Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Checking in on Mother

A week ago I took a day off to see my mother in Brenham.  Its just easier to visit her on a weekday by myself, much as I love when Hubby can go and help us accomplish some brute strength task.  I get to ferry her around, working on her To Do list (below), and if she spends time on her not-so-happy memories of the past, she and I have confidentiality.
 I'm happy to say that we got everything on her list done!
 When we bought chicken feed, she also picked out some onions to plant.  It take it as a good sign that she feels well enough and can see well enough to be interested in her garden.  Between that and quilting she has creative outlets.
 Even if I worry how she interacts with people some time..she managed to be fairly reasonable to most of the people we met that day - she can be rather frank and short-tempered with people.
We enjoyed a lunch of ranch style beans with sausage, sliced BBQ pork shoulder, chips, cokes, and Oreos - all treats that she wouldn't normally eat - in her sunny kitchen.  No eating out this time.   And next time: housework must be done!
I was happy to spend the day with her, returning to Austin mid-afternoon.  Taking it one visit at a time, always hoping for peace and comfort for her, and asking for a little piece of mind for myself that she is faring OK. 


Monday, October 28, 2019

Empty Nest Menu #11

Inspiration for the Thanksgiving table:
Monday - Grilled Chicken, a baked potato, salad, laundry
Tuesday - Pork Chop, seasoned corn, mac and cheese
Wednesday - Gyros with yogurt sauce from here, sliced tomato and purple onion, kettle chips
Thursday - Crockpot Chili, corn muffins {Scout's 24th Birthday! Mammo appt. early in the a.m., then I work late}
Friday - Ravioli with sun dried tomato alfredo sauce, green beans {working late again! Getting my driver's license renewed today}
Saturday - Fondue Night {put up summer clothes, pull out Fall and Winter stuff, visiting Bubbie for breakfast and a new winery after that}
Sunday - Some kind of fish, baked sweet potatoes, spinach {pick-up party at Bent Oak Winery}


Friday, October 25, 2019

Saturday in Seguin

Last weekend we asked Firstborn if he and LA* wanted to visit a meadery nearby and they said yes (of course) a meadery we were bound!  {Well, they also had a winery,so win win!}  Along the way we might also have picked up some BBQ in Lockhart to enjoy with both.
Even through a dirty windshield, it was a beautiful day for a drive.
Seguin is about an hour or so out of Austin, just northeast of San Antonio, and thats where we visited Texas Mead Works and Blue Lotus Winery - actually one and the same tasting room.  We shared two tastings between four people and tried a variety of meads and wines - all great.  (Jalapeno or Cranberry Orange Spice mead, anyone?) They were running a crazy case special - 12 bottles of wine, mix and match from Merlot, Primitivo, and Muscat for $60 bucks.  Five dollars a bottle, so yes, please.
For about half a minute I thought about writing about our experience for publication.  Then I thought, nah, we are here to relax and enjoy the company of Firstborn and LA, so that's what we did.  Opting out of living in my phone for the afternoon.
They had a beautiful light and plant-filled tasting room and the most amazing fiddle leaf fig tree.  The wine steward was very nice and full of information about the wines and meads they make.  They happened to have a paint and sip class going on, so we had the whole tasting room to ourselves for quite a long time.  It was good to sit and chat with these two who seem to enjoy each other's company:
We played cards and a dice game, ate our BBQ and assorted snacks, and enjoyed just generally socializing.  It was a super relaxing and pleasant afternoon but quite the drive, so I think our next mead stop will be in Elgin. 
And just like that *snap* the weekend is here again!


*If I think of a better nickname I will change this - it just hasn't come to me yet!

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Progress on the shed, Part 2

We took Saturday off to take Firstborn and his gf (still don't have an alias) to Seguin for some BBQ, snacks, and mead.  We had a good time but it seemed like a lot of driving!  We ate a couple of Flyrite sammies for dinner, and got to bed early so we could go to Highlands on Sunday and finish up the shed.  Here is what we were starting with:
 We left it sitting with no doors and had just placed our work tables and tools and such inside.  It looked exactly the same a week later.
It was a dreary morning, but the day warmed up fast.  We built the doors in about an hour, then headed down to our rock pile to gather up roadfill for the interior.  I didn't take a current pic of the roadfill pile, but its basically an area off to the side of the driveway where the previous owner had a bunch of white rock and sand piled up.  We plan to use it to shore up the roads and other areas at Highlands.
MANY hours and four truckloads of roadfill later:
I do not kid when I said that we about killed ourselves on this "little" project.  We did take many water breaks, however.  It was ridiculously hard:  Shovel the gravel into the truck, take it back up the hill, shovel it into the shed, rock rake it in, repeat.
We also shored up the threshold with a 2x4 underneath, then filled around it with roadfill.  Works like a charm in making it easy to get the riding lawnmower in.
We took a break to eat lunch and sleep in our lounge chairs - best decision ever.  Then we cleared all of the crap tools and gear from around Mabel and neatly stored it in the shed.  Next weekend we may move some stuff out of the barn onto storage shelves in the shed - depends on the weather.  I didn't get a pic of the inside with all of the time.  But there is LOTS of room to store things.
Breaking camp, I went out to the truck to put some stuff in the backseat, and when I turned around...hang on...what is that by the wheel?
A tarantula was lurking around the truck - I have no idea what he was after, but he kept circling around underneath it, freaking me out.  When Hubby started the truck, he moved away, amazingly fast.  And with that, I hopped in and we left for home.  And just in time, as thunderstorms were all around us on the drive in.  We had dinner and just generally collapsed.  I am hoping that won't be the trend for weekends...


Monday, October 21, 2019

Empty Nest Menu #10

Fig tree of my dreams:
 Three Dudes Winery*

Monday - TJ's Chili Lime Chicken Burgers, freezer mashed potatoes, kale (grocery shopping after work)
Tuesday - Pork Stir Fry with pot stickers (put out Halloween stuff, buy candy, finish up Scout's birthday!)
Wednesday - Coconut Shrimp, chopped salad (visiting my mother in Brenham, then Fairweather Cider Co. for Texas Wine Lover)
Thursday - Tater Tot Casserole (a somewhat healthy version), garlic toast
Friday - OUT (taking dinner to Highlands to enjoy by the firepit!)
Saturday - TJ's Gorgonzola Pasta with Autumnal Pasta Sauce and a veggie, at Highlands(going to buy firewood for Camp Rustown)
Sunday - Birthday dinner with Scout and Dutch at home
*I know I already posted this pic, but OMG look at that tree!


Friday, October 18, 2019

5 thing Friday - curtains, Fall spiffing, Scout, salads, chores

I used some Kohl's cash, a good sale, and free shipping to order a curtain rod and some sheer curtains for the master bedroom:
You can barely see the tension rod hanging above the blinds.  I am waiting on the curtains to arrive (today?)  I've been wanting to do this for years!  {also, had to move that fig tree from in here as it made the room a little too jungle-y.  Into the front room it went.  
For now.} 
I added some fall pretty things to the den - a wicker pumpkin, a fall candle or two, and the mantle decor.  Side note:  it stays pretty and clean in here most of the time and makes me want to stay home and be a hermit. 
 Target Dollar Spot cheap thrills: A tiered tray thingy, some random snips of greenery, a candle, some pumpkins, and a cute sign.  I think I spent a whopping $8, but its cute in the spare bathroom.  Bubbie let me use his wax tart burner and it lives in here, too, scenting up the place nicely.
Picking out a birthday gift for Scout is not easy - I don't see him all that often so I don't really know what he needs or would like.  I settled on a wireless charger for his iphone and some seasonal adult bevvies, and he will most likely get some money in his card.  I am hoping that he and Dutch can come for dinner and birthday cake.
Dinner last night was probably the last of our salad nights, as it doesn't seem to mesh with Fall.  I think we will switch out salad night for soup night.  Last night was grilled chicken, roasted honey corn, queso fresco, red onion, tomatoes, and pumpkin seeds on romaine.  I will miss salad nights with all the fresh veg, but I think I can come up with some healthy soups for us and use the crockpot to boot.
It used to be that with all 6 of us here, I could not let laundry (or anything else, really) slide more than a day.  But some days I don't feel like doing chores and truth be told, I'm still getting used to the idea that there is only two of us here.  Besides, who is gonna see this but us?  


Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Progress on the shed, part 1

We left for Highlands as soon as I got home from work on Friday, stopping at El Rancho first to load up on enchiladas.  (turns out that was the only decent meal we had for the next two days!)  The next morning we hitched up the trailer and headed to Marble Falls to buy this:
After lots of measuring and consideration we settled on the slightly larger storage building (8x12) so that we would have room for the riding lawnmower, and ALL of the assorted tools and camping gear and whatnot.
Getting it loaded into the trailer was fun - it doesn't look like it weighs 300 pounds, does it?  The people who helped us at Lowe's were so nice, though, clearing a dumpster out of the way so they could forklift it into the trailer.  And here is where we cleared a spot for it to live:
 This spot is close to the barn, gets shade all day, and is somewhat level as it is on dirt, not giant rocks.
Instead of off-loading it, we are using the back of the trailer as a staging area to unpack and sort the contents.  Everything is numbered, so we sorted it all out.
Within a short time we were ready to start.  I don't have any pics of us building the frame out, but that's what we did first.  Thank goodness we picked this weekend to start it - the weather was perfect!
Bottom frame all built, corners on.  {At this point, I laughed to read in the instructions that from here on out it was going to require "two people and many hours of work"}  We took a short break for lunch and a nap in the lounge chairs.
 Then we added on all of the walls. (and I only cut myself on them once - that's all it took to leave my gloves on for the day!)
And once we got all of the walls on, we cleared up the workspace and called it a day - we were running out of daylight.
Here is where we left off on Saturday.
Sunday dawned and we were sore!   But we forged on, building the gables and adding on the roof beams.  The instructions were not kidding when they said it was hard work.  {Hubby knows what he's doing on these projects.  Me?  Not so much}
Those beams are steel and quite heavy, and I had to hold them up over my head while Hubby bolted them on. We actually got the roof completely done which was the most ridiculously hard thing we've ever built!  Stay tuned for the rest of the progress - we have a ways to go.  Left to do:

*build the door and install it
*reinforce the bottom of each wall panel
*adjust the building so that it is still level, shore up the threshold
*fill the floor with gravel road base

And after that?  We unload the barn and lay our plans for the cabin!


Monday, October 14, 2019

Empty Nest Menu #9

We've been noticing how the red wasps love this corner of the barn...there must be an enormous nest inside because they kept taking their babies out to the fresh air last weekend.  I guess we will let them live - they don't mess with you unless you mess with them.
Monday - Crockpot Chicken Chili, topped with cheese, sour cream, and green onions
Tuesday - BBQ Pork Chop, peas, chunky mashed potatoes
Wednesday - Veggie Spaghetti with meat sauce, green beans
Thursday - Twisted Cobb Salads {grilled chicken, romaine, roasted corn, grape tomatoes, queso fresco, pumpkin seeds, and ranch vinaigrette}
Friday - Cod with herbed lemon butter crumbs, steamed carrots
Saturday - Fondue Night!
Sunday - Vegetarian Stuffed Sweet Potatoes (with black beans and a yummy chipotle sour cream topping)


Friday, October 11, 2019

Made it through the week

I thought about writing a regular moan and groan on Fridays, then I thought, no...that's what the other blog is about!  This one is supposed to be our "family blog".  But this last week sure took the pep out of me.  And from the looks of it, I wasn't the only one at work that struggled. (Supervisor, I'm looking at YOU)
     Maybe its that respiratory season seems to already be upon us and the volumes are waaaay up.  As well as football season with its assorted injuries and a corresponding spike in surgery cases.  And just ahead is the holiday season, with its own challenges.  Co-workers around me seem to losing their patience and maybe a few of them, myself included, are suffering from compassion fatigue.  The daily back and forth struggle with other areas of the hospital, the increasing and constant hum of the ER, the irritation of change and miscommunication and just general disconnectedness throughout.
In any case, I have to state it - the week was something I only just made it through.

In any case, hooray for Friday.  The weather will cool, if only for a weekend, but maybe enough time for me to recharge.  We are building a storage unit at Highlands and getting ready to move forward on finishing out the barn - an idea 3 years in the planning.  Hopefully, burgers, wine, a firepit, and two lounge chairs will also be part of the plan.


Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Weekend re-cap: Cafe Java, Perisso's, STW, Bill's, Wedding Oak, Highlands

We started our Saturday by enjoying a frou frou coffee drink at a favorite neighborhood cafe.
 We have never been here that it wasn't packed, and we were here early!  No worries - its fun to sit and sip your coffee and admire all of the funky art they have.
 The food is always served hot and the wait is very reasonable.
 Big thumbs up to migas and brisket breakfast tacos.
 We figured it was going to be a loooong time until lunch!
We went directly to Highlands and off-loaded all the *crap* we seem to take each weekend.  It never ceases to amaze me how much stuff gets shuttled up there: miscellany and supplies and the occasional booze...with a sweet anniversary card from Hubby.
My pics of the wine club pick-up at Perisso's were few and far between, but we had a good time.  We enjoyed the "sip and stroll", a brat sammie, and a bottle of Malbec with some new friends we met in the tasting room, Jean and Mike.  Mike kept us fairly well entertained and Jean played his "straight man".  They were a hoot.  We hope to see them again in the future as they are new wine club members.  We picked up our wine and headed over to the Save The World 5th Anniversary party.
Hubby missed the pic by about 1 minute...
We were technically late to this party, but we got there as quick as we could!  We enjoyed our pours on the shady front patio and it was nice to see the owners back from their trip to Belgium.
 And we didn't win any of the raffle prizes, but had a great time.
I really enjoyed the beer brewed with Syrah grapes from Perissos- Sol Vinum - and my all-time favorite, Jonas Relief which is their pumpkin ale.  Both are technically celebration beers {meaning they are higher ABV and meant to be shared} so I can only enjoy a couple of them at a time!  We got to keep the pretty glasses.
**Anniversary dinner was take-out from Chicken Express - a very low key affair!**
 The next day I took zero pics of the site prep we did at Highlands to get ready to build our storage unit.  The storage unit will house all of the assorted camping and canoeing stuff while not in use, as well as be a safe place to park the mower.  Our goal is to be able to walk completely around Mabel as well as finish out the inside of the barn.  Stay tuned for any progress we make on that...
We split a burger, a chicken sammich, and some onion rings at Bill's Burgers for lunch.  {We didn't even fight over the last one}  This place is not full of ambience, but the food is hot and fresh and they do have some of the best onion rings I've ever had!    Afterwards we stopped by Wedding Oak on the square in beautiful downtown Burnet and enjoyed the view, the a/c, and the wine from the members only lounge.
Then we returned to Highlands, spent hours lounging there, and headed home to enjoy some salmon burgers and yellow squash which were both pretty good.  And that was our anniversary weekend in a nutshell!  This coming Saturday and Sunday will be full of hard work, so I don't feel one bit guilty... I just wish the weekends didn't go by so fast!



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