Thoughtful Thursday: New Year’s Resolutions, the 2015 Edition

Yes, it is that dreaded time again.  The time for New Year’s resolutions.  I kept the momentum going on the blog for one full year.  Even though that was not the original resolution, the date-night resolution had the side benefit of bringing me back to the blog.

And speaking of that date night resolution, I believe I should speak a bit on that…my only resolution of last year (this year still?).

Um…it lasted…sort of…for about 6 months.  Things went smoothly during that time.  I think we were both happier in our relationship, as parents, and in our respective careers during those six months of intentionally carving out time each week with each other.  And then…in the melee of returning home from Canada…the patriotic holidays…getting ready for back to school…and busy-ness at both of our worklife environments…things (date night) fell to the way-side.

Leading up to Christmas, I broached the subject again with Josh.  He agreed that we needed to make a return to the date nights but that we should definitely wait until after the first of the year.

So…resolution #1 of 2015 is a carbon copy (sort of) of my only resolution of 2014:  to have an at-home date night once a week (usually on Saturdays) and blog about it here within 24 hours of the date’s completion.  I am not going to outlaw movie nights because they tended to be our most successful (and we have A LOT of movies to watch post-Christmas and birthdays, thank you very much!).  I do want to do movie and a treat, however (although don’t be surprised if I don’t supply the recipes quite yet…some of them may make an appearance in next year’s 25 Days of Holiday Goodies).

And, speaking of blogging, I want to continue to blog, albeit a bit more faithfully.  My goal is a post a day and a return to the set blogging schedule (Meal Plan Monday, etc.).  If…and that’s a pretty big if…I can manage to keep up the momentum, I may try to upgrade my WordPress account next Christmas.  Again…that depends on if I don’t let myself or you…my faithful readers…down.

Resolution #3:  Make a meal plan and stick to that sucker.  Like glue.  Like KraGle even (if you’ve seen The Lego Movie, you know what I’m talking about).  I’m tired of nasty Thursday night I-have-no-idea-what-to-do-for-dinner-and-I’m-tired-anyway-so-let’s-eat-out surprises.  Have you noticed that it’s always on Thursdays when things fall apart, meal plan-wise?

Resolution #4:  Just as with his dad, I want to spend more quality time with Muffin.  I may even instill a Mama-and-Muffin date night, but I haven’t decided yet.

And speaking of Muffin…yet another resolution…let’s call it Resolution #5 and the last one:  I want to create school lunches for him (beginning in August) of the variety that I’ve been researching since before Josh and I were even married.  Maybe not quite Weelicious…but I want him to be proud to carry his lunch every day.

Five should be enough, right?

What are your resolutions, or even your hopes and dreams, for this year of 2015?

Happy New Year!

This Just In…Lord of the Rings Freebie on Google Play!

Hullo, all!  In between the craziness of preparing things for the holiday season (I will eventually get the chocolate out from under my fingernails), I’ve noticed a few things when I’ve gone to Google Play.  Yes, for all the iHeads in my life, Google.  Play.  As in Android.  (And I know my sister is secretly snickering in front of her iPad while she reads this…yes…even from over 200 miles away I can hear you.  Yes, I know I have an iPhone.  And that I tried two or three times to access my Google Play account on it.  I’m special that way.)

First, if you don’t have The Lord of the Rings:  Fellowship of the Ring, it is available as a free purchase (not rental) from Google Play.  Simply go to “Movies and TV” from the Google Play homepage or app.  (I don’t think this carries over to iTunes…just sayin’.)  This is kinda like the free copy of Elf that I scored last year…or was it the year before?

Second, the freebie album of the week is from Linkin Park…not really kid friendly, but for all those LP fans out there, I would jump on this one!

Also–there is a Trans-Siberian Orchestra Christmas album available for Free!

Yay, Google!  Yay, Android!

(Sorry…had to sneak that in)

I don’t know how long these three will be available, so I would snatch them up soonest!


Where Are the Ninja Turtles? And Spongebob?

Raise your hand if you are a customer of a multimedia outlet (cable or satellite) who has been at odds with one of the grossly massive (and when I say grossly I mean disgustingly) media conglomerates (Disney, Fox, Viacom, etc.).

Now that we’ve all done the wave and tested our deodorant, I will continue.  When the message aimed at spiking my blood pressure and raising my ire against Sudden Link flashed across my screen, I was taken in like a TV watching, drooling zombie.  Visions raced through my mind of my son not getting to watch Spongebob, Ninja Turtles, Monsters Versus Aliens, Kung Fu Panda, and Backyardigans.  I temporarily downed the shots of Kool-Aid.

With vehemence, I addressed the situation with Sudden Link.  On Tuesday night.  And again this weekend.  Josh, who was also not impressed with the decision for the two to divorce without our just compensation, soon became on the fence of just who was at fault.

I tried to say there were shades of gray of guilt in both of this.  There was, however, regardless of the measure of guilt shared between the two or squarely on the side of one of the two parties, a side of clear, white, shining, pure innocence:  the customer.  In this divorce, we, the Sudden Link customers, were the children of the squabbling parents.  Sudden Link was the stern and matter of fact (“We are getting divorced and there is nothing you can do about it”) parent, whereas the thugs at Viacom were the deadbeat dads who were offering free candy and amusement park rides to those who sided with them.

Both slung mud at the other.

After several days of fuming at Sudden-Link-parent and having unsatisfying conversations with several people at Sudden Link over several days, I finally reached a resolution I could be (sort of) happy with.

But during one of the conversations with the Sudden Link people, one person offered up this interesting tidbit:  Sudden Link had offered Viacom more money (just not as much as they wanted) with the option of having all of the Viacom channels available as a separate pay package.  Viacom refused.  That we would probably have done…paid for channels we now don’t miss.  Then came the point in time when I thought maybe everything was not what I thought it was.

I was still not happy with the bait-and-switch channels.  My son didn’t like Sprout when we had DirecTV (during the Viacom versus DirecTV crisis), and I didn’t like the idea of paying even more for snippets of PBS that I already pay taxes for…on PBS.  And Muffin is four years old; he’s a bit old for Baby First (and didn’t like it when we had DirecTV).  Most of the other channel choices I was not too impressed with…except Hallmark Movie Network (now called Hallmark Movies and Mysteries or Mysteries and Movies)…which wasn’t working.

But that bit about the Viacom pay package stuck in the back of my mind.  Along with the manipulation on both sides to get customers to do what they wanted them to (divorcing parents pitting the child against the other parent).

Then, today, I had my “aha” moment.  I could go to and probably access Muffin’s shows.  I go to the website, and I see a multitude of ads and pop ups (that occurred every time I clicked on anything) reminding me that evil Sudden Link took away over 23 channels that I needed desperately.  So I select a video to watch and click.  And up comes a message from Viacom stating that Sudden Link has blocked the video from playing.

Hmm.  This is when my loyalties started to turn.  If Sudden Link had been the villain responsible for this particular act, then wouldn’t they have put a message up?  By contrast, Sudden Link (as of right now) has no mention of Viacom on its homepage.  It’s all over the Viacom pages.  They even prompt you to go to  I thought that was a great idea.  I could contact Viacom from there.  Except…well…you can’t.  You can tweet and post on Facebook your vitriol directed at Sudden Link.  You can read Viacom’s smear campaign directed at Sudden Link (most of which has little to do with the Viacom versus Sudden Link issue).  You can e-mail Sudden Link.

Feeling energized (because obviously, since Viacom doesn’t want to hear from me, I MUST find a way to contact them), I looked up Viacom.  I Googled.  And went to Viacom’s corporate site, clicked “Contact Us,” and spent almost the entire 1,000 character allotment explaining to some Viacom flunky how little I need them.

But I also found another interesting article…one dated over four-and-a-half years ago.  I don’t know how I missed it, but Viacom sued YouTube over copyright infringement, etc.  Think the Napster suits.  Except uglier.  I saw a really REALLY ugly side to Viacom after reading the article that I had seen glimpses of on the Keep Viacom website.

Yah.  I’m over Viacom.  Deadbeat Daddy, I don’t need your cavity-causing snacks and vomit-inducing kiddiepark rides.  I’m tired of your lies, your manipulation, and your “too-big-for-your-britches-ness.”  I’m a Southern mama that wants to tell you from the bottom of your little hearts to bless your little heart.  (all insults intended)

Because, I realized, I don’t miss you.  My husband doesn’t miss you (as you didn’t bring any football-providing channels to the table).  My son hasn’t mentioned you since Tuesday.  You are forgotten except for a bad tummyache.

I also realized, there wasn’t much of you to like.  I used to like Nick at Night when I was a kid and you actually had good old programming on.  What happened to Green Acres?  And Donna Reed?  And The Patty Duke Show?  Oh, wait.  They are now on MeTV and Antenna Channel.  My cable provider provides those.

Comedy Central?  Puhleeze.  Colbert and Jon Stewart make me want to retch.  I will not be one of those tuning in to watch David Letterman’s replacement.  I never liked Chappelle Show (Is it even still on?) or South Park.

Nickelodeon, NickToons, TeenNick:  Well, I’ve never been fond of Spongebob.  We can purchase TMNT eps on Amazon or in the iStore.  Although I really don’t want to give Viacom any more money.

MTV?  Yes.  I want my child watching shows that glorify and promote teenage pregnancy.

VH1?  Daisy (our reality TV diva) prefers Bravo.

Spike?  The last time I checked I was made up of two X-chromosomes.

Honestly?  The only thing Muffin has wanted to watch?  Netflix and Disney Junior the Channel.

Dear Viacom:

We don’t miss ya.  Y’all are obsolete.


(Although we may not keep cable past the last football game aired this season…since that is our reason for keeping cable)

La Madeleine’s Tomato Basil Soup: A Post to Dallas, With Love

I’ve toyed with several openings to this post.  But…I should probably begin at the beginning.

Once upon a time, I went to Dallas.  This was nothing unusual.  From the time I was 13, Dallas was one of my favorite traveling destinations.  My sister and brother-in-law lived in the area for a few years, so my later adolescence and early adulthood were measured in trips to visit them, and go to some of my favorite places.  I remember one time when my mom and my sister went to a rubber stamp convention (in Grapevine, I think), so my brother-in-law and I went around to various places.  Basically, that day had one goal:  to cram as many mall visits as we could into one day.  I can’t remember if we visited 6…or 7…or was it 8, but I remember the fun I had that day.

Dallas was the city where I first tried Starbucks:  in the Dallas Galleria (called Galleria Dallas) on the second floor overlooking the ice skaters below.  My mom and I tried Caramel Macchiatos that day, and we were hooked.  At that time, there were no Starbucks in northwest Louisiana (and wouldn’t be for six more years), so Starbucks remained a Dallas-visit guilty pleasure.

In the same mall, on the “rink level,” there used to be a restaurant that became synonymous with Dallas visits.  (Yes, used to:  Note to Galleria Dallas management that may or may not ever read this post:  crawl to the owners of La Mad and beg for the return.  Note to owners of La Mad:  please return to the Galleria.  You are much needed missed.)  Designed around the French country kitchen theme, La Madeleine (La Mad to those that are drooling hungrily) has several yummies on the menu.  My original “poison” of choice was the cup of tomato-basil soup and a potato galette (and I have tried in vain to find a recipe for their potato galette, to no avail).  There were the breads with the jams, particularly the orange marmalade.  The bread at the time (I don’t know if the same is true today) was pretty much limitless and of many different sliced rustic varieties.  I can’t remember when we asked the oh-so-necessary question about the possibility of purchasing the marmalade (The jars of tomato basil soup were available for purchase in the restaurant at the time), but I remember the looks of shock on my mom and sister’s face when we were told by an employee that the marmalade was Smucker’s brand.

The soup is very acidic; we thought for sure there was lemon in the soup.  When, a few years later, I discovered a recipe online for the soup from one of the chefs at the restaurant and published in either the Fort Worth Star-Telegram or the Dallas Morning News, I received another La Mad-related shock:  there was absolutely no lemon juice in it whatsoever.  I began making the recipe and tweaking it slightly in my attempt to make it even more “La Mad-y.”

As the recipe attests, the soup is by no means low cal or low fat.  A stick of butter and a cuppa cream go in each batch.  This is one of those calorie splurges and worth every bite.  (Note:  I did taste it after pureeing it, and it was still yummy…just not La Mad yummy.)  I remember once becoming very protective of the soup.  We were in line behind two women who obviously were not fans of cream, butter, carbs, fats, sugar, or anything of the sort.  I remember the high pitched shriek of horrific disdain when an employee of La Mad asked them if they wanted the tomato basil soup: “Ohmigah, that is sooooo fattening!  No wayyy!”

I can understand eating in moderation, but I can’t understand (as I may have mentioned before) hating food.  These individuals clearly hated food.

In another interesting note:  after making the meal plan for this week, I actually had another (local) restaurant’s tomato-basil soup this week.  One of my coworkers seated at the table had never tried it and asked me what I thought of it.  I said it was good (and was about to gush about La Mad’s being better) when another coworker (who was also eating the soup) began gushing about the tomato basil soup that she was eating.  Sorry, not to be a downer about local restaurants, but that soup cannot hold a candle to La Mad’s.

Basically, that soup made me only crave La Mad’s some more.  I keep hoping that one will open locally, but so far, no such luck.

Dallas, by the way, was also the site of my honeymoon.  In fact, Josh and I breakfasted at La Mad at least once on our honeymoon trip (at the old Galleria location).

So, Saturday night was Souper Saturday.  Not intentionally, but we’ve had a bit of cooler weather lately, so it didn’t heat up the kitchen too much.  I can’t remember the last time that we didn’t top at 100 degrees at the start of August.  I’m lovin’ it!

Our basil plant is really hopping, which is the real reason that I wanted to make the soup.  Seriously, Josh snipped off two or three sprigs this morning, and you cannot even notice that he picked any.

I had to call my mom for amounts because, years ago, I made a scrapbook cookbook that I gave to her that had (at the time) my most recent incarnation of the soup.  That was my only copy of the recipe, and I couldn’t find the original source that I had found online years ago (It didn’t matter because I had tweaked it to the point that my recipe didn’t resemble the original…much).

Here’s what I did, today, that made the closest approximation to the soup that I have ever made:

With the tomato basil soup, we ate grilled cheese.

La Madeleine’s Tomato Basil Soup

4 (14-16 ounce) cans whole peeled tomatoes, liquid reserved (I used 2 cans that were 28 ounces each)

1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste

12-14 basil leaves (I used somewhere close to 20 or so leaves)

2 cans chicken broth (I used a 32-ounce carton)

1 stick of butter (Do not use margarine!)

1 cup whipping cream/heavy cream/heavy whipping cream

fresh cracked black pepper, to taste

Drain the tomato juice into the soup pot.  Using one hand, pierce and crush each tomato by hand into the soup pot.  Discard any tomato peel remnants (more than likely there will be some).  Note:  This is a very messy process.  Make sure to wash your hands thoroughly before crushing the tomatoes (and I always plan a bath for after to avoid orange nails).  Wash the basil leaves carefully and then pull them off of the stem.  Add them to the pot.  Stir in the tomato paste.  Pour in the broth.  Bring the heat under the pot to medium-medium high.  Bring to a boil, stirring constantly (because the tomato and the basil will stick to the bottom of the pot and scorch if you aren’t careful).  When you stir it and the mixture continues to boil, lower the heat to 2-3 (medium-low) and let simmer 30 minutes.  After 30 minutes, you have a few options, most of which are messy…but worth it.  I used an immersion blender to mince the basil and puree the tomatoes.  Some people choose to use a blender or a food processor.  If you use the immersion blender while the mixture is still hot, be prepared for burning splatters.  And let me just say, OUCH!  If you don’t use an immersion blender, make sure you return the mixture to the soup pot.

If the mixture has cooled, bring the heat slowly back up under medium-low heat.  The goal is to make the mixture warm enough to serve (and also warm enough for what happens next).  Melt the butter using the heat of the tomato mixture, stirring to allow the mixture to emulsify.  Pour in cream and stir.  Taste.  Add pepper to taste (I used close to a teaspoon, but I’ve seen recipes that call for as little as 1/4 teaspoon).  Serve with whatever floats your dinghy, in Saturday’s case:  grilled cheese.

My mom and I had an interesting conversation about grilled cheese when I called her for the recipe amounts yesterday.  I’ve recently discovered the joy of using mayo as the fat in the grilled cheese (that which makes grilled cheese all brown and crispy).  Mayo also is easier to spread than butter.  My mom is a butter proponent and melts the butter to brush on her grilled cheese.  I like my mom’s grilled cheese; don’t get me wrong.  But I think I would call the mayo-method grilled cheese “croque monsieur grilled cheese.”  The eggy compounds in the mayo lead to an almost French toast browning of the surface.  La Mad serves croque monsieurs (or they did at some point), so I feel that this is a nod to the “French-ness” of the dinner.

What is your favorite soup and sandwich combo?

This recipe was totally Muffin Approved.  He loved drinking the soup from a little condiment bowl as a sample and adored dunking his grilled cheese triangles in his mug o’ soup.

And (for all of you naysayers about the fat content of the soup) remember that cooked tomatoes contain more lycopene than any other food, with the exception of watermelon.  This is very important for masculine health.  So eat up on cooked tomato product, guys!

Muffin Approved

I should note that I did not let Muffin help with the tomato crushing.  I can’t even do this without squirting tomato innards all over the place (the goosh factor), so I didn’t want to see what Muffin would do to the kitchen as a result.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Happy Mother’s Day to all of you moms out there (including my mom, my mother-in-law, my sister, Oma, Grandma, Grandma Helen, and all of the mommies-to-be!

We had a fairly low-key Mother’s Day plan.  Sleeping late (HA!), brief shopping excursion to WalMart (and Target for meds), then brunch at the Horseshoe with Mom and Daddy, then relaxing (hopefully)!

Here is plate number 2 from the Horseshoe Brunch Buffet (at the Spread):

Can you tell that I like blue cheese?  And capers?  And smoked salmon?  And sushi?  And fried cabbage?  Yes, I ate that for breakfast/brunch.

Before that, while shopping, I continued my obsession.  I tend to be a bit obsessed with the special interest magazines from Better Homes and Gardens and the Special Collectors Edition of Taste of Home magazines.  For Mother’s Day, Josh bought me the following:

For my financial health, it’s best if I’m not near the magazine section (or the checkout stands) of Walmart or Target during the fall and winter months.  I tend to binge on these mags at Halloween and Christmas.  I was simply going to make note of the recipes in the Taste of Home No-Bake one that I was interested in and find them on Taste of Home’s website online.  But they have Top Tips that are not part of the recipes but that are really neat.  And I saw the Better Homes and Gardens Special Interest Weeknight Mexican one.  And it was all over.

Then, we went to Target and I found the other two.  I literally cannot resist them.  At all.

No matter what I do, they tend to be on my birthday and Christmas lists each year.

It’s gone beyond an obsession.  It’s an addiction.

And a dangerous one.

I’m going to go start a support group for it now.

We will be meeting next to the tall stack of Taste of Home Special Collectors Issues and Better Homes and Gardens Special Interest Magazines.  Not that we will be poring over them or anything.  It’s aversion therapy.  Yah.  That’s it.

Oooooooooooo Pretty.


The Horrible Day and the Silver Lining on That Very Dark Cloud

First of all, let me say that I have tons to post that I hope to get to eventually.  We had Easter and Muffin’s birthday party at my sister’s over the weekend, and it was a blast!  Muffin and my youngest nephew had a great time playing (they are 19 months apart) and driving my oldest nephew crazy.  😉

But Saturday night, the night of the party, I knew that my sinus infection that so painfully had been in my cheekbones for months had decided to move up above my eyes so that I had “foggy head.”  Today is Tuesday, and foggy head is still with me.

I should note that I have chronic sinusitis.  Chronic.  And I take it until I can’t anymore and go to the doctor (or the walk-in), get an antibiotic (even let them tell me that regardless of the screaming pain in my sinus cavities that it must be fibromayalgia or, my personal favorite, tonsilitis…but by that point I don’t care as long as they give me the antibiotic), and get better for a bit.  The reason that I sit there and take it is so that I don’t become resistant to antibiotics.  (And, since I have something non-contagious, I don’t want to catch something contagious as I go to the doctor.  Yes, it’s a thought process, albeit a flawed one.)

Today ended Easter break and ushered in a return to work.  Still head foggy from the sinusitis moving upstairs, I really should have taken my own advice and called in.  Really.  I should.

Instead, my head fogginess coupled with driving to work in the dark (my choice, I admit it, but I tend to get more done before the school day starts than I do in the afternoon when I’m exhausted and beaten up by the day’s events) and the members of my neighborhood providing me a lovely obstacle course to drive around by parking in the street…while…I misjudged the distance from my passenger front fender to the truck facing me…and the truck won.

Really won.

My little baby hybrid and my legs…didn’t win.  I will spare you the picture of my bruised legs.  This is a food blog, not a never-eat-again-because-disgusted blog.

So, I called the school secretary and explained to her that I wasn’t going to be making it in today.  Ouch!  Contacted Josh who was at home with Muffin (thank goodness Muffin was not in the car with me).  Contacted the police.  Tried to contact the owner of the truck twice by ringing the doorbell.  Didn’t do so well with that one.  Contacted my assistant principal who had already heard from the secretary and was about to call me.  Contacted the insurance company.  Waited until a time when I wouldn’t scare my parents (and not wake them up) to call my parents.  Contacted the insurance company and the rental car company.  Again.  And then had Josh contact the rental car company a few times for good measure.  I have plans to go back to work tomorrow, people!

Declined medical care on site (which I think my sister, upon hearing about the accident, is still angry about).  Let me just explain my reasoning: 1) $500 deductible on car insurance + $500 deductible on hospitalization/ER for health insurance only to sit in the ER for hours because bruised shins and a scraped upper chest and an abraided arm probably don’t rate too high, triage-wise.  (And if I were a victim of a real emergency, I would be a bit put out with someone wasting hospital resources on something so trivial)  2)  I wanted to go home.  Keep in mind, sinusitis=feeling sick and woozy.  I wanted a nap.  3) I knew I was going to have to be on hand to deal with all the insurance stuff.  4)  I received my rental car at 2:30.  I was not going to have my parents have to be my chauffeurs in all of this.  So, I had no car to go to the ER or the doctor until then.  By then, I was completely worn out.

But the bright spots of the silver lining:

1) Muffin took care of me, bringing me “flowers” from the backyard and showering me with snuggles and smiles.  He felt very grown up and proud of himself for it.

2)  I have some of the best coworkers.  When one of us is hurt or in trouble, you can always expect an outpouring of calls and texts and prayers.  I appreciate all of those…and all of my coworkers…immensely.

3)  I won my first online giveaway, sponsored by one of my fave foodie blogs, The Slow Roasted Italian.  Yes, of the pretzel bites fame (in fact, when I told Josh and my mom about it, that’s how I presented it to them).

A picture of that lusciousness deserves repeating:

There.  That picture makes me feel better!

As I said, I hope to post much more of this weekend (well…minus the wooziness caused by sinusitis) shortly (including a post that I’ve been working on FOREVER that I should now be able to move from the Draft Slush Pile).

I hope everyone had a great day and that tomorrow is even better!

Freezer “Cooking”: The Ground Meat Project

Once upon a time for Christmas I asked for a Kitchen Aid Mixer meat grinder attachment.  And…I received one!  Little did I know when I first asked for it a few years ago that it would become a near necessity.  The news has become riddled with stories of contaminated ground meat, meat that isn’t from the animal its advertised, and ground beef cut with dog food (wait…that was my sister’s personal experience).

Needless to say, I am now a bit leery of ground meat.  And dare I not say, “pink slime“?  I’ve been unable to eat at the golden arches since.  (Brief pause here to shudder repeatedly)

Now that I’ve got that out of my system…I’ve been off of the freezer cooking bandwagon for a bit.  Namely because my freezer is a bit…umm…full.  And the outdoor freezer is a bit…umm…full also.  I had a few roasts (I still think there are a few more in the outdoor freezer) of beef chuck and a pork loin that were taking up a lot of space.

And…I have tourtierre on the meal plan for Sunday.  While perusing the reduced meats at the store the other day (I can’t remember if it was Kroger or Albertson’s), I happened to look at the ground pork (as in my eyes ran over it…stopped dead in shock…and ran back over it in a nearly whiplash motion).

Now, to review:  I pay no more than $1.99/lb. for a pork loin.  Or I don’t buy it.  Period.  Ground pork is packaged in 1 pound packages and usually not produced in the store (something about a health regulation regarding grinding beef and pork on the same machine–yet there’s no problem with cutting meat with dog food or something equally disgusting?).  I can expect it to be a bit more.

What I’m about to tell you gets scarier when you think that it would take two pounds (and thus two one-pound packages) of ground pork to make tourtierre.  The grocery store had ground pork ON SALE for $6/pound.  The new regular price was $8/pound.  No.  That’s simply not gonna happen.  I don’t care if I have to mince it by hand; it’s not gonna happen.

So, while Muffin was taking a bath, Josh cleaned and set up the grinder attachment on the mixer.  I divided the pork loin into (roughly) one-pound increments with the intent of putting 2 pounds worth in a bag, labeling it with “tourtierre,” and placing it in the indoor fridge for use on Sunday.

As we ground nearly 16 pounds of meat (and had Muffin join us for the beef portion of the evening), it really isn’t surprising that it took nearly three hours to grind the meat.

But I now have 1 2-pound package of ground pork, 3 1-pound packages of ground pork, 4 just-over-a-pound pages of ground chuck, and 6 three-quarter-pound packages of ground chuck (so that I can put two packages together and make enough for meatloaf).  And I know it’s real meat and what animal it came from.  And that it’s not treated with ammonia.

That’s good enough for me.

Here’s the photo montage of images of Muffin helping.  Don’t mind the hair; at that point, it had been a long day.

Muffin with the glove. He eventually upgraded to two.

Muffin listened very carefully and followed the safety procedures that we set in place (dropping the meat only in the feed tube and not sticking his hand or fingers in the feed tube).

While Muffin fed the meat to the “Meat Machine Factory,” as he called it, I sliced the next pound of meat. Josh pushed the meat down the tube using the plunger and monitored to make sure Muffin was following the rules set forth by us. He also bagged the meat on the bags I had tagged.

The thing that looks like a key in the foreground is the thing to shove the meat down the tube, safely.

Muffin receiving his second pair of gloves.

This activity was definitely Muffin Approved!

This activity was definitely Muffin Approved!

I heart cozy mysteries!

I love reading a lot!  One of my favorite reading blogs/author blogs is Cozy Chicks (  All of the authors that write for the site are really nice (very positive when they have communicated with me by e-mail and lots of them re-pin my pins on Pinterest) plus they are some of my favorite cozy mystery authors!

A cozy mystery is one that is usually thematic (cooking, knitting, sewing, books, gardening, beekeeping, etc.) without gratuitous sex, violence (other than the dead bodies), and “foul” language.  I love them because 1.  I don’t have to wade through gratuitous “stuff” to witness the whodunit? 2.  I get to find out about knitting, gardening, beekeeping, and other things I didn’t previously know about, and 3.  They are always very well-written and entertaining.  Two of my favorite writers for the blog, Lorna Barrett and Ellery Adams, even have new books coming out this summer (hint hint for future gift ideas…cough cough!).  I’ve been following Lorna Barrett’s Booktown Mystery series since the beginning.  The newest offering, Murder on the Half Shelf, promises to be spectacular.  For those of you who don’t yet have a Kindle (or other e-Reader), this will be her first hardcover edition (for those of you who only like to read books in hardcover).  Ellery Adams new series, the Charmed Pie Shoppe, is being introduced with Pies and Prejudice.  I’m really looking forward to this one because I’ve seen mentions of it on the CozyChicks blog for a few months now.

Both books will be available on July 3.  While you are waiting (impatiently) for them to arrive/be made available, please be sure to check out their blog at