Friday Dance Party – How About The Civil Wars?

Guess what?  It is time for another edition of Friday Dance Party on Acorns On Glen.  It’s the time where we give thanks for making it through another week and for being alive and present here on Earth.  How do we celebrate another week of living?  We dance.  So, are you alive this Friday?  Are you and your family safe and sound?  Take a few seconds now to be in the moment and realize what a great life you truly have.  Did you give thanks for that?

Good, now let’s dance.

I have a bad habit of always second guessing myself.  Once I make a decision, there is this little voice inside my head that says ‘Are you sure you did the right thing?’.  Then I reach out and make people crazy by asking for their validation about my decision.  To make matters worse, if any of my family or friends tell me they think I didn’t make the right decision, I end up getting my feelings hurt and say how I can’t believe they didn’t support me.  A vicious cycle.  So this weekend, I took it upon myself to buy some furniture.  A new chair, two new bar stools and a bench to put in front of the bed.  I picked fabric, matched it to other fabric and left the furniture store confident that I made all the right choices.  Three days later, I keep thinking….did I do the right thing?  Should I have chosen brown over blue?  Is the chair too small for the space where it is going?  Is the fabric too busy on the chair?  I’ve also tricked two different people into going with me to the furniture store for validation.  Both of them know my tricks and have told me that I’m absolutely right on trend.  Even if they thought the furniture was the ugliest stuff on Earth, they validated my choices.  I know they just didn’t have the energy to deal with my wrath if they said they didn’t like the pieces.  I really need to buy a big dose of confidence somewhere.  Which leads me to The Civil Wars.  I heard them sing a part of this song on the Grammys.  They had such big voices and such a unique sound that I immediately went on-line and bought their CD.  I’ve listened to it over and over and over.  Then last night, I was told to turn my speaker volume down because folks were sick of hearing those people screaming from the CD.  What…no validation?  How could I be wrong with this new group?  A bad decision?  Honestly, I don’t think I am wrong.  Turn on the speakers and listen to The Civil Wars.  It’s a great song to pair up with a little dancing.  Remember, it’s another week down and we owe it to ourselves to give thanks for that.  Then let me know what you think.  If you disagree with my music choice, I will only be pissy to you for a week or two.  No big deal.

Short Ribs With Tagliatelle

I really haven’t gotten out the pots and pans and did some real cooking since the New Year began, so I thought the long President’s Day weekend was the perfect opportunity for me to get back into the swing of things.  With my annual beginning of a new year diet and a busy work schedule over, the long weekend seemed perfect for me to get back into the kitchen.  Even though we’ve had a very mild Winter, the temperatures are still dropping below freezing, so I thought some comfort food was in order.  With that in mind, I settled on short ribs with tagliatelle.  Short ribs that simmer on the stove for an entire afternoon with a condensed sauce containing minced vegetables, beef broth and red wine sounded perfect.  This thick and rich sauce is then spooned over tagliatelle, which are long, thin, flat strips of pasta about 1/4 inch wide.  It is very similar to fettuccine.  This recipe is an old Giada recipe given to me by a friend and has been slightly modified from the original.  The final result can be a little dry at times, so follow the recipe and save some pasta water to moisten the dish up if it does turn out to be on the dry side.

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 ounces chopped pancetta (about 1/2 cup)
  • 2 1/2 pounds short ribs
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 (14-ounce) can tomatoes (whole or diced)
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 1/2 cups beef broth
  • 3/4 cup red wine
  • 1 pound fresh or dried tagliatelle

Directions:

Place the olive oil in a large heavy soup pot over medium heat.  Cook the pancetta until golden and crisp, about 4 minutes.  Meanwhile, season the short ribs with salt and pepper, and dredge in the flour.  Using a slotted spoon, remove the pancetta from the pan and set aside.  Add the short ribs to the pan and brown on all sides, about 7 minutes total.

Meanwhile, combine the onion, carrot, parsley and garlic in a food processor and blend until finely minced.  Then add the tomatoes and tomato paste and pulse.

Once the short ribs are browned, carefully add the mixture from the food processor to the pot.  Return the pancetta to the pot and stir.  Add the rosemary, thyme, oregano, bay leaf, beef broth and wine.  Bring the mixture to a boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 1 hour and 15 minutes.  Remove the lid and simmer for another hour and a half, stirring occasionally.  Remove the meat and bones from the pot.  Discard the bones.  Shred the meat and return it to the pot.  Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 3/4 teaspoon pepper, or to taste.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat.  Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes for dried pasta and 2 to 3 minutes for fresh.  Drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid.  Add the pasta to the pot and stir to combine.  Add the reserved pasta liquid 1/4 cup at a time, if needed, to moisten the pasta.  Transfer to serving bowls and serve immediately.

Friday Dance Party – My Whitney Tribute

This is another edition of Friday Dance Party on Acorns On Glen.  It’s the time where we give thanks for making it through another week and for being alive and present here on Earth.  How do we celebrate another week of living?  We dance.  So, are you alive this Friday?  Are you and your family safe and sound?  Take a few seconds now to be in the moment and realize what a great life you truly have.  Did you give thanks for that?

Good, now let’s dance.

As most of you know, Whitney Houston was one of my favorite singing stars ever since I first heard her in my senior year of college.  I can pretty much say without hesitation that I have played her music about every week from the time I discovered her through today.  I wouldn’t feel right if I did not take this opportunity to pay my respects to this wonderful singer.  If my life ever becomes a movie (which I doubt, but let’s just say), Whitney’s music would surely be on the soundtrack.  I remember hearing her in college during my senior year singing ‘The Greatest Love Of All’.  I then traveled to New York City for the first time shortly after and heard her sing it live on Governor’s Island for a celebration of the re-opening of the Statue of Liberty.  There would be four other times I heard her sing live in concert.  I remember begging my friend to dance with me at the clubs to ‘I Wanna Dance With Somebody’.  That was when I was young and thought going out to a club was a good time.  I remember a big break-up and listening over and over to ‘Where Do Broken Hearts Go’.  Feeling proud to be an American from her ‘Star Spangled Banner’.  You really couldn’t turn on a radio when I was on the West Coast and not hear ‘I Will Always Love You’ during ‘The Bodyguard’ era.  It always makes me smile today when a contestant on ‘American Idol’ tries one of her songs from ‘The Bodyguard’ era and the judges criticize the contestant because no one can sing ‘Bodyguard’ Whitney better than Whitney.  I discovered gospel music after buying the soundtrack from ‘The Preacher’s Wife’ and the song ‘I Believe In You and Me’.  Happy to hear her voice again when ‘I Look To You’ hit the airwaves.

So thank you Whitney for always singing when I needed someone to sing.  In your honor, we dance with you today here on Acorns On Glen.  I hope all of you who are reading this will join us.

Fun And Light Stalking In East Hampton

We were invited to spend the weekend with our good friends at their house in East Hampton, Long Island, New York. Our friends are part of a small percentage of people who actually spend the Summer and Winter at their home in the Hamptons. The Hamptons are mostly known as a Summer destination where people travel there to relax and enjoy the heat of the Summer in their home or at one of the many beaches that are on the Atlantic Ocean. Many people have never been to the Hamptons in the Winter, but it is actually a great time to go because there is no crowds and, better yet, no traffic in getting there.

From a history perspective, the Village of East Hampton is a village in the Town of East Hampton, New York. It is located in Suffolk County, on the South Fork of eastern Long Island. The population was 1,083 at the time of the United States 2010 Census. Founded in 1648 by English farmers, East Hampton remained a quiet farming community until the late 19th century, when it became a resort for the wealthy upper class. It became an artists colony in the mid-20th century, popularized by the Abstract Expressionists, most notably Jackson Pollack. Today, it has become a premier weekend destination during the Summer season.

Winter has another benefit in East Hampton as well. Besides no crowds and little traffic, finding your favorite star’s cottage is much easier as well. Yes, I admit that I enjoy finding famous people’s houses and staring at them from the car or from the road that runs in front of their places. Winter is the best time for a light stalking adventure because you can see through the vines and shrubs that are in front of the houses because they have lost their leaves.

My latest trip centered on finding a few homes of my favorite FOODIE people. Enjoy a few of the shots I took on my East Hampton adventure:

Come out, come out Martha Stewart. Here we are in front of Martha’s East Hampton home on Lily Pond Lane. The front yard was filled with burlap covering various shrubs, bushes and small trees for the Winter. The burlap is sort of her Winter trademark. Since I am a civilized stalker, I only go as far as the front gate! If you want to see what the inside looks like, visit here.

Are you there, Barefoot Contessa? Yes, here is a shot of Ina Garten’s East Hampton home. See how the hedge in Winter enables you to see right through?

Another shot of Ina’s home as the car creeps down the roadway.

Remember the season that Ina moved from filming in her home’s kitchen to a look-alike kitchen in her new studio? Here is a shot of the studio which is on the lot right next to her home.

Don’t think less of me because of my stalking. I like to think that it shows I have a high level of curiosity versus stalker-like tendencies. I can’t believe I am the first person to do this, so I feel secure in the knowledge that there are others out there who are like me and understand. Now I just have to figure out how to get one of them to invite me in for a little bite and some tea without getting arrested.

Bringing Romance Back To Valentine’s Day

I’m on a mission today.  I want to bring romance back to Valentine’s Day.  Remember when you were young and you watched how Valentine’s Day and LOVE were expressed?  People bought a dozen roses to give to their loved one.  You bought a beautiful card and wrote a lovely note or a little poem in it and signed it with “With Love” in your own hand writing.  Do you remember in grade school when you would decorate a small paper bag with red hearts and paper lace, tape it up on the chalkboard ledge and all of your fellow students would drop little Valentine’s Day cards into it addressed to you?  Remember when couples celebrated with a great meal staring at each other over candles and champagne flutes?

Most people today seem to have lost the skills to be emotionally intimate.  Dating has become less about meeting someone face to face and going on a first date and more about hooking up on an online dating website.  Lovely cards replaced by short texts saying “143” (I Love You–one letter, four letters, three letters).  Romantic dinners replaced by dinners were you arrive late because work was crazy and you have to be home by 10 because there is something on TV you want to watch.

Enough already.  Today I want everyone who has a special someone to tell them ‘I Love You’ by spoken word versus a text.  Bring home some flowers and a hand written card.  Maybe a romantic dinner?  I want people to express their love in a personal and tender fashion.  I want people to show their love in an old-fashioned manner.  I want romance to come back to Valentine’s Day.  Will you help me?

Friday Dance Party – Give Me All Your Luvin’ Madonna

Guess what?  It’s time for another edition of Friday Dance Party on Acorns On Glen.  It’s the time where we give thanks for making it through another week and for being alive and present here on Earth.  How do we celebrate another week of living?  We dance.  So, are you alive this Friday?  Are you and your family safe and sound?  Take a few seconds now to be in the moment and realize what a great life you truly have.  Did you give thanks for that?

Good, now let’s dance.

OK, who watched the Super Bowl?  Maybe it’s easier to ask who didn’t watch the Super Bowl?  Me, like most Americans, watched the game during a Super Bowl party surrounded by pigs in the blanket, sliders, pulled pork, chicken strips and nachos, to name a few of the things that were there to eat.  While I thought only the fourth quarter of the game was exciting and was happy that the New York Giants won, I thought it only right to give big props to Madonna who I thought put on quite a fun and lively half-time show.  Like her or not, you have to admit that at 53 years old, Madge still has it.  At 48, I can’t:

  • Run around and dance for 13 minutes,
  • Round up fifty gladiators to pull my throne and me around,
  • Stretch my leg straight and pull it above my head.  Even if I could, I would need an orthopedic doctor to be present to help re-attach my leg to my hip bone!, and,
  • Keep hip and understand who Nicki Minoj, LMFAO, CeLo Green and M.I.A. are and where they come from.

So I give Madonna an A for her half-time show.  Since it’s Friday, turn up your speakers and enjoy her two ways:  I put her new song at the beginning of my post and her actual Super Bowl performance here.

Pick your poison and dance.  You’ve made it through another week and you deserve to celebrate.  Just don’t let me catch you trying any moves from ‘Vogue’….I’ll have to laugh at you.

Oprah’s Words Of Wisdom To Roseanne (And Me)

I remember in 1998 when Roseanne announced on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” that she was going to do a daily syndicated talk show to air during the daytime hours.  Oprah looked at her with a wry little smile on her face and then told Roseanne that doing a talk show sounds easy in theory, but come January and February, she would see how hard it is to try to think up bright and exciting show topics to air in the dead of Winter.  14 years later, Oprah’s words of wisdom are speaking to me here at Acorns On Glen.  You see, blogging is a great way to document your life and let people read about the interesting things you do in it, until you feel that you have become the saddest person in the world and there is not one thing that you do in the dead of Winter that would interest somebody.  During Spring, Summer and Fall, there was almost never a week/weekend that went by where I didn’t do four or five things that I thought would make an interesting post.  I was always cooking a new recipe, there was always news from my garden, nature was in full swing and doing things worthy of writing about and I was traveling to here and there and able to share my finds in the places that I had visited.  All that comes to a crashing halt when the dead of Winter takes over.  I mean, I have become the most boring person who has ever written a blog this last month and I don’t see much improvement going into February.  I mean, take a look at the possible titles I could have written about for events happening with or to me over this past weekend.  Would you want to read stories like these?

  • My Adventures With Bed Sores After A 12 Hour Sleep,
  • New Ways To Avoid Taking A Shower Until 6 PM,
  • What To Eat When You Have Absolutely No Food In The House,
  • Fun Things To Do While You Wait For The Quarterly Exterminator Visit,
  • How To Open Frozen Car Doors After You Take The Car To Be Washed,
  • How To Hire Young Teens To Pick Up Tree Limbs That Fall Into Your Yard After Strong Winds,
  • Shock After Realizing You Have Used The Brush On Your Clarisonic Toothbrush For Over Six Months,
  • Flushed With Excitement – “The Good Wife” Airs A New Episode,
  • Howard Hughes Has Nothing On These Toenails I’m Clipping Now,
  • Can a 3 1/2 Hour Sleep Really Be Termed A Nap?,
  • The DMV – New Ways To Meet Weird People!, or
  • The DMV – Their Technological Advances Since My Last Visit (NOT!)

I swear to God that each of these titles could have a story behind them in minutes, but I don’t think there would be too many hits.  There is a direct correlation –  the colder it gets, the sadder my life becomes.  I’m thinking March will be my turning point.  I will begin to go out into the world more and do interesting things once again.  Until then, if you see Oprah, can you tell her to call me with some ideas she used for topics during January and February?  I really need them.