Currently…March

In March…which started out like a lion in full winter weather and as the month closes it seems as though the lions are closer at hand than the lambs…in the midst of winter’s last grasps at the season the return of the “extra hour” of daylight was a welcome thing…from the radio silence here on the blog, I think it’s an understatement to say it was a busy month for me…and looking at my phone photo albums, not much was captured…this might have been more of a survival month…in the midst of it all, these are some of the things that filled my March days…

1st day of spring snow…

Reading…I finished up The Giver Quartet and thoroughly enjoyed the whole series of stories in it – now for a virtual book club with Miss Butterfly to discuss…Vacation was a quick read for business trip airplane flights…I finished listening to The Code of the Woosters by PG Wodehouse – a fun story that is the basis for the Jeeves & Wooster play I saw this time last year whilst in London…in the midst of listening to One Summer: America 1927 by Bill Bryson…I’ve started reading Station Eleven and enjoying it so far…

Watching…the month started with my TV suddenly giving up the ghost so for a couple of weeks I just used my Fios app on the iPad to watch TV – the TV has since been replaced…I’ve been watching some March Madness but of course it’s not nearly as engaging as Mercer in it last year…Laughed through “The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” on Netflix…whilst catching up on the new season of Broadchurch on BBC America, the ad for Orphan Black caught my eye…so, catching up on the previous seasons of it before the new season starts…happy for the return of Mr. Selfridge…

Crafting…not too much, these days…a bit of knitting is happening but not too much…seeing all the buzz about “The Secret Garden” coloring book, it is time to pull out my copy that I picked up at the British National Gallery last May and do some coloring…

Remembering…fond memories of my Aunt Clara Pearl…I’m so thankful that I was able to surprise her with a visit as I drove from IL to PA when I moved east in 2012…while life interfered with being able to gather with family in Ohio, I was thrilled that the local florist was able to include sunflowers in the flowers for Aunt Clara Pearl’s “Kansas sunflower nieces”…

Cooking…Corned Beef & all the veggies for St. Patrick’s Day…Split Pea Soup with the broth later in the week…glad for the return of roasted asparagus season…

Sipping…thoroughly enjoying the Blueberry Cobbler coffee with a teaspoon of cinnamon in with it in the French press – it brings out the sweetness of the coffee with no added sweet…without even really trying, this is month that I switched to drinking my iced coffee black – I’ve never been one to sweeten it but it would frequently be on the pale side of the coffee colored spectrum…Mandarin Orange green tea is the current iced tea in my fridge at all times…

Traveling…a few days over to Princeton for some training…a short trip down to my project in south Florida…

Saturday morning cultivation time…

Cultivating…a Friday lunch routine with work friends – a perfect opportunity to catch up on life & other insanity…taking a new position in my company and developing new relationships to support that work…revisiting The Fringe Hours on a Saturday morning to continue focusing on me…

Looking Ahead…Easter dinner with friends…the return of baseball…

Linking up with Leigh Kramer for the monthly “What I’m Into” round-up. What are you into these days?

Currently…February

Snow sparkling in the sun

Snow sparkling in the sun

In February…the calendar says this is always the shortest month…somehow it always seems among the longest months…this year, it was a very busy month with several big work projects…and in the midst of the depths of winter weather, the daylight hours are increasing – a harbinger of spring somewhere on the horizon…these are some of the things that filled my February days…

A Saturday morning read...

A Saturday morning read…

Reading…not nearly as much as I had hoped…continuing to work through The Giver Quartet…the first Saturday of the month, I settled in after a week of traveling and lost myself in the story of Lizzy and Jane – a delightful read on so many levels…after thoroughly enjoying my Advent read, I’m starting a new Lent tradition with evening readings from Bread and Wine: Readings for Easter and Lent

Watching (on the small screen)…thoroughly enjoying Mr. Selfridge on Amazon Prime…viewing most of my shows via DVR playback to “recapture” commercial time…

Watching (on the big screen)…McFarland USA was a great “feel good” flick to enjoy with the family…

Happy Hearts!

Happy Hearts!

Crafting…my box of crayons plus some simple embossed notecards from Etsy made for easy Valentines to wish “happy hearts” to dear ones…

Browsing50 pieces of creative adviceturning snow & cold weather into a rainbow igloorethinking the word “busy” to describe lifea delightful celebration of knitting & grandmas

A definite citrus theme to a Sunday afternoon in the kitchen...

A definite citrus theme to a Sunday afternoon in the kitchen…

Cooking…my Baked Savory Oatmeal was perfect for a stretch of cold mornings…I was on a citrus kick with cooking – roasted broccoli & clementines (twice) – citrus roasted chicken with sweet potatoes & pears (twice) – citrus salad…chocolate chili & my carrot-coconut soup were also in rotation – with the travel, I’m glad to have meals waiting for me in the fridge when I get home…

Civic Duty on a Monday

Civic Duty on a Monday

Serving…on an icy Monday, I had to appear at the county courthouse for jury duty…a morning of waiting & then an afternoon on a panel in the courtroom…and at 4:20 that afternoon learning that I was not selected to serve on the jury for the case at hand…I’m glad to have my civic duty fulfilled for at least the next 3 years…

A Sunday stroll along the beach

A Sunday stroll along the beach

Traveling…2 weeks of the month were spent with my project in FL…on the first of these trips, when I arrived on a Sunday afternoon, I immediately headed to Deerfield Beach to a favorite “hole in the wall” restaurant for some fresh & tasty seafood & some time along the beach…on the second of these trips, I am enjoying a detour home to the ‘Ville for a weekend with the family before heading back to PA…

A blooming Valentine's Day

A blooming Valentine’s Day

Cultivating…as I focus on my word this year…reading The Fringe Hours and using the prompts within the book as a catalyst for cultivating some of my time…also, cultivating my Christmas amaryllis into full bloom on Valentine’s Day (thankfully the blooms opened while I was home)…

Looking Ahead….more trips to FL for work…the return of “longer days” as we spring forward…

Linking up with Leigh Kramer for the monthly “What I’m Into” round-up. What are you into these days? Was February a “long” month for you, too?

Baked Oatmeal: The Savory Edition

Apples & Bacon & Cheddar & Oatmeal…Oh, My!

When the family was here for Thanksgiving 2013, I made my first foray into Baked Oatmeal and have been hooked ever since. I stumbled upon this recipe on Pinterest and since I had fresh cranberries from the farm I had visited, it seemed like a great one to try. The recipe isn’t too fussy & since that first pan of it, I have made it numerous times – the fruit would vary based on what I had on hand – cranberries, apples, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, pears…all have been folded into the mixture.

Recently I have been thinking about savory oatmeal and even looked at recipes online – but nothing jumped out as “must try this.” I kept thinking of my go to baked oatmeal & wondered how to make it savory. Last weekend I mentioned my initial thoughts to Mom & we talked through some recipe modifications.

Last night, I gave it a go. I stirred up a pan of the oatmeal & popped it in the fridge for the overnight. This morning, I pulled the pan out of the fridge and popped it in the oven. I could hardly wait for the timer to ding and see if my “experiment” had worked. In a word, Yes! As I shared with others: Apples + Bacon + Cheddar = Delicious!

Savory Baked Oatmeal
1 1/2 c applesauce (unsweetened)
2 eggs
1/4 c maple syrup
3/4 t baking powder
1/4 t cinnamon
1 c milk (I used coconut)
2 c rolled oats (old fashioned)
1 apple (cored, peeled, chopped)
3/4 c bacon (chopped/crumbled crispy cooked)
1/2 c shredded cheese (I used sharp cheddar)

  1. Preheat oven to 375 & grease 8×8 baking dish
  2. Whisk together applesauce, eggs, maple syrup, baking powder, cinnamon
  3. Whisk milk into wet mixture
  4. Fold oats, bacon, apple & cheese into mixture
  5. Pour into baking dish & bake 40-45 minutes (until golden brown)

(Note: can be mixed assembled the night before, pull from refrigerator while preheating the oven in the morning)

With the “full on” winter weather this weekend looking ahead into this coming week, this warm and hearty breakfast is a good thing to get my day going and the “stick to your ribs” staying power to keep me going through my mornings of back-to-back-to-back conference calls.

When I was little, a favorite oatmeal was a packet of the instant brown sugar flavored oatmeal at Grandmas house on the weekend while watching Transformers cartoons. While I still like that flavor (& a packet today takes me back decades), since then I have enjoyed so many different iterations of oatmeal – from the stovetop…to the crockpot…to the baked versions. What are your favorite ways to eat oatmeal?

Currently…January…

In January…new calendars are opened & begin to fill…winter tries to make a statement (which is muted compared to last January)…slowly, the days are getting longer…these are some of the things that filled my January days…

Keeping warm in a fun British Soldiers scarf from my sister

Keeping warm in a fun British Soldiers scarf from my sister

Readingmaking progress on the stack from under the Christmas tree…loading “The Giver Quartet” on my Kindle for travel reading – my 11 year old goddaughter is eager for me to finish reading it so we can discuss it…

Watching…I’ve “finally” jumped into Downton Abbey – I *might* have watched seasons 1 & 2 one weekend and now am caught up to the current season…enjoying the Agent Carter mini-series…got a good laugh out of the NKOTB themed episode of The Goldbergs…

Listening…searching out more podcasts since I finished Serial…thoroughly enjoying Invisibalia…Start Up…Reply All…

To be blogged...a simple scarf knit...finished

To be blogged…a simple scarf knit…finished

Crafting…a simple scarf was my Christmas knitting while home in the ‘Ville & I finished it up during Downton Abbey…taking stock of the stash & determining what to keep & what needs to find a home with others that will put it to better use…yarn & needles in a project bag in my backpack for work travel (shh…gift knitting in progress)…

Browsing…a history of some New Year’s day food traditions…a great fundraiser for a Green Bay Shelter – cheesy scarves…another installment of It’s Aaron – this time connecting with kids who lost parents to combat…on smartphones and the case for boredom…how open office concepts aren’t helping…Packers playing games

A second batch of soup was perfect for snowy days!

A second batch of soup was perfect for snowy days!

Cooking…yummy Carrot-Coconut Soup, twice!…Mom’s marinated black eyed pea salad to start the new year…a box of holiday pears from Harry & David was put to use in a Cranberry/Pear Baked Oatmeal as well as modifying this recipe to with a pork tenderloin instead of chicken…Chocolate Chili in the crockpot twice during the month…trying out breakfast quinoa in the crockpot (need to tweak it just a bit)…

Oh my darling...finally finding great clementines for cheerful snacking

Oh my darling…finally finding great clementines for cheerful snacking

Sipping…Really enjoying the coconut macaroon coffee from Target  – with a splash coconut milk (or frothed coconut milk)…this White Vanilla Grapefruit tea is a refreshing iced tea and is helping me increase my daily water intake…

Fizzing…making Airborne a part of my daily routine to ward of the winter colds and crud that are going around…maybe its all in my head but it seems to help keep me well…

Scenes from a busy & exciting first week on a new project...in Florida...

Scenes from a busy & exciting first week on a new project…in Florida…

Traveling…a project at work meant a week in South Florida – in the midst of some very busy days, the dining al fresco for 3 evenings was so delightful (& I can’t complain about FL travel in the winter)

Cultivating…as I focus on my word this year…focusing on some opportunities at work…keeping consistent in daily quiet time…charging up the FitBit again to keep moving towards better health…

Loving my Mary Englebreit page-a-day calendar on my desk at work!

Loving my Mary Englebreit page-a-day calendar on my desk at work!

Looking Ahead….more business trips to South Florida…wondering if the jury duty summons will get called…more cultivating steps to take…

Linking up with Leigh Kramer for the monthly “What I’m Into” round-up. What are you into these days? How are you passing the winter days?  

Simply Soup: The Carrot Edition

Earlier this month, as I was cleaning out my fridge I found a bag of carrots hiding out in the back and decided that they needed to be used up. My first thought was soup – followed quickly by the thought of using coconut milk in it. So, I searched for a recipe and found one that included ingredients in my kitchen: Carrot-Coconut Soup from Bon Appetit.

Carrot Soup

Carrot Soup

I pretty much followed the recipe as written. My main differences were using coconut oil instead of butter and the types of salt & pepper I used. In the soup, I used a lemon sea salt flake and my favorite Trader Joe’s Lemon Pepper grinder. As I “plated” the soup & drizzled a bit of the Thai sweet chili sauce in it, I also sprinkled flakes of a homemade chili lime salt on top.

That first bag of carrots included three colors: orange, yellow & purple. As the soup was simmering on the stove, I thought for sure I was going to end up with a purple soup. Thankfully, the whirl of the immersion blender balanced out the colors to something closer to refried beans.

This soup…wow! A tasty and tangy combination of flavors that is so, so good. That hint of the Thai sweet chili sauce is the perfect “extra” in this recipe. I thoroughly enjoyed this and have decided that this will be a “always on hand” recipe. In addition to being a great soup “as is” I also see opportunities to use it in different ways – ladle over brown rice & some cooked shrimp for a heartier meal; throw some veggies in the bowl to bulk it up and more. With business travel back in the schedule, it’s nice to know that I can count on having a simple and tasty homemade meal in short order after eating out ALL the time while on the road.

What soups are simmering in your kitchen these days?