Added Incentive?

So, I can't help but notice that i got no comments on the last post. This leads me to think that I didn't interest anyone enough to try it. Or maybe everyone one who reads my blog is already cooking something new for their families every night? I'm not judging but i doubt it. I thought I might add a point of interest to motivate you. Not that most people who read this blog need to even been concerned with this but it's cool none the less. Each of these meals, including one if not two of the side dishes mentioned, is at most 600 calories! the bulk of them are closer to 400-500 but a few are higher. I have a big problem with portion control. I can usually eat more then any man at the table (excluding my brother in law Joe. what can i say? he has a gift). this has lead to some extra poundage needing to be addressed and these meals helped me feel full but not gross and sluggish.
who knows? maybe you guys just aren't interested in cooking?


A Modified Challenge

A blog I follow, Give Them Roots, is doing a challenge. It sounded interesting so i thought i would give it a try. i changed the rules a bit to better fit my situation.

one of the changes is a VERY, VERY bad habit. we do not usually eat together at the table. i feel extra guilty about this change because i really do know how important 'family at the table' meals are. my reasoning to not do this is totally selfish. i like to eat. a lot. having an 8 year old ask "if i eat this many bites can i be done?" every five minutes and having a 2 year old who wants whatever anyone else has and then chews it up and spits it out over and over is not my idea of a good meal. i hate it. after this kind of meal i am not only i in a terrible mood but my stomach hurts. so, i am being selfish and i eat after the kids are in bed.

the other change is we do eat repeats. pretty much all recipes and ingredients are written and sold for 4 people. this means we have leftovers. i am cheap. we will eat those leftovers until they are gone and then i will make a new meal.

overall it has been really fun. i have several "go to" websites that i look for recipes on and have found that i really like cooking. also, i am kind of good at it. i NEVER would have said that a month ago. not that i am a bad cook but nothing really special. i can usually cook without burning but felt that most of my food tasted the same.

here is a list of the new recipes we have tried.

week 1
Spinach Lasagna Rolls
Zucchini Casserole
White Pizza
Strawberry, Feta and Spinach Salad(adapted)
Quinoa and Black Bean Salad
Grilled Stone Fruits with a Balsamic Glaze
Flank Steak with tomatoes and Onions
Cauliflower Fritters
Asian Chicken Orzo
Cucumber Salad
Parmesan Tilapia (one of the ones we didn't like)
Baked Zucchini Fries
Bacon, Almond Green beans (not sure where i got this recipe)

week 2

Sun Dried Tomato and Bacon Chicken
Broccoli and Toasted Garlic
Baked Coconut Shrimp
Fiesta Rice
Chicken Gyros
Vegetarian Steamed Dumplings
Pasta Primavera
Grilled Eggplant Wraps
Roasted Butternut Squash
i have a feeling a might have cheated on some of the side dishes this week and just grilled up what ever was fresh that week

week 3 we are only part of the way through this one but i will list everything

Tofu stir fry with rice
Vegetarian Ribollita ( josh did not care for this. i liked it though)
Baked onion rings
roasted acorn squash
slow cooked black eyed peas and ham
creamy cauliflower puree
potato leek soup
quinoa fried "rice"
zucchini pancakes
lime, chili corn on the cob
mixed baby green with blackberries and toasted almonds
tilapia with Thai coconut curry (this is a new one for me. i don't really like curry)
Bangin Good shrimp
baked chicken nuggets
Asian glazed drumsticks
collard greens and bacon
Zucchini, squash saute (just like it sounds)

It's pretty fun and worth trying. the only down side is trying to widen our flavor range caused me to have to spend a little extra to buy seasoning and spices we didn't have but i think it was totally worth it. I even bought an apron!


Finally Finished

The project took FOREVER!!!!!! i thought i would be able to crank it out in a long weekend but i didn't take into account how long paint needs to cure before you put anything on it. anyway. my sister terra originally got my nana's dining room set. this included a table that seats 6 with chairs and a hutch. neither were really my style but we didn't have a table so when terra offered it to me i took it. as you can see it has a yellowish 70s type finish to it. very, very unappealing. i kind of regretted taking it because it not only isn't my style but it does not fit in our dining room. i, however, am SUPER cheap so we kept it. after a while though it really started getting to me. josh got excited at getting rid of it and not having to move it again. i guess he forgot how cheap i am. before we ditched it i wanted to try refinishing it. here we go.

here is what i started with.

yucky yellow/orange finish.

after sanding for a bit i decided to head to home depot for a consult (in hopes that there was a way around all the sanding). this is where i met Dave. my paint guy. he gave me the bad news gently. i either had to use a primer, which would mess up my desired end result, or sand the whole thing. my arm is tired.

and this is only the bottom half.

on to painting. oh, wait. i forgot to take any pictures of that. maybe it was my haste in trying to paint while em either didn't notice or wasn't around. sorry. i ended up using a black oil based paint used on boats.

so.. here is what i ended up with

in the end i sanded the whole thing twice. i didn't like it at first. i was hoping to only sand a bit but once i sanded an area you could really tell unless i sanded the whole thing once over after painting. this made it look a bit more distressed then i intended but within a few days a liked it. anything way better then before though.

the lighting sucks in my house

a lot of work but at least we like it now. plus it kept me busy which is always good. now to get a table we like.


Isa's Birthdays

As usual Isa had multiple birthday "things" this year. i think i made 3 separate birthday desserts and that was only by the time she got to the family party she opted for ice cream. i wont go into how old i feel on this birthday. but i do.
before we do the party pictures i want to show you why i feel old.

I'm just saying. anyway here we go.

school birthday! as i said in my previous post. Isa requested these.

they were a huge hit and the kids loved them!! it made a HUGE mess in my kitchen though.

the next day was her friend party. she decided to take just a few friends roller skating instead of a huge party. (which was nice for me). i think she thought that since she had just discovered skating her friends had too. they however, were great skaters and i think it upset Isa a bit. she is still in the hold onto the edge and shuffle stage. after a few break downs i got her a little walker to push and she was much happier.

group shot

posing in the arcade

much happier with the walker

after skating we headed home for dinner and cake.

one very happy girl

josh and i intentionally did not blow up balloons because they get everywhere and it takes about a week to locate and pop them all. guess what the first thing the girls asked for was when they got into the house?

emmeline of course wanted to play too.

i think this picture accurately shows how difficult it is for someone one of her stature to carry 2 balloons.

isabella requested a blueberry cake with lemon icing for her cake this year. very yummy.

it is amazing how much noise 4 girls can make. very, giggly. isa loved her gifts. she got a motion sensor for her bedroom door, a new beach towel, and a bead pet kit. she has been playing with all of them non-stop. a good 8th birthday. did i mention that i feel old? i do.

oh, and i didn't even mention that snickerdoodles she asked for for girls scouts!


Better Off a Hermit

I don't like how emotions make me feel. pretty much every emotion leaves me feeling shaky and slightly nauseous. it's an overall unpleasant experience. so it seems to me that hermits have my dream life. some people want a big house, a nice car, and to be surrounded by friends.

me, not so much. i would love to be in a little shack in the woods where when i felt like i could handle an interaction with another human i could choose to come out. i mean, i haven't totally lost it (i think) so i know i would occasionally enjoy being around other humans. It's just that emotions are 100% overstimulating. my senses can only take so much before they start to shut down. i can fight the shut down for a while and even have about a 40% success rate in delaying it. then i feel shaky and nauseous.

it's like my body processes emotion and a stomach bug the same way. "what is this strange feeling? maybe it's just my imagination. nope, still there. well, maybe if i ignore it it will go away. nope still there. crap! i think i need to puke!"

so, i think it is safe to say that i would rather avoid them. my life doesn't seem to understand that though. or maybe it just doesn't care. either way i seem to end up feeling shaky and nauseous. i bet most people who have to interact with me do as well.

not very articulate i know. maybe i'll do better next time. anyway, i hope i'm not catching.


The Things I Do For This Face (a little more appetizing)

last year Isa wasn't in school on her birthday. she really missed being able to have a treat at school with her friends. this year her birthday falls on the last day of school so i was determined to do something. i set up a date and time with her teacher. then i made the mistake of asking her what she wanted me to bring. first she wanted three different kinds of cupcakes with three different icings. um, nope. i told her she had to pick one flavor. she was pretty disappointed and asked for some time to think about it. a few days later she told me what she wanted after having seen one of the cooking blogs i follow. Rainbow Donuts. i agreed. yes i am that cool. i think they turned out pretty good but since i am calorie restricting i haven't actually tasted one. i mean, come on, fried dough covered in sugar. they have to be good.

the leftovers. covered in sugar of course.

the close up artsy one