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Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Serendipity

The neighbor on the corner had a tree that fell and the roots had grown around the water main that feeds the entire neighborhood. Today has been a constant clanging of trucks, backhoes and a cotillion of workers most of who have been sitting on the lawn of the neighbor directly across the street from the fallen tree.

Other than the mounds of mud that is floating down the gutter in front of my house, and difficultly maneuvering around all the trucks and heavy equipment,  I had not been impacted by the event until__They shut the water off!!!

Since we will have no water through the night that only means one thing.  DINING OUT!!!
So glad I had several errands to do this morning and am fully dressed, hair done and made up like a painted lady. Plus it is Fat Tuesday__anything goes!

Sunday, February 11, 2018

New To Me Recipe:Week 6

One of my goals for 2018 is to try a new to me recipe each week. As I mentioned when I first started this, even a sauce or dressing counts as a recipe. I put the blame for this recipe on the backs of Son2 and GF2. They ate lunch at a local restaurant and came home singing the praises of a sauce they had with falafel called skhug. I had never heard of it before, so of course I had to try and find how to make it.

It turns out it is a sauce originally from Yemen that made it ways to Israel, and has fast become one of the countries most popular sauces. It is spelled several ways, Skhug, Schug, or Zhug. It can be either red or green (depending on the amount and color of peppers you use) and it is a thick albeit spicy condiment. It is not the prettiest sauce I have ever seen, but the taste more than makes up for it

Use it on falafel, shawarma, mixed with a little mayo as a sandwich spread, mixed with a little whole grain mustard as a binder for chicken salad. Also try it on eggs, or with a cheese and bread plate. It is incredibly delicious slathered on hot cooked chicken.

If you are not a fan of heat in your dishes you might try this using 1/4 of a jalapeno that has been seeded and had the ribs removed ( since that is where the heat lives)
. I found several recipes online and they are all similar with slight differences. This is a compilation of about 3 different ones, since I was going to only use what I had on hand.

This is a snap to make,

Zhug

2 bunches cilantro (leaves and stems), chopped.
1 bunch parsley (leaves only)
4  green chiles If you want really hot stuff move on up to some of the reds
2 medium cloves garlic, peeled
Juice of 1 1/2 lemons
Juice of 1 lime
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
Salt

Put the cilantro and parsley into a food processor using the blade attachment. Whirl it for a few seconds until it is coarsely chopped (I processed mine too long). Add the peppers and garlic and whirl about 20 seconds. Toss in the lemon juice, lime juice and the oil along with the spices and salt. Whirl about 30 more seconds and it is ready for you to enjoy.

I imagine you could mess with this up and down the ingredient list and make it your own. Several recipes said to use 4 cloves of garlic. I did and those people are either huge fans of raw garlic or my cloves were gigantic. I had to go back to the store and buy more cilantro, parsley and chiles, so I essentially doubled this recipe, just to knock out some of the strong garlic flavor.  I think for someone like me who had never eaten it before 2 cloves is plenty. If you make it and find it too tame for your garlic tastes, by all means, bump up the amount .

I have had it several times since I made it and really do love it. The recipe makes about 3/4 of a pint mason jar. I washed the jar, then ran some boiling water in it to kill any lurking cooties. I spooned it in the jar and have a very tight lid on it.  Some recipes say it will last at least 2 weeks in the fridge, others say one week. I am living dangerously and will keep it a week and a half before I toss it. I am pretty sure I will be making this on a regular basis, but I will probably cut the recipe in half in hopes that we will finish it all without having to throw any out.

I have only eaten this in my chicken salad and on top of some baked chicken. It was insanely delicious in both of those, but Son2 at it with falafel and on pita bread. He absolutely loved it.

Spread your wings and try something different this week! Life is short and there are so many things for us to enjoy if we just try them.

p.s. This is probably a really bad food to eat right before a date, business meeting or a wedding.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Scored Finally

I never get the bargains like some of you do, probably because I don't put the time and research into it. I will never be like Sluggy, who has saving and getting things for virtually nothing down to an art, but I know I could do better.

Last night I was cleaning out my backpack and wallet. I had thrown junk into them and it drives me nuts until I get it neatened again. While I was cleaning I found 16 dollars in Extra Bucks from CVS. 11 of them has expiration dates this week, I had to go to the post office anyway, (Granddaughters must have their Valentines box on time) and CVS is across the street from the p.o. so I figured I would stop in an see if they had anything I might need. Plus I was afraid if I didn't stop in today I would lose them, since next week is jam packed with things I have to do and CVS might not be in my wheel house.

I have to purchase products for Mom sometimes and I always put them on my card. She pays for them but I keep whatever cash rewards accrue and use them for my personal purchases.  I have done a lot for her lately so today I went and picked up 5 items I needed/wanted and used the Extra Bucks. I bought 16.34 cents in products and paid for them with 16 Extra Bucks. I was out .34 and with tax so my total o.o.p. purchase was .99. In addition some of the purchases I made for Mom a couple of weeks ago had a delayed Extra Buck earning. When I finished at the cash register I accumulated $14 from purchases I made for her 2 weeks ago! Bingo!

Today the "found" money turned into Turtles for TheHub for Valentines, a grate for my kitchen sink drain, a couple of personal items for me (make-up remover and cotton balls), and an Elsa (from Frozen) diary with lock and key for those secret thoughts all little girls have,  (clearance item for 1.50) which I am going to stick in my Christmas stash.

And now I have chocolate to give TheHub, and a Christmas present and was out a total of 99 cents. I can't wait to see what this weeks CVS ad has. I need a couple of things but will wait until I can earn EB, and I have until the 28th to use the $14. Here's hoping for good ads!

p.s. Should I tell TheHub I spent a total of 55 cents on his Valentines Day ?

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Whoopee Doopie

This has been a week of surprises, some good and some not so good. My washing machine (the one that overflowed on Saturday is repairable but the parts alone are 455 bucks, excluding labor. Additionally one of the parts is backordered and there is no date on when it will be available.  TheHub and I had decided any repair over 400 dollars was probably not worth investing in a 12 year old washer, so I spent a couple of days researching and shopping.

We have plans to move from this house in the next five years. Ultimately we will use the lake place as our Alabama home and will have a second residence in Portland, so I was looking for a good mid range washer that I can include with the house when we sell it. It seems the local dealers (including the big box dealers) tend to stock the lower priced washers or the big boys that can do everything in the world except whistle Dixie while washing your duds. My option was to bite the bullet and go with a crap model, spring for the super jet machine or order what I wanted and wait. I chose to order and wait, but this means I will be washerless for at least a week.

Mom lives very close to me (about 2 blocks as the crow flies, but luckily there is a big hill and winding roads that make is about a half mile in reality) and would love for me to bring all my laundry to her house to wash. It is so kind of her to offer and I will take her up on the offer, but today I have 3 large loads of towels used for getting the water out of the laundry room plus another load of towels we have used over the last few days in addition to normal clothing laundry. If I go to her house we have to do laundry and have a tea party and 4 loads of towels will turn into an all day event. I will take some of my clothes another day but today I am taking the path of least resistance.

I don't know the last time I was in a laundromat, but I think it might have been when Son3 was a toddler and we were without power for about 8 days. (Collateral damage from a hurricane that made its way pretty far inland)  Son3 graduated from college last spring, so, doing the quick math, it has been quite a while.

I loaded the towels and will head to the laundromat as soon as I finish typing this. I was about to fish all the quarters out of my spare change bank, but I googled laundromats to see where one was. (You know how you don't "see" things you don't need? I had no idea where one close to me was, since the one I used over 20 years ago has been gone a long time) I am so glad I checked because quarters are passé and I can use my credit card to purchase a laundry card. I don't have to lug a bag of quarters in addition to my laundry. I call that a major win.  I also guess it will take more than 25 cents to wash a load and probably more than a dime for 10 minutes of drying time.  Still factoring in time and money, this will be money well spent.

Now on to the pleasant surprises of the week thus far.

Publix (grocery chain) has deeply discounted Bryers Christmas seasonal ice cream. This is wonderful on two fronts. Ice cream is not a huge temptation for me. I like it occasionally but it is not one of those foods that screams at me like chocolate chip cookies do. They have cinnamon,  and caramel praline (I think) for 1.75 in the fake quart size (Do they honestly think we have not noticed they resized it and are paying more for less product?) It seems both of those flavors are big hits with the ice cream eaters here so I bought several of each, wrapped them in plastic wrap and have them in the back of the freezer for later.

On a similar note, an ice cream eater was looking through the big freezer for ice cream, (no one but me usually even opens that freezer ) and found my box of G.S. Thin Mints. I am doing whole30 right now and those were waiting patiently for day 31. Now I have to either find a girl scout who still has cookies left, buy some on the black market, or just do without (not going to happen).




A big surprise came from Anna@My Random Thoughts who sent this lovely calendar. It is so welcomed. I was waiting until after January 1 to buy a new calendar (yeah, cause I am cheap and wanted one at half price) and had not gotten around to it yet. Many thanks! It is now hanging in my kitchen and I thought I would take a quick picture before I begin filling it with things I need to do. (Or things Mom wants/needs/commands me to do. Either way it will be filled quickly.)
The photos on the calendar are beautiful and absolutely nothing remotely like the topography of Alabama. Surprised, huh? Now it makes me want to travel to Switzerland badly.










Secondly, I won a contest held by Thrifty Mom in Boise and am now in possession of some beautiful gift tags she made for Christmas. As luck would have it my Christmas gift wrap box is still downstairs in the formerly soaked laundry room. Because it was in one of those plastic gift wrap containers, all is well with the wrap and now these lovely tags have joined them. Hopefully I will take it upstairs and put it away in the Christmas closet before I need to wrap in December. Thank you so much Thrifty Mom, they really are beautiful.





And I have dawdled as much as I can, and am off on a laundry adventure. This surprise thing is fun and I plan to pass it on. I just have to think of what the surprise could be, how to pull it off, and who the surprise victim might be.

Have a great day and try and surprise someone, somehow this week. Surprises are such a treat!

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Be Careful

You know how sometimes you think if something happens it will bring you joy? Yesterday as I posted my joy list I added something to the effect that having an organized laundry room would bring me great joy. Well somebody kick me quick! About an hour after I posted the list TheHub came in from his recreational shopping trip and headed to the laundry room to put something in the extra refrigerator. I heard him yelling but could not hear what he was saying, and normally I would have ignored him, but I walked into the laundry room to find water everywhere.

My laundry room is a pretty big room with the washer and dryer, along with an upright freezer, and auxiliary fridge. In addition it functions as a studio with drafting space, it has an area for sewing and a crafting space plus pantry overage space. Like I said it is a pretty big room and it's obviously pretty level because water was EVERYWHERE.

The anticipation of a nicely organized room (organized in my own time) was short lived as I grabbed a ton of towels to absorb all the water. Then the room had to be emptied to get all the water that ran under things, which meant bookshelves and work stations had to be emptied, moved and turned upside down so the bottoms would dry. Additionally (You know how I said organized?) gift boxes from Christmas were still stacked in one corner, gift bags were in a cardboard holder on the floor next to the boxes, so I have a lot of wet cardboard and a lot of wet gift bags (The bags may be salvageable or maybe not)

So now on the day when I had not planned on doing much at all, I was knee deep in crap. Wet crap!  I am looking for the joy but I don't know where it is right now. The repairman has been called and hopefully the machine can be repaired.

Looks like the laundry room is going to be organized much sooner than I had planned. 

Saturday, February 3, 2018

February Joy List

So begins the 2nd month of 2018. I will admit I did not do a lot of exciting things in January. It seems I did a lot of toting Mom to and from the doctor and did my best to avoid the flu.

Funny, a couple of Mom's docs are in the professional building that is part of the hospital and every single floor and hall had signs begging people with flu to stay out of the emergency room, and go to a primary care doc or free standing clinic. It seems that because the flu vaccine is not working well this year and the flu is airborne, the hospitals are having a hard time keeping the emergency rooms staffed with healthy workers. Well this begins a new month and hopefully the flu will move on quickly.

Each month for the year I am going to post a list of things that should bring me joy. I am going to keep up with what I did and this month I am going to keep a daily (maybe) list of unexpected joys. I am not an optimist, but I am also not a pessimist. However, I have become keenly aware that by focusing on what is good rather than what is not so great, really nice things happen every single day. I have just been too busy, or too distracted, or too self-absorbed to notice them. The Unexpected Joys list will be mainly for me, so I will have something to look over at the year's end and see all the small and not so small wonders that fill my life daily.

Before I begin my joy list I am  sharing today's small joy. Spotify compiles a list based of what I have been listening to recently. Well the last month I have been listening to a lot of everything so my Discover Weekly list is a baffling assortment of joys for my ears. I have never heard of Gypsy Swing Revue before and am thrilled to have found such happy sounds. I am sharing this joy and sharing their version of Puttin on the Ritz. I hope you enjoy it too.


February Joy List

1. Continue to expand my horizons.

a.  Keep listening to different genres of music weekly (The daily thing was hard some days)
b. Try a new beverage or adult drink every week.
c. Try a new to me recipe weekly
d. Continue learning a new odd fact weekly
e. Read a new to me magazine each week (DIL gave me a subscription to Texture for Christmas so it is doable)
f. Read a self help book (I do not like these at all so this is a real challenge)

2. Volunteer somewhere

3. Do something expecting nothing in return (Anonymous is best)

4. Try to start each day with something spiritual and good for my soul.

5. Movie, with or without popcorn

6. Take Mom somewhere fun.

7. Have people over for a meal.

8. Have a game night. (Thanks Anna for the idea. If you do not read her blog, pop over. She does fun  things and goes interesting places.)

9. Contact a long neglected friend.

10. Contact a neglected relative.

11. Listen to others more intently

12. Make something for Christmas. Can be a craft or gift

13. See a play, show or some kind of concert

14. Spend at least one weekend at the lake place

15. Plan a special Valentine's Dinner at home

16. Hand make Valentine's cards

17. Bake Mom tea cakes for Valentine's Day (She loves them)

18. Organize my DayTimer (It is beyond time to replace and update the address section) and reflect on the fun things that were recorded for the prior year.

19. Find somewhere to people watch.

20. Invest time for writing.

21. Give away a minimum of 28 items

22. Keep a daily unexpected joy list

23. On a warmish day go outside and listen to all the song birds.

24. Since the sun rises each day, watch at least one.

25. Find some local live music and enjoy it.

26. Have lunch with friends

27. Paint or draw

28. Organize the laundry room (It will truly give me great joy to have it organized)

29. Be grateful for everything.

I will probably add more as the month goes on and I find more things that will bring me joy. Meanwhile here is wishing each and every one of you much February joy!

Thursday, February 1, 2018

New to Me Recipe of the Week

One of my goals for 2018 is to try a new recipe each week. Since I cook each week ( Oh who am I kidding? I cook all the time) I started this as an effort to get me out of my meal rut, plus I am bored cooking and serving the same old meals. Since this is the 5 th week of the year this is the 5th new recipe for the year and it isa serious winner.

I had a pack of boneless skinless chicken thighs that had to be cooked along with 2 baking potatoes that were on the cusp of usability. I found 2 different recipes online and sort of morphed them into this concoction.

                                                    Chicken Florentine in Parmesan Sauce


6 chicken thighs (I used boneless, skinless but boned and skin on would work too)
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning blend
 salt and pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cups spinach, chopped (I used frozen and it worked fine)
2 large baking potatoes, peeled and sliced

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease a 9×13 baking dish . (Pam) Put the sliced potatoes in the bottom of the pan. Layer if necessary.
Season chicken with Italian seasoning, salt and pepper
Put oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add chicken and sear both sides about 2-3 minutes per side then place them on top of the potatoes. Put the spinach evenly over the chicken. ( Yeah right, mine was no where near even.)

     


           Sauce
2 tablespoons butter
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons flour
2 cups chicken broth
1 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon basil
1/2 cup light cream ( I used half and half)
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese (I only had the kind you shake from the container,)
salt and pepper, to taste


To make the sauce, melt butter in the skillet over medium heat. Add garlic stirring constantly, until it wilts, about 45 seconds. Whisk in flour until it browns slightly, about 1 minute.
Gradually stir in the chicken broth and herbs. Cook, stirring constantly, until thickened.  Stir in the cream and Parmesan until the cheese melts and it is kinda thick, (2 minutes maybe) If the mixture is too gummy, add more milk or broth as needed. Season to taste with salt and pepper. (I am not a salt fan so I added no salt, but I did put some pepper in it. For me the cheese has enough salt that the dish needs no more, but that is just me)

Top the chicken with the sauce and pop into the oven until done (About 28 minutes).

This was a huge crowd pleaser and 2 of the 4 of us who ate it had seconds. So much for  my lunch leftovers. This got a double thumbs up from everyone and will most definitely be added to our meal rotation.