** Total ECLIPSE of my fat (almost!)

Last November, my girls and I went and saw the Premier of Twilight's NEW MOON. Here we are posing with the book right before we left for the movie. We all became big fans of Jacob that night.
And just today - 7 Month Later - we went and saw the premier of Twilight's ECLIPSE. And I have to say that although my girls are Team Jacob girls... I'm kind of a Team Jasper girl!! He reminds me the most of my guy when he was a teen.
I was comparing these pics and I can really see (for myself) a difference from 7 months ago! :)

We were all dressed in black and I was wearing my new "Vamp it Up" T-shirt that I got especially for this movie. It's a short sleeve and hugs me tighter than most shirts do but it fits! It was wonderful seeing this with my girls.. I LOVE that they are teens now!

My daughters have been so positive to me about my losing weight. My 13 year old came up to me at the park just yesterday and said "Mom, I couldn't find you... I didn't recognize you from behind - you're so skinny!" That was So awesome to hear! I am not skinny ~ yet... but I am on my way there and it feels good.

Often I feel very emotional about this journey that my husband and I are on. It is so life changing and SO many good things are happening, not just the losing weight, but changes in our family in the way we are with our children. We are getting closer to the kind of parents I want to be and I feel SO grateful for these good changes... it brings me to tears quite often when I ponder it. I wish I could share this all with my mother - who I know would be more than thrilled, and we would have a long sweet talk, but that will have to wait...

I wonder, how has your journey affected your homelife and the way you handle things?

Thoughts on the Interconnected Web

No pictures today, no food.  I am heartsick.  A blogger friend had her baby girl, Lillian Grace, earlier this week, at just 22 weeks, who took a few breaths before she left this world.  Yet another reminder of just how tenuous this whole pregnancy thing is.

Just three and a half months ago or so, a while after I'd been diagnosed as IF by my ob/gyn, before I was pregnant myself, I'd sent Rebecca a package with tea for nursing mothers, and some Belly Bars, thinking positive thoughts about her pregnancy, maybe pinning my hopes on her new life if I wasn't going to be able to produce my own.   I was happy for her, in a way that I wasn't even able to be happy for my first-time-pregnant colleagues, who were everywhere at the time.  I followed her blog, watching her belly expand.

It was hard to read her news today.  I still have a lump in my throat that I can't quite swallow.

Another (real life) friend, who reads this blog, had a stillborn baby before her two successful pregnancies.  She is an amazing mother and a thoughtful, insightful, compassionate friend, and I thought about her this morning, too, and her own lost child, reading all of the outpouring of love and support for Rebecca, wishing again that I'd been a better friend to her back then, grateful for all of her support through my own losses and now my pregnancy.

Today, this is what I'm thinking: we need to be kind to each other.  We need to be able to talk about (or at least be present to) sad, unimaginable things in the way that we celebrate the joyful ones, to remember the losses as we remember the birthdays, not because we should dwell on what is depressing, but because death is a part of life.  We are such strange, half-invisible creatures sometimes, hiding our shadows.

Though the Bhagavad Gita tells us not to feel sorrow because death is inevitable, part of the great cycle of life, I believe that as much as we can cultivate detachment, we are still human.  And to me, while maybe detachment is a good thing sometimes, part of living is also cultivating that connection to others that will allow us to feel joy and pain together, that makes us realize, perhaps a little bit differently, how we're part of the interconnected web of being that the Gita also describes.

Not Your Mother's Pilaf: Orzo with Kale

Have you ever picked raspberries?  I realize I talk about them a great deal on this blog, but you'd understand if you'd been swimming in them, too.  I promise, it will end soon.  The first harvest is already petering out.

My point, though, is that when you're picking raspberries, you can't just look for them from the top.  That's where you start.  But then you have to gently separate the canes, and finally, when you think you've found all of the ripe ones, you have to squat beneath them and look up.  It's like a whole new world every time.  All you need is a little change of perspective.

In my youth, I associated orzo with rice pilaf.  I had no great love of rice pilaf.  It came from a box, and somehow often had burnt onions in it.  But when I arrived at graduate school at UCLA, where my fellow students introduced me to real creative cooking, I found salads of orzo studded with crisp bright vegetables, orzo with exotic spices ... suddenly I developed new appreciation for the humble little pasta shape.  New perspective.

Though I've been cutting back on things like bread and pasta for a while now (almost never eating it for dinner), and when I do make pasta, it tends to be something in the whole wheat or spelt family, our CSA sent us this recipe, and I figured I'd give it a go.  I made it last night for tonight's dinner (which is something I do pretty regularly, given that I rarely get home before 5:30 and we like to get dinner on the table by 6:00 so the night doesn't drag out too long for Ian), and found myself sitting in front of the mixing bowl, chowing down uncontrollably before I put it away.  It turned out a little like risotto, but lighter; the lemon/garlic sauce was a perfect complement to the kale.  The turmeric doesn't offer too much flavor (a little nutty perhaps), but makes the orzo a beautiful color.  We went light on the nutmeg because Steve doesn't like it.  But who can argue with fresh grated Parmesan?  That, right there, is the reason I could probably never be a vegan.

Orzo with Kale

1 teaspoon ground turmeric

2 cups uncooked orzo pasta
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves garlic, sliced
a little bit of water
1 bunch kale, stems removed and leaves coarsely chopped

1 large lemon, juiced
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, or to taste (the original recipe said 1/4 but I think you can never have enough Parmesan)
salt and black pepper to taste
Bring a large pot of lightly-salted water to a boil; sprinkle the turmeric over the boiling water and stir in the orzo; return to a boil. Cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the pasta has cooked through, but is still firm to the bite, about 11 minutes; drain. Scrape into a mixing bowl and set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook the garlic in the hot oil for a few seconds until it begins to bubble. Stir the kale into the garlic, dump in a little bit of water to prevent the kale from crisping, cover the skillet with a lid, and cook for about 10 minutes (checking occasionally to see how things are moving along). Remove the cover and continue cooking and stirring until the kale is tender, about 5-10 minutes more. Stir the kale mixture into the orzo along with the lemon juice, nutmeg, and Parmesan cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Link to Facebook Group Page


Exhibition Information and Details

Half and Half does exactly what it says on the tin...or, is exactly what it says in the title...

So how does it work?

Ever admired another artists work and would love to use aspects of it in your art? Well, why not go half and half..you could work on a piece together or start and finish half each.

This is the perfect opportunity to work with artists worldwide, be it as a hobby or as a career moving collaboration :)

How can you start?

You can contact members through the Facebook group page and work on pieces together. If you already have someone in mind that's fine too.

What happens then?

These pieces can be submitted in jpg form to robotsandflowers@gmail.com. The brief is open so there are no limitations and you can be as creative as you like.Unique approaches are encouraged and we're on the lookout for new and exciting talent.

The Venue

The venue has just been decided (yay!)....the exhibition will take place at the brilliant Vineyard Bar in Cork City. The Vineyard is a popular bar and music venue situated bang in the city centre. There is lots of space on the walls so get collaborating ;)! We're hoping to get a diverse selection of work and are especially interested in local artists.

Important Details!

The deadline will be August 30th 2010.
We will take NO COMMISSION, instead there is a €20 entrance fee per piece (€10 per artist) which will help to cover costs. Sound good!?

Decision Making

The public will have the chance to have a bit of an input at decision making time as well as our panel of judges. We think that's generally the fairest, although we are an open-minded bunch and won't only choose according to our own tastes in any way, shape or form. A select number will get through to the first round and the public will assist us with the final decision for the pieces chosen

Contact Details

If you have any questions or queries please e-mail me (Lily) at pixeldustfairy@hotmail.com or contact us at robotsandflowers@gmail.com

Happy Collaborating :)!

Bath Time

I gave Nile a bath tonight. She actually seemed to like it. She could sort of sit up better in her baby bath than she has during previous baths. And she kept a stoic face the whole time, rather than making a borderline-uncomfortable face like she has in the past, in which cases I've hurried up to get her in and out asap so she doesn't end up hating bathtime.

I am considering tonight's lengthier on my part and neutrally-tolerated on her part bath a success, because usually I am TERRIFIED of bathing baby Nile.

I have honestly bathed Nile fewer times than I can count on my fingers.

Yes, she is three months (and five days) old.

Neil has given her a few sponge baths; sometimes we give her a quick once-over with the baby wipes before going out, and of course her diaper area is cleaned multiple times a day.

But as far as baths with soap and water in her baby bath, she has not had very many.

I am SO SO SO SO SO SO SOOOooooo afraid of something happening to her. It's irrational, I know. I hold her the whole time, and don't look away or even blink. OK, I blink. But I don't turn my head away. It was worse I guess when she could hardly sit or hold her head up, and I had to hold her and be really careful the whole time.

It just scared me to the point of not wanting to bathe her.

CRAZY, I know!

And one of the FIRST things I told Nanny was not to bathe her, that we would bathe her at night. I hope Nanny can't tell that I have hardly been keeping good on my word! I just DEFINITELY don't want anyone else bathing her. I am so scared and paranoid about something happening; and no, reading this didn't help any. (Don't worry, the little boy made a full recovery, but his story still scares the living daylights out of me.)

So I am glad that it was a good experience for both of us tonight.

Still making her stoic face.

Mom, this is the Winnie the Pooh bear suit you sent her!!!

Smiley girl.

Devolution of A Ballerina Teddy

This is Kitcat with her toy ballerina teddy bear, which she took to church creche with her last Sunday.This is the picture that our lovely creche lady, Sue, drew of Kitcat's ballerina teddy bear. (Kitcat and Teddy coloured it in.)This is the picture Teddy drew of Kitcat's ballerina teddy bear.This is the picture that Kitcat drew of her ballerina teddy bear.Even though it would seem the teddy bear has devolved through the course of these pictures, I am very proud of my girls' drawing efforts.

And because I don't do this enough any more, here are two photos showing just how gorgeous are my girls. Kitcat and Teddy were the only two who were willing to accompany me to church last Sunday. They love to dress up in their skirts/dresses, stockings, pretty shoes and jewelry and have their hair done.This photo is to show their beautiful hair styles. Teddy's hair is like spun gold caught up in a ponytail, and Kitcat wanted a messy bun tied up with a giant gerbera blossom.

Juxtaposed: Ripe Fruit and the Miscarriage Diaries

Today I had a visitor from New York, a photographer named Megan Joplin working on a project called The Miscarriage Diaries (I hope she doesn't mind me linking to it here, since it's already been posted elsewhere on the internet).  She hopes, through the project, to make miscarriage something more public, something we can talk about out loud, by someday having a gallery show, but also to help women to commemorate their losses.  She lost four pregnancies before having her own son, so it is something she understands all too well.  I found out about her project through a link on a website one day, and emailed her to tell her how much I admired her for doing this important work; somehow, we decided that I would participate, and we'd been trying to find a date to get together ever since.  It was amazing to finally meet her, and she was everything I'd suspected her to be: smart, funny, warm, thoughtful, compassionate.  We spent the morning walking to the farmers' market and talking.  I confessed to her that I am pregnant, and she understood immediately how that felt; how it was both happy but not entirely real, how it might not even really be real until I held a live baby in my hands.  I told her about being in the ob/gyn office, and we wondered together why health professionals don't seem to be trained to talk about pregnancy loss.

She took some pictures of me alone and with Ian (a few even with a Polariod camera) by our barn and our garden, and at the farmer's market.  I held my son, a tomato, and a colander of just-picked raspberries.  It was funny, thinking about myself this way, with the barns in the pictures behind me: how I've become part of the landscape of Hunterdon County, and how growing things and appreciating growing things now defines me, and in some ways defines my relationship to pregnancy, almost chronicles my own journey.  She's clearly a talented photographer; the Polariods were really lovely, I felt completely at ease, and I felt like doing this really meant something.  Like I was bearing witness, and asking the world to bear witness with me.

We made her stay for lunch (I couldn't send her back to Manhattan without feeding her, especially since she made a pilgrimage to Butterlane for me), and threw together a salad with roasted beets that we'd gotten in our CSA box this morning (thank you, Megan, for helping us with our little leafy greens problem).  For dessert, of course, there was fresh raspberry pie.

I've now made three raspberry pies, we've eaten countless berries for breakfasts and snacks and desserts, and given away a few pints, and still the bushes are producing.  I'm no longer picking two quarts per night, but there's enough to do something more with than simply eating.  I'm almost out of muffins for my grab-and-go sort-of-queasy breakfasts, so I made some raspberry muffins that I could freeze (unfortunately, the picture doesn't do them justice like my photographs usually do). Though I didn't force muffins on Megan as she made her way out the door (I'd already given her lettuce and a small container of berries), I hope that her project, too, bears fruit in the way that our bushes have this year: that her photographs are on the minds and lips of many people, long after the growing season is over.

Raspberry Muffins

1 c. all-purpose flour
1 c. whole wheat pastry flour
3 tsp. baking powder 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. grated lemon zest
1/2 tsp. nutmeg or mace
2 cups fresh raspberries
1/3 c. agave nectar
3/4 cup milk (minus 2 T. or so to account for the agave)
1/3 cup oil
1 tsp. vanilla
1 egg
Top with sugar (optional; I didn't do this)

Heat oven to 375 F. Grease bottoms only of 12 muffins cups or line with paper baking cups. In medium bowl combine flour, baking powder, salt and lemon peel; mix well. Add raspberries - mix gently with a fork. In a small bowl, combine agave nectar, milk, oil, vanilla and egg; blend well. Add to dry ingredients; stir gently just until dry ingredients are moistened.

Fill greased muffins cups 2/3 full.  Sprinkle with a little bit of extra sugar if you're going to do so.  Bake for 15-17 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool 1 minute; remove from muffin cups. Serve warm.


Turn it up loud!!!

Argentina: 3   Mexico: 1


Out Door Cooking

                                  Campfire cook out!!
Today we did a lot of work outside...Howie was working on the barn ( separate post) and working on building me a PROPER turkey tractor.  While he worked outside and I tidied the house, Howie and Briar got a fire going to burn some lumber scraps. 
Being a hot day..I did not want  to cook inside..so I had an idea!!
I would cook dinner using the scrap lumber fire!
Here is what I did!
I made  three little foil trays lined with parchment.

Then I laid two slices of celery and some sliced onion.

Then on top of the onions and celery I placed two frozen seasoned burgers I had in the freezer...These need not be frozen..mine just were.

I topped these with slices of red and green pepper..more celery and onion and a clove of garlic.  I then  surrounded it with halved baby new potatoes.

I wrapped the whole thing in two layers of tinfoil and placed in the bottom of my cast irons dutch oven..( with a wire rack in the bottom)
I made three of these and put them all in the dutch oven..I placed the lid on and set it as close to the fire as I could get it with being directly IN the fire.

Every once in a while I would  take the pitch fork and turn the pot so that the other side would be next to the heat.  That is an old oven rack you see the pot sitting on...is you don't have a dutch oven..you could do this with just two extra layers of tinfoil.
# hours later..after we have put the tools away and had a swim...

We brought it in the house..and put a foil packet on each plate...

A tasty meal fit for a KING!

Now I had the benefit of having a dutch oven handy..But As I said this can be done with nothing fancier than good old tinfoil!  It's one of those things you should always have in your car..in case of an impromptu Picnic!


WEEK 20 ~ Almost 5 Months of our LIFESTYLE Change!!

Last week I lost 4 pounds... OH YEAH!!! I have reached the 70 pound loss mark today. Oh my gosh, that feels GOOD! I caught up to my guy - I totally want to CELEBRATE!! My man stayed the same but he is LOOKING SO HOT! Even his new suit from just a few posts ago is getting smaller on him.

I really drank tons of water this week and “Aunt Flo” left from her stay so that’s why I think I lost more than previously... and I’ve stayed totally on plan (as always... because I don’t even want to think of going off plan and sabotaging myself!)

I grilled some salmon again with that same yummy recipe since I had some left over marinade and I also made these “Sweet and Sour Crimini Mushrooms” to go with them. I found the recipe here at the La Fuji Mama. If you like mushrooms, you should check it out. I really enjoyed them.

One evening my hubby came home ravenous and so I hurried and scrambled him this L&G:

1 cup egg beaters, green peppers, sprinkles of low-fat cheese with 3 turkey sausages. He loved it and said it was very delicious (I love the simple stuff I can make quick).

I tried a couple Medifast meal recipes that I really liked:

Vanilla Spice Cookies! and Crunch Cookies!

Vanilla Spice Cookies

1 Vanilla Shake mix

1/4 t. Baking Powder

1 T. sugar free caramel syrup in a 1/4 cup measure, then fil the rest of the way w/ water.

1/4 t. Vanilla

1/2 t. Pumpkin Pie Spice

1/2 T. Cinnamon

1 Packet Spenda

Mix all the dry ingredients and we ingredients seperately. Add wet to dry and mix it up. Scoop out 5 cookies onto a Pam sprayed pan and bake at 350 for 15 minutes. Counts as 1 Medifast Meal.

[I quadrupled the recipe using 4 vanilla shakes and the batter wasn't thick enough so I added a scrambled eggs packet and then made 25 cookies for 5 meals; every 5 cookies equaled 1 medifast meal.]

Crunch Cookies (found on the Medifast Facebook Discussion Boards)

1 Crunch Bar (I used Chocolate, but you can use Caramel, PB, Smores or whatever)

2 Brownie Packets

4 T. Water

Soften crunch bar in microwave for 15-20 seconds then mix all the ingredients together very thoroughly. Spray plate with Pam & divide mixture into 3 equal portion cookies. Microwave for 2-2.5 minutes. Let cool. One cookie = One Medifast meal. YUM. This is a great way for me to help my crunch bars last longer & the cookie is really good and filling!

Freedom Challenge!

I have decided to join Deb's Freedom Challenge and it starts on July 5th and goes for 4 weeks. I am still planning out what my goals will be since one of those weeks I will actually be at girls camp with both my daughters... and I'll be bringing up all my food too... I will NOT go off plan, even for girls camp. :) So I will be posting my goals soon. I'm excited! This is my first challenge!!

Dear Santa

Six months from now, you better not bring any more stuffies to this house, you fat bastard.

Chicken Potato Bake

Having been encouraged through Michele's "Meatless Monday" posts at It's a Dog's Life, I am trying to gently ease us all into the idea of reducing the amount of meat in the family's diet. I started this process nearly 12 months ago. It's a long, slow journey.

I thought if I gradually reduce the amount of meat in some meals it will be a step towards going meatless once or twice a week. (Going meatless - that almost sounds indecent.)

Anyway, the first recipe I made up was Chicken Potato Bake. Usually we would have oven-baked chicken with potato bake as a side dish. Our family can eat up to 1 kilo of chicken per meal. They are all meat monsters. So I decided to incorporate the chicken into the potato bake, thus reducing the amount.

Ingredients -
300g chicken thigh fillet cut into thin strips
1 large onion, sliced finely
1 (or 2 or even 3) cloves of garlic, minced.
1.5kg potatoes
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can milk
2 tablespoons flour
Freshly ground black pepper
1 & 1/2 cups grated tasty cheese

Method -
Peel potatoes and cut into very thin slices.
Brown the chicken, onion and garlic in a small amount of olive oil. Set aside.
Spray a large baking pan with oil.
Layer half the potato over the bottom of large baking pan and season with a little black pepper.
Sprinkle half the chicken/onion/garlic mixture over potatoes.
Layer nearly all remaining potato on top of chicken and season with a little black pepper.
Sprinkle remaining chicken/onion/garlic mixture over potatoes.
Finish with one thin layer of potato on the top.
Mix the can of soup, milk and flour together in a large jug.
Pour soup/milk mixture slowly and evenly over potatoes and chicken.
Sprinkle cheese over top.
Bake in a moderately hot oven for about 1 hour, or until the potatoes are tender.
(You can speed up the cooking time by cooking the potatoes in the microwave first - if you do this then you only need to cook in oven long enough to melt the cheese and make the soup mixture bubble.)
Serve with crusty bread and steamed vegetables.

Since making up this recipe I have gradually introduced more "less-meat" meals into our fortnightly menu plan, and even some totally "meat-less" dinners.

The girls and even HB are not too worried about this trend toward 'going vegetarian'. (HB, I am sure, would say something if he felt there was too much 'meatless' happening in our kitchen.)

But Dragon's response is often "Where's the meat?" while digging through the dish with his fork and knife.

Or when he is feeling a bit more tactful he may say, "This is okay, mum, but it would taste heaps better with bacon ... or chicken ... or both!"

However the most common reaction I get from Dragon is much more like this .....
funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

Ride like the Wind...

I woke up sick today. Swollen glands, sneezing, and aches greeted me and I went right back to bed. So basically, I got very little done, except I enjoyed some sweet cuddling with my 10 year old. :)

But when my Man got home, he tuned up our yard-sale bikes and make-shifted a helmet and coaxed me to go try out our bikes together. Mind you, I hadn't even ridden it except down our driveway and that killed my behind!

But we rode it around our neighborhood for a bit and then he suggested we go over to our Coach, LaTrease's house and say hello. So we did! She wasn't home but with all our riding we rode at least a five miles! I can't believe I did that! It felt SO great to feel the wind on such a cool summer night. Made me remember the summer days of my childhood.

I was wearing these size 1x SKIN TIGHT work out pants... really... it was like my own skin just black, I can't believe I wore them out in public! I did wear an oversized shirt to compensate. I could really feel the burn in my abdomen and legs and arms. Seems like an even better work out than at the gym and it was twice as fun. I do think I need a bigger bike seat though, as my tushie is feeling it now!

Not bad for a gal who was sick and got nothin' else done today ~ AND who hasn't even riddin' in years! I think I will be adding this to my list of goals now!! I want to be a mommy cyclist too!

Mosquito Problem

We somehow have a mosquito problem in our apartment.

The past couple nights I have not had an incident, but last week I awoke every night to the

H  O  R  R  I  B  L  E

sound of a mosquito buzzing around my ear!!!!!

ugghhhhh!!! gross

And of course, lovely bites all over my legs when I'm sitting at the computer, and lovely bites all over my back, face and arms while I'm sleeping!!!

The last straw was yesterday, when I came home at lunch and Nile had a bite on her face. And then while I was feeding her in her room, Neil spotted and killed the mosquito on the ceiling above her crib!

You may think, "big deal, mosquitoes ... they ARE annoying though."

But you have to realize --

it's winter here.

Gone Gone Gone I Been Gone So Long

16 days and thousands of miles later, I am back from Ontario. I didn't tell you I was going, because I didn't want one of you to come and burgle my house while I was gone. Maybe take my dog.

I bought the nose stud I was telling you about - and it has been six weeks, so I am finally able to take out the biker-chic BCR and put in the diamond....ta da!

I was startled to see this self-portrait, but my sister (who was on the other end of that headset phone line you see there) tells me that my nose is not that big. So, okay, good. Or maybe she said "Your nose isn't big", which could mean that this is really what my nose looks like and she's just used to looking at it.

Your comments on my roller-coaster post were funny. I have a deep and abiding passion for them, but I absolutely loathe and revile, and cannot stand the thought of, spinny rides. You know the kind of thing - whipping you around in circles while simultaneously turning you upside down/raising you in the air/tilting platforms beneath your helpless body. If I ride anything spinny, I get overwhelming nausea that can take up to 24 hours to subside. That famous Disneyland teacup-thing? sometimes I wake up from nightmares about that. And I haven't even been on it.

This weekend is my 20th high school graduation reunion. What do you know about that! Am I going? You bet. There were only 9 of us in our class, and we're (nearly) all still in touch. It'll be fun, even though it means I am old. "Too soon oldt, too late schmart" as my grandparents' plaque read in quaint germanic letters.

Here I was at my graduation, at the tender age of 16. The aforementioned grandmother stands proudly by my side. (Miss you Gramma.) Note my dress - post-French-Revolution in style, rose-pink in colour (YES momma!) and pouffy in habit. Made by Super-Mom according to my exacting specifications. ("It must look JUST like the cover of 'These Old Shades', only pink!")

It's a little unnerving to see a picture of my young self. I dread the thought of what 20 more years will do to my appearance.

I'll let you know how the reunion goes - too bad I don't still have that dress or I could put it on just for laughs (tears?) and see whether it will zip up.

OK, OK, I Admit It!

... I've been spending some time here:

It keeps me sane in the winter, OK?!

I can't help but get a kick out of "Fry High Performance."

That can't be a good thing ...

Kitcat's Violent Drawing

I thought it was nice that Dragon was being generous with his time and playing with his littlest sister a lot lately.

Note: Dragon is currently quite "in to" X-men, mutants, superheroes and such fantasy-type stuff.

Kitcat: Look at my drawing mummy!
Me: Oh that's nice. Tell me about it. Is that a cat? (pointing to purple creature.)
Kitcat: No it's a bear.
Me: Oh, I see. Why is the bear frowning?
Kitcat: He is very sad.
Me: Why is he sad?
Kitcat: Because he is getting his leg chopped off! (Draws blue line across one leg.)
Me: Oh dear! That's terrible.
Kitcat: And now he's getting his other leg cut off too. (Draws blue line across other leg.)
Me: That's awful! Why is this happening?
Kitcat: Because he is a very mean bear ..... and do you know what else is happening to him?
Me: Stop! I don't want to know!!!
Kitcat: Well ..... (as she starts drawing more)
Me (with hands over ears and eyes shut): La la la la la la. (loudly)

A short time later Kitcat tugged at my arm....

Kitcat: Mummy! Stop singing! Look at the other bad bear. (Pointing to newly-drawn black character). He is the badder one. He shot at the other mean bear. (The black spots are the bullets.)
Me: How did the black bear shoot the purple one? He doesn't have a gun.
Kitcat: He is a mutant (pronounced "moo-tut") black bear and he can shoot bullets out of his claws.

I was almost too afraid to look at her next drawing. But I am pleased to report that she had reverted to "little-girly" subject matter such as flowers and butterflies.

Week 19 Down!

Week 19 is celebrated with a 2 pound loss for me and a 1 pound loss for my man!

School got out last week, and we treated ourselves to a yummy family bbq. But before we could do that, the kids and I had to clear our back yard from from it's jungle theme to presentable.

(Okay, these are not really the before pics but the closest I could find ;)

I normally am NOT a good landscaper, gardener, planter kind of person (anything living given to me usually dies) but we spent several HOURS out there and transformed that back yard and totally surprised my hubby when he got home. I was AMAZED that I could bend over and work for so long!!! In the past, I would not have lasted even 10 minutes! I even went out for another hour after lunch. I could actually enjoy this. There was a whole section of weeds half as tall as me, many overgrown bushes, and TONS of sticker weeds that pierced me through my gloves and towels... I have the pokes and scrapes all over my arms as souvenirs. But I got such a feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment, along with feeling SO SORE two days later. I was thinking of the song by Garth Brooks called "Friends in Low Places" and these new words to the chorus came to mind just today as I groaned from my upper leg and arm pains:

Cause I got aches in new places

Where I didn’t know

I could even move in such a way,

But I’ll be okay,

Now I may groan & moan & walk real stiff

Think I’ll slather on some ‘ol Ben Gay

Oh I got aches,

In new places!

We bbq'd some turkey sausage dogs, cheese hamberger patties (extra lean beef w/ low fat cheese chunks blended in), and Salmon. I used an AWESOME new recipe for the salmon you can find here.
This was really good salmon!!
We also had a watermelon fruit bowl filled with melon balls, cantaloupe balls & strawberries, fresh tossed salad, and homemade ice cream sandwiches made with choc. chip cookies. We were actually prepared for some guests to join us but alas, no one was available.
This week, I also tried a new Medifast meal: Melted Cheese Sandwich!
I mixed one Medifast soup packed (I used broccoli but you can use cream of chicken or tomato as well), with 1/4 t. baking powder, at little less of 1/4 cup egg beaters. After mixing, I poured onto a sprayed plate and microwaved it for 90 seconds.
I sliced it in half and toasted each half in the toaster.. watching it so that it doesn't burn.

Then I spread a wedge of Light Laughing Cow cheese on it and put the two slices together for my melted cheese sandwich! I made it again the next day with Cream of Chicken and Tomato soup and put 1/2 laughing cow cheese and 1/2 fat free cheddar cheese. My man and I loved them! They are a little dry, but yummy - and my hubby used some Walden Farms ketchup on his. (Note - the protein from this meal would need to be deducted from your lean and green.)

I also tried this Fettuccini Alfredo recipe using Shirataki (tofu) noodles.
I made it with chicken for my man and shrimp for myself.
Here is the Recipe:
7 ounces shrimp or 6 ounces cubed chicken
1 cup of Shirataki fettuccine noodles (rinse very well and boil for 3 minutes & rinse again)
2 T. fat free (or low fat) cream cheese
1 clove garlic, minced
1 T. parmesan cheese
1 t. fat free (or low fat) sour cream
Spray skillet w/ cooking spray & add shrimp (or chicken) & cook. Once shrimp turns pink, add garlic, cream cheese, parmesan & sour cream. Once the cream cheese is all melted, add the Shirataki Noodles and toss well. Cook for 5 minutes and serve.
This was good, but needed additional seasoning in my opinion. :)

Sam from Believe in Yourself gave a challenge to set a personal goal to meet by July 21st. I know it might set me up for disappointment but I would really LOVE to get UNDER 200 lbs by then!! (or at least by the end of July). That will be such a milestep for me and I would like to treat myself to something fun when I do reach that goal - maybe a gals night out, spa trip, ... anyone got any cool ideas?

Lastly - it has been a challenging week with opposition really hitting hard, especially with our teens. Could I possibly go in a coma until they grow out of this? My kids are good kids... it's just the contention that creeps in and we're trying to keep our home positive. It puts so much pressure on us as parents when we are tempted to be negative and down ourselves. So it really is a daily relying on the Lord and daily prayer that is sustaining us. And the Lord doesn't take away our trials or change people (drat!)... but He helps us endure longer and see the bigger picture.

Sometimes I really do feel like a wimp... because how I feel inside is so different from what I show on the outside. I feel so much more tender, sensitive, loving, sentimental, and vulnerable that I ever show. I am working on being my true self more... I've just been burned so horribly in the past, but I know that my Savior can heal EVERY heartache and sorrow and THATS how I can do it. Wow, is this ever the journey full of discouraging lows yet sprinkled with the most Amazing highs!

Carmen Shandiego, Pt II

Have I ever mentioned I love roller coasters? Behemoth = best day ever.

Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes

What a great idea this is! Possum found it somewhere on the internet and we decided to try it.

Take your regular cupcake pan and stand one flat-bottomed ice cream cup in each hole. Fill three-quarters with cake batter. (we found a thicker mixture with less liquid, such as brownie or muffin batter, worked better as it didn't make the cones soggy.)Bake as directed in the recipe and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.Top each cone with icing and sprinkles - they look just like an ice cream cone. I've seen photos of these decorated with thick, piped icing which makes them look like a soft serve cone. I personally don't like that much icing on a cupcake so we just made them to look like rounded vanilla ice cream cups. I served these with chocolate crackles for afternoon tea on Ducky's birthday.We did discover that the cones take a lot more batter than a regular cupcake patty case so you will need to double your recipe. I think they are a great idea for school birthday cakes - much easier for the teacher to deal with than having a big cake to cut up, and even less messy than regular cupcakes because there's no rubbish as the children eat the 'case' (cone)!!

(Note: you may have to warn small children that these are NOT ice cream, otherwise they may be confused and/or disappointed.)

Keep them in an airtight container in the fridge if you aren't going to eat them within a day or two. Ours kept for nearly a week but the cones did start to get soggy after a while. Best baked and eaten within 24 hours. Possum likes to make them with Triple Choc Brownie mix and just sift a little icing sugar over the tops when they are cool. Yum!