Thursday, February 23

I am Techie, Hear me Roar

This was my world today. No, really. Yes, really.

When we got our A/V system installed a couple years ago, they (really just cousin John) automatically added in a universal remote at a cost of something around $500. I said no. "Yeah, but you will be using four remotes," John declared. "We've been using four remotes for years, we're used to it," I replied. "For $500, we can deal with four remotes. Hell yeah!" Okay, I didn't say hell yeah, but added it here for emphasis. Poetic license. Anyway, I got to thinking, how hard could this be? John led us to believe programming remotes was a very esoteric thing.

I did some research; it looked doable. I asked my son, he said go for it. So I bought a $50 remote, and with the money I saved, I bought a chandelier to replace the dorky one the builders put in. Love it!!!

Anyway, long story short, I programmed a universal remote (not terribly impossible) and it worked great! Until it didn't. We think it got damaged somewhere along the line because when you shook it, you could hear that something was loose. When it worked, it worked great. But it was very temperamental.

What to do? The choices were either go back to multiple remotes, which we dealt with enough during the broken period to know we didn't want to go that way, or buy another (more expensive) model. We chose the latter.

Actually, looking at the above picture, there were five remotes! Two of these are the old universal and the new one.

It was not a slam-dunk. I spent many hours troubleshooting why one component would turn off when it was suppose to turn on, and vice-versa. It was a real puzzle and I said I'd try again tomorrow--when I could see.

Well I won't bore you with the details, but, finally, success!! And below are ALL the remotes we use now. It's a sweet little thing. Very small.

Success--how sweet it is!

Monday, February 20

Around Here

We have had a little rain. We don't get much rain in these parts, but when we have a storm like this, it's too much to handle. Dams overflow, trees are toppled, and creeks become raging rapids. Pity the poor creatures that live in the normally dry San Juan Creek riverbed.

Friday was a real "barn-burner." JJ played bridge but I was hunkered down in my chair by the fire with my Kindle, listening to the rain and wind pelt the house for hours and hours. Above, Dallas Raines (yes, that's his name) forecasts the next squall coming our way. I live just about where the I-5 sign is on the above map. I was glad to not have to be on the freeway at 5:00 on that Friday....or any other Friday, for that matter. The image below is a screenshot of the traffic from my phone.

No Carol, that island is not Hawaii. It is Catalina. Yes I am sure.

The house did not blow down or slide down the hill, and I am extremely relieved about that. I was worried.

The hills are green--a rare occurrence.

In other news, we have been furniture shopping. Replacing our red sectional came to the top of the wish list, and we spent way too much time looking for a replacement. We finally found a leather sectional that we both loved. It's gorgeous and buttery soft.

But was WAY too expensive. I asked for a couple days to think about it. The next morning I knew I did not want to spend nearly $7,000 for a sofa that I would worry about spilling something on.

I really like our sectional, it fits in the room and it is still in good shape, but it's kind of worn. And the red just doesn't work in this house.

So we sent it out to be re-covered. This is Oscar.

The cost to re-upholster it is $1,200 plus the cost of the fabric ($900). I can live with that.

While we were at it we bought a rug to replace the temporary jute one we got three years ago "for now." They had some drop-dead gorgeous rugs, it was really hard to choose. But we chose this one. It looks really mauve-y in this photo, but it's the lighting. It's actually very close to the color of our floor, which you can see below.

Meanwhile, we are making use of the chairs we never sit in.

Thursday, February 9

Hey Good Lookin'

Whatcha got cookin'?

Some good stuff! Mango salsa! I had a couple mangoes and decided to make brie quesadillas with mango salsa. We had this dish at a party last summer and want to incorporate it into our dinner parties. But we wanted to practice on ourselves first.

These are the ingredients: Purple onion, mango, cilantro, jalapeno, and lime.

Chop 'em all up. For the record, I used two mangoes and 1/3 of the onion. I could have used two jalapenos, but let your tongue be your guide. Most everyone we know can take the heat.

We put a couple slices of brie in a flour tortilla and toasted them on the barby.

We had the fire too high and they got a little burny, but that didn't seem to matter--they were still delicious. I think you could just as easily use jack cheese, which is easier to cut in thin slices than brie, or even pepper jack...mmm.


This appetizer is a little bit different, has a note of elegance, and the brie and mango pair beautifully with a crisp, cold chardonnay on a warm summer evening. I can hardly wait for summer!

If you make them, let me know what you think!

Sunday, January 22

Dinner Party

Things have been quiet around here, but we have been busy. We had a dinner party this weekend. I never seem to get pictures of the food because when dinner is ready, JJ and I are like traffic cops telling people to get in line--no one wants to go first--and where we want them to sit. 

I did get a picture of the main dish (beef short ribs) mid-cooking.

They were absolutely delicious! Tender and moist. The secret is low and slow cooking. I have been making short ribs for dinner guests for at least a decade, because all the work is done the day before--there's no last-minute fuss, and because who doesn't like tender, fall-off-the bone meat? Save for the vegetarians, that is. 

In the above photo, I have browned them (I used the oven broiler because there are 7 or 8 pounds of ribs) and put the mirepoix (carrots, onions, celery) on top. I only season them with salt and pepper. I pour beef broth and red wine (white wine is okay too) over top, cover them and put them in a slow oven, about 300° for 3 hours.

After they cool enough to handle, I remove the meat to a smaller baking dish (this is a turkey-sized roasting pan and they will shrink) and drain off the liquid and solids into a bowl, discarding the carrots and stuff. You could eat them, but in this case I was done with 'em. Then I pour the strained liquid back on the meat, cover, and refrigerate overnight. Something about them sitting in their juices overnight makes them even better the next day.

The next day I can skim off all the fat because it's solidified on the surface. I put them back in the oven for an additional hour or two at 300°...they will wait for you. I remove the ribs to a serving platter, thicken the broth, and that's it.

Here are some of the guests. 

This is JJ and Steve. Looks like I caught JJ mid-sentence. 

Cliff and Marilyn.

Barbara, Cliff's wife--our next door neighbors. We love 'em. 

Bud, Marilyn's husband and a real cut-up. His personality shows in the photo.

The fun thing is that Barbara and Bud have friendships in common from their school days, and we discovered that Marilyn and JJ have friendships in common from their school days! 

It's so much fun. We love throwing parties! 

Thursday, January 12

Frankly, Not a Lot

Well, the 2016 holiday season is finally behind us--the decorations are all put away, the parties in the history books. It seemed like a long season. But our festivities started in late October when we went on that transatlantic cruise.

I haven't posted in a while because honestly there isn't much going on. We have gotten down to the serious business of being retired homebodies.

You know that AT&T commercial where the guy walks away with his new iPhone 7 and crashes into the door? "Hey! I want that phone!" To qualify, you must be a DIRECTV customer, which we are.

So we went to the AT&T store and I walked out with this. Totally free. And we save $80/month over the next two years because we bundled everything with them. Man, I love this thing. I don't want to go anywhere, because the whole world is right here in this powerful little device. My old android phone was a real dinosaur.

The slick and clever salesmen (plural) managed to talk us into sell us a security system for our home, and we will save an additional $10/month because we got it. So the security system was also free, as was the installation. Not that we'll use it much, but we are dedicated skinflints.

We also scored a new wifi modem in the deal, and it is much stronger than the old one, so I no longer need an enhancer to get a decent signal to the front of the house where my studio is.

We were in the middle of booking a trip when the internet went down, so we had to cross our fingers and hope the last hotel room wouldn't get booked. I was worried. Why?

Did you know there will be a solar eclipse in the US in August? I did, I have been waiting for this. For my whole life, actually. It's a really big deal to me. It's on my bucket list.

This thing will traverse the entire country on August 21.

We studied the map and decided on Oregon, because we could drive there, and see friends along the way. But it turned out to be less expensive to fly. Skinflints, remember?

I chose Albany, which is just below the red central line and in the path of totality.

I am geeked! I just hope the weather is clear.

Around here, it has been raining. A lot, and often. Big squalls. It's hard to take a picture of rain, but this is our street today. I sure hope that hillside holds.

It's really cool to see the hills turn green. It's so rare, we're all buzzing about it.

The only problem (well, aside from potential floods and mudslides) is that all that fresh grass portends increased brush fires in the fall.

All is well! We're both feeling fine!

Tuesday, December 13

Happy Christmas, Y'all!!!

Been busy? Yeah, us too. When you live in a retirement community, where everyone is unemployed and not only has time on their hands but disposable income, when the holidays roll around there are more parties than is probably good for us. But I will say this--we are sitting home for New Year's Eve this year. You know you're getting old when staying home sounds better than going out on New Year's Eve.

We went to see Johnny Mathis. He's 80 now, much older than this album cover. He was okay, but then again, he's 80. Still packing the house, but....maybe time to hang up the ornaments.

We went to a street party. Well, not so much a street party as a party for the people on our street, which comprises 12 homes. The hosts "made" us do some silly stuff before we could have a drink. It was like herding cats, but we complied and were presented with this photo:

I saw this spiderweb this morning and it is so intriguing. The web was like fine tulle.

Isn't it cool? I never saw one like it before, its body is about 1" long.

One of our neighbors has cancer and we have all been taking dinners to her husband. That's the kind of place we live in. 💗 I was looking for a way to cook pork chops because I don't make pork chops very well and pork was on sale, and I found this recipe. I've made it twice now and it's a keeper. It's very, very good. Five stars.

The ingredients are pork chops, cabbage, bacon, onion. Supporting players are apple, chicken broth, apple cider, and sage. And some salt and pepper.

Cook two slices of bacon (or more), remove it and cut it into pieces. Set aside.

Brown big, fat pork chops in the same pan--you can add more bacon fat if you want, I did. While they are browning, chop the cabbage and the onions. Remove the pork chops to a plate and brown the onions, and then brown the cabbage. The recipe said to slice the onions and cabbage very thin but I chopped it big and I would say my way is better.

If you try to cook everything at once, it won't brown and browned food is where the flavor is. You want everything to be caramelized. I always cook the components separately and then marry them together. Add the chopped apple to the cabbage and keep cooking it down. When you are happy, nestle the pork chops and onions back into the pan--and don't forget the bacon!

Pour in a half cup of apple cider and a half cup of chicken broth. Cover and bake at 350° for about an hour, maybe a little more if you have a shitty oven like I do.

It's sweet and wonderful and the apples balance the....well, all the flavors go together beautifully. This would be great for company because you could do it beforehand and it bakes a long time. And it's DELICIOUS!!

Wednesday, December 7

Time Flies

When you're having fun. And we are!

Well, I did decide not to put up a Christmas tree, and the heavens did not explode. They have cute little 2' tall trees in the floral section of the supermarket--way dried out I might add, it's SoCal after all--and I paused and thought about it for a moment, but I'd have to get out all the stuff to decorate it, so I passed.

I did get all the prezzies bought and wrapped. This year's color is silver. I have to have a different palette every year, yaknow. It's the artist in me. We don't do a lot of gifts. Nobody needs anything except the grandkids. We're lucky that way.

I've been playing golf. I played twice this week. The shadows are getting long on the 18th, and it's just so pretty and peaceful out there. This is Talega, a very difficult course in San Clemente (that I decided I don't want to play again--who needs it). The golf cart is the group in front of us, and in front of them, Canada Geese, here for the winter. Geese are horrid creatures, they are nasty rascals, and there is goose poop everywhere. Man, was I glad to get this round behind me.

Today we played Arroyo Trabuco, an easier course because they have gold tees for high handicappers, which we senior ladies surely are. We had a lot of laughs out there today, and when we got to the 19th hole (the bar--duh) I pulled out my phone to take a shot of our group. You need to know I cannot see what I am taking pictures of. I have vision issues.

Looking left.

Annnnd right.

I didn't get everybody in the shot...there are about 20 to 24 of us every week, and it's a great group of peeps. My pals, I just love 'em.