Wednesday, November 15, 2017


We have been in our "Small Life" house for just about five years now.  There are still boxes in our garage that have not been moved inside.  I am trying to get stuff cleared out before I attack what's left in boxes and one thing I needed to do, was shred old documents.  There were multiple tax returns well over ten years old, and all of the pay stubs and financial material that went with them.  We also had paperwork from two old mortgages and a number of loans.  None of this stuff could go out in our recycling bin.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Can't Change My Spots

 This lady loves leopard.  Each year, I splurge on a piece of leopard patterned outerwear.  Last year it was a vest.  For the up coming winter, it's a coat.  The plush faux fur is right up my alley and I could not resist the buy.  After heading down to Hamburg, NY to meet a friend for breakfast, my goal was to make a stop into the Park Avenue Coat Company -- a great place to find marked-down outerwear.  There are many brands and products, overstock, last season, irregular and what-not from a variety of sources from  Betsy Johnson to Walmart.  Most coats are $35 each or three for $99.

 I just needed one coat.  The one I have had for a few years is getting admittedly a little small.  It also came from the same store.  When it comes to coats, I no longer buy second hand.  It's easier to find something new at a discount for less than it would cost to buy thrift and then dry-clean.   Methinks I will look quite stylish sporting this fun fake in my old Mercedes.  I can't wait for us to go out together!

Tuesday, November 7, 2017


Goth is not a good look for me!  I painted my face white and put on black lipstick and spent Halloween day as a witch.  Lots of people at work were dressed up, but unfortunately I missed the big office picture because I had to host a conference call.  One thing I like about working in an office of "millennials" is that they get involved.  They don't think it's silly to dress up or participate in events.  They are willing to walk away from their desk and see what's going on.  I think more folks in my age group need to stop thinking their image and what they do is so important that they can't dress up or join in.  Of course, I really couldn't get out of the call -- and I was bummed!

Teddy and I had matching outfits.  Unfortunately, it was a dreary, cold and wet day.  We got maybe eight groups of kids.  And she waited at the door hoping for more!  Teddy loves Halloween.  She tolerates her costume and leaves it alone.  A couple of groups asked if they could take a picture with her, so that made it even more of a treat for her.  It's just sad that we had the same costume and it looked so much better on her!  Oh well, who can compete with a cute dog?  Certainly not a 55 year old woman!

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Not to Roll....

One thing that I think makes a confident cook, is the ability to deal with what you mess up and not get discouraged.  For me, part of that comes out of my refusal to waste.  If I make a mistake, by effort turns into something else.  I think that it is important not to strive for perfection.  That's not to say that you should expect to serve something that doesn't taste good.  One cooking show I used to watch years ago, was The Frugal Gourmet.  One less learned then, was if something doesn't turn out the way it's supposed to, call it something else.  Julia Child also said that any dish that looked perfect had too many hands touching it.  Those are my two mantras.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Herbs in the House


The temperature is dropping and I am working to save some of the herbs and plants from the garden.  We brought the aloe-vera plan in this weekend.  I have a bunch of cacti I also hope to have time to rescue. 

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Am I Grandma?

Am I grandma?  I have recently, on more than one occasion, heard the term "Grandma Cooking" to describe a recent food trend.  It's along the line of the "Slow Cooking" movement.  Supposedly, there is a return to the frugality of cooking from scratch and using every last bit of food so that none is wasted and money is saved.  Apparently, so few people really know how to sensibly cook that what should just be a normal common sense approach to eating is now a "trend."

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Back in the Saddle Again

This isn't a post about horse riding!  No, it's about me and my footwear.  After almost two years, I am back to wearing normal shoes.  Two years ago, I broke a brittle piece of bone projection in my big toe and it lodged between the joint.  That led to toe surgery in February of 2015.  After that, in April of the same year, I had my ankle joint cleaned out and reconstructed.  While recuperating from that, my knee started to hurt horribly.  Turns out I had a fracture in it that went undetected.  In order to keep it from getting worse, I wore a knee brace.  Finally sick of the brace, I had a partial knee replacement this year.

Now almost two years later, I am back to wearing normal shoes.  It has been a journey!  It's also been some work getting my feet back into the type of shoes I like.  For two years I wore sneakers or well padded loafers.  The flexibility I regained once I could bend my toe again, was lost when I became lame in the knee.

Monday, October 23, 2017

It's That Time of Year Again....

For many US workers, November signals the beginning of "Open Enrollment" season, a time where we sign up for employer-sponsored benefit plans.  Choosing a plan is probably the most important financial decision you will make this year and I am posting today to encourage everyone who has this opportunity to take advantage of it.   Full disclosure:  I am not a licensed insurance broker, but I do set up and manage private health care exchanges.  I spend 40+ hours per week working around, thinking about, coordinating, and supporting people so that they have access to the plans they have chosen.  I work with employers and brokers, with an aim to make sure coverage for the "lives" I am responsible for works smoothly.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

More on the All-Consuming Car

We drove Das Boot last night and were stopped at a light in Allentown -- a popular section of Buffalo that is very artsy, when we had another "car moment."  Three college kids gave us thumbs up and peace signs while we were stopped at a light.  So far, every day I have driven this car, someone has done that.  It's really cool.  The car looks great from the outside but I knew it was time to attack the interior, so that is what I did today!

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

She's Home!

My beautiful old car is finally home!  She spent three weeks in the service center waiting for reverse light lenses to arrive.  The first set was ordered from Florida, but the facility was destroyed in the hurricane.  The next resource was in California, and burnt to the ground in the wild fires!

I will drive her for a few days and take her in for detailing and an interior estimate.  Looking at her parked in front of our house, you can see how  big she is.  We will be able to store a lot of cargo and drive it in style. 

Tomorrow she'll take me to work where my co-workers have been excited to see what I have gotten myself into.  It will take a bit to get used to driving her but I think we'll suit just fine.

It's taken me 30+ years to get the Mercedes I've always wanted, and I don't mind that she's 30+ years old!

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Closing Camp Again

Sadly, summer is over.  We just spent our last weekend at camp. It's hard to call it quits when you need to wear shorts and a tank top on your last weekend.  However, cold weather is on the way and the water is being shut off this week.  I cleaned out foodstuff and a few other things, and TBG will go back next week for a day to drain the water lines and pump anti-freeze through the system.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

I Am the Food Processor

This is only a small portion of the share this week.  First thing, I took half of the peppers, apples, some squash and potatoes and brought a bag to the boys next door.  We had a stalk of brussell sprouts last week too.  The boys got half and we just finished the other half tonight.  Teddy chewed on the stalk outside at camp this weekend.  A bunch of Roma tomatoes went right into zippies, then into the freezer.
The next task was to cut the leaves off of all the cruciferous veggies, peel five apples, cut and core them.  There was also the end of a head of broccoli and a few choice ends left, which I cut up for soup and stock.  The stock was made with the carcass of a rotisserie bird, four corn cobs from last week and other odds and ends.  That will be the base for a corn and broccoli soup with cous-cous tomorrow night (it's in the mini-crockpot now). I used some for dinner tonight too.

The leaves, stalks, guts from a squash, apple cores and peels, made it into a jar and a half of veggie slop.  The pup was underfoot the entire time, eating bits that fell on the floor.  This is her portion for tonight -- also to include a few big hunks of broccoli stalk that I pulled out of the stock.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Cooking My Share

It has been a challenge not to waste the farm share we signed up for.  A lot of it goes to the boys next door.  While I was on my own Thursday night, I sauteed up a lot of green pepper and onion, along with a tray for "Special Today" beef.  The intention was to make filling for omelettes or  a hefty side portion for a couple of batches of "steak and egg"  breakfast.  In addition to the meat and veggie portion, I also boiled potatoes to have on the side.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Meat Alternative

I am the top cook in the house and also the primary grocery shopper.  With a goal to work only with whole foods, it's rare that I buy anything overly processed or with too many ingredients.  I like to cook and serve tofu -- but I stay away from Tofurkey.  I am not interested in meat substitutes -- they  have too many ingredients and are generally loaded with salt.  Even organic ingredients can't make up for a high level of sodium.  Sure I could work with textured vegetable/soy protein to make vegetarian "meatballs," but I prefer real food.  

Mushrooms are, in my humble opinion, one of the best meat alternatives out there.  If you are cost conscious, you will often find the larger white mushrooms which are intended for stuffing at the lowest per pound price as compared to other mushroom varieties.  The nice thing with that size, is you can cut them into healthy chunks that are sturdy and tasty enough to use in place of a meatball.  For me, there is a big difference between a substitute and an alternative.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Das Boot

She is in the shop and has been for the past week.  On our drive home, she broke down.  This was not unexpected.  After sitting idle for many weeks and not having had much highway time in recent months, the plan was to take her straight to the mechanic to have her fuel filters changed, lines cleared out, etc.  So the tow truck got her there instead.

The mechanic took things apart, found nothing wrong, put more gas in the tank and she started right up.  He waited a day and started her again.  She drove fine both days.  He called to tell me what he found and to get "the back story" on her.  There was a lot of curiosity on how and where I found her in the great shape she is in.  Alas, there are some issues with her turning signals and hazard lights and she needs a fuse for the odometer.  These are thing they need to figure out.  So for now, she sits in their lot next to very sexy vintage red convertible that is also a Mercedes.  They make a very striking pair.

Next stop after this is the upholstery/interior shop across the street.  She will get new carpet and a dashboard cap.  We will have an electrician put a plug for the engine block heater on the side of our house near the driveway.  I can't wait to start driving her and the waiting is hellacious!

For now, I am hoping her cassette player still works so I can dig my 80's music out of a box in the basement and get her ready to hit the road.  Because we are going to party like it's 1984!

Tuesday, September 19, 2017


We keep our liquor in a canoe bookshelf in the living room.  At least that is where the hard liquor lives.  When we drink hard liquor, it is generally in the living room, or else in the back yard.  As a result, I had to work with that theme when it came time to pair the new chair with a side table of sorts.  The new chair is Tom's "Scotch Chair." After spending  boo-coo bucks on the chair, the solution was to re-purpose something we already had.  My goal was to do something cool and an idea came to me in the middle of the night.  

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Living Room Evolution

When we first moved in

 Our first efforts at decorating -- putting our old stuff into the room.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

From Old to New

 After just posting about the ancient car I bought from the side of the road, I'm turning in the complete opposite direction and posting about new furniture.  This week we donated 80% of our living room furniture and splurged on new pieces.  While I'm not one to be matchy-matchy, I could not help but make a beautiful exception.  At least I think these pieces are gorgeous.  The end table has a match along with a living room table.  The lamps were a set.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

My New Classic

Sometimes if you want something bad enough, and you're willing to wait until you can afford it, the opportunity to have it will come down the road.  Or in my case, you'll drive down the road and find it.  Case in point, my "new" Mercedes station wagon.  I have wanted an estate wagon for years and years -- even before I had a dog to haul around.  I've also always wanted a Mercedes but on my meager career-girl salary, that wasn't possible.

Last week, driving down Lake Road, we passed a Mercedes wagon on the side of the road with a "For Sale" sign on it.  My heart did flip-flops as we drove by.  On the way back to camp we pulled over to look.  The last week has been spent researching how we'd insure it and who'd be our mechanic.  We have both lined up and went to meet the owners on Saturday.

Monday, September 4, 2017

The Driveway is Done

The concrete was finished for our driveway on Friday.  They need to come back to remove the framing and give it one more wash-down.  We are happy with the result.  In another  month, we will seal it -- and they are lending us a sprayer.  We only replaced the sections that were badly cracked and hope to do the remaining segments next year.