Monday, November 22, 2010

A Day of Me

I adore my husband.  He's my best friend, he "gets" me, he's a good listener, can fix anything (no joke people), knows yarn lingo, brings coffee to my nightstand every morning, can buy a greeting card that will bring me to tears,  looks like Santa, and provides great bear hugs whenever I need or want them.  There isn't a day when I don't realize how incredibly blessed my life is because he's in it.
Sometimes he travels for a few days and my routine changes.
 Here are 10 Things I love to do when my husband travels:
1.  Eat cereal for dinner
2.  Skip washing my hair
3.  Make messes that can stay that way for a day or two or three.  (like a sewing project!)
4.  Leave spontaneous shopping purchases out in the open instead of stashing them deep in the bowels of my home where no one will see them...
5.  Sleep with the dogs on the bed
6.  Eat over the sink
7.  Watch chick flicks or Pixar movies back to back
8.  Stay up til after midnight working on a project and sleep in the next morning
9.  Talk to myself using any and all language choices
10.  Sleep in his tee shirts...sorry to be weird, but I guess I am kinda weird that way.   Well, and a few other ways too...

Cuz really, a couple of days is all I can take before I start to stare blankly into space having forgotten my role or rituals of daily life and number 9 turns to talking to him as though he were here.  Once when he went to Australia for three weeks, we even argued...

I know that the only consistent thing about life is change, so I guess one day things will be different and we will have to say goodbye to each other til we meet again.  It's that way by design and when you hit your 50's you start thinking in those terms from time to time.  But for now, I'm taking a minute to express gratitude for a great companion and a day or two of

And since you took the time to stop by for this, here's an amazing recipe from a dear friend of mine.  It came out of a church cookbook written by a whole lot of amazing Albanian Orthodox ladies who can cook like nobody's business.  They love their spinach and they love their Feta cheese.  It's a great brunch or pot luck take along.  Consider for days after Thanksgiving too when you're "turkey'd out!"
1 Pkg Fresh Spinach
16 oz. Cottage Cheese
2 Cups Bisquick
3 Eggs
1/2 Lb Feta Cheese, crumbled
1 Cup Milk
1 1/2 Sticks of melted Butter

Preheat oven on 350 degrees.
1.  Wash and shred spinach.  
2.  Mix spinach, cottage cheese, eggs, and most of feta and most of Bisquick (reserve some for topping)
3.  Add milk and mix well.
4.  Pour into a greased 9x 13 baking dish and sprinkle with remaining feta and Bisquick
5.  Pour melted butter on top
6.  Bake for 30-40 minutes.

I found a variation here that looks good too.  Not so much butter, some added parm and a sprinkling of green onion.  Will try both and see how they turn out.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Comforting Things

Seeing my hand knit socks hanging on the drying rack makes me smile.  Dave and I now have a good inventory of woolly warmth going into the winter season.  Today I'm casting on his Christmas socks.  Cashmere.  Cuz he's so worth it.  And cashmere socks are about as good as it gets.
It's getting to be that time of year when the weekdays fly by and not enough gets accomplished in preparation for the holidays.  Fortunately I'm at the age where I have very little gift giving to do and most of my knitting or hand made items just need finishing.  This will make for a first ever - no holiday stress.  A little gift to myself.  (prepare for small rant here...)  In so many years past I've knocked myself silly with an intense number of handmade gifts most of which were never recognized or appreciated.
Oh well, adjustment made and we move on.  I think people who don't make things don't get all that's involved.  Shipping is pretty expensive too and now that we live away from all our family and friends, everything has to be shipped.
Creamy Crunchy Chicken Rice Bake

So here's a recipe I put in the category of "The Best Bad Recipe You'll Ever Make".  When my diet goes out the window and I need pure comfort I go to this recipe.  I've had it for 30 years!!! Back in the day when Cheez Whiz was king and no one ever knew what a trans fat was.  I might make this once a year.  Honestly it's so good, I drool just writing it down...

1 8-oz jar Cheez Whiz (gaaa!   I know...once a year won't kill you. Moving on...)
1 1/2 cups hot cooked rice
2 cups chopped cooked chicken
1 10-oz pkg frozen peas
1 2.8-oz can Durkee French Fried Onions (stop it!  I know.  But so is fast food.  Get over it.)

Preheat oven to 350
Combine cheese spread and rice, mix well.  Add chicken, peas (still frozen) and half the onions; mix thoroughly.
Pour into 1 1/2 quart casserole dish that is sprayed with vegetable spray.
Bake for 15 minutes.  Top with remaining onions and continue baking 5 minutes or so until they are lightly browned.
Serves 4-6

TODAY'S "SQUIRREL!!!!" MOMENT: Christmas decorating!  This will be the first Christmas in this house and I have to figure out how to use all my decorations from PA in this configuration.  It's a very small house, so it will be a challenge.  Must think simple.  But it's on my mind because next week is Thanksgiving and I'll be spending all weekend getting the house looking pretty for my son's visit.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Just a Day

It's been sort of a disjointed day.  Work and listening to podcasts - right now it's The High Fiber Diet.  The lady who hosts it has a husband deployed to Afghanistan right now.  She's the closest person to me who is in this situation and she doesn't even know me.   I commented on her blog that she's in my thoughts today.  Just sayin.

Marie Osmond was on Oprah today talking about her son who killed himself last February.  Tough to get through when you have a child close to that age and recognized some of the signs during certain moments of those rocky teenage years.  My heart ached for her.


So this picture is of one of my house mates.  He (or she) lives between my screen and storm window over the kitchen sink.  I say "he" only because there seems to be a somewhat masculine demeanor (although the same could be said about Ellen Degeneres I suppose...)  I think he's a spider, but he looks a bit like a lobster too with those big claws coming out the front.  He doesn't show up every day, but he's gotten a little bigger since I first saw him almost a year ago.  So far we get along.  I leave him alone and he leaves me alone.  Frankly I'd prefer him to be a hummingbird, but hey.

I made a big pot of chili today.  The weather continues to be warm, but it seemed right.  I'm in the mood for Paula Deen food right now.  And curling up with this shawl around me.

Dave and I got back to P90X after taking a couple of weeks off.  It feels good to be working out on a regular basis again.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Next Year's Garden

Isn't it beautiful?
We've decided to stay in our crappy little house for another two years.  I know, it may not make sense to those of you who know us.  It's a rental.  It's small.  It's on a busy street with no trick-or-treaters, but we are staying put and doing other things besides, packing, unpacking, hanging curtains (I'm still doing this after a year!) and looking for missing stuff.


There has to be a garden.  The area shown above is along the back of the house walkway between the patio and this weird stone foundation-like square in the ground.

I'm using the technique from  this book  which I've used before and it is awesome!
The technique calls for no digging or tilling, but rather layering organic materials and letting it sit over a season and having lovely, rich soil for planting.  It works!  You can use just about any plot - even hard packed areas with crappy stuff underneath.  You start by laying wet newspaper over the area and then add thick layers of peat moss, barn litter (manure), compost, yard waste, grass clippings, and other organic stuff until it's about 12 inches high. Then you let Mother Nature take over and wait for it to "cook".  The worms below will come up through the paper and turn and tumble through it all creating a lovely lovely growing medium.  So far I've gotten about 4 layers down and plan to have the rest finished before the end of the month.
That's the best part.

Today's Best Thing Ev-va:  Finishing Nick's sock - first one. (see yesterday for picture)
Today's Tasty Treat:  Real home made mac and cheese from Martha's website

and Today's "SQUIRREL!!!!!" Moment: Realizing my house is covered in a thin layer of dust from long neglecting this lovely exercise...  So I'll use the 15 minute timer technique and dust in one room for 15 minutes every morning till it's done... Actually we ALL KNOW it's never done.  You just begin again... which is why mine isn't done at all, but my sock knitting is!  

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Chalk it up to a Monday Thing

  • Yesterday was one of those days where you have to really step back and ask yourself what you learned from it.  

Coming out of our really great weekend I hit the Monday ground running.  Laundry flew from the hampers, dishes whizzed to their respective positions, and clutter was lassoed and corralled in almost every room.  My normally 5 hours of computer work turned into 6 hours (my choice) but because of the long breaks I took to tend to house stuff (read: DISTRACTION) it took me right up to 6pm leaving no time for dog walking since it's now DARK at 5pm.

I did prepare a lovely chicken pot pie for Dave out of Sunday's roast chicken - using crescent rolls for the topping - his fav.  And I decided to make myself a vegan casserole from Alicia Silverstone's cookbook, The Kind Diet.   I've made several recipes from her book and they have all been really really good - even Dave-the-Omnivore approved!  I craved The Barley Casserole  during all hours, the chocolate-peanut butter cups were a rich daily indulgence for a week, and her use of good, whole ingredients always makes me happy.  But I need to state firmly here and now that I DO NOT LIKE POLENTA!
This casserole had a kicked up polenta topping that tasted (to me) like child's sandbox scrapings.

( In the past I've purchased those cute little compact logs of polenta in the produce section of the store and expertly sliced them, fried them, and topped them with wonderful melanges of veggies, cheese, and herbs only to spit it into the trash.  I should have known.  Somehow I thought it was going to taste like a cornbread topping.)
 It didn't. 

I hate wasting food, but this is inedible for me and I have to let it go.

As I drove to the office at 7:00 I had a short but firm discussion with myself about the day.

  • Lesson One:  Set timers for break times and don't answer the phone, knit, watch TV, or clean the house.
  • Lesson Two:  Don't expect every recipe trial to be awesome.  There are going to be some duds, especially when wading into new vegan waters using ingredients I'm not familiar with.
  • Lesson Three:  Things did get done, I just have to look around to notice.
  • Lesson Four:  Tomorrow's another day, so just get over yourself.
I will use leftover veggies from the casserole debacle to make a new veggies saute of cauliflower, peas, asparagus, and corn, mixed with a lovely pan gravy and poured over mashed potatoes.  BRILLIANT!

And Nick's first sock is almost done, the laundry is half way to finished, and my dogs still love me.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

An unexpected day off

So it's some sort of blog appreciation month where bloggers commit to writing every day, or so I've heard but have not taken the time to research.
Since I have been remiss (insert understatement of the year here) in writing my blog, I thought I'd make a better effort.  It's not that I don't have a lot to say, it's more that I am lacking confidence to think anyone is going to find my rather ordinary, yet extremely fulfilling life, very interesting.


Since so few people read this, then I can just write it for me!

And so I shall.

Today was a really good day, and it isn't even over yet.  Work forgot to put my Rubbermaid of papers necessary for me to complete my work into the mail-room where I pick it up, so I had an unexpected (and UNPAID!) day off.  I spent the better part of an hour steaming about it - getting nothing but... 
"My apologies"
 ...from my boss when I raised the issue via email.  

So, I decided to move on to take full advantage of the opportunity to get a jump on Christmas gift making, grocery shopping, yarn shopping (I know!) and preparing a great dinner for Dave and me which included some really good beer and a bottle of wine.  I even took the dogs for a nice autumn walk.

Keeping the heat off as long as possible has me in a big woolly mood and I've got fingerless gloves/mitts on the brain.  Both methods of cutting the sleeves off of felted sweaters as I showed here and knitting them from some soft yummy wool like these.

You can find lots of free patterns here.

Today's Best Thing Ev-va:  Going to my local yarn shop and learning I had $110 store credit to spend!  Took me all of 15 minutes to do so...
Today's Tasty Treat:  Trader Joe's grilled eggplant and zucchini.  Frozen and ready to to make into just about anything!  A little sauce, a little Parmesan and some pasta.  Yum and Done!
and Today's "SQUIRREL!!!!!" Moment: Finding a big ol' box of fabric I'd forgotten about to use for Christmas projects.  Spent almost an hour playing with it and pairing it up with things to make.