Saturday, December 31, 2011

Finally can breathe again -- party time!

We went with a carefree tapas-style celebration. Pictured here is Hubby's Garlic Thyme Chicken, alongside some hard cooked eggs with a smoked salmon topping that I made. (Combine 4 ounces of smoked salmon with 1/2 cup mayonnaise, then pipe over hard-cooked eggs.) Sorry, no artsy shots this time around. Hiding behind the chicken are a corkscrew and my mom's medicine box!
FINALLY got to celebrate Christmas with my family! On Christmas eve, Mom had a mild heart attack, but following a heart stent procedure and three grueling nights in CCU, all is good with the mumsy. (I slept in a recliner at her bedside during those nights. Don't know how folks without an advocate get proper care when unable to fend for themselves. Wasn't until the second time I had to go retrieve a nurse that I realized the nurse call buttons on the hospital bed were non-functioning. *sigh*)
   When Mom got home, we had plenty to celebrate! She went from being in the hospital one night to throwing a party the next! Of course, her darling children (*wink*) brought all the food, so our matriarch just got to sit and look pretty while being pampered and fed.
As you can see, taking pics was an afterthought. By the time I thought to take a pic, here's what was left of my Vegetable Empanadas: eggplant, zucchini and tomatoes, cooked down and seasoned with garlic, salt and pepper, then baked in a puff pastry crust.
After spending too many days/nights at the hospital with Mom, it was soo good to be home. For some reason, I had the need to "reclaim" my space, so I scrubbed a floor and decluttered some things on my first day home. Still goaling toward becoming more of a minimalist. These books didn't make the cut--donated them to the library yesterday.  Felt downright cathartic to downsize.
These were some of the keepers.
   Sadly, I learned something yucky about myself: I am a fair-weather friend to green and frugal. In those stressful days spent with mom at the hospital, I forgot my water bottle one day, so drank out of a Styrofoam glass; another day, I ate pop tarts out of the vending machine even tho' I had Clif bars in my bag. When I finally got to stay home, I tossed a few perfectly good foods because I knew they'd go bad before I got to use them...didn't even think about freezing them to use later. Oh, the shame of it! ;)
   No worries, I will cut myself some slack due to the circumstances, but our little family crisis makes clear that it does take time and clear thinking for me to be frugal and green.
   Hope your holidays weren't half so stressful. Around here we now celebrate a new lease on life for my mom's heart.
True to form, I've gotta end with food. For our family's belated Christmas celebration, my "little" brother made bruschetta! (My little 'brudder' is 6'3"!)
Loved baby brother's pâté bruschetta!
   Wishing you and yours a VERY Happy New Year!!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Better than gifts: A Christmas Breakfast

Each holiday season, my Aunt M has a Christmas breakfast to which she invites family and friends. The breakfast is her "gift" to each of us. Gotta love that! We drove my folks and picked up another aunt on the way. The four-hour trip was well worth it. We were well fed, but more importantly, we got to reconnect with family we don't often see. Btw, there were plenty of Christmas sweaters around. I'm not a Christmas sweater kinda gal, but I was wearing Christmas socks! ;)
Okay, tho' I took lousy pictures, the spread really was yummy: breakfast casserole, country ham, homemade wheat bread, lemon cake, homemade cherry and berry cheese braids, a fruit salad, coffee cake made from a 100 year old recipe, plus assorted fudges and some commercial petits fours. My fav was a Yuletide Log; though I didn't manage to get it in the pic, it was the best chocolate roll I've ever eaten.
Found my dumb camera. As I'd suspected, it fell out of my purse under the table at a restaurant we'd visited the other night. Best of all, after realizing I was downright happy over its being lost, I called the store today and discovered that I am still within the return policy. Sayonara, crummy camera!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Lost camera leads to Photo-palooza!

Hoping this Kentucky State Fair showcase will inspire me to get off this computer and go create something equally yummy in my own kitchen!
Well, maybe it was inevitable: I LOST my little camera I'd been dissing lately. Hopefully at some point I'll find it and be able to post the pics I took of the absolutely scrumptious spread that my aunt M presented yesterday at her annual Christmas breakfast. Meantime, here's a mish mash of photos I've collected over the past year but never got around to posting. Mostly a bunch of quirky, disparate sights that caught my eye.
Evidently some things are more important than grammar. Yeah, it's risky laughing over someone else's grammar, when I've no idea how many grammatical errors have slipped past me here. ;)
Our meat slicer has more than paid for itself over the years; keeps us from eating thick slices when a thinner slice will do.
While motorcycling through rural Kentucky, we happened on this tiny polling station.
Some free spirits in Owensboro greet visitors with this "yard art" placed in front of their home. The mechanical horse's tail swishes back and forth. Makes me smile every time I drive by.
Can't even remember in what Kentucky town we happened upon this crooked house, but what a hoot!
Finally got smart and put our commercial dishwasher detergent in a container that lets me spoon out only one tablespoon per load, as recommended by the manufacturer. Using the pour spout on the original container made it too easy to use too much detergent. Yes, I still alternate using a commercial detergent with my cheaper, greener homemade detergent.
Hubby repurposed a couple of wine corks to extend this baby toilet seat, so it would fit onto our elongated toilet seat without slipping back.
 This city's sign, which has been there as along as I can remember, never fails to crack me up!
Because I would always rather look at food than anything else, I'll end with this pic taken at Moonlite BarBQ. This locally owned joint--biggest feedbag in town--is a favorite of out-of-towners, so we're sure to have a family get together there sometime during the holidays.
   There are ten HUGE apples in my kitchen waiting to be baked into a pie. Trouble is, I soo do not feel like cooking today. Wish me luck in getting motivated!

Friday, December 16, 2011

On My Mind: BBQ chicken, Cherries

Still hate my camera; still don't feel like posting. Life goes on here tho'. Still cooking as many meals at home as possible. Mostly because home cooking tastes MUCH better than that found in most of the restaurants around here. Hubby barbecued a (humanely raised) chicken for us the other day and we ate its leftovers tonight. Oh, YEAH! (Btw, Hubby tests a chicken for doneness by twisting the legs; that's why the leg bones are missing.)
Just discovered that I still have some cherries in the freezer! When my disorganized freezer yields such an unexpected gift, I'm thinkin' jam...plan to try a new recipe, but then again, we really liked it last time I made Cherry Jam using the basic recipe on the box. I do plan to check out Rhonda's blog first. Maybe she's got something more interesting for me to do with those cherries? (Photo taken at Kentucky State Fair 2011.)
"Grimm" is on TV...intriguing me. Maybe it's time to get off the PC and watch? Hope something FAR MORE INTERESTING is going on with you tonight. In fact, hope you have a wild and wooly weekend!! Don't you just love the holidays?

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Catching up: Smoky Ketchup, Meatless Tuesday, Consignment shopping

Made this Smoky Ketchup the other day to eat with some fried oysters. After this shot, my camera battery petered out, so I don't have any proof that we ate oysters, mashed sweet potatoes and sautéed kale. ;)
Didn't manage to eat meatless on Monday, but made up for it on Tuesday. Made our spaghetti with Morningstar Farms mock meat crumbles. Hubby's not crazy about them, so I won't buy them again...once we use up what I've already bought. Hubby didn't complain too much about them this time. I've learned not to add them to the sauce until we plate our food. And of course, a little wine always helps anything to wash down. ;)
Went consignment shopping today to find a highchair for Grandbaby to use when at our house. We did end up finding one to suit our needs, at much less than retail prices. According to Living Greener, buying used "reduces the need to manufacture new materials, meaning less energy is consumed and less water is wasted in the process." Gotta love that!
Must end with this gratuitous pic of the pizza we ate last Friday. My fav E.B.A. pizza is from a locally owned and operated joint, 54 Pizza Express. Though there are lots of reasons to buy local, YUMMY FOOD is my favorite reason to keep going local. BTW, EBA is "everything but anchovies." YUM!
Soo excited that tomorrow is Friday. Maybe another EBA pizza is in my future? One can always hope!
   We have some out of town friends who have a family tradition of inviting friends over for pizza on Fridays. I LOVE that! Another friend makes enough chili for a crowd almost every Friday night during the cooler months. Before I became protective of my Friday nights--preferring to stay in--we ate many a bowl of his Friday night chili.
   Any similar food traditions going on in your neck of the woods?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Farmer Boy was my fav Little House book too!

Gourmet Live has named The Wednesday Chef its Blog of the Week. Gotta love any post that includes text from "Farmer Boy." I still whip that book out from time to time if I'm needing to get re-motivated to home cooking!
   Soon as I get my camera charged back up, I hope to start posting again. HATE my new camera, think I've missed the deadline to take it back, and am posting less because of it. Clearly one of those cases where the fact that I HATE shopping plays against me! *sigh*

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Holiday visits offer a great opportunity to 'Unstuff the Holidays'

When we went to our folks' houses this Thanksgiving, I took along some STUFF that no longer has a place in our lives. Like these crystal glasses that were part of our wedding registry. My SIL snapped these up right away, and I am happy to know someone else will be loving and USING these. Giving things to family doesn't feel like giving "away." There's no sense of loss, as I am just extending the family history of our stuff.
Looks like I'm not the only one with decluttering on my mind. Gotta love this article I just found on Yes! Magazine: Let’s Unstuff the Holidays by Fran Korten — YES! Magazine. Happy Decluttering!!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

I'm lookin' for inspiration for this year's Christmas tree

I thought this monkey tree was adorable...even tho' it didn't even merit a ribbon.
Took these shots at the Kentucky State Fair, and I've been saving them in hopes they would inspire me when it came time to decorate for Christmas. Decorating the house for Christmas on December 1st has been my tradition, so that's my plan for tomorrow. Not looking forward to it...I did mention I'm lazy, right? ;)
This candy tree won Best of Show.
Blue ribbon simplicity! 
   Wish me luck with my decorating...and I wish the same for you! Would LOVE to see what everyone is doing for decorations this holiday season, so please leave a link to a post on your blog if you'd like to show off your decor this season, whether for Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa...whatever!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Donut delights on Small Business Saturday!

My two favs: a Chocolate Bon Bon and an iced Jelly Donut. Disgustingly sweet? Yeah, but gotta love ' was cheat day after all. ;)
Finally winding down after Thanksgiving. All the out of towners have gone home...they will be missed! Until next time...
Rolling Pin Pastry Shop: my favorite little locally owned and operated Mom and Pop shop!
What's not to love?
Supporting small businesses isn't so hard now, is it? ;)
   Saw some snow today. Well, it was mixed with rain but it still counts, eh? I'm wearing a t-shirt, a top over that and a sweater over that and STILL I'M COLD. I was not ready for this colder weather. We're only using the woodburner on weekends when we're sure Grandbaby's not coming over. Prefer the cleaner air for one as young as she is, but sure missing that wood heat!
   Hope you're staying nice and toasty over at your place...or nice and cool if you're on the other side of the world!

Friday, November 18, 2011

On My Mind: Great Grandma sews, inspired by Joel

Inspired by the DIY Baby Sun Ray Toy over on Made by Joel, Great Grandma (my mom) sewed a baby "book." Needless to say, the book's a big hit with Grandbaby!! 
Great Grandma's creation, inspired by Joel. Gotta love those crafty folks who can turn scraps into something fun. Grandbaby says THANKS, GREAT GRANDMA!
   Thanks, Rhonda at Down-to-Earth, for this On My Mind concept. What's on your mind today?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Happy America Recycles Day!

Happy America Recycles Day...really, check out their site!! Yup, baring my recycle "bins" for all the world to see! ;) The bag hanging on the cabinet door knob contains greeting card fronts that I save for a local veterans' association, postage stamps saved for someone who sells them per pound to raise funds for her community's archives, plus the Campbell's Soup Labels for Education and Box Tops For Education we save to benefit a rural school. P.S. The peppers are being stored in the relatively cool garage, waiting to be cut up.
Finally satisfied my craving for onion rings! Lovin' this Crispy Onion Rings recipe I found in Sara Foster's Southern Kitchen. Basically it was just a beer batter, but I think the key was her advice to mix up the batter then let it sit for three hours before using. The onion rings turned out great, but now I'm left with a couple of quarts of used canola oil. Maybe it would be better if we eat onion rings only when eating out at a restaurant. ???
Hey, I found some "sustainably caught" salmon. It cost a "fortune" compared with most canned salmon, but the added cost eases my conscience re: any overfishing being done by this brand. My salmon patties were a riff on a crab cake recipe of Bobby Flay's.
   Not as healthy as yesterday's meal, eh? ;)

Monday, November 14, 2011

Meatless Monday: Firecracker Corn, Southern Cafe Stewed Apples

Ken Hom's Firecracker Corn, only I added green pepper
Almost forgot it was "Meatless Monday"! So, I went with deviled eggs, canned pork-n-beans, Firecracker Corn and Southern Café Stewed Apples. This is my favorite cooked apple recipe. It's best with Granny Smith's, but these are galas.
   I accidentally bought some non-organic apples, and since apples top the list of foods--the Dirty Dozen--with the highest pesticide residue, I decided to peel and cook these instead of eating them raw as we usually would. Usually when I cook apples, I'll leave the peel on, but that was out this time.
   Anyway, the corn and beans from lunch found their way into my soup, which turned out might fine! Hubby ate leftover spaghetti with Italian sausage tonight. Clearly, I am going to have to work harder on preparing something much more spectacular for our meatless main meal, so Hubby will be less likely to resort to eating meat for his dinner.
   Ah, well, there's always next time!!
Southern Café Stewed Apples, from Two for the Road by Jane and Michael Stern
Leftover veggies from lunch made their way into my supper! (Btw, this is not my soup bowl...Love my tiny Crockpot!
   For curiosity's sake, care to tell me what you'd have done with leftover corn and baked beans?

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Cheating is way more fun than decluttering

What is it about "our stuff" that makes us hold on to things, even if they no longer fit in our lives? 
My house woke me up in the wee hours this morn. The wind must've blown hard enough to bang the porch swing into the house, and I woke up disoriented and momentarily afraid of the darkness. As a child, I was afraid that mice came out in the dark, and I guess I've held on to some of that old fear of darkness despite the fact that we've never had a mouse in this house. Guess some old habits are hard to leave behind forever. Same goes for some objects.
   My angel with a broken, glued wing has been around as long as I can remember, and I distinctly remember unpacking my stone mushroom in a new home in Tennessee, when I was twelve or thirteen. I've moved MANY times since then, and with each move, I became more and more discriminating about sentimental attachments.
   But there are still a few hold outs. Neither this angel nor this mushroom ever gets displayed in our home anymore. Other mementos with far more value--whether sentimental or monetary--have displaced these two trinkets. They're usually "out of sight, out of mind," so why am I finding it so hard to finally let go?
   Yesterday was cheat day, and I had a fine time eating pasta and cake. Soo easy eating what I want when I want it. Wish decluttering were as easy as cheating!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Thanks, Veterans!

Thank you for your service to our country!

This moment: Lexington's Parkette Drive In

Lexington's Parkette Drive In: Love visiting locally owned joints...especially those with history!
Thanks to Soulemama for this Friday photo sharing concept. Hope you'll share a link to your moment!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Ten On Ten: Lovin' November

Thanks, A Bit of Sunshine, for this Ten on Ten Photo Project, capturing some element of our lives at the top of every hour. I will add photos throughout the day...might need to refresh the page if you visit again.
No sun—no moon—no morn—no noon,
No dawn—no dusk—no proper time of day,
No warmth—no cheerfulness—no healthful ease,
No road, no street, no t’ other side the way,
No comfortable feel in any member—
No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees,
No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds,
Thomas Hood
Almost Six O'Clock-ish: Yup, takes a little effort to get me out of bed when the sun's no help. Ten to fifteen minutes of my "Happy Light" glaring at me gets me off my tuchus every time!
Seven O'Clock-ish: Every time Grandbaby comes to visit, I get on the exercise bike for at least fifteen minutes while she watches. I aim to make an exercise lover out of her by example! ;)
Eight O'Clock-ish: Making bread pudding with some Butterscotch Amish Bread that was baked without any oil (OOPS!).
Nine O'Clock-ish: Snack time--roasted soybeans. These were as dull as dishwater 'til I added some seasonings.
Ten O'Clock-ish: Bread Pudding out of the oven. Not a fan of the stuff, I think this pic looks gross. (Hubby likes it!)
Eleven O'Clock-ish: This little one is much easier to entertain than her older sisters! ;)
Twelve O'Clock-ish: Let there be lunch! Some minced jalapeño sure revved our salads up!
One O'Clock-ish: See our little mistletoe crop up in the maple tree? The apple tree is hanging on to its leaves for dear life; most of our other trees have already shed theirs here in western Kentucky.
Two O'Clock-ish: Story Time! (SHORT story!)
Three O'Clock-ish: I prefer to pop my own on the stove, but this stuff I bought from the Boy Scout who lives next door isn't bad.
   Would love it if you'd leave a link to your own Ten on Ten...or to anything else you'd like to share!
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