Monthly Archives: January 2020

Pancakes, It’s What’s For…

One of my favorite breakfasts. Or lunches or suppers for that matter. Pancakes!

These are blueberry-chocolate chip. I find the ones I am happiest with are if I use Bisquick. I do add a little more liquid than called for so they spread out and I can make a bigger pancake.

I generally use almond milk for the liquid, but regular milk, or even eggnog are good too. I like to add in either vanilla or almond extract for extra flavor.

Then I jazz them up with add-ins like blueberries, chocolate chips, nuts, coconut, or maybe puréed banana or canned pumpkin. If I make pumpkin I also add molasses, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves, plus chocolate chips. This makes them similar to pumpkin pie.

The humble pancake can be turned into so much more

Dogs, Tennis, & Retirement

Me, Claire the foster dog, Cassius, and Baxter in front of the pillow.

The preferred activity around our house lately has been watching the Australian Open. For those who don’t know, this is the first of the four major tennis tournaments of the year. The tournament spans two weeks and we watch as many of the matches as we can. It is down to the semi-finals now so we don’t want to miss anything.

So this is how I watch tennis. Claire the foster dog is in my lap. She is very snuggly and this way I know where she is at all times. This saves me from jumping up every few minutes to see where she is and what she is chewing on. So far: the earbuds to my iPhone, underwear, slippers, numerous paper napkins, and a pencil. Usually I get to her before much damage is done. And really it is my fault. Claire tries to be good. Given her past experience before she came to our house, she just doesn’t understand why some things are toys and some things are not. And she looks so heartbroken when I scold her for chewing inappropriate things. It’s as if she is saying, “awww, I got it wrong again.” She is learning now if I tell her no-no that she should put the item down and that will be the end of it. I am at fault for letting her have opportunities to mess up. We will get there.

Cassius lays beside me and puts his head on Claire. He wants to emphasize to us all that Claire may be on my lap, but I am his mommy!

And Baxter is on the couch because we are and, well, the couch is soft.

A better way to watch television is not to be found. Retirement rocks!

Play With Me

Does Zekie still suffer from separation anxiety? I would have to say yes.

This is Zekie waiting for daddy to come home this morning. He was only gone for an hour. To be fair, Zekie didn’t hurt anything. He just waited, and waited…even though I was still home with him.

Zekie doesn’t need to go in his crate if one of us is still home. He just gets forlorn, not destructive as long as someone is there. When he becomes aware that someone will be leaving in a minute, he grabs a bone or toy and tries to entice the person to play instead of going out the door. If that doesn’t work, he can even chomp the bone at you and bark with it in his mouth. You can tell he’s saying, “wouldn’t you rather play with me and have this bone than go away?”

Well, generally, yes we would. But unfortunately, life calls.

Free Yoga & Downward Dog

Zekie in Downward Dog

This evening is my last night of free yoga. I have been attending these sessions at the local library and they are so much fun. Every Monday evening for the month of January the classes were offered.

It has been a great opportunity to hang out with new people as well as sharing the experience with someone who was a coworker before I retired and remains a friend. I have found yoga to be a time of relaxation, peace, and meditation, as well as exercise.

I always knew that stretching was good for you, but I never realized just how good. My knee that I hurt while hiking last spring, barely hurts at all now. The injury has caused me pain all these months and with just a few weeks of yoga, I rarely notice any pain in my knee.

At the last class they were collecting signatures to ask that the library continue the class. I sincerely hope that they do. It is a wonderful experience. People with different physical capabilities are all at home in the same room. I find it fascinating that there are exercises that I can do, but the person next to me cannot do. A few movements later, I cannot hold the pose, but that same person next to me can do it just fine. We all have different abilities.

I also like the names of the poses. Visualizing them helps me to do the pose more accurately. When I see an actual dog doing “downward dog”, I am able to do downward or upward dog better.

With any luck, the library will extend the free yoga sessions. They have been popular. Most sessions there is barely enough floor space! If not, I already have Yoga On the Courthouse Lawn marked on my schedule for summer.

Stuffed Flounder

Stuffed Flounder with Imitation Crab

We had stuffed flounder with oven fried potatoes and broccoli for dinner. I made up my own recipe for the flounder and was pleased with how it turned out.

The potatoes were peeled, cubed, mixed with extra virgin olive oil, garlic powder, and salt. I tossed to coat and baked in a 400 degree oven for about 40 minutes, turning once. They were nicely browned and crispy.

The broccoli was left over from another meal. I microwaved it to put on the side. No reason to go crazy when I had the other dishes to prepare.

The flounder was the most labor intensive part of the meal. First, I had to make the stuffing. I used an 8 oz. package of imitation crab meat that I chopped to a fine mince. I added a couple Tablespoons of finely minced onion, then added some Italian bread crumbs, a couple Tbsp. mayonnaise, Old Bay Seasoning, salt, and 1/3 teaspoon of horseradish. Mix all ingredients together. I put foil on a small cookie sheet, then put the stuffing on the sheet in a straight line about 4 x 1 inches. Set this aside until the flounder is breaded.

I did something different with the flounder, at least for me. Rather than coating it with egg, which always slides off with the breading, I thinned some mayonnaise with milk then added salt and pepper. I cut the flounder filets in half and coated each half in the mayonnaise mixture and then in an Italian breadcrumb and cornmeal mixture. I put one half of the filet on each side of the line of stuffing on the cookie sheet. Bake for 17 minutes at 400 degrees along with the potatoes.

Dinner is served.

I don’t give exact measurements for most items because I believe everyone should make adjustments to suit their own tastes. You know best what you like!

Benefits of Retirement (or Life With Dogs)

Be content.
Life in the morning

Not only am I enjoying retirement, so are the dogs. Zekie still has separation anxiety, but it doesn’t rear its ugly head as often because I rarely leave home. This makes us all happy.

I am still in that adjusting and recovering from years of work phase. It takes me until 10:00 am each morning to finish drinking coffee. An acquaintance who retired a few years ago and understands, asked me “oh, you mean 10:00 pm?” So I guess I am doing ok.

In the last photo, you can see not just Zekie is enjoying this new life. Claire the foster dog and Cassius the greyhound are also on the couch with me passing the morning. The others were hanging out nearby.

Retirement is a new journey and I am ready for the ride.

A Bright Spot

My husband and I like to have plants around in the winter time to enjoy, and to give us hope that spring is on the way.

This parlor palm is a plant that I brought home from work when I retired at the end of November. It was gifted to me by a former coworker when he retired. I am particularly proud of this tree because it was spindly and only had a few branches when I got it. This was through no fault of my desk mate. Our office had no windows and he would keep the poor thing going by putting it on a filing cabinet in the hallway every weekend.

I was moved to my own office eventually and it had a window. The window was shaded by a large pine tree but the palm liked it better than having no window. The palm grew a few more branches even if they did have brown tips.

When I retired, I brought the palm home and it now has a large window with good light. The palm has grown a number of new branches in the past couple of months and is as healthy as I’ve ever seen it.

It sits on one of our mantels along with a lantana and a mandevilla that I dug up before frost and am wintering over to put back in the raised garden beds again next year. The wreath is made with bittersweet berries that my husband harvested from our property for just this purpose. The orangey red of the berries is cheerful in the darker months.

I even dressed the parlor palm up for Christmas so it fit in with the festivities.

It is important to create bright spots in our world that make us feel good and remind us of good times. It is a healthy thing to do. This palm fits the bill because I think of growth, greenery, and new life, as well as my thoughtful coworker when I see it.

How can you make a bright spot in your world?

Foster Dog-Two Weeks In

Claire has been with us two weeks today. It has passed quickly, mostly because she keeps us so busy. You must keep your eyes on her at all times when she is not crated. She spent some time in her crate because she is in heat and some of the time just because we were not able to watch her every minute.

She hasn’t had a potty accident in about a week. Before that I think it was mostly marking due to being in heat and not actually accidents. Claire also wanders around the house. A lot. I don’t know if this is a trait of bitches in heat or just because everything is new to her.

And I mean everything seems like a new experience to her. Walking on a leash, people eating food, cats, things on coffee tables. You need to constantly watch her or she will take things and then be puzzled about why you are upset.

Claire is learning though. When I say no, she stops what she is doing to look at me which gives me a chance to praise her. She is getting along with the cats better, although she still reacts sometimes. Luckily she thinks the cats are great fun rather than viewing them as snack items.

And occasionally she will lay down. This makes me happy. A few minutes for me to relax is appreciated. She improves a little bit each day. We’ll get there.

Recycling: New Dog Bed

Morty enjoying the new bed

Here’s one project I can check off my list. New dog bed is ready to use!

As our old, decrepit arm chair got disassembled to put in the trash, we noticed the seat cushion was one large piece, so we saved it to make into a new bed for the dogs. I covered it with my daughter’s old blanket that I found in the hall closet. The twin blanket was a perfect fit.

I found directions for a dog bed on-line and altered it slightly since my cushion was an odd shape. Basically, you cut fleece fabric 4-6 inches bigger than your bed and cut strips about five inches long around the edges. Then tie them all together with doubles knots. Done! You can even untie and launder the cover if you need to.

I am very proud of this bed because all parts of it are recycled keeping waste out of a landfill. The animals seem to be rather fond of it too.

Shelby napping on the new bed

Yoga As Exercise, Meditation, and Humor

I found a free yoga class that meets for an hour every Monday for the month of January. That’s a deal I can’t pass up so I adjusted my schedule accordingly. I love yoga.

It’s a good workout and can accommodate everyone’s level of ability. It’s really cool how I notice that I can do some things that someone near me can’t do. And there are things that they can do that I can’t. Everyone’s abilities are unique.

I am taking this class with a friend. I feel good about the fact that I am finally one of those people who does a workout as a social activity, rather than just meeting my friend and going out to consume large amounts of calories, although that can be fun too. It is fun to hang out with someone who gets me. The instructor told us to imagine our leg was a log as we held it. My friend and I chuckled.

Me: Oh, no it’s the log lady!

Friend: My log has something to tell you.

Laughter ensues.

Fans of the Twin Peaks series will understand this reference. I never watched Twin Peaks until last year. I don’t know why I waited so long. I recommend it.

I also recommend yoga. It is satisfying to the muscles and organs, as well as the soul.