Friday, April 24, 2015

I fell in love . . .

. . .with Japan and Korea. It was such a fantastic trip I want to share some photos and impressions.

First up, this unflattering frame of me in the home of our hostess in Japan. We stayed in their traditional Japanese style family room, sleeping on mats on the floor. I was surprised at how comfortable they were.

I'm living in the dark ages . . . their car had a screen which doubled as a television. Incredible! And a little distracting.

On our first full day there we went to see the Skytree Tower in Tokyo. Here I am with my friend, mother of the exchange student we hosted in 2003. We ate lunch at a restaurant on the 32nd floor in the building at the left of the photo.

Pasta with tomatoes and cheese for PFCMom

Pasta with olive oil and veggies for Noble

Skytree Tower is about 640 meters tall; built to be taller than anything around it so it can broadcast the television signal clearly and without interference. There is a shopping mall near the base of it.

Here are Noble and I with the tower in looming over us.


And the view from the observation deck on the 450th "floor" was spectacular. 

Here are some of the interior support beams:

And here we are standing on a glass viewing floor looking down at the ground below.

Finally, not for the faint of heart, my first experience with a "squatty potty". I encountered these in the airport, subway and bus stations. Good thing I'm not squeamish or a germophobe, as they are a bit smelly, but otherwise not a bad experience. When you've gotta go, it doesn't matter so much.

More tomorrow, stay tuned.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Frugal Friday

Recycling an ordinary item

I got excited when I found this bundle at the thrift store recently:

I carefully broke off the clip ends of each one:

And they became these:

Just wanted to share in case you hadn't thought of this one yourself.

Monday, February 16, 2015

I forgot . . .

. . . to share a picture of the pillowcases I made for Noble for Christmas. (I didn't want to spoil her surprise.) I found the embroidered, but unfinished, pillowcases at the thrift store and loved the kitties. I took them home, put on a border with a little fancy stitch and sent them on their way to Korea. She loved them!!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Cold Weather, Hot Food

The frigid winter is still very much with us here in Iowa. We got teased with a few warms days, but then the arctic blast returned along with another dusting of snow.

How about a chili recipe that warms the whole body?

Slow-cooker Black Bean Chili:
1/2 - 1 lb. pork or chicken, cut into bitesize cubes (I use whatever pork is on sale, buttefly chops, or country style ribs; I use chicken breasts.)
16 oz. jar of thick chunky salsa
3 15 oz. cans black beans (or equivalent from dry) drained and rinsed
bell peppers - the original recipe calls for 1 medium red; I use whatever I have on hand and make it more colorful with red, orange, yellow and green peppers.
1 medium onion, chopped
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano

Combine all ingredients in slow cooker, cover and cook on low for 4 - 6 hours, until meat is done (shorter for chicken, longer for pork).
Serve with cornbread muffins. You can also garnish with a dollop of sour cream, and or grated cheese. I like it sprinkled with Parmesan. It is also delicious served over brown rice.

This is a delicious alternative to the ground beef, red bean chili, in fact, I prefer it!!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Orphan Socks

How I Solved the Mystery of the Missing Socks

I do laundry differently than just about everyone I've talked to or read about. Everyone in our family has enough underwear, including socks, to last up to ten days. Once a week I wash clothes by people--in other words, I do all of my laundry together on one day, my husband's laundry another day, our children's laundry a third day. I don't gather up all the whites every day and do a load, that involves to much time consuming sorting at the end. I know that when I pull laundry out of the dryer I can take it all into the bedroom of the owner, fold it and put it away quickly. I combine children's laundry as necessary; and when Noble lived at home I did mine and hers together. I do laundry only three or four days each week, two to five loads a day depending on whose I'm doing. I combine some things when I need to, for instance I have only one pair of jeans which I wash when I'm doing my husband's jeans.

Years ago, when I had four little boys at home, I set out to discover why there seemed to be missing socks in every load. I refused to believe that the washer or dryer "ate" them. To solve the mystery I gathered up the boys laundry and mated the socks BEFORE they went into the washer. If any didn't have a mate, I searched until I found it. They hid under beds, under or behind dressers and nightstands, between the sheets of the bed, in closets, and toys boxes. (You know how messy children can be!) After a few months of this I reasoned that no socks were ever lost in the washer or dryer. After I went through that exercise I stopped mating the socks before and set up a small basket near the dryer; when sorting and folding dry laundry I put any orphans in the basket until there are a bunch at which time I mate them up and put them away. Problem solved.

Another thing that helps is that I buy the boys different brands of socks so that I know whose is whose. (Is that grammatically correct? Or just colloquially correct?)