returning to the keyboard.

Having been away for a little over 2 months, I have to be honest.  It feels a little awkward coming back.

My blog has always felt a lot like home to me, mostly because I like to invite all of you into my own personal life.  Only right now, it doesn’t feel as much like home, mostly because I haven’t been here in such a long time.   I don’t even know, really, where to start.

I guess I should just start with the reason why I left in the first place.

I grew tired of cooking.

There.

I said it.

Years and years of throwing together meals, indulging myself in fabulous new cuisines and breathing in the fresh aromas that encapsulated me in my tiny little kitchen.  How, you ask, could I grow tired of that?

Last week I got together with a group of college buddies, only to hear one of my foodie friends state that she too had grown tired of cooking.  That at the end of the day, the last thing she wanted to do was to even think of preparing dinner.  I suddenly realized that I wasn’t alone.

It happens to all of us.  We grow tired of the things that we love.  And sometimes we have to step far away.  But usually, more often than not, we walk on back.  Because it’s in us.  Those intricate little things that make us who we are.

And that is the plain and simple story of why I left.  There are no other dramatic stories to tell, and I’m truly sorry if I worried some of you with my unexpected leave!  I haven’t yet fallen off the planet. 😉

There are so many things that I can’t wait to catch all of you up on.  Life is exciting and a lot has happened over the past two months.

(Nicole, by the way, deserves credit for getting me started again, after routinely asking me when I’m going to start blogging…thanks, Nicole!) :mrgreen:

I’ll save most of what I have to share for the upcoming weeks, but I do want to introduce you all to Humphrey.

I’m a self reported dog lover.  Dog behavior and training fascinates me.  I’m obsessed with big black labs and drooly, snoring bulldogs.  Always have been, always will be.

But then I met Humphrey (formerly known as Digger) at a cat shelter.

I fell in love with him as soon as he crawled up into my lap.  While the other cats could care less of my very presence, Humphrey purred and kneaded his way deep into my heart.

He’s turned out to be a little handful of love mixed with mischief mixed with “cat”titude.  He knows what he likes and he’ll let you know if he doesn’t.  He loves to climb and knock things over.  Most of all, he loves to be brushed and snuggled and fed (organic beef and liver is his fave.)

I’ll share lots more about him in the coming weeks!

Well.

As awkward as it feels to just come walking right back in, as if nothing has changed—no time has elapsed–it still feels really good to be here once again.

Home always makes sense.

Besides, I’ve honest to goodness missed all of you.  It feels really good to be back. 😀

QUESTION: What is the most exciting thing that has happened to you in the past 2 months?  Haha!…Apparently, I have a LOT to catch up on. 😉

Sunday’s Superbowl Snippets

Yesterday was a very sad day for Patriots football fans everwhere.

(but a very GOOD day for Giants fans… 😉 )

I think the poor men folk are still recovering.

At least there was plenty of good food around.

(and that’s just the appetizer table!)

Never mind the chili, meatballs, chicken, baked beans, etc.

And Nicole’s baked onion rings, which I am hopelessly addicted to!

I’m obsessed!

Seriously.  Nicole knows by now to just place the onion ring platter right in front of me.  It’s a little ridiculous how much I love these things.

As for the game?  Well.  I wish I could partake in all the superbowl excitement, but honestly, I’m more excited about seeing everyone, eating good food and playing with a certain cat named Stitch.

I did get into the game a little bit though.

I mean.

I didn’t end up pulling out the Real Simple magazines that I had toted along just in case the game got boring.  The game was so close, I didn’t even have a chance to get bored.  Maybe I have an inner football fan somewhere, trying to get out.  Maybe. 😉

Time for me to get to work after a long (fun) weekend!!!

QUESTION: Did you watch the superbowl last night?  Are you a sports fan?

a rainy day and a bowl of beans.

Guess who I’m paw-sitting this week?

Don’t let these handsome good looks fool you…

These guys find themselves in more mischief than a 6 week old kitten.

Still not sure where an indoor cat manages to find sticks to chew on?

We spent the day running around the room and cuddling.  Stitch (the gray and white) loves bumping heads and playing hide and seek.  Highstreet (the black) just loves being held and pampered.  And fed.  He’s obsessed with those fishy Friskies Temptations. 😉

By the time I drove back home from the playing, feeding, pampering session, it was still raining (surprise, surprise!)  New England is getting so much rain, it’s almost ridiculous.

This does, however, warrant an excuse to eat a big bowl of beans for dinner.  The perfect rainy day fare.

With a basic side salad, adorned with a couple of sunny clementines.

And some toasted whole wheat honey bread, homemade by mom.

Sometimes, I miss the sunshine.

But then again.  Sometimes you can’t beat a rainy day and a bowl of beans.

Boston Baked Beans

Quite possibly the easiest, tastiest beans you’ll ever make.  Double if you want to freeze and have leftovers throughout the week.

  • 2 c. navy beans
  • 1-2 onions, finely diced
  • 3 T. molasses
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp dry mustard
  • 1/2 c. ketchup
  • 1 T. Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 T. packed brown sugar
  1. Soak beans overnight in cold water.  Simmer beans in same water until tender, approximately 1 to 2 hrs.  Drain and reserve liquid. (keep in mind that you don’t want the beans sooo tender that they’re falling apart on you…they should be a little firm)
  2. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).
  3. Arrange the beans in a 2 quart bean pot or casserole dish and top with onions.
  4. In a saucepan, combine rest of ingredients.  Bring mixture to a bowl and pour over beans.  Pour in just enough of reserved bean water to cover the beans.  Stir gently with rubber spatula and cover dish with lid or aluminum foil.
  5. Bake for 3 to 4 hrs in preheated oven.  Stir at least every hour.  ENJOY!
    QUESTION: What is your favorite rainy day activity?  Reading, baking, sipping tea.  And/or running, if it’s not thundering. 😉

June’s Leftovers.

Do you know what I love about fresh new months?

Fresh new ideas and resolutions.  New vegetables and farmers markets.  New places to see, new plans to be made.  New, new, NEW!

However, yesterday was still June.  There were still some loose ends that needed tying before I could kiss the month goodbye, so long.  Leftovers to be finished before any brand new things could arrive.

Yes.  And vegetables to be stir fried.  Leftover quinoa to be eaten.

Quinoa, just like rice, can be frozen quite nicely.  Which is why I most always double the batch and pop one in the freezer.  It takes about 3 minutes to reheat it in the microwave, which is perfect for late nights, crazy days, or for that last dinner in June.

This was the easiest meal of the week (not counting, of course, that bowl of cereal which impostered itself as dinner a couple of nights ago.)

I simply heated a pan with a drizzle of olive oil, added the last of the veggie drawer—carrots, asparagus, zucchini, peppers and onions, and topped it all off with one of my most favorite sauce recipes.

The sunflower seeds added just a touch of fun.  Just a touch of crunch.

There.  The veggie drawer is empty.  The remaining quinoa has been eaten.

Goodbye, June and Hello, July!

(p.s. The kitties are doing well!  Today is the last day I’ll be spending with them, as their ‘parents’ are coming home tonight.  I think Stitch knows something about this, because he’s been nothing short of Mr. LoveBug lately, with his head butting and meowing and acting all silly with excitement.)

(Highstreet, on the other hand, continues to act all regal and sophisticated.  Until a rope passes in front of him, which is when he unleashes his inner jaguar.)

Off for a run.  And then off to fit some studying time in!  It’s always nice a feeling, to start a new month off on the right foot.

Hot And Sour Sauce

Combine: 6 Tbsp. vinegar, 1/4 c. low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth, 1/4 cup water, 2 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce, 1 Tbsp. Asian chili sauce, 2 tsp sugar, 2 tsp cornstarch, 1 tsp sesame oil.

QUESTION: What are you most looking forward to in July?

I Know Myself.

1. If there is cake in the house, I will eat it.  There’s no such thing as saying no.  Hence the reason why I very seldom have cake in the house. 😉

2. Life without an apron, a whisk and a good pair of knives just wouldn’t be the same.

3. Nothing makes me swoon like the smell of basil after a fresh, summery rain storm.

4. My pantry will always be filled with quinoa…

5. …my fridge will always have a bottle of fine vinegar for dressing up some greens…

6. …and there will always be a bar of dark chocolate sitting in my closet.

7. A larger than life salad makes me feel good, good, GREAT.

8. Everything feels better in the morning.

9. I feel most at home in my own skin when I’m wearing a pair of running sneakers.

QUESTION: What do you know about yourself?

birthdays, ice-cream and fuzzy heads.

Happy 28th Birthday, Nicole!

(Somehow, we girls all turned up to Nicole’s party wearing purple, purple and more purple.  This was not planned! :mrgreen: )

Such sillies!  I absolutely adore these gals!!

Know what else I love?

Well.  Ha!  Besides all this lovin’ going on?

Birthdays.

Yes.  I really do love everything about them.

And traditions.  Like having Swiss cheese burgers with sauteed mushrooms every (single) year, for as long as any of us can remember.

Yes.

And pasta salads.  Can’t forget that now, can we?

Okay.  But really, aside from all the food…

…I love the simple joy of celebrating another year of life.

Another day.  Another moment.  Another breath.

Yes, that’s just it.  I love the celebration of life.

…and fuzzy heads, too.  But that’s besides the point.

Oh.  And icecream.  Did I fail to mention that?

Yet another tradition is that we have icecream sundaes on Nicole’s birthday.  Every.  Single.  Year.

Are you seeing why I love traditions?

From coconut to coconut M&M’s to crushed sugar cones and beyond.

But, like I said.  It’s really not about that.  It’s about the celebration of life and family that I love so much.  Well.  And fuzzy heads.

The rest of it?  Well.  It’s just the cherry on the icecream.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, NICOLE!!!

QUESTION: What is your most memorable birthday?