Sunday, March 31, 2013

Dougie the Dodge Pas Deux

Hey look, there's Dougie! I don't think I told you that my dad's name is Doug. So that's where Dougie the Dodge's name comes from. My dad never owned a truck, not to my knowledge anyways, but I'm sure he would have liked to!  Back in the day when my dad was driving us around we always had cars, BIG cars. And by big I mean with tailfins like these...
In fact, the red and white job, 3rd one down, is very much like one we had, same colours, though by the time we had it it was about 10 years out of date. We needed a large car to tote the seven of us around, if we'd had a pickup truck then all of us kids would have been rattling around in the bed of the truck. Now, hillbillies we weren't, pretty close though, we just didn't have any HILLS! 

That red and white number was the car I fell out of one time. Yes, we were driving up our street, Washington Ave., to drop in to my aunt and uncle's house, just me and dad.  These were the days before seat belts, and I guess my door wasn't properly latched. Anyhoo I can still remember (and we're talking over 50 years ago kids) my shock at the door swinging open and me tumbling out onto the gravel at the side of the street! I don't remember crying, I was more stunned than hurt, though I do remember Aunt Ruth picking the gravel out of my knees and slapping on a couple of bandaids. The thing that saved me I'm sure was the fact that my dad was driving about 5 miles per hour!!

Nowadays I probably would have been taken to an emergency room. But 50 years ago our mothers just slapped on some bright orange mercurochrome and a bandaid and then shoved us outside again. Remember that stuff? I sure hope it didn't actually contain mercury!!

Oh Lord... it's what Wikipedia has to say on the subject...

Merbromin (marketed as MercurochromeMerbromineSodium mercuresceinAsceptichromeSupercromeBrocaseptand Cinfacromin) is a topical antiseptic used for minor cuts and scrapes. Merbromin is an organomercuric disodium saltcompound and a fluorescein. It is readily available in most countries, but because of its mercury content, it is no longer sold in the United States, Germany, or France.[citation needed]
(Hmmmmm is it still used in Canada I wonder? Or is Canada just included in the 
United States???)
It was known throughout the Southern United States as "monkey blood." (Oh really??)
Merbromin's best-known use is as a topical antiseptic. When applied on a wound, it stains the skin bright red. In the United States, its use has been superseded by other agents (e.g., povidone iodinebenzalkonium chloridechloroxylenol). It is still an important antiseptic, particularly in poorer countries, due to its “unbelievably low cost”.[1]
Oh my goodness!! Did you read that last line?? Gee, I wonder why it is so cheap?? Because we're still unloading our stock on the POOR COUNTRIES??
Sorry, I got a little off topic there.... as I was saying I think my dad would approve of Dougie the Dodge. I also think he would have enjoyed having a pickup truck of his own, though I'm sure my mother would have had something to say about it! I can't see her in a pickup truck but maybe she just never had the chance!  Or she did, loved it and I just never knew about it. As I'm starting to ramble again I think I'll call it a day. Needless to say I'm enjoying Dougie the Dodge very much:)! 

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Meet Dougie the Dodge

It was meant to be. Like Romeo and Bonnie and you know what I mean! I'd been searching on kijiji for awhile for a pickup truck, thinking I would get one in May or June so that I could take a lot more "stuff" out to our PEI home.  The plan was to give good old reliable Cora Cobalt to my daughter Kazi as she is graduating from her post-graduate program in April and will be looking for permanent work. Or at least she better be!! I thought that by having her own wheels she'd be able to look a job offers outside of London as well as in London. And it helps to build up my "BEST MOM" brownie points!
My goal was to find a used pickup with low mileage AND a low price AND a cap AND 4 wheel drive so we can plow our own .5km laneway in the winter. That's not asking TOO much is it? I wanted a cap for a couple of reasons: protect our stuff from the elements and theft when hauling it around (by stuff I mean furniture, loads of firewood, antiques etc) ..... and for camping in!! 
I saw the ad for this truck early on in my search. It was intriguing and had everything I wanted. But I kept looking as the budget that I had set aside for this purchase was twice as much as what was being asked for this Dodge Dakota.  So I looked, and I looked but I just couldn't find a deal that was as good as this one even at twice the price! So I decided to have a look at the real thing.
Pretty sweet don't you think? Just like the ad said this truck had been babied and cared for. It had less than 60,000 miles on it, had brand new tires, the cap is in good shape, it's a 4x4 - it was PERFECT! And see the building in the background? That's the French Immersion school my daughter went to from Gr. 1-8! To me that was a good omen.

It also has this great extender thingy so if we have something to transport that's longer than the truck bed we can flip this thing out onto the tailgate and away we go!
Here I am taking it for a test drive - Michael was busy snapping pictures as you can see. The next day we took it to our mechanic and he checked it out. He said I was getting a really good deal. There were two repairs that needed to be done for the safety so we offered the owner his asking price minus the cost of repairs. He agreed!! So how much did I pay??
The one negative about driving a truck vs my little Cora Cobalt is of course the cost of GAS! That will be offset though by the fact that I'm not paying Kazi's insurance anymore ($687 per year as an  occasional driver). She'll be paying for her own insurance now as a principal driver on the Cobalt. AND of course she'll be paying for her own gas instead of using mine so I think I will at least break even. Also I'm putting the remainder of the "truck budget", which is $5,000 into my EF so that I will have money on hand for maintenance and repairs. I'm pretty sure I've covered all the bases. 

My sweet Michael spent a few hours yesterday cleaning the truck - it is SPIC AND SPAN!! And he bought me an adapter so I can charge my iPod and iPhone :) 

For those of you who are wondering how on earth we could camp in the back of a pickup truck have a look at this blog site!  What an awesome conversion! My brother who is a pretty good carpenter has offered to measure the bed of the truck and figure out a similar conversion for us:) 

I just now wondered if Kazi would need to car tomorrow for school - then I realized I don't have to think about that anymore!! She's free....I'm free!! Wow, what a feeling!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Stuffed Peppers or How to Cook a Delicious Meal with Bits and Pieces of Leftovers and Free Food

Last Sunday I decided to see what I could make with some of the odds and sods that were hanging out in the fridge and the pantry.  As it turned out, with a little imagination, I had the makings of a delicious meal! This doesn't happen very often when all of the little containers of leftovers can work together and make something that is greater than the sum of its parts. worked...and I was delighted as this is SO NOT MY FORTE!
Well, let's see what we the fridge...a hunk of cheddar that is starting to dry out at the edges. Not too appealing on its own.
 In the pantry - a box of black beans and rice. Now, I don't buy these sorts of packaged foods but for 7 years I had a parent pack me a big bag of mixes and spices and packaged sauces at Christmas and at the end of the school year as a gift. He was retired from McCormicks where they make all of these things and they cost him next to nothing. My daughter LOVED all the free packs of Swiss Chalet sauce and I appreciated the abundance of spices!
In the fridge - TOO MANY PEPPERS! (Why does this make me think of that childhood book ' "The Five Little Peppers"? By mistake both Michael and I had bought a package of peppers the previous week- what was I going to do with them all??
A jar of leftover tomato sauce....ok, an idea is starting to come to me...
A handful of wilted green onions - cleaned up and chopped up they don't look so bad...
I got a good amount of grated cheddar from that partially dried out block.
I won, yes won, a bottle of Frank's RedHot sauce (yum yum) at school when we had our chili lunch - those who brought in chili to share, like me, got a nice little gift box and this was in it! LOVE this stuff!
 I had an over abundance of zucchini thanks to buying an extra large package at Costco - need to get rid of some of them as they don't last long....
 The result?  Stuffed peppers, vegetarian style! I don't usually cook by the seat of my pants like this, this is more Michael's area of expertise whereas I usually use a recipe. But as he was in Miami at a conference for the weekend and because I was feeling inspired by this mix of available ingredients I went for it!

First I put cleaned out the peppers and added a big spoonful of tomato sauce.
I cooked up the black beans and rice and added a healthy portion to the peppers... along with a shake or two of Frank's hot sauce :) Did I say I LOVE that sauce??
 These two pictures are reversed...I added chopped up zucchini then another dollop of tomato sauce.
 and another shake or two of Frank's hot sauce, truth be told...
Then I topped the whole thing with grated cheddar.....
 covered with tinfoil and baked for 25 minutes in a 375 oven.  I tested the peppers with a fork as I didn't want them to get mushy but I felt they needed more time so I popped them back in for another 15 minutes for a total of 40 minutes in all.
Perfect! I added a few chopped green onions and dug right in! Sooooooooooo tasty! Even my daughter had one....or two...
 A nicely balanced vegetarian dish with a little red wine on the side...nom nom nom!
Leftovers for lunch! I felt pretty proud of myself for using up some things that had sat in my pantry and fridge for awhile and might have ended up getting tossed out as food waste. Cost of this meal??

Hmmmmmmmmmm, I wonder what I can create out of free/old stuff today???

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Financial Crunchies

Sounds like a new breakfast cereal!

So I was just crunching some numbers - it seems I do that a lot lately. My latest financial challenge was to find out if I could manage just on my pension while carrying two homes as there will probably be some overlap between selling the condo and moving into our PEI farmhouse. The good news is that I could but I wouldn't have much leeway and while that makes me a little nervous it's better than being in the hole every month.

Not having a lot of wiggle room means I need to set aside some $$ for renos and redecorating when it comes time to sell the condo - I'll be honest - the house is looking a bit tired. I'm hoping with a lot of decluttering, new flooring throughout, a fresh coat of paint in every room and careful staging that once again its great qualities will shine forth and someone will nab it quickly! I don't want to have to pay for two homes for very long!

Did I tell you about a great book I read lately? No? Well I am now - it's called "Forks over Knives" and actually it was a documentary I watched but I purchased and read the accompanying "Forks over Knives" cookbook. It's a bout living on a totally plant-based diet which I've been trying to do. (Chocolate comes from a plant....right?")

So since January I've only eaten meat once or twice and can say I don't miss it one little bit. This is not to say I'm a total vegetarian - I'm not. If I get a craving for chicken wings I won't deny myself - it just hasn't happened yet. And give up lobster when in PEI? Not a chance! But again it will be when my body tells me -  I WANT LOBSTER! 

I also continue to avoid wheat products having read "Wheat Belly" over Christmas. So I am looking for some good gluten-free recipes for my breadmaker so if you have any let me know! I've printed a few off the internet but haven't tried any yet. And again, it's not like I'm never going to eat wheat again - but I WON'T eat any GMO wheat - EVER! Or any other GMO food if I can help it. I did buy some Red Fife wheat flour at the Bulk Barn but haven't baked with it yet. I don't think I could ever be 100% vegan, vegetarian or anything else as I do like a lot of variety and am a natural born rule breaker so why bother setting myself up for failure. I am only human after all. Shocking, I know!

Here's what we made last weekend:
I made Lentil Tomato Spinach soup and it was soooooooooooooo good. And no oil used either! I sauteed my onions and SIX CLOVES OF GARLIC!! just adding a bit of water to keep stuff from sticking...
added can of tomatoes.....
Oops...had the name of the soup a little wrong... it's Lentil Soup with Cauliflower, Potatoes and Spinach!!
 I've been using a lot of the spice turmeric lately as it is a natural anti-inflammatory and I'm still recovering from the pinched nerve in my neck. This recipe has a bit of curry too.
 Yes, I put the recipe book on my Kindle - it was about half the price of the actual BOOK. And takes up a lot less space on my small kitchen counter.
Have now added the potatoes and spinach and cauliflower - yum yum!
Pretty complementary colours - bright green lentils!
Meanwhile Michael was cooking up some porkchops to add to something else  he was cooking and while normally that smell would make me drool I found it made me kind of nauseous!

This is Aloo Gobi that Michael made - delicious! However it wasn't very moist so I've found another similar recipe except with more liquid in it. Can you tell I got a  good deal on cauliflower this week?? Good thing I like it!
Now I must go get ready - I'm going to go see "Life of Pi" with a girlfriend!
Have a great weekend everyone!