Saturday, June 29, 2013

Missing the boys

I did my darndest to stay busy this week while the boys were at camp.  Still, it's hard to fill the hours without running out of steam and I do miss them.  Hubby and Scout have been prepping for summer camp for months.  Hubby lost weight, has been working out, and both of them have been to multiple "shakedowns" to make sure  they were outfitted correctly.
This is how Sunday at 4:45 a.m. looked - Philmonters bright and bushy-tailed on our way to the drop site.  It will be fun to see what they look like in two weeks...After dropping these two off on the other side of Austin, it was time to head home to get Bubbie up and at the park by 8 a.m. for his drop-off.  Here he is with his orange backpack looking ready to roll.  And then I headed in to work til 7:30 p.m.  Very anti-climatic.
So far, I've had no news since Monday from the the Philmont crew, but understand from a friend at Bear Creek that Bubbie is having a great time.  The biggest complaint?  The food.  Nothing like camp food to make you appreciate mom's cooking, right?
See you this afternoon, Bubbie.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Patio maintenance

I've always been the type to turn an simple project into an all-day doing.  I can' help it - one task leads to another.  eventually I wind up exhausted and sometimes, but not always, I did a great job and am happy with the result.  No matter the twists and turns I took to get there.
 Today I tackled this hideousness.  A dirty, mildewy patio.  Full of dust, spider webs, leftover leaves and pollen...No wonder we don't hang out here more.
 And this train wreak of a firewood harp.  Still full of an unopened bag of pinon pine and kindling and leaves and oak pollen.  Making a rusty mess of the slab.  That I will spray paint, then store the kindling elsewhere.
 Oh, look...spray paint evidence...well I will do the best I can with that, but it really needs a good power washing.
And a dirty deck that needs some TLC  and repairs.  Some day it WILL get repaired.  Today is not that day.
 I started by moving as much stuff as I could from the patio and deck.  See that storage thingy in the background?  It's all of Hubby's assorted BBQ stuff.  Behind it lives several folding tables.  All of it got washed and jet-sprayed.
 Why not wash all the chairs and tables and loungers you say?  OK!  See what I mean about a project morphing?  I picked up twigs, blew and raked leaves, scrubbed furniture and the underside of the patio roof,  scrubbed and bleached the deck and slab.  It was getting to be mid-90's outside.  So every now and again I chugged water and sprayed myself with the hose.  I also added some brick to a little space to store the hose reel thingy, and jet sprayed the landscape lights.
 When it was dry, I added a pretty new rug, watered my poor sad plants and moved this lavendar out of the direct sun.  I even got a little of the rust stains up.  
 Put all of the furniture back and cranked up the umbrella to dry - 
heck yes, I spray washed that, too!
 Admired my 'clean enough for now' deck, with it's newly cleaned chairs and cushions.
Along the way I noted several other things I need to do out here, but for now, it's too hot to do much more.  The slab was dry in record time!  It will be nice with the breezes blowing through, so maybe we'll actually come out here more often.

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Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Catch Up Tuesday

At most, I've managed to catch up on a little sleep and some chores while the boys are on Day #3 of camp.  Though I have grand plans and projects to work on, I have to keep reminding myself that I'm under no pressure to do anything other than what I WANT to do.  Working extra hours aside, that is.  Last night and today I worked on freezer meals while watching Les Miserables with The Girl.  Went to bed late, slept in.  Fabulous. And here's what I fixed for the freezer:
Baked Beans and Hamburger 
Cook 1/2 lb bacon, diced with 1 lb. ground beef,  Drain,  Add 1 can diced tomatoes, 2 cans pork&beans, 1/2 chopped onion, season to taste, place in freezer bag.  Cook on low in crock 4 to 6 hours.

Slow Cooker Pot Roast - Placed all ingredients in freezer bag.  Will cook on low 6-8 hours.

Shredded Pork for Tacos
Placed in freezer bag: 3-4# pork roast, 2 onions chopped, 4 serrano chilies quartered, 3 garlic gloves, salt, pepper, 2 c. water.  Will cook on low 6-8 hours.

Chicken Pot Pie (to fix with dumplings)
I cooked and de-boned chicken thighs for this.  Will use half of the chicken, add a creamy stew base with frozen veggies, and make dumplings from Bisquick, stovetop.
To me, freezing in "blobs" makes it easier to plop it into the crock pot before I leave for work - my crock pot will over-cook it otherwise...

Turkey Pesto Meatballs - I can cook pasta to go with it the day I serve it.

Stuffed Italian Shells with marinara and fresh tomatoes.  Will thaw and bake.

Stuffed Chicken and Green Chili shells with Bechamel
For the filling on these I used 1/2 of the chicken I had cooked, added in some chopped green chilies, salt, pepper, a little grated mozzarella, and topped with creamy Bechamel.  Will post recipe soon!

Honey Garlic Chicken - All ingredient in freezer zip loc, then 6-8 hours on low.

Strawberry Bread
Apple Bread
(These were for mornings it is just too hot to turn on the oven!)

 Even after all that cooking, I still had a little space left, so I bought some Hawaiian bread rolls to make pulled pork sammies with - I have some that's already bagged and ready for the crock pot.  I think the freezer is comfortably full now and I won't stress about what's for dinner on the Fridays and Mondays that I work.  Now, it's off to the pool...

Friday, June 21, 2013

Banana Jam

 We ran out of jam yesterday morning while eating the scones from a mix that Scout made me for Mother's Day, so jam-making got moved up on My List.  We made some berry jam straight from the Sure-Gel recipe booklet.  But I also wanted to make something a little different - something we've never tried before.  So, I dug out my favorite cookbook and found this gem:

Aunt Henry's Easy Banana Jam 
6 very ripe bananas, mashed
juice of 6 lemons
1 c. sugar per cup of banana and lemon mixture

Mix in 2 qt. saucepan and cook on low heat for one hour.  After an hour, I raised the heat and brought it to a boil for one minute, then poured into a sterilized canning jar and set it out to cool.  You can refrigerate or seal with parafin.
 Ummmm...chunks of sweet banana in banana jam!  
I taste-tested it after it cooled - very good!
Can't wait to try this on a PBJ or waffles...or even more scones.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Lemon Cake

I had the best of intentions for making this cake for Father's Day...but intentions only get you so far when you've worked all day and can barely eat your dinner at 8 p.m. then fall into bed.  Such is the weekend life for me..
 This is another oldie and goodie from my MIL, Marie.  Years ago, she let me rifle through her recipe cards and pick the ones I wanted.  Can you imagine?  Like going through a treasure chest!

Lemon Cake
1 package yellow cake mix
1 c. apricot nectar
4 egg yolks, whites reserved
3/4 c. oil
2 T lemon extract

Preheat the oven to 350 and grease a Bundt pan.
Beat ingredients for about 5 minutes.  Stiffly beat the 4 egg whites and fold gently into batter.
Bake for 50 minutes.  Cool 10 minutes, invert onto plate and poke a few small holes in the top.  Mix 1 1/2 c. powdered sugar with the juice and grated rind of one lemon.  Pour over warm cake.  Cool and slice.
It was worth waiting until Monday night to bake - and even better to eat some with Tuesday breakfast!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Mealplan Monday #65 and Happy Campers

 Bubbie, ca. 2005

It's the second full week of summer vacay and GO week for my campers.  I am also working a little extra, so I wanted cooking to be easy.  Most of these menu items are "Combo Locos" at HEB - buy one thing get another free.  Free is good. Plus, I am using up some stuff in the freezer so I can clean it out while the boys are gone.  While they are gone I am not cooking - so I'll  probably post restaurant reviews instead of menus! And I will put together some freezer meals to help tide us through "mom working Friday through Monday until July 22"...
Monday - Chicken Fajita Salad, chips and That Green Sauce
Tuesday - Creamy Italian Sausage with chard and pasta, garlic toast
Wednesday - Shrimp in garlic and lemon butter, coleslaw, corn, rolls
Thursday - Chili Nachos, avocado, tomato, green onion
Friday - Crock Pot Honey Garlic Chicken, mashed reds, green beans
Saturday - Grilled sausage wraps and the fixin's
Sunday - Fully Cooked Burgers, chips
 My front room is a mess.  For real.  It's T minus 6 days until they leave and the piles aren't moving too much.
 It looks like this every year, so I'm used to it.

Friday, June 14, 2013


 My mother is a great cook - and one who could make the most of leftover anything.
I want to share her "method" here for a meal using leftover roast or other meat - she always called it Goulash when I was growing up.
Start with the leftover meat (here I have Italian Drip Beef a la Pioneer Woman), a potato per person, an onion, a bell pepper, about 1/2 c. ketchup, some steak sauce - your choice - and some seasoning.  Not pictured is water.
 Heat some olive oil to medium heat in a large pot - whatever you can make stew in.
 Chunk up the potatoes and add them in.  DO NOT STIR.  The potatoes will loosen from the pan in a few minutes and in the meantime, they will develop a browned, carmel-y crust,  Yum.
 See?  So much flavor.
 After the potatoes are browned a bit, add in the chunked up onion and bell pepper.  Don't cut them up all fancy - 1 inch chunks are ok.  Add some garlic, too, if you like,  We like.
 Add the ketchup to the steak sauce then add enough water to make about 2 cups.  Season it up.  I used my seasoning blend. Season it up however you like - I recall hers being a little different each time.'s looking pretty good.  You don't have to stir this a lot.  
You want the browned edges.
Add in the meat on the top,
 Pour in the sauce, lower the heat, and simmer while you make rolls.
 I forgot to mention about the rolls - buttered bread is what my mother always served, 
but hot rolls cannot be beat.
Stir and serve, with a smile and a glass of sweet tea.
And forget about getting a picture of a plate of it with hungry people stampeding all around you...

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Nice Things

Last week was so hard.  Really bad.  No good.
And it was easy to fall into a funk of despair.  It started with working extra hours on Monday, after a very  hard weekend, then having to rush to buy groceries, shower, and go to a two hour Boy Scout meeting.  I missed my Monday night unwind and felt at the end of my rope to start my week....then Tuesday,  I took my sister in  for a biopsy at the crack of dawn.  She kept her chin up - but inside I was thinking "how are we going to handle the worst case scenario?"  Still haven't figured that one out.  
Thanksgiving 2010 
Wednesday I turned in my ladder portfolio,  rushed around trying to play catch up, and expressed some meds over to my sister.  
Firstborn's car stalled out on Mopac and we got to play in traffic in the heat for almost three hours. Guess it's a good thing we haven't gotten rid of the van
Thursday Scout had his wisdom teeth out.  Aside from him barfing in the front yard, it went well...but he spent the first day of Summer vacay in a painful fog.  Friday I worked - but The Girl had her debit card number breached and someone managed to clean out her checking account - temporarily.  So, this Monday we hung out at the credit union for a couple hours.  And Firstborn had a snafu with his rent so it was parents to the rescue. Hurry to bank.  Hurry to apartments.  Hurry home.  Cook, clean, go to bed.
The weekend passed in a blur with a busy two days, Sunday without a break, ending with a co-worker telling us she was quitting.   But Saturday I came home to a Thank You bouquet of lillies from my sister, along with wine and chocolate - the two most important food groups.  And a great dinner, a la hubby, with a good night's sleep.
 And look what I got in the mail -  the craft exchange gift from Donna!  It so brightened my outlook - I  love owls.
I borrowed a book from a co-worker called "The Art of Living" by Epictetus.  It's like the universe is trying to send me a little encouragement, and maybe some direction.  
I need it, badly.


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