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.