Off the beaten path

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

I've had some thoughts rolling around in my brain the last few weeks and I think it's time I get them out. I'm not sure where they will go or what they mean, but they are there and I feel the need to share.

The Occupy Wall Street movement has grabbed not only my attention but my hope. I have hope that the change that has been needed for so very long will be acknowledged. I have hope that Americans will see that all that is shiny is not always good. Unfortunately, I don't have too much hope that our government will change for the better. For too long corporate lobbyists have used their super PACs to buy off politicians to get what they want at the expense of Main Street America.

So where does my hope lay you ask? Well, in the people. Those same people who gave all of their money to these corporate giants they now are protesting. True that laws were created giving corporations the same rights as people and there are tax loopholes a plenty that they get to take advantage of to avoid paying not only their fare share but also what I feel is their duty to pay. Let's not even go into how corporations get away with stealing retirement benefits from workers to give the executives huge bonuses and "Golden Parachutes" while those who did the actual work are laid off and told there is no money for their own retirement. No, my hope is that with this movement, people will realize what made America the great country it once was is still there. It's there on Main Street where they are having their protests. It's in the small businesses of America that are the other option for your money. It's the corner diner to take your family for that Friday night dinner instead of Denneys, it's shopping at a local supermarket or grocery store instead of at Wal-Mart or Target. My hope is for people to realize that going back to basics is what is needed not only for our government but for the citizens as well. The corporations only got so powerful because we gave them the money, we shopped at their stores, put our money in their banks and used their services.

I am proud to say that I have been a loyal credit union customer with my banking since I got my first checking account, I've shopped at Wal-Mart only a handful of times in my life, choose to eat at locally owned independent businesses instead of chains keeping my money in my town and my community. When shopping for food, we shop for ingredients, not packaged items, we make our food from scratch which is not only better for you, but costs less in the end. When buying gifts for others I usually will shop on Etsy knowing I am supporting independent crafters like myself and not paying for cheap labor in China. Yes, what I purchase may be more expensive, but I buy less than if I was shopping at Target. My purchases are more thought out and personal which in the end is more meaningful for the recipient and isn't that the point of a gift? Not just to give someone more stuff, but to give them something you worked hard to create or seek out yourself?

Now before my arm gets tired patting itself on the back, I'm not perfect and know that I have contributed my own amounts to large corporations. I admit to having a cell phone account with Verizon for more years than I can count, but that plan is the most basic plan I can get and neither my husband's or my phone are the newest or greatest. We have no aps, no GPS, no Facebook or anything like that for our phones, we can make phone calls, text, and take some photos and that's about it. I also am far more in debt that I would like to and am working on paying my way out and getting to the other side. How did I let myself get so far in debt? I fell prey to corporate advertisers and peer pressure in wanting to have the latest and greatest stuff. I wanted to live like I had no worries when in fact I did and they have now caught up to me, but I have happily changed my ways and learned that life is good even when you seem to have nothing.

I am also not fully guiltless because I have to say I have, myself, profited from the current economic conditions. If it wasn't for the housing crash in 2008 I wouldn't have been able to afford the home I now have. For about what we paid in rent for a 1 bedroom apartment I have a huge 1,615 square foot house with a large backyard. I was smart and made sure I could afford the mortgage payments and got a fixed rate mortgage. It's because of this crash that I have also learned how to do more with less. For $28 my husband and I were able to purchase 80lbs of tomatoes and can them for the rest of the year. Spending a couple days canning will save us probably double that amount for the rest of the year and that's just the beginning. You may say, "but is it worth all the work?" Yes it is. When you think of the sodium and preservatives that go into most canned food along with not sure where that food is coming from, it's worth it. Most people say they don't have the time to can, preserve, or cook from scratch and that's only because they are not willing to take the time. The time spent with your family in jointly creating a meal from scratch is worth far more than the 30 minute meal you threw together and your family ate in front of the tv. My hope with this movement is that more people out there become aware of small changes they can make to their everyday lives to not only save money but also make sure the money they spend stays in their community and out of corporate hands. When there is no more money on Wall Street and Main Street is prosperous then, we will have our America back. This is my hope. So go out, skip getting your morning coffee from Starbucks and try that local coffee shop, they just might surprise you.

Making that food dollar go all the way.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

I've been thinking lately how we will make some awesome meals then live off of the left overs for a week or until we are sick to death of them. Well, this week we're doing things differently. Last night I did the traditional roasted chicken using chicken quarters husband had got on sale with some staples we keep in the house of potatoes, carrots and onions. It came out fabulous, but not something I wanted to eat all week long for lunch and dinner. Tonight is the beginning of the re-purpose, re-use and re-design of that which was made first.

I now present to you, the chicken tostada!

I took one of the quarters and shredded it, added garlic powder, red chili powder and cumin and sauteed it while I fried up some left over tortillas from Saturday. I heated up some beans, chopped some onions added some cilantro and busted out the tomatillo salsa that husband had made that day. They turned out fabulous and were a quick Tuesday night meal that even Rachel Ray and her 30 minute timer would be proud of.

Huzzah for leftovers of another color!

Baker's first time

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Those who know me know that I'm not a huge baker but I do enjoy the occasional cookie baking session. Husband has been begging for a Kitchenaid mixer for a couple years now and since he makes many loaves of bread in a month so I figured he kind of deserved it and Christmas came early to the Peterson house.

After noticing a sale at Kohl's where the $399 mixer was on sale for $299 and I had a 30% coupon giving me an extra $90 off plus free shipping, a $30 rebate and ordering through getting me another $8.40 cash back, I figured I couldn't pass it up. Also, I think husband was happy.

Not to mention the pretty pistachio green color couldn't be passed up!

Once I broke it in with a batch of cookies, husband has made banana bread, white bread and a batch of tortillas so I felt it necessary to put my baking skills to the test tonight. Husband had bought a big bag of limes last week and I didn't want them to go to waste so I figured it was time to do a key lime pie. I whipped up a graham cracker crust and found a recipe for a key lime pie. Now the tricky part was that having egg whites left over I figured I would make a meringue for the top. I have never beat egg whites to a stiff peak before and I hope I did it correctly, but I think the pie at least turned out pretty. Just going to have to give it a try.

To the rabbit hole

Friday, August 12, 2011

The parking lot where I work is located in an alley and therefore is not the "shiny" side of the street. Several months ago, I noticed some interesting graffiti on the back of the building that is behind our parking lot. A cute little bunny. He just sat there on the corner of the building like he was meant to watch over the alley.

This morning, as I looked over to make sure our little friend was still there and doing his duty, I noticed something new. He now had a home to go to at night. A small door was placed on the side of the building and you could see his little rabbit foot prints make their way from the door to his place of vigil where he stands during the day.

This little bit of "vandalism" or artistic creativity made my morning and brought a ray of sunshine into an otherwise gloomy day. So, thank you to who ever you are that decided to add some whimsy to our world. We need more of it in these dark times and it sure does help.

Mexican chicken on the fly

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

In my effort to update this blog a bit more often, I'll share what I made for dinner last night. Husband was gracious enough to thaw out a little roasting chicken during the day, so I rubbed it with some olive oil, garlic, salt, cumin and cayenne then set it in a 400 degree oven for a little over an hour and served it with some great corn he had picked up earlier in the week.

Topped with some left over salsa and a sprinkle of green onions it was quiet tasty and not a whole lot of work.

Dark and Stormy - Yes Please!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Not sure if I've ever mentioned my new found love for the beverage known as a dark and stormy. If I haven't well, let me introduce you. A dark and stormy is a lovely rum drink simply made with Gosling's black seal rum and the spiciest ginger beer you can get. You poor the ginger beer into your glass, then float the rum on top to add the "dark and stormy" look. Garnish with a lime and that's it! You're done, enjoy!

In my quest to find a suitably spicy ginger beer, I came across a recipe online to make your own. As the home making freak that I am I, of course, had to try this recipe and since I was planning on having a luau party, I figured this would be the ultimate time to make it. The recipe is simple, grated ginger, fresh lemon juice, simple syrup, yeast and time. That's it, nothing too special. When done, I had a wonderfully spicy ginger brew that made my dark and stormys to die for. Also, on hot summer days, it's wonderful on it's own served over ice.

The recipe needs some tweaking, a little more ginger, a little less lemon, but all in all, it's a great cheap beverage for cocktails or on its own. Enjoy!

Dog Whispering and Dead Batteries

Monday, August 8, 2011

It all started with the thought to do some good for a friend. A girlfriend of mine recently decided to foster a little yorkie but has never owned a dog in her life and was starting to have some problems. The dog had started to bite her and her family and also basically anyone who went to touch him and she didn't know what to do. As a dog lover and an avid fan/student of Cesar Milan's I wanted to help. I figured she was doing her part by giving a homeless dog a home, it was up to me to help her with how to provide a happy home for the dog.

You'd think this is the face of an angel? Sweet little yorkie can do no wrong. Right? Um, no. From what my friend had told me, Leo was found on the streets and it seems he's had no "formal" training in his life and has just been able to run wild and take over whatever he wants. Well, I show up and basically tell him that things are going to change. After 40 minutes of trying to get the dog to submit to me I finally am able to get the leash on him. The whole time I have to control my emotions and stay calm while this dog is trying to attack my feet, the broom I am holding and whatever else he can get his teeth on him. Needless to say I was emotionally spent but had only just begun. One good thing is that Leo is wonderful on a leash and is taken on walks daily by the family which is the best thing they were doing for him so when we went out for a quick walk to re-balance ourselves I didn't have to fight him or show him how to walk properly because they were already doing it all correctly. Yay!

Getting back into the house we decided the first thing to work on was his biting. (Oh joy!) I went to sit on the couch and brought Leo with me and let the fun begin. Once again, he did not want to submit and knew that he had all this power by being able to bite and snap at people, but I was determined not to let him win. Needless to say, after several frustration fits that made it sound like he was being murdered, laying him down to submit and several small bites to my left hand, he finally began to calm down and realize I wasn't there to kill him. The poor pup had even peed and pooped himself because he had so much pent up frustration and just released everything he had on me, but we had success! This whole time my wonderful husband was with me and he knew exactly what I was doing so he could talk to the family and let them know what was going on, what I'm trying to accomplish and answer their questions leaving me to purely focus on the dog, and trust me, I needed it. After the fit-o-rama that Leo put on, their next big request was to get him to go into his crate because that's where they want him to sleep at night. Phew... no problem! It took a bit to show Leo what I wanted and for him to trust me enough to move forward, but in the end it was only about 30-40 seconds of me giving him a gentle tug of the leash into the crate until he moved forward, then he was in with no problem. We did it several times with the mom, kids and me and each time was easier and easier, just like I knew it was going to be. There were a couple other small issues and lots of questions, but by the end of the evening, Leo was going into his crate all by himself and the family was very grateful to have had us come over. Myself; I was emotionally exhausted from staying calm with a temper tantrum dog biting my hand over and over again and also fairly proud of myself for what I had accomplished. I had never done anything like this before, but kept my head and knew I was doing what was right for the dog and the family.

That was Friday, this is Saturday or Day of the Dead as I call it. All started well with thoughts of going to the farmer's market for whatever goodies we could find, a quick stop at the grocery store was all that stood in our way. We stopped at the store for the much needed cat food, got our cash for the market and were back in the car when... click, click, click... dead battery. CRAP! How could it be dead? We've had no problems!?! So I go to call roadside assistance and notice 1 bar left on my phone. Double crap! Well, here's to hoping that the battery will hold for my rescue call, which it did, then once I received the confirmation text, it went ahead and died it's battery death. There we sat with 2 dead batteries and waiting for a jump. Luckily there was shade and it was a pleasant morning, so other than being pissed that this was happening and frustrated that I hadn't charged my phone, all was well. Except... husband decides to play music from his phone to make the time go faster and his phone which has been having issues lately decides to lock up and we can't get it to turn back on. WTH??? Well, within the described time the guy shows up to jump our car and I guess our battery was extra dead because he had to use his car plus the portable jump compressor. Just as he is driving away and we are going to pull out, the car dies again! TRIPLE CRAP!!!

There we sat, no car battery, no cell phone and no idea what we were going to do. Luckily the kind people at the bank inside the grocery store were wonderful enough to let me use their phone to call, once again, for a jump, which turned into a tow. After more frustration and waiting and not knowing what we're going to do with this stinking car because now we don't know if it's the battery or the alternator, hoping for the best, preparing for the worst, the tow truck shows up to take us home. At this point all we want to do is go back to bed and start the day over, but we know there are problems that need fixing and batteries that need to be attended to so we got to work. Husband got his tools and dealt with the car battery while I put my phone on the charger and went on the hunt for my old phone to transfer to the husband. Much later with more frustrations and hard work we both finished. A day that started around 10:30am with a "quick trip to the store" ended at 4pm exhausted and all we had to show for it was a bag of catfood and a lighter wallet. We were glad we survived however husband did say "no good deed goes unpunished." Meaning the good we did the night before helping a friend in need was punished with what we went through that day. I'm not sure if I agree, but it certainly had great timing if it's true.

Luckily, Sunday was capped off with an evening of fun having Mark, Selina and their boys over for pizza and a movie. Laughter and fun was all we had to deal with and we survived that with flying colors!

Goofing off makes for a fun weekend

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Not much has been accomplished this weekend around our house other than lots of fun. There's housework to be done, a kitchen to be cleaned, laundry to be laundered and a guinea pig cage to be cleaned. But what have we done? Goofed off, plain and simple. Saturday we slept in then decided a breakfast at Eggies was needed. After breakfast, we came home to "rest up" for our big outing of the day which was to go to the mermaid parade held in Old Sacramento.
   Click here to view photos from the event.

Lots of great costumes and a fun little time in Old Sac.

After all of the action of watching mermaids go by, husband was ready for lunch and since is was past 2p, I agreed and off to Flaming Grill we went. One of our favorite places to go for some of the best burgers in town! We enjoyed our jalapeno jack burgers (he had boar, I had the ostrich) then went to our friend's house to drop off some mango bread husband had made to share. We visited for a while then decided we had had quite the busy day and needed to go home. Nothing better than getting absolutely nothing done, but having a great time doing it.

This morning we got up, got our act together and headed downtown for a custom bike show. Lots of fun and very cool bikes to look at and of course take pictures of.

It's still early and the last day of the weekend, so I suppose I should get going and get some stuff done. Kitchen, here I come! Happy weekend everyone!

The crafty side of July

Thursday, July 14, 2011

July is now half over and I'm thinking back to what I have got accomplished. Well, there are a few things and let me share them with you all. First off, for the 4th of July weekend we found sweet white corn on sale at a local supermarket and bought 30 ears. I made the decision that I was going to can corn for the first time since I have a pressure canner and it needs to be used more often. The work involved in shucking and de-cobbing 30 ears of corn is not too bad, but still takes a while, but the payoff is worth it. My house smelled so awesome when the canner was going and for many hours later. Here's the bounty that I was able to obtain from those 30 ears. Six quarts of corny goodness!

Next, I decided I'd take on one of my arch nemesis: pork tenderloin. People that know me know that I have a mixed history with pork. I've never really liked bacon, but will eat sausage (sometimes) but haven't really liked pork chops or pork tenderloin. I went for many years and didn't eat any pork or beef and was just fine, but since I got together with this crazy man that I married he has me wanting to try all sorts of things because he loves it so much. Well, pork tenderloin here I am. Cruising recipes I found one for a grilled pork tenderloin in a hoisin and honey glaze that sounded awesome, and I'll tell you what, it was! I was so shocked at myself for not only making this awesome dinner which included grilled pineapple, but for liking the pork so much. My next task is going to be pork chops so we'll see how that goes. :)

My next project was to finally embroider on some great flour sack towels I found at our local thrift store still in the package! I love that I found these brand new towels which at any regular store would be about $12 for the pack of 4 I got, but at Thrift Town they were only $1.99!! I love thrifting! I have finished 2 of the towels and have 2 more to go. The first towel I did a camping theme with a cute trailer and the second is in a tiki theme. The one I'm currently working on is a bicycle theme with a boy and a girl next to their bikes with trees in the background. It should be real cute when finished.

Cooking and crafting are all fun and rewarding, but sometimes you still need a little something to bring a happy ending to your day. When that is needed I have some wonderful friends that invite husband and I on their pontoon boat for a cruise on the river. It's always fun and always very relaxing. This is the way every day should end in my book.

Happy crafting my friends!

Life really is like a roller coaster

WOW, more than a month has gone by since I last updated this thing. I really need to do better and keep up on it. Since my last post we've had ups, downs, spin arounds and everything else in between. June was scheduled to be vacation month with family fun. Husband's parents were scheduled to come out in late June for a nice long visit and both he and I had put in vacation days for a much needed break. Well, Sunday before they are due to show up we receive a phone call from Tate's mom telling us they can't make the trip because she has broken her foot and needs to stay off of it for several weeks. None the less, we were devastated. Of course we felt bad for his mom having to deal with a broken foot, but we were also selfish and sad that our vacation was now kaput. We hadn't seen them since our wedding and with our finances the way they are we don't know when we will be able to go to Chicago to see them. Putting a brave face on we decided to keep our vacation days as scheduled and just have a nice stay-cation at home and have some much needed playtime.

The day before our vacation is to start I get a call from Tate telling me he just got laid off. No reason was given and, in fact, his manager said he disagreed with the owner on this decision saying he's doing a great job but the owner wants "to go in a different direction." BOOM, another slap in the face! Needless to say, my vacation started a few hours early so I could go pick him and his stuff up at work since he had ridden that day.

We made the decision that since we had planned to go on vacation to stick with that and deal with "the real world" when our vacation was up. I decided this was the perfect time for an over night up at Apple Hill like we always wanted to and booked us a night at The Camino Hotel so the next morning we got up and started our vacation heading up the hill for some fun times.

We stopped at our favorite deli in downtown Sac for some sandwiches and then hit the road. Our first stop as always was Jodar. We love that place and they love us. (at least that's what they tell us. LOL!) We left Lisa (the manager) with a jar of my blueberry jam as a thank you for yummy wines and headed over to Jack Russell for lunch. The day was perfect for sandwiches and beers on the grass.

After a nice long relaxing lunch basking in the sun and enjoying ourselves we headed out for more wine tasting and visiting with our Apple Hill friends. We had another pause in the day when we decided to share a bottle of wine at Lava Cap and the people next to us even gave us cookies!

As the day wore on we decided it was time to check into the hotel for a bit of a rest and maybe some water after all that drinking and wine tasting we had been doing. LOL! We headed to the hotel to find the cutest B&B I have been to since I was in Ireland. Since it was mid-week, we had the place to ourselves and the owner had actually driven from the bay area to open the place for us since her innkeeper was on vacation. We got a tour of the hotel and a pick of any room we wanted. The room we chose was cramped with a tall king size bed, but had a nice spacious bathroom with a claw foot tub. Once settled in our room, we freshened up and walked across the street to the Forrester Grill and had some dinner with the best onion rings I've had in a very long time.

After dinner we went back up to Jack Russell to hang out in the sunshine on the grass one more time and watch people play corn hole. Talk about a relaxing day that ended with me falling asleep back at our hotel around 8pm. The next morning we were treated with a wonderful breakfast of fruit, toast, eggs, sausage and a potato and cheese creation that was yum-tastic! We slowly got our act into gear and checked out of the hotel to make our way back home.

The rest of our vacation was spent having fun around the house, going to the Friday night concert in the park where I ran into an old friend who we grew up across the street from each other. Went to our first roller derby bout in a very long time with some friends that we met there when we first started dating and ran into more friends at the bout making for a very fun night. Not to mention our team kicked some serious roller derby butt! We spent a day in the pool with the bestie and I came home with a nice bright red back to show for it. All in all it was a great vacation even though it started off filled with disappointments.

It's only a scratch

Friday, June 3, 2011

This has been some week and I am very glad it's Friday. We had a bit of an event Wednesday evening when I went to do dishes and noticed that the water was running low on pressure. I went to the backyard thinking that the husband had left a hose on to water one of the fruit trees only to find a fountain where our water spout used to be, the backyard flooded and happy wet dogs everywhere. Not knowing what to do, I got the dogs inside, put on my garden shoes and went tromping out into the wet and the mud. Nothing could be fixed out there, the pipe had snapped from being so rusted since it was so old. The only shut off valve I knew of was at the front of the house and would turn off the water to the whole house, so I turned it off and left dishes in the sink un-done hoping husband would be home soon. He was riding his 12 mile ride home on his bike and I knew there was no way to get in touch. Luckily when he got home, he knew of a hidden valve in the laundry room that cuts the water to the backyard so we were able to restore water to the house and the dishes got clean! Hazzah!! Of course, we're still left with the broken pipe in the backyard, but that's a project for the weekend and we'll take care of that soon.

Let's continue our journey to Thursday night. I'm at home happily waiting for husband to call me to say he's leaving work and on his way home when the phone rings and instead of Tate on the other end it's his manager, Eric calling to say that Tate has a pretty good cut on his head, they can't get the bleeding to stop to see how bad it is and they don't want him driving home. Oh boy. I get my stuff together to go fetch him when Tate calls me back saying it's not that bad, but his boss is going to take him to the doctor's office to have it checked out since it's a workman's comp issue. Now I am left at home waiting for a phone call to find out where he's going to end up, how bad things are and what is going on. About an hour later he calls and tells me where he is and I'm off to fetch him out in Citrus Heights.

I arrive at the doc-in-a-box to find Tate sitting in the waiting room, a bloody paper towel from the bathroom in the shop on his head covered in dried blood. Other than the mess, he actually looked pretty good and just irritated he was there and had to go through the hassle. The bleeding had stopped by that time and I could see that it really wasn't too bad of a cut, but since it's a head would it bled like a mother! I finally got around to asking him how it happened and he said just what I had suspected, banged his head on a bike hanging in the warehouse. So finally after about another half an hour wait they call him in to see the doctor and I'm left in the waiting room. Luckily I remember that I had my knitting bag in the car so have craft will travel got her knit on while she was waiting for Tate to get out of the doctor's office.

An hour later, he comes out finally cleaned up with a couple little steri-strips on his head and we are free to go. We both are in bad need of a beer and I'm starving at this point because I hadn't eaten dinner so we decide to go to our favorite sushi place since it was 99cent saki night. Luckily, the day ended well with yummy sushi, beers and saki, great conversation and husband only left with a little scratch. Let's hope tonight is just a quiet night at the homestead.

Tate's bandaged head. All that worry and waiting for a couple little bandaids.

I'm getting too old for this sh!t

Monday, May 16, 2011

Oh the weekend I have had. Too much fun with too much alcohol makes for two days of recovery. First the fun. Thursday night my bestie took me to the Zac Brown Band concert for my birthday. It was amazing! I love this band and they are even better live, not to mention the fact that we had field seats getting us super close to the stage.

We thought we were being smart. "Hey, let's take a cab so we don't have to drive and can drink and not worry about anything." Sounds smart doesn't it? Well, one fatal flaw is that it leaves the door open to drink too much. At our age we really should know better, but we didn't. We were there to party! We hadn't been to a concert with just the two of us since our Jimmy Buffett days and we partied like we were 24 again. We stumbled home around midnight just as my husband was going to bed and chatted with him in our drunken ways eating our drunken snacks of chili cheese fritos, cheddar munchies, potato chips, Jelly Belly Belly Flops, M&M's and sour apple candy. The best snacks when you're drunk!

Once we were satiated, we all headed to bed and passed out. Husband was up first since he had to go to work, then me since I couldn't get back to sleep. I woke up starving and had no desire to cook food because I knew I would just have to clean it up later, so I made a quick trip to Beto's for a chorizo breakfast burrito. The best thing after a night of partying. As I sat on the couch watching my morning bad tv and eating my burrito, the bestie woke up and said she had to get back home. After she left I was back on the couch and that's about where I stayed for the day. I felt drained and had no energy for anything. I had danced away the night singing at the top of my lungs and now I was left lifeless on the couch streaming Netflix movies through my Wii.

After recovering all day on Friday from Thursday's antics, I knew I needed to be in tip-top shape for Saturday because I had something big to pull off and needed everything I had to do it. My plan was to throw a surprise party for the husband for his birthday that was on Wednesday but I also had promised my girlfriend that I would watch her son for her while she worked an event that day. Saturday morning arrived and I got up with husband to make the coffee and get my act in gear. He knew that I would be babysitting that day, but that was about it. After he left the house, Zachary showed up and it was time to get in gear. There was shopping to do and decorations to get as well as food to cook so I got dressed and we were out the door.

We finished our shopping and headed back to the house to get to work. Of course Zachary was more interested in playing Mario Cart on the Wii and watching movies than helping, but what else do you expect from a 10 year old boy? I decorated the dining room and hung some tiki style lanterns in the kitchen, then got to work making my salsas for the Mexican fiesta I had planned for dinner. I also made sure to make him a chocolate on chocolate cake because you can't have a birthday party without birthday cake!

The rest of the day was spent cooking, cleaning or something in between until I had it all done and just had to cook the pastor for the tacos after everyone arrived. Lisa showed up to pick up Zachary and we were able to have a nice visit until husband came home. He walked right in the house, through the decorated dining room and into the kitchen, past the lanterns without noticing anything! I do love this man. :) I then had to just tell him: "hey honey, guess what? I've had something up my sleeve for a while, and SURPRISE, you're getting a party tonight! Now go change your shirt, I ironed one for you right there." hahahaha Needless to say, he was quite surprised and that was when he noticed all the decorations.

Lisa and Zachary took off at that point and we got ready for the guests to arrive. The party was a blast. Everyone had such a good time, my food was a hit and Tate said it was the best birthday he's had in a very long time, so I think that's a good thing. I remained a semi-good girl and didn't drink too much since I had over imbibed Thursday night, but Tate had his party-on and by the end of the night took a header in the workshop and ended up bruising his ribs. I guess the saying is right when they say it isn't a party until someone is on the floor. LOL!

Sunday was spent, once again, in recovery mode. Mostly because I was tired since I didn't sleep well the night before but truly because I'm too old for this sh!t. I did manage to can some jam I had meant to do on Friday, so I have 4 pints of strawberry jam and 4 pints of blackberry/jalapeno jam to show for my efforts. Otherwise, Sunday was spent napping on the couch and streaming more movies from Netflix. Luckily the husband had the day off so he was lazy with me and quiet sore from his fall. All in all, a great weekend not to be out done in a very long time, I hope!

It's a foodie Easter

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

We tried so very hard. So very, very hard to make it a lazy Easter Sunday. But the food called our names. It started with my alarm going off at 7am for me to put the pork shoulder on the smoker for dinner. Waking up that early on a Sunday is not a good thing, and having to handle raw meat that early is even worse, but knowing the goodness that will come of it makes it all worth while. Once I had the smoker cleaned up and heating, I got the pork nicely seasoned down with a good rub, watered down my wood chips, and dropped that bad boy on the smoker for a nice slow cook and headed back to bed, but of course I couldn't go to sleep, so I just laid there until husband woke up and was ready to start his day.

Next business for the day was breakfast. Given this was a holiday and the only day we have off together it has to be good, but our fixin's weren't that great so I decided to dig a box of beignets from the Cafe du Monde out of the pantry that we got for Christmas one year and make those. A little more involved than I wanted it to be, but they turned out puffy, powdery and pleasant!

Now that we were satiated with sugar and fried goodness, I thought our day was going to be spent on the couch watching bad tv, but husband decided that we needed rosemary bread for the week and honey rolls to go with the pulled pork I was making. While he was baking away getting his dough ready to rise, I was playing on the internet and found a recipe for a honey chipotle bbq sauce that sounded perfect for the pulled pork. When I informed husband of my want to make said bbq sauce, he informed me that he just used up the last of the honey, so a trip to the market was in order.

We decided to go together, because that is what you do when neither of you want to go to the store, you make it a group adventure. Running to the local ghetto mart should have been in and out, get the honey and be done with it, but no, not us, we have to browse. I spotted some yummy looking avocados and tomatoes that I decided had to be made into guacamole that day and Tate found black beans that just called to be made into chili. Having our now basket full of items ready to go, and yes we did remember to get the honey, we headed back home with a whole new batch of projects for the day. "What happened to my quiet, lazy Sunday??"

Guacamole was made for lunch along side a big yummy salad and Tate made his rosemary bread, maple rolls and chili. I made the bbq sauce and the pork was removed from the smoker and pulled for an amazing sandwich for dinner served with one of Tate's home made dill pickles. It wasn't the Sunday I had planned, but it was a Sunday I won't soon forget and knowing that we will eat for a long time off of what we made that day makes it that much better.

Glassy Saturday

Thursday, April 21, 2011

I received an email from a good friend of mine last week asking if I would like to be her plus one at a glass blowing class she bought on Groupon. My answer was, "Would I? Of course I would!" So the plan was made to get together Saturday morning and head to a local glass studio and learn how to make a paperweight.

I showed up at Jen's house with camera in hand ready to take lots of photos and be her assistant. My main roll was to document and assist as needed. We learned the history of glass blowing, the tools of the trade and were given a demonstration on what we would be doing to make the paperweight. It was fascinating and fun at the same time. After the demonstration, it was Jen's turn to step up to the furnace and make the glass pretty. She had picked out the colors she wanted to add in the middle and was all set to go. I kept snapping photos and even got to help out a bit. We are going back to pick up the final product on the 30th since it needed time to properly cool down in a controlled environment. They are supposed to do another groupon for Christmas to make an ornament and we both can't wait to do that one too.

After our adventures in glass we thought we'd stick with the theme and check out a local pottery place called Panama Pottery where they have a huge selection of pottery and garden art, then headed to Dad's Kitchen for lunch. It was a great Saturday spent with a very good friend.

Click here to see photos

Beginning of the End

Monday, March 28, 2011

Well, it's finally happened, I have hit the final year of my 30's. My birthday was this last week and to say it was interesting is being subtle. I planned to take my birthday off because, who freakin' wants to work on their birthday and also because Chako the pit bull rescue that I occasionally volunteer for was having an adoption event and I agreed to volunteer to help. Well, since it's been raining non-stop crazy here for what seems the last 8 months, the event was cancelled since it was in a park, so I was stuck with no plans, no money and nothing to do. I spent the day on my couch watching bad movies streamed through Netflix with my dogs and a nice fire while it poured outside.

Husband had to work all day and needed to stop at the store after work, so by the time he got home, I was bored senseless and had no idea what was going on. I was surprised with a bunch of flowers, which was my second batch of flowers I have gotten from him this year and is twice the amount of flowers I have ever received from him so it was an extra pleasant surprise. He had bought all sorts of groceries for the mystery party that was being planned between him and the bestie for Saturday, and was ready to call it a day. I asked him what the plan for dinner was and the darling that he is, had no plans because all his planning abilities were being used for the Saturday shin-dig so I think I ended up having popcorn for dinner and a fruity rum drink chaser. LOL!

Canning day

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Recently I spent a day putting yummy ingredients into jars. I spent way too much money on ingredients but made some new and fun stuff. First up was bacon jam. Anyone who knows me knows I don't like bacon but husband does so this was all for him. It all starts out by slicing up a bunch of bacon and getting it nice and crispy.

It takes a while, but once crispy you remove the bacon from the pan to let it sit while you saute some onions.

After the onions are all nice and soft, you add the rest of your ingredients which include brown sugar, maple syrup, and bourbon. Add your bacon back into the mixture to bring to a boil then add to a crockpot to let it sit and simmer for about 4 hours to cook down into bacony goodness.

My next adventure was to make a hard cider jelly using Fox Barrel's Black Currant cider. I had found the recipe on another fabulous blog and thought it would be yummy.

It was a fairly standard jelly using low sugar pectin and it turned out scrumptious! It's not too sweet and has a very delicate taste. I have discovered I really enjoy eating it on toasted home made rosemary bread. Combined with your morning coffee and it makes for a great start to your day and it looks so pretty in the jar too!

Once the hard cider jelly was finished, I whipped out a batch of red wine jelly that has come in quite handy for hors d'oeurves.

Next up was something I wasn't planning on making, but thought "what the heck?" and did it anyway. I pulled some pomegranate seeds I had from the freezer and decided to do a pomegranate jelly.

A great friend of mine has a huge pomegranate tree in her backyard and every year she gives me a very large bag filled with this delectable fruit. I spend hours hunched over bowls elbow deep into shucking pomegranates to get those small morsels of ruby goodness. Having spent so much time harvesting these tasty nuggets, I felt it was only proper to make them into a jelly. Armed with my handy Ball canning book, a big bowl, strainer and a Cuisinart, I got to work. I was able to get just enough juice out of the seeds to make one batch of jelly.

Unfortunately, the jelly didn't set and had to be re-processed the next day, but it turned out awesome! A light pomegranate taste to it that is absolutely divine.

It was a long day of canning, but well worth it as my pantry now has many more jars of goodness that have been added to it. I can't wait for summer for all the fruits and veggies, I even have a good hook-up this year for free stuff. Husband and I will probably have to trade some dinners but it's well worth it.

The sum of my day...

But wait, there's more! You didn't think I would finish with just that? I had bacon left over from the jam and I just couldn't let it go to waste, so I smothered it in brown sugar and cayenne pepper and candied it in the oven for husband to enjoy.

Until next time, happy canning!

I know, I know, it's been too long...

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Sorry for the last entry that seemed like a whine-a-palooza, but Christmas this last year was very stressful and I really had no Christmas spirit. That being said, it was a wonderful time. Our party was a hit and everyone had fun, Christmas eve was spent at the bestie's house where Santa made a surprise visit, then Christmas day was spent at home for the first time with just the husband and I. We got up early to open presents and see what gifts Santa had left us, then made a wonderful breakfast and put a pork shoulder on the smoker for dinner. We watched movies all day in our jammies and there was wrapping paper on the floor until the next day.

I went to town decorating for Christmas making our mud room my homage to the movie Elf with paper snowflakes everywhere. It was pretty cool!

After Christmas life went back to normal for us with very little time together. Tate's work schedule was not vibing with mine, and other than Christmas and New Year's we haven't really had any days off together. This makes it rough for us, but we are dealing as best we can and know that it will change again soon. The good part of having no days off together is that the house is staying relatively clean and we are getting some projects done. Tate made me the promised canning jar chandelier that I had asked him to make me to replace a horrid 80's style lamp in our kitchen and it turned out awesome! It's even connected to the light switch making it ever so rad. My husband is quite handy to have around the house to help with all of those crazy crafty ideas I come up with. :~)

Along with the chandelier, I did some canning of my own due to the fact that I had found some blackberries on sale and had some frozen raspberries to go with them. I made some seriously yummy jam and some jalapeno jelly at the same time since I had found some jalapeno's buried in the freezer just waiting to be made into that hot/sweet nectar of goodness.

Getting my jam on.

The total of an afternoon's work.

Time's are still rough around our house. There are no days off together in sight for the next week that we know of and I have a 3 day weekend looking me in the face this weekend and am thinking of more canning. It takes time and gets my mind off the fact that I don't have my husband and friend there to spend the day with. Funny, I lived alone for so long of my life, and I did well. I had things I did and never felt lonely, but now I count the hours until I get to see him again even if it is for a few short hours in the evening before bed.

This weekend's plan is to try out some new canning recipes. I've found a couple that sound really good and I'm going to try my hand at it. Not sure if I'll make it through everything but here's my list:
  • Hard cider jelly made with Fox Barrel Currant Cider
  • Red wind jelly
  • Cranberry/Pineapple jam (modified from my cranberry sauce I make for Thanksgiving just for the husband)
  • Pomegranate Champagne jelly
  • Bacon Bourbon jam (again, just for the husband)
  • Sri Lankan Mustard (hey, it's mustard, how bad can it be?)
Wish me luck and let's hope for the best!  Until next time.

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