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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Chilly Day at the Park

This morning I woke up to a sore throat, the Mister has been sick since the weekend. It was bound to happen. I have barely an immune system, so I always get what's going around.

But! I promised the teen yesterday that we would go to the park and pay Frisbee and fly kites, and if you have an aspie - you never go back on a promise. Ever.

So I sucked it up, made lunches, packed water (coffee for me), sweatered the dog and away we went.

We had a great time.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Miss Them

I just miss you, in a quite simple desperate human way. 
I miss you even more than I could have believed; 
and I was prepared to miss you a good deal. 
So this letter is really just a squeal of pain. 
Vita Sackville-West


Missing my little brother today. And my grandparents. When I clean my mantle, I see their faces again. So many things that went unsaid. Time that passed where I was forced not to see them. Not allowed. Not welcome.

So, in their passing I've had to try to come to terms with a lot. I get peace when I can almost audibly hear them. Popo calling me "Piggie". Gaga singing my name they way she always did. Gio laughing. I can hear it like it's in the next room sometimes. Or wake up as if they're inches from my ear other times. 






Friday, December 26, 2014

Merry Christmas!

*I'll preface this post by saying do not pay attention to my old, worn dishes. They've been used well, some for more than twenty years and it shows. I will never get rid of them! lol



Last year, after Christmas, someone put up an offer for a TALL BIG Christmas tree on Freecycle.

 (If you don't know what that is, it's MAGIC! Google Freecyle in your area to find one. It's a Yahoo based group for people to post and request items for free pick up. Baby items, phones, furniture, ANYTHING! It's wonderful! I've put up clothes and an old Christmas tree myself...a lot of items. Helping others is an awesome thing.)

Ok...so my husband went and picked it up and when he got home I was a big flabbergasted. Two huge storage containers contained the tree. I didn't do anything but check the boxes to make sure it looked like everything was there. I opened it up and laid it all out, yup every branch! So cool!

When I went to put it up this year, I astounded at how gorgeous it was! We've not had a big tree (or the space for one) in years. It was so exciting for me, a free tree....a free gorgeous tree! It's not pre-lit, but who cares!?


I just love it! And so do the cat and the dog, which led me to putting tin foil under it so they didn't destroy it. Also, the angel has been renamed Drunk Angel because even with my step stool I couldn't properly reach the top to secure her. She's always tilted in one direction or another.

A few days was fine, he slept under the tree....

Then this little stinker thought it would be great fun to chase the cat
under and around the tree....

Nope!

Still running around the house like crazies.....



I did the mantle and the yard...it was very slow goings this year. This fibro/RA/Shingles ridden body moves very slow these days.

Stockings (minus the college kid's because she's not given it back yet) and
the animal's stockings hanging together. 

One day I will get lights on the top part of the house.
Ladder. I need a ladder. 
The blow ups kill me. I love them. 
This year I missed the lights going up the walk to the front
patio area, but it was a crazy time with filling orders at
DawnMoodyDesign and life. LOL


Now, on to the food.

I have no recipes for these. They're pretty much staples that I make every year.

The first is the 'Breakfast Casserole'.  This is a mish mosh of whatever you would eat with a breakfast...toast, eggs, bacon, cheese. I make it the night before, the bread soaks up the eggs and it cooks up almost like a souffle. Delish!

 I added onions and mushrooms and cheese on top. What you do is get bread....white, wheat....whatever, and lay slices to fill the bottom of a casserole dish. Greasing or buttering the dish is up to you. Then I get about a dozen eggs, sprinkle with salt and pepper and add in a little milk and whisk it all up. Meanwhile saute some onions and mushrooms in a little butter and season and fry some bacon. (I used turkey bacon)

Chop up the bacon and mix with the veggies. pour the eggs over the bread, sprinkle everything else on that and top with shredded cheese. Cover and let it sit in the fridge overnight. In the morning I took it out and topped it with thinly sliced tomatoes and baked it at 350 for about a half hour.





For the rest of the food (minus the turkey) I prepare the day before. Christmas Eve and Turkey Day Eve is when I do my heavy cooking. There's no reason you can't put casseroles together the day before and just bake them off the next day. Totally worth it!

For my stuffing or dressing (either way you call it)....this is a no recipe either. It's from helping my mother and grandmother every year growing up. Cornbread (I make 3 to 4 recipes), chicken stock, onions, celery, boiled eggs (about 3), sage, thyme and salt and pepper to taste.

After I bake the cornbread and it's cooled a bit, I crumble it up and put it in my big pot. And by 'big pot' I mean it's a lobster pot....very deep....so in order to get a good, firm leverage with the stirring I have to put it on the floor.

This is my daughter helping out.


Into the pot with the cornbread, sage, thyme, salt and pepper, onions, celery (that's been sauteed) and stock. For me, the wetter the better. (It will bake off and keep your dressing from being so dry)  Then we taste it. We both stand there (my daughter and I) with spoons in hand tasting, adding more salt or pepper, more sage, more stock....until we are pleased.  Then into a dish, covered and into the fridge!

I bake it at 350 for about 45 minutes or until it's golden brown on top and heated through.



Now, the gravy. There's always a debate on just how to say it. My husband said Giblet with a hard 'g' sound. I Giblet with a 'j' sound. I'm right. So there.

This is easy but so delicious. When I am taking everything out of the turkey butt, neck and giblet bag, I immediately put it into a pot with water and cook them. Then I remove them, throw everything away but the neck, of which I pluck every piece of meat from that I can and add that back to the pot. While that was boiling away, I saute onions and celery and then add that to the pot. Previously I boiled some eggs and those get peeled and chopped and added.  I season it with salt and pepper and thyme and sage. Then, I get a mason jar and fill it almost halfway with water and put quite a bit of flour in it, put on the lid and shake the dickens out of it. While the pot is boiling I pour it in and stir. This will thicken the gravy without lumps. If it's too thick, add milk and water. If it's too thin, do the flour/water again.

*I don't have a photo of gravy but it was devoon. 

This year instead of mashed tators, I made mac and cheese. Again, so simple it should be a sin.  The sauce is made from a butter/flour roux. Equal parts butter and flour, then add milk to make a sauce consistency. Salt and pepper and paprika are then added. Then add however much grated cheese and whatever cheeses you desire. I did two blocks of cheddar and sharp. (one each)  Stirred until it's all smooth and poured it over cooked macaroni noodles. I put that into a dish, covered and cooked it the next day...same as the stuffing.



Now, the green beans. It wasn't until I put together the casserole that I realized we didn't get the fried onions for the top. Fail. I had already sent the mister to the store several times that day and I wasn't about to ask him again. So it's not a pretty casserole.

Easy peasy, two bags of frozen green beans (thawed). Two cans cream of mushroom soup. Three tbsp of soy sauce. Sauteed mushrooms. Mix and plop in a dish. Same thing...fridge, cook, eat.


Now, the turkey. We call the turkey the BoobyBird. Oranges or mandarins, cut in half and put on the breasts under the skin. I don't put anything on my turkey. Rosemary inside. That's it. I baste ONCE about thirty minutes before I take it out of the oven. I've never had a dry bird.

I cover the entire bird for the first two hours. The last hour and a half I cover just the boobs....they'll burn. We don't want burned boobies, y'all.



The puppy didn't take a breathe I think the whole time he was carving the bird.


For dessert I made an apple tart. It's not goopy, dripping in sugar. It's light and sweet. After a HUGE meal, the last thing I want is a heavy dessert. I also don't cook it until the apples are mush. I like them with a little bite to them. 

I made a simple butter crust and patted it in the bottom. 
I layered apples all around and filled up the middle. It had two layers. 
On top of each layer I sprinkle cinnamon and sugar.
On the top layer I put a few pats of butter then baked it.
350 for about an hour.





I also made my husband's gifts this year. This is one of them and I thought I'd share. I made concrete coasters. We have a TON of beer bottle tops. I'm making a table with some and I chose several others for this. I mixed up some quickset and poured it into jewelry boxes. You can find them at the dollar stores....they are the perfect coaster size. Before it set, I plopped in the caps and pounded them all against my desk to get the bubbles out and they were ready to be popped out the next day. 

He has coasters already but they annoy all of us. They don't soak up any liquid from the cups and when
they get wet, the cup gets suctioned on and drops midway down scaring us all.
I guess he could pay more attention to when he picks up a glass to see of the coaster is attached, but
come on people, he's a man. I'm past trying to train him on everything.


Then this cutie was passed out. Too much excitement. 



Merry Christmas!

....and a Merry Christmas to Me!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Can You Dig It?

Today is a gloomy, very cold (For Central Texas), windy and grey day. I love days like this. I'm a winter, SO not a summer.

So, I decided it's the perfect day to watch Head.

I've loved the Monkees since I was a young teenager, thanks to the reruns of their shows from the sixies that played in the eighties. My cousin and I went nutso for them. Went to every concert in town when they came for their anniversary shows we could. Ah, memories.

There's a song from the movie, Can You Dig It?. Featured on their soundtrack to the movie, Head, released in 1968.  This portion of the movie was my motivation for my Halloween costume the year I first saw the movie, which was 1986.




Belly Dancer. My mom made the costume and I even carried a tape player with me with a tape playing this song. Mind you, these were the days before iPods, so it was a hand held tape recorder/player. I'm sure I was the only person who got what the song was, what it was from or why it went with my costume.

That was totally fine with me.



This was probably my favorite Halloween ever. Thank, Monkees.

Friday, December 12, 2014

The Monkee's Coraline Inspired Cake

The birthday girl asked for a Coraline cake months ago.



So I tried to fulfill her wishes, the best I could. I am not a baker cake maker cake boss by any means. I forgot the white candle holders. I forgot to do the scroll work at the bottom. Not perfect at all. BUT....I did the best I could! lol

Working with a goopy buttercream wasn't easy. But basically it's a three layer devil's food cake with chocolate icing and a pink buttercream with extra milk to make it goopy and piped down the sides like it's dripping and covering the top.

The easiest way to make layer cakes is to use parchment paper
or wax paper in the bottom of the pan.

Cut to size, 

Put into the pans, 


Oil the pan and put in the paper and oil
the paper and sides of the pan. 


Voila!

Easy flip, 

And pull off the paper!

Simple buttercream.
1lb of powder sugar
1 stick of butter
1 capfull of vanilla (I use Mexican Vanilla)
2-3 tbsp milk (more or less depending on how you want the
consistency)
And I used red food coloring for the pink. 

Then build your layers!


Time for the goop.


I used this tip for the drippies. 

There you have it! She seemed happy, so that made me happy! 



Then after she blew out her candles, I had a surprise with this!






Birthday Breakfast

Eighteen.

My baby girl turns 18 today.

I can still remember delivering her, pulling her out myself (I had a very awesome proactive doctor) and lying her on my chest. 26 hours of labor. But it was all worth it. The hardest I've ever worked in my life. Totally worth it.

I still can't believe it. Eighteen years.

Ok. I'll stop. Whew.

I've done this the past couple of years or so, letter pancakes. Generally they get whatever they want for their birthday breakfast - a literal tower of donuts (I toothpick them together to make a tower or cake shape with candles). Whatever. But, this one loves pancakes.

I'll apologize in advanced for the crappy pics - it's hard to take pics and try to not burn teeny pancakes apparently.

NORMALLY I use a soft squeeze bottle...but as luck would have it
this morning, I couldn't find it. 
Honey bear it is.
Not cool for my RA, by the way. 

Teeny Pancake Letters

HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

Mama gets regular pancakes.