Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Cherry Crunch

This is a very simple recipe that’s great for Christmas time when you’re doing lots of cooking and baking.  Actually, it’s pretty nice to have any time during the year, but I always make a lot of it in December.  Sometimes you just need something relatively easy.  As a nice little bonus, pretty much all of the ingredients seem to be on sale this time of year, so it’s pretty budget friendly.

Now, don’t get me wrong, this isn’t just a dessert to make just because you want something easy, or don’t want to buy a lot of expensive ingredients.  It’s delicious!  Everyone who has ever had it raves about it, and most people ask for the recipe.  I took one to my chiropractor’s office today, and they were very happy with it. 

Cherry Crunch:

2 cans cherry pie filling
1 box yellow cake mix
½ cup sugar
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, melted

Spread pie filling in the bottom of a 9x13 pan. 

Melt butter in a large glass bowl (about 30 - 60 seconds, depending on your microwave).  Combine cake mix, sugar, pecans, and melted butter.  The consistency will be a little like cookie dough.  Drop and spread over the cherries.  It’s okay if there are a few gaps, it will spread out a little when you bake it. 

Bake at 350 for 50 - 60 minutes, until golden brown. 


I think it’s best served warm.  Nick thinks it’s best at room temperature.  We both agree that a little vanilla ice cream on top makes it out of this world good.  And of course we agree that this time of year it’s also great served with Christmas music.  On that note, I’ll leave you with Barenaked Ladies and Sara McLachlan’s God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen. 

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Kitten Ornament

I may have spoken too soon in my last post when I said that Caroline was being good about not bothering the Christmas tree. 

It’s her first Christmas, and she’s quickly discovering all the joys of the season.  Yesterday it was pulling ornaments off the lower branches.  Today it has been the joys of climbing the tree.  At least she makes an adorable ornament. 

I’ll leave you with Brenda Lee’s Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree, though Caroline says that climbing the Christmas tree is more fun

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Transition From Thanksgiving To Christmas

Time always seem to fly, but the weeks from Thanksgiving to New Year’s seem to go especially fast.  I think it has something to do with moving so quickly from Thanksgiving to Christmas.

It’s beginning to look like Christmas here.  We’ve put the tree up.  On a side note, Caroline has been surprisingly good about not destroying it.  I’m just hoping she continues the good behavior.
We’ve also put up a few Christmas lights.  We don’t normally put any up because we don’t have outlets outside, but our neighbors put lights inside their living room windows, and it looks really nice.  Our houses have the same basic plan, so we copied their idea.  The fall wreaths are still up.  I need to find some replacement pieces for one of our Christmas wreaths, so those haven’t gone up yet.  Hopefully this weekend.

Thanksgiving was wonderful.  It was the second time in the ten years that Nick and I have been together that he didn’t have to work, and it was so nice to have him home.  We were able to go together to take te dinner to the hospice house, which was a nice experience.

I took off the Wednesday before, and baked pretty much all day.  Howard and Caroline had a vet appointment in the morning, but other than that my day was spent baking.  I made three pumpkin pies, thirty chocolate cupcakes, cherry crunch, blueberry crunch (taken to the vet’s office for a pre-Thanksgiving dessert), and two apple cakes.

I also got started on making sweet potatoes and mashed potatoes in an effort to help things go smoothly on Thanksgiving Day. Nick peeled all of the potatoes (a little over 15 pounds between home and hospice) and basically handled keeping the dishwasher emptied so we could mostly clean as I cooked.

One of my coworkers made four pies (two pumpkin, a blueberry, and a cherry) for the hospice Thanksgiving, and dropped them off with us on Thanksgiving morning.  I made an apple cake and chocolate cupcakes to add some more variety.  The dinner menu consisted of turkey, gravy, dressing, mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole, macaroni and cheese, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce, and rolls.  Unfortunately, I got a little behind and didn’t get the ham done in time to take there.  I felt a little bad about that, but I think there was probably still plenty of food.
We took everything in disposable pans, and brought disposable plates and cutlery.  Our goal was easy cleanup for them.

The people at the hospice house were incredibly nice.  A few of the nurses hugged us, and some of the family members were filling plates and saying the food looked and smelled good when we left.  They made me cry.  I didn’t cry until we got outside, but they get me every time.  If you’ve been there, you know what it’s like.  Hospice is an incredible organization, but it’s just still heartbreaking to be there.  A turkey dinner is a very small thing for someone going through that.  It was nice to have Nick with me this time, and he’s pretty good at dealing with the fact that I cry pretty much anytime I go there.  At least it was mostly a good cry this time.

We came home from the hospice house, ate a quick lunch, and got to work on the Thanksgiving preparations for our dinner that evening.  Our menu was essentially the same as what we took, with the addition of ham.  For desserts we had two pumpkin pies, apple cake, chocolate cupcakes, and a cherry crunch.

We invited a few friends and neighbors over, and gave people the option of just coming for dessert.  Our neighbors and a friend came.  We didn’t have many guests as we were expecting due to illness and changes in plans, but we had a wonderful time with the people who were able to come.

Our neighbors brought us the adorable Thanksgiving decoration in the picture.  I just love it.  Pretty much every available surface in our kitchen, dining area, the chest freezer, and washing machine were covered in food and drinks.  No one left hungry.

We go for very informal, so basically we all sat around talking, eating, and making silly videos with the kids for hours.  It was wonderful.  We sent leftovers home with everyone and still barely managed to fit everything in the fridge.

You can probably guess that I didn’t do much of anything on Friday.  We ate leftovers, watched Miracle on 34th Street, and did a little online shopping.  It was nice to have the lazy day after all of the activity the day before.  We put the Christmas tree up on Saturday, and went to Lowe’s for Christmas lights.

Our Christmas shopping is mostly finished, but I haven’t wrapped anything yet.  This year Nick and I decided not to buy anything for each other for our birthdays or Christmas.  Instead, we’re planning to take a trip to somewhere warm during the winter, after the holidays.  This is the first year we’re trying it, so we’ll see how it goes.  I think it will be good.  I love the idea of a warm weather getaway during one of the dreary, cold weeks.  And our house is fairly small, so not accumulating more stuff is always a good thing.

So what about you?  How was your Thanksgiving?   Does it look like Christmas at your house?

I’ll leave you with Bing Crosby’s It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas.

Monday, November 20, 2017

A Catch Up Post

Somehow it has been over two months since I’ve posted anything.  As usual, I’m not sure where the time has gone.  I think it has mostly been spent on normal, day to day things.

We participated in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s on September 30th.  Normally we choose a walk within about an hour of us that coincides with a weekend Nick has off, but this time we were able to join a walk close to home, which was nice.  We decided to bring the dogs since it was close to home, and in a dog friendly location.  We dressed them up with purple bandanas, and brought them along.  They seemed to have a good time, and behaved reasonably well. 

Duke always gets a lot of attention because of the missing leg.  He loves people, and is always happy to make new friends, so it works out well.  People are usually surprised by how well he gets around, and a lot of people were very impressed to see a three legged dog out walking to help find a cure for Alzheimer’s.  It was one of those days that kind of helps to restore your faith in humanity.  We live in a small town, but the turnout for the walk was good, and it exceeded the fund-raising goal.  Random strangers kept asking if Duke and Chuzoo needed water (we had water for them, but I thought it was nice that people asked), and some of the coordinators asked if Duke needed a ride back to the parking lot.  He was fine (I promise he really does get around perfectly fine), but it was very nice of them to offer that.   

I do have one very exciting (at least for us) piece of new to share, though.

Nick is finally on a normal schedule!  If you’ve been around for a while, you may remember that he works in a branch of the emergency services.  That meant that he had a pretty varied work schedule, with alternating nights and days, lots of weekends, and most holidays.  He has now moved to new position within another division, and works straight week days, with holidays and most weekends off.  It coincides almost perfectly with my work schedule.  He goes in and gets off an hour before I do, but we have the same holidays off, and we’re both off on the weekends now.  I had my doubts about it happening when his transfer date kept getting pushed back, but it finally happened at the beginning of October, and it has been wonderful. 

We’ve been together for ten years, and this is the first time we’ve ever had the same work schedule.  Mine has always been straight Monday through Friday, so that meant we really didn’t see much of each other most of the time. 

We made plans for pretty much every night for the first week or so that he was on the new schedule, but that really wasn’t sustainable.  We’ve mostly worked out our new normal.  It’s nice that it’s not such an ordeal to schedule things now, and we’ve finally knocked out a few projects that have been on the to do list for much longer than I care to admit.  Some things around the house just take both members of the household.  It’s such a simple thing, but being able to do those things, and eat dinner together has been a big deal for us.

One of the best things about Nick’s new schedule, though, is that he has the holidays off now.  I am so excited about Thanksgiving this year!  It will be the second one that Nick has had off in the ten years we’ve been together.   We talked about it, and didn’t want to stop taking Thanksgiving Dinner to the hospice house here, so we are still doing that.  We’re taking the meal there for lunch, and then are having our own Thanksgiving celebration at home that evening.  We’ve invited various friends and neighbors.  It won’t be a big crowd, but we’re excited to finally be able to host Thanksgiving on Thanksgiving. 

There are a few people who have other plans during the day, but are planning to come for dessert since ours is later in the day.  It seems like a great way to see more people, and I have an excuse to make more desserts that way. 

I spoke to the volunteer coordinator at the hospice house today, and she was incredibly nice.  They’re all set for us to show up with the food, and as usual, have been just wonderful to deal with.

One of my coworkers volunteered to make the pies for the hospice house.  Kim’s pies are much prettier than mine, so I’m sure they’ll be appreciated.  She’s making two pumpkin, an apple, and a cherry pie.  I’m making chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter icing and an apple cake with browned butter icing to round out the desserts. 

The dinner menu is turkey, gravy, dressing, sweet potato casserole, mashed potatoes, ham, green bean casserole, macaroni and cheese, cranberry sauce, and rolls.  The hospice house didn’t offer much feedback as to anything they’d like done differently this year, so I’m sticking to mostly the same menu and portions as last year. 

The dinner menu at home will be the same.  For desserts at home there will be pumpkin pie, apple cake with browned butter icing, chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter icing, a fruit cobbler (I’m still trying to decide between apple and cherry) and maybe a pound cake. 

I’m excited.  I love Thanksgiving, and I love cooking for people, so I’m pretty happy with the way things have worked out. 

I had a brief moment of feeling creative, and wanted to decorate a little bit for Thanksgiving, so I decided to put together some fall wreaths for the doors.  I am normally not an arts and crafts person, at all, but it’s really hard to find fall decorations that aren’t ridiculously expensive.  So I decided to give it a try.  I think they came out reasonably well, especially considering the fact that I had no idea what I was doing.  That’s probably it for my attempts at creativity outside of the kitchen for a while, but I am choosing to call it a success. 

So how have the past couple of months been for you?  What are your plans for Thanksgiving?

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Meet Caroline

We’ve added a new fur baby to our family.  Meet Caroline. She’s about 16 weeks old, weighed in at just over four pounds at today’s checkup, and is full of energy.  She’s also incredibly sweet and playful.

You may remember that I said we weren’t looking to foster or adopt for a while after losing so many pets in a relatively short time.  We didn’t have a set time frame in mind, and we weren’t actively looking.  Sometimes fate (or in this case, my sister’s elderly neighbor) just decides to drop a kitten in your life (or on your sister’s porch a few hours before you’re supposed to arrive).

We went to spend the weekend with my sister, Gabrielle, three weeks ago.  The visit had been planned for months, for my parents to come, and for Nick and I to come.  Gabrielle calls me a lot, so I didn’t think much of it when she called me right before I left work.  Until she started in on a tirade about someone dropping off a kitten on her porch.  She’s a total cat person, but she works nights, and had just gotten up.  She also has six cats, five of whom arrived on her porch as kittens in her old neighborhood, in various states of ill heath.  Her current neighborhood doesn’t seem to have such a high population of homeless cats, so she thought her days of rescuing kittens on her way out the door were over.

I suggested that she ask her next door neighbor, a very nice elderly lady who seems to know all of the goings on of the neighborhood, if she knew anything about the kitten’s arrival.  And I started thinking about how fun it might be to have a kitten again.

It turned out that the kitten had been wandering the neighborhood for a couple of days.  Gabrielle’s next door neighbor, and a neighbor across the street had seen her and decided that she needed to be taken somewhere safe.  Neither of them are cat people, so they weren’t sure of the logistics of rescuing a kitten, but felt certain that Gabrielle would know.  They put the kitten on her porch, with the intention of calling her later in the day, after the time she usually gets up.  She just happened to get up earlier that day since we were all coming to stay that evening.

We had already made plans to go with Gabrielle to take two of her cats to the vet while we were there, so she just called and added an appointment for the kitten.  We knew at that point that one of us would be keeping the kitten.

After we arrived and met the kitten we decided that we would keep her.  Nick came up with the name Caroline, which I loved.  I had originally suggested Olivia, which Nick liked as well.  We ended up drawing for her name, since we both liked both names.  Our next girl will be Olivia.  Fortunately, we tend to agree on girl’s names.  Boy’s names are an entirely different story.  It took us two days to name Frankie, and I’m pretty sure it’s the only boy’s name we will ever agree on.

Caroline is settling in well.  It has been a while since we’ve had a kitten; Frankie was our last kitten (other than some short term fosters), and he’s nine.  We had forgotten how playful and energetic they are!  Caroline is interested in everything, and constantly wants to play and explore.  She’s very affectionate, and loves to cuddle when she’s not busy exploring.  We haven’t allowed Caroline to interact with the dogs yet, just because she’s so tiny.  Duke and Chuzoo are both great with cats, having spent their lives with cats, but Duke is over 90 pounds.  We just want Caroline to be a little bigger before she starts playing with the dogs.  The older cats are adjusting to having a kitten in the house.  It’s kind of fun to watch them act all offended when she does things that they did as kittens.

So even though we weren’t actively looking to add another kitty to the family, it only took us a few months.  It feels right, though.  Caroline seems happy with us, and she definitely makes us happy.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Helping Doesn’t Have To Be Overwhelming

First of all, let me just go ahead and say that I realize the pictures have pretty much nothing to do with this post.  I think Howard and Frankie look adorable in them, and I’m tired of almost crying every time I see pictures of wet, pitiful pets.  I thought we could all use a break from that.  Now, on to the actual post.

I think it’s safe to say that everyone has seen far more videos and photos of destruction and loss from Hurricane Harvey than any of us ever wanted to. That level of devastation is hard to fathom.   It seems to fair to say that most of us want to help, but some of us aren’t sure how, or if what we do will even make a difference.  Add reports of scams and charities that aren’t all we’d like to hope they are, and knowing how to help becomes even more difficult.

It doesn’t have to be.  I am by no means an expert, but I do seem to know a lot of really smart people who are really good at helping others.  Here are some of the ways I’ve seen people helping that seem like good ideas to me:

Start with Charity Navigator.  I love this site.  If you’re not familiar, they rate charities on their practices and how they spend their money.  It’s an excellent resource in determining who to donate to.  Most of us have a finite amount of money, and don’t want to turn it over to just anyone.  There’s a special section right now for Hurricane Harvey relief, so you can make sure your funds are put to the best use possible.

Donate supplies through your employer if they’re doing a collection.  One of the court security officers started a collection of supplies from the courthouse, detention center, and Sheriff’s Office in our county to be delivered to Hearts With Hands, as well as supplies to be delivered directly to the Houston Police Department from the Sheriff’s Office.  She handed out a list of items needed to all of the offices in the three buildings and designated a collection point in each building.

I thought this was a particularly good idea.  I’ve read that donating supplies can be tricky because of the logistics of getting them to the people who need them, but by delivering them to a charity who can coordinate delivery and distribution, that problem is solved.  Being given a long list to work with makes it easy for everyone to get involved.  It’s easy to add one or two things from the list to your weekly grocery shopping and take them into work the next day.  For those of us who coupon and sale shop, we already had some of the items requested on hand.  This gave us a way to share them.

Choose what matters most to you to help with.  Unfortunately, we can’t all give money and supplies to every worthy organization helping with relief efforts.  I think a good way to decide is to help a cause that you’re passionate about.  For us that typically means animal rescues and first responders. For Nick’s mom and step-dad, it has been animal shelters and a program to replace school books.  A coworker of mine chose to send an Amazon order of diapers to one of the diaper banks.  We’re all different, and we all have different needs, passions, and ideas.  Think about what you might want or need the most if you were in that situation.

Don’t hesitate to step up and organize something if you see a way to fill a need.  Someone had to get the collections started at work, and I think we’re all grateful to the officer who did.  It’s surprisingly easy to coordinate a group effort.  I saw a post on Chewy.com’s Facebook wall from a volunteer at the San Antonio Humane Society asking if they could donate kitten milk replacer, puppy milk replacer, canned kitten food, and canned puppy food.  That seemed like something I  could coordinate, being no stranger to ordering pet supplies online.  I posted on Facebook asking if anyone wanted to contribute to sending them a box.  Nick’s mom got involved as well, and within 24 hours we raised over $220.00 for the supplies they had asked for.  There’s now a box with needed items on the way to them.  It’s a small thing in the grand scheme of what’s needed, but I’m telling you about it just to show you that it’s not difficult to pick something you care about, and coordinate an effort to help.

Consider donating closer to home to help with relief efforts.  Is your state, county, or city sending a swift water rescue team, or other volunteers to help?  Consider making a donation to them to help with those costs, or to use as they see fit in the affected areas.  Contact some of your local emergency response agencies to see if they’re collecting supplies to send to similar agencies in affected areas.

Don’t underestimate the value of doing one relatively small thing.  It’s so easy to feel like what we’re able to do won’t be enough to make a difference in such a huge disaster.  Everything counts, though.  I think that’s the beauty of so many people helping one another.  Don’t feel like your monetary donation doesn’t matter because it’s not a huge amount, or your supplies aren’t enough to bother with.  If you what you’re able to give is one dollar, or one package to a bin for supplies, then do it.  None of us can do everything, but most of us can do something.

So what about you?  Have you discovered any ways to help that are especially meaningful to you? Are you aware of a particular need of a particular organization?  Please feel free to share your ideas in the comments for any of us still looking for a way to help.

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.


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.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Thrifty Thursday - The Realization That Something Needs To Change

We’ve recently decided to get serious about paying off debt and saving money.  A combination of things lead to this decision:

We’ve realized that we’re not in a position that allows either one us to take a job with much of a salary decrease.  Even if it’s a job that’s otherwise perfect, it just wouldn’t be feasible.  That severely limits options, and it’s not a good feeling.  Reducing debt would change that.  Even if it’s not something that we would opt to do, just the idea of being able to is empowering.

Without sharing stories that aren’t mine to share, we’ve had front row seats to what happens when you neglect retirement planning and saving.  It isn’t pretty.  And it’s definitely not a situation we want to find ourselves in thirty years from now.  We all know that time flies, so it makes sense to plan and save now.

And the more fun motivation is that we’ve realized we want to travel.  It’s something we’ve talked about, but only in vague terms along the lines of “wouldn’t that be fun/interesting/exciting”, but nothing beyond that.  Neither one of us have ever really been outside the south, and while we’re happy here, there are so many other places to see.

We recently spent an evening with some older friends, and they told us about their trip to Italy a few years ago.  It inspired us.  There’s a whole big world out there, and we’d like to see more than our tiny piece of it.  It’s not something that’s going to happen this year, or next, but we’ve set a major trip by the time we’re 40 as our goal.  We have yet to define exactly what “a major trip” means for us.  NYC?  Europe?  Alaska?  Some sort of cruise?   But we do know that it’s something we’ll have to save up for.  We’ll both be thirty-five by the end of the year, so we’re working on a five year plan.  It seems doable.  You have to have goals, right?

Long term goals seem to be harder sometimes.  Small steps can seem insignificant or pointless.  It’s so easy to get distracted or discouraged.  It can be hard to decide where to start.  Accountability helps.  At least it helps me.  So I’ve designated Thursday as Thrifty Thursday.  Every week I’ll share something that we’re doing to save, plug up the holes in the budget, or somehow reduce debt.

So what about you?  What are your long term goals?

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Dog Shaming - The Lasagna Edition

By now I’m sure just about everyone is familiar with dog shaming, where you take a picture of your dog wearing or holding a sign stating their misdeed(s).  Sometimes the pictures are taken in the wreckage of whatever they’ve destroyed.  The pictures are usually hilarious, especially when it’s not your house, dinner, car, etc.

Honestly, even when it is your dog, and your lasagna, the pictures are kind of fun.  After all, you’re (hopefully) not getting the lasagna back.  And there’s no point crying over stolen lasagna, so you might as well laugh, and get a cute pet picture out of it.

I don’t think Duke ever really feels any shame when he steals.  He seems to be more of the “I regret nothing, and it was delicious!” school of thought.  At least he’s cute.

This particular incident was a few months ago.  Lasagna is a big deal at our house.  I don’t make it very often.  It’s fairly time consuming, and it makes so much that we usually only have it when someone is coming over.  It’s also one of those foods that always seem to taste even better the next day, so leftover lasagna is highly anticipated.  We had well over two thirds of the pan left, so we wrapped it up with aluminum foil and left it sitting on the stove, and went outside for about two minutes to wave goodbye to our friend.

When we came back inside, Duke had his face firmly planted in the pan, and was just finishing the last few bites.  I have no idea how he managed to eat that much that lasagna that fast, but he did.  Fortunately, he didn’t get sick from it, and we’ve learned that you never leave lasagna unattended for even a moment.

So what about you?  Do you take dog shaming pictures when your dog is bad?  Have you lost anything tasty to a fur kid lately?

Monday, July 17, 2017

Has It Really Been Three Months?

I meant to write a blog post long before now.  I knew it had been a while, but I didn’t realize it had been over three months until I looked at the date on my last post.  Obviously I dropped out of the April A to Z Challenge. And then didn’t post for three months.  Time flies, right?

Life got a little busy, between pets, work, home, and yard stuff.  I think our biggest news is that we had to say goodbye to our cat Joey in May.  We had been battling various health issues with him for a while, and we had said we would keep on as long as he had a good quality of life.

He started losing weight, and stopped responding well to the medications he was on.  Our vet did a few non-invasive tests to confirm her suspicions of an intestinal tumor, and once that was confirmed we knew it was time to let him go.  Our vet was wonderful about helping us make the decision.

Joey was always a people cat.  He loved people, and other than demanding attention was very laid back.  Almost everyone who has ever been to our house has spent hours holding Joey.  He liked (and often demanded by tripping or clawing you) to be held like a baby.  He was very popular at the vet’s office because of his personality.

Once we talked to the vet about the results of Joey’s tests and made the decision to let him go peacefully rather than putting him through anything else, all of the vet techs came in to tell him bye, and what a good, sweet boy he had always been.  Even the vet cried when it was over, and she came to take him away.  She kept apologizing for crying, and saying she wasn’t being very professional.  Honestly, it made us love her even more.  When your vet cries with you over losing your cat, you know they’re invested in their care, and have done everything possible for them.

We’re finding our new normal now that we’re down to just three cats, and the two dogs.  We’ve decided to wait a little while before we add another fur kid to our family.  We aren’t actively looking to foster or adopt at the moment.  We lost three pets last year, one this year, and have been dealing with at least one pet having extensive (and expensive!) medical issues for a few years now.  For the moment, everyone is reasonably healthy.  We’ve decided to take some time to savor that.

We don’t have a certain time frame in mind as to when we’ll start looking to add another furry family member, but I know it will happen.  Knowing us, it will happen sooner rather than later, but we both think we need the break right now.

Other than that we’ve just been keeping busy with ordinary day to day things.  The garden is doing reasonably well this year.  We’ve almost completely finished reinforcing the fence, and Duke has been staying in the yard.

So what about you?  How have the last three months been?  Anything fun or exciting going on this summer?

Saturday, April 8, 2017


Jeanie, at The Marmelade Gypsy recently became a new grandparent, and wrote a nice post on being a grandparent.  It made me think of my grandparents, and the different types of grandparents there are. So I decided that my G post for the A to Z Blogging Challenge would be Grandparents.

I had the good fortune to start off with more than the usual number of grandparents.  My mom’s parents were divorced and both remarried.  I was also the first grandchild on both sides of the family. That’s kind of like winning the lottery when it comes to being spoiled by grandparents.  They were all different, and I had a very different relationship with each of them.

My mom’s dad and step-mom died in a car accident when I was six, so I have only early childhood memories of them.  For them, being grandparents was a calling, an occupation, and a hobby all rolled into one.  He had missed out on most of my mom’s childhood due to the divorce, and was determined to be there for everything when my sister and I came along.  She adored children, but was never able to have her own, so my mom, and then later my sister and I presented her chance.

They were the kind of grandparents who snuck us cookies after bedtime, and let us do pretty much whatever we wanted.  They played house, dolls, dress-up, pretty much anything we wanted, with us.

They did things like let me drink juice out of a coffee mug and stir it with a spoon because I loved the sound it made.  Even today, there’s something soothing to me about the sound of a spoon clinking against a mug.

They packed a lot of grandparenting into six years.  I honestly don’t know if I would have such vivid memories of them otherwise.

My mom’s mom, Granny, embraced grandparenting with equal fervor.

My mom has always hated gum, and would never allow us to have it when we were kids, so Granny kept us well supplied with gum.  She would send us huge boxes of gum, with every flavor imaginable.  Mom would make us go outside to chew it, but that was fine with us.

Granny wrote the best letters, and she wrote often.  I loved writing letters as a child, and wrote them on a near daily basis for a while.  She always wrote me back.

She loved shopping, and could always sense a good sale.  She taught me how to bargain shop, and the wisdom of stocking up on things when they’re on sale.

She made the best pumpkin pie.  I have her handwritten recipe for it, and it was her contribution to our wedding cookbook.

My dad’s parents, known as Mama Kitty and Dad Dog, lived a little further way, so we didn’t see them as much when we were kids, but they still whole-heartedly embraced being grandparents.

They came to stay with my sister and me during our other grandparents’ funeral.  My parents made the decision for us not to go, and I don’t think there was anyone else we would have willingly stayed with.

He taught me how to ride my bike.  It didn’t go well at all when my parents tried, but Dad Dog’s method was successful.  He went with me for show and tell when I was in kindergarten (no one else had a Dad Dog, so he was a big hit).

He took me out driving when I had my learner’s permit and taught me not to be so terrified of getting in an accident.

Mama Kitty has always been more of a homebody, so she was largely the one who taught me how to cook, and taught me nearly everything I know about baking.  We always cooked and baked together.  Lasagna, shrimp scampi, biscuits and gravy, cake.  Whatever it was, it was always delicious.

She’s the avid reader in the family, and passed on a love of reading and books.  She’s the person who convinced me that the worn, well-read books are the best when you’re at book sales or thrift stores, because they’re clearly the ones people have read and loved.

I think all of my grandparents helped shape the person (the good and the bad parts) that I am today.  I learned different things from all of them, and was able to have a unique relationship with each of them.  I realize that I was very fortunate to have that.

So what about you?  What were/are your grandparents like?  If you’re a grandparent, what are you like?

Friday, April 7, 2017

Facebook - The Status That’s Becoming More and More Tempting to Post

Let me start off by admitting that I’m kind of addicted to Facebook.  I spend much more time on it than I should.  I post tons of pictures of the fur kids, the garden when things are blooming, and some food pictures.  It’s a great way to keep up with people I don’t see regularly.  And I’m a sucker for cat videos.

It seems like periodically, though, there’s a rash of people using Facebook as a way to sell (or harass you to buy) whatever home based or direct sales product they’ re selling at the moment.  Some of them border on stalker behavior trying to get you to try their product, buy their product, or have a “party” to sell their product to your friends.  Lately, the trend seems to be to add you to a group or an event about it.  It fills up your news feed, and you constantly get notifications about it.  It’s annoying.

I first had the idea for this a few months ago when the “Make Facebook Fun Again” photo went around in response to people’s behavior on Facebook concerning politics and other controversial topics.  I liked it.  I thought it was a fairly lighthearted way to make a very valid point.

I have no artistic abilities, so I just wrote something out with markers.  I haven’t posted it on my Facebook page, but it’s becoming more and more tempting.  Unfortunately, everything here has been something that has been an ongoing issue.

The leggings: For some reason, I took an instant and intense dislike to these.  They remind me of the stirrup pants craze of the late 80s/early 90s.  As a child, I took an instant and intense dislike to those.  As a kid I was more of a jeans and button down kind of girl.  Today I’m more of a Worthington pants and top or sweater for work, and jeans and t-shirt or sweater for time off kind of person.  Leggings just don’t do it for me.

The habit with them seems to be for people to add you to groups and events for them.  You then get tons of notifications and reminders.  Sometimes there’s a blurb about why the person selling them needs your support.  I just don’t think that’s appropriate.  If you’re trying to sell me something, at least focus on why I need the product, not on why you need the money from selling me the product.

The miracle weight loss programs: This has probably been the most egregious one.  The worst person by far, is a former co-worker, who started messaging me every single time I got on Faceook about trying it.  EVERY.  SINGLE.  TIME.  Early in the morning, late at night, it didn’t matter.  Every time I logged into Facebook, she was there on Chat, telling me how her program would transform my life, make me skinny, and make me a millionaire so I could quit my day job.
I finally told her that I didn’t try weight loss products that are soy based, or that have any soy at all, so if hers did, I couldn’t try them.  Most of them do, so I thought that would get her to leave me alone.  I have to avoid soy for medical reasons.  I have benign tumors that are estrogen fed.  Because soy mimics estrogen, I have to avoid it.  It can cause the tumors to grow, which increases the chances of them rupturing and causing internal bleeding.  To put it bluntly, and dramatically, consuming large quantities of soy could actually kill me.

You might think that would be enough to make someone back off, but you would be wrong.  She went on to tell me how their soy is different.  Okay, sure.  I’ll ignore what medical professionals have told me because you (with no medical training) think I should try this program.  I don’t think so.  I turned off Chat and stopped reading her messages.  She then added me to a group detailing people’s success stories.  It took me a while to figure out why every time I logged into Facebook I was inundated with pictures of half naked strangers.   I finally figured it out, removed myself from the group, and chose the option to prevent anyone from adding me back in.

The cosmetics and skin care: This seems to be the latest trend where the people selling them send you friend requests and messages because you’re friends with a friend of theirs, and they just know you’ll love what they’re selling.  Really?  You know my skin type and cosmetics preferences just based on my being friends with someone?  Do you also happen to know the winning lottery numbers in the next drawing?

The other trick is that they add you to groups to teach you how to apply cosmetics, take care of your skin, etc, once again filling up your news feed and sending you tons of notifications.  No thanks.  I’m 35.  I’ve been wearing makeup since I was 14.  I’ve figured out how to apply it over the two decades I’ve worn it.

The accessories: In my experience these are usually the most blatant appeals for money.  The sales pitches usually come with appeals along the lines of “I just need to sell X number of dollars worth per month to be a stay at home mom”.  Again, if you’re selling a product at least focus on why the potential buyer needs it rather than why you need to sell it.

I’m sorry, but I’m just not going to part with my hard-earned money for overpriced handbags, hair clips, nail polish, whatever the product of the moment is just because you want me to.  That’s not why I get up and go to work every morning.

Like I said, I haven’t posted this on my Facebook page, but it becomes more and more tempting every day.  I’m just not sure it would actually make a difference with some people.

So what about you?  Are you inundated with people trying to sell you things on Facebook?  Have you found a good way to convince people you’re not buying?

I realize this post was a little bit of a rant, and I promise that tomorrow’s post will be much more positive.  We all need a good rant every now and then, though.  So feel free to rant away in the comments.  I’m honestly kind of hoping I’m not the only one.  

Thursday, April 6, 2017


Lots of time sitting on I-26
Evacuations have never really been something I thought much about.  Sure, we have fire drills and the occasional bomb threat at work, and everyone has to leave the building.  And I was born in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, where there are sometimes mandatory evacuations for hurricanes, but we moved when I was four.  I have very vague memories of leaving once.  All I remember is that we went and stayed in a motel because of a storm.  I’m assuming we went inland because of a hurricane.

I grew up in the upstate of South Carolina, and now live in western North Carolina, so evacuations have never really been a part of my life.  Until last year.

Our vacation to Folly Beach last year coincided with Hurricane Matthew’s imminent arrival on the South Carolina coast.  We left a few hours ahead of the mandatory evacuation.  We found out on Tuesday evening that the mandatory evacuation would start late Wednesday afternoon, so made the decision to leave Wednesday morning.  We got in touch with the owner of the house, did what needed to be done to close the house up, packed up our things, and left for home.

The drive home took more than twice as long as it normally does.  Our average speed on the interstate was about 35 miles per hour.  We saw the National Guard convoys coming in, as well as the school buses from the upstate coming to bus people out.  We saw the east-bound (heading toward the coast) interstate being shut down so traffic could be reversed.

An example of how long it took to get anywhere
 It was bizarre to see all of that, but we talked about the fact that we were fortunate enough to be heading toward home. We had to end a vacation early.  We weren’t leaving behind our home and most of our possessions.  We didn’t have to wonder if our house would still be standing in a day or two. We counted ourselves fortunate that our experience with an evacuation was on vacation.

Then November came, and large parts of western North Carolina and the upstate of South Carolina burned for nearly the entire month.  We had several days of really bad smoke.  There was a mandatory evacuation for part of the county we live in.  We never had to leave our home, but it definitely put us in the frame of mind to plan, at least a little, for what we would do in the event of a mandatory evacuation.

Obviously, sometimes there’s no warning.  People simply have to leave as quickly as possible.  For the most part, with the fires near us, it seemed like people had at least a few hours, sometimes a day or two, before having to leave.  It made us wonder.  What do you take with you?  What do you choose to save when you have to leave your home, not knowing if it will be there when you get to come back?

Even Duke was ready to get home.
People and pets are obvious.  We did go out and buy another cat carrier.  We normally don’t take all of the cats anywhere at once, so have never had need for so many carriers.  When evacuation became a real possibility we thought it would be best to have as many carriers as we do cats.  Of course there’s medication for people and pets.  Clothing.  Important papers.  We decided that pictures wouldn’t make the list since all of ours are saved digitally, but both of our laptops would.  The mat that everyone signed (instead of a guest book) at our wedding.  A few Christmas ornaments that are particularly meaningful.  A few random things with a lot of sentimental value.  Beyond that, there really wouldn’t be much room in the cars.  

So what about you?  Have you ever had to leave your home as part of an evacuation?  What did/would you take with you in the event of an evacuation?

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Duke-Proofing The Fence

Duke is our three legged dog.  He came to us as a foster dog; heart worm positive, and with a bum leg.  I think everyone knew we would be adopting him, but we did foster him for a while before officially adopting him.

Today Duke is heart worm negative, and gets around quite well on his three legs.  Sometimes he gets around almost too well.

Duke has learned how to bust out of the fence in the back yard. (For those of you who are new, Duke isn’t an outside dog.  We have a fenced in backyard, and he goes out to potty, play, and steal vegetables from the garden every chance he gets.  We take him on walks.  He goes to work with me sometimes.  We take him on car rides, to the park, to the pet store for treats, etc.) We’ve discovered that he doesn’t go over the fence, but instead destroys the bottom of it, and goes under the fence.

We’ve been working on ways to Duke-proof the fence, and finally found some decorative fencing at Lowe’s that isn’t as expensive as the first kind we tried, and seems to be strong enough to keep Duke in the fence.

Basically, we just have to create some kind of barrier between Duke and the bottom of the fence. The decorative fencing seems to do that.  We’ve also relocated one of our raised beds for the garden to help reinforce the back corner of the fence.

We still have a long way to go (the yard always seems so much bigger whenever there’s a project going on), but we at least seem to have found a way to Duke-proof the fence.

So what about you?  Have you ever had to reinforce a fence to keep your dog in?  Does your yard always seem bigger when you have a project going on?

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Chicken & Black Bean Tacos

Tacos are one of the go to foods in our house.  We both love them, they’re relatively inexpensive, we can each customize them to our liking (I’m all about the toppings, while Nick is more of a purist), and they’re kind of a no-brainer to make most of the time.

Don’t get me wrong, I like trying new recipes, and I definitely enjoy challenging myself in the kitchen.  Sometimes, though, between work schedules that are sometimes opposite, pets who seem to go to the vet a lot, and all of the random things that come up in life, I just want something easy.  Or better yet, something that’s easy, and pretty much ready to eat when we get home.  These chicken and black bean tacos fit the bill.

You’ll need two separate slow cookers for this recipe.  It may seem a bit odd to own two, but I promise it’s worth it.  You just can’t beat the convenience of having dinner cooked when you come home.  If you’re busy, or deal with conflicting schedules, it can make the difference between a home cooked meal and fast food.  We bought our second small Crock Pot about seven years ago, and it has been well worth the cabinet space.

Any color bell pepper is great in this.  I like to use one color in the beans, and a different color in the chicken.

The chicken and black beans freeze and re-heat well, so depending on how many people you’re cooking for, you can easily freeze part of this and have a night of not having to cook later on. They’re also great as nachos.  

Chicken & Black Bean Tacos:

Black Beans:
1 bag (16 oz.) black beans, rinsed
1 onion, very finely diced
1 bell pepper, very finely diced
1 ½ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
1/3 to ½ cup fresh cilantro leaves (optional)
1 garlic clove, minced or pressed
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
4 ½ cups water

Combine all ingredients in slow cooker; stir; cover, and cook on Low for 6 – 7 hours.

2 - 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 package taco seasoning
1/4 to 1/3 cup fresh cilantro leaves (optional)
½ tsp chili powder
½ tsp cumin
¼ tsp pepper
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 ½ cups water

Place chicken breasts in slow cooker; place onion and pepper over chicken. Add taco seasoning and spices; add water, and stir together. Cover and cook on Low for 5 – 6 hours. Shred with fork and stir together in sauce.

Spoon chicken and beans into taco shells; top as desired with lettuce, cheese, onion, avocado, etc.


Monday, April 3, 2017

Banana Pound Cake

I first made this banana pound cake with my paternal grandmother.  I don’t remember the first time we made it, but we made it together for years.  I always assumed it was her recipe.  I made it a few years ago when my aunt and uncle came for dinner, and learned from my aunt that it’s actually her grandmother’s, my great grandmother’s (she of the sweet tea fame, so you know it’s good) recipe.  Apparently she was quite the baker.  I don’t remember any baked goods from her.  Her arthritis was pretty bad by the time I was a small child, so she didn’t do much cooking or baking.  If this cake is anything to go by, I really missed out!

This cake is incredibly delicious!  It has become a favorite among the security officers at work, and is one of the most requested cakes when I bake for people at Christmas.  My dad’s “subtle” way of asking for it is to inform me of how many sticks of butter they have when I visit them, or to count the sticks of butter we have when he visits us.

It’s not usually an issue because everyone loves this cake so much, but it doesn’t keep very well.  It only lasts for two or three days.  I live in the south, with a lot of humidity, so you may be able to store it for a day or two more if you live in a dryer climate. It’s a really moist cake, so it tends to get moldy really fast, especially if you slice it and store it in a plastic container.  Like I said, it usually gets eaten long before it has a chance to go bad, but it does limit the ability to make it ahead of time for an event.

Banana Pound Cake:

3 sticks (1.5 cups) butter (Not margarine, real butter!)
Additional butter for greasing the pan
2 cups sugar
Additional sugar for coating the pan
4 large eggs
2 cups mashed very ripe bananas (usually somewhere between 3 and 6 bananas, depending on the size)
1/4 cup & 2 Tbsp buttermilk
1 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups all purpose flour
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
½ cup chopped pecans

Generously butter and sugar a bundt pan. You want every little crevice well coated in butter, or the cake isn’t going to come out of the pan nicely.

Beat butter at medium speed w/ electric mixer, or in a standing mixer, 2 minutes, or until creamy.
Gradually add sugar, beating 5 - 7 minutes.

Add eggs, one at a time, beating just until yellow disappears.

Combine mashed banana, buttermilk and vanilla in a small bowl.  Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Add alternately to butter mixture; starting with flour mixture, and ending with buttermilk mixture. Mix at low speed after each addition, just until blended.

Stir in pecans.

Spoon batter into buttered and sugared bundt pan.  Bake at 325° for 1.5 hours, or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.

Cool pan on wire rack for 15 minutes, remove cake from pan, and cool completely on wire wrack.


Saturday, April 1, 2017


The azaleas are blooming!  Now that the azaleas are in bloom it’s stating to look like Spring is really here.  Spring is my favorite season, so it makes me especially happy when things start blooming.

Azaleas thrive in the southeast, so we have a lot of them in our yard, and are considering adding more.  I’d like to find a yellow azalea bush.  We have white, and various shades of pink - pale pink all the way to hot pink, but no yellow.  Yet.

I just love azaleas.  I think they’re so pretty, and they’re some of the first really colorful bushes to bloom here.  I love that there are so many different varieties of azaleas, and that the flowers are different sizes and colors.

According to Wikipedia, azaleas were first cultivated outside of greenhouses in Charleston, South Carolina.  Since South Carolina is my home state it makes me especially happy to have so many azalea bushes in bloom.

So what about you?  Do you like azaleas?  Are they in bloom where you are?

Friday, March 31, 2017

March Wrap-Up

Once a month blogging seems to be my theme for this year.  It’s a little hard to believe that tomorrow is April 1st, but time flies, right?

March was pretty busy for us.  Howard and Joey both had some health issues, and several vet appointments.  Howard had an anal gland abscess.  Without going into too many gory details, it involved a trip to the emergency vet clinic, a minor surgery, and about a month of wound care twice a day.  He also had to be separated from the other cats, and use a special cat litter while he healed.  There were numerous vet appointments to check his progress, and for antibiotic shots.  Howard handled all of it really well.  He’s a fairly easygoing cat, so he tolerated everything nicely.  We moved him into our bedroom while he was separated from the other cats, and he seemed to enjoy the one on one time with us.  His vet is incredibly pleased with how well he healed, so we’re very happy about that.  He has an appointment tomorrow for us to talk with the vet about making sure this doesn’t happen again.

Joey’s health issues are a little more complicated.  He’s fourteen now, so he’s a little older.  He has fairly severe asthma, but it’s mostly well controlled with his current medications.  He also has some intestinal issues, and seems to possibly be on his way to developing a heart condition.  The vet made some changes to his medications, and he seems to be responding well to that.  Our vet has said that there are some more medications we can try, but we have to make sure we strike a good balance as far as what the medications treat and the side effects they cause.  For the moment, what we’re doing seems to be working.  Joey seems happy.  He’s eating well and behaving normally.  He also has an appointment with the vet tomorrow.

The weather has been all over the place this month.  We had some snow earlier in the month, and lately we’ve been enjoying temperatures in the 70s.  I’m hoping the warmer weather is here to stay.

We cut the grass for the first time this season on Wednesday, just ahead of the torrential rain that started on Thursday.  Nick did most of the grass cutting, and I started weeding the flower beds.  It’s always exciting to see what made it through the winter, and I love seeing the first blooms.  The little white flowers are from GrandMommy’s yard. She helped me transplant them to our yard in 2013.  I’ve always liked them, but it’s especially nice to see them now.  She’s gone, but her flower legacy lives on.

We’ve also been working on trying to Duke proof the fence.  We fixed all of the places he escaped from in the fall, and there were no more unauthorized outings during the winter, so we thought the problem had been solved.  Nope.  Apparently even Duke has enough sense not to go frolicking around the neighborhood during the cold weather.  Once the weather warmed up, Duke went right back to organizing his own outings.  We think we’ve found a better way to reinforce the fence, so hopefully I’ll be sharing a success story soon.

I’ve decided to participate in the A to Z Challenge this year.  I’ve been going back and forth about whether or not to participate.  I’ve barely blogged at all this year, so A to Z seems like a good way to get back in the habit of more regular blogging.  For those of you not familiar, during the month of April you blog every day except Sunday, starting with A and ending with Z.  The posts just have to have something to do with the letter of the day.  It’s a good way to get into the habit of writing posts regularly, and a fun way to connect with other bloggers.

So what about you?  How did March treat you?  Are you participating in the A to Z Challenge in April?  Any other big plans for April?

Friday, February 24, 2017

How Do You Stay Healthy?

I had grand plans for getting on a much more regular blogging schedule for this year, but obviously that hasn’t happened.

I have managed to catch pretty much every illness that has gone around work.  It seems particularly bad in my building this year, and we seem to be passing a lot of things around.

I started the year off with an upper respiratory infection.  A few weeks ago I had the stomach virus that was making the rounds.  I ended up in the emergency room for IV fluids and medication with that one.  If anyone around you has it, run!  For the past week it has been the flu.  One of my co-workers came down with it last Thursday, and I started coming down with it last Friday.  Nick started coming down with it on Tuesday.

I can’t help wondering what I’m doing wrong.  It kind of feels like my immune system has packed up and gone on vacation.  It certainly doesn’t seem to be doing its job.

I realize I get exposed to a lot of stuff at work.  Nick does, too, and it definitely seems like we bring a lot of illness home to each other.

I wash my hands constantly.  I periodically clean my desk and keyboard at work with alcohol wipes. I wash my hands as soon as I come home from work.  I go for acupuncture and reflexology regularly. We’ve also started using some essential oils.  There’s a blend that’s supposed to promote a healthy immune system, and Nick and I both use it daily.  We don’t have the healthiest diet in the world, but we definitely don’t live off of fast food or junk food.

I can’t help wondering what I’m missing.  Is there some magic potion that everyone else knows about?

So what do you do to stay healthy?  Do you manage to avoid catching every single thing the people around you come down with?  If, so how?!?  I’m hoping you’ll have lots of great suggestions.  I’d love to hear them!

Or, if you seem to get sick all of the time, too, and want to commiserate in the comments, that’s fine too.  Misery loves company, right?

And, to keep this post from becoming a total whine fest, I’m sharing a picture of Howard doing his meerkat pose.  He started doing this back in December, and we’re not sure why.  He just sits like this fairly often now.  He looks adorable doing it.

He reminds me of a meerkat when he does it. His vet says he looks a Buddha statue.  Nick’s mom says he looks like a weeble wobble.  What do you think?

I hope you’re all staying healthy, and I’m looking forward to catching up on everyone’s blogs.