Thursday, March 31, 2016

When It Rains . . .

February, even with its multiple trips to help with clearing out Mr. Wonderful's mother's home, was pretty good for us financially. We ended the month with a little extra. Yay!

March, on the other hand, has used up that little extra and then some. First the chemist's car was not holding a charge. Fortunately, all it has needed is garaging and a new battery. And a new tire . . . for now. Something about rods not having any more adjustment left to make it straight. We just need it to hold together through graduation and a couple of months of working so that she can get a decent vehicle.

Then the geologist's vehicle bit the dust. Multiple things failing at once. It went to the salvage yard. Hooray that we could actually *drive* it to the salvage yard. But Mr. Wonderful's mother really can't drive any more. We picked up her vehicle for the geologist. Except it just blew a head gasket and broke something or other. 2K+ to get it running. But we couldn't replace it for less, so my little savings to replace my car will repair his. Mine does still run.

Then the heat pump wouldn't pump heat. Not close enough to summer to do without. The repair wasn't too bad, but we are warned. It will need replacing soon, very soon. 3.5 to 4K. *sigh*

And we still have to buy paint for the house.

Then yesterday, I broke a tooth. I just got back from having the sharp edge smoothed, such a relief. But I need a crown. *sigh* There are sufficient funds in the medical needs account to cover it. I'll just put off getting my hearing checked. (I probably need a hearing aid.) And Mr. Wonderful does need new glasses. Does it ever end?

Good grief. The attacks on our little emergency fund can stop any time now. First world problems, I know. I *do* have an emergency fund, albeit very much depleted. But still . . .

Peace out and remember.
Kindness Matters. 
That seemingly rude person you just ran into may be facing a crown, car repairs, and a need for a new furnace. 

Monday, March 28, 2016

Happy Birthday, Mr. Wonderful!

Sunday was Mr. Wonderful's birthday. And we woke up to . . .

. . . Snow!

Our only snow this winter was wet and beautiful and melting. Weird to be outside in the warm sunshine without a coat and several inches of snow. I really like snow in this scenario. No shoveling. No worries about any travel. But fun stuff with which to play.



Mr. Wonderful got a birthday pie! Ben and his sweetie joined us for lunch to celebrate.


And once enough snow had melted away, we had an Easter egg hunt.

One runs past, missing many, but snatching up easy finds.

One is slow and methodical, getting every egg in an area.

But he can still miss the obvious (egg on the rain gauge).
 Even searching slowly, Miss Adventure can miss the obvious (faded orange egg, just in front of the leg of the play set).


My little guy soon had a full pumpkin (they functioned quite well, even if they weren't holiday appropriate, thank you very much). He decided he had enough and went inside to play video games.
 

This one was left to finish finding the tough ones. But enough were left for her to have a full pumpkin, too. 

Happy birthday, Mr. Wonderful.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Swim Meet and Birthday Girl

The end of March is a busy time for me. Two different spring breaks, two birthdays, spring garden chores beckoning. This year is no different.

Last Thursday, my little guy had his annual special ed swim meet. I got to sit on a hard backless bench for an hour and a half to watch my little guy swim one length of the pool. Not even one lap. I was disappointed in that he did so very little compared to prior years. But his smile and the light in his eyes when he saw me at the end of his swim made it worth it.
 



 Then on Friday, it was the chemist's 23rd birthday.
 My favorite photo was blurry, but she had such a nice smile.


Concentrating, getting ready to blow the 5 (2 decades plus 3 years) candles out.
Pretty flowers for a pretty lady. :-)


And talented lady. This is her painting in a local shop window as part of a local art competition. Pretty cool!

Peace out and remember
Kindness Matters.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Blueberries and Pinto Beans

I have recently begun to use real blueberries in cooking. It all started last fall when my brother-in-law spoiled me one weekend when I was staying with my sister and him. He made pancakes for breakfast with fresh blueberries. I had never had them. So yummy! I had to try it at home myself. It's so easy to do. You just use your normal pancake recipe then drop several blueberries in the cake once it's on the griddle.

A couple of weeks ago I wanted to make blueberry muffins. All I had ever done in the past was use a cheap boxed mix with these fake blueberry pellets. After a bit of hunting through some of my recipe books, I found one for blueberry muffins. So much better than fake bits, very small amount of additional trouble, and, if blueberries are on sale, just a dime or two more than the box mix. Good grief, why did I ever use the mix? Well, because I didn't know how easy it was to make my own. Not ever going back to fake muffins.

**************

I am using dried beans for many of the things I used to use canned beans for. It's a little extra trouble and takes a little extra planning, but beans store easily and I reduce my can waste (even though the steel cans do hit the recycle bin) by so much. But one thing I have not had much success with is making refried beans from scratch. I have tried a few times, ending up with a mess of such tasteless mush that it all went to waste. I'd let it go for 6 months, a year, whatever. Then I would get the gumption to make another attempt. I had not been able to find any sort of recipe that worked well for me.

Then a few months ago, my favorite cooking show aired an episode that included refried beans. Yay! Well, not so yay. They used canned pinto beans. Oh, come on! For the show, it was a way to really speed things up and to make the recipe so much easier without sacrificing quality. But it was important to me to use dry beans, not canned. However, it did give me a starting point. I began with their recipe, but used pinto beans I had soaked and cooked. It turned out okay. Nothing to write home about, but not a complete disaster either. I changed a few things around, tried again. This time it was better. Still could use something, I wasn't sure what, but it was better. I felt like I was onto something if only I would keep trying. This weekend I tried again with another little change, and wow! They are not fabulous beans, but they have flavor and are good beans. Finally better than canned refried beans, and I use dried beans as my base. No preservatives, no artificial flavorings, and made fresh! Happy dance!

Slowly I conquer pre-made convenience foods, replacing those with things I make from scratch. As I do this, I feel better about the quality of the food I feed my family. It's also beginning to make a difference in my food bill. Dried beans are a fabulous value. I utilize my garden more effectively.

Next up, to make my own tortillas or enchilada sauce. Not sure which I feel most up to tackling. I'll let you know. :-)

Eat well and remember
Kindness Matters!

Friday, March 11, 2016

Spring!

Goodness! but the weather has been gorgeous lately. Everything is starting to bud out and bloom. Which has me a bit concerned. It is very early for this nice weather. And now the 10 day outlook has below freezing temperatures out about 8 days. I do hope things aren't hurt too badly by it.

In the meantime, the elm is bursting with flowers and seedlings.


My favorite tree, the cottonwood, is getting so big! :-)

It is about to burst out in leaves.
  Even a weed can bring a spot of cheery color.


Hyacinths by the rain barrel. I *love* their fragrance.
Little lettuces poking their beautiful green selves out of the ground. Need to thin already. Need to plant potatoes and onion sets soon.



 The strawberry plants are greening up as well.
  
Tiny golden joy!

My lilacs are leaving out. This one has tiny flower buds. So hope they aren't hurt by a late freeze!
 
We are preparing to paint. Makes me tired just thinking about it. But in preparation, we've trimmed loads from the viburnam. You can't even tell.

The rose trellis has been tilted down. Mr. Wonderful was happy with how easily that worked.
 


 My pretties have been taken down, and we've taken out the Japanese burberry. Neither of us liked those prickly bushes. We haven't figured out just what we're going to do with that space. We'll have plenty of time to contemplate as we paint.
 
And we're changing colors!! No more beige-y dullness. We're going with a green, keeping the almond-y trim. I can't wait to see how it turns out.

Peace out and remember.
Kindness Matters.