Monday, December 31, 2007

The Fabric of Our Lives

The January 2008 issue of Texas Monthly has a great article about the Houston International Quilt Festival on Page 116. Author Michael Hall, son of quilting author and winner Jane Hall, followed his mom around during three days of Festival. Pick up your copy at Costco for $3.47. Or for you out-of-staters, the code is "HOUSTON" so you can read it online.

Box of Hershey's recipes

99 in fact, color coded, already alphabetized and divided (with dividers) into Cookies...Bars...Cakes...Desserts...Treats. Along with some of the classics, there are lots of recipes I haven't seen nor tried before, and I have just about all of the Hershey cookbooks. The tin box is decorated all around with vintage Hershey advertisements. Not only featuring chocolate of course, but recipes using their other products -- Heath bits for "Toffee Studded Snickerdoodles" and "Chewy Toffee Almond Bars"...white chips for the Lemon Bars. I found it at Costco (they also had the Joy of Cooking, Campbells Soup and Fix it and Forget It tins) for $9.99. If you were unsure whether to buy because it is sealed, go for it -- make your 2008 a little bit sweeter!

Eating Right Chicken with Wild and Red Rice Soup

While I was recuperating, L and T did the grocery shopping...and found this soup for the first night home. It was delicious! I loved the combination of the two rices, the grilled chicken pieces, carrots, corn, onions, bits of red and green bell pepper and celery, all which made it look very appetizing in the bowl. Purchased at Randall's, this is their store brand, Lucerne "Eating Right" line. So if you have a Safeway or local grocery carrying this line, you should be able to find it. One 18.6 can has two servings, with 8g whole grain and 3g fiber times 2. Calories 110, 2g total fat, 0.5g sat fat, 15mg cholesterol, 15g total carb, 3g sugars, 6g protein, 740mg sodium. Vitamin A 15%, Vitamin C 2%, Calcium 2%. My grade: ****/*****, only because of the sodium and the MSG.

Penzeys Oregano

Each Penzeys One magazine has a coupon for free spices, which you can use in the store or online-- The savings practically pay for the magazine! If you want to place your order online, here's the codes for a free 1/4 cup jar of Oregano - Turkish (31730C) or Mexican (31835C). The code expires January 7, 2008.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

I'm back!

And none the too worse for wear. Except whatever they put in the "Happy Juice" ("It'll hit you like a too-strong margarita," said the anesthesiologist -- boy, she wasn't kidding) before I went under made me dream about Nicolas Cage and crave a Taco Bell Taco Supreme afterwards!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Well, this is one way... keep me quiet -- for about an hour! Wish I could say it's for something glamorous. Any good thoughts and prayers will be appreciated tomorrow morning. (And my docs are all female, yay!)

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Sandra Betzina Interview Podcast

I just listened to it last night, from Sew Forth Now, Episode #19. Very enjoyable, very entertaining, very enlightening...very Sandra! Click here for the links.

Merry Christmas Ya'll!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

...And what did I buy with the cookbook refund?

The bag measures 15" x 15" with a 1/2" black fabric Kirkland Signature embroidered ribbon. Even on the tag Martha suggests reusing - "after washing - the bag for storing linens, cookie cutters, serving utensils and other kitchen items." Inside the label, recipes for two different glazes --Brown Sugar and Cognac Glaze and Whole Grain Mustard and Apricot Glaze. And a recipe for Split Pea Soup! Oh, and the ham itself--an almost 7 pounder, free of antibiotics, smoked over applewood chips, ready to heat and serve. How much fun will I have with this ham purchase?!


You all realize by now I am a sucker for a cookbook, and then when you combine Betty Crocker...with heart healthy recipes...and a shiny metallic cover - well, natch this hopped into my cart. But then I got home and opened it and realized it is the same 10th edition I bought earlier this year at the Costco. It's still a buy it if you don't have the 10th edition already (I still love and use my 1969/1978 edition!). You'll love the low fat, 20 minute, and slow-cooker/Crockpot recipes.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

O ($9.97) Christmas tree

Sometimes it saves to procrastinate -- An 8 foot Frasier Fir marked down to $9.97! Decorated with the new Phillips retro-sized cracked ice lights, with every 5th light flickering...making picture taking fun!

Fashionably Late with Stacy London on TLC

Love, love this show! I only wish I could have some luck finding the featured recipes. (My apologies to those Googling and hoping I had them here. But I can tell you where to get the fabric for Stacy's apron.) I was watching the repeat this afternoon and noticed the apron fabric Stacy was wearing during the cooking segment was the same Paris Eiffel Tower fabric I have in my stash! (blogged about June 24) Between gawking at those huge brownie cookies they were making by the fistful and trying to focus on the apron at the same time, I recall the pockets trimmed in black -- what a great idea! I only have it in a fat quarter, but I think I'm going back to Quilter's Emporium for more to make an apron, too! The fabric is "Friends Around the World" by Judie Rothermel for Marcus Brothers Textiles, Inc.

Friday, December 21, 2007

15% discount coupon code for

AAANY - 15% off coupon

There are lots of 10% off codes out there right now, there's one from their commercial on Dish TV-I think it's DISH, and even on their shipping box - BX497. I had to dig around for this one and it worked as of last week.

I have ordered from them twice now and am very impressed with their product selection and service. Only drawback, you can only use one code, so if you have a free shipping coupon and a discount, you can't use them together. Unless your order is over $60, then you get free shipping automatically. But I still saved big with my order of Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue. 1) They had the smaller size I wanted, 2) I didn't have to spend the gas and time, trying to find parking, fighting the crowds at the mall, and 3) another bonus percentage savings -- no sales tax, unless you are in NY.

Congratulations, it's a litter of wisdom teeth!

For those of you playing along with the home version of just how many teeth can my daughter grow, they just found another wisdom tooth, upper right...and maybe even the beginning of another upper left! So that's 6, maybe 6.25.
Update: He only took out 6...with a watch and wait to see if any more should develop further. L is doing great!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Yesterday's and Today's Favorite iPod Workout Songs

The Waitresses, "Christmas Wrapping" 5:24
20th Century Masters - Season's Greetings
Ace of Base, "Beautiful Life" 3:40
The Bridge

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

I give up on McCalls! (re-edited)

I've never had good luck with getting McCalls to fit me, even as a pre-teen stick shape, but I love their designs. I decided to give them one more chance with McCall's 5469 "Pullover Tent" (Tunic) from the last $1.99 sale at Jo-Ann's. Good thing I only paid that instead of the $15.95 list price. Not only a waste of $2 but a waste of 3 yards and a waste of 60 minutes and waste of fantasy. OK and waste of sanity.
I tried to make View B, the pink top in a nice top-weight jersey knit, I realized it would be a little voluminous, so it wasn't a fabric error on my part. I couldn't really pin-fit, the front piece was huge and unwieldy! (and not a good time cutting out, either - it hung over the the cutting table edge! Really, I should have just stopped right then and there.) That piece was so big, you even had to tape an extension! And then the pleats, I figured what the heck and decided to just go for it. But I should have studied the photo more closely -- now I look and see all that fabric bunching on the left side. Easily I could have gone down two sizes, but alas, their pattern sizing/envelope combinations are XS-S-M and L-XL. I guess McCalls now has vanity sizing -- Albeit flattering to fool myself I'm a Small (!), if other mere mortals were to buy this pattern based upon their measurements, they will also be disappointed and frustrated it's just way too big. All over.

Today's Costco Find

You can save $20 and get the 2008 Cooking Light Annual Recipes for only $14.99. Right now through December 24, Costco is automatically knocking $4 off their $18.99 price at the register.

Also, T, you would have been so proud of me, I did not follow nor ask the lady who had a Martha Stewart ham in her cart if I could have her cloth bag. She actually looked a little like me and maybe was buying the ham for the bag, too.

1 + 1 = $300 Kitchenaid Mixer?

Yup, when you are talking Christmas gifts for the teacher! Is Santa being too good some teachers? Click to read the article in today's Houston Chronicle. My Dad was a high school English and History teacher, and the only gift I could remember him getting was a jar of yummy homemade caramels because the family couldn't afford to pay for tutoring. The boy going from a 3rd grade reading level to attaining a high school reading level at the end of the year was payment in full for my Dad. And back then, teachers didn't get paid diddly-squat and not during the summer months either. He truly had the love and the gift for teaching, if not recognized monetarily. Even at my daughter's school, collections for store gift cards and American Express cards in the three figures are the norm. My Dad would have flipped.

And speaking of gifts (and reading skills), my postal carrier shouldn't be expecting something special. The house two streets over with the same house number is for sale and vacant, and I've been getting their mail occasionally. And then thinking, if I'm getting Mr. X's mail, some of my mail could be in his box. I realize my carrier probably isn't thrilled with our route and has to work extra hard, as we always get LOTS of mail, every postal day, some of it not even ours. So I happen to see her as she is putting up the mail and I say, "Hello!" I receive a scowl in return. I get my mail and head back towards the car and then think hey, this may be a good opportunity to let her know Mr. X's house is vacant and I've been getting his mail and was hoping my mail wasn't sitting in his box. "Oh, it's not,' she says, 'I know WHO YOU ARE!!!" But that's not said in a nice way. Yikes! She then lays into me about her schedule, and when did I get his mail, she was off last week, she doesn't work Mondays (?), yack, yack, yack, yack, yack. I start back stepping towards my car and she's still blabbing. The last thing I want to do is piss off the postal carrier, then we'll never get our Washington Post Weekly Edition even in the same month it's published, so I just say "Uh, Merry Christmas" and leave.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Martha Food

I saw the first of the Martha Stewart food at Costco yesterday -- The ham for $3.99 a pound. How tempted was I to open the Martha logo drawstring cloth bag it came in, tear off the price tag, dump out the ham and stuff the bag into my purse?!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Case Clothed

Hmm, why does Laura Bennett look so much like a red-haired vintage Barbie? Because this cool comic strip, Case Clothed, is illustrated by fellow PR alum and Barbie guy, Robert Best! Love her dressform's name, Amanda Kin!

Netflix Stars - Waitress

Finally, an almost 5-star movie! We give it 4.5 stars. I turned right around and watched it again with the commentary on. There were some great lines that still have me smiling as I type. Andy Griffith was a delight. Be sure to watch the DVD's special features.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Quilty As Charged

By Spike Gillespie, 2007, ISBN: 978-0-292-70599-9 (Library Call No. 746.46)
In the beginning of the book, Spike tries her hand at quilting. As a result, it leads her down the path towards some very interesting conversations with quilters who have made their stitches known in quilt world. Interspersed throughout the pages are touching stories of how quilting impacted the lives of regular people. She attends the Houston International Quilt Festival, talks to some of the winners...including Arlene Blackburn with the truth behind the rumors of the destruction of her quilt, "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Elvis" in 2002. (That's worth the price of admission right there.) I also enjoyed her interviews with Bob Ruggerio and Karey Bresenhan. A good read, especially if you love the details on how and what inspires these artists.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

OMG! Flashdance Jack

...hysterical! (source credit: Blogging Project Runway)

And Tim's Take is back! But not on iTunes (yet?)

Merry Christmas, Tinsel Tim!

The perfect gift for Secret Santa-giving and you have to keep it under $3. And it's a black ink pen, too! "Tinsel Tim" also comes in green and you'll find it at CVS.

Chewy Ginger Wedges (Trees!)

Credit L for this idea -- With sprinkles the wedges became decorated Christmas trees for the school bake sale today! This is one of our favorite recipes, which is from Pillsbury's Fast and Healthy magazine (May/June 1993). (And yes, that is last year's Costco wire ribbon...with gold trees!)


1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup canola oil
1/4 cup molassess
1 egg white
2 cups flour
2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon (Penzeys Ceylon for pow!)
1 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cloves
Heat oven to 375. Grease bottoms only of two 9" pie pans. In large bowl, combine brown sugar and oil. Beat 2 minutes or until well-blended. Add molassses and egg white. Beat an additional 2 minutes. Stir flour and all remaining ingredients into brown sugar mixture, blend well. Divide dough into 2 parts; press in bottom of greased pans. (Sprinkle with sprinkes/jimmies and press lightly into surface.) Press around edge with fork. Score each lightly into 16 wedges. Bake at 375 for 13-15 minutes or just until edges begin to brown and center is set. My oven I do 6/6 minutes, switching racks. Cool, cut into wedges.

Fudge socks

My husband makes about eleventy-billion varieties of fudge for Christmas gifts. And I make just as many bags, or as he calls them, "socks." Recognize the Costco ribbon? And that green fabric is circa 1986 (not carbon-dated, but old business card-dated!). The bags are approximately 7" x 11" -- easily socking a zip-loc of chocolate (dark, milk and white with peanut butter, almonds, walnuts, pecans, peppermint, Heath bits...) goodies. Thank goodness we finally packed them last night. Out of sight, out of mouth and tummy!

B.L.T. #311

I tried Linda MacPhee's BLT (Best of Linda's Tops) cross-over top pattern #311 from the MacPhee Workshop. I loved it on another Peggy from our ASG, and thought it might work for this Peggy. It was a well-constructed pattern, all the pieces went together well, and I really liked the way she combined the shoulder and back neck seams. However, I traced, cut, and sewed the wrong size. While Linda says it is a fitted pattern and you may want to adjust accordingly or go up a size which I did. It ran really big on me -- especially in the waist, hips and sleeve arm width. I could have easily gone down two sizes. My operator errors were trying to remember the included 3/8" seam allowance and using a really cheapy thin fabric for the trial run. I think if you follow Linda's and the other Peggy's fabric suggestions and use a good Slinky-type or heavier knit, you will be pleased with the results.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Cooking Light's Gingerbread Squares

This is from the "Dessert" book of the Cook's Essential Recipe Collection series, which Costco was selling last year along with "Italian," "Chicken," "Pasta," "Slow Cooker," and "Soup." So cute, so square, so yummy (the books..and the gingerbread!) ISBN 0-8487-3006-6. Page 56.
1 1/4 cups flour...1 teaspoon ground ginger...1 teaspoon ground cinnamon*...1/2 teaspoon baking soda...1/2 cup sugar...1/2 cup low fat buttermilk...1/2 cup dark molasses...1/3 cup butter, melted...1 large egg, lightly beaten...1 tablespoon powdered sugar
Preheat oven to 350. Combine flour, ginger, cinnamon and baking soda, stirring with a whisk. Combine sugar and next four ingredients in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Stir in flour mixture. Pour batter into 9" square baking pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack.
Sprinkle gingerbread with powdered sugar. Yield 25 servings (!) Serving size is 1 3/4" square. Good luck with that.
84 calories (30% from fat), 2.8g fat (1.6g sat, 0.8g mono, 0.2g poly) 1.1g protein, 14g carb, 0.2g fiber, 15mg chol, 0.7mg iron, 61mg sodium, 22mg calcium
*I use Penzeys Korintje Cassia Cinnamon. It's a good cinnamon for baking!

Juan-Carlos Cruz' Oven Fried Chicken (with buttermilk!)

This is from his "Calorie Countdown Cookbook," (2007) page 202. (ISBN 978-1-592-40258-8)

Oven-Fried Chicken Breasts

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts*...1/3 cup buttermilk...1/4 cup seasoned breadcrumbs...1 tablespoon freshly grated Parmesan...1 teaspoon paprika...1 teaspoon dried thyme...1/2 teaspoon garlic salt...1/4 teaspoon cayenne.

Place chicken breasts in a resealable plastic bag and add the buttermilk. Seal the bag and lay flat to soak the chicken breasts evenly. Refrigerate for 1 to 4 hours. (I usually flip it every 30 minutes). Preheat the oven to 425F. Place a wire rack above a sheet pan. Combine the bread crumbs, Parmesan, paprika, thyme, garlic salt and cayenne in a shallow dish. Dredge each chicken breast in this mixture and place on the rack-lined sheet pan. Bake 20 minutes (15 for thinner tenders) or until bread crumb mixture is nicely browned and chicken breasts are cooked through.

Calories 175, fat 3g, sat fat 1g, carb 7g, protein 30g, cholesterol 70mg, fiber 1g

*I use one package of Costco's prepackaged skinless/boneless chicken breasts. Even though there are only 2/package, they are huge and easily feed us with leftovers. I also use Kraft's Shredded Parmesan cheese.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Free Christmas holiday music downloads from iTunes

I am really enjoying the free songs from iTunes. (Though I passed on Michael Bolton and you all know I did for the Carol of the Bells!) I just got "O Come O Come Emmanuel" by Carter's Chord, "It Came Upon A Midnight Clear" by Jaci Velasquez today, and "Sleigh Ride" by Los Straitjackets a few days ago. Nice to discover otherwise-never-heard-of artists and to jostle up the Winter Songs playlist.

Ho, ho, ho and a bottle of buttermilk

Thank goodness I redeemed myself with a bottle of buttermilk (low fat) and made Juan Carlos Cruz's ovenfried chicken tenders and Cooking Light's gingerbread for dinner last night. I'll post the recipes later today. While not a readily assumed combo, when the ingredients only call for less than a cup and you still have to buy even the smallest bottle with leftovers, I flip through my notebook for the buttermilk recipes. (Cooking Light seems to have the edge in the buttermilk department. They have an awesome banana bread recipe.) I know, people have told me to freeze it, but it ultimately turns into a science experiment gone bad so I just go back to the store and spend the 99 cents. . .
And the gingerbread is seasonal, so I think that's a bonus double play, right?

Update: That one bottle not only made the chicken and the gingerbread, but also Everyday Food's Coffee Cake muffins (#32, May 2006) Saturday morning.

Sometimes being virtuous isn't much fun

or tasty! Yuck to the Vegetable Lentil Soup... Before I clog my disposal, I'll give it another try for lunch in case it got better overnight. (and it serves 4?! Gosh, it made a bucketful!)

This is cooler!

Discovered on Shawn's Everything and Nothing blog --

Type in your Zip Code to get the sales and deals for different grocery stores, including Whole Foods, Super Target, the ones you usually don't get in the mail or the weekly Food newspaper section!

Monday, December 10, 2007

That's cool!

A cool front - I just noticed my weather pixies have Christmas trees and there's 15 degree difference in temperature between the 2 airports. Some days it doesn't take much to thrill me. . .

Who knew? More adventures with Everyday Food

I'd like parsnips, too?! But not L - she gagged. T was across town, I knew enough not to even try with him. Oh well! They were easy enough to fix, so, more for me! These were the Honey Roasted Parsnips on page 132. I was surprised they were sweet before even adding the honey. I'm certainly exploring the produce section hand in hand (hand to mouth?) with Martha's guidance.

Yes, I am still plowing through the Everyday Food December 2007 issue! Later today I'm trying the Vegetarian Lentil Soup without the croutons on page 119.

Today's Favorite iPod Workout Song

Howard Jones, "Lift Me Up" 3:39
In the Running

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Netflix Stars - The Nanny Diaries

The book by Emma Mclaughlin and Nicola Kraus is so much better, but this wasn't that bad of a movie adaptation. Good to pop in when there's nothing else to watch. But would we see it again or buy it? No. Alicia Keys was a surprise and nice addition. (Listen for her song, "No One" playing in the background at the bar) We give it a 2.75/5.0

Bake to Beat Breast Cancer

I discovered the Susan Komen Bake for the Cure website in the December issue of Family Circle magazine. You'll find on page 190 the recipe for Fleischmann's 1-Dish Hot Fudge Swirl

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Everyday Food #48 - Turkey Cutlet with Cauliflower Saute'

It was OKaaaay and seemed to be a lot of work and a little pricey for a cooking for one dinner. I tripled it for us. The veggies limped on the plate but tasted better than they looked. But it turns out I like good-for-you power cauliflower! Everyday Food - December 2007 issue #48, page 60

If you aren't killing plants, you aren't really stretching yourself as a gardener!

I like that quote, too, Brenda Beust Smith! Click here for this week's Lazy Gardener column in the Houston Chronicle for a photo of the statue with this saying and other holiday gifts for gardeners.

Target Finds

"Uh, only you would see a package of Happy New Year necklaces and visualize them as tinsel decorations on a tree?!"

And I'm going to use these to sprinkle on top of the Rice Krispie bars for the upcoming (another!) bake sale. Aren't the tiny gingerbread people cute?

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Pumpkin Pie Yogurt

Chalk this one up to: See product/buy product/eat product/then read the back label!!?? Ack!

I just tried Lucerne (Randalls/Safeway store brand) Limited Edition Pumpkin Pie Low Fat Yogurt. It had me at Low Fat and Pumpkin Pie.

It looked, tasted and had probably about the same calories as a small slice of pumpkin pie, minus the crust. The color was exact, even with spice flecks. So, if you'd like a piece of pumpkin pie without the entire pie taunting you to finish it later, this could do it for you and save you fat grams and calories in the overall big picture. And if you need 80% of your daily requirement of Vitamin A, another point in the win column.

Here's the label -- 8 ounces, 230 calories, fat grams 25 - total fat 2.5, sat. fat 1.5g, cholesterol 15mg, sodium 170mg, total carb 44g, fiber 1g, sugars 41g, protein 10g. Vitamin C 6%, Calcium 35%, Iron 2%
Good thing it is limited edition. . .

PR4 Ep4

Well, wah! I liked Chris! And I actually liked at least the neckline of his dress. I feel he was forced into the jacket, perhaps if he made a dress with shoulder pads and using that neckline instead? I also liked Sweet P's dress. The only thing I liked about winner Jillian's outfit was the blouse.

OK. Why are they keeping Ricky-because of his hat collection?! It can't be because of his sewing and fitting skills, ie the pins from last week and the dress from this week.

And what is with these group challenges? This is the second one already! I would love to see these designers flesh out their talents, not their personality clashes. All this episode did was turn me off of Victorya. Though I suppose Bravo thinks it makes for good TV. But was anyone else a little suspicious of how easily they formed their groups?* Are they that clique-y already? After this and with past history repeating itself, why would anyone want to be a Team Leader?

*Not at all like the almost-repressed memories of chosing teams in 6th grade gym class and doing the obstacle course to Herb Albert's Tijuana Brass songs! Whenever "A Taste of Honey" plays on XM, I tell L I used to try and climb a rope to this song!

Spice Girl

I'm a big fan of Penzeys Spices, but nothing can top Adams Ground Cumin. And it's made in Texas, so you know it is perfect for Tex-Mex! I used it in the Vegetable Enchiladas. We can also vouch for their Adams Best Vanilla and other flavored extracts. Kroger has the best selection and prices in the Houston area.

Today's and yesterday's favorite iPod workout songs

Mariah Carey, "All I Want for Christmas is You" 4:03
Merry Christmas

Cat Stevens, "Tuesday's Dead" 3:36
Teaser and the Firecat

In case you are wondering why I am no longer posting the stats is that I now go for one of three goals - Walk 3 miles...burn 300 calories...walk one hour. If I push myself, I can hit the 300 calorie mark within 45-47 minutes; which is what I've been doing lately and is about 2.80 miles.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Vegetable Enchiladas - Everyday Food #48

Another winner from the December, 2007 issue #48 on page 74. The sauce - just like the restaurant kind, only better! I used Borden's reduced fat 4-Cheese Mexican blend, as it was hard to find straight pepper Jack cheese...which I thought was a good trade off, as I could only find regular and not reduced sodium vegetable broth. In any case, it turned out fantastico!
Good to note, you can prep all this in advance and freeze for those crazy nights.

This is a great issue, grab it while it's still on the newsstands!

For tomorrow, the turkey cutlets before the cauliflower goes bad, if it hasn't already. (At $2.49; I hope it didn't!)

Land O Lake's Annual Warm Up the Holidays recipe brochure

...features butter of course, and chocolate! Go to for the brochure or to download the recipes. (These are the Chocolate Caramel Drizzle Bars)

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

I need a man!

Of ginger! People, everything is bigger in Texas...including the 2007 edition gingerbread man in Smithville. Home of "Hope Floats" and adorable real-life gingerbread bungalows. Sigh, T and L seriously fear I will chuck it all and move my sewing room to this burb. God bless the WWW, USPS, UPS and DISH-TV. I could do it! I'll even volunteer at the library for their "Little Bookworms" program when I'm not stitching and drinking myself silly. . .
I love Smithville, it has the closest 7-Eleven to Houston. While I am not a coffee nor Starbucks fan, I like my seasonal drinks (of the cappucino and latte type) from the machine and getting punched on my Cafe Combinations card (purchase 6 hot beverages, get the 7th free. 7-Eleven, you are so clever).

Remembering our soldiers during the holidays

Has your email inbox been flooded by well-meaning friends suggesting sending holiday cards and gifts to our soldiers at Walter Reed Hospital? Unfortunately, this will not work.

Click here for the back story and other alternatives to show our support.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Marshall Zukoff had nothing on the Girl Scouts! Junior Girl Scout Edition

Not only did she fill the vest, but also a sash, too! She didn't wear both at the same time, the sash is more a place to keep and not lose the patches.

Same troop, they stayed together for Junior Girl Scouts. Unfortunately, the leader moved at the end of the three years and the troop disbanded, along with the South Texas Council. We tried to find a Cadette troop, but it wasn't a good fit with the girls who had also been together forever and the leader who didn't give a flip. L tried for a year and a half and finally gave up.

Thank goodness the Girl Scouts have the Juliette program, named after Juliette Gordon Low, the founder of Girl Scouting, where you can still be a Girl Scout albeit without belonging to a troop. Because the San Jacinto Council is the second largest council in the US, there were and are plenty of opportunities and events to participate as a Juliette. I think it is especially great way to keep girls in scouting. Cadettes (6th-9th grades) are often outta-there at this level and drop out. At this age, there are other opportunities-sports, band, school-competing for the girls' time, and you can't discount bitchy mean girls of this age. Yikes! Fortunately, L wanted to stay in scouting and earn the Gold Award. She's had a lot of fun meeting other nice girls (yes, there are still some out there!) and is looking forward to beginning her Gold Award project this summer.

Click on photos to enlarge

Here's a link to her Brownie vest

L's vest has been featured on the Web! Here it is on AboveGroundPool

Marshall Zukoff had nothing on the Girl Scouts! Brownie edition

Is what my husband the history major used to say when he would see L's Girl Scout vests! When L decided she wanted to switch from the Senior Girl Scout sash to the vest, it was a fun trip down memory lane to look at her Brownie and Junior Girl Scout vests. She was so fortunate to be in two very active, very fun Brownie troops - one at her school, the other in our neighborhood, as evidenced by all the Try-It's and patches.
Click on the photos to enlarge


Here's a small collection of L's Girl Scout SWAPS (Special Whatchamacallits Affectionately Pinned Somewhere) and a neat link to a collector's website. I thought the angels might be a fun project for a troop, crafting afternoon or Christmas gift tags. The center is a paperclip with a pony bead threaded through 1/4" ribbon. The angel pin is three pony beads, a 6-sided faceted bead, a wooden bead topped with a 1/2" sequin.


L and I went to Steve & Barry's to check out Project Runway's winning design for Sarah Jessica Parker's Bitten line. As mentioned on other blogs, the burgundy color was selling more than the black. But you would think they would pair the vests with the tops--they were in a display in another section, not even on a rack near them. For grins I tried them on, and actually liked the top! The vest wasn't cut right to fit me - too big in the underarms and too tight when buttoned. Definitely a younger look. But I did find another vest - navy pinstripe which fit perfectly and looked nice with it. The top by itself looked a little too Lucy Ricardo is pregnant with Little Ricky smock top, but with the vest it actually looked pretty good - enough for me to buy. Along with a pair of Bitten purple cords -- for $9.98! And with a 34" inseam! (narrow enough leg to work with flats or boots) Note the flap pockets, suspender buttons and belt loop details in a 98% cotton/2% spandex blend. Not bad. I mean, really, corduroy jeans, long enough and less than $10?! You had me the minute I stuck my foot in the leg. They also came in two shades of gray and black. The vest is dry clean only, lined, with real welted pockets - 60% wool/36% polyester/4% spandex. (There was also a matching pencil skirt in the same fabric). The PR top is 69% cotton/28% polyester/3% spandex. I saw all ages perusing the SJP racks, though L wasn't that interested. I was surprised to see the 30-40 somethings in the dressing room...And they all liked the PR top!

Santa's Shoppers!

Yesterday L and I took advantage of Kohl's incredible toy sale, Early Bird discount and Kohl's Kash to play Santa's elves for the LBJ Hospital Toy Drive. We got all these for only $11.57; including tax! We were shocked to calculate we saved over $50!

Oatmeal Pecan Cookie Mix

This is from the November/December issue of Simple & Delicious. Normally I don't post recipes from current issues, but Taste of Home's sister publication, Simple & Delicious is sometimes hard to find on the newsstands. But if you can find it or you already have it, the recipe is in their Express Lane section on page 11. If you don't feel like baking to gift, you can layer the ingredients in a 1 quart jar to give as a present!

Oatmeal cookies are a hard sell in our house. We tried the Everyday Food "Healthy Oatmeal Cookies" (Issue #45), and they bombed. But what intrigued me with this one was -- Rice Krispies and pecans! No chocolate chips, no spices to wonk the taste. I gave it a chance and it succeeded! I reduced the butter by one tablespoon without any noticeable difference. Next time I will increase the pecans to 3/4 cup - yum!

1 cup flour...1/2 cup sugar...1/2 teaspoon baking soda...1/2 teaspoon baking powder...1/2 cup packed brown sugar...3/4 cup old-fashioned oats (not quick oats)...1/2 cup chopped pecans...1 cup crisp rice cereal.

Additional ingredients: 1/2 cup butter, softened...1 egg...1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a small bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking soda and baking powder. If you are gifting and not baking - in a 1 quart glass jar, layer the flour mixture, brown sugar, oats, pecans and rice cereal, packing well between each layer (it will look pretty!). Cover and store in a cool dry place for up to 6 months.

Include the prep instructions with your gift tag -

To prepare: In a large mixing bowl, cream butter until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. Gradually add cookie mix. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls 2" apart on greased baking sheets. Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown. Cool for 2 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks.
Yield: About 3 dozen
Source: Beverly Woodcock

Ham and Swiss Sandwich - Everyday Food #48

Simple sandwich ingredients, great spread! Who knew combining light mayonnaise with Dijon mustard and dill could zip it up so? The proportions for one sandwich are 2 tablespoons/2 teaspoons/1/4 teaspoon. I'm not even a big fan of pumpernickel bread but it looked and tasted so good. Everyday Food - December 2007 issue #48, page 52.