Posts Tagged ‘At Home’

At Home: Umbrella’s Up!

May 27, 2017

At Home: Umbrella's Up!

A Memorial Day Weekend tradition, it’s how we mark the unofficial start of the summer season.

Homemade Strawberry Ice Cream

May 21, 2017

During our trip to France in 1999, we visited Limoges. We bought a dessert set consisting of a large serving bowl and 12 dishes.

At Home:  Dessert Dish

I love that the design is perfect for the strawberry ice cream I made yesteerday using some of the berries we picked at Battleview.

Homemade Strawberry Ice Cream

At Home: Spring Colors

April 29, 2017

At Home: Spring Colors

White Dogwood Tree (?)

At Home: Spring Colors


At Home: Avocado Toast

February 18, 2017

At Home: Avocado

The avocado. WebMD calls it a “nutrient all-star” because it contains a myriad of vitamins and minerals that have lots of health benefit. And while the fat content is high, it’s monounsaturated fat, aka the “good” fat, that helps lower bad cholesterol.

No doubt the avocado’s most popular use is for guacamole which, of course, I’ve made occasionally (the recipe I use is via Diana Kennedy, the doyenne of Mexican cuisine). However, I more regularly use an avocado when making one of my favorite salads, the Cobb salad, in which it’s an important ingredient.

A few days ago, I made a Cobb salad for lunch – just for me because Michael preferred to have something else. That meant I didn’t use the entire avocado, so then the question: What to do with the rest? I did consider making guacamole but suddenly got this brainstorm. Avocado toast! Something I’d never made before. Actually, I’d never even eaten it before. Though it’s become quite trendy and is served in many restaurants, it’s not been on the menu in any of the restaurants we frequent.

A little Googling provided the info that avocado toast can be plain or adorned. Adorned sounded good to me. And I immediately had the idea of how mine would be adorned.

Though the recipes I looked at all called for hearty, very crusty breads, I used a fairly thick slice of brioche bread. Besides it being the only bread I had on hand, it happens to be really delicious especially when toasted. I mashed the avocado, mixed in a bit of lemon juice, and spread it on the toasted brioche. To the avocado base, I added these layers: chopped scallions, crispy bacon torn into small pieces, chopped tomato, cubed pieces of cooked chicken breast, a generous sprinkling of blue cheese, finely minced hard-boiled egg yolk, and the hard-boiled egg white finely chopped. Lastly, I spooned on some vinaigrette.

Et, voila!

At Home: Avocado Toast

Avocado Toast Cobb Salad

Not exactly a pick-me-up-and-eat-me type of avocado toast as a fork and knife were definitely required. Yum!

Jekyll & Hyde Weather

February 8, 2017


At Home 2017

At Home 2017


At Home 2017


At Home 2017

We’re in the 8-10″+ zone!

At Home: A Deer with Antlers!

January 11, 2017

Seeing deer in our backyard is not unusual. I’ve done posts about it before (here and here). But what caught our attention this time was something we’d never seen before: a deer with antlers!

Yesterday afternoon, as we were on our way out to do errands, we spotted him. Not having my regular camera at hand, I pulled out my iPhone from my purse. However, getting a decent photo wasn’t easy. I knew if I got too close to the window, he would run off. As it was, he kept moving though I finally managed to get a shot. Admittedly, not a particularly good one. When he finally stopped long enough for me snap the photo, he was standing at the side of the house just barely in the window’s range which forced me to the take the photo at an angle. I cropped it and enhanced it as best I could. I think you can make out the antlers.

At Home: Deer with Antlers!

There were two other deer with him neither with antlers. One was about his size and the other a bit smaller. Maybe a family? Nosing about in the snow, they were looking for something to eat.

This was not the first deer siting of the day. When I came downstairs in the morning, two deer were standing side-by-side outside the double kitchen window peering directly into the room. Not something that had happened before so a weird surprise. What were they thinking? “We’re hungry and there’s food in there!”? Even if I had thought about taking a picture — which I didn’t though it definitely would have made an interesting photo — that would have been impossible. As soon as they saw me, they moved away into the yard and, like the three deer later in the day, eventually disappeared into the woods.

At Home: Fixing the Chimney

January 9, 2017

Last Monday, Michael found a brick sitting on top of the air conditioning unit on the right side of our house. It had fallen from the top of one of the two chimneys.

You’ve probably figured out why we have two chimneys since I’ve no doubt that those who come here are smart! But just in case someone’s still scratching his or her head…. Our house, built in 1969, is in a large US Homes tract development. None of the various models included a fireplace. However, buyers could pay extra to have one built in the family room which is what we did.

At Home: Fixing the Chimney

The fireplace and the heating unit are served by the same chimney. For the first few years, we went crazy with lighting fires. Eventually, the novelty wore off, and I don’t remember the last time we lit a fire in the family room.

When we began furnishing the living room in the mid-‘70’s, we decided that a fireplace on the far wall would be a fine design element, so we had a contractor build it for us.

At Home: Fixing the Chimney

Ergo, the second chimney. We lit a fire in that fireplace right after it was built. And that one time was it! As I said, built as a design focal point.

Now back to the current issue…

The fallen brick had come from the chimney built with the house. When Michael looked up at that chimney’s top, he could see that other bricks looked loose. Definitely not good! Using Home Advisor, he contacted several masons. Affirmed, a company that does masonry as well as siding and gutters, said they would send a mason the next morning. Vinnie arrived a few minutes ahead of the scheduled time (points for that!), inspected the chimney and told Michael there was, indeed, a dangerous situation in need of immediate remediation. This would involve removing all the loose bricks in the section at the top and rebuilding it. The work would be done the next day.

On Wednesday, Vinnie came back with another mason, Henry. Not long after they started working, Michael came in to tell me that the situation was a lot worse than Vinnie had thought. The bricks in entire top part of the chimney down to where it widened (near our bedroom window) were loose. The project now entailed removing all the old bricks and rebuilding the chimney with new ones. There would be a new cap at the top, new flashing at the roof line, and waterproofing top to bottom. The other chimney would also be waterproofed. I stayed inside while Michael handled things and relayed this info to me. He also mentioned that they wouldn’t be able to match the brick. My response: I could care less. What’s important is to have a chimney that won’t fall down and possibly injure someone.

While Henry went off to get materials for the rebuild, Michael chatted with Vinnie. He told Michael that he and Henry came here from Albania where, obviously, they were masons. They are working for their uncle who owns the company.

Vinnie and Henry completed the process of removing all the loose bricks on Wednesday and began the rebuild. On Thursday, they returned with two more masons to speed things along.

At Home: Fixing the Chimney

At Home: Fixing the Chimney

At Home: Fixing the Chimney


At Home: Fixing the Chimney

Bringing Up the Concrete

While they were working, they discovered that a dead bird had become stuck in the chimney. After removing it, Henry came inside (Yes, he took his shoes off!) and thoroughly vacuumed the fireplace and cleaned out the ashes.

At Home: Fixing the Chimney

I don’t remember the last time it looked this clean!

At Home: Fixing the Chimney

I never saw the bird though Michael did. Happily, we didn’t have to deal with its disposal because Vinnie put it into the plastic bag with the ashes, and the guys took the bag with them when they left.

Before he went back outside, I chatted with Henry. Impressed with his English – accented but quite fluent – I asked if he had studied English before he came here. No, he said. When he arrived here six years ago, he didn’t know even one word.

The job was completed that afternoon.

At Home: Fixing the Chimney

Michael added our rave review to the ones posted previously on Home Advisor.

That (Damn!) Four-Letter Word…

January 7, 2017

Yes, snow! As I type this, it’s still falling.

We’re in the 3-6″ zone.


Temperature: 21 degrees.


All too familiar scenes of winter at home:

At Home: First Significant Snow of 2017

View from the Upstairs Master Bath

At Home: First Significant Snow of 2017

View from the Kitchen

At Home: First Significant Snow of 2017

Snow on Berries

With this first significant snowfall of 2017, my most unfavorite season has definitely arrived!

At Home: New Year’s Eve 2016

January 1, 2017

Last year, Michael wanted to celebrate his upcoming 75th birthday in January by doing New Year’s Eve up big at Eleven Madison Park. So, we did! This year, it was back to staying home in NJ, having our annual beef fondue, and listening to the WQXR Classical Countdown.

At Home: New Year's Eve 2016

Here’s the beef! Prime Tenderloin (aka Filet Mignon).

At Home: New Year's Eve 2016

I put in my order at Whole Foods a couple of weeks ago and told them I wanted to pick up the meat Friday morning, the 30th. On Thursday, I got a call from WH about my order. I had ordered 2 lbs. but for some strange reason, they had me down for 4-5! Big difference! Once that was corrected, she asked me if I wanted Prime or the next step down which I think was Choice. Definitely Prime, I said. We confirmed the next day pick-up between 11 and noon.  A few minutes later, she called back. Seems they wouldn’t be getting the Prime until Saturday morning. Would I be willing to wait? I was fine with waiting so long as she could guarantee that if the Prime didn’t come in, I would at least be able to get the other. She said that wouldn’t be a problem. She also told me they would be taking off $2 for “the inconvenience.” I never asked exactly what that meant, so I’m not sure whether she meant $2/lb. or for the entire order. In any case, when I showed up on Saturday morning, they had gotten the Prime. The butcher brought it out wrapped, so I asked to see the meat. Just as I requested, there were individual steaks. As you can see, gorgeous! But I noticed that each one was tied, so I asked if he could please remove the strings which he was more than willing to do. (I could have done it myself, but I figured why not have him save me the trouble?). Before rewrapping the steaks, he put them on the scale to get a digital price tag. Whoa! The scale read a little over 3 lbs. I reminded him that I’d ordered only 2. Well, he said that he’d only charged me for a bit over 2. Plus, of course, there was that $2 that was taken off. Though I did ask him why they were giving me this freebee, I’m still not clear as to the reason. In any case, we were gifted one lb. of Prime Tenderloin. A very nice New Year’s present from the Meat Dept. at “Whole Paycheck.”

Chunks of steak ready for the fondue:

At Home: New Year's Eve 2016

I initially cut up two of the steaks each of which weighed 8 ounces and later half of another. Altogether, that was 20 ounces. I wrapped the rest individually and froze them.

Michael used his Coravin to pour himself a glass of Bordeaux.

At Home: New Year's Eve 2016

At Home: New Year's Eve 2016

Having the Coravin is great. Since I don’t drink wine, it enables Michael to have just a glass or two of fine quality wine without actually opening the bottle because after the Coravin is removed, the bottle is resealed and can be kept indefinitely.

We started with a Salad of Red Leaf Lettuce dressed with Homemade Vinaigrette.

At Home: New Year's Eve 2016

On to the main event:

At Home: New Year's Eve 2016

At Home: New Year's Eve 2016

Sauces: Tarragon, Horseradish, Mustard, Garlic

Rösti Potatoes are the perfect side dish.

At Home: New Year's Eve 2016

After a short break while I did some cleaning up, we had dessert. Thanks to Andrews’s delicious ice cream gift

For Michael:

At Home: New Year's Eve 2016

Salt & Straw’s Double Fold Vanilla

For me:

At Home: New Year's Eve 2016

Salt & Straw Almond Brittle with Salted Ganache, Chocolate Gooey Brownie + Fox’s U-bet Chocolate Syrup

As for the Classical Countdown, no surprise what was in the Number 1 spot. It has garnered that spot for as long as we can remember Actually, four of the top five were Beethoven symphonies. I guess you can see he’s very popular!

5. Beethoven: Symphony No. 6 in F Major, Op. 68 “Pastoral”
4. Beethoven: Symphony No. 7 in A Major, Op. 92
3. Dvorak: Symphony No. 9 in E Minor, “From the New World”
2. Beethoven: Symphony No. 5 in C Minor, Op. 67
1. Beethoven: Symphony No. 9 in D Minor, Op. 125 “Choral”

At a few minutes before midnight, we went upstairs, turned on the TV to Channel 7 (ABC), turned off the sound, and watched the ball drop while listening to the final 10 minutes of Beethoven’s Ninth.

This New Year’s Eve coincided with the final night of Chanukah.

At Home: New Year's Eve 2016

Wishing everyone a Happy, Healthy 2017!

At Home: Chanukah Dinner 2016

December 25, 2016

At Home: Chanukah Dinner 2016

Last night was the first night of Chanukah.  This year it happened to coincide with Christmas Eve. I had no memory of when that last happened last, so I looked it up. Nearly 40 years ago — 1978. (Yes, everything is on the Google!) Jen and Louis usually go out for dinner on Christmas Eve with his sister and her husband. Instead, they joined Michael and me in our apartment for our annual Chanukah dinner. Jen came in the afternoon to help with some of the prep. It was fun cooking together, something we’d not done in ages.

Michael got a half bottle of Pinot Noir in the liquor store across the street.

At Home: Chanukah Dinner 2016

With the exception of dessert, the menu is the same every year.

At Home: Chanukah Dinner 2016

At Home: Chanukah Dinner 2016

My Famous Chopped Salad

At Home: Chanukah Dinner 2016

Pot Roast

At Home: Chanukah Dinner 2016

Potato Latkes

At Home: Chanukah Dinner 2016

Homemade Applesauce

At Home: Chanukah Dinner 2016

Red Cabbage with Apples

For dessert this year, we kept it simple:

At Home: Chanukah Dinner 2016

At Home: Chanukah Dinner 2016

I did do a bit of baking since we must have Chanukah cookies! With Louis in mind, they’re gluten-free though, frankly, you’d never guess it since they’re really tasty. The recipe calls for shortening, but I use butter because, let’s face it, everything tastes better with butter!

At Home: Chanukah Dinner 2016

Chanukah Sameach!