Monday, April 29, 2019

Mealplan Monday #243

I spy...
Monday - Rosemary Garlic Chicken, smashed reds, Chik-Fil-A Copycat SuperFood Salad
Tuesday - White beans in the crockpot with ham
Wednesday - Tuna Salad on whole wheat, fresh fruit, carrots and celery
Thursday - Pork Ribs in the crockpot, corn on the cob, baked sweet potatoes
Friday - Honey Lime Chicken Soft Tacos (sans cream), taco fixings, beans
Saturday - YOYO
Sunday - Mom and Dad will pick up

Friday, April 26, 2019

5 thing Friday - DNA, lists, blackberry vines, Flat Stanley, Georgetown Winery

Hubby bought us DNA tests for Christmas and while the results weren't all that exciting for me, they were interesting.  Since I only have one parent (mother) left and I would love to know where all that Scottish/Irish/Welsh (not to mention Central American) comes from I asked her if we could test her.
She said yes.  So I ordered a kit and took it up to Brenham on Good Friday to add it to our To-Do list.
I also filled out a refrigerator card that lists all of her pertinent info and doctor's numbers and sent photos of it to my sisters.  We got everything on the list done, plus we ate delish sammies and chips, and even worked in the yard a bit.  Afterwards we enjoyed some ice cream and I was on my way.  I think it wore her out, but in a good way.
(She's not crying here - she has allergies!)  We admired the berry vines that we transplanted last month.  It was a monster task but apparently they love their new home.
I would so make my own blackberry wine with them, but I'm sure she will eat them as jam or over ice cream.
When I cleaned out her truck, looking for the spare set of keys she misplaced, I didn't find them but I did find Flat Stanley.  If you have little kiddoes, you probably already know the story.  This rode around in her truck for THIRTEEN YEARS.  Bubbie made it in kindergarten and mailed it to her.  She was supposed to mail it back.  So now he lives on her refrigerator.  (:
Hubby and I visited Georgetown Winery on Saturday afternoon.  They are the same owners of Thirsty Mule Winery in Liberty Hill, but we found we actually like the wine here better than there.
 They had cute signs.
We enjoyed a cab blend while we listened to live acoustic music.  It was a cute place, the people were friendly, and we had fun.   I loved the square in Georgetown and I can't believe we've never been there before - I even have two sisters who live in Georgetown.  I would love to explore all of the shops and eat at one of the restaurants.  I see another field trip there in our immediate future!

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Decadent Carrot Cake

Have you ever heard of The Cake Mix Doctor?  When the kids were little and they did those book fairs at the elementary and middle school, I used to see her cookbooks there and leaf through them fascinated at her creativity.  She would take a plain cake mix, "doctor" it up, and make it seem homemade.  I thought it was genius and I often added a bit of this or that to cakes I made for birthdays and holidays.
Fast forward to Easter and this is what I made for dessert:
I took a Dunkin-Hines Decadent Carrot Cake Mix (which I don't even see on their website anymore) and added a can of pineapple tidbits with all of its juice instead of the extra water that you soak the carrots and raisins in.  I baked it in a Bundt pan for about 35 minutes, then when it was cooled, I frosted it with:

Salted Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting
1/2 stick soft butter
One 8 oz block softened cream cheese
2 c. powdered sugar
2 T Hershey's caramel sauce
1 t vanilla
pinch of sea salt

I creamed all of that together and slathered it on the cake.  Then I drizzled on more caramel sauce, just because!  I toasted some Texas native pecans my mother gave me in a small skillet and when they were cooled I sprinkled them on the top.  
Oh. My. Word.
Quite possibly the moistest, richest carrot cake I have ever had and YES, the leftovers went into the freezer for a sweet treat for us in the future.  
Do you cake doctor, too?

Monday, April 22, 2019

Mealplan Monday #242

Monday - Mediterranean Chicken, couscous, spinach salad
Tuesday - (freezer) Bean Soup Crockpot with Cranberry Pork Sausages, corn muffins
Wednesday - Salmon, brussel sprouts with carrots
Thursday - Meatballs and brown rice skillet with asparagus
Friday - Ham and Swiss grilled cheese on multigrain bread, red bell pepper strips
Saturday - YOYO
Sunday - Mom and Dad will pick up on way home*
Each Sunday we invite our far-flung peeps for family dinner...but lately not everyone shows, and sometimes no one does.  So to take the pressure off, we are going to a once a month Sunday dinner at home and the rest of the Sundays we'll allow ourselves to arrive home a little bit later, picking up take-out on the way for us and Bubbie.  No pressure for anyone!

Friday, April 19, 2019

Another campus visit: SHSU

We arrived at Sam Houston State in Huntsville on Wednesday morning about 5 minutes before our tour was scheduled to start.  Talk about cutting it close!  And I know I shouldn't be comparing it to Aggieland, but of course, I did. 
The tour itself was so poorly attended - us, and four other students, one of whom was a grad student, the others were high schoolers.
Our tour guide was very nice and the campus is pretty.  BUT.  Electrical Engineering is just a foot note to the main areas of study that this university focuses on:  mainly criminal justice and teaching.  There was one engineering building.  ONE.  And we didn't go within 100 yards of it.
There is virtually no on-campus housing for anyone but freshmen.  Also, see how empty the campus appears?  It was.  In fact, it is so small and empty that the tour guide could pick out individual students around campus that he recognized
Where is everyone?  It's Wednesday, mid-afternoon...
He told us that many students attend part-time or on-line... And the few folks we did pass weren't as "howdy" friendly as they are at A&M.
We briefly saw the oldest building on campus.  Toured the CJ building, walked for miles...
We got a recommendation for a place to eat near campus (we hadn't eaten lunch and were starving!) and it turned out to be more like a bar with a bunch of middle age men sitting around drinking cocktails.  No thank you.  Also weird:  large chickens roaming and scratching on part of the campus by a busy road, including a rooster who crowed every few minutes.
I tried hard to envision this campus as a quiet place for serious minded people to further their education, but I also saw it as isolated and forgotten in the state's university system.
While I think its good for Bubbie to see both types of campuses, it really was a waste of an entire day. I really don't see him being happy here, and he didn't seem jazzed about it.  It actually does make a difference where you get your degree.   And more than ever, I want to help him focus on getting to where he dreams of being. 

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Weekend re-cap: Sunday Wineday Funday

Last weekend wore us out.  In a good way, but still...
While Saturday was all about the Bluebonnet Festival in Burnet, Sunday was all about "exploring".  Saturday's weather was rainy and windy and COLD.  But when Sunday dawned, we saw beautiful skies at Highlands and decided to hit the road. First stop: the annual wine club picnic at Torr Na Lochs.
 The property is huge and full of trees and you couldn't have asked for better weather.
They served us the newly bottled Montepulciano along with lunch, and gave us a sneak pour of their new Sangiovese Rose.  The wine flowed and everyone looked relaxed and happy.  And I can't say enough good things about the owners, Blake and Karen - they are gracious and friendly and love to talk all things WINE.
The tables were set out in wide open spaces.  We had a nice gentleman in his 70's for our tablemate who says he helped develop the first MRI tube.  He told us all about his travels in the US and Europe with his wife, and we discussed wine in general. 
 It was such a fun lunch at one of our favorite wineries! {have you noticed that  Hubby really really loves that hat and that red shirt? }
On the way out we admired the view. In the upper right of the photo is their stone patio that overlooks the hill country.
The next stop was a winery in Stonewall I had been wanting to visit - Ab Astris.  I love this style of building!  I should have taken pics on the inside, too.  Next time...
 Wide open fields, no traffic noises, just birdsong and cool breezes!
The wine was wonderful and I regret that I didn't let Hubby talk me into a tasting or bottle -  I had a glass of the tannat and he had the bordeaux blend.  The owner was very friendly (as most winemakers are).  We will definitely return!
 Next stop was also close by in Stonewall - Woodrose Winery.  The winemakers, Mike and Linda, have you sit on their shady and beautiful deck while they bring wines out for your tasting. 
We loved all of them but settled on a Tempranillo and a cheese plate, sitting there the rest of the afternoon admiring the hummingbirds at a couple of feeders, and petting their HUGE Golden Retrievers.  I should have gotten a pic of those dogs, they were the size of cows!  Their wine club has many perks, but I'm not sure we should join yet another wine club at this point.  We returned home around 6 pm and made enchiladas, beans, and sauteed peppers and onions and then I was DONE for the weekend. Two days seem to go by so fast...

Monday, April 15, 2019

Mealplan Monday #241

Texas Paintbrush

Monday - Spanish Style Chicken Cubes, broccoli, couscous
Tuesday - Pintos with brisket bits, corn muffins
Wednesday - Pan Fried Trout, asparagus
Thursday - Lean Beef Patty with sauteed mushrooms, baby red potatoes and green beans
Friday - Turkey and Swiss on whole grain bread, sliced tomato and avocado, fruit
Saturday - TBD
Sunday - Roast Tenderloin, Confetti Potatoes, steamed carrots, green bean casserole, rolls, dessert is yet TBD

Friday, April 12, 2019

5 thing Friday - tacos, groceries, squirrel, gardening, bluebonnets

One day last week - I think it was the day I raked up 10 bags of leaves in the front - I took myself to Torchy's for lunch.
I like tacos A LOT and I'm not going to say this is my favorite place for them (because in Austin you can get great tacos at so many places) but their barbacoa taco (the Democrat) was amazing!  However, it was on the pricey side for lunch, so its something I don't do too often.
Even with careful meal planning and list making I still end up at the grocery store one extra time per week.  There are only 3 of us at home.  Where does all the food go?
 A stealth ninja squirrel on the stairwell wall at the hospital.
 I managed to kill the potted plants I had in the garage.  We won't go into the grisly details.  But I bought a few more to replant in my terra cotta pots - photo to come soon.
Yellow lantana - I went to several places to find it!  I love it because its deer resistant, doesn't mind drought, and attracts butterflies and bees.  Plus, you just cannot kill it. Here it sits in a laundry basket by the garage, waiting to be planted.
One of the treasures we found at Highlands was this cast iron pot thingy that I filled with potting soil and lantana and set by the pumphouse. Previously it had a tree growing out of it!  I think its much prettier now.  We also planted some underneath the Highlands sign and I will post that pic when I get it going strong.
 Baby blue 'bonnets!  I have never seen this pale shade.  I also found an all white one:
The hill at Highlands is covered, but the clouds are out and there's rain every weekend.  So my bluebonnet pics are rather gloomy.
But the whole place smells beautiful!


Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Easter plans and a craft!

Seems like anymore I have just a few minutes here and there for crafting - not hours like I used to.  I sure miss those days!  But I had a simple crafty thing in mind for the mantle to celebrate Easter and Spring.  Hubby helped one of the boys make this simple tool caddy when they were in Cub Scouts.  {they didn't put their name on it, but I suspect it was Scout}  I used it years ago to hold Fall greenery, hence the green burlap.  Its been living in the garage for a while!
I gathered up some empty jars, Dollar Tree blooms and moss, and some floral foam.  I wrapped a bit of moss around tallish chunks of foam, stuck the blooms in...and that was pretty much it.  I had two small scraps of natural burlap left, and I just tied those into a small hole in the caddy with florist wire.
 Then I admired it while I cleaned up my mess...
 I think it looks cute on the mantle - not too rustic, definitely not glam, and for $4 it will brighten up the den.
 I made this banner a couple of years ago with scrap fabrics and I still love it.
It can stay up through Spring at which point I may make a new one...if time allows.
The bunnies were in one of Easter baskets from my mother, years ago.
"Pssst - Easter will be here before you know it!  Better get a menu made out!"


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