Staying busy at home, trying new recipes, Alexander Hamilton, Book Series The Walk, and Parakeet Katie

Since I have been back home I am trying to stay busy. Gradually I have been unpacking and putting things away and doing laundry, organizing my apartment, stocking up on groceries, adjusting to being back at home, etc.

While I was in Waco, and mostly because I was enjoying the time I spent helping in the bakery, that I decided once I got home I would bake my own breads and not buy them at the grocery store any longer. Home baked breads not only smell delicious, but they taste much better and using the fresh ground flour from the gristmill makes the bread more flavorful and healthy. It’s not processed and enriched. The flour still has the bran and nutrients in it. I brought home different flours for breads, cakes, cookies, etc. I learned that whole wheat pastry flour is great for cooking and baking items that don’t use yeast because that flour doesn’t have much gluten which is needed to make bread rise. So I brought home whole wheat flours for baking bread and also gluten to add if it’s needed. I have been having fun looking for different recipes on the Internet for breads, cakes, cookies, and appetizers to take to parties. I am mostly looking for recipes to use things I have at home without buying lots of new groceries. I tend to overstock my cabinets and refrigerator.

I went to a holiday party and brought some cakes and cookies which turned out really good, they were new recipes. I wanted to bring some appetizers too so I spent hours looking for some using cheese, carrots, and celery. I decided to make pimento cheese spread from scratch to use up some cream cheese and cheddar cheese, and I was able to fill my celery with it. I also found a recipe using grated carrots, cheddar cheese, garlic, and a little mayonnaise. It gets mixed together and spread on crackers or french bread, it can also be toasted. Both of these recipes turned out well and were a hit at the party. I gave the leftovers to people to take home. I had a little pimento cheese spread left at home and I added some flour to it and backed it into crackers which tasted pretty good too.

It’s been interesting making new recipes and baking different breads. I found a few really great cookie and cupcake recipes, a few are made with cocoa and are chocolate with cheesecake filling, even chocolate cookies had a cheesecake filling. I’ve been experimenting and adding different things to the baked goods such as pieces of butterfinger and snicker candy bars, mini chocolate chips, cranberries, etc.  Each cookie tastes a little different depending on what it has the most of in that spoonful of dough. I also freeze some of the things I bake and cook so I have them for dinner or dessert or a late night snack without having to make something.

A family I had dinner with one night in Waco made a really delicious chicken dish with rice the night I was invited for dinner. I liked it so much that I have made it twice since being home. I don’t know the proportions of the ingredients so I add some and keep adding different proportions until I like the taste. Ingredients are butter, honey, mustard, and curry powder. Cook in pan until you like the desired taste, add skinless chicken pieces and bake until chicken is cooked, serve over rice or noodles. It’s sort of like a sweet and sour dish. The curry powder gives it a really nice flavor. I bake extra and freeze some in portions.

In the past couple of weeks I have had some good news, one of my friends has been going through treatments for breast and lung cancer, she was a nurse and not a smoker. Her most recent PET scan shows no sign of cancer… YEAH!!! Prayers have been answered. Another long time friend was visiting his sister and he had a heart attack, while at the hospital they found out that he has stage 4 lung cancer, yes… he was a smoker. He lost his battle with cancer about six weeks after being diagnosed. He told me before he died that he hopes he walks his final days like I have been doing for the past several years. He told me that I have been an inspiration to him for how I live my life. He is now at peace and he will be missed.

Before I left on my trip in early July, I had seen excepts of the play Alexander Hamilton and I heard several of the sound tracks. I also liked the story that the play tells. So, I bought the soundtrack CDs and played them often on my trip. I drove for several hours a day so I got to listen to it alot. I also made time or even days in a row that I didn’t play the CDs and I had my private time with God. The more I listened to the Hamilton soundtrack, the more I understood the story and heard things I missed the last time I listened. When I got home and had television service again, I saw that PBS had a 2 hour special called Hamilton’s America about the writing and creating the play. I watched it 3 or 4 times and each time I saw and heard things I missed the other times I watched it. I got more interested in the story and by watching the documentary I got to see scenes from the play so I could visualize the scenes as I listened to the CD. They also explained history of the characters, and some of the scenes in the play that would not have come across in listening to the music. Such as a song that was telling Hamilton’s thoughts from the time Burr shot him until the bullet hit him. That’s just one example. I didn’t get the opportunity to see the play, I would love to but it’s a long way to New York City and tickets are hard to come by, not to mention very expensive from what I hear. So, for now, I am content to listen to the music, watch the special, and watch and listen to some YouTube videos.

Perhaps when I plan my trip for this spring and summer I will include stops at some of the founding fathers homesteads. In Hamilton’s America documentary they refer to several documents that Hamilton, Burr, and others wrote. I went online and found some of the articles by Hamilton and Burr. Several are in the National Archives, including the article Hamilton wrote in the late 1770’s after a hurricane destroyed the Caribbean island where he lived. I had no idea that Alexander Hamilton had such a huge impact on the creation of so many things that are a part of our life today, such as banking, where the Capitol of the United States is located, etc. Ron Chernow’s book Hamilton is what the play is based on. I went to the local library and they have a copy of this 700 page book. I want to borrow it sometime in the next few weeks and read at least a good part of it. PBS has a book that was created for their fundraiser telling the behind the scenes parts of Hamilton’s story, the PBS special, interviews, etc. I am not sure I will get that, but it does look interesting from what I could see of it.

A book series I recently read it really good. I got a book by this author on my trip. As I read this book I realized it’s the second book in a series of five books. The author is Richard Paul Evans and the book is a Journal on The Walk Series. The first book is entitled The Walk, second book is called Miles to Go. There are lots of great spiritual and life experience messages throughout all five books. I have told friends about this book series and the ones that have read it told me how much they enjoyed reading it. When I went to the library to get the four books in this series I saw a book by this author that I had read last year. I didn’t connect it was the same person until I saw the book on the shelf. It was called the Christmas List and it’s about a man who everyone thought had died, someone with his same name died and they saw the obituary. He read what people had written about him, none of it was favorable. He decided to change his life, made amends to people, and how by living differently he became a different person and how his life turned around. It’s a great book. I want to read other books by this author.

I have so many books and jigsaw puzzles on my bookshelf that it will take a long time, maybe years to get through all of them. I usually take a big tote bag of books on my trips, and also my Nook with lots of books on it. I tend to prefer reading a book because it’s easier to go back to reread a page or so, or skip ahead. But the Nook does take up less space and I bought a book light to clip on to the Nook to read it when it’s dark.

Katie my parakeet and I have been together almost a month now, it doesn’t seem that long. We are bonding better and she is getting used to her new environment and being held and handled, and is getting used to eating different foods like fruits and vegetables. I have been putting some treats in toys so that she has to work at getting them. I have been putting some millet seed which is her favorite treat on the fruits and veggies so that she will at least try to eat them. It seems to be working a little. After I hold her for a while and get her to do a task such as step on on my fingers from hand to hand, I give her millet as a treat. She just has to get used to being handled and have good foods to eat. I have no idea how old she is or how she was treated. From the looks of her beak and size I don’t think whoever had her took very good care of her. She was even turned in to the wildlife center in a small cage that was partly rusty and it had no perches, toys, etc. I think she will adjust and do just fine. I named her Katie and she seems okay with it. I go online and sometimes play parakeets chirping or talking for her, sometimes she listens to the radio, CDs, or the television. I have her cage where she can look out of the window. She is chirping sometimes, so maybe there is hope that she will talk one day. Katie likes to get her entire body into one of her food dishes to eat rather than reaching in for her food. She doesn’t like baths, but maybe one day she will. One of the tiny patches of black feathers on the underside of her neck is shaped like a heart. I have some pieces of an opened coconut husk with the soft fibers surrounding the hard coconut inside of it. I put some seed in the fibers so she can hunt through them for her seeds. I want her to learn to forage for food too so it will be more interesting hopefully than just taking the easy way and eating out of a dish.

I wish everyone a peaceful, healthy, joyful, blessed, and safe 2017 and many more days after that, one day at a time. I frequently write about cherishing every day, we never know how many more we have. This past month has been a reminder of living this way. Several actors and musicians have died unexpectedly. One playing ice hockey, another having a heart attack on an airplane, another from the grief of losing a daughter. We never know when it will be our last day. I only have this minute. I try to live it to the fullest. I don’t always jam things in. But doing things like taking a nap, talking and cuddling my parakeet Katie who was a rescue bird, baking cookies, watching tv, reading, walking, etc. are all okay things to be doing too.

Best wishes and love always, Carol

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