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mildly amusing...

Saturday, October 31, 2015
...would be an apt description for the time I spent in the clown suit. I could not find the umbrella hat, therefore no pounding headache as a result of wearing that too-tight around the brain decoration for several hours. And did find the apron with lots of pockets. I made it years ago, before a fest at church. To go around and have all the kids 'pick the pockets', filled with candy, gee-gaws, little toys, junky stuff ordered from OTC/made in China. Today all the pockets were full of bite sized Snickers - yay! Everyone's a Winner!

We played a game where the kids had to toss the beanbag into the plastic cups. Everyone's a Winner! The beanbags were about one inch square, and I think probably stuffed with Styrofoam, if not feathers. So light they had a hard time falling into the cups. But the kids had fun, all collecting far too much junk as the circled the store in costumes, filling their pumpkins, boxes, loot bags (one so optimistic he had a pillowcase!) I expected to be there from four till eight, but the crowd diminished so by seven, I made an executive decision and left.

trying to figure out...

... how to complete my Halloween outfit. I have the clown suit ready to wear, and red plastic nose ready to apply on my face, with the little elastic string that holds it in place. But undecided as to what I might place upon my head. Wishing I had some of that wildly colored, outrageous hair clowns are prone to wear. At one time I did have a brightly rainbow-striped wig, but gave it to whoever I gave the first clown costume to in a church group that was starting a clown ministry.

I do have an umbrella hat, but it gives a terrible headache if you wear it for any length of time. That elastic band that holds it in place is miserable. Amusing for about the first two minutes, then gradually feels like your head is in a vise. Not nearly as fun On Your Head as it appears to onlookers.

So, trying to decide how to 'accessorize', complete my outfit for the maximum amusement when I get dressed for going to pass out candy at work today.

the longer I write...

...or maybe the older I get, the more willing I am to confess. Or possibly the older I get, the less I care about saving face or admitting to foolish. Or possibly I just don't care what they will think, and ready to own up to anything that might make someone else smile, or even laugh-out-loud. Or get more accustomed to the idea of having a constantly renewed portion of Grace, no matter the circumstance...

I had a day on my calendar with nothing to do, on Friday. So on Thursday evening I started trying to find a substitute teaching position, to fill my time. More a time filler than a way to make a bit of cash. As it takes, literally, weeks before the funds turn up in my bank account. Having, in all likelihood, forgotten it was coming: which is a nice little hundred dollar surprise.

Anyway, I found the job, as reported earlier, as a substitute for an art teacher in an elementary school. And left home on Friday morning in plenty of time to get where I needed to be for the opening bell. But when I got there, realized I was at the wrong school. I knew where I was supposed to be, and did get to the right one - but late. I apologized all over myself, and felt like a complete dunce, surprised they did not make me put on the little conical hat and sit in the corner.

Fortunately the actual teacher was there, and came in to provide a 'head's up', give me some info. to know what I would be doing with students for the day. It was a pretty good day, as you read in another blog. I have not personally made art, or done art with kids in a classroom setting in years, but discovered it is like the old saying about 'riding a bicycle': it comes back to you pretty quickly.

I asked the art teacher before she left about replacements/substitutes for positions that have not been filled in recent years. I knew there was a time the school district did not replace PE, Art, Music instructors who were absent. But apparently the rules have changed. So I will be a bit more diligent and look for 'day labor' jobs. Holes I can fill when there are vacancies for Art teachers.

so I am wondering...

...if new tires would have any effect on my gas mileage? If you have an answer or any ideas, let me know? Thinking that with good tread depth and a fairly conservative speed, there is less friction between tires and pavement, which would make the ride smoother, and consume less fuel? I really have no idea, and not a physics person. Truthfully: as one who readily admits to a long history of being math-impaired, it is really just a passing thought that accompanies the previous blog about most excellent miles-per-gallon.

Brought about because I knew the automotive guy would 'suggest' I consider a tire purchase when I took my car in for an oil change. With the 'newer' Toyo., I discovered I am a consumer of synthetic oil with the 2013 model. Which for all practical purposes, without a discount/coupon, doubles the cost of the oil change at a retail outlet. Sad that it costs so much - even though the older model I drove for years was semi-synthetic and costed twice what a regular oil change had been with that little red Saturn.

I knew the spiel about the new tires was coming, and had priced around. Called a couple of places to find out what they would charge to get them mounted and out the door. Expecting to pay about $100 per tire, I was not surprised to get estimates that were 400 plus. So I was prepared when the guy told me he could get me up and running for $435 (plus, of course, that exhorbitant, highway-robbery oil change.) So, though I am sure he was thinking he was so charming (overweight, excessively hairy, bad complexion) his great salesmanship spontaneously sold me tires, I was prepared. And knew they were going to give me the pitch.

Sadly: the total cost that ended up on my credit card was $554 and change. The good news is that it is on my credit card and racking up rewards points I can use to buy gift cards for Christmas presents. So, Merry Christmas everyone!

pre-Halloween planning...

Friday, October 30, 2015
... is a result of me asking the store manager if I should put on my clown suit and red nose and spend several hours at the store when kids come in costume to garner buckets of sweets. I found it in the closet yesterday, and put it in the washer to 'freshen' before I wear it tomorrow. Maybe no one will notice it was made from colorful, printed bed sheets I found at the yard sale.

I also have a red plastic nose I hope I can find to put on. But no brightly colored wig to make the clowning complete. There were several teachers at the school where I was working today that were dressed up in colorful fake hair, and one told me to go to Party City. Which won't happen before Sat.

The kids at the school were in costumes. But not really 'Halloween' outfits, though many might have been mistaken as such. One of the teachers told me that the only way the kids could wear costumes if if they were representing a character from a story. The had to read a book, write a book report, and come up with the outfit that represented one of the people from the book. You'd have a lot of choices with all the childrens books currently on library shelves - but you could not just jump into a Spiderman or Cinderella/Disney Princess costume without some preparation. Pretty good idea?

this sounds a bit strange...

...but it has occurred to me that there is some benefit to negativism: perhaps if you are continually envisioning the absolute Worst Case Scenario, it won't happen. If you constantly paint the picture of the most direst circumstance imaginable, and it does  not occur - surely you will be very pleasantly surprised.Well, it pretty much happened with my substitute teaching experience today. Not nearly as bad as it could have been - which means pretty good overall.

I knew it would be art class, so expected it would be older kids - elementary but the higher grades. I think I had third and fourth, which to my way of thinking is far more agreeable and manageable than sixth graders, which is 'way to close to middle school age and hormonal drama for my liking. They were mostly a pretty amenable bunch. The art teacher was actually there when I got into the classroom, to provide some instructing and direction for what the day would be.

Kids, with some guidance, would be drawing a picture of a 'blimp'. They had color illustrations, as well as a  page of sketches, a  basic how-to, and a oval shaped pattern to get them started.  The instructions were, to my way of thinking, pretty plainly stated, but they obviously: a) don't listen, b) disregard what they are told, c) completely fail to pay attention and d) could not care less what the instructions are for completing the project. I told them to write their names on the paper, along with grade and teacher, then turn it over to start the drawing. Did they do that? No. Well, maybe, about 40%. And you have to tell them over and over and over and over to get their attention.

By the end of the day, when I had better figured out what to tell them to make the assignment more likely to be a success, some of them really did a good job: using imaginations, and going on to be pretty creative. I'd drawn one on the white board, decorated the shape to look (somewhat) like a cat. Whiskers, tail, stripes, catty-looking eyes; all the things you notice that make a feline look like a feline. Then I used paper, and put several on the same page: actually pretty funny. One had stars and stripes, one was rainbow stripes, one that was colored like a watermelon. I was amused, even if no one else thought it entertaining.

let's just hope...

...I am up to the task. After accepting a job for substitute teaching late yesterday, I have been having second thoughts. Probably why I did not sleep very well overnight. A combination of anxiety about what I am getting into, and worry that I would oversleep and not get there by 7:45. Though I think I will be early, since I am ready to leave the house right now, lunch box packed and stress level  gradually reaching maximum.

You may recall  I went to mid-summer meeting for all those wishing to continue to be 'day labor' employees of the local school district: they changed the rules. Anyone who chooses to remain on the computer generated calling list is required to work a minimum of twenty days per school year. Supposing I worked an average of two days per month, from August through May, I thought I would have it pretty well in hand. But find myself already seriously lagging. I have only done two days, and here we are on the leading edge of November.

With a day that had nothing else penciled in on my calendar, I decided to look and see what the school system might have to offer. Oddly enough - I prefer the jobs that do not pay as well. Which would be working as a substitute for a para-professional (formerly known as 'aide') in a classroom with a certified teacher. Generally limiting me to pre-K, Kindergarten and first grade age kids. The ones who are still enthusiastic about learning, happy to be in the classroom, and absorbent as sponges when it comes to picking up new skills.

I have the certification for employment as  the teacher, but would rather be in an environment with someone else, who knows the kids, knows the schedule, and can keep them under control. Going in a classroom at the level of five or six year olds with another person is the ideal situation for me. It would be nice to be subbing for the teacher, and make the best pay rate for the day labor job.  But the idea of being in a relatively controlled/managed situation can easily outweigh the measly difference in income for the seven hours you devote to the work.

I will be doing Art today. Something I have not done, or thought of doing in years. Though that is what I am actually trained and educated for. So we will see if I have to disposition, patience, and forbearance, skills, discipline to survive the day. I expect the age group will be a bit older. Though it is an elementary school, I predict the classes will be students at the top end of the age bracket. I sincerely hope no one gets hurt.

So, should I live to tell about it: three down, and seventeen more to go. Why I think this is necessary I cannot say, but hope that I will eventually accumulate that minimum of days needed to stay in the good graces of the county school system.

just thinkin'...

Wednesday, October 28, 2015
...that with cooler weather the occasional millipede invasion is over until spring. But I looked askance on the wall in the corner, just mere feet from where I am sitting and saw a Huge Slug. Which for those who might not be aware: is a snail without portable housing. That was most definitely the Biggest Sluggiest Slug I have ever actually put my eyes upon. It was at least half an inch wide, and nearly two inches long.

Needless to say: a) it is no longer in the house and b) I did not touch it. I found a piece of paper and persuaded it to inch itself onto the paper and quickly deposited it outdoors. I was hoping to not 'litter' in the yard, but left it there: slugging, slime-ing it's way across the small slip of paper, not caring where it goes or what it does. As long as it does  not reappear in my house. I know they can make themselves pretty flat and squeeze through a fairly narrow space, something that would look like an unlikely entrance. So that is obviously what occurred here. I would definitely like to know that entry point to prevent it being used in the future. It was remarkably Ick. As well as thoroughly Yuck.

loaded with sugar...

Tuesday, October 27, 2015
... which is why it was so good. The recipe I was making at work yesterday: designed to be served as a parfait, and would be really pretty, layered in clear glass to look festive and appetizing. But swamped with empty sugar calories.

I spent the day being baffled as to why they would print and distribute a recipe that called for fresh peaches in late October. When it could have come out in June when local, ripe, juicy, sweet, home-grown, fresh from the orchard, delicious Georgia peaches were in season. We're known for that! People have the trees actually growing in their yards, and can walk out the back door and pick one to eat immediately, right there, on the spot. While the ones available for sale were picked two weeks ago, shipped green as a gourd, hard as a brickbat, and often go from green to rotten, never ever becoming edible.

Lots of customers, as they stood eating the dessert that was served in little sample cups reported they had put summer produce in the freezer. Could make the recipe using some of the locally grown, sweet peaches they had stockpiled when they were in season. Admittedly, the product we were serving was pretty good, using a bag of frozen peaches, that were  likely picked and processed at the season peak. So using locally grown, frozen would be tasty.

But the sugar caution: everything is loaded, if you go by the recipe. You could substitute to reduce the amount, but not something you would feed a person who has medical issues with processing refined sugar. And you need to be sure that the completed recipe leaves the house, so you won't have regrets later from loss of self control.

I failed to put the recipe in my pocket, so the following is just a guesstimate.

A cinnamon coffee cake from the bakery - in an 8 inch aluminum pan. Crumble the entire cake.
Four cups of fresh peaches, in about 1 inch dice. Easy to cut the frozen ones when semi-thawed.
One cup of maple syrup, plus one cup of white grape juice (or wine if you dare.)Simmer the liquids about ten minutes or so, add the peaches and cook three to five minutes more. Let cool.
One eight ounce bowl whipped topping thawed.
You see where this is going, right? So rich you could serve it For The Meal, instead of After.
The picture on the laminated recipe card has it served in tall skinny clear glass containers, and it would be eye-candy as a dessert after a home cooked meal, so even though your invitees were popping their buttons, they would eat it anyway. The recipe claims it serve 8

You just layer the ingredients in the tall slim glasses. I confess to once making some sort of pudding/parfait thing years ago, in something shaped like champagne flutes. You could not get your spoon to the bottom of the narrow glass, so you missed the bottom third of the food. Be sure the spoon will scrape up every single crumb before you start your layering process or they will be asking for drinking straws, knives, chopsticks, anything to get the last bit.

The instructions we were given were to only make three layers: cake crumbs, liquid peach mixture and whipped topping.  Reserve about one-fourth cup of crumbled cake for topping. Stacked up in a casserole dish, measuring 9 x9, and very full. You need to let the peaches cool before adding topping or it will melt. Honestly: it looked nasty when severed up in the little two ounce sample cups. In the same way lasagna looks wonderful in the casserole, and disgusting when you serve it onto the plate. But makes your taste buds happy nonetheless.


Monday, October 26, 2015
...over the weekend, out in the woods, with no internet. I probably could have typed early in the mornings or late at night, but that would have been risky, with my brain not actually in gear. Looking more like some random, garbled, indecipherable strokes of a cat walking 'across the key board.

Indisposed due to volunteering as a 'worker bee' for a retreat that happens twice a year, sponsored by a group associated with the Methodist church. They have a beautiful peaceful place just south of Callaway Gardens, up in Harris County, just south of the ridge that holds Roosevelt State Park. Land donated by a family who has lived there for years, developed  by this organization to be an environment they can use to hold events and occasionally rent out for summer camps, corporate meetings. Completely furnished commercial quality kitchen, conference room, lots of dorm space, in the woods, designed to be a 'place apart' from the distractions of the world and hurried daily activities that swamp all our lives.

I went up on Thursday afternoon, to help with preparations before the Retreaters came on Thursday evening, to spend three nights. I know I would not get a good nights rest in a room full of strange sounds, so willing to make that extra effort required by driving up there (about 25 miles) each morning in the dark, and return to the familiar comfort of my own bed (another 25 miles) late at night.

I know the people who were in attendance, both the Retreaters, and the numerous servants, doing all the behind the scenes work necessary to make it look spontaneous, were gratified and enriched by the events of the weekend. As well as physically and mentally exhausted by the effort invested over three and a half days of the intense experience. Glad I did it, but equally glad it is over... til March of 2016.

a thought- y little proverb...

Thursday, October 22, 2015
...or possibly something I just made up, but it sounds so profoundly profound, you might as well consider it something that originated in ancient history. Could have come spilling out of the mouth of a wise sage from the past like Confucius or The Buddha. Or just me, thinking about the absurdities of life... which can be pretty telling if you sit and ponder.

"One who can laugh at oneself will never fail to find a source of amusement". Or something along those lines, as in: "If you have enough humor about you that you can be entertained by your own mishaps, you will not sink into the mire of self-pity.' And since we all know gravity as well as Murphy's Law is still in effect, you might as well laugh and make the best of the mundane daily aggravations that would other wise cause you to hurt someone.

My story goes back nearly a week. When I made the peanut butter cookies that were originally intended for travel, to take to my pen pal in South Carolina. By the time I ate a few, and gave the rest away, there were none. So I put my bowl, ingredients and baking pan in the car with the intentions of baking another batch when I got to Decatur for delivering to my friend in SC. But it just didn't happen. I might have possibly gotten distracted by a glass or two of below average wine, and somehow never got around to doing the stirring and baking.

So the bowl, ingredients and now spilled bottle of vanilla made the round trip to SC and back without ever actually turning into cookies.  That little teaspoon of vanilla flavoring leaking out of the bottle certainly did make me smell good for several days.  I just made the second batch and will put them in the mail this afternoon.

 A side effect of the cookie making is that I will not be wanting any lunch, due to excessive consumption of un-cooked dough. But it is not dangerous or bad for you, other than not being 'good for you', in that there is nothing in the raw ingredients that is actually 'raw': just baking mix, peanut butter and condensed milk. Surely that won't hurt?

Years ago, I would not have shared this - being to aware of the likelihood that some individual would find this foolish behavior so entertaining as to get a great guffaw or chuckle. Chortling at my expense: thinking of my foolishness, as I drove the ingredients all the way to Greenville and back without ever actually stirring together. But I find myself feeling more and  more like it is better to laugh than cry... too much grief and heartache in the world already.

cookin' at work...(beef pie with ranch dressing seasoning)

Wednesday, October 21, 2015
... a new, easy recipe today, that is sort of an old favorite, with a bit of 'tweaking' (no, not Twerking, miley!). Similar to one I have made  numerous times over the years, doing some adding/subtracting based on what I had on hand. So, of course, you need to use some common sense and adapt it to what you know your peeps will eat.

I told passers-by all day long that if I were making it at my house, it would be with chicken instead of beef. Cooking a chicken breast to dice or shred, or leftover rotisserie chicken from the deli, or even some ground turkey. I'd just be much more likely to eat it with poultry instead of cow. And really good leftovers the day after.

Here's the recipe just like it is printed on the laminated card:
Cheesy beef and ranch pie
1 -9 inch- frozen deep dish pie shell
3/4 pound ground sirloin beef
1 cup diced yellow onion
3 large eggs (or 3/4 cup egg substitute)
3/4 cup evaporated milk
1/2 cup reduced fat olive oil mayonnaise
3 Tbs. all purpose flour
3 Tbs. powdered ranch dressing mix (like the  dry packet of hidden valley)
1 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
Brown beef and onion. Mix eggs, milk, mayo. Stir flour and dry dressing mix together, add to liquid. Stir in cheese, then meat. Pour into pie shell. Place on pan before putting in oven. Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes. Let sit for 5 min before slicing into wedges to serve.

I used to make something similar when I had a family to feed. My easiest recipe came from the back of a Bisquick box. You can probably still find it, if you google up Cheeseburger Pie. Sadly, I am still prone to try to sneak in some nutrition in the form of vegetables. So I would dice onions, bell pepper, celery, maybe grate a bit of zucchini to saute and add to the mix with meat.

volunteer weed puller...

Tuesday, October 20, 2015
...at the Botanical Gardens this afternoon. As a result of a bulk email sent out to Master Gardening people who are part of a faithful group who will pitch in with free labor when the need arises. There were quite a few who were  in attendance last week and over the weekend for a fall festival/plant sale. But not me, due to traveling.

I had signed on as one who would show up one day a month, on a specific week, to help with maintenance of a recently developed Camellia Garden. Wishing my dad was around to see it, as it is something I think he would enjoy. On a shaded hill, with lots of young pine trees growing above hundreds of varieties of camellias. Donated by a family who has the resources to buy them and pay someone to plant, along with a nice irrigation system to keep them healthy. Attractive, neatly designed, inviting, with  curving paths wending down the slope and sturdy teak benches placed around for visitors to sit and reflect.

And now, a really nice fountain, surrounded by pavers, with curving benches securely placed for visitors to enjoy the peace and solitude of the surroundings. Surprisingly, remarkably, ironically nearly at the back loading dock of the local Sam's Club, that can be found a half mile through the dense undergrowth and woods in a busy shopping area. But quiet and serene with the satisfying, quieting, blurbling sounds of the fountain, tidily placed out in a little spot in the Camellia Garden, nestled under the pines, where all those blooming shrubs are peacefully thriving mere feet from a busy thoroughfare.

We found some weeds mischeviously growing up in the pine straw beds that needed attention. And my co-volunteer and I spent about forty five minutes pulling, digging, tidy-ing up. Then I said that I thought it only fair, as well as charitable that we should leave some for the people who will come by next week for their opportunity to 'do good'. So there will be a different group/pair of volunteers from week to week who will take a brief respite from the busyness of life, to pull a few weeds and enjoy a bit of serenity in the Secret Garden.

going to SC...

Sunday, October 18, 2015
...on Saturday morning to visit my pen pal. I awoke too early, without setting an alarm. But awake and planning to travel, I said to self: 'you could either lie here warm and snug, or get up and get going'. The usual result is that I will brush my teeth, get on the road, underway. You are familiar with the way you set an alarm, then awaken a dozen times throughout the night, checking the time. That internal system that doesn't shut down when you go to sleep, ever vigilant, keeping you from seriously restful oblivion, continually pulling you back into consciousness to be sure you have not overslept.

So I left Decatur about 6:30, and headed to South Carolina. Knowing the drive only takes a couple of hours without stops. I generally try to get to Greenville about 10 o'clock, stopping at a nearby grocery to get coffee cake. But made a couple of stops on the road, mostly to kill time. Had an item to return to Wallyworld, so stopped in Commerce and did that, bought a couple of OTC items. And veered off at a curb store to get a pumpkin flavored loaded-with-fat-and-sugar cappuccino. Oh, yes...

I guess you could consider it a little 'game' I play with myself: checking gas prices as I venture into South Carolina, dangerously writing little 'notes to self' while driving. There is a curb store, Quik Trip, at one of the Anderson exits that usually has the best price. So I will watch the billboards along the Interstate and note per gallon prices, planning to stop on the south-bound, return trip to fill up at the one close-est to the state line with the lowest price. On Saturday afternoon at QT was $1.85/gal.

And back in Decatur before dark, with remarkably little traffic on I-85 leading into metro area. Though, as you would expect, a couple of times we slowed down to six m.p.h. for no apparent reason, then suddenly return to 63 m.p.h., without ever knowing/seeing the reason we nearly came to a complete halt. Uneventful travels.

 A beautiful day to be out in the world, clear skies, bright sunshine, pleasant temperatures once the sun got up to warm the world. Happy to be traveling, thankful for small mundane blessings: freedom to travel, health, fresh air to breathe, family and friends. Financial resources to go and come at will. Amazing potable water every time you turn the handle on the faucet.

little road trip...

...leaving home on Friday afternoon, and driving to Decatur. Getting into dense, high-speed traffic is always an iffy proposition. Without a smart phone to advise and update the latest facts on minute to minute road hazards, it's always a guessing game as to which route would be the Least Likely to Come to a Screeching Halt for No Apparent Reason. Several options for getting into town via Interstates and onto surface streets - but no predicting which will be the smoothest choice. You can depend on Murphy's Law to be in effect. As it was on Friday: meaning the route not taken is best.

I despise, totally hate that place south of the stadium where the two Interstates merge into one, heading north, to whizz through the center of town. Where I-85 comes up from the southwest, and is routed over I-75 to merge into the left/outer lanes, and a gazillion passenger cars, work trucks, vans and semi-tractors are all jockeying to squeeze into traffic that is usually going about 70 m.p.h. headed through downtown. Depending on my stress level (always high as I get closer into the city and heavy traffic),  time of day, current speed of travel, number of vehicles on the road, weather, anxiety, how early or late in the current traffic flow I got underway. Options include: I-85 to I-28 E 5 to I-20, I-85 to I-75 to I-20, I-85 to I-285 W to I-75 to I-20, or just stay at home, where there is  no traffic at all. Though it is daresome to get out of the driveway at 8 am. on school days.

So, no matter which way you pick, you soon realize it was the wrong choice. And as the six to eight lane wide Interstate highway slowly becomes a huge parking lot, with thousands of cars and trucks creeping along, you proceed to second guess yourself. Factor in:  a Friday afternoon, when all the guys in utility vans and work trucks, contractors and lawnservice guys were hoping to get off early, stop by the curb store and buy their beer before everyone else is finished for the week. Mumbling how you would already 'be there' if you had made a different choice. Inching along at seven and a half miles and hour with hundreds and hundreds of people who made the same Wrong choice. Thinking 'I would already be out of this, off the highway and into town if I had not been so industriously Second Guessing myself.'

for a part time worker...

Friday, October 16, 2015
... it has been dangerously close to forty hours for the past couple of weeks. I don't recall exactly how it happened last week, but so nearly to the maximum they were probably worried about the possibility of overtime. Which is totally verboten, completely unacceptable for everyone who is paid by the hour. Especially someone (meaning me) who has been part time for most of eighteen years, and expressed a desire to work about twenty hours each work.

But this week it sort of snuck up on me. Partially due to being willing to go in early last Saturday for several hours to help out when the floral dept. was swamped with big wedding order. Lots of cut arrangements plus all the stuff that complete the perfect day for the bridal party. So I offered to go in and get the new stuff from the warehouse put out on the sales floor: plants, cut flowers, herbs - whatever came on the truck and needed to be processed. Giving the floral guy the freedom to devote all his time to getting everything in order for pick up at noon last Saturday.

And then there was the day that the person who was supposed to be there to cook: didn't. And I went in to do her job for several hours. So all that adds up... to the point that I had to leave today by one o'clock or else. Probably ending up with another week of working thirty nine hours plus close to fifty-odd minutes.

I don't know why they get so freaked out about the possibility of paying overtime. But apparently it has become company policy that no one who is an hourly worker is allowed. Even though I tend to think of myself as a part-timer, and try to have the attitude that anytime I am not at work I am on vacation: lately, it has been very close to full time.

peanut butter cookies...

Thursday, October 15, 2015
...just made a batch. So good and easy you would not think a recipe with three ingredients would actually 'work', and be successful. I have likely written about this before, but if you are new to reading my ramblings, you will want to know how.

2 cups of baking mix, like Pioneer or Bisquick
3/4 cup peanut butter ( I don't actually measure, just eye-ball it and guess-timate)
1 - 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk - not evaporated (I use store brand, but you may have to   get the Borden brand, with the picture of Elsie the cow on the label)
1 tsp. vanilla flavoring

Mix the peanut butter and milk in a large bowl. You may want to put in microwave for about a minute to  make it easier to stir. Stir in baking mix and vanilla. Blend well. Form into small balls, about one inch in diameter. Place on baking sheet, they don't spread much so you can put fairly close together. Press lightly with tines of a fork to make prints, cross hatch if you like. Bake at 375 for 8 to 10 minutes. Remove to paper bag or wire rack to cool. They will be sort of greasy, so you might want to let them cool on a brown paper shopping bag or paper towels. Makes about five dozen if you don't eat too many before they go in the oven. My friend at work calls them the 'no bake cookies', but what he really means is he knows he can ask me for them, so he doesn't have to make them himself!

I had to make them tonight, to take to work tomorrow. Not for 'Boss' Day', which is, in my opinion, a occasion dreamed up by Hallmark Cards to give us guilt and make everyone buy cards and gifts for a non-event. But taking to give to my friend and co-worker when I tell him we are having an 'anniversary'. It will eighteen years since we met and started working together. I know and can remember it because there are 'benefits' the company pays based on hire/anniversary date, so they don't let you forget it.

more random stuff from the radio...

... there was a man who is an employee, on staff at the State University being interviewed. Telling about how students who have dropped out of college can withdraw without it having a negative effect on their GPA. I don't know if it is 'universal' in that it is an option in other states, but apparently a fact here. Even long after the student has moved on, years later, and is ready for a change. Making an effort to clean up a less than stellar history to improve chances for success in the future.

There was another man telling his story during this program, of trying to get into law school, though he had dropped out decades ago. You cannot help but admire someone who will tell a heart wrenching story about their personal trials. Even with the anonymity of radio, willing to reveal some pretty sordid details. As a way to help other people see that there is a solution to something that might have been considered insurmountable.

His guy had been in the Air Force Academy, and had been forced to leave during his first year, due to poor grades. He said he was stressed, anxious and depressed. Returned to his home state, enrolled at a public university but struggled to succeed. Eventually dropped out, and was later diagnosed as bi-polar. Which can be devastating to employment success, relationships and pretty much every facet of life. He was appealing his grades that resulted from failure to attend class, affecting his GPA. As well as goal of getting into law school.

There was a  pretty comprehensive process required to document his personal, social and medical history. But he was willing to reveal all the struggles he went through, ending up on social security/disability when he was so low he could not support himself. And all that financial and emotional distress was provable, through medical history and government sources. Finally allowing the committee at the state university to agree to remove failing grades from his transcript and vastly improving his GPA.

Again: I so admire someone who has dealt with something that affects many in our society. And is willing to be open and share his travails in order to reveal his experience to others, and provide the encouragement that they too can make changes in their lives to succeed. I cannot even remember his name, but it was a pretty impressive story.

listening to random stuff ....

...on public radio.  One topic was a sort of call in show/discussion about how kids don't seem to have developed the social skills they need when they jump out of the nest to be able to function in the world. The conversation started with the radio personality relating a story that showed up in the Washington Post, written by the president of a college or university. (Sorry I cannot be more specific... I'm doing good to remember it long enough to write about it!)

The man wrote to comment on how young adults struggle to manage relationships. Though they are old enough to enroll in a university, so of the age that parents have theoretically turned them loose to function independently. But a parent had called the Office of The President of the school to tell about a kid who was having a problem with a roommate. I don't know the details of the kerfluffle, but it was apparently unresolvable between the two or more young people who were assigned the same living space.

I am sure there are resources for mediation, student counseling programs, RA's still living in dorms, people who can listen objectively and offer suggestions for resolution. I don't know if these two individuals did not attempt to find a dis-interested third party, or the options they were offered were not satisfactory. But I  cannot imagine calling the President of the University to intervene.  Does that seem a bit excessive for problem solving?

The conversation turned to 'helicopter parents', who tend to make decisions and tell young adults what to do. Who don't allow opinions, input, or feedback. Wanting to micromanage every aspect of the adult child's life, then wondering why they make such poor decisions and keep setting themselves up for disaster.

cookin' at work...(cauliflower salad)

Wednesday, October 14, 2015
... though I was not supposed to be there today. The other cooking person did not show up, so they called to ask if I would be interested in doing it. Truthfully: I wasn't, but went in anyway, getting there about two and leaving a bit early, so you can tell there was a lack of enthusiasm.

The recipe was for 'casual sides', so there was a vegetable dish and a dessert. Sadly, our demo instructions were to not make that yummy sounding dessert, but only prepare the vegetable dish and cook a seafood item the meat department provided. The protein is something the marketing people came up with and debuted a couple of months ago: you choose the seafood your family eats and they put the dish together so you just take it home and cook, then get your fork. You can have any type fish or shrimp or scallops, add to a pre-determined combination of vegetables, seasonings and a carb. which is going to be something like quinoa or cous-cous.

Preheat the oven, cook the fresh seafood for fifteen minutes and tie your bib on. Add a salad and bread and your meal is ready to eat. Everyone who sampled said it was good, but some would not try because they could not like the tilapia we were serving.

The veg. dish is a cauliflower salad. Sounds strange, right? But it was pretty good, though I only put one bite in my mouth. It has diced shallots, that I would not intentionally eat. Or any other form of raw onion.

Cauliflower salad

1 - 10 oz. bag cauliflower florets
1 cup frozen green/English peas, thawed
1 cup light mayonnaise
1 1/2 tsp. Old Bay seasoning
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes (or less, or none, to taste)
2 ribs celery, diced
1 shallot finely minced

Cut cauliflower into bite sized pieces, microwave for two minutes. Combine with drained peas. Mix mayonnaise, seasonings. Stir in diced celery and shallot. Mix all together. Chill until ready to serve.

When a kid came by and asked for a plate, I asked if he would eat cauliflower and he said yes. I said: you don't even know what it is! and he said: It's white broccoli. So I gave him a plate of salad.

cookin' at work...(fresh tomato salad with basil)

Monday, October 12, 2015
...oh my goodness. It was so good, I could have eaten the whole dish. And then had to leave work to go home and lay down. But it would have been worth every bite. A salad that went along with hot dish of chicken and ravioli with Alfredo sauce.

The salad made me think of bruschetta, and just thinking about bruschetta makes me smile. So you can imagine how happy my mouth is when I actually put it in and chew. Really happy taste buds.

Dice up three tomatoes, as fresh and juicy as you can find. Mix two tablespoons of  red wine vinegar with two tablespoons of pesto sauce, whisk to blend well, or just diced up fresh basil leaves if it grows at your house. Stir in the tomatoes, and a double handful of crunchy bread salad croutons. Let it sit a bit, for the croutons to soak up the dressing and soften.

In a perfect world you would serve it over greens, like fresh baby spinach leaves or your choice of lettuces.  But you might just have a little 'taste' so many times for quality control, there isn't any left to put over the greens.

flowerin' at work...

Friday, October 9, 2015
... instead of the usual food prep. business that I normally devote my time to. Working with my most favorite co-worker, doing the thing that I signed onto do nearly eighteen years ago when I applied for the job. Which was: part time floral person. To replace the full time guy on the two days when he was not working. At the time, I was perfectly content working sixteen hours a week and getting that pitiful little paycheck that was my own money. A pretty big deal for someone who had been out of the workforce for years and totally dependent on someone else for every cent I received and spent.

So today, instead of doing what I don't much want to do, and do not enjoy, I get to do something I really do like  - the reason I applied for the job all those years ago. And spend the day working with someone I enjoy too! The full time guy/'floral specialist' has taken an order to be picked up at noon on Saturday for a big wedding. I will do other things to free up his time so he can get it all done: in addition to brides' flowers, there are four bridesmaids bouquets, lots of corsages and boutennaires, 25 fresh flower centerpieces for reception tables.

I spent several hours yesterday putting out freight: fresh cut flowers arriving from south America via warehouse, and trying to get dozens of mum plants watered. Helping to be sure all the roses and hydrangeas needed for wedding are set aside so they won't get sold before he can put it all together. He's such a thorough, conscientious, meticulous guy, always wanting everything he does for a customer to be perfect. Usually against tremendous odds, as many times the customer is not really sure about what they expect the finished product to look like.

As you can imagine, brides can be very 'difficult'... while actually being totally oblivious on the Big Day. Not actually remembering the least details about how the flowers looked or what someone did or said... it just gets lost in the shuffle. But there will be photographs for looking back on to remember the perfect day.

you might fall out of bed...

Thursday, October 8, 2015
...laughing, if you are in bed when you read this, due to the fact that I am writing it at 10:30 at night - pretty much past my bed time. But I just got home from going to a movie and want to share. I will not tell you about the one I actually sat through. But when you hear what I paid for and did not see, it will be sort of amusing.

The back story: I took my kids to see the very first Jurassic Park movie when it came out about twenty years ago. Hard to believe we are all that old! It is likely that they had friends who had been, and with everyone else 'in the know' and talking about it, I am sure they convinced me they were pitifully deprived and tragically mistreated. So I waited until the movie came to the discount theater, you know: 'cheap seats', and we went to see the dinosaur flick for 99 cents.

As soon as those things with scales, reptilian eyes, and big sharp teeth came out of the jungle, we were all scootched down, hiding behind the seats in front of us, hoping to not be noticed or eaten. Peeping out to be sure we didn't miss any of the action, while fearful of being spotted and consumed. It was a fairly small theater and we were remarkably close to the screen. And, I think, the only people in the room - so definitely the bait when the big toothy things caught sight of quivering little us.

After maybe fifteen minutes of that sneaking and peeping business, I realized we were not people who needed to be in there, waiting to be lunch for hybridized fossils. So I said: Let's go, and gathered my little peeps up and out we went. I even stopped by the ticket booth and asked for a refund, saying something to the effect of that was not something we needed to be seeing. I am sure the ticket girl and concession stand people got a big laugh out of the sissies as they beat a safe retreat. But we did get home, and have yet to be eaten by reconstituted dinosaurs.

I thought I wanted to go see the new Jurassic Park movie. Got there late, missed all the trailers, and commercial advertising, and walked in as the kids were getting to the theme park. Even if you do not know anything about the story, you can surmise the plot revolves around the hungry, aggressive, sharp-clawed, remarkably fast creatures getting out of the well-designed reinforced enclosure that was certified impregnable. And wreaking havoc in the happy, bouncy, cheerful, fun-filled theme park, gobbling up the unsuspecting vacationing families.

So when we got to the part where the ground shakes because the ginormous dinosaur comes thumping and rattling through of the thick green forest, and showed his gleaming unblinking eye and sparkly sharp incisors, I said: "Ohmygoodness. I am in the wrong place." And got up to go across the hall and enjoy the Avengers. Yay! for Superheroes!

And ultimately, I thought: what in the world was I thinking, how could I have possibly felt I really wanted to see the gory mess of resurrected dinos pulling people limb from limb? Even if it is only SFX? Yuck.

a year later....

...if you have been with me a loonnnggg time, reading the meanderings and muse-ings over the years, you know the back story about my employment. I did  not mean to get into the cooking arena, but backed into the food demo. work last October when I wanted to work more than eight hours a week. The reduced schedule was a result of  'slow sales, what happened when the decision was made that as a part time employee, I am the most expendable.

Historically, I tend towards mild paranoia: in a good way. Continually trying to gauge intentions, guessing at motivations, in an effort to figure out how people think, what is going on inside their heads that causes (occasionally bizarre) behavior. So I look back and wonder if there might have been an ulterior motive in the changes made in my work schedule? Who know? Certainly not me.

But as it evolved, the cooking job became my primary occupation for most of the past year. Until recent months, over the summer, when there was  more work to be done in the produce department. Where I had been happily plodding away before labor hour 'shortage' last fall. Managers claimed that the sales and demand for fresh merchandise had diminished to the point that there was no need for my time, and 'production numbers' were too low to schedule me in that area.

I knew to expect my 'job class' would change as the scheduling provided more hours in a specific position ,after I began working the cooking demo., meaning over 50% of my time. The actual change did not occur until February, and resulted in a pay cut. Discussed at great length with anyone who would listen, as well as some who did not want to know, and quite a few who do not care a whit as it does not affect their income.

But, here it is: October again.  Now it appears I might be 'officially' going back into the former job. Inadvertently and likely accidently, due to the simple math of working more hours in the floral and produce prep area over the summer months.  I recently had  conversation with the store manager about hours vs hours. We will see how this pans out....

cookin' at work...(fresh pear and aruglua salad)

Wednesday, October 7, 2015
...today, I made something that was really good, and I would probably duplicate at home, though I am likely the only one who would eat it. And if I ate the whole recipe, I would be pretty miserable... so on second thought, maybe I won't make it after all. But it was really good, so I will share the goodness here...

Pear and arugula salad

2 ripe Bartlett pears, sliced thin
2 Tbs. blue cheese crumbles
1/2 cup diced walnuts
1 bag fresh arugula leaves (about 5 oz.)
1/4 cup apple vinaigrette (or poppy seed) dressing (I was using a Panera product: apple dressing)

Slice pear thin. Toss with dressing to prevent discoloring. Add cheese and nuts. Toss well. Add greens. Toss to coat.

I am really not a big fan of arugula, as I would rather have something that has more body/crunch to it, and think it would be just as good with romaine. But for those of you who just love to say 'arugula, arugula, arugula', you can use that if you prefer. I quartered the pears, cut the core out, and sliced thin so every bite of salad had a bit of pear in it. The pears were really not quite ripe, pretty hard rather than softening like they should be for 'ripe', so if you used some that were not as firm as your average apple, the salad would have more flavor.

after going to the grocery store...

..and buying two boxes of 'oyster crackers', with the plan to make those wonderfully tasty, high-sodium, probably bad-for-you snack crackers, I would like to share the recipe. And give the benefit of learning from my mistakes. Oddly enough, years ago, I would  not admit to mistakes. And now find them excellent fodder for sharing in my meandering blog.

The recipe, exactly as it was passed along to me:
Oyster cracker/Ranch Dressing munchies
2 - 12 oz boxes small oyster crackers (the kind they sell to add as a topping for soup)
3/4 cup cooking oil
1 tsp. dill weed
1 tsp. garlic powder (not garlic salt)
1 -2 oz. packet Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing -DRY (do not mix to make salad dressing)

Put crackers in zipper bag. Mix remaining ingredients, pour over crackers. Zip, mix thoroughly. Refrigerate for two days.

Walking through the store, with a list, looking for Cheez-its on sale, I noticed boxes of oyster crackers, and bought two. Thinking I know people who really like to eat this, and I would make some for that person. Remembering a box of the dressing mix in the cupboard - the most important ingredient, and could 'wing it' with the other stuff.

My boxes of crackers were 14 ounces: too much to go in a gallon zipper bag. If you stuff those 28 ounces of crackers in one bag, your bag is 'way too full. You enough room in the zipped-up bag for the crackers to move around easily. They need to be continually 'stirred' to get coated with the flavor mix, and there are just too many wee little crackers in the bag to be able to wiggle around and get them all covered with the oil and spices.

But I was well past the point of no return before I made this decision: had already poured the seasoning over the crackers. Then tried to put them in a bowl. So, my advice to you:  either leave half of one box out, reserved for soup, or put it in two bags. I've divided mine into two bags, after spilling dozens of crackers on the counter top. And will bring home more ranch mix to stir up and add for them to get really salty and tasty.

Or you could actually follow the recipe, and purchase the ingredients in the proper amounts. But why would you want to follow the recipe as per instructions? When you can just make it up as you go along, changing quantities and substituting on a whim?  Flying by the seat of your pants?

not original...

Monday, October 5, 2015
but something that seems to be so applicable to lots of different aspects of daily living and worth printing, provided  here for your edification and pondering. Before we get started, I will have to give credit to Martha Beck, who writes an advice column in the "O" magazine. The heading for the article is 'Advice for the Ages'.

Five rules for Lasting Joy

1. Honesty Is the Best Policy. When we weave webs of deception, we need to expend enormous mental energy to prevent them from tangling; as a result we're left with less brainpower for solving real problems.
2. Give up on Toxic People. Many people become wiser, calmer and emotionally healthier with age and experience. Others display neither psychological health nor interest in changing. You may have already spent much of your life trying to get the love you deserve and need from someone in the second group. I'm sorry, but that love will not be forthcoming. Go find people who are willing to love you.
3. Let It Go. According to neuroscientist Jill Bolte Taylor, PhD, when you feel an emotion caused by a negative event, it takes only 90 seconds for the body to process the resulting stress and return to its baseline setting. Next time you're overwhelmed by a terrible situation, dive in for 90 seconds. Don't think, just feel. It will be over very soon.
4. Trust Your Gut.  Complex thought has its place, but your senses are your most effective tool. Thoughts can 'spin' our reactions to what we encounter, while gut-deep impulses we get from instinct are usually more honest.
5. You're More Powerful Than You Know.  We stumble into the delusion of powerlessness in our lives because we are afraid of how other people would react if we did what we wanted. But it's our job to defy that fear, no matter what others may say or do, and to trust that love will carry us through.

It's made me think of people I encounter who seem to critical, constantly berating others (especially children!), or chronically negative, and realize it behooves all of us to spend as little time as possible with folks who are forever grumping about how the world is such a terrible place and they are so mistreated and put-upon. And remember the guy who said, when he was listening to someone  complaining about standing in a long line at the bank or grocery check out: 'It beats being dead.'


...is sponsoring a contest for recipes. I was all excited about sending in recipes and winning a wonderful prize. And now I find out that employees and family members are not eligible. Sad. I had a couple of really good ideas, and was very optimistic about winning a gift card that I could use to buy groceries.

So if you have a good chicken recipe and would like to enter it in the contest, now is the time. The deadline is October 14, so you need to jump on it. Several prizes to be awarded: Grand, First and Runner-up. All winners will receive what amounts to free groceries in the form of a store gift card for varying amounts. 

Not that I would precisely 'count my chickens before they hatch', but after poking around in my recipe cards and finding several that are tried and true, easy and tasty, I was very hopeful. Then went on line last night and looked at the contest rules to discover the sad truth that my enthusiasm disqualifies me. Due to being an employee, someone who enjoys the cooking demo. and making good things to eat, feeding passers-by, I cannot enter the contest.

sincerely tired...

Saturday, October 3, 2015
... so much so that I came home from work in the middle of the day and took a nap. After going in at 6 a.m. and working till noon, feeling jet-lagged the whole morning as a result of not getting enough rest overnight. I decided I should grant myself a reprieve: had an hour long nap.

But then I went back to work for another four hours of standing on my feets. Put in  a total of ten hours today, so expecting to go to bed too early, which means I will wake up much too early. Then lay in the dark for several hours pondering life, thinking profound thoughts (that should be recorded for posterity but won't.)  Wishing I could sleep more, but not able to turn off  my brain, and using the time to  practice thankfulness.

undecided, then decided...but certain about thankfulness...

... though I spent most of the day in a quandary, debating within myself on Friday. Trying to know whether I would spend the night in Decatur and have to get up in the wee hours to drive for two hours to be at work at 6:00 a.m. Trying to gauge where to sleep: whether I would be so tired I could not safely drive back to sleep in my own bed on Friday night, or whether it would be foolish to take a chance on being so weary I might doze off while driving 72 m.p.h. south on I-185.

In the end, at ten o'clock on Friday night, the decision was to 'take a chance'.  I was listening to a talking book that has been really interesting, enough to keep my awake for the two hours from Atlanta to get home and fall into bed at nearly midnight. And get four or five hours of sleep, then drag my weary bones to work before daylight.

I woke in the middle of the night to a bright light alarmingly flashing in the house. The florescent bulb that is always on in the kitchen was attempting to burn out. After I got over with heart-racing panic, I went and turned it off. Then back to bed to sleep another hour or so before slouching off to meet the time clock.

The 'tipping point' in the decision making process: when I was driving through downtown Atlanta, I noticed a man on the sidewalk. Literally. In front of one of those pull down grates that keep people from entering the exit in a parking deck. A little alcove off the sidewalk, but right out there on the public thoroughfare. He was making his little pallet to lay down, going to bed on the sidewalk. As soon as I got to the next corner, where I had to stop for a traffic light to change, I got out my little book of thankfulness. 

And wrote: "Home - a place to be warm and dry, sleep safely."

drivin' in the nearly rain...

Friday, October 2, 2015
...this morning when I left home in the dark and drizzle. Just enough stuff dripping from the clouds to have to keep the windshield wipers on the entire time. Headed to metro. to spend the day. As usual trying to get into town and off the highly-trafficked interstate highway before the millions who commute. So I left home at just after five o'clock and arrived in Decatur about 7:00 a.m.

Getting periodic email notices about events that occur at the gardens and greenhouses at Perimeter College, that sorely tempt me to buy things to plant. It has not yet been convenient for me to attend on the days the greenhouses are open for sales, but sucker that I am for native plants/perennials: I am hoping to go today. I wrote some months ago, back in the early summer, about going to the gardens where a former instructor/retired professor at the college has planted a gazillion ferns from his world travels. Sadly, I am must confess: also a fool for ferns.

I understand from the email that the Perimeter College botany students propagate the plants that are for sale. I am lead to believe they are mostly plants that are native to our region, either state or southeastern US and will be hardy when planted in our area. I don't really feel the urge to plant anything else in my yard, but am pretty sure if I go, I can find something that is tragically lacking and desperately needed to complete my local landscape.

cookin' at work again...(dijon crusted pork loin)

...on Thursday afternoon, which is one of the two 'half days' at the Aprons booth. There are, in this particular store, a couple of days each week, that the cooking demo. only runs in the afternoon, during what is commonly known as 'drive time', when there is the most customer/foot traffic passing through.  Tuesday and Thursday are the two short days. The hours of operation for the food demonstration are different from store to store, depending on demographics.  I assume based upon obscure, technical, confusing set of carefully chosen and highly classified numbers having to do with geography/location, traffic patterns, P & L, etc.

The recipe I prepared three times on Thursday was probably really good, but since it started off with parts of a hog, I did not taste it. And told a number of people who stopped long enough to have a brief conversation I would make it with chicken tenders/strips if doing it at home. There are enough flavorful ingredients involved that the end product would be tasty with any type of protein you choose to use.

You dip the (meat of your choice) in spicy mustard then coat with crunchy crumbs to insure it will come out of the oven nice and crispy. And make this wonderful topping/sauce to add as you serve. The sauce being so yummy you might want to save to drink out of a cup, though the recipe recommends you could serve over gnocchi as a quick side dish.

The pork loin available at my workplace is vacuum packed, and averages just over two pounds. My suggestion to customers who sounded like they would make it at home: take the roast selection back to the meat dept. to have them cut it in half. Put the other half in the freezer for another meal, or in the crock pot to cook overnight.

I don't usually remember to bring the recipe home to be able to give specifics. But thought it sounds both good and easy, so likely be something I would make though changing the meat to one I would actually eat.  I would not put the effort into making a dish I would not consume.

The following recipe is from Aprons. I hope I will not go to jail for repeating it here... perhaps I should alter to avoid a long sentence due to copyright infringement? Ingredients and measurements are according to recipe, though I have changed the instructions slightly in self defense.

Dijon-onion crusted pork                                               prep. time: about 25  minutes

1 Tbs. canola oil (I just sprayed the metal baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray)
3/4 cup French fried onion rings, coarsely crushed
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs, combined with onions in zip top bag
1 pound pork tenderloin, sliced about 1 inch thick (or alternate meat of your choice)
2 Tbs. spicy mustard + 1/2 tsp. kosher salt + 1/4 tsp. pepper, mix in bowl
Topping/sauce: 1 oz. sharp white cheddar cheese. shredded
                          1 cup roasted garlic Alfredo sauce
                          1 can (6 ox.) mushroom steak sauce (combine these three in micro-safe bowl to heat)
Preheat oven to 400. Coat baking sheet with oil. Coat meat with mustard mixture, then place in zipper bag with crumbs to coat. patting to insure good coverage.  Place meat on cooking sheet, bake for 10 min., then turn and bake 6 or 7 min. more. Check with meat thermometer for doneness: 145 degrees.
Heat topping/sauce ingredients and serve over meat. Serves four.

The side dish on the same recipe card sounds so yummy I would like to eat the whole thing, though the recipe indicates it serves four. Which means I would have to go lay down and rest after consuming the bowl of caprese salad. It's the basil pesto that calls my name.

8 oz.  fresh mozzarella cheese, cubed
2 medium tomatoes, coarsely chopped (home grown would be wonderful!)
1/4 cup plain, unflavored low-fat Greek yogurt
1/4 cup basil pesto sauce

Dice cheese and tomatoes. Combine pesto and yogurt in medium bowl, add cheese and tomato. Stir just until well coated. Even better if it sits a bit to improve melding of flavors.

Several customers/tasters reported the salad was 'bland', and suggested salt. I do not routinely pick up a salt shaker, as the person who eats my cooking at home always salts before tasting. I rarely add salt to anything I prepare, knowing he will cover his food with salt prior to picking up a fork, But a little sprinkle of coarse salt might help to give it more flavor.

a cautionary tale...

Thursday, October 1, 2015
... for those who might not be aware of the value of paranoia. In our world of lurkers and peepers who seem to have electronic eyes and ears, it pays to be careful with any personal information. I have heard two people in the past couple of days comment about 'misplaced' debit cards. Which may or may not be actually lost, possibly in the washer or dryer,  or may or may not have fallen into the hands of devious miscreants. So you cannot be too careful with valuable personal property or privileged info.

So here is my suggestion. Not original by any means, but worth knowing about and pretty simple to do. It's not going to actually save you any grief or aggravation should you lose, misplace or have your wallet stolen. But it will definitely make what you will have to do after the fact a much less painful.

Go to the nearest copy machine. At work, at the library or at the copy/office supply store. Put everything in your wallet down on the glass and make copies. Front and back. Photo ID, credit cards, insurance cards, anything that your routinely carry on your person and would struggle to find numbers to cancel or replace. Put this info. in a safe place like file cabinet, or where you might store valuable papers like power of attorney, will, etc. Let people who would need to know where they can find the paperwork.

If you are away from home, and disaster should befall, or out of the country and have a crisis, someone needs to know where to find the important paperwork you will need. So be sure you have it stored in a place family members have access to. Putting your Living Will in a safe deposit box is not a smart idea, as it will take a court order following legal snarls to access - and by then: you are gone.

Go - right now. Make copies of everything in your wallet. Except money. That's a federal offense.