Monday, March 31, 2008

On a 3 day Gender Bender

This says it all right now.

His past 3 days: Leisurely drive to the Keys on his motorcycle with friends. Shenanigans and hijinks for 2 days and 2 nights. Leisurely drive home from Keys. Go to work. Play 9 holes of golf at friend's country club.

Her past 3 days: Babysit toddler with premature terrible 2's syndrome. For 2 days straight. Laundry. Lots. Household errands including: garbage set out and retrieval, pick up paint for touch ups in family room, replace special halogen light bulbs that take much more than just a turn of the base into the socket. More laundry. Grocery shopping and homemade soup making. Two classes worth of case analysis, quiz studying and discussion contributions. Answering questions from him like "whats the matter with you?" and this classic jewel: "so, did you enjoy your time alone while I was away?"

Sunday, March 30, 2008


Ok- I admit it---today's blog title really means "Organized Children Delight Me". Because I was a compulsively organized child that grew into an unorganized young adult that morphed into a compulsively organized mature adult. During the years I was disorganized, I longed to not be. I ached to come full circle and be my "real" self...complete with drawer dividers, a label maker I actually use and matching hangers all with hooks facing the same way on the rod. AHHHH it feels so good.

One of my favorite websites to visit is called Found and every day they post a note or letter or other paper item that someone has found somewhere (in other words, something that some poor unorganized soul has lost) ...I love this one as I remember doing an almost exact time schedule/checklist when I was about 10 years old. I love how this checklist is broken down in less than 10 minute blocks----8 minutes to feed the cats (each time) and 8 minutes to call Alason. I even love the contingency plan here---the maybe eat for 1 hour and the maybe computer time. Notice though that nothing got checked off as "done" after going to Dad's from 8:50 to 9:30 ! Hope they at least remembered to feed the cats by 5:08.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Oven Roasted Asparagus

One of the best things about Spring is the pencil-thin asparagus readily available. I love asparagus grilled, but it is difficult to do because of its shape--and the very thin stalks make it even harder to keep from falling through the grill or grill pans. Here's a very quick and easy way to cook delicious young asparagus---and clean up is a snap.

From the Pantry

Serves 2-3 people that really like asaparagus!

1 pound fresh asparagus- the thinner the better

1/4-1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp garlic powder

salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil. Cut asparagus spears at natural breaking point and discard bottom part of stem.

Place tips in a gallon size zip lock bag. Add olive oil, garlic powder, salt and pepper to taste. Using a zip lock is so much easier than trying to do this in a bowl. Zip up bag and as my grandmother used to say, "moosh-el" it all up--coating the asparagus with oil and the spices.

Dump asparagus on to the foil lined cookie sheet--letting oil drip out, too. Arrange in a single layer and put in oven for 12-13 minutes. Sprinkle with grey salt before serving or with lemon zest. This is delicious!

Friday, March 28, 2008

Fluke of Nature

I love whales. I have had the good fortune of seeing several types of whales in their natural habitat doing what whales do, naturally. I have seen Humpbacks, Orcas and little Minke whales in Alaska and down the Pacific coast. One of the most fascinating things I have seen Humpbacks do is something called "bubble-netting". This is a feeding behavior that takes the coordinated work of at least two whales. They dive and round up schools of fish in their exhaled bubbles---casting a "net" of bubbles. They then plow through the netted fish and have a feast as the water rushes through their baleen. Sort of like some folks I have seen in the buffet line at Sizzlers.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

No No No

Wudgie knows what the doggie says, the kitty, birdie, cow and baby, too....and what the Mommy says...NO NO NO...complete with vehement head shake. She knows the song has a good beat and you can dance to it, too.

When my brothers and I were little, my mother had a very silly alphabetty-rhyme song she would to sing to us. It went like this:

ABCD Goldfish?
LMNO Goldfish!

Translates to:

Baby see the goldfish?
There arent any goldfish!
Yes, there are.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Mug Shots

File this under totally mostly useless things to make that will probably never be used. I just love these mug cozies. In fact, I was so excited today to see my favorite mug cozy pattern of all offered FREE at the Knitting Daily website. But only for the next 30 days- so rush on over there. Want to know how obsessed I am with making this and how thrilled I was to see this offered for free today? Sure you do. A few months ago I was so intent on knitting this garter stitch wonder that I tracked down the designer. I cyber-stalked emailed her incessantly once, begging for the pattern. She was so adamant kind in her response. She explained to me that she had sold the pattern to Interweave (parent company of the Knitting Daily site) and they had printed it in their holiday issue. There are no more holiday issues to be had. As much as she wanted to, she could not offer the pattern to anyone and Interweave would not reprint. Until now! Yay!

Here's another beautiful mug cozy with pattern offered for sale here.

And another photo of a clever sleeve to slip on your favorite 'bucks beverage.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Nap Time

After I get past the magnitude of the horror that took place from the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius some 2088 years ago, I look at this photo I took at the ruins of Pompeii and just want to slip a comfortable pillow under his neck. For his stone nap.

When my brother was a tot, he would protest nap time by telling my mother that he didn't want to take a schluffy. While we aren't really sure where this schluffy word came from, we think it is a derivative of the German word for sleep...Schlaf.

I love a good schluffy. The Mr. is a master schluffer. The Wudgie has a hard time with schluffinating on weekends but that doesn't stop her mother from trying to put her down for a regular, scheduled schluff. Ironically, by all reports the Wudgie excels at schluffing at school.

My favorite schluff equipment? This buckwheat filled organic cotton pillow.

Gute Nacht.....Sweet Schluffies to you

Monday, March 24, 2008

The Big Picture

I love our Clyde Butcher photographs. Clyde is often referred to as the Ansel Adams of the Everglades and his studio and galleries are both within a 2 hour driving distance from our house. This big photo of the Loxahatchee hangs in our living room. The top photo is taken up close (a photo of a photo) and looks like you could step right in to the glade. The bottom photo shows the framed piece on our wall. It is about 5 feet wide and 3.5 feet tall. Our whole house remodel last Fall was pretty much centered around this piece. We are fortunate to have 3 more Clyde Butcher photos that hang in our dining room in a gallery type setting. They are beautiful.

Clyde is an interesting character and holds an annual "muck about" in the Everglades behind his Ochopee gallery each Labor Day weekend. Looks like a group of us will be going this year. But not the mucking for him.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Merry Easter

Happy Easter! Happy Easter? was just Christmas...even
my still blooming Poinsettias can't believe it is Easter already.

Hope you had a great day.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Macaroni and Cheese

Now I dont claim to have any special recipe for macaroni and cheese--just a good one. I am making a big pan of it for tomorrow's Easter ham dinner and thought I would share it with you. Along with a few fun facts about one of America's favorite comfort food dishes.

Did you know that President Thomas Jefferson first served mac 'n' cheese at the White House in 1802? Before then it was known as an English dish of macaroni baked with cheese and cream.

Did you know that Kraft first marketed their neon orange style boxed mac 'n' cheese in 1937? It was an instant success in the US and Canada.

Did you know that Crayola has a crayon color named "Macaroni and Cheese"? This orange-hued wax wonder was first introduced in 1993.

Here goes my rendition:

From the Pantry

For about 15 people (Halve for more "normal" servings!)

2 lbs ready-cut macaroni (or ziti)

2 sticks butter, sliced

1 pound block sharp cheddar cheese

8 oz block creamy havarti cheese

1-2 cups half and half

1 cup panko bread crumbs

salt and pepper

Cook macaroni as package directs and drain. Grate cheddar cheese and cube havarti cheese. Pour cooked, hot macaroni in large pan. I always spray my pan with Pam first- even disposable pans as it makes serving easier. Combine grated and cubed cheese with hot macaroni. Add sliced butter- dot butter on top of pasta and cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste. Mix well and flatten/smooth out top. Pour 1/2 and 1/2 (or whole milk) over mixture until you can just see liquid coming to the top of the macaroni mixture. Sprinkle liberally with panko bread crumbs all over top. Bake in 350 degree oven, uncovered, for about 40-45 minutes.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Get Bento

I have discovered a new universe named Bento . And it all comes in a box. To say bento boxes are Japanese lunchboxes is an understatement. The art of bento transforms lunch (or whatever meal) into a clever masterpiece. Complete with special paper dividers to keep sweet from savory, neat little cups to hold portions together and little sauce bottles for salad dressing or soy sauce or balsamic vinegar or whiskey or gin or name your poison. Here's a photo of a bento lunch:
Notice the variety of foods in the trays. They stack on top of each other and make into a neat little portable box. Wouldn't this encourage you to eat a healthier lunch?

I love the incredible selection of bento accessories. I ordered some today from ebay and can't wait to use them! Google "bento accessories" and check out the many sites that offer picks, papers, cups, bottles and other miniature items for packing a bento box. Lots of Hello Kitty bento things (for me- not so much Hello Kitty) and other Japanese inspired favorites like these:

They look like cupcake liner papers but are really little paper holders for handfuls of grapes or cherry tomatoes or anything that takes up a tiny corner of your bento box.

There is a whole community of Flickr sites where people show off their daily bento efforts and blogs like Lunch In A Box that posts recipes, tutorials and product reviews all about bento-ing.

Once my shiny red bento box and cute accessories arrive, I'll post photos of my creations. I know you can't wait.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Blithering Genius

About 2 weeks ago, a 17 month old toddler named Elizabeth Barrett appeared on the Today show and amazed the show's hosts and viewers by reading cue cards and other written materials that everyone swears she had not seen before. It was incredible. Apparently her parents, both speech specialists, used sign language with little Elizabeth from the day she was born and they engage her in a lot of other activities to nurture her linguistic development. They did not teach her to read, however. But she does. And has since she was 13 months old. AND she reads cursive, too-- much to Ann Curry's surprise. Experts feel she has some kind of genetic superiority when it comes to visual perception and visual memory. She was born with super powers for reading. And she's adorable.

The Wudgie is also 17 months old. And adorable. She has a genetic predisposition for being a normal toddler that plays with her food and loves the word "blither". Listen for genetically demented grandparents in the background provoking nurturing certain behaviors.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Time Sensitive

I spend a lot of time on the Internet. A lot. Way too much. In my Internet travels, I have come across some pretty weird neat things. Many of them probably belong in the category of time-wasters. Like the site this photo is from. The Human Clock boasts a photo for every minute of the day. Your choice of digital or analog.

And here's a list of some other time-wasting incredibly interesting sites:

Who knew you could find out about your past life right here?

Have some virtual pie (calorie free!)--try to eat it all in 15 bites or less

Remember the warning "keep digging that hole and you'll come out in China"? Well, see where you'll really end up here

Another flash-back. Design with Lite-Brite. Make a peace symbol.

A very strange Japanese animation. "I Love You Egg". Great lyrics, just in time for Easter.

Here's the strangest of all. And creepy. A giant chicken that obeys your typed commands. Freaky gets freaky. Was this really a Burger King creation?

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Cat Ciao

A real Italian cat. Gatto. He was sleep-standing in the doorway to a ceramics shop in a tiny alley in Sorrento. I think he even meow-ed in Italian. Something like "Meowccini-bella".

I miss my cat so. She has been gone just over a year now. She was such a good cat. A grand old dame with lots of personality and hutzpah. Even the Mr. loved her and he wasn't even a cat person. She came along with all my baggage when we first met the Mr. He just tolerated her and then he fell in love with her. Funny, he fell in love with me then and now he just tolerates me.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Pantry Raid

I love my pantry. When we remodeled the kitchen of our 70's ranch house a few years ago, we opened up what was then the laundry room off the kitchen and created an "annex" to the small kitchen. When we remodeled the entire house this past Fall, we added the wood floor and new paint and some finished cabinetry to the pantry to make it even more inviting. Our galley kitchen is small and I prefer a very uncluttered look- so the pantry is a perfect addition. I keep my "I like to play barista at home" kit on the one counter. There are lots of cubbies and over head storage for large pots and pans and a floor to ceiling dry goods cabinet. The washer and dryer serve as extra counter storage during holiday feasts.

I love looking at other people's pantries, too. I am inspired by organization. Lydia's blog, The Perfect Pantry takes a peek into real people's pantries. I am so thrilled that she will be featuring my pantry on her blog sometime in June! I will let you know when that happens.

For a look at a presidential pantry, check out the White House Museum site here.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Backyard Explosion

Something exploded in my backyard. I think it was Spring. I took these photos today with my new camera- a Nikon D40. I hope to be bringing you MUCH better photos here at Good to be Home in the very near future.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Refrigerator Pickles

I love these pickles. They taste like candy.

When I first heard of this recipe, I wondered WHY would anyone want to make pickles out of pickles that were already made. I could not follow the logic. It was illogical that anyone would BUY a jar of perfectly all made pickles and then do some things to them, wait 3 days and then have pickles. But they are wonderful. They make those perfectly all made pickles even more perfectly wonderful. And they are easy. Now that's logic.

From the Pantry

1 Quart (48 ozs) jar of Whole Kosher Dills, undrained

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

2 Tbsp pickling spice

2 cups sugar

Cut the whole pickles in 1" chunks. Be careful you don't buy the HOT pickles---I found out the hard way that the Mt. Olive brand Whole Kosher Dills have a very similar label for the HOT pickles...WOW.

Put the chunks, juice from the jar and all other ingredients in a large non-metal bowl with a cover. Don't attempt to be smart and put it all back in the glass pickle jar. It doesn't work. I tried. I use one of those reusable plastic take-along bowls. The ones with the blue lids that scatter all over my cabinet and can never be found when needed without emptying the entire cabinet on to the floor. You know the kind I mean?

It is important to use a non-metal bowl because all that acid will react with the metal and create a nasty science experiment.

Give everything a good stir to help dissolve some of the sugar. Refrigerate and stir at least once a day for 3 days. After 3 days they will be ready to eat. For dessert. Just kidding about that.

These are delicious and would be great on the table with the Easter ham.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Foam Home

I love latte art. Talented baristas can "draw" just about anything in a coffee cup by very skillfully pouring steamed milk and foam on top of espresso. Typically, designs are rosettes or hearts or combinations of both and look like this:

There is a whole set of 182 latte art photos posted on Flickr that really show off a lot of very beautiful designs. There is also a great tutorial on Wikihow that gives step by step instructions for creating your own latte art. Sound a little too ambitious? There is a company in the UK that sells coffee stencils. Just pop one of the stencils on top of the foam, sprinkle with cocoa powder, lift the stencil and Voila! One of five designs on your latte!

Here is a gothic-y gruesome one---maybe for Halloween?

And here is one that's out of this world (sorry):

You know I had to try one of my own. Out came my trusty Aeroccino. You can see it in action here. I whipped up some foamy lo-fat and with a lot of skilled wrist action, I carefully poured and placed my foam on top of my steaming espresso and this is what I came up with:

What? Don't tell me you can't see what it is. Clearly, it is an Easter egg with a moustache. A handlebar moustache. OK, a plain white egg on top of a handlebar moustache. Look again. Geez. You people don't know art when you see it.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

St. Wudgie

Two disclaimers right up front. 1. God Bless Mother Theresa. 2. God forgive me.

OK. Now that is out of the way, the story.

When the Wudgie was born, I knew she would be the most beautiful baby in the entire world. I was right about that. I also knew she would, for the first 24-36 hours of her life, bear a strong resemblance to the Wizard of Oz. It was inevitable, I thought. All newly born babies look like the man behind the curtain. I was wrong about that.

Wudgie really really really looked like Mother Theresa. Complete with the robes of Calcutta.

In a moment of just the two three of us alone in the hospital room, Wudgie's mother and I looked very closely at her sleeping all swadled in the hospital-issued striped blanket. Wudgie's mother, all serene and calm from a combination of influences (everything from "here's my beautiful baby" to "I am sooo glad this is over" to "when is my next pain pill because I had an emergency c-section?") was inspecting the goods that was her sleeping baby girl. I was hovering over, basking in the moment. And then I blurted out "Oh my gawd, she looks just like Mother Theresa". Wudgie's mother, from that same combo of emotions (see above), busted out laughing. And screaming. Because it hurt to laugh. But she knew it was true. Our own little MT. Saint Wudgie.

Well, the photos above maybe don't capture that clarity of comparison that we saw that night almost 17 months ago. But it was there. And it was funny. God forgive me. please.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Insert [Art] Here

When we remodeled the house last Fall we turned our master bedroom into a spa-like oasis. I love our bedroom. It reminds me of a Manhattan loft. The only thing possibly missing is a fantastic piece of art over the bed. I say possibly because I am not sure if the room even needs one more thing in it. But if it did, it would be over the bed and it would be something fantastic and original. Like this:

This is a watercolor by the late Lester Pancoast from Miami. He was a landscape architect and artist that did a lot of studies of palm trees. I love his use of color and the abstract way he captured the light filtering through the fronds.

I am still not sure of the need for artwork though. With the color of the room, Tornado Watch by Valspar, it may not be a good idea to go hanging palm trees over the bed.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Spring Things

Yesterday I sort of admitted that I don't like Spring. And Summer. Now I am feeling guilty because while I don't like the weather usually associated with Spring, I do like the treats that Spring brings like new blossoms, baby birds and of course, Easter candy. Here are a few bits of eye candy I have seen around the Internet:

I love these little paper boxes from A Little Hut. Download the template at their site for just a few dollars and create these adorable little jelly bean holders for a special Spring treat.

Easter egg crafts with yarn are usually crocheted. These are knitted eggs- very unusual. Using cotton yarns in wonderful color combinations, these knitted little "egg socks" fit over a plastic egg. The pattern is free from a wonderful site called Little Cotton Rabbits based out of the UK.

I love Godiva's new Spring packaging. It's so fresh and inviting. Really convinces me that I want to eat that chocolate. As if.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Time for a Change

I don't care for Daylight Savings Time. It throws me off schedule and messes up the routine of my day. It usually takes me a full week to adjust and during that week my sleeping time is off and my days feel unsettled. I particularly do not like the "Spring ahead" time change. My favorite seasons are Fall and Winter so when the time change in Spring comes around, I am sad that my seasons are coming to an end. I always eagerly anticipate the "Fall back" time change knowing that Fall and Winter are on the way, but the actual time difference throws me off then, too. The Wudgie seems to have inherited my dislike of time changes---she's struggling with getting her schedule back on track, too.

I love this clock. Its a Howard Miller (Herman's son I think) new classic. It is in our family room and the regular swing of the little pendulum nub is mesmerizing.

Check out this fun clock. Amazing writing and erasing of seconds as they tick by.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Aroma from Barcelona

Now that you have tried the Glazed Wings from yesterday's posting (you did, right?), you have probably realized all that soy sauce baking in the oven leaves a very strong smell lingering in your kitchen and beyond. I am usually hyperaware of smells in my house and always try to keep some kind of air freshener or scented candle thing going on. The trouble with air fresheners is that they can be very artifical or chemical smelling and if they arent, then they seem to lose their smell punch after a short time. And candles can't be left unattended in my house---just like loose change, anything chocolate and small children. So I am always on the lookout for products that need little attention and maintenance and smell good.

I love these reed diffusers from Alora Ambiance. My favorite scent is "caldo". It is a subtle yet spicy blend of patchouli and amber and other wonderful things. It is not flowery and not overpowering. The reed diffusers are a little pricey but they last a long time and are available in 2 sizes. I was a bit nervous at first ordering 16 oz glass bottles of perfumed oil in the mail, but their packaging and shipping is excellent. I have had the larger bottle last about 9 months. I flip my reeds about once a month. Just ask the Mr.

Although they are a US company, I first "found" Alora when we went to Barcelona two years ago. We stayed in a magnificent B&B right in the heart of Barcelona called The 5 Rooms. A very hip yet refined retreat. Highly recommended. When we walked in the front door a wonderful ambiance greeted us in the form of the most incredible interior design, a welcoming hostess named Jessica and a captivating aroma from the large reed diffuser in the small lobby. The first moment I had after we settled in, I inspected that bottle closely, made a note in my journal and then ordered as soon as we returned home. I have ordered several diffusers since then---I love the special holiday blend called "festa" (great orange-spice scent) and love the little sampler kit they send with orders over $100.

Oh, by the way....I did try the Honey Latte as promised in last Friday's post.....I tried it even after the Barista told me it was "disgusting"......well, it wasn't quite disgusting--it was different. Honey shouldn't really fool around with coffee....honey should stay faithful to tea. If it wants to have a fling now and then- maybe peanut butter.....but definitely not coffee. That's just wrong.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Glazed Chicken Wings

Delicious and easy dinner or appetizer recipe. Great teriyaki flavor with a crispy skin! Serves 4 for dinner or 8-10 for appetizers.
From the Pantry

Ingredients: 3-4 lbs chicken wings
15 oz bottle reduced sodium soy sauce (or regular)
Garlic powder (Do NOT use garlic salt!)
Non-stick spray

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Throughly spray 9 x13 baking dish with cooking spray. Use spray liberally as the glaze will make a mess and clean up is soooo much easier with a well sprayed baking dish!

Cut wings at joints and discard wing tips.

Place wings in large bowl and sprinkle liberally with garlic powder. Turn wings over and sprinkle more garlic powder until wing pieces are all covered. Remember, dont use garlic salt!

Place wings skin side down in baking dish

Pour about 1/2 bottle of soy sauce over wings. This will be about 1 cup or 8 ozs of soy sauce.

Bake for 20 minutes. Baste with soy sauce after 10 minutes. Remove from oven and turn each wing piece over so skin side is up. Bake for another 10 minutes. Remove from oven and pour off all soy sauce carefully. Return to oven and bake for an additional 30 minutes or until skin is dark brown and crispy.

Glazed Chicken Wings

Friday, March 7, 2008

The Honey In My House

From left to right: Wild Flower Honey that I use in salad dressings, in tea, and sometimes on peanut butter sandwiches, Block Island cream honey for spreading on english muffins, Honey straws convenient for hot tea (although I like my tea sweet and it takes about 3 or 4 of these for a cuppa).

Look for interesting recipes using honey to be featured in all the foodie magazines this spring and summer. Although not exactly a foodie go-to site, the National Honey Board (!) has over 1400 recipes using honey as an ingredient. I predict that artisanal honey will be the next big specialty food thing---much like artisanal cheeses, breads and vinegars.

Speaking of honey, has anyone tried the new drink at Starbucks, the Honey Latte?
It really doesnt sound all that appealing but maybe worth a try. Honey has always been a tea partner for me and to think of it paired with coffee---well, I cant get my caffeine brain around it. I'll give it a try this weekend and let you know.

Here's a new honey product from Honibe (honeybee?) that is non-sticky. Made on Prince Edward Island from dried honey, these drops are portable and mess-free. No more sticky fingers. Sounds great---but at about $1.50 a drop, my cost per cup of tea would be about $4.50. How about YOU try these and let me know?

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