Archive | February 2011

Better Late Than Never!

It may be a few months delayed, but our “Christmas” amaryllis is finally emerging! I guess my instinct that it may be more like a Valentine’s Day amaryllis wasn’t that far off.




Fancy French Feast

Last weekend was my sister-in-law’s birthday and it has become sort of a habit between the four of us to celebrate birthdays by making a fabulous themed meal. The theme for my sister-in-law’s celebration—French in case you hadn’t guessed—was inspired by the Christmas gift we had received from her and brother-in-law, Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan.

After flipping through the beautiful cookbook we couldn’t wait for an excuse to try some of the recipes. It seemed that a February birthday was the perfect occasion for all of the comfort food options. So we quickly crafted a menu that included onion soup, armagnac chicken and chocolate mousse. And in case those three items didn’t seem like enough of a challenge (well, who am I kidding, my husband handled those three dishes for the most part), I thought it would be fun to make brioche.

It was a good thing I had thoroughly reviewed the recipe in advance because it included an overnight resting period. Friday evening I made the dough and, wow, does the recipe call for a whole lot of butter! After the rising and “slapping it down” phase that occupied the following few hours, the dough was relegated to the fridge until the following day.

Saturday morning was major kitchen day. With my husband carmelizing onions for the soup, I began to prep the rolls for baking. I separated the dough into 12 roll portions, then each portion into three balls. It was neither as difficult nor as time consuming as I had anticipated. Once all the muffin tins were full, it was time to wait again. Another rising period had commenced.

After about an hour had passed and the balls had nearly doubled in the tin, I glazed the rolls with an egg and water mixture and finally put them in the oven. All the while I had been praying that the darn things would actually turn out since they had required so much effort. Thankfully, they came out of the oven looking golden and delicious.

When we bit into them at dinner, I knew they had been worth the effort. They were perfection! The other components of the meal all turned out wonderfully as well and it was a very tasty celebration. The only downside was that we all enjoyed it so much, we didn’t have barely any left overs for the next day. But things could have been much worse.

As a reward for my hard work a few days ago, I am currently eating a brioche roll with raspberry jam and an iced mocha. Honestly, I can’t think of many better ways to start a Monday.

The “Perfect” Day

At the end of the day yesterday, I thought, “Self, this was a perfect day!” I immediately started to wonder why I used the word perfect. And why was I addressing myself in my thoughts? But I digress.

Back to the “perfect” day. My husband didn’t bring me breakfast in bed, nor did we spend our day lounging by the beach or our evening with glasses of wine in front of a beautiful fireplace. In fact, nothing about my reaction to yesterday had to do with my marriage (sorry honey!) and it definitely didn’t have to do with relaxing. Still, after reflecting on things, I am considering it a pretty amazing day—even if it isn’t for any of the reasons people might typically assume.

Business in 2011 has been incredibly busy, which is a great blessing. But because of this I have spent most days racing from one project to another to ensure I get everything done by their respective deadlines. However, yesterday felt like it was the first day in which I not only managed to do everything on my work agenda, but I managed to do it ahead of schedule. In fact, things were going so smoothly, I was even able to get ahead, which I always love. I made a few project calls, wrote two press releases, started and finished a program layout and still had time to wash, fold and put away four loads of laundry, clean the bathroom, wash a few dishes and set the table for the dinner we were hosting.

And it was all done before 5 pm.

That’s where my feelings about the perfectness of the day really come into play. Working from home makes me feel inherently more responsible for taking care of the day to day tasks related to the house, but typically I don’t have the time in my day to do much, if any, cleaning. The fact that yesterday wasn’t just a successful work day, but was also a successful household day made me feel a serious sense of accomplishment.

Now I can honestly say that I am ready for the weekend. And I don’t even have to do any laundry during it!

The 100th Post

As I sit at my desk contemplating what kind of deep insight I can share in my 100th post, I am drawing a blank. I find myself distracted by a plethora of things: the fact that I want to eat lunch (mind you, it’s only 10:30 am), that my husband is home sick, that my living room looks like a postal truck and a newspaper delivery van exploded in it and that I still have a basket of clean—but not folded—laundry in the bedroom that I washed days ago.

But despite all the daily distractions, here I am. It has been 99 posts since I launched The Housewife Challenge on January 25, 2010. In that initial blog I shared some “useful” tips on How to be a Good Housewife. I followed that post up with a look at how I did or (in most cases) did not manage to fulfill my wifely duty based on those guidelines and then posted about whatever struck my fancy—projects, amazing coupon savings, snowmageddon, house guests.

In the past year I have seen my business grow, which has been amazing, but kept me from blogging as much as I wanted to. I have traveled with my husband to Hawaii, California, France and Jordan. I have also done approximately 96 loads of laundry, been the primary gardener for our plot at the community garden and cooked dinner all by myself at least seven times.The past 365 days have really been something!

Now that 2011 is in full swing I hope I can continue to write about my household (mis)adventures in a way that readers will find engaging. Here’s to another 100 posts!

Baking Queen — and King

One thing I love about the winter months (and it certainly isn’t the weather), is that the chilly temps are very conducive to baking. Not only does baking produce tasty treats, but it helps warm up the house and anything that helps heat up the house is fine by me. I also can’t complain about eating cookies while standing in front of a warm oven. It’s pretty awesome.

This month I have had a few baking adventures which have all turned out pretty well. These included the old-fashioned cream pie (I’ll be honest, this one left a little something to be desired), the snow day applesauce coffee cake I posted about last week, some oatmeal raisin spice cookies and blueberry muffins. Yesterday, thanks to icy conditions, my husband worked from home. Being at home provided him the opportunity to make two loaves of fresh bread that went marvelously with the split pea soup he whipped up from scratch. We are both getting into the baking spirit!

But since the groundhog did not see his sweet little shadow this morning, spring is coming early this year (bless you, Punxsutawney Phil). That’s right, I am choosing to believe that groundhogs can forecast the weather. Don’t judge me. However, the early spring means I need to start baking more so I can get it out of my system before the warm weather makes it less than desirable to have the oven on.

What’s next on my sweet treat agenda? I am thinking molasses bars, if only I had the time to actually make them!