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Monday, January 26, 2015

An Expiration Date on Fame

I hate to break it to you but chances are whatever fame you earn in your lifetime will probably last about four thousand years (give or take a few centuries).

Jean Shepherd, author (and narrator) of A Christmas Story said:

Can you imagine four thousand years passing and you're not even a memory? Think about it, friends. It's not just a possibility. It is a certainty.

Makes you think.

As time goes on we might be able to glean a new historical figure we've yet to discover, but really, 4k is about right.

Most of us can probably claim 15 minutes of fame, some epic moment in our lives when the eyes of more than a few thousand people were upon us at once. It's even more likely now with the rise of You Tube.

I've had several 15 minute epochs. Maybe even enough to fill an hour. With any luck, I might have a few more before I'm dead and done.

Will it last four thousand years? Probably not. I doubt I'll even be a footnote in an electronic catalog. And who will care?

Seriously. How much do we care about Enmebaragesi of Kish, the earliest known ruler (verified by archeological records)? How about the sculptor, Praxiteles, circa 300 BC?

Praxiteles was probably a rock star in his day. Much like Genghis Khan, Amerigo Vespucci, and Mozart, mavericks and trail blazers.

It's only when historical figures get closer to our own timeline that we begin to create an emotional attachment to them. Reading about the death of Alexander the Great (my personal crush) does not move me one way or another. But reading about Steve Irwin's tragic death upset me greatly.

Steve Irwin was within my timeline. Alexander the Great might have been more famous, but Steve meant more to me as a person. Each person who knew him, remembering and speaking of him prolongs his fame.

So fear not if you find yourself NOT famous in the traditional sense. Most of us will get at least 15 minutes. Some of us might even get a little bit more. Just remember, nothing lasts.

You're famous only for as long as people remember you. You might be nothing more than a name written into a family bible, or a name on a book cover. But every person you've touched, physically, emotionally, or intellectually gives you one more chance at immortality--or 4000 years, whichever comes last.

Do you dream of fame? Fleeting or long term? I prefer the fleeting kind. The lifetime fame comes with too high a toll on privacy. I like the anonymity of a job well done, discovered only after a brief two-page Google search.

Just spell my name right and remember that I rescued stray dogs, a few friends, and one husband.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Hard Part

My good friend, Marguerite Butler commented about my Mad Skillz post on Facebook, saying meat eaters should know how to butcher and cook a chicken. Fewer people would waste food if they knew how much effort goes into something so simple as a chicken.

That statement prompted today's post. 

I don't like killing anything. Anything. Even killing a scorpion fills me with remorse. I do it because those sons-of-a-gun hurt like crazy. I don't want them stinging my dogs, let alone the husband.

Part of homestead living requires killing at some point. It's something I don't discuss much on this blog because I imagine many people can't handle the truth. 

It's incredibly hard to separate emotions from what needs to be done to feed your family. In the US (and I'm sure in every other modern nation) we are so far removed from the actual killing and processing of meat, fish, and poultry that we're conditioned to believe that the hamburger we're eating started its life in a piece of plastic wrap.

What Marguerite said struck a nerve. If we knew firsthand what was involved, we'd be less likely to waste food.

It's a rare thing for food to go to waste at my house--especially if it's food we grew/raised.

When it's time to kill an animal I always say a prayer, thanking it for its sacrifice and wishing it a safe journey. It might sound stupid to you but it means a lot to me. The animal had no choice. It was an animal born to feed my family. The difference is we give it the best possible life while it's alive and kill it swiftly and cleanly.

If you've ever seen some of those secret videos of commercial slaughterhouses, you'll know why we go through so much trouble.

Now I know some people are incapable of ever killing an animal to feed himself. Many generations have passed since we last had to raise, kill, and cook food from the hoof.

This isn't a blaming post. It's no one's fault if the average person can't bring himself to kill his food. The logistics alone defies even trying. So many people live in apartments, homes with zero yards, or zoning that prevents any farm activity at all.

Still, I wish schools would offer the option of teaching kids how our ancestors lived, if only for a day. I'm sure it would offend far too many people, alleging animal cruelty, all the while forgetting how the lunch they just had really got on their plate.

My earliest memory of home butchering was watching my grandmother slice a young goat's throat. My mother was horrified that her child had witnessed such a thing and hurried me away, but even at that young age, I was fascinated. For the first time I made the connection between animals and the food I ate.

Thoughts? Do you feel we're too far removed from our food source? Would you ever send your kid (or yourself) to a farm to see how animals are raised and butchered? Are there other solutions to commercial slaughterhouses?

You can see Marguerite's reply to this post here

Monday, January 19, 2015

Mad Skillz

I read an article a few weeks ago about all the skills we should have by the time we're thirty. They were simple things like how to change a tire, paint a wall, or sew a button. But it had more challenging skills like how to administer CPR--and (gulp) swim. Something I will never be able to master.

I suppose their list was all well and good, but it could be better. Every generation loses valuable life skills. Unless we make a concerted effort to learn them on our own, that information could be lost forever.

You can argue that kids today are so computer literate they can create entire apps that will show you how to do CPR--or call the auto club when you have a flat tire, but what would you do if your smart phone was dead?

Copyright: <a href=''> / 123RF Stock Photo</a> What if you were without power/communication for days? Weeks?

And don't think it can't happen. It happened to us. 21 days of pure apocalyptic agony.

Here are 10 things every person should know by the time they're thirty.

• Cook an entire meal from scratch...and from memory.
• Know where your electrical, gas, and water main is located--and how to turn them off.
• Start a fire. Then try it without matches.
• Splint a leg.
• Navigate North, day or night.
• Know how to bring a child's temperature down.
• Recite one poem by heart.
• Recognize and identify poisonous plants like poison ivy. (Learned that one the hard way!)
• Grow one edible plant. Extra points if you grow staples like beans or potatoes.
• Write at least one love cursive. (Neatness counts!)

What other skills do you think we should have mastered by the time we're adults?

If technology stopped working today, how long would you last?

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Frugal Cookery

Since it's been too cold to do much work outside, I've concentrated on cooking. 

I've done "freezer cooking" before but it was mostly me making packaged meals for Greg to take back with him. Now that he's home, he not only helps me with the prep work, but he's been going online to find new recipes for us to try. It's been fun.

The one thing I changed about how I cook, especially if it's going in the freezer, is to make smaller portions. This helps in two ways.

Smaller portions is better for the waistline, and it stretches the food dollar farther.

Before, I used to store packaged meals in plastic or glass containers. Now I buy small aluminum disposable pans (with lids if I can find them). I can reuse them at least a couple of times before they lose their shape and I have to toss them.

This frees up my valuable glass containers and the aluminum pan can go from freezer to oven.

I buy the multi-pack aluminum pans at the dollar store, but keep your eyes open for sales at bigger grocery stores too.

Cooking out of the freezer and pantry has been a good training ground for me. I'm learning where I had enough of one item or not enough of another. For example, butter. I regularly buy butter on sale and freeze it, but I forgot about getting unsalted butter for certain baking recipes.

This has also been a good primer on what I need to grow in my garden. Right now the only thing growing in the winter is rosemary, kale, bok choy, spinach, onions and garlic. I definitely need to grow more herbs and spinach. I ran out too soon.

So what have I been making for freezer meals?

So far it's been enchiladas, lasagna, sausage & pepper casserole, and pot roast. My good friend, Melissa McClone sent me to Stockpiling Moms for more great freezer recipes.

Greg also made a Chicago style deep dish pizza the other night that was HEAVENLY! Both of us grew up in Chicago so we know a thing or two about good pizza. This was definitely one of the best I've ever tasted. I doubt this pizza will ever see the inside of a freezer, but maybe next time we can do a few mini pizzas to freeze while the big one is baking.

Pizza baked in a cast iron skillet

If you have to be stuck inside because of the weather, try making some freezer meals. You'll be glad you did for those days when you're too tired or too busy to cook.

Have you ever tried making freezer meals? Do you have a favorite standby recipe that you can whip up in a jiffy?

If you'd like to try Chicago style pizza, here's the recipe Greg used. The only things he did differently was add crimini mushrooms and onions, quickly sauteed in the grease where I cooked the hot sausage. I also jazzed up the sauce with dehydrated tomatoes from our garden and extra spices. It was amazing!

PS  I sent the expense spreadsheet I talked about recently to several people. If you asked for it but haven't received it, email me and I'll send it again. 

My email has been playing footsies this past week. There's a chance a few outgoing and incoming messages are lost in limbo. You can always try Facebook or my gmail address if all else fails.

Monday, January 12, 2015

How to Be Interesting

I've often been accused of leading an interesting life because I follow the road less traveled. I don't do it for the novelty or even for the honor of eccentricity. It's just me, odd since birth.

There are other ways to be interesting. People who read widely are interesting. People who write are notoriously fascinating though often inherently reclusive.

Those with special talents, or those who travel are interesting. I can listen to them for hours.

But the real secret to being interesting is far simpler. Dale Carnegie said it best with: “To be interesting, be interested.” 

We, as a society are smitten with ourselves. We're everywhere with selfies, emailing photos of our 'junk', and sharing things on Facebook that I wouldn't tell a priest.

It's too much, especially for (very) public consumption. I think this is why so many people come across as monotonous, or at least boorish. 

It's even worse for people in business. Social media feeds us a daily diet of self-absorbed crapola and calls it networking. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Networking in its purest form is about what you can offer, not take. It's an organic form of communication with no obligation to trade tit for tat. 

In a recent post, Barbara Wright asked in a comment: How do you tell a guest they must be interesting?

You can't go wrong with Dale Carnegie's advice above. 

My tips:

• Ask for a proposal and then approve (or decline) the post idea. It's your blog. You call the shots. If the post turns out boring, you become the cheese for allowing it to appear. If it's awesome, you shine for having such good taste in guests.

• Offer your guest blogger a specific topic if they can't come up with a good one on their own. Who knows your readers better than you?

• Never, ever allow them to monopolize your blog with an advertisement. Hand-waving used to be the norm, but it's fallen out of favor. You can talk about a book without resorting to cheer leading...unless of course your book is about cheer leading.

My number one rule is is to always put my readers' interests first. They're the reason this blog exists.


Who's the most interesting person you've known? What made them interesting?

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Spending Confessional

Three weeks ago, Greg and I started an expense journal. I wanted to use a notebook and jot down our expenses, but Mr. Excel Spreadsheet wanted to see a running total and created a spreadsheet instead.

I'm glad he did. It made a huge difference. Had we just kept a running list, we wouldn't know our totals (and details) until we tallied it up. This way, I know exactly how much we spend, down to the category. Knowing the problem is half the solution.

To be fair, Christmas was probably the worst time to start a journal. The holidays are not reflective of a normal spending week, but putting it down in black and white put everything in perspective.

The first week was a wash. We had continued eating out like we normally did (which was always excessive). We also shopped for gifts and the fancy foods we'd planned for our feasts. 

By the second week, I was putting stuff back on the shelves and rethinking priorities. Knowing it was going on the spreadsheet kept me from buying anything superfluous.

Eating out was kept to places where we had coupons or gift cards. Now into our fourth week, we don't even think of eating out unless we know we're going to be out all day. As a matter of fact, our spending has dwindled to a fraction of what I originally allotted. How's that for putting us back on track?

We've been cooking at home a lot. I even spent two days making freezer meals that I could take out for those days when I'm just too pooped to do anything but turn on the oven.

Greg's been experimenting with bread making and I've been making soups. Here's a photo of my French onion soup. It's incredibly satisfying, especially with a hunk of bread and Swiss cheese floating in the bowl.

It was humiliating to learn how weak we were with our spending. Neither of us minded when we had regular paychecks, but now that we're on a strict stipend, every little expenditure comes under scrutiny.

My personal Waterloo comes when I go grocery shopping. I only shop for fresh foods and bread, but I haven't had the strength to walk out without first purveying whatever's on sale. It hasn't blown my allotted budget yet, but it came close.

Ironically, our biggest setback didn't come by our efforts, but by our health insurance. They raised the premiums by almost two-thirds, which goes to prove that even the best laid plans can be thwarted by outside forces. 

In the end, the spreadsheet has been a godsend. It forced us to reevaluate our needs and rein in our vices. It's easy to see how people can get into trouble. We weren't even trying to play fast and loose, yet it was easy to spend when the increments were small. 

And that was my biggest discovery. If it had been a big purchase, we both would've screeched to a halt, but as I look at the spreadsheet, most of the numbers are tiny, which is why we never noticed them before. It all adds up.

If you use Excel, I can send you a copy of our spreadsheet formulas if you'd like to try tracking your spending too. Even if you do it for a week, I guarantee you'll never look at your spending the same way again.

There'll be a future post on how we trimmed our spending, but I'll cover that later.


In other news: Stacy McKitrick has a new book coming out and I had a little something to do with the cover. Presenting, BLIND TEMPTATION, a vampire story with a twist.

If you've never visited Stacy before, check out her blog and books.

Have you ever tried tracking your expenses? Was Christmas expensive for you this year? Where do you think the majority of your money goes every month? 

Ours used to be gasoline, but that's been slashed in half since Greg came to live with me again. Dining out was definitely our 500-pound gorilla in the room.

Monday, January 5, 2015

I'm a Border Collie on a Mission

I started 2015 by cleaning house, literally and figuratively. With Greg home, my house seems to stay in a perpetual state of tornado-induced chaos. I don't mind if the tradeoff means he's home. ...but if you visit, call first!

I have boxes and boxes of things for this spring's garage sale. As I go through the house, I'm boxing anything I haven't used in over a year. I've emptied drawers, closets, and checked all the nooks and crannies where I store hide stuff.

Clean slate. That's my mantra this year. If it's not useful, beautiful, or beloved, it goes.

Then I attacked my blog feeder. 

I was shocked! Dozens and dozens of people had stopped blogging. If they hadn't blogged in three months or more, their blogs were deleted from my list.

The other cuts were to bloggers who did constant promo. I don't mind the occasional advert, but as a reader, I want to read about interesting stuff. Stuff they learned, the skeletons they discovered, or new adventures they're attempting.

I didn't cut too many, but if they never bothered stopping by my blog and theirs was a daily rendition of 'buy my book', I gave them the Marie Antoinette haircut.

2015 is the year to be interesting again. Blog about the stuff that makes you, YOU. If you allow guest posts, insist your guests be interesting.

I plan to blog at least twice a week from now on. Probably Mondays and Wednesdays.

This Wednesday, I'm going to talk about the expense journal I started and the humiliating discoveries I made about myself. This thing punched me in the gut. If I was a drunkard, I'd be stone sober right now, instead I'm just black and blue.

I took down my Christmas tree over the weekend. The house looks so sad now. I drove Greg crazy with the way I stored stuff. You see, I have specific boxes for each kind of decoration and room. It just makes life easier when it comes time to bring them down again. 

Greg calls me Mrs. Sheldon (a la Big Bang Theory). Nana is also a Sheldon. She can't stand things not going in a certain order. That's the border collie in her. Maybe me and Sheldon are really border collies.

Are your lights and decorations down? Are you a "Sheldon" when it comes to storage?

Stop by and see me Wednesday. Maybe I can convince you to start an expense journal even for a week. It's an experiment you won't soon forget.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Christmas Feasts to Savor

 How was Christmas?

Ours was quiet, but we were together as a family and that's all that matters. I made Greg's favorite holiday meal. Rib roast. 

The day before, we were at a friend's party where she outdid herself with a cornucopia of delights. Ham, shrimp, shredded pork and three tables full of appetizers, finger foods, and desserts. 

But did I remember to take a picture? No. I was too busy eating or talking with their dog, Ozzy.

So here's a picture of our Christmas dinner. We had rib roast, scalloped potatoes, peas, brussel sprouts, homemade yeast rolls, and pie. Not to mention all the candy and cookies friends and neighbors dropped off for us. Any perceived diet have hit the skids for the holidays!

Rocket Raccoon bringing down the roast beast.

Check out the Christmas tables (and scenes) from some of my other friends around the world. Your mouth will water with what everyone else planned for their feasts. 

Pop in and introduce yourself on their blogs. Let's end the year on a friendly note.

If you'd like to share your pictures, leave your blog link and I'll add it to this post. I hope you all had wonderful holidays. Did anyone get anything special this year?

Saturday, December 27, 2014

How Was Your Christmas?

 Did you take pictures of your holiday spread?

Let's share them. Before or After pictures welcomed. Just email me your blog link (by Sunday, December 28) and I'll post the links here on December 29th. 

Email me at writingweb1ATargontechDOTnet.

What did you get for Christmas this year?

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Don't Forget to Take Pictures of Your Christmas Spread

Join us for our mini blogathon. We'll show off our Christmas spreads on December 29th. Pick up your blog badge here.

Monday, December 22, 2014

NORAD Tracks Santa

You might have noticed (at least in the US) that occasionally tv stations break in on December 24th with bulletins about Santa's whereabouts, reminding kids that they'll have to be in bed before he arrives.

NORAD stands for North American Aerospace Defense Command, a joint military organization between the US and Canada. It identifies and defends against airborne threats. But did you know how it came to track Santa?

 It's hard to imagine such an important organization concerned with Santa. Yet they take their job seriously, reporting when their radar spots Santa and tracking him as he goes around the world delivering presents. In one of the videos (on their web site) they even give him fighter escort.

But how it started was a complete fluke!

In 1955, Sears department store had placed an ad in the Colorado Springs newspaper and had listed an incorrect phone number for kids to dial and talk to Santa. Unfortunately, the number was for CONAD, the predecessor for NORAD.

Colonel Shoup was on duty that night and he did the most remarkable thing. He told his staff to give Santa's current location, and thus began a tradition.

Today, manned by both military and civilian volunteers, they handle calls from children all over the world. NORAD has used tv, radio, newspaper, web sites, and even Twitter. I usually miss the bulletins, but the weather reports of nearly every station almost always includes an update from NORAD on Santa's current location on Christmas Eve. 

Another noteworthy thing about this operation is that it is NOT paid for by tax dollars but by corporate sponsors. 

So look for bulletins from NORAD. Santa is on his way.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Monday, December 15, 2014

News Flash!

 The husband and I are still on speaking terms.

Honest to dog, I thought for sure we'd have some knockdown, drag out fights now that we're living together again, but it's been quite the opposite.

In a way, we're a little lost. A little disoriented. He still thinks he has to rush off to work, and my routine is like a wobbly wheel. I never know which direction my day will take.

Don't get me wrong. It's a unique and liberating feeling. We do as we please, when we please, but there's no structure yet, no routine. We've been told by others that it'll take at least six months to get used to our new life.

We're still spending more money than I'd like--or maybe I'm just more aware of it. Every time Greg looks at something shiny (read: expensive), I have to remind him we're on a strict budget.

Maybe once we're seeing regular stipends it won't feel so dire. Our expenses have been cut in half since he moved back, so I'm not sure why I'm so anxious when it comes to spending on trifles. Guilty conscience, I suppose.

I've suggested we start an expense journal to see where our money goes every week, and he's agreed. If I can see the numbers in black and white, maybe it will ease my stress.

The biggest surprise for me is that I haven't felt the need for more alone time. Ha! Quite the opposite. We try to spend as much time together as we can. He helps me cook, clean, and feed animals. And get this--all without me asking him to help. I was in shock the first time he volunteered.

Despite the fact we're both intolerable A++ personalities, we really enjoy each other's company. I hope it's always this much fun.

So how are the holidays treating you? Are you finished Christmas shopping? My Christmas cards were supposed to be done last night, but they're still staring me in the face this morning. No help from Greg on this one.

Why are greeting cards always left to the wife to write? Any theories?

I'm 99% sure this blog will go through an evolution come 2015. You can expect to see more topics on homesteading, saving money, and the business side of publishing. (My three passions.) If you have any other suggestions, let me know.

Are there any changes in store for you in 2015?

PS  if you see the word verification in the comment box, ignore it. It's just a glitch. Your comment should post whether you type it in or not. At least that's been my experience on other people's blogs.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Oh, Christmas Dog!

Sorry I disappeared last week. On top of being in mourning (and not being very good company) we had house repair issues, and tech problems with my internet. All in all, a difficult week.
Nana is ready to decorate!

A new week is a new beginning though, so I bring you a taste of Christmas at my house including our resident goof, Nana. 

This is the first Christmas in years that I've had the chance to decorate a big tree. Most years Greg was either gone or I was traveling.

We are minus one beloved dog, but we made sure his picture was up on our tree.

Christmas trees are tricky to photograph. Unless you're a professional photographer (and I'm not) I don't think most people can capture the true beauty of their trees. There's too much to see and it's only when you see it in person can you appreciate all the tiny artwork.

My trees are a little like treasure hunts. There are the main decorations, the jewelry of the tree, but I also tuck in little keepsakes in between the boughs of the tree. My favorite part is when people find my secret treasures. It's like looking at a well known painting and finding a surprise detail that you never noticed before.

Greg wanted colored lights this year, and I chose soft gold and red as the main color palette. For the rest of the decorations, I opted for nostalgia and remembrance as my theme. Pictures of many of my past fur babies were placed in little frames. Ornaments and keepsakes that I've collected for decades finished the look.

The tree topper is probably the oldest ornament in my collection. It's almost 40 years old. It's simple, even cheesy, and terribly fragile, but every year I dutifully wrap it in tissue paper and bubble wrap and encase it in its own metal box. It was the first ornament we ever bought as a couple.

I'd like to think it's not the quality of the decorations but the memories they bring with them that counts.

Is your tree up yet? Do you have one treasured item that goes up year after year?

Don't forget to take a picture of your holiday table for our mini blog hop on December 29. Grab a badge and invite your friends to show off their holiday tables too. Just email me your blog url if you want me to send people your way.

Monday, November 24, 2014

State of the Homestead

I won't lie. Things still aren't normal around here since Tank passed away. We keep seeing him in his favorite spots and we'll break down and cry when we hand out his favorite treats. The other dogs have been so sweet. They seem to sense our deep sadness and try to cheer us up, giving us kisses and hugs. Of all the dogs, Iko misses Tank most. They were very close.

We mope a lot. I hadn't had any desire to go online though I've tried to answer emails and personal messages. Thank you for that guys. Your heartfelt condolences meant a lot to both me and Greg.

All these babies are gone except for the big guy in the middle.

In an effort to get back to the world of the living, I'll start out with a homestead report.

Garden: We wuz robbed! I try to keep up with weather changes. I knew the polar vortex was going to hit as far south as Texas, so Greg and I covered several beds of tender veggies with sturdy tents of heavy plastic. I ran out of plastic so I dug up the few remaining pepper plants in a last ditch effort to save them.

The polar vortex was harder than the plastic cover could endure. ALL the plants died. Now I wish I had tried to put them in pots. I especially hated losing all my tomato plants that were full of plump, but still green tomatoes.

The onions, garlic, strawberries, bok choy, and beets survived without any protection and did just fine.

The hard freeze lasted almost a week but we're back to the upper 60s again. Generally, we don't get real cold here until January and February.

Chickens: The Marans will head for the big chicken coop in the sky within the next couple of months. I just have to make room in my freezer. Despite our best efforts we haven't stopped them from eating their own eggs, so they'll have to go. 

Come 2015, we'll probably incubate some eggs from the black Australorps. The hens are getting a little old and they'll need to be replaced next year. They're good chickens. Calm, friendly, and good layers. The Marans on the other hand are all a little schizoid. I should've put them in the freezer months ago.

Rabbits: We've had no luck at all procuring another blue New Zealand. I've decided to settle for another breed until the right one shows up.
Freestanding hay manger
Goats: I finally let the boys run with the girls. I might as well. I think the bums did the dirty deed back in October when Greg fed the animals for me. He didn't secure the latch to the locked position, and goats being goats, they figured out how to slide the latch open. My gut feeling is that two of the three girls are pregnant, but I won't know for sure until their udders fill up.

When they were set free, the boys chased the girls (as boys do), but once the girls started ramming them with those sharp, pointy horns, they finally settled down.

Greg built me a hay manger. It holds almost an entire bale of hay and is off the floor so it doesn't take up any more space. Goats are notorious for wasting hay and we hope this will slow them down.

Future Plans: We're thinking of moving animals around. Greg saw a friend's layout for a chicken coop/run that looked like a luxury resort for chickens. We'd like to start moving more of the animals to a centralized location so we'll build the new chicken cabana near the goats.

The rabbits in turn will move into the existing chicken coop and run. It's built like an aviary so no predators can get in. It'll give them more room to move around and allow them to have their babies in a more natural environment. Since the enclosed yard is big enough, I might also grow some miniature trees or grapes under the protection of all that fencing.

This Thursday is Thanksgiving in the US. We plan on having a quiet holiday this year, but I'll still put out a big spread, enough for man and dogs.

Don't forget to take pictures of your holiday table. I'd like to do a fun blog hop to show off everyone's holiday table on December 29th. I even created a blog badge for the event. Here's the original post with the details.

Feel free to take one of the images below for your blog. If you can't copy it, email me and I'll send you the jpg.

What will you be serving for the holidays? For Thanksgiving, we usually have turkey but since we'll be alone this year, I'll be serving duck. For Christmas I found an excellent recipe for rib roast. The trick is to find a roast that won't break the bank! 

What are you serving this year?


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

RIP, Tank

We said goodbye to our angel yesterday.

One last smile for his daddy.

Tank took a turn for the worse yesterday morning. I knew it was his time. He probably would've died on his own the next day but we didn't want him to suffer. He meant too much to us for that.

We adopted him ten and half years ago from a rescue group. He was a lanky two-year old with a head too big for his body. Oh, but how we grew to love him. You couldn't help but fall in love with him.

Although his very appearance could scare the bejeebers out of you when you first encounter him, he was the sweetest, kindest, and most compassionate soul you could ever meet.

He was first and always Greg's boy. I'm so glad he hung on until Greg retired. They had many plans for midday naps and raiding the pantry for snacks. I wish they could've done more of that.

It's eerily quiet at my house. Tank was the quiet one but for some reason all the other dogs have suddenly gone silent. No one is barking or rabble-rousing. Each of them have taken turns sleeping on Tank's bed, even Nana, who prefers to nap from the high perch of the couch. 

It's as if they're grieving too, or maybe they're sensing our immense sadness. It's hard for me to even grasp the words to describe our heartache.  

Tank was the best of dogs and he's left a giant hole in our hearts. He lived far longer than anyone expected despite being riddled by tumors and severe arthritis. A trooper to the end. Happy until the end.

Rest now, my baby, and wait for us.

Everyone is keeping vigil with Tank until it's time for us to go to the vet.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Show Me Your Table

One of the perks Greg received after working 40 years with his company was a very generous gift award, good for a huge catalog of things.

For himself, he got an Ipad Air and one of those fancy, schmancy ladders that contorts into all sorts of heights. He bought me a balance ball chair and a food processor. What money was left he exchanged for restaurant and retail store gift certificates.

Anyway, today I want to talk about the food processor. I'm always suspect of small kitchen appliances, but I was greatly pleased with this one. It's a Cuisinart Prep 9-cup

It's got a heavy duty motor that chops, slices, and purees without any effort at all. I love this thing! I made coleslaw the other day and it was absolutely flawless. 

Later, Greg made homemade peanut butter. While most machines struggle and overheat when crushing peanuts, this one did the job like a dream. It took Greg longer to clean the machine than it did to make the peanut butter.

In short, if you're looking for a food processor, I can recommend this one. I'm so glad we got it.


With the year winding down, I've noticed that blog and Facebook posts are becoming fewer and thankfully less promo-happy. I guess everyone is gearing up for the holidays.

With that in mind, I think I'll stick with my current schedule until January when I'll go to twice a week posts.

In the meantime, I thought of something that might be neat to do. This year, I plan to photograph our Thanksgiving and/or Christmas meals (whichever turns out nicer). Would you guys be willing to join me in doing an impromptu blog hop showing off your holiday table?

You don't have to write anything, just show off your spread in pictures. I thought we could post them to our blogs on Monday, December 29.

If you want to join, leave a comment (with a contact email) or email me privately with your blog url. On December 29th, I'll link to each of your blogs here, on Facebook, and Twitter.

I love to see how people eat and entertain so I hope you'll join me. Who's with me? Will you share your holiday table?

This doesn't have to be limited to us. If you have friends who want to join, point them over here and we'll have a big smorgasbord of holiday pictures to share and inspire us on December 29th.