Saturday, January 24, 2015

What a week

Well, it's been a week of medical fun. My husband had oral surgery on Tuesday and I had news from my primary care doctor.

Doug endured 4 hours of surgery and thankfully he slept through most of it. Once we got home he slept roughly 15 hours straight with occasional wakeful periods to eat frozen yogurt and take medicine. The recovery period is amazing as he’s up and about and without much pain at all. That’s so much trauma to your body, having oral surgery. He remembers nothing but he sure was weaving like a drunken sailor when we got home. Honestly, I wasn’t sure how I would get him up the stairs for bed that evening but…..we made it!

He jokes that he must have looked like Mr. Gower from It’s a Wonderful Life after George Bailey wasn’t born. Kindly, I did not spray Doug in the face with seltzer.



With the exception of him being bored with the soft diet all is well. Note on the soft diet if you need it after something like oral surgery – we fared well with Ensure, Cottage Pie, chicken and rice with vegetables such as peas and deiced chicken, Rapid Ragu, yogurt (both frozen and breakfast type), oatmeal, scrambled eggs and grits and Quiche.

In late October I had a call from my doctor, letting me know my liver enzyme numbers were high again. Since I never ever take acetaminophen I was certain the problem was alcohol. Evening meals with wine every night was surely the cause of this evil enzyme rise in my blood. So, perfect solution, I opted to abstain from all alcohol for three months and repeat the blood test in Januray.

I was quite a good girl in abstaining from alcohol, yes- wine and spirits both – with the exception of two gin and tonics spaced about 3 weeks apart in all of December. C’mon, that’s very good from someone who enjoys the occasional tipple while listening to music. Or sitting on the patio. Or by the fire. When my results came back with even higher numbers I was shocked.

Naturally I went into panic mode and trolled the Internet for symptoms and health problems in this area. Bad idea, one can take a bad headache and turn it into a tumor when reading WebMD. So, next step is going to a specialist and enjoying some tests. Bah! Meh.

Ok, on to something fun - our granddaughter Elizabeth is pulling herself up and standing. Soon she's be toddling all over the house so lookout! Let's put up the breakables. I remeber when Tristan started walking - whoa, that was about 25 years ago - we had to secure everything so he wouldn't get hurt.

Here she is balancing on a Christmas toy. Tristan took the little Philadelphia Eagles outfit off of a teddy bear that was his as a child and put it on Elizabeth. The bear was a gift from his grandfather and now it's Elizabeth's toy, if she wants it.



Tristan has been applying for jobs and hopefully something will come up soon in the Tallahassee area. Now that he's out of the Army I think they would like to put roots down here. It's good to have the family closer, nice to see everyone any time we want instead of driving hours for a short visit.

That's about it for us. I'm at the library using free internet connections since we are at our total usage allowance at home :-(

Hope all is well in your world!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Navarin of Lamb

Even though I live in Florida it's not been balmy temps and sandy beaches lately. A few mornings ago we woke up to 19 F and it was so cold, the wind slicing through our coats, we couldn't walk the dogs. I don't think they actually wanted to walk since they did their business in the yard and came bursting toward the back door afterwards!




I have always said I love boots, scarves and sweaters - now is the time I am getting to wear all those lovelies. What we need here is a warming meal, something hearty that sticks to the ribs and warms the kitchen too.

Navarin of lamb is just the ticket for anyone in cold climates right now. (And if you aren't vegetarian of course) I had to share this recipe as it came out so well. Come share a bowl with us!



Navarin of Lamb

2 1/2 pounds boneless lamb shoulder
2 tablespoon olive oil
3 tablespoons chopped green onions, white part
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups water
1 can (14.5 ounces) tomatoes, drained, chopped
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 large clove garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon dried leaf thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper
6 medium carrots, cut in 1-inch slices
4 medium white turnips, quartered, or 1 small rutabaga, cut in 1 1/2 to 2-inch chunks
12 small white onions, peeled, or frozen
3 tablespoons butter

Method

Cut lamb shoulder into 1-inch cubes and brown in oil in a Dutch oven or stock pot. Add green onions and lightly brown; add flour and stir.

Add water, tomatoes, wine, garlic, thyme, parsley, and bay leaf. Simmer for 45 minutes; remove meat and strain liquid into a bowl. Place lamb back in pot and add strained liquid. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

In a large skillet, melt butter over medium low heat. Add carrots, turnips, onions to skillet; cook, stirring, until vegetables are lightly browned. Add to broth and lamb in the large pot.

Cover and simmer lamb stew for 30 to 45 minutes, or until tender, adding more water or bouillon if necessary. Skim off fat; serve this lamb stew with good bakery bread.



I am open and welcome to anyone's suggestions on their go-to winter meals. Something hearty and hot!

If you try this I hope you enjoy!

Tina

Friday, January 09, 2015

Two Topics Today: Combining Two Websites & Recycling Christmas Cards
(a green tip and a money saver for next year's tags!)

I've certainly not been updating this blog or staying in touch as much as I've been thinking about it. The time gets away from me. Finally I am feeling better and well enough to socialize again. First thing I would like to share is a budget saver for next year's Christmas tags.

Here is a good way to use the Christmas cards you received last year. I like to recycle where I can and save money anywhere possible. When you get around to de-christmasing the house and gather up your cards – what do you do with them? I don’t like tossing them out so I use the cards as future gift tags.



Using scrapbook scissors I cut the cover portion and set it aside to use as a gift tag for next Christmas. Scrapbook scissors have all these wiggly edges and it gives the card a homemade look.

See, now you can just write To: Aunty Jane and From: your name on the card. Tape to the package. Easy and a green way to use up the cards.



The other half of the card with the greeting and signature goes in a pile for me to respond to. If someone was nice enough to send me a greeting then I shall write them a letter after the holidays. That part of the card makes a good reminder for me.

I meant to post this earlier so it may be of some use to you but most likely you have cleared away your decorations by now. We did that last weekend.

With the return of my energy I hope to share some meal plans with you all soon. Coming up is a Navarin with lovely turnips and lamb.

You may also see some changes to the format of this site as I am making a project of incorporating my book blog( Novel Meals) here. As I signed up for book challenges using the web address at Novel Meals, I may just double post for this year.

I hope this finds you happy and healthy this January.

Tina

Thursday, January 01, 2015

It's 2015 already?

Well better late than never wishing everyone a Happy New Year!

I hope you rang in 2015 with lots of fun. Did you have champagne? Lots of great food? Parties galore?! Or are you in bed long before the clock chimes midnight because you have to get up early?

The past few years I have tried to make a nice buffet of light fare so we can snack and watch a movie, maybe listen to music and click glasses when the old year departs and the new number rolls out at midnight. Check out the fare from a previous year HERE where I served up bacon-wrapped shrimp, artichoke risotto and corn fritters.

That's what I wanted to do last evening. Alas, Doug and I have been ill for several days past and unfortunately, my energy and planning went out the window ( along with copious amounts of tissues). What we did manage was grilling chicken wings and serving it up with baked sweet potatoes and sauteed vegetables.

As I mentioned in my previous post, our son is now out of the Army so Tristan, Angel and Elizabeth were able to eat dinner with us. Here is a new photo of our granddaughter Elizabeth with her mommy.



Christmas came and went without fanfare but we don't usually do much. Doug grilled a standing rib roast on the charcoal grill, adding pecan wood chips for an excellent flavor. Here is the beauty below - getting it's internal temp checked.



This weekend we will most likely De-Christmas the house and put up the decorations, tree, cards and paraphernalia. Other than that, we are taking it easy and regaining our health after recovering from such a wicked cold.

Not many new resolutions this year except the usual to eat healthier and write more. I have entered a few writing contests and since I now have this sparkly new computer I want to get all the stories in my notebooks into print.

One idea I played with recently was combining my two blogs - Squirrel Head Manor and Novel Meals. But they are so different so...chances are I will try and keep both up....unless I get bored and abandon one of them. We'll see!

Crocheting and reading remain a constant interest so more of each to share.

I hope this finds you happy and healthy and you make plans for many good things in your life for 2015. Thank you for all your support and nice comments over the year. You are appreciated!!

Bye for now!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Getting out of the Army,
Books and Pets and
A new Subaru

As with every Christmas season I am eating far too much. Why, oh why, do people at work bring in so many sweets in November and December? They would be a welcome surprise in April, a doughnut would be so nice in June. Sadly I have a sweet tooth and my determination and willpower can only withstand so much. Obviously I need to buy oranges and apples for snacks at work so I can turn toward a heathy food choice. Stupid candy bowls on a desk – bah!

Our son finally received his orders and his last day as a US Army soldier is December 23rd. That’s great for all of us that he and his family will be back in close proximity. Nice Christmas gift to have them back but the down side is he needs to find work. Please keep him in your thoughts as he begins the hunt for employment.





One Subaru: We have downsized from 2 cars to one.

Goodbye to the Scion!


We sold the old Scion xB and Rav4 and now have a Subaru Forester. I love it! We love it! It has heated seats and heated mirrors, great gas milage and all sorts of creature comforts. Since we ride to work together and I don’t drive at night it makes sense to have one vehicle. Saves us on insurance too.



Pet News



Kobe had a very bad bout of diarrhea recently. The vet visit, blood sample, tests and meds were dispensed which ran us $215. He started back on the mend and wouldn’t you know it, Aja got sick a few days later.

The recommended course was to keep her from food for 24 hours. Whatever was causing the distress would be gone after that time frame and her digestive tract would have time to heal. We opted for that plan instead of forking out another $215. Worked like a charm!

Turned out it was the canned dog food we had been using. Taste of the Wild has been on their evening meal plan for quite a while but suddenly, their little colons rebelled against it. Now both are doing well.

Here he is, all sad because he had blood taken. See his cute little red bandage?





Reading: Books recently have included:
Nora Webster
Broadchurch
You have to Fucking Eat
Choose your own Autobiography NPH


I am gearing up for two book challenges this upcoming year.


That’s about it for the Squirrel Head Manor update. Hopefully I can get it together to send a card or letter before Christmas. I will still take this time to wish anyone reading a lovely and safe holiday. Be careful out there!

Monday, December 08, 2014

Crochet, Army Downsizing and Books

This is my view in the evening when I decide to crochet a few rows on this afghan. Aja is lovely company.



Recently I stopped at Joanne Fabric store to check out the yarn section. I was amazed at the number of aisles devoted to yarn and consequently, I spent too much. But, if you spent a certain dollar amount you could purchase this craft bag for only $9.99.



It sells at a regular price for $29 and I have to say, I wouldn’t have paid that for it. But for $10 it’s completely worth it. My yarn hording has reached such levels that all the skeins won’t fit in this bag but it’s perfect for toting the current project.




Evenings have been devoted to crocheting a few rows with the exception of the last several days. I’ve been on the phone talking or texting to Doug while he was out of town and there was a new development with our soldier son.... so many phone calls.

The army is downsizing and he is being released early. While it will be wonderful to have him, his wife and daughter back in the same area it will be tough finding jobs in this economy. Keep him in your thoughts please!


Bookish stuff:
I am still reading Nora Webster and it’s quite engaging. Speaking of books, I found a few book challenges to take on for next year. There is the What’s in a Name challenge hosted by Charlie at The Wormhole and I think I’ll participate I the British Book Challenge again next year. My round up for the 2014 challenges may be viewed HERE, if you are interested.



Hope all is well in your world.

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