Ye Ol’ Bucket List (Hopefully will be edited often.)

  • Travel to as many places as possible.
  • See the Aurora Borealis.
  • Go to a dinner mystery theater.
  • Sky dive (tandem – I don’t have the courage to do it alone).
  • Go on a cruise.
  • Go to The Holy Land.
  • Go to The Smithsonian.
  • Work for myself.
  • Retire.
  • Volunteer full time.
  • See a Broadway play on Broadway.
  • Start hiking regularly.
  • Hike somewhere that takes more than one day and requires camping out.
  • Attend SXSW.
  • Learn to ride a motorcycle/trike.
  • Go on a trip on a motorcycle/trike.
  • Do a food-themed (probably Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives) road trip.
  • Go on an overseas trip with my parents.
  • Get a tattoo or two.
  • Do a police ride along.
  • Take a cab ride in NYC.
  • Sell something that I’ve made.
  • Learn to make pottery.
  • Attend a professional basketball game.
  • See the Blue Man Group.
  • Attend a Cirque du Soleil performance.
  • Get a professional makeover.
  • Go on an overnight train ride in a sleeper car.
  • Relax in a natural hot spring.
  • Flip a house.
  • Use a metal detector.
  • Anonymously make a difference in someone’s life.
  • Ride in a hot air balloon.
  • Visit the 25 states I have not visited.
  • Meet a favorite author.
  • Play BINGO.
  • Do an Escape the Room.
  • Attend the Olympics.
  • Throw a themed party.
  • Stay at a B&B.
  • Go canoeing.
  • Go jet skiing.
  • Graffiti the cars at Cadillac Ranch.
  • Go deep sea fishing with my dad.
  • Play golf.
  • Ride a Segway.
  • Ride in a Gondola in Venice.
  • Take a complete Route 66 road trip. (Have done so partially.)
  • Go on an underwater scooter ride.
  • Write a song.
  • Help someone find God.
  • Be a better person.
  • Write a book.
  • Float a river.
  • Attend a roller derby match.
  • Attend a show at a comedy club.
  • Attend a professional football game.
  • Attend a professional hockey game.
  • Attend a professional baseball game.
  • Do a 5K.
  • Organize an event.
  • Take a swamp tour.
  • Swim in the ocean.
  • Ride in a cable car through the mountains.
  • See some mountains.
  • See a desert.
  • See an ocean. (Two, actually.)
  • See a swampland.
  • See a forest.
  • Visited 25 of 50 states.
  • Get a passport.
  • See an orchestra perform.
  • See a play.
  • Hold something from space.
  • Pay someone else’s bill anonymously.
  • Organize a reunion.
  • Go on a cross-country road trip.
  • Go to the State Fair.
  • Watch live bull riding.
  • Watch live boat races.
  • Take a random road that I’ve never been on.
  • Get a professional massage.
  • Get dressed up with The Hubs for dinner.
  • Show The Hubs where I grew up.
  • Stay in a luxury resort.
  • Go to Disney.
  • Go on a roadside oddity road trip.
  • Go on a road trip with my mom.
  • Skinny dip.
  • Watch someone be born.
  • Volunteer.
  • Ride in an airplane.
  • Ride in a helicopter.
  • Drive a four-wheeler.
  • Ride in a limo.
  • Explore an underground cave.
  • Ride in a large boat.
  • Ride in a small boat.
  • See Mount Rushmore.
  • Go to a casino.
  • Go on vacation with friends.
  • Stay in a cabin on a lake.
  • Stay in a cabin in the mountains.
  • Organize a club.
  • Go to a concert.
  • Go to a drive-in movie.

I am up for suggestions on stuff I should add. ¬†ūüôā

Song of the Day

Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen.  A classic.  Freddie Mercury was a legend.  Nothing else to say.

Book of the Day

Image result for spellmans lisa lutzImage result for spellmans lisa lutzImage result for revenge of the spellmansImage result for spellmans strike again

The Izzy Spellman series by Lisa Lutz.  These are great.  The Spellmans are a dysfunctional family of private investigators, who end up investigating each other as often as they do their outside clients.  The books are funny, sarcastic, light-hearted, and very entertaining.  5 stars each on Goodreads.

Recipe of the Day

Spicy Sausage, Spinach, and Mushroom Gnocchi via http://www.tablefortwoblog.com.  So good.  Does anyone else love gnocchi as much as I do?

INGREDIENTS
  • 1 16-ounce package of potato gnocchi
  • 3/4 pound spicy pork sausage
  • 1 diced onion, about 3/4 cup
  • 8 ounces of baby portobello mushrooms, sliced
  • 10 ounces of chopped frozen spinach (thawed and excess liquid squeezed out)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • Freshly grated parmesan cheese,¬†for topping
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil and follow the instructions on the gnocchi package. Drain well once done.
  2. In the meantime, brown sausage in a skillet over medium high heat and break it into smaller pieces with a wooden spoon. Add the onion and mushroom to the skillet then saute until softened, about 5 minutes.
  3. Toss the drained spinach in the sausage mixture.
  4. Add the gnocchi to the skillet and gently toss to evenly distribute the ingredients. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Serve hot and top with freshly grated Parmesan cheese, if desired.

Where Artwork Goes to Die

Happy 2017!¬† I had a really wonderful long weekend.¬† How about y’all?¬† The Hubs and I¬†spent the weekend in¬†Shreveport/Bossier City.¬† We watched Sing, which was cute.¬† We pigged out a couple of times.¬† We went to the NYE party at Harrah’s and watched their firework show.¬† And then I spent most of today doing chores and art projects.¬† I get frustrated doing art projects, but I also enjoy them immensely.¬† I have a whole stack of half-done canvases in my spare room from starting projects for loved ones, hating them, and eventually abandoning them.¬† But, today I made something for my office, and I mostly like it.

For Christmas, I gave my mom an essential oil diffuser and a small selection of oils.¬† I am interested in investing in these things for myself.¬† There are so many uses for essential oils, and there seems to be a combination of oils to treat whatever in the world may ail you.¬† Migraines?¬† Check.¬† Allergies?¬† Check.¬† Stress?¬† Check.¬† Stub your toe?¬† Have a miserable job?¬† Wanted by the police?¬† Check, check, and check.¬† Okay.¬† Maybe not those last three…..

I have also been looking into DIY toiletry items that are made with essential oils such as bath bombs, lip glosses, beard oils, etc.  I really think that I am going to start making some of these.  Have you made anything with essential oils?  Were you happy with the results?  What got me interested was an $8 bath bomb the size of a softball that The Hubs bought for me.  It was made with orange essential oil, and the moment I lowered myself into the tub, every one of my itchy eczema spots stopped itching.  It was amazing.  And, my skin felt more supple than it has in years.  I spent the rest of the evening petting my own arm.  Ha!

In an earlier post, I mentioned a 30-day exercise challenge.¬† That challenge began today.¬† Actually, I am doing two of them simultaneously.¬† Both were found on http://www.darebee.com.¬† One is the Boxer challenge, and the other is the Cardio & Abs challenge.¬† Whew!¬† Doing both meant that today I did 3 sets of 20 high knees and 20 climbers with 1 minute rest followed by 4 sets of 1 minute high knees and 1 minute rest.¬† Needless to say, I was a bit (a lot) wobbly when I was done.¬† I hope you’ll consider doing¬†a challenge with us!

Also, our 2017 Reading Challenge kicked off yesterday.  Busy start to the year!

I hope you all have a blessed rest-of-the-week and an amazing 2017!

Song of the Day

Be As You Are by Mike Posner.  I love the message in this song.

Book of the Day

Image result for thirteen reasons why jay asher

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher.¬† Another guilty pleasure YA fiction read.¬† I recommended this to my niece who does not read for pleasure a few years back, and she begrudgingly reported to me that she liked it.¬† The narrator is a teenage girl who committed suicide.¬† This makes me sound like a bad aunt, doesn’t it?¬† What a recommendation.¬† It’s good, though.¬† I swear…..

Recipe of the Day

Skinny Spinach Artichoke Dip via http://www.lifemadesimplebakes.com. ¬† So.¬† Good.¬† And not so unhealthy….

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 1 jalape√Īo, minced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 oz. (1 block) ‚Öď less fat cream cheese, room temperature
  • 16 oz. plain Greek yogurt (non-fat, 1% or 2%)
  • 1 c. shredded parmesan cheese
  • ¬Ĺ tsp. garlic powder
  • ¬Ĺ tsp. onion powder
  • ¬ľ tsp. salt
  • ¬ľ tsp. pepper
  • ¬ľ tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 12-14 oz. marinated artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
  • 10 oz. frozen spinach, thawed and drained
Directions
  1. Place a Dutch oven or a medium size pot over medium-low heat. Add the butter, melt then add the jalape√Īo. Saut√© for a minute or two, then add the minced garlic and cook until translucent and fragrant. Add the cream cheese, Greek yogurt and parmesan cheese and turn heat up to medium. Whisk continuously until the mixture becomes smooth and begins to bubble, about 4 minutes or so.
  2. Add the seasonings along with the chopped artichoke hearts and thawed/drained spinach. Cook for an additional 5 minutes, whisking or stirring to prevent any burning. Remove and enjoy!

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 ¬ĺ-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 ¬Ĺ-inch pieces
  • 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¬Ĺ cup dry red wine, or ¬Ĺ 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
  • 1¬Ĺ 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 1¬Ĺ 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 1¬Ĺ 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 1¬ľ hours.
  4. Remove filling from oven and taste the beef to make sure it’s tender to your liking. If it tastes chewy, add ¬ľ 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 ¬ľ to ¬Ĺ 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 ¬Ĺ 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 ¬Ĺ-inch hole in center of pie. Cut six ¬Ĺ-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 ¬Ĺ 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 Manifest,¬†The 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.

Loose as a Goose

Do you ever get home from work and immediately shuck all of your uncomfortable clothing and do ballet jumps through the air while naked because if feels so wonderful to break free from the chains from adult life (at least for a moment)? No? Oh. Me either. I’m not sure why I even asked that…..

To add to the joy of getting out of that dress and heels, I came home on my lunch break and started dinner in the crockpot. Soooo….no cooking duties tonight! Woot! That only leaves laundry and the freedom to paint rocks.

Yes. You read that correctly. Paint rocks. Apparently there is a fledgling fad on the Great Facebook (sarcasm font) that is trying to take hold. It’s like that awful Pokemon obsession but much much less lame. (Shut up. Yes it is.) What you do is gather some rocks (hopefully legally) and paint super cute, silly, and/or inspirational things on them and then hide them in random places in your area. (Be sure to paint the name of your local rock painting site on the bottom!) You do this in the hopes that someone will find it, be delighted, notice the page name on the bottom, and report their find online. Then, hopefully, they will rehide it elsewhere and be inspired to rush out and paint and hide their own rocks. I have no idea what the long-term goal of this is, but I enjoy it. I feel kinda like a gift fairy flitting around hiding miniature pieces of art for others to find.

Don’t judge. Just try it! You may even find the whole process therapeutic.

Peace and oil paint grease.

Song of the day:

I chose Asleep at the Wheel by The Bloodhound Gang because knowing that song helped me solve Final Jeopardy last night.

Book of the day:

Image result for swiss family robinson

My¬†book challenge dictates that I read a book published before 1900, so I am reading Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss. Who the heck has that much practical survival knowledge in their noggin? The characters obviously didn’t live in the digital age, in which we know a whole lot of nothing because why should we? If you don’t know something, Google it.

Recipe of the day:

Crockpot Chicken and Stuffing

I have no idea where this recipe originated or who to give credit to.

1 lb chicken

1 box herb stuffing

1 can cream of whatever (you pick)

1 can’s worth of milk

A few slices of Swiss cheese

A few pats of butter

Salt, pepper, other seasonings
Put a crockpot condom (er….liner) in your crockpot. Place chicken (frozen or thawed…it matters not) in there. Season. Top with slices of Swiss cheese. Mix the cream of and the milk and pour over chicken. Top with entire box of stuffing mix. Dot with pats of butter. Cover. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. Make a veggie to go with it for diminished guilt level.