Thursday, July 28, 2011

Favorite - Lean Quisine

I've decided to join the Happy Healthy Me link party at Running with Glitter. Every Thursday we each add a post to the party. It can be anything from a recipe, to exercise tips, to our own personal story.

Today I'm sharing one of my favorites. I just love the Lean Quisine steamable bags. My personal favorite is the Chicken Potstickers but I just love them all! They make a great meal by themselves or with some bread or a side of vegetables. Yummy!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Just Pain Cute!

Just a cute photo for today. Three feral kittens who were waiting in a cage to get spayed & neutered. They were trapped by someone to be fixed, vaccinated, and released. Three less feral cats out there to reproduce! If we could only get them all...

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

What Will Become of the Cookbook?

Do you remember the days when you relied on your cookbooks for new or favorite recipes? If you had a party coming up you would search through your cookbooks, recipe box, magazines, and on some occasions your friends or the library. Now all you have to do is google it. Hmmmm, I want to make chocolate cake with butter cream frosting. I'll just "google it!" When you do that, hundreds of recipes are at your disposal. I think more people are finding new recipes on the Internet, recipe Cd's, and in e-book format. I confess, I've done them all and my e-book now sports about a dozen or so new cookbooks.

I have quite an extensive cookbook collection and in the photo above you will see my thee favorites. First and foremost is "Death By Chocolate" by Marcel Desaulniers. Oh my God! If you want to knock them dead with ultra rich and sinful chocolate desserts, this is the one that will do it. I've made about half dozen things from this book and I'm dumbfounded. Can't think straight right now. Next in line is the Crockpot Bible. This thing is PACKED with every kind of recipe you could imagine for the crockpot. I think I've made about fifteen things from that book and I've only had it a couple of years. My sister has the same book and she will agree with me on this one. My third favorite cook book is An American Country Kitchen. This book has two of my favorites, the Broken Glass candies that are cinnamon and spearmint flavored (great for Christmas) and Buckeyes. Yummy & festive!

Do you think the cookbook will become a thing of the past? Do you think that people will still turn to their bookshelves when the want to try a new recipe or do you think they will head to the computer and type in the words,

I for one am vowing right here and right now, not to give up on the Internet or e-reader (I LOVE that thing), but to turn to my cookbook collection when I'm looking for something new. That being said, BLOGGERS---keep those recipes coming! I always love to try new ones and I love collecting them in electronic form as well!

So I ask you, do you have any favorite cookbooks?

Monday, July 25, 2011

Fun & Relaxing Weekend

It was a fun and relaxing weekend here in Indiana. My Dad & Stepmom are here visiting from Florida so we had a little get together on Saturday. My kids came over and we had delicious food and a fun time!

Sunday was quite unusual for me. I stayed in my pajamas ALL DAY LONG! This is something that I can't remember doing in a long time unless I was sick. What's with that?

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Kitchen Tips - Sauces & Gravies

One of our favorite things to eat are individual pizzas. The reason I say "individual" is because I like my pizza with low fat ranch dressing, broccoli, tomatoes, and mozzarella, while hubby likes his with pizza sauce, sausage, and mozzarella. If you don't take advantage of your freezer, you will be wasting a lot of food! I do go through my salad dressing soon enough because I eat a lot of salads, use it for dipping veggies, pizzas, etc. But Brian can't possibly eat a whole can of pizza sauce in a safe amount of time eating a small pizza here and there. So I take full advantage of my freezer.

After I open the can and put sauce on his pizza. I simply drop the sauce by spoonfuls onto waxed paper (parchment paper will work too), pop it in the freezer, bag after frozen, and use one or two as I need them. I also have pre-cooked sausage, pre-made crusts, and frozen broccoli in there ready to go.

I always have the pre-made grocery store crusts on hand but if I have some time (usually in winter) I'll make up a big batch of pizza dough, let it rise once, then divide it into individual sized portions and put each in a plastic baggie, and then freeze in one large bag. That's the best! They take very little time to thaw.

I've also found that those silicone cupcake cups are wonderful for freezing small portions of gravy (Brian likes it occasionally, I don't), broth, tomato soup, sauces and anything else you might otherwise waste. Like the pizza sauce, just pop them out once frozen and throw in one big bag.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Heat Strokes and Dogs

It's super hot here in the Midwest! In fact, it's unbearable! We are having a heatwave like I've not seen in a long time. I know that most of my blog buddies are true animal lovers and know how to take care of their pets, I know this by the many photos I see of totally spoiled cats and dogs! But someone might just stumble upon my blog that could be new to having a pet, or maybe even a child who is old enough to read but doesn't know about the dangers of dogs and heat stroke.

So please, everyone watch your pets carefully these hot summer days. Unfortunately I am seeing the bad side of this heat with animals this week. Today I didn't have a doctor in and a woman who was traveling came running into the clinic carrying her limp dog. We called all the vets in the area before we could find one that would take him. Even though we found one, I'm sure it was too late. This dog's temperature was 109 degrees and his tongue was purple. A normal temp for a dog or cat is 101 to 102 degrees. A temp of 106 is usually fatal or can cause enough damage to the organs to be unrepairable. As I watched her drive away I knew the dog would die before they even reached the other vet.

As I'm writing this post, my Mom calls and tells me that she just read in the paper that 3 dogs in her city died in cars yesterday. It hasn't just been in cars. Dogs and cats are dying from being outside in the extreme heat. My heart is breaking!!!

Just a couple of minutes in a car or sitting out in the hot sun is all it takes when the temps are high. Also, don't even take your dogs out if your car has no air conditioning. Dogs are not like people, they don't perspire. The only way they can cool off is by panting although some perspiration can be released through their paws. But it's not enough for their bodies to cool down.

So make sure you dog (or your cat) has a cool spot to rest and has lots of water to drink. I'm sorry if I offended anyone by writing a post such as this but I've worked at the animal clinic for 3 years and it breaks my heart when I have to watch animals suffer and die. It doesn't matter who's pet it is or if I even know them, it's so hard! And the thing that makes it even harder is to know that many of these deaths could have been prevented. I couldn't tell you how many times I've seen this.

Photo Above: Bubba on a recent trip to Michigan. He likes to go with us.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Wildlife & PhotoShop

I was in the mood to play with the patterns and textures in PhotoShop today. I thought I'd get a theme going so I decided to use photos I took at the animal clinic where I work. Many of you already know Howard, our great horned owl that we rehabbed, but did you know that Howard also has a whole bunch of friends at the clinic besides cats and dogs? Here are just a few:

This barn owl is no longer with us. We released him last year.

Our tortoise, this guy weighs in at 60 pounds. That's a large bath towel he's on.

This crane belonged to the zoo. They have not yet come to get it. Look at the back of the head. I think my texturizing is hiding his beautiful crown.


This barred owl was just recently released.


Oh yes, one of my favorites! This is Ghost, a 14 foot Albino Burmese Python. It doesn't live with us, it was just visiting. It belongs to the zoo and we were treating it for a little skin infection.


These are called rheas. They stand about 5 feet tall. Doc ordered them from somewhere. Who knows where though. I think he just likes to collect odd animals. They were actually hamming it up for the camera. They have so much personality!

Hey! I get these in my backyard! This guy was orphaned so we have to play mom until he can take care of himself. Isn't he cute? We had 4 of them but one didn't make it. He was hit by a car and we couldn't save him  :(

This is our resident rooster. He lives with us and sometimes he likes to get out of the fence and I actually had to take him out of some one's car one day because they left the hatch open. Silly guy!
Well, I hope you enjoyed the pictures of Howard's little (and big) friends.

Monday, July 18, 2011

What is Red?

What is red? If you look at the photo above, red is the Chicago Bulls wall hanging, the George Foreman Grill, my red sweater, the four votive candles, and my handy dandy clip (I love that thing). Not shown in the photo above is my face, chest, legs, and shoulders. You would think that at 50 years old I would have learned by now. But all it took was one hour in the pool. ONE HOUR! That sun must have been strong. Imagine what would have happened if I would have stayed in there for the rest of the day. I'd probably be a great big blister. Perhaps I should have listened to Brian about 30 minutes in when he said, "you are starting to look a little pink." I said, "no, I'm fine, it's all good."

Well, next time, I WILL use the sunscreen! And I'll admit it, "he was right and I was wrong." Here it is in black and white for all to see.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Pecan Pie Bars

We went to a graduation open house for my husband's nephew. Some of his family made the drive from Michigan and it was such a nice surprise to see them as well since we only see them a couple times a year. It was a hot, hot day! I took my pecan pie bars. Doesn't matter where I take them, they are gone usually in less than an hour. I thought that recipe would make a wonderful post for today. There are so many summer parties going on and this is something that you might want to take. And for the record, I only had half of one. Stuck to my diet :)

Pecan Pie Bars
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup butter or margarine, cut up
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup butter or margarine
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 1/2 cups finely chopped pecans
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine flour, sugar, and salt in large bowl; cut in 3/4 cup butter thoroughly with a pastry blender until mixture resembles very fine crumbs. Press mixture evenly into a greased 13" x 9" pan, using a piece of plastic wrap to press crumb mixture firmly in pan. Bake at 350° for 17 to 20 minutes or until lightly browned.

Combine brown sugar, corn syrup, and 1/2 cup butter in a saucepan; bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring gently. Remove from heat. Stir one-fourth of hot mixture into beaten eggs; add to remaining hot mixture. Stir in pecans and vanilla. Pour filling over crust. Bake at 350° for 34 to 35 minutes or until set. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Cut into bars.

Yield: 16 large bars.

Friday, July 15, 2011

My 6 Day Computer Break!

I love my blog, I love my computer, and I love designing my graphics. But I also love life! This past weekend and the first 4 days of this week, I took a computer break. Ok, I confess, I checked emails and did a little peeking here and there but I probably only spend 15 minutes a day on the computer. Last night I wasn't feeling well so I layed in bed and watched TV from the time I came home from work til bedtime. And I must say, I felt much better this morning!

So what does one do when they take a computer break? Here's what I did:

 I spent time with my incredibly awesome husband and my furry children. Oh how I love them!

 I took totally stupid and silly pictures.

 I organized my craft closet and of course made a couple trips to JoAnn's and Hobby Lobby. I see a future project in orange and yellow?

Enjoyed the flowers in my garden. My husband does about all the gardening though. I tend to kill everything.

Baked some spiced pretzels using my sister-in-laws top secret recipe.

Caught up on some reading while enjoying some freshly brewed iced tea with fresh lemon. Does that drink look super refreshing or what?

Oh yah...And I did LOTS of this!

So what do you do when you take a computer break?

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Art Fair in St. Joseph, Michigan

Every year, the second week of July, there is a super nice art fair in St. Joseph, Michigan. It's not far from us, maybe 30 minutes, so we like to go and see what they've got. It seems to get bigger and bigger every year.

We went Saturday and as always, we stopped off for a Panera breakfast sandwich first. They are so delicious with their Vermont white cheddar and chiabatta bread. We've noticed differences in the past 3 or 4 years since we started going. The first time we went we parked up close, right across from the booths. Last year we parked about 5 blocks away. This year we parked in the same place but every parking lot had someone holding up a sign and charging $5 to $10 just to park. We got there about 20 minutes early, before the man showed up with the sign.

The crowds were a thousand times worse this year too. Like I said, we got there before they actually "opened" and it was shoulder to shoulder walking. Too much!

We came home, got in the pool, and relaxed for the rest of the afternoon.

Photo Above: The Chocolate Cafe in the downtown area. Does that not spell HEAVEN? And I love this turkey! They had artistic farm animals on all the streets throughout the downtown area. Probably done by local artists, not sure.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Blogging I Love it!

I sure wish blogging was around when my kids were little. Every time I go into my blog reader I see all kinds of cute things that would be so fun for kids parties as well as simple day to day activities.

But I still love it! I find that I never buy magazines anymore. Don't need to. I can get all the craft projects, decorating ideas, recipes, and party ideas from visiting blogs. Then there's the photography, pet stories/photos, traveling, reviews, and just fun stuff.

I especially enjoy visiting blogs around the holidays. Look at how many cute July 4th projects, decorating, and recipes are out there! Next will be all the summer vacation shots, picnics, and yummy food. I can't wait to see all the Halloween blog posts yet to come!

I'm sure digital photography has a lot to do with it. I don't think blogging would be as much fun without all the photos. I'm so happy to have been born in this day and age. Digital photography and blogging are a fun thing to be a part of. I feel like I have the best magazine at my fingertips, literally!

Photo Above: Baby Howard   More Howard

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Creating Balance & July Goals

I've discovered that I've become a disorganized mess! Yes, it's true. Many people think I'm organized but I'm not. It's been my personal experience that when I simplify my life, it's easier to create balance and structure. I have a hard time seeing past the surrounding and mental clutter. Maybe that's why I don't like a cluttered house. I like things neat and tidy. Less is more.

So, I've set some July goals for myself. Not too much, but a list I feel that I can complete with ease. Of course the plan is to excel further but if I don't, then at least I've accomplished what I set out to do.

My July Goals (the ones I don't mind making public)

Lose 7 pounds
Exercise 4 days a week
Drink more water
Back to SparkPeople (it really helps me stay on track)

Personal/Home Goals
Reorganize my craft closet (not bad, should be easy)
Keep up with my personal journal, 4+ days a week

Blog & Business
1 New tutorial for my blog
Add 4 new Zazzle items
Begin working on patterns

So there! That doesn't sound to threatening. I'll post my SUCCESS at the end of July.

Photo Above: My idea of peace and tranquility. The sun setting on the water along the shores of Lake Michigan.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Quick Page Freebie / Brag Book Size


I thought I'd share a quick page with you. It's brag book size (4 x 6) and it will be perfect to use with photos of your July 4th celebrations! Just save it to your computer and open it in your photo editing programs. It's a PNG (300 DPI) format so all you have to do is put your pictures behind. I also left a little space for you to write a little something.

Hope you all have a safe and happy celebration!

You can pick it up HERE

Images for this page were taken from my Patriotic Clipart/Graphic Kit & Patriotic Papers which are available at my Etsy Shop.

All of my freebies are for personal use only.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Pineapple Island Jello Salad

Here is a yummy and refreshing salad it you are looking for something different to take to a party this weekend. It's one of our favorites and if you can even use reduced fat ingredients if you wanted. I've done it and it's still quite good.

1 lg. can of chopped pineapple tidbits
2 small pineapple jellos
8 oz cream cheese, softened
2 cups chopped walnuts
3 cups flaked coconut
3 cups coolwhip

Drain pineapple, set aside. Heat juice, 3 cups (total juice and water) to dissolve jello. Mix cheese with 2 T cream and blend with jello. Chill until fairly thick. Stir in pineapple, nuts, & coconut. Fold whip cream in jello mixture. Chill overnight.
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