Back To Normal

I have to be honest, I was a little annoyed that spring sprang so early this year. Of all the years for it to come months ahead of schedule it would be the one that I was preoccupied with a monster project. Sure, it helped the carpenter that he had sunny and warm days in which to work outside – as did I in painting my return air vent – but, the added “pressure” of seeing plants sprout and not being able to clear out the leaves from last fall – that added stress. Now that the dust – literally and figuratively – has settled, my work hours on Saturday have shifted from inside to outside. While I figure I’m a month ahead of schedule for when I usually clean out the gardens, the plants have had a month jump on me. My first time out there, the thorns on my rose bushes scratched up my hands so bad I had to tell people I had been attacked by a rabid raccoon … would you believe a feral cat? Yeah, nobody believed me.

Since I’ve started the cleanup, I’ve managed about two gardens a week which is more than enough to keep me busy and literally get my hands dirty and I love it. I realized today, while on my knees pulling out leaves that were either dry and crackling or wet and nasty, that this cleanup process is a lot like remodeling rooms in my house – only on a much smaller and quicker scale. Cleaning out the leaves equates to tear out and laying more mulch is like a new layer of paint. Planting new plants must then be like getting new furniture – hm, I never realized this comparison before. Thinking things through, coming up with new concepts while being out in the fresh air with an occasional visit from a neighbor’s dog those are the things I enjoy the most about working outside. It recharges my batteries – especially being able to see what I’ve accomplished. For instance:

Here’s before –

and here’s after.

Normal – as pertains to me – shows itself in a number of different ways. For example, last week I tried a new recipe – this after months of crockpot cooking and frozen dinners. Life has definitely returned to normal if I’m trying a new recipe, which of course I’m going to share with you. Don’t let the color deter you, it was quite tasty. And, after eating Green Chicken in Peru (green because of the herb used not from mold), yellow’s not quite so off-putting – besides, it looks good in my kitchen! (Yeah, I’m kidding)

Tangy Ranch Chicken
2/3 cup Ranch dressing
1/3 cup Frenche’s Classic yellow Mustard
3 tbsp. brown sugar
6 oz. boneless skinless chicken breasts

Mix: salad dressing, mustard and sugar. pour 1/2 cup sauce into serving bowl.

Coat: Chicken with remaining sauce in 3 qt. greased baking dish.

Bake: Chicken at 350 degrees for 25 min. until cooked. Serve with reserved sauce.

Makes: 4 to 6 servings

So, there you have it, two sure signs by which my life appears to have returned to “normal”. Yeah, I wonder how long that will last..