Watch the Time Go Right Out the Window

Holy cannoli.  It is the last week of 2016 already.  It seems like just yesterday it was 1997.  I have high hopes for this coming year.  Do you make New Year resolutions?  I used to but stopped a few years back.  I have aspirations to better life in general each year, but the unnecessary pressure seems to work against me.  So, now I nurture my hopes and goals in a nice, warm, cozy corner in my mind and refuse to name them or share them with the outside world.

I belong to a health and wellness group on Facebook.  The goal of the group is to have fellowship with others, encourage each other on their journey to get/stay healthy, share healthy recipes, have exercise challenges, and hold each other accountable.  We are starting a new 30-day exercise challenge on the 1st.  When the challenge has been chosen, I will share it on here.  Hopefully you will join us and make Pulled A Hammy Sammich a part of your wellness journey!

Whether your goals for the coming year concern your health, your job, your family, your spirituality, or anything else, I wish you the best in the coming year!  Blessings to all.

Song of the Day

Be Yourself by Audioslave.  This song is one of those that you can get fully into, stretching your face into a scowl that, if seen from the car next to you at the red light, will likely make the other driver think you’re in agony.  It also has guitar music that is fun to duplicate orally — berng berng berng berng berng berng berng berng….

Recipe of the Day

Bobby’s Lighter Tastes Like Lasagna Soup via http://www.thedeenbrothers.com.  This is a healthier version of Paula Deen’s soup, and it is wonderful.

Ingredients:

2 teaspoons olive oil
1 pound Italian turkey sausage, casings removed
1 onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 (32-ounce) container chicken broth
1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can petite diced tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
4 ounces broken whole-wheat lasagna noodles (about 4 noodles)
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
3 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup reduced-fat shredded mozzarella cheese
8 Whole-wheat breadsticks or grissini (optional)

Instructions:

Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a large nonstick saucepot or Dutch oven. Add the sausage, onion, bell pepper, and garlic. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the sausage is crumbled and browned, 8 – 10 minutes.

Add the broth, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, salt, and crushed red pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the flavors are blended, about 20 minutes. Add the noodles; bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the soup thickens slightly and the noodles are tender, 10 – 12 minutes. Remove from the heat; stir in mozzarella, basil, and the Parmesan. Serve with the breadsticks, if using. (whole-wheat lasagna noodles take a little longer to cook.)

Book of the Day

Image result for going bovine

Going Bovine by Libba Bray is the hilarious and heart-wrenching story of a sixteen-year-old boy’s journey through a deadly illness.  I know that sounds awful, but it really is a good read.  I promise.  4 stars.

I Bring You Good Tidings of Great Joy

Merry Christmas!  I hope that each of you get to spend time with loved ones.  I hope you laugh until your side hurts.  I hope you are blessed with a Christmas feast.  I hope you have the chance to be a blessing to someone else.  And, I hope you take time to honor the birth of Jesus Christ.

…Just then, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.  But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid!  For behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy that will be for all the people:  Today in the city of David a Savior has been born to you.  He is Christ the Lord!…  Luke 2:9-11

We are headed to my folks’ place tomorrow.  Everyone will be there.  My heart needs a good dose of family.  My great nephew will be experiencing his first Christmas, and I can’t wait to watch him play with wrapping paper and ignore his toys.  Ha!  Right now, The Hubs and his cousin are cracking pecans that will become spiced pecans by the end of the night, and we’re watching Die Hard.  As the recent meme says, it isn’t Christmas until I’ve watched Die Hard.  I hope that you are kicked back in some festive pjs, sipping hot cocoa, and listening for sleigh bells.   

Peace and love to you all over the world.

Song of the Day

Hallelujah by Lindsey Stirling.  I have watched this video about a dozen times today.  Hallelujah is on my all-time favorite songs list, and Lindsey Stirling does an absolutely beautiful rendition.  I wish she would perform with 2Cellos, and I wish they would come to a venue close enough for me to see them.  And, I wish they would give me free tickets for suggesting such a successful tour…..hint hint…..

Recipe of the Day

My Mother-in-Law’s Spiced Pecans

  • 2 egg whites
  • 4 cups pecan halves
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350.  Beat egg whites.  Fold pecans into egg whites.  Fold in sugar, cinnamon, and salt.  Spread evenly over a large cookie sheet.  Bake 25-30 minutes, stirring regularly.

Book of the Day

Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz.  My very good friend has been after me for ages to read this series, and I’m finally doing it.  The main character, named Odd Thomas (duh.), communicates with the dead.  Aside from that, he seems like a layed-back, cool kind of dude.  I’m only a couple of chapters in, and I can already tell that I will love it.  

 

Ice Cube’s a Pimp

Today was a good day.  Writing that starts the music player in my head to rapping:

Just waking up in the morning gotta thank God / I don’t know but today seems kinda odd / No barking from the dogs, no smog / And momma cooked a breakfast with no hog.

Which leads me to think of the time I spent a week helping one of our stores set up their new scanning program.  I had to scan every single solitary item in this c-store, enter a description and a price into the system, and assign it to a category.  It was tedious work.  I allowed myself one bit of mischief to make me enjoy my time just a wee bit more–I put “Ice Cube’s a Pimp” in the description for a pack of Ice Cube gum.  Giggle.  It’s the little things in life….

Today I spent the day Christmas shopping with The Hubs and attending a Christmas party.  Yes, I do believe my little Scroogey self is actually succumbing to Christmas cheer.  One of my retired co-workers and his wife, who is also an ex co-worker, attended.  I have missed them so.  I had the best time chatting with them and some other folks that I haven’t seen in quite some time.  And, of course we pigged out, which is always lovely.  And, I brought a peppermint chocolate chip Nothing Bundt Cake to the party.  Has anyone else discovered the terrible awful wonderfulness of Nothing Bundt Cake cakes?  If you haven’t, please forget I said anything…..SAVE YOURSELF!

The Hubs and I decided to eliminate the stress of the commercialized hemorrhaging of money that is Christmas shopping by agreeing to only buy gifts for all of the toddlers and babies of the family.  Viola!  Stress gone.  Babies don’t give two poops what you give them.  And, for the most part, neither do toddlers.  This was the best year of Christmas shopping that I can remember.  It made me feel warm & fuzzy to purchase Glo Worms and other classic, simple gifts.  And, now we’re done!  Now I am going to sit back and focus on enjoying the rest of the Christmas season by spending time with the family and being mesmerized by twinkly Christmas lights.

I cannot end this post without mentioning the emotionally unstable weather we experienced today.  It is December.  December, people!  When I woke up this morning, it was already in the 70s.  By this afternoon, it was in the 80s.  The low for this evening is supposed to be in the teens.  What the…….???  Gotta love Texas weather.

Peace and my thermometer is so confused grease.  (These are starting to make less and less sense….)

Song of the Day:

Sweater Weather by The Neighbourhood.  Because, well because it is sweater weather.  At least it has been for part of this wonderful day.

Recipe of the Day:

Sausage and Black Bean Dip via http://www.plainchicken.com .  This is not at all healthy, but it’s warm and wonderful, and you will eat 2 tons of it on Fritos.  Just accept that fact.

  • 3/4 lb ground pork sausage, cooked and drained
  • 6 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 3/4 c plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 c shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 can Rotel, drained
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained

Preheat oven to 350.  Mix all ingredients together and pour into a baking dish.  Bake 30-40 minutes, or until bubbly.  Serve with tortilla or corn chips.

Book(s) of the Day:

Image result for millennium books Image result for the girl in the spider's web

The Millennium series by Steig Larsson.  It took me two tries to get into the first book, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.  I swear that if you can get past the beginning, there is a story there–and a good one at that.  This series is graphic and brutal, but wonderfully told and riveting.  I read the original three books in rapid succession.  Unfortunately, the author died before completing the fourth book.  I have heard that his girlfriend was familiar with what he intended to do with the story line, but that his family blocked her from finishing and publishing it.  A fourth book, The Girl in the Spider’s Web, was released in 2015.  However, I read that it isn’t the unfinished book started by Larsson but a completely new story.  I have read all four books.  The fourth one is good, but it definitely has a different feel and tone than the first three.

 

Daily Prompt: Flee

via Daily Prompt: Flee

I often have the urge to flee.  I’m pretty sure this means that I am not living up to Adulting Standards.  I want to flee work.  I want to flee bills.  I want to flee chores.  I want to flee from my job, this town, this humdrum life.  Isn’t that awful?

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”  Hebrews 13:5

But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.  1 Timothy 6:6-7

 In other words, shouldn’t I be content with my life?  Why do I have the desire to flee from all of the blessings that God has given me and this life that He has appointed me to?  Because I am weak and whiny.  That’s why.  I know how blessed I am.  And yet, there are time when I would gladly leave it all behind for the mere chance at another life.  I know it is crazy.  Changing the setting of my life would not solve anything.  In fact, it would most likely come with its own set of problems and stresses.  Hopefully, I will get the chance to travel more.  I think that would help.  Being trapped inside these four office walls day in and day out is what makes me the most anxious.  It is why I jump at any chance to go anywhere.  It hardly matters where.  I have friends who almost never leave the county, much less the state.  I cannot fathom how they keep from going completely insane.  Am I alone in this?  Do you fantasize about taking the ones you care about most and heading off into the Great Unknown without ever looking back?

On another note, I finally decorated for Christmas.  And, I did some Christmas shopping online yesterday afternoon.  Woot!  Watching the lights on my tree twinkle does put me in a more festive mind set.  I don’t know why I fight Christmas so hard each year.  I do actually enjoy some of it.  I enjoy driving around and looking at lights.  I enjoy Christmas music (to an extent.  There are limits…..).  I love time spent with family.  Watching children and the wonder on their faces makes me happy.  Giving appreciated gifts makes me feel good.  It isn’t all bad!  I guess I just need to be reminded each year.
I hope that you and yours have a very Merry Christmas.  I pray that you get to spend the holdiays with those you love.  I pray for contentment in your life and in mine.  Much love to all!
Peace and that’s it.  Just peace

Song of the day:

O Holy Night.  This is my second favorite Christmas song.  It gives me goose bumps every time I hear it.  This is Christina Grimmie’s version.  She was a promising young singer who was tragically murdered by a crazed fan outside of a concert in Florida this past summer.  I love her voice.  And, I love that she sings more than just the most well-known verse.

Book of the day:

Image result for humans of new york stories
Humans of New York:  Stories by Brandon Stanton.  I began following Humans of New York’s Facebook page at the recommendation of a friend.  Brandon Stanton is a photographer/journalist who takes photos of people in New York and publishes little biographies, quotes, stories, etc. of the subjects.  They range from one sentence to a couple of paragraphs.  They are sad, funny, touching, insightful, alarming, wonderful.  I was excited to see that he put out some of the collections in book form.  I recommend both this book and that you follow him on Facebook.  I read that he has a blog, too, though I haven’t yet sought it out.  It is a riveting peek into the varied lives of people from all walks of life.

Recipe of the day:

The Hubs’ Beef Enchiladas
Yum.  Seriously.
1-2 lbs. ground lean beef
onion
garlic
enchilada sauce
salt, pepper, garlic powder
small white corn tortillas
Wolf brand chili with no beans
freshly shredded cheddar cheese
None of these ingredients are measured out, because that’s how The Hubs makes this.  Just guess on how much you need by how many you want to make.  One pound of meat makes about a dozen very stuffed enchiladas.  Season and brown beef along with onion and garlic.  Don’t drain the grease.  Add enchilada sauce and let simmer for a while.  (The Hubs likes his quite saucy and uses two small cans for one pound of meat.)  Warm the chili on low heat.  It doesn’t have to be hot, just warm.  Set up a pan of water on high heat and start boiling.  Set a pizza screen on top of pan.  Once boiling, steam the tortillas, flipping them back and forth on each side on the pizza screen until you can stuff and roll them without them breaking.  (You can also achieve this by frying them in oil, but this is healthier.)  Stuff the tortillas with a line of saucy meat and onions and some shredded cheese, tightly roll, and line them up in a greased baking dish.  You can pack them in there pretty tightly.  Once you are out of meat, pour remaining sauce from the pan in to the pot with the warming chili.  Pour chili over rolled enchiladas.  Top with remaining shredded cheddar.  Bake for about 30 minutes at 350 or until everything is melted and bubbly.  You can also put these in a foil pan and freeze them for cooking at a later date.  We usually make two pans–one for now and one for later.  Serve with Mexican rice and refried beans.

Lord, Give Me Strength

Hello.  It is my lunch break, and I have been sitting here perusing Amtrak vacations.  Have you ever traveled by train?  I have not.  I want to go on an overnight train trip in a sleeper car.  It is one of many bucket list items.  I have been on many many road trips, but I think it would be fascinating to see the country from the rails rather than the highways!  Who knew that Amtrak had so many vacation packages to choose from?  I always thought of them as a means to get from one place to another with no entertainment in between–sort of like Greyhound.

I have also spent a good part of my day in my office praying for peace and the ability to let things roll of my back.  It has been somewhat successful.  I have only vented once, and I have so far choked zero people.  So, yay me!  I take my victories where I can get them.

Apparently the dreaded “s-word” is rolling in to our area as we speak.  That being SNOW.  Holy moley.  I live in the south.  We are not well equipped to handle snow.  Folks here simply do not know how to drive in icy weather.  And, we have very little in the way of winter weather wardrobes.  But, I am looking forward to it.  I love the hush that comes over the earth when blanketed by snow.  I love how the crystals twinkle in the tree branches.  Ah, peace!

Anywho.  I hope you all have a great day.  Stay safe & warm!

Peace and Amtrak train grease!

Song of the day:

Christmas Eve/Sarajevo (aka Carol of the Bells) by Trans Siberian Orchestra.  My absolute all-time favorite Christmas song.  If you have never seen them perform live, DO IT!  Put it on your bucket list right now.  There is no way to describe the feeling of the music pulsing through your body when standing before the stage.

Recipe of the day:

Beef Pot Pie (the made-from-scratch-it-takes-forever-but-it-is-worth-it version) via http://www.gooddinnermom.com

Ingredients
  • 1 (2 pound) boneless beef chuck-eye roast, trimmed and cut into ¾-inch pieces
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil or avocado oil, divided
  • 4 ounces mushrooms (baby bellas also called creminis or white button if unavailable), trimmed and quartered
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3 carrots, peeled and cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ cup dry red wine, or ½ cup water
  • 3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 1 Tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1½ teaspoons chopped fresh thyme, divided
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 (9-inch) store-bought pie dough round or your own made-from-scratch pie crust
Instructions
  1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 350F degrees. Pat beef cubes dry with a paper towel and season with salt and pepper. Heat 1½ tablespoons of the oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat and cook until well browned all over, about 7 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer the beef to bowl or plate with the remaining uncooked beef.
  2. Reduce heat to medium and add remaining 1½ tablespoons oil to now-empty pot. Add mushrooms, onion, and carrots and cook until vegetables are lightly browned, about 5 minutes, scraping up any browned bits. Stir in tomato paste and garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  3. Stir in wine (or water) and cook until evaporated, about 2 minutes. Stir in flour until the vegetables are well coated and cook for 1 minute. Add broth, soy sauce, Worcestershire, and bay leaf, stirring until combined. Scrape any bits that have stuck to bottom of pan to incorporate into liquids. Add beef and bring to a simmer. Cover and transfer to oven. Cook until beef is tender, about 1¼ hours.
  4. Remove filling from oven and taste the beef to make sure it’s tender to your liking. If it tastes chewy, add ¼ cup water, stir and return to oven for another 20-30 minutes. Once meat is tender, remove and then increase oven temperature to 400F degrees. If the meat mixture looks to need more “juice”, then remove mixture from pot to a plate and add ¼ to ½ cup water back to the Dutch oven and kind of tilt the pan to scrape off some of the crusty fond that’s accumulated in the pot. This should create a thick meaty sauce to add into the meat mixture and thin it out a bit, plus it only adds to the flavor of the beef.
  5. Discard the bay leaf and stir in the fresh thyme and add the peas. Taste the filling and add salt and pepper to taste at this time (up to 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper).
  6. Spray the bottom of a 9-inch deep-dish pie plate and add meat mixture to the dish.
  7. Brush the rim and interior lip of the pie plate with egg (this will prevent the shell from sticking to the dish and cracking or breaking). Top the filling with pie dough so dough overhangs edges of pie plate only slightly. Fold overhanging pie down inward so folded edge is flush with inner edge of pie plate. Crimp dough evenly around edge of pie using your fingers.
  8. Using a paring knife, cut a ½-inch hole in center of pie. Cut six ½-inch slits around the hole, halfway between center and edge of pie. Brush dough with remaining egg. Season the top of the dough with salt, pepper and remaining ½ teaspoon chopped thyme. Transfer pie to rimmed baking sheet and bake until crust is golden brown, 20-30 minutes.
  9. Transfer pie to cooling rack and let cool for 15 minutes. Serve.

Book of the day:

Saving Cee Cee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman

Image result for saving honeycutt

I just finished this book today.  Excellent read.  It is the sad and funny and overall very heart-warming story of Cee Cee Honneycutt, whose mother is mentally ill and whose father is largely absent.  If you’re an audiobookphile like I am, you may recognize the narrator’s (Jenna Lamia) voice from Moon Over ManifestThe Fame Game series, the Velva Jean series, The Help, the Shiver series, etc.  I’m a fan, if you can’t tell.  I gave the book 4 stars on Goodreads.

Baby, It’s Cold Outside

Good morning!  And how are you on this fine wintery Wednesday?  You gotta love Texas weather.  It went from being pretty warm to kinda chilly to downright nipply in the span of a week.  I think I am going to have to bust out my furry boots tomorrow.

Are you all geared up for Christmas festivities?  I am not.  I haven’t even got around to dragging out my tree and decorations.  The probability of that happening lessens a bit more with each passing day.  I have entertained the thought of making gifts, but it hasn’t got out of the jotting-it-down-on-paper stage.  Geez, I’m pathetic.  I hope you have your act together better than I do!

I am getting excited about next year’s reading challenge.  Please join us here!  Invite your friends!  The challenge consists of two lists of categories–one main list and one bonus list.  Throughout the year, you choose books to read to fulfill each category and report back to the group what you read and what you thought about it.  With the exception of one category (reread a book from your childhood), you cannot use books that you have previously read.  You cannot put the same book into more than one category.  The purpose is to challenge yourself to read something that you might not normally read.  2017 will be my third reading challenge.  I am really enjoying participating.

On another exciting note, my fantasy football team is 13-0!  I have no idea how I have managed to do that, but the only place I have bragged is here on WordPress.  I’m trying not to jinx my good luck.  The guys in my league are not impressed.  Ha!

Well, y’all have a wonderful week.  Stay warm & snuggly!

Peace and paperback grease!

Recipe of the day:

Pecan Jewel Cookies with Spicy Jam Filling via http://www.cookingchanneltv.com.  I made these for our office Christmas lunch, and the were absolutely delicious.

ingredients

  • 3 cups pecans, coarsely chopped
  • 2/3 cup raspberry jam (the jam should have a thick consistency because it spreads during baking)
  • Pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup light or dark brown sugar, packed
  • 3 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature (1 1/2 cups)

directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Roast the pecans on a baking sheet until fragrant and toasted, 7 to 9 minutes. Set aside to cool, and then pour into a shallow dish. Mix together the jam and cayenne in a small bowl until the cayenne is evenly distributed.

Cream together the sugar and butter in a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, until light and fluffy, 2 minutes. Beat in the egg yolks, vanilla and salt until combined. Reduce the speed to low and beat in the flour until just combined. Shape the dough into 1-inch balls (about 2 teaspoons dough per ball).

Lightly beat the egg whites in a small bowl. Brush or roll the dough balls in the beaten egg whites and then roll each ball in the chopped pecans. Place the balls 2 to 3 inches apart on the baking sheets. Press an indentation into the center of each ball using a thick straw, chopstick or the end of a wooden spoon, and then fill the hole with a small amount of filling, about 1/2 teaspoon. Bake until the edges turn golden, 15 to 17 minutes. Cool completely on the sheets on a wire rack.

Song of the day:

Better Days by Goo Goo Dolls.  A sort of non-traditional Christmas song that I love.

Book of the day:

Image result for it ends with us colleen hoover
It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover.  My cousin recommended this book to me, and it was wonderful.  And sad.  And wonderful.  I gave it four stars on Goodreads, though it may have warranted five stars……