Project: Paint a Room

We have always painted and spruced our rooms up when needed. We save BIG money by not hiring a painter, and we can spend money on more desirable things, like concert tickets to Fleetwood Mac.  More dollars for the several bottles of wine I will be drinking after this project.  And for the chiropractor and massage therapist I will be needing once the painting is complete.

First off, pick an inspirational color:

Get yourself revved up on Friday night by thinking what a great little weekend project you will be accomplishing!  It’s merely a guest room, so we can’t possible disrupt the house that much, right? 

On Saturday morning, start to dismantle the room and stash items all over the second floor of your house.  In the middle of this, coin a new phrase to help the job go faster – the theme is Morning Sunshine, so we must have sunshine in our hearts today, right?

Gosh, it isn’t so bad manuevering around the upstairs! Let’s get this party started!

Despondency descending on the Project Paint a Room. It seems the room isn’t coming together as quickly as originally thought. Take a small break to ponder and reflect:

After BOSSY break, decide to set aside painting and finish vacuuming. Realize the horror of all the dust that has collected beneath the furniture, and decide in addition to finishing that second coat of paint tomorrow, that we should probably break out the steam cleaner and give all the rugs a good scrub!

The dominos are starting to fall fast and furious as projects and worlds collide.

4:45 pm – Done for the day.

Someone decides after Day 2 of painting and rug cleaning, that maybe the furniture should be configured differently. No one can agree on the configuration, because some men just don’t know jack how to maximize space. For God’s sake, I watch HGTV and TLC. I know stuff.

Day 3 arrives with furniture still in hall and it’s presence is pecking away at sense of calm and peacefulness. Wasn’t Monday was supposed to dawn with sunshine in my heart?  I decide to ignore the room today. Room just mocks me all day as I sit in my office next door.

Day 4, I put the woman’s spin on configuration. We have a zen moment and agree it looks just great. Carpets are now clean, shadows have disappeared, sense of well being restored.

Day 7 – Objets d’art back in their places.


KA-CHING! The sound of money saved.

PS. Yes, that is an analog TV, because Congress is wisely saving me that money until June.

The Hockey Player with Heart

Last weekend I watched a tiny hockey star in the making at a local rink, my little nephew Matt. When told that Auntie Meg was coming to watch him play, and he told his Mom “thank goodness someone is finally coming to one of my games!”.

Future Bruins All Star

Future Bruins All Star

He is a miniature numbers savant and scarily knows the numbers of every Bruin, Celtic and Red Sox. He also knows the numbers of several of the Yankees players and although that’s admirable, we just don’t allow that in Boston, Matt, because it’s just plain wrong.

He can even pronounce the names that adults mangle. One of his favorite Bruins players is David Krejci (pronounced cray-chee) and the name literally rolls off his tongue as he plays his imaginary hockey shifts in my sister’s living room. This is where the coffee table is transformed into “hockey boards” that he can jump, and each game commences with the singing of the National Anthem.

Matt battles for the puck

Well, little Matt didn’t score any goals this particular day, But he did have the most heart of any kid out there, checking a few kids into the boards (totally not allowed at that age) and battling an 11 year old girl at center ice. (and what’s up with that, she plays hockey with 6 year olds and then takes a babysitting gig after the game? ) He was pretty ticked off about his offensive production this game, but I did remind him that no other kid had people following them around with a camera, and that had to count for something.

And I didn’t mind having frozen feet to make my day complete.

The Barefoot Contessa comes to Meg’s Kitchen

For many reasons, cooking is a source of therapy. When you live in New England, there are many winter weekends you become a captive of the snow and ice. You can read, watch TV (how much of that can you do in between shoveling out?) , and then, when all else fails, you can cook.

After several snowstorms pummeled us, I decided I was going to buy a new cookbook and turn my humble digs into a virtual test kitchen. So, while perusing Amazon for a cookbook that captured my fancy, I ran across:

Barefoot Contessa, Back to Basics

Barefoot Contessa, Back to Basics

This recipe is a strong contender for soup of the year for me:

Serves 6 to 8

2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4 inch chunks
4 cups chopped leeks (4 leeks), white and light-green parts, cleaned of all sand
1/4 cup good olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 cups baby arugula, lightly packed ( I didn’t even bother – I just needed straight carbohydrates)
1/2 cup dry white wine, plus extra for the cook serving
6 to 7 cups chicken stock
3/4 cup heavy cream (I used half and half here…)
8 ounces crème fraiche (and I used some sour cream here…)
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for garnish

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Roasted Potatoes and Leeks - right out of the oven!

Roasted Potatoes and Leeks - right out of the oven!

Combine the potatoes and leeks on a sheet pan in a single layer. Add the olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper and toss to coat the vegetables evenly. Roast for 40 to 45 minutes, turning them with a spatula a few times during cooking, until very tender. Add the arugula and toss to combine. Roast for 4 to 5 more minutes, until the arugula is wilted. Remove the pan from the oven and place over two burners. Stir in the wine and 1 cup of the chicken stock and cook over low heat, scraping up any crispy roasted bits sticking to the pan. In batches, transfer the roasted vegetables to a food processor fitted with the steel blade, adding the pan liquid and about 5 cups of the chicken stock to make a puree. Pour the purée into a large pot or Dutch oven. Continue to purée the vegetables in batches until they’re all done and combined in the large pot. Add enough of the remaining 1 to 2 cups of stock to make a thick soup. Add the cream, crème fraIche, 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper and check the seasoning.

When ready to serve, reheat the soup gently and whisk in 2 tablespoons white wine and the Parmesan cheese.

The finished product!

The finished product!

I also tried the extremely addictive Pecan Sticky buns:

This Celery Root and Apple Puree was a hit side dish with a pork tenderloin one night:

After all my cooking and taste testing, I decided to balance out things a bit by trying this:

As you can see, the results were mixed.