Thursday, January 31, 2008

Food for Thought

Technical problems and huge time restraints have kept me from posting for almost a week now. Why must it be soo difficult to post a picture? (3 times the pictures came out sideways.) Although I admit that half the problem was finding the time to take the picture. Without further ado I present my new refrigerator, complete with food, magnets and the requisite prize winning report card. Yes my new stainless steel refer accepts magnets (very, very small & lightweight). Notice the big smiley face!!

After throwing away three kitchen trash bags of food, (only to discover later that same day that a neighbor has a full freezer sitting in her garage and could have easily taken my food in. Note to self - ALWAYS trust your instincts), and scrubbing all the grimey ickey stuff that grows under and around the hidden recesses of a parked ice box, and waiting 3 hours for the delivery men to arrive - I now have a bright and shiny new refrigerator and God willing I hope that it
lasts a very, very, long time.

I have not one, not two but three doors. The lastest efforts in energy efficiency require a step backwards when most freezers were on the bottom. Mine has a twist or shall I say a tilt involved because when the bottom door is slid out the door tilts forward to allow for easy retrieval. It's great. I can see everything inside - so very nice and neat. Love it and highly recommend it. The top has two doors with ice and water in the door.

Moving right along ---

On that very same day I went to see the Pilgrim Virgin Mary statue. For anyone who is not Catholic or Christian the significance and importance of this statue may be a bit difficult for you to understand, but please allow me to try. Have you ever enjoyed the beauty of a sunset and felt a special feeling of peace as you stood in the glory of the orange glow? Have you ever admired a painting and felt inspired from the artist's work? Do you have a special item - doll, knick knack, quilt or piece of furniture that has been handed down to you and everytime you touch or see that item you have warm feelings of the person who owned it? If you can take a moment to conjure up any of these images than maybe you will begin to understand the statue or why when it travels from city to city hundreds (maybe thousands) line up to see it. I have been able to see the statue twice in my life. I saw it for the first time over 17 years ago. At the time I didn't know much about the statue and when I saw it I could only marvel at the craftmenship and glowing beauty of the statue. Since that visit I have read all three of the books that it's guardian - Louis Kazmeric has written. He writes about the miracles that are attibuted to the statue. Hard to believe? Well yes. We all have problems believing in anything that is intangible and unexplanable. It's easy for me to believe because so very much of life is completely unexplainable to me. I only had a few minutes (because I had to be home at 1:45 to meet the delievery man who didn't show for 3 hours) I said my prayers, I wrote out my petitions and I took pictures.
In knitting news I still struggle to finish the second sleeve. I am now knitting the sleeve cap for the 2nd time. Fortunately, the rows are short and the knitting goes quickly, are shall I say the errors become evident sooner. Either way I have very little hope that the sweater will fit because I have failed to check my guage as often as I should ( is one time OK?).

Friday, January 25, 2008

Blogger Christmas

It has been so wonderfully fun for me all day to open my e-mail and find comments, lovely comments, juicy comments, fun comments, comments!!!!! Ah the power of the written word. Like presents under the Christmas tree I see comments under my blog entry and it has put a big smile on my face. Thank you to everyone who posted comments (presents) for me and
Thank you to Yarnhog for the kind introduction to the party. I truly appreciate YOU!
Actually I got double presents today - all the comments and discovering all the wonderful blogs. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Lucky, lucky, lucky me.
Thank you very much.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

When the going gets tough, the tough go shopping

When I served the ice cream at my sons birthday party it was almost soup, way beyond soft and creamy. That's when I got suspicious that something was wrong with the refrigerator. I checked the settings and noticed that it was down to 3 so I simply moved the dial up to 9 and closed the door. Thinking that I had solved the problem I innocently waited and waited, wanting with all my heart to believe that my refrigerator was okay. A day and a half later I admitted that the situation wasn't getting any better, but I was stuck because I couldn't go shopping and I knew that I would have a couple days to wait for delivery. Thinking back to the good old days I went to the store and bought ice, lots of ice and then I found dry ice. Yeah. The label said it would keep things cold for up to 4 days. I was saved. But no. The next morning I found water all over the floor and discovered the dry ice had melted while the bag of ice was still in tack. Back to the store - I bought 3 large bags of block ice. I would now put my refrigerator on life support. Then I went shopping only to discover that refrigerators cost a lot. I thought ,"let's just eat fresh food". Hey I have to go to the store everyday anyway so why not just buy and eat what we need. The response was nothing short of , "Are you crazy?"
After searching four stores and three trips back to the same store in the pouring rain I finally bought a refrigerator. Here's what I learned
1. Never go shopping with children of any size or age. Ever!!!!
2. Never go shopping with a dead line or the thought -" I have to hurry because I need to pick-up the kids by 2:30" Having this thought will override all of your ability to think clearly and before you know it you'll be buying a avocado green appliance because it was marked down $300.
2. Never go shopping when your hungry. I got hungry at 11:00am and didn't get to eat until 6pm. Is it any wonder why I bought I huge refrigerator - all I could think about was food.
3. Never go shopping when your tired. When I get tired I find myself wandering, aimlessly. All I can think about is when can I rest? Everything goes blurry and then I lose interest and start thinking, Why am I doing this?
4. Never go shopping without a plan. This step is the most important element and the thought that finally got me back on track. I called my Mom and asked for advise. After 5 minutes and the most politically correct benign answer, she finally said, "Think about where you want to be and not where you are" This sentence made the light bulb go on. I grabbed a snack and headed out to buy a refrigerator.
They deliever the box on friday. My food will probably be all spoiled by then, but I needed to clean out the refrigerator anyway.
The refrigerator is stainless steel and doesn't match anything but my kitchen drawer knobs and very old cook top ( actually that's hideous rotted chrome).
Now, I just need to talk my husband in to buying the matching stovetop, microwave, dishwasher and stove.

Eating right and getting fit in the New Year

Found a new blog to read about fitness and health. If your trying to lose weight, eat better and exercise more this year then check this blog out. He calls himself the, " Worlds Fittest Man" - and by the sound of his bio and his workouts he probably is. His workouts are way beyond my level but he is inspiring. Check out his list of the best/worst foods to eat.
Here's his list of "Super Foods"
-Black beans
-Dark (not milk) chocolate
-Sweet potato (or pumpkin)
-Salmon (preferably wild)
-Tea (preferably green)
Sources: "12 Best Foods Cookbook," by Dana Jacobi; "SuperFoods Rx: Fourteen Foods That Will Change Your Life," by Steven G. Pratt and Kathy Matthews

Anybody got a recipe that has 4 or more of these foods in them?

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Happy Birthday

Surprise. Happy 15th Birthday. 10 teenagers- more girls than guys, brothers and their friends, lots of food: pizza, salad, chicken wings, chips, soda, dips and CAKE, music, ping-pong, guitar hero and presents - all gift cards = one happy young man and one very proud mom.
5'11 1/2', 156 lbs, great smile, smart and Cool.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Martin Luther King Day

Today is Martin Luther King day and all the kids are home from school. Government workers and postal employees get the day off, but for most people it's just another day. I spent the day cleaning the house, washing clothes, shampooing the carpet again where the dog peed again and later discovering that my refrigerator is dying (it peed all over the kitchen floor). It rained today and so in San Diego that means that everyone tries to stay home because we hate the cold ( below 60), because we don't know how to drive in the rain, and because we hate the cold. Needless to say I didn't really celebrate MLK day. I have often thought it was a dumb holiday thrown in at a time of the year when we don't need any more days off . But today I made an effort to learn more about the man. Here's what I discovered

1. He graduated from high school at 15

2. In 1955 he led the bus boycott that lasted 382 days

3. During the boycott he was arrested and his home was bombed

4. In 11 years he traveled over 6 million miles, spoke 2,500 times and wrote 5 books

5. He was arrested 20 times & assaulted 4 times

6. He was awarded 5 honorary degrees.

7. He was named Man of the Year by Time magazine in 1963

8. He was 35 when he received the Nobel Peace Prize, the youngest man ever

9. He donated his prize money, $54,123 to further the Civil Rights movement

10. On April 4th 1968 he was assassinated

In college I was required to write an essay about discrimination. After I thought about it for a while I came to the conclusion that I didn't know anything about discrimination. I am a tall, thin, white, middle-class, educated and married woman. If I have ever experienced discrimination it has been very marginaly and certainly never to the degree that minorities know.

Martin Luther King day has yet to be commercialized so we really don't know what to do. We don't decorate our houses, send cards, buy presents or sing songs. Maybe in a couple of years MLK day will be bigger and more respected but for day I quietly sit at my keyboard and send a big thank you to a man who was truly remarkable, brave, determined and gifted and who made a big difference in the world.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Lego knitting machine

I knit just a little bit faster but not nearly as pretty.

Friday, January 18, 2008

But you can call me Lady

My Peculiar Aristocratic Title is:
Lady Madame Janet the Elegant of Great Leering
Get your Peculiar Aristocratic Title

The key word in the sentence is "peculiar". Check yours out.
FYI - if you don't like the first result try again.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

The come-back meal

Not to be defeated by a single days event,today I decided early on that I would make a great come-back meal. And so I did. I made baked ham ( so easy), homemade macaroni and cheese ( so yummy), fresh green beans, baked yams, cornbread and peanut butter and chocolate chip cookies. We ate like Kings (Southern Kings) and it was great. Not as much fun but so good. Lots of sweet ham leftovers but most of the macaroni and cheese is gone. I've got teenage boys and they eat like pigs.
With that triumph I have made a few decisions -
1. Roasting is easy and I plan to do it at least once a week. Roast beef, baked ham, roast chicken - how easy is putting a chunk of meat in the oven and letting it cook? Now that's what I call -fix-it and forget-it. Plus you get leftovers. Hey it's a win-win deal
2. Never ever buy Hamburger helper.
3. When I don't feel like cooking - don't cook. The consequences are too serious.
4. Good food is always real.
Next big win of the day -
I finished knitting the lace pattern for my second sleeve. My heart did skip a beat when I first picked-up my knitting because I couldn't exactly remember if I had just finished knitting row 23 or was I now starting row 23. Those stitch counters could use a little improvement. I am now in safe territory of good ol' boring St st. Yeah baby!!!
I see a FO and myself wearing my new sweater.

Mac and cheese recipe -
3 tbsps melted butter
3 tbsps flour
1/2 tsp salt & dash of pepper - stir together and add-in
1 1/2 cups of milk
cover ( I use a paper plate)and microwave for 2-3 mins.
stir and cover and microwave for 2/3 mins. until desired thickness
Add shredded cheese
cook elbow macaroni (approx 2 cups I've never measured), drain and add to cheese sauce.
Stir and serve.
So good
Try different cheeses.
I like to microwave this recipe because then I don't burn the sauce.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

What's for Dinner?!!

Tonight's meal receives the dubious honor of being the worst meal I have ever made in my entire life. This meal replaces applesauce meatloaf ( hey it was Betty Crocker recipe), crock pot stew also know as - meat mush and bean soup. All were truly awful, awful meals. Scary to look at smell or eat. Applesauce meatloaf started out as most of my disasters do with all the best intentions of being a good meal. I carefully read the directions for meatloaf and when I didn't have all the ingredients tryed to make something new. The recipe for meatloaf has a little foot note that says if you want to try something different , blah, blah, blah and before I knew it I was putting applesauce into my meatloaf. It doesn't even sound good but I made it and my poor husband sat and silently ate it and then put the leftovers away and never touched the stuff again. I threw it away a week later at which point it really looked and smelled awful. But I had to go through the routine of believing that I was going to eat some more and not waste all those otherwise good ingredients who became shamed when they were combined.

Crock pot stew began early in the morning on what was an extremely busy day for me. I was going to night school at the time and the boys were in little league. Three different fields for three boys and one Dad to shuttle the crew. I had a crock pot and had bought a recipe book, "Fix-it and Forget it". Well that's what I did. I carefully cut the veggies and meat and layered them in the pot with the exact amount of water and seasoning, thinking all along of how wonderful the meal was going to be and how happy everyone would be to come home and have a hot meal after playing in the cold. I was at a break in my class when I called home and was anxious to hear the reaction. My husband sad, " well uh, it was okay". Now I was puzzled. Did the boys like it? Andrew calls it meat mush. I could see that. Crock pots have a way of taking pieces of food and cooking them into a blob of indiscernible mass. Yes it was possible to have stew that looked like mush. "Well do we have any cereal?"

Bean soup - not split pea soup - bean soup looks like grog or something they served at an orphanage in England. Yuck.

Fast forward to tonight's meal. Most of the time I manage to make good meals. I'm not a talented cook but with some planning and effort I can make a pretty good meal, but there are those days when I can't make toast. Today I was at the store and began staring at a box of hamburger helper. I have carefully avoided this product for many, many years. I have always thought that even the picture on the box looked creepy but today for some unknown reason I began to think that bacon cheeseburger meal sounded pretty good.

It was awful beyond even the most in depth explanation of the word awful. I knew that I had a catastrophe on my hands. It has a strange artificial taste to it that reeks of preservatives and fake flavors. They put it right on the front of the box, "artificial flavors" Strike one. Usually when I know that a meal isn't going to be that good I make dessert so that I can offset the problem. But tonight I thought we needed some bread to make things better. I decided to make beer bread, it's fast, simple and I have all the ingredients. Beer bread - 2 cups of self rising flour, 5 tablespoons of sugar, one bottle of beer. Usually yummy, yummy good. No problem. I forgot to let it sit for 5 minutes, I forgot what temperature to cook it at, and I forgot how long to let it cook. In my defense I did check it with a toothpick in three places but when I cut the bread the center was goo. Strike two.

Fortunately, I was able to open a can of fruit cocktail and was well stocked with whipped cream (Costco sells a three pack) and I sprinkled cinnamon and sugar on top.

As bad as the food was the meal turned out to be one of the best family gatherings we have ever had. Everyone made jokes about how bad the food was. My 2nd son is very, very funny and he began a comedy routine that made me laugh so hard my stomached ached. Thank you B you are a great son to take a Mom's worst moment and end up making it the best fun.


To all you dear people who like hamburger helper please forgive me. And if you know a way to make this stuff palatable please, please do share.

To be a sleeve or not to be a sleeve

This is the second sleeve to my beautiful sweater. I know it doesn't look like a sleeve but it should because I have knitted it 3 times. It is a very stubborn sleeve that simply refuses to cooperate. In my novice state of knitting I have now learned that it turns out there are external forces that must be in proper alignment in order for a project to be completed. Things like biorhythms, hormones and feng shui do effect ones knitting ability. There really is such a thing as a knitting goddess (but I'm Catholic!) that I must acknowledge and that no matter how determined/ stubborn you are there are times when you must simply let a project rest for a while. I did and now I have returned with a new calm and everything is going okay. I am on row 23 of the lace pattern. Only 8 rows until I have conquered the challenge and I move into safe knitting ( St st) I admit I am nervous but I believe in the 3rd times a charm idea.

In the mean time I received my new yarn. Which I am happy to report looks just like the picture when I ordered it.

Rowans all season cotton yarn in #208 called Glad. To be used for "FREE PATTERN". At this point I don't dare predict a start date. I thought I was going to be finished with "lace" for Thanksgiving. Either way I hope the goddess of knitting will be with me tonight... because Ive got to knit.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Top 10 Dieting and Exercise Tips

I've read on many blogs that losing weight is one of the big New Years Resolutions. I was generously blessed with a high metabolism and have never really had a weight problem however, I dieted a lot after all 6 of my pregnancies. Therefore I would like to share my best dieting and exercise tips

1. Ankle weights and hand weights in the morning. Weight lifting tones and shapes and it increases your metabolism. So if you work out in the morning ( just put the weights on and walk around the house for twenty minutes) then the rate that your body burns calories will be raised for the entire day. I have used ankle weights for many, many years and never had a problem with my knees - but if that is your concern then try them for a little bit and see how your body responds. The small ones only weigh 1.5 pounds and I think some shoes weigh that much so you should be able to handle it. Use the hand weights to do stretches.

2. Do sit-ups in bed. I hate lying down on the ground and so I never did sit-ups. Who says that you have to be really uncomfortable to do sit-ups? If I "work out" in bed then I do a full range of exercises and I do them in the morning and at night.

3. Practise good posture. It doesn't make any sense to me that you can have a firm stomach after exercising for 20 minutes and the rest of the day slouch. These muscles need to be worked and used all day long. Stand up straight, you will look better and your abs and back muscles will get used.

4. Eat breakfast and then eat a second breakfast. If your not hungry for breakfast then you are probably eating to much the night before. Don't skip breakfast. Even if your not hungry eat something it breaks the fast and gets your metabolism working for the day. Eat another breakfast around 10am. In fact I probably eat 3 meals and 3 snacks throughout the day but I rarely eat after dinner. You will find that by eating smaller meals and snacks that you won't be hungry and you will be able to stick to your diet.

5. Eat cocoa puffs or cinnamon swirls or some cereal for a sweet treat. When you get a craving for something chocolaty or sweet - eat a bowl of cereal. You will be satisfied, be able to eat more and save a lot of calories ( don't eat a giant bowl though)

6. Brush your teeth after eating. It will leave a fresh feeling in your month and you won't want to eat.

7. Chew gum or use mints to cure a sweet craving.

8. Never eat out of the bag or box. I always put my food in a bowl. Portion control is very important and if your eating out of a bag you won't be able to see how much you have eaten

9. Listen to music when you exercise - don't watch T.V. When you watch T.V. you want to sit down and relax but when you listen to music it makes you want to get up and move

10. Eat before you go to a party - then nibble when you get there.

Bonus Tip -

Get a fun piece of exercise equipment. If you really like the Leg Magic, or the Red - Get One! Equipment is fun and it makes the whole idea a lot more bareable. If you do buy one get in on Craigs list or some other used place. There are a lot of people who bought these items new and then never used them.

Good Luck on your diets and remember - You will never regret skipping that extra serving or piece of cake but you'll always be happy to fit into a smaller size.