Wednesday, November 30, 2011

What a day!!

What a day it was!!

Seriously, what a day!

I finished reading The Night Circus.

This book was recommended on NPR (yes, I'm a total dork who listens to NPR whenever I'm in the car).  If you're looking for something to read I fully recommend this book.  It's basically a story about an elegant Night Circus (open from dusk until dawn), which is the venue for an on going challenge between two "magicians".  They're not fighting each other but rather continually trying to one-up the other and at the same time falling in love.  I don't describe it very well (probably why I don't write book sleeves).  My only problem is that it tells the main story line which is set in one time line at the same time that it tells a minor story line which is set in the future.  If you read the chapter titles it's very clear from the beginning what the year is but I don't tend to pay much attention to chapter titles so I was a little lot confused at first. lol!

Now I've started A Discovery of Witches, which was recommended by a friend.  And while 99% of the time I finish a book before starting the next one, you best believe that if Mockingjay (book 3 of Hunger Games) becomes available while I'm in the middle of it, I will stop to finish that series.  I don't know that I've been so impatient to finish a series since Harry Potter.  I'm completely sucked into it and MUST know how it all ends. :)

Of course I also ate lunch.  Not very interesting and I didn't get a photo of it.

All I did was heat up some frozen California Veggie Mix (Broccoli, Cauliflower, & Carrots) then topped it with Nutritional Yeast and the left over Tempeh from the night before.

I may not have gotten a picture of my lunch but I did get one of this cute little guy just waiting for me to drop something...

Pretending not to look at me while his eyes watch my every move.

Then the Furnace Man came to do a check up.  Last Spring we had the AC checked and I signed us up to get it, and the furnace, checked regularly.  So I finally called to make the appointment for the furnace check and they said they'd come out that afternoon!  I was all ready with our calendar open so I could write it down and they say they can come out the same day.  Oh well, maybe next time I'll be prepared and get to actually use my pre-planning-ness. 

So anyway, the man came out and says, "Well, I've got some bad news.  You need a new furnace."  He had a little camera on a scope and showed me where our furnace was cracked and told me that the gasses are actually going out through our house and could make us sick.  Legally he couldn't even turn the heater back on. :(

Now, I told you my car wouldn't start on Monday.  It turns out I just needed a new battery.  Not cheep but it definitely could have been a LOT worse.  You know what's a LOT worse then the cost of a new car battery?  The cost of a new furnace.  But we're homeowners so we just have to roll with it.

Our fancy new furnace will be installed at some point today and then I'll be basking in warmth again. :)

In the afternoon I also took Kai to the Children's Museum to go see Santa.  She was super excited to go see him.  She was going to ask him for a horse.  She was talking about it all day. Then when it was our turn she got a serious case of the "shy" and wanted me to go tell him what she wanted. lol!  Fortunately Santa was really patient with her and did a good job of drawing her out of her shell.  She still wasn't about to have an actual conversation with him but we did wish him a Merry Christmas when we left.  I'm hoping to go back with the Hubs so I can get an actual picture of her with him. :)

And while we were in the museum the rain that hasn't seemed to stop in days became big fluffy snow flakes!  Kai was super excited and deemed that "Christmas had started".  :)

Eventually the day lead to dinner.  Again it was super quick.  Some frozen veggie mix heated up with black beans and then stirred in with some 90 second rice.  Rounded out with an Apple-pear.  YUM. YUM. YUM.

Everything tastes better when eaten with chopsticks.

Fingers crossed now that today will result in no breaks, shut downs, injuries or other misfortunes.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Happy Birthday Hubby!

As of Sunday the Hubs was officially older than me. lol!

So let's all give a big shout out... HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!

Yes, we sort of celebrated on Sunday.  I made him bacon & eggs for breakfast, he opened his present (which we'll be exchanging soon, lol!) then we had pizza for lunch and the Colts came so close to winning, there was buttered noodles & shrimp for dinner and all along we had Little Debbie Christmas Tree Cakes to celebrate with.
One of the Hub's Favorites!
Then last night we celebrated some more with my parents & BW3s, the Hub's favorite place to eat.  We actually wound up getting take-out and since they don't offer any meatless options I decided to make up my own food rather than spending $10 for a salad that's sub-par. :)

I started with some Tempeh.  This is actually the first time I've made anything with it but I've been wanting to for a LONG time.  It's basically like un-processed tofu. :)

All I did was cut it into bite size-ish pieces and marinate it in a bag with Rice Vinegar, Tamari Sauce (soy sauce), Liquid Smoke and some Maple Syrup until I was ready to cook it up.

Then it was pan fried so that the sides were nice and crispy.

And tossed on a spinach, carrot, sweet pepper and pumpkin seed salad.

When the food arrived we all sat down to eat.  I added a side of Buffalo Chips to my salad which I shared with my dad since he didn't get the fries we thought he would.  It worked out perfectly since I couldn't finish them anyway. :)

Then it was finally time for cake brownies...topped with white chocolate chips.  YUM!

And for those of you who were wondering, here's the design I made for my cousin & her uber tall fiance...

Read one way it says Felicia (her name) and read the other it says Cody.

This is the second time I've tried to create this style of name merging and I just love how it turned out.  People always think there's a formula to getting the letters to work together but it's really just about working with them until you get it to look the way you want.   Kind of like marriage, it takes some work but it's pretty awesome when you see the two parts come together.  :D

Monday, November 28, 2011

Ain't it always the case?

I don't think I told you this but we paid off our credit card a week or so ago. :) 

Yep, all paid off, just in time for Christmas. :)

Today I went to take Kai to school and my car wouldn't start!  It just sort of clicks.  I'm not sure what that means.  I'm hoping it's just the battery and not something REALLY expensive.  Later today my dad's going to come by and see if we can jump it.  Fingers crossed that works.  But in the mean time I'm preparing myself for having to fill up that Credit Card again.  Ain't that always the case?  You finally get it paid off and then you have to go and use it again for practical reasons.  :(

But on to better news...

I'm getting back on track.  This past weekend has been a complete mess as far as organized meals go.  It's been all left overs, delivery pizza and quick thrown-together meals.  Nothing worth mentioning at all. 

So this morning I decided to get my act together and make myself a real breakfast again.

Oatmeal it is!!  (of course)

Topped with Chia Seeds, Pumpkin Pie Spice, Chopped Dates and a SMALL drizzle of Molasses ...oh and a sliced 1/2 banana

Just the thing to get me going again. :)

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Thanksgiving Recap

Thanksgiving is over...Are you ready for Christmas yet?  lol!!

I know I disappeared on you yesterday but it's the Holidays, family's all home and I didn't even log on!  Plus we're in left-over mode so there's not a lot of food adventures to share...

Thursday was a wonderful celebration. :)  There was food of course...

Stuffing, Noodles, Sweet Potatoes & Mashed Potatoes

More Stuffing & Turkey

Homemade Rolls with Cinnamon Honey Butter,
Cranberry Sauce, Apple Salad,
Green Salad, Green Beans and Corn

Those included my green salad - Spinach & Greens mix, Dried Cranberries, Pomegranate Seeds, Chopped Dates, Chopped Gala Apple, Chopped Pears & Pecans; with Quinoa and a Cranberry-Orange Vinaigrette on the side.

Then there was lots of visiting with family....

Monster Hugs!!

Eating at the Kid's Table

Watching Football - what kind of a call was that???

Taking a break to snuggle with Daddy

And more running around!

Then on Thursday night Kai went to bed.  About an hour or so later the Hubs and I both raced to her room because she was coughing and it seemed that she couldn't get a breath!!  We've taken her to the ER once before when it turned our she had Croup and that's exactly what this sounded like again...but not quite as bad.  So long story short, Kai and I were up off and on most of the night going outside for some cool night air and then back inside for some steamy bathroom air.   By morning she was doing fine and the Hubs took over so I could get a few hours sleep. Now she's completely back to normal and back to watching Jingle Bells on Netflix for about the 100th time. :)

AND THEN IT WAS BLACK FRIDAY.  I was so tempted to go out at midnight for some $1 Old Navy Scarves but that didn't happen.  Even if Kai had been well I doubt I would have gone.  I don't know that early black friday shopping is any fun without friends to go out with.  We did drop Kai off at Grammy and Grandpa's so we could hit up Toys R Us and see if we could find any good deals.  It was a MAD HOUSE so we left pretty quickly.  We got lunch at Olive Garden (Hello unlimited salad, soup and bread sticks) and then stopped by Meijer to see if I could get Kai a $5 Cinderella Barbie-like doll but, of course, they were sold out.  We did get a good deal on some outdoor lights so now our outside is all LED'd.

Other than that there was Christmas Decorating and left overs.  Our plates look almost identical to our Thanksgiving plates.  It even turns our that Kai LOVES turkey.  She's usually not one to eat her meats so when she asked for more Turkey I was happily surprised...Anytime she asks for more of something that's not candy/dessert I'm happily surprised. :D

Now it's Saturday and we're still decorating.  The Hubs went out to buy an outside outlet for our deck and I've finished putting up tree #3 (yes, we go all our with the Christmas decor).  This afternoon is my cousin's Wedding Shower...I'll share with you all what I made her tomorrow.  Fingers crossed she likes it. :)

Thursday, November 24, 2011


There's so much to be Thankful for this year there's no way I could list it all...

A big happy family to celebrate the holidays with.
A group of friends that no one can beat.
Kai's thriving in her first year of school.
Frodo's healthy with no signs of an old back injury resurfacing (knock on wood)
A welcoming home & lots of comfy blankets to snuggle under.
Actually getting to experience Fall this year, instead of skipping straight to winter like it seems has happened the last couple of years.
My new blog friends. :)
More food successes than food failures
...And I am SUPER Thankful that I learned my lesson and will NEVER combine Franks Hot Sauce with the Popcorn Popper.

This year we're going to the Hub's sister's new home for Thanksgiving.  With their twin boys they needed more space and even though I've only been there once, I'm LOVING their new place.

My contribution to the Thanksgiving Feast this year is the Cranberry Sauce (NOT from a can).

As soon as I was asked to bring the sauce I e-mailed my Auntie Em (Yes, that would be my Aunt Emily, who I'm named after) to get her recipe.  It's just so good.  Then, since I can't leave good enough alone, I modified it to use the ingredients I had on hand.

2 Bags Fresh Cranberries
1 Navel Orange
1/2 C Maple Syrup

Peel the orange and put it, along with the cranberries and syrup into a blender.
Pulse until well blended but not perfectly smooth.
Chop the orange rind and add to the mix.
Let sit in the fridge over night.  (Taste periodically and add sweetener if desired)

I couldn't believe how simple it was to make!  You don't even have to cook the cranberries.  And seriously, once you have real cranberry sauce you'll never want to go back to the can. :)

I also asked if I could bring a green salad.   Since I'm not planning on having any turkey my original plan was to include quinoa in the salad so I'd have a protein.  But as I thought about it more, I decided to bring the quinoa on the side so that it could be added if wanted. 
And since I'm in a cranberry mood I made up some of this Vinaigrette to put on the salad....

Makes too much for just one bottle!
And then I decided to dehydrate the rest of the cranberries to add to the salad I plan to make. :)

Yep, definitely in a cranberry mood. 

I hope your Thanksgiving is a wonderful as I expect ours will be!  And hopefully you won't have to leave your celebrating too early to hit up the stores.  I'm still a little miffed that they're opening on Thanksgiving Day itself now.  I liked the idea of early risers going out to hunt down great bargins...Even if I have only done it once. :)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

I'd rather be reading :)

Yesterday I dropped by the library to pick up a book that was ready.  When I went to the alcove where the holds are I discovered I had THREE books ready. And one of them was Catching Fire, the sequel to Hunger Games!!!  Needless to say I'm going to keep this post short and sweet so I can get back to reading it. :D

Our Snack:  Looking for a quick, delicious and nutritious snack?  Well after school yesterday we got home and Kai told me she was hungry.  Did I mention that at school she enjoyed a Thanksgiving Feast and that for once she actually ate everything on her plate.  And ate all her dessert.  I refused to believe that she also needed to eat a Tuna Salad sandwich.  So instead I made us a dip to eat with some carrots and crackers.

Into the dip went equal parts Greek Yogurt and Avocado.  Mixed together they were creamy, tasty and perfectly filling. :)

Dinner was also thrown together quickly.  By that point I had obtained my book and just wanted to read.  If the Hubs had offered to go get take out I so would have agreed but alas, I had to put down my book and make something to put on our plates....

ME:  Soup
1/2 Sauteed Onion
1 Can Hunts No Salt Added Diced Tomatoes
1/2 Cup Cooked White Beans from our freezer
-brought to simmer & then blended until mostly smooth
Then I added bite size pieces of Kale leaf and some frozen Okra
Let that get warm and then enjoyed it with some Nutritional Yeast on top.

KAI: Nutritional Yeast & Jelly Sandwich with Veggies & Pretzels

HUBS:  BW3 Spicy Garlic Sauce Chicken Sandwich and Pretzels
- I just heated up some frozen chicken & added the store bought sauce to it. :)

...Ok time to get back to my book now... I only have about 35 pages left. :)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Dates, Yats & Pizza...Now that's a day!!

What's that you see on top of my pumpkin/oatmeal/almond milk concoction?...

Why it's dates of course!  I love that I'm restocked. :)

Yesterday my sister and nieces went with me to pick Kai up from school and then we were off to Yats for lunch. I couldn't wait to introduce it to my sister and I thought the girls would like it too.

Sadly I was wrong.  The girls most definitely did NOT like it. 

Well, they liked the bread.  And the plain rice.  And Adelaide storta' liked the Spinach Mushroom Etouffee.

But for the most part they didn't want anything to do with lunch.  Oh well, more for us. :)

Spinach Mushroom Etouffee and Succotash
I've said it before, but the VERY best thing about Yats is that it's just a few doors down from Yogulatte. (FYI: Yogulatte sells gift cards & Christmas is just around the corner - Hint, Hint mom, lol!)
Hello Pumpkin Yogurt!!! :D

Kai rocked out while Adelaide finished her yogurt.

Even Lorelei can't pass up yogurt!
After that we headed out so my sister could visit one of the schools she used to teach at.  It's actually our grade school alma mater and a really fun place!  Since it's a Montessori school the kids learn at their own pace and are allowed to discover things on their own.  Like I said, it's a really fun place.

Unfortunately I am not the best at giving directions and even thought I knew where we were at all times, and I knew exactly where the school was, I couldn't connect the two dots.  So we took a very scenic route to get there.  lol!!

After getting home and catching up on a lot of work I invited my sister, her girls and my dad over for dinner (my mom was working)...aka Pizza Night!

I had Spinach, Eggplant & Onion

The girl's mini pizzas

The Hub's sausage & cheese

My dad's Sausage, Eggplant & cheese

Abee & Lorelei shared an EVERYTHING Pizza...
sausage, eggplant, onion, spinach & cheese

For the pizzas I made up the "options" and crust ahead of time so once everyone arrived we could make up the pizza and eat.

Spinach:  clean & chop
Eggplant:  Sliced into discs, dipped in a mix of Tamari Sauce (soy sauce) & Liquid Smoke, and roasted at 400°
Onion: Sliced and Sauteed until good and brown. :)
Sausage: Bought pre-cooked, heated in the microwave & crumbled
Sauce: Literally Tomato Sauce + Italian Seasoning & Basil
Mozzarella Cheese: Store bought
Olive Oil, Minced Garlic, etc...
Crust: See Below

1 packet Yeast
1 T Honey
1 C Hot Water
3 C Whole Wheat Pastry Flour + 1/2 C if needed
1/2 C Olive Oil

Mix the honey in warm water and gently stir in the yeast until dissolved.  Let sit in a warm dry place until a film forms on the top.
In a mixing bowl (I use my Kitchen Aid mixer) mix the 3 C flour, Olive Oil & Yeast + Water.
Kneed for 5 minutes.  If still sticky slowly add the remaining flour & continue to kneed.
Form the dough into a ball and put in a bowl coated with Olive Oil (the olive oil will allow the dough to grow).  Let sit for about 40 minutes then punch it down and let it sit for another 30 or so minutes.
Divide the dough into the number of Pizzas you want to make (I made 4 adult size & 2 small).

Top your dough & bake on a stone at 500° until the cheese is browned. 
Slice & Enjoy

Monday, November 21, 2011

Cooking Again

Well the weekend is over. :(

But there's really only 3 days this week and then it's Thanksgiving Day!!!  :D

Yesterday I headed over to my mom's so we could continue to visit with my sister and nieces.   Since my sister has gotten into running I joined her on a run.  I made it one mile but since I don't run we're considering that a total win.  Now, I don't know if a mile run will come close to compensating for eating an entire bag of Popchips Saturday night but hey, it's better than nothing. lol!

Lunch was Thanksgiving left overs and BBQ Chicken Sandwiches.  I stuck to the leftovers and was still completely stuffed.  Have I mentioned that I love Thanksgiving? There's nothing better than good food, family & friends.

For dinner I finally had to start cooking again.  Actual meals.  Not just reheated left overs.

And none of our plates looked even remotely the same.   

Me: Salad & Acorn Squash

Hubs:  Wild Sauce Chicken Wrap

Kai: Hodgepodge

The acorn squash was the same as I've been making (click here).

My Salad included:  Spinach, Lettuce, Quinoa, Pomegranate Seeds, Dates (thanks's to my sister), Chopped apple, Pecans, and Avocado...I think that's everything.  I just kept adding and adding. :)

The Hub's wrap started by grilling a piece of chicken on the George Foreman Grill.  Once it was done I sliced it into strips and added some BW3 Wild Sauce.  I laid that on a whole grain wrap with some lettuce and Kraft Mexican Cheese.  That's it - as simple as it gets.

Kai's was an odd assortment of both our plates. :)

Then for dessert there was the left over pumpkin pie.  So I guess we are still enjoying some leftovers!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Thanksgiving...Part 1

Ah, I love Thanksgiving.  I'm so thankful to have a big happy family!!

Yesterday was our first Thanksgiving celebration.  We've always celebrated the Saturday before with my mom's side of the family.  She's 1 of 8 Brothers & Sisters, I'm one of 16 Grandkids and there are 25 Great Grandkids - plus spouses!!  Granted not everyone can make it every year, but there's always a good group. :)

...and a good spread of food!

Of course my camera never even came out of my purse so I didn't get many any pictures.  BUT my mom did.  So I've "stolen" her photos so I could share some of them with you. :)

Turkey, Stuffing, Potatoes, Sweet Potatoes, Green Beans, Assorted Berry dishes,
Salads, Eggs, Broccoli casseroles, fruit salad, humus and more!!

Not my plate but mine was definitely piled as high as this one!

[not shown: the dessert table tables.
Yes, there were so many cookies, pies, candies & cake that we had to add a second table!!]

Thankfully the food was plentiful, because I was eating like a Hobbit...I think I had several servings for lunch, then I had a couple servings of second lunch, and then I had a snack...Somehow I just kept gravitating back to the food.  lol!!

I had Dressing (It's the dressing I grew up on and is SUCH a Thanksgiving treat - the kind of treat you don't ever want to know what's in it because that would just ruin the magic, lol!), Sweet Potato Casserole (provided my moi), green beans, LOTS of cranberry (which I've gotten the recipe for and will be making for Thanksgiving Day), Carrots, A Spinach Salad, and Pumpkin Humus & Veggies (also brought by me).

It was such a fun day.  I really can't convey how much I love seeing my family.  The only down side?  We never broke out the Catch Phrase.  Come Christmas, we'll definitely have to make sure we play.  I always leave that game with my cheeks in pain from laughing so much. :D

OK... On to some recipes. :)

5 large sweet potatoes
5 T Maple Syrup
1.5 C Pecans (chopped)
2 T Ground Flax Seed
2 T Whole Wheat Flour
1/4 C Raisins
1/4 C Maple Syrup

Pre-heat the oven to 350°.
Clean off the Sweet Potatoes and poke with a fork.  Put into the hot oven and let roast for an hour + until the inside is soft.  Remove from oven and let cool so that they're easy to handle.  The skins will just peel right off - discard them. :)
Mash the skinless sweet potatoes with the 5 T Maple Syrup & Pumpkin Pie Spice. 
Spread in a casserole dish.
(I did all of this the night before so that all I had to do in the morning was mix the topping & bake).

To make the topping mix the pecans, flax seed, flour, raisins and syrup in a bowl & spread over the mashed sweet potatoes. 
Put everything back into the oven (at 350°) and bake for 50 minutes.
All done. :)

Sweet Potato Base


Done!  (I did spritz it with butter to help it "golden up" but I don't really think that did any thing. lol!

I also made Pumpkin Humus and served it in a pretty pumpkin bowl along with some Pretzels, Apple Slices, Carrots, Sweet Pepper and Cucumber.

Even though I LOVE the food and seeing my family, one of the VERY BEST parts was that my sister decided at the last minute to make the 5 hour drive down with her 2 little girls!!!
I'm not sure who took this picture of us laughing but I love it!
And what makes her visit even better?  She brought me 2 (!!) containers of chopped dates with oat flour.


And the Hub's favorite part?

Coming home with this...

He loves his pumpkin pie!