Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Summer Bucket List update 2014

Time to review my bucket list and see how my summer is panning out...
*Sonic - only been a couple times - will do more often.  Part of the problem is that they keep putting Bluebell on sale at Walgreen's, so we just slob out at home with ice cream.
*Make pickles - yes.  I found a great recipe for refrigerator pickles here
*Eat on patio  - no.  It's been so humid and terrible outside.  We are grilling out there, but eating inside.
*Den blinds - not yet.  I have to get the bathroom tile replaced first, I think.
*Pool more often - grr.  Rain. Although when it is sunny, I take my old mama self over there and try to exercise  with my kickboard.
*Library - no.  But I am making my way through this stack of books.  I have read Heaven Lake and I really liked it.  Plowing my way through The Samurai's Garden now.  So, reading IS happening.
*Get Bubbie ready for camp - done.  He had a good time and came home worn out.  And smelly.  And with three merit badges.
*Help Scout find a job - turns out he didn't need my help and found a job in Receiving at Macy's.  He really likes it, but they don't schedule him much.  Back on that horse, Scout.  And it's time for us to get him scheduled for college classes.
*Driver's ed - I told Bubbie we would wait til Spring.  Once July 28th arrives, our lives will belong to band until Winter Break.  That's fine - in my opinion, there is no rush to get boys to driver's ed.  Up until age 25, they are the group most likely to die in a car.  We good.
*Make donuts and pretzel bread - no.  My pretzel bread was a fail.  However, we have a plan to explore coffee shops in Austin where we will consume plenty of baked goods.
*Carol -  Sigh.  The rain cramped our plans.  We set a rain date of August 8th.  I have this to bring her:
And probably a lot of venting, too.  Whoever in Bloggy  Land came up with using the parmesan caps on canning jars - genius.
*Paint chairs and kitchen - Fall.  It just can't happen right now.  Too much humidity.
*Visiting my mother - still haven't done this and it's been since May.  I was planning on it last week and life got in the way again.
*Lunch out - yes!  We've enjoyed Lucy's, BJ's Brewhouse, Asia Cafe, Super China, Hopdoddy's, Cafe Java, Niki's, Whataburger, and Torchy's, to name a few...
I bet the boys wish I would let them eat in peace.
*Couch for firstborn - I think I'm going to give him the futon.  I decided a papasan chair would be better for the Lounge.  World Market has a great one I like.  But again, so many other things have to happen first.  The Girl is still living in that room and a large air mattress takes up the bulk of the floor.
*Grass - helped by rain and growing faster than we can keep up, although there are still bald spots I'd like to fill.
*Vacay - not yet.
*Car for me - ditto
Hopefully those few things I would like to do can get closer to getting done - we still have about 3 weeks of Summer vacay left!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Mealplan Monday #121 and why I'm thankful on Sundays

It's nice to come home on Sundays to a hot meal and a clean and happy home.  It's one of the things I am most thankful for as a working mama.  I'm not so picky anymore about everything being perfectly clean and straight - as long as there's not a big mess in the kitchen and the den, I'm mostly OK with it. And as for the menu planning and food prep, it's worth the work during the week to make it happen - having a calm and restful meal together on Sunday gets the week started off right!
Monday - Shredded Pork Tacos with all the fixings
Tuesday - Pizza, salad
Wednesday - Hash Brown Taco Skillet,* corn
Thursday - Italian Baked Sammie, salad
Friday - Tilapia, sauteed squash, lime cilantro slaw
Saturday - Dad grill
Sunday - BLT's on sourdough with tomato soup
Dessert this week will be Pistachio Chocolate Chip Cookies
*I am adapting this recipe for HOT weather!
 The stuffed shells I made on the last freezer meals go-round turned out pretty great.  I write the instructions on the foil, so Hubby needs no reminders.  After 15 years of me working on the weekends, we have our system worked out!
And He makes a mean salad with just about everything he can find in the fridge.  A glass of wine, a shower, a good night's sleep - all a good way to end the day.
  Bring on Monday.

Friday, July 25, 2014

5 thing Friday - mire poix, beans, mini blinds, campers, feets

I spent time the week that Bubbie and Hubby were camping getting a few things done.  It was not exactly exciting, but among other things I...
 cleaned out the veggie drawer in the fridge, making a batch of mire poix to freeze,
 shopped the clearance aisles at Tarjay where I found an assortment of beans and jasmine rice (!) marked down half price,
 took Scout over to Firstborn's apartment to help me hang new mini blinds...
  ...which is where I found this candelabra in mint condition sitting by the dumpster  (Scout was appalled).  I haven't decided where to put it.  I just thought it was purty.,
 Sunday arrived and we picked the boys up from camp at the drop-off point at church.  It was a leetle warm outside and they were very ripe.  So was their laundry.
Ten points if you can spot Hubby wearing a red,white, and blue doo rag.  And Bubbie, distancing himself...
My Chacos are feeling tight lately - the heat causes my feet to swell and my toes to cramp.  I think I just need to drink more water...

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Tourist in our town - Hope Outdoor Gallery

Scout and I love to bop around and visit various parks and whatnot for photography - well, he's the main one taking photos, I'm there as a hanger-on.  The Sunday that our campers got back in from Colorado we visited Grafitti Wall - otherwise known as Hope Outdoor Gallery.  We had driven by it a couple of times when we were downtown at Whole Earth Provisions, and I wanted to return just for pics and a chance to gawk at the street art. 
It felt like a billion degrees outside with the humidity.

Keeping Austin weird for sure!
You can read more about it here, and while you're there, sign up for the newsletter about all things Austin.  

Monday, July 21, 2014

Mealplan Monday #120 and a new bed

I penciled in a day for cleaning up Bubbie's room while he was at camp, and I got the brilliant idea that I would spray paint the metal bed so it wasn't white and crib-looking.  
 This is half of the bunk beds I bought in 1995.  I was expecting Scout and needed to have Firstborn and The Girl share a room.  They used it until we moved to Rustown, then Scout and Bubbie used it until The Girl moved to Waco.  It was well worth the $200.  I put half it on the curb for big trash day about a year day he will have an adult bed, but for now...
 Oh, dear.  See, this is what happens when you don't prep your shiny metal surface and prime it. The paint will start to fleck right off.  That won't work for any length of time on furniture.  I knew better...
Scout helped me rough up the finish and I went to Home Depot for the second time that morning to purchase more paint and some automotive primer.  grrr.
Monday - Coney Island dogs, rosemary fries
Tuesday - Chicken Pot Pie
Wednesday - Moroccan garbanzo stew with kielbasa, garlic toast
Thursday - Cashew Cumin Chicken*, rice, peas
Friday - Sausage spinach bake, carrots (special request from The Girl)
Saturday - Dad grill
Sunday - Stuffed Shells, salad
Dessert this week....hmmm...I'll think on it.
*This is one of those jarred sauces you find in the ethnic foods section - I love Indian food.
 By the middle of the afternoon, I had given it several coats of a flat black paint.  We had to work a little to straighten the metal slats - after years of use they had bowed a little, making the mattress sink in.  I didn't bother painting the very center of the slats.  They will never be seen.  It looks a little like wrought iron, now.  Less like a crib.  I even did away with the bed elevators; he no longer needed all that storage space and they make the bed a little rickety.  There was plenty of room for the Container Store baskets for magazines and such.  His filing crate went into the closet.
 I ordered him a new gray and black comforter (hopefully here soon), steam cleaned the carpets, and did some general straightening up.  There now is a little more space to expand the wall collage downward, too.
 I didn't change much else - Bubbie is rather particular about how his books are stacked and his doo dads arranged.
 So, I mostly dusted.  Washed his laundry.  Emptied trash.  The stuff he does for himself, but I wanted him to come home to a clean and neat room.
I even watered his bamboo!  
Welcome home, Bubbie.  Can't wait to see pics of camp!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Freezer Meals #10

Whew!  Another batch of meals for my newly cleaned out freezer.  I threatened everyone we'd live on salads, but it turns out, the crock pot is easier...and the weather has been so rainy and cloudy, you may as well get stuff done inside the house.  That's my theory anyway.
This time it took me quite a bit longer to assemble and clean up - but that's doing all of it from Step 1.  So I guess if you divide out 2 hours by 9 meals it comes out to a little over 13 minutes per meal - and time to relax when I get home instead of rushing to make dinner.  So, winning.
Shredded Pork for Tacos:  3-4 pound pork roast, 2 chopped onions, 2 T bacon fat, 4 serrano chilies, 3 smashed garlic cloves, S&P, 2 c. water. Freeze in gallon zip-loc.  Cook on low in crock pot 6-8 hours, skim fat, shred, serve in flour tortillas.

Slow Cooker Beef Stroganoff:  2# lean cubed stew meat, 1 can Golden Mushroom soup, 1 small sliced onion, 1 T Worchestershire, 1/4 c. water.  Freeze in gallon zip loc.  Cook 6-8 hours on low, and stir in 4 oz. cream cheese just before serving. (I forgot to buy Golden Mushroom, so I used regular onion soup and some leftover gravy from another dinner.  Creative, no?)

Honey Garlic Chicken:  My peeps love this over rice

Taco Chili Crock - 1# cooked and drained ground beef, 1 medium chopped onion, 1 drained can of corn, 1 drained and rinsed can of black beans, 8 oz. tomato sauce, 2 cans diced tomatoes, 1 small can diced green chilies, 1 package taco seasoning.  Freeze in a gallon zip loc.  Cook in crock on low for 6-8 hours.  NOTE:  I cook black beans from dry 'cause it's cheaper and I make my own taco seasoning 'cause ditto.

Apple Garlic Pork Roast:  Into the gallon zip loc goes four chopped Gala apples, 1/4 c. water, 2-3 smashed cloves of garlic, 2 t. chopped fresh parsley, S&P.  I will cook this from frozen 6-8 hours.  (I have never tried it, but it sounded good!  I may add a bit of sage to it)

Mediterranean Pork Chops - I love these.  I will serve them with mashed potatoes and a salad.  YUM.
Baked Stuffed Shells
24 jumbo pasta shells, cooked al dente and cooled
1 lb. Italian sausage, cooked and drained
1 small can tomato paste
1/2 bag frozen chopped spinach
1/2 c. parmesan
1/2 # cubed provolone
1 26 oz jar sketti sauce (I love Newman's Own)

I combined the cooked sausage, tomato paste, a little water, some salt and pepper, the half bag of spinach and simmered it a little.  Then I removed it from the heat and stirred in the parmesan.  I poured a little sauce into two casserole dishes, filled the shells with the meat mixture, then set them on top of the sauce. I poured the rest of the sauce over, topped with cubed provolone, and covered with foil.  I will thaw, bake covered for 30 minutes, then uncover for another 10-15. (This recipe would have been a tad different had I not forgotten to buy ricotta...oh, well)
The ninth meal was dinner that night.
Time to relax and read a book - here comes the weekend!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Easy Summer supper: Italian Layer Bake

Oh, my yum...this was a great recipe so I really had to share!  Go here for the original - I made a few minor changes based on what I already had in my fridge.

Italian Layer Bake
2 tubes cresent rolls
8 oz each turkey and ham from the deli, sliced thin
8 oz sliced pepperoni or salami
8-10 slices provolone cheese
1 jar roasted red peppers, drained and sliced
4 eggs
Italian seasoning
Pre-heat oven to 350.  Grease a 13x9x2 casserole dish.  Unroll one tube of rolls and use it for the bottom "crust" in the dish.  Layer on the meats and cheese, adding in the sliced peppers.  (I alternated all of it)  Beat two of the eggs with a little Italian seasoning and pour it all over.  Unroll the second tube of cresents and use it to form the top "crust".  Beat the two remaining eggs with a little Italian seasoning and pour it over the top. (Note:  I added a tablespoon or so of olive oil to the top of my casserole as well)  Cover with foil and bake 20 minutes.  Uncover and bake 25 minutes more.  Let cool a bit, then slice and serve.

Isn't that pretty?
I served it with our favorite "salad" of late: grape tomatoes, red onion, olives...and this time I added cucumbers... with Good Seasons Italian dressing to marinate.
So much easier than making an oven sandwich and every bit of it disappeared!

Shared with
The Country Cook - Weekend Potluck


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