Saturday, September 30, 2017

Homemade Grand Marnier

Last year, I attempted making Limoncello for the first time, and it was a great success. (We still have lots in the freezer, though, and I'm told it only lasts about a year, so I'm going to have to start recruiting people to drink it before the new batch is ready.)

This year, I halved the recipe for the Limoncello, and decided to try something new: orange liqueur.  My sister-in-law loves to have French Coffee, which is just regular coffee with a splash of Grand Marnier.  After looking through a few recipes online, I settled on this one from "Foodie Misadventures" because it seems pretty simple, and only takes about 4 weeks.

I'm very happy with the way the peels turned out, and it took a lot less time than zesting all of the lemons for the Limoncello, because I use a zester for that recipe that grates the peel, rather than producing slices. 

This time, I used my favorite vegetable peeler, the one that slips on your finger like a ring, rather than the kind with a handle, and it did a fantastic job of peeling away just the orange part of the peel, without any of white pith (which would make the liqueur bitter--not good). It's the only vegetable peeler that I use now when I cook, because I find the traditional handle one a little cumbersome.   This is it, click the link or the photo at right to find it on

Now, all I have to do is keep it in a cool, dark place (my spot of choice: a shelf in my bedroom closet), stir it up once a week, and wait 4 weeks before proceeding to Step 2 (which is adding the simple syrup, straining it all, and then bottling.  I'm exciting to try something new, and will do a follow-up post to let you know how it turned out.  Fingers crossed! 

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

A Ginormous Mushroom

It's not uncommon for us to find wild mushrooms growing in our yard during the summer, particularly when we've had some humid weather (and no, we NEVER eat them--not worth the risk!), but every once in a while we get a giant mushroom like this one: 

I'm told it's a "puffball mushroom". This one seems to love the spotlight--literally! It's already almost the size of a volleyball, and still growing.  I'm going to leave it alone and see just how big it can get.

UPDATE: September 25th: Yes, it's officially larger than a volleyball. 

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Forgive Me, But I Laughed

Spotted this totally awful Halloween t-shirt at Walmart, and laughed way harder than I should have:

Fun fact: it also glows in the dark.

Sunday, September 17, 2017


Well, last night I was blindsided to discover that, through a series of unknown clerical mishaps, my domain and hosting provider removed my personal website--without backing it up--and it is now gone. (Of course, nothing is truly gone forever on the internet--thank the lord above for Wayback Machine.)

I was very upset about it last night, because that website is where I kept my online portfolio, and where I pointed editors to whom I was pitching article ideas.  I had planned to give it an overhaul one day soon, when my client work died down a bit, but now it seems that time is at hand, whether I'm ready for it or not.

This morning, I'm glad to report that I'm feeling far more zen about the entire thing. I do believe that everything happens for a reason, and that ultimately, this will turn out to be a blessing.  (I choose not to focus on the "What Ifs," such as "What if there was a great assignment coming my way, but the editor tried to access my website and couldn't, so she moved on to the next writer?"  What Ifs are the worst--don't do it!)

It also helped me to get some perspective when I read about the island of Barbuda, and how it is now uninhabited for the first time in over 300 years, as a result of being completely decimated by Hurricane Irma.  It will take them years to rebuild the island, and thousands of people have been displaced (now living on the nearby island of Antigua, which wasn't hit as hard.)   So yes, I really don't have much to complain about--my efforts to rebuild pale in comparison to what those folks are going through.


Thursday, September 14, 2017

Making Sense of Your Free Credit Score

Earlier today, I had a friend who was questioning the info she'd gotten on her credit score report--it didn't seem to jive with what she expected, and she was stressing over it.  Ever since the cyber-hack on the Equifax site, lots of people have been trying to monitor their credit more closely, and with good reason. 

I'll confess, I don't pay too much attention to any of that--not because I don't care, but because my husband is actually so on top of it, I know I'm in good hands.  He even blogs about it, so if you're looking for some good advice on how to make sense of your credit scores, how to find good deals on credit card rewards, or how to get the most out of your credit card usage (converting points to cash back, or using points for free travel and hotel stays, etc.), feel free to check out 

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Ed Sheeran's "Perfect" : Destined to Be Everyone's Wedding Song for the Next 5 Years

Seriously, though....the song "Perfect" off of Ed Sheeran's album "Divide" is tailor-made to be THE wedding song for at least the next 5 years.  It's got a beautiful melody, and let's face it: everything this guy touches lately turns to gold (or platinum). 

If you haven't heard it yet, check it out:

Friday, September 8, 2017

As Seen on TV: The Sock Slider

Have you seen this commercial yet? It's for a product called "The Sock Slider"-- and it promises that you'll never have to bend down again to put your socks on.

This is actually pretty ingenious. If you're an able-bodied person, putting on your socks is something you take for granted. But, if you've ever been injured, or in the late stages of a pregnancy, you know that bending down just isn't in the cards sometimes.

I'm thankful that I don't need one of these right now, but I am definitely going to pick on up for our "crappy Christmas" game on Christmas Eve.  Like the "Snuggie" was in years past, I'm sure this will be the most sought after item in the bunch.

If you want to buy one, you can find it on for $24.99:

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Ice Cream for Breakfast: A Long-Standing Family Tradition is Finally Validated

When my children were very young, I started a family tradition that has endured to this day: on the morning of your birthday, you can have ANYTHING you want for breakfast.

That's right, no limits.  A hamburger with all the trimmings? Sure thing.  Macaroni and Cheese? Absolutely.

Ice cream?  Of course!

And yes, ice cream has long been the preferred choice of all 3 of my daughters over the years.  Sometimes it's on a chocolate chip waffle, or served on a pancake, or just part of a great big sundae with whipped cream and tons of toppings.

Now, there's actually a study that says eating ice cream for breakfast can improve your overall alertness and mental performance.  You can read more at the International Business Times.

I guess I was ahead of the curve on that one!

Christina's 12th Birthday

Amy's 10th Birthday
Cathy's 10th Birthday

Friday, September 1, 2017

Mysterious Illness Affecting U.S. Diplomats in Cuba: A Theory

This story about the illnesses suffered by U.S. Diplomats in Cuba just keeps getting stranger and stranger.  You can read the latest report by the Daily Mail at this link: 

Quick overview: more than a dozen U.S. diplomats in Cuba have fallen ill between November 2016 and April 2017 (and now, another 3 people have fallen ill in August 2017), due to what is believed to be an attack using some form of sonic weapon.  According to the article, "some have lost their hearing and others suffered mild brain injuries."  

Very scary stuff.  It reminded me of the work by Royal Raymond Rife, an American inventor who some claimed had found the cure for cancer, but was thwarted by a conspiracy because traditional cancer treatments are a big money maker for pharmaceutical companies and hospitals.  I have no idea if his research was valid or not, but the part that was interesting (and that reminds me of what's happening to these diplomats) is that Rife claimed he could cure diseases like cancer by using sound waves modulated to a particular frequency that would disrupt the "bad" cells while leaving the healthy cells intact.  He asserted that all cells vibrate on a certain frequency, and it was simply a matter of finding the one that cancer cells responded to, and then destroying them.  You can read more about these claims HERE

Hearing this mystery about the diplomats makes me wonder if someone has managed to replicate Rife's work, and has created a device that is disrupting the healthy cells in these diplomats, damaging them.   I know, it sounds nuts, but conspiracy theories always do.  Whatever it is that's making these people sick, I really hope they figure it out.