Hello everyone, sorry for the long layoff. Christmas shopping, as I'm sure you all know, is extraordinarily time consuming, especially when you're male and are essentially clueless when it comes to the subject. I'm a very good list maker and checker-offer, but writing an item on a list does not equate to being able to find it in a mad house, er, mall at Christmas time. So it's not that there hasn't been anything interesting to post about, just that the 27 hour day hasn't been invented yet.
On the bright side, Mandi did the meal plan for the last two weeks (and usurped my grocery store trip Tuesday . . grrr), and she picked out some really good new recipes for us to try. I spent this afternoon adding a few of them to the Recipe List , so if you're struggling for meal ideas maybe give them a try. My favorite of the bunch was undoubtedly the Farfalle with Sausage, Cannellini Beans, and Kale. It was the first time I'd ever cooked with kale, and it definitely didn't disappoint. The Beef, Black Bean, and Chorizo Chili was also very good, although we replaced the chorizo with turkey-Andouille sausage. The result was not quite as spicy as it would have been, but certainly spicy enough and a lot lower in fat. Win-win there, and it made enough to freeze leftovers.
As for Phillip (a.k.a. "The Cat"), still no sign of him. He has not surfaced in either of the local Vet's offices or at the county animal shelter, but he also hasn't been scratching at the back door. I had hoped that the big increase in the number of birds in the back yard would lure him back, but so far it hasn't. At over 10 days missing, I'm certainly beyond any expectation (although not hope) that he'll ever be back. The last time he was out of the house he showed up at the back door after an hour, belly full of grass and more than ready to find a warm blanket or piece of upholstered furniture to curl up on. He'll certainly have his pick if he decides to return.
And in the last (and most exciting) piece of news from the last few days . . . drumroll please . . drumroll . . WE'RE DEBT FREE!!!!! We sent the last payment out Tuesday for my student loans, leaving our mortgage as the only debt we have left. We have spent the last 4 or 5 years "Living like no one else", so that someday we might be able to "Live like no one else". Our lifestyle of frugality and sacrifice has paid dividends this week, and it's an awesome feeling. To everyone who's heard me talk about it at one point or another, I urge you to get started RIGHT NOW! The feeling of freedom you'll feel when your money finally starts working for you (instead of you working for your money) is incredible! Imagine yourself, much like Mel Gibson did in Braveheart, screaming FREEDOM! at the top of your lungs as you send in that last payment, and you'll start to understand the feeling it created for us. Good luck if you get on board, it's a great New Year's resolution (even though I am against the general notion of resolutions). But that's a different post . .