Author Archives: TaMara
Bertie, Gertrude, and Candi were looking forward to their tropical vaca. Candi packed the tanning oil and beach hats. Gertrude managed the maps and tunes. Bertie was in charge of snacks. Loaded up and ready for takeoff, in blew a sudden storm. Alas, their flight was canceled. Instead of getting their feathers ruffled, they made the best of it with what can set any heart aflutter: a little retail therapy.
My alter ego is writing short photo stories on Instagram. You can follow here.
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Here, as they say, is the rest of the story.
Mabel and Maddie have been molting and stopped laying for a few weeks. We are back to eggs this week, but their regular schedule is a bit off. Usually, their eggs are waiting for me in the morning. But a few times this week, there would be one and later in the day, another.
A few days ago Maddie disappeared mid-morning to the nesting box. I thought to myself, I’ll have to remember to recheck it. I was working at the kitchen table (a change of pace from my office) and a while later, Maddie came up to the open patio door and started making a racket. And trust me, of the two, Maddie’s ability to make a commotion is unmatched by Mabel…or the Danes.
I asked her what she wanted and went out to make sure there weren’t any predators in the area. Then I remembered I was going to check the nesting box. Sure enough, she’d left me an egg (hers are whitish, Mabel’s are blue, and that brown egg is the fake egg I leave in the box). I recovered it and took it into the house. Maddie went about her day.
That’s when I realized she thought of me as the keeper of the eggs.
Ducks are very smart and creatures of habit. So, of course, she expected me to come and get her egg, I always do.
…asking for a friend. 🤔
A few weeks back, the city once again sent out an alert: the apples in the city apple orchard were ready to be picked. So for the love of all that is holy, come and relieve them of these apples. Branches break, people get zonked by falling apples, the ground gets covered, so they seriously encourage people to “come and get it.” They are as organic as they come – other than some pruning, the city does nothing to them.
Roger’s Grove Nature Area consists of 54.9 acres adjacent to the St. Vrain Greenway and includes Fairgrounds Lake, trails, a shelter, outdoor amphitheater, restrooms, native landscaping, demonstration gardens and an apple grove with fruit free for your harvest! Design and construction of the nature area was primarily funded by the Roger and Roberta Jones Foundation. Roger Jones (1915-1995), enjoyed walking along the river with his wife Roberta (1913-1992). Both educators in the St. Vrain Valley School system, the Jones’ wanted to contribute an environment for children and adults to visit, learn and enjoy. Roger’s Grove was developed as a nature area, arboretum and outdoor learning center.
…there are about 50 apple trees, of eight varieties, planted at Roger’s Grove, and they have not been sprayed with pesticides.
With all my apples, I made my Perfect Apple Crisp, recipe here, with a bit of twist. I came away with quite a few apples, and while a few are good to eat, most are better for baking. They sat in my fruit drawer for a week, and I decided I needed to do something with them, especially since I didn’t know if any of them were buggy – I didn’t want the bugs to multiply.
So I dumped them all in the sink, washed them and then sliced them up. I put them in my Multi-Pot (Instant Pot twin) and threw in about 1/2 cup of brown sugar, a dash of salt and just enough water to keep it from burning before the apples let go their juice. I set it for three minutes, assuming much of the cooking would take place while it pressurized. It was a good call.
I did the fast-release method, and the apples were perfect. Still had some shape and I thought would be great for baking. I had planned to freeze some, but best-laid plans and all, I instead went on an apple crisp spree. I’ve baked three in the last two weeks. Mmm–mmmm.
Oh, and those chicken thighs – I’ll put that recipe up later. Until then…
There are those songs you hear once, and they just stick. I had to go look for this one after hearing on the radio. Just a good summer song.
I’ve started a new photo series and you can follow along here.
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I have a couple of recipes to post this week – one on the new grill and one in the instant pot. Until then…
Because some people like the feel of the book in their hands. Including my mom. 😀
A Sexy, Witty, Murderous Adventure
My life was not going as I had imagined. But I had a plan:
FIRST, in between being chased by Scary Dudes and frequently dodging bullets, I was determined to solve the murder of mysterious lawman, Mike Fraser. He died in my arms after involving me in a criminal investigation, so this was personal.
NEXT, I was going to get my Soon-To-Be-Ex to sign our divorce papers (a divorce he had insisted on, by the way). Then I would be free to take full advantage of the well-muscled U.S. Marshal that was now guarding my body, day and night.
FINALLY, I was going to find my dream job as far away from Peoria, IL and as close to an ocean as I could possibly get. It was a simple plan.
All I had to do was live long enough to implement it.
And I was definitely not going to fall in love with the sexy U.S. Marshal sitting at my kitchen table. Even if every cell in my body was saying he was too good to let go.
For TJ Wilde, it was difficult to tell who was more dangerous, the men trying to kill her or the man she was falling in love with…
RUN AGROUND is a wild ride through a small town. Corrupt cops, illegal gambling, lascivious morticians, contract killers and one sexy U.S. Marshal keep TJ Wilde on her toes while she tries to solve a murder. She’s also on the hunt for the jerks who keep ransacking her apartment. All while she tries to ignore the hunky man with the potential to mend her broken heart…or shatter it irrevocably.
Keep up to date with my progress on the second book in the trilogy, UNDERWAY, follow or send me a friend requestion on Facebook
And of course, watch for blog updates here.
I love ropa vieja salad bowls. I made two big batches the past few weeks in the Multi-Pot electric pressure cooker. The second batch, pictured above, I forgot the onions. Not sure how I did that! I thought about putting grilled onions in after the fact, but that would have meant more cooking. I always omit the olives, no mistake there.
For whatever reason, and you can probably deduce from my minimal posting the last few months, but I’m really off cooking. The best I do each week is either grill up a bunch of things one night or make large batches of something in the multi-pot and serve it over rice or lettuce for the next few days. It’s not necessarily pretty, but gets us through the week, along with the fresh veggies that are abundant. We are just about out of corn-on-the-cob season, and I’m sad.
Meanwhile, I’m so not in the cooking mood, that is a store-bought tortilla bowl. Which I never do, it’s so easy to make your own.
- 1 tbs olive oil
- 3 lbs chuck roast, round roast or flank steak
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 2 large tomatoes, chopped or pureed (1 can crushed tomatoes substitute)
- 1/4 cup green olives (oh, so very optional)
- 1 small onion, thinly sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 tsp crushed oregano (or 1 tbsp fresh leaves)
- 1 tsp salt (more if desired)
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper (more if desired)
- cilantro for garnish
In the pressure cooker, heat oil and brown meat on all sides. Add remaining ingredients (except cilantro…and in my case, olives). Check your electric cooker guide, I cooked mine on the meat setting for 1-1/2 hours. I let it depressurize and then shredded the beef with a fork.
You can also use the slow-cooker method and slow cook for 8-10 hours.
Serve with tortillas, over rice or on a salad. Garnish with fresh cilantro.
Mabel and Maddie have been with us a year. I totally forgot their duck-versary. Which I should have totally remembered because once again, my niece was visiting and it was the two of us who rescued them a year ago.
Once they reached sexual maturity – about October of last year – when I assume they were 6 months old (my guess has always been they were “Easter ducks” that were dumped when they got too big and messy – they are clearly hand raised) – I’ve gotten about an egg a day each from them. These get scrambled and fed to the dogs. I usually do a big batch and refrigerate and freeze until needed. This week, suddenly no eggs. None. From what I’ve read, I think we are looking at molting-season. Which would explain the fact I have more feathers than eggs each morning in the nesting box.
We will have to see if they are as prolific this winter as last – they rarely missed an egg day – even with the shorter, colder days. But they were young then, and we all know how enthusiastic and energetic we were in our teens. LOL
Pool drama. I bought them a huge pool early in the summer, which they shunned. See why here. But even after I remedied that situation, they rarely used it because it was too difficult to get in and out of – the sides were just too steep. Domestic ducks cannot fly, not even well enough to get out of the pool.
So I went back to the smaller one. Which they rarely used, either. Why? Because I thought it should stay in the “duck yard” adjacent to my veggie garden and their coop. They thought it should be in the main yard, where all the action is. Finally, a few weeks ago, I moved it to their desired location and you can see the results.
Back to my niece’s visit. I had to drive her home and since I was only going to be gone for two nights and I was taking the dogs with me, I figured I would leave the ducks out. They hate being cooped anyway and I thought I’d risk the predators – I’ve seen absolutely no raccoons in this neighborhood (unlike my last neighborhood where they ran like gangs of marauders through the street). We do have a Great Horned Owl, but these two can spot a bald eagle so high up, I have trouble seeing it, and either freeze in the grass or move into the bushes. So it was just easier than hiring the pet sitter for such a short time. And the cats are perfectly fine for two days – the litter boxes not so much – but the cats themselves, I think they enjoyed the house to themselves, especially after a month of non-stop company coming and going.
Anyway, when I got back, it was clear the ducks were traumatized by being left alone – I tried to explain to them being left to find their own way to the nesting box was not the same as being abandoned in a city park pond. But for days they followed me around, hung out by the patio door or the back door and generally moped. If I were a decent person I would have bought them mealworms (horribly expensive!) but instead, I bribed them with corn flakes, cilantro and bags of bolted lettuce from my brother’s garden. They came around.
So that is your yearly duck update (ha! I didn’t realize I had so much to say about them). If you have any duck questions, let me know. Between these two and my first flock, years ago, I’ve researched about every concern you could have.
The other night, when I was closing blinds, I saw this big girl outside the bedroom window. Huge and her web goes from my roof, to my lilac bush, to the plum tree. She hung out for a few days and I watched her catch and wrap several meals.
Today when I got back from a walk with the dogs, her web was gone. I was afraid a bird had gotten her, but it looks like the wind just took her web, she was safely up on my eave. She has left now, probably found a less vulnerable place for her web.
I guess I won’t wake up tomorrow to “HAVE A GOOD DAY” woven in a web.