Bella Rum

Life on the Pasture

Looking at Houses

After three practically sleepless nights in a row, I slept eight straight hours last night. Oh, my! What a difference that makes. Life is so much easier when you sleep.

Boy, did I ever have fun yesterday. I love spending time with my niece. We helped her move some of her things. When we finished unloading and moving it all into the storage unit, she showed us the stats on a house that was in her price range. She had more “moving” things to do so H and I did a ride-by for her. It was a charming little house: good roof, good neighborhood (which isn’t always true in her price range), large deck in the back, and lovingly maintained.

The photos of the inside were even better.

I called her and told her to drop everything and get her realtor to book a showing for her. She called her realtor, but it had gone under contract that day. It was only on the market two days. Things are flying off the market especially well-maintained and updated homes.

In the afternoon, we looked at two other houses with her. One was very much like the one we rode by, but it had not been lovingly maintained or updated, and the lot was a difficult one – especially for a single woman – with a steep bank in the backyard. It would be difficult for even a young man.

I love looking at houses. It’s even more fun when I don’t have to buy one. I will compulsively look online at everything that hits the market in her price range until she finds something.

Yellow in the Pasture Again

Insomnia! It gets tiresome. This is the third night in a row that I’ve had to get out of bed in the middle of the night. Sleeping is a job for me.

We’re meeting at my niece’s house this morning to help her move more of her things to a storage unit. Her closing is coming quickly, but she still hasn’t found a house. She isn’t very happy about that, but she has a place to stay until she finds something. We helped her last week, too, and a couple of her friends helped. It went fast – only a few hours. Her house is small, she doesn’t have a ton of stuff, and she’s organized. She had already staged all the boxes and small things at the front door. We’ll finish up next week. Not having to do all of it in one day makes it much easier. H is a fantastic mover. That man loves to work. That kind of thing never changes in a person. My son is the same way.

We made reservations for our vacation yesterday. The most obnoxious woman answered the phone. Maybe she was having a bad day. I ended up making the reservations online, which is what I should have done to begin with. I usually enjoy vacation once I get there, but H loves it. He’s a fun person to vacation with.

The pasture is yellow with buttercups again. Winter has finally been clubbed into submission. H pulled out my big turquoise planters a few days ago. Soon I will fill them with something pretty. The hostas and columbine and peonies are up. All must be well.

Mind Monsters and Blue Apron Comes to an End

I woke at 2:00 am this morning and never went back to sleep. I checked today to see if the moon was full last night. It was… 100% full. There you have it.  My mind wouldn’t turn off. That’s never good. Next thing I know, the mind monsters show up. I’ve learned to get up and busy my mind with something else. Most of the time that shoves them out of my head, and I can pretend that life will always be this good. I don’t tell you often enough how fortunate I am, and how much I realize it.

Let’s close out these Blue Apron posts. I’ve abused you enough.

Photo found on Google Images

We made our last two meals from Blue Apron this week. A few days ago, we made Chicken Under a “Brick.”  It’s cooked in olive oil in a non-stick frying pan on top of the stove. The instructions said to put water in a sauce pan, and sit it on top of the chicken (in lieu of a brick I guess), but…

there were two bricks in the garage that I’ve saved for years, and moved with us to each new house. One was from the foundation of my grandfather’s house after it burned down. The other was from the original Sand Castle Hotel in Myrtle Beach where we vacationed when we were younger. The lady who managed the Sand Castle saved it for us when it was demolished. H wrapped them in foil, put them in a cast iron pan, and placed them on top of the chicken. Voilà!

Spinach pizza was our very last Blue Apron meal. Another pic from Google. That’s pretty much what ours looked like.

I’d never made homemade pizza. It was way delicious, but someone at Blue Apron forgot to put the pizza dough in the box. Oops. We used Stefano’s Pizza Dough from Food Lion. It was good and easy to work with. They have a website with a video. 

We went to a play on Sunday afternoon. Most of my clothes are casual. I only have one or two “good” outfits. A lot of older people attend the Sunday matinées. Every time I go to the theater, I think I need to shop for new clothes. Where do these ladies find these great outfits? Maybe I should consider walking into a brick & mortar store, and trying things on. What a novel idea.

Lunch, Refrigerators, Washers and HVAC

Patsy will be here around noon for lunch. The refrigerator repair guy is here now. H is in there talking to him. The guy is telling him all about it. H loves this stuff. He wants a play-by-play if possible. I just want an ice maker that makes ice and doesn’t leak. This is the fourth time we’ve had him out here. Instead of repairing the old one, he is replacing it with a new one this time. Let’s hope this one works for more than 18 months.

Oh, and the washer wouldn’t do its cycle this morning. It kept making funny noises. I cancelled the load and started all over, and it worked the second time. Fingers crossed.

Lunch is as simple as it gets. Grilled ham and cheese sandwich, potato chips for Patsy (not us), and lemon thins and coffee for dessert. The only time I eat bread anymore is when I’m with someone else for lunch. I splurge.

My DIL just texted that the HVAC guys are at her house to install a new heating/ac unit, AND it’s the kids’ first day of spring break. So she’ll have those guys and three kids all day. That right there puts my mean-reds’ post into perspective. What’s a little itchy eye and a headache? Absolutely nuthin’.

Honestly? Do you know anyone whose junk breaks down more often than ours?


The Mean Reds

The sky is dark and low. The horizon looks heartless and powerful. I can hear the rumblings in the distance, like pilings being pound into the ground. So dark. A storm is brewing outside and inside, too. I’ve been out of sorts ever since I got out of bed this morning. Don’t really know why. I guess it’s just a case of the mean reds, as Holly Golightly would say. I came in here just to give H a break. He’s finding busy stuff to do until I regain my equanimity. I don’t blame him. I would avoid me, too… if I could.

My eye is bothering me: burning and itching. I don’t think it’s a thing more than simple dryness, plus it is that time of year. I’ve applied Systane drops to my left eye about six times this morning. It’s so hard not to roll my lower lid down and scratch it with a toothbrush. I tried a warm compress instead, and that seems to have helped. We dry out so much as we age, like dehydrated fruit. If someone asked me for advice (which they wouldn’t) about aging, I’d tell them to floss and lubricate. 

The packaging for our brown eggs from Blue Apron.
They arrived in tact. 

We had the most incredible dinner last night, kale and white cheddar quesadillas (with eggs and radishes). I wouldn’t have put that combination together in a lifetime, and I didn’t expect it to be that good. Boy, but it was. We’ve enjoyed the Blue Apron experiment more than I even expected. I’ve eaten far more greens (vitamin K helps with clotting) recently because we chose a couple of meals that included serious K greens. A couple of weeks ago, my INR indicated that my blood was too thin, but after eating all that K, my lab work was perfect on Tuesday.

Patsy is coming for lunch tomorrow. We’re helping my niece move some of her things to storage on Saturday, and we’re going to a play on Sunday. It looks to be a busy few days, all positive things.

I guess I’ve written myself out of the mean reds. I’m feeling better. So I’ll leave you here.


Correction for previous post:

If you were thinking that a 7-calorie lemon thin cookie was too good to be true, you were right. Trader Joe’s Meyer Lemon Cookie Thins are 14 calories per cookie, and they’re great with a cup of coffee. If you put 50 calories of cream in the coffee, they’re even better.

Brain Burps and the Beautiful People

I bought a new swimsuit yesterday. I haven’t worn one in ages. Oh lordy. It’s not a traditional suit. It’s more like a swim tee and shorts. I’m sure you’ve seen the style. It will hide things that need to be concealed. I found it online at Swimsuits for All. I want to go in the ocean and the pool. I miss it.

There was a little confusion when I went to checkout. I’d seen an offer for free shipping, but when I got to checkout, they didn’t remove the shipping charge. So I hit the “chat” button and had an online exchange with customer service. This is how it went.

Me: I saw an offer for free shipping, but I still see a charge for it on my purchase.

Sarah: Where did you see the offer.

Me: At the top of the page.

Sarah: We usually give a code to use at checkout when we offer free shipping. Did you get a code.

Me: No. I didn’t see a code.

Sarah: I’m very sorry, but we don’t have an offer for free shipping today.

Me: That’s okay. I think I may be wrong. I was shopping on another site and may have seen it there. I’m old. LOL So sorry to have bothered you. I will get the merchandise anyway. Thanks for your help.

Sarah: Oh LOL! No problem! My pleasure. Have a great day!

Holy Moly! I know anyone could have done the same thing (right?), but I hate it. At least I haven’t burned the house down (that’s a joke).

We went over to West End yesterday to get olive oil from Tom Leonard’s, lemon thin cookies from Trader Joe’s and a few other things. There’s a lot of money on that side of town, and they were all in Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods. I once heard a doctor say that there are clusters of people across the US who refuse to vaccinate their kids. He said if you stuck pins in a map where they lived, all the pins would be within ten miles of a Whole Foods. LOL A little truth in every joke… um… except about burning the house down.

But I digress. We got my 14-calorie lemon thins at Trader Joe’s, and some hot sauce that H likes. We were behind an older woman in line. I nudged H and said, “She’s attractive.” And she was. She was probably older than us: slender, lovely posture, all the facial bone structure still in place, snazzy clothes, great earrings, her Trader Joe’s reusable grocery bag at the ready, and a buttery bouquet of daffodils in with her other purchases. You could tell she was beautiful when young. Bone structure don’t go nowhere when the face starts to melt. It’s as good as money under the mattress.

Those daffodils said something about her. She deserved to have something beautiful, not a necessity but simply a lovely thing. She reminded me of my Aunt Ruthie, except Aunt Ruthie would never have bought daffodils. She was both frugal and a devoted gardener; she had hundreds of daffodils in her yard.

Then I turned to my left, and there was a movie-star gorgeous older man with salt & pepper hair (almost all salt), a flat stomach, sporting casual but elegant clothes, and a $200 haircut to top it all off, and… you guessed it… more great bone structure.

What is it about that side of town? You can’t throw a rock without hitting a beautiful, chic person. Not at Trader Joe’s anyway. They are everywhere you look. Is it in the water, or do beautiful people become rich more easily. Does it help if you’re irresistible?

H found a leak in the roof over the garage. He also bought a lottery ticket.

The Blue Apron Experience

The Arrival

Our Blue Apron adventure arrived on our doorstep in a big box on Friday afternoon. It contained three meals. An ice blanket was in the bottom of the box, and the ingredients were on top. We chose Creamy Red Rice & Cauliflower Casserole (with spinach and rosemary) for our first meal.

As a main course, the portion size was just enough for two people, but H wasn’t going to eat only a meatless casserole for dinner, so we added some leftover salmon from the fridge to the meal, and served the casserole as a side dish. That way we had leftovers. We both liked it very much, and it was a nice complement to the salmon.

The Ingredients

Everything you will need to make your meal is in the box. Everything was fresh and beautiful, all tip-top quality.  I will say that the ingredients are meticulously measured. Someone is watching the bottom line. Nothing is wasted. That’s for sure. The way they packaged and labeled the ingredients cracked me up. There was an itty-bitty packet of red pepper flakes, and the smallest head of cauliflower I’ve ever seen. H laughed at the cauliflower, saying he didn’t know a head of cauliflower could be that small, but it turned out to be just the right amount for the recipe.

I helped with some of the prep, but H did most of the work. When the dish came out of the oven, everything was balanced: the flavors, the texture, the portions. And why don’t I use rosemary more often? More herbs in general?

Blue Apron’s Photo of Creamy Red Rice & Cauliflower Casserole (with spinach and rosemary)

How it Works

The kids gave H a gift certificate that was enough for six meals for two people. You choose three meals per week, and your box of goodies magically appears on your doorstep on the agreed upon day. If you’re going on vacation, or for any reason don’t want to receive your meals on your chosen date, you can skip to the next week with (I think) 6-days’ notice. Nutritional facts, and directions with colorful pictures on how to prepare your meal are included so you can make your recipe again with your own ingredients. H says he may do an extra one or two because it was fun.  As some of you have said in the comments, it is expensive, and when they say “for two” they mean it, no leftovers.

All in All

I view Blue Apron more as a creative gift idea for a special person, or maybe a splurge for yourself, but not as a regular way of getting your dinner. It’s too expensive (we were lucky to get to try this for free :)). I enjoy gifts like this, gifts that are experiences more than things that end up in landfills, or something you have to store, or a sweater that’s the wrong size. Books (audible now) and tickets to a play are great (both of which the kids have given us); I keep thinking about golf lessons for H. When the experience is over, you still have a fun memory. And it’s a bonus when someone gives you a gift that you enjoy, but would never get for yourself. This is that kind of gift. It definitely beats plaid Bermuda shorts. It takes a little time and a few steps: chopping, sautéing, boiling, grating. Not bad really, but it’s for people who like to cook. If that’s not you, order take-out or give a gift certificate to a restaurant. My only problem with it is that it’s pricy, and I hate for the kids to spend so much on us. Bottom line: this was fun, the food was tasty, it’s a unique and tailor-made gift for the right person… and it has a beat you can dance to!

Taxes and Food Talk

It’s raining and the windows are open from the tops so I can hear it. I love the sound of rain.

H does the taxes. He finished and filed them on Tuesday. In the past, there have been times when tax time was a thorny issue for us: him because he likes to procrastinate, and me because I want it over and done. He likes things open-ended, and I like things completed, finalized. Both Myers & Briggs say so. Neither is necessarily bad, just different. I respect deadlines. To H, deadlines are only a suggestion. He wants to explore all his options before finalizing anything. I’ll never forget – before filing online was a twinkle in his daddy’s eye – the time that H and I waited in a long line of cars outside the post office on April 15 to hand off our taxes to a post office person as we drove by… only minutes before midnight. He said, “See. On time.” Well, this year’s taxes have been filed well before the deadline, and everyone can relax… um, that would be me. If you’ve been paying attention, you know that H was never not relaxed.

I’ve nested the past couple of days. I did tons of laundry. I stripped beds, washed sheets and towels, and clothes, etc. I dusted, cleaned bathrooms and deep cleaned the kitchen, and scurried  all over this place doing this and that. I seldom do all that at once, and I don’t always love it, but I still get in the mood once in a while. It feels good to get everything just right in your house. I kind of enjoy puttering around and fussing with this or that, and I’m too cheap to pay someone to do it, but I will gladly do that when the time comes.

The kids gave H Blue Apron for his birthday. They send everything needed for your chosen meals – vegetables, meat, pasta, herbs, etc – and the instructions for preparation.  The kids know H is a budding chef. He has such enthusiasm for it. I’ve never had the love for cooking that my mother, father and siblings have/had. They were all good cooks, my mother and brother the best of the lot. But now that H enjoys it so much, I enjoy being in the kitchen a lot more than I ever have. It’s more entertainment than work for me now. We’ve already chosen our meals, and I just got an email from Blue Apron reminding me that our first dinner will arrive today. I’m interested to see how this turns out.

My son cooked H’s birthday meal. I was impressed. I honestly didn’t know he could do all that. I should have known, huh? But H and I usually do the cooking. He has grilled for us before, but there was all kinds of goodness in this meal. He grilled rib eye steaks, sweet potatoes, a mixture of vegetables: red and yellow bell peppers, tomatoes, and onions. Then, separately, he made the most delicious mushrooms drizzled with a mixture of olive oil, garlic, and herby yumminess. H is going to make those again. Men love to grill, don’t they? And I say, have at it! I’ll do my part: eat and gush appropriately.

When the kids were here last weekend, I dreamed that my DIL was pregnant. After they got home, she texted me that she felt nauseous all the way home. The power of suggestion is a mighty thing… or…

A Sign

H is officially a septuagenarian now. I told him that 70 is the  official cut-off date for climbing ladders, trees and traipsing around on rooftops. This cracked my son up. Men love it when another man’s wife “nags” him – even when it’s his own father. Of course, we all know, H will not listen to me.  His compromise: he will cut the dead limb out of the big maple in the front yard when I’m not home, “so it won’t bother you.”

We enjoyed a beautiful day on Monday. We drove about an hour to a small seaside town, ate a delicious seafood meal with a water view, drove around the town a bit and returned home. Such a simple thing, but very enjoyable.

I was in the grocery store the other day, looking for the Honey Nut Cheerios box. I wanted to see if there were boxes still on the shelf featuring Buzz on the box. Cheerios pulled their mascot Buzz the Bee to bring attention to the rapidly collapsing population of bees. Our tiny, little bees work hard for us in a huge way by pollinating 35% of the world’s food supply. Due to parasites, pesticides and habitat loss, they are struggling. This year, a bee species in the US was declared endangered. That’s a first.

So I was looking for the box when a woman on the same aisle said, “Here it is. He’s still on this box.” We chatted about the bees and their troubles for a minute, and I started on my way when she said, “It’s a sign, you know.” I quickly said, “Yes” and kept walking. Then with an all-knowing tone and louder, “It’s a sign, you know.” Uh, huh. Got it. To make sure I didn’t forget, for the rest of the day, H kept reminding me, “It’s a sign, you know.”

The sad truth is that it is “a sign.” A sign that we’re all going to be hungry if we can’t help Buzz and his friends. I’ve listed ten things that we can do to help bees. We may not be able to do all ten things, but maybe there’s one thing each of us can do. There’s a link at the bottom that will give more details.

Ten Things We can do to Help Bees

  1. Plant a bee-friendly wildflower and flowering herb garden in your yard.
  2. Weeds can be a good thing.
  3. Don’t use chemicals and pesticides in your yard.
  4. Buy local raw honey.
  5. Bees are thirsty. Put a small basin of water outside your home.
  6. Buy local organic food.
  7. Learn how to be a beekeeper with sustainable practices.
  8. Understand that honey bees aren’t out to get you.
  9. Share solutions with others in your community.
  10. Let congress know what you think.

Learn more at Queen of the Sun