Friday, January 11, 2013

Lovely Cherry Soda in the STORE!


I have always been a big fan of cherry soda.  Just simple cherry soda...nothing added to it.
Up until now, it's been a delicacy that I could only buy at certain restaurants.  If I was in an emergency need, I could go to the drive-thru at Bojangles for a fix.  Or, if I wanted to have cherry soda at a sit-down restaurant, I could go to Showmars.

But, I couldn't buy a bottle of cherry soda to keep at home.  It just didn't exist!  I have been looking for cherry soda EVERYWHERE, and could never find it.  It was just so frustrating, especially when I would find  bottles of PINEAPPLE soda, or PEACH soda, or STRAWBERRY soda, but NEVER ANY CHERRY!!! GRRRRR!!!   I was SO ANGRY that it was not available for purchase in any stores.

Once, I even went so far as to look on eBay for a bottle.  But, the only thing I could find was BLACK cherry soda by Jones or Dr Brown's.  So, I did the next best thing....I bought a cherry soda MIX to add to club soda.  It never tasted the way I wanted it to, so I threw it away.  :(

Like I said before, I have been searching for cherry soda in a bottle at the store for YEARS.  Probably about 20 years....I'm not exaggerating.

So, you can imagine my intense joy and satisfaction, when I came across THIS at Walmart the other day!
I thought I was gonna have a HEART ATTACK!  You should have seen me.  My mouth dropped open, and my eyes became as big as saucers, and I said, "OMIGOSH!!!!  CHERRY SODA!!!!"

I'm sure the people around me thought that I was insane, but I didn't care.  I had been waiting TWENTY YEARS for this moment!!

Needless to say, I grabbed a bottle and lovingly carried it home.

Life is just about perfect now.  : )

Cherry Crush

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

"My" Hurricane is a Wicked Witch!

I really have no business writing a blog entry right now.  I should be asleep.
It's 3:30 AM, and I'm supposed to take my car to the shop at 7:30.
I guess I'll just take a nap before I go. :P

The reason I can't sleep is that I've been up watching the news online all about "Superstorm Sandy".
I feel a connection to this storm, because it's named after me.  But, whoa!  She is MUCH more wicked than I have ever been!

When I was a young girl, we watched the news about "Hurricane Ginger" (my sister's name), and I said, "I want a storm to be named after ME!"

Well, I finally got what I asked for 40 years later, and this storm is WAY MORE than I asked for!
Why couldn't "Hurricane Sandy" just be a normal little hurricane?  Why did it have to merge with all those other weather disaster ingredients to create a "Frankenstorm"?

Oh get what you get in life.  My moniker has been claimed by a beast, and I just have to live with it.

So, I think I've seen enough news about the superstorm now.  I'm gonna hit the sack.  My little car needs an oil change, and the tire pressure needs to be checked too.  The tire light keeps coming on...and yesterday the  BRAKE light came on!!  What's up with all that?  Maybe my car heard about the storm, and is afraid of me now.  Wouldn't surprise me.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Small (2 qt) Crock Pot Marinated Beef Stew

Last night, I bought a new, very small crock pot at Walmart - for $10.  While shopping on earlier occasions, I had seen this tiny crock pot, and thought it looked like it would work perfectly for my solo meals.

Rival 2 qt Slow Cooker

I already have a regular sized crock pot, but it made such huge amounts of food, that it would take me a MONTH to eat it all.  Usually, I was throwing away about half of what I made.  So, since I decided to buy the smaller one, I was looking forward to trying the recipes I would find in the manual.  Unfortunately, there is not a SINGLE recipe in the manual. :(

I decided to check online, to see what recipes I could find.  Not very many.  When I did a search on Google, it just showed results for recipes in regular sized crock pots, with just a few mentions of 2 quart sized concoctions.  Since I didn't have much luck online, I decided to just give it a try on my own.

There were some cubes of sirloin in my refrigerator, marinating in olive oil, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice and spices.  I had planned on grilling them on my George Foreman grill, like shish kabobs.  But, I decided to give them a try as the base for a beef stew in my little crock pot instead.

I opened the box, and got out my little slow cooker, gave it a good wash, then plugged it in.  Next, I poured in the marinated meat.  Then, I chopped up two medium potatoes, one large carrot, half an onion, and 4 mushrooms.  Next, I poured a can of tomato soup in, and added half a can of water as well.  Then, I sprinkled on some sea salt and cracked pepper.  It looked like it needed a bit more liquid, so I looked in the fridge, and got the can of Guiness Extra Stout that had been in there for a few weeks.  I poured it on top of the mixture in the crock pot, until it looked like it was full enough.  I still had about a third of a bottle of beer left, but it was too early in the day to drink it, so it went down the drain.

The mixture in the pot looked right, so I gave it a stir, then turned the dial to High.  It took about 30 minutes for me to get ready for work, then I turned the dial to Low as I walked out the door.   I was gone for about 6 hours, teaching piano lessons, then came home to a kitchen that smelled DIVINE!

The potatoes were still a little too hard, so I turned the dial back up to High, and set the timer for an hour.  While it cooked, I had a snack to ease my hungry, growling tummy, and played a few rounds of Wheel of Fortune on my Wii. :)

When the timer went off, I stepped into the kitchen, and the little slow cooker was happily bubbling my stew.  It smelled even better than before, and looked nicer as I stirred it up to take a look.  The potatoes were still not as tender as I wanted, so I turned the dial back to Low, and let it sit for about another hour.  So, the total cooking time was about 9 hours, I guess.

By this time, it was smelling heavenly, so I decided to try a bowl.  VERY TASTY!
Sirloin Beef Stew in Crock Pot
If you want to try my Small Crock Pot Marinated Beef Stew, here's the ingredients listed:
  • Small package of sirloin steak, cubed for beef kabobs
  • Marinate beef with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, sea salt, cracked pepper, Old Bay Seasoning, onion powder, garlic powder, and marjoram.  Place in ziploc bag, and marinate at least an hour - or overnight.  (I marinated mine for a whole day.)
  • Two medium yellow potatoes, cubed
  • One large carrot, thinly sliced
  • Half of one medium sweet onion, chopped
  • Four medium mushrooms, sliced
  • Sprinkling of sea salt and cracked pepper
  • One can of condensed tomato soup, and half a can of warm water
  • One bottle of Guiness Extra Stout Beer  (save this for last, and pour in a much as the crock pot will hold)
Stir Gently, Cook on High for one hour, then turn to Low and cook for 6 hours.
Stir well, then cook on High for another hour.  Next, check the potatoes and carrots to see if they are tender.  If not, then cook for another hour on Low.


Sunday, May 20, 2012

Journals - A "Do Over", Please?

Today, while organizing some papers in my office, I came across an old journal.  It was from my 20's, back when I was beautiful, with long red hair, aqua eyes, mascara'd lashes, shaded eyelids, and a nice shape.  My life was not an easy one, though.  By the time I was 30, I had a divorce, three children, and a broken heart from another serious relationship that ended. 

Sometimes, I wish I could re-write my old journals....filling in the blanks with the deeper parts, the ugly parts that no one should ever see.  For some reason, when I've written in journals, I've imagined that someone was reading over my shoulder, measuring my words to make sure I wasn't revealing too much....that I wasn't saying something that shouldn't be said.

Now, I wish I could remember it all....even the bad parts.  Because all the things I experienced made me who I am today. 

Here I am again...going through another broken relationship.  I'm not journaling this time, because I don't want a permanent record of it.  I feel cheated this it was all just a big mistake.  I just want it to be over with.

When other relationships ended, I mewed and moaned, and waited for someone to rescue me from my misery.  I felt wronged, and wounded, and just knew that someone better would come along...someone who would treat me the way I should be treated.

But, my late 40's...after going through three serious break-ups....I'm just tired of it all.
I don't want to hurt anymore.  I don't even want to feel anymore.

So, when loneliness creeps in, I cringe, and close my eyes, and fight the tears.  I want to grab loneliness by the throat, and squeeze mercilessly until every ounce of it's life is gone.  Loneliness has never accomplished anything worthwhile in my life.  It has led me down pathways of despair and pain and ugliness and rejection. 

Sure, there are some good memories from my past.  But, I don't even want to think about those...because then, I might start to get the idea that another relationship might be better.  I know now that's not true.  My relationships never work.  I'm no good at them.  I'm better off by myself.

Maybe that's why I wish I could re-write my journals.  Just in case someone really DOES read them one day.  I want them to know the FULL stupid I was, how ridiculously hopeful I was, how naive and trusting I was.  How I really didn't know that I was being lied to and manipulated.  How life would have been so much better if I had never had a serious relationship at all.  How I should have focused on finishing college, following my dreams, staying true to my calling.

But, this is my life now....what's left of it.  Lately, I've been writing music more often.  Pulling out the melodies that have been performed on the stage of my mind since I was a little girl.  They might not be appreciated by anyone else in the world.  But, then again, they might be considered a masterpiece one day.  All I can do is pull them out and put them on display.  We'll see what happens.

Maybe one day, I'll look back at this, and wish I could re-write that music.  Time will tell.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Alone Again....Naturally

Well, my marriage didn't work out.  No need to go into details, but he has moved on, and I am taking it one day at a time.

I've been alone before, so I know how to do it.  I just need to keep myself busy, and focus on the important things.  Right now, the most important thing is getting caught up on my bills.  I'm blessed, because I don't have any credit cards or small loans.  Just basic stuff.  My house, my car, groceries, gas, electricity, water, phone, medicine, taxes, doctor bills, and car insurance.  This month, I've been working on catching up on my house and car payments, because they are not quite current.

Since I needed to catch up on bills, I decided to sell a lot of the spinning fiber I have collected over the years.  Originally, I bought it all, intending to spend many hours making yarn on my spinning wheel.  But, it has not been touched since I bought it.  Seemed silly to hold onto something I wasn't using, while I was behind on my house payment.

So, I found the right place on Ravelry to list them for sale, and was able to sell them all!  What a relief!  The fiber was beautiful, but I didn't feel bad about mailing it away.  Now, I am getting on top of my finances, and feeling much better about my situation.  I still have a small amount of spinning fiber left in my craft room, and I still have my wheel and tools.  If I find that I'm still not using them, I will sell all of it.

Every day is busy with teaching piano lessons, practicing music for church, helping my parents when they need me, knitting, crocheting, making knit & crochet videos, blogging, moderating the forum on the Bernat Yarn website, and checking in on the Knitting Help Forum.   It's easy to stay on top of housecleaning, since it's just me here. 

I'm careful about my grocery purchases, trying to only buy things I know I will use - and looking for specials at the grocery store.  If I need to go shopping for clothes, I go to Goodwill or Salvation Army - always find great deals there.  Some of the clothes still have the tags on them from when they were originally purchased in retail stores!

I don't entertain, so my home is very basic.  And since it's just me here, I can arrange everything anyway I want.  I have changed the living room into a music room, hoping to teach lessons in my home one day.  I have an organ, a piano, and a keyboard.  I also have a music stand for singing or playing other instruments.

There is a nice, high back chair in the living room, for sitting and knitting while watching television.  I don't have cable, but I enjoy watching Netflix on my Wii.  I also have a few games to play on the Wii and Gamecube.  And I have a nice selection of videos and DVDs for watching, as well....I've gotten most of those at thrift stores over the years.  Recently, I found a nice little rocking chair at a thrift store for $30.  I just love rocking there to rest and relax.

Since I have allergies and asthma, I don't have a pet.  Along those lines, I decided to remove all the carpet in my house.  It was just collecting dust and dirt, and the vacuum cleaner could not get it all.  Pulling up the carpet made lots of dust fly in the air, and I got sick of course, but when it was removed, everything just improved.  I cleaned the floors, and put down vinyl stick on tiles, and learned how to make shoe molding to finish the edges.  So far, I've done the flooring in 3 rooms, and they look great! 

I still have one room left to do, so I need to get that done.  There is also a hole in the ceiling in that room, so that's step one.  I have no idea how to fix a ceiling hole, and I don't know how much it will cost to get it repaired.  Just waiting a while on that one.  For now, it's stuffed with polyester fiberfill. :P  When the ceiling is repaired, I will paint it.  Then I want to paint the walls in that room.  Next, the last bit of carpet will come out of the house!  I'm looking forward to getting that done, and putting the flooring in there.

The last thing I will need to get done is the flooring in the hallway.  There is a split going all the way up the hall, and I have no IDEA how to repair that.  So, I'm wanting to get a flooring company in here to do the hallway.  I will also have them install the transitions from the hallway to each room's floor, because I don't know how to do that either.

I've been blessed recently with a piano student who trades home repair work for lessons.  What a wonderful thing!  So far, he has fixed the light in my oven vent, checked my attic for repairs to the central air system, helped me find where a squirrel has been getting into my attic, and fixed a leak in the tub faucet.  I wish I could find more students who would trade repair work for lessons, because there are a lot of things I need to get fixed. 

Here's the list of things I need to have done:

Repair hole in ceiling
Install strong wire guard in attic to keep out squirrels and birds
Repair floor in hallway
Remove everything from garage, so it can be tossed or sold
Remove and replace siding on garage (termite damage)
Remove and replace garage door and side door
Repair roofing on garage

Remove and replace counter top and backsplash in kitchen
Replace kitchen sink and hardware (I already have the new stuff)
Replace bathroom light fixture (I have new one)
Install steps at back of house, or make a deck at that location. (prefer deck)
Check on driveway and make repairs
Install new post for mailbox
Repair steps at side of house
Repair door frame at side of house
Remove storm windows

Paint exterior of house
Install new storm windows
Install new storm doors
Install new back door
Add weather-proofing around doors and windows
Replace bathtub

I know I can't get it all fixed right now, but I can dream!  It would be so nice to have it all repaired. 

For now, I will just keep surviving the best I can.  My craft room is a comfort to me.  I enjoy going in there, and finding a new project to work on.  Sometimes, I will sit there in my glider rocker, and work on a project while listening to books on tape.  I have gotten most of my audiobooks at thrift stores, but I will occasionally check one out from the library.  It's fun "reading" a book while crafting.  I am accomplishing two things at once!

So, don't worry about me.  I'm okay.  I get lonely occasionally, but I have some good friends that I enjoy spending time with.  And I see piano students, family, and church people every week.  And best of all, I can talk to the Lord all day long.  He has been so close to me through this.  I thank God every day for being my companion and savior.

Talk soon!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Celebrating Agatha Christie's Birthday

Today was Agatha Christie's 121st birthday (she was born September 15th, 1890).

I decided to celebrate with Hercule Poirot, various other Agatha Christie characters, and Miss Marple style knitting. :)

First on the agenda:  "Murder on the Orient Express", starring David Suchet as Poirot.
Unintentionally, it was next on my Netflix queue.  It arrived yesterday, just in time for the birthday celebration!  :D

Next:  "Endless Night" streaming on Netflix.  This is a more contemporary Agatha Christie novel, written in the 1960's.  The movie stars Hailey Mills in one of the major roles.  Unlike "Murder on the Orient Express", this story does not involve Hercule Poirot.  No sign of Miss Marple either.  You won't even find Tommy and Tuppence in this one!  All the characters are unknown, and the story is very interesting.  I'm so glad I read the book before watching this particular movie, because the ending is a MAJOR surprise, and makes the book one of my favorites.  I've read that this story is Agatha Christie's favorite as well! 

While watching both movies, I'll be knitting a project that involves Miss Marple.  The pattern is the "Diddle Dumpling" baby sweater from a vintage Bairnswear pattern book.  There is a nice little story involved in this project.  It's a MYSTERY even!  :D

A few years ago, I was watching a Miss Marple episode on PBS called "A Caribbean Mystery".   Joan Hickson was playing the part of Miss Marple, and did a great job (as usual).  During the show, the cameraman took a shot of Miss Marple knitting a baby sweater.  The camera view was over her shoulder, and I saw the actual knitting pattern in front of her!

Diddle Dumpling - Miss Marple Knitting

My eyes were immediately glued to the screen, and I noticed that the name of the pattern was "Diddle Dumpling".  I jumped up from my chair, and ran down the hall to look up the pattern on the internet.  But, I was disappointed.  No such pattern could be found.  Not even by doing a "dogpile" search! :(

Seque to 2011, and I was browsing Ravelry.  I was a member of a Ravelry group called "Mystery Book Talk", and mentioned that I wished I could find the "Diddle Dumpling" pattern.  Some of the members responded that other people had been searching for the pattern as well, with no luck.  We continued the discussion, and someone eventually figured it out!  She had a DVD of the episode, so she was able to watch the scene over and over again.  After several viewings, she decifered the name that was at the top of the pattern page - BAIRNSWEAR.  Then, she searched for Bairnswear patterns on the internet.  Finally, she found the actual Diddle Dumpling pattern!!  We all rejoiced!!!

Diddle Dumpling is in this book

Pattern Book:  Bairnswear #107
Link to purchase pattern: The Vintage Knitting Lady

Ravelry Pattern Page: "Diddle Dumpling"

I've decided to knit my sweater, using some vintage 100% wool in my stash.  It's called "Rochelle Sweater & Sock Yarn", and is a lovely turquoise color.  I think it will make a sweet cardigan. :)

Rochelle Sweater Sock

I've only knit a tiny portion so far, but I'm loving how it looks.
Cast On - vintage baby sweater

If I can pay attention to the pattern tonight, I hope to get further along in the pattern.  But, those two movies might just peel my eyes away from my knitting.

Talk soon!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Sandy's Candy - Almonds, White Chocolate, Peanut Butter, etc.

Tonight, I had a sweet tooth. And there was not a cookie or piece of candy to be found in the whole house. I had already had a bowl of cereal, and I didn't want another one.

So, I looked through the cupboards and found some things I thought would work together well in a recipe. I was in a hurry to have it made, so I didn't want to spend 30 minutes looking through recipe books, or surfing the internet recipe boards. SO, I just started throwing things together. Luckily, it turned out very well!

Almond Peanut Butter Oat Sugar Delight
I started out by melting 16 ounces of white chocolate in the microwave. When it was melted, I poured it into a medium mixing bowl. Next, I grabbed a jar of peanut butter and dug out a very large spoonful to mix with the white chocolate. Then, I walked over to the cabinet over the sink, and chose a can of cocoa. I then stirred up the white chocolate and peanut butter, with a generous spoonful of cocoa.

When this was well blended, I poured in an entire can of whole natural almonds. This looked pretty good, but it wasn't thick enough. So, I reached over and opened a big container of whole oats, pouring in about a cup and a half. After stirring all that together, it was looking much better. Just the right consistency.

Standing there, looking at the big bowl of gooey goodness, I wondered what I should do next. It tasted great, but I wanted it to be easier to eat. I mean, I could just stand there and keep eating it with a big spoon, but I knew it would start to harden up after awhile. :P

SO, I tore out a large sheet of waxed paper, and poured the entire bowl out on it. It made a big pile....not too appetizing. Next, I tore out another sheet of waxed paper, and placed it on top. Then, I smushed it down, until it was spread out evenly all over the paper. It was easy to do, since it was between two sheets of waxed paper.

Then, I decided to let it sit and harden. I watched Netflix while I waited, and licked the bowl clean. Yum!

After about 30 minutes, my treat was set. At first, I thought I would just cut it into smaller pieces, and store it in a covered bowl. But, then I remembered that I had some confectioners sugar in the cabinet. So, I cut the candy into pieces, and then put about a dozen pieces at a time in a small ziploc bag filled with the confectioners sugar. After shaking the bag around, I took out the pieces and placed them in a bowl. NOW it was finished. Just beautiful! I picked up a piece and popped it in my mouth. OH YUM!!!

Now, I just need to come up with a name for it. Almond Oat Delight? Almond Sugar Bites? Almond Peanut Butter Oat Sugar Heaven? (tee-hee)

Here are the ingredients:

16 ounce package of white chocolate for melting
8 ounce container of whole natural almonds
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/3 cup cocoa
1 1/2 cups whole oats
1/2 cup confectioners sugar