Friday, November 27, 2009

Reinventing Black Friday

I've been talking down Black Friday this holiday season and what a crazy time it has turned out to be. I said I wasn't going to participate this year. And I didn't. Well, I didn't go to WalMart or Toys R Us, or ShopKo or any of those big box stores with their huge and insane sales. I wanted to spend my shopping standing in lines.

So my sister and I went to the outlets in Park City. Granted, we weren't able to buy electronics or many other things that one might buy for Christmas, but we sure got some good deals on clothing, jewelry, shoes, coats and everything else you can buy at the outlets!

So to recap our morning in a nutshell, we hit a few of the teenage stores because my sister's 16 year old daughter and her friend were with us. We went to Rue 21 where there were some great deals and then to Aeropostale. Aeropostale was a HUGE letdown and I actually left the store in disgust and protest. Evidently they re-tagged EVERY single thing in their store to twice the normal price and then said everything in the store was 50% off. HOW LAME ARE YOU AEROPOSTALE?

We only know this because my sister and her daughter were in that same store only two weeks ago and bought several items that are still being sold. All of the things they bought were now tagged at twice what they paid for them. I just think that is so lame and I really hesitate to even shop there anymore if that's their idea of good commerce.

The best deal of the day was definitely at Columbia. You received 20% off everything you bought and most of the store was already 30%-50% off. That meant that a lot of what I bought was 70% off! I bought lunch boxes, back packs, coats for the kids for next year, and lots of jackets and sweatshirt type things - gifts! It was awesome! I bought a ton of stuff there and only spent $100.

I also spent a lot of time at The Children's Place (lots of $2.99 shirts, skirts, pants) and Gap Kids where I bought a lot of "necessary" clothing - not many gifts. But they had really good sales too! I think the best kids' clothing sale that I hit was at Carter's though. Except for $9 fleece pajamas (which can be purchased on a regular basis at Costco), the other deals there were excellent!

We got up there at 5:30 AM and there were people there but no more than a regular Saturday would find. By 11:00 though it was getting crowded so it was definitely worthwhile to go early. Several stores had better sales (like Columbia) that ended at 8, 9 or 10 AM so it was nice to take advantage of those sales.

All in all, I got quite a bit of Christmas shopping done but it was a shopping trip more dedicated to filling out our wardrobes and getting ahead of growing kids. The beautiful Columbia coat I bought for Bugs was worth the trip alone. I will absolutely do the outlets again. Less stress, less people, awesome deals and a very fun start to the holidays.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Candy Shop War Review

It's no news I'm a bookworm. If I take a sabbatical from my blog for any space of time, you can bet it's because I'm entrenched in a good book in some nook in my house....avoiding housework, my family, responsibilities of any kind.

Recently, I've found myself drawn more and more often to the Adolescent or Teen Fiction section. And it's no surprise that I'm a big Harry Potter fan, having read each book at least three times.

It's not that the books are easier to read, although they are, I just don't face a lot of the complicated, mature and liberal issues that you will in adult fiction. I've tired of not knowing if the book I've just checked out will turn out to be full of issues I'd rather not clutter my brain with. I'd like to remain in my naivety, thank you very much.

So in browsing the short bookshelves the other day, I found The Candy Shop War by Brandon Mull, author if the Fablehaven series, another very popular series that I have yet to read because it's never at the library.

The Candy Shop War was a terrific book. I was absorbed the whole time. Written with insight, endless creativity and imagination beyond measure, this book definitely is worthy of its own sequel. I am constantly amazed at the capacity of some authors to create interwoven plots full of so much texture and layers that blow my mind! This book was very well thought out.

If you're a mother who likes to pre-read books before your kids stick their nose into them, rest assured that this book has passed my extremely conservative hawk-eye. As would be expected of a book in this genre, you should have no fear - this book is free from foul language, suggestive innuendos, there is some violence but it's not graphic, there are no drug/alcohol references, there is no condemnation of the higher powers (that being God Himself) - just magic.

However, don't take my word for it. If you decide to pre-read this book for your kids, it will likely be a pleasurable experience if you like this type of book. But, if the "Harry Potter", type books weren't your thing, and you fall more into the "Twilight" pool, then you probably won't make it past the first several pages.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

My Next 10 Years

I might have expected myself to write this post this time last year instead of this year since it was last year I turned 35. However, as my birthday gets closer (now only a few weeks away), I find myself considering my past 10 years. And I feel proud. Since I turned 25 I have:

  • received both my B.S. and Master's degrees
  • passed my occupational therapy certification exam
  • gave birth to two beautiful and unique girls
  • married an amazing man
  • stay married to that amazing man :)
  • became an active member of the LDS church and received my endowments in the temple
  • made and kept more wonderful friends than I've had in my entire life
I was thinking about the space of ten years. While it seems to go by rather quickly at times, especially when it comes to our children, it is actually quite a span of time. It is obviously enough time to make major achievements in our lives.

So as I contemplate again, that span of ten years, I wonder what my next ten have in store for me. Or I could re-phrase that. What do I hold in store for those ten years? I do have most of the control (excluding major catastrophic incidences and health related problems). I could do pretty much anything! What then? I know I don't have to plan it all right now but when I was in my twenties, I had a pretty good idea of the things I wanted to achieve in the next several years - and I did those. All of them.

Among some of the things I would like to consider for the future might be related to an increasing self of financial comfort, as in retirement and college funds. We've largely left those up in the air, sadly and shamefully. I'd also like to consider health related goals like perhaps more races and intense triathlons. It would also be great to include some family travel. In ten years, my baby will be 10 - easily an age where we could go to Europe or Asia if we chose. Professionally, I need to consider what business I'd like to be in and where I want that business to be. And what of my kids? I guess I don't have control over what they will and won't become but I have influence - what am I going to do about that in the next 10 years? And lastly but most importantly...what am I going to do to progress myself spiritually?

Lots to think about. My next 10 years could be some of the most productive of my life. I'm young still, and in good health. My children will be around me but increasingly independent. There is so much that I can do - what WILL I do? What will make me proud in 10 more years?

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Shout Out To A Specific Few Readers

I noticed recently that I'm getting a ton of traffic from a website called My Fat Cure. I tried to go there because I noticed it's relating to hCG and those that have taken that journey and found that it was by invitation only *sigh*. Would someone send me an invitation? I'd love to join your forum!

Thank you!

Low Carb Thanksgiving - It Can Be Good

I've talked before having a lower carb lifestyle. And now I want to put it to practice on a day that is typically loaded with carbs like stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, rolls and pies. How are you going to get through this if you're doing your best to keep your carbs on the lower side? It can be done - and you can feel satisfied.

But first, remember this. When you think back on various Thanksgiving feasts (let's just say last year), what are your poignant memories? For me, I remember where we had it. I remember who was there. I remember where I sat and who sat next to me and around me. I even remember to some extent what we talked about. What I don't remember is what I ate. I don't remember how many servings I had of this and if I had pie afterward. I don't remember the rolls, the stuffing or even the pumpkin roll. I'm sure the food was great, but what my memories are made of are family, interaction, conversation and friendship. That being said...

Fortunately, Thanksgiving is mainly about one big protein: Turkey! So at least you've got that going for you. Eat it - eat as much of it as you want.

Aside from that, modifications have to be made or else you're just going to be doing mini tastes of the rests of the food, and that's no fun at all. So let's talk modifications.

You may want to try some of these recipes before you decide to take them to your family's Thanksgiving but if your family has any women in it, they may thank you for providing some alternatives to the higher carb fare.

First of all, make sure there is always a veggie try with your favorite dip like Ranch or sour cream & onion. What a perfect dish! It's snackable and with the dip, you don't feel too deprived! Put carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, olives, pea pods or whatever else you love in it.

Next, you're really serious about low carb, you've got to try the mashed cauliflower. Steam some florettes then put them in your food processor with a little milk, cream cheese and butter. Cream them all together until you get a mashed potato consistency. Serve them hot. You'll be surprised about how delicious these are and how satisfying they are. Plus, there are lots of things you can make with mashed cauliflower. I've tried many and the breadsticks are very good (I'll post that recipe another time).

Another good replacement is for pumpkin pie. If you can live without the crust (which is nothing but flour and fat!) you might be okay with just the pie itself. It's my favorite part frankly. I got this recipe from here, where incidentally there are a ton of other really good recipes.

Pumpkin Pie
Sweetened condensed milk, low-carb recipe (see below)
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp cloves
2 large eggs
1 can pumpkin
sweetener, to taste
pie shell

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
In a mixing bowl, combine all ingredients. Pour into prepared pie shell. Baker at 425 for 15 minutes, and then bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.
Low-carb sweetened condensed milk
1 cup nonfat dry milk
1/2 cup boiling water
3 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp Stevia

Combine all in a blender. Mix until well-blended. Makes the equivalent of one can of sweetened, condensed milk.
This pumpkin pie is REALLY good and can easily pass for a regular recipe.
If you love sweet potatoes, here is a good recipe that limits the sugar but leaves the yum!
Twice baked yams
8 small sweet potatoes
2 cups pumpkin
1 package cream cheese*
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Place yams on cookie sheet. Cut cross-hatch into the top (an "x") and bake for an hour. Let cool for 15 minutes.
Change oven temperature to 350 degrees
Carefully peel back top edges from the yams. Leaving the shells intact, scoop out the innards. Keep half*, and save the rest for another recipe. Mash yam innards. Add pumpkin, cream cheese and butter and mix until fluffy.
Spoon or pipe mixture back into the shells and bake for 20 minutes or until warm.
Optional: Top with sour cream, butter,bacon bits and cheese for a loaded version. For a sweeter flavor, sprinkle with nutmet and cinnamon, and a small pat of butter.(Adjust nutritional values according to additions)
Makes 8 small yams.

These are the less "involved" carb replacements. If you want to get "carb crazy" then do a search for "oopsies" which are an interesting bread/bun replacement and also have a look at the various carb replacements on this website AND the Miracle Noodle.
Managing your waistline is about control - who is doing the controlling? The food - or you? Look back on your Thanksgiving feast this year and be proud of the decisions you made. Have good food but don't let it be the focus. Eat well and live well.
Good luck and Happy low-carb Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Kraft Food & Family Is No Longer Free

I've been receiving Kraft Food & Family for several years now and have made many of their recipes, especially their dinners. Of course all of their foods call for Kraft products such as soups, salad dressings, cheese etc. No problem - just use whatever you have. I'm not loyal to many brands of foods. I buy what's inexpensive and if it sucks, I don't buy it again. End of story.

In the past couple of months, Kraft Food & Family has made a big marketing decision regarding their magazine and has opted to take it out of the "free" category and charge their customers for it. Evidently they felt they had a strong enough following to start a paying subscription. They probably do.

I've been considering for several months whether I'd become a paying customer to keep getting the magazine. I received their most recent November issue the other day and dutifully clipped all of the recipes I'd like to try. I thought this month would probably be my deciding factor. However, there weren't recipes I lusted after this issue.

I recently bought a subscription to Taste of Home, a magazine I truly love. Every single recipe in it that I've tried (with perhaps 2 exceptions) has turned out to be a winner. With KFF, I really never know if what I'm going to be putting on the table is even going to be palatable. And honestly, there have been times...sorry. I've discussed this with several friends who get KFF also and have had similar responses. Sometimes the recipes are good (hardly ever GREAT) and sometimes leftovers just get trashed. The up side is that they're fast, usually you have the ingredients on hand, and they're inexpensive to make. Most of the time also, they're kid friendly (and I guess to some people that is a lot).

The yearly subscription that they're offering me is only $6/year and if I hadn't already tried the magazine over the course of several years, I'd be willing to give it a go. However, if they're not making any other changes besides charging me for it, I guess I'm going to end my relationship with KFF and look forward to receiving my good and trusted (that never lets me down) Taste of Home.

Sorry Kraft Food & Family. I just don't love Italian dressing in my ravioli.

Being Careful Worked

I was nearer the top of my 2 lb. breathing room yesterday and that's why I was "being careful" like I said yesterday. It's why I opted out of a real breakfast. And it worked. I was down 3/4 of a lb. this morning and I haven't exercised since Sunday because I'm on the brink of a really bad chest cold. Chest colds and me just don't mix because my lungs are wimpy and give me trouble at the drop of a hat.

Anyway, so I can move on to a little more liberal eating today. Yay! I could easily slip into my bad habits if I'm not careful and as evidence of that, this is what I've eaten today: 2 bites of cake, 4 candy corns. It's noon. Not a good sign.

I put some chicken out on the counter to thaw out and I'll have a chicken salad later to compensate for my sugar fix this morning. That'll solve it.

I'm headed to the bead store when Tink wakes up. I've decided to start putting those cute funky, chunky watchbands on my Etsy site. They sell like hotcakes and are so cute! I'll make a few and see how they do. Plus, I love to make them.

In other news, just to ground me and help me remember my true calling is that of "Mother", I've wiped up bodily fluids from every single member of this family today (ok excluding the Marshmallow but that's because he left early) and that includes the freaking cat. If I had only known 20 years ago that I'd be living such a glamorous life at 35, I'd not have stalled having children for so long, lol!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

hCG and Maintenance

Once people get over the initial "Wow" about hCG, they are usually interested in how successful maintenance is. Can you maintain such great weight loss? It's a good question, and anyone truly interested in shedding weight should be curious about it.

When I was researching hCG in the beginning, I read many reports about people who were maintaining their weight and it was typically within 5 lbs. of their lowest weight on hCG. If you're especially diligent, you can maintain within 2 with minimal effort.

I've been off of hCG now for about a month, have successfully added carbs back into my diet and have maintained within 2 lbs. I have done 1 steak day but it wasn't because I was over 2 lbs. I did it so I could be at my lowest weight and have some wiggle room to add carbs in; a tactic I highly recommend.

Phase III can be a very stressful period for hCG'ers because all of the sudden they are released into the world of food knowing they are able to add "all oils and fats" back in. But the rules are very vague as to how much to eat and what exactly you should be eating.

I did it wrong one time. In the two weeks that I was "off" between rounds, I did about 4 steak days and had a difficult time figuring out where my balance was. But in all failure there is success and I learned a great deal about my body during that time. My 2nd foray into Phase III was, as I said, a complete success.

All bodies are different so what worked for me may not necessarily be the key to your success but it's a start. Here's how I did it.

As Phase I came to an end, I mentally prepared myself for a low-carb lifestyle. Talk to anyone who is serious about health and weight maintenance and you'll find that moderation in carbs is critical. I researched lots of low-carb recipes and sugar/starch substitutes and made a plan for how my future diet would be.

Day I of Phase III. I ate the same foods I ate for Phase II. I had more chicken breast (5 oz) and more tomatoes (2) for lunch. I had asparagus (2 cups) for dinner with about a 5 oz steak. But I added eggs (1/4 cup) for breakfast. And not just any eggs - I used Eggbeaters because they have no fat and they are pure protein. My main goal this day was to come out higher in protein than in fat. I also had an apple (large Red Delicious bought at Costco - they're huge!)

Day II: Again, same foods as Phase II (a trend I continued for 1 week) but added any veggies you can find in a salad (cucs, lettuce, carrot, tomato, mushrooms). I ate the salad (very large) with 2 tbsp of Ranch (regular Ranch). So I had eggs for breakfast and a salad with Ranch for lunch. Again, asparagus and steak for dinner. I did add ham to my eggs this morning (about 1/4 cup) because it's protein and I was mainly careful about adding in fats, oils and carbs in other foods (like nuts).

Day III: Similar foods to previous day (you're getting the idea) but today I added peanuts because I love peanuts and they're a great snack. But I only added 1/4 cup of them. For a snack, I dehydrated some steak for homemade jerky (don't eat the store bought stuff yet because usually the 1st or 2nd ingredient is sugar!) and ate that throughout the day. Again, eggs/ham for breakfast, salad for lunch and protein/veggie for dinner. Apple and peanuts for snack.

Day IV: Added cauliflower because I love it mashed with milk, and sour cream. It's a very good substitute for mashed potatoes. I didn't put a limit on how much cauliflower I ate that day because it's considered a "negative calorie" food which means it takes more calories to eat it than you will take in by eating it. I eat it in many forms. I'm still very boring at this point with eggs for breakfast, salad for lunch and protein/veggie (cauliflower) for dinner. Apple for snack.

Day V: I added a few raisins to my salad.

Day VI: I added cheese (any variety) but only about 1/2 cup of cubes or a cheesestick

This is the trend for at least two weeks. I know that by the time you hit Phase III, you are seriously Jonesing for some real food but you have to take it very slow. Smaller quantities than you feel are necessary and really only one (and if you really can't stand it) a small quantity of another food. For most days, you really shouldn't even gain much more than a couple ounces. It should be that controlled.

To maintain control even better, you can work out. I found that by going running each morning for just 15 minutes, the water was redistributed in my body to the point that I would lose .6 of a pound every morning and I'd start off on the right foot every day. I'd like to say that exercise was the primary reason I was able to maintain the weight but I really think it was the combination of controlled eating and exercise.

Now I know this is not how you want to live your life forever. Smaller quantities of food and exercise every morning to maintain your weight. The good news is, it's not how it's going to be. Already, I'm getting much more liberal with the oils and fats that I eat. Take for example what I ate today (and today was a day I was trying to be careful):

Eggs/ham for breakfast (1/4 cup of each) & mushrooms
1/4 cup of peanuts for snack early morning
1/4 cup of raisins (lunch)
1 wedge of garlic BabyBell cheese rolled in two pieces of ham (lunch)
1 very large apple (lunch)
1/2 cup of homemade jerky (lunch)
3 tbsp organic peanut butter (afternoon snack)
1 cup lasagna (dinner)
10 doritos (late afternoon snack)
3/4 cup peanuts evening snack

You can see I'm a really snacky person - to the exclusion of regular lunch food. Yesterday I had a chicken sandwich for lunch (with bread yay!). The day before I ate a peanut butter sandwich for lunch. That was the day I also ate 2 orange rolls while I was baking.

I have no idea of how many calories I ate today but I know that I didn't overeat. Prior to hCG I would never have have been able to eat 1/2 of the snack foods I ate today let alone in the quantities did. Best of all, I felt no guilt at all.

At this point in my reassimilation, I am only careful about the carbs I eat. Like you saw, I had some lasagna but I was fairly light on the noodles and some doritos. There are carbs in the apple, raisins and peanuts and all of that adds up to about what I can tolerate in a day without gaining. And I know this because day one of adding carbs back in, I did it the same way as adding in fats/oils: 1 at a time. Day 1 I added 1 piece of bread. Day 2: more bread and then 1/4 cup of potatoes.

Anyway, you get the idea. Take it slow and not only will you establish your set point quickly like I did but you'll avoid the dreaded steak day. It's easy to get crazy with your new freedom but there's much more happiness in controlling what you eat than over-eating and being forced into a rigid steak day!

Good luck with Phase III. More information like low-carb recipes, etc. to come like what to do about Thanksgiving while on Phase III.

*An afterthought about what I actually want to eat: It must be clarified that the things I ate today were the things I wanted to eat. And don't get me wrong - I am a junk food fanatic! At least I used to be. But I seriously am not interested in most of that stuff right now. While I ate the doritos earlier, I was very done with them by the time I finished my small bowl. I just didn't want more. I can easily pass on all fast food. I say this because you probably looked at that list of foods that I ate and thought that it was all diet food and what I was forced to eat. Not at all - those were the foods I chose to eat and it was ALL I wanted. Believe it! I'll write more about this too.

*Post note: It is now April 22nd and the weight is still off. I'm still maintaining my weight within 2 lbs. of my original weight loss. For those of you interested in my ongoing maintenance, I will continue to post as time goes by so you can see the longevity of maintenance on hCG.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

These Orange Rolls Are To Die For!

When you take the time to bake something like sweet rolls, you want to know that they are going to be worth every single second you spent. And these orange rolls, my friends, are one of my very favorite things in the world. Worth every single, tiny second spent. And they're not difficult, despite the connotation of baking sweet rolls.

dude, what's up with my font sizes....

Let's start out with ingredients:

1-1/3 c. slightly warm water

1 egg

4 cups flour (may use bread flour)

1 tsp. salt

1/2 cup sugar

3/4 c. butter softened

2 tsp. dry yeast

2 Tbsp. melted butter (for filling)

1/2 sugar (for filling)

4 tsp. finely-grated orange peel (for filling)

1/2 c. chopped nuts (optional for filling)

For the orange glaze icing, you'll need:
2 c. powdered sugar
2 tsp. finely-grated orange peel
3 Tbsp. orange juice (use the juice from your orange)
1 Tbsp. butter
1/2 tsp. vanilla

To start out, you make the dough by mixing the water, yeast and sugar in your mixer. Then add all of the other ingredients except for the flour and the ingredients that say (for filling). Once it's all mixed, add 1/2 of the flour and start your kneading. Add about 1/2 cup of flour at a time until the dough is sticky but is not sticking to the sides of the bowl. This is where your experience with making bread or rolls comes in handy - determining when the dough is done kneading. You don't want to add too much flour or your rolls will not be soft, they'll be tough. Sticky...but not sticking to the bowl.

Sorry for the lack of pictures up to this point. I didn't decide to blog about this until later but I got the parts you'd really want in pictures.

Okay, so you've got the dough ready. Lightly flour a large surface and plop your dough onto it. Use whatever you have handy (I have a dough divider) and divide the dough into two equal halves. Set one aside. Pull out your rolling pin and roll that sucker into a large rectangle with measurements about 8"x16". Having a measuring device here is helpful to make sure your roll will be even.

Now...are the pictures. Grate your orange so you have some peel, and then squeeze the juice into another bowl. Melt your remaining 2 tbsp of butter. Spread 1 tbsp of it onto the rolled out dough. Sprinkle 1/4 cup of sugar and 2 tsp of orange peel over the butter. (You'll do this all over again with the other lump of dough too). And then we roll. Roll like the picture from the long edge. Start on the far side and roll toward you. It's easier.This is an easy thing for kids to help with - the sprinkling and rolling. They love it. And then they love to have their picture taken with it.
So we have a rolled up log looking thing. You can either cut it with a knife with average results, or do it the professional way (like me, the professional "I hate to cook") and use dental floss like so. Make notches where the cuts will be so you get them even. Slide the floss under the roll, cross the floss and pull. Wah-la - perfecto cuts.Pick up the little sliced piece and like my mom is doing in this picture, hold it in one hand and with your other hand, push the center up just a tad. This makes them bake in this cute little shape so they look all the more appetizing.You can use a cookie sheet to bake these but if you like them to all squish together in the pan as they bake, grease a roasting pan or what-not and place them close together.Cover them and place in a warm spot. I usually turn my oven on to the warm setting while I'm making the dough, then put my rolls in and turn off the oven. It's toasty but they're not going to bake. When the rolls have risen to twice their size (about 30 minutes), preheat your oven to 375 (if they're rising in there, remove them first - don't be like me and forget and leave them in there) and bake them for about 15-20 minutes or until they are golden brown. Ovens vary so just use your judgment. These were mine just after baking.

For the icing, just mix together the ingredients and use a little hand blender to get it smooth. Pour over the top of the rolls in the quantity desired. I actually used about 1/2 of this recipe but it's up to you. Make sure to do this while the rolls are still warm. This makes about 24 super-spectacular, to-die-for, ultra-yummy, make-yourself-sick rolls!

And to all my hCG followers - yeah, I ate two of 'em and survived to see another "no steak" day. YUM!

p.s. credit goes to my mom who gave me this awesome recipe. Thanks mom!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Help! Which Jeans For Family Pictures?

We've got family pictures this week and remember I asked you if you'd help me figure out what jeans to wear? Not that I really love any of these jeans...or maybe I just don't love my body in jeans. In any case, I'm not objective and will probably hate the pictures no matter what.

Just give me a vote 1, 2 3, or 4 in the comments section. And thanks for playing!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Making Money Online vs. "The Old Fashioned Way"

So it's probably becoming increasingly evident to you that I am looking to replace my "out of home" job with other opportunities. Up until Tinkerpot was born, I was never really obligated to find outside income. Times are a'changing though. More and more we are needing the extra income to provide basic necessities. And while I'm grateful that I have flexible and excellent earning potential, I hate being away from home and my kids. Bugs needs her mom more and more and I know that the fact that I am not here when she gets home from school 2 days a week is upsetting to her. I remember what that was like. Difficult times call for difficult measures but these are my kids and I want more for them. So I'm doing what I can to hopefully change our situation as much as I can.

I've created my Etsy shop which is going as well as can be expected for it being brand new. I love being creative and making the custom photo greeting cards. It's a good outlet for me when I can get the time to just sit down and be imaginative.
I'm also selling hCG - online and wherever. hCG is that really popular weight loss aid that everyone is talking about. I used it and lost a ton, eventually found a screamin' deal on it and thought it would be a good way to make extra money and help other people lose weight too. I opened my store online about a week ago and so far have had very good success with it. It's slower than I hoped but I'm getting a few sales.
The problem with all of this is that in my efforts to spend more time engaged at home, I'm actually spending more time here at home, out in the blogosphere or social media outlets trying to drum up business. I'm home and that's great. But I'm not really here. I suppose it's temporary until my businesses take off but until then I feel spread so thin.

I think I would benefit from setting some goals for myself, setting realistic expectations and having a plan for where I hope my business(s) will be this time next year.

I hope that by the time Tinkerpot is in school, I will have the liberty to be here at home waiting for both my girls all day long. I'd be glad to work - but I want to do it on my terms.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

And We Had Cake

The Marshmallow made cake today. Cake! How insensitive! Lol.

I don't typically care much for cake but there was something about this cake. First he baked it in too small of a pan so it rose way high. The pieces were like 4" tall and so good.

Then we didn't have any store bought frosting so I told him how to make some and it was a thin, chocolately delicious frosting (and I'm not really a frosting person either).

I'm sensing a trend here. I think I was just ready for something sweet. Not that I was going to eat any.

I was helping him transfer the pieces to something we could store them in and I really still didn't have any intention on eating any of that cake. But then I caved. I had a bite. Then a small piece. Then another small piece. Okay, then the whole piece. Ahhhh. I've not had sugar in a super long time and this was just what the doctor ordered.


And if you need to make a really quick chocolate frosting that's kid-friendly (not too rich), here's a great one (it makes about 2 1/2 cups)

Easy Chocolate Frosting


  • 2 3/4 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 5 tablespoons evaporated milk (I just used regular milk and then doubled the vanilla)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. In a medium bowl, sift together the confectioners' sugar and cocoa, and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, cream butter until smooth, then gradually beat in sugar mixture alternately with evaporated milk. Blend in vanilla. Beat until light and fluffy. If necessary, adjust consistency with more milk or sugar.

Friday, November 13, 2009

I've Been Picked Up By The Loony Bus

and I got on voluntarily! If you have young children, you know what I mean. When they're sick, that is. I guess it's worse when you're sick too - monumentally worse. I'm counting my blessings because so far I've averted all far.

My Tinker is sick. She's only 9 months old and has no concept of what's happening to her. And she's miserable. Misery loves company...that's why I've gone bonkers. She climbs me all day long, whining and pinching my face. If it didn't make me want to willingly slip into a strait jacket, I'd appreciate the fact that for this small moment, she's not trying to get away from me and would rather perch in my arms for all hours of the day. Haha, I've given you a false picture. She's not happy to be perch - that's just where she'd rather commence my ear, in my arms...anywhere on me.

O-well. I'm a mom, right? I asked for this, you say. True. I did. Conveniently I forgot that there were days like this. That's what you get when you put 4 1/2 years between your children. You've left your frame of reference somewhere in the bags of stored baby clothes, and baby toys.

Thankfully she's feeling better each day. She was in the ER on Wednesday morning because she couldn't breathe. They nearly admitted her but she had a good turn-about fortunately. Thank you for the well wishes. If that was you that flipped me off as I drove 70 down the median on Beck Street Wednesday morning, sorry...I had more important things on my mind than waiting my turn.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Young Women in Excellence Program

Tonight was our Young Women in Excellence Program which I was sort of in charge of because of my calling, Personal Progress Coordinator. If your ward doesn't have a PP Coordinator, you should get one...just don't pick somebody like me. I'm an airhead.

However, my balloon-head did not interfere in pulling off a really nice program tonight mainly because of our awesome Presidency and some really awesome girls. I've got to hand it to them - if left solely to my own devices, it would have been a complete bust! I'm sure that the Lord was prompting them all to stick closely to me to make sure I was remembering the finer details.

We received very good accolades from the stake YW Presidency: "The stake leaders said we hit the "nail on the head" when it came to the message and the spirit of the evening and they were so pleased. They said they have been to several of these programs in our stake and were highly impressed with ours." Nothing like warm fuzzies to equalize the feelings of self doubt.

Here's how the program went: Our theme was light. Our cultural hall was decked out with circular tables in a circular pattern. We had white Christmas lights all over as the only light source. There was lots of tulle and white lights. On the table were rose petals, and mason jars with large tea lights in them on top of tulle. There was a long cake table with a white table cloth and white lights all over it squeezed between two large iron gates draped with tulle and white lights. This was the focal point.

I gave each girl a small oil lamp with a battery operated tea light. At the start of the program, all of the lights went out and the girls walked in single file to form a large circle around all of the tables. Only their faces were lit by their lamps. Then they sang "Light Keeper" by Jenny Phillips, a beautiful song about the difficulties one can face in life but by being a "light keeper" we can project our "light" unto the world. They did a beautiful job and I felt such a strong Spirit there while they sang. It made a very powerful message.

Then we plugged the white lights back in and it really softened the room, made it more intimate. We had a prayer and a welcome by our President, and a short address by the Bishop. Then four girls stood and did a short verbal presentation of their projects which was wonderful. They did a fabulous job. After that, we did recognition and awarded a couple of girls for their achievements. And then we were finished. We served cake and the families browsed the tables with the projects. Incidentally, they were set up in the overflow breezeway between the cultural hall and the meeting room. All we had to do was just open the accordian doors behind the cake table and the families could just walk right into the room already set up. It was brilliant (ha, not my idea).

I had some good realizations about this event though. In part because I've been inactive for so many years and had virtually NO experience with the YW program (or any church program for that matter), I found myself lacking. For one, I forgot about the prayer. How dumb is that? Secondly, in preparing for the event, I'm so grateful that the President called a meeting to go over details because it came to our attention that I had completely overlooked what the girls were actually going to be doing that night. I was completely caught up in logistics - it's my forte. Yikes! That was a pretty key bit of information!

Anyway, my sister recommended a committee next time perhaps so that I can ensure that important details aren't overlooked. I think it's a great idea. But, good thing that I have great people around me or else a night that is about the Young Women would have overlooked them completely. Gah!

I Made Dinner in About 5 Minutes Flat!

I may not be Einstein but I feel like it today! Yeah, I made dinner in 5 minutes and it's all because I did one awesome thing yesterday...

Here's a tip for those of you who sometimes need to be able to get dinner on the table in a hurry and don't want to mess around with all the steps.

Before I went grocery shopping yesterday, I made a list of the meals I'd be making and the ingredients. Of course that's how I knew what to buy. I'm not a haphazard shopper - not enough money for that!

This is how I knew I'd need 6 lbs. of ground beef for the next two weeks. Now remember that nearly every recipe you make with ground beef requires that you brown it first! With the exception of a few recipes like meatloaf, they all want it cooked before you do anything with it!

So, I threw 5 lbs. of hamburger into a big pot and browned it all first. After draining the fat, and letting it cool, I divided it into 5 freezer baggies and threw it in the freezer - ready to go!

When I got ready to make dinner this afternoon, I took one baggie out and threw it into a sinkful of warm water and by the time all of the other ingredients had been mixed, the ground beef was defrosted enough to add it to my mixture. I was making a little casserole but this would work for tacos, taco salad, spaghetti, sloppy joe's, hamburger soup, taco soup or whatever else you're cooking! And it only took me about 5 minutes to mix the ingredients.

At this point, the little casserole was all prepared. I put my oven on delay for two hours to cook for 40 minutes, put the casserole in the oven and at 5:30 - dinner will be done! It was only 2:30 when I did this. This particular method works great on days you might be gone all day especially if you have a kick-butt oven like mine that has the delay feature. I LOVE that part of my oven. Then, after it cooks the food, it will hold it on warm for another 90 minutes in case you're not home exactly when it's supposed to be finished.

I'm the queen of getting out of 5:00 dinner cooking. Don't fence me in!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Morning Brainstorm

I've been a little dry on what to post lately on my blog mainly because my brain is so filled up with critical life stuff, there just doesn't seem room left for fun fluff. So today, in order to jumpstart my creativity, I'm going to ramble. Just go with it.

I really need to get my Halloween decorations down before The Marshmallow starts teasing me like he does every single year because I'm slow to "un-decorate". Do men not realize that Snowmen are not necessarily "Christmas" decorations but "Winter" decorations. I do take down all the wreaths, Santa's, and other Christmas paraphernalia but Snowmen definitely are winter creatures and how they got all wrapped up in the story of Christmas is beyond me.

Some lady from the school keeps calling me to sign up for a time to help out with the Book Fair next week. I'm avoiding her. I know I'm the one who signed up but that was because I was trying to be an involved mother. Little did I know that all the things I signed up for came at the exact same time - NOW. Look lady, I wish I could help...I do! But I just don't think it's going to happen. There. I said it.

I've been researching a certain ancestor for years people. For years. He's like some missing-in-action person. No one knows what happened to him...and those people are still living! What's up with that? Hmmm. Anyway, I was doing a random internet search the other day on cemeteries in the area where he lived and ta da! there was a guy with the exact same name and death year in this cemetery. Better still, there's a guy who volunteers his time for that particular website who offered to go to the cemetery and take a photo of the gravestone. He also said that he'd go to the office and see if he could rustle up some more information on my dude! Is that amazing or what? There are some really nice people in the world! My always skeptical Marshmallow said that he would probably get our information and come kill us. *sigh* What am I going to do with him? Weirdo.

What else.............

I have Young Women in Excellence this weekend. I'm sort of freaking out. Which is exactly why I'm blogging instead of doing it. I'm like an ostrich. And the internet is my hole. See my head? I'll be here all day :) JK.

And so...I have a freakin' million and ten things to do right this very minute. In ten minutes FLAT, this cute baby of mine hits her crib and I have 2 hours to get my huge list of things done.

By the way, I have a little dilemma and was hoping my dwindling audience could help me out. I have family pictures next Thursday and I have about zero clothes. No, that's a lie. But I've narrowed my outfit down to three different pairs of jeans. I like them all in a way but I have no idea which ones make me look best. If I post pictures of myself in all of them, will you all please let me know which pair I should wear? The Marshmallow is completely useless on this front and I don't think I'm going to be seeing Renee before them so it's up to my internet following. Pretty please?

Time's up...I gotta run.

p.s. if you guys want to see some heinous before and after pictures of my weight loss journey, go to my "quest" blog. It's good for a few giggles.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Going Crazy

I'm clearly doing too much. My head is about to spin off of my neck. I don't think it will be pretty.

I left for work at 9am this morning, not too early but that was after being up early getting kid #1 off to school, then rushing around with baby trying to get myself ready for work. Then I had more patients than humanly possible to see in a single day after which I finally made it home at 3:30 to spend some QT with kids before zooming off to the hospital at 5 for a four hour training. I got home at 9:30 to change the sheets on our bed, do some laundry, the dishes and then put some time into my Etsy shop among other ventures.

I'm pooped.

Weekly What's Up On My Etsy!!!

I added a couple new great cards this week so make sure to get your pictures taken soon so you can get your Christmas cards out in time!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Halloween Party Re-cap

So I promised pictures of the Halloween Party, so here they are.

The decorations I made... spidersbats
Some of the treats I made...

dead bugs
candy ghosts (so yummy!)
mummy wrapping game
pumpkin decoratingMy amazing helpers
The whole groupMe and my mom