Instant Pot Meatloaf and Mashed Potatoes

A perfect one-pot meal that cooks up in 35 minutes.

I wanted to make sure I could prepare it with just the accessories that came with my Multi-Pot. Continue reading


One thing I’ve discovered when I had ducks the first time – wildlife seems to think your yard is the safe place to hang out. Even with the big dogs.

This morning, a very young squirrel was walking around the garden, and I tried to shoo her away. She jumps on the fence, scurries over to me until we are eye to eye. She sits up with hands folded. Then I get the head tilt.

Continue reading

New Smoker/Grill

I’ve been wanting one for a while. This week seemed like a good time (why, how would you celebrate your new book?).

It was easy to put together and a breeze to operate. It is electric and uses wood pellets. It has a flame feature so when you want to sear that steak, you can do so easily.  It has temperature settings and a great meat probe.

I’m not sure Bixby approves. He’s suspicious of anything bigger than him.

I’ve grilled chicken, hot dogs and Italian sausage. Tomorrow I’m having a get together and I’m doing Chicken Kebabs.

Looking forward to a lot of summer grilling and I might even try to smoke a brisket.

I’m going to have a house-full all next week and then I’ll be on the road for a while, but I’ll have my computer with me, so I’ll try and do a few posts. I’m sure there will be a lot of good food. I’m wanting to try and create a strawberry-lemonade cake.

Until then…

Sunday Update: Puppehs!

So these two:

Yesterday was Bixby’s 4th birthday. Celebration was laid-back. LOL Scout also had a milestone – she turned 7 months this week. The house reflects the puppy energy. I’m forever picking up toys and the windowsill now features Scout’s mark – she’s chewed a big chunk of it out. Luckily, it’s repairable. Puppies.

I’ve been busy – painting the living room, refinishing the martini bar – which looks lovely and I need to get some photos up of it.  And the gardens take up a bit of time. But unlike last spring and summer when I spent most of my time moving and re-imagining what I had inherited – this spring it has mostly been sprucing things up, keeping the weeks controlled and enjoying the blooms. I’ll take it.

I have been doing absolutely no cooking. I need to have another dinner party to motivate me – and there is one on the schedule so I’ll have to think of something fun. There’s a new grill coming, which means it will definitely be of the outdoor nature. Probably too soon for garden veggies. But a girl can dream.

I have promised the dogs a walk…so we are off. Happy father’s day to everyone!

Veggie Garden and Flowers

I’m heading out to plant peppers. I already have the tomatoes and potatoes in:

The tomatoes are well protected from the chill (we’ve had snow and frost since I planted them):

I don’t quite have enough water walls for the peppers, but 2-liter bottles and gallon milk cartons will work as well, just not as photogenic. I also have hoops so I can cover all the beds as needed. I have a bunch of veggie seeds, too, but I’m not in the mood to plant this weekend. Got a full schedule already, so I’ll do that this week sometime – pretty easy when the beds are all nicely prepped.

I have been enjoying the hard work of the previous owner. This is just the early showing of tulips, they became more showy as the weeks went on.

The rock garden is looking terrific:

This was a few weeks ago – a lot of late spring flowers are just about ready to bloom, so I’ll update next week.

I can’t wait to show off the roses in the rose garden. I moved 19 roses, mostly from the backyard (to save them from the dogs) into the front garden bed. Seventeen survived and are thriving – probably because I’ve given them space and fresh soil. They were in a mass of planting originally  – so much so that as I was removing a lot of the invasive plants, I was finding roses completely hidden and dwarfed.

Okay, off to do gardening chores…



Nightstand Renovation

Back when he was in high school, my youngest brother, Paul, made me a beautiful nightstand. He followed that up with an amazing bookcase.

That was many years ago and they’ve held up very well. But my nightstand finish was starting to fade and crack. I wanted to freshen it up, but didn’t really have the time or energy to strip it and refinish it. Instead, I paint washed it with two paints – one, a deep brown, the other an espresso color.

The technique is very easy – clean, sand a bit, spread on paint and wipe off. Let dry and repeat with the darker color. Often the paint is thinned with water, but when I did that, I wasn’t getting the colors I wanted. I completed the project with a finishing oil.

I think it turned out nice.


Ducks? What Ducks?

Here is what I originally wrote about the rescue and forgot to cross-post here:

After a very long week away and an even longer 8 hour drive home, this happened. A neighbor spotted these two at the local playground (with pond) and they tried to follow him home. This was yesterday and he was worried. So, since my niece and I had been driving all day, we decided we could use a walk and went to see what we could see.

These two came right up to us. They were hungry, friendly and completely ill-equipped to survive on their own. I had brought cat food along (mine ate cat and dog food along with chicken feed for that well rounded diet, LOL – or just to annoy the four-footers in the family) and they took it right out of my hand.

The only thing I had to capture them with was a cooler a friend had lent me for the trip. Deciding I’d just buy her a new one, I corralled them (one in the grass, the other I had to snag from the water) and brought them home.

Their photo is now on the neighborhood lost and found website page and they are tucked away in the garage, with food, water, cilantro – a duck favorite. Bixby is beside himself with curiosity, but I don’t want to stress them, so he’s banned from the garage.

The good news, the excitement has tempered any disapproval from the dogs about my long absence. The bad news? I’m attached (I love ducks) but am in no position at the moment to add more critters to my menagerie. There may need to be an intervention.

The ducks are still here, we are evaluating the re-homing options – I want to watch them a bit longer to see if they’ll fare well in a farm setting or if they are tightly bonded to people. They were clearly someone’s pets before being dumped. They’ve held their own with the dogs and cats and enjoy human contact – at least mine, since I’m the one who feeds them and I’ve picked them up regularly.

Ducks are generally free-range. While chickens seem okay with a small penned area, ducks want the entire yard. They’re a bit messy, but good at keeping weeds and bugs under control. These two are still very underweight and spend a lot of time resting under the bushes in my yard. But they are eating and drinking well and enjoying the pool (much to Bixby’s dismay, as it’s HIS pool), so I think they’ll be okay.

I’ve closed off the garden area so they be there and safe when the dogs are outside. Bailey has shown little interest in them, but Bixby wants to play with them. He loves the geese at the lake and he’s always been respectful with them. With the ducks, he hangs back and watches….and watches…but when they suddenly start quacking, he races over to them. Doing my best to discourage that, but it will take some time…or not…he may not be a dog who can be around birds.  They on the other hand stand their ground, so that’s good to know.

I’ll get video of them in the pool and post soon. Trust me, it’ll make you smile.

Menus will be up tonight.