Saturday, August 6, 2016

Fruit Cobbler Recipe

So I've been on a fruit kick lately, and thinking about cobbler, and thinking, and thinking.  And not liking the recipes I keep seeing.  So I cobbled together a few and came up with a really simple recipe, that seems to work quite well!

1 cup butter (2 sticks)
3 cups fruit (I mixed about two cups peaches with a cup of frozen blueberries, cause I got a LOT of frozen blueberries, my husband uses them in his oatmeal), though I think I'll add more fruit next time, maybe 5 cups would be better?
1 cup sugar plus 1 tablespoon for topping
1 cup milk
1 2/3 cups self rising flour

Put the butter in your pan (I like mine deep so I used a casserole dish instead of a baking pan) and stick it in the oven while it's preheating to 350 degrees to melt the butter.

While the butter's melting you can peel and cut up your fruit if it needs it.  Put one cup of sugar in a mixing bowl, then take a couple tablespoons from what's in the mixing bowl and sprinkle it over the fruit.  Pour the milk in the mixing bowl and whisk to dissolve the sugar (I warmed my milk a little before adding so it would dissolve better).

Once the butter has melted, swirl it around the casserole dish a bit to coat then pour the excess into the mixing bowl with the milk and sugar.  Add the fruit to the casserole dish and put it in the oven to sweat while you finish the batter.

Add flour in batches, whisking in between to integrate it thoroughly.  Seriously you need to whisk, I tried a spoon first and it was just all lumpy.

Take your sweating fruit out of the oven and pour the batter over your fruit, being careful to cover to the edges.  Cause the crispy browned edges are the best part!  Sprinkle the top with the last tablespoon of sugar.

Bake for 50 minutes, until fruit is bubbling at the edges and the top is brown, and a toothpick comes out clean.  My oven usually takes longer than recipe directions say, so I was expecting to have to put it back in, but mine was done in 50 minutes, so you may want to check yours at 40 minutes.

Have your four-year-old tell you she doesn't want cobbler, and give her a few Dove chocolates for desert instead.  Eat cobbler.  I wish I had some Breyers Vanilla Bean with mine, but maybe I'll manage to make up for that in the next few days

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Summer Poncho

So, it's summer, and hot, and I'm pregnant.  I have a LOT of maternity tank tops, but I don't like just wearing a tank top cause then I feel like my armpits are on display.  So I thought, what can I knit to make me feel a little less naked, but that will let the breeze through.  Oh, and I don't want it to be SPECIFICALLY maternity, because if I'm going to spend the time to knit something I want to be able to wear it a LONG time.  Not just this summer.

I have several light summer sweaters that I wear with tanks when I'm not pregnant, of course they don't fit right now, but they're cotton, and very open.  So why couldn't I do the same thing with a poncho?  Ok, so it looks quite a lot like wearing a tent at the moment, but then I'm pregnant so EVERYTHING looks like a tent.  This is what I came up with.

It's sized for me, but everything looks better on her!

The Design

There are a LOT of poncho designs out there that are just, knit two identical long rectangles and sew them together like such:
But I hate having to seam things together.  I'd much rather knit things together all in one piece, so I got to thinking about the geometry, how these really simple shapes fit together and I came up with a plan.  Instead of two identical rectangles, I think of it as one rectangle that's extended by a square from the other rectangle, and the remaining part of that rectangle is the piece that goes over the shoulder.  And instead of knitting two separate pieces, you knit the section over one solder first, and then go straight down the other side.
Not a big change, I know.  This is how it works.

The Pattern

Note: I'll give every measurement in inches as well as stitch and row count, just to make it easier for you to adjust your gauge or size.
Yarn: I used a DK yarn of undetermined fiber that I picked up in a blind bag, but since this is an open weave, feel free to go with a lighter weight yarn.  My poncho is a tough warmer than I'd prefer so I'd recommend a yarn with a high cotton or silk (yeah, I have dreams of buying nice silk yarn) content.
Needles: Circular needles in two sizes, one about double the size of the other (you won't be knitting in a circle, but the poncho is to wide to fit on any of my straight needles, and it helps to be able to knit around the curve of the sholder).  I used size 7 and 15.
(optional) another circular needle in a smaller size than the smaller needle above, for provisional cast-on.
Gauge: 17 stitches, 19 rows = 4 inches on the smaller (size 7) needles, this one works best if you knit a gauge swatch and use that to divide the measurements you want.  Don't look at my gauge, use your own!
Yardage: This is a VERY loose guess, 700 yards
Sizing: I based mine off a couple body measurements.
Mid-shoulder (not to tight to the neck) to wherever you want the poncho to fall on the side, on me this is just a touch past elbow, about 19 inches.
Neckline circumference, not neck, but how far out I want the neckline to fit.  You don't want this to be any tighter than fits comfortably over your head, but feel free to make it looser if you'd like a lower V.  My neckline is about 22 inches.

Stripe pattern is achieved by switching from small, to large, and back to small needles every few rows.  Over the shoulder I used this pattern:

Two rows large needles
Three rows small needles
Two rows large needles
Three rows small needles
Two rows large needles
Six rows small needles

When I got to the body I wanted a more open pattern so I doubled the number of rows on large needles.

You may want (or need) to vary your pattern if your gauge or measurements are different from mine.
  • Cast on 80 stitches on your smaller needle (size 7) or the stitch count that is appropriate for your arm length.  I like to use this provisional cast-on, but instead of waste yarn I use the cable part of a smaller circular knitting needle.  That way when it comes time to knit off the provisional end you can just knit off that needle without having to pick up the stitches and remove the yarn.  If you don't have a provisional cast-on you like, feel free to use any cast-on, just remember how many stitches you'll need to pick up later.
  • Knit one row back to where you started casting on with the smaller needle (size 7).  Place a marker on this edge so you know where you started knitting.
  • Switch to larger needles (size 15) and begin pattern above.  Knit pattern three times, or until you reach one half the length you want for your neckline (for me, 11 inches).  On the last repeat of the pattern, don't knit all six rows of the final set on the small needles, just do two rows for that group.  (you should now be on the same side as the marker you placed where you started knitting)
  • I re-measured my gauge here and found out I was getting closer to 14 stitches per 4 inches due to the fabric's tendency to stretch across the knitting (to be expected when alternating with a larger needle).  I used my new gauge measurement when calculating the stitch count for the next step.
  • Continuing on the small needles cast on 38 stitches (or the count that matches the length you've already knitted, this will be the other side of your neckline) using a single yarn cast on that's fairly stretchy.  I like this one but if you have another that you like better use it, just be sure it gives enough stretch to fit over your head comfortably.
  • If you used a provisional cast-on, just pick up and continue knitting from right by the marker where you started knitting (this is where provisional cast-on to the cable on a circular needle comes in handy), or pick up the same number of stitches you originally cast on along your starting edge and knit along them (this won't leave quite as neat a seam).  Be careful not to twist your just cast-on edge, you don't want to be knitting a spiral along your neckline (unless you think that would add a decorative touch, what do I know).
  • Knit the remaining four rows on small needles all the way across to complete that repeat of the pattern.  Note: I intentionally started the other side of the neckline on the smaller needles so that I would have a more stable edge and so that the measurements of the neckline would match more closely, otherwise you run the risk of the stiches stretching out at a very different rate from the rows, resulting in a lopsided poncho.  An alternative solution to this would be to come back and pick up stitches all around the neck hole and knit/purl a few rows to finish things off and keep them even.  If you're an overachiever you might even do that around the bottom of the poncho as well and use some kind of decorative bind-off, but I digress...
  • Knit one more full repeat of the first pattern, the one with only two rows each time you use the larger needles.  
  • Then switch to this pattern:
Four rows large needles
Three rows small needles
Four rows large needles
Three rows small needles
Four rows large needles
Six rows small needles
  • Knit this pattern three times, or until you are nearing the length you measured from your shoulder down your arm.   
  • This is where your pattern may get a little creative. You want to end your pattern at the right length to match the other side of your poncho, which may mean another full wide pattern, one or two narrower ones.  Or just add enough rows on the smaller needles to end at the right length.  Here's what I ended up doing:
Four rows large needles
Eight rows small needles (I lost count, meant to only do six)
Two rows large needles
Three rows small needles
Two rows large needles
Four rows small needles
  • Bind off loosely, you don't need a particularly elastic bind off, but you don't want your bind off to be so tight that this side of the poncho ends up drawn up shorter than the other.  I tried a couple of different bind-offs, first the one that goes knit two together (my favorite bind-off to do, but tends to be a little tight), then pass it back.  That one turned out to tight, so I went back and did the yarn-over bind off, which seemed to allow enough room to keep the edge loose.  I could have used my favorite bind-off with the larger size needles, but I didn't think of that until I'd already done a fair bit with the yarn over bind-off so I just kept going.
  • Finally, weave in the end
Here's another gratuitous picture of my supermodel and her unicorn:

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Distilled Christianity

So I have this philosophy about getting down to the roots of Christianity.  I'm trying to get rid of all the trappings, all the extra stuff that goes with the belief system that I follow, in order to understand what the core of Christianity really is.  A lot of folks don't understand why, they think I'm taking something away from their belief system, but it's not about that.

People have been muddling up God's creation from almost the very beginning. The first documented proof is Genesis 3:3 when Eve adds the "don't touch" to what God said about the tree they weren't supposed to eat. He didn't say anything about touching, or climbing or rolling around in the fruit of the tree of life.  Heck, according to the word of God, Eve could have picked great quantities of the fruit, made a body mask, and steeped herself in it. Not saying it would have been a good idea, but it would have followed the letter of the law.

Ever since then, people have been trying to put words in God's mouth. They add rules where no rules we given. Some of these rules might even have been good ideas in the beginning, I mean, if it helps you to resist temptation, then don't touch the fruit, just don't misrepresent the self made rules you live by, to God. And I make plenty of rules for myself, it's why I'm not on Facebook. I make rules for my life to help me follow the path I think I'm supposed to follow, but they're my rules, not to be attributed to God nor imposed on others.

The nature of religion is to add trappings, pomp, circumstance, to build an awe of not just God but all the things surrounding Him. I'm not sure why we do this, but I think it might be out of selfishness. By building awe around our belief system we build awe around ourselves. We self elevate, and that by itself is the purest nature of sin, putting self above God. In case you haven't figured it out, I don't really like religion.

I prefer to have a relationship with Jesus Christ. I believe God has had two contracts with humanity. The first, the contract of old testament, was based on rules and sacrifice. It lent itself to pomp and legalism. And it was impossible to live up to. The second contract between God and humanity is all about love and forgiveness. It's about Jesus's sacrifice and redemption of our sins instead of conviction for them. It's about accepting ourselves for who we are, knowing that we're loved by God DESPITE our fallen nature. So when it comes to core beliefs I throw out the old, after all, the real purpose of the old testament was to point toward Jesus coming. Instead I focus only on the words of Jesus, and make those the foundation of what I believe.

I'm not saying that's all I live by, after all I want to be the best me possible, but I need to distinguish between God's contract with all people, and the rules I have built for myself. My rules may help me to resist temptation, to overcome my specific struggles, but they are NOT to be imposed on other people. I try to judge myself conservatively, but be liberal in my acceptance of others.
You might think this a contradiction, but I see it as the example Jesus set for us. He was sinless, blameless, perfect; an example I can never live up to. But he associated with the worst of the worst, the poor, sick, prostitutes, the hated tax collectors, and he always dealt with them in love. The only time he showed anger was in fighting the trappings that had grown up around religion, and those who had instituted them.

So I look at the rules that I was taught growing up in church, many of them with their roots in the old testament. A lot of them are good ideas to aspire to, they may be a guide that helps me to live my life, but I have to be careful that it stops there and not let it color my opinions or acceptance of other people. I need to "live my best life" (thank you Oprah) but not impose it on other people.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

101 ways my life is better now than 20 years ago (when I was younger and thinner)

Sometimes I need to take a moment or 20 to remind myself how much good is in my life now, and how even though I used to be young and thin things are still much, MUCH better now!

1.  I'm married to the most wonderful man in the world who keeps me sane and cleans house and cooks better than I do (seriously, he even makes pie crusts).
2.  I have the most amazing little girl who I love more than I ever imagined possible.
3.  I get to take bubble baths on a regular basis.
4.  I have a great big garden tub for taking bubble baths in.
5.  I have company for my bubble baths (which makes the garden tub even more important).
6.  I have some nice fluffy towels.
7.  And a stained glass window over the tub (I've totally wanted one of those for years).
8.  For that matter, I married a man with pretty stained glass in his coffee table and lamp.  I tell him I married him just so I could live with his coffee table.
9.  I have a smart phone, and it's red, and has games!
10.  I drive a car that I bought new, and it gets 42.6 MPG.
11.  I care about the gas consumption of my car.
12.  I know that my hair is curly, not just frizzy, and sometimes I know what to do with it.
13.  I have hair dye, and I'm not afraid to use it, in a variety of colors... some of them never occurred in nature.
14.  I only have one zit at the moment, and sometimes not even one, and I don't have that many wrinkles yet either.
15.  I've realized that I have pretty good eyebrows with very minimal (and not at all painful) maintenance.
16.  I know enough to get confused by the rule differences between college and pro football.
17.  I have really comfortable pajamas, with pockets!
18.  I know how to knit.  Not that I know everything about knitting, but I tried to learn three times, and failed the first two.
19.  I know how to sew well enough to make my own purse.
20.  I'm beginning to understand what colors look good on me, what a "soft summer" is, and that I don't look good in black.
21.  I have walls in my house that are different colors, and not a single one is off-white.
22.  I get along well with my mother despite her predilection for off-white walls.
23.  I have a really great duvet cover of good thick, heavy cloth that stands up really well to cat claws.
24.  I have several different kinds of ice cream in my freezer, and know of at least three kinds that are better than anything I had growing up.
25.  I have popsicles too.
26.  And Yorks.
27.  And dark chocolate M&M's (not in the freezer) which they didn't even make 20 years ago.
28.  I know what good grapefruit is, and that I can only get it at one time of year, and that time is now so I have a bag of it in my refrigerator.
29.  I have a job that is intellectually stimulating, but not all-consuming (so I still have time to knit and do laundry).
30.  I know several different salad recipes that I like well enough that I could easily eat salad every day.  I probably should eat salad every day, but that's another story.
31.  I live in a neighborhood with a pool, not that the pool's open most of the year or anything, but it's nice to have one in the summer when I remember to shave my legs.
32.  I know what ADD is, and how it affects my life, and some things that I can do to work with it, and sometimes how to medicate it.  That's a nice change of pace to just not understanding why I was so terrible at school.
33.  I have learned what to do to take care of my back so it doesn't hurt randomly.  Yay inversion table!
34.  I have toe socks.
35.  I have The Sound of Music on DVD.
36.  I have read the Lord of the Rings, several times.
37.  And The Wheel of Time, but only once (it's a lot longer).
38.  And a lot of other good stuff, not just SciFi and Fantasy.
39.  And a lot of other complete and utter crap, so I have something for comparison.  It helps to really appreciate the good stuff.
40.  I have an understanding of why some literature is really great, and have read some really great stuff on my own.  I also know enough to feel that my opinions are valid, so I can intelligently say that some of the crap they made us read in school really was crap.
41.  And some of it would have been good if they hadn't edited out the good parts and let us have enough time to read the whole thing (hello Odyssey!).
42.  I have a Kindle, and it fits in my purse a LOT better than most of the books listed above, and can hold many of them at one time (which makes reading serieses back to back a lot more convenient).  The dictionary says series is already plural and then goes on to use it repeatedly in examples as "a series".  I have "a cat" in my lap, but not "a cats" so I'm respectfully disagreeing with the dictionary and saying that series is singular and using "serieses" as the plural form to refer to multiple serieses.
43.  I feel free to disagree with the dictionary.
44.  Kindle text-to-speech, makes all kinds of house work more bearable.
45.  I have a bed in which I sleep more comfortably than I have ever before in my life, now if only I had the time to use it.
46.  I have a really old and squashed into shape body pillow without which I can't sleep worth anything, but with which my back doesn't hurt.
47.  I've learned enough about art, all the arts really (visual, written, performing...), to understand its progression and how the forms relate to each other so it really is only one progression followed by all the arts, and don't feel like I've missed out on much just because I can never remember the various dates when things happened and the start and end of all the periods.
48.  I've learned that even if I understand it, it doesn't mean I have to like it, and to collect only what I love (that goes for paintings as well as films and music).
49.  I've learned that if I buy it simply because it was a good deal that won't make me love it later on. 
50.  Which means I should really only buy toilet paper on a good deal, cause eventually I'll use that up anyway.  If it hangs on the wall (or in my closet) I should only buy it if I love it.
51.  I've learned that I can fix a lot of things that I never would have thought possible (having the internet and a good set of tools helps).
52.  I've learned that sometimes if it's going to be done right I have to do it, and sometimes things are worth doing right.
53.  I've learned that my time is worth something, so sometimes it's worth the convenience of having someone else do it.
54.  I've learned that some things are better left to the professionals.  Maybe I COULD find and fix that leak under the sink, but the plumber will do it a lot quicker, and it'll look a lot neater when he's done.  Also, I'll worry about it coming undone less.
55.  I've learned that worrying rarely helps a situation.  That doesn't mean I don't worry, but I try not to. After all, thinking about a problem can lead to thinking of a solution.
56.  I have coffee that's better than Starbucks on a daily basis, and it's fixed by someone who knows exactly how I like it without having to ask.
57.  There's an oak tree and a Japanese maple in the front yard, I've totally always wanted those.
58.  I have every color of Play-Doh known to man on my coffee table (and embedded in my carpet), and some colors not known to man.
59.  Cable.
60.  Tivo.
61.  Netflix.
62.  Hulu.
63.  Amazon (for a plethora of reasons, not just my viewing pleasure).
64.  And a husband who doesn't regard me as a lazy bum if I spend hours viewing any of the above (when my daughter will let me).
65.  YouTube, with my daughter, for hours.
66.  My commute is from my bedroom to my basement, only way it could be shorter would be if it stopped in my living room.
67.  My hours are really flexible, and only VERY rarely start before 10:30 AM.
68.  I finally managed to stop biting my fingernails.
69.  Two kitties that like to snuggle up and keep me warm!
70.  My husband gave me a SpotBot for my birthday a few years back that does a great job cleaning up behind said kitties when they throw up on the floor.  I know, husbands are not supposed to give anything even remotely vacuum related to a wife as any sort of present, but...
71.  My husband knows me well enough to know when to break the rules.
72.  My husband values the appliances as much as I do.
73.  And uses them every bit as much as I do.
74.  Sometimes more.
75.  I've found a birdfeeder that's almost entirely made of metal and sturdy enough to stand up to the raccoons.
76.  There are raccoons that regularly show interest in the bird feeder, so I get to watch them.
77.  I get to watch the cats watching them, and that's one of the best things ever!
78.  I hold out hope for them coming early enough for my daughter to see them one day.
79.  There are deer that regularly wander through my yard, much to the chagrin of my azelias and hostas.
80.  My daughter enjoys watching them even more than I do.
81.  My daughter has learned to feed the cats.
82.  She's also learned to peel and eat boiled eggs.  These two things are not related.
83.  Recliner couch!  These used to be two separate things, but now I know better.
84.  I have neighbors close enough so that I can play in the snow with their kids.
85.  I have a daughter of an age that makes this not creepy.
86.  Instead it makes me the sainted neighbor who keeps the other parents from having to venture out far in the snow.
87.  Said neighbors also partake in my random baked goods, which are generally sweets, so I REALLY don't need to keep the whole batch of whatever my recent craving led me to make.  I LOVE the neighbors that save me from the fudge!
88.  I've come to the realization that I have more house than I need.  And I have the smallest house in the neighborhood.  It's nice to not have house envy.
89.  It's nice to not have envy in general.  I've come to realize I've been blessed in so many ways, and to be happy with enough.
90.  I have three generations of the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook, and have learned that it's a great reference for all kinds of foods.  Even if I'm making a recipe from somewhere else, if it doesn't have clear instructions I can look in the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook for similar recipes and generally fill in the blanks.
91.  I regularly have TWO Christmas trees.
92.  I've come to realize that ALL kinds of clothing can be altered in ALL kinds of ways, to make them fit better, or more comfortable, or less annoying.
93.  This includes bras.
94.  I've learned I don't have to get it right the first time.  I can keep tweaking it, and trying it until I get it the way I want it.
95.  I've learned that sometimes my Mom does a better job organizing my house/stuff than I do, and to just go with it and take advantage of her while I can.
96.  I've really just learned to appreciate my parents all around in ways I never knew possible, but particularly my Mom.  Which is awesome because we all know mother-daughter relationships tend to be a bit tenuous.
97.  I've learned I can't buy self-worth.
98.  I've learned I can feel better by exercising self control and holding off on a purchase until I've really thought it through.  And sometimes there's more power in not buying something, especially when my reasons are well thought out.
99.  I've learned that I don't need to impress the lady in the shop by showing what-all I can buy.  And that I can be friendly and nice while still saying NO.
100.  I know that sometimes it's nice to know that you have enough to cover all the bases, but seriously I could get rid of 90% of what I have in my china cabinet and never miss it.
101.  I've learned that my capacity to love is unlimited, and only needs a new person or situation or way to love to stretch it's bounds.

I've been working on this list for a couple months.  I'm sure I've missed plenty of things, and I hope I don't have to many duplicates, but it's late so I'm not going through and rereading it just to miss them the second time around.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Making Muffin Quiches with a two year old

My little girl is home sick today, so I'm looking for interesting ways to feed her, and also keep her out of her daddy's hair at the same time.  I kept imagining involving her in the cooking process, and even better watching the consumption of a complete protein laced with green vegetable, so we decided to make mini quiches today, from a recipe that I half made up half cobbled together from various other recipes I've read.  But who wants to mess with pie crusts with a two year old.  Here's what you need:

A regular size muffin tin.  I only have a 12 muffin pan, but you could probably adjust the recipe to fit whatever size you have.
Refrigerated biscuits in a can, the kind with the layers
Shredded cheese
Eggs, I used 7 in a 12 muffin pan, but after seeing how they turned out I think I should have only used 6
and then you have the quiche add-ins, feel free to change these if you like...
Diced ham, we had some ham left over from dinner earlier this week so I just diced it up after the little girl went to sleep last night.
Frozen broccoli florets, I like the Birdseye for this application because they're really small, the smaller the better for throwing stuff in quiche.

Gratuitous eating of grated cheese from the bag ahead!

Preheat the oven to whatever your bread in the can says it needs.  There are going to be leftovers so we're going to cook those first.
Spray your muffin cups and a cookie sheet with cooking spray.
Open your biscuits and take out one biscuit.  Use the layers to pull your biscuit apart into thinner rounds, and try to get three fairly even pieces from your biscuit.  Hand each third of a biscuit to your two year old and tell him/her to put one in each muffin spot.  Once your muffin tins all have a biscuit piece the bottoms you can have your two year old put the rest of the leftover biscuits on the cookie sheet and bake them according to the directions (minimum cooking time worked for me).

Check to make sure the biscuit thirds are fairly even in the bottom of the muffin tins and have your two-year-old sprinkle a tiny bit of cheese on top of each biscuit.    Go back behind and even out the cheese where she added to much or not enough.

Add a little bit of broccoli and ham to each cup, this turned out to be about three florets per cup with the Birds Eye broccoli.  You'll have help for this too (not just eating cheese).  Then have your two-year-old add more cheese (that's were more eating cheese comes in).  Hide the cheese before the whole bag gets dumped on the muffin tin, but not before a fair bit makes it on the floor.

Break your eggs into a small mixing bowl, add a little salt and pepper, and scramble them with a fork.  My two-year-old likes to crack eggs, so I had to wrestle one out of her hand when she wanted to add an 8th egg.   While I was scrambling eggs I had the two year old add a touch more cheese to each muffin cup on top of the veggies and ham.    Then hide the cheese again.  Add a little egg to each cup.  It won't be even, but try for as even as you can.  My two-year-old wanted to add more cheese to the tops.  I thought they were done, but she didn't.  You can guess who won.  I should have hidden the cheese.

Bake for the maximum length of time recommended for your biscuits then check them every two minutes or so for jigglyness.  Yes, "jigglyness" is a word despite what spell check might say.  "Jiggles" just doesn't cut it.  Anyway, check them every two minutes.  Notice that one of them seems to look wet on top.  Keep cooking them, even though most of them look done.  After a few checks decide that maybe the wet spot isn't uncooked egg but instead could be ice that was attached to the frozen broccoli.  Cook them a little longer anyway, just to be on the safe side.  I ended up baking mine for about 20 minutes.  Try not to step on the cheese on the floor while you're checking your quiches.

When they come out of the oven they're pretty delicate, like a souffle, but after about 5 minutes cooling you can run a butter knife back first around them and they pop out pretty well.

Sweep up the cheese on the floor even though your toddler is still eating it.  Catch her raiding the pile as you're sweeping it.  If you can't see to much lint and garbage in your pile of cheese, just resign yourself to what is happening and put your swept up cheese in a bowl and give it to your two year old.  Remind yourself that the human body is designed to build up immunity to germs, which it can't do without at least some exposure.  So by allowing your child to eat off the floor you're actually giving him a stronger immune system.  You're welcome.

Now try your quiche.  Pretty good isn't it?  Now try to give one to your toddler.  Try to bribe your two year old to take it.  Break off a single bite size piece to wave under your two year old's nose.  This finally garnered a reaction.

"I don't like quiche."
"You've never had it before."
"I don't like it."
Taking a bite yourself, "It's really good.  It's eggs, you asked for eggs this morning."

Waving tiny bite under toddler's nose, "It's eggs with cheese and other stuff you like.  Just try a little."

"You can't have any Skittles until you eat breakfast.  Just take one bite."
Watch hopefully as she takes the small bite your holding, looks at it, holds it up to her mouth, he teeth meet and she consumes maybe three molecules of quiche... and spits them out.  Seriously, there wasn't anything to spit out, so it was just spit!  Then go take a bubble bath with your two year old.

I refrigerated my leftovers (seriously, nobody but me is eating these things) and they heat up well in the toaster oven.  They're pretty good cold too.  If you're going to eat your feelings they might as well be a complete protein with a green vegetable embedded.  And cheese is comfort food... so are biscuits for that matter.  Feel comforted.

Recipe alternatives:
A lot of the quiche recipes I ran across call for onion that you've cooked before you add it to the quiche.  I was going to do this the night before when I diced the ham, but it turns out we're out of onion (grocery list, check).  I think scallions would be great in these, and you wouldn't have to pre-cook them.  You could experiment with other types of vegetables, I think frozen spinach would be good if you broke it up quite a bit.  I might try mushrooms some day, but I'd want to pre-cook those too and I'm not generally a huge fan of canned mushrooms.  Anyway, feel free to add whatever leftovers you have.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Living with myself, in the present

I'm never here.  Oh, I look like I'm present; I've learned to smile and nod with the best of them.  But while the world passes me by I live an alternate reality inside my head.  I'm always thinking about what I should be doing, or what I could be doing, or what I'm going to do, but very VERY rarely am I focused on where I am.

I also spend a lot of time thinking on what I'll do WHEN.  When I loose the weight, when I have time to exercise, when my little girl is old enough to do whatever it is for me, and how I'll implement this project I have in mind to start 6 weeks from now (when I've already got 6 projects in various stages of incomplete).  And I live in various fantasy worlds, how I would live my life if my American Idol/America's Got Talent auditions had gone differently, or what if I got around to writing one or more of the books in my head and got it published, or what if I was an artist who actually made a living creating... ANYTHING!

I wonder if it's part and parcel of the ADD.  I've noticed this is particularly bad when I WANT to do something (usually want to make something, some project I've started) but I'm doing family things instead, and you know what?  It's causing me to miss out on what's REALLY important.  Ok, so potty training isn't glamorous, but if I let it be it can be plenty exiting!

When I can manage to focus on the present I realize, it's pretty good.  I have a fantastic husband, an amazing daughter, and a job that leaves me enough free time to occasionally create things on the side (and it's a pretty interesting job too).  Why can't I manage to be fully HERE more often?  When I do manage it I find I'm more satisfied with the way things go and my evenings move smoother, perhaps because I'm enjoying time with my wonderful husband and fantabulous daughter instead of getting frustrated at all the things I'm not doing.  But when I let my mind wander all I see is wasted time, wasted tasks, wasted effort.

I need to find a way to keep myself present, to keep from thinking that I'm wasting time at the very times I should be enjoying the most.  So in an effort to focus on the here and now I've made a few resolutions (I would call them New Year, but I've actually been working on these for several months now).

  • I will medicate my ADD, not with sugar or with caffeine, but with actually ADD medications.  I will find a schedule for these medications that works for me, a way that doesn't interfere with my sleep schedule (to often, occasional insomnia comes with the territory), and will manage those awake hours in a way that makes good use of the time (not in reading the entire WOT wikia yet again).  If my current medication doesn't work for me then I will find a doctor who will work with me to find one that does.
  • I will get up and move more.  I may make use of my treadmill desk, I may go for a walk, I may take up running, or I may do something drastic and try to catch up on the yard work that needs doing around here!  But I'll try to do something active starting maybe 2-3 times a week.
  • I will no longer waste time shopping for stuff that doesn't make sense for me to buy.  They're very pretty, but I already know way more than I ever needed to know about diamonds.  There is no need for me to spend time browsing in stores that don't sell clothes in my size, so if you don't make an XXL or 16 you can expect me to cancel your store credit card, and just because I like your handbags doesn't mean I want to see all the cute outfits that I'll never fit in to so you can expect me to unsubscribe from your newsletter (I'll buy my handbags somewhere else, or better yet, make them).
  • I've got to cut way back on sugar.  Oh, I know I can't cut it completely out (my husband's cookies and cakes and bread are WAY to good), but I can cut out the Skittles and the M&M's (even the dark chocolate peanut ones) and try to pair my sugar with whole grain flour whenever I have to bake.  I know I'm going to have some sugar, but I'd rather have one truffle from Godiva than a whole bag of Starbursts.  
  • And while I'm at it, I'm gonna eat more green.  Not that I'm gonna eat a salad every day, but lately I've been so focused on making more room in the freezer that I've lost sight of what I should be eating.  Don't get me wrong, it's nice that I've cleaned out a couple of ice cream containers, but I KNOW I'm just going to go out and buy more ice cream.  It's satisfying to see more room for stews and meatballs and chili, but I've got to stop eating things just because they're there.
  • And on that note, I've got to pay attention to what's just there.  I've always been bad about mindless eating, so I have to find ways to clear stuff out, put it aside, make it plain that the bad stuff is not for me.  Oh it'll still be in the house (I need the Skittles to bribe Talia), but it'll be somewhere that's designated for other people and NEVER in my office!  I need to clear out my office snack drawer of everything except healthy snacks, really only nuts.  I don't need chips or crackers or pretzels, and if I do need chocolate I need to make the effort to go get it from some other part of the house.  
  • So I suppose I need to create a stash of high quality chocolate that's not in everybody else's way (boy, this to-do list is growing).
I need to be the wife I want my husband to be married to, and the mother I want my daughter to see.  That means more than my relationship to food by-the-way.  It also means I need to act like I care about myself.
  • I need to wear REAL shoes when I go out, not just house slippers that I tell myself look almost like real shoes.  I should probably not even wear tennis shoes most days, but I'm still working on that.
  • I need to wear makeup.  It makes me feel better about myself.  I may have the most pared down makeup routine on earth (OK, I know I don't, that honor belongs to my mother), but that routine needs to exist (it hasn't for a long time).  It needs to be something workable that I can maintain and do every day, or at least almost every day.  
  • I need to wear clothes that are right for me.  Not that I'm going out and buying an entirely new wardrobe, but I need to stop falling in love with something just because it fits.  I need to learn what colors work for me (after years of wondering I think I've finally figured out that I'm a "soft summer" though I have yet to really figure out what that means I should wear), and yes that means no more black.  It doesn't matter that it's slimming, and worn by ninjas (can ninjas wear brown? purple?), and it's EVERYWHERE.  Black doesn't work with my skin.  I've known this for nearly 20 years (since prom dress shopping) and yet I still have black in my wardrobe.  It's gonna have to go.  
  • So are the socks and underwear (and anything else) that have holes in them.  It's not like I don't have enough socks and underwear (if I ever get around to folding laundry so I can find it).  If it's holy and worn out and I can't mend it then it needs to go.
  • And to top it all off, if I live in the present then instead of having my mind wandering, maybe I can use all that extra brain power to be more understanding of others.  Starting with my husband and daughter of course, but I look back over the years at conversations I've had (or only had in my head) and way to many of them were me spouting off about stuff I thought I knew.  I'm sure I've lost friends for it.  Maybe instead of trying to convince everyone (mainly myself) that I know everything, I should be more accepting of what other people know, or need.  Maybe I should recognize that I don't know it all, indeed as I get older I start to realize just how much I don't know, and maybe if I'm here, REALLY HERE, I'll start learning from other people what they know so much better than I do, about EVERYTHING.
Is that enough?  I don't normally make resolution lists, certainly not around New Years.  In the past I've laughed about New Years resolutions (even if I secretly made one or two to not keep on my own).  Maybe that's another thing I need to change, but this list is long enough already.  I tried not to put any absolutes in there.  I know I'll fail (there will be dark chocolate peanut M&M's) but if I don't cut things out completely, if I only do as I should part of the time, it will still be an improvement over what was before.  But then, I'm not thinking about what was before anymore.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Making "peace" with XXL

Ok, so I thought I'd accepted myself a long time ago.  I'd accepted that I'd never be a size 2, or 6, or even a size 10 again.  But recently I've been trying to come to grips with the idea that I may NEVER AGAIN buy my clothes in the regular sizes of a department store; that there are plenty of brands that don't even make clothes in sizes I could ever wear.  To someone who's interested in more than decency, but who actually cares about fashion, well it's a hard blow to take.

You see, I've known I had a weight problem for a while, but I always thought it was something I could fix if I just found the key, if I ate less, exercised more.  Everyone kept telling me, it's just a matter of calories in/calories out.  And that may actually be the case, but calories out isn't as simple as all that.  Ten years of an undiagnosed under-active thyroid should have taught me that, but somehow it didn't, and as I've been tracking what I eat lately I'm beginning to recognize that I just don't burn as many calories as everyone seems to think I should.  Even with the most sedentary lifestyle every online calculator says I should be burning about 2400 calories a day, so why is it that with a diet of 1300-1500 I still weigh 192-194?

YES!  I'm giving numbers!

Not that I've always eaten as healthy as I do.  I certainly didn't count calories in college, and with an all-you-can-eat cafeteria it was no wonder I gained the freshman 15 three years running.  And even years after that I depended on the convenience of fast food for lunches and never hesitated to order that milkshake when I was out with friends.  But then my knees started to hurt, and I starded to realize that they just couldn't handle what I was making them carry, so I started to cut back to 1000, 900, eventually even 800 calories a day.  I had doctors telling me that I must be eating more than that, that I wasn't recording accurately, that I was lying to them.  Then my under-active thyroid was diagnosed, and I thought that was the key to everything.  And to some extent it was.  I certainly weigh less now than I did when we first started medicating my thyroid.  I've lost all the "baby" weight.  And I held out hope that if I just watched things close enough for long enough that I could make it back down to a 12, that magic number that would allow me to go into almost any store, find something cute, and not have to worry about whether they make it in my size.

But I'm coming to realize that just isn't so.  After months of tracking my food, eating POUNDS of cabbage, maintaining my caloric intake at a level where I should be losing at least a pound a week, I'm making no progress.  I'll get to the end of a week where I just KNOW I'll have lost weight only to find I've gained half a pound.  Oh, life's not all salad and water.  After all, what's life without the occasional Oreo, but I'm not sitting down and eating a whole package of them, and I AM counting what I eat!  1600 calories is a big day for me, 1800 is a huge splurge (not to be indulged in more than once a month or so).

To make matters worse, I MOVE.  Oh, I know I lead a mostly sedentary lifestyle.  I sit at a computer for work, and for fun.  I'm sitting at one now after all.  But I also take walks with my two-year-old, who likes to be carried everywhere, especially up our steep driveway.  I chase her around the house.  I take her swimming and to the park.  And I DON'T count exercise as a concession to allow myself to eat more.  Most days I drink nothing but water and coffee (with milk, no sugar, and I count the milk against my calories).  On the rare occasions I have juice I cut it with about 2/3 water.  I don't drink soda, not even diet.  And still I'm stalled.

I remember what I was like when I was eating 800 calories a day, and I really don't want to go there again.  I was a bitch.  I was miserable and irritable, and I said things to people that I really shouldn't have.  My husband was worried about me and I don't want to be that again.  I need to have a healthy relationship with food.  I can't go back to that compulsive relationship with food, especially if I want to teach that healthy eating to my daughter.  I don't want to be that mom that won't share a bite of her daughter's ice cream, that won't relax and enjoy the family funnel cake on the rare occasions one is available.

That's not to say that I can just let it all go and eat everything I want.  I don't want to spend the rest of my life either wired or in a sugar coma.  But I need to find a way to make peace with the idea that I will never be thin.  Not just not thin.  That I will be fat.  For the rest of my life.

This is hard.

Fat is not something I feel, though my knees tell me I am, especially when I'm going up stairs.  Fat.  It's a hard word to accept.  But it's something I need to do.  I need to make peace with fat so that I can move on to other things.

It's so easy to say, "I'm not going to work on other things in my life because right now I'm working on losing weight."  "I'm not going to buy new clothes till I reach size ..." "I'm not going to go to that audition because no one wants to see a fat person on stage."  "I'm not going to work on my bad habits, I'll work on them when I lose 50 lbs."  And yes, dispite the fact that I've lost over 50 lbs already, I do still need to loose another 50 lbs.  But I can't put life on hold until I do.

I need to be healthy.  All of me.  Not just my weight, but my sanity.  I need to work on my personality, to get out and have friends, and to accept that it's quite possible that how I am now, is how I'm going to continue to be.  That's not to say that I'm giving up, certainly I'm going to keep eating plenty of salad.  Eating breakfast.  Avoiding all-you-can-eat anything (even salad bars).  I'm going to keep trying to fix my metabolism, and keeping on the doctors to make sure my medicine is not just adequate, but optimal.  But I need to learn to be accepting of myself to.  If I don't then I hate myself, and that's not a good place to be.  I know, I've been there often enough.

But how do I learn to love who I am, not just despite my flab?  How do I learn to LOVE MY FAT?  I don't have the answer.  I'm asking.