Monday, February 28, 2011

Snowy Surprise

I knit my son a hat sometime last year. It turned out pretty cute, green military style. Daddy calls it his Radar O'Reilly cap. But he lost it recently at his grandma's house. So I had to knit up a replacement. Here it is:

I'd barely got the yarn off the needles before he was able to put it to good use. We had some snowy weather on Friday, which is very unusual for Chico. It snows maybe once every couple of years and rarely sticks. But our city is situated right at the foot of the Sierra Nevada, so a short drive up the ridge to a town called Paradise and we were able to find several inches to play in. :)

It was my son's first time in the snow, which was a lot of fun to see - the way he was experiencing it for the first time. I haven't been in it much myself. But I showed him how to throw a snowball by making an example and chucking it at daddy. He thought that was pretty hilarious.

We didn't go too far up the mountains, so there wasn't quite enough snow to make a decent snowman, but I gave it the old college try, just for the heck of it. Here is my boy with his new little snow buddy.

...Don't let that smile fool you. About 30 seconds after this photo was taken, he was karate kicking his new ridiculously small "buddy" back into powder. We went out for a nice cocoa afterwards, of course. :)



I have updated the soup recipe. :)

I think I pretty much got it right on the money...

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Well worth the effort

The other day, I noticed that the conversation between my son's monster trucks involved them discussing which one was going to be Mater and which one was going to be McQueen. And it made me realize that I hadn't seen Mater and McQueen for a few days and they were probably lost. Here was my sweet little boy trying to make the best of the situation by substituting boring old monster trucks.

So I decided I was gonna save the day by finding the lost souls. I looked in all the normal hiding spots, all the places a 2-year-old would usually keep his treasure: in his toy lunch pail, in the seat of his ride-on firetruck, in the back of the reclining chair, in his cart and toy box. Even under all the furniture in the house. Then I had a sudden memory of the last time I saw them, and ended up finding them under the couch cushions.

"Look who I found!" I said excitedly as I handed them to him. He looked up, his face lit with a smile, and he welcomed them back to the group. He put them down just long enough to say "You are the best best mommy," and wrap his arms around me in a hug.

I think my heart melted into a puddle on the floor...

Sunday, February 20, 2011

A cuppa java

Does anyone in the world (besides me) know that old song:
I love coffee, I love tea, I love the java jive and it loves me...
Coffee and tea and the java and me.
A cuppa cuppa cuppa cuppa cup.

Funny lyrics, I know. I've been singing them to myself the past few days. You probably think I'm a little crazy at this point. I grew up on AMC. So part of my soul is from the 40s. Maybe that explains it. ;)

Anyway... on a slightly related note:

My sweet husband wanted to surprise me last month. So he contacted my friend Linda, who is an artist currently living in PA. (Here is her website!) He asked her about the possibility of procuring one of her pieces and she said very kindly - I'll send something right over!

A few days later, a box arrived in the mail and inside was the most wonderful ceramic mug I think I've ever seen.

So whimsical and unique! I didn't want to drink out of it at first. Such a special thing - I was afraid of getting it dirty. But, I knew it was meant to be functional, and it would be ashame if it wasn't used. So eventually I got up the courage, and now I use it every day. It's My Cup.

The pattern is very cool. Kind of ...scaly. Knowing Linda it probably has something to do with intestinal villi. I like the fact that it's half glazed and not. That gives it more depth. I like the small handle. Surprisingly light in the hand. Very cool. I dig it. I think what I like most about it is how it reminds me of my friend... and I'm so honored she would share her art with me. Thanks Lopez!

 ...Oh look. I found it. Time for another little latte. :)

Saturday, February 19, 2011

A taste of Ireland

On a recent trip to the Emerald Isle, we were touring the Ring of Kerry and stopped in a sweet little coastal village for lunch. In a quaint cafe, the toasty warm fire was a welcome relief from the cold winter winds outside, and the Carrot Parsnip soup and coffee I enjoyed was also quite a comfort. I reached a point in the meal where I was actually quite full, but the soup was soooo tasty, I had trouble stopping. Which was unusual for me. For the rest of the trip meals, if I saw carrot parsnip or any other veggie type soup, I opted for that and was never disappointed.

On my return home, one of the first things I did was look for a similar recipe online and was surprised at how few carrot parsnip soup recipes there were. Maybe it's specific to the country. I know I had never heard of it before. Anyway, I found basically two versions, the main difference being that one is made with butter and one with half and half instead. I am sharing the former with you, since it was my favorite. I reworked it a little bit, and now it is very close to the soup I had in Ireland, but not exactly the same. So I plan on perfecting it over the next few months and if I find any improvements I will post them here. :)

Smooth, very "earthy" in the taste of the root vegetables, but the parsnips give it a nice sweetness. Every time I taste it, I am transported back to Cahersiveen and a toasty warm cafe.

Carrot Parsnip Soup
4 Tblsp butter  5 Tblsp butter
1/2 small-medium onion 1 cup chopped onion
~1/2 large baker potato
4 medium carrots
1 medium parsnip 1 large or 2 meduim parsnips
~ 28 oz. of chicken broth (i used reduced sodium)
salt and pepper to taste

Peel and chop potato, carrots, and parsnip. Chop onion.
Melt butter in saucepan, add onions and potatoes and stir until they are coated with butter.
Cover with lid and sweat ingredients over low heat for 5 minutes.
Add carrots, parsnip, and sweat for another 5 minutes.
Add the stock. Bring to boil, then lower heat and simmer until veggies are soft. Like falling apart soft.
Liquefy with a blender, hand blender or food processor.
Add salt and pepper to taste. May garnish with parsley.


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Now that's good chili!

I found this delicious recipe recently. I tweaked it a bit to suit my tastes, but the original version can be found here if you're interested.

It's so easy to make, I'm almost embarrassed to share it, but it's really good, very satisfying, and perfect for these last few nights of winter. :)

Darn Good Chili (Charity's version)

1 pound lean ground beef (turkey can also be used)
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped

1 (14.5 ounce) can peeled and diced tomatoes ( I get the "petite" kind for this)
1 cup spaghetti sauce ( I usually use a "garlic & onion" version)
1 cup salsa ( I use Pace picante Mild)
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 cloves minced garlic
1 (15 ounce) can kidney beans, drained

In a large saucepan or stockpot, cook ground beef, until browned. Drain off excess fat.
Add onion and green pepper, stir and fry for about 5 minutes more, until veggies are tender.

Stir in the diced tomatoes, spaghetti sauce, salsa, then chili powder and garlic. Lower heat and simmer for about 20 minutes or so, stirring occasionally. Stir in beans just before serving and heat through. Serve with dollop of sour cream or grated cheese. Enjoy!

You can actually simmer it for up to 1.5 hours before serving (as in original version), and that probably would help all the flavors to blend nicely, but I find it's perfectly edible at 30 minutes or so, and I don't always have enough forethought to start dinner that early. :)

My swedish blood can't take spicy foods, so this is definitely a "mild" version. If you'd like to spice it up a bit, you can add the extra Tblsp of chili powder, and 1/4 cup taco sauce that the original recipe calls for. Maybe even use a medium or hot salsa.

Thanks to "TUGORETZ" for posting this recipe on
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