Sunday, July 05, 2020

Independence Day 2020; Different...But Still Free

The Fourth of July holiday looked a little different for everyone this year; for some, that may have been a good thing, for others, maybe not so much. For us, it looked similar to years past, if on a slightly different scale.

We didn't take the boat out. We didn't meet up with Jana and Co. We didn't host a big BBQ or entertain friends on the porch, although, I did do that Friday night, when The Lesbians came over for Limoncellos and a charcutterie board, followed by their introduction to our Colorado fireflies, whose existence they heartily disbelieved in, until they saw them.

We did relax a bit. We slept in. We made a picnic. And, we took the new paddle boards to the lake in Pixler for their maiden voyage.

Queen B, who was in a wedding in Mayberry on Friday night, was unable to go with us, but, the Man-Cub, Hugh, and I tore it up. Tore it up being a statement relative mostly to the Cub, who has his sea legs, thanks to all the time he spends on floating devices in Hawaii. Hugh and I? Not so much. But! We did it! And, I take a small wicked pleasure in bragging about not being the first to lose their balance and go ass over tea kettle into the lake (although, in the interest of full disclosure, I wasn't far behind Hugh).

Paddle boarding is a great workout. Guess who hasn't worked out in mumble mumble FOREVER mumble mumble?

That would be this girl.

And, it shows. These pictures are clear evidence that it is past time for me to get back into the gym. The fact that last week's hours-long ATV ride left me writhing in pain all week (including back spasms this weekend) should have been my first clue, but, yeah; these pictures confirm it.

Anyhoodle, my impersonation of a sea cow aside, it was a nice way to spend the afternoon. We packed up when the wind picked up and the skies threatened rain, went home for showers and dinner, and then drove back to Pixler to take in the only fireworks show in the valley. It was a decent show, my only complaint would be this reminder of the Covid-19 virus...

...I mean, that really looks a lot like it amiright?

I'm right.

Otherwise, great show, second only to the amazing effort put forth by the neighborhood in which we parked to watch; those folks had clearly invested some major cash in illegal fireworks and they weren't afraid to use them, despite police presence on pretty much every street corner.

Today, I am planning to relax a bit more before heading back to New Job tomorrow; the week ahead is going to Suck, with a capital S and I'd like to put off thinking about it for as long as humanly possible. I think I will accomplish that with a good book and a bowl of homemade ice cream on the porch.

Or, I could get my lazy ass in the gym (scrolls up to the pictures on this post)...yeah...probably the gym.

Saturday, July 04, 2020

Recipes From The Porch: Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream

Chocolate chip cookies are the most American dessert, next to apple pie, amiright?

I'm right.

Chocolate chip cookie dough, on its own, raw and straight out of the bowl, is a forbidden treat; denied to children the country over due to the fear of food poisoning from the raw egg included in the recipe. Or, it was until Ben & Jerry came up with a safe alternative and began putting it in their ice cream.

Knowing the appeal of straight cookie dough, they also started selling it by the bag, which, makes it super easy for me to whip up my own homemade version of their famous ice cream. The recipe is simple, the process a breeze, and, the result, delicious.

I use an old Rival ice cream machine, which I have had since the kids were tiny. I assume this recipe would also work in one of those new, fancy-schmancy electric machines, but don't quote me on that.

You will also need a small bag of ice and some rock salt. Several hours prior to making the ice cream, throw the container from the machine and your mixing bowl into the freezer; the colder they are when you start the mixing process, the quicker the ice cream will churn, making it smoother and less crystally (made up word! Go, Chelle!).

The ingredients:

2 cups whole milk (I used 2%, because that is what we have on hand and I'm too lazy to go to the store)
2 cups heavy whipping cream (I threw in an additional 1/4 cup to make up for the lost fat in my milk)
1 cup sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
1 package of Ben & Jerry's Cookie Dough chunks**

The process:

In your chilled bowl, whisk together all ingredients except for the cookie dough chunks. Pour into chilled container from the ice cream machine. Place container in machine, pour ice around the sides of the container, about three-quarters full. Sprinkle rock salt over ice. Plug in the machine and let ice cream churn until machine stops, or, until you get nervous because it hasn't stopped (about an hour), at which point you can unplug the machine and check the progress of the ice cream.

Once the ice cream is churned to your liking, remove the container from the machine and stir in the cookie dough pellets. Pour ice cream into a freezer-safe container and freeze until firm.

**If your local supermarket doesn't carry Ben & Jerry's cookie dough chunks, this recipe can be substituted, easy peasy.

Monday, June 29, 2020

When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Head for the Hills

Or, so it would appear, if my Facebook feed is any indication. Apparently, quite a few of my friends have recently purchased outdoor recreational items, including ATVs, RVs, tents, campers, etc., and, they are taking to the mountains to enjoy them.

We are likewise guilty, although, we already owned our equipment (except for the new paddle boards that Hugh just bought, but, that's a story for another day).

Yesterday, we took The Lesbians to the mountains on their first four-wheeling excursion on their new machine, and, they did great! Hugh taught them how to trailer the ATV, how to properly strap it down, and how to navigate various mountain trails. They were quick learners and Hugh is confident that they are ready to fly solo. Not that we recommend that (you really shouldn't head for the hills alone; there is safety in numbers, so, we also included Hugh's friend, Fleet and his daughter, Stormy in our group).

The day was tons of fun! We got super filthy, picked up a number of cactus hitchhikers, and generally just enjoyed being as far from civilization as we could be (while still being able to catch cell service on occasion because, as always, I was on-call for work. That's really getting old, by the way).

By the time we rolled the four-wheelers back onto the trailer, we were all exhausted and ready for hot showers, so we parted with plans to repeat the experience again another day, soon. Probably over the upcoming holiday weekend; wouldn't surprise me at all. After all, there are no celebrations scheduled for the Fourth; they've all been cancelled.

Might as well head for the hills.

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Friday Favorites on a Saturday Because Time Means Nothing in the Age of Covid-19

I meant to post this yesterday. And, by that, I mean; I meant to write it yesterday, you know, on Friday. But, as the title of this post would indicate, Friday is really just another Thursday, or, possible a Wednesday. Hey! Could be a Saturday, which, today it is. Make sense? About as much sense as anything else makes these days, amiright?

I'm right.

Anyhoodle, here are the things currently floating my boat.

When Mom and I were shopping at the Hellmouth earlier this week, I picked up what I thought was the monthly edition of The Food Network magazine. Imagine my surprise when I got up to the register and it rang up at $12.99, that's...not how much the magazine usually costs.

Like an idiot, I had picked up one of the special edition magazine-style cookbooks that the publishers put out each season. Now, was I about to admit that mistake to the cashier, who was patiently waiting for me to pay while a socially-distanced line of shoppers behind me waited less than patiently? No, no I was not. So, I now have an incredibly expensive magazine from which I am determined to attempt every recipe not involving seafood.

Seafood is not, has not, nor will ever be, a favorite.

I planted two hydrangeas last year and both are coming back. One is blue and the other is light green, and, while neither has bloomed yet, I am crossing my fingers and hoping that they will. In the meanwhile, I went ahead and purchased two more to go along with the hot pink one that Hugh and the kids got me for Mother's Day, which means I now have a total of five.

Math, another thing that is not, has not, nor will ever be, a favorite. And, I digress...

... the new hydrangeas are white and purple, respectively. Hugh is going to get them planted at some point this weekend.

While searching for Mediterranean recipes for this week's summer potluck (which ended up not happening because Mama Jill, who was supposed to host got whisked away on a surprise weekend trip to Moab by her husband, who could have told us that was his plan but, apparently doesn't trust us to keep a secret. I'm hurt. And, digressing, again), I found a recipe for Limoncello spritzers, which, are Mediterranean because Limoncello originated on the Amalfi coast of Italy, which, is on the Mediterranean Sea.

Geography, while not a favorite, still beats math. Just sayin'.

I'm going to make the spritzers tomorrow night, when we get back from four-wheeling with The Lesbians (side note: they still insist on being referred to that way on this blog, and  I cringe every time. Obviously not because I judge their relationship but; because I worry that, without top billing, my other lesbian friends will feel less loved. It's a quandry).

Last night, the sunset from the porch was amazing

Taking in God's artwork is, has always been, and will always be, a favorite. 

For sure.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

What's Up Wednesday June 2020 Edition

Soooo...Summer 2020.... anyone else not feeling it yet? Just me? Ok, moving along then...time for another edition of What's Up Wednesday with Sheaffer and Shay.

What We're Eating

A more accurate question is what aren't we eating? Since my Mom has been visiting from Mayberry, we have eaten like kings and queens. She's made the Man-Cub's favorite tuna noodle casserole, chicken enchiladas to die for, and a smores cake so rich, it makes my teeth ache just thinking about it.

We've also dined on Chinese takeout, grilled a feast that included baby bell peppers stuffed with goat cheese, and, ventured into not one, but two restaurants; one for breakfast and one to celebrate Oscar and Emily's anniversary.

To top it off, I made homemade ice cream, which I hadn't done in quite some time. I had forgotten how easy it is to make and, now; I'm plotting the next flavor that I want to make. Hugh's vote is for strawberry and I have some ideas about that.

What I'm Reminiscing About

Honestly? I'm reminiscing about the days when I was a brunette. I miss those days. Blond is definitely helping to prepare me for the inevitable day when my gray completely takes over, but, man, letting go of my natural color has been a hard transition on me, mentally.



What I'm Loving

I really am loving having my Mom here. She arrived almost two weeks ago and I will be really sorry to see her go later this week. Covid was not kind to any of our mental health; being together has been the cure.

What We've Been Up To

Since Mom got here, we have hosted two Porch Nights, attended a bridal shower, invited Oscar and Emily over for dinner, cooked, baked, had pedicures, relaxed on the porch, and watched a ton of Hallmark Channel movies. She's enjoyed it. I've enjoyed it. Hugh and the kids have enjoyed it. In short, having Mom here has been great.

What I'm Working On

I finally got to do the cap and gown session that I promised a friend I would do for her daughter's High School graduation months ago. The pictures turned out great! Graduation may not have been exactly how she envisioned it, but at least she made the most of it.

What I'm Dreading

A couple of things. One, Mom leaves this week. Two, next month kicks off reporting season at New Job, which means that I will be writing reports, gathering statistics, uploading data, and generally running myself ragged. We also have a fundraising golf tournament that I get to run, and, I've never run a golf tournament in my life. Good times. I can hardly wait.

What I'm Excited About

Later this evening, Mom, Hugh, and I are going to look at fireflies. Fireflies are a rare occurrence in Colorado, but, we live in a more temperate zone of the state and there exists a small area in which fireflies thrive each summer. We haven't been to see them in years, not since the kids were younger, and I am very much looking forward to showing Mom where they live.

What I'm Watching

I recorded the latest season of What We Do In the Shadows and then binge-watched it in three days. It never fails to crack me up.

I watched the Netflix series Jeffrey Epstein Filthy Rich, despite knowing that it would trigger work-related anxiety for me. No shock; it did. Also not a shock; Epstein was a horrible, horrible excuse for a human being, there are a LOT of men in powerful positions who should be scared-very scared- of the rest of his dirt coming out in the wash, and, his supposed suicide is seriously suspect. Seriously.

The third season of Yellowstone started Sunday and I am here for it. I watched the first episode last night but will allow a few more to pile up on my DVR so that I can binge the season on occasion. 

Also, asking myself What would Beth Dutton Do has become my silent mantra whenever I deal with irritating people. Mostly at work.

What I'm Reading

The joy derived from reading for pleasure continues to elude me. I have purchased several books that I really am looking forward to diving into, but, in my rare moments of free time, I find that I lack the focus required to get through more than a page or two. I constantly reassure myself that this is but a season in my life and that time for reading will come. Someday. Until then, I will continue to amass titles that interest me.

What I'm Listening To

Recently, I had a reading done by a psychic medium whom I know from back home. I knew her as a teenager but hadn't talked to her in years, so I was pretty surprised when circumstances (too weird to get into) brought us together (by phone; she lives in Washington). I had never had a reading done before and it was pretty interesting. I'm a bit of a skeptic, but I have to say; she nailed some stuff that she could not have possibly known, so...there's that.

What I'm Wearing

Remember all of those delicious things that I have been eating? Well, all that food has resulted in bloating the likes of which haven't been seen since Violet Beauregarde greedily chomped away on Willy Wonka's Magic Chewing Gum. So, my wardrobe lately has consisted of anything that doesn't feature a tight waistband. Maxi dresses? Check! Stretch pants? Check! Jumpsuits without belts? Check, check! In this season of my life, comfort is king and I'm not sorry.

What We're Doing This Weekend

Housework is long overdue, so, that should be fun. I should get back to the gym, which will also be a blast, I'm sure. We do have plans on Friday night, when we get together with Mama Jill and Company for the second edition of our Summer Potluck Series. The theme for this week is Mediterranean food, which should be both interesting and delicious.

What I'm Looking Forward to Next Month

Fourth of July fireworks! Oh, wait, those were cancelled. Stampede! Ummm..also cancelled. Lavender Festival? County Fair? You guessed it, cancelled. Sigh. At least they can't cancel boating on the lake. They can't? Right? Please say I'm right.

What Else Is New

I got some new succulents. If you had told me that I would be this into succulents a few years ago, I would have called you a liar. Or, at the very least, seriously misguided. Go figure.