Friday, October 29, 2010

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Now I remember why...

...I drink so much diet coke.

I frequently suffer from insomnia. It is now 4:18 a.m. and I have not slept yet because I cannot sleep. I think it's hormones, but I can't be sure. Could be stress.

Tomorrow's dc consumption very well may be off the chart, let alone above the aimline.

Monday, October 25, 2010

A chocolate dessert to DIE for!

I made this yesterday, and we ate it warm with whipped topping on top. I just had the leftovers, cold from the 'fridge. Either way, this is THE MOST AMAZING chocolate cake-like dessert EVER! AND I MADE IT IN THE CROCKPOT!

The recipe is from the little cookbook/owner's manual that came with the trio crockpot that Rhett got me for an early birthday present.
I also found the recipe at www. under desserts. I have altered it a little, so I'm going to tell you how I made it. I thought about taking pictures as I made it, but with Blogger being so uppity of late, I didn't think it would ever get posted. Now I regret it. Rest assured, I will make it again and show pictures. But do not wait until I do. Make. This. Soon.

Triple Chocolate Surprise
1 package chocolate cake mix (I used Betty Crocker Chocolate Fudge)
6 oz sour cream (recipe called for 8 oz; I had an 8 oz package from which a tablespoon or so was gone)
1 package instant chocolate pudding mix (I used Kroger brand, the small size)
Between 1/2 cup and 3/4 cup oil (recipe calls for 3/4 c; I like to reduce oil whenever possible so mine was closer to 1/2 c)
1 large egg, 1 large egg white, 2/3 cup egg beater-type egg (recipe calls for 4 eggs; I like to reduce the egg yolks because my cholesterol is borderline, and Rhett drinks the egg-beater stuff for we always have that on hand - I use that stuff as a substitute for eggs in baking)
1 cup water
1 cup chocolate chips

1. Mix everything together in a bowl. I folded in the chocolate chips after mixing everything else together.
2. Spray stoneware/crock with Pam or similar spray.
3. Pour mix in crock.
4. Cover and cook for 3-4 hours on low setting. (The recipe says you can cook on high for 3-4 hours. I cooked mine for the first hour and a half on high, and it burnt a crust on the outside. Not good. It was done in that short amount of time, though, so I figure 3-4 hours on low ought to do it.)


It appears that an intervention may be in order. I'll see how the next couple of days go but I'm already thinking about instituting a contingent reinforcer for keeping below the aimline. Perhaps I won't be able to craft or quilt unless I stay below the aimline. The problem with that one is that I don't craft or quilt everyday anyway. Hmmmm...

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Today's diet coke update

I had to punish myself for my bad day yesterday. I didn't have any today, even though it looks like I had one ounce. I entered 1 ounce in the graph just so a bar would show up and it wouldn't look like I forgot to enter something.
Blogger is only letting me upload one picture per blog entry so some days I'll do more than one entry to get all the pictures in.


Here's the finished wreath. See yesterday's post for details and the link to the blog from which I got the idea.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

I got my craft on yesterday...

...and did this, because I'm bound and determined that BonnieBlue will remember that during her childhood, her mom made a big deal of the holidays. My mom did, and I remember that fondly.

The blogger I got this idea from used a wooden wreath form but I couldn't find a craft store that had 'em and Dollar General wouldn't take my MasterCard as a credit card, only debit. I don't debit. I used a grapevine wreath.

Blogger has gone buggy again and won't let me upload any more images. ARGH! I'll do some more troubleshooting and hopefully will post the finished product tomorrow. In the meantime, HERE is where I got the idea.

Bad aspertame day

But, I did figure out the Blogger problem so I can now upload images again. Several photos to come.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Hating blogger

When I try to upload an image, Blogger is being finicky. First, it doesn't respond, but I hear my hard drive accepting about a thousand cookies. After that, it's a crap shoot as to whether it'll upload. Let's see if I'm lucky Lucy today.

Nope. No luck.

But my DCCR is going great. I was a few ounces over the aimline today, but it's because I was drinking my 20 ounce bottle in the car listening to Harry Potter and I simply forgot to not drink it all. Sorry about no graph.

On to another topic: I'm all caught up on my Christmas Mystery Quilt Project. Perhaps someday you'll see pictures. In the meantime, I have to explore my options for other blog providers.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Blogger in a fogger

Something is wrong with Google Blogger. It's having a cookie issue, as far as I can tell, and it won't let me upload images to my blog.

So, let me just update you via text that I'm still below the aimline on my DCCR program. Today was 20 ounces. It gets tricky from here on out because I have to practice some serious will power by dumping a bit of my 20 ounce bottle of diet coke at some point during the drinking of it.

Family home evening (FHE) was a lesson on prayer and then pumpkin carving. In my 30 second lesson on prayer, I mentioned that the only thing prayer and pumpkins have in common is that they both begin with 'P.' Perfectly appropriate lesson for a preschooler, I think.

I have pictures, but as you can tell, I've come full circle. I can't upload them due to my Blogger problem.

I shall try again tomorrow, with pictures of my Christmas mystery quilt project, as well.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Halloween craft

You can find this project at my favorite cooking blog, Our Best Bites. These took about 2 hours from start to finish, so I could have gotten to bed a little after 1 a.m., but I stayed up watching West Wing Season 2 (I'm a Wingnut). They turned out really cute, I think. I would have rather used purple for the vampire, but I didn't have any darker purple tissue paper (I did have a lilac color but I didn't think it would work). In retrospect, I would also put little bolts on the side of Frankenstein.

Frank, Hal, Ed, and Bob
 I have to admit, they look pretty cute in the normal room lighting just sitting out like this. At night, I think they would look fabulous with real tea lights, but this year, there is a 3-and-half-year-old BonnieBlue running around who is fascinated with fire, so I'm going to use battery-operated "tea lights" for our Halloween needs. Also, I have no idea if Mod Podge is flammable, and with my memory lapses of late, I'm sure to forget, leave the candles burning one night, and come home to find a pile of smouldering rubble. Fortunately, they look pretty cute with fake fire.

I'm going to try the glow sticks, too; I think that will look even cuter. I'm going to use a green glow stick for Frank, orange for Hal, etc.

By the way, when BonnieBlue saw these this morning, there was really no reaction. Perhaps next year she'll be impressed with  my craftiness.

The project supplies: glass jars (I'm going to try a plastic container soon to see if that works), Mod Podge, sponge brush, tissue paper, ribbon (or other trim-like material), and glue. One jar has the jar lid on top of tissue paper folded and glued on the lip of the lid, one has ribbon, one has black construction paper, and one has a gold-colored fabric trim ribbon. I used black tissue paper for the ghost's face, but I used black scrapbooking paper for the rest. I podged the jar first, laid 1-2" strips of tissue paper all around, and then when that dried a bit, podged all over again. After they dried, I glued on the faces with craft glue.

The big pumpkin is a jar I got at The Container Store about 4 months ago on a clearance shelf. It was 3 dollars, I think, because it didn't have the lid anymore. Frank is a Mason jar, Bob is a salad dressing jar, and Ed was made from a jar that had peaches in it. Crafty AND recycling!

I almost forgot! Here's my DCCR graph.

I think there is a little optical illusion going on with the bar graph. Today's bar looks a tad higher than yesterday's, but I had 23 ounces each day.

If you're wondering how I can post the graph when the day is only a little more than half over, here's why. I suffer from insomnia, whuch is aggravated when I drink ANY diet coke after 3 o'clock (used to be 7:00ish in my twenties, 5ish in my thirties, and now early afternoon in my forties). So, I almost never drink any diet coke after 3:30, unless I am desperately thirsty, and it's the only beverage available. It's not worth the tossing and turning later that night. Yesterday was the perfect example, as I had my second can of diet coke at 3:00 and wasn't tired enough to go to sleep until 3 a.m. Hence, the craft project.

This beautiful Saturday afternoon, BonnieBlue is with Grandma, and Rhett is with his brother at a gun show so I'm going to pull out the sewing machine and get started on the mystery Christmas quilt project. Booyah!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Down one ounce

That's all I want to say today.

Because tonight I'm going to make these cute mason jar lanterns from the food blog (one of my faves), and I want to go to be in bed before midnight (or 1 a.m.).

I'll post pictures of them when I'm done.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Diet Coke, Voting, and Jury Duty

First things first. Going gangbusters on my DCCR program (I'm getting tired of typing out Diet Coke Consumption Reduction).

I want to not be affilliated with any one particular political party.

Unfortunately, in Ohio that means you can't vote for candidates in primaries because in Ohio primaries you have to choose one of the following: a Democratic ballot, a Republican ballot, or an issues only ballot. There is a way for other parties to get candidates on the ballot in a primary, but I can't remember how it works. If they are successful, then there may be a Green Party ballot or a Libertarian ballot, etc. Anyway, during the last primary, I voted an issues-only ballot even though I really wanted Hillary Clinton to be president. I think she would have rocked. One of the benefits of such an action is a decided lack of robo-calls.

Anyway, my (w)holistic global view does not align with any one party. I'm somewhat of a social liberal on many issues, but not all. I'm a fiscal conservative. I'm neither a hawk or a dove. Blah, blah, blah. I have a candidate yard sign for a U.S. Senate candidate who lost in a close race 2 years ago. Rhett has met him several times, talked with him about relevant topics, shared with me those conversations, and I have decided I think he is the best candidate for the job. Someone keeps tearing down the yard sign. This behavior disgusts me.

I want to get a yard sign supporting the attorney general's re-election campaign because, well, I support him; I think he's the best person for the job. These 2 people are in different parties. I think it will confound people driving by yard.

I want to get 1000 yard signs made that say "Vote the person, not the party." That's my political statement. Can you imagine how fun politics would be without political parties? Ordinary people would have a decent shot at winning office. Go Everyman (and Everywoman!)!

My 28 years of voting have finally paid off. I've been called for jury duty. I WANT to get seated. I don't care if it's a tax evasion case. I love it that our country gives the accused the right to a trial and judgment by a jury of his/her peers. The USA rocks. I should be down to 5 ounces of diet coke a day by Jury Duty Day 1.

Ta for now!

First withdrawal symptoms?

I had a full day and couldn't post, so here's yesterday's graph.

I felt a bit off my game yesterday, kind of ucky in the abdomen area, and I wonder if it's withdrawal. After all, 26 ounces is about half my daily dose of late.

This morning was a nightmare trip to the dentist. Horror of all horrors, we discovered that nitrous no longer works for me, which is terribly unfortunate, because I have a mouth resistant to numbing, which means I get what seems like double the dose. And actually, I do get double the needles in my gums. Today was the day I decided, "no more." If I have any more serious dental work to be done (today was a crown), I'm going under.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Diet Coke Consumption Reduction

For my birthday present to myself, I thought I would give up one of my addictions.

I do not use this term loosely. I admit it (again): I am addicted to Diet Coke.

Diet Coke is sweetened with aspartame. Recent medical studies correlate the consumption of aspartame with vision loss. Some experts think the body doesn't know the difference and confuse it with sugar, so weight loss/metabolism is compromised by high aspartame consumption (i.e., it's harder to lose weight). Some studies show that consumption of soft drinks in general is correlated with less water consumption. In general, I'm trying to eat healthier, which includes less processed foods. And beverages.

And then there's the caffeine.

Long story, short, I'm giving diet coke up. Starting today.

But I just read today that it is dangerous to give it up cold turkey. I remember a study about caffeine consumption in which the subject self-recorded ounces of coffee drank, reducing consumption daily. I'm going to try that, and you're going to help me.

I'm going to blog about this daily and share my data. I think my target will be 3 oz. by Nov. 3, zero ounces on Nov. 4 (happy birthday to me!).

I am intending try to stay at the trend line everyday, but I might go lower and stay at that lower amount for a few days.

I've tried this before, without success. This month, however, is the 14th anniversary of the month I gave up alcohol. I like the symmetry.

Wish me luck!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

A healthier muffin

It being apple season, I thought maybe you would appreciate another apple recipe, as well as some hints about how to make muffins healthier.

Hint 1: Add flax meal (to any recipe that has flour); I'm currently experimenting with amounts, but in general, 1 heaping teaspoon per cup of flour seems to add no discernible taste or cooking difference.

Hint 2: Cut the sugar in half (unless it's my recipe). The original recipe that I generally use for zucchini bread calls for 2 cups. Ugh. I think that is crazy too-much! I added applesauce, which should help make up for the sweetness lost to that cup of sugar. In addition, I used mushy 'bananas (which I think get sweeter the mushier they get), and the apples were sweet. I will warn you, once you start cutting sugar in your baked goods, you will notice how sweet others' are.

Hint 3: Use half wheat flour or a high fiber flour. I'm partial to the Eagle's Mill brand in the picture below; I get it at Costco, so they're big bags, but I go through cooking spurts, so my flour doesn't "go bad."

Hint 4: Use only one egg and egg whites for the rest. This cuts the cholesterol.

Hint 5: Add whatever fruit you have on hand, and some veggies, e.g., zucchini and carrots. Admittedly, these are the only 2 veggies I've ever tried in a muffin.

Hint 6: Add walnuts or pecans and raisins, but not much. Unfortunately, I usually do not have nuts on hand, and I'm not a big fan of raisins in my muffins, but the raisins will add sweetness, allowing you to cut the sugar.

Hint 7: If the recipe calls for cinnamon, double it (except in my recipes). I love cinnamon and it's supposed to have some good, healthy properties that escape me at the moment.

Hint 8: Reduce the oil by half and replace with applesauce. The applesauce is one reason you can reduce the sugar.

My muffin choice today was determined by this: I had 5-6 smallish apples from a friend's tree and couldn't bear to throw them away. I had 2 and a half mushy bananas. I had half of a large zucchini reaching the edge of 'bad.' I hadn't blogged for awhile.

Fruity Zucchini Bread

this is what the wet mix looks like before adding in the dry stuff

Full disclosure: I forgot to add the flax meal to this batch.
• 2 egg whites, 1 egg lightly beaten
• ¼ cup vegetable oil
• ¼ cup apple sauce
• 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
• 2-3 mushy bananas
• About 1 ¼ cup white sugar
• About 1 ½ cups shredded zucchini
• 3 cups all-purpose flour (I use Eagle Mills All-Purpose Unbleached Flour from Costco, which is a mix of whole grain flour: 2 gram fiber per ¼ cup vs 1 gram of white)
• 1 heaping tablespoon flax meal
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1 teaspoon baking powder
• 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
• 1 tablespoon + 1 tsp ground cinnamon
• 2-3 cups chopped apple (I like big chunks; dicing them small will disguise them)

1. Preheat oven to 365 degrees F. Lightly grease 4 mini-loaf pans or 3 regular size loaf pans. Or use muffin tins.
2. In a large bowl, beat together the eggs, oil, apple sauce, vanilla, banana and sugar. Fold in the zucchini and apples
3. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, flax, and cinnamon and mix with a fork or whisk. Add flour mix to wet mix and fold in, just until combined.
4. Transfer to the prepared pans.
5. Bake 50 minutes (Muffins, 18-20 min) in the preheated oven, or until a knife inserted in the center of a loaf comes out clean. Cool 20 minutes in pans, then turn out onto wire racks to cool completely.

On another note, my birthday is next month. Rhett got me an early gift: Looky, looky! 
Yes siree! That's a 3-hole crockpot. 3 quarts and 3 setting for each pot. There's a notch in each pot rim so that the spoon can sit inside the pot while the lid is on and snug! This will make Thanksgiving so much easier! God bless my Rhett.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Christmas Mystery Quilt Project begins next week!

At a blog I'm sure I must have found via Mama Pea's blogsite, comes this project:

It's going to be a 3-dimensional wall-hanging. We've lived in our house since Dec. of 2006 and at this moment we have exactly 11 items hnging on our walls. And none are in the living room. Only one is in the the dining area, a picture of Christ. These 11 items are hanging only because there were existing nail holes in the walls. Ask any of my siblings; we have an aversion to pounding nails into walls, passed down from our father, I believe. I think this was likely enhanced when we each lived in rented/leased dwellings. Interestingly for me, Rhett 'suffers' this same aversion, hence, a serious lack of wall decor in our little Tara. I intend to pound my first new nail hole when this project is finished.

Erik calls for scraps of red, green, and beige or white fabric. Here's my assembly so far.

Reds (can you tell I'm partial to the darkish reds?)

greens (hmmm, only 3, but I've got a few yards of that dark one in the back)

beiges and whites (the one on the far left is my favorite)

As you might notice, I am lacking the greens. This is a scrap project, which already poses a challenge for me. I don't quilt much and haven't been for long, so I don't have a lot of scraps. In addition, my last (well, current really) quilt is a scrap quilt of greens and yellows, so all my green scrap went to that. They were summer-spring greens though, so admittedly I didn't have much Christmas green in the first place. Anybody want to donate green scraps for this project?

Here's a thought I had today about fabric . Until this morning, I have never been able to buy fabric without a project in mind. I mean, I can walk by a fabric and think, "Wow, that's cute/pretty/neat (insert other appropriate adjective here)." But I have always thought it extravagant to just buy fabric for no reason other than that I liked the fabric. Today, though, I was pulling out the fabric for these photos and the thought struck me that many (if not most) of my non-LDS friends and family think I'm more than a little "off" for having a basement full of food (in short, our church encourages a year's supply of food storage in case of emergency or in case of financial lean times, which by the way, we have experienced recently when Rhett was a SAHD). I have many pounds of wheat in my basement "for no reason."

The wheat is in the shiny foil pouches. Man, our food storage area is a mess.

Of course, someday I'll use it. That's the thought that hit me today. I have all that food for no particular reason except for that someday I will definitely use it. Ta - da! My rationale for buying fabric! It's not exactly a necessity for storage (unless the end times come) but there's the logic anyway...someday I'll use it! I think my little hobby is about to get more expensive. But how can Rhett, a devoted fan of food storage, argue with the logic?

(Food storage disclaimer: We do not have a year's worth. As you can see, I do store food that I actually use frequently, like lite mayo, pasta, pumpkin, various canned soups, etc. It's not all wheat and beans down there. In fact, you will note in the center and a little up in the photo that I buy essentials like Giaradelli Brownie mix in bulk at Costco.)

Back to the mystery quilt project. Erik has mentioned it's 3-dimensional, so I'm hoping it's something like an advent calendar. But more likely, it's probably just embellished with Christmas and winter-ish doo-dads (love that word 'doo-dad'!). It's the 3-dimensional part of this that has me interested enough to participate. One more week to go before the next set of directions!