Friday, July 30, 2010

Upcoming Jo-Ann's Pattern Sales

Founders' Super Weekend Sale - August 6/8

$3.99 Vogue (gonna grab those new Sandra Betzinas!)
$1.99 McCalls

August 1/14
$1.99 Butterick

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Netflix Stars - Purple Violets

3/5 stars - My goodness, who ISN'T in this movie?! (including uncredited Bill Hader) Ed Burns really is a jack-of-all trades in "Purple Violets" -- writing, directing, acting. What really struck me was the lighting throughout the scenes. Usually I don't notice or it doesn't really register. Perhaps because the movie did occasionally lag, but overall not a bad pick for your queue. Nice performance by Selma Blair, Debra Messing is second banana. Wonder if Donal Logue was speaking in his natural accent or if he American-ized it for "Grounded For Life'

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Grilled Chicken (sorta) from the Grilled Chicken and Spinach Salad with Spicy Pineapple Dressing from Cooking Light

Inspired by the July 2010 issue Cooking Light Grilled Chicken and Spinach Salad with Spicy Pineapple Dressing, at least these directions --

"1. Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Place chicken between 2 sheets of plastic wrap, and pound to an even thickness using a meat mallet or small heavy skillet. Sprinkle both sides of chicken evenly with chili powder and salt. Lightly coat chicken with cooking spray. Add chicken to pan; cook for 3 minutes on each side or until done. Remove from pan; set aside."

Only I used Penzeys California Style Seasoned Pepper and Smoky 4/S Special Seasoned Sea Salt. (I almost grabbed the Chili Con Carne and I think that would be a great less fiery substitute from the straight chili powder next time.)

My original intent was to make this salad, and I will eventually. However, comfort food combinations were needed that night (cheesy rice and green beans).
I liked the idea of using a package of Costco boneless chicken breasts, my meat hammer, grill pan and a great combination of Penzeys spices to cook up some chicken. Easy-peasy. And yummy!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Mango, Peach, Passion!

Actually, the commas and exclamation are not in this cereal's name by Peace Cereal, but they should be! Look at the pretty fair-sized bits of peach and mango, combined with the oat clusters and corn flakes - this tastes just like peach cobbler! Very filling, too. I can eat a bowl and then tackle the treadmill without running out of fuel. Found at Whole Foods for $4.99. I'll be going back for more and to see if they carry the other flavors. I also like the tasty fact it is low in sugar and fat. Here's the nutritional stats:

Serving size: 1 cup - 230 calories, 2.5g fat (0 sat, 0 trans), 320 mg sodium, 46g total carbohydrate, 2g fiber, 10g sugar, 4g protein.

Friday, July 23, 2010


I bought this "Peace" LeSportSac Asana Yoga Bag on eBags on clearance last month -- they have since sold out, but Amazon still has it for only $34.94. (Original price $56) Not only a cute print, it's also a great bag, plenty big enough to easily accommodate my rolled-up mat and Yogitoes towel without any #*%&-ing, especially after yoga class. Nothing like undoing all the blissful and mellow feelings before you even leave the building. (Perhaps it wasn't an accident my old canvas bag somehow bumped into a can of Diet Coke?!)

Imagine my surprise when trolling the DSW Clearance section...and I found MATCHING "Tortola" (Peace 969) wedgie flipflops! I didn't even know LeSportSac made shoes! And also on sale for $17.96 (40% off the mark-down price of $29.94, original price $39). If you also luck out and find these, you may want to go up a size, they run a bit small.

The box is cute, too -- there's even a grosgrain ribbon LeSportSac pull printed on both sides of the loop. While I wish it still had the cover lid - don't you hate it when they discard the lids when they clearance the shoes? Why do they do that? - I'll put it to good storage use in the sewing room. (I stash my flipflops in a covered wicker picnic basket near the front door for easy grab and go.)

Sometimes it is fun to be matchy-matchy! Especially in a cool print like this and on sale!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Thursday Tea Time

Cost: $7.99 at H.E.B.
Number of teabags: 22!
Caffeine: Yes
Type of tea: Black
Steeping time: 3 to 5 minutes, I went for 4 minutes since I would be adding milk for a traditional chai tea.
Mix ins: Skim milk and sugar. Next time I will try Fat-free Sweetened Condensed Milk as an alternative to the milk and sugar.
Teabag fragrance: Cinnamon, ginger, coconut...smells so heavenly! I even left the used teabag out for a few hours afterwards so I could still catch a whiff when I walked through the kitchen.
Ingredients: Indian black tea, cinnamon, ginger, cardamon pods, whole cloves, orange peels, nutmeg, black pepper, natural coconut flavor, natural cinnamon flavor. Even though it lists orange peel, and citrus fruit usually gives me migraines, I was able to drink and enjoy this without any headaches. Hooray!

Opinion: This is *the* tea everyone raves about and with good reason! It has a wonderful flavor, as you sip, you can taste the ginger and cinnamon and coconut, and then get a peppery kick. Perfect. Not the ack-ack peppery taste of other chais. And a pretty tin to boot!

Rating: 5+

Word is Zhena's will be debuting a Coconut Chai in a green tea version shortly! Can't wait!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Lois Update

Here's the most recent "Lois" the Corpse Flower picture, courtesy of the Houston Museum of Natural ScienceShare photos on twitter with Twitpic

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Bread Machine Buttermilk Bread

This recipe is from Betty Crocker's Bread Machine Cookbook, 1995 ISBN: 0-02-860367-2

As I've mentioned in previous postings, this is one great book. If you can find it, buy it! All the recipes are for 1 and 1 1/2 pound loaves - most machines can accommodate one or both of those sizes. I've put the ingredients for the 1 1/2 pound size in ( ).

The buttermilk made this bread super moist--and yummy! Give it a try next time you have extra buttermilk left over, or need an excuse to buy some. (I get the low-fat version.)


3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (1 1/4 cups) Buttermilk
2 tablespoons (3 tablespoons) Butter or Margarine, softened
2 tablespoons (3 tablespoons) Honey
2 1/2 cups (3 1/4 cups) Bread Flour
1 teaspoon (1 1/2 teaspoons) Salt
1/4 teaspoon (1/4 teaspoon - not a typo!) Baking Soda
1 teaspoon (1 1/2 teaspoons) Bread Machine Yeast

Place all ingredients in the order recommended by your machine's manufacturer.
Use Basic/White cycle, Medium or Light crust color. Do not use the delay cycle

Monday, July 19, 2010

Putting on the Feed Bag

Feed 100 Children for $10 bag at Whole Foods. A cute, sturdy bag for a good cause. . .

Whole Foods Market is providing 100 meals to kids via the World Food Program’s Rwanda School Feeding operation. Whole Foods already donated the $10 upfront and the costs to produce these high-quality, 100% organic cotton and natural burlap bags made as eco-friendly and fairly as possible in audited and certified facilities.

It's a good sized bag measuring in at 12" x 14". Copper rivets, compartment dividers and very sturdy with the burlap bottom. It folds and zips into an easy to carry 5" x 7" size. And I will enjoy using it.
However, I wish they would design one to benefit the hungry right here in the United States and help support our food banks, whose shelves are rapidly becoming depleted. So yes, if you can, buy a $10 bag to help Rwanda AND also make a $10 food donation in the grocery stores' red barrels, drop a bag off at your local food bank when you drive by, or even mail them a check - that's win-win. And hey, give them something good -- brand names every once in awhile, especially if there is a sale, buy 1 get 1 free promotion or coupon. There is also a need for healthy food - think sugar-free and low sodium items. When my daughter's Girl Scout troop helped out our food bank, the director mentioned how many of the families had underlying health issues, too -- Diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, the elderly or infirm needing soft foods like pudding, Jell-O, etc.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Friday, July 16, 2010

J.Jill Organic Cotton Jeans for only $19.99!

Organic cotton-blend boyfriend jeans - a different take on denim and the now ubiquitous chinos out there. Here's a fun, comfy and stylish alternative. Originally $89, now marked down to only $19.99! And with the J.Jill card $18.99?! - I bought two! 99% organic cotton, 1% Lycra Spandex. The oatmeal-colored fabric sort of reminds me of the painter's pants of the late 70's. I thought they had a slightly narrower, yet still looser, fit through the hips and thighs compared to the traditional blue denim version. Perhaps because the fabric weight and stiffness was a little bit lighter and softer. At first I passed these over because I had tried the traditional jean version a few months ago and they really didn't fit me. But the "Boyfriend Jean" styling, sitting slightly below the waist and a little bit slouchy, was more flattering and forgiving in the fit department. Unrolled, the inseam is 31 1/2" Definitely ballet flats or flip-flops if I want to wear them that way. But they just look super cute with sandals, boat shoes and sneaks, and help contain the style when you do a 2x 1-1/4" roll.

If you are shopping in the Houston area, I found these at the Memorial City Mall J.Jill store - they are on a rack in the center towards the right side. I think they just marked these down, there were still lots of them. They are also available at the $19.99 price on their website and in Petite sizes, too.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Thursday Tea Time

This week - Tazo Matcha Green Tea Latte concentrate
32 ounces - $3.99 at Super Target

"A soothing blend of traditional green teas with real honeydew melon"

Sounded quick, easy and cool on a 97 degrees in the shade day!
I mixed 3/4 cup of concentrate with 1 cup of skim milk, no added sugar or sweetener. I tried it iced; I put the carton in the refrigerator first. I'm thinking next time I may reduce the concentrate amount to 2/3. It has a pretty strong "grassy" green tea aftertaste. The honeydew melon flavor is discreet and seems to be mostly there for balance. It disappears before the green tea flavor kicks in.
Ingredients - water, matcha and other green teas, cane sugar, honeydew juice concentrate, natural fruit flavors.
4 ounces concentrate has 60 calories, 0g fat, 5 mg sodium, 16g total carbohydrate and 15g sugar
Opinion: If this is the same that Starbucks serves, you can certainly save some money and traveling time with this. I saw there were other flavor concentrates, including chai, on the shelf I would be willing to try. I also remember seeing a three-pack of the chai concentrate cartons at Costco, I think priced around $9.

Get your stink on!

We are all waiting for "Lois" the Corpse Flower to bloom at the Houston Museum of Natural Sciences. You can even follow her Tweets on Twitter! ( @CorpzFlowrLois ) And @hmns you can find additional Twitter updates and even haikus written to Lois. The museum is open around the clock right now, awaiting her "arrival" - click here for the latest official updates, links and videos.

Netflix Stars - Almost Famous

4/5 stars - I can't believe it took so long for me to see this (10 years?!). Everyone looked so young! Outstanding casting performances. (Billy Crudup looked a little like a scruffy John Oates from Hall & Oates.) A little hard for my millennium teen to grasp the era and all it entailed. (rotary dial phones?!) And and eye-opening history background for me - I was of the David Cassidy/Donny Osmond Top 40 bubblegum radio upbringing. Anyways, well worth adding to your queue if you haven't already, for those Netflix doldrum times. Did I mention I hate how they have to hold back new releases 30 days in order to give the studios time to sell in the stores and by PPV first?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Upcoming Jo-Ann's Pattern Sales

July 18-24 -- Butterick patterns 99 cents

July 25-31 -- 50% off notions wall

July 29-31 -- Simplicity patterns $1.99

July 18-31 -- 40% off Gutermann thread

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Spinach, Tomato and Fresh Mozzarella Pasta Salad

From the Cooking Light Fresh Food Fast Weeknight Meals, page 123. I found my copy at Costco for $14.99
All the recipes are 5 ingredient, 15 minutes!
This one is a perfectly yummy combination for hot summer days. Great Italian vinaigrette recipe, too. While fresh herbs would be best, I made do with dried (eyeballing it) and it was probably just as tasty.
Ingredients --
2 1/2 cups multigrain rotini pasta...2 cups grape tomatoes...6 ounces baby spinach...4 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, cubed.
Dressing - 1/4 cup red wine vinegar...2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leafed parsley...1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano or basil...2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil...1/4 teaspoon salt...1/4 teaspoon black pepper...2 garlic cloves, minced.
Cook pasta according to directions, omitting salt and fat. Rinse with cold water and drain. Combine dressing ingredients and stir with a whisk. Combine dressing and tomatoes in a large bowl. Add pasta and spinach, toss well and top with cheese.
4 servings - serving size is 1 1/2 cups salad, 2 tablespoons dressing.
As you can see, it is easy to substitute and play with the ingredients - bow tie for rotini, regular tomatoes for grape tomatoes, dried herbs for fresh. Even use bottled fat-free Italian dressing.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Netflix Stars - Bright Star

2.5 - if only for the cool fashion/sewing angle of Fanny Brawne. But even that couldn't hold our attention to this movie for very long. L read the book and said it was much better. Somewhat interesting enough to me - John Keats brought to life? Perhaps I may try it again later, and will definitely read the book at least.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Cooking Light - Hello Dolly Bars

Cooking Light - December 2007 - Hello Dolly Bars Also found on page 388 in the 2008 Annual Recipes book.

I used a 10" x 13" pan instead of a 9 x 9 pan. I also upped the graham cracker crumbs to almost 2 cups but kept the butter and water amounts the same. Don't fret about the lack of butter and crumbliness of the graham crackers, the condensed milk will seep down and help meld it all together. And don't skip lining the pan with parchment paper.

Hello Dolly Bars (aka Magic Bars, 7-Layer Bars)

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (about 9 cookie sheets)
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 tablespoon water
1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/3 cup butterscotch morsels
2/3 cup flaked sweetened coconut
1/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted
1 (15-ounce)* can fat-free sweetened condensed milk

Preheat oven to 350°.
Line the bottom and sides of a 9-inch square baking pan with parchment paper; cut off excess parchment paper around top edge of pan.
Place crumbs in a medium bowl. Drizzle with butter and 1 tablespoon water; toss with a fork until moist. Gently pat mixture into an even layer in pan (do not press firmly). Sprinkle chips and morsels over crumb mixture. Top evenly with coconut and pecans. Drizzle milk evenly over top. Bake at 350° for 25 minutes or until lightly browned and bubbly around edges. Cool completely on wire rack.

Nutritional Information (based upon 24 servings out of a 9 x 9 pan!)
Calories 123 (32% from fat)...Fat 4.4g (sat 2.3g,mono 1.3g,poly 0.6g)...Protein 2.1g...Carbohydrate 19.1g...Fiber 0.5g...Cholesterol 5mg...Iron 0.3mg...Sodium 64mg...Calcium 50mg

*as with everything nowadays, there's shrinkage in the packaging. My can was only 14 ounces. Not a crucial difference at all.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Netflix Stars - The Starter Wife

<---The 5 episode 2007 USA Network miniseries was so much better and more enjoyable than the 2008 TV series! ---> The TV series changed and deleted some of the stars of the miniseries, and took it in another direction. We ditched the 2008 version disc after about 20 minutes.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Thursday Tea Time

This week - Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf Apricot Ceylon
Cost: $8.20
Number of teabags: 20
Caffeine: Yes
Type of tea: Black
Steeping time: 5 minutes
Mix ins: Both ways - straight and with vanilla powder
Teabag fragrance: Definitely deliciously apricot
Ingredients: Ceylon black tea, marigold flower, natural and artificial flavorings.
Taste: Faint apricot flavor
Opinion: Disappointed. I wanted to like this - I love apricots! You can even see the slices of apricots in the teabag. I tried it hot with the vanilla powder and iced - with double teabags for extra oomph. What you smell isn't what you long for in the taste. Compared to their peach teas, which are strongly peachy-keen, this one's a bit wimpy.
Rating: 2.5

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Target Liberty of London box dimensions

Here are the dimensions (L x W x H) of some of the Target Liberty of London boxes:

Milk crate -- 11" x 10" x 8 1/4"
Media box -- 11" x 5 1/2" x 5"
Large tapered bin -- 14" x 12"(top), 10"(bottom) x 9 3/4"