Friday, February 25, 2011

Pretty in Pink

I'm ready for pretty. I'm ready for that sweet scent in the air. I'm ready for pink.

I apologize that I don't have photo credits; these images have been in my files for years. You'll see a little more of this in future posts, but I promise to be better moving forward as I collect new favorite images.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Mrs. Over Yonder's Chili

We capped off snowy Monday with the perfect dinner - chili. We'd last had this delicious chili at our neighbors'- the Over Yonders - during the Christmas holidays.

Mrs. Over Yonder was kind enough to email me the recipe and I dare say it is the tastiest thing I have ever made, not to mention one of the easiest. Just one pot! Here's what Mrs. Over Yonder told me to do:

Cumin (we have no idea how much)
Chili pepper (same)
Salt (same)
Oregano (1 teaspoon)

1 lb. ground beef (Mrs. OY suggests 85% lean)
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 red onion, chopped
a couple of cloves of garlic, minced
olive oil (a couple of tablespoons)
A little scoop of tomato paste (her measuring term, not mine)

1 can black beans
1 can corn
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can red kidney beans

Beef broth

Mrs. OY didn't mention what to cook this in, but I used a LeCresuet wanna-be cast-iron pot and it worked out great. It's truly a one pot meal.

1.) In the pot, saute the peppers, onion, garlic with the olive oil until soft.
2.) Add about one tablespoon each of the cumin, chili pepper, oregano, salt. Cook for one minute.
3.) Add a little scoop of tomato paste. (I used about a tablespoon and a half and then added another half a tablespoon a little later.)
4.) Add ground beef and keep stirring around until cooked through.
5.) Drain the cans of corn, black beans, kidney beans and add. You're supposed to rinse the beans too, but I forgot and it was fine.
6.) Add the can of diced tomatoes
7.) Add a little beef broth or a lot of beef broth depending on how watery you like your chili(Mrs. OY said chicken broth is fine too) and let it simmer for an hour. (Mrs. OY did not indicate whether the top should be on or off, but I put the lid on and it worked out well - the liquid didn't reduce)
8.) Taste it. Add whatever it needs - cumin, chili powder, salt.

Serve with beer and cornbread!

It was a huge hit - in the top ten tastiest things I've ever eaten. One of the kids even liked it. A proud Mrs. Sunnymead moment indeed. Thanks, Mrs. Over Yonder.

Family Game Night (Morning)

On President's Day, not only did we have the day off - we spent it out of the city at the house and it snowed!

The night before, our oldest suggested a Family Game Night. I agreed it was a great idea, but there was little chance I could keep my eyes open (or at least stay in a good mood) past 8 p.m. How about Family Game Morning?

So we had a wonderful morning. I woke up early and took a solo walk to the beach. Imagine utter quiet - the only sounds were my snow boots crunching the icy snow and my black puffy coat swishing against itself. Down at the beach, the sand was covered in snow and the water was still enough to skip rocks.

I was back before 8 a.m., with cappuccino and bagels in hand (I discovered sixteen dollars in the pocket of the puffy coat I hadn't worn in at least five years and decided to stop at the new coffee shop by the beach). The Family Game committee was ready!

We just got Wii over the weekend, so it was a Wii event with our games centered around Golf (I was okay), Basketball (I was terrible), and Bowling (I was fantastic!). I did not think we were going to be a Wii family, but I have to admit, I like it (even more since my stunning Bowling performance). It wasn't like being hunched over a video game. We were all up on our feet, working together, laughing, as the snow came down outside the windows.

My eight-year-old had made prizes for everyone.

The day before she had asked me, "if you could win a prize, what would you want to win?" I said "lots of money," but she kept at me until I brought it down to earth a bit more to "a nice handbag."

It certainly is a handbag. And it certainly is nice. I don't think I've ever had a handbag that said nice things about me before. I love the back of it -- I thought it said "and I could have thought of 407 (more nice things)!" I was corrected, that it was only intended to read "40 >, as in more than 40. 407 is pushing it."

Valentine's Week

There were more signs of love at the breakfast table last week...

and at the dinner table...

We also enjoyed a great date night, during which we saw The King's Speech with Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush. Very good.

But my favorite occasion of the week was the annual Valentine's skating party at Wollman Rink.

This year, I volunteered to make something for the illustrious baked goods table. With the help of Betty and Duncan, I whipped up two dozen cupcakes. Some were frosted white, with crystalline white sugar on top for a snowy effect. These were to be my "Winter Wonderland" cupcakes, with tiny deer and silver trees perched on top. The pink frosted ones were intended to anchor "Happy Valentine's Day" picks.

Unfortunately, my new clever cupcake carrier from the Container Store wasn't clever enough to allow for some headroom - meaning they didn't fit with the decorative picks on them, so I had to carry my picks separately and plan to decorate on site. But as we approached the entrance of Wollman Rink, two eager-beaver young helpers in white aprons descended upon my cupcakes.

"Are those for the baked goods table?" they chirped. I could hardly say no, but I did try to explain that they still needed to be decorated (just so). "No problem, we can do it!" they practically cheered. Mrs. Sunnymead gripped that cupcake carrier a little tighter. I didn't want to fork these over - especially without anyone (other moms, in particular) witnessing me arriving with (semi) homemade baked goods. I had envisioned a few oohs and aahs, honestly. But this is where I had to intervene by repeating my mantra to myself: "make life nice without making yourself (or others) crazy." "Let it go, Mrs. S.,let them finish decorating your perfect cupcakes." And off the eager-beavers went with my cupcakes.

I have to admit I spent the first 15 minutes of the party stalking my cupcakes - or trying to. Where were they? Did they even put them out? Did they remember to add the decorations? I finally spied them...they weren't exactly what I would have done, but honestly, who (other than me) cares?

With the cupcakes quickly demolished - and most of my carefully sought-after decorative picks on the floor, crushed and sliced by hundreds of skate blades on the way to get pizza and soda, I got down to the business at hand -- enjoying the party. The skates may be hard blue plastic and the pizza might have a slight cardboard texture, but nothing beats looking up and realizing you're skating in the middle of New York City. It truly was a Winter Wonderland and a Happy Valentine's Day.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Mrs. Sunnymead's Ride

In real life, I drive a rather worn-in, but reliable wagon. This is what Mrs. Sunnymead would drive if she had her druthers...and if she could drive a stick shift (that is a story for another day).

I think it was The Waltons that got me hooked on the idea of owning a pickup truck. I'm not sure I would really drive it, but I could have picnics in the back of it.

And sell flowers out of it. Hmmm...should I get a white one?

Does a country road come with it?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Love Affair Continues

This is what my cappuccino had to say to me today: Baby, you're a star. At least that's how I interpreted it.

Seriously, I've gotten cappuccino here most mornings for years, but I always get it to go with the cover on top. This is the first time I've ever noticed that they stencil a star on top of the foam. Mrs. Sunnymead loved it.

Monday, February 14, 2011

My Breakfast Loves Me

Yesterday morning I set out to treat myself right with one of my favorite breakfasts - a soft-boiled egg in my favorite egg cup from Italy, strips of white toast with butter (well, I Can't Believe it's Not Butter, actually), and English Breakfast tea.

Well - as much as I'd like it to be, cooking is not really my forte, apparently not even when it comes to making a soft-boiled egg, in which the only skill required is boiling water. My egg came out hard-boiled. So much for dipping my toast strips into the slightly gooey egg. But had it not been hard-boiled, I never would have taken a spoonful and revealed this secret message: My breakfast asked me to be its Valentine.