Monday, December 11, 2023

December festivities, fruitcake and yard project

December is here and with it some cooler weather, beautiful sunny days and temps in the low to mid-60's. Just perfect weather for addressing a glaring issue with our xeriscape yard, particularly the side yard. 

After almost 10 years, and with minimal maintenance beyond pulling up a weed or 2 and picking up palm tree fronds/debris it's beginning to look a lot shabbier than I like. I need to take it all the way down to the landscape fabric, parse out the dirt and leaf litter then rinse the mud off the rocks before putting them back in place. Rinse & Repeat! I actually find it very soothing and zen-like sitting there (outside! πŸ˜Š) picking out the rocks from the dirt - am I nutz? I'm sure some of my neighbors think so, although the finished product is causing them to re-evaluate the time I'm  spending. For my part, as a perfectionist, it's instant gratification, which leads to a dopamine hit or 10, Haha. I'm very thankful to have a handy "reheat" to serve for dinner after spending the day rocking it.

I'm making good headway and when finished, a leaf blower used
with some regularity should keep it looking neat and tidy for
another 10 years (or well into my dotage I hope).

One of my neighborhood ladies organized a Christmas Cookie Exchange for our small 100+ neighborhood. I had never participated in one and didn't know what to expect. What a great time, about 16+ ladies came laden with yummy baked goods to share. Our hostess provided us each with a pretty take-home tray and let us have at it. We each made a trip around the table and picked out a few from each plate, and then again etc until we were filled to the brim with tasty goodies to take home. She also had hot cider, decaf coffee and wine, plus a sumptuous charcuterie array. It was so nice to see everyone and get caught up on things.

The hostess with the "mostest" and her tray.

Next year the extra leaf goes in the table!

What a great group of lady neighbors I've got!

These treats have made our hot tea after dinner indulgence special. Put me down for attending next year, lol.

On the cooking front around here I perfected a recipe for Ginger Snaps that we both love. Super easy, both the raw dough and the baked cookies freeze well. Here's the link to the recipe on The only changes I made was to double the spices and add finely chopped candied ginger and chopped pecans. I think these are our new favorites. I also was under the gun to get the fruitcake made so it would have a few weeks to mellow.

 And on the puzzling front I finished up Pickle Lake, one of my favorites.

Thanks for stopping by and come back again soon. In the meantime, enjoy the Holiday season in all it's glory. A Savior is Born.

Saturday, December 2, 2023

Final Fall Happenings, Craft Fair & Food

 Seems like I haven't been much in the mood to write a blog post lately - too busy for the most part.  What's been going on you ask?

My friend & neighbor invited me to share her booth at a Women's Club Christmas craft fair. Since I pretty much had booth set-up stuff and plenty of inventory I figured I'd stick a toe in, with the added benefit of actually attending a fair (it has been so long - covid and crowds πŸ˜₯). This promised to be a smaller affair and as it was happening on Veteran's Day, with competition from parades and other activities, I figured it wouldn't be too big of a madhouse. It wasn't bad at all. Not a ton of traffic and most people wanted Christmas crafts and doodads, so my trivets and jewelry didn't stand much of a chance. I did sell a trivet - one, lol. Here's a few shots of some of the booths. Lots of impressive stuff.

This lady works on her stuff all year getting ready for show.

My "little corner" πŸ˜Š

This lady has some beautiful Christmas florals in hand
made and hand painted wooden boxes. So neat!

Debby's offerings - she did pretty well

These pretties made me wish I got dressed-up still.

So that was a fun way to spend the day. And it was educational too, meaning I won't be doing craft fairs or bothering to put much effort into "selling" my goodies. I do get some business through word of mouth and that is enough. I've also read some not-so-good reports on some of the changes to the Etsy platform, so I'm not going to go there either. OK then.

We did a full-fledged Thanksgiving dinner cooking the 14# turkey I got for "free" from BJ's, and making a big pile of dressing & gravy. We have plenty of future dinners in the bag - including Christmas dinner. "Gasp! You're doing leftovers for Christmas??" You betcha!

Turkey from year to year look pretty much the same. so
since I forgot to take a pic this year...LOL!

Hey, I got into the pot pie mode the other day, and boy were we glad. So tasty and the other 3/4's of the pie makes for 3 easy re-heatable meals. This one was Tex-Mex chicken and it came out tasty.

Reheat covered, in a low oven (225°F)

I also got the burrito machine up an running - chicken, black bean and peppers for this first go round. Can you tell that chicken quarters have been on sale lately? 

Wrapped and ready to go into the freezer. Reheat in a covered
frying pan with salsa verde and sharp cheddar plus Mexican rice.

I had a great catch-up gabfest lunch at TGIF's with my friend Nancy. Our last lunch was back in the spring so we had a lot to say, haha. She's doing great and looks wonderful - staying busy too.

I'm working on a big outdoor project and that's taking up a lot of time. I won't cover that today but hopefully in the next post.

And I finally pulled out a puzzle and have started enjoying that pastime again.

Y'all have fun, Happy -belated- Thanksgiving, and thanks for stopping by.

Tuesday, October 31, 2023

Days go by and the Boss cooks dinner

Time flies when you're ~ (fill in the blank).

It's that crisp fall-like air that puts me in the mood to bake, and since it's too early for fruitcake it's time to get out the pumpkin loaf mix. This mix is so perfectly spiced - very mellow but flavorful and nicely moist. We add chopped pecans when we bake it.

It's a bit spendy at ~ $6/box but makes 2 loafs. I got it at Walmart.

Also on the cooking front, Ed tried his hand at a couple of new recipes he saw that peaked his interest; a Spinach Chicken Casserole with Sundried Tomatoes, Cream Cheese and Mozzarella, and Garlic Parmesan Sweet Potatoes as the side. He didn't need any significant help, other than where certain spices were or where to find the baking pans. It all baked @ 400° for around 30 minutes or so.  Wow! So delicious, and such a treat to try something new. It's definitely going into the rotation.

He used chicken breast cutlets and made a half recipe.

Here's a link to the Chicken recipe if you want to give it a shot - so yummy! πŸ‘πŸ˜‹ (Of course, their picture of the finished dish is picture perfect, haha).

Spinach Chicken Casserole (site is

We got the pontoon boat splashed and the Boss has made a few rounds on it. Our lake is only 9 acres but still a fun paddle and can be strenuous.

Pontoon boat ready to go

Heading upwind for the exercise, then an easy paddle back.

I've been playing around with my wire wrapping jewelry this week. All summer I was without my supplies, so I was excited to try my hand at it again. Here are a couple of pendants I made - I'm happy with them!

Ruby Zoisite with Jade beads on the left,
and a Rhodochrosite with Copper beads.

Amazonite on the left with Copper & Jade beads
and on the right Rainbow Sea Sediment Jasper & Copper beads.

A couple of days ago, my friend Liz up in Rustic sent me a message announcing the first snowfall of the year. She was nice enough to send a few pics too, plus one from our Reolink camera.

Brrr, prettier on the earlier shot with a bit of sunlight on it, more foreboding later in the day.  I guess a lot of folks are getting some of the white stuff this week, part and parcel with the season.

Well, one last shot to close out this post - a hearty smoked sausage, cabbage and veggie stew. Perfect with some broiled garlic/herb toast.

We love these stews, and they made for an easy meal.

Thanks for dropping by, and be sure to check back in a while.

Sunday, October 22, 2023

Typical Fall doings, cooking, fabric fun, and football

 We've been home now for a few weeks and have been getting back into the groove around here by doing some cleaning and shopping, plus having some good chit-chats with my neighbors.

I have also been adding to my trivet "tubie" stash, as if I needed to - on the way back home I occupied myself in the passenger's seat by stuffing polyfill into empty "tubies". Boy, did I end up with a pile, in fact, I actually bought more polyfill during the trip, lol! The Boss likes to handle the driving and I think he found that having my hands occupied shut me up quite nicely - win/win. πŸ˜‚

Getting plenty of supplies ready for football season.

I'm also restocking the freezer with easy meals & sides, plus all my "timesavers"; sauces, salsas, stock, raw chopped veggies like onions, peppers plus sauteed mushrooms. I keep my buttermilk frozen in 1 cup batches, it thaws easily and works great for cornbread. I save a lot of time and money by storing this stuff in the freezer instead of letting it moulder in the fridge.

One of the first things I did was prepare and fry up a ton of meatballs, like maybe 75?!  One of the most well-liked meals around here is spaghetti & meatballs, probably the Boss's favorite, so I wanted to get a big batch of that made up. When I portion it up for the freezer I put 12 meatballs and an adequate amount of sauce into each container. This gives us 2 meals of 3 meatballs each, hey, 2 no-brainer meals, I love it! πŸ˜ Here's what the ingredients look like before final prep.

Now that's going to be a *bunch* of sauce!

Meanwhile, the Boss has been getting the pontoon boat parts out and prepped for assembly. He's looking forward to getting some lazy rowing in on the lake.

A few more bits and bobs and it'll be ready to launch.

We had one of our stunner sunrises this morning. These really strut their stuff during the cooler fall/winter weather. They don't last long - maybe 10 minutes max, but boy, what a show.

This started out deep reddish-pink, but had progressed
to yellow as the sun is just getting ready to poke up.

Last night I made pizza to enjoy during the (recorded) Tennessee - Alabama game - Roll Tide! A bit of a slow start but they got it done. It's a deluxe with pepperoni, italian sausage, mushrooms, onions, bell pepper, black olives, capers and 2 kinds of cheese. The shot was taken before the top layer of cheese was added. YUM!

One dinner and a couple of lunches for sure.

Storage for my trivets can be a problem. I like to look at them before they get sold and go away, so putting them in a box just doesn't work for me. I set up a mounting system on one of my craft room walls. I used an aluminum flat tie with 3 rows of chain and shower curtain hooks and it works great. I'll show you.

Well, that's about it for now. Thanks for stopping by, and I hope you have a great day! See you next time. πŸ˜Ž

Monday, October 9, 2023

Wrap-up at Rocky, trip home

With the end of summer closing in fast it was time to think about making winter preps to Rocky and picking out a weather window for a safe, smooth trip back home. The Boss started checking out the forecast and planning the route and I researched some likely overnight stops based upon his suggestions.

Since the wanderlust bug hits my sweetie especially hard while out west, I always try to encourage him to take a solo trek for a few nights or so. That way he can enjoy the roads less well travelled while I have a few days to myself. I'm not especially anxious to ride around right before the 1900 mile trek back home, and so he took off for points northwest, namely the Tetons, Yellowstone (just a bit) and Montana. I'll put a few pics together for that and do a side post sometime.

He complains about the picture quality provided by
his cellphone but this looks pretty beautiful to me!

I love being by myself for those deep-cleaning projects that require my undivided attention. Rugs, floors, windows, organizing and culling clothes and dishware, it's all cathartic and fun (believe it or not πŸ˜Š). 

While not cleaning or streaming a show, I checked out the bunnies and turkeys that wander through the park and spent quite a bit of time chit-chatting with Liz, my neighbor, over the fence. So great to have such super, super nice friends out here! πŸ˜ She was so thoughtful, she surprised me bigtime with a wonderful gift and card for my birthday, (it was a big one too, a decade-buster). A cool Tervis mug with handle, great for arthritic hands, and a triple bundt cake assortment - Liz you're too much, thanks for making it memorable!

Wonderful surprise gift

Anyway, I made several trivets while the Boss was gone, (you need something to do when you're sitting around by yourself). Too many to include but here's a collage of a few.

All in all, I think I made a half a dozen or seven! It was fun.

After he got back and rested up for a few days, we got everything all buttoned up with Rocky and spent the night in Cheyenne for easy access the next day to I80. We stopped in Nebraska City, NE for another night at Lied Lodge, primarily for a special birthday dinner in their restaurant 'Timbers', and special it was. I had a beautiful, melt-in-your-mouth filet mignon and he had a well-seasoned pork fillet (which was to die for), and our evening in their lovely dining room was a quiet affair and very much appreciated.

Image of Timbers @ Lied Lodge (google)

As we head east there's lots of cotton ready for harvesting (as far as the eye can see in some places.)

After another routine night along the way in Missouri we were headed for a 2-night stay at the Pickwick Landing State Park Inn in Tennessee. Talk about a fancy-pants place! I guess it's a popular venue for various conferences. 

Lobby/reception area heading towards the restaurant

The view onto the Tennessee waterway @ Pickwick Landing
(my water-baby getting his fix).

We enjoyed our stay there and spent time touring the Shiloh Battlefield/Museum and the Tennessee River Museum in Savannah, TN. Both were very interesting and the battle story was poignant, brave and sad all at the same time. 

The Battlefield Museum had a film that chronicled the events, the strategies and the eventual losses by both sides - more than 23 thousand died.

The little town of Savannah was neat & tidy with some grand old homes and a nice town square. They were getting the fall decorations set up.

Our next stop was in Pine Mountain, Georgia at the Mountain Top Inn and Resort. It's just down the road from Callaway Gardens and the Warm Springs Winery, plus FDR's Little White House and hiking. Of course, we were simply overnighting there so we didn't get a real feel for the area. As you can see is wasn't the prettiest of days either.

Heading up the mountain we stopped at an overlook area.

The last stretch home was down through central Georgia and north-central FL and boy, did we see a lot of wind damage (from the hurricane) along the interstate. Lots of trees down and work crews out and about.

Taken out the car window as we flew by.

We made it home safely, and enjoyed factoring in the extra day for a brief relax along the way.  Everything was all squared away at home and now the general cleaning, organizing and stocking up is cranking up to high gear. 

Thanks for dropping by and see you next time.

Wednesday, September 6, 2023

Glen Echo, sweet treats, needle nonsense & fall approaches

As the weather gets cooler (37° this morning) and the season draws to a close, I was thinking about how much we like Glen Echo on a lot of levels. We are pretty solitary people in general but have to admit it is pleasant to have "occasional" neighbors to visit with and also, to have the appeal of well-maintained seasonal yards. Many highly transient RV parks don't have nearly the curb appeal that a well run park has and I for one appreciate the effort my neighbors put into the grass and flowers in their sites. 

Some people might be bothered by the trailer park nature of this park but I have seen plenty of grubby, junky parks with zero appeal. In addition there are plenty of transient sites available so we get to see other people's rigs/toys as they come for a stay. Add to that propane refills on site, a great laundry facility, a store and both a restaurant and pub and it's a winner in our books. Here are a few shots of the neighborhood on a sunny morning. Sure makes for a pleasant walk in the mornings.

A few sites have built decks/patios

These people are investing in a beautiful selection
of cold hardy perennials to upgrade their yard. 

After spending 5 summers out here and thoroughly enjoying them, we will continue the pattern next year, God willing.

Onto other subjects, namely crapification - GRRRR! πŸ˜’Color me unamused - *sigh*

Way back in the mid to late 2010's I started making trivets while aboard Dreamtime. I purchased a pack of Dritz Cotton Darner needles and used them with gusto for many moons. Sewing through the many swirls of poly-filled tubies  requires putting some "english" on the needle and thread to get it through where I want it to go (I have to use needle nose pliers to help). So, some 10 trivets into this season out here (using the same needle I'd been using all winter at home), the needle's eye started to go and eventually was unusable. I considered it a worthy life's service from 1 needle, and not to worry, I had recently purchased another pack of the Dritz needles at Joann's - good to go so you'd think. Not!! After 2 trivets the new needle not only developed a burr on the tip but also a bend.

(excerpted from another blog)

"Are you familiar with the term crapification?  It refers to the gradual, inexorable reduction in quality of manufactured goods over the last few decades.  Remember the toaster oven you owned for twenty-five years and replaced with one made by the same company (or so it seemed) that lasted six months?  That's crapification."

Getting tired of crapification. The original needles were produced in the Czech Republic, the new ones in Malaysia. I guess I'll just have to treat them as semi-disposable now. Thanks for letting me rant! πŸ˜Š

Hey, on the food front, I tried a new way to cook ribs that is really easy - dry-rubbing them, saucing them up some, wrapping in foil then using the crockpot (on low for ~3 hours) to get them pre-cooked and tenderized, (be sure to put about 1 cup water in the bottom of the crockpot) and then, finally, saucing them up some more and putting them on the Ninja Grill for a bit of a broil/grill. They come out so good!

We work with a half rack at a time. Cut the half in half
and run with it. Save those juices in the foil to flavor
your next batch of pinto beans.

I also got busy and made a batch of our favorite sweet treats, coconut macaroons with chocolate chips and pecans. The Boss doesn't think they meet the definition of the name "cookies" since there is no flour involved, lol. They sure taste good. My oven rack only has one position so it doesn't necessarily cook evenly, hence the brown bottoms on some. Still excellent with a cup of hot tea after dinner.

Here we are mid-way through - got about 4-5 dozen.

And finally, for the fabric hounds out there, I picked up a few fabrics at Joann's, one pretty batik multi, 2 mottled basics for blending and a Christmas print.

The red & blue blend well with other more highly patterned fabrics

And a few new trivets for your enjoyment, followed by one of my pretty hanging baskets. Thanks for visiting and come back again sometime. Please feel free to leave a comment!

Pretty weird and pretty bright.

Awfully pretty petunias - so hardy and carefree maintenance