Beauty buy of the week


I didn’t want to pay $23 for my usual eye makeup remover, Clinique’s Take the Day Off. So, crouched in the cosmetics section of Giant Eagle, I consulted beautypedia through my iPhone to see what Paula had to say on the subject. Based on her recommendations, I am trying Clean Artiste eye makeup remover by L’Oreal. It has all the same qualities I like about Clinique’s version: this stuff takes all your eye makeup off without a lot of tugging (even waterproof eye makeup) and it doesn’t sting or dry out your delicate eye skin. And it’s only $6!


Magnus opened his account

No, not a bank account.

In Europe, when a soccer player scores his first goal, they say he ‘opened his account.’ Magnus started playing Happy Feet soccer two weeks ago. Yesterday, at his second game of the season, he opened his account. Grandpa Jon and Uncle Taylor were there to see it. The sidelines erupted with applause — even the other families cheered. I was verklempt to say the least.

His team lost — the final score was something like 2 gazillion to 1. What a game!

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Hey jealousy

Private ice skating and gymnastics classes for the kids. Finishing the basement. Weekly cleaning lady. Monthly massages. Redoing the kitchen. New living room furniture. Family vacations 3 times a year.

I just don’t get it.

How do people seemingly in the same station as life as us AFFORD this lifestyle? Do other people look around and wonder the same thing?

Butternut squash soup


I woke up on Saturday morning with the urge. The urge to make soup. Butternut squash soup, to be specific. From scratch.

The recipe I like is from miss Gwynnie, Gwyneth Paltrow, from her cookbook My Father’s Daughter. It’s like fall in a bowl. So aromatic from a dash of potent garam masala. So velvety, it’s hard to believe there’s no cream in it.

There are so few ingredients in this soup that I always go the extra mile of making the vegetable stock from scratch too. It’s pretty easy. The key is the fresh tarragon.

The whole production is a labor of love (peeling a butternut squash = not fun). The sad part is, I’m the only one in the family who eats it.


Vegetable Stock

  • 1 large yellow onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, roughly chopped
  • 1 large leek, roughly chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and whacked with the back of a knife
  • 4 sprigs fresh parsley
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 sprigs fresh tarragon
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 3 quarts (12 cups) cold water

Combine everything in a big pot. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for 45 minutes. Let it cool and strain into a clean container (don’t be an idiot and pour the stock through the colander and down the drain like I almost did).

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Butternut Squash Soup

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 large yellow onions, peeled and roughly chopped (about 3 cups)
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala or other curry powder
  • 1 large butternut squash, peeled, seeded and diced (about 6 cups of 1/2-inch pieces)
  • 2 pints (4 cups) vegetable stock, warmed

Heat the olive oil and butter in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté for about 10 minutes, or until beginning to soften. Add the salt, pepper and garam masala and cook for another 2 minutes. Add the squash and cook for another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Pour the stock into the pot – if it doesn’t cover the squash, add some boiling water. Bring to a boil, lower to a simmer, and cook until the squash is very tender, about 20 minutes.

Let it cool for at least 15 minutes and then puree it in batches in a blender (or use a hand-blender, like I do: best thing ever). Season with salt and serve. Unlike other soups, this one doesn’t need to sit for hours or overnight to develop. It’s very good right off the bat. You could probably garnish it with pepitas or croutons. I like it plain.

Special thanks to my husband for dismantling and clearing out the pipe under the sink leading from the garbage disposal, which may have been choked by butternut squash peels.

Delaware County Fair


We went to the Delaware County Fair last night after work & school. It was a beautiful early fall night, and fun to go in the evening. And on a school night to boot! We do enjoy a good county fair. The kids love the animals and rides; we love the food (hello funnel cake), country atmosphere (a live auction!) and general nostalgia. And as the sun sets, it gets a little carnival-spooky.

I had to laugh – Greta took pictures of every animal she saw. Where does she get this obsessive behavior??!!??

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My kids are on that flyaway bus!

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Green chile chicken

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I’m always looking for easy and simple ways to cook chicken breasts.

I made this one, from Pioneer Woman, last night. It came together quickly and Barrak and I both liked it.

In a food processor, blend olive oil, a couple cloves of garlic, a couple chipotle peppers, lime juice, cumin, salt and pepper. Marinate your chicken breasts in the resulting orange-colored mixture for 30 minutes to 4 hours (I only did 30 and it was great).

While they’re marinating, do the peppers. By that I mean, broil them for about 10 minutes until the skin is blistered, bag ’em in a Ziploc to make the skin easy to peel off, then peel, seed and slice.

Grill the chicken breasts on an indoor grill pan (or outside if you prefer) for about 4 minutes on one side. Then flip, top with a slice of roasted pepper and a slice or pile of shredded Monterey Jack cheese and cover with a skillet for another 4 minutes so the chicken cooks through and the cheese melts.

Yum! I’ll make these again. We had them again for lunch today.

Click here for the full recipe.



Cinnamon toast

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I recently saw the Pioneer Woman make cinnamon toast ‘the right way.’ Instead of toasting bread, then spreading it with butter and sprinkling it with cinnamon and sugar, she has you mix soft butter with sugar, cinnamon and a little vanilla, spread it on bread (we used multi-grain) then put it in the oven.

Being the toast connoisseur that I am, I gave it a try. PW is right – the butter DOES sink in and the toast gets kind of caramelized.

Click here for the recipe.