A life where arts & crafts meets food & fitness


Thursday, December 30, 2010

No dough

Well no dough for now since I didn't set up enough time for it to rise. (More dough of the other kind is always a good thing.)

I have a bad habit for bread. I decide I want to make bread but then forget that it needs to rise. True I can still make it now but fresh bread earlier in the day is always a great thing. Plus it makes the house smell so good.

I have make breakfast breads and egg twist (or egg braid if you prefer) before and both turned out well. There is a recipe in The Blue Ribbon Country Cook Book that I want to try for white bread. I have had homemade white bread before (my gram makes really good bread) and am hoping it turns out well when I actually make it.

Worst case, I'll have homemade croutons.

Do you have any bread success or horror stories?

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

2011 resolutions

I am hit or miss with New Years resolutions. I can honestly say that I forgot most of the ones I set up for this current year. In a way they were engulfed by the goal to be healthier, happier, and more active in the sense of trying new things rather than actually moving around.

This year having them set in print, or pixels rather, I have a way to look back at them for reference.

  • Try a new recipe at least twice a month. It can be a version of something that I have made before but that exact recipe must be a new one.

  • Yoga/stretch daily. I am usually quite good with this but making a conscious effort to totally relax even for 20 minutes is a smart idea.

  • Catch up with friends on a more frequent basis. I have friends from school (grade school through college) that I talk to via email every few months. I may not talk to them on a regular basis but it is always nice to see how they are doing.

  • Sleep and don't skimp on it when times get busy. The one more hour of whatever always catches up on me when I don't stick to a semi regular sleep pattern. This year I have gotten better. Next year I want this to continue improving.

  • Find a running routine and stick to it as best as possible. I am not saying a specific since I don't know how spring will be right now. Having even a small goal to say run 5 miles every week and a half is a good start. Later I may laugh at that and run 5 miles minimum a week.

  • Don't forget the little stuff for myself. I too often forget the little things like painting my fingernails something other than clear polish. (Toes are usually a color even during winter since I hate unpolished toenails.) I have bottle and bottles and I deserve little things to make me smile even on the days I feel like a frump for whatever silly reason.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Run remix

Since the uber (yes I just said uber) surprise this Christmas, I have been kicking my playlist building in high gear. I have two text files of songs that catch my attention on Pandora. I haven't figured out exactly how many but there are a lot. It is pretty eclectic too. Safe to say I am going to make category versions since they are all over the place.

Here are a few copy/pasted for reference purposes.

running down a dream - tom petty
paper planes - m.i.a.
wave of mutitlation - the pixies
girls just want to have fun - miley cyrus
party in the usa - miley cyrus
gold guns girls - metric
sexy bitch - david guetta
shove it - santigold
one hot coma - paris, texas
I can dream about you - dan hartman
i want to know what love is - foreigner
while you see a chance - steve winwood
something about you - level 42
cry me a river - michael buble
mary janes last dance - tom petty & the heartbreakers
strawberry swing - coldplay
More than a feeling - Boston
Satisfaction - Rolling Stones
I want it all - Queen
Sweet Child of Mine - G & R
strangelove - depeche mode
voices carry - til tuesday
Once in a lifetime - talking heads
Walk through the world - mark cohn
drive - the cars
against all odds - phil collins

When I have the all set and labeled with silly names I will post them periodically. I say silly names because I can't just call something "car mix 1" or "running mix 4". They end up "Breck trip ride roadmix" or "neon laces in my running shoes."

This is all coming from the gal who named her ipod after the cat in Hocus Pocus. Sadly I may need to get a new one since the old thing won't hold a charge the normal amount of time. It is from '04 though so I think it had a good run.

Do you have a crazy mix that you run to/workout to or is it more of one style?

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Snow day

It is snowing again. I like snow but not driving in it. True, living in the Chicago area my entire life I should be used to it but I am still not a fan of it. The good thing though is since we had Christmas Eve at our house this year, the front walk and sidewalk were shoveled and salted. This will definitely help later with shoveling.

I am not surprised though that it is snowing today is it is one of our friend's birthdays tomorrow. We are all going out to celebrate tonight. Last year it seriously snowed. It probably did the year before. Winter birthday's always equal major carpooling to avoid parking problems and whatnot.

My exciting plan for today pre-party is a mix of laundry, snacking on leftovers from yesterday/Friday including cookies that my mom made - the already mentioned kolackys, pecan snowballs and chcochip cookie bar, misc crackers, veggies, and ham, catching up on some TV watching, and reading one of my new cookbooks.

My family has always believed in hints for gift shopping. It is not necessarily exactly what you want, though it can be at times, but ideas for shopping. My uncle had no ideas for me and so I gave him a few cookbook ideas. He was able to find one on the list - Small Batch Baking - which I have wanted for a long time. Hubs isn't a huge sweets person and while I do have a sweet tooth, I can't eat an entire batch/cake whatnot by myself without getting sick of it. I hate when home baked stuff goes stale too and I too often forget to freeze things. This book will fix all of that and of course, if I need more of something for whatever reason I just make more than one.

The other cookbook is Blue Ribbon Country Cookbook. I have never heard of it nor did my uncle but we both agreed it looked good. It is a mix of recipes and techniques which makes me happy. I'll be parking myself with it on the couch later with a cup of tea next to me and a dog sleeping on my feet. I love reading cookbooks as much as novels. It is easy to imagine making it as I read them.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

That Christmas Eve when they all ganged up on me

I mean it in a good way of course.

First present was from my BiL:

Woohoo! No longer will I need to run with the bottle + carbinger + keyring + cellphone combo. (Yes, it is as awkward as it sounds.)

Then my in-laws gave me this:

SWEET! New reading material + tips/tricks/whatnot.

But there was more to the book than just the book. It was what was IN the book too:


My MiL wasn't sure the best options/sizes/whatnot and so, after talking to Hubs, decided this was the best way. Plus, a lunch out w my MiL is always fun especially since we get along extremely well.

I was super happy especially since this was something that took thought. Easy presents are fun too but taking a bit more time to make it a themed idea I love even more.

After all my inlaws left (including aunts, cousins, second cousins incl the 3 month old little girl who stole everyone's attention for a good part of the night), Hubs brought in my gift which my MiL was keeping safe.

I unwrapped the box and shrieked.

Hubs had heard me talk about them before. When the Amazon sale was tweeted about a ways back (wanna say Emily @ The Daily Garnish started it but not sure - she replied to one I sent her) I was bopping about the house talking about what a great deal was going on.

Safe to say, that is when the plan started. It was a good plan.

A very good plan.

Hubs did well though - NHL11 for Xbox360, a wool sweater, & Death Troopers (Star Wars + zombies book.) Plus multiuser setting for the 305 means he can use it too. My inlaws loved their presents. My family loved their presents and we got some great stuff from them too.

Overall though it is not the stuff you get but the time you get to spend with family. Both going well is just an extra bonus.

Now you must excuse me, my mom's homemade kolaczkys are calling me from the pantry.

Merry Merry

Thursday, December 23, 2010

All I Want from the radio is some Christmas music

Mariah Carey is on the radio - All I Want for Christmas is You to be exact. I'm dancing about here, swinging my hips, lip synching along, and arms flailing about (when not typing of course). Thing is, I generally can't stand The Lady of Multiple Octaves. She bugs me, not as bad as Rush ::shudder::, but she still bugs me. Then the Christmas season starts and I'm bopping along to her music. Funny how the holidays can do that to you.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Put down the knitting needles lady! You need a break!

The holiday knitting is done. If you are not a knitter, think of it as needing to bake, decorate, and package no less than six dozen cookies in a short amount of time. Oh and they all all cut out with a cookie cutter and frosted with homemade frosting, colored sugar, and various little add ons. Hubs and I always have the same conversation with my holiday knitting. I keep saying that I need to finish this and he says all I am talking about is finishing it. Yup. It makes sense to me but that's because I am a knitter.

We are having Christmas Eve at our place this year as a potluck. We've done some clean up and whatnot around the house but I know there will be much more. There is a spot cleared out and designated as the ham spot in the fridge. I have several boxes of cake mix and some of that spray frosting in the pantry. (Seriously spray frosting is crazy good - not as good as homemade but the fun factor of it being in the same state as spray cheese makes it amusing.)

The pups are getting a bath today. They will not be happy. Carrying one of the plastic mixing bowls w the handle upstairs is the cue for them to go into no-way mode. We are able to get them upstairs and into the shower but they don't go willing. Yes, we put them in the shower and turn it on for Cosmo. Molly is a mix of that + bowlfuls. They will willingly stand outside in the rain so this is basically the same thing. Plus all we have is the shower now. They have gotten baths outside when it is warm but that stressed Molly even more so we don't do that anymore.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Meow, NOM, Meow

Hubs bought a tree skirt this year. We didn't have one in the past and had used a red plastic tablecloth from the dollar store last year. It worked but the cats were quite interested in it.

Sadly, they are much more interested in the tree skirt. Bond is especially fascinated in it.

Seriously Mom! I was having fun. Why are you bothering me with that flashy box thing???

In between resituating the tree skirt and misc other stuff around the house, I noticed the bananas in our hanger were getting spotted. I am not a fan of sweet sweet bananas. RIGHT when they start turning yellow works the best for me. Dalmatian bananas mean it's time to bake.

I wanted an easy banana bread recipe that I hadn't tried before and one that included ingredients that I had in the house. I did a search for banana bread + easy + blog and ended up with a few options. The one I settled on was this one from Simply recipes that had been mentioned as a crowd winner. Perfect.

It was.

It browned on the edges but since it didn't include brown sugar it really didn't burn. It was moist, banana-y, and springy. I've made banana bread before that is more bread-like. This one was more cake-like texture wise. I will definitely be making it again. Next time I am contemplating cinnamon or a walnut crumble on top.

I'm comfy. Mommmmm just go back to eating that good smelling stuff you made on the oven this weekend yet won't let me have.

I've just given up for now and let him play in it. When he's done rolling around in it, it goes back on the bottom of the tree. He's not chewing on it. Nor is Frankie. So for now that is fine.

If they start, I'm getting the duct tape and taping the skirt to the tree.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Lost in Fiberland

Well, not really lost, more like dancing about happily but clearly not in foodland.

Oh wait, did you think I meant fiber as in the kind that is found in food? I meant fiber as in two regular skeins and one double skeins of sport weight yarn.

Before I was hunting down recipes online, I was searching for knitting patterns. I've been knitting for a good number of years now and I love making things for people. To be completely honest, I think I have knitted more for other people than I have for myself. Lately Hubs has been taking over most of the cooking since I have been knitting up a storm when I can find any extra time.

If I was an extremely fast knitter, there'd be a bunch of scarves wrapped around tins of cookies for Christmas gifts this year. Someday this will be a plan especially since I know a lot of people who would love this. It's personal and useful at the same time.

Ok, back to the knitting. There is a pair of 10 1/2 straights and orange yarn calling my name.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Blog-mas: Day 12

On the twelfth day of Blog-mas
My true love gave to me
Twelve cameras snapping
Eleven hoopers hooping
Ten pies a baking
Nine dancers zumba-ing
Eight runners a pacing
Seven blenders a blending
Six mixers a mixing
Five jars of nut butter
Four race bibs
Three new blends
Two bowls of oatmeal
And a smoothie that is very very green.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Cookie weekend

A few years ago Hubs and some of the guys went to a Bears game in Detroit. (If you are a Bears fan and do not want to spend a fortune on decent seats, this is a good deal. If you have a friend who lives in the 'burbs of Detroit, it's a even better deal.) With the guys out of town, the Annual Cookie Party was born. It's a mix of ladies night, movie night, and an excuse to bake and eat cookies until the sugar makes your teeth hurt. It has since evolved from a dozen cookies per person to a half dozen to bring something to share. Believe me, the evolution is good. No sugar coma and yet a successful night.

Yesterday was this year's cookie party. I brought out my default always amazing cookie recipe from Hershey's Cocoa: Easy Baking. It is a book I found years ago and I absolutely love it. The recipes are easy but everything I've made so far have been a hit. Plus is is one of those books with the cardboard pages like a little kids book so I can wipe it clean if I spill something on it. Now that I have ever spilled a single thing on it. It's more like multiple things.

I call them my double fudge cookies because I add extra cocoa powder. The batter ends up looking and tasting like brownie batter.

I think they look like brownie cookies as well.

Still warm quality control testing.

This batch ended up being topped with melted chocochips and the sugar snowflakes. The second were plain and a bit flatter since I melted the margarine more so. The batter ends up a little mushier when that happens but they still taste amazing.

This morning we woke up to snow. The animals always go wacky when it snows. The cats get super lazy in Bond's case or super snuggly in Frankie's case. Bond napped upstairs most of the day. Frankie tried to either sit on my lap or glared at me as I knitted. (He gets annoyed that the knitting is where he wants to nap.)

The dogs wanted to play outside in the snow. They did and then they wanted to play more inside.

Tug of war w Hubs.

The baby gate at the patio door is our attempt to not have the dogs run through the screen door. Cosmo has done it once already. The squirrels sit on the fence and taunt them.

Cosmo is worn out.

Molly wasn't and wanted to go outside and run around more.

Food wise, today was another slow cooker Sunday. With it being so cold lately, I've been wanting soup. I tried a new version of chicken soup today. I included rosemary and thyme as the base rather than basil and oregano. I had to tinker with it a bit since it went a bit mellow. A few dashes of black pepper and some crushed bay leaves later, it is working out well.

Blog-mas: Day 11

On the eleventh day of Blog-mas
My true love gave to me
Eleven hoopers hooping
Ten pies a baking
Nine dancers zumba-ing
Eight runners a pacing
Seven blenders a blending
Six mixers a mixing
Five jars of nut butter
Four race bibs
Three new blends
Two bowls of oatmeal
A smoothie that is very very green.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Blog-mas: Day 10

On the tenth day of Blog-mas
My true love gave to me
Ten pies a baking
Nine dancers zumba-ing
Eight runners a pacing
Seven blenders a blending
Six mixers a mixing
Five jars of nut butter
Four race bibs
Three new blends
Two bowls of oatmeal
A smoothie that is very very green.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Blog-mas: Day 9

On the ninth day of Blog-mas
My true love gave to me
Nine dancers zumba-ing
Eight runners a pacing
Seven blenders a blending
Six mixers a mixing
Five jars of nut butter
Four race bibs
Three new blends
Two bowls of oatmeal
A smoothie that is very very green.

Things that make you go grrrr

I'm a chatty person. I have always been. The parent/teacher conferences for years always included some form of "excellent student but she talks a bit too much at times." Sometimes I don't make sense. Sometimes I ramble. Sometimes I just start small talk with random people in public situations.

I've ridden public transportation as long as I can remember. The bus steps used to be HUGE to me. I understand that traffic gets messed up the first major snow of the season even though this is the Midwest and snow is no new thing. I understand there are traffic jams due to accidents, power outages, construction and people who generally do not know the basic rules of the road. (My favorite bumper sticker ever is one that says "If I can't trust you to use your turn signal, how can I trust you to use the rest of your car.") I understand that schedules change. I'm just not going to be happy especially this time.

::pauses to take pizza flier away from the orange meowing rubber band chewer::

I am glad that I have started/joined in random waiting-for-the-bus small talk. One of my bus friends today (or "the bus people" as Hubs calls them) let me know of the schedule change that starts Monday.


I had no idea.

If I hadn't seen her and she hadn't showed me the notice that she was given YESTERDAY, I would have been standing there in the snow Monday morning thinking the bus was late. Nope. New time. I check occasionally but usually when there is a major change there are notices out for quite a while. I must have missed them if they were because I only recall one with a different number. My guess it was not part of that header and therefore I didn't pay attention. Not my bus equals a quick glance then back to my book.

The thing that really frustrates me is that the evening buses are shifted to where I either have no chance to make one bus or have to wait a good chunk of time to catch the next. I have a long commute and have gotten used to the long commute. It doesn't bug me anymore for the most part. I talk to my bus friends. I read. I knit. I play too much of that Bubble Breaker in Megashift mode on my cell phone. I just wasn't ready for an even longer one.

While it is frustrating, I know it is not the end of the world. There are much worse things going on in the world than a bus schedule changing. We have just dealt with a lot this year and got through it all so now it's like the last bwahahahaha of the year. I do have another option to take a train and luckily I can walk the added distance to get there.

For this weekend, there will be some added yoga and I know I'll be finishing the rest of the box of Zen tea.

::ends venting::

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Blog-mas: Day 8

On the eighth day of Blog-mas
My true love gave to me
Eight runners a pacing
Seven blenders a blending
Six mixers a mixing
Five jars of nut butter
Four race bibs
Three new blends
Two bowls of oatmeal
A smoothie that is very very green.

Hey runner, you're a STAR!

The video from The Hot Chocolate 5k/15k is up today. Of course being part of the 5k meant I was excited to see it.

After seeing this however, I started squeaking.

I'm in the pink hat. Stina is in the gray jacket/black headband next to me. Sarah is with us there too. (She is blog-less.)

You can see the few seconds of us go "WOOHOO": we appear about 56 seconds in.

BEP's I Got A Feeling was actually playing as we crossed the starting line so having it be there at the part when we appear makes the song even cooler now. True, I liked it before. (The CD is sitting if five feet from me right now.) Now it means even more.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Frosting on the cookie

I have limited experience making cookie frosting. I can only recall one year I made elves (My mom still has the cookie cutter.) for Christmas. There is a Polaroid picture somewhere of me grinning and holding the plate of decorated cookies with a big grin on my face. I even dyed the dough with food coloring so there were REALLY red ones and REALLY green ones.

I need to find the photo and scan is mostly due to the title of the picture. Scrawled in my kid handwriting is something along the lines of The Evil Cookies. Since they were evil we didn't eat them. Actually, it wasn't due to their moral standing it was due to the shortening being expired. OOPS! and GROSS! at the same time.

I don't even remember why I didn't check the date since it was so long ago but every time I see a larger tub of shortening it makes me think of that plate of cookies, especially around Christmas.

Blog-mas: Day 7

On the seventh day of Blog-mas
My true love gave to me
Seven blenders a blending
Six mixers a mixing
Five jars of nut butter
Four race bibs
Three new blends
Two bowls of oatmeal
A smoothie that is very very green.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Blog-mas: Day 6

On the sixth day of Blog-mas
My true love gave to me
Six mixers a mixing
Five jars of nut butter
Four race bibs
Three new blends
Two bowls of oatmeal
A smoothie that is very very green.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Nine as in the temperature, not just a number

This morning it was nine degrees out. True, being December Decembrrrrr it shouldn't be that shocking but with it being hoodie only weather not that long ago, it was a bit of a shock to the system. My eyes feel like when someone turns on the overhead light after you have been in bed awhile. The AHHHH! bright light! bright light! a la Gizmo which I honestly do from time to time.

Cold weather instantly means I start thinking soup. I am unsure if it will be a 12 bean, a chicken veggie noodle, or a potato based one but there is a crockpot plan set for the near future.

The near near future though is the annual cookie party. It's a ladies night of food, wine, and chick flicks.

Does anyone else have a holiday related get together tradition?

Blog-mas: day 5

On the fifth day of Blog-mas
My true love gave to me
Five jars of nut butter
Four race bibs
Three new blends
Two bowls of oatmeal
A smoothie that is very very green.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Mews News

I had planned to write about a cookie recipe I tried today. Thing is though, there are no cookies. Not even is there dough chilling in the fridge for later. Nothing.

I had meant to bake. I seriously did but needed ginger. This lead to going shopping w The BFF but I went to pick her up. It all went downhill from there especially since last week I found out she had mews.

No not news, mews.

2 1/2 week old mews to be exact.

These little cuties are currently being called Tinsel and Garland. I like naming pets people names that seem fitting. The calico also meows like a grumpy old lady. Therefore she needs some sort of old fashioned name that can be shortened to a cute nickname.

Sadly, they aren't mine to name. I've been teasing Hubs that Frankie and Bond need a sister. I know that right now time, money and destruction wise, there is very little chance we'd get a new kitten. (I'd take Garland in a heartbeat if I could.) The destruction part being including is a result of my jokingly asking Hubs about us getting a new cat and then Frankie proceeding to start chewing on the faux fur fuzz on my coat. Yelling "Stop eating my coat!" doesn't help prove a point.

They both will find homes since The BFF has fostered probably over 100 animals the past ten years. She is amazing for doing it. We wouldn't have Frankie and Bond if it wasn't for her and her huge heart.

I'll get to the cookies later. Ity bity purring fuzzballs are more important. Plus I couldn't find ginger that wasn't under $3 for a tiny container.

Blog-mas: Day 4

On the fourth day of Blog-mas
My true love gave to me
Four race bibs
Three new blends
Two bowls of oatmeal
A smoothie that is very very green.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Blog-mas: Day 3

On the third day of Blog-mas
My true love gave to me
Three new blends
Two bowls of oatmeal
A smoothie that is very very green.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Blog-mas: Day 2

On the second day of Blog-mas
My true love gave to me
Two bowls of oatmeal
A smoothie that is very very green.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Back to green

Holiday season means rush rush RUSH! way too often. Find this or that or both though one is currently out of stock at this location so you need to go back in the car and go to the next closest. Repeat.

I know people who thrive off the rushing about. More power to you. I've been there. It was called college. Give me a can of Coke, some regular Twizzlers (great computer food since no crumbs!), remix music and I was off and coding. Computer coding that is, not flat lining. Hmmm Flatliners.... young Kiefer Sutherland.... I digress.

Too much rush mode would wear me out. I'd get then not sleep well which then leads to one of the best oxymorons in the world, being overtired. I'd take breaks and whatnot too but it didn't work all the time.

Fast forward ::cough:: years later, there are moments that the RUSH RUSH GOOOOO wants to rear it's ugly head. It gets kicked into submission. I am not saying to be lazy. No way. It is more so the remembering to take a deep breath or a moment to play with the cat/dog/all four for a minute or two.

If I don't and I'm cooking something will get burnt or spilled. My favorite is when cabinets decide to vomit their content on the floor. (Yes, Tupperware I'm talking to your section!)

The plan this year is to have Christmas Eve at our house. It will be a potluck which helps everyone. I am starting to think of ideas and whanot now. 23 days is a good number.

12 Days of Blog-mas

On the first day of Blog-mas
My true love gave to me
A smoothie that is very very green.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

So here's what I think about....review tba

Recently, I got an email about an opportunity to do product review for CSN Stores. I like reading other people reviews about items and especially if it becomes something someone ends up using quite often. This being the first review opp I thought to give it a shot. They are kindly giving me a $35 credit to pick out an item (super sweet!) of my choice. The thing is according to their site there are over 200 stores so I am going to have to set aside to really look at everything. It is everything from furniture like tv stands to fitness items like a foam roller (which I have read about so much lately w the running bloggers) to kitchen stuff (the owl on this makes me laugh.)

I saw The Sign

It's right here actually.

I think NKOTB is haunting me. First, the tour w Backstreet Boys gets announced. If there was money to waste, yes waste, on that I'd so be going. Then the mentioning of them with Erin. Today they literally appeared. Well not in person especially since if they have been sitting in a hatbox in my coat closet for over a year and not uttered a single "step by step", I'd be pretty upset.

I keep my yarn in the coat closet since that was the first place it was put when we moved into the house. Plus it is a pretty much cat proof resistant location when it is up on the shelf. I have other bags of it on the floor of the closet which is the main reason Frankie got yelled at numerous times this evening. I knew the yarn I was looking for was in that closet but with him trying to explore made it a bit harder to find it. All is well now and I'll be parking myself on the couch with a large cup of tea in a few moments.

One of the reasons I love knitting is that is is so relaxing when it is a simple pattern. I have collected numerous patterns and magazines (Mmmmm Vogue Knitting) over the years and someday I'll be adventerous and try something more intricate.

It's easy to compare knitting patterns to recipes too actually. You have your ingredients/yarn, utensils/needles, pattern/recipe, cooking time/WIP (work in process) to finished product timeline.

The thing to remember though is you can't survive on yarn alone.

Yes I know, shameless plug withing my OWN site but know you have part of the backstory to why the name is such.