photo p1_zpsc8a7232f.png  photo j2_zpsc3f43514.png  photo p2_zpse73671a0.png  photo j2_zpsc3f43514.png  photo p3_zps456abd62.png  photo j2_zpsc3f43514.png  photo p5_zps95486d0f.png  photo j2_zpsc3f43514.png  photo p4_zps481d5f13.png

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

A lovely weekend.

We had a very lovely weekend.  On Friday evening we cooked out and then went to Sonic for dessert.  We wanted to watch a movie and after much discussion to find a movie we could all agree on, we landed on Smokey and the Bandit. I know, odd choice, but we enjoyed it even though a lot of the dialogue would be considered politically incorrect today.  

On Saturday, I finished my uncle's birthday cake and Dan and Peter mowed the grass and Dan's sister Cathy arrived.  She wanted to come for a visit to see Sarah for her birthday but on Sarah's actual birthday no one will be home (Dan will be in Ireland and Peter will be in Raleigh and Sarah will be working).  Luckily, it all worked out that she could visit on Saturday and join us for our annual end of school year celebration at Tokyo!

After she arrived, she and Sarah went to one of the local strawberry farms and picked up a bunch of strawberries.  Cathy uses them to make jam. Then we had lunch (tomato, bacon, quesadillas which I realized later I accidentally left out the bacon - they were still delicious) then  we headed to the local garden shop to get some tomato plants.  

Dan and I have been going back and forth about the garden this year. Normally by now we have tomatoes, cucumbers, jalapenos and bell peppers planted. But Dan's been traveling and is about to head out again and will be gone essentially the whole summer so he won't be here to tend to the garden.

I can't stand the thought of no homegrown tomatoes so we decided at the last minute to plant a few tomatoes and a couple of jalapenos.  I will be in charge of watering them and hopefully keeping them alive.  There won't be a big crop but hopefully enough that I can get some sandwiches!

After the trip to the garden store, we planted them and then we all showered and got ready for Mass.  After Mass we headed to Tokyo for dinner.

And yes, my brother loves to mess up our photos by making faces!

This is the best one I could get.

And then one of me with Sarah since I wasn't in the group shot.

After dinner, we came home and spent the rest of the evening around the fire pit chatting and listening to music.  It was such a nice evening.

On Sunday morning, we discovered that something had come through the garden and eaten some of the tomato plants!  We planted 7 plants and several of them were completely gone!  This has never happened before in all of our years of gardening.  We had a couple extras that we had left over so we planted those and later discovered that they had been nibbled but were still basically there. If this continues, I may be going to the farmer's market for my tomato sandwich tomatoes this year!

We had Sunday lunch at my mom's and for the first time in a very long time, we had a full table!  It was so nice I had to take an awkward selfie...

And we celebrated my Uncle David's 88th birthday with cake!

It was a great weekend and I am thankful that we all got to be together.  I am currently enjoying one last week of everyone being under the same roof. Savor the little moments, folks!

Friday, May 19, 2023

More bag talk, more bird talk, a science experiment, and a recipe!

Happy Friday!  

I have been up to my eyeballs in laundry (Dan brought home a ton of it with him and most of it required ironing.  Plus with both kids home there is more laundry in general!), vacuuming (Peter is allergic to our cats and when he lived here became sensitized ((or is it desensitized?)) to them. But when he comes to visit I have to  vacuum a lot to keep him from sneezing for hours on end because he's no longer used to them), and cooking (Kids are home so meals must be planned and cooked!).  

Please note - I am not complaining about being up to my eyeballs in laundry, cleaning, and cooking.  I AM THRILLED TO BE DOING ALL OF THIS!!!  I am sure there are many blog posts in my archives where I was complaining about doing all of these things.  Now I am thankful that I get to do them. 💜

In my last post, I mentioned the beloved blue bags.  Suz wanted a picture of them.  Here they are in action when we moved Peter into his dorm freshman year. 


That was all we needed to move Peter.  All his clothes were on hangers in those bags and all of his desk stuff, personal items, shoes, everything else. were crammed in there as well.  So handy! So convenient!  

I originally ordered two Ikea Frakta bags from Amazon to see if I thought they would work for moving.  The Frakta bag is the one you can see with the yellow zipper. After I got those two, I decided I definitely needed more for the move and when I went back on Amazon I found some non-Ikea bags that were cheaper and I like those equally as well.  The Ikea Frakta bags do have shoulder straps on the bottom if you wanted to put the bag on your back and carry it like a giant backpack.  I guess that might make it easier but I never used that function as I am not a pack mule and found that carrying them by the top handles worked just fine.

Peter opened the garage fridge yesterday and called for me to come out and look.  "What's this weird brown icy looking stuff?"

I had put a pack (still in the cardboard box) of mini Diet Pepsi's on the top shelf of the fridge.  Things have been known to freeze on that shelf but I assumed since the drinks were in the cardboard box they would be insulated.  I WAS WRONG!

One of the drinks had frozen, the ice expanded in the can so much so, that the top of the can shot off and WENT THROUGH THE CARDBOARD BOX!!!!!!

Y'ALL!!!!! Look at this...

The box was INTACT when I put it in the fridge.  Do you see the giant hole??  And do you see how the entire top of the Pepsi can looks like it was literally sliced off??  

I had been in the kitchen the day before and heard a loud noise/knock/pop sound.  I thought someone was at the door but no one was there so I just brushed it off as a random household noise.  I am now thinking that what I heard was the physics experiment happening in the fridge in the garage!

The kids have been keeping busy.  Peter went to the driving range to hit balls with one of his friends from high school yesterday. Sarah has spent a lot of time with Joe the last few days.  He got home from Ireland and heads out of town again this weekend for a graduation.  So they hung out a lot on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.  She also started working at her pool.  She has been cleaning it and getting it ready to open next weekend. She sent this to to family group text...

Look under that bush!!!! EGGS!!!!

She was cleaning the lazy river (it does look filthy!) and noticed this pile of duck eggs underneath the bush.  She also said there was a mom and dad duck swimming in the big pool! 

We googled last night and duck eggs take 28 days before they hatch and she said these eggs definitely weren't there last weekend when they first started working on cleaning the pool.  And the pool opens next Friday so these won't be hatched by then.  She's working again this afternoon and her supervisor will be there so she's going to ask her what to do.  

I just googled it and found this on the US Department of Fish and Wildlife Service's website:

Mallards are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918. It is illegal for any person to take, possess, transport, sell, or purchase them or their parts, such as feathers, nests, or eggs, without a permit. Active nests with eggs or chicks may not be touched or destroyed without a permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Inactive (empty) nests do not require a permit to destroy. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service does not issue permits to remove Mallards, eggs, nor nests that are occupying a pool or an enclosed yard.

Who knew???

It's been a minute since I've shared a recipe.  Peter loves Chipotle and when he's home, I always make homemade Chipotle bowls.  I make fresh guacamole, rice, seasoned black beans, lettuce, seasoned chicken, pico de gallo , and serve it all with sour cream and taco sauce.  

But this time I wanted to spiff it up even more and I made a homemade version of Chipotle's Honey Vinaigrette.  I didn't even know Chipotle had a dressing but I saw people talking about it online.  And I saw people mixing it with sour cream and adding that to their bowls.  I've done that and it is delicious.  I found a recipe online and IT WAS SO GOOD!  So, if you make homemade Chipotle bowls, you need to make this vinaigrette.  Heck - this stuff is so good that you should make it even if you don't make burrito bowls at home. It's great on salads and is good as a dip when mixed with sour cream. The chipotle peppers add such a nice smokey flavor and the honey keeps it from being too spicy!  DELICIOUS!!!

The recipe I used comes from Once Upon a Chef and can be found here.

All right.  I must get to work! Dan's sister is coming for a visit this weekend and the guest room needs some attention and it's my Uncle's birthday and he will be joining us for Sunday lunch and a cake must be made! It's not a birthday without a cake. :)

Have a great weekend!


Tuesday, May 16, 2023

Full nest, full heart! heart is happy!  My nest is full - for the moment and I am enjoying every minute of it!

On Thursday, Brad and Peter and I headed to Charlotte to move Sarah home for the summer.  Thanks to the big blue bags, we made quick work of it!  If you aren't using the big blue Ikea (or similar brands from Amazon) bags to move then you are doing it wrong.  These bags are life savers.  I purchased 8 of them before we moved Peter his freshman year and am not looking back.  You can pile/shove/cram so much stuff in these bags and they zip up and stack so well when they are full.  We don't even take clothes off of hangers.  We just fold them in half on the hanger and put into the miracle bag.  It makes moving a dream.  (Well, moving is never a dream but it definitely makes things run go much smoother.)

The obligatory empty dorm room photo.

On Friday, I helped Sarah sort out clothes from her closet and got rid of things she didn't wear any longer and helped her sort through the pile of stuff in the bonus room.  The pile of stuff being everything previously contained in said blue bags.

On Saturday, I had lunch with Jennifer at the Village Tavern. It was so nice to catch up with her. We've made a date to do it again in June!  

On Saturday evening, I put Peter in charge of the grill and as he cooked burgers, Sarah and I hung out with him and we listened to music.  It was such a beautiful evening, we ate outside.  It was so nice and the burgers were delicious.  And then around 8:00 PM, Dan got home from Ireland!!!!!  Finally, everyone was home.

I woke up to a nice little treat on Mother's Day...

Cards, flowers, and earrings! My first stop in the morning is always at the Keurig so they  put my cards and gifts there.  :)  

We went to Mass and then headed to my Mom's to celebrate Mother's Day with her. 

Me with my babies.

My mom with her babies.

Later that afternoon, Dan and I headed to Goose and the Monkey to enjoy an adult beverage and to catch up on all the things he had missed while being in Ireland.  

Yesterday was another busy day.  After I got groceries, I ran errands with Sarah.  We took a big bag of her castoffs to Plato's Closet to see if they would consign any of them.  They kept some of the items and we left with an extra $21.50 in our pockets and came back home with a bunch of the stuff they didn't want. I will try to list some of it on Poshmark and the rest will go to Goodwill. She also needed a few things - shoes to wear at the pool, sunscreen, socks, etc.. so we headed to Starbucks and Target.  Then we came home and finished sorting through all of her stuff and organizing it so that we don't have to do that in August when it's time to move her back.

And now it's a cloudy Tuesday.  I will hopefully getting in my 3 mile walk and catch up on laundry. It's funny how you don't mind laundry, errands, grocery shopping, and cooking when all your people are at home.   Peter heads back to Raleigh in two weeks and Dan heads to Ireland again soon so I am going to enjoy every last little chore and every moment spent together while everyone is home.💗 

Tuesday, May 9, 2023

My house has a revolving door, the birds are all grown up, a good book, and my new favorite spice!

Dan left for Ireland again on Saturday.  He will be back this Saturday and home for two weeks, then will be gone for a month.  Then home for a week and gone for two.  Then home to go on vacation then back to Ireland.  In other words, he will be gone for most of the summer.  :(

But in good news, Sarah came home on Friday afternoon as she had training/orientation at the new pool she will be working at this summer.  She headed back to Charlotte on Sunday afternoon to finish up her exams.  Peter, who is done with finals, came home Sunday night and will be here for a little bit before he heads back to Raleigh to look for a summer job. It's starting to feel like the front door is revolving...

My brother and I along with Peter will be heading to Charlotte on Thursday to pack up Sarah and bring her home for the summer.  I know she will be busy with work and friends most of the summer but it will be nice to have someone home(ish) with me while Dan is gone.

Sarah got home on Friday before I did. I was out running errands with my mom and as soon as I walked in the door, Sarah  said, "Are those new glasses?!"  I knew she would notice my new (and totally different looking!) glasses!  :)

Peter sent me this photo on Saturday...

He was telling me that the parents are spending less and less time with the babies.  And then on Sunday, he sent me this one with the caption of "My babies are all grown up."

And let me tell you, I felt that caption. I responded with some crying face emojis and saved him from a discourse on how hard it is to watch your babies leave but that they have to because it's how life works - it means the parents have successfully done their job. I also failed to mention that Empty Nest Syndrome is real and will leave you feeling a little sad even though you've done your job well. 

We are both wondering if the birds will come back to the same spot nest time they have a brood.  I was googling and doves attempt 2-5 nestings a year up until September. He may get to see another set of babies as doves typically use the same nesting spot if they had a successful brood there.

I just finished Defending Jacob, a book that was recommended to me by Gigi. I thoroughly enjoyed it! It was well written and there were a couple of twists and turns at the end that I did not see coming.  My only issue with it (and I have this issue with a lot of books) is that 90% of the book is the basis of the story and then the last 10% is twists, turns, wrapping things up, etc and you are left reeling a bit.  So I needed some time to process the last couple of chapters but it was a great book and even though it was long, I read it in a week. Thanks, Gigi!  

Before I go (I need to get my walk in before it gets too hot - it's supposed to be 84 today), I wanted to share this spice with you...(Sorry for the screenshot.  I'm too lazy to get up, go to the kitchen, take a picture, upload it to the computer etc....)

This stuff is so good!  I enjoy salads but have trouble eating them without a ton of dressing so I've started putting this on my lettuce and it adds so much flavor that I hardly need dressing.  

The ingredient list is as follows: Salt Crystals (Earth and Sea), Hydrolyzed Soy Protein (No Added MSG), Soy Granules, Mellow Toasted Onion, Nutritional Yeast, Garlic, Orange Powder, Dill, Kelp, Horseradish, Mustard Flour, Orange and Lemon Peel, Celery Granules and Powder, Sweet Green and Red Bell Peppers, Parsley Flakes, Celery Root Powder, White Pepper, Turmeric, Rosehips, Summer Savory, Onion Powder, Parsley Powder, Mushroom Powder, Coriander, Fenugreek, Basil, Cayenne Pepper, Spinach Powder, Cloves, Cumin, Ginger, Marjoram, Oregano, Thyme, Tarragon, Cinnamon, Safflower, Paprika, Tomato, Rosemary, Celery Seed Ground. 

Have you guys ever used it?  Does anyone have any other tips on how to eat less dressing on a salad - because to me that's the best part!

Wednesday, May 3, 2023

Bird babies (plural!), new glasses, new salad, new word games.

On Sunday, Peter sent this picture to the family group chat and said, "Proof that it's a couple!  I just watched them switch shifts." 

  And then minutes later he sent this picture with the caption "The babies grow fast!"

To which I screamed, "BABIES??? PLURAL???" And then calmly texted back, "I thought there was only one!"

How dare he not mention that there were two?  When I was googling researching doves it mentioned that they typically laid two eggs so I thought perhaps this bird had a bit of a malfunction.  It also mentioned that the mother and father take shifts sitting on the eggs and tending to the babies.  It's good to know that this little family is doing things by the books. But I was a little perturbed that my onsite ornithologist in Raleigh son failed to properly document the nest to his bird-loving mother. Although the fact that he continues to watch them and send me pictures makes me happy.

I would also like to add here that my brother is now feeding birds as well and we are both happily enjoying our daily visitors.  I also feel the need to add here that I have a hummingbird visitor but I rarely see him/her.  I'm wondering if perhaps the hummingbird feeders are too close to the other feeders and the bigger birds are scaring them away.  I am considering moving/adjusting my feeders.  I am also considering therapy for my obsession....  I will keep you all posted.

In non-bird related news, I got new glasses:


Dan failed to notice them upon his return from Ireland.  As I was giving him a hard time he tried to defend himself by stating that his not noticing them meant they looked great.  He also said they look exactly the same as my previous pair, another weak defense if you ask me.

For proof, here's a weird and random selfie I found on my phone from a month ago:

I think they look totally different. The color is definitely different, the shape is different, and the size is different.  The true test will be when Sarah comes home to see if she notices them.  If I were a betting woman, I'm going to say that she will notice them immediately. I will also keep you posted on this riveting information as well.

I am impatiently waiting for my avocados to ripen so I can have my chickpea salad for lunch again (now that I've purchased more feta) so I had to have  a different salad for lunch yesterday.  This was pretty good:

I made a creamy balsamic dressing for the spring mix. (The dressing was fine, nothing to write home about so I will not be making it again.)  I topped it with salmon (that I cooked in the air fryer), black berries, goat cheese, candied pecans (I put these in a frying pan with butter and tossed them with Splenda instead of brown sugar in an attempt to keep the sugar down in this salad as balsamic is pretty sugary), feta, and a little balsamic glaze to finish.  This was excellent!  The only thing I would do differently is to use a different dressing next time. 

And finally, before I go - do you guys play Wordle?  I have been playing for well over a year now and enjoy it thoroughly.  However, recently I have added Dordle, Quordle, and Octordle to the mix as well because I typically get the Wordle in under a minute. Some days it's longer but usually I'm pretty quick with it. If you are not aware, these games are like Wordle except in Dordle you are figuring out 2 words, Quordle 4, and Octordle 8.  I usually get the daily Dordle and Quordle and recently have been getting the Octordle although it's pretty hard to get all 8 words in 13 tries (and that's 13 tries total for all 8 words). 

I am justifying playing these games as brain exercises - hopefully they are keeping my brain firing on all cylinders.  In the meantime, it's time for me to go to the park and get my 3 miles in so my body also continues to fire on all cylinders!