Winter Woes and Snows Part Two

I was thinking about Winter Woes and Snows and decided to make a third list for you about good things that are available all year long - these are things that you can appreciate no matter what the season:

1. Wine
2. Rod Stewart CD’s
4. Good friends
5. Free long distance
6. Dessert
7. Sisters
8. Daughters
The Outback

And I am sure there are many, many more you can think of in your own life!!


Winter Woes and Snows

As you know I live in Rochester, NY and believe me it is a challenge living and working here in the winter. We aren’t as unlucky as nearby Buffalo (surely the worst weather in civilized territory without having much in the way of beauty), but we do have our share of snow and cold. See for yourself in some of the photos I have included of my house. Worse than Cleveland but not as bad as Buffalo, is what I always think.

So, I have compiled for you a list of the good things about winter (pretty short list) and the bad things about winter – the list can go on and on and on.

The BEST of a Northeast winter:

1. You can make a fire and sit next to it and feel warm and if you are in a really good mood you can contemplate your life after winter while staring at the flames.

2. You can drink cocoa – I prefer homemade but in a pinch Swiss Miss will do if made with real milk and you add a couple of shots of Hershey’s Syrup or Bailey’s.

3. Make some chili. You can eat a mug of it a couple of times a day and it is true comfort food without the mashed potatoes.

4. You get to wear your warmest flannel pajamas which are soft and warm all at once.

5. Make your bed up with flannel sheets. This is a little too hot for me but people swear by it – usually skinny, annoying people that are always cold.

6. Blistex and Chapstick can help heal those chapped lips and feel good too. Come to think of it, if it weren't so cold, I wouldn't have the chapped lips. Maybe this should go on the bad list.

7. Burn candles – they are so pretty, smell nice and add to the ambiance of your home.

NOW FOR THE BAD LIST (hope you have a lot of time - the list was so long I had to edit it down):

1. Travel woes – doesn’t matter if it is a car or a plane, bad weather brings trouble to travel. Nothing like sitting in an airport waiting for the snow to stop in Chicago so you can get to Cincinnati for the holidays.

2. You have to blow your nose way too much when going from the cold into a warm place –like from your car into Nordstrom’s.

3. You have to wear too many layers of clothes and when you are shopping you can get hot really fast.

4. Your friends and family in Arizona and Florida (thanks SO much John and Mike) call and make fun of you and tell you they are playing golf everyday.

5. The heating bills are even more astronomical than the cooling bills in the summer.

6. My mom can’t go to lunch or the beauty shop since the roads are bad and believe me that beauty shop appointment is a must.

7. It's too cold and snowy to walk to the mailbox and you just KNOW your latest “People” magazine is in the box.

8. Your house is drafty and you have to pull the draperies closed for warmth.

9. No outdoor activities – I guess if you ski you are OK but since I don’t, it made the list.

OK, I will stop here – I know you get the point. Anyway, if you are living in a bad climate, hang in there. Spring will come sort of soon and when it does, you will really appreciate it.


Debbie's Recipes

My friend Debbie is a great cook and recently shared a couple of recipes with me. I thought you would enjoy.

Debbie's Cheese and Onion Bites

2 c. shredded cheddar cheese
8 slices bacon - slightly sautéed and chopped
¾ tsp. dry mustard
2 tsp. worcestershire sauce
½ c. chopped onion
1 tbs. chopped parsley

Mix all ingredients together. Pile on slices of French baguette and cook @ 350 for 15 – 20 mins.

Manhattan Clam Chowder

5 slices bacon
1 c. chopped onion
1 c. chopped celery
¼ c. finely chopped green pepper
3 c. water
2 c. peeled, diced potatoes
1 c. diced carrots
1 tbs. chopped fresh parsley

1 tsp. salt
¼ tsp. thyme leaves crushed
1/8 tsp. pepper
3 cans minced clams (drained)
16 oz. can un-drained tomatoes
One bay leaf

One or two shakes Tabasco sauce

In a large saucepan, cook bacon until crisp. Remove bacon from saucepan reserving 2 tbs. drippings.
Crumble bacon and add back to the pan along with the onions, celery, and green peppers. Add all other ingredients, bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 35 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Remove bay leaf. Heat gently, stirring frequently, do not boil.

*Debbie Knows Everything: Make this a day in advance to let the flavors blend.


More About Emily's Redo

For all of you who are following Emily's NYC apartment redo here is a quick update.

While I was in NYC, I showed Emily a catalog I often refer to called
Home Decorators Collection. It has some unusual and interesting accessories and some hard to find items too. They also showcase a large rug collection. The prices are fair and I have been generally happy with the quality. Emily chose a 6x8 rug with a black field (in designer speak this means background) with an updated white swirl pattern called Scroll. Since black is our classy accent color, it looks like the perfect choice. I would caution you on the Persian patterned rugs, since the colors are not always what you think they will be!

While shopping last week Emily went into Pier1 and coincidentally so did I! I was so happy to find that we both selected the same side chairs to replace her really, really old and really, really worn green club chair she has now. (Sorry, Em) SO! The big news is that we are moving forward, the rug is ready to be ordered and the chairs will get another look from Emily and she will choose her favorite. I personally loved all three she selected. AND Pier One is having a giant sale right now on all their furnishings!!

I was also recently at HomeGoods and found another fabulous chair for her that would work great as well. It was also selling at a nice price. Now we've got the paint, the rug, and the chair situations figured out.


My Holiday Home

I know the holidays are over...but I just remembered that I told you I would share some photos of my holiday home. Decorating for Christmas is always one of my favorite things to do. In the photos below you will see my tree, a festive arrangement in my entry, and my fabulous wreath hung over the fireplace. I display my wreath year round but change its "look" to reflect the season. In the spring I might have some yellow, red, and pink flowers to keep things fresh and springy. And at Christmas I use reds, golds, silvers and always have some sort of beading and branches to keep it looking festive and original. If you have photos of your home you'd like to share, please send them to beckybarras@hotmail.com.


NYC Apartment Redo OR We Can Just Call It Emily's Place

Adrienne’s best friend, Emily T. lives in a charming two bedroom apartment on the Upper East Side in New York City. She has lived there a number of years and while she was considering moving to a new apartment, she recently made the decision to stay put. SO, Emily was kind enough to ask for my help in redecorating her space and I was so happy to help.

I traveled to the city in December (perfect for NYC – all the decorations are up and the restaurants are lighted and the snowflakes on Saks Fifth Avenue are fabulous). Adrienne came in from Boston and we got to work.

I visited Emily on a Saturday morning and spent about 3 hours talking to her about how she lived, what she wished for in her apartment and her budget. Then, after asking her a ton of questions, I came up with a plan. We took a lot of “before” photos for you and as we make progress I will keep you updated.

PAINT: Emily knew her paint colors were not cohesive, so that is the first thing we worked on. In NYC, the apartments are very small and each room opens to the next so when you are sitting in the living room, you are also sort of sitting in the kitchen and powder room and bedroom too. You can close doors, but that really makes the space smaller.

As shown in the first photo below, Emily’s living room is painted a lovely butter yellow color - when I complimented her on the choice she responded “Well, you picked it.” I did remember Adrienne and I had helped her a bit a while back. Her main bedroom is painted a deep grey rose color and the den is a sky blue (bottom two photos), so the paint colors needed to be coordinated a bit better.

I suggested she paint the den a deep golden yellow color as in Benjamin Moore’s Concord Ivory (HC 12) or Cream Yellow (2155-60). These are deeper yellows but still complimentary.

Her bedroom linens are a pretty pale pinky taupe in a sleek box pattern and I suggested we paint that room a light mocha color like Benjamin Moore’s Light Mocha (2096-60) or Frosted Cafe (2098-70). These colors are pale but they will lighten up the space considerable since she has only one very narrow, tall window.

I suggested she begin with the paints and as time progresses, we will build on some accessory ideas. Stay tuned, we will keep working on this and it soon will be a beautiful, relaxing space.


A Rose Bowl Party

On January 1st, New Year's Day, Ohio State (my favorite team) played in the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, CA. Many years ago when Mike and I lived in southern California, his parents came to visit and his Mom and I went to watch the Rose Bowl Parade. We took a bus up to Pasadena with about 50 other crazy people at 6 in the morning. We had reserved seats on the bleachers and we actually saw the entire parade – all the paper flowers and animation you can imagine.

This year we are nowhere near California, so we invited some friends over for a Rose Bowl party and to watch our Buckeyes win (something they often have trouble doing in bowl games). Well they did win and I wanted to share my menu with you in case you are having a Super Bowl party or you just like to eat.

First of all, tradition says that on New Year’s Day you must have some sauerkraut!! It brings good luck and good fortune and all that karma stuff that you don’t want to mess with. Since I wasn’t serving a formal dinner, I used the sauerkraut in some DELICIOUS Sauerkraut Balls with spicy mustard.

Here is the recipe and a photo I quickly snapped before the guests snapped up the balls.

Sauerkraut Balls

8 oz. sausage (like Bob Evans or Jimmy Dean – regular not the spicy)
1/3 c. onion finely chopped and I do mean minced
16 oz. sauerkraut that is chopped and drained but not rinsed
2 tbs. dry plain bread crumbs
4 oz. softened cream cheese
2 tbs. chopped parsley
1 garlic clove finely minced
1 tsp. yellow mustard
¼ tsp. pepper
½ c. flour
2 eggs, well beaten
¼ c. milk
1 c. or more dry plain bread crumbs
Oil for frying

Sautee sausage and onion until meat is cooked through and crumbled into tiny pieces. This gets annoying, but keep chopping at it with a spoon. Drain fat. Add rest of ingredients EXCEPT the flour, eggs, milk and 1c. crumbs. REFRIGERATE!

When firm (I refrigerate a few hours) shape into small balls (I use my melon baller thing), and coat balls with flour. Dip into milk, then into crumbs. Fry in medium hot oil until crispy, turning to crisp all sides. Just before serving, bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes.

*Becky Knows Everything: Here are a few tips, because frankly this recipe is great to eat and serve but not so easy to find time to make. These tips come from my good friend Pat Miller who makes the best sauerkraut balls ever. You must refrigerate the mix or you absolutely cannot form it into balls. They just fall apart. Make the balls small since once you coat them with flour and egg and crumbs they get so BIG. Make the day before or early in the day and refrigerate and bake when the guests arrive. They also freeze well. Serve with a spicy brown Dijon style mustard.