From My Kitchen: February 2021

This is more of an update than a new recipe. Last month I tried Flatbread Mexican Pizza. If you recall, I wasn't too crazy about the flatbread. I knew I could improve on it! The second time I made it, I still used Mama Mary's, but I used the thin crust pizza. It was much better, but when I used Boboli thin crust, it was even better.
Here's what I did differently:
  • Used 1 thin crust instead of flatbread
  • Used 2 packages of taco seasoning (This resulted in more of a taco taste than just 1 packet)
  • Added a layer of salsa over the refried beans
  • Used 1 pound of ground beef
  • Used Chipotle Ranch dressing instead of the salsa/sour cream mixture
I think I've found the right combination of everything. I probably don't need to use the entire pound of ground beef. The last time I made it (using the Boboli thin crust) it was piled pretty high and was more like a pie instead of a pizza! I didn't have any complaints from CH or YS, though! 

I'm also not sure how much the refried beans actually add, except to add more carbs & calories. I'm going to try to leave that off next time and see if it gets noticed. I have a sneaky suspicion it won't.

Do you have a recipe that you have modified that is a family favorite? If so, please share!
 

A Clean Hodgepodge

 1. Your favorite cleaning product? Do you clean your own house or hire out? Most disliked household chore? What one chore do you not mind so much? 

Favorite: "Robbie". He's our iRobot & he does a fantastic job! I've hired a cleaning lady a few times. My experience has been that they do great the first couple of times, but then slack off.
I hate cleaning the bathroom. I think it comes from my childhood: that was my "Saturday Chore". I really don't mind washing the dishes.

 2. It's Canned Food Month...do you use a lot of canned goods? What are the three canned items you purchase most often? Last thing you made using a canned ingredient? 

I buy more canned items during the winter. I mostly buy "cream soups" (cream of mushroom/chicken) or tomatoes. I just made Mexican Pizza last night that used a can of refried beans.

 3. Can of worms, anything can happen, can you imagine?, as best I can, kick the can down the road, more than one can take, no can do, not if I can help it...choose an idiom and tell us how you currently relate.

Anything can happen. I believe in miracles!

4.The last Tuesday in February is National Spa Day. Are you someone who enjoys a day at the spa? Last time you visited a spa? Do you have a favorite spa? Are salons open for business in your area? Have you made changes to your hair and nail routine since Corona hit? In what way? 

I've only been to a spa once, during a Sisters' Weekend. It was heaven! Salons are open here; I haven't changed a thing!

 5. Believe it or not this is the last Hodgepodge of the month. In one sentence sum up your February. 

I would very much welcome 2020 back.

 6. Insert your own random thought here.

The mystery of the person who was parking in my spot has been solved...and resolved! I now have my spot back! :)


The Great Adventure 2019: Peggy's Cove

Fishing village with fishing boat on water
We left the AirBnB behind and began to make our way to our next stay. We were headed to The Ovens Natural Park for a couple of nights of camping. But since we had plenty of time to get there, we made a slight detour and headed for Peggy's Cove. CH kept talking about how the landscape of the Canadian Maritimes looked like Ireland, but I told him it didn't...until we got to Peggy's Cove. This looked like the Ireland I saw:

I think most people go to Peggy's Cove for the lighthouse; we just enjoyed walking around and enjoyed the scenery.


Once we walked into the actual village, there was a boat tour. We thought, "why not?" and jumped on in. It was beautiful seeing the area from the water. The rocks that were formed that appear to be haphazardly were incredible.


No seals, but we did see these birds. 
East Dover is another fishing village next to Peggy's Cove that looked equally as charming.



Just as we made our way back in front of the lighthouse, a staff member obliged us by taking our picture as we went by:
There is one other point of interest that we saw while there: 
We almost missed the William E. deGarthe Memorial. It is right next to a house, so it appears to be part of the yard. This monument is in honor of  the fishermen of Nova Scotia. The sculpture depicts 32 fishermen, their wives and children, St. Elmo with wings spread, and the legendary Peggy of Peggy’s Cove. It was absolutely amazing. And, yes, it actually is in someone's yard...William E. deGarthe. At his death, the sculpture was about 80% completed. 

After leaving Peggy's Cove, we continued on toward our destination. We stopped to eat at a place called rhubarb. It had great atmosphere; we were able to sit at a table on an enclosed porch and have a nice lunch. As it happens, there was a group of people from around Atlanta at a table near us. The accents sounded like home!
Continuing on, at one point we went around a curve and were absolutely struck by this view:
Seriously, it was so unexpected that it just took our breath away. Seeing Mahone Bay turned out to be one of the highlights of the trip. Unfortunately, we didn't stop and walk through "downtown" to see what all this town has to offer. This is one place that we want to return to and spend a full day or two exploring. 

I read about a little town called Lunenburg. The "Old Town" is a UNESCO Heritage Site so I was intrigued. But, we ended up being a little disappointed. We walked along the waterfront but there really didn't appear to be much there. We just didn't think it lived up to the hype I read about. You can definitely tell there is German influence in the architecture.


Theresa E. Conner is a saltbanking schooner, designed to preserve the fish in saltwater. It was in service from 1938 to 1966 and is now a museum. It was the last saltbanking schooler to run out of Lunenburg.
(Information from Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic.)
Memorial to Fishermen:
View from the park on top of a hill to the harbour:
St. John Anglican Church. The 2nd Church of England built in Nova Scotia (1753) and the 2nd oldest remaining Protestant Church in the country. The original congregation was comprised mostly of German Lutherans. The same foundry that made Big Ben and the Liberty Bell made the original bell.
When it was built, the wood came from King's Chapel in Boston, which was disassembled from the inside. The wood was carried through the window and shipped to Lunenburg.
The stars above the altar are said to be a mystery. Some believe the stars depict the sky the night that Jesus was born, as it looked in Lunenburg on that night.
Lunenburg Academy opened its doors in 1893 and is a National Historic Site. This building was built after a fire destroyed the current school. It served as a school until 2012 when concerns over the cost of maintenance caused the school board to turn it over to the town. Renovations began shortly after we visited. The building is used for a library and music school, as well as space rented out to businesses as offices.
If we knew at the beginning of the day what we knew at the end, we would have spent more time in Mahone Bay. But I think that just means we'll have to go back! 
Next stop: camping at The Ovens Natural Park.









Lovin' the Hodgepodge

Where does the time go? I completely forgot to answer the questions on Tuesday, so here I am, early Wednesday morning, typing away! Luckily the questions weren't too difficult so I didn't have to think too much to answer them.

1. Something little you are loving right now? 

The Bible in a Year Podcast with Fr. Mike Schmitz. You don't have to be Catholic to enjoy this! He reads a chapter or 2 from 2 different books of the Bible, as well as a chapter or verse from Proverbs or Psalms, says a prayer, and gives a reflection on what he read. And all of that in around 20 minutes or less! The podcast started out as #1 on the Apple Podcast list (regardless of genre) and stayed there for 17 weeks.

2. Red roses or pink peonies? Red wine or pink lemonade? Red lipstick or pink polish? A cotton candy colored sky or a fiery red sunset? A book-movie-song you love with the word red or pink in it's title? 

Pink peonies; red wine; pink polish; both (how can you make a choice when God is showing his artwork?). I can't think of a book-movie-song, but I do really like Pink, the singer. She has spunk! 

3. What's something you currently have your heart set on doing-going-seeing-or experiencing?

More of Europe. I want to experience the German Christmas Markets, Oktoberfest, and see Rome as well as other parts of Italy.

4. Who would you most like to have a heart to heart with right now? Is that possible? 

My mom or my dad. It's not possible, so I have to pull up my big girl panties and be an adult!

5. Write an acrostic for the word L-O-V-E. 

I just finished my quiet time with Jesus, so all I can think of is the acronym I use for my journaling. This is from Sonja Corbitt, and it helps me focus on scripture and apply it to my life:

Listen, Observe, Verbalize, Entrust

6. Insert your own random thought here. 

Valentine's Day: UGH. What a waste of a perfectly good day. I've never been much of a fan. When I was in 3rd grade, we didn't get to have our party because there was a riot at the Small Town High School. (Read more about that here.) I always felt like there was a lot of pressure on VD, whether or not I had a boyfriend. I know some people go all out and really enjoy the day, but I'd rather just skip it! 
What are your feelings on Valentine's Day?

Shadowy Hodgepodge

 


1. Feb 2nd is Groundhog Day in the US of A. Tell us about one day you wouldn't mind living over again, and why you chose that day. 
May 18, 1984. The day I married CH!

 2. Something you know beyond a 'shadow of a doubt'? 
God is in control and He has a plan for every one of us.

3. Give us an example of history repeating itself in some way, in your own life or the lives of your children.
Who would have thought this would have been such a hard question? 

4. Snowed under, snow job, not a snowball's chance, snowbird, on thin ice, snug as a bug in a rug, tip of the iceberg, snowball effect, run hot and cold....choose a wintry idiom and tell us how it best applies to your life right now. 
Snowball effect. I'm just going to leave it at that.

5. Your favorite sign of spring? 
Jonquils. Hands down. I love seeing those yellow flowers busting out of the ground.

6. Insert your own random thought here.
We didn't get a lot of snow Sunday night into Monday, but I did have a snow day and then a 2-hour delay on Tuesday.  It snowed most of the day but didn't get any traction on the ground. Some of my students said they played in the snow, so I guess some areas in the county actually had some. We have another chance in a few days. Fingers crossed!


The Great Adventure of 2019: Dartmouth

After a mostly full day in Halifax, we decided to just take a day to chill and see what there is in Dartmouth. This town reminded me a lot of Asheville, NC: an up-and-coming town in its own right that is artsy.  

We started our day at a crepe place just up the street from the above picture.  I didn't take a picture of the place or of what we had though. The owner was super nice (he's Canadian, so of course he's nice!) and the conversation was wonderful. 

A place of business in Downtown Dartmouth
Dartmouth boasted beautiful murals.
View of Halifax Harbour from Downtown Dartmouth
I think this was the entryway to a restaurant. I really liked all of the flowers and greenery in front.

We had a very relaxing day and geared up for slowly making our way to our next destination in this Province. 

Trippin' on the Hodgepodge

1. Have you done more binge-watching this past year than in 'normal' years? Any plans to break that habit in 2021? Tell us one or two shows you binged last year that you really liked. 

I watch very little tv any more. I am a bit hooked on International House Hunters, but I don't binge-watch it.

2. January 26th is Australia Day. Have you ever visited or lived in Australia? Have you ever tasted Vegemite, and if so what did you think?  Is a trip down under on your bucket list? We answered a question about travel three months ago (the October 21st Hodgepodge), but let's revisit now...where are you when it comes to planning or even imagining travel this year? 
I've never been and it's not on my top places to go. CH & I are hoping to do a big trip this summer. I'll have been vaccinated by then but I'm not sure about CH. He's doing the planning. I'm not telling where we're hoping to go, but guesses are welcome! We will take a vehicle and we plan on being gone about 3 weeks. Any guesses?

3. Something that zaps your energy? Something that energizes you?
I'm going with cold rainy days. Those are the days I'd love to just stay in bed under the covers! Or people who just have to have drama. 
Being around people who share my faith energizes me. It might sound cliche, but there you have it!

4. On a scale of 1-10 what are your eating habits like these days? (1=all junk food all the time and 10= juicing every green thing in the frig) Healthiest meal you've eaten in the last week or so? 
Juicing??? EEEEWWWWW. Right now my eating habits are a 9. If Joyce hadn't mentioned the whole juicing thing it would've been a 10! I mentioned in this post that I've had to have a major diet change. So this was a good time to have that question asked!
I fixed chicken breasts in the air fryer and ate mine on a bed of salad Monday night. CH had mac & cheese...I skipped that and went healthy.

5. What's your most often 'Back in my day....' thing to say? 
That's not typically something I say so I'm drawing a blank on this one. I did think the other day about how most everything used to be closed on Sundays. I remember my daddy taking it easy on that day. After Mass, he'd sit in his chair with the big ol' Sunday paper. Sometimes he'd turn on the record player, but sometimes he just read without any background noise (except for us kids). Now people use it for a "catch up" day.

6. Insert your own random thought here. 
Last Sunday, OS & his girlfriend came over for brunch. They live about 15 minutes away from us so we see them every now and then. Since there were 6 of us (CH & I, OS & R, YS & N-his girlfriend) we ate at the bigger table in the dining room. We had a good time but missed MS being there. OS called later & thanked me for brunch; we need to do it more often for sure. I made the individual crustless quiche that I made for Christmas brunch, but I made them in the oven. They turned out pretty well. 
Just in case you missed it:
I posted another installment of our trip to the Canadian Maritimes on Monday. We saw so much that writing a post takes quite a bit of time! 

The Great Adventure of 2019: Halifax

 After we left PEI, we discussed driving up through Cape Breton because I hadn't seen a moose, and my days of seeing one were definitely numbered since there are no moose to speak of in the area of Nova Scotia we were going to. Due to the amount of driving CH had already done and the amount left ahead, we decided to save it for another trip. Our original plan had been to travel to the Magdalene Islands, but we decided we were being overzealous with our plan for my initial Canadian trip. Next time...or maybe the next!

Anyway...our destination was Dartmouth, which is just across the harbor from Halifax. We stayed in an Airbnb for the first time. The condo was right on the harbor and the pictures promised wonderful views. They were but you just had to get in the correct direction to see it. 
harbor with industrial area in background
Not exactly the view we were expecting from the windows at the Airbnb
This condo was nice and modern but came with quite a bit of rules. We weren't very comfortable because we were afraid we would break one of them and get charged! Plus, we were under the impression that the host would be there at night so we kept our bedroom door closed. NS was under a "heatwave" (meaning it was around 70 degrees) and the windows were very small...we weren't sure if we were allowed to open them, so it was quite warm that first night. In fairness, when I contacted the host to see about the air conditioner, he came by during the day while we were out and turned it on for us.
Modern kitchen with white cabinets
modern living room with windows along wall
One night we decided to turn in early and maybe sit and watch a movie. (We're party animals like that!) The problem we had was the tv was a Roku and we aren't familiar with it. We couldn't figure out how to turn it on to watch it and there were no directions. So, we weren't even sure we were allowed to use it.

When we pulled up to park, the area looked a little sketchy. CH wasn't sure about leaving the truck there, but we were assured that it was safe. There was parking behind the building but the truck has a rack on the top and had our tent, so CH wasn't sure if he would be able to clear the deck if we parked in the parking garage. It turned out alright, though. 
View of Halifax Harbor
View of Halifax Harbor from Dartmouth
Our first order of business was finding dinner. We found a place that reminded us of a neighborhood pizza joint that may be found in NYC. It is obviously family-owned, and it was so cool to see people pop in and hear the conversations between the employees and customers. Definitely a neighborhood atmosphere! The pizza was absolutely wonderful as well. So if you find yourself in Dartmouth and want pizza, remember The Hungry Hut!

Just across the street from The Hungry Hut is a bit of history: a huge sculpture of a school chair in front of a brick building. The building is/was called "Greenvale School". Built in 1915, it survived the Explosion of 1917 and served as an infirmary, morgue, and a "place of refuge" by those who found themselves homeless following the explosion. Canada's first Kindergarten was in this building; it eventually became a high school but then was reverted back to an elementary school. Most structures at the time when it was built were made from wood, so this building was a diversion from the traditional buildings in the area. It is now a residential building.
Aluminum sculpture of a school desk and eraser in front of a brick building
Picture of a red brick building with white portico
Since it was Sunday, next on the agenda was Mass. I've been to Mass in 3 other countries (besides the USA): England, Ireland, and Denmark. Even though this Mass was in English, a few of the responses were a little different. We found a church that is just down the street from where we ate dinner: St. Peter's. It is the 2nd oldest Catholic Church in the Halifax-Dartmouth area. 
Red brick church tower
The next day we hit the ground running. We found our way to catch the harbor taxi after a short walk through a park. Apparently, this is the main commute for a lot of people who live in Dartmouth but work across the harbor. Usually, when we visit a city, we'll take the hop-on/hop-off bus so we can learn some of the history of where we are. We also use it as a form of transportation. In addition, we also took the Harbour Hopper tour. This not only took us on a land tour but also did a tour from the harbor.
Amphibious bus in Halifax
Here's my tip: Skip the Hop-on/Hop-off and only do the Harbour Hopper. The land bus stops running around 3:00 in the afternoon, so we found that we were going to be stranded someplace if we didn't leave then. In 2019 Halifax did not have Lyft or Uber so we would have had to take a taxi to get back to the harbor taxi.

Okay, back to Halifax! The big draw history-wise is the Explosion of 1917, The Citadel, and the Titanic. The architecture was beautiful, and the reflections on the glass buildings made for some great pictures.
reflection of Canadian flag in a glass building
Reflection of clouds in a glass building in the Halifax Harbour
Reflection of Halifax building in Halifax Harbour
We timed our visit to Halifax just right: We were able to tour the Government House and watch the changing of the guards. This is the official residence of the Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia. Royals who have been in residence here include King Edward VII (when he was Prince of Wales), King George V, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth (the Queen Mother), Queen Elizabeth II, Princess Margaret, and Princes Andrew, Edward, and Charles (along with Princess Diana). With the exception of Queen Elizabeth II, all of the kings and queens were Princes and Princesses when they were in residence. Visiting dignitaries and members of the Canadian Royal Family stay here while visiting Halifax.
We considered this quite a find, as we were just walking by the residence and saw the banner announcing free tours. We thought it was sad that there were no lines and only a few other people were in our tour group. It was a wonderful tour and very insightful. 
Picture of the Government House in Halifax
Picture of the staircase in the Government House in Halifax
Parlor in the Halifax Government House with bust of Queen Elizabeth II in the corner
Another place of interest is St. Mary's Basilica. The tallest granite spire in North America can be found on the building. 
The altar in the Basilica
During the Explosion, the stained glass windows were shattered, then snow damaged the murals. White paint covered the murals, and when we were there you could see the scaffolding where attempts were being made to chip away the paint to uncover the murals.
Close up of the ceiling of the altar
Always look up in a church!
And always look at the choir loft!
Holy Door from the Year of Mercy-2015. The Holy Door during Jubilee Years is a door "for the purposes of the jubilee year to accommodate its parishioners who do not intend to visit Rome for the occasion. "
Stained glass window in the Basilica
Since CH has a military background, we visited The Citadel. Set high on a hilltop overlooking the city, the views were fantastic. The Halifax Town Clock is predominant, with clocks on all 4 sides so that the soldiers had no excuse for not knowing what time it was.
The tower was built in 1803
The present-day Citadel houses the Halifax Army Museum
The Citadel had the purpose of defending Halifax from attacks from the USA
Re-enactors are staged throughout the property
Unfortunately, we didn't get to spend as much time as CH would have liked since we had to catch the bus. It would be worth spending more than just a couple of hours there. 

While looking at things of interest in Halifax, CH discovered the library. Yes, the library. Take a look at this picture and you'll see why:
The building is designed to look like a stack of books
The library incorporates many energy and water saving design features such as rainwater harvesting for flushing water, computerized building management, use of local species in landscape design, and automatic lighting control.
The staircase is a main feature inside. 
While we were in an elevator, a woman stepped inside with us and must have heard us say something because she immediately identified us as being from the USA. (Must've been the southern accents, which were commented-positively-on throughout our trip.) She immediately wanted to talk politics. I haven't traveled outside of the USA extensively, but this is the only time I've had a stranger be bold enough to ask my political views or views on the President. Whether or not I like him or have strong opinions, I know that when I'm not in my own country to keep my views to myself. (I'm not going to get on my soapbox about people from the USA dissin' the government or the President-whoever he happens to be- when visiting another country...that has to be another post!) She tried to engage me, so I was relieved when the door opened and we could get out of there. I think I was partly in shock that a stranger had the gall to drill me.

Okay, back to the trip. Here are some other cool things we saw in Halifax.
Cool architecture:
I have no idea where or what this building is. I just think round buildings are cool. 
Halifax Provincial Court
Celtic cross grave
The Halifax Public Gardens was a nice place to relax and just stroll. It was amazingly quiet, especially since it's located right in the middle of Halifax (I think!).
The gate to the gardens
The bandstand
A model of the Titanic
The Old Burying Ground is as old as the settlement of Halifax. The sign indicates that the cemetery had 1200 gravesites for 12,000 people. 
The Sebastopol Monument is the 4th oldest war monument in Canada and the only monument to the Crimean War in North America. It is located at the Old Burying Ground.

We scheduled 2 days to be in Halifax, but after the day touring (we did all of the above in 1 day) we decided we'd seen enough. Since we had been on the go the whole time since we left our house, we decided to take the next day easy and explore Dartmouth. We were very pleasantly surprised! You won't want to miss my next post!


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