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Thursday, May 31, 2012

Playing with my food...

I've been experimenting.

If you like squash, keep reading.  If not, look away.

Since I've given up wheat (among other things), I kind of miss pasta.  So this invention I call Zucchini Fettuccine.


I started by slicing a zucchini and a yellow squash into thin lengthwise slices, and then cut those slices into thin strips.


I halved grape tomatoes.


And I sliced some sun-dried tomatoes into strips too.

I fried 2 slices of bacon till crisp.  (Forgot to take a pic.)  I set it aside, and then drained most of the grease from the pan.
  

I cut an onion into thin strips, and added it to the pan that I fried the bacon in.  I stirred it till it started to caramelize.


Then I added in the zucchini and yellow squash, the sun dried tomatoes, the crumbled bacon, and four sliced cloves of garlic.  (No pic of the garlic either...things were moving pretty quickly at this point.  I added a little salt and cracked pepper and a tiny bit of Italian seasonings.

I stirred it several times, to cook all the squash evenly, but very lightly.  I didn't want it too done...just nicely al dente.  Then for the last couple of minutes, I added the grape tomato halves to the pan and stirred one more time.


I plated it, and put just a tad of Parmesan cheese on top.

Yum!

I was home alone for this meal, so going almost meatless was fine with me.  I will definitely make it again.  I think when the guys are home, I'll serve some grilled chicken breasts alongside.

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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

What I'm reading Wednesday...

I set aside the rather difficult book from last week, when my library emailed me that a book that had been waitlisted was available for download to my Kindle.

Clara and Mr. Tiffany by Susan Vreeland.

This is a fictionalized account of Clara Driscoll, a stained glass artist who supervised the women who worked for Louis Comfort Tiffany.  The author made use of multiple collections of Clara's actual letters when writing this novel.

I'm still in the very beginning, and I'm finding the descriptions of the art glass process and the lives of working women at the turn of the twentieth century very interesting.
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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

June's plan...



I saw this over at Simply Joolz last night, and I'm going to give it a try.

I have to laugh at myself a bit.  I'm always so attracted to the 'do one thing a day/week' projects.  This one.  The Sky Scarf.  The 52 Letters in 52 Weeks project.  The One Year Bible.  I think it's my hope that I will give myself some structure or the hope that small bites will lead to success on the whole.

This tendency always reminds me of my mother.  Her repeated goal was to clean out one drawer each day.  'If I clean out just one drawer every day, by the end of the month (/year/decade?) they'll all be clean.'  Uh-huh.  If I heard it once, I heard it dozens of times. 

Well, I came by the mindset honestly anyway.  And I have to say that I'm doing pretty well on all the other projects, so where this one is concerned, here's hoping...  If nothing else, maybe I'll get posts up more frequently this month.
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Saturday, May 26, 2012

Saturday snail mail...

My endeavor to mail 52 letters in 52 weeks continues.

I took the photo of a yucca plant in glorious bloom several years ago.  This week I got around to making a card using it.  I edited the photo to look somewhat watercolored.  I then printed it on watercolor paper and layered onto card.  I made three cards using this print varying the background layers on each.  Letters were written in them, and they were mailed over the past few days.



 Yesterday, while cleaning out a drawer,  I came across some info that I printed several years ago to share with my sisters.  Normally it would be deemed outdated and tossed and quickly moved beyond, but it turns out that this was still important to share.  So I wrote a letter to each and dropped them in the mail as well.

I have gone back over my purse calendar for this year where I write down who I have mailed letters to.  And with this week's epic penning, I am very close to being back on schedule for the year.  Yea!

Accountability stats: 21 weeks / 18 letters
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Thursday, May 24, 2012

Paleo progress...


Mixed greens.  Avocado.  Blackberries.  Dried cranberries.  Feta.  Spicy sauteed shrimp.  Homemade honey dijon dressing.

Two weeks doing Paleo.  Here is the strangest thing I have noticed:  I have to go to the grocery store much more often, and I don't mind!  The only reason I can come up with is that the food options doing Paleo keep me mostly in the produce and seafood/meat department and not having to maneuver down every aisle. 

I've said for a long time that the reason I hate grocery shopping is because the stores are SO huge and have an overwhelming amount of choices.  Eliminating everything containing wheat, sugar, and dairy from my list makes it much less overwhelming.  Also I feel more energetic now, so the mere thought of going to the store doesn't make me crawl back into bed and pull the covers over my head.

The feta cheese (dairy) I added to the salad tonight is not Paleo approved...neither was the tortilla (wheat) that I ate with lunch today.  C'est la vie.
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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

What I'm (not) reading Wednesday...


I haven't been reading much this week.  I haven't finished last week's book.  It's a difficult read, so I keep putting it off.  It's one of my 2012 Reading Challenge selections, but I may give up on this one and move one of the alternates into its place.

Or I may just take a little reading break, do a few projects that need doing around here, and then give it another try later.
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Monday, May 21, 2012

We could have been in hot water...

image credit:  Sears

Yesterday our water heater bit the dust. 

This is not the first time it has happened.  We got to talking last night, and decided that, counting this time, it has happened at three of the four homes we have owned over the years. 

One very memorable time comes to mind.  We lived in a house that had a LOT of uncarpeted floors.  I had spent the day sweeping, cleaning baseboards, and mopping.  At some point in the afternoon, I was looking across the room, and I remember thinking how shiny the floors looked.  I was patting myself on the back for doing such a good job on a back-breaking chore.  Very quickly I realized that no amount of mopping would make the floor THAT shiny, and I realized that there was a slowly spreading flood of water on all the floors I had just finished cleaning.  The water heater, which was located in the hallway, had developed a severe case of incontinence.  The water leaking from it found it's way into the walk-in cedar closet right across the hall, then down the hall into a bathroom, around the corner into the den, and into my large craft closet which of course had cardboard boxes sitting on the floor.  Ugh...the mess!  I can honestly say that I have never since mopped floors without thinking of this event.

Because Carey was home yesterday, and because he is ever vigilant when it comes to observing the workings of every mechanical device in and around our home, there was less mess and distress this time than was caused the previous two times we've dealt with the results of good water heaters going bad.  He was able to drain the water safely outside with minimum leakage onto the laundry room floor.  We had to make do without hot water last night until we could purchase a new unit today...a very small inconvenience, all things considered.

What a blessing it is being married to a man gifted with mechanical aptitude and skill.  He removed the damaged unit and re-installed the new one all by his lonesome...saving us over $200 in service fees.
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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Monday, May 14, 2012

Making it Monday...

Among the fresh-from-the-garden produce that my wonderful friend gifted me with last week were some really large cucumbers.  Everything else has been eaten, but I thought that I might try to make the cucumbers into pickles for Carey, because lately he has been requesting that I keep pickles in the house for his sandwiches. 

My mother used to make pickles.  We would drive out to a nearby farm and buy bushels of cucumbers.  We had a five-gallon crock and a couple of smaller ones (maybe two gallon).  She would fill those babies up, and there the pickles would cure till time to put them in the jars.

I'm not that ambitious...nor do I have the kind of storage that the house I grew up in did.  So I went online this morning and looked for a recipe for bread-and-butter pickles to make in a small batch quickly.  Here's what I found.

Refrigerator Bread and Butter Pickles from kitchensimplicity.com

Slice 5.5 cups of pickling cucumbers (about 1.5 pounds), then combine with 1 1/2 Tablespoons kosher salt and chill for an hour and a half.  (I placed a shallow layer of the sliced cukes in a bowl, sprinkled it with some of the salt, and repeated the shallow layers and sprinkling of salt with the rest of the cukes.)

After an hour and a half, rinse the cucumbers in a colander to remove salt.  (The salt will have drawn a lot of liquid from the cucumbers.)  Drain them well.


Thinly slice a sweet onion.


In a medium sized sauce pan, combine 1 cup white vinegar, 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar, 1 cup white sugar, 1/4 cup light brown sugar (packed), 1 1/2 teaspoons mustard seeds, 1/2 teaspoon celery seeds, and 1/8 teaspoon ground turmeric.  Bring to a simmer, stirring until sugars dissolve. 

Pour the hot liquid over the cucumbers and onions in a bowl.  Let sit at room temperature for an hour and a half.


 Then place in jars (makes about two quarts)...


...and refrigerate up to two weeks.

I'm not eating sugar these days, but I had to try a slice before I put them in the fridge, and it was really good.  I think they will pass the test when Carey gets home.

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Thursday, May 10, 2012

Going Paleo...

Tilapia dusted with almond flour and pan browned in olive oil
Zucchini sliced lengthwise, topped with a tiny bit of parmesan and baked til just browning
Grape tomatoes and sliced avocado

I've resisted for a long time.  Kasey and Beau have been eating the Paleo way for over a year now, I think.  The kids too, except that they aren't overly strict with the kids.  The children still drink milk and eat cheese, and no worries about what's eaten away from home.

I'm finally jumping on the bandwagon due to constant aches and pains.  I'm hoping that the dairy-free and gluten-free change may help with that.  So for the next thirty days I'm giving it a trial period.

Quick description of Paleo: meats, vegetables, nuts & seeds...some fruit and a little starch...no sugar, grains, or dairy.

Photo above was dinner last night.  Yum!  The almond flour that I used to dust the tilapia browned beautifully and tasted great...I just added a little salt, pepper, and dill.  The Parmesan on the squash was not on plan, but it was minimal (maybe a teaspoon on the entire pan of squash).

The zucchini couldn't be fresher.  It was delivered to my office yesterday by a great friend...one who shares the produce of their garden and the eggs from their chickens!  Of course she'd be a great friend even without those perks, but the perks are lovely!  Thanks, V...your generosity couldn't have been more timely!
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Wednesday, May 9, 2012

What I'm reading Wednesday...

The Good Daughters by Joyce Maynard. 



And I just finished The Postmistress by Sarah Blake.  I didn't absolutely love it, but I couldn't put it down.  I thought the descriptions of London during The Blitz were really good.Photobucket

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

I just can't do it all!...

Worked all day.  Then a massage...I know...poor me.  Commute.  Grocery shop.  Cooked supper.  Made breakfast for tomorrow.  Checked email.  Read up on some health info.

I still need to make my mother-in-law a mother's-day card.  And soak.  And knit on the Sky Scarf.  And read my daily reading.

Card and soak it is...the rest I can catch up on Thursday.
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Saturday, May 5, 2012

Saturday's snail mail...


I have been so attracted to the hot pink and orange color combination I've been seeing this spring.  This card was inspired by a couple of cards I saw on Pinterest...one from stampwithsandy.com and one from alwaysplayingwithpaper.blogspot.com. 

I am woefully, WOEFULLY, behind on the 52 letters in 52 weeks.  I'm not even sure how many I've sent.  I think I've jotted them down on my calendar, but not sure.  But hey, I didn't even start last year's effort till May, so maybe I'm just right on schedule to start over.
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Thursday, May 3, 2012

Working hard...hardly working...

I sat down meaning to write a post about work...but I kind of hate to admit how spoiled I am.

I recently went from working three five-hour days to two eight-hour days per week, on kind of a trial basis.  I'm loving it, as it saves me one commute a week (two hours, plus gasoline costs) and gives me another day off. 

I'm pretty sure that I should be working more hours...full time with benefits would be even wiser.  There's even a possibility that I could stay with the same company, but work full time at another branch, maybe even closer to home than I am now.  But I've worked for a few people with this company, and the boss I have now is the best one I've come across so far.  That counts for so much.

And it is really, really wonderful to have weekdays off when my daughter can't be at home to meet the school bus and calls to see if I can be there instead.Photobucket

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

What I'm reading Wednesday...


This week I'm reading The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman. 

Peggy left a comment on last week's WIRW post which recommended this book.  Thanks so much, Peggy, for the tip.  It's set in 70 CE in Judaea...the Romans were attacking and destroying towns, sending those who survived searching for refuge.  This is the story of the rebels and those who found there way to the Masada.

I'm also still on track with my reading of The One Year Bible, and right now there is lots of warfare going on in ancient Israel in those daily readings as well.  I am continually amazed by the brutality that mankind can survive.
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Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Free-range pondering...

This is one of a group of photos that I took in January of this year, but never seemed to get around to posting any of them.  It was taken in Bastrop State Park, which along with its surrounding areas were the site of major fires last summer.  When we were there in January, they were cutting down and chipping trees.  The roads were packed with logging trucks, and it smelled like a lumber yard.

I was going through some older photos on my computer today and came across this.  Not sure why I'm posting it today...didn't have anything else to post about really.

Which makes me want to bring up something that has been on my mind.  It has seemed to me for awhile now that the blogs that I frequent regularly (my own included) are not being updated as often as previously.  I'm just wondering if blogs are trending out. (Oh, how I hope not!) 

I was talking to a friend last night.  This happens to be the friend that talked me into blogging in the first place back in 2007.  She was going to start blogging back then too, but she never took to it.  And she doesn't read mine either.  Last night, I was attempting to walk her through the Pinterest sign up. She was having some problem on her end trying to follow me on Pinterest, so I pretty much had to force her to come to my blog page to click on the 'Follow Me on Pinterest" link on the right border...just seemed like the easiest way to get the job done.  And it did work, but of course while she was doing it she noticed the new pictures I had up of the girls, and the books I've been reading, etc.  I had to take the opportunity to raz her, and tell her that she could see all that if she would just check in once in awhile. 

Her response was something like, 'I just can't read blogs...they're so bloggy.'

It occurs to me that I like the bloggy-ness.  I'm kind of a hermit, so I like that I can be in touch with people, read about what they are doing all over the world, and do it on my own terms and as time permits.  But the time I spend on the computer probably does limit my 'real life' human contact.

I don't know.  I just thought I'd put that out there to see if others had noticed similar trends or tendencies.

And that, dear blog friends, is my free-range pondering for the day.
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