Sunday, December 27, 2015

Arizona, Mesa - Sunday, December 27, 2015 - Lots of Cooking Going On

We had a wonderful Christmas dinner.  Greg smoked these lobster tails, I added the broccoli-cashew salad, shrimp cocktail and the pumpkin pie in the background.  We touched base with my Mom and all of the kids and grandkids either by phone, Facebook or Facetime – isn’t technology wonderful?

We are going into the New Year somewhat lighter than we began 2015.  Although we indulge occasionally we have stuck very well to a low-calorie, low sodium diet since the first of September.  Greg is down 27 pounds and I am down 25.
The kitchen is quiet now, but it was pretty busy for a few hours on Saturday and Sunday.  I estimate that we spend six to eight hours a week cooking.  We usually divide that up over a couple of days and then the rest of the week we just reheat things.  I probably spend another four hours researching recipes, calculating calorie and sodium counts of the ones that sound interesting and then keeping track of everything we end up eating.  Since this is a life change not a diet for a little while I want to come up with things that make us feel like we are eating as close to “normal” as possible.  Tonight we enjoyed Teriyaki pork chops with sautéed peppers and onions and some pineapple-cashew rice.  The only sodium in this meal is what is naturally in the pork and it still tasted great.  Mrs. Dash’s Teriyaki marinade is wonderful.

This weekend we put together pickled eggs, barbeque sauce, salsa, breakfast burritos, baked hush puppies, freezer slaw, pickled onions, au gratin potatoes, sausage and bean soup, chicken noodle soup, pizza, and jumbo shrimp for cocktails.  I was finally able to put together a homemade sausage recipe that Greg really likes.  This one has been a struggle but Greg likes sausage so well and it is great to use for so many dishes it was worth it.  I used very lean pork and lots of spices (but no salt) and it really tastes pretty good.  With what we had left over from last week, we are set for some really good meals for the next week.  Knowing that we have something good to come home to helps us to keep from indulging in the good smelling food we serve at the grill.

Our weather is still pretty cool, I’m looking forward to some warmer weather in a couple of weeks.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Arizona, Mesa - Thursday, December 24, 2015 - Quiet Christmas Eve at Home

Hard to believe we have celebrated 8 Christmas Eves together.  This is the ornament we bought that first Christmas and its sentiment still stands.  I’ll admit that at the time we bought this ornament I had visions of huge family Christmas celebrations with all of the kids and spouses and grandkids with us all at the same time – lots of presents and lots of food.  Well, things didn’t turn out quite that way but the way it turned out is still extremely wonderful.
I read a quote the other day that said, “Your greatest contribution to the kingdom of God may not be something you do, but someone you raise”.  I think for us that quote is true five times over.  All of our kids are such wonderful parents and are now themselves making their contributions to make this world a better place.  We are so proud and blessed to have all of them in our lives.  Although we aren’t all together in one place for Christmas we have spent wonderful times with them throughout the year.  And, of course they are always in our hearts and minds even if they aren’t here physically.

Our ornament for this year was purchased when we were in Bar Harbor, Maine earlier this year.  What a beautiful place.  What a blessing it is to be able to travel and to see so many of the wonders we have in this great nation.

We are doing our part to make Arizona “greener”.  If you are an avid gardener you have probably heard of the concept of “square foot gardening”.  That’s about what we have – one square foot.  The original concept was to make the most out of every square foot of garden you have.  I think we have done quite well, looking forward to fresh basil and cilantro.
The weather here today was very pleasant in the mid 60’s and sunny.  We walked to the grocery for a few things.  I’ve thawed out the lobster tails Greg is going to smoke for our Christmas dinner tomorrow.  Other than that my major accomplishment for today was figuring out how to put my Pinterest boards in alphabetical order (it really bothered me more than it should have that they were in a helter skelter order).  The fact that I know that normal people could probably care less whether or not they are in alpha order doesn’t keep me from wanting it that way.  Needless to say, I’m quite happy.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Arizona, Mesa - Saturday, December 19, 2015 - Christmas Party

The Cal-Am Resorts here in Mesa had a Christmas party for all of their food service workers this evening.  This was our splurge for the week, back to low calorie, low sodium tomorrow.  I was a little disappointed in the quality of the meal – prime rib was too well done, it was so tough I gave up on trying to eat it.  I enjoyed the shrimp and salad which probably wasn’t that much of a splurge but I had bacon and real salad dressing on it – yum.
One thing the caterers here do very well is baking – cakes and cookies are delicious.  I did go for a slice of cake with lemon filling.  Greg isn’t sure what kind of cake he had but said it was good J.
If you’ve been watching the weather channel you know that we are in the two to three weeks of “winter” weather we have here.  It has been in the mid 30’s at night and only into the high 50s, low 60s most days.  A few days it was warmer in Indiana than it was here.  We’ve been pretty slow at the grill since no one wants to sit outside and eat when it is so cold.  We are looking for business to really pick up after the first of the year when everyone gets back from visiting families during the holidays and the rest of the snowbirds make their way south.  Temperatures should be warmer then too.

Since it has been so cool we haven’t been out and about a lot on the motorcycle.  We did finally get our flu shots on Thursday.  We had tried twice at Walgreens without any luck.  We ended up going to Osco Drugs which is in the Albertson’s Grocery store we go to across the street.  They had an added bonus of 10% off on your grocery bill if you got a flu shot.

We are still going square dancing a couple of times a week.  Most of the steps are coming back to me now.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Arizona, Mesa - Saturday, December 5, 2015 - Christmas Decorations

It’s a little hard to get into the Christmas spirit when the temperature is in the mid 70’s but I’m not going to complain at all.  We bought this wreath last year and it has been in the “basement” since then.  I was surprised, I just had to fluff the bow and it was good to go again.  We decided the coach could wear these hats this year.  We tried to wear them one day last year while we worked – that didn’t work, too darned hot!
The little orange tree in front of our site got a few fake snowflakes.  We strung some icicle lights and snowflakes on the awning over the patio but I think travel has been a little rough on the lights, we need to make a run to Lowe’s for replacements since less than half are lighting up.

Most of our inside decorations are on this wall since we have room for the garland above this slide out.  All of the ornaments we have collected as part of our travels hang from the garland.  This worked out nicely since there isn’t any room for a tree to hang them on.

Those of you from Pendleton, Indiana might recognize the building in the picture, it is the elementary school that was torn down many years ago.

My Pinterest exploring does pan out sometimes with more than just recipes.  I saw this window decoration last year and had to recreate it.
Yes, we still have one of these.  I keep seeing on Facebook people asking “do you remember these?” – stop it, it is making me feel old J

The dashboard trays have some of our smaller decorations – the reason for the season, a mini nativity scene. 

These Precious Moments Christmas figurines are some the kids have given me over the years.

The Longenberger baskets ride on the shelf above the refrigerator all year long but they needed a little holiday touch.  This teddy bear that daughter Desira made for me also rides up here all year long but his red and green coloring works perfect for right now.

The kitchen angel keeps watch over everything.  She’s also up there all year long, I need all the help I can get.

We actually did our decorating yesterday but we went square dancing last night and I was too tired to write the blog.  We are having a great time getting to know new people and getting some exercise as a plus.