Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Not the Usual Around OakMeadows

Well, I see that the Taliban has taken a city in Afghanistan. And that we are training and arming fighters who give away our materiel as payment through a contested area. Not to mention the sexual abuse of children by their commanders.  How much longer before someone suggests that we declare victory and leave? Another year? Another 20 years? Look carefully at your children and grandchildren and envision them fighting to the death, losing arms or legs, being blinded, or traumatized by the experience. Since we have a 
voluntary military (for now) most likely your children or grandchildren won't  have to take the risk but the ones who do go are someone's child or grandchild. Think of all the teachers we could hire or clean energy technologies we could 
implement or roads and bridges we could build or repair if we weren't pouring trillions of dollars down a bottomless pit.  I am sickened by the senseless waste 
of lives and limbs and money. 

I will be back to my usual Around Oak Meadows soon. But for now I am really fed up with the never ending military interventions. 

Monday, September 28, 2015

October Menu

October Menu

1. Leftovers
2. Out - Gringo's
3. Bacon sandwiches, Oven fries
4. Stuffed wieners
5. Baked fish, Carrots/Thyme, Corn on the Cob
6. Slow cooker chicken
7. Steak, GMP, GB
8. Leftovers
9. Out - Texas Roadhouse
10. Bacon sandwiches, Oven fries
11. Mac and cheese
12. Shrimp Jambalaya
13. Chicken Rice Bake
14. Slow Cooker Beef
15. Leftovers
16. Out - Italian
17. Bacon sandwiches, Oven fries
18. CB Hash
19. Tuna salad sandwiches
20. Slow Cooker Chicken
21. Spaghetti and Meatballs
22. Leftovers
23. Out - Chinese 
24. Bacon sandwiches, oven fries
25. Scrambled eggs, Sausage, Toast
26. Shrimp scampi
27. Chicken
28. Slow Cooker Beef
29. Leftovers
30. Out - House of Pies
31. Bacon sandwiches, Oven fries

Sunday, September 27, 2015

September Meditations

When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to everything else in the world. 
     John Muir

Friday, September 25, 2015

Goals for Week

Stuff to do:
Monday: Call Humana and MD office and get Wellness Check/Annual Physical question answered.

Tuesday: Call Chapell Jordan and make appointment to have grandfather clock cleaned and repaired

Wednesday: Make hotel reservations for Class Reunion.  

Thursday: Finish sorting DVDs and VCR tapes and put them away. 

Friday: Chico's. 

     Few Eggs and No Oranges by Vere Hodgson
     Eleanor and Franklin by Joseph P. Lash 
     A Full Life by Jimmy Carter (Audio)
     A Pattern of Lies by Charles Todd

     Baked Fish, Carrots/Thyme, Corn on the Cob and Spinach
     Chicken and Snow Peas, Rice
     Cutlets, GMP, GB

Monday, September 21, 2015

Around Oak Meadows

It is mushroom season and these are all over the place:

Did you know that there is a difference between an annual physical and a Wellness Check? Evidently Medicare pays for an annual Wellness Check which is different from the annual physical which the insurance pays for. I have had many annual physicals but never a Wellness Check.  It looks like I will have to schedule a separate visit for my physical. This seems rather redundant.  Have any of you had a Wellness Check?

I am making reservations for the Texas Butterfly Festival in Mission, TX October 31, Nov.1, & 2.  We had such a good time last year and I am really looking forward to it this year.  Did you know that we have a National Butterfly Center? Yes, we do and it is located in Mission, TX which is right on the Rio Grande.  One activity that we didn't do last year was the night class on moths.  Joe is taking a class on Macro photography.  I'm just doing the Butterfly Basics which I did last year and had so much fun just going around with an expert identifying butterflies around the Center. 

The more I read about the Republican candidates, the more I like Bernie Sanders.  I want a Bern❤️ bumper sticker.  One thing that I particularly support is his stand on getting Citizens United overturned. 

I'm still quilting and reading and cooking. Still napping with cats in the afternoon.  Still feeding the hummingbirds as they are migrating through and all the other birds year round. Still loving on Joe and so happy to be retired. 

And that's all the news from OakMeadows where the cats shed all over everything and the Roomba goes everyday. 

Sunday, September 20, 2015

September Cooking

Slow cooker Texas-Style Chili Con Carne

8 ounces bacon (8 slices), chopped medium
Vegetable oil
1 5-pound boneless beef chuck roast, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
Salt and pepper
1 onion, chopped medium
3 jalapeño chilies, stemmed,needed, and minced
3 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons cumin
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
6 (6 inch) corn tortillas,torn into 2 inch pieces
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 chipotle chilies in adobo sauce, chopped medium
2 teaspoons sugar
3 (15.5 ounce) cans red kidney beans, rinsed
1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

Cook the bacon in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat until crisp, about 8 minutes.  Add the bacon to the slow cooker, reserve the bacon fat separately. If you have less than 2 tablespoonful, add vegetable oil to make a total of 2 tablespoonful. 

Dry the beef with paper towels, then season with salt and pepper.  Add 2 teaspoons of the bacon fat to the skillet and heat over medium-high heat until almost smoking.  Brown half of the beef, about 10 minutes, then add to the slow cooker.  Return the skillet to medium-high heat and repeat with 2 more teaspoons bacon fat and the remaining beef. 

Add the remaining 2 teaspoons bacon fat to the empty skillet and return to medium heat until shimmering.  Add the onions, garlic, jalapeños, chili powder, cumin, and 1/4 teaspoon salt.  Cook until the onion is softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, scraping up any browned bits.  Bring to a simmer and pour into the slow cooker. 

Combine the tortillas and 1 cup chicken broth in a microwave safe bowl and microwave on high until mushy, about 2 minutes. Purée the mixture in blender or food processor until smooth, about 1 minute.  Stir into slow cooker.  Add the remaining 3 cups of chicken broth, chipotles, and sugar to the slow cooker. 

Cover and cook on low for 9-10 hours or 6-7 hours on high.  Stir in the beans during the last hour of cooking.  Before serving, stir in the cilantro and lime juice and season with salt and pepper to taste. 

Serves 8 generously.  Jalapeño cornbread is delicious with this. 

Saturday, September 19, 2015

September Meditation

Fall has always been my favorite season.  The time when everything bursts with its last beauty, as if Nature has been saving up all year for the grand finale. 

     Lauren DeStephano, Wither

Goals for September 20-26, 2015

     Daily Bible Reading
     Sayings of the Desert Fathers

     Exercise DVD 5 times
     Healthy Breakfast 5 times

Quilting Finish blocks and start borders

     Few Oranges and No Apples by Vere Hodgso 
     Eleanor and Franklin by Joseph P. Lash
     Death of A Gossip by M.C. Beaton

     Tuna Salad Sandwiches
     Chicken Parmesan
     Roast and Vegetables
     Bran Muffins
     Peanut Butter Cookies

     Find someone to refinish sewing machine cabinet
     Call to have someone fix the grandfather clock

     Lunch with P&W&C&B
     Reunion reservations
     Make appt. with Adaptive Driving
     Yellowstone reservations

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

September Around OakMeadows

Around OakMeadows

I had a nice post all ready and when I hit publish, it disappeared.  I will try to recreate it; I just hope I can remember it all. 

I started with the lovely cool weather we had over the weekend and Monday.  Cool, low humidity, and no mosquitoes. I could even work outside without getting wringing wet with sweat. Nice. 

The fires in California are just breaking my heart. People losing their homes and all their possessions and the poor wildlife clinging to what habitat they had remaining. Will the drought ever end??

I've made good progress on the baby quilt. I hope to finish quilting the blocks this week and start on the borders next week. We shall see. 

I am reading 3 excellent books. Few Oranges and No Eggs is the diary kept by Vere Hodgson 1940-1945 while living in London. I'm  up to the beginning of 1941 now and have been enthralled reading about her experience during the Blitz. One thing she writes about over and over is not the shortage of food but the shortage of sleep deprived how tired everyone is. With the night after night bombing and the fires, no one was getting any sleep. Occasionally, she would be so tired that she would sleep through it which was a very dangerous thing to do. 

Politics: I like Bernie Sanders and hope he gets the Democratic Party nomination.  I will vote for Hillary if she gets the nomination but with considerably less enthusiasm.  She seems almost as paranoid as Richard Nixon was. Anyway, I'm a Bernheart.  The Republican candidates are just bizarre. IMHO. 

That's all the news from OakMeadows where the cats eat Fancy Feast and the people wash their dishes. 

Monday, September 14, 2015

September Cooking

Cream Scones with Currants

2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for the counter
3tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/4 inch cubes and chilled
1/2 cup currants
1 cup heavy cream

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 450 degrees.  Pulse the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a food processor to combine, about 6 pulses.  Scatter the butter evenly over the top and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal with a few slightly larger butter lumps, about 12 pulses. 

Add the currants and quickly pulse once to combine. Transfer the dough to a large bowl.  Stir in the cream with a rubber spatula until the dough begins to form, about 30 seconds. 

Turn the dough and any floury bits out onto a floured counter and knead until it forms a rough, sticky ball, 5-10 seconds.  Press the dough into a 9-inch cake pan.  Unmold the dough and cut into 8 wedges.  Place the wedges on an ungreased baking sheet. 

Bake until the scone tops are light brown, 12-15 minutes. Cool on wire rack for at least 10 minutes.  Serve warm or at room temperature.  


Cranberry-Orange Scones
     Add 1 teaspoon grated orange zest with the butter, and substitute 3/4 cups dried cranberries for the currants. 

Lemon-Blueberry Scones
     Add 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest with the butter and substitute 1 cups fresh or frozen blueberries for the currants.  Mix the dough by hand after adding the blueberries to keep the whole. 

Sunday, September 13, 2015

September Meditation

No spring nor summer beauty hath such grace as I have seen in one autumnal face.

     John Donne, The Autumnal

Friday, September 11, 2015

Goals for the Week of September 13-19, 2015

     Daily Bible Reading
     Sayings of the Desert Fathers

     WW breakfast 5 days
     Exercise DVD 5 days

Quilting: Finish quilting blocks on baby quilt

     1776 by David McCullough
     Few Eggs and No Oranges by Vere Hodgson 
     Eleanor and Franklin by Joseph P. Lash
     The Awakening of Miss Prim by Natalia S. Fenollera 

     Shrimp Jambalaya 
     Slow Cooker Chicken Stew
     Spaghetti and Meat Sauce
     Peanut Butter Cookies

     Clean out cabinets under the kitchen sink
     One more section of closet

     Make hotel reservations for BHS Class of 1965

Around OakMeadows

We have had several unseasonably cool days and what blessed relief it has been. Many years the first weeks in September are in the upper 90s or low 100s so a high of 84 is much appreciated.  I just grieve over the drought and horrible fires in beautiful California. Will the drought there ever end?

I am making some progress on the baby quilt. I am hoping to get the blocks in the center finished this week and start quilting the borders next week. 

I have 3 books going and all are just excellent. Few Eggs and No Oranges is a diary kept by Vere Hodgson in London during World War II. It is so interesting to read about the bombing during the Blitz. The thing she writes most about is how tired everyone is from the sleepless nights.  One thing that strikes me is how everyone just tried to keep everything going. I wonder if we would do nearly as well today?

The migrant/refugee situation in Europe is truly awful. I can certainly understand why people from war torn countries such as Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, and a dozen other countries would want to escape to Europe. But, I have to wonder how such large numbers of people from a vastly different culture will assimilate into their new home. There was an interesting article in the NYT about the coming genocides as climate change makes more and more people migrate for one reason or another.  What on earth happens as Bangladesh becomes more and more uninhabitable from sea level rise--where will they go? India, not likely. What a situation!

Politics: I like Bernie Sanders and hope he gets the nomination. If Hillary gets the nomination, I will vote for her but with considerably less enthusiasm. She seems almost as paranoid as Richard Nixon. The Republican candidates couldn't get more bizarre if they tried. 

We had dinner with T&C Saturday evening at Taste of Texas.  I love everything on the menu. One of my favorite things is their Stuffed Mushroom appetizer. I think that was what did me in. By the time we got home, things were not pleasant and I spent the next several hours in the bathroom. The next day I had crackers and Coke over ice and got to feeling much better.  

Joe is talking about retiring completely next June. He is still working 2 days a week.  I certainly have no objections but in all honesty, I think he will miss the interaction with colleagues. But he will be 69 years old and he does tire more easily although he won't admit it. 

We want to take a Mediterranean cruise but we won't be able to do it next spring because we want T&C to come with us. She is trying to get a TDY in Washington and won't be able to take vacation time while there.  So I guess we are back to going to Yellowstone as we originally planned. 

That's all the news from OakMeadows where the cats eat Fancy Feast and the people wash their dishes.  

Thursday, September 10, 2015

September Around OakMeadows

I had a bout of insomnia last night. I tried listening to the radio, listening to an audio book, listening to a Dave Ramsey podcast; I tried laying in bed, I tried my comfy chair, I thought about trying the recliner but thought it too much trouble. I finally slept from 12:30 to 1:30 and from 2:30 to 5am. Well, the good thing is that I don't have to go to work and could take a nap from 11am to 1pm. What I 
wouldn't give for a good night's sleep!

We had a 50% chance of rain today but it never did rain. The clouds helped keep things relatively cool for August.  There were a few mosquitoes this morning when I went out to clean and fill the birdbaths and set out the sunflower seed and peanuts for the birds. We are trying to keep seed in the feeders that the blackbirds can't get into but the cardinals can. I'm not sure just how effective this is.  But in the spring and fall we have flocks of blackbirds migrating through and they can clean out a feeder in no time at all. 
We have 2-3 hummingbirds at our feeder.  They also feed on the bottlebrush bushes of which we probably have 30. I change the sugar water in the feeder every Friday which reminds me that I need to make a fresh batch.  

We had a beautiful rainbow this morning in the north:

I had to stop reading The Great Divide by Matt Taibbi because it was just too depressing.  I don't doubt at all what he is saying about the difference in how the poor are treated by the criminal justice 
system and how the Wall Street white-collar criminals are treated but it was just too upsetting to read 412 pages of it. 

JMM brought home hamburgers for dinner because I had no energy for cooking. 

Monday, September 7, 2015

Fantastic Frittatas

I love frittatas! There are a million ways to make them. Here's one of my favorites. 

Frittata with Asparagus, Ham, and Gruyere

6 large eggs, lightly beaten 
1/2 cup shredded Gruyere 
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
8 ounces Asparagus, trimmed of tough ends and cut on to bias into 1/4 inch pieces
2 ounces deli ham, sliced 1/4 inch thick, and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1/2 cup onion, chopped fine
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

Adjust an oven rack to the upper-middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees. 
Whisk together the eggs, Gruyere, salt and pepper. 
Heat oil in a 10-inch nonstick ovenproof skillet over medium heat until shimmering. 
Add the onion, asparagus, and ham and cook until softened, about 4 minutes. 
Add the eggs and parsley, cook about 1 minute. 
Gently pull the cooked eggs back from one edge of the skillet and tilt the pan, allowing any uncooked egg to run to the edge of the skillet. Repeat this process, working around the skillet until the egg on top is mostly set but still moist, 1-2 minutes. 
Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake until the frittata top is set and dry to the touch, about 3 minutes. 
Run a spatula around the skillet edge to loosen the frittata and invert it onto a serving plate. Let stand 3-4 minutes before serving. 

Saturday, September 5, 2015

September Meditation

Autumn....the year's last, loveliest smile. 

     William Cullen Bryant

Friday, September 4, 2015

September Poetry

Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate.
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer's lease hath all too short a date.
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimmed;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance, or nature's changing course untrimmed.
But thy eternal summer shall not fade
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow'st;
Nor shall death brag thou wand'rest in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou grow'st,
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee. 

Goals for Week of September 6-12, 2015

     Daily Bible Reading
     Sayings of the Desert Fathers

     Healthy Breakfast
     Exercise DVD

Quilting: Work on baby quilt

     1776 by David McCullough
     Eleanor and Franklin by Joseph Lash
     Few Eggs and No Oranges by Vere Hodgson 

     Applesauce Raisin Spice Cake
     Corned Beef Hash, Cream style corn
     Chicken-Rice Bake
     Beef and Bok Choy

     Finally finish sorting through VCR tapes and DVDs
     Do one more section of closet

     Buy birthday present for DD
     Birthday dinner for DD