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Friday, January 14, 2011

Just a few things...

First, I want to thank each of you who shared words of encouragement with me over the last few days in response to my "no inspiration" post.  They were heard and taken to heart - many thanks!  This post then will be just a few miscellaneous try and get back in the swing of things.

Remember my post about rediscovering puzzles?  Well, here is the first one we tackled as a family.  It's 1,000 pieces and has very interesting puzzle pieces (shapes).  We loved this puzzle, but are trying a few that are smaller for a while before we try another 1,000 piece one.  Love how this puzzle depicts a grandfather teaching his grandsons how to fix a tractor...and the faithful dog just hanging out while they work.

My sewing area was a bit disorganized and tossed about following Christmas - due to making quilts and blankets, so I spent a bit of time re-organizing this space last week. 

Before photo #1

Before photo #2

Now all the fabric is where it should be so I can find it when I want to get into another project.  The fabric to the left of my machine is Heather's scrap quilt top and backing.  It's the next unfinished project on the list.  But first, I have to wait until my machine is fixed - something is funny with the tension and must be adjusted.  Once it's done and I get it back, I will get working on Heather's quilt.  I have to cut out the backing, have it quilted, and then complete the binding.  Once it's done, both she and her sister will have their own scrap quilts that they each designed.  See Julie's finished scrap quilt here.

Tidy sewing area...ahhhh....

My birthday was this past Monday and it was a wonderful day!  My parents drove down to visit and take us to lunch (enjoyed a yummy omelet at Bob Evans), my husband took 1/2 day off (even though it is tax season!), and I received heartfelt gifts from my sweet family.  My parents gave me a new book about how to make scrap quilts, some fabric, and some triangle templates.  Can't wait to get my sewing machine back!  They even made a detour on their regular route to pick up one of my favorite cakes of all time from Kennedy's Bakery in Cambridge (Ohio).  It's this sinfully delicious pineapple cake with bits of pineapple baked into the cake and creamy frosting with coconut on top.  Yum!

Why does it say Happy Birthday Monk you say?  My cheeks reminded my Dad of a chipmunk when I was little, so he called me "Monk" - short for "Chipmunk Cheeks".  And yes, he's the only one who can get away with that other than my Momma. 

My hubby brought me a bouquet of beautiful red roses!  He even included a beautiful yellow rose with red edges for my Momma who celebrated her birthday four days before mine.

Julie made me slippers on her loom!  They're so adorable and will fit perfectly once she makes a few adjustments.  I will try to get a decent photo on here of them soon.  Heather learned how to play Happy Birthday on the piano the day before my birthday - all while I was at the grocery store!  She played it beautifully for both my Momma (Gloria) and me on Monday.  My Mom (Chris) told me there is a surprise waiting for me for my birthday at my favorite quilt shop - I plan to get up there today!  My Sis Kimmie sent me a beautiful scarf and comfy jammies too!  I felt blessed and loved by my family in a special way that day.  I know they always love me and treat me wonderfully, but that day was just... special.

In case you're wondering - yes, I have two moms - my birth mom and my adoptive mom.  My Mom, Christine, blessed me by giving me up for adoption (infant) and my Momma, Gloria, raised me along with my Dad, Larry.  Christine found me seven years ago this July and at that time I was introduced to my birth family!  It's been an interesting seven years!  But that is a story for an entirely new post...someday.

Heather has been busy drawing again and this is her latest masterpiece.  Isn't it sweet?  Notice the drawing of me is the largest...hmmm...not sure what to make of that. (hee hee).  I happen to think she is very talented!  I might have to switch out my avatar for a bit!  No, just kidding, but wouldn't that be interesting? 

Other than these highlights, I am in the midst once again of trying to make adjustments to our curriculum for the remainder of the year.  Math-u-See just took a tiresome turn into "frustrating" and our history is not what I want for the girls at present.  Looking at Saxon for math and Story of the World for history.  Does anyone have any thoughts on what you use for these subjects?

Well, all my best to you today!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Not Feeling Inspired...At All

This is the conclusion to which I have come (I think...) - taking three weeks off from writing is too long!  I can't seem to get excited about any topic...can't get my mind around what to write...and am feeling absolutely no inspiration at all.  It's discouraging and frustrating.  I kind of feel like this old metal container - empty and a bit worn around the edges.  (love, love this container though!)

Has anyone else gone through this?  Or are you going through this right now?  If you've already "been there, done that", how did you pull yourself out of it?  I'd love to hear your thoughts.

It's as if a switch has been turned off...and I just can't get the brain to work the way I need it to.  I can stare at the cursor on a blank page for a while and try to come up with something brilliant to write, but to no avail for a few weeks now.  Ugh!  I feel as though I'm at a standstill...and I'm not one to sit or stand still!  (Ask anyone who knows me!)

In the meantime, I'm trying to catch up on comments on my own blog and I've enjoyed visiting other blogs and commenting as well.  That's worthwhile and fun, but I still wish I could get excited about writing something here too, you know?

This post isn't meant to be a downer!  I'd just really appreciate any thoughts or tips you have to possibly get back on track?  Thanks!

All my best to you today,

Sunday, January 2, 2011

A New Year and New Recipes

Happy New Year!   

I hope your Christmas and New Year's celebrations were fun and blessed times with loved ones.  The Pardoes enjoyed much time with family and friends and have thoroughly enjoyed our vacation time.  It's back to "normal" around here tomorrow though!

As some of you may remember, we are attempting to eat a bit healthier around here due to existing health challenges or ones that seem to be impending (age is so wonderful, 'eh?).  I'm going to share with you three new recipes we tried over the holidays.  I love the Orange Bran Flax Muffins!  I'm alone in that apparently, but then I do live with three particular eaters.  The Parmesan Crusted Chicken Tenders were a big hit with everyone and the Baked Pita Chips were a hit  I finally found something I can eat with hummus!  Speaking of hummus, if anyone has a homemade recipe for hummus, I'd love it if you'd share it with me.  Making it at home has to be less expensive than buying it in the store (right?).

In fact, if you have a healthy recipe you and your family love, won't you link up below?  I'd love to expand my recipe book with some delicious and healthy recipes and I'm sure others would too!  Thank you!

Orange Bran Flax Muffins

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

  • 1 1/2 cups oat bran or oatmeal
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup flaxseed, ground
  • 1 cup wheat bran
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)
  • 2 oranges - quartered and seeded - don't peel
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 cups golden or regular raisins
Combine oat bran (or oatmeal), flour, wheat bran, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.

In a blender:  combine the oranges, brown sugar, buttermilk, oil, eggs, and baking soda.  Blend well.  Just a quick note here - if your blender is a simple design and not a commercial brand - just use the pulse function to blend the ingredients until the oranges are broken down into smaller pieces.  Otherwise the blender might struggle a bit with the bulk of the oranges.  I did this with mine and it worked perfectly.

Pour the orange mixture into the bowl with the dry ingredient mixture.  Mix well.  (I used my mixer for this, but it could be done by hand too.)

Fold in the raisins.  I imagine any dried fruit could be used in place of the raisins - dried cranberries, dried pineapple, or dried cherries, but since I haven't tried it, this is just my humble opinion.

Fill 24 muffin tins and bake for 18 to 20 minutes.  Cool in pans for about 5 minutes and then remove to wire racks to cool completely.

You could always 1/2 this recipe for 12 muffins too!

Recipe Resource:  (Please don't be alarmed at the title - I have discovered that some of the healthiest recipes can be found on sites like these.)

Baked Pita Chips

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

  • 12 pita bread pockets - wheat would be healthier
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon black ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried chervil or dried parsley

Cut each pita bread into 8 triangular slices.  Place triangles on lined cookie sheet.

Combine the oil, pepper, salt, basil, and chervil (or parsley) in a small bowl and mix well.

Brush each pita triangle with the herbed oil mixture.

Bake in the preheated oven for about 7 minutes or until the pita triangles are lightly browned and crispy.  Keep an eye on them because they can burn easily.

Recipe Resource:

Parmesan-Crusted Chicken Tenders

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.  Place a wire rack on a baking sheet and coat with cooking spray.

  • Canola or olive oil cooking spray
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup coarse dry breadcrumbs, preferably whole-wheat
  • 1 pound chicken tenders
  • 1 Tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup marinara sauce, heated
 You will need four shallow containers:  put the Italian seasoning, garlic powder and salt into one, flour into the next one, eggs in the third, and the Parmesan cheese and wheat bread crumbs in the fourth.  Line them in this order too for easy dipping.

Toss the chicken tender first in the spices.  Coat it next with flour.  Dip it into egg (making sure it's completely covered) and allow the excess egg to drip off.  Dip the chicken tender last into the Parmesan and bread crumb mixture and then place onto the wire baking rack.

When you have a full rack, generously coat all the tenders with a coating of the canola oil or olive oil spray.

Bake for 5 minutes at 450 degrees.  Turn the tenders over and cook for an additional 5 minutes.

Serve the tenders with heated marinara sauce.

Just a few notes:  it's easy to make your own bread crumbs - toast the bread in a toaster, allow the toast to cool, break into pieces, and then using the pulse function on your blender, make the crumbs.  Or, you can use Panko breadcrumbs which can be found in the natural-foods section of most grocery stores.

I lament that I didn't take a photo of these - I was too busy dishing them up alongside the shrimp cocktail for our New Year's Eve dinner.  (yum!)  You can see a photo of them by clicking on the Recipe Resource below.

Recipe Resource:

Won't you link up your  favorite healthy recipes?  Thanks so much!

All my very best to you today and in the coming year!