Friday, May 29, 2020

Feeding us

Wednesday when I got home from visiting my mother in Brenham, I was thrilled to have leftovers from Sunday to serve us for dinner.  And that's how it seems to be going lately - its hard to cook for just two, so every meal seems like it will feed four or more.  Usually, I package up the leftovers from a meal and zap them into the freezer straightaway for future meal or a lunch for work.  Since I have been hating grocery shopping amid the whole pandemic, I've been able to stretch the food we have here.  Like I say, its just two people, and I can get pretty creative at times.
I was too tired to even finish dinner!

I'm not sure if I should set routine menus going forward.  It sounds and looks like we are eating the same things most of the time.  I am still ordering fresh fruits and veggies from Imperfect and the variety of that is contingent on whatever they have.  I'm getting a little weary of the daily dinner prep but its nice to come home to a plate of food all ready to heat up and there is no mess since I also clean the kitchen before I leave the house.  Its just easier that way.  On nights that I don't cook, one of us will pick something up.  And although Hubby says "cooking is fun", he isn't doing any of it.  So I think that we will also start up grilling again, as that is his forte. 
Next week's menus have already been planned out and I'll just leave them be.  But I might start documenting more of what we ate, not what we plan to eat.  I think I should also start a rudimentary grocery budget and really look at what we are eating.  I would like to go back to eating more fresh fish and less red meat for a start.  I hear news that the grocery supply situation is going to get dire, but I don't actually see evidence of that in the store.  And I think the time has come to stop all of the "comfort eating" here.
How is all the food preparation going for you?


Gina

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Weekend re-cap: Westcave, Narrow Path, Graveyard, 12 Fox, Last Stand, Highlands

Late Wednesday posting on a Thursday because I had a full day yesterday and no time to work at my computer...plus, its getting *cramped* in my office/craft room and Hubby isn't heading back to work anytime soon.  So maybe we will have to snag one of the other spare rooms at Camp Rustown and figure something out!
 We started last Saturday visiting the new Westcave Cellars location in Hye to pick-up our wine club wines.  Apparently, a lot of other folks had been looking forward to that and the place was filling up! We grabbed a swing, opened up our picnic tote, and enjoyed some High Plains Cab Sav.  
{I would love to show more pics, but the owners aren't quite done getting everything ready and I want to write about the new place for Texas Wine Lover}
The breezes were blowing and it was very relaxing.  We met a couple from Austin who were very friendly and chatted with us for a while at least 6 feet away!
Since we had driven out so far to the hill country, might as well make our way to another couple of places we wanted to visit.  Next on the list was Narrow Path in Stonewall.  A family owned, boutique winery with a cozy vibe.  They have a large covered patio that looks out over their vines and lots of cushioned patio chair seating.
 They aren't doing tastings, so we settled on a bottle of Dreamchaser - a Tempranillo/Merlot blend - and staked our claim to some chairs under the shade.
 It was so great to sit looking out over the wide open spaces!  Of course, Hubby never having met a stranger, we chatted with a couple from Cedar Park who was seated nearby.  Weekends always remind me that its still a small world and you can meet new people, even in a pandemic.  On the way home, we stopped at Graveyard Vineyards and it was great that the owner remembered us.  We chatted for a bit and enjoyed a glass, but it was time to get home soon - Bubbie was coming home for a visit.  We picked up fried chicken for dinner at home and all of us called it an early night.
 The next day we took Bubbie for beer!  First stop: 12 Fox.  They had a Salt Lick BBQ trailer, live music and LOTS of people, including kids.  Less my speed than a quiet winery.  But people are probably pretty eager to get their kids out of the house for a while!
 Everyone seemed happy to be out in the sun and virtually no one was wearing a mask.  Picnic tables were all spaced 6 feet apart with families eating BBQ and chatting across the spaces.  I can't tell you how happy that made me feel.  Since no one who is sick should be at a brewery or winery {if you're sick STAY HOME} let the rest of us breathe fresh air!  AMEN.
 We filled the growler up a couple of times, but it was all "low octane" as I like to call it.  BBQ nachos and a pulled pork sammie went nicely with Chocolate Dunkel beer.  YUM.
Next, we headed over to Last Stand Brewing.  We were actually looking for a cider place nearby, but it was closed.  Last Stand had very nice folks who know a lot about how to get you something you will like.  I ordered a coffee porter, but the keg floated after about 4 ounces, so I got that for free to try.  It was delightful, but gone, so I had a Fuzzielucious, and it was refreshing out in their "beer garden" with very little breeze and climbing temps.  After one beer we headed home - Firstborn and Leighann came for dinner and it was so great to see them!  We enjoyed a delicious ham dinner and played a couple of games afterwards.  Family time is not to be under-rated.
On Monday we slept in, ate breakfast with Bubbie before he headed back to San Marcos, then went to Highlands to spend the day.  I rooted around in the dry storage locker and found the fixin's for a bean skillet lunch.
In no time I had it gently bubbly away.  Never underestimate a cast iron skillet of beans with Spam - I know its not gourmet, but I was after simple and filling.  We enjoyed it by the firepit with a new friend.
 I know you can barely see the small "blob" in the center of the photo next to the plank of wood that is braced against the firepit lid, but it is a tarantula.  It was just trucking along, headed right towards us when I saw it out of the corner of my eye and told Hubby to get up and walk away from the chair he was in!
Hubby grabbed our snake-killing shovel and shooed it off back towards the thicket behind us, where it hung in a small sprig of oak, probably traumatized at being shoveled.  It wasn't harmed and it eventually left for denser cover.  We spent the rest of the afternoon, mostly sitting in our chairs, playing cards, talking a walk around the property.
On the way back up to the barn we spotted a Great Horned Owl perched on a telephone wire, just beginning the evening hunt.  Guess that's our signal to head home.  At home we ate pulled pork nachos {which were gloopy and wonderful} and watched a bit of TV before bed.  It wasn't an exciting Memorial Day, but we did enjoy our freedoms and see our peeps, so all is well.  
No adult bevvies this weekend - I'm on call...


Gina

Monday, May 25, 2020

Empty Nest Menu #40

Subject to change, just like life lately...
Monday - 5 Minute Italian Chicken , corn on cob
Tuesday - (freezer) Pulled Pork Sammies, coleslaw {catch up on 3 mos worth of ironing}
Wednesday - Pot of Beans with smoked Turkey (never made this last week) {to Brenham}
Thursday - Queso Chicken and rice bowls with broccoli
Friday - Porcupine Meatballs (again, never made these...), brussel sprouts, baked potatoes
Saturday - Eat out {on call all weekend}
Sunday - Chicken Sausage Skillet with peppers and onions
Dessert this week is Easy Peach Cobbler with ice cream


Gina

Friday, May 22, 2020

5 thing Friday - rain, figs, hair, reading, baking

Its supposedly going to rain all weekend.  Through Tuesday.  Delightful, as I haven't turned on the sprinkler system yet for what lives of our lawns.
I'm sure the fig will appreciate it.  My mother's fig trees produce a lot more figs than mine - probably because Brenham gets more rain.  She says she grabs the figs off the tree as soon as they are big enough - she checks it daily - to keep the birds and squirrels from eating all of them.  I don't really have time to police my figs.
If I worked from home, I would also fold Rustown projects in amongst my work.  Like re-potting all of my plant babies, doing a bit of yardwork, and checking my fig tree for figs.  Why does the rain only threaten on the weekends when I am off?!  
 I took two silly selfies to show my daughter that my hair is too long.  I'm biding my time until the lines to get a haircut aren't so long.  I hate going on the weekends, too.  Another thing to try to get done before 11 a.m. during the week.  It gets very "lank" when its long, and I just have to pull it back, which further breaks areas of it.  Older hair problems.
 New novel to read, composed of short stories.  All of the stories are woven around trees and are very thought-provoking.  The three I have read so far are centered on family dynamics, which I find fascinating.  I am slowly making my way through the Birth Order Book, and I still need to finish The Husband's Secret.
Baking this week included a Quiche Lorraine and some delicious banana brickle muffins.  Half of that quiche went into the freezer so we could enjoy it as a future lunch.  I used my freezer pie crust and it came out PERFECT.  The muffins will slowly disappear.
 I have been cooking every day and I have reached my limit of it this week.  I am electing to pick-up takeout on my way home tonight.  Then on Sunday, I have changed up the menu because we are inviting our peeps to have dinner with us.  Sliced Glazed Ham {from Easter}, Loaded Mashed Potatoes, and buttery seasoned peas with a Pineapple Dream dessert.  Spring, re-set.  All of us are healthy and all of us need some family time.  And bonus:  I get Monday off!
Happy Weekend!



Gina

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Weekend re-cap: BBQ, wine, barn cleaning, haircut

Last weekend, Hubby and I made a pact not to spend the entire weekend doing chores - in fact, we even said "NO chores" , but that didn't exactly pan out.
However, it wasn't all work.  We traveled to Marble Falls and filled up our growler at Save the World,  ran by Lowe's for I-forget-whats, then stopped at a favorite BBQ place in Burnet and picked up some sammies to go.  This place is right on the highway and this "crisis" hasn't seemed to slow their business down a bit.  He makes the world's best brisket sandwich!
 To 7 Creeks we traveled next, eating our sammies on their breezy porch, then enjoying a bottle under their oak grove in our favorite chairs.  It was windy and cool and really relaxing.
The vines love the Texas Hill Country!
Like Many other folks, I am happy that things are starting to go back to some sort of normal.  I ordered some face masks from my favorite wine blog so that we can be stylish on the weekends!  I'm ready to get back out there and explore.
Back at Highlands we had a short list of putseys to do - I cleaned up the cushions for these chairs and gave them a touch-up of black spray paint.  I ordered some citronella votive candles last summer that smell really nice and seem to last a long time.  The cute jar they are in is from Dollar Tree.
 A recent storm had blown the cabana lounger several feet away and we had to put that back, but everything else was unscathed.  Hubby hooked up some lighting that he strung in the trees out front and I put new chalkboard labels on the dry storage lockers.  We mostly relaxed the rest of the afternoon.  I made a skillet sauce with fresh tomatoes to eat with fresh ravioli pasta by the campfire. 
The next morning Hubby did a bit more mowing.  Then we cleared out under the barn overhang in prep for power washing.  It had never been done, I guess.  So full of dirt, spider webs, bird nests...ugh.  
 I didn't take a whole of befores and it was so wet afterwards (and we were so tired) that I didn't take "afters"  Maybe this weekend I will give everyone "the tour" of the barn!  Mabel has such a perfect nook to hide from under the brutal Texas summer sun.  She got a shower, too.
After showering off the grime from that happy little chore, we enjoyed a BBQ charcuterie - sliced beef sausage, leftover BBQ sauce, buttery crackers, muenster,  proscuitto mozzarella chunks, and a random sliced banana.   
We also enjoyed a mimosa!  We used ruby red grapefruit in ours, and while delightful, mimosas aren't really my favorite thing.  We hooked up the trailer in prep for helping Firstborn and LA move into a new apartment today, then headed back so I could cut his hair.  I guess when he's a bit further away, he won't be driving all the way to me for haircuts?  I don't know, but I don't mind doing it - I save him some money and get to chat with him.  We ate some freezer lentil soup and called it a night early.  
Busy weekends mean not too much time to feel bored or sad...but they wear us out!


Gina

Monday, May 18, 2020

Empty Nest Menu #39

I finally went grocery shopping and got enough food to last us another 2 or 3 weeks, assuming I keep ordering veggies from Imperfect.
Monday - Enchilada Chicken, onions and peppers, sweet potato fries {dentist appt.}
Tuesday - Quiche Lorraine, spinach salad with Copper Pennies dressing
Wednesday - Crunchy Beef Bake, squash {helping Firstborn and LA move}
Thursday - Crock Pot Beans with smoked turkey leg, Buttery Beer Bread
Friday - Bruschetta Meatloaf, (freezer) mashed potatoes, green beans {payday}
Saturday - Big Lunch (but we will have that skillet queso again, this time with sweet mini peppers for a dinner, with a salad), pick-up at Westcave Cellars
Sunday - Salsa Verde Pork Tacos with onion, cilantro, avocado, cheese, and sour cream, and leftover  beans


Gina

Friday, May 15, 2020

5 thing Friday - lockers, cacti, the great outdoors, spices, eating,

We moved the set of lockers we had at Camp Rustown, thinking they would be good for dry storage at Highlands, and they fit the space perfectly.  We have it a new coat of green enamel - here they are loaded, with the second coat drying.
I ordered some stick on chalk labels and a chalk pen to label them so we don't have to open each door to discover where things are!  The barn is coming along as a guest cottage.  Last weekend we bought a portable A/C and removed the window unit that was LOUD and inefficient.  Next up: sewing curtains.
 Last year I planted lantana in the tractor tire under the Highlands sign and it promptly died.  I dug it up and plopped a hunk of prickly pear in there and it took off and is blooming!  There are small rocks at the base of the cactus to discourage weeds, and Hubby put a solar light that shines down on the sign.  Looks pretty at night when we are coming along the drive.
 Its still cool enough for firepits even though the days say summer.  I'm sad that we missed out on Spring, but we have quite a bit of putsey projects to work on up here - no time to be bored or sad on the weekend.  Case in point:  
Now that that the bluebonnets are gone, we have lots of mowing to do.
 I cleaned out the spice cabinet at home and combined some random things to make seasonings for cooking at Highlands.  Now that I have a kitchen space to meal prep and store things, should be easier to whip up something easy and good to eat.  
I bought a pegboard basket for spices and a small bottle of olive oil for this space, so I consider it complete.  We can store canned goods in the locker for easy meals, just in case of Zombie Apocalypse, you know.
Hooray me for sticking to the oatmeal routine, even as I know Hubby and I aren't losing any weight.  I add nuts and dried fruit to mine, with a touch of honey.  It makes up for lunches like this:
That's got to be a half pound of BBQ brisket and I felt like a slug all afternoon, but it sure was good!  The weekend is here again - time to make out my list of things to do.  And I want to start planning a "family reunion" for getting all of our peeps together in the summer.


Gina

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

A dose of mama time

I went to see my mother today, hence the late post.  I haven't gone to see her since the middle of February, and previous to that, I was seeing her at the least once per month.  She lives a couple of hours away, so I was often taking a day off work to go check on her.  
 The time had come for me to see her.  Neither one of us is sick or has any Covid symptoms.  And I am at my limit of patience with everyone having to hide in their homes.  There's no crisis in Austin.
I got her grocery list and stopped at HEB on the way in.  Along with her things, I picked up some rotisserie chicken and a bagged Caesar salad with a big avocado, some Hawaiian rolls, and a sweet treat for dessert.  I also bought her some gin and ruby red grapefruit juice for Mother's Day - she loves Salty Dogs!  Once we had visited in her sewing room a bit, we enjoyed a nice lunch.
We talked about everything and nothing.  I was cheered to see that she has a full pantry, fridge, and freezer.  She is doing well financially, physically, and mentally.  Big sigh of relief to see that in person.  Even Gus seems to be doing well for a 12 year old, and I am glad she has him for constant companionship.  The minute she saw me she said "oh, I wish I could hug you".  It makes me tear up to think of it.
 I cut her hair and cleaned up the kitchen.  Then she served up our dessert:  a big piece of chocolate cake with dulce de leche ice cream. 
 It sure hit the spot.  Afterwards, we walked around her garden so she could show me everything, and we gathered two more eggs from the chickies.  I came home with a big purple onion, some fresh green beans, and 12 large fresh eggs.  
I think her haircut came out OK - looks like it always has, just shorter!  She has lots of cowlicks and I am not used to cutting female heads...  I've noticed that, as my hair thins, cowlicks are making their appearance on my head, too.
She let me go through her fabric to find something to make into curtains for the barn.  They don't have to be fancy - I was going to use burlap - but I think I will use these flour sacks instead.  They are cheery and pretty and will remind me of her.  I feel a little annoyed at being gypped of two months I could have been checking on and helping my mother.  I was careful to wash my hands and wipe down all of the things from the grocery store.  And I ended up giving her that hug.
I will not wait 2 more months to revisit!


Gina

Monday, May 11, 2020

Empty Nest Menu #38

Monday - Taco Chicken Bites, refried beans, corn on the cob {order Imperfect Foods box}
Tuesday - Porcupine Meatballs, steamed carrots, sauteed bok choy 
Wednesday - One Pot Spaghetti, green beans {Spring semester ends for Bubbie, Off today - go check on my mother, grocery shop}
Thursday - Link sausage with onions and peppers, seasoned rice
Friday - Roast Pork over a baked potato with sauteed mushrooms and cheese
Saturday - Eat out {finish mowing at Highlands}
Sunday - (freezer) Lentil Soup with cheese toast
Dessert this week is chocolate covered raisins, because I love 'em

P.S.  Today marks the 50th anniversary of this event



Gina

Friday, May 8, 2020

5 thing Friday - reading, barn progress, queso, owls house, weather

I started reading this book and it is very interesting and entertaining:
 I'm a Firstborn in my little group
Reading along, it does not surprise me that I fit the profile so well.  Even though I am my mother's 6th child, and my father's 5th, there were only teenagers and pre-teens around when I was born, and I didn't meet my older sister Maggie until my place as firstborn of my group was well established.  So that 4 years between she and I did not change that dynamic.  And although my younger sister was only 14 months behind me, she was forever a middle-born, and very much fits the profile.  Had my little brother not had challenges, he would have been given much more stature as the first boy for my parents.  But his slot will always be "baby of the family", even though I have a brother younger than he from my father and step-mom.  My family seems fairly complicated compared to most...
 At Highlands, we are dreaming of where the house will eventually be.  I seem to take this particular picture a lot.  This last weekend might have been one of the last that we enjoy the firepit as it is getting quite a bit warmer here.
We still have some things to do in the barn - namely installing the molding at the top of the walls and painting the inside.  The walls that don't have pegboard have beadboard, and everything will be a creamy white.  (I paused on Sunday and took a couple of photos mid-morning - so everything is not clean and put back, like the large skillet, mugs, coffee pot...) In the photo above you can see drinking water, coffee pot, fridge, oven, bar, eating supplies like paper plates and plasticware, and cutting board over the sink opening.
The pegboard helps to organize and get stuff up off the floor and work surfaces.  Dutch let us use her red microwave, and we also have the small SPT oven atop the fridge. We have a TV, old metal lockers for dry storage, and a vacuum cleaner that you can't see.  We will get this ship shape into a guest cabin soon!  Baby steps.  
The fridge is small, but we store condiments and drinks in it, as well as things we take up to cook over the weekend.
 Speaking of cooking over the weekend, I made a melty pepper queso skillet that we scooped onto French bread slices that was WONDERFUL.
I seared some padron peppers on high heat in a lightly oiled cast iron skillet.  Then I turned off the heat, removed the peppers, and added a tablespoon of butter.  When that melted, I poured in a bag of shredded salsa verde cheese (I think it was Taco Bell brand), put the cooked peppers back on top, and sliced some bread to eat with it.  It ended up being our Happy Hour lunch!
 Here is a sunnier and happier pic of the barn owl house.  I hope we get some residents!  I'm so happy it isn't raining every weekend anymore.  The rainy skies and quarantine were starting to do a number on my psyche.  Lately the weather has been beautiful and everything is either growing or blooming.  Come on Summer!


Gina

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