Monday, October 31, 2011

Pumpkin Art Reruns

Jake's 2010 pumpkin

Calli's 2010 pumpkin

I had this idea that in the world of blogging that these women
who are crafty, fun, amazing and wonderful do it all!
Well, I'm setting the record strait right now.
They don't.
And I certainly don't!
In fact between speeches, Jake's film company filmings, the 80's party, sleepovers, shopping and preparing party food for 55 people, 
that I didn't take my kids to my favorite pumpkin patch 
or even the supermarket to pick out pumpkins.
Nope.
No creative carvings.
So I'm posting last years reruns.
It's all I've got folks.
I'm making my favorite chili today
(recipe later this week),
I'm going to go for a run.
I'm going to help my kids with their homework.
And when it's time for trick or treaters,
(which we don't get too many who are willing to endure the walk to the end of the street)
I'll light some candles on the porch next to the pretty uncarved pumpkins.
Pft!
That's all we've got.
Have fun and be safe everybody.

Friday, October 28, 2011

HEALTHY BROWNIES!!!!!


No flour.
No sugar.
No joking.
These are AWESOME!
I stumbles on this recipe when checking in on one of the blogs
that I follow, Fly Through Our Window.
I saw a picture of one of these suckers and
started salivating.
So I immediately collected the ingredients 
and got busy,
bringing that little picture to life.
I'm so excited to serve these to the family
knowing that they are pumped up with protein
and energy-
I might even eat one before my next run.
Well-maybe not.
Maybe AFTER! (big smile).

Here's what you need:


1 1/3 12oz jars of Creamy Almond Butter
1 C of Honey
2 Eggs
1/2 C of Cocoa Powder
1 tsp of Baking Soda
1/2 tsp Sea Salt (I actually used a little less because they aren't ground too fine yet)
1/2 of a 3/5 oz. Dark Chocolate Bar chopped

Preheat oven 350
Blend Almond Butter, Honey & Eggs in the standing mixer.


Then add all the other stuff but the chocolate bar.



Fold in the chopped chocolate.

I know this is blurry. I was so excited to try this that I rushed
the photography. I am so sorry.

Pour into a greased (I used coconut oil) 9 x 13 pan.


Bake 20 - 25 minutes.

It's so simple I've already memorized the recipe
and this is the first time I've made them.
I seriously just stumbled on the recipe and had to taste
this brownie that is stuffed with healthy goodness.
I confess, I'm actually making them now,
anticipating how good they will be
and the buzzer went off!
They look awesome!
I'll let you know.


Amazing!
I can't wait to bake these for my gluten free friends.
They will love me.
They are moist,
deep chocolaty rich,
and nutty.
I wondered if the almond butter flavor 
would come through 
and it does in a good
stick-to-your-ribs
kind of way.
It definitely requires a glass of 
ice cold coconut milk
(or whatever you drink).
I'm happy.
Thanks Fly Through Our Window for the great recipe!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

10 Things I'm Thankful for....

1) I'm thankful for my family. They love me. 

2) I'm thankful for waterproof mascara because I'm a crier. I cry when I'm happy and sad.
    Or when other people are happy or sad.

3) I'm thankful for music and dance. I love to dance!

4) I'm thankful for hot running water in my home. There are many other wonderful places   where this is not so. And clean drinking water too!

5) I'm thankful for pillows. A soft place to lay your head at night is a luxury as well.

6) I'm thankful for candle light. It's just magical sometimes.

7) I'm thankful for freedom. 

8) I'm thankful that I see, hear, speak, taste, walk, feel things, and remember things (most of the time.)  What miracles!

9) I'm thankful that God is so big.

10) I'm thankful that I'm me. It would be very stressful to be someone else. 












Wednesday, October 26, 2011

They're Creepy and They're Kooky...

Mysterious and spooky,
They're all together ooky
No, not the Adam's Family--
SPEECHES AND SPEECH TOURNAMENTS!
Eek!
Scary!
Aaaaaaaugh!!!!!
Why did I sign my kids up for speech tournaments?
My eyeballs are sore
from editing 
Their first tournament is in a week and a half.
Talk about terrifying levels of fear!



This is an excellent experience 
for them but for some reason
it's making me beyond
jittery.
However, in the process of this horror,
I'm finding that I'm learning a few things
and I thought it would be fun to 
pass on a few bits of trivia from
my children's speeches.
Did you know that one of the uses for duct tape
introduced in the Jumbo Book of Duct Tape
is teeth whitening?
They suggest that you stick white duct tape to your teeth.
Did you know that in 2003, 
three people lost their lives
following the US Department of Homeland Security's
suggestion to seal their doors and windows of their home
with
plastic wrap and duct tape to survive a 
chemical terrorist attack?
Hmmm.
Did you know that duct tape is a medically suggest remedy for 
removing warts?
Yes,
one of my amazing children is giving a speech on the
wonders of Duct Tape and yes there are many!
Storyboards are the other topic.
I don't have any humorous or even really weird bits of trivia
for storyboards,
only to say that they are really, super cool
and without them Hollywood would waste even more truckloads 
of money making movies.


One perk is that I will get to see my handsome
14 year old son dressed dapper
and deliciously handsome in his brand new suit.
Dress code standards are suit and tie.
Poor kid, but happy mom.
Here's a glimpse.



The other thing that I'm learning is that doing things
with your kids, whether cooking, playing Kinnect sports,
taking a walk,
or even writing a speech together,
is really special time.
Even though public speaking is most people's #1 top
most horrifying thing they could think of to do,
it is an invaluable skill
for living life.
I must say that the
time spent together writing,
memorizing, editing, polishing,
reviewing and practicing
together,
is very precious time
that I'm thankful to have with them.
I could write a speech about that.


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Coconut Oil






"I'm coo coo for CocoPuffs Coconuts!!!!"
Yes, I am aging myself with pop culture references
to my childhood breakfast cereal commercials.
I don't care. 
Hopefully my beauty regimen of using
Coconut Oil on my skin will prevent me from
looking as old as my references.
I LOOOOVE coconut oil.
I've been using it faithfully since 2007.
2007 is a super significant year
in our families life.
It is the year that the four of us had the joy
of living life completely different.
SomeLovelyExtravagantlyGenerousJesusLoverFriends
of ours sent us on a Youth With A Mission,
Discipleship Training School
experience
that included a three month training
in Kona, HI
followed by a two month outreach
to the pacific island of
Samoa.
I will post some highlights of that trip
later
because today's posting is about
Coconut Oil.
It was in Samoa that TrueLove and I
fell so deeply in love with the
virtuous 
Coconut which led to our fascination
with the oil.
I mentioned Samoa because it was an environment
very challenging to eating a super healthy diet.
We were on a team and a budget,
which resulted in meals
that could easily be
stretched to feed
24 people.
The Samoan diet was very heavy in carbohydrates,
taro, rice, banana, coco samoa and you can imagine
that staying trim would be a challenge. We were
often served spaghetti sandwiches made
with canned spaghetti.
In this environment, TrueLove ended up losing
about 15 pounds rendering him his teenage 
body again.
The only thing he could figure out was that
he'd snack on the meat of a fresh
coconut every day.
They would fall from the trees,
and he enjoyed the process
of carving into them.
When we returned
to our normal life
he began researching Coconuts as a fat fighting food.
It turns out he had accidently stumbled on what
natural health people have known for a 
long time.
The medium chain fat properties of coconut
are used by the body as energy, 
rather than being stored as fat.
OOOOOH! Why did I not join him in his coconut eating ritual every day in Samoa?
So as we researched we began incorporating coconuts into our diet even more.
I began studying the benefits of Coconut Oil because
I had begun making raw meals for a friend
who was battling cancer the gentle way.
Many of the recipes required Coconut Oil
so I just started using it in my own 
cooking too.
I figured if it was good for her
then it was good for us too.
I almost never buy butter anymore.

I cook with Coconut Oil.
I spread it on my toast.
I put it in my smoothies.
I put it on popcorn.
I use it for RiceKrispieTreats instead of butter.
I use it for my MuddyBuddies instead of butter.
I fry eggs with it.
I use it for browning tortillas.
I put it in my oatmeal.
I put it on pasta instead of Olive Oil sometimes.
(I have nothing against Olive Oil but believe the coconut 
to have more beneficial qualities, 
so sometimes I reach for it before my Italian staple.)
I put it in on anything that I would normally use butter for.
When you cook with it, 
just keep in mind that it doesn't brown
the same way that butter does.
It is good for med to medium high heat
and I usually get a nice golden color
from frying with it.
I am not quite up to speed on how to use it for baking,
but I am searching out more recipes that incorporate
it.
The taste is lovely!
It isn't heavily flavored like you might expect.
It has a light, subtle, nutty flavor that in more savory dishes 
is hardly noticeable.
I don't miss butter at all!
My mom was a southern belle who still cooks like one
and I know the value of the comfort of butter in the kitchen,
I was raised on it!
And honestly, as much as I loved it,
I really do not miss it!

Honestly,
I put this post off for a long time because I knew it would be a long one.
Coconut Oil is so awesome!
Trust me,
no one is paying me write this,
I'm not receiving any free product (I WISH!),
not one kick back.
I love this stuff
and I wish that everyone would give
it a whirl in their kitchen
and see if they don't love it as much as I do.
Athletes use this oil,
I have an IronManFriend that scoops it right out of the jar daily
and puts it right down the hatch!
It boosts energy, endurance, and metabolism.
It's good for your heart.
Good for digestion.
Again, it's not stored like regular fats, it's burned as energy
which supports weight loss.
It has high levels of anti-oxidants.

But guess what?
It is anti-fungal, anti-viral, and anti-bacterial.
So it helps fight things like-the flu, pneumonia, sore throats, meningitis, cavities, and all sorts of bacterial infections.
It can be used on your skin as:
moisturizer, make-up remover, massage oil, sunburn relief, 
and
for relief from problems like psoriasis, dermatitis, eczema and other skin infections.
Anti itch cream.
Mosquito repellant.
Healing balm.
Hair styling (smoothing the fly away frizzies).
Scalp Treatment.
Shaving bumps.

So I have a jar in my kitchen and one in my bathroom.
They both are used daily.

We don't stop there either with the coconut thing.
We drink Coconut Milk,
Coconut Water,
eat Coconut Flakes
and are even experimenting with 
coconut flour.

You might want to know which brand I use, 
but honestly I'm not partial to a 
particular brand.
I buy organic,
extra virgin and 
that's it.
I usually go with whichever is the least
expensive on the day that I am 
shopping for it.
I buy it wherever it is most convenient,
but I am delighted to discover
that even Safeway
and Fresh and Easy carry it now.
So send me a comment if I've persuaded you to try it
or if you use it already for something that 
I haven't mentioned yet.
Enjoy!






Monday, October 24, 2011

Mangia Mi (and me too!)

Last Sunday afternoon we had a spectacular lunch 
at a local favorite


Mangia Mi is a casual, fresh, Italian
cafe with incredibly scrumptious, authentic Italian flavors
reminiscent of cafes and trattorias of Italy.
It's a neighborhood spot with a drive 
to bring the family back
to the table.
They have the reputation of having 
the best lasagna around
period.

MostAwesomeNeighborSweetGuyChris' Lasagna

I can testify that this is true.
A few days prior, my brother invited us to dinner
there. He was being beckoned by the famous lasagna
but because we were overbooked
I had to regretfully turn down his invite, 
but darn it!
Since the mention of it I couldn't get the idea out of my head
so I seized the moment after church to satisfy
the craving that arose.
It is a challenge to describe how 
full and flavorful
these dishes are.
They really taste like my memories of my 
Italian grandmother's kitchen.
Satisfying.
Comforting.
Buon Appetitto!
I really hope if you haven't discovered
the magic of Mangia Mi
that you do so soon.
It really is phenomenal food!
My only tip is that you take notice
of their hours.
I've posted their hours but if ever
in question just call them first.
Lunch: Friday to Sunday 11:30 - 3
Dinner: Tuesday - Sunday 5 - 9
Closed Mondays


So here are some pics from my phone.
Jake's ricotta and spinach ravioli with pesto.

My ricotta and spinach ravioli with bolognese.

However, 
the entire experience was heightened by
a very bright, hungry, unexpected guest!
It's as if he caught a waft of the fresh
tomato basil soup 


from up in the 
bush and hopped down to 
see if we were the 
generous 
sharing type.
As if to say, "Me too!
What did you guys order me?"


He was huge!
You can't really tell by this picture,
but he was nearly 3 inches long. 
No wonder he was so hungry.
Nervous that our new little friend might
be confident enough in our company to spring up on me,
TrueLove thought it might
be fun to see if the big Green Goblin
might like a little salami.
He did!

video
I hope this works. I've never posted video before.

As soon as TrueLove offered it,
this guy reached out and clutched on to it,
more like locked on to it
for dear life.
He would not let it out of his grip.
In his tight grip he managed
to climb up the water glass
and do a back climb
up the shrubbery.
He took that salami
back there trying 
to binge in privacy.
Except that we kept watching and laughing.
We made lots of new friends that day
as everyone wanted to come visit 
and observe the praying Mantis
that snacks on salami.
He hung onto that piece for at least
25 minutes.
What fun!
You never know who you might meet
when you're dining in downtown Danville.


We also met some of these the other day too.
It's the time of year when people start torturing- I mean dressing up their dogs.
It was a weiner dog mixer group,
or something like that
parading all over downtown.
We met several hot dogs, a tinker bell, a devil and ladybug.
You really never know who you might meet.
And you never know who might join you
for a lunch downtown on the patio
at Mangia Mi.
"and me too!"

Friday, October 21, 2011

80's Party and Molly Ringwald!

So TrueLove and his PartyPlanningGuruMusicalTriviaGeniusAndDrummingGuruRoger
plan this 80's party. 
It's not an annual event, although the pressure for one is certainly palpable.
It's a costume party, like-so-totally-obvious, musical trivia game
and dance party-
cuz your friends can't dance and if they don't dance then their
no friends of mine.
And it's so much fun.
Last time I went as Ms.PacMan because 
let's just say, she got a lot of my money in the early 80's.
But that costume was a pain in the ask-me-no-more-questions.
When I took the headpiece off my hair looked so
gag me with a spoon my hair looked so totally grody!
My face was uncomfortable, I ruined a dress sticking duct tape dots on it, and 
it took hours to make.
Not this time folks!
In the 80's
I looooooooved Molly Ringwald.
I saw Pretty In Pink way too many times,
I still gasp a little when I hear
if you leave, don't leave now
please don't take my heart away,
and I often was told that I looked like her because
my hair was red, my skin was pasty white-I mean really fair,
and I probably-no definitely-had a little attitude.
Recently at a party, I was given the greatest compliment ever
that an 80's lovin', Molly Ringwald lovin', DIY fashion lovin' person could receive.
"You are SO Molly Ringwald!"
It was in reference to my explanation that the 
"vintage dress" I was wearing was not a dress at all-
really it was a rigged up, thrown together, precariously tied beaded shawl over an
incredibly architectural bustier (boost-E-long A/french word)
with a SimplyVera skirt I had in my closet (spent $10 and never wore), 
embellished with a tied off twisted bracelet
that I ended up having to cut off later that night
(so lame, like I was totally psyched to wear that again).
Here's how it came out.

Me and TrueLove

This picture shows the twisted bracelet on the scarf.

So I love fashion, I'm not trying to pat myself on the back. I just thought that if an outfit earned me
the exceptional compliment of "so Molly Ringwald" that it was deserving of a presence in this post. Trust me we are getting to the 80's party slowly but surely. And this picture is apropo because I am standing next to SweetThoughtfulFunCuteKelley who happens to be the other half of Roger, who I already mentioned hosts this party (80's/not the party in the picture) with TrueLove. He's standing next to CrazyHairCuttingGeniusSo-Much-FunDeb. Who you don't see in these pictures are StarOfTheParty40thSurpriseJillAndToddSecretKeepingPartyThrowingHubbyTodd whose party we we were all so honored to attend. Although it was a sensational party
we're gonna party like it's 1990-ni-ine!
We are now moving on.

For the 80's party,
I wanted a costume that would be comfortable to wear,
serve food, dance in and 
could be worked into my everyday wardrobe. 
This is a tall order I know, but when on a budget,
I'm not going out and spending money on clothes for one night.
Sorry,
nooot gunn- do-it
So riding on this "so Molly Ringwald" compliment
 that I'm still glowing from
even though TrueLove calls her 
Molly Ringworm
still don't like when he does it but always laugh
because it's one of his TrueLove-isms to twist people's names
in such a way to crack me up.
I decided I'm going to come up with a Molly Ringwald outfit.
What better than her Claire outfit from the iconic film
Breakfast Club?


The Breakfast Club Poster

First! I've been looking around for a pair of dark brown riding boots for fall anyway.
They are around. Boots are everywhere. I am still drooling over the Ralph Lauren boots she
wore for that character, but if I'm not spending money for a costume-
then I'm definitely not spending $1000+ for Ralph Lauren boots.
That's right. Three zeroes.
noooot gunn- do-it
But, I did go to Loehmann's, lured in by an extra discount email I received,
and found a moderately priced pair of LaCanadienne boots that will fit the bill 
of both Claire costume 
and 
perfectly comfortable and sylish for tucking my leggings into!

Also, on the same shopping trip I found the
PERFECT SKIRT.
I'm blushing as I type this because when I found the skirt
I did a little happy dance in front of the sales associate.
don't worry
be happy
Perfect skirt.
Adrienne Vittadini $29, Italian-need I say more?-
but I can wear it as a normal functioning part of my wardrobe,
now! 20 years after the 80's look I'm going for!
I haven't yet found the perfect top, 
but I found an ALMOST perfect top $12 at H&M,
in that it's the perfect color pink.
pretty in pink, isn't she? 
pretty in pi-iiink, isn't she?
caroline talks to you 
softly sometimes.....
And the happy dance I did over the skirt is nothing like the dance
let's dance
put on your red shoes and dance the blues
let's dance
 I did over finding the 
WIG
I'm going to wear.
so totally awsome to the max
I found it at Richard's, it belongs to the Floor Manager so he's letting me borrow it for FREE! 
But not without long explanation about why he keeps wigs around (set design and floor displays), but,
Hey! I don't judge him.
I've never told you people this before but...
confession coming!
I LOOOOOOOOVE WEARING WIGS!
Major happy dance!
 cut loose, footloose
kick off your Sunday shoes 
I know.
Like Wierd-o-rama!
It's just that since most of my adult life I have worn very short pixie-ish hair,
it's so fun during parties like this to wear a wig. Just to experience what it feels like to turn your head abruptly and feel hair swing around and brush your face. People with long hair take advantage of this mini miracle. I don't. If you are at the 80's party, I'll be the one swinging, flipping and tossing Molly Red Ringwald hair all over the place. It's so fun. 
i whip my hair back & forth
i whip my hair back & forth
(not 80's but kind of fitting)
So I already have the brown skinny belt and over-the-shoulder leather bag sooo 
Claire costume complete!


(I love when I make alliterations without trying! What?! I used to teach middle schoolers Writing.
And you already know that I'm weird because I confessed my WIG love with you.)
So, I hope I didn't bore you all with my meaningless costume babble,
and reliving the 80's.
I just thought that this is the week where people are scrambling around to put together costumes. I hope that I've inspired you to consider choosing costumes that have pieces that can be fitted into your daily wardrobe. Be gutsy and ask to borrow things from a friend or the floor manager at Richard's. People are often willing to help contribute and costumes should not cost a lot of money.
Unless you are rich like Claire in Breakfast club and you can afford to shop like a 
material girl
living in a material world
But really. There are much more important things to spend lots of money on!
fee-eeed the wo-o-ooorld
Time to sign off.
I've got to go listen to my 80's station now to get some of these 
like totally dweeby
songs out of my head.
Have fun finding costumes everybody!