Update

I’ve been shamefully neglectful of my site lately.  When not sleeping and trying to catch up on the rest I’ve been missing since the Hillbilly started his new job, I’ve been:

  • Spending my online time signing up for and making the selections for all the spiffy new benefits that come with that job.  Insurance, 401K and a host of other goodies, each of which take roughly 4 hours each navigating the individual websites, reading the specifics of the various choices and putting our plans together.  Its been like a devious electronic maze and I get to be the rat…got any cheeeeese??? (If you read that in Urkel’s voice, 10 points to you!)
  • Since our insurance is now back in effect, I’ve been scheduling and going to the doctors’ appointments I missed over the three months we didn’t have insurance.  As a hermit/homebody, its exhausting trying to do all this in such a short time frame.
  • Another appointment I kept just this week…I’m still having shoulder issues, of course, but its getting more and more difficult to keep my shaggy mess of hair cleaned and tended.  I’d previously chopped it off from waist-length to shoulder-length when my shoulder was almost completely frozen after the injury first cropped up.  Even that was still too much, so I just went crazy and got rid of most of it.  Shaved at the neck and 1-2″ in length over the rest.  Its a change.  I keep reaching up to remove my hair clip…but its not there and neither is the hair for that matter.

    Granny Blanket
    An afghan for a friend
  • I’ve also been busy (read:  frantically) crocheting items for Christmas prezzies for friends and family.  I have about 5 projects in progress and even though I try to work on them in the order I’ll need to have them finished, I get easily sidetracked.  Hopefully I’ll have them all done in time.  In addition to all those projects, I got a rush order for two baby blankets someone wants to gift to a mom-to-be who was due to give birth “any day now”.  Those were the first ones I worked on and finished, so they could be gifted sometime before the kid goes to college.John Deere blanket
  • I’ve also been spending time looking for a new Jeep.  I’m currently in a 20-year old Grand Cherokee.  I still love it, but its time for an upgrade.  I’d really like to have the whole adventure over and done with before Thanksgiving to make the 800-mile (round trip) journey, but for some reason, I just can’t get excited about the process.
  • The delivery date for our new refrigerator keeps being postponed by the manufacturer.  It looks like I’m going to have to go back to the store and cancel that order.  They’ve already said we could apply what we’ve already paid to a new selection and pay the difference if necessary.  Another thing I can’t get excited about enough to actually go to the store.

    Gator Blanket
    Baby Blanket 2 (The mom is a fan)

 

All this in addition to finding new homes for the two puppies we had, finishing the kitchen remodel so we can begin cleaning the dining room before we host Christmas this year and needing to attend all the holiday functions that abound in November and December.  Then there’s also prepping gift lists, sending out Christmas cards, and wrapping all the gifts.  I’m tired just thinking about it.

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Can we please just sit here a minute? 

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My 40 Things

My crocheting soul sister Boo did a 40 things to ponder about me…. and I’ve decided to play along.  Feel free to steal this like I did.

1. Do you like blue cheese? Oh gawd yes, on just about everything
2. Coke or Pepsi? If I have to drink a soda of some sort, either one will do, but prefer root beer.
3. Do you own a gun? Yes
4. What flavor of Kool-aid?  I think I’d rather die of thirst than save myself with this insipid drink, but if I have no choice…strawberry.
5. Hot dogs? Yes, especially if there’s cheese and chili involved.
6. Favorite TV show? It depends on the season, right now, the new Doctor Who is my thing (especially while I wait for the final season of Game of Thrones).  I also love Ink Master and Supernatural.
7. Do you believe in ghosts? Sure, especially since attending a college that was once a Civil War hospital and cemetery.
8. What do you drink in the morning? Coffee, down from two pots a day to just one cup of full-on caffeine and one cup of decaf.
9. Can you do a push-up? I can push up from the couch to go get another brownie from the kitchen.  Does that count?
10. Favorite Jewelry?  I don’t wear any.
11. Favorite Hobby? Reading, crocheting and cooking.
12. Do you have ADD? No
13. Do you wear glasses? Yes.  I wore contacts since high school and ditched those a couple years ago.
14. Favorite cartoon character? Roadrunner…beep beep!
15. Three things you did today? Does waking up count?  I find that’s a pretty stellar achievement these days.  Made my coffee, checked my email and put a load of clothes in the dryer that I’d forgotten about and left over night.
16. Three drinks you drink regularly? Coffee, sweet iced tea and strawberry Perrier
17. Current movies? ………….? I haven’t been to a movie theater in years, but the ones I will fork over the cash for Pay-Per-View are the Marvel movies.
18. Do you believe in magic? Common everyday magical things, absolutely.  Mystical magic…maybe?
19. Favorite place to be?  At home, snuggled up on my couch.
20. How did you ring in the New Year? Used to be at whatever hot spot had the best party, after marriage we’d hold a small gathering at the house with an appetizer extravaganza that we’d nosh on all night…now I’m usually asleep by midnight.
21. Travel? Where would you go?   I traveled Asia extensively in my 20s and wouldn’t mind going back, but I’d love to go to Ireland, Switzerland, Italy and Greece.
22. Name five people who will most likely read this?  Hopefully not the stalkers I’ve been trying to avoid!
23. Favorite movie?  The Godfather
24. Favorite color? At the moment, teal
25. Do you like sleeping on satin sheets?  If its cool, yes.  If its hot, no…they get all sweaty-sticky and feels like I’m being suffocated by an octopus.
26. Can you whistle? No
27. Where are you now?  My favorite place (see #19)
28.  (Apparently there is no question #28 and its freaking me the fuck out!!!!)
29. Favorite food?  I don’t have just one.  Chinese: Kung Pao Chicken.  Mexican:  Cheese Enchiladas.  Italian:  Lasagna.  And I can always be on board with a nice thick Rib-eye steak and baked potato.
30. Least favorite chore? Washing dishes, which really sucks since I love to cook
31. Best job you can think of?  Mom
32. What’s in your pockets?  I don’t have pockets and even when I do there’s usually nothing in them.
33. Last thing that made you laugh?
34. Favorite animal?  Dog
35. What’s your most recent injury?  Torn rotator cuff, still in rehab for that one
36. How many TV’s are in your house?  Two, one for the living room and one for my son
37. Worst pain ever?  the torn rotator cuff
38. Do you like to dance? yes, I may have been known to Risky Business dance around the house while doing chores.
39. Are your parents still alive? Just my mother
40. Do you enjoy camping?  If “camping” is done in a 5-star hotel with room service and a spa…then yes.  Anything else, no.  Indoor plumbing was invented to avoid having to pee outdoors.  And I have a deal with insects, they stay out of my home and I stay out of theirs.
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Mmmm…Brownies!

I know I haven’t been up to my usual posty self this week.  Please bear with me while our whole household gets used to the Hillbilly’s new job.  He’s had a M-F daytime schedule for the last 17 years and is now on a 24-hour rotating shift.  No weekends off and sometimes he works days and sometimes he works overnight shifts.   Its quite an adjustment for us all.

So to bring a smile to everyone’s faces, I made a pan of brownies yesterday from an awesome recipe I found on Allrecipes.com several years ago.  The picture looked delicious, so I saved it in my “maybe someday I’ll make these” file.  That day was yesterday.

If I had known what goodness was packed in these tiny bombs of moist chocolatey heaven, I would have ditched the pre-packaged mixes ages ago!

MMMM…Brownies

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup white granulated sugar
  • 2 Tbs. butter (softened at room temperature)
  • 2 Tbs. water
  • 1-1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 2 eggs (I used extra large eggs at room temperature)
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 325 degrees and grease an 8×8-inch square pan (I used Pam cooking spray).

In a saucepan, combine the sugar, butter and water.  Cook over medium heat until the butter melts and it comes to a light boil.  Remove the pan from the heat and add the chocolate chips, stirring until melted and smooth.  Mix in the eggs and vanilla.

In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt.  Stir the dry Brownies mixture into the chocolate mix gradually.  Spread the batter into the greased pan.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.  Be cautious not to over-bake so the edges don’t get crunchy.  Cool in the pan and then cut into squares.

Enjoy!

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Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo

With my son on Fall Break last week, needing to be up at 5 a.m. this Monday morning  seems even worse than usual.  Its currently 7 a.m. and I need a nap!

This is one of my most favorite recipes I have.  I’m so thankful I’m not lactose intolerant because I love dairy and this recipe is chock full of cream and cheeses.

Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup sweet butter (I use regular salted butter)Chicken Alfredo
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/4 tsp. white pepper
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (not powdered from a jar!)
  • 3/4 cup grated Mozzarella cheese
  • 1 – 12 oz box of Fettuccine noodles (or whatever pasta you like)
  • Sliced grilled or sauteed chicken breast

Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium/low heat.

Add the garlic, cream and white pepper to the melted butter.  Bring it so a simmer while stirring often.

Add the Parmesan cheese, letting it melt and simmer for 8-10 minutes until sauce is thick and smooth.

Add the Mozzarella cheese, stirring continuously until melted and sauce is creamy.

Serve over boiled pasta and add pieces of browned or grilled chicken.

**Make sure to serve this sauce as soon as possible after cooking.  It will begin to separate within an hour or two after heating.

Enjoy!

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All the Pretty Colors

Unfortunately, I’m not talking about the fall foliage.  But it is something just as exciting, at least to me.  The various yarns I’ve ordered over the past couple weeks to prepare for my winter hibernation projects are starting to trickle in.

Today’s shipment was a complete surprise.  The FedEx truck pulled up and I got my first of the 4-ish packages that should be arriving.

This shipment was from JoAnn.com and contained Red Heart brand’s With Love yarn.  Its so soft!  In addition to the colors shown, I also got a nice selection of white and eggshell to use as the base for baby blankets.Joanne Yarn 1

I dusted off my stitch dictionary yesterday and now I need to start planning out my projects.  I already have two of the gift projects scheduled and I have all the yarn for those.  I just need to decide on patterns or stitches.

I decided this year to alternate projects, one for gifts and one that I can sell.  This way I can at least recoup some of the costs of the yarn.  There are a few craft fairs in the area and I thought I’d also look into Etsy.  If anyone uses that, I was wondering…does the buyer’s payment go through the site or is it taken care of privately between the buyer and seller?

I have plenty to keep me busy during the next few months now that isn’t dependent on electricity or DSL for when those snow storms come through and knock out our power lines!  Crocheting by candlelight, welcome to the 1800s.

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#TBT – Guerilla Salvation

The following is a #TBT Throwback Thursday post of an item I wrote on a former blog around 2010-ish.  Enjoy!

Between birth and around age 24, I was exposed to a lot of different religious belief systems: Presbyterian, Methodist, Catholic, Jewish, (Southern)Baptist and after college, many of the Asian religions. I eventually rejected organized religion and based my faith on a personal relationship between myself and God and even though it sounds like a casual thing, I do take it seriously.

I married a lapsed Baptist that doesn’t attend services. We both agreed that we’d like for our child to learn of God, Jesus and the Bible and be able to make his own decisions when he’s older about his own faith.

So it doesn’t bother me that he occasionally goes with my MIL to her Baptist church or that he’s attending a Vacation Bible School this week at another church with some of the other local kids. All this is fine and even encouraged.

What does bother me is that my son came home yesterday and announced he’s been Saved. Its not him I’m angry with because with his limited exposure to Christian beliefs, he doesn’t understand what it truly means.

Its the leader of the youth organization that’s running the VBS for his underhanded tactics of addressing this with my son when neither his father or I were there. All my 7-year old guy knew was that “all the other kids were doing it”. I casually asked him a few basic questions about what being Saved means or that Jesus died for our sins and he was clueless.

I’m livid that a youth leader would stoop to sneaky tactics like letting an child make an uninformed spiritual decision. Its these types of behaviors that caused a rift between me and church life. It took everything I had to be nonchalant and not let my feelings about this wash over onto my child because at this age, I don’t want him to be influenced by negativity in relation to religion. There’s enough time for him to develop that on his own later in life.

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PS – My son attended another event there just this past summer and at 16 years old, got saved again, by the same youth pastor.  And he still doesn’t understand its true meaning.

Banana Pudding

This is a Southern classic.  You can’t go to any potluck, church function, PTA meeting or BBQ in the South without someone bringing a Banana Pudding or two.

Personally, I’m not a big fan, but the Hillbilly is.  He could eat ‘Nanner Pudding for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

This is an easy-peasy, no-frills version of this classic.  There are other recipes that I have that you actually make your own pudding/custard/whipped topping, but remember, I’m taking baby steps into this scary dessert-making world.

Banana Pudding

Ingredients:

  • 1 – 5 oz. package of Instant vanilla pudding mix (make sure its instant and not the kind you’re suppose to cook.)
  • 2 cups cold milk
  • 1 – 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 – 12 oz. container of frozen whipped topping (Cool Whip)
  • 1 – 16 oz. box of vanilla wafer cookies
  • 14 very ripe bananas, sliced*

In a large mixing bowl, beat the pudding mix and milk for 2 minutes on medium speed.  Blend in the condensed milk and mix until smooth.  Add the vanilla.

Using a spatula, fold in the whipped topping to the pudding mixture.

In a deep bowl or baking dish, place one layer of the vanilla wafers, followed by a layer Banana Puddingof pudding mixture, then a layer of the sliced bananas.  Repeat until running out, leaving the top layer of bananas.

Chill and serve.

Enjoy!

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*”Someone” ate half my bananas before I could get this made, so mine in the picture are spread out more.  If you have the full amount, pack the banana layers closely together for a more rich, banana-y flavor.

Hash-brown Casserole

My body is currently under attack by Mother Nature so I’ll make this short and sweet.  This is one of my most very treasured side dishes because it has my favorite vegetable and dairy, dairy and more dairy.  This is the dish people usually ask for me to bring to any potluck type events and its so easy to make!

Hash-brown Casserole

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs. frozen hash browns, thawed
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1 can Cream of Chicken soup (I usually use Cream of Onion instead, but its simply a personal choice)
  • 1 pint sour cream
  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped
  • 2 cups Cheddar cheese, shreaded
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray an 11×14 baking pan with non-stick spray.

Hashbrown Casserole

Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl then spread evenly into your baking pan.

Bake 45 minutes (uncovered) or until top is browned.*

Enjoy!

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*It depends on your oven.  With mine, I usually bake it one hour, then broil it for about 5 minutes to get the center browned.

Four-Footed Lawsuit

I have this annoyingly glaring safety orange and black sign staked out in front of the sidewalk that leads to the front door.  It screams, “BEWARE OF DOG“.

Considering there are packs of neighbors’ dogs roaming around the area, strangers may sit momentarily in their vehicles contemplating which it is they should be wary of.  Never suspecting, that its the cute, little fur-ball of a spaniel, usually straining at the end of his tether and barking his head off. I, personally, would assume it would be the one making the most noise.  For some reason, other people don’t and continue, even with the warning sign, to approach said dog, spewing baby-talk, with their hands out to try to pet him.

Chipper grooming.png
~Wouldn’t you try to pet me too?~

Bad mistake.  People…you were warned!

He is extremely protective of “his” porch and of me.  Which is going to end up with us being the defendant in a lawsuit some day.

If, on the slight chance, he lets you pet him without trying to take off your hand, or at least a finger, then don’t turn your back on him.   Just back away slowly.  When I hear the commotion outside, I go out and instruct them to do just that.  Do they listen?  No.  They turn away…and that’s when he goes for their ankles.

He has a “reputation” at the only pizza place that will deliver out here.  Luckily, we tip well.

When he’s away from his porch or home, he’s usually a different animal.  He plays, lets people touch him and even sits on their laps to get petted.

Usually.  Unless someone tries to hurt him…or take a toy he’s playing with…or touch his feet.  Like most groomers.  We’ve been “politely” asked not to come back to two of them so far.  So I was a little concerned when we were trying a new one this past weekend.  I warned the woman (and her boyfriend that helps her) profusely and told her to use a muzzle if necessary.  The little Judas fell in love with her boyfriend.  The hell-hound even allowed him to pick him up and carry him around. Traitor!

On the upside, at least we found a new groomer.

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P.S. – No, we do not leave him on the tether all day, because yes, I know how that can affect a dog’s behavior.  He’s an indoor dog and he’s only tethered for his bathroom breaks when I can’t walk him.