Friday, December 27, 2013

Whatever: Merry, merry Christmas

Oh Christmas, you are so wonderful.
The breakneck speed which we hurdle ourselves toward you.
The anxiety of watching and waiting for the presents and the food. The moment when we gather under the tree, bed head and bad breath, coffee in hand to watch as our loved ones open their much anticipated gifts. 
The songs that drive us nuts for a month, but on Christmas Day make us teary eyed and sentimental.  Church with strangers and friends who greet each other with all the joy that is Jesus.
The food, the wine, the fun. All rolled into one big ball of wonderfulness.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Whatever: My Christmas List

I have  been remiss with the list. 
But, have no fear, it is coming back in January as part of my 2014 plan.
I love reading everyone's blog this time of year and seeing what fun things they do for the holidays. 
I love a fun, wacky, loud holiday season. 
We don't get much of that here, I am afraid. My husband is an only child (sort of...two much, much younger half siblings that live in Florida and a step-sister who is out of the picture) and while his mom is very fun, she's not loud. My family is spread across three states. Three sisters and a step brother, we are all raising kids and extremely busy. So, our holidays are quiet.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Whatever: The theme is tacky...and little dogs.

Happy Festivus. 
I think only Gen X'ers get that reference. 
I dropped another Gen X reference in a group recently to blank looks.
Meanwhile, at Casa Swann, we relish Festivus.

And Christmas. 

Every year, I have a theme. Wrapping paper theme,  that is. In the past we have had "stripes and dots", "words", "blue and pink" (that year we had pink poodle Christmas paper. Yes, it exists.)
 This year it is dogs. "Little dogs" to be exact. I am personally a big, big fan of little dogs.
 The sillier the better.

 From my Sadie to Ellie's Maybelle, they are beloved little bad asses that keep our cats and couches in line.

So, this year, our wrapping paper reflects that love. 

I also love that Christmas is time to revel in your inner tackiness. I used to belong to that school of thought of white lights and themed ornaments. Then I got real. Three different kinds of lights including shotgun shell lights grace my tree. My ornaments date back to early college and my first solo apartment. And they are ones that the girls have picked out over the years, including Karate Santa and lots and lots of reindeer.
 And Elmo.
I love putting them all up and remembering why and when we got that particular one. 

Sentimental and wacky all rolled into one giant and slightly lopsided tree. 


Saturday, December 21, 2013

Cooking: A recipe for deliciousness

I have gone on and on about my love of soup. I credit being "thin" and never getting sick to my love of soup in the winter time. My family is not so in love with this concept, but I figure I cook lots of meat so...there!

This past week I made a delicious variation of a tomato soup  that I have made for years. 
I was craving a certain flavor and I totally created something that hit the spot.

My favorite way to cook is roasting. I roast veggies all the time. The smells it creates in my house are amazing. The flavors roasting creates are much deeper than sauteing. Plus, I am lazy.

I got home from work and made a little brie with apples and nuts to snack on while I cooked the soup.
I quartered 10 very mealy Roma tomatoes (I hate mealy and this is a great way to get something good out of mealy tomatoes).  Sliced up a large container of mushrooms, covered them with a little olive oil and Alchemy Spice seasoning salt and threw them in the oven at 425. About 20 minutes into it, I stirred them and returned to the oven.

While those roasted, I diced a large onion and sliced a medium fennel bulb. Fennel is one of the most under used veggies. I love the taste of fennel, which I learned the beauty of working on fine dining restaurants in the 1990's. Fennel was it in the 1990's.  While the tomatoes finished roasting, I sauteed the onion and fennel in a dutch oven and when the onions were almost brown, I lowered the heat and covered the dutch oven to simmer. My house smelled amazing.

Here is that recipe, which I have to say is  my newest favorite. I ate it all week, with a little smoked cheddar crumbled in on top. Amazing.

Displaying photo.JPG
Yes, my dishes are pink and aqua. 

Roasted Tomato Soup
  • 10-12 roma tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 large container mushrooms (sorry, I don't know the size), sliced thickly
  • 1 med/large onion diced
  • 1 medium fennel bulb, thinly sliced
  • 1 4 cup container of vegetable broth
  • 1 28 oz. crushed tomatoes
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • crushed red peppers (to taste)
  • 1 1/2 table Alchemy Spice Mediterranean seasoning
On a greased cookie sheet, combine tomatoes and mushrooms, drizzle with olive oil and generously season with salt and pepper ( I used Alchemy Spice Seasoned Salt). Roast in a 425 oven for about an hour. Half way through, turn and adjust temperature if needed. Saute onion and fennel in a little olive oil in a dutch oven. Once onions begin to brown, reduce heat and cover, sweating the veggies. Once tomatoes are starting to get really good and roasted (and a little charred) remove from oven. Add garlic to dutch oven and cook until fragrant. Add tomatoes, broth and roasted veggies. Add seasoning and crushed red pepper, if using. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, tasting occasionally to see if seasonings are right. Adjust if needed. This makes a large amount of soup. 

Serve with really good bread, cheese quesadillas, or just by itself with some smoked cheese. Yum-o! 

Whatever: Stitch Fix Experience

Several of you have asked about my Stitch Fix and I finally have a few minutes to sit down and share my first experience.
First let me say that the concept is wonderful.
No stores, no lines and the dressing room is your room. The items sent you are in style (which is key for a 42 year old woman) and they are tweaked to your requests.

My box arrived and was sitting outside as my husband had no clue what it was. Since  I LOVE opening packages, I was a little too excited and forgot to take a photo of it before it was opened. Sorry. My hands were literally shaking.

Once opened, the presentation was flawless. Simple, clean lined and detailed. 
The design on the inside of the box set the tone for the whole experience. Kudos design team!
I am a sucker for aqua and geometric, so I was hooked.

Inside, I found a "letter" from my stylist complete with instructions and visual how-to's for the clothes I received.  You know I love a list!

One of my biggest issues is "putting things together". I am terrible at accessorizing. If it looks good, I will never deviate from that specific outfit. Not really an issue since  I have about 10 things in my closet.  I truly appreciated the instructions.
I had been at work and just happened to have tights and boots on, so the first thing I tried on was this great dress. I absolutely loved it. Perfect for work and going out. Sadly, it was too tight across the shoulders and back. The details on it were absolutely my style. A little retro, a lot versatile and very flattering.

Delaney tried it on, and of course it fit her perfectly.

The rest of the box was just as cute. Despite the whole chevron trend here in the south and my love of geometric and stripes, I have not owned one thing chevron. So, this is what I kept. Delaney informed me "chevron is over". All the more reason to keep this cute top.
A little snug across the shoulders, but not enough to make me want to send it back. I wore it yesterday with mustard colored cords and cowboy boots. Got stopped on the street and told how cute I looked. BONUS!

The second blouse was not something I would have ever, ever picked out. However, on it was very flattering and my husband said " really cool". Reminded me of my hippie days (I somehow have sense of style that is hippie/preppie?) Unfortunately it was too small in the shoulders. I wonder where Ellie gets it?

 I had specifically asked for work attire and jeans. I have a hard time with jeans, and I love skinny or straight leg jeans. The jeans were so darn comfortable that I almost cried sending them back. 
They were so soft, did not give me muffin top or show my crack. The color was a very soft gray, which is something that I have been looking for to wear with boots and flats to work. 
However, in the thigh region they were too tight. 

Better representation of the color

I could not justify keeping the very soft and cute infinity scarf since I have several dark scarves. Had it been a lighter color, it too would have stayed.

Had I bought the entire collection (which I would have had they fit) I would have spent less than $250. A bargain, I think. As it was, with my $20 fee removed and $5 of a referral (for some reason I did not get the entire $25, which I intend to take up with their customer service) , my top was $33. The box included an envelope with prepaid shipping, so the other four items went back.

I tweaked my profile a little and send a message to my stylist(s) saying that I have wider shoulders and athletic thighs. My next  "fix" is coming mid January. Stay tuned to see what comes!

I really recommend this, especially if you are like me and are not a huge shopper. My job, kids and wife duties take top billing over shopping. The items are a little higher priced than if you hunted them down, but the perk of not having to is worth the slight mark up.
If you are interested in joining me in this great experience, 
Click this link!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Whatever: I'm getting an implant

18 years ago, I went on a date with the cutest boy in the entire world.
I knew he was the one for me after that fateful date.
Not because he was smart, funny and interesting. (He was all of those things.)
But because after I fell down 150 feet head over heels down the side of a cliff in the Smokey Mountains, he cried. He cried because I was alive. 
Bloody, beaten to hell, and missing a tooth, but alive.

Then he drove me to the dentist. 
And the ER. And got my prescriptions filled. 
Sat on the toilet while I scrubbed tree bark out of my legs in the bathtub.
Slept on the other end of a sectional with me. 
And never laughed when I whistled while I talked.

The good old days of me with my original tooth

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Cooking: The best week of the year

This is the week I live for all semester long. 
We have NOTHING this week on the agenda.
Swim practice continues until the end of time, but other than that...

10 days til Christmas and my life is pretty sweet. 

Hope yours is too.

Casa Swann "It's the BEST Week of the Year" Menu
  • Baked spaghetti squash garlic shrimp and tomatoes
  • Whole roasted chicken/ sauteed kale/ creamed spinach
  • Oven roasted tomato soup
  • Chicken stew/leftover tomato soup

Dirt: This year will be different

The holidays are here!
This may be the first year that I am on my game, ready for whatever comes. 
Presents are wrapped and under the tree. Most of the people that I want to treat to a little something, have a little something. This year, it does not seem like a chore, but a privilege.
Last year, or the year before, I made up my mind to enjoy the holidays.Simple, right?
Well, for me, not so much.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Christmas Carols

This is one of the Swann women's favorite Christmas songs.
Yes, we are indeed a little twisted. 
Go figure that my children are as weird as me.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Gratituesday: Thanksgiving

This week, people will be gathering around tables to give thanks for their many blessings.
Mine are too many to count and I always feel put on the spot when it comes to the round table thanks.

My friend posted on Facebook at the beginning of the month "What if you only woke up with the things you had been grateful for the day before...?" WHOA! 

The post was a reminder to be thankful for the big things, family, health and pets, in my case. 
I often play the house on fire game. You know, what would I grab if my house was on fire...?
Family and pets. 
Not wedding photos or family heirlooms. 
My kids, husband and pets. 

So...while I am truly grateful for lots of wonderful blessings that I enjoy, today I am grateful for these specific things in my life, which I would save from a fire, which I would be devastated to wake up without tomorrow, which I am truly grateful.
  • Steve (who sends me amazing pictures like this one...funny and goats)
  • Delaney and Ellie and their wonderful hilarious selves
  • Jake, Maybelle and the odd couple, Hagrid and Charlie
  • My wonderful parents who support and love me 
  • Steve's parents,who are awesome grandparents
  • My amazing sisters who are my rocks and keep me sane (and sometimes insane)
  • My brother, brother-in-laws (3) and sweet sister in law
  • My eight nephews and three nieces
  • My Uncles and Aunts, who are indeed amazing

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Cooking: Thanksgiving and other foodie events.

Onto happier, non soap box thoughts. 

This week, I am working three days then off to North Carolina for our family Thanksgiving. 
Today, however, I am heading out for the last day of the Chattanooga Market and my dear friend,
 Paul Smith's last day of running it as operations manager.

Big shout out to Paul Smith for 6 awesome years of GREAT Sunday's! 
This week, Casa Swann is living the foodie life of Riley.

We are gearing up for Thanksgiving feast at our foodie brother-in-law's house in Asheville.
Wednesday, we are continuing our new tradition of Alleia's family dinner, which is heaven.

Come Friday, I may be only wearing elastic waist pants.


Casa Swann's Thanksgiving Menu
  • tonight: homemade acorn/butternut squash jerk soup/ sauteed chicken tenders
  • Thai shrimp soup
  • Alleia! 
  • Turkey Day

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Dirt: Soap box

After my last post, I have been so sad to realize that people actually are going shopping, on Thanksgiving. 
What the???

I am not. Nor is anyone in my family, that I know of at least. 

Here is a great, well worded article as to why you, I and ALL of America should not shop on Thursday. 
Stuff is just that and all that cheap crap you are buying is ending up in the landfill. Sales are so far down right now that every single day I get a code for 40-60% off whatever I might possibly want.

Stay home and enjoy your family. Mine is full of people who are going through chemo (at 38 years old) and kids with Type 1 diabetes and family members missing those lost. 

ENJOY your family. Crazy and all, because one day, your Grannie will not be there to make pie. Your sister will have cancer and your Dad will have left your family. Things happen. Enjoy the goodness of a day gathering to give thanks for your blessing and family then let that be enough.

**repost from the Huffington Post**

I'm a capitalist. It's not my religion, I won't bow before its altar, I won't kiss its ring, but I believe in capitalism. It's an invention of man and it involves money, so it's not perfect, but I've never heard anyone suggest a better system. So I'm a capitalist.
I am not, however, a consumerist. I like the freedom and innovation of capitalism; I loathe the materialism and gluttony of consumerism. There's a popular misconception that capitalism and consumerism are inextricably linked; that one naturally involves and requires the other. But this is a fallacy. Certainly the "stimulus" programs a few years ago ought to have dispelled this notion entirely. The government perverted the free market and elected to hand free money to millions of people, hoping that they'd go out and buy a bunch of stuff with it. This was consumerism at the expense of capitalism, and it revealed our priorities: forget freedom, forget principle -- just buy stuff.
That's our entire economic system: buy things. Everybody buy. It doesn't matter what you buy. Just buy. It doesn't matter if you don't have money. Just buy. Our entire civilization now rests on the assumption that, no matter what else happens, we will all continue to buy lots and lots of things. Buy, buy, buy, buy, buy. And then buy a little more. Don't create, or produce, or discover -- just buy. Never save, never invest, never cut back -- just buy. Buy what you don't need with money you don't have. Buy when you're happy. Buy when you're sad. Buy when you're hungry. Buy when you want to lose weight. Buy an iPhone. Six months have passed, here, buy another iPhone. Go online and buy things. Go to the mall and buy things. On your way, stop and buy some more things. Buy things for every occasion. Buy things to celebrate. Buy things to mourn. Buy things to keep up with the trends. Buy things while you're buying things, and then buy a couple more things after you're done buying things. If you want it -- buy it. If you don't want it -- buy it. Don't make it -- buy it. Don't grow it -- buy it. Don't cultivate it -- buy it. We need you to buy. We don't need you to be a human, we don't need you to be a citizen, we don't need you to be a capitalist, we just need you to be a consumer, a buyer. If you are alive you must buy. Buy like you breathe, only more frequently.
How appropriate, then, that a holiday created by our ancestors as an occasion to give thanks for what they had, now morphs into a frenzied consumerist ritual where we descend upon shopping malls to accumulate more things we don't need. Our great grandparents enjoyed a meal and praised the Lord for the food on the table and the friends and family gathered around it. We, having slightly altered the tradition, instead elect to bum-rush elderly women and trample over children to get our hands on cheap TVs.
For a while, Black Friday and Thanksgiving coexisted. We thanked God for His blessings on Thursday, and then jumped into the consumer mosh pit at Best Buy on Friday. But this Black Friday-Thanksgiving marriage was tenuous and rocky from the start. It was doomed to fail. Thanksgiving offers tradition, family and contentment; Black Friday offers smart phones at drastically reduced prices. In America, we all know who wins that battle. So Black Friday, like a black hole, violently expanded; it absorbed the light that surrounded it and sucked everything into its terrifying abyss, where all substance is torn to shreds and obliterated. Black Friday could not be contained to a mere 24 hours. It is Consumerism. It wants more. It always wants more. Nothing is sacred to it; nothing is valuable. So, now, Black Friday has eaten Thanksgiving alive. Thanksgiving let out a desperate cry as Black Friday devoured its soul, but we barely noticed. It's hard to hear anything when you're wrestling 4,000 other people for buy one get one free cargo shorts at Old Navy.
Many of the big chain retailers will be opening during, or before, dinner time on Thanksgiving. Walmart, Kmart, Target, Best Buy, Kohl's -- all among the many electing to cannibalize Thanksgiving. Kmart will be open starting at 6 a.m. on Thanksgiving morning, offering great Black Friday deals for 41 straight hours. This is fortunate because I often walk into Kmart and think, "you know, the stuff in here just isn't cheap enough."
Will the Black Thanksgiving shopper carve a moment or two out of their busy bargain hunting schedule to break bread with their family and friends? Will they make it all the way through grace before dashing out the door, trading in tradition and merriment for cheap electronics and kitchen appliances? "Bless us, O Lord, and these thy gifts yada yada -- gotta go, Walmart opens in 10 minutes!"
I'm willing to bet that the hoarding hordes descending upon shopping malls and retail outlets at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving, would, in a different context, likely speak quite solemnly about the dreaded "commercialization" of our national holidays.
Here's a true story: a few days ago I had a conversation with a friend where we both lamented about the meaning and message of our important holidays being lost in a commercialized haze. Yesterday, this same friend posted on his Facebook page, excitedly announcing Best Buy's earlier Thanksgiving opening time.
Yes, the man who hates the commercialization of holidays decided to become a commercial for the commercialization of holidays.
I admit, it's easy for me to forgo Black Thanksgiving. Stay home, eat food, and drink beer, or wait in long lines at dreary shopping malls, fighting with strangers over half priced Blu-Ray players? Not exactly a tough decision in my book. But even if I stumbled into some demented parallel dimension where the prospect of shuffling like a dead-eyed zombie through Target on Thanksgiving suddenly seemed appealing to me, I'd still pass. If for no other reason, this reason is reason enough: I'm not going to force some single mom to ring up my worthless purchases instead of enjoying Thanksgiving with her children.
These employees will be there, in their name tags and their vests, waiting on impatient mobs of customers while their families eat without them. They will be there with or without me. But I personally can't be among the reasons why they will be there. I understand profit margins and competition, but I think these places ought to respect their workers enough not to rip them away from their kids during one of America's most beloved holidays. And if I think that, I could not possibly go to one of these establishments and make them serve me.
Capitalism is great, but some things are greater. Family is greater. Yes, these folks choose to work at these stores. Yes, they likely knew when they signed up that they'd be sacrificing their Thanksgivings. Yes, at least they have jobs. Yes, sure, and so what? If that's enough in your mind to justify participating in the destruction of a great American tradition -- good for you. But you COULD wait until Friday, couldn't you? And if you did wait until Friday, and if everyone waited until Friday, no store would ever open on Thanksgiving again, right? So you COULD take steps to protect Thanksgiving from the decay of materialism and consumerism, and, while you're at it, give this wonderful holiday back to the customer service representatives who have been forced to abandon it and cater to the stampeding throngs, right?
Right, but then again, those skirts at JC Penney ARE super cheap.
Oh Lord, if you don't go on Thursday to buy stuff, there might be slightly less stuff available on Friday! Think of the stuff! We must get all the stuff! The stuff must be purchased!
Family can take a backseat.
Tradition can wait.
These employees should just be grateful for the opportunity to stand behind a cash register for 14 hours while the rest of us eat our pies and drink our wine.
Thanksgiving is just a holiday.
But stuff, things, toys, gadgets -- these are what life is all about.
Why give thanks for what you have when there's so much you don't have? That's the new meaning of Thanksgiving: count your blessings, and then buy some more blessings and count them again.
Check out more writing by Matt Walsh at

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Dirt: I (almost) hate Christmas

As I sat and watched t.v. with my husband tonight, we both lamented how much we hate holiday commercials. The "Kiss begins..." one is especially bad.
Here it is the middle of November (I am in denial that Thanksgiving is 9 days away) and already we are bombarded by holiday cheer.

I hate it. 

Not the holiday part of it. The commercial...gobble, gobble...Pac Man attitude. You know, that MORE, MORE attitude. My memories of the holidays as a kid were Thanksgiving then a very long time passed and Christmas. I realize my childhood memories are skewed. But still. Christmas is a long time away.

I am reveling in the nowness of my life and trying to ignore the giant tree lot that popped up today in the parking lot next to my work. And remember that I love Thanksgiving. Especially the pie. 

I love spending time with whatever part of my family I am with. I love shooting guns and playing cut throat whatever. I love the holiday about eating too much and being Thankful for that option.

I am heartbroken that people will be shopping on Thanksgiving. That they will willingly leave their families and cause others to do so as well so that they can buy MORE. 

I love presents, don't get me wrong. I covet a pair of harness boots and a monogrammed mug. 
But I really love that peaceful feeling of falling asleep in front of a movie with my family nearby. 

I encourage everyone to boycott the MORE and enjoy what you have. Family members, friends and most of all pie.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Dirt: Insurance Soap Box

I went to see my internist today for my yearly visit and mentioned that my depression last winter was really tough. She asked why I had not been to see her. 

My answer wast that my insurance pays for one visit per year. She seemed shocked. 

This got me thinking about my yearly visit that costs me $15 out of pocket in her office and then around $50 for blood work. On top of my family's $1700 a month. We go to the doctor for checkups and that is it. $18,500 a year for four check ups and Steve's insulin, which still costs us around $300 a month.

What the heck is wrong with that picture?

 No prescriptions other then insulin. EVER. Ellie was on her first and only antibiotic in 5th grade for an ingrown toenail. Delaney has never been on one. We are drug free, literally.

Why is our insurance so high and then not really pay for anything? 

The country is about to go down a rabbit hole of debt because our lawmakers (all of them) are in the pocket of the drug and insurance companies. 

What are we going to do about it? Probably nothing.
We are lazy and scared and want something for nothing as long as it is not tied to the word socialism.

Go to almost every other first world country and check out their health care systems (Yes, that means England and Canada too). Socialized and functioning. 

**Sadly step off soap box**

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Cooking: Organized

I spent this weekend doing things that have needed to be done around my house.
I am in the throes of it right now, but am taking a break to eat some lunch and make my menu for the week. I have already done all my laundry and put most of it away, swept and mopped floors, cleaned my bathroom, hung new curtains in my living room, made homemade chicken soup for my girls, taken them to see Thor, gone to get supplies for a science project and cleaned out all the drawers in my kitchen. BOOM!

My last check off is my front porch and my closet. 

This week, I hope to be a little more organized.
Here is the menu to prove it.

Menu of November Organization

  • Spaghizza, mixed greens salad
  • Baked chicken, cheese baked sweet potatoes, salad
  • Tomato soup with meatballs (we will finally eat this)
  • Shrimp fried rice
  •  Tacos, taco salad or pile-on (Texas term)

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Dirt: I want a new list...

Because I write for two blogs for my job, I have had a hard time finding the time for my own...
That has made me a little sad. 

I thought back on the reason I started this blog. I started it to share my life thoughts and to keep track of making myself a better person. A little "putting myself out there for the world to hold me accountable" if you will. Recently, I went back and reread some of my old posts and I was a little awed. My writing is decent and I actually had a plan that I have brought to fruition. 
So...not like me.

One thing I really did like was my list and if going to work full time has taught me anything it is that I need a list. A real list. Not only of my daily to-dos, but also of my long term goals. Since I don't really believe in "New Years Resolutions" I thought it might be good to start a new list  now. Before the holiday hubbub and insanity has a chance to set in,while my mind is clear and I have a few seconds. 

So, on that note, here is the NEW list.

  1. Use my phone less when I am with my family
  2. Make one room a priority each day
  3. Take my children to church more often
  4. Talk to my five every week (I actually have 6, but I think the commercial is 5)
  5. Work out five times a week 
  6. Clean out my closet and really purge
  7. clean out Steve's closet and really purge
  8. Take each of my daughters on a date once a month
  9. Continue my trail run date with Steve (I love this)
  10. Write one handwritten card once a week
  11. Make 10 new friends in 2014
  12. Make a gingerbread house with my girls. A real one. A HUGE one.
  13. Talk to my parents more often (texting does not count0
  14. Make time for my favorite people
  15. Watch more television ( I literally watch 1  hour a week...I am so out of the loop)
  16. Spend less time on my computer when I am not working
  17. Finish the damn outside project I started in May BEFORE Christmas
  18. East more protien
  19. Connect with my two nephews that I have lost a connection with
  20. take my vitamins
  21. Craft more with my daughters
  22. Paint my bedroom
  23. figure out how to use a saw so I can build the outside table I want
  24. Read more books 
  25.  volunteer for something and stick with it...
  26. Spend more time with my sisters...

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Cooking: hooch

I feel like my brain is fried...Unlike my food.

This week's menu is a clean out the freezer type of week. 

Three nights of choir, a swim meet, and then the weekend.

Delaney ROCKED the Head of the Hooch this weekend. Her novice 8 came in 19th out of 46, which is big time for their second race.


Post Hooch Casa Swann Menu
  • Shrimp/Scallops spaghetti squash with parmesan cheese
  • Whole baked chicken/ spicey sweet potatoes/greek salad
  • tomato soup/meatballs

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Cooking: Salmon Rushdie

Remember when Salman Rushdie was in hiding in the 1990's for writing The Satanic Verses?
I read the book and actually loved it. Funny how people got so worked up about a book they probably did not even read. 

On that note, I made the most delicious dinner tonight. I raved. Steve raved. Delaney inhaled it (Delaney inhales everything these days with two sports being played right now..). Ellie balked. 
It was a huge hit. 

I should have taken photos, but I was too busy shoveling it into my mouth.
Here's the recipe I altered and made my own...enjoy!

Salmon Florentine (A la Tanya )

  • 2 cups spinach, chopped 
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small minced onion
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 can stewed tomatoes, drained
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 cup part-skim ricotta
  • 4 skinless salmon fillets (6 oz each), rinsed and patted dry (salted and peppered)
Heat oven to 350°. de. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions; cook, stirring, until soft, about 3 minutes. Add garlic; cook 1 minute more. Add spinach, tomatoes, salt, pepper flakes and pepper; cook, stirring, 2 minutes more. Remove from heat; let cool about 15 minutes. Add ricotta; stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Pack  spinach mixture on top of each fillet, matching the shape of the fillet. Place fillets on a rimmed baking sheet or in a glass baking dish; bake until cooked through about 15 minutes. 
Cupcakes I am making for my daughter's Halloween party on Saturday
Halloween Bloodshot Eye Cupcakes

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Whatever: Give me a book shout out

I am in a book lull...
I have read a few fluff books lately and need a good one I can sink my teeth into.

Something high brow, maybe a classic.
This summer I read The Great Gatsby again. The fire was lit.
Now I need something else to follow the funny books I have been Tina Fey (Bossy Pants) and Mindy Kaling ( Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?). Both were really well written, funny, insightful books about and and very funny women.

Book People, send me some ideas.

Library of Congress

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Cooking:'s what's for dinner

Now that my super fun, super busy weekend of three whole days is over...


Back to my great job. The routine of kid shuttle and dinners cooked.

I have to say, my fit on Friday was self imposed misery. No one is expecting a clean house

My husband has  been a trooper and has done most of the grocery shopping lately, which I secretly think he likes. At least he has done the meat part of it

This week's menu is meat centric thanks to him.

Casa Swann Menu of Meat.
  • Crockpot tomato soup with homemade meatballs
  • Salmon with spinach, tomatoes and feta/ crispy sweet potatoes with parmesan
  • Pesto grilled chicken legs/kale quinoa salad/ spicy sweet potatoes
  • Kale white bean soup with pancetta

Monday, October 21, 2013

Dirt: Am I a Martyr or a Mother

Betcha thought I was gone. Off the radar or the reservation. One last sappy blog post about my husband and then...POOF.

Wrong! I have just been really overwhelmed. And I finally had a big fit on Friday. Not big by my historical (or hysterical) standards, but big in the sense of things need to change. 

I have started working almost 40 hours every week.  The work is there and I am trying to make it work so that part of it gets done at home. I have been working 8-3ish at the office. However, my kids schedules involve a pick up every day at 5:30, with the exception of Tuesdays. Then I pick one kid up at 5:30 take her somewhere else and drop her off at 6:15, then head right back to school and pick the second one up at 6:30. Back to pick up again at 8. Yep, we get home pretty much at 6 everyday thanks to traffic.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Gratituesday: Marriage

*Gratituesday was yesterday and I was remiss in posting this on time*

A  couple that we are friends friends with are going through a divorce. 
I cannot say whether it is messy or just a divorce, as I have no experience in these matters other than my parents and I don't remember that.

The sadness that envelopes my heart when I speak to her is really heavy. He is not interested in sharing with us, and that is perfectly fine. I am not exactly comfortable with being in the middle, so to speak. But she is one of my best friends and so I am a listening ear and hopefully a comforting hand.

Steve and I like all couples, go through patches of not communicating well and not listening well. 
We are sometimes ships in the night, passing and leading our own separate lives. I can see how easy it would be to veer off course, away from each other.

Marriage is hard. 

However, we made a pact before we got married that we would work at being married. 
As children of divorce, both of us knew that it would be a hard road. That has been the beacon that has carried us through a lot of stress, arguments, tears and misunderstandings. 
The beacon is our love and our dedication to each other. The reality that we are in it together. We chose this path, hard or easy. That carries us through. 

Right now, I try to be in the moment with him. I love him so much it hurts my heart. He is funny, caring and smoking hot. And he is my partner. 

The forethought to think marriage through before we got to it has been one of the only things we have actually planned in nearly 20 years together. Everything of our pants. 

I like to think it is my most valued possession.
For that I am grateful.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Cooking: Captain Ryman had it right

"Oh my my, oh hey hey..."

We saw three great bands with two great couples last night in one great venue. Actually, THE venue, the church, the home of it all. The Ryman.
I have seen several shows and they bands last night were really good. My favorite being the middle act. 
Amazing what you could miss if you only look for the big flag waving headliners. 

My week is starting with a (tired) BANG! 
Hope yours is off and running as well.

  • BBQ crock pot chicken sandwiches/ zucchini chips/red beans
  • Grilled salmon Greek Salad
  • Chili/ Veggie Chili 
  • Grilled chicken/ tomato soup with grilled veggies

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Dirt: Running is our newest tradition

Steve and I started having a Saturday morning date these past few weeks.
Both of us wanted to start getting a little variety in our exercise routines and wanted a fun way to have a date in our busy schedules of schlepping kids around and work.

We are about the same fitness level right now when it comes to trails, so that is good. Usually Steve kicks my bee-hind in most things athletic. He is a freak when it comes to fitness. There is not much I have not seen him pickup quickly, literally and figuratively. 

We have been hitting the trail so far. We live in a great town which is very close to lots of trail heads within about 20 minutes of our house. Chattanooga has more trails within 30 minutes of downtown than Boulder. Making us the king of trails. So,  no excuses. Steve and I are working our way to much harder trails. 
In the mean time, we park at Ruby Falls and run on the Guild Hardy Trail. 
The dogs, Steve and I all have a great time and it makes our busy weekend just that much easier. 
The trail run also is a great stress reducer in our marriage as well. Life is great after a run.

*This week, I stopped and smelled the roses and took some shots of the amazingness that is Chattanooga.