Wire Wrapping Trash to Treasure

Standard

 

 

 

I am def not a photographer anymore…and I don’t have an iphone…so sorry for the dodgy picture.  I realize that is why I don’t post the majority of what I am up to craft wise–because the pictures either don’t do the projects Justice or I just plain forget to take them.

So here is my latest project…took an old steering wheel that someone gave me years ago (I hung onto it because I knew one day it would be a mobile or wind chimes) and a bunch of cheapy mismatched glass beads left over from projects, 19 gauge copper wire from the hardware store, and a very cheap LED flicker light “lantern” from a discount store.

I used to enjoy making wire wrapped jewelry but over time I got tired of it and started seeing it everywhere anyway so that took the fun out of it.  This kind of crafting is like a fidget spinner for adults…you can sit and just wrap and wrap and let it be very organic.  I did the majority of it while watching PBS specials…LOL.  I would wrap the wire in a coil around a magic marker to make jump rings…would do twenty or thirty at a time…then I work on assembling the beads onto stretched coil that I also made by wrapping wire tightly around the same marker and then stretching back out.  I just kind of “went with it” when it came time to assemble and wrap the wheel.

I am not sure if this will stay in its current state or if the lantern may go bye-bye and chimes be added…but I just wanted to share.  I love taking old “stuff” and giving it new light and life…

 

Home Food Prep/ Meal Planning Inspired By Time As A Former Kitchen Dog

Standard

lego taco

Hey there folks!

First I am still alive and well! Second I have been continuing to focus on being the best me that I can be.  Having always struggled with my weight that has been a focus of the past couple of years.  Loosing weight in a healthy doable way. I joined Weight Watchers almost 4 years ago.  The first six months I lost 40 lb!  Then I stopped really working at it…and gained most of it back.  I decided to take it seriously and really make lifestyle changes that I was learning about. It is a slow process for me, but I have lost over 30lbs again…and am making that work with a job, a husband, a family.

So I can’t stick with things that are restrictive.  I like to feel like a free spirit- yet I need plans…like set in stone in order to feel free.  I know that is crazy…but it is who I am.  So part of how I made a transition from “dieting” to changing my actual real lifestyle is that I meal prep and plan.  Now this is something that I make work with my Weight Watchers journey…but it can work with any nutritional plan, or just any busy household.

So what the heck is the meal plan/prep like a former kitchen dog mean anyway?  What the heck is a kitchen dog?! Why is this crazy chubby blogger talking like a crazy person? Well to start meal planning and prep are techniques that anyone can use to make getting food on the table (and in lunch boxes) a no brainer.  Planning and prepping meals also really helps if you are on a tight budget, or simply just want to track what you are spending on food. If you are on a plan of any kind that you want to stay within a criteria for your daily food intake prepping is essential to sanity in my opinion.  So now about the Kitchen Dog thing…that my friends is what most of us former kitchen staff and line cooks call ourselves.  I didn’t attend culinary school so I do not have the right to call myself a chef- nor would I.  I do have a vast amount of experience though in restaurants and catering from while I was trying to decide if I wanted to go back to school in a culinary program after an unhappy couple of years just working in my chosen field and general office work.  That my friends is why I refer to myself as an Old Kitchen Dog. I have it in my soul- but for a variety of reasons I walked away from the industry. That is the subject of a whole other blog one day…

So once you have professional kitchen in your blood-it is with you for life.  I kept struggling to figure out how to make eating healthier work for me.  I know how to cook and have the actual tools…I have recipes at my finger tips…but actually getting it done every day seemed like a never ending cycle of cook, store, clean…rinse and repeat.  It got to the point that I was enjoying cooking less and less and that made me sad.  It has been a hobby since about age 11.  So I bought more and more pre- made items and just got off the plan more and more that I know works for me if I do it.  Through a conversation with my Dad (also an old kitchen dog) I realized that I was making it hard for no reason.  I could prep food for the week just like we did in the restaurants…it would allow me to just heat and eat dinners and lunches- I would not waste as much food to spoilage…and I can use the skill and love that I have for cooking to make it all happen in the least amount of time and for the least amount of effort.

I started off just cooking up meats for the week. That worked pretty well- grill a bunch of chicken breasts on Sunday or make a crock pot full of chicken or lean pork chops. Then as the week rolls along just make some quick side dishes or salads to go with the different meats.  I still do this often- especially when the weather is nice and I can load up the grill.  Some weeks I do “assembly meals” or theme weeks.  With the theme weeks we pick a theme for the week and I make the different elements ahead of time that are assembled into different meals.  For example Mexican/Tex-Mex (see below).

 

Tex-Mex Week: What I do on Sunday

  •  Cook chicken breast then shred and season as well as ground lean turkey (same)
  • Cut all veggies needed in Mexican favorites- white onion, green onions, jalapeno’s tomatoes, cilantro, and limes, lettuce shredded, cabbage shredded
  • Make large batch of cilantro lime rice or Spanish rice
  • Make sure to have on hand- sour cream or Greek yogurt, shredded cheese, salsa’s and other sauces, diced chili’s, black beans…
  • Make sure to have corn tortilla’s, hard taco shells, soft taco shells and or any other delivery system for Mexican goodness that you prefer.  Try to have more than one option though.

Once you have your elements prepped you can build all the Tex Mex dishes you like..burrito bowls, burritos, taco salads, soft or crunchy tacos, tostadas…the options are basically like a giant tub of Tex Mex legos that you assemble into whatever you like (this is nice with families as well because several different dishes can be had by several different family members without any extra work).

If you are on a nutrition plan…just record somewhere what the serving size is for each element that you have prepared…and then whatever information you need.  Calories, carbs, smart points, protein gr…whatever you in particular need or want to know…that way when you are assembling each meal you know what you are putting in your body. Now if you are not watching any nutritional concerns you don’t need to record any of it…just assemble as you go and enjoy. 🙂

 

 

Such High Expectations…

Standard

travel blog

So as a “grown up” I have some wonderful friends and family.  I have had the pleasure of joining in a myriad of amazing life events and celebrations with these folks.  I am blessed to get to see bridal and baby showers…first birthdays and at this point high school graduations of children that I first met as babies.  I love all of this.  I have noticed though an odd trend (more through social media than in my own circles) of people really expecting so much from their connections when it comes to these events.

Let me explain myself.  If I look at my parents generation and how they celebrated vs. how my own and the one just behind me celebrate life events it seems so different.  I mean when a couple got married in the 1970’s the bride had a small shower at usually a family member’s home…and perhaps a bachelorette party at the local bar. When my friends were all getting married it had become the norm to have a weekend in Vegas for the shower or some other destination and then another for the bacherlorette.  I always passed on these trips because I just had no reason to spend a ton of money to go to a place that I had no interest in. Baby showers have become big to do’s in hotel banquet rooms or nichy tea houses…and don’t even get me started on what is expected when a baby turns a year old now. I am not judging so much as wondering when did our expectations of friends and family to participate in our lives change so drastically?

I am a very no fuss no muss kind of gal (refer to our wedding blogs for more on that)…and I am still of the mind frame that it is rude to ask people to take their vacations to celebrate my life…and especially to spend money that they work just as hard for as I do. I see a ton of acquaintances on social media really ripping on people for not wanting to travel with them…when did it become a thing to still take massive trips (not once in a lifetime ones mind you) with your friends once you have a home and family?  Like I get a guys weekend or a girls weekend here and there…but like expecting your adult friends to spend what may be their family travel budget to celebrate your 27th/ 39th…whatever birthday?  I just kind of wonder if as a society we are all trying to be like the cast of E network shows…or do I just not understand?

I for one enjoy sending presents and cards and celebrating old school style…I hope that becomes the trend again in the near future…but I kind of doubt it.  Until then I promise all of you that the only “destination” that any of my celebrations will have is my back yard or living room and that you are all welcome and don’t need to bring anything but a smile.

 

We have all lost today…

Standard

I woke up today like any other…as I was drinking my coffee and thinking about what to take for lunch I looked at my phone. I don’t do this every morning but I had a little extra time.  As I scrolled through social media I learned that a “kid” that I went to school with had lost his battle with PTSD.  We weren’t friends really, and I can guarantee that I hadn’t seen this “kid” but once since the day we graduated just over 20 years ago. Still I saw the posts and pictures and I had that recognition of a face that I probably had seen every day almost for four years.

As the coffee started working and my eyes as well I began to feel a deep sadness.  The sadness for people that were my friends as they mourn the loss of their friend.  The sadness that even if we weren’t close a little piece of our whole was gone.  The most poignant sadness was for those fighting the silent battle.  I saw immediately posts sharing hotline numbers and friends reminding the world to take each day like it may be your last.

I guess I don’t feel comfortable sharing these thoughts on social media…but I do want to share the idea that if you know a person fighting in silence know that they need you.  They deeply need you to call, text, email or stop by even if they say they don’t. They need to know that they are not alone even when they feel the sharpest loneliness.  You need to know that every person fighting PTSD is an individual…each person gets help in different ways and from different sources- but all of these people need to know that they are not alone.  Sharing hotline numbers is good, but I can tell you from being the former significant other of a soldier that they know the numbers…and many do not feel comfortable calling them.  The ones that do call those numbers either get a band aid for that moment or even more frustration trying to navigate that system.  I don’t know how to fix any of this…I don’t know how to tell anyone else how to fix this…but I do know that every time we lose a person to PTSD that we have ALL lost…we have lost friends, family, heros, strangers…we have lost some of the most deep hearts.

 

 

 

Pho Real…

Standard

pho-sho

So it has been a while since I last blogged.  I thought I would keep it simple and share my favorite recipe for my favorite food. Particularly great if you have a cold. Pho.  This recipe is for Shrimp Pho…but really you can sub any meat or meat substitute that you like. Instead of meat you can just add extra veggies…not sure if it would still be Pho…but it would still be tasty.

What exactly is Pho?  Pho is a Vietnamese noodle soup generally with thinly sliced beef or chicken. There are many variations from region to region from the type of noodles to the flavoring of the broth.  The heart of it is the same though no matter what version.  A broth with a variety of rice noodle with fresh herbs and a meat.

Shrimp Pho

What you will need:

  • 4 ounces of brown rice spaghetti (or any rice noodle you like)
  • 1 TBS extra virgin olive oil
  • 2-3 gloves of garlic (minced)
  • 1 fresh jalapeno (minced after removing seeds and membranes)
  • 2 green onions/scallions (sliced thin)
  • 6 C low sodium and or fat free chicken stock/ broth
  • 1 tsp fish sauce
  • 1 1/2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 cup button or baby bella mushrooms (sliced)
  • 12 oz shrimp (pre cooked is a super step skipper).
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1/8 C chopped cilantro (including stems)
  • 1 TBS low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 TBS Five Spice (often called Chinese spice mix or Chinese Five Spice)
  • 1 tsp dried basil

 

What I generally do is make my broth the day before and store it in the fridge overnight. Not necessary but it makes my life easier.

For the Broth:

In a large pan or dutch oven add olive oil.  Add garlic, jalapeno, and green onions. Saute for a few minutes.  Pour in chicken stock or broth, fish sauce, sesame oil, soy sauce, 5 spice, and basil.  Bring to  a simmer. Stir in mushrooms (and shrimp if using raw). Remove from heat and add lime juice and cilantro (at this point let it cool and store in an air tight container in the fridge over night if desired).

To assemble the Pho:

For the noodles it is best to follow the instructions on the package.  I used Brown Rice spaghetti so I cooked them right before serving the soup…heated up the broth from above and then assembled all of it in each bowl. I like to add fresh basil and cilantro just as we are sitting down to eat, but you can certainly skip it or just have a plate with the fresh herbs on the table so that each person can add what they like.

**If I make the broth the night before I generally do not add the shrimp until I am heating up the broth at the time of serving the Pho.  I often buy the precooked ones and put them in the Pho broth straight from the freezer and by the time the noodles are ready and broth is hot- the shrimp are warmed but not over cooked.  If you are using raw shrimp you can still add them to the pot the day of…nothing is worse in my book than over cooked seafood.**

 

 

Killer flu vs. Man flu

Standard

So it is that time of year when everyone seems to get sick.  I have theories (totally not backed by Science or Medicine at all) as to why we all get so sick right around the first of the year.  I think for most of us it has to do with just being plain worn out/down after the holidays.  Top that with all of the social settings we are in during the holidays with new people and new germs it makes for a time of year to get sick.

It is no different in my house. Exactly one day after Christmas my husband started feeling icky.  I told him to rest.  He sort of did…then ended up being sick from Christmas until the week after New Year’s.  Now he wasn’t terribly sick that last week- just kind of puny…but for a solid two weeks it was like the plague had hit our home.  I tried my hardest to rest and disinfect EVERYTHING – OFTEN.  I managed to not get his bug.

Now this week I started to feel icky on Sunday…and snotty…lots of snot..by Tuesday I left work early and skipped all together Wednesday.  I slept pretty much for 20 hours straight.  I had no fever…but had the chills and sweats. I had a raw nose and basically my body and head felt like I had a cross between the world’s worst hangover and a migraine.  My HAIR HURT.

Now during the 4 days (well 3.5 really because part of Sunday I felt fine) of the Killer flu I dosed myself twice with a nasal decongestant then switched to all herbal.  I made ginger lemon tea and was religious about drinking it (every time I woke for a few min I drank a cup of the tea and a glass of water).  I used essential oils in my bath…I even used a swipe of oregano oil across the tongue once a day (not for the faint of heart- very strong very unpleasant- but effective). Now I feel pretty much like I was never sick.

I titled this killer flu vs. man flu because it amazes my how differently we are all hit by the same or similar bugs and how we all react differently to over the counter meds and natural remedies and what not.  I think the real reason why I feel better is that I was getting 10-12 hours of sleep then the day I stayed home I slept around 18 hours.  I didn’t check my phone…I didn’t log onto the computer or watch tv…and those little things are why I think I got better in 4 days and hubs took three weeks. What is your favorite home remedy for colds/ flu?

 

Happy Holidays!

Standard

Having a blog around this time of year I have so many things that I think to myself” I should blog that…” then I get home and forget what I was even thinking about blogging…or eating…or wearing…or did I get milk at the store?

I don’t think I am alone in having Holiday Brain. I have decided that it is actually so much more than the holidays that causes this.  Of course no matter how simple or small your holidays are there is that preparation factor, depending where you live there is the weather factor, and end of the year stuff for both your home and or job. I feel like I am living on post it note reminders and calendar squacks from my phone.

All that said I ADORE THIS TIME OF YEAR!!! I love all of the holidays.  I am thrilled when I am wished a Merry Christmas, a Happy Chanukah, or a Blessed Kwanzaa!   I love seeing different people celebrate in different ways.  I love that even people who are not exactly friendly any other time of the year say hi or wave.  I like to soak it all up and I hope that I spread it around!

I hope that you are all safe and happy and go into the New Year with the best of what we have learned in 2016…and with the best of luck and best wishes for 2017!