Saturday, February 27, 2021

Product Review, Where Have You Been All My Life

I am really proud of TheHub because he played along with me during my February pantry challenge and did no recreational shopping for the entire month. Today he only worked a half a day and when he got home one of the first things he wanted to do was go somewhere__anywhere was fine with him as long as we ended our trek at Publix.

First we ran by his barber so he could get a haircut. We took my car this time since his is in the shop and he has a loaner car. I had taken my iPad to sit in the car and read while he got  his "do" in order. One of us forgot our mask, so one of us had to run hame to grab a mask while the other one of us got a haircut wearing a peach floral mask. Oddly, it is not the first time one of us has used that peach floral mask in an emergency, but we can both continue on with our plans because one of us has several masks in their backpack which they had left at home today.
Long story short, one of our heads looks very nice now and one of us did not get to read a single word.

After the haircut, we drove to UPS to return a modem to AT&T. Hell will freeze over before I do business with them again. Let's just say it took about 6 hours of phone calls to rectify their over billing before we cancelled the service at the lake place. They are lucky I am not a lawyer, because if I were I would file a class action suit so quickly it would make their collective heads spin. I just have 3 words about their practices. Bait and Switch

Next we drove to Publix. When TheHub walked in it was like the heavens had opened for him and I am pretty sure he heard the angels welcoming him home. It had been so long since he stopped in that he had to ask the cashier and the bagger their names. They had both started at the beginning of the month and he had never seen them before. 

I do not do this very often, but Publix had a BOGO deal on a product I had never tried before and I was very excited to be able to shop regularly again. I had already purchased everything I needed for my February pantry challenge and finished it spending only 2 bucks over my 60 dollar budget. Although it is still February, TheHub and I went to Publix today with the knowledge that anything we bought would be part of our March food budget.  

Bless him because every time he came up to our buggy (southern for cart) with an item I sort of dashed his joy by telling him we really didn't need whatever it was. Finally he bought what he wanted all along; a multi pack of individual packaged chips and chocolate covered peanuts. Meanwhile I knew fennel bulbs were on sale and there were a couple of other items I could use (need? no way) and the BOGO item I had seen advertised that was yelling at me to buy. 

I am in no way affiliated with Publix nor Pickle de Gallo.  I bought it, actually 2 since there were part of the BOGO ad.  Oh my goodness. This stuff is delicious. Imagine a crispy crunchy, slightly acidic, dill salsa. I just had a taste of it, but I am pretty sure I will plan meals where I can use it. Right now I am imagining pieces of sliced salami topped with this. If you are so inclined and you see it grab it and give it a try. If you hate it, that's ok too, just send it to me!

Friday, February 26, 2021

All the Joys: Week Whatever!

As most of you who read this know, I keep a list of things that happen daily to bring me joy. It was wonderful to read what brought me happiness each day last year, so I am continuing the practice for 2021. Though, if this year continues on its current trajectory, instead of sipping a glass of wine and reading them, New Years Eve might find me doing vodka shots instead.

I imagine like everyone else, this Covid fatigue is getting to me. I spend most of my time during the day alone, TheHub is in the middle of a project that has extended his hours for while, and I am alone even more. 

Though I am able to entertain myself, I have found I do miss his face and talking to him at night. He is putting in 14 hour days and it is wearing on him. He comes in, eats, and falls asleep on the couch until I wake him to go to bed.  It is just for few more weeks and we can certainly make it through those weeks, but I wish we didn't have to.

I will be honest and tell you, between unloading boxes and moving stuff from here to there, it was not the most joyful week but there are still bright spots every day. So these were some of the joys for week 8'

Friday: My neighbor came over to see if we had any furniture her rising college sophomore could use in his apartment next fall. She picked out a few things she thought would work. 
Later, TheHub and I ran to grab something for dinner, because Friday night is date night even if we can't go anywhere. Whoever thought picking up a meal would count as going out? Not me!

Saturday: I got out and drove around, just to see something other than the house and yard.  Pandemic entertainment is such a different animal. 

Sunday: What a difference a day makes. We went to sleep on a cold night and woke to a gorgeous day. My neighbor and her son came by and took several things from the pile I fondly referred to as furniture mountain. I was also able to run some things that I had here for Pip when she was a baby to another of my neighbors who has a brand new granddaughter. Now the baby tub, bumpo, and boppy have a new purpose (and they are out of my house).

 Monday: I watched/listened to Nomadland while I was sorting stuff from the lake boxes. Talked with Son3 and heard that DIL3 was on the downside of Covid, which is the biggest joy of the week.

Tuesday: I finished watching Call My Agent, nodded off for a few minutes on the couch and dreamed in French.  I had no idea what anyone in my dream was saying.  It was still a fun whimsical dream!

Wednesday: The Exchange Club came by to remove most of furniture mountain. When I spoke to them they could be here in one day. Vapor ministries was unable to give me a definite time when they would pick up so the win went to Exchange Club Yay! I can use the basement door now.
It was also an Alabama basketball game night__Arkansas won__oh well! Roll Tide anyway!

Thursday: This was a phone call day. Straight out of the chute I talked with Son3. He told me DIL3 is not only feeling much better, but she is slowly regaining her sense of smell. She shoved  a slice of ginger under her nose and could slightly smell it, which was leaps and bounds above having no sense of smell or taste. Had a delightful phone call with one of my best friends and then another call with one of my favorite bloggers! What a joy it is to talk with humans and laugh.

Now go about your week and look for joy. It is always out there!

Monday, February 22, 2021

Pantry Challenge Success/Keto Fail

As you know I attempt to make a meal plan weekly and follow it sometimes and sometimes just give it the old heave ho and move on to something in an entirely different direction. 
Though this is still my weekly meal plan blog, I thought it might be a decent time for a little explanation of why/how I format my blog posts, before getting into the actual meal plan part of it.

Sometimes I feel very sorry for those of you who read my blog. I love music and listen to it every single day. Then I decided to start incorporating it into my blog posts. Unfortunately for y'all, you get a sneak peek into how my noggin works, because I search for the first song that pops into my head when I am editing my posts. Obviously when the first item on my planned menu was Hungarian beef and potato soup, the only song that jumped into the active part of my brain was Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody. Conversely when I posted about cookies you were "treated" to Cookie Monster's C is for Cookies. All I can do is apologize to you for subjecting you to this, but even though my thought processes amuse/confound me,  I will probably continue.

And now on to the actual menu recap and plan for the week.
This is what was planned:
1. Hungarian Beef and potato soup Happier than a Pig in Mud
2. Leftover ziti and Chicken parm (Sunday lunch), tossed salad 
3. Chili, coleslaw, cornbread
4. Taco salad
5. Pulled pork sandwiches, caulitato salad, pickles
6. Take out
7. Orange glazed chicken, rice or caulirice, broccoli

Then this happened:
Monday: It was a cold, rainy day and I had to make a run to the lake to pack up a few more boxes before the movers would be there. By the time I left it was getting late and I wanted a quick meal that I could make in one pot and we could eat in one bowl. 
Hungarian Beef and potato soup

Tuesday: I woke to snow, oh crap, and I had movers coming to the lake. Laugh if you will, but we do not drive in snow here. There is no snow removal equipment, no salt, no anything to make snow driving safe. I had to be at the lake and when I called Kevin, my favorite mover, he volunteered to have his dad, who was a long distance truck driver to pick me up and take me to the lake to get the house opened so they could begin the moving process. We slid a bit until we got on the interstate and then the roads were fine. Luckily the lake place is just far enough south that the back roads there had no problems.  I was so glad because the driveway there would have been treacherous if it were iced over. After moving all day, and unloading an entire house of furniture into the basement of my current home I was tired. 
TheHub was not able to help with the move so he nuked leftovers for dinner. It was not a great dinner but all I really wanted was to eat, take a shower and go to sleep.
Leftover ziti and leftover chicken parm

Wednesday: After driving back to the lake place to clean it, then stating to tackle the odds and ends in boxes that were/are still all over the house, I forgot to take anything out of the freezer for dinner. While digging around for something to cook I found a package I had bought before Thanksgiving that kept getting pushed back farther in the freezer. Trader Joe's to the dinner rescue!  They come in a pack of two which I placed in small spring form pans and baked in the air fryer.
Odd isn't it, that even though I had to rely on a frozen entree cooked in the air fryer for dinner I still found time to make a pan of brownies in the real oven. What can I say except __ afterthought  and priorities!
Beef and Stout Pie, broccoli, brownies

Thursday: We closed on the lake place, turned the keys and codes over to the new owners. We were the last appointment at the attorney's office and had planned on picking up a celebration dinner, since one of us (me) will still not go into a restaurant. Even though I have been fortunate enough to have been through both phases of the vaccination, we still had three friends die in one week from Covid, and I take the disease seriously. Until there is more data on the effectiveness of the meds, I will not "feel free to move around the country". So our big celebratory dinner was standard take out fare.
Fish dinner from Jack's (local hamburger joint)
Friday: I was tired and still moving stuff, incorporating some into our house and getting donation boxes packed. I had already decided we would either have canned soup or go pick something up. TheHub did not want soup so we drove nearby to a BBQ joint.
Full Moon BBQ Stuffed baked potato or smoked wings and coleslaw

Saturday: TheHub worked all day, so I occupied most of the day unloading boxes and containers from the lake. One day I will be finished__maybe! At least I did remember to take something out of the freezer to make for dinner. In the process of unloading lake stuff I found a jar of sauce I had bought for the lake food stash. It was an easy addition to turn something plain into something tasty. Though it was slightly past its expiration date, I decided to live on the edge and use it anyway. I would like to report that we are both alive and suffered no ill effects from consuming out of date sauce.
Chicken with jalfrezi sauce over brown rice, broccoli, cookies

Sunday: This was supposed to be the day of rest and, by golly, I rested. I sat on the couch in the den and binged Call My Agent. Normally I binge listen instead of watching by running the sound through the Dot so I can hear it throughout the main floor of the house. Unfortunately the show is a French production with subtitles, my French is extremely limited virtually nil, and the only way I can keep up with the dialogue is to sit and actively watch/read. So I did. When I was through binging for the day I remembered I still needed to cook dinner. This was when having a pack of frozen ground chuck with taco spices already in the browned meat comes in so handy.
Taco Salad

Plans for this week:
1. Spaghetti sauce over pasta or noodles, tossed salad
2. Italian sausage with peppers, onions and tomatoes,  green beans
3. Lamb chops, tossed salad, mashed potatoes or caulimash
4. coq au vin, rice or caulirice, brussels sprouts
5. Cottage pie, coleslaw
6. Steak, tossed salad, broccoli 
7. Takeout

Additionally to the menu I need to make some sort of keto dessert and more keto dinner rolls.

Used for the week:
From the freezer: 
1 pack ground chuck
1 quart beef broth
Trader Joe's beef and stout pies (BTW I will buy more, they were really good)
1 pack boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 pack browned taco beef

From the fridge:
2 bell peppers
broccoli (I had a gigantic head of broccoli)
almond milk
sharp cheddar
sour cream
heavy cream

From the pantry:
herbs and spices
avocado oil
olive oil
brownie mix
brown rice
brown sugar
baking powder
baking soda
1/2 bag chocolate chips
jarred jalfrezi sauce
leftover Tostito's 
sunflower seed

As I said before, I am not counting take out meals, nor the 3 bucks I spent on cookies and coffee for my sister and me, as part of the food budget. We have a separate T and E  fund that includes dining out. Pre-Covid we ate out every Friday night, and once a month we ate at a really nice restaurant. Since we have also done no travel, our T and E budget is still untouched except for our takeout meals, most of which are very inexpensive.

Food budget going into the week: 30.95

Oreos  3.28 (Moving day necessity)
bananas 2.73

Remaining in the 60 dollar monthly budget 24.94

Needed to buy for the coming week
bell peppers
coleslaw mix
spaghetti noodles

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Salvaged From The Pantry

I was craving cookies, plus baking relaxes me. I had decided to take this week off of keto anyway, so it was a great week to do a little baking. I do keep an overstocked a well stocked pantry and I have an island cabinet I fondly call my baking center. It houses a ridiculous amount of baking supplies. Every so often I have to go through it to inventory and rearrange things that were put back in the wrong place, but also to  see what needs to be used or quickly frozen. Since I have recently added so many things from the lake, it had to be done.

I found a huge jar of raw sunflower seed which has a pretty short shelf life. I ground most of it into flour to tore in the freezer, because it is a pretty decent keto flour. I was packing it in one cup measures and had enough flour for 3 packs, with about a half of a cup of whole seed  leftover that  needed to be used in something else. I had an Aha moment and decided to make some sunflower cookies. I found a couple of recipes online, but did not like the way either sounded so I merged the two and came up with a pretty decent cookie.

Sunflower Cookies
Preheat oven to 350 degrees

3/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 small egg or half a large one
1 1/2 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup shredded coconut (I used a lingering partial bag of sweetened coconut)
1/2 cup sunflower seed (I had raw but roasted, salted would be delicious too)

Mix the butter and sugars until creamy, add the egg and beat until smooth and well incorporated. Mix the flour, baking soda and baking powder and slowly add to the butter mixture. Use a mixer to combine well then blend in the coconut and sunflower seed.

Place parchment on 2 large cookie sheets. roll the cookies into balls about the size of a large  shooter marble.  Place them fairly far apart because they will spread during the baking process. Slightly flatten the tops of the cookies. (I used my fingers but they were just for TheHub and me. If I had been making these with the ten ton of sharing them, I would have used a tamper or the bottom of a glass. Bake about 13-15 minutes (depends on your personal oven) until the cookies are golden brown. Let them sit on the cookie sheet until they cool a couple of minutes, then transfer to a wire rack. (I honestly almost always skip this part, but these cookies crisp so nicely they really do better with the air circulating while they cool)

I did not make these with the intention of having them become a regular in the cookie rotation but they were perfectly crisp, nutty tasting cookies which were delicious with coffee or a cup of tea. I tried it with both for science. Yes, that's what it was__science. Give them a try, you might really like them. I know we did.

Friday, February 19, 2021

Week 7 Joys for a Difficult Week

This was a blurry week, filled mainly with comings and goings to and from the lake place as we moved to the final phase__the closing! The joys are different this week because I had little time to stop and reflect on the very simple daily things that bring me pleasures.The joys I found this week are less individual daily joys, but more like a composite picture of the joy of forward movement.

Friday: Facetime with Pip is always a joy. Watching her in the snow was an even greater joy. I worked around the house getting some space ready for the onslaught of items moved from the lake.

Saturday: TheHub and I went to the lake place with a rented panel van and my van We had every single yard tool down there that we have here, not to mention 2 lawnmowers (fortunately before we loaded it Saturday, the home buyer decided he wanted to buy the riding mower) sawhorses, a portable work bench, just a lot of things that would not fit in my passenger van. My vehicle was loaded with tv's and any small furniture that would fit. The only joy was that one more load was finished.

Sunday: We woke at butt early o-thirty, and drove to the lake for another run, to bring more stuff here. All the art work, and decorative items came home with us.

Monday: I went to the lake__again to make sure all the boxes were well packed, any furniture that could be dissembled (beds) were taken apart, to be ready for the movers.

Tuesday: In spite of snow and the cold, the movers came and got everything packed, moved to my house and left without damaging anything (except for one small end table that I did not care about at all) Now that was behind us. A few of the neighbors who wanted a couple of the items I listed to give away came and got them so at least a few things are gone. I am waiting on the pickup which was supposed to happen Thursday but is behind schedule because of the snow, so I am not sure when it will actually be picked up, but at least it is in the basement and not in the main part of the house.

Wednesday: My sister and I went to the lake. She volunteered to help me clean the place. She vacuumed, swept and mopped while I cleaned the bathrooms, oven, refrigerator, kitchen cabinets, etc.  We were there about 2 hours working non stop, but we had a fun trip home laughing and talking. My sons have always said she and I occupy two bodies with one mind. Twice on the drive we started saying the very same thing at the same time. We both love chocolate and I suggested we stop at McDonalds to grab a cup of coffee and a chocolate chip cookie. She agreed and at the same moment we both said "I'm peckish:"  Later we were driving and I mentioned that I was tired of doing most things concerning this move by myself . At that moment we both quoted a line from The Crucible, "I were a good wife, I were" Then we both burst out laughing about how my kids were right!


And just like that, with a few strokes of a pen, the house now belongs to its new owners and TheHub and I have one less property to worry about. Now it is onward to getting Mom's house sold and getting everything from the lake place dispersed so my primary residence will look like a home again and not a holding station for lake furnishings.

Thursday, February 18, 2021

The Final Farewell


Today we close the final chapter on the lake place. Closing is set for 4:30 and we anticipate no snafus. The purchasing couple had their final walk through and all is set to close timely and drama free.

Yesterday my beloved sister and I spent the day cleaning it and got to see the view from the house for the final time. Not only was it gorgeous, but a blue heron was at the waters edge the entire time we were there. What a great goodbye!  

I am not sure there is a more beautiful view on the entire lake. You can see glorious sunrises and breathtaking sunsets all from the screened porch. I hope the new owners have many wonderful times there.They are very excited to move in so I know we are leaving it in good hands,

 I am certain I will miss it a bit, but at the same time I am so excited that we no longer have to plan weekend work trips. Until TheHub decides to retire we can enjoy our home, and after retirement adventures await that are not tied to yard work!

And once I get everything from the lake (that is now in my basement) out and gone, and get things back into shape here, I will be thrilled. No! Beyond thrilled! Ecstatic!

Monday, February 15, 2021

What is a Plan Anyway?

This has been one weird week for us. I have been getting everything ready of the big move from the lake house, and have been down there a lot packing, moving, sorting, and tossing things. When I have not been at the lake i have been on the phone cancelling various services we have. It's been a full and not a particularly fun week, but it all comes to an end on Thursday when we close and hand over the metaphorical keys. ( Keyless lock, so we will really just hand over the code)

Next up is making sure the thrift store that is supposed to pick up all the furnishings gets here in the scheduled timely manner. Right now my personal living room and dining room look almost like a war zone with boxed and bagged excess everywhere. It will all change once Vapor comes and takes it all away. Until then, I feel like I am juggling 5 balls and if one falls the whole lot of them will come tumbling down.

I still have a menu plan and am still doing the pantry challenge. My budget of a 60 buck month is still in place, but I am excluding take out. We take out once a week and I figured this week with running back and forth to the lake might be a two take out week. I was right but at least they were lunch take outs and not as pricy as our normal dinner ones.

What I thought might happen:
1. Steak, potatoes or caulimash, tossed salad, broccoli
2. Mac and cheese or Mac-less and cheese, peas, coleslaw, no corn cornbread
3 Egg roll in a bowl
4. Open face bbq chicken sandwich, cucumber onion and tomato salad
5. Philly cheese steak casserole
6. "Fried chicken" rice or caulirice, green beans, some sort of salad (undecided right now)
7. Take out

What really did happen;
Monday: TheHub called to say he was going to have a dinner meeting. No way I was going to cook just for me,
2 pieces keto toast, keto berry fruit spread, keto hot chocolate

Tuesday: Since TheHub was out for dinner Monday night the expected leftover meal happened Tuesday instead. I only had to add some salad and, of course, caulimash for me to the meal. 
Leftover filet, scalloped potatoes or caulimash, tossed salad

Wednesday: Nothing exciting happened, I was just getting the house ready for the onslaught of furniture coming from the lake place and wanted something simple and easy for dinner.
Open face chicken bbq sandwiches, potato chips or none, coleslaw, pickled okra

Thursday: TheHub called to let me know he would be working much later than usual, so I chose to prepare meal that would "keep"until he got home. 
Philly cheesesteak casserole (That was it for the meal, we ate late and it was fine by itself)

Friday: Friday is generally our "date night". Pre-Covid we went out to eat every Friday night and post covid we have been doing take out, but TheHub has been snowed under with work at the office and I have been snowed under getting things ready for the lake move. We decided to just eat in and have a very simple supper. TheHub was asleep on the couch by 8:30, because he was tired and we are so exciting!
Macaroni and cheese or fakearoni and cheese, turnip greens, keto cornbread

Saturday:  We rented a panel van and took my car to the lake to do some packing and loading things that we could manage. To our current disadvantage the lake place was equipped just like our home so we now have doubles of everything. Leaf blowers, lawn mowers, edgers, tools, propane grills, keurigs, waffle irons. . . literally 2 of everything any home might need or want. We got home in the late afternoon, unloaded, took the van back and decided to grab late lunch/early dinner on the way home from the truck rental place.
Takeout hot dog or grilled breadless chicken sandwich

Sunday: We both woke butt early and headed to the lake again to load a few more things and prepare a few more boxes for the move. On the way home we were talking about Valentine's Day celebrations in the past (we have been together for so many Valentine's Days throughout our lives) and what we wanted to do to celebrate. We were both tired and decided we would unload the car__again, then grab a take out late lunch. After we ate we both fell asleep accidentally in our favorite spots in the den. We woke, watched about half of "Elizabeth" worked more getting the basement ready for the furniture arrival, then decided a bowl of soup would be the perfect dinner.
Canned cream of mushroom or broccoli cheese soup

Used from storage:
1 small pack frozen caulimash
2 small packs chicken pieces
Aldi zero carb bread 5 slices
1 pack browned ground chuck
pack pepper strips

leftover bagged spring greens mix
grape tomatoes
1/2 cucumber
berry fruit spread
regular bbq sauce
keto bbq sauce
cream cheese
2 bell peppers
Keto Asian dressing
Monterey Jack cheese
cheddar cheese
2 eggs

2 onions
keto hot chocolate mix (Lakanto brand. Glad I already had it because it is pricy)
canned turnip greens
almond flour
sliced bread
canned cream of mushroom soup (TheHubs favorite)
canned broccoli and cheese soup (brought from Mom's pantry when we cleaned her kitchen)
potato chips (one unopened bag left from Son3 and DIL3's visit)

Purchased: Nothing! Nada! Nil! Zip! Zero! Even TheHub did not do any recreational shopping. this week. I still have all $30.95 to stay within my 60 buck budget for February, and because the food ads, have been sort of bad lately I have not even been tempted to stock up on anything. 

What might happen again: (Keto is off the table through Tuesday)
1. Hungarian Beef and potato soup Happier than a Pig in Mud
2. Leftover ziti and Chicken parm (Sunday lunch), tossed salad 
3. Chili, coleslaw, cornbread
4. Taco salad
5. Pulled pork sandwiches, caulitato salad, pickles
6. Take out
7. Orange glazed chicken, rice or caulirice, broccoli

And now I have to get my rear in gear and make one last trip to the lake house before the movers come Tuesday.

Have a great week staying on plan, going off plan, or with no plan at all!

Friday, February 12, 2021

2021 Week 6 Joys

Wow this month is flying by just like the last one did. I don't see how that is possible since one day seems much like the next, but it definitely is happening. Or maybe it is because all of a sudden I have gotten old and the time it takes the earth to circle the sun is relative to the number of trips I have taken on it. No matter how it is happening the feeling of time rushing by is very real to me. 

As is my usual goal for the year, I am trying very hard to recount daily joys. I long for some time when I can get out and about a little more, but even after the full 14 day has passed following the second inoculation, I will still be doing a lot of self isolation. There are still too many unknowns about the effectiveness of the vaccine for me to plunge back into what was my former "normal". 

So here is the daily list of the joys for my semi sequestered existence. 

Friday: I spent most of the day feeling sorry for myself because of the Covid inspired isolation. I pouted and did laundry then, pouted some more and did more laundry. I was pleasantly surprised when TheHub called about 4:30 to say he was on his way home. A few minutes after arrived at the house we hopped back in the car to go pick up our dinners from a transformed benefit we attend yearly. This is the largest annual fundraiser for the Cancer Society. Instead of the usual meal and dance this was a virtual art auction with a take out meal. Since we had already sent our donation long ago, and the dinner was included, we decided we might as well go pick it up.
Though we only had to drive less than five miles to get it, our drive was primarily on the crest and then down the mountain overlooking the valley. We were able to witness the most beautiful sunset I have ever seen in my life. The entire sky was filled with pinks and oranges and reds of every hue and looked like we had been transported into the middle of a fairyland. It was worth tagging along just to see something so beautiful.
We drove through the unbelievably well organized pickup, came home and followed the prep instructions (just a warm up in the oven) that came with the meal. I did not want to wait until the oven reached 350, but surprisingly one meal fit perfectly in the air fryer. After I got the first meal heated we intended to split it while the  second one warmed. But the the filet was gigantic, I was not going to eat the potatoes anyway, there were enough roasted vegetables for me, and the salad was for two anyway. We wound up with enough food for 2 meals instead of just one.
I decided right away I cannot pout or whine anymore, because good things happen all the time.

Saturday: We had to go do some work at the lake place. I know I have mentioned before that I had to be down there a lot lately, but had not mentioned the real reason on the blog because a deal is not done until all the potential roadblocks are over. 
So I might as well go ahead and say that we accidentally sold the lake place. When Mom was still alive we had decided to sell because we were taking care of her and could not go for the weekend. We must not have really wanted to sell because we overpriced it.  Then after her death we decided not to sell at all.  
My sister and I spent all summer and fall dealing with Mom's house and possessions, so we never made it to the lake for any quality time. Next came the holidays, followed by TheHub's increased time at the office. We were still only going there  to take care of the house, but we not enjoying it at all.
Right before Christmas I got a phone call, out of the blue, asking if we would be interested in selling. TheHub and I talked it over and we were not really interested, but for the right price everything is for sale. 
We decided there would be no harm showing the house, then they wanted to see it again a few days later. We threw out a hefty"make us move" price and said we would only sell the place as-is. To our surprise they accepted, so on February 18 we close the lake place chapter of our lives. I will miss watching the birds and seeing the gorgeous sunrise, but I will not miss the hurried trips and the time we spent working there. 
I hope the new owners love it and have nothing but wonderful times there ! 
And now I not only have Mom's stuff here, but I will also have the lake place stuff here until we decide what to do with it.
The flip side of the sale changes our plans for our house. We thought we would put this house on the market in a couple of months. Real estate inventory in our area is virtually nil and houses sell very quickly.  We decided we could put furniture in storage, full time it at the lake and wait until the market changed to a buyer's market before we bought a smaller house. Now we are just going to stay put for a bit, and all that attention we put into maintaining the lake place is going into my backyard! 
This house is much too big for us, but Son3 and DIL3 are planning another extended trip in the summer and the space works well when they are here. Hopefully by then Son1 and family can come also, and there will be plenty of room for all of them at the same time. 
Life is full of surprises, isn't it?

Sunday: We went back to the lake to do a little more packing and brought back a car filled with stuff. All of them were things I already had multiples of here! I spent the mid-afternoon until game time emptying every cabinet and drawer in our vanity area, to reorganize and get all like items in the same place. Trust me when I say we will not need to buy, soap, body wash, shampoo, or body lotion for at least 3 years. 
Right before the game started Son2 and DIL2 came over to watch it and have dinner with us.  I love getting to see them and visit with them. We ate at half time (we have half time meals down to an art form here) so no one had to miss any of the game.
On a side note, I brought a vintage canister set home from the lake and put it on FB Marketplace. Less than 2 minutes after I listed it, it was sold pending pick-up, and by 8 it was gone!

Monday: I stayed in the house all day washing sheets, sheets and more sheets, before moving to quilts, blankets, bed skirts, yada yada yada. I guess the only joy for the day was knowing TheHub would not be home for dinner, so I did not have to factor any meal prep time in the middle of laundry! Oh and there is the joy of technology. I can lug my laptop or pad into any room and listen to a podcast or watch YouTube videos to teach me how to fold fitted sheets (even though I failed said tutorials).

Tuesday: "Oh wi Oh" is the beginning of the march sung by the soldiers in the castle of the Wicked Witch of the West. I felt like joining in as I tromped through the evil piles of linens. Yes I was being held captive by "blankets, and pillows, and sheets. Oh my!" My very simple joy was seeing an end to the great linen debacle. 

Wednesday: Today's joys are two fold. I lined up a donation truck to pick up all the excess furniture from the lake house the day after the movers bring it here. They do not take beds, but I offered them to anyone in the neighborhood wanted them. Woo Hoo! Two full size beds and a trundle bed with mattresses have been claimed.
The second joy is after spending literally hours on the phone with AT&T (gross overbilling that they blame on a computer glitch and are very sorry about) and with no resolution at least I was far enough away that no one could see the steam coming out of my ears, and though frustrated, other than telling them I was very angry and upset, I did not lose my temper.
Thursday: Covid vaccination, round 2____'Nuf said!

Have a great and joyful week. The joys are out there even if you have to look really hard to find them.

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Gotta Get MY Sheet(s) Together

As I have said in prior posts, I have been struggling lately. Some of it is internal dialogue I have about falling short of what I expect from myself, and the other is true demands that just happened, and have to be dealt with right away.

 One of those minor inconveniences is bedding. I find myself with a new (to my house) overflow of linens, comforters, pillows and blankets. Everything needed to be washed, dried, folded and put away. I do have 2 linen closets in this house, but both of them were already filled and these sheets have to live somewhere until I decide what to keep and what to pass on. Of course, I am not always the most efficient folder because I have 2 closets dedicated to linens and never had to be. Well times they are a changin'. 

I decided to tackle the main floor linen closet first, which meant emptying the closet, seeing if I had any widowed sheets that had lost their mate. Those were moved to my fabric cabinet to be used to line chairs for any reupholstering I am doing. (I have one chair in the basement waiting for me to make it look a little prettier). While I was sorting them I noticed what a really bad fitted sheet folder I am. I watched YouTube video after video to see how people do the magical fitted sheet folding. Obviously I am either incredibly dense or terribly  uncoordinated, our possibly a combination of the two.

After about an hour of trying to insert my right hand in one corner then using my left hand  to  "capture " the corner beside it, then do the same with the other two corners  (which are master hiders), placing both hands like I am about to clap, then folding over and pinching the corner with one hand while I use the other to straighten it into a rectangle. I never got to the rectangle part and then  . . I gave up.

Well I almost gave up until I found Andrea Jean who does not care if I fold them like the experts or not. I am pretty sure I heard the angels sing when I began her video. Finally a really  sensible folding plan for a klutz like me. And it only took me until I was this old to find out how to  neatly organize my sheets sets.

It is amazing how many set of neatly folded sheets will fit into my closets. I am really impressed and would like to pretend like I had been doing this all my life, but nope. So thanks to AJ for her tutorial that might not have changed my life, but it certainly changed my closet.

I am putting her video here for any of you who might also be sheet challenged. 

For those of you who do the incredible finger in, fold, smooth, professional method, I am impressed and am secretly jealous of your ability.

My other beef with doing the sheets is the lack of inner tags indicating the sheet sizes. Unless you have a set nearby for comparison it is hard to tell a queen flat from a king flat. For me the same goes for a twin flat and full flat. Some brands tag both sheets, some tag just the bottom and some tag none. Or maybe I lack a size relationship gene. Who knows? It still tees me off!

I am leaving with an appeal to the powers that be, to nominate Andrea Jean for Sainthood.

Have a great day and I hope none of you are stuck in the laundry room! Tomorrow__ the upstairs linen closet and figuring out what to do with extra towels! Did I mention I have about a dozen extra towels now?

Monday, February 8, 2021

A Plan, a Fail, and Back in the Saddle

First of all please forgive me for not responding to the comments left on my previous post and for the lack of comments I have left on blogs I read. I have been doing a lot of things I don't want to do, I am tired and WAS  in the middle of a very blue funk. I promise it will not happen again. I am still going to have to do a lot of things I had rather not be doing, but I can see a light at the end of the tunnel.

 This week/month in addition to making a weekly food plan, I have a pantry challenge to try and use some of the food from my freezer. I set a very low budget of 60 dollars for the month for things like produce, almond milk, bread__things like that. I am also not excluding stock up items if some exceptionally good deals pop up, but if I find them they are supposed to go into food storage and remain untouched during this challenge. I use the word supposed to for reasons you will see one day two___Nobody's perfect!

This is what I had planned
1. Hungarian Goulash over either sautéed cabbage ribbons or noodles.
2. Salmon patties, green beans, mashed potatoes or caulimash
3. Fauxtato soup, tossed salad, dinner rolls (or keto fake rolls)
4. Eggroll in a bowl, rolls
5. take-out (naturally)
6. Mac-less  Mac and cheese, black eyed peas, cornbread, coleslaw
7. Tacos or almost tacos with all the usual taco fixings

And this is what we actually ate:
Monday: I was all set to begin this food challenge, using items I had on hand. Since I worked in the freezer, inventorying what was available, I was really cold and very glad I had the Hungarian Goulash I had made for last week still in the fridge. I love having prepared foods for a night like that, plus it was warm and comforting. Do not think we were not getting our veggies with the meal because I added tons to the goulash.
Goulash over noodles or steamed cabbage strips, dinner rolls or keto toast

Tuesday: I had to be at the lake place a good part of the day to take care of some business there. I knew I needed some vegetables, most likely for the next two weeks and knew I would pass the larger Aldi on my way home, so I planned to stop there. I left the lake much later than I had anticipated but decided to go ahead with my shopping. 
For this challenge I am allowing myself to stock up if I find some particularly good bargains. Low and behold, Aldi had their brats for 1.99 a pack (5 brats per pack) so I bought 3 packs to freeze for the future. 
By this time, it was drive time traffic and I got home even later.  I needed to make dinner but had taken nothing out of the freezer. Great it was just day 2 of the challenge and I already flunked the challenge.
Brats cooked in beer, coleslaw, rolls or keto toast

Wednesday: This was one of those days that just happens with nothing outside of the house to do. There was absolutely no reason for me to not cook whatever I wanted, except the day was nearly done and I had forgotten to take anything out of the freezer__again. Pantry to the rescue!
Salmon patties with dill sauce, green beans, mashed potatoes (or none) peanut butter mousse ( one of the very tasty keto desserts)

Thursday:  TheHub had been working  late all week and I must be a slow learner because I had been cooking things right before he got home so everything would be piping hot. Yeah, no more. Soup can stay warm in the crock pot forever!
Fauxtato soup, rolls or none 

Friday: Friday was the annual Cancer Society fundraiser which we go to every year. It has morphed over the years from a charity ball to a dinner/ art gala but this year it morphed even more. This year it was an online event, but they still provided dinner. They had a drive through, pick up, go home and reheat meal.  Kudos to IZ who catered it.
3  appetizers, salad, filet, sautéed veggies, scalloped potatoes (or none),  apple bread pudding (or none), 2 splits of wine.

Saturday: We worked at the lake for  while, came home and tried to do some straightening and rearranging of things. It got kind of late so we decided to grab take out.
Gyro salad or Greek salad

Sunday: Super Bowl Sunday. TheHub and I had a few things at the lake place to do next weekend, but we remembered we are getting our second Covid vaccination late in the week.I anticipate no real problems but I am a realist and abut half the people I know who have had the second round did have complications. We decided it might be better for us to get up early, head on down and go ahead and do what we needed to get done then scoot home to watch the game.  Son2 and DIl2 joined us for game watching and dinner.
Tacos or taco salad

And this is the break-down of how the week went
Week one food storage use:

From the fridge:
Hungarian Goulash (prepared for the last week of January but didn't happen)
1/4 head cabbage
2 Beers (left from Son3's visit)
Leftover coleslaw
Heavy cream
Cream cheese
Peanut butter
1 egg
1/4 leftover head of cauliflower
sour cream
1/3  bag tossed salad
8 ounces cheddar
2 ounces pepper jack
1 cucumber
1/2 container cherry tomatoes
salami (about 10 small pieces)
leftover salsa

From the pantry:
Elbow macaroni
Dinner rolls
2 onions
Canned salmon
Powdered milk
Swerve powdered sugar substitute
Potato flakes
4 pices Choc Zero 
3 cans LeCroix
pork skins (I had a couple of bags before I started this. They are my keto essentials)
assorted herbs and spices

From the freezer:
Aldi zero carb bread (3 slices)
Green beans (summer garden harvest )
1 bag caulimash
1/2 bag cauliflower rice
1 bag chicken broth
2 packs ground chuck
2 keto chocolate chip cookies

Used from February purchases
taco shells

Purchased last week:
taco shells .89
2 cucumbers 1.29
sour cream .89
3 lb onions 1.19
lettuce 1.29
2 avocados .98
1 bag slaw 1.29
2 dozen eggs 2.38
cooking spray 1.49 (did not realize I was totally out of it)
grape tomatoes 1.49
broccoli 1.90
2 heads cauliflower 4.78
whipping cream 1.55
pork skins .95
brats 1.99 (ouch)
bananas 2.37( Publix)

Aldi  tax was 26.68 
Bananas           2.37
                      29.05     Wowza!!! That only leaves me 30.95 until the end of February!

Meal possibilities for the week:
1. Steak, potatoes or caulimash, tossed salad, broccoli
2. Mac and cheese or Mac-less and cheese, peas, coleslaw, no corn cornbread
3 Egg roll in a bowl
4. Open face bbq chicken sandwich, cucumber onion and tomato salad
5. Philly cheese steak casserole
6. "Fried chicken" rice or caulirice, green beans, some sort of salad (undecided right now)
7. Take out

This is going to be a strange week here with a lot of running around getting some sort of order here before a big event that is happening soon. Will let you know as it gets closer. If we wind up doing take out 2 times this week I am fine with it.

Now go have a great week staying on plan, going off plan, or having no plan at all.

Friday, February 5, 2021

Small Joys for Week 5

For the first time since Covid reared its ugly head and forced us to be mindful of each and every interaction, I am feeling intense loneliness. TheHub has been leaving the house at 6 each morning and is not getting home until nearly 7 in the evening. When he gets home he is zapped and only wants to eat, then fall asleep on the couch watching something on TV. This happens every year at this time, but for the first time I can't do what I would do normally. 

I can no longer go to Mom's and have a cup of coffee with her, or go out to lunch with friends. My Wednesday class was cancelled even though we did meet briefly before Thanksgiving in a huge space with everyone wearing masks ( pre-Covid numbers rise ). Even though we only met a few weeks, there was some conversation and seeing real people. 
I would also go to an afternoon movie with my film buff friend. I suppose technically we could still go since theaters here are open, but neither of us want to go out and about until we have had our second dose of the vaccine and the infection rates go way down. Will I ever go to a movie, play or sports event unmasked again after this? I am not sure.

Anyway I have got a huge case of the feel sorry for me blues this week and the joys reflect it. I know I have to snap out of it, and I realize how much I have to be grateful for, but, at this moment I am kind of wallowing in self pity. I will be better this coming week.

Friday: I got a message from the husband of one of my long time friends. T. is retiring and because of the Covid restrictions in life right now, there could be no retirement party. Instead he asked her friends to post a video wishing her well going forth with her new life.
Hmmmm! Covid, living in sweat pants, no hair cuts, no makeup, excessive cooking (and eating)? There was no way  I was going to commit this face to a video that might be kept for ever.  On the flip side I wanted to be part of it, because I was seriously happy for her and honored to be included. 
After some careful consideration I decided I would send my greetings and best wishes using a___ sock puppet, so I spent a bit of time  making my puppet.
Later in the day my beloved sister came over with her sock puppet (cause people love to copy a great idea) and we filmed our greetings, but mainly laughed at each other. It took many takes to get one video each where we were either not laughing or the camera was not shaking while the videographer (mostly me) was trying to contain their laughter but their body was not cooperating.

Saturday: We woke, had breakfast, then had to go take care of a few things at the lake place. It was just gorgeous down there. A few hours later we left  for home and decided to pick up a couple of chicken dinners for a late lunch. Then we settled in to watch a couple of episodes of The Crown. I think I am very happy that I am not a Royal. Walking through my house with a handbag on my arm would be a deal breaker for me.

Sunday: We watched our church services online followed by a Webex Sunday school meeting. I do enjoy seeing and talking to our friends. I miss the "in person" aspect but I will settle for this for now. Any social contact is better than none at all. And the upside? No one knows I still have on my pajama pants since I only have to be "ready" from the waist up. You can always tell who is not "done" (always at least one female), because they sit off camera and you just hear their voice/s.
Later in the evening we watched more of The Crown, followed by part of The Godfather. We have seen it so many times that we watch it until the best line of the entire movie happens, when we say in unison "Leave the gun and take the cannolis". After that line neither of us feel compelled to watch the last half.

Monday: I had a few phone conversations with Son3 about the snowfall in NYC. Like any born and bred southern type person, snow is magical to me and if I can't see it, I can at least hear about it. I must confess, though, that in my entire life, we have never had to shovel snow, because if the snow is deep enough for the roads to be covered, the entire city shuts down, you stay home, and drink hot chocolate while marveling at the beauty of the white stuff. Then, at most, 3 days later the roads are clear and the snow is gone.

Tuesday: I had to be at the lake place mid-morning to meet a wood inspection specialist. The down side of a lake place is the abundance of creepy crawlies and a normal termite bond is not enough home protection. While I was there I did a few other necessary things then sat and had a cup of coffee while watching the water fowl. Some of those birds are magnificent. 
I had another appointment later in the day there and then left to drive home. When I bought a new car a while back it came with a 3 month Sirius trial. I seriously doubt I will keep it, but I was able to drive and listen to show tunes on the Broadway station. What fun!

Wednesday: I had another stay at home day. When we were growing up Mom always told us that she had to have all the laundry done before midnight on New Year's Eve or she would never get caught up with her laundry for the entire coming year. Every year of my adult life, I have followed her example. This year I had DIL3 and Son3 here and threw caution to the wind. NYE came and went with a laundry hamper filled with dirty clothes. 
I'll be damned if Mom was not right!  I am no where near being caught up with all the laundry. Of course, they bring two cats, and even though they are sequestered in two bedrooms with a bath  between them so they can wander freely, Lola and Emma do not understand that cats are not supposed to be on the beds. 
When they leave I have to launder both beds from the mattress pads up.  That does not take into account the throws and pillows. It seems like every day I am washing something from those rooms, in addition to our own laundry. Maybe I will catch up by NYE 2021. I guess the joy for the day was getting a comforter laundered. Oh and I forgot the basketball game. We watched Alabama vs. LSU. It was a fun game to watch.

Thursday: This was a non-eventful day and I was feeling sorry for myself. I have little to no contact with the outside world, and the isolation is really beginning to bother me. We also have not put Mom's house on the market and need to get that done as quickly as possible. So that is weighing heavily on my mind. 
Additionally I am having to clear my house of items to make room for Mom's things which are piled in my basement. Right now it seems like a never ending cycle of rehoming, donating, and moving stuff from one place to another. On the upside, if I ever have a formal dinner party for forty I have it covered with china and crystal.
My joys for the day were small. I did get to watch a group of migrating birds in my back yard (I suspect there were about 200 of them at one time and was very thankful my name is not Tippi Hedren).  I had a very brief phone call from Pip, which always makes me smile. I am also filled gratitude for having all I need (plus much I don't need/want) and no snow to shovel (though the yard could stand a little rake action)!

So go out, or stay home like me, and look for daily joy. It is out there, but some days (and weeks) even though it hides well, it is still around!

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Groundhog Day and Inventory

When I first woke this morning I kept seeing the shadow of a busy chipmunk, though I could never find the actual animal. I think our local groundhog is probably going to be seeing his/her shadow. It doesn't look like life is going to change much for a while anyway, so neither 6 more weeks of winter nor an early spring will alter what I do, which is stay away from everyone as much as possible. Sigh!

 Once I decided to join in the pantry challenge this month. I realized it was going to take more effort than I usually put into meal planning and it will take some serious follow through on my part. Not my strong suit!  I put on my ski gloves and scarf to begin sifting through the freezer to see what is available right now for meal possibilities. It was not a fun job to do on such a cold day (Yes, it was even cold here today, but I realize my cold is like springtime to some of you)

I have a lot of meats, chicken and even a bit of seafood stashed in the freezer, so I am fine for the month there.

I was surprised to find my vegetable drawer was very much on the light side. I honestly thought I had several bags of frozen broccoli, a bag or two of California mixed veggies, and a bag each of collards and spinach. I had absolutely zero of each. What I do have is enough single servings of caulimash to last each meal for about a week and a half (if I wanted to have it every night),  I have ziplock bag after bag of spaghetti squash, green beans, and bell pepper strips. There are only two bags of frozen cauliflower rice, a couple with frozen asparagus spears, a bag of artichoke hearts, a bag of strange mushrooms (T.J. impulse purchase), a few packs of okra and that is about it.

I have a couple of prepared foods from larger batch cooking, so chili, spaghetti sauce, and goulash are ready for a  thaw and a quick meal. I also have a bag of T.J.'s fried rice if I need a super fast no thawing necessary meal.

I found 4 loaves of the ultra low carb Aldi bread. I may eat 4 slices of it a week and that is if we have a sandwich meal. At that rate I will still have a couple of loaves left in June. Butter? Yeah ! I over bought when it was on sale and have 21 pounds of it in the freezer, along with cheese. I have 14 (total ) 8 ounce packs  of New York Sharp, Monterey Jack, Pepper Jack, and Mozzarella.

There are multi packs of chicken, turkey, and veggie broth I made and froze, along with packs of sausage, both cooked and smoked.

I have a lot of frozen berries, as well as frozen peaches and apple slices. I might make TheHub a couple of pies. (I found 2 frozen pie crusts) They are pretty easy for me to resist because I do not like the consistency of cooked fruits.

I still have to inventory the kitchen and laundry room refrigerator freezers. Neither of them have any long term storage foods, but maybe___ just maybe I will find a bag of broccoli or some other vegetable. Fingers crossed!

So, excluding this week these are  some main dish possibilities I see:
1.  Spaghetti and meat sauce (I might be out of spaghetti noodles)
2.  Chicken coq au vin
3.  Philly cheesesteak casserole
4.  Taco salad
5.  fake-a roni and cheese
6.  Vegetable or veggie beef soup 
7.  BBQ chicken sandwiches
7.  Hamburgers
8.  Grilled steak (I have one T-bone and we usually split a steak)
9.  Chili
10. Chicken and broccoli casserole
11. Smoked sausage/veggie sauté
12. Keto waffles, sausage and eggs
13. Grilled lamb chops
14. Crab cakes
15. "Fried" chicken, keto style
16. Veggie meal (no idea what yet)
17. Keto pizza
18. Picadillo, possibly as a keto empanada
19. Veggie quiche
20,  Chicken soup
21. Keto cottage pie
22. Pulled pork sandwiches
23. Faux bean soup
24. Orange ginger chicken breasts
25. Chicken stir fry
26. Meat loaf
27. Cheese sandwiches

There are more ideas than I need but it gives me a starting point. I honestly imagine I will use about half of them and then change things drastically as I use up various foods from the freezer, fridges, and pantry. It will be kind of fun to try anyway.

I just realized when I did a quick count of what I was going to be able to use, I might have to add another month to the challenge.