Best Laid Plans…

Good whatever-time-of-day-you-are-reading-this! It is morning for me as I write this, and my day is turning into yet another day of boring unpredictability. As in, my physical health is yo-yo-ing up and down since last night, so my plans of going to Trader Joe’s and then somewhere to pick up some more pots and potting soil is thwarted for now. We have painters coming again today so my window to go out is small, and my decision to actually drink coffee again today tipped the scale toward “bad” more than “good” it seems.

Coffee is a hard one for me. If I don’t have it, I will get migraines and sometimes even my stomach feels like it gets clogged up. Then other times, when I do have it, I’ll get super jittery (even when I make it weak), my nerves start firing off, and the muscles and such in my digestive system go a little wonky. I asked one of my doctors a few years back about whether or not to stay away from it completely, and after he had me stop cold turkey for a few weeks he realized I was actually worse off without it than with it. However, some days it just goes BANG and makes it feel like my insides want to explode out of my body. (I hope you aren’t reading this while eating or drinking your own coffee.)

I have enough grub to get us by (just won’t be able to make eggs for Alan tomorrow), but the planting is a whole different beast. I NEED to get planters and soil. I have some soil but nowhere near enough, and I have a bag of plants the painters trampled and pulled up from our front garden to contend to before they die completely. I know I can save them but it is imperative I get them in a safe environment right quick. I also have an avocado seed, some orange seeds, and some sapote seeds I need to get taken care of – especially in the case of the avocado which is already rooting in the little dish of water I have it suspended above. So what to do?

Epiphany! I also have a ton of recycling (okay, just two TJ’s paper bags full) to bring out to the bin but I can reduce it in half AND solve my problem by taking out the various plastic soda and water bottles, cutting them in twain, and turning them into cool little planters that also make it easier for said plants to drain. There’s also a Keurig at the condo which produces much plastic waste, but the K-Cups are the perfect size for sprouting seedlings! (We generally use re-usable baskets but the Sam’s Club faerie showed up with an 80 K-Cup pack of Newman’s Own.) Plus, coffee grounds are great to mix into soil so win-win!

Maybe my plans don’t have to be entirely changed after all… though Florida isn’t so much like the woods we had behind our place in Connecticut in that I could go out there under trees and my compost piles to find gorgeous soil to dig up and use. I mean, I suppose I could strap on some waders and travel into the swamp for some of that beautiful everglades soil but aside from environmental (and python) concerns I think if I could actually muster up the energy/strength/health to do that I could definitely make it to the garden supply store.

I’ll post pictures later, but not sure if I’ll do a how-to since I saw this years ago online somewhere so I don’t know if the internet needs another one. Plus, the bottle trick I think I also learned in Elementary School (way back in the 1980s, before THE INTERNET AS WE KNOW IT could tell us how to do such things) but it was more for making bird feeders than planters.

Etsy Wetsy

My closet is filled with bottles, but those bottles aren’t filled with anything. What are they for?

Weeeeelll…

I have three boxes full of bomber and wine bottles which my fiance and I have enjoyed since getting engaged back in 2012. Each was from a special occasion (some from the engagement day itself!) and we intended on using them as part of centerpieces at our wedding reception.

I also have another set of boxes full of randomly shaped and sized bottles I’ve collected over the years to turn into various art projects. Seeing as how it has been almost two years now since I’ve had my own dedicated craftroom, and our plans to get a house have been put on hold as we are just now getting into the time when I can actually afford to go back to the multitude of doctors I need to visit, I am now stuck with tons of these really cool items that I have no space for anymore.

We’ve been storing Jean-Claude away and hoped to use his space to store said items in as well, but I feel like it is just too sad to keep all these supplies in the dark when someone else out there can use them.

Starting this week, I’ll be slowly reopening my Etsy shop (which has been closed since I lost said craftroom after my health went into the crapper again) and selling some of these supplies to those who could use them for their own crafting purposes.

Don’t know if I’ll get rid of all our bombers (the ones from the most special of nights will probably be saved for candles and vases), but I do have some other cool things to share.

I’ll post the link once the site is live again, but I’m hoping they can bring someone out there the joy they can’t bring me now. I do love painting bottles and finding cool uses for them. :-/ Maybe ya’ll can send me pictures of your awesome crafts when your done?

On a sidenote, today would have been my grandparents’ anniversary. April Love…Rest in Peace, Nani and Grandpa. You’re constantly my inspiration. <3

Finished!

Cooking With MacGyver: Lasagna Pt. 2

If you are just tuning in, this is the second part to my first “Cooking with MacGyver” post on Lasagna. To quickly recap, I am too injured to go out to get more food and had to work with what I had and needed to use in the fridge and pantry.  I decided to make Lasagna since it is reasonably passive so I set to work at assessing the assembled ingredients.  To see the original post, click here.

Woven LasagnaWhile I contemplated what to do with everything I got the water boiling for the noodles (with salt and herb-infused olive oil added to the water) and cooked those up in about 10 minutes. When I was done, I kept the pot on the stove for the meat and laid out the noodles on a baking sheet. I then made a lattice pattern with some of the noodles in the lasagna pan (using a glass dish with handles), woven in and out into a cute little pattern.

Now I realized that one of the bags I was defrosting was not, in fact, the chili I made a few months ago but rather one of the random side dishes that was shipped down with our Turducken on Thanksgivukkah 2013.  The other was most certainly my bag of chili (leading me to wonder where the other two bags of chili went?) and I was worried it might not be enough meat. 

To start, I placed the defrosted chili into the still-hot pot I used from the lasagna.  I let it start to warm up before I turned the burner back on and poured a bit of the Maduro in.  (I drank the rest over the course of two hours going back and forth cooking. Told you – it is 5 o’clock somewhere and I live where you vacation, plus FRIDAY, so neener.)  As I let that simmer on medium-low heat, I began to check out the queso blanco and saw a pink hue on it.  Now, this had been frozen, so I wasn’t too sure where this was from… and a quick Google search said to never chance cheese that has pink on it, so off into the garbage disposal it went. Looks like it will be just cottage cheese and cheddar for me!

Meat!

Since I had left over eggplant and zucchini, I added that in to the chili in order to bulk it up along with a fresh green bell pepper, some sliced red onion, and a diced tomato.  I also threw in a jar of Newman’s Own Sausage and Pepper sauce, and when I realized I needed even more I added a can of tomato paste.  I let this all simmer together on the stove for about an hour at medium-low heat as I let the noodles cool into shape inside the pan.

In the meantime, I decided against using the bacon cheddar since we have only half of it left and have more than enough cottage cheese.  This will make it healthy, but to add a little more zing I added a bunch of (Gene) Parmesan. (Sorry, had to.) Also, when putting the feta back I realized we also had an opened container of cream cheese which is always a great addition when making a cheese mixture!

CheeseAs the oven heated up to 375 degrees F, I mixed up the cheese and added some thyme and garlic powder (since the garlic I thought I had was apparently nonexistent).  As that all melted together, I poured the meat into the noodle pan and topped it with three lasagna noodles in preparation for the cheese. Which, once it was sufficiently melted together, I poured on top of these very same noodles – saving about 1/2 cup for the top.

Bacon WeaveOff to the side, I had already woven the top layer of noodles together but it was missing something – the turkey bacon!  Not one to leave bacon behind, I carefully wove the pieces into the noodles.  To get it on top of the cheese, I carefully folded each side toward the middle to lift it as a basket then placed it carefully on top.  Some of the noodles and bacon hung off, and instead of cutting it I just tucked it inside the pan. (I really wish I started with a deeper dish! But too late now!)

With CheeseNow at this point I realized I had forgotten to coat the bottom of the pan with sauce, so um… there was that. Oops.  Anyway, I put the remainder of the cheese on top, topped that with some more parmesan, and got it all into the oven along with a handy dandy foil hat. You know, to protect from alien/government brain wave transmissions and cheese/noodle burnage.

Now, let’s watch The Weather Channel while we wait for it to cook, shall we?

…45 minutes later…

Whoa. Glad we didn’t end up moving to the Panhandle. We really love it up in Northern Florida but as much as I wanted to be a tornado chaser growing up I’d rather not be dealing with any threats like that right now! They storms they are a’comin’! Eek.  We seem to really luck out down here… (Let’s see if I still say that this hurricane season…)

Anywho, let’s check on the lasagna!

In ProgressThe bottom is turning a beautiful gold, but – thanks to the tinfoil – the cheese on stop could still use some coloring.  Back in the oven it goes, samp temp but without the hat.  Timer gets reset to 10 minutes.

[A little while later.]

Took a little longer than ten… added another ten on top of that.  Once that was done, I let it sit for another 10 minutes before slicing it up.  Verdict?

Finished!Delicious! Alan, who doesn’t even like cottage cheese, loved the flavor and the only thing it was missing was just a bit of that stringy quality.  I will definitely try making this again with some added mozzerella, but not too much because I did like the lighter flavors!

Now there were some ingredients listed in Pt. 1 which you’ll notice I did not mention here. I didn’t open the can of Cuban Beans because there were some already in the chili (which I had forgotten).  I didn’t end up making the pie with the leftover fruit because we were just too full after dinner for anything else.  We also decided against the Sparkling Blueberry and Alan popped open the Sangria we picked up from World Market months ago and had apparently forgotten about. Also as I had to cook the sauce down longer, I didn’t have a chance to roast the squash like I wanted to so we’re saving that for either ravioli or soup at some point this weekend.

All in all a great success! Now, what to do with all the leftovers… there’s only two of us and even with two pieces each we still have more than enough for ya’ll! :-D

 

Cooking With MacGyver: Lasagna Pt 1.

As part of my Friday dinner dilemma, I could not go out to the store to buy more food even if I wanted to nor cook anything which required running around the kitchen and standing at the stove for hours (injured).  I also did not want to make any of the frozen dinners we had because they were just frozen duplicates of other lunches and dinners we’ve had for the past two weeks (like pizza).  What I could do is play one of my favorite games, something I’ve started to call “Cooking with MacGyver.”

Alan used to do this all the time for us when we lived in Hammond Street, and it is partly why I fell in love with him so hard. The creativity, the culinary skill… to be able to look at seemingly random ingredients and create something delicious was a skill he still excels at to this day all these years later.  He’s working all day so it is my dilemma to solve, and my turn to be MacGyver.

So what are the ingredients at my disposal?:

- Two packages of hopefully-defrosted-by-now homemade chili I made a few months ago and took out last night to thaw.
- A chunk of frozen queso blanco which I often use in place of lasagna
- A half package of turkey bacon
- One stupidly refrigerated tomato
- Two cans of tomato paste
- Bacon Cheddar cheese from Trader Joe’s
- Feta Cheese from Greece via Trader Joe’s
- Red Onions
- A butternut squash we’ve been saving from my aunt’s garden back in CT in October
- A container and a half of cottage cheese that has to be used ASAP
- Leftover eggplant and zucchini from a Trader Joe’s “Made in Italy” side dish I made two nights ago with TJ’s Gnocchi
- A chunk to grate fresh and half pre-packaged grated parmesan (both from TJ’s…)
- What I think are whole wheat lasagna noodles but now that I think about it they may be made of rice
- A can of Kalamata olives
- A bunch of cucumbers
- Some green peppers
- Random assortment of leftover fruits (apples, oranges, black sapote…)
- Lots of craft beer from FL, MA, and CT that we’ve been collecting for a while
- A bottle of Sparkling Blueberry Wine from the Naples Winery at Tin City

Now, I don’t think I will be using all of those in the lasagna… but these are all either in my fridge awaiting quick use and/or taking up space or in my pantry in the same state of being (just less cold).  My quest is to figure out how to make an entire dinner, centering on lasagna, with these items.   Key is it has to taste good and taste like lasagna if I’m going to stick to my goal, so let’s see how this baby turns out, shall we? *stretches fingers* I’ll save the sparkling blueberry for the celebration of Alan not being on call anymore tonight, but I may have to invoke the “Its 5 o’clock somewhere” and “I live where you vacation” rules and open up a Maduro.  At least it’ll make my foot feel better, right? (Oh yeah, and it tastes really good when cooked in with chili. There’s that, too, I guess. :P)

So will this plan work, or will the bomb explode?  Find out in “Cooking with MacGyver: Lasgna Pt. 2″ later this evening/early tomorrow to find out!

Dinner Dilemma

So my foot still looks like it is a member of the-club-you-aren’t-supposed-to-talk-about-in-which-fisticuffs-are-exchanged-with-others and I am wondering how the heck I can put together a dinner for tonight. For the first time in weeks I wasn’t even able to get myself up before my honey did, so he was subjected to making his own coffee and cereal. Which I know he is perfectly capable of doing, and he thinks it is silly I get up before him to get all that ready, but since I’m working from home as a freelancer and he’s driving all over Southwestern Florida trying to get everyone set for “the end of XP” and paying the bulk of our bills… I think he deserves the little things like said freshly made coffee and the bacon-egg sandwiches I’ve taken to creating food art with some mornings.

Granted, he intended on stopping for delicious clover-press coffee at the Gulf Coast Town Center Starbucks in Fort Myers on his way to his first client, but he also had a phone meeting at 7:30 and decided to spend the extra hour he had beforehand with me instead of heading out extra early.

I could barely muster the strength to get myself breakfast, and when he was here my stomach was its usual grumpy self so I didn’t even want to let him grab me yogurt. There is nothing that can be done with my bruised appendage – even if the top is fractured I don’t think they can do anything. When I broke my finger all the doctor did was tape my fingers together on a splint and called it a day… so even with my new fangled insurance I don’t think it is worth going. If my foot swells back up like a balloon how it was yesterday though I might change my tune.

But back to the subject at hand… DINNER! He’s not on call anymore as of 5pm today, and has no projects scheduled for this weekend, so I want to do something nice. He picked up Brooks Burgers for me last night when he found out what happened to my foot, so going out again is really not an option. I mean, it is always an option (and we can always go for seven times for Cuban food in the past two months, new record for us but damn Fernandez the Bull is just that good, son)… But anyway, we try to keep the night outs to once a week as we save up to buy our house and continue to pay off our massive medical bills. Which also means I need to get creative for dinner.

We dropped close to $150 at Trader Joe’s last week, and probably around $100 at Oakes Farm the week before, so I don’t want to run back out (even if I could run right now…) to pick up more grub.  If you’ve seen our Instagram account, you’ve also seen the inside of our freezer so you know I have much to work with in there.  However, what you can’t see is that somehow 1/3 of it is filled with frozen sweet potato fries and another 1/3 is filled with bags of frozen broccoli.  I wish I was exaggerating, but I’m not… and I know I could take out that gorgeous Arugula pizza from Trader Joe’s (one of the only things I will decide to suffer in regards to eating leafy greens) but we just had the Truly Organic Pizza deliciousness last weekend.

What I do have available is some of the chili I made a few months ago and frozen, then took out yesterday to defrost.  I also have lasagna noodles and some cheddar.  Oh, and cottage cheese.  Putting these all together into AllRecipes I have found a few recipes for different cheese lasagna (as well as something called “lazy pierogies” and I am a huge fan of pierogies so I might have to give it a go) but unless the mozzarella I accidentally/purposely/absentmindedly threw into the freezer last month is miraculously okay I think it might be weird to have a mozz-less ‘sagna.  Or something. I don’t know.

Hmm.. it is intriguing me now though.  Should I do it? Hmm…

Challenge Accepted! Hopefully it won’t be as big of a disappointment as the finale of that quote’s origin.  (I won’t tag it, you all know what show I’m talking about.)

I’ll let you know how it turns out… hopefully with pictures!

Pay It Forward Friday Freebies

As mentioned a few posts ago, I have way too many ideas in my brain and not enough time nor current capital to do them and want to share them with ya’ll out there!

If you use one of my ideas listed here and make millions off it (or even just hundreds), you don’t owe me anything more than credit for you finding it here.  If you forget, I just hope you aren’t being a huge jerk with the money/attention you get from said idea because as long as they get done it is still pretty cool and I won’t care.

Today’s Freebie: Pet and Farmer Match Website

I have an aunt in Maine who was lucky enough to find a man who will build her numerous houses, barns, and other enclosures so she can rescue cats, goats, and other critters that otherwise would not have a home.  Many years ago now, she rescued a sick dog that was only given a few months to live and he ended up thriving as a farm dog.  Not only was he happy for his final months, those months stretched over a year and he was always smiling with a spring in his step after not even being able to really walk or bark for a while before that.

Seeing these things, and the lengths at which my mom and my other aunts and uncles have gone to give injured or abandoned animals a chance, and knowing how many pets and farm animals are out there on sites like PetFinder and in shelters… I just wish I could scoop them all up and match them with the people who have farms!

Imagine you have a barn overrun with unwanted rodents.  What to do? Go on the site and find yourself the perfect barn cat!

Maybe you have a small farm down south where gators, hogs, and snakes threaten your smaller pets and livestock… match yourself with a farm dog for your herding and protective needs!

Pigeons, sheep, goats, horses, llamas.. you  name it! Add to your menagerie, add to your security detail, get yourself a gecko to roam your walls and eat the bugs! Get matched to a horse or a donkey to move your goods around your remote island where there aren’t really any cars, or across that mountain, or through those woods.

So many connections, so little time.

What about those people who can’t afford to get an animals shipped to them humanely, nor go across country to get said animals? There would be sections for donations from others to sponsor the trips, as well as the chance for others to volunteer (after being vetted for it, of course, since we don’t want anyone running off with your animals or hurting them).  We could get volunteers to actually drive or fly the animals across country or the globe, and even vets and vet techs willing to donate time or supplies to keep you situated.

I really would love to see this happen, and I really wish I could be the one to make it… but if I ever want to finish what I’ve started here, there is no way I can make one more idea come to fruition.

But maybe you can. Maybe your friends can. And maybe we can match up awesome animals to equally awesome people. (For those in fear that Farmer John is going to buy Wilbur and turn him into bacon, there could either be a separate site for that or you could specify in some contract this animal is not to be used for things like that.)

What do you travelers think?  Anyone want to see this happen? Can anyone make it happen? (Aside from a good barn cat, I’ll need some Catahoula leopard dogs for protection from the wild hogs down here in a few years.)

Writer’s Block

I want to start this by saying “I hate it I hate it I hate it” repeatedly (and apparently without any punctuation) but I had already put on music to relax me and it is hard to get into the mood.

I don’t know if I even have it as a whole, but rather on a case-by-case basis. I am always writing, writing ,writing. Blog articles, marketing campaigns, television or movie reviews/commentary, scripts, essays, op ed pieces, research projects, novel pages, game development storyboards, responses to things said by George Takei on Facebook… yet the thing I want to work on the most is always pushed aside by some other item.

I have chapters upon chapters, page upon page, and a mine of character profiles, artwork, and music on which to finish it all with yet everything is changing so much nothing truly ever gets done.

I did a bit of a stupid thing earlier (fan fell on my foot, and I was barefoot, and it was on the leg/foot that I only early this morning got to feel good again after doing lord know’s what to it yesterday morning that laid me up all day), and since I had to stop my spring cleaning I decided to meditate instead. Make me feel better, right?

Wrong. I put on the music and it made me start to dream and think of the worlds I have waiting at my fingertips, itching to finally be published in their entirety for the world to see. Yet instead of going back for the umpteenth time to re-write a crapload of pages or actually sit here and think of sweet nothing, this post came out instead.

Oh well. I can always finish editing [NOT rewriting entirely, bad Beany!] some things next. I do want to get some more chapters released, especially of “Meanwhile…”.

In site news, I’ve got the reopening of the Etsy shop next week to keep me going should I fail, as well as my first job as a travel coordinator in a cross-country move for someone other than myself! I really enjoy doing stuff like this, and now that I have a little more time to myself I can tackle this like a pro. Funky bottles and dusty mountains. Can’t wait!

Let It Go

I’m going to refrain from spouting off into song (besides, I’m more of a “Part of Your World”/”Belle” gal), but I can’t lie that the-song-that-shall-not-be-named didn’t influence the title of this entry.

Although now that the phone rang, and then the phone rang again, and then the painters unexpectedly showed up making my beagle go ‘cray-cray’ at the door after I had just opened up all the windows… I won’t lie by saying the multiple interruptions didn’t make me forget where I was going with this initially.

Crap.

I hate that. >.<

Oh well. I should let it go

(… sorry.)

 

the road to your discovery is the best part of the adventure

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