Posted by: thewoobdog | September 12, 2017

Hiatus Much?

Anybody there? Yeah, well, me, neither (obviously). But maybe I’m back! I’d love to chronicle our upcoming house-buying and -renovating adventures, even if I’m the only one who ever reads them. I’m generally terrible about taking “before” pictures and usually only notice their lack as I’m looking proudly at the “after,” so maybe this will be just the thing to keep me focused.

A little backstory – we put our house on the market last summer and last fall moved into my parents’ basement (keeping the house show-ready and living in it was taking a toll). We finally sold our house this spring but hadn’t found the one we were looking for – so yes, we’ve been living the dream, two grown adults living in a basement like something off Property Brothers. I used to inwardly mock the couples on that show who sold their homes and months (or years) later were still living in their parents’ basement, looking for their next place. I get it now. I live it now. I have been sufficiently punished for my hubris, learned my lesson, and promise I’ll never do it again. I’ll write it on a chalkboard 100 times if that will make this life lesson end sooner.

It’s not that we haven’t been looking – dear Lord, have we been looking. We even had a contract on a place last fall but it fell through. We’re now approaching the one-year mark of living in my parents’ basement. So much of our stuff  (including my winter clothes and winter boots – yes, this did make last winter challenging, thanks for asking) is packed up because we took everything non-essential out of our house before staging it to sell – we never dreamed this process would be this drawn-out. I never dreamed our storage unit would end up full of TBear’s mom’s stuff and our stuff would be basically inaccessible for a year (a totally different story I probably won’t be getting into)!

Today, however, marks the official under-contract date of what will hopefully be our next house. If the deal goes through to closing (please, please let it go through to closing) we will be doing a lot of work to transform this house (we are absolutely not DIY people so this could go in a lot of directions, haha). Watch this space for details!


[edited to add pics and recipe addition]

I came up with this last night as a way to use up some of the abundance of winter produce in my fridge and pantry and it might just be the best random recipe I’ve ever thrown together. My husband (the infamous TBear) and I were both absolutely shocked at how tasty and satisfying it was – it’s so veggie-intensive that it’s very light on the digestion even though it’s filling, and the flavors are a delicious mix of sweet (from the squash) and savory (from the filling). TBear’s schedule on Mondays is such that he isn’t home until almost 8:00 pm, so we end up eating dinner very late on those days and I’m always trying to make Monday dinners satisfying but not too heavy, since we go to bed by 10:00 pm and don’t want to be trying to sleep on a full stomach. This hit the absolute perfect balance and I can’t wait to have it again tonight. Sorry for the lousy pics – grabbed my cellphone at the last minute to snap a shot.


Roasted Delicata Squash Stuffed with Turkey Sausage, Chard, and Brown Rice

4 delicata squash

2 tsp olive oil

4 large whole leaves of swiss chard

1 medium onion, chopped

1/2 red bell pepper, chopped

3/4 c. diced fresh mushrooms (use the stems and caps of the mushrooms, or just use the stems and save your caps for another recipe)

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

4 large leaves fresh sage, cut chiffonade-style

pinch red pepper flakes

salt and pepper to taste

1 1/2 cup cooked crumbled (breakfast-style) turkey sausage (I used Jimmy Dean Turkey Sausage Crumbles but you could sub meatless sausage-style crumbles or whatever you prefer)

1 cup cooked brown rice

1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted

1/2 cup shredded extra-sharp cheddar

To prepare squash:

Preheat oven to 425. Wash squash (the peels are edible so you want them clean), cut in half length-wise and scoop out the seeds, creating “squash boats.” Spray a large baking sheet with non-stick spray, spray the squash with non-stick spray on all sides, and place cut-side-down on the baking sheet. Bake 25 minutes.

To prepare filling:

Remove ribs from chard and chop finely; set aside. Cut chard leaves into small strips (chiffonade-style). Heat oil in large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add onions, garlic, and chopped chard stalks; saute until onion is limp and just beginning to brown. Add chard leaves, bell pepper, and mushrooms; saute until chard is limp. Add sage, red pepper flakes, salt, pepper, and turkey sausage, saute 2 minutes. Add rice and pine nuts, saute until heated through.

To finish:

Flip the roasted squash halves so the cut sides are up and spoon the filling into the centers. Sprinkle with shredded cheddar and return to the oven for 5 minutes or until cheese is melted. Serve immediately – each serving is 2 stuffed halves.

Notes: If you want to serve two (like we did), I recommend making up the filling as written but only roasting two delicata squash. Refrigerate half the filling and use the next night, roasting two additional squash and warming the filling before stuffing into the squash halves in the final step. You can make this dairy-free by omitting the cheddar, although if you omit the cheddar I’d recommend drizzling insides of cut squash halves with a bit of soy sauce before roasting, to add that extra bit of umami-flavor. You can also use a meat-substitute to make this dish vegetarian or vegan (be sure to either use a sausage-style meat substitute or add appropriate spices, otherwise the dish will be bland).

This recipe is 21 Day Fix friendly and equates to 1 1/2 green, 1/2 red, 1/2 yellow, 3/4 blue (add 1/4 cup additional cheese or pine nuts to the recipe as written if you want to pull it up to a whole blue), and 1/2 teaspoon per serving.

Posted by: thewoobdog | June 4, 2014

Random Recipe Wednesday

I picked up my first CSA share today and part of the bounty included a half pound of mature spinach. I don’t care for spinach raw unless it’s baby spinach, so I decided to cook the leaves to go with dinner tonight.  I swear I could have eaten two pounds of the stuff. I didn’t feel like finding a recipe (I always end up getting overwhelmed with too many options and making things way to complicated if I try to pull cookbooks out right before dinner), so I just winged it using what I had on hand, including some of the other offerings from the CSA pickup.  I know if I don’t write it down I’ll never remember it, so here goes:


Sauteed Spinach

1 largish green onion (stem and bulb)  chopped small

1 whole green garlic* (stem and bulb), chopped small

1/2 lb mature spinach, stems removed (do not have to remove stems from leafy part), roughly chopped into large pieces

Dash salt

1-2 tsp EV olive oil

Splash of white wine

Dash of lemon pepper

Heat olive oil in large saute pan. Add green onion and green garlic, saute until limp.  Sprinkle with salt, stir, add spinach.  Saute until limp, add a splash of white wine and a dash of lemon pepper and saute 30 more seconds. Makes 2 small servings or 1 medium serving.


* Green garlic is very young garlic, generally harvested early in the growing season as a result of the farmers thinning the rows.  The green garlic I used was about the size of a largish green onion, but leafier – I chopped the leafy parts, stem, bulb and all.

Posted by: thewoobdog | May 1, 2014



Cod Loins

This seems like an odd marketing choice to me. Was there really no better way to describe these than “loins”? It really seems to bring up a lot of questions – for instance, do fish really have loins?  How do you catch loins in the wild? If fish have loins, why has the mammalian meat industry bogarted the loin advertising market?  How did the “sir” get added for cows?

What kind of crazy world are we living in?

Posted by: thewoobdog | April 10, 2014

Slacker Slacker Slackface

Man, I’m slack. I can’t believe I haven’t blogged in *cough* seven months *cough*.  It’s so hard to make myself write a post [whine], but I love having written a post, and I especially love going back and reading old posts.  It’s such a great way to remember – just reading what I wrote or something silly and random that I posted takes me back to where I was then, good or bad.  I’ve always been terrible at journaling (why the heck would I want to write a bunch of blah blah blah that no one is ever going to read?) – it always seems to end up being excessively self-indulgent (my feelings written by me about me to me) and too often I end up being maudlin and disgustingly self-reflective (some self-reflection is a good thing, but you can only ride that pony so far).  Blogging, for me anyway, is more outward-focused.  Granted, I’m writing about my life or things I enjoy or random stuff I find amusing and want to share, but it’s filtered through a different lens – and quite honestly, I find that what I blog about ultimately has more meaning to me when I go back and read it than some sappy schmaltz I wrote in a journal.*

Moving on. I’ve been following some amazing blogs lately – some new (to me), some old favorites (as seen on my sidebar) – and I really feel the urge to start keeping up with this thing again.  I’m crazy busy right now (tax season, ugh), but I’ve got a new year’s resolution post coming up soon.  It’s non-traditional, I know, but I never really know what my goals are or what direction I want to head in on January 1.  I’m always recovering from the holidays and just trying to get back to a normal routine – trying to all of a sudden add resolutions for new and improved me to the holiday bounce-back is an exercise in futility and never ends well.  This year I’ve been pondering changes and goals and positive paths for a few weeks or months and I think I’m finally at the point that I can actually articulate the things I want to implement in my life. My birthday is coming up this month so what better time to make my new year’s resolutions?  Stay tuned…

Posts with pictures are always fun, so on a completely unrelated note, here, I made this**:

Mitered Cowl

* Note that I am not dissing journaling in general – I know a lot of people find it healing and cathartic and absolutely essential for their mental, spiritual, and emotional well-being. I’m just saying I’m not one of those people.  Who knows, maybe I do it wrong.  Whatever. Just because it doesn’t work for me doesn’t mean it doesn’t have value, so please, don’t flame me.

** Modeled by my lovely sister.  Pattern here (not mine, I’m not that creative), yarn is Classic Elite Yarns Liberty Wool in colorway 7890.


Posted by: thewoobdog | August 21, 2013

We Interrupt This Blog for a Favorite-Author Plug

Ok, I know this isn’t a literary blog (it’s not really an anything-blog, it’s just sort of little random snippets of my life and occasional scary insights into my sense of humor), but reading is a huge part of my life and has been ever since I learned that letters make words and words make stories.  For as long as I can remember, I have devoured the printed word, and I discovered early on that fantasy and science fiction were my favorite kind of literary escape –  I read Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy when I was nine and from that point on I was hooked.  My tastes now are wider-ranging, but a huge part of my personal library (and the selection of books I read over and over) is still in the fantasy/sci-fi genre.

It was probably two or three years after discovering fantasy that I came across Robin McKinley’s Blue Sword in my school library, and she instantly became one of my favorite authors of all time (and she’s pretty much stayed right up there, even decades later).  One of my prized possessions as a child was my very own copy of The Door in the Hedge that I found at the used-book store and kept until it eventually disintegrated into a pile of dust and limp gritty pages (I had to rely on the library for most books as a child, so any that were mine-all-mine were guarded as carefully as treasure).  Once I got a job and started earning money, my book collection increased exponentially and Robin’s books were some of the first I bought.

Throughout the years I’ve continued trying to round up every McKinley book I can get my hands on (and some aren’t easy to find, let me tell you!).  I’ve found that even if one of her books falls outside my normal interest-zone, I know I’ll like it just because she wrote it.  She has an intriguing and snarkily amusing way of looking at life and her books are always excellent and never mundane (much like her blog – you don’t even know how excited I was to discover that she not only had a blog, but that she updates it regularly. I can’t even describe how happy this makes me.)  Her world-creation and character development are masterful and despite often dealing with real-life issues, she never succumbs to the temptation to allow her writing to devolve into stuffy and stilted idealogical rambling (something I really wish I could say about all authors).  Her ramblings are always thought-provoking and well-suited to the characters, situations, and worlds she’s writing about and never fail to add to the storyline rather than detract from it. 😉

Go. Buy her books.

Go read Chalice if you like books that challenge you as a reader (I promise you won’t figure out most of what the heck is going on til you’re at least two-thirds of the way in). Go read (for the love of all that’s holy, you must read) Blue Sword if you have any affection at all for fantasy (this is a great book for younger readers, too – nothing objectionable or parental-advisory-worthy).  If you like contemporary vampire fic, go read Sunshine (the only book she has released in this genre at this point).  Want a completely unexpected and reimagined retelling of a fairytale? Go read Rose Daughter or Spindle’s End (trust me, neither is anything you’d ever imagine and you won’t be disappointed).  Want to gnash your teeth and curse at an author for leaving you gasping with a b*tch of a cliffhanger? Go read Pegasus (thankfully the first of a trilogy, or Robin’s fans would have lynched her by now). 😉  There are so many more and they are all worth reading, for young and old alike.

There are plenty of Robin’s books in publication right now – all of the above and more – so go grab one (or twelve) to keep you occupied for the next few weeks, because on September 26 her newest book, Shadows, hits the shelves (I’ve already pre-ordered it on my Kindle, but you can enter to win a free signed copy [as I’ve done and am doing!] – details here).  I’ve shamelessly cut-and-pasted the description (from the Amazon page) below:

A compelling and inventive novel set in a world where science and magic are at odds, by Robin McKinley, the Newbery-winning author of The Hero and the Crown and The Blue Sword, as well as the classic titles Beauty, Chalice, Spindle’s End,Pegasus and Sunshine

Maggie knows something’s off about Val, her mom’s new husband. Val is from Oldworld, where they still use magic, and he won’t have any tech in his office-shed behind the house. But—more importantly—what are the huge, horrible, jagged, jumpy shadows following him around? Magic is illegal in Newworld, which is all about science. The magic-carrying gene was disabled two generations ago, back when Maggie’s great-grandmother was a notable magician. But that was a long time ago.

Then Maggie meets Casimir, the most beautiful boy she has ever seen. He’s from Oldworld too—and he’s heard of Maggie’s stepfather, and has a guess about Val’s shadows. Maggie doesn’t want to know . . . until earth-shattering events force her to depend on Val and his shadows. And perhaps on her own heritage.

In this dangerously unstable world, neither science nor magic has the necessary answers, but a truce between them is impossible. And although the two are supposed to be incompatible, Maggie’s discovering the world will need both to survive.

You can read a little excerpt from the beginning of the book here.

Seriously – do yourself a favor and pop over to your local bookstore or library (or friendly Amazon Kindle page) and grab yourself (and maybe your kids) some McKinley.

Posted by: thewoobdog | August 2, 2013

Just a Quickie

Just a quick update – I promise I will elaborate further in the (hopefully-near) future.  The secret that I have been fighting to keep behind clenched lips is that for my hubby’s 50th birthday, we are going to London!  It’s the top on his list of places he’d like to visit (me, I’d probably pick somewhere more exotic, but I’m still excited), so for the past three or four years (because, you know, I kind of knew in advance that he’d be turning the big 5-0) I’ve been tucking away money whenever I could.  I did all the final planning, purchased tickets, found a hotel, etc, this spring and I made a little WalMart photobook with our itinerary, pictures of our hotel and the places we’d be visiting, general tourist information, etc, for him to open on his birthday.  Suffice it to say, he was surprised – I counted four “Are you kidding me?!” and three “No way!” comments while he flipped through the booklet, HAHA.  We’re going in October, so at some point around there expect to be inundated with pics from across the pond.


TBear’s Birthday Surprise

Notice the British-themed box I wrapped it in?  Thank you, TJ Maxx.

Posted by: thewoobdog | June 25, 2013

Veg Overload

Okay, so the CSA share thing?  Awesome.  I love knowing that we are eating fresh, local, organic produce and supporting local farmers.  I love having a whopping big load of vegetables handed to me twice a week without me having to make any purchasing decisions.  I get what I get and that’s that – it’s based entirely on what was ready for harvest on the farms that week.  This is why I knew it would make me try new things – like, somehow I ended up with like a pound and a half of kohlrabi.  I’ve never cooked (or eaten) kohlrabi in my life – I always just thought of it as that weird space alien vegetable hanging out in the produce section.  Thank goodness for my Victory Garden Cookbook – it’s organized alphabetically by vegetable and has tips on harvesting, yields, and preparation, not to mention dozens of recipes for every vegetable (even kohlrabi).  I’ve currently got bread n’ butter pickled kohlrabi (with some zucchini, shallots, and onions thrown in) hanging out in the fridge courtesy of a VG recipe.

So all that’s great, and I’m trying new things and eating more vegetables and the local organic fresh thing is just dandy, but

I work full-time.  I don’t own canning equipment.  My fridge has two (count them – two) crisper drawers.  My household consists of me and my husband – in other words, two (TWO) people.  My mom and I went in together on the CSA thing this year so we could try out two different ones, so we essentially get two full shares each week and split them.  The problem is, my mom’s out of town a lot in the summer (and much less adventurous in the kitchen than I am, due in part to the fact that neither my sisters nor my dad like trying new things), so for the last couple of weeks I’ve ended up with two full shares of produce.  Now, the description says that a half-share is good for a couple, and a full-share is good for a family of four or a couple that eats a lot of vegetables.  Thankfully, the growing season has gotten off to a slow start here this year, so the shares haven’t been bursting with veg for the most part, but still – two full shares is waaaaaay too much for two people to eat in a week, and my fridge is full to bursting with greens and vegetables. 

If I didn’t work, I could probably figure out some way to cook/preserve/prep/freeze most of it, but I’m getting buried in produce here.  With Saturday’s share, I ended up having to just chop the greens off most of the root vegetables (even though they’re edible, yes, I know) and give to the thriving colony of rabbits that lives near our house, since there was no way we could manage to eat all of those greens in addition to the swiss chard, green leaf lettuce, red leaf lettuce, and broccoli rabe we got (and not even considering the pound of braising greens, collard greens, head of butter lettuce, and two bunches of swiss chard still in the crisper from last Tuesday).  So I kept the salad turnips, carrots, beets, and kohlrabi but guiltily tossed their nutrient-rich, healthy, leafy tops…

I pick up our other share this afternoon… HELP!

Posted by: thewoobdog | June 24, 2013

Beet It

I know, I know – incredibly unoriginal title.  I only have a minute, though, and I wanted to write down the recipe I came up with (inspired by a Williams-Sonoma recipe) to utilize the bounty in my Saturday CSA share a couple of weeks ago.  The share contained baby beets, beet greens, spinach, green onions, radishes (which my mom took – she goes nuts for fresh baby radishes), two heads of young leaf lettuce, and a half dozen eggs.  I’ve never eaten beet greens (it just never occurred to me to that they could be eaten), so this whole getting-a-CSA-share-to-get-me-to-try-new-things is really paying off.

Anyway, here’s last night’s experiment:

Spinach and Beet Green Salad with Roasted Baby Beets:

Approx 1 pound baby beets, washed well

1 tsp coconut oil (or oil of your choice)

Salt & pepper

Two bunches of young beet greens, washed well, stems removed

A couple of handfuls of baby spinach leaves, washed well

1/4 c. slivered mint leaves

2 Tbsp. green onions, sliced thin

2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar

1 tsp. Dijon mustard

1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil

Segments cut (avoid membranes) from two small oranges (about 3/4 c.)

1/2 oz. feta, crumbled

2 Tbsp. toasted pecans, walnuts, or pine nuts

Trim beets, toss in 1 tsp oil of your choice, season lightly with salt and pepper, and wrap tightly in foil.  Roast at 425 for about 25 minutes.  Cool, peel, and dice.

Combine green onions, mint, vinegar, mustard, and 1/4 c. olive oil in a jar; shake well.  Toss beet greens and spinach with vinaigrette.  Separate into bowls and top with orange segments, diced beets, feta, and pecans.

Posted by: thewoobdog | June 3, 2013

June Already?

I can’t believe I haven’t blogged since March. Gaaaah. Slacker. Come to think of it, I haven’t done much of anything since March – tax season forcibly hijacked any semblance of focus or attention I had managed to cultivate and I’ve been pulled randomly from this thing to that thing ever since. I’ve started a lot of stuff and I have all these big plans to actually accomplish stuff over the next few months, but I have yet to actually follow through with anything in a realistic way. I figure a procrastinatory post is better than no post at all, so I thought I would write down the items in my mental scrapheap and maybe by listing them I’ll actually be inspired to, you know, do something to further them along:

I’ve started a couple of baby afghans, only one of which has any hope of being finished (I decided I hated the yarn for the other and cut my losses before I had too much time invested) – these are for my nephew who will be making his debut sometime in early August.  It’s much harder to find cute baby patterns to knit for little boys than for little girls, especially since I refuse to knit something for a baby that can be purchased cheaper, more practically, or cuter in a store.

I have big plans to eat right and get active this summer – my CSA share pickups started a couple of weekends ago so I have fresh, organic, local produce to work with every week, which I’m hoping will encourage me to start cooking lovely fresh meals again (a laudable habit that I unfortunately got out of in the craziness of tax season). I got out of the habit of doing Zumba during tax season, too, because I had to work so late most nights.  I want to start going to that again a couple of times a week, but I also re-activated my gym membership and I want to start doing cardio-weightlifting again at least twice a week.  I firmly believe that the purchase of a new iPod Nano will motivate me in my fitness endeavors (cute new toys are statistically proven to increase exercise time by at least 30%, right? Right?) (we will ignore the fact that by this reasoning, I would be a marathon-runner with 14% body fat, given my past purchases of whatever DVD-cute-weights-MP3-player-new-workout-clothes-matching-shoes-fun-accessories I just KNEW would motivate me to be all fit, all the time).

I want to plan a surprise (hopefully – watch him start reading my blog now when he hasn’t for five years) 50th birthday party for my husband (only a month left to get this one marked off – ack). It’s a milestone so I feel like I should go a little beyond the standard immediate-family-in-the-backyard-cookout thing (apparently dashes are my thing today – makes a nice change from my normal obsession with ellipses).  I get tired just thinking about it.  There’s no way we can do it at our house, so I have to somehow find another place to have it that will hold 40 or so people but not cost the earth.  I’m thinking for the food part of things that I’ll do a hot dog bar – I can grill/broil/pan-fry/steam/boil the hotdogs in advance and keep them warm in a covered pan on a grill or something, and put out every condiment and topping imaginable so people can just go to town and make whatever kind of trashy hot dog they want.  Then I can have guests bring whatever random side item they feel like making.  It’s the easiest, least-expensive option I can think of and hot dogs are one of his favorite foods, so it’s a win-win.

I’m trying to plan a surprise trip for his birthday – I won’t disclose any details here, just in case.

I have never in my life worn (or had any desire to wear) a shawl, but I have this new book that actually has patterns in it I like and I bought the yarn to do one.  I started one yesterday and I’d really like to finish it by fall (it’s in sort of autumn-y colors) – I know that sounds like plenty of time but I’m a very ADHD knitter. I am constantly distracted by new yarn or patterns. SQUIRREL.

I want to clear out my pantry – I have so much food in there that I’ve bought and then never used, and I’ve decided that from now on (ie, from the time I get around to cleaning out the crap I already have) I’m going to start just buying what I need when I need it.  Sales don’t save any money if you throw out or don’t use half of what you buy.  Ditto the fridge and freezer.  I have more blasted condiments in the fridge than I can count (how many kinds of mustard do I really need?  I mean, seriously).

I’m working on brushing up on my Spanish and learning French and German (the first I have a degree in, the latter two I had a couple of years in but never grew proficient).  Thankfully, this is made much easier by Duolingo, which I found out about from a presentation on – this is a fascinating video, you should totally go watch it (I promise, it is riveting stuff).  Who even thinks this way?  Brilliant, brilliant people. Seriously.  Blows my mind just thinking about it.  My small, small mind.

Wow.  This has actually turned into a legit blog post.  I love it when that happens.  I think I’ve rambled enough, so I’ll go now.  Hopefully I will not wait months to blog again.

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