Saturday, October 30, 2010

Crazy Easy Pumpkin Spice Muffins

This is one of my favorite snacks.  Not only because it is crazy easy, but because they taste great and give me lots of vitamin A and iron, for very few calories, and not much fat or sodium.  Look at the stats!
nutrition facts

The ingredient list is:
1 box of spice cake mix
1 can of pumpkin
1 tablespoon of blackstrap molasses

Put the pumpkin into a bowl, and add the cake mix and molasses.  You don't have to add molasses.  I add it because it's loaded with iron.  If you do use molasses, make sure it's blackstrap; the other kind isn't as high in iron.

Mix well.  I just use a wooden spoon to mix everything.  No point in getting out the mixer and making a big production out of it.

Spray the muffin pan with cooking spray.  I use Bakers Joy because I'm baking, and that makes me happy.  Also, I spray it all over the top of the pan too, not just in the holes, to make clean up easier.

Fill each muffin cup.  I used a small ice cream scoop and put one scoop in each hole.

SIDEBAR:  Guess what.  I was expecting to make 24 muffins, but after filling the pan I still have lots of batter left.  This kind of annoys me.  I wanted to wash the dishes while the muffins cooked.  The Universe had other plans.  Now I have to wash the muffin pan twice.  This is turning into a big production after all.  I should have bought two mini muffin pans, but it's too late for that now.  Besides, I'd still have to wash two muffin pans.

We'll see how many muffins we end up with after the first batch is cooked and I can use the pan again.  I just realized I will have to wait for the pan to cool off before I wash it.  I'm glad it's only 5:30am and I have the whole day ahead of me to finish baking muffins.  Srsly, I should have made big muffins like I usually do. 

Bake for 18 minutes.

Cool pan on wire rack for about 13 seconds, then impatiently take one of the muffins out to see how easy it's going to be to get these out of the pan.  The first one lifted right out, so did the second one - yay!  And the pan isn't all nasty because of the Baker's Joy.  I am not going to wash this pan, I am going to just keep using it.  Please don't judge me.  I had enough batter to make 9 more muffins, for a total of 33 mini muffins.


Yes, folks, 33 mini muffins.  In spite of the fact that I used the same ice cream scoop to measure each muffin, they are not all the same size!  These two are side-by-side, even though it looks like the one on the right is closer.  That is an optical illusion. 

What the hell, muffins

I ate the one on the left.   Delicious.

My friend Florence in Oklahoma makes mini muffins all the time for her great-grandbabies.  I don't recall her ever saying anything about how they are all different sizes.  I must ask her what she uses to measure them out.

Now I have to fix the nutritional stats while I wait for the remaining 9 muffins to finish baking.  What a hassle.

OK, I fixed the nutritional stats, and now all the great nutrition has gone down.  It doesn't really matter, because I will probably eat 3 of them at a time.  They are really small. 

Here is a picture of the finished muffins.  In spite of the setbacks this morning, I love this recipe.  I've made a pumpkin spice cake using the same 3 ingredients and baked in a bundt pan.   That got served by putting a slice of cake on a plate, adding about 1/4 cup of Greek yogurt, sprinkled with homemade granola, and drizzled with honey.  Sometimes I put a layer of baked nectarines on, too.  This really is a simple recipe.

Some children love the muffins or cake plain.  Some children require icing.  The texture is nice and moist, so you do whatever you like as far as icing/not icing.  I am not icing them.  I am going back to bed after I roll over to NutriMirror to log in 3 mini muffins.


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Ode to My Kitchen

I love my kitchen.  I really do.  There is nothing I would change about it.   When we bought this house, the kitchen was a disaster.

The puffy blue baby chair was left behind by the previous owner.
From this photo, you can get a general idea of how ugly it was.  Warped pink counters, cupboard doors that fell off when you opened them, funky floor, and the island was not only slanty, but lacking in storage.

We worked with an awesome remodeling company.  The first time we met with the carpenter about the cabinets, he had some great ideas such as slide-out shelves in the pantry and cabinets on both sides of the new island.  He got excited about the project, and that got me excited.  Before we met with him, I had felt kind of doomed.  Especially when I posted this picture on Facebook and a couple of people responded with "I like your kitchen!"  HA - they had never been in this kitchen.  Maybe the baby chair gave them the feeling of "homey," I don't know.  The fact is, this kitchen was worse than the one we had lived with for 10 years.  It was time for BIG CHANGES!

The new kitchen, with beautiful new appliances, fits our lifestyle exactly.  We extended the island, added cabinets underneath that can be accessed from both sides, installed a giant, deep sink, and picked a floor that looks close enough to real stone to satisfy me.

The pot rack was left behind by the previous owner too!
We considered adding a door between the kitchen and laundry/mud room, and might do that in the future.  Instead, all my cooking pictures will include that view (and sometimes it's not this pretty).

It is such a joy to cook in a kitchen that meets my every need.  I'm starting to forget how nasty it was, and how expensive, and how it seemed to be taking forever to remodel.  I love you, new kitchen!  Thanks for all the inspiration!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Bienvenito Pedro and Thanks for the Remodel

This morning Greg said he wanted to talk to me, and then he kind of hemmed and hawed, not really saying anything.  I told him he was making me nervous and what did he want to talk about?  He said it was just that he wanted to get a parrot.  That's fine, I don't mind having another bird in the house.  We had six of them when we moved to the beach.  That was an interesting move - six birds in three cages, a cat in a cat carrier, and two adolescent golden retrievers that just wanted to have FUN!  Over the 10 years we have lived here, we have sadly said goodbye to 5 of the birds, the cat, and one of the goldies.  We have one love bird, Ozzie, and our sweet 12-year-old golden, Sadie.   Greg is a Dr. Doolittle type who loves all animals.  He deserves a parrot.

The thing is, there was no place to put a parrot.  We decided it was time to rearrange the furniture in the living room, and put the two birdcages next to the window in there.  YAY!  This meant that Ozzie would be out of the guest/office room and I could rearrange the furniture in there, too!  So, while we waited for the pet store to open this morning, we rearranged furniture.  There is a lot more light in my house now and it looks more homey.  I love it.

The pet store had two Quaker parrots, both babies, both hand-fed.  The pet store Betty put one bird on Greg and one on me.  They were so cute, walking all over us.  We decided which one we wanted, and bought it.  They can't tell you if it's a male or female.  We are pretending it is male now, and calling him Pedro.  I had to sign a form saying that we would bring Pedro back in 3 days so they can make sure he's ok, not losing weight, etc.  I had to initial in two places; in one of the places, I agreed that the pet store is snot responsible for blah blah blah.  I pointed out to the girl that the form contained the word snot.  She said oh.  So I took my pen and underlined the s in snot, and initialed and signed everywhere.

We came home with a giant birdcage, Pedro, and two bags full of perches and toys and food.  Ozzie's cage got new perches and a new ladder, Pedro's cage got  a sleeping tent and a ladder and some toys.  Pedro and Ozzie kind of sat there in a stupor while we messed with the cages, and then they both fell asleep.  While they were sleeping I did a little google search on Quaker parrots and found out some interesting facts.  They are very friendly and playful.  They are also in the top 10 of birds that will vocalize!

Bear in mind that I am married to a boy and I had to give him The Talk about not teaching Pedro outrageously inappropriate phrases.  Seriously, I once had a friend who owned a parrot.  His parrot was a gutter-mouthed slimebag, and more than once I heard him say this:  "Wake up and f*ck her!"  He would say it over and over.  Rude.

Greg asked if Pedro can say "Hey Sailor!" which I happily agreed to, and he is also allowed to say "Hellooooo" and "Dude!" and whatever else he wants, as long as he keeps it relatively clean.   I don't want you to get the idea that I have a problem with freedom of speech.  I don't, not at all.  Please don't censor yourselves on my account.  I would appreciate it if you would watch your mouth around Pedro, though.

Ozzie on the left, Pedro on the right

They are both awake again and checking each other out.  Pedro was hand-fed and he was in a glass cage, not one with bars he can climb on.  I can't wait until he feels comfortable and starts playing and carrying on.  This should be fun!

This would be a good time to mention the law of attraction.  Ozzie's cage materialized in my life the following way.  When we had six birds, I would go in pet shops and look at the cages and wish we could get bigger cages for them.  I would look at the big cage I wanted, and even if I had the money to buy it, I would say to myself "I'll get that later."  It just wasn't something I needed enough to spend the money on.

I wasn't deliberately trying to use the law of attraction, but in fact that is just how it works.  I knew that I would get a bigger cage later, I just didn't realize how it would get to me.  Well, one day Mary, a lady I worked with, happened to overhear me talking about all our birds.  Mary and I sat right across from each other and talked all the time, but she said this was the first she'd heard about me having birds.  Then she said that the new house she had just moved into had a great big birdcage in the garage, and asked me if I could use it.  I said I would love to have it and she said good, come get it because it was taking up valuable space.   I went home with her after work, and there sat the very bird cage I had been eyeing in the pet store.  Ozzie lives in it now.  Thank you Universe - awesome!   Mary also had fishing poles in the garage too, and asked if I knew anyone who could use them. They are with Greg's other fishing poles now.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Meatballs a'la Alton Brown, Part 2

Ta-daaa!  They were good!

When Greg got home from fishing (with no fish, sadly) I started cooking, just like I said I would.  The only exception to my original plan was that I decided to go cash in my $200 winning scratch ticket, and while I was doing that I started thinking about this awesome Greek salad a local pizza place makes.  I have only had a taste of this salad, when my coworker had one for lunch.  SO GOOD.  So, with my loot, I went to the pizza place and ordered a salad.  A small salad was enough for both of us to have some, with leftovers.  Delicious, too.

First I cooked the pasta and heated the meatballs in the marinara sauce.

That is my pasta-cooking pot that I got at a yard sale back in the 90's!  The meatball pot is an old dutch oven that I've had for as long as I can remember.  Note the shoddy quality of the dutch oven.   A new dutch oven is going on my want list.  This is also the pot I cook beans in.  It's a great pot, it's just worrisome how the teflon or asbestos or whatever it's coated with is scratched like that. 

The na'an heated in the oven while everything else cooked.  This was a multinational, fusion-type dinner with Italian, Greek and Indian cuisine all rolled into one.  Take that, Alton Brown.

Hosting my Imaginary Cooking Show
Dinner was awesome.  Greg is having pumpkin pie right now and if I ever get hungry again, I may have a pineapple upside-down cupcake.    The verdict:

Meat Balls a'la Alton Brown, Part 1

My husband mentioned spaghetti and meatballs the other day.  I can't even remember the last time we had spaghetti.  Today he is out at sea, fishing, and I am making spaghetti and meatballs for dinner.  This is not a comment on his fishing skills.  I am having dreams of flounder for dinner tomorrow.  I was dreaming of black sea bass until he told me that black sea bass season doesn't start until November.  He said they are fishing for trigger fish, too.  I have never had trigger fish.  I am leery.

Anyway, meatballs.  This is the recipe; I got it off of the Food Network website.

Baked Meatballs (Recipe courtesy Alton Brown, 2005)

Prep Time: 20 min
Cook Time: 20 min
Level: Easy
Serves: 20 meatballs, 4 to 5 servings


  • 1/2 pound ground pork
  • 1/2 pound ground lamb
  • 1/2 pound ground round
  • 5 ounces frozen spinach, thawed and drained thoroughly
  • 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried parsley
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs, divided


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the pork, lamb, ground round, spinach, cheese, egg, basil, parsley, garlic powder, salt, red pepper flakes, and 1/4 cup of the bread crumbs. Using your hands, mix all ingredients until well incorporated. Use immediately or place in refrigerator for up to 24 hours.

Place the remaining 1/4 cup of bread crumbs into a small bowl. Using a scale, weigh meatballs into 1.5-ounce portions and place on a sheet pan. Using your hands, shape the meatballs into rounds, roll in the bread crumbs and place the meatballs in individual, miniature muffin tin cups. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden and cooked through.
note: I didn't add the hyperlinks and I don't know where they will take you.

First gather the ingredients:

I know what you are thinking and no, the dull-green herb in the bowl is dried basil.  Just sayin'.

Now you have to mix the ingredients, and let it sit in the fridge for a while, up to 24 hours.  I'm giving it about 2 minutes in the fridge, if that long.  I really want to get to the weighing-the-meatballs part.  I admit to feeling somewhat smug in this recipe.  It wants you to weigh each meatball, even specifying this technique:  "using a scale."   How else would you weigh it, I wonder?  Anyway, I'm smug because I have a scale.  I have gotten pretty good at eyeballing food quantity since I've been weighing and logging everything I eat for the past 16 months, so I consider this to be The 20 Meatball Challenge.  I'll bet you anything I can eyeball 42 grams. 
First I chopped the spinach, even though nobody told me to.  It was just too big.  Before I chopped it, I squeezed the  moisture out in a clean towel.  Kind of a mess, picking the spinach off the towel.  I got most of it.

By the way, my blog  might make more sense if you know that my digital camera only holds 10 pictures at a time.  I know that I could buy a card to put in it with a bigger memory.  I like the way this is working out, though.  Since I download pictures after each step, I can write about it immediately before I forget something.  That way, you are getting a live, blow-by-blow report as I make the recipe.  It is like you are IN MY KITCHEN!  

Actually, it is like you are in my kitchen and not helping me one little bit.  Thanks.  CAN I GET YOU ANYTHING?

OK, put all the ingredients in a bowl: 

Looks like a monkey!

Mix everything together, using your hands.  I mixed it quite a bit to combine the three different meats.

Now for the fun part: weighing the meatballs! 

Hmph.  I only nailed one of them, 42 grams on the nose.  Not feeling so smug anymore.   Total of 22 meatballs, with the last one weighing only 37 grams.  Awesome on the two extra meatballs!

Weigh them, roll them into meatballs, roll them in breadcrumbs, then put in little muffin pan (a new purchase this morning).  I may start choosing recipes based on what new gadget I'll get to purchase in order to make it!  Glad I already had a food scale.

When they are all coated in breadcrumbs, put them in the oven.  Look how cute:

The recipe says to cook for 20 minutes or until brown and done.  20 minutes wasn't long enough.  I gave them another 5 minutes, and washed the dishes while I waited.

Cleanup Time = 3 minutes!

Five more minutes wasn't enough, they still weren't brown.  I gave them five minutes longer to get brown, and after that I turned on the broiler for about 30 seconds.

That's better.

Now they are waiting in the refrigerator.  I'm going to use a Trader Joe's marinara sauce for the spaghetti.  When Greg calls to say they're back from sea, I'll start boiling water for pasta and make a salad.  While he's taking a shower, I will put some garlic na'an in the oven and pasta in the pot.  I am looking forward to dinner time!


Friday, October 22, 2010

Chicken Cordon Bleu - Part II, Swiss Cheese and Ham, What's Not to Like

Well much to my surprise, the chicken cordon bleu turned out just fine.  They didn't get as brown as I would have liked, and I ended up putting more cheese on top (hey, it's a birthday dinner). 

Served with roasted potatoes and carrots.

My sister and I split one.  Everyone liked them, so they were worth the trouble.  Nobody choked on a toothpick.  But I will never do this again. 

See if you can figure out my rating code:

Chicken Cordon Bleu - Part I, A Disaster In The Making

I looked all over the internet for chicken cordon bleu recipes, and found one for roll-ups.  Usually you cut the chicken breast and insert the ham and cheese; for these, you pound the chicken and roll it around the ham and cheese.  Remind me never to do this again.  These pain-in-the-necks better taste good.  Just sayin'.

The recipe, as modified by me:

3 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
     (sudden realization that I left these out.......)
8 slices swiss cheese
8 slices cooked ham
3/4 cup panko (and more for when you roll them up and everything falls off)
1/4 cup Eggbeaters
1/2 tsp thyme
1 T parmesan cheese
Lots of toothpicks

Bake 30-35 minutes at 350, put 1/2 slice of cheese on top and return to oven for 3-5 minutes to melt the cheese.  (I am personally not going to do this because I doubled the cheese on the inside of the rolls)

First, gather the ingredients:

Trim all the icky parts off of the chicken, lay between sheet of plastic wrap, and pound flat.  This is where it all started to go wrong.  The first chicken breast pounded flat easily enough, but fell apart when I picked it up.

The next step was recommended in lots of the comments to the original recipe.  I will never trust those people again.  The original recipe called for rolling everything up first, then rolling in breadcrumbs.  Many reviewers suggested breading the chicken first.  Also, normally when I bread something I put it in flour first, then egg, then breadcrumb.  Not this time.  That would have been a great idea, though, if I'd remembered to do it.  Regular breadcrumbs instead of panko might have been a better idea, too.  It's too late for that, so just run the chicken through the Eggbeaters, then coat them in panko seasoned with parmesan cheese and dried thyme (my additions to the original recipe).

Now it got really challenging.  Place 2 slices of ham and 2 slices of cheese on the panko-laden disintegrating chicken breasts.  Now just try to roll them up.  This is practically impossible to do without all the filling sticking out.  Make sure you have plenty of toothpicks.  I used six toothpicks on the first chicken breast, and now I can only find two of them.  When the coating all sticks to the aluminum foil, roll the toothpicked-together, floppy mess into some more panko and try to make it stick. 

Scrape up the parmesan-laden panko from the aluminum foil and mash it onto the rolled-up chicken breasts.  Some cooking spray might have helped keep everything from adhering to the aluminum foil, but again, it's too late for that.

The foil on the baking pan is sprayed with cooking spray, thankfully.  These are resting in the refrigerator, waiting until time to put them in the oven.  Stay tuned for Part II!  I'm going to clean up now.

I Made Pineapple Upside-Down Cupcakes

My husband's birthday was yesterday.  I have the day off today, and asked him what he would like for his official Birthday Dinner.  He requested  chicken cordon bleu for dinner, and pineapple upside-down cake for dessert.   Since our niece baked him a pumpkin pie yesterday, a whole cake would have gone to waste, so I made cupcakes instead.  We will have some after dinner tonight, and freeze some for later.

Normally I would make the cake from scratch.  Today I am interested in convenience, so I used a cake mix.


1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup butter
pineapple rings (save the juice to use in the cake batter)
maraschino cherries

1 box yellow cake mix
3 eggs
1/3 cup oil
1 1/3 cup liquid (use the pineapple juice, and add water to make 1/3 cup)

First, preheat the oven, and gather the ingredients:

Make the topping:  put butter and brown sugar in a sauce pan and heat, stirring occasionally, until it boils.

When you aren't stirring the topping, prepare the muffin pan.  I sprayed them with Baker's Joy.  These are going to be sticky!  These are Texas-sized muffin pans, not the regular size.  I wanted the pineapple rings to fit!

Pour the caramel into the muffin tins, dividing evenly among the holes.  I had 10 pineapple slices, so I used 10 holes.  Put one pineapple ring in each hole, and a maraschino cherry in the middle. 

Now prepare the cake batter following the directions on the box.

Fill each hole with cake batter:

I wish you the best of luck getting even amounts of topping and batter into the holes.  I got batter all over the place and had to wipe it off the tops of the pans with a paper towel.

Put them in the oven and bake them.  My cake mix said 18-21 minutes for 24 cupcakes.  I made 10 cupcakes, and started checking them at 18 minutes.  They were really puffed up and raw in the middle, so I gave them another 10  minutes.

While they are baking, clean up the dishes and wipe all the batter off of the counter.

Let the cupcakes cool for 15 minutes on a wire rack.  As you see, the topping bubbled up and all over the pans.  Although this may make cleanup a little more obnoxious, it does mean that the topping will be all over the sides of the cupcakes, not just on top.  Yay!

After they have cooled for 15 minutes, run a knife around each cupcake to help release it from the pan.  Put a platter over the pan, hold on tight, and flip them over.  You will have to use two platters.  Guess which cake I had to put back together after the topping flipped off of it:

Now to prepare chicken cordon bleu!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

I Saw My Mom Today

I work in a retirement community.  Today was the monthly meeting of the residents, and I like to go to the meetings and hear all the committee reports so I know what’s going on in the community.  Plus, you know, getting out of the office for a while.
As I sat there today, I scanned the room for my favorite resident, Mrs. Pleasant.  This woman is in her 80s, and I noticed her at first because she looks like my Grammie looked; twinkle in the eye, a sweet smile, a comforting look that drew me to her.   My mother died in 2008, a month past her 79th birthday, and I started working at the retirement community right before she died, and this woman reminded me of my mother, too.  After a few months, I approached the woman as she sat in the lobby, and asked her if she had a minute.  She welcomed me to sit down and asked me how I was.  I said I was fine, how was she, and did she mind if I told her something personal?  She smiled and said she would love to hear it, and laughed.  I told her that she reminded me of my Grammie and that I just felt drawn to talk to her.  She thought that was really interesting, and asked me about Grammie.  We sat and chatted until I figured I would get in trouble for hanging out in the lobby instead of working.
That night when I got home, I pulled out a picture of Grammie.  This woman looks nothing like her!  HA!  Physically, there is a slight resemblance, but nobody but me would probably even see it.   I guess it was her spirit I was drawn to, and so I saw her as someone I loved with a similar spirit.  Over time Mrs. Pleasant and I have become friends.  She turns out to be of the same spiritual mindset I am, with similar interests and even mutual acquaintances.  When I found out my job was changing, I hadn't seen her to tell her I was moving to another office.  I knew she would wonder where I was and hoped to see her at the meeting.
As I sat at the meeting listening to the reports and scanning the room for Mrs. Pleasant, my eye stopped from time to time on various residents.   So many of them remind me of my mother, physically, but not in the face.   This one walks like Mom did.   That one has the same hairdo.  These people are all her peers, veterans of the Depression and World War II, sharing a common bond that is deep and proud.  The things they remember, she remembered.  The things they love, she loved.    Where I work, they have fashion shows, and they sing old songs together, and they dress nicely when they come to dinner.   They are active in the community, running committees and the Board of Directors and getting things done.  Many of the men are retired military.  So many of them have had amazing lives.  Mom would have fit right in with these people and had a wonderful time with lots of friends.
I wonder, when I’m in my 80s, what we will be doing in my retirement home.    I can see my generation sitting around singing war songs, but ours would be remembered protest songs.  I cannot see my generation having fashion shows, but you never know.   I hope we have as much fun as the residents I see every day are having.
During my meeting scan, I had located Mrs. Pleasant, so after the meeting I went to her table and said hi.  Her eyes lit up, we hugged, we talked for about 20 minutes, and I went back to work feeling like I had just spent an hour with my Mom.  I love my job.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Flu Shot Day

Today was employee flu shot day at work.  We have a clinic on site and the shot is free for us.  If we don’t get a flu shot, we have to wear a mask whenever we are in the health center.  I am surprised at the number of employees who don’t get a free flu shot.  The flu sucks, as you may know.
So I went to the clinic and signed a form, then sat down next to some other employees.  I got to sit next to one of the EMTs, a nice quiet fellow who sat there quietly and didn’t try to chit chat.  There were five of us, in a row of about 15 chairs.  When the lady in the first seat got up to go get her shot, the rest of us moved down one seat.  We did it again when the second person got up to go get their shot.  When the third person got up to go in, the EMT and I decided that we were not going to move down a seat again.  It was stupid.  We were the only two people in line.  We agreed if a crowd formed behind us, we would move down.
He went to get his shot, and I got ready to be next.  It’s not like I was having an IV and exploratory surgery, but I still had to psyche myself up.  I would not like to wear a mask at work, for one thing.  For another, I would prefer not to get the flu.  It is worth a few seconds of panic. 
My turn!  I go into the clinic and it’s not my usual shot-giving Betty!   My usual Betty has given me shots over the years at work and I’ve never felt a single one of them, seriously.  I don’t know how she does it.  My coworker had had her flu shot earlier and told me that she had a different nurse, but that she was good too and it didn’t hurt.   I was glad I already knew that. 
First she took my temperature by sticking a machine in my ear.  She said my temperature was 96.7.  She asked if I was cold.  I wasn’t cold, and I asked her if a low temperature was bad.  I asked her if she was going to call an ambulance.  She said no, as long as I wasn’t cold it was nothing to worry about.
I had forgotten it was flu shot day when I got dressed this morning and was not dressed appropriately.  It was hard to push my sleeve up high enough, so the nurse suggested I take off my top.  Look, I know I was in a clinic, but I was also at work, so I just pulled up one side of my top and slipped my arm out, then awkwardly bunched-up the top around my left boob and armpit so only my arm was sticking out.  She gave me the shot, it was quick and relatively painless, and then she took a big ol’ wad of gauze and put it on the injection site, and covered that with a band aid.  No mask for me.  Hopefully also no flu.
My original plan was to post a picture of my arm with the giant puffy bandage, to show you the overkill.  I was in my nightgown when I remembered I wanted to take a picture.  I took the camera into the bathroom where the big mirror is, took off my nightgown, and tried to maneuver my bandaged arm and my camera-holding arm to take a picture.  I was standing in the bathroom naked, wiggling around trying to see in the mirror what the camera would see, when I glanced into the bedroom and realized I had not closed the curtain when I had covered up the birdcage.  The neighbor could see straight into my bathroom if he happened to be standing in an exact spot on his deck.  When I realized that, I turned out the light and put my nightgown back on.   Now I wonder if my neighbor saw me naked in my bathroom.  My bandaged arm was away from the window so he would not have seen the bandage itself, just me gyrating around taking naked pictures of myself.  Great.
I did manage to get one picture.  I just looked at it.  You will never see it.  I was apparently holding the camera sideways, because the picture looks like I am face-down on the floor with a giant bandage on my arm. 

Challenge the Voices

You know what can drive a person crazy?  Trying to be something we are not. 
Defining our identities usually starts when we are children, even babies.   Our parents, even the ones who are trying as hard as they can to be great parents, instill ideas in our heads that become our truths.   For example, they say we are “shy” and even if we didn’t start out shy, we become that because that is what we are told that we are.  We rely on whoever raises us to teach us about the world and when they assign a category to us, that is what we believe.  As we grow up and gather these sorts of judgments into our self-definitions, things can get really muddled. 
When I was in the first grade, I brought home a report card with decent grades.  On the bottom of my report card the teacher had written “Karyn could improve her grades if she made more effort.”  From then on, for the rest of her life, my mom would occasionally say to me “Well, you don’t really make an effort.”  This became my truth and what I really believed about myself, that I didn’t try hard enough.
It wasn’t until the age of 47 that I found out this wasn’t true.  I was in a 3-day Personal Transformation and Courage workshop, with seven other people. 
The workshop involved a variety of tools like breathwork and dream analysis; the exercises were designed to get us to the point where we could see our personal truths.  When it was my turn to talk, I said that I felt like I was always outside watching people live their lives; that I felt like I didn’t make enough effort.  The conference leader talked about how there are people who participate, and people who lead, and wondered why it bothered me.  He asked me to say aloud “I am a participant, not an instigator.”  I tried to say that but the words stuck in my throat.  This did not sound true to me, yet it was what I believed.
That evening, as I journaled about the day’s workshop, I wondered why that statement had been so hard for me to say.  I began making a list of things that I had instigated.  The list grew longer as I thought back over the years, showing me that I had actually been the leader in many different facets of my life.   Journaling led me to the realization that “doesn’t make an effort” was a judgment that someone had made about a child 40 years earlier, which I had agreed to believe.  What a breakthrough.  After that realization, facing the voices in my head and proving them “not my voice” became easier. 
When I began taking walks, after joining NutriMirror, the voice in my head said “I am too fat for this.”  That actually WAS my voice; I told it that the reason I was walking was because I was too fat, and the voice might as well get used to it.  The voice clammed up right away!
It may sound unscientific (and in fact, it is) but I think sometimes when people are experiencing depression it is related to this disconnect between who we’ve been told we are, and who we really are.   The conflicting messages in our heads can be sorted out if we are willing to look at them and challenge them.  We owe it to ourselves and the people in our lives to be as authentically who we really are as we can be.  Don’t be afraid – you were created an individual, and your individuality is as valid and vital as anyone else’s.  I would suggest you start with the voices that make you feel bad about yourselves.  You may very well find out that the voices are someone else’s. 

Sunday, October 17, 2010

I Made Apple Tarts!

These delicious tarts are the result of a google search on "easy apple tart with puff pastry."  The recipe came from this blog:

It was quick and easy, and I had plenty of apple filling left over, enough to make a pie. 

Here are some pictures:

That is one sheet of puff pastry, cut in half.  The apples were mixed with lemon juice, brown sugar, cinnamon and a pinch of salt.   I wanted to make a fancy tart and a rustic tart, while I was baking tarts.  I laid out the apple slices, then spooned some of the syrup that had formed in the bowl over them.

The rustic tart didn't puff up evenly at first so lots of the syrup ran off:

Yay for silicone baking sheets!

The fancy tart was slightly easier to transfer to the serving platter.  I recorded these on NutriMirror by creating a recipe, and I said that each tart made six servings.  That is six one-inch-wide servings.  I ate four servings yesterday.  Next time I make these, I'm changing the serving size to show that each tart makes 2 servings.  Ha.  Delicious!

Our world, from my viewpoint

Have you ever noticed how everyone is in their own world?  Each individual’s experiences and upbringing, along with their own thought patterns, have created billions of humans with their own unique view of the world.  Although no two people on earth view everything exactly the same way, there are so many ways we do connect with each other.  The people in our lives are linked to us in some way that reflects a facet of ourselves.  So if you have a bunch of awesome friends, know that you, too, are awesome.   And you, too, have a different view of life than anyone else. 
When you combine all the life experience and viewpoint of everyone on earth, that is the sum total of what we are as humans inhabiting the same planet, where everyone else might as well be from another planet considering how individual we all are.   This is a major way we are all connected on Earth – we all may have an individual life going on, but everyone on earth is dealing with the sum of all those lives.  It is my belief that any time a human does something out of kindness, with only the best intent and no selfish motivation, it affects the energy of the collective (i.e., everyone on earth) in a positive way, and adds to the positive side of the scale, and that will at some point result in tipping the balance towards peace and a much kinder planet.
If you look at a rock, you will think it is static, and it appears to be.  But under an electron microscope you would see so much movement, all the atoms spinning around.  I think we on earth are like that rock.  We are all one, but we are all individuals.  Each of us affects the whole.  If some of those atoms ganged up and smashed into each other, the rock would explode.  (That is only a theory so I can make a point.  I have no idea what would really happen.)   The atoms all need the other atoms to be what they are, respect each others’ boundaries, and be nice to the whole.
I’m going to use this blog as a way for me to express my personal viewpoint on all things human.  I want to explore how the little day-to-day things that might seem mundane are actually experiences that expand our lives.  I want to explore how each step in the right direction will bring us closer to not only personal peace, but global peace as our happiness goes out into the Universe.    Some of what I write might get a little out there, some of it might be absurdly simple, and a lot of it might be downright pointless and random.  Some of it might be about food, cooking, and nutrition.   We will see what happens!