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The SLow Down

Ah, February – the month of Love!  January did a fly by on my radar.  It was a busy month, full of emotionally charged days that I’m glad are past me.  I ate my way through the month and I’m currently trying to come down off the high of feeding my stress.  As I sit here typing this, I’m wishing I had on my pajama pants since my jeans have become less like clothing and more like a torture device.

My mother had her aortic aneurysm surgery in the middle of January and she did very well.   I can now say with certainty for a fact, I am not capable of taking care of her in any way, shape or form.  And I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing.  The facts are as follows:

#1. She wants things the way she wants things and I am too much of a controlling person to be ok with that.

#2.  She’s not willing to help herself and I cannot feel responsible for that.

#3.  She does not trust me, never has, never will.

We are oil and water and a life and/or death situation does not change that fact. Those reasons are enough to fuel the fact that this type scenario will not – can not – take place again.

However, every rain cloud has a silver lining.  About 7 years ago when we moved to Indiana, we (I) gave away our dachshund and I’ve never really gotten over wanting another one (or feeling guilty that I gave him up).  Knowing this, the Better Half decided to buy me a new dachshund puppy as a late Christmas gift.  She is an absolute joy!  She’s adorable and so, so sweet!  My youngest daughter named her “Gretchen Wieners” but to simplify things a little bit, we call her ‘Indy’.  She, like most doxies, is a cuddle bunny, her favorite thing is to be held and snuggled.  She bunks with the oldest as she doesn’t have a “pet” other than her Betta fish, Bae and he’s too hard to snuggle with.

It’s been chaotic trying to potty train her and to keep up with everything else, but I have no doubt as things calm down and I can focus more attention on her she’ll have it in no time!  As they say, there are no bad dogs, only bad owners and I don’t want to be a bad owner!

It’s only the 1st, but I’ve already started working towards Valentine’s Day!  It’s one of my favorite days of the year. Here are some of the ideas I’m tacking for this Valentine’s Day.

Valentine Pretzel Buttons

Seven Days of Love, for both the Better Half & the girls

and because they know I love to make them, the girls requested my cut out sugar cookies, which I’m happy to do because really, who doesn’t love ❤️s?!

Yesterday I jumped in feet first and decided to experiment with my new silicone heart molds, I melted some Ghirardelli dark chocolate wafers and some Ghirardelli white chocolate wafers.  I put in the heart molds, pistachios, craisins, dates, toffee chips, mallow bits, rainbow & crystalized sugar sprinkles and then piped in my melted chocolate.  Placed them in the fridge for abut 30 minutes and boom!  Instant “homemade” chocolates!  Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy!  You can see it here at No.2 Pencil!

I do hope you all have a beautiful and love filled February!  I hope to see more of the blog this month!!  (I’m saying that a lot these days, aren’t I?!)

Do what makes your heart happy!

xoxo

 

 

Brownies with a Twist (actually more like a sharp turn)

Good morning!!  I owe you a huge thank you if you’re still with me!  I’m not doing my part here at ALL!  Hard to fathom it’s been almost a month since I’ve posted anything.  The last three to four weeks has been filled to capacity with one thing after another.  After our trip to Shipshewana, we all proceeded to enjoy a viral infection that ran it’s course through all four of us and has really taken it’s time leaving.  The better half and I still have some congestion, but thankfully the girls are all clear.  We do believe our cat has it currently, as she’s sneezing and her eyes are squinty and watering.  We took her to the vet on Tuesday and they gave her an antibiotic injection. 

My mother flew in from Georgia the week before Thanksgiving.  She has come for the holidays as per tradition, but this time she will be gracing us with her presence for a bit longer than usual.  She has an AAA, an abdominal aortic aneurism that will need to be fixed via “open” surgery.  We have been running to and from doctor’s offices during the past couple weeks to make sure all is well.  She’s already met with the surgeon and recently took a stress test, which we are now awaiting the results.  I believe then the surgery can be scheduled.  Once the three hour surgery is complete, she will spend a week in the hospital and another 6-8 weeks recuperating.  It’s going to be a very long, long three months for me.

This Christmas the girls will head to their dad’s.  We will delay our Christmas with them until the end of the month.  It’s not the worst thing in the world, it gives me a little more time to shop for last minute gifts but I sure don’t like them not being home – no matter what time of year it is.  All a bit stressful, but so far manageable with wine.  But despite all that – the REAL news here is – I baked something AMAZING yesterday!  This is the first thing I’ve baked this holiday season (other than a poundcake that turned out to be pretty gross).

Let me introduce to you…Godiva Liqueur Brownies!  Holy Smokes, these little beauties are to DIE for!!  Godiva became my favorite chocolate a few years ago during my stressful, five year divorce I was going through.  We really bonded during one New Year’s Eve, when I broke down and spent $350 on a box of handmade Godiva chocolates and spent that night in bed watching the ball drop and all whilst marveling over every bite.  Yep – it’s a tight bond.  I’ve never forgotten her getting me through that New Year’s.  She will always hold a special place in my heart.

I don’t drink alcohol any more only wine, but that doesn’t mean I don’t like liquor, I just don’t drink it – but I will eat it on occasion!  Like when I saw this recipe and immediately said to myself, “yep, that’s gonna be in the Christmas Lineup!”  So without further ado – here’s the recipe, found in the December 2016 Taste of Home 12 Days of Christmas Cookies by Terry Rasey, Cadillac, MI.

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Godiva Liqueur Brownies

3/4 c. butter, softened
1 c. granulated sugar
1 c. packed brown sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 c. Godiva Chocolate Liqueur
2 T. chocolate vodka (I used 360 Double Chocolate)
2 T. creme de cacao (I used dark)
 1 1/3 c. all purpose flour
3/4 c. baking cocoa (I used Hershey’s Special Dark)
1 t. baking powder
1/2 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used mini semi-sweet chocolate chips)

Glaze: (although I turned mine into icing by tripling the recipe)

1 c. confectioners’ sugar
4 t. butter, melted
2 T. Godiva Chocolate Liqueur
1 T. chocolate vodka 
1 T. creme de cacao

Preheat oven to 350*.  Beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Beat in the liqueur, vodka and creme de cacao.  In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking cocoa and baking powder until well mixed.  Stir in the semi-sweet chocolate chips.  Fold the flour mixture into the butter mixture just until combined.  Transfer to a 13×9″ baking dish coated with cooking spray, bake just until center is set, 24-28 minutes (do not overtake).  Cool brownies completely in the pan on a wire rack.  

For the glaze, mix all ingredients until smooth, spread over brownies.  Cut into 24 bars and store in an airtight container.  

Really, these are super delicious!  If you’re baking for adults (my kids tried them but weren’t big fans of the icing) that enjoy a little nip with their holidays, give these a try!  Have a wonderful day and I swear, I’ll post more than this one post this month!!

xoxo

A Little American Mexican

I feel SO creative today, but yet SO unmotivated.  What does that?  When I wake up in the morning I’m like raring to go…then bam – flatlined.  It’s really kinda frustrating.  Since I don’t have to urge to move right now, I thought I’d update.  I have a few goodies I can share.  I finally picked and purchased the paint color for downstairs.  I hate to say it, but I went with a safe color.  The winner – Smoky White by Behr.

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I have to say – it goes with everything, it’s not overpowering and I don’t think I’ll get sick of it like I already have with a couple of the more bold colors I’ve painted in other rooms.  My prayer is, it will pull the room together nicely.  I SHOULD be downstairs painting, but…nope.

Back in the day there was a restaurant called Hamburger Hamlet in Bethesda, Maryland.  According to a Bethesda website, it was in the same shopping center since 1973, but closed in 2013.  My parents and I would to go there when I was a kid and then when the girls dad and I were together, we would eat there as well.  My last experience at Hamburger Hamlet was not a pleasant one and sometime in the late 90’s I would guesstimate. We went for dinner and I ordered my most favorite meal there – a chicken quesadilla (I know…at a hamburger place – bizarre I know).  This quesadilla was something that I would crave.  Hunks of chicken swimming in butter with loads of onions and cheese with huge slices of avocado, topped off with creamy sour cream.  So delicious…UNTIL…that fateful evening…  when I found a long (thankfully long) dark hair stretched neatly across the entire interior of my chicken quesadilla.  And as they say, that was that.  I was done.  No more chicken quesadillas and absolutely no more Hamburger Hamlet.  Sadly, but not surprisingly it’s now closed.

For years, I’ve dreamed of this quesadilla and I do like trying to replicate my restaurant favorites.  Sometimes it’s successful, sometimes it’s a total fail.  Last night, I made a chicken quesadilla trying desperately to successfully imitate theirs.  I have to say, it was good, but it wasn’t Hamburger Hamlet (sans hair) good.  I’ll have to keep trying until I find the sweet spot.  This one wasn’t a fail, but it wasn’t successful either.

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I should have posed this photo, but I didn’t and of course, the pic doesn’t do the flavor justice.  And I only snapped one because I was SO ready to dive in!  Not to mention my family looks at me as if I’m crazy and I get the obligatory – “no cell phones at the dinner table, mom!”  I will say, that I do give myself props for making this guy much lower fat than I’m sure Hamburger Hamlet’s ever dreamed of.  This whole quesadilla was less than 400 calories.  Here is how I did it.

Chicken Quesadilla (sans hair)
Makes 4

3 chicken breasts, boiled in chicken broth seasoned with carrots, celery & onions
Seasonings to your liking (I used Adobo)
1 onion, sliced
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1 green bell pepper, sliced
1 cup fat free mozzarella cheese, shredded
4 Ole Xtreme Wellness High Fiber Low Carb Tortilla Wraps
Salsa, sour cream, pico or Avocado Buttermilk Ranch dressing (optional, recipe below)

Boil chicken until done (I like the chicken soft), remove from broth & shred.  Place chicken in pan with a 1/4 cup broth to keep warm and sprinkle with adobo, taco, chipotle or whatever seasoning you prefer and mix up.  In another pan, saute the peppers and onions with a tablespoon olive oil/butter or broth to keep the calories down.  In another pan, sprayed with Pam, place a tortilla wrap and then layer the chicken, the peppers & onions and the cheese on half tortilla and flip the other half over to cover the layers.  Take a salad plate and smash down the quesadilla to seal it so when you flip it, all the goody doesn’t fly out.  Heat until the cheese is melted and tortilla is golden.  Then holding the plate, flip the pan upside down, let the tortilla fall into plate, spray pan with Pam and slide tortilla back into the pan to heat the other side.  Serve with salsa, light sour cream, pico or my favorite avocado buttermilk ranch dressing! 

Avocado Buttermilk Ranch Dressing

1 pkg. Hidden Valley Ranch buttermilk dressing mix (dry)
1 cup light mayo
3/4 c. lowfat buttermilk
1 T. minced garlic
Blend in blender until blended (hehehe).  Place in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.  Serve on whatever.  It’s that good! 

I’m always trying to fit in more fruits and vegetables into dinner time.  Not only for myself but for the non-vegetable eaters in the family too.  To accompany the quesadilla, I came up with this yummy side.

Bean & Corn Salad

1 can (14 oz.) black beans
1 can (14 oz.) whole kernel corn
1/2 – 3/4 red onion, chopped
1/2 -3/4 large cucumber, chopped

2 medium tomatoes, chopped*
1 – 2 T. lime juice
cilantro, to taste

*I have a Vidalia Chop Wizard that I absolutely could NOT live without.  In fact, I’ve broken a couple in my day, trying to chop things that probably shouldn’t have been chopped.  I have to rush right out to pick up another.  I simply can’t cook without it!  I recommend if you do any chopping at all, this thing is a godsend for $20! 

Chop and mix all ingredients together in a bowl.  Refrigerate.  Enjoy on or beside the quesadilla.

So there you have it!  Hopefully if you like stuff like this you’ll give these recipes a shot.  Hope everyone has a great day!  I’d better start moving, day’s almost over!!

xoxo

Reinventing the Waffle

In the last week or so I’ve been seriously focusing on my weight more than anything, specifically losing this 20 lbs. I somehow gained over the summer.  (I blame those stupid, sweet, sugary, frozen daquiris.)  I am happy to report I’m over the hump and heading back  towards my previous weight of 145.5.  From there, I am 19.5 lbs. away from my goal weight of 126.  I’ve been dropping pounds pretty quickly by drinking lots of water, eating well – fruits, veggies and low carb, exercising 30 minutes per day and of course, focusing on what I’m doing.  Once I start focusing on something else, like cooking or remodeling something, that distracts me and can drive me right off track.  I read this article recently called ’10 Things No One Tells You About Losing Weight’ and #10 spoke to me, loud and clear!  It states:

“…the burden of maintaining weight loss may be emotionally taxing.The National Weight Control Registry, which tracks people who have lost more than 30 pounds and maintained it for a year, found that people who are able to maintain weight often can only succeed by becoming obsessive.”

I have already found this to be the case with me and I haven’t even reached my goal yet!  I do have to be a bit obsessive about keeping the weight off.  Although, it does seem to be getting easier since I know what my body responds to, plus I’ve learned to listen to my body more often.  It’s quite interesting how much you learn about yourself from losing weight.  You really learn to pay attention to your body and what it’s telling you.  I think part of weight loss and maintaining your health is listening to your body’s signals.  It gives you plenty, it’s just choosing to hear what it’s saying or ignoring it like so many of us do.

I said in my last couple posts, that I’d update as to how the basement is coming along.  Even after close to 30 samples, I’m still in search of the perfect color.  Yesterday I bought 4 more samples, and I just tried them on the walls, eh…  I have slowed down a bit as I’m trying to even out expenses because of upcoming trips, birthdays, etc.  We have a couple big hitters coming up next month that I’ll have to be prepared for.  But, the really nice thing is, I’m almost there.  Some paint, a couple lights, the pool table recovered, I’m going to call it good.

Here is what the room looks like so far; I really can’t wait til it’s painted!  UGH!

 

Have a terrific day!

xoxo

Weekend Recap

We had great weekend, well, ok, I had a great weekend!  I managed to stay on track with the ole diet, plus we ate out, I cooked and H. even made some cookies!  I turned down Frosty’s, fries, ice cream, etc. and I’m thrilled that I did!  I worked out Friday and Sunday and even despite the rain, managed to get in an hour bike ride!

It rained a lot but that’s ok, we needed it and it did cool it down which is always good when it’s been so hot and humid out.  Since it rained, we napped a lot – ok, I napped a lot.  To me the sound of a rainstorm equals sleep.  I do think I died a little on Saturday.  We laid down for a nap, which usually lasts about an hour and I for some reason, slept for almost three?!?  That never happens!  S. went to 2 birthday parties this weekend and was out until 10 p.m., that’s late for us, so I suppose I was catching up?!  LOL, we’re such old people.

H. had a friend over on Saturday and on Sunday she made the cookies and painted some.  We talked about moving all of her artwork to one wall in her room so she could “showcase” it, so last night she grabbed the hammer and some nails and went to work.  She did it all pretty quickly and I thought it came out great!  She said, “Maybe I’ll be an Interior Decorator?”  I thought, yes, please!  You can start with this house!  LOL

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Today they deliver the TV stand for the basement.  I’m excited!  We’re only waiting on the couch to be delivered now and I can start on the paint & carpet selection!!  I’ll update once they’re finished with the stand!

Since starting work on the TV room downstairs, I threw myself out of there and into the unfinished storage room which now quadruples as a home gym/craft/library/storage room.  I’ve created a pretty awesome workout area if I do say so myself.  It’s just the right size for what I do.  The elliptical, the stationery bike and my college stereo and record player were already in there, so I added a 5 x 7 piece of carpet, a TV and a DVD player and now I’m ready to go!  I have a couple more things to do to dress it up a little, but it’s coming along!!

Have a great Monday everyone!

xoxo

 

I Should Have Known Better

One of the things that’s taken me way from writing lately, is our basement.  Since we moved in our home in 2012, I’ve never spent much time down there except to play a few games of pool and maybe watch a movie or two, but it hasn’t been the “hang out” place I thought it would be.  I have been taking small steps towards making it more comfortable and homey, but it’s been slow going.

We have our cat to thank for speeding up the process a bit.  Our last adoptee is Molly, I’ve mentioned her here before, is an older cat and she obviously came from a home that didn’t make her mind her cat manners.  We have three cats and four litter boxes, when we kept a litter box downstairs we had no problem, but thinking we had combatted the problem sufficiently of her relieving herself, we removed the box from downstairs – uh, bad move.  A couple weeks ago, the oldest had a friend over and they headed downstairs to play some video games and came up holding the couch cushion.  Molly had peed on it.  So….I finally had to say goodbye to our 25 year old couch.  I wasn’t sad about it, not thrilled that that was the reason it had to go, but it was long over due.

I decided to bite the bullet and try online ordering.  I’m not a big fan of online buying when it comes to clothes or furniture because I like to “try before I buy”.  But, I figured since it’s usually the kids and once a year my mom, it doesn’t have to do too much overtime like the furniture upstairs.  I also thought, because it’s a basement and basically a teen hang out area, I would use bolder colors to try to liven it up.  Here are a few pieces that I ordered…

Now, by looking at these items, you would think the floral pattern chair would kinda tie everything together, that the swivel chair’s purple and the green is a cheerful color…weeeelllllllll, not so much.  It’s actually all kinda drab.  The couch hasn’t arrived as of yet, so I can’t speak concerning it’s color yet.  But I’m hoping it’s close to the photo shown!  Mind you, this is all in the pre-stages so everything looks kinda thrown together and a mess.  For now simply focus on the coloring. Here are the photos of the furniture we have received so far…and what it’s looking like so far…

We have one light in this room and one window.  It’s really dark.  I realize that unless you see the room and furniture in person, you really can’t tell, but the chairs are more of a blue gray color than a purple, and the ottoman, well, you can see is more of a dull green.  Don’t get me wrong, I like the colors, it’s just not what I was going for.  And because of the less lively color pattern, I’m obviously going to have to liven the room up with paint and splashes of color using pillows, artwork and the like.  Which is not the worst thing in the world, just again, not what I was going for.

I would love to hear opinions!  I’m still looking for the right wall color and can’t wait for the couch to come in.  That will probably be the decision maker, but it’s not supposed to arrive until the end of August and I’m ready to get this show on the road!!  So help me out, what are your thoughts on this?  Can it still be as fun and cute as I was going for?  I hope so!

Have a great Tuesday everyone!

xoxo

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