Tuesday, August 26, 2014

More Crab!

Tonight's dinner was crab and asparagus lasagna and a side of seafood (shrimp) bisque.  I just did not feel like making pizza and with fresh lasagna noodles (from the refrigerator case), this was not too hard to pull together. Rather than overstuffed multi-layer, sky-high lasagna with gobs of meat and red sauce, I'm getting to where I really like thin, three layers of subtle flavors for my version of this dish.  The soup was very thick, so we have lots of left-overs.

As for the bisque, I'd gotten a bag of "salad shrimp" and it was dismal.  Then I figured that canned bisque probably doesn't start with prime crustaceans.  So I whizzed it up with other stuff and created a fine bisque.  Barley was used to thicken it up and for some of the stock, I used part of a box from the dollar store.

Now I'm off to pick out a suitable slack-based outfit for tomorrow. There is a big corporate event and I will be in front of hundreds of people (in a supporting role), and need to look professional yet casual but also have mobility.  Tomorrow is a very big day and I'll have a chance to make a good impression on a few key executives. Whether it will help my long-term prospects or not remains to be seen, but it's a good thing to be able to say I did!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Crowded House

Every night for the next week will be a three dog night.  We are dog sitting!  Our friends are on a week-long cruise.  Last summer, they drove to our camp and retrieved Teddy and kept her while TBG was hospitalized after his heart attack. We owed them big time.

Three years ago, we kept Phineas the Border Collie for a week. He was 13 at the time and Teddy was three.  The wrestled all day, every day.  This time, not at all.  Phin approached her and put his paws on her back and just stopped.  She looked at him for a sign, but at 16 he is just too old to play.  But he wants to.  As the alpha of the group, he patrols the yard but mostly just stands and looks.  He is as deaf as a door nail.

Phineas is the "end of the line" for Border Collies in our "dog circle."  He is a year and a half older than our Woody would have been and he is the only BC left out of a group of almost a half dozen.  We all met on a Flyball team.  It is truly the end of a dog era.  Our friends who own him have four dogs and three of them are smaller -- two cockers and a bichon.  The girls are being boarded and the boys are staying with us.  You get to be a certain age and rambunctious big dogs no longer make sense!

I had wanted to go to the Elmwood Festival of the Arts this weekend but laundry and housework took up all day Saturday and we had to welcome our guests.  On Sunday I did a short jog.  No, I'm not supposed to run anymore but I find I can do a very slow jog for about three miles twice a week and be OK.  After that, I swam.  I thought that would be healthier than going to a street festival and it allowed me to do two more loads of laundry and change all of the beds. Besides after a hot day of work and exercise, a dip in the big river not only gives you a workout, it is both relaxing and cathartic.  Just perfect!
I was out walking Ollie the Cocker Spaniel this morning when I sited this three step run about four or five houses away, which I schlepped home. It was unbearably heavy and really too much for me to carry. It was filthy too.  My vision was to make it into a shelf or a wine rack.  If not, I can put a pallet on it and stack wood too keep it dry.  If that fails and it's not pressure treated, it will make for a good fire.  TBG said I should have waited for him to get it but I suspect he would have refused and I'm still cautious over his hernia healing.  He is going back to Spinning instruction next week and has his bike in the shop for expensive repairs. He can finally start riding again and I did not want to mess it up by my garbage picking habits!

I did make crab pasta tonight.  It turned out fairly well. There's capicolla, asparagus, mushrooms, onion, some of the crab meat, pecorino romano & parmesan cheeses in it.  We had "scallops in an ashtray" as an appie -- baked stuff scallops.  I have a busy week and it will make the evenings tough but tomorrow is supposed to be hot.  Teddy and I had a great swim tonight and we met up with "Swim Jim" -- we plan on the same for tomorrow plus TBG wants to join us. Summer is slipping away -- we must make the most of it!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Back to the Fence!

 Here are is a sample of one of the six trays I picked up yesterday for a buck a piece.  I went into Home Depot (I buy there because I own stock) and got a can of clear Rustoleum and a packages of shower curtain hooks. The hooks might have been a cheaper find elsewhere but I am pressed for time these day!  Since I wasn't sure if the trays would rust outside or not, the goal was to coat them with the spray to prolong their life.
I love this tray which used to belong to my grandmother.  The thing is, we don't really have an area to display it and we never use it.  While it is a hand painted beauty and I love it, we never get to enjoy it.  So, I'm doing something I know my siblings will abhor but will serve the purpose of increasing my enjoyment of it.  It got a coat of the same Rustoleum as my cheap thrift store trays and it is going into the garden.
The shower curtains are going to be hooks on the outdoor buffet.  The reason for choosing them was their dark color and because they are rust resistant -- after all, they were designed to be hung in a wet place!  I had enough extra to use a few in the kitchen too.  We'll hang grilling implements here when we cook outside and I wanted a hook I could leave outside (but will bring in during the winter).  I still can't wait to have the fence stained.  We are also waiting on Jimmy Jam to do a little more finish work but he has been MIA this weekend.

This is how I'm going to arrange the trays.  I will bring up the big tray once the fence is stained but did not want to mount it until then.  I'm not entirely sure how I'll decide to mount it.  I figured I'd have a different theme for each panel and this one would be the flower tray area.  I have a big metal star and was going to put that on the bottom of another panel and may do other stars or hang a flag in the panel over that.  I also have my eyes open for more carved wood serving pieces.  They are generally teak and handle water well. I want to mount those where I can too.

I don't want to go crazy decorating the fence but I do want to add some visual interest. It was nice to find those bargain trays for sure!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

My Split Personality

I am forever looking for a bargain and then I am also guilty of making impulse splurge purchases -- as long as I can think of them in a frugal way.

The packages of undies were three bucks a piece at the thrift store and they are new/never worn. They were bonus packs where two were free (five for the price of three).  I bought them with six decorative trays that are for the garden.  With a four dollar off coupon and tax, I spent $11.25.  It's been good hunting at Amvets for under garments and garden decor this year.

As for the crab meat, I really really like lump crab meat and this was $12.47 for the can which is four or five bucks cheaper than the regular supermarket price (even on sale).  It was a Price Rite buy.  While it's a bit of a high price per pound meal item for me, my plan is to stretch it into a few meals.  There's a good chance it will go on a crab and asparagus pizza and I'll also toss the same combo over pasta another night.

Tonight we're having grilled boneless pork chops with left over plaintain polenta on the side.  So I'll be posting about a crab meat creation some other time!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Plantain Polenta

Plantains are high in protein, fiber plus lots of good nutrition.  These were 3/$1 and the basis for dinner tonight.  I had TBG grill them with peppers, onions & mushrooms.  They had been basted in BBQ sauce.  The goal was to make a nutritious vegetarian meal and I almost succeeded -- except for a little chicken stock in the polenta!
The polenta has black beans, corn, diced onion & pepper, carrots, raisins, dried currants, sunflower & pumpkin seeds, celery and a few other things I've forgotten about.  To cook the corn meal, I used stock, sweet juice and water.

There is plenty of this left over and I will probably make another meal and use this as a side to some grilled pork.  It will reheat well in the oven and I have some of the marinade left -- since there was no meat in it, I'm saving it!

On the job front, I found out that it is highly unlikely that my new group will get funding to create a permanent full time position for me.  Oh well!  My new boss has reached out to two other managers that she would like me to meet because they may have openings suited to my talents.  One position is the same job title, etc. as I was hired for and that would be OK with me.  The other is much different but something I'd be interested in and not unlike roles I've filled in the past.

My future is still up in the air but I have work to do until October when my contract expires.  I'm looking forward to meeting people in other departments and am lucky the managers I've worked for have been eager to ring my bell.  Stay tuned....

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Three Little Things

Three little things got done today. Well, it's easy for me to say they were little because I only did one of them.  The other two took some muscle work.

OK, the side patch of our driveway that had been overgrown with yucca and other vines was leveled today and flagstone went in.  We'll be getting more pea gravel to fill it in.  We did also have a little bit of fill work done in the foreclosure yard next door because pooling water there is not helping us at all.  I am just thrilled to have this small strip of real estate free of growth.  It was hit with Round-Up and that is something we'll probably have to do periodically as a lot of root had to be pulled and there was no way it was all found.
Extra flagstone was used to rebuild this border up front.  Smaller pieces had been here before and were forever being kicked out of place.  This might not seem like much but it does look better.  We'll do some more in the larger flower bed in front of the stoop.
Dinner was an easy mash up.  One package of yellow rice and one cup of plain with some extra stock added to water.  There's black beans, chicken, peppers, onions, spinach, fresh corn, mushrooms and shrimp plus a topping of cheese.  I just tossed it all in the pot (except for the cheese of course) and let it go. I added the shrimp the last 8 minutes of cooking.   This was actually a small effort but we got a big pot of food out of it.

There are a few more tasks remaining in the yard.  We have to stain and do some small projects -- flower boxes, the wire trellis, hanging stuff, etc.  But from here on in, it's small stuff.

It's nice when small stuff can make a big difference!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Capicolla Meal 3...

This our third and final meal with the half pound of capicolla.  The sauce is made of chopped garlic, oil, capicolla, shrimp, tomato and fresh baby spinach.  Plus a healthy dose of oil.  Let's not forget the massive quantity of fresh parm I like to dress the top with.  I grated more after I took this picture.

There is enough left behind for TBG to have lunch tomorrow.  I really can't believe it's just Tuesday and I have to more week night meals to make.  It is tough to keep churning them out on  my schedule.  Tomorrow we'll enjoy fresh corn on the cob. I'll figure out what kind of protein but it will probably be a mix of shrimp and chicken.

As bad as it might seem for me, I am trying to do a slow jog maybe two days a week. Nothing fast and nothing far.  The town pool has been closed for repair and I can't necessarily swim with Teddy in the river every night.  Last night I thought she was going to drown me because I wouldn't relinquish the ball so she kept swimming at me and being a jerk in general.  She has a way of trying to jump on you and wrestle even when you're swimming.  So some nights, I just need a swim break from her!  Woody our Border Collie would come in the water and just swim circles around you.  Not Teddy.  She has to be engaged and causing trouble.

It does look like warm weather is coming back so the AC is on.  That means it will probably feel good to swim tomorrow no matter how much of an idiot my dog tries to be.  We are dog sitting for two dogs next week and that should take up most of my free time.  A friend and her husband drove to our camp and picked up Teddy then kept her for the week Tommy was in the hospital after his heart attack.  The least we can do is watch two of their four dogs while they go on a cruise.

I'm going to enjoy my freedom for the rest of the week while I can!