Monday, September 30, 2019

Empty Nest Menu #7

Just me...trynna catch a sunset in a stairwell at work...
Monday - Brinner with eggs, ham, English Muffin toast (bringing my mother to Austin and back for her follow up eye appointment - lots of driving today)
Tuesday - Greek Rub Rib Chop, cheesy broccoli, twice baked potato
Wednesday - Meatballs and Rice Skillet with peas and carrots
Thursday - Sliced Mexican Pork dinner salad with romaine, fava beans, tomatoes, green onion, queso fresco
Friday - Brown Sugar Chicken, Divine Asparagus
Saturday - Our 34th Anniversary and we have two wine pick-ups so who knows what we will eat - probably grill something
Sunday - Fish Tacos with cabbage, monterrey jack, salsa, borracho beans

*Can it really be the end of September?!


Gina

Friday, September 27, 2019

5 thing Friday - garden plans, Stubby, corks, owl pillow, homebody me

Recently we visited my sister in Georgetown and were admiring her Pride of Barbados shrubs out front.  She never even planted them there - she says they just appeared and started growing!
The birds or wind must be scattering the seeds.  She gave me several seed pods and I hope to grow some of my own at Highlands since they are deer-resistant. 
 {I spy a hummingbird!}
Last weekend, the little dog that belongs to our neighbors at Highlands showed up to beg for breakfast scraps.  So much whining and shivering.
Stubby, I like petting you and all, but you don't belong to me and this bacon is all MINE.  We placed a table and some folding chairs in a little shady spot a ways down from the barn.  I hope that every time we decide to eat breakfast al fresco in this spot, he doesn't arrive to beg...
The new winery we joined, 7 Creeks, has this amazing cork art displayed in their tasting room.  I mean come on - this woman's cork creativity takes it to a whole new level!!  Her daughter-in-law said she just free-handed it, gluing and placing as she went, no plan.  Making one that is similar is my next cork art project!
{I mean, I have 3K corks and need a project, so...}
I splurged on this owl pillow from PB which looked a lot cuter on their website than it does in person.  But whatevs, it was $20 off with free shipping.  Since it takes a gigantic pillow form and I am a cheapo, I folded a large out-of-season blanket to stuff it with.  By the time we need the blanket, it will be time to decorate for Christmas.  Brilliant, no?
This week, I pulled my trusty crock pot out and made a chicken stew of sorts.  Then I cleaned the kitchen, swept and mopped the house, did all of the laundry, and made my bed.  It was so nice to come home to the house smelling wonderful and clean. 
I'm still a homebody at heart.


Gina

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Weekend re-cap: winery goings and doings

Last week seemed to go on forever...so by the time we got to Saturday morning, I made it a point to get moving early enough in the day so that we could head to Burnet and eat breakfast at El Rancho.  Afterwards, we did a few smallish projects at Highlands.  I can't even remember what we did for lunch...
But for dinner, we headed to the wine club pick-up party at Torr Na Lochs for sunset views, hot dogs, popcorn, theater candy...
 
 ...and of course, wine.
I haven't had hot dogs that good in a loooong time.  Everything tasted great!
The movie was pretty cheesey {A Walk in the Clouds}, but the breezes were blowing, owls were hooting, and the evening was quite relaxing.  One of the best pick-up parties we've gone to at this winery or anywhere!  We were back home to Highlands by 10 p.m. and though I tried to stay awake in my lawn chair, enjoying the cool breezes and stargazing, I pooped out by 11.  But so did Hubby!
 
The next day after lunch we headed to Wedding Oak - since it is on our way out of town it will likely be a regular stop off on Sunday afternoons.
The views from the second story lounge look out over the booming metropolis of Burnet.
And there is a "members only" lounge downstairs that we relaxed in for quite a while, until the friendly owner happened by.  Hubby and he talked each others' ears off for a bit.  Turns out Hubby won a bottle of wine in the drawing they held on the last pick-up event. (do you not LOVE the tiled floor?  Beautiful!)
 
Score!  He gave us a bottle of 2015 Tempranillo Reserva to take home.  On the way, we may or may not have stopped off at yet another winery...and we joined their wine club, which I have some remorse about.  But they have delightful wine, delish charcuterie, and the friendliest owners ever.  Plus, it doesn't hurt that they have chairs on a breezy yard underneath giant oaks overlooking a vineyard.  And each time we visit, we enjoy a complimentary glass of wine.  So, we have staked our spot out.  
We enjoyed a bottle of Alicante Bouchet - a new fav - then headed home to meet up with Firstborn so I could cut his hair.  We tried to get him to stay for dinner, but he had already eaten so we made plans to take him and his new girlfriend (haven't got an alias for her yet) to La Grange in a couple of weeks.  Its shaping up to be a fun Fall, full of going and doing on the weekends!


Gina

Monday, September 23, 2019

Empty Nest Menu #6

Hubby and I had a restful and fun weekend all rolled into one*.  
Let's get this week started!
Monday - Grilled Chicken, twice baked potatoes, spinach (using my Kohl's cash to order Hubby some new clothes today)
Tuesday - Stuffed peppers, corn (need to install some computer updates)
Wednesday - Crockpot Chicken Stew, garlic toast (hanging mini blinds in 3 bedrooms)
Thursday - Fajita Dinner Salads  (continue shaping up my home office and write a post about it!)
Friday - Soyaki Salmon with fried rice (study up on the new winery I will be investigating tomorrow, and I am on call tonight)
Saturday - Visiting two wineries in Fredericksburg, then to Highlands to make pizza
Sunday - Winging it - probably something from the freezer at home (taking my mother back to the eye doc tomorrow)

*I still miss Bubbie (and the others too, of course) but I am doing a good job of staying busy!


Gina

Friday, September 20, 2019

Here, and there, and here again

Today is a late posting, but that can't be helped...not sure if anyone reads this blog...but it helps me to blog my life so that I can keep track of it!  And decompress, maybe...

 Go directly to the back of this meat market for BBQ!

I picked Mother up bright an early from my sister's house in Georgetown and we drove straight to the eye doc in central Austin.  Traffic was the usual on a Friday, but we made good time since I took the toll road.  {Note to self: buy a toll tag already.}   The doc told my mother her eye looked good, post surgery, and we made a follow up appointment for the 30th.

 There is one choice for chips, people

We were all set to head back to Brenham when she realized she didn't have her glasses.  We called sister, who looked around and couldn't find them at her house either.  So we headed over to the surgery center just a few miles away.  After 20 minutes or so there, no luck.

 
 Pressed tin ceilings and giant windows

 About halfway to Giddings, where we decided to stop and eat BBQ,  sister found the glasses.  Praise.  They were in her purse, safe and sound, and she would get them mailed right off to Mother.

 You would think we were starving - a common theme for me lately

Crisis averted, we scarfed down some smoked pork shoulder sammies, potato salad, spicy pinto beans, and cokes.  Best lunch ever.

 Lyle Lovett memorabilia - bet he loved the pork shoulder, too

This BBQ restaurant and meat market was one of our favorite places to meet up in Giddings when my mother used to drive more.  Hopefully it will not be the last time we sit together here for lunch over BBQ sammies!  I will be picking her up in about a week, traveling to Austin, seeing the eye doc, traveling back to Brenham, then back to Austin.  Lots of driving, but I would rather know she will be safely transported there and back.

 A leaf impression in her driveway

And maybe we will stop at the BBQ place again.  God willing.


Gina

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Weekend re-cap - 4th Tap, Houston, San Marcos, home

It was a great weekend - we got to see a couple of our peeps, we ate good food, we relaxed.  Lately, I've been growing very weary of work.  It doesn't help that I have to park so far away.  And since I haven't had to whip out my ID card to get into the already full parking lot, I end up walking two blocks towards the hospital when I realize I left my ID in the car.  So, I'm getting a lot of steps in, if you want to find a silver lining in THAT.
I made a bacon and mushroom quiche for Friday dinner:
Which we promptly stored in the fridge in order to feed our faces with pizza at 4th Tap.
They were releasing their House of Torment Pumpkin Ale and since I love all things pumpkin, off we went.  I got zero pics of the pizza, but it was wonderful.  Since the ale release was a collaboration or tribute of some sort to a haunted house thing in Austin, there were scary clowns roaming around terrorizing people.  I was definitely not in the mood.  And I've had teenagers, you can't scare me, so go away.
But the beer was just OK.  We sat in their tank room as the tap room was FULL.  And people were wearing all manner of crazy costumes, but my phone mostly stayed face down on the table.  It was a week, people.
The next day we drove to Houston to visit The Girl*.  As you can see, her apartment is very expansive!  Lots of room for Teddy to play!  I made her one of her childhood favorites:  Enchiladas, (canned!) corn, black bean dip, and we had wine.  We watched about 100 episodes of Queer Eye and generally just lay around until bedtime.  Then the Girl cranked the A/C down to about 69, bless her, and I slept like a rock.
The next morning we took Ted to a fun outdoor place for brunch.
The sweet potato hash was the bomb!  Sweet potatoes, spinach, mushrooms, gruyere, avocado, egg, housemade aioli...YUM.  The Girl and Hubby ordered brisket hash which looked equally wonderful.  We all had croissants and coffee and it was all so good.  You would think we had never eaten.
We recovered back at her apartment, making our plans to visit a new to us winery in San Marcos, then take Bubbie to dinner. 
Check out the gigantic fig tree in their parking lot!
This winery was a nice little find .   I wrote up an article about it on Monday to send in for publication.  They had a big deck overlooking the San Marcos river and with fans blowing, it was quite pleasant.  We hung out there for a while before meeting Bubbie at his apartment and heading to get burgers for dinner.  Also, these happened:
A bunch of those got taken to go...along with half of my very delicious burger.
I had forgotten how good Grin's is - their broccoli cheese soup was amazing!
We dropped Bubbie back off, then drove to the top of his parking garage to admire the view.  Then we called it a weekend and headed home to put "big trash" out for the city's bulk pic-up this week.  An un-glamorous end to our traveling and eating weekend!
And now, here it is Wednesday, we are halfway to another weekend...
*Happy 28th birthday to my baby girlie!

Gina

Monday, September 16, 2019

Empty Nest Menu #5

Hopefully by the time this is published, I will have de-bugged my signature at the end of posts.  If not, I'll just keep typing one that I don't have to worry about...
Monday - Brown Sugar Chicken, basmati rice, carrots - Big Trash Day so we get to empty the garage of a few things - HOORAY
Tuesday - Crock Pot Ribs, 1/2 a twice baked potato, broccoli
Wednesday - Turkey Pesto Meatballs, whole wheat spaghetti, green beans
Thursday - Honey Sriracha grilled chicken salads
Friday - {kitchen closed - out to eat} Pick up my mother at my sister's house in Georgetown, take her to her follow up eye appointment in Austin, feed her lunch, drive to Brenham, pick up her dog at the vet, take her home, drive back to Austin, drink a stiff drink.
Saturday - Wine club pick-up in Burnet, so we will eat there
Sunday - Dr. Martin's Mix {an easy meal and we will have leftovers for lunch the next day}



Gina

Friday, September 13, 2019

5 thing Friday - another fiddle leaf, pretzels, rain needed, Bubbie cooking, Teddy

I found a smallish fiddle leaf fig at Target for $20, originally $30 and thought, OK, I guess I'm 100% on this fiddle leaf fig train. I'm getting it.  Not to mention its from Chip and Joanna, and I love trolling the clearance items in that section of Target.
 When I got to the register it rang up for $14.99!  I added the moss.  I lurve it.
The best road trip snack ever!  Found them at Ace hardware in Lampasas after a co-worker turned me on to them.  At $8 a bag, we are eating them in small servings and they live in the fridge at Highlands.  They're not exactly a health food, but go great with beer...
We were bemoaning the yellowed grass at Highlands and the lack of rain last Saturday, but then it came down in buckets on Sunday!  What we need is several sustained days of it there.  Makes me nervous from a fire standpoint.
Bubbie has been cooking for himself and actually took photos of a couple of my recipe cards so he could make the dishes up at college.  His first meal cooked for himself?  Dr. Martin's Mix, a family favorite.
 He even made himself some containers for lunches.  And sent me pics. 
I sure miss that kid.
Teddy made it into my first ever published article for Texas Wine Lover website.  Here he is relaxing on the oriental rugs scattered across the winery floors, looking ever so photogenic.  Go here to read the article!  My writing is truly a work in progress...
Happy Friday the 13th!


Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Learning to cook for two...again

I'm still figuring out this "cooking for two" thing.  You wouldn't think it would be so difficult.  I mean, I did it for years before we had kids and I was cooking for a house full of folks.  And you might also assume its cheaper to shop for two, but I haven't notice a huge downturn in spending, and that's probably because I am feeding us slighter higher quality food.  Hubby and I still aren't dropping much weight, but I feel like we are focusing more on eating healthy foods overall - more veg, less red meat, and no junk food.  I still miss coffee creamer after all these months, but I have held the line!
One of my favorite things to prep is a dinner salad, using romaine, fresh tomatoes, some kind of cheese, and bits and bobs of other veggies.  Since I don't buy the Imperfect Produce boxes any more, I have to make sure to pick up plenty of fresh veggies at the store and USE THEM on a daily basis.  Meal prep takes more time when you are factoring in all of the fresh stuff.  But if I give it a few minutes each morning it is manageable - its done in the morning, all I do in the evening is heat it up.
Also, I invested in some glass containers for packing our lunches in.  I've been buying frozen steamable veggies and layering up in a bowl.  In goes veggie and some sliced chicken or pork from my grilling at Highlands.  Or, I will cook a meal like I was doing for four people, and just serve and store the leftovers right away for a future lunch.  I try to pack a fruit and cottage cheese to go along with, as well as something I can keep in my pocket to keep me out of trouble at the gift shop. 
Who knew that cooking for two required as much, if not more, prep for two people as it did for six?




Monday, September 9, 2019

Empty Nest Menu #4


Bubbie has settled in well to classes and his apartment.  I take it as a good sign that we don't hear from him too often...in other news*, we need rain so badly!  The only thing thriving at Highlands is cacti, and even it needs WATER:
Monday - Conchitas con chicken**, lima beans
Tuesday - Pork Chop and pan gravy over rice, green beans with mushrooms
Wednesday - BBQ Lime Shrimp, zucchini medley, garlic toast
Thursday - Grilled Chicken Salads (romaine, pear, bleu cheese, pecans)The Girl's birthday!!
Friday - Bacon and veggie quiche (the 13th!  payday and put out stuff for Big Trash Day)
Saturday - Uuni pizzas (or maybe we will visit The Girl in Houston)
Sunday - Freezer Meal (its leftovers that I will heat once we get home)
*Super boring week so I think I'm going to work on a couple of small projects before I move on to a BIG one coming soon!
**This is a boxed pasta mix that I am adding chicken to




Friday, September 6, 2019

Friday shift change

I can tell the sunset is happening earlier in the evenings, as I walk to my car parked far away from  the very full employee lot!  And I won't have that problem today!
Today, instead of stopping at 10 a.m. to get ready for work, then leaving the house at 10:30, I get to go in later!  One of my co-workers is off, so I volunteered to work her shift, giving me a much-needed block of time in the morning to get some things done:

*get Subie's tire pressures checked
*get my hair cut
*take some books to resale and buy new ones, heck I might even go to the library!
*buy The Girl a birthday gift
*erase my ipod of Bubbie's music and re-load my own
*water my fig tree and the backyard potted plants
*clean out the red rocks and bag leaves
*do some minor filing
*maybe work on my cork project 

At 1 p.m., I plan to enjoy a lunch break AND a nap before getting a shower at 2 p.m. and heading to work.  I feel like its almost as exciting as getting a day off!  With any luck, we will be busy enough to make the time fly, and I will be tucked in my bed shortly after midnight.  Seems silly to be so happy about a change in shift, but I have gotten nothing done but chores this week.  And if I can start the weekend with an empty To Do list? 
 So much better.
Happy Weekend!



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