Friday, April 17, 2015

Old World Stuffed Artichokes

I have my children in mind for this post.  They all love stuffed artichokes so I need to explain exactly how to make them.  They may have a problem getting their spouses or children to eat them, but who knows, maybe some day each of them will try.

This recipe is for one artichoke.  I'm at a point where I don't measure when I cook, so the measurements will be approximate.   This is for you C, Ch, R, and S,

1 fresh artichoke.  If the leaves are wited, skip the artichokes that week.

With a sharp knife cut the stem off as well as the points of the largest (tallest) leaves.  Then strip off (by hand) the first outer layer of leaves.  Use your thumbs to open up the center, pulling outward to stretch the center open to receive the stuffing.

*One cup of bread, cubed.  Day old bread is the best kind to use.
*1/4 t salt (hopefully pink salt)  If you increase the recipe, don't increase this as much as the other ingredients.  One half to three quarters teaspoon for four artichokes works well.
* Pepper to taste
* 1/4 stalk of Celery cut in small pieces
* 2 T onion, cut in small pieces
* parsley to taste
* 1 1/2 t olive oil - a splash more for the water they cook in
* 1 T butter

Mix all of these ingredients together, well, except the butter

Stuff the dressing in the center of the artichoke.  If you have too much you can stuff some between the leaves. 

Place the artichokes, upright, in an appropriate sized pan.  Fill the pan with water a bit lower than the center (half way up the side of the pan.) of the upright leaves - about 2 C.  Put a splash of olive oil in the water.  Place a pad of butter in the center of the stuffing and cover the pan.  Cook on medium high for 40 - 60 minutes.  WARNING:  The water will dissipate.  Check it every few minutes and add more as needed.  They're ready when a leaf easily pulls out.

Remember to eat only the lower soft part of the leaves.  Discard the part in the center that is prickly,then savor the 'heart'. (Bottom center portion.)

Enjoy and don't forget a napkin.  You know how messy your hands can get.   ( I filed this under 'artichokes' so you don't have a difficult time retrieving the recipe.)

I was so hungry that I forgot to take a picture until the
artichoke was half eaten.  Of course I tackled the stuffing

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Fine Tuning the Organizational Plan

This past week has brought to my attention small areas that needed better organization.  I re organized the files and removed the plastic tabs on the folders.  Maybe it's me, but they never seem to face the same direction plus my handwriting has always had a lot to be desired.

Last week when I went to the dollar store I picked up a package of white labels designed for use on file folders.  I went through each file and removed the plastic tab replacing them with a label placed in the top left corner.  Consistency.  I need consistency.  I feel that I'm being a bit obsessive about organization, but I'm preparing for a time that I may not be as sharp mentally as I currently am.

I'll have to make it a point to remember to grab before pictures
of things.  The tabs were really ugly, but I'm loving this system with
just the labels on the front of the folder.

I told that to my daughter last night and she exclaimed that she hates those plastic tabs, too.  So, I'm not the only one.  Or have I passed down a gene that she may be angry about in the far future?

I also went through the kitchen drawers thinking I would donate anything that I haven't used in a year.  There was nothing I don't use.  The sore spot is the utensil drawer because it seems to be so crowded and messy.  There are dividers in it, but it still didn't seem to be working well.  The small change made in there - after a good cleaning - was the division of items.  Items not used often went in one section, bulkier items, such as the can opener, went in the second section, and commonly used items went to the middle section.  Measuring cups and bulkier items were placed in front of the long dividers.

One of the changes I made in the utensil drawer was to [lace bulky
items going in the opposite direction.  This appears
to be using space more effectively.

The towel drawer is small so I found a way to make space while adding more items in by folding the towels used to dry dishes in fourths then standing them up rather than laying them down like I have for all these years. 

The towels are folded in half, then in half again.  The ends
are brought up to meet in the center, then again.  The two towels
in the front left are the ones I got at Marshall's for 1.50
each.  A great price for a good quality towel.

I moved on to the laundry room displeased with the number of items that were stored in there.  I have a large coat closet that has plenty of hiding room in it so I moved the steam mop and Swiffer in there as well as the drying rack.  It amazes me that it took three years to figure that one out.  Success sometimes takes time, I told myself and moved on.

The laundry room is not glamorous, but it's clean and
functional.  This is where Marley eats, too.

If you remember from a previous post I made a commitment to check out new items at the dollar store each week since one never knows what could be lurking on those shelves.  I'm keeping the commitment.  I found a loaf of Jewish rye bread from an artisan bakery that quickly went into the basket since it was the only one left.  I also found those little clear rubber thingies that are put in a soap dish to save the soap from wasting.  Double sided tape and a nail file cube went in there as well.  The hauls are small and not too exciting, but the weekly trips are very helpful for staying within my budget.  I've waited years for the nail cube because I wasn't willing to pay four or five dollars for one.  I had no problem going without one. 

The seedlings that are in the window are doing well and appear to be growing strong.   The new to me heirloom melon seeds that a friend sent me 3000 miles across the country are a major focus this year because it's the first time I've grown them.   It'll be interesting to watch their maturing cycle.

This tray holds a tomato, marigolds, and a melon plant.

Happy looking tomato plants.  I culled out the weaker ones.

On the left are cucumbers and to the right are melons.

The sun is peeking out so I need to get moving in the garden to remove those tiny pesky weeds.  Remember, if you don't pay rent, you don't live here!

Stay safe.

Friday, April 10, 2015

What a Gorious Day It Is!

Today's weather can be described as fabulous.  A nice breeze with warm temperatures.  No humidity just glorious sunshine - most of the day.  The olive tree and lemon tree have spent the day in the backyard.  I just brought them in because there is a small threat of rain.  I just watered them so they don't need to be in a rain shower.  I also know there was rain last night because the soil in the garden has been splashed up on the contrasting color fence.  Dirt tends to stick out on a cream colored fence.  LOL
Both of the trees were cropped when they were transplanted into larger pots.
The lemon tree has grown a number of new leaves that
are growing outward.   All of the mature Myer lemons trees I've seen are more
bush like than tree like.

I know this looks messy, but I can't wash it down just yet.
The soil already has enough water in it.

This morning was a lazy time as I went across the street at a WAWA to grab a breakfast sandwich.  They're 2/3.00 and made from good ingredients.  All real food.  They own their own dairy farm and use the products from there in their stores.  I ate one and will save the other for another meal.  (OK, the pup and I ate one!)  

The gas is always the lowest price in the area, as well.  In case you want to know, never grab gas when the truck is there filling the tanks.  The action of filling the tanks raises up any debris at the bottom of the tanks and can goo up your gas tank.

I pulled weeds this morning after inspecting the veggies.  The parsley is going strong as is the garlic.  Things like this make for a nice beginning to the day.  I put down landscape cloth behind the blackberry bush to discourage weeds and kill off the ones that are there now.  I can reach the other garden on a daily basis to weed it out, but this side goes back too far.

The blackberry bush has produced an off spring. 

The big pot I want to grow tomatoes in is now in the front yard filled with soil, peralite, egg shells. and compost.  I can see now why compost has been referred to as black gold.  I'm amazed at how the food and leaves I put in the bin last year has morphed into black soil.  Simply amazing!

The egg shells and compost waiting to meet the soil.  I've done everything
I can to provide a healthy environment for the heirloom tomatoes this year.
I'm hoping for a successful season.

I bought this pot when I moved in three years ago.  It was a good investment
because it has stood the test of time.

The Red, White, and Blue now proudly waves at the front of my home.  I have to say these past few years have been rough on our country, but the people I know have persevered and have come out strong.  Of course, the ones I know can be just as stubborn as I am.  Everyone has a good attitude and a strong belief system in place which gives them the fortitude to move forward determined not to fail.  Most everyone has adapted a simple life style embracing the free things in life rather than accumulating material 'stuff'.  I'm proud of our success, but in the secret chambers of my heart I wish more people would see what's truly important.  All in good time. 

The greenery is coming to life just in time to welcome summer.

Isn't she a beauty? 

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

It's a Cloudy Day in the Sunny South

Today is a catch up day for me.  The clouds are fully covering the sun so I've had to turn a light on near the seedlings on the window sill for light.

I went to the grocery yesterday to pick up a few items that were on special.  Nice sized strawberries went in the cart.  When I say nice size I mean they are not huge and scary looking.  They were California grown on top of the nice size and natural looking color.  Ninety nine cents bought a pound of them.

Asparagus was 1.67 a pound.  The stalks snapped with a crackle so I knew they were fresh.  To continue to keep them fresh they are in a cup of water in the refrigerator.  I also took advantage of the fresh green beans for .99 cents a pound.  Betty Crocker cake mixes were 1.00.  I bought two, but I've been thinking about cake mixes.  There's no reason I can't mix my own dry ingredients and put them in a vacuum sealed jar to keep them fresh.  I have a fantastic recipe for a chocolate cake that I'm usually too lazy to make, so I rely on a boxed mix.  This needs to change - soon.  I'll let you know what I come up with.

I can't help but notice the brilliant colors produced in nature.
The food is so appealing!

This morning I made organic deodorant - also from Annie's Simple Life on yoo toob.  It's waiting to solidify at the moment so I can scoop it into a deodorant container that has the labels removed.

6 T melted coconut oil
4T non GMO corn starch
4T baking soda
8 drops of essential oil ( optional )

Mix very well and let sit in the bowl to harden.  Scoop into an empty deodorant vessel. 

The recipe for this and the foaming hand soap was written on a recipe card and placed in my 1969 recipe box.

The deodorant mixture is almost solid.  It will mostly take a full
hour to solidify enough to scoop into the container. 

I made a salad for lunch using the first five spinach leaves from my garden.  I don't think a person can get fresher than that.  Speaking of the garden a row of radishes that I planted in the fall are just now showing their leaves.  I thought for sure they had died from the harsh winter.  Who knew?  Needless to say this was a pleasant surprise. 

It looks like a lot, but there are only five spinach leaves
on the plate.  Yummo!

I've also been de cluttering the house.  This morning the candle drawer was tackled.  I definitely have a problem with candles as I have way too many.  I gleaned out twelve after I asked my daughter if she could use them.  Thinking about why I collect candles then am afraid to burn them enlightened me.  There was a time -when medical bills were enormous - that when I did have a candle, I didn't burn it because I wanted it to last a long time.  Having even one was a special treat for me.  I have to train myself to use them now because I can buy one when I want another one.  Retraining a thought process can be difficult, but all things in life are relative.  I can easily do this with a bit of practice.

The votives in the lower right corner were a gift from my
number three daughter.  I kept those and will burn one a day
until I have mastered my fears.


Monday, April 6, 2015

A Blessed and Whirlwind Weekend

Good morning!  The weather is glorious in this part of the world which makes me want to build a bridge - that's how much it energizes me.  Instead of building a bridge, I'll most likely stick close to home and work in the garden.  Saturday was nice, too.  This is a picture of me on Saturday.

I went crazy cleaning and scrubbing the floors.  I got down on my bum and washed the living room floor by hand.  It's amazing how we think things are clean until we get a bird's eye view of them.  There wasn't much dirt because the floors get steamed on a regular time table, but the corners were hiding all sorts of things like little pebbles and Christmas tree greens.  I only found one tiny spider trying to create a new condo home, but he went the route of the one I found in the window when I washed the bedroom window.

Then I cleaned and organized the refrigerator and freezer because I couldn't find the cookie dough balls I froze a few weeks ago.   The cookies were made and the asparagus soup was completed for dinner.  I did find makings for pizza in the freezer so I thawed those out for a nice addition to the soup.

A head of lettuce was waiting to be washed, dried, and put into jars, so I got right on that, as well.  I washed the lettuce in cool water and added a teaspoon of vinegar to the water to kill any bacteria that could linger behind, then sealed it in a jar to preserve it.

After that I got out the home made orange cleaner and cleaned the counters and sinks in the house.  It's difficult to remember what else was cleaned, I only remember I just kept going.

Note to self.  Stop and rest once in a while.  You are no longer young enough to move all day and half the night.  The pain in my body woke me up at three AM and had me  close to tears.  Since big girls don't cry, it finally dawned on me to take some aspirin.  The pain reduced enough to continue sleeping after being awake for one and a half hours.

Easter was a fun day for all of us.  We went to lunch at a local pub, eating on the deck.  The restaurant is on the Inter Coastal Waterways so the scenery was great.  There was a dock off of the deck so, of course, we had to take the kids down there to get a better view of marine life.  The only 'life' we saw was three fish that washed up and never made it back to the water.  The eldest grand spotted a few barnacles on the dock leg for excitement.  Lunch was went down easily and time went by in the same way.  We left to go to number four daughter's house after two hours of yakking and munching.

I stopped at home to grab the kids' Easter baskets, the dog, and change into my jeans before I took the short drive to her house.  The kids played in the yard then sat to color two dozen eggs.

I was surprised to see my daughters both made up a little bag for me.  I'm the simple sort so they popped simple things in the bags for me.  I received home made pickled eggs (from their father's recipe), sunflower seeds, a pretty pen and table of paper, among other small items.  Did I mention Peeps?  Oh yea, they had to be in there, too. 

When I left her house I had intentions of going home, but drove the short distance to the Dollar Tree instead.  I found an entire box of (6 count) my favorite protein bars.  I hope my excitement didn't disturb anyone.  Those who love the dollar store know that the items in there can be there one day and never seen again.  You bet I grabbed those bars!  I considered it my lucky day when I found one lone roll of my favorite wrapping paper that I use for Christmas gifts.  The kicker is it's Made in the USA!  I picked up some bubble gum for when I have the feeling of needing sugar, as well as more grosgrain ribbon and stickers for file folders.

The protein bars are peeking out in the top left corner of'
the picture.  The ribbon looks yellow, but it's cream colored.
I like basic colors so they can used with colorful papers.

I best get myself out to the garden to grab those little weeds that think they can live in my yard.  You don't pay rent, you can't live here! Ha!

The seedlings enjoying the spring sun light.

PS:  Thank you, Bob, for the song - There Will never Be Anyone Else But You, by Ricky Nelson.  Big girls DO cry.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Helpful You Tubers and Carolyn LaRoche, Author

It's not true what they say about teaching old dogs new tricks.  Yesterday I learned from two young mothers on you tube.  One is Annie's Simple Life.  Ann has been trying some new things she finds on the internet.  She tries them out and gives a report on how well the experiment works.  In this video she made foaming hand soap from organic castile soap that worked well.  You can see how she does it here:

Hillary of My So Called Home is also a young mom who has an interest in keeping her family and budget healthy.  She often purchases clothing from a site called' twice'.  Twice pays you to highlight gently used items that they sell, shipping included.  There is a comprehensive list of manufacturers they accept so there is little room for error.  If I remember correctly, Hillary buys and sells on the site.

Since I have just purged my closet, I have had a shipping packaged mailed to me.

You can see what deals Hillary came up with here:


Both of these ladies are sweet and helpful to anyone who desires to learn new things.

Good luck and let me know what you think.

It's also worth a mention that my daughter's new book is released on this morning - in e format or print.  Titled 'Undercover in Six Inch Stilettos', by Carolyn LaRoche, it offers the reader intrigue and romance that is sweet between a cop and his wife.  This is her second published book, with two more accepted.  You will love this captivating read.

You can catch an excerpt and an author interview here:

Stay safe.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Easter Baskets A Short Post

 I'd like to show you the frugal Easter baskets I made up for the grandchildren before it slips my mind, again.  I put them together yesterday and am happy with the results.

Cost analysis:

Baskets:  3/1.00 (Total 1.33)

Gum:  6/ 1.00
Russell Stover bunny:  1.00 each
Reeses's Pieces:  1.00 each
Russell Stover marshmallow eggs: ( for the 2 year old) 1.00
Jelly Bellies:  I can't remember LOL
Suckers: .25 cents
Tissue paper liner:  1.27   
TOTAL:  12.85 plus the jelly beans

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Recent Accomplishments

(Somehow this post went up before it was completed.)

Life has been a bit slow this week so there's not much to talk about.  The one thing that happened was my daughter and her family came home from California.  There was a death in my son in law's immediate family, so they were on the opposite coast for quite a while.

Today I have an appointment in the afternoon and Marley has her annual check up tomorrow afternoon.

I have accomplished a few things this week, nothing earth shattering, though.  My seedlings are being babied and sprayed with water twice a day and  the windows have started getting their spring cleaning.  I started in the bedroom and will clean one or two a day.  Since they need a thorough cleaning I will clean them one at a time.  The lower part pulls out and into the house for easy cleaning, but I'm not sure how to clean the outside of the upper windows.  I'm thinking the hose needs to come out with the sprayer attached.  There's time to figure it out.  On the very first window I cleaned I found a spider already thinking it wanted to take up residence in my home.  No!  He now has joined his relatives in dead spider space.  If you don't pay rent, you don't live in my house!  Simple as that.

The asparagus I purchased for this week was washed to remove any 'debris'. (did I spell that correctly?)   Some will be cooked up for dinner, then a portion will go to make soup.  The rest will be frozen in a food saver bag for a future meal.  Meanwhile I'll work on eating the fresh green beans and radishes I bought for this week.

Breakfast came late this morning because I wasn't hungry earlier.  A hot bowl of oatmeal and half a bagel will tide me over until mid afternoon.  I'll have my big meal of the day then and a small meal of fresh veggies and peanut butter toast later in the evening. 

Oatmeal is one of my favorite meals.  The bagel is just added adornment!

When we go out to eat at a restaurant I eat so much that I'm filled for most of the day.  But, at home I stick to three meals a day.  My goal is to stay as healthy as I can because I want to be around for my grandchildren to know they were loved by me.  Those thoughts build confidence in a growing mind and body.  Our children didn't have input from their grandparents, as distance separated us.  I'd like to be a part of my grandchildren's life if for no other reason than to reinforce the love that their parents give them on a daily basis. 

For the grandchildren that are separated from me by distance I send cards and talk to them on the phone, then visit once a year.  I'm proud of all of them and love them dearly.

All of the bedding was washed and sprayed with lavender fabric spray this week, as well as the normal two loads of clothes that get washed each week. 

I will also need to return a couple of items to Pier One.  This is what happened.  I watch a couple of ladies on yoo toob.  They are fantastic ladies with quite a gift for decorating.  And their creativity sparks my interest.  I thought I can do that with some inspiration.  Well, no I can't.  I figured out that my style is more cozy than chic.  My style is 'less is more' where their style is 'more is better'.  For them it works.  For me, not so much.  I'm more of a down to earth person, not so glamorous as these ladies are.  I still love to watch their videos, but for entertainment purposes only.

I found I'm most comfortable with clear space than
surfaces covered with multiple items.

The tub area will stay the same.  I have all that I need to be comfortable
when I take a bath. (vs. a shower)

I also de-cluttered a couple of areas in the bedroom.  I don't wear a lot of jewelry so I will be giving some of it to the one daughter who does like adornments.  She also wears the same size shoes I do and can choose what she wants before I donate what I can no longer wear - or need to wear.  Most of the shoes are from my work life and were rather expensive.  I would be embarrassed to say there are quite a few of them so none have experienced heavy wear.  There IS one pair that just could not be parted with -yet.  They are my power heels that I wore to special meetings or after work events.

These are the favorites in my closet.  I have no where to wear them these
days, but I will hang on to them a while longer.

What have you accomplished this week?  Don't be shy.  Share with us!

Stay safe.