Category: What is That?


As many of you know, I am working on a battle against weight.

I used to weigh 225 pounds. I have been told that being tall makes that weight look less than it is. But let’s face it, a 48 inch waist is still a 48 inch waist. No amount of height is going to make that waist look any smaller than it really is.

I am also dealing with the beginnings of arthritis which really sucks some days. My energy gets zapped and before I know it, I am taking a two hour nap and not the 20 minute nap I was hoping to do instead. I get those flares of a small temp with no reason for it, especially in the winter time. Fatigue is not my friend and I try to work around it all of the time.

In the last few years, I have taken off a lot of weight and 7 inches around the middle. Those seven inches were hard won as I have a deep and abiding love for food. I love trying new recipes, I love things with fat and sugar. If it is deep fried, well, I am in heaven. But research has told me those things are not good for me so I have learned to cut back.

Soda is once a week, cookies and candy are eaten less often. I try to stick to water and ice tea for drinks while snacking on popcorn a little more often.

But still, I could lose about 10 more pounds. The diet and exercise has been good but I need a little extra push. So I thought I would take a gander at the Paleo diet. Some people call it the Caveman diet.

Paleoista by Nell StephensonI picked up Paleoista  by Nell Stephenson. Look at that cover, she looks hip and happy with legs way too long for her body. But that is beside the point.

Then I began reading the book. I was OK with giving up processed food. I mean, I know how to make sauces and such, I shouldn’t rely on noodles from a bag or sauce from a jar.

Eating more fresh fruit and vegetables actually sound like a good idea to me. That is how I have lost a lot of my weight by incorporating fresh or frozen veggies and fruits in the diet. Eating more protein seemed like a good idea as well.

Then I got to the part that said no grains because people in the paleo era were nomadic, therefore they did not have time to plant and wait for grains to grow. That meant no bread, no pasta, no donuts, no cereal, no cake.

After that I go to the part that said no legumes because that would have taken too much time to grow before the group had to pick up and leave again. So no refried beans, no white kidney beans in many of my soups, no beans in the chili or any number of dishes.

But the worst came when she said no dairy because traveling with a cow or goat would not have happened. Which means no milk, cheese, ice cream, sour cream, cottage cheese, or cream cheese.

All credibility was lost when the author made the statement that these three groups are not really food groups and therefore you are not missing out on anything.

Really?

I have learned the hard way that wheat bread – not white bread- is the way to control my sugars from doing the big surge. I have learned that Barilla’s pasta with semolina is a better choice for me than even Prince (even if Wednesday is Prince Spaghetti Day).

I have learned that I feel better when beans are a part of my soups. I feel better when I eat them. As for milk, I only drink whole milk so that the fat slows down the uptake of the sugar in the milk. But I rarely drink more than a half a cup on any given day.

I like butter on my freshly cooked corn-on-the-cob, I like cream cheese on my bagels.

But here is what I do not do. I do not eat like a pig. I know my serving sizes and I stick to them. I allow myself days to cheat and eat some forbidden things because to totally take them away would be killer. I would never stay on that diet.

Perhaps the Paleo diet worked for the author of this book. But for me, it would have been a total wash. I refuse to follow any diet that says stop eating entire food groups.

So I guess I will go back to what I was doing with eating more veggies and fruits, drinking water, and getting plenty of exercise. Perhaps I should up that walking distance again. More exercise seems to be the best  answer to any of my weight problems in the long run.

What diet books have you read lately that seemed like a bust after you started reading the book?

 

 

Dinosaur Garden

Dinosaur in the garden

 

What is That? Snicker Salad!

In the summer time, I have one mainstay in my pot luck arsenal that never fails.  It also has the advantage of being quick and easy to put together.

Considering the events of the past week, I am sure some of you are wondering why I am not getting into a long discussion of what the Trayvon Martin decision means to me.

The simple truth is, in my opinion, I believe we will hear of more teenage boys being killed because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time. They were deemed threats whether they are or not, and someone will of take care of them – all while congratulating themselves for taking out a thug in training even if that is not true.

If that last paragraph is too much to handle, you have a couple of options. “Tsk” the next time a boy is shot, volunteer your time with some sort of youth activity, or yell “get of my lawn” when ‘those’ boys walk by.

Now that the subject has been covered, Let’s talk about Snicker Salad. There is nothing healthy in this salad, not even the Granny Smith apples.

The Ingredients

The Ingredients

 

It is a mixture of apple, snickers, vanilla pudding and cool whip that is rich and tasty. I start by placing the candy bars – all three – in the fridge to get a little stiff for cutting down.

Chopping the candy bar.

Chopping the candy bar.

I like to cut the candy bar length-wise into three strips. then I slice width-wise as big or as small as I like. Towards the end of the third bar, I begin slicing a little bigger than I started. After that, I peel and chunk up the apples. I used to dice the apples. Now I make bigger slices but it all goes  together well no matter what.

Chopped Apples and Candy Bar

Chopped Apples and Candy Bar

 

In my big bowl I mix the large instant pudding package with 1 1/2 cups of milk. I mix it all up until the powder is completely incorporated. Normally this is the time when I add one half of a 16 oz container of cool whip. But for the purposes of the picture, I put in all of the ingredients in one bowl so one could see how it might look.

Before the Big Stir

Before the Big Stir

The hard part starts here as one has to stir all of the ingredients together. The cool whip does not always want to cooperate and the snickers wants to stay together. But with a few gentle stirs and maybe a hard one or two, the salad begins to cooperate. The apples ensure mixing and the cool whip encourages creaminess.

That’s it! you are done. Cover your dish, bring it to the summer party and watch as people ‘oh’ and ‘ah’ over the simplest dessert ever.

Where's the Spoon?

Where’s the Spoon?

 

And the best part? You may never bring home leftovers after the party when you bring this dessert.

 

 

 

Perhaps this has happened to you.

Your mom gives you some clothes and tells you to use them or give them away or whatever you want.

In the pile are a pair of Bill Blass peach colored jeans. And while they are tight around the waist, they are loose in the legs. I am not sure if this how all Bill Blass clothes fit.

There is a part of me thinking there is no way I am going to wear these pants while another part is thinking this color is really in style and I need a new skirt or two.

So I make plans to convert it from pants to a skirt which will be easier now that I have a new Husquverna-Viking sewing machine. After watching a wiki video, I feel ready to try it but I really need a practice run.

http://www.wikihow.com/Make-a-Denim-Skirt-From-Recycled-Jeans

That is when I discover a pair of jeans that my daughter has stretched beyond repair in the rear seam area. Perfect.

First things first, I cut off the lower 12 inches of pant leg.

Pants - Beginning

Then with my favorite tool, the seam ripper, I open up the inside pant seams and seams leading up to the zipper and back yoke. This is the longest task of the project.

Pants - Unsewn

Next up is pinning the back seam and sewing it down. The trick here is to make a straight seam out of extra fabric. If I had to do this part again, I would have laid the pieces flat and drawn a straight line to sew on.

Pants - Pinned

After getting the front seam done, I cut off the extra fabric and use one of my serge stitches on the outside ends before ironing the seam to one side.

Now I make one final mark for the desired length of the hem. My daughter wants this to be above her knees and I want it below the thighs. We find a good compromise so a quick roll through with my rotary cutter gets the right length.

Pants - Final hem cut

I stitch to a different serger stitch on the hem to prevent future unraveling, turn up the hem and sew it down.

Pants - New Hem

Ba-Bam! The girl has a new skirt and we do not have to throw away her favorite jeans.

Pants - Completed

Now all I need is peach-colored thread.

What are you sewing this summer?

 

 

Seven little turkey vultures all in a row.

Six little turkey vultures all in a row.

 

 

Talk about your strange sights that you see along the road. I have never seen these birds lined up on a fence row like this before.

 

Have you?

If you are like me, you are looking at Facebook every day.

And there is a lot to see, especially if you are a cooking/crafting/gardening/decorating sort of person – which I am.

A few months ago I saw a really cool craft that could be used in the garden. It is a decorative piece that can be as personal as you want it to be.

What am I talking about?

My Brand New Sign Post.

Tada!!!!!

Sign - Complete

Now I know what you are thinking.

I want one too. That is Soooo Cute!!! Was it hard to make?

To be honest it really was not that hard to make. First off, I had the 2x4x8 already standing up in the ground. It was meant to hold up an air conditioner but stayed when the air conditioner died.

Sign - Blank Board

The next part was gathering the wood pieces for the name plates. At some point my neighbor was remodeling their house so some slats stayed in my yard. Another neighbor was tearing down wood siding. Some pieces came from the burn pile my husband keeps around.

The next part was even easier. I sanded down those pieces on the side I wanted to paint to make it smooth and accepting of the paint. I ran a damp cloth over each piece to remove dust from the sanding.  Then I made a list of the different places I wanted to put on a sign board.

However, how I did the next part was a part of the learning process. I lettered most of the boards. And that part was fun because I changed font styles for the different places. I used FolkArt Outdoor Acrylic Paint by Plaid for the letters. Another lucky coincidence? My son is a paper boy so I have lots of brown craft paper to use under my painting projects.

Sign - Lettering

Just before making the last three name signs I realized I wanted a little color on them to make the letters stand out more. So I found some peach color paint and used my pounding brush to apply the color. After the paint was dried, I used a fine grade of sand paper to remove some of the paint to make the wood look a little distressed.

Sign - Process

I really liked that effect. When I tried it on some of the pieces I had already painted, the effect did not turn out well. I should have sanded more of the first bit of lettering off. Instead, I soldiered on with a new coat of a pale pink and lettering in the black outside paint. Once it was all dry, I sprayed each board with a clear glaze.

Sign - Complete 2

All that was left to do was to have the husband pound nails into the boards while I held them at jaunty angles with the back of the boards level with the 2×4. The finished product looks great. I am not usually successful with projects like this but this time around, I have a winner.

Have you tried any of the ideas you have found on facebook or pintrest and have had success?

Supplies:

Paint Brushes

Fine Grade Sand Paper

Seven thin wood pieces the shape and size of a street sign

Acrylic Craft Paint in your choice of colors for background

FolkArt Outdoor Acrylic Paint by Plaid for the lettering

Clear Glaze Spray Paint

2×4 in the length of your choice

Nails and Hammer

Husband or willing person to use hammer and nails

 

Every time I turn around, I hear someone talking about Chicken and Waffles.

People rave about this dish and I have never had it. I looked up a few recipes and knew I could do it so my last Sunday Supper meal was just that.

My central problem was my waffle iron. It is not a traditional iron with the square pockets.

chicken and waffles - Waffle Iron

My waffle iron is a Mickey Mouse design with the heads of the six main characters. That would be Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Donald, Daisy and Pluto. However, why let a little issue like that bother you when there is is chicken waiting to be fried.

Now, I did not use a recipe per sae. That’s right, I made it all up as I went along. This could bother some people and some times it bothers me because I like to time everything.

Instead, I took my chicken breasts and pounded them a little thinner so they would cook faster. After that, I prepared a dredging pan of flour, salt and pepper. I made a skillet get hot on the stove, put the oven at 250 and took out a glass dish to put my cooked chicken pieces in and keep warm in the oven.

chicken and waffles - ingredients

Meanwhile, my daughter made the waffle batter while the iron  heated up. But here is where our first snafu came up. I forgot to spray the iron with Pam before we started. The first batch stuck to the plates and would not come off. It would take practically burning the dough off of the plates in order to clean them.

However, once that debacle was over we were in waffle-making and chicken frying heaven. I put a little vegetable oil in the hot skillet before starting the chicken. The waffle iron was sprayed with Pam and all came out fairly well. What was made went into the low oven to stay warm without drying out and waited for all to be done.

Last thing that needed to happen – besides the steaming of broccoli – was to make the chicken gravy. I did a simple rue in the pan we used for cooking the chicken. Then I added chicken broth, let that simmer down for a bit to reduce before adding the milk. The husband oversaw the final part of cooking the sauce because that is what he likes to do best.

chicken and waffles - plated

Now some people make the layers with waffle on the bottom, chicken next and then the gravy. Others add syrup between the waffle and the chicken. Some pictures showed just the chicken on the waffle.

At our table, we had people eating the components separately with syrup on the waffles. I went for the syrup between the chick and the waffle while my husband choose to have only the gravy covering his stack.

I guess it does not matter how you eat it because the leftovers were minimal. The kids kept going back for chicken and waffle pieces.  The broccoli was eaten by some and the last of that became omelets the next morning.

chicken and waffles - components

This is one meal I was told to “add to the rotation.”

Are you trying any new recipes this spring?

 

 

So what does a woman do when she is out of work?

In my case, nothing it appears. I have been out of work for nearly three months, which I never expected to be out of work this long, and I have not done a single damn thing beyond look for another job.

Special projects for organizations – not done.

Closets – not cleaned out.

Piles of papers – not organized.

Piles of outgrown children’s clothing on my bedroom chair – still there.

In the last few weeks I have decided to take the bull by the horns and find one spot at  a time to clear out. The first one was the over-flowing bill drawer that the bill payer never makes a point of organizing. Next spot was my crafting area. After that was an area between a bookcase and a couch.

These are all hard jobs, requiring at least an hour of attention and a trash can ready to receive bills from six years ago. That is when one must throw in a necessary but easy job.

Recovering the kitchen table/island.

Cute but in need of replacement

Cute but in need of replacement.

 

While the cloth is bright and attractive in most areas, family life is ripping it at the edges. All of the fuzzy stuff is showing and that is not good. That is when you bring our the tools for a new covering.

 

A new cloth and the staple gun

A new cloth and the staple gun

 

Sometimes, you have to be mean. Sometimes, you have to rip off what used to work in order for something new to take over.

The old cloth gone

The old cloth gone

 

Now I know what you are thinking. “That table top doesn’t look so bad.” Look closely and you will see the peeling veneer, the stains that are not identifiable. This desk came with the house and at first we kept it on the side. But the needs of more counter space and a good work area brought the desk to the middle of the floor. The atrocious top has me searching for oil cloth. But until I find that, I will keep using inexpensive vinyl table cloths I can staple into place.

 

The finished product

The finished product

 

What I do, after making sure the cloth is reasonably centered on the table, is start at one corner, pleat the corners for a smooth edge and staple them in. I go to the opposite corner, tighten up the cloth and repeat the pleats before stapling. I do the same thing with the other corners. Then I move to the sides, tighten the cloth and staple until all sides are completed.

Is this what I want for my dream kitchen? Not really. If I had my way and a wad of cash, my dream would be to have a box top butcher block counter top on the desk and six-inch lifts on each leg. Maybe it would look like one of those dream islands in the magazines.

Other projects would include replacing the cabinets and other counter tops  as well. New working appliances would grace my kitchen. Finally, my laundry center would be moved to the basement.

Until then, I will have to stick with my solution that involves a $4.50 vinyl table-cloth, a staple gun, and 15 minutes of time. And a look that leans more towards the French Country style I am aiming for.

What quick and easy projects are you doing around the house?

 

 

 

When you have an empty glass bowl, you know that it is waiting to be filled with greatness.

Torte - empty bowl

Some desserts demand something more than the plastic bowl, even if it some great new style. The start of this dessert came from Facebook in which someone, somewhere posted a picture of a torte. Or perhaps it should be considered a pudding.

The idea is that there are layers of broken-up cake followed by a pudding mixture. This particular dessert has three layers of brownie and pudding/candy filling.

It made me think about the puddings that Harry Potter loved or how this is a great way to use up cake that does not get eaten fast enough.

The brownies before they are shredded.

The brownies before they are shredded.

I started with a pan of brownies – freshly made. We did not have any leftover cake so I made a pan of brownies. Because the dessert has three layers I divided the pan into thirds.

Sliced candies

Sliced candies

Before I broke up the brownies, I cut  mini Reese’s peanut butter ups in half, two bags worth. There may have been some taste-testing of the ugly ones.  Once they were all sliced, I put the halves to the side.

Then I had the husband mix up two 5.1 packages of pudding, 1 cup of peanut butter and 4 teaspoons of vanilla, then mixed it with the 1 1/2  8 oz. containers of whipped cream before combining it with most of those candy halves.

Torte - filling

So now I start the layering. The brownie layer is incredibly easy. Just crumble one-third of the brownies in the pan and place it in the bottom of the bowl.

 

The first brownie layer

The first brownie layer

 

So next up is getting that next layer on which is the filling. You really want to make sure that brownie layer is covered.

The filling layer in the bowl

The filling layer in the bowl

Looking good. So I repeated the brownie and filling steps two more times. After using every bit and only taking a bite or two of the filling, I brought out the remaining cool whip. I spread it over the top before adding the final bits of candy as a decoration on top.

The final product

The final product

 

And that was it. I made it well before supper, so I covered the top with plastic wrap. When we ate it later, all of us declared this perhaps one of the best desserts ever. It took a day or two to eat it all.  But it was worth it!

View of the layers

View of the layers

 

What new desserts are you trying?

 

Moroccan Meatballs on a Sunday

If I have not been as attentive as I should be, the truth is I just got over being sick.

Most of the time I get a stuffy head and power through because I have to, because kids and husband depend on me. I take something so I can sleep at night and keep going.

Bedside KahleBut this time was not that easy. I started getting the chills last Wednesday which came with a stuffed head somewhere on Thursday. I still had duties that included bringing the Youth Group to help with set-up for our church’s Pancake supper on Friday.

Friday morning came with a fever, stuffed head and the desire to stay in bed. But I sent off the kids who were not sick, comforted the one who was, and powered through one last errand run before calling another church member to take my place at the ticket booth.

I vaguely remember the Easter Egg Hunt the next day. I made it through a job interview and then went home. Where I went to bed and stayed there. Till Monday or was it Tuesday. I remember feeling much better yesterday. That is when I got out of the house although I did get out a little bit on Tuesday as well.

So now it is Thursday and in the last two days the 16-year-old has gotten the full blast. He has not been out and about since yesterday morning. The 8-year-old threw up yesterday but is looking better today.

But that is not what I came to share. I do look a others’ blogs, especially those on food and fashion. Some days that is all I can focus on.

I lightened the original picture

I lightened the original picture.

So the other weeks I knew I wanted make Moroccan Meatballs and knew that I had seen it recently. My sister-in-law has a good recipe I completely forgot about, so my apologies to her. My recipe instead came from the excellent blog of FrugalFeeding.com.

Maybe it is the picture of a handsome man in the kitchen or maybe it is the delicious recipes he puts up on a regular basis. I read his posts every time they hit my reader. I was inspired by his posts to make calzones although mine are not as pretty.

A few weeks ago, I decided my Sunday supper would include his Moroccan Meatballs recipes.

His recipe calls for meatballs made your way and has a little discussion on what  makes for the best meatballs. I personally use a 1 1/2lbs. of ground meat, 2 eggs, about a cup or more of bread crumbs and some spices of my choice. Then I roll them into the size I want and bake in a covered pan for about 20 minutes in a 350 oven. If I am making meatballs for spaghetti, I put Parmesan cheese, oregano, and basil in the mixture.

While the meatballs were in the oven, I began to chop onions, green peppers, and red peppers  before sauting them in the fry pan. In the crock pot, I put in canned tomatoes, garbonzo beans, 3 bay leafs, the celery I forgot earlier, the raisens, spices, honey, sauteed pepper and onions. I left out the chilies because  my kids are not fans of  hot foods.

In the crockpot and ready to serve.

In the crockpot and ready to serve.

Once the meatballs were done baking, I put them in the crockpot with the sauce mixture to continue simmering for a few hours. I took out the bay leaves before serving.

When it was time to eat, I made rice for the base. I put pears along this dish to have something bland and soothing to eat with it.

While there were leftovers that night, they did nt last long. The kids enjoyed the meal with the exception of the garbonzo beans. If I had to do it again, I would have only put in half as much. They were tasty but almost too many in the pot.

The husband and the 16-year-old ate them the next day and loved them even more.

Success!

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