Saturday, December 31, 2016

Sunday Meditation

"The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness."  John Muir

Friday, December 30, 2016

It Sifts from Leaden Sieves by Emily Dickinson

It sifts from leaden sieves,
It powders all the wood
It fills with alabaster wool
The wrinkles of the road. 

It makes an even face
Of mountain and of plain,--
Unbroken forehead from the east
Unto the east again. 

It reaches to the fence,
And wraps, it rail by rail,
Till it is lost in fleeces;
It flings a crystal veil

On stump and stack and stem,--
The summer's empty room,
Acres of seams where harvests were,
Recordless, but for them.

It ruffles wrists of posts,
As ankles of a queen,--
Then stills its artisans like ghosts,
Denying they have been.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Goals for the Week of January 1 - 7, 2017

     Daily Bible Reading
     Introduction to the Devout Life by St. Francis de Sales 

     Healthy Breakfast
     Exercise DVD
     Water - 32 oz.

Quilting -- Start working on monster quilt. 

     Zbinden's Progress by Christoph Simon 
     Gaining Ground by Forrest Pritchard
     Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are by Frans de Waal

     New Years Dinner: Ham, sweet potatoes, GB, fruit salad, yeast rolls
     Baked Fish, carrots/thyme, Corn
     Chicken Rice Bake
     Cutlets, GMP, GB

     Put up winter door wreath and dining room decorations 
     Quarterly finances

     Order clothes from LLBean

Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly

Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly

Lilac Girls is the story of how three real women lived through World War II. The women are Caroline Ferriday of New York City, Kasia Kuzmerick of Lublin, Poland, and Dr. Herta Oberhauser of Germany. I want to reiterate that these were real women and the general story is factual.  I understand that this is a first novel for this writer. It is amazing in almost every way, character development, time line, plot, and ending. The research for this novel must have taken years and much effort.  I gave it 5 stars although it was very difficult for me to read. I find books about the brutality and inhumanity of the Nazi death camps unbearable. If I had realized that much of the book is set in Ravensbruck before starting to read it, most likely I wouldn't have started it. However, once started, it was impossible to put down. While the horrors of the camp is never far from the story, there is also kindness, humanity, and some redemptive resolution.  Truly an amazing first novel. 

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Birds at South Padre Island Nature Center

We took a trip to the Lower Rio Grande Valley after Thanksgiving.  The Nature Center there is one of our favorite places to see birds.  

Green Heron

Green Jay

American Widgeon
Common Moorhen

Just kidding!!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Around OakMeadows

Christmas decorations 

Around OakMeadows

One evening last week when it was unseasonably warm, my husband was reading in his recliner and had the back door open.  Just as I came into the room, a little brown face with a black mask peeked inside. I was startled to see him and he was just as startled to see me. It was Mikey (named from the old Cereal commercial) who had been sent by his 3 siblings to let JMM know that the food tray needed refilling.  He waited while JMM filled up the can with dog chow and followed him down the path to the food tray. The others were waiting in the tree and came down as JMM left. I call JMM the Raccoon Pied Piper.  

This has been the year that I have done nothing for Christmas. JMM got the 5 plastic bins of decorations down as he always does the day after Thanksgiving. After a few days of just sitting there, I realized that if I left it all in the boxes, I wouldn't have to put it all away on New Years Day. So I did not take anything out. And the world did not end. I'm not depressed or anything, I just didn't want to be bothered. And I won't be cooking Christmas dinner either since we will be in Las Vegas. No Christmas cards, no decorations, and no cooking Christmas dinner. And I like it just fine. 

We are leaving for Las Vegas on Christmas Eve. Daughter and Son-in-law are meeting us there. None of us gamble so we are seeing shows and eating out for 4 days. Daughter has never seen "O" and I am delighted to see it again. Other shows include Rock of Ages, a Michael Jackson show, and Blue Man. I think we may see Seinfeld but I'm not sure. JMM wanted to see Celine Dionne but she is not there over Christmas.  It is certainly a different Christmas for us. 

That's all the news from OakMeadows where the cats all nap and so do the people. 

January Menu

1.  Ham, Black-eyed Peas, Sweet Potatoes, Fruit Salad 
2. Baked Fish, Carrots/Thyme, Corn
3. Chicken-Rice Bake
4. Cutlets, GMP, GB
5. Leftovers 
6. Out
7. Bacon Sandwiches, Oven Fries
8. Slow Cooker 
9. Shrimp Jambalaya
10. Chicken Tenders, Beans, Coleslaw 
11. Meatloaf, GMP, GB
12. Leftovers 
13. Out
14. Macaroni and Cheese, Corn
15. Pancakes and Sausage 
16. Tuna Salad Sandwiches, Veggie Tray
17. KFC
18. Pizza
19. Leftovers 
20. Out
21. Scrambled Eggs, Ham, Toast 
22. Slow Cooker Beef
23. Seafood Pasta
24. Leftovers 
25. Spaghetti and Meatballs 
26. Leftovers 
27. Out
28. CB Hash, Cream Style Corn
29. Potato Soup
30. Beans and Rice and Sausage, Cornbread 
31. Stuffed Wieners, Corn

Friday, December 16, 2016

My Favorite Books of 2016

My Favorite Books of 2016

What a wonderful year of reading. So many really good books. It was difficult to pick my 10 favorites so I increased it to 12. I tend to read more nonfiction but this year's fiction was really outstanding. 


The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer 
A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman 
Letters to the Lost by Iona Grey
The Harrows of Spring by James H. Kunstler
The Road to Little Dribbling by Bill Bryson 
The Summer before the War by Helen Simonson
The Gilded Hour by Sara Donati


The Hidden Lives of Trees by Peter Wohlleben 
Killing the Rising Sun by Bill O'Reilly 
Founding Gardeners by Andrea Wulf 
The Invention of Nature: Alexander Von Humbolt by Andrea Wulf
James Madison: A Biography by Ralph Ketchum 
The Life of Birds by David Attenborough 
On My Own by Diane Rehm

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore

This is soooo easy. 

Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore 

1 Large Onion
1/4 cup tomato paste
2 tablespoons olive oil
6 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon dried oregano 
1 teaspoon dried basil
2 cups sliced Baby Bella mushrooms
1 can diced tomatoes, 14.5 oz. 
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup red wine
2 tablespoons Minute tapioca
6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
Salt and pepper 

1. Microwave onions, tomato paste, garlic, oregano, basil, mushrooms, and red pepper flakes until onions are softened, about 5 minutes. Transfer to slow cooker. 

2. Stir tomatoes, broth, wine, and tapioca into slow cooker.  Season chicken with salt and pepper and nestle into slow cooker. Cover and cook for 4-6 hours on low.  

Can serve over pasta. 

Thought for the Day

A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. 

Albert Einstein

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Winter Poetry

Blow, blow, thou winter wind 
Thou art not so unkind 
As man's ingratitude; 
Thy tooth is not so keen, 
Because thou art not seen, 
Although thy breath be rude. 

Heigh-ho! sing, heigh-ho! unto the green holly: 
Most freindship if feigning, most loving mere folly: 
Then heigh-ho, the holly! 
This life is most jolly. 

Freeze, freeze thou bitter sky, 
That does not bite so nigh 
As benefits forgot: 
Though thou the waters warp, 
Thy sting is not so sharp 
As a friend remembered not. 
Heigh-ho! sing, heigh-ho! unto the green holly: 
Most friendship is feigning, most loving mere folly: 
Then heigh-ho, the holly! 
This life is most jolly. 

William Shakespeare

Friday, December 9, 2016

Goals for the Week of December 11 - 17, 2016

     Daily Bible Reading
     Introduction to the Devout Life by St. Francis de Sales 

     Exercise DVD
     Go to bed early 

Quilting - finish piecing the top of the baby boy quilt

     The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer (So far it is excellent!)
     Cravings by Chrissy Teigen
     Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are? by F.B.M. de Waal

     Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore 
     Shrimp Jambalaya 
     Chicken Tenders, Beans, Cole Slaw
     Pork Tenderloin, Sweet Potato, Spinach
     Apple Pecan Muffins

     Order New Year's door wreath

     Dental cleaning
     Lunch with P&W&C&B 


Thursday, December 8, 2016

Birthday Trip

Birthday Trip

We took a 2 day trip to the Lower Rio Grande Valley to do some birding and to go to the National Butterfly Center.  Joe took his super-duper camera and took some beautiful photos.  I will post them when he finishes with them and sends them to me.  
This was a perfect birthday present.  One of the things I enjoy most is meeting other people who are as fascinated with birds and butterflies as we are.  When we were at the South Padre Island Nature Center, we met a couple who had never been to the National Butterfly Center in Mission.  It was a pleasure to tell them about it and since it was only an hour and a half from where we were, they indicated that they would certainly go.   

There really isn't anything I can say or do about the embarrassment that is about to be inaugurated as our President.  I hope that his narcissism doesn't get us into a war or rather any more wars.  It's going to be a long, disastrous 4 years. All I can do is support our local food pantry, make quilts for the Salvation Army, and give what I can to the Nature Conservancy.  I anticipate inflation to kick in if * goes through with lowering taxes and increasing spending on infrastructure.  This is going to be hard on the poor and the elderly.  

Winter seems to have finally arrived.  It will be down in the mid 30s and highs around 50.  I know what a wimp I must seem to those up North but for the Texas Gulf Coast, this is cold!! My cats are ever so affectionate in cold weather, especially if I have the heating pad on.  

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Around OakMeadows

Around Oak Meadows

I am finally about 95% over my cold.  Still have some sinus drainage and cough but I feel better, can sleep at night, and have my energy back. Well, at least more energy.  

We have been to see two movies recently.  We saw Arrival first.  I thought it was well done and appreciated the lack of blowing things up.  It presented the problem of communication with aliens and our human reaction to them in a very thoughtful manner.  Amy Adams was just perfect.  The second movie was Fantastic Beasts and it had enough things being blown up for at least two movies.  JMM like it more than I did; I was ready to leave about 45 minutes into it.  YMMV. 

Thanksgiving was quiet with just JMM and I.  We cooked our turkey and dressing, corn, and sweet potato. JMM spatchcocked the turkey and it was okay but I prefer it cooked in the roaster. The sweet potato didn't get cooked because I had it in the little oven and JMM unplugged it not realizing that I had the sweet potato in there.  Oh well.  Pecan pie for dessert.  JMM did all the cleaning up and putting away as I was just exhausted.  

I am reading two really good books: The Hidden Life of Trees  by Peter Wohlleben and The Strange Case of the Broad Street Pump  by Sandra Hempel.  I will try to finish them and get reviews up next week. Both are excellent.  

I took my Scrap 9-Nine Patch quilt in to be machine quilted.  I'm not in any hurry to get it back and I know she is busy with things that people want finished before Christmas so I don't anticipate getting it back until after the first of the year. The baby boy quilt is almost cut out and I am looking forward to getting to work on it.  

We've had record warm weather here but a cool front is supposed to move through today.  We still have Monarchs in the milkweed and lantana beds.  I don't think we've ever seen them this late. Lots of Queens, Gulf fritillaries, and Cloudless Sulphurs.  We may take a drive down to Galveston Friday to do some birding if the weather is good. 

Going to lunch today with a group from the neighborhood.  We are all retired and like to get together about once a month.  

That's about it from OakMeadows where the cats eat Fancy Feast and the people are still eating leftovers.  

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

December Menu

December Menu

1. Leftovers
2. Out
3. Bacon Sandwiches, Oven Fries
4. Pancakes and Sausage
5. Baked Fish, Carrots/Thyme, Corn
6. Chicken-Rice Bake
7. Steak, GMP, GB
8. Leftovers 
9. Out
10. Stuffed Wieners, Corn
11. Slow Cooker Chicken
12. Shrimp Jambalaya 
13. Chicken Tenders, Beans, Cole Slaw
14. Pork Roast, Sweet Potatoes, Spinach
15. Leftovers
16. Out
17. Corned Beef Hash, Cream Style Corn
18. Schlotzsky's
19. Tuna Salad Sandwiches 
20. Chicken Parmesan 
21. Pizza
22. Leftovers
23. Las Vegas
24. Las Vegas
25. Las Vegas
26. Las Vegas
27. Scrambled Eggs, Sausage, Toast
28. Seafood pasta
29. Spaghetti and Meatballs 
30. Leftovers
31. Out

Friday, November 25, 2016

Goals for the Week of November 27 - December 3, 2016

     Daily Bible Reading
     Introduction to the Devout Life by St. Francis de Sales

     Healthy breakfast 
     32 oz. water daily
     Exercise DVD daily

Quilting -- I am finally going to get the baby boy quilt cut out!

     The Strange Case of the Broad Street Pump by Sandra Hempel
     The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben

      Veggie Soup
      Tuna Salad Sandwiches
      Chicken Casserole
      Spaghetti and Meatballs 

     Take down autumn decorations
     Put out Christmas decorations

     Finally get over this aggravating cold.
     Make donation to Food Pantry 

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Tuesday, November 22, 2016



Half a century ago when my husband and I were dating, we had Thanksgiving dinner with my family. It was the traditional turkey and dressing. It was the dressing my mother made every year and that's what dressing was to me.  Afterward, I asked Joe how he liked the turkey and dressing.  After much evasion, he finally admitted that he liked his mother's dressing better. I was sure that I was going to marry him in spite of his not knowing what proper dressing was.  So the next year we had Thanksgiving dinner with his family.  Oh my, my future MIL really did make a dressing that was way better.  I never got the complete recipe from her because she didn't make it from a recipe, she just put it all together and it was just perfect.  So here is the recipe for the dressing closest to hers that I have ever found. 

2 pans of cornbread 
2 pounds sausage (Owens regular)
4 cups chopped celery
3 cups chopped onion 
1 cup chopped bell pepper 
1/4 cup dried parsley
1 1/2 teaspoons rubbed savory
1 1/2 teaspoons dried sage
1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 tablespoon salt (or less if you prefer)
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 can chicken broth
3 eggs, slightly beaten

1. Make cornbread, 2 pans. 
2. In a large skillet, brown the sausage. Lift out with a slotted spoon. 
3. In the pan drippings, sauté celery, onion, and bell pepper, until tender--about 8 minutes. 
4. After cornbread has cooled, crumble it into a very large pan. Add sausage, vegetables, savory, sage, parsley, thyme, salt and pepper.  Gradually, add broth and eggs, tossing and mixing thoroughly.  
5. Cover tightly with foil and bake at 350 for 1 1/2 hours.  Remove foil and bake another 15-20 minutes to form a nice brown top. 

Friday, November 18, 2016

Just checking in

I've had a cold this week and really felt miserable.  Maybe the shock of the election weakened my immune system.  I am slowly getting better. Glad we are not planning a big Thanksgiving.

Goals for the Week November 20-26, 2016

     Daily Bible Reading
     Introduction to the Devout Life by St. Francis de Sales

     Healthy breakfast 
     32 oz. water daily
     Exercise DVD daily

Quilting - cut out top for baby boy quilt

     The Strange Case of the Broad Street Pump by Sandra Hempel

     Tuna Salad Sandwiches
     Chicken tenders, Beans


     Monday- Mani/Pedi
     Tuesday- Housecleaners
     Thursday- Thanksgiving

Saturday, November 12, 2016

November Meditation

“It is better to remain silent at the risk of being thought a fool, than to talk and remove all doubt of it.” 
 Maurice Switzer

Friday, November 11, 2016

November Poetry

                                     I'm Thankful for You

                              Thanksgiving is the appointed time
for focusing on the good in our lives.
In each of our days,
we can find small blessings,
but too often we overlook them,
choosing instead to spend our time
paying attention to problems.
We give our energy
to those who cause us trouble
instead of those who bring peace.
Starting now,
let's be on the lookout
for the bits of pleasure in each hour,
and appreciate the people who
bring love and light to everyone
who is blessed to know them.
You are one of those people.
On Thanksgiving,
I'm thankful for you.
Happy Thanksgiving!

By Joanna Fuchs

Goals for Week of November 13-19, 2016

     Daily Bible Reading
     Introduction to the Devout Life by St. Francis de Sales

     Weight Watchers 
     32 oz. water daily
     Exercise DVD daily

Quilting - Make top of Baby Boy Quilt

     The Strange Case of the Broad Street Pump by Sandra Hempel
     Commonwealth by Ann Patchett

     Tuna Salad Sandwiches
     Slow Cooker Chicken with Sausage and White Beans
     Macaroni and Cheese
     Cutlets, GMP, and GB


     Lunch with P&W&C&B 

Thursday, November 10, 2016

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman 

Another reason to thank my daughter: She was reading this book and accidentally left it at my house when she went to her home.  I decided to give it a try and am so glad that I did. It is a real jewel.  
Ove is a widower who has always believed that right is right and wrong is wrong and following the rules is not negotiable.  His plans are totally upended when new neighbors back a trailer into his mailbox and flower bed. Ove is convinced that any competent adult male should be able to back up a trailer, so obviously the male partner of the new neighbor couple is an incompetent fool.  Fortunately, the pregnant wife is made of sterner stuff and the fun begins. Each time Ove is all set to carry out his plan, he is stymied by neighborhood necessities. 
It's a lovely book, a really GoodRead. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

November Around OakMeadows

Around OakMeadows 

Well drat, The Donald won and Hillary lost and the Republicans hold both the House of Representatives and the Senate.  So The Donald should have an open path to implementing his programs and policies.  It will be interesting to see in 4 years if the people who voted for him are any better off or any less angry than they are today. We shall see. 

It was an overcast day so very few butterflies were out.  We've been trying to track down a source of Blue Mist Flower plants (not seeds) as we have learned that the blooms are very attractive to bees and butterflies. JMM checked at Enchanted Gardens and they said they will have them in the early spring, February or March.  I want to rip out the lantana and replace it with the Mist Flowers.  

JMM took Misty and Bandit to get their shots and he said that he had a time getting Misty out of her carrier but Bandit just strolled out when the cage was open, got his shot, and strolled back in.  Cats are so individual.  

Went to lunch today with DD and DSIL at Pappadeaux for their good seafood.  It was kind of a going away lunch since she leaves for Washington on Friday for an 18 month assignment.  Goodness, I am going to miss her!

I am so pleased with the fabric I have for my next quilt. It is going to be a baby boy quilt. I am going to try to get it cut out tomorrow.  

Reading two really good books: The Strange Case of the Broad Street Pump by Sandra Hempel and Commonwealth by Ann Patchett.  

That's about all the news around OakMeadows where the cats eat Fancy Feast and the people eat leftovers.  

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Plans for Next Week

     Daily Bible Reading
     Introduction to the Devout Life by St. Francis de Sales

     Healthy breakfast 
     32 oz. water daily
     Exercise DVD daily

Quilting -- Cut out baby boy quilt

     Early Warning by Jane Smiley
     The Tree by Colin Tudge

     Shrimp Jambalaya
     Oven BBQ Chicken, Baked Beans, Cole Slaw
     Beefand Bok Choy Stir Fry


     Take cats for immunizations
     Lunch with DD

Saturday, November 5, 2016

What a day!

And it started out so nice, so ordinary.  JMM went out to do some watering in the garden and in the process of moving a hose, his hand brushed against an asp.  These are small little caterpillars of a moth which are covered with rather long beige hairs.  These hairs are barbed and contain a toxin that causes a really painful sting which generally lasts about 1-2 hours.  So when he came inside we did the recommended first aid - wash the area, use tape to try to remove any remaining hairs, Benadryl, ibuprofen, and ice.  We knew it would hurt for an hour or so and then that would be that. Only it wasn't. It was just the beginning. Over the next 3 hours, his hand turned red and swelled greatly. But that wasn't the worst of it. Instead of a burning, stinging sensation, he said it felt like the bones in his hand were being broken and the pain was all the way up to his armpit. At 3pm, I called the nurse at our doctor's office and she recommended taking him to the ER.  So off we went to the ER.  They gave him an injection of toradol and oral prednisone and Pepcid. When the pain didn't get any better, they gave him morphine.  Gradually the pain lessened somewhat and he was discharged with prescriptions for prednisone, Pepcid, and Norco. His sleep last night was rather broken but by morning the pain was gone and the swelling has slowly gone down today. We both think that the prednisone is what is clearing it up.  What a day we had!

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Butterflies from our trip to the Lower Rio Grande Valley

November Around OakMeadows

Around OakMeadows

JMM and I had our annual physicals last week. We are both in good health. My blood pressure has been elevated over the past year so I am starting to take lisinopril 10mg daily. JMM has been taking it for a couple of years.  I am so thankful that we are both in good health and that we have access to good healthcare.  

We are still having very warm weather -- up to the mid 80s -- and lots of butterflies.  We didn't go to the annual Texas Butterfly Festival in the Lower Rio Grande Valley this year. We had just come back from our trip to MMM in Virginia and I am not a good traveler. Anyway, we will go next year.  Here it is the first of November and I counted 8 Monarchs in our garden today. 

I've got my fabric and pattern for my next quilt.  It is for a little boy. No boys on the way that I know of but it will be nice to have one ready.  

I finished reading Killing the Rising Sun by Bill O'Reilly. I was all prepared not to like it because I don't like him but the last one-third of the book was so good and I learned so much about the Russian invasion of Manchuria.  I also liked his treatment of Harry Truman and Douglas MacArthur.  Anyway, it was worth reading.  Currently, I am reading The Tree by Colin Tudge (non-fiction) and Early Warning by Jane Smiley (fiction); both are pretty good so far. 

The only interesting thing I'm going to cook this week is a Lemon Bundt cake with a lemon glaze.  The rest of the cooking is just the usual.  

Upcoming travel plans include Christmas in Las Vegas to see some shows and maybe do some birding. There's a trip to London in the spring.  We've talked about a midwinter Caribbean cruise but that isn't definite. 

That's all the news from OakMeadows where the cats nap in the sunshine and so do the people. (Joy, joy--only one more week of election stuff!!)

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Beef Noodle (or Rice) Soup

Beef Noodle (or Rice) Soup

1 large onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minces
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon vegetable oil 
1 teaspoon dried thyme
6 cups beef broth
1 cup sliced mushrooms
3 carrots, chopped medium
2 ribs celery, chopped medium
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 bay leaves 
1 1/2 pounds steak, trimmed
Salt and pepper
2 cups eggs noodles, or 2/3 cup rice
Fresh parsley, if desires

1. Microwave onion, garlic, tomato paste, oil, and thyme in a large bowl stirring occasionally until onions are softened, about 5 minutes.  Transfer to slow cooker. 

2. Stir broth, mushrooms, carrots, celery, soy sauce, and bay leaves into slow cooker.  Season beef with salt and pepper and place in slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 9-11 hours or high for 5-7 hours. 

3. Remove meat and shred and return to soup.  

4. Cook noodles or rice separately and add to soup just before serving.  

Makes 6-8 servings.