Wednesday, January 25, 2012

What I have been up to.

I had my weigh in with the dietician today... and hate that their scale weighs me 5 pounds heavier than mine does. But still, it also recorded the two pound loss I talked about on Monday.

We talked more about environmental changes I can make, especially ones to help me over my exercise hurdle, and also about reframing some of the way I think about food. I left her feeling positive about my plan going forward. Just the type of support I needed after a few bad days of feeling in the pits.

I have been working on a couple of new projects at night, and took my first steps toward creating a quilt... I messed up the pattern I was trying to make because I paired my triangles wrong, but I still think it will make a decent little play blanket for Ava. I had it all sewn together but had to rip a few of the seams out to fix the pattern. I am getting really fast at seam ripping. Soon I will be able to be an Olympic ripper.

Here is a crude idea of what it will look like once I sew it all back together again :)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Look within

When you can't count on those around you for support... When you are kicked when you are already feeling down. Remember YOU have what it takes.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Monday... Motivation?

I have this problem... See, I seem to have lost my motivation and can't seem to find it. I feel like sleeping. I feel like eating carbs. My throat kind of hurts, and I don't want to go to work. I caught the winter blues and am having a hard time shaking them off. I think I want to hibernate.

I would love to get back to the disciplined self I was in September when I was working out every day and loving it. I want to be dedicated to eating healthy like I was in December. But I am having a hard time. I am going to need to dig deep to find my way off this path I can feel myself slipping down...

In part I think I am having a hard time balancing everything I want to do and need up do in a day. Time for myself begins once Ava is down for the night and I go finish cleaning the kitchen. Then I want to sew or craft, read, and go to bed at a reasonable time... Not go work out and shower. How do I fit it all in? How do I get to find time for myself and still take care of myself and the things I should be doing as opposed to the things I want to do?

Still working on that one... In the meantime, I thought this was appropriate. Oh and this week I am another -2 so now 36 more to hit my first goal.

Friday, January 20, 2012

My sunshine!

Our first sledding experience... Down the driveway :)

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Another bag

I finished my second bag... Got the tutorial from In Color Order :) I liked how much easier this was with lining everything up and sewing. This is what I would want to do if I make the first bag again.

Here are some photos of the project.
Line up fabrics and sew together.  Then sew around perimeter with right sides together.
Leave about 1 inch opening for the drawstrings.  

Measure your triangle to box your corners... you box all 4 corners you have created.

Sew along the line and cut off excess.

Almost done!  How UGLY is my ironing board?

Now just working on cutting squares for my 1st little quilting project. I am going to start with a pillow... But a bigger one so that Ava can lounge on it. She LOVES lounging and sitting on pillows... and I LOVE her!
I realized that I can order some extra feet for my sewing machine that would really help with my projects.  I plan to get a couple of 1/4" feet to help with even seams, and a binding feet to help me with even binding.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Keeping Myself Occupied

Even though this started off as a blog to chronicle my struggles with weight loss and as an outlet to vent some of my frustrations, for the longest time I really wasn't posting very often because although I am motivated to lose weight, it isn't something I love that I have to do!

For the past couple months, I have renewed my interest in being creative... in part to help me keep occupied at night in order to avoid boredom and snacking!  I have picked up some new hobbies, kept some of the old, and find that I am happy with the changes I have been attempting to make in my life.

For the past few days, I have been contemplating trying out something new... Quilting!  I came across this great blog, In Color Order, and am now obsessed with it!  I love the colors on her blog, the tutorials, the way she explains fabric choices... and her obsession with vintage sheets and vintage glassware!

I have two quilt projects in mind right now... and both have to do with using pre-cut squares while I get the hang of this.  I feel like it will give me some good practice sewing things together, and as a bonus, once I figure out how to quilt, it will hide some of my crooked stitching!

I am waiting for this cute Christmas fabric to come in the mail... called Flurry.  I love the blue, red, and green.

I was inspired by this quilt I saw on Etsy... thie fabric below is called 12 Days of Christmas, but I couldn't find it anywhere.  I have 11 months to figure out how to put it together :)  It is like playing Tangrams... ooh, I totally just this minute see how the blocks are put together (with the large square and smaller triangles).
The other thing her blog got me to be obsessed with is vintage glassware!  She collects Pyrex, and I completely love it!  I had just been thinking about how I need some new cute bowls, when I saw all the great colors Pyrex used to come in!  So... I went to like 5 thrift stores (looking for sheets and Pyrex)... and completely struck out!  I cannot find those old super colorful flowered sheets anywhere (friends in other areas... this is a hint).  I did find one Pyrex pattern at one of the thrift stores, but the pattern was rubbed off in some areas.  Plus I don't want to become a hoarder, and I am mostly drawn to the pink and turquoise pieces.  I still can't decide if I should go buy it anyway ;-)

I also found a small yellow square container at an antique store, but it was $15 dollars... I thought that was too much (although who knows!)

So then I tried Craigslist... and someone was selling a set right in my neighborhood!  They are so cute and pink!  I really love the set (even though the smaller pink bowl has lost its shine)... and all 4 bowls were $30 all together.  I thought that was pretty good! And look how cute they are!  This type of bowl is even called a Cinderella bowl... I am envisioning Ava and I baking cookies uh, healthy things and using these.

I can't wait to keep looking for more vintage pyrex... there are a ton of turquoise pieces that I want to get my hands on!  As for the vintage sheets... I am now on a mission!  I will find you!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Motivate Myself Monday

After a super successful December, I need a little kick in the pants this January.  I have prepared some great eating plans, and feel satisfied with what I have been eating (for the most part) but I need to get moving.

One thing I have decided from an accountability standpoint is to weigh-in every Monday.  Thus, the Motivation Monday theme :)  I think this will help keep me more accountable over the weekend, which in the past has been the culprit to some major derailments.

In December, I lost 15 pounds... and put a little back on between Christmas and New Years.  Today, from that -15, I am +3... meaning that I haven't lost any weight this month yet.  My first goal is to lose 50 pounds... and mini goals are to get into the next set of 10's.  I love when that second number is a smaller one... even if it is followed by a 9!

So from that 50 pound goal, I was at -15, and now +3.  To reach my goal, I now have 38 more pounds to lose.
I felt that this quote is fitting :)

And it is especially fitting from a workout perspective... I need to stay on my workout kicks, and stop quitting!  My workout goal is to be able to jog again... not fast, not super far... but I would like to be able to go for a 4 mile run without stopping.

I know all about regret... I look at pictures from even a few years ago, and I think, "How did I get here?"
Good thing I am ready to bite the bullet and move forward... its all about being the best version of me I can be!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Instant Gratification {including January's Birchbox}

After the tote that took me a week to make... today I was in the mood for a little instant gratification.  So... I took the pack of Mason jars that I had bought for future hostess gifts and spray painted them a pretty blue... {I believe it is Robin's Egg blue, which is one of my favorite colors}  This is after one coat.  I plan to add another coat but wanted to avoid the blue fingers for tomorrow.  
Did you know spray paint is really hard to get off your hands!?  Especially when spray painting glass jars -- it can be a bit tricky to get an even coat!  The key is to spray in one direction from about 8 inches away and allow to dry between coats.  Painting too close just blows the paint all around the jar.

Sidenote:  I always blog at night, since I am typically not home during the day... so sorry for all the dark unprofessional looking pictures!  Mastering our DSLR for indoor nighttime photography is one of my goals this year!  In the meantime, I love the Instagram iPhone app... I used the Amaro filter for the above photo.  And because I am already ready for spring, I brought my little birds back out for my window sill.  This post is all over the place tonight... sorry, but I am SO tired!  Can't. Focus.

Anyway... I am attempting to bring some color into our living areas after falling in love with THIS door from House of Smith's.  See below for a dark picture of our Roman Shades in the kitchen.  I am trying to bring that blue out (which looks more green in the photo) some more (hence the pining after their blue pantry door).

Any other ideas people have would be appreciated! :)

Just when I was happy to set out my new mason jar vases...

My other instant gratification came in the mail today!  My January Birchbox.  I forgot to cancel it last month after the kind of blah box... and I am glad I did because this one is right up my alley!  I was just thinking how I wanted a new eye cream, and wallah!  Here I got a really nice sample size in the mail.  The Re-Everything Eye Serum looks like it has some pretty winning ingredients to keep the wrinkles at bay.  I am also happy about my new night cream from Befine.  I bet tomorrow I will look like I am 18 again and people will think I got work done.  The Stila liner is really nice, and glides on smoothly AND it is about the size of a full-sized product!  The other items are a Juicy Couture perfume (which is closer to a scent I like-- but more of a "night time" scent to me), and a small packet of an unknown illegal substance.  Seriously... I think they sent me a packet of marijuana.  I better throw it away.  It is even called Witchcraft.  You can't tell from the photo above so I even took another just so you can see... its actually Granola packaged in green tinted wrapping.

I need a manicure.

And with that, I am off to bed!  I found some new sewing inspiration today that I am excited to share tomorrow :)

Friday, January 13, 2012

Mission Accomplished! Tote part 2

The wait is finally over... I know, many have been waiting anxiously to see how my first major sewing project turned out (I say major because my first project was to applique a letter A on one of Ava's onesies.  I need more practice!).  As for the tote?  It turned out pretty cute, as long as you don't mind some huge flaws :)

And my inside:

The last time I posted about this bag, (you can get full instructions HERE) I had left off with sewing the outside pieces together after ironing interfacing on them.  It took me all night, so you can imagine how long this whole project took me.  After getting the outside sewn together, it was time to box my corners.  Deciphering the instructions was like learning to speak Aramaic.  What seams was I supposed to line up? Where? Wait. What am I doing?!

Oh.. I am supposed to line the seams up on the inside of the bag, so that when I box the corners, my seam will be straight and match up.  And measure up the sides! We want an isosceles triangle! (I love disappearing ink).  Sew along the purple line...

And cut off the excess...

Now you are here:

You can see I didn't line my seams up perfectly... but that is ok by me.  You iron on interfacing, and sew together your lining pieces the same way you did the outside.   You also box the lining's corners... so when you have all that complete, you are here.

I added a pocket by sewing 2 pieces of fabric together, wrong sides together, and leaving a hole to turn it inside out.  I sewed it to the lining BEFORE I sewed the linings together and boxed the corners.

Next I made my bow and straps.  My bow was Bow 1, and was 6 X 12 inches.  The center of the bow was 6 X 2.5 inches.  I confess I picked this bow because I didn't want to deal with interfacing again, and it was one less piece to cut.  I think the straighter bow is cuter.  My straps were 2 X 22 inches, just because of how much fabric I had left.  I sewed along the edges and turned inside out for the straps too.

My other confession... I couldn't figure out how to sew my bow on with my machine.  So I used fabric glue to glue it on.  What? All the major designers glue their handbags together.

Finally, turning the edges under at the top in order to sew the lining and outside together was hard!  I had a hard time keeping the straps where I wanted them despite all my pinning.  I also accidentally made like 4 strap loops, because I sewed it down in a few places.  That was why last time I knew the seam ripper and I would be buds.

Things I learned:
Brown thread would have hidden my mistakes more.
I didn't leave enough room for the snaps to fit above my pocket.
I stink at lining stuff up.
Pins hurt when they stick you.
I wonder if it would work better for a beginner to somehow sew the lining and outside together before boxing corners?  I am going to try to figure out when I try this tote again.

Enough craftiness for now... thanks for reading!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Big Mini-Goal #1

Do you have a picture in your head of what you look like?  I do...

Me in San Francisco for our "Mini-Moon"- 2006
And still on our Mini-Moon, in Sonoma Valley
 Unfortunately, the "me" I see, is not the me anyone else sees.  The funny thing is that I was so disappointed in myself for being at this weight when I got married... and now I would give about anything to be back here again... even though it is far from my ideal, or even a healthy weight.
One of the things I NEVER do is take full body pictures of myself.  In fact I avoid pictures of myself whenever possible, because I am embarrassed about where I am at right now.  Pretty sure I am going to regret this at some point because I would love some more mommy and baby photos.  One thing I plan to do is take full body photos of what I look like right now... which I will share at some point.  Just not yet.

My goal right now? It is a big "mini" goal.  Get back to my weight from 5 years ago.  Even though it is still not my ideal, it does include losing about 20% of my current weight... enough to be medically significant, and enough to make myself feel quite a bit better about myself.

So.  I have my eating plan down and decided on... next up... the workout plan!

Thanks to those out there encouraging me along the way!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

A bit of a let down.

I had my appointment with the dietitian at the Center for Health and Fitness today... and really I was a little disappointed. Most of what we talked about I already knew. But... I am going to stick to the plan (whatever we adjust it to be) for the next 6 weeks though and see where I end up. Right now, my plan includes eating 6 times a day, while staying within 1000-1200 calories a day. I am to also to try to get about 56 grams of protein in, and limit my carbs to those found in fruits and veggies. Sometimes I can trade a whole grain in for a fruit. Some of my meals will be in the form of meal replacements (they use Optifast).

So basically, I will be eating the same as I was on the detox, but will need to add back more protein forms (for example including beans, nuts, etc).

Some of why I am down is that I gained back some of the weight I lost before Christmas. The other part is that I have SO far to go, I can't even imagine how I am going to accomplish this. And also, if I want to continue this medical weight loss beyond the 6 weeks, it is really expensive to maintain, and the plan moves to either 100% meal replacement, or being allowed to only eat dinner. Gah!

The couple things that did stand out for me is that she talked about losing weight not being a question of will power or self control, but really engineering my environment to ensure my success. This makes total sense to me, being a School Psychologist who works with teachers to engineer environments for kids to ensure their success. I guess this means don't buy crap I shouldn't eat, and have the hubs keep his cupcakes in his beer fridge! It also relates to back when I started the detox unprepared... Keeping the good foods in stock will be a huge help to me.

The other little nugget, was for me to think about this as the weight loss phase of my life... Limit what I am allowed to eat right now and get the weight off.

So, as with the beginning of the detox, I am starting this plan with a hefty dose of skepticism... We will see how it goes... Tomorrow is day one of the weight loss phase of my life!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

My First Tote- Part one

I went all in and am attempting to make a cute tote.  The Tohoku Tote, to be exact.  I found this free pattern on I Am Momma Hear Me Roar's blog, with pretty detailed instructions, and a patten I printed out.  Here is the link to the post on the Tohoku Tote.  So far I have learned that the seam ripper is my BFF.

So, after I cut out my pattern, and figured out how to attach the interfacing, I sewed my first piece together.  I felt so proud.  Even though I apparently need to go back to Kindergarten to learn how to cut a straight line, I got it all together.

And then pressed my seam up to the top of my bag before turning over to add the top stitch.

I even made the top-stitch look pretty.  People who know how to sew have to be rolling their eyes right now, but seriously... I did it on my first try without messing up.

Then disaster struck... after getting the first side put together, I had to re-do the second side THREE times, before I got it put together the right way.  Honestly, I do not know where my head was... although I could venture a guess here ;-)

See.. wrong way... when I flip it up, the brown will be the wrong way!
And again... seams are supposed to be on the inside of the bag.
And the third time... I started to sew the piece upside down... again.  Are you kidding me!  I almost threw myself out the window.

The right way... with the colorful (non-interfacing side) touching on both pieces before you sew, so that when opened the seam is on the inside and you can top stitch through it all.

Whew... that was exhausting.  And it took me all night to sew 4 pieces of fabric together.  This was going to be one post... but I have to split it into two because all these mistakes is making my tote take forever!

Very excited about my appointment at the Center for Health and Fitness tomorrow... ready for some big changes to occur!

Monday, January 9, 2012

My First Bloggy Awards

How fun is this!  I was awarded both the Versatile Blogger Award and the Liebster Blog Award by Linda at Partycraft Secrets.  She wrote how she likes where my blog is headed, and likes the name.  Linda has great craft ideas on her blog, and many of them are quick ones that can be done in 15 minutes or less  She also has a line of party themes.  I have to say, I am both honored and very excited to be recognized by another blogger, so thank you so much Linda!

Here are my new award badges:


Part of accepting these awards means that I have thanked Linda for awarding me, and will pass the awards to other blogs that I enjoy (15 for The Versatile Blogger, 5 for The Liebster Blog).  The Versatile Blog award also asks that I post 7 things about myself, and The Liebster Blog Award that I pass the award to blogs with less than 200 followers.

I am not certain where The Liebster Blog Award's origins are from, but The Versatile Blogger, has its own blog and blogroll for those who have been awarded with it.  You can check out The Versatile Blogger HERE.

Blogs I awarded The Versatile Blogger Award to:
1. My Sparkle- first inspired me to start crafting and want a sewing machine, inspired me to blog more.
2. Southern Lovely- One of the first linky parties I tried out, and she has great DIY projects.
3. Keeping it Simple- The very first linky party I ever did, and they featured me!  GREAT crafts on here!!
4. Adventures in Dinner- I love her take on recipes... not too hard to follow either!

Blogs I awarded the Liebster Blog Award to:

I will update this post as I award these to other bloggers... but don't want to just give them out to the first 15 blogs I read, especially since many of them are huge blogs and have been nominated a million times.  Also, even though I am happy to have received this award, it feels a little bit like a chain letter :)

As for 7 things about myself... here goes!  Showing my true colors :)
1.  I use a lot of glasses and silverware throughout the day... it drives my husband crazy, but once they are in the sink or in the dishwasher, I feel they have been contaminated and won't reuse them.
2.  I am the oldest of 5 children.  I have a sister, Claire, who (sometimes) writes up her meal plans on The Rookie Cook blog.  She is also married and is expecting her third little boy in April.  She is an awesome mom.  I also have 3 brothers... all of whom are wicked smart... Matthew who recently finished his masters in Economics, George who will be entering medical school in the fall, and Luke who is a Junior in High School and just got straight A's this past semester. (I am a proud big sister)
3. When I was in preschool I used to pretend I was a T-Rex when I had to go down the dark hallway to my room.  It scared the monsters away... and may have also had a song it sung.
4.  I hate being in the house at night by myself.  I have to turn all the lights on.
5. Sometimes I scream on my sleep, but when it finally comes out it is more like "eh, ehhh" but in my dream it is an open mouth, at the top of my lungs scream.
6. I hate sleeping with a top sheet or socks, because my legs get all jumbled, and I don't like when my feet are hot.
7.  I love love LOVE to read!!  If you love to read too, you should go on Goodreads and share your books with me.

Anyway... that is it for today... I am working on a couple of sewing crafts (which take me forever because I am so new to sewing), and meet with the dietitian on Wednesday to start my 6 week challenge.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

I can relate.

I was flipping through the channels and stopped to fix my tea, while The Family Guy just happened to be on.  Although I do not regularly watch this show, it gave me pause because the episode is about Chris' struggle to lose weight.  His mother fixed him a plate of vegetables for dinner while everyone else got meatloaf and cake.  He said, "Oh... it tastes like a monkey.  A monkey that's past its prime."  Haha! I feel that way about some vegetables (especially ones that are frozen).  It is so hard to eat healthy when others around are eating comfort foods and sweets!  To help him become motivated to exercise, Peter dangled a fishing pole of him with a twinkie attached to it... Chris would run all over the place trying to get at the twinkie.

As I saw that, I thought a lot about how I often "reward" myself with food.  Sometimes I have the mentality, well I did well all day, so I deserve this unhealthy thing.  And the truth is, what I really deserve is to skip the unhealthy food and reward myself in another way.  I saw this on Pinterest, and it gave me pause to think...

Why is bad food such a prize to me?  Why is it that when I am being healthy and eating great, all I can think about is "I can't wait till I lose more weight so I can eat {insert bad food} again!"  I really need to change this thought process... this need to view food as the ultimate prize, because the truth is, when I do decide to treat myself, it is rarely worth it.

A friend said to me, when they are around unhealthy foods, they try to think to themselves, "Am I going to remember this in a few months?"  Sometimes the answer is yes.  I mean it is unrealistic to pass up favorite foods all of the time... and those really awesome desserts people bring out during special occasions?  I mean, come on already.  But more often than not... the answer is no.  I am not going to regret passing up those desserts... but I am going to regret caving in.

As I retrain my thoughts, I really need to remember that.  The way I feel when I cave in... and then the way I feel so amazing when I stick to my guns and enjoy a piece of fruit while drinking tea instead.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Back in the Saddle!

I haven't blogged about my weight loss journey in about two weeks... I am sure you can guess what that means.  Well, actually it means a couple of things.  First, is that a couple days before Christmas I sort of fell off the wagon.  Not as bad as in the past, but I allowed myself some treats, and to eat bread and cheese again.  I didn't work out that whole week after Christmas either.  Bad! 

But I did learn something about myself again... I can honestly say that sugar overload bothers my stomach, and too much cheese is not my friend.  My stomach felt blegh, and I had trouble sleeping those nights I over did it.  Now if I could just remember that the next time I feel the need for stuffed pizza!

Then I was trying to decide what "my plan" was... you know, that New Year's plan to go along with the resolution to loose all of your weight this year?  I couldn't decide what to do.  Should I go on weight watchers again? Try to just keep going with my purification diet and add back a couple of food groups? Try out South Beach again?  I still don't think I have a clear plan in mind, but I can tell you that THIS is what my plan does include:

Via Pinterest, via Tumblr
I am going to give it twelve weeks, then re-evaluate what I am doing, and make changes where I need to. So I am on week one... my goal for the next week is to eat as I was on my detox.  That is the 1 cup lentils or 1/2 cup  brown rice, all the veggies I want, all the fruit I want (as long as I eat 2 Xs the number of veggies), protein shakes, and a small amount of chicken or fish.  I plan to weigh in on Mondays in order to help keep me accountable over the weekends.

And beginning next week, and for 6 weeks after that, I am trying something totally new.  Because I bought a Groupon!  On Groupon, there was a deal for a medically monitored weight loss plan at a local Center for Health and Nutrition.  It includes a body analysis, an hour session with a dietitian, and three follow up appointments with the dietitian... and some meal replacement shakes.  I am excited about this, but I truly hope this is not a liquid diet I just signed up for...  because 6 weeks of just drinking liquids would make me very grumpy!  Anyway, my first appointment is on Wednesday next week, fingers crossed that this helps!

So... my New Year's resolution in the area of health is just that... to become a healthier person by loosing weight, exercising frequently, and watching my diet. 

I want to be healthy for my daughter, I want to have energy, I want to have more babies and not be so worried about my blood pressure, I want to be able to shop at Anthroplogie and to be able to wear my cute jeans.  I don't want to be tired anymore, or humiliated when out shopping with my mom and sister, and we have to go through the bowels of hell in order to locate the plus size clothes they hide in major department stores (cough, cough... Macy's).  I want to be proud of myself for making progress, and remember,  

I want to do this for me!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Doughnut Muffins

A couple of years ago, I saw an episode of "The Best Thing I ever Ate" and someone chose Doughnut Muffins... although not a healthy recipe, at least these are not fried!  They taste amazing warm out of the oven, and they really do taste like doughnuts.  I hadn't made them in awhile, and thought Ava should be introduced to cinnamon sugar since I am trying to transition her to one nap rather than two :)

For the muffins:
12 oz. (24 Tbs.) unsalted butter, room temperature
1-3/4 cups sugar
4 eggs
6 cups flour
1 Tbs. plus 2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1-3/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. nutmeg
1-2/3 cups milk
1/4 cup buttermilk  (if you do not have buttermilk, just add more milk)

For dipping:
Melted unsalted butter
Ratio of 1 cup sugar, to 1 tablespoon cinnamon

To make the muffins

Pre-heat the oven to 350°F.  
First you want to cream the butter and sugar. Add in the eggs, one at a time, until just mixed in... Here, I have a confession.  I completely forgot to add in the eggs the past time I made these, and they taste the same.  I really can't tell the difference... so if you know someone with an egg allergy, it is fine to leave them out!

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and nutmeg. Combine the milk and buttermilk. With a wooden spoon, mix a quarter of the dry ingredients into the butter mixture. Then mix in a third of the milk mixture. Continue mixing in the remaining dry and wet ingredients alternately, ending with the dry. Mix until well combined and smooth, but don't overmix. Grease and flour a standard-size muffin tin. Scoop enough batter into each tin so that the top of the batter is even with the rim of the cup.

Bake until they are firm to the touch... about 30 minutes.

To finish:

Melt the butter for the dipping mixture.  Combine the sugar and cinnamon.  When the muffins are just cool enough to handle, remove from the tin and dip them into your melted butter (or you can use a brush).  Roll them in your cinnamon sugar.

Now lick your fingers... and enjoy your doughnut muffins!

Original recipe from here

Sunday, January 1, 2012

More Resolutions... and Italian family recipes too.

At mass today, the priest gave a really beautiful homily about embracing love, living love, and talked about not being afraid to express love to those who matter to us.  For me, it rang true with one of my resolutions for this year.  You see, during our pre-wedding workshops, we had to talk about what makes us feel loved.  For Joe it was "service", meaning doing things for him like cleaning and cooking.  Ok... that sounds a bit like a '50s housewife, but still, it is something I truly work at (although don't often succeed with). 

I admit that I have had a really hard time with the whole timing thing... when I get home from work, I make Ava the priority because she will only be little for awhile and I truly treasure our time together.  And that means that the chores and the cooking wait... and that Joe comes home from work disappointed.  I enjoy cooking, but I have a hard time cooking while keeping everything spic and span.  I can get dinner made, but not cleaned up, or I can feed Ava and clean up, but not get dinner on.  And this goes for double now that I have Ava on my legs. 

I feel like I have been slacking in the cooking department for awhile now, and so this year want to make an effort to put a nice dinner on the table.  I want Ava to experience nice family dinners, rather than hodgepodge ones where we all eat at different times.

For tonight, I made Joe's grandmother's recipe for homemade meat sauce with meatballs, and a raw kale salad with walnuts and romano cheese that I saw on The Amateur Gourmet.  As a kid growing up, Joe's family always had a nice Sunday dinner at his grandmothers house, with homemade sauce, pasta, meatballs/sausage... the works.  I am happy that Joe's Aunt has the recipes to share with me now that his grandmother has passed away.

First the meatballs (and sausage which I omitted today):
For the meatballs, I used 80/20 beef (a pound) and you can use a pound of mild sausage too.
If using sausage, you can simmer them in water to rid them of excess fat before browning. Set them aside.
For the meatballs, add bread crumbs, a little milk, a little parsley, 1 egg, and salt/pepper to taste.  You can also add a little Parmesan cheese if you have it.  I didn't write out amounts because sometimes you have to play around with it a bit, because you don't want the mixture to be too tight (you might need to add another egg here).  But here is what consistency you are looking for, it is a little "tacky" and squishy:

You then form then into the size you want, and brown them in a little oil and set aside.

Now for the sauce:
You will need a medium onion, salt/pepper, a couple garlic cloves, 1 lb of ground beef, 2 6oz cans of tomato paste, 1 large can tomato puree, sugar, oregano.

First sautee the onion until translucent, add in some salt/pepper.  Add in your finely chopped garlic, and sautee for about a minute.  Set this aside.

Brown your beef and season it with salt/pepper.  Drain the fat and add to the onion/garlic in your pot.

Add in your tomato paste and tomato puree.  For each 6 oz can of paste add 4 cans of water.  For each can of puree add in a half can of water.  Mix well.  Add in a couple teaspoons of sugar,  a little salt and pepper, and a couple shakes of oregano.  You may need to adjust salt, but do so once the sauce has finished cooking.

Add in your meatballs (and sausage) and bring to a boil.  Then reduce to a simmer.  Put a cover on the pot, but leave it open a little so that the water can evaporate.  Let the sauce simmer for 1 1/2-2 hours... or until it is the consistency you want.  Mine took a little over 2 hours.  Remember too that your sauce will thicken as it cools.

The finished sauce:

If you follow the link above, this is all written up much more eloquently, but when I made it to specifications, I felt it needed a little tweaking.  He does say that WE are the ones that have to make it taste awesome, and really I think it will mostly depend on your tastes.

All you need is: kale ( I found a precut bag at Trader Joe's- I love less work!), a couple lemons, salt/pepper, walnuts, olive oil, pecorino (romano) cheese.

Wash, dry, and thinly slice/shred the kale.  Warm and toast your walnut in a pan on the stove and set aside.  Wash your lemons and zest onto your shredded kale.  Also squeeze in the juice.  I would start with one lemon first, as when I used one and a half lemons it was a little heavy on the "acid" side, which I wasn't sure how to remedy.  Season with salt/pepper, add in your olive oil.  Don't be shy with it!  The key to this salad is to toss, toss, toss!  You really want the olive oil and lemon to get all in your kale.

Add in your walnuts and grate your cheese... toss, toss, toss!

Now, pretend you are on Chopped or Iron Chef, and taste your salad!  Add in more lemon juice, cheese, salt, zest if needed.  And toss it!

My finished salad:

Now, to be honest... as usual my timing was off... so the noodles were done before the sauce, Joe was hungry and dinner wasn't ready... and so was Ava.  But all in all, for an early attempt, I know it will get better!  After all, just look at how Ava is eating her noodles like we never feed her!