Chirped by Cass and Tina
The holidays have come and gone, along with the college boys, and we are back and resettling into our empty nest routines. Time to compile a top ten list of cheep trills from our long hiatus!
If you’ve never ventured into the genre of post-apocalyptic fiction, A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World, by C. A. Fletcher, is a perfect place to dabble your toes. I can also heartily recommend the Audible version, voiced by the author himself. Fletcher does a fantastic job of narrating, and you know you’re getting all the right nuances when the writer is also the story teller. Plus, it’s a terrific story, at least as stories of what happens after the apocalypse go. It’s easy to be transported to this future landscape, a hundred years or more after most of the world’s population has died of old age. It’s a world now peopled only by scattered clusters of resourceful survivors, descended from the fertile few after the mysterious “Gelding”. “Griz” is the determined young hero who spontaneously sets off to rescue the family pet from a thieving stranger. You don’t mess with someone’s beloved dog. Yes, there are plenty of very dark parts, but also some sweet ones for balance. I’m recommending it to both my book clubs for our 2020 lists! – Tina
Favorite Cookbook and Recipe
Tina has been trying out recipes from the cookbook Quick Easy Healthy: Delicious, Nutritious Recipes Perfect for Busy People. Since she gifted it to her husband in November, she has already prepared seven new dishes – most more than once! Her latest favorite? Baked Cod with Tomatoes and Olives, and she doesn’t even like olives (but her hubbie does, and he picked it). Other highlights have included “Spanish-Style Pork with Mango Salsa” and “Grilled Pork Fajitas with Mango and Salsa Verde.” (She likes fruit and meat combos… (-; ) If you’re looking to mix up your menus in 2020, might want to check it out in the bargain books section of your local Barnes and Noble!
Favorite Newly-Discovered Philadelphia Attraction
We first learned about the existence of Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens (PMG) on the elevator of One Liberty Place several years ago. A Philly’s-greatest-hits video entertained visitors on the long ride up to the observation deck, and while most everything else was familiar, the images of a mosaic wonderland were not. A helpful staffer was able to identify the clip as part of the Magic Gardens on South Street. We finally visited these sculptural “gardens” in November. What a treat! PMG is a celebration of color and texture, disguised as therapy for its often troubled but prolific creator, Isaiah Zagar. Mosaics of handmade tiles, trash-to-treasure tidbits, and internationally known folk artists’ sculptures cover indoor and outdoor walls, ceilings, floors and grottos. The delightful jumble also spills out into nearby streets. A non-profit organization preserves, protects, and started running tours of the gardens in 2008.
Pro-Tips: #1 – Take the tour! You’ll learn a lot about the artist (we even met him!), his process, and the installations. #2 – Get your timed entry tickets online and in advance, preferably for a nice day. We tried just showing up one weekend afternoon and they were already sold out. Another weekend it was raining, and parts of the exhibition are outdoors.
Favorite Photo Tile Company
Check out next week’s “Birds’ Eye Review” for the full analysis, but after trying three different manufacturers, we liked Mixtiles’ product the best. And, my son (whose only dorm room decorations were previously two Post-it notes) now has five (of the 16 options I made him for Christmas) adorning his formerly barren wall. It remains to be seen whether he’ll leave them there. He might decide they’re too much for his simple aesthetic, but for now… he’s making his mom happier about the homeyness of his space!
Favorite Big Ticket Events
Tina finally made it to an Eagle’s football game at Lincoln Field in Philadelphia with her husband for his birthday. It was great fun being there live – and the Birds even won! (This was a while back…) Meanwhile, Cass trekked to Vegas to check out Shania Twain’s LV Residency with some girlfriends. Shania put on a tremendous show, as always!
Blue Apron Review
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This was our first time trying out one of the meal kit delivery services. Tina ordered two dinners from Blue Apron that she received as a gift from a friend. The insulated box arrived on the promised day, with everything she needed to prepare her two selected recipes inside (minus olive oil, salt and pepper?). Some of the ingredients came pre-measured (butter, Worcestershire sauce), others not so much (full bulbs of garlic, not individual cloves). Fresh vegetables were not pre-chopped, nor was meat pre-trimmed. The first recipe for Seared Steaks with Creamy Salsa Verde was pretty labor intensive in terms of prep work, but came out really delicious and looked pretty! (Sorry, forgot to get a photo.) The Thai-Style Glazed Tilapia was good, but not great.
Over-all thoughts about Blue Apron? If you hate grocery shopping and figuring out what to make for dinner, this subscription service might be a good fit for you. You can choose which meals you want, filtered by foods you don’t or won’t eat. You can try new flavors without having to invest in whole jars of spices or ingredients that you might decide you don’t like. Personally, we didn’t find that Blue Apron made dinner prep that much easier than usual, so if those perks aren’t enough for you, it might not be worth the $9-10/serving price tag. We give it three “crows’ feet” out of five… lol. But Tina is definitely keeping that steak recipe for future entertaining!
Twelve Days of Christmas Hanger Trees
All the 12 Days of Christmas Hanger Trees we sent out, with accompanying goodies, were very happily received. We loved getting pictures of our trees (or our followers’ trees!) in their new homes. One reader said her daughter, a little homesick during a semester abroad, cried when she got hers… We think that’s a good thing, right??
Thankful Poster 2019
Check out our post about making Thankful Posters and take a look at what Big Bird and surrounding family members were thankful for on 2019’s Thanksgiving masterpiece!
Favorite Gift Idea
This Christmas the most popular gift idea was apparently the rustic, handcrafted sponge holder. Cass gave one to her mother-in-law and her son for his new apartment… To her surprise, she also received one from that very same MIL!
Favorite Photos of the Fluffs
No surprises on who our favorite fluffballs are… Methinks the one with his chin on my sweater is hinting at a walk?
That wraps up our list for the holiday season! Looking forward to getting back on track with more regular posts now that the new year is well underway. Hope you’ll continue to follow along on our empty nester journey, as we enter our third year of blogging!
Happy 2020, everyone!
- 12 Days of Christmas Hanger Tree
- Thanksgiving Traditions: How to Make a “Thankful” Poster
- October’s Cheep Trills, 2019
- September’s Cheep Trills
- Summertime’s Cheep Trills
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Thanks for reading!
So nice to see an updated chirp!
Took us long enough! Life gets priority sometimes…