Good Home Stuff – ultimately it’s about the stuff of life – the love we experience, the joy we feel, the fun we have. But, perhaps unlike many families, we spend the majority of our time literally in our home.
Whereas many families commute to work and to school, returning home late afternoon or evening, we work from home and home-school. We eat most of our meals at home.
This is not to say we never leave our house, because we do. We would go nuts if we didn’t! We engage in community events, sporting events, and other extra-house activities. We travel. In short, we do get out.
But, we do spend a huge amount of time in our home – more than most – so the stuff we have in it makes a huge difference in how we live our lives.
Here are some of our more recent blogs. ENJOY!
A powdery snowstorm rolled through, and created scenes from a Norman Rockwell or H.D. Van painting. It was stunning!
Despite the beauty, the children started off in a less-than-stellar mood. Trying on ski rental equipment can be frustrating, and given the lesson was at Noon, I am sure blood-sugar levels were low. However, once the kids paired with their instructor and got to it, those frowns turned upside down, and the smiles lit up the day!
Richard worked with our son, who 2 years ago was skiing Blues, but had forgotten almost all his skills not having been out at all the past year.
His skills came back a little bit – not to former glory, but still, enough to start getting some enjoyment out of it.
Next up, our daughter with instructor Bob. She was totally folded arms and pouting lips and “I’m not going, I’m not going”, but Bob had a brilliant way, and before we knew it she was smiling and happy. Hey Bob, care to come move in with us?!
Look at that little girl go! Alright! This drill was one ski on, one ski off, but it sure did the trick!
By the way, ever heard of a Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court? Well, I am not sure exactly what the turn of phrase is in this case, but even this Momma-Bear from the South had to smile as she enjoyed this other-world Northern environment. A world totally different than what we are used to – how cool!
One last picture to leave you with – I call it “Falling Softly” which is just how the total vibe struck me! Yes, we look forward to warmer days, but in my heart I will always love this day, and will always look forward to the next time we can enjoy Winter in this fashion!
Bird in flight, braving the weather -
And boats moored at this, the edge of the New World -
Stark but beautiful…
We love the movie. You know, the one with Steve Carrell and Tina Fey called “Date Night”. In less dramatic fashion, we decided to reintroduce Date Night into our lives. But, we took Steve’s line to heart when he said, “If we are going to pay this much for crab it better sing and dance and introduce us to the Little Mermaid!”
We want our date to be nice, but we want it to be affordable and convenient in addition to fun and romantic.
From a scheduling perspective, we have time during the week while the kids are practicing gymnastics at night. And, while we enjoy eating out, really, nothing beats a nice relaxing meal at home – comfortable, the right-sized portions, and no tipping! We really enjoy cooking together – it gives us time to joke and relax. Good stuff!
But, it gets hard to think up new ideas, and this week time is a factor, so we need something fast, easy, and hopefully delicious! A colleague at #CollectiveBias recommended we try Campbell’s Skillet Sauces. In fact, as a member of the Collective Bias® Social Fabric® Community, I am compensated for this content as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias® and Campbell’s. #cbias #SocialFabric” (NOTE: I may be paid for this, but the opinions expressed are totally mine and unbiased!).
So, I will give one of these sauces a shot. But, which one? Not knowing what these Skillet Sauces are and what they pair with, there are a few steps I need to take in prepping for this meal:
1. Research Campbell’s Skillet Sauces, and pick one or two
3. Put together a dinner menu, and derive ingredients and a shopping list
4. “Shop” our pantry and freezer (we really like it when we can eat down food we already have)
5. Go get the rest from the store
Searching the web 2.0 style (involving social media) I find info on Twitter, Facebook, and of course, on Campbell’s site. I go the site first to learn about the product selection, and see there are six choices – Creamy Chipotle, Fire Roasted Tomato, Thai Green Curry, Toasted Sesame, Marsala, and Scampi.
I like these selections – easy to come up with a protein, and a nice array of flavors. Given it is sort of cold and wet outside, and we just had Asian for dinner, I am learning more to comfort foods, and am thinking Marsala, but might go with Scampi. It all depends on what we have in our freezer.
I go to Twitter to see what the crowd thinks about my selections, but I don’t find it helpful (although I do find links to coupons – I question whether they are reputable sites, so I shy away). Beyond that, it is sort of hard to gather what the crowd is liking, not liking.
Best to move on now to Facebook which in this case has nice presentation, coupons, recipes, and testimonials. There are in store coupons as well but my store did not have any when I shopped.
Based on my scan of the comments, I lean away from the Marsala and towards either the Fire Roasted Tomato or the Scampi. Problem with the Scampi is the color looks a little “cold”. Given we have sirloin strip steak in the freezer, I decide to go with the Fire Roasted Tomato with Steak, and because it is steak, a potato side.
Here are the ingredients for the main dish: 1lb of sirloin steak, 1 package of Campbell’s Fire Roasted Tomato Skillet Sauce and that’s it! It just could not get any easier. So, of course, I had to make it a little more difficult with Parmesan-coated potatoes.
Off to Shaw’s to get the products I need. I have not been to this Shaw’s in Warwick, RI before, but it is amazingly well-kept and clean. That said, I had trouble finding the Campbell’s Skillet Sauces. I went up and down the aisles, but could not find it. Finally, I noticed a stand-alone cap next to a middle-aisle freezer in the meat section (?), and saw the sauces on the lower shelving. Even the Shaw’s Associates did not know where they were. I doubt Campbell’s is doing themselves any favors with this sort of placement, but o.k., I found it at any rate.
In addition to the Fire Roasted pack, I decide to buy the Scampi and Marsala for use at a later date. So, I hurry home and pull together all the ingredients.
First, I have to prep the potatoes. I slice them into eights lengthwise, put some olive oil, salt, pepper, red pepper in a Ziplock bag along with the potato slices, coat them well, then place them on a baking tray and apply grated Parmesan cheese liberally to the slices. Heat the oven to 375 deg, and bake them for 1 hr 20 min.
At about 15 minutes before the potatoes are ready, I heat up the pan with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, slice the steak, and start browning it. Once the steak is browned nicely on all sides, I add the sauce, let it come to a boil, and then reduce the heat to simmer.
It all comes together very nicely, and so I plate the various components, and dinner is served!
So, besides the fact that this meal just tasted awesome, I have to admit the real reason I did it -
All in all, we very much enjoyed this meal. If not for the potatoes, it would have been a very fast cook, and because the portions were perfect for two, and the taste is really, really nice, it makes a perfect main dish for a date night when we are just very busy otherwise.
If you’d like to see a pictorial of my shopping and cooking experience, please visit my Google+ album here. Or, to see how others did it, check out #dinnerin15
Conditions were not great – it was too warm, and by mid-afternoon the snow was soft, sort of slushy. Still, to borrow an expression from the game of golf, a day on the mountain beats a day in the office, eh?
In the moment, it was, well, it was not epic like A-Basin, CO. I have to go with spiritually uplifting. I can tell you I was singing along to Kiss at the top of lungs on the way back home afterwards, and just totally chilled out and feeling good.
I wish the family could have been there – I really enjoy seeing my son ski. The girls are not too crazy about it, but they enjoy the hot chocolate!
First ski of the season, and even though I am in shape, I guess I am not in ski shape. I felt it, just a little, but I felt it.
Here is a video from the lift. I may look like heck, but I felt totally there!
Tuesday, Jan 8
I had a good week last week, and so I knew to brace myself coming into this week. I am just not that lucky that I can expect two back-to-back good weeks.
And, so far, this week has not disappointed.
Investor meetings scheduled for next week have suddenly been pushed up 7 days. Software changes which were working, no longer do AND now the key developers are sick. Really?!
And that was just Monday. Tuesday, I don’t want even want to get into it.
It’s days like this when I know I need little perspective, a little time to step back and look at my life around me. Some me time.
As if on cue, my wife comes home. She looks me in the eye. “Here”, she says handing a package to me. “You need this”. Then with a peck on my cheek she turns her attention to the children.
I look at the package – it’s a care package. “Where did you get this,” I ask?
“I saw it at the Wal-Mart in Jewett City, CT. The Delicious Pairings display,” she says. “I knew these would be there, but I could not find them at first. The Wal-Mart staff was very helpful, though, and took me to the display.”
I look at the package again. Perfect, I think. She knows I am a big fan of Starbucks, especially when I travel.
The Starbuck’s logo beckons with the promise of a bright day, and the cheesecake brownies are deep and rich in color. Truly inviting.
Wed Jan 9
Up early, drive to Boston for the meeting. Return home, and immediately get onto the first of two consecutive teleconferences. Urghhh! And, then, 2pm rolls around, and I smile, time for My #DeliciousPairings!
The Verona coffee brews dark and rich. The aroma fills the kitchen – is that a hint of cocoa? Ahhh….
I add a little heavy whipping cream (yes, you heard me – real cream, heavy whipping cream) to the coffee. This is a dark blend, and I can tell it needs to be mellowed just a tad for my taste. I take one of the cheesecake brownies out of the package. Heavy in the hand, I know this is going to hit the spot.
I sit down with the coffee and brownie, look out over our snow-covered back yard, and take my first sip.
The hot coffee is sharp on my pallete, bold & roasty, with a slight acidity and coffee bitterness that is wonderfully balanced by the sweetness of the chocolate and the more neutral cream cheese.
A smile comes to my face – yes, this is a perfect blend of flavors. Sip, bite, enjoy – and do it again!
Full Disclosure: My wife and I are members of the Collective Bias® Social Fabric® Community. This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias™,#cbias #SocialFabric, but I gotta tell you, these opinions are all my own!