Monday, May 30, 2011

Red, White and Blueberry Muffins!

My favorite go-to fast and healthy muffin recipe!

(Click here for the Chocolate Chip Muffin version)

I had just a little over a cup of blueberries in the freezer-perfect! And leftover on sale holiday (Christmas this time. Keep Christmas in your heart and money in your wallet!) cupcake liners. Festive is festive, I say. Sprinkle some white Sparkle Sugar...and red sugar (crossing fingers it wouldn't look too vampire-y!) and you've got yourself a tasty, pretty and patriotic muffin.

Red, White and Blueberry Muffins

2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar (just a bit less)
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup milk
3 tablespoons oil
1 egg, beaten

1 cup of blueberries

1/4 teaspoon Penzey's Cake Spice, optional

A splash of vanilla or almond extract, optional

Heat oven to 375. Line 12 muffin cups with paper baking cups. In medium bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and cake spice - mix well. In small bowl, combine milk, oil and egg (I also add a splash of vanilla extract), blend well. Add to dry ingredients, stir just until moistened. Add blueberries. Bake for 18-23 minutes or until light golden brown. (start checking around 16 minutes). Cool for one minute, remove from pan and serve warm. If there are any left over, these also freeze well.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Netflix Stars - Dear John

3.75 stars - I had heard this was pretty much panned in the theaters, and didn't have high expectation for it. But it was better than I thought it would be. It was well-told, and I liked the fact that it didn't quite follow a formulatic story art nor end the way I thought it would. Besides, I LOVED The Notebook (but this is not of the same caliber or Kleenex rating) and evidently this helps prove that Nicolas Sparks can tell a love story well. Only drawback was the casting and acting of Channing Tatum. Sort of a Keanu Reeves look-a-like and act-a-like. Can't wait to try the "thumb over the moon" trick!

Moonflowers bloomed last night!

This was taken at 7:20 PM, just as they were starting to open. The first two blossoms of the season. Absolutely intoxicating fragrance!! The flowers measure six inches across. I love the "starfish" in the center. They are very easy to grow. Soak the seeds overnight and the next day either sow directly into the ground or in little starter containers. I went the latter route this year, germinating eight to transplant, of which I ended up with three plants. Not bad really, in previous years I've had "Moonflowerganza" with just one. What a trooper bloomer--one night no less than 11 opened, scenting not only the State of Texas but my house inside!

Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

Friday, May 27, 2011

Chocolate Chip Pudding Cookies

This recipe was from the inside of a Jell-O Instant Pudding box circa 1980-1981? It's a favorite cookie to make, but it makes A LOT! Perfect when you need mass quantities. As I did for a picnic this past weekend. I used Kroger brand's Chocolate Fudge for an extra dose of chocolate. Usually I use the vanilla. I also added sprinkles to the batter for a extra bit of color and fun.

2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 stick unsalted butter
1 stick margarine
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 package instant pudding mix, 4 portion size
2 eggs
1 package chocolate chips, 12 ounces

Mix flour with baking soda. Combine butter, margarine, the sugars, vanilla and pudding mix in a large bowl. Beat by hand until smooth and creamy. Beat in eggs, gradually add to flour mixture. Stir in chips, the batter will be stiff. Drop rounded spoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 375 for 8-10 minutes.

Makes between 4-5 dozen cookies

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Thursday Tea Time

This week - Third St. Chai Black Tea Latte "Spicy Ginger"

Cost: $4.99 at Whole Foods

Number of teabags: N/A, it's a liquid concentrate - 32 fl. ounces

Caffeine: Yes

Type of tea: Black

Mix ins: Skim milk

Fragrance: Hoo-ey! GINGER!!

Ingredients: Filtered water, evaporated cane juice, Fair Trade black tea, cardamon, clove, cinnamon, ginger, black pepper, fennel, nutmeg, citric acid. All organic save the citric acid and water.

Opinion: I thought I would like this, but I did not. I tried it cold, I tried it hot. It is very strong, very gingery-hot; and I only used 1/3 concentrate to 2/3 skim milk. While I usually don't like a chai with black pepper, I was willing to give it a try, based upon the other interesting-sounding combination of ingredients.

Rating: 0

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Netflix Stars - Life As We Know It

3.5 stars - A not bad romantic comedy. Great chemistry matchup between Josh Duhamel and Katherine Heigl. Kudos to the casting director for pairing what who I would not have guessed would work together so well. Probably the best part of the movie are their scenes together - funny, touching and endearing all rolled into one.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Netflix Stars - The Sure Thing

4/5 stars - A blast from 1985, both from the past and very enjoyable to watch. And another movie directed by Rob Reiner, is almost assured it is a goodie, too. It starts a little slow, but stick with it as it picks up momentum. Look for fellow baby-faced stars Daphne Zuniga, Anthony Edwards, Tim Robbins and Nicollette Sheridan. I have noticed in three of my favorite John Cusack movies, he makes reference to the stars. Pay attention to the beginning scenes. Remember in "Serdendipity" he points out the Casseopeia constellation? And in "Must Love Dogs" - Halley's comet? Hmmm....wonder if he's a closet astronomer?

Monday, May 23, 2011

Today's Favorite iPod Workout Song

Tinie Tempah, featuring Eric Turner (UK Radio version) - "Written in the Stars" - 3:27

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Netflix Stars - 127 Hours

2.75 stars - I just had to see what all the fuss was about. It was, OK. Oscar-worthy? I'm not too sure about that. Spent part of the time with a pillow in front of my face. Warning - it is a bit graphic!

Speaking of graphic, I also returned "The Kids are Alright" That was just awful.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Flowers From Friday

Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

Today is also my 32nd anniversary of moving to Texas!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Upcoming Jo-Ann's Pattern Sales

Stock-up Sale - May 22/June 11
40% off Gutermann thread

Sew & Save - May 29/June 4
50% off all sewing scissors, including Gingher!

Memorial Day Sale - May 27/30
5 for $5 Simplicity
50% off buttons
50% off notions

May 31/June 4
$1.99 McCall's
$3.99 Vogue

June 9/11
$1.99 Butterick

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Thursday Tea Time

This week - Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf Swedish Berries Fruit Infusion
Cost: $8.20 at The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf
Number of teabags: It is Loose Fruit Infusion tea, there's 5.7 ounces
Caffeine: No
Type of tea: Herbal
Steeping time: 7 minutes
Mix ins: CBTL Fat-free Vanilla Powder. I also heard to try it iced with just some honey.

Tea fragrance: Fruity. Maybe it's elderberry, but I've never sniffed/tasted an elderberry before.

Ingredients: Hibiscus, elderberries, raisins, blueberries, black currants
Opinion: It was the featured herbal tea yesterday. I tried it as an iced tea latte in the store -- TWICE! It was that good! And pretty color, too - I couldn't resist snapping a pic with my cell phone. Great tea for the summer, I almost called it Summer Berries. Dig out your infuser or tea bag papers.

Odd that a tea with the name, Swedish Berries, has an origin of Germany?
Rating: 5

Friday, May 13, 2011

New Obsession!

The Vera Bradley Outlet in San Marcos, Texas!

I scored this loot at their outlet prices and an additional 20% off of everything. (Insert hyperventilating here.) The aprons the very helpful and nice sales staff were wearing that day matched my "Totally Turq" Large Duffle (Retail price $80, Outlet price $64, My price $51.20). Even more affordable with the money I saved getting the other items as gifties!
"Mesa Red" Wristlet ($25/$18/$14.40)..."Imperial Toile" Card Holder ($8/$5/$4)..."Hello Dahila" Little Hip Bag ($36/$25/$20)

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Today's Favorite iPod Workout Song

Bob Dylan - "Buckets of Rain" - 3:24

Thursday Tea Time

This week - Yogi Mayan Cocoa Spice
Cost: $2.39 on sale at Whole Foods, regular price is $4.99
Number of teabags: 16

Caffeine: 5mg per cup

Type of tea: Herbal

Steeping time: I did 6 1/2 minutes, the directions say 5-10

You might as well go for the longer time, double-dipping is too weak

Mix ins: Just a little fat-free condensed milk
Teabag fragrance: Cinnamon, ginger with a little "what is that?!" which is the cocoa!

Ingredients: Cinnamon bark, chicory root, cardamon seed, stevia leaf, ginger root, clove bud, black pepper, cocoa shells, chocolate flavor, cocoa flavor, cocoa powder, vanilla flavor, cinnamon oil, cardamon oil, ginger oil (all organic and natural flavors)

Opinion: You'd think this would be similar to Mexican hot chocolate, but not quite. The other spices give it a unique twist. You would then think it's going in a chai direction. Well, kinda-sorta. This is probably the most interesting flavor blend I've had. In treat tempting desparation, I will make and drink a cup of this first. And it does the trick. Shoo, chocolate chip cookies! I think it's the spices. Or Mayan magic.

Rating: 4.25

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Texas Tea

No, not oil -- real tea! I found this bottle of Texas Tea - Fredericksburg Peach Tea - at The Coffee Pot in San Marcos. All natural, organic and no preservatives.

Each bottle contains 2 servings, per serving - 79 calories, 7mg sodium, 21g carb, 20g sugar. Ingredients - Texas Spring water, brewed organic Iyerpadi black tea, pure cane sugar, citric acid, natural peach flavoring, Fredericksburg Peach puree and honey.

Their other flavors include --

'Austin's Own' Goodflow Honey Green Tea...Dove Creek Unsweet Tea...Poteet Strawberry White Tea....Sugar Land Sweet Tea (lotsa sugar in that one!).
And coming soon --Nacogdoches Blueberry Green Tea.

Monday, May 09, 2011

Today's Favorite iPod Workout Song

Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros - "Home" - 5:06
Not only a great swimming song, but one of my yoga instructors uses it, too. You can also hear it on the Blue Cross TV ads.

And be sure to check out this ADORABLE cover version by Jorge & Alexa Narvaez on YouTube!

Upcoming Jo-Ann's Pattern Sales

Super Weekend Sale - May 13/15
$1.99 McCall's
$3.99 Vogue

May 19/21 - $1.99 Butterick patterns

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Whole Foods 365 Everyday Value Linguine - Yeah, yeah but read anyways, there's a recipe in this post!

I just had to blog about this - normally I don't sing the praises of pasta, but this Whole Foods 365 Everyday Value linguine was really, really good. And affordable - $1.39 for one pound. I used it to make Cooking Light's Spaghetti Aglio e Olio from Cooking Light Secrets - Grains & Pasta on page 268.

Which I changed up, directions are just "suggestions" in my mind -

I used the linguine, boiled and drained. Added 1/4 cup chicken broth. Separately I saute'd fresh mushrooms with 2 cloves of garlic and little bit of olive oil, sliced some black olives, added some fresh oregano from my garden and tossed all of the above together. Sprinkled some parmesan cheese on top and served with a salad. A light, easy, fast dinner.

Here's the original recipe --

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
4 large garlic cloves, minced
4 quarts water
8 ounces uncooked spaghetti
1/2 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

Combine the olive oil, oregano, and minced garlic in a small microwave-safe bowl. Cover with wax paper, and microwave at HIGH for 1 minute.
Bring water to a boil in a large stockpot. Add spaghetti; return to a boil. Cook, uncovered, 10 minutes or until al dente, stirring occasionally. Drain. Return to pot. Stir in the garlic mixture and broth. Cook over medium heat 4 minutes or until broth is absorbed, stirring constantly. Stir in parsley.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

A Poem A Day

Even though National Poetry Month was in April, I didn't want to backdate this post and have it get lost in your blogger readers.

I found these bookmarks on a shelf at The Teahouse, and thought these two poems were amazing, even more so when you learn they were written by 3rd graders!

This one is by Skye --

A poet writes words,

And she thinks of happy places.

A poet dreams and

feels like she is floating.

A poet sleeps, and

she feels like flying.

A poet thinks about

a ladder and feels like

climbing it.

In light of all the school budget cutbacks, it's even more important to support programs like this.

Click here for information about their summer workshops.

Be sure to sign up next year for April's A Poem A Day delivered to your email address.

Writers in the Schools (WITS)
engages children in the pleasure and power of reading and writing. WITS writers work in year-long programs in over 350 classrooms in order to help students develop their creative and analytical thinking skills. With a focus on at-risk, inner city students, WITS also offers workshops in art museums, hospitals, community centers, private schools, and juvenile detention centers.
WITS leads the WITS Alliance, a national initiative that involves mentoring similar writers-in-schools programs, serving as a model for multidisciplinary arts educators, and sharing innovative approaches to teaching. WITS was recently ranked the #1 literary organization in the state by the Texas Commission on the Arts.

Friday, May 06, 2011

Today's Costco Find!

Polo Jeans Company Ralph Lauren sequinned t-shirts -- flying off the display at Costco today! No less than four other people were also grabbing these $15.99 bargains. Cute rolled sleeve cuffs, generously sized and long enough even for us tallies to tuck in. Also comes in gray. The Navy (far right) has black/gray paillettes. Item #547760 I bought three in hopes I'll have one to wear, as dear daughter is coming home from college next week. . . I'm wearing the navy one right now with a gray knit mini skirt and black leggings, my claim has been staked!

Me and my new BFF!

Mary Higgins Clark at Murder By The Book, May 2, 2011

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Thursday Tea Time

Cost: $10.20

Number of teabags: 20

Caffeine: Probably A little

Type of tea: Green

Steeping time: 3 minutes

Mix ins: Just a little fat-free condensed milk, CBTL Fat-Free Vanilla powder

Teabag fragrance: Peach, with a hint of blueberry

Ingredients: Thailand green tea, lily blossom, diced mango, natural flavoring. Odd--is the peach and blueberry in the natural flavoring?!Opinion: More peachy than blueberry, very pleasant. Or maybe that's the mango? I like it hot at home, but also the way CBTL makes it in the store as an iced tea latte. You can also reuse the teabag one more time, letting it steep for 5 minutes. Good thing, since it is a Limited Edition tea and currently out of stock online as of today. Can't wait to try it plain and iced with just a little sugar, too. A good all purpose warm-weather tea!

Rating: 4.0

Today's Favorite iPod Workout Song

Ellie Goulding - "Lights" - 3:31
I heard her version of "Your Song" was William and Catherine's First Dance song.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Barnum's Animal Crackers - Lilly Pulitzer Special Edition!

Can you believe this?!

Found at Buc-ee's for $1.29

Fashion icon Lilly Pulitzer loves the Arts and is celebrating with friends Nabisco Barnum's Animals Crackers and Urban Arts Partnership to promote arts education in public schools. Urban Arts advances the intellectual, social and artistic development of underserved public school students through arts-integrated education programs to close the achievement gap. Now that's smart art. To learn more about this colorful relationship, please visit

May the Fourth be with you!

It's #HappyStarWarsDay on Twitter!

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Sunflower Seed Bread

Here's another winner from the Betty Crocker's Bread Machine Cookbook! It's actually called "Honey-Sunflower Loaf" on page 35. The ingredients listed are for a 1 pound and 1 1/2 pound recipe, shown in that order.

Water - 2/3 cup, 1 cup
Vegetable oil - 2 tablespoons, 2 tablespoons (not a typo!)
Honey - 1 tablespoon, 2 tablespoons
Bread flour - 2 1/4 cups, 3 1/4 cups
Sunflower seeds, shelled - 1/3 cup, 1/2 cup
Salt - 1 teaspoon, 1 1/2 teaspoons
Bread machine yeast - 1 1/4 teaspoon, 2 teaspoons

Place ingredients in order recommended by your bread machine. Select Basic/White cycle, use Medium or Light crust color. Sunflower seeds can be added at the Raisin/Nut signal or 5-10 minutes before last kneading cycle ends. I found they do need time to mix in, don't be alarmed - they will! I also used the already shelled roasted salted sunflower seeds found in the potato chip aisle and cut back the salt just a little bit.

This turned out wonderful. We used it to make tuna fish sandwiches - a great combination, and also great on its own with butter and even a little bit of honey!

Monday, May 02, 2011

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Meet Nick!

One of my Nicotianas (Flowering Tobacco). Of which the others are only 8 inches tall, this one is almost 3 feet tall and grows a little bit taller every day! Smells great, too. He stands guard by our front door.
More proof that everything is bigger in Texas?!