Friday, April 18, 2014

Tortellini Soup - YUM!

You may have seen a variation of this recipe floating around Pinterest and Facebook. Not being much of a cook *understatement* I decided to give it a go, and let me tell you, it is a great recipe! Even my teen loves it.

Above is a photo of the final product - after it cooked in the slow cooker.

What you will need:

2 Packages of  frozen tortellini (I made more than the original recipe calls for) - enough to last for 2 dinners
1 Box of Vegetable Broth (I used Rachel Ray's 32-oz veggie stock)
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
1 Package of cream cheese (to make lower fat, I used neufchatel cheese)
A couple handfuls of spinach (I used frozen spinach and cooked in microwave before adding)
Dash of Pepper
*add water if there is not enough broth to sufficiently cover the tortellini*

Toss these ingredients in the slow cooker (after cutting up the cream cheese)

Cook on low for about 5 hours (the original recipe calls for 6 but the noodles fell apart). Keep an eye on it as the time gets close so as not to overcook.


Thursday, April 10, 2014

What Do You Fear?

When I have a day off, I  like to take a strength class. Well, it looks like today was our instructor's, (who resembles an unber fit Barbie) final day teaching. She reassured us that she would still be around though, teaching a paddle board class on the lake. Well, that's not gonna do me any good with my TOTALLY IRRATIONAL FEAR OF DEEP WATER!!!!

In my 40+ years I have never learned to swim well. I can float for long distances on my back and do the lame side stroke and a makeshift doggie paddle, but that's about the extent of it.

I realize if you can stay afloat in shallow water, you should conceivably be able to do the same in deep water, but if my feet cannot touch the bottom, panic sets in.

VC assessed my doggie paddle at the local swimming hole a year ago and said it wasn't half bad. If you recall, he is an incredible diver. No idea where those genes came from but I can safely say they were not from my gene pool.

Maybe one of these days I will tackle this fear. If only I didn't despise pools and bodies of water....

In the meantime, you will not spot me on the lake doing this - or even on dry land for that matter:
What is it you fear?

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Beans and Coffee, Edamame and Magical Childhoods!

Just when you thought I was done dwelling on intestinal issues, I'm not!  Today I learned a very valuable lesson: Do not eat the equivalent of a can and a half of black beans, guzzle some coffee and then go on a scheduled mall walk with a friend.


All that walking was just churning the big ball o' bloat...

I had to sit down at mile 3.31, and I never sit down during a slow mall walk...

I am a idiot when it comes to food. Sometimes even an idiot at identifying food. I was substituting with 7th graders all week. One day I was sitting with a group and a student had a bunch of what looked like pea pods or beans (who the heck knows the difference ;-) ) on the table.

We were getting ready to go outside so I wanted the kids to clean up. Noticing that one of his bean pods was on the floor, I said, "and please pick up that bean thingy" from the floor, at which point he replied, "it is edamame." So this is the kind of healthy food the kids are bringing for lunch these days!!  I frowned when I thought of the BLT sandwich I had made for VC that morning for his lunch. Not quite the same health value as edamame. And this is why I will not be receiving any Parent of the Year awards.

Speaking of which, did you see this blog post on the Huff Post, "I'm Done Making My Kid's Childhood Magical."  It is recommended reading. I am so glad VC made it through his formative years, before there was facebook, Pinterest and the constant documentation of every move he made and pressure to be Uber Creative Mom. The parents of today would be aghast to learn that my son has made it to age 18 without ever having had an XBOX, Playstation, Wii, Gameboy, etc. etc. It can be done...

Friday, April 4, 2014

Ultimate Blog Party 2014 is Here!

Ultimate Blog Party 2014 It is that time of year already - Ultimate Blog Party time - the one party I participate in every year!

Welcome to my blog. You can find out all sorts of neat things about me here.

How would I describe myself and my blog? It is a slice of life blog (begun in 2008) brought to you by a fortysomething mom - a soon-to-be empty nester as my son heads off to college practically clear across the country in the fall.

*cue nervous breakdown* ;-)

Luckily I have this little cutie to help with the loneliness. Our rescue cat, Pumpkin:

Horrible photo of me, but Ms. Pumpkin looks great. You will notice I am not picking her up. Pumpkin does not like to be picked up or held. Maybe someday she will be less skittish, but until then, we are more than happy to get down to her level :-)  She has brought us so much joy!

Here is how she wakes me up in the morning. I believe she is actually nipping me in the first few seconds...but then she does the gentle pat...Pumpkin errs on the feisty side...

I'll admit that I was one of those people who scoffed at people posting pics of their pets ad nauseum on Facebook...until I had a pet.

Now I feel compelled to check out every cat video that shows up in my newsfeed.

Yes, that is, in fact, a nose piercing on a middle aged woman. Done after giving it plenty of thought 4 years ago, yet I mostly can't wear the piercing due to my jobs - so I just put it in during the summer months. Do I worry that people are thinking "is that middle aged chick going through a midlife crisis or something?" Sure, but life is short. If you want to do something - do it!

I'm sure you wanted to know all this ;-)

Anyhoo, enjoy the party. Looking forward to visiting your blogs...

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Skip the Monk Fruit

In my never ending quest to reduce my sugar intake, I came across Monk Fruit (just typed "monkey fruit" by mistake) extract in the sugar substitute section of the grocery. I pulled out my phone to do some quick research on it's safety and saw that it got the Dr. Oz stamp of approval. (although sometimes I am quite skeptical of products he endorses) - further research was completed - and it seemed to be a safe product.

The particular brand I purchased was Skinnygirl Monk Fruit, simply because it was in a tiny container so I could try without going all in...

Eager to taste it, I came home and brewed some coffee (the old-fashioned way - no K-cups here) - and put in a couple splashes.

I can't even begin to describe the taste, but it was no match for sugar. Currently, I cannot drink coffee without putting in a teaspoon and a 1/2. Much too much, especially considering my concern about fatty liver infiltration. Not kidding...

It was extremely bitter and perhaps very remotely sweet. BLECH.

Not to be daunted, I tried it again the next day, this time putting in 1 teaspoon of sugar and 2 splashes of Monk Fruit. MEH. Only slightly better - and I was still consuming sugar, so that defeated the purpose.

And then the past couple days I noticed awful gas pains in my lower abdomen. I wasn't eating anything out of my ordinary relatively basic diet. Other than......Monk Fruit extract!!!!  The pain was very sharp during the night prompting me to get up and google "Monk Fruit Extract and excessive gas" - and what do you know...many people have trouble in that it can ferment in the digestive tract and cause bloating and gas.

This may be a case of my digestive tract getting more sensitive with age, and maybe you will try and and have no problems....but for me, it was not a good sugar replacement.

Trying to stay away from anything aspartame-related, I have already tried and put the nix on Agave.

Which brings me back to sugar and the fact that I may need to bite the bullet and just cut back on my sugar intake without focusing on finding a healthy replacement. This may require some gritting of teeth but I can do it. Or can I?

Friday, March 28, 2014

It Can Be Addicting

Those of us who semi-dread our 2-3x weekly visits to the gym might not believe that exercise can be addicting....but it can. Earlier this week I made the following post on FB:

Well the "obsessive exerciser" was in class with me again today. This is someone who is always working out. I don't go often (down to only 3x this month) but every time I go she is there- constantly having to do weights even when we are in resting mode. Always having to add extra exercises. If she is 90 lbs I'd be amazed. Very very sad. I guess no one who works at the gym is permitted to take her aside and ask her if she is addicted to exercise. When you get to the point that you look like a lollipop it is alarming. She is very pretty but would be much prettier with 20 lbs added imho. But I am going to keep the lip zipped....

I have been very concerned about this individual; luckily she is not yet near the extreme case I saw on GMA this morning. However, it is a slippery slope...Before class she is busy on the exercise machines and then after an hour class she immediately cuts out to work out again on the exercise machines.

As I was flipping channels while on my leisurely elliptical stroll, I couldn't believe there was a segment about a girl who was in a similar situation and the "angels" at the Y who arranged for an intervention to get her the treatment she so desperately needed. Click here to hear her story about the intervention and her subsequent recovery after months at a treatment center.

I am curious why no employees at the place I workout have said anything to this compulsive workout-er. Maybe it is legal reasons? It is a tough territory to tread on...

Have you come across an exercise addict and had the courage to intervene?

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Utah, Vegas and more!

Hello Friends!
We just returned from a fact finding mission to Utah to research a possible university for VC.

What am amazing corner of the country. We rented a "sweet" ride and drove 900 miles - ending up in Vegas on our last day.

Here I am in Zion National Park. The memory chip on my phone got corrupted - so we drove back the next day to re-take our photos - typical...

and then Vegas! Caesar's Palace - where I played some video poker - always a fun time!

Here we are inside the Bellagio - next to a spectacular piece of live artwork:

Lots of planes, shuttles and driving during our four day excursion...

I am not big on flying - so considering one leg of the trip on the way to/from was on the dreadfully small "Embraer" - (only three seats wide - one seat on the left; and two on the right) I was not looking forward to it.

And then the morning of our flight - which was scheduled to leave at 5:50 am - the plane had to be de-iced and then the pilot came on to notify us that the plan was having mechanical problems - which he described as the switch that controls the pitch of the nose of the airplane not working on his side, which meant an hour delay while a new switch was installed. Which lead to us arriving at the Gate in Chicago with only 6 minutes to spare!

I don't know about you, but when the mechanical problem is this type of mechanical problem, I'd almost rather NOT know what the problem is!!!!!

Anyhoo, we made it home safe and sound .

P.S. You are all so polite not mentioning all the spelling errors I had in my previous post on the decline of education standards LOL :D  just now figured out there is a spellcheck on Blogger so this post should be error-free!

BTW, there are more photos from our trip on Instagram (carmasez) if you would like to see them and/or follow my Instagram.

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