Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Variables

While I love any and all things LOST and wouldn't miss an episode, I still feel like this one was a little anticlimactic. I mean when you compare it to the days of Boone dying just before they could cut off his leg with a big door, or John not pushing the button, or watching Charlie drown it just seems a little blah.

I think they tried to be all surprising and revealing but come on, we all already knew that Eloise was Daniel's mom and that Whidmore was Daniel's dad. We also knew that the hatch was built over the magic energy source. I don't think anyone thought Desmond was dead, did they?

I guess the big startling revelations for the night were:

1. Mr. "Whatever Happened Happened" is now changing his tune and thinks he can change the future.

2. Eloise is the worst parent EVER. Even by LOST standards she takes the prize.

3. Daniel is dying. Normally I would never believe that a character was dead when left bleeding at the end of an episode, but....Daniel made a big point of saying that anyone could die in "the present" and in the scenes from next week Jack is using Daniel's journal to figure out what to do, SO.....he's a goner. He'll be back at some point though, I'm sure.

4. The magic energy source is not the hydrogen bomb itself. I always thought that the Dharma people dug into the leaking ancient bomb, thus causing all of their problems. Apparently not. I'm not sure how blowing up the bomb will solve anything, but I'm not a relativistic physicist so why would I?

5. Daniel had lost his memory due to experimenting on himself too much. The island healed him. He does seem a lot more together (at least using full sentences) than he did when he first got there.

The Questions this episode raised are:

Why did Eloise send Daniel back if she was just going to shoot him? If sending him back would have meant saving the island or the people on it or whatever than it might have been worth it (more Jesus imagery there), but just to send him back to kill him? Doesn't seem to make sense.

Jack is a doctor and smart and all but do any of us really think he can #1 decipher anything Daniel has written and #2 figure out how to unearth, and detonate a 30 year old hydrogen bomb safely?

And just who is going to pilot the sub if Sawyer and the gang decide to escape from the island? It's not like riding a bike. I'm not sure that plan was very well thought out.

Why didn't they keep the same 50's Eloise actress? That was confusing.

Do the Losties really want the plane not to crash? Jack will be a drunk, depressed struggling surgeon. Charlie will be a heroine addict and struggling musician. Claire will give Aaron up for adoption. Jin and Sun will be in a childless struggling marriage. Sawyer and Juliette will never have met. John will be confined to a wheel chair for the rest of his life. Rose will have cancer. Kate will get the electric chair. Even the Others have it better than that.

The best lines of the night go to Sawyer. His nicknames cracked me up again. He called Daniel "Twitchy" and "HG Wells". Hilarious. (On a side note it seems that his calling Kate "Freckles" really ticked off Juliette. He might want to let that one go.)

BTW, how many episodes are left? (Translated how much time do I have to read The Brothers Karamazov?)
For more theories check out the LOST Books Challenge.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Seeing Green

Our church recently added a new feature to our website. We now have daily devotions written by various members of the congregation. Sometimes the devotions follow the topic of the most recent sermon and sometimes they are on totally unrelated subjects.

I was asked to write a 5 day series of devotions based on the Sunday School lessons I taught about Creation Care. My devotions started posting this Monday. If you would like to read them you can follow the links below.

Day One Green is the New Black

Day Two This is My Father's World

Day Three Use it Up or Pass it On

I'll post links to all five devotions in the series on my sidebar at the end of the week.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Project Homemade: Yogurt

As promised I'm here this week to report on my homemade yogurt experiment.

In a was great! As a matter of fact I'm eating it this morning as I type this.

I followed (very closely) the directions I found at Kitchen Stewardship and everything happened just as she said it would. I made two quarts of yogurt yesterday afternoon and I'm eating it this morning....that's pretty cool.

Even though I made two identical jars of yogurt they did not turn out the same as far as consistency. One was much thicker with a layer of whey on top, while the other was a little more runny (but not too runny).

I will say that I did have to overcome a little mental hurdle in order to stick my spoon into a jar of rotten curdled milk and eat it, but as soon as I tasted it my taste buds told my brain that I was eating yogurt and all was well. We'll see if I can get the kids to eat it. I may have to just put it into smoothies for them.

There really isn't any need for me to post the recipe here since I could never do it as well as Katie already did at Kitchen Stewardship, but I'll give you a brief overview so you can see if you even want to head over to KS and try it out.

You just put milk in to glass jars and then heat them up in a pot of boiling water to kill the (bad) bacteria. You then put the jars of hot milk in to the fridge and let them cool down until they are at the perfect temperature to grow (good) bacteria. Just stir 2 Tbsp. of store bought yogurt in to each jar and close them back up.

Then all you need to do is keep them warm for several hours while the bacteria grows. Placing the jars in a cooler along side a pan of boiling water will give them a nice steamy place to flourish. When they have reached the consistency and tartness that you like (mine sat for 5 hours but I think I might do 6 next time) take them out and put them in the freezer for one hour. That's it. Stick them in the fridge and voila! you've got yogurt.

For more detailed instructions, explanations and encouragement go to Kitchen Stewardship.

For more great tips and recipes check out Tempt My Tummy Tuesdays and Kitchen Tip Tuesdays.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Manic Monday

Friday, April 24, 2009

I Wuv You!

Kinley has really started to talk circles around us all. It is completely possible to carry on a full conversation with her....and even understand everything she says.

I always love it when they get to this stage. The things they say just crack me up. I remember Ryker saying, "I wike your wips." one time when I was wearing bright lipstick. And this was the age when Cainan started saying, "That's dickly-us" (meaning ridiculous). It is also the age when they finally start to say "I Love You."

I have to admit, I've been trying to get Kinley to say it for a while now. Everytime I say "I Love You" she says "OK". (Obviuosly she is taking lessons from her nine year old brother.) So I started telling her to say "I Love You Too". She does repeat it after me but it's not the same as her just spontaneously saying it.

That's why I was so thrilled when one day out of the blue she said,"I wuv you SOOOOOO much." I couldn't believe it....mostly becuase I never say it that way. I didn't know where she picked it up by I was excited. I did notice that she had added an extra incomprehensible syllable on to the end of 'much'. I asked her to say it again and again but I still couldn't figure out what she was saying.

Finally exasperated with me she said, "Mommy you the pince and me the pincess. I wuv you sooooo much, pince."

I'll take what I can get. "I love you sooooo much, princess."

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Evil Under the Sun

I've got one more book under my belt for the LOST Books Challenge. Three down and two to go.

If you'd like to read my review of Agatha Christie's Evil Under the Sun you can check it out here.

As always you can find all of my book reviews here and a list of the books I've read this year right over there on my sidebar.
Happy Reading!

'Nuff Said

I'd like to sign my name to this letter too.

Take that, Fashion Industry!

Check it out.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Easter Finery

Contrary to what this post said, I didn't completely forget about my Easter dress. I did end up finding some fabric eventually and making a really cute dress. (Unfortunately this is the best picture I have of it. Yes, I am talking instead of smiling, but Kinley had her eyes we went with this shot.)

This one was much easier than the jacket I made last year. It literally only had 6 pieces and was a snap to put together. The only thing that made it a little more dificult was the fabric. It was way too shear so I had to essentially make two dresses, one as a lining for the other one. But other than that is was no big deal at all. I didn't even break a needle!!
Here are all 3 of the kids on Easter morning....after the infamous egg hunt. Can you tell we went with a teal theme this year?
I do have a question for you sewing types out there though. If you don't have a dressmakers dummy how do you sew based on measurements?

I didn't fit all 3 measurements for any one size listed on the back of the pattern, so I made the one I thought would be closest, but I still had to take it in by 4 inches on the top. Could I have avoided this? Is there a way to translate your actual measurements to a pattern before cutting out the fabric pieces?
I've never had a sewing class or anything so I usually just fly by the seat of my pants and follow the directions as best I can, but sometimes I just really don't know alternate ways to do things. Any help?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A Pocket Full of Pitas

Well, I've done the homemade granola bars, pizza dough , bagels and of course tons of other homemade breads. So it was only natural that I should make my own pita bread as well.

I've always liked pita pockets ever since my Grandma Kagy introduced me to them when she went on her big diet back in the late 80s. She stuffed them with bean sprouts and tuna and all other manner of yummy, but healthy stuff. Since then I haven't eaten pitas very often because of the expense. But when I found this recipe over at my new favorite foodie site, I decided to make my own and see how they turned out.

If you haven't been to Confections of a Foodie Bride you need to check it out. She combines great recipes with good writing and funny anecdotes. She posted this Whole Wheat Pita Bread recipe which she originally found in Gourmet magazine. There doesn't appear to be anything too gourmet about it though, so don't let that scare you off. I made 8 pitas from ingredients I already had in my cupboard in one afternoon. There is quite a bit of rising time involved, but if you are going to be at home anyway, it's no big deal...just plan to start in plenty of time to have them done for supper.

Without further ado........Whole Wheat Pitas

1 package active dry yeast
1 Tbsp honey
1 1/4 cups warm water (105–115°F)
1 1/2 cups bread flour or high-gluten flour, plus additional for kneading
1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp salt
Cornmeal for sprinkling baking sheets

Stir together yeast, honey, and 1/2 cup warm water in a large bowl, then let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. (If mixture doesn’t foam, discard and start over with new yeast.)

While yeast mixture stands, stir together flours in another bowl. Whisk 1/2 cup flour mixture into yeast mixture until smooth, then cover with plastic wrap and let stand in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled in bulk and bubbly, about 45 minutes.

Stir in oil, salt, remaining 3/4 cup warm water, and remaining 2 1/2 cups flour mixture until a dough forms. Turn out dough onto a floured surface and knead, working in just enough additional flour to keep dough from sticking, until dough is smooth and elastic, 8 to 10 minutes. Form dough into a ball and put in an oiled large bowl, turning to coat. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let dough rise in draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

Set oven rack in middle of the oven. Preheat oven to 500°F. Punch down dough and cut into 8 pieces. Form each piece into a ball. Flatten 1 ball, then roll out into a 6 1/2- to 7-inch round on floured surface with a floured rolling pin. Transfer round a baking sheet lightly sprinkled with cornmeal. Make 7 more rounds in same manner, arranging them on baking sheets. Loosely cover pitas with a clean kitchen towel and let stand at room temperature 30 minutes.

Transfer 4 pitas, 1 at a time, directly onto oven rack. Bake until just puffed and pale golden, about 2 minutes. Turn over with tongs and bake 1 minute more. Cool pitas on a cooling rack 2 minutes, then stack and wrap loosely in a kitchen towel to keep pitas warm. Bake remaining pitas in same manner. Serve warm.

Source: Gourmet, May 2003

*MY NOTES: I did serve my pitas warm (and miracle of miracles the picky kids liked them) but I also found that they kept very well in a Ziploc bag for a couple of days. A couple of my pitas did not puff enough to form a big pocket. We just used these as a flat bread and dipped them in guacamole and hummus or made sandwich wraps with them. I think making sure the oven is VERY hot helps them puff more.

Overall....a huge success! Next on the homemade food challenge list: Yogurt. Check in next week to see how it went.

For more great recipes and tips check out Tempt My Tummy Tuesday or Kitchen Tip Tuesdays.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Manic Monday

Friday, April 17, 2009

I've Got a Whole New Bag

I went in to JoAnn Fabrics a while back to see if they had any material that would work for my Easter dress. I ended up falling in love with a purse they had hanging in a display. I bought the pattern, two styles of fabric, and forgot about the dress.

I made this bag instead.

It has four pockets on the inside and two on the outside. Its perfect for easy access to my cell phone and keys. I also really loved the big button and the loop closure. The handles are too short to go over my shoulder....which is inconvenient sometimes, but other than that I love it!

I've already got orders for two more in different fabrics. This bag is irresitible.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

A Bone

For those of you who don't follow LOST and find this blog very boring on Thursdays......I'm throwing you a bone.

I have two new book reviews up here if you'd like to read them.

Come back tomorrow for pics of recent sewing projects.

And start watching the best show on television for goodness sake!!!

Some Like It Hoth *Updated*

As soon as I saw the title of the episode I knew there was going to be a Star Wars connection in there somewhere. I think it is hilarious, and so typical, that Hurley would be trying to write The Empire Strikes Back...with a few improvements. I'm sure George Lucas will be thrilled. And although I don't agree with the sentiment, I think the award for funniest line of the night once again goes to Hurley for, "Let's face it. Ewoks suck dude."

This episode didn't really accomplish a lot story wise but it was nice to have our suspicions confirmed that Miles really is Dr. Chang's son. It was nice of the writers to let Hurley, once again, ask the questions about Marvin Candle/Dr. Chang's name changes, that we've all been asking for a while now. Too bad Miles didn't have an answer. I did enjoy seeing a little more of Miles' back story. We never really did find out why he has his "gift" though, did we?

Of course we also got our first look at the building of the hatch and the first inkling that electromagnetism is going to start causing a lot of problems on the addition to pulling fillings through one's brain. I think the biggest thing that happened in this episode is that Daniel Farraday is back!!! Wooo Hooo! I have no idea how he left or how he got back, but I'm thrilled that he is here because he seems to be the only one that has this time travel thing under control and can remember everything and everyone from all time periods that he has visited. It things are going to get straightened out in the space-time continuum then I think Daniel is the man for the job.

I also assume that Juliette's "Well. Here we go," was a reference to the beginning of the war with the hostiles. This must be the incident that starts it all. No surprise that Roger would be the one to stir it all up. Boy, I really don't like that guy. Almost makes me feel sorry for Ben...almost.

The big question raised in this episode was, "Who is Dram?" I have no clue who he is working for. Ben would be the logical conclusion...or Eloise Hawking maybe? I know it'll all be cleared up in time, it's just more waiting. We should be good at that by now.

*Updated* Apparently Dram/Bram/guy driving black van is one of the guys on the island helping Ilana. I didn't even recognize him. They are now affectionately being called "The Shadow of the Statue Crew" since the term "Others" was already taken.

For more thoughts on this episode check out The LOST Books Challenge.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Egg-asperating Easter

My kids' picky eating habits have been well documented on this blog. Well, it's time to add another food to the list. Hard-boiled eggs. They love scrambled eggs, fried eggs and cookie dough containing raw eggs but they won't touch a hard-boiled egg with a ten foot pole. And this time I can't blame it on my husband....I know it's my fault.

I don't like eggs in general. The thought of eating an animal embryo just kind of grosses me out. I will eat fried eggs if they are over hard and have absolutely NO liquid coming out of them....and are covered in ketchup. I also like scrambled eggs if they are cooked really dry. But I have never liked hard-boiled eggs. I'll eat a few stray pieces of one that ends up in my salad but I would never just eat one as is. That said, I love devilled eggs....moslty because of the mayonaise, which is the same reason that Brian hates them.

Suffice it to say that hard-boiled eggs have never been a menu item at our house. Which is a problem when it comes to Easter. What do I do with 3 dozen pink, blue, green and purple hard-boiled eggs? I might as well just throw them all out, because nobody here is going to eat them. I used to take devilled eggs to our Easter dinners, but that only works every other year when we are with my family. When we are with Brian's family his Grandma is famous for her delicious devilled eggs, so I can't bring mine.

My solution: Leave them raw. Yep, we hunted raw eggs last year and this year...with varying degrees of success. The dyeing process has worked fine with the raw eggs. In two years (and including a 2 year old in the fun) we haven't broken any eggs while dyeing them. Last year we hunted them all without breaking a single one either. But this year was different story.

#1 it was too cold to hunt the eggs outside. #2 Brian, as usual, couldn't be around for the big egg hunt because of his duties at church. #3 I was videotaping. I don't like to hear my disembodied voice on the tapes later when we watch them back so I try not to talk while I'm taping. This leads to a ridiculous series of futile hand motions and finger snapping which make for a very shaky picture and leaves me unable to scream warnings at the children who are about to drop raw eggs on my carpet. As a matter of fact when we watch this year's tape we will hear several series of grunts and sighs and see my hand reach out to resuce an egg or two from certain destruction many times.

Yes, we had three eggs broken this year. Two on the carpet. One in the middle of the room.

My 9 year old dropped and broke the very first egg he touched, just 30 seconds after the big speech about being careful and remembering that the eggs are raw and will break easily. That egg landed behind an end table and up against the baseboard so I wasn't too worried about it. I let the kids continue hunting while I recorded it all for posterity. We managed to find all of the other eggs without incident....except for the last one.

The last egg was up on a shelf. I felt sorry for Kinley because her brothers had only let her find 4 or5 eggs. I asked Ryker to help her climb up on her little table to retrieve the final egg while I was busy cleaning up the first egg mess. She climbed the table and got the egg with no problem but on the way down she dropped it and it broke right on her table. No big deal. However, as she was climbing off of the table she stepped in her basket and crushed another egg....right through the wicker weave of the basket and into my carpet!! Luckily at that point Brian got home from first service at church and helped contain the kids and get breakfast on the table while I cleaned up the eggs.

So now I'm left with the question of what to do next year. My mother-in-law suggested plastic eggs. We do hide plastic eggs full of candy every year too, but the kids want to dye eggs and hunt for their special colored eggs as well as the plastic kind. I think we will just have to brave the cold (since apparently it will never be warm on Easter in Illinois unless they move it to July)and hunt outside in our parkas next year. It was so nice to use our Easter eggs for our French Toast and scrambled eggs for breakfast, the homemade bread I took for the Easter meal and a dozen things since then. I hate to give up the convenience, but if I'm going to spend Easter morning on my hands and knees scrubbing the carpet it isn't worth it.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Stuffed French Toast

For Easter this year I wanted to make us a light lunch to have right after church since we were having our big meal at 5 pm. It had to be something that I could mostly prepare ahead of time and that would be hot and ready to come out of the oven as soon as we got home. I decided to try:

Stuffed French Toast

I covered the bottom of a 9 x 13 pan with maple syrup. I then put 6 pats of butter into the pan, in the spots where the 6 pieces of bread would lay. I got out 12 slices of regular sandwich bread and spread 6 of the pieces with softened cream cheese and raspberry jam.

I then dipped the bottom of the slices covered in filling into a regular french toast batter (egg, milk, vanilla and cinnamon) and laid them in the pan on top of the butter pats. I dipped both sides of the other 6 slices into the batter and then put them on top of the filling, making 6 french toast sandwiches. I poured the rest of the batter over all of the slices and then let it sit for 2 hours. I baked it at 350 for 40 minutes and it was DELICIOUS. We mixed up some scrambled eggs to go with it and it was a great Easter brunch.

Variations: You can also put crushed pecans in the syrup on the bottom of the pan for a really good nutty crunch to your french toast. And any kind of fruit pie filling or jam can be used as a filling.

*Note: All references to "I" in this post should actually read, "Brian" because he followed my angrily barked instructions to the "t" while I cleaned egg off of the floor (story tomorrow), combed a two year old's hair and put on lipstick as we ran out the door for church.
For more great recipes and tip head over to Tempt My Tummy Tuesday or Kitchen Tip Tuesdays.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Manic Monday

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Dead is Dead

I felt like this was a very good episode. A lot of loose ends were tied up and we got to see Ben suffer....which is always a plus.

I absolutely loved the power struggle and reversal of roles between Ben and Locke! They way John kept taunting him and reminding him about his impeding judgement was hilarious. Wasn't it great to see Ben squirm? I think this is the first time we've ever seen Ben really afraid. And now Ben has to do everything John says. Boy, this oughta be good.

I never bought Ben's whole, "I'm here to be judged" line. After a while I did believe he cared about Alex and felt bad for letting her be killed, but really, why would the smoke monster care about that? Ben's killed a lot of other people (or allowed them to be killed). I don't think the smoke monster is real picky when it comes to least not for the average person.

I liked the emphasis on children in this episode. (Children besides Aaron, that is.) We see Ben sparing Rousseau's life because of Alex and then Ben sparing Penny's life because of Charlie. It is nice to see that something is sacred to Ben.

And speaking of little Charlie....I almost jumped up and cheered when Desmond (after having already been shot) beats Ben to a pulp. I have a feeling that, like the rest of us, he had been waiting to do that for a long time. I did feel like that scene was way too short and there wasn't enough Desmond in the episode, though.

Poor Ceasar! He just got on the show. We were just beginning to get interested in trying to figure out who he was and what his role would be when Ben killed him. I felt really bad for him....although when I think about it......would you rather just be shot down in cold blood or have to live on the island for 3 years, travel through time until your nose bleeds, and then get stuck in Dharma land for 30 more years all while trying to unravel the mysteries of the island? It really is a toss up.

I think this episode is further proving what I've been saying for quite some time. The smoke monster is Jacob. He takes on a host body so that he can be seen and heard by the living. He has appeared in the body of Echo's brother, Christian Shephard and now Alex....not to mention several others. I think he is also using the body of John Locke.

That's right. John is dead! As Ben said, "Dead is dead. You don't get to come back from that. Not even here." I think we will discover that John never really did resurrect, his body is just being used by Old Smokey to do the work of the island. John is the new Jacob. As always, we will have to wait and see.

Most Hurley-esque line of the night:
Frank Lapidis, "As long as the dead guy says there's a reason I guess everything's gonna be just peachy."

Typical Ben line of the night:
Benjamin Linus, "I just didn't have time to talk you back in to hanging yourself."
"Is That Supposed to Make Me Feel Better" line of the night:
John Locke, "I assure you Sun, I'm the same man I've always been."

Best Commercial of the night:
Metallica Guitar Hero (Made even funnier by the fact that even though we were watching LOST on our DVR my husband chose not to skip that particular commercial. When he realized Heidi Klum wouldn't be appearing it was priceless.)

Newest Mysteries:
What is up with Ilana and her goons? What could they possibly be up to?
What lies in the shadow of the statue?
Why was Ben able to return to the island when Whidmore has never managed to?

There were horses on the island...maybe Sawyer wasn't crazy after all.
Whidmore had some whacked out hair back in the 70s. Didn't we all?
The whispers are significant and should be avoided at all costs.
Ben did not know about Eloise Hawking until John mentioned it just before he died.
Whidmore was banished from the island for leaving and returning too many times.
Ben did not kill Penny.

Coming Up:
I'm so glad that we get to find out more about Miles next week. His powers haven't been a part of the show for a long time. We need to get back to that I think. Plus, I just like the 70s Dharma storyline a lot right now.
Check out The LOST Books Challenge for more theories.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

I'm a Loser

Well, the results are finally in!

Drumroll please......................................................

I came in 4th in our local Biggest Loser contest.

I lost 5.32 % of my body weight between March 1st and April 1st, but that wasn't enough to bring home the prize

Did I mention that the prize was $90. Yeah, $90. You can see why I was motivated enough to lose 9 pounds in one month.

I was defeated by a guy that lost 20 pounds (6.79%), a woman that lost 6.56%, and another woman that lost 6.07%. All in all I felt like I did pretty well and was pretty proud of my effort.

So, how did I do it?


Monday: Jog 2 miles or do TurboKick routine
Tuesday: Jog 2 miles, Walk 2 miles while watching the real Biggest Loser
Wednesday: Bootcamp (a special kind of aerobic and strength training torture)
Thursday: TurboKick routine
Friday: Jog 2 miles
Saturday: TurboKick
Sunday: Jog 2 miles, if possible

FOOD: I stick to the Weight Watchers point system. Here are some of my typical menu choices.

Breakfast: The key with breakfast is to get that fiber in there. I read that the ideal breakfast would be eggs, whole wheat toast and canteloupe. I don't have time to do eggs in the morning and canteloupe isn't in season around here so I make do with what I can get.

High Fiber Cereal
Mini Whole Wheat Bagel with Peanut Butter
Fiber One Bar and Banana
Homemade Granola Bar and Apple

Lunch: I need to eat something that will fill me up throughout the long afternoon hours when I have most of my free time (nap time, ya know). Making sure I have lots of protein and fiber really helps. If I have only a salad I won't make it. If I add grilled chicken to the salad or have a fruit with some peanut butter or some high fiber crackers with the salad I can make it a lot longer.

Salad and Apple with Peanut Butter
Two Fried Eggs and Banana
Turkey Sandwich on Whole Wheat, Mini Rice Cakes, Raw Veggies

Supper: Really, for supper I don't always make a super healthy meal, but whatever I make I eat very small portions. It's ok to have Tuna Helper ocasionally (especially when it is on sale for $1 a box), but I only eat 1 cup of it. If the kids want pizza I make my own whole wheat crust and then I can control the toppings too.

Grilled Chicken Breast, Green Beans, Quinoa
Black Beans and Rice
Chicken Stir Fry over Brown Rice
Baked Tilapia, Peas and Couscous

Snacks: The key here is to eat only the recommended portion size. I eat 17 All Bran crackers. Never more. That way I know exactly how many points (calories, fiber and fat) I'm consuming.

All Bran Crackers
Raw Veggies
Apple or Banana with Peanut Butter
Rice Cakes
Dry Cereal
String Cheese

The Secret Weapon: WATER!!

I drink at least, a minimum of 64 oz. per day. When I'm working out really hard and it's hot, even more. Yes, I am in the bathroom all the time, but every time I go I just imagine all of the fat just flowing out of my body with no effort from me at all. I know that isn't an accurate picture of what is going on biologically but it helps me not get frustrated with my constant trips to the restroom.


Do not wait until the end of the week to weigh yourself. If you weigh yourself every morning as soon as you get up you will be able to tell how successful you were the day before. If you wait until the end of the week you won't know which day, which meal, which event set you back. If you get up one morning and suddenly weigh one pound more than you did yesterday then you'll know not to eat the same things or step up the exercise or whatever today.


Making "Hamburger Helper" on your own isn't as healthy as having grilled fish and baked squash but it is still twice as healthy as eating the stuff that comes out of the box. Use whole ingredients so that you know exactly what is in your meal. Keep the chemicals and preservatives out of your body.

Whatever you decide to do stick with it and get a group together to keep you accountable (and/or provide you with some prize money). My husband also joined the challenge and he came in 8th out of 18 participants. We are looking forward to bringing home the prize this month!!

That's what is working for me this Wednesday. For more tips head over to We are THAT Family.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

A Handy Tip

I don't have a pastry blender.

My mom is appalled at this...although she has never given me one as a she can't be too worried about it.

I have used two forks or two knives or one fork and one knife to blend "butter into dry mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs". But I've found that none of those combinations work very well. I prefer something more, shall we say, natural.

I just use my hands.

It works great! It's messy, but I can get it to look like "fine meal" faster with my hands than with any other kitchen tool. Besides, it saves water. I don't have to wash them, I can just lick them off. Just kidding. Seriously....I'm KIDDING! Please don't stop eating the pastries I make, because then I'll have to eat them and we know that's not good.

So that's my great tip for the week. Use your hands. Rocket science, I know.

Now on to the recipe.

I got this great coffeecake recipe off of a blog...of course I have no idea which one because it was before I started the whole 'link' system. But nevertheless it is a recipe worth sharing because it is so DELICIOUS.

Raspberry Cream Cheese Coffeecake

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar
3/4 cup butter, softened

Combine flour and sugar in a large bowl. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Set aside 1 cup of crumb mixture.

1/2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. baking soda

Add baking powder and baking soda to remaining crumb mixture. Mix well.

3/4 cup sour cream
1 egg
1 t. lemon rind or lemon juice

In a small bowl combine sour cream, egg and lemon. Add to crumb mixture. Mix just until moistened. Pat in to the bottom and part way up the sides of a 9 inch round springform pan or fluted tart pan with removable bottom.

8 oz. cream cheese
1 egg
1/3 cup sugar

Beat together cream cheese and sugar. Add egg and mix well. Pour over batter in pan.

1/2 cup raspberry jam

Carefully spoon jam over cream cheese filling. Sprinkle with reserved crumb mixture.

Bake in 350 oven for 45 minutes or until golden brown and filling is set. Cool in pan on wire rack. Remove sides of pan and cut in to wedges to serve.

Note: You can use any type of jam, jelly or pie filling that you would like for the topping. You can also make this coffeecake ahead, wrap it up and freeze it for up to one week. Enjoy!

Disclaimer: Those are not my hands in the picture. I wouldn't want anyone to think my wrists are that chubby. :)

Monday, April 6, 2009

Manic Monday

Friday, April 3, 2009

Funny Flops

Ever had a bad baking day?

Ever had to endure the smell of burnt chocolate for days on end?

Ever suffered tennis elbow from scrubbing fruit filling off the bottom of your oven?

Don't worry. It happens to everyone. Even the experts.

For April Fool's Day the expert bakers at King Arthur Flour posted pictures of their flops in 2009 and invited readers to share their own baking disaster stories.

Read it. It'll make you feel good about yourself.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Every Girl Needs A Pretty Dress

I started following the story of "The Persecuted Church Next Door" several months ago. I have linked to all of the posts about their story. Well, here is another one.

Go to Kristin's site and check out the latest in this story.

What Happened, Happened

It was great to finally find out why, and with whom, Kate left Aaron. I have to admit I was more than a little disturbed (as in yelling at the TV) when I thought that Kate was going to leave him with Cassidy (the human lie detector). It was just too much. I loved seeing Kate really love Aaron and struggle with leaving him. It was nice to see the mother in her come out.

I was shocked to hear that Kate believes Claire is still alive. And may I just digress for a moment to say that they must have found Emilie de Ravin's sister to play the role of the lady in the supermarket. Didn’t she look just like Claire, with just a few facial differences? Cool. I halfway believed something ghostly was going on for a minute. Anyway….I was always unclear as to what exactly happened to Claire. I pretty much thought she was dead and operating in the ghostly realms of Jacob and Christian….which may still turn out to be true…..but I didn’t realize that the Losties thought she was still alive and just disappeared.

If Kate’s entire reason for coming back was to find Claire then that should lead us to some more answers about her and Jacob and Christian. Maybe not this season (I don’t see how they can stuff much more in to this season), but for sure next season. Although, it is possible that Sun and Frank will run in to her still in the coming weeks. Am I talking in circles? This show does that to me.

Thank goodness for Hurley! Not only does he add a lot of much needed comic relief on the show but the writers finally threw us a bone and had Hurley go ahead and ask all of the questions that the rest of us have been pondering for weeks now. (They even threw in the Back to the Future disappearing theory. Those guys definitely read the message boards.) Not that it did a lot of good, but hey, it was a nice attempt.

It did kind of make sense, in a weird time-warpy sort of way, when Miles said that the Losties past and future all happened before their present. That is why it can’t change. It already happened, so it’s over and done. They can only change their present and the present and future of those around them. Of course Hurley blew a hole in that theory when he asked why past Ben didn’t remember Sayid in the future. I guess that was explained later in the show when Richard said that Ben wouldn't remember any of this happening. But, knowing Ben, I wouldn't be surprised if he probably did remember Sayid, and everybody else, and just didn’t let on.

I guess they did prove that whatever happened, happened, though. Even though the circumstances are different, Ben still ended up with the Others and still lost his innocence. That was going to happen no matter what. I do find it ironic that Juliette and Kate think that people that live as nomads in the rain forest will have some kind of brilliant surgeon or operating equipment that can save dying Ben. Or maybe they were thinking more along mystical lines the whole time, I don’t know.

I was really happy that Jack didn’t operate on Ben this time. It’s just too ridiculous for them to ask him to save him….again. Like he said, he’s been there and done that. Nice way to lay the blame on Kate too. That wasn’t real chivalrous, but it was the truth.

Apparently everyone was very aware that Kate and Sawyer had quite a thing going…..everyone but me that is. I guess I was just in denial because I wanted her to be with Jack so badly. It seems like in this episode Jack admits that Kate never really loved him, Sawyer admits that he did jump off the chopper because he was afraid of his budding relationship with Kate, Kate admits (not in so many words) that she loved Sawyer. However, Sawyer also admits to loving (or at least having feelings for) Juliette. I’m not sure where Jack stands right now. He could go either way. It’s a toss up between Kate and Juliette at this point. Oh, what a tangled web they weave.

So, what will the future hold? (Boy, that's stupid question to ask about this show!)

We know that Ben will massacre all of the Dharma people, but that won’t be for several more years. Maybe the Losties will be gone by then. (Of course all of the Dharma people could die of something else. This episode proves that result has to be the same but the methods can differ greatly.)

Locke is back and confronting Ben. Ben tells him that he has come back to be judged. I really don’t know what that means or what it entails, but I’m sure it’ll be very interesting.

We found out that Charles Whidmore and Eloise Hawking are still on the island in 1977, and Richard is kind of a rogue guy operating without their permission. I’m sure they will come back in to play before the season ends.

We also have to find out more about Sun and Frank, Daniel Farraday and Christian and Claire. Desmond, Penny, Rose, Bernard, hello? Anyone?

For more interesting (and concise) theories check out the LOST Books Challenge.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

May You Go In Peas

I don't eat with my kids.

I know this is bad, and not conducive to a good family environment, etc....and sometimes we do all sit down at the table together and have a meal for supper (like 2 times a week), but I never, ever, ever eat breakfast or lunch with the kids.

I just like to eat in peace, what can I say?

My kids are very picky eaters so every meal is a battle of wills (I usually win, but it is exhausting and not good for digestion). I always forget the ketchup, or spoon or chocolate syrup for the milk so I spend half the meal jumping up and down to get more stuff, or making them get up and get it, which takes twice as long. Since they eat next to nothing they are finished eating by the time I stir the milk and get back to the table. Then Kinley is screaming for her bib to be off and crying because we are trying to make her eat *gasp* macarroni and cheese.

Don't get me wrong. My children are perfectly lovely if you feed them Hamburger Helper, pepperoni pizza, pancakes, french fries or hot dogs. But try to serve them a potato, any vegetable besides corn or a casserole and you'll have a revolt on your hands. They don't even like sloppy joes, for goodness sake. And they're flexible on the chocolate milk too. They'll drink strawberry milk or even Kool-Aid. But heaven forbid I serve water...or worse....plain milk. Of course we do make them eat and drink all of these things, and at 9 years old, Ryker has finally figured out that he might as well eat it and save himself the agony of sitting at the table for hours. Cainan and Kinley still think they can wear us down. (It might be working.)

So, I just eat while they are asleep.

I eat my breakfast before they get up, or after the boys go to school, but before Kinley gets up. I eat lunch only after Kinley has had her lunch and been put in bed for a nap. (I won't even tell you the lengths I go to in order to have a snack that I don't have to share.) And at supper, I get them all set and then take my plate in to the living room and sit in a nice comfy chair and let Brian deal with the supper turmoil while I eat a nice leisurely meal. It's a luxury I only get on the nights when Brian is home to eat with us, and I really enjoy it.

So....a few nights ago I was sitting in the living room eating my grilled chicken breast, baked potato and sweet corn when Brian committed the unforgivable sin. He let Kinley out of her high chair before I was done eating! She of course came in and started climbing up on to the back of the chair where I was sitting and pulling my hair, standing on my shoulders, etc. I said, in a not very nice way, "Go away and let me eat in peace!"

She replied, in the sweetest voice, "Mommy, that no peas. That corn." (pronounced 'cahrn' like a little southern girl).