Monday, June 27, 2016


Hubby and I are so long overdue for a vacation together that we hardly know how to handle it...
Occasional happy hours and the odd weekend here and there aside, we haven't been alone and away from kids and home for any real length of time for over 26 years.  You may think you know your spouse very well after 31 years, but if most of the time you have been married you've been juggling jobs, kids, and everything that goes along with it, you have probably lost touch.  Just a little at least.  Maybe a lot.  So, this week will be a good time to discover what Mark and Gina put on hold for a bit, just long enough to build a family and make a life here in Austin.  It's probable that there will be fun times, probable we will disagree now and then, probable we will survive.  This week holds: travel, food and drink, adventure.
What does your week hold?
{P.S.  See you next Wednesday!}

Friday, June 24, 2016

5 thing Friday - Scouts, Father's Day, laundromat dreams, dresses, it's HOT

The Philmont contingent posed for a "before" pic on their way out of telling how they'll look (or smell) when they return, but I betchu Bubbie will be more grateful than ever for air conditioning and home cooking, not to mention his nice, soft bed..
 Everyone is ready!
He earned his Life Scout badge so he is officially on the path towards Eagle.  Hubby and I are willing to advise, but by no means are we holding his hand through this, nor are we doing any of it for him.  It is something he will EARN.  I think it's a good exercise in learning how to manage his own priorities.  I know other scout parents that have pushed and shoved their kid all the way through scouts so their kid can earn Eagle rank.  Those parents deserve the badge of Micomanaging Parent.
It was HOT out, but Hubby had a nice dinner on Father's Day, complete with a new Yeti mug, his favorite scotch, a new pair of Chaco sandals, and his infinity bracelet re-strung.  We had roast with gravy and carrots, rolls, green beans, mashed potatoes, and a chocolate cream pie.  Then we all collapsed for the day!
On Wednesday I took Bubbie's giant comforter to it's annual cleaning.  I wish it could fit into my own washer, but it won't.  So, I hung out at Geo Laundry with lunch from Short Stop while I waited for the industrial size washer to do its thing.
Every time I'm here I think a laundromat would be a great little investment.  If this place were mine, it would get a makeover with a scrubbing top to bottom, new ceiling tiles, new wallpaper, some cool photographic art from my favorite photographer, bulletin boards for community classes and services, two decent restrooms, and vending machines that offered healthy alternatives.  Plus air conditioning because omg it was hotter than hell in there.  I would have a property manager on site most of the day, and forge relationships with the other strip center tennants so we could all look out for each other and refer business to each other.  Plus, on certain nights we would have live music. 
HEB sells dresses in the summer.  This week it was BOGO free.  So I got two for $12 to wear around the house when I get home from work.  They are pretty and comfy and will help me not lose my mind on these hot afternoons.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Camp Rustown Ranch Mix

I love recipes that call for Ranch Dressing mix- I like to make my own jalapeno dressing a la Chuy's, Ranch Baked Chicken,  and Taco Rio (either beef or chicken).  Making homemade Ranch Dressing is a snap, especially since there are recipes for it all over the intranet.  Find one you like that can serve as a basic recipe, then make it your own!  For mine I varied the amounts of the key ingredients.  But I could always have added smoke paprika, celery salt, etc.  This time I stuck to the classic combo of flavors.  HEB had coupons for spices this week!
Camp Rustown Ranch Mix
1 12 oz canister of buttermilk powder
3/4 c. dried parsley
5 T garlic powder
4 T onion powder
4 T dried dill
3 T dried chives
1 1/2 T black papper
2 T fine sea salt

 I mixed it all in a big mixing bowl with my trusty whisk and spooned it into a 32 ounce canning jar.
These jars were leftover from a Christmas project a couple of years ago - I got them on Amazon. But you can use any size container that is large enough.   I love how you can see all of the spices and herbs in the glass jar, though.
To use, I will spoon out 3 tablespoons or so to equal one packet of store-bought Ranch Dressing mix.  And because it is summer, I will most likely keep it in the fridge along with my grated parmesan cheese - my kitchen stays too warm in the summer to leave them out.  I'm looking forward to trying it tonight in some of that jalapeno dressing with our taco salads!
Do you ever "make your own"?

Monday, June 20, 2016

What the week holds: Philmont

Bubbie is headed to Philmont today.  As you can see from the photo below he is obviously not worried about being too organized and neat...Yesterday I cut his hair and fed him (and Dad) a deliscious roast dinner with all the trimmings and chocolate cream pie for dessert.  For the next couple of weeks he won't be getting what you call home cookin'.
I hope he has a great adventure and comes back ready to tackle finishing up his Eagle work.  July will be here in a blink of an eye, then band camp starts, then school starts, marching season will be in full swing and senior year will fly by in a blur. I worry about him getting a migraine while he's a million miles away.  Worry that the adult leaders aren't as ready to keep up with the boys.  Worry that he will not seize this opportunity for what it really is...No sense in spending my week worrying, though. Besides, Hubby and I will be sight-seeing in New Mexico, meeting he and the crew at the end of the trail, armed with ice cold Snickers.  This week I am cross stitching a sussie for a friend's daughter, putting up all of Teddy's gear and getting the house cleaned, planning our trip, and working.  
What does your week look like?

Friday, June 17, 2016

A "fast week of summer" recap - bits and pieces

My new books came and I read a lot this week!
This has been one of those weeks in the summer that seems to fly by.  You know the kind, right?  You start off thinking of all the things you need and want to do on your days off, and for the most part you get them done.  But staying busy makes the time fly, of course...I had two full days off this week, so I loaded them up with chores and shopping, dog watching, reading,cooking...And since I also got a few hours of overtime in there, I'm not unhappy with feeling tired this afternoon.  but hence, the late posting.
I cleaned up the patio area enough for us to start using the clothesline and Bubbie got started with his laundry right away!  Even though there is still a lot to do out there (replace fence, repair or replace deck, add patio, work on landscaping..), it's nice to have this one thing done so that we can harness the power of the heat on the patio to dry clothes.  The heat index was 107 yesterday, and keeping the inside of the house cool is priority #1.  So this was worth aggravating my tennis elbow over and hopefully with ice and Aleve I can make it through the weekend!
Teddy has been enjoying laying on the cool tiles - in fact, he has pretty much been a fixture at my feet the whole week.  Wherever I am, he goes - just like Sugar used to do.  I don't know if it's because I smell and sound like The Girl or what.  She will be home later today and I know he will be thrilled!
It was supposed to be a Happy Hour week for Hubby and I but since we have Teddy and The Girl here, we decided to stay close to home.  One the places I want to try has an awesome steak and shot of whiskey special.  I thought:  I could do that.  But my version included pan fried potato slices, buttery mushrooms, asparagus, and Flor De Cana rum with limeaid.  It was a fabulous dinner and I enjoyed every last wonderful bite.  Hopefully we can fix something as wonderful on Sunday for Father's Day.  Tonight The Girl will have Enchilada Chicken with us, then it's off to bed for me.  Tomorrow starts my regular working week, and I am already ready to hit the sack!
Happy Weekend and Have a great Father's Day Sunday!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Teddy's here

The Girl is at a training class in Dallas, so guess who gets to stay with us for the week? 
She luvs him, so we plan on taking good care of him.  She ordered him a fancy baby gate to keep him from bolting through the open front door.  We have never owned a dog and the cat stayed inside, so we aren't used to policing the front door.  He's been plopping himself down on the other side of the gate, staring at the front door, willing her to walk through it.
 When she leaves at the end of the week, we will store it here.  Along with toys, extra food bowls, fancy treats and expensive food...yeesh.  It's like having a granddog - gotta have supplies for Gigi and Pops...
She also left two pages of neatly handwritten instructions on what to do and not do, and she went over it item by item with Bubbie.  He's the designated dog keeper this week, but we all get to love on him.
He is slowly warming up to me.  It's been since Christmas that he was here.  I sit calmly reading my book and he will appear in the doorway.  I pat the bed and he hops right up.
 He will sit there, side-eyeing me, deciding if this is a safe place.  But if he hears anyone come through the front door, he's off like a rocket.
 Slowly he is coming around.  I figure that since The Girl was in here on my bed, the quilt smells a little like her?  I don't mind.  He's calm, very sweet, and clearly missing his human.  I know how he feels!

Monday, June 13, 2016

Crock pot onions for the summer

So on Friday I showed you this delightful pic of my simmering onions:
This is what they looked like after about 8 hours.  I eventually let them cook for closer to 12 hours.  I like them to be a deep caramel color.  I have made them before and used a different amount of butter, different onions, a little brown sugar.  It's one of those "recipes" that you switch up to your taste - never has to be the same every time.  Here is how I did them this go 'round:
 I started out with these monsters - 1015's.  So named because they are planted around October 15.  They are huge, exceptionally mild (no tears!), somewhat sweet, but if you want a super sweet onion, choose the Vidalia - they are wonderful cooked this way.  I sliced up three of these giant onions and they filled my 1.5 quart crock pot (which is the reason I have one left).  I had already placed a stick of unsalted butter in the bottom of the crock - I like all of the extra juice and buttery sauce that creates, but you could always adjust the butter amount, or even use olive oil.  I think you really need a little fat in there to keep them from sticking to the crock pot.  Then you just set the crock to low, cover it, and walk away.
If you make them at night, you will wake up to a house smelling of buttery onion, which is not all bad.  I guess you could set your crock pot out on the patio or in the garage if you don't want that!  Once they are the color I like I set the crock insert out to cool a bit, then I ladle the onions and juice into jars, cool all the way down, then refrigerate.  The fat will solidify, but since I will likely use them in a hot dish, that's ok.  My mother enjoys them right from the jar, buttery globs and all.  Ooh - wouldn't this be good with some cream cheese on a baguette or bagel? 

Shared with:
Tutorial Tuesday at Hope Studios

Friday, June 10, 2016

5 thing Friday - burgers, drinks, donuts, biscuits, onions

At Camp Rustown, we all celebrated the first day of summer with food, of course.
 The boys and I went to Hopdoddy's and enjoyed a massive amount of beef and potatoes.  I was not sorry, however I was still too full at dinnertime to eat more than apps with Hubby.
In the evening, Hubby and I discovered a cute little restaurant in a somewhat dicey area of town - Royal Jelly.  Very hipster, the food and drinks were unusual and very good, the Austin Mule and the Thai lettuce wraps, in particular.  We have decided that fresh mint in a summer cocktail is just the thing.  So we are enjoying fresh limeade with vodka or bourbon and some mint.  Deeelightful.  And hello - cheaper to do at home.
 Someone brought these donuts to work on Saturday...
They are diabolical.  Most of them involved chocolate and peanut butter or banana.  We grabbed a plastic knife and cut sections off them all day long til they were gone.  I had a massive headache from sugar ups and downs for 12 hours...
 Look, more carbs.  This is the lazy mom version of biscuits with sausage for boys who like to sleep in.  Needless to say, we aren't doing much besides eating so far.  However, Bubbie and I managed to make our way over the Central Market for an "assortment of fruit" - his request.
We bought melon, apples, Apriums, mangoes, Asian pears... but had to look at everything.  Tomato World was impressive.
And if you want mushrooms of any kind, this is the place.  I also bought about 6 pounds of 1015 onions to make carmelized onions in the crock pot.  Here they are pictured after cooking all night.  They have a ways to go before they are deep caramel-y brown.
I think they will pair well with burgers, grilled cheese, scrambled eggs, or just about anything.  And no one here seems to mind the house smelling like buttery onions!  So, other than food and drink, there's not much else going on here this week.  But next week The Girl will visit and we get Bubbie ready for Philmont, so things will kick into high gear.
  Happy Weekend!

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Perfect Enchilada Sauce

I didn't think to take more than one photo the night I made these enchiladas and they disappeared minutes after I took this one! I served them with sauteed summer squash - delish!
Bar none the best enchilada sauce I have ever used!  I don't think I will ever go back to using the canned chili and tomatoes version - those days are gone.  (But you can go here to see how I have made them for years) Along with homemade marinara, enchilada sauce is super easy and so good.  I found the recipe here, but I will gladly share it with you here, too!
Homemade Enchilada Sauce Recipe
1/4 c. vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 large garlic clove, chopped
1 c. chopped carrots
2 T all-purpose flour
1/2 c. chili powder
2 1/2 c. water
1 t. Mexican oregano
1 t. ground cumin
salt to taste

Heat oil in small sauce pot.  Add onion, carrot, garlic and saute til softened, about 3-4 minutes.  Stir in flour and chili powder, and add water slowly, stirring while adding it. (I whisked the flour and chili powder first to get rid of clumps)  Add oregano and cumin and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes.  The enchilada sauce will thicken a bit.  Puree with hand held blender (immersion blender) to smooth out carrots and onions.  Season to taste with salt and use right away, or freeze for future use.

I plan on adding a few chipotle peppers to it next time, but I'm telling you it was SO GOOD.  No one would be able to tell it had carrots.  And I imagine you could sub butternut squash and who would know?  I can't wait to make these again! 

Monday, June 6, 2016

What the week holds: Summer is here!

Summer at my house nowadays is a lot different from years past.  I'm no longer spreading out various forms and applications for sports camps and swim lessons across my dining table, checkbook at hand, signing kids up for all kinds of activities designed to keep them busy and learning.  I no longer buy Summer Bridge Books, and make out a schedule for the pool, library, trips to museums....  I don't make lunch menus out.  Aren't going through everyone's shorts, tees, sandals, and swim gear, making lists for summer clothes shopping.  And adjusting "bedtimes"?  Nope.  Haven't adjusted anyone's bedtime at Camp Rustown since Bubbie left middle school.
That doesn't mean things aren't happenin' here, it's just a different kind of summer prep. I can step back a little from the micromanaging of the kids' lives that I was a pro at in years past...This summer, Bubbie goes to Philmont, so we are helping him gather all the clothing and gear he needs for that. We'll be taking him to get his driver's license, signing him up for community college classes, getting him a new phone.  Scout will be living on his own for a little over a week, so I will buy him easy meals to make.  Hubby and I are planning a vacay, just the two of us for the first time in 26 years. The back to school list will look very different, too!  Things change, it's true.  But thank goodness summer is here - it still feels wonderful for the school year to end and a new season to begin.  What are your plans for summer?

Friday, June 3, 2016

Summer reads

I'm not going to pretend here that I'm some sort of literary guru who can tell other people what the most interesting or enlightening books are to read this summer, but I made moiself a little list and also updated my Goodreads page.  The stack pictured below is currently in my bedroom's cozy reading chair, waiting to be finished:  In a Sunburned Country, The Weight of Water, Freud's Mistress, The New LifeAfter the War is Over (Nook), and The Life Changing Magic of Not Giving a F**k. I also have The 100 year old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared somewhere around here...
And here are the books I have ordered for summer:
The Pursuit of Happyness 
Before I Go to Sleep
A Wrinkle in Time (Time Quintet)


The Other Me
It's been rainy here for so many days in a row that I have resolved my untanned self to getting some serious page turning done.  Amazon had a good deal where you order $25 worth of books and get free shipping, and since I couldn't find the titles I wanted at Half Price Books I just went ahead and ordered them.  I may have to give the stitching a break for now, though I have a set of pillowcases about halfway embroidered. 
What about you?  Got plans to read over the summer?
Happy first weekend of June! 

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Simple supper - lentils

I made a dinner recently that was a big hit.  A pot of lentils with some leftover smoked ribs, and some Feta Skillet Bread.  A pot of some kind of beans is usually a hit at my house.  And since our grocery bill doesn't seem to be getting lower, its a good way to enjoy a simple supper.
I added in some stock I found in the freezer, the rinsed lentils, and a bag of frozen mire poix.  It cooked for about 6-7 hours on low and turned out perfect!
I made the skillet bread with frozen biscuits as we don't care for the taste of canned and they came out great, too.  I like them almost as much as Butter Dip biscuits - in fact they are very similar and you could add feta to the Butter Dips as well.  It was comforting and warm and fairly frugal as I had everything to make it. I think beans should probably make their way into my menus more often!


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