Wednesday, August 31, 2016

It's been a while...

Wow! I can't believe how long it's been! This year has been crazy. It's mostly been a solid stream of unfortunate events, really. It's ridiculous by this point. As a sampling I will tell you my well pump went out, the fridge broke, the dryer didn't work, I herniated my back, and my truck was totaled. That's just to name a few!

We've moved out to the country to a small farm we're renovating with the intention of opening a winery. You ever have that situation where you buy a property and then everything breaks? Yeah....

My A/C has been out for a solid week now, and since this is Texas, my house has been holding at a humid 86-88 degrees. Yeeesh. Can't get anyone to come service out in the country though, naturally. A gent came out this morning and "fixed" it, but he never turned it on to check. I turned it on after he left, and it's still completely broken. Called the company and chatted to a rather grumpy fellow who claimed that would come back this afternoon "if they had time" which, naturally, did not happen.

Fat dog has spent the whole day panting and looking miserable. I bathed her in the hose and she stood completely still with no argument for the first time in her life.

A storm settled in this afternoon and blissfully lowered the interior temperature from hotter-than-all-blazes, to a largely tolerable 85 degrees. Fat dog and I mostly sat out on the porch in the cool breeze.

Seeing the rain over the fields of green grass and cattle reminded me that the view is quite a winner, and almost makes up for the lack of comfortable environment.

Monday, January 5, 2015

The Christmas Craziness

Oh good grief, Christmas is insane! I am almost glad it's over now. Almost because I will miss the free days and visiting loved ones, but I'm glad to be back in my pjs and able to sleep in my own bed.

I think we went around and saw everyone we're related to except for my older sister and my husband's mother (oh, but don't worry! We're going there in the near future).

Sorry it's been so long since I've written! I was in three Christmas concerts, voluteered for a fundraiser, made a ton of dog sweaters for an event, competed in a baking contest, made cookbooks for my sisters, had 3 out of town Christmases and hosted two different sets of relatives here. Phew! Luckily my house stayed pretty clean, so a few swiffers to pick up the extra dogs lying around my house and some cleaned bathroom counters and mirrors were all that was needed.

I don't know about you ladies out there, but my husband is not a very talented wrapper or cook, which means all of that was left to me. I admire you women who have children and have to wrap tons of small presents. The only kids I have to wrap for are the triplets (my husband and his two brothers) and I mostly just stuff all their gifts in one box so it's easy to wrap!

I have this problem though. You see, my mother-in-law is a super perfect wrapper. Her other sons just dump their presents off at her house to wrap. I save her the trouble and wrap our own, but I have to do a very good job because they will be scrutinized. I think I did pretty well this year, despite this really terrible photo.

As a gift this year my dad bought me this kiln from a public surplus auction. I'm super excited! I need to get my garage rewired (that, or unplug my dryer, it's a 220 volt) and get the kiln serviced. Then I'm going to crank that baby into action! Finally a use for my ceramics degree...

For my sisters this year I got together with my Grandmothers and collected the family recipes we grew up with and love. I spent hours reading recipes my Great-Grandmothers had hand written, and typed them up with little stories and anecdotes that my Grandmothers added in. I ran out of time and couldn't type everything they sent me. It ended up being 108 pages total. I put it in some nice 3-ring binders so we can add more in the future. I really hope my sisters like them.

I also found this hysterical item with a bad translation on it. Husband and I laughed until we cried. So naturally I bought it for my friend that owns the barn. I think it's a piggy bank? Minus the piggy.

Oh! Husband ordered a new printer/scanner for us! Our current scanner is broken (printer too, for that matter) and so soon I'll be able to scan in some comics! We plan to use our current printer for target practice when the new one comes in, this one is awful.

How about you? What did you get for Christmas? Do you have trouble trying to maintain appearances around Christmas for your family or in-laws?

Thursday, December 4, 2014

So Many Things to Do!

Oh man, I think I've allowed my mouth to overload my back.

I have committed to so many things! This week I have two orchestra rehearsals (which take almost 4 hours each if you include the drive time), I'm in two concerts on Sunday between which there is a party and I need to make a food to take. I'm helping the engineers make African decorations for an event at their office, I need to make several dog sweaters for a fund raiser auction on Sunday, tonight is Home Brew Club, and I'm entered in a baking contest on Tuesday.

Whew! Want to come over and help?

My husband is an engineer. I call him and his coworkers, who are my friends, "the engineers" because I'm a creative namer like that. I like crafting with the engineers. It's really fun showing them different techniques. Some of them have some pretty nice art skills hidden under all that analytical thinking!

It somehow came about that they are in charge of decorating for an African themed party at their office and I have been recruited for my technical skills. We're trying to make African masks for the event. It's been a struggle creatively because of an extremely tight budget, but I'm pretty proud of what we've come up with. I really hope this isn't a mockery of someone's culture! They have such vibrant symbolism and structure to their art, I hope we can portray some of that culture in our low budget, Hobby Lobby crafting. Here's an in progress picture of one of the African masks we sculpted out of clay:

On Saturday some of the ladies from my string ensemble might be coming over to work on our crafts for the auction. The Christmas auction is a great fundraiser and it's mostly home made crafts. Last year I donated horse lessons. They sold, but no one ever called me? Strange. Who would spend lots of money on horse lessons and then never claim them? This year I'm going to make some fleece dog sweaters. I made one for my big girl, Sato, last year and she loves it! She gets chilly in the cold because of her thyroid problem, but most stores don't stock sweaters big enough for her (and if they do they are very expensive). Here's a picture of Sato wearing her sweater:

I got really lucky, the fleece at the fabric store was 50% off when I went. I bought a few different patterns:

I am ready to have all these projects out of the way! The Thanksgiving break was nice, but I didn't accomplish very much while I was out of town.

Have you ever over committed yourself? What sorts of things did you have to do?

Friday, November 21, 2014

Oh Sickness!

Hey! Sorry it's been a while (two weeks *cough*) since I posted. I got so sick! I was sick for an entire week, Saturday to Saturday. Bleh!

It wasn't the flu though, thank goodness, just some kind of upper respiratory junk.

Here's a quick sketch I drew that illustrates pretty much the entire week:

My husband got sick too, but his only lasted two days. Have you ever heard that saying about "the fool never catches a cold"? As in, he's sick but won't admit it because he's convinced he's not? Yeah, my husband is one of those. So even though he said it only lasted two days I have my doubts...

While I was busy sitting around doing nothing but feeling sorry for myself I ended up watching a lot of travel channel. I love travel channel! I like the food shows especially. Well, husband and I sat around an entire day watching nothing but travel channel food shows. When it came time to eat neither of us wanted to cook (both being sick) and he said that after watching all those delicious food shows he couldn't bear to order pizza.

So we hauled our sick butts out of the house (much to the dismay of germiphobes) and ambled over to china town for some more authentic food.

We decided to try this new restaurant that had just opened and so we limped on in. The place was more authentic than many and the servers struggled with their English. I had interest in a bean curd dish because I love tofu, but between the waitress' struggled English, my 100% lack of Chinese, and a menu that was half in Chinese, this is what came out:

Some kind of garlicky greens dish, hahaha. My husband's order was correct luckily, so between his stew and my garlicky veggies we had a fairly healthy and lowish calorie meal. It was a pretty successful adventure.

I have to admit that also part of my absence has been because of having to catch up on other stuff after being sick.

What do you do when you're sick to feel better?

Friday, November 7, 2014

Cheating Low Calorie CauliFried Rice

I love food!

The problem with that being, of course, that in recent years it has been sticking around a little too long. I'm starting to wear my pasta, if you know what I mean.

Husband and I have been on a diet for a few months now and we're starting to show progress, but I look at delicious recipes online and have a hard time staying true. Or rather, I have a hard time continuing to cook diet food. So many times I cook something low calorie and think "this is a bit flavorless, a little butter oughta fix it right up!"

Incidentally, whoever said "Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels" has never tried French food, hahaha. They love their butter.

Anyway, I've been reading about this trend using cauliflower rice and decided to try it. I figured a good way to mask that cauliflower flavor for my husband would be to douse it in soy sauce, ginger, and garlic.

It really looks convincing though, I gotta say!

(And yes, I used a filter because my phone takes awful photos, and my super nice camera is acting up this week...)

Ingredients I used:

20 oz Cauliflower, lightly steamed (not too mushy, it still needs to hold its shape)
2/3 cup Frozen Peas and Carrots
3 Eggs
10 oz Chicken Breast, sliced (or tofu would be superb too, would have done that had husband not been an involved party)

Soy sauce, ground pepper, minced garlic, and minced ginger to taste.

I was good this time and used an olive oil spray to coat my pan lightly. I cooked my chicken first and while that was browning I riced my cauliflower. I have no experience in this at all, but I just dumped the cauliflower in my blender for a few seconds until it had a "ricey" texture.

(Terrible photo number two, sorry! I also have black counter tops, which didn't cheer up this already sad photo any, ha!)

Then I scrambled my eggs and dumped in the caulirice and veggies. Stirred it around a bit, flavored to taste and called it good. Tada!

I'm no gourmet chef, so this wouldn't win any prizes. But it was pretty good and husband even enjoyed it! The nice thing is you can add whatever you like to it, and the whole process only took about 30 minutes. I bet you can come up with something a bit more complex than mine, I just wanted to share the idea.

How many calories, you ask? I counted it to be 1,010 for the whole pan (it'll vary depending on your seasonings, oils, and meats, of course) which made it barely over 500 for half of the pan. Husband and I each got half of the pan and neither of us finished it, it was a lot of food!

What kind of ingredients do you like in fried rice?

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

5 Health Reasons to Drink Wine

What? Health reasons to drink wine? Heck yeah, those are studies I can stand behind. To prove that this information is legitimate and I'm not just making it up for my own benefit (*cough* I would never invent information to allow me to drink more *cough*) I will include links to Harvard Health articles. I read several articles to pick my 5 reasons, but I will include just one link on each.

As a side note, these statistics only apply to a "moderate" amount. A "moderate" amount is defined as one glass a day. I know the word "moderate" is pretty relative, so I thought I should specify... Drinking more than a moderate amount frequently (i.e. 2-3 glasses a day) can increase your risks for many negative health situations.

1) Drinking red wine can reduce your risk of stroke. Drinking moderate amounts of alcohol can prevent blood from clotting. Red wine is the best choice because of a chemical in it called Resveratrol which is being studied as a possible supplement choice for protecting your brain.

2) Drinking red wine can increase your "good" cholesterol and lower your blood pressure. Red wine is full of antioxidants which have beneficial effects on our body systems. This article I chose does praise red wine briefly for it's aid, but apparently touts the huge benefits of non alcoholic red wine. I've never heard of that, wouldn't it just be grape juice? I might have to look into this red wine substitute further.

3) Drinking wine can decrease your risk for coronary disease. Between numbers one and two above wine does a pretty good job of reducing heart disease. Recent research has shown that other alcohols may also be beneficial, but many scientists still put red wine at the top followed by white wine.

4) Wine promotes improved longevity. This is just a fancy way of saying it prevents several types of early deaths. Mostly heart related deaths such as heart attack. In theory by preventing early deaths you should be able to live longer.

5) Drinking wine can help prevent prostate cancer. Okay, this one isn't really for women, but it's hard work keeping our men healthy and happy. This is a good way to keep them both healthy and happy. My husband prefers this one over the cruciferous veggies I force down him, ha!

Well that's that. For the benefit of science and fairness I will also address one fairly big negative for women so you won't have rosé colored wine glasses (haha, you get it?)

Drinking moderately any type of alcohol can raise the risk of breast and colon cancer. This is a pretty important thing to point out. In order for you to determine how much you should drink for health reasons you should probably consider your family history and also consult the articles below.

Also, I must say this: If you value your longevity at all do not get behind the wheel after drinking. There you go, full disclosure.

I wish wine could be a magical cure for many ails, but I guess it's too good to be true *sigh*. I plan to continue to enjoy moderate amounts of wine! Speaking of which, do you ever cook with wine? I do sometimes, but it turns into a game of "a cup for the pan, a cup for me, a cup for the pan..."

What about you? Do you like the occasional glass of wine? What is your favorite? Do you worry about health risks?

Monday, November 3, 2014

Husbands and Healthy Foods

I don't know if you have the same problem I do with my husband and healthy foods but boy is it hard to work with!

I have to give husband credit though, he's much better than he was.  At least now he'll eat a side of broccoli or green beans if it's well seasoned. Used to be if he saw a veggie in what I was cooking he'd be upset and convinced the veggie flavor ruined the meal. When we ordered sushi rolls he'd take his chopstick and poke out the cucumbers. He would order crunchy tacos, remove the cheese and set it aside, remove every speck of lettuce, and then put the cheese back on.

Ah how I don't miss those fettuccine alfredo, meat lover pizza, and fried chicken days.

Don't get me wrong, I love fried chicken, but when you only eat that with a side of mashed potatoes it goes straight to your hips.

What changed? Well his pant size for one thing, that made a huge difference. When all that cheese started hanging around he became more open for lower calorie foods. At first I had to "hide" the veggies for him but we have worked from there constantly.

The main problem was onions. He was 100% convinced that he HATED onions. If he saw me add onions or saw them in the pot he'd instantly hate whatever it was I was cooking. I started having to chop the onions up really small when he wasn't looking and dump them in. Then I'd increase the ventilation so he couldn't smell them. Many days went like this:

What about you? What foods do your husband or children dislike? How do you work around it?