Back in the Saddle Again

I’m doing something that I haven’t done in 5 years…I’ve decided to break out my Jillian Michael’s 30 Day Shred DVD again.  It’s not that I’m in dire need to lose weight, it’s more that I want to tone up and tighten the areas that are a little, shall we say, wiggly.  I’m in size 12’s or 14’s and while it’s not as skinny as I’d like to be some days, I’m comfortable.  But, I find that there are more days that not that I don’t like to look at myself in the mirror while unclothed.

Was this what made me jump back on the exercise bandwagon?  No, not entirely.  Darling Hubby and I were invited to a testimonial for his step father.  He is District Governor of something (yeah, I’m not entirely sure on all the details) and they are holding an afternoon fancy shmancy thing in his honor on May 5th. I’ve already bought my dress and jewelry.  I already had shoes and underthings and I’ve plans to knit myself a shawl to go with it (you never know just how chilly it might be in May or in those hotel banquet rooms.)  I’ve already bought the yarn (it matches perfectly) and got started.  The dress fits me perfectly and looks good (Darling Hubby says hot), but I look in the mirror and always see what is wrong and what could be different.  I could stand to lose that little bit of a tummy and my arms could be less flabby…That’s what made me decide to pull out the dvd, yoga mat, and my hand weights and throw on my sneakers.

I weighed in this morning and I was 149lbs (that’s down 1lb from yesterday…lol).  I think this time I may try to take some measurements of myself so I know if I lose any inches.  Like I said, I’d still like to lose some of the flab around my middle…you know the little paunchy thing that never seems to want to go away after having kids…and tighten up my arms and legs a bit.  I know my legs could look super hot in those heels with a little toning up…lol

Anyway, I already did day one, level one and let’s say that it was so much easier this time around than it was 5 years ago.  Let’s just say that when I finished I wasn’t wanting to curl up in a ball and die or vomit.  I felt a little weak muscled, but never felt sick or dizzy and I didn’t even have trouble breathing.  I can obviously feel it in my thighs and I know that tomorrow sitting down or standing from sitting is gonna be a little rough.  I can also feel those muscles walking up or down stairs (and even walking down the hill at Bug’s school.)

Looking back I’m already at a lower weight than when I started the first go around.  I don’t have a particular weight goal that I’m working toward and I’m not going to keep close tabs on what I’m eating. aside from trying not to go overboard with portion sizes.  I already know that I’m eating a little healthier than I was 5 years ago, especially having cut most processed foods out as a way to avoid soy.  I still indulge, don’t get me wrong, I’m still a snacker and I’ve found ways to get back some of my favorite foods that I was forced to cut out.  I still love chocolate and found that the Nestle Dark Chocolate morsels are soy free and oh so good.  I’ve found ice creams that I can eat again, so I do find myself having a bowl before bed some nights.  We still do our game night sessions once every 2 weeks, but I find that I’m usually pretty good and only eat the things like the cheese and jelly or the fresh bread and not all the chips and junk foods that we used to nosh on.  I just have to watch my portion sizes.

So, that’s my goal, 30 days (hopefully including the weekends this time).  My end date to get in shape is May 4th, so I’ve got the month.  I plan to blog about my journey again so I can keep myself motivated.  Feel free to join me if you want.  I won’t mind the company.

Apricot Pulled Pork on Homemade Kaiser Rolls

Tuesday’s are my crockpot days.  Darling Hubby has his weekly gaming session at the local game store and I take the boys to the local library for the “It’s Elementary” kids club program and to check out some new books.   Darling Hubby usually gets home before the kids and I do and wants to get in and out so he can get to the store and I’m not in the mood to cook a full meal when we get back, therefore, I like to have a meal already ready and waiting for us. Tonight will be Apricot Pulled Pork Sandwiches, served on freshly homemade toasted Kaiser rolls, french fries and baby carrots with dip.  It already smells amazing in here!

Apricot Pulled Pork on Homemade Kaiser Rolls
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
1 cup apricot preserves
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup BBQ sauce
1/4 cup cider vinegar
2 Tbsps Worcestershire Sauce
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
4lb boneless pork roast, trimmed of fat

2 Tbsp corn starch
1/4 cup cold water
1 Tbsp ginger
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
10-12 kaiser rolls, toasted

Combine first 7 ingredients. Place pork roast in crockpot. Pour apricot mixture over roast and cook on low 8-9 hours.

Transfer pork to cutting board, cool slightly and shred with forks. Skim fat from liquid in crockpot.

Blend water, cornstarch, ginger, salt, and pepper until smooth. Whisk into crockpot liquid. Cook 15-30 mins on high, uncovered, until thickened (sauce can also be done on the stovetop if you are in a hurry.) Return shredded pork to crockpot, mix well. Serve on toasted buns.

I use this receipe for my kaiser rolls.  I use the bread machine method for the dough.  So much better than store bought and I know exactly what is in them!

Enjoy!

Cheesy Chicken Shepherd’s Pie

When someone mentions Shepherd’s Pie I immediately think of something with beef, gravy and mashed potatoes.  I’d planned to use some chicken to make a pot pie, but Darling Hubby suggested I use up some more of the leftovers we had in the fridge, so I pulled out a pound of cooked chicken and parmesan mashed potatoes (leftover from Bug’s 9th birthday a few days ago), some green beans from dinner yesterday, some frozen corn and peas, and Velveeta cheese and made a yummy dinner.  Bug was already asking me to make it again before he’d even finished his first bowl (yes, he had seconds in addition to eating the leftover kale and kidney beans, also left over from his birthday dinner.)

Unfortunately, I didn’t think to take any pictures while I was cooking, so you’ll have to use your imagination.

Cheesy Chicken Shepherd’s Pie
1 lb cooked chicken, cut into chunks
10 oz of frozen or leftover veggies (I used cooked green beans and frozen corn and peas)
8oz of Velveeta cheese, cut into chunks
freshly ground pepper
2Tbsp unsalted butter
2Tbsp flour
1 cup hot water
Mashed potatoes (2 cups will probably be enough – I didn’t measure exactly)
Shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 375*

Put the chicken, veggies and Velveeta in a large skillet and cook over medium heat until the cheese starts to melt.  Stir gently and frequently until all the cheese melts and everything is coated.

In a small sauce pan, melt the butter and combine with the flour.  Cook over medium heat for 2 minutes.  Gently whisk in the water and heat til bubbly.  Continue to simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

When the chicken mixture is coated with cheese, taste and season with pepper (you probably won’t need salt), pour into an 8×8 pyrex square baking dish.  When the gravy is done, pour that over the chicken mixture.  Do not stir.

If, like me, you are using leftover mashed potatoes, warm them in the microwave for a minute or 2 until spreadable.  Spread around on the top of the gravy.  Sprinkle on the cheddar cheese.

Bake in a preheated 375* oven for 20-25 minutes until bubbly and the cheese is brown.

Enjoy!

Prep time was about 25-30 mins, cook time 20-25 mins.

Tips and additions:

If, unlike us, you like onions and want to add them, saute a few in a little butter before adding the chicken, veggies and cheese.
Hubby added some rosemary to his portion.
This would be yummy with leftover turkey…maybe try this after Thanksgiving.

Leaving On A Jet Plane

So on Thursday, June 6th, I got up incredibly early (like 3am Eastern early!) and made my way to the airport to catch a flight from NY to Denver Colorado.  I’m not gonna lie, I was excited, scared, nervous and sad all rolled into a tight little bundle!  I was leaving Darling Hubby and my boys for nearly a week, boarding a plane all alone, switching planes in Chicago, hoping my luggage would do the same and excited to be visiting a completely new and beautiful state and staying with some awesome friends, their cats and meeting their cool friends.

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Sunset over Southwest

I snapped the above picture of my plane from my gate around 5:20am as the sun was peaking up over the horizon after saying good-by to my family and making my way into the airport to figure out what I had to do and where I had to go.  Thankfully, it was very easy to find where I needed to go and after checking my bag I made my way through security.  There was only a small line at 5am (my flight left at 6:25) so I was through pretty quickly and it was pretty painless, too.  I just hope that the woman I let go in front of me at the scanner was able to catch her flight.  She was running very late and was really thinking she was going to be left behind!  

I ended up sitting at the gate for a short period of time knitting on my Van Gohg sunflower socks.  I talked to a couple people about knitting and that calmed my nerves a bit.  I was still pretty scared to be getting on a plane alone.  I chose to sit by the window so I could see the clouds and was just behind the right wing.  It turns out that I wasn’t alone in my being a nervous flyer.  While the plane was not a full flight I did end up having an older couple sit in the row with me and the woman told me that her husband was also nervous.  I was actually really glad that I had another nervous flyer sitting with me because he talked my ear off and it really helped me to calm down.

Here are some pictures I snapped from my seat at the wing – and no, I didn’t see anything on the wing!  lol  I saw all sorts of different cloud types from puffy clouds to smooth clouds that went from horizon to horizon and seemed to curve around the earth…

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At take off, my seatmates and I joked about the seat back pocket insert, in particular the “bracing position.”  It turns out that we needed the bracing position as we landed at Midway in Chicago.  lol  I think the pilot slammed on the brakes, tossed out the anchor and let out the parachute.  My seatmates were also heading to Denver, but unfortunately were were not scheduled to be on the same plane.  Their plane left shortly after we landed and I had about an hours worth of wait time, which ended up being extended because the flight crew for our plane had just come in on another flight, had to disembark that plane and then make their way to ours and ready our plane for take off.  We left about 45 minutes later than scheduled, but the way I look at it, I got extra knitting time in.  

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Blues Brothers Statues in Midway

I’m actually glad that the flights happened in the order they did and not reversed.  My flight from Chicago to Denver was actually pretty boring and lonely and had I not had my mind taken off of everything during the first flight I think I would have been more nervous than I was switching planes and starting again.  Midway to Denver was a full flight, so I was guaranteed to have seatmates.  I again had a window seat, taken so I could hopefully see the mountains as we came into Colorado, and the guy on the aisle seat looked like he was ready to puke and drank ginger ale the whole flight, and the 20 something girl that sat in the middle seat was the absolute last person on the plane, never said word one to either of us, popped her headphones in and sat scowling the entire time.  I’m thankful I had my I-pod, knitting and the view to keep my occupied.

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While I was able to see the Rocky Mountains as we flew toward the airport, I wasn’t able to get any good pictures because they made us shut down all electronics for landing.  It was ok because I knew I’d have ample opportunity to see and take some amazing pictures.

The landing into Denver wasn’t as bad as the landing into Midway, thankfully, and despite getting such a late start out of Chicago, we landed 5 minutes early.  I think we had some good tailwinds.  I was a bit worried about finding my way around Denver International as it’s a much bigger airport than the Albany International that I left from.  I had no trouble taking the underground train from Gate C into baggage claim and was easily able to find where I needed to go and quickly spotted Michael waiting for me at the top of the escalator.  

I then met up with Barbara who was waiting for me over at Baggage Claim.  My bag made it, too!  lol  It was a good reunion all around!  lol

Now, by this point I was starving.  I didn’t eat much prior to leaving and really only had a banana and a few grapes and some complementary OJ – I couldn’t eat the crackers they gave us on the plane and decided to save the little peanut packs for the kids back home.

Since it was almost lunchtime (Colorado time) we stopped at this awesome restaurant called the White Chocolate Cafe.  Now, I’m soy free and Barbara and Michael are soy and gluten free, so to make things easier for the week, I decided to add gluten free to my diet as well.  I really have to commend the WCC on the way they handle allergies.  Instead of assuming that something was soy free, the waitress checked the ingredients herself to discover an unsafe item.  And, the food was amazing!

After lunch we made our way straight to the house (my home for the next 6 day) so I could settle in and meet the kitties.

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Yellow Kitty – Duck

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Serra (who, for the duration of my stay was referred to as Serra Kitty – I was referred to as Sara Hooman.)

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Sweet Wesley

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Beautiful Princess Buttercup

We made a trip out to Whole Foods later to get some stuff for dinner and ended up staying up way too late talking and playing games (it wasn’t until like 1am EST that I finally crawled into bed.)  We had a pretty easy day on Friday, so it wasn’t a big deal that I didn’t get into bed early.  Though, I think Barbara and Michael were pretty impressed at the fact that I was still going pretty strong after being awake for over 20 hours! lol

I’ll post about Friday’s trip into Boulder to visit Shuttles, Spindles and Skeins and tour the Schacht Spinning Wheel Factory.

Food for Friday! 4/20 – 5/3

I started making a menu and a grocery list while looking at what I thought was the current flyer…only to discover when I’d gone through it twice that the sales don’t start until Sunday…So I had to go online and start again.  Boo.  At least I know what stuff I want/need to get on Sunday…And, I’ve started to make my menus running from Saturday to Friday rather than Monday to Sunday.  It just makes it easier to get something fresh for dinner on Saturday if I want…Maybe now we can occasionally have fresh fish!

Saturday – Bacon & eggs
Sunday – Baked fried chicken, mashed potatoes and veggies
Monday  – Macaroni & cheese
Tuesday – Chili & cornbread
Wednesday – pizza & wings
Thursday – Homemade Chicken Parm over pasta
Friday – Tacos

Saturday – Steak-um sandwiches
Sunday – Rotisserie Chicken with Kale & beans, mashed potatoes and homemade cranberry sauce
Monday  – Sausages on buns with homemade fries and veggies
Tuesday – Shepherd’s Pie (modified from this recipe)
Wednesday – Chicken Pot Pie
Thursday – Spaghetti with homemade sauce
Friday – Pancakes

Food for Friday! 1/14 – 1/27

So once again I got out of the habit of making a grocery list/menu every 2 weeks.  For the past couple months I’ve been scrambling the morning I head to the store to find/print my coupons and put the finishing touches on an only partially functional menu.  I’m going to try to get back on task and start doing a better job of menu planning and house keeping.  Now I just have to keep myself following my menu and each week will go by smoother without me standing in the kitchen trying to decide what I can make with the frozen lump of meat I forgot to thaw…

In the housekeeping department I’m planning to keep up on my kitchen a bit better and put the laundry away rather than let it sit, often times already folded, in the laundry baskets for days.  I’ve already started making the beds each day and trying to get most of my daily chores like laundry done in the morning so I can have more time to knit and spin later.

Here’s the menu for the next couple weeks.  Trying out some new recipes as well as some new family favorites.  I’m also trying to use the meat that I’ve got stored in the freezer rather than buying a ton more.  My grocery list this time around is filled with lots of necessities that I don’t normally buy on a regular basis (things that usually last for a bit like salt, peanut butter, honey and maple syrup…I’m trying to keep the bill down under $250.

MondayCheesy Chicken and Rice Skillet
Tuesday – Buffalo Chicken Pasta
Wednesday – Homemade Pepperoni Pizza
Thursday – Pork tenderloin
Friday –  Tacos
Saturday –  Steak-ums
Sunday – Leftovers/fend for yourself

Monday – Homemade Chicken Parmesan served over angel hair pasta.
Tuesday – Spaghetti and homemade sauce
Wednesday –  Cajun Pot Roast
Thursday – London Broil
Friday –  Bacon and Eggs
Saturday – Roast pork chops with cheddar and bacon grits (Paula Deen)
Sunday – leftovers/fend for yourself

2012 Ups and Downs

2012 is over and done.  It wasn’t a bad year.  Lots of good things happened with the bad and I’m thankful for all of it.

Probably the biggest thing that happened was figuring out my soy allergy/sensitivity.  Call it what you will, but I’ve been doing fantastically since cutting out every last little bit of the nasty substance.  Only once in a blue moon (I’m talking really only once every 2-3 months) will I have an episode and only after eating things that I know I shouldn’t eat!   I’m really glad that Darling Hubby was able to figure it out and that it wasn’t milk.  Despite the friendships I lost during the whole brouhaha, I feel I’m better for having the whole thing happen.  I’m feeling better overall.  I don’t wake up feeling like crap every morning and don’t go to sleep in pain every night.  And, it was all because I simply changed my diet.  Who’d have thunk it?

Another good thing that happened was that I learned how to knit socks.  I’ve made 14 pairs of socks since the start of March.  They are all pretty simple socks, but I love them simple. I’m not a real fancy lace and pattern girl.  I even challenged myself to do some unusually constructed socks like the carousel socks and the sideways socks.  Unfortunately, I didn’t finish the Owlie socks my friend Barbara and I started as a knit along.  I just had a bunch of other projects come up that took precedence.   I wear a knitted pair of socks practically every day and most members of my family have received a pair of socks at some point.  The only one who hasn’t is Fidget…

Another good (and bad) thing was that I opened my own shop on Etsy.  It’s been open since April and I’ve only had one online sale and that was a custom order for a friend…but, the recipient of that custom order Cthulhu hat is delighted with it, so that’s what really matters.  I will admit that most of my sales have been off etsy to friends or at the craft fair I did in September with some of the girls from the library knitting group.  I made 3 blankets for a friend from back home for her to give for Christmas gifts.  I also made another blanket for someone at the knitting group at the public library after she fell in love with one of the 3 that I made.  I haven’t had much time to do my own knitting lately because I’ve been doing projects for the shop.  I’m still excited to have the shop open…I’m just a little disappointed that it hasn’t done as well as I’d hoped.

Another good thing is that I went to Rhinebeck for the first time for the Sheep and Wool Festival.  It’s where I got bitten by the spinning bug.  I came home with a drop spindle and taught myself to spin yarn on it.  Of course I couldn’t just stop with that.  I’ve fallen in love with wheel spinning.  I’ve been getting better by leaps and bounds and just learned how to Navajo ply and I might even list this most recent yarn in my etsy shop (if I can talk myself out of keeping it!)  I’m hoping to save up enough money to buy my own wheel at some point.  I’ve tried a Kromski Sonota and an Ashford Kiwi and so far I really like the Kiwi, despite the nasty creak that it has in one of the treadles.  But, I’ve heard that Ashfords have a tendency to creak…lol

The bad was, thankfully, few and far between.  Things didn’t really start to get bad until November, which seems to be a pretty crappy month for many people.  Darling Hubby was off for the week of Thanksgiving and we woke up that Monday to a very cold house.  Despite the fact that the furnace was running all the radiators were stone cold.  Turns out the circulator pump blew and a day of waiting for the technician to come to fix it and $700 later we had a warm house.  Thankfully we have the wood fireplace for back-up warmth…then, Darling Hubby had to have his car inspected and that needed $400 worth of work…so in 2 days we’d spent over $1100…and we hadn’t even started to buy Christmas presents.

Probably the worst and absolute last thing that happened in 2012 was that on New Years Eve around 9:30 pm, our little dog Spiral passed away peacefully in her box.  It’s something that we’ve been expecting could happen at any time due to her age and health, but it was pretty sudden how it happened.  Literally it was she was alive one minute and gone the next.

We came home early from a New Years party, Darling Hubby walked the dogs and I started ushering the kids upstairs.  I filled the dogs water bowl (both dogs were happy and dancing around) and headed upstairs to do the bedtime routine while Darling Hubby went out to plow out the bottom of the driveway, thanks to not 1, but 2 plows coming through right after we got home.  Anyway, Fidget left his new Buzz Lightyear downstairs and wanted to sleep with it, so I went down to get it.  I noticed Spiral was laying with her nose down in the blanket and not on her paws like normal and I got no response when I called her name.  I’d seriously only been upstairs 10 minutes.

It came as a complete shock to both me and Darling Hubby as to how sudden it was, but like I said it was expected.  We’d had her for over 9 years and she was estimated to be around 2 when we adopted her.  She had bad teeth and a severe heart murmur that had progressed into congestive heart failure where she was constantly coughing, but she was still active, ate well and seemed happy.  I’m thankful that she seemed to go peacefully and that she’s in a better place and has hopefully been reunited with her best friend, Grace, who passed away nearly 2 years ago.

So, the bulk of 2012 was good (oh, and I should add that we didn’t die in the apocalypse that didn’t happen!)  I can only hope that 2013 is even better!