Saturday, September 26, 2015

There's an Echo in the Fridge

For someone who likes to cook as much as I do it is surprising that I let THIS happen.

1/2 of a jar of Alfredo sauce (expired), 1 tub of sour cream (unopened), yeast, some Sesame Ginger  Salad Dressing, leftover Adobe sauce, some home canned Prickly Pear Jelly, and a box of baking soda.  Oh, and some celery in the produce drawer.  Slim pickings.  Time to shop, right?  You know I love big cooking days to fill my freezer so I took advantage of the situation to make a menu and a list.  I was actually a little surprised I was able to buy everything I needed for so little.  Subtract the 3 items that were not for the recipes and you get $66.94.

So what did I get for $66.94?

15 Pumpkin Spice Scones
12 11 Apple Strudel Muffins (I ate one for breakfast, yum)
4 servings of Apple Spice Oatmeal

Pumpkin Scones
Spices and things like baking soda and baking powder were not factored into this since I already had them on the self.  Neither was sugar.

8 servings of Layered Chicken Enchilada Casserole
8 servings of Chicken and Stuffing Bake
8 servings of Italian Sausage Cavaletti (I didn't follow this recipe exactly, but I was close)
8 servings of Paleo Taco Skillet (for taco salads or tacos)
3 BBQ Chicken Pizzas with pineapple, red onion, and spinach

8 Freezer Dinner Rolls
9 Hamburger/Sandwich Rolls from the Freezer Dinner Rolls recipe, just much larger and baked
12 Cornbread muffins with red peppers

Thats 64 meal servings plus dinner rolls, hamburger buns, and pizza crust.  Just over $1 per person per meal average.  Of course, the Taco Skillet needs tortillas and the fixings, and we may have a side salad with the Caveletti, but everything else is complete.

I used almost everything I bought.  I do have 4 eggs, some milk,  half a bottle of Bbq sauce, half a bunch of spinach, 8 oz of penne pasta, and 8 oz of stuffing mix left over for another recipe.

And what does my refrigerator look like now?  Not that much different.

Almost the same as before, but my freezer looks great!

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Number 58: Hueco Tanks State Park

Before we even reached the park back in July.  Before we knew the park's boundaries.  We knew this one was going to be a little different.  It sits outside El Paso in what seems like the middle of nowhere.

The main attractions of the park are the three 450 foot high rock areas that were thrust up out of the desert.  They are dwarfed by the surrounding mountains and much different in their make up.

But like I said, we knew it was going to be different before we reached the gate.  This coyote was a clue.

And so was this road runner.  I was so happy to get pictures of him.  We have seen them in other parks, but I have never been able to snap a shot before they jetted off into the shrubs.

 Before heading out on our hike we were required to watch a video about the park explaining its history and conservation efforts.

But it's not the wildlife the TPWD is trying to protect so much as the amazing 3000 Pictographs and artifacts found throughout the rock dating back 10,000 to 11,000 years.

After the movie, Breck and I got a map from the Ranger and hiked to one of the many locations to see some of the pictographs for ourselves - Kiva Cave.

The opening to the cave is narrow, but once you crawl your way inside the temperature drops and the amazing pictographs are visible above your head.

It's very cool to see something so old.

And if it were not for the pictographs the cave would still be stunning.

Hiking around the rocks was pretty cool too.  So interesting to me all the nooks and crannies the plants find to grow in.

I was happy to get so many wildlife shots here.

I count this park as very special.  Being able to see the pictographs and photograph two animals that have been on my list for so long made it a real treat.

It's too bad that so many people have defaced many of the pictographs and that portions of the park are only open by tours now to protect the history.  Honestly, I find it pretty sad that a sign like this is even necessary.

We only explored a very small section of the park, but with our travels to and from California I have no doubt we will pass this way again and take the tour of the rest of the park and more pictographs.

Thursday, September 10, 2015


Summer and all the traveling that went with it are behind me.  From Boston . . .
Trevor's graduation from Harvard with many family and friends.
. . . to California . . .
Annual Templeton Family Reunion
. . . and a few stops along the way for some state parks and a great trip to Georgia.  10,000 miles of driving (literally, actually, truly), but things are settling down now.  And fall weather is right around the corner.  The Beauty Berry is in full bloom.  Always a good sign.

H3 Berry Basket
And the trees don't lie.  The reds are beginning to pop up in the backyard.

M1 Dogwood Days
And with fall comes the urge to get back into my sewing room and work.  Of course that means dodging my Inhibitors.  They love to beg for my attention when I'm sewing.

M2 Duff's Bluff
I have been making really good progress this week.  A few more blocks done,  more border pieces cut, and several applique blocks prepped and ready.

I10 Iris's Medallion 
I did take down the larger 8 rows that are complete so I could start to see what the border would look like.

If I could just stay focused long enough to get this puppy done!  I can't believe I've been working on it since January 15, 2012.  I shouldn't be too hard on myself though.  I've completed 8 rows, 159 - 4 1/2 inch blocks using 3398 pieces of fabric and only have 10 more blocks to go.  There.  Now I feel better.

If you want to see how all the blocks look together click here.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

City Girl Gets it Done!

I have become someone who does not enjoy the middle anymore.  Having spent most of my life living in suburbia, I have decided it's not my thing.  I am a City Girl and I am a Country Girl.  Right now the City Girl part of me is enjoying a new range at the condo. The old one was a scratch-n-dent purchase we believe made by the previous owner and it was horrible.

All the burners were crocked and the top was bent in so the oven door struggled to open.
But yesterday my new range arrived and I couldn't wait to install it.

Installation was $199 so I did it myself, of course.
It wasn't as easy as un-box and plug it in, but it was close.

Hmmm.  I didn't expect this, but still not worth $199.
I put in a call to my brother to confirm my electrical hooks up were correct (possible electrocution was not an option for me and the red and black wires were not labeled).

Two down and one to go.
After securing the strain relief clamp it was good to go.

And though I have no pictures, I will say that the first meal prepared on my new range was bacon and eggs over easy for Breck's breakfast this morning.  A treat, mind you, not a habit.

Obviously, we still have a long way to go to finish the kitchen.  But at least now we have the refrigerator, dishwasher, and range we want.  All that is left is a microwave, cabinets, counters, and back splash.  Oh, and a new light for the ceiling.  I know it doesn't seem like it, but we have come a long way.

New fuse box to bring it to code and a new refrigerator that is counter depth.
The new sink will be much smaller to allow for more counter space and the new dishwasher is awesome.
With no soffit, the new cabinets can go much higher.
It's a work in progress.