Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Feb joy list, Hmmmm

February Joy List Update

Well February has come and gone and for the most part just kicked my butt. I have has several out of the ordinary things happen this month, some most welcome and some not so much, plus my usual "Mom needs" I have been trying to keep up with everything and mostly did a good job of the keeping up, but kid of sucked at the actual doing. Such is life or at least such is my life. Onward to March!

Now let's see just how lacking I was this month.

1. Continue to expand my horizons
a Keep listening to different genres of music weekly (The daily thing was hard some days)
Week 1: Jam Bands
Week 2: Gregorian Chants
Week 3: Jazz vocals (loving some Ella)
Week 4: Percussion sounds
Week 5: Sea Shanties

b. Try a new beverage or adult drink every week.
Week 1: Licorice mint tea  Good but I prefer the plain licorice tea
Week 2: Apricot peach tea (Christmas gift) Tasted like hot Koolaid, not good
Week 3: Arabic Qahwa (Light spiced coffee) This would be a great dessert coffee
Week 4: Nighty Night Tea  Perfectly fine but not memorable
Week 5: This week isn't over yet so this will flip to March

c. Try a new to me recipe weekly
Week 1: Whole 30 ranch dressing
Week 2: Moroccan chicken stew
Week 3: Zhug
Week 4: Buffalo chicken stuffed sweet potatoes
Week 5: Whole30 Salmon Patties

d. Continue learning a new odd fact weekly
Week 1: Next to the US army, Disney world is the largest buyer and importer of explosives in the United States (Can you say fireworks!?!)
Week 2: If the characters from The Simpsons actually aged in real time, Homer would be 65, Marge     64, Bart 39, Lisa 37 and Maggie 29.
Week 3: A human nose can discern and remember 50,00o different scents.
Week 4: Magpies are the only non mammal who can recognize themselves in a mirror
Week 5: During Einstein's 2nd trip to America to lecture at the California Inst. of Technology  he did  not want to meet his math and  physics fellows. He wanted to meet Charlie Chaplin.

e. Read a new to me magazine each week (DIL gave me a subscription to Texture for Christmas so it is doable)
Week 1: Modern Farmer
Week 2: Coastal Living
Week 3: Ricardo
Week 4: Chatelaine
Week 5. See March also

f. Read a self help book (I do not like these at all so this is a real challenge)
The day is not over yet but the odds of me starting and finishing a self help book in the next few hours are pretty slim.

2. Volunteer somewhere
Nope. I was either selfish or bogged down by a few too many other things. February just kicked my butt!

3. Do something expecting nothing in return (Anonymous is best)
OK it was not anonymous, but it was certainly unexpected and I expected nothing in return. Planned and pulled of a surprise proposal party for Son2 and GF2

4. Try to start each day with something spiritual and good for my soul.
Some days are better with this than others

5. Movie, with or without popcorn

6. Take Mom somewhere fun.
Took her to a Fat Tuesday celebration complete with a jazz band
Took her to the proposal party
Took her out to eat
Had her for dinner here multi times

7. Have people over for a meal.
Had a Valentine's night small dinner party

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.)
Didn't happen, but probably will this weekend.

9. Contact a long neglected friend.
Talked to a couple of people I have not spoken with in a while because they saw the FB posts of the proposal.

10. Contact a neglected relative.
Done unintentionally. My special needs elderly uncle needed to be placed somewhere and I talked with 2 cousins at length about his care. I have not seen or talked with either of them for a couple of years. They are much younger than me but really fun people to be around. I should be ashamed for letting so much time pass without contacting them. I have talked with them off and on throughout the month catching up and keeping up with my uncle's progress in his new surroundings.

11. Listen to others more intently
Fortunately this is paying off. I learned through listening that GF2 loves teal and daffodils. Both came in handy when planning the surprise. 

12. Make something for Christmas. Can be a craft or gift
Made a prototype of a lavender sleep spray. The actual gifts will need to be made closer to Christmas, but I foresee making it for several people, and now I know exactly how to make it

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

14. Spend at least one weekend at the lake place
We had a wonderful weekend there

15. Plan a special Valentine's Dinner at home
Had a lovely meal at home complete with Valentine's decor and tablescape, (Not typical for me)

16. Hand make Valentine's cards
Didn't happen. I found some really cute ones at Dollar Tree for 50 cents each, so 3 bucks later I had all I needed.

17. Bake Mom tea cakes for Valentine's Day (She loves them)
I called her to get her recipe and she told me she did not ever want them again because they remind her of Dad and it makes her sad. (He loved them) So I did not make them for her and just bought her some chocolates.

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.
Partially done! I was not able to find the blank address pages, had to order them.

19. Find somewhere to people watch.
Several places and several times, including Cowboy Day is a small town south of here. We were eating breakfast out while at the lake and had no idea it was going on. It was fun to watch the people decked out in their period costumes on horseback or riding wagons.

20. Invest time for writing.
Yeah, no! No time for it this month, March maybe? 

21. Give away a minimum of 28 items 

22. Keep a daily unexpected joy list
Most Days.

23. On a warmish day go outside and listen to all the song birds.
It was so nice to sit in the sun on a spring like day and just listen. What a lovely ever changing melody. Added benefit was a few neighbors walking by stopped to chat.

24. Since the sun rises each day, watch at least one.
Finally, I caught one (right before I was going to sleep because I pulled an accidental all-nighter)

25. Find some local live music and enjoy it.
Listened to some great and free jazz.

26. Have lunch with friends

27. Paint or draw
I doodled and made flowers from tissue paper and crepe paper for the party. Does that count?
The daffodils were especially pretty and they are GF2's favorite flowers

28. Organize the laundry room (It will truly give me great joy to have it organized)
What can I say. It's a work in progress. I physically can't move one piece by myself and have had exactly zero help when asked.

29. Be grateful for everything.
Most things! I've been grateful for most things!

Unexpected joys (listed by date)

1.  Found an unexpected bargain at The Pig
2.  Neighborhood girls were selling Girl Scout cookies door to door (Can you say Thin Mints?)
3.  The laundry room flooded (not joyous) but TheHub was home and helped me clean up the mess
4.  The Super Bowl was a great spectator game
5.  Surprise! I got a calendar in the mail from Anna! Thank you so much!
6.  Found the Texture app that DIL gave me for Christmas has Consumer Report. Was able to research washer ratings there.
7. ??? 
8.  Purchased new washer. (Only took a few trips to the laundromat to realize what a joy having a working washer is)
9.  Found a great new (at least to us) place to eat. Soul Food/Caribbean Fusion
10. Got a fantastic video of Pip followed by some FaceTime
11. Lost of laughs with GF2
12. ????
13. Fat Tuesday, need I say more?
14. Roses!
15. ???
16. Son2 purchased an engagement ring!
17. Breakfast out complete with great people watching.
18. Beautiful morning on the lake place deck, drinking coffee and listening to Duke Ellington. 
19. Party favors turned out really cute. Son2 was very pleased with them.
20. Finished all food for the party and was in bed before 1 a.m.
21. Proposal Day
22. Took Mom to doc and she is mostly well!
23. Slept in, woke at 9 and it was blissful!
24. ???
25. Relaxing day listening to music and reading
26. Laughed so hard while talking with My Beloved Sister that I actually spewed coffee.
27. Got the sweetest email from Uncle Bob reminiscing about Aunt Ruth's death "I re-live those moments of grief frequently, but more than that I re-live the joy she brought to me"(He is a great guy)
28. Designated Survivor is back on! 

Monday, February 26, 2018

And This Is Why It Doesn't Work For Me: Week 9

I read so many of your blogs and you have a very concise meal plan for the week and some of you even have one for the month. This morning I sat down and listed meals for the week including my personal breakfasts and lunches.

It began like this:
                              breakfast  egg muffin, fruit, celery sticks
                              lunch       slice of turkey, cabbage soup
                              dinner      meatloaf, mashed potatoes (him) cauliflower mash (me), brussels                                                          sprouts, pineapple chunks

And this is what really happened:
                             breakfast   2 turkey sausage patties
                             lunch         2 cuties (mandarins) 5 pecan halves
                             dinner       Thai lime chicken thighs, brown rice (him), cauliflower rice (me) green                                                 beans, salad greens with vinaigrette dressing

I am a fickle human and was lured by 2 variations of Thai Chicken. My theory is use what you have and change to fit your tastes, which is exactly what I did. This is how I actually made it. I am not sure what I use a recipe for except for inspiration. Anyway if you are looking for some new way to serve chicken, I highly recommend this. The amount of marinade worked for 6 thighs but would require doubling for additional pieces.

Thai Lime Chicken

6 chicken thighs, bone in and skin on (it is all I had thawed)
2 cloves garlic minced
1/2 inch slice of ginger, peeled and minced
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon grass paste (I find it in the produce section of my market and keep it in the freezer)
1/4 cup minced red onion
1 teaspoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon coconut aminos (use soy sauce if not doing paleo)
2 tablespoons orange juice
1 lime, juiced
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste

Mix all the marinade ingredients in a large zip lock bag. Add the chicken thighs, seal, and kind of mush the marinade around the thighs. Stick it in the fridge and walk away for several hours.  Preheat the oven to 375. Cover a raised side sheet pan with foil (Or you will be soaking and scrubbing for a while.) 

Place the chicken on the foil, skin side down. Bake for 20 minutes, flip and bake until the skin crisps and the chicken reaches an internal temp of 165. Serve immediately.

Oh wow, this was so good. I wish I had made several more to have for a few days of lunch. Son2 ate with us tonight and there was not a bite left, but we all agreed it was something I need to add to the chicken rotation. The skin looked nice and crispy, but we all remove it before eating, so next time I will probably make this with boneless, skinless breasts and reduce the heat to 350. The chicken itself was juicy, tender and screaming with flavor.

Other than changing to boneless skinless thighs the only thing I would do differently is to make at least twice as much. Yes, it was that good.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Different Salmon Patties or New Recipe Week 8

A huge part for me to stay on the whole30 plan is to have some varied flavors. I can only eat so many baked chicken, broccoli and tossed salad meals in a row before the sirens of sweetness start calling my name and chocolate tempts me at every turn. It is very hard for me to resist deliciousness . In my brain anything chocolate is delicious and everything else pales in comparison. Which is why it is best for me to go cold turkey when it comes to sugar. I seem to have no willpower in its presence.(Shhh! Don't tell anyone that I fell off the wagon after the party Wednesday. I had about 50 mini cupcakes I had made leftover, along with a huge bowl of Hershey's kisses and though I did not make a big dent in either, I did consume more than 1 of each, several more in fact.)  I had to  to hop back on the plan before the gods of Hershey sabotaged me completely. And this brings me back to flavor. If I vary flavors regularly I can lull my mouth into some form of complacency. (That is providing there is not a big bowl of Hershey's kisses on the dining room table,.)

The upside of this is that I am a pretty good cook and have all the herbs and spices on hand to add extreme taste to foods. I am also willing to experiment and play with foods, plus I use recipes only as a road map and will add and subtract anything I think might be better. (Works sometimes and others__well, we have eaten less than stellar meals on occasion.)

The downside of this Whole30 meal prep thing is that I can't make rice or pasta as the base for quick tasty meals. This requires a little more thought and planning than I like to do. I don't know if I would call myself a spontaneous cook or just an impulsive one, but meal planning is not my strong suit. My distaste for advance planning is fine for the chicken, broccoli, salad  meals but not a great habit when my stomach is truly hungry and my mouth wants something tasty.

Last night was one of those nights. I have no idea what was wrong with me but I was just in a pissy mood. I was not angry with anyone or anything but I was disagreeable and ornery and nothing was making me happy. And I was hungry!

We were supposed to go to the lake place, but TheHub has been caught in an intense situation at work which was finally resolved Friday afternoon (This had been going on for months.) He and one other co-worker who had spent an equal amount of time trying to pull everything together decided to go have a drink (or 2) to celebrate its completion. When he called me to let me know we would be leaving later than expected, I suggested we just stay home. It's not like I don't have plenty to do around here anyway. So at about 7:45 I started to think about dinner. (When we go to the lake we usually stop at Publix on the way and pick up something to throw on the grill, or grab some take out meal so I don't have to think in advance.)

Nothing was thawed, nothing sounded good or bad, but I had planned on having salmon patties at the lake place Saturday night since I knew we had a can of salmon there. I had found this Whole30 salmon patty recipe and had already thrown a lot of the ingredients in a container to take to the lake. So our throw together meal featured salmon patties with tarter sauce.

Salmon patties of the Whole30 variety

1 can salmon, skin and bones removed
1 cup cooked, mashed sweet potato
1  egg
½ cup almond flour
2 teaspoons parsley (more if using fresh)
2 scallions, chopped
2 teaspoons dill weed
1 teaspoon hot sauce
½ teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons ghee  or coconut oil, melted
parchment paper

Preheat the oven to 425. Put a piece of parchment on the bottom of a jelly roll pan and coat it with the melted ghee or coconut oil (Coconut oil is cheaper but does give a very slight flavor to the salmon. Next time I will use ghee.)
Mix everything else together  and make 7 -1 inch thick patties. Place them on the parchment and pop into the preheated oven for 20 minutes, flip the patties and bake another 10 minutes.  Serve hot topped with tarter sauce.

Tarter sauce
½ cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon dill pickle, minced
2 teaspoons dried parsley
2 teaspoons capers, minced
1 scallion, minced
1 teaspoons dried chives
1 teaspoon pickle juice
2 teaspoons whole grained mustard
Salt and pepper to taste
Mix together and let sit for about 30 minutes before using.

OK, where to begin? These aren't your mother's salmon patties. I would strongly advise anyone making these to use ghee instead of coconut oil to coat the parchment, however; if you are not doing Whole 30 I would just use olive oil or whatever other oil you prefer.
The sweet potato gives the patties a slightly sweet, but not unpleasant flavor. (I think using 1/2 cup white potatoes and 1/2 cup sweet potatoes would be a better flavor and would still be Whole30 compliant.) The texture is a little softer than a traditional salmon patty but hey held together well and were firm enough with a decently crisp exterior. (Obviously not as crisp as one fried in a pan, but still decently crisp). When I make them again I will most likely add a little minced celery, minced bell pepper and additional hot sauce to it. The patty just needed a little more texture, at least I think it did. I will also use minced onion rather than the scallions. I think a mild onion would punch up the flavor.  I will also change the seasonings a little and add some cayenne, chili and a little ground coriander. Oh and a squeeze of fresh lemon right before serving would help too!

The tarter sauce was perfectly good. I added about a teaspoon of additional pickle juice to thin it a little, but that was a personal  tactile preference. Since pre-made tarter sauce has sugar in it it's a no-go for me, but I probably would not bother making it if I were not doing Whole30 and would just opt for the bottled stuff.  I liked it on top of patty, but TheHub preferred ketchup on his.

Over all this was perfectly fine, not delicious, but fine. It did not satisfy my personal yen for strong taste other than the strong flavor inherent to canned salmon, but I think the few modifications I mentioned earlier might help it substantially. I will make this again, mainly because it is a super cheap meal. I find canned salmon occasionally for 99 cents a can and that is my price point for purchasing it. I always have 1 can in the pantry, so I need to be on the lookout for a sale to restock.

I am thinking of buying some lump crabmeat and trying this with some seasoning alterations. Will let you know how it works.

Because I had salmon and was thinking of the sea, I was listening to sea shanties while writing this post. This one is TheHub's favorite. (I think he sang this in Men's Chorus when he was in high school and that was many, many moons ago!) Thought I would share.

Friday, February 23, 2018

A Day Beginning a New Life

I have been pretty much absent from the blog world this week except for a post I had written for last week that was hanging out waiting for me to hit publish, but we had an unexpected event that required a little attention.

Son2 and GF2 have been an item for a while now, and we absolutely adore her. In fact, I told Son2 if they ever decided to quit seeing each other, we would be heart broken and we sure would miss HIM.
Well last week  he decided to do a little shopping, and came home with a gorgeous ring. Now I need to go into a little back story here.

Son2 has been a volunteer at The Independence Place of Alabama  (a facility to meet the social and recreational essentials of special needs adults) for a while now, and one day  he met this lovely new employee. They enjoyed conversations each time he was out there and with a gentle nudge from the director of the facility (the director of the facility is a relative of ours and nudges about as gently as a wrecking ball hits a brick building) they wound up going out to dinner one evening. The rest is history and they have been together ever since.

Friday afternoon of last week Son2 told me how he planned to propose. Since they are both so connected to IP he thought it would be perfect to do the deed there, with the participants helping him with the proposal. He asked me if I would make some cupcakes for him to take with him so they could have a little party afterwards. I told him that was fine and I would be delighted to do it. Well, he talked to the director and she thought it was a great idea, and somehow the party went from a participants and staff only to an event.  She called me and asked what all I was doing  for the party and told me there would be 50-60 people. WTH!?! I thought I was making two dozen cupcakes!!!

Instead, I started getting into party mode and had from Saturday- Wednesday morning to put it together. And by Wednesday morning I had it all worked out and a party was put together for 2 of the most wonderful, deserving people I have ever known.

The day came and all of the participants who go on Wednesday were there to help. After many secrets, lies and diversions they had it set up to be a complete surprise. If you want to see the video you can watch it here.  Begin at the 2:33 mark  because there was some lag time waiting on them to get from the car to the facility's dining room.

He likes it so he put a ring on to follow, shortly!

Monday, February 19, 2018

Week 7 New to Me Recipe

I have been doing that Whole30 thing since Feb 1, and this time I am doing one thing very differently. I am trying to make meals that are equally enjoyable for those not doing the program, as they are for those of us who are. (In our those those of us who are is just me and those who aren't is TheHub and anyone else who happens to pop by for a meal). Fortunately for me TheHub will eat pretty much anything and as long as it has a good flavor he is a happy camper.

I tried this mainly because my mouth was craving intense flavor, and the Girl Scout Thin Mints in the freezer were singing a sweet song to me, telling me I had been so diligent and it wouldn't hurt to eat just one. Except I know me and that one cookie would turn into a whole cellophane stack, leaving me with a sugar overload and the burden of regret.

Since I was hungry I needed something substantial as well as something delicious, so I started looking at various Whole 30/paleo blogs. When I saw a few recipes for buffalo chicken I knew my mouth would be happy, but they were all slow cooker recipes, it was about 6 and I needed something that could be ready within the hour. (I have found with little or no snacking between meals, especially when snacks are celery sticks with almond butter, that I am hungry earlier and we are eating within 30 minutes of TheHub getting home).

This link will take you directly to the page where the recipe I mostly used is found. I am writing it in the body of this post with the changes I made to it (mostly based on what I had available)

2 large sweet potatoes baked however you like to bake them.
( I stick mine in the microwave)
2 cups shredded lettuce (I had leaf lettuce so that's what I used.

1 1/2 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs cubed. (use whatever boneless skinless chicken you have on hand)
1/4 cup ghee (can use oil instead but use about 1/2 the amount)
5 ribs of celery, sliced thin
large carrots cut in thin "coins 1 zucchini grated
1/4 onion diced
1 clove garlic minced
1/2 cup Frank's Red Hot* sauce
1 teaspoon  salt
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
sliced scallions for garnish 

Melt the ghee in a dutch oven. Toss in the chicken and cook until the chicken loses its color. Remove from the pan and add the veggies and let them soften slightly. Add the rest of the ingredients, including the chicken  back to the pan and cook on medium low until the veggies are cooked through and the chicken is done.

Cut each potato in half and kind of squeeze it so the sweet potato is "loose".  Add 1/2 cup 
shredded lettuce to the cut side of each potato then tops with 1/4 of the mixture. Add either ranch or blue cheese dressing and sprinkle the top with scallions. 

This was beyond delicious. Son2 and GF2 dropped by to eat and they thought it was incredible. The half potato was enough for everyone but Son2 who went back for more of the chicken mixture. Even with him having seconds there was enough left for me to eat for lunch a couple of days later. So this passed the paleo and non paleo food taste test with flying colors. I am going to keep this in our meal rotation whether I am doing Whole30 or not.

I had made paleo ranch dressing and they all used it, but any ranch or blue cheese will work well. Also *Franks Hot Sauce is sugar free and falls in one of the few "regular food condiments" that are whole 30 compliant. It is a pretty mild "hot" sauce, so if you use a hotter one adjust accordingly.

And I apologize for being mostly absent from everyone's blogs lately. Lots of stuff is happening here right now and I will post about it a little later.

Have a great day and try some new recipes and let us know about it!

Tuesday, February 13, 2018


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,


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

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.)


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.