Mmm…Mmm…Healthy?

June 8, 2010

Receptionist has been on a bit of a healthy lunch kick of late.  Instead of running to McDonald’s, El Pollo Loco or other fast food neighbors she stacks our bathroom/kitchen with her week’s worth of non-frozen meals.  The frozen ones she brings in with her each morning and tosses in the freezer.

Since receptionist is also on a strict budget, I have to admire this week’s find!

Yep, that’s what she paid for each of these…

That nice big Weight Watchers endorsement and zero points notice sparked my curiosity so I grabbed the container and turned it around to read the dreaded nutrition label.

So far so good…

But all good things must come to and end, and such is the case with this container of soup…

If you think that sodium level is bad for one serving, take a look at this…

YIKES!!!!  That tiny container of soup is actually TWO SERVINGS!!!

Receptionist eats one of these for lunch plus a Smart Ones frozen meal.  I did a quick scan of the sodium content on yesterday’s meal and it was 590 mg.   Thanks to the two servings, the soup alone was 58% of the recommended daily sodium intake and the meal most likely added another 20% (I didn’t think to check the percentage) so receptionist’s lunch, though inexpensive, used up 78% of the allotted sodium for the day.

Inexpensive, yes, but healthy???  Hhhmmm…not so sure.

Good thing cash-strapped Receptionist buys and drinks bottles of Smart Water instead of filling a large glass with free bottled water from our water cooler, huh?

Ahh…to be a 20-something kid again…!  Thanks but no thanks!


The Cookfest Continues…

May 30, 2010

Yesterday was an exhausting but productive cookfest round one.  I’d been preparing for the day for a couple of weeks so I was raring to go.

First up was shopping for supplies.  This is why I did that chore early Friday morning…

…at 6AM it was pretty much just me and the stock people.  YAY!

Saturday morning began with me plugging in Fritz the freezer.  He was so happy to be void of frost and happy to be refreezing so he could be filled with goodies!  Nest up was emptying the dishwasher that had run overnight and hand-washing the dishes that still needed to be washed and put away.  Do you know that I hate to wash dishes (and that even includes emptying the dishwasher)?!?!

After all the dishes were put away all the supplies needed for the cookfest were stacked on the counter.  And there were lots of them.  One stock pot, two pots for cooking pasta, one pan for frying, two crock pots, two lasagna pans and five cooling racks!  Then there were mixing bowls, utensils, measuring supplies and storage containers.  YIKES!  All of those things and I haven’t even mentioned ingredients!!!

First up was turkey soup using the stock I made this past winter.  I added some bouillon, one can of diced tomatoes, one bag of uncooked pasta and one bag of frozen veggies.  Everything else had to be cut up before being added – carrots, celery, onion, broccoli and turkey (also frozen since this past winter).  The stock pot was full to within an inch of the top!

While that was simmering I cut up more turkey and cooked that with the tomato based ingredients for lasagna, then compiled the lasagna.  That sat in one baking pan while I repeated the process but using a chunk of the ham that I had gotten from work for Christmas (a 5-lb ham that I cut into 10 blocks and froze).  The ham needed to go through the blender first so that it would be shredded and therefore easy to spread.

Once both lasagnas were in the oven I turned my attention to the beef stew.  I cut up stew beef into smaller chunks, peeled and cut two potatoes and one butternut squash, chopped some onion, celery, broccoli and carrots, then poured in a bag of frozen corn, a bag of frozen peas, two cans of kidney beans, two cans of diced tomatoes (one with green chilies) and a can of tomato soup.  A few spices later the lid was on the crock pot, it was plugged in and turned on.

As you can imagine from the four meals now cooking away, the counter was pretty full of dirty dishes.  Yep, I stopped and hand washed the dishes.  Have I told you how much I hate washing dishes?

By the time the dish chore was done the lasagnas were done and I deemed the soup done as well.  I ladled the soup into 22 containers and placed them and the lasagnas on cooling racks to…well…cool!

Time to hand wash the stock pot then refill it with ingredients.  This time it was with split peas, onion, carrots, shredded ham and water.

My attention then turned to crock pot number two.  Elbow pasta cooked al-dente filled the crock just over halfway, and after adding evaporated milk, shredded cheese, whole milk, butter, white pepper, salt, frozen peas and Parmesan cheese this crock was turned on as well.

With the last three meals underway I covered the containers of turkey soup and moved them all to Fritz.  The two lasagnas were then cut, each piece wrapped in foil, foiled pieces put into labeled freezer bags and bags put in the freezer.

After a couple of hours of relaxing and occasionally stirring the stew and soup, I divided the last the meals into individual containers and while they cooled I hand washed the dishes…again.

You do remember how much I hate washing dishes, right?

If you heard a really loud noise late yesterday afternoon that would have been me.  Why?

I forgot to wash these guys!  And they don’t go in the dishwasher!!  :-(

Final tally for yesterday is 62 meals — 22 turkey soup, 9 ham lasagna, 9 turkey lasagna, 7 beef stew, 6 macaroni and cheese (counting the serving I ate for dinner) and 9 pea soup.  Fritz is soooo happy now (even though he worked hard all day freezing everything).

I wanted to make my Mom’s spaghetti sauce but discovered that I hadn’t bought enough tomato paste.  I also wanted to make next week’s jumbo salads but I used some of the ingredients for the meals. In order for the cookfest to continue on Monday, this morning I made a quick trip to the food store to get the missing ingredients and was handsomely rewarded for my efforts!  Look what jumped into my cart — at 18 cents each!

As for today, it’s all about ME!  I’m going to get some chicken breasts marinating in a Judy experimental marinade (crushed ginger snap cookies, apple juice, garlic and olive oil) then sit back and enjoy the Indy 500 and the Coca-Cola 600 while knitting!

I’ll finish these red gem socks and then start a new pair.

And to think there’s still one more day to this weekend!  HAPPY DANCE!  :-)


YAY — Final Banana

May 28, 2010

Woo-hoo it’s here!!!  Final banana day…err…the Friday before a long holiday weekend, that annoying day that needs to be overcome in order to start the weekend!

This will be a short post ‘cuz I only have a few minutes before I need to hop in the shower and get to the food store.  Yep, I’m going to do my holiday weekend shopping BEFORE going to work!!  There’s no way I want to dodge all the other holiday weekend shoppers later in the day so I’m going to head out really early and just dodge the shelf stockers instead.

And it’s a BIG food shopping trip today…really big.

Why, do I have lots of company coming this weekend?

Nope – just lots of relaxing.

So…why the uncharacteristically big food shopping trip?

Fritz is empty!

For the first time in 2-1/2 years, Fritz the chest freezer in my garage is void of containers of  home-made meals!!  And this morning he’s even emptier than this photo since the frost has melted…!

Lest you think I don’t have any meals to take to work with me today, here’s the freezer in the kitchen…

I temporarily transferred the couple dozen containers from Fritz to this freezer so that I could defrost the chest freezer.

Tomorrow I’m spending the morning and part of the afternoon cooking…lots…so that Fritz can be refilled with oodles of goodies!  It’s scary to me to be down to just a few options when it comes time to pull something out for lunch so time to cook up a storm!

Have no fear…you’ll read all about it in Sunday’s post…you’ll get all the fun with none of the work!  BUT…I get to eat it and you don’t so I guess it all works in my favor in the end  :-)

Gotta to…time to shower so I can get to the store by 6AM!


Crazy For Creativity

April 1, 2010

If you’ve read my blog for any length of time you know that creativity rules my life on a daily basis.  Yes, my job is to oversee the development of craft products sold worldwide, but more than those 50 or so hours a week, I express my creativity in nearly everything I do.

Want proof?

Okay, to state the obvious, every time you visit this blog you are reading or seeing my creativity in action, maybe even in overdrive!  I am always writing, making even the most mundane interesting (if comments are to be believed), and invariably my photographic creativity is accompanying the words.

I’m sure you’re all familiar with that nice big laundry room project of mine, a shining example of my creativity in action.  No?  Click here to see the end result…I promise you won’t be disappointed!

The backyard overhaul I’m diligently working on…over-working on if truth be told…well it screams CREATIVITY!  Why?  All those plants that I’m adding in an attempt to mix textures, colors and structures in a most interesting and appealing way.  I’m just over half done so if you’d like to drop in and check it out, click here, but be sure to check back on Monday the 5th to see the nearly finished project!

Even the cooking that I do is something I consider to be creative — blending all those ingredients, spices, textures and flavors to create an edible treat that is not only awesome fresh from the stove/grill/microwave/wok/crock pot, but also stupendous after being frozen in individual portions and reheated for lunches!

Then there is that whole realm of traditional creativity, that world that instantly jumps to the forefront when people start discussing the creative world.  I knit, crochet, macrame, cross stitch, needlepoint, draw, latch hook, locker hook, rug hook, paint, scrapbook, bead, felt, sew, quilt, quill, etc, etc, etc.

Here are some stash pix just in case you have any doubts…

That’s the neat side of my craft closet, the messy side, behind the other door, is going to remain hidden.  Trust me, it’s overflowing with supplies!

Here’s a basket of counted cross stitch kits waiting for my attention…

…and here’s a bucket of sock yarn waiting to be knit into foot adornments.  The yarns for sweaters, afghans, etc are in the aforementioned craft closet…

…and hidden behind these white doors and drawers.

Just so you don’t think all my creative stuff is of the “to do” kind, here are some pix of finished projects.

A Neil Diamond sweater I designed and knit back in 1989 when I had front row center tix to his Hartford, CT concert…

The fabric locker hooking cosmos wall hanging I designed and hooked that now graces my bedroom wall…

The first pair of sox I knit for myself…

Ornaments I cross stitched for my nieces and nephews for Christmas 2009…

I could play show-and-tell for pages but I know that I’ll lose your interest along the way, so I won’t play.

I will pose a question though.  With all the creative outlets that I have, is there any that I have missed?  I bet you’ll be surprised to hear me say YES!

Huh?

I have never tried tatting!  This craft has always interested me and the completed projects by those who are proficient have amazed and enthralled me.  So why the hesitation to jump in?  FEAR!  Honestly — the completed projects I’ve seen are so awesome that I am terrified that I’ll screw up tatting given my tendency to skim instructions instead of read them thoroughly (sometimes I curse my creative experience that tells me I don’t really to read every word of instructions).

Today as I write this post I am now committed to becoming a tatting fool.  Why now?  A few weeks ago I stopped by my friend Terrie Lee’s blog and left a comment on a post.  The other day one of her readers stopped by my blog and told me about hers — TattingChic.  I stopped by and WOAH…a feast for the eyes!  Not only are there awesome pix of projects, but the posts are very friendly, so friendly that I feel confident if I try tatting and get stuck I have a resource…

Of course, first up is finishing that backyard overhaul, but that’s a week, two at most.  While there are additional outdoor projects vying for my attention, there will also be lots of indoor time to be filled.

Can you say Tatter-In-Training?  No?  Okay, then just say JUDY as they’re one in the same!


The Bakery Is Closed

December 14, 2009

Yesterday I spent 2-1/2 hours or so baking the tri-colored pressed cookies.  I’ve always been curious as to why the recipe calls them vanilla cookies when the nutmeg flavor is far more detectable than the vanilla, but such is the case.

The batter is made three times — red food coloring is added to one batch, green to another and none to the third — hence the tri-coloring.  Last year I really struggled with the batter once I put it in the press – the colors wouldn’t stay put and instead swirled around.  The cookies were pretty but they weren’t right.  It dawned on me this year that the extra liquid from the food coloring threw off the consistency in the colored batters, so this year I added a bit more flour to those to colors. 

I carefully filled the press with the three batters, making sure each stayed within the boundaries of its imaginary triangle, I turned the handle until a cookie popped out, lifted the press to check out my handiwork then smiled.

I so love it when I can solve a problem! 

All 212 cookies behaved themselves wonderfully well — all colors stayed in the correct places, all cookie bottoms are burn-free and none of the cookies broke!

I put the anise scraps in my cookie jar so all that’s above are the cookies that are being used as gifts, both anise and pressed.  Of course there are going to be extras for me this year – last year I ended up with fewer cookies than any recipient!

Voila the pressed cookies!

And a close-up for you so you can see the tri-colored effect!

All cookies have been packed up and are ready to be shipped, brought to the office or handed off as seasonal gifts.  Thank goodness Joann’s still had some cookie tins on their shelves when I stopped by last week — $2 each!

The bakery is officially closed for 2009 — PHEW!


Anise Cookies

December 13, 2009

From the moment I first started mixing the batter yesterday until the moment the final untensil was washed, dried an put away a total of 9-1/2 hours elapsed on the clock.  In iPod speak that equals 169 songs — one complete playing of the 107 songs in my Christmas playlist coupled with a repeat of 67 of them.

What did all of this effort get me (besides exhaustion, aching legs and shoulders screaming for a massage)? 

The final tally was 43-1/2 DOZEN cookies that have shapes thanks to cookie cutters, and 6 DOZEN shapeless “scraps” – those cookies made from cutting the final roll-out of dough.  Said scraps are the ONLY cookies that can be eaten by the baker before Christmas Day (thank goodness there are 6 dozen!).

So, what did 594 cookies look like?

For some reason, they looked soooo much more impressive from the back…

Now, for an up close and personal view…

Once the cookies were all baked, everything was washed, dried and put away and my kitchen was back to normal, I took a shower then headed out to pick up dinner (a Buffalo Chicken sub on wheat).  Unfortunately, when I came home my garage door would only open 8 inches.  I tried tightening the load screw on the mechanics in the center of the garage, but the door would still not open, so for now, my CRV is parked in the driveway.  I’m sure my neighbors are thinking “it’s about time” since I’m the only person on the street who actually parks my vehicle inside my garage!

This same door wouldn’t open earlier this week when the temperatures were near freezing so I’m not sure if there’s really a problem with the garage door or if the weather, freezing a few days ago and rainy yesterday, is wreaking havoc with it.  No matter, I’ll deal with it later today, or tomorrow, or Tuesday.

As for the rest of today, a batch of tri-colored pressed cookies (a vanilla cookie recipe tripled) is in the offing along with Christmas Cards and wrapping/packing Christmas gifts.  Between Monday and Tuesday all gifts and cards will be winging their way to the lucky recipients while I, the creator, purchaser and baker, kicks back and begins to enjoy the holiday season!

:-)


Honoring Tradition

December 12, 2009

The weather outside is Southern California’s version of frightful today, and that is absolutely perfect!  While its damp and drizzly out there, inside my home it’s going to be warm and sunny!

Why?

Today I honor tradition and open Santa’s Bakery for 2009.

Every year my Mom baked the most tasty delicacies ever, a treat simply referred to as “Christmas Cookies”.  The recipe has been passed down through at least 4 generations of my father’s family, this baker being the 4th generation, and it’s just not Christmas if these cookies aren’t tickling our taste buds.

For me the tradition of these cookies goes beyond their taste – a lot of the tradition is in making them.  The dough needs to be made stiff enough that it rolls out nearly paper-thin, yet moist enough that it can withstand the constant addition of more flecks of flour.  Once the right consistency is achieved, the true “fun” begins.

Flour the counter and the rolling-pin; roll out the dough to a 6-8″ circle then flip over, place back onto a refloured counter and continue rolling out to needed thinness; dip cookie cutter edge in flour then press into dough 12 or 18 times, placing shapes as close together as possible; pull up extra dough from around the shapes; using a metal spatula that has also been run through flour, carefully place the shapes on a foil covered cookie sheet; spread egg on top of the shapes with a pastry brush; decorate with colored sugar and/or colored balls then bake for 8 minutes (switching trays at the 4 minute mark to avoid burnt bottoms in the lower cookie tray).

Repeat dozens and dozens (and dozens) of times! 

Throughout this day I will have many flashbacks of this baking tradition as it happened during my childhood years.  There are those that are already running through my head – my Dad sitting at the kitchen table egging and decorating the cookies (a job we kids shared once we were old enough); my Mom wiping her forehead with the back of her floured hand; the clickety-clack of the cookie cutters as Mom dipped them in flour before using them in the dough; seeing my Mom’s fingers as they trace the outline of the cookie cutter, ensuring a clean cut in the dough, and of course, we kids stealing bits of raw anise-flavored dough to nibble on, long before it was unhealthy to eat anything with raw eggs.  Then there will be those flashbacks that surprise me, those memories that are buried so deep yet close enough to the surface to spring forth once triggered…

Early last year I checked with my siblings and my father and asked their permission to inherit Mom’s cookie cutter collection as well as her aluminum cookie press, offering to share any cookie cutters with my siblings that had special meaning to them.  There was not a single objection to my bringing these items to CA so when I went home from a visit in July, these treasures were in my carry-on bag.  Though I had some of my own cookie cutters, the Christmas Cookies are not the same for me if they’re not made with the cutters that have been used for as long as I can remember.  And these cutters absolutely need to be stored in that same red cardboard box that my Mom stored them in…the box that when stumbled upon in July would send my taste buds into overdrive.  Fitting the dozens of different size, shape and depth cutters back into this box so the lid will close has always required as much patience and stamina as making the cookies themselves…

For me this tradition is not yet complete as I am missing three key components, all of which I will adopt at some point in the future.  The first is the very large frosted pink bowl that my Mom used to make the dough.  This bowl was only used once a year so when it was on the counter I knew what was coming next.  The second is the red handled serrated cutter my Mom used to make the scraps.  When the dough will no longer roll out correctly or when exhaustion has set in, whichever comes first, the dough is rolled out for a final time and this cutter is used to make straight horizontal and vertical wavy lines.  Each square is a cookie and afforded all the decorating like the shaped counterparts.  The third is the large glass Mr. Peanut jar and lid that sits on top of the hutch at my parents’ house.  Years and years ago it contained peanuts and sat on a store shelf in a store my Dad’s parents ran, but throughout my life, it sat on the top shelf of the hutch and was home to Christmas Cookies.

By the time Santa’s Bakery closes today I will have at least 30-40 dozen Christmas Cookies (not counting scraps)!!  Many will be given as gifts but hopefully there will be lots for me to enjoy.  I promise that I will follow tradition and not eat any shaped cookies until Christmas day.  I will however enjoy the scraps between now and then.  As for the balance of the cookies that I keep?  They are still as yummy on day 360 as they are on day 1, however I know myself very well and there’s not even the slightest possibility that any cookie I make today will still be hanging around when day 50 arrives never mind day 360!

After an evening of well-deserved lounging on the sofa, enjoying wine and a dinner that is made for me (either a Subway sub or a pizza), tomorrow will herald the reopening of Santa’s Bakery, though for just a few hours, not an entire day.

Tomorrow I will bake the pressed cookies.  These are vanilla cookies that are run through a cookie press – not a plastic press like currently available, but my Mom’s aluminum press with real metal shape pieces!

Three batches of the cookie dough are made – one has red food coloring added, the second has green added and the third is colorless.  All three doughs are put into the press, each taking up a vertical 1/3 of space so when the handle is turned and the cookies come out, they are tri-colored!

There are easy shapes and there are tough shapes.  The wreath, tree and clover are the most difficult as invariably a piece of dough refuses to fall off the press and onto the cookie sheet.  The heart, butterfly and flower are the easiest…all others fall somewhere in the middle.

Tomorrow I will share photos, cookie totals and baking tales with you.  Unfortunately for you readers, WordPress does not offer a “scratch-n-sniff” option so you won’t be able to smell all these goodies  :-(   But maybe that’s not a bad thing ‘cuz if you smelled them you’d want to eat them!

Enjoy your Saturday everyone!!  I’ll be back when the bakery is closed for 2009!


Soup’s On!

November 22, 2009

Last weekend I bought myself a 21 pound frozen Butterball turkey that I won’t be cooking until Christmas week.  This meant that I had to store the turkey in Fritz the chest freezer (he lives in my garage), which in turn meant that I needed to take out the 3 large containers of frozen home cooked turkey stock…and make soup this weekend!

The stock slow thawed in my fridge all week…

Well, they sort of thawed in the fridge – the majority of the thawing happened in the stock pot on the stove Saturday morning.

The multi-tasking chef in me cut up all the vegetables while the stock was thawing — onion, celery, baby carrots, green pepper, broccoli and baby spinach.  I added a can of kidney beans and two cans of petite diced tomatoes.  From the freezer came the corn and peas, and the spice basket surrendered salt, pepper, lemon pepper, basil, oregano, balsamic vinegar and chicken boullion.

While all of the above simmered in the turkey stock I cut up the thawed turkey meat and added it to the pot before plopping myself in front of my laptop.  For the next 3 hours I work-worked while the soup simmered and filled my house with the most delicious aroma.

The final addition to the soup was a box of mini bow-tie pasta.  Isighed with relief when everything fit!  Really — the stock pot was filled to within an inch of the rim! 

After another hour of simmering I served myself a bowl…and then another because it was just so yummy!!

Doesn’t it look awesome?!?!?!?!  Too bad the internet doesn’t offer a smell feature…but on the other hand, that might be a good thing for you readers as you’d be drooling after just one tiny whiff  ;-)

If you’re not a regular reader of this blog, you might be wondering exactly what I’m going to do with all the leftovers.  The answer is that I freeze it in individual size portions just like I do with all meals I make so that I can take homemade meals to work every day!

I ate two bowls of soup for lunch and divided the rest into containers…

Voila!  21 containers of soup — there would have been 23 except I ate those two bowls for lunch.

Soup anyone?

 


Little Bits

November 17, 2009

Today finds me with a little bit to say about a lot of things but not a lot to say about anything.  Soo…here’s a compilation of those Little Bits…

The Fortune Cookie was RIGHT!

Sort of…

Last week I treated myself to lunch at Panda Express.  The fortune cookie that came with the lunch said I would soon find a new source of money.  Hhhmm…will my freelance quests have positive outcomes???  Will I win the lottery??  Will I win the 10% off coupon drawing at Patternworks or the gift card prize for taking Michael’s on-line survey??  Is a new job coming my way???

The answer as of today?  I played the lottery Saturday and I won!!!  SuperLotto Plus to be exact!!!  Yep…I won $2!

New Jammies

I did stop at Kohls yesterday and picked up a fifth pair of jammies.  After taking off the coupon and the Kohls cash and adding in tax I paid $12 for them.  I bought a pair with a purple top and black background bottoms with purple and green verticle solid stripes alternating with white, purple, green and yellow verical stripes made up of dots.

Fruit Loops

I’m not a cold cereal kinda gal except for occassional bowls of Raisin Bran or Frosted Mini Wheats (the latter are great for nibbling dry) but this past Saturday I bought a box of Fruit Loops.  After putting away all my groceries I grabbed a bowl and filled it with Fruit Loops.  Three questions instantly came to mind.

1.  When did Fruit Loops change to pastel colors?

2.  When did they add blue to the color palette?

3.  What happened to the sugar crystals on the rings (close examination of one ring was necessary for this question).

At least they tasted like I remembered…!

Earthquake!

This past Saturday night I was still awake at 11:54PM when I heard it coming.  Yep, I could hear the earthquake coming for 4 or 5 seconds before it finally arrived.  When it did arrive it was a disappointing 1 or 2 seconds in duration — ca-chunk, thunk, and it was done, no real shaking.

As I retrieved my laptop to check out the quake’s location and strength I was wondering if that was it or if there’d be a bit more to this quake.  Those few seconds of being aware that it was coming built up my anticipation…and what actually happened was NOT worth the anticipation.  On the other hand, there was no damage so that was definitely a good thing (of all the quakes I’ve felt since I moved here none have been strong enough to do any damage and that’s fine by me)!

The quake was a 3.3 centered about 25 miles from the house…a baby compared to the 4.7 and 4.9 ones that I’ve felt, and the 3.7 that was centered closer to my house.  And small enough that had I not been awake I would have slept right through it.

No Turning Back

The non-refundable deposit has been made for my BIG adventure so there’s no turning back now!!  The adventure is scheduled to begin at 10:30AM on Saturday, January 30th.

Really — this is a SERIOUSLY big adventure that will have you debating about my sanity, or lack there of.  Check back here the weekend after Thanksgiving for all the details so you can weigh in on the sanity question.

Toothpaste on my Shoulder

I have NO idea how that happened, but it did!  I’ve monitored my tooth brushing routine for more than a week and am still so clueless that I’ve decided I’m never going to know the answer.

The Friday before I went for my haircut I brushed my teeth then went into the kitchen to put together my lunch and my eat-on-the-go breakfast.  I came back to my bathroom, looked in the mirror, did a double-take, uttered “HUH?”, frowned, took off my red t-shirt, scrubbed it with the washcloth then put it back on.

Seems that somehow I had managed to get 4 pencil sized dots of blue toothpaste on the front of my t-shirt just below my right shoulder.  I didn’t have the rechargeable toothbrush in motion when I took it out of my mouth, at least not that I could remember, and the t-shirt was clean when I put it on, but somehow toothpaste ended up on my shoulder.

Since I already had a red barette in my hair and wasn’t willing to change it, and my other red t-shirts that are okay to wear to work were in the laundry, I had no choice but to wash off the toothpaste and put the t-shirt back on.

Turkey Anyone?

I am the proud owner of a 21.1 pound frozen Butterball turkey!  And it only set me back $10.34!!!  The turkey was 48 cents a pound if you spent $50 or more at Winco (most awesome food store).  I rarely spend that much but I did stock up on a few things, including a splurge on the aforementioned Fruit Loops, so my total would exceed $50 and I could bring home my treasure.

The turkey is buried in Fritz (the chest freezer in my garage) and will be thawed over Christmas so I can cook it and then restock my freezers with all the frozen meals.  My record is 66 meals (fresh and frozen) from an 18 pound turkey so I’ll be curious to see what the take is from 21.1 pounds!

Oh yeah…to make room for the turkey I had to take out the 3 containers of turkey stock I’d frozen this past summer from my last turkey cookfest.  This weekend I’ll make the soup from this summer’s turkey and then in December when I cook the new turkey I’ll freeze more stock and make that soup in April.

Coyotes

It’s been a quiet summer as far as they mangy four-legged wild animals go but they’re making up for it now!  They are in howling overdrive, and not just in the middle of the night – last night they were screeching at 8PM!!

I had never heard coyotes before moving to Southern California and when I did hear them I didn’t know the noise was coyotes until I talked with my neighbor and he filled me in.

If you’ve never heard coyotes the best way I can describe their howling is that it sounds like a screaming baby…a baby that doesn’t need to take a breath.  It’s a little on the high-pitched side and for me, it doesn’t really sound like the howling that Hollywood has made famous in their movies and TV shows.  It is much more annoying.

I’m not sure exactly where the coyotes are but they’re not in my neighborhood.  They may be in the field behind my house as when they wake me up out of a sound sleep I have heard them screeching and some dogs yelping, and there are some barely visible houses back in that field.

All I ask is that the coyotes stay away from the herd of sheep.

It’s Cold!

Our daytime highs have been struggling to get higher than the mid-70’s lately, sometimes not even reaching 70!   That wouldn’t be bad if our overnight lows weren’t going so low — yesterday morning it was a chilly 36 degrees outside with last week’s lows being in the mid-40’s.

That wouldn’t be bad either IF I remembered to do one thing.  CLOSE my windows at night!!!!  Sheesh…the house has been as cold as 62 in the morning when I get up!   This past weekend I actually went outside a couple times and sat in the sun in order to warm up!

My house only has one window that faces south, a huge advantage in the 110+ summers but a disadvantage in the colder months as the sun work its magic and heat up the house.  November is way too early to even consider putting on the heat, even for just one cycle to take the chill out of the air.  Instead I’m bundling up and toughing it out – in other words, I’m practicing for my trip back east next week!

The good news?  The previously mentioned coyotes were screeching early last night so I remembered to close the windows!  The house was a *toasty* 64 degrees when I got out of bed this morning!

Haircut Update

The final tests were this past weekend.

Saturday I let it air dry and though the results weren’t as perfect as when I style it, they were more than acceptable.

Sunday I didn’t even wash it (if possible I like to skip a day of washing a week).  The unwashed short hair looked much better than the unwashed longer version!

Sooo…I am still LOVIN’ this haircut!!!  It is so easy to take care of that I know it perfectly suits my hair  :-)

Wrap Up

OK, that’s it for today’s round of Little Bits.  I’m off to get my morning routine going so I can scoot into work early…  Have a SUPER day!


Saturday was STUPENDOUS!

October 25, 2009

It didn’t really start out that way, and I had no inkling that it would progress from such a lazy start to such an incredible day, but it surely did!

As usual my eyes popped open shortly after 4:30, but after a quick potty stop and a relocation to the sofa I half watched Weekend Today and half slept.  I forced myself upright with just enough time to make a pot of coffee, take a sip from my huge mug and snuggle into my non-reclined recliner before calling my Dad for our weekly conversation.

Forty-five minutes later I was shuffling down the hallway to shower myself awake.  Fortunately water was able to do what caffeine could not and my day was now firing on all cylinders.

First stop was the gas station, not exciting but necessary.  Second stop was the food store.  An interesting stop because there was one item on my list that I’d never bought before but was anxious to purchase and cook, a DiGiorno pizza!  I also needed more liquid soap for bathroom dispensers and after looking over my choices, I opted to splurge on a pomegranate tangerine mixture from Dial.  Then there was the 88 cent splurge that wasn’t on my list because I didn’t know it existed, but since it involved three of my favorite things – red, chocolate and Christmas – it ended up in my cart.  :-)

chocolate mint coffee

I pulled into the garage then walked across the street to take a picture of the tree I trimmed last week so you can all see how over-trimmed the street view looks (thank goodness MY view from inside looks much better!).

trimmed tree from street

After putting away the groceries I filled the two bathroom soap dispensers with my nice smelling and colorful liquid soap purchase.  What a treat for the eyes when I added the orange colored soap to the remaining green colored soap in the master bath dispenser!

old and new liquid soaps

My outdoor chore for Saturday was to trim back my slightly overgrown ice plants.  I so love these plants – I never water them and when they are in bloom in the spring I have a purple carpet, a close-up of which is the picture in my blog header.  Anway…see how overgrown they were?

sat am project

Though the spirit was willing to tackle this project, there was one logistical problem…

barrel full second time

That’s how full my yardwaste barrel was after the first round of tree trimmings were emptied last Wednesday and the lawn clippings and the balance of the tree trimmings were added that night.  The barrel won’t be emptied again until this Wednesday and unfortuantely, the ice plants are succulents, thick and in need of lots of room for trimmings.

It only took me 25 minutes to top of the yardwaste barrel but I was able to get more done than I thought I would.

project half done

SURPRISE!!!  There’s a wall underneath the plants!  Though it may look like I completed my task, in reality it’s only 1/2 done.  Unfortunately, the more difficult half is the undone part.  If you look closely at the bottom of the fence you’ll notice that the plants are starting to climb up the fence so I have to climb over them and give that side of the garden a haircut.  Next week, when I have room for the clippings in my barrel.  Mebbe.  It’s not an easy chore.

When I wheeled the yardwaste barrel back to its side yard parking spot all I could see in the red mulch garden strip next to the sidewalk was the drying green leaf debris from the pile of branches that resided there for a few days last week.  And I didn’t like it.  I know that leaf debris is a good thing in a garden, but only if it looks natural.  Anyone seeing this would surmise that a pile of branches had spent time there, the lack of a tree or bush being a big clue.  There’s no way that the wind could have blown all of the small  leaves into that 6-foot section.  Soo…I plopped my butt onto the concrete sidewalk and started putting the leaves into a pail, my iPod serenading me as I worked. 

At first I wasn’t trying to pick up all the leaves, just enough so the remaining ones looked natural.  But, as I progressed along the 6 feet I got more and more anal about it, picking up leaves as if I were trying to remove all evidence from a murder scene before the cops arrived.  Needless to say, I re-cleaned the first few feet so they matched the last few feet in leaf coverage, or lack there of.  Though this mindless task took nearly 1-1/2 hours, it was relaxing — hanging in the 80 degree weather with tunes filling my ears  :-)

Before moving indoors to tackle some work-work chores I headed over the slice in the block wall and smiled a huge smile when I found a lizard resting inside again!  I chatted with him for a few minutes before taking his picture, hoping to avoid the “kiss my ass” pose from a few weeks ago.  It worked!

lizard

After an hour of work-working while sporadically watching the NASCAR Nationwide race, I decided Scarpetto needed some attention so I hauled out the toy I bought him at the food store.  At first he was highly insulted, “Feathers???  Really??? And a PINK one???  You do know I’m a BOY don’t you???”.  Of course, after a few minutes of trailing the feathers on the floor and dangling them above his head, he was no longer insulted…

 scarpetto got it 2

 scarpetto and feather toy 1

We played for 15 minutes or so, I worked for a bit more than an hour then I decided we both needed an outdoor break so I slipped Scarpetto’s harness and leash on him and we did some sunbathing in the front yard.  I’d forgotten how relaxing it is to just lay in the grass, how wonderful the grass smells and how much it tickles your skin.  Or maybe that was the ants…

Scarpetto and I headed indoors after 20 minutes of sunning ourselves.  He took an extended cat nap while I did a couple more hours of work.  Then it was time for my big experiment — the DiGiorno pizza!

I purposely purchased a four cheese pizza so that I could load it up with ingredients of my choice, and load it up I did.  Chopped onion, chopped green pepper, sliced turkey pepperoni, sliced mushrooms, sliced black olives, sliced pineapple chunks and torn up baby spinach leaves!

dinner in the oven

There’s my masterpiece baking in the oven…

pizza one third gone

And here’s the two-thirds of it that I couldn’t eat!!!  It is soooo yummy but soooo filling!!!  That’s awesome of course because I have two more meals on plates in my fridge  :-)

A couple more hours of work while watching the Oregon State/USC football game and then it was bedtime for me.

This morning started just as early as Saturday so I repeated the sofa-snoozing until the stove timer went off.  I anxiously made my peppermint chocolate coffee, took a sip from my huge mug, snuggled into a corner of the loveseat then called my sister for our weekly chat.  We had a vey lively and interesting 93 minute chat during which I drank, but did not taste, my coffee.  Sooo…once the chat was over I brewed a second pot, using the balance of the coffee in the package.  It tastes like flavored coffee but I can’t taste any specific flavor.  There’s a bit of a minty aftertaste but if I served the coffee to guests they wouldn’t be able to pinpoint the flavor (unless my tastebuds are on vacation right now).  Will I buy it again?  Probably, but only because it’s 88 cents for two pots.  There is that little something that makes it a treat, even if it’s an undescribable flavor.

As for the balance of today?  It’s going to be very quiet — more work work while watching NASCAR then football, a short visit with the neighbors, reheating some of my pizza masterpiece and maybe a bit more kitty & me sunbathing.  If I did much more than that I’d need to go to work to recuperate from my weekend!


My Yellow Swing

spinning wool, natural dyes, and tapestry weaving,

Joan Elliott

Design and Illustration

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Shari Speaks

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