Monday, October 26, 2009

Halloween Week Menu

So, I've just finished this week's menu and grocery list and here's how it's looking.

(S) Piano Lessons *published in retrograde as this was yesterday*
Omelets and/or Sandwiches
Omelets are my newest go-to (read: I'm too lazy to do anything else) meal. We were out of everything but eggs and a little ham and cheese yesterday and I was tired.

Beef Stroganoff
Orchard Salad
I have half of a dried-up, slightly overcooked roast of beef to use up. So I'm going to braise it from the dead and stroganoff it (minus the mushrooms). And Orchard Salad is my latest can't-get-enough-of-it dish.

(T) Away Game 4-7PM
Chicken Tikka Masala
Basmati Rice
I'm craving Indian food this week (you'll see further damning evidence in the scrolldown) but this may be a very bad idea: planning a fully-cooked meal on a game night. So, this may be switched with something else...

(W) Church
Chicken Tikka Masala Sandwiches on Pitas
Mata Pulau with Nuts
The plan is to cook two batches of chicken on Tuesday night so all I have to do is slop some CTM in a few pitas, boil up some spicy rice with nuts and pack it all up before church. The reality may be something else entirely.

(Th) Homecoming Dance (Redheaded Snippet)
Veg Curry
I figure, let's make her as smelly-breathed as possible, right? And this is a great meal for a tight week, money-wise.

(F) Home Game 3:45-5:15PM, Out-of-Town Friend coming to visit, Haunted Hayride
I may even give folks the choose-your-topping option. But that depends on how tired and cranky I am.

(S) Halloween complete with Trick-or-Treating and a rip-roaring Halloween party
Beef Stew
Crusty Bread
Popcorn Balls
Snack Treats
Apple Cider
It's become a tradition for me to make beef stew on Halloween. I put it in the crockpot and when we get home from TOT-ing, all tired and hungry, there it is, waiting for us all hot and fragrant. We like to sit around a fire in the backyard and eat bowls of it while the children begin candy negotiations. This year we're having friends over for a party so we'll actually be throwing a bowlful of stew down our throats before running around doing all kinds of fun, silly things. But more on that later.

Well, gotta run. Have a newly minted grocery list of things to buy. And Daria and I are supposed to get a large chunk of Halloween party preparations finished...

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

I don't have a catchy title, is that okay?

Only time for a brief (yet still boring) update as I have to pick up Redheaded Snippet from practice in just a few moments.

My funeral gig did not materialize. After some thought, I decided to contact the friend who asked me to sing and tip her off about the potential drama looming in her path. She almost had a breakdown. Planning a funeral is extremely taxing and makes you think you are quite literally losing your mind. I felt so bad for her. So, in the interest of making things easier for everyone I decided to bow out and gently suggested perhaps she should keep the Music Director happy and just have her sing. So that's what happened. I went to the funeral anyway and I have to say the MD did a very nice job. It all worked out just fine. I would have loved to have sung in that church, though. The acoustics were wonderful!

Redheaded Snippet's game was another mixed bag yesterday. We won (8-0) but the team played so poorly (for them) that 10 minutes into the game the coach pulled out all but three of the Varsity players and sent most of the JV team in. And where the Varsity team had been struggling and couldn't score a single goal, the JV team scored two. Believe me, the entire team payed for it later. It was a very subdued, borderline dehydrated and slightly hyperventilating little hockey player who got into my station wagon after Post-Game Laps yesterday afternoon. But don't worry, a quart of Gatorade, another of water and round of breathing exercises (one thing I know loads about is breathing) did her a world of good and she was back to her perky self in no time at all.

During the course of the game a father from one team go into a yelling match with a father from the other and a girl on the other team got her clock cleaned with a point-blank, full-swing blow to the forehead from one of our girls. The poor thing just lay on the turf holding her face and wailing; it was terrible! I don't know what I would do if that happened to my Snippet. She says she wouldn't want me to run onto the field, but I just don't know if I could contain myself. And I know it's a risk we take when playing a full-contact sport like field hockey, I just don't like to think about it much.

Well, I have to go. Time to play taxi yet again, and then it's on to more laundry, more dishes and, HOPEFULLY, I'll be able to focus on finishing up the decorations for the Halloween party. Which reminds me, today I learned that my mother thinks I'm dangerously obsessed with Halloween. I am now wondering why she accepted an invitation to the party...

Me? Obsessed? Wherever did she get that idea?

Monday, October 19, 2009


Here I am to bore you to death. It's my mission in life. Anyway...

I have a full, busy day which I have mixed feelings about. On the one hand, a full, busy day will get me moving and hopefully make me feel productive and human (instead of stressed out and cranky). On the other hand, there is nothing I like better than an empty day stretching ahead of me in which I can do whatever I like which usually turns out to be loafing around. I like loafing better, but I don't like how I feel when I'm done.

I have a Funeral Mass to sing in tomorrow morning. Early. And I have never participated in a Mass before. So I have shopping to do and things to wash, dry, pluck and manicure (must look professional even if I don't feel it) and brush up on my music. I'm nervous. I've only done one funeral before. And when I called the church's Music Director to determine exactly which Ave Maria I'd be singing, I found out that the poor woman thought she was singing and had no idea the family had instead asked me. I felt terrible (and a little thrown under the bus, I admit). She sounded really surprised and slightly offended. And she's the organist. Who is accompanying me. And now she doesn't like me so I'm sure she's going to switch keys or throw jazz riffs in there or have fun with the tempo in the middles of the piece. Sigh.

And, of course, we have an away game this afternoon. We sat through one of the most miserable games on Saturday. It was a great game, don't get me wrong, but it was freezing cold (okay, not literally as the temperature hovered just above the freezing mark) and raining. We had bundled ourselves up with long johns, wool socks, ski pants (for Man-Cub), scarves, gloves and hand warmers in our pockets, but we still got wet. And our team lost. And Redheaded Snippet didn't even play and friends and relatives came from as far away as New Hampshire just to see her. I need to stop using "and" so much and concentrate more on better sentence structure. Another time. I need a nap before my shopping blitz. I hate shopping.

Nap time!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Go! Fight! Win!

Just had to share a few photos of Redheaded Snippet that were on our local newspaper's website. She hasn't been in the paper proper yet (other than having her name listed), but when she, I'll be sure to post it here!

This is from yesterday's game, a brutal smack-down against our rivals that resulted in almost every one of our girls being thrown to the turf at least once during play. Three of the opposing team's players got carded; one even got thrown out for a short period of time! But we beat them soundly: 5-0!

(Redheaded Snippet is the one on the right)

This shot is from a game last week, against another team with which we have a bit of a rivalry. That game wasn't as rough or physical, but we spanked 'em 7-0!

I'm going to have to start a scrapbook. Or, knowing me, maybe just a shoe box.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Halloween Decor

Okay, so my camera problems are not completely resolved (as you will see in just a few moments), but, for once, impatience trumped perfectionism and I decided to just share what I have, blurry, dim, askew or not!

Daria and I have been busy little banshees and have been decking the house out as best we can with the budget we have (which amounts to about $.47 a week). We're not finished, but I can share what progress we've made.

First, the hutch in the dining room. I try to make this look like a Potions display each year and each year I fall miserably short. But this is the best I could come up with this year (bearing in mind; cobwebs aren't up yet):

I tried to hone in on a few particular spots on the hutch. This is where my woefully inadequate photography skills come into sharp relief. Sorry for the blur!

Here we have a teensy cracked egg. Robin's maybe?

This woman is distantly related to me, but I can't remember who she is. I just like tucking her in somewhere at this time of year.

A few potions ingredients. I think what we've got there is "Wormwood," "Unicorn horn powder," and "Monkshood leaves."

These look to me like Asphodel root (waiting to be ground to a powder) and Dragon bile (which I'm almost out of; better get more soon).

I wasn't sure where to put the bodhran, then I realized it looked like a moon and decided I needed a witch flying across it. The Viking generously provided that for me, snipping and cutting one day while he was nursing an aching back on the sofa. The top of the secretary seemed a good place for it, alongside one of the crows and a small white pumpkin.

The lighting in these next few shots really frustrates me. The black, stringy fabric was only $1 a piece at the dollar store so I bought 10, cut them up and flung them everywhere.

They look much better in person. And I think I need a few more.

Top of the tv cabinet. Again, sorry about the blur. This area definitely needs cobwebs.

This may be my favorite and I wish I could leave it like this all year long: the chandelier in the dining room. Hello there, Mr. Crow!

I don't usually put anything up in the kitchen because I need to be able to move around and work in there, but I had a few things leftover and had a space for it so I figured what the heck!

Now, as for that window up there, you may remember it was lovingly trash-picked for me by The Viking last Summer (or you may not, if the main focus of your life is not What Has Pippa Found in The Garbage Lately?). See here?

As seen in the above photo, there were two windows, one of which was hung immediately while the other waited patiently against the wall next to the hutch for me to decide whether I was sure I wanted to hang it here:

I was pretty sure, but thought it seemed kind of blank and empty and thought it probably needed something else. Well, leave it to Daria and the inspirations of the Halloween season to provide the perfect answer!

She took an old sketch she had drawn of John Brown (don't ask me why, but we thought he looked gnarly and imposing enough for our purposes), reworked it a bit and made several copies:

Then she tried out a few tints: grey (done with watercolors):

And sepia, done with tea:

We decided on the grey, so Daria went ahead and painted the whole thing and treated it to a blow dry so we could get it in the frame:

At some point during the framing process, I got a black plastic tablecloth thrown over my head. So we had to get a photo.

A few tweaks on almost make it look ghostly, no?

There we have Mr. Brown in his new home:

Man-Cub had to get into the action, literally spinning in front of the camera as I snapped this photo:

And, of course, I had to play with it on picnik, too:

This was the last thing we did before calling it a night. There's Daria, measuring something on my dining room table. What is it, exactly? You'll just have to wait to find out!

Friday, October 09, 2009

Scurry, Scurry!

I must fly! I've a million things to do! So why am I sitting here at the computer?

Because I'm probably some kind of idiot. But I think we've established that long ago.

Anyway, today is my father's birthday. And for his birthday, I usually invite him over for dinner. This year is no exception (though last year was because it was his Big Fat 60th and we all chipped in and sent him out to visit with Dharma and her sweet babe in Chicago). I cook, he eats, he makes yummy noises and piles on the praise and I beam and we all have a good old time.

I really, really want to take photos of all the yummy things I'm preparing, but the camera (SIGH), though I've found the photo card, is now dead of battery. This probably could be remedied quite easily except that I don't have the attention-span nor the patience necessary to deal with this today. This is a job for The Viking. Only he ain't here. So, you will have to use your imagination.

Here's tonight's menu:

Butternut Squash Soup
Orchard Salad
Marinated Pork Loin
Potatoes Gratin
Roast Asparagus
Devil's Food Cake with Quick and Rich Vanilla Frosting (yes, that's its official name)

Wine, Cider, Coffee & Tea

I think it sounds great, if I say so myself! Now I just have to cook it all!

Like I said, I must fly!

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Fooling Myself

How is it that every night, I make a list for the next day complete with chores and errands and it always looks so great on paper and yet, and yet, every morning, it's like a different person has woken up in control of my body and is dead set on sabotaging every effort "Bedtime List-Making Pippa" intended to make before settling off to sleep?

I point my finger sternly in my own face every night before going to sleep and say, "Now, no computer time until chores are done. Check your email after you take a shower and make the beds, you hear me?" And I answer meekly, "Yes'm, I surely do," and then I fall asleep, fully believing myself. I fall for it every time.

And then, once everyone has cleared out of the house, I suddenly come to my senses and look up at the kitchen clock to find it's 11:12 am and no laundry, beds or tidying is done, my stomach is growling and I'm shivering because I'm still in my thin pajamas.

What an idiot. I am going to go load the washer. I MEAN it this time!

Monday, October 05, 2009

In Fine Fettle

That phrase just popped into my head just now and I think it about sums up my day!

Today was very nearly the perfect Autumn day. Brilliant sunshine, crisp breezes, a fantastic hockey game (we beat our rivals 7-0), pumpkin donuts, hot cider, and a lovely supper to cap it off!

Whole chickens were on sale at my store this week. And when chickens go on sale and the weather gets cooler it's the perfect opportunity to make chicken noodle soup. I actually bought two chickens and am planning on roasting the other one tomorrow to make chicken pot pie and perhaps some chicken salad out of it. But last night, it was chicken noodle soup.

This is not a photo of my actual soup. I still can't find my photo card so I'm left to depend on the kindness of strangers once again, but the above soup looks exactly like the soup I made last night. It's a household favorite and even Daria and my parents ask for some whenever I make it. It's so good we don't mind having it as leftovers several nights in one week. Which we're doing this week, starting tonight.

This is also not the salad I made, but Rachel Ray's version (which very well may be the recipe I used, can't remember). Some red leaf lettuce, green leaf lettuce, a sliced Honey Crisp apple, and a Bosc pear all drizzled with a vinaigrette made of apple cider, cider vinegar, sugar and olive oil and served with sharp cheddar makes a delightful accompaniment to the creamy, seductive chicken noodle soup! I'd like to eat this outside in front of a fire if I could! Or indoors in front of a fireplace under a throw blanket would be nice, too. Hopefully someday we'll get that wood stove installed.

Anyway, I'm ready to get my woolly socks and pajamas on and curl up on the sofa with a steaming mug of tea so I'd best get to cleaning up after supper. Happy Autumn evening!

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Decked out for All Hallows' Eve

It's October 1st! Time to break out the Halloween decor!