New Year, New Adventures and Changes to Come. . .

New year and new adventures. . .

Do you make New Year’s resolutions? I do not, I resolve to be better than I was last year. Excited to say I have lost 20 lbs since I started my taking care of me routine last year. There is still a lot to work on but I have added some new routines to my day that I think are good. Want to share some recipes and some tips and tricks I have learned along the way.

Recipes I enjoy. . .

Here recipes is a recipe I have enjoyed these last few months. Should preface this part by saying I am not vegetarian or vegan but I do prefer the vegetarian recipes. I found this one by accident one day when I wanted a taco type meal but I had no ground beef. This is vegetarian quinoa tacos: 1 cup quinoa cooked, 1 can black beans rinsed and drained, 1 can corn rinsed and drain, onion chopped, 3 cloves garlic pressed, 2 tsp chili powder, 2 tsp cumin, 1 tsp smoked paprika, 2 tsp cilantro, and small can tomato paste. Sauté garlic and onion in a little white wine and olive oil. Once smelling the garlic and onion is clear add corn and black beans and stir. Add tomato paste and add 2 cups water or beef broth and stir then add your cooked quinoa. Toss in your other seasonings be sure to rub your Cilantro between your fingers to release the essential oils before tossing. This can simmer over med low heat for about 25 mins and you are ready for some veggie tacos.

How are you exercising in the cold?

The hubbs bought me a stationary bike a year or so ago after my foot started hurting and I put my walking on hold. The bike has come in handy for my exercise these last couple of months. It is hard to go out and walk in 30 degree weather I did, however, walk in 44 degree weather. Adding the bike meant adding some weight training too. Years and years ago I used to lift weights and I have recently started back slowly. Seeing a definite benefit from the added weight lifting. Starting yoga also has been a big benefit, I am getting back my flexibility. There are so many apps and youtube videos of routines you can try. The challenge is to find your groove, I am working now to find my groove.

It is not all about exercise. . .

It is not all about what you do but about what you eat and vitamins you take. I am a huge advocate for vitamins, mom used to sell vitamins when I was little and she and dad always took vitamins. Mom turned 90 last year and Dad will be 90 this year. Mom does not take any medication for anything, Dad has one prescription. They have always taken vitamins and worked out. There is no better reason or basis for advocating exercise, vitamins, and eating healthy.

My New Guilty Pleasure. . .

My guilty pleasure these days. .

My guilty pleasure these days, watching “The Great British Baking Show” and trying to cook some of their recipes. I have made the Victoria sponge and last week I made a chocolate coffee sponge with homemade chocolate coffee cream on top with a coffee syrup (homemade). The Hubbs loved the chocolate coffee sponge with all the extras, he does not eat sweets so when he gives a seal of approval it is a BIG DEAL. There are a couple more recipes from the show I want to try so stay tuned.

My first attempt at the Victoria Sponge

I use to cook quite a bit. . .

I use to cook quite a bit when the boys were young. As a Pampered Chef consultant I cooked and entertained at every show. Any excuse to have people over and share some yummy food. Once the wild and wonderful two came in the picture my cooking days were limited and so was my energy. Having children really does zap all of your energy.

My new found energy these days and time. .

With my new found energy and time on my hands, I have started cooking more. My new food adventures are with Mediterranean food and “The Great British Baking Show” recipes. I have always loved the Mediterranean food and have been incorporating that into our family meals for a few years now. The boys are not to fond of meals without meat but they have tried my homemade hummus and falafel. Sprat liked them both, Big T just liked the falafel they would prefer meat. The hubbs and I could live out of our garden on veggies alone.

Quinoa, corn, black beans, and edamame salad

Do You Take Time to Pamper Yourself?

Do you take time for your self?

Do you take time to take care of you? Are you getting enough sleep and eating a well balanced diet? I know that sounds like some kind of health guru or Public Service announcement. Those are big questions that need to be answered when thinking about your health. Moms all around the world just answered those questions with; I do not have time to take care of myself I am taking care of everyone else. Said those very words myself too many times to count. You must take care of yourself or there will not be a “you” to take care of everyone else.

Suggestions for taking time for you. . .

Start walking, get up a little earlier and go for a walk before the rest of your house gets up and moving. I started this way and it really did help me both mentally and physically. Now, I am no Jillian Michaels or Denise Austin but I do know what I did to help myself. It is very hard some days to find that motivation to get up early when you know you have not slept or that you will get no rest during the day. Always remember how good you felt the last time you walked or exercised and remember those benefits when trying to find that motivation. Some days you may just need to take a long relaxing bath, I highly recommend this one. Try a milk bath, it makes the best bubbles and is all natural no chemical additives. Use 1/2 cup powdered whole milk, 1/4 cup corn starch, 1/4 cup baking soda, 1/4 cup Epsom salt and add your favorite essential oils (lavender, rosemary, patchouli. . .) and soak for thirty minutes. This will make your skin so very soft and it is very relaxing.

Please remember that taking care of your self is not being selfish, self care is very important for those around you too. Mom’s take on the weight of the world whether it is in your family life or even your work life. The instinct of nurturing and helping is very strong and we want to help everyone. We must remember that we cannot help everyone and that we should not try to help at the detriment of ourselves. That is a hard one to swallow and definitely out of character of most.

My reason for changing and being selfish

One of my best friends through high school and college died suddenly of massive cardiac arrest. It has been a year this month that she went on to live with our heavenly father, I am still in disbelief that she is gone. I wish I had made that extra trip to see her and my other best friend from high school one last time instead of putting it off. Do not put off taking care of yourself, you should be your top priority. Last year I took stock of myself and decided, I am going to take better care of me. I want to see my boys graduate college and maybe get married one day and have children. In order for me to be there to see those great things I have to be in better health. My hubby will be retiring sometime in the next few years and I want to travel with him and see the world.

Stay tuned as I make changes to meet my goals, I will share recipes that are yummy and good for you. I do not eat anything that does not taste good, I am just trying to find the balance in taste and good for me. There will be updates on the boys too. Those 0600 practices have started and they are looking forward to a full lacrosse season.

This is my devilishly handsome hubby and myself at the Red Sox game a few years ago









New Found Time on My Hands, Time to Focus on Me!

Time to focus on my health. . .

New found time to focus on me, with the boys temporarily out of the house. The work schedule is still a little crazy but I am able to fit in some exercise and eating better. This empty nesting is kinda nice but, do not tell Sprat and Big T. Would not want to hurt their feelings. Do not get me wrong, I do miss those two goofballs every day. We text or talk by phone a couple times a week so I can stay up to date on things College.

Loving my exercise routine. . .

Loving my new exercise routine. On days I do not work I start out at the park at 0600 walking 3 miles. I started this before the pandemic but, decided to get serious about it after the lock down. Work became mentally exhausting and my early morning walks were my saving grace. I looked forward to the brisk mornings all by myself and the beautiful park. After my walk I do some Yoga to stretch and keep everything flexible, recently I have added some weight lifting. We have the equipment so why not put it to good use for me. Days that the sunrise is just breath taking, I take pictures to remember.

Beautiful Sunrise on one of my early morning walks
Foggy Sunrise one morning

Working on my diet too. . .

I am working on my diet while the boys are out of the house too. Sprat inspired this change, he has really been watching his diet over the last year and I decided I would too. After my walks I fix a fabulous smoothie; pineapple, cherries, coconut water, coconut flakes (unsweetened), fresh ginger, beets if I have any from the garden, and Vega protein powder. This is the best smoothie ever, no added sugar and all natural. I use fresh pineapple when I can find a good one and I add blue berries some days. The smoothie is breakfast, I eat small meals when I get hungry which is usually every three hours or so, I try not to eat after six in the evening. Cutting out sugary soda was a big effort and I am very proud to say I did it! Along with sugary soda went the daily caffeine, I do drink diet ginger ale and I will have a Dr Pepper every now and then but not like I was drinking them before the pandemic/lock down. The only other time I have gone without sodas (sugary caffeinated) was when I was pregnant with the boys. Something about being pregnant changed my taste buds and I could not drink soda at all.

A few recipes. . .

The hubbs has really out done himself with the garden this year. He managed to grow beets which I use in my smoothies, edamame that I eat by the handfuls, and a number of other tasty treats. He and I could eat out of the garden and only go to the grocery store for things like cheese and yogurt. We had zucchini coming out of our ears so I froze a good bit of it to use later and I froze multiple loaves of zucchini bread and casseroles too. One of my favorite salads is couscous, black bean, fresh mozzarella, chick peas, onion and balsamic vinegar. Made an edamame salad the other day that was really good. 1 1/2 cups edamame cooked, 1 can corn rinsed, 1 can black beans rinsed, small onion chopped, 1 cup cooked quinoa, 1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp chipolte, 1 tsp ancho chili, juice of 1 lime and toss. Served this cold as meal for me could use as a side dish.

Fresh Edamame out of the garden and in the pot to cook.
Edamame salad

What is One Appliance You Could Not do Without?

A little back story before we get started. . .

After selling Pampered Chef for many years I have a lot of kitchen gadgets but the ones that are getting the most use lately are not PC products. A little back story for ya. When I was growing up I had a real hard time choking down breakfast. I came from a family that truly believed breakfast was the most important meal of the day. My mom, besides being an awesome stay at home mom, sold vitamins on the side. This particular company had a protein shake mix that I loved and I started using that for breakfast. That all started when I was in the seventh grade, before that I did all I could to eat breakfast without puking. I have been using the protein shake/meal replacements ever since for breakfast.

Let’s talk kitchen gadgets. . .

The first item that is most loved and used at my house is the Nutri Bullet. (no, I am not being paid for any part of this post). Both my oldest son and myself use this little gem daily. I like a good fruit/protein smoothie and he likes a coffee/protein smoothie. I am on my second one of these because I sent the first one to college with Sprat. Recipes will be at the end of the post. Using some frozen fruit in my smoothie I really needed something that would pulverize the fruit to make a very smooth smoothie. Sprat makes his coffee smoothie with ice and instant coffee and protein powder. He needed something that would pulverize the ice. Having used many different traditional blenders or even those blender ball cups over the years I feel I am a pretty good judge of the Nuri Bullet and it wins hands down.

Who loves the soft pellet ice? ? ?

Is there anyone that does not love that soft pellet ice? I go to certain fast food places just for a drink because of that ice. You know what I am talking about. Since I have been working from home since the pandemic I have had my husband or the boys go and get me that “good” ice for my cup at home. Evidently they got tired of trecking out to find my “good” ice and they got me my very own, you guessed it, counter top soft pellet ice maker. We have had this little gem for about a year now and it is well used and loved. Sprat uses this ice for his coffee smoothie and let me tell you it is the best dog gone smoothie out there with no added sugar. Recipe to follow I promise.

How do you boil your eggs?

We got an Instant Pot almost three years ago. My boss raved over hers and how easy it was to use I decided I would try one out. Awesome appliance, you can do boiled eggs for deviled eggs in 6 minutes. Yes, I said 6 minutes. These eggs peel so easy, normally my eggs look like my dog peeled them. You can do corn on the cob in 2 minutes. You can do potato salad in your Instant Pot in 6 minutes by doing your potatoes and eggs at the same time. This is the recipe that sent me to WOW ! Almost anything you can do in a crock pot you can do in the Instant pot quicker.

Smoothie Recipes. . .

My fruit smoothie: pineapple (frozen or fresh), cherries frozen, 6 oz coconut water, thumb size piece of ginger, and 1/2 of a beet, and 1 scoop of protein powder. We use Vega protein powder (myvega.com), it is protein from plants. I blend all of this in my Nutri Bullet cup till smooth. Sprats Coffee smoothie, this is a recipe I adapted to my own from Pinterest. Dissolve 3 tsp instant coffee granules in 3/4 cup water, fill Nutri Bullet cup 1/2 way with the “good” ice, pour coffee mixture over the ice, 1/4 tsp vanilla, 2 tbs Hershey chocolate syrup, 1/2 cup milk (latte smoothie), 1-2 scoops of protein powder and blend. To make the coffee smoothie a little more decadent you could use heavy cream or half and half instead of milk.

Drink Recipes. . .

Since I have been cutting back on calories and not using caffeine I have become quite creative in my drink choices. The most recent combination I have been using is 2 oz grape juice and 6 oz diet ginger ale and a splash of lime juice. I have cut my Dr Pepper out almost completely. I still like the bubbles so I use the diet ginger ale. You can substitute cranberry juice for the grape juice if you like, I use both it just depends on what I have in the fridge. Of course this is poured over the “good” ice. When our cucumbers come in I add them to my water along with lemon and or lime slices and mint leaves from my herb bed. Nothing beats ice cold water with cucumber, lime/lemon, and mint.

Conclusion. . .

Please post in the comments your favorite kitchen appliance. Post any drink or smoothie recipes too. Always willing to try something new.

Stay Focused, Stay Positive

Trying to stay positive. . .

Trying to stay positive in all the drama. We planted the cut flower bed a few weeks ago and now it is so hot and dry that my flowers just look pitiful. My hope is that later everything will be established and be able to weather the Sahara of Arcadia. It could be pouring rain all over the County and in our neighborhood it will dry as the desert. Hence my comment on the Sahara.

The Mandevilla bed…
The hubbs beautiful tomato plants
Zucchini plants are all a bloom.
The celery was really good

Updates on everything. . .

Updates on everything: the hubbs and I are still working from home, the garden is feeding us very well, and the boys are doing their thing too. I am so proud of myself, I have made and frozen three pots of cabbage enchilada soup and two loaves of chocolate chip zucchini bread and a pot of potato soup and I do not want to forget the mountain stew. Last night I made a lemon zucchini pasta that was to die for. I will share that recipe later in the post. If it were just the hubbs and I we could live out of our garden, sadly the boys want meat and I cannot grow that in our garden. I am not a vegetarian or a vegan or anything like that I just do not have to eat meat. In fact, I prefer not to eat meat just because I do not like the texture.

I am dazzled. . .

I am dazzled by my hubby’s green thumb. Our garden is going like gangbusters this year and I know it is because we are blessed. Our peas did not do as well as we expected but I did enjoy those fresh little pearls of sweetness. I have high hopes for cantaloupe, honeydew, and watermelon this season. Our cucumbers and zucchini are just starting to mature. My goal, is a full freezer by Winter.

Recipe for lemon Zucchini pasta:

  • 2 medium Zucchini thinly sliced
  • 1 onion thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic pressed
  • 2 peppers sliced (jalapeno, banana, green, red what ever you like)
  • fresh basil leaves
  • fresh oregano leaves
  • fresh lemon thyme
  • olive oil
  • white wine
  • 1 lemon juiced
  • Parmesan cheese
  • whole wheat pasta

Saute onion, peppers and garlic in olive oil then add Zucchini and a splash of white wine. While that is cooking, cook your pasta. I like the whole wheat angel hair pasta personally. After your Zucchini is soft add your fresh herb leaves and your lemon juice and cover and let simmer, if it seems dry add a little more white wine. Once your pasta is done top with your Zucchini mixture and a little fresh Parmesan.

Stay tuned I will share my enchilada cabbage soup recipe next time.

Enchilada Soup

Random Thoughts. . .

Uncertainty . . .

Some many things are uncertain right now, this pandemic has reeked havoc on everything. We do not know one day to the next what new limits will be imposed on us. We have imposed some limits on ourselves. The hubbs and I have weekly calls with our managers and co-workers to stay up to date on this ever changing environment. The boys have meetings with their teachers and coaches weekly too. We still do not know if schools will be back on campus in August. This is the end of Big T’s junior year of high school and we normally would be planning college visits. Not sure how all of this is going to play out but we will attack it as a family.

Thankful Tuesday. . .

I am very thankful for my husband, there is not anyone any better than him to have to endure this “thing” with. He is my rock, my love, and my best friend. The other day I was working and we had been very busy so I had not had a break for food. My very sweet husband had fixed dinner for the boys and brought me a plate downstairs to the office so I could eat. When I am working the boys will come down and visit with me, if I am not on the phone. Big T has entertained me with his Ukulele on numerous occasions. Did I mention that he is teaching himself how to play the Ukulele?

Awww the Ukulele. . .

The Ukulele is an interesting little instrument, it is small and has a twang to it’s sound. I am not sure where Big T got the idea to learn to play the Ukulele but he is actually pretty good at it. He has been teaching himself via YouTube and other online tutorials. He is also learning to play the electric guitar. My hubby played the guitar many moons ago and so we still have ALL of the equipment. I love listening to Big T play his Ukulele he is quite talented, he gets that from the hubbs. I could not carry a tune if you strapped it to my back.

Big T and the Ukulele

The Garden Grows. . .

The garden is growing and we are so thankful the frost we got in this early May did not kill anything. Our peas did not come up as well as we had hopped, luckily though I still have some in the freezer. We had some volunteer Tomatillos come up and those will be a blessing since the ones we bought have not done well.

Recipe Flops and Recipe Wins. . .

Trying New Recipes. . .

I love trying new recipes, they do not always work out they way they should but I always learn a lesson. The other day I learned coconut oil does not always fry up the way you want. I love falafel but I have never made it and wanted to try my hand at making it. I found a good recipe on Pinterest https://theviewfromgreatisland.com/the-best-falafel/

My Mistake. . .

My mistakes usually start with leaving parts of the recipe out. This was no different, I used can chick peas instead of dry and I did not add near enough fresh herbs(I used dry herbs) or flour. The flour was really my biggest problem. I had everything mixed up, my balls formed and oil heated to 350. I dropped 3 balls in the oil and with in seconds they disintegrated. The oil bubbled up and almost out of my pan and I almost set the house on fire. I tried to bake my falafel in the oven and they also flattened out and some fell completely apart.

Looking Back. . .

Looking back, I should have added all of the flour but I thought it had enough. The flour was the real problem and the coconut oil. The ones that did well baked were very tasty. You bake at 375 for 30 minutes and flip them half way through. The recipe itself was very good, they had a great taste, I need to work on my baking. I will try these again, I do love falafel!

My Recipe Win. . .

My recipe win was deviled eggs, I decided to try a new recipe with horseradish. https://bevcooks.com/2012/08/horseradish-deviled-eggs-for-jennys-baby-shower/ These little devils are very good, the horseradish adds that extra kick. The hubbs and Sprat liked them and I got to use my fresh dill.