Thursday, December 1, 2016

I Won The Bagel Lottery

This morning I got an email from Panera with the subject line that got my attention:

Kathy, get a free bagel every day this month.

Alexander Klink via Wikimedia
I didn't need to read the body of the message to know what it said, because I already knew about the promotion (which is open to anyone who has a MyPanera card). DIL Nicole had been the lucky recipient of the same email in October, and when we were visiting late that month I walked with her to pick up her daily bagel several times.

I don't know how many days I'll remember to take advantage of the offer, but I started the month off right.  Today when I drove right by a Saint Louis Bread Company (the name for the chain in this area) my car smoothly turned into the strip mall parking lot and found a convenient parking space.  It was getting close to lunch time, but I didn't have to wait long to be served.  I chose my bagel, had it sliced in half and bagged, and was back out in my car in less than five minutes.

Come to think of it, it wouldn't be too much of a hassle to make sure I drive by a Bread Company tomorrow, too.  After that, we'll see.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Feline Oral Hygene

At Pepper the Cat's last vet visit the doctor said that his teeth needed some maintenance.  The first openings they had were this week, so we scheduled the procedure for today.

Cat dental work is done under general anesthesia.  The instructions are the same as for humans having a procedure done, including no food or drink after midnight.  Since it would be too hard to explain to Pepper why he wasn't getting his first meal today, last night after dinner Hubby Tony dropped him off at the vet's office.  This morning I kept looking around for him, then remembering he wasn't here.  Jackson Cat couldn't decide if he was concerned that his brother was gone, or happy that he didn't have to share the patches of sun.

I got a call from the vet about 11:30.  She told me that Pepper had two teeth that needed to be extracted and asked for my permission to do the work.  After I gave the OK, the vet said they'd complete the job, give the rest of the teeth a good cleaning, and call me when the job was done.  A little after 2:00 I learned that Pepper was recuperating nicely and we could pick him up any time after 4:00.

Tony stopped and got the cat on his way home from work.  He came into the house with the cat carrier in one hand.  In the other hand he had a bag holding pain medicine, an antibiotic, and a discharge instruction sheet.  Pepper looked pitiful.  He had one leg bandaged where the IV had been, and when Tony set him down he couldn't walk in a straight line.  It took him five minutes, but he managed to climb upstairs to his water bowl (but was unable to jump up on the counter to reach it). I put the bowl on the floor.  In addition to drinking out of the bowl, he also stood in it.  He was so funny that Tony and I spread a blanket on the bedroom floor and had a picnic dinner there while we watched.

Starting tomorrow, we have to give him the two medicines each day until they're gone.  Fortunately, both are liquid, which I find easier to administer.  For the next ten days Pepper will switch over to a canned food diet.  The sutures in his mouth will dissolve on his own.  At the bottom of the instructions the vet mentioned that Pepper could start a regular home tooth cleaning program in two weeks.  

He's never had that done; can you teach an old cat new tricks?

Five years ago today: You Can Count On It

Monday, November 28, 2016

Pretty Poinsettias

Around here, we like to deck the halls for Christmas in a leisurely manner. It usually gets done by the middle of December.  However, next Saturday night Hubby Tony and I are hosting dinner for the members of a group he's involved in.  We decided it would be a good idea to have the house looking festive for the event.

I put the lights on the deck before the weather turned cold.  On Thanksgiving Day I plugged them into the timer that turns them on at dusk and off six hours later.   Before Son Donald left to go back to college last night his dad pressed him into service to help with the outside lights (on Saturday) and the tree lights yesterday. Tony and I finished the rest of the tree, and did some of the house decorating before my back decided it was time to call it a day.

Today I tackled the rest of the job, removing the regular items in the family room and above the kitchen cabinets and replacing them with holiday decorations.  I was patting myself on the back for finishing until I saw the large plastic bag setting on the floor in the dining room.  The bag held the 20 silk poinsettia bushes (laying flat, flowers outward, with their stems covered with swaths of plaid material) that go on the plant shelf above the front door in our two story foyer. For the past few years Donald's taken care of the task. But Donald was gone, so the job fell back to me.

I carried the eight foot tall stepladder up from the basement and opened it next to the front door, then grabbed a handful of bushes, climbed up to the next-to-top step of the ladder, and laid the plants out on the shelf. I had to move the ladder multiple times, then repeat the process with the material.

To see if things were arranged correctly I had to climb up the steps to the second floor.  It took a couple of tries, but I finally got it right.
The result

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Leftover Reinvention

I knew several weeks ago that the extended family wouldn't be getting together for Thanksgiving.  Our Thanksgiving dinner ended up being four people--me, Hubby Tony, Son Donald, and a friend of Donald's from college that didn't have any relatives in the area.

Because I didn't have a large crowd to feed, I felt like I didn't have to cook a tradition-bound meal. Turkey was a given, but everything else was open to suggestions.  The Monday before Thanksgiving I asked everyone for one 'must have' dish.  On Thursday, in addition to turkey and gravy, we had mashed sweet potatoes, our family's time-honored cranberry jello salad, green bean casserole topped with french fried onions, roasted Brussels sprouts, and crusty bread.  Dessert was pumpkin-cranberry cookies and an apple crisp with vanilla ice cream. 

Donald put in a shift at the grocery he used to work at, and came home with more bread and some pastries, and his friend contributed some chocolate truffles.  All in all it was a great feast.

Of course I made enough food for leftovers.  When everything was put away the refrigerator was stuffed.  It didn't help that immediately after the turkey was carved I broke down the carcass and started a pot of broth, which when completed took up almost an entire shelf.  Yesterday and today I tasked everyone with eating out of the refrigerator. That's led to some interesting (but surprisingly good) meal combinations.  In the past 48 hours I've had:
  • A bed of mashed sweet potatoes topped with a fried egg
  • A spinach salad with turkey breast, mushrooms that needed to be used, leftover Brussels sprouts, and a spoonful of green bean casserole
  • Steamed butternut squash mixed with apple crisp
  • Shredded red cabbage cooked with onions, garlic, and a couple of spoonfuls of turkey gravy
After two days of dedicated refrigerator eating things are clearing out nicely.  Good thing; after tomorrow it will be just me and Tony in the house again. 

Five years ago today: Small Business Saturday

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Thanksgiving Groaners

While You're Waiting For Dinner...
  • What kind of music did the Pilgrims like? Plymouth Rock
  • Why can't you take a turkey to church? They use fowl language.
  • What happened when the turkey got into a fight? He got the stuffing knocked out of him!
  • What do you get when you cross a turkey with a banjo? A turkey that can pluck itself!
  • Why did they let the turkey join the band? Because he had the drumsticks.
  • Which side of the turkey has the most feathers? The outside
  • Why did the police arrest the turkey? They suspected it of fowl play.
  • What did the turkey say before it was roasted? Boy! I'm stuffed!
  • What's the best dance to do on Thanksgiving? The Turkey Trot
  • What do you get when you cross a turkey with an octopus? Enough drumsticks for Thanksgiving
  • What do you call the age of a pilgrim? Pilgrimage.
  • If the pilgrims came on the Mayflower than what does the teacher come on? The scholar ships.
  • What would you get if you crossed a turkey with an evil spirit? A poultrygeist!
  • Who is not hungry at Thanksgiving? The turkey because he's already stuffed!
  • If you call a large turkey a gobbler what do you call a small one? Goblet.
  • What is a pumpkin's favorite sport? Squash
  • Asked to write a composition entitled, "What I'm thankful for on Thanksgiving," Little Johnny wrote, "I am thankful that I'm not a turkey.”

Five years ago today: 'Twas The Night Of Thanksgiving

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

The Gift Of Not Giving A Thing

Tonight I picked Hubby Tony up from work so he could help me with a work assignment. As a reward, I treated him to dinner. While we were in the restaurant it started raining, so instead of going straight home we decided to go to the mall and walk.

While I was there I saw this wonderful poem in the window of Play Your Art Out studio. What a wonderful sentiment!

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Killing Leaves

Today's view of the back yard from the garage:

There's a lot of fallen leaves there, don't you think?

Of course, I could rake them up, but I prefer to use the lawn mower to run over them, letting everything mulch into small pieces.  Easier for me, better for the yard.  And, very satisfying to see clear strips of the yard where I've been.

Five years ago today: Candlelighting

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Roasted Cauliflower and Chickpeas

You may remember that this week I'm avoiding all grain products.  Much to my surprise, the project is going well.  I'm surprised how full and satisfied I am, but it's been a challenge to change my thinking about what to put on the table for each meal.  For dinner tonight, I made a Guy Fieri recipe for Roasted Cauliflower and Chickpeas.  In order to have leftovers I doubled the recipe, but because I freeze my beans in three cup batches my version was heavier on the chickpeas than the original. 

The dish was SO good! I only used a quarter of the oil that Guy called for (and substituted bean liquid for the rest), but next time I think I could even get away with no oil at all.  At dinner time, I realized the dish was dying for a bit of creaminess, so I added a dollop of yogurt (which wasn't part of the diet plan, but sometimes you just gotta splurge).

Finished product

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

It's A Real Challenge

On November 1st I started a virtual three week Nutrition and Fitness challenge (that has the cute name of the Pre-Turkey Trim Down Challenge).  It's moderated by a young woman who is also a personal trainer.  Each week she posts a series of diet goals and exercises to a private Facebook group, and provides background information to help us meet our goals.

Since I was out of town four out of the first seven days of the first week, this probably wasn't the best time to tackle something like this.  I got off on the wrong foot with the exercise challenges, but have managed to get somewhat on track.  The diet goals have gone better.  Mainly because I already eat pretty clean.

The first week's diet goal was easy, and had three parts.  I had to figure out how many calories I should be consuming per day, and figure out how to track them. I was supposed to eliminate fast food (which I only eat once or twice a month anyway), and eliminate caloric drinks (which I gave up years ago)

The second week eliminated diet sodas and flavored waters.  (I only rarely drink either of them). I also had to give up processed snacks--including dried fruit (my daily handful of raisins had to go), fried foods (which I only have when I eat out, and then not every time), and white carbs--including milk and yogurt (plain lowfat yogurt is one of my regular breakfast items).  I was to substitute whole wheat bread, brown rice, vegetables and fruits for the excluded items.

This week the elimination list included the remaining milk based products, all grains and all pre-made condiments.  

Say what?!? This could be a challenge.

The diet that I've followed for several years includes six carefully chosen servings of complex carbohydrates each day...brown rice, barley, homemade whole grain muffins, or other quality whole grain bakery items.  I learned about the newest diet restrictions over the weekend, and they took effect today. Good thing I had some lead time, because it gave me time to process things.

I'm proud to say that I made it through the first day without my beloved grains.  For breakfast I made a smoothie with banana, spinach, cocoa powder, and flax seed.  It felt strange to not set a muffin on the table, too, but I got over it.  My lunch always includes raw vegetables.  Today I increased the amount, added a serving of beans, and munched on an apple for dessert.  My afternoon snack was a carefully-measured portion of almonds.  For dinner I made an oven fritatta with roasted butternut squash, and followed that up with a serving with a handful of grapes.

One day down, six more to go. Think I can do it?

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Good Luck And A Lush Lawn

It's been quite the amphibian party around our house lately.

At the beginning of October I found a frog in the compost bin. A couple of weeks later there was one in a plant I was repotting.  Last night Hubby Tony stopped to pick up what he thought was a rock on the kitchen floor.  The rock came to life and hopped away.  We had another small frog!  It tried to hide in the pantry, but Tony captured it in a plastic cup and tossed it outside.  The last we saw of the frog it was hanging on to one of the holly bushes next to the front porch. This time we did not get a photo.

What could all the frogs mean?  I turned to the National Wildlife Federation's blog, which said:
"Frogs have been a symbol of prosperity, wealth, friendship and abundance in many cultures and a symbol of fertility in others. For the Romans, the frog was a mascot believed to bring good luck to one’s home. The native Aborigines of Australia believed that frogs brought the thunder and rain, to help the plants to grow."
So, since my fertility days are over, I assume we're going to be rich, with good luck, many friends, and a lush lawn. 

Five years ago today: For Cat Lovers...