Friday, March 30, 2018

Son3 AKA Red

I know I refer to my sons as Son1, Son2, and Son3 because they do not write this blog and have expressed no interest in being a part of it. With respect of their privacy I keep them anonymous when mentioning them.  Until today, that is.

Son3, who actually has a real name, officially set up a Fb page yesterday to establish his his social media presence. He graduated last May and has been gainfully employed as a musician (and waiter, 'cause you do what you have to do to make ends meet in a very expensive city) since then, playing around NYC, in Sweden and lastly in Havana. In addition to playing, he is writing music, arranging back up instrumentation and learning the business end of the music world.

My sons all have very heavy and fast growing facial hair. At various times all of them have had beards so I was not shocked when he left high school (no more dress codes) and grew one himself. He hates to shave and though he is blond, he beard is a brilliant red. His given name is Will, but when the director of jazz studies gives you a nickname, it sticks, hence the stage name Red Hawley.

I am sharing the link to his FB page and invite you to go check it out. And please feel free to like it! Booking agents look at things like the number of like and followers performers have.

                                                             Red Hawley's FB Page

p.s. I am still going to call him Will

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Suburban Art, Alabama Style

While some of you are still experiencing snows and cold weather I thought I would show you the Alabama equivalent  of our spring downfall. Not to be confused with the inedible yellow snow this is some of the pollen art I see each morning. This particular work is approximately 6'x3' and is in the low point in the middle of of the pool cover. There are 6 other equal sized masterpieces in a straight line up/down the middle of the pool.  Nice isn't it? I think spring has fully sprung here!

                                                  Can someone please pass the Kleenex?

Friday, March 23, 2018

Weird Yet Very Delicious Recipe Week 12

This week I was getting all my ducks in a row to start back on round 2 of Whole 30. I do best when I begin if my fake ketchup, permitted mayo, salad dressings and a few things for breakfast are made and in the freezer. This diet is a protein/veggie based diet with some fruits and some fats but little else. For someone like me who is not a big fan of eggs, unless we have leftovers from the night before, I have a difficult time with breakfast. I do not like to eat in the morning anyway, but trying to concoct something from scratch is just about beyond my capabilities unless I drink 4 cups of coffee and wait until nearly 11 to eat. When I do that it screws up the timeline of every other meal, and I don't want to eat dinner every night at 9.

With my lack of egg fandom, I have been relying on other meats for breakfast and have made paleo chorizo, turkey-blueberry sausage and this new breakfast sausage I tweaked from several online paleo blogs. I am not trying to avoid crediting any of them but I truly combine ideas from 3 or 4 of them and make what I think will suit my tastes best.  This one at Heartbeet Kitchen comes closest to what I finally made.

3/4 lb. ground chicken (I actually weighed the chicken so I could give an accurate amount)
1 small red onion, minced
1 small mango, minced
1 pinch powdered garlic
1 small jalapeno, seeded, ribs removed, and minced
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
2 pinches chili powder
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped finely
dash of red pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste (I used a pinch of each)
1 small egg, beaten
1 tablespoon coconut oil, melted in a frying pan.

If you want to,  buy the chicken pre-ground.  At 4 bucks a pound I just was not going to do it. I had  boneless skinless chicken breasts (purchased for 1.77 per pound) in the freezer so I thawed them and tossed them in the food processor using the blade. It took a few quick pulses and it was ground fine enough for my needs. Transfer to a glass mixing bowl and add the remaining ingredients except for the coconut oil.

Mix well. According to everything I read I should have put on gloves to mix the ingredients with my hands. I figured since I wash my hands prior to cooking and wash them several times during the prep time I would live life on the edge, mix with my bare hands and wash them thoroughly once  everything was together.  Pat the chicken mix into patties (I went a little larger rather than smaller, 2 1/2-3 inches in diameter) and cook in the coconut oiled frying pan on the stovetop using a medium high setting. I cooked them for about 3 minutes, flipped them and cooked until the chicken lost its pink color. Then I lined a baking sheet with parchment and popped them in the freezer until they were frozen.After that they were transferred to a zip lock freezer bag. I did slightly undercook them so that I can serve them nice and hot without becoming overcooked during the warming process.

To cook from frozen, I simply put them on a plate and nuked them in the microwave until they were piping hot and cooked through. (about 1 1/2 minutes for 2.)

Everyone in my inner circle has tried them and loved them, from my 87 year old mother to GF2. TheHub thought they were great and not one person had any clue they were paleo and whole 30 compliant. (They think anything whole 30 must lack flavor. Silly people!)

I promise these are delicious. In fact, my first trial batch disappeared before I even got them to the freezer,  so I had to make more. I am lucky my freezer is stocked so I could defrost anther chicken breast, and I had  extra mangos just to nosh on this week.

I know some of you don't like hot stuff, so I cooked one patty before adding the peppers and chili powder.  It was still delicious and now Mom wants me to make her some (sans heat)  for her freezer. Since she rarely eats anymore I will be more than happy to make something she will enjoy.

Though I have only been eating these for breakfast, they would be delicious on a bun for a lunch or dinner sandwich. They would also be tasty made as small meat balls and served with a chili mango dipping sauce (maybe, but I would have to experiment with the sauce)

Do yourself a favor and give this a try. It is seriously delicious!

p.s. And yes, I do eat leftover tossed salad for breakfast.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Creatin' Kinda

I belong to a wonderful bookclub. We have been together for many years (nearly 20) and I have been friends with all of these ladies over 30 years. We do actually read books but we rarely talk about them because there is so much more we have to say to each other.

It's a small group, just 5 of us are still in it, and we meet monthly at a local restaurant for dinner and discussions. Until about 3 years ago we had it at our homes, rotating between us, but we have gotten older with different demands so we gave that up and support the local economy by eating out.

I say we meet each month but that is only in theory. We all have elderly parents and there seems to always be issues associated with parental needs, so we are rarely all together. (This month for example: Bookclub T's mom fell the morning of bookclub and fractured her pelvis, which meant she was busy getting her Mom through the emergency room and into rehab.) We try to have it if at least 3 of us can meet, but some months we boot it altogether.

Our Christmas event is usually the Big Kahuna of our year. We always have it at Bookclub C's house which is decorated to the nines and there is food fit for a king. And wine, did I say wine? Plus we exchange gifts and have a lot of laughs.  This year T's mom was having serious medical issues, C's dad was/is in advanced stages of Parkinson's, P's dad had a fall and required additional care and rehab and J and I have the same mom who can be either fine or bat shit crazy, depending on the day. So we were all dealing with parents, adult kids visiting for Christmas, general holiday stuff, plus the flu.

We canceled Christmas!

Which brings me to the point of this post. Shortly after the holidays, Son3 called us to say a couple of his friends were passing through Alabama (from L.A. heading to the east coast) and would like to stay at our house for a couple of nights. It was fine but I really would have liked to get the phone call a little more than 5 hours ahead of their arrival time. Yeah, I know, people in Hell want ice water and they don't get it either. I was left scurrying around trying to get the house in company shape, which included putting all the Christmas decorations, that had been taken down but were strewn throughout the entire upstairs, in their proper place. Somewhere and somehow my gifts for Bookclub were in the Christmas stuff and got packed in my decoration closet. I have looked for them several times and they have not turned up yet, which must mean they are actually inside a sealed box. Bummer! But since I know these ladies so well they are laughing each month as I tell them their presents have still not reappeared. (Wouldn't you know this was the one time I had tiny boxes. I found them really cool necklaces by a craftswoman in New York and had bought them in April. They will still be cool necklaces and I guess now I will wait until next December and give them 2 gifts). In addition to the necklaces I had bought spray bottles to make them some homemade concoctions.

Twice now we have stayed at the Crown Plaza when visiting Son3 and his family. They have this wonderful little sleep spray for your pillow. It is called Temple Spa and I googled it and bought me a bottle to use at home  Every.  Single.  Night. I am hooked on it and thought at first I would get each of them a bottle so they could sleep as well as I do. That is, until I ordered it for me and it was 34 bucks. As much as I love them I was not going to spend that much on a side item. Instead I used spray bottles I found very inexpensively on Jump Send (Amazon dealers who are trying to establish their product). I found several sites by googling pillow spray and used the directions but changed the actual essential oils to mimic the Temple Spa scent and came dang close.

5 tablespoons witch hazel
50 drops lavender essential oil
9 drops bergamot  essential oil
4 drops orange essential oil
10 tablespoons water

Pour the witch hazel into the spray bottle and add the drops of essential oils. You can be very professional and put the cap on the bottle to shake it well or do like I did and cap it with your finger while shaking it. The downside is your finger tip will smell like essential oils for about an hour even after washing your hands well, but I will sacrifice a floral scent for ease any day.
Add the water and shake again and you have a nice little spray for your pillow. One spritz is all it takes and I promise you will sleep like a baby. (A good baby who sleeps well, not one of those babies like Son3 was, who have colic and never sleep until they are about 6 months old)

I found the Pillow spray labels here.

While I had my oils out I made a knock off Poo Pourri  spray for my powder room. It follows basically the same method with just slight changes.

4 tablespoons rubbing alcohol
25 drops lemongrass essential oil
10 drops orange essential oil
4 drops peppermint essential oil.

The spray at Bed, Bath and Beyond is 10 bucks. I had the essential oils anyway left over from other projects, I had alcohol and a left over spray bottle so this was a no brainer alternative to purchasing it.

Poo Pourri knock off  spray labels can be found here. I stuck both labels on using a glue stick and it worked fine, but I generally try the easiest method first then change it if I have to. Fortunately I didn't!

                                         And this is what the final products looked like.

I am going to make another bottle of both for the guest room bedroom and bathroom. Now who wants to come visit?

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Recipe for Week 11

(This was written Friday morning, but I forgot to hit publish. Such is life)

OK I understand this is not really a recipe, but more of a concept but I am counting it nonetheless since we have never eaten it like this before. (If that is not a lame excuse for an opening sentence I don't know what is!)

Last night began March Madness and our team played (not well but at least they played) so TheHub wanted to have a basketball game meal. Generally when we have a game night meal it is something like hotdogs, but I was not in the mood for them. A few days ago I was flipping through some online recipes and I saw a recipe for sheet pan chicken nachos. I couldn't find it last night, but thought "Hey it's nachos." It's not like I needed a recipe to make them really so I winged it, which is a play on words since I sauced the chicken with buffalo wing sauce.

Here is a breakdown of how I made it. Take what works for you and change what doesn't. It's nachos and there are no rules.

1/2 bag leftover tortilla chips (enough to fill the bottom of a jelly roll pan)
1 boneless chicken breast and 1 boneless chicken thigh, poached and shredded.
Buffalo wing sauce (I used Moore's blue cheese buffalo wing sauce cause it was in the fridge)
1 can petite diced tomatoes, well drained (If tomatoes were in season I would have used fresh ones, but they are very hard and pithy here right now.)
2 jalapenos seeded, ribbed and diced, (Substitute bell peppers or omit entirely)
1 small can drained sliced black olives.
1/2 onion minced
1 8oz. pack of taco flavored cheese shreds
4 ounces (ish) grated white cheddar (it was what I had in the fridge)

Line a jelly roll pan (15 x 10 large baking sheet with sides) with aluminum foil. Put the tortilla chips all over the bottom of the pan. Put the shredded chicken in a bowl and toss with buffalo wing sauce. I used about 4 tablespoons, but had a lot left in the bowl after coating the chicken. Arrange the chicken somewhat evenly over the chips then sprinkle the tomatoes over the chicken. Add the jalapenos, olives and onions in that order over the tomatoes. Top with the cheeses and bake at 350 for about 15-20 minutes until the cheese is nice and melty and the veggies are softish. Serve piping hot with a side salad. We all thought it would have been better with a dollop of sour cream but we had none. Enjoy!

I wish I had used black beans and some frozen niblet corn, or better yet the Trader Joe's fire roasted frozen corn but I had none. Next time I will. This was really good and we all decided we wanted to have it again. I might even make it without chicken and just toss the onions in the buffalo sauce, or change the whole thing and use bbq sauce. I figure the sky and imagination are the only limits, so next time we will have sky high nachos. It is quick and easy and is going to replace the hot dog dinner before TV games.

The best thing about the whole baking pan concept is having just on pan to clean and since it is lined prior to cooking, the pan really just has to be rinsed well. Try it, you might like it!

p.s. This is definitely NOT Whole30, but it is so good!

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Happy St. Pats!

Thought I would start my day like I have for many years with this wonderful video and celebrate the day Alabama style. Then I decided I should not keep this to myself, but should share it with everyone. My personal favorite is the artist rendering. Enjoy!

And just in case you are interested a follow-up parody post.

Thursday, March 15, 2018


When Son3 was young he overheard me calling My Beloved Sister one day and wanted to know why I had called her, disguised my voice and said "Beware the Eyes of March"
So whether today summons your inner Caesar or inner Warby Parker, watch out for your Ides or Eyes!

Friday, March 9, 2018

New Recipe Week 10

I have just finished 30 days on the Whole 30 program and am taking a couple of days off before I begin it again. It is a very good way for me to eat, plus it keeps me on my toes trying new and different ways of preparing our foods. I find myself looking through an enormous collection of recipes. Generally while I am wandering through the jungles of paleo land some totally random and inappropriate recipe will find its way through the search maze of meats and vegetables. The one I tried this past week is one such recipe. Why in the world Sweet Alabama Pecan Bread would pop up in a paleo search is beyond me, but I did put it in my new bookmark category, "When Whole 30 is Over".

Last night I decided to bake something and looked at the new category. I saw this recipe bookmarked, immediately clicked on it (here) and decided this was easy, quick and would suit my criteria; something sweet, quick, using what I had in the pantry and the fewest utensils possible.

1 c sugar
1 c brown sugar
4 eggs beaten
1 c oil
1 1/2 c self-rising flour
1 tsp vanilla
2 c pecans, finely chopped

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease the pan (Use Pam, vegetable oil or melted butter. I save all my butter wrappers in a baggie in the freezer and use them to grease pans, tossing them after I use them)

There is a cute little tutorial on the recipe page and everything is measured into little bowls and tossed in the mixing bowl at the appropriate time. At the end of the recipe you will have used 7 bowls, a wooden spoon, baking pan, spatula, and knife, plus your measuring utensils. Trust me when I tell you, that is way more than necessary. I made this recipe using one mixing bowl, 1 wooden spoon, baking pan, 1 cup measuring cup and 1/2 cup measuring cup. I am writing the instructions as I made it, not as the recipe said. I definitely believe in the K.I.S.S. method of cooking (Keep it stupid simple or keep it simple, stupid)
Measure the sugars using the 1 cup measuring cup and toss in the mixing bowl. I always start with the white sugar because it has no dampness to it at all, followed by the brown sugar. Next measure the one cup of oil using the same measuring cup. (And no, you do not have to be like my mother was and wash it between each measure. The oil does not care if a few grains of brown sugar remain in the measuring cup and it will not alter the recipe at all)
Stir the sugar and the oil until it is well blended. Add the eggs one at a time to the bowl. They will rest on top of the sugar/oil mix. Using your wooden spoon beat them lightly then incorporate them into the sugar mix. Then add 1 teaspoon vanilla (I eyeball this, but I am pretty good at eyeballing)  and stir everything together.  Use the half cup measure and add the 1 1/2 cups self rising flour. Mix it in, but don't over stir. Add 2 cups chopped pecans. Stir them through then turn the batter into the prepared pan and smooth it using the back of the wooden spoon as your spatula.
Bake for 25 -30 minutes. Let cool and cut into squares.

The verdict? This is a dense sweet bread and it was fine, especially for the ease of cooking, but it was not the best thing I have ever made. I live in pecan country and have access to free and/or relatively cheap pecans so I always have a large store of them in my freezer. I would probably not pay full price for the amount used in this recipe because it was just not spectacular enough to warrant the regular retail price. It would probably be equally good using whatever nut is readily available to wherever you live except for black walnuts. I think their taste might overpower the batter.
I used grapeseed oil which is a neutral tasting oil and I actually thought the batter would benefit from some additional flavor. Maybe 3/4 cup oil to 1/4 cup butter. I would also use half light brown sugar and half dark brown, just to add some additional taste.

We tried it fresh out of the oven and were all underwhelmed, but I had a small piece this morning to see if it improved after sitting and it was much improved. If you make it, make it at least a half a day in advance so it can cool totally. Honestly I will most likely never make this again. It is perfectly fine, but that is all it is__fine.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Sorry, Y'all

I understand and feel the pain of all of you who are digging out from the snowfall. 
I looked out my kitchen door this morning to check the weather and this is what I saw while I was standing on my deck.
Instead of gray skies and snowfall I saw sunny blue skies and a pink puff of redbud blooms.
I am pretty sure spring has sprung here, but I also know Mother Nature can be sort of fickle, so I am not planting anything __yet!

Monday, March 5, 2018


Son3 is a musician and I guess it is true that birds of a feather do flock together because his beautiful GF3 is also a very talented singer/songwriter/actor.
Yesterday she posted this beautiful song she wrote and I thought I would share it with anyone who wants to invest 2:49 listening to her lovely voice and lyrics. The link here should connect you with her recording. Hope you Raining as much as I did.

Friday, March 2, 2018

March Joy List

I begin March with a new list of things that should bring me the joy that I am actively seeking in everyday life. I see and read so much around me that is unpleasant, cruel or heartbreaking and I don't want to sound like I am becoming an ostrich and just burying my head in the sand, oblivious to everything happening in the world but I can either rant and rail or I can seek joy that is abundant all around me.  I choose joy.

1. Continue expanding my personal horizons
a. Listen to "In This House On This Morning" completely through, uninterrupted.
    Listen to "la Boheme"  completely and uninterrupted.
    Listen to "Peter and the Wolf", completely and uninterrupted
    Listen to   "Symphony No.3" by Mahler completely and uninterrupted

b. Read that blooming self help book I didn't read in February.

c. Try a new to me beverage each week

d. Make a new to me recipe each week

e. Try a different hair color.

f. Read a new to me magazine each week (doable thanks to DIL's Texture gift)

2.   Call My Beloved Sister on March 15. Pitch my voice down as low as possible  and say "Beware the Ides of March" (She hates March and particularly the Ides, so naturally I have been doing this to her for about 30 years)

3.   Try something I have never done before.

4.   Go to a movie by myself, popcorn optional

5.   Go to a play or concert

6.   Volunteer

7.   Have a birthday celebration for Mom

8.   Learn a new song on the piano

9.  Give someone flowers.

10. Take food to someone having a hard time

11. Call a long neglected friend

12. Send a thinking of you card simply because I am thinking of someone

13. Enjoy sitting in the sun and listening to the birds sing

14. Watch young kids playing and listen to their giggles

15. Invest some time looking at plants and planning the summer garden.

16. Create something weekly that is not food related

17. Tell someone how important they are to my life. (No idea who )

18. Do something for someone expecting nothing in return. Anonymous is best

19 During the days between whole30 (Yes I am doing it again but taking a 2 day break) bake bread.

20. Create time to just listen to TheHub (I am bad about not paying attention or multi tasking sometimes)

21. Visit a small town near me and enjoy its uniqueness.

22.  Spend at least one weekend at the lake.

23. Take Mom somewhere different (Maybe exploring the small town)

24. Take Mom out at night, she misses the lights

25. Have an fire outside and roast marshmallows for s'mores.

26. FaceTime weekly with the most beautiful girl in my world.

27. Binge watch something on a rainy day.

28. Have a St. Patrick's Day celebration

29. Have a small dinner party

30. Try to start each day spirit filled.

31. Be kinder than usual. Our world needs each of us to step up our kindness.

32. Keep a list of daily joys. They are out there but sometimes I forget to look for them.