Monday, March 30, 2020

Less Empty Nest Menu #32

Spring isn't broken even if it feels that way...
Monday - Stir Fry with Ramen (with an assortment of veggies)
Tuesday - Lentil Soup, corn bread
Wednesday - Pork Chops, Tomato Chickpea Salad, fresh veg*
Thursday - Sloppy Joes, chips or tots
Friday - Red Curry Chicken, brown rice, fresh veg
Saturday - Pasta with meat sauce, fresh veg  {we have a wine activity that I'm sure will get cancelled...}
Sunday - Tuna Salad on toast (we never had this last time)
Dessert this week is Lemon Cream Pie**
*As of this writing, it remains to be seen whether I get all that I ordered from Imperfect Foods.  Last week they left out stuff I had planned in the menus.  Not cool.  Veggies I selected were broccoli, brussels sprouts, kale, and squash.
**Dessert takes the edge off the week and makes people happy.  Its practically medicinal.


Friday, March 27, 2020

Eating lunch out

I've re-discovered a shady and beautiful area at the hospital that almost no one uses.  Its called the Healing Garden, and it wraps around the back of the building.  Full of blooms and birds and art and peace and light.  Not to get all New-Agey, but it is the PERFECT place to take a breather and enjoy a quiet lunch.

 In our breakroom, we have people who want to obsessively compulsively watch the news at full volume.  Or tell you their political thoughts.  Or talk too loudly on personal cell phones.  Or breeze through and comment on what you are eating.  Or ask questions and offer opinions and in general just be terrible.

Out here there is none of that.  Take off your mask, find a pretty spot.  Eat your lunch.  Breathe fresh air and listen to birds.

That's my lunch kit up above - I am still taking my lunch, avoiding the cafeteria.  I heat up my lunch and rush out to the garden.  I'm the only one there and its amazing.

Its a beautiful place - my photos do not do it justice.  I need to take a few more pics each day that I am out here.  And I do plan to be out here.  Every day I have to work.

If your head isn't right - you find yourself having trouble sleeping, or you're spending a lot of time worried about the state of things...unplug yourself.  From social media, from your computer, from the news, from annoying co-workers.  
And just go outside and eat your lunch.


Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Weekend re-cap: groceries, Highlands, Westcave, home

I'm hopeful that the new normal on the weekends will be short-lived.  Gloomy skies and long lines at the grocery store are nothing to look forward to.
 While I am grateful that I have a car to get there early, and money to pick up what we need (no hoarding at my house) I sincerely do not want to spend my weekends doing chores and shopping.
 I waited in line for 40 minutes, shopped for 25.  And I was calm as I quickly made my way through the store, mindful that many were still waiting in that long line outside.
 A full pantry resulted.  Like I said, we aren't hoarding.  I think that between cooking and take-out, we can feed ourselves for two weeks.  I focused mainly on dried beans, meat, and cheese.  {why yes, that IS Spam} We are still getting our Imperfect Foods boxes weekly and plan on eating take-out for a few meals a week.  I want us to do our part for the small businesses in Austin and Burnet!  Plus, a growler to go is a wonderful thing.
 I had plans to be a hermit after grocery shopping, but got hooked into going to Highlands since Bubbie was coming with.  We picked up burgers and beer and sat in the yard around the firepit until a thunderstorm swept across the hill.  An impressive lightening strike took out one of the breakers near the pumphouse.  Hubby said it lifted his legs off the ground!
Afterwards it was gloomy and we were over it, so we headed back home.  I made an amazing tater tot casserole and we all pooped out.  The next day we picked up our wine from Westcave {with an extra bottle thrown in as a thank you from the owners}, then headed back to Highlands to replace the breaker.  {thank goodness it was fixable!} By the time we got home it was after 5 p.m.  I had thawed some homemade enchilada sauce to simmer over chicken breasts and serve over rice.  It was delicious and made for a couple of great leftover lunches to boot.  And with that, the weekend ended and we are all tossed into this crazy week.  One day at a time...


Monday, March 23, 2020

Less Empty Nest Menu #31

Monday - Mole Chicken over brown rice, a frozen veggie {order produce box}
Tuesday - Pot o' beans with smoked turkey leg, corn muffins, chopped onion
Wednesday - Scalloped Potatoes with ham and carrots
Thursday - Order pizza (or something) out - keep local restaurants going!
Friday - Sliced Sausages with bell pepper and onion, tater tots, side of beans from Tuesday {will I finally go get my hair cut?}
Saturday and Sunday - TBD  I didn't get everything I was charged for in my Imperfect Foods box!  And I'm not sure if Bubbie will still be here over the weekend so dinner choices will depend on that and I might get creative!


Friday, March 20, 2020

5 thing Friday - signs, art, stars, halls, Kudos

Its been a weird week.  Hubby home all up in my office space.  Bubbie home, sleeping mostly.  Me working and extra hour here or there.  Bad news and stressed out people at work.  So much ugh.
 Last weekend we took a pic of the above sign into our POA intending to order 3 inch letters to add ourselves to the sign.  Still haven't done that, nor have I purchased my own Cricut to do it myself.  But since I won't be spending money out at wineries, maybe I will do that this weekend!  The Spring of getting things done at home, right?
One of the wineries we love has these painted brick walls with beams on the top painted black, then chains that hang down to attach art to.  Its so simple and I love it.  Side note:  the artist featured is selling the small acrylic paintings for $50.  FIFTY!  I sent pics of them to a friend who has made many of them for co-workers fo free.  And Dutch has been making them since I gifted her two medium sized ones a couple Christmases ago.
The stone garden just outside of a winery in Dripping Springs has these concrete stars scattered under the trees.  I want to do a project like this at Highlands!  Big stars for Mark and I, medium for our peeps, small ones for grandchildren.  I have a long time to find the molds as none of them are currently creating a family.  As far as I know.  I think we may get a baby boom in the U.S. after this virus things ends.
 Missing:  all of the Little Tykes cars that are normally parked outside of the OR at work.  Notice that they left the stop sign...this feels super eerie to me.
I re-did the Kudos board at work last night with a timely theme.  The one next to it that is covered in stars is getting done today.  I think it will be important for all of us to keep our heads up and be supportive of each other.  I also think that the worst may be yet to come.  The hospital is very quiet.  We all need to be gearing up and ready.


Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Weekend re-cap: painting, breweries, wineries, exploring, relaxing

Its been awhile since I talked about what we did on the weekend. This last weekend we actually got to explore before returning to the Zombie Corona Apocalypse!
 I got up early to finish up some small projects around the house, including painting the green accent wall in the hall and hanging the abstract art.  Goodbye family portrait collage wall!  Maybe when I am all done with touch ups, I will post the afters of this project (hopefully in better light).
We made a hard stop at 11:30 and headed towards Marble Falls, stopping at Chicken Express.  Weekends are for fried things! STW was releasing their Honey Gold Strong Ale, so we enjoyed one (or two) while enjoying our shared chicken lunch.  It might look like no one else was there, but they were actually doing a good business.  The skies were grey, but the beer and fried chicken were delightful, as were the tunes playing on the patio.  People looked relaxed. 
 After some time there, we headed to Highlands to cook dinner and enjoy the firepit.  The bluebonnets are ramping up so I hope to get some good pics of those soon.  The next morning we hung the owl house and putseyed around a bit before heading to Blanco for the pick-up party at Esperanza. (which I have zero pics of!)  We enjoyed meeting some new folks and had a bottle of Tannat with our empanada lunch.  'Twas delish!  It was early (2ish) so we headed out to explore...
 ...and landed in Dripping Springs where we visited two new-to-us wineries and also this pretty and peaceful sculpture garden.  One of the wineries shares some space with this carved stone company and they have this winding path that you can stroll with your glass of wine.
A very peaceful setting and the wines were all wonderful - I will write about them on the Texas Wine Lover website.
 We split a tasting at each place, and since I was mainly doing some fact-finding about the wineries, we will come back at a later date to just sit and sip.  So we headed a little further down the country road we were on and found this place:
12 Fox Beer Co.  It wasn't busy in the least - maybe half a dozen other people besides us, so social distancing was not a problem.  Bonus: there were no kids running around, which is almost always the case at these breweries out here.  In fact, they had an adult playscape with a sign that said "we're beermakers, not babysitters". (they are actually dog and kid-friendly)
 I love this place!  The beer was really good, the place is clean, and the guy pouring our beer was one of the owners, and very nice.  
I can imagine this place when the skies are not so gloomy, being a great place to hang out.  They even had a pizza food truck (hopefully all the food trucks will not die out).  They even sell cider and wine for non-beer drinkers.
 We played Giant Jenga and cards for a while.  Then reluctantly headed home into Monday, where everything seems to have changed:  Hubby is working from home, Bubbie is home from college, and I am in the trenches at the hospital.  Its only Wednesday but this has been a long week already and we are taking it here one day at a time, looking forward to the next weekend.


Monday, March 16, 2020

Empty Nest Menu #30

Monday - Grilled Chicken Breast, garlic green beans with shallots {customize IF box}
Tuesday - Tater Tot Casserole (use ground turkey, fresh corn, carrots, mushroom, onion)
Wednesday - Salmon Patties, cabbage slaw, sweet treat after dinner
Thursday - Lo-Salt Ham Slice, zucchini, twice baked potato {turn lawn sprinklers back on}
Friday - Beef Taco Salads with lettuce, tomato, avocado, green onion, and cheese
Saturday - Fish in the Uuni with bell pepper, onion, tiny red potatoes {work on the barn reno at Highlands, hang our new barn owl house}
Sunday - Albacore Tuna Wraps with spinach, red onion and tomato, low salt ships {wine club pick-up}


Friday, March 13, 2020

5 thing Friday - beer, food, veggies, owl house, bluebonnets

The last couple of months, Hubby and I have not been able to really go and do at wineries like we love to.  Financial concerns, time restraints, dog sitting, blah blah blah...And all thats about to end, so yay.
Meanwhile, we have enjoyed a great beer now and again, including a couple of cold ones (Celis White) just before the Kool and the Gang concert a couple of weeks ago.  {the show was amazing btw}  Celis White is very much like Agnes Dei at Save the World - a beer brewed with coriander and orange, and one of my favs.
And speaking of STW, we stopped by there on our first Teddy-free Saturday with our fast food burgers to enjoy the Winter Warmer before its all gone.  Think cinnamon beer - very delightful.
While The Girl was here, I made enchiladas using my homemade enchilada sauce recipe.  This was just before I pureed it with my hand held blender and put a couple of jars of it into the freezer.  So rich and delish this time with a secret ingredient - pumpkin puree.
 I had a fairly decent appetite from all that painting, I guess.  I also ate at Tino's Greek Cafe that day for lunch.  I am in love with gyro meat with tzatziki sauce.
 The carrots in last week's produce box.  They're like Frankenstein veggies!
While at Highlands, we took advantage of not having to get home soon and built a barn owl house!  Hopefully we will get it installed tomorrow.  I know for sure we have great horned owls, so I would like to build a house for those, too.  We had all the stuff for this, including the screws.  Will post pics of the installed house!
THE BLUEBONNET(S) ARE HERE.  Almost.  In a month or so this yard will be filled with them.  Its shaping up to be a rainy March so the wildflowers should be explosive!
Happy Friday the 13th!


Wednesday, March 11, 2020

A quiet canvas

 For most of last week I painted.  I also stressed out.
Who knew that freshening up paint would lead to a meltdown?
{Oh yeah.  Its white.}
Once I had gotten the new paint on the walls I kind of hated it.  The Girl tried to reason with me, saying it was just that it was brighter and cleaner and I hadn't seen the walls empty in years.  Plus, the paint was wet, and I wasn't even finished.  She suggested I live with it awhile, then if I wanted to repaint it later, I could.  She's a wise girlie.
 {the accent walls will have to be touched up, too...}
Reason took hold, and I looked at the creamy white walls the next day and thought they didn't look so bad after all!  I started making a plan to re-paint the green accent walls and figure out what to do about hanging stuff back up.
But once I removed all of those pictures, it occurred to me - an epiphany of sorts.  We just have way too many family portraits all throughout the house!  Some of them are from when Firstborn (30) was a toddler.  No joke.
I took 12 pictures down (all but one was a portrait), stacking them in the office as I went.  And I paused to take this picture...and took a few more down.  And granted, we have lived here for 23 years.  But there are so many family pictures throughout the house. 
 Pictures of my peeps are literally everywhere...even on coffee mugs.  There are pics on the fridge (4)... 
...scattered among the shelves in my office (14!), on the den mantle (1), and in the guest room (2).  There are pictures, in frames, in the garage from when Hubby brought a bunch home when they moved offices.  And there are even more in the living room and our bedroom (6).  Too. Many. Portraits.  I mean, I love my family and I have loved being a mom.  But having these pictures all over the house has just made this whole empty nest thing harder.  How can you move forward if you are always surrounded by the past?  I made a decision to pull some down permanently.
While I was out running errands I ran into Hob Lob and bought a leather bound archival photo album.  It has an expandable spine and you can easily buy refills for it, plus it will hold all of the portraits I will be taking out of frames.  I will spend a Saturday, archiving all of the portraits and this album will go live somewhere safe.  And when we ever want to gaze upon our peeps when they were small, we can.  But they will no longer occupy all of my walls.
So now the hunt is on to find some pretty wall art to grace an almost empty wall or two.  But mostly, I want the walls to be quiet.
{I like the idea of a mandala...}
Art that is not a collection of rectangles.  Something not shiny gold with glass or cheap fake wood.  Something not likely to make me feel tearful when I am missing my peeps.  
Its gonna be a work in progress.  
Stay tuned.


Monday, March 9, 2020

Empty Nest Menu #29

 Literally two days after I took this photo of the grackle statue in downtown Austin, someone burned it down.   WHYYYYYYY.  Like my mother used to wail "that's why we can't have anything nice!".
Monday - Meatballs and Marinara with wholegrain pasta, broccoli {customize produce box}
Tuesday - Creamy White Bean and Apple Chili, Mexican cornbread
Wednesday - Farro Skillet with chicken sausage, bell pepper, onion, tomato, corn
Thursday - Grilled Chicken Breast, baked sweet potato, kale
Friday - Bulgogi Salmon, green beans, carrots
Saturday - Cooking at Highlands (pork tenderloin chops and a potato in the SBT oven, chopped salad) {beer release at STW}
Sunday - Tuna Salad on toast with sliced avocado, low salt chips {wine club pick-up at Esperanza}


Friday, March 6, 2020

Pumpkin Muffins

The elementary school were my peeps went used to have "Muffins for Moms" and "Donuts for Dads" - meetings held once a month or so in the school library to discuss various current events at the school.  I think it was easier on some parents to attend those than the PTA meetings which happened after a looong school or work day.  For some reason, these pumpkin muffins make me think of that.  It was just a simple recipe passed on to me from my late MIL.  And making muffins makes me think of my peeps when they were little, since they were perfect with an egg for breakfast on a school morning. 

Pumpkin Muffins (makes 12)
1 1/3 c. flour
1 1/2 c. sugar
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. cinnamon and 1/2 t. nutmeg
1/2 t. vanilla extract
2 eggs
1/2 c. salad oil
1/3 c. water
1/2 can pumpkin (save the rest to stir into oatmeal or pancake batter - or double this recipe...)*
1/2 chopped pecans (you can sprinkle these on the top of the muffins, like I did)
Mix all ingredients well and pour into greased muffin tin.  Bake at 350 for about 25 minutes - check to see if tops of muffins spring back when done.  Store in a covered container - you can freeze these and they thaw quickly and stay moist.

*here are some other pumpkin ideas!

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Where the painting project stands

Today was supposed to be the day I finished up on the painting...and that's not likely to happen, and I'm not going to push it.  Its been a long time since I stood on that rickety ladder and painted up high, so I am giving myself some grace to get the job done at a slower and safer pace!

Since I hadn't purchased paint over the weekend as planned, I walked around the walls with my swatches one last time on Monday before heading over to Home Depot.  I looked at them next to the white trim... overhead and ambient light...
 ...and at transition zones, next to painted accent walls.  It was getting complicated, and I hate that, so I went with a creamy white - which had been the plan all along anyway!  I ran errands then headed home to start.  I wanted to start with the trickiest areas first so that I could focus my initial energy on areas instead of trying to do then after I had fatigued a bit.  Stopping at an easy place is best for me.
Pulling the beast that holds the stereo and TV was a hard spot - tight quarters to paint in, due to cords, and lots of general crap on the floors to clean, too, but I got that done and prepared to paint along the walls near the blinds.
Did I mention that I am afraid of heights?  This is as far up as I could go - Hubby will help with the trim out along the ceiling.  That one area took HOURS, which is why I say I may have to rethink my timeline.  The next day I worked near the kitchen and the small hallway just outside of it.  And I have to say, I love the creamy color, even though I panicked a bit at first at all. that. white.
 It pops against the wood and looks so much fresher than than French vanilla color.
And I discovered that it brightens the room a bit on gloomy day and in the evenings.  I went ahead and painted the trim along the baseboards and the wall with the same paint.  Its an eggshell finish and looks great, so no taping off to avoid trim - the trim needed some paint anyway and this makes it simple.  And I noticed that the crown molding at the top of the columns looks dingy and shiny now, so I will paint those, too.  
I have a LOT of walls left to do, but I am slowing the pace to get it right.  I think when its all said and done, the creamy white will make the place look brighter and cleaner, and that can only help when we get ready to list Camp Rustown.



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