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. 


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.

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.
Simply superb.

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 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  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. 



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  Here is the link.   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.  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.   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.