Proud, Thankful, and Happy

I find myself very engaged in these first few days of summer vacation.  Now, all of this was planned, but on my first official day off and only day off for several more days, I find myself wishing only to be on vacation.  I’m not ready to work again or work yet, I should say.  So, instead of writing of the work (of choice) to be done, I write of something that calms me no matter what the days bring.  Cooking.  Today, after several days away, where fast food was the first option and necessity, I cooked.  A meal at home for two.  We even got to enjoy our meal outside on our back deck where the sun shaded our table and the breeze blew calmly around us.

In my opinion, any home cook who has recently returned home has some culinary wishes, but many of these wishes are to get back to eating regular.  So, each home cook has some classic meals up his/her sleeve. I am the same way.  I have winter meals and summer meals for just these occasions.  They are the recipes that I grew up cooking with my mom and the recipes that don’t need any recipe card.  They are classics that taste good and always turn out great.  Today, is a recipe that I will share with you just in case you find yourself in just such a situation.

I had a bone-in chicken breast (good for 2 people, but this recipe can be doubled).  I first dried the chicken (dry chicken means brown chicken – thank you Anne Burrell).  Then I coated the chicken lightly with olive oil, salt and pepper.  I put this chicken breast side down on a very hot grill.  Then I placed my cast-iron skilled on top of the chicken and then placed a tin-foiled brick on top of the cast-iron skillet to weigh down the chicken.  This allows more of the breast to touch the grill.  Then I closed the grill lid and let the chicken cook for 25 minutes.  Don’t peak!  It needs to get crispy.  After 25 minutes, with extremely sturdy hot mitts, remove the brick and cast-iron skillet from the chicken.  Flip the chicken over and cook until an instant-read thermometer reads 155 degrees.  It is the prettiest chicken.  The breast will be golden-browned and crisp.  I was proud of the excellent grilling, thankful to my mom for showing me this trick, and happy to cooking and eating at home.

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The Year is Over

The days are longer,
yet
the to-do list is shorter.
Careful black lines cross out
scrawled handwriting.

The year is over,
and
notebooks are filled
with notes and words.

I smile at the memories
and the new moments to come.

A Photo Journey

Several weeks ago, I detailed the landscaping adventures taking place at my house.  I am so happy to report that it is finished.  Finished in the sense that the grass is growing in where we changed the shape and the landscape, and finished in the sense that I don’t have to spend every weekend day covered in dirt.  We are finished to the point where daily watering and weed maintenance is doable.  So, here is our journey in pictures.

House 1 Here was our house at the end of summer last year – just a few months after our wedding and moving in together.  It looks good, but what you don’t see is that these wood chips are covering lava rock, so there was landscaping on top of landscaping, and nothing grew well.

FullSizeRender

Here was the front of our house when the landscaping was removed and we had removed layers of clay.  As one of my favorite Gilmore Girls episodes yells, “Big Hole!”

FullSizeRender (2)Now, here is the “finished” look.  Very suburbia which is exactly what I was going for. The grass is starting to fill in that dirt area now too.  It’s well on it’s way.  It’s so fun to watch the flowers flourish and fill in.  It’s going to be a great summer.   Thanks to all of our family and friends who were part of this project.