1 lemon-pepper rotisserie chicken from the grocery (free-range is great, if available and affordable; I just used the basic deli variety), shredded into bite-size pieces
1 16 oz carton of chicken stock (again, organic, if possible)
1 16 oz container of fresh salsa from the grocery deli (Garden Fresh is the brand here)
2 or 3 cans of white beans of your choice
1 8 oz block Monterrey Jack cheese (peppers optional), grated
Add the stock to the pot and put on medium heat. Add the remaining ingredients and heat through. Allow to simmer on low.
I’m feeling better already!
Our oldest baby turned 18 recently, and, thankfully, he’s still pretty affectionate. Do I miss the days when he sat in my lap and we read Good Night, Moon? Oh. Yes. But just the other day, he came home from school and told me in great detail about a film he’d watched in Economics. The movie was Food, Inc. and my darling brown-eyed boy told me every detail he remembered about U.S. farm subsidies and the rise of processed foods and our addiction to fructose. He went on to tell me what he thought about this in light of what he had seen in Peru earlier this year. No, it wasn’t as cute as Good Night, Moon, but in its own way it was just as wonderful.
Another wonder happening before my eyes is watching my daughter discover that she can be a girl as well as a tom boy. Having two older brothers has inspired her, no doubt. She is as competitive as the day is long. From the get-go, she’s wanted no pink. No purple either (which was just fine with me). Dresses on Sundays only, thankyouverymuch. Her tastes in interior design are quite similar—plain and simple, utilitarian even.
I was pretty surprised when she told me she’d like to re-decorate her room. She needed something “modern” and “appropriate for middle school.” I told her I was not painting this spring; she’d have to live with the babyish blue. She was undeterred. Lime green works with everything, she told me.
After she’d chosen her quilt, she wanted some shams. I tried to steer her toward some paisley ones in lime, pink, peach, and blue. She wanted something bolder, so she found these Ralph Lauren ones at Home Goods. She was right to want something bolder. Her room, when it is picked up, looks quite sophisticated. Thankfully, her collection of Silly Bandz still has a place of honor. And, of course, Bunny, who also turned 18 this month.
Good night, Moon.
Little sported a vintage, also known as a hand-me-down, Lilly dress for her night out with Daddy. They started the evening with dinner out and then danced to beach music, the cha-cha slide, YMCA, and Hannah Montana—a school girl’s dream playlist.
The following night, Big and Lovely Girlfriend set out for Big’s senior prom amid April showers that unfortunately turned out to be a relentless downpour.While Big and Lovely were posing for countless pictures, Lovely’s sister and her beau returned from turkey hunting! I thought the couples made a cute contrast. And don’t I wish I could look that good after returning home from being in the woods all day!
After photos, we headed to a neighbor’s house for more pictures and for what was supposed to be dinner in the garden for about 25 seniors and their dates. The rain prevented the garden setting, but the unflustered hostess and her corps of parents had moved everything inside and it looked as if it were meant to be. Happy Prom 2010!
Next, take a large bunch of fresh asparagus, wash and trim tough ends. Place in shallow baking dish and drizzle with good olive oil. Sprinkle liberally with kosher salt and black pepper. Place in oven to roast while salmon is baking. You should have about 10 minutes left, if you haven’t had a phone call or been otherwise distracted. Check the potatoes for doneness. Drain water, toss in two tablespoons of real butter and about a half cup of milk. Mash with an old-fashioned potato masher.
This is one of our favorite meals, every bite tastes better than the one before. The carmelized sugar crust on the salmon is incredible; the smoky roasted flavor of the asparagus is delicious; and the mashed potatoes? C’mon, they’re real mashed potatoes—even Jamie Oliver would approve. When this is dinner, there’s never a forkful left on anyone’s plate.
“Recipes” courtesy of my dear sister-in-law, K; Ina Garten; and me.
Here’s some of the gear, ready for loading into the van. The centerpiece featured an old picnic cooler rescued from my great uncle’s garage. It is always a hit at casual parties.
For more birthday fun, check out Suburban Princess and It's a Golden Day. It’s a big week for birthdays!
So far, it’s working really well.
If there had been a club called “I Swoon for Swoozie’s,” I would have been a member. Truthfully, I’ve fed most of my paper addiction (stationery, cocktail napkins, invitations, wrapping paper, ribbon) at a couple of little local shops or in fun places I’ve found while traveling. And, of course, there’s the random score at TJ Maxx. But Swoozie’s, well, Swoozie’s had it all. It was light and bright; the merchandising was clever; and the music was such a great compilation of tunes that you couldn’t help thinking about planning a party. But. For complicated reasons I’m sure, Swoozie’s 44 stores have been sold to a liquidator, and, apparently, everything must go, down to the bare walls.So, today, I headed over to see what was left. It was a bit of a spur-of-the-moment decision. Little was at her acting class, and I had 45 minutes, which only gave me about 25 minutes in the store! Still, I was able to find a few things that will go into the future gift stash—or not. First some Lilly P. labels and stickers for gifts or for shipping or for Little’s lunch bag.Then some Lilly pencils because somebody will enjoy having these on her desk next year. A Lilly pen for me because none of the men in my life will walk away with this one!
Naturally, I found some cocktail napkins and some stationery and correspondence cards for Little, too.
Despite their difficult circumstances, the Swoozie’s girls were as cheerful and helpful as always. One of the women tending the cash register told me that of the 44 stores, “our” store was 3rd in sales, making the loss especially painful for her. She also told me that they still had 300 unopened boxes to put out and sell, so to stop back in soon. I promised her that I would, and I will-- because I still swoon for Swoozie’s.
Spring is really here!
11 See! The winter is past;
the rains are over and gone.
12 Flowers appear on the earth;
the season of singing has come,
the cooing of doves
is heard in our land. Song of Songs 2:11-12
What a spring in the Carolinas! Sure, there’s pollen and plenty of it, but let’s keep our perspective. On my five-minute drive to work downtown this past week, I noted the following flowers, trees, and shrubs in bloom: azaleas, daffodils, tulips, phlox (pink and purple), viburnum (snowball) bush, cherry trees, red bud trees, dogwood trees (pink and white), wisteria, weeping cherry, crab apple, pansies, hyacinths, candy tuft, quince, forsythia, and at least four or five that I can’t correctly name! Not to mention, in the shady gardens, you can practically see the hostas shooting up through the ground. All this color against the brilliant green of budding trees is breathtaking. I love to garden. No, wait, that’s not right. I love to think about gardening. Yes, that’s more like it. And I love to draw landscape plans and go to the nursery and choose the plants. And I like to set the plants where they’re meant to go. Then, I bring the Mister cold drinks and compliment him on his fine work. And, rub his back at night, which is key.Emily Whaley’s garden as updated by daughter Marty Whaley, Garden & Gun
Emily Whaley, perhaps Charleston’s most famous gardener, wrote that she let her husband tell her who to vote for in every election, in order to get the plants and landscaping she wanted. I’m not condoning that, but if you, like me, aren’t that great with a shovel, then you might want to come up with your own particular bargaining chip like backrubs. Pies work well, too.
If you haven’t read Mrs. Whaley’s book, you must! She’s been gone several years now, but the book, written by William Baldwin when she was 85, is timeless. It’s not a technical gardening book, unless you happen to live in Zone 9, but it is an insightful one. She offers advice and opinions on gardening, of course, but also on good manners, dancing, tennis, and entertaining. I read it afresh every spring, and I believe that on this Mrs. Whaley and I would agree:
So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. 1 Corinthians 3: 7
s’more of flourless chocolate cake, toasted marshmallow meringue, graham cracker tuile, and hazelnuts.
Grand Marnier truffles and rolled strawberriesAnd so, with great patience and thoughtfulness, Candace, a CVS employee, listened to what I needed, found it, and sent the Mister home with the sheerest black stockings that can be found in a drugstore.
A few minutes later, the phone rings.
Mr: Okay, I’m here. What size?
Me: Well, first of all, I need black.
Mr.: Oh. (long pause) Okay. What size?
Me: Are they sheer?
Mr.: They’re hose. Of course, they’re sheer. (Pause.) What the heck is “barely black?”
Me: How much are they?
Mr.: I don’t know, four-fifty. What difference does that make now?
Me: The more sheer they are, the more expensive they’ll be. See if they have some more expensive ones.
Mr.: Hang on a minute.
Mr. (loudly): I need a woman!
Then I overhear some laughing and talking.
Mr.: Honey, meet Candace. Tell her what you need.
Me: Um, hi, Candace . . . .
So, I’d like to get her a present. Something you can’t buy in a drugstore. I welcome your suggestions.
These little bunnies can be found in the family room. None of them are old, but they kind of look like they could be, I think. My favorite is the one with the tinsel around his basket. I found him when visiting a dear friend in Texas.I put a few bowls of speckled eggs around on different tables in the family room and living room. Sometimes I pour them all into two big glass hurricanes and use them on the dining room table. The family room mantle gets a little taste of spring, too.
More speckled eggs, and I don’t remember where I got this bunny, but if you’ve ever read Robert Lawson’s Rabbit Hill, this bunny reminds me of Little Georgie, saying “New folks comin’”. (And, if you haven’t read it, you really should!)
Silver tray, moss bunnies, speckled eggs, and papier mache carrots that I purchased at a garden show in Atlanta quite a while ago. Usually, this is on the sideboard, but I couldn’t get a good photo of it there.
So, nothing too over-the-top this year. Next year, most likely I’ll be hosting the Easter brunch, and I’m thinking those little birds’ nests would make delightful place card holders!
I do love planning a party!
Now, as a reward for reading all that caffeine-fueled rambling, here’s a sampling of our spring and Easter. Middle and Big, who has taken a job working for a candy store, until life guarding or some other summer job lures him away. I keep hoping a local theatre will advertise auditions for Harvey, but so far, nothing.
After church on Easter Sunday, we drove up into the mountains for brunch at one of our favorite places. Gorgeous day, delicious repast, and cooperative and appreciative children made for a lovely day despite the fact that we had no family or guests.
The Easter hams. Big has already shed his tie, but it was a lovely Vineyard Vines bit of finery. Hams and baloney!
The Mister and me—yes, I cropped out our dessert plate!Little relaxes lakeside while the boys play Frisbee, and the Mister dozes. Blessed Easter Day!