Get Your Grill Ready for Summer!

This weekend makes the ‘official’ arrival of summer. The folks at Cargill Beef have supplied some timely and terrific tips to get our grills ready to go for the weekend. Mine is fired up and I’m grilling a versatile new recipe with beef from Sam’s Club. 

We’ve also got a GIVEAWAY! Courtesy of Cargill Beef and Sam’s Club! Shout out in the comments below what you’re grilling this weekend or your favorite food cooked on the grill.  You’ll automatically be eligible to win one of FIVE $25 Sam’s Club gift cards! Winners will be announced Saturday morning. NOTE: It may take a while for your comment to show up, but don’t worry. 🙂

During the summer, my husband and I grill almost every night. We love it, and a side benefit of it is we aren’t heating up the house by using the oven. (Saving money is a beautiful thing.)

With Memorial Day weekend coming, it’s time to get our grill ready for the summer and get grilling!

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1. Check the Hose: Considering your grill may have been sitting for many months without being used, take a few minutes to give it a once-over before you press ignite. Specifically, if you have a gas grill, check the hose from your propane to your burners and make sure it’s intact and clean. If there’s any buildup on the hose, be sure to clean it off before starting your grill. If the hose has any holes or any signs of being torn, it’s worth the few bucks to just replace it.

We bought our grill new just last year, so a quick look shows that all my hoses are in good shape.

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2. Give It a Quick Cleaning: If you have a gas grill, take the grates out and give everything a good scrub down. You can use a wire brush and a damp cloth to get the job done. Soap isn’t recommended. It can linger and it’s tough to wash off. Also, don’t forget to run your grilling tools through the dishwasher before that first cookout.

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I store most of my grilling supplies in a galvanized bucket with a lid near my grill. It keeps them handy, dry and clean. I like having everything contained nearby but not cluttered.

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It’s a great time to take inventory of your grilling supplies as you load them in the dishwasher. Somehow, I was just down to an oversize spatula and tongs; the rest of my grilling supplies have disappeared. I’m guessing they migrated to our RV. 😉

Jot down on your list anything you might need to pick up the next time you’re at the store. One of my pet peeves is to go to use something and not having it!

3. Clean Out Your Grease Trap: Before grilling season starts, be sure to pull out the grease trap below your grill and dump out any grease and grime from last year. For easy cleanup next year, line your grease trap with some sturdy aluminum foil.

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This is what my grease trap looked like. Ewwww, gross! This was actually dangerous! It’s hard to tell by this picture, but the large dark lump actually stood up pretty high; it could have easily caught fire when I was burning off food residue and the grill temp was really HOT.

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So, I wiped it out and ran it through the dishwasher.

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Much better!

4. Test Run Before Cooking: Before you get to cooking, turn on your grill, light it up and let it burn for a few minutes. Watch it to make sure all the burners are firing and there are no leaks.

Now you’ve done this, all systems are set to go and your grill is ready for summer!

Steak is a favorite treat of ours, so I’m grilling some terrific T-bones. If you’re needing some Beef-spiration, there are tons of recipes here. That’s where this recipe came from. 🙂

Did you know that all meat sold at Sam’s Club is fresh, never frozen? Me neither! Together, these big beautiful T-bones weighed almost 4 pounds.

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Beef Steak with Colorful Peppers


2 beef T-bone steaks from Sam’s Club
2 small bell peppers, quartered

Parsley Pesto:
½ cup packed fresh Italian parsley leaves
4 large cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons olive oil


1. Place pesto ingredients in food processor or blender container. Cover; process until parsley is finely chopped, stopping and scraping side of bowl as needed. 2. Spread pesto generously on both sides of beef steaks and bell peppers. Place steaks and peppers on grid over medium, ash-covered coals. Grill, covered, 11 to 16 minutes (over medium heat on preheated gas grill, 15 to 19 minutes) for medium rare (145°F) to medium (160°F) doneness and until peppers are tender, turning occasionally. 3. Remove bones; carve steaks into slices. Season with salt and pepper, as desired. Serve beef with peppers.

This is my kind of recipe: easy, normal everyday ingredients and simply scrumptious!  I am a really good cook, but I am not a great cook. If I look at over-complicated recipes, I begin to hear bumblebees in my head.

One note about the parsley: there was no Italian parsley to be found this week, a hazard of living in a rural area. Don’t worry, you can use regular parsley and it’s still delicious!

I grilled one steak very rare and left it whole for my husband. He’s working late so it will be a special treat for his dinner.

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The other I sliced as the recipe called for; it was terrific and husband-approved (he sneaked home for a taste after I texted him a picture.) If cooked rare, you can re-heat with eggs for breakfast (YUM!) or put it on a salad.

Now, go forth and grill! And have a safe and happy Memorial Day weekend, folks.


UPDATE: Giveaway winners are: Hayley, Weesie, Lynn, Jenny and Peggy. Thanks for playing everybody, I appreciate it!

5 Tips For Cleaner Dishes

We have a holiday weekend coming up, graduations, reunions, parties, barbecues…in other words, it’s summer! Which means company, food, fun and…dishes! This post and the next are full of great tips to get you ready for the season.

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When I was a kid, our dishwasher was my mom. And, once in a while, me. But usually my mom. 😉

So I didn’t really have a dishwasher until…gosh…um…I don’t know. So it took me a long time to learn how to get cleaner dishes in my dishwasher. Based on my non-technical survey of the behavior of random guests at my house, they didn’t know either.

So I’m here to share my knowledge gleaned from experience, from reading, and from the dishwasher repairman.

1. Don’t rinse the dishes!

Yes, really. Do NOT rinse them.

(I figured you really didn’t need a picture to go with this one.)

Dishwasher soap is pH-balanced to work with dirty dishes. If you are rinsing your dishes, you are actually lessening the effectiveness of your detergent. Which means it won’t get them as clean.

Scrape the larger food particles off, and put them in there dirty. Yes, dirty.

I promise I do it all the time.

2. Load it full, and stack the dishes.

2015-05-18 19.58.37Yes, really. It’s hard to see in this picture, but there’s a clear glass bowl underneath the other bowls. And yes, that’s a dog food bowl on the top.

Confession: These are my dirty dishes right before I started the dishwasher. Hence, no closeup.

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Here’s my top rack. Cups, glasses, plastics, lids, and yes, more dog food bowls.

Another confession: I don’t run my dishwasher every day. I run it about every 2-3 day, either when it’s full or when it gets smelly, whichever comes first.

Once in a while I have a little residue, say, two spoons stick together or a couple of bowls moved during the washing process. But if I do, it’s only a little.

See how much work I’m saving you? 😀

3. Place like silverware together. 

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This is a tidbit I picked up from a colleague a few years ago that’s nothing short of brilliant. Why didn’t I think of this? Kudos to you if you’re already doing it!

Place all your forks together. (No worries, these are clean.)

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And, all your spoons.   I usually put the knives in the middle.

It saves a ton of time when you’re putting them away!

4. Run hot water.

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Turn on your faucet, let it run until the water is hot; THEN turn on your dishwasher.

This is probably one of the biggest factors in getting your dishes clean. Think about it…is the first cycle your dishes go through mostly cold water? HelLO! 😀 Try this and see if you don’t notice a difference immediately.

5. Don’t overuse a rinse aid.

Rinse aids are like cocktails and fine chocolates. A little goes a long way and is delightful, but too much is too much. And too much can seriously damage your dishwasher.

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This is what I use. I like that it’s all in one little cube, with no plastic coating. Pre-measured, so I don’t use too much. And with no plastic, it’s not only better for us but better for the environment.

If you are currently using a liquid rinse aid, do NOT use cubes with additional rinse aid in it. Using too much detergent and rinse aid helps keep our dishwasher repairmen in business.

I can neither confirm nor deny how I know this. 😉

Try some of these tips the next time you run your dishwasher, and let me know how it goes.

Happy Washing!

He Doesn’t Buy Me Flowers

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Just over 15 years ago, I promised to love and honor this guy for better or worse, richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, till death do us part.

There were certain things I knew about him before we got married.

He is a creature of habit, doesn’t like surprises, and doesn’t consider himself to be a creative thinker or gift giver. “Spontaneous” is not a word that I would normally associate with him.

This is a guy who bought his mom a football for Christmas when he was a kid. 😀

He’s a man’s man.

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Romantic dinners, girlie gifts or the occasional surprise aren’t part of the package, and Valentine’s Day is just another day.

It really doesn’t bother me in the least.

That’s the way my dad was, and I don’t know anyone who would say my dad wasn’t a good man.

Instead of flowers, I have financial security; I have dogs instead of diamonds, and much of our everyday life would probably seem pretty boring to some people.

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I wouldn’t change a thing.

And I love that every once in a while, he’ll say or do something that surprises me and makes my heart melt. It sustains me for weeks. Or months.

Last fall we were downstairs in the Black Dog Saloon listening to music, much as we often do on a typical weekend. He has become a big Chris Young fan over the last couple of years.

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“Hey, I want you to listen to this song. It makes me think of us.” he said.

A song began to play that I hadn’t heard before. I started to talk.

“No, I mean I want you to REALLY listen…to the words.” His eyes were piercing, earnest and insistent. Within seconds, I was speechless anyway.

I’ve been a rolling stone all my life
Flying all alone, flying blind
I’ve seen it all, I’ve been around
I’ve been lost and I’ve been found

But who I am with you is who I really wanna be
You’re so good for me
And when I’m holdin’ you, it feels like I’ve got the world in my hands
Yeah, a better man is who I am with you

I’ve got a ways to go on this ride
But I got a hand to hold that fits just right
You make me laugh, you make me high,
You make me wanna hold on tight

‘Cause who I am with you is who I really wanna be
You’re so good for me
And when I’m holdin’ you, it feels like I’ve got the world in my hands
Yeah, a better man is who I am with you
Who I am with you

Because of you I’m a lucky man
You’re the best part of who I am

Who I am with you is who I really wanna be
You’re so good for me
And when I’m holdin’ you, it feels like I’ve got the world in my hands
Yeah, a better man is who I am with you

Yes, who I am with you

 Yes, it brought tears to my eyes, and my heart melted. It has sustained me for months. And every once in a while, he’ll play it to surprise me and even sing along, if I’m lucky and there’s no one else around. 🙂

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How To Be Your Best Self


I realized last week that my friend Vicky has shown me how to be my best self.

She and Bob left Monday after spending a fun-filled long weekend here at our house and camping at Kansas Speedway. We met Bob and Vicky in Florida, where we had the good fortune of being camped across the road from them for the last 2 or 3 years.

This year, we all just clicked. I mean, really, how often is it that a couple actually meets another couple and everybody likes each other?

“I wish we lived closer and could do more things together,” Bob said when they left.

“I wish we lived closer,” my husband said when they left.

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Friendship is an amazingly wonderful thing. I am proud to say I have a number of wonderful girlfriends who keep me grounded, listen to me patiently, drink with me if I need them to, tell me when I’m being an idiot, if I have spinach in my teeth, or toilet paper on my shoe (usually neither of which my husband notices.)

I adore them all, and I learn something from

But everyone needs a friend like Vicky. And if you don’t currently have a friend like Vicky, I suggest you immediately seek one out.

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We are all creatures of habit. Habit is comforting and familiar, and feels good in our stressed ever-busy lives.

Life feels good when we’re in a rut.

The problem is, a rut isn’t always good for us. Too much of a good thing is not always a good thing.

Vicky pushes me out of my comfort zone, in a good way.

You see, I like to color inside the lines. I am not a rule breaker. Oh sure, I might be funny and outgoing and creative, but I like to do this all within the confines of what’s comfortable. It’s human nature.

A couple of years ago, during a leadership retreat, my classmates and I participated in an exercise in which we all had to share one positive thing about each other.

My friend Cass, who is wonderfully ballsy, outspoken and authentic, (which I struggle with) sat down, put her hands on my knees and leaned forward.

“You know doll, the thing about you is that you need to get out of your own way,” she said sincerely, her eyes crinkling with her smile. 

Truer, more profound words were never spoken. WOW. I was stunned. How did she know? And I knew she was right.

Life teaches conformity. Life teaches you to blend in if you want to be comfortable. Because life can be very uncomfortable for you if you’re too unique.

I determined right then and there to let my redneck flag fly, so to speak. To be authentic. To be me. To be my best self.

And then along came Vicky.

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Vicky is bold, beautiful, has great style, and is comfortable in her own skin. She pushes me out of my comfort zone and forces me to be a better version of myself. And she makes me laugh. A lot.

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She’s been through hard times, good times, challenging times, wonderful times, and they’ve enriched the fabric that’s her life. She’s encouraged me to walk away from the mental checklist and open my eyes to new activities and new things. Thanks to her, I’ve developed a passion for swimsuit cover ups, breaking the (self-imposed) rules, and embracing life – and a wider variety of cocktails – with gusto.

I have a tendency to get too wrapped up in the hamster wheel that is life, forgetting that the little things really ARE the big things.

Just this weekend, she came up with several great ideas for my living room. Sunday evening we rearranged my furniture. She saw things I simply hadn’t thought about, no longer noticed.

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Because when you live in your home, after a while you don’t see things anymore. Day in and day out, you walk by the same things and after a while you no longer see them.

That’s why people call me to help them with their houses! Because I don’t live there, and I can see things they don’t.

My dear friend Christine tells me that every year I get her deeper out of her comfort zone wearing different, new colors. That’s what is so wonderful about the tapestry that we call friendship. We all give to each other.

Friendship surely has to be one of life’s best treasures. Do you have a friend who helps you be your best self?

Cheers, friends!