I Vant to Suck Your… Electricity!

Today I stumbled upon a very interesting site which takes the numbers of our society and puts them into graphs and such. I was amazed to find that you can spend $160 a year just plugging in a plasma TV. Ouch!

Vampire Energy

There’s a lot of good stuff on that site, too. I have to be careful not to spend too much time surfing around there… fascinating! … Bah! Another 15 minutes gone when I went back to close the original window and got distracted by some links. 🙂

Daytona Trip

Today we went over to New Smyrna Beach to visit Trav’s grandparents. We had a very fun day! We arrived around 11am and ate snacks. Then we went to the beach, because we wanted to see the shuttle take off (it was canceled, though). After spending a couple of hours collecting shells, we went back to their house for a delicious dinner of roast, mashed potatoes and all the fixins. Here are a couple of pictures – the second one being a Portuguese Man o’ War that washed up on the beach!

Daytona Trip

 

Man o’ War

Eating Well is Expensive

The cost of food is a frequent topic in our house. It’s our biggest single expense – we spend even more on it than our house payment. Geesh! But we try to eat well, preparing almost all of our meals from scratch, with very little processed food. Today I found an article which cites a recent study that found it’s a lot more expensive to eat a healthy diet:

New York Times: The High Price of Healthy Food

We often wonder how it is that processed, crappy food can be so much cheaper. They had to do a lot to the ingredients to make it, so how can it cost so little? It doesn’t make sense. Is it government subsidies at work? If so, why aren’t we subsidizing the small farmers who bring us fresh produce? Our food system is terribly backwards… I wonder how we can fix it. I suppose it’s up to consumers, but can people afford to vote with their wallets, without going hungry?

Updated Holiday Page

Thanks to Jeannie, I updated my Christmas wish list, so if you’re looking for that “perfect gift”, you can find it there. Maybe next year there won’t be any “stuff’ on the list… only things that would be very personal and meaningful… hmm!

Mama’s Tuscan Spinach Rice Soup

We tried out this new soup recipe on Sunday. We’ll keep it, but it’s not so delicious that it will be added to the regular rotation. It’s one of those “it’s good once in a while” recipes. I thought it tasted like something out of a can, but Bleys said it was much better after adding salt, pepper and a little garlic. We’ll try spicing it up a little more next time. I wish when a recipe says “pepper to taste” they would give some kind of starting point… are we talking a teaspoon, tablespoon, or … ? I’m never quite sure.

I like to make new dishes strictly by the recipe for the first time, so we can tell if it’s good as is, has potential, or just isn’t good. It drives me insane on AllRecipes, when people do a review and they say something like, “I substituted this, and added that, and did this differently, and I didn’t like this recipe.” Well DUH!! If you followed the recipe maybe it would have turned out better.

With this recipe, I was wondering about how the rice was going to affect the soup part. On the rice package, it calls for 1 cup of rice and 3 cups of broth. The soup recipe had 3/4 cup of rice and 6 cups of broth, so I was wondering if the rice was going to suck up half of the broth… and it did! Maybe risotto rice and arborio rice are two different things? I used risotto rice. The next day, there was no broth left, it was just chunky veggies and fat rice. Still tasted good, though.

So I’m now looking for the next great adventure food. Any suggestions? 🙂

“The beaten path is the safest, but the traffic’s terrible.”

This quote from Jeff Taylor (founder of monster.com) really hit the spot for me. I’ve always liked to go my own way – much to the chagrin of my parents and probably countless other people around me. But it has served me well in my life as an entrepreneur (we’ve been in business for ourselves since 1994). I’m always looking for ways to improve, too, and this article from Dumb Little Man has some great advice:

39 Ways to Live, and Not Merely Exist

I already do a lot of the things on the list, like trying new things, getting away from the TV (a recent habit) and slowing down. There are more things I want to do, like exercising regularly (outside of our daily morning walk) and volunteering (I would really like to help the homeless). I try to add small improvements to life as I go, so I feel confident I’ll get around to doing these things sometime in the near future. How about you? What ways do you like to live and not just exist?

Weekly Menu

I’ve decided to post our weekly menus online so all in the house have easy access. Someday we’ll set up an RSS feed so Trav can display it on his site, too. For now, it’ll just be a regular ol’ post. Here’s a list of our meal choices for the coming week:

  • Salad (romaine lettuce, 2 kinds of cabbage, bok choy, radishes, carrots, parsley, green onions and that red & white stuff that’s kind of a cross between cabbage and lettuce… what is that?)
  • Chicken Marsala (Ate this tonight, with Panera sourdough baguette and perogies)
  • Buffalo Chicken Wing Soup
  • Beef Enchiladas
  • Sausage, Noodles, Onion & Tomatoes (SNOT)
  • Sassy Sausage and Black Bean Soup
  • Mama’s Tuscan Spinach Rice Soup (experimental)

I’ll let you know how the Tuscan soup turns out… I can’t wait to try it!

The Best Government Money Can Buy

The state of our government is appalling… we’re basically being run by corporations, special interests and people who are so rich they’re out of touch with most of us. It’s sad that we’ll elect our next president based on who can raise the most money. Here’s a site where you can look up election contributions:

Fundrace

I looked up our zip code and only two people came up… one democrat and one republican. In my parent’s zip code, there are lots more, but still evenly divided between the two parties. You can search by name, too… and by profession and all kinds of ways. Very interesting!

Thanksgiving Day

Being prepared in advance is kind of strange!! I feel like I should be busy, running around the kitchen preparing large quantities of food. But here I am, sitting at the computer, feeding rice to hungry people and then pacing around the kitchen, noshing on pumpkin seeds and hazelnuts while we wait for everyone to arrive. We’re going to eat around 3:00.

The turkey is coming along nicely. The stuffing turned out really good – I think it’s going to be almost worthy of my Dad’s. 🙂

In one of my newsletters, I got a link to a very cool site… Grocery Guide. It allows you to check out the specials at your local stores, and to compare deals. It’s still in beta so it may not have all the stores in your area, but it looks pretty cool!

Time to go baste the turkey.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy turkey day, everybody! We’re having everyone come over here tomorrow, for a total of eight people. On the menu:

  • Turkey (17 lb)
  • Stuffing (Homemade, like the delicious stuffing my Dad makes)
  • Corn
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Butternut squash
  • Cranberry chutney
  • Cranberry sauce
  • Homemade eggnog (one batch with rum, one without)
  • Pumpkin pie
  • Apple tart
  • Layered Jell-o thingy

All but the desserts are being made here. The cranberry chutney and sauce we made ourselves… yummy! It’s really hard to find holiday food without forbidden ingredients (high fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated oils) so we’re making pretty much everything from scratch. I did end up buying some white bread for the stuffing that has HFCS in it… we stood there and looked at every stinking brand of white bread and could not find one without it. So we picked the best of the worst – at least it’s made with white wheat. I didn’t want to make bread because I didn’t think I could get the right texture – I want it to be as close to Dad’s stuffing as I can get!

So take care everybody, and enjoy the holiday. Talk to you soon!

Hurricane Protection

Here in Florida, we have to worry about getting blown away by a hurricane, though we haven’t had to worry too much since we’ve been here. Today I found something that could help reduce damage – I contacted them to see how much it costs to get a hurricane protection system for our windows:

Hurricane Fabric from Naples Windows

This looks like a good thing to do… I sent to them for a ballpark estimate so I can figure how much we need to save up. I have no idea if it will be $1000, $5000, or $10000! We have 14 windows and a sliding glass door on our house. Any guesses on the cost?

Complimentary Starchy Grain!

Bleys found a great site – freerice.com – where they donate grains of rice for every vocabulary word where you can choose the correct meaning. It’s great fun! Hard, too. The most recent word I tried was ameliorate – I’ve seen the word but got it wrong…. ameliorate = improve. I’ve made it (briefly) to level 44 so far.

This made me think of being a kid and calling myself Emilia Bloka, when I was learning Spanish. 🙂 Which makes me remember getting a Spanish dictionary for Christmas! I believe my parents have a film of me showing off my spiffy new dictionary. I love those films!!

Drivers Test

I was reading a story on CNN about how 36 million drivers would fail a written driving test, which doesn’t surprise me even a little bit. I think drivers in Florida are some of the worst around… people just love to tailgate and drive aggressively. Here’s a link to the test:

GMAC Insurance National Drivers Test

I got 100%, woo hoo! I think I’m a pretty good driver… I do try to follow the rules of the road and not be a hazard to someone else. I wonder how Trav would do on this test? He’s the best driver I know – he can avoid a crash like nobody’s business. I feel very safe with him at the wheel. Test results welcome in the comments!!

Surprise!!

I was laying in bed this morning, petting the cats and planning my day, when I thought I heard Aunt Susie’s truck. I jumped out of bed and peeked out the through the shades, and WOW!!!! There they were. Trav drove straight through from Michigan! 23 hours!!! I threw on my robe and ran through the house shouting, “They’re here! They’re here!” And so we all went out to greet them. What a wonderful surprise, I’m so glad they made it safely. They were really happy to arrive. And it’s wonderful to have Trav home. Yay!! I barely had enough time to miss him. 🙂

Day Two

Hopefully Trav is well on his way out of Michigan by now! I keep wondering where he is right now… and now, where is he? Now? Now? He never seems to be very far from my mind.

We’ve been following our normal routine… walk this morning (saw the front chickens – 3 babies, still – and the crane family). Dinner tonight will be Italian Chicken Soup with sourdough baguette from Panera, mmmm! Same old, same old, which is not so bad.  We do have to drag in all the potted plants because it’s going to freeze tonight. Then it’ll be back up in the 80s next week. Nice!

I feel compelled to write about the everyday stuff while Trav isn’t here to share it. Hopefully this is not too boring for you, dear reader.

Waiting

Trav flew up to Michigan to drive his Gramma & Aunt Susie back down here, so Bleys & I are on our own for the next few days. Poor Trav will probably be seeing snow while he’s there!! Ugh. On Friday it’s supposed to get down into the low 30s here. Brrrrr.

It’ll be great to have Gramma & Aunt Susie here, though. I love going to do stuff with Aunt Susie, and to visit with Gramma. Their dog, Taffy, is a lot of fun, too. She’s a little Pomeranian and she just loves to play, play, play. Earlier this year, Aunt Susie and I bought passes to Homosassa State Wildlife park, so I’m sure we’ll be going there on a regular basis, to visit the manatees. Whee!!

Hopefully the next few days will pass quickly so I can have my honey home with me again! Miss you, dear. |*

How to Tell the Sex of a Fly

A woman walked into the kitchen to find her husband stalking around with a fly swatter.

“What are you doing?” she asked.

“Hunting flies,” he responded.

“Oh. ! Killing any?” she asked.

“Yep, 3 males, 2 Females,” he replied.

Intrigued, she asked, “How can you tell them apart?”

He responded,
“3 were on a beer can,
2 were on the phone.”

—–
Thanks to John for that one!!  🙂

Sea World

Our friend Wendy is in Orlando for a conference, and she invited us to go to Sea World. Today was the day! We had a great time. The first thing we did was get something to eat at Sharks Underwater Grill. It was really neat because the entire wall of the restaurant was a huge tank with sharks in it!

Sharks

We also saw two shows – Shamu (the orca show) and an animal show with Jack Hanna. Overall, a very fun day. And because we bought our tickets through AAA, we can go back within 13 days for free, so we plan on making the trip next week. Next time we’ll ride the roller coasters and take in some more shows. Thanks, Wendy!!

Shamu