Made in Rememberance

The past month has been such a mix of emotions and anxiety. On Februrary 20th I got the call from my Aunt informing me that my Grandpa had passed away. For me this was extra rough becuase Grandpa taught me all the skills no one else thought I should learn. Like gardening, basic electrical knowledge, how to tell the difference between tools, when to use duct tape vs when to use a bit of wire, etc. He really sparked the creativity in me because he believed that there is more than 1 way to fix a broken object.

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He lived to be 95 years old and was always being silly for a picture. I literally haven’t had time to do anything besides funeral stuff and trying to console grandma and help get her situated with her new life changes. Since things have settled down a little, and I could finally have an evening at home, I decided to make one of the many favorite meals I’ve made for grandpa, Beef Stew.

I don’t use many measurements for this recipe. This was mostly an indulgent dish for grandpa because of his health issues he had some dietary restrictions. I heavily altered the original recipe to sneak in some things that he could eat every once in a while.

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I prefer to get the pre-cut beef stew meat but if that isn’t available, such as this particular meal, I get a nice London Broil and cut it up in into cubes. I throw the cubes into a bowl and add some flour, salt, pepper, and garlic powder and then mix it up until the meat coated. Once coated I add a little oil, grandpa preferred extra virgin  olive oil, to a large pot and allow it to heat up. I then dump the coated meat and any excess seasonings into the pot. While the meat is browning I slice up 1 onion, 2-3 carrots, thoroughly wash 1 small bag of baby potatoes, and trim and rinse 1/2lbs – 1lbs of green beans. DO NOT USE CANNED GREEN BEANS! canned green beans will turn to mush and/or dissolve away in the stew because they are already cooked. Plus they won’t be able to take much of the flavor from simmering in the stews juices.

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Once the meat is mostly browned I toss in the sliced onion. I then let the meat finish browning and allow the onion to get soft. I also add a bit more salt and pepper to help break down the onion a little bit faster. If needed, add a little bit more oil so that things do not stick to the pot.

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Once the meat is browned and the onions are soft, I add in the carrots, baby potatoes, and 1 carton of unsalted beef stock/broth. I allow this to simmer for a few minutes before I begin adding in spices.

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After everything has been simmering for a few minutes I add in a few bay leaves, a generous amount of salt and pepper, and my special secret spice. My special secret spice is 1 cap full of ground corriander. I know its a very untraditional beef stew ingredient and it kind of sound like a large amount but trust me it’s delicious.

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I stir the spices around and put the lid on the pot and let everything come up to a boil. Once at a boil I add in another non-traditional beef stew ingredient, green beans. Adding in the green beans made this feel like a more filling meal. I give everything one last good stir and then put the lid on and let the pot simmer for at least an hour.

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Once the potatoes, carrots, and green beans are fork tender its ready to be eaten. Don’t forget to take out the Bay Leaves before serving up! If you’re feeling extra indulgent, you can add a sprinkle of your favorite cheese on top.

Treasure X Gold

In my previous Valentine’s post, I showed everyone that I had recieved a Treasure X Gold dig kit. So I made some time before bed to dig for my creature!

When you open the box you get this gold wrapped brick and a sheet of the possible things that could be in your brick. Once you take the gold wrap off you are left with your digging tool and a plaster brick.

I highly recommend digging in a bathtub or sink. Its makes clean up so much easier. Once you are set up let the digging commence!

It looks like I got a 2 headed snake creature. In each brick there is a head, torso, and tail. There is also a special item piece as well.

According to the series sheet I have strike two from the serpent raiders and serpent scales as my special item.

It was a very fun adventure. It’s also fun to know that there are different series and limited edition treasure x bricks. I was able to find some at my local store in the collectible toys/trading cards area, you can also see some available here for online purchase.

Snow Day!

“I found winter!” That was my wake up this morning from my boyfriend as he was trying unbury my car. I knew it had snowed but I wasn’t expecting this much as well as dropping temperatures.

After a hair raising adventure to get some food we decided to just stay in and be cozy the rest of the weekend. While we were out driving in the snow in search of food, we found this cereal.

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It tastes like a weird red velvet cereal. It wasnt as crunchy as normal Cap’n Crunch but it was delicious! After a quick bowl I busted out my movie marathon collection.

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I’ve always wanted the whole Studio Ghibli collection but, it’s a little pricey as a boxed set. So I started buying them one at a time from Walmart. After Kiki’s Delivery Service we took a little break from the movie marathon.

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Nothing says “good clean fun” like tequila and juice. I dont really use measuring devices for cocktails unless it’s a very specific recipe. I just pour until it looks like enough. This particular concoction is lime juice, tequila, and ruby red grapefruit juice.

Holiday Complications

This holiday season has been such a blur for me. Working in retail for the big Christmas holiday, working through the early hours of the morning to get all the clearance marked the day after Christmas, and preparing for a funeral. A few days before Christmas my Great Uncle had passed away. It has been very difficult for my Grandfather as this was his younger brother. It made for a very somber holiday family time. So in an effort to cheer myself up I bought 2 cutetitos.

Now I know you are thinking “What the heck is a cutetito?” Basically its a cute small stuffed animal that’s wrapped up in a tortilla blanket. The fun part is that you have no idea which animal you have until you open it up and remove the foil wrapper.

The first cutetito I opened up after the I got home from the funeral viewing. And it happened to be Puppito! Yes all the animals in this series have names. And their rarity is measured in spiciness. For example, Puppito has an orange chili pepper which make him a mild or common one to find.

The second one I opened when I got home from the funeral and wake. I was already pretty tired and sore for escorting my grnadparents everywhere I almost forgot to open my cutetito. I’m really glad I remembered because this one is definitely my favorite out of the two, it’s Pigito!

Pigito is a purple chili pepper which is medium or uncommon within Series 1. I’m not really sure when (or if) there is a Series 2 yet, but I’ll definitely get a few if there is some.

Together these 2 cutetitos at least made my day a little better before attempting to relax for the evening. I’m hoping to get a few more before they are totally gone because I realized that Peppito is a Chihuahua and would love to have that one!

Here’s hoping I can start the new year off on a much happier and more productive note. Happy New Year to everyone out there and I’ll see you in 2019!

Diamond Puzzle Test

A while ago I recieved a small diamond puzzle kit. I’ve always wanted to try one but the ones I liked were either too complicated or too expensive for a beginner attempt. Luckily I came across an offer where all you had to pay was the shipping and handling. So I found this neat design.

I really like the design. It didnt look too awful or childish and it was one that the whole picture is not a diamond painting. Meaning that only the unicorn was part of the diamond painting, the background was just there for a complete finished look. Plus it was a complete kit with all diamond colors as well as wax, stylus pen, and tray.

After several youtube tips and tricks videos, I finally had a good grasp on what to do and in what order. First and most importantly the pattern is sticky and needs to be kept covered as much as possible. Theres a plastic cover that comes with the picture so that makes things easy. Another helpful tip is to work from the outside of the picture towards the middle.

After the first color I was very skeptical about these paintings. But I pressed on with a few more colors.

After the 3rd color though I was hooked. The picture was starting to take shape and I was actually upset that I had to stop and go to bed. I really wanted to finish my unicorn! After a solid 6 hours of sleep I woke up refreshed and ready to finish this piece.

In total this took about 9 hours to complete. Which was more then enough to keep me occupied for a while. It was nice to get the chance to try this out on a smaller beginner level picture before I take the plunge and do a much large piece.

I hope you have been enjoying reading my blog. Next week is Thanksgiving in the U.S. and Black Friday. I work in retail so there will not be a new post next week. After this week work should die down a bit and I can return in December. Until then Happy Thanksgiving and good luck in your holiday shopping adventures!

Marathon Challenge

I work in retail and I knew the month of October would be extra busy and the beginning of holiday stress. I decided to give a virtual marathon a try to help keep myself at least partially distracted. I used the Yes.Fit app and synced my fitbit to the app and away I went.

There are many different races to choose from, different locations and length of race. I eventually decided on running the everglades. What really helped me the most was that you are able to view the race with a Google maps sort of perspective from your current location on the race map.

It took me 28 days from start to finish and I feel quite accomplished. It was nice to get the workouts done on my time and at my pace. It was also nice to track my progress during all the chaos at work.

Earlier this week my medal arrived in the mail! It has these neat blue panels that look really amazing when held up to the light.

Overall I was really happy to try something new and slightly out of my comfort zone. It worked out well as a distraction from the stress and anxiety of pre holiday season workdays. I now find that I need to think about what race I should do next to be me distracted during the holiday season. Until then I shall enjoy my shiny new medal.

Special Chocolate Chunk Cookies

It’s been a little chilly over in my neck of the woods. So I decided to warm up the house by making a batch of yummy chocolate chunk cookies. Basically I follow this recipe but with a few alterations because of food allergies. The largest change I make is that I can only use certain kinds of chocolate because of a peanut/tree nut allergy so I tend to use a bag of chunks instead of scouring for a chocolate bar I can actually eat.

Mixing the cookie dough in my new kitchenaide was really great after having done this recipe without a mixer so many times. The dough itself is also very good for pre baking tastes.

And here are the delicious, fresh out of the oven cookies. Most of which did not make it past bedtime.


Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Ingredients

  • 2 sticks of salted buttered, softened
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 (or 2) tablespoons Vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all purpose flour, plus a little extra just in case
  • 1 tablespoon instant coffee, French Vanilla is my favorite
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 bag of Nestle Tollhouse chocolate chunks

Directions

  1. Take 1 of the softened sticks of butter and put into a small skillet over medium-low heat. allow it to melt and bubble. This is totally normal and will not immediately cause a fire. Swirl the butter in the skillet until it begins to turn a golden brown then remove from heat and pour all the liquid and solid butter into a heat proof bowl until needed in cookie batter. preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Add the other stick of butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar  into a mixing bowl. Cream everything together until its combined.  Add eggs and vanilla and mix until smooth. It may be necessary to stop mixing to scrape the sides of the bowl down. Pour in all contents (solid bits too) from the brown butter bowl and mix until combined
  3. Add the coffee granules, baking soda, and salt one ingredient at a time and allow to mix until well combined. Slowly add the flour into the batter and allow to mix well. Once mixed, dump in 1 bag of chocolate chunks and mix well using a spoon or spatula.
  4. Either use a greased baking sheet or a parchment lined baking sheet and drop the cookie dough onto the sheet pan. I like to use a heaping tablespoon for this. Place in oven for 8-10 minutes. Allow to cool for 2-3 minutes then transfer to a cooling rack/surface. Bake in batches until all cookies are done and enjoy!