I. love. this. This totally inspires me! I wish I could have this playing in front of my eyes, 24/7. Enjoy!
Well, we sent Mr. H off on his Las Vegas get-away this morning, with highlighted, blinking lights, underlined-in-red instructions to 1). Forget his troubles and 2.) Have a good time. He's been carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders, worrying about everything.
I have no doubt that he'll be spoiled to death by my sweet sister, Deb and her hubby. They are very good at that. (yeah -- this is the same sister that's been sharing her recipes here; you know, the incredibly talented, Martha one.)
♥ Huge hugs ♥ to both of them for flying my Mr. H out there to get away from the stress and worry that are just part of our job-searching days right now.
I plan on working on some house projects, diving into the new materials I just got from my on-line class, and cozying up with a good read later on tonight. (Maybe I need to pull out some DVD's and visit my other boyfriend, Mr. Darcy. LOL) The Sweet Girl made my favorite chocolate chip cookies last night...
We're all set.
(Miss you, Mr. H!)
Hope you have a fun weekend planned for yourself, too!
I'm in the second week now of my "me" class, as my friend, Deanna , calls it -- inspiring stuff.
Not the day-dreamy, hearts-and-flowers-kind of inspiring; more the useful, empowering, can-do, make-your-dreams-happen-and-here's-how kind of inspiring. Oh ya. That's what I'm talkin' about...
One thing I read last week that really struck a chord was this:
There are two ways to react to change -- let it buffet you about like a strong wind or you can use it to fill your sails and help you get where you want to go.
Don't you just love that?
Look at that picture there; those clouds are stormy and dark. The waves are splashing on the side of the little boat -- but those folks are in control and sailing. Proactive. That's where I want to be.
I would so regret looking back on this time, if I had just stood there on the shore, fussing and yelling "I hate this wind!!" ('cause I do, you know). What if I kept my head and stopped focusing on the storm? What if I grabbed this change-filled, scary time and used it as an opportunity to make something wonderful happen?
I have a feeling that if I have enough faith (and courage) to fill my sails, the Captain's gonna help me steer my course.
Pasta, dah-ling! I've missed you! LOL
Here's a low-fat version of cacciatore we tried last week. I loved it. So flavorful! It's 8 points a serving, but, baby, you get a *plateful* of food! You will not be hungry after this meal. (In fact, it made a lot for our little family, and we froze half. It'll be perfect for some crazy busy night. Yum!)
I found this recipe easiest to cook when I "Martha-ed" it. You know how all the cooks on TV have everything set aside, all prepared and measured out for them? We would all be gourmet chefs if we had a little assistant doing that for us, every time we knocked out a recipe! LOL This recipe does call for a lot of veggies and spices; if you have them ready to go when they're called for, this recipe's a breeze!
Enjoy. Ciao for now!
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch pieces
3 teaspoons canola oil, divided
1 large green pepper, chopped
2 celery ribs, thinly sliced
1 medium onion, chopped
1 3/4 cups sliced fresh mushrooms**
1 medium carrot, shredded
3 garlic cloves, minced**
1 can (29 oz.) tomato sauce
1 can (14.5 oz.) Italian diced tomatoes, undrained
1 bay leaf
3 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons dried basil
1/4 teaspoon pepper
9 oz. uncooked spaghetti
(additional shredded carrot -- optional)**
1. In a large non-stick skillet coated with cooking spray, brown chicken in 2 teaspoons of oil; drain. Remove and keep warm. In the same skillet, saute the green pepper, celery, and onion in remaining oil for 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms, carrot and garlic; saute 2-4 minutes longer or until all the vegetables are tender
2. Stir in the tomato sauce, tomatoes, and seasonings. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer uncovered, for 10-12 minutes or until thickened. Meanwhile, cook spaghetti according to package directions.
3. Stir chicken into tomato mixture; cook for 8-12 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink. Discard bay leaf. Drain spaghetti; serve with chicken mixture. Garnish with additional carrot if desired.
Serving: 1 1/3 cups of chicken mixture with 2/3 cup spaghetti
Yield: 6 servings
8 points per serving
** We used canned mushrooms from the pantry, instead of fresh. We used minced garlic spice. Both times these substitutions worked fine. BTW, we skipped the shredded carrot garnish on top. Bleh.
recipe and picture credit: Healthy Cooking magazine, December/January 2009, p.55
(original recipe: Anita Webb)
Mr. H and I have been sneaking away to London at lunch for the past month or two. We visit at 221 B Baker Street, to be precise...
I got my hubby the complete set of the Granada Series Sherlock Holmes (Jeremy Brett) for Christmas -- I'll come clean; it really was a present for both of us.
We've been fans of Mr. Holmes for a very long time. In fact, when we were going to TAMU and started dating, I gave my Mr. H a second look when I saw the canon on his shelf at his apartment. :-) Later, we always made sure we caught Sherlock Holmes on PBS. (Wasn't Jeremy Brett just brilliant as Holmes? He is the only Sherlock Holmes for me.)
Job searching's been a little discouraging of late, and we've enjoyed our little lunchtime escape to Victorian England. It's the little things that get you through!
What are the little things do you do for yourself?
Tulip Festival at Thanksgiving Point, 2005
(don't you just love that name?)
If winter comes, can spring be far behind?
-- Percy Bysshe Shelley
Okay, so I "hoodie-hoo'ed" -- and yesterday I saw blue skies and sunshine. The snow is melting and I actually heard a bird *sing*. Could there be something to "hoodie-hoo'in"? I don't know.
I'm just sayin'.....
Are you tired of winter? Ready for spring? Got cabin fever? (yeah, that would be me....)
Then today is the day to do something about it.
Today is (Northern Hemisphere) Hoodie-Hoo Day! – At high noon (local time) citizens are asked to go outdoors and yell “Hoodie-Hoo!” to chase away winter and make ready for spring, one month from now.
All righty, then...
You know what?
I'm so sick of winter, I'll try anything!
See you at noon...
I started my online class this week... it's my first step toward the new chapter in my life. This class is going to give me the strategies to act like a CEO of my own life -- to be in charge and purposefully plan the next bend in the road. I'm excited!
I told Mr. H that I wanted to get a cute binder to hold my class supplies in, and well...
he rolled his eyes because he is all too familiar with my office supplies sickness...he smiled and said, 'I knew you would!' So, I looked around for some cute patterned binder that would add to the inspiration I would get from the class. Nada. Couldn't find what I wanted.
What's a girl to do, except make her own? Time to shop the house. I just grabbed a plain ol' white binder -- the kind that you can slip stuff into the front and back covers -- and filled it with a collage I made of old Mary Englebreit day by day calendar quotes I kept in a drawer. All of them are inspiring and empowering quotes; perfect for me... and it fits my class to a T! Love it!
Can't wait to see what's around the bend....
This cake is my go-to chocolate cake from now on. Better than the mixes! It's not just for Valentine's Day, either. Replace the hearts with any other colored hard candy or sprinkles to match the occasion or holiday.
You know, I miss chocolate cake. A regular piece of cake with frosting is a whopping 13 points -- this one is FIVE -- with the frosting, peeps! Woo-hoo!
It was rich and dense and chocolaty. Mr. H and I kept looking at each other and saying... 'Five points? Are you sure?' Yep, I'm sure. I had the nutritional info right there. Chocolate + cake + low-cal = hurry and cut me a piece! LOL
True Love Chocolate Cake
(5 points per piece)
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 2/3 cups sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup baking cocoa
1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 cups water
1 cup (6 oz) semisweet chocolate chips (we used milk chocolate chips)
1 package (8 oz.) reduced fat cream cheese
1/3 cup confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 carton (8 oz.) frozen reduced fat whipped topping, thawed
3/4 cup flaked coconut
1/2 cup candy hearts
1. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar until crumbly, about 2 minutes. Add eggs, one at time, beating well after each addition. Beat in applesauce.
2. Combine the flour, cocoa, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. Add to the butter mixture alternately with water, beating well after each addition. Fold in chips. Pour into a 9 X 13 baking pan coated with cooking spray.
3. Bake at 350° F for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.
4. For frosting: in a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese and confectioners' sugar until smooth. Beat in vanilla. Fold in whipped topping. Frost cake. Refrigerate until serving. Just before serving, sprinkle with coconut and candy.
yield: 24 servings
Healthy Cooking magazine, February/March 2009, p. 44
So, how did we get Valentine's Day and President's Day all on the same weekend? Nice!
We had a nice Valentine's Day -- the Sweet Girl was spoiled by friends (candy, cards and chocolate galore -- even flowers!) and we surprised her with a huge poster-sized love note in her lunch on Friday. We three had a really nice time on Saturday, with a cozy dinner at home. The dinner and dessert turned out great, and it was fun to spoil my family and throw away our troubles for a few hours.
It was all on the frugal side this year, but there were a few Valentine surprises in store for us -- sneaky Mr. H gave me a on-line course with a local university I had been talking about, and he got a getaway to Las Vegas courtesy of my sweet sister, Deb and her hubby, who live there. He's gonna have a great time. He can't wait. I'm so excited for him -- I love it 'cause he's getting a change of scenery. Just what the doctor ordered for someone slogging it out every day with job searching. Deb and Cory, you rock! ♥
President's Day found us with kids home from school, a lazy, sleep-in morning, and a visit to the new Draper Temple Open House.
Now our thoughts turn to taxes. Bleh. We're getting them done on Friday and that is decidedly the most unromantic thing I can think of! The holiday is officially over. LOL
How was your weekend? ♥
I'm lovin' that Valentine's Day is going to be on a Saturday this year -- I get to spoil my family without all the hurry and chaos of a school morning....
I'm planning a couple of cute things here; I'm going to make heart-shaped pancakes in the morning. All I need is a stack of pancakes, a cookie cutter, some strawberry jam and a little powdered sugar in my sugar-shaker.
It's still winter (heavy sigh), and DH requested a warm comfort food for dinner -- French Dip sandwiches. Roast beef on homemade rolls (hello, breadmaker, my old friend! LOL) dipped in hot au jus sauce. Good choice, honey!
Here's what I'm planning on for dessert:
True Love Chocolate Cake! (How did they know chocolate cake was my true love?! I'm just kidding, Hon!) I found this in my Healthy Cooking magazine. (This cake is only 5 points a piece-- huzzah!) I will have some conversation hearts left over from a project I did with the Sweet Girl ...
Oh yeah, there are some simple but fun ideas for Valentine breakfasts over at No Fuss, Fabulous...like heart sprinkles in your kid's Cheerios...heart shaped strawberry jam on toast...and more.... so cute. So easy.
What do you have planned for Valentine's Day? ♥
...aka "Poor Man's Pizza", as DH calls it. LOL
We're on an ultra-tight budget, and a lot of the little extras are just not happening right now. Instead of pulling a long face about it, DH got creative.
My hubby popped into the kitchen, pulled a few things out of the pantry and *voila*, we were having pizza rolls, all hot, melty and yummy out of the oven! They were a real treat! We've got a teenager at home, and these are perfect teen food. I like 'em better than the processed ones you buy in the store -- they're healthier too.
Way to go, Hon! You rock. ♥
Pizza Rolls (aka Poor Man's Pizza)
2 points per roll (including the sauce)
1 can homestyle biscuits
cheddar or mozzarella cheese, sliced into thin rectangles
Pizza Sauce for dipping (see recipe below)
Preheat your oven, and spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray; set aside. Open the can of biscuits. Stretch the biscuit from a round shape to a rectangle shape.
Place one slice of cheese and 2-3 pepperoni slices on one side of the biscuit. (We used cheddar, 'cause that's what was in the house. Mozzarella would be really yummy here, too!) Fold the other side over and seal.
Cook according to your biscuit's package directions (ours were 400° for 10 minutes), or when golden brown. While cooking, make your pizza sauce ... this is our *favorite* pizza sauce; we think it tastes better than any canned stuff out there. You've already got all the ingredients for this in your pantry -- it takes only 5 minutes! Give it a try!)
When your pizza rolls are done, spritz lightly with butter spray. Sprinkle on top with Parmesan cheese. Dip rolls into pizza sauce.
Enjoy! (take that, recession!)
16 oz tomato sauce
1 tablespoon dried onions (minced)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon basil
Combine all ingredients in a small sauce pan. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for five minutes. May also be microwaved for 4 minutes, stirring once.
Pizza Sauce: Bright Impressions Busy Family Cookbook, p.66
It's Valentine's Day this weekend, and we started off the week with Heart Shaped Cinnamon Rolls.
Nothin' says I ♥ you like a cinnamon rolls baking in the oven! These are so easy; just follow your own cinnamon roll recipe -- with one little change. Roll the dough from both ends, toward each other, and then pinch the bottom.
Gourmet Mom on the Go gets all the credit; what a cute idea! Go here for a recipe and a how-to that even includes a little video tutorial. Here's my little contribution: I'll give you a light version of the cream cheese frosting to put on top. Enjoy. ♥
Light Cream Cheese Frosting
8 oz. light cream cheese (Neufchâtel cheese)
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Put all ingredients into a bowl. Beat on low speed with an electric mixer until just combined, then increase speed to high and beat until smooth.
♥ If you want the breadmaker cinnamon roll recipe we used at our house, leave me a comment, and I'll get it to you!
Even though I consider myself well-educated and pretty sharp on current events, I give a wide berth to politics here: I keep my opinions to myself. This isn't a political blog...
But, this is one time I feel compelled to say something. I found the story below alarming and upsetting.
I love our system of government. I welcome the discussion and debate that's part of the process. I love my country: we are fortunate and blessed to live here. However, I feel that hiding health care legislation in a stimulus bill is wrong. The way they are trying to get this passed, sneaking it past us, buried deep in a bill that has nothing whatsoever to do with this topic, is un-American.
This legislation will affect every American family in a profound way.
We have already contacted our representatives in Washington. I encourage you to do the same. Please tell them how you feel about this legislation before it's too late.
***Edited to add: To contact Washington, you can easily go to www.house.gov, www.senate.gov. and www.whitehouse.gov. (Click on the search feature for your senator or representative.) They're supposed to represent you...tell them how you feel!***
Elena, over at Manwaring Moments, is asking the questions:
1. Are you where you envisioned you would be 10-15 years ago?
Yes. For the most part, I have what I dreamed about back then. I envisioned myself being a mom -- I am that, and it's been my dream and my bliss (although I wish I had been able to have more kids). I envisioned myself in a home of my own, hopefully in a great neighborhood. Check. I'm not loving the employment trials we've had to go through (and the consequences from those times), but I do like where I'm at personally nowadays. I'm wiser, more "got it together", and skinnier (insert happy face here) than those days.
2. What is the greatest vacation you have ever been on?
The German vacation DH and I were able to take as young-marrieds, visiting my family in Düsseldorf. My dad was called as a Mission President for our church, and was assigned to the very area he had grown up in as a boy. What are the odds?! We stayed there over three weeks, and were able to get a real feel for German life (going to the bakery everyday, doing laundry in tiny units, shopping, etc.) AND I was able to soak up in my soul my dad's homeland -- all his old haunts and where he had his adventures. To see those places with my own eyes and BE there was a gift.
3. What is one of your talents?
Not many people know that I can sing.
4. How long do you hope to live?
I want to live a good long time, but in relatively good health, please. I would hate to lose the use of my eyes, or my hands, or my mind! I'm an independent little soul, and I hope I can continue to be so for a long time yet.
5. What is your favorite thing to eat for lunch?
You're gonna think that I'm such a dork, but I always find myself making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich! After 13 years of school, some college, and now all these years of married life later, I'm still not tired of PB&J's! LOL
Now I would love to interview you and you and you. So here is what you do. Come on now, don't be shy. I will be nice I promise. It is a great way to get to know you. Besides its great way to have something to blog about when you're in a rut.
1. Leave me a comment saying, "Interview me."
2. I will respond by emailing you five questions. (I get to pick the questions).
3. You will update your blog with the answers to the questions.
4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.
5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.
So come on, let the good times roll!!
I dream of a laundry room like this...
because I have a laundry room like this...
It's not a laundry room. It's a utility room. The washer/dryer are crammed in there, next to the furnace. I don't even have the heart to show you the other side of this tiny room. There's a water softening system AND a water heater over there. Sheesh.
This room's down in the basement, and the walls vary from concrete to "oh-so-chic" exposed 2x4's.
Sometimes you can just tell the floor plan of a house is designed by a *man*, can't you? HGTV could not do anything with this room! It's a hopeless case. It's the only room in my cute house that makes me sad...
Every once in a while, somebody will talk about decorating their laundry room, and a little part of me just has to go pea-green with envy. All the space I have for seein' to our laundry needs (not counting the actual washer and dryer themselves) is against the wall as you walk into this utility room. The area I'm talking about is a whopping 55 X 25 ... *inches*. Um. Ya.
The previous owner installed some metal shelves that fit into this tiny space; screwing them into the wall for safety -- they're looking a little worse for the wear, but, hey -- they fit the space.
What's a recessionista to do? She wants to improve her miniscule laundry space, and has no budget to speak of (DH still out of work) -- throw in the towel? No way! It's time for...
::: The Mini-est of Mini Makeovers :::
...mini-in-money and a tiny, mini room! First thing -- shopped the house. OK. Found some stuff I could use...for FREE. :-)
The ugly shelves stayed. Can't afford new ones, and these are the perfect size for this space. A little leftover liner from a kitchen project -- voila -- they're lookin' much better!
Then we installed heavy-duty hooks to hang the ironing board and wooden dryer rack up and out of the way. Wow -- that alone is a huge help! Okay, I'm lying. Hubby and I did this part last year. It was the Sweet Girl's idea. She rocks.
Now I needed some containers. I grabbed some old canning jars for clothespins and well...uh..."pocket money". You probably have this rule at your house, too -- if you don't empty your pockets of your change, the laundry lady gets it! I very nearly put a label on that jar that said "TIPS". LOL As you can see, I'm not doing too bad! ;-)
Oh -- and I'm so tired of reaching into my Oxyclean box and finding nothing but big ol' lumps in there. Something about the humidity in the room. My Borax did that, too. Bah! Frustrating. Solved it with two glass jars with lids I wasn't using from the pantry. Ta-da!
How many bottles do you have in your laundry room? I have a ton -- carpet cleaners, ironing supplies, stain removers, etc. Just corralling these babies would make the space look great! It's the one thing I spent money on. I got these babies on clearance: four for 10 bucks. Not bad! Look, they even had a space in front for labels. Love it!
Here is my nod to having a decorated laundry room. I know. It's silly, but it has to be there. It's that, or go off the deep end and move to a house with a real laundry room. I found this little saying on the internet, printed it, put it in a cheapo frame I had laying around somewhere. Check it out -- the words match the shelf liner. HGTV should give me my own show. ;-)
It lives on the top shelf with the ever-important laundry hint sheet.
OK -- there's the finished project. It's still not up for a magazine shoot, but I can stand to look at it, it functions well in an impossible location, and it was a $10 makeover! Only one thing still bothers me...
I hate that my detergent's still on the floor. If we have a flood, it's a goner. Got any ideas? How do you store your detergent?
Thanks for taking a look at my mini-makeover!
Here's a recipe I spotted over at Delightful Home. (It's originally from a Rachael Ray magazine.) These are good any time of year, but I liked the snowy-whiteness of the cookie -- makes it perfect for a winter treat!
We tried this recipe this week and really liked it. Think grown-up Rice Krispie treat, chewy, with a taste of coconut... best of all -- if you make them according to the recipe, you're talking two cookies for 1 point. Huzzah! (If you make them a little bigger like I did, count 1 point per cookie. Hey, that's still a good deal...
I'm going to have to borrow Ms. Tee's picture of the finished product, though; my nieces came over after school today, and finished them off before I could get a picture!
Coconut Snowball Crisps
Makes 3 dozen
3 large egg whites
1 pinch salt
1 cup confectioners' sugar
2 cups sweetened shredded coconut
2 cups crispy rice cereal
1/4 cup cornstarch
1. Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 200 degrees. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper. Using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites and salt on medium speed until thick & foamy. Sprinkle in the confectioners' sugar, and once incorporated, beat at high speed until firm and glossy, about 5 minutes.
3. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold into the egg mixture until combined.
5. Bake until firm and dry to the touch, about 1 hour. Let cool completely. Enjoy!
"The commonplaces of America are to me the richest subjects in art. Boys battling flies on vacant lots; little girls playing jacks on the front steps; old men plodding home at twilight-all these things arouse feeling in me."
-- Norman Rockwell
It's one of those crazy, busy days, and I literally have just a couple of minutes to post a little something. I noticed it was Norman Rockwell's birthday today on my calendar. I've been a long time fan of his -- I mean, way back -- like to my childhood years. I have always loved his art. I even received two prints as wedding presents, and the love affair continues.
The older I get, and the more I see in my life, the deeper his art is for me. For example, I have more appreciation for the mother's faces in a way I could not have before becoming one. ♥ I believe in his version of America. I live in just such a neighborhood, with "Rockwellian" kind of people. I find beauty in the commonplace. He had the gift to capture it.
Oh my goodness! -- it would be impossible for me to show or tell you all my favorites, especially in the two minutes I have right now! I must do another post on Norman Rockwell -- one of my very favorite artists. This quick post does not do him justice.
Here are my wedding presents:
...and here are just a few of my favorites off the top of my head. (roll your mouse over the pictures for titles)
What are your favorite Norman Rockwell prints?
picture credit: flickr
"I have now lived long enough to know that, whatever our situation, our troubles melt and disappear like frost in the morning sun when we dwell upon our blessings rather than our disappointments.
No matter how pessimistic one's view may become of the times and the seasons, we can always fall back on special friendship, on faithful, personal love, and on simple, true dealings in our own personal lives."
-- James E. Faust
Template fueled by Blogger. Created for Wendy by Graphically Designing (© 2007-2008).