Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Goals for 2014

Goals for 2014

     ABF and Church weekly
     Daily Bible Reading
     Read one spiritual book each month
     Women in the Word Bible study

     Reach goal weight with Weight Watchers
     Annual physical
     Dental cleaning

     Maintain debt-free living 
     Social Security for JMM and FM
     Medicare Advantage
     Charitable giving monthly
     Envelope system

     Paint master bedroom
     Guest bedroom 
          New bedding
          Bedside table
          Two bedside lamps
          Floor lamp
          Wall hanging

     Birdbath and Feeder
     Butterfly weed

     Read good books
     Watch good movies
     Monthly haircut and manicure
     New clothes spring and fall
          Take one quilting class
          Mend one quilt
          Make one baby quilt
          Make new quilt
     Birding trip to Rio Grande Valley
     Trip to Washington, DC

Support for War in Afghanistan Falling

According to the HuffPo, support for the continuing war in Afghanistan has fallen below levels for that in Iraq and Vietnam.  What puzzles me is who on earth supports continuing pouring lives and tax dollars into that pit?? Oh yes, our Secretary of State does, perhaps the President does--it's hard to tell. 

According to the article "gains made by the United States would be significantly lost by 2017 if the United States and Afghanistan do not make a new security pact allowing troops beyond the deadline "

So if we leave in 2014, all the lives lost and ruined over the preceding 13 years will be for nothing by 2017. What a waste, what a tragedy!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Goals for 2013--How did I do?

Here are my goals for 2013 and whether I followed through...or not:

Goals for 2013

   1.  ABF and Church weekly--Mostly done. 
   2. Daily Bible reading--DONE. 
   3. Read one spiritual book each month--not done. 

   1.  Reach and maintain my maintenance weight in Weight Watchers--The best to be said for this is that it will be continued next year. 
   2. Have annual physical--DONE. 
   3. Dental cleaning every 6 months--DONE.   
   4. Dermatologist--DONE. 
   5. Optometrist-new lenses--DONE. 

   1. Have grandfather clock repaired--DONE. 10/24/2013
   2. Replace carpet with tile in laundry room. DONE. 3/11/13
   3. Garden--DONE. 
          Rosemary and basil
   4. Paint living room--DONE. 2/7/13
   5. Learn to make 1 new soup each month--MOSTLY DONE. 6 soups and 3 muffins learned. 

   1. Trip to Washington, DC--NOT DONE. (Going in April, 2014.)
   2. Read good books--DONE. I read 78 books in 2013 and most of them were good. 
   3. Take one quilting class--NOT DONE. 
   4. Monthly haircut and manicure-- MOSTLY DONE. 
   5. New clothes spring and fall--DONE.

   1. Fund my envelope system--DONE. 
   2. Maintain debt-free living--DONE. 
   3. JMM starts drawing full Social Security in February. DONE. 
   4. FM applies for Social Security in September--DONE. 

Saturday, December 28, 2013



The deed is done! I have spent so much time and effort in the last six months trying to figure out Medicare Parts A, B, & D. Then figuring out Medicare Supplemental Insurance (Medigap Insurance), Medicare Advantage Plans and Prescription drug plans offered by various insurance companies and comparing them.  I decided that the Humana Medicare Advantage Plan would suit us best but I just wasn't sure. So this afternoon the Humana Rep came out to our house and we went over the various plans and yes, the Humana Advantage plan was what we needed. The prescription coverage is included. The price is right, the co-pays and deductibles are not excessive compared to other companies. So the Rep filled out the application online and we will be contacted to confirm the application within 2 weeks and then we will receive our Humana cards which will be effective February 1. I told JMM that if this plan doesn't work out and he wants to change it, he will have to do the research and fill out the forms and deal with it because I am finished! Hallelujah!

Goals for Next Week

Goals for Week Ending Saturday, January 4, 2014

1.  Quilting
     Replace worn binding on Irish Chain quilt--done.  Looks much better. 
     Begin piecing next quilt--Started a quilted table runner for the dining room; I am using scraps from a previous quilt. 
2.  Reading
     Empire of Liberty by Gordon S. Wood.--in progress. 
     And Ladies of the Club by Helen Santmyer--Finished. Excellent. 
3.  Take down and pack away Christmas decorations--done. 
4.  Make appointment for yearly mammogram--done. 
5.  Make appointment for JMM eye exam--done. 
6.  Get paint, pan, and roller for painting the master bedroom--:((
7.  Cooking
     Chicken-Rice Bake--done. 
     Roast, Carrots, and Garlic Mashed Potatoes--done. 
     Roast Beef Hash--done. 

Sunday, December 22, 2013


Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

I Corinthians 13:4-7

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Favorite Books Read in 2013

According to my Goodreads list, I read 78 books in 2013. This was a year of really good books. I've picked out my favorites by categories:

     The All-Girl Filling Station's Last Reunion by Fannie Flagg
     Caleb's Crossing by Geraldine Brooks
     Centennial by James Michener 

     The Glorious Cause by Robert Middlekauff 
     Roosevelt's Centurions by Joseph Persico
     The American Plague by Molly C. Crosby
     Tales from the Underground by David Wolfe
     A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson
     For Love of Insects by Thomas Eisner

     My Beloved World by Sonya Sotemayor
     Nature Writing by John Muir
     George C. Marshall by Mark Stoller

     The Rule of St. Benedict by Benedict of Nursia

Poetry Saturday


At the Edge of the Ocean

I have heard this music 
saith the body. 
     Mary Oliver

Friday, December 20, 2013

Goals for next week

Goals for Week Ending Saturday, December 28, 2013

1.  Quilting-- Bind edges
2.  Reading
     Empire if Liberty by Gordon S. Wood.
     And Ladies of the Club by Helen Santmyer
3.  Christmas
4.  Dental crown Monday 8am
5.  Meeting with Humana rep about Medicare Advantage plan

Thursday, December 19, 2013

January Menu

January Menu

1.   Cutlets, MP, Green beans
2.   Leftovers
3.   Brookstreet BBQ 
4.   Bacon sandwiches, oven fries
5.   Schlotzsky's 
6.   Fish, carrots, corn
7.   Slow cooker Turkey & Wild Rice Soup
8.   Meatloaf, MP, green beans
9.    Leftovers
10.  Texas Roadhouse
11.  Bacon sandwiches, oven fries
12.  Schlotzsky's 
13.  Fish, carrots, cabbage 
14.  Slow cooker Chicken Boullabaisse
15.  Spaghetti & Meatballs
16.  Leftovers
17.  Gringo's
18.  Bacon sandwiches, oven fries
19.  Schlotzsky's 
20.  Fish, carrots, corn
21.  Slow cooker Old-Fashioned Beef & Noodle Soup
22.  Pork tenderloin, sweet potatoes, spinach 
23.  Leftovers
24. Chipolte
25. Bacon sandwiches, oven fries
26. Schlotzsky's 
27. Fish, carrots, cabbage
28. Slow cooker Beef Stroganoff
29. Mac & Cheese, corn
30. Leftovers
31. Cheesecake Factory

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Quiet Wednesday

Quiet Wednesday 

It was very foggy this morning. Now that I don't have to drive in it, I love foggy mornings. Everything is still and mysterious and as the sun gradually comes up, the world looks like a hazy Impressionist painting. 

Good news: Our Medicare Parts A & B cards came with the correct start date of February 1, 2014. I had begun to worry that the paperwork had been lost or something was wrong. But sometimes things do go right.  I tend to expect things to go amiss or be more difficult or cost more than originally anticipated. So when things do go smoothly, it is a pleasant surprise. Anyway, the next step is the Humana rep is coming to our house December 27 to discuss the Advantage plans and prescription drug plans. 

I wish I were one of those people who love to cook. But frankly, it is a daily chore. Yes, yes, I am thankful that I have plenty of good food, that I have the means and ability to cook it, and that I can eat most anything I want. But I still don't like to actually do it.  I have been planning out the January menu. One day a week, I will be trying out a new recipe from the Slow Cooker Revolution cookbook. When I get the menu finished, I will post it. 

Quilting: I am on the downhill slide toward finishing it. I have all the quilting done and trimmed the edges. This morning I finished binding the first side. It should be finished by the end of the week.  Before I start any more new quilting projects, I want to replace the binding on the edges of my Irish Chain quilt.  Then we will see about a new quilt. 

Reading: Empire of Liberty is turning out to be one of the most interesting books I've ever read! Which is a good thing because at over 700 pages, I would hate to have to slog through it if it were boring.  What makes it so interesting is that we are still squabbling over the same questions that the Federalists (Hamilton) and the Republicans (Jefferson) were haggling over.  Fascinating. 
     I've just started on And Ladies of the Club by Helen Santmyer. So far so good. But there is so far to go--it is 1184 pages. What is it with me and long books here lately??

JMM is making bluebird houses.  The past 2 years we have had bluebirds nest in a box he bought at WalMart. But they were unable to raise the babies successfully because we think either raccoons or snakes raided the nest. Anyway, these new houses that he is making will have snake and raccoon proof baffles on them. At least, we hope they are snake and raccoon proof. He has made 5 so far. I'm not sure how many he plans to make. 

Friday I have to take my van in to the Honda dealership for some recall work and while it is there, I will have them do the 160,000 mile maintenance on it. Why do I have visions of hundred dollar bills flying from my hands.....

Saturday, December 14, 2013

The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith

The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith

This is an old fashioned, gritty, down on his luck private investigator novel. It just so fits the genre that even his girl Friday is there. The characters are well drawn and quite interesting and the plot is plausible enough. It drags on a bit but is well worth waiting for the end (even if you had guessed who dunnit already.)

Goals for Next Week

Goals for Week Ending Saturday, December 20, 2013

1.  Quilting-- Bind edges
2.  Reading
     Empire if Liberty by Gordon S. Wood.
     The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith 
3.  Make Slow Cooker Chicken Stew
4.  Haircut
5.  Take van in for maintenance 
6.  Fredlyn Nut Co. 
7.  Make soup for neighbor home from surgery. 

Monday, December 9, 2013

Around OakMeadows

It is cold and wet outside. Nice day to stay inside and read, quilt, and cook. 

Husband is counting days until retirement - 53 days. He will be 67 on Jan. 10, 2014 and will retire February 1. He is planning to work 2 days a week as a contract worker. I think that will work out just fine for as long as he wants to do it.  

I'm reading Empire of Liberty by Gordon S. Wood. It is the second volume in the Oxford History of the United States. It covers the period from just before the Constitutional Convention to the War of 1812. I am amazed at how interesting that period is and how the Founding Fathers were working out how to make a new nation as they went along.  For example, no one knew how the new President should be addressed. The governor of New York was addressed, His Excellency, so they figured the president should be something more impressive than that. My favorite suggestion was from John Adams who thought His High Mightiness, the President of the United States, and Protector of Their Liberties, had the right ring to it. Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed and the President of the United States was, if not exactly agreed upon, allowed to become the usual form of address. The book is almost 800 pages and I'm on 102 so there's a ways to go. Hope it continues as interesting. 

Birds around OakMeadows are the usual suspects: Cardinals, Bluejays, Titmouse, Chickadees, a group of Yellow-rumped warblers, and some Meadowlarks.  We have the thistle feeders ready for the first sighting of the Goldfinches; they usually arrive just before Christmas. The Jays are cleaning out the peanuts as fast as I put it out. I have a suet seed block to hang now that it is cold enough not to melt. 

We had 5 raccoons up at the very tippy top of the big old live oak tree the other night.  Sure enough, down at the base was a coyote. There may have been several but we only saw the one. 

My minimal Christmas decorating is done. I decorate the fireplace mantel and the dining room. I gave my daughter all the Christmas tree ornaments and she uses them on her tree. Christmas presents were ordered online and should be here later this week. I used to do a Christmas letter and Christmas cards but stopped that a couple of years ago. Daughter and SIL are coming here for Christmas dinner. They are bringing a ham and I am doing the sides and dessert. 

I am working on the the last block on my quilt. Then I will bind the edges and it will be finished. I think I will give it to DH for his birthday. My next quilting project will be to re-bind the edges of my Irish Chain quilt. The quilt itself is in very good shape but the binding on the edges is worn out. After that I want to make a baby quilt and then another patchwork.  Quilting is my form of therapy. 

That's what is going on around here these days. Very pleasant days they are. 

Farmhouse Chicken & Corn Chowder

This is from my new favorite cookbook, Slow Cooker Revolution by America's Test Kitchen. This is so much better than any slow cooker recipe I've ever made. 

2 slices bacon, minced
4 teaspoons vegetable oil
2 onions, minced
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme
    or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
5 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 pound red potatoes (about 3 medium), scrubbed & cut into 1/2 inch chunks
1 carrot, peeled & sliced 1/4 inch thick
2 bay leaves
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed
Salt and pepper
1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, & cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 15 oz. can creamed corn
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons minced canned chipotle chile in adobo
3 tablespoons minced fresh basil or cilantro 

1. Cook bacon in 12 inch skillet over medium heat until crisp, 5 to 7 minutes.  Stir in 1 tablespoon oil and onions and cook until softened, 5 to 7 minutes.  Stir in garlic, tomato paste, and thyme and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in flour and cook for 1 minute. Whisk in 2 cups broth, scraping up any brown bits; transfer to slow cooker. 

2.  Stir remaining 3 cups broth, potatoes, carrot, and bay leaves into slow cooker.  Season chicken with salt and pepper and nestle into slow cooker. Cover and cook until chicken is tender, 4 to 6 hours on low. 

3. Transfer chicken to cutting board, let cool slightly, then shred into bite sized pieces. Let soup settle for 5 minutes, then remove fat from surface using large spoon. Discard bay leaves. 

4. Microwave bell pepper with remaining teaspoon oil in bowl, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 3 minutes. In separate bowl, microwave creamed corn until hot, about 3 minutes. 

5. Stir softened peppers, hot creamed corn, shredded chicken, cream, and chipotles into soup and let sit until heated through, about 5 minutes. Stir in basil, season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve. 

Sunday, December 8, 2013


“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don't mind.”
― Bernard M. Baruch

Goals for the Week

Goals for Week Ending Saturday, December 13, 2013

1.  Quilting-- Block #25--Finished quilting!! Next to trim & bind the edges. 
2.  Reading
     Empire of Liberty by Gordon S. Wood. -- Great book but loooong. I'm on p. 170 out of 700+ pages. 
3.  Make Farmhouse Chicken & Corn Chowder -- Done. It was excellent. 
4.  Lunch with Paul & Wendy and Bonnie & Charles. -- Done. Lots of fun!
5.  Take van in for maintenance -- They couldn't do it this week so I have an appointment for next week. 
6.  Have propane tank filled. -- Done. 
7.  Fredlyn Nut Co. --  not done. Next week for certain!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Slow Cooker Revolution by America's Test Kitchen

I like to check cookbooks out from the library and see if there are any recipes that look promising. I can usually find one or two to try. I will try the recipes out and if we like it enough to make again, I copy the recipe into my recipe file on the computer and return the book to the library. It is very unusual for me to buy a new cookbook. I am buying Slow Cooker Revolution. It is that good. The recipes are not the two chicken breasts, a can of mushroom soup, & a can of peas on low for 8 hours type recipes. There is prep work and steps in cooking. But the results are so worth the extra effort. I've made 3 meals using the recipes from this cookbook and all 3 were delicious. 
I have been listening to the America's Test Kitchen program on NPR and found it informative and down to earth, cooking food that real people would eat. Good flavor and good nutrition. I've had a slow cooker for ages but used it for only a couple of dishes because I don't like the chicken breast-mushroom soup type glop that most slow cooker cookbooks call for. So when I heard about the ATK slow cooker cookbook, I decided to give it a try. The library had a copy and you know the rest if the tale. 
Next week, I am making Farmhouse Chicken and Corn Chowder. If it turns out as delicious as the others, I will post the recipe.