❄️ My picks for Winter’s Finest (Just in time for Spring)

stormtrooper kicks it with snowmen
The calendar says spring, but we’re still freezing our asses here in Carolina.

A sweet woman approached me in Target on a Saturday.

Can you tell me where your St. Patrick’s Day stuff is? She asked. That moment, we realized that today, actual St. Patrick’s Day, that the St. Patrick’s Day parade in uptown Charlotte was probably almost over and Charlotteans were likely already tipsy on green beer.

We trekked to the front of the store in search of something green to get this girl to stand out – or blend in, depending on your view.

We’d sold out of all things Kelly Green already. I gambled waiting til the last minute! She said as she shifted to Plan B, and I had a feeling this brown-eyed girl was going to be just fine. See, I know all about pushing deadlines, envelopes, carts before horses …

You know what I mean.

I’ve sat on this post a while doing anything but sitting. I’ve been job hunting and job accepting and job-first-day-dreaming a lot lately. That day was last Wednesday. It’s also, incidentally, the second day of spring, which makes timing here everything.

Sensing the seasonal shift

See, this post is about my favorite things of winter.

So, what better time than the very end of winter to post it? I’m also going to do my seasonal design change this week so all will be ready for baby chicks and pollen piles and scenes of little birds chasing big birds away from nests all over Carolina.

(Charlotte from My Pixie Blog inspired this, by the way. Here goes.)

Favorite winter recipe

Kinda-like-Chi-Chi’s Smothered chicken

It’s been a lean eating season for us, necessarily, so this indulgence stands out.

What you’ll need
  1. 4 chicken breasts, trimmed
  2. 1 pack of bacon, on sale
  3. 1 bag of Colby jack, in its entirety
  4. 1 bottle of barbecue sauce, probably not all of it, though
What you’ll do

Cut chicken breasts into strips and chunks. Season with salt and pepper. Pan sear them at low-medium heat, covered, turning occasionally.

Fry bacon in iron skillet on low-medium heat. Remove from pan and drain on paper towels. Set aside (and eat three strips for yourself, the kids will never know.)

Place drained chicken chunks in a casserole dish. Top with nearly the whole bottle of barbecue sauce, the bag of cheese and a little more pepper.

Bake at 350 for 20 minutes. Check chicken for temperature (180 degrees) and serve promptly. (It’s a good idea to have chips and salsa around in case of a kids’ revolt because they think it’s taking too long.)

Favorite New TV Show

Nailed It!

It’s a baking show that challenges contestants to recreate exquisite desserts. It features an exuberant host, fondant action, and sad trombone music when the bakers fail hard. Camdyn told me to watch the episode Big Japan because I’d love one of the contestants.

You know, she’s right? It’s comedienne Dana Moon, who has a mean sense of humor and a podcast that probably isn’t safe for work. Sigh.

Favorite Recent Movie

Into the Wild

It’s the true story of Supertramp, and his decision to shun society as we know it to trek to Alaska and live off the land. It’s all at once liberating and heartbreaking. The wandering spirit in me hitchhiked along with him in this nearly 2-and-a-half-hour movie.

The dad in me died a little at the prospect of knowing your child didn’t want to be found.

Favorite beauty product

Moco de Gorila

So, translated directly, it’s gorilla snot. I don’t use it like the young Latino boys with all that fabulous hair can. But it gives an appearance of semi-fullness and keeps me from getting wispy. Plus, gorilla snot! What boy can resist that?

New song

Zedd, Maren Morris, Grey – The Middle


I love this! I love her voice. I love the lyrics. It plays constantly when I’m at work at Target, and I associate it with good things. The sentiment carries a bit of that love angst that is hard to avoid – but only when both parties truly want what’s best for the other.

The middle. And it’s a hard place to find. Damned nearly impossible to find.

Clothing company


Yes, it’s a Target joint. I bought my first shirt out of necessity. I’d shown up for a 6 a.m. shift without a red shirt. I tried on an extra large, as is my jam for the past, oh, 30 years? Only, the extra large felt so roomy. It fit like a tent.

I looked in the mirror. It draped nearly to my knees. I looked like a guest star on Honey I Shrunk the Kids. So I pulled it off and tried a large. I haven’t fit in many large shirts since Lionel Richie crooned the original (and best) Hello.

But, it fit.

It fell just below my beltline. It clung to my arms and chest. I felt … normal. Handsome, even. Aerodynamic, definitely. And the cotton blend was perfect for six straight hours of stocking USB cables and helping soccer moms find just the right earbuds for the gym.

I decided right then and there I’d never be extra large again.


This one came from my last employer. Unfortunately, it still bears the company logo. It has a padded sleeve inside to protect my new Mac from my great new job at ACN. And pockets for essentials, such as powdered caffeine drink packs and my soccer stat book.

And with a little alteration, it becomes much more beautiful.

Guilty pleasure


That, but eating damaged Easter candy with Jess in Hardlines is a close second. (It’s just going to get thrown out anyway, Plus, Reeses’ eggs? Yum.) Possibility, in working with people who see me, at Target and ACN.

Possibility in even stronger relationships with my girls. In helping kids I coach reach rare air, competing with teams that used to crush them. Of finding what’s possible when you believe in yourself and are surrounded by those who believe in you, too.

Because before you know it, seasons change. All the more reason to seize the day – whether it’s filled with thunderstorms or sleet, bacon or food pantry fare, catchy songs or new blog themes.

It’s good to be back.

quote camus winter


  1. Yah!!! Eli! You’re back! Haven’t seen a post in a while….like I have room to talk? *sigh* 😶
    Anyhoo… so glad you found a job and things seem happy for you. Might have to try the chicken dish. We eat a lot of chicken 🍗around here and I am always looking for new ways to prepare it.
    Congrats on the smaller shirt 👕. It feels really good to go down a size. I have been working on that since last Aug and I have gone down 6! Good problem… nothing in my closet fits! 🙌 On the other hand that is a bad problem too!! 👎
    I’m so happy Spring is finally here!! 🌾💐
    Have an awesome week dearest!! 😙💕

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Hello, stranger! Great to see you here. I have read your most recent post. I check in sometimes just in case!

      Yes, so happy and relieved about the job. This place rocks. I really can’t wait to contribute here and get dug in.

      Chicken dish is highly recommended. I post another 10 or 11, I might do the first Coach Daddy Cook Book.

      It does feel good to go down a size. Different from being downsized, actually. The job search left me a tad lean and mean apparently.

      Hope your week is awesome, CW. Look forward to posting your guest blog!

  2. Beth says:

    Welcome back Eli! I have missed your posts! And yes, winter is hanging on up here in good old Minnesota too. We should expect this here but man it stinks. I want spring. That chicken recipe sounds amazing, I might have to give that a try!

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Thanks, Beth! I’ve missed your words, too. It was in the 30s today and we have a 6 p.m. kickoff tonight against our rival.

      I’m not predicting a tropical warmup by then. Hope the girls packed their long johns.

      Let me know if you try the recipe out … I think your family would love it.

  3. Charlotte says:

    I have missed you buddy!!! So glad to be back here, drinking in your words. How’ve you been?! Tell me all the things! Your post made me smile wide, mainly because I had something to do with inspiring a recipe! Also I love those cooking shows. I haven’t seen one in ages but there’s one with these master kid chefs and I always think “is that possible? Can I one day train my child to make me these incredible meals?!”

    I’m ever the procrastinator; it’s no wonder we get along 🙂 have a great week, and congrats on fitting in a large (and no more “Honey, I shrunk the Kids!” clothing—oooh! A movie I’ve seen before!).

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      I’ve missed you too, Charlotte! I woke up in the middle of the night and just had to wrap up this post. Thanks for the inspiration!

      Can’t wait to get back and drink in your words, too. Those kid chefs are amazing. I thought of them as I burned my scrambled eggs just this morning.

  4. Just wanted to say I love that photo!

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Glad you do, friend – it’s all about the ‘troopers.

  5. I’m glad that this new season has found you large and in charge of what’s happening to you right now, in this very instant, and that the buds on the trees that will soon peek out are just a sign of what’s to come in all your new tomorrows. And when I say “Happy Spring!” to you, what I’m really saying is “Happy New Life, Eli.” – C

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      I love that description, Corey – and it feels like a lot of my life’s sad chapters have been written in the spring. This time, it’s different.

      Happy New Life. That has a good ring to it.

  6. ksbeth says:

    so happy to see you again, eli and to see that things are on the upswing for you – and congrats on the large!

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Glad to have you here, Beth – I’d like to stick around if I could!

  7. So glad you’re back!!! And it’s awesome that you’re working at Target. I worked there for a couple of years, and I loved it. Unfortunately, those retail hours just about killed me, but the job, the company, and the people were the best. I did, however, get rid of every piece of red and khaki I owned once I quit. Ha! I still love shopping there, and love that Longfellow brand for my husband. I got him an awesome shirt/jacket thing on clearance.
    It still feels a lot like winter here in Wisconsin, so your post is right on time!

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Thanks, Shann! I want to keep the part-time gig at Target. Lots of positives there. What department did you work in?

      It’s kind of like my gym where I get paid to get in my steps! Target clearance is one of the most heavenly things this side of cheeseburgers and January Jones.

      Our store gets to wear jeans instead of khakis on weekends. Don’t hate.

  8. Kathy G says:

    Thrilled to see you pop up in my reader today!

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Thrilled to be in it, Kathy – and to see you here! I’m going to try and stick around even.

  9. Welcome back, Eli! I always wondered what happened to damaged bags of candy in stores; and if I visit your Target, I’ll accidentally run my big red cart over a bag of Reese’s!

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Great to be back, Deb – and it’ll be even better to get back to your words! Do you still do the Wednesday thing?

      Someone has to put these poor souls out of their misery. And your spirit of sacrifice for the good of those of us who have to straighten Target shelves and put back the put backs is wholeheartedly appreciated!

  10. Akaleistar says:

    The Kinda-like-Chi-Chi’s Smothered chicken recipe sounds delicious 🙂

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Plus, you don’t have to leave a tip (or wait for your Diet Coke to be refilled!)

  11. Welcome back! Thanks for the treats of food, music, and your heart. Love the Maven Morris song!

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      It’s so good to be home! It’s so good to see you here, too. That Maven Morris song sticks in your head, in a good way, doesn’t it?

      1. Save a plate of that chicken for me!

  12. Happy you are back, Eli. You were missed. Sounds like you’ve been on an adventure! Looking forward to your posts.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      So great to be back, Carrie. I missed my family here! It has been a journey – I journaled through it all with the intent of posting some of them, but I’m not sure they’re really good for public consumption!

      Look forward to getting back to your words, too, Carrie.

      1. So glad you journaled through it. You never know what you have in your writings that will touch another. You are a gifted writer, after all.

      2. Eli Pacheco says:

        There is one post I might use on Monday … thank you so much for saying so.

  13. mocadeaux says:

    So good to see you, Eli! Your handbag story echoes my son-in-law’s experience with a jacket from his former employer: ditch the old logo – keep the great SWAG!

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      You too, Mo! It’s been too long. Yes to great swag that we can cover logos on. I’m not bitter about the employment breakup, and still wear my RV shirts too.

  14. And here I was, thinking I’d been missing out on your recent posts because life has been hectic on my end… So welcome back! I’m sorry to hear things were tough for a little while. But it sounds like you have a new job now, and I hope the first few weeks go smoothly and that you’re happy there.

    Nailed It! sounds scrumptious. Too bad I don’t have Netflix… But maybe that’s a good thing. Watching the show would probably goad me into eating more sweets! XD

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      We both got caught up in the race, didn’t we Sara? Things got rocky, but I’m in such a better place.

      Nailed It! is hilarious, too. Think Pinterest fails, left and right. I don’t need to be goaded a bit into eating more sweets … Camdyn just tonight didn’t need much effort to talk me into getting a honey bun for us to share on the way home from soccer training!

  15. It’s good to see you back, and in as good if not better form than ever.

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.