Monday, November 30, 2015

Goals for the week November 30 - December 5, 2015

Goals for the Week

     Daily Bible Reading
     Sayings of the Desert Fathers

     Pre-Register for Hernia repair surgery
     Healthy Breakfasts
     Exercise DVD X 5
     Mail the few Christmas cards that I send. 
     Put up one box of decorations each day 
     Get thistle feeders up for goldfinches
     Fish, Carrots/Thyme, Corn
     Chicken-Rice Bake
     Steak, GMP, GB

     Deep South by Paul Theroux
     Wildwood: A Journey through Trees by Roger Deakin
     The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom (Audio book)

     Trip to Kimball Museum in Fort Worth to see Gustave Caillebotte exhibit. 

Sunday, November 29, 2015

December Menu

December Menu

1. Chicken-Rice Bake
2. Steak, GMP, GB
3. Leftovers
4. Out
5. Bacon sandwiches 
6. Pancakes, Sausage 
7. Baked fish, Carrots, Corn
8. Chicken tenders, GMP, Asparagus
9. Pork
10. Leftovers
11. Out
12. Stuffed Wieners
13. Slow Cooker Chicken
14. Hernia Repair Surgery
15. Shrimp Jambalaya 
16. Pizza
17. Leftovers
18. Out
19. Corned Beef Hash
20. Schlotzsky's 
21. Tuna salad
22. Mac and Cheese
23. Spaghetti and Meatballs
24. Leftovers
25. Christmas Ham
26. Scrambled Eggs, Leftover Ham, Toast
27. Out
28. Seafood pasta
29. KFC
30. HBs
31. Leftovers

Saturday, November 28, 2015

November Meditation

“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing 
and rightdoing there is a field.
I'll meet you there.

When the soul lies down in that grass
the world is too full to talk about.” 
― Rumi

November Poetry

Blackberry Picking

In early fall the blackberry vines
were full of blackberries to take. 
I picked enough to fatten
all the pies we planned to bake. 
Yet not a drop of filling
did those juicy berries make:
I carried home two empty pails
and one full tummy ache. 

John Frank

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Around OakMeadows -- Butterflies

We are still seeing butterflies.  It is late and several are looking rather worn but still feeding on the milkweed and lantana blooms. 


Pipevine Swallowtail (rather worn at the edges)


Gulf Fritillary

Lights Out by Ted Koppel

Lights Out by Ted Koppel

I live on the Texas Gulf Coast where hurricanes are a fact of life. I live far enough inland that rising water is not a problem but rain, wind, and tornadoes are.  And after the hurricane there may be a period of several days before power is restored. After Hurricane Ike, we were without power for 3 long, hot, miserable, dark days and nights but others in the area were without power for up to 2 weeks.  Lights Out by Ted Koppel is about a power outage resulting from a cyberattack on one or more of our 3 national power grids. Such an attack could result in a power outage lasting not days but weeks or months.  

We have a general plan of what to do and how to prepare for hurricanes and their aftermath and one would think that there would be plans somewhere within FEMA or Homeland Security for what to do if there is an actual attack on one or more of the grids. But there is not. No, really there is not.  There is not even agreement that such a cyberattack is probable or even possible. Something that could literally bring us to our knees physically and economically is not being planned for. 

A couple of chapters are devoted to how well the Mormons are prepared for an emergency.  And while I find it admirable, it is hardly comforting to me, a non-Mormon. In all honesty, by halfway into this book, I was looking into websites for food and water storage and wondering if I should buy oil lamps and oil or stock up on lanterns and batteries.  And what about water--a gallon per person per day. Guns and ammo anyone?

I wish the book had a more reassuring conclusion but in an interview, Mr. Koppel admitted that he had bought a 3 month food supply for his family, children, and grandchildren and advised them about water storage. Seems rather reasonable to me after finishing this book. 

Monday, November 23, 2015

Thanksgiving Cooking

Here is our Thanksgiving menu:

Cornbread-Sausage Dressing
Sweet potatoes
Mashed potatoes
Brussels sprouts
Cranberry sauce

Pecan pie

What's on your Thanksgiving menu?

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Whatcha Gona Do Next Week?

1. Going to see Mockingjay II. Yea!

2.  House cleaners coming. Yea!

3. Manicure/Pedicure. Yea!

4. Thanksgiving. Yea!

5. Make reservations for trip to Kimball Museum. Yea!

6. Monthly lunch with P&W&C&B. Yea!

Gonna be a god week!!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Galveston Island Birding Trip

JMM and I are native Galvestonians and very much enjoy going back to go birding.  It is especially nice in the fall and winter( but the spring migration can be outstanding too.) Here are some photos from a recent birding trip.


Snowy Plover

Least Sandpiper


Monday, November 16, 2015

Around OakMeadows!

Ah, November! I can finally work in the yard without being drenched in sweat! When we were at the Texas Butterfly Festival we saw some hanging pieces of wood with something smeared on it that attracted butterflies. JMM inquired and found that it is Butterfly Bait. (Ripe bananas, brown sugar, and  brown beer.) We got the recipe and Joe made two small feeders and a batch of Butterfly Bait this morning.  I'm not sure how effective it will be in the cooler temperatures now but we shall see.

I made the Beautiful Roasted Vegetables from PW's Dinnertime cookbook and it was fabulous! I firmly intend to keep a bowl of roasted vegetables in the fridge at all times. You can pick the veggies to suit yourself and the season, roast a whole bunch, and keep them in the fridge to eat with breakfast, lunch, or dinner. So delicious!

I had my annual physical last month and the doc wanted me to follow up with 3 things:
     1.  Home sleep study -- done!
     2. Mammogram -- done today!
     3. See surgeon about hernia repair -- appointment is tomorrow 
I will be so glad to get all this out of the way!

I am inches away from finishing my quilt!! I'll post a picture as soon as I do. This one has taken about twice as long as I had anticipated.  

I'm currently reading Ted Koppel's new book, Lights Out. Wow, I had no idea our nation's power grids were so vulnerable to cyberattack!  It's got me wanting to store food, water, and ammo. Well, maybe not ammo.  We are still reading through Deep South by Paul Theroux and enjoying it as long as he sticks to his trip and the people he meets.  

We were able to get the lift installed in the van last Friday.  It is one that power lifts the scooter and then powers it out and then lowers it.  Very nice but rather slow. However, it was needed because I simply cannot swing the scooter out without losing my balance.  Anyway, it is nice to be a bit more mobile.  The good news is that I can fill out paperwork for a refund of the sales tax on the vehicle and a rebate from Honda since it has been modified for handicapped and the total reimbursement will be just enough to cover the cost of the lift. Yea!

That's all the news from OakMeadows where the cats are all extraordinarily affectionate now that the weather has turned cold. (Cold for us but not what those in the north would call cold at all!)

Sunday, November 15, 2015

November Cooking -- Chocolate Chip Meringue Cookies

These sound so easy and if you are doing Weight Watchers, they are only 1 Point each.  Definitely going to give these a try! This recipe is from Weight Watcher's One Pot Meals cookbook. 

4 large egg whites
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 200 degrees F.  Spray large baking sheet with nonstick spray and lightly coat with flour, shaking off excess. 

With electric mixer on medium speed, beat egg whites in a medium bowl until soft peaks form when beaters are lifted. Add sugar 2 tablespoons at a time, beating until stiff, glossy peaks form. Gently fold in chocolate chips and vanilla. 

Drop meringue mixture by heaping tablespoonfuls onto prepared baking sheet about 1 inch apart, making total of 24 cookies. Bake until lightly golden brown and no longer tacky, about 1 hour. Turn off oven and leave cookies in oven 1 hour longer. Transfer to wire rack and let cool completely. 

Saturday, November 14, 2015

November Meditation

An eye for an eye will only make the whole world blind.

     Mahatma Gandhi

Friday, November 13, 2015

November Poetry


In the dawn
that chills my bones
and numbs my face
from ear to ear,
I see each word I speak
take flight,
a whiff of fog,
then disappear. 

John Frank 

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Goals for the Week November 15-21, 2015

     Sit and Be Fit DVD 
     Healthy Breakfast


     Deep South by Paul Theroux (JMM and I are reading this aloud each evening.)
     Citizens of London by Lynne Olson
     I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith

     Baked Fish, Carrots/Thyme, Cabbage
     Slow Cooker Chicken with White Wine, Tarragon, and Cream
     Meatloaf, Baked Sweet Potato, GB
     Oatmeal-Raisin Cookies

     Preliminary visit with surgeon about repair of hernia
     Property owners meeting
     Lunch with P&W&C&B
     Finish Christmas shopping online 

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Butterflies from the Lower Rio Grande Valley 2015

Several weeks ago we went to the Texas Butterfly Festival in Mission, Tx at the National Butterfly Center.  The NBC is on 100 acres, 30 acres are planted with native blooming plants which attract and sustain butterflies all year and has easy access walkways throughout. The other 70 acres have been left in its natural state.  And there are more butterflies than I have ever seen anywhere.  JMM took a day long photography class and the photos that I will be sharing over the next weeks are ones he took as part of the class. This was his first photography class ever and I think he did a terrific job. 

Tawny Emperor

Tawny Emperor

White Checkered

Group of Tawny Emperor on a log smeared with Butterfly Bait (Bananas, Brown sugar, & Guiness Beer)

Monday, November 9, 2015

Around OakMeadows

This is a Bandit on JMM's lap. You can tell what a hard life he has! 

We bit the bullet and traded in the 2004 Honda Odyssey with 185,000 miles on it for a brand new 2016 Honda Odyssey. I must say it is wonderful! There have been many technological improvements in the last 12 years. I love the screen that shows what is is behind you when you are backing up. Lots of other bells and whistles that we are learning to use. One funny thing is that this van has no key; you start it by putting your foot on the brake and pushing the start button. Fine, but every time we stop and turn the vehicle off, we reach to take the key out of the ignition only to realize there is no key to take out.  We went to Adaptive Driving Access and made arrangements for my lift to be installed.  

Tonight I am doing a home sleep study. When I had my annual physical a few weeks ago, my doc wanted me to do a sleep study because of my ongoing sleep problems.  I flat refused to do the sleep lab test but he said there was now a home sleep study that I could do. So this morning I picked up the equipment which is really just a chest monitor and a nasal cannula. It is tiny and battery operated and I think it will be simple to use and allow me to get some sleep. We shall see. I am very doubtful about this making any improvement in my sleep though.  

Saturday, November 7, 2015

November Cooking--Seafood Pasta in a Foil Package

I bought Pioneer Woman's new cookbook, Dinnertime, and am planning to make many of the recipes.  This is the first one that I'm going to try. I'll let you know how it turns out but it sounds scrumptious.

OK, I have now made this recipe and it is a definite keeper!  I did make a couple of changes though.  First, I did not use the foil package. I used my Le Creuset Dutch oven. (The foil looked like a mess waiting to happen.) Second, I did not use the heavy cream at the end; I forgot it and it was fine without the extra fat and calories. The next time I make it, I plan to use 2 pounds of shrimp and skip the scallops only because we really like shrimp. 

1 pound scallops, rinsed 
3 tablespoons butter 
3 tablespoons olive oil 
1 pound jumbo or large shrimp, peeled, deveined, and rinsed 
4 garlic cloves, minced
 1/2 cup dry white wine 
Three 14.5-ounce cans diced tomatoes 
Kosher salt and black pepper to taste 
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes, more to taste 
1 pound linguine, fettuccini, fusilli, or riccia pasta,cooked just short of al dente 
½ cup heavy cream, warmed 
Basil leaves, torn 
Parsley leaves, torn

1. Preheat the oven to 350 ° F.

2. Place the scallops on a couple of paper towels and pat them dry with another paper towel. (This will help them sear better.)

3. In a large skillet (I used nonstick), heat 1 tablespoon of the butter and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium-high heat. Sear the scallops on both sides until they have nice color on the surface, 1 to 1 ½ minutes per side.

4. Remove them to a plate (and try not to sneak one of them! They’re irresistible). . . .

5. In the same skillet, keeping the heat at medium high, heat 1 tablespoon of the butter and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil . . .

6. And throw in the shrimp, cooking them quickly until they’re nicely opaque and browned, 1 ½ to 2 minutes. Remove them to a plate and set aside.

7. Reduce the heat to medium. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil to the skillet and throw in the garlic. Stir it quickly to prevent it from burning . . .

8. Then pour in the wine!

9. Stir the liquid and let it reduce for a couple of minutes . . .

10. Then add the tomatoes with their juices, salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes. Stir the sauce and let it simmer for 10 minutes.

11. Grab two large sheets of heavy aluminum foil and overlap them by about 8 inches on a rimmed baking sheet. Pour the drained pasta onto the foil.

12. Spoon the sauce over the pasta . . .

13. Then slide the sautéed seafood on top, making sure you include all the juices from the plate.

14. Tightly wrap the foil into a package, rolling up the sides so it won’t leak. Bake for 15 minutes.

15. To serve, carefully transfer the foil package onto a platter. Open it right before serving . . .

16. Drizzle warm cream over the top . . .

17. And sprinkle with torn basil and parsley.

18. As you serve it up, be sure to give everyone a spoonful of the sauce! It’s heavenly.

November Meditation

John Lennon
“If everyone demanded peace instead of another television set, then there'd be peace.”
― John Lennon

November Poetry

Fall's End

I watched the leaves come boating down
On streams of autumn air,
And when the last gold leaf shook free
And left the branches bare,
I ran to catch it in my hands
Before it touched the ground,
And brought it home to keep among 
The treasures I have found. 

Monday, November 2, 2015

November Cooking - Beautiful Roasted Vegetables

This is from Pioneer Woman's new cookbook, Dinnertime.  It is awesome!

1 bunch asparagus, tough ends removed
1 red onion
1 red bell pepper, seeded
8 ounces mushrooms
1 medium eggplant
½ butternut squash, peeled and seeded
3 garlic cloves, minced
⅓ cup olive oil
Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
1 teaspoon Montreal Steak Seasoning (or any seasoning mix)

1. Preheat the oven to 450 ° F.

2. Cut the asparagus into 2-to 3-inch pieces . . .

3. Chop the red onion into wedges . . .

4. Chop the bell pepper into chunks . . .

 5. And cut the mushrooms into quarters.

6. Cut the eggplant into thick slices, then cut the slices into chunks . . .

7. And, finally, cut the butternut squash into large pieces.

8. Throw all the veggies into a large bowl along with the garlic . . .

9. Then drizzle in the olive oil . . .

10. Sprinkle on salt and black pepper to taste, and the steak seasoning, and toss it all together.

11. Spread the vegetables on two rimmed baking sheets so that they have plenty of breathing room, then roast them for 20 minutes, shaking the pans twice during that time. If needed, roast for 5 to 10 minutes more, until the veggies are nicely browned and tender.

12. Serve them warm or chilled! They’re delicious either way.