Saturday, March 31, 2018

Sunday Eats on Saturday

Hi - It's Abby the Labrador here.  Since  my Mom will be busy on Easter as we will have someone from church with no family in the area join us,  here's this weeks "Sunday Eats" recipe.  I am saddened to tell you I did not get one as it has garlic in it and Mom said garlic can make doggies very, very sick and it's dangerous for me to eat.  So I got a little piece of th bacon and a slice of apple with the seeds all removed with a smear of peanut butter on it. Yum!

So I can't say how these tasted but all of the muffins on the plates were gone before anyone even touched the yummy braised pork with apples.

Bacon Basil Pesto Muffins. They're NOT low fat but they're made with healthy extra virgin olive oil and have NO sugar.  They're savory instead of sweet, Mom says, and pair well with meats or Italian dishes. Mom has also made these with King Arthur Gluten Free flour plus 1/2 teaspoon plus a pinch of Xanthan Gum for her friend with Celiac and they were a hit.

Preheat Oven to 350 F.

Cook 6 large strips of bacon , chop and set aside (or use "veggie" bacon, thawed and chopped for our friends who are vegetarian).

Spray a 12 muffin pan with non-stick spray

In one large bowl mix:

2 and  1/2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
click to enlarge picture - I double-dog dare ya

In small bowl whisk:

2 large eggs,
3/4 cup milk (not skim)
1/2 cup plus 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

In a third, medium sized bowl, combine:
1/2 cup MINUS 1 teaspoon jarred Basil Pesto with garlic
1/3 cup sun dried tomatoes packed in oil, drained and chopped
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan (not the green can kind, grate it fresh from a block - it's SOOO much better)
2 generous teaspoons minced garlic
tiny pinch of red pepper
the bacon

Make a "well" in the middle of the dry ingredients and add the wet ingredients.  Stir until moistened but not so much that it gets smooth (that makes a tough muffin).

Fold in contents of the pesto bowl ingredients

Scoop into muffin tins with an ice cream scoop or a 1/3 cup measure.  Can be  drizzled with a couple of teaspoons of EVOO and topped with pine nuts and course sea salt (optional) if you want to go all fancy for company. If so, make sure you hold your pinky just so when drinking your tea as you mutter.  "So Jeeves, bring the car around, we need to take Madam Abby for a  Ride".
Bake for 20-24 minutes, until golden brown around the edges and a toothpick inserted inside one comes out clean.
Even better you can slice them the next day, add ham and muenster cheese and heat for yummy little snacky sandwiches.
One for Mom
One for Dad.
Try and look sad and hungry.  "I am so abused, please give me a piece of ham"

Friday, March 30, 2018

If Your Work Days Were a Sandwich

Yes, Friday was a Fried Buffalo Chicken Sandwich with blue cheese sauce, thinly sliced celery on a homemade egg bun.  Monday well, was Monday.

Telework rules!


Thursday, March 29, 2018

Thankful Thursday

Abby Lab here.  Tonight we are joining our friend

for his Thankful Thursday blog hop.

What I am thankful for most today is a package that arrived in the mail addressed to ME with a Texas address on it.  What could it be, it's not my birthday or gotcha day. Which means I am also thankful for my good fur-ends.

It's from Casey's Mom from

Oh boy, Texas Treats (which Mom giggled when she read the packaging and saw they were actually made in the United Kingdom for the Texas Pets Company in San Antonio)

They're bloody good Y'all.

And chicken is the #1 ingredient with no grains or icky ingredients we can't pronounce.  Good choice! And they are TASTY.  Mom gave me one after I did good walkies tonight.

Then there was a card for Easter.

Bar Har Har.

I found out that tonight, that little pile of things I ate up in the yard were NOT Milk Duds!

And something for Mom. Casey's Mom pawtographed a copy of her Legal Beagle book that was just published.  That's something to really be proud of!!

Thanks, Andrea, Casey, Jessie, and Pigeon, you made our day.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Husband Birthday FAIL

I  found this online site (Zazzle) where I could create my own author business cards from scratch. I have limited photo editing skills but it was fairly easy to use, and later I made different ones for Small Town Roads and Calexit - The Anthology as they were different genres.
I had to do the Kirkus Review blurb.  I was told NOT to submit my book to them as "They HATE Indie authors and will savage it" from more than one source, including the publisher.  They loved it, featuring it in their dead tree magazine (only a small number of their web reviews make it to the printed magazine) and making me a front-page featured Indie author on their webpage.  Score.

I thought the cards turned out fairly nice and they were quite inexpensive so I used the same website again to try to create a unique card for my hubby who had a birthday this last week. I try and make sure he has a nice birthday though there are some rumors around the house that I'm a cheapskate with the wrapping material.
But at least there was red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting and dark chocolate mini chips.
So I think he had a good day.

The big Three Six - I told him if he made any comments about being old, dinner was going to be gruel (I'm 60).  But back to the DIY birthday card from Zazzle.
Partner in Grime is a mechanical engineer so the front was fun to see, but let's just say I didn't read all the instructions. The result was a lot funnier than anything I could have added.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Sunday Black and White - Moving Days

A Chapter From The Book of Barkley  (Outskirts Press, 2014)

CHAPTER 15 – Moving Days

The car was packed, and the moving truck was already on its way.  I’d been selected for a position in a Midwest city, one with the potential for promotion over time.  The house here was selling, at a huge loss given the market, but at least it had a buyer.

Things are changing; my Stepmom’s diagnosis of cancer, Dad's talk of moving in with me after she's gone, something he swore he'd never do.  I found a little ranch house in that Midwestern city I am moving to, bigger than I would have bought for myself, but a lot less fancy and still much smaller than this house. It will provide him his own rooms, and bath, with an entrance without steps for him.

The house stands empty. Only a few folks have been inside, a few neighbors, my parents, a couple of friends and a few dates, none of whom seemed to like dogs, which was becoming more important. We're better off moving on, even alone, I tell Barkley, there’s a big world out there with lots of things to do and people to meet.

He's only three years old.  I wonder if he will miss this place.

Barkley and I made one last trek around the neighborhood and the woods behind before we left for the first leg of our journey. The moving truck had another stop to make so we would have time to travel and catch up. So many trips we'd made around these blocks.  Barkley sniffed everything, pointing to the occasional piece of trash or blowing leaf, as I steered him toward the common area to do his business, rather than on someone's lawn.  He, of course, would only lift his leg, and then continue on, for Barkley was always looking for something, a bright picture window, a family seated in front of it at the dining room, enjoying dinner. He'd then dash over to their lawn and squat to do the rest of his business, all right in front of their dinner.  Kids squealed and giggled, as adults shot me looks that were daggers, as I would wave an apology.  Then, I'd go clean up the pile, scolding him yet again, as we walked off, my cheeks blazing with embarrassment, his head held up proudly with a "that was the biggest one yet!"

We took one last walk out into the openly wooded area that runs for a half mile behind this new development, back to a little pond where he first learned to swim.  Tonight, I stood at the crest of the rise of sand and dirt that made up the lip of this water-filled bowl.  Man-made or nature made; it was hard to tell, for the perfect shape of the pond.  But given the location, it was probably man-made. The moon cleaved the pale waste that was the sky, the sun having left like low tide, leaving this place in the shadow, just the form of a red-haired woman and the dark grieving of the earth.

I looked down and saw it, the pale abandoned nest of a Canadian goose; the goslings long having been hatched if the eggs survived both rising waters and predators. I pictured the water moving, like slow waves, but it was as still as I.  We both seemingly waited for something, an act of fate, of destiny, the irrevocable sentence of time that's passed or perhaps, an invitation.

I wondered if I came back in ten years if this place would still be here? Or would it be plowed into yet another row of Monopoly houses, another neighborhood of lives and love, fights and frustration and unborn children who can't wait to grow up so they can leave this place, then wish desperately that they could return?

They say you cannot go home again, and perhaps as far as a childhood home, that is true. But what of the memories of other places we hold firm in our mind's eye? Some of them we have a name for, our elementary school, the river where we dove as far out as we could into the dark water, a place where church bells rang. In the Book of Genesis, all were drawn out of the waters of chaos by its name, "God called the dry land Earth." Sometimes, the incredibly complex can be summed up in one word.  I read in a story that the Inuit Indians have one such word to bring to conceivable life the fear and the awe that possesses them when they see across the ice, the approach of a polar bear.  Some things have no words at all, their form remembered only in the etchings of tears.

But of those places, both named and unnamed, there are places you are drawn back to, years later, praying they are not changed, and knowing it will not be so.

I hope in ten years Barkley and I can come back here, if only to wave at the house in which I raised him to adulthood, as to an old friend.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Prison Walls are Never Built to Scale - An Abby Lab Adventure

Reporting LIVE from JAIL - Yes, that's right, it's Abby T. Lab and I'm in jail.  I think someone should call the Blogville Law Offices of Von Schnitzel, Ketchum and Dedum about this egregious mistake.

It all started a few hours ago.  Mom and Dad had a romantic dinner as Dad has been gone a LOT on a big project for work. There was yummy smelling food that Mom cooked, candles and wine. Mom made silly. giggling noises and Dad was smiling a lot.  Then it was time for "take the dog out".  Our house is in the city but the original owners bought TWO lots so it is in a deep, wooded area that has all sorts of critters living in it and sometimes coming into the smaller fenced part on their way to the large park and river nearby.  There in the back corner, I did my favorite roll in the grass, but it was even better as it was "roll in the smell" as something was deader back there in the dark.  I'm not sure WHAT it was, there was just a big, smelly stain in the grass and I rolled in it good.
I don't know about you two, but something smells in here.

When Dad brought me into the house, boy was I STINKY. Dad said "maybe it's just poop" and Mom smelled me and said, "no, I know that smell too well - that's deader". Mom was NOT happy with me but she got all kinds of warm, wet towels and wiped me down gently as best she could. But then they put me in jail. It was a small room cell blocked with chairs so I couldn't get out. I have my older washable travel bed and my favorite stuffy, but they put stuff on the futon so I couldn't smellasize it.
If that is dog shampoo I may have to kill you.

Dad then went to Wall-GREENS and got doggie shampoo and gave me a quick bath and then put me back in jail until I'm a hundred years old "dry". I don't think Mom was too happy with me.
But little known to Mom, I called one of my doggie friends and they're going to send me something to spring me.  Not just a file in a cake even better.  A TANK.

And not just ANY Tank, but the "Donk".  Don't' laugh - go to Amazon and you can get your own. Now, I know what you're thinking.  Many of you have fallen trap to the "purchased the first tank you saw", just wanting to get your better half something for that special date and get out of the store as quickly as possible only to have her roll her eyes and tell you the insurgents are going to take that thing out with a homemade Mortar in 5 minutes and her friend  Mary's husband spent three months salary and got her a bigger tank.

It pays to shop carefully - especially when springing a friend from jail.
Hurry - The Matron is in the basement folding laundry - she'll never catch us!

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

On Inner Fire

In everyone's life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.

Albert Schweitzer

Thank you all of you in Blogville, who have rekindled my spirit as I have dealt with the death of my only brother and Barkley, the loss of some of our Blogville friends, and the rapid decline of my 98-year-old Dad, the only remaining member of my family. He's outlived two wives and two children and I've done all I can to keep him in his home of 70 years til the end (he refused to move in with family) even if it means round the clock nursing and lots of flights back and forth to check on him. I don't mind the financial part of it when his monies ran out, but the worry is a shawl I wear on a daily basis and your friendship has helped greatly.

LB Johnson "Brigid"

Monday, March 19, 2018

Old Dogs - A Thought

Their time with us 
is more important than our time with them. 
 Adopt a Senior Dog.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

St. Patricks Day - Sticks and Stones

On the table at the outdoor sports show was a piece of a meteorite on display.  There was a sign that you were welcome to touch it, but don't pick it up.  Its weight was such that to do so might cause injury.  There was a tiny one as well, that you could pick up.  The weight of it considering its size was surprising.

Both were innocuous in appearance, yet in realizing where they came from it was if they possessed of some secret, to galaxies far beyond the limits of imagination, created somewhere in deep space, perhaps in a time when things were not irrevocably fixed to their form.

In a container in my vehicle is another stone, this one a sturdy chunk that possesses neither beauty or function but was picked up from a lake high up in the Sierras where a hundred and fifty years prior, the Donner Family was stranded.  I'd gone up there after a death in my family, to just get away from the city and be alone.
I'd taken it from the water, and used it to form and contain my campfire, located a short distance away.  Before I packed up to head home, checked the fire to ensure it was out.  I'd checked before, but it only takes a spark to start a forest fire, though it takes an entire box of matches to get a campfire going. But I checked again, anyway, even though it rained, moving that larger rock away.. The rock was still warm, not enough to pull my fingers away, but enough that it possessed a luminance heat, not the sort that would burn, but a slow steady warmth that the dying fire may scorn, rain would dilute, but only time could truly deplete. I picked it up and held it in my hand, feeling it cool. Not everything of strength and density is cold. Watching a drip of water fall to the ground I thought, even a stone can weep.

I'm not sure why I picked it up and took it home, nor why I still have it, But it's there among the tools of my trade.
On my desk are beautiful, colorful stones, heavy with color,  many of them are ones I picked up as a child, out with my Mom looking for agates. After the winter's snow had retreated, we would head outdoors, just the two of us, along the shores of local bodies of water looking for stones, stones that may not have been unearthed for years, abundant embedded in earth and sand. They're quiet treasures on the shores of the West, windswept lands riddled with unclaimed treasures that people simply pass and forget, not knowing what they have underneath their feet. Beneath this great land lies jeweled richness of stone, and prehistoric bones, telling tales as they surface, dotting the future with pieces of the past.

There on the shelf in my office are other such things,  small bits of history, small stones, a piece of bone that appears to have been carved, a perfect, pristine shell, both delicate and strong. Water and history, two elements of life that draw me in deeply, draw me back to such places. Part of my childhood was spent on the shores of a body of water in the West where we stayed in a little cabin with a view of the water,  years before Californians discovered it and developers took over the place, building vast condos that blocked out the sun.

My brother and I would get up while it was still dark, and march down to the water's edge, hoping to get there to see the dawn explode over the water. I could spend hours there, just watching the way the water shaped itself around the rocks and me, the gentle waves moving against the shore, like breathing. In the bright cold water, there would be all sorts of strange creatures,  all sorts of mysteries.
Big Bro and I  wade along the edges, gingerly looking, while not harming anything that was there, hoping to find a prehistoric shell to take home, knowing that at some time, all of the lands where our family homesteaded had once been part of this ocean.  We occasionally found bits and pieces of things, some strange, some so very familiar.

Many of you have seen a sand dollar. They're commonly sold in souvenir stores. But what you see is only the remaining skeleton of a living sea creature. When living, the sand dollar is covered with fine hair-like cilia that cover tiny spines, soft, and almost purple in color. But the remaining shell is beautiful, fragile, white. The essential essence of what this creature was.
We'd come home at the end of an adventure, our pockets full of small rocks and shells and artifacts of the day. I felt somehow at home with these small bits of the ancient land, though I felt as if I was living in an alien world in the small eddy currents of their homes, among creatures that were so different from me, somehow I knew I belonged there. At night, we'd build a fire and sit and listen to the lapping of the waves, dreams of my future filled my head.

One of my favorite places in the world is the rocky coast of Northern Ireland.  Being there reminds me of those days of childhood,  the rush of the water an affirmation of what draws me to search and discover. It takes me back to the taste of salt on my lips, that of rain or tears, only the years remember. The water rushes, then waits, as I do, moving in, retreating, watching, still waiting. Remembering everything past, hoping for everything good of the future, in a bone-deep calm that belies the deep ache in my muscles as I climb up ancient stone steps that lead to cliffs hundreds of feet above.
There at the top, a view, an expanse that is as untouched and unchanged as what drove me here in the first place.Steeling myself against the wind and looking at the distance down, I wondered for a moment if I'd made the right decision to come up here.  Like anything, you do your best with what you have, and you hope you make the right decisions. Sometimes the decisions seem to happen by themselves as if found at the end of an invisible chain, sometimes they are long drawn out thoughts, held in the hand and dreamt of in the night before taking human form.

I wasn't alone, though the rest of the group, took the bus back the short distance, there was a handful us, strangers but kindred spirits, not speaking, simply looking outward. The others don't dare the height, the edge, not with the wind that day, but we do, not feeling the fear until afterward, only feeling alive, on the wind the smell and the taste of the longing to simply be here.

But for now, a few more hours, a few more artifacts of time I stole from the past, flirting with the ancients, hard rocks, the smell of peat and coal, a land brushed with snow, burnished with the traces of those that went before. Traces that say, remember me, remember this, for in it you will find yourself, and leave a piece of your heart behind.

There on top of a sea green cliff, I will throw out a rock to watch it splash down far below, as above, I watch above, from a strong, yet fragile, light shell that houses this old soul. The rock flies through the hindrance of the deepest sleep through the stiff fabric of the wind, into the warm sea.

It's only a rock, only a bit of artifact of the past that holds in it, not the prolonged burden of time that too many embrace as they age, but the bright colored fluent movement of youth, the dancing heels of those days of risk and glory.  Perhaps the days of my youth are gone, as is the rock,  yet the feel of its absoluteness will remain in my hands, in me, long after the wind goes silent.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Talk to the Paw!

While my husband went and got some supplies for this weeks home renovation projects, I got dinner cooked.

Abby is snoopervising, only retreating to the futon for a nap when Vlacula comes out to clean up the area rugs.
I'm helping Mom!

Call me old fashioned but I enjoy taking care of a home and a kitchen for my husband so he's got a comfortable place to come home to after a long day of work (as do I).
After they got married my great grandmother did that, my grandmother did that, my Mom did that (when she wasn't being Deputy Sheriff).  But they did it out of love, the greatest of reasons.

My husband does as much work as I do, probably a bit more with all the renovation. It's a shared responsibility but I don't mind doing the tasks he doesn't like to do,  just as he cleans the gutters and does the weeding and yard work, which I don't like to do.

Because if I was expected to do everything it would be.

But I'm lucky to have a husband like my Dad, that views the house as a shared responsibility.  As he deals with spiders, and plumbing reworkings, I try and leave enough meals so that after a long day, or regular weeks away from home in a hotel, he doesn't HAVE to cook or eat something from a box.

We had roast beef sandwiches for lunch but tonight's  dinner was "what's in the fridge.  The stir fry I made a couple of days ago was gone and I usually do my grocery shopping on Friday morning early before work when it's not so crowded.

3 large tortillas.
the usual canned stuff.
some frozen veggies
2 cooked chicken breasts
about a cup of sour cream
a bag and a half of cheese
and a few jalapenos


I can make something out of that. (the light was pretty low but you get the idea)

Tex-Mex Chicken-Jalapeno Lasagna

No noodles to boil and a tasty mix of creamy, cheesy, and savory with a nice little crisp bite from the peppers. 

In a cast iron pan with a little olive oil saute until softened;

1 large onion

Set aside 2 cups of grated Mexican Blend Cheese

In a bowl mix:

Can of Cream of Cluck Soup
A cup of sour cream
A small box of spinach, thawed and drained and squeezed between paper towers til all the moisture is out.
A few dashes of seasoning salt (I used Janes Krazy Mixed Up Salt - My favorite as it is lower in sodium than many seasoning mixes).
The sauteed onions (or replace with celery or yellow or orange bell peppers if you don't like onions)
3-5 chopped de-seeded jalepanos. (I used 5 for hot, not make your eyes water hot, but zippy)

Chop up 2-3 cooked chicken breasts (or prepared veggie chicken or tofu), dusted with a little ancho chili powder before cooking).

Layer in a non-stick sprayed 8 x 8 pan

1 flour tortilla
1/3 of the soup mixture
1/2 of the chicken
a big handful of cheese

1 tortilla
1/3 of the soup mixture
1/2 of the chicken
a handful of cheese

1 tortilla
remaining soup mixture
remaining cheese.

Bake, covered with foil, at 325 F for 35-40 minutes, until bubbly and the cheese is melted.

And the beer was for the cook.
It was REALLY tasty and made enough to feed six folks, and should freeze really well for leftovers.