Photo Dump

I down loaded pictures from my old camera that I took with me over the weekend.  When I got to my Mom’s house last Thursday night, we both realized that I am her first overnight guest! 

The day after she slept over at our house the week before, she left this note for us:

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While I had blueberry muffins for her, she had the guest room set up for me!

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When we were driving back on Sunday we realized we would have time to stop at St. Joe’s for lunch.  I wish I could have planned better to meet up with one of my favorite bloggers, Nicole of Prevention RD!  She and her hubs just moved there.  She’s from my old home town, so we keep telling each other one of these days we’ll meet!

They had pirates of all kinds in the downtown area.  Not sure why?

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The beach area was beautiful!!

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We stopped to buy some wine at a vineyard shop, and asked for a recommendation for lunch.  He suggested a pizza place, but after a walk and 30 steps down, we discovered that there would have been over an hour wait.  We decided to eat at the restaurant right near where our car was parked.

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All three of us started drooling over one of the small plates:

Panko breaded tiger shrimp with sweet chili sauce.

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Six came to an order and these were outstanding.  So light, the shrimp was slightly sweet.  So good.  While I had a burger on my brain, I saw something else that I thought would be just a tiny bit better food choice for me – the seared ahi tuna salad.

Pan seared ahi tuna with fresh ginger-cucumber salad, toasted sesame drizzle and wasabi aioli.

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It was delicious – I even got my Mom to try a bit of it.  (It’s okay that I refused to try her perch and walleye though!)

When I got home Sunday night Tony had chopped up some potatoes and carrots and fresh garlic, tossed it with olive oil and salt and pepper and wrapped it in foil for the grill.  We learned a long time ago to always cut out the back of the chicken so that it’s cooked through.  Can’t tell you how many times we’ve made chicken only to cut into it and its still raw at the joints – gross.

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I cooked it in a cast iron skillet so the fat wouldn’t make the flames jump.  This 3.5 pound bird took 1 hour and 15 minutes at about 350.

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I am sure this beat the frozen pizza Tony ate while I was gone!  These potatoes were out of this world – like buttah!

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Okay, now onto Monday!   I was slow going yesterday morning.  Lately our dog, no matter how cool it is in our house, pants loudly.  He could be fast asleep and then all of a sudden he pants and doesn’t stop.  I had already taken him on a walk before we went to bed.  I ended up sleeping on the living room couch, he followed me in and I put the fan on high and then he was a happy camper. Open-mouthed smile

My first thought about what to fix for breakfast was “just pick up a breakfast burrito at McDonald’s.”  I looked at the clock, I had a good five minutes before I had to leave and quickly cooked up 2 eggs and 1 Jimmy dean breakfast sausage.  When I got to work, I made a burrito with some cheese and a flour tortilla I brought.  As luck would have it, someone from my office brought in fresh fruit – score!

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With all the walking we did over the weekend, I had no trouble getting any motivation hitting the gym.  I knew I wanted to swim!  The part of my mole they scraped off has scabbed over (hope you are eating breakfast as you read that sentence!) and I could get back to the pool.   And as luck would have it, I was the lone swimmer in the indoor pool.  Just me and my lifeguard.  It’s kind of intimidating having just one person look at you while you swim – and I am not a good swimmer either, so that’s equally embarrassing!

But I muddled through and did 40 minutes of a combined breast stroke and back stroke.  I was huffing and puffing at the end!

For lunch I grabbed a container of broccoli cheddar soup.  But I knew that wouldn’t be enough and I had no other meats or veggies to add.  So I found some leftover pasta from last week, and made a sort of broccoli cheddar cheese mac soup.  This ended up being really tasty!

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I still haven’t done a full grocery shop yet, but I knew I had frozen ground beef to make tacos.  A quick stop at my local Mexican restaurant on my way home from work, and for $5 I had accessories to our dinner.

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Tortilla chips, refried beans, Mexican rice and salsa.  We ended up having 1/3 of each of those containers, and I’ll use the rest for leftovers later in the week.  My plate:

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And guess what?  I have today off from work!  I am meeting Hannah at her college today – its new student orientation.  But for me to make it there by 8:30 in the morning, I need to take the 6:58 train from my house – an express train gets me to Chicago in 60 minutes!

They are having a welcome breakfast, meetings/orientation, a lunch and meetings with your advisors.  I am really looking forward to checking out her new school.  Seriously, if she could start tomorrow she would be so happy!

Have a great day, and if you made it down this far, thanks for reading! 

Question of the Day:  Where did you go to college?

Three Generations of Feet

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My feet are blue, Hannah’s are purple and Nana’s are orange.  And these three feet had a wonderful weekend in Michigan!  When Nana asked us to go away for the weekend it seemed so far away and it kind of snuck up on us.

How bad can your weekend be when this is your back yard?

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Once we got settled into the house, it was time for lunch.  Thanks to blog readers Esther and April who suggested Clementine’s.  Long time readers will know that Tony and I dislike onions.  A lot. The only onions we will ever eat are in the form of an onion ring.  But even then, we are super picky.  There has to be more batter to onion ratio, and the onions have to be really skinny.

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They offer a 6 inch and 12 inch spike of onion rings.  Since we were going to order lunch too, we went with the 6 inch.

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Yep, that is the short stack!  When Tony saw this picture that I posted on facebook, even he was shocked that I ate these.  But they were perfect – the batter stayed with the onion the whole time – I hate when you bite into an onion ring and then the whole thing comes out at once.  So good!

And I figured, what the hell, I am on vacation, I’ll get the Reuben!

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Holy cow was this good – the corned beef was so tender, the thousand island dressing was served on the side so the bread stayed nice and crisp.  I ate half.  My mom ordered the walleye which came with a baked potato.  The next morning I made a hash out of the remaining corned beef and her potato. Open-mouthed smile

I think we averaged about 4-5 hours of walking each day.  So many shops!

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On Saturday we went to the beach.  The water temperature was the same as the air temperature – 75!

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The beach was super clean and the water was really clear too.  Although, I don’t like to go into bodies of water much past my knees.  I got pulled into a rip tide in Nags Head, NC when I was 16 and got dragged 100 yards down shore – my actual lack of swimming skills probably saved my life because I just went with it.

We loved watching all the ships go in and out of the marina.  We decided next time we go up we will take a boat ride. Open-mouthed smile

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Our house we stayed at had a lovely patio.  Friday night we ate such a big and late lunch, that we ended up only having cheese and crackers (and wine!) for dinner.  The house also didn’t have any t.v., only a DVR.  Friday night we watched a movie and then we played Banana Grams – so fun!

The day we got to the house though, they got a DSL line in, so Hannah could use her iPad and stay in touch with the world.  My mom even checked her email – it was funny watching her use the iPad – she couldn’t get used to touching the screen.

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And you can’t have a weekend away without ice cream!  That was Hannah’s, but I got a kid scoop of no sugar added butter pecan – so good.

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We went to both South Haven, Saugatuck, and St. Joe’s and each place had a Christmas store.  I thought this ornament was a bit strange – it was “Diver Dan”

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And no trip to Michigan would be complete without blueberries!  This box cost $12.50 for 5 pounds.  This is just over half because I gave some to Hannah too.

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So leave me your favorite links to blueberry recipes!  I know I’ll be making some muffins later this week. Open-mouthed smile

I only down loaded pictures from my good camera, I am sure I’ll post some more from my phone and other camera later this week.

It was relaxing and busy all at the same time.  I think we did everything we wanted to, although Sunday came all too soon.  But to have this opportunity to spend so much time with my Mom and daughter?  Priceless!

I missed Tony though, so I was happy to hang out with him last night and watch some of the Olympics.  It was weird to be so out of the loop for so long!

What was the highlight of your weekend?

Back to the grind . . .I haven’t been to the store yet so it will be interesting to see what I can put together for breakfast and lunch.  Make it a great day!

I am Abnornmal, but I’ll be Okay!

Hey guys – just a quick post today.  I got a call yesterday from the dermatologist regarding my biopsy.  While the biopsy came back with “abnormalities” I don’t have skin cancer!  Since they aren’t exactly sure what it is, they suggest I see a plastic surgeon to remove the rest of it.  This was how it was described to me:

Sometime lesions can be atypical or unusual without being a skin cancer. Kathi recommend it be removed before it may turn into anything bad. I can sent you your pathology results but you would need to fill out a medical records request. You can either go online, fill out the form and fax it to us and we will either mail or fax your results to you. You can also come back to the office, fill out the form and we can give you your path at that time. That way you can bring the pathology with you to the plastic surgeon.

So in the next few weeks I’ll make an appointment to get the rest of my “spot” removed.  Winning!

I got to my Momma’s house last night.  We went to the grocery store to get some staples for the weekend.  You know, because everyone needs English muffins, cheese and crackers, bacon and wine when they go away for the weekend!

My mantra this weekend?

CELEBRATE LIFE!

Have a great weekend!

9:14 Mile Pace!

Wow, thanks for all your well wishes comments and emails yesterday about the biopsy of my “spot” as I am going to call it.  I am sure it will be fine, but if nothing else, hopefully my experience persuaded a few of you to get some suspicious spots of your own checked out. Open-mouthed smile

On the way to work I picked up my prescription shampoos for the psoriasis of the scalp.  One is a shampoo I use three times a week.  The other is a topical steroid oil that I use every other night, but can’t use it more than 2 weeks in a row.  Oh, and I can’t use it on my face, groin, or body folds.  Not kidding, that’s what it said on the instructions!  So with my $40 dollar co-pay and the shampoo – I spent $86.64 to get rid of an itchy scalp!

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It reminded me that I think I’ve had psoriasis probably most of my life.  I remember being a freshman in high school.  My grandma lived with us and she was kind of on the nutty side.  She used to love playing scrabble and Monopoly, but the games would go on forever because it would take her forever to make a decision.  The worst?  When she would spend 20 minutes playing a word on Scrabble and come up with CAT.  Really?

Anywho, I remember having scalp problems back then, and her remedy for everything was vitamin E.  One night she decided she was going to help me.  We sat and cut pill after pill of vitamin E and poured the oily contents into a bowl.  She then proceeded to spread this oil all over my scalp.

In 5th grade, my twin sister and I, at 5 feet 2 inches, were the tallest kids in class.  Um, turns out by high school everyone caught up with us.  I just remember walking down the hallway with this greasy mop of hair and kids looking at it like “WTF is with her hair?”   Why I listened to my grandma, I’ll never know! 

She’s the same crazy grandma that made me wear a “Jesus First” pin for one of my school pictures!  Hopefully this oily stuff won’t do the same damage it did back in the day. Open-mouthed smile

It’s Wednesday, so it was bagel Wednesday!  I did have a microwaved egg in the middle but you can’t see it.  Loves me some jalapenos first thing in the morning!

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I was set for my workout, and taking Lori’s suggestion, I lifted weights!  I did 25 minutes of lower body.  Then I decided to see how fast I could run just one mile.  It’s always mind over matter with me and running.  My feet and body tell me I can go faster, but my mind says “slow the hell down!”

But I told myself – it’s one mile!  Guess what pace I did – 6.5 mph which equates to a 9:14 mile!

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It was hard, but I did it.  Now I just need to build up my stamina to go faster and longer. Turtle

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All while sporting my Band-Aid on my face! Open-mouthed smile  I ended up running/walking another mile for 2 miles total.

I was really hungry by the time I got back to work.  Copycat Panera broccoli cheddar soup!  I prefer a smooth soup, but you could leave it chunky if you want.  You can find my recipe here.  On the side I had a cheezy Arnold thin for dipping.

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While delicious, after my workout by the time I got home I was hungry!  I defrosted some chicken breasts.  I am not sure where I saw this recently, so if it was on your blog, please let me know.  I now pound my meat in a ziploc bag – not only does it prevent germs getting on my counter, but my meat mallet stays clean.

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This was half of one chicken breast – they were huge!  Just dipped in egg whites, then seasoned bread crumbs and a couple tablespoons of Parmesan cheese.  Pan fried in 1 teaspoon olive oil, 1 tablespoon butter and lots of Pam.

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I cooked up some pasta on the side – Tony prefers not to have red sauce, I love it. Open-mouthed smile

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I ate all but about 3 pieces of the chicken – perfectly cooked, and I love the added zip of the crushed red pepper to my plate.

Oh, and here’s a really shitty picture I took of dinner, which is about what 75% of my pictures look like after I down load them.  One of these days I’ll take a photography class. Open-mouthed smile

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So this will be my last post until Monday!  My Mom, Hannah and I are going for a girls weekend in South Haven, Michigan and I have tomorrow off.  I’ve already found thrift stores, and farmers markets that I want to check out.  But if you know of any good restaurants in the area, could you let me know in the comments section?  I’ve never been to this area of Michigan before.

The house belongs to one of my Mom’s friends and she’s letting us use it for the weekend – it has a grill so I am happy about that – and it has a nearby lake – I will definitely be floating, of course while wearing a hat and 50 spf sunscreen!

Hope you have a wonderful weekend and I’ll recap on Monday.  Make it a great day!

Biopsy?

When I walked into the dermatologists office yesterday morning, I would have thought I walked into a Beverly Hills spa like you see on t.v.  I wish I would have had the balls to take a picture, but the waiting room was chandeliers, leather furniture, and the staff all had monogrammed shirts with their names on them and all of them sported Rolex watches.  Not kidding.

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Since this office doesn’t have any paper files (all electronic!) I had already filled out my medical history over the phone, so once I paid my co-pay of $40, they called my name.

The tech asked me why I was there and I literally said “my Mom was concerned about a spot on my face.”  She took a look at it.  You can see it in the picture below – its just to the right of my nose in that picture.  This was taken in May, and the spot was almost twice that size yesterday.

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Long time readers have seen me get burnt – bad.  Remember Hannah’s high school graduation in 2010?

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I’ve been severely burnt in my teens and early 20’s.  It hasn’t been until the above incident that I now put an spf 50 lotion on when I get out of the shower, and I try to wear a baseball hat if I know I am going to be outside for any length of time.

The physicians assistant came in.  She starts to look at my face when she asks “does your head itch?”  Um, yes, sometimes.  I just thought I had a dry scalp or dandruff.  Nope – I have psoriasis of the scalp!  I’ve used Tea Tree shampoo for years, but she said only prescription shampoo will get rid of it.  Good to know! Open-mouthed smile

Then she looks at the “spot” and decides that she wants to shave off the top layer to biopsy.  It could be pre-skin cancer.  I’ll know in a week.  They actually numbed my cheek with lidocane (sp?) and I could feel the liquid underneath my eye and next to my nose – gross.

It didn’t hurt at all – the tech handed me some gauze and when I asked her what it was for she said “some faces bleed a lot.”  What?  But all I needed was a band aid.

I went to work and sported a lovely band aid on my face for the rest of the day – sexy!  I am sure it will be fine, but to be on the safe side, when I go back in a month for my scalp, I plan on having a full body scan. Open-mouthed smile

In my haste to get out the door, I realized I never packed a breakfast – so Subway it was.  This is their steak and cheese egg muffin – it says its 180 calories and when I say “steak” I use that word loosely – it was kind of like loose meat.

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So they gave me this after I left the doctors office:

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One of the rules: no exercise for 24 hours and no swimming until the wound is healed.  So I took this as a rest day.

More chili mac leftovers for lunch, except this time I added some water to thin it out and added Tabasco sauce to it – doesn’t look pretty but it was yummy!

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Since Tony did the grocery shopping for our dinner with his family Saturday night, I didn’t want to have him do a whole weeks worth of grocery shopping on top of that.  Plus I knew this would force me to use up some of the food we already have in the house, so I vowed no extra grocery shopping this week.

I defrosted some pork chops.  I had mashed potatoes on the side and grilled me up some broccoli.  I needed something to tie it all together so I made a lemon pepper gravy – so good!

Lemon Pepper Gravy

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups (1 can) chicken broth
  • juice of 1/4 of a lemon
  • lemon zest
  • cracked pepper to taste

Melt butter in sauce pan.  Add flour and stir and cook for 1 minute.  Slowly add in the can of chicken broth.  Stir until thick, about 5-7 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice, zest and cracked pepper.

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I took one picture inside and one outside, couldn’t decide which one to post, so you get them both, you’re welcome!

This was super yummy and really quick – perfect for a week night dinner.

So no swimming for a few days, but I am hitting the gym today – maybe even lift some weights?  Crazy!

I have my homemade Panera broccoli soup for lunch today – yum!  What are you having for lunch today?  Make it a great day!

It’s Raining and 70!

I can’t tell you how happy I am to see some rain – our grass is so dead and crunchy, that we haven’t even mowed it for probably six weeks.  When I left work at 5:00 last night?

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My friend and blog reader M.J. was complaining about temps in the low 60’s in her neck of the woods – I told her I would gladly trade places with her (and someday visit!).

I am back to my breakfast parfaits!  This one was fresh pineapple and blueberries. 

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So I was happy to be able to go to the gym and beat the heat at lunch.  My plan was to swim outside, but apparently there had been an “accident” and the outdoor pool was being closed for cleaning, and there were swim lessons going on in the indoor pool.  Plan B – run!

Not gonna lie, this run was tough.  I kept wanting to stop, which I did a few times, but walked no longer than 2 minutes.  It just amazes me how my stamina ground to a halt the few weeks I skipped working out.

But I did a 5k – in 41:01.  Not going to break any world records any time soon, but I will get there – I am loving how I feel after working out. Open-mouthed smile

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They have a restaurant/café in the gym on the lower level.  My boss wanted me to pick her up a sandwich.  While waiting I turned around to see this:

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I have never seen a beer cooler in a gym before, but then I have to remember it’s a tennis club – there was a wine cooler next to it. Open-mouthed smile

Lunch was chili mac, although I am not sure I’ll use these noodles again – they kind of sucked up all the liquid – but it was tasty.  I used this recipe.

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Saturday night when we had Tony’s family over, I was cooking up a storm but I was also sweating up a storm – literally sweat was beading down my back.  I looked at the thermostat and it was 83 degrees in the house.  I quickly put the temp down to 72 to quickly cool it off, but it never got below 80 degrees – my poor nephews girl friend was sweating balls too. Sad smile

Luckily Sunday wasn’t too hot, so we were able to get some nice circulation going, but yesterday was so hot – we got a guy to come look at our condenser (that we just paid $120 last week to fix) and found out that some coupling was broken – so $215 later, I don’t have boob sweat anymore – yeah!

So it was a quick dinner I put together after the AC guy left – can’t go wrong with burgers!  I love these pickles – I normally don’t like sweet pickles, but these have sweet and heat = win.

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I also found these buns, which are nice and soft and only 170 calories each:

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My plate:

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But guess what?  After eating half of the burger, I was stuffed, so the dog got the other half – mustardy bun and all – except I ate all the pickles, I am not stupid. Open-mouthed smile

I did have a few snack crackers later on in the night, but portioned out, so its all good.

Alright I have to scoot – when my Mom was over last week she noticed a mole on my face and was like “when did you get that?”  I said about six months ago, and she said that I should probably get it checked out at a dermatologist office – never been to one of those! 

But after reading about Heather’s trip to the dermatologist last year, its better to be safe than sorry.

Make it a great day!

No Fail Potato Gratin

How the hell did it get to be Monday already??  I had a bizzy weekend, and a relaxing one too – best of both worlds!

Tony and I went out to eat Friday night at Wool Street.  Except they didn’t have Rolling Rock on tap – boo. Sad smile  They have awesome burgers and pulled pork sandwiches, but I felt like tacos.  I ordered the shrimp tacos, but sadly forgot to ask if they were breaded, and they were.

I also said “make sure that no onions even come within five feet of my plate – thanks!”  The mango salsa that was slathered over the top?  Chock full of the nasty red onions.  Note to self, don’t order tacos in a place known for burgers and pork!

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The weather was perfect Friday night – around 70 degrees, a light breeze.  Tony and I sat outside and talked and listened to music for a couple hours – nice. Open-mouthed smile

Then Saturday it was unpack my Mom day!  The movers were delivering all her stuff and when I got there around 10:45, the movers were just finishing up – perfect timing.  I love her house – my pictures didn’t turn out so I’ll have to take more the next time I visit her.  It’s a ranch, with a huge basement.

Everything is new, the appliances, paint, floors, etc. – move in condition.  While unpacking some stuff I came across a box that said “hall closet.”  Inside were dolls that my sister and I used to play with . . . 40 years ago!  My Mom made all our doll clothes, these outfits had matching hats.

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They are actually in pretty good shape considering how old they are – I think my sisters daughter Claire is the last one to play with them. 

I got to see Hannah on Saturday so I got to give her lots of hugs and kisses! Red heart  I miss her!

I stayed about 4 hours, then had to high tale it back home – my SIL, her grandson, my nephew and his girl friend came over for dinner.  My nephew and his girl friend are moving to Tennessee in a week and a half, and Saturday night was the last night that we would see them for a while.

Tony, being the wonderful husband that he is, did the grocery shopping for me.  Okay, now I write a grocery list by recipe – so if I am making burgers I’ll have:

  • hamburger meat
  • hamburger buns
  • American cheese

Then if the next recipe is gnocchi gratin, I’d add:

  • gnocchi
  • bacon
  • milk

Tony literally shopped right down my list, so he would go to the meat section to get the burger meat, then to the bread section, then got American cheese, only to back track back to the meat department to get the bacon and then back to dairy to get the milk.  He said he went back and forth across the store 11 times!  Sorry sweets, but you were a big help!

Not only did I have just 2 hours to prepare dinner, which was marinated pork loin with two side dishes, I also put together five dishes for my SIL for the week.  It was like I was on Dinner Impossible!   And speaking of that show, have you seen Chef Robert Irvine’s body – how the hell does a chef have a body like that?  Oh, I guess you have to actually walk into a gym to get a body like that! Open-mouthed smile

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But I got it all done.  I think my favorite dish of the night was a gnocchi & bacon gratin.  I’ve talked about it before, but scalloped potatoes are like my worst enemy. No matter how long I cook them, the potatoes are still crunchy.  The only way I can make a good one is to microwave the casserole, but it always spills over and it is such a pain to clean up.

No more – say hello to my little friend – gnocchi!  Gnocchi is made of potatoes, so there was no way I could screw this up!  I adapted it from this blog, but left off the buttered crumb topping – Tony said he didn’t think it needed it – I think next time I’ll add it for a bit more texture, but this was delicious.

Gnocchi and Bacon Gratin

  • 3 slices of bacon (I used smoked applewood)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1.5 cups skim milk
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 16 ounce package of gnocchi
  • 1 cup shredded gruyere cheese
  • 2 cups broccoli, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

Bring a pot of water to boil.  Cook gnocchi for 2 minutes, then drain with cold water to stop the cooking process.  While water is coming to a boil, cook the bacon until crisp and cool and chop.

Melt the butter in the pot.  Add the minced garlic and cook for 1 minute.  Add flour and stir to make a paste.  Slowly add the milk, stirring constantly to make a thick sauce.  Remove from the heat and add salt, pepper, Italian seasoning and cheese.

Then in a big bowl I added the cooked gnocchi, the broccoli and then dumped the cheese sauce over top and mixed really well.  Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes.

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No crunchy potatoes this time!  I’ve never really thought of using gnocchi any other way then just cooking it and putting red sauce on top with some Parmesan cheese.  Do you use gnocchi in a different way?

I somehow over cooked the pork, even though I took it off the grill at 150 and let it rest – oh well, it was tasty, but just a tad on the dry side.

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So yesterday?  Totally relaxing.  I didn’t wake up until 9:00.  I made an unphotographed breakfast panini for breakfast while drinking iced coffee and read the newspaper.  I kinda dozed off here and there for about 30 minutes.  Then finally took a shower around 1:00. 

Tony asked what I wanted to do for lunch and I said “I don’t care!”  So we went to a buffet in Hoffman Estates. 

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For $22 dollars for lunch, I was a bit nervous because the reviews on Yelp were either “Loved it!” or “the food tastes like ass.”  Nothing really in between.

Wow – so much food, so little time.  I started with the build your own stir fry, which was really, really good.

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Lots of veggies!  You just hand the cook your plate with the sauce on the side and he grills it on this flat top grill – super hot.

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They also had tons and tons of seafood – I think next we go – I’ll concentrate on the build your own stir fry and the seafood.

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They also served raw sushi, so Tony well got his $$ worth!  And I tried red bean ice cream for the first time – tasted like vanilla ice cream to me!

I did a clean sweep of my closet and laundry – not only is all of our laundry done, but folded and put away.  I have all my outfits laid out and my gym clothes for the week.  I am so excited to go to the gym – my exercise mojo is back with a vengeance!  I remembered to pack sun screen, so I will try to swim outside today if it isn’t too hot.

What was the highlight of your weekend?  Make it a great day!