Tuesday, July 24, 2012

FriedOkra's Sopa de Pollo: Hot Soup, Cool Characters

FriedOkra's Sopa de Pollo


It's too hot to make soup, y'all.  And probably even more too hot to eat it.  But I love me some soup, and sometimes I just have to have it, even if it means sitting with both elbows the cool granite counter-tip, panting and wiping my brow, with those weird half-circles of sweat under my boobs and schmears of mascara under my eyes.

I justified making this soup while I was in Virginia with my sister by explaining to her that it's Mexican, and Mexicans eat it year-round - in Mexico - and it's always hot in Mexico.  So therefore we could extrapolate that this soup is actually intended to be a hot-weather meal.

(I have no idea if any of the aforementioned "facts" are actual facts, because I totally made them all up on the spot.  But my sister ate the soup, and I ate the soup, and my niece ate the soup, and we all made a lot of really happy sounds while we ate, and yes, there was brow-mopping and sweat-sideburns, but there was absolutely no complaining.  CERO!)

Also, this soup contains three of the coolest characters ever in culinary-land -- cilantro, avocado and lime.

Did I just see you shiver a nice refreshingly-chilly shiver?  See?  Hace mucho frio, y'all.

Sopa de Pollo


1 whole chicken, washed and giblet sack removed
1 large carrot
1 large stalk celery
1 onion, quartered
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 large bay leaf
fresh pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2 large fresh tomatoes, diced
1 large jalapeno pepper, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bunch cilantro
sliced fresh avocado
grated cheddar cheese
sour cream


Make chicken broth:  Place chicken in a large stockpot or dutch oven and cover with water (You will need at least 10 cups of stock to make the soup, so plan accordingly).  Break carrot and celery into pieces and add to water.  Add quartered onion, whole garlic cloves, bay leaves, and a few grinds of pepper to water.  Bring to boil and reduce heat, cover and simmer for two hours.

Cool broth, strain liquid from solids and set broth aside, remove vegetables, chicken bones and skin from chicken and discard. Set chicken aside.

In a stockpot, heat oil and add onion, diced tomatoes and jalapenos.  Allow to simmer and cook until onions are translucent and soft (5-10 minutes). Finely chop about 2 tablespoons of the cilantro and add with the minced garlic to onions and tomatoes. Allow to cook 2 more minutes.

Add 10 cups of the chicken broth to the onion mixture and allow to simmer 10-15 minutes.  Season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper.  (I use a heaping teaspoon of salt, but I like things pretty salty.) Stir in chicken and allow to heat through.

Into each individual bowl, place a handful of broken corn chips, 10-15 leaves of cilantro, and a few slices of avocado.  Ladle soup over these ingredients and then top with a dollop of sour cream, a squeeze of fresh lime juice and a sprinkling of grated cheddar. Serve immediately.

With plenty of ice-cold cerveza, por favor.

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Monday, July 23, 2012

Motherhood This Week: On Not Bungling the Blessing of Normal


I wrote a lot of dreamy posts about summer back in May and June.  And my thrill over time together with the kids (all day, every day, on and on and on) lasted about a month, and then I started getting burned out on all the togetherness, and the whining, and the sameness of the days.  The weather's been hot and dry, the pool water has grown warm, we've baked fifty-leven batches of cookies, and I've rinsed the stickiness of three econo-sized boxes of frozen fruit pops off the back porch stairs and un-crusted several cans of PlayDoh from the playroom carpet.

I'll be honest, I'd begun to feel a little Dudes, I think it's time for you two to go stay at Grandma's for a while-ish, if you know what I mean.

And then I went to visit my sister in Virginia.  The sister with the son who has been in the hospital almost perpetually since late March.  The sister whose summer, full of complicated medical charts, IV beeps, broken hospital sleep, bad hospital food and constant, relentless worry, has been anything but boring.  Anything but normal.

I was standing at my kitchen sink this morning, with a child whining in each ear about what he and she did and didn't want for breakfast, bickering over the pink cup, asking me for already the hundredth time that day, What-are-we-gonna-do-ooo-ooo-today-Mo-o-om? and I started wondering  just how much Grandma-time it'd take for me to get back to my glowy summer mode again.   More than Grandma could give me, I surmised.  And then I thought about my sister, who is away from at least one, and if not that one then the other four of her kids, for three or four days at a stretch, who spends her days cooped up and isolated in a hospital room, dealing with sick, sad, scary stuff no child or parent should ever have to endure, and wishing for some day-to-day, dragging-on-and-on, one-after-another summer days with her family together at home, free and normal.

This pretty much shut me up about Grandma-time.

I'm glowing again, by the sheer force of gratitude and empathy.  I will not bungle the blessing of normal.  I will not overlook for a moment the peaceful simplicity of days-on-end sameness.  I will love what is special about every redundant moment, and cherish a child in each ear, whining and bickering or not, and even send up thanks for that knock on my bathroom door mid-stream, banged out by a child who is home, and healthy, and blissfully unappreciative of everything he has been given, and not been given, this summer.

As luck would have it, my sister Jackie and sweet Owen spoke this morning on NPR's Morning Edition about how Child Life Specialists help make their time in the hospital a little bit more normal.  

Give them a listen here:

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Saturday, July 21, 2012

Weekend Style: Good to Be Home Edition, Plus Thoughts on My Visit with My Sister

Weekend Style: Good to Be Home Edition

The kids and I are home from visiting with my sister and brother-in-law and all of the cousins in Virginia, and we're planning a calm, cozy, cool weekend mostly at home, to rest and reconnect and get ready for a busy last few weeks of summer. Were I to pop on whatever I wanted today, to lounge a little, play a little, unpack and clean up a little, the above outfit would totally float my homebody-ish boat. I'd keep it on tonight to watch a movie on the sofa with Al, and that's probably the only time I'd need to don the cute striped terry jacket.

We had a such great trip. My two kids traveled beautifully and spent the week playing with and snuggling up to their cousins, aunt and uncle. These kids just grow so much between visits, it's shocking and bittersweet but full-on awe-inspiring to see my sister's babies, tiny, precious bundles each of whom I held and adored for many hours, growing into actual (beautiful, funny, sweet, charming, helpful) people, with thoughts and dreams and opinions and phones and Facebook pages of their own.

I'd love to have stayed longer; being with my sister grounds me in ways nothing else really can, as she and I are, well ... sisters. Our shared history means that so much of what goes on in my head seems to go on in hers simultaneously, and that just comforts and delights me. I'm not an alien after all, or at least if I am, at least there's one other person here from my home planet. I loved cooking some of her favorite comfort foods and just sitting back and watching her enjoy them. I know what good, nostalgic food made by someone who loves you can do for a tired, parched, stretched-thin soul, and being able to do that for Jackie in light of everything she has going on in her life right now? Well, it's about the most deeply satisfying and fulfilling feeling I can imagine ever carrying within the confines of human skin and bone.

Much to my surprise, Owen can have have adult visitors in the hospital besides his parents, so I spent a brief half-hour with him at Children's in DC as my sister and brother-in-law made their shift-change one afternoon. Owen seems to be recovering well so far after his bone marrow transplant earlier this month, and I'm still just oozing pure joy over getting to and hug him and kiss his head and deliver some new Legos to him. Seeing him and touching him and getting a tiny smile shined my way has renewed my determination to will and pray him to health, and to someday soon go spend time with him AT HOME, where I plan to shower him and his family with all of their favorite things for days on end.

I'm keeping this vision of celebrating Owen's recovery from cancer and its grueling treatment very close in my mind and heart all the time, no matter what else I'm doing or thinking. It's my main motivation and inspiration right now. How could it not be?

I got to visit Owen today!  He's doing well and it was amazing to get spend some time with him.

I hope to be back to blogging regularly this next week. Tell me how you've been lately, and what is in your mind and heart. I've missed hearing from you!

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Thursday, July 12, 2012

Spring Fashion Flashback, Just for Fun

I had these old actual-camera, non-slanted pictures of three outfits from spring lying around and thought I'd share them. The pictures were for a guest post I was working on to show some of my favorite Target finds back in March or April, but the guest post fell through (not in a bad way, just in a this-won't-work-right-now way.) Target moves clothes in and out of their stores at such a quick pace it's hard to buy, photograph and share them before they're sold out, and some styles I see in stores never seem to make it to their on-line site or vice versa.

This is not me complaining about Target, it's me trying to justify showing you three month old pictures of me wearing clothes you might like but you can't buy anymore and have you still love me.

That's why I do everything when you get right down to it. So you'll love me.

(And now you know the depths of my neuroses. Welcome to crazy!  Pull-up a chair.)


Y'all have seen this eyelet skirt a time or two. It's been one of my favorite pieces this season. In this outfit I wanted to dress it up and play with its texture a bit, so I paired it with a crochet sweater, straw clutch and woven shoes. I loved how it all worked together, but ma-aa-an, I sure wish I'd put on some darker lipstick for the photos.

Eyelet skirt - Target
Crochet top - vintage (thrifted)
Floral blouse - Old Navy
Jewelry and straw bag - Charming Charlie
Shoes - Hinge via Nordstrom


(Ghosty much?)

Other ways I've styled the skirt:

Fridays ootd: Keeping my eyelet on you!  Eyelet skirt and trench, Target.  Pink gingham shirt, H&M.  Mesh Oxford, Hinge via Nordstrom. Belt, J. Crew

Felt pretty conspicuous in this at the bus stop with all the other moms and dads in running shorts and trainers.  Target eyelet skirt, Old Navy striped tank ($8 bogo this week!), Polo boys' gingham shirt and b.o.c red sandals.


I've worn these polka-dot shorts from Target fairly frequently.  They've been so fun, but they were an example of an item I found on line, bought immediately, never saw in my local store, and then discovered to be sold out within days. I guess other people liked 'em too.

White jacket - H & M
Blue bow blouse and polka skort - Target
Shoes - vintage (thrifted)

(As you can imagine, with two little kids and a half-a-day watermelon habit, this is really not a white-blazer season of my life, but I do love this jacket. Sometimes I get it out and put it on over my pajamas - also from Target, by the way - right before I go to bed, and stand around like I'm standing in the picture above, while Al tries to see around me to watch King of Queens on the bedroom TV. And then I sigh and put the jacket back on the hanger, cover it with a dry cleaning bag, knot the bag at the bottom, and hide the whole thing in the back of my closet.)

(Keepin' it real here.)

Other ways I've styled the skort:

Ootd Thursday: Berry picking with the kids.

Saturday's ootd: Like a clear blue sky on a blue, blue day.  Polka dot skirt, Target.  Denim shirt, vintage Levi's (thrifted), sandals BOC, yellow bauble watch CC, bracelet Tiffany & Co.


I'm starting to really miss jeans, are y'all? This Target top works so well in a simple outfit with cropped skinnies and a smattering of jewelry. For some reason, I just don't love it as much with shorts (which are currently mandatory), probably because of its longer length and bias cut.  Most of my shorts have wider legs to help minimize my thighs, so I can't pair them with a flowy top like this without just looking sloppy and droopy. But with pants that fit closely like these? Totally different story.

Top - Target
Toothpick jeans - J. Crew
Bag - Audrey Brooke via DSW
Shoes - Hinge via Nordstrom
Jewelry - a hodge-podge of Charming Charlie, Target and Lia Sophia


I am SO wearing this top every day in September.  I'll show you other ways I style it then.

I'll likely be scarce around here next week as the kids and I are going to visit my sister in Virginia. My nephew Owen has had a bone marrow transplant and is recovering at Children's in DC, so we'll be helping care for the rest of the family and just soaking them up, as we haven't seen any of them in nearly a year. We're all very excited to get there and hug and love on the cousins and swim and eat and play and commune with our people.  YAY!

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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Fall Style Must Haves: 3 Pieces to Add Now

I'm so excited to be sharing my first style post over at Simple Design today. Click on the picture above to come on over and see three simple but wearable pieces I'll be adding to my fall wardrobe to bring it on-trend for cooler weather in the next few months! Believe it or not, it's time to start thinking about and planning for another beautiful autumn, both inside your closet and out.

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Thursday, July 5, 2012

Insta-Friday: Daily Reminders

Surprised and happy to have our sweet Daddy with us at the farmers market today!

The three people whose love is always working to shape me into my best self.
These three faces and souls are the breathing, growing, daily reminders to focus my energies on the beauty and goodness in myself and my world, to nurture it and make it bloom.

Fresh flowers from the farmers market saying "good morning!"

Fresh flowers from the farmer's market saying Good Morning from the kitchen table.


A blue sky over our heads as we walk cool satin-ribbon-shade sidewalks to the park.

Queen Anne's Lace.  Just plain pretty...

Queen Anne sitting in a frothy dollop of elegant lace.  A gentle reminder of happy days past, woven into today.  

Daisies are the friendliest flower, don't you think?  #noraephron

Bright, true daisies.  As hearty and resistant and forever as heart-kept friendships tested by time and distance.  Clear, crisp and familiar, growing up wild but so intentionally on a new path I think I'm forging alone.

Art al fresco while Daddy mans the grill.

Her color and vibrance take new shapes as she grows into herself.   My eyes love being full of her.  She's nestled in the corners of my every smile.


He's my belly laugh and my excuse to sit still and be loved back.

And his quiet breathing, my peace with myself and every other thing.

Annual Peck Farm visit with the Hookers!

Days fly by, vivid, washed in sunlight, alive with anticipation and the simple joy of promises fulfilled.
I savor and cherish the notion that just-tradition, just-this, is such grandeur.

Celebratory cookie baking!

That what we've always done keeps delivering just cause for giddy celebration.

Too many words for instagram.  This one will have to wait for the blog.

That love goes everywhere with us.  It sits on yellow benches with us, and lights us up so bright it makes us glow.

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Wednesday, July 4, 2012

W(MM)WW: The One Bean Narrates

Good Morning, this is Bean.  (For those of you who don't know Bean, she is my seven-year-old daughter and blogger-in-the-making.)

 It's Wednesday, the Fourth of July -- the day that we all go in my back yard and watch the fireworks, roast marshmallows and chill, and the only time that Dads and Moms who work are home on Wednesday. (Except for Dads and Moms who work at home, and they are always home on Wednesdays. I just meant parents who work at an office.)

Me and Mom are going to be doing a wardrobe picture later today and we hope you like it. For now, I'm going to show you what Mom wore this week.

Friday opts

Dress - Old Navy
Shoes - B. O. C via DSW
Necklace - Lia Sophia
Bracelet - Target

This specific outfit has the wonder of light colors and stripes, with dark red heels and a wonderfully beautifully circle-y necklace and a pretty red bracelet.  There's a vacuum cleaner in the back ground.  WHAT!?  A vacuum?  HUH?

Ootd Saturday.

Jeans - Old Navy
Shirt - T. J. Maxx
Wedges - Payless
Necklace - Old Navy
Bracelet - Charming Charlie

This outfit is a very well put-together piece of art. (!!) It has the bright and dark colors mixed together, and it should be presented in an art museum.  It has bright orange shoes called wedges.  We went to brunch at the place with the chicks and hens all over it.  I had a very yummy fried egg, sunny side up, with two sausage links (Peabody ate one of them) and a BIG, HUGE waffle.  I finished it all!

Sunday ootd   :)

Top - Old Navy sale rack 
Sequinned tank dress - Victoria's Secret
Flip-flops - Old Navy
Belt - J. Crew
Jewelry - Charming Charlie

This is your narrator again, and I am telling you, that this is one great, colorful, amazing-looking outfit.  Look at those starfish on the flip-flops and the orange belt against the ugly grey dress!  It makes the dress look like it's a rainbow!  The bracelet and the necklace are popping out like clouds and good grades!  The shirt is so good I don't even know what to say!

Ootd Monday

Crochet sweater - vintage
Silk shell - LOFT
Shorts - LOFT
Sandals - Guess via DSW

Look at those colorful shorts.  I love the little miniature holes in the shirt.  This day was so hot that we had to go to the pool.  And there weren't that many people at the pool because they all thought it was TOO hot.  There were only like FIVE people at the pool.

Welp, that's it for the day, I'm gonna be kickin' back at the pool now.

And that's What my Mom Wore last week!  She'll also be linking this post to Fashion Friday and the casual Friday link-up at Two-Thirty-Five Designs.

Hey, don't forget to LIKE Mom's FriedOkra Facebook page to find more daily outfit ideas, check out all her fashion-and-beauty related Pinterest finds, and find links to her favorite posts from other style bloggers and much more.

You KNOW you need to leave Mom some Comment Lovin' down there. Comments are better than money to bloggers, and I have no idea why. But if you leave her a comment, she'll know where to find you, so she can come love on your style, too.

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