Friday, October 30, 2015

Friday Free For All

Hold on to your hats...we have a lot of ground to cover today. This is a miscellaneous collection of what has been going on in my world the last couple of weeks. I am hoping this catches everyone up and we can move forward with new adventures.

Two weeks ago my husband and I drove up to the state park where we got married (and had our first date). This road is along the Mississippi River and is a very popular place to cruise and look at the fall foliage. This is just the beginning of the turn. I might have to see if my husband wants to take a little drive this weekend too.
 We roamed this path on our first date and took our wedding pictures here almost two years later.
I have been to this park a gazillion times, but learned something new on this trip. There was a Nike Missile base in the park. It was built to defend St. Louis during the Cold War. As you can see it has been out of commission for quite awhile. 
 I can't tell you how much I wanted to get in there and check things out.
I debated on including this picture, but in the end I just couldn't help myself. I have NEVER seen a bird that looks like it was sitting on the ground and then just keeled over. They always seem to be obviously injured or wings spread. Poor cardinal.
A rare moment of Millie posing for a picture. I took many and this was about all I got. Crazy pup.
I would love to check this place out. I am not sure if it is a private house or some sort of business. One of these days we need to explore up the hill.
On our way back from the park we noticed a "rendezvous" in the little town near the park. Along the river was a whole reenactment group. I was a little confused by what by the time period...I guess 1700s.
 It was fun to look at, but not exactly historically accurate. The white and man and Native Americans were surely not camping side by side.
 Notice that house on the bluffs (pictured earlier). What a view it must have!

Millie met a pack of huskies. They were ginormous! The picture looks a little intense, but they all just wanted to be free to play.
 Inside a cozy. I really think I could live there...or at least camp there for a couple of days :)
 Doesn't that bed look better than the hard ground I slept on at our campout a couple of weeks ago??

The rest of this post is a hodge podge of pictures clogging up my blogging file. Hold on we are going to fly through some pretty random stuff...

Clementine season!!  Love those little cuties...I admit it is their easy-to-peel quality that makes them extra delicious.
It is the last day before Halloween so you get a last minute peek at a couple of my favorite neighborhood decorations.

My poor husband got caught in Shelob's Lair. For some inexplicable reason he appears to be offering her a carton of sour cream in exchange for his release. 
Thankfully, everything worked out and he is safe and sound. This is the view from my side of the bed. Those two!!

The other day I was walking in a little park near where I work. How cute is this little library?  I didn't "check" anything out, but I am wondering how many people do.
 A couple more pictures from that little park.

This is definitely a highlight in my world. For our anniversary, my in-laws gave me shelving for my craft room closet. More accurately, my father-in-law custom built them for me. He installed two side pieces with a gazillion holes for adjusting the shelves to meet my changing storage needs.
 I can't believe I am posting my closet on the internet, but here goes...This is just my first stab at organizing it...there is much to be done. I am LOVING the usable. It is exactly what I wanted.  And a little side note. See the shoe holder on the back of the door? It is one of the best organizational tips I have ever found. It is great for miscellaneous (necessary) things that don't seem to belong anywhere, but you are always trying to find them - flashlights, batteries, tape measure, etc. This way they have a home which is super visible and instantly accessible.
One wonderful evening my husband suggested we watch Sense and Sensibility. Umm...okay :)  It is my favorite movie of all time. I have seen it more times than all other movies combined - maybe that is a slight exaggeration. I constantly find opportunities to quote it. And Colonel Brandon.
On our way to meet our family for breakfast we had a deer incident. As we drove up there were 5 deer heading up to the road. I was happy they ran back into the woods instead of the highway.
One of my niece's friends went to the ER for stomach pain....and had a baby! Full term beautiful baby girl. They had NO idea she was pregnant. I sent her these flannel blankets I made. One of my co-workers (and sewing mentor) taught me how to make them and they have been my signature baby gift ever since. Super simple, but so cute. I love using bold fun patterns to contrast all the delicate baby patterns of all things baby you can find in the stores.
Another walk around work. There is always something new to notice like this retaining wall. I love the faded, chipped look of it now, but it must have been something quite bold back in the day.
I am going to miss fall.

I found this carved into the sidewalk. I would really like to know what it means. "Walking is still honest."
Another house I would like to tour.
I attended a memorial service for my cousin's mother-in-law. Evidently she had quite a sweet tooth. This was part of the display of pictures and memorabilia they had set out. I believe chocolate has shrunk a garment or two of mine :(
Last Monday Millie's tail had suddenly drooped. At first I thought she might have broken or jammed it playing at the farm. I wasn't there but she had slid down the bank of the creek on her butt. However, I did some research and with the help of Dr. Google and some FB friends I diagnosed her with "limber tail". It is a sudden drooping of the tail brought on my extreme exercise or exposure to cold water. It is especially common in hunting dogs...the secret is out my "Rottweiler" may have some Lab in her. Rest was recommended and prognosis was that it would clear up in a week or so.
Zommie dragged her bed about 12 feet from the corner of the bedroom into the hallway. She must love us and just wanted to be closer to us.
Later I was in the bedroom and my husband was in his command center. The dogs took up their posts. No way they were getting left behind.
Good news by Thursday evening, Millie's tail was back in action :)
We walked about 2 miles. She was on full alert the whole time. She had to investigate EVERY pile of leaves. Not to mention ALL the dogs were out so it created quite a ruckus walking down the street. I think I need to go back to walking her at 5 a.m.
One final creepy Halloween decorations. I couldn't include it in my favorites per se, but I'd never seen anything else like it.

Wrapping up the photo dump...cheese. I confess, I am a big fan of cheese, but even I have my limitations (mostly blue cheeses). I saw these in Aldi's and was able to resist all three. I was a little tempted by the cave cheese, but it had a kinda funky color around the edges that turned me off (can't really see it in the pictures).
At first, I was drawn to the apple cheese. But when I saw cinnamon I lost interest. I know people put cheese on apple pie and I am good with that - there is just something about it all being in the cheese. I was completely grossed out my salted caramel cheese. Later someone reminded me of cheesecake and I started to have doubts. The next time I was in that store they only had the cave cheese left. I wonder if it will go on clearance after Halloween.
Thanks for hanging in there through this speed blogging of fall. I think that brings us up-to-date on the bits and pieces of fall you have missed with my sporadic blogging. And clears my blogging file to move forward.

What interesting things have you seen this fall?

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Whoa...We're Halfway There

(I am secretly hoping that most of you have Livin' on a Prayer stuck in your head now..."take my hand and we'll make it I swear...")
If I were being totally honest, I would say I am more of a starter than a finisher. I have great ideas and plans...get started and then let them slip away. Just take a look in my craft room and you will see the evidence. Therefore, when we started this 100 Day Challenge in the back of my mind, I didn't really believe I would complete it. And now I am halfway there and am starting to believe I can (and will) do it. In the past 50 days, there were plenty of days when I just didn't want to do the work. Maybe I was tired, maybe I was in pain, maybe I was busy. I wanted to take a day off at times, but I knew if the streak broke, it was just a matter of time before I quit completely. Something inside me has made me stubbornly hang on. Maybe it is the one thing I feel I am in control of at the moment and I don't want to let it go.

Day 50 was a 39 minute walk during my lunch break yesterday. It was one of those dreary wet fall days. As much as I love a bright sunny day, I think fall needs some days like this too. It was much chillier than I realized and I was wearing a short sleeved top - there was some arm swinging to keep warm :)

I've been this way many times, but never really noticed this house. The chimney caught my eye this time. The big windows in the front make me think this is the sort of house that should be on a mountain side somewhere.

Clearly with my zero upper body strength I did NOT do this. But is it wrong to imagine being strong enough to bend those bars?
Of course, there  continues to be eating (some good and some bad), which means trying a few new recipes.

My husband and I are proof that opposites attract....mushroom lover and mushroom hater. Every time I mention mushrooms my beloved husband reminds me that they are a fungus, as is athlete's foot...and who wants to eat athlete's foot. Really?!! We somewhat playfully argue for a bit and then no mushrooms for me :( 

A couple of weeks ago, when my husband had to drive a Friday night trip, I spent the day plotting my dinner. I had pinned this recipe quite awhile ago, but hadn't tried it yet because of the mushroom situation. I had some beef that needed to be used, so I stopped on my way home for mushrooms and snow peas (snow peas are not my husband's thing either, but he doesn't despise them like mushrooms).

First, I made the sauce. I added the cayenne because I like a little kick. I had planned to add sesame oil and though it made it to the ingredient picture I forgot to put it in.
The sauce smelled so good with its garlickly gingerness...mmm!
Mushrooms and snow peas ready to go.
First you saute the mushrooms, then the beef, the peas are blanched in boiling water.
Then all back in the pan with the sauce.
It was a delicious treat :)  I didn't really want to mess with making rice, but I would next time the sauce needed something to soak it up and balance the dish a bit.

This recipe is right up both our alleys - we love the cilantro/lime flavors.  For me, it plays into how I like to cook (a little time on the stovetop and then finish in the oven while I do other things). I love, love my cast iron skillets. Searing the chicken in the cast iron skillet smells delicious and who doesn't love a good sizzle?
 While the chicken is searing I prepped the sauce ingredients - including lime, cilantro and onion.
The chicken is removed from the pan and the sauce ingredients are combined and reduced in the pan for about 10 minutes. The recipe called for heavy cream, but since I didn't have any I subbed sour cream (worked great). The recipe also called for two tablespoons of butter, which I used, but next time I will reduce. It was a rich sauce and less butter would still be delicious. Once the sauce has cooked, put the chicken back in the pan and pop it n the oven to finish while you clean up a little and set the table. As Ina Garten would say - how easy is that??
I served it with rice and cauliflower. I apologize for the complete blandness of this plating. I was trying to use what I had in the house. Otherwise, I promise there would have been more color on the plate - asparagus, carrots (for me), broccoli. Despite the lack of color the chicken was perfectly cooked. Super moist - which can be a challenge with chicken breast. The sauce was as the blogger described - "lick off the plate" delicious.
Several times a month my job requires me to start the day at a different location. Last week I had one of those mornings. I hadn't eaten breakfast and by the time I was headed back to the office, I was starving. Not a good thing since there about 10 fast food places stand between that location and my office. I thought I had seen some healthier options at this gas station previously, so I decided to take a peek there first.

I was pleasantly surprised by all the options they had.

All of that at a gas station. Truth be told I did briefly pick up a piece of breakfast pizza,. However, since I had taken all these pictures of the better choices and wanted to share with them with you all, I could hardly buy the pizza. The thought of you all looking over my shoulder helped me leave the store with this. Thank you!
I admit it wasn't the best breakfast I have ever had, but I felt pretty good about it. It is good reminder that there are better options on the road that are also super convenient.

How do you avoid fast food when you are out and about unprepared?