696 Months

How old is Little Junior, we ask the mother of a babe-in-arms. When a baby is small, their age is counted in weeks. She’s 2 weeks old, or he’s 6 weeks old, the proud mother replies. At some point it becomes months. Six months old or 9 months old or 13 months old. I think that ends at 2 years old, when the child’s age finally becomes measured in years.

It’s really a good thing, because it’s not nearly as adorable to tell you that we celebrated my sister Jen’s birthday on Monday, and she turned 696 months old. Nothing precious about that. But the birthday celebration was lots of fun, no matter how many months old she was.

I think Jen and I have celebrated each other’s birthdays together most of the years since she was born 696 months ago because we have lived close together most of our lives. It’s fun now because Bill and I are in Arizona in late December for my brother’s birthday  and in January for my sister Bec’s birthday, so now I’m able to celebrate with my whole family.

Hey, don’t laugh. Birthdays are big deals. I must admit, however, that unlike my grandkids – who will tell you that they are 7 and A HALF or 5 and A HALF, I am perfectly content to omit the half and keep my lower age for as long as I possibly can. You will never hear me tell a single solitary soul that I am 61-and-a-half.

And can I tell you that as much as I enjoy birthdays and birthday celebrations, is there anything more depressing than the day after your birthday? I mean, no gifts, the cake (should there be any left) is day-old and dried out, you find confetti lodged under your kitchen countertops, and you’re a year older. Sigh.

Having said all of that, let me tell you about our celebration.

Bill and I went to Fort Collins and cooked for Jen and her son B.J. at her house. As unlikely as it seems, I actually offered appetizers (something I’m notorious in my family for not remembering to do), and we toasted her birthday with champagne….

Jen birthday girl

….and no, not all three glasses were hers!

I had given her a selection of potential meals from which to choose. Explaining that she was currently on a French food kick (you know, French fries, French dressing, French toast), she chose Chicken au Champagne. I served it with haricot verts and a salad with a lovely sweet and tangy vinaigrette.  Ooo la la.

As for her birthday cake, she chose an angel food cake served with whipped cream and toffee chips. Despite Bill’s shock and horror that someone would choose something other than chocolate cake when given the option, he managed to choke down two pieces. Surprise, surprise…..

angel food cake

Chicken au Champagne (adapted from cookingwithcurls.com)

1 T. olive oil
4 – 6 chicken breasts or thighs (skin on, bone-in)
Salt and black pepper to taste
1 large shallot, minced
1 c. Brut Champagne
2 T. butter
1 c. sliced mushrooms
2 T. chopped fresh tarragon
1 lemon

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Heat olive oil in a large oven-proof skillet. Season chicken pieces with salt and pepper to taste. Add chicken to skillet, skin side down, and sear until golden brown, about 3 or4 minutes. Turn over and finish searing until other side is browned.

Remove chicken to a plate.

Add minced shallots to the pan and cook until they are softened, about 1 minute. Remove pan from heat and add the champagne. Scrape the bottom of the pan to loosen all of the cooked bits. Place the chicken back into the pan, baste with the champagne sauce and place in the oven. Bake uncovered for 35 to 40 minutes, or until thoroughly cooked.

Meanwhile, heat butter in a large skillet. Add the mushrooms and cook for 5 minutes or until they are softened.

Remove chicken from the oven and add the sautéed mushrooms. Stir in the tarragon. Drizzle with the juice of a lemon.

Serve with noodles or mashed potatoes.

chicken au champagne

Nana’s Notes: I used a mixture of shitake and oyster mushrooms because that’s what I had in my refrigerator. I’m not fancy, but I had planned on making a meal last week that involved a mixture of wild mushrooms that never got prepared. Any kind of mushrooms will work. I suggest you don’t substitute white wine for the champagne as the flavor will not be the same and a mean Frenchman will come and slap you silly. However, don’t tell that Frenchman, but I didn’t use a French champagne; instead I used a sparkling wine. C’est la vie.

And, by the way, I will be turning 744 months on my next birthday, not even close to the 876 months Bill will be turning in a few weeks. 

Thursday Thoughts

I Think I Heard a Noise in the Attic
I’ve been experiencing some upper back/neck pain the past couple of days. Nothing serious; probably related to my arthritis. Anyhoo, yesterday morning I was lying on my bed waiting for the Ibuprofen to kick in and staring at the ceiling. Suddenly I had a flashback memory that made me start laughing. One day, not too long after we had moved into the house, Bill was working on the attic. He had already put in a pull-down stair/ladder so that we could access the entrance easily. (Well, fairly easily since it’s in my closet which is always a mess, requiring that we shove aside multiple pairs of my shoes in order to put the stairway down.) He was in the process of putting in a floor so that we could actually walk around the attic and look for our Christmas decorations, etc. When I got home from work that evening, I went upstairs to get changed and noticed there had been extensive work done to our bedroom ceiling. “What’s going on?” I asked him. “Oh, nothing really,” he said. “I went through the ceiling of the bedroom this morning, but I repaired it.” Yesterday as I laid on the bed, I had such a clear image of his leg falling through the ceiling that I couldn’t stop giggling. Thank goodness he wasn’t hurt. Oh, Bill. His guardian angel must be every bit as tired at night as my grandkids’ angels.

A Light in the Attic
And speaking of the attic, I have to tell you that there is nothing the grandkids like better than going up into our attic to explore. And let me just tell you, my attic isn’t like something out of a wonderful suspense novel. There are no antique bureaus holding treasure maps or old letters. No secret diaries or crazy wives. Not a single ghost. It’s very small, and mostly taken up by our whole-house fan. There is room enough for our Christmas decorations and a few other bits and pieces, and not much more. But each and every grandchild thinks it is wonderfully exciting and borderline dangerous to climb that ladder to the attic. They walk around for a bit and then come back down and eagerly await the next time Nana says they can go into her attic.

They Say It’s Your Birthday

Today is a special day for 4-year-old Mylee. Oops, I mean 5-year-old Mylee. Today she celebrates her birthday. I struggle to come to grips with each grandchild growing older. Can you imagine that Addie is 12?  But for some reason, I simply can’t believe that little Mylee – my little firecracker – is now 5 years old. She will start school in August, and that simply can’t be so! Happy birthday Mylee.

Mylee Zoo 2015

And Speaking of Birthdays….
My mother-in-law had her 98th birthday yesterday. Here she is with her BFF Margaret. Happy birthday Wilma!

Wilma Margaret

Come Inside; It’s Fun Inside
After Bill finished the outdoor kitchen at our house in Arizona, he proclaimed that it was going to be a very long time before he again embarked on such a project. Well, apparently for him, a very long time means approximately three months. This time his project is a playhouse for the grandkids. A number of years ago, our daughter-in-law Jll was given a wooden playset that included a lofty sort of thing over a sandbox that is accessed via a ladder, with a slide to get back down. She asked us if we wanted to put it in our yard, and we enthusiastically agreed. It has provided literally hours of fun for the grandkids, as evidenced by this photo….

Girl Cousins

Well, the wood is getting weathered and things are starting to fall off. My plan was to leave it up for another summer or so, and then remove the entire thing. Well, Papa, of course, had a different plan. His involved building a playhouse for the kids. And so construction has begun. Just as with the outdoor kitchen, he begins work early in the morning and finishes late afternoon. I can’t believe how amazing it looks. The so-called playhouse will undoubtedly become a clubhouse in no time.

Bill playhouse


Summer Olympics 2020, Here We Come
Tiny little Dagny was victorious in yesterday’s dive meet and will represent Eastmoor Swim Club at State! Yay Miss Dagny Tess!

Dagny medal