Monday, May 30, 2016

What the week holds - Beer and other plans

Hubby and I have decided to scale back our Happy Hour adventures to twice a month, on paydays.
Which is good because we were spending too much on the luxury.  It just so happens that this is the week for it.  We've also been trying new places every time.  On a recent Friday we went to a brewery and enjoyed some interesting beer and a cheese tray that we practically licked clean!  It was so good - it included a sliced baguette, pickled seasonal veggies, some garlicky pesto, fig jam, and three different cheeses.  YUM.
 We wanted to investigate the cheese shop that the brewery uses, but they were closed, so we ended up at a place called Flying Saucer.  It was not as cozy as the brewery.  In fact it was super loud and there were no tables available outside.  What did we expect on a Friday in Austin?!
 They decorate the walls with kitschy plates!
We enjoyed some queso and beer - the black and tan I had was very good.  I think this would be a better stop for us earlier in the day - it was already after 7 when we arrived.  Super busy and loud = you can't hear each other!  Plus we were seated next to the kitchen, which I hate.  And the queso was just so-so.
This week Hubby is off on Monday for the holiday (maybe he will grill?), Bubbie finishes up his finals, registers for college classes, and has the SAT on Saturday.  I work Monday and am on call a couple of days.  Things at work are still tough, but I am looking forward to my vacay, which I hope to high heaven does not get cancelled!  
What does your week look like?

Friday, May 27, 2016

5 thing Friday - lunches, potted plants, stitch plans, to do list, snack mix

I am trying to get to a place where I take better care of myself, in addition to organizing myself so I can ease some of the stress I feel around work nowadays.  I think it's helpful for Hubby and the boys, it can only help Mom, too!  So, I created a Plan to help me keep my week running smoothly  making sure my tote bag is ready for work, organizing things to do around the house, getting things done that I so often put off.  Lately I also pack food for my weekend shift on Friday afternoon.
It pretty much always includes a sammie, some chips, fruit, yogurt, protein drink, and other healthy snacks like almonds or peanut butter.  It keeps me out of the hospital cafeteria and gift shop and ensures I can grab something even if we are super busy.  Pictured above are two complete sets of breakfast/lunch.  I reload the lunch tote on Saturday night.
 I moved my asparagus fern from the kitchen window seat to the deck and it went ape!  The owl gets moved around a lot, lately as the squirrels love to love on my potted plants.
 I also moved the little rose bush out there, but I think it may get too much water from all of the rain we have been getting.  I don't know diddly about roses but I love plants in terracotta!
 New design to stitch - two sweet birdies.  I don't think it will say anything snarky.  But I'm not making promises. 
 I ordered a To Do pad free from Shutterfly.  It doesn't have a lot of room for a list, so I have to pick and choose what is important to list.  This could be a good thing as my lists seems to spiral into chaos.  I find that I am better about accomplishing everything on them if I simplify them into what's most important.  It feels good on Friday to rip off that page and toss it with everything crossed off!
When my kids were kids I made this snack mix - peanuts, raisins, and M&M's.  Nowadays I use craisins and sometimes I use almonds, but the basic "recipe" is the same.  I scooped up a couple of bags for co-workers and left the rest for the boys in a big tupperware Monday it was GONE.  I think it might be something I have in the pantry on a more regular basis!
p.s.  Where did May go?!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Baked Ravioli, Lydia style

One of my favorite TV cooks to watch is Lydia Bastianich.  I love watching her cook homemade Italian meals.  And often she gives tips  about how to devise your own meals, no recipe needed.  So I took a tip from her on building my own marinara and it came out GREAT.
It was soooo good!
I started with frozen whole wheat ravioli, crushed Italian tomatoes, approximately 1 1/2 c. of mire poix,  some fresh Italian sausage, garlic, mozzarella, and my secret ingredient:  anchovies!  Please don't tell Bubbie - he is a dedicated anti-fish person...
If you have never made anything with anchovies in it, let me just tell you right now:  you use a very small amount and it won't overpower what you cook.  Years ago I made a Caesar Salad recipe from Neiman Marcus to serve at my bridesmaid's luncheon.  Anchovies made the dressing the star of the salad!  The trick is to just use a couple of them.
I sauteed the anchovies (2 of them) in some olive oil along with the chopped garlic.  The fish melts into the oil.
I added in my mire poix.  If you don't have mire poix already made, chop some carrot, onion, and celery up finely, about a cup and a half.  Then saute that with your garlic mixture for about 5 minutes.
Next I added a can of crushed tomatoes, 
and some cooked and drained Italian sausage. {you could also add some Italian seasoning or such}  I simmered it all for about 30 minutes.
I made one dish of ravioli to freeze, one for that night's supper.  Butter or oil the dish, add a little sauce, then start layering ravioli, sauce, cheese until you end up with cheese.  You could skip the top layer of cheese on the one you are freezing, then just top it when it's thawed and ready to cook. {Tip:  toss your freshly grated mozzarella with some parmesan to make it easier to sprinkle on top without it landing in giant globs.  Plus, parmesan adds great taste!}
I'm not sure it matters if you top it with cheese before you freeze it.  I guess it depends on whether you like the cheese to get a little browned.  Fully thawed I cooked it for about an hour, some of that time uncovered.  I let it sit in the hot oven while I tossed a salad - I wanted to make sure it was nice and bubbly.
This 9 inch pie plate holds enough ravioli and sauce for 5 people!
And since it was so well-received, my peeps will be happy to know another pan of it is in their future!

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Monday, May 23, 2016

What the week holds: the final push of the school year!

 The school year is winding all seems to happen at once!
The only one I have in  public school anymore is Bubbie.  He will be a high school senior next year and will letter in band.  About a week ago we heard a preview of the new music for Fall.  Called "Tango" and FULL of sassy brass.  It's going to be a fabulous show!
The end of that week was the band banquet - kind of like a prom of sorts for band members.  Bubbie and his date both wore blue, and I put together a very last minute bouquet of dyed-blue alstromeria and yellow rose with greenery.  It was very pretty and I think they enjoyed their time out - I took them over to Amy's for an after banquet treat.  It makes me wish I had done more to help the two oldest get the most out of simple social get-togethers in high school.   For Bubbie it will be important to maintain a balance - he will be finishing up his Eagle rank in scouts and taking some challenging course next Fall, in addition to some college work at the community college.  Oy vey.
He's in there somewhere!
Last week was the last band concert and this week is the last week for private lessons.  Hopefully he can get on to studying for finals this week...  It's always hard for me to believe how fast the school year goes.  I've had a child in AISD since 1994!  This time next year will seem surreal with graduation and the transition to college.  There is SO much to do and deadlines loom.  Days after the school year ends, he will be taking his SAT.  I'm not sure I'm ready for all that the Fall will bring, but I'm sure going to try!  One week at a time, deep breaths...
What does your week look like?

Friday, May 20, 2016

Thrifty wine bottle rack

I've been looking here and there for a wine rack - just something small for the counter.  It's amazing to me how much they cost!  HEB had a nice one that was around $20, but I couldn't bring myself to put it into the cart.  In fact, several places have pretty scoll-y black metals ones that would look great on the kitchen counter but for some reason I just could not part with the money for them.  Plus, they seemed to take up a lot of counter space.
So, when I saw this one at Salvation Army for $3?  On sale for $1.50?  Into my arms it went!  Seriously.  I didn't even have to spray paint it and it fit perfectly in the little nook under the cabinet next to the cookbooks. Hubby fiddled with it to make sure it wasn't wobbly, and now it holds my stash of Driftwood wines.
I love how you will be wandering around the thrift store and find something that is exactly what you wanted, even though you weren't searching for it specifically!  Cheap thrills.
I also found a very pretty frame for a future cross stitch project, some notecards destined for more of Scout's photography, and a new to me book. 
 Happy Frugal Friday!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Patchwork Hotpads

I wanted to do a small sussie for the two ladies I worked with on Mother's Day, as we were there for the whole day, and planning a brunch.  At first I was thinking I could go buy them a pretty from the antiques store in Giddings on the way to Brenham, but I really wanted to think of something more heartfelt and crafty.  I took stock of what I had in my stash and got busy on these hotpads:
Perfect for our Mother's Day Brunch!
Months ago, my mother had me help her clean out her quilting stash.  The drawers in the antique dresser she uses for storage were way too full.  She also gave me a worn out ironing board cover and told me to use the stuffing inside as the stuffing for pot holders.  Makes sense as both need some insulation.  What a great way to recycle, right?
I found some denim in my stash to use as a sturdy backing.
I laid the quilt blocks onto the ironing pad to trace out the size I needed.  There's a layer of floral fabric, as well as interior foam that I just tossed - I only needed the insulation.
To stiffen the quilt block I ironed on some fusible interfacing.  Then I pinned right sides together and stitched 3/4 of the way around.
I clipped off the excess insulation close to the stitching and clipped the corners.  That will make them less bulky around the edges when I turn them right side out.
Denin and quilt block on the outside, insulation on the inside.  Ready to pin together and topstitch.  No need for binding on these, but you could do that and make a loop for hanging, too.
I stitched all around the hot pad with a zig zag.
Cute!  I "made" some cards by gluing a pretty photo from Scout onto some purchased note cards I already had.  Then I included the recipe on a 3x5 index card for the biscuit casserole I took to share.  I think my "tacky homemades" came out quite nicely!

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Tutorial Tuesday at Hope Studios

Monday, May 16, 2016

What the week holds: more travel and a magnetic dish

Years ago, I saw a Good Things idea in a MS magazine about gluing a strong magnet on the bottom of a pretty dish to make a place to put pins while you are sewing.  I have this china saucer from forever ago - I think it belonged to my grandmother, who gave it with a tea set to my mother.  I could be wrong about that - but I seem to remember there being tea cups involved!  
I'm not too sure about whether it matters, but it is a real piece of china.  Pretty thin, but if your magnet is strong enough, it should work with regular old glass or porcelain.
I bought two magnets for about $2 and some E6000 glue to keep with my crafting supplies.  Might have to make one for Hubby's desk to hold paperclips - of course he won't get the fancy schmancy china.  (:
The E6000 glue says to let it cure for at least 72 hours so I glued it on Friday and set it by my machine.  I need a new sewing project for this week, so I'm sure it will be put to good use!  Hubby is traveling and Bubbie is under the weather.  It's rainy and dreary out but life goes on...sewing and reading in my spare time will help soften the edges.  What does your week look like?

Friday, May 13, 2016

5 thing Friday - the backyard, Hubby's office, new stitchin', lunch at home, pillow talk

Our backyard is a dead zone.  It looks so terrible.  I know I should stop bemoaning the state its in and just get going on it, but I find it paralyzing to think about the amount of time and money it will take to revitalize it.  We need to repair the fence, add dirt, get the sprinklers in working order, do some landscaping...
 About all I have done is be lame and toss some grass seed out.
 That's like spitting on a wildfire, I know.  Meanwhile, in my neighbor's yard there is this:
It hangs over the fence into my yard, so I snip a bit here and there.  It grows such that they barely get to enjoy it!  So although our yard looks like crap, it smells great.
 Hubby's new office needs serious decorating help.  He's got a mish mash of rectangles and a jumble of scout stuff.  I'm going to help him out.  I'm on the hunt for a cheap brass planter I can clean up and arrange silk plants in - gotta check Goodwill.
 He's seriously silly.  But I am happy that he has this new job and opportunity to grow in a better situation, not to mention nicer office,  than before.  A cookie for you if you spy a lava lamp.  Another cookie for the flag of Norway.
He asked me to stitch a saying for him - Just roll with it.  
Something his new boss likes to say. (I know this is hard to see - I will post the finished stitchery!)
Scout and I are eating leftovers for lunch on most days.  I am curbing the impulse to split Chinese with him once a week - we need to slow the roll on the spending for food.  We eat out waaaay too much.  This was a delightful lunch, though.  Lettuce wraps with chicken mole, coleslaw, and avocado.  YUM.
Last month I used up the last of Kohl's cash by buying this $40 pillow on sale for half prince, less the $10 Kohl's cash.  $10 for a nice new pillow for the sofa was a deal!  I couldn't even sew one at that price.  And with that, I am staying out of there until I have to buy school clothes for Bubbie.


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