Sunday, December 17, 2017

Convincing me to Buy - Wine

 
Who goes wine tasting in the winter?  We do!  When you live in the Buffalo/Niagara region, winter is wine time.  While I'm not a big fan of Ice Wine, the Niagara escarpment is known to be one of the best regions for growing vidal grapes - a hybrid white variety that is very sweet.  The sweetness is condensed when they freeze.  It is a big deal when the first freeze occurs -- hordes of wine enthusiasts swarm to the vineyards and help harvest the grapes.  They must be picked at the first frost and the window of opportunity is short.  The wine produced from the fruit is very sweet -- and fairly expensive!

Thursday, December 14, 2017

It's a Wrap!

 For me, wrapping presents is like cleaning house.  You have to get really messy first!  This is how our dining room table looked on Sunday.  I had the gift bags for work assembled and then I had to wrap presents.  This past year I cleaned up my home office and put away all my wrapping supplies. That meant I had to pull it all out and bring it downstairs.  Most years, I buy supplies at the end of the season, but I didn't do that much last year because I already had a lot.  This year I'm going to have to do it again as I had feared I would run out of paper and ribbons -- yes, I am fearful even though I have all this stuff!

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Christmas at Work

 
Every year I make some sort of holiday offering for my co-workers.  This year, there are six people on my team, along with others who are temporarily squished into our row too.  There are also a couple of my other cronies I wanted to gift.  Last year I gave out big bars of cranberry soap.  This year I made small gift bags.  I used an assortment of items that I could buy in batches of a dozen.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Made it Ahead -- Last Week!

I made a big hunk of beef last Sunday.  It was an inexpensive bottom round cut.  It was pan seared and then baked on a cookie sheet with carrots and radishes, along with assorted small potatoes.  We had a nice dinner and it was a swell way to wind-up the weekend.  The meal was made with the intention that it would turn into stew -- bottom round isn't the most tender cut of meat.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Lavender Scent-Crafts

 This is my home-made version of a reed scent diffuser.  With a huge cache of lavender harvested before the first freeze, I had to do something with the stems I had left after pulling all the leaves off.  The oil in the bottom is a mixture of canola and drops of scent oil (the type you put into a wall-plug diffuser).  I had a small mayonnaise jar with a plastic lid. I was able to drill a messy hole into it and stuff in a few wooden skewers and stems.  We will see if it scents my bedroom.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

We have had only one electrical outlet outside and had to run really long extension cords to use the weed-wacker or edger in the front.  Any time I wanted to vacuum a car, I had to run an extension cord out the front door.  It was a pain.  Once I bought the old car with the diesel engine, it became necessary to have a place to plug it in so we could keep the engine block warm on freezing nights. It's only going to be necessary to plug in on cold nights when I know I'll be driving the wagon the next day.  Because it's never seen road salt and we want it to last, I'm not going to drive it in cruddy weather so we've decided to hold on to the old Chevy (it's a 2003 with 75K miles on it).  

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Using it All - The Cauliflower Edition

 Anyone who reads my blog knows I hate to waste food!  I used every last scrap on Thanksgiving and created a cauliflower recipe while I was at it.  I love to broil this white cruciferous veggie.  This year, I cut the florets off the stems, threw them in a baking dish, then added EVOO, ranch dressing, peppercorns, a little honey, lemon zest and freshly grated parm.  I let that soak for the day and then baked it covered in foil.  Once it was almost done, I put it under the broiler to crisp up.  Yum!

Sunday, November 26, 2017

It Starts with The Tree

 
We did not decorate the house last year. This year, I put up the tree right after Thanksgiving.  I had wanted a "pencil" tree and scoped one out at Big Lots.  It was $75 and that was the price I was looking to beat anywhere else. I went back to the store on Black Friday and it was on sale for $50 -- so it came home with me.  There was no need to buy any new decorations as I like what we have just fine.  Many of the ornaments were too big for the "white princess" tree I had been decorating in the past -- so I'd hang one in each window.  This year, they are all on the tree, which will make putting it all away that much easier.


Thursday, November 23, 2017

We are Non-Traditional

I like any holiday associated with food.  Having been married 29 years, I've hosted 25 Turkey Day Dinners.  Some were big, some were small, mostly sticking to the tried and true turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, peas, cranberries, biscuits, and pie fare.  Regardless of the size of the gathering, I generally made it all myself -- starting at the crack of dawn and working in my jammies.   This year, we went intentionally small -- just the two of us.  Rather than a whole bird, The Big Guy insisted on making a turkey roulade.  I took responsibility for everything else.  We had an awesome meal and a nice day to boot.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

My Bargain-Based Life

 
Of course my fabulous life is really bargain basement.  I would love to be able to truly afford the best and be one of those sophisticated people who don't buy much, but when they do, they only buy the best.  On the other hand, I hate cheap and shoddy stuff.  My consumerism is based on price, quality and convenience.  There is nothing sophisticated about that.  I love my new faux-leopard coat, but I wear it to a desk job because the reality is that I need to earn money.  Boy would I rather be wearing it out to lunch or drinks with my girlfriends at some sort of chi-chi martini bar.  Yes, I'd drive there in my Mercedes Benz, but the reality is that my 33 year old used car isn't that luxe.  Right now, the heater isn't working.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Shredded

We have been in our "Small Life" house for just about five years now.  There are still boxes in our garage that have not been moved inside.  I am trying to get stuff cleared out before I attack what's left in boxes and one thing I needed to do, was shred old documents.  There were multiple tax returns well over ten years old, and all of the pay stubs and financial material that went with them.  We also had paperwork from two old mortgages and a number of loans.  None of this stuff could go out in our recycling bin.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Can't Change My Spots

 This lady loves leopard.  Each year, I splurge on a piece of leopard patterned outerwear.  Last year it was a vest.  For the up coming winter, it's a coat.  The plush faux fur is right up my alley and I could not resist the buy.  After heading down to Hamburg, NY to meet a friend for breakfast, my goal was to make a stop into the Park Avenue Coat Company -- a great place to find marked-down outerwear.  There are many brands and products, overstock, last season, irregular and what-not from a variety of sources from  Betsy Johnson to Walmart.  Most coats are $35 each or three for $99.

 I just needed one coat.  The one I have had for a few years is getting admittedly a little small.  It also came from the same store.  When it comes to coats, I no longer buy second hand.  It's easier to find something new at a discount for less than it would cost to buy thrift and then dry-clean.   Methinks I will look quite stylish sporting this fun fake in my old Mercedes.  I can't wait for us to go out together!


Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Dog-O-Ween

Goth is not a good look for me!  I painted my face white and put on black lipstick and spent Halloween day as a witch.  Lots of people at work were dressed up, but unfortunately I missed the big office picture because I had to host a conference call.  One thing I like about working in an office of "millennials" is that they get involved.  They don't think it's silly to dress up or participate in events.  They are willing to walk away from their desk and see what's going on.  I think more folks in my age group need to stop thinking their image and what they do is so important that they can't dress up or join in.  Of course, I really couldn't get out of the call -- and I was bummed!

Teddy and I had matching outfits.  Unfortunately, it was a dreary, cold and wet day.  We got maybe eight groups of kids.  And she waited at the door hoping for more!  Teddy loves Halloween.  She tolerates her costume and leaves it alone.  A couple of groups asked if they could take a picture with her, so that made it even more of a treat for her.  It's just sad that we had the same costume and it looked so much better on her!  Oh well, who can compete with a cute dog?  Certainly not a 55 year old woman!

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Not to Roll....

 
One thing that I think makes a confident cook, is the ability to deal with what you mess up and not get discouraged.  For me, part of that comes out of my refusal to waste.  If I make a mistake, by effort turns into something else.  I think that it is important not to strive for perfection.  That's not to say that you should expect to serve something that doesn't taste good.  One cooking show I used to watch years ago, was The Frugal Gourmet.  One less learned then, was if something doesn't turn out the way it's supposed to, call it something else.  Julia Child also said that any dish that looked perfect had too many hands touching it.  Those are my two mantras.
 

Monday, October 30, 2017

Herbs in the House

 

The temperature is dropping and I am working to save some of the herbs and plants from the garden.  We brought the aloe-vera plan in this weekend.  I have a bunch of cacti I also hope to have time to rescue. 


Saturday, October 28, 2017

Am I Grandma?

Am I grandma?  I have recently, on more than one occasion, heard the term "Grandma Cooking" to describe a recent food trend.  It's along the line of the "Slow Cooking" movement.  Supposedly, there is a return to the frugality of cooking from scratch and using every last bit of food so that none is wasted and money is saved.  Apparently, so few people really know how to sensibly cook that what should just be a normal common sense approach to eating is now a "trend."

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Back in the Saddle Again

This isn't a post about horse riding!  No, it's about me and my footwear.  After almost two years, I am back to wearing normal shoes.  Two years ago, I broke a brittle piece of bone projection in my big toe and it lodged between the joint.  That led to toe surgery in February of 2015.  After that, in April of the same year, I had my ankle joint cleaned out and reconstructed.  While recuperating from that, my knee started to hurt horribly.  Turns out I had a fracture in it that went undetected.  In order to keep it from getting worse, I wore a knee brace.  Finally sick of the brace, I had a partial knee replacement this year.

Now almost two years later, I am back to wearing normal shoes.  It has been a journey!  It's also been some work getting my feet back into the type of shoes I like.  For two years I wore sneakers or well padded loafers.  The flexibility I regained once I could bend my toe again, was lost when I became lame in the knee.

Monday, October 23, 2017

It's That Time of Year Again....

For many US workers, November signals the beginning of "Open Enrollment" season, a time where we sign up for employer-sponsored benefit plans.  Choosing a plan is probably the most important financial decision you will make this year and I am posting today to encourage everyone who has this opportunity to take advantage of it.   Full disclosure:  I am not a licensed insurance broker, but I do set up and manage private health care exchanges.  I spend 40+ hours per week working around, thinking about, coordinating, and supporting people so that they have access to the plans they have chosen.  I work with employers and brokers, with an aim to make sure coverage for the "lives" I am responsible for works smoothly.


Saturday, October 21, 2017

More on the All-Consuming Car

We drove Das Boot last night and were stopped at a light in Allentown -- a popular section of Buffalo that is very artsy, when we had another "car moment."  Three college kids gave us thumbs up and peace signs while we were stopped at a light.  So far, every day I have driven this car, someone has done that.  It's really cool.  The car looks great from the outside but I knew it was time to attack the interior, so that is what I did today!


Tuesday, October 17, 2017

She's Home!

My beautiful old car is finally home!  She spent three weeks in the service center waiting for reverse light lenses to arrive.  The first set was ordered from Florida, but the facility was destroyed in the hurricane.  The next resource was in California, and burnt to the ground in the wild fires!

I will drive her for a few days and take her in for detailing and an interior estimate.  Looking at her parked in front of our house, you can see how  big she is.  We will be able to store a lot of cargo and drive it in style. 

Tomorrow she'll take me to work where my co-workers have been excited to see what I have gotten myself into.  It will take a bit to get used to driving her but I think we'll suit just fine.

It's taken me 30+ years to get the Mercedes I've always wanted, and I don't mind that she's 30+ years old!