Saturday, January 30, 2010

Luncheon Recipes

Well, everything is ready and my friends don't arrive for another hour, so I thought I'd share today's menu and one very special recipe, as promised. I didn't prepare any appetizers, so I put out some corn chips and tortilla chips and bean dips and salsa to nibble on while we chat.  Here's the menu:

Chicken cashew salad sandwiches
Broccoli cranberry salad
Pomegranate Lemonade
Ice cream with raspberries and
butter cookies

The only thing I prepared from scratch was the broccoli salad.  It's a make-ahead dish, so I had it done and in the refrigerator last night.  Here's the recipe:

Broccoli Cranberry Salad

Toss together:
5 cups broccoli florets cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 cup red onions, chopped
1 cup shredded Monterrey Jack cheese
1 cup bacon cooked crisp and crumbled (optional)
1 cup sunflower seeds
3/4 cup dried sweetened cranberries (Craisins)

Separately, mix together dressing:
1 cup mayonnaise or Miracle Whip
1/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Salt only if needed.

Mix dressing with salad ingredients and refrigerate.

For the sandwiches today, I just bought the chicken salad already made from the deli and added cashews.  I ran to my favorite bakery this morning to pick up the best, flakiest croissants.

The pomegranate lemonade was just something I ran across in the grocery store and decided to try out.  The friends I'm having over today are teetotalers, so no alcohol will be served.

I couldn't find a prepared raspberry sauce for my dessert.  I would normally make it from fresh raspberries, but since they are out of season and quite expensive right now, I decided on just putting the fresh raspberries alone over vanilla ice cream and skipping the extra raspberries for making a sauce.  But then I had a little brainstorm and tried cooking some raspberry jam thinned with a little water and heated until bubbly.  I'll admit I had a scoop of vanilla ice cream last night just to try it out and it was wonderful.

I did mess up my kitchen a bit last night what with bacon spatters on the stove and all sorts of chopping implements.  But, of course, it spiffed up quite nicely.

Bye for now, the guests will be here soon.

Thursday, January 28, 2010


Well, I've promised a lot of people I'd invite them over once the kitchen was done.  So I've started what will be a whole string of dinners, luncheons, brunches, and cocktail parties.  Well that sounds a lot more than it really is.  So far it's just one each of those.  I do have more promises to keep, and that will probably mean two or three more dinners for six at a time - about my max.  I've already had one dinner and have two events lined up this weekend and one for Valentine's day.  This is more entertaining than I've done in any single year for the past several years now.  So this will not only break in my kitchen, it will break me in as well to begin having people into the house again.

In looking for a picture for this post, I've run across some great dinners already planned out with easy recipes included.  This one pictured here is one I think I will try except will substitute green beans sauteed in garlic and olive oil instead of the deep-fried green bean frites (those things in the picture that look like a glass full of little fish). 

Bon Appetite!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A nice place for working

I finally moved my computer upstairs to my little office. I snapped a photo as I walked across the hall to work this morning. It is such a change from the dark basement. When the sun comes up, I'll open the curtains. The window isn't distracting, but I can turn and look out and see the lake and Antelope Island and the current weather.

This room is finished except for the ties I still need to get to organize all the ugly cords at the back of the desk.

I have also finished rearranging things and hanging some art, etc. in the bedroom.  That's now finished, too, but no pics, sorry, too private.  Now I need to turn my attention to the little TV room which has been serving many purposes during the remodel.  It just needs some spiffing up.  With that the upstairs rooms are all finished.  That's not to say all the closets and drawers are tidied up, too.  No, there's still plenty to do there.  And now that I'm not working in the basement, I can start to change those remaining rooms as well.  But it will be nice that life is not disrupted by that project. 

There is a calmness in my little office that soothes my soul.  I loved walking to work today.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The shuffle game

Remember this little puzzle from years gone by? I haven't seen one of these in a long time. The idea is to slide the numbers around until they are good and scrambled, and then put them in order again. I sat through many a church meeting entertaining myself with one of these. I remember reaching a point where it was no longer a challenge as I knew every trick needed to get a number into place.

This is sort of what I've been doing in my house since finishing the kitchen. Office supplies belong in the office, not the kitchen. Food belongs in the pantry, not the linen closet. Towels belong in the linen closet, not in the armoire. And so on. As one thing gets moved to its final place, its former space is opened up and something else can go there. The whole goal now is 'a place for everything, and everything in its place'.

Just like with the number puzzle, this means sometimes things will get moved to a temporary place to allow some organization elsewhere. So some things are getting moved temporarily to the downstairs bedroom. Eventually that room will get my attention.

I actually started this whole process a number of years ago after my kids moved out and left rooms full of stuff for me to deal with. At first I didn't want to get rid of their things. But they didn't want them--they had no room for them in their new digs. So I stored many things. I finally figured out it was only necessary to save a few meaningful things and not their entire childhoods. And little by little I've dejunked and decluttered. And now I'm nearly to the end of it. It has been a long haul. Along the way I've improved the house in big and small ways and tried to maintain everywhere else.

These past two weeks have been all about organization. I keep too many things in too many different places. For example I have DVDs in three different rooms. Why? I guess when things were more crowded, I just stuck things where there was some space. A cupboard here, a drawer there.

However, remember that number puzzle? How easy it was to do the first three rows. But oh my, finishing the job required some real thinking. I believe this organization step will be like that. Just like everything else, the 80/20 rule applies here, too.

Want a little fun? Here's an online version of that number puzzle. Sadly I've forgotten all my tricks.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Dining Room

Yesterday I finally picked up some extra heavy-duty picture-hanging hardware. The painting I decided to hang in the dining room weighs 25 pounds - a very heavy frame obviously. I hadn't really thought about the weight when I chose that frame. But it does make the dining room start to look finished now. With the hutch moved closer to the living room, I need to put something in the corner to balance the height -- maybe a tall plant or a corner etegere. I notice how funny my dining table looks with all the extra leafs (leaves?) removed. I think I'll put one back in.

More about this beautiful original oil painting here.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Too close for comfort

A terrible thing has happened in my neighborhood.  I don't know the details yet, that will come later.  I just know many many emergency vehicles raced past my house.  I saw the flames and smoke and took a picture.  It made me tremble with fear for the people involved.  It's still smoking but no more flames.  I feel great unease.

UPDATE: KSL News says it was a house fire at about 100 David Way. That's just over one block from my house. One disturbing point in the news story was that the fire was difficult to fight because the hydrant was not working properly. We'll want to be knowing more about that. Unfortunately for the family, the house is a total loss.


I've been a bit under the weather for a week now.  It's one of those mild little things that you almost don't notice, except once in awhile you feel like you should lie down and rest.  I felt so much better yesterday, I ran around and got many errands done.  By early evening, I was feeling wiped out and went to bed early only to be kept awake for hours by the neighbor's dog barking.  This morning I really have the blahs and can't decide if I feel sick enough to go in to the clinic this week or not.  But since the clinic is closed today and tomorrow (holiday here), I'll just wait it out and see if this thing passes.  I had another big agenda today, but I'm thinking it might be smarter in the long run to really rest.  That's such a hard thing for me to do.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Winter grays

Our Air Quality here along the Wasatch Front is measured as the "worst" in the USA today. Unfortunately, no improvement is anticipated until Wednesday when a moderate sized Pacific storm will move through the Great Basin. Temperatures are moderating a little, but still remain below normal.
In the northern Utah mountains we have a weather phenomenon known as the 'inversion', in which cold stale air gets trapped in the valleys, while the clear sunny and warmer air can be found only at the higher elevations. Without storms the inversion turns into smog, fed by regular fog from the lake and wetlands, and pollution from cars, heating, and industry. The air becomes toxic and we are advised not to drive, if possible, and people with lung problems such as athsma are advised to stay indoors. Wood burning in fireplaces and stoves is prohibited.  You can see, taste, and smell the air.  We hope for a storm to blow the gunk away.

Our air quality index in Salt Lake and Cache counties right now is the worst in the nation.  We've had that distinction several times this winter.   But right now it's about as bad as it ever gets.  It's typical January, but it seems this year it has lasted longer than normal. Maybe I'm just noticing it more. But I'm longing for some blue sky. 

So today's weather forecast makes me hopeful. Wednesday a storm is predicted and with temps above freezing, it will be one of those "rain in the valleys, snow in the mountsins" perfect kind of storms we love. It will clear out the gunk, will melt away some of the snow on the ground that's looking dirty, and will add to the snowpack in the mountains which we need so much for our summertime water.

I feel hopeful.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Day Whatever: Finished!

The electrician came today and finished all the remaining jobs.  That inlcuded putting up new lights in the bedrooms and running a phone line to my new upstairs office (I know, not part of the kitchen, but after all might as well while he's here).  Actually they still need to seal the grout for floor and backsplash, but that won't take long.  It will happen tomorrow while I'm away - it's one of those days I have to actually drive in to the office.

So here is a pic.  More later if I get time.  I'm ready to take possession and start acting like it's MY kitchen and not something associated with this steady stream of men I've had in and out of my house for the past month.

I can't believe it's really done!  *tears of joy*

More pics


Pots and Pans Storage

Trash and Recycling Rollout

Spice Rack


Pantry Rollout Shelves


Remember where we started?

Friday, January 1, 2010


I believe in resolutions.  They are sort of like lists. Once you write them down, they are there reminding you of what you wanted to do.  I don't believe people ever truly fail at keeping their resolutions either.  I think they may not meet the full potential, but almost everyone at least takes a step or two in the right direction, and that's a good thing.

So, while other people may have given up on making resolutions, I make them every year -- I actually write them down and read them from time to time.  And like everyone else, I rationalize when I don't quite measure up.

Last year I had four main goals which I wrote in my private blog/journal for my eyes only.  When I looked back at those today, I realized how well I had done with goals involving 'doing' and not so well with goals related to my own well-being. I completed the house goal which was really three things in itself, cleaning out the garage at last, turning the little bedroom into an office, and the big one now just wrapping up, remodeling the kitchen.  I saw moderate success in my goal to memorize more piano music, and the side benefit was that all that repetition greatly improved my playing.  I did nothing to improve my current relationship.  We plod along just the same, happy together but with no future in it for either of us.  I am content enough in the relationship to feel no urgency to change and will probably continue on until he really does move away.

The big failure was in caring for my own health.  I did fine for six months.  But after Doug died, I went off the deep end in several ways.  I lapsed into some old thinking that it didn't really matter.  I gained some weight, I stopped walking, I lost track of my good eating habits.  Then when I started the kitchen remodel, things got worse.  I felt sort of trapped in my little TV room because of the chaos elsewhere, and I spent too much time on the computer and watching TV.  All along I've been wanting to turn things around, but just couldn't.  But I think the new year and the end of the big kitchen project is a chance to make a change in my life again.

In retrospect, all my successes amount to nothing if I don't take care of myself.  I've reached the age where people start having serious health issues.  I'm fortunate to have none as yet.  If I want to stay healthy, I need to make it a priority.

And that brings me to this year's resolution:  Take care of Becky first.

This year I will make it a priority to take care of my physical, mental, and emotional needs.  That's pretty broad, I know, but I'll add specifics to the plan as I go along.  I'll continue making lists, I know that.  My lists are what drive me to getting things done.  But this year, every list I write, will start with things I will do for myself.  Not in a selfish way, but in a self-concerned way.

Today I started with a little pampering with a long soak in a hot tub enhanced with some lovely minerals from the spa, running the jets for a little while, too.  I rarely take time for such a luxury, and the result today was a relaxed and mellow me.  The day was spent in lovely pursuits and a perfect start to the new year.  I feel optimistic and determined.  I'm ready to launch into another year, come what may.