Sunday, April 8, 2007

Spring? Where?

Isn’t this a pretty picture of November: The snow is coming and winter will finally begin, we can bring out the wool sweaters and Christmas seems right around the corner! No, wait, that’s a picture I took TODAY. April 8, Easter Sunday. Happy Easter, by the way!

We had a good thing going for a while; I had every intention of switching out my winter clothes for spring when a cold front kicked all of us right in the teeth. Wedding-obsessed as I am, I continually think, What if it blizzards the day of the wedding???? Really, I just hope it gets up into the fifties, because the extended forecast has us in the balmy 40 degree range by the end of the week. Whee.

However, the crummy weather meant that DF and I had no intentions of walking to this great sandwich shop near us so we did an ironic spring cleaning instead, obviously skipping the step of taking the “ghetto plastic” off the windows. Our little place sparkles and shines as much as a place with few reflective surfaces can. And we built a fire last night—very cozy and not something one does in April, usually.

I think today marks the first Easter I did not spend with other members of my family in memory. We were good and went to church—a lovely ceremony complete with a brass band and the gorgeous church choir, plus hymns that even the fallen-away Christians know, so everyone sings. Plus the reverend got all the kids to come up and sit with him for a chat and we all got a laugh when, upon wisely asking if anyone had new Easter clothes today, one eager little boy informed us that he had his “church shirt” on. After the service we did what all good Buffalonians do: We raced home in time to watch the puck drop for the afternoon Sabres game, the last of the season before the playoffs. Whoo hoo! It’s like a mania when the Sabres make the playoffs, and this year we honestly do have a good chance to do quite well. I won’t even mention the Stanley Cup for fear of jinxes.

So tonight, no big Easter meal, which makes me kind of sad but also points out that my holidays will not always revolve around going somewhere else, which seems a bit of a relief. Plus DF’s making his absolutely delicious shrimp tonight, which are so easy to make and wonderfully tasty:

- Start with raw, shelled shrimp (no specific amount; we do enough for two)

Mix together in a bowl

- garlic powder

- cayenne pepper

- cardamom

- McCormic Grill Mates Roasted Garlic and Herb seasoning

- dry jalapeno mix (ours is made by Chili Today-Hot Tamale)

- flour (the main ingredient: DF does about half a cup and just gives good, hearty shakes for all the spices)

The spices are purely for taste; there’s no specific measurement. He makes it so the shrimp are good and spicy but not overwhelming. After you’ve rolled each shrimp in the mixture, covering well, heat a skillet on medium-high. Coat the skillet with Pam—we use butter flavored—and sauté just a few minutes per side. Serve with whatever you want. Tonight we’re having cream of mushroom soup. Yum! A traditional Easter dinner!

And this is totally unrelated, but I had to show off my new camera, which has the coolest thing: a "best picture" feature. The two I've uploaded I used the "pet" and "animation" features. The pet is my sister's sweet little collie puppy. BTW, I don't know why the picture layout is all wonky. If anyone could help with that...?

Speaking of Name Changes…

The wedding is two weeks away! I feel alternately excited and annoyed—as my friend M said, the devil’s in the details. Did you know how stupidly ridiculous putting tables together can get when you have to account for guests who don’t like each other? I know, ooh, poor me, putting tables together! Boo hoo! But hey, my life consists of organizing tables and figuring out the order of how I want pictures taken (along with grading the tests I gave right before break—what was I thinking?), and changing my name. More on that in a minute.

So, tables. Who knew this little detail would prove so obnoxious? I have attended various weddings and find that people prefer guidance. Nobody wants to act the wayward sheep, wandering around trying to pair up before the table’s full and realizing they have to sit with people they don’t know while their luckier friends gab it up together. Nor will I go so far as to force people to sit in a certain place; I felt a happy medium worked best. I know, isn’t this ridiculous? Fortunately we got it worked out, so, you know, whew. Crisis averted.

Along that line, I have to take the feminist route here and say I feel confident that men cannot possibly have to deal with the same foolishness with changing a name. When DF and I got our marriage license, the woman told me if I wanted to switch my maiden name to my first name, I would have to pay some exorbitant fee, go in front of a judge, have a birth certificate and a pint of my blood…. OK, that last part has no truth to it at all. None. However, it seems I have to jump through a bizarre number of hoops to change my name legally. At least it’s not like twenty years ago, when a woman had to get her husband’s permission to keep her maiden name (for professional reasons, etc.). Even funnier, I’ve also heard of a wife having to give permission for her husband to have a vasectomy (also about twenty years ago). Ouch….

Monday, April 2, 2007

Try This!

My friend S. has gotten a bunch of us together to create a little sharing group called "Try This!" (a la Martha Stewart, I believe). We've all contributed ideas and suggestions on various facets of life from recipes to advice. I told her I'd post it here. Unfortunately I'm not sure how to get the pictures to show up--any help, feather nester? I also took out names: While crediting the person is important, I feel on the web privacy's a little more so. Hope you understand and enjoy!

Try This!

April 2007


Overnight Baked French Toast

1 loaf French bread

¼ C softened butter

4 large eggs

1 C skim milk

¼ C sugar

2 T maple syrup

1 tsp vanilla extract

½ tsp salt

Cut bread loaf into ¾” slices. Spread softened butter evenly over one side of each bread slice. Arrange bread slices, buttered side up, in a greased 9x13 baking dish. Whisk together eggs and remaining ingredients. Pour over bread, pressing slices down. Cover and chill overnight.

To bake: Remove break slices from baking dish and place onto a lightly greased baking sheet. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 45 min or until golden. Sprinkle with powdered sugar just before serving.

- Sommer

A+ Restaurant Quality Key Lime Pie

2 cans condensed sweet milk

6 egg yolks

1 1/4 Cups key lime juice

Blend milk & eggs slowly. Add key lime juice and mix well. Pour into pre-baked graham crust until almost overflowing (this will prevent the sloppy crust syndrome). Bake at 350 degrees for exactly 15 min.

OK, I'm a key lime expert I must say. After living and eating key lime pie in Southern Florida, California, and now St. Thomas VI, I still say that this recipe from an Ithaca restaurant is the best. The reasons are: the right amount of tartness, the creamy texture, and its not fake green!! The crust is not too sweet to overpower the key lime. Signed: the Key Lime expert :):)

- Marilyn


Fajita Dust from Williams-Sonoma

The stuff in the purple canister. Having endlessly searched for the perfect fajita seasoning, spending a king's ransom on various grocery store marinades and powders, I ran across this stuff and gave it a whirl. We've used it religiously ever since. I've also seen it at Wild Oats.

- Sommer

Evert-Fresh Green Bags

Say good-bye to brown bananas and wilted celery!! My mom bought these for me when we took a trip to Whole Foods and swore by them that they would keep all of my produce fresh and crisp for weeks. I was skeptical, but she was right! Apparently they remove gases and provide a moisture barrier so that your produce does not get moldy or turn brown. The only thing you have to do is make sure your produce is dry before you put it in the bag. Squeeze out all of the air, put it in the fridge or on your counter, and you'll have fresh produce when you need it. These bags come in different sizes. They cost about $5 for a pack of ten, which is pricey, but they are reusable (just wash and dry). We found them in Whole Foods in the produce section, over by the sliced fruits and veggies case.

- Lori


The Female Brain

by: Louann Brizendine

The Female Brain explains a lot of hormonal/chemical changes that occur in the brains of women over the lifespan (childhood, adolescence, pregnancy, menopause, etc.) and explain a lot of the "crazy" behavior we are known for in insanely logical (how's that for an oxymoron?) ways that make you go, "So that's why...." A quick read, period, but especially for a neuroscience book...

- Sara

A Primate’s Memoir: A Neuroscientist’s Unconventional Life Among the Baboons by: Robert M Sapolsky

Written by a primatologist who spent many years doing field research in Africa. This is a book about baboons (who, it turns out, are way cooler than you likely suspect), but also about Africa, politics, globalization, and lots of other interesting stuff. Again, written for laypeople, in a conversational tone, lots of humor. Another one I zipped through.

- Sara

Case Histories by Kate Atkinson

I am in the middle of this book right now and it's an intelligent page-turner, especially for those who like whodunits with true plot. There are three case histories that the reader realizes somehow intertwine. Detective Jackson Brodie investigates them all while trying to deal with his own life, complicated by a messy divorce, questions about his life, and paternal worries about his own pre-adolescent daughter. I've really enjoyed its twists and fascinating characters.

- die frau


Scrapbook Party Favor

Here is a fun idea for birthdays, showers, or any other festive event. My mom did it for me at my baby shower and it was a lot of fun for everyone and such a creative way to capture the day. I love looking at the album from my baby shower and I know my little girl will love it one day too!

- Valerie

  • Set up a table with different kinds of paper, ribbon, decorations, stickers, glue sticks, scissors with fancy edges, a Polaroid camera, and anything else you can think of (we even cut up the gift bags and greeting cards to use).
  • Have everyone write down motherly advice as they arrive
  • Take pictures of the guests, cake, favors, games, etc.
  • Start making pages!
  • Once the pages are finished, put them in an album and the guest of honor has a beautiful keepsake of the day with lots of memories.


Reusable Grocery Bags

April 22nd is Earth Day and I can think of no better way to celebrate the Earth than to STOP using hundreds of plastic grocery bags every year. 12 million barrels of oil are wasted every year just in the production of plastic bags, the landfills are being filled up, and it’s all unnecessary! This great company, 1 Bag at a Time ( sells these durable reusable grocery bags. You can buy 10 bags (each holds 2-3 plastic bag’s worth of groceries) plus shipping and handling for less than $30!!!

- Sarah

Orange Glow Wood Cleaning Solution

After moving into our new house, the wood floors needed a major revamp. I used Orange Glow cleaner and then polish and the floor looked great!

- Melisza

Pledge Stain Cover-up

After fixing the floors, I realized our staircase had a lot of scratches. I used this Pledge product and it did wonders in covering up the scratches. HUGE difference!

- Melisza


This is a blog called The Gallery of Regrettable Food by one of my favorite bloggers, James Lileks. Full of chuckles and well worth a read by modern homemakers lest they find themselves similarly lampooned 40 years from now.

- Don

Help keep our kids safe and help bring home missing kids by visiting this website. By clicking on “How You Can Help” you will receive a free child safety kit and a free internet kit. Click on “Take Action” for several free options on how you can volunteer to receive and hang up posters of missing children in your area. You are not obligated to do anything, but imagine the possibilities of finding these kids if we all do this. I urge you to please take action – at least by forwarding this link to others.

- Valerie


“Do one thing everyday that scares you.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

- Tamarah


From my own files, here’s a snippet from a series I’m writing called The Easy Housewife.

- Don

Easy Salad:

One head of iceberg lettuce; one bottle of ranch dressing; one large knife. Take knife and quarter head into 4 parts, set parts on 4 plates. Pour bottle of ranch dressing over all. Serves four, with a smile. My favorite. Yum.

ANY recommendation you have, we want!!

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