Category Archives: Food and drink

Leesburg Virginia ~ and snakes who go swimming

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Here in Idaho, we just had our first snow of the season!  Yay snow!  Of course, it only came down from the sky but didn’t stick… it’s not quite that cold yet.  But it was so pretty. 

But enough about Idaho – I’ve been thinking about Virginia.  Because even though we were desperate to come “home”,  there were still nice things about back there.  Not that I want to live there, nuh-uh!  But I have some good memories….

One day, we went on a picnic just minutes from our home.  A pretty little park…

And right under this cute little bridge was this guy –

EEEYYWWW!!!  That is just so many shades of wrong.  I don’ t have any specific snake phobias (I’m more of a grasshopper-phobic – don’t judge!) but I really don’t think one should be in the creek in which we were considering wading.  Just sayin’.

We just stuck with having a meal and calling it a day.

Bonus points to anyone who can tell me what kind of snake that is!

If the USA (and maybe the whole world) is going to hell in a handbasket – should I really waste time trying to lose weight??

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I think there is too much news-watching and political-talk-show watching going on around my house.  Seriously.  Because it seems like everyone around here is talking about how this is the end of life as we know it and related horrid stuff.  Which I really don’t want to hear. Or think about.  You know, I have really been hoping our business is going to take off and we will eventually make more money, get to have our own home, finally take our kid to Disneyland (for the first time in her 14 years…) You know, that we can go back to living the American Dream.  So, what if that’s never going to happen?  What if the crazies down on Wall Street succeed in turning our country into some socialist/communist country?  (Even tho every one of those people I have heard interviewed doesn’t even seem to know what they’re doing down there… just a bunch of unhappy morons.) Or we have to live as Muslims? Or China takes us over in some military coup or something?

I don’t try to worry about this crap.  I try to thinkhappy thoughts of how my life is going to turn around one day, and I will quit being miserable (Yeah, I know, it’s a state of mind.  I moved out of that state.) or, at least, I will live in my own home with my own stuff and be slightly happier.  But what if the paranoids are correct?  What if our country has only got 15 or so more years before we go down the drain, as other countries have?  What does that mean to my child?  That she’ll never have a good life? 

I don’t know why this is upsetting me so much, except maybe because I am so unhappy about my life situation right now, and the one thing that makes me feel a little better is sweet, sweet sugary food, and yet I am trying so hard to give that stuff up so I won’t be all fat and unhealthy.  So that , when life turns around and gets better I will look better! But what if that’s never gonna happen?  Should I just keep eating, and therefore feeling happy in those brief, sugar-filled moments?

Sigh.  Some pundit is on TV as I write, and I just don’t want to hear it.  I think I will leave the house.  And maybe go buy a donut.

Taking a poll: Do you share your recipes?

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I am interested in how you all feel about this.  I never really gave it much thought; I mean, in my family, if you wanted a recipe for something, you asked and it was given.  I had heard of people who don’t give out their recipes, but I think I didn’t really believe these people existed – like, that was just in sitcoms or something!  I mean, what’s the big deal, right? 

Okay, for the sake of argument, I can see if you are some famous chef with a restaurant and your livelihood depends on people paying to come eat your meals that you have painstakingly created, maybe you shouldn’t give out your recipes.  Although there will always be people like me who’d rather pay to eat in your restaurant than cook it myself.  Not to mention some people can’t cook worth a crap (see: me) so they wouldn’t be able to make it good anyhow…

I have to admit (see above) I can’t cook.  I can bake; in fact I am pretty darn good at it.  I make great cookies and pretty good other dessert-y stuff.  I can even do really well at some breakfast stuff like pancakes and french toast, because that’s actually more like baking.  But I can’t make a meal decently.  My idea of a good home cooked meal for my family is grilled cheese sandwiches with tomato soup, or maybe spaghetti with jar sauce.  Yeah, I’m lame. And I’m okay with that.  Actually, my piece de resistance is “Dinner in a Pumpkin” and it’s that time of year, isn’t it?!  Anyway, even though baking is my “thing” I will share any cookie recipe you ask me for, and I will even give you hints or suggestions that have helped me make that recipe better.  I have a friend who is a fabulous chef, who is from another country.  If you ask her for a recipe, she will not only agree to share, but she’ll invite you over to eat so she can show you exactly how to prepare that particular dish! 

So, fast forward to today.  We had a big extended-family get together, and it turns out that one of my relatives (married into the family, not born into) refuses to share recipes.  With anyone.  Not even family.  Not even with her mother-in-law, who is a pretty good cook and is apparently pretty annoyed with the situation!  I asked her to explain her reasons, because I seriously can’t understand why you wouldn’t share.  Basically she said because they are her recipes, (like they got passed down from her grandma, I guess not out of a cookbook, altho I am guessing granny got them out of a cookbook at some point… she admitted she doesn’t really know.  I mean, reeeeally)  and she doesn’t want anyone else to be able to make her special stuff. Because then she wouldn’t be the one making the special stuff. Or, because they’d make it wrong then feed it to her when she came over and she’d be disappointed in it.  Something like that.  Honestly, it just sounded really – selfish.  Or, as another family member put it –  “Geez, you’re like a little kid sitting in a corner with all your toys hidden behind you, who wants to play with the other kids’ toys but just yells “MINE” when anyone wants to play with yours.”  Lol.  Exactly!

So, what about you?  Do you share, or not?  If not, why not?  Can you give me a better reason than selfishness?

(I stole this pic off the internet.  I give credit to – whomever credit is due.  Thank you.)

On further introspection, I guess I just need “sister issue” therapy.

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So, I guess I just have issues with my sister.  And I have no idea how to deal with her it. Honestly, she is a good person, and I know she loves me. I love her.  And it would really grieve her if she knew how upset I am with her.  Obviously, it’s not just the weight-loss group thing; I think it’s years of pent-up irritation.  I don’t want to sit here and list everything I am angry about – I really don’t want to rip into her like that.  She can just tend to be really self-centered and self-absorbed.  Now, that’s not just this sister in me talking… my husband will complain about her for those exact reasons.  She’s the kind of person, who, if a homeless woman was talking to her about how hard it is to be destitute, and how she is tired of living in a shelter, and can’t buy shoes for her child, my sister would say “Oh, I know exactly how you feel!  Once, we were so poor, I couldn’ t buy lattes for an entire year!” So. Not. Kidding.  I don’t think she is trying to be a jerk – I think, somehow, in her mind, she is trying to empathize.  But, sometimes I feel like maybe she really does think her life is just as hard as anyones… which, okay, we all have our burdens to bear, but I don’t think hers have been all that horrid.  The rub is that if I brought it up to her, she would be all upset and not believe it. Do you know, she once said, in so many words, that she knew exactly how I felt about my husband’s affair, because her husband is kind of a workaholic, therefore his “other woman” is his job, and actually, my husband’s affair “only” lasted 2 years, and her husband has been giving his all at work for much longer than that – forgive me for saying so, but I do NOT think that is comparable!! 

So this is just me, venting.  Because it is so much better if I let off some steam here rather than hissing at my sister.  I just try to let it go… but maybe after all these years the ‘stuffing place’ is full up!  I can’t change her; I guess I need to find out a better way to get over it.  HI HO hi ho back to therapy I go…

Help! I need a couple years therapy, and I need to be done tomorrow.

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Sibling rivalry.  Why is it still happening when you are supposed “grown-ups”?  My sister is making me crazy.  Well, crazi-er

If you’ve read my blog for awhile, you know I have a weight problem.  Yeah.  I try not to make my blog about that, but it comes up.  I mean, unfortunately, it’s a big part of my life.  A “big” part… get it?  Hahaha… okay, it’s late.  Gimme a break.

I have a sister who is a couple years older than me.  (I had another sister, a younger one… she passed away a few years back.  I miss her soooo bad.)  So this is probably wrong, but one thing I miss about her is that she was there to complain to about my other sister.  If that makes sense. Well, my “big” sister is driving me nuts.  Part of the problem is that we live in the same town and go to the same church, so we have sort of the same circle of friends. This is not a good thing.  I really, really need a new group.

Anyway, a few months back, a couple friends of mine (of ours) started a sort of “weight loss Bible study”.   Most of us in this group have a weight problem… except my sister.  Who is skinny.  Seriously – I think she wears a size 2.  She’s sick.  Or makes me sick… Anyway… I really don’t know why she is in this study, except that she probably doesn’t want me to be getting closer to these friends than she is.  I wish I was making this up!  I mean, I don’t think she consciously thinks of this stuff, but she simply has to be involved in everything.  It’s ridiculous. Every week it gets worse… that is, I get crankier and crankier with the stuff she says and just the fact of her being there… in my weight loss group.  In her size 2 pants.  And being cranky is what a Bible study is all about, right?  So then I have to feel guilty about my attitude…

This week she decided to show us how to make her kind of food… she is on this “all raw” “vegan” diet… yeah.  Whatever.  Poor thing just has such a food problem, yeah?!

I just want to figure out how to get through a day without eating a dozen cookies or a pint of Ben and Jerrys.

She does NOT get it.  And I can’t figure out how to explain it to her.

Getting ready for a pirate (of the Caribbean) party! Awesome pirate flag/jolly roger cake

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Kiki’s birthday is Sunday, and since her current obsession is Pirates of the Caribbean (or, more specifically, Jack Sparrow and Will Turner!) that is her party theme.

I really needed to not spend as much money on her party as I have in the past, (I tend to go a little crazy) so we scoured thrift stores and discount places for the things we needed… and did we luck out!  We found all kinds of stuff that looks like treasure and other piratey things.  Then we happened to have some other stuff in the storage unit (like dress-up jewelry) that we were actually able to find…  I am going to make a pirate sail, – a Black Pearl sail, of course!  – and if you can believe it, I actually found a black sheet at the thrift store!  How likely is that to happen??

So, the table is set…

(ignore the rubber bands on the top of the candleabra… I’m trying to ‘tweak’ it a bit…)

Then there is the cake.  It rocks!!  I did an amazing job, if I do say so myself. 🙂

I went the lazy route and used a (modified) cake mix, so of course it wanted to fall apart… unlike a good scratch-made cake… oh well. It worked.

Here was my inspiration ~

So I covered the cake first with buttercream icing:

Then fondant ~

added the details ~

put silver lustre dust on the coins ~

Pretty awesome, huh??!

My 50th birthday ~ it was actually a pretty good day

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First off, I think birthdays should always be on Sunday.  I mean, pretty much everyone has that day off… I know, not everyone, but most folks in my circle, anyway.  The day started off with church, which is always a good way to start.  The service we go to isn’t super early, so I don’t mind – too terribly – getting out of bed.  I also have a big group of my ‘peeps’ to sit with, so even on days like yesterday when Alan is in the coffeebar and therefore goes to early service instead, I don’t have to sit alone.  Not that I’d hate that, I’m a big girl and sit by myself just fine… but it’s more fun to sit with my friends.

After church we went boating with some other friends.  We went to a small reservoir nestled in the sagebrush covered hills of southern Idaho.  You drive up Freeze Out Hill then past Frozen Dog Road – I’m so not making this up!!  Funny stuff, this place I live in. The hills are dry and the grass is brown, so they look like beige velvet.  The sky was as blue as you can imagine, with huge puffy white clouds piled up over the Boise Mountain range in the distance.  It just so darn beautiful here! I was careful to wear sunscreen as that stupid medicine is still in my body messing things up, one of which is causing me to burn easily. The kids all got to try waterskiing and tubing and had an absolute blast.  (I used to adore waterskiing, but it’s been over 20 years and 100 pounds ago – I was afraid I’d hurt something if I tried it!)  Maybe next summer….  I’m irritated because I forgot to take my camera!  I did find one pic online that sort of gives an idea of the area we were in, but doesn’t really do it justice –

Anyway, we had a fabulous time!  We had to rush home from there (about a 45 min. drive, thru the town we used to live in, which made me really miss it!) take about 15 minutes to change clothes, try to do something with our hair to not look all wind-tousled, then head over to my sister’s for my birthday party.  It was actually more of a tea than a party… that just sounded nicer to me!  My sister has a real talent for design and decorating, so it looked amazing.  We had lots of goodies and jabbering… how can you beat that??

So, all in all, since I had no real choice in the matter of turning 50, it was still a good day when all was said and done.  I guess I can continue to push forward, one day at a time.

Musings and mutterings… and fry sauce

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Having spent so much time sick and laying around, I’ve had a lot of time to think.  This isn’t always a good thing, depending on what sort of direction my thoughts take.  But I’ve had good and bad.  I’ve been thinking how weird it is that I am at the same time happy and content and yet depressed and stressed.  Okay, I’m not really depressed – been there, done that – this is more, uhm, feeling blue I guess.  A little down. 

Part of it is probably being sick.  It’s been more than a month and I am still just utterly exhausted.  I don’t feel up to doing much of anything (and haven’t been doing, at all). I did strip the paint off of a vintage vanity I am going to repaint and sell… but now it’s just sitting there… waiting…      Mostly I’ve been reading.  I am reading the “Number 1 Ladies Detective Agency” series.  I love them; light reading, fun, and gives a little insight to life in another country.  I feel guilty, though, since my parents are 80 now and do so much more than I do – especially my mom, who is like the energizer bunny.  My sister and I inherited absolutely NONE of that trait from her – how is that possible??

This week Kiki has been in theatre camp.  She got a pretty big part (the Wicked Witch; they are doing Wizard of Oz) and last night was the first show.  I was really proud of her, as she remembered all her lines and was one of the few who I thought really “acted” as opposed to just saying their lines… she was good!  The only part she needs to do better is her one solo song – she sings beautifully, but waaaay too quietly for “theater”….  couldn’t hardly hear her.  She has two more shows today; we will see if she can pull off a bit more volume.  In dress rehearsal, Dorothy hit her in the forehead with the heavy wooden bucket while she was pretending to douse her with water, so she has a big ol’ lump on her forehead.  At last night’s performance (not yet knowing about the bucket incident) I thought they’d given her a “wart” on her forehead, lol!  Kiki was not amused.  She’s pretty nervous today even though last night went so well.

I think – okay, I know – I am really stressed about my life.  We have now lived with my parents for a year.  (we had figured 3 months, 6 months tops) That is insanity waiting to happen, don’t you think?! I NEED my own home, and now. Yet I don’t see that happening for… ikes, I don’t know.  As I am tottering on the brink of becoming 50 years old, I wonder if I have ever accomplished anything in this life that counts. 

It seems strange to be on both sides of the fence at the same time…. how is that even possible?  Happy and sad?  Fine yet completely discontent?  Maybe I am just coming unhinged and don’t know if I’m coming or going… that is totally possible.

Then there is the weight loss.  I have now lost 50 pounds.  You’d think that’d be a good thing, and it is.  Yet, when you have as much to lose as I do, it’s a drop in the bucket… I mean, to lose that much poundage and still be obese is just wrong, y’ know?  I feel great that I’ve lost all that weight, yet I look at myself and think “crud….still fat”.  I am not exaggerating… I still can’t buy clothes in the regular section of a store – yesterday found me at Lane Bryant once again.  There is a list of reasons I hate having to shop there; not the least of which is that it is too freakin’ expensive.  A regular old shirt is like $50.!  Stupid. I bought 2 things off the super-marked-down rack, and only because I was told I have to wear nicer tops to work… boss doesn’t like my t-shirts, I guess.  Sheesh.  It’s hard to find fat-lady clothes that don’t scream “look at me, I’m fat”… “and old”.   In my opinion.  I have to keep telling myself “I am 1/3 of the way there”… and when I put on last summer’s shorts and they practically fell off… well, that was a happy moment!

I wish at some point in my life I had done something…. big.  Run off to Paris.  Had a wild fling.  Joined the foreign legion.  I don’t know.  Something… interesting.  I’m too much of a goody-goody girl.  It’s buried so deep in my DNA that I will probably never do anything like that.

Fry sauce.  I love fry sauce.  I’d nearly forgotten, being over in Virginia where they’ve never heard of it.  Then being on a diet where french fries are kind of a thing of the past.  But!  Yesterday after the play, Kiki wanted a milkshake.  We drove thru a little local joint we’d never been to before (the theater is on the opposite end of town from where we normally are) and not only did we get milkshakes (hers, Oreo; mine, chocolate-peanut butter; YUM!) but we decided we’d also share some fries, and the girl asked if we wanted fry sauce – heck yeah!!  SO-STINKIN’-GOOD!!  happy happy happy

Recipe ~ Upside-down German Chocolate Cake

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This recipe is from the 2002 Taste of Home Annual Recipe book.  It was super easy to make, and my husband said it is the only way he ever wants me to make German Chocolate cake again – it was that good!  (he also said to be sure I ‘accidentally’ rip off the outer edge then glue it back on with chocolate frosting, lol!)

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1/4 cup butter

2/3 cup pecan halves (I used a little more than this)

2/3 cup flaked coconut

1/4 cup evaporated milk

CAKE:

1/3 cup butter

1 cup sugar

1 package (4 oz.) German sweet chocolate, melted

2 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1&1/2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

3/4 cup buttermilk

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In a saucepan over low heat, cook and stir brown sugar and butter until sugar is dissolved and butter is melted.  Spread into a greased 9-inch square baking pan.  Sprinkle with pecans and coconut.  Drizzle with evaporated milk; set aside.

In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Beat in chocolate, eggs and vanilla.  Combine dry ingredients; add to creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk.  Pour over topping in pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near center comes out clean.  Cool 5 minutes before (loosening cake from pan edges and!!) inverting onto a serving plate.  Serve with vanilla ice cream.

So!  There it is.  Super easy, super yummy.  Make it and enjoy!

Birthdays, Cake pops, and how to make a square cake look round without even trying

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Tomorrow we are celebrating both my husband’s and my dad’s birthdays (they are just one day apart).  My husband is a cake lover extraodinaire.   Kiki and I share this love, although certainly not to the same extent!

My extended family doesn’t like cake.  Freaks.  So… they can eat flowers out of the garden – just leaves more cake for us, eh? I think my sis is bringing a pie or something… whatev.

So I made German Chocolate Cake, which is the cake lover’s #1 Cake of choice.  My mom had this recipe for “Upside Down German Chocolate Cake”, and it sounded easy as well as yummy.  Okay, it sounded wierd, because all I could think of was that upside down pineapple cake thingie which I think is hideous but this is nothing like that….  I thought Alan wouldn’t go for it since he’s all about the gooey coconut/pecan frosting, but he said it sounded good so Yay!  Because it was pretty easy, and none of that whole cooking the frosting bit, and the cake layers sliding off… yeah, except I am kinda brain-dead today, so when it was time to turn the cake upside down I forgot to  loosen the edges, so the entire outer edge of the cake stayed behind in the pan.  Juh-eeeeze, right?

Yeah.  So, I “fixed” it.  Uh-huh.  That’s what I did.  I stuck all those outside edges on it and glued it together with some icing glaze.  My husband, ever so gracious (okay, usually not, but I guess since I was making him cake he was feeling nicer than usual) and he said it looked amazing – like an old-fashioned donut, lol!  Also, he got to eat some of the scraps and he said it tastes fantastic, so there.  The weirdest thing is that the cake was baked in a 9in. square, and now it’s round.  Go figure.

Then there’s the cake pops.  He’s been jonesing for some of these ever since my sister made them for my nephew’s graduation party… so I made him some of these as well.  I only used half the frosting it called for because the ones I’ve tasted before are almost too sweet and too gooey.  They came out really good… at least he says so!  I made them with Red Velvet cake, ’cause that’s his next favorite.

I just used a cake mix, because really, you’re gonna mush it up so what the heck, right?  So you crumble it all into a bowl…

…stir in some icing….

melt some of those candy coating things…

And there ya go!  Yummy!!

I hope tomorrow will be a good birthday!