Friday, December 31, 2021

Out with the old, in with the new

This week I spent an afternoon going through my 2021 journal and setting up for 2022.  I was amazed at some of the things I had completely forgotten about.  I use a lined journal and write everything in it.  It's handy to have it all in one book instead of pieces of paper everywhere.  I don't remember where I got this from, it may have been the bullet journal website, but every year for the last 4 or 5 years I write this on the first page of my new journal as a reminder of what I want to track.  It really helps keep me centered.

I read 18 books this year, way up from 2020 but still less than I used to read.  My favorite book of the year was Four Winds by Kristin Hannah.

We completed 6 of the 12 projects I had written down.  Not a stellar number but considering the year it was I'm satisfied with it. 

The garden was successful this year with a high yield.  Much better than the disaster of 2020. I planted my large rosemary plant in the ground and so far so good.

I completed a soup of the week challenge from January to March and September to December with 6 new to me recipes along with old time favorites.  I think my favorites were the Detox Cabbage soup and the beef stew.  For a person that used to not like soup, I did very well.  I think the cold weather has a lot to do with it.

We paid it forward 12 times through the year which always makes us happy.

I created a much better work/life balance and am so happy about that.  It's made a huge difference in my life.

For 2022 my home project list has 10 items on it so far.  These are all things we can complete and not depend on outside help which is still in short supply.

My personal project list has three items on it but will grow through the year.

My goal is to read 24 books and make 24 new to me recipes.  Two a month of each should be a realistic goal.

Our breakfasts and lunches are usually meatless, but I am adding Meatless Mondays for the dinner plans.  

Weight is not a problem for either of us but I do want to get back into yoga, stretching and upper body strength training.  So my goal is three times a week yoga and three times a week stretching and weightlifting.  I know that isn't a lot, but it is more than I'm doing now.  I don't want to set the bar too high. I already walk quite a bit so I think I'm good there.

It's been two years since we have had a party for obvious reasons.  I really want to have an outside backyard BBQ this summer so I'm hoping Covid cooperates.

I'm hoping 2022 is the best year we've all seen in a long time!!

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Homemade Egg Rolls

I love eggrolls and have been making them for years.  They freeze well-cooked or uncooked and can be fried, cooked in the oven or air fryer.  I usually cook them in the air fryer now.  For reheating I recommend the oven or toaster oven.  I took some to work for lunch once and only had a microwave to reheat them in and they were not very good.  Microwaving makes the crispy wrap soggy.


1 boneless skinless chicken breast cut into small cubes (they are usually made with pork but we prefer chicken)

2 cups shredded cabbage of any variety

1 cup shredded carrots

1 small shallot diced

1 thumb size nub of ginger diced

1 clove of garlic diced


4 tablespoons of low sodium soy sauce or tamari

2 teaspoons of fish sauce

2 teaspoons of siracha

pinch of red pepper flakes

Stir fry the chicken in a tablespoon of olive or sesame oil.  Once cooked, put chicken in a separate bowl and set aside.

Use the same pan to cook the cabbage, carrots, ginger and garlic.  Cook on medium heat for a minute or two stirring occasionally.  Add the sauce and continue stirring and cooking for about 5 minutes.  Remove the pan from the heat and add the chicken.  Combine well and let cool.

Once the filling is cool put about 2 tablespoons in the center of an eggroll wrapper, roll halfway, tuck in the sides and tightly roll. Roll in a bit of cornstarch, place them on a pan and chill for about 15-20 minutes.

Fry these in a shallow pan of oil about 2-3 minutes then flip for another 1-2 minutes.  

Bake in a 350-degree oven on a greased cookie sheet for 30 minutes.  Turning after the first 15 minutes.

Air fry at 400 degrees for 20 minutes turning after the first 10 minutes.

Serve alone or with rice. This makes 8 or 9 egg rolls.


Sunday, December 26, 2021

The last Weekly W's of 2021


Here we are, the last week of 2021.  This is the week that I use to reflect on the past year and look at what worked, what didn't, what I want more and less of in my life.  I have my new journal waiting and will begin to set it up this week.  2022...please be kind to us all.

What's top of my mind: My husband. AKA the big guy.  I am so blessed to have such a caring, considerate, hardworking and helpful husband.  He's the best and I need to remember to thank him a little more often for all he does to keep our lives rolling along smoothly.  

Where I've been: Thursday we went out to breakfast.  Not good.  Friday we went to a birthday party.  It was held at a new cafe, Cafe Bloom.  It was so beautiful!  The atmosphere and the people. We knew most everyone there but also met some new people and had great conversation. I'm so glad we went.  And I ate my weight in Indian food. Yes SPO, a LOT of curried snacks.

Where I'm going: We both have the week off.  We know we'll take a day trip or two and have lunch somewhere.  Other than that, it is unplanned bliss.

What I'm watching: A LOT of Christmas movies this past week.  We ended the Christmas movie watching yesterday with Christmas Chronicles 1 and 2 and of course A Christmas Story.

What I'm reading: I'm still reading the book I started last week and I have two new Mary Jane Farm magazines to read as well.  Also the seed catalogs are coming in.  So much to read.

What I'm listening to: Nothing much this week.  

What I'm eating: Meals this week were

Left Over Chili, loaded and cornbread
Left over Sloppy Joes with air fried potatoes
Chicken, black beans and rice
BIG salad
Lamb burgers and air fried potatoes
Roasted turkey, lamb meatballs, mashed potatoes, bacon and parm roasted asparagus, deviled eggs and yeast rolls.
Today will be a smorgasbord of leftovers

Who needs a good slap: On pause, due to the holidays.

What I'm planning: As I said above, this is the week for relaxing and planning my goals for 2022.

What's making me smile: So many smiles this week.  All because of people and not things.  There are so many wonderful people in my small little circle and I'm thankful for each one and also each one of my blog friends. 

How was your holiday week?

Saturday, December 25, 2021

Merry Christmas


Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas.  I hope your day is filled with peace and love.  I'll be back tomorrow with my Weekly W's.

Thursday, December 23, 2021

It's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas

I finished everything for the year and am officially off work until January 3rd and I couldn't be happier.  The group I work for spoils me so much around the holidays.  I think I can live off of Gift Cards for quite some time.  One of them always send me a flower arrangement and as always, this one is so pretty the picture doesn't do it justice.  

Even though I've been very mindful of time and doing small things each day to celebrate the moment it is still hard to believe tomorrow is Christmas Eve.  I hope the next 10 days slow down a bit.

So far today, we went out for breakfast for the first time in two years and it was horrible. I really wish we had a nice breakfast place here. Our Cracker Barrell is not a good one. Since we got home I've done a few things around the house and whipped up the fruit salad that I love.  One of my grandmothers used to make this and it has always been my favorite.  It is fresh diced pineapple, sliced bananas and marshmallows.  I don't always add the marshmallows, but the big guy had a bag in the cabinet for his hot chocolate, so I added them this time. Something about pineapple and bananas, I could eat this every day.

Tomorrow afternoon we have a Birthday party to go to.  We're having lamb burgers for dinner and plan on having Christmas movies in the background as we play Scrabble.  It's funny to think back pre covid at how different our lives are.  We have really slowed down and I think we both like it this way. The big guy is just excited as I am to have 10 full unplanned days to do as we wish.

I'll leave you with a picture of Jet all snuggled up in his chair last night taking a cat nap.  He's just too cute.

Sunday, December 19, 2021

My Weekly W's

                                    My Thanksgiving Cactus at work is blooming.  It's so pretty.

What's top of my mind- Enjoying the Christmas season.  I've been being mindful of my time and of the season and am embracing all that it brings.  I've been lighting up the house each evening with the fairy lights, tree and SO many candles.  It just makes a cozy setting. I have a few days of work left and then have 10 days off to enjoy it all even more.  The big guy always closes the TKD school for the holidays so we will have a lot of time to relax and have some fun.

Where I've been- Other than home and work I picked up a book I had reserved from the library.  I went to Kohls to use up my Kohls cash.  Yesterday we went to do our holiday food shopping so we should need nothing until after the New Year.  Last night we drove around armed with large mugs of cocoa and looked at neighboring Christmas lights.  I wish I would have taken my camera because at one of the nativity scenes at the church down the street there was a deer wandering through. Seeing deer roaming our neighborhood is nothing new but the fact it was sniffing around the nativity was pretty cool.

Where I'm going- I will be going to the office Monday-Wednesday. We have a birthday party to go to on Friday. I'm sure we'll eat out a time or two over the 10 days we're off but I'm purposely making no solid plans.

What I'm watching- A lot of Christmas movies.  This week I watched The Enchanted Christmas Cake, Holiday in Santa Fe, My Sweet Holiday and Stepmom.  I know that isn't technically a Christmas movie but it wraps up on Christmas day, so I counted it.

What I'm reading- Life from Scratch by Sasha Martinn and I'm really enjoying it.

What I'm listening to-While in the car I am listening to Christmas music.

What I'm eating-
The last two servings of Brunswick stew with crusty homemade bread
Beef picadillo, rice
Bacon, scrambled eggs, potatoes and biscuits
Fried Chicken, mashed potatoes and green beans
BIG salad
Last night I made homemade cheese ravioli with tomato sauce.  YUM!
I'm not sure about tonight but it will include Chipotle, Jalapeno chicken sausage that our store makes in house.

Who needs a good slap-Any and all corporations that treat their employees like numbers and not people.  

What I'm planning- I'm planning on taking the remainder of the year to slow down and just enjoy.  Before we know it the days will be getting longer again and the season will be over.

What's making me smile-A lot is making me smile but for some reason Trader Joes Christmas bags really made me smile.  They are just too cute.

 I hope everyone has a wonderful Sunday!!

Sunday, December 12, 2021

My Weekly W's

For a while I was doing Wednesday W's and My Week on Sundays which was a bit redundant, so I've decided to do My Weekly W's on Sunday to recap my week

What's top of my mind: I'm focusing more than ever on each and every day and just trying to stay in the moment and make it all special.  Too often we let thoughts of the past or the future creep in and it takes our focus off of just enjoying the here and now.  So top of my mind is living in the moment.  A little planning for the future is one thing, I just don't want to live there yet.

Where I've been: Work and home are the only two places I've been this week.  Wild and crazy I know.

Where I'm going: I need to pick up my requests from the library tomorrow.  I am going to pop into Kohls for a couple of things and use my $40 Kohls cash.  Next Saturday we need to do our grocery shopping for the holidays.  This is my last full work week of the year.  Woo Hoo!!

What I'm watching:  Christmas Movies!! This week I watched A Sweet Christmas Romance, Almost Christmas and A Christmas Story.

What I'm reading: Other than cookbooks, I haven't read much this week.

What I'm listening to: On the quick trip to and from work I've been listening to Christmas Music.  I love everything from Stevie Nicks version of Silent Night to Mariah Carrey's All I want for Christmas is You and everything in between.  

What I'm eating: 
This week's dinners were:
Mexican chicken, rice and roll up
Left over Brunswick stew and bread
Meatloaf, loaded baked potato and salad
Pasta and salad
Pizza and salad
Air fryer chicken legs, mashed potatoes and corn
Sloppy Joes and Air fryer potatoes

Who needs a good slap: I know there are many, but I must be in the holiday spirit because no one is sticking out in the top of my mind.

What I'm planning: I still need to narrow down the menu for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, NY Eve and NY day.  I want to keep it simple but festive and for some reason cannot decide what I want to do.  I have this week to figure it out before we shop next Saturday.

What's making me smile:  This time of year always makes me smile.  I embrace December thru February and really slow down. It's my hibernation season.  I love the shorter days, the candles lit, twinkle lights, movie nights, game nights, snuggling up and reading. As much as I enjoy all of the seasons, this is my favorite.

How was your week?   Stay safe and enjoy today!

Saturday, December 11, 2021

13 in 1? Yes please!

We have never had a microwave.  Well technically we did in our house in Florida but only because it was built in and came with the house.  We never used it.  I have always preferred a toaster or convection oven.  I think they crisp and heat better than a microwave.  

Our toaster and our convection oven were still in working condition but both about 10 years old so I went on a search for something to replace them both.  I also have been wanting a dehydrator for my herbs and veggies.  I had seen commercials for the original Ninja Foodi oven and was smitten but then they upgraded to 13 functions in 1 appliance, and it flips up when not in use, I knew it was perfect for us.

Because of Christmas sales I knew this would be the best time to buy so I have been watching the Ninja website, Amazon and Kohls for the last month.  Finally, Kohls had a deal I couldn't pass up.  The original price was 279.00.  I got it for 229.00, free shipping and 40.00 of Kohls cash and I couldn't be happier.

Look at the extra counter space now that the toaster and convection oven are gone.  Amazing.

This one appliance air fries, air roasts, broils, bakes, toast and bagel, dehydrate, reheats, sear crisp, rapid bake, griddle, fresh pizza and frozen pizza.  It came with a sear pan, air fry basket, removeable crumb tray and wire rack.

To give you an idea of its size, it can bake 12 cookies, a full size pizza, a 4 pound roast, etc.  So it is a good size.  It also goes up to 500 degrees so perfect for searing and crisping at the same time.

I'm sure I'll be sharing a lot of what I make as I experiment in the coming weeks.

Horrible storms passed through the area last night and I know Kentucky was highly impacted by a huge tornado.  My prayers go out to everyone that was in the path of this horrific storm.  

Today I'm spending the day making Christmas cookies.  I hope everyone has a wonderful Saturday!!

Sunday, December 5, 2021

My Week

Here we are at the beginning of the Holiday season, and I couldn't be happier.  Mother Nature hasn't gotten the memo because temps this week were in the 60's.  The work week had a couple of hiccups but all in all it was manageable.  The Christmas Movie marathon has started.  Since last weekend we've/I've watched...

This Christmas
Bad Mom's Christmas
Holiday In the Wild
Four Christmases
Christmas Vacation

There will be many more Christmas movies over the next few weeks.  I also have our 'activities list' filled out with things we want to do during this season.  I want each day to be filled with a little Joy.  Not just this month but always. 

I decorated the office tree.  It's hard to get a good picture because of the windows. 

At home, the tree is decorated. It's filled with a lifetime of ornaments that are special to us.  I showed some of them on this post last year. Culinary Adventures with Lori: It's beginning to look like Christmas  I still have to get out a few things and do the entry way bench and the dining room table.  That will be done today.  

We took off early yesterday morning to do the grocery shopping.  We stopped at Panera and picked up a couple of bagels for the ride.  Their bagels just aren't what I'm used to.  In Florida we had Bakin Bagels and they were pure heaven.  I haven't had anything even close here.  The crowds were small since we started so early which was nice.  I always make my own salsa, but I found a local brand and decided to try it.  It's from Home -  We used it last night on beef nachos.  I should have bought medium or hot but instead picked up mild.  It was a bit sweet for me but with all of the jalapenos that were on the nachos it worked.  I like the ingredient list and will probably try a hotter version when we return.  It will be nice for New Year's Eve appetizers.

A bag of Chicago style popcorn found its way into the cart as well.  This is made in St. Louis and is always so fresh.  If you haven't had the combo of cheese popcorn and caramel popcorn, you need to give it a try.  It's delicious.

I also made a trip to Hobby Lobby and picked up all of the boxes and tins and bags for Christmas treat gifts.  I will start Christmas baking next weekend doing the ones that freeze well and making the ones that need to be fresh closer to the holiday.  I plan to have them all ready for delivery by the 21st. or 22nd.  I'm keeping it simple this year and only making four different cookies.  Well I say that now but always end up doing more.  We will see.

Meals this week...

Pasta and salad

Cheeseburger and oven fries

Chicken and rice

Big Salad and a couple for the next day's lunch

Hot ham and cheese on homemade buns and onion rings.  They were so good last week I had to make them again.

Beef nachos

If the day goes as planned, I am going to make Naan and Skillet Chicken Shawarma for dinner tonight. I've been craving it for a couple of weeks.

Today is going to be pretty low key.  I'm going to finish up the decorating, do a bit of laundry and just get myself physically and mentally prepared for the week ahead.  I'm having a hard time deciding what to cook for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.  What is on your menu for the holidays?

Stay safe and enjoy your Sunday!!

Sunday, November 28, 2021

My Week

I worked Monday-Wednesday and I actually was extremely productive.  Emergencies were few and far between so I was able to focus on some of the things I needed to get done.  Four out of five of the schedules that I do is complete for all of 2022 which is a BIG relief.  The other is done through January and changes often so I'm not too worried about it. Now just to schedule the monthly admin meetings for the year and that all will be done.

I followed the food prep schedule for Thanksgiving dinner and it really made things so much easier.  The big guy was here Wednesday night and helped quite a bit.

Thanksgiving dinner came out really well.  If it is just the two of us next year, I am going to scale back just a bit.  Two pies are just too much and a bone in turkey breast will be more than enough.  The turkey was very moist and tasty which is always good. Thursday night I put the carcass in the crock pot and made a big pot of stock. We've enjoyed another small meal of the left overs, a couple of sandwiches and today I'm making a big pot of Brunswick stew so nothing has gone to waste.  I made a batch of onion rings to have with one of the sandwiches.  It's been years since I've made them and they are so good I need to make them more often.

Friday went to Freddys for burgers and fries.  We went through the drive through and ate in the Jeep instead of going inside.  It's been so long since we'd been there it was SO good. The rest of the day we each did our own thing and then played cards that evening.

Saturday we went to do a little local shopping and picked up a few things for Christmas baskets.  We also decided to have lunch while we were out so we drove to Firefly Grill.  I've mentioned before that this is my favorite place to eat.  We had a gorgeous view and the food was amazing as always.  

We even went out to feed the fish while we were there.  Before we threw the food in there was no sign of them.  As soon as the food hit the water, they came out quickly. 

I took a picture of my salad but was half way through my meal before I realized I didn't take a picture. A sure sign you are having a good time.  I had flank steak with the creamiest, butter mashed potatoes.  The big guy had Korean chili chicken wings with kimchi. It was all so delicious and a nice break from turkey.

We pulled the totes of Christmas decorations out of the closet in the garage and I've slowly started to decorate.  The tree is going up today but may not get fully decorated until sometime this week. I'm hanging lights on the inside of the front windows; our wreath is on the door and a few yard decorations are out and that will be the extent of outside decorations.

Since we did such a large shopping trip last month, this month only came in at 480.00 and that includes the 15 pounds of butter I picked up for 1.77 each.  I think December may be a little higher but shouldn't be too bad.  We're still pretty stocked up on things.  We are planning a shopping trip next Saturday because I want to be ahead of the crowds.

And now just like that, it is already Sunday.  I have a few things to do around the house and I want to do a bit of meal prep for the week.  Other than that, I'm going to take it a bit slow today.  I have really slept in the last four days and getting up at 5 am is going to be a bit brutal.

How was your week?  Stay safe everyone, between Covid and society, it's a bit scary out there.

Friday, November 26, 2021

Thanksgiving 2021

I hope everyone that celebrates enjoyed their Thanksgiving.  Ours was nice.  Good food, spending time with the big guy and relaxing a bit.  A great way to spend the day.  Even though I had small portions of everything, I still ended up stuffed for the day.  I guess you can even out the calories if that's all you ate for the day.  Right?


But then there was pie.  Sweet potato for the big guy and pumpkin for me. Thankfully, I don't have much of a sweet tooth so I have no problem limiting myself on dessert. If it is only the two of us again next year, I'm going to simplify the menu a bit.  Two pies are too much. 

Today I am going to do a few things around the house and pull out the Christmas decorations.  It is officially Christmas season.  I can't believe we only have 29 days until Christmas.  I hate it when there is so little time between the two Holidays.  

My mom is really struggling with her dementia and I am a bit overwhelmed with the situation. The past month has been horrible.  This is only going to get worse and that makes me sad.  My hands are tied on most things because she is married and he makes the decisions so I can only do so much which is frustrating.

I'm off to get my day started.  I hope you enjoy this last Friday of November.

Saturday, November 20, 2021

Home Alone

 For the first time since November 2019 I am home alone for the entire day and night.  The big guy just left for a TKD tournament and will be back tomorrow.  I will miss him but sometimes it's nice to have the house all to yourself.  I'm armed with a list of things I want to do to make the most of this time and to get ready for Thanksgiving.

It will be the two of us for the holiday but I'm still making a traditional Thanksgiving meal only a little more scaled back.  A couple of years ago I stopped trying to do it all in one day and came up with a plan that works really well for us. I've been making Thanksgiving dinner for so many years it really is easier than it sounds and on Wednesday and Thursday I will have the big guy here to help.

This years menu: Roasted turkey, cornbread stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberries, deviled eggs, brussel sprouts, rolls, sweet potato pie and pumpkin pie

Sunday- move the turkey from the freezer to the fridge.

Tuesday- Make two pie doughs, bake sweet potatoes, dice onions, carrots and celery

Wednesday- Make sweet potato pie, make pumpkin pie, make cornbread, make cranberries

Thursday- Boil eggs and make deviled eggs, make cornbread stuffing, roast turkey, mashed potatoes, bacon parm brussel sprouts, rolls, gravy

I am already really looking forward to the left overs.  Last year I used some of the cornbread stuffing and put it in the waffle maker to heat up.  Then topped with mashed potatoes, turkey a bit of cranberry and a little gravy.  It was AMAZING!! I can't wait to enjoy that again.

Then of course is the big pot of Brunswick stew, my all time favorite for years.

Culinary Adventures with Lori: Search results for brunswick stew

Well I'm off to start my day.  What are your plans for today? 

Sunday, November 14, 2021

My Week

 I can't believe it is Sunday again already.  I remember when I was a kid it seemed like time stood still.  Summers seemed endless, the time from one Christmas to the next seemed like eternity.  Now though, it seems to fly by.   

Yesterday we went to do our biweekly shopping. It's a 40 minute ride and I usually read the entire way but everything was so beautiful I found myself gazing out at the gorgeous fall colors. I love this time of year.  The temperature was 36 degrees which usually isn't cold to me but with the wind chill it felt like 26 so it was pretty cold.  I came home and made hot cocoa to warm us up a bit while I put groceries away and prepped all veggies and meat.  It was a no rush, relaxing kind of day.

If you don't have time to make it from scratch I highly recommend Ghiradelli hot cocoa mix.  YUM!

This is the corner of our yard that I see through the kitchen window when I'm doing dishes.  The picture does not show how pretty it really is.  I need to get out and take pictures of our burning bush trees.  They are all bright red right now.

Meals this week were...

Left over pasta and a salad
Left over beef and veggie stew
Cheese burger and oven fries
BIG salad
Veggie quiche
Chicken chili 

This soup is SO good.  It just makes you feel good to eat a bowl.  It's chicken, chicken stock, northern beans, green chilis, poblanos, jalapenos and garlic.  For spices I use turmeric, cumin, coriander, mexican oregano and smoked paprika. A bowl of this with a good piece of sour dough bread is my kind of comfort food on a cold Fall night.

Well it's time to get busy.  I have a list of things to get done before the week starts.  It's a cloudy and cold day so staying inside won't be difficult.

I hope everyone has a wonderful Sunday!!

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Wednesday W's

What's top of my mind: 1st world problems but top of my mind this week is my hair.  I have thick curly hair that grows freakishly fast.  I've been having it colored to keep the gray at bay for a number of years.  In August I talked to my stylist and told him I was sick of having to color it but will not go through the halo grow out.  So, I haven't colored it since August and I have close to two inches of very gray growth.  Next Wednesday is my appointment to have it all blended gray.  I'm not an extremely vain person but going full on gray has touched my emotions a little.  I will be glad when it is done though.

Where I've been:  Again, work and home and no where else.

Where I'm going: We will be going out of town this weekend for our biweekly shopping.  Yes I am a wild one now.

What I'm watching:  I've watched The Great British Baking Show each week and I've been watching a lot of the Christmas baking competitions on Food Network while I cook dinner each night.  We watched a really good movie last weekend but I seriously cannot think of the name now.

What I'm reading:  I have been spending my normal reading time on going through my recipes.  I am determined to get them all together and organized ASAP.

What I'm listening to: I'm appreciating the silence as much as I possibly can.

What I'm eating:  I don't like to keep leftovers in the freezer for more than a month so this week we've had the pasta Monday night and the veggie beef stew last night. There is two more servings of chili that will be chili mac probably Friday.  So that only leaves one more serving of the veggie beef stew that I will probably eat for my lunch tomorrow.

Who needs a good slap: Internet bullies.  I don't go on FB very often but there is a community group that I check on from time to time to see what events are going on in the area and some people ask for recommendations, etc. that are helpful to me.  I only read and never comment but some people make the rudest comments and I just don't understand.  If you have no interest in the topic just scroll on.

What I'm planning:  I've slowly started planning out the next three months of Holidays with lists of foods and activities that I want to be sure and indulge in this holiday season.  The big guy started a month ago talking about looking forward to Brunswick stew after Thanksgiving so now I can't wait either.

What's making me smile: I've been smiling a lot lately just counting my simple pleasure and blessings.  I have a lot to be thankful for.

Share your week in the comments if you'd like.  Stay safe!!

Sunday, November 7, 2021

My Week

 Happy Sunday!!  

We had our first frost on Thursday morning.  It was a pretty heavy one coating everything outside with a layer of white that almost looked like snow.  For today through Saturday highs will be in the 60's with lows in the 40's. The sun has been shining and the sky has been blue.  Perfect weather to me. The leaves are pretty much at their peak and gorgeous.  Southern Illinois really is beautiful.

I finished I'm Cooking as fast as I can.  It was a good book.  Cat Cora was very frank in writing her story.  Yesterday I started Cook, Eat, Repeat by Nigella Lawson.  It is recipes and stories.  Too soon to tell how much I like it.

Our October total spent came in right under $1000.00.  But remember that includes food, household supplies, health and beauty products, pet food and alcohol. We also ate out one time this month and that is also included in the total. The number was also higher because it includes Thanksgiving and Christmas foods.  We could go until January or February without buying anything but dairy and fruits/vegetables but with the shortages and increase in prices we are going to just continue restocking anything we've used every two weeks.  It's nice to know going into the winter weather and cold/flu season that we're OK if we can't shop for a month or so. 

Meals this week...

BBQ chicken legs, garlic mash potatoes and salad
Beef sausage pasta (SO good)
BIG salad
Hot ham and cheese sandwiches with oven fries
Chicken fajitas and spicy rice
Calzones ( prosciutto, peppers, red onions, mushrooms and motz.)

This morning I made bacon and yeast waffles.  I took one strip of bacon and put it in the batter.

They were delicious but we both agreed bacon on the side is our preference.

I'm off to start my day.  Laundry is calling my name loudly.  I hope everyone has a wonderful Sunday!! Stay safe!

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Wednesday W's

What's top of my mind: Recipes.  I have three folders filled with recipes from over the years that have been given to me or that I tore from magazines.  I pulled them out this week and plan to tackle them.  I've started sorting out the ones that I no longer want to try and tossing.  This week I am going to start making one or two each week.  The ones that turn out to be keepers will get placed in my recipe binder.  So expect a lot of new recipes over the next year.  It will be a mix of sides, main courses and desserts.  This will be a fun project.  This has been a project on my list for quite a while and I want to get it done.

Where I've been: Work and home.  Life is very different now.

Where I'm going: Saturday is our bimonthly shopping trip.  We also plan on eating lunch at one of our favorite places which we didn't get to do the last time we went.

What I'm watching:  This past weekend I watched a few Halloween movies again.  I hadn't seen Beetlejuice in many years.  Still a cute movie. I also watched Scream again. I haven't seen it since it came out in 1996.  It is a pretty cheesy movie but I did enjoy it.  The film revitalized the slasher film genre in the mid 1990s, similar to the impact Halloween (1978) had on the late 1970s film, by using a standard concept with a tongue-in-cheek approach that combined straightforward scares with dialogue, that satirized slasher film conventions.

What I'm Reading:  I'm still reading Cooking As Fast As I can.

What I'm Listening To: I've been enjoying more silence lately.  It makes it easier to listen to my inner voice.

What I'm Eating: During the summer we eat a lot of light meals and a lot of fresh veggies.  Now that Fall is here the last couple of weeks I've been doing a few batch cooks of meals and I plan on continuing this.  It is nice to have left overs for a lunch or dinner that you can just pull out of the fridge or freezer. It's a huge time saver.

Who Needs A Good Slap: All of the people bashing Alex Baldwin.  I don't know much about him but I believe the terrible accident that happened does not warrant some of the horrible things being said.  I mean some of the meme's people have created are just horrendous.  How did society get so cruel?

What I'm Planning: I've started planning out November and December.  These are two of my favorite months with a lot of seasonal activities that I really enjoy.  I want to make sure and really embrace them as time seems to fly by if I don't pay attention. 

What's Making Me Smile: The cool air, the bright blue sky and all of the fall colors on the leaves.

Sunday, October 24, 2021

My Week

 Happy Sunday!  How is it already the last week of October?  

This week I tested out a new routine and it went quite well.  By just adding a couple of things off my to do list to my weekday routine I was able to spend a lot more time this weekend just relaxing or working on other projects that I have going.  Just being mindful of my time made a big difference.  Friday I came home at 12 and I actually took a nap.  I NEVER take naps but it was gloomy and chilly and perfect for curling up in bed and taking a long one.

The weather here is like a roller coaster ride.  Cool, cold, warm, hot.  Our first frost date is October 15th and we have had none. Today it is supposed to get up to 80 and then storms bringing in a cold front.  Between 10pm and 6am tonight we have the potential for some severe weather which I don't care for.

I still have a lot of lettuce and herbs growing.  Today I am going to go out and pick most of it just in case we have high winds.  This Spring I planted my large rosemary plant in the yard.  It grew quite a bit this summer and looks really good.  I hope it makes it through the winter.  We are in the proper zone to have rosemary year round but with the crazy weather lately I hope we don't get an unusually cold winter.

Monday evening I made brownies.  I used the Ghiradelli cocoa, walnuts and a little flaky Maldon salt on top and they were so good.

Yesterday I made an apple pie.  I cheated and instead of making a top crust or doing the lattice work I used an apple cookie cutter to cute out dough for the top.  It worked well and filled out nicely after baking.  Sadly the big guy cut into it before I got a picture of the baked pie. Warm apple pie with vanilla ice cream is perfect for a fall dessert.

Dinners this week:

Chicken fajita with rice and a cheese, cilantro roll up.

Left over sloppy Joes, oven fries

Left over chili, cornbread

Bacon and waffles.  This is the same yeast waffle batter I've posted before.  I usually make them in the Belgian waffle maker but decided to use the regular one because these waffles freeze so well and can easily be reheated in the toaster.  We ended up with 8 for the freezer to enjoy throughout the next week or two.

Cod, scalloped potatoes and coleslaw

Beef sausage, mini penne pasta and salad. This was my favorite dish all week, it was that good.

Well, I'm off to start my day.  I'm making buttermilk pancakes for breakfast then heading outside before the rains come.

Have a great day and stay safe!

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Wednesday W's

What's top of my mind: Routines.  Somehow in the last few years I have gotten out of a solid routine and I'm working hard to get that straightened out.  I'm really focusing this week and probably next to see just how I can best make use of my time and have the work/life balance that I used to have. My work schedule has me home by 2:30 every afternoon and I accrue quite a bit of PTO so this should be more than doable.

Where I've been: I went to the library this week to pick up two books that I requested.  Other than that I have been only to work and home so far this week.

Where I'm going: Saturday we are going to the pumpkin patch.  I want a few more pumpkins to finish off our front porch. We always carve one for Halloween but the others usually make it through Thanksgiving unless there is a deep freeze. I love having a festive and inviting front porch.

What I'm watching: I've been watching the new releases of Great British Baking Show which are always fun.  I also re-watched several episodes of The Chef Show on Netflix.  If you haven't watched this series you should.  Roy Choi and Jon Favreau visit many different chefs in a type of cooking travelogue. Their friendship started when Jon Favreau had Choi mentor him for his movie Chef. My favorite episode is when they visit Christina Tosi at Milk Bar.  She gives amazing tips on making your baking even better. If you don't have Netflix I think this series is also on You Tube.

What I'm reading: One of the books I picked up this week is Cooking As Fast As I Can by Cat Cora.  I've only  just started but I can tell it is going to be a pretty good read.

What I'm listening to: My inner voice.  It has been reminding me to embrace every single day and to celebrate each and every day.  It's so important not to get caught up in the mundane meaningless b.s. that seems to be increasing by the day here in the US.

What I'm eating:  Now that Fall weather has arrived my soup, stew and chili challenge has restarted.  A big bonus to this is I try to make freezer friendly varieties and the left overs on nights I want to save time on cooking are a big bonus. 

Who needs a good slap:  Blogger.  Typing this post out has been more difficult than it should be. 

What I am planning: This week, other than my schedule and my routine, I'm not planning anything.

What is making me smile:  The Full Harvest Moon.  I love the fall and winter months because the moon can easily be seen  coming up from most of our windows.  Then in the morning it is shining right outside my office window at work.  Last night and this morning the moon was amazing!

Hope everyone is staying safe and enjoying their week!!

Sunday, October 17, 2021

My Week

Good sleeping weather has finally arrived and my AC is finally off hopefully until Spring.  Friday night a cold front blew in and the winds were incredible.  We stepped outside and watched a ton of leaves fly off our neighbors tree only to land in our yard,  It was 37 degrees when I got up this morning but it was still 65 in the house.  I have a couple of windows open now to bring in all of that fresh air. This is my favorite time of year.

In honor of the cold front I made a big batch of chili last night and we had a chili bar for two.  Green onions, cheddar cheese and a small spoonful of sour cream are my favorite toppings. The chili was loaded with our poblano, serrano and tabasco peppers so the toppings helped cool it down just a bit. Instead of making cornbread like I usually do we used oyster crackers for a nice change.  So now I have 8 large servings of chili in the freezer. This one batch of chili made a total of 10 large servings for either lunches or dinners using 1 pound of local grass fed ground beef that was 5.99 .  Not bad at all.  You could even stretch it further if you used one serving and made chili dogs or chili mac for two people.  

We did our biweekly shopping yesterday. It was a cool but beautiful sunny day perfect for the ride.  So far in October we have spent 606.64.  That does include everything though.  Food, pet food, health and beauty products, cleaning products and alcohol.  The total this month also includes a 15 pound turkey for Thanksgiving.  I've mentioned before that I have a pretty substantial pantry with I'm estimating 4 months of the items we routinely use.  I'm not a hoarder or a prepper, I just like the insurance of having what we need in the event we can't or don't want to shop for awhile.  It was always important to do this when we lived in Florida and went through hurricane season.  Here it is important to do in case of a winter snow storm or bitter temps that just make you want to stay home. It is a good feeling to not HAVE to go out.

Dinners this week were...

Big salad
Beef Thai soup made with left over beef and bones from the huge beef short ribs I cooked on Sunday that were delicious.  We have 4 more servings in the freezer that all I have to do is add udon or rice noodles and whatever veggies we want.  When I make the Thai soup I don't like to freeze it with the veggies or noodles.  I don't think they hold up well or taste the same as fresh.
Chicken nachos
Bacon cheese burger and Japanese sweet potato "fries"
Tonight I'm not sure yet but it will be something with boneless skinless chicken breasts.

I have a small list of things I need to do today to get ready for the work week.  I also want to bake something but I don't know what yet.  This week I am going to try out a new schedule to hopefully give me a little more life/work/family balance.  Other than our biweekly shopping trips I want my weekends free of to do's and cleaning.  I think I've come up with a routine that will let me finish it through the week leaving my weekends free.  Wish me luck!

Stay safe and have a fabulous Sunday!!

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Wednesday W's

 What's top of my mind:  Winter.   The locals are all talking about the persimmons and what they are predicting for this year.  If you crack open a seed from the ripe fruit and look at the shape inside, it can forecast the winter weather.  If you see a fork, that will be a mild year.  A spoon shape means a lot of snow and the knife represents frigid winds that will 'cut' like a knife.  This year everyone is seeing an abundance of spoons with a few knives, same as last year which had record breaking temps and snow.  We shall see.

Where I've been: Shoe shopping.  I am picky when it comes to shoes.  I want cute, comfortable and good quality.  I hate buying shoes that don't wear well or last long.  I scored two suitable pairs so I'm happy.

Where I'm going: Saturday we will be going out to do our grocery shopping and hopefully an outside table for lunch at Drakes.  We need an outing and I need someone else to cook me a meal for a change. The high temps for Saturday are supposed to be in the 60's so perfect outside eating weather.

What I'm watching: This past weekend I watched Practical Magic and Hocus Pocus to get me in the spirit of the season.  I usually watch Hocus Pocus every year but it's been awhile since I've seen Practical Magic.

What I'm reading: Make Your Bed: Little things that can change your life and maybe the world.  I've only just started and so far it's interesting.

What I'm listening to: We were able to turn the AC off yesterday evening so I enjoyed hearing all the birds on the feeders in the back yard.  This time of year we have such a large variety of birds and butterflies in our area passing through to reach their winter homes.

What I'm eating: I made beef short ribs on Sunday and used the left over meat and bones to make a spicy beef Thai soup last night.  I was SO good I'm having a bowl for lunch today.

Who needs a good slap: I must be feeling pretty mellow right now because I can't think of anyone.

What I'm planning: I'm still working through my fall projects list and cleaning out the garage is scheduled for Sunday.  We don't have much in the garage but it needs a good scrubbing before winter.  I also like to put out fresh peppermint tea bags to discourage the spiders or mice from making a home. They really do work well.  We had a very large spider in our mailbox and I threw a tea bag in to see if it worked and that spider immediately found his way out.

What's making me smile:  The big guy.  He has been making me smile every day for almost 37 years. I got really lucky in the marriage department. 

Stay safe and have a great Wednesday!!

Sunday, October 10, 2021

My Week

Mother Nature is confused this year.  It does NOT feel anything like Fall here.  It's been 10-15 degrees above average all week.  Today is supposed to break a record at 87 degrees.  Needless to say, soup, chili and stews are going to have to wait a bit longer.  Next weekend does look like Fall may make an appearance with cooler temps. and I will welcome them with open arms.

The Birthday luncheon Friday at work was amazing.  Goat curry, chicken and rice.  SO delicious.  I made naan, hummus and black bottom cupcakes.  When we finished lunch we all needed a nap. I'm so glad I had already planned to leave a couple of hours early that day.

Friday night we ordered pizza because my kitchen turned in to a chocolate chip cookie factory.  The big guy was holding a testing Saturday and I agreed to make 80 cookies for the 40 students.  I stopped at Hobby Lobby and picked up a package of individual self sealing cookie bags.  For $1.50 for 50 bags you can't beat it.  Plus it makes it look more professional.  One person even asked where we bought the cookies.

This weekend I pulled out a number of Halloween decorations and my kitchen witch has been hung. She has been around for at least 20 years or more and  makes me smile every time I see her.

Dinners this week:

Fajita chicken, rice, roll ups
Sloppy Joes, oven fries
Chicken sausage, cabbage, potatoes
Egg rolls, rice
BIG salad

Tonight we're having beef short ribs.

Picture with my hand to show how big these ribs are.  Local, grass fed beef is the best.  I will do a post this week showing what I make, how many meals we get from it and the cost per meal.  It isn't as expensive to eat local as some think. Not in our area any way.

We pulled out our collection of Halloween masks.  This is one I wore a couple of years ago with a solid brown t-shirt and brown leggings.  It was cute.  I won't be dressing up this year to hand out candy but I do have a number Halloween t-shirts to sport throughout the month.

Hope everyone has a fabulous week!

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Wednesday W's

Every week two of my favorite bloggers do their Wednesday W's and I really enjoy them so I thought I would start to tag along.  Sporeflections.wordpress and robzillanosd.wordpress I hope you don't mind me crashing the party.

What's top of my mind: My mother.  She has good days and she has really bad days. Dementia is such a cruel disease. I can't help but wonder if this too shall be my fate.

Where I've been: I actually went to a clothing store this week to buy some new pants.  Because of Covid you cannot try anything on at the store so when I got home I found out that all three pair of pants have to be returned because they are freakishly too long.  Now I'm worried if I'm shrinking.

Where I'm going: Besides returning the pants, nowhere but work.

What I'm watching:  The Great British Bake Off 's newest season.

What I'm reading: I'm still working on The Man Who Ate Everything.  It was a pretty rainy week last week and I noticed I didn't read as much since I couldn't go outside.  I need to remind myself to take the time to read even if it is inside. It's not like there aren't a dozen cozy places to curl up and read inside.

What I'm Listening to: Nothing much.  I enjoy the silence.

What I'm eating:  Friday we are having a luncheon for one of the doctors Birthdays.  It will be 'authentic" Indian fair made by one of the good doctors wives which I LOVE.  I am making the dessert.  I think I've settled on black bottom cupcakes.

Who needs a good slap:  Scammers.  I had a text message supposedly from Chase telling me my account needed validating.  It's sad that people do get caught in these traps. 

What I'm planning:  The big guy will be gone for most of the day Saturday so I am planning on having the house all to myself.  I have a number of projects I want to complete before the end of the month so this is perfect timing.

What's making me smile: All of my herbs and lettuces are still growing well so I will get another batch of pesto and more dried herbs before the end of the season.  

Play along in the comments and stay safe!!

Sunday, October 3, 2021

My Week

 Good Morning.  Can you believe we are in October?  The sunflowers in the back yard are at their peak.

The cool weather we had for a week has warmed back up.  It was low's in the 60's with highs in the 80's this week.  Not too bad but I'm ready for a bit cooler so I can open the windows and turn off the AC.  It will be here soon enough I suppose.

We enjoyed our share of BLT's this summer.  This was the last one until next July.  

This week I watched the two new episodes of The Great British Bake Off.  I always look forward to the new episodes.  

I'm still working on finishing the book The Man Who Ate Everything.  Plus I've been searching through my cookbooks for new fall dishes to make. 

It was cool enough last night to eat outside.  The big guy set the table and did a pretty good job of it.  The lamb chops were the last ones we had in the freezer.  We will see what the prices are next spring.  This spring even ground lamb was pretty pricey.

Dinners this week:

Chicken chorizo gumbo and skillet corn bread
Fried chicken breast strips, mashed potatoes, corn on the cob
Cheese burgers and oven fries
Cod, baked potatoes and salad
BLT and zucchini chips
Lamb chops, 3 cheese mac and cheese, salad and dinner rolls

Yesterday we went food shopping.  We actually hadn't been to a store for anything but milk in three weeks.  I'm back to keeping track of what I spend.  I do not break it up though so my totals include food, health and beauty, cleaning supplies, alcohol and pet food.
At Walmart we spent $204.07and at Fresh Thyme we spent $131.10.  I love Fresh Thymes receipts because they break it down into categories such as produce, meat, dairy, etc.  We don't buy any packaged or processed foods except for probably crackers so our items are all staples and ingredients for meals, desserts, snacks.

I've mentioned here before that at least twice a year I go through everything.  Every cabinet, closet, drawer, etc.  Well it is that time again. I'm not exactly a minimalist but I do not like a lot of stuff.  Memorabilia and family items that have been passed down are the one thing that is a bit hard for me to get rid of.  I don't like having things that we don't use.  I have a number of items that haven't been used in awhile.  Since 2020 and 2021 was a bust as far as BBQ's, parties, etc.  I am going to keep certain items and if by the end of 2022 (assuming it will be a bit more 'normal') they haven't been used I will let them go.
I know a lot of people sell items on different sights or heaven forbid have a yard sale but I keep a large bag or box that I put things in throughout the year.  When it is full I take it to our local Good Will.  I had one yard sale probably 8 years ago and I promised myself I would NEVER do that again. 
In my closet, I do the turned hanger trick.  If any hangers haven't been turned around with in the year that item goes.

Jet turned 15 on Wednesday.  Where does the time go.  Sometime I'll do a post on Jet's life.  It's been pretty interesting. Happy Birthday buddy!

Enjoy your Sunday and stay safe!!