Monday, December 19, 2011

"Just One Thing" Update for the Weekend

While my pot of ham & navy beans simmers away in our heavy cast iron dutch oven on this cloudy, blustery day, I thought I would pop on here to give an account for myself over the weekend.
Saturday- I didn't do any exercise. If I were to offer up an excuse, it would be that I had to work Saturday and Sunday so...that's why. But really, I don't want to make excuses, I just didn't do it.
Ditto for Scrapbooking/Crafting
Sunday- I did a mere 8 minutes of exercise.
No Scrapbooking/Crafting.
Today, Monday- I went for 22 minutes on the treadmill (7 extra to make up for the lack of over the weekend).
So far today no Scrapbooking/Crafting. But I'm hoping to change that before the day is over.
I still haven't decided what my third "Just One Thing" I want to work on that is not already an established habit in my daily rituals. I do want it to be something that constantly nags at my innermost core with the ever present question, "if I want to do it so bad, then why aren't I doing it?". And unfortunately, there are a few of those so I want to pick my battle wisely. Among those are (just to name a few):
1. writing.
2. purging the material things that just don't serve me well anymore.
3. break my lifelong habit of comfort food eating at night. Bad, very bad.
4. get those items on ebay that I want to sell.
I wont go on. But I could. Because those things pile up on me because I'm a big ole' procrastinator (I like to use the term "creative diversions" ;) Oh yes, I'm great at creative diversion!).
In other news, school is officially out for the Christmas break and today Ari & I did some Christmas related shopping & errands. And were back at home, cozy & content after a brief siesta.
Now it's time to go catch up on all the little things that keep my busy around here...

Friday, December 16, 2011

I'm making a list...

I have, for a long time now, used a "just one thing" principle to keep things in my life from getting behind or building up, whatever the case may be. For instance, when I walk into a room, I do "just one thing" that needs to be done. In the kitchen it may be to take out the trash or as trivial as putting away a lone clothespin (that we use to clip bags shut) lying on the counter. Sometimes, if I have time, I may do more than one thing but ONE THING is my minimum. It helps to keep clutter down so that it doesn't slowly overtake us like so much quicksand.
In the spirit of this principle, I have decided to work on different areas of my life that need improvement and attention, (such as exercise) in the same fashion. So, I've begun to examine what those areas should be and so far my list is very short:



1. Exercise-for just 15 minutes a day. Every day. I can do that. It's a start. (After two foot surgeries recently, I became very complacent about exercise. So now, I'm going to get back into it with baby steps.) Just one exercise session, fifteen minutes a day.






As I add to my list, (and it will not be more than three things~don't wanna overwhelm myself!) I will post them here. I just want to do things that will make the most impact or things that I always wanna do but just never get around to...



Ding, ding, ding! I've got it!






2. Scrapbooking/crafting!!! (it just came to me as I was typing!) I can give that fifteen minutes a day as well. Every day.



Now, what will number three be? Hmmm...



Progress/Update:



I have done 15 minutes on the treadmill today!


I did not scrapbook but did finish some mending work on my very first quilt so I could finally, after months, give it to my grandson! So, since I've procrastinated on it for so long, I'm gonna let that count.



Thursday, December 15, 2011

An Unexpected Parade






Lots of loot!
















Last Thursday, I headed out with my oldest son, my daughter and my grandson to see the festival of lights in a neighboring town. Just after we turned the corner to the street that the park is on where the light display is held, police officers were directing people to go down a side street.



"What is going on?!" We wondered aloud.




A quick glimpse told us that there was going to be a parade!




We began to head in the direction that the parade would be going and soon found a spot to park less than a block away. And just as we got to the parade route, we could see the parade would soon be passing by. And we were going to see it from beginning to end! We couldn't have planned it better if we had tried. I whispered a thankful prayer and began to record the parade on my little camera.




We encouraged Jesse to wave at the people in the parade since they were throwing lots & lots of candy! He seemed to enjoy the sights & sounds but soon asked when the parade would be over, lol! I guess to a five year old it seemed to go on forever!




As the parade ended and we were walking back to the car, we all agreed that we were glad our light show got preempted by an unexpected Christmas parade and made plans to go back the next week to see the lights.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Fennel Scented Chicken

My new Misto found for $7.99 at TJ Maxx! I've been wanting one of these for so long now! LOVE it!



Last night, when faced with the dinner hour, and knowing I had some fennel fronds and stalks left over from this, I did a bit of online research. I came up with this plan:

I took a whole frozen chicken from our freezer and did a quick thaw (this was around 1 o'clock. I filled the sink with water and put the chicken, still in it's wrapper, in. A couple of hours later, I took the chicken from its plastic wrapper and put it to soak in a big bowl filled with water. It was thawed & ready to go by 4:30!)

I peeled some taters & cut into 1/2-3/4" rounds. I sprayed my roasting pan with olive oil, set the potatoes in a single layer on the pan and began to deal with the fennel fronds & stalks. I just rough chopped some of the fronds & a stalk or two (I put the rest in a freezer bag to make a veggie stock out of later). I sprinkled the potato rounds with some fennel fronds, sprayed them down with some olive oil & then tackled the chicken.




I took the neck out of the cavity of the chicken, dried the bird off with one of my beloved flour sack towels (of course it was clean!) and sprayed it with olive oil, sprinkled & rubbed some garlic powder, turmeric, salt & pepper all over him, placed him on the bed of fennely potatoes and then threw a handful of chopped fennel stalk inside the cavity.

I had preheated the oven to 360 degrees so it was ready and waiting to welcome Mr. Bird with waiting arms. I set the time for 1 hour & 30 minutes & walked away.

I forgot to take a picture of the finished product but it was delicious!


In retrospect:

1) I could have probably used more fennel but didn't want to overwhelm the chicken with it.

2)We had to cook the bird a bit longer than the hour & a half since hubby came home and pulled out his handy dandy meat thermometer to be sure it had reached a safe temp. Probably closer to 2 hours I would say, though I didn't really pay attention once he set the thermometer to beep when the chicken was at the right temp.

3)The potatoes under the chicken had to be put back in the oven for another 30 minutes because they weren't quite done. There were enough cooked through though so that we were able to enjoy some with our meal.

4)A little green salad completed the meal!

5)I fly by the seat of my pants wayyy too often at dinner time but, somehow, it always works out ;) .

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Haute SHOCK-ol-ahhhhhhh!

Last Friday, I set out to make up some hot chocolate mix gifts. Ya know, just a little something to give to co-workers, acquaintances, etc.
I got off to a really good, organized start. I assembled the ingredients...
began dumping and mixing...

and then it happened. A powdered sugar explosion...

And what to my wondering eyes should appear? It got all over my britches. Me, the apron maker. Did. Not. Have. An. Apron. On.
Well, I learned my lesson and scurried over to grab one of my most Christmasy aprons...

and got back to work...


I used some Christmasy fabric and traced around a saucer on it to get "perfect" rounds to top off the jars with. I used pinking shears to cut the fabric~helps keep it from fraying and just looks pretty.
The little snowmen tags are from a Christmas past that I bought at Walmart. They are stickers so I just used some scrapbooking scissors to give scrapbooking paper a pretty edge, stuck on a snowman, punched a hole in the top corner and strung the ribbon through to tie on the jar.
The green tag peeking out from under the snowman gift tag? It's a sheet of scrapbook paper that I printed the recipe on, cut with a pretty border, puched a hole in the corner and tied it on with the ribbon. The ribbon? Its from my stash. I save just about everything.
Where did I find this most delicious recipe you might ask?

From Miss Tammy, the most hospitable woman I can think of.

Go ahead, make someones day. Give 'em some of this lip lickin' hot chocolate for their very own.

Resources:

You can get FREE cute gift tags (not pictured here) by going here. Just pull out some cardstock from your scrapbooking/crafting supplies to print them on. So cute.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Crock Pot Potpourri



I had some ground cinnamon vanilla nut coffee on hand that was left over from an event and, try as I may, couldn't give it away & it's not something I could foresee us drinking. Every time I went into the pantry and saw that bag sitting there I would try to think of what I could do with it.

Lightbulb!

I remembered walking into a quaint little shop in our historic district that sells teas and coffees and. It. Smelled. DEVINE! Like snickerdoodles or somethin'! So I thought, hmmmm....

And dug out our little crock pot/slow cooker, added some water and sprinkled in some of those thar coffee grounds...

Yeah, I know, it doesn't look pretty but it fills the house with some deeeliscious smellin' fragrance. Ari came home from school that day and commented on how yummy it smelled.

It reminded me how much it means to our families to come home to HOME: great smells, warm lighting, a bit of order, soft music (or hubby's favorite news or game show already playing on the tv; sound down low-for my benefit, lol! ). It is a big ol' hug that greets 'em before you are able to. And if you work outside the home? Put that slow cooker to use. Either with a little potpourri that's been simmering all day or, better yet, a meal that greets everyone with a yummy, lip lickin' aroma. (And dinners done so it's one less thing we ladies have to do!)

Yes, since that day, my little slow cooker has been settin' out on the counter top, working overtime. Simmering orange peels, apple peels & spices for fragrance (I save all those peels in ziplocs in the freezer). Or maybe some more ugly cinnamon vanilla nut coffee grounds. In the mornings I put our oatmeal in it on warm so it's ready to eat when we are~everyone is on a wee bit different schedule for breakfast.

And, it has inspired me to keep at least ONE scented candle burning somewhere (the bathroom is a good place ;P ) when we're at home at all times, just to add another layer of "smell good".

*A side bonus: these natural fragrances can be tolerated by most people, even folks like me, who are sensitive to certain scents and fragrances!

Simple.

Homey.

Welcoming.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

FREE Gooseberry Patch Downloadable Gift Tags!!!

Do you make gifts from your kitchen to give to friends, co-workers and loved ones? Well Gooseberry Patch has these AdOrAbLe! downloadable gift tags for us to use!

Keepin' it merry 'round here!~TJ

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

A Hearty Root Veggie Soup...

(this pic was taken after the soup had been in the fridge so probably not the most appetizing looking)



Perfect for this cold snap we're experiencing down here y'all!




It's a warm, filling, comfort type soup that even my 16 year old loved! Served along with some gluten free, multi grained crackers...Deeelicious!




Stay warm & toasty!




Monday, December 5, 2011

A Mexican Inspired Breakfast from Things I Had on Hand...


"Migas" (basically scrambled eggs, crispy tortilla chips, cheddar, sour cream & salsa)
Green salad (iceberg & spinach)

Pretty.
Delicious.

Friday, December 2, 2011

FREE! Burger King Fries!

Candied Sweet Potato Bread

I'm still using the GE hand mixer my Granny got me when I was 18! It's been a real workhorse and still going strong!







Wednesday I set out to make use of the candied sweet potatoes my hubby pours himself into each Thanksgiving. I hate waste so after a little internet search, I found this nifty recipe , it sounded delish & I had just enough leftover yams to make a double batch soooo....fire up the oven!


I even got frisky and full of myself & decided to try to make a gluten free loaf for Ari...AND SHE LOVED IT!!! (I'm scared of me~could I be a little wicked in the kitchen or what?! Not braggin'~I won't discuss a little mishap involving cayenne pepper & sugar.) Moving on...


I followed the recipe with a few exceptions:

(keep in mind, I doubled the recipe)


1)There were still a couple of marshmallows on the yams so I just measured them right with the yams. No harm done.

2)I weighed out 1 pound of the wet mixture before adding the dry ingredients and set aside for making the gluten free loaf.

3)I used about a scant 2/3 of a tablespoon of homemade pumpkin pie spice (smells divine) to "our" batter and a scant 1/3 tablespoon to "Ari's" batter. I eyeballed it.


4)for the "flour" for the gluten free loaf, I used some Hodgson Mill Gluten Free Multi Purpose Baking Mix that I had on hand. I still added the baking soda and salt (doubled then divided by three then use one-third of those measurements for the gluten free batter. two thirds for "our" batter. Confused? So am I. Just do the math. I'm not a math whiz...if I can do it...yada yada yada)



That's all there was to it.








fresh from the oven





And they turned out great.
























































Now that wasn't so hard was it?




























Thursday, December 1, 2011

Succulent Succulents

After strolling the streets of Austin, I was inspired to begin a succulent collection. This is the beginning:




from left ro right: unknown/no marker info, echeveria 'black prince', elkhorns


Oh, and I picked up a few Christmas cacti too.

Austin, TX Getaway






The Omni was nice but we'll be staying here next time!










Beginning the week of Thanksgiving, we took a little trip to Austin. Capitol of Texas. I'd never been there before. I'd heard it was "weird". And it was. A little. But I'm a little weird. So I fit right in.















Rain was predicted for those days but it only rained during times that we weren't going to be out & about. (TYF) It rained just as we arrived but cleared up by that evening when we ventured out for dinner. We had our doghter in tow so we had to find places that were puppy friendly. That wasn't a problem at all. Austin is very dog friendly. We ate at a little place called Maudie's, al fresco of course, and they brought a doggy dish of water when they delivered our drinks. (Actually all the restaurants we ate at had the same practice~serving out girl water when we arrived!). Yummy Mexican food! (Our FaVoRiTe!) We drove around to check out the sights before heading back to the hotel. The nightlife is hoppin' there!
















It rained while we slept that night and the temperatures cooled so the next day was beautiful! We spent the day eating and shopping and strolling and eating some more. The grande finale of the day was watching the bats take their flight at dusk to find their dinner. Awe-mazing! TYF










Sadly, we never made it to check out 6th Street. NEXT TIME!!!
















Here's just a few pictures of our fun times:







DF having a drink at The Snack Bar (a must if you like fresh, fab food!)

exploring the town on her own terms

Dollface asked me " mama, what's a yard dog?" (okaaayyy not really)



cool shop with all kindza costumez~or so I heard from Ari (DF & I were busy people watching. Verrry interesting.)







Parking in Austin? Well that's another story.

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