Sunday, January 30, 2011

Easy, Cheap, Nutritious - And Delicious!

Outa time? Outa money? Wanta eat healthy?

Try this:

2 large onions
1 head cabbage
1/4 cup butter (or half & half butter and olive oil)
2-3 cups cooked  whole wheat pasta (I used the colorful vegetable pasta.)

skirt steak
marinade (purchased, or oil & vinegar, or salad dressing, or stewed tomatoes, or whatever you like!)

Melt the butter in a large skillet. Cut up the onions and cabbage and saute together on medium-low heat.

While the cabbage is cooking prepare the pasta. Cook it "al dente" so it doesn't fall apart in the final dish.

While the cabbage is still firm, add the pasta. Salt and pepper to taste. Turn the heat way down and keep it warm until the steak is done.

Cook the steak on a grill or in a pan and serve with the cabbage mixture. And that's dinner; how simple!

Cabbage is cheap, onions are cheap, pasta is cheap and can be used to stretch the meal for a crowd, or limited if you want to lesson the carbs and calories. Or leave it out altogether and add a few carrots instead. It goes without saying that every cook is going to add the spices they prefer. Myself, I like to use a lot of pepper!

Skirt steak is cheap, often on sale and quick to cook. You should always marinate it, though. And I know it isn't the prettiest cut of meat but it's very tasty!

By the way, the cabbage dish is not my recipe. Caroline got it from a co-worker when she was a young teacher just starting out and on a tight budget. Caroline's co-worker advised making the cabbage dish with Italian sausage. Hey, you could also use hamburger, hot dogs, ham, whatever you like!

I gotta tell you, I so wish washing dishes was even a tenth as much fun as cooking!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Help! I Need a Plan!

So, there I was at 10:00 this morning, watching Dr. Who and cutting out quilt pieces.

I'm hopeless - but not helpless. In the living room are 2 baskets of laundry that needs to be folded, and in the kitchen is a sink full of dirty dishes. And in my heart a lot of guilt.

But my quilt is coming along very well....!

Since I hate to cut out squares, I sew in strips as much as I can. In this case, I stitched a 2" strip of yellow along one side of the blue, and a 2" strip of pink on the other. The blue strip is 4" wide. Then I cut the joined piece into 2" strips. Here are some of the assembled blocks laid out on the kitchen table:

I think it'll be 6 blocks by 8 blocks, with a double boarder.

By the way, did you notice Faith in the first picture. She's just a bundle of energy, isn't she?

And, Odie, I think he's crying about the neglected the housework.

Here's an idea on how to discipline myself regarding the kitchen: I'm thinking of storing some of the dishes way up high so that it'll be easier to wash a dirty plate than get another one out of the cupboard. That way we'll never have 8 dinner plates in the sink, at least.

Sometimes, my kitchen does look nice!

By the way, I tiled the back splash myself, and painted and put new hardware on the cupboard doors. I'll tell you more about that later.

Hope you're having a wonderful day. I love your comments - lots of comments!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Still Life, With Potatoes

....because they were on sale, buy one bag get another one free....

BOGO gets me every time!

So - what to do with all these potatoes. In some households, not a big deal, but there's just two of us here, and one of us much prefers rice as a "staple."

OK - we had pot roast the other night, which included potatoes and was delicious, and I have another piece of that meat (it was buy one get one free also).

And, I splurged on fresh parsley, the curly kind. Now, for flavor, they say to use the flat parsley, but that stuff costs three times as much as curly. I'll settle for curly and make parsley potatoes with .... something....

And here's something Caroline taught me. She's very good at quick meals, as opposed to my sometimes over planned, over prepared and over cooked (she says) way of doing things.

Grate a raw potato, skin and all (wash it first), or chop it finely in a chopper or food processor. I use our handy cheese grater, which is metal and has four sides, each with a different kind of grating surface.

Now, squeeze out the excess moisture, using your hands or a dish towel, whatever. Make a patty out of the raw potato and toss it  into a frying pan on a little bit of oil (even if it's no-stick) and, voila, you have restaurant style hash browns with your morning eggs! Or Sunday night omelet. Or, whatever!

Thanks to for this picture. I haven't used the site before, but it seems to have a lot of simple recipes, presented in an organized format. I intend to check it out more thoroughly in the future.

By the way, if you're someone who limits your egg consumption because of cholesterol, here's my take on that:
  • eggs are cheap and easy to cook, high in protein, iron, and certain vitamins
  • there are lots of high fat foods which have little nutritional value and raise people's cholesterol levels. I do limit them somewhat, like baked goods, etc.
  • our bodies make cholesterol anyway, and how much they make is affected in large part by genetics
  • God gave us scientists who have created these wonderful little anti-cholesterol pills, and
  • life's too short. I'll be damned if I'm going to make it miserable too by worrying about every little thing that goes into my mouth.
So relax and have eggs and hash browns once in awhile! Love ya!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Smiley - Beneath Her Umbrella

This is a complicated lady. The more I look at her the more confused I am about her (my) feelings:

Smiley - Beneath Her Umbrella
Drawing is a wonderful way to focus after a busy day, and today was one of those days. I picked up Beth at 2:00 and we went to the grocery store. When we got back I packaged everything up and then fixed supper. I was all worn out by then, but it's a good feeling to have the kitchen well stocked and in order. This is my second grocery trip this month. I have to pick up a few things at Target and that's it 'til February. I'm making progress on my goal to spend less time (and money) on groceries.

Here's a neat trick if you like a little bacon now and then but don't want to buy the whole package because you overdo it and it's expensive. Open the package and separate the bacon strips. Roll each strip up in a coil and place the little rolls in a single layer in a freezer container. Whenever you need a little bacon for flavoring, they are easily removed one by one. Take as many as you need and return the container to the freezer. This may seem silly to some, but I love it because otherwise I'll cook the whole package at once, which is bad for the budget, my cholesterol levels and calorie intake. There is, after all, minimal food value in bacon.

Tomorrow is leftovers, otherwise known as clean the refrigerator day. Then on Sunday - pot roast, yum!

I'll make it in the crock pot so I can get started on that new baby quilt I mentioned yesterday.

Hope you're having a wonderful day!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Shootout in the Wild West - oops, Southeast!

They're saying that not since the 1980's has there been an event like this in Miami. The police went to a suspect's residence today with a warrant and the person started shooting. Three people died - the suspect and two of the officers. They were experienced officers but were outgunned and ambushed. "The bad guys" around here have machine guns and seem to have no respect for life - even their own!

This happened in an area called Liberty City, where I worked a few years back. My clients were homeless, or formerly homeless, mentally ill and drug addicts. I walked those streets and made home visits there.

When I hear news about violence in this area, I take a very deep breath and thank God for protecting me.

I believe that, although some hate the police, most folks like social workers. Social workers come with money, groceries, diapers for the baby, etc. Of course, sometimes social workers come and take the children. That's a dangerous job I've never had to do.

When I went into neighborhoods I stayed alert. If anything looked amiss, I left. Despite my caution, though, I've witnessed a lot: Drug deals on the street; people high on crack in an apartment across from the one I was visiting; a lot of alcohol abuse; fights, urinating in public, etc.

One time I (and my car) got locked inside a gated apartment complex. After that, I continued to make visits there but I became acquainted with the manager and parked my car on the street.

There was another side to working in Liberty City and Overtown. Most of the time I was accorded respect and gracious hospitality by my clients. I was often offered refreshments and the most comfortable seat in the place - next to a window, with a fan blowing on me. I met some very nice people who were doing the best they could with what they had, and were grateful for the assistance of our agency.

I loved that job. The agency I worked for was devoted to improving the well-being of their people. My coworkers were tireless and dedicated, working for low pay, staying late, transporting clients in their own cars, and supporting each other emotionally in a way I've never seen anywhere else.

Eventually I took another position which was closer to home, tamer, and offered a little more money, but I still think of my old co-workers from time to time, and my old clients. They continue to struggle to do the impossible, and I think that is wonderful.

In the meantime, I'm planning my next baby quilt. How do you like these colors?

Life goes on....for the living.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Another Funny Song

Raise your hand if you remember this one:

Rolf Harris - The Court of King Caractacus

Now the ladies of the harem of the court of King Catactacus, were just passing by.
All together, now the ladies of the harem of the court of King Catactacus, were just passing by.
Now the ladies of the harem of the court of King Catactacus, were just passing by.
Now the ladies of the harem of the court of King Catactacus, were just passing by.

Now the noses on the faces of the ladies of the harem of the court of King Catactacus, were just passing by.
All together, now the noses on the faces of the ladies of the harem of the court of King Catactacus, were just passing by.
Now the noses on the faces of the ladies of the harem of the court of King Catactacus, were just passing by.
Now the noses on the faces of the ladies of the harem of the court of King Catactacus, were just passing by.

Now the boys who put the powder on the noses on the faces of the ladies of the harem of the court of King Catactacus, were just passing by.
[Repeat 4 times]

Now the fascinating witches who put the scintillating stitches in the britches of the boys who put the powder on the noses on the faces of the ladies of the harem of the court of King Catactacus, were just passing by.
[Repeat 4 times]

Now if you want to take some pictures of the fascinating witches who put the scintillating stitches in the britches of the boys who put the powder on the noses on the faces of the ladies of the harem of the court of King Catactacus...'re too late! Because they've just... passed... by!

Click on the videos to the right and enjoy!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Sticky Buns!

I know, I shouldn't ever eat them, but it was a special occasion. It was Martin Luther King Day.

I also make them on Christmas, Valentine's, Grandparents Day, Bad Hair Days and Clean Your Closets Day. So what!

We had bought some frozen whole wheat pizza dough. I made a pizza out of one of these dough balls, but Caroline wasn't impressed at all. I thought it was OK, but definitely not as good as Domino's.

So....What to do with the other 2 balls of dough? This is what I did with one of them:

Thaw the dough completely in the refrigerator.

Roll out into a 10 x 16 inch rectangle.

Melt 1/4 cup butter. Brush the rectangle with butter. Sprinkle with cinnamon, brown sugar and raisins.

Roll up the rectangle, starting on the long side, so you end up with a roll about 16 inches long.

Cut the roll in half. Then cut each half into 8 equal pieces. You can do this with a sharp knife, or try the string method: You slide a 6" length of string under the roll, cross it on the top and then pull until the string cuts through. It works quite well, cutting clean and not squashing the dough.

Divide the remainder of the butter between two round 9" pans. Sprinkle with cinnamon and brown sugar. Put 8 cinnamon buns in each pan, cut side down.

Cover with plastic wrap and let rise 20 minutes at room temperature, or in the refrigerator over night. If you use the over night method, it'll need 10 or 15 minutes in the morning to finish rising at room temperature.

Bake at 400 degrees about 12 to 15 minutes.

And, this is very important: After you take the buns out of the oven, let it set for only one or two minutes, then turn out onto a plate. The buns will have a nice shiny sugary coating.

This I believe: There's no way to make sticky buns "diet," so you might as well just enjoy them!

Sunday Morning Paper & Sticky Buns
 By the way, my idea of Heaven is a place where I can eat whatever I want and not gain weight. My Chubby Angel agrees with me. Do you like her? I can draw conventional, you see:

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Families At Sea

Didn't know what this was for the longest time, as I kept working on it. I was watching a movie about an old man struggling to maintain his dignity, the old man's son who just didn't "get it," and a secondary story about a family experiencing domestic violence.

It was a good movie, but the sadness never let up. And it looks like it infected my drawing as well.

So of what benefit is a picture, to all the families that are suffering?

Well, hopefully, as inspiration for action. And I believe that the smallest action, the fewest words, the tiniest bit of money, can sometimes make a huge difference, so let's all do what we can to help our fellow human beings, regardless of our circumstances.

I hope you're having a wonderful day!

And I'm counting my Blessings, as always.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Jazz Up the Vegetables

My preferred way to eat vegetables:

Carrot Cake
But I recognize that what Baby wants isn't always what Baby needs.

I got this recipe for carrots from Web MD. Those people are always telling me to eat my vegetables! They call this farmhouse carrots:

About 15 carrots
1 cup thinly sliced spring onion
Thyme (3 tablespoons fresh, or 3 teaspoons dried)
Rosemary (1 tablespoon fresh, or 1 teaspoon dried)
2 tablespoons honey
1 1/2  tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons vinegar or lemon juice
salt & pepper
Fresh chives, for garnish

Warm the honey, butter and vinegar or lemon juice. Add the onion and spices and set aside to marinate. If you like, do this ahead and keep in the fridge for  few days. You can also substitute flavorings according to your taste (or what's in the cupboard)!

Oven method: Preheat to 400. Clean the carrots and dry with a dish towel. Put on a baking sheet in a single layer, drizzle with the butter honey mixture and gently toss to coat. Sprinkle with salt & pepper. Roast on the upper rack for about 20 minutes. Garnish with the fresh chives. Cooked this way, the carrots will be very crispy.

Stove top or microwave method: Steam the carrots 5 or 10 minutes to soften them. Remove from water, add the butter honey mixture and saute a few more minutes. Garnish with the fresh chives. This is the method I prefer.

It really doesn't take much to jazz up a vegetable, but it's definitely worth the trouble. I usually do it myself, rather than buying those flavored in the pouch things you get in the grocery store freezer. I don't use the canned or packaged sauces much, either. A lot of those things are high in salt and sugar.

Don't get me wrong. I like salt and sugar. I probably eat too much. But at least if I'm putting it in myself I'm aware of it. One of my favorite ways with carrots (already a starchy vegetable) is to slice them thin and saute until tender in butter, adding a bit of brown sugar near the end.

As for clever ways with no-cal lettuce: Sorry, I'm all out!

By the way, it you've ever wondered how to convert the fresh herbs in a recipe to dried, maybe this will help. I found it on O Chef:

"In general, you can substitute one teaspoon of dried herbs for one tablespoon of fresh herbs and vice-versa (which is a one-to-three ratio, by the way). But let taste be your guide. Packaged dried herbs start out with a stronger taste than fresh herbs, but lose their pungency as they age. So if you've recently purchased the container, you might want to use a light hand, or add a bit more if the herb is older. When possible, use fresh ingredients to gain the most flavor."

Of course, but I'm not that well organized yet!

All I want is for vegetables to taste as beautiful as they look:

If people didn't have to eat their vegetables, God wouldn't have created V8. The Original, please; none of that low salt stuff!

Friday, January 14, 2011

On Being a Fan of Dali

The Jan/Feb issue of AAA's magazine Going Places has an article about a contest they're running. They invite Triple A Motor Club members to cut out a paper moustache and upload a photo of yourself wearing it onto the AAA website. Prizes offered are Salvador Dali souvenirs and museum tickets, in celebration of the brand new Dali Museum which just opened in St. Petersburg, FL.

Well, I did as instructed, except that I was unable to upload it because I'm not a AAA member. But I figure, why waste a fun photo, so here it is for you:

Because I'm a Great Fan of Dali!

If you're interested in Dali (and if you want more insight into what makes me tick), check out one of these websites:

As you probably know, there are many websites devoted to fine art. No matter, I just have to show you some of my favorite Dali works here. Dali had an amazing way with perspective and shadow. I also like that his work was commentary, very blunt commentary, on politics and human nature. Dali always got the last word, I think:

Explosion of Faith

This is pretty conventional, compared to what follows:

Ruin With Head of Medusa

I love what he does with space and shadows. And the details are fascinating. When we visited the museum a few years ago (the old one), I was amazed at the size of some of his paintings (2 stories high) and the time he took to complete one painting (2 years). Every detail was important, and the commentary is in the details.

Inaugural Goose Flesh

Notice a pattern between the one above and the one below. He repeated patterns and symbols in various paintings.

Road of the Enigma

Absolutely perfect perspective. And amazing shadows!

Harmony of the Spheres

Only Dali could make a bunch of dots exciting!

And this is my absolute favorite:

It's titled Geopoliticus Child Watching the Birth of the New Man, and was completed in 1943, near the end of World War II. It is, of course, a commentary on the major political and social upheavals of the time.

If there are any art experts reading this, please don't be offended by my uneducated commentary. I'm one of those people who says, "I don't know art, but I know what I like!"

So be it!

Thursday, January 13, 2011


I hate grocery shopping - what a royal waste of time!

But - If I have to go grocery shopping, nothing beats "buy one get one free," BOGO!

Anymore, if it's not on sale I don't buy it. And if I can find a coupon for what is already on sale I'm very happy. This week I got some great deals in the meat department. So tonight I packaged everything for the freezer:

From left to right: 6 pork chops, 12 skirt steaks, 6 boneless skinless chicken breasts, 4 boneless skinless chicken thighs, and 14 bone in and skin on chicken thighs. The pot in the back has all the skin, fat and bones I trimmed, plus celery, garlic, salt, pepper, paprika and sage for the stock I am making.

At the very least, that's meat for 15 meals, and I could easily stretch it to 20.

Shopping for groceries took about 2 hours, including travel time and unloading the car. Packing up the meat was half an hour or so, and stocking my little pantry with the canned and dry goods, about twenty minutes. Caroline and I, between us, spent at least an hour reviewing the ad and making the list. As for coupons, I couldn't say because that's sort of an ongoing activity at this house. I believe that  I am getting closer to my goal of cutting the time and expense involved in food shopping and storage. This was my first major shopping trip in January. Let's see how many times I do it again this month.

In the meantime, I sure love a neat (and full) freezer!

Soon - hopefully - I'll begin the fun part. That, of course, is a garden. It'll be trial and error, because I've never gardened in Florida, but I have help and expert advice available. And I have my first seed packets:

My choice of cantaloupe and pumpkin was purely by chance. I was getting seeds for Caroline to use in a lesson and I bought three kinds that were relatively large seeds that first graders could see easily. Caroline took the corn to school and I kept the other two.

If that funny white pumpkin grows I'll have another challenge - how to cook it!

I'm tellin' ya - this retirement business is great!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


Meet Robin:

Robin, resting on a ribbon
I feel like Robin tonight - contented.

I finished the first baby quilt and it's very sweet. I'll start the second one tomorrow.

I'm OK.

Caroline is OK.

The kids are OK.

I'm grateful for friends and family. I'm grateful for eyes that see and hands that work and a mind that creates. And I'm thankful that today, at least, I haven't had to endure the trauma and violence that are also part of human existence.

As you read this, decide to say or make or do something beautiful today. It'll keep the world in balance.

Monday, January 10, 2011

January Projects

Above My Desk
I've added another interesting blog to my list on the right - Patchwork Times.

It seems like some of these quilting ladies are very productive. Like, completing a new quilt every week. Could that be so?

They're a whole lot better organized than I am!

I would love to surround myself with all those beautiful quilts. But, at that point, would I feel like it was a Job? No thanks; I'll go at my own pace.

So here are some of the projects and ideas I'm working on currently:

Finish two baby quilts for showers at Caroline's school.

Finish a baby pillow for little Matthew, my new great nephew. It's not for his bed; it's a firm "propping up" pillow for the car seat or whatever.

Finish a quilt I started last April, promised to Caroline.

Finish a pillow for Beth's bed.

Walk on my treadmill again - yes, I do have one, recently rescued from a corner and dusted!

Make a little music on my keyboard - got one of those too, enshrined under plastic for several years since its last use.

I've already cleaned off my desk. This is "neat" by my standards:

Notice the large red object? It's a "Wonder File." You've seen it on TV:

Assuming I get around to setting it up and, assuming the kitchen table is clear when I need it - hey, maybe it will help. A bit of advice if you buy one: Get the sturdier version, which is NOT two for 19.99! Or wait for me to put instructions here for making one.

I'm nearly done with the first baby quilt. It's machine quilted "in the ditch" and now I'm ready to hem. Please ignore the basting stitches which I haven't taken out yet:

Quilting and TV. This is Retirement!
I like having a number of projects in process at one time. It keeps things interesting.

Or it keeps me spinning, which is OK too:

For those who noticed and were concerned: I intend to get back to my usual posting schedule, which is maybe not daily, but at least five times a week. I need the discipline of writing every day - you know, like Steven King and those guys.

I love comments, so keep 'em coming.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

A Word From Faith

Hate to admit it out loud, but I had a wonderful Christmas vacation!

First of all, my Momma Carol got red socks for Christmas. Now, I know some humans think we Cats can't see color, but they are dead wrong when it comes to RED. I had so much fun playin' with that red sock, you don't even know!

An' then there's the shiny ornaments. They decorate a tree just for me every year - isn't that nice? A whole year is a long time to wait for my special toy, but I make the most of it while it's here, an' I'm so thankful to my humans for doing that for me. I think they enjoy it too, 'cause they become very animated when I play with my tree.

I'd be mad 'bout them takin' down the tree, but I know that's just the beginning, 'cause every January my mommas re-arrange the furniture, an' that's the best fun.

It's like the Olympics decathlon. I start at the garage door and run an' jump from box to pile to chair to table an' on and on clear to the other end of the house! Along the way I get to try out new high spots an' play with vases and lamps and pictures I haven't seen since last year;  that is, I play up there 'til somebody shoos me away an' moves whatever I used to get up there - darn!

An' the dust - ooh, the dust! It's like our own little Florida snowstorm! They stir up dust an' cat hairs 'til even I get into sneezing fits! Momma Carol gets grossed out 'cause she says nobody taught me how to use a Kleenex. Hey, not my fault I was born in a barn and raised in an animal shelter!

This uproar is going to go on for awhile, but the kitchen is pretty well set, at least as far as furniture is concerned. Momma Carol took this picture of our tiny pantry 'cause she wants to show off all her new blue plastic. See how pretty?

As for me, I'm kinda worn out for now. Think I'll have a little nap with brother Odie an' Momma Caroline.

Momma Carol does a lot of "resting" in front of the computer. She thinks I don't know it, but she plays "Farmville" a lot!

She did something clever today: She turned "Celebration" on its side an' re-named it "Manta." Do you think it looks like a manta ray?


Manta Ray

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Bye bye 2010

So, how did you spend New Years Eve?

We spent it quietly, as usual.

With a few changes. Usually I'm asleep before the ball drops, I'm such an old lady. This year, Caroline dozed off, and so did Odie (blame the Benedryl) and Faith, leaving me the only one awake. Happy New Year Me!! (Not really; I woke 'em all up!)

I spent the evening watching episodes of "Firefly" (thanks Paul and Kristin), and drawing this:

Celebration 2010
Outside, the noise is still going on. People around here just love fireworks! And, tragically, some of them take it a step further and shoot guns into the air.

Those people flunked physics and don't know that, "What goes up must come down."

I don't get it about the noise anyways. Now, the visual, that's sometimes breathtaking! And it's great to see the whole world - most of humanity - celebrating together (sort of, time zone wise):



Hong Kong



And, because Caroline gave me a web cam for Christmas, here's a new picture of me for 2011:

Hey, at least I'm smiling. That's 'cause I'm talking to you!

Happy New Year Everyone!!!