My life this week in photos (via my iphone)

It’s been a pretty busy week, with lots to do. Just thought I’d post an update about what we’ve been up to in southern New Mexico.

I made preserves using the peaches from the tree in our yard. The peaches came ripe all at the same time, we ate as many as we could and then canned the rest.

I started a new painting. I found a picture online of a painting that someone else did. I loved it and thought that I could duplicate it rather than purchase it (it wasn’t for sale anyway).

I made peanut butter s’more cookies at a friend’s house. We used old marshmallows in some of them that hardened into rocks when melted, so we switched to 4th of July marshmallows. Some cookies have red white and blue star shaped marshmallows on them, who cares, they all taste the same anyway.

The turtle key chain that I’ve had on my car keys since I was 16 via a gift from my sister, fell off my keyring this week, I’m glad I didn’t lose it. It turns out it just came off rather than actually broke, so I was able to put it back on it instead of repair or replace it.

I’ve decided that I love Pyrex. I remember some that my mom had when I was a child and didn’t realize that people collected it. I made my first purchase of a set of 4 different sized mixing bowls. They are washed and ready for use…what???? you thought I was going to collect them and let them sit on the shelf? You must not know my husband very well.

The little boys went for a haircut and had a blast. They run and play with all the other dogs as our groomer also has a boarding kennel attached as well as grooms dogs. They then needed a blast from the AC in the car too cool down on the way home.

I went to my first local Chinese food restaurant. Nate doesn’t like any of the places in Alamo, so when I was in Rui I went to one to try it out. It is closed on Monday’s, but since I go to Rui on Fridays now I finally thought to go (it only took a year of going on Fridays to realize that it was an option.

While I was changing the sheets, the dogs figured out that they could get under our bed. I was calling and calling them only to find that one got stuck and could not get out.

It only took me 4 years to realize that there is a mountain nearby that has trails to climb. I bought a new waist-pack (hey now, they don’t call them fanny-packs anymore) to hold, my water and keys while I hike.

I hope the collage below works well and you can see the pictures.

Image

Advertisements

We Ate Beets…

…and it didn’t kill us.

Nate and I have been trying to eat healthier and to eat more organically for several months now. Well probably all along, but we haven’t really been keeping track. (Hey, I was in college forever and never thought twice about what I ate, and probably ate out more than I ever had before in my life or will again) Slowly but surely we’ve been eating out less and cooking more and more homemade meals from scratch.

Being the health nut that he is, you wouldn’t think that Nate would have a problem with this. However, Nate calls me a granola cruncher, and maybe I am or maybe I’m not. Either way, I cook about 30-50% of his meals so he really has no choice.

There aren’t many choices for grocery shopping here in Alamogordo, so we have had to be creative about how to shop for the types of food we want to buy. With the recent changes to our diet, Wal.mart and Low.e’s (it’s a grocery store here, mind you) do not have many options for us these days.

Thinking outside the Alamogordo/southern-New-Mexico-sized box, we have started growing some of our own food…in a garden…in our own backyard! It was Nate’s project really, but he stuck to it and we’ve actually managed grow some broccoli and carrots and then have harvested some broccoli over the last two weeks.

First Round of Broccoli

second round of broccoli

After Blanching

Recently, we have also started to buy produce and whatnot from a co-op in Las Cruces. Nate goes there multiple times a week for class or tutoring, so he is able to stop buy and pick things up when needed. However, a group was started by a yoga instructor (from a few classes I took), where we receive deliveries of produce in a bag.

You submit the required $ and a re-usable bag a week prior and then on the designated day, you go pick up your bag. The produce acquired is split amongst the participants. The more people who participate, the more produce she is able to buy so the cost per pound goes way down. The bag was so heavy this past week that I thought the handle might rip off.

Included in this weeks produce was:

  • a carton of blueberries
  • a carton of grape tomatoes
  • a head of Romain lettuce
  • 4 kiwi
  • 2 green peppers
  • some onions
  • some Tuscan kale
  • a handful of beets

…and a few other things I can’t remember since we’ve already eaten them.

I wasn’t and still am not sure what to do with the Tuscan kale, I’ve included some in some stir-fry but it is too bitter to be eaten uncooked. All the recipes I can find call for it uncooked in some sort of salad and I’m not sure i could stand it.

But the beets…oh the beets…

I’ve never cared for pickled anything let alone pickled beets. So I just wasn’t sure what to do with them. I contemplated giving them away, or throwing them in the compost, but part of the veggie deal is to try everything that comes in the bag (minus the Portabella mushrooms that came the previous week, which obviously got chucked by this cook). So I decided that I’d find a way to cook them up.

I had several suggestions made to me, but in the end, I decided just to boil them like sweet potatoes, as that is what they had been compared to by several people.

I chopped off their heads and tails, peeled them, diced them, boiled them, drained them and then gave them a healthy dose of EVOO and kosher salt. It looked like something had been killed in the kitchen!

And after all of that…

They were…edible

But they were good enough to try again, maybe roasting them this time around?

the before

and the after (we ate a few before the picture)

I know you can eat the greens too, but I didn’t want to take my chances this time around. They had been sitting around for a bit before I got to them and they looked terribly wilted.

Next on the menu will be the carrots we are growing, or the lettuce. Lettuce just sounds…safer…don’t you think?

Michele

The Case of the Collar Caper

Tags

, ,

Last weekend we had quite the adventure, and it all happened before 8:00 AM.

I woke up to let the dogs outside. They simply can’t hold it for very long on Saturday mornings because they are used to getting let out between 6-7 on weekdays due to my work schedule.

Currently, Kush and Blue sleep in a cage under a desk in our dining room while the big dogs Iris, Mattie and Finn sleep in a large cage in the laundry room. When I let them all out, I put them all back into their cages except for Finn who likes to bark if put back into his cage without being fed. Finn was allowed to sleep on our bedroom floor for another hour until we decided to actually get up.

When Nate did get up and went to feed the dogs, he noticed that Iris was out of her cage. She had let herself out! She has done this before though. She pushes with her nose against the bottom of the cage door if both latches aren’t done. She can push and push until she can squeeze out. Occasionally other dogs will sneak out between her legs as she pushes, but this time Mattie was still left behind in the cage.

Nate started to fed the dogs and let them out again and I finally got up. I had already been told that Iris had let herself out. When I came out to get my own breakfast, however, I noticed that Iris’ collar wasn’t on her. So I went searching for it. I checked inside the big dog cage and noticed the broken plastic from the latch on the collar and figured she just broke it trying to get out of the cage. It turns out that this was not the case.

I picked up the broken plastic, but could not find the rest of the collar including the fabric and the tags. I search through the blankets in the cage until I heard the tags from the collar hit the floor, however, they were not attached to the collar, but rather only to the D ring that is typically sewn into the collar. That is when it occurred to me what might have actually happened.

When Iris was trying to get out of the cage, her collar must have gotten stuck and come off. When she got out she must have left the collar behind in the cage with Chewy-McChewerson aka Mattie the Meatball. Mattie then took her sweet time, while we continued to sleep, chewing the dog collar apart and eating the fabric while leaving the plastic, D ring and dog tags behind. It must have tasted pretty good because there was no evidence of the fabric left behind and she chewed the fabric around the D ring.

We had no idea if she had swallowed it whole or in small pieces so we decided we had to make her throw up. A mixture of peroxide and water does the trick nicely when force-fed. It took a little chasing around the yard to get her stomach agitated enough but she did finally yack, and….sure enough, long strips of pink polka dot collar came out. Luckily he hadn’t fed her any dog food yet. She only chewed the collar into 3 inch sections then swallowed those pieces whole. We washed the stomach yuck juices off the collar and lined up the pieces. We figure we got about 95% of the collar back out of the mouth-end of her and therefore we did not search what comes out the butt-end for residual pieces.

Needless to say, Iris now has a collar.

-Michele

New Years

Nate and I made the last minute decision to spend the New Years holiday in Colorado Springs with his parents and some of his friends from high school. We left on Thursday and came back today, Sunday, and had a great time.

We decided to hire a pet sitter again, as we have hired her in the past (several times in fact) and she is great. She comes 3 times a day, morning, 5 PM and night and the dogs love her. For a small sum in comparison to what a kennel would cost, she checks the house while we are gone, turns the turtle light on and off and waters the garden in the summer. We recommend her to everyone we know. However, we only left her with 3 dogs this time around, Mattie, Finn and Iris. Kush and Blue came with us. We don’t mind traveling with all 5, but Nate’s parents have a cat and not a very secure back yard so we decided to just take the 2 small dogs. Also, Kush has been having seizures lately and just started on some meds and we wanted to be able to watch him.

Shirley and Joe loved having them there and set it up so that they could “watch doggy TV” or rather, look out their back window at the yard where they get lots of squirrls, crows and other wildlife all the time. They are blocked in the kitchen and dining room and the room we stay in and the cat gets the rest of the house, they didn’t seem to mind though because that’s mostly where we hang out when we are there and can look out that window and sit on the radiator as much as they like.

We visited several friends while we were up there including Keegan, who took us with some other friends to The Golden Bee restaurant and bar at the Broa.dmoor Hotel where there was a piano player who played and sang by request. The piano player even did the song from “The Ha.ngover” movie, which I didn’t know, but everyone else did. They sell regular drinks there but also sell tall drinks by the half yard and yard and the glasses for those come with a stand so that you don’t knock them over. Nate had a half yard, which was plenty, and we sang along with his friends to the songs (they even provide you with a lyric book with about 100 selections or more in it).

We also went to visit his friends Jeff and Stephanie and their son Stone in their new rental on the very north side of town. After a long haul to get there (they used to live 3 blocks from Nate’s parents) we just ended up watching a movie on Netflix.

Finally, we visited with Robin and Billy at Billy’s house for New Year’s Eve and had fun with their friends. The girls played on the Wii while the guys played cards and whatever guys like to do.

While we were up there we had a chance to do some shopping that I had been waiting on for a while, you know, to get the things we can’t get here. We went to Penz.y’s Spices. I received a gift basket from Penz.y’s for our wedding from my boss and loved what was included in there. Penz.y’s does have a website and a catalog, but it’s nothing like going to their store and I have known for a while that they have a store in Colorado Springs. I have only run out of one thing since we got the gift package (it was huge with a lot of rare and hardly used spices), the cheese sprinkle that Nate puts on everything…literally everything. We found out the hard way that you shouldn’t throw out the bottles because they sell refill bags of some of the more popular spices, so we bought a small (their largest) bag of it and an empty bottle to re-fill with it. That should last him a while. I got some other random things that I wanted to try too: spicy taco seasoning sprinkle and seafood bullion, to name a few.

We also managed to get to a yarn store while we were their so I could get some supplies and some natural fiber yarn. To my surprise, the proprietor was a man and he was knitting some fingerless mittens for his granddaughter in-between helping customers. The place was sort of hopping for a small yarn store, there must have been 10 customers in the small place when we arrived. The owner was very knowledgeable and helped me pick out some new books and some new needles. He is even going to mail me a book that they didn’t have in stock.

Since I knitted Nate his monkey hat, he has had so many people ask him about it and where he got it that I decided to start a small business knitting hats, starting with making many of the monkey hats. I need to learn to crochet too because I simply think that would be helpful, I would also consider it a personal feat to be able to teach myself to crochet (that’s the book I’m waiting on).

So, until next time, I’ll be knitting hats and cooking food. I’ll leave you with this picture (if you haven’t seen it on Fac.ebook already).

His new favorite hat

 

-Michele

Christmas Part II

After breakfast and presents, we headed back to Zach and Mary’s for lunch/dinner on Christmas Day. Wyatt and June must have been good this year because Santa came to their house that night and left presents…noisy ones (purchased at Target if I remember correctly our activities on Black Friday) including a pretend guitar that plays REAL music….loud. Once the volume control was located on these toys, the day got a little more mellow.

The turkey was purchased a little late, so it turned out to be chicken for dinner on Christmas. They cooked so much faster though and look just like turkey anyway. Side dishes included mashed potatoes, mashed sweet potatoes, Mary’s homemade stuffing, and of course the obligatory canned cranberry sauce.

After our late lunch/early dinner, I may or may not have taken a nap on Mary’s couch. Later, Mary and I took the kids to the park while Zach and Nate watched a movie. It was warm enough to go, but cold enough to make my nose run, so that didn’t last very long.

We decided to play Ca.ndyland with the kids, but that didn’t last very long either due to playing with a 2 year old. So instead we played manca.la when the kids eventually went to bed. Nate and I called it an early night so that we could get home to feed the dogs.

All in all, it was a very relaxed Christmas. I don’t think that will last until New Years though because we are traveling after all. We are headed up to Colorado Springs to visit with Nate’s family and will probably visit with Robin while we are there too.

Only some loafing around

And some goofing around

OK, more than a little goofing around

-Shells

Christmas Day

Merry Christmas Everyone!

We did Christmas in New Mexico this year. Christmas Eve was spent with our friend’s Mary and Zach and their two kids Wyatt and June. We enjoyed Mary’s homemade spaghetti and meatballs and my homemade chocolate mint chip cookies and peanut butter cream pie. Although the kids refused to eat the homemade cookies, instead opting for O.reos (who could blame them), but that’s ok, more for me!  For entertainment, we watched Wyatt and June dance to a game on the Wi.i, June worked up such a sweat she insisted on dancing in just her diaper.

Chocolate mint chip cookies

We went home before 9 to make sure we could get to bed early before Santa came. When we woke up, we found that sure enough Santa did come, however, his elves and reindeer must be on vacation this year because he decided to use Amazo.n and U.PS this time around. He piled the gifts under our homemade Christmas trees, so we decided to put them back so that you all could see what we got. Somehow, he knew just exactly what we wanted! He must have gotten our letters. He must also have known that we all got a cold because he left cold medicine in our stockings.

Magazine Christmas Trees

Christmas Tree topper from a co-worker

Opened presents under the Tree

We rounded out the morning with a homemade breakfast. I experimented with my new crepe pan (Thanks Santa, aka Matt and Alyssa…we think…there was no name attached to this one) and came up with a meal that would rival something you could order at IHO.P.  Breakfast included cream cheese stuffed crepes with apple topping. It is my take on a combination of several recipes I found online.

Single Plate of Crepes

One for me, one for Nate

The goodness found inside!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Recipe for Chocolate Mint Chip Cookies

Use standard Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe, but substitute 3/4 cup cocoa powder for 1/2 cup of the flour. Add Ande.s mint chips for baking instead of the chocolate chips (use the whole bag) makes about 55-60 cookies, oh and skip the nuts in this recipe. I had to cook for 10 minute because you can’t tell when they are brown like you can with regular cookies.

Recipe for Apple Topped, Cream Filled Crepes (can’t be made totally healthy but there are slight alterations made based on what we had)

Crepes:

1 cup Bisqui.ck (we use Heart healthy version)

1 cup Milk (skim preferably)

2 eggs (local, large, organic cage-free)

Beat all ingredients together, scoop 1/4 cup of the mixture into a crepe pan (I used Pa.m just in case), cook on low for about 1.5 minutes or until batter seems cooked/dried, flip and cook for another 1.5 minutes. Store in pancake/tortilla keeper (thanks Santa…aka mom), makes about 6 crepes

Filling:

1 premade vanilla pudding cup (sugar free)

1/3 of an 8 oz block of cream cheese (low fat)

1/4 cup heavy whipping cream (no alternative)

2 Tbsp butter or margarine (smart balanc.e buttery spread)

Melt butter in small pot, on the stove, add whipping cream, soften cream cheese in microwave and add to pan, cook on low continuously stirring until cream cheese is mixed in (will still be lumpy) remove from pot and combine in separate bowl with pudding. Set aside to cool.

Apple topping:

2 large apples (I used red delicious)

3 Tbsp butter or margarine (smart balan.ce buttery spread)

1/4 cup brown sugar (no alternative)

1/2 Tbsp cinnamon (I had Penzey’s spice baking spice)

Peel, core and cube apple. Melt butter in pan, add brown sugar and spice, stir until brown sugar is slightly dissolved. Add apples and cook (cover if you like) on medium-low until apples are soft.

How to combine:

Spoon 1/6 of filling onto the center of each crepe. Fold crepe over just under half way and use fingers on outside of crepe to spread cream along the inside of the crepe. Fold over again and leave seam-side down on plate. Line all three up on plate. Top with apples and the sauce from the apple pan. Add a small amount of sugar free maple syrup (if you don’t have enough liquid from the apples. Enjoy!

Let me know if you decide to try any of the above and how they turned out.

-Shells

First Post Jitters

I decided to start this blog to keep my family and friends up to date about the goings on in my life and in my house. I’m certain I can find things to post about. There are some nerves about starting a new blog and whether or not I will have enough to write about.

I like to be creative and artistic and my house and my cooking are my outlets for art and creativity. My new pinterest account has given me so many ideas, I just hope that my house and my husband can handle my new source of inspiration.

New years day seems the typical time to start new things, but why not Christmas day this time around?

Stick around and see what we get into around here.

-Shells