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Saturday, July 22, 2017

Best Invention Ever









Kudos to whomever invented long sleeve toddler swimsuits. This makes applying "sunscream" to Pip so much easier. Love having this kid around!

Monday, July 17, 2017

Crazy Life



I am going to be hanging out in the 3-D world with some of my favorite people for a while. Trains are still running full speed and there are wonderful things happening each and every day, but instead of being Anne in the Kitchen next week I am going to concentrate on being Pip's Annie. Playing with her is first  and most important on my to-do list, so blogging will have to wait. I will still be reading your blogs (after her bedtime) but please forgive me if I do not comment as often as I normally do.



                                                    Have a great week__I know I will!

Positively Monday

Good things happen every single day and I try very hard to stay positive. Don't get me wrong I whine and complain with the best of them, but I try and reflect on the day to find what the best thing of the day was. Even the worst day ever has something good in it.


Monday: I had a seriously lazy day and it was wonderful. It was a totally self indulgent day (with the exception of a few Mom issues)

Tuesday: Had a long phone conversation with My Beloved Sister and we were laughing so hard I snorted coffee all over the kitchen table

Wednesday: Went shopping and managed to make it out of the store before heavy rains hit, then arrived home in time to sit in my driveway for about 30 minutes waiting for the storm to pass, but got to see some incredible lightening in the valley. (Some days are harder to find positive things than others!)

Thursday: We had a lovely dinner with Mom. She eats much better and more food when she is with us, so I try and have a couple of meals each week with her. A nearby lake has food trucks and an outdoor market a couple of times a month, so we shopped the market and bought our dinner. There were no empty tables so we just brought it back to the house to eat, then took Mom back to her house.

Friday: We talked briefly about going out to eat, but I had bought corn from a vendor at the Thursday night event. TheHub and I ate corn on the cob and sliced tomatoes for dinner, then sat on the deck with a glass of wine and listened to the crickets and katydids while we talked.

Saturday: I needed a set of twin bed sheets for the trundle beds at the lake place and a comforter for Pip's bedroom at my house. I went to Bed, Bath and Beyond with coupons in hand and found one of those bed in a bag sets that was on sale, but was missing the pillow sham. Score for me! I got it for 1/2 the sale price then used my 20 percent off coupon.

Sunday: Game of Thrones returned: 'nuff said!

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Winter is Coming or GOT Theme Dinner

Recently I did a post about a prison in homage to the Netflix new season of Orange is the New Black.Well, folks, right now we begin the countdown to Game of Thrones season premier and I felt compelled to do the same. (Actually Son1 asked me to create a meal for a pre viewing feast)

If you watch GOT but have not seen season 5 stop now because there will be some spoiler alerts.
Last season saw a lot of changes, and of course, more dead people (I will miss Hodor, but what a great plot development). We also got to see a few new things like a fleet of ships with Daeneryis flying above while riding her dragon, Cersei blowing up a few people, and Arya serving pie to Walder Frey.

I used this past seasons revelations to act as a guide for the following theme meal. There are 7 kingdoms in the Game of Thrones world but right now five major regions house the main characters and each region has a European counterpart. The North is supposed to be similar to Scotland,  The Iron Islands resemble Norway, Westeros is very much like London during the Middle Ages, The Reach can be compared to France, and finally there is Dorne which is almost a dead ringer for Spain. I decided to cook somewhat regional dishes based on the story line provided with each area with one caveat, the food had to be made with things I would keep around the house on a regular basis, so no heading out to the store for some pickled herring or Spanish olives.

I had the most trouble with the Iron Islands, mainly because it's place in the tale is most likely going to be fleshed out this season. Last season ended with Yara and Theion leading a mutiny against Euron, their uncle, who had just been declared king after murdering his brother, the king. I am pretty sure the action is going to increase rapidly.  Since the Iron Islanders are a sea faring bunch I decided to start the meal with a fishy appetizer. Now I live no where near a cold sea, so there was no way I would have anything from there in my kitchen, however I am a reasonably decent punter sometimes.
Instead of a cold water fish, we started with a faux smoked tuna spread on toasted baguette slices. The real thing is one of our favorite treats when we are on the Gulf coast, but I have made this bastardized version several times when we are not at the beach and get a hankering for it.

Faux Smoked Tuna Spread

2 ounces creamed cheese
1 can albacore tuna, drained and flaked
1'2 teaspoon liquid smoke
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 scallions minced finely
3 or 4 drops tobasco (optional)
Mix all ingredients well with a fork.  Stick it in the fridge to chill and serve on cracker or toast.

I thought since there is a battle for the throne, it would only be appropriate for me to serve our app on my plate that has the image of The King.






For our salad course I took a little (very little) inspiration from Spain. The Sand Snake gals are in a difficult situation right now but they are clever, skilled and dangerous. Luckily for TheHub I did not coat the blade of my dagger (knife ) with poison while I was slicing onions.

Somewhat Spanish Inspired Salad

1/2 cup torn lettuce leaves per person
1 clementine, sections and pith removed
4  very thin rings of raw onion (I should have used Spanish onions but I had Vadilias
lemon juice
olive oil,
salt and pepper
Put the lettuce on a plate, top with the clementines and the onion slices. Drizzle with lemon juice and olive oil. Add a bit of salt and pepper.



The main meal was served on the same plate, therefore there is only one photo, but I am going to say a tad about each dish.

In the North last season Arya Stark had a little surprise for Walder Frey the elder. She served him a hearty meat pie, but she went all Sweeny Todd on him and served him his sons, literally. For my dish I made a variation of the Frey Pie, but I promise, no sons or daughters were harmed in the making of this dish. Yeah, it wasn't  a real pie either. I made a meat roll, which is a pastry crust with meat filling that is rolled jellyroll style and baked.

Frey Pie

1/2 pound ground beef
1 small onion, chopped finely
1/2 carton mushrooms, chopped finely
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon ground thyme
2 teaspoons parsley
2 tablespoons of any condiment you wish (ketchup, mustard, bbq sauce, A-1, gravy, your choice) I have this wonderful smoked bell pepper sauce that pours almost like ketchup. It has a fabulous flavor we love so that is what I used. You need something cohesive to pull everything together and add a little moisture to the final beef mixture.
1 single pastry crust, rolled in a rectangle. (I used a ready made Pillsbury crust and simply re-rolled it into a rectangle.)

Brown the ground beef and wilt the onions and mushrooms at the same time, in the same pan. Add the remaining ingredients and cook until the mixture is almost dry. Spread over your rectangular pie crust, leaving about a 1/2 inch pastry crust perimeter all around the edges.  Slowly roll along the long side like a jelly roll and place on an aluminum foil lined cookie sheet. (Spray the foil with cooking spray before putting the pastry on it) Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes. Slice and enjoy!



Meanwhile back in Westeros, Cersei was busy causing an explosion to kill 3 of her enemies along with hundreds of collateral casualties. The things some people won't stop at to be queen. When we were in London, every single place we ate had carrots on the menu, so I knew I wanted to have carrots, but was unsure what I was going to do to/with them. I actually searched for an explosive carrot recipe and instead found one promising explosive flavor. Since I made this recipe just like she said (with the exception of adding some hot red pepper paste) am simply posting a link to The Green Creator and her recipe for Carrot Cashew Pate. We ate it on cucumber rounds and though it was not the best thing I have ever eaten it was OK. I will probably never make it again but I am going to stick the leftovers in the fridge and see if overnight in the cold improves it.



And finally, Daeneryis has been busy flying around on her hot breath dragon, so naturally I needed to have something to put a little heat is our mouths, right?

Dragon Potatoes

12 new small new potatoes, scrubbed and boiled to fork tender
2 tablespoons butter
1 very small clove garlic, minced
1 small jalapeno, minced

Cook the potatoes until soft, drain, put them in a serving bowl and cut an X in the top of each potato. Mash the sides of the potato to open the X mark.
Melt the butter in a small pan until it is bubbling. Toss in the garlic and the jalapeno and stir continually over medium heat until the veggies are wilted and the butter has turned a caramel color. Pour over the open space in the potatoes and serve immediately.  (serves 2 or 3 depending on the size of the potatoes) These were really good with just a tad of heat,

And last but not least we head to The Reach, where Oleanna (Granny) Tyrell (Remember Emma Peel from the Avengers in the 60's.) is plotting some super sweet revenge against Cersei. It seems that Cersei is the reason her granddaughter, Margaery, her grandson, Loras, and her son, Mace will not be coming home for dinner_ever. We already know Oleanna has a very quick hand when it comes to poisoning food. Again TheHub is lucky I am not emulating the lady.

Seriously Lame Cheesecake Parfait (Sugar Free)

1 box Jello instant Sugar Free Cheesecake Pudding
1 cup kefir (can use milk instead, but the kefir gives it a tarter taste)
1 cup milk
Prepare according to package directions, chill
Spoon the pudding into a parfait glass
Sprinkle raspberries over it to make another layer
Add Sugar free Cool Whip for the third and final layer
Garnish with a raspberry or two.

And yes I know how seriously lame the dessert was. I just have not been eating sugars, and needed something Frenchy and dessertish to complete the menu. And it was pretty tasty, especially if you have been eating no sweets.

Also, following Cersei's beverage of choice, everything was served with a nice cabernet.

Now I have to go get my geek on because in less than 24 hours "Winter is Coming"!

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Crazy Train Tuesday

Once again I am recounting the life of My Beloved Sister and me as we attempt to make our mom's life easier for her and somewhat happy. It is hard because if things are not perfect she is testy, and if she is testy we all have to be miserable too. Writing this provides me a cheaper alternative to therapy and keeps me sane. You are welcome to come aboard for a little ride on the crazy train

Tuesday: Mom had dinner with us for the 4th of July. She was disappointed because "That Girl" (Girlfriend2 who evidently has no name) was unable to eat with us. I "made too much food, and why would you do that". Holiday, maybe?

Wednesday: This started the beginning of the week of terrors. Mom called to tell me her freezer was not freezing properly and it scared her. Also the tree had another small branch fall, and that scared her. (Please pray, if you are so inclined, that July 17 and 18 will be rain free.  We are having the power lines dropped so dry weather is critical for the two day projected removal operation.) My Beloved Sister ran by Mom's on her way home from work. Mom had to show her that her freezer was not working by taking the ice cream out of the freezer and sticking her thumb in the middle of it. I guess a spoon could not have demonstrated that correctly. Now MBS and I are secretly calling Mom, "Little Nan Horner"but she has yet to find a plum.

Thursday: Mom called and woke me early to let me know her freezer was still not working well and asked if I could come look at it. She was too scared to check on it. I asked her if her refrigerator was still cooling but she didn't know. Since I know nothing about repairing refrigerators I called Danny to go take a look at it. (Repairman I have used exclusively since I was in my early 20's). She was not sure about being alone with Danny since she could not explain what was going on with her refrigerator. I told her that is why I called him. He has the knowing of appliance repair that I am not privy to. She still wanted me to come wait until he got there, even though he had told me he was covered up for the day and would probably not be there until Friday.  I was not about to wait in her hot house all day. (Anyone else have a mom who keeps her a/c set on a balmy 83?)

Friday: Danny came and found the unit had frozen, so it needed to thaw before he could take a look at it. The refrigerator was pulled out and unplugged. Thanks to My Beloved Sister who helped Mom move all her cold items to her basement fridge. More horrors__Danny does not work on weekends so it would be Monday before he got back to her.
Since she was scared and had no upstairs refrigeration I had her come eat dinner with us. "That Girl" was here then, so she was somewhat happy, but I still made "too much food".

Saturday: Mom called at the crack of dawn. There was water in the finished part of her basement. Before I went flying down there I asked how much water there was, thinking a pipe had burst and it had flooded. There was a puddle__from the refrigerator that she had put no towels around to catch the thawed previously frozen liquid so it followed the path of least resistance and ran through the minuscule opening where the water line connects with her refrigerator through the ceiling tiles and onto the downstairs den floor. It wiped up with one bath towel, so it couldn't have been much of a puddle to begin with, but it ruined the ceiling and she was scared. I told her I would replace the scary dropped ceiling tiles next week, but I would not do it right then. Since I would not fix them immediately, she put on her finery and went to a 90th birthday party for a friend of hers (Thank you Malcomb, for having a sit down luncheon for your birthday celebration), then she went home, took a nap, then attended a dinner function with us. Later she told MBS that the event (dinner and a musical revue) was just OK. It makes me really glad we asked her to go.

Sunday: She was down in the dumps because she had never been faced with so many horrible things in her life. Evidently she had no idea they had repairs and maintenance done around the house for the entire 63 years she and Dad were married. We keep saying we don't know whether to thank Dad for taming the beast or curse him for creating the monster.
And what you might ask are all the horrible things she is facing? The tree in her front yard, a shrub that she had to remove when she had a sprinkler system put in, a wounded refrigerator, a fire ant bed near her walkway, and possible moles in her back yard down by the creek.  Terrifying, right?

Monday: Once again I got an early morning phone call asking when I thought Danny might be there. She was alarmed because it was 8:30 and she thought he might stop at her house first. When I told her he probably followed a geographic order working his way from his office outward she was terribly disappointed. (Again!) I do not know when all service people will realize her needs should always be served first. Anyway she needed a new motor* and he replaced it but she was so upset she had to come here and have a glass of iced tea, because she had not heard "ice tinkling in a glass for a long time." (Her words, honest to God. It had to be at the very latest Friday night when she came here or Saturday night when she went with us to because she had iced tea both nights.)
And now we begin a new week fraught with hidden terrors and horrors, and early morning phone calls. And I begin a new week going to her house and lugging all her cold food upstairs so she can put it back in the fridge and freezer.

*You don't pay Danny at the time of service. He bills you and you send him a check. I don't care how high the bill is because it is worth every penny to not have to go shopping for the prefect refrigerator which will never be found because the models will have changed since she bought her last one and all change is bad!

And now I am off to haul all of her refrigerator stuff back upstairs which will lead to me having to have a tea party and then fitting some clothing item she has torn apart so it can be altered to fit her rapidly dwindling body.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Positively Monday

I neglected to keep up with the daily positive things that happened last week, so I am just gong to have a brief synopsis of the week's happenings. (Yes, I know, I am seriously bad at this.)

We saw fireworks on July 3 at a near by country club (They do it ahead of time so it won't interfere with anyone wanting to see the city fireworks show on the 4th. It was lovely and the fireworks reflect in the lake which makes them doubly beautiful.

On July 4th Mom ate with us, but unfortunately Girlfriend2 had a family emergency and couldn't join us. Special shout out to Winn Dixie who cooked the ribs so I didn't have to. Boy, did that make dinner easy!

I have no idea what happened the remaining days, but there were many joys I noticed at the time they happened, but by failing to record then they are blurred as just a jumble of pleasantness.

Saturday night we went to a fundraiser for The Independence Place of Alabama. I find my joy volunteering with these very special people, and seeing them in a different setting was wonderful. Plus they raised money and I was the silent auction winner of 2 prints from a local artist. These prints bring my Don Stewart print collection  total to 5. If there is a Stewart print available at a charity fundraiser I will outbid you.

Sunday was gorgeous with no rain but it was scorching hot and humid. I have learned to wear longer sundresses with cotton knit shrugs and flip flops to church to stay a little cooler. I am pretty sure God doesn't care what I wear, but I imagine there are a few people at church ( Mom) who might find it unacceptable. The biggest positive is that I just don't care what they think.

As an added bonus Son2 was telling us about an epic fail at the San Diego fireworks show of 2012.
I am including the video so you can enjoy it also. Due to a gigantic glitch all the fireworks ignited at once. It still makes me giggle to watch it, but if I had been one of the thousands who trekked to see it I probably would not have laughed.




I will try to keep a record of joyful things that happen during this week, but I am making no promises. After 2 weeks of rain we have sunshine finally and the pool is screaming at me. 

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

words for wednesday

I have been reading Elephant's Child blog for quite a while and was always intrigued with her Words for Wednesday post. A group of words or some other writing prompt is gives and people write what said words or pictures evoke. A little while back instead of being the constant voyeur I started participating, and find it fun because it challenges me to use language in a different way. This month the word prompts can be found Mumblings. I honestly felt like an intruder leaving my submission there, because I have only left them on E.C's page before, but I did leave my comfort zone and post it. Now I am going way, way out of my comfort zone and leaving it here.
From Mumblings blog these are the prompts:

crashing, valve, spotlight, postage, resonate, spastic
and/or
branded, organic, bargain, designate, amplify, blase
OR
you could use this phrase to 'set you off'
LAVENDER LIES

Please feel free (compelled?) to play along and leave your poems,  essays, tales, whatever inspires you.

This is where the words lead me this week.


Molly managed to answer the phone on the fourth ring right before the message began. She had no idea who was calling because her glasses were in the bedroom and the caller i.d. just looked like chicken scratch .
'Hello" she said, with forced pleasantness, she hated unplanned phone calls, especially when she was busy.
"Hi dear, it's Lucy" the quivering voice on the other end of the phone began, "Lavender just called me to let me know she will not be able to help at all this month. You know all that tunny trouble because of her spastic colon. She said she would love to help when and if her health allows. With her feeling so bad, I can't ask her to do anything, but I am overwhelmed. There is so much to do and right this minute I feel like I am in a pressure cooker with no release valve.  I need some help and I need it quickly.
"Lavender lie's and she always has"Molly said emphatically (so much for tact)  The only thing wrong with her colon is that is is attached to the rest of her conceited self. She is perfectly healthy! She just doesn't want you to designate specific tasks to her because it might interfere with her spa days, consignment shop bargain hunting, or whatever other self indulgent events she has planned"
"Oh my, I'm stunned. I had no idea ."
Molly continued "She uses the lies to keep from doing any true labor but is always happy to maintain her title. As long as she gets an occasional picture in the society pages so she can be branded as a patron of various arts and charities she is happy. She wants the spotlight on her and to have someone else to  so all the grunt work. As she spoke Molly noticed her voice seemed to amplify on its' own "Reel it back in, girl' she thought, "You know Lavender always brings out the worst in you"
She continued in a calmer voice, "So, Lucy, now that your co-chair is ill, what do we need to do to get plans back on track ? Just tell me and I'll be happy to help. I don't want you to feel like everything is crashing down on you and you have no backup"
"Thank you Molly. The most immediate thing is postage. I need all the envelopes stamped so they can go out in the mail this evening. Are you available around lunchtime? We could meet somewhere and strategize . There are only 5 weeks left before the Gala and I really do need a lot of  help."
"Sure, How about meeting at Organic Harvest? They have great salads and the tables are large enough that we could do the stamping while we eat."
"Perfect. I'll see you in an hour?"
 "I'll be the one wearing worker bee clothes"
"I need a worker bee, "
Molly hung up the phone and thought about this unexpected turn of events. She would help make this the best Gala ever, and when it came time to fill the upcoming Junior Board seat, hopefully tales of her hard and selfless work would resonate throughout the Executive Committee, and any thoughts of Lavender would be, at best, blasé.
Poor Lavender, life only allowed for one Queen, and the worker bee had just landed the first sting


Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Happy 4th and Crazy Train Tuesday

If you read me regularly you will know I have this post each week. My Beloved Sister and I are trying to navigate unfamiliar waters helping our widowed mother. She wants to live at her home for as long as possible, but each week seems to require a little more help. We are trying very hard to let her have some quality of life while making sure she is safe and secure. If she were compliant or docile this would be so much easier and less frustrating, but Mom has strong opinions on every. single. thing. and she sure as shooting is not afraid to let us know what they are. In addition to being opinionated she is demanding and becomes fixated on one thing (like the tree in her yard)  and will not let it go__ever. I write this to keep me sane and save money I would have to use for therapy so I can spend it on more important things, like chocolate.

Tuesday: I am trying to get Mom out in the world to do something different at least once during the week. I was going to the farmer's market Tuesday and asked if she would like to come along. She went with me and seemed to enjoy seeing things, plus she liked seeing me talk with the farmers. While we were there we happened on an older couple who not only had their farm veggies to sell but they also had a big gas fired cook pot filled with hot boiled peanuts. I bought some and Mom and I both ate one before we left the parking lot.
Mom: These peanuts will probably be good once they dry out.
Me: They are boiled peanuts, Mom, they're supposed to be wet because they are boiled.
Mom: Well whoever eats boiled peanuts?
Me: People who like them. i like them
Mom: Y'all are just wrong!


Wednesday: The Tree in her front yard. It is keeping her from doing any and everything including washing her interior windows or vacuuming.

Thursday: Mom was going to the lake with us this weekend but had told everyone she knows that she does not like to go because we keep our house too cold  (75), there is nothing to do there, and she gets bored doing nothing. (Even though she would be with TheHub and me at night when she is usually alone.

Friday: Mom went with me to the lake place. We had a couple of stops to make on the way down and traffic was horrid so our 45 minute drive took nearly 1 hour and 45 minutes. On the drive down I heard about every single beautiful tree, cloud, horse, house, pasture, pond___you name it. If she liked it I heard about it. I also heard every single thing she didn't like: an older man with suspenders, a family with too many children, my cousin, ugly houses, yards that didn't meet her specs, dying Queen Anne's lace, my cousin, rotted trees that had fallen in the woods, a dead armadillo, uncut pastures, a house with "too much stuff", my cousin, gray skies, rain, my driving, my cousin. I have decided that she has never believed in the concept of a comfortable silence.

Saturday: It was a mostly good day except I cooked too many foods for dinner, grilled hamburger patty, corn on the cob, green beans, and tossed salad. After dinner she asked me to give her a job. She couldn't help load  the dishes because my plates and cups are too heavy. (I knew before she told me they would be too heavy for her.  All stoneware is too heavy for her to carry more than one plate at a time.) Instead I asked her to please wrap the one leftover ear of corn and one patty in aluminum foil because I was out of ziploc bags. She did not agree that they should be wrapped in foil insisting on putting them in bags I didn't have. Finally they were wrapped in foil and put in the fridge.

Sunday: We decided to come home Sunday night rather than waiting until Monday, mid-day. TheHub drove straight from work Friday and was planning on getting up and driving straight to work Monday from the lake. I was planning on getting everything cleaned then heading home about noon. My car was having a hard time holding a charge, and we did not have the tools at the lake place to really see what was wrong with it. We thought it would be easier to go back while TheHub could follow me and make sure I had no car trouble, or be there if I did. I cleaned everything, washed all the linens, mopped, swept, cleaned the fridge, all the usual you do when leaving somewhere for an undetermined amount of time. Mom mainly sat and watched, which was fine because she kinda gets in the way sometimes when she tries to help. At some point she said she had lost her glasses, so I went on an all points search for them. I looked everywhere and couldn't find them. Finally she said she might have left them at home. She does not need them all the time and I honestly could not remember if she had worn them or not, so we packed up and left sans glasses.

Monday:  Mom called me straight out of the chute. She wanted me to go back to the lake, call TheHub and tell him to meet me there and enjoy the rest of the 4th holiday. It sounded pretty altruistic, until I told her we were not going back and would just stay home and have a laid back holiday. Turns out she thinks she remembered making her glasses up with the bed. She just wanted me to go back and get them. She has an ugly spare pair and she will just have to look funny until I go back next weekend.

And last but certainly not least:

                        Happy Fourth, Y'all 
                                and for the non celebrants 
                         Happy Tuesday!

Monday, July 3, 2017

Positively Monday

Sorry for not keeping my list, but last week hit me like a freight train. That being said, the week was filled with wonderful things along the way, but since I didn't list them as they happened I can't remember them, so you will have to settle for the biggest positives of the week
.

We were planning on going to Portland to visit Son1's family in a couple of weeks. Instead, he and Pip are coming here for a quick visit, so he can also see my mother and sister. DIL, Mama K, is covered up with work right now and can't come here. I hope while they are gone  she can catch up on her work load plus have a little time to include some self pampering.

I have added incentive now to get Pip's room here finished. It has been tragically languishing and need to be transformed and turned into a girly room. (Since I only had sons I never had anything even remotely prissy in the house)

When we were at the lake place this weekend, we went to a resale shop in the nearby town and found a cute addition for Pip's room and only spent a whopping 25 bucks for it.


Also over the weekend, we hit Dollar General (the lake place equivalent of a small scale Walmart) and found a 6 dollar hot pink dress with glitter embellishments, perfect for a princess. It will be something Pip can use for "dress up" play while she is here and take with her when she leaves.

Mom stayed with us at the lake place over the weekend and for the most part things went well.

Tomatoes are being harvested now and nothing is more delicious to me than vine ripe tomatoes.

My house is a wreck, but I have some time this week to change that. Hope my resolve kicks in!

Hope everyone had a great week filled with wonderful things. Look for them, I promise they are there!

Friday, June 30, 2017

Tomato Salad

There is a local restaurant here called Hot and Hot Fish Club where every thing is delicious, but every summer when tomatoes are in their prime, the best dish hands down is the tomato salad. I bought some fantastic vine ripe tomatoes at the farmer's market Tuesday and decided to make a somewhat similar salad for our dinner tonight. I had nearly everything on hand and what I didn't have I could punt and either do without or find a reasonable substitution.

                              Variation on a Theme of Hot and Hot Tomato Salad


Salad
2 very ripe tomatoes
10 cherry tomatoes (halved)
2/3 cup cooked lady peas (chick peas, crowder peas or black eyed peas will work)
6 pickled okra pods
5 slices bacon cooked crisp (I used Neuske's applewood smoked bacon)


Dressing
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1 clove finely minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon Italian herb blend
salt and pepper to taste (About 1/8 teaspoon each but I don't like salt)

Mix al ingredients together with a wire whisk.  Stir well before using.

Faux Basil Aioli
1/2 teaspoon basil
2 tablespoons mayonnaise

Mix together and set it aside

Prepare the dressing and set it aside.
Peel the tomatoes and slice into about 1/2 inch slices, put the slices in a shallow bow,l and pour about 1/3 of the dressing over them.  Let it sit for about 15 minutes
Put 1/3 cup of the peas on the bottom of a plate. Put about a tablespoon of the dressing on the peas. Place the tomatoes on top of the peas. crumble 3 slices of the bacon and sprinkle half of  it around the peas. Put 5 cherry tomatoes on each plate and add the 3 pods of pickled okra. Place one whole slice of bacon on the top tomato slice . Drizzle the remaining dressing over everything and add a dollop of the basil mayonnaise. Have a nice glass of a cabernet, a couple of slices of toasted French bread and enjoy a fantastic summer meal. The only thing that would have made the dinner better would have been if we ate it on the porch and could hear the crickets and katydids while we ate. Oh well, next time.

The salad at the restaurant has 6 varieties of tomatoes, corn, and fried okra instead of the pickled. I had 2 varieties of tomatoes, no corn and no fresh okra, but it was still incredibly tasty.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Living Life on the Edge

I found a jar of jelly in my pantry, that was out of date and I honestly could not remember when I got it, but I didn't want to  just toss it without seeing if it was still good.  It passed the smell test, it looked perfectly fine, so I tasted a small bit.  Since it tasted perfectly fine I decided I would do something death defying and use it in a recipe I made for my older sons when they were small. (Sorry Son3, but by the time you came along life had changed a lot and you didn't get hot muffins for breakfast. You can use that in Chapter 3 when you write your memoir about your tragic childhood)

Jelly Filled Muffins
Add caption
1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup milk
1 egg
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup jelly or jam (Your choice of flavor) I used spiced orange jelly

Preheat oven to 400 Grease or put paper muffin cups in a 12 muffin standard size muffin tin.
Combine all the dry ingredients in a medium bowl and stir well to mix
Combine all the wet ingredients in a separate bowl and mix well.
Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and blend just to moisten everything. The batter will not be smooth.  Remove 1/3 of the batter from the bowl and put aside. Fill the muffin cups evenly with the remaining batter. Put approximately 1 teaspoon of the jelly/jam in the center of each muffin cup. Top the jelly dollop in each muffin with the remaining batter. Pop in the oven and bake for 20 minutes. When they are hot if you like you can brush the tops of the muffins with melted butter and sprinkle sugar over the top. I prefer them plain because I have some tactile issues with food and sugared tops often remind me of eating sand.

These are best eaten warm straight out of the oven, but they are not shabby eaten cold. If you like milk I imagine it would be pretty good with them. I had a steaming hot mug of black coffee with mine this morning and it was pretty dang good.

And if you do not see me post for several weeks you will know that I died from eating tainted jelly, but at least know I died happy!

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Crazy Train Tuesday on Wednesday

I had this post all ready to go except for the editing part and was not around during the day Tuesday so I decided to delay it one day. I keep a log of some of my more interesting interactions with Mom. Writing them down keeps me sane and is cheaper than therapy. I keep hoping things will miraculously change and go back to normal, but then I stop and have to realize this is my new normal.

Tuesday: Mom and I had talked Monday afternoon about meeting My Beloved Sister for her birthday lunch the next day. We had discussed where we were going, what gifts I had bought and that MBS did not want Mom to bake her a birthday cake.
Tuesday morning came and MBS called Mom and told her she was looking forward to meeting us. Mom was completely blank and had no idea we were going. Then she called me and fussed at me because I had not told her about the birthday plan. Sometimes I feel like the Wicked Witch of the West is flying over my house writing "Surrender Dorothy" in the sky.

Wednesday: Mom wanted me to come and dig up the azaleas and boxwoods beneath the cursed tree in her front yard. For about the 10th time I have told here the tree company will do minimal damage to her beds so we need to wait until after the tree is down to make any decisions about the shrubs. I will be glad when those blooming trees are removed  because according to her she can't get anything done until they are taken care of.

Thursday: Today was a stormy crappy day, and for someone who needs everything perfect to enjoy life, today Mom's life was miserable. She went to her Sunday School's monthly social, a luncheon and told me it was pretty bad.  I asked if it was the food, but the answer was no. Then I asked if she was stuck by someone she didn't like, but that was a no also, she sat by her two best friends.
My Beloved Sister and I talked it over and we drew the same conclusion. It must be those nefarious trees in her yard that caused the luncheon to be less than stellar!
I went to an event in the Eastern part of town listening to sirens the whole drive over while a tornado was kicking up. A couple of hours later when I was driving home I heard on the radio that one was headed for our side of town. Since Mom watches The Hallmark Channel on TV and does not get the local weather interruptions, I called her to let her know I was waiting out the storm in Trussville and to tell her to head downstairs. When everything was over I drove home, got off the interstate and went the long way so I could visually check everything. I wanted to make sure both she and her house were OK, and if I needed to stop by, I was already out and would not have to make a special trip back. I noticed the creek that runs behind her house was out of it banks and close to overflowing so I called her from the car. I think I woke her from a cat nap because when I asked about the heavy rains she told me it had not rained a drop at her house, which was amazing since I was literally crossing over the bridge at the time. (The very same bridge that is 3 houses from her street.)
When I got to her street I slowed down and looked at her yard to check on the trees but I didn't stop, I just kept driving. I am declaring it a modern day miracle since water was rushing down the gutters and everything I could see was drenched, but evidently not a drop fell on her yard.

 Friday:  I was supposed to drive Mom to the doc but my car was in the shop getting a new tire (because of a flat the day before). My Beloved Sister took her instead and dropped her off in time for her 8:15 appointment. I had already made arrangements for Son2 to be here with his car by 8:45 so he could take me to get my car and then I could pick up Mom. I have been taking her quarterly to this appointment and it takes about an hour and 15 minutes for them to administer the treatment.  I had already decided I would get there a little after nine and I would just wait on her. I had just turned on the shower at 8:30 when the phone rang. Mom was through!!!
Fortunately Son2 was here with the car in the driveway. No shower, no anything, just clothes thrown on and a speedy trip to get her. I got her home and back into her pj's. (This visit always wipes her out and she has to sleep for several hours until her eyes clear and she can see again.) I generally get her into bed, put some liquid tears in her eyes and leave her alone until she wakes. Sometimes this procedure hurts more than it does other times and Friday was a painful one. She kept asking me to put the drops in her eyes but she would not open them for me to do it because it hurt her. After several failed attempts to get her to open her eyes, she told me to leave so she could sleep.
30 minutes later she called for me to go back to her house to put the drops in, which I did, left then went back to her house when I was summoned once again about an hour later. Finally, after her second call, I was able to pick up my car. I hightailed it to the grocery store while I was out to try and beat the approaching storms, called her to see if she needed me to get anything for her and she was hysterical because she had just called my house and I was not home.  She needed more eye drops and a milkshake.  I headed to McDonalds, bought the shake, hurried to her house, put more drops in her eyes, got her settled down again then left quickly because I still had my groceries in the car and it looked like the bottom was about to fall out of the skies. I had just driven into my driveway in time for torrential rains with lightning and thunder to begin. I got to spend the next 20 minutes in my car waiting for it to slack off long enough for me to get the groceries in the house without getting drenched.
That night we had ziti for dinner and I called to ask her if I could run some down for her supper. (She was still in bed so I knew she had nothing for dinner)  Son2 and GF2 decided they would take it to her instead so they could eat with her and visit a little while. (Thank you! Thank you! I did not want to go for the 5th time in the same day)
The same Mom who would not open her eyes and was pitiful and groping blindly for whatever she needed or wanted each of the 4 times I was at her house danced the jitterbug during their visit! What the Hell!!!

Saturday: Mom's power went out Friday night before Son2 and GF2 left her house.  They took care of everything and helped her get ready for bed so all she would have to do is take her lantern into the bedroom and go to sleep. Saturday morning (The one day I planned to sleep in) the phone rang at 7:30 because Mom needed me to come get the food out of her freezer and bring it to my house. I told her I would be down later, and made it to her house at about 9. (I had to move everything from the freezer of my auxiliary fridge and stuff it into my upright freezer so I would have a place to put her food.) I got to her house and could see the power company workers through the woods behind her. I told her I thought her power would be back on in just a little bit, but she insisted it would not and I needed to take her frozen foods to my house right then. So I lugged all the crap out of her freezer, drove home and put it in mine. 30 minutes later I got a call that her power was back on and I needed to bring it all back.
(For the record: she knew her freezer and refrigerator were still cool before she called me the first time because she had opened the doors to check the temp several times!)

Sunday:  Thankfully the train was not running!

Monday: Nothing big or remarkable happened today except the yard guy came and could have cleaned up the branch mess in her front yard, but she had complained about it so much that My Beloved Sister cleaned it up for her Saturday while I was moving frozen foods. I asked her if she had asked him to clean the natural area by the creek in her backyard (He had already given her a reasonable bid.) but she will not do it because the tree in the front yard is still there. Can anyone explain to me how the tree in the front yard has any impact on clearing out the back yard down by the creek?

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Taco Deconstruction

Tonight (last night, or a few nights ago depending on when I actually hit "publish") I was looking through the freezer for something quick and easy for dinner, emphasis on the quick part. I found about a half pound of browned ground beef and a bag of cooked black beans. (I cook the entire 2 pound bag of black beans at one time, then freeze it in 1 cup portions.) Then I moved to the pantry to see what else I could find. I had an onion, a can of niblet corn, some diced chili peppers, and a can of petite diced tomatoes. Put em together and what have you got___ (Imagine a Fairy Godmother here making dinner rather than a pumpkin coach)

Tada! Deconstructed Tacos

1/2 pound browned ground beef
1 onion chopped
1 cup black beans
1 can petite diced tomatoes, undrained
1 can niblet corn drained
1 small can chopped chili's drained
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon oregano
grated cheese
shredded lettuce
chopped tomatoes
avocado slices (I forgot I had an avocado in the fridge until after I took the picture and had begun eating)
tortilla chips, tortillas or even corn chips
salsa
sour cream

In a large pan add the browned ground beef and the chopped onion.  Cook a couple of minutes until
the onion begins to wilt. Toss in the tomatoes, the corn,  and the chili's, mix everything together. Add all the seasonings and stir well to blend. Stir in the black beans and heat until everything is hot and the mixture is almost dry. Stir often to keep it from burning.  Put the tortilla chips in the bottom of a large bowl.  Scoop the mixture on top of the chips and sprinkle grated cheese over it. Top the cheese with the shredded lettuce and tomatoes.  Add some avocado slices (It really makes it taste better) salsa and a dollop of sour cream. (I forgot the sour cream before I took the picture also)

Eat and enjoy! This would pair very well with Dos Equis Amber but I didn't have any. It was good with water, but I think the Dos Equis would have been a little better.

Son3 ate with us tonight and this was enough for 3 adults with a lunch serving leftover. Guess I know what I will be having tomorrow!

Monday, June 26, 2017

Positively Monday

Each day I try and record the best thing that happened that day, then list them all on Monday. It keeps me focused on what is good and opens me to whatever positives the next week might bring.  Like everyone, there are days when it is easier to find the good, but the exercise of compiling them daily reinforces the belief that every single day has something worthwhile and happy.

Monday: Ordered a new top with a 25 percent off coupon that was expiring Monday, because the store did not have it in my size. I opted to pick it up at the store to save shipping, and then received a coupon via email for 10 dollars off my next purchase.  Score!

Tuesday: My Beloved Sister had a birthday, so Mom and I met her for lunch.  We do this on special occasions and Mom and I go early, order and have everything ready so MBS can enjoy her meal without having to hurry. She only get an hour for lunch. If any of you have the opportunity to eat at Chicken Salad Chick give the Fancy Nancy a try.  It is really tasty.
(Added positive: I found the most horrible garish red sequined pillow for 2 bucks at Ollie'
s, so naturally I bought it, wrapped it and gave it to MBS as one of her birthday gifts.  Each birthday we give each other something really tacky or regift a previous years tacky gift. I expect this pillow to come back to me in September)

Wednesday: Pip (the granddaughter) has been telling me to watch Moana (her new favorite movie). It is on Netflix now, so I watched it and will begin making her a Moana costume next week so I can take it with me when we visit in July..

Thursday: I had the privilege of watching The Little Mermaid performed by participants of The Independence Place of Alabama. It was wonderful to see this group do such a remarkable job, and the ad-libs (lots of them, I mean, who needs lines?) were pretty incredible too.

Friday: Hmmmm, I didn't get struck by lightning (nuff said about a very difficult day!) Son2 and GF2 took dinner to Mom and ate with her. (I just could not go to her house one more time)  Oh and Girlfriend2 and I watched a psychological thriller which was good but very intense, so we watched a sitcom immediately  afterward.

Saturday: TheHub and I decided to have a nighttime shopping trip. I found lovely cheap outdoor pillows and a chair pad for the rocker on the screened deck and also bought new plants for the pots around the pool. I still need a few more. This crazy weather had done some serious damage to a lot of the plants.
I probably should also mention peanut butter pie!

Sunday: The insane weather has wrecked havoc with the pool water.  Today has been a working, trying to get the water balanced type of day. Not there yet but it's close, plus all the plants have been planted, some others that have had damage from too many high winds and water have been removed so at least it looks happier outside.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Sucky Weather!

There is nothing like getting all gussied up to go to an afternoon play,  just getting on the interstate to get to said play, and hearing sirens the entire way because the entire county is under a tornado warning. It does make you turn the radio on to see exactly where they are supposed to hit. Since I was headed east and the storms were tracking north from the west, I figured I had enough of a head start to outrun them, plus they were not supposed to touch down in the area where I was headed. But it did get a little unnerving hearing them scream the whole 30 minute drive.

I made it to the play, enjoyed seeing all my Independence Place friends perform then got ready to drive home. I was barely back on the road headed for home when the blooming sirens started all over again. I turned the radio on a local talk station and  heard tornados were headed toward my neighborhood. Since there was nothing I could do about the storm and they weren't headed where I currently was, I got off the interstate at the next exit and decided to wait for it to pass before driving toward where the action was supposed to happen. 

The first thing I saw was a Sonic, so why not wait while enjoying a frozen limeade, right? I was sitting in my car, sipping my refreshment and listening to some seriously bad music Sonic piped through their speakers when a young male Sonic employer came up to my window and said "You need to go right now and take care of your tire. You probably don't have 4 pounds of air in it."

Of course! I was sitting in the rain, avoiding a possible tornado near my house and now I have a flat tire.  I pulled out of Sonic and drove about 2 blocks to a tire store. They did not have the size my car needed and called about 3 other places close to them to see if anyone else had one in stock,  Since they couldn't find one, (but did locate the nail I had picked up in the tire) they put a temporary patch on it, filled it with air and told me to go straight to my tire guy. He had everything I needed but could not get to it until the next day.  Bummer! So now I was driving about 25 miles in high winds, torrential rain, with a bandaid on a leaky tire with a nail in it.

Since no one knows what actually happened I could create some drama and tell you about the blowout on 459 in the downpour and pull a Blanch DuBois about how I always rely on the kindness of strangers. But, truth be told, the patch held, I made it home fine, met TheHub at the tire place and left my car so she will be among the first in line for service in the morning. (Aside here: How come the tire store nearest my house has 10 of those tires in stock and no one on the other side of town has even one?) Hopefully they will get to it quickly so I will have my vehicle in working order before Mom gets out of her eye appointment. It is at 8:15 and My Beloved Sister is going to take her on her way to work. The appointment always takes an hour, and since Estes opens at 7:30 I am hoping  they will have my car ready by 8:30, so I will be at her doctor's office in plenty of time.  If not Son2 is going to pick up the slack for me.

And you might not think there was an upside to this, but sinceTheHub had to meet me at the tire store (I suppose he could have left me there overnight but that would have been a different type of drama, perhaps with murderous intent) and he was a tad earlier than he usually comes home, we decided to go to a local meat and three for a vegetable dinner. Fried green tomatoes, collards, creamed corn and cornbread__yum! It was still pretty early when we finished eating so we went exploring and wound up at a local brewhouse. If you ever find yourself at Redhills Brewery try the grapefruit brew. It was fantastic!


Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Wet Wednesday!






We have been having a ton of rain lately. Dreary weather does not affect me greatly, but today is officially the first day of summer and I was kind of, sort of hoping for bright sunshine.  No dice, so instead I am looking at gray skies and big fat raindrops. The upside is it's just rain and with no lightning and thunder.  I guess this means no yard work either and I do have some outdoor chores I needed to do.(Notice the muscadines overtaking the fence) I guess I will just have to stay inside and read. Now that I type that it doesn't sound like a bad option for the day does it?






On a side note, since the day is cooler and dreary I am making coconut soup for a light dinner.

Cheaters Coconut Soup (Special thanks to my friend Louay for teaching me this trick)

1 cup of cooked rice divided into 4 bowls
1 carton chicken broth
1 pinch (or 2)
of ground ginger
dehydrated mushrooms (if you don't have them use about 5 fresh mushrooms sliced)
dried lemon grass
dried lime leaves (or fresh lime juice from one lime if you don't have lime leaves)
5 green onions (White part separated from the greens, both sliced thinly)
1/2 teaspoon chili oil
1 can coconut milk
1 cup cooked chicken (cubes or shreds)
1 lime quartered for garnish

Heat the chicken broth, add the ginger then toss in the dehydrated mushrooms, lemon grass, lime leaves and the sliced white bulbs of the green onions. Cook until the mushrooms are soft and the onions are tender. Reduce to simmer then remove the lime leaves and lemon grass.  Stir in the chili oil and the coconut milk and mix well. Add the chicken and heat.  Serve in bowls on top of cooked rice. Garnish with the sliced green onion stems and a quarter of the lime. This make a great rainy night meal!


Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Crazy Train Tuesday

Each week I try and list some of the craziness associated with our dealings with our mother.  It keeps me sane and is much cheaper than therapy. I missed posting last week. Son3 was here and because I had an extra reinforcement I did not have to deal with everything by myself, so things seemed less intense. Special thanks to Son3 who went to her house several times and sat in her blazing hot den visiting her and having refreshments.


Sunday: I am backing up to last Sunday because I did not do a crazy train list last week. Sunday Son3 was sitting in with a jazz band playing at a Sunday brunch at a local watering hole. He got the call sometime late Sunday morning so we decided to run down after church, eat and listen to them for a bit. We asked Mom at the last minute and she wanted to go, so we dropped by her house to pick her up.  When we pulled into the driveway we saw A LADDER AND HER BIG LOPPING SHEARS next to a small tree by her driveway. (She had forgotten she left the ladder out and got caught)
She had mentioned Saturday she wanted the tree trimmed and I guess I just did not get to it in time to suit her. She was angry and felt like we ganged up on her, because every one of us fussed at her. for getting on the ladder to begin with, forget about the fact that she was leaning over it to trim the tree. My Beloved Sister called her after I relayed it to her  and told Mom if she falls from a ladder and breaks her hip she will be going to a nursing home, no ifs, ands or buts.

Monday and Tuesday: Uneventful days

Wednesday: After taking Mom to the dr. we were driving home and she asked me couple of random things then ended with what she really wanted answered.
Mom: Are you going to Aldi today. (Cleverly concealed code meaning I want you to take me to Aldi)
Me: I hadn't planned on it but I can go right now.
Mom: Well I don't want to you to go just to take me, but I am out of cereal and won't
have anything for breakfast tomorrow.
Me: We are already out, we might as well go on.
(I turned on to the interstate which is the quickest route because I don't hit about 15 traffic lights I would run into if I drove the other way)
Mom: Why are you going this way. I never drive this way. We should go the other way.
Me: It's a little quicker, plus you don't ever drive on the interstates anymore, remember?
Mom: I used to, but even when I drove on them I didn't come this way to Aldi.
Me: That's because Aldi wasn't here when you used to drive the interstates.
Mom flipped me off.

Later in the day I went to her house taking care of some business. I told her I had to meet the bug man  the next afternoon and asked if she wanted to ride to the lake at about 2 with me. She said she would like that.  About 10 minutes later her phone rang and a friend asked her if she would like to go with him to visit another mutual friend (who has moved to a care facility) Thursday afternoon.  Mom immediately said "Sure, I have no plans for tomorrow"
I started mentally singing "Chopped Liver".

Thursday: Got a call a little before 9 a.m.
Mom: I need you
Me: Do I need to call the paramedics and meet them there? (My new first response to her "I need you" calls)
Mom: No my stove won't work.
Me: Will your stove not work or is it your stove clock? (We have danced this dance before)
Mom: No! It's where the stove says 1 o'clock.
Me: (realizing there is no emergency) I will be down later to check on it

Friday: Phone call from Mom in the afternoon before Son2 and Girlfriend 2 were taking her out to eat.
Mom: Guess where I am going?
Me: (Yes, I know but I might as well let her "surprise me) Where?
Mom: I am going out to eat with Son3
Me: No Mom, Son3 is back in New York, you are going out with Son2.
Mom: Oh yeah, and That Girl too!
So now we are all calling Girlfriend2 "That Girl".  I am so happy she has a sense of humor and can laugh with us at the crazy.

Saturday: Nothing more than the usual phone calls (Yes, calls! I probably talk to her an average of 5 times a day) mostly her telling me how terrible her day was. Then I got a call from My Beloved Sister telling me when she stopped by Mom's she was outside cutting down another small tree. (She has a yard man every week and could get him to do this, but whenever she decides she wants something done, by crackie, she means right that minute and John woudn't come until Monday or Tuesday) Have you ever heard the soundtrack from Fiddler on the Roof? Years ago My Beloved Sister and I rewrote the words to the song Tradition. Our version begins: Relentless, Relentless....
MBS: (wearing nice clothes ) I will come by tomorrow morning and do this for you.
Mom: No I'll just get the guy to do it when he comes to do my lawn. !?!?!?!?!?

Sunday: Mom was eating dinner with all of us when I noticed huge bruises on her forearms. I thought she has possibly hit them on her door frame when she was walking from one room to another.
Me: Mom how did you get those bruises?
Mom: When I was trimming the tree between my house and the B's again today some of the cut branches poked through my skin me and bruised me.
THE ENTIRE TABLE: Crickets!!!!!
So much for letting the yard guy do it, huh?

Monday: I have a tendency to get my days and nights mixed up and I am in a terrible sleep pattern right now. I am still awake at 4 in the morning yet I still wake for the day by 7. Monday morning I had to be nowhere and was mentally giving myself permission to sleep in since I had finally gotten to sleep at about 4:30.  At 8:30 the phone rang, a call from Mom.
Mom: We have problems
Me: What problems? (groggy)
Mom: A branch fell from the tree you have got to call them and get them out here today. (We are still on a list to get the tree removed but every weekend lately we have had new storms and trees are falling everywhere. Mom does not seem to understand that trees on houses are removed before trees in yards)
Me: OK (still groggy)
Mom: Were you asleep?
Me: I'm not now
Mom: Well take care of this right quick
Me: (Mentally begin singing Relentless again) Sure Mom, just let me go to the bathroom first.

Call 2 approximately 3 minutes later
Mom: What did they say?
Me: Their answering service answered, I left a call back number.

Call 3 approximately 3o minutes later
Mom: Did you hear anything yet? You need to come look at this!
Me: No and I left my landline number so I can't leave to come look at the branch. About how big is it so I can tell them?
Mom: I am not good at eyeballing. It goes to the porch
Me: (silently) What?
        (aloud) Is it under 6 feet long? (mentally singing): "Let's start at the very beginning. . . "
Mom: One section is but it is in 4 sections.
Me: OK what is the total, just guess
Mom: One is bout 5 feet, another is about 4, the third is about 5 and the last one is about 3 feet long.
Me: (While doing mental tree mathematics) Was this one long limb or was it a shorter limb with branches off of it?
Mom: (crickets) I don't know, and I don't know how to deal with these things. Why don't you run down here and look?
Me: Because I am waiting for the tree service to call back.

Call 4 approximately 1 hour later
Mom: I just got a call from the roof people. It scared me
Me: Do you mean the tree people?
Mom: No the roof people, they want to inspect the roof today.
Me: Mom, did you call anyone to come look at your roof?
Mom: No
Me: Then it is just some roofing company trying to drum up business.
Mom: Well, it scared me, but I told them they couldn't look at my roof.
Me: (Silently) Then why did you call me?
       (Aloud) OK




Monday, June 19, 2017

Positively Monday

As an ongoing method of keeping my attitude in check I record something positive that happened each day. Like everyone in the world some days are easier to find things to be happy about than others, but every single day has at least one good thing in it.  Sometimes you just have to dig a little deeper than others to find it. 

Monday: Got Son3 on his flight back to his home. We had a good visit with him and when it was time for him to go home it was time for him to leave. It was a perfectly timed visit with enough days to enjoy him but short enough that none of us got on anyone else's last nerve. As a special bonus, for the first time in his life he left the room pretty much as he found it, and even brought all the linens down and stuck them in the washer before leaving. And I got my car back, so I could go wherever I wanted and didn't have to share.

Tuesday: I had a gathering the fragments day at home.  I took the laundered sheets and towels from Son3's visit back upstairs put the room together, ready for the next visit. Also the Bach Chorale book I ordered arrived. Now i just need to play them daily.

Wednesday: Took Mom to the neurologist. Her Parkinson's is not progressing much at all and we are very thankful for that. Her cognitive function is down a wee bit but she is too tiny to take the medicine to help retard her memory loss. (Clinical trials have found it inhibits appetite resulting in weight loss) So now we begin the process of trying to chunk her up a little.  We are starting with a daily milkshake and trying to get her to add some additional carbs.  Mac and cheese anyone?

Thursday: TheHub is out of town and I had visions of binge watching OITNB but I already binged watched/listened to it. Instead I got to meet the bug man at the lake. I always get to do the fun stuff like that, but the lake was truly beautiful. On the way home I stopped at 2 stores having sales and bought me a few new duds.

Friday: Son2 and Girlfriend2 took Mom out for dinner. This was a fantastic gift to me!

Saturday: This sounds like a weird thing to consider as a positive, but I got the MBR shower scrubbed sparkly clean.  I had neglected it for a little bit and we have very hard water here. Hard water plus soap equals a mess.  Now there is no mess and I WILL resume my usual maintenance.

Sunday: TheHub got home from his trip in the late afternoon just in time for a hamburger cookout and a Father's Day celebration. Mom, Son2, and Girlfriend2 joined us for dinner and we also had a little FaceTime visit with Pip, Son1 and Mama K.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Pop

       
 
                      Thinking of Dad today. I miss talking to him and especially miss his laugh.

This picture was taken before he and Mom married, and I never knew him with hair so bald was always a norm for me. When Son2 was about 2 years old he said "Hey Pop, Youse Bolss Headed, Why?" And Dad told him the same story he always told My beloved Sister and Me.
" There are people like me who have to be bald headed. I am so cute I can barely keep the women away from me as it is. Imagine how hard it would be if I had hair. So I have to be bald for your Mother's (or Nan's if he were talking to my sons) sake."
He had a wicked sense of humor, loved life and loved just about everyone in it.  He always said if he had known earlier what it was like to live in a family of women, he would have been forward thinking and invested heavily in Kimberly Clark, Maybelline, and Hersheys, the three essentials of female life.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

All in Favor Say Aye

I have reached that certain wonderful age where wearing shorts in public just doesn't work for me.  I never really wore them many places but I would run early morning errands while wearing them. I do own a lot of capris and I am fine wearing them around and about, but those can get pretty warm, especially on a day like today when it is in the mid nineties with 80 percent humidity and not a cloud in the sky. I had a list of errands to run, which was going to mean hopping in and out of the car about a gozillion times with each stop just long enough for the car to become an oven by the time each errand was done.
What to do, what to do? I was digging through the closet and found 2 lightweight denim dresses.  They are thick enough that you can't see through them in direct sunlight, but light enough to be cool.  Both have waists slightly above the natural waist and have free flowing skirts so air can move around all the places that are usually air restricted.

I wore one today. It has a scooped neck with spaghetti straps, so I did throw a shrug on , but I was relatively cool all day. With a dressier pair of leather flip flops and a straw hat (to cover the low ponytailed bun) it looked almost like a deliberate ensemble.  I actually had one lady stop me and ask where I got the dress (10 bucks at Dollar General about 4 years ago)

I think women years ago were on to a good thing and somehow or another we decided to throw out the proverbial baby with the bath water. They knew what they were doing when they wore a house dress (Which by definition was not a muumuu, as I always thought, but a cotton dress that was not as dressy as work outfits.) I am going to start wearing these around the house (except for crappy chore days) because they are unfitted enough that I can get by wearing a sports bra, and fitted enough that with a pair of flip flops and a hat I will look decent enough to do my daily running arounds.

Bring on summer! I am ready now!  Who's in?




The dress I wore is actually very similar (hence the need for a shrug)  to this but is longer (lower knee) and the body it fits on looks nothing like this one!








Monday, June 12, 2017

Positively Monday

Son3 was still in town for a visit so I tried very hard to have my car available for him. It was a good week but I was at home so much waiting for whenever my car would return to run my errands that I lost track of time. I must be one of those people who mark time in my memory based of where I was and what I did, because every day this past week has run together. Since I forgot to record the best thing that happened each day and because I have no specific things to jog my memoryI have nothing this week. It was a great week though. We spent a lot of time talking, a lot of time laughing, a lot of time eating out, and a lot of time playing music. (both recorded music and our personal live music) Son3 brought a book of Bach Chorales with him so he could learn them. They are such beautiful small pieces, I enjoyed playing  them so much I ordered the same book to have here.

And did I mention some serious binge watching of Orange is the New Black? (Yep, the entire season in 2 days) See how smart I am? Now I have an entire year to wonder what happens next. I love it when I do brilliant things like that.

Son3 is leaving this afternoon and I know I will miss him very much, but will be glad to have total control of my car so I can go wherever I want whenever I want. I won't have a ton of time to miss him since he is coming back with Girlfriend3 in August for a couple of weeks. When that happens we are going to introduce her to the Gulf Coast, the lake place and Southern cuisine. (Specifically grits, BBQ, boiled peanuts, and fried okra)   

This is going to be another weird week since my normal is turning upside down again, but I promise I will try and jot down the best things that happen!  Hope y'all all have a wonderful week also.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Orange Is The New Black and Prison Food

I have no idea how many of you watch Orange is the New Black on Netflix, but I am hooked on it and have been waiting and waiting for the new season. Well, the wait is almost over and tomorrow all 13 episodes will be up and ready for some intensive binge watching. TheHub is going on a business/pleasure trip to NYC Wednesday which should give me several empty evenings to curl up with Crazy Eyes, Piper, Alex, Tayste, and the rest of the gang.

Son1 texted me yesterday with an idea.  He knows I love to cook and I certainly do love a theme dinner so he suggested I come up with a theme meal for the beginning of the new season of Game of Thrones.  I thought it  was a great idea and then I remembered OITNB airs first, so why not start with it and see if it is something I want to continue?

I started researching prison food (because yes, I am nerdy like that), which seems to be pretty much just slop that the kitchen can create on a one dollar per meal, per prisoner budget. I really don't want to begin with that kind of meal, but while I was researching it, I found several "recipes" for meals the inmates from various institutions create from items sold in the prison commissary. That sounded like a little more fun to me. (Probably no more appetizing but at least more fun).

I did have to run to the grocery store because I have very few things that are sold in the canteen in my personal food stash.  I will also be perfectly honest and admit I used my appliances rather than dropping a rigged 'hot' power cord in a paper cup of water to make it boil. (If you are so inclined to play with water and electricity you can find directions here) I also did not crush anything by stomping on it while wearing my flip flops, and had to guess the sizes of some of the items because I have never been in or bought anything from a prison commissary.  I am assuming most items are sold in smaller packages since there is no refrigeration in the dorms and little storage area for personal items. I have no idea if inmates have some method of securing their purchased items or not. I am just  guessing but I think  theft might be an issue if there was not.

I learned that for the most part the people who are able to purchase items from the commissary need an outside source of money to fund their accounts since most prisoners earn just a few dollars a week, and canteen items carry a luxury price tag.  The items they buy are not only for their personal use but can be used for trade. I guess prison is like outside life and everything has a price, but there currency is not king.  Everyday useful items reign supreme.

From the things I researched it seems breakfast is the most acceptable cafeteria meal, because it includes 2 pieces of bread and a packet of jelly or syrup along with oatmeal, grits or some similar cereal option.  It might not be the best meal but it seems far from the worst. Additionally any unused packaged option like creamer, or jelly is taken back to the cellblock and some of the inmates carry their bread slices back in their shirt pocket.

The first of my trial foods is what is known as a Cadillac. I have no idea why it is named that because I would call it a mocha. Evidently instant coffee is an important/must have item, first because it is coffee and coffee is essential for some of us, but it is also a tradable item( Second only to cigarettes). I used one spoonful of instant coffee, 1 pack of instant hot chocolate and stirred in a cup of hot water. This is one treat that could be made using hot tap water, since neither requires boiling water.  I found it to be so/so.  It was neither bad nor good and would have had a richer flavor if I had saved (as recommended) the packet of coffee creamer from my breakfast tray. I think instant coffee is pretty unpalatable by itself and this definitely made it drinkable, and after enough time it might even become an enjoyable beverage. Dunno, but I don't want to spend any time in the big house just to find out. I will give this a solid B


My lunch today was Pig Soup.  I do at least understand the name this time, because it is based on pork ramen noodles.
1 pack pork ramen noodles
seasoning pack from the ramen
3 cups water
1 pack dehydrated vegetables (I had to punt here since I have no idea what veggies or how large the packs are. They only cost a dollar so I assume they are very small. I used one envelope of Lipton vegetable soup and dip mix. I poured it into a sifter and was left
chopped summer sausage
fried pork skins

Put the water in a boiler and bring to a boil. stir in the ramen seasonings then add the noodles and dehydrated vegetables.  Cook until the veggies have rehydrated and the noodles are very soft.  Add the chopped summer sausage and continue cooking until it is warm. Right before serving toss in some crumbled fried pork skins. The pork skins do become soggy rather quickly but taste kind of like bacon would if it were cooked in the soup.  This was not bad, in fact Son3 has been my in house guinea pig today and he liked it perfectly fine also. It is a little salty for my taste but I am not a big salt fan, and to be honest if it had some fresh vegetables cooked in it, it would be a delicious soup. As is I will give this an A- but with some additional veggies I would upgrade it to a solid A.

Our third dish for the day was going to be our dinner meal.  Was is the operative word here. I made the Pad Thai, mainly because we love Thai food, but after one taste each we changed the name to Bad Thai. It was so salty it was not edible for either of us.

1 package oriental ramen noodles
1/2 tablespoon peanut butter
1 teaspoon soy sauce
Hot sauce to taste

Cook the ramen according to the package directions and drain well.  Stir in the peanut butter and soy sauce.  Combine well, then add hot sauce and stir again. This had none of the delicious Thai flavor I love and instead was a heavy, salty dish. The peanut butter flavor was overpowering. Possibly if I had used crunchy instead of smooth it would have been a little nicer taste and texture.  I think having the salty ramen , salty peanut butter, and the additional salty soy sauce was salt overload. Maybe if I had used tamari rather than soy sauce it might have made a difference. Maybe not, and I am not going to spend any time or effort trying to improve on it. So after one bite each this went down the garbage disposal, Son3 ran to Chick Fil A,  and I grabbed some leftover chicken salad from the fridge.

On reflecting Son3 did mention that even though we found this terrible, someone facing eating unseasoned poor quality food might find this a delicious alternative, so I am changing my prior grade of F to a C-

That brings us to our last dish. This is supposed to be a cake that is made when someone's time is up to celebrate his/her release. It is not a cake at all, but it does look somewhat like one and would be something festive to have for a special occasion if you had limitations with what you could do.


1 package Oreo type cookies
2-3 tablespoons peanut butter
1/2 tablespoon mayonnaise
few drops of water if needed
1 individual serving size pack of peanut m&m's

Separate each cookie. Crush the tops of each cookie into very fine crumbs. This must take an inmate a long time because it took me forever and I was using a mortar and pestle. When you have very fine crumbs, stir in the mayonnaise. (Don't be grossed out by the mayo. It turns out that mayo is the oil for prison cooking and you don't taste it, I promise.) Mix well than press the mixture firmly into the bottom of a bowl making a cookie crust,
Scrape the filling from each cookie bottom into a bowl. Stir all the white stuff to make a smooth paste then add the peanut butter.  Set aside.
Crush the remaining now plain cookies into fine crumbs. Add the filling/peanut butter mix to the crumbs and mix very well. Spread it on top of the crumb crust. Crush the peanut m&m's and sprinkle them evenly over the "cake'.

The taste of this was quite good.  It tasted kind of like a Reese cup with cookie crumbs in it. My only issue was that the bottom layer fell completely apart. My advice to anyone in prison would be to add all the crumbs to the peanut butter mixture and just call it a mousse rather than a cake. I was not a fan visually of the crushed m&m's. I had rather have plain m&m's on top of it and forego the additional peanut flavor. It is strictly my esthetic though.  The crushed ones still tasted pretty good. The picture to the right is a cross view of how it looks once cut, though cut is a misnomer. You actually have to spoon it out, but it is ok and still tasty even if it is messy. I will give it a B.

 And now I am gong to share a few thoughts about what I learned today. Many states contract out their prisoner food and the average daily budget is 3.71 per person. Rather than prepare low sodium meals for those with medical needs, the food is largely unseasoned and bland so no changes are needed except for the occasional uber restricted diet.. People observing a Kosher or Halal diet have must fresher , much better tasting, and higher quality foods so a lot of non-religious prisoners pull the religion card to try and get them.  Evidently here is an intense vetting process for approval, because those special religion based meals cost much more then the 3.71 daily average.

Besides the cost of the meals there is a more insidious reason for keeping the food quality poor. Many inmates refuse to eat the really bad meals and prefer to cook their own foods from items purchased at the commissary. The money generated from the commissary goes back into the prison budget, and is supposedly used to pad money for whatever is necessary for that particular institution.  But now that so many are privatized does the money go to the prison or to the profit column? I have no idea but it is a question to ponder. I am paraphrasing a quote I read from a prison guard. When the food is not good the prisoner will not eat which creates a lot of hungry people in less than ideal conditions. When people are hungry they get angry and angry people in a confined space are  powder kegs ready to ignite and is not safe for the inmates or the staff.

I have no solutions, but I do have a lot of respect for those ingenious enough to figure out how to survive.