Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Homemade Instant Oatmeal Packets

Cat update:  Before I begin today's blog, I just want to say that we have not seen or heard anything from the cat the last four nights.  We can only hope he has found his way safely back outside.

Today is a rainy dreary day.  After the weekend's sunshine it seems exceptionally dreary.  It's the kind of day that makes one want to curl up and read a book. Sure doesn't make me feel like doing much of anything, but in spite of the day I did manage to get some things done today.  I had a haircut this morning and on the way home stopped at our local Discount grocers to get some chicken.  Periodically they get a surplus of Perdue chicken.  I especially like the boneless thigh filets and at $1.29 a pound that's a good deal.  And they are vacuum packed in smaller packages - in this case there were 3 filets to a pouch and 4 pouches to a package. I got two packages for less than $10.00. One pouch is enough for the two of us so that is 8 meals!

After I got home and got them into the freezer, I decided it was time to prepare some healthy oatmeal packages.  We like them because it is so much easier than getting out the oatmeal, getting out the dried fruit and other add ins each time we want to do oatmeal.  And they are filled with other heart healthy ingredients like chia seeds and cinnamon.  My hubby likes them because they are much more filling than the packets you buy.

I start by labeling snack size Ziploc bags with the flavor combos I will be making and line them up on the counter.  Into each bag goes:  

  • 1/3 c. oatmeal (I use quick oats) 
  • 1 t. of chia seeds or ground flax
  • 2 t. wheat germ or bran
  • 1-3 t. brown sugar
  • 1/8 t. cinnamon.  
Now I am ready to individualize them and I use about 2 T. dried fruit and 1 T. nuts in each one.  Today I made pineapple coconut (1 t. coconut instead of nuts), cherry almond, mango cashew and  craisin-orange pecan (I add 1 t. dried orange peel to this one.)  I usually make apple walnut and blueberry as well but I was out of dried apples and dried blueberries today.

And here they are.  All finished.  When we are ready to eat them we will dump the contents in a bowl, add 1/2 c. water and cook in the microwave for 1 to 1 1/2 minutes.  They taste so good on a cold morning and are quick and easy to prepare.  It's well worth the hour I spend once a month or every six weeks to have them ready.

Friday, February 19, 2016

The Cat Saga Continues

It's been several days now since we were awakened in the middle of the night with the sound of a cat meowing in our bedroom.  Now i repeat - WE DO NOT HAVE A CAT!  So to be awakened at 3 a.m. to the sound of a cat meowing in our room was disconcerting to say the least. Monday night we didn't hear anything at all, but Tuesday night he was back.  Again it sounded like it was in our bedroom, but this time the meowing was soft and plaintive. I was having trouble falling asleep Tuesday night and so this certainly didn't help. However, when we awoke there was again no sign of him and no presents left on the floor!

We decided on Wednesday that perhaps we should try to capture the cat so we borrowed a live animal trap from a friend.  We set it up in our laundry room with some food and went to bed.  In the middle of the night we were again awakened to hear the cat meowing and moving around the house. Again it appeared to come into our bedroom and we could hear it quite clearly.  Hubby and I were both awake and lay still just listening.  It sounded like it was moving off to the laundry room, but it did not go into the trap.  Another night of being awakened, hearing a cat, and finding nothing. First thing in the morning my dear hubby was crawling around with a flashlight looking in every nook and cranny, under and behind every piece of furniture, and in every closet but could find no cat.  There was not even any evidence of anything being disturbed by a cat's movement or presence.

Yesterday was Thursday and we are getting desperate to find the cat.  Since Wednesday's trap yielded nothing, we can began to look for other options. We had lots of suggestions from Facebook friends who responded to my posts about our dilemma. My son suggested that maybe it wasn't in the house (although that doesn't explain the pile on the floor) but under the house or even in the duct work.  Now for those that don't know me, we live in a double wide mobile home so it is possible for animals to get under the house, but unless there is a hole somewhere I am not sure how they could get into the ducts. That would make sense in that we are hearing the cat as if it is in the room but not able to find any trace of him. Last night was the first that we heard him earlier in the evening. I was sitting in my recliner in our living room, watching TV when the sound of meowing began.  It sounded like it was coming from under the sofa, but there was no movement or appearance.  What began as low plaintive mews became louder meows - at one point there was a really loud "outburst" of a meow, all seemed to be coming from the same area. This went on for about 15 minutes and then all was quiet.  I suppose the duct is a possible theory because there is one right under the sofa where the sound was coming from.  I thought perhaps that was it for the night, but alas in the middle of the night we heard him again as though he was in the room with us. We had moved the trap to the dining room, but again we were unsuccessful in trapping him.  

So here it is Friday.  This has been going on all week.  5 nights of interrupted sleep is beginning to take its toll on me.  I am exhausted and I must admit somewhat "freaked out" by all that has been going on. I think tonight we will put a litter box and water as well as the trap with the food next to one of the vents.  We'll take the cover off the vent and see if he will come out.  I surely hope so.  It that doesn't work, I don't know what we'll try next. 

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Weather Extremes and a Mystery

Snow, freezing temperatures, more snow, ice, and rain.  The last 48 hours have seen all of these.  Over the weekend temperatures plummeted to zero and below.  Add high winds to that and it has been extremely cold.  This was followed  with some light snow on Saturday which meant lots of blowing drifting snow as well. Monday was Presidents' Day and in the afternoon we had some more snow.  But the temperatures were rising as well so we had snow, which changed to sleet and finally to rain.  This morning when we woke up everything was icy.  However, the temperatures continued to rise and so by 9 it was warm enough that it was raining and the snow and ice was melting.  Most of the schools had a two hour delay today, but School District of Lancaster was closed so hubby was home until mid afternoon when he went to see his afternoon client.  By about 3 the sun was shining brightly.  At least a lot of snow melted in the last 12 hours, but that also led to flooding in some areas.

We had stayed home all day Sunday which was also Valentine's Day because of the extreme cold.  But the strangest thing happened in the middle of the night. We were both sleeping soundly when suddenly we awoke to hear a cat meowing.  We do not have a cat!  It sounded like the cat was right in our bedroom with us.  Hubby got up to check it out.  He looked around the room and the house, but there was no cat.  He did, however, find that our visitor had left a present for us in the middle of the living room floor.  Hubby is always an early riser and is often awake anywhere from three to four in the morning, so he decided to just get up.  Even though he looked some more he couldn't find the cat.  When I got up we looked some more - under furniture, in closets, anywhere we thought a cat might hide.  But no cat!  All day Monday, I kept my eyes open for a cat or even evidence of a cat.  Nor did we see or hear anything overnight or today.

So the mystery is where did that cat come from?  The doors and windows were all locked.  We had not been out during the day.  Did he somehow slip in when the door was opened to let our son-in-law in that morning? Or did he come in when we took something out to the sunroom?  Or did he somehow find a hold large enough to crawl through from under the house? And where did he go? We just don't know. That still remains a mystery!

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Valentine's Day

February 2014
This photo showed up on my Facebook page as a memory from 2014. Lots of snow that year on Valentine's Day. In fact it was a snowy couple of days.  Today we woke up to some of the coldest temperatures of the winter.  This weekend has been cold and windy with snow squalls; however, the sun is shining brightly now. Because of the issues I have with asthma, I don't do well with being outside when it is extremely cold so we decided to take a Sabbath Day at home today. We spent the morning relaxing and watching old Hallmark movies on TV. Hubby made me red velvet heart shaped pancakes for breakfast (I forgot to take a picture) and is cooking a special Valentine's dinner later today.  He loves cooking for me and I enjoy what he cooks.  We both win!

Several weeks ago I found this set of stamps at Michaels.  I thought they were just perfect for making valentines for my grandkids.  Aren't they just adorable? In fact they are also the ones my daughter-in-law used to make the valentines for my grandson's class that I showed in my last post.  

A friend had given me  a piece of fabric with cute little owls on it.  I love to create cards using images cut from fabric, so when I wanted to make a Valentine's card for my hubby the fabric and the stamp "OWL always love you" just seemed to naturally go together.  What fun!

Here is the card I created:

I used an Cuttlebug embossing folder to emboss a piece of 4 x 5 1/4" white cardstock for my card base.  The red hearts were cut with two heart dies that I have. I then embossed the sentiment with white embossing powder on the heart from the center of the larger heart.  After attaching the hearts to the base, I used dimensionals under the owl so she would pop up. The base was then adhered to a piece of 8 1/2 x 5 1/2" red cardstock.  On the inside I put two white hearts so I would have room for my Happy Valentine's Day message and note. I was really pleased with the final outcome and I think hubby was too!

Enjoy your Valentine's Day celebrating love and friendship with those you love!

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Snowy Day

The snow has been gently falling all day.  Fortunately it is not accumulating as much as it did two weeks ago.  But outside my window looks like a winter wonderland and it is still snowing.  We have about 7 inches so far.

It was a perfect day to spend in my craft room creating a few cards.  This past weeks I have been creating cards for some of our male friends.  The first one was a get well card for a friend who recently had surgery.

This card is a box card.  The instruments were cut from a piece of fabric which I adhered to sticky paper and then cut out before attaching to the card.  The neat thing about box cards is that they lay flat to fit into an envelope so they can be mailed.

I also made a couple birthday cards for some upcoming birthdays.

The cars on this one are also cut from fabric. I love working with fabric.  

This one  is a step card that I created today. I have a cute set of tool stamps that I used to stamp and cut out the pieces for the card.  I had to do some cutting and pasting to get different colored handles for the larger tools!  I don't always make cards with a specific person in mind but each of these three were. When I am making a card with a specific person in mind, I love being able to pray for them as I am creating the card.

Just for fun, here are some valentine cards I helped my daughter-in-law make Sunday evening during the Super Bowl.  They are for grandson's Xayden's preschool class. Many schools no longer allow the children to bring candy to school, so I think the little plastic animals are a nice addition to a simple card.   I think she did a super job.  The finished cards were adorable.  I wish I had remembered to take a picture of the back as well.  Each of them had a stamped animal (fox, owl, and squirrel) and "Happy Valentine's Day."

Enjoy your day!

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Eagles' Wings

"But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." Isaiah 40:21 (NIV)

This verse has been my life verse for all of my adult life.  I love the hope, encouragement, and strength that I glean from it.  As a result I love eagles and the power and strength that they represent.  I have some beautiful stamps with both the verse and the eagle that I have used many times to make cards to encourage others as well.

Today I decided I wanted to use those stamps in creating a new card and when I saw the monthly sketch challenge from Our Daily Bread Designs, I decided to use that sketch and my eagle theme to create a card.  Here is the card I created:

The base of my card was a 4 1/4" x 11 piece of light blue cardstock folded in half.  For the card front I used a piece of fabric featuring eagles that I mounted to sticky paper and trimmed to 4 x 5 1/4" and then mounted that to a piece of 4 1/8 x 5 4/8" piece of navy blue cardstock.  After stamping the sentiment I cut it in an oval shape using Sizzix framelits and mounted that on a slightly larger navy blue oval.  The smaller piece of light blue was embossed with a cloud embossing folder, cut to 3 1/4 x 2 3/4" and mounted on a piece of light brown cardstock, 3 3/8 x 2 7/8". The center banner was a piece of designed paper 1 1/4" wide.  I then assembled the card as shown and added the navy blue bow and 3 burnished gold stars before attaching the front to the card base.

I will be entering my card in the Our Daily Bread Design Sketch Challenge ODBDSLC270.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Lemon Meringue Pie

Soon after my husband and I were married some 45 years ago, we decided to have some friends over for dinner one Saturday evening.  As a new bride and considering that it was our first chance to entertain in our own home, I carefully planned the menu. As part of that menu I decided to make a lemon meringue pie for dessert.  After all, how difficult could it be?

Now my mother was the pie baker at my childhood home.  I don't ever remember actually baking a pie, but I had certainly watched her often enough. Of course she made pie crusts without a recipe and by just knowing when it "felt" right.  So I dutifully pulled out my cookbooks, found a recipe for lemon meringue pie and for the pie crust that would be needed and set to work.  I carefully measured the flour and Crisco, added the water a little at a time - all the things the recipe said I needed to do.  But alas, that's when things failed.  I couldn't get that pie crust to hold together, couldn't roll it out, couldn't get anything to look right.  I was in literal tears over that pie.  My poor newly married husband didn't know how to respond and though he cooks quite well, he didn't have much experience with baking.  He was not about to give advice on pie-baking to his crying wife! Pretty wise, don't you think?  Instead he tried to console me and tell me it didn't matter.  I don't remember what we ended up having for dessert at that first dinner party, but I am pretty sure it wasn't lemon meringue pie.

Over the years I have tried every "no fail" pie crust that friends and family suggested, but still to no avail.  Finally I got smart.  If I wanted to make a pie, I discovered that Mrs. Smith had good ready to fill and bake crusts in the freezer section of the grocery store or Pillsbury roll out and bake in the refrigerator section (and the store brand equivalents are just as good), so I have quit trying to make my own crusts and use theirs instead.  

I don't make many pies and often the ones I do make are fresh fruit pies with a graham cracker or shortbread crust.  But last week when hubby brought home a nice bagful of beautiful lemons from our local Costco, I said, "I think I will make a lemon meringue pie with some of these lemons."  My husband and I had fun reminiscing about that first failed attempt and I have made a few over the years but it was fun remembering that first pie as well.

So this morning I looked through Pinterest and the internet and found a recipe by Alton Brown that I thought I would try.  A recipe by Alton Brown - he should know what he is doing.  And so I baked a lemon meringue pie.

Looks pretty good, doesn't it.  I guess the proof will be in the tasting at dinner tonight!

Update:  I still have not conquered the  lemon meringue pie. Apparently I did not cook the lemon pudding long enough as it did not set up. Even though it is "soupy" it does have a delicious flavor!

Monday, February 1, 2016

Being Retired

I am often asked what I do now that I am no longer working.  Believe me, it hasn't been difficult to find things to keep me busy.  While I enjoyed my many years in education, it is wonderful to just be at home and "putter" around the house.  Some days I wonder how I had time to work in addition to taking care of my home.

One of the things I enjoy most about being retired is having the time to spend in my craft room just being creative.  I begin scrapbooking and stamping probably 15 years ago but have discovered in the past couple years that I really enjoy making cards. I can spend hours just relaxing and playing with designs, colors, and ideas.  Here are four pictures of a few favorites from Christmas this past year:

Now that Christmas is over, I am busy making cards for all occasions for family and friends.