Monday, June 25, 2018

Weekend away at Cedar Hill State Park

"Take me away with you--let us hurry!" (Song of Songs 1:4)
A couple of weeks ago we took our RV to Cedar Hill State Park for a few days "away"--it is 12 minutes from home according to Google. But it was still a nice little escape. We left on Friday and came back Monday.

Canoeing on Joe Pool Lake Saturday evening was a high light. The wind was up (12 mph) so it was a little rougher than I like. And there were enough fast-moving boats out to make some significant waves for our little light-weight inflatable canoe. But John wasn't worried so I tried to quiet my fears, relax and enjoy it. I'm glad I did. I didn't think Joe Pool Lake could look so pretty. I have some stunning mental images of it. Since we didn't have our camera you'll have to take my word for it.

We put in near the swimming area a while before sunset. Following the shore line to the left to avoid some of the wind we rounded the bend and paddled toward a little cove beyond the main boat launch area. The cove felt like its own little world. Tall reeds on the left caught the glow from the setting sun. On the right side, deepening shadows sheltered the fishermen standing on the shore. Herons skimmed across the water as they headed toward the reeds to take their places near the fishermen to watch and wait for their dinner. To the left of us a large fish jumped almost all the way out of the water catching the orange glow from the sun.

We headed back toward the swimming area before sunset but paddled around in the water to watch the orange trail on the water as the sun finished setting.

One morning I sat outside before it got too hot, hoping to photograph some birds. I could hear them but they must have thought it was already too hot because they stayed hidden in the trees. 

A dragon fly came instead. Bird photography requires patience because birds hardly ever hold still. Photographing dragon flies requires patience because they hardly ever move.

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Then when they do fly away they zip away so fast it's like they disappeared. I discovered that if i stayed focused on the same spot it would sometimes come back to nearly the same place. Landing took a fraction longer so I was able to get this photo just before it landed.

A lizard came and joined the fun

Not all the wild life kept their proper distances that weekend, however. On the first or second night, I don't remember which, I woke to discover dozens of ants in my bed. In the morning we found them streaming into the living and kitchen areas and exploring our food! We smashed them like crazy and emptied our food cupboards. John tried spraying insect repellent on them as it is less noxious in such a small space. It killed them on contact--a useful discovery.  Later he also asked the park rangers for what they recommended to use on the outside to keep them out. It was some sort of white powder. He got some from Walmart. I don't remember the name of it. It was also supposed to kill them on contact but I saw ants walk through it without any noticeable problem. Maybe John didn't sprinkle it thickly enough. But we did slow them down so we didn't have quite so many after that. We also put most of our food in the fridge or freezer. I guess I need to get some some more air tight (or should I say ant tight) containers.

Our last night I woke to hear what sounded like possums having a barn dance on our roof. After one particularly loud ker-THUMP, John went outside to investigate. They got away before he could get up on the roof to see what it was.

On our last day I also saw our first cockroach--EEK! I managed to kill it later. At least I hope it was that one!

Sigh. This isn't heaven yet.

I've never seen Joe Pool lake looking this turquoise before.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Taming the to-do lists

I finally found a to-do list method that might actually work for me. I bought the above journal just over a month ago. Since then I've filled up about 13 pages with to-do items and several more at the back with notes. For the notes, I turned the book over and started writing from the back. That way I won't waste any pages and I don't need to decide ahead of time how many pages to devote to notes. I just will record whatever I need to until the two lists meet-up.

I love the moto on the front too. It's something I want to live up to more.

It's encouraging to see how many things I have gotten done since I started using it.

At first it seemed like having such a nice thing to write my to-do's in was helping me get more done. But now that I'm used to it I am back to my usual tendency to procrastinate a bit.

The hard fact is: recording to-dos in a nice book doesn't mean I get them done any faster! But it does help me to remember them until I do them (as long as I keep looking through the book for the ones that still need doing that is.)

It certainly beats the way I used to make lists on scraps of paper that seemed to go missing almost as soon as I wrote on them. I keep it open next to my place at the table. I do still put a sticky note on my place mat sometimes to remind myself about time critical things like: use up roast beef for lunch.

How do you keep track of your to-do list? Please leave comments below!

Monday, June 4, 2018

Cheese Glorious Cheese!

I hope it's not against the rules to use that quote from the long ago commercial as my title here! But I just can't help myself!

After five long years of being completely dairy free, God has healed me of my dairy intolerance! So now I can have cheese again! I am so thankful.

I am also enjoying having yogurt in my smoothies. I'm surprised that I haven't enjoyed ice-cream as much as I expected, though. I never imagined ice-cream could be an acquired taste! My first latte with 'real' milk was also a disappointment. The milk had a 'game-y' taste. Maybe I'll stick with soy milk in my coffee. Maybe it is because i've had reasonable substitutes for ice-cream and milk these past five years. But the fake cheese was just not the same! It didn't have much food value either. So I am definitely enjoying real cheese again!

To celebrate, here is a recipe I've made a couple of times lately. I started with one I found on-line, but I changed it quite a bit. So I don't know if I can say it is my recipe but it is my version of it anyway. I'll include a link to the other one and you can compare them yourself. Here is mine:

Sharon's Cheesy Italian Spaghetti Squash Casserole

  • 2 chicken Italian sausages from Sprouts - removed from their casings
  • 2 T olive oil or more as desired
  • 1 8 oz can tomato sauce
  • ½ onion – diced
  • ½ cup diced green bell pepper (that is a rough estimate. It was actually 2 hands full. We keep a bag of diced bell pepper in the freezer. So I don't know how much of a pepper that is.)
  • 4 oz. can sliced mushrooms – drained - cut up more
  • Black pepper – fresh ground, to taste
  • About 2 cups pre-cooked spaghetti squash
  • Generous amount of shredded cheese of your choice (I used the fiesta blend from Walmart, which is a mix of: Monterey jack, cheddar, queso quesadilla and asadero cheese)
  • Parmesan cheese

  1. Pour oil in large skillet
  2. Remove sausage from casings and put in skillet with oil. Add onion and bell pepper.
  3. Cook and crumble sausage in skillet with oil, onion and bell pepper until meat is no longer pink. (Start cooking on high heat and turn down a little when it starts to sizzle well.)
  4. When meat is no longer pink, stir in the mushrooms and tomato sauce and black pepper. Cover and simmer on medium-low heat several more minutes until onion and bell pepper are tender.
  5. While sauce is cooking spread cooked spaghetti squash strands in the bottom of an ungreased 8” square glass baking dish or similar sized pan. Spread the meat sauce over the squash. Cover it generously with fiesta cheese blend to cover top and sprinkle with a little Parmesan cheese as desired.
  6. Bake at 375°f for about 30 minutes until bubbling and cheese is browning on top

•    Serves 4
•    It is naturally gluten free 
•    Nice with fried potatoes on the side and a green veg or just the potatoes (or baked tater tots.) —after all the spaghetti squash is a veg 😊.
•    This reheated nicely in the oven. I put it in, uncovered, for the last 6 minutes while the tater tots baked at 450°f. The cheese got crisp on top again. It was yummy.

I forgot to take pictures until we had eaten half of it!

Here is the link I promised to the other Italian Spaghetti Squash recipe: