempts were met with looooooong waits. We snuck in early and snagged a seat right away. Totally worth it. Yummy, upscale burgers, great cocktails and awesome atmosphere. We'll go back.

After a trip to the lumber store (surprise!) Neel and Callum worked on our back fence. Part of the reason Neel went with a DeWalt drill was to use the drill bits he inherited from my grandad and that makes me beyond happy. Seeing him and Callum working together on our yard made me happy too. Lucy, who couldn't go out while the fence was down, was less than happy! We're reinforcing our side fence, and we decided to paint it gray like the back fence. Neel has a great vision, and it's nice to see it coming together...even on cold winter days. We got Callum kitted out with new cleats and some new baseballs, and of course he had to try them out, despite the fact that it was 40º with a stiff wind (I sat in the car.). I will say this many times in the coming months, but I love baseball.

And after that it was grilling pizzas (yummy, but we're still working the kinks out), lunch Sunday at Callum's favorite restaurant (local wing joint...not a salad in sight) and a pick-me-up at the mall (where I snagged this in my quest for a facial refresher). We ended the evening with the second in our favorite movie series ever, Oceans 12. I swear Erin and I can quote these to each other ad nauseum, as can my family. God help us if we're ever all in a car together.

And now it's SPRING BREAK. Just in the nick of time. If I needed more proof that my kid was awesome (humblebrag), he suited up in blazer and tie this morning to spend the day shadowing a friend of ours who is a circuit court judge. And they made him leave his phone at the door. This is a travesty, given he just learned to play solitaire and reminded me how mind-numbingly addicting Free Cell can be. Harumph. Tomorrow we leave for a bit and SPL is going off line for the week. Thinks may look a bit wonky around here. Never fear. We'll be back up and running Friday with a full update.

Finally, thank you again and again for your wonderful comments, tweets, texts and emails about my workshop at the end of the month. I'm terrible at shameless self-promotion, so this is all very shymaking, but it really is a dream come true for me. Now we just need enough people to sign up for the class to be a go! Have a great week, my dears! XO

Five things, march 1 edition

1. I think I'm beyond thrilled to announce a Food Photography Workshop that I'll be co-teaching with my beloved friend and and teacher Jackie at the end of the month. If you're local and have any interest in food photography, we'll be teaching a full-day workshop at MOCA (where I took my first photography classes) in Virginia Beach. Lunch is included, as is a ton of valuable information and FUN. It's a dream come true of mine, to be able to do this, and I'm so excited to share the news with all of you.

2. I think I'm ready for these meds to kick in any minute now. I'm still coughing like I belong in the sanitarium, and last night my friend Marianne called me and said "Hi...oh." when I answered. Voiceless, pretty much. That's me. Some of us, ahem, might not be complaining. Well, I'm complaining. I'm irritable and whiny and complainy. Ready to feel my way to full health again.

3. I think it's time to stop complaining. Baseball has started up again, and that fact alone brings such joy to our house. Callum has had tryouts all week at school, and they'll continue after next week. It's his first time playing on a school team, and he's thrilled. He comes home excited each night, and that makes me excited.

4. I think I have a pleasant day planned for today. A meeting with some of my favorite ladies this morning, some fun shopping and a visit to my favorite baker this afternoon. And, what's that? It's Friday? Yes. I'm ready. What pleasantness do you lovely people have in store for the weekend? We'll hit a big box hardware store for sure, and I think a sporting goods store too. Surely there should be some diamond shopping mixed in there somewhere, yes?

5. I think it's time we got away for a bit. Next week is Callum's spring break and we've managed to snag a couple of days at the mountain where he and Neel had his fateful ski trip a few weeks ago. We all decided it was for the best that I come along just in case someone else gets dinged, and we were lucky enough to find a condo available for a night or two right on the mountain. One that allows dogs no less! Miss Violet has a yen to feel the snow crunch between her toes. I'm ready for the break and a different view and to breathe some fresh mountain air. Doesn't even matter that I don't ski. I think posting will be light here next week, although I'll be here Monday and likely Friday too, but other than that I think I'll focus on some rest and renewal. We could all use some around this time of year, don't you think?

around here {life}

That first picture is rather ominous, isn't it? I finally caved and went to the doctor. Well, I tried to go on Tuesday, but he was out of the office, so I snuck in on Wednesday and got some serious meds for this upper respiratory and sinus infection that I've been dealing with. Three weeks is too long, yes? I was sick this same time last year, similar symptoms although not nearly as long. I think the stomach thing threw us. Mainly I'm still fighting the fatigue. When we went to that oyster roast last Saturday it felt so remarkable to be out among people! I felt like I almost forgot how to act among the masses.

We're in that funny time of winter that's not quite winter any more and yet not quite spring. Callum's spring break is next week, and it certainly doesn't feel early enough to be spring. My snow hopes have mostly faded, although my guys are going to try to get one last ski in (third time's a charm?), and yet, I can feel winter hanging on. I'm okay with that. I don't feel impatient yet. Soon enough.

It's been a lousy winter here, what with our terrible news about Miss Violet (thankfully she's still going strong), Callum's ski accident and this pervasive illness. One thing after another. You'd think I'd be glad to see it go. And yet, I pick up my camera every day, marking time, and I notice how the light changes and our routines change too. Callum's back at baseball practice this week, hoping not to get cut. Neel's garden is creeping back to life and the days get ever longer. Time marches on, I suppose. That's the one thing you can count on.

baking history :: cheater chicken soup {life}

I was never a big Chicken Noodle Soup fan growing up. We were a Campbell's condensed soup family (Come on now, it was the 70s. No judging.), so give me Chicken and Stars any day. I remember, sometime in elementary school learning a song called "Chicken Soup with Rice" and my dad bought cans of Chicken with Rice after that. I don't know, the ratios always seemed off. Too many carrots (of cooked carrots, I am also not a fan), not enough chicken, noodles too gummy and hard to eat. No, for me, Chicken Noodle Soup never completely caught on.

However. I get it. I get that there's not much more comforting that the bland, barely spiced bowl of warmth that is this soup. Something subtle and easy on the tummy. So when we were all under our rock last week it was the first thing I thought to make us. There are a gazillion ways to make Chicken Noodle Soup and get it rich and flavorful, to elevate it to an art. Was I prepared to do that? Uh. No. Heck, even now I'm still contemplating a nap at any moment. I needed something easy, comforting, nourishing, flavorful (but not too flavorful), and did I mention easy? Here's what I came up with.

Cheater's Chicken Soup

1 Whole Rotisserie Chicken
1 chopped veggie pack: carrots, onion & celery
olive oil
chicken broth
egg noodles
fresh ground pepper

Saute´the vegetables in the olive oil in a stockpot over medium heat until soft. Of course you can chop an onion, a carrot or two and a few stalks of celery, but I was looking for maximum easy so I grabbed the pre-chopped pack that our grocery store carries. While the vegetables are sauteíng, shred some of the chicken from the rotisserie chicken. I ended up using maybe a cup and a half of both white and dark meat as well as some of the skin.

Once the vegetables are soft and just beginning to brown, deglaze the pan with some of the sherry. Add the chicken and enough broth to reach the volume of soup you desire. Bring to a slow boil. Once the soup is boiling, add the noodles and cook until just tender. Taste and adjust seasonings. With the chicken and broth, it should be plenty salty, but you may want to add more sherry and some fresh ground pepper.

Serve with warm rolls to sop up the broth. And feel better!