Getting a Little Political

okay you know i don’t usually post anything “political” here but i felt that this piece was really well written, important, and relevant to the future my yet-to-be-born daughter has to look forward to.

http://minoritysurvival.com/2011/09/27/if-i-were-an-uncaring-bastard-of-an-entrepreneur-or-ceo/

After all, 85% of recent college graduates are returning to live with their parents anyway. Their parents can subsidize the cost of my free employees, with room and board, transportation, and health insurance (up to age 26 under the new health care law).

Super Easy Cute Coaster Craft

i started this project months and months and months ago.  i actually made a few of these coasters, and even started the one for this tutorial, before i even knew i was pregnant actually!  according to google+ i began this tutorial on march 6th lol oh well with procrastination i can always say “better late than never!”  what took me so long was needing my husband to be around to take a picture with my cell phone while i used the hot glue gun.  but i kept forgetting to ask him, and when i would think about it, i’d be too lazy to set everything up again.  add to that being so exhausted and unmotivated the first trimester that all i wanted to do was sleep.

so here we are sitting around the house doing jack and i got bored.  so i decided it was time to get crafty again… but in baby steps.  hey i know a project i started months ago, that’s super easy, that i never finished!  cd drink coasters!  hazzah!

so i set everything up, made my husband stand up and take a couple of pictures, and got to work in photoshop.  hey you should see the originals… everything is always yellow or orange no matter how much natural light i use!

super easy cute cd coaster craft

supplies:

  • cd you don’t plan on listening to again (i have tons of scratched ones i’ve salvaged from my car that won’t even play)
  • contact paper or self-adhesive shelf liner (mine has cherries – bought at the 99cent store)
  • non-slip shelf liner (the foamy spongy stuff, any color but i used white/creme – also bought this at the 99cent store but you can get it just about where housewares are sold including amazon.com)
  • pencil
  • marker
  • scissors
  • glue gun (and of course, glue)
  • *optional: paper towel/rag & surface cleaner

what to do with all that stuff:

  1. optional: use the paper towel and cleaner to clean the front and back of your cd.  this may help your liners to stick to it better, especially the self-adhesive contact paper.
  2. lay your cd on your non-slip shelf liner and trace with your marker.  you can try the pencil but i found that the material was a little too squishy for the line to really show up easily.  then cut out your circle(s).  i suggest doing more than one at a time.
  3. lay your cd on the “wrong side” of your contact paper or self-adhesive shelf liner.  the “wrong side” just means the back, the part that won’t be seen.  trace with pencil, and cut.  i don’t suggest tracing with the marker here because it may bleed through to the right side.
  4. next glue the non-slip liner to the back of the cd.  you can do this anyway that works for you but i suggest laying the liner on the cd first then apply glue in sections around the edge.  press flat but be ginger as the glue may still be hot in places and come through the holes in the liner.
  5. peel the backing off of your contact paper and carefully apply to the front of the cd.  smooth out and adjust as needed to remove bubbles.
  6. place a big sweaty glass of tea on your coaster, and enjoy!  no more wet rings and you’ve given new purpose to some old cds.

what i love about these is that they work great: they don’t slide around easily and they are very easy to clean since that’s the whole idea behind shelf-lining contact paper.  there are so many different varieties of contact paper out there that you can really customize your coasters to go with any occasion or décor.  just a warning on cd choice.  if you use a cd that has any writing or graphics on the front, it may show through your contact paper.  you can avoid this by either using the “top” of the cd to adhere the non-slip liner or apply a layer of solid color contact paper to the top before applying your patterned or final choice contact paper.  personally, i like the writing and graphics showing through!  this way i can always remember those cds lost to scratches, abuse, and time and they can make an interesting conversation piece.

RIP Brave Saint Saturn… you will be missed!

BONUS: some cool contact paper on amazon.com (links active as of 7/23/2012)

Garlic Avocado Bread to Knock Your Brains Out!

i’ve noticed that i post a lot about food, almost exclusively!  i guess we can all tell what i’m passionate about.  hey its either food or my cats (and soon my daughter!), take your pick!  cooking is what i missed most during the first trimester.  my older sister loves to cook and is much more dedicated and better at it than i am.  she finds gourmet recipes, buys the ingredients even the exotic ones, and puts together fantastic dishes.  in my family she’s known best for her baking – cupcakes, my favorite rum cake, cookies, bars – Christmas dinner isn’t finished until we bring out her deserts.  but she cooks a lot of savory recipes as well and i’m so excited when she shares them with me!

she’s always been attentive to what i eat.  i find it amusing now but that wasn’t always so.  i mentioned the rum cake she makes, its my favorite and has been since i was a little girl.  she often makes it for Christmas and the first year or two that she brought it over (rum balls one year too!) i would always have a slice (or two and some extra glaze scooped up on my finger!).  then one year, i think i was about 12 years old, she brought over the rum cake and i spent the entire day walking by it with a line of drool hanging off of my chin.  i couldn’t wait to get dinner over with and dig into a slice of that cake!  i was more excited about the cake than i was presents!  dinner ended and, after an agonizing half hour of coffee and chit chat, dessert was brought out.  the rum cake sat on the table, glistening with yummy goodness.  the glaze ran down the creases of the bundt cake, the cake itself moist with the flavoring it had soaked up, and the glaze covered the glass plate in a pool of sugary white love.  my mom and sister began passing out the desserts and when my sister asked me what i wanted i immediately asked for a slice of rum cake.  then my heart broke.  she looked at me and said, “oh honey, that has alcohol in it and i’d really be more comfortable if you had something else.”

um… WHAT???  this was never an issue before!  our parents didn’t care!  quite often on holidays they would even allow me a quarter or half glass of Beringers White Zinfandel with dinner, which more often than not, i would end up giving to someone else after a couple of sips.  hey once wine got room temperature, i wasn’t interested.  anyway, i was so angry!  my parents hate confrontation so they told me to just roll with it and pick something else.  i did, and pouted.  when she and her husband went home that night, she left the rest of the cake behind for my parents.  as soon as the door closed, i looked at my mom and said, “please?”  she said of course and i got my delicious slice.  i’ve never been denied that cake since.

as a kid, i thought this was incredibly unfair and i didn’t understand where she got off!  as an adult, i still think it was overkill but i realize now that my sister was trying to look out for me.  yes the alcohol cooks out, but she had used a lot of rum that year and wasn’t sure it had all cooked out.  she was near her 40’s at the time and going through a period she later described as trying to be more like a mother than a sister to me.  something she later said she regretted.  but with that age difference, its actually endearing that she would be so concerned even if it wasn’t necessary.  it was love.

now she seems very intrigued with my being a vegetarian.  i don’t think she fully understands that it isn’t eating meat that i’m against.  it’s the practices within the mass meat industry.  i’ve recently discovered kosher meats and CSA (consumer sustained agriculture) farming and may eat meat again myself.  i’ve even decided that i won’t necessarily raise my children vegetarian so that they aren’t limited when they stay with family.  i’ll raise them to respect life and when they’re older, they can make their own decision.  i’ve never thought that meat didn’t taste good (except corned beef one year… never again!).  sometimes i even crave it and i was so excited when Jack-in-the-Box released a bacon flavored milkshake!  no actual bacon in the shake or the syrup but it had the taste and it was bacon-rific!  but that’s another tangent!

anyway, the perk of her interest is that she often comes across vegetarian and vegan recipes, even if they aren’t labeled as such, and passes them on to me.  and never has she suggested anything that didn’t sound amazing!  and that held true this week on Facebook when she sent me this message:

OMG, you have to try this recipe: 4 slices of rustic bread (we use pugliese from Safeway/Raley’s), lightly grilled or toasted. Rub the hot bread with a clove of garlic. Scoop out the insides of a very ripe avocado onto the bread. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt. Drizzle lightly with good EVOO. Sprinkle with crushed red pepper, to taste. It is to die for! You can’t eat it just once. We made it last night and Uncle Stan [what i call my brother-in-law] just came and asked me if we had any more avodaco, and we did!, so we are having it now.
I used a really good EVOO from Italy that Fr. Jeff gave me for Christmas; I sort of hoard it for the special things.

i ran to the grocery stores and immediately sought out bread (small french bread loaf from Trader Joes), an avocado, sea salt, and garlic cloves.  the rest i had, who doesn’t have EVOO and chili pepper flakes!  granted my EVOO isn’t of the quality she used, but it does well.  this afternoon, i threw the bread in the oven at 400 (left it in for either a bit too long, or it was too hot but it dried out a touch on me) then covered it in the rest of the ingredients.  i used the entire avocado cuz that’s how i roll (get it… roll? bread roll?  *rimshot*)

it looked so pretty, that i had to take pictures and get it up here to share!  and it tasted great!  i’m eating the whole loaf to myself since my husband doesn’t like avocado.  what’s nice too is that i don’t have to feel guilty about eating this.  everything on it is healthy for me and the baby.  sure there’s a lot of fat, but it’s the healthy fat which is so much better than the Cheez-its fat i’ve been eating lately!

this bread makes a great lunch or appetizer for company.  i’d like to try it with spinach, cheddar cheese, parmesan cheese, and/or tomatoes.  i bet it makes a great sandwich and if you eat meat, it probably would go great with a little sliced turkey and swiss!

UPDATE 8/6/12: elsewhere in the wordpress.com blogosphere, a more detailed recipe for this deliciousness has been provided by salt and serenity.  read it here!  detailed pictures and steps provided 🙂

Kraft Veggie Mac ‘n Cheese

for a vegetarian, i admit i eat like crap.  i’m a carb addict.  my staples are breads, pastas, and cheese.  carb, carb, fat.  i try to eat whole grain when possible but more veggies on my plate would still be a better way to go, and i know it!  i love most veggies so why don’t i eat more.  well the answer is easy, i’m not very good at making them and prepping them is tedious (not the first time i’ve admitted to being lazy!)   i can steam em, sauté em, even grill em.  but plain veggies are still so boring.  covering them in cheese isn’t really a healthy solution though it’s my go-to.  butter; not better.  i know the right sauces can add some flare, but i don’t know how to make those sauces off hand.  so i get disillusioned with veggies and i end up not making them nearly as often as i should.  bad vegetarian! bad!  someone should roll up a newspaper and slap me on the nose when i cook!

so how can i get more servings of veggies without feeling put out, annoyed, or frustrated at my lack of skills in that area? Kraft Veggie Pasta & Cheese. you can look at it as “hiding the vegetables” if that’s what you want to do, but i see it as awesome!  i see it as finding an opportunity to fit yet more vegetable servings onto the plate and cut down on useless regular simple carbs.

the noodles in kraft veggie mac ‘n cheese are actually made out of cauliflower flour!  right there i get a serving of vegetables.  now is that enough to live on?  should mac ‘n cheese become my new staple?  no of course not!  but i don’t see how it can NOT  be beneficial when paired with more veggies.  for instance, tonight was mac ‘n cheese with green beans.  normally i would have done broccoli on the side, but i had none.  and i could easily pair the mac ‘n cheese and broccoli with tofurky sausages or morningstar farms riblets for a fun summer bbq meal.

now i’ve read some blogs where people have complained that if you “hide” the vegetables to trick your kids into eating them, then you aren’t teaching them good eating habits and how to make good decisions.  when i was a kid, my mom cooked just about every meal with sides of vegetables, and usually additional carbs.  spaghetti with meat sauce, broccoli, green beans, and cheese bread.  the point is the veggies were there, and i ate them.  i didn’t have to be tricked or have them hidden.  i liked them, i ate them.  yet still as an adult i make poor eating decisions when it comes to creating my own plates.  furthermore, i feel a lot of very busy parents often end up giving their kids simple meal fixes (such as just mac ‘n cheese) or at least whatever will elicit the least fight at dinner time.  for those who are going to do that anyway, why not make it something they’ll eat that has a little extra nutrional value to it.  if it’s that big of a deal to you, then after your kid eats it and expresses liking it, tell them the secret.  it’s also okay for kids to think that food they actually enjoy, and see as a treat, can be good for them as well.

so boil up a box, pair with a salad and some steamed veggies, a little protein AND ENJOY!.

Baked Chik’n Salad

this weekend is memorial day weekend.  this three-day weekend holiday is set aside to remember and honor all those brave men and women who have fought, been injured, or died fighting for our country.  it is also a favorite weekend for backyard barbeques, drinking, and swimming.  it’s a weekend that we all bask in the beautiful weather of spring and await the lazy burn of summer (you can tell by my language that i’m in arizona!)

yesterday, our friends threw a grilled pizza barbeque.  i love when people mix tradition (bbq on this weekend) with something new and totally unique (pizza instead of burgers… sweet!)  and perhaps most inspirational of all, they made their own dough and sauce and used the fresh basil from their yard. *droool* best pesto ever!

i was so inspired by their industriousness that when they asked folks to bring snacks to munch on, i decided to make this Baked Chik’n Salad from Morningstar Farms.  everytime i’ve made it, it’s been a hit! but as you’ve probably no doubt devised, i’m a little short in the confidence department and this endeavor was no different.  i’ve made it for picky friends, a picky husband, and my critical (but loving) family who have requested it a couple of times now. but this weekend i was making it for people who MAKE THEIR OWN DOUGH AND SAUCE!  i mean come on!  they can cook! and the rest of our crew can have discerning tastes as well.  add to that still feeling like the newb of the bunch, i don’t want to make anyone start asking, “Oh no! What fresh hell has she cooked this time??”  well this time was no exception… everyone who tried it said they really enjoyed it.  WOOT!!  it feels good to have the approval of more than just my too-polite-to-say-otherwise parents and husband!

the best part is… it’s vegetarian! can be made vegan, but the vegan mayo AND shredded cheese were just too expensive for my budget this time around.  but i’m eager to try it in the future!

you’ll notice a lot of blue text below.  as always i was very careful to follow the recipe exactly… NEVERRRRRR!  zombies don’t follow RULES! we use our BRAAAAAAINS!

Baked Chik’n Salad

(MorningStar Farms) 

Ingredient List

Serves 6

1 package MorningStar Farms® Chik Patties® Original
2 cups diced celery (i doubled this recipe except for the celery.  it had PLENTY of crunch without it)
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
1/4 cup diced pimiento
1/4 cup diced green pepper
2 tablespoons finely chopped onion
1 cup shredded American cheese, divided (i use cheddar, mild this time… i’m a cheese snob and can’t stand to cook with american “cheese” aka orange plastic)
1 1/2 cups reduced calorie mayonnaise
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 cup crushed potato chips (i used lightly salted.  it still tasted great and reduced the amount of salt for those with high blood pressure)

Directions:

1. Place MorningStar Farms Chik Patties, celery, peas, pimiento, green pepper, and onion in large mixing bowl. if your patties have just come straight from the freezer, i suggest removing them from the packing and letting them sit on the counter while you dice the rest of the vegetables.  though the directions don’t call to do so, i chop up the patties first before mixing everything together.  if they aren’t thawed a little then they are way too rock solid to get a knife through easily!

2. Combine 1/2 cup of the cheese, mayonnaise, salt, and lemon juice. Add to MorningStar Farms Chik Patties mixture, tossing to combine. Place in shallow 2-quart casserole coated with cooking spray. i forgot the cooking spray but with all that mayo, it wasn’t an issue… it almost slid out of the casserole dish in the car!

3. Bake at 350° F about 30 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Sprinkle with chips and remaining cheese. Return to oven and bake 10 minutes longer or until cheese melts. Serve hot. i sprinkled chips, cheese, then more chips.  also, it’s not necessary to meassure the chips, just do to taste and add enough to give a crunchy top.

Some more images to feast your eyes upon:

i can’t wait to make this!! i was under the impression that i couldn’t eat soft cheese at all, being pregnant, unless they are pasteurized. but it makes sense that since this is do to the listeria that may be present, cooking it would kill that as it kills other bacteria! i’m going to run it by my ob nurse first but i’m sure she’ll say it’s all good in the hood! and i’m a mac ‘n’ cheese ADDICT so this really has me excited! if you try it first, let me know how it turns out!

The $35 a Week Project

I suppose I should preface this post by stating the obvious, given the meal: I’m pregnant. Four months pregnant, to be exact. (For those who’ve seen me in person and wondered how I managed to get quite a beer belly* from eating bread, fruit and mostly vegetarian meals, now you know.) Am I still making it on $35 a week? For the most part, yes. I’m still espousing the principles, baking all my own bread, growing my own food, and making all my own meals, I’m just eating a little more of them, and occasionally making things like this. It basically takes care of all the pregnancy cravings in one go: pie, macaroni and cheese, caramelized onions, and, to top it all off, goat cheese. (As anyone who’s been pregnant recently knows, listeria danger precludes you from having soft cheeses like goat, blue or brie unless they’re heated, leaving very…

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