Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Two Out Of Three Ain't Bad

We have three daughters, two can cook. The third one once burned Cup O Noodles because, although there's only one step to it -- add water and microwave -- she forgot to add water! Luckily, she married a very good guy who can, thankfully, cook. We went to visit them early this month.

The snow came down intermittenly while we were in the Chicago area. One day my daughter called and asked me to go to a certain cabinet in her kitchen. "Look in the left side of the cabinet." she said. "There's a green binder, it says recipes..." hmmmm? I held my breath wondering what she might be planning to cook for us.

Did I mention she's a neat freak who lables and organizes everything?

Fearfully, I opened her recipe book up as she directed...

YAY!!! She only wanted the phone number for the local pizza place. We lived through another meal.

We're still wondering what will happen when she actually starts collecting recipes instead of to-go menus?

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Change Is Easy, Decisions Are Hard

The problem with change is actually making the decision. A long time ago, I read the book If Life Is A Game, These Are The Rules. In that book it says when you make a decision on your "life path", you should only answer "yes" or "no". God, I wish I had learned that lesson a lot earlier in my life. It sure makes it easier to make big decisions. Several people I know right now are trying to make lifepath decisions. I wish they could see how easy those decisions actually are. Don't Pro and Con it, just ask yourself "Do I want to do ___?Yes or No?"

So what's my problem? I don't have big lifepath decisions any more, just the little stuff. Like our front yard. When we bought our house last year, the one thing we knew for sure was that this walkway would have to go!

It's ugly, straight, ugly, hard to walk on -- in fact, downright dangerous -- and, did I mention ugly? Here's a shot of my father-in-law trying to walk down it.

The decision on what to do to replace it has us stumped. We know it will be a curvy pathway, but brick or flagstone? Or tumbled pavers? Remove most of the grass and put in a U-drive in front? We like to do things with a plan and we've been trying to come up with one.

We already removed the planting area to the right of the entry and put a flagstone patio under the window. That quick decision had to be made to get rid of a problem we had with too much water standing in that area and causing the plants to die. The yard in front is not that big, but it is way bigger than we wanted to mow and water once the Texas heat hits in July and August.

The plan we're working on now includes putting a single car garage attached to this side of the house. The garage and driveway would do away with a lot of grass in this area. The garage would come out as far as the garage on the other side of the house, creating a shaded patio area where you see the plants below the window in the left side of this picture. No more mowing or watering this area makes the extra garage a top choice for me!

The block walkway would be removed and a curvy walkway will lead down to the street, as well as go around both sides of the house to the garages, taking out as much grass as possible. Our last house was on an acre of land, which is where we learned the less to mow and water, the better life can be!

What decisions are you trying to make? If they have to do with your lifepath, try just answering yes or no. If they have to do with the little mundane things of life, I hope your decisions come easier than ours!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Easy Asian Meal

Our oldest daughter has lost almost 40 pounds since October by increasing protien and cutting out most starches, sugars, and processed foods from her diet. We could stand to lose a few pounds, so we thought we'd try it.

Our menu the other night was tempura shrimp for an appetizer and a pork and bok choy stir fry eaten without the usual rice.

Yeah...I'm still using my cute little Christmas dishes! I keep saying I need to put them away! Wait til you see what else is still up...

The tempura shrimp was delish. I can't take credit for it though. I used this box of frozen tempura shrimp. There's very little in it except a light coating and the shrimp. Most important, it comes from the USA, which is very important to us. We try to buy products and produce from the USA only whenever possible.

All we had to do was bake the shrimp in the oven for about 15 minutes. Just follow the directions on the box. The sweet and sour sauce is in a little packet in the box and we just used a little of it. Our daughter would've skipped the sauce I'm sure, but that's why she's down 40 pounds and we're not!
To make the sauce for the stir fry, I opened a can of chicken broth and put most of it in a measuring cup. I added a Tbs of cornstarch, a couple of Tbs of low-sodium soy sauce, and a dash of Karo light syrup. You can use less cornstarch and go without the Karo syrup and it would still be a good dish. It all depends on your taste. Go on and experiment.

I sliced the bok choy. It's sort of a combo cabbage/celery type veggie. It's rated as one of the best vegetables by Dr Oz. I love bok choy and use it to make Chinese noodle soup and lots of stir fry type dishes. Don't over cook it! It's better a little on the crisp side.
I forgot to get a picture of the pork chop I used for this dish. But, picture a frozen, boneless, skinless pork chop that you slice thinly while it's still mostly frozen. It's easier to get thin slices that way. I put a little olive oil in the pan and stir fried the pork for just a few minutes until it was cooked, then added the bok choy. When the bok choy was done, I added the chicken broth mixture to the pan and simmered until the sauce thickened.

Here's a shot of the dish again. This recipe made two heaping servings, which we enjoyed immensely!
We sat in the dinning room and watched the Christmas lights turn different colors on the mantel across the way...YES...I still have the Christmas decorations on the mantle too! I'm taking them down soon. Honest.

I didn't get a chance to join up with any blog mantle parties during the season, so let me point out some reasons why the decorations are still up. Little Mary is still peaking out of the greenery and pine cones. She would be close to 100 years old today, but sadly passed away before her first birthday.

No matter how I try, I cannot get a good picture of these lights! They are so pretty. I bought them for $10 at Target. They look like the old fashion ones, but are L.E.D.s and each bulb changes colors from blue to green to red to purple to yellow and back. I'm not the only one in the family who sat for hours just watching them change colors. It was mesmerizing!
So, one good Chinese meal and a last look at these lovely lights. After all...it's almost Valentine's Day, so I guess I'll take them down soon. Hope you try my Chinese dish and please let me know how you liked it.

I'm joining up with the Newbie Party at Debbiedoo's Blogging and Blabbing . It's a linky party for people with less than 100 followers or less than one year blogging. Just click below and come see what everyone's talking about, after all, everyone loves a good party!