A Few of my Favorite Things

Happy Thursday, y'all!

Have you heard about the record snowfall in New England?! You did? Just checking. Yet more snow is falling from the sky as I type... Sigh...

We're coming upon the end of lo this second month of the year, and I've been mulling over a few things, some new, some not, that have been cherries on the proverbial sundae that is life, and thought I'd share. (The creative numbering sequence I borrowed from the inestimable Ree Drummond, aka The Pioneer Woman)

1. NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (of course!)

Below are just a few pics I found from that totally awesome game! Even if you're a hater, you have to admit Super Bowl XLIX was, without a doubt, a thrilling nail-biter! It had everything a fan of football could ask for - equally matched teams, amazing plays and not one moment to relax until the fat lady sang - aka Butler's interception.  


This is what I do!

Needs me an 11 jersey!

Says it all. :)
Have me a 12 jersey...


No more really needs to be said, but I will anyway. I haven't procured a new one of these in many years. At the end of last year, I came across this cherry-colored beauty whilst perusing the sales on the Guess? website. (If I wasn't beholden to monetary constraints, this would be one-stop clothes/accessory shopping for me.) Not only was it half-off, I received an ADDITIONAL 15% off AND free shipping because it was my first order. There's a clip-on shoulder strap, which I did attach. Then I realized I just hooked it over my elbow all the time anyway, so I have since removed it.


That's right. I'm a fuddy-duddy who's only just NOW discovered some of the wonderfulness contained on Youtube! I now can listen to Howard Stern and have expanded my yoga practices! 

One night Ben played a bit of The Stern Show someone told him about and the next day I explored what others were there, only to discover that new broadcasts are uploaded daily! His schedule is now Monday - Wednesday, but at the end of each day, the show is available. It's almost like I haven't been years without!

I subscribe to several different newsletters. One is from a www.greatist.com. About a month ago, a newsletter included this link to Brett Larkin's "15 Minute Beginner Morning Yoga Routine." After  attending a beginner yoga class with Kim few months ago, I realized that even though I'm past the beginner stage, beginner practices can still be awesome. Thank goodness too, because this fifteen minute practice is THE perfect way to start your day, and I may have ignored it otherwise. Please, please, please if you're in the market for anything to make you feel better physically, I IMPLORE you - give this a whirl. It's only fifteen minutes and you don't need any yoga experience. I guarantee that if you do it five times a week, after two weeks you will feel a difference! I've also done her Yoga Detox, Sweaty Yoga (wasn't that sweaty for me, but fun), and 75 minute Advanced Heart Opening Sequence. The first time I did the 75 minute one, I stopped halfway through because I was distracted by my progeny. The second time I completed it, and was thoroughly amazed at how the second half truly complemented the first. I now make certain I have the full 75 minutes available, since the benefits are truly diminished without completing it. Some physical discomfort I'd been struggling with have also dissipated since I've rolled Ms. Larkin's Youtube classes into my mix - even my toes feel better!!  And these classes have improved my performance whence I pop in one of Shiva's DVDs. There are also other free yoga I have yet to explore. 


This website offers hundreds and hundreds of workouts, all for $12.99/month. There are programs you can follow, AND you can do whatever workout you feel like. They even give you a whole month for free to try it out. It's for everyone - beginners to ultimate athlete. I started my free trial with the Inferno program, then realized I needed to build toward that. I'm now doing the Black Fire program - Bob Harper (of Biggest Loser fame) and Anja Garcia co-torture. It is a two month program, and if I remember the introductory video correctly, after completing it, you should do it again. I'm currently playing a bit of catch-up with the workouts this week, but will definitely be on track by the end. My goal is to complete both cycles then try Inferno again. Starting with the Black Fire program was the correct move - I'm able to push myself and come back for more. Equipment is required for a good portion of the workouts I've done, but there are plenty that don't have equipment. I highly recommend giving the thirty days free a try!



It's not a coincidence that the recipe is included here! I didn't add a photo, since it is beyond my talents to take an appetizing photo of beef stew. I tried multiple times, and every single pic looked like a chunky mud puddle. Yuck.

It's said that to make a recipe your own is to tweak it bit, and tweak it I've done! I found this delectable gem within the pages of my Hannaford's hand-out. I've tweaked-away from my first attempt, but the final tweak really took it over the edge! This may be apparent to everyone but me, but be sure to cut the beef into equal pieces. I assumed that because the beef is in chunks already, they didn't need to be cut smaller - never mind that the vegetables are cut in smaller chunks and uniformity is crucial for appropriate cooking time! So my first two attempts at beef stew resulted with the beef chunks in various states of chewy-tough (not good) and fall-apart-in-your-mouth (good!). I also nixed the parsnips and upped the portions of potatoes and carrots. This, in turn, required upping the quantity of liquids (beef stock and red wine). The over-the-edge tweak is substituing Montreal Seasoning for salt and pepper to season the flour. I also use more seasoned flour then called for in the original recipe, and save the unused remnants in case the stew needs thickening whence pulled from the oven.

Serves 6


1/3 c flour
2 tbsp (or so) Montreal Steak Seasoning
1/4 c of olive oil (more or less as needed)
1 - 1.5 lb of chuck stew meat cut into 1-inch pieces
1 large onion, chopped
5 garlic cloves, chopped
1 (14.5 oz. can) fire-roasted diced tomatoes
1 tbsp (or a few shakes) of Worcestershire sauce (I prefer low-sodium)
2.5 c low sodium beef broth
2.5 c red wine (Burgundy, Pinot Noir, or Shiraz)
2 c roughly chopped baby carrots
3 celery ribs, chopped
1 lb of red potatoes cut to 1-inch pieces
1 tsp dried rosemary
1 tsp dried oregano


Preheat oven to 325.

Combine the flour and Montreal Seasoning in a bowl or plastic bag. Add chopped beef, and stir or shake to coat. Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven or oven-proof stock pot. Brown beef in batches, adding oil as necessary. May take 6 - 10 minutes per batch, be sure not to over crowd as this will cause the meat to steam, not brown. Transfer cooked beef to a plate and tent with foil. Reserve remaining seasoned flour.

Drizzle in more oil, if necessary, and toss in the chopped onion and garlic. Let soften and become aromatic for five-ish minutes. Add diced tomatoes and Worcestershire sauce. Add 1.5 c each of broth and wine and scrape up brown bits (aka yumminess!).

Add beef, carrots, celery, potatoes, rosemary and oregano. Stir everything to combine. If liquid amount appears inadequate, add more broth and wine in equal amounts. Put in oven and bake until beef is tender, 65 - 80 minutes.

If stew liquid isn't at desired thickness, whisk remaining seasoned flour with 3/4 c of beef broth. Pour, in increments, the flour-thickened broth until you're satisfied with broth. Ladle into bowls and enjoy. If you have hunks of crusty, rustic bread at your disposal, I highly recommend serving it alongside!


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