Wednesday, November 9, 2016

October/November catch-up post

So, we took Dad down to NC for his birthday at the end of September. I can’t handle many more of these trips. Between my health issues & my insane parents, they’re just too hard on me. We left shortly after I got off work Friday morning & I drove all the way to Burlington. At that point I had been up 27 hours and needed a break, so I let Mom drive. I forgot that she cannot drive and read road signs at the same time, and made the mistake of falling asleep for 20 minutes. That’s all it took for her to take the wrong damn exit in Raleigh (due to road construction) and turn our 16 hour trip into a 20 hour one. We wound up in Little Washington and having to drive back down to Jacksonville because she wouldn’t pull over and let me resume driving.

Anyway, I spent Saturday sick as a dog and mostly asleep. Sunday we went over to see Uncle John & it was decided we should go to the State Seafood Festival in Morehead City. That’s when we learned that Uncle John flatly refuses to ride in a car with Dad anymore. He says it’s because they’re the last 2 Spencer men and there wouldn’t be anyone left if there was a crash. So I had to ride with him (he also wouldn’t let me drive, and yes, his driving is a bit unnerving) while Mom & Dad followed in their car. We got there and the parking situation was dismal. Anywhere that we could find space was still too far away for Dad & Uncle J to walk, so we cruised the strip and then decided to head back for Jacksonville. Uncle John was concerned that we’d lost Mom, so he drove about 10 m.p.h. and created an even bigger traffic jam than there already was until she caught up.

Oh, and we went out to see the Montford Point Marines memorial. It was really nice- I took quite a few pictures on my phone and will post them as soon as I can figure out how to get them onto this device.

We were supposed to leave Jacksonville mid-morning on Monday so that we’d have time to get to the Philly Deli in Wilmington & have lunch with Sandra. We got a late start due to Aunt Myrtle deciding (at the last minute) to go to dialysis. (She also held up the old folks getting together Saturday for the same reason) We wound up following them over to say our goodbyes and THEN she wanted to chat.

We finally got underway to Wilmington, but were way late. Sandra’s car was DOA & Brandon (her son) didn’t want to pick her up from work and bring her over to join us for lunch, so we called in an order for Mom to pick up and take to her while Dad & I stayed at the restaurant so he could visit with everybody. We went ahead and ordered, because she was only supposed to be gone 20 minutes. Our food arrived, along with Brandon (what a surprise) and no sign of Mom. Dad finally insisted I call and find out where she was. She’d started yakking with Sandra and didn’t realize she’d been gone over an hour. So now we were 3 hours off schedule and still had to stop for Dad’s fish. He was so pitiful- “we don’t have to stop for fish if you don’t want to, and I don’t have money for a lot anyway.” Like I was going to take him down there and not let him get a cooler of fish & country meat. (we got his meat Sunday) I had saved money out for his fish, so he didn’t need to worry about that.

Don’t ask me what time we finally got back to Louisville. Or how many times we had to stop on the way back. My father is the king of telling us he needs to stop AS WE’RE PASSING THE DAMNED REST AREAS. I (VERY RELUCTANTLY) had to give up and let Mom drive again, but not until we were well into Kentucky. There are no exits on I-64 for her to take by mistake, so we did finally get to Louisville without too much hassle.

Let’s see, what else? Saw my doctor and he was appalled to discover that my thyroid hormone levels had dropped even more since my last visit. I asked him how bad it was and he paused for a minute before saying that I should probably be catatonic instead of as functional as I was. So that medication got doubled & I go back to see him in January. It does explain why I’m still having fatigue issues though, so that was helpful.

Oh, the little punk that broke into my house got caught breaking into another house. Unfortunately for him, he was caught by LMPD, and even more unfortunately it was AFTER his 18th birthday and by a pair of officers who had backed West Buechel up on the call to my house. So he got a one-way trip downtown to the big-boy jail. Heh. The little bastard got to spend the weekend in jail because his momma couldn’t come up with his bail. My heart just bleeds for him…

Discovered a new snack (that I really shouldn’t be eating) when we went to Costco the other day. Golden Island Korean Barbeque Pork Jerky. It’s good stuff and surprisingly tender for jerky! Dad even liked the sample, although it was still a bit too hard to chew for him.

I may as well tell you this last bit. Had another adventure in medical drama & Mom driving on Friday. We’d gone out for breakfast after I left work. Something I ate decided to disagree with me and I wound up having a hideous acid reflux attack about 20 minutes after I’d gotten home & gone to bed. I’m already on Rx strength Prilosec twice a day for reflux, but decided to try a dose of Alka Seltzer since Prilosec does nothing for immediate relief. It worked for about 10 minutes and then I started vomiting. And then the chest pain started. (relax- I did NOT have a heart attack) Since I knew what those symptoms could be indicative of, I didn’t want to risk driving myself to the ER. I also didn’t want to call an ambulance as I’m still paying off my thyroid surgery. So I stupidly called Mom & said I needed a ride to the ER. I didn’t go into detail because I didn’t want her or Dad to panic.

Now any sane, rational parents would think “hey, the kid that normally has to be dragged kicking and screaming to the doctor just called me for a ride to the ER. We should hurry.” Not my parents. They took their time getting dressed (they’d gone back to bed after breakfast), diddling around, and finally showed up at my house almost an hour later. Good thing I wasn’t bleeding to death. Then Mom wanted to take the surface roads instead of the Interstate because “I’m not comfortable on that exit with this kind of traffic.” I was trying to stay calm in case it WAS a heart attack, but that sent me screaming over the edge.

Anyway, after an hour of being poked & prodded, they determined that it WAS just an acid reflux attack. The chest pain was caused by a hole in my esophagus that allowed acid to leak into my windpipe and down to my lungs. So I was pumped full of antacids & antibiotics (and a GI cocktail- lidocaine & milk of magnesia- that was seriously foul tasting, but blessedly killed the pain after about 5 minutes) and sent home. I’m now on Rx strength Pepcid along with the Prilosec, and a couple of other things that I don’t recall off the top of my head.

So that's my current life. We've spent the evening watching the election results at work & I think life with President Oompa Loompa is going to exceed the limits of my medication. Tried to check the Canadian immigration website & it had crashed. I'm still seriously considering leaving. We'll see what happens.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Life goes on...

I'm still here. Still posting (or not, as you've seen) from my tablet, so this will be brief.

1. Removing myself from Facebook was one of the smartest things I have done in a long time. I miss the contact with quite a few of my friends, but it has lowered my stress levels considerably. I may resume at the end of the year, but will be leaving the remainder of my fangirl groups as not being obsessed is working well for me. Also, I gave gotten a LOT more reading done.

2. Was anyone surprised that the British Twit & the Toxic Twat didn't make it past the end of the summer? No, I haven't renewed my interest in him, but the breakup story was everywhere. I did, however, laugh my ass off.

3. New love of my life. One of the younger grey cats in the feral colony has a kitten. She is the most adorable little thing! She's so cute when I see her tumbling around in the yard. I am able to pet her & pick her up- Mama knows I'm friendly- but I don't do it too long so that she & Mama won't get nervous. I'm hoping to bring one or both of them indoors once she's a little bigger. Not sure how Shady & Boo will feel about it.

4. Guess this should have been #3. Remy got out after my last post. He'd escaped once before & it took me nearly 2 weeks to find him. It only took 2 days this time. I went straight to the neighbor whose yard I found him in last time. Sure enough, he was lolling in their window. I rang the bell & we talked about it. They begged to keep him. He & Boo had never been separated before his first escape, but they both seemed to be quite happy apart. In fact, Boo beat the hell out of him when I brought him home the first time, and was quite nasty for several days. So I let them keep him on the condition that he gets returned to me if something happens & they gave to give him up. In the meantime, Boo has turned into quite a cuddlebug.

5. In a moment of insanity, I agreed to drive my parents to NC again for Dad's birthday. And once again had to sic the union on my bosses to get a freaking Friday off. You'd think they'd learn after the last *3* times, but nooooooo... The Major that the union rep talked to was disgusted. "She's asked for 3 Fridays in the last year and a half and they think *that's* unreasonable?!? And she's had to file a grievance each time?" I'm sure it's a coincidence that the Hamster is suddenly being sent to management training classes, but it does make you wonder...

OK, this was more than I meant to type & I'm getting a headache squinting at this thing. More later.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Back again for a moment

Quick catch up list, semi-regular posting to resume later.

1. Deactivated my Facebook account. I was spending too much time online; it was feeding my unhealthy mental issues (see previous post about obsession); and the political posts on all sides were just getting too ugly.

2. Have gotten rid of just about everything I had dealing with the British actor who I can no longer stand the sight of. That's not quite true- I was going through my devices to delete pictures of him and felt nothing. Not joy, not hate, not even sorrow- it was just "why do I have so many pictures of this guy?"

3. My house was broken into while I was at work. This will be a future blog post. The asshole got away, but I suspect he won't ever try it again. A LOT of officers tend to show up when you break into a police employee's house.

4. The feral cats are getting bolder. Several let me pet them, albeit briefly, now.

Ta-ta for now!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Making My Bed

How normal people make the bed:

Put clean sheets on bed, find something else to do afterward.

How I make the bed when one or more of the cats decide to help:

Remove cat from basket of freshly laundered sheets.

Find fitted sheet.

Remove cat from mattress.

Get first corner in place, move cat to get at second corner.

Try to get third corner. Move cat. Try again.

Move cat. Start tugging sheet to make 4th corner fit. Move cat.

Reach for flat sheet. Remove cat from laundry basket.

Shake sheet out, see that the damned cat is on the bed again.

Drape sheet over bed & cat. Laugh as cat panics and begins to do laps between the sheets.

Remember that cats are vindictive little assholes & likely to pee on bed. Pull sheet back for cat to escape.

Cat then lounges in center of bed.

Remove cat. Attempt to spread sheet out neatly. Remove cat.

Grab comforter. Tuck under arm and remove the fucking cat from the damn bed again.

Shake comforter over bed. Of course the brain dead cat is back in the center of the bed.

Watch cat do another set of laps before pulling it out and gently tossing it out of the room.

Stuff pillows into cases. Arrange pillows around the misbegotten little beast that is back on the bed AGAIN.

Remove cat. Keep tucked under arm as you leave the room & close the door. Put him down & realize his brother is nowhere to be seen.

Open bedroom door and see other fucking cat lolling on bed.

Weep bitter tears of rage & resignation. Scream in frustration, and watch BOTH cats flee.

Silently thank lucky stars that third cat is still outside and NOT ON THE DAMNED BED.

Monday, June 20, 2016

End of An Obsession

Breaking my silence to address a stupid issue that shouldn't be one. But first, a little background:

A lot of people don't know this, but I am an extremely high-functioning autistic woman. I have Asperger's, to be precise. I wasn't officially diagnosed until about 7-8 years ago. A then-friend had a less high functioning son and a lot of what she described him experiencing sounded oh so familiar. She had suggested that I might have the same condition, which I took with a grain of salt for reasons I won't go into.

Anyway, I was seeing a therapist for work related stress issues and something made me bring it up. The therapist agreed that I might be on the autism spectrum and sent me to a colleague for testing/evaluation. Yeah, I am. In retrospect it seems like someone should have seen it sooner, but the doctor explained that I probably have been mimicking "normal" behavior most of my life in an effort to be like everyone else. "It wouldn't have worked if you were less intelligent &/or less high functioning. But you got so good at it that it became a way of life for you. To be honest, I'm amazed that you've been able to cope at this level for so long."

I *tried* to share this information with a few select friends & family. The general consensus was that I "let this friend put ideas in my head" and "there's nothing wrong with me." So I generally keep it to myself and try to continue carrying on.

Among my many issues, are the problem that I take things way too seriously & I get obsessed with people/things. (Not to the point of stalking anybody or wanting to kill them if I can't have them, I just get too emotionally invested) I also take things personally that aren't meant to be. Combine all this with the bipolar disorder that I inherited (did I mention that I'm a walking fucking mess?) & you have a recipe for disaster.

So, as you may have seen from other posts (if you've followed me or if you're a FB friend), one of my obsessions in recent years has been the actor Tom Hiddleston. He's British, gorgeous, has a voice like melted sin, and just seemed too good to be true. I loved that he hadn't "gone Hollywood" and wasn't a media whore,constantly promoting himself. Tom came across as a gentleman, a scholar, a compassionate man who did a lot of charitable work without making it seem like he was in it for himself. He was also more or less single, or at least kept his relationships quietly under the radar...until recently...

A few months ago, Tom attended the vulgar display known as the Met Ball Gala. It's one of the most excessive "look at us" celebrity things out there. I was kind of disappointed because I felt he was better than that. Pictures surfaced of him dancing with Taylor Swift- ugh. My uneasy feeling grew stronger. She had a boyfriend at the time, but I just had a feeling...

Sure enough, her relationship ended almost immediately after the ball. And very shortly after that, she & Tom were pictured making out on a beach, traveling together etc. I felt like I'd been stabbed in the heart. Why? Partly because she is known for hopping from guy to guy & writing songs about them when they crash & burn. Her life looks like a carefully crafted series of photo ops designed to keep her in the public eye. It doesn't help that he's hot, career wise, right now and she had largely fallen off the radar except for posting vacation pictures from her 1 year anniversary with her now-ex, until she took up with Tom. I don't know her. I was actually a sort of fan of her music (which I can't bring myself to listen to right now) but I suspect she isn't quite nice girl she makes herself out to be. Doesn't matter, it's none of my business.

Yet...Tom isn't blameless here either. I don't think he chased her, but it just bothers me that he took up with her so soon after her breakup. It made me realize he isn't quite the good guy I wanted him to be. (Again, part of this is my idealizing him, and is not something I can blame him for) It also hammered home the point that I would NEVER have a snowball's chance in hell with him if I ever did meet him as he seems to have a thing for young, skinny blondes (first Elizabeth Olsen & now this) which is something I can never be. The fact that he's allowing himself to become part of Taylor's media circus just hurts, because he wasn't like that before. Or was he?

Anyway, that metaphorical dose of cold water hit me, hard. Too hard. One of my coping mechanisms is to cut out/off things & people that hurt me. Not the healthiest reaction, but it's what I do. My first reaction was to quit every Hiddleston fan group I was in on FB, before I took myself off FB for a couple of days. (Not just because of Tom, there's some other stuff going on that may be another post someday, but constantly seeing him in my news feed was not going to help) I asked people not to post anything about this to my wall & in the group I started. (Which was marginally successful) Then I started the physical purge- I sold nearly all my DVDs that he's in, threw out the magazines with articles about him (including the GQ that ironically has Taylor on the cover), deleted most of my stored photos, and am planning to give away the pillowcases & pictures I have of him. (Yeah, obsessions are a wonderful thing)

I'm keeping (with reservations) my Loki collection for now. I can differentiate between the man & a character he portrayed, and I still love the character. I'm not displaying any of it right now as my emotions are still a little raw, but I'm not quite ready to give those things up.

I don't hate Tom. I just don't love him right now. I want him to be happy & have love in his life. I don't think this is the way it's going to happen, but it's not my business. I have to give him up now for my sanity, such as it is. I have an amazing group of online friends that I met because of him, and will always be grateful for that. I hope we'll be able to maintain those bonds now that I've given up on him.

So yeah, there it is. Roundabout babbling, but the end of my obsession in a nutshell.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

I seem to have missed April...

If anyone is out there reading this, I apologize for the lack of updates. I can no longer update the blog from work, and the tablet is a pain to post from. Semi-regular posting & Foodie Fridays will return when I have time to go sit at the library.

So, what have I been doing in the 6 or so weeks since my last post?

Well, the thyroid saga is FINALLY over. The last ultrasound showed the tumor had literally tripled in size and Dr. M said it had to come out. The surgery was April 18th. The good news is that he got it all out and it wasn't cancerous enough for me to need radiation treatment. The scary news is that it was pressing into my windpipe & vocal cord. They don't think I would have lived until the next ultrasound as it was growing so rapidly. I would have probably just fallen asleep & not woken up due to lack of air.

Anyway, I had 2 weeks off work, which my bosses acted like I'd done solely to inconvenience them. I pointed out that I could have scheduled it for Derby Week & they still would have had to give it to me per FMLA. The 29th was my first shift back, and it wiped me out. I was told to expect this for the next 6 weeks or so until the doctors get my hormone levels balanced out.

Back to the surgery for a moment. I've posted before about the panic attacks induced by having a mask on my face. I warned the nurses ahead of time, and the anaesthesiologist came in to talk to me. He said they couldn't totally knock me out beforehand, but they gave me a heavy sedative. They also had me bite this tube (it was what they hold your mouth open with to run oxygen tubes in once you're unconscious) and ran the knockout gas through that instead of a mask. Honestly, the last thing I remember is being told to "bite this and breathe deep!" It was great! No blood pressure issues, no blood sugar spikes, nothing!

Yeah, so that's pretty much been it for me. I still hate the people I work for & with. I've decided that life is too short to keep dealing with the stress from that office, so have resumed active job hunting. At this point I don't even care if I have to take pay cuts- it will be worth it to be free of those assholes & away from that toxic building.

More when I can post again...

Sunday, March 6, 2016

And it's March already...

Not much to report. Work is depressingly awful, my health is still sketchy. Mom & Dad are doing well though!

The tubby tabby boys are settling in nicely. They've taken to greeting me at the door when I come home from work, flipping at my feet to get belly rubs, and following me into the bathroom where they fight with Nightshade for my attention.

As you can see, they're BIG boys compared to my little Shady girl. She & Remy warned my heart when they peacefully shared a dish of gooshyfood, and then curled up in me for a nap.

I felt like I should eat a hot dinner, even though I haven't felt up to cooking all week. I compromised on this: pesto tortelloni in a jarred Alfredo sauce that I jazzed up with Italian sausage, peas, parmesan/Romano blend & some herbs. Here's the result, and Shady offering to taste test it for me.

More when I can get online again...

Friday, March 4, 2016


These are little bites of heaven. Being me, of course I want to add bacon to them, but they really don't need it.

Author: Little Spice Jar
Prep time: 10 mins Cook time: 45 mins Total time: 55 mins
Serves: approximately 30-34 bites

Caramelized onion bites with sautéed crimini mushrooms, balsamic caramelized onions, and applewood smoked gruyere cheese. Thee perfect little appetizers! They're made with puff pastry and take no time at all to whip up! These are the perfect appetizers to serve your guests this holiday season.


4 tablespoons salted butter, divided
2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
5-6 ounces crimini or button mushrooms, sliced
2 medium yellow onions, thinly sliced
¼ teaspoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon sugar
1½ tablespoon balsamic vinegar
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
salt and pepper, to taste
4 ounces grated gruyere cheese (I used applewood smoked gruyere)
1 package (1 pound) frozen puff pastry, thawed
1 egg, lightly beaten

In a large cast iron skillet over medium heat, heat 1 tablespoon of oil along with 1 tablespoon of butter. Add the mushrooms and sauté for about 5 minutes until tender. Remove and set aside in a medium bowl.
Heat the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter along with the 1 tablespoon of oil and sauté the onions for 5 minutes. Add the dried thyme and sugar and continue to cook for 25 minutes on medium low heat. Make sure to stir the mixture every 5 minutes or so. If the onions are caramelizing too fast, turn down the heat a little more. Add the balsamic vinegar to deglaze the pan, allow the onions to soak it all in. Turn off heat. Add the onions to the mushroom mixture. Season with the garlic powder and salt and pepper to taste, stir to combine. Allow to cool to room temperature. Mixture can be kept in an air-tight container and refrigerated for up to 48 hours at this point. Allow to come to room temperature before proceeding. Add the gruyere cheese and mix well.
Position two racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats.
Using a knife or a pizza cutter, cut the puff pastry into 2-inch squares and place them on a lined baking sheet. Make sure the puff pastry is cold before proceeding. If not, allow it to rest in the refrigerator for 10-15 minutes before proceeding. Using a pastry brush, brush the beaten egg on the squares. Place a tablespoon of caramelized onion mixture in the center. Bake for 20-25 minutes, rotating the pan halfway in between until crisp and golden brown. Let cool slightly before serving.

Make sure the puff pastry is cold when it goes into the oven. If at any point it becomes soft, allow it to rest in the refrigerator for 15-20 minutes or until it firms up again. Do not open the oven door during the first 10 minutes of baking time. Frequently opening the oven may cause the puff pastry to not 'puff up'.

Swiss cheese or mozzarella cheese may be used to replace the gruyere. I really like the smoky flavor of applewood smoked gruyere with these bites.

If you've prepared the caramelized onion mixture ahead of time, you can zap it in the microwave for 30 seconds to bring it back to room temperature quickly.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Foodie Friday- Pecan Pie Bites

Mmm. I love pecan pie. This is a good way to taken it with you just about anywhere, but without the mess that a whole pie generates.



1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
6 tablespoons Land O Lakes® Unsalted Butter, softened
1 Land O Lakes® Egg (yolk only)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup finely chopped pecans
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup Land O Lakes® Heavy Whipping Cream
1 teaspoon vanilla

Heat oven to 350ºF. Spray 36 mini muffin pan cups with no-stick cooking spray; set aside.

Combine 1/2 cup brown sugar, butter, egg yolk and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla in bowl. Beat at medium speed, scraping bowl often, until creamy. Add flour, baking powder and salt; beat at low speed until well mixed.

Shape dough into 3/4-inch balls; place each into prepared mini muffin pan cups, pressing dough onto bottom and up one-third sides of each cup, creating a shallow cup.

Combine all filling ingredients in bowl; spoon 1 teaspoon filling into each cookie.

Bake 13-15 minutes or until edges are golden brown. Cool 10 minutes in pan on cooling rack.

Remove cookies from pans by running small knife around edge of cookie. Place onto cooling rack; cool completely.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Foodie Friday: One-Pan Mushrooms w/Chickpeas, Caramelized Onions, & Kale

This is a tasty, one pan dish. I know I should try to do meatless meals every now and then, but I can't help thinking this needs bacon in it. (Shredded or ground chicken or pork would also be good) This can be either a main course or a good side dish.

One-Pan Mushrooms, Chickpeas, and Kale


To save time, slice the mushrooms and prep the kale while the onions caramelize. You'll already be in the kitchen to keep an eye on and stir the onions. For a slight variation, omit the chickpeas and top the combination of mushrooms, kale, and onions with a poached egg or two.


1 1/2 tablespoons neutral oil, divided
1 small yellow onion, diced
Kosher salt
1 pound wild mushrooms, sliced
1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas, or 1 15-ounce can, drained and rinsed
1 bunch dinosaur kale, ribs removed and torn into bite-size pieces
Balsamic vinegar, to taste
Parmesan shavings
1/4 cup roughly chopped parsley


Add 1 1/2 teaspoons oil to a large skillet; heat until shimmering over medium-high heat. Add the onion and a few generous pinches of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are golden brown and slumped — nearly but not quite caramelized — about 30-40 minutes. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons oil, the mushrooms, and a few generous pinches of salt, and cook until the mushrooms are golden brown, 5-10 minutes. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons oil, the chickpeas, kale, and a few generous pinches of salt, and cook until the kale is wilted, 2-3 minutes. Add a splash of balsamic vinegar to deglaze the pan and balance out the other flavors with its acidity. Season to taste with additional salt and balsamic vinegar. Garnish with parmesan shavings and parsley.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Foodie Friday- Pioneer Woman's Baked Fudge

So, my least favorite holiday is coming up this weekend. This is how I plan to indulge myself.

Delicious Baked Fudge

Prep: 10 Minutes Level: Easy
Cook: 50 Minutes Serves: 4

2 whole Eggs
1 cup Sugar
2 Tablespoons (heaping) Cocoa
2 Tablespoons Flour
1/2 cup Butter, Melted
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

Preheat oven to 300 to 325 degrees.

Beat eggs until light in color. Beat in sugar until just combined. Add cocoa, flour, melted butter, and vanilla extract. Mix gently until well combined.

Pour batter into four large ramekins or one 8-inch square baking dish. Set ramekins or pan into a larger pan halfway full of water.

Bake 40 to 50 minutes, or until upper crust is crispy and the rest of the batter is firm but not set. Toothpick should come out…not clean, but mixture should not be overly runny. If you pull it out of the oven and have second thoughts, stick it back in for ten more minutes.

Serve with sweetened whipped cream or vanilla ice cream; whatever makes your skirt fly up.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Foodie Friday: One Pan Cilantro-Lime Chicken & Black Beans w/Rice

Found here, this is an easy-peasy one dish dinner. I'm not crazy about the fact that it uses minute rice, so I'm playing around with ways to use better rice, but it is quick and still pretty tasty.

One Pan Cilantro ­Lime Chicken and Rice with Black Beans

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Yield: About 4 servings


1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts, diced into 1­inch cubes Coupons
1 Tbsp canola oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 green onions, chopped (keep lighter and darker portions separate)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups low­sodium chicken broth
1 (4 oz) can chopped green chilies
2 tsp lime zest
3 Tbsp lime juice
1 (14.5 oz) can black beans, rinsed and well drained
2 cups minute white rice (don't use regular rice!)
1/3 cup chopped cilantro


Heat oil in a large skillet over medium ­high heat. Once hot add chicken, season with salt and
pepper, and saute until cooked through, about 6 minutes, adding in lighter portions of the green
onions and garlic at last 1 minute of cooking. Stir in broth, green onion greens, green chilies,
lime zest, lime juice, black beans and season with salt and pepper to taste. Bring mixture to a
boil, add rice, fully immerse rice in broth, and allow to boil 20 seconds, then remove from heat
and immediately cover with a lid. Let rest 5-6 minutes.

If needed, return pan to medium heat and cook and toss 1 minute to allow rice to absorb excess
moisture. Remove from heat, toss in cilantro and let rest uncovered 3 minutes.

Recipe source: Cooking Classy

Monday, February 1, 2016

February, already?!?

Time flies. I wish I could say it was because I was having fun. We had snow finally. Two weeks ago we got about 2 inches. Then a few days later we got 4-6 inches. You'd have thought the apocalypse was coming. Then, the Monday after it snowed, the weather hit 50° and most of the snow was gone. Today, a week later it was 66. Why yes, we've all got sinus infections now.

I indulged myself with some post holiday shopping. Got rid of my Walmart cheapo coffee maker and toaster! Bought these shiny new babies to replace them! (Forgive the blurry photography)

The tubby tabby boys are settling in. They've been much more visible, exploring the house and trying to decide what to make of my Shady girl. There is still some hissing & growling, but there have also been moments of touching noses, eating side by side, and batting a rattle ball back & forth. They've also taken to occasionally hopping into my lap and sleeping for a bit.

Poor Nightshade isn't sure what to make of them, either. I've made a point of cuddling, petting, and talking to her so that she knows I still love her best.

Remy: (I think)


Well, that's about it for now. more later. Blogging will be a bit iffier than before as the new security measures on the work computer mean I have to do it all from my tablet. It's not the easiest way to go.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Foodie Friday: Cabbage Roll Soup

It's still on the chilly side, so soup is still on my menu. This one is pretty good, and a quick nod to my family's Stuffed Cabbage.

Cabbage Roll Soup
Yield: About 8 servings


1 Tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 lbs lean ground beef
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 large yellow onion, chopped (1 3/4 cups)
2 large carrots, chopped (1 1/4 cups)
5 cups packed chopped cabbage (16 - 19 oz)
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 (14.5 oz) cans low-sodium beef broth
3 (8 oz) cans tomato sauce
2 (14.5 oz) cans petite diced tomatoes
2 Tbsp packed light brown sugar
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 tsp dried paprika
1 tsp dried oregano or 1 Tbsp chopped fresh
3/4 tsp dried thyme or 2 1/2 tsp chopped fresh
2 bay leaves
3/4 cup dry long-grain white rice
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley


Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a large cast iron pot over medium-high heat. Add beef, season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring and breaking up beef occasionally, until browned. Transfer beef to a plate lined with paper towels while reserving 2 Tbsp of the rendered fat in pan (or drain off all fat and use 2 more tbsp olive oil), set beef aside. Add onion and carrots to pan and saute 1 minute, then add cabbage and saute 2 minutes, then add garlic and saute 1 minute longer. Pour in beef broth, tomato sauce, tomatoes, brown sugar, Worcestershire, paprika, oregano, thyme and bay leaves. Return beef to soup mixture. Season soup with salt and pepper to taste and bring to a light boil, then add rice, cover pot and reduce heat and simmer until rice is cooked through, stirring occasionally, about 25 minutes. Stir in up to 1 cup water or more beef broth to thin as desired (it will thicken as it rests and become almost like a stew), then stir in lemon juice and parsley. Serve warm.

Recipe source: inspired by Spending with Pennies and Simply Stacie

Friday, January 22, 2016

Foodie Friday- Pioneer Woman's Red & Green Stuffed Shells

Ree Drummond strikesagain. I never thought about adding a bechamel-type sauce to my basic stuffed shells, so I'm glad she did!

Red and Green Stuffed Shells

Prep: 15 Minutes Level: Easy
Cook: 1 Hours Serves: 12

1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1/2 whole Onion, Diced
1 clove Garlic, Minced
10 ounces, weight Fresh Baby Spinach (or a pkg of frozen chopped spinach, thawed & squeezed dry)
4 Tablespoons Butter
1/4 cup All-purpose Flour
2-1/2 cups Whole Milk, More If Needed
2 Tablespoons Chopped Basil
2 Tablespoons Chopped Parsley
Salt And Pepper, to taste
30 ounces, weight Whole Milk Ricotta Cheese
1 cup Grated Parmesan Cheese, Plus More For Sprinkling
1 whole Large Egg
12 ounces, weight Jumbo Pasta Shells (25 To 30 Shells) Cooked Until Slightly Firmer Than Al Dente
jar of your favorite marinara sauce


Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic, and saute until the onion starts to soften, about 4 minutes. Add the spinach and cook, stirring continuously, until it's slightly wilted, about 2 minutes. Remove the spinach from the pan and let it cool slightly, then place it inside a few paper towels and squeeze out as much liquid as you can. Give it a rough chop and set it aside.

Turn the heat to medium-low, then, in the same skillet, melt the butter and sprinkle the flour over the top. Whisk it together to make a roux, then cook it for a minute or two. Slowly add the milk, whisking out lumps as you go, and cook it until the white sauce is thickened, 4 to 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and stir in half the basil, half the parsley, and salt and pepper to taste. Add another 1/4 cup milk if the white sauce is too thick. Taste and adjust the seasonings.

In a separate bowl, mix together the ricotta, Parmesan, egg, the rest of the basil, the rest of the parsley, and salt and pepper to taste until combined. Stir in the chopped spinach mixture.

To assemble the shells, use a spoon to fill the pasta shells with the cheese mixture. Pour a thin layer of marinara in the bottom of your baking dish. Place the shells seam side down in a 9 x 13 casserole dish or disposable foil baking pan. Pour the marinara evenly over the shells, then ladle the white sauce over the marinara in a zig-zag/line design. Finally, sprinkle with more Parmesan.

Bake it in a preheated 375 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes, until hot and bubbly.

***To freeze, cover the unbaked shells tightly with heavy foil and freeze for up to 6 months. To bake the frozen casserole, place it in a 375 degree oven for 1 1/2 hours, then uncover and continue baking for 10 to 30 minutes, depending on how frozen it was.
***Thaw the pan in the fridge for 24 to 48 hours, then bake as directed.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Chat Noir & other odds and ends

What a bummer 2016 has been already. We've lost David Bowie, Alan Rickman, the man who did the voice of Disney's Robin Hood,Lemmy from Motorhead, anbd now Glenn Frey of the Eagles. I'm sure I've missed someone else, but honestly that list is too long as it is!

Amazon finally managed to get the rest of my Christmas presents delivered! I'm listening to Paper Gods now & I like it much better than Duran Duran's last album. I was going to watch Luther 4, but I'm not sure I can stay awake.

Oh yeah, I'm sick again/still. The below freezing temperatures here haven't helped, & the double I foolishly worked Saturday made things worse. I'm voluntarily going to the doctor tomorrow.

Nightshade & Boo are taking turns being cuddly when I'm on the couch. Remy is still a bit reserved. Shady & the boys haven't quite figured each other out yet- lots of hissing going on, and Shady smacked one of them on the nose for getting too close. Not bad for only living together 3 weeks. It took that long just to get Shady out from under the couch when she came to live with me!

Signed up for the Goodreads challenge again this year. The last few years have been squeaked by at the end, so I lowered the bar a bit for this year. I'm making a concerted effort to get back to doing things I love despite the CFS, and reading is the biggie. I'm off to a good start so far!

I'm not letting myself start a new cross stitch project until I finish at least ONE of the ones I already have going. Since I really want to start the Beauty & the Beast project that I got for Christmas, I've been working on Chat Noir. Here's the latest view:

I've finished the cat's body & have started the base. Not much more to go. I'm dreading the back stitching, but I think it'll look good once I'm done.

Until the next time...

Friday, January 15, 2016

Foodie Friday- Oatmeal Ginger-cream Pies

These are delicious with a steaming mug of your favorite winter drink.


1½ c. Rolled Oats
1 c. all-purpose flour
¾ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
¼ tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
¼ tsp. ground ginger
¼ tsp. salt
1 stick butter
½ c. granulated sugar
½ c. packed light-brown sugar
1 large Egg
Ginger Cream (recipe follows)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, with racks set in the top and bottom positions. On a baking sheet, bake oats on the top rack, shaking the pan intermittently to prevent burning, until lightly browned, 10 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack to cool, leaving oven on.
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and salt. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg. Add the flour mixture, beating until just combined. Stir in the toasted oats.
Fit 2 baking sheets with parchment. Roll dough, 2 tablespoons at a time, into balls, or use a #30 (1-ounce) ice-cream scoop; for each sheet, drop 12 balls 2 inches apart. With dampened hands, flatten each ball to a 1/2-inch thickness. Using the bottom and top racks, bake until cookies are lightly browned around the edges and set, 12 minutes, switching the baking sheets from top to bottom and rotating them from front to back halfway through baking. Remove from oven and let cookies cool for 5 minutes on baking sheets, then transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.
Frost the bottoms of 12 cookies with Ginger Cream, then top with the remaining 12 cookies.

Ginger Cream


8 oz. cream cheese
⅓ c. confectioners' sugar
¼ c. finely chopped crystallized ginger


In a medium bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Beat in the ginger.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Ashes to Ashes

This is one of the handful of celebrity deaths that got to me. Rest In Peace, my Goblin King.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Foodie Friday- Chicken & Kale Casserole

Here is another quick & easy chicken casseorle. You can use spinach or swiss chard instead of the kale if you prefer.


Coarse salt
ground pepper
¾ lb. pasta shells
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 large yellow onion
3 clove garlic
2 bunch kale
2 c. shredded or chopped cooked chicken
1 container part-skim ricotta
3 tbsp. finely grated lemon zest
¾ c. grated Parmesan


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta according to package instructions. Drain; return to pot. In a large skillet, melt butter over medium-high. Add onion and garlic; cook until onion is beginning to soften, 4 minutes. Add kale, cover, and cook until almost tender, about 5 minutes. Transfer to pot with pasta.
Stir in chicken, ricotta, lemon zest, and 1/2 cup Parmesan; season with salt and pepper. Transfer mixture to a 9- by 13-inch baking dish; top with 1/4 cup Parmesan. Bake until top is golden, 30 minutes.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Maybe It's Just Me

So, I've been checking out photography books from the library. The two I just finished flipping through were Modern Luxury Residences & Couture Wedding Gowns.

I don't get it. It's a good thing I'm not a rich celebrity who is supposed to care about this stuff. High fashion is wasted on me. I thought the wedding gown book would be fun, and it sort of was, but most of what I saw was hideous & the fun came from laughing at it. I look at Fashion Week photos online and wonder exactly who these designers think they're going to be dressing, because most of that "clothing" has no place in the real world.

Don't get me wrong- I like pretty clothes, but if it comes down to comfort & function or appearance & style, I'm going for comfort. You can't convince me that the girl with half a strip of fabric over her nipples, a skirt that restricts her ability to walk, and a headpiece that looks like a spittoon is comfortable.

And the Residence book...again, good thing I'm not rich. I don't want to live in an austere, sterile home. They're all beautifully designed, but they seem made to look at not live in. I like soft furnishings, pops of color, and spaces that make you want to stay in them. While I understand & appreciate a need for natural light, up to a point, I don't need massive windows in every flipping room. Especially when the window treatments (god forbid you call them curtains) are fussy and/or not designed to actually cover the damned things.

That said, I DO like quite a few of the designer bathrooms. I'd love to have some of the tubs I saw. Heated towel rails are lovely, and so are free standing showers. The toilets make me a little nervous- so many of them look like giant lidded cups. I'm used to traditional American loos with cisterns- you look at those and know what they're meant for.

Anyway, just felt like sharing those observations. The new cats are settling in, BTW. They're both venturing out of their hiding places and giving me drive by headbutts. Nightshade hasn't gone near them- they hiss and growl when they see her, poor girl- but I think they'll eventually warm up to each other.

Also, I dug out the Chat Noir cross stitch piece that I had started & abandoned in the fall. I'm almost done stitching the cat! Will try to post an updated picture of that next time.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Welcome To The New Year.

No, there won't be any of that "New Year, New Me" crap here. I'm not making resolutions, I'm not embarking on any drastic lifestyle changes. I'm just going to try to survive day by day and hope that this year is better than the last one.

So how did I ring in the new year? Not at work! Chuck got to take Christmas Eve off, so the bosses gave me NYE off instead. Not that it mattered- it's not like I was going to go out and whoop it up at a party or in a bar. I spent the night ensconced on the couch, watching the Inspector Cartoons from the Pink Panther series, and catching occasional cat sightings.

Oh yeah, I have two new cats. My friend Scott needed to rehome his 10 year old boys, Remy & Boo, as his girlfriend is highly allergic to them. Personally, I'd have gotten rid of her, but that may partly explain why I'm still single. Anyway, he delivered them to me at work as I was leaving that morning. They sang me the song of their people (Who The Hell Are You And Where The Hell Are We Going And Let Me Out Of This Damned Box!) on the 10 minute ride to my house, and were hesitant to come out of their travel crates once I got them inside. I took them out one at a time and showed them where the litter box was, and then they each took off for parts unknown. Since the house is still an audition tape for Hoarders, there's lots of place for them to hide. Anyway, both boys are still hiding, but have ventured out once or twice. Remy growled at me and went back behind the couch. Boo has been a bit more adventurous and even sat in my lap for a minute. So far, Nightshade is ignoring them. Good thing, too. Scott didn't tell me that they were such chunkbutts. I swear they weigh 30 lbs each, so they're easily 2-3 times Shady's size. They're declawed, but all they have to do is lie down on her and any fight that may start will be over.

First meal of the new year: Sausage & Kale stir fry w/peppers & onions over rice

First drink of the new year: Iced English Breakfast tea

First read: a chapter of Bill Bryson's The Road To Little Dribbling: More Notes From A Small Island before I dozed off on the couch.

I had bought a bottle of hard cider from Trader Joe's to toast the new year with, but forgot all about it. So I'm going to drink it tonight on my regular night off instead. At least I remembered to take the croissants I'd bought out of the freezer and put them out to rise. Breakfast was quite tasty.

While I was waiting for the croissants to bake, I stripped my bed and put on fresh flannel sheets. (oh yeah, we finally got winter temperature weather) And discovered that my bedroom walls seem to have developed rising damp. I had to go get the paper towels and bleach spray to clean up the mildew that's grown along the walls by my bed. Moving the bed out from the wall to get at it flushed out poor Boo, who had chosen that spot to hide for a while. The heating vent by the foot of the bed is quite alluring- Malkin used to like to lie there too.

Well, by the time I was done with all that, breakfast was done. I ate my croissants and watched At Last The 1948 Show for the umpteenth time. I couldn't crawl into my nice clean 2016 bed with my 2015 dirty body, so I took a long shower and scrubbed & shampooed myself silly. By the time I was done drying my hair and applying all of my lotions & potions, I was ready to call in a day/night. The cats had all disappeared again, so I closed me door and slept fairly soundly.

Last highlight of my day before I call it quits for this post. The one tradition I uphold is my Southern Good Luck dinner on New Years Day. Black eyed Peas (I prefer field peas), greens, and cornbread. I diced some country ham pieces and fried them a bit before dividing them to simmer into the peas & greens while the cornbread baked. It was quite tasty. Nightshade surprised me by going for the buttery cornbread instead of the bits of ham. She didn't get any of either, but she tried!

Anyway, I'm taking a couple of days off next week to recharge my brain and try to do something about the mess that is my house. Wish me luck!

Friday, January 1, 2016

Foodie Friday- New Year's edition- Chicken & Spinach Casserole

This is a good, quick, and easy dinner for anyone worn out from the holiday season festivities!


2 c. torn bread
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
4 c. packed flat-leaf spinach
¼ c. white wine
2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
1½ c. half-and-half
½ tsp. fresh lemon juice
1 c. shredded rotisserie chicken
Coarse salt
ground pepper
1 medium yellow onion
1 clove garlic


Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. In a medium bowl, combine bread with 1 tablespoon oil; season with salt. Set aside. In a medium pot, heat 1 1/2 teaspoons oil over medium-high. Add spinach; season with salt. Cook, stirring, until wilted, 2 minutes. Transfer to a colander, let cool, then squeeze out water. Coarsely chop.
Wipe pot clean and heat 1 1/2 teaspoons oil over medium. Add onion, garlic; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is soft, about 8 minutes.
Add wine to pot and cook until almost evaporated, about 5 minutes. Add flour and cook, stirring, 30 seconds. Gradually whisk in half-and-half. Add lemon juice and bring mixture to a boil over high.
Remove from heat and stir in chopped spinach and chicken; season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a 2-quart baking dish and top with bread pieces. Bake until bread is golden brown and mixture is bubbling, 8 to 10 minutes.