Thursday, April 26, 2012

working on

This week I am:
  • packing up knitting projects to make progress on while at a veterinary conference this weekend
  • watching my garden grow like gangbusters (pictures soon, I promise...its pouring right now)
  • waiting for a sunny warm day to photograph the girlie in the spring dress I made for her
  • making time to sit, and regroup, and feel like my priorities in life are re-ordered and better routines are established.
  • listening to Pandora every chance I get, and loving the Celtic music channel
  •  making sure everything is set for the family for the 3 nights I will be gone (note: hubby is completely capable. I don't really have to do all the prepwork of meal planning, laundry, grocery shopping, etc. But I do it anyway).
  • hoping that hubby and kiddos don't spend too much money at the Lego store while I am gone
  • starting a new book, Kisses from Katie, by Katie Davis. It has the potential to either inspire me by what this young woman has done with her life, or to depress me that my life is so different. More later, I promise (once I've read it!).
  • celebrating 14.6 pounds that I've lost in 6 weeks of Weight Watchers, and hoping this 4 day conference doesn't result in terrible eating (must...have...will power!)
I'm heading out later this morning...back with you sometime early next week! 

Saturday, April 21, 2012

healthy eating:: eggs for dinner

Hope you are enjoying the recipes this week! If you missed them, you can read about skinny cupcakes and granola goodness here.

Today I bring you a new addition to our "Breakfast for dinner" repertoire. My kids love the fun of breakfast for dinner. I love that breakfast is usually easy, quick and yummy. Often we just do pancakes and sausage with fruit, or a quick fritatta. But this one is a winner: two thumbs up from both kids and hubby too!

Individual Omelette Muffins
 (makes 12 "muffins")

1 carton of EggBeaters Original (16 oz)
3/4 c. finely shredded cheddar cheese
Chopped ham, sausage, bacon, or whatever meat you like
Chopped vegetables:  Roasted asparagus, raw mushrooms, onions, peppers, etc.
Salt and pepper (We use Crazy Jane's Mixed-Up Salt)

Oil a non-stick muffin tin (12 muffins) with canola or cooking spray. Be liberal. These like to stick.
Pour EggBeaters into muffin tins, dividing evenly among all 12.
Add a large pinch of cheese to each tin, dividing evenly.
Add mix-ins as desired:
My kids liked ham and cheese and nothing else.
Hubby and I had ham, roasted asparagus, and mushrooms.
You want to fill the tins about 2/3 full.
Give each one a little stir to mostly submerge the mix-ins.

Bake at 350 F for 18-25 minutes. 
Muffins will puff up considerably, make sure they are not gooey in the middle. 
Top may brown slightly.
Let cool 5 minutes (muffins will collapse, this is normal!).
Serve with fresh fruit and biscuits for a yummy meal!

(Weight Watchers Points+: 2 with ham and cheese, 1 with cheese and vegetables)

There you have it. Three healthy new recipes for you this week! Hope you have enjoyed this mini-series. I've got the sewing machine humming so there should be some crafting to show for it by early next week! Happy Weekend, everyone!

Friday, April 20, 2012

healthy eating:: granola goodness

Here's part two of this week's focus on some of  my favorite healthy food recipes. Read part one here.

When I joined Weight Watchers, someone told me to stay away from granola, because it was so high in calories. Well. I love homemade granola, and by trimming my recipe back just a bit on the fats and the extras like dried fruit, I can still enjoy it for breakfast! Here's the thing: granola fills you up. So I can eat 1/2 cup of granola with 1/2 cup skim milk, and have a banana on the side, and its a great, filling breakfast for 7 Weight Watchers Points+.

Granola Goodness

Preheat oven to 250 F.
Line two rimmed baking trays with parchment paper (very important to prevent sticking!)

In a large bowl, mix together your dry ingredients:
  • 4 cups old-fashioned (rolled) oats
  • 1 cup sliced almonds (or nut of your choice)
  • 1 cup shredded coconut (yes, I use the sweetened kind)
In a pyrex measuring cup whisk together:
  •  1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 1/2 T. vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
Pour wet ingredients over dry and stir well to coat evenly. Spread in the baking trays (mine is usually about 1" thick) and bake at 250 F. Stir every 15 minutes and rotate trays in oven. Granola is done when it smells fabulous and turns golden brown. Do not over will still be sticky when you pull it out. Let cool completely on trays and store in airtight containers in refrigerator or freezer. Makes about 8 cups.
 Look at all that yummy goodness!
(Note: if you like dried fruit, etc in your granola, add it just before storing)

Serving:  1/2 cup, 6 Weight Watchers points+

Tomorrows tidbit: Eggs for dinner!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

healthy eating:: skinny cupcakes

Today's post will be the first of several in a healthy eating series. I (re)joined Weight Watchers about 5 weeks ago after about a five year break, and I'm happy to report that I have already lost about 13.5 pounds on their program. I could wax on about Weight Watchers for quite a while, but I will leave it at this: any program that lets me eat Cadbury Mini Eggs every day and still lose weight is a good one for me. I do love my sweets, my salty's, my greasy, fatty foods. And dieting is not easy for me, but I am (re)learning to make better choices.

So here's my fabulous find for today: a skinny cupcake that is only 2 Weight Watchers Points+ including the frosting!
I had heard about making cupcakes with Diet soda, and just had to try it! Now I want to try all sorts of flavors! These are amazing! So here's the "skinny":

Skinny Cupcakes:
1 box cake mix (I used Betty Crocker Cherry Chip)
12 oz Diet soda (I used Diet Cherry 7Up)
NOTE: Regular soda will not work! Also, match dark sodas to dark cakes, and light sodas to light cakes. I want to try Diet Dr. Pepper with Devils Food...mmm!

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line cupcake tins with 24 paper liners.
Mix cake mix and soda until combined and spoon into lined tins (about 1/8 c each).
Bake at 350 F for about 20 minutes, until golden brown and toothpick comes out clean.
Cook on wire racks.

1/2 cup fat free Greek yogurt 
1/2 cup confectioners sugar (powdered sugar), sifted
1 tsp vanilla extract

Whisk frosting ingredients together in an electric mixer on high until creamy and well blended. 
"Dollop" onto cupcakes, and refrigerate until serving.

Yes, only 2 WW Points+ per cupcake! Have two!

Coming up tomorrow: Homemade granola. Breakfast of champions!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Easter joy

Easter is one of those holidays that sneaks up on me...and never fails to bring me joy. Joy in dyeing eggs, watching kids hunt for Easter baskets, joy in church, joy in good food, and being with family.  Joy especially in what Jesus did when he died, taking the punishment from God for me, for the sins that I continue to commit daily, hourly, even minute-ly (is that a word?). Joy that He did something that intellectually I cannot understand when He rose from the dead, and joy that my heart understands and accepts and believes. Joy that I know Jesus lives because I have His Holy Spirit living in me, and joy that I know that my life is changed because of Him.

This Easter, I wish you the fullness of that joy, that Christ Jesus would live in your heart and your life as well.

He has risen, indeed!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

mama's takin' us to the zoo... (with daddy too)

Today! Our wonderful Maryland Zoo had an event this weekend called "Bunny Bonanzoo"! Combine that with free reciprocal admission through our B&O Railroad Museum membership this month, and a free, fun, family adventure was born!  It was cool, breezy, but sunny, and we enjoyed the evidence of spring in the trees and flowers as well as all the animals.  For an animal lover and a photography enthusiast, the zoo is like my playground (and here are the many photos to prove it). I love the zoo.

P.S. I can never go to the zoo without singing that old Peter, Paul and Mary tune that I grew up with:
"Mama's takin' us to the zoo tomorrow, the zoo tomorrow, the zoo tomorrow...." (at least singing it in my head!)
our trip was complete with a visit with the Easter Bunny!
watching the Jones Falls Zephyr train
happy swinging...
love this gnarly tree!

the girlie said, "he freaks me out!"
chimp naptime...curl up wherever you can find a good spot!
yes, we really were that close! (thank goodness for glass)
penguin in "flight"
Sifaka hanging around

Okapi, the girlie's favorite animal
sleepy cheetah
having a chat with a big bird...
this one's for Grandpa who loves tortoises and turtles!
lumpy rocks wouldn't be my first choice of nap location!

Hope you enjoyed your virtual trip to the zoo. And maybe your mama would take you to the zoo tomorrow...if you ask really nicely! Happy Easter, everyone!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

dinosaurs vs. indians

Last week my hubby watched that movie "Cowboys vs. Aliens". Which was supposed to be pretty silly, after all it's a crazy premise. Spoiler: the truth is, I walked out of the room after about 10-15 minutes as it was pretty much just a lot of people shooting each other or getting attacked by aliens. Not my style....

...however, today the kids and I staged our slightly different version, "Dinosaurs vs. Indians"...a.k.a. off to the Smithsonian we go (again). As always (ALWAYS!) we got to Natural History, to "go see my friend T.Rex!" as the boy puts it. We saw him, and all the animal bones, and spent some quality time with the Egyptian mummies, having quite a discussion about the mummy-making process. I think the kids were equal parts engrossed and just plain grossed-out.
 (Making kissy faces at T.Rex)
 This smiling face is to remind me that the boy's temper tantrum did not last all day, it only seemed like it. He really did have a lot of fun. He also really did have one heck of a temper tantrum that almost resulted in us going home after just 1 hour (we had lunch instead, which improved morale considerably!).
 This is my artistic photo of the day, the reflection was a happy accident. I think we will call it, "Pondering the mysteries of life and death".

So, you might ask, what about the "vs. Indians" part of the day?  After our time at Natural History, we hiked down the National Mall past Air-and-Space to a museum that none of us had ever explored before: The National Museum of the American Indian. It's a beautiful building, architecturally, and pretty interesting. I would like to spend more time there on a day when we go there first and have the energy to see the whole thing. We saw about half today, from a drummer as we came in; to a great exhibit on the relationship of Native Americans to their horses, and such wonderful art depicting it; to the interactive area for families with a  teepee the kids could climb in and explore, basket weaving, and pictogram drawing. Here are the highlights:
I love Spring Break. It makes me look forward to having the whole summer to do lots of adventuring together.

the good, the bad, and the very cute

(subtitle: or why you haven't heard from me until now)

The good: the preschool Easter party and egg hunt last Thursday. Great weather. Great fun. As always, the egg hunt is over in approximately 24 seconds after a mad dash for eggs. Smart school, each kid gets exactly the same number of eggs--no fussing or whining or fighting over who got what.

Also good: purchasing my new Kindle fire and spending lots of time finding out what it can and can't do. Spending too much time with it, means less time on the good old desktop where I can upload photos and blog!

And third, going to see The Lorax yesterday. The thing about Dr. Seuss is that it is just as wonderful at 37 as it was at 4 and 6, and the kids and I loved it!

So now, on to the bad: stomach virus slowly making its way through our household, leaving me days when I wondered if there would ever be anything good to blog about again. Ok, enough of the bad. I don't want to talk about it and I know you don't really want to hear about it. On to...

The oh-so-very-cute! Just because our kitten Cassie is growing up so fast (5 1/2 months old now) and I love how she just adores our older cat, Dora. So this one is for all you cat lovers out there:
And that's about all there is to say about this past week. On to our adventures my next post!