Friday, January 30, 2009

Remember to be thankful

I am at this moment convinced that if times were better, I would be doing something else. I am so enervated with the day to day process of dealing with difficult customers and their unreasonable requests without any regard for etiquette along with taking on "pass the buck" issues from co-workers. Then there's that knowing that after all these years (14 to be exact) I am still just a bottom feeder here; and being treated as such, no matter what my title says. It has me feeling stale inside.

I do realize that I have to remember to be thankful that I have an income for my family in these times where others are losing theirs. I am thankful. Perhaps I am being the unreasonable person with no regard for etiquette. I will say this though...as soon as times are better and the economy is back and booming again, this girl will be making a much needed change.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Too many layers

I said I would post a pick of that yummy lasagna from Saturday. Still looks good after some time in the nuker.I think I added too many layers on mine and I wish I had better lighting in my house for food pics. I have to say though, usually your tomato based lasagna tastes better the second time. With this one, the sauce had mostly absorbed in the pasta and it lost it's creaminess the second time around.

Breaded and baked chicken breast for Bella.

Cut for tenders and portioned for later meals. I know what they're made of...chicken.
Here's a recipe for all of those who love bacon and sausage and do not have a cholesterol problem like I do. This is a recipe called Bacon Explosion which contains 4 pounds of pork. It's pork sausage with bacon bits wrapped up in woven bacon strips. Click on the blue link to read the New York Times article (with slide show preparation) to see how this monster is made. I recommend watching the slide show. My ticker started palpitating just looking at it.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

It's not the sixties?

I just heated my lunch at work and of course each day I am beset with harassment over the food I eat. Every day I am made to be the hippie weirdo here. Apparently I am weird for eating vegetables, fruits, pasta, nuts and not a lot of meat. I am weird for giving a damn and wanting to eat as much organic as I can. I am weird for integrating other cultures in my meals and eating things like couscous, hummus, curry, sushi or prosciutto. Like I flew to Morocco, Greece, India, Japan & Italy to get those ingredients. Unfortunately I did not, I just went the local grocery store and from recipes in cook books. I never say anything bad about anyone elses's food choices though I would love to at times. I am surrounded by closed minded, uncultured, square ass people.

One of them told me "You are just living in the wrong time, you think it's the 60's." I replied "No, I am just living in the wrong place".

We lonely blue baggers

Today was recycling day for us and as usual we got all our blue bags tied up and neatly placed in front for pick up. Our blue bags really stand out in our neighborhood because unfortunately they are the only ones to be seen every other Wednesday.

I read a letter to the editor in our local newspaper this past weekend that I completely agreed with. We have a neighboring town about 6 miles away from us that will possibly be getting a landfill. The individual stated that they received a card in the mail wanting to stop the landfill. They then when on to say "Until everyone in the town area recycles almost all of their waste, there will be a need for a dump. Every house I see with a sign in the yard that says to vote against the landfill, has giant garbage cans in the driveway awaiting pick up". They never see anyone recycling.

There are many benefits to recycling. It does reduce the need for land filling and incineration. It saves energy and decreases emission of greenhouse gases. Also recycling conserves natural resources such as timber, water and minerals. Hell, the fact that it helps sustain the environment for our future generations makes it a selling point for me. Some states make it mandatory to recycle. I wish they did that where I live because I fear no one will participate until it's mandated.

I recycle all of my boxed items, clear glass, canned items, allowed plastics, newspapers etc. Just chuck them in your blue bag - it's that easy. I do rinse out my items that contained food and such, which I guess does create more work in the kitchen, but it doesn't seem to bother us much.

So next time you are out buying your white tall kitchen bags, please grab a box of the blue ones too. ;o)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Patience grasshopper

It's one of those days where you reflect inward and also look outward and wonder if you are doing it all wrong. As much as I try to get my life under some kind of control and do my best to guide Bella in the right direction, it always seems that I am a runner never making it to the finish line. I am new at this parenting thing and as much as I try to make the right decisions or pick the right battles, I am still not happy with my resolve. I am so very thankful for all I have and for the beautiful children that have blessed my life. When moments of anger take over, I have to remember what goodness they bring to my heart. This too shall pass...and then the "tween" years will come.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Brewing and baking

Sounds very Martha Stewart doesn't it? That's not all bad to me. There's nothing wrong with trying to be more organized and also make things yourself instead of just going out and buying it, especially when money is tight. Hell, look where it got her? I wouldn't mind having her bank account!

I made my big dough ball yesterday so I will be able to make my loaves of bread again when I need them. Saturday I made a delish mushroom and prosciutto lasagna. It's a recipe that I have made a few times. I've linked to the recipe from epicurious.com (I regret it's not my photo but mine looks a lot like it. I forgot to take a pic. I'll get one on here). It is labor intensive and has more calories than I like, but worth it man! We had Nanna and Nannu over for dinner and they liked it too. It's a once a year kind of treat. I even made the lasagna noodles myself which made it even more creamy in texture. It's pure heaven on a plate...

If you keep track of my side items that usually change weekly you will notice a new entry for Barley Water Brewing. Chris brewed his Foreign Extra Stout yesterday. It looks like it will be another local favorite.
Wort into kettle.

Look how dark that is. I tried the wort before it was brewed and it was sweet and nutty.

Look who sat out in the garage for a bit to watch dad do his cooking.


Move out of the way! I can't see what he's doing!

Hitching a ride from sis and both getting in some vitamin D. I also need some of that. Maybe a little extra for added color too.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Brrr! It's actually cold down here

When I pulled in to daycare this morning I looked at the temperature reading in my car and it was 19 degrees outside! Now that's darn chilly for a Florida girl! It's been an exceptionally chilly winter so far for us. I actually like it because I know how miserably long and hot our summers are.

So far I am still 21 days no soda or fast food. I am still not feeling "deprived" at all which is good. I have been making and enjoying different kinds of teas. When it's really cold I drink it hot, when I feel parched, I pour it over ice. I am still looking for calorie free beer. If you find some, let me know...

Sadly I have not yet acquired a steady exercise regimen. Here's a funny story as to why. While getting up at 4:00am had its perk as far as giving me time to be alone and to get ready at a slower pace, I found that on my way to work I was literally having to slap myself in the face to stay awake. One morning I pulled in to work 15 minutes early and decided to just stay in the car and rest my eyes for just a moment. Next thing I know a co-worker is banging on my window to wake me up, which scared the crap out of me! At that moment I knew getting up @ 4:00 was not for me. So here I am again in exercise limbo. I'll get it figured out.

I know I am being one of those annoying boasting mothers but he's so very cute.

Just like his sister did, he loves to swing.

He gets a lot of his looks and his temper from his dad but he's pensive like me. He is very curious and will launch towards anything but he's also content with just looking around too.

I have been reeking the benefits of my bread and pre made items from the weekend. I need to keep that a must do each weekend. The night before last I made a pancetta, potato and kale dish and served that along with some hummus and bread (I made another loaf!) which was great because it makes enough for lunch for work too at a low cost. Last night I made stir fried rice with the rice I had prepared during the weekend along with miscellaneous vegetables I had around that needed to be eaten. So far preparing things ahead has helped me be able to still eat healthy while getting dinner done quicker. Oh, and save some money too. I am constantly trying to think of ways to save on my food and house items bill each month.

All roads seem to lead to going back to basics. Something I think a lot of us have lost touch with through the years. I know I have.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Two important steps

Step one!
He took his first steps yesterday at home with Bella and daddy. He just started standing in place for a while and then started walking!



Looks like he's pretty pleased with himself. He should be! The first step is a very big step in life.

Step Two!

Inauguration Day! I ususally shy away from all Politics and Religious topics because of everyone's different beliefs and views and have never found it positive to debate either subject. However, I was moved today and just want to say that I embrace this change and I have hope that we can all unite as Americans no matter what race, ethnic background, religious preference or financial standing and as people of this earth to bring peace and productivity to the forefront for the sake of our future generations.
We are all the same.
Period.
There, I said my piece.

Introducing Ms. Bella our local paleontologist. She's found an interesting rock and has her tools ready to investigate.She was right! Looks like we have a fossil folks.

She carefully excavated her dinosaur out and he's safe and sound in the house hiding in the kitchen somewhere. I am sure I will find him along with some friends behind my mixer when I go to start dinner!

Monday, January 19, 2009

That feeling of accomplishment

I love that feeling you get when you work on something and when completed you look back and get that sense of accomplishment because a) you completed it and b) it turned out pretty cool. That's what happened for me this weekend. I have to say, it was a great weekend. I did have to stay home with Kristjan on Friday because of a new head cold; which I of course, did not mind in the least.

Saturday we dropped Chris's car off for service and we all went for breakfast using a Christmas gift card. We then went to the mall where we used up some other gift cards and let the kids ride the carousel a couple of times. I purchased some vegetarian fed, free range chicken breast for Bella and I cooked it and portioned it out for her for the week. No more dino mystery nuggets! Sure, it's okay to go out and order chicken tenders at a restaurant from now and then and who knows what kind of chicken she eats at school - I can at least make sure she's eating the real deal at home.
Sunday was nice and laid back. Chris played with the kids while I got some goodies done in the kitchen! I made a bunch of whole grain brown rice that I portioned and put in the freezer, made some hummus, some homemade pasta to eat and freeze and even some bread! I still can't believe I made my own bread and it turned out great and it was actually quite easy. I have a big dough ball in my frig now and all I need to do is grab a grapefruit size out, let it rest a bit and throw it in the oven for 30 mins. Voila! Fresh bread!

It was so cool to me to see everyone eating and enjoying my bread. Kristjan was lovin it, Bella had some with dinner and Chris enjoyed some with the hummus. What a great feeling (ok, I'm scaring myself again). I know what's in it and it will mold if not eaten - which is what it's supposed to do.

It also was another beautiful Sunday afternoon...





I did find making those things and spending time outside with the family to be good for a little stress relief. I can always use more of that.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

My little scholar

Bella's second quarter report card was even better than the first! She received excellent in math, reading, comprehension and art! She's off to a great start and I am so very proud of her. She drives me crazy at home sometimes but at least she has the attention span needed to focus on learning. Now to get her attention to remember to put her clothes in the hamper? I am still working on that.

Sometimes I have to bring her to work with me due to school or daycare being closed and she notices that I sit on the computer along with moving papers around all day. She makes comments and gets bored of course even though I provide dvds, coloring supplies and video games. It's a long day at the office for her. I always remember to remind her when she complains that she needs to make sure to do well in school so that she does not end up spending every day working away at something that means nothing to her spirit or happiness. I tell her that she can be anything she wants as long as she works hard for it and remembers to not be afraid to pursue her dreams.

I think that when I tell her this, I am also talking to myself. I am still working on that too.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Always welcome good news

I took Kristjan to the eye doctor today and confirmed that he will no longer be needing the eye probing procedure. His tear ducts seem to have matured and cleared on their own. They still get clogged when he has head congestion but as long as we are not again having to clean out his eyes and medicate, he should be home free! We are so pleased with the news. Whew!

Mmm, now that's a good piece of oak.


Want some?


Bella takes crashing on the couch to a whole new level utilizing all cushions at once.

I am going to do little experiments on myself to see if I can pin point a problem I have developed through past couple of months. Seems almost every time I eat I am bloated, tired, tummy bothers me, pulse changes, among a few things. I am not sure what's going on here so I think I will test a couple of theories. Perhaps I am becoming sensitive to certain foods or it's my cholesterol meds. I have a doctor's check up coming up, but until then why not see for myself?

I am going to take a two week dairy break and see what happens. I think it will be kinda fun to try and see if I can even manage to live without any of my beloved cheese for two weeks. I guess the good part is that I am really not supposed to be consuming that many animal products anyway, so this is a good thing no matter what.

Monday, January 12, 2009

I feel bad for even mentioning it

But we had a great weekend weather wise down here. Now for those up north please don't kill me! At least you get seasons to enjoy! We won't get a beautiful blossoming spring like you will. We will go from pleasant to down right smoldering with 100% humidity. You walk outside and your makeup melts and your clothes are wet. I hope that your winter calms down soon. I hear it's really nasty up there on the east coast. Heck, the whole northern region from east to west got slammed.

It was in the mid 70's during the day and I was able to open the windows and air out the house some this weekend. The kids played out back and I took some pictures too.

Bella pool side. The water is still spring water cold but it still looks inviting.


Krisjan giving Nannu directions to the pool. No buddy, it's way too cold still!

Chris's orchids. His other plants are growing their blooms now.

Sage


Oregano

Rosemary and lavender


Thyme


What is left of my poor basil. One herb I use the most. All of my herbs except for the lavender and rosemary are pretty much used up and puttering out. Time to replenish!


Kris loves riding around in the red wagon. Just sits there quietly and looks all around. Maybe he'll get another ride tonight (weather and sunlight permitting).


Azalea's blooming

My cute little man.

It's day 12 with no sodas or fast food for me. Still staying strong on that front without any urges so far to go astray. Luckily I am still grossed out by the fast food idea which helps. Speaking of gross. I was cleaning out and reorganizing my pantry area and I needed to throw away a couple of Bella's old lunchboxes. In one of them I found an uneaten peanut butter and jelly sandwich still in the zip lock bag. The scary part was that it looked like I just made it! I don't know what state the contents inside the sandwich were in but the bread had no mold or any markings of deterioration at all! Bella had not used that lunchbox in over 3 months! The bread was Nature's Own Honey Wheat. The label says it contains no artificial preservatives, colors or flavors. So what's all that crap in their ingredients then? Bread is supposed to be water, yeast, salt and flour. That's it! My first error was giving her "Unbleached Enriched Flour" instead of whole wheat. Stay away from those three words if you can! It will be hard because you will see them everywhere!

Here are the ingredients from their web site for the honey wheat:
UNBLEACHED ENRICHED FLOUR (WHEAT FLOUR, MALTED BARLEY FLOUR, NIACIN, REDUCED IRON, THIAMIN MONONITRATE, RIBOFLAVIN, FOLIC ACID) WATER HONEY HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP WHOLE WHEAT FLOUR RYE FLOUR WHEAT BRAN YEAST CONTAINS 2% OR LESS OF EACH OF THE FOLLOWING: WHEAT GLUTEN SALT SOYBEAN OIL VINEGAR CULTURED WHEAT FLOUR DOUGH CONDITIONERS (CONTAINS ONE OR MORE OF THE FOLLOWING: SODIUM STEAROYL LACTYLATE, CALCIUM STEAROYL-2-LACTYLATE, MONOGLYCERIDES AND/OR DIGLYCERIDES, CALCIUM PEROXIDE, CALCIUM IODATE, DATEM, ETHOXYLATED MONO- AND DIGLYCERIDES) YEAST FOOD (AMMONIUM SULFATE) MONOCALCIUM PHOSPHATE CALCIUM SULFATE ENZYMES SOY FLOUR SOY LECITHIN

It's obvious there are preservatives in that mess so that the bread can stay on the store shelf and look all pretty for the consumer. They are just playing with the "no artificial" words so that you see it and buy it while they preserve using mad science, non-artificially. I am still puzzled why they need to also include the corn syrup in there...

So at our house I will be on a quest to teach my kids about cooking and maybe it will help them to get excited about eating better. Well, Kristjan is still learning to eat period. I have to admit I have a little problem coaxing Bella into eating anything that isn't chicken, cheese, bread or green beans but I think if I work with her more, eventually she will appreciate the tastes of different things. There is one supper healthy thing that she will tear up without a problem and that's salmon! So now Chris is not the only Salmon lover in the house.

There she is ready for her first cooking class.