Friday, August 26, 2016

So...we are buying some land...

For months now, Hubby and I have been talking about our Plan B - what we would like Life to look like after the last bird leaves the nest.  And to that end, he's been researching land for sale in the Texas Hill Country.  And I think he found a winner - a 5 acre lot in Burnet county, with two other smaller parcels that gain us access to the boat launch owned by the property owner's association.
 Entering the driveway from the road.
OK, this is where the country driveway takes a turn, literally and figuratively.  One of the previous owners was a distributive education instructor.  So there are loads of BIG trash on the property.  Like boats.  And tires.  And empty tanks.  And trailers.  And other stuff I don't even know what it is.  For now, let's just continue the tour...
The paved road ends and a crushed stone drive begins.  And so do beautiful views.  See the speck of blue just there?
 Hills and trees!
 Cacti!  And, we do have neighbors, but you pretty much can't see them, and they can't see you...
 Gratuitous pic of my hiking boots
 About the only sounds you hear up here are motorboats on the lake, far below.
Hubby put on some pants protectors to take me on a walking tour.  As you can see, the more excited he got about it the further ahead of me he progressed - I was still worried about tripping over cacti and rocks!
 Another pretty view.  That's Lake Buchanan.
We were told there is a flock of wild turkeys up here, and other critters like foxes and the occasional bobcat or mountain lion.  And we saw plenty of scat, but no critters.
 The property is bordered on one side by a county road, and surrounded by ranch land on the back.  Lots of trees - mostly oak and cedar.
 My favorite shot:
Notice the absence of trash in the pictures...I will show that next time, if we happen to get financing and go out there again to show the boys.  But the owner agreed to clear most of it away as a condition of the sale (the biggest stuff) and the rest we either keep to use, recycle, sell, or haul off.
Along the way we talked about perhaps building there some day.  We don't have to decide that right now - as long as we have the first piece of the puzzle, we can fit the rest together later.  And we can take Mabel out there a few times and get the feel of it - where does the sun hit and when?  That sort of thing. 
On the way back out, I spot a pile of rock gravel we can use to augment the road up to the top of the property.  And a nice shady oak.  Not pictured:  a rock "cliff" that surrounds the property from the county road side, landscaped by ferns - so pretty.  Wish us luck - every time Hubby and I attempt something like this, that we just "feel" is right, it seems to work out for the best.  And every time, I'm amazed that I'm a grown up that can do such things!  Ha!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

On the road with Mabel - New Mexico travelin' and Cimarron

{I guess I should tie up the loose ends of our summer trip in Mabel, seeing as how fall is about to be upon us!} 
After Palo Duro, we made our way west.  The one thing you notice when you are in New Mexico is that things stretch out forever, just like in West Texas.  And there is very little traffic on two lane highways.  And zero big rigs!  And zero trees!
 And one minute you are travelin' along, enjoying seeing the mesas in the distance...
 ...the next minute you are closer and what's that you see?  Storm clouds!  It pretty much rained daily.  Which was wonderful coming from the drought and heat in Central Texas.
  Beautiful scenery, cloudy days included.
 By late lunchtime we had found our way to Cimarron.
On the way through Cimarron, we stopped at the Cree-Mee Drive-In for a plate of wonderful enchiladas - heck, once you make me wait that long for lunch, any enchiladas will do.  Hey look, there are scouts in here!
 The main drag of Cimarron is less than a mile long, and since the population is just over one thousand, we didn't see many people out and about.  Looks eerily like a ghost town in places.  After a few days in Angel Fire, we returned to Cimarron to meet up with Bubbie, fresh off the trail.
We did some shopping and bopping around.  The people we did meet were very friendly and there was a neat shop with lots of old scout memorabilia.
Another shop was in an old mercantile building and had a soda fountain, along with this wall of scout patches from years of young men going through Philmont. Very neat!
We mostly just puttered around.  Although we did buy patches to sew on Hubby's camping cook's apron.  We also visited an old mill, but of course I forgot to take pictures!
We stopped by a "haunted" hotel called the St. James.  Seems like everywhere we went, there were flowers blooming - so much beautiful color.
And no mosquitos or flies!
 The road from Cimarron to Eagle's Nest comes with some awesome scenery.
I should have taken more pics - again, too busy to fiddle with my camera or phone!  Plus, I was so out of breath the entire time we were in New Mexico - I never got used to the altitude.
Bubbie looked tired but happy - what an accomplishment!  We gave him an iced gallon zip-loc of Snickers to share with his trek mates and took him shopping at the trading post.
 Mount Baldy: 
 My kid made it to the top of that mountain! 
Next up: exploring Eagle's Nest!

Monday, August 22, 2016

What the week holds and artful magnets for the fridge

Last week I got a 10 magnet freebie from a photo site I frequent.  Just few days before I was sitting in the breakroom at work thinking about what a glum place it is.  We used to have a bulletin board long ago and folks would bring pics of their kids in.  For some reason we don't do that anymore - maybe because people have pics on their individual lockers.   We have two full size fridges in the breakroom now with silly pizza take out magnets on them.   I figured now was a good time to take advantage of  the deal. 
 So I "borrowed" some of my favorite pics from my favorite photographer's website
 and had five 3x5 magnets made to add some beauty to those refrigerators.
 This one of the dragonfly is one of Scout's favorites.
 All of them are so restful and beautiful - just the thing you want in a breakroom at work.
The one above is my personal fav - a reminder that cooler days, and the holidays, are just around the corner.  This week is the beginning of the school year here in Austin and the last year I will have a kid in public school!  Tuesday I have a webinar to watch for CEU's, and evening practice for my band kid. There is a departmental meeting at work (on my day off - yuck) and the first football game of the season on Thursday.  Then a morning band practice for my kid on Thursday and Friday.  Interspersed in there will be getting my house cleaned and some projects done.  Busy, but I much prefer it that way!  
What does your week look like?

Friday, August 19, 2016

Freezer Meals #16

This is the week I like to refer to as The Last Gasp of Summer.  Not really for me, for the kids.  And at my house there is only one going back to school.  The last kid.  For his last year.  I can't think too hard on that right now, it makes me sad...
But on Wednesday I happily cleaned out the pantry, throwing out expired and terrible stuff  (hello, summer sausage from Hubby's Christmas stocking) and made out my grocery list for some easy meals. 
 Mischief managed in the pantry - breakfast foods are ready... well as the baskets I have to organize everything from granola bars to popcorn, ramen and pasta, and potatoes and onions. I cleaned out the fridge and freezer, too.  I found things here and there to use up: a bag of frozen veg I forgot I had, the rest of the container of ketchup, etc.  Frugality and meal planning all in one!  Here's what I made:
A quick trip to HEB and $65 for 11 meals

Sweet Garlic Chicken
(go here for the recipe)

Beef Veggie and Rice Soup
1 1/2 lbs. ground beef, cooked and drained
1/2 small onion, chopped
1 bag frozen soup veggies (um, mine was from the holidays...)
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes, undrained
3 cubes beef bouillon
1 t Italian seasoning
1 c. instant rice
Add all to gallon zip-loc. Write on the outside of the bag "add 5-6 c. water in crock pot".
Cook on low in crock 4-6 hours.

Sloppy Joes
I followed my go-to recipe, but I made sure to use up all of the dabs of ketchup and mustard I had on hand for two batches.  If you don't have a go-to recipe, brown and drain 1 1/2 pounds ground beef, add a half and onion, a half a cup BBQ sauce and ketchup, a tablespoon each of Worchestershire sauce and prepared mustard, and about a teaspoon of celery salt.  You can also add a tablespoon or so of brown sugar, and some garlic, if you want to get all fancy.  Simmer it.  Cool it, then put in a zip-loc in your freezer.  Thaw, simmer, eat.

Taco Meat
I browned 3 pounds ground beef, drained it, then added a packet of HVR mix I happened to want to get rid of along with some homemade taco seasoning, and a can of Rotel and half a jar of salsa that was lurking in the fridge.  I divided this into two containers for the freezer, and will thaw, simmer, and serve in taco shells or on taco salads (my personal fav).

Ham and Cheese Party Sammies
I bought some sweet rolls for sammies.  Split them and brushed the insides with melted butter mixed with Worchestershire, brown sugar, and grainy mustard.  Then I slathered on the swiss and ham.  Reassembled the rolls, brushed with more butter, and sealed in foil.  These will bake for about 30 minutes at 300 degrees on delay bake as we make our way home from a football game.

Curry Meatballs
I added one tablespoon of curry powder and 1/2 t of smoked paprika to can of Golden Mushroom soup then poured it over prepared meatballs in a gallon zip-loc.  I will simmer these on the stove one night and serve over rice.

Lemon Garlic Chicken
3 large chicken breasts, cut in half
4 big cloves garlic, chopped
1 T dried parsley flakes
1/4 c olive oil
juice from one big lemon
Add to gallon zip-loc, cook on low from frozen, 6-8 hours.  Might serve this with garlicky pasta.

Mrs. Ringle's Brisket
I slathered mustard all over a brisket and sprinkled a packet of onion soup all over it.  This goes in a gallon zip-loc.  Cook on low 10-12 hours.  (I'm sure I will cook this one, from frozen, on a weekend when I work, as the cook time is looong.)  Slice and serve with BBQ fixin's.
I made sure we were stocked on zip-locs, wraps, and clips.  And now we have a clean pantry and a full freezer.  Bring on the school year.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Fruited Chicken Salad

I came across a recipe I wanted to try for an easy summer meal - no oven required!  I already had most of the ingredients, so I subbed out a couple and came up with my own version.  Go here for the original recipe - this lady has all kinds of good cooking going on her blog!

Fruited Chicken Salad
3-4 cups cooked diced chicken (I used a mix of canned, with rotisserie from my freezer)
1 c. celery, chopped
1 small apple, chopped (I used Gala)
1/2 c. dried cranberries and 1/2 c. dried blueberries
1 t dried thyme
1 t dried dill
1 t. lemon pepper seasoning
1 c. olive oil mayo

This recipe used up some dibs and dabs of things I needed to use up, including some chicken from the freezer and the rest of a bag of craisins.  I could also have added pecans or slivered almonds - yum.
 You could adjust these seasonings to make this salad your own - I left out the poultry seasoning that was in the original, in favor of just thyme and dill.  But to make it even easier, I could have used some of my homemade ranch mix from the fridge.  And if I'd lemony mayo on hand, I could have skipped the lemon pepper, however, we do love lemon pepper around here!
  Chop everything and add to  a large bowl; add to that the seasonings
Give it a toss to make sure the fruit or chicken isn't in a clump.  Then stir in the mayo thoroughly, cover, and chill.
I set mine out with a loaf of bread and some grapes - we were out of chips, but that's just as well!  It made for a great summer dinner and one I will make again! 


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