Saturday, August 31, 2013

To The Nines...

So, a few posts back, we alluded to an exciting surprise we had for y’all! We didn’t want to mention it at the beginning of this year, or even three months later, or even six months ago, because, frankly, we weren’t sure we could keep up our goal for 2013.

At the end of 2012 (a very IMPORTANT year for TLC—and ELC!), we discussed the fact that we had several months where we barely had done seven or eight posts. When we started this blog, we wanted to post two to three times a week. Preferably three. Sometimes we've accomplished this, sometimes we haven't. At any rate, we made a commitment to each other that we would set a goal of writing nine (9) posts each month in 2013. First, this is Little Leighton’s (LL) Life Path number in Numerology.  But, mostly, it seemed do-able. Possible. Not too difficult—even with challenging times.

We decided to keep it a secret from y’all—in case life happened and we had a month where we couldn’t quite get all nine done. (Maybe y’all have noticed we’ve been doing this? No. Okay. Not a big deal. Don’t feel bad. Well, not too bad.)

As luck would have it, we’ve struggled to get all nine posts this month. Hence why we’ve actually had to post two today!

About five months ago, ELC had a lightbulb moment. We could make the month of September (the ninth month, duh) a month of “Nines.” There will actually be eight posts with each of us telling you “9” things we love. Hate. Need. Want. Can’t live without. Won’t live without. Or the Top 9 Books We’ve Cherished. Or our Top 9 All-Time Favourite Movies. You get the picture.

The ninth post in September will be a wrap-up. Or a warning. About October’s posts (ELC swears to each of you there will be limited “pumpkin” posts. Cross her heart.)
Now it's time for all of us to celebrate the Labor Day holiday weekend by getting dressed TO THE NINES! (TLC thought I was going to say by eating cupcakes. Big, deep, SIGH. Silly Little Mama.)
Ciao for now, Sillies...

Happy Labor Day Weekend!

This is what I think of when I hear the word LABOR:


We hope y'all will be safe and have fun!

Hugs and Smooches from TLC and the Other Two Leighton Gals

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

75

Not how old I am. Yet. Have you a few years left before I reach that age—and I DO hope to make it to 75.

Not how many shows are on my three DVRs that I haven’t watched yet. That number is more like 175.

No. It’s the new speed limit on many roads in Texas. Specifically, the road that MSH and I must take to town for our grocery, cleaning, shopping, entertainment, etc. needs.

When I got my driver’s license (I got a “hardship” at age 15—long story), the speed limit on most highways in Texas was 70. In the early 70s, during a gas “crisis” in America, most roads, even highways, had a speed limit of 55. This, of course, was torturous. Even for moi, who pretty much drove like a “Granny Geezer” even when I was young.

The speed limit went to 65 in the late 80s. Then back to 70 in the late 90s.

I can’t quite figure out whose brilliant idea it was to change it to 75. Surely not the auto insurance companies. How stupid would they be to want that? Maybe the oil and gas lobbies? Trucking companies? (We're so happy they can go faster because they're no threat to our safety as it is.) I don’t know. But I am beyond disappointed in our State Senators and Representatives that allowed this to happen.

Here’s my argument/reasoning:

When the speed limit is 70, at least 65% of the people on the road, including the 18-wheelers, are going 75 or 80. 30% are going 70. 5% are going either 40 or 90. (These statistics are not scientific or even remotely legit. They are based on my own experience as an observer as I drive the highways of Texas.)

Now that it’s 75, too many people (at least my 65%) will be going 80 to 85. That’s ridiculous. Insane. cRaZy. S.T.U.P.I.D. Period.

I, of course, expect to continue to get dirty looks and awful gestures made to me as I stay around 72 or 73. I can handle it. That’s as fast as I’m going, folks. Sorry. I’ll continue to deal with the wrath and hatefulness I receive.

No one—especially inexperienced teens—NO ONE needs to be going 80 miles an hour anywhere. Not even in West Texas. Or New Mexico. Or Wyoming. Nowhere.

And that’s my opinion. For what it’s worth.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

This Silly Saturday...

…in North Central Texas, we’re having a cool-ish day with some light rain showers. Praise the Lord.  Unusual for August (and we are inches and inches behind)—but greatly appreciated!

Since it’s my turn to do a post, I decided I’d share two recent finds that I adore! My Sweet Hubby (MSH) gets credit for one find.


First, I discovered, about six weeks ago, Red Velvet Pop Tarts! RED VELVET. Pop Tarts. What could be better? I mean, seriously.

I’ve treasured Pop Tarts since they appeared on the food scene. Honestly? I have to not buy them. I can’t have them in my cupboards or that’s all I’ll eat for breakfast. At my age, I don’t need the sugar/carbs/empty calories. Hubby loves ‘em, too. (Although we have completely different tastes when it comes to the flavors we each like. He goes for the fruity kind. I go for the candy/chocolate/super bad kind.)

I fell in love with Red Velvet cake about forty years ago. (Remember: I’m not a cook/chef/baker. I had this culinary delight at someone else’s home.) It seems like it became the cake to make for a decade or so. (TLC thinks it may have been a “Southern” tradition for a time.) Then it kind of disappeared. When All Things Cupcake came to pass around the country—with cupcake shops poppin’ up in every big city and little itty-bitty town—Red Velvet made a comeback. Thank you. Thank you VERY much. Now, don’t get me wrong: These tarts aren’t as fabulous as a Sprinkles Red Velvet Cupcake. (TLC bought a Sprinkles’ Red Velvet Cupcake Kit from Williams-Sonoma a couple of Christmases ago and they were simply beyond scrumptious.) But these Pop Tarts? Yummy. Truly.

The Town House Pita Oven Baked Crackers were MSH’s discovery. He is a Cracker Fanatic. The man is cRaZy for crackers. After his heart “event” in April, he’s had to really watch his diet. But he still searches the grocery store aisles to find new and exciting treats for us to have with a bite of cheese or some salsa. These pitas ROCK. I'm here to tell you they are awesome. Baked. Light. The perfect amount of sea salt.

Hope y’all are having a WONDERFUL Weekend—wherever in the World you are!

hugs and smooches

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Laced Earrings, Chefs and Snacks

As you may recall, I have a "not-so-secret" addiction to General Hospital. Oh, yes. I do. My Sweet Little Leighton takes her afternoon nap around 1:30ish. Since that's smack dab in the middle of my soap, I've started DVR-ing (surely this is a word by now) it and watching the episodes at night after she drifts off to dreamland. One evening, ELC decided to join me. She's watched GH off-and-on for 30+ years. Though many of the characters are still the same, I was trying to catch her up quickly on the recent events surrounding Port Charles. Of course, I know soaps aren't meant to be taken seriously, but sometimes I forget how funny they can be. I started telling ELC about the backstory behind Luke's radiation poisoning. You see, Helena Cassadine laced his earring with Polonium-210. HIS EARRING! Bless his heart. He had no clue until he became mysteriously ill. Now he's on the hunt for an allusive cure, but the clock's ticking! Tee hee hee. We couldn't help but giggle.

In addition to GH, I've been hooked on Top Chef Masters and MasterChef. I am especially amazed by the "home cooks" on MasterChef. There is no way I could create what they do in the amount of time given. It blows my mind. I'm constantly saying -- out loud and to the TV (much like how men carry on while watching sports) -- "Oh my gosh! NO! I would just have to walk away right now! I would have to take off my apron and leave the show immediately! I wouldn't know where to start!" The only downside to both of these shows is the beautiful food always makes me so hungry, and I try desperately hard not to eat past 6:30ish every night.

Speaking of yummy food, have y'all tried Justin's Honey Almond Butter? Holy guacamole. It's good. And expensive. But TOTALLY worth it. (The Target near my house actually sells little "sample packets." Quite nice and very handy to throw in your purse. This way you can try it first without committing to an entire jar.) If I do end up fudging on my "6:30 Rule" by having a late night nosh, I can't help but feel a little less guilty since I'm reaching for a jar of all natural almond butter. (So what if I'm smothering a buttery Ritz cracker in it. I'm fairly certain the "all natural-ness" cancels out the Ritz.)

Happy Tuesday Evenin', Reader Peeps!

Friday, August 16, 2013

MoYo


In our area of North Central Texas, frozen yogurt shops are all the rage. They've popped up everywhere! They’ve many different names (TLC informs Us Geezers that the code name for all of them is “FroYo.”) and clever/pretty/clean seating areas. But they're all basically the same.

The small town we live thirteen miles away from has one of these shops. (Unless a new one has opened that I’ve not yet heard about or seen in my travels to run errands.)

First you pick a cup to fill. There’re usually two to three sizes. Then you pick your flavor (12 to 16 choices—some low-fat and some non-fat) of soft-serve yogurt. You get to pretend you work there and fill your cup from the machines. Then you move on to the "buffet-style" toppings. About 40 different candy etc. toppings tempt your hungry eyes.

Last, you put your cup on a little scale at the checkout counter/register area. You pay by weight. I've paid as little as $3 and as much as $5. For a smallish cup with 2 to 3 (chocolate, of course) candies. I've seen people's cups cost as much as $7. Yikes. 

Now this story switches horses (as usual for moi):

For as long as I've known My Sweet Hubby (MSH), which is over thirty-six years, he’s entertained his family and friends with names, words and phrases that he makes up. Because he can’t quite remember the right name, word or phrase.

Recent examples include:

Cupcake Lids=Muffin Tops

Mia Patia’s=Mi Familia (A Mexican restaurant in our town—and he has no idea why he cannot remember the name because for ten years he ate there once a week—until his retirement. This past January. TLC and I now just call it Mia Patia’s. If we say the right name, he asks us what we’re talking about. Simply not worth our time. Sheesh.)

The Boiling Pot=Potbelly’s (The Boiling Pot is a seafood restaurant in Rockport, Texas. Potbelly’s is a sandwich chain in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area—I’m not sure about other parts of our country or the World. When MSH texted me, two days ago, he was stopping to eat at The Boiling Pot after running a few errands in Ft. Worth, I got completely confused. I didn’t think he’d had time to go to Rockport—about six hours away. TLC knew immediately what he meant. Young brain cells—I miss them.)

MoYo=FroYo (“I’d kinda like to run into town for some MoYo. Anyone else interested?” MSH now says this at least once a week.)

Enjoy Your Weekend, Sweet Silly Friends Everywhere! Be safe and HAPPY…

smooches!

 

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Two Movies, A Girl and Her Pajamas

I think the last time I saw a movie in the actual theater was October 2012. Taken 2. It was one of our first "date nights" since the arrival of Little Leighton. The movie was okay. (Not near as good as the first.) But, alas, it could have been a documentary on ice fishing, and I wouldn't have minded one teeny bit. I simply LOVE going to movie theaters! Wearing a sweater (in July -- in Texas) because it's so dark and chilly. Popcorn with a box of Raisinets dumped right in. Large (extra large!) Diet Cokes. It's one of my most favourite experiences.

Since we don't make it out much, I have now come to truly appreciate and fully embrace curling up on the couch in my cozy jammies (Piggy PJs, nonetheless) and settling in to watch a movie at home. I'm a little behind in the "current hits," though I'm trying to play catch-up. This week alone, I've watched Silver Linings Playbook (Bradley Cooper and his baby blues, need I say more, people?) and Admissions (I want Tina Fey to be my friend, and who doesn't adore Paul Rudd? Have you seen his Sesame Street episode? One word: ADORBS.). The movies couldn't have been more different, yet I found them equally charming. They both had me in tears at some point, too! Silver Linings does have some, shall we say, graphic language and scenes, but I found I was able to overlook them as the love story between a man and a woman unfolded -- amidst mental illness and a dance competition. (I'm sorry. I never claimed to be an excellent "movie summarizer." Oops.) Admissions was not at all what I expected, but it pleasantly surprised me. Lily Tomlin was a hoot. (And a toot!) It has a lot of soul and heart. I recommend both!

Stand by now for the next installment of my movie reviews. I'm sure you have a good, solid six (nine?) months! Tee hee hee.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

frozen Yorks

I'm not sure any of us Texans ever get (gets? sorry...unsure) used to the extreme summer heat. I was actually born in North Carolina, but came to Texas when I was six months old. Long, unnecessary story. Except for almost three years when I was in elementary school, I've been a Texan. Living here for over 55 of my 59 years on Earth has made me feel like a Native Texan. My Sweet Hubby (MSH) was born in Little Rock, Arkansas. He's been a Texan for 63 of his 69 years. We’re pretty sure you become officially “Native” once you’ve passed the fifty-year mark. All five of our kiddos are Native Texans.

Texas children learn early that they have to be cautious of the viciously hot Texas temps--especially in July and August. By the time August appears, 99.9% of us are getting cranky. (The other 1% apparently have snake blood coursing through their veins.) We’re getting touchy. Stressed. Worried. Ready. Ready for crisp, cool Autumn days and nights.

Here are some things MSH and I have been doing to survive Texas in August:

1.  Trying not to use our oven more than once or twice a week.
We faithfully keep our thermostat set at 76 degrees. (Lately we've been turning it down a notch--to 75--at 8:00 p.m. Just to try to cool the house down for a couple of hours before we go to bed. Uncertain it helps much. It sure doesn't hurt. Except our electric bill will be outrageous. It always is for the months of July, August and, sometimes, even September.)  We've found turning even our smaller oven on for 40 minutes-ish can make us want to submerge ourselves in a tub of ice.

2. Getting all outdoor chores done by 10:00 a.m. Really should try for 9:00. It's evil out there.

3. Thinking of every errand we need to do, in town, and desperately trying to get them accomplished in one morning or early afternoon. So we don't have to get out every day. Even every other day. It's simply unbearable.

4. Trying to find new and entertaining shows on TV to pass the time indoors. Of course, it's SHARK WEEK. Woo Hoo. Y'all remember sharks give me the shivers. But they make MSH's evenings sweet. Lordy, that Man O' Mine can find some innerstin stuff to watch. Sheesh.

5. Straining our few working brain cells to remember to throw some York patties in the freezer periodically. We're all about frozen treats: Snickers; Twinkies; grapes. TLC put us on to frozen Yorks via her idol (yes, it is quite shocking, I realize, that her idol is not moi), The Pioneer Woman. Beyond refreshing and YUMMO! (A caution: Your teeth should be strong. They're pretty chewy.)

We need relief. RAIN. Cooler nights. Kinder days. Texans never give up hope for one or more of these gifts. We can't.

Hope y’all are comfy Wherever in the World you are, Friends!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

bring on fall!

I'm going rogue and posting not one but TWO recipes today. I was watching a DVR-ed episode of The Pioneer Woman several evenings ago. She made my most favourite spicy shredded pork and the yummiest looking "flat apple pie." Oh, my! How it had me longing for fall. Crisp evenings. Pretty red leaves. Pumpkins galore. Sometimes I feel we Texans get gypped on fall. It stays downright hot for a long, long, long time. Of course, as I mentioned before, that doesn't stop me from declaring the "official start of fall" on September 2nd.

Thus, in honor of Autumn "quickly" approaching, please enjoy these recipes! I can most certainly vouch for the scrumptiousness of the pork. Though I haven't tried the apple pie, it looks down-right divine. Can you really go wrong with apples, butter and crust? I think not, Dear Friends.

PW's Spicy Dr. Pepper Shredded Pork

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 6 hours
Serves: 18

(I always use a much smaller "butt" -- tee hee hee -- and reduce the amount of chipotles and brown sugar. Of course, you could always freeze any leftovers, too!)

Ingredients

  • 1 whole Large Onion
  • 1 whole Pork Shoulder ("pork Butt") - 5 To 7 Pounds
  • Salt And Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • 1 can (11 Ounce) Chipotle Peppers In Adobo Sauce
  • 2 cans Dr. Pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar

Preparation Instructions

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
Peel the onion and cut it into wedges. Lay them in the bottom of a large dutch oven.
Generously salt and pepper the pork roast, then set it on top of the onions in the pan.
Pour the can of chipotle peppers over the pork (include the sauce.) Pour in both cans of Dr Pepper. Add brown sugar to the juice and stir in.
Place lid tightly on pot, then set pot in the oven. Cook for at least six hours, turning roast two or three times during the cooking process. Check meat after six hours; it should be absolutely falling apart (use two forks to test.) If it's not falling apart, return to the oven for another hour.
Remove meat from pot and place on a cutting board or other work surface. Use two forks to shred meat, discarding large pieces of fat. Strain as much of the fat off the top of the cooking liquid as you can and discard it. Return the shredded meat to the cooking liquid, and keep warm until ready to serve. (You can also refrigerate the meat and liquid separately, then remove hardened fat once it's cold. Then heat up the liquid on the stovetop and return the meat to the liquid to warm up.
Serve on warm flour tortillas. Top with shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, grated cheese, avocado slices, salsa, and whatever else you'd like.


PW's Flat Apple Pie

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Yield: 2 pies

Ingredients

5 Granny Smith apples, peeled and sliced
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 recipe Perfect Pie Crust, recipe follows
6 tablespoons butter


Directions


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

In large bowl, stir together the apples, brown sugar, granulated sugar, flour, salt and lemon juice. Set aside and see how long you can keep from sneaking a slice of apple.

With a rolling pin, begin rolling out the Perfect Pie Crusts into large circles. Roll the dough from the center outward. Be gentle and patient, it'll take a little time to get the dough completely rolled out.

If you think the bottom is really sticking to the surface below, use a nice, sharp spatula to loosen the dough and sprinkle some extra flour on top. Then flip it over to finish rolling. Remember to roll from the center in single, outward strokes, no back-and-forth rolling.

Again with a spatula, loosen and lift the dough and carefully place the circles on large baking sheets.

Place half the apple mixture on one crust and the other half on the other crust. Fold over the edges of each crust so that it covers 2 to 3 inches of the apple mixture. No need to be artistic - the more rustic the better. Dot the tops of the pies with chunks of the butter.

Bake until the filling is golden and bubbly, 30 to 40 minutes. If the crust appears to brown too quickly, cover the edges with aluminium foil for the remaining baking time.

Allow to cool slightly, then slice into wedges with a pizza cutter. Eat 'em on the go!

Perfect Pie Crust:


3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 sticks cold butter
3/4 cup vegetable shortening
1 egg
5 tablespoons cold water
1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar


Combine the flour and salt in a large bowl. Add in the butter and shortening. Using a pastry cutter, gradually work the butter and shortening into the flour until the mixture resembles tiny pebbles. This step should take 3 or 4 minutes.

Lightly beat the egg with a fork, and then add it to the mixture. Next, add in the cold water and vinegar. Stir the mixture together until it's just combined, and then remove half the dough from the bowl. Yield: dough for 2 crusts.