Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Getting out of the Army,
Books and Pets and
A new Subaru

As with every Christmas season I am eating far too much. Why, oh why, do people at work bring in so many sweets in November and December? They would be a welcome surprise in April, a doughnut would be so nice in June. Sadly I have a sweet tooth and my determination and willpower can only withstand so much. Obviously I need to buy oranges and apples for snacks at work so I can turn toward a heathy food choice. Stupid candy bowls on a desk – bah!

Our son finally received his orders and his last day as a US Army soldier is December 23rd. That’s great for all of us that he and his family will be back in close proximity. Nice Christmas gift to have them back but the down side is he needs to find work. Please keep him in your thoughts as he begins the hunt for employment.

One Subaru: We have downsized from 2 cars to one.

Goodbye to the Scion!

We sold the old Scion xB and Rav4 and now have a Subaru Forester. I love it! We love it! It has heated seats and heated mirrors, great gas milage and all sorts of creature comforts. Since we ride to work together and I don’t drive at night it makes sense to have one vehicle. Saves us on insurance too.

Pet News

Kobe had a very bad bout of diarrhea recently. The vet visit, blood sample, tests and meds were dispensed which ran us $215. He started back on the mend and wouldn’t you know it, Aja got sick a few days later.

The recommended course was to keep her from food for 24 hours. Whatever was causing the distress would be gone after that time frame and her digestive tract would have time to heal. We opted for that plan instead of forking out another $215. Worked like a charm!

Turned out it was the canned dog food we had been using. Taste of the Wild has been on their evening meal plan for quite a while but suddenly, their little colons rebelled against it. Now both are doing well.

Here he is, all sad because he had blood taken. See his cute little red bandage?

Reading: Books recently have included:
Nora Webster
You have to Fucking Eat
Choose your own Autobiography NPH

I am gearing up for two book challenges this upcoming year.

That’s about it for the Squirrel Head Manor update. Hopefully I can get it together to send a card or letter before Christmas. I will still take this time to wish anyone reading a lovely and safe holiday. Be careful out there!

Monday, December 08, 2014

Crochet, Army Downsizing and Books

This is my view in the evening when I decide to crochet a few rows on this afghan. Aja is lovely company.

Recently I stopped at Joanne Fabric store to check out the yarn section. I was amazed at the number of aisles devoted to yarn and consequently, I spent too much. But, if you spent a certain dollar amount you could purchase this craft bag for only $9.99.

It sells at a regular price for $29 and I have to say, I wouldn’t have paid that for it. But for $10 it’s completely worth it. My yarn hording has reached such levels that all the skeins won’t fit in this bag but it’s perfect for toting the current project.

Evenings have been devoted to crocheting a few rows with the exception of the last several days. I’ve been on the phone talking or texting to Doug while he was out of town and there was a new development with our soldier son.... so many phone calls.

The army is downsizing and he is being released early. While it will be wonderful to have him, his wife and daughter back in the same area it will be tough finding jobs in this economy. Keep him in your thoughts please!

Bookish stuff:
I am still reading Nora Webster and it’s quite engaging. Speaking of books, I found a few book challenges to take on for next year. There is the What’s in a Name challenge hosted by Charlie at The Wormhole and I think I’ll participate I the British Book Challenge again next year. My round up for the 2014 challenges may be viewed HERE, if you are interested.

Hope all is well in your world.

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Parmesan Wings and the Cookbook Countdown fail

Just recently I was chatting with Debbie at The Friday Friends and mentioned I got into a rut with the Cookbook Countdown. Seriously, I only have a few cookbooks I have posted from so far and then....the big lull. It wasn't as if I weren't grabbing a cookbook and preparing something. I just neglected to write about it.

Then I started the big purge. We wanted to swap out the furniture in the two bedrooms as one was much larger and better for a guest bedroom. We had been using it as the "catch all" room and it had a computer, card table and lots of books. Mainly cookbooks. Well, during the course of my goal to cook something from each one and then decide whether it stayed or went to a charity shop, I opted for a massive culling.

Moving all those books off the shelves made me recalculate the value of all those books (as well as other miscellaneous items). Bags and bags of books left the house.

One book that left was a company cookbook. You know the sort where members/employees submit recipes and they publish all the recipes with the names of the folks and which department they work in? Yeah, this recipe comes from my workplace.

This particular book is outta here now! I didn't want to post the cookbook because then you'd know where I work. That's just not important.
But it did provide me with three very good recipes. Here is one of them.

Parmesan Wings


4 pounds chicken wings
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 Tb parsley
1 TB dried oregano
2 tsp. paprika
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp. red pepper


Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a shallow baking pan with foil. Keep the wings whole cut into drummettes.
Melt butter in shallow bowl. In a separate bowl combine all the dried ingredients.

This is the seasoning mixture before I gave it a good stir.

Dip each wing into butter, roll in seasoning mixture and arrange on the foiled pan. Bake for 1 hour at 350 F.

So. Easy. I love easy recipes. Not that I mind fiddling in the kicthen but wow....these are soooo easy. We served them with Bourbon Baked beans and leftover ribs and salad.

So, there is my story about the Cookbook countdown. It's as if I failed at a New Year's Resolution by the end of January. Haha...doesn't matter, I have a clean room now and very orderly cookbooks. Quite pleased with myself and the bonus is, the books will be sold at a charity that is specific to assisting homeless pets and helping people who can't afford to spay or neuter their pets. If it's for animals that works for me.

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Thursday, November 27, 2014

While the casseroles are baking I thought I'd say hello
and Happy Thanksgiving!

It's 63 F on Thanksgiving day here in north Florida. My husband's family has gathered at his father's house and I am home preparing my assigned part of the meal.

Best part of all is our son, his wife and our granddaughter are home visiting. It's been a long time since we were all gathered together and I am very happy.

Elizabeth can really bounce in this contraption!

While everyone is off visiting with different families I am awaiting my casseroles to finish cooking. My assignment is no different this year than any other. I am always asked to bring a green bean casserole. Here is the simple version of this year's edition. By the way, this is not vegetarian fare as it's filled with bacon, milk and cheese.

Obviously you need to snip the ends of the beans and steam them. While all that steaming to going on I fried up nearly 3/4 pound of bacon. Drain the bacon and set aside.

Don't get rid of the bacon fat - tip roughly 10 ounces of chopped fresh mushrooms into the sizzling fat and saute.

Now you'll mix mushroom soup and milk in a bowl, add any seasoning you like. Fold the steamed beans into the mushroom soup mixture. Gently turn with a spoon so the beans are saturated.

This is going to look like nachos by the time you are done layering. Place most of the green bean mixture in a baking dish. Add the sauteed mushrooms and spread over the beans as evenly as you can. Now add the bacon, again distributing evenly. Now toss some cheese over this mix. This time I used plain old cheddar. In the past I have used Parmesan or Colby or mozzarella.

Now place that last bit of remaining bean mixture over the top. It's ready for the oven. See, doesn't it remind you of nachos?

I hope this year's version is good but I think adding bacon and cheese to anything ensures it will be eaten at a big dinner party.

Later on I will edit this post and add the cooked result and maybe some other photos of the meal. We are eating later this time, after 7:00, so there's no rush on my part.

I hope anyone reading this is having, or had, a wonderful Thanksgiving with loved ones. I am certainly thankful for all four of mine.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

How did it get to be this late in the year?

I’ve been around, just not on the Internet much. Here is a mini blog post to catch up with you.

Reading: I’m in the middle of Sarum by Edward Rutherfurd, what a fattie of a book. I am glad to have a Kindle when the book has over a thousand pages, so much easier to handle. Recently I have enjoyed The Martian, Written in my Own Heart’s Blood and Blood at the Root.

Relaxing: Chilling out one evening by the fire was fun. It’s finally the time of year when we can use the fire pit. It’s all set up, waiting for us to finish dinner.

From firepit

Kobe likes to help with everything and he came and sat in my lap for a bit while the fire was mesmerizing us. That’s unusual for him. I guess he just wanted to be close to us.

Eating: We have made several recipes from Skinnytaste cookbook and enjoyed each one. Click HERE to check out the book review (and see the baked Bananas Foster). So. Good.

We also made Chicken Santa Fe and Skinny Mac and Cheese with Broccoli.

 photo Skinny.jpg

Watching: We are Netflicks people and depend on the DVD delivery of our movie and TV show entertainment. In the last 6 weeks or so we have enjoyed Longmire, Maleficient, Edge of Tomorrow and even tried a blast-from-the-past by ordering The Man from U.N.C.L.E. starring Robert Vaughn and David McCallum.

Any time we decide to order a show we loved from our childhood we are sorry. Usually. It was quite cheesy. Right now I am hoping Netflicks will pick up season three of Longmire, they left us hanging on a great story line and they don’t seem to have season 3 available. Love a cowboy show.

 photo Longmire-logo.jpg

Crafting: Reacquainting myself with the crochet hooks and started a very pretty throw. At my snail’s pace speed I doubt it will be a Christmas gift for anyone. Could be next year I become a yarn hoarder. It’s so much fun to look at all the different textures and color of yarns at Michael’s Craft shop.

New Stuff: Oh, I recently bought a new computer. It’s an early Christmas gift and much appreciated. Doug was able to get a beautiful telescope as his early present. I chose a Windows 7 version and love it. Windows 8 confused the stew out of me! What is needed now is to spend some time rebuilding bookmarks and getting signed into apps.

That's it for me, for now. I hope the weather is treating you well.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Found a delicious new recipe:
Creamy Corn and Bacon Casserole

Thanksgiving is just around the corner and whether you look forward to it or dread it, I have the casserole you will want to bring to the table.

You’ll be happy. The guests will be happy. Most importantly, you’ll be happy (because you get to eat something yummy) and yes, I know I said that already.

Every year I am asked to bring a green bean casserole. It’s a boring old thing to make and so over the many, many years this joke of dish is required, I have made adjustments to liven it up. I have added different cheeses. I have added bacon and that was the most popular. Even vegetarians must love bacon or they wouldn’t make a textured vegetable protein version of bacon. Am I right?

Anyway, I made this corn casserole this week to serve with grilled lamb and it was hit. My husband said this one is a keeper. We all like hearing that when trying a new dish! We had the leftovers with grilled pork chops the following evening. (Doug is THE grill master!)

But seriously, it was very good. Despite the cream it wasn’t a heavy dish and it had lots of color in it. A tasty festive dish. If we were having T-Day at our home I would surely make this casserole, it would be the star! :-)

Ok, here is the recipe. If anyone tries it please do let me know what you think.

Creamy Corn and Bacon Casserole

6 slices of bacon, chopped
1 medium red onion, chopped
1 medium sweet red pepper, cored and chopped
1 bag of frozen corn kernels (16 oz) thawed
¼ cup parsley
2 large eggs
½ cup heavy cream
Salt and pepper
¼ tsp. cumin
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese
1 tsp. cornstarch

Heat oven to 375 F. Grease up a casserole dish or spray with PAM.

Heat a large skillet and cook bacon, onion and pepper until soft.

Stir in corn and parsley.

In a large bowl mix the eggs, heavy cream, salt, pepper and cumin. Stir veggie mixture into the wet ingredients.

After mixing gently add the cornstarch and cheese.

Slide this mixture into a baking dish and bake for 30 minutes or until set.

Definitely a keeper.


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