Monday, August 14, 2017

Lime Basil Water

Basil is the one herb that consistently thrives in our yard.  It doesn’t matter where we plant it, or how much we neglect it.  We always end up with lots of basil.  I’m not complaining.  I love basil, and I love finding new ways to use it.  My latest way of using basil is incredibly simple, and incredibly delicious.

We all know we need to drink plenty of water, especially during the warmer weather, but sometimes it’s hard.  Plain water can be a little boring.  Adding lime and basil brightens it up a little bit, but the flavors are still fairly subtle.  

Lime Basil Water:
1 gallon of water
½ cup basil leaves, rinsed
1 Tbsp lime juice.

Combine all three ingredients in a pitcher, stir, and refrigerate.

Enjoy!

Recipe Notes:
I like to use this style pitcher because the ice guard keeps the basil leaves in the pitcher, and out of my glass.  The basil flavor gets stronger over time, so if you don’t drink all of the water within about 24 hours, spoon the basil leaves out, otherwise the flavor becomes a little too strong.  I use plain tap water.  I know it’s not the case everywhere, but the water here tastes good and doesn’t have any strange odors.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Morris Island Lighthouse

Yesterday was National Lighthouse Day.  I had plans to do this post then, but it was a typical Monday, so that didn’t happen.  I think it’s interesting, though, so I decided just to do the post a day late.

Last year our beach vacation was very different than usual.  We ended up leaving a few days early because of a hurricane evacuation, but we were able to see the Morris Island lighthouse lit up.  It’s just off of Folly Beach, South Carolina, and October 1, 2016 marked the 140th anniversary of the current lighthouse being lit.  It’s no longer in use, but Save The Light was able to arrange a lighting for the first time in over 50 years.

October 1st just happened to be the first day of our vacation, so we made sure to walk out to the end of the island so we could see the lighthouse all lit up.  We chose to skip the ceremony, partly to spend more time on the beach, and largely in an effort to avoid the worst of the crowds.  Traffic was pretty intense on that end of the island, but it was worth it.

We’ve never spent much time on that end of the island.  There are some bird sanctuary areas where dogs aren’t allowed.  The dogs always vacation to Folly Beach with us, so we typically spend most of our time on the other end of the island.  It was nice to finally go to the other end of the island, and seeing the lighthouse lit up may well be a once in a lifetime experience.  We were both really happy that our trip happened to coincide with the lighting.

I took a lot of pictures, but most of them didn’t come out.  Obviously, it was really dark at that end of the island.  There were also signs warning of rocks and currents, so Nick was super paranoid about me getting too close to the water for the sake of pictures.

Even though my pictures are nothing amazing, the experience definitely was.  There are records dating back to 1673 showing some sort of light there, and the current (third) lighthouse has been there for 140 years.  It was like a little piece of history coming to life.  There are some better pictures on the Save The Light website, as well as some more history about the lighthouse.  I encourage you to check it out.  It’s a quick read, and I think it’s fascinating.

Happy National Lighthouse Day!  A day late, but we’ve made it almost halfway through the workweek.  The weekend is shining like a beacon of hope.  Kind of like a lighthouse.

Friday, August 4, 2017

It’s Not As Bad As It Sounds

Do you ever have moments that make you realize that if a stranger overheard your conversations, or read your emails or text messages that the best you could hope for would be for them to think that you’re some kind of lunatic?  Or that they would think you’re probably a truly horrible person?  Or does the autocorrect on your phone ever make it seem like you desperately need to rethink your life choices?

Maybe it’s just me, but I’ve realized recently that, taken out of context, some conversations and messages portray me in a very bad, or at least very bizarre, light.  I’ll give you a list, and then explain them a little later in the post.

1.  “I think our official position is that we are very Pro-Chuck.” My sister, Gabrielle, to me.

2.  “Thank you for locking up the kids.” Nick to me.

3.  “Do not eat the blueberry bagel.”  Text from a co-worker to the entire office.

4.  “They hate you.  You’re the keeper of the hell hounds.”  Gabrielle to me.

5.  “What, you can’t live without us for two minutes?”  Me to my boss.

6.  “Don’t forget to put the boiling acid on the dogs.” Me to Nick.

7.  And the autocorrect one: When we went on vacation in March Nick’s mom stayed at our house and took care of the pets.  I sent her a few texts on the way home telling her how smoothly trafficking was going.

So at this point I’m pretty sure my sister sounds maybe a little bit insane.  Nick and I sound like animal and child abusers, and it sounds like I used to work with a bunch of bagel thieves, but probably got fired for smarting off to the boss, and have pursued trafficking as a new career choice.

Here are the perfectly innocent explanations:

1.  My dad has a friend, Chuck, who we haven’t met yet.  My mom wanted to invite Chuck along on a weekend visit to Gabrielle’s house.  Gabrielle suggested holding off until we meet him when it won’t involve spending an entire weekend with a stranger.  She thinks we’ll like him, and it sounds like he’s a good friend to my dad.

2.  We do not have children, at least not the human kind.  We typically refer to the pets as the kids.  We recently had some work done on the house, and I put the dogs in one bedroom and the cats in the other bedroom to keep them out of harm’s way.  I sent Nick an email telling him, and that was his response.

3.  We don’t steal food in my office.  It’s actually the best place I’ve ever worked as far as lunches, etc not disappearing from the fridge.  One of my co-workers had picked up bagels, mostly for our office, but a few for people in other departments.  Some were a random assortment up for grabs, but the blueberry one was a special request from someone in another department.

4.  Gabrielle has six cats, who aren’t used to dogs.  We almost always take the dogs with us when we go stay with her, so we don’t usually see much of the cats while we’re there.  She says the cats think of them as the hell hounds.  I spent a weekend with her a few months ago, but left the dogs home with Nick.  I still didn’t see much of the cats.  Apparently they think I always come with “hell hounds”.

5.  For the most part, we’re fairly relaxed in my office.  We’re also a two county/two office operation.  The boss’s main office is in the other office.  That particular day he had been in the office I’m in, and called less than two minutes after he left.  He was still in the parking lot, and thought my comment about not being able to live without us was amusing.

6.  Duke and Chuzoo are on Revolution for their monthly flea and heartworm prevention.  If you’re not familiar, it’s topical and is applied between their shoulder blades.  It doesn’t hurt, burn, or sting your skin.  Believe me, I’ve gotten enough of it on myself over the years to be able to say that from a place of experience.  Duke is pretty good about it.  Chuzoo is not.  He carries on like we’re torturing him.  We’ve started referring to it as the boiling acid because of the way he carries on.  I didn’t really have a good picture to go with this post, so I’m including one of Duke and Chuzoo, just to show that they’re fine.  I also think they look cute in it, and you can’t really go wrong with a cute dog picture.

7.  Autocorrect.  Isn’t it fun?  I blame some of the more horrible ones on work.  My phone takes “traf” and turns it into “trafficking”.  Every single time.  Most of the time I catch it and change it, but I was in a hurry trying to text Nick’s mom on the way home.  Fortunately, she knows where I work, and we get along well.

So what about you?  Were you ready to break out the pitchforks when you read through my list? Have you taken part in any conversations that could have sounded pretty awful to a casual observer?

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Thrifty Thursday - The Kale Substitution Edition

One of the easiest ways to save money is to simply not buy things.  It seems like a no-brainer, really, but it can be hard at times.  We live close to a few different grocery stores, and I love grocery shopping.  That’s a good thing when it comes to shopping the sales, but not always a good thing when it comes to not buying things we don’t really need.  It’s so easy just to make a quick trip to the store for that one thing, and of course that always turns into buying several things.

We’re growing kale in our garden for the first time this year, and it is thriving.  I think it must be about the easiest food to grow because we have been inundated with kale.  I’m not complaining, but I really didn’t expect so much kale.  At this point I’m pretty much considering all of the kale that gets picked to be free.  I feel like we’ve already more than recouped our investment of seeds and soil.  I’ve also been trying to find new ways to use kale.

Last weekend I decided to make Spinach Alfredo for dinner.  I don’t follow an exact recipe; it’s usually something I make when I realize we have milk and/or cream that needs to be used up.  We didn’t have spinach, so I decided to substitute kale for the spinach.  I tore the kale into very small pieces, and then cooked everything exactly the way I would have with spinach.

It was delicious!  Kale Alfredo doesn’t have quite the same ring to it as Spinach Alfredo, but I thought it was every bit as good.  Nick said he prefers it with the kale.  It’s definitely going to be a repeat for us since we have an almost unlimited supply of kale right now, and even when the garden is finished for the year, kale is typically cheaper in the stores than spinach.

I know it’s a really, really small thing, but I see it as a step in the right direction.

So what about you?  Have you made any thrifty recipe substitutions lately?  Would you try Kale Alfredo?

Monday, July 31, 2017

Blueberry & Almond Yogurt Parfait

The local grocery stores have had great sales on fresh blueberries for the past few weeks.  Really, really good sales on deliciously perfect blueberries.  Eating them fresh and by the handful is always an option, but sometimes it’s nice to come up with different ways to use them.

This yogurt parfait is incredibly simple, easy to make ahead of time for a quick weekday breakfast, and it’s delicious.

Blueberry & Almond Yogurt Parfait:


1 cup vanilla yogurt
½ cup washed blueberries, divided
1 Tbsp sliced almonds, toasted*

Spread 1/4 cup of the blueberries in the bottom of a bowl.  Layer the yogurt on top.  Top with remaining 1/4 cup blueberries.  Sprinkle with almonds.  Enjoy!

If you’re making this the night before, just don’t add the almonds so they don’t get soggy.  Cover and refrigerate after the final layer of blueberries.

*To toast the almonds:
Preheat a small non-stick skillet over medium heat.  Add almonds, stirring constantly, for 2 - 4 minutes, just until they barely begin to darken.  It takes about two seconds for the almonds to go from not quite toasted to burnt to a crisp.  You don’t want to step, or look, away from them.