Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Catch Up: Valentines Day

As my title states, I am once again playing catch up. Time seems to get away from me just doing all the little things I do each day. I want to do so many different things, but usually, what I need to do screams louder than my wants. I suppose this blog falls into the want category!

Let me take you back a couple Saturdays ago to Valentines Day. Yes, Saturday is the ever-joyous cheat day. What a wonderful day for Valentines Day to land. It meant I could cheat without feeling guilty.

Randy had been saying for weeks that he was craving sugar cookies like I make every year at Christmas time. So I decided to make him some for Valentines Day, a first for me. Hopefully, these sweet, scrumptious cookies would make his day. I would cut out hearts, X's and O's. I would frost them and sprinkle them with reds, pinks and purples. I was so excited to get started!

I prepared the dough the day before because it needs to be refrigerated before rolling. Then it was time to hunt for some heart-shaped cookie cutters, something I surprisingly don't have in my cookie cutter collection, because as I said, I'd never made Valentines Day cookies before. This turned out harder than I thought. Apparently, everyone else needed heart-shaped cookie cutters too, because each store I went to was a bust.

I finally found some at Michaels, but not without using my keen digging skills to locate an abandoned package of nested hearts that was hiding under a strewn stack of stars, butterflies and various other cookie cutters. When I presented them at checkout, the employee asked me if there were anymore. "Nope!" I proudly declared. "I dug for that one." She went on to tell me how lucky I was because these heart-shaped cutters were a prized commodity. Who knew they'd be so wanted around Valentines Day? ;)

Anyhow, the cookies turned out great, and in addition to the heart-shaped ones, I put together some letter cutters to spell some important words!

For those who are interested, here is the recipe I used:

(taken from Betty Crockers New Cookbook)


1-1/2 cups powdered sugar

1 cup margarine or butter, softened

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 tspn almond extract

1 large egg

2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cream of tartar

Mix powdered sugar, margarine, vanilla, almond extract and egg in large bowl. Stir in remaining ingredients. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours.

Heat oven to 375. Grease cookie sheet lightly with shortening.

Divide dough in half. Roll each half 1/4 inch thick on lightly floured surface. Cut into desired shapes eith cookie cutters. Place on cookie sheet. (You can sprinkle with some granulated sugar at this point before baking, or wait until baked and frost them yourself!)

Bake 7 to 8 minutes or until edges are light brown. Remove from cookie sheet and cool on wire rack. When cool, frost with Vanilla Buttercream Frosting (recipe below), and decorate with sprinkles.

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting:

3 cups powdered sugar

1/3 cup stick butter, softened

1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla

1 to 2 Tablespoons milk

Mix powdered sugar and butter in medium bowl. Stir in vanilla and milk.

Beat until smooth and spreadable.

I have used this recipe year after year at Christmastime. I would love to experiment with another sugar cookie recipe to try something different. Maybe I'll find a recipe I like even better. If anyone has a recipe they like, I'd love to try it! Post it in the comments if you'd like to share!

By the way, everyone LOVED the cookies! :D

Until I post again,


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Cool Stuff: Poptarts

One of my guilty pleasures on a Saturday is a toaster-warmed ooey, gooey poptart. My favorite is chocolate fudge. I also like Smores, frosted Strawberry, Raspberry and Cherry.

My kids love them too.

During the week, when I can't eat them, it is hard seeing them sitting in my cupboard. Sometimes I'll buy ones I know I don't care for (but my kids like) so I'm not tempted during the week.

Then Saturday comes. It's poptart time.

Those commercials that try to make poptarts look plain and boring in comparison to a toaster strudel? Hogwash. Poptarts are yummy!

I came across the coolest little website a few days ago for poptart enthusiasts! At there is a section for "kids" and a section for "moms." I don't believe you need to be a kid or a mom to enjoy a poptart. So if you love poptarts, and you aren't a mom or a kid, never fear. This site is for you too.

Register at Poptarts' Sprinklings Club for samples, coupons and other giveaways!


Wednesday, February 04, 2009

No Chicken at the Crazy Chicken!

The healthiest fast food option for me, trying to stick to the South Beach diet, is any place that serves salad or chicken. A salad should be ordered with dressing on the side, and perhaps topped with a protein, such as -- you guessed it -- chicken. Chicken eaten on its own should be breast meat, since it is leaner than a thigh or leg.

After a long day at my sister Reesa's, we decided it was time to figure out what to get for dinner. El Pollo Loco sounded like the healthiest fast food option, and Randy, Reesa and I agreed this was the perfect choice.

While Randy continued to work in the yard, Reesa and I drove to our destination: El Pollo Loco. We knew what we were going to order, how much we wanted, and what special kids meals to get for the kids. We were prepared. We decided the drive-thru was the way to go.

El Pollo Loco Attendant: "What can I get for you?"

Us: "We'd like a 12-pc. meal with 2 sides of beans and 1 side of rice. Extra flour tortillas please. We would also like 2 popcorn chicken kids meals."

El Pollo loco Attendant: "I'm sorry. If you want a whole chicken, you will have to wait a half hour because we are out of chicken."

Us (to eachother): [puzzled looks on our faces] [looking around to see what else is available, but stuck in the drive thru] [mutterings and stutterings of "what should we do?" and "they have NO chicken?"] [complete bewilderment because our plan was falling to pieces and we had to make some sort of a]

Reesa to Me: "They have no chicken? " [bewildered and confused]

Me to Reesa: "Are we at El Pollo Loco? Aren't they supposed to have chicken?" [this is more than absurd, but kind of funny]

Our conclusion: "I guess we'll wait." [peals of laughter]

So there we are, two sisters, wanting our crazy chicken, but forced to wait one half of an hour. We pull into a front parking spot closest to the door (so they can see us and know we are the ones waiting for our chicken).
It feels silly. Waiting. For chicken. At a place that serves nothing but chicken.

We see many people go in the drive thru and come out the other end. And leave. We wonder why they aren't made to wait. But then we realize...maybe we are the only dorks waiting. I guess we are the crazy ones. Although in my opinion, they certainly are crazy for not having any chicken!

Until I post again,

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Update: South Beach

It's been a bit over two weeks since I've posted so I am going to play a game called "catch up." It's a game I play quite frequently.

In a nutshell:
  • I am still on South Beach
  • I am still on Phase 2 (fruits and whole grains allowed)
  • I am still using Saturday as my cheat day
  • I have slipped a bit and cheated on non-Saturday days
  • I have weighed myself once since starting this diet so I have nothing to compare it to
  • I measured myself at the end of Phase 1, and have not measured myself since then

A bit more detail:

I am still on South Beach

I am determined to keep this up and see where it takes me. I need to add exercise to the equation, but for now, I have the eating thing down. I enjoy eating healthy because it makes me feel good. Not only that, but fast food has begun to taste horribly salty. I tried Taco Bell for the first time since starting South Beach on Saturday, and both Randy and I felt it was overpowered by sodium. We ate enough to satisfy our hunger, which wasn't very much. We threw the rest in the trash. I used to LOVE Taco Bell. Now, I say tacos and burritos made at home are much better.

I am still on Phase 2 (fruits and whole grains allowed)

Phase 2 is supposed to last until you lose the weight you desire. Once you reach your goal weight, Phase 3 (a maintenance phase), comes into play. I don't know how long it's going to take to reach my goal because I am beginning to see this as a lifestyle versus something I will only do for a temporary time. I like eating healthier. Also, my goal does not involve weight since weight can fluctuate with water and muscle, etc. So for now, I am just eating for health. And of course, to look better in my clothes.

I am still using Saturday as my cheat day

My cheat days are what keep me going. I can't be perfect all the time. And it's not like I stuff my face with candy and cake on Saturdays (okay, maybe I do sometimes!) But I enjoy being able to have a regular flour tortilla instead of a whole wheat one, or a bowl of icecream that I love so much. I don't want to give these things up altogether, but allowing myself just one day a week makes it easier to be good the rest of the time.

I have slipped a bit and cheated on non-Saturday days

Like I said, I'm definitely not perfect. For example, on Sunday the 18th, I blew my diet by eating tortilla chips. Lots of them. Then the following day for dinner, I ate a regular hamburger on a white bun with regular American cheese. Should've not eaten the tortilla chips, especially in the amount I consumed! The hamburger is okay as long as it's lean beef (like only 10% fat) which I'm not sure if it was. And I definitely shouldn't eat the white bun or the American cheese. Cheeses are okay as long as they're 2%. And lighter cheeses are better than yellows and oranges. For instance, swiss cheese beats cheddar. Plus, I ate a whole tray of mint lifesavers. And full sugar candy is a definite no-no.

So I slipped pretty good. I'm pleased though that I didn't allow these setbacks to discourage me from continuing. I just kick my slip-ups behind me, and move on.

I have weighed myself once since starting this diet so I have nothing to compare it to

I don't have a scale at home and I guess that's a good thing. Weight can fluctuate so much that a pound loss or a pound gain doesn't mean much. Especially when you start drinking more water and lifting weights. But I weighed myself at my sister Reesa's this past Saturday, and I was surprised. It was still high. And I know I've lost inches. So either, I was even heavier (egads!), or I just haven't lost any weight. Either way, I still have a long way to go. Weighing myself this once gave me more resolve to keep going and reminded me not to invest in a scale!

I measured myself at the end of Phase 1, and have not measured myself since then

Measurement is the way I am going to monitor my progress, since it's my size I'm more concerned with than how much I weigh. While I did measure myself at the end of Phase 1 (and there was proof that I lost some inches! hooray!) I haven't measured myself again. Yet.

While I have been walking and doing some ab exercises, it hasn't been consistent enough. I am convinced I need to implement an exercise plan around my diet to see more progress. I just haven't quite done that yet! :) So until then, I will hold off my measurements.

It has been one month since I began South Beach. Overall, I am pleased. I feel better and I am learning to enjoy healthier options. Now if I could just enjoy exercise... all would be well.

Until my next post,