Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Merry and Bright...

Remember how I told you about my sultry love affair with eggnog?  Even though I've been in weight loss mode, the love affair has not ended.  I love it just as much this year as I did last year!  I'm just being a lot more careful about how much I consume.  In honor of that love affair, I'm once again sharing my Merry and Bright Homemade Eggnog Recipe...

EASY EGGNOG
3/4 cup sugar
3 1/2 cups of 2% milk
1 teaspoon ground Cinnamon
dash of nutmeg
6 egg yolks
1 pint of heavy cream
1 cup of Rum (optional)
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract (optional)


In a saucepan, combine milk, cinnamon, vanilla extract and nutmeg and bring to a slow (and I do mean slow) boil.  Remove the saucepan from heat and set aside.  Combine egg yolks and sugar with a hand mixer until well blended (when the yolks are an ivory color, you can stop).  Slowly pour this mixture into the saucepan.  Add the pint of cream.  Return the saucepan to low heat and continue stirring until a creamy texture is formed...about 5-7 minutes.  NOTE:  heat must be low or you will scramble the eggs and curdle the milk.  Pour into container and refrigerate overnight.  Mix with rum when serving, if desired.  Sprinkle with cinnamon or nutmeg.....or both or neither!

Eggnog is one of those little pleasures we have to take in life. Oh, and so are those Red Velvet Crinkle Cookies...I didn't burn this batch either! :-)



Sure, I will do a few more squats, jumping jacks, lunges and crunches to work this off, but every sip is totally worth it!

I wish you all a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!  I will leave you with this Christmas song by Greg Lake...




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Monday, December 19, 2016

I Was On A Roll.....

I shared with you last week my venture into cookie baking.  Something you must know is that, until the Red Velvet Crinkle Cookies, the last time I had a successful cookie baking session, I was using my Easy Bake Oven and was about 11-years-old.  They were awful but my parents choked them down, as it was their sworn duty to do so!

At the blogger's luncheon a couple of weeks ago, one of the bloggers had baked some wonderful Gingerbread Crinkle Cookies.  The hubster loved them so I decided to try to find the recipe.  I didn't find Eilis' recipe (I later e-mailed her to get it), but I did find an alternative that would do in a pinch.  And while my friend Connie was here to put out any fires (literally), I got her to help me again.  After all, the Red Velvet Crinkle cookies were edible, so why not roll the dice one more time...famous last words, right?!?  Notice I did not say that this recipe was "easy peasy" and that I didn't mess it up...keep that in mind.  :-)

Here's the recipe we used for the Ginger Crinkle Cookies:

1 cup sugar
3/4 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup molasses
1 egg
2 cups All-Purpose Flour
1 1/2 tablespoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon allspice
3 tablespoons powdered sugar, for rolling

Heat oven to 375 degrees.  In a large bowl, beat 1 cup sugar and the butter together with an electric mixer on medium speed, or mix with a spoon until soft and fluffy (I used a mixer...I'm lazy that way).  Beat in molasses and egg.  Stir in remaining ingredients, EXCEPT for the 3 tablespoons of powdered sugar (for rolling only) until well blended.

Place the 3 tablespoons of powdered sugar in a small bowl.  Shape dough by tablespoonfuls into balls; roll in sugar.  On ungreased cookie sheet (we used parchment paper), place balls 2 inches apart.

Bake 6 to 8 minutes or until golden brown.  I had to bake for a little over 9 minutes.  Remove from oven and after 1 or 2 minutes, transfer cookies to cooling rack.


We made 2 batches of these cookies, each batch yielding about 40 cookies.  The first batch came out fine, as did the second batch.  ONLY, on the second batch of cookies, I melted the butter because it was frozen and was going to take forever to unthaw.  Who knew that melted butter changed the texture of the dough?  Certainly not me!!  But it did.  It made the dough lighter and more fluffy...I loved the feel of this dough but you can't handle it as long (it gets sticky/melty) and it wouldn't hold the powered sugar...the dough soaked it right up.

Both batches of cookies looked and tasted exactly the same.  Since the dough wouldn't hold the powdered sugar, after cooling, I had to rain shower the powdered sugar on the cookies.  No biggie...just made them better....see for yourself....


...not one single cookie left to photograph!  I should have done it right after they were through cooling, but I thought I would have some left.  Note to self:  hide the Ginger Crinkles from the hubster!!

I will be making more cookies this week (grabbing photos immediately) and will be flying solo.  Connie had to return to Wyoming and we have no Red Velvet Crinkles or Ginger Crinkles to take to Alabama for the holidays.  To quote Dr. Seuss...."And the one speck of food that he left in the house, was a crumb that was even too small for a mouse."

Wish me luck!  If these turn out well, I will move on to something a little more complicated and delicate....Aspen Snowflake Potato Chip Cookies!

 
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Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Cookies and Such...

Last week I had the opportunity to have lunch with some fellow bloggers.  It was so wonderful to meet them in person...I just love being able meet people (in person) that I've been talking to online, don't you??!!

At the end of the luncheon there was a cookie exchange.  Since cookie baking is NOT one of my strong points, I brought cookies that had been baked by someone so much better than me...Brookshire's!  I know, I know...a complete travesty, but as I said, cookie baking is just not my thing.

After thinking about it for a few days, I decided that I would give cookie baking another chance.  My best friend from Cheyenne would be visiting and cookie baking is HER thing, so I chose a couple of recipes that seemed absolutely harmless for us to bake while she was here...famous last words, right?!  Well, you will be happy to know that I did not set the kitchen on fire, nor did I burn one single cookie!  All 3 cookie baking ventures were a success and I'm so proud of myself.

Here is one of the recipes we used....Red Velvet Crinkle Cookies.


This recipe is super easy and you really can't mess it up...

1 package of Duncan Hines or Betty Crocker Red Velvet Cake Mix
2 large eggs
6 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 cup powdered sugar, for rolling and sprinkling

1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Grease baking sheet or use parchment paper.  We used parchment paper.

2.  Combine cake mix, eggs and butter in a large bowl using a wooden spoon.

3.  Refrigerate dough for about 20 minutes.  If you don't, it will be sticky and difficult to handle.

4.  Shape dough into 1-inch balls.  Roll balls in powdered sugar.  You can use a little or a lot.

5.  Place dough balls onto baking sheet approximately 2 inches apart.

6.  Bake for 8 to 9 minutes or until edges are set and inserted toothpick comes out clean.  Cooking time will depend on your oven.  I had to bake for a smidge over 11 minutes.  At the 9 minute mark, start testing them for doneness.  They will rise and then fall and "crinkle".  Don't freak out...they are supposed to crack open.

7.  Remove from oven, let sit for 1 minute and then transfer to cooling rack.  Sprinkle with more powdered sugar, if desired.


See, easy peasy.  And they taste delicious...soft and chewy!!  I'm having a hard time not eating them all at one sitting!






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Thursday, December 1, 2016

Little Black Dress...

Well, here we are...at that time of year where schedules are hectic and parties are plentiful!  If you are like us, your calendar for the month of December is almost completely booked with places to go, people to see, scrumptious food to eat...but we won't talk about the food, right??!!  :-)

What I do want to talk about is this....the Little Black Dress!  Everyone should own a Little Black Dress.  It is like a staple for the pantry, but for your closet. :-)  Believe it or not, I've never owned a Little Black Dress, but now that I've lost weight it is time to get one!

Here are a few I've been looking at...believe me, they take the word "little" literally...


While the 20-year-old in me says "you can rock this", my 55-year-old body says "you can't wear none o' that"....nevertheless, it is too cute!

I like this one because it seems to be one of those "shapeless" dresses that fits your specific shape.


There is only one problem with this dress...the back is open.  Now, my back looks fine, but I don't think the dress would look too well with my bra straps showing.  One thing about being older...you NEVER leave home without a bra....ever!!  Well, unless you want to frighten small children and scar them for life!  While I know there are alternatives and cuppy things you can wear, I believe this dress is perfect for someone perkier than me!

I love the sleeves on this dress (if I could keep them out of a dip or sauce...I can see me dragging around cocktail dip on one of those sleeves all night)...


...and the length! I'm short, it would hit right at my knees.

After looking at 12 bazillion dresses, I determined that this one might be the best fit for me...


...it's longer, covers all body parts, has a small scoop in the back and my bra won't show!  It checks all of my boxes!!

I also found these perfect Little Black Dress shoes...


lulus.com

...but they are sold out...figures!

Soooooo, what's your style of Little Black Dress?

 
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Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving....

I hope you all have a wonderfully blessed Thanksgiving holiday!  In my typical fashion, I will leave you with a short video!




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Friday, November 18, 2016

Shake, Shake, Shake....


I've been telling you all about that wonderful milkshake that I drink every day with our new fitness plan....I know you were beginning to think it didn't exist, but it really does!!

While there are quite a few pre-made shakes out there to use, I prefer to make my own because I can control the sugar, carbs, calories, etc.   Here is the recipe I use for my daily protein shake:


1/2 scoop EAS Soy Protein Powder (Chocolate)
1/2 cup Silk Almond Milk (Light)
2 teaspoons Benefiber
1/4 medium banana
1 tablespoon of Hershey's Dark Chocolate Powder
1 cup ice


I put all of these ingredients into the Ninja cup, screw on the lid and blend!  If it seems a little thick, I will add several drops of almond milk. I drink this right after my morning workout to feed my muscles some protein.  In a pinch, this shake can also be used as a meal replacement. Sometimes, when I'm feeling a little adventurous and need some extra calories, I use the Silk Nutchello Milk...OH. MY. GOODNESS... it is so chocolatey, rich and YUM!!


This recipe is versatile.  You can use a whole banana, a whole cup of milk, and an entire scoop of protein powder.  I want low calories, low sugar and low carbs, so I use smaller portions.

The EAS Soy Protein Powder also comes in vanilla flavor.  The change I make for vanilla is to eliminate the Hershey's Dark Chocolate and add 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract.  I will sometimes add a little apple pie spice (to taste).  Either shake is absolutely delicious and helps with not feeling deprived of the things I enjoy!

As always, please, please, please speak to your doctor before you alter your diet or start an exercise program, especially if you have issues like high blood pressure or diabetes.  The things I have shared on my blog are changes that work for me and for the hubster.


Outside of menopause, I have no underlying health issues.  Of course, the hubster says I'm closer to dead than he is (with his high blood pressure) as my resting pulse is only 57, which in his words is "barely above ground"...LOL.  That is probably why it is taking me 3 times longer to lose a few pounds!!


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Thursday, November 17, 2016

Holiday Place Settings....

I know I promised a post on that wonderful milkshake I drink every day, but I really wanted you all to see these before the holiday bustle kicks in next week! :-)

I am constantly perusing Pinterest.  I had stopped for a while...just like blogging and Instagram and did very well managing those addictions.  Unfortunately, I started looking again.  While Pinterest isn't necessarily a BAD thing...it is not a PRODUCTIVE thing. :-)

While scrolling around last week, I saw so many gorgeous place settings for the holidays, but these two really caught my eye...


I love the black plate in the middle of this setting... and all of the goldware....just gorgeous!  Who would have thought to use a black plate for a holiday place setting?  Not me, that's for sure.

For Christmas, I found this beauty...


Both of these are so simple and so elegant...what do you think?


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Monday, November 14, 2016

Moderation, Not Deprivation...


There it was, staring me in the face, in black and white…..my TRUE weight!  Surely the scales HAD to be wrong! (No, those are not my legs...I wish they were)



The last time I weighed this much I gave birth to something.  This time, unfortunately, I didn’t have anything waiting to be born.  With a disgusting sigh, I stepped off the scales and weighed (…ha…get it…) :-) my options.

The way I saw it, I had two choices….I could maintain my current miserable weight or I could get busy and do something about it.  And let me tell you, this was hard for me as I've never had a weight problem.  Stupid menopause!!

Since the hubster was battling his own weight issues and some borderline high blood pressure problems, we set out on our weight loss venture.

The first decision we made is that we would not diet...we would not deprive ourselves of the foods we enjoyed...we would be moderate with our intake of them.  We developed a healthy routine of eating and exercise that would work for us.  We wanted this change to be permanent, not temporary.  We turned to technology (the last place one would think about looking) for answers, downloaded a few fitness and calorie counting apps, researched some food plans and began our journey.

As of today, I've lost 15 pounds and the hubster has lost 20.  He dropped his in 4 weeks, while it has taken me 3 months (don't you hate that men can lose weight so much more easily?).  I went from a 4 Mt. Dew-a-day habit to rarely drinking caffeine.  And believe me, leaving those Mt. Dews behind has been difficult.  Now, I drink anywhere between 1 ½ to 2 gallons of water a day.

By using MyFitnessPal and FitBit, we have learned to be aware of exactly what we are eating.  Everything we eat gets recorded, including vitamins...they have calories.  The hubster laughs and says that he doesn't really have to worry about his calories since I can recite the calories, sugars, carbs, fat and protein content of just about everything we eat.



We both exercise.  I exercise 5-6 days a week...some cardio, some strength training/toning.  I do it all from home.  I didn't want to go to the gym while I was overweight, so I thought I would lose all of the weight I wanted and then try the gym.  We have eliminated a lot of processed foods, eating more protein, fruits and veggies..I eat more fruits, the hubster eats more veggies...we balance it out.  We still go out to eat, we just make better choices.

We still eat our favorite foods...pasta, bread, rice, nachos, cake, chocolate, tacos, etc. we just eat it in moderation.  I still plan on having egg nog during the holidays....I just won't have 3 glasses before bedtime! :-)  When we went to the State Fair this year, we split a fried snickers and I had a foot long corny dog...after all, you cannot go to the fair and not have a corny dog!

Our rule is and will be moderation, not deprivation.  We feel that most diets fail because one has to deprive themselves of something they enjoy.  So far, our plan is working for us.  Each person has to find what works for them.   And the best part of this weight loss journey....besides the weight loss....I get to have a chocolate or vanilla milkshake EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.  I will share that recipe in my next post!  But for now, a little something for your viewing pleasure...




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Thursday, November 10, 2016

One Year Ago....

...I was getting all settled and snug in our sweet little home in Tennessee.  Since we are currently living in Texas in "house limbo" and all of my decorations and belongings are packed in 1.3 million boxes (the hubster's count, not mine), I decided to share a few fall memories from last year and give you a few updates...


In my June post, I told you about having to sell our house to move back to Texas.  We listed the house in May as "For Sale by Owner".  We had some traffic and some repeat lookers, but nothing serious.


At the end of May, we moved our listing to MLS.  We had an offer in 3 days...we actually received the offer the date of my last post.  We closed on the morning of July 8th and were sleeping in a Texas bed that night.  A sweet, young couple bought our house and it was perfect for them.  They were as excited as we had been when we bought the house.  I do hope they are loving it as much as we did.

Since moving back, lots of changes have taken place.  We decided to build a home since we couldn't really find anything that we liked.  Plans fell through with the first builder...we just didn't think $164/sq.ft. was a reasonable price.

We found another subdivision and are under contract...this new house will be called "50 Shades of Gray"....I will save those details for another post. We are hoping that one day soon they will begin construction.  Every time we ask about something we get the "Money Pit" movie response....two weeks.  Everything is two weeks! :-)



We are currently living in my in-laws Texas home.  They permanently moved back to Alabama and their house here is currently for sale.  We are so grateful and thankful to have a place to live while our house is being built.


During July, our family suffered, quite unexpectedly, the loss of 3 family members.  We have been devastated.  In October, another precious family member died.  Needless to say, we are not really looking forward to the holidays this year.

Another loss the hubster and I have experienced is the loss of two small children. NO, I do not mean we actually lost children...we just lost enough weight between the two of us that would equal two small children.  I've lost 15 pounds and the hubster has lost 20.  And let me tell you, I've worked hard for almost 3 months for my measly 15, while the hubster's went away in 4 weeks...sheesh!!


I will have to save those details for another post as well....I know...it bites doesn't it! :-)  But I can't give you all the details in one post...it would be 47,000 pages long, so I have to give it to you in small pieces....


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Tuesday, November 8, 2016

My Favorite Scent...

...this fall has been Bath & Body Works' Warm Apple Pie.  When they had it on sale, I bought as many of those little Wallflower plug-ins as I could stuff in a bag because I knew they would be gone quickly.  Normally, I'm a Sweet Cinnamon Pumpkin kind of girl, but for some reason I thought I would change things up a bit.

I found this Wallflower plug online...

...and will be heading to the store in the next few days to see if they have one available.  Isn't he adorable??!!  I already have one of him in silver, but think the gold will be a nice contrast.

I'm still trying to decide what scent I want to use for Christmas.  I normally purchase 'Tis the Season, but since I stepped outside of my box for my fall scent, it seems I will need to find something else for Christmas.  This one looks appetizing...I mean, looks like it smells good...

...because WHO doesn't love gingerbread!  Over the next few posts, I will be giving you an update on what's been going on...


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Thursday, June 2, 2016

A Quick Update....

I know most of you think that I have fallen off the face of the earth, but truly, I haven't.  :-)

Life has been a bit overwhelming and has literally been turned upside down since the loss of my dad a few months ago.

My youngest son moved to Florida to live near my oldest son.  While I hate that they are both so far away, the good news is that when I visit them in Florida, I will also get to visit with my sweet friend Dewena.

In addition to the loss of my dad and getting my youngest son settled in Florida, I had the flu for almost 2 months...yes 2 very long months!!  I thought it would never leave...it was attached like a leech!!

Soon after the flu departed, we found out that we have to move back to Texas.  Yes, our sweet home that we spent so much time searching for and decorating will have to be sold.  It is officially on the market.


If I could move this house to Texas I would move it...and be quick about doing so....it would sure save time having to look for a new one and doing all of that decorating again.  But here's the biggest rub....after all of those years trying to grow hydrangeas, I finally have them...a large bush full of beautiful lush, white blooms....and I have to leave it behind!  Life just loves to kick you in the knee sometimes!

As much as I dislike the life changes that have taken place over the last few months, I do know that this is how it is...a roller coaster of the grandest proportions and we are only along for the ride....you better hold on tight!

I do hope to be back writing regularly before too long, so please bear with me!




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Friday, February 26, 2016

Small Change...BIG Impact...

I am a firm believer that a small change in a home can lead to a BIG impact.  When redoing areas of our home, I look for things that I think will make the most difference and give us the most "bang for our buck"....like....a light fixture!

The entry of our home is rather small so I wanted to change something in this area that would really make a difference to the feel of our home when you walk in.  Instead of looking around, I decided to look up...up to the contractor grade light fixture hanging from the ceiling.


When we looked at this house, I knew there were some contractor grade fixtures that would be changed...primarily the light fixtures.  While there is absolutely nothing wrong with these light fixtures, I wanted something that would make more of a personal statement about us and our home.  I believe that light fixtures give our home a little extra personality.

Over the weekend, I found this light at a local lighting store.


I knew immediately it was the one for me.  You know, that love at first sight deal!

The hubster quickly installed this beautiful light for me (bad cell phone pic, but cute hubster).  It didn't take him long at all and you do not have to be an electrician to change out a light fixture.  You just have to be safe...as in, turn off the circuit breaker, do your best to keep your wife from squealing while you are on the ladder and don't let her shake the ladder hold the ladder steady for you.


Our entry now has a totally different feel and totally different look!


Small change, BIG impact!!


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