Snow Day!

Sometimes I pray for a snow day. Yes, I do.  I’m not a teacher and don’t have children at home anymore but sometimes my work closes for snowy weather conditions and, when we do, I’m like a kid all over again. I love snow.  Always have, pretty sure I always will.

It evokes memories of my childhood, playing outside with my siblings and neighborhood friends.  Sometimes my dad would join us, taking us sledding, lending one more set of hands throwing snowballs, or rolling the plump body of a snowman.  When we finally went inside, frozen to our very nubs,  we’d pull off our wet clothes and warm our bottoms in front of a roaring fire in the fireplace.  Momma  warmed us with hot cocoa and made big ol’ bowls of the most delightful snow cream.  Oh, those memories…

No wonder I love snow.  I love looking at it, making snow cream, and playing in it when there’s someone to play with. I love being inside with the curtains wide open so I can see the folly of each snow flake sauntering through the air. It’s mesmerizing.  It’s magical.  I love the coziness it creates inside with a big pot of soup on the stove, adding warm aromas of comfort to the home.

Today was a very unexpected snow day. Kind of. With local and national news talking about the snow storm moving through the deep south, we weren’t supposed to get any snow at all. Well, “maybe a few flurries,” as local weathermen reported this morning.  Oh, but there was snow – a bit more than flurries, Mr. Weatherman. As I was driving into work, I wondered if it was enough for an office closing.

The view from my office window…

Schools weren’t closed yet, though, and we usually follow their weather schedule.  That didn’t last long, however, as they started announcing their closure mid-morning and asking parents to come and pick up their children.  After hearing that news and a few minutes of consideration, our director announced that we needed to close as well.  Snow day, after all.

My home away from home is only 10 minutes from my downtown office and I made it home relatively easy, without much delay.  Lots of other folks had the same idea, though, so it did take a bit longer.  Once at my cozy apartment, though, I remembered something I should have done before leaving the office since likely we will be closed tomorrow and I’m off the next two days for medical procedures.  So I bundled up and went back to my office.  Not a good idea.

I made it back to the office in about 45 minutes.  I took care of what I needed to do in a matter of minutes and was soon back in my car heading back out on the now fairly treacherous roads.  Coming back to my apartment for the second time was not going to be as easy as the first.  Traffic was bumper to bumper as everyone in the downtown area, it seemed, made a mass exodus all at the same time.  I wasn’t too afraid of sliding because we didn’t move more than 3 miles per hour, I kid you not.  Seriously, in an hour and a half I had only gotten as far from my office as I could have walked in less than 5 minutes.

I practiced patience and felt confident as I nudged along with the masses.  Ahead, I saw the blue light of a police car.  Ahha, I thought, he’s directing traffic.  Nope, he was stuck, along with several others.  Some had slid off road, some were stuck in place.  Said policeman had called a friend with a Jeep to pull him out and off they went.  Yes, they did.  And there we sat, the rest of us.

This isn’t where I was but the view from my car window wasn’t much different.

(Photo courtesy of Times Free Press.)

Chaos.  And it only took 1 inch of snow to accomplish it all.  Okay, Northerners.  Please don’t laugh at us.  We weren’t expecting this.  We are in the South.  Our towns aren’t equipped with salt and snow plows.  While some of us, myself included, can drive fairly well in snow, many can’t.  And some panic.  😦

Inching along, I believed that as long as I kept moving I’d be okay.  But as luck would have it, I came to a stand still on a slight incline.  And became stuck.  Shoot! What would I do!?!  Don’t panic.  Be calm.  Turn steering wheel and give it a little gas.  No luck.  Turn steering wheel in other direction and give it a little gas.  Still no luck.  Again and again a few more times.  No luck.  I really couldn’t gas it hard enough to make an impact on the ice underneath my tires because other cars were too close.  The cars ahead weren’t going anywhere so I sat there contemplating and started growing a little nervous.

From my car not long before getting stuck…

Fighting panic now.  I put on my flashers and just sat there, as had the two or three cars ahead that were also stuck and, consequently, had led to my stall and also getting stuck.  Those that could, went around us.  Good Samaritans they are.  Not! But at least their going around me put a safer space behind me and the next car. So I reversed and inched back a little.  Forward, go!  No, no go.  Again.  No go.  So I gassed it a little harder, spinning my tires, and, boom, I did it! I’m moving again and I didn’t slide all over the place! Feeling proud, I inched ahead, praying that I would be able to continue on without mishap.  And I did.  Since the masses of people had cleared out ahead of me, the rest of the commute was without incident, thank goodness.  Though it was slow-moving.  When I finally made it safely to my apartment, I noticed how warm and red my cheeks were and realized my BP must have shot up 10 points from the anxiety of the last two hours. My 10- minute commute had only taken 2 hours.  And I was luckier than many.

Home at last and several hours since my breakfast smoothie, I realized how hungry I was.  So I did what most women do on snow day.  I put a pot on the stove and started cooking.  I had a new Indian recipe to try out.  Potatoes, cauliflower, peas, and a bunch of aromatic Indian spices, paired with Basmati rice and salad made a perfect late lunch and early dinner.  Oh, and a tiny piece of my husband’s homemade pita bread made from spelt flour. 🙂

A little later, I made this decadent cup of hot chocolate.  After all, no snow day is complete without hot chocolate.  A little milk, a little dark chocolate, agave, vanilla, and a pinch of cinnamon. Yum, yum.  Pretty nice ending for a snow day, wouldn’t you say?  And, after all of the chaos and anxiety that this snow day contained, I still love snow.  Pretty sure I always will.


The Goose is Getting Fat

Christmas has come and gone but I’m one of the lucky ones who is still on vacation from work. Since I work out of town all week, it’s important to me to be home for an extended time during the holidays.  The kids are home and there’s plenty of decorating, last minute shopping, gift wrapping, cooking, and visiting to be done.  We also had a graduation to attend and I had a date with my sweet little niece for a craft marathon.  So I save enough vacation days through the year to be able to take off the two weeks of Christmas and New Years. And let me just say, I am loving being home.

I wish that I had one of those homes that looks so beautiful and festive that I’d want to post a Christmas tour of it.  But this year’s decorations were minimal just because I had a late start due to work and very little time to get things done.

I did manage to get the Christmas village out.  Our daughter and I love it and she loves it so much that she named it after herself.  Haha.  Family joke that we all enjoy.  I look at this little village of mismatched pieces and wish it were real.  The simplicity and the wholesomeness are so appealing.  Unfortunately, the husband and sons think it’s tacky and excessive.  Shame on them.

We’re also doing some work on the house so I didn’t want a slew of decorations to contend with putting away when I needed to be taking wallpaper down and painting.  No, I haven’t started taking wallpaper down and painting; but I will. Maybe tomorrow.  So far I’ve been putting it off for cleaning closets, attics, and drawers. And spending time with my family. And cooking.

I enjoy so it much…feeding those that I love.   For some reason I wasn’t in the mood for all the traditional goodies that I make around the holidays…cinnamon rock candy, chocolate covered cherries, cookies, spice cake.  But I’ve baked bread, figgy pudding, pound cake, granola, chocolate cake with flan, and tried some new  savory recipes.

Christmas Eve is celebrated at our home.  It started years ago when the kids were little.  My family has always done Christmas day at my parents’ home so I wanted to start a tradition for our children on Christmas Eve.  My parents and sisters and their families come over for a non-traditional dinner and later we have gift exchange.  I love that the meal is non-traditional and always different.  Part of the fun is perusing recipes to decide what the menu will be.  No worries, we serve our traditional foods on Christmas Day at my parent’s home.

This year’s Christmas Eve dinner was a salad of mixed greens with roasted butternut squash, toasted almonds and pine nuts, shaved parmesan, and balsamic dressing; seafood gratin; mashed potatoes with parsnips; fish; roasted asparagus and butternut squash, and artisan  bread.  Dessert was figgy pudding.  It’s risky trying something new for such a special meal but everything turned out well this year. That hasn’t always been true for past Christmas Eve meals. :O

Here’s the spread.  Sometimes I set a fancier table but this year was very casual and laid back.  So casual that I even used cooking tongs for the salad. Oops.

The seafood gratin was a big hit.  It’s an Ina Garten recipe  that I modified because I couldn’t get halibut or lobster in my little hometown. My version is made of shrimp and scallops.  I also substituted chicken broth for the wine because most of our family doesn’t partake of alcohol, even if cooked.  I have to say, it was delicious and easy to make.

What I held my breath on most about the dinner was the artisan bread.  My luck with baking bread, other than biscuits and corn bread, isn’t so grand.  The last time I tried making homemade bread for Christmas Eve dinner was years ago and what I turned out that year sat in a basket on the baker’s shelf in my kitchen for a couple of years.  Hard as a baseball bat when I took it out of the oven.  It was pretty, though!

The artisan bread this year was much better.  Delicious! We love good, warm, crusty bread with a chewy center and that’s exactly what we got with this great recipe.  This bread is so easy!  I baked two loaves on Christmas Eve…one for dinner and the other I sent home with my daughter and  her fiancee.  The rising time is lengthy (12 – 18 hours) but the prep time is just long enough to mix ingredients because it doesn’t require kneading.  Yay!  Whoever made this recipe is a genius.  There are so many wonderful variations.  Tonight I’m trying a batch with dried cranberries, pecans, and orange zest.  Hopefully I’ll have something good to post about it after I’ve baked it.

The rest of the meal was just basics.  We fried fish for my 89 year old dad and picky nieces.  I didn’t think they’d like the gratin and I was right.   The extra roasted squash as a side was also for my dad since he doesn’t eat asparagus.  He doesn’t get enough vegetables in his diet so I try to get them in him when he’s eating at my table.  I sneak them in sometimes, which is why I added parsnips to the potatoes. 🙂  

I wish I’d gotten pictures of the figgy pudding.  When I first thought of serving this as dessert, I wasn’t even sure what it was.  Turns out that it’s really cake, not pudding.  The delight of this dessert, besides being something we’ve sung about in Christmas carols for years, is the caramel sauce.  To. Die. For.  Who doesn’t like brown sugar, butter, and cream?  You could eat it with a spoon.  I might have.

I also made this scrumptious dessert for Christmas day.  Chocolate cake and flan.  Chocoflan.  Who would think you could make them both in the same pan? I ran across this recipe on Pinterest and was so curious about it, I had to give it a try.  Risk taker that I am…making something so mysterious for a special meal.  But it turned out great!  I drizzled it with more of that delicious caramel sauce that you could eat with a spoon.  And I got a picture!

Now isn’t this pretty?

And here is the dough of what’s rising in my kitchen right now.  The artisan bread with cranberries, pecans, and orange zest.  If it turns out well, I’ll be making two more batches to deliver on New Years Eve to some special people. I’ll be baking it in a couple of hours.  Is there anything that smells better than bread baking?  Well, maybe coffee.  Maybe bacon.  Maybe a big plump turkey on Christmas morning.

cranberries dough

So how was your Christmas and what goodies did you make?

I’ve Been Busy Part 2

I had been reading about Looking Glass paint by Krylon and how it gives a  faux mercury glass look, which is all the craze on Pinterest these days.  No wonder…it is beautiful.

So I decided to try it out and see if it really works.  It did. It’s not a perfect match for mercury glass but the look I got was good enough for me.  Here’s my experimental project.  The vase was one of those clear vases that most people have 10 or 20 of somewhere in the house from having received fresh flower arrangements.  If you don’t have 10 or 20 of them you can buy them for .50 at most thrift stores.   The hydrangeas are from our yard this summer.  They’re my favorite.

vase  lampshade

Now that I felt confident in using the paint, my next project was to paint a couple of lamps for DD’s bedroom.  So off I went shopping at every thrift store I drove past.  I wanted a basic ginger jar lamp and didn’t want to invest more than $10 for both lamps.  I got these lamps for $2.50 each at Goodwill.  Score!

lamps before_after

Obviously, I had already started working on the lamp on the right when taking the picture above.  I was amazed at the ease of using this paint.  The finish I got is more of a mirrored finish rather than mercury glass but I don’t care.   I saved a bunch of money, considering all similar lamps that I’d found in discount stores like TJ Maxx, Marshall’s, etc., were a minimum of $40 each! Mere pennies to those at higher end stores where similar lamps were $150 or more.   Just not going to do that.  I paid a WHOLE LOT LESS for both lamps completely redone.


 Not too shabby. Don’t you love the lamp shade?  I definitely didn’t get it at Goodwill.

Next, I was on to painting a Moroccan design on a cheap rug that I already had.  It’s just a basic commercial grade rug that had only cost $20.  I figured if I completely messed this project up there wouldn’t be much of a loss since I’d been using the rug for the last year to cover some broken floor tiles in our kitchen. (Kitchen remodel in near future, thank goodness.)  To have spent the last year in our kitchen and to have been so inexpensive, the rug has held up very well and cleaned up superbly.  (Thanks to my dear husband and his power sprayer.)

The stenciling idea was inspired by a few projects I had seen on Pinterest.  I’m too cheap to pay $20 for a stencil.  So I found the design I liked online, printed it, cut it out using plastic cutting board material, and made my own “stencil.”  Then I found the center of the rug and eyeballed placing the center of the “stencil” on the center of the rug.  I then traced around the “stencil” with wet chalk.  Then, I painted over the chalk with white fabric paint, doing a little at a time.

Here it is in progress.

rug in progress

And the finished project…



You may notice some “smeared” places and that is just the chalk, which wiped away with a damp rag.  The rug definitely has its flaws but, for a first try and to be as inexpensive as it was, I’m not going to worry about them.

I found that sponging the paint on using a paint dauber, rather than a paint brush, was much easier.  (That’s what I call it, at least…a little stick with a round sponge on the end.)  I worked on the rug a couple of hours over three evenings; so the entire project took around 6 hours.  Considering these rugs cost $59 and up depending on the quality, I was quite happy with the result.  My expense was a $2 bottle of white paint and a $4 package of daubers.  And the rug, of course, I already had.  Not bad!  And here’s the semi-finished room that these projects that have kept me so busy have gone into.  I still have a bit of decorating to do but I like how it’s shaping up.

finished room

I’ve Been Busy

I started this post a couple of days ago when it was still two weeks away from Christmas but saved it as draft until I could get some pictures uploaded to my ancient computer.  I started to post as is tonight, clearly less than two weeks away from Christmas.  But I’m too OCD to not put things straight.  Haha.  I have now, btw, started the decorating.

Now the original post…

I can’t believe Christmas is two weeks away.  Ack! I haven’t done much shopping and I haven’t put one decoration out at our home.  That’s because I haven’t been home in two weeks! I had to return to my out-of-town job the Friday after Thanksgiving because we were having our largest fundraiser on Saturday.  So much for a four day weekend.  That hurts, but it especially hurts when your real home is three hours away.  Thankfully, I have this weekend to dress our home in lights and other Christmas spirit.

Leading up to Thanksgiving, I was so busy getting the daughter’s bedroom remodeled.  First the packing and painting (that started in March…just a mere 8 months earlier…yeah, I do that sometimes), then more painting when, after our third gallon of paint didn’t match the first two, we had to paint ALL OVER again.  Grrrrrr.  Then the fun began with all the crafty DIY stuff I wanted to make.  It makes me happy that I can put my Pinterest hours to work.


I just love this.  It started as an old gold picture frame with double matting in green and burgundy.  It had contained a fruit bowl picture and I  had really liked the picture when I got it way back in the 90’s.  Shew! Can we say outdated? But look at it now.  I love repurposing!


 I spray painted the frame platinum and the mat white, then covered the cardboard that the picture had been secured to with this beautiful fabric that I just fell in love with.  I’m going back for more to make cushion covers.  The “K” is of press board and is available at most craft stores.  I painted it white.  It took about a million layers of paint to coat it because the press board is so absorbent.

Another project I did for the room was refinishing this old night stand that I found at a thrift store for, get this…$13!!  I love bargains like that! It’s a great piece of furniture, solid wood and dove tail drawers.

night stand before

This was taken after I started sanding.  My first plan was to paint and distress the entire piece.  Then I decided to paint the body but stain the top.  And that, of course, meant completely sanding all of the stain and varnish from the top while the body only needed a light sanding.  My husband felt sorry for me after telling him how hard I worked sanding the top and he went out and bought me an electric sander. 🙂

night stand finished

Here it is.  It’s not perfect but it works for me.  I bought new glass handles at the hardware store.  I had the paint and varnish to refinish this piece so the only additional cost outside the $13 that I paid for it was around $16 for the handles.

Have you worked on any repurposing projects lately?


Well, I’m back after several months.  Something pulled the air from beneath my wings and I didn’t feel like writing.  I shouldn’t have let what happened affect me as it did, but I did.  And that’s all I have to say about that.

Tonight I am very happy to report that the remodel of our daughter’s childhood bedroom has transformed it into an adult abode that, I think, beckons coziness and rest.  I started the project way back in March.  My daughter probably figured I’d never finish it as I stopped mid project for a while.  But once I picked it back up, there was no stopping.  My husband and I did the painting but left the most important job of installing hardwood floors and trim work to the professionals.  I can’t believe I’m about to do this, but here are the before photos.  Her room wasn’t usually a mess like this.  Actually, she always kept her room clean and tidy when she was still living there.  But she had lots and lots of stuff.  The two pictures below are in the midst of packing all that stuff up and away. Did I mention that she had lots of stuff?

ImageI am responsible for the ugly pink carpet.  Keep in mind that we built the house in the early 90’s and our daughter was a mere child of 8 when we moved in.  Pink = little girl.  Little girl = pink.  That’s my pitiful defense.

Image My daughter is responsible for the bright yellow walls that are so sunny I would go into the room to turn the light off and find that it wasn’t even on. At the age of 16, after living in a frilly room for 8 years with horrid pink carpet and walls and ribbon-design wallpaper, she determined to rid herself of as much of the frill as she could.  And who could blame her? She removed the wallpaper and did all the painting herself.  I was proud of her for doing that even if it does prove just how much she deplored the wallpaper and Pepto Bismol pink paint and carpet that I’d picked out years earlier.

But those days are long gone.  She left for college just a couple years after painting those walls bright yellow and though she’s been home for summers and holidays, hasn’t lived full time with us in years. Saying that out loud hurts my heart.  I’d mentioned making changes to her room several times but she wasn’t ready for that and, quite frankly, neither was I.  Empty nesting is truly for birds.

But today is a different day.  She’s a grown woman now with a home of her own, a professional career, and engaged to be married very soon.  It was time – beyond time – to change the room to an adult’s bedroom, sans movie posters, dolls, stuffed animals, knick knacks, and collages of high school friends (and all the dust that had collected in crevices everywhere).  And putrid pink carpet and sunny yellow walls.


I just love it.

Doing all this work has pulled me back into my creative self that I’d put on a back shelf for years.  I love feeling creative and making warm and cozy places in my home for my family.  Even if they are just home now and then.  Heck, even if I am just home now and then (still working 3 hours away during the week).  Besides the painting, there are several DIY projects that I completed.  I refinished the nightstand (I found it for $13 at a thrift store)…painted the lamps with this new Looking Glass paint from Krylon that’s all the rave on Pinterest…stenciled the rug, and finished a  couple of other crafty projects. I’ll write about those in another post.

Home on the Range

This weekend’s weather shouted, “It’s SPRING!”  So yesterday morning I called my sweet dad to see if he was up for a drive.  Daddy will be 89 in June and loves to get out and enjoy sunshine and nature; but his driving is curtailed so he doesn’t get around as much as he would like unless someone takes him out.  For me, getting out and about with my dad is one of my pleasures and bright blessings.  It’s a privilege that I cherish.

Driving through the national park that we are so fortunate to have just minutes from our home, we spotted three deer.  Since the road doesn’t have a lot of traffic I was able to stop the car in the middle of the road and grab my cell to take a few pictures.  I was afraid these beautiful creatures would frighten and take off and, while one was more camera-shy, the other two stood practically still for a few minutes and allowed me to get a couple of pics.


This one almost seemed to be posing.


We are lucky enough to see deer somewhat frequently around here, sometimes as many as 8 or 10 at a time in the park.  Every time I see them, I become excited like a child, as if it’s the first time ever seeing one of these delicate animals.  A friend put it perfectly, “I get a happy feeling every time I see a deer.”  Another friend aptly describes the feeling as “joyfully mesmerized.”  Yes, I agree.

A few minutes later we were parked in one of the park’s picnic areas that has a small creek running alongside it.  Hoping to encourage my dad to walk a little,  I suggested we walk over by the creek to get a few pictures.


I love how the bright sunshine permeates into the forest.


If only I could have captured the sound of the flowing water!


Beautiful moss. I love this shade of green!


Rhododendron, before its blooms appear.

From the park, we went on to drive through the countryside.  Passing a nearby buffalo farm, we spotted three of those gigantic mammals out in the field.  I’m amazed by them, too, so  we pulled over to snap a few more pics.  How I wish I had a better camera and better photography skills.


Twice as large as the other two, he was so majestic!


Home, home on the range, where the deer and the antelope buffalo play…

And now the weekend is nearly behind us and my time being home on the range over for a few days.  Tomorrow I will head back to my home away from home where I work through the week.  It’s been a good, though not productive, weekend.  Sometimes we just need those kinds of weekends.  I hope yours was spent relaxing with those you love while enjoying the sunshine and the nature that surrounds you.

Chi Chi Chi Chia!

Sorry, I couldn’t resist the title, even though I’m guessing it’s becoming quite banal and overused nowadays with all the hype of this newly-famed health food, chia.  If you aren’t familiar with this tiny little seed, think chia pets – another trendy use of this seed, hence the title for this post.  Chia seeds come from the plant, salvia hispanic, and they’re said to be a super food…good for cholesterol, controlling blood sugar, reducing inflammation, weight loss, and a few other notable health benefits.

Photo credit for this pic goes to where you can purchase chia seeds and many more treats.  I haven’t ordered anything from this company yet.  In fact, I just found it doing a search for chia.  I’ve noted the prices, though, and it seems they are much cheaper than Whole Foods or Earthfare.  I imagine I will give them a try soon.

Always one to try out a new-to-me food, I purchased a bit of chia seeds recently on a trip to Whole Foods.  I hadn’t tried them yet when, over the weekend, a friend posted an article on Facebook about the benefits and, a day or two later, my daughter sent a recipe for a scrumptious-looking chia pudding.  I felt those were signs that it was time for me to try my recently purchased chia!

Oh, what a treat! I mean, how much better can it get when you combine easy, delicious, refreshing, and healthy all into one? Inspired by this lovely recipe:, I made a batch of chia pudding the other night.  Mind you, I was leery.  The fact that chia seeds become gelatinous on the outside, once mixed with liquid, was enough to make me leery.  I’m a brave soul, though, and decided to move forward. Am I ever glad that I did!  If the gelatinous factor is off-putting to you, you should know that gelatinous does not equal slimy, as I thought it might.

Chia Pudding

2.5 cups almond milk (or any other kind of milk)

1/3 cup chia seeds

1 – 2 TBSP sweetener of your choice; I used agave nectar (you can also omit sweetener because the fruit will add sweetness)

Place in a jar or bowl with a tightly fitting lid and shake.  Refrigerate for a few hours or overnight but remember that the chia seeds will clump if not stirred or shaken a few times while being refrigerated.  That happened with mine, but I was able to break the clumps apart with a firm whisking the next morning.


You could eat your chia at this point but following the inspiration from the blog linked above, I served it with fruit and other deliciousness.  I placed the fruit in individual serving bowls, then topped with the chia pudding, a few walnuts, and a slight drizzle of cream.  Think decadent.  When I finished off the last bit of it tonight, I added a little unsweetened coconut.  Think scrumptious.









The fruits I used were bananas, pineapple, orange sections, and kiwi.  You could use any kind of fruit, really. Strawberries and blueberries would be nice.  Those deliciously sweet mangoes I bought last week at the Indian store would be heavenly.  The combinations are vast! And, for the girl with a big, bad sweet tooth, I am also thinking…can you guess…chocolate! I will try that soon and report back to you. 😉

What a Difference a Day Makes

Easter Eve, my how times have changed.  It wasn’t that long ago that on this day I’d be hustling and bustling to finish the Easter baskets for my children and the last details of their new outfits, dying eggs with the kids, cooking for our Easter dinner, and cleaning the house like a mad woman for a visit from the Easter Bunny.  Doesn’t seem that long ago, but oh what a difference a day makes.

Today, with three grown children – neither of which will be home for the holiday – I’m much less busy and much less stressed.  I have a cheesecake in the oven, a turkey thawing, and the fixings for cauliflower casserole in the fridge.  That’s the extent of my preparations nowadays.  Dinner at my Dad’s means I don’t have to clean the house and, with no Easter baskets to fill tonight, no trips are necessary to Wal Mart, thank Heaven above and all other goodness.  That place is a mad house on days like this.

Those were the good ol’ days, without a doubt, and while I do miss those days when the kids were little and around me all the time, I don’t miss the craziness of the holidays that came along with it. I brought most of it on myself, striving to create for my family what I thought was perfect.  Sometimes, when I see young mothers stressing over getting it all just right, I want to tell them, “Go easy on yourself.  You don’t have to be super mom.  Your kids are going to remember the love and attention you give them, not the prettiest Easter basket, or the shiny brand new shoes, the immaculately clean house, or even the biggest chocolate bunny.”

I wish I’d spent less time worrying, and more time just enjoying life for the way it was at that very moment.  I wish I’d spent less time cleaning and more time dying eggs with the kids.  They’ve turned out fine, the kids.  In fact, they’ve turned out exceptionally fine.  But moms just can’t get enough quality time with their kids.  Remember the quote about kids growing up, but housework still being there?  It’s true…

Ah, enough rambling.  Look at these pretty eggs.  They’re every day eggs…no dye involved.  The chicken did all the work.  Does anyone know what variety of chicken lays these beautifully colored eggs?


Winter Round Two

Brrr! It’s cold.  If you read my earlier post – Spring Around the Corner – you will recall that I thought the cold day we were having then would be the last soup day for the winter. Wrong! Seems we all thought winter was behind us when Mother Nature decided to show us, again, who’s in charge. 

I won’t complain, it’s cold but we had no more than flurries all day where I live and work during the week.  Back home, I’m told it has snowed all day with more in the forecast throughout tomorrow.  Schools have cancelled, which, in the southern states, doesn’t take much snow. Don’t make fun of us.  You try driving those windy, curvy roads where the sun never shines when there’s a bit of snow on the ground. 

I didn’t travel to my home over the weekend, so I got a break on driving.  I had to work for a while on Saturday morning and I spent the rest of the weekend doing what I do best: loafing.  Actually, that means I shopped for a few groceries, going to Earthfare to get these two beautiful pineapples free with just a $10 purchase.  


Well, actually it was a $21 purchase for me.  That got me about a pound of coffee, a container of natural peanut butter, and a pound or so of quinoa.  Hmmm…maybe those two free pineapples weren’t such a bargain.  It was the coffee that drove that sale up so high for so little.  I’m a coffee snob and coffee is one thing that I’m willing to pay more for.  There aren’t many things in life that I’m willing to pay more for.

After Earthfare I went to the Indian grocery store.  Who likes Indian food? It’s one of my favorite ethnic foods but when I go to the Indian grocer, I find so many things that I don’t know what they are. 

I love going there, though, and find that the prices on their produce and spices are MUCH cheaper than chain groceries.  I’m proud to say that I got a bunch of cilantro for 33 cents, 15 key limes for $1, a red pepper for 63 cents.  Can you believe that?  If you have an Indian grocer near you, check them out.  Actually, if you have any ethnic grocer near you, check them out.  Chances are they will be cheaper, too. Then you won’t feel bad about spending a godawful amount on coffee.

After my big grocery haul, I tried a couple of Pinterest-inspired recipes. Please note: I will always notate when the recipes I follow are Pinterest-inspired.  This is how I make myself feel better for those too many hours pinning more recipes and crafts and decorating ideas than I could possibly ever create in the rest of my lifetime.  Even if I had the time, I wouldn’t have all the money for all of the Pinspiration.

I have a son who’s vegetarian and our family, even before he became a non-meat eater, has always enjoyed a meat-free meal now and then, even somewhat regularly.  We had Meatless Monday before it became so trendy in social media venues.  I think our inspiration for that was the necessity to feed a family of five cheaply.  😀

Sweet potato cakes with sour cream and chipotle black bean salsa was my Meatless Monday meal on Saturday.  I made a big mistake by not cutting the recipe in half.  I made enough of the patties for two meals and put the rest of the sweet potato mixture in the freezer.  Maybe I’ll make more patties later, or maybe I’ll just add the mix to chili or a stew.  We’ll see…


The recipe is a keeper.  The sweet and savory spices blended so well, I’ll be interested to see how my family likes it when I make it for them.  Here is a link to the recipe:

I also made a batch of honey roasted chick peas.  Now and then I like to have a crunchy snack to munch on, especially when I’m driving the 3 hour commute home and visa versa.  Even though I wasn’t traveling this past weekend, I took a hankering for these sweet and salty legumes.  They aren’t low carb or low calorie but they have much less fat than peanuts…plus they’re full of fiber, which counters the carbs.  So they’re a healthy snack. 

If you haven’t tried roasted chick peas before, give them a try sometime.  Getting the crunch just right can be a challenge but, even a little chewy, they’re still good to snack on.  And, there are lots of flavor combinations to experiment with. 

Before roasting…


Honey Roasted Chick Peas

2 cans of chick peas, drained and rinsed

2 Tbsp. canola oil

1 Tbsp. honey

Salt and pepper to taste

After draining and rinsing chick peas, pour them onto a dish towel and pat dry.  Get as much moisture off as possible to ensure a better crunch.  When nice and dry, place them in a bowl and drizzle with oil, add salt and pepper.  Place on a foil-lined baking sheet and roast at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.  Remove from oven and drizzle the honey over the chick peas, then stir and place back in oven for another 20 minutes, stirring each 5 minutes to ensure even roasting.  Allow to cool on the baking sheet before placing in an air-tight container.  That is, if they make it long enough to go into an air-tight container.  You may end up surprised at how quickly two cans of chick peas can be consumed.

All roasted and ready to be munched!


Question: What is your favorite healthy snack?



Full Circle

Well, two weeks into blogging and I’ve already broken a cardinal rule: posting regularly.  It’s been over a week since my last post.  It’s not that I haven’t wanted to write; I have.  It’s not that I didn’t have anything to write about; I have.  It’s not that I didn’t try new recipes to share; I have.  They just weren’t fabulous success stories.  Tasty, most of them, but not pretty. Not worthy of taking pics to brag about them.  I was also a little preoccupied with a house project and had my daughter and her fiancee visiting for the weekend.  Okay, enough excuses.

Last week I took a couple of days off from work to begin the arduous process of turning my 27 year-old daughter’s bedroom, finally, into an adult bedroom sans stuffed animals, movie posters, and especially sans the blinding bright yellow walls that she painted when she was 16.  It took some time for her to accept that all this change needed to happen.  I think the fact that she’s about to graduate from law school in a few weeks might have had an impact on her agreeing, even if half-heartedly, that it was time.

Once I started, it was more emotionally daunting than I expected for me, too.  There’s no denying or running from it, though.  My kids are grown.  Which makes me the mother of grown kids.  Adults.  The day has come.  Full circle, you might say.  My babies have all flown the nest.

Enough of that mush, lest I make myself cry.  I have a great plan for making her bedroom a very comfortable, inviting, and attractive space.  It may take 6 months for me to get around to completing it but at least I’m on my way.  Don’t judge me, remember that I work out of town throughout the week and spend 6 hours on the road each weekend.  My energy level sometimes feels near deplete.

So while the kids (I’ll always call them that, no matter their age) were home, we had fish tacos one night.  Have you ever had fish tacos?  When I first heard of them I thought, “Ewww.”  They’re pretty darned good, though.  I didn’t care too much for the recipe we used (sorry, Keke) but I’m eager to try making them again sometime soon using a different recipe.  The best part of the meal was the black bean and roasted corn salad that I made as a side.

This salad was such a simple, easy, and healthy dish.  If you’re following a low carb eating plan, this may or may not be for you.  I am not eliminating or severely limiting carbs, I get them through fruits and vegetables rather than bread, pasta, rice, and potatoes.  Yes, I know…corn and beans are higher carb vegetables but they are complex carbs so I have them in moderation.  And look at this lovely roasted corn.  It would have made a delicious dish all by itself.


Sweet little kernels of caramelized yum.

To roast the corn, put it in a bowl, drizzle the olive oil over it, toss some salt and pepper in and spread it on a baking sheet.  Then roast at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes.   Let it cool before adding to the salad.

Black Bean and Roasted Corn Salad

1 can of drained and rinsed black beans

10 oz frozen corn

1 medium red bell pepper, chopped

5 green onions, sliced

1  lime, juiced (to taste)

1 TBSP olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Just put it all in the bowl, allowing the corn to cool first, then mix and eat!  Drizzle a little olive oil over it, if you’d like.

Black Bean Salad

There are a lot of variations you can make with the salad.  Some cherry tomatoes would have been nice…a little cumin and/or garlic…a little grated cheese.  I wanted to add diced avocado but Wal Mart was all out.  Imagine that, Wal Mart being out of something.  Happens all the time at the Wal Mart in my hometown.  Grrrr…

Another recipe I tried a few days ago was diet candy.  Diet candy?  Isn’t that an oxymoron?  Well, it isn’t diet in the sense of calories.  However, it is healthy candy that is low carb, without sugar, and fits nicely into my eating plan that must accommodate a sweet tooth.   Think Mounds candy bar.  My inspiration came from one of my favorite recipe blogs, Chocolate Covered Katie:

Take a trip over to her blog and see a picture of it for yourself.  Believe me, while mine tastes pretty darned good and satisfies the sweet tooth, it didn’t turn out pretty at all because the melted dark chocolate chips seized and therefore was just globbed on top of the coconut layer.  Doesn’t stop me from eating it, though. 😀