Category Archives: Uncategorized

How to Throw a Unicorn Rainbow Sleepover Birthday with out going insane!

I blame Pinterest.

When I sat down with E around January 15th to start planning her birthday I foolishly said, “Let’s check out Pinterest!”  Full of enthusiasm and dreams of an awesome birthday party in which Mummy doesn’t go crazy.  Something awesome, easily achieved and low key.  We scrolled and scrolled and scrolled through a bajillion gazillion pictures of all things unicorn and rainbow.

We stumbled upon a lovely party from the folks over at Jonesing to Create.  We started having Parry Gripp music fests every morning before school.  And we have a new about-to-get-on-the-bus, off to swim lessons, grocery store, fight dragons etc, catch phrase: “Smiles and Hugs Forever!”  Of course the downside being the earwigs from…you know, the bad place you can’t even be upset about because it comes with rainbows and unicorns and breakfast burritos and a palindrome enabled feline.

Continue reading How to Throw a Unicorn Rainbow Sleepover Birthday with out going insane!

Flyin’ solo

So Jill went out of town this week with the girls, so it was just me.  So I will shoulder the heavy burden (not really) of writing this week’s post.  So here goes…

I decided that since it was just me, I could try to accomplish some tasks around the house; some of those things that are easier to do when you don’t have to worry about needing to go another direction as much.  So here is my (overly ambitious) list:

  • Finish the second garden box (done!)
  • Dig the bed for the squash (done and planted!)
  • Paint the basement stairs landing wall with blackboard paint (done!)
  • Tidy up my workshop (not done. 😦 )
  • Start re-finishing an end table (not even started)

You may have noticed that the top two items are “plant” items.  So I have completed building the second garden box (it has yet to be painted).  Disappointingly, our HOA introduced a wrinkle in the whole garden process.  Evidently, they don’t like vegetable gardens near the front of the house.  I think it’s just because they haven’t seen a pretty vegetable garden before.  Either way, we might have to move them somewhere else (down the hill maybe).  Poo.

I also dug the squash bed (about 6″ deep), and filled it with Dirt(tm).  It’s on a slope, so I put rocks on the uphill side to try to divert water around so it doesn’t flood the bed.  That worked.  Mostly.
The next day we got some torrential downpour; not what I had counted on.  It washed a bit of the dirt out of my nice new hole, but not all of it.  So I still count that as success.  Today (Sunday) I soaked and planted the zucchini and summer squash seeds, so we’ll see how they do (crosses fingers).

On the “plate” side, Jill (bless her heart) gave me a couple of menu items to cook.  One was a cottage pie (like shepherd’s pie, but with beef instead of lamb).  The other was a Thai chicken curry.  Nothing horribly complicated.  Here are the basic recipes:

Cottage Pie

1 Swede, peeled and cubed (sue me for using the British term)
Some carrots, chopped
Some celery, chopped
An onion (maybe two if you like), also chopped (see the pattern here?)
Some ground beef (I used a pound)
Some potatoes to make some mash

Brown the beef.  Set aside.  Sweat the vegetables.  Add the beef back into the pan, and stir in about 3 Tbsp of flour.  Add a little red wine real quick to deglaze.  When the wine has cooked down a bit, add about 750 ml of stock (beef, chicken, meat, etc).  Cook about 45 minutes to thicken the gravy.

While the gravy is cooking, peel and boil some ‘taters (precious).  Mash them down with a bit of milk, butter, and some cheddar cheese (Gromit!).

Put the beef mixture in a casserole, scoop the mash on top, and stick it in the oven for about 10-20 minutes-ish to brown the taters.  The broiler may help with this, but watch it like a hawk.  Serve and enjoy!


Now onto the chicken curry.

Curry paste (I used Thai Red that I got in Bangkok)
Some bell peppers (I used three)
Some onion (I used one)
Bamboo shoots (optional; I used two cans)
Chicken (I used two breast halves, cubed into small-ish pieces)
Coconut milk (full fat)
Rice (Jasmine is a good choice)

Put the curry paste in a big pan and fry for just a moment.  Add the chicken and frizzle (technical term: fry) that up.  Add the peppers and onion, and continue frizzling.  When the veg are translucent/are cooked down a little, toss in the coconut milk and bamboo shoots.  Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes (ish).  The goal is not to cook out/thicken the liquid.  Thai curries tend to be pretty liquidy.

Uncover and spoon off some of the excess coconut fat.  It tastes good, but if you don’t the mouthfeel will be kinda greasy (not as good eats).  Simmer a little more if you like (I did about five/ten minutes, I think)

Serve over the jasmine rice.  If you don’t like Thai hot stuff, have a glass of milk handy.  If you do like Thai hot stuff, go to town.  It’s tasty.


The final recipe (served to the girls when they got home today) was chicken, ham & leek pie:

Some chicken (2 breast halves again, small cubes)
Some ham (small bits)
2 leeks (cleaned & chopped)
Puff pastry (I made a rough puff, but store puff would be better)
One egg, beaten for eggwash

Brown the chicken & ham; set aside.  Sweat the leeks down (don’t brown them).  At this point, you can put the whole mess in the fridge if you made these ahead of time

For the sauce:
Roux (2 Tbsp butter melted, stir in 2Tbsp flour)
1 cup milk
Spoonful of chicken goo (Better than Bullion)

Add chicken goo to milk, then add to hot roux.  Whisk while the milk comes up to a boil.  Make sure that the milk doesn’t stick on the pot (it will try), as it will burn.  Not good eats.  Let it boil gently for about 30 seconds (keep stirring), take it off the heat.

Preheat oven to 400.  Put the chicken&ham&leek mixture in a casserole (or enamelware rectangular pie tin 🙂 ).  Pour the sauce over the mixture, and cover with the puff.  Brush on the eggwash, and toss in the oven.  Cook about 20-30 minutes, or until golden brown & delicious.  Remove from oven, and let stand about 10-15 minutes to cool & set (It will be pretty toasty right out of the oven.  Once again, serve & enjoy!

Happy Pi Day!

We’re a family of math geeks so Pi Day is sort of a big deal around here.  When we were in England going to Pudding Face the Pie Place at the Crown and Tuns Pub in Deddington was a ritual on this day.  And normally I’d take this opportunity to serve a lovely “proper” pie for dinner as well (mmm…chicken ham and leek or sweet chili beef) but it’s also Taco Tuesday.  At least were having Greek tacos in honor of the pi symbol.  And there will be a paleo lemon curd pie for dessert as well!

Anyway, the virtues of pie for breakfast are many.  It’s mostly fruit.  Yes, there’s sugar, and pastry, but it’s practically a holiday so exceptions can be made.  This is particularly lovely with a mug of hot berry tea and a dollop of Greek yogurt on the side.

For everyone up North getting walloped with snow this morning, skip the rhubarb (’cause you probably don’t have that just laying around) and instead use 6 cups of thawed frozen strawberries or fresh strawberries.  If you’re using frozen strawberries drain the juice and add it to your pot hot tea (with a wee dram of something warming if you like).  Also increase the cornstarch to 3 tbsp.  Then crank that oven up, get baking and stay warm!

Sorry I’m only able to share π/2 with you.  We ate the π before I could get a picture of it. :-/

Continue reading Happy Pi Day!

What’s For Dinner? Mar 12 – 19

This is an exciting week.  Two of my favorite not-quite-holidays fall in this week!  Pi Day March 14 and St. Patrick’s Day on March 17.  And some how, with out really trying we managed to plan out a very international menu for the week.  I only realized this as I was walking through Kroger to get all my ingredients.  As usual spending quite a bit of time in the produce section!

You may also notice the extra and overlapping day – today.  Normally I shoot for a Monday – Sunday schedule, but this chili verde with chicken or white chicken chili or chicken tortilla soup that’s been on my mind for two weeks now just did not want to be made on the day I had planned.  For two weeks!  I guess because I didn’t really have a good recipe and slacked off cooking by the weekends when the meal was planned.  Well I rallied today.  In a big way!  I even did the grocery shopping a day early because I needed ingredients.  And in all my searching I came across a (hopefully) wonderful recipe for Green Chili with Chicken. Continue reading What’s For Dinner? Mar 12 – 19


Yesterday was Yoga Day (or Yogurt Day as Kevin likes to say) and so Kevin was in charge of dinner preparations.  I love love LOVE a man who can cook.  And my man, he cooks!

It was very nice to come home from yoga and sit down to a lovely steamy bowl of Chicken Pho.  Buuuut I have a few critiques – not complaints.  I would never complain about someone else cooking me dinner – and he even helped with clean up.  I LOVE that man! Continue reading Pho-Pas