Monday, February 29, 2016

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Idle IDOL Chatter

What a season, as IDOL bows out… fantastic. I'm sticking with my early call (Dalton) but must admit that La'Porsha (clearly a diamond) and Trent beat him, this week. And how 'bout that Kelly Clarkson? Can we vote for her, again? Great stuff.

Ah, Political Perfection in Two Peas in a Pod

I'm nauseous. You must know of this week's endorsement. Now there are two of them with the annoying lip sets, one ridiculously blonde and the other simply ridiculous. A twist in a saga that is beginning to scare me. 

"… the walls and bridges team." Today's NY TIMES

They Just Happen!

It occurs to me, this morning, that good kids and good dogs just happen. You never know, right? And there's a lot of luck involved, regardless of parental or human input. Nature versus Nurture?? A timeless topic, never to be resolved. Whatever. We've been pretty lucky, if that's the component that rules. Cases in point:

On a snowy day last week, pajama-clad Gav and his ukulele arrived for some stormy downtime. It was fun. We jammed. Or shall I say, he jammed while I tried. He ate A LOT. Gramps even went out for calamari and pizza to please the boy. Did I mention that it was fun?! This week, he won an award for Student Of The Month. Just look at that beaming face. Moving along…

The next day, Christian surprised us with Chloe and Lyla, our upstate pretties. Poor Hunter was home sick with Dawn... on a winter-break day, no less. But the girls had a boatload of fun and so did Mambo. He gets TONS of attention from Lyla. She was heard saying, as they prepared to leave, "I'm sorry, Mambo, but we have to leave now." Precious. We crammed a lot of lovin' (and eating) into a few hours, left with that happy glow that kids leave behind. So while we were in family mode…

We shuffled off to Buffalo, the next day. Thankfully, Dale and Maddy were okay with a visit, because we seriously needed to hug them. And there are simply no words to describe how warm and loving they are, even in the wake of such a tragic loss. Cousin Dale is five years younger than I, and speaking of good kids, I'm reminded of an old anecdote. Mom, Aunt Vee and I took a long, girlie road trip to Buffalo when I was eleven. It was a blast, its purpose being to visit Dale's family. When we arrived, this little boy was sitting on the curb in front of his house. Upon realizing it was us, he jumped up and began to exclaim, "My cousins from New York are here!! My cousins from New York are here!!"

Actually, his aunts and cousin had arrived and he lived in New York, too, but it was precious and perfect from a six-year-old. Funny how I've always used that welcoming call to describe Dale to people. We never change, do we?

To add the canine touch to this saga, we traveled with Mambo, who could have easily been left in our pet-friendly suite. But Dale and Mads love him, too, so he was welcomed to hang with us and Riddick, their comforting pooch. What did the two dogs do? Barely looked at each other, just curled up under the glow of Dale's fireplace, lending their soothing touch. We reminisced about Bonnie. She will forever be sorely missed.

Case rested.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

A Debate? Really?

Or analogous to a middle school brawl? A travesty in Greenville, SC.

Will someone please bludgeon Trump. That'd be a good place to start.

"But it's really sunny outside…"

A little inside humor here for my one and only Valentine. He knows who he is. Forgive me, Friends of CMI. But y'all cuddle closer to warm the cockles of your hearts.

That's right… real temp of twelve below with a windchill factor of thirty-one below.

Happy Valentine's Day.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Ever-Evolving Chicken Soup

We're in the midst of an arctic blast. No joke. After our balmy, nearly snowless winter thus far, it's been plunging to sub-zero temps. It's that nasty windchill factor, especially here on Golden Pond. So, I wanted chicken soup, yesterday. Thing is, I wasn't in the mood to start from scratch… or to go to the store. Enter the freezer…

In its depths, I found three mason jars of homemade chicken broth, each with about twelve ounces. Two more jars held about four ounces each of turkey and chicken drippings. The former would be from simmered chicken and veggie dinners; the latter from the last turkey breast I roasted, also with onions/veggies, some pieces remaining. After the contents were partially thawed, I skimmed all fat and poured into a soup pot. 

Then, I cooked about a half pound of ditalini (small pasta) in salted water till al dente. After rinsing with cold water to stop cooking, I added to broth and brought it all to a simmer… and then…

I added cubed chicken breast (from cutlets, also in the freezer) and let it cook at a soft simmer for about five minutes, till chicken was white and tender. Salt and pepper to taste and a hit of parsley - voilà! Yet another version of an old favorite, and… What a flavorful result, with a triple whammy of chicken - broth, drippings and poultry simmered to stay. 
This was delicious served with the Zojirushi banana bread I'd made in the morning, using ripened bananas from the freezer, as well as cacao nibs and almonds, all from…

Well, you've got the gist. There is not much that doesn't freeze well, thus helping us to avoid a grocery run on a frigid day.

To Note: Sure, you can used boxed or canned broth. But honestly? I've never - as in not ever - found one that compares to the homemade variety. Just go back and check out my (link) simmered chicken recipe; it's the meal that keeps on giving.

Buon Appetito. Stay warm.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Lookin' Back - "Grease" is STILL the Word!

Meant to blog in a more timely fashion about (link) "Grease Live" on Fox, a couple weeks ago. Having seen my favorite John Travolta version multiple times in addition to the play on Broadway, I was skeptical. Hmmm. That was before we were hooked into this fabulous production. Yep, it's still the word. 

It wasn't till after the show that we came to learn that 
its star is practically a local boy, having grown up in Middletown, where he began his thespian career. How's that for a small world?

Here's to longevity, all around.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

WHEW!! That Was A Lot Of Blogging For One Day...

Rest easy. That's all she wrote!!

Congrats to the Broncos and Kudos to Lady Gaga...

The underdogs won; yay! Joe was happy. The ribs were delicious and… well, to repeat - the Broncos won. But for me? I loved Bruno, of course. Lady Gaga, though, stole the show with her brilliant performance. It brought tears to my eyes.

Marital Problems? "Better Call Saul"

While working around the LakeHouse the other morning, I listened to the girls on "The View." Or, was it "The Talk?" Whatever; I was listening, not watching. I digress. One of them commented on how Netflix was saving marriages, nationwide. "Hmmm," thought I. My ears perked up…

The theory mentioned is that every couple needs a third faction to their relationship. For example, when you've got kids at home, you talk about the kids. Bought a new house? Dinnertime conversations prevail. New job? New puppy? You get the gist. Soooo…

What happens when Party #3 is no longer. What or who fills the gap? Enter Netflix. Hours and hours of wedded bliss watching "Breaking Bad" or "Mad Men" or "Bloodline" keeps couples together, in the same room, for hours on end… encouraging ensuing discussions. Interesting. And there's an etiquette to this TV bliss…

No watching ahead of time without the other. A mortal sin. One waits for his or her partner to share.

Thank you, Netflix. Hilarious. But true? Well, you decide, but I'm here to tell you that we love our series. We cuddle on one couch or another and watch and watch… then talk and talk…

No, no, Saul hasn't gotten into matrimonial law quite yet; but Bob Odenkirk is brilliant in this prequel to "Breaking Bad" and he might enhance your marital bliss. By the way, "Better Call Saul" is a stand-alone, whether or not you watched "Bad." And the bonus… a huge one… comes by way of the lovable Jonathan Banks in a continuation of his role as Mike. What a treat!!
Highly, highly recommended!!

Cucina News

Before we left Christian's neck of the woods, we hit Trader's. Needless to say, we overbought and overspent. I was excited to find this shelf-storable item, ready and waiting for when I'm in the mood to make a Bûche de Noël. Had to text Cousin Maddy, a schooled baker. Of course with a Trader Joe's in her neighborhood, she was already aware. She told me that it's an excellent product. I'm spreading the word.

You're welcome. :-)

UPDATE: Not for moi; my first review is here.

Home Improvements

So, I missed my big Cape Cod lanterns in the Old Homestead's living room. Needed to rectify that with a LakeHouse version. Perfect! I hope you like.
Also, we had a few plant casualties while away for a month. Thought to fire the help, but we love Bri too much. And he's proficient in other areas of home guardianship. Instead, Joe hit Lowe's and surprised me with the motherlode of greenery. Gorgeous stuff, including the first orchid to grace our new digs. And it's not even Valentine's Day quite yet.

Snow - Or the Lack Thereof

We are normally considered to be in the snow belt of New York. Well, Friends, the times are a-changin', for sure.
A couple weeks ago, we headed into the Big Apple after they were pounded. Bridge traffic was a mess, but generally speaking, main roads were pretty well cleared. The above picture is a self-portrait of sorts. Can you find me, precariously holding my iPhone by an open window?

Yesterday's lakescape was snowless… the lake with just a touch of ice on it… still waters reflecting.

Finally, last night, we had an inch or two of the white stuff. Our lakescape changed a tad. A tad. It's February 9th and this is it. And now, the sun is shining with reflective stillness returned, so the white coating won't last for long.
Bizarro world? Global warming? Ah, poor Long Island. They were blasted again.

"Pan" Round 2 'n' Hunter's Mr. Smee

After Dawn saw last Thursday night's performance, she texted me that "…Hunter stole the show." I thought she was being a typical parent, just like Joe and I were when B or C did absolutely anything, back in the day. Nothing wrong with that. You know. :-) But then… but then…
Joe and I met Christian and Chloe for the Friday show. Guess what? She did not exaggerate. Hunter delivered the goods with the comedic timing of a pro. He truly did steal the show (blush, blush), receiving big laughs and cheers. Expression never left his face and he never stopped acting, even during downtime between lines… a lot of lines in what seemed like an expanded version of Smee. Love that boy and his joie de vivre. But not to forget…

The entire sixth-grade cast and their wonderful performances, fantastic costumes and amazing direction by Ms. Kim (I forget her married name) have had us cheering in awe, since showtime. There were lots of kudos for staff, parents and even grannies who all helped with the extras that made this a perfect production.

If you're keeping up with this week's news, you'll know that Billy Joel is not only crusading to keep a Long Island arts high school open, but has also contributed a million dollars to the cause, saying that music programs (or in this case a school) are always first cuts. Rarely are sports programs cut. Tragic. Nothing enhances a child's education or life more than exposure to the arts, especially when they participate for life.
Special thanks go out to Hunter's school principal who made it a point to welcome us and thrill us with praise for our boy. It enhanced our evening beyond words.
To Note: The same deal existed with photos as during last week's MHS play. Sooo, forgive the blur; I'm grateful for what I was able to capture.

And to our star - thank you for the beauty you bring to our lives. May the magic last forever.