Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Can we outsmart a cat???

Can we outsmart a cat? Maybe.

Back in 1980 or 1981 my husband bought me a dollhouse kit that I had been wanting for some time. It was the Greenleaf Pierce and it took me 10 or more years before I finally got the entire thing put together and painted. I've never completed the inside, but I love this house and have had it on display in the dining room for many years.

Last week I walked into the dining room and found chewed pieces of wood. At first I couldn't figure out where they came from and then I realized they were pieces of my dollhouse. Ashley is the only cat that enjoys chewing on things, so I knew right away who was guilty. Upon closer inspection I realized he had chewed a porch railing and some of the fancy Victorian trim on the roof.

We talked it over and decided to try covering the house with a heavy piece of plastic. The next morning the plastic had been chewed and more chewed wood was found. This called for drastic measures.

We went to the box store a bought a couple of large boxes.  Reid slit the one box so we could wrap it around the outside of the house.

Ash watched closely from right around the corner.

I'm pretty sure he was trying to figure out how to destroy our box, but Reid kept working and put together the second box so we could slip it over the top.

Of course, Ashley had to check it out.

Isn't this an attractive addition to the dining room???

My hope is that he'll outgrow this chewing thing and this beautiful box fortress will be gone soon.  Meanwhile, I wrote to Greenleaf to see if I can order replacement pieces.

Saturday was Reid's 36th birthday.  Keith surprised us by driving over from Austin for the day.  We all went to the Grand Lux Cafe for lunch.  It's over by the Houston Galleria and is owned by The Cheesecake Factory, so everything was delicious.  Of course, once again I forgot my camera.  When we got home Reid had to lay down for a while and wasn't available for the picture when Keith was leaving.  Once again, I remembered to take a picture at the last second.  This is Jim and Keith by the car.

In the evening Reid went out again with some friends to celebrate.  What a difference a year makes.  Last year he didn't feel much like celebrating.  I'll try and remember to get a picture of him in March on his new birthday.  A lot of people celebrate the anniversary of their stem cell transplant as their new birthday.  I'll be sure and get a picture then!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Alphabe-Thursday..."J" as in I hate Jello!


It's time again for Alphabe-Thursday sponsored by Ms. Jenny over at Jenny Matlock..."off on my tangent." This week we are studying the letter "J" as in I hate JELLO!

I really do. I have no recollection of ever eating JELLO, but perhaps my mother fed me some when I was young and impressionable and didn't know enough to refuse. As long as I can remember I've refused to eat JELLO. Why? I think it might be because I don't like my food to move. You know how JELLO wiggles? Disgusting!

However, there is something I make that has JELLO as one of the ingredients, but it doesn't look like JELLO. It doesn't wiggle as much as plain JELLO. I've posted the recipe once before, but this one is worth repeating. When we were living in Virginia Beach, VA during the 1970's my neighbor and friend, Elaine Monn, gave me this recipe. She called it Congealed Salad, but our family has always called it Pink Stuff.


One small can of crushed pineapple
One 6 oz. package of Jello (I use raspberry)
One 12 oz. Cool Whip
2 cups of buttermilk
½ to one cup nuts (I like chopped pecans)

Combine undrained pineapple and Jello in a smallsaucepan. Heat until Jellodissolves. Mix Cool Whip and buttermilk(I use a whisk); add nuts. Stir in Jellomixture; mix thoroughly. Put in a moldor long rectangular pan (I spray my mold lightly with Pam first). Let set for 4 hours (I leave it in therefrigerator overnight.

Serves: 12

Now head over to Ms. Jenny's blog for a list of this week's Alphabe-Thursday participants.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Things that are going on...

Reid came home from his trip last Sunday morning. He had a great time on the cruise and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. However, he developed a cold during the week and by Sunday evening had a fever.

He E-mailed the Physician's Assistant at MD Anderson on Tuesday since he was scheduled for a CT scan and the clinical trial on Thursday. She told him to come to the Emergency Center to be evaluated. It was determined that he had some pneumonia in his one lung and he was given an antibiotic. They also did a flu test and the following day that came back positive. So, now he's taking Tamiflu too. He did have a flu shot last October, but I guess this is a strain that the shot didn't cover. However, the fever is gone and he doesn't feel all that bad. The CT scan and clinical trial have now been re-scheduled for next week.

Meanwhile, Jim was also down at MD Anderson on Tuesday for his regularly scheduled appointment. His PSA has gone up again, but he was given a new injection and hopefully this will bring it down. He's feeling well and did a bunch of running around today on his day off.  He even went grocery shopping with me this afternoon.  Tomorrow I'm going to make some Chicken Noodle Soup just like a Jewish Grandmother!  If you remember my Secret Santa gave me the Cooking Like A Jewish Grandmother Cookbook in the swap and this family could use a little Jewish Penicillin right now!

Some months back I bought myself Family Tree Maker 2011 and I've been entering all my documented genealogy information into the program. (I did some research back in the late 1980's and early 1990's before we all had personal computers.) With Family Tree Maker I received 6 free months of Ancestry.com but I've been waiting for things to calm down a little around here before I activated it. I'm starting to think that there's no time like the present, so I'll activate the Ancestry.com subscription this weekend. Last night I decided to set up a second blog just for genealogy. (What was I thinking??? I don't even have time to post on one blog very often and now I'll have two!)  All the catchy little names were taken like "In Search Of My Roots" or "Climbing My Tree."  Oh well, I tried.  I settled for "My Trip Back In Time."  It will probably be dormant for a while, but it's there for when I get a little ambitious.

Oh yes, and after this summer's drought our house now needs some more interior piers. That will mean ripping up carpet and my beautiful brick kitchen floor, bringing in jackhammers and drilling through the concrete, digging out the dirt, and putting in the piers. Yes, it will be a big mess. We're thinking about what we're going to do right now, but there really isn't anything to think about. It has to be done at some point. I just dread the whole thing.  We watered around the slab with soaker hoses all summer long, but we do have some nice big trees in our yard and they soak up a lot of water.  Such is life in Texas.

Note: This is not our home.  Our home really doesn't look crooked to the naked eye.  I'm just exaggerating a little here.

 Did I tell you that I'm old and tired? That's my usual punch line these days.

 Tomorrow I'm going to start taking down the Christmas decorations. It's time and I really want it all down before Easter. I brought most of the boxes and containers over from the storage place yesterday. The one cat keeps climbing the tree. You can only tempt them for so long.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Alphabe-Thursday..."I" as in Baked INDIAN Pudding

Once again, it's Alphabe-Thursday time. This week we are studying the letter "I" as in Durgin-Park Baked INDIAN Pudding.

Durgin-Park is a well known restaurant in Boston, MA. I've never been there, but would like to go someday. My maiden name is Durgin and I have an old tape recording of one of my grandfather's sisters claiming that we're related to the Durgin that started this restaurant, but to my knowledge that's never been documented.

Durgin-Park is well known today for their Yankee recipes and sassy waitresses. According the their website, it started out in pre-revolutionary times as a small dining room in a large market house along the waterfront. It catered to market men and the crews anchored in Boston Harbor. Around 180 years ago it was purchased by Eldridge Park, John Durgin, and John Chandler. Mr. Park and Mr. Durgin died within a few years of the purchase and Mr. Chandler named the place in their memory. Mr. Chandler and his family ran the restaurant for 63 years. Over the years it's been sold a few times and is currently owned by the Arc Restaurant Corporation.

Some years back I was in Tuesday Morning and saw the Durgin Park Cookbook.

Of course, I had to buy it.

One of their better known recipes is Baked INDIAN Pudding.

DURGIN-PARK Baked Indian Pudding
1 cup yellow granulated corn meal
½ cup black molasses
¼ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup lard or butter
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon baking soda
2 eggs
1-1/2 quarts hot milk

            Mix all the ingredients thoroughly with one half (3/4 quart) of the above hot milk and bake in very hot oven until it boils. Then stir in remaining half (3/4 quart) of hot milk, and bake in slow heat oven for five to seven hours. Bake in stone crock, well greased inside. 

I must admit that I've never made this recipe.  To be honest, I don't have a crock and I wouldn't want to have to hang around waiting for it to bake the remaining 5-7 hours after it boils!  

Now head over to Ms. Jenny's blog for a list of this week's Alphabe-Thursday participants.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Alphabe-Thursday..."H" as in Holiday Cranberry Chicken

Welcome once again to Alphabe-Thursday sponsored by Ms. Jenny over at Jenny Matlock..."off on my tangent."  This week we are studying the letter "H" as in Holiday Cranberry Chicken

Yes, I know the holidays are over, but I had to come up with a recipe using the letter "H" and I was desperate.  I couldn't think of anything else except this chicken recipe.  It calls for cranberries and in case you haven't frozen some for use throughout the year you'll have to wait until next Thanksgiving/Christmas so you can buy them.  I always pick up a few bags in November and stick them in the freezer.  I love cranberries!

I know I've posted this recipe before and I was hoping I had a picture, but I don't.  I've got to start remembering to take pictures whenever I prepare one of my favorite recipes.  Then I'll always have pictures available.

Just pretend my Ginny dolls are making Holiday Cranberry Chicken in their Easy Bake Oven.  (I hate to do a post without a picture.)

I know I originally found this recipe somewhere online, but I no longer remember where so I can give proper credit.

Holiday Cranberry Chicken
(I make it year round.)

8 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/3 cup flour
1 t. salt
1/8 t. pepper
3 T butter
1 ½ cups whole cranberries, fresh or frozen
1 c. firmly packed brown sugar
¾ cup water
1 T flour
½ t. cinnamon
¼ t. salt
¼ t. allspice
¼ t. cloves
2 T. cider vinegar

Rinse chicken with cold water and pat dry with paper towels. In dish, combine flour, salt and pepper. Coat chicken with flour.

In large nonstick fry pan, melt butter over medium heat. (I use Pam instead.) Add chicken. Cook, turning once, to brown on both sides (about ten minutes). Remove chicken from pan and set aside. Add cranberries, brown sugar and water to pan drippings. Cook over medium heat until mixture comes to a full boil. In small bowl, combine remaining ingredients. Slowly stir into cranberry mixture. Continue cooking, stirring constantly, until sauce thickens and comes to a full boil. Boil one minute; then reduce heat to low. Return chicken to skillet. Cook, turning once, until chicken is done and fork tender (10 to 15 minutes). Serves: 8; Cooking Time: 30 minutes.

Be sure to visit Ms. Jenny's blog for a  list of this week's participants and for information on how you can join the fun.

Photos from the cruise...

 Reid is on a cruise this week. One of his friends is getting married on the ship later this week. Yesterday the ship docked in Key West, Florida. From there they're going on to The Bahamas and returning to Galveston on Sunday.

Here are a couple of photos that he sent to me yesterday.  They were taken with his cell phone.

This one is self explanatory...

I was glad to see that Reid is experiencing culture on this trip.  I think he said this sculpture is in front of a museum and is called daydream.  That's not Reid on the ground...that's part of the actual sculpture.  He explained to me that the guy is supposed to be daydreaming.  Maybe I should have this one as my blog header?  You know, DayDreamnWorld and a picture of someone daydreaming?

Sunday, January 08, 2012

WOW! Unbelievable...

Yesterday we went to the playoff game at Reliant Stadium in Houston. We're season ticket holders and this was the Houston Texans first playoff appearance in team history.  The team's first season was in 2002, so this was a long time in coming and a very big deal!

This season the unofficial team motto has been "next man up" since many of our starters have gone down with injuries...some season ending injuries.  We're on our third quarterback and he's a rookie and a fifth round draft pick.  However, the team rose to the occasion yesterday and beat the Cincinnati  Bengals.  This game had all the excitement that a loyal fan could ask for and more.  How about a defensive lineman scoring a touch down?  The final score was the Houston Texans 31 and the Cincinnati Bengals 10.

I'm still hoarse today from all the cheering and screaming.  Next week they go on to play the Baltimore Ravens in Baltimore.  It seems like most of the "experts" do not expect them to win, but the players and fans are hoping they'll be proven wrong.  Win or lose it's been a great season for the Houston Texans and their fans.  I'm hoping they'll be playing again at Reliant Stadium in a couple of weeks.

We enjoyed the game with 71,715 of our closest friends.

We park in The Medical Center and take the train to the stadium.  Then we walk past the old Astrodome to Reliant Stadium.

The stadium was all decked out for the occasion.

If you don't like crowds and lines...don't ever go to a playoff game.  This was where we stood on line to go through security.

It's been ten years since 9/11 and the NFL and the Houston Texans finally have metal detectors so we don't have to be patted down before each game.  When I heard they would have metal detectors this season I thought they'd be the kind you walk through.  No, they have to do this to 71,715 people.  (Note to the NFL and Houston Texans:  Come on...you can afford the walk through kind.)  This is my husband getting the once over.

Finally we got into Bud Plaza which is a fenced in area that has different pre-game activities, but it was kind of crowded so we just got on the line to go through the turnstyle.

It became more and more crowded because the turnstyles weren't supposed to open until 2:00 PM.  I thought it was kind of funny when the band had to push their way through the crowd to get into the stadium.  Everyone was in a good mood, so even though we were kind of squeezed together there were plenty of laughs.

They let us through the turnstyles a little before 2:00 and then we made our way up the escalator.  It really didn't take us too long to get to our seats.

We're in "nose bleed country," but we love our seats and have a very good view of the field.  This is the team coming out of the tunnel and being introduced before the game.  I heard later that on NBC the players all introduced themselves and gave their names and the colleges they attended, except for the offensive line.  They stated their names and the elementary schools they attended.  You can hear those introductions here.  I'm sure there were a lot of excited elementary school students when they heard their schools named.

 During the National Anthem they also had a huge outline of the United States that looked like an American flag.  I was a little late taking the picture and the people holding it were already starting to fold it up.  There was also a color guard with an American flag, but they were just about off the field when I snapped this picture.  (I thought I should wait until the National Anthem was over before I took a picture.)

Although it was really warm outside they had the roof closed so fan noise would help the team.  I always have a radio with ear phones, but I could barely hear the radio with all the noise.

After the game the place exploded with excitement.  Some of the players went to the middle of the field for some Tebowing.

We left and squeezed on the train for the ride back to our car.

Everyone on the train was happy.  It was definitely a party-like atmosphere. 

It sure would be nice if they beat Baltimore and we get to go to another game at Reliant Stadium this season!

Thursday, January 05, 2012

After Christmas Update...

Things have been a little crazy around here the last few weeks. It seemed to take me forever to get all the Christmas stuff put up which is why I have no intention of taking it down for a while. I normally leave my decorations up until the Epiphany in January, but this year I'm leaving things up even longer.

Although our winters aren't cold here...they are a little gloomy. I like to come out in the morning and light up the tree. It makes winter seem a little less gloomy to me.

Right before Christmas Reid had a PET scan and a doctor's appointment at MD Anderson. His one lymph node lit up slightly on the scan. If it was you or me they'd probably ignore it, but because of his history of Hodgkin's they have to keep an eye on it. The doctor has told us before that even a scratch on his arm could cause that to happen. It's not unusual. If he had to put odds on it he'd say there's an 80% chance it is not Hodgkin's. He'll have a CT scan this month and we'll see what that shows. He went down last week for the clinical trial IV. He likes to joke that cancer doesn't take holidays off.

Jim also had an appointment before Christmas and in spite of the injections he's been receiving his PSA went up. He's been put on an oral medication and will begin receiving a different injection this month. He's been feeling fine, so I suspect the oral medication is helping. Meanwhile, he's looking forward to the Houston Texans playoff game on Saturday! (I'm looking forward to it too!) We'll try and get down to the stadium early and beat the crowd.

On Christmas Day we went down to the Hotel Galvez in Galveston for their Christmas buffet. I meant to bring my camera but forgot! That's OK...it probably would have been a series of blurry pictures anyway. The food was delicious and we ate like pigs. It was nice to see Reid eating well this Christmas since he spent the last two Christmases feeling yucky from chemo.

We came home and opened packages. Troy was "Christmas Boy" again this year. It's a family tradition that one member of the family is chosen (AKA stuck, coerced) to bare this title and hand out the gifts. Of course, he had to wear the official Christmas Boy hat.

Can't you see the joy on his face?

Of course, Zoom was excited and couldn't wait, so she began before the rest of us.

We didn't forget the cats. They received a sock monkey bed which went perfectly with my sock monkey collection that I placed beneath the tree this year. Ashley is actually sleeping in the bed, but it's kind of hard to see him in the picture.

Jim had a Houston Texans Christmas this year. He now has a very large Houston Texans wardrobe including a new hat, shirts, Snuggie, etc. He got just about everything except Houston Texans underwear.

This is the only picture of Reid and Keith that didn't turn out blurry. They were actually happy on Christmas Day, but you'd never know it by this picture.

While we were in the other room Ashley was busy. I came into the kitchen and found a bump under the tablecloth.

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season.

Happy New Year!

GO TEXANS!! (We're all fans around here.)

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Alphabe-Thursday..."G" as in GOOD Food

OK, so I'm really grasping at straws here because I was totally unprepared for Alphabe-Thursday up until a few minutes ago. We're already up to the letter "G" and I had to quickly come up with a post. Then I dug into one of my recipe boxes and came up with a GOOD recipe for Rice and Vermicelli. For more Alphabe-Thursday posts head over to Jenny's blog, Jenny Matlock..."off on my tangent."

I haven't been around lately reading blogs or answering E-mails, but things were kind of hectic over the holidays. I came down with a cold on Christmas Day, our oldest son and his cats were temporarily camping out in the computer room, and time just seemed to fly. Then Reid gave me season three and four of The Amazing Race on DVD for my birthday and I've been watching those episodes in my spare time.

I'll have a family catch up post soon, but for today I wanted to post another recipe and decided on "G" for GOOD tasting food and GOOD for you. This is a pretty simple recipe and we have it often as a side dish with chicken. It only takes a few minutes to put together and then you just pop it in the oven for 30-45 minutes. I always use brown rice in this recipe and it has only one tablespoon of butter which makes it healthier. I found this recipe somewhere online around ten years ago.

Rice and Vermicelli

1 cup rice (I use brown rice)

½ cup thin spaghetti broken in 2 inch pieces

1 chicken bouillon cube

2 cups hot water

1 Tablespoon butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a casserole dish melt butter on stove (I spray the casserole with a little PAM first); add rice and spaghetti and sauté for 3 to 4 minutes. Add water and chicken bouillon cube and stir until cube dissolves. Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes (45 minutes for brown rice). Serves 4

I don't have a picture, so you'll have to use your imagination.

Now head over to Jenny's blog so you can visit some other Alphabe-Thursday posts.