Sunday, February 28, 2016

March Menu

March Menu

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

Friday, February 26, 2016

February Meditations

The real things haven't changed.  It is still best to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasures; and have courage when things go wrong.

Laura Ingalls Wilder

February Poetry

"Announced by all the trumpets of the sky,
Arrives the snow, and, driving o'er the fields,
Seems nowhere to alight: the withered air
Hides hills and woods, the river, and the heaven,
And veils the farm-house at the garden's end.
The sled and traveler stopped, the courier's feet
Delayed, all friends shut out, and housemates sit
Around the radiant fireplace, enclosed
In a tumultuous privacy of storm."
-  Ralph Waldo Emerson

Goals for Next Week

     Daily Bible Reading
     The Rule of St. Benedict

     Healthy Lunch
     Exercise DVD

     Stitch batting together
     Layer & baste quilt

     SPQR by Mary Beard
     Madison: A Biography by Ralph Ketcham
     The Gilded Age by Sara Donati

     Baked Fish, Carrots/Thyme, Cabbage
     Chicken Rice Bake, Leftover Cabbage
     Steak, GMP, GB
     Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

     Order Spring Door Wreath

     Income Taxes
     Lunch with Sherry, 
     JMM interview for GOES 

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Around OakMeadows

Foggy morning showing off the dew drenched spider webs.

 We've had some needed rain but the wind has nearly blown us away! I guess we are getting our March winds a bit early.  My yard looks the best that it has ever looked.  It is perfectly trimmed and edged, mowed, the sidewalks and porches blown clean, and the beds and trees are mulched. They are coming back to put in some more plants and it will be even more beautiful. 

I'm so pleased with the quilt top. Next, I need to make the back piece.  Then for the batting, I have so many pieces of leftover batting that I am going to whip stitch the pieces together to make a piece large enough for the batting for this quilt.  Hope to get this done this week. 

I'm less than enthusiastic about SPQR by Mary Beard. She takes forever to say that they really don't know much about the earliest beginnings of Rome. Hope it gets better.  In opposition to SPQR, Madison: A Biography by Ralph Ketcham just keeps getting better and better. I am now on the section where the states are having conventions to determine ratification of the Constitution.  It makes me feel better about today's political turmoil to read how contentious the ratification process was.  Lastly, I have a good fiction book in progress too. Secrets of a Charmed Life by Susan Meissner has me enthralled. 

That's all the news from OakMeadows where the cats all nap in the sunshine and the people do too. 

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Monday, February 22, 2016

Muffin Morning

It is dark and rainy and a good day for making these Blueberry Bran Muffins.  The recipe is from the old, old Laurel's Kitchen Cookbook.  I've made them for years.

2 cups buttermilk
1 egg
2 tablespoons oil
1/2 cup honey
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups wheat bran (not bran flakes)
1 cup raisins or chopped apple, or blueberries
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Combine buttermilk, egg, oil, and honey.  Stir together flour, bran, baking soda, and baking powder.  Add to liquid ingredients.  Stir in blueberries.  Pour into lightly oiled muffin tins and bake about 21 minutes for 18 medium sized muffins.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

February Meditations

Laura felt a warmth inside her.  It was very small but it was strong.  It was steady, like a tiny light in the dark, and it burned very low, but no wind could make it flicker because it would not give up.

Laura Ingalls Wilder, The Long Winter

Friday, February 19, 2016

February Poetry

"Still lie the sheltering snows, undimmed and white;
And reigns the winter's pregnant silence still;
No sign of spring, save that the catkins fill,
And willow stems grow daily red and bright.
These are days when ancients held a rite
Of expiation for the old year's ill,
And prayer to purify the new year's will."
-  Helen Hunt Jackson, A Calendar of Sonnet's: February

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Goals for Next Week

     Daily Bible Reading
     The Rule of St. Benedict

     Healthy Lunch
     Exercise DVD

     Buy backing
     See if I already have enough batting or if I need to buy more
     James Madison: A Biography
     SPQR by Mary Beard
     Secrets of a Charmed Life by Susan Meissner

     Macaroni and Cheese
     Seafood Pasta
     Oven BBQ Chicken, Cole Slaw, Beans
     Spaghetti and Meatballs

     Yard crew to clean out and replant flower beds (Yea!!!)

     Brunch with DH, DD, & DSIL at FancyPants Restaurant

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Two Snowies

Snowy Egret

Snowy Plovers

Around OakMeadows

I am making steady progress in putting the quilt top together.  If all goes well, I should have the top finished by the end of the week.  I still do not have the backing for it though.  Must get busy and order the backing.  I feel terribly guilty about ordering online and not using my local quilt shop but oh my, how convenient it is!

My housecleaners came yesterday.  Adrian and his crew have cleaned for me once a month for about 13 years now.  He is from El Salvador. He is married and has a son and a daughter. His mother recently came from El Salvador and she has come with Adrian and his crew a couple of times. She is round and has sparkly eyes and although she speaks no English, we manage to communicate quite well. I think of Adrian and his family and crew as part of my own family.  

     The Kingdom by the Sea by Paul Theroux.  This was written in the mid-1980's so it is rather dated. But it is still a pleasant read about his walking/bus/train journey around the coast of the UK. I've found his time in Northern Ireland and Scotland the most interesting and enjoyable parts. 
      SPQR by Mary Beard.  History of Rome. This is our current read aloud book. I'm going to reserve judgement until I get further into it. So far it is easily read. 
     Madison: A Biography by Ralph Ketcham. This is excellent, just excellent.  It is also long, very long.  I am so enjoying reading about the vehement discussions over the Constitution, the very same vehement discussions that are still going on today.  One of the things I am enjoying most is that the personalities of the men are clearly portrayed, warts and all. 

JMM has finally agreed to get a lawn service to help with the yard!  I want someone to do the mowing and edging around the house and keep the flower beds weeded and mulched.  I have someone coming over at noon today to give me an estimate.  I found them on Angie's List so we shall see. Angie's List has really served us well in the past. 

Spring seems to be arriving quite early this year.  The mockingbirds are starting their non-stop singing to stake out their territory.  The goldfinches are still with us but I think there are not as many. Surely, we will have more cold weather but you never know. 

Political note: I wonder who President Obama will nominate to replace Justice Scalia?  It seems an awfully long time to wait until next year to start the nomination and confirmation proceedings as the Republican leadership wants.  We shall see!

Monday, February 15, 2016

Vegetable of the Month - Pancetta Green Beans

This year I am determined to spiff up my usual vegetables and try some new ones.  This is a simple way to add a little umph to your basic green beans. It is from Dorie Greenspan's Around My French Table cookbook. 

¾ pound green beans, trimmed 
2 ounces pancetta, coarsely chopped 
½ tablespoon unsalted butter 
Salt and freshly ground pepper 
Walnut oil (my preference) or extra-virgin olive oil 

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, and fill a bowl with ice cubes and cold water. 
Toss the beans into the boiling water and cook just until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. 
Drain, transfer to the ice-water bath, and cool for 2 minutes; drain and pat dry. 
Heat a large skillet over medium heat. 
Add the pancetta and sauté until frizzled and crisp, about 2 minutes. 
Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pancetta to a plate lined with paper towels and pat dry. 
Drain all but 1 tablespoon of fat from the skillet. 
Return the skillet to medium heat and add the butter. 
When the fat is hot, toss in the beans and cook, stirring, until heated through. 
Season with salt and pepper and stir in the pancetta. 
Remove from the heat and drizzle the beans with a little oil. 


Sunday, February 14, 2016

February Meditations

I am beginning to learn that it is the sweet, simple things that matter after all.

Laura Ingalls Wilder

Friday, February 12, 2016

Brazos Bend State Park

We had a pleasant picnic lunch at Brazos Bend State Park today. I was very surprised that there were no ducks and no roseate spoonbills.  It was sunny and warm and there were several alligators on the banks sunning themselves. We are bound to have some more cold weather but it does seem that spring is close by. These photos are from an earlier visit to the park because I didn't take my camera today. 

Winter Time by Robert Louis Stevenson

Late lies the wintry sun a-bed,
A frosty, fiery sleepy-head;
Blinks but an hour or two; and then,
A blood-red orange, sets again.

Before the stars have left the skies,
At morning in the dark I rise;
And shivering in my nakedness,
By the cold candle, bathe and dress.

Close by the jolly fire I sit
To warm my frozen bones a bit;
Or with a reindeer-sled, explore
The colder countries round the door.

When to go out, my nurse doth wrap
Me in my comforter and cap;
The cold wind burns my face, and blows
Its frosty pepper up my nose.

Black are my steps on silver sod;
Thick blows my frosty breath abroad;
And tree and house, and hill and lake,
Are frosted like a wedding cake. 

February Goals

     Daily Bible Reading
     The Rule of St. Benedict

     Healthy Lunch
     Exercise DVD

Quilting -- Finish piecing quilt top
                Order backing

    The Kingdom by the Sea by Paul Theroux
     Madison: A Biography by Ralph Ketcham
     SPQR by Mary Beard

     Slow Cooker Chicken Stew
     Tuna Salad Sandwiches
     Steak, GMP, GB

     Varnish Front Door
     House Cleaners


Thursday, February 11, 2016

February Around Oak Meadows

We continue with our alternating weather. Last week it was freezing, this week we may hit near 80 degrees.  I did get out and plant some daffodils that had been in the refrigerator for the past six weeks. I planted them in a half barrel that I put near the back porch. In the barrel to try to keep the armadillos from digging the bulbs up and near the back to keep the deer from nibbling them down to the ground once they come up. Ah, living with wildlife!

I am making good progress on my new quilt top. I have all 17 of the strips made and should be able to start putting them together tomorrow.  I'll post a picture when I get the top together.  I still don't have a backing fabric so I'll have to get that before I can put it together. I am thinking about machine quilting this one. I've always hand quilted but it is getting more and more difficult to manage a needle and thread. We shall see. 

The goldfinches are still with us, as are the Sandhill Cranes. We have more of both of these than I have ever seen before. 

JMM and I finished Founding Mothers by Cokie Roberts. It was just so interesting to read about the women of the Revolution.  Now we have jumped back even further in time to Ancient Rome.  I think it was on the Diane Rehm Show or it could have been Fresh Air that I heard an interview with Mary Beard about her new book, SPQR. It sounded very interesting and readable.  So far it is both.  

Politics. Well, there's a circus for you.  I've been eating popcorn and watching the Republican circular  firing squad.  Now, we get to watch Hillary and Bernie go at it.  If Hillary is too hawkish for me, then all of the Republicans certainly are, so that just leaves Bernie.  But unless Congress gets its act together, nothing can get done, anyway, no matter who wins the White House. 

Cooking. I need to lose 40 pounds so I'm really having to modify my cooking plans. All my healthy breakfasts are pretty much habit now.  Lunch is pretty much soup/salad/sandwich.  But dinner is a real problem. How am I going to manage without rice, potatoes, pasta? Weight Watchers counts 1/2 cup as 2 PointsPlus so I guess I can work around it. To be continued.....

We are going to Brazos Bend State Park tomorrow so I should have some nice photos from it for next time. 

That's all the news from OakMeadows where the cats are all napping and I will be napping soon too. 

Royal terns

Monday, February 8, 2016

On My Own by Diane Rehm

On My Own by Diane Rehm

In 2014 Diane Rehm lost her husband John; they had been married 54 years. Although John had Parkinson's Disease, that was not the cause of his death. John was so debilitated by PD that he chose to take his own life in the only way left to him, he starved himself to death. Since he did not live in a state which permits physicist assisted suicide, and because he could not move, the only means at his disposal to end his own suffering was to refuse food, water, and medicine. He did this for 10 days until he died. It was excruciating for Diane to watch him but she knew that he desired to end his deepening helplessness and suffering. 

This book was written during the first year of her widowhood but it goes back in time to their life together. At times it is tender with love and grief; at other times it is brutal with honesty and anger.  Diane is open about the ups and downs of their marriage and she openly questions herself in decisions regarding John's care at home, in the nursing facility, and in his means of ending his life. 

She has entered a new chapter in her life and is simply putting one foot in front of the other to keep walking through the deep emotional valley of grief and change.  She lives alone but has many friends.  The friendships give her emotional support but I think her greatest support is her own ability to look at her changing life with realism. She plans to retire from her daily radio show at the end of 2016. She has plans to work with Compassion and Choices, an organization that works toward allowing those who are dying more choices in ending their suffering. And there are other projects that are in the works.  Diane has had a remarkable life and intends to continue that life as long as health and interest allow. I am looking forward to seeing what will come next from this remarkable woman. 

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Weight Watchers Chicken Marsala

WW Chicken Marsala

2 teaspoons olive oil
3 cups sliced white or cremini mushrooms
4 B/S chicken breasts
1 teaspoon dried thyme
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup Marsala wine
1 1/4 cups reduced sodium beef broth
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch

Heat oil in large heavy skillet over medium-high heat.  Ad mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and liquid is released, about 5 minutes. 

Meanwhile, sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper and thyme.  Push mushrooms to one side of skillet. Place chicken in pan and cook until golden, about 3 minutes per side. 

Add wine to skillet and simmer 1 minute.  Add 3/4 cup of broth and simmer until chicken is cooked through, about 8-10 minutes longer.  

Meanwhile, stir together cornstarch and remaining 1/2 cup broth in a small bowl until smooth, add to skillet.  Simmer, stirring constantly, until sauce is bubbly and thickens, about 1 minute, stirring mushrooms into sauce. 

Serve with steamed broccoli and 1/2 cup cooked whole wheat pasta.  Total 7 PointsPlus. 

Saturday, February 6, 2016


A room without books is like a body without a soul.  
     Marcus Tullius Cicero

February Poetry


Winter. Time to eat fat 
and watch hockey. In the pewter mornings, the cat,   
a black fur sausage with yellow 
Houdini eyes, jumps up on the bed and tries   
to get onto my head. It’s his 
way of telling whether or not I’m dead. 
If I’m not, he wants to be scratched; if I am   
He’ll think of something. He settles 
on my chest, breathing his breath 
of burped-up meat and musty sofas, 
purring like a washboard. Some other tomcat,   
not yet a capon, has been spraying our front door,   
declaring war. It’s all about sex and territory,
which are what will finish us off 
in the long run. Some cat owners around here   
should snip a few testicles. If we wise   
hominids were sensible, we’d do that too,   
or eat our young, like sharks. 
But it’s love that does us in. Over and over   
again, He shoots, he scores! and famine 
crouches in the bedsheets, ambushing the pulsing   
eiderdown, and the windchill factor hits   
thirty below, and pollution pours 
out of our chimneys to keep us warm. 
February, month of despair, 
with a skewered heart in the centre. 
I think dire thoughts, and lust for French fries   
with a splash of vinegar. 
Cat, enough of your greedy whining 
and your small pink bumhole. 
Off my face! You’re the life principle, 
more or less, so get going 
on a little optimism around here. 
Get rid of death. Celebrate increase. Make it be spring.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Goals for Week of February 7-13, 2016

     Daily Bible Reading
     The Rule of St. Benedict

     Weight Watchers
     Exercise DVD

     Sew blocks into strips
     Order backing

     Founding Mothers by Cokie Roberts
     Madison: A Biography by Ralph Ketcham
     The Kingdom by the Sea by Paul Theroux



Thursday, February 4, 2016

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Painting the Interior

Goals for the Week January 31 - February 6

     Daily Bible Reading
     The Rule of St. Benedict

     Healthy Breakfast 
     Exercise DVD

     Cut out pieces for new quilt
     Order batting, backing, & thread

     Founding Mothers by Cokie Roberts
     The Kingdom by the Sea by Paul Theroux
     James Madison: A Biography by Ralph L. Ketchum
     Baked Fish, Carrots/Thyme, Cabbage
     Chicken-Rice Bake
     Steak, GMP, GB
     Veggie Soup
     Peanut Butter Cookies

     The painters are coming Monday to paint the interior walls. I dread the chaos but will certainly be glad to have it over with. 

     Lunch with P&W&C&B
     Plant daffodil bulbs

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Coastal Birds

Since our last trip to Galveston was not a success, I thought I would post a couple from a previous trip.  I think the cormorants are Neotropical and of course, the other photo is a ring-billed gull. 

February Around OakMeadows

Our Friday birding trip to Galveston didn't go as planned. We took a round about route and stopped at McDonalds for a quick breakfast on the way. I had a sausage and egg biscuit. Well, it didn't agree with me at all and by the time we got to Galveston, I was miserably sick. So we turned around and came back home. Spent the rest of the day either in the bathroom or in bed. Fortunately, by Saturday morning, I was fine. 

The house painters came Monday to paint the interior of the house. This is the same crew that painted the exterior in 2014. They did such a good job on the outside for a reasonable price that there was no question who to call for the interior.  They speak a very little English and I speak a very little Spanish so we manage to communicate pretty well.  The 4 cats are not amused.

I am so pleased with my new quilt. I have it all cut out and have already started the  piecing. 

We seem to be having a season of winter - spring - winter - spring. This week is warm and I noticed that my lemon tree has several blooms on it. I cut them and brought them inside to enjoy that heavenly scent (as opposed to the smell of paint.). It is supposed to be cold again later this week.  

Founding Mothers by Cokie Roberts continues to entertain and enlighten us as we are reading through it each evening. I'm also reading an excellent biography of James Madison by Ralph Ketcham.  My interest in colonial life and the American Revolution continues.  

That's all the news from the cat concierge.