Thursday, October 25, 2012

Making It Work

Sometimes, you just need to use what you have and not run to the grocery store for 1 or 2 ingredients.  This week, I have been doing just that.  It's been difficult as I can seriously see the grocery store from my front porch.  It's just across the highway.  To get there it's less than 1/4 mile if I drive over.  It's even shorter if I walk because I'm not confined to going one way on the one way street. 

But, my pantry, freezer and refrigerator are full.  I don't need to buy more things.  Well, I need more chicken....and in a couple of days I will need another gallon of milk, tea, coffee and sugar.  But, that's beside the point. 

I have been making lots of recipes from Pinterest.  Lots of them.  Some have turned out GREAT.  Others have been just okay.  But, everything has been edible and we've enjoyed having a variety of food instead of the same 10-ish meals over and over and over.

Which brings me to my point.  These recipes almost always call for something I don't have in my pantry.  Sometimes it's an ingredient I've used and haven't replenished.  Other times, it's something I don't regularly buy.  But, these trips to the grocery are getting out of hand.  So, I decided to stop driving over every day for one item, only to come out of the store with 10-20 items.  I told you it was getting out of hand.

Case in point.  I found this recipe http://www.mamalaughlin.com/2012/02/skinny-doritos-taco-bake.html for Skinny Doritos Taco Bake on Pinterest.  It sounded yummy.  I was in the mood for something different and I thought I had everything I needed.  Wrong!  For a moment, I considered running the 1/4 mile to the store to pick up the things I needed/wanted to make this exact recipe.  Then I remembered the promise I had made myself to "make do" with what I have. 

So, I made substitutions and came up with a recipe I am now calling "Frito Pie Casserole" since it reminded us all of Frito Pie.  The nice thing, it was easy as I didn't have to make chili and it was already put together. 

Ready?  It's Recipe Time!!

Frito Pie Casserole

1 can dark red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 pound ground beef
1/2 small white onion, chopped
1 small can (8 oz) tomato sauce
1 can diced green chilis
salt*
pepper*
cumin*
chili powder*
paprika*
1/4 cup Mexican blend shredded cheese (or cheddar, if you prefer)
2 snack bags of Spicy Nacho Doritos (or Fritos, if you prefer)
2 Tbsp Sour Cream

*or, substitute 1/2 packet of taco seasoning, or to taste

Preheat oven to 350.

Spray bottom of an 8 x 8 casserole dish.  Put beans over bottom.

Brown the beef with onion until done.  Sprinkle with spices or 1/2 taco seasoning packet to taste. 

Stir in tomato sauce and peppers.  Heat through and let simmer for 10 minutes.  Adjust seasonings, if needed. 

Pour meat mixture over the beans.  Dot sour cream over the meat and swirl it over the top to cover in a very thin layer.  Sprinkle cheese over the sour cream.  Crush the chips and layer on top. 

Put it into the oven.  Bake 20-30 minutes, until it begins to bubble around the edges.  Cool for a bit and enjoy!!

Before you get all crazy because I used "Doritos" but called it "Frito Pie" let me address that now.  I named it what I did because that's what it tasted like to all of us.  I assume with Fritos it will taste basically the same, but will need a little extra cheese.  I went light on cheese and sour cream because I have people in my house who #1 are sensitive to dairy products and #2 don't like cheese or sour cream. 

My thought is, if you add more cheese and sour cream, you would definitely want to use plain Fritos instead of the Doritos.  And, add more than two snack bags.  More like 3 or 4.  Or, half a regular bag of Fritos.  Whatever makes you happy.  I just didn't have any when I made this. 


My usual coffee update:  Yes, yes, yes.  Lots.  Made a pot this morning and another half pot this afternoon.  Community Coffee, Hotel Blend.  It's my go-to coffee.  Love it.  Having it with a slice of this cake is quite yummy.  Found this recipe on Pinterest too.  http://3to1barnett.blogspot.com/2010/02/foodie-friday-sundrop-cakeyummie.html  Sun Drop Cake.  You MUST try it.  Now, today.  Go buy the ingredients and get baking!!  :)

Monday, October 15, 2012

Chicken Pot Pie Casserole

By now you know of my great love of Pinterest and all the wonderful recipes I find there.  One, in particular, caught my attention this weekend, probably due to the cooler weather, the cloudy skies and the general feel of Fall in the air. 

Wanna know which one so captured my attention it is all I have been able to think about since Saturday?  It is this one.  http://theshadyporch.blogspot.com/2011/11/chicken-dumpling-casserole.html  It looks and sounds scrumptious.  Plus, the blog is a fun read too.  Check it out.  In the blog, she referenced this recipe, http://www.deepsouthdish.com/2009/02/chicken-and-dumpling-bake.html, which is another yummy sounding recipe, plus a well written blog. 

After reading both, I was inspired to try my hand at making this casserole.  But, here is the problem.  My darling husband is not a fan of chicken and dumplings.  So, making a chicken and dumpling casserole probably isn't the best idea. 

What is a Southern girl who is longing for some chicken and dumplings to do?  Put a twist on the recipe and turn it into a Chicken Pot Pie casserole.  Of course!!

This is what I did. 

Found the perfect oval casserole dish in my cabinet, turned on the oven and melted 2 Tbsp of butter in the dish.  Cut poached chicken into bite size pieces and dumped them into the dish. 

Then, I opened a couple of small cans of peas and corn to plop on top of the chicken (this was to turn the casserole into a pot pie vs dumplings) and then I noticed something.  Oops, I thought it was whole kernel corn, but it was cream style corn.  Whatever.  I dumped them both on top of the chicken.  It looked like this.



Then I added seasoning to the dish.  Pepper, dried onion flakes, garlic powder, dried parsley, sage.  Smelled wonderful.  Close your eyes and breathe deeply.  Can you smell it? 

Then, I got creative and did something a little different with my "dumplings" because I remembered all the comments from the other two blogs.  Lots of complaints about the final result being rather soupy and it taking way too long to cook due to the liquidness (is that a word) of the dish. 

Because of that, I decided to make my dumplings a bit more dumpling like - or rather, biscuit like. Using what I had on hand (I'm trying to clear out my pantry and freezer) I pulled out my box of Pioneer Baking mix and measured out 1.5 cups of mix, then stirred in 3/4 cup of milk. 

I liked the consistency.  Not too stiff, but not too runny either.  I scooped out spoonsful and plopped over the veggies and spices.  Like this:



My theory is, this will bake into biscuits/dumplings rather than disintegrate into sauce like it would if I used a 1-1 ratio as the other two recipes did.  Crossing my fingers this is what happens. 

Now, to make the sauce to go into the pot pie.  After all, it can't be dry.  That would be awful.  So, using the same bowl I made the biscuits/dumplings I poured the broth from poaching my chicken (I used 2 bouillon cubes and some dried onion flakes to season the chicken when I poached it so this broth is pretty tasty) into the bowl and mixed it together to thicken it.  It wasn't quite thick enough or quite flavorful as I wanted.  The other recipes called for condensed cream of chicken soup.  I didn't want to use that, so instead I mixed a half cup of Pioneer mix with a third cup of milk.  Sprinkled in pepper, garlic powder, basil and parsley and mixed it together.  Then, I poured that into the broth and mixed it together.  It looked and smelled delicious. 

Poured that over everything in the dish.  Like this,


Doesn't that look good for being unbaked?? 

Then, I popped it into the oven and am now anxiously waiting to see how it turns out as I type this post.  It smells good.  Just went into the kitchen to take a peek.  It looks good too.  It's browning nicely on top and the biscuit/dumplings are setting up nicely.  Whew!  It's very bubbly also.  It has been 30 minutes since I put it into the oven.  I think a few more minutes will help the broth to cook down and thicken to the right consistency.  Soon, I will pull it out and let it begin to cool a little before dinner.

The debate now is, do I make additional biscuits to go with it?  We LOVE biscuits and pot pie never has enough.  Maybe I will make some copy cat Red Lobster biscuits to go with it... 

Oh, this is what it looks like when it is done. 



And this is it on the plate.  BTW, it was tasty!!





Full Recipe:

Susan's Chicken Pot Pie Casserole

2 Tbsp butter or margarine
3 cups cubed chicken*
8.5 oz can green peas 
8.5 oz can whole kernel corn (or cream style, if that's what you have or prefer)
Dried onion flakes to taste (I used 1 Tbps)
Pepper to taste (I used 1/2 tsp)
Dried parsley, garlic powder and sage, to taste (I used about 1/2 tsp each)
1.5 cup Pioneer Baking Mix (Bisquick or any other baking mix would work)
3/4 cup milk (I used 2%)
About 1 cup broth
1/2 cup baking mix
1/3 cup milk
Pepper, garlic powder, parsley, basil to taste (No idea how much I used of each, but not a lot)

Preheat oven to 350.  Place butter in casserole dish and melt in the preheating oven.  Carefully remove from the oven and start assembling the casserole.  Be careful, the dish is HOT!!

Put cubed chicken in first. Top with peas and corn.  Seasonings next.  Do not mix these layers together!

Next mix the 1.5 cup of baking mix with the milk.  Drop the biscuit/dumplings by spoonsful on top of the veggies and seasonings.  

Pour the cup of broth into the bowl you used to make the biscuits.  Stir to thicken the broth. 

In a cup mix the remaining baking mix and milk.  Add in the final seasonings and mix.  Stir into the broth.  Then, gently pour into the casserole dish.  Do not mix!!!! 

Bake at 350 for 30-45 minutes until the bubbly and the biscuits are browned on top and done. 

*I used 3 large boneless skinless breasts poached in water with 2 bouillon cubes and dried onion flakes added to the water to flavor the chicken and subsequent broth.   

Enjoy!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

A Shift in Perspective

Yesterday I wrote about something I have wanted for a very long time.  Something I doubt will ever come to pass and the hurt from knowing it will remain an unfulfilled desire. 

Don't think I am angry or bitter about it. I am not.  My heart hurts, yes.  I am sad over it.  But I accept the fact that although I want it desperately, it may not be what is best. 

Days before writing yesterday's post, I gave up all responsibility for this lack by placing it in God's capable hands.  If this desire is from him, he will change hearts and minds and it will happen.  If he has decided it is best for this desire to go unfulfilled, then I trust he has a better plan for my life.  Untimately, in the center of his will is where I always want to be. 

Last night, after posting, I was reading other blogs as well as keeping up with various status updates on Facebook.  Suddenly, I was stopped in my tracks. 

Let me back track for a moment.  I grew up in a small town in Tennessee.   A very small town.  One stop light. Everyone knows everyone there.  Seriously.  But, not in a bad way.  In a caring way.  The way only small Southern towns can do.  It's like a very big extended family. 

Former classmates are now teaching at the schools where I attended as a child.  Their children are now attending those same schools.  Everyone still knows everyone there. And, they still care.  Deeply.  And, if you are from there, you still care too.  No matter how far away or how long you have been gone, the small town heart still beats within.

So, last night, when I saw updates saying there had been a wreck involving two of the local high school girls, my heart broke and I prayed.  As I kept reading, I learned one was dead and the other in surgery fighting for her life. She didn't make it. 

My heart is crushed by this more than from any unfulfilled desire. 

There are two families in my hometown in Tennessee who are without their daughters today. 

There is suffering and pain in so many lives right now.  Some of them I don't know, having lived away for over 20 years. Some of them I do know.  They are my family members, friends, former classmates, etc.  Their hearts are broken. 

So I do what I can from Texas.  I pray for God to be there, to comfort them in their need.  To sustain them.  To give them grace and peace.  I pray for them to have strength to go on each day.  And, I pray they have soft hearts, full of love and not bitterness. 

Please pray for the families and friends with me.  I know my hometown will appreciate it. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

What A Mom Does

Have you ever been denied a deep desire of your heart? 

I'm not talking something like "I want a new car, but the budget doesn't support it."  But, something deep, something meaningful, something that in a way defines who you are, how you see yourself, and maybe even who you want to be deep down inside. 

A life changing desire of the heart.

Something that you are *this close* to being able to make happen.  *This stinking close*  But, making it happen will hurt some one or two special people whom you love more than yourself. 

These people ask difficult questions that are hard to answer when you try to discuss the subject.  You know the answer deep in your heart, but putting it into words, words you say aloud, is almost impossible. 

How do you describe such a desperate, deep, intangible, irresistible longing?  A longing that will in some ways complete you, but will in turn make them feel less.  Maybe not always.  Maybe not for long.  But, initially.  Sometimes just speaking about it hurts them that much.

Ouch.

So, to spare others feelings.  Their self worth.  Their emotional needs.  Their security.  You deny yourself this longing.  Your heart rends.  It breaks.  It bleeds.  It will never be complete again, because it is a void that can not be filled. 

Don't worry.  I am okay. 

What hurts even worse than having one of my own longings left unfulfilled is seeing one of my sons be disappointed.  Especially when there is absolutely nothing I can do to help or fix things.  All I can do is simply be there to talk it over and listen. 

And, when I can help, then I do.  Like now.  By dropping my desires for theirs.  Again.  It's what a Mom does.  Gladly.  Willingly.  Easily.  Gratefully.  Unreservedly. Always.  Forever.  Because, they won't always be young.  They won't always need me as they do now (even though they are all teens).  But, as long as they need their Mom, I will be here for them, no reservations needed.  :)

Thursday, October 4, 2012

What's My Topic?

Oh good grief!!! 

I was blogging away and had a fairly decent post almost completed.  Then, POOF! I somehow deleted the entire thing.  Normally, I would recreate the post.  But, as I have a massive headache, I refuse to even try it today.

Now, the question is:  What shall I blog about today?  Yesterday I had a GREAT topic in mind.  Manners, or rather the lack of them on-line.  More specifically, how some people like to hide behind their computer screens and be rude, nasty and mean to other people. 

Today, I do not have the ability to undertake such an important topic.  Maybe, in the future.  But, please do not hold your breath waiting to read such an inspiring, well written blog post.  It may never happen. 

My mind has been wandering about in search of a topic I can write about daily.  Well, at least weekly, as my track record clearly shows I rarely write daily.  I am in awe of people who have narrowed their blogs to one topic and write about it consistently.  Food, fashion, decorating, adoption, foster parenting, parenting, art, travel, etc.  How do they do it? 

Some days, no, most days, I consider myself to be a "Jill of all trades, master of none."  The only thing I know enough about to write about consistently is what is going on in my own home.  Even then, it's only a snapshot.  Usually a blurred one.  Photography is not my forte.  I wish it was.  I took a class in college.  I made a C.  *sigh*

I added a couple of recipes today to the blog.  And, I put links to them on the Recipes tab so they will be easy to find in the future.  I need to skim through the blog to find other recipes to link there.  Or, maybe not.  Too much to attempt today.

The one constant in my blogging is my cup of coffee.  As much as I love coffee, beyond mentioning what I am currently drinking (Community Coffee, Hotel Blend with a splash of half and half and artificial sweetener) there really isn't much I can say about coffee.  Certainly not enough for it to be my main blog topic. 

So, I am back to the drawing board wondering what I can or should write about.  I dunno.  Any suggestions?  Or, do you like my ramblings?  Maybe it makes you feel good to know someone else out there doesn't have it quite all together too. 

As promised, a couple of pics from my house.  I don't have things completely arranged yet.  But, it's cozy and home. 

The living room. 
I still need to add a few things to the walls and a chair or two.
But, overall, I am happy with it.

The "Before" picture of the dining room as I was trying to figure out what to do with everything.

The After picture. 
Whew.  Looks a LOT better, huh?
It's a pleasure to cook and eat in here now. 

That's it for today.  Hope you enjoyed the foray into my crazy mind today.  Chances are, tomorrow won't be any better, but we can hope.  :)

Coffee:   Yes, drank all the 8 cups I brewed at home.  Then, on a trip with son #2, I stopped by Starbucks.  I am now sipping a Venti Skinny Caramel Macchiato.  It was free.  I love being a Gold card member.  :)  Life is good. 


Asparagus with Truffle Salt

I made asparagus for dinner recently.  Read all about it here: http://susanscoffeechronicles.blogspot.com/2012/10/my-memory-failed-meagain.html 

If all you are interested in is the recipe, you can skip the long post.  I will simply add it here for you.  So much easier, yes?  :)  Enjoy!!  ~Susan :)

Asparagus with Truffle Salt

1 bunch Asparagus (or more, if you wish)
Olive Oil
Truffle Salt

Turn on broiler.  Line a jelly roll pan with foil (for easy clean up).  Place asparagus across the pan in a single layer.  Drizzle oil over and toss to coat.  Salt lightly and toss again.  Broil. 

You can also grill or pan fry the asparagus if you prefer.  To pan fry, use med or med/high heat and add a LITTLE bit of water for steaming. 

World's Easiest Rolls

This is a recipe I found years ago and is a go to when I need something quick, easy and yummy.  For my family, I usually halve the recipe to make 6 rolls.  Enjoy!! ~Susan :)

The World's Easiest Rolls

2 cups self rising flour
1.5 cups milk
6 Tbsp mayonnaise
2 tsp sugar (From my Mom's recipe.  Yummy, but not necessary.  Sometimes I add it, sometimes I don't.)

Preheat oven to 400.  Grease muffin tins.  Mix all ingredients together (do not overwork).  Pour into tins 2/3 full.  Bake 20 minutes.

Makes 12 rolls.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

My Memory Failed Me.....Again

I have heard a failing memory is a sign of aging. 

So are the white, excuse me, platinum blonde hairs I recently found.

Not sure why, but since finding those natural highlights, I've noticed an alarming trend of forgetfulness.  Coincidence?  I dearly hope so!

Either way, it leads to my current dilemma.  I had an awesome topic to blog about today. The idea popped into my mind about 11:00 last night.  It was such an "A-ha!" thought I almost started blogging about it then.  But, I didn't.  Nor did I write down this incredible topic.  The tragedy?  This morning, I have no clue what I wanted so desperately to write. 

Sad, but true.

I have a lot of sad, but true instances in my life.  Isn't that sad?  It's definitely true.

So, this morning I will amuse myself with some random thoughts.

Have you ever heard of truffle salt?  Until recently (9 months or so ago) I had never heard of this incredible product.  My local grocery store has a "Cooking Connection" where people cook and sample meals, complete with recipe cards, daily.

Here is a stack of the cards I had nearby. 


The chefs who work at my local HEB Cooking Connection are friendly and very helpful.  I often stop by and ask them about something I've tried or for a suggestion.  Scott and Donna are my favorites. 

Anyway, last night I made a copycat version of Outback's Alice Springs Chicken for dinner.  I wanted something other than the usual broccoli or mashed potato side dish.  Off I went to HEB where I saw fresh asparagus and was reminded of a sample I tried one day.  Grilled asparagus with truffle salt. Grabbed a bundle of asparagus and off I went to talk with Scott.

I am now the proud owner of a jar of coarse truffle salt ($12.99 for a 5 oz jar, EEK!) and a grinder.  Instead of grilling it (I desperately want/need a grill pan for my gas range) I broiled it.  Want the recipe?  Okay.  It's very simple.  Line a jelly roll pan with aluminum foil.  Not necessary, but makes for easy peasy clean up.  Lay out the asparagus and drizzle with good quality olive oil.  Toss to coat.  Grind a small amount of truffle salt over the top (a little goes a long way, thank goodness) and broil.  Tasty!!

Sorry I don't have a picture of the asparagus.  Here is a picture of the olive oil and salt I used, in case that's helpful.  :)


Oh my goodness. I just spent several minutes looking at pictures I've taken recently.  Pictures for this blog.  Lovely food pictures.  I even have step by step pictures for a chicken dish I made a couple weeks ago.  Somewhere there is probably a recipe to go along with it.  Knowing me, I combined two Pinterest recipes to make one uniquely my own.  Unfortunately, I have no clue which recipes I combined or where my instructions have disappeared.  So, the pictures have been deleted to trouble me no more.

Another entry into Susan's "Sad, but true" file. 

31 Days of Blogging continues.  My initial reading list started with about 25 blogs I wanted to follow.  After reading for a couple of days, I have trimmed the number to 17 with plans to trim it further.  When I get it to a reasonable number of well written, interesting, helpful blogs, I will share the list. 

Are you reading any of the 31 Days blogs from the enormous list I linked to a few days ago?  Which ones?  What do you like about them? 

Coffee:  My usual half pot is almost gone.  I am trying to cut back, so I am only brewing a half pot each morning.  Some days, I brew a second half pot around lunch.  This is happening less and less.  I am attempting to drink more water.  Wish me luck. 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Living with Intention

I have a confession to make. 

Ready? 

I am a (somewhat) reformed Type A personality.

Are you shocked?

Are you shocked I had to go back and add the (somewhat) to the above statement?  I still have the tendency to go Type A every day, thinking I need to be Wonder Woman.  But, I fight it now.  I like living a slower, more intentional life.  

This transformation didn't happen overnight, let me assure you.  It has taken years.  Literally.  It all started when I had my first son.  Little cracks in the fabric of my Type A.  I didn't always adhere to my schedule, and sometimes, just sometimes, things didn't happen the way I planned.  Five years later, I had four boys age 5 and under and the fabric of my Type A "perfect" life had unravelled.

I was trying desperately to be perfect.  To stick with the routine I set for myself.   To always have a clean house, perfect children, food cooked every day, to basically be Wonder Woman.  I beat myself up about it daily, telling the reflection in the mirror how stupid, ugly and lazy I was.  I worked harder and harder every day and got further behind.  I was miserable and did a good job of living up to the mantra "If Mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy."

Finally, somewhere along the way I got tired of being a failure in my eyes, and I assumed everyone else's.  I gave up trying.  I became a mess.  All because I wanted to do it all.  Now.  Perfectly.  And, I wanted it to stay perfect.  It was a vicious cycle.

Somehow, somewhere along the way, I discovered perfect wasn't necessary. Good enough was enough.  I couldn't be perfect, but I could be good enough.  I was so much more fun when I discovered this.  Slowing down to enjoy the boys and their mess.  It could be cleaned later.  We could even make a game of it and have fun cleaning.  Who knew?

Coffee, food, meals together as a family were so much better enjoyed slowly, with conversation.  Cleaning up can always be done after the meal is over, many hands making the work light.  Roses are meant to be enjoyed.  Stop and smell them.  Pick one.  Put it in a beautiful vase and display it.  Enjoy it! 

One of my teenage dreams was to live in Paris.  Now, as an adult, I simply want to live somewhere with a slower pace of life. One day I realized I will never live abroad.  But, why can't I adapt my life now to a slower pace of living?  I use my calendar to stay on track, planning ahead so I don't have to live the rushed, hurried life I did before.  I make sure to say "No" unless I am certain I want to do it. 

My new attitude has given me time to do the things I truly want to do.  Bible study, writing, reading, and taking care of my home and family.  Cooking from scratch.  Baking yeast breads.  Cookies, cakes, pies from scratch.  Yum.  Exercise. Lunch with my husband.  Travelling to see my son.  Pinterest! 

There are times when Type A crops out and makes me want to rush about to do it all and then some, saying "yes" to every project and committee that comes my way.  But, monthly, weekly and daily planning keeps me on track, making sure I stay on my slower schedule.

I now enjoy my days and how I choose to live them.  Each activity has purpose.  Everything I do is intentional.  I find enjoyment in having a clean home and knowing I am blessing my family.  Having time to devote to my daily chores and doing them correctly instead of rushing thru them because I'm behind is an incredible feeling.  One I am happy I have discovered.  It's a feeling I guard closely.  A way of life I embrace joyfully. 

Living life intentionally.  That's me.  How about you?  How are you living?  Does it give you pleasure?  Please note, I have nothing against Type A personalities.  Was one myself.  While part of the working world, it was quite beneficial and brought me joy.  I married one. Then, when I became a Mom, for some reason it stopped bringing me joy, so I stopped.  Simple as that. Well, maybe not that simple...as I said, it took years to reform.



Coffee?  Yes, a full pot.  I needed it today.

Monday, October 1, 2012

October...Are You Ready?

The best laid plans of mice and men
Often go astray.
And leave us naught
But grief and pain
For promised joy.

Yes, that is a perfect description of how I feel about blogging and my intentions to do it often. And, then getting sick for over a week, allergies, a virus and a sinus infection....add a migrane AND a tension headache along with the nasty sinus headache.  It was horrific. Seriously.

Even though I am on the mend, the only reason I am upright and civil is thanks to 1000 mg acetaminophen every 4 hours.  Every.  Four.  Hours. 

But, onto better topics.  Otherwise I will begin to regale you with minute details of my illness.  It wasn't fun or pretty.  Thus, we had best move on quickly.

My Pinterest addiction is continuing and possibly increasing.  I love the recipes.  Something NEW to cook!  Yahoo!!!!!  (yelled in my best cowgirl imitation)  Plus all the decorating ideas, holidays ideas, crafts, DIY projects, party ideas, funny quotes, inspirational sayings...  Oh my.  I lose myself for hours if I don't set a timer when I "take a quick peek"...   

Yesterday (or was it Saturday) I stumbled across a new idea on Pinterest.  "31 Days of Blogging about a certain topic."  There is a Pinner who coordinates this project each year and links everyone's blogs on her blog (and on her pinterest board).  Then you can skim thru and find the ones you are interested in reading.  I have a ton of them bookmarked to read this month. As I find favorites, I will share them on my "Blogs I Read" board. :)

Until then, this is where you can find the list:  http://www.thenester.com/2012/09/31-dayers-2012.html

I am reading her 31 Day blog too.  It's called "Home.  On Purpose."  The other blogs I plan to read also center around the home.  It's an area I am concentrating on at the moment.  My home.  Decorating, organizing, cleaning, etc.  A lot of the blogs are "how to do it" blogs that also deal with how we feel about our homes.  And how our homes feel to others. 

As I go along on this journey during the month of October, I will share with you the changes it has made in me and my home. 

I'm glad to say before seeing this 31 day blog challenge, I told my hubby I am ready to get back to putting our home together.  It's time to finish decorating and "moving in".  The garage is still full of yet to be unpacked boxes.  Plus, there are still areas to be dealt with where I have unpacked but left everything unorganized and cluttered.

Today, finally, I purchased a small bookcase to put in the kitchen by my worktable/writing desk.  All the cookbooks, binders, and papers littering the top of the table and making my entire area look completely cluttered are now neatly put away.  It looks so much better!!!

Sorry, no before and after pictures tonight.  But, maybe soon as there are more changes to come in there.

Coffee:  Yes, lots.  Lots and lots and lots.  :)

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Older and Wiser?

Several years ago, I promised myself I would not fight the aging process. 

Don't get me wrong.  I'm going to try to look and be my best at every age.  But, I'm not planning to try to look 21 when I obviously am not.  My intention is to age gracefully, to dress and act appropriately for my age and stage of life. 

So far, so good.  Turning 30 didn't phase me.  It was nice to not be in my 20s anymore. I was a little older and a little wiser.  I had some life experience and I thought I knew what was important.

By the time my 40s rolled around, I was good with getting older.  If I thought I had it together at 30, then 40 was even better.  After all, 40 is the new 20, according to some magazines.  I don't subscribe to them, but I do read headlines in the grocery store check out line.  At 40(something), I really am wiser.  I know what's important in my life.  And, in my opinion, being in my 40s is awesome.

I have my act together.  I love my age.  I love getting older and wiser.

At least, I did.

Until Sunday. 

Sunday, September 9, 2012, THE DAY things came crashing down around me. I was getting ready for church, my coffee at hand, make up spread out and the curling iron heating.  I pinned my hair back so I could begin the beautification process. 

That's when I saw it.  A white hair.  I couldn't believe it.  I leaned closer.  "It's just blonde," I told myself as   I carefully separated it from the strawberry blonde hair surrounding it. 

Wrong. It was white. 

WHAT???!!!!

About a half inch away..... gasp..... is another one!!! 

At that point, I stopped looking.  Instead, I ran into the living room, still holding the offending white hair, and demanded my hubby "look at what I just found."  He diplomatically said "All I see is red."  Nice guy, isn't he?

After moaning and groaning and acting as if the world was going to end, I returned to the bathroom to carefully avoid looking closely at my hair as I finished preparing for church.   

Then, this morning, I decided to curl my hair in an attempt to tame the frizzies.  Stupid humidity.  After 200 I stopped counting.  No, I didn't REALLY count them, but as I curled my hair, I saw more and more strands of white. 

White, not gray.  At least, someday, far, far, FAIR in the future I will be a white haired old lady.  Until then, I am distressed about the thought of losing my red, no, make that strawberry blonde hair.  I just recently came to terms with my natural color.  And, now this??  *Insert much moaning and groaning here.*

Lightbulb moment!!

I am living the dream. My hair is going platinum blonde.  Whew.  No worries.  Blondes have more fun, right??  Right?????  

Now, to find a GOOD hairdresser in town. I really don't want to have to make the trip to Corpus Christi to have my hair done by the one lady who always made my hair look FABULOUS.   I am not joking....  I begged hubby to let me drive down on Monday to find her. 

This is how me today, platinum, strawberry blonde, freckles, contacts and all.....



Hard to see those very platinum blonde follicles, but trust me, they are there.  Trying to make me look wiser than my years.  I think it's a conspiracy.  My laugh lines were lonely and invited them over.... 

Coffee:  Yes, but not nearly enough.  Obviously. 

Writing: Only this blog post today.  Don't you wish I had worked on my book instead?? 

Pinterest is Evil....but Oh, So Yummy!

I have been busy the past few days.  Busy in front of the computer.  Pinterest is sucking the hours out of my days!  Seriously!!  I think I may in need of an intervention.  But, before you hold one for me, may I please try all the recipes I've pinned, organize my house, clean everything with natural ingredients, sew a ton of projects and make presents for everyone I know??  

Yes, Pinterest is addicting.  But, astonishingly, my hubby who generally despises it when I spend tons of time on the computer is in favor of my time spent on this site.  Could it have something to do with the wonderful food I've been making lately?  Hmmmm, could be. 

I am keeping up with the meals I cook for a while to keep from repeating things too often.  There's nothing worse than cooking the same meals over and over and over again.  Unless it's eating the same meals repeatedly.  Yes, it's a bit nerdy of me to do this.  But, I am a bit nerdy.  Over the years, I've learned to embrace my inner nerd. 

This is what our meals have been recently:

Sep 5 - Mexican buffet for Football Day - queso dip, chicken flautas, spanish rice. 
Sep 6 - Pork Tenderloin - and for some reason, I neglected to write down the sides.  Weird.
Sep 7 - Chicken Fried Steak, Mashed Potatoes, Gravy and Cornbread Muffins
Sep 8 - Mexican Lasagna, Papas con Chiles, Refried Beans
Sep 9 - Tilapia, Old Fashioned Potato Cakes, Broccoli and Red Lobster Biscuits
Sep 10 - Chicken and Waffles, Gravy, Syrup and Broccoli
Sep 11 - Spaghetti with Meat Sauce, Meatballs, Broccoli and Garlic Cheese Bread
Sep 12 - Monterey Chicken, Lemon and Thyme Mushrooms, Corn, Asiago Bread and "Poke" Cake

Wanna see some of these delectable dishes? 

This was today's breakfast.
Easy Cheesy Bacon Pull Aparts.
Oh, so yummy.

MMMMmmmmm....
Old Fashioned Potato Cakes.
I made these with a combo of left over mashed potatoes and left over Papas con Chiles.
Delish to the maximum.
Will make again and again and again.
Just not too soon.

Red Lobster Cheddar Bay Biscuits
from Top Secret Recipes site.
Superb.
Simply superb.

Tilapia.
I forget the exact name.
But, it's on my Fish/Seafood - Favorites board on Pinterest.
Very tasty.


Tomorrow morning I am making another Pinterest inspired breakfast for the boys.  Store bought cinnamon rolls from a can, placed in the waffle iron and cooked.  Cinnamon roll waffles.  Can you say YUM?? 

In the crockpot now is a lovely pork tenderloin with a bunch of other ingredients, cooking very slowly.  Tomorrow, it will be pulled pork for us to make sandwiches for dinner.  I am salivating already.  If you want the recipe, I hate to admit, I don't have one.  I read lots of them on AllRecipes.com and then take the best ideas from the comments and use the ingredients I like/have and make up my own recipe.  Every time.  You'd think by now I would have developed a recipe of my own.  But, no.  Not me.  That would be too easy.  Anyway, this will be a North Carolina type pulled pork for tomorrow. 

Most of these recipes can be found on my Pinterest boards. This link   http://pinterest.com/susansunshine/  should take you to my boards.  If you don't see the recipe you want, let me know and I will post it for you.  If I have one, that is!

Writing:  I actually managed to write today!!!  First time since last week.  I didn't write an entire chapter, but I did write over 1200 words in an hour.  The words were flowing.  Love it when that happens.

Coffee:  The usual here at home.  Then, a cup of Joe's Choice at Books A Milliion. Yum. 


Friday, September 7, 2012

Natural or Not?

Spring and Fall are my favorite times of the year.  Except for allergies, that is. 

Allergies. 

Yuck.

The sniffling, sneezing, watery eyes, itchy nose and ears, and sore throat don't bother me.  Well, they DO, but I can live with it.  After all, everyone else is dealing with it too. You see each other in the aisle at the grocery store, nod and say "you too?" Soon after you hear a loud sneeze followed by "Bless you!" in the next aisle.  They have allergies too. 

No, none of that phases me for long.  What bothers me are the horrible headaches, the kind that are *this close* to being migraines.  The kind that keep me down and out for days on end.  The ones that make me want to die.  Now.  Today.  No, yesterday, before I felt this bad. 

Add to that, the loopy feeling from the allergy medicines.  OTC and/or prescription allergy medicines. Both of them make me feel worse.  They help my allergy symptoms for a little while, but not long enough.  An hour or more before it's time to take another, the effectiveness starts wearing off.  Then, after taking another, it takes an additional hour to kick in. That's two or more hours every so often that I feel worse than if I take NOTHING.  Ibuprofen, acetomenophen, aspirin, none of these completely work.  They take the edge off the ache, but it's still there.  Nagging.  Making me grumpy.  And mean.  And nasty.  I don't like being around me when I act like that. 

This past Spring Break, while in Corpus Christi visiting with a friend, I heard about oil pulling.  It sounded interesting. And, since nothing else was working, I tried it.  Amazingly, it helped.  More than the conventional meds and without making me loopy.  I've been doing it ever since. 

Now fall allergy season is at it's peak.  I am continuing oil pullling.   Unfortunately, a few allergy symptoms remain.  The worst being headaches.  They aren't as bad as previous years.  But, they are still there and bad enough for me to go searching for additional natural remedies to alleviate my aches and pains.

Vicks VapoRub has long been a go to for me when congested.  I usually put some on my feet at night and wear socks to bed.  Something about it being on your feet really helps. (I should say "Thanks!!" to my mother in law.  She told me this trick when my boys were little.  It helped.) 

The past two nights, I forgot to do it and have woken up with horrible headaches.  Today, before walking, I massaged some into my feet.  Oh my goodness!  I will be doing this every day!  As I was walking, my sinuses opened up.  My head cleared.  The headache faded away and I felt GREAT!  It has lasted for several hours. 

Thanks to my wonderful Facebook friends, I have a couple of new things to try. 

Raw, local honey to help me basically vaccinate myself against the local allergens.  I like this idea.  It's basically a tasty way to have an allergy shot.  Minus the shot.  No needles?  Nice! 

The other is cayenne pepper.  Still figuring this one out, but it sounds interesting.  More research is necessary, but the idea is great.  Once I figure it out, I'm sure I will try this too.  A little cayenne in some V8.  Sounds like a yummy appetizer, right?

So, what about you?  Do you take conventional allergy meds?  Do you try the natural remedies?  Any of these?  Different ones?  What are your experiences, good and bad?  I need real information from real people.  Help a sister out! 

Coffee:  Why yes, and with honey to sweeten my last cup.  Different.  Very different.  Not sure I was thrilled with my coffee tasting like honey.  But.....

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Football Food and Counting Calories

YES!!!!  It is that time of year again.  What time?  FOOTBALL time!!  And, football viewing at my house means making yummy delicious food to eat while watching.  Or before watching.  Or after.  Or all the above! 

We have already established that I love food.  Now, you can add to it the fact that I also love football.  Watching, not playing.  Let me be clear.  I. Am. Not. Athletic.  But, I am a great spectator. 

High school football started for us last Friday with my son's high school team winning, my high school team winning, The Tide (hubby's favorite SEC team) winning, The Volunteers (my favorite SEC team) winning, and The UNA Lions (our university where hubby and I met) winning.  I just realized I have no idea if hubby's high school team won.  Oh my.  Onward....

Last night, the NFL season started with America's Team, the Dallas Cowboys defeating the Giants, last year's Superbowl Champions, on their own field.  Wow.  This is the first time the reigning Champions starting the season off on their home field has lost in the 9 years of this "tradition." That's a free fact, just in case you are into football trivia. 

In honor of the Cowboys playing, I decided to make a Tex-Mex style meal.  Our menu consisted of a queso dip from my cousin's recipe box, lazy day refried beans, even lazier spanish rice, a Pinterest inspired chicken roll up, and a Pinterest apple pie dessert. 

Let me just say, this was one fantastic meal.  Thumbs up all around. 

The queso dip recipe is my cousin's, so I'm not posting it without permission. But, it was the best queso recipe I've ever had.  It will forever be my "go to" recipe. 

The Refried Beans.  I prefer to make them from dried pintos cooked for hours in the crockpot and then mashed and refried.  But, I didn't plan ahead.  So, I used canned beans and followed this recipe from Allrecipes.com.  Here is the link. http://allrecipes.com/recipe/rush-hour-refried-beans/detail.aspx?event8=1&prop24=SR_Title&e11=refried%20beans&e8=Quick%20Search&event10=1&e7=Home%20Page   It's really good.  I doubled the recipe. The bacon grease is key to this tasting absolutely fantastic.  Oh, and make sure you cook the onion until soft, tender and translucent.  Add the garlic just before the onion is done. 

The Spanish Rice.  It was good, but it made a LOT of rice.  We have a ton of it left over.  Now I have to figure out a recipe to throw the rice into so I don't have to toss it out.  Anyway, it was super easy.  It was water, tomato sauce, minute rice, a can of beans and carrots and a packet of seasoning from the grocery store.  Boil, stir, sit, fluff.  Done.  Tasty, but lazy. 

The Pinterest Inspired Chicken Roll-ups.  Ah....  The hit of the night.  Two thumbs up from everyone.  This is the recipe that inspired my changes.      http://mommyimhungry.blogspot.com/2011/03/chicken-bacon-and-cream-cheese-mini.html  It looked delicious, but time intensive with cutting the small circles and frying.  Plus, my family isn't a huge cream cheese fan.  At first, I considered making the recipe as is, with the exception of filling whole tortillas, rolling them and frying.  Then, I read all the comments and was inspired by a comment suggesting baking them to make them lower in fat/calories.  Considering my families preferences, I decided to change the cream cheese for shredded cheddar cheese. 

So, in the end, I  cooked 7 slices of bacon, chopping them when cool.  Added it to the chicken left over from Chicken Tacos the night before. Tossed in a handful or two of cheese and mixed.   Then, I spread the mixture from the middle to close to the edge on one half the tortilla, rolled it up and put it seam side down on a foil lined jelly roll pan.  Repeated until I ran out of chicken.  Melted a couple TBSP of butter and brushed across the tortillas to help it brown and crisp up in the oven.  Baked at 400 for about 20 minutes. 

To serve with it, I made a dipping sauce consisting of sour cream (about 6 oz, it was all I had), a scant 1/4 cup of salsa, most of a 100 calorie pack of Wholly Guacamole, a squeeze of lemon juice and lime juice and a sprinkle of salt.  Mixed it up and let it sit in the refrigerator until dinner time so the flavors could blend. 

And, to finish off the meal, I made this recipe.  http://cornfedmomma.blogspot.com/2011/04/apple-enchiladas.html   I made it almost exactly as written.  I didn't put the cinnamon over the apple pie filling.  Instead, adding it to the sauce mixture.  Served with vanilla ice cream.  It was divine.  Will be making this a lot.  In fact, it will be going into my "Favorite Recipes" board on Pinterest so everyone will know it's a GOOD recipe.  :)

Here is a picture of it after soaking, but before I baked it.  I was so excited, I forgot to take pictures afterwards.  Oops. 


I should add, I had a lot of calories last night, but planned ahead for them.  Using MyFitnessPal, I log every single bite I eat all day to help me stay honest with my calories and food choices.  Makes it easier to turn down that candy bar or bag of chips when you know you have to log it and make your fat grams, calories and sugars go thru the roof....  To balance the 600+ calories, I made low calorie, protein rich choices earlier in the day.  And, I made sure I walked yesterday morning and this morning again. 

Lots of coffee has been consumed today.  Community Coffee Hotel Blend, of course.  I am beginning to think of it as my "house blend".  Everyone should have one, don't you think?

Monday, September 3, 2012

MAD Monday

MAD Monday.

Sounds like something bad, doesn't it?  As if all the anger and angst from the weekend ending have boiled over and created mayhem.  But, no.  Not this "MAD Monday". 

What in the world am I talking about?  If you are a listener to KLOVE radio, you already know that MAD Monday stands for "Make A Difference Monday." Chances are, you have participated in it at least once.  Paying it forward, giving someone that good feeling, an unexpected smile, on anyday, but especially on a Monday. 

I have heard about it for quite a while, but never thought about doing it.  I'm usually in a rush and self absorbed.  Quite honestly, all I am thinking about on most Monday mornings is how soon can I get my coffee and how quickly can everyone get to where they need to be so I can have a little peace and quiet. 

Wow... I think of myself as a nice person, usually, but the above paragraph tells a different story.  I may need to work on that a bit. 

Anyway, a couple weeks ago, on a bright and early Monday morning, I was taking Patrick to Band Camp.  We woke up late and were in a rush.  In lieu of breakfast, Patrick requested a trip through the local Starbucks drive through.  This is my kind of request.  I immediately agreed.  The drive through line was long, but the line inside was longer so we decided up on the drive through.

When we pulled up to the window, the barista was beaming.  She informed us that the car ahead of us had paid for our coffee and pastries.  Wow.  And, we were listening to KLOVE on the radio.  Patrick and I looked at each other and grinned.  "Make A Difference Monday!" I exclaimed.  I had always wondered what it felt like.  Now I knew.  It was the ultimate warm, fuzzy feeling.  My heart was overflowing with goodwill and happiness.  Joy abounded. 

I chatted with the barista for a few minutes about how awesome it felt...and then I handed her my card and said, "Why wait to pay it forward?  I want to pay for the car behind me."  Another huge beaming smile.  Especially when she looked at the total of his order.  It was within pennies of my own order. 

I don't know how the teenager behind me (whom I suspect was on his way to Band Camp also) felt when he found out his order had been paid for, but I know that the feeling I felt upon paying it forward was even better than the feeling of finding out someone had paid for mine. 

Has this ever happened to you?  How did you feel?  Have you paid for a strangers meal, coffee, etc?  What did that do to your heart?  All I know is, I am looking for another opportunity to pass along the blessing to another person.  Not only to bless them, but to bless me too.  Giving truly is better than receiving. 

Try it.  The world will be a better place, one coffee at a time. 

Written under the influence of Community Coffee Hotel Blend.  Try it too.  :)

Daily Dinner Party!

I love food.


I do. I really, really do.

I love cooking it. I love eating it. And, here comes my "big confession", I love watching tv shows about food. Yes, Food Network is one of my favorite channels on tv. Cooking Channel comes in a close second.

So, tonight I am watching cooking shows I have DVRed and wondering if I am alone in my food television addiction. Do you emulate the cooks on tv? Do you try their recipes? Do you get inspiration from them? Do you want to have your own cooking show after you have cooked an excellent meal and gotten rave reviews? Do you sometimes think "I should write a cookbook that real people can use?" Am I the only person who can say a resounding "YES!" to all the above?

I watch an eclectic mix of cooking shows. Recently I discovered "French Food at Home with Laura Calder." If you haven't caught this show, find it. DVR it. Watch it. I haven't tried any of her recipes, yet. But, her show is so much fun to watch. Her laid back approach to food and entertaining is so relaxing. The faces she makes and the way she expresses herself are so refreshing. I also love that she wears a dress in the kitchen. I do that too! I am not alone. Maybe I am more "French" than I thought. :)

What else do I enjoy watching? Paula Deen. Any Paula show. Bring on the butter! And Mayo. And, cheese. And, while you are at it, bring on her sons. I enjoy their shows too. "Not My Mama's Meals" is a favorite as he lghtens classic Paula recipes. Of course, I have been doing the same thing for years. But it's nice to see the numbers on the changes. Very interesting. I hope both the boys shows stay on the air for a long time.

Italian food is a favorite, so obviously I watch Giada. Funny, I haven't made many of her recipes. The ones I have made were excellent. I think the best one is a tomato soup recipe. We love it with grilled cheese sandwiches in the fall and winter. Patrick asked for it last weekend, but I didn't make it. Maybe soon.

Rachel Ray is another favorite to watch. She has such a fun show! And, her recipes are so easy to make and quite "delish". I love the way she gives tips on how to modify the recipes to fit what your family likes and what you have in your fridge.

Another one I watch, but rarely make any of her recipes, is the Barefoot Contessa. But, her technique is so.... je ne sais quais. (I don't think I spelled that correctly. French class was a LONG time ago.) Whatever. I can't put my finger on it, but I love the way she explains things. I find myself using her techniques if not her recipes.

Several others are on my list to catch if they are making something interesting. Or, if I'm in the mood for their personalities. Guy Fieri, Sunny Anderson, the Neelys, and the 5 ingredient Fix girl, what is her name?? Guy is so much fun to watch. I've made several of his recipes with great success. Same with the Neely's.

OH...can't forget Semi Homemade. I have made several of Sandra's recipes with great success. She makes me laugh too. I'm not sure why, but she does.

Who do you watch? Why? Do you try their recipes? Do you use their techniques?

How do you view food? Do you live to eat or eat to live? Do you feel food is an experience to savor and enjoy? Do you use it as a way to gather with friends and family? Is it a way to celebrate? To grieve? To heal and comfort? All the above?

These questions make me think about how I think and feel about food. Sometimes, it's utilitarian. I need to eat to live. Therefore I eat. But, I believe, more and more, I as I grow older and wiser, I consider our family meals as an experience. You know, when I "feel like Italian food" I want it to be Italian - as authentic as I can get it. I want to speak Italian as I cook and eat it. I can't, but I want to do so. I want the food to be fresh and satisfying. I want to converse with my family and friends as I savor each and every bite, from the salad with creamy homemade dressing all the way through to the dessert and coffee.

Too bad my teen boys don't have the same need to savor as they devour the meal and rush away to whatever activity is next, whether it be a band practice, homework, tv or a video game. At least my hubby enjoys a good meal and conversation with me.

It is still hot in TX, but I am eagerly awaiting cooler temperatures so we can eat al fresco on our new patio dining set. Thanks to the recent rain our backyard is a wonderland of greenery and wildflowers. It's also why my allergies are in high gear, but I am not going to let that fact diminish my enjoyment of nature.

Bon appetit ma amis!!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Update X 7

I blinked and suddenly it is two weeks later, the kids are back in school and college football season is upon us.  Wow...  A lot happens when you blink. 

So, to update you on my very normal, often boring, life.  

Update #1:  It works. You know, that "exercise" thing everyone talks about.  Well, it works.  Proof?  My size 12s are loose.  Two weeks ago they were a little tight.  No longer!  I've managed to lose 6 pounds since I began walking.  I hate exercising, but taking my loving doggie for a morning walk doesn't seem like exercise.

Going to the Y with Matthew, my second son, does seem like it.  I prefer walking with Sam.  But, in the interest of my health and mental well being, I am doing both.  Just started back at the Y a couple days ago.  We made it one day so far.  Maybe this week will be better.

Update #2:  School is back in session.  The two youngest are getting back into their routine as am I.  I think I dislike "Back to School" more than the kids.  I hate getting up early.  Nuff said!

Update #3:  Being a Band Mom is awesome.  Our high school had their first game Friday night and won.  34-7.  It was awesome.  And, the half time show?  Very nice!  My son did a great job!  It was awesome to watch him having so much fun.  The band sounded great.  Really great.  No, I'm not prejudiced.  They are good. 

Update #4:  I worked on my book this week! Only one day, but for someone who hasn't written since MAY, that's pretty good.  It may take a while to get back into the habit again.  But, I am working on it. 

Update #5:  My allergies are in high gear.  Same time last year, I asked for a referral to an allergist.  While I am not feeling well, I am not "that sick" this year.  WHEW.  Oil pulling is definitely helping.  Having a vaporizer in my room at night helps too.  As does Vicks Vapo-Rub after a hot shower.  Thinking of trying a detox bath with epsom salts and baking powder.  When I feel bad, I am willing to try almost anything to feel better.  Well, within reason.

Update #6:  It's FOOTBALL SEASON!!!  My high school team won.  My favorite SEC team (Tennessee Volunteers, baby!) won.  My son's high school won.  And, tonight, Alabama (hubby's favorite SEC team) is ahead at half time.  If my, oops "our" - hubby and I met while students there - college team, The University of North Alabama, wins tomorrow, it will be a perfect football weekend.  I will think about professional football later.  Like Wednesday, when I will be making another football buffet for dinner.

Speaking of football buffet, I made my first one of the fall tonight.  My youngest said the sweetest thing.  As he was going to refill his plate again - I thought he was finished, but he was going for thirds - he says very seriously "Mom, you should open a restaurant."  Isn't that awesome? 

What did I make?  The buffet consisted of my version of Bold Chex Mix, Fried Cheese Sticks, Mock Chick-fil-a nuggets, Mini Pizzas, and Chips and Dip.  The dip was made from cream cheese, bacon, a little chopped onion and some Roasted Red Pepper and Onion sauce from HEB - forgot the brand name.  Chocolate chip cookies for dessert.  Yum-O!!  I have pictures....

Don't these look scrumptious?  If you make them, flatten the dough as thin as you possibly can.
Otherwise, you have more crust than anything else. 
The good news is, it's a tasty crust.
The recipe is on my Pinterest "Football Foods" board.   

Chex Mix. 
I use an entire stick of margarine and add extra spices to up the flavor factor.
It's just better.

They look like the "real thing" right?
The family consensus was they aren't "just like" the fast food ones, but they are good.
I will make them again, but next time I will use different spices.
The recipe called for flour, powdered sugar, salt and pepper in the breading.
Next time, I will use a "House Blend" that has salt, pepper and garlic in it. 
I think that will give it the extra something that it needs to go from good to "awesome!"
This recipe is also on my Pinterest "Football Food" board.

Update #7:  The kids and I have been out and about and we have discovered this local eatery.  Actually, we have been driving past it for a year and only recently stopped in to sample their wares.  Oh, my goodness.  Why did we wait so long?  This is now one of our favorite places. 

I know. 
Strange name. 
No clue why.  Must ask....
But, talk about tasty burgers!!! 
Their fries are delish too. 

This is their Junior Burger, all the way, with cheese and bacon added.
Quite tasty. 
I helped Matthew with his fries. 
He didn't need ALL of them, right? 


That's it from my corner of the world for today.  I had ideas about special things to write...and totally forgot all of them.  Maybe next time.  And, hopefully, next time won't be two weeks or more away. 

Coffee:  Yes, I had some today.  Community Coffee Hotel Blend.  My "go to" daily coffee. This post, however, was written under the influence of Dr Pepper.  Another Waco original.  I love this place. 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

It's a 4X2 letter word, no doubt about it!

Exercise. Yes, exercise.  8 letters = 4 x 2.  Two four letter words combined into one.  Exer and size. 

Which brings me to why I am doing the dreaded deplored exercising:  my increasing size.  *sigh*

Since moving to Waco, I feel like I Texas sized. Slowly, the pounds have added up to the point that this summer, I can't wear any of my cute summer clothes.  The ones I do wear are being stretched to their limit.  I had to buy a couple new things just to feel comfortable.  And, the necessary size did not make me happy.

Shall I be honest?  Last year I comfortably wore size 8.  This year, I need size 12.  WHAT? 

HOW?  Simple, my activity level dropped when I stopped walking the dogs. My eating habits haven't changed. Plus, I know it is wrong, but I am hoping my thyroid medication needs to be changed (should hear back from the doctor by tomorrow about this). And, I haven't taken my vitamins the way I should this past year which could be an additional factor.

The solution:  Community!  Accountability!!  At the beginning of the summer, I joined a "10x10 challenge" in an attempt to lose 10 pounds in 10 weeks.  Totally doable.  Or, so I thought.  I started logging all food intake averaging about 1100 calories per day.  I started taking my vitamins again on a much more regular basis.  I did NOT start exercising at this point.  Over the 10 weeks I lost, drumroll please, 1 pound. 

Not a smashing success by any means.  But, I did get back into previous good habits which had helped keep the weight off.  And, it showed me the regain wasn't totally food related.  I needed to begin exercising again. 

The challenge ended, but not my determination to lose the weight. I started walking every morning (except Sunday) and at night if I can get a family member to walk with me.  It's VERY dark at night in my neighborhood, so even though it is safe here, I want company.  The weight is slowly dropping and the size 12s are slightly loose.  Steps in the right direction.

Speaking of steps, Saturday I walked on this lovely trail.
It's part of the River Trail at Cameron Park.  Lovely trail.  Lovely morning walk. I probably won't be back.  I ended up walking over 3.5 miles that morning.  Ouch. Was not prepared for that.  

My plans for losing weight also include lots of lovely food, some of it purchased at the local Farmers Market.  Like this:
These peaches and veggies cost a grand total of $19.
The best news is they are all locally grown, were picked ripe and fresh the day prior and are lasting in my refrigerator, which is something they NEVER do when I buy at the local grocery store.

This is incredible salsa, sold by the Texas Cheese House. When I HAVE to have a snack, a couple tablespoons of this and a few tortilla chips are a great snack.  Just not too late at night.  :)

We all know if there is coffee nearby I am going to try it.  And, the local Farmers Market did not disappoint.  Dichotomy, set to open this fall, is there every weekend making coffees, lattes, espressos, etc.  They are knowledgable, friendly, have great customer service and brew a fabulous cup of coffee.  This is their booth.
  Here they are working on my coffee.


This is my coffee after I added raw sugar and cream.  Yummy.
And, somehow, they got my order mixed up and I ended up with a free latte.

Aren't the swirls lovely?


Actually, even though the coffee was exceptional, I have to say, I liked the latte even better.  It was rich, creamy and positively delightful. I will get another my next trip. 

I plan to check out their competition and see who has the better cup of coffee and/or latte.  There were also several booths selling crepes, burritos, hamburgers and much more. Might have to sample their wares also. With all that coffee, I need some food.  Right?  Right! :)  Afterwards, I may be heading to the park to walk off all the calories!  Another 3.5 miles, here I come.  *sigh*

Monday, July 30, 2012

And So It Begins - Again

I am sad.

Why?

Because, as of this morning, sleeping in is now a thing of the past. 

Please note, I am not saying I am sad because my baby, my youngest, the last in the line of our off spring is beginning high school and Marching Band Camp begins today.  Nope.  Not at all.  I am sad because I have to get up at 6:00 am to cook breakfast and drive him to school.  I miss sleeping in.  I really do. *sigh*

However, I am working hard to be positive about this.  Really.  I am sipping my second huge cup of coffee.  The house is blissfully quiet as the two remaining offspring are sleeping and hubby just left to go to the park to (ICK) exercise.

Side note:  Can we declare "exercise" a "four letter word??"  Pretty please? Yes, I'm saying this because I desperately need to haul my backside to the Y and get back on the treadmill and/or elliptical again and again and again.  WAH!!!!

Back to being positive.  Or the attempt thereof.  Getting up early has some advantages.  Sort of.  In the land of extreme heat, aka Texas, it is slightly cooler in the early hours.  It was a mere 78 when we left the house.  Not bad.  And, when you consider the forecast is 102 this afternoon, it seems positively chilly!  I do not envy my son and all the other kids being out in the heat all day.  They are required to have water bottles so they stay hydrated.  Safety is number 1!

Son #4 didn't give me a chance to snap a pic this morning.  But, I do have this one from yesterday.



 We bought new shoes for camp and for their casual uniform.  Early games will be played wearing khaki shorts, band t-shirts and running shoes. Sounds much cooler and safer than wearing the complete uniform.

Now, for a quick update since April. 

In early June, our second son graduated high school.  He now has a part time job at McDonalds.  Not glamorous, but it's a job.  He's still waiting to go to bootcamp.  No definite date yet as we are waiting for his orders/job.  I am okay with this.  The waiting, I mean.  It's that much longer he will be home. :)

During May and June we looked for a new place to rent.  It wasn't until mid June that we found one.  WHEW!  Our lease ended on July 31, so we had to find a place and move. 

A few days after #2 graduated from high school, our eldest graduated Air Force Tech School as a Distinguished Graduate. So proud.  So very proud!!  I was there for it with son #3.  We helped him move from MS to SC.  It was quite a week.  Lots of driving, eating out and shopping.  I discovered I do not want to spend the night in Meridian, Mississippi again.  Ever.  Don't ask me about it. I am trying to forget the experience.

After I got back from SC, I was relaxing and watching Food Network.  That channel is evil. I know this because it has caused me to gain weight.  Just putting that out there.  Call it my public service announcement for the day. 

Anyway, Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman, made an incredible cake for her husband's birthday.  It was so mind boggling, I had to show it to my hubby who suggested I make this culinary masterpiece.  So, I did.




Go to FoodNetwork.com and find this recipe.  I think it's called Ladd's Birthday Cake or something similar.  It is HUGE.  She made four layers.  I halved the recipe for us.  Incredible.  One of our new favorite chocolate cake recipes.  Simply delicious.  Beware overbeating the frosting.  Don't ask....

Then, vacation.  Or what we call vacation.  Being a former military family, our vacations have been home to see family.  Now that we are technically civilians again, but living far away from home, we still vacation to visit family.  It was a wonderful time together with both families.

Once we returned, we started moving to the new house.  The first few days we moved all the little things one trip at a time in the van.  As we unloaded, we unpacked.  By the end of the week, we were eating from paper plates and/or eating out most meals. 

Last Monday, we rented a truck and moved the furniture over.  Since we had all the little stuff here and mostly unpacked, it was a fairly quick day.  All that remained was to clean the old place, have the carpets cleaned and turn in the keys.  Oh, and continue to unpack and decorate here. 

We have tons of boxes to unpack.  Lack of storage here is presenting a problem.  I am thinking plastic storage bins in the garage for things we want to keep but can't store inside.   Eh, it will work.  At this point, I am all about what will work. 

OH...and yesterday was my birthday!  I am now 45.  Or, as I like to say, 25 with 20 years experience.  :)  It's all about attitude, right?  Got some great presents.  This is what my youngest gave me.  Isn't it pretty? 



Hope you enjoyed this very long catch up. Pour yourself another cup of coffee.  I believe I will.  Btw, it's Community Coffee Hotel Blend with a splash of real half and half and sweetener.  :)