Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Christmas at Work

 
Every year I make some sort of holiday offering for my co-workers.  This year, there are six people on my team, along with others who are temporarily squished into our row too.  There are also a couple of my other cronies I wanted to gift.  Last year I gave out big bars of cranberry soap.  This year I made small gift bags.  I used an assortment of items that I could buy in batches of a dozen.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Made it Ahead -- Last Week!

I made a big hunk of beef last Sunday.  It was an inexpensive bottom round cut.  It was pan seared and then baked on a cookie sheet with carrots and radishes, along with assorted small potatoes.  We had a nice dinner and it was a swell way to wind-up the weekend.  The meal was made with the intention that it would turn into stew -- bottom round isn't the most tender cut of meat.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Lavender Scent-Crafts

 This is my home-made version of a reed scent diffuser.  With a huge cache of lavender harvested before the first freeze, I had to do something with the stems I had left after pulling all the leaves off.  The oil in the bottom is a mixture of canola and drops of scent oil (the type you put into a wall-plug diffuser).  I had a small mayonnaise jar with a plastic lid. I was able to drill a messy hole into it and stuff in a few wooden skewers and stems.  We will see if it scents my bedroom.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

We have had only one electrical outlet outside and had to run really long extension cords to use the weed-wacker or edger in the front.  Any time I wanted to vacuum a car, I had to run an extension cord out the front door.  It was a pain.  Once I bought the old car with the diesel engine, it became necessary to have a place to plug it in so we could keep the engine block warm on freezing nights. It's only going to be necessary to plug in on cold nights when I know I'll be driving the wagon the next day.  Because it's never seen road salt and we want it to last, I'm not going to drive it in cruddy weather so we've decided to hold on to the old Chevy (it's a 2003 with 75K miles on it).  

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Using it All - The Cauliflower Edition

 Anyone who reads my blog knows I hate to waste food!  I used every last scrap on Thanksgiving and created a cauliflower recipe while I was at it.  I love to broil this white cruciferous veggie.  This year, I cut the florets off the stems, threw them in a baking dish, then added EVOO, ranch dressing, peppercorns, a little honey, lemon zest and freshly grated parm.  I let that soak for the day and then baked it covered in foil.  Once it was almost done, I put it under the broiler to crisp up.  Yum!

Sunday, November 26, 2017

It Starts with The Tree

 
We did not decorate the house last year. This year, I put up the tree right after Thanksgiving.  I had wanted a "pencil" tree and scoped one out at Big Lots.  It was $75 and that was the price I was looking to beat anywhere else. I went back to the store on Black Friday and it was on sale for $50 -- so it came home with me.  There was no need to buy any new decorations as I like what we have just fine.  Many of the ornaments were too big for the "white princess" tree I had been decorating in the past -- so I'd hang one in each window.  This year, they are all on the tree, which will make putting it all away that much easier.


Thursday, November 23, 2017

We are Non-Traditional

I like any holiday associated with food.  Having been married 29 years, I've hosted 25 Turkey Day Dinners.  Some were big, some were small, mostly sticking to the tried and true turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, peas, cranberries, biscuits, and pie fare.  Regardless of the size of the gathering, I generally made it all myself -- starting at the crack of dawn and working in my jammies.   This year, we went intentionally small -- just the two of us.  Rather than a whole bird, The Big Guy insisted on making a turkey roulade.  I took responsibility for everything else.  We had an awesome meal and a nice day to boot.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

My Bargain-Based Life

 
Of course my fabulous life is really bargain basement.  I would love to be able to truly afford the best and be one of those sophisticated people who don't buy much, but when they do, they only buy the best.  On the other hand, I hate cheap and shoddy stuff.  My consumerism is based on price, quality and convenience.  There is nothing sophisticated about that.  I love my new faux-leopard coat, but I wear it to a desk job because the reality is that I need to earn money.  Boy would I rather be wearing it out to lunch or drinks with my girlfriends at some sort of chi-chi martini bar.  Yes, I'd drive there in my Mercedes Benz, but the reality is that my 33 year old used car isn't that luxe.  Right now, the heater isn't working.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Shredded

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

Dog-O-Ween

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

Torpedoed!

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. 

Thursday, August 31, 2017

While You're At It...

 I am very much a "while you're at it" kind of girl.  If I'm doing one thing, why not tag something else on?  It's a way to be economical with my time and resources. This weekend when my sister-in-law came to stay, it struck me as a perfect WYAI opportunity.  First, we had already picked up the house, secondly, we were already going to have to make a nice meal.  Why not invite an extra guest or two since we were already going to the trouble.  Turns out my bestie and her hubby were due a dinner at our house, so they were our value-add.  We also know that our guest would enjoy their company.  So we killed two birds with that stone.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Motivational House Guest

Our house was a disaster. During the summer, the place just turns into a dump.  The room I sleep in looked like a college dorm room.  Then my sister-in-law texted TBG to say she had a conference in town on Sunday and asked if she could stay.  That was last week.  That meant Saturday was spent cleaning.  Just the fire under my butt needed to get things set straight.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Small Save

 Well, another fitted sheet has bitten the dust.  It served it's purpose for the past five years in major rotation on my bed.  There is still more life in it, though.  The first step is to cut it up into a flat sheet of fabric.  In order to do that, I cut all of the elastic off of the edge.  It looks like something a normal person would toss, but not me!

Thursday, August 24, 2017

What's Going On...

 

I have been doing a pretty good job of keeping up with my home-centered beliefs, even though I am not posting frequently enough.  As the whole socio-political situation spirals out of control, I take comfort in the routine responsible things we do daily.  Things are good for me.  With some financial wiggle room, I am changing my outlook on how I cook and what I buy.  For instance, no more part-skim mozzarella.  I'll take the full-fat gourmet version.  It tastes better on the fresh tomatoes from the farm share.  The basil has come in full force, so we're eating fresh pesto.  These are the things I take comfort in when the real world is going crazy.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Back in Time

 I feel as if we have stepped back in time.  This tombstone was one I captured in July -- long before our nation became embroiled in the current political and social woes my country is now facing.  This soldier from Wayne County, NY died at the Battle of Charleston in 1864.  He was 25 years and ten months of age.

Lately, I've found myself drawn into political conversations I don't want to be a part of.  I don't want to argue or belabor over my opinions -- which I won't change.  I believe that symbols of oppression that were intended to intimidate are wrong.  Even if some people see them as historic or symbols of times past.  Those whom I've tried to avoid conflict with in the past couple of weeks want me to concede environmentalists have gone too far.  I can't debate that, as I am grateful for those who banned DDT -- the pesticide responsible for the near extinction of our National Bird, the Bald Eagle -- the bird I now see regularly, that I was able to get a picture of this morning.  Twenty years ago, there wasn't one to be found on Lake Ontario.  Now I see them regularly.  It is a spectacular sight that never fails to make me feel awe.

As a female in technology, I am shocked that today's women are afraid to meet in a closed room with a male alone.  Our Vice President refuses to do so.  There was a time when I had no female co-workers.  There were many tough situations that I had to face that were discriminatory.  "How does it feel to take bread out of a union baby's mouth."  "How could your husband let you do a man's job."  When I did have other females in my work group, I was asked on one job site "Do the other girls in your group have big ones like you?"

Seeing race issues come back up again, seeing the environment marginalized, seeing woman putting up with crap in the bro-corporate culture makes me sick.  I have been told I should be ashamed to be a feminist.  But I feel I have no choice but to identify as such.  I am a humanist at heart -- and I feel to be one, you must have the human race's best interest at heart.

I have been  bad about posting lately and I usually stay away from talking politics, but there comes a point where there is a need to stand with your beliefs.  I was raised in a Jewish community.  I played sports as a result of Title IX.  I started my career at a time where sexual harassment was a regular part of a woman's work experience.  Over the years, I've been proud of my accomplishments -- and that I could make progress without harming others.  Lately I feel like I am in a time warp and that the ground gained has somehow been lost when I've not been paying attention.

I know I have mostly female readers.  Do you feel the way I do?

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The Sky is Always Blue Somewhere!

There are days you long for a blue sky but all you can get is a brief glimpse.  Some days, clouds are white and fluffy, and on others they are thick and dark.  Luckily for me, most of my days are a mix.  I wish they were all bright blue sky days but they never seem to work out that way.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Dog Days of Summer

Everything is right in my world again.  We are back at camp as a family every other weekend. I can swim with my dog.  So far (knock on wood), the dog hasn't had any skin flare-ups.  Granted, we have had a wet and somewhat mild summer, but I finally feel like I am part of the season.

Monday, August 7, 2017

I Am Not a Pot Head

OK, contemporaries of mine, who recognizes the significance of this flower pot?  It is intentionally shown upside-down, because that is part of the reference point.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

My New Summer Drink



There are days when I am just too lazy to make iced tea.  It's also not uncommon for me to struggle with how to come up with ways to use the unpredictable contents of our farm-share box.  Often I am looking for a drink with dinner that is refreshing and caffeine-free.  My go-to alternative and new favorite summer drink is cucumber water.  It seems we always have a cuc or two on hand and there's a pot of fresh mint outside my back door.  Lemons are my summer cooking staple so I always add some fresh-squeezed lemon juice.  I don't dump in slices because we don't drink a whole batch in one sitting and the slices make the drink go bitter.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Getting Out

Now this is my idea of getting out.  If only I could soar a hundred feet above Lake Ontario like this vulture. It was neat to get the picture, though.  The weather wasn't great -- and sometimes we see more bird activity as a result.  The span of this predator's wings are as wide as I am tall.  Ugly though he or she may be, the essential function of keeping the earth clear of carrion (dead things) makes them pretty important ecologically.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Farm to Table

 We pick up our farm share on Wednesdays, and then I have to get busy!  Tonight's dinner was picked today (except for the fish).  Our small box this week contained:

2 pints of raspberries
2 heads of kohlrabi
1 bundle of carrots
1 bundle of beets
1 cucumber
1 quart beans
1 quart peas
zucchini and summer squash
1 bundle of kale

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Trailer Windows

 
After having removed the blinds and valances, then installed white roller shades, I wanted to create some sort of valance and also create a way to darken the area further at night.  Many years ago, I had sewn panels to mount over the blinds at night using velcro.  Since they were already the right size, I adapted them by sewing rings on the top and hooking them onto cup hooks mounted underneath the cabinets.  I can roll them up and secure them with ribbons, which can easily be untied at night.  Not gorgeous, but functional.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Dog Recovered

 Our dog seems to be fully healed.  We finally got her groomed and were shocked by how much weight she lost during her recovery.  Some of it is muscle mass which we know she will regain.  After I uploaded this picture, I was shocked at how trim she is.  That's probably one of the things that helped her bounce back so well.  She is walking without any sort of limp or hitch in her giddy-up -- something that we find astounding given how much she limped before and the drastic surgery she had.  Happily, she is swimming again too.  We have started slowly, going every other day.  After this week, she'll be OK to go every day.  I can't wait until I am strong enough to go in with her.

We went to camp this weekend and it was my first trip up with TBG and the dog. It was so swell to be there together.  I hadn't been up at all in June.  It's easy to forget how much we like having our lakefront spot -- until we get back.  Teddy loves rolling in the grass and chewing sticks -- something she doesn't get to do that much at home since we have a slate patio.

Everything is right in my world when I can go to my camp, swim with my dog and spend time with my fella!

Monday, July 10, 2017

Jamming

 
I have started making my own jam and now I never want to buy it at the store again.  The first time, it was because we had a surplus of strawberries from our farm share.  Now they are done with strawberries, so I picked up two bags frozen, plus one bag of blueberries.  They are organic and were something like $2.50 each at Aldi.  So far I have made three batches and learned that you want to use fruit pectin, not gelatin.  So those are the main ingredients, in addition to sugar and a few flavorings.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

The Responsible Refrigerator

Cleaning the refrigerator is one of my least favorite domestic chores.  With no plans for the holiday and being behind in domestic responsibilities due to my recuperation, I decided I just needed to buck it up and get the job done.  For two people, we sure do keep a lot of food in the fridge!