Friday, September 30, 2011

Easy Eggplant Dip

2 Japanese white eggplants, 1 GIANT purple eggplant, 1 black tomato, 2 green t'mater that fell early and will ripen in a window, and lots of yummy red t'maters that have already been turned into salsa.


It's been so rainy and dreary here lately that I've just sort of let my garden go.  And by garden, I mean two eggplant plants (do I say eggplants or eggplant plants?), three tomato plants and on acorn squash that died a few weeks ago. 

So imagine my surprise the other evening when I was out picking t'mater and spied this giant purple eggplant!  All hidden under the big fuzzy eggplant leaves.  This sucker is heavy as all get out.   I was afraid it wouldn't be very tasty this overgrown.  Oh but I just hate waste.  So I chopped it up and tossed it in some EVOO, Kosher salt and pepper.  And roasted it for about 30 mins (until soft).


Easy peasy.



I added plenty of EVOO when roasting so didn't need to add extra when in the FP.


Then I buzzed it thorough the food processor with a dash or three of chili powder.  You might need to add a little more EVOO too depending on how much you added before roasting.  And if you find a jar of roasted red peppers in your pantry, I bet that would be yummy too.


OK it's not beautiful.  But I promise it is a very yummy dip!


This dip has no actual name.  But it's really really yummy.  Like addicting.  Great on chips, crackers, veggies, crusty bread, or a spoon.

So should you find yourself with a giant purple eggplant or a bunch of normal sized eggplants, you totally need to make this little eggplant dip.  Because it's really really good!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Cutie Pies : Please Help Me Pick The Photo

Once again, Blogger stinks.  Does anyone have a solution to getting scheduled posts to actually remain scheduled instead of magically changing to Draft?  This was scheduled to post earlier but alas, Blogger has a mind of its own...


OK so I am entering a local apple contest on our local NBC affiliate website.  I have no earthly idea why it is suddenly important to me as I am not at all a competitive person.  But I saw the announcement for it a few weeks ago and I can't seem to let it go.  Dumb, I know.  But I am entering all the same. 

Oh and to explain, I made little gluten free apple pies (though they could of course just as easily be regular gluten full) in tiny ball canning jars.  Single serve apple pies.  Or as I am calling them, cutie pies.  And you can freeze them before cooking if you want to have them on hand to just bake a pie or two at a time on a cold fall evening. (Which we have yet to have around here- it's been hot and humid.  But I must assume fall will actually come so a girl is getting herself prepared.  With pie.)

But it seems I can only submit one photo.  My camera is still broken so I only ever use my blackberry.  And I didn't spend much time fussing over these pies as is clear from the images.  I did throw a piece of fabric under them- that's about as fancy as I get these days.  But they are darn tootin tasty. 

So please tell me which photo looks the best of the three below.  I again admit this is silly but I am entering the contest anyway so I might as well put forth a bit of effort, right?


Photo 1


Photo 2


Photo 3

UPDATE...

OK so I decided I liked photo #3 but that fabric jar not having a ribbon around it was driving me nuts.  Yes, my friends, I am a grosgrain-aholic.  So I took two seconds to re-stage this little photo shoot and this is what I cam up with and submitted.  Thanks for all of your sweet comments!  Don't be offended that I changed my mind.  I'm a girl and it's my right to add ribbons!


See...everything is better with a little ribbon detail!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Oh No...What The Heck Have I Done Now?!

I've seen so many of my favorite bloggers boast about the ease and positive results that they have when dying their hair at home.  And I've thought for years that I would love to be just like them.  A proud home hair colorer.

You see, I have been to a dozen hair salons here in Upstate NY and I just never really liked any of them.  So I took Laura's lead and went to her salon.  Except it's in Vermont.  In the summer I might be able to get there in a little over an hour.  In the winter (and remember that it is winter up here for at least 6 months) it can take me an hour and a half.  More if it's a really bad snow storm.  So it's basically a full day affair just to get my hair done.

In the summer it's an easy justification as I just adore the town of Manchester, VT.  There's a great Lilly Pulitzer/Vineyard Vines shop, beautiful outlets, cute museums, scenic drives and really yummy restaurants.  I have this whole routine down.  I drive in with enough time to get a McDonald's Diet Coke, go get my hair cut and colored, go to Lilly, then pop in my favorite book store/restaurant to get the best curry chicken salad ever.

But in the winter, it's not exactly an easy to justify drive.  And just because it's decent on this side of the border in the morning doesn't mean that two hours later it's still going to be decent. 

So I thought...  I mean, everyone else says it's easy.  If they can do it and like it....

I don't know, y'all.  Maybe I need to wait a week and then do another treatment to lighten it a bit more?  It seems an odd color right now.  Less blonde blonde and more orange.  OK not like Annie orange.  But not soft baby blonde either.

I've not seen anyone other than my dog yet so perhaps I need to get outside opinions on the matter.  Sadie just doesn't seem to care at all about my hair coloring experience.  I do have a JL meeting tonight so I guess I'll find out then if I look like Annie or not.  Right now, jury is still out.

Bottom line is that just because it's easy for one blogger does not mean it's easy and successful for another blogger.

The sun will come out, tomorrow....

Saturday, September 24, 2011

It's Just So Chicken Little

Can we all agree that it looks like a five year old made this in his backyard?


I must confess that I am loving when every news program this week ends with a note that the sky is falling.  They think. 

On Thursday.  Or Friday.  Or Saturday.  Or Sunday.  Mark your calendars.

In a bunch of pieces.  They are pretty sure.

Probably small pieces.  Or large pieces.  Or some of both.  But for sure, pieces.  Pretty sure.

The pieces will probably land in an ocean. Because Earth has lots of those. Or on land. Because Earth has a bunch of that too. Possibly in a remote area. Or a populated one. Yeah, something like that.

Somewhere north of Antarctica.  And south of the North Pole.  Give or take a few hundred miles. 

The destination might be east of your home.  Or it could be west.  Or on top if it, all Wicked Witch of the West style.  Get out your ruby red slippers, girls!

Let me know if you spot one of these mysterious pieces.  And as long as no one gets hurt, I will continue to find this all the most amusing spot of TV this week.

The sky is falling, the sky is falling...


photo source

Friday, September 23, 2011

Vanilla Bean Sugar


My jar is actually full of sugar but I knew you'd never see the beans if I didn't snap a pic when only half full.

Vanilla Sugar.  Or the most tempting jar in my home.  I had a few extra vanilla beans and decided to split them down the center and pop them in a mason jar full of sugar.  Shake, shake, shake every few days and there you have it.  My super secret recipe.  Ha.  As you use up the sugar, feel free to just add more and shake it up.  You should be able to refill this jar over and over again for a good long while.

Adding the vanilla beans just makes this jar of sugar a jar of magic fairy dust.  Add it to any recipe but it is particularly amazing in cases where you would ordinarily top with sugar.  Like muffins, cookies or pie crust.  It's subtle but heavenly.

I am not going to lie...sometimes I just open the jar and sniff it.  It's that yummy.  Have I just crossed the line in our bloggy friendship?  Was that TMI?  Whatever, it's totally true.  I am a total vanilla bean-aholic, y'all!

I think it might make a sweet (ha- I think I'm so funny) little hostess gift if you put it in a smaller mason jar and wrapped it up nicely.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Turkey Bean Chili

I meant to post this on Monday night when I made it, but I have barely checked my email in the last few days. My fur baby, the dog that is the love of my life and possibly the only child I will have, has been very very ill. The good news is that she is on the mend. Ish. Mend-ish. She is improving but v e r y slowly. So I've been all-consumed with her and not blogging.  I am way behind in reading your blogs.  I hope to catch up this weekend.


But I did enjoy a fabulous pot of chili this week. Now this is not a food a grew up eating so I am not sure if this is authentic or anything. But it's darn good and really, that's all that matters!

Turkey Bean Chili
Ingredients:

* 2 tablespoons EVOO
* ground meat (I used ground turkey but any meat will do or omit if you want meatless)
* 1 teaspoon dried onion
* 1 pack chili or taco seasoning or 3-5 tablespoons homemade
* extra chili powder to taste
* 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
* 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg (optional)
* 2 cans kidney beans, in their liquid
* 2 large cans diced tomatoes
* 1 tiny can tomato paste




Directions:
* In a heavy bottom pot, heat up EVOO to high heat. Add meat and all seasonings. Brown until cooked through.
* Add beans, tomatoes and tomato paste. Go ahead and add the liquid in the bean cans. It's free, already right there and helps thicken the chili. Mix well.
* Turn down to low/simmer and cook for @30 minutes to let all the flavors incorporate. Add a can or two of water if too thick.
* Serve with a sharp cheese, sour cream, chips, onions or anything else floating around your pantry.




This makes a huge pot of chili and it freezes great if you don't feel like eating it all this week. On a cold, snowy, winter day, it's sort of awesome to heat up a dish of your homemade chili for lunch or dinner.


I know the cinnamon and nutmeg seem a little out of left field but trust me on this one. Seriously, trust me. You can't taste them specifically but they really add so much to the recipe. I actually add a few zips of freshly ground nutmeg to nearly everything savory that comes out of my kitchen. They are optional but just do me a favor and add them even if you think I am crazy. I'm not (or not today anyway) and you will love the extra subtle flavors. In advance...you're welcome!

And a final note...

If you want to make this in your crockpot, do the first step of browning off your meat in a pan and then transfer it and everything else to your crockpot. Cook low all day or high for a few hours. Is anyone else a total crockpot-aholic too? Love love that thing!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Hating Facebook



So did your Facebook page change today?  Mine didn't because I was part of the beta test and have had this horrible change for a month now.  Where you don't get to see updated status reports.  Instead Facebook decides what you want to see.  They think they know me.

Well guess how that turned out the last month for me, Facebook?

I moved my social media love over to Twitter. 

If you really knew me, Facebook, you would know that I have very little patience for having to fish around a website.  It's either easy and sensible or I don't need to deal with it in my life.  Twitter is easy, Facebook is a pain. 

Supposedly they made these changes to compete with Google +.  But I've only heard negative things about Google + so why on earth would you want to be like something that no one enjoys?

I will say that since I so completely dislike Facebook now, I waste so much less time on stuff like that.  But I'm guessing that's not why Facebook made these changes. 

Aaaah, just bring back the option to see updated status reports in order please!

Monday, September 19, 2011

My Day Hanging From Ropes

Wow!  That's really my best reaction to the day.  It far exceeded all of my expectations. 




It was however different than I imagined.  A heck of a lot harder than anything I have done in my lifetime.  As mentally challenging as it was physical.  And you should note that I can barely move my arms today, two days later. 


OK this was a LOT harder than this chic makes it look.  I ended it flopped flat on my belly at that platform up top.  Hilarious to anyone watching me I am sure.  Ha.


But it was a blast to try something soooo far outside my personal box.  To really push myself.  I was extremely proud of how far I went.  And how high up I was in the woods without having a panic attack.  I've concluded that the only reason height didn't tremendously bother me was that my mind was so busy thinking about how to get from point A to point B. 




So for those less versed in ropes courses, let me explain a little.

You start by getting a harness on and realizing right then and there that there was no point in blow drying my hair or putting on make-up that morning.  I was not going to look pretty.  But the unpretty look was universal so I got over it really quickly.  Then you get a little training on where to add your clasps to wires and such to keep you safe.  And how to hook on the gizmo that lets you use the zip-lines when needed.  All technical terms of course!




Then you are off to try the first level.  Which at the end felt easy, but at the time felt challenging.  Funny how that works.  Each level (five in total) became progressively longer and more difficult.  They all were made up of a variety of tasks that included jumping from moving logs to ropes to ladders to rock walls and then some.  All high up in the trees.  With zip lines here and there too- which are my favorite. 




There are tons of guides down below who are able to rescue you at any time though.  I know this to be true as I got started on level five (the final level) and then saw what the rest looked like.  Y'all, let me just be honest that I do not work out.  Once in a while I pop in a DVD but it's usually hip hop dance something.  I have no upper body strength though.  None.  At.  All.  So when I realized level five was entirely arms/upper body and that I was beyond exhausted already, it just wasn't going to happen.  I had already pushed my unfit body much farther than I could imagine possible.  I will get there.  But next year.  So I asked the guide if he would come rescue me.  They told us at the start that they would and I knew two of my girls had done it earlier on the course. 


all images


So the little guide man shimmied up one tree, hopped floating logs to my tree, rigged me up and I got to repel down.  I completely enjoy my unexpected detour.  I have zero shame on the matter.  It was for the best.  I didn't want my arms to give out and get hurt. 

Plus, it gave me time to sit around chatting with my girls.  I think they thoroughly enjoyed seeing me doing this with them.  They were so sweet and encouraging to me.  I looked a fool all day.  But I know when to laugh at myself.  It was a mighty laughable day.  Such a phenomenal bonding experience.  And just plain FUN!

I've decided that if I ever get married (Dear Lord, please don't make the the old lady that is alone forever.), I want to a ropes course instead of a bachelorette nekkid dancer party.  I'm thinking the course in the AM, massages in the afternoon and a fun hotel, and a fabulous dinner with endless bottles of wine in the PM.  Don't worry Bestie, I know you are reading this thinking of how to get out of attending.  The chances of me ever getting hitched are negligible at this point.  But I do truly think that sounds like an awesome girls weekend.

I have to share with y'all a very strange consequence of this adventure though because I am just so confused.  So I don't dig heights all that much.  Like an airplane isn't an issue but feeling like I am going to fall from a ladder is.  Anyway, I did remarkably well, if I do say so myself.  I tried not to look down much and push through fears.  Honestly the few ladders I had to climb were the biggest issue for me regarding this fear.  So when I came home, I made myself immediately walk the dog because I knew if I sat down I would crash.  Then I had some dinner and took a very long and very hot shower to try to help my muscles.  And got cozy in bed.  When I slept that night though, I had nightmare after nightmare about falling.  I kept seeing the various parts of the course but then the logs would be missing or I would just free fall.  Which would make me jolt awake.  And then be in physical pain because my muscles are sore and jolting is so not what any doctor would order.  All night, nightmares.  It's like my relaxed mind realized that it forgot to freak out in the woods so was making up for lost time or something.  So strange.

So the bottom line is that I had one of my all time best experiences this weekend.  But I can't really move my upper body this week.  Getting out of bed is like a 20 minute ordeal.  And it's hard to do things with floppy arms.  I seriously loved it though and can't wait to do it again soon.  Or like, next year soon.  Let's be realistic about these things.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Last Night and This Morning

Last night I made...
* An omelet with eggplant, peas and spinach.  And OMG was it ever delish!
* Bacon because several of my t'maters are ripe so I plan to have BLT's all week.
* A sweet potato gratin/pie thing that I made up for lunches this weekend.
* Kale chips.
* Banana, coffee, chocolate chip muffins that are sooo yumm-o!
* Chocolate chip hazelnut cookies (because I was out of pecans).

It's finally cool here (though I am not particularly joyful about it) and I just had a bee in my bonnet I guess.  I also did two loads of laundry.  However I did not vacuum or dust or mop or file papers.  All of which need to be done much more urgently than making cookies and muffins.  But this was my first night to myself in weeks and it just seemed more enticing to bake goodies than clean floors.  You should assume next week's blog posts will contain several new recipes.  All GF of course.

I will also (hopefully...if I survive) regale you with tales of my Saturday adventure.  I'm doing a ropes course with my college kids.  Me, in a harness, up in a tree, on a chilly Adirondack fall day.  Oy!  It's less stepping outside my box and more like moving to another state and building a whole flippin' new box out of jelly beans.  Oh and I'm also not super keen on heights.  Or more like feeling like I am going to fall.  Should prove to be interesting.  Wish me luck...

Friday, September 16, 2011

33 Bottles Of Baby Formula For Free



I've not been great the last few months with dropping off donations to the local food pantry.  I've been so busy.  But I have been great at buying baby formula.  Mostly for FREE.  With coupons of course.  Tips located here.

So when my Junior League decided to do a baby diapers, wipes and formula drive as a kick off event this year, I knew I had the perfect outlet for my growing baby formula collection.  I got my rear in gear and used up all of my coupons to put together what you see here (and then some- there was another bag on the floor of my car). 




In total I had 33 full size bottles/cans of formula.  A mix of Gerber, Enfamil and Similac brands and a total mix of types (complete, soy, fussy tummy, etc).  I didn't know what was what so I purchased like a prep.  I bought the pink and green caps.  Because they were prettier.  Plus I had in there about 10 other formula samples in a variety of sizes (some full size some small single size).  And a bunch of diapers too.

Doing this, I learned several things. 

First, I learned that babies are holy heck expensive!  I am forever shocked at how expensive diapers and formula are.  Wow!

Second, I learned that formula companies recognize the expense and do what I think is a very good job of offering coupons if you just sign up for them.  I've been super impressed at how much is offered to new mommas.  If you just sign up.

Third, I realized how necessary it really is for me, someone clearly not in need of baby anything, to take advantage of these deals to make donations.  If someone is struggling to buy a few food items, it is going to be nearly impossible for her to buy a $30 box of diapers or $9 can of formula. 

I am continually making what to some must be obvious connections.  If your food stamps or tiny pay check barely cover food, you certainly cannot afford to buy feminine items, headache and sinus meds, chap stick or baby wipes.  All things I consider to be life necessities.  Not luxuries. 

I know my donation isn't going to solve the world hunger crisis.  But it was an incredibly easy way to make a teeny teeny tiny dent.

With the exception of the larger pack of diapers, I paid NOTHING for all of that formula and the diaper that you can barely see (sorry I didn't think to take a photo until the car was loaded).  OK so some cans did run me under $1, but others were a profit.  So in the end, it was all completely FREE.  But the value was certainly well over $250 (I also didn't think to add it all up).

Easiest donation ever!

Do you have any tips for either new moms or non-moms with a heart for making donations to food pantries?  And are you judging me for buying formula based on the color of the caps?  Ha!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Movie Review : Moneyball



So last night I went with a girlfriend to a movie that neither of us had even heard of.  We had a chance to see a free preview and thought, what the heck.  I knew from a quick search that it was about baseball and starred Brad Pitt.  That's it.

Oh...and I really really really do not like baseball.  Snooze.

The movie was, in one word, fantastic!  I loved it.  Smiled the entire time.  Laughed out loud a lot.  And just felt so happy for having seen it in the end.

I know it was about baseball on the surface but it was so much more than that.  It was a true story of faith and leadership and stepping outside the box.  I was so inspired and just cannot say enough positive things about the film.

My only criticism is for some of what I think is called the filmography?  This is giving nothing away so fear not.  But there were several segments where the film showed a super close up shot of a computer screen.  So you could see all the little dotty pixels.  I thought that was super annoying and actually a bit uncomfortable to look at after a while.

But that was minor compared to the acting of Brad Pitt and my new favorite actor, cutie patootie Jonah Hill.   (I had to swagbucks to figure out who he was but I just want to hug him.  Adorable.  Love!)  The movie was completely wonderful.  When it hits the theaters, I completely encourage everyone to go feel all cheerful and inspired by watching it!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

I Love This



Isn't this just the cutest idea?!  I adore simple, sweet yet oh so creative details.  The tutorial is here.  I think it could easily be done with sugar cookie dough to top hot cocoa too.  Love love it! 

Sunday, September 11, 2011

I Don't Like Today





The more time that passes, the more difficult I find it to see programs on and talk about 09/11.  The day itself was of course shocking and impactful, but more so it was the week after that had the most significant impact on my heart.

I planned to do a post talking about where I was, etc.  But I think I've actually done that before on here somewhere and it's not some big story.

Instead, I've decided to just keep our country in my constant prayers today. 

Ten years after the most horrific attack on our nation and we still can't even be nice to each other.  We have discrimination and hatred and illness and bad roads and falling bridges.  And a serious lack of manners and common sense in Washington DC.  Well, and nation-wide, too.  I think that's almost as sad as the day itself.




So today my prayers are simple.  Not for world peace.  Or health care.  Or Diet Coke to be served at all restaurants instead of Pepsi (though back me up girls, that's a really good hope!).  Today my humble little prayer is for sincere kindness.  Can you imagine how sparkly the country might be if everyone was just a smidge kinder tomorrow?  And the next day too?




Instead of attending a memorial service that would set me off in tears today, I'm spending it with my very favorite college kids.  And honestly, I think it's the perfect place to be.  All snuggled into that passion and excitement.  Reminded that life is still pretty and full of love.

I hope that everyone spends the day in a way that will bring them the most peace and comfort.


all images

Friday, September 9, 2011

Bitty Break

I am exhausted.  And my week is only half over.  I have an illness.  It's pretty serious, y'all.  And is at a major breaking point this week.

The diagnosis?

A wicked case of Ican'tsaynoitis.

Stay back.  It's highly contagious among women of a certain sweet, enthusiastic personality.  It's ain't purdy, though.  Because there will not be a night this week until Sunday that I will get home before 11PM.

I normally put my pajamas on no later than 8PM. 

But here's the thing, I am still up at midnight on purpose.  Watching TV.  On purpose.

I have not paid attention to much of anything on TV this summer.  But Rosie O'Donnell has been doing promos for this great documentary on OWN called Most Valuable Players.  About these fantastic high school drama kids.

I did lots of musical theater in high school (But not at my high school.  I feel that's important to note as several readers know where I went to high school.) and just love to see such spirited young talent.  So pure.  For the love of the stage and friendships.  The only awards show I watch is the Tony Awards.  That's it- just one.  Broadway or bust, baby.

Anyway, The Freddy award is the high school equivalent of the Tony's.  News to me, but the doc is completely endearing.  I'm glad I stayed up to watch.

Of course I doubt I will be quite as happy about this decision in the morning.  Not to mention I am sure this show will repeat a zillion times just like everything else on cable television. 

But about my break...I am taking one.  From the blog.  Until Monday.  When I hope this severe case of Ican'tsaynoitis clears up a little.

Life goal: Learn to just say no.  Once in a while anyway.  Baby steps.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Little Boy Blue

Exciting news...  A sweet sweet friend is expecting!  But she's not told our mutual friends yet so I'm not yet naming names (or in this case, my made up blog names).




I just had to make a fellow Lilly Pulitzer lover a little treat for her soon to be baby boy though.  I think it turned out pretty cute.  Actually I am loving the tie onesie in this pattern.  What I am not loving is the burpee cloth.  I will not be buying that brand of cloth again.




For those new to sewing, I have a step-by-step with photos tutorial on how to make your burp cloths.  It's incredibly easy and quick.  But you should note that if you are just getting into sewing, you will also be getting into ironing.  That usually comes as a surprise to new sewers and I feel like it's only fair to be honest.  If you sew, you also iron.  A lot.  Oh but again, super easy to make a burpee cloth.  Give it a try!

I Know Exactly Where I Was Standing When...

This is the third in the series.  Please feel free to read the first and second posts in the series.

My parent's generation has President's Kennedy's assassination.  But my generation has the OJ Simpson white Bronco chase.  I never claimed these little memories were all going to be deep and meaningful.  I just claimed to share a few memories that were impactful in my life.

I know exactly where I was standing when OJ Simpson and his guilty butt were chased in his white Bronco down the highway in California.

Every summer, my amazing high school church choir would go on tour.  And if I had to pick one giant experience (so over all four years) as my most significant from high school, choir and touring would win hands down.  That particular summer, we went out west.  The summer between my sophomore and junior years in high school.  And one hot night at a hotel in Salt Lake City, UT, we flipped on the TV to see every station covering the infamous Bronco chase. 

Of course at the time, no one had any idea what was going on or the significance of the chase.  But it was clear that this was not an ordinary cops and robbers moment.  It felt big, even then. 

We had that night free so I remember that we kept going from the pool to various rooms where the TV was covering the story.  Everyone was mesmerized and knew that in a strange way, this was important to see.

Now fast forward a few years.  I was a senior in high school.  I had saved up my two free half credits to take a full year of Home EC as a senior.  Which even looks silly as I write it but my high school was not one of those schools where people had free periods or worked in the front office or had any sort of extra time in your schedule.  It just didn't work like that at my school.  So it was a big deal to take an entire year of an elective.  And I would do it all over again.  That was one of my favorite classes.  No worries.  Just a lot of fun.  And food.  We cooked a LOT in there. 

Anyway, that's all really besides the point. 

The OJ Simpson verdict was due to come in and even teachers were turning on the classroom TVs to let students watch.  The bell rang for lunch.  Which only lasted like 18 or 20 minutes- it was impossibly short.  But they were announcing the verdict.  Everyone just stood in that Home EC classroom staring at the TV as the not guilty verdict was flashing across the screen.  I remember kids cheering in the halls.  Sort of a full circle moment for me.

Oddly, for as vivid as those two memories are, I had no real opinion of the case either way until fairly recently.  I guess when OJ wrote that book is about when I formed a strong opinion.  So I am again not sure why those two moments in time are so crystal clear today.  But for better or worse, the OJ Simpson case plays some sort of role in my little pink world.

Where were you during the white Bronco chase?

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

I Know Exactly Where I Was Standing When..

This is the second post in this series.  Please feel free to read the first post here.




I know exactly where I was standing when I was given my first Cabbage Patch Doll.

It took place about 20 feet from yesterday's memory actually.  In my driveway, next to Florida's house.  And about a half hour after she received her very first Cabbage Patch Doll.

My family, Florida's family and two other families from the same block decided to go up to Disney World for a family weekend.  We stayed in RV campers in the Disney camping park.  It was actually a great way to vacation as families with young children and I would totally do it again if I ever have kids. 

But this post is specifically about before we left for the trip. 




So I guess our parents decided to give us the much lusted after dolls to keep us occupied on the four hour drive up to Orlando.  And Florida left a bit before us.  As they were getting in their car (Also a station wagon because it was the 80's, baby!), Florida's parents gave her a Cabbage Patch Doll.  I remember that it only had one shoe- the other was missing from the box.  And while I was so excited for her, I was also a little sad that I didn't have one too.  And subsequently guilty for feeling envious.  The same mix of emotions I have today when each and every friend calls to tell me she is expecting.

A few minutes later (in my mind it feels like 30 but in reality it honestly might have been five), as we were loading into our own wagon (I was sitting in the back back and fixing on my shoes), my parents gave me my very first real Cabbage Patch Doll, Tonya.  Whom I associated with Tonya Harding, pre-clubbing Nancy Kerrigan of course, and loved dearly.  I was so shocked and surprised that I was getting a doll too.  You see, this trip was right around Florida's birthday and I assumed that was why she got her doll.  I had no idea I would get one too on the same day.




I came to own a collection of those beloved yarn head dolls over the years.  But Tonya was forever my favorite.  She was my first.  The first time I remember so badly wanting anything from a toy store.  I think in a way I felt like I had earned her.  She was a wish granted.  Tonya was extra special to me.  And is in a box of my childhood things somewhere in the basement. 

I have no idea why my first Cabbage Patch Doll is important in my life.  Such a silly moment.  But for whatever reason, I can recall every sweet detail.  And I am so glad I can tell you exactly where I was standing when little blonde Tonya was born (remember how they came with adoption papers?) into my little world!


This is exactly what Tonya's hair looked like!

Recruitment Tips...A Revsit

This was not my best post ever and there are grammatical errors popping out at me still.  But for those of y'all in any stage of Greek Recruitment, I think I made some pretty good points.  Going through Recruitment, even if you decide not to join a chapter, is such a fun experience.  But joining a chapter- be it national, local, degree, religious or service oriented- can be one of the most meaningful decisions of a lifetime. 


source


I know Recruitment feels like a crazy one week fashion show-ish event right now.  But trust me.  If you do this correctly, joining a sorority is a life-long joy.

I cannot say it enough...I think everyone should Go Greek.  Saying "it's not for me" is not really trying it at all.  There truly is a chapter for everyone (this is of course assuming you attend a college that includes a Greek system).

For those reading who are currently in college, please take a quick glance at this old post.  And consider testing the waters by signing up for Recruitment this semester.


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Peanut Butter Muffins

First let me say that I am stepping outside my gluten free ingredient box these days.  I've stocked up on all sorts of new-to-me ingredients including Coconut Flour.  Here's the thing though, you cannot substitute out coconut flour with any other flour (that I know of anyway).  It's not cheap.  However, you use a LOT less of it in recipes.  Please note below how little is used to make the muffins.  So while it is more expensive, it also lasts a LOT longer too than say all purpose flour. 

It's also a lot healthier for you.

So here are some interesting facts about coconut flour...
* Coconut flour is dried, defatted and ground coconut meat. It is fresh and organic, with a wheat flour consistency.
* Low in carbs.
* Not at all grainy- has a nice wheat flour consistency.  Very silky.
* Good source of vitamin C, iron and fiber.
* Doesn't really taste of coconut.  There is a light scent but not much (or any at all) of a coconut flavor.


Here are my three favorite brands...







So that was just to explain what coconut flour is for those unfamiliar with it.  As it's a new ingredient in my life, I figured it might be new to some of y'all too.  Want a yummy recipe to try now that you know all about the healthful benefits of coconut flour?  Because let's be honest, I've never baked for health benefits.  All that ramble was a justification to make myself a treat. 


OK so they are not beautiful but they are sooo yummy.  Add some jam and it's like a PBJ.  Add Nutella and it's like a PB cup.  Or just eat as is because they are yummy and don't need extras.


Peanut Butter Muffins


Ingredients:
* 3 eggs
* 1 tablespoon butter, melted
* 5 tablespoons brown sugar
* ¼ cup peanut butter
* ¼ teaspoon salt
* ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
* ¼ cup coconut flour
* ¼ teaspoon baking powder


Directions:
* Mix eggs, oil, sugar, peanut butter, salt, and vanilla together in large bowl.
* Mix coconut flour with baking powder in small bowl.
* Whisk dry ingredients into batter until there are no lumps.
* Fill muffin cups halfway with batter.
* Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. Makes 6-9 muffins.

I Know Exactly Where I Was Standing When...

When it comes to meaningless conversations, I can repeat them back to you verbatim.  From about age four on.  Yet I have a hard time remembering what I wore yesterday.  Blocking from a play I did 20 years ago?  No problem.  I can sing all the songs too.  But I need to read pages in books often four or five times before all the information sticks.

It's annoying.  First because it takes me soooo much longer to read things.  But also because when you try to explain a mutual story, I will have to interrupt and correct you.  Not in a mean way but you will likely leave details out or paraphrase.  And strangely, I will remember every word and breath that happened.   But again, only for seemingly unimportant stuff.

But that bit about me aside, I think we all remember the intricate details of several major life moments.  With September 11th approaching, I thought I would take a little moment each day this to share a major life moment in all the silly details.  Not all serious.  Not all cheerful.  But for a variety of reasons, they have been important in my life.  Permanently etched in my brain and helped contribute to who I am today.

First up...

I know exactly where I was standing when my dad moved to Florida.

I was born just outside of Washington, DC.  But we moved to south FL when I was a little over 2.5 years old.  My mother and I flew down and stayed for a few days with my bestie Florida's family while waiting for our belongings to arrive at our home next door.  And my dad drove the green station wagon down with our Basset Hound.

I only have one memory of our DC home.  It is of being carried downstairs to our basement.  I remember the walls and looking down into the room and the carpet.  That's an odd story that might not translate as funny though. 

So my first complete memory is off my dad driving up to Florida's house.  I was upstairs as I had been taking a nap.  I can tell you every detail about the entire upstairs of Florida's house.  I remember looking out the window and seeing my dad drive up and the dog looking out the side window.  No idea what I was wearing though. It was a warm fall afternoon.  I remember the tree in front of Florida's house (That's still there by the way.  Florida and I climbed it a million times as kids.).  Walking out on the front porch with my mom.  The exact shade of green of the wagon (they're boxy but they're good).  I remember feeling so excited to see my daddy after being apart for several days.  The joy and excitement is tangible almost exactly 31 years later. 

For me, I suppose this memory really signifies the start of my life.  My entire childhood took place within about 10 blocks of that front porch.  The best parts of my childhood took place in Florida's house, actually.  The Laudy is my hometown.  And that block is where I learned to ride my bike, do cartwheels, trick-or-treat, and climb trees. 

The moment my dad drove up to that house feels like the first day of my life.  It is my very first full memory.  The first time I remember feeling like me- in regards to personality and emotion.

Oh and bestie Florida...she is the momma to my most amazing Godson J.  And she welcomed into the world the newest love of my life, baby girl E, this weekend.  In labor over Labor Day Weekend.  We've been best friends for nearly 33 years!  When I say on here that I am going to my hometown, I specifically mean that I am going to that same house where her parents still live.

What is your earliest memory?  Is it as random and seemingly insignificant (yet totally telling!) as mine?

Friday, September 2, 2011

What's For Dinner : Stuffed Peppers

I've been wanting to try making something like this for a while but as I've never actually tasted a stuffed pepper, I wasn't sure where to start.  Yup, it's true.  I did not grow up eating much Italian food outside of the occasional bowl of spaghetti or pastry.  Once in a while my mom would make lasagna but then when I stopped eating beef in high school, I stopped eating lasagna too.  (It was the early 90's and before ground everything else was easy to find.)

I only have one bestie who vigorously claims an Italian heritage (hey Belle!) and we didn't meet until college.  So what I am trying to say is that while my food palate was fairly diverse as a child, I didn't really know much about Italian food. 

So if you've been here long enough, you know that I don't much care for chocolate, high heels or pasta.  Girl card...gone.  I know.

But then I saw two of my favorite bloggers making something similar this week and knew I had to pull up my big girl britches and just make something up.

So I did.  And it was ridiculously easy.  And sooo yummy.  Probably not even remotely authentic.  But seeing as how it is the only brush with a stuffed pepper in my life...I'm not complaining.  Now my mind is spinning with what else I can stuff into a pepper in the future. 

Probably Not Authentic But Definitely Yummy Stuffed Peppers

Ingredients:
* green peppers (I made five for this recipe and had some leftover filling.)
* rice (I used this brown rice)
* cooked meat (I used 4 chipotle chicken sausage cut up)
* veggies (I added peas but spinach would be yum too)
* 1/2 - 1 cup cheese
* tomato sauce or paste (I used @ 1/3 jar sauce)
* salt and pepper to taste




Directions:
* Mix everything together.  Reserving a bit of the cheese to top each pepper.
* Slice off the tippy top of the peppers.  Take a paring knife and run it down the four sides to disconnect the ribs.  Remove the seeds.
* Stuff peppers with mixture.  Top with cheese.
* Bake at 350 until tender (@30 mins)




Notes:
* This is a great way to use up leftovers.  Leftover rice from Chinese take-out, leftover shredded chicken or pork, etc.
* Want to make it vegetarian?  Don't add meat.  Ha- it's that simple.  Want more protein?  Add in a can of drained chick peas instead of meat.
* I think I might try adding some Italian dressing instead of red sauce one time too.
* I used a muffin tin to bake the peppers so they wouldn't fall down.  Which worked out perfectly!




Did y'all grow up eating stuffed peppers and other classic Italian dishes?  Is there something basic like this (Italian or otherwise) that you didn't try until you were in your 20's or 30's or later?


Thursday, September 1, 2011

Getting Toasted For Georgia Football




Perhaps this has been around down south of some time but I just spied this on Amazon for the first time today.  How cute would it be on game day (or any day really) to wake up and make yourself some Georgia G toast?  I bet you could toast the bread and then dip in egg wash to make some Georgia G french toast too!  Or layer said french toast to make and bake a Georgia G French toast casserole.  OMG I now think I need this toaster, y'all!  You know, because so many of my NY peeps give a hoot about the Dawgs.  Or college ball in general.




So maybe I don't actually need this, but y'all might.  I think it would make a fun Christmas gift for the guy who has everything he needs already.  Except a Georgia G toaster that is! 

Of course other NCAA teams are represented too.  A few you might be looking for...





A Reminder That Good Samaritans Walk Among Us

Dear old dad lost his keys while on a bike ride checking out the flooding on Monday.  Which would make this the second time this year that he lost them during a storm.  Oh dad!  Thankfully he had access to a hidden key should such an event happen.  Again.

So the next day he went about getting more keys made.  Including his car and properties.

Then on Wednesday, goodness happened.

But if you have not read this old post, please do so first.  It makes the current story more amazing.

Did you read?  I'll take your word for it.

So some anonymous person again found Dad's keys.  And again, took them to the food co-op.  They looked up Dad's address from the only thing on the key ring containing any personal information, his co-op membership card.  Then someone from the co-op took the keys to the Post Office.  And the PO returned them to Dad with the normal mail delivery. 

So even though I feel like I don't fit in up here in the North Pole.  Even though I whine that we don't have the good stores.  And I am not close to any of my best friends.  I am reminded yet again that only in a small town will people go so out of their way, twice, to give you a set of missing keys.  There is a lot of goodness here. 

And it has clearly paid off to join the local food co-op!  Shop local, y'all! 

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