Friday, January 30, 2009

Swimming in January

start swimming 

Today's page on the calendar. Yeah.
I think Somebody's trying to tell me something. :-)

It's been an interesting week. Still pretty slim-pickin's out there on the job market, but DH did get one lead, and has an interview scheduled for next week. Keep us in your prayers!

You know, the longer this goes on, the more I feel a pull to start preparing for the next bend in the road for me. Now is the time. (I thought it would be in a few years from now, when my Sweet Girl is done with high school.) I don't have a clue where that bend is going to take me --  I hate that! I'm the kind of gal who likes to plan ahead and know what's going to happen.

It's time to start digging into what the next chapter's going to be.  Hence, the perfect timing for today's calendar page. Looks like I better spend some time on my knees and find out which path He has in store for me...

Looks like I better get my swimming suit on.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Layered Mexican Bean Dip

    Weight Watchers Layered Mexican Bean Dip

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    .

    So, we always called this 7-Layer Dip at our house, and I was surprised to find how low-cal and good for you this yummy snack is! Here's a Weight Watchers version. Combine it with some baked chips and get your snack on, just in time for the Superbowl!

    Enjoy.

    .

    .

    Layered Mexican Bean Dip
    .

  • 16 oz fat-free canned refried beans

    3 medium avocado, Hass, finely mashed

    1/4 teaspoon salt

    1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

    1 cup(s) fat-free sour cream

    2 tablespoons fajita seasoning mix

    1/2 cup(s) Weight Watchers Reduced Fat Shredded Mexican-Style Cheese

    1 small tomato(es), chopped

    2 medium scallion(s) (aka green onions), sliced

    10 medium olive(s), black, sliced or chopped

    2 tablespoons cilantro, fresh, chopped

Spread beans evenly over bottom of a 9- X 13-inch glass baking dish or a medium-size glass bowl.

In a small bowl, combine avocado, salt and lemon juice. Spread avocado mixture over beans; top with sour cream.

Sprinkle fajita seasoning over sour cream layer. Next, layer remaining ingredients on top in order listed.

Serve immediately or chill until ready to use. Yields about 1/4 cup of dip per serving. Makes 16 servings.

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This dip is also great topped with diced bell peppers and shredded lettuce.  Add jalapeno slices for extra heat. Only 2 points per serving.

Weight Watchers Quickbites, January 26 2009, picture credit
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Looking for more Superbowl treats? See also Low-fat Quesadillas.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Encouragemints

Know what? I have the sweetest sister-in-law on the planet -- look at this cute thing she did for us. She delivered a little care package to us, and among other things, inside we found this:

Encouragemints

it's a sweet little jar, full of "encouragemints". She filled a jar with mints (ours our mint kisses -- woo hoo!) and then added 10 or so encouraging quotes on strips of paper that she cut. She folded them up and mixed 'em up with the mints. Her tag says,

.

Encouragemints detail

"Encouragemints"

Here are some sweet thoughts
for when you need a little pick me up.


This is such a sweet, simple, and inexpensive idea. We've been visiting this little jar often and benefiting from the positive quotes AND the mint chocolate. Not necessarily in that order...LOL

I bet you know somebody who could use a little "encouragemint" ! Tailor the quotes to fit their situation...

Love this idea! And, I love my SIL! ♥

Friday, January 23, 2009

Counting Blessings

Bijou hunting snowflakes (3)

What a week it's been -- no luck on the job front, a new president for the nation, a new cooking blog up and running for the family, taking care of nieces, trying to keep up with the household, running off to miscellaneous appointments, and best of all, a brand new nephew born just yesterday! (Welcome sweet baby Jason!!!) Whew! I am really ready for a Friday.

I came across this picture I snapped the other day of Bijou -- he's hunting snowflakes. Yep. Whenever we have a snowstorm, he runs to our highest gable window where he intently watches individual flakes coming down and jumps at them if they come near the window... :-)

I couldn't help but smile at this picture, thinking of this silly gato hunting his snowflakes -- I don't know, I just suddenly became thankful for the small things that are blessing me everyday;  the little things that make life sweet.

You know, life in general isn't easy right now, and the three of us are having to make an effort to keep our chins up and stay positive for each other.

But, there are so many little things going right.

A safe, warm house that's a haven from winter and the world. A tight little budget that's working -- keeping us afloat. A teenage daughter growing up strong, beautiful, and making good choices. A wonderful husband that never gives up. Friends and family that continue to check in with us and fret over us.  Also -- a  tender, watchful Lord blessing us -- who, I know, is aware of our little family -- our hopes and dreams, and our worries and frustrations and weary times.

So many little things going right. Can't help but count me some blessings.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Low-fat Potato Pancakes aka Reibek├╝chen

Weight Watchers Potato Pancakes

I crave comfort foods in the winter -- and nothing is more comfort food to this German girl as potato pancakes! As a little girl, I remember my dad making me "Reibeküchen" that I would eat with strawberry jam. I'm a little older now and adore them served with applesauce (sometimes I'll even put on a little dollop of light sour cream). 

As young marrieds, DH and I got to visit Germany, and we enjoyed Reibeküchen right from a stand in Cologne, in front of their incredible cathedral there.   I was thrilled to find this low-fat version of potato pancakes, so I can keep enjoying one of my favorite foods!

Now you can too -- enjoy!

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Reibekuchen with applesauce and sour cream

Low-fat Potato Pancakes
(3 points for 3 pancakes)

1  1/4 pounds baking potatoes, peeled and shredded

2 egg whites

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 scallions, finely chopped

3/4 teaspoon salt

4 teaspoons vegetable oil

 

1.  Soak the potatoes in cold water 30 minutes; drain and blot dry. Preheat the oven to 375° F.

2.  In a medium bowl, combine the potatoes, egg whites, flour, scallions, and salt. Form into 12 pancakes.

3.  In a large non-stick skillet over medium heat, heat one-third of the oil. Cook the pancakes, 4 at a time, until just golden, about 2 minutes on each side; transfer to a baking sheet. Repeat twice more with the remaining oil and pancakes, making a total of 12 pancakes. Bake until crisp and cooked through, 5-7 minutes.

* You can prepare the pancake mixture up to an hour ahead and keep it in the refrigerator until you're ready to use it...

 

Weight Watchers New Complete Cookbook, p. 362

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Jack Frost

I live in a beautiful place -- a valley, surrounded by mountains. I'm very blessed, I know! But there is a small price to be paid -- sometimes in the thick of winter, we get stuck in an winter temperature inversion

Winter_photo_inversion

picture credit

Yeah, those are the *tops* of the mountains you see. I'm somewhere below that sea of fog, clouds and c-c-c-cold.

My sweetie and I braved the cold, grey morning to capture some of Jack Frost's work around our neighborhood -- we only see it when the inversion hits. Everybody hates the word inversion here in Utah -- but there is beauty in every thing, if you look for it...

Grey foggy January morning

Frost on the lampost

tree frosted over

crystalized jagged snow

frost on the pine

January sun trying to break through the fog

Ooh! I'm shivery just looking at those pictures! I'm off to put the kettle on for hot cocoa! Brrr! Hope you are cozy and warm where you are!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Words to Live By

Don't Stop Believing!-1

a stopsign with a message we saw last year in a shopping center close to our home

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One of the things I learned the hard way was that it doesn’t pay to get discouraged. Keeping busy and making optimism a way of life can restore your faith in yourself. 
                                                                                                               -- Lucille Ball

Thanks, Lucy. I needed that.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Valentine Postmark

valentinepostmark_large

I know it's still January and snowflake time, but this is a fun Valentine project, and if you want to do it at all, you have to get going now. It's a great project for us recessionistas, and hey -- non-fattening, too? Woo-hoo!

You can mail your valentine cards to a "romantic" city and they'll stamp it with a special postmark and mail it to your sweetie-pie! Here's the how-to:

  pick up a card for your special someone and address the envelope

  put a stamp on it (I recommend the current LOVE stamp from USPS)

  place your stamped envelope inside a larger envelope.

  address the outside envelope to one of the loving cities in our country, like this:

  Postmaster; ATTN: Valentines; City, State, Zip Code.


A lot of folks do this, so your best bet is to get your postmark project going now. Even with a lovey-dovey postmark, a late card isn't going to earn you any brownie points!

♥♥♥

Here's a list of some romantic cities:

Lovely KY 41231

Lovejoy GA 30250

Lovejoy IL 62059

Loving TX 76062

Lovelock NV 89419

Loveland CO 80538

Loveland OH 45140

Lovelands OK 73553

Bridal Veil OR 97010

Romance AR 72136

Kissimmee FL 32741

Bliss NY 14024

Heart Butte MT 59448

Romeo MI 48065

Juliette GA 31046

Loveville MD 20656

Loving NM 88256

Romance AR 72136

Sugar City CO 81076

Valentine NE 69201

Valentine TX 79854

Valentines VA 23887

♥♥♥

How's about a little mood music? Scroll down and listen to "My Cupcake"  on the playlist on my sidebar. I dare ya not to be in a valentine mood after that!

Have fun.

picture credit

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Recessionista Recipes

shopping

It's all about being frugal at my house right now.  Well, everywhere, for that matter. Times are tough! A while ago, Erin at Life is a Banquet told us about a new word out there: recessionista!

 

Re.ces.sion.is.ta   [re-ses-shun-ee-stah]--noun

Definition:
A-list tastes but a B-list budget

Origin: US Weekly, November 3, 2008


I've decided to join Erin and grab this label for myself. Love it! Perfect for this economy. Sounds so much better than "living on a tight budget", or "coupon clipper", don't you think? We, here,  might have a C or D budget, instead of a B one right now, but the definition still fits. I'm a recessionista! You in?

♥♥♥

Here are a couple of Recessionista Recipes. You know, something you can pull together, just by going to your pantry... savin' some bucks... but not giving up your A-list yummy factor! :-)


Snickerdoodle Coffee Cake

This is just a plain little cake, nothing fancy, but it's yummy and goes with just about everything. It's a favorite around here.

1 cup flour

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon cinnamon

1/2 cup milk

1 egg

1/4 cup melted margarine

Mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, milk, margarine and egg. Pour into a greased and floured (Baker's Joy spray works great here.) 8-inch or 9-inch square pan. Sprinkle top heavily with sugar (this gives you a crusty top). Bake at 400 degrees F for 25 minutes. Best served warm.

:::

Basic Crumb Crust

Another go-to recipe. You don't have to always buy the store-bought graham cracker crusts -- make this one instead. Hmmm.... you may never go back to store-bought! This recipe is 2 points. :-)

32 low-fat honey graham crackers (8 full sheets)

2 tablespoons sugar

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1 tablespoon water

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Using a food processor, take the graham crackers and pulse into crumbs. (You can also put the crackers in a plastic bag and use a rolling pin to crush them into crumbs.)

Transfer the crumbs to a medium bowl and add the sugar and nutmeg; mix well. Add the butter and water and mix until the crumbs are moist and hold together in clumps when pressed. Press the mixture onto the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch pie pan. Bake until golden, 8-10 minutes. Cool on a rack 20 minutes before using.

Weight Watchers New Complete Cookbook, p. 370


Enjoy, Recessionistas!

Monday, January 12, 2009

January Projects

Not really anything exciting to post today; the job searching is slow going -- not really getting any call backs at this point. It could be that a lot of companies are reassessing where they themselves are at, and what they will do next in these crazy economic times. It's discouraging for us, but we're trying to stay positive.

A big change in life can sometimes bring about a "bend in the road" that was never an option before .... you never know! I think if we had a little more in savings to fall back on, I would even be excited about the possibilities! (At least for today, I am a little too distracted with making sure we make it through the here and now.) Hubby and I are talking about all options available to us. I wonder what the next bend in the road will be?

In the meantime, I am using that organizational kick we all get in January to work on this...

Reorganizing the Decorations Old Christmas boxes heading for the trash

...reorganizing the Christmas decorations. It's a bit of a mess now, but it will be in "apple pie order" soon. When Christmas rolls around again, I'll be glad I did this now. Do you find that most of your indoor projects get done in January and February? Mine sure do!

Speaking of projects, here's a little something the Sweet Girl did for some of her cousins.

 Winter Pillows

Aren't they cute? We got the idea from here.

So what projects are you working on?

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Words to Live By

Nob Hill Winter

Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, 
for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire:  
it is the time for home.
 

                                                             ~Edith Sitwell

Thursday, January 8, 2009

I Heart Silhouettes

Just a quick post; I'm off visiting and having fun with a couple of my sisters today.

:::

Hey, is it too early to mention Valentine's Day? Well, I saw these wonderful Valentine silhouette garlands over at No Fuss Fabulous, and just had to share...

nofussfabulousloverstrystbanner3

 

lovebirdsilhouettenofussfabulous-copy3

Love these! ♥ Pop on over there and get the easy-peasy instructions, and some cute ideas for displaying them. You can download the garland files here and here. Enjoy.

February and silhouettes just go together! I think it was all the Lincoln and Washington  silhouettes I did in February, back in elementary school. Do you remember doing that?

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Raspberry Coffee Cake

Low Fat Raspberry Coffee Cake

 

Love this recipe. I've made it several times. Yummy!  3 points for a serving, people! Can I get an amen?

This low fat treat is perfect for a holiday breakfast, when company's visiting, or a brunch. Enjoy!

 

 

Raspberry Coffee Cake

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/3 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 egg

1/2 cup reduced-fat plain yogurt (vanilla will work, too)

2 tablespoons butter or stick margarine, melted

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 tablespoons brown sugar

1 cup unsweetened fresh or frozen raspberries*

 

Glaze**

1/4 cup confectioner's sugar

1 teaspoon fat-free milk

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

 

In a bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Combine the egg, yogurt, butter and vanilla; add to dry ingredients just until moistened. Spoon 2/3 of the batter into an 8 inch round baking pan coated with nonstick cooking spray. Combine the brown sugar and raspberries; sprinkle over batter. Spoon remaining batter over the top. Sprinkle with almonds.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 35-40 minutes or until cake springs back when lightly touched and is golden brown. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack. In a small bowl, combine the glaze ingredients. Drizzle over coffee cake. Serve warm or at room temperature. Yield: 8 servings.

 

*if you use frozen raspberries, do not thaw them before using.

**I'm leaving the recipe just as it's written to keep the point count intact, but you may find you want more glaze than the recipe calls for. In that case, throw caution to the wind and double or even triple the glaze ingredients...

 

picture credit:  Light and Tasty [renamed Healthy Cooking] magazine, Oct/Nov 2001, p.7; recipe: Merle Shapter

Monday, January 5, 2009

New Year's Cookie Treat

Midnight Snack New Year's Eve Cookie Treat

Here's a little something I brought to a recent New Year's Eve party; thought I'd share it with you. (I've been too busy with the "F" words to post this before now... but maybe you can save it for next year.) Everyone thought I was so Martha that night.

(Hah! As if...)

This was an idea from one of my *very* favorite blogs out there, No Fuss Fabulous. I just loooove "big impact/little-to-no-effort/frugal" projects! Here's what you'll need:

Midnight Snack supplies

☻  Cookies (store-bought or homemade), on the large size. We used snickerdoodles.

☻  Paper CD sleeves

☻  Glue dots

☻  Printable tags from No Fuss Fabulous, cut out

 

Cut out your tags. Put the cookie in the sleeve. Take your tag and glue dot it to a corner. Done. Easy peasy! This idea could probably be adapted for other holidays. Got any ideas?

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Words to Live By

Book with blank pages

We will open the book.  Its pages are blank. 
We are going to put words on them ourselves. 
The book is called Opportunity
and its first chapter is New Year's Day.
 


~ Edith Lovejoy Pierce

Friday, January 2, 2009

Happy New Year!

happy_new_year

Happy 2009!

We had a lot of fun for New Year's -- "F" was the letter of the day -- food, family, friends, fun, football...and fatigue! LOL  Hope your holiday was great, too. Best wishes in the new year!