Friday, May 31, 2013

Rose's haircut... and chicken gumbo

Rose before mats

Poor Rose. She is the only 'long-haired' adult cat in the house and while she used to keep herself un-matted, age (19) and attitude (she gets pissy), has caused us to take her to the Vet this week.  Actually I knew they would have to sedate her (she can be nasty when she wants to be and the knots don't help), but I was hoping that they would just cut off her mats and not completely shave her. However...

Can you tell she's embarrassed?

But her attitude is better. She wants to play now ... unfortunately playing with Rose is sometimes risky.  She can get carried away and draw blood.  It's funny, with all of our other cats, we know we can play any way with them and they will never bite you... but Rose... well, Rose is Rose.

OK, I've gone another day without the final photos of our Alaskan trip.  But they aren't going anywhere. 

So... I'm going to give you a great recipe for Chicken and Sausage Okra Gumbo.  I made it last night and it was really good.  My mom and mother-in-law used to make Seafood Gumbo and Chicken Gumbo a lot in New Orleans... and we all loved it.  But I don't make a lot of seafood dishes here in Texas. We were brought up believing that seafood needed to be used "fresh". So the chicken gumbo is our alternative. Have used different recipes in the past, but this one is my favorite so far.  (I did only make half the recipe as it makes a lot.)

Chicken and Sausage Okra Gumbo

1 T salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
3 lbs chicken (boneless)
1/2 cup olive or veg oil
1 lb sausage (sliced)
1 cup flour
2 med onions, chopped
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
2 bell peppers, finely chopped
2 T garlic, chopped
8 cups chicken broth
2 bay leaves
1 tsp ground thyme
2 cups sliced fresh Okra, divided use
1 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp Tabasco sauce
1 tsp file' powder plus (optional)
Steamed rice to serve over 

Combine salt and next 3 ingreds in small bowl.  Sprinkle over chicken. 
Heat oil in large heavy pot over med heat. Sear chicken until golden (5 mins/each side), Transfer to plate. Sear Sausage until browned (4 mins/side). Transfer to plate with chicken.

Strain drippings from pot and reserve 1 cup drippings. (If you don't have enough, add oil to make one cup). Wipe out pot and return drippings to pot.

Heat drippings over med heat and then add flour. Whisk constantly until roux is the color of milk chocolate (mine is usually lighter) (takes 15-20 plus mins). Reduce heat and add onions, stirring constantly until soft (about 10 mins). Stir in celery, bell peppers, and garlic. Cook another 10 mins. 

Slowly whisk in chicken broth. Add bay leaves, thyme, and the chicken and sausage. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for about 45 mins. stirring occasionally. 

Stir in 1 cup okra, Worcestershire, and Tabasco.  Simmer another 45 mins. Stir in remaining okra. Simmer about 10 more minutes. 

Add 1 tsp file' powder before serving or have people add their own.  Serve over steamed rice. (I like a combination of wild and brown rice).

When you look at the recipe, it seems long... but it's really easy if you take it step by step. And it's so-oo good!  (and Angie, it's not hot - but you can leave out the Tabasco sauce)

Thursday, May 30, 2013

2 days of headaches...

DH took me to the Eye Specialist this past Tuesday.  Our regular eye doctor scheduled me to see this Specialist to check on the laser eye surgery I had done about 5 years ago.  They used a laser to open up my 'narrow angles' and he wanted them to double check that all was well.  He had followed up routinely these last few years, but thought it necessary to have the Specialist do his thing at this time... telling me that if the holes had closed, the Specialist was able to laser them open again whereas my eye doctor wasn't in a position to do this himself.

Anyway, to make a long story short... all is well.  I DON'T have Glaucoma, but I do have 'narrow angles'. The laser surgery was a preventative to avoid Glaucoma... and the holes are still open. However, I guess due to all the drops they put in your eyes as they run tests, dilate them, etc. I ended up with a dull headache that wouldn't go away... not even with my Tylenol x-strength.   By this morning, it was beginning to worry me but...

It is now Thursday afternoon and I can say (for the moment anyway) that it seems to have finally dissipated.  Hopefully it will stay gone.

And I've been talking about our 'kittens' on my Cats, Coffee, and Chocolate site.... and I'm going to add some photos here that probably should be added the kitten pics there... but I get lazy going back and forth between sites.  This morning we went to Petco to get some Royal Canan Kitten chow for the babies to wean on.  We've been giving them KMR and they are lapping this already... so we thought we'd hasten the transition by adding a little kitten chow to the KMR.

Well, Barney and Clyde (the 2 cats we pictured in an earlier post) are still there. Barney (the big orange tabby) is just as friendly as ever and Clyde is still lounging under his bed.


Barney sniffing DH's finger

Clyde... still laying under the cat bed

New female long haired  - very pretty

This last one is a new female. She is what I'd suspect the little black long-haired kitty we're fostering will look like when grown... same small face, but very black long hair...

and piercing eyes!

How I wish we could take them all home!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Memorial Day... a thought

Something I came across and taped near my computer a few years ago...  (today seems an appropriate day to post it)

Dear Lord, Lest I continue 
My complacent way,
help me to remember,
Someone died for me today.
As long as there be war,
I then must 
ask and answer
Am I worth dying for?

(Poet  W. H. Auden)

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Weekend surprises...

daughter's horses

Our doorbell just rang and our next door neighbors had come to tell us that they planned to put their house for sale and they wanted us to know before the sign went up. This was a decision that they had just made although they have been 'considering' it for over a year. They hope to move to a nearby Retirement Village. We were surprised, but not.  I knew they were considering this, but didn't really think they would do it this soon. They are wonderful neighbors and we have been friends for a very long time (they were here when we built our house in 1985).  So if they sell, and if they move... we will definitely miss them.

Personally I can't imagine moving... at least not in the near future.  Our house is convenient, and comfortable (could use some touch ups, but whose house couldn't?).  And the cats are used to it... and who would feed the outside ferals?  It has an upstairs where guests can stay as well as 'returning kids and their kids'... so why move?  Maybe one day it will become financially efficient to move to something smaller, but right now, we're getting by fine... not great, but fine.

We just had what my son called "Memaw's  IHOP breakfast" Eat all you want! chocolate chip pancakes, scrambled eggs with cheese, biscuits, sausage, and fresh blueberries and cherries! Later this afternoon we are all going to watch the movie, "The Guardians" and eat Smores! Sounds like a good Sunday to me.

On a sadder note - apparently San Antonio area had a good flooding yesterday. We got a text from our daughter early Saturday morning that their house on the acre lot that they rent was "totally under water" and that their place on the 7 acres was "fine, but leaking... and the barn was under water". So they are in the mist of clean up.  What a difference a day makes.  When I was talking to her just Wednesday after all the storms and tornado scares around here, she was just saying how strange that they (who are south of us) had no storms  - that it was just plain HOT.

front yard of daughter's house

And I will mention that I've updated my Facebook status lately... due to some correspondence from family members and from high school friends who attended our 50th HS Reunion (the one I missed while on the Alaskan Cruise). In the past I've only checked into Facebook maybe once or twice a year... but I've promised to do better in order to keep in touch.

I'll continue with the last part of our Alaskan Cruise (Ketchikan, Alaska) soon.  Had to take this 'personal day' here.

Ghost saying, "Do you want something?"

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Back to Alaska Photos... Glacial Bay

Glaciers in Glacial Bay 
Please click on these photos to make them larger as these glaciers are breath-takingly beautiful. I took these pictures from the balcony of our room as the ship passed through Glacial Bay.

I loved the blue square in the center here. Don't know why, but it fascinated me...

and this cave in the ice...

As we drifted by, huge pieces of iceberg floated by and we saw one 'calving'  where the ice slid away from the glacier and floated off into the water.

and my camera caught this lone seagull flying by...

Isn't she beautiful?

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

returning to normal routine...

Julie and her favorite spot in kitchen

Today is Wednesday and it will probably be a busy day. We have errands to run and grandson has a Band Performance this evening. He plays the Baritone Sax and IMO is very good.  I'm feeling better, but still not able to put much in my stomach.  That's OK.  It makes up for how much I put there on the cruise.

DH goes to the doctors again this morning for the results of earlier blood tests.  They now want to do a 'capsule endoscopy' on him.  We have a lot of questions as to why this is necessary.  He is supposedly anemic and they are trying to find out why. But we haven't been told 'how anemic' and why he can't just take some iron pills.

Anyway, I haven't gotten back to my cruise photos here, but I will.  My cousin recently told me to check Facebook as my niece had posted an 'old picture of my family'.  She was wondering how old I was in the photo. So I checked in and tried to make a few connections while I was there.  I'm afraid that I don't know my way around Facebook very well.  I created an album of my cruise pictures (some of them) on Timeline, but now I can't seem to edit it to add more. I'm thinking that I might just have to make another Timeline album to add the rest (probably should have just posted them under photos).

from right : Dad, brother, sister,  Mom,  me, brother-in-law holding niece, and nephew in center

I also have to post this picture of a cat we saw at Petsmart. He and his brother were definitely a 'temptation' for adoption. But they were both so good looking that we figured they would be adopted soon... and we do really do have a 'full house'.  His brother looked so much like our Thibbadeaux that we lost last year at 19. He was an orange tabby too, but a much bigger cat. And this one 'wearing his bed on his head' just made us laugh. I think they were named 'Barney and Clyde'.


Monday, May 20, 2013

a brief hiatus from travel log...

me in my herb garden years ago (before hair turned white)

Unfortunately yesterday (Sunday) I awoke feeling a bit 'off' (stomach queasy and headachy). Spent most of the day either sleeping or reading and eating crackers and coke. This morning seems 'a little' better... but not quite back.

Thought I'd use this time to post a few non-travel related pics I've taken recently. Our backyard is green again... finally... and I caught this picture of a squirrel in the bird feeder this weekend.


Julie in her hidey-hole...

and my cousin's cat, Kuchi, helping my  friend with her knitting.

and this last one is me the last day of the cruise trying to figure out the attraction of putting in money and pushing a button...

I must be missing something... because I still don't get it.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Skagway, Alaska - 2nd stop

First view as ship was coming into Skagway, Alaska

The streets of Skagway...

Mountain advertisement

Quilt shop we visited...

Skagway was my favorite little town that we visited in Alaska.  Notice the wood planked sidewalks.  It was quaint, quiet and cute.  We would have explored it further but we had an excursion scheduled on the White Pass Route Railway.  This is the one that they had cancelled in the morning due to high winds and excessive snow up the mountain. Any way, this next picture is our ship, The Miracle, by the pier and the train is also there (on the left - but you may not see it unless you make the picture larger - it would be on the far left).

Train crossing trestle...

and into mountain...

Can you see the people hanging out *between the car* taking pictures?

It was really a neat way to see the views of the mountain, the town, etc. - even though it was a little *scary* when they told us that we had to stay up on the mountain for a bit while the work train cleared the tracks behind us due to the problem of "snow fallen on the tracks behind us" after we passed.

We believe it happened just as train went through this last tunnel.

Anyway, this pretty much tells the story of Skagway.  We were very late getting back down the mountain, but we high-tailed it to the Quilt Shop where they were holding our purchases.  They had 'closed', but we knocked on the door and they let us inside.

Next:  Glacial Bay

Friday, May 17, 2013

If it's Thursday, it's Juneau...

Woke up to cold, wind, rain, and rough water...

Felt queasy, bundled up and sat on balcony with the wind in my face... felt better. Love that balcony! Walked around the ship some on my own while friend slept. Noticed that they had placed 'bags' here and there around the ship. Guess others were a bit queasy too.

Good news is that the sea calmed down in a few short hours and all was well again. However, when we did dock in Juneau, we were bundled to the max. Figured "OK, we ARE in ALASKA." First stop was a coffee stand where we downed something hot... to help compensate for the cold and wet.  Checked out a few shops and took pictures.  The snow capped mountains surround the little towns.  And as I've mentioned before, even though Juneau is the capital of Alaska, there are no roads in or out.  Must use plane or boat. The Red Dog Saloon apparently has some notoriety, although I was unfamiliar with it. People were taking pictures of it so we did too. From googling it, we probably should have gone inside... pictures of the inside on google are definitely interesting.

Juneau, Alaska street

If you click on picture and zoom in, the Red Dog Saloon is the red building in the bottom left. We didn't have  a lot of time as we had scheduled an excursion to a Salmon Bake for lunch at 12:30. So we checked out a few shops and then had to be back on the pier to catch the bus to the Salmon Bake.

Grilled fresh Salmon with a brown sugar glaze, clam chowder, salad, cheesy potatoes, seasoned beans and rice, home-made cornbread, and blueberry cake. Guitar player sang while we ate.  Food was good! But it was outside and while covered, it was still cold and wet. We were both glad we went, but agreed it would be much better in the summer. Again, we were the first ship of the season and thus, it was the first Salmon Bake for this year.

Returned to ship tired, wet, cold, and exhausted.  Ordered some coffee and hot chocolate from room service.  Rested until supper at 7 where we sat with two other groups and shared cruising and Juneau experiences. Later we ended up at the coffee bar, then Piano Bar where we listened to 'requests'.

Ended up in room sharing the day's activities with friend's son and his wife.  They had gone 'Salmon Fishing' on their excursion.  It was also cold and wet, but they loved it (didn't catch Salmon, but did catch a Flounder).  They also did a helicopter ride to land on a Glacier... but there was too much snow still around so they couldn't land on the glacier, but did land near it.

Enough of trip for now.  It's Friday and DH had some invasive tests run this morning... (he was anemic last time he had blood work checked). So they are doing some tests to determine what might be causing this.  We had to be up and out by 6:30 this morning and are both tired. So I'm going to close for today.

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

corrections... Vancouver, and we board ship

First... a correction.  Stanley Park is not in Seattle, but in Vancouver, Canada.  I got our first few days mixed up. We only visited the Needle, Pike's Market, and a friend's house for supper that Friday. We left early Saturday morning to catch the train to Vancouver (beautiful new Amtrack station, lovely train... lots of room, very comfy).

our luggage

This was the amount of luggage we dragged around with us from plane to hotel to train to hotel to ship, etc. And happy to say that none were lost or mislaid along the way...

When we arrived in Vancouver, we went directly to our hotel to settle in, then Stanley Park where we ate at the Fish House and then walked around the park. Lots of Blue Herons nesting in the area.  Weather was wonderful - cool but sunny. Went to the Aquarium and then the Granville Market (very nice market... although I think I liked Pike's Market best). We all wish we had more time to spend in both Seattle and Vancouver.  I would have loved to see some of the islands. But we were grateful for the things we did get to see and do in the little time we had.

Beluga whale show at the Aquarium in Vancouver

Statue of woman on rock in water by Stanley Park, Vancouver

Totem Poles in Park, Vancouver

We went early to the boarding dock for the Cruise Ship, but had to wait a bit due to the fact that the Canadian Coast Guard was doing an inspection since it was the first time this ship (The Miracle) had been in this port this year. Once we were allowed upon the ship, we were told to go to the Lido deck to wait and eat while the rooms were being readied.   The Lido deck restaurant is 'cafeteria style'... with buffet tables everywhere. There is Asian, Italian, Deli, Carving, Salad, Dessert,  Coffee, etc. bars.  The food here was good... but we only ate here the day we arrived and the morning we left...  as the food in the Bacchus Dining Room was so-oo exceptional.

This is our room aboard ship with the birthday decorations for my friend hanging over the bed. They also supply you with a leather blanket to put your luggage on to unpack. You can see the balcony beyond.

This was a better picture of our room in the evening. My journal and book sat ready and waiting...

Due to some minor complications with the Canadian Coast Guard we didn't disembark until 7 or 7:30 pm.  We were never sure exactly what was going on, but eventually we did leave the port of Vancouver and headed out.  We went to supper in the dining room and had both Chocolate lava cake (they called it chocolate melting cake) and creme brule' for dessert that first night.  Later we walked the ship and ended up at the Cafe Espresso bar where we both ordered an Irish Coffee and took it to our room.

Awoke the next morning to beautiful mountains outside our balcony doors...  This was our first 'day at sea' and we used it to check out the ship, listen to a talk on shopping in Juneau, ate lunch in the dining room, had tea at 3, then a nap, and a late supper.  There are shops on board ship, and a casino - among other things... and always something going on. However, we neither shopped nor gambled.  We did check them out and watch others at these activities...
This item is an Alaskan Billiken... good luck charm.  They are made of ivory, or jade, or walrus or antler horn, or the kind I bought... made from  silt from the Mendenhall Glacier.

"Rub his tummy or tickle his toes,
You'll have good luck... so the story goes"

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Happy Mother's Day to all...

Me and grand kids awaiting a table in restaurant 

It's about 7:30 am Sunday morning and I'm busy 'catching up' on all the posts over the last 2 weeks that I missed reading while on the cruise. And I'm still trying to get back to normal routine...

But I do want to wish everyone out there a Happy Mother's Day!  We all went out to eat last night at Chuy's (Tex-Mex).  Son took this picture of me and 3 of my 4 grand kids.  My daughter, her husband, and grand daughter live in San Antonio, so we just spoke by phone. But we all had a good time, returning home to carrot cake and ice-cream.  Baby girl has decided that she LIKES ice-cream.

My body is back home, but my mind keeps returning to Alaska... so much natural beauty... such clean air... no traffic. I'd never survive the long cold winters, but it's a great place to spend some time. Do you know that Juneau, the capital of Alaska, has no roads in or out (well, it may have a road that goes about 15 - 20 miles out from the town, but then it just ends).  The only way in or out is by plane or boat. So the crime rate is low... they have 'no place to run'.

Huge handsome Seagull

But I digress...  I will start with Seattle.  I took this photo of huge Seagull in Seattle and could swear that he was posing for me.  He definitely knew he was handsome.

Seafood at the Fish House in Stanley Park, Vancouver

Nesting in tree

For the next two pictures, you really need to click on them and make them large to see how beautiful they are...

Trees are also in Stanley Park, Vancouver

And lastly for today's post of Seattle, here is a picture of  Dungeness Crabs at Pike's Market - huge, sweet, and delicious!

Again... Happy Mother's Day!  And my trip photos will continue another day.  Please bear with me, but I need to share.