Saturday, September 30, 2006

It's a little off-topic but I have to share!

My daughter's soccer team just won their first game! Huzzah! Today started out on a pretty bad note, my daughter and another teammate were in a bad funk for some reason (probably getting hit in the head by the soccer ball while practicing put my daughter in that mood!), and both were pouting for the first half. By the second half, the kids got their game face on and played hard. I wish I had brought my cam there, but I totally forgot.

I'm so proud of her and her team. Next week- soccer team pictures!

Here's an oldie from their first game on September 9th, 2006. My daughter is the goalie with the red penny shirt on!

Friday, September 29, 2006

Comfort food tonight

Today has been probably one of the worst days I have had in a while, just one of those days where you want to crawl back into bed and stay there. In any case, I decided to make some "comfort food" and put a stew in the crockpot. My grandmother-in-law gave me a bunch of crockpot recipes and I have never put them to use- til today. Here is the recipe:

Beef Stew

2 lbs beef chuck or stew meat (cut into 1-inch cubes)
1/4 cup flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 1/2 cups beef broth
1 teaspoon Worchestershire Sauce
1 clove garlic
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon paprika
4 carrots, sliced
3 potatoes, diced
2 onions, chopped
1 stalk celery, sliced

1. Place meat in crockpot. Mix flour, salt and pepper, and pour over meat, stir to coat meat with flour.
2. Add remaining ingredients and stir to mix well.
3. Cover and cook on low for 10-12 hours or high for 4-6 hours.
4. Stir thoroughly and serve!

I did this a little differently. I forgot to add Paprika, and I added an extra clove of garlic, more than 1 stalk of celery (including that green/yellow leafy part because it's full of flavor), I also substituted baby red potatoes for the traditional russet potatoes (I diced about 10-12 small baby red potatoes). I think the onions was a bit overkill, but I did add both that I diced up.

In any case, it was DELICIOUS and was of great comfort to me tonight, which I needed.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Healthy living and eating

I refuse to call what we have been doing "dieting". Diet connotates something so negative, something I don't want to think about, and something that most people equate with saying certain foods are a no-no. Take my sister-in-law for example, who is like a size 9 and thinks she needs to diet. She's been obsessive about her caloric intake, and while I understand she feels the need to drop a few pounds, I begged her to not be so obsessive about it. I told her that certain proteins are good for her and she needs them (lean proteins like skinless, boneless chicken breast). The problem is her husband likes to grill burgers all the time and that is something she's trying to avoid.

I myself have had a weight problem since I was about 12. It started when I was younger, my father putting me on diets (and I wasn't a fat child, I was very active, but tall and "big-boned"). I was always the tallest in my class. Since having my daughter and getting the Depo Provera shot (which I tell everyone to avoid if they have issues with gaining weight and other problems on hormonal birth control), I have been at my highest weight ever. Things I used to take for granted- regular things like walking without pain, shopping without having to sit down because my back aches, are problems I have been encountering. My husband has been dealing with a weight problem too, and I believe he has a thyroid problem like his mother. I have what is a pre-diabetic condition, called Insulin Resistance, which can make it difficult to lose weight and keep it off. I recently had a blood panel done and luckily, everything turned out just fine- cholesterol, liver function, kidneys and glucose levels all were good. No thyroid problems. A relief, really (especially the glucose/diabetes part, because Type 2 Diabetes runs in my family). My husband and I have committed ourselves to walking together to try to lose this weight, and I have been cooking healthy for a while now. We don't buy junk anymore (no more ice cream, and the last cake I baked was for his work). With Fall and the holidays coming up, my biggest culprit will be all of the baking I do. Now, while I cook and bake, I don't want to eat, but afterwards?? I'll bake enough and take it all elsewhere so it's not sitting around my house.

In any case, one of my biggest points in life has always been to drink at least a half gallon to a full gallon of water a day (which I have been doing for years now). I don't drink pop (I will occasionally, but not on a daily or even weekly basis), and I have been trying to make myself drink more milk. I do drink coffee though, which I know is something I need to cut down on (because the shakes from the caffiene is not normal). My husband has a bad pop problem, and that's something I'm trying to get him out of. I like to buy juice instead, but our problem is the amount of pop he drinks. Overall though, I think we're both doing good, and supporting each other through this will be the key to our success.

At least I hope I can avoid the gastric bypass, because lord knows we can't afford it, but I am keeping my options open for that one.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Need to get rid of some stuffed toys?

Do your children (or yourself?) have heaps of stuffed animals or toys that you are trying to figure how to get rid of?? Look no further than this! Spread the word! There are so many children that our soldiers befriend who do not have much, and soldiers have been trying to give the children in Iraq toys (anything besides candy). If you can help, please check the link above out!

Thank you! :)

Tuesdays are generally the worst

at least dinner-wise, because that's soccer practice day, and soccer practice runs from 6pm-7pm. I think that is the weirdest time for soccer practice, but I understand why (people have to make a living, afterall, and the coach is a volunteer position). Usually I try to make something on Monday nights so I don't have to cook on Tuesdays, but I tend to forget. Last night I didn't though!

Anything fast and easy will do on Tuesday nights, but I'm generally rushed since I let my kiddo play outside til about 5pm and then it's time to haul her butt inside and feed her before the practice.

5 more weeks of soccer. I'm loving it, and she's improving. Just wish we had more people on our's kind of hard for 5 kids to play against a team of 10 kids and not have the chance to be switched in and out of the game!

Monday, September 25, 2006

Peanut Butter Jelly Time

I was sent some weird forward of Kevin Federline (Britney Spear's Babies Daddy) dancing to some song that said, "It's Peanut Butter Jelly Time", so out of pure curiousity I decided to check out "Peanut Butter Jelly Time" on Youtube. There were some really funny and not-so-funny movies of people singing the song and dancing to it, including some Marines who are on active duty (which I thought was hilarious and cute), some kids at what looks like a talent contest (another funny), and of course, the original dancing Banana (I guess?). Seems like this has been around for a while, but I've never even heard of it in the past!

So THAT is what the dancing banana icon is all about?? Hmmm...

Do the peanut butter jelly, peanut butter jelly peanut butter jelly with a baseball bat!

Friday, September 22, 2006

Don't you love it when your spouse drops a potluck on you

unexpectedly? I am almost fully over the flu, but yesterday my dear, dear husband drops the, "We're having a potluck and I need you to bake a dessert" bomb on me. So, what I did was baked a cake from a box mix I had lying around, and resorted back to that Crisco frosting recipe. This time, the frosting came out better, and I flavored it with Banana Extract instead and put pink dye in it to wig out his co-workers. Hee!

I cut up some slices for my daughter and I before he takes it to work tonight, and this is my finished masterpiece (hah!):

Monday, September 18, 2006

The healing power of Green Tea (Review)

I recently picked up a box of a Green Tea Sampler by Stash because three months ago, I decided to give quitting smoking another go. Originally, I quit smoking in January, but slipped up around the time we had to move in late May for a few weeks and then quit again. Since then, I have not slipped up and I don't have any desire to. Anyhow, I heard that Green Tea is a great antioxidant and can help in the process of detoxing your body. I've been using it here and there, but wanted to try a bunch of others and found this box at my local grocer.

Let's flash forward to yesterday morning. I woke up with a sore throat and knew that something was trying to invade my system. By 6pm last night I was in bed, shivering with the chills and a lowgrade fever. This morning I got up and took my daughter to school, and decided that maybe this green tea stuff could help my throat and help me feel better. This pack of tea includes two samples of the following teas:

  • Chai Green
  • Fusion Green & White
  • Jasmine Blossom
  • Lemon Spice
  • Moroccan Mint
  • Organic Green
  • Premium Green
  • Sushi Bar Mild Green
I drank a cup of Premium Green, which I thought was delicious, but didn't have too much of an effect on my aching throat. By mid-morning/early afternoon I decided that Moroccan Mint was probably something I wanted to go with, so I drank a cup of that, and not only was it absolutely delicious, but it was also very soothing to my throat. I haven't had as much pain since I drank that tea. Later on I tried Fusion Green & White, which was very mellow but also soothing on the throat. I just finished up a cup of Lemon Spice, which was an interesting blend of lemongrass with green and black tea. I guess I really went on a tea binge today, but anything to stop my throat from aching at this point.

If you ever see this, it's a great green tea sampler. I can't wait to try the Chai Green one! I paid under $5 for this box, and it had 18 bags of tea in it. You may be able to find it at your local Albertson's (which is where I found it) or another grocer.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Where's the beef?

If you're a vegetarian you may want to skip this entry.

Yesterday while running errands, my husband decided to take us to a local beef company that sells fresh cuts of meats. A while ago, he picked up some steaks for a BBQ at work and they were the most tender steaks we have ever had. So we went in there and saw the prices and decided that we would pick up a few things. We bought some nice Porterhouse steaks at $5.99/lb, some Italian Sausage ($3.99/lb), and pork chops ($1.99/lb, which I thought was a steal). Last night we had the Porterhouse steaks and they were delicious. I have never had a steak cut so easily, almost falling off of the bone. I wish I had taken pictures after he had barbecued them.

I decided if the prices remain the same, we'll buy our meats from there instead of Costco from now on, because they sell boneless and skinless chicken breasts at $1.99/lb (I pay $2.19/lb at Costco), and the pork chops were a good deal. I don't know what a good deal for Prime Rib is, but $6.99/lb sounded about right to me. Whole hams are at $1.99/lb, as well.

I'll definitely be back!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Last night I had a sweet tooth

So I looked up a bunch of sugar cookie recipes because I don't really keep chocolate chips or anything like buttermilk handy. Well, I found a generic recipe for sugar cookies that didn't require a lot and required what I I decided that I would substitute Imitation Almond Extract for the Vanilla and it came out okay, but I think I used too much of it, because I don't know about you, but Imitation Almond Extract tends to be very drying on your tongue and it's hard to get rid of that aftertaste.

Anyhow, here's what I Almond Sugar Cookies

  • 1 cup shortening
  • 1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons Almond Extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1. Preheat over to 300°F and grease a cookie sheet (or two or three).
2. Cream the sugar(s), shortening and eggs together and then add your Almond extract in and mix well.
3. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. If you don't like it dry add maybe 1/4 cup of water to make the dough more "wet" or moist (which is what I did).
4. You can either drop these or roll these and put them on the cookie sheets. I rolled them into small balls and then pressed them down onto the cookie sheet. It yielded 4 cookie sheets worth.
5. Bake for 9-12 minutes or until brown and then let cool down.

I'm going to play around with this recipe another time and add things to it (maybe orange/lime/lemon zest, chocolate/butterscotch chips, etc) to see how they turn out.

They are okay, but less Almond Extract would be the key here...NOTE: I put 2 tablespoons down because that's what the original recipe called for with the Vanilla Extract. I'd maybe do just 1 tbsp of the Almond.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Five years ago today

Today I dedicating my blog to the memory of a fallen firefighter who died on September 11, 2001, Brian McAleese.

To be honest with you, I had never heard of Brian McAleese until I signed up to do a tribute to a victim of 9/11. His story is like many others, but his loss is felt profoundly by his family, which include his wife, Dawn, and his four children. He also left behind his mother, Ann Marie, as well as his siblings John, Kevin and Maureen. John is a firefighter and Kevin is a city police officer.

When I think about Brian, I think of my husband, and what it would mean to be left behind. I think of Dawn and I think of their four children, and I can't even begin to imagine the loss they feel. I think of my daughter and how she's beginning to understand what 9/11 is all about; I think of my daughter without her father and how that would impact her life. Then I felt guilty because I feel lucky. Lucky to have my husband, even if we fight and argue over the most stupid things. Lucky to be alive.

Five years ago today, men like Brian went into the World Trade Center twin towers to do a job that they were trained to do- save lives and put out fires. They put their lives on the line to try to save people who were stuck and waiting to be rescued. Whenever I see a firefighter, or police officer, my thoughts tend to travel back to that day, thinking about what they do to keep us safe, to maintain order and peace. But on that day, only chaos ensued and no one, including the police and firefighters, had any idea how to handle something of this magnitude. Despite that, they went in and did their jobs to the best of their knowledge, and because of that, over 50 police officers and over 300 firefighters died in the collaspe of the World Trade Center. Could I stand up in a time of sheer chaos and terror and put my life on the line for someone else? Someone I don't even know? Of course, as a mother I would do anything to save my child, but what about a perfect stranger? That's a question I have to ask myself.

Before 9/11/01, Brian was taking on overtime hours to pay for the christening of his son, Aidan, who was 4 months old on 9/11/01. His other children included Liam, who was then 2 years old, Jack, then 4, and Brianne, then 5 and a half years old. A devoted and proud father and husband, Brian loved to host parties, celebrate his Irish heritage, and spending time on the beach with his family. Brian was 36 years old on 9/11.

There is a documentary that tells the story of 9/11 as experienced by the firefighters and police who were there that day as well as 9/11 widows. One story focuses on a fireman from Engine Company 226, Tommy Casatelli, who switched places with Brian on that day. Brian went into the building, Tommy didn't. This movie is called Brothers...on Holy Ground. There is an interview with Tommy, who is overcome with what is known as survivor's guilt, and there is also an interview with Brian's brother, John (another firefighter as mentioned before).

Initially going into this tribute I didn't know what I could say that could even measure up to a person I didn't know who sacrificed so much to help others. What I can say is that I hope that others will understand that of the 3,000+ lives that were lost that day, each life has a personal story behind it and is well worth knowing. I can only hope that I did Brian's family proud and honored his memory by writing this today. There is no way I could ever understand that kind of loss, but I can only imagine it being raw especially on today, the 5th anniversary. I just hope that somehow, the McAleese family has some sort of comfort within each other and with their memories of Brian as a son, as a brother, as a husband, as a father, and as a friend.

May you rest in peace, Brian.

2,996 Tribute

ALTERNATE 2,996 site because the original site is down at the moment.

Sources: Victim Search

DVD review Brothers...On Holy Ground

Thursday, September 07, 2006

On school lunches

I received my daughter's lunch menu from her school and it's pretty much the same kind of menu as her last school had (I believe it's a district-wide issue). Stuff like "Macho Nachos", breakfast for lunch stuff like "Pancake on a Stick" brought me right back to my fifth grade year of elementary school. The lunches were not prepared at the school (unlike my daughter's) and were driven to us every day. In the fifth grade, you were allowed to volunteer services to help unload and serve out hot lunch for a week at a time. As a reward, you were allowed one extra chocolate milk on Wednesdays when they had chocolate milk. Nowadays the kids get chocolate milk on a daily basis in her school district, something I'm not fond of, but what are you going to do?

Another thing I noticed when I dropped her off at her school (she switched schools this year, stayed in the same district though), was that there were two Dasani machines. I thought, "oh no...please tell me they didn't put pop in my daughter's elementary school...", but it turned out to have Minute Maid juice and Dasani water. The Juice vending machine is 75 cents per bottle. The Dasani water vending machine is 50 cents per bottle, which I think is a good deal. I slipped 50 cents into her pocket this morning, hoping she wouldn't spend it on a chocolate milk and hoping she used it for water when she got thirsty (which I had explained to her that it was supposed to be for water).

When she got home, I asked her if she still had the money and she told me, "I got a chocolate milk today!". (Despite the fact that I packed her a juice box with her lunch...)

Six year olds.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

A product I love and a product I hate

Kitchen appliance-wise...

The product I love right now is my crockpot. As mentioned before in this blog, I dug out my crockpot and started using it to make my pasta sauces, beans, etc...and it has been a godsend for when I feel lazy and don't want to stand over the stove.

The one product I hate in my kitchen right now is my coffee maker. When we first moved up here to Washington State we had to start from scratch because we only came up with a 5x7 trailer hooked to the back of our car. Well, that meant going to the Value Village and buying a used coffee maker. Why I haven't bought a new one, I don't know, but it takes a good 15 minutes to brew coffee. That is something that will be replaced soon.


The one I love right now is a tie between garlic and onions. This is truly a staple that I have neglected to buy in the past on a regular basis. Now I can't imagine my crisper drawer without them. I put them in almost everything I cook.

The one I hate right now?? That jar of Crisco. I think I'll give it to my sister-in-law. She always has that stuff on hand...she loves it for some reason. Blargh!

Monday, September 04, 2006

Crisco Frosting recipe review

I've decided from now on that I will be making my own frosting if I am going to bake a cake (which is always a box mix cake because baking a cake from scratch is a journey I have not ventured into yet). Anyhow, I looked up a few recipes and found one on Crisco's website. Mind you, I do not have an electric mixer, everything is done by hand, so it takes me a bit longer than what the recipes entail.

Tonight I baked a Lemon cake and decided to make an Almond Buttercream Frosting.

Here is the recipe (and picture) from Crisco as follows:

Buttery Cream Frosting

4 cups confectioners' sugar
1/3 cup Butter Flavor CRISCO all-vegetable shortening or 1/3 Butter Flavor CRISCO Stick
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla
7 -8 tablespoons milk

In medium mixing bowl, combine confectioners' sugar, Butter Flavor Crisco, and vanilla.
Slowly blend in milk to desired consistency.
Beat on high speed for 5 minutes, or until smooth and creamy.

I substituted Imitation Almond Extract for the Vanilla and I don't think it went real well with the Lemon cake. I thought it would, but it just didn't taste right. While making the frosting, I have to say that I am amazed at how much confectioner's sugar is needed to make frosting- WOW! That is a LOT of sugar! Never realized how much sugar was in frosting til now! After mixing it well it resembled what I was used to seeing out of a can, but tasted a lot different than the frosting in a can. I wasn't too fond of it at first but then it dawned on me that I put Almond frosting on a Lemon cake and maybe it wasn't meshing well together.

I'll review the next recipe I have the next time I bake a cake. I don't know why I never made frosting from scratch before. I've ventured into baking breads, pies, and cookies from scratch- but never cakes or frosting. Frosting is so easy compared to the other stuff I have baked. So I guess I can consider it a lesson learned.

What kind of Pie are you?

You Are Mud Pie

You're the perfect combo of flavor and depth
Those who like you give into their impulses

Friday, September 01, 2006

No Potato Left Behind

Don't get me started on the stupid system that is NCLB (No Child Left Behind)...but let's discuss my non-political take on it, NPLB- No Potato Left Behind. So, Mr. Pie decided he would go to the store on Sunday and pick up the best baking potatoes you could find. He didn't just buy the 3 we needed for that night- no, he picked up an ENTIRE paper bag full of them (I'd say about...10 or 12 of them). So I was stuck in a rut and seeing as potatoes tend to go bad in this apartment of ours rather quickly (why, I don't know!), I made good use of them. I suppose I could have made a potato salad, but I didn't think of that *Smacks hand to forehead*- DOH!

So Monday night, I decided to make mashed potatoes along with a meatloaf. That took care of most of the potatoes, and was enough to leave for leftovers til Wednesday. Wednesday night I took the last three potatoes and baked them, because I was feeling rather lazy.

So by Wednesday night, I had used up all of the potatoes Mr. Pie decided to pick up. We generally have a rule of No (food item inserted here) Left Behind, as we know what it's like to go without.