Friday, June 29, 2007

B-G-O 3,000!

Craig Biggio scored his 3,000 hit last night (actually 3,002) - YAY! Click here to read Richard Justice's front page Houston Chronicle article.

Today's Favorite iPod Workout Song

Abba, "Mamma Mia" 3:33
Abba, Gold

" I go again!" (I've been doing 2-a-days most of this week, mornings on the treadmill and evenings in the park, keeping hubby company while L runs.)

Today's stats - 41 minutes, 2.36 miles, 245 calories

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Chocolava Cookies

With a name like that, how could I not try this recipe?! Another recipe from She Knows Cooking Smart magazine (March/April 2006) . Low calorie, low fat -- but, Holy St. Patrick! -- What a mess to make! I "choco-lava'd" my food processor, mixer, and my manicure. But so worth it!

Chocolava Cookies

1 1/3 cups flour

1 cup sugar

1/3 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 cup cocoa

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup butter at room temperature

3 large egg whites, lightly beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla

Confectioner's sugar, for rolling

Preheat oven to 350. In large bowl or bowl of food processor, combine flour, sugar, brown sugar, cocoa, baking powder and salt, breaking up any lumps of brown sugar. Add butter and blend with fork or pastry cutter (or pulse in food processor) until mixture is well-combined. If you used a food processor, transfer mixture to large bowl.

Add egg whites and vanilla and stir by hand until dough comes together (I used my mixer), using fingers if necessary. Mixture will seem dry at first, and dough will be sticky (understatement!) because of low fat content.

Place a few spoonfuls of confectioner's sugar in shallow dish. Roll dough into walnut-sized balls and roll in sugar to coat. (Nice try, use a spoon instead, drop into sugar and then form a ball. Say a few unprintable words and tell yourself you can't stop now.) Place 1-2 inches apart on cookie sheet that has been sprayed with non-stick spray.

Bake for about 12 minutes, until just set around edges but still soft in middle. Transfer to wire rack to cool. Store in tightly sealed container or freeze.
Makes 2 dozen cookies. Each cookie - 92 calories, 18 calories from fat, 2g fat, 0g saturated fat, 0mg cholesterol, 18g carbs, 1g fiber.

Author: Julie Van Rosendaal, "One Smart Cookie"

Today's Favorite iPod Workout Song

Real McCoy, "Another Night" 3:56
iTunes, Another Night
Today's stats - 49 minutes, 2.93 miles, 312 calories

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Yesterday's Favorite iPod Workout Song

The Traveling Wilburys - (Bob Dylan, Jeff Lynne, Tom Petty, George Harrison, Roy Orbison) It's fun to try and listen for each one's voice.
"Handle With Care" 3:19
iTunes, The Traveling Wilburys Collection Remastered

Today's stats - 40 minutes, 2.38 miles, 256 calories

Monday, June 25, 2007

Taco Soup in the Crockpot

(Corrected 6-26-07 4 PM- I left off the can of chiles in the ingredients list yesterday)

It's only 10:35 AM, but this has been simmering since 8 AM and the smell is making me hungry! When I was pregnant, a co-worker brought this in for lunch one day and gave me the recipe. I've revised it over the years (I don't use as much meat-less than 1 pound...or I save the leftovers from taco night and when I get enough in the freezer, use that instead, and then skip the taco seasoning. The Rotel tomatoes and chiles give it enough heat.) I now use the 5 quart sized Crockpot instead, on Low for 4 hours, or High for 2. I've seen different variations in both magazines and cookbooks since Linda Sadler gave me the recipe all those years ago, but none with these exact ingredients. It's also very healthy -- back when I had the MasterCook program and a 386 computer, I ran the nutrition stats and it's very low fat, lots of fiber and good for you! Try this version, I think you'll like it!


2 pounds hamburger

1 large onion

1 can pinto beans, undrained

1 can kidney beans, undrained

1 can whole kernel corn, undrained (Use brand name, the generics get mushy. I like DelMonte's Summer Sweet Crisp Corn)

2 cans Cheddar Cheese soup -- you can also use 1/2 box 2% Velveeta cheese block

1 can stewed tomatoes, undrained

1 can Rotel tomatoes, undrained

1 can diced green chiles, undrained

1 package Original Ranch Style Dressing mix (not the dip)

1 package taco seasoning mix

2 1/2 cups water

Brown ground beef with onion, drain. Add all ingredients and simmer for 30-45 minutes in a large pot. Or use the crockpot!

Serve wth tortilla chips or Fritos. Freezes well.

Me: 8 Birdies & Squirrels: 2,157

I harvested this first season's crop, for us. Our Celeste fig tree is now almost 9 feet tall, and filled with figs. Most are still green, and most will end up feeding the backyard wildlife.
(Presentation plate - Target, clearanced at 37 cents. Didn't blow the budget when I bought what was left - 5 x .37)

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Hook 'em Horns!

How hard is it to find University of Texas fabric? VERY! That's why when I was at Quilter's Emporium and saw this on display (along with the same style in Texas A&M Aggie fabric, which is very easy to find (!)...and even a bolt of Texas Tech print), I grabbed a yard, along with coordinating prints. Each design and square is individually trademarked.

On the selvedge it says, "Sykel Ent., a Div of Fabrique Innovations, Inc. Pattern #TX020CT and in red letters - The logos appearing on this fabric are protected trademarks of The University of Texas. This product is intended for personal use only. Any unauthorized use is prohibited"

The two perfect coordinates Quilter's Emporium had with it are - the orange, "Dimples by Gail Kessler for Andover Fabrics Patt 1867," and the black, "Moda Marbles 1997 by Patrick Lose"

I don't know what I'll do with them yet, but I did take advantage of the 50% off thread sale at Jo-Ann's and bought Coats & Clark 40 wt. Burnt Orange embroidery thread and "Copper" metallic for whatever and whenever inspiration strikes.

Couldn't resist the tiny (1 1/2") Eiffel Tower Paris print ("Friends Around the World" France by Judie Rothermel for Marcus Brothers) in a fat quarter - Quilter's Emporium had their fat quarters 50% off, much cheaper than buying from the bolt. I love that shade of pink. And no cutting remarks about the "other" Paris. I was just so happy to find the Olfa 28mm blades also at Jo-Ann's. Usually my evil twin sewing sister gets them before I do.

Props & Chops

Shopping at Border's, not once but a couple of times in the past few weeks, 20 or even 30-something clerks come up and say hi and ask how you are doing; well, and if they can help -- but still for a moment you feel like you are a 20 or 30 something babe again. It's that kind of attention, IYKWIM, young baby boomer women!

Do your bidness before doing business
Take your potty break before shopping at Jo-Ann's! Not that their restrooms were anything to write home about, in fact they were often a little gross. Probably the reason for their new store policy-"Sorry, no public restrooms." When you gotta go, you gotta go. . .

And another chop to Jo-Ann's -- Yes, it's the Firefly Sale time, along with 50% off non-sale item coupons. And yes, the magazines are "on sale" for 10% off again. . .

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Eye of the needle

Did you see this on ABC news last night?
"Willard Wigan's artwork is so tiny, a microscope actually is needed to view it..."

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Father's Day Sewing

A favorite Father's Day gift!

Burda 5223 is most likely OOP (original publication year was 1989, and I started using it in 1993), this classic style pattern I'm sure has resurfaced in a different number. A bit of a fabric hog (5 1/2 yards of 45"), I lucked out last week when Jo-Ann's had their 100% "Spring Shirtings" on sale for 50% off - $2.99/yard. I love seersucker for summer--and a great deal, so if they want to call it Spring, so be it. Lucky Dad, he earned three this year!

Liquid Plumber Helper

Note to self: Do not use Liquid Plumber after showering when you have a wet (heavy) towel on the shower head hook, just in case it may slip off and land on the drain! Thought I do like the "dappled sunlight" effect on the practically new sage green towel. Good thing!

Favorite Workout Songs

From Monday and today --

Kenny Loggins, "I'm Free" (Heaven helps the man) 3:46
iTunes, Footloose (15th Anniversary Collector's edition)

Slade, "Run Runaway" 5:00
Greatest Hits of the 80's Vol. 3

Monday's stats - 48 minutes, 2.87 miles, 327 calories
Today's stats - 35 minutes, 2.07 miles, 240 calories

Saturday, June 16, 2007

AS IF we need further incentive

Medical proof sewing is good for you --

From Heart Healthy Living (Winter, 2006) "A 2004 study found that people who do something creative every week make fewer doctor visits, take less medication and report less depression than those not engaging their artsy side. Part of the benefit comes from the social aspect of group activities (Me: American Sewing Guild!), and for solo pursuits, a sense of individual mastery, according to Gene D. Cohen, Ph.D., director of George Washington University's Center on Aging, Health and Humanities.

Shhh! Sewing in Progress

Fabric stash has increased by 17 1/4 yards. But can't post why or photos -- Father's Day gifts...and I haven't made them yet. . .

Yesterday's Favorite iPod Workout Song

More bubblegum music!
First Class, "Beach Baby" 4:59
One Hit Wonders of the 70's
Voice sound familiar? He also sang the lead on "Love Grows Where My Rosemary Goes." (Wednesday's Treadmill Tune) His name is Tony Burrows, a session singer. He was the voice of several studio groups, including White Plains, The Pipkins, Brotherhood Of Man, Edison Lighthouse and the Flowerpot Men.
Yesterday's stats - 42 minutes, 2.53 miles, 282 calories

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Fun and slightly snarky quilting magazine

I used my 40% off Jo-Ann's coupon for this today. Mark Lipinsky's Quilter's Home - for the new generation of quilters. Entertaining and creative reading whether you are a sewist or quilter.


Latest acquistions from Another Place In Time. They also got a new shipment of Sea Lavendar candles. And a new scent which smelled delish, like someone making jam, "Mixed Berries".

Apple Blossom Pink Penta!
Giant Jewel Portulaca-------->
Isn't this a neat variation?

Costco Find

Tasty! Addicting! Case of 24, $10.99
I haven't even seen it in other stores yet.

Today's Favorite iPod Workout Song

Edison Lighthouse, "Love Grows Where My Rosemary Goes" 2:47
One Hit Wonders of the 70's
It was right before Easter 1970 and my best friend, Robin, and I bought some of these chenille chicks, and we were trying to think of names for them. I chose Rosemary - this song was playing on the radio (AM! "WBBF-Channel 95") on the way home. It's such a bouncy, happy song. Pure bubblegum music!
Today's stats - 39 minutes, 2.34 miles, 255 calories

Monday, June 11, 2007

Anorexia Sleepover

L went to a sleepover the other night and came home hungry the next day. Whatever happened to FOOD?! And EATING?! When you are a teenager and have that 100 mph metabolism, you should be enjoying all kinds of junk food. Cheetos, Fritos, Blue Bell ice cream, Pillsbury Chocolate Cookie Dough, M&M's, Betty Crocker frosting, etc. Not with this crowd! Four girls - 1 pizza, 1 small pan of brownies, 1 bag of microwave popcorn. No caffeine soda pop. Breakfast next day - 1 waffle, 2 strawberries. WTH? And these are all skinny girls, who are (except for L) "watching their weight" and trash-talking the ones who had two pieces. Props to L, while some of the girls were discussing how the story of Robin Hood has the devil in it (??!!), she took advantage of the diversion and went back for another piece of pizza! At her last checkup, with her almost 6' height, she's still 25 pounds underweight. Plenty of wiggle room to enjoy those teenage years. Because we all know later on, you just can't eat that way anymore. . .not without medical intervention!

Today's Favorite iPod Workout Song

John Mellencamp & Me'shell Ndegeocello, "Wild Night" 3:27
(I like his laugh and his version better than Van Morrison's)
CD: Dance Naked (my A/C repairman saw the CD out of the corner of his eye and did a double-take when he walked by the entertainment unit on the way out the side door)
Today's stats: 40 minutes, 2.45 miles, 285 calories

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Hold it!

I love this potholder! It's about 22 years old, from a craft show, and used to be part of a set of two--until one burned (better it than my hand!). It's just the right size and flexible. I've tried others and they were too stiff, too unwieldy or fell apart in the washing machine. I thought one made from denim would offer protection and a fun way to spend a Sunday afternoon, avoiding the heat outside. With an outgrown pair of L's jeans, couple layers of batting, the Viking 1100's quilting stitch (F2) and an embellished Pictogram flower in the center...I'm good to go!


I found the second issue of Altered Couture at Jo-Ann's. A good use for your 40% off coupon, the price is $14.99. eek. Patience is not my fortitude, I bought my copy a couple weeks at Barnes & Noble (with a 25% off coupon and my 10% Member discount. Close enough!)
It's well worth the money for the inspiration and overall admiration of contributor cleverness. I usually leave it on my coffee table to pick up and randomly flip through.

Angel Clouds

Well, that's what we call them. Actually they are "Angel Biscuits with Blueberries" on page 345 of Desperation Dinners by Beverly Mills & Alicia Ross. Pre-Rachael Ray, this book deliveres dinner in 20 minutes, and are actually edible and likeable by kids and picky eaters. (Sorry, Rachael). In addition to this recipe, our family also loves - Pop's Pan-Fried Steak and Potatoes (DH's fav)...Wild Turkey Skillet (my fav)...Real Life Lasagna...Oh-So-Easy Tetrazzini...Chicken Chili Quesadillas...Amazing Apple Tart...Magic Brownies (they are made in the microwave!)...These are the ones with the corners turned down!

I've given this book as gifts, and when I worked at the school book sale at Borders several years ago, I easily sold all the copies they had to other class moms.

We had these the other night with my $2 bag of peaches from Super Target. In fact, I usually make the biscuits a little smaller, as my family likes to eat them even without fruit!

Angel Biscuits with Blueberries

2 cups reduced fat Bisquick
1/2 cup skim or low-fat milk
1/3 cup reduced fat sour cream
3 tablespoons sugar
1 2/3 cup fresh blueberries
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 1/2 cups low fat Cool Whip

Heat oven to 450
Place biscuit mix in 2-quart or larger bowl. Add the milk, sour cream and sugar and stir. The dough will be sticky.
Drop the dough onto ungreased cookie sheet by heaping 1/4 cupfuls for 6 large biscuits. Bake in middle of oven just until the tops barely begin to brown - 9 to 11 minutes
While the biscuits bake, rinse and drain the blueberries. Set aside. Stir the almond extract into whipped topping and set aside.
Spoon about 3 tablespoons of whipped topping on biscuit and top with 1/4 cup blueberries.
(The authors suggest cutting biscuit in half, put topping on, then blueberries, cover with other half and add more topping and blueberries on top. My family can't wait that long!)

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Another good book!

An entertaining read! I read it in a day (it was due back at the library and others had it on reserve)...Besides, it was hard to put down. A very likeable woman to start with - She goes into great detail about her relationships (Harvey Keitel-what a nutbag!), life as a model, her acting career, battle with depression and The Sopranos. Finally, a real life story book with a happy ending!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Chocolate-Caramel Pudding

From the March/April 2006 issue of Cooking Smart --

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups lowfat milk
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Combine cocoa powder, cornstarch and salt in 1 quart saucepan. Add just enough milk to make smooth paste. Gradually stir in remaining milk and sugar. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture begins to thicken. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Pour into four serving dishes and chill.

The recipe said you could substitute unflavored soymilk for the milk and agave nectar for the sugar (gee, fresh out of agave nectar!). I also divvied up the servings easily into five 1- cup ramkins. That's about the extent of my dessert serving dishes right now!

It really does taste like chocolate caramels!

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Solar Power!

Solar nails! The first time ever I've had nails extend beyond my fingertips. Unless I count and you remember those Lee Nails from the 1976-ish era. Wherein you mixed some powders and water together and then butted up a metallic (nail shaped!) paper shield to your fingernail tips and tried to paint on an extension with the goop, and then "file to a natural tip" Yep! My fingernails looked like they had warts on the ends, those which I could actuallly successfully peel away from the shield. . .These look MUCH better!

Today's Costco Finds

Always on the lookout for something new to try -- from food to the back roads of Texas!

Monday, June 04, 2007

Hershey's Chocolate Syrup Doesn't Freeze

These were fun to make and even better to eat, albeit a little messy and deformed. I don't think "The Scent of Water" blogger has any competition from me. I ended up making 14 instead of the intended 7 because I misread the directions. I thought each little "sandwich" took 2 tablespoons each of the yogurt and Cool Whip. Duh, not!
From Nilla Wafers -- Nilla Yogurt Freeze (their version - 70 calories, but with the extra Hershey Syrup, probably a little bit more)

Cover bottom of cupcake paper with one Reduced Fat Nilla Wafer. Top with combined 2 tablespoons each thawed Cool Whip Lite and fat-free strawberry yogurt. (see, I missed the word combined). Add 1 wafer to top. Freeze until firm.

My version -- After putting wafer on the bottom, drizzle a little Hershey's Chocolate Syrup on top of cookie, then mix fat free vanilla (I'm allergic to strawberries) yogurt and the Cool Whip together in a bowl, adding some more swirls of Hershey's Syrup to make it look pretty and incorporate chocolate. Make as many treats until you empty the bowl of the yogurt/Cool Whip/Hershey mixture, by either filling paper cupcake liners or polishing off the rest with a spoon. (And this was from "Cooking Smart" magazine?!) Top with another cookie. Their photo had it on its side, but I was squeezing them into my freezer as it was. Also in hindsight I suppose if you used a metal cupcake pan to hold and freeze them in, they would look a little better. Next time! Maybe.

Today's Favorite iPod Workout Song

Ace Frehley, "New York Grove" 3:03 minutes
iTunes, Kiss: Ace Frehley Remastered
Today's stats - 45 minutes, 2.76 miles, 301 calories

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Yummy! Panna Cotta with Blueberries

This is from the April/May issue of Light and Tasty magazine on Page 52, "Trimmed Down Desserts" It takes a little bit of time -about 45 minutes- particularly for the berry sauce, but it's so worth it.

Panna Cotta with (Mixed) Berries (Mary Bergfeld)

1 envelope unflavored gelatin
3 cups whole (yes, whole!) milk
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup water
1/2 cup Spenda
2 cups frozen blueberries
1/2 cup grape juice
1/2 cup fresh blueberries (I just set some frozen aside to defrost)

In a medium saucepan, sprinkle gelatin over milk; let stand for 1 minute. Heat over low heat, stirring until gelatin is completely dissolved. Stir in sugar until dissolved. Stir in extract.

Pour into 6 6 oz. ramkins (I used the 1 cup size) coated with nonstick cooking spray. Cover and refrigerate until set.

Meanwhile in a medium saucepan (rinse and use the same one from the milk mixture part!), bring water and Splenda to a boil. (At this point I also added the grape juice and brought all three to a boil at the same time. No harm, no foul!) Add the frozen berries and juice, if you haven't already. Return to a boil. Reduce heat, simmer uncovered for 5 minutes. Mash and strain berries, reserving juice. Discard seeds. (But I kept them, I'll experiment and add to my smoothie tomorrow morning and report back. It tasted too good to toss.)

Return juice to the pan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, simmer uncovered for 5-10 minutes or until sauce is reduced to 3/4 cup. Pour this definitely staining hot syrup into a measuring cup?! Uh, no! I just went ahead and simmered for 7 minutes instead. Turned out fine. Transfer to a bowl; cover and refrigerate until chilled. Instead I used a quart sized yogurt container with a lid I can toss afterwards if necessary.

Unmold panna cotta onto dessert plates. Serve with sauce and berries.

Nutrition facts: 1 serving equals 174 calories, 4 g fat (3 g saturated), 17 mg cholesterol, 64 mg sodium, 27 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber, 6 g protein. Diabetic exchanges: 1 starch, 1/2 fruit, 1/2 milk.

By making this with whole milk instead of traditional cream, you save 336 calories, 44 g fat, 24 g saturated fat and 146 mg cholesterol. Wow!

(The original recipe called for 2 cups of frozen unsweetened mixed berries, 1/2 cup fresh raspberries in addition to the fresh blueberries, and you could also use 1/2 cup port wine instead of the grape juice.)

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Last year's/this year's Costco find

Last year, because I found these in November on clearance and thought they would make cool Christmas light decorations...

This year, because I finally put them in the side garden...and Costco brought them back! You'll find them in the garden/pool goodies area.

Look how cool they look! Each ball changes to all three colors, about 5-10 seconds apart. The toads and geckos think they've got a disco club!

Skirt Crazy

I know, it's now June 2 and did I sew/complete a skirt for May skirt month? Well, my intentions were good - I did get patterns and fabric to make skirts, but -- (excuse time) so too many activities, early dismissals, back and forth trips.

But I have to say, Ann Taylor Loft certainly stepped up to the plate. They had darling summer skirts stocked, and at their low prices, sales, and discount promotions, May was still Skirt Month for me.

I think I'm turning into a skirty-flirty girl. These are much more fun to wear, more flattering and cooler (heat and fashion-wise).

May showers bring June flowers

Finally the rain has stopped enough to put some new additions in the garden --

These are nicknamed, "Whirling Butterflies" Isn't that a great name? (Pink Cloud Gaura Lindheumerl). It's a Houston native so it should be very happy here.

And this is Pavonia Rock Rose, another repeat winner for me. It's really a brighter pink. I had one years ago and they get snatched up quickly at Another Place in Time. I lucked out, they just had a delivery of them. It loves the sun and poor soil, and is drought resistant.

Heliotrope is looking pretty and good! I wish it was cutable so I could bring in the yummy licorice/vanilla scent indoors, but it starts to wilt almost immediately. And the thraylis is blooming away.

Funky + Duck

Um, if you say these words close together, it sounds like something else!

We were all driving past a swampy from all the rain field and there were these odd-looking ducks, you know, those mutant-looking kind? So I said, "Look at the funky ducks!" L started cracking up - "MOM!" and DH did a double-take. I said, (making it worse) "They're funky!"

This is what happens when you develop a hybrid NY/TX accent!

Yesterday's Favorite iPod Workout Song

John Mellencamp, "Crumbling Down" 3:36
iTunes, "Uh-Huh!" (remastered)
Today's stats - 38 minutes, 2.28 miles, 254 calories
Had to squeeze this one in between dropping off L at school and then early dismissal.

Then I kept hubby company while L went on a 3 mile run. Combined I think I reached that (really unrealistic) American Heart Association goal of 90 minutes of exercise today!