Friday, March 23, 2018

Friday Favorites: Time With My Mom

Mom got into town yesterday and I have already put her to work, helping me with my table for tomorrow's annual Spring Luncheon. She never complains, which makes her my favorite helper, ever.

And, with her help, I had the table finished in record time, which gave me a chance to visit with a couple of my friends, whom I haven't seen much of since resigning from the club earlier this fall. I'll get a chance to see many more old friends tomorrow, which I'm looking forward to, as well as to seeing the rest of the tables and to enjoying whatever entertainment is on the agenda.

Right now, we are enjoying a glass of good Pinot Grigio and watching trashy TV; because we know how to party, I mean, obviously.

Tune in tomorrow, when I regale you with tales from the luncheon,where, something interesting is bound to happen; it always does.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Five Things I Haven't Bitched About, But Totally COULD

1.  Allergy season (running/stuffy nose, itchy, watery eyes, and constant sneezing are soooo attractive).

2.  The time change (when you are already struggling to sleep through the night, thanks to perimenopausal hot-flashes, what's another hour?).

3.  Perimenopausal hot flashes (see above).

4.  Work (insert your own favorite work complaint here and I can guarantee that I probably share it).

5.  The weather (welcome to wonderful bi-polar Colorado!).

One thing that I usually moan and groan about this time of year is the lack of sugar and diet Pepsi in my life, thanks to the sacrifices I usually make for Lent. Well, not this year! Having already given all that crap up back in August, I really didn't have anything to give up for Lent, so, I've just tried to practice being a nicer person, instead.

Trust me, I could totally bitch about trying to be nice in certain situations recently, but, that would bring this list to six, which would totally ruin the title of this post.

Can't have that.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Recipes From the Porch: Skinny Waldorf Salad

Yesterday, I got a wild hair for a dish of Waldorf Salad; I hadn't had one in ages and ages, and, for me, nothing says Spring like a good fruity salad. I'm weird like that.


4-6 apples (depending on size and variety; I used a combination of Red Delicious and Pink Lady)
3-4 stalks of celery
1 cup grapes (green or red, your call)
3/4 cup raisins (or not, again, your call)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (or pecans, if that's your jam)
1/2 cup non-fat Greek yogurt
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 1/2 Tbsp sugar (or honey, if you are feeling it)

Core and chop apples. Slice celery and grapes. Throw together with walnuts and raisins in a large bowl.

Mix yogurt, sugar, and lemon juice in a separate bowl.

Here's the hard part...

...mix the yogurt mixture into the fruit and nut combination.

Yes, that really is the hardest part; this is Waldorf Salad, not brain surgery.

Chill mixture and serve.

Enjoy the smug feeling that comes with knowing that you are enjoying a delicious, sweet treat that is also low in fat and calories and full of fiber. Or, just enjoy it because it is scrumptious.

Either way.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

In Which I am Still Dodging the Plague

Poor Queen B, she's still recovering from her illness, which, was officially diagnosed as the flu. It kicked her ass in a major way which was a super bummer for her because she was on spring break.

Hugh, who probably also had the flu, fared much better, and, despite living with him, I have thus far managed to stay mostly healthy. I say "mostly" because I am experiencing minor sniffles and a coughs, due, I think, to allergies more than anything.

It's my personal belief that I managed to ward off the flu by continuing to eat well and to exercise. I've also jacked up my vitamin C intake dramatically, by drinking orange smoothies three mornings each week and by taking this collagen plus C serum everyday; the collagen is meant to keep my joints healthy and the vitamin C is just a side bonus (I dissolve a tablespoon of the syrup in a cup of cold water and take two tablets of the other collagen with it; and my knuckles thank me for it).

The fact that I had a flu shot at work this fall is probably just coincidental ;)

Oh my god, I just used a winkie face on my blog. Kill me, kill me now.

In other news, I am working on a table for the annual spring luncheon that the women's club that I used to belong to is holding next weekend (run on, sentence! Run on!). I've mentioned the luncheon on the blog before, but, come to think of it, I don't think I've mentioned that I quit the club. So, hey, I quit the club! I feared that my fellow members would co-opt my time as an empty nester (I'd seen it happen) and I took steps to protect myself. But, I've always enjoyed the luncheon, and, when they still had a need for table hostesses well after the deadline for signing up had passed, I offered my services.

The overall theme of the luncheon is Broadway Melody; my table theme is going to be Once, On This Island, which, allows me to use things that I already own, saving me money and time on purchasing new things. I'd never even heard of the play prior to Googling around for an appropriate theme (South Pacific, my first choice, had already been taken), but, it'll do.

I'm planning my table decor around these wine glasses...

...I picked them up on clearance at Pier One back in June, and, I'm really excited about using them.

What else am I excited about, recently? How about the entire Friday Night Lights series on DVD?! I picked up this box set a bit ago, and, am just waiting for enough free time to binge-watch. Hopefully, my schedule will open up enough to do that, soon. Texas, forever!

I'm also excited about the longer days. This year, I haven't experienced the fatigue that generally comes along with the whole "springing forward" thing, I'm not sure why; maybe it's the collagen. Collagen for the win!

I got this book back in February, when the short, dreary days started to kick my ass, and, it pulled me through. So, now I'm excited to plant my summer garden, as well.

In the meantime, I'll be here, fighting off the plague and eating my weight in Irish soda bread because today is St. Paddy's Day and, tomorrow, the luscious loaves of Irish goodness will disappear from the bakery shelves for another whole YEAR  :(

Yep. Sad face. Should have quit while I was ahead.

But, hey! I still don't have the flu!

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

The Plague is Upon Us

At different points in time yesterday, I was FaceTimed by both Mikey and Queen B's boyfriend; each worried about the high fever that the Queen was running and seeking advice.

Mikey FaceTimed from the pharmacy, where he was picking up Tylenol, Motrin, and Vitamin Water for the Queen, and, her boyfriend FaceTimed from her living room, where she was camped out on the couch, shivering and sweating away.

I'm fairly convinced that she is simply fighting off a virus, but, I'm really happy to know that she has a full staff to administer to her every need, including Katie, who, if you'll recall, is going to school to become a nurse.

Meanwhile, back on the ranch, Hugh was feeling equally crappy. He was also slightly feverish (no where near what Queen B was experiencing), stuffed up and achy, which, really messed with his sleep, last night.

Thankfully, he did me a solid and retired to the couch in the living room so that I wouldn't be bothered by his constant tossing, turning, nose-honking, and moaning. I appreciated the thought, because (knock on wood), I am feeling fine and, I really would prefer to keep it that way.

Hopefully, both Hugh and the Queen will get to feeling better really soon. In the meantime, thank goodness for modern pharmaceuticals, good friends, and earplugs (the latter of which I may need tonight, if Hugh's honking continues).

Monday, March 12, 2018

In Which I Am Trusted With Power Tools...Sort Of

Friday evening, BCPE and I attended a workshop at our girlfriends' pallet painting studio. That particular night, the project was a two-and-a-half-foot wooden bunny, which we were tasked with painting, embellishing, and, ultimately, constructing a wooden support upon which the bunny would  stand, upright.

The painting and embellishing part I had, down pat. The construction of the stand? Well, that required some basic tool knowledge that I am apparently lacking. I managed, however.

When I got home, I informed Hugh that I am now an expert in the use of a power drill, having used one for both drilling and screwing. He was slightly less impressed than I had envisioned him being.

Anyhoodle, I now have a new bunny to add to my rapidly growing collection (you know what they say about bunnies); the jury is still out on whether or not I will start a collection of power tools. In the event that I do, I have a pretty good idea of where to find them.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Recipes From the Porch: Irish Soda Bread

Several years ago, while shopping for the corned beef brisket that I was planning to cook for St. Paddy's, I picked up a loaf of soda bread. I had never had it before, but, it had Irish in the title, so I figured it went with the theme of my meal, and, how bad could it be? Bread for the win, I always say.


That bread hooked me, and, I have looked for it every year, since.

This year, I decided to try a couple of other loaves, randomly chosen from the bakery sections of three different stores. I figured I would taste-test them to see if they were different from the original that I had fallen in love with; what I learned in the process was that I am not really a fan of the versions that contain caraway seeds and that I am more of a fan of the slightly sweeter versions. I also have no opinion in the raisins vs. currants debate, and, I prefer a denser loaf to a fluffier one.

With all that in mind, I scoured the Internet for recipes, finding that there really is one basic recipe that can be tweaked depending on individual tastes; this is the version I like best.


4 1/2 cups flour
2 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
4 Tbsp butter*
1 cup raisins or currants (I used raisins because the Hellmouth didn't have currants)
1 large egg, lightly beaten*
1 3/4 cups buttermilk*

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Whisk together flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda.

Add butter. Using hands, gently incorporate the butter into the dry ingredients (I don't have pictures of this step because my hands were coated in butter and flour, I mean, obviously).

Add raisins and gently toss to combine.

Create a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add egg and buttermilk, mix with a wooden spoon** until just combined. Dough will be sticky.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently, forming a disk. Do not over-knead or bread will be tough.

Transfer dough to a lightly greased iron skillet and, using a serrated knife, cut a deep cross into the top of the loaf; according to Irish folklore, this is to let the devil out. Now, where it goes once it's out is up for debate; you may want to have some holy water and a crucifix at the ready. Just sayin'.

Also, if you happen to have a ginger kitty laying around the kitchen, your loaf will be more authentically Irish (My particular ginger kitty has already been possessed by the devil and could give two shits about authenticity in my baking; he was just waiting for me to cut the cross so he could say hello).

Don't mind me; just waiting for levitation and head spinning.

The next step is totally optional, but, since I prefer a slightly sweeter loaf of soda bread, I sprinkle sugar on top of the loaf prior to baking. I'm a big fan of Sugar in the Raw, because the granules are large and create a crunchy crust on the bread as it cooks. But, that's just me; you do you.

Bake for 35-40 minutes or until a skewer poked in the center of the loaf comes out clean.

Slice and enjoy with a nice smear of Irish butter. Try not to eat the whole loaf. Assuming you are more successful at that than I am, this bread will freeze, nicely.

*Always bring refrigerated ingredients to room temperature prior to using in baking. Just a tip!

**I'm not sure why every recipe I read called for mixing with a wooden spoon, but, if my experience is any indicator, it's because using a wooden spoon is a fabulous arm workout and you get too damn tired to over-mix the dough, maintaining a lighter loaf. That's my theory and I'm sticking to it.