Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Today's Costco Find!

Cemoi milk chocolate, from France! $11.99. So pretty!
Oh Costco, how you tempt us?! Easter isn't until April 8!
(I have hidden this in the pantry. . .)

Monday, January 30, 2012

Netflix Stars - Crazy, Stupid, Love

1 star - Crazy, Stupid, Indeed. The only star is for Emma Stone.
And again, another "Rental" DVD! Honestly, the outtakes and other special features would have been way better than the movie.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

THrILL Seeker

Be a hill seeker

Most of us try to avoid hills, but what's so good about flat?

Think about it: Flat tires, flat hair, flat returns and the ultimate -- flatlining.

Life happens on the hills. They're opportunities to prove to yourself that you're stronger than you ever imagined.

If you never attempt the ascent, you'll never know the thrill of swooshing down the other side.

-Self Magazine, January 2012

Friday, January 27, 2012

Simplicity Patterns - ASG Creativity Contest 2012

Here are the Simplicity patterns for the 2012 American Sewing Guild Creativity contest.

The Annual Conference this year will be in HOUSTON, TEXAS August 16-20!!

The Conference brochure will be posted online on April 2 and online registration will begin on April 6

This year they have a new event open only to ASG members and anyone 18 and under sponsored by an ASG member. Two winners will be chosen electronically at random in the two categories.

Visit the ASG website http://www.asg.org/ for Conferenece and entry information.

1797 - Available March 23 Dress with princess-seamed bodice, waistline seam and flared skirt with a front inverted pleat. Jacket with short kimono sleeves, cropped length and boxy shape with an inverted pleat in the back

1885 - New, no picture available online yet. Short-sleeved dress/blouse, 3/4 length sleeved jacket and slightly wide-legged, flared pants.

1916 - Tops - sleeveless, short and 3/4 length

1920 - Sew Stylish magazine Short sleeved top, above ankle skirt, jacket, tie belt and scarf

1921 - Baby dress, jacket, diaper cover, hat

1927 - Girls dresses and bolero vest

2702 - Dress/blouse with three sleeve length options

2703 - Threads magazine Dress, jacket, sleeveless blouse and pants

2284 - Chanel type jacket (was also in last year's contest)

2286 - Skirt (was also in last year's contest)

2287 - Pants and jacket (was also in last year's contest)

2288 - Threads magazine Jacket and skirt (was also in last year's contest)

2293 - Girls/children's vest (was also in last year's contest)

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Thursday Tea Time

This week - Mighty Leaf Orange Dulce

Cost: $6.49 at Whole Foods
Number of teabags: 15
Caffeine: Yes
Type of tea: Black and Green
Steeping time: Per label 4 minutes
Add ins: I am trying to watch the carbs. As much as I like the fat-free condensed milk in my tea (and sneaking in an extra teaspoon in my mouth), I need to change it up. Stevia doesn't count as a carb and doesn't raise the blood sugar. But it is really sweet. (this coming from the girl who just confessed above to "one for tea, one for me" with the condensed milk can!?) I find half a package of "Stevia in the Raw" makes it sweet enough. I also tried the fat free half and half and liked it too. The Shamrock Farms brand not only has a cute cow logo, but it is hormone-free.
Teabag fragrance: Orange
Ingredients: Black tea, green tea, jasmine flowers, natural flavors.
Opinion: Disappointing. And pricey, too. On the positive side, it didn't give me a migraine as most citrus does. On the negative side, to me it was bitter tasting. Straight/plain, with half and half + Stevia, + honey, + sugar. Ka-ching, ka-ching went my carb count servings, damn! I really tried to like it. But nothing could make my perception of bitter better. I couldn't taste the jasmine and the vanilla was faint at best.
Rating: 0

Upcoming Jo-Ann's Pattern Sales

Inspiration Blooms Sale - January 29/February 11
30% off Gingher, including rotary cutters and blades.
(I seriously heart my Gingher cutter!)

Super Weekend Sale - February 3/5
$3.99 Vogue
$1.99 Butterick
50% off all thread - spools, cones and multipacks!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

"I need to incorporate more metal in my life to create balance..."

Early 27th wedding anniversary gift!

I've always wanted to learn how to spin and jump. I'm also happy just gliding and flying around the rink, too. And I never had a brand new and fit to me pair of ice skates. Throw in the purple glitter guards and Hello Kitty soakers -- My inner seven year old is thrilled!

When my sister and I were growing up (and our feet were growing, too!), we would get our ice skates at Cook's Hardware in Rochester, NY. They had rows of used skates, and each year we would trade up/size up to hit the ice -- The city would flood and ice over the parking lot near Charlotte Beach...or tennis courts at the park (they took the nets down!). In high school we even had ice skating for gym class at a nearby indoor rink. And yes, I had purple jingle bell pompoms back then, too!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Happy Year of the Water Dragon!

Actually though, while today is the Chinese New Year, the first day of the new Chinese Astrology year is February 4, 2012 - The Black Water Dragon year

Here is a fun website to check out and explains more about Chinese Astrology and the Year of the Dragon. And take a quiz.
(I learned I am a Black Rabbit, born in the year of Brown Pig and equivalent to Water. And I need to incorporate more metal in my life to create balance, but not too much! Hmmm...it's all in good fun!)

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Quick Chocolate Cheesecake

This is a modified recipe from one of those church/fundraiser cookbooks I love so much - "Recipes From The Heart" cookbook Sacred Heart Catholic School in Rockport, Texas.

I didn't want nor need to make a full sized version, and I'm also watching my carbohydrates. With that in mind, I will post the original recipe and then my version.


Original --

1 pie crust

2 (3.9 ounce) packages chocolate pudding*

16 ounces cream cheese

1 cup sour cream

2 1/2 cups milk

Mine --

3 packages Oreo Thins 100 calorie plus 2 tablespoons melted butter

1 package sugar free and fat free instant chocolate pudding

8 ounces Neufchatel Reduced Fat cream cheese

1/2 cup light sour cream**

1 tablespoon Hersheys Special Dark Cocoa

1 cup skim milk

Original --

Combine cream cheese and sour cream in blender. Mix well. Add pudding mixes and stir. Add milk and blend for 1 1/2 minutes. Pour mixture in pie crust and let set in refrigerator for 4-6 hours.

Mine --

Crumb three packages of cookies in food processor. Mix in small bowl with two tablespoons melted butter until crumbly and slightly sticking together. Press along bottom and sides of 2 cup sized Chantal 6 3/4" pie plate. Admire the apple green and dark brown color combination. Set aside. (I blogged about this earlier - here's the link.)

Combine cream cheese and sour cream in medium sized bowl. **Realize too late I just dumped in the entire 8 ounce container of sour cream. Mix well anyways. Add pudding mix, hoping and it should be instant right, since this is a no-bake cheesecake? The original recipe didn't specify, hence the first *. Add milk and blend for 1 1/2 minutes. Give myself a pat on the back because I added only 1 cup of milk instead of 1 1/4, half the original amount. And maybe that will take away some of the volume from the extra sour cream. It looks a bit light, perhaps because of the extra sour cream. Decide to chocolate it up by adding a tablespoon of Hershey's Special Dark Cocoa since that is darker than the regular Hershey Cocoa. And extra antioxidants can't hurt, either. Pour into pretty pie plate and sprinkle the extra cookie crumbs on top, feeling very Martha-y, and put in refrigerator.

Look at the remaining mixture in the bowl, which was a little more than a third left. (Wonder how that could that be and how much or many pies the original recipe could have filled, because aren't I only 1/4 cup over volume-wise? And maybe next time I will make and fill TWO pie pans/plates - I also bought the pretty Chantal red one at last year's outlet sale. With visions of making pies like this one.) and pour into six 1/2 cup ramkins. Shortcut and justify not making more crust by sticking a cookie on top. Somehow find enough remaining crumbs to Martha-fy this even more. Put those in refrigerator, too.

Don't they look pretty?!

Fast forward four hours to dinner and everyone's anticipated dessert! I put a squish of whipped cream on top of the flopped-over slice to hide the fact it didn't quite set up as firmly - maybe it needed those extra two hours. (Report from next day's leftovers: No. Time was not the problem. All fingers and indications pointing to empty sour cream container in outside garbage can. Back to our recipe now.) I think it tastes good and announce that to all in the room. Hubby makes a face and says, "it tastes a bit...sour?!" "I bet that must be the bonus sour cream. Let's add some more whipped cream!" I say cheerily.

Personally, I didn't think it tasted that bad. Next time I will be more careful and not be so sour cream slap happy.

My sincere apologies to Sara W., who submitted her recipe. I don't want to put her last name, in case she Googles herself and discovers this!

Go for the magic!

Do one thing every day that scares you ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Thursday Tea Time

This week - Central Market Organics - "Licorice Peppermint"

Cost: $5.99

Number of teabags: 15

Caffeine: None

Type of tea: Herbal

Steeping time: 2-4, per label directions. I did 5 minutes

Add ins: A little bit of fat-free condensed milk
Teabag fragrance: Peppermint
Ingredients: Organic licorice root, organic peppermint, organic calendula petals

Opinion: An interesting and intriguing combination. The slightly sweet licorice comes in and has a nice kick at the end of the sip. A mugful has a nice warming flavor and feeling, perfect for a wintery day. (I bet it would also taste great, iced with a bit of sugar, too. Could be a nice alternative to all the typical summer/fruity teas.) It's not a strong, but a medium heat/mint flavor. And the calendula flower combines it all together and makes it look pretty, too. In the bag and in the mug.

I think this branding is trying to be similar to two leaves and a bud, Mighty Leaf and other more upscale pricier teas - the cost, the offbeat teabag design, etc. But it didn't have a string?! I just thought that was a little odd. Good thing I have my tea bag spoon/tongs from Williams-Sonoma! The teabag was also sealed in rather thick plastic. OK, but you wouldn't spring for a string?!

Rating: 4.25 For originality and taste!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Fast and Easy-Peasy Chocolate Pie Crust

I was trying a new recipe - chocolate sour cream cheesecake! - and I wanted to do a chocolate crumb crust. I thought I would try using these Nabisco 100 calorie Oreo Thin Crisps - chop them up in the food processor and add a little bit of butter. Three packages plus two tablespoons of melted butter yielded a nice crust for my 6 3/4" 2 cup Chantal pie plate. So I would imagine this box of 6 would do quite well for a regular pie plate size and four tablespoons of butter for future pie projects. You may even be able to cut back on the butter a little bit, just add slowly until you get a lightly moistened crumb texture. Even though the recipe didn't quite turn out as planned (I was cutting it in half and forgot and dumped the entire container of sour cream into the mixing bowl), the crust was yummy. Next time I will pay better attention, and make this crust again. HEB sells it for $2.19 and they had a $1 off coupon. Not a bad deal!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Monday, January 16, 2012

When I am sewing. . .

"Buttons and patches and the cold wind blowing; the days pass quickly when I am sewing"

~ Unknown

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Netflix Stars - Our Idiot Brother

1 star - Ugh, what to say? A bunch of familiar-looking actors, several unlikeable story lines awkwardly pieced together. Perhaps I was the idiot thinking this would be a good movie. Just for grins, watch the alternate ending. Neither was better.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Free Penzeys Cinnamon Sugar

I just received my Winter 2012 catalog from Penzeys with a coupon for a free 1/2 cup jar of their Cinnamon Sugar! (online and and telephone orders, use Code 11855C) Great timing, I'm just about out. Theirs is way better than mixing your own. They use a blend of two different cinnamons (china cassia and ceylon) plus vanilla bean!

And as usual, the catalog is filled with recipes. What caught my eye right off the bat? Buttermilk cookies and cherry almond muffins. Life is sweet!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Aww, my blog is 6 years old today!

My first post!

Then a bit (?!) of a gap until commencing in full swing February 2007 and evolving into today -- 2,152 posts later!!

Thursday Tea Time

Cost: $5.99 at Whole Foods Market, with a $1 off coupon from an in-store tasting promotion. Hey, it worked! I bought it! And it was the unsweetened sample. That says mucho right there.

Number of teabags: 15

Oh, but they are presented so nicely, see?! Very portable - You could just pop this in your purse for an emergency peppermint tea fix.

Caffeine: None

Type of tea: Herbal

Steeping time: Per label 3 minutes. Get your water really hot, almost to boiling

Add ins: As is, or just a little bit of sugar.

Teabag fragrance: Minty!

Ingredients: Decaffeinated organic peppermint leaves.

Opinion: While pricey, this is a really, really good peppermint tea and worth the price. A great pick up/energizing tea. But for some odd reason, it seems to slightly raise my internal temperature about 15 minutes after drinking. That hasn't happened with other other peppermint/mint teas. So for me, it is not a relaxing drink after dinner tea, unless I need the boost. Definitely will reschedule this teatime for the 3 PM doldrums instead. Very smooth, not harsh at all. I have seen it go on sale at Whole Foods about every 4-6 weeks, and sometimes with a coupon, too.

Rating: 4.25 Only dinged for the price.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Netflix Stars - Love Potion #9

2.5 and-I'm-being-generous stars - One of Sandra Bullock's earlier movies, see if only for that. Several times I just wanted to stop it and mail it back, but kept hoping it would get better. It didn't.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


Without any disrespect to those who truly have ADD. . .my friends say they get whiplash talking to me.

Monday, January 09, 2012

Oh, Lighten Up!

Whee! The 2012 Cooking Light AND Everyday Food Light books are now at Costco!

The Cooking Light 2012 publisher's price is $34.95 (ouch!); Costco is $21.99 (whew!)

Everyday Food is a paperback, $24.99 (really, for a paperback?!); Costco - $13.59

I'm not too thrilled that once again Everyday Food is organized by the season. I think it makes it harder to find the recipes you want to try. I also noticed it is available as an ebook.

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Upcoming Jo-Ann's Pattern Sales

40% off Gutterman thread! (I think that starts now)

January 12/14 -
$1.99 Butterick
$1.99 McCall's

January 26/28 -
$1.99 McCall's
$3.99 Vogue

Winter Warm-Up Sale - January 15/21
99 cent Simplicity

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Thursday Tea Time

Cost: On sale at Kroger for $6.99

Number of teabags: 22

Caffeine: Yes, moderate

Type of tea: Black

Steeping time: Per label 3-4 minutes, I did 5 minutes

Add ins: Just a squeeze of honey

Teabag fragrance: Cinnamon apple

Flavor: Tart cinnamon apple

Ingredients: Organic, Fair Trade Certitified™ Black tea, Cinnamon, Ginger, Cardamom, Cloves, Pomegranate, Apples and natural flavors of Pomegranate, Cinnamon and Ginger

Opinion: Another change-it-up tea. I like the twist and tang of the pomegranate, and the subtlety of the cardamon, cloves and ginger, playing quietly in the background. Love the tin design, too!

Rating: 4 - Find it before it's gone!

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Netflix Stars - The Adjustment Bureau

5 stars!! One of the best movies we've seen in awhile. A sci-fi/suspense movie with an overlay of romance. Perfect! All three of us enjoyed this one. (And personally, I always preferred Matt Damon over Ben Affleck) I had never read Philip Dick's "Adjustment Team" short story, so I was easily captivated and along for the ride of the plot and the depiction of life and fate's twists and turns. The DVD disk copy from Netflix was stamped "Rental" Well, OK. Not OK when you click on the "Bonus" features and get a pop up message saying this is only available on Blu-ray and retail copies. This was a first, and hopefully a last. Really, Netflix?!

Monday, January 02, 2012

1, One, 2011

I saw this meme on another blog. (Thanks, Diary of a Stay At Home Mom!) You take the first sentence of the first post of each month. An interesting way to get a snapshot (albeit slightly out of context) review of the past year’s worth of 330 posts.

January 2011
4/5 - Outstanding special effects! (The Sorcerer’s Apprentice)

February 2011
Half my life - Still making me laugh even after 26 years!

March 2011
Step 1 - French manicure with green glitter tips!

April 2011
Not an April Fool – This is my 2,000th post
Thanks for coming along for the ride!

May 2011
One of my Nicotianas (Flowering Tobacco)

June 2011
Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers - "Learning to Fly"

July 2011
"Field Flowers" from Whole Foods Market

August 2011
Founders' Super Weekend Sale - August 5/7

September 2011
Some of my flowers in the front garden are literally uprooting themselves from this unrelenting heat (maybe tomorrow the high will only be 95!)

October 2011
Foster The People - "Pumped Up Kicks"

November 2011
The latest offering from Cooking Light

December 2011
The Goo Goo Dolls - "All That You Are"

Chocolate Mint Chip Cookies

Here's a sweet way to begin the New Year, with a little bit of the old year!

Yet another yummy variation of my favorite chocolate cookie recipe -- Click for the Christmas Candy Cane Kiss and the original with the M&M's.

My daughter and I were at the new HEB grocery store and saw these Guittard Green Mint Chips ($2.89). Inspiration --The Cool Mint Oreos. Same green, same chocolate combo. . .

So I substituted the M&M's/Kisses with a bagful of these. Honestly, they are a bit chip-intense. I think you could cut back the amount around 1/2 to 3/4 cup -- save and snack on later! : D

I seem to be on quite the mint kick lately -- Starbucks Peppermint Mocha (skinny & now available sugar-free, thank you *Bux!), those Rold Gold Peppermint Dipped Snowflakes pretzels (thank goodness Costco sold out of them), candy canes, white chocolate peppermint fudge, Candy Cane Lane and Two Leaves and a Bud Peppermint (upcoming review) teas, toothpaste. . .(Kidding, I'm not eating Colgate! Though that tip about brushing your teeth after eating or before to keep from succumbing to temptation does work!) 'Tis the Season and all that! Right?!

This time I tried 1/4 cup Hershey's Special Dark Cocoa and 1/4 cup Hershey's Cocoa, to make it even chocolatey-er and really punch out the green mint further. And rolled them in regular sugar.

I will also offer this tip, hand stir in the chips. They seem to be a bit fragile and started breaking up in my Kitchen Aid mixer. I also think this may be a seasonal item and you may want to grab an extra bag now for St. Patrick's Day baking!


1 ¼ cups flour

1/4 cup Hershey's Special Dark cocoa powder

1/4 cup Hershey's cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

¾ cup sugar (Healthier option: Just a little over 1/2 cup)

½ cup unsalted butter, softened (Healthier option: Minus 1 tablespoon)

1 large egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

Guittard Green Mint Chips - 1 1/2 to 2 cups/bag

Preheat oven to 350. In medium bowl, mix flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt. In large (to be covered) bowl, combine sugar and butter. At high speed, beat 2 minutes until creamy. Beat in egg and vanilla, beat 2 minutes. Beat in flour mixture. Chill one hour or until dough is firm. Roll dough in 1” balls and then roll in sugar and place 2” apart on cookie sheets. Bake 10-12 minutes, switching racks at 5-6 minutes. Cool and enjoy!

Makes about 3 dozen cookies.