Tuesday, September 20, 2016

28 Years

The Big Guy and I can tick off another anniversary.  We are now at 28 and I'm even happier with him today than I was in 1988.  Anyone who know the TBG, knows he was a great catch and I'm one lucky gal.  We've been through a lot together and he is stuck with me for life.

Our celebrations sometimes take place at camp, but this year we were home.  The main anniversary event was dinner at The Left Bank, our favorite Buffalo restaurant.  We've been going there since we moved to the area in the early 90's.  They've always served our favorite appetizer, a stuffed portobello mushroom.  Since the place is impossible to dine at without a reservation, we only tend to go for special occasions.   Generally, we tend to be impromptu diners and a normal Friday night out is a more casual event.

We finished the night off with a nice cake that came from Sweet Beginnings bakery.   It was a buttercream frosted deep dark chocolate cake with a ganache/dark chocolate filling.  TBG was trying to be conscientious and ordered a smaller cake.  In years past, we went full size!

For a number of years, we have wanted a decent quality SLR camera -- especially when the eagles soar by at camp.  I plan to search on line and buy one as our present to each other.  Of course, along with soaring eagles, I'll have to take tons of doc pictures...

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Cover it Up

I love reading Finger Lakes magazine.  We always have a copy or two kicking around camp.  Inside, there are gorgeous pictures of Adirondack style camps.  They are decorated to perfection.  The adds for cabinetry and furniture are drool-worthy.

Our camp reality is our weekend travel-trailer.  It's not very high-end, but we spend most of our time outdoors.  None the less, we wear the crap out of the interior.  When you occupy a small space, every square inch sees traffic.  As a result, I keep many surfaces covered for not only protection, but for easy clean-up.

Our dog isn't the only messy camper.  We both spill things and track all manner of dirt and sand in.  Our dinette is always covered.  There are lots of slip-ons that I've made from thrifted sheets, spare fabric, or covers for couches we used to have at home.  Not everything matches but that's OK.  Right now, we're using a very miss-matched set of cushion covers for the dinette, couch and chairs because the "regular" set is getting washed.  The covers get rotated around every other month and are machine washable.

Our trailer is not very impressive, but we want it to be clean and in good condition.  The best way to do that, is to keep your cushions covered up.  We may not be chic, but our little camp is in good condition!

Friday, September 16, 2016

A Lady Who Lunches

It was time for a new lunch bag.  The old pink one was a real embarrassment.  I believe in having two sacks for toting lunch; one that is more box like and works for wide containers, then there is the "bag" version suited for smaller packages like sandwiches.  So many people bring lunch at my new job, that I don't want to be caught with a ratty bag.  Post-Labor Day is the time to pick up lunch bag bargains.

My lunch philosophy is two-fold.  Stylishly toting food to work makes sense from a nutritional and financial perspective.  Each day I load up a large plastic container with lettuce, topping and a protein.  I add a jar or two of beverage, a granola bar or piece of fruit.  Lunch is the optimal opportunity to fit in my five servings of fruit and veggies.

Frugal folks who bag lunch save money and time.  The priciest component of my lunch is the assortment of pre-cut/pre-washed toppings.  Sugar snap peas, rainbow slaw, bagged salad -- convenience means easy assembly.  Anything that makes it easier to pack a nutritious lunch is worth spending a little more on.  If you're the type who wishes they had more time to make a healthy lunch, just pick up your produce already bagged and toss it all together.  Salad dressing can be packed separately and it will be fresh and crunchy at noon.

And if you're still not tempted, consider adding a stylish lunch tote to your work wardrobe.  Now's the time of year to get marked down back-to-school stock, which is how this bag made it home with me. There's more to an attractive lunch than just fresh ingredients!

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Out With the Old, In with the New

It was time to sort through our collection of cloth napkins and refresh the stash.  There were styles and colors that represented different phases of our table-top lives and while many were still in good condition, others were quite ratty.  Ready for a change, last week I grabbed 12 cloth napkins found while perusing the clearance shelves at Wegmans.  Wegmans carries a plethora of tabletop accoutrements that are decent quality and designed to be cycled out of merchandise at the end of every season.  Trolling their clearance merchandise is one of my favorite activities.

 The pale yellow and green napkins are new, and the patterned one is an older one.  We tend to gravitate towards yellows, peaches, teals and blues in our dining room so the new napkins fit in well with the older one and that set of four made the cut of those I wanted to keep.  It is nice to have a full set of 16 that completely match.
This is the discard pile.  The blue napkins are going to camp.  We don't have cloth napkins there but want to start.  The white and green discards will be used as scrap cloths for dusting and other clean-up duties. I've hated the green napkins for the nearly 30 years we've owned them because they are completely polyester.  Who knows why I hung on to them for so long.

It was long past time to cycle out the old cloth napkins.  That was just one of those low-priority tasks I hadn't felt like dealing with.  New dishware and fresh napkins, things are really looking up on our tabletop! 

Sunday, September 11, 2016

T-Shirt Tradition

Every year we celebrate the passing of Labor Day by purchasing camp t-shirts. Unlike lake tourists who buy shirts to commemorate their stay, those of us who stay seasonally like to wait until after the traditional end-of summer holiday to buy our duds.  Once the summer hits its traditional end, the local souvenir shop starts marking down.  Most of us regulars don't have an appetite for any of this stuff until it's at least 40 percent off.  

Of all the brand/themes, my favorite are the 40 Knots graphics.  Last year The Big Guy gave me one for our anniversary and the one I bought in blue this year looks very much the same in the front, but the knot graphic in the back is a little different.  While I don't sail, there's a lot of that going on around here -- and I do plan to join the yacht club when we retire and I have time to sail!

We love to watch regattas and the Sodus Bay Yacht Club is one of the oldest sailing clubs on the Great Lakes (and in the country).  The Labor Day races aren't a big deal -- just three courses, two of which we can see from camp.  This is a Lake Yacht Racing Association (LYRA) sanctioned event and is a nice race for novices.  The club hosts major races too and they are quite a site to see.  Even when there isn't a race to watch, it's wonderful to just sit back and look at the boats on the water.

Watching the regattas and buying t-shirts are a tradition -- I'm happy to combine them both!

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Summer on a Plate

It would appear I am obsessed with plates as of late.  I like them when they're empty, but I love them when they're full!  During the summer months, I love to eat fruit for dinner.  The more colorful the contents on your plate, the better.

The greens on this plate are topped with pecans, sweet onions, feta cheese, grilled peaches wrapped in prosciutto, topped with a cherry balsamic vinaigrette.   A hunk of watermelon and a couple of strawberries round out the fruit selection.  Fresh pesto (basil from our garden) over thin linguine fills out the other side of the plate.

This all looks great on a white bone china plate -- but tastes even better traveling down the gullet!

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Drinking Responsibly

One of the joys of summer is drinking a cold glass of iced tea with plenty of ice.  I understand ice isn't nearly as popular in other parts of the world, but Americans love their ice and I am no exception.  Fresh home-brewed iced tea is my favorite because I can mix up my own special flavor blends.  Right now, I am favoring white jasmine, green, lemon and ginger mixed together.  The glass pictured above is that mixture along with a small portion of a bottle from the supermarket.  The Big Guy hosted a BBQ last week and the half jug in our refrigerator was not going to be consumed in its "natural" state because we hate all of the sugar in the manufactured beverage.  By using a variety of teabag flavors, I can brew a concentrated cup of whatever combination I like, add just enough sugar, then balance it out with plain filtered water.  For this week's batch, I filled plastic pitchers with 1/3 of the supermarket stuff, five ounces of my concentrate, then filled the rest with water.  Including the half jug of supermarket tea I started with, I now have two gallons of iced tea on deck waiting to be enjoyed this week.

Convenience beverages are loaded with chemicals and sugar.  If you want to cut down on sugar, it seems you have two choices; unsweetened or sweetened with Splenda.   As a person with a Splenda aversion, who also doesn't want 12 teaspoons of sugar in a single serving, bottling up the homemade stuff is the best alternative.  There's a cooler of beverages at work and I could by Sweetleaf iced tea any time I wanted, or I could splurge on a Starbucks Frappucino.  Neither option works for me.  I'd rather save the calories (and money) by bringing my own from home.

By saving salad dressing bottles and removing the labels, I have my own more "responsible" version.  I'm recycling and drinking less sugar.  For the coffee version, I took some of the coffee from the pot this morning, added a little sugar, then took a small piece of Bakers semi-sweet chocolate and melted it with some more coffee in the microwave.  Adding that to the bottle and filling it half way with milk, then giving it a good shake meant I had my own mixture of coffee, milk, sugar and chocolate -- not much different than what I'd get if I bought an iced beverage.  I'll have a bottle of each in my lunch bag tomorrow.  That means iced tea with lunch and a coffee treat when I get ready to nap at around 3PM.

Each of these beverages provide me with a single serving containing less than one teaspoon of sugar. When I do this without starting with a supermarket base (which is usually the case,) the chemical/preservative content is minimal (if non-existent).  The packaging is 100% recycled.   We feel a lot better about making our own and although it takes a little bit of extra time, the flavor is well worth it.