Sunday, January 31, 2010

Baking bread

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="280" caption="Look what I got for my birthday"]Kitchen Aid Mixer[/caption]

For my birthday, my husband got me a KitchenAid Mixer. This is something I have wanted for a really, really long time. I didn't register for it because it was so expensive. Instead, I registered for a cheaper mixer that quite wasn't doing the job in the mixing department. When I saw that Costco had the mixer I wanted for $50 off, I begged and begged and swore I would make bread from scratch and never buy a loaf again. Brian said I didn't have to make bread from scratch but I had to use it.

Today, I christened my mixer and boy am I in love!  I've been dying to make and bake homemade bread but I didn't want to knead the dough for 10 minutes. ICK! I must say that I was truly inspired by former Bendite, Anna Sowa, who wrote a whole blog post about baking bread and how cheap and easy it was with her new KitchenAid Mixer.

I started off my bread baking with the white sandwich bread recipe

[caption id="" align="alignright" width="300" caption="My first loaves rising"]My first loaves rising[/caption]

that comes with the mixer which was pretty straight forward. Do I really have to put sugar in it? I almost didn't add the sugar but I did, along with the little bit of salt. I mixed it up with the dough hook and let it rise for an hour. I kept checking and it kept growing and growing and growing. Then the directions said to divide, roll out and shape into loaves for the pans then cover for another hour while they rise some more. I checked a few times and it was growing and growing in size.  I squealed with delight. Woo hoo. I baked it in the oven for 30 mins on 400 degrees and PRESTO ... we had classic white bread!

So what did I make with it? I made my husband a grilled cheese sandwich and then my son a pb&j (which he didn't eat). I took a taste of both and was in HEAVEN!

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="I made bread!"]I made bread![/caption]

I can't wait to see what other adventures my new mixer brings me!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Fear. Nausea. Glory.

Last spring, I participated in IgniteBend. I was scared, excited and thought I was downright nuts for signing up and presenting about my hopes of being a natural mother and completely failing. My goal was to be funny and make people laugh. I worked really really hard on my presentation and over practiced it. My husband was part of the first IgniteBend and performed a song about getting laid-off. The ironic part was he was laid off for real two days before.

You're probably asking yourself ... what is IgniteBend? Here's a description I grabbed from their website ....
If you had five minutes on stage what would you say? What if you only got 20 slides and they rotated automatically after 15 seconds? Launch a web site? Teach a hack? Talk about recent learnings, successes, failures? Around the world communities have been putting together Ignite events to show their answers.

The performance was a hit (or maybe I'm having another delusional moment?). Friends, people that I work with, complete strangers told me their stories and I didn't feel so much like a failure anymore about nixing the whole natural momma thingy. I felt as my friend Kate would describe fear, nausea and glory all rolled into one.

A couple months ago, my friend Georell told me that AdFed was going to do a mini IgniteBend and that I had to submit something. I racked my brain ... what was I passionate about and could be funny about at the same time. My topic ended up being "Vacationing in Nebraska."  So many people have no idea where the state is located so I worked away, got the slides done and then meant to practice on Wednesday.  On Wednesday, I got a bit of sad new that an old co-worker had passed away. With that occupying my mind, I completely forgot about working on my presentation. It wasn't until 10 a.m. (two hours before the presentation) that I started working on it. Let's just say, I felt that I crashed and burned when I went to present. Since I submitted this for IgniteBend 4, I really need to change a few things and practice, practice, practice.

So here is my promise -- for all of you who saw that presentation, the next one will be even better. I promise because I totally left all the funny stuff out of it and need to wittle it down.

If you have a burning idea or am passionate about something and can present it in 5 mins, go here and submit. You'll thank for the feeling of fear, nausea and glory.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The last thing you ever want

Recently, a friend was intrigued by all this talk of a certain band and she asked "can you make me a CD of their songs?" Since this is my blog and I can talk about whatever, whomever I want I thought this would be a great time to try to figure out what songs I might pick out for someone. It was pretty nerve racking -- picking these 20 songs and I ended up wussing out and just burning Kicking Television because I can't pick 20 songs by Wilco.  The list I started had 50+ songs on it and I tried to pick something out from every album. It's hard. I tried to do this with u2 and Radiohead a few years ago and I was just as stressed out. Kicking Television was just a good place to start and then I began to think "CRAP, I left out stuff from Sky Blue Sky AND Wilco (the album). The things that stress me out in my life! AHHHHHHH.

I presented her with the CD. I think I was more excited about giving it to her than she was excited about it. Then I waited and agonized over if she liked it and then I asked and she responded she was digging it. I told her she didn't have to lie. The demo on Wilco fans is 25% women .. 75% men.  If you're a fan of top 40 radio or Nickelback, you won't like it. My brother, whom was a big influencer in my musical tastes, loves Nickelback. He quite doesn't get Wilco. My husband said it best .. you have to look past the pretty faces and enjoy the layers.  Anyways, she said she wasn't lying. She liked it. (I think).

OK, so back to this dilemma.  This is the playlist I gave my friend:

[caption id="attachment_666" align="aligncenter" width="526" caption="Wilco Kicking Television Playlist"][/caption]

I was a little nervous about starting out with "Misunderstood." Back in 1997, this was my favorite Wilco song. I was so in love with Being There - Disc 1 that when my brother would get in the car (the Black Saturn and the Silver Saturn) he'd be like, "Really, you're still listen to this?" It's a good disc. I used to listen to it when I couldn't sleep. BUT the song is not for the new to Wilco crowd (esp the screaming at the end, which really I can't stand when it's sang live -- there I said something bad about Wilco -- please Jeff Tweedy, stop screaming). The rest of the disc is pretty safe though Spiders (Kidsmoke) is another song that is risky for a Wilco newbie.

Then I got to thinking, why don't I group the songs by decade ... Here is my 90s list:

[caption id="attachment_667" align="aligncenter" width="468" caption="Wilco 90s Playlist"][/caption]

Who knew I was such a fan of Summerteeth? Oh yea, that CD seems to be in rotation in my Honda. I must say I prefer "Kingpin"  live vs. the album. Of that list, "Casino Queen" was most played on my iPod which surprises me as I really don't listen to A.M. that often.

Onto the 00s

[caption id="attachment_668" align="aligncenter" width="522" caption="Wilco 00s Mix"][/caption]

So I recently discovered that I like A Ghost is Born over Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. You see, I have never actually owned these albums until about a month ago (I hear gasping). I did a horrible thing ... I got YHF off the internet and then my computer crashed and I borrowed it from someone. With Ghost, I checked it out from the library but the first song was messed up so I didn't hear the whole version until I saw it live and got Kicking Television. The most played song is "War on War" which starts off all my runs, followed by Spiders (Kidsmoke) and I'm the Man Who Loves You.

One thing I did discover, I'm not a fan of Sky Blue Sky. I'm having this dilemma with the new Flaming Lip's album right now along with U2's latest effort. Someone said that it all had to do with Nels Cline joining the band but I actually like Nels Cline and think he's a pretty amazing guitar player. I guess I'm only human by saying there is something about Wilco I don't like. I do like it more than A.M. which is just Wilco playing a bunch of songs meant to be played by Uncle Tupelo.

After I see Wilco in Portland, I will take a break and dig out my U2 cds in preparation for June.  I told my husband that if Wilco does tour this summer that The Flaming Lips will trump them when it comes to traveling UNLESS they play Bend or Edgefield (cause that place is a blast). We already know Wilco won't be playing the Sasquatch Festival since they will be in Spain that weekend and if the Flaming Lips play Sasquatch, well, Lil B might be going to his first concert. How cool would that be; Flaming Lips as your first concert???? I guess we'll all find out Feb. 16 when the line-up is announced.

If Wilco does play Bend, I am going to try my darnest to fulfill my latest aspiration ... being picked to play Spiders (Kidsmoke) which means I will have to get early and front/center to the stage and kick all the little kids around me away because I'm gonna be that chick picked to play it. (I know, I'm delusional)

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="Some kid playing Spiders (Kidsmoke)"]Some kid playing Spiders (Kidsmoke)[/caption]

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Week 4 - The sodium chronicles

At my week three weigh-in of the Biggest Loser at work, I came in two pounds under the last time I weighed in. I can not weigh-in daily because it's frustrating to see the scale NOT move. In talking with my doctor, you should lose more than one pound a week so I was happy with those results.

A few weeks ago, I started having ankle pain in the ankle that I twisted over the summer. Turns out, I tore the muscle and the scar tissue is causing the pain after I run. I was ordered to three weeks of physical therapy and to back off on the running. FABULOUS. PT isn't so bad though I get to lay down for 30 mins while my ankle gets massaged, then scrapped and then fun exercises. YAY! I usually feel pretty relaxed after but after running lately, my ankle hasn't been in pain at all. I just have to remember to do stretches and just take it easy when I run. I was hoping to add .5 mile this week but I decided not to push it. Maybe next week?

The physical therapist also recommended I don't spend all my energy running and add something to the mix. I've been intrigued by the water running class and gave it a shot. It's harder than it looks but at the same time was pretty low-impact on my ankle. The instructor and swim mates were welcoming and the next day I was so sore. Maybe I can run down the Deschutes River during the triathlon?

I'm beginning to doubt my triathlon abilities. I know it's in July but I'm getting pretty scared -- mostly of the swimming part. Good thing time is on my side!

As for food, I've been doing pretty well and the weekends are really really hard though but I allow for some fudging but in moderation.

We'll see!

The spoon milestone

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The hand still gives me the creeps

I divorced Hamburger Helper in 1997. As a poor college student who lived on her own, I ate a lot of hamburger helper, ramen noodles and often crashed my grandmother’s house for dinner (she lived down the street from me). One evening, I ate some Hamburger Helper while studying and then got violently ill. I threw up all night and missed work and school the next day. Horribly dehydrated, my aunt took me to the doctor (this was about a year after my mother died) where it was discovered I had E Coli poisoning. Though I’m pretty sure it was the meat that I got sick from, I swore off Hamburger Helper in any way, shape or form.

Fast forward to being married 10 years later – my husband brings home a box of Hamburger Helper. I can’t even be in the room with it I’m so scared from that stuff. My husband is sad. His days of Hamburger Helper are over. I’m a good cook so he’s pretty much ok with not having Hamburger Helper but I think he secretly longs for it.
Since we’re eating better in our house, I found this recipe on for "Healthified" Mexican Pasta Skillet which I knew my husband would love and devour. At first he was a little skeptical and made sure I was not making it with ground turkey (I have snuck ground turkey in many meals and he hasn’t noticed the difference but if he sees it, he won’t eat the leftovers the next day). This dish cooks up pretty quick and I questioned not pre-boiling the noodles but it all worked out. Anyway, he loved it and even devoured the leftovers (which he never does). He also told me to put it in my regular rotation of meals to make.  Yay for being a good wife and finding a healthy alternative to Hamburger Helper I can actually stand to look at and eat without having flashbacks of that bathroom with the god awful pink toliet!

Here is the recipe! Now if I could only get my toddler to eat it!

[caption id="attachment_648" align="alignleft" width="275" caption="Mexican Pasta Skillet"][/caption]

"Healthified" Mexican Pasta Skillet

prep time:30 min

start to finish:30 min

makes:6 servings (about 1 1/3 cups each)

1lb extra-lean (at least 93%) ground beef
1jar (16 oz) Muir Glen® organic mild salsa
1cup Muir Glen® organic tomato sauce (from 15-oz can)
1   1/2cups water
2cups uncooked regular or multigrain elbow macaroni
1cup Green Giant® Niblets® frozen corn
1/2cup shredded reduced-fat sharp Cheddar cheese (2 oz)

1.In 12-inch skillet, cook beef over medium-high heat 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thoroughly cooked; drain.
2.Stir in salsa, tomato sauce and water. Heat to boiling. Stir in macaroni and corn. Reduce heat; cover and simmer 12 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until macaroni is tender.
3.Sprinkle with cheese. Cover; let stand 1 to 2 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Soccer in the hallway

Week 1 - The sodium chronicles

As you remember, I'm divorcing sodium to lower my blood pressure and lose some weight. This is something I can not fail at because if I do, I'll have to be chained to blood pressure meds and I really don't like spending my time in line at the Fred Meyer Pharmacy. Week one of logging my calories/sodium intake went well on My first day back at work after our vacation started with a weigh-in for our company's Biggest Loser challenge. I was happy that I was at least down 10 lbs from last year.

For the most part, I stayed on course with keeping my sodium in-take in control. One day I went over because I didn't realized that the low sodium burrito I was eating was actually two servings. Seriously, who splits a burrito? (OK, I have been known to split a mondo sized breakfast burrito but this burrito was not small). I did have pizza this week as well. I didn't eat half a pizza, just two slices. That's an improvement, for me.

The biggest hurdle has been getting my husband to realize that we have to plan meals out and can't just wing it. I'm getting a lot of  "I don't want that" and I have to gently remind that well, I need to watch my sodium in-take in order to keep the blood pressure down. He then becomes supportive.

Today is my cheat day. I try hard NOT to go completely overboard. I started the day with a vanilla mocha from Thump and then some awesome cinnamon rolls that my friend Jen made. That was followed up by a mimosa. Did I mention that after that I went to Costco and indulged in a hot dog?  The rest of the day will be relatively low on the sodium spectrum.

The other hurdle ... finding gourmet low sodium recipes.  I love Everyday Food Magazine BUT they don't put the sodium content on their nutrition contents so I have to enter all the ingredients into a calculator and divide it by the servings to figure it out. I did send them an email and got back a lame response. So far, and and the South Beach Diet cookbook have become places for safe recipes. If you have any suggestions for places to find gourmet recipes that are low in sodium, I would love to know.

As for exercising, I think I need to visit a physical therapist. In July, while running the river trail, I twisted my ankle. I spent a month not running and walked instead.  Since I'm back to running, I've developed some ankle pain. I am hoping that my new shoes will correct the problem but if it doesn't I hope I'm not sidelined again. I want to do a triathlon so I need to figure out what to do to keep running. I have developed this love of running and I don't want to abandon it.  This week I've run/walked 11 miles. I need to change it up and I'm interested in trying water running and I do have to start spinning which I'm dreading.

Well, onto week 2.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Uh oh

[caption id="" align="alignright" width="180" caption="Lil B"]B and Lil B[/caption]

What happened to the kid that ate everything? One day, he loves Pasta Pick Ups. Then the next week, he won't eat a single one! It was the only way this kid would even touch a vegetable. He loves the Morningstar Farms Veggie Bites but now no one in Bend sells them. I've been to every stinkin' grocery store and have walked out empty handed. The kid who loved carrots now hates them. It's so frustrating. Please tell me this is normal for a 19 month old?!?!?!?!

He does great at breakfast. He'll eat just about everything BUT eggs. He also is telling us he's hungry by grabbing his bib from the high chair and bringing it to you. (Look away Dr. Middleton - he does this with his bottle for milk too) Right now, he's into cheese quesadillas or chicken nuggets. I know if I make one, he'll eat it no problem but I am praying he doesn't wake up one day and not want to eat one. When I make dinner for the family, he usually won't eat it. I do put it on his plate but he won't try it or gives it to the dog (who is now getting fatter each day). Sometimes I'll try to feed it to him but he usually spits it out.  The cutest thing he does lately is eat yogurt with a spoon from the cup. I need to get it on video it's so cute.

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="225" caption="Easy Spaghetti and Meatballs!"][/caption]

A stand-by in our house is this lovely recipe from Everyday Food. He used to go completely nuts over spaghetti and meatballs. Not anymore. I'm sure this will all change because I'm not going to be a short order cook!

Easy Spaghetti and Meatballs

Serves 4

  • Coarse salt and ground pepper

  • 1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan, plus more for serving

  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

  • 2 garlic cloves, minced

  • 1 large egg

  • 1 pound ground beef chuck

  • 1/4 cup plain dried breadcrumbs

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

  • 1 can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes in puree

  • 3/4 pound spaghetti


  1. Set a large pot of salted water to boil. In a bowl, combine Parmesan, parsley, garlic, egg, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Add beef and breadcrumbs; mix gently. Form into 16 balls.

  2. In a 5-quart Dutch oven or heavy pot, heat oil over medium. Add meatballs, and cook, turning occasionally, until browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Add tomatoes; bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer; cover partially, and cook, stirring occasionally, until meatballs are cooked through, 10 to 12 minutes.

  3. Meanwhile, cook pasta until al dente. Drain, and return to pot; add meatballs and sauce, and toss gently. Serve with Parmesan.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Christmas seems so long ago

Where did the time go? It seems like Christmas was ages ago but it was really only two weeks ago.  As you may recall, Lil B woke up with croup the day before Christmas Eve.  He laid around for two days and wasn't too interested in opening his presents so his dad helped him. I was afraid that maybe he just wasn't into it but it turns out that he just wasn't feeling well and we should have waited for Christmas. Brian got up with him on Christmas morning and OPENED THE REST OF THE PRESENTS WITHOUT ME. Yes, I have a mean husband.  I guess he ripped through all of them and loved playing with his tent that santa brought him.

After breakfast, I took a shower and when I came out, Brian informed me that Lil B was taking a nap which was shocking since he doesn't take naps until the afternoon but apparently he played to much with all of his new toys and fell asleep in his lunch. Evidence is below.

The rest of the day, we spent packing for our Arizona trip to see my in-laws. I was relieved that  Lil B was feeling better because I really didn't want to take a sick kid on an airplane

You might remember that I have commented on Lil B being a good traveling. Well, I jinxed that one. The kid screamed the whole flight to Mesa and wouldn't take a nap. His crying set all the other babies on the plane crying. I feel sorry for the lady sharing the row with us.

The Arizona trip was fabulous. My in-laws are amazing and I wish we/they lived closer. We played wii ALOT, ate ALOT and relaxed. It's also nice that we have a direct flight from Redmond. Most of the time, the airfare is pretty affordable. On the way home, the flight wasn't full so they let Lil B has his own seat which made a difference.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Nothing about Jeff Tweedy is sexy

[caption id="attachment_600" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Nothing about Jeff Tweedy is sexy"]Jeff Tweedy[/caption]

Photos courtesy of grtaylor2

I have tried to sit down and write this post a number of times, only to scrap it all and start over. I’m not a music critic and well, I’m intimidated by what I’m reading out there. I’m just a fan. A fan that FLEW over 1300 miles to see one of the (my self-proclamation) most underrated American songwriters perform a solo show without his five other bandmates. Nothing about Jeff Tweedy is sexy until he opens his mouth and sings a few songs -- acoustically. You forget he is short, needs to shave, swears a lot (apparently not when his children are attending a concert though), doesn’t know what to do with his hair and isn’t a sharp dresser. Jeff Tweedy captures your attention for what is really 90 mins. only to make you think it was for 5 mins. He sucks you in and gets into your soul.

A Wilco show and a Jeff Tweedy show are not the same. You can’t compare them. Sure, it’s the same singer/songwriter but Wilco is six energetic men playing their hearts out together onstage and putting on a good show. They don’t need fancy video screens, an elaborate stage – just a lot of guitar changes and a few songs about heartbreak, love and happiness. You stand up, you sing along, you dance a little. As my friend Ethan said “Rock n roll is alive and well with the keepers Wilco.”

At a Jeff Tweedy show you sit down. On the stage appear six acoustic guitars and a microphone. He enters the stage, picks a guitar with a spotlight shining down on just him and he sings as if he’s just singing to you, not 2,000 people. You expect a few things … a lot of witty chatter about what the song is about or a funny experience he’s had recently, a missed lyric or wrong chord and talking back to the crowd as they yell out requests. Our show contained all and even more of those standard standbys.

As with any Wilco show, you can request your favorite song via what Tweedy refers to as “the bureaucracy of Wilco” – their website. I requested “In a Future Age.” For some reason the lyrics “fenced in yards and barking dogs” reminds me of my son and always gives me a tear in my eye. Tweedy didn’t disappoint (I’m 5-0 on requests now) and played my song – and yes, there was a tear. I wonder if he read my reason why and said “I’ll make her day!” Probably not. But I can think that in my head.

[caption id="attachment_602" align="alignleft" width="500" caption="Playing the harmonica during "Sunken Treasure""]Jeff Tweedy[/caption]

The show was full of stories. Tweedy was playing the show because his oldest sister lives in Phoenix. He dedicated “Please Tell My Brother” to his sister (a verse of the song is about her). He thought it would be a good idea to play the show to fund his trip until he saw her guest list which he said had to be half of the venue and basically put him in the hole. During “Ruling Class” he joked that the song wasn’t blasphemous, that he’d played it at many Christian colleges only to be told “don’t come back.” He dedicated two songs to his wife who was in the front row with their sons. One concert-goer yelled out something that sounded like “funky” but was the f-word. Tweedy responded “I don’t think I’m funky? Oh you didn’t mean funky? Thanks for dropping the f-bomb in front of my kids.” The biggest surprise was he played a song I would never thought he would play without Wilco – Spiders (Kidsmoke). During the last verse, he forgot the words and swayed around and then asked the audience to help him out. Two fans proudly yelled back the lyrics and he went on like nothing had happened.

During the encore, he unplugged his amp and went to the edge of the stage and sang his heart out without a mic. “This is what it’s going to be like without power someday.”
Yes, this show can not be compared to a Wilco show. You sit down the whole time. You take it in. And you walk out still believing rock and rock is still alive. And this time, the keeper is Jeff Tweedy.

Here is one of my favorite moments of the night – “Hummingbird!”

And you can’t have a show without a “Jesus Etc.” singalong

35 days until Wilco!!!!

Friday, January 1, 2010

New year. New goals.

It's a new year. I think I've gained 10 lbs in the past week with all the out of control eating. I ate my final linzer cookie until next Christmas season. I've had an alcoholic beverage everyday since Christmas and I have not exercised. My husband and I were talking about goals last night for 2010. He is working on his freelance business since jobs are scarce at the moment. I NEED to cut down the salt to 2300 mg. Everyone keeps telling me, use Mrs. Dash. The salt shaker is not my problem -- I just need to eat less processed foods and more fruits, veggies, dairy and lean proteins.  Along with cutting down on the sodium, I am also going to train for a triathlon in an attempt to do one in July. If I can run 3 miles, I am pretty sure by July I can do a triathlon. I'm calling it the tryathlon challenge. GULP. Wish me luck.

As a family, we need to be better about a few things with Lil B. Brushing teeth, reading, getting him with some play friends.  The other thing is we need to start going to church. We keep talking about it but we're not doing it. We'll be exploring that avenue in the next couple of months.

So, in a nutshell, that's some of the goals for 2010. I'll check back and let you know how they're going.