Category Archives: Uncategorized

Flourish & Blotts

So I haven’t had recipes or any such thing to really blog about lately and have been busy studying (Web Development) and reading. This will be short but sweet!

If you love to read, especially fantasy, then you will want to get a copy of Patrick Rothfuss’ Kingkiller Chronicle. The first book, The Name Of The Wind, is an amazing journey of Kvothe, a young boy who started out in a troupe. Similarities and contrasts can be drawn throughout the book to him and Harry Potter, but the majority of the story (aka Day 1) is of Kvothe as a 15 year old at “University”. It has the elements of humor, sarcasm, rivalry much like Harry and Malfoy in the Harry Potter series, action & adventure, magic, music, and so much more! It is a 722 page book, but it is very difficult to put this one down! I started reading it about 2 weeks ago, the day before I got sick with the flu. When you are sick, you care nothing about anything except sleeping. That being said, this is a wonderful story!

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I am working on HTML & CSS both online and the book HTML & CSS: Design and Build Websites in the first part of the day so I can HOPEFULLY get good enough to work from home designing and developing webpages for individuals and/or companies (mom & pop mostly) and now I’m going to read The House of Hades online since a) book 3, The Mark of Athena, left you hanging and b) it’s one that is available to read at Read Any Book! I was hoping to read Sheriff David Clarke’s book, Cop Under Fire: Moving Beyond Hashtags of Race, Crime and Politics for a Better America, but since it was a Valentine’s present from my mom to my dad, I have to wait my turn!

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Looking forward to reading next!

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Reading now!

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: if you love mythology, Rick Riordan is a master storyteller and you get a really good in-depth education on Greek (and some Roman) mythology while enjoying an outstanding series of novels!

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Sunny Days & Golden Rays

“It was a beautiful day and the sun beat down,
I had the radio on, I was flying.
The trees went past, me and Dale was singing
Little Runaway; I was flyin’.

Yeah, runnin’ down a dream
Whatever would come to me
Workin’ on a mystery
Goin’ wherever it leads
Yeah, runnin’ down a dream!”

Running Down A Dream – Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers

It WAS gorgeous today. Felt like spring. Aaaand I promised last night I would start sharing information and secrets to my weight loss and health. Confession: I don’t eat breakfast! *GASP* I’ve never been a big breakfast person. Don’t get me wrong; I LOVE some breakfast foods, just not in the morning. I get up and drink a cup of organic or fair trade or rain forest alliance coffee with pastured cream, coconut sugar and coconut oil. It’s good and it holds me over till about 11’ish.  I tend to eat lunch between 11 and 11:30. Whatever I do, you know I always have to have music playing. Today, it’s definitely a classic rock day. Tomorrow it may be Indie Folk, or Adult Contemporary or Instrumental Rock or Jazz or any number of genres! Oh, you didn’t come on here to read that, huh? Okay.

I wish I had gotten pictures, but unfortunately I didn’t. But I made a homemade simple Traditional Hummus, sans tahini. Turned out fabulous, too!  It is a slightly tweaked recipe by Kelly over at LifeMadeSweeter. I (as well as other family members) can’t use paprika not to mention I have to be careful with any and all things from the “nightshade” family. Like red pepper flakes. A pinch doesn’t USUALLY cause problems, but here lately, more food and medications are giving me problems, so I am just avoiding those things. Also, I don’t have a food processor so I had to bag the handful of ingredients needed and march over to my sister’s house (behind ours) and use hers. No problem. That is, until the food processor decided to fight me and not want to work. It finally gave in! Woohoo!

Ingredients

2 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed

2 large garlic cloves

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1/4 teaspoon paprika (OPTIONAL)

1/4 cup water, plus more as needed to thin out hummus to desired consistency

salt to taste

black pepper to taste

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

chili flakes for garnish (OPTIONAL)

Instructions

  1. Place chickpeas in a blender or food processor with garlic, lemon juice, cumin, paprika and water. Blend or puree until very smooth, adding more water as needed to thin out to desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper and add 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil to help achieve a super creamy texture.
  2. Serve on pitas, crackers, veggies, or sandwiches. Adjust seasonings as you like and sprinkle with red chili flakes if desired.

Notes

*Can store in an airtight glass container in the fridge for up to 5 days or freezer for up to 3 months.

I normally buy Boar’s Head non-GMO Traditional Hummus in the Publix deli department which has very few ingredients, but the price is ridiculously high. Plus, it is soy free and nut free. But paying $4.99 for a small container that lasts a week compared to 2 cans of organic chickpeas (Garbanzo beans) at less than $2 each while I already have the other ingredients and now I have double the amount that the store bought containers come in. And it is DELICIOUS.

It’s great at lunch! My typical lunch? It varies, but one of my favorite lunches is Crown Prince Sardines in Olive Oil, traditional hummus with The Better Chip chips (right now I’m on a kick with the Beet chips; although I’m a huge fan of their Spinach & Kale and the Radish Chia is great, too!), a cup of fresh brewed Cinnamon Ginger tea (I make that in the mornings around 8:30 and let it sit covered till lunch when it is at room temperature), and a square of dark chocolate (85% cacao) with about a teaspoon of Polaner’s non-GMO Seedless Raspberry Spread. I love berries with dark chocolate, but raspberry is by far my favorite. One day, I’m going to make my own fruit preserves. On the days I don’t eat sardines, I have either Wild Planet tuna (Albacore Wild Tuna in EVOO, or rather, Extra Virgin Olive Oil) or Ocean Naturals Albacore Solid White Tuna in Italian Olive Oil. BOTH are delicious! And when I can afford it, I drink GT’s Synergy Kombucha, usually Raspberry Chia (my favorite). They have a few I really like, but the Raspberry Chia? Mmmm, can’t be beat!

My dinners? Depends on what the rest of the family is having. I tend to buy my own chicken (non-GMO, cage free, organic) and Sockeye Salmon which Wednesdays are my fish, kale and quinoa day since they eat at the church (and I can’t…every time I have, I’ve gotten sick because of food additives…ugh). I eat sweet potatoes pretty regular also. And I make my own sauerkraut which I will share that process with y’all tomorrow since I’ll be making some to which I eat with all meat except fish. Well, except I don’t eat pork. I can’t eat pork. I LIKE pork meats, but they don’t like me (yeah, part of my ever growing list of foods that I can no longer eat without getting sick or suffering) just like beef is starting to do the same. I eat them in very small amounts with a good portion of sauerkraut. I don’t eat bread or pasta and rarely eat rice and quinoa is once, maybe twice a week, and I occasionally whip up a batch of gluten free biscuits so I can have one when I get the craving (not often, but I am southern, ya know!). About half an hour before dinner, I get 2 tablespoons of Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar in 4 ounces of water with a little stevia and drink it, chasing it with some filtered water. THAT, my friends, is not easy for me, but with my thyroid condition, I’ve noticed a lot of benefits in drinking it!

The only other thing I do is I tend to eat a spoon of Smucker’s organic peanut butter and a cup of fresh raw milk (I can’t consume pasteurized dairy…talk about several gastrointestinal discomfort!) at night when I take my medicine. Usually have a second square of dark chocolate too. So that pretty much sums up my eating habits. Tomorrow, homemade sauerkraut!

Christmas Time & Ginger Lemon Bars

Christmas tends to be my favorite time of the year. Even with depressing events and not having all my family together, the music, the lights, the smells of delicious food baking… Mmmmm! Just missing cold weather. But this is Florida, so we can’t always expect cold weather for Christmas!

We can usually expect friends and/or family, though. And this mama doesn’t like drama, particularly this time of year, so instead of wishing for things that may or may not could happen, I will focus on positives: I got some goals accomplished this year that had been part of my New Year’s resolutions! I learned to be proficient at knitting and getting better every time I knit something. I am still far FAR from being a pro, but I’m pretty happy with the latest results! I would post a picture, but until after Christmas, that will have to wait as said projects are part of our gift exchange and there is NO PEEKING! Also, homesteading has been a desire and goal of mine for some time. When you can’t sit or stand for long periods of time because of serious back problems, you do what you can as you can. So I’ve learned how to make my own sauerkraut (will post that in a later post when I make a new batch), caramelized ginger & simple ginger syrup (along with sparkling Voss water makes an amazing homemade Ginger Ale without the additives like high fructose corn syrup, aka “HFCS”), and the latest Pinterest recipe, Ginger Lemon Bars. O. M. G. New favorite!

For those who love lemon and who like ginger, this is amazing. Lemon and ginger work so well together as it is (have you tried a hot ginger tea with lemon and honey?) that if you haven’t tried ginger, lemon & honey tea, you MUST. It’s great when you’re sick. Seriously. But these babies here? I promise, you’ll be making these again. Wish I could claim they were my own recipe, but credit goes to Sarah over at Broma Bakery. The only things I changed were omitting salt since I used salted butter and I am gluten free so there’s that.

Ginger Lemon Bars

Ingredients:
for Cream Cheese Shortbread:
-5 oz. cream cheese
-1/2 C. butter
-2/3 C. sugar
-1/2 tsp. sea salt
-1 tsp. vanilla
-1 1/3 C. flour

 for the Ginger Lemon Curd:
-4 eggs
-1 1/4 C. sugar
-1/2 C. lemon juice
-1 Tblsp. lemon zest
-1 Tblsp. fresh ginger (grated)
-1/2 tsp. sea salt
-2 tsp. vanilla
-1/2 C. Flour

Instructions:

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1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray and line an 8″x 8″ baking dish/pan with parchment paper and lightly spray again. Set aside.

2. Using a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, cream the butter, cream cheese, sugar, salt (if using unsalted butter), and vanilla until light & fluffy (approximately 2 minutes). Turn mixer to low speed and incorporate flour.

3. Press dough firmly onto bottom of baking dish, spreading evenly to edges. Bake 12-15 minutes.

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4. While the shortbread is cooking….. In large bowl, whisk together all ingredients for the Ginger Lemon Curd (except for the flour). Once mixed, whisk in flour, whisking away lumps.

5. Pour Ginger Lemon Curd on top of the Cream Cheese Shortbread and bake an additional 20-30 minutes to set (length of time will depend on your oven and also the dish or pan used; I have a conventional oven and a glass dish which takes longer).

6. Cool to room temperature (or slightly warmer) on wire racks then cool in refrigerator until set and chilled an additional 2+ hours.

7. Cut into bars. You can sprinkle with as little or as much powdered sugar if desired. If you prefer more tangy, you can omit the sugar (like me, HA!).

These are absolutely divine! Now that my baking is done and my knitting projects are finished, I can focus on another resolution I have fallen pretty far behind on: my reading! Want to finally finish the Game of Thrones series (can’t wait till George R.R. Martin comes out with the 6th book in the series; he has 3 more books in the series he is working on, book 6 should be out some time in the new year). Then on to collecting and reading the rest of The Mistborn series and Dresden Files. And so many more!
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MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Wishing all of you a Very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! 

Welcome to My Secret Garden!

So I have fallen behind. Life has happened. I meant to post the week of Christmas. Honest. But the holidays were not very kind. I have an aunt, my dad’s older sister, who has been in not so great of health for quite some time and we’ve been prepared for the worst. But Tuesday the 8th of December was not a day any of us were prepared for. As a few know, I live with my parents. And my dad’s only living (and younger) brother came over to visit at least once a week, mostly it had gotten to where he was coming to visit almost every day which we all looked forward to. Especially my sister and me. He was our favorite (only living) uncle. He would bring flowers for birthdays and Mother’s day, give us big bear hugs, and tease us.

So imagine my shock when my mom walks in that afternoon, walks back to my room where I was and tells me “I have some bad news.”  Her expression and the tone in which she said it made me think it was my aunt. But no, it wasn’t. She said “Uncle Donny died this morning.” I’m pretty sure we all know that we don’t live mortal lives forever, that we have souls that leave our bodies eventually, but nothing can ever prepare you for the unexpected death of someone you love so much. My dad took it the hardest. He and his brother had reconnected over the past couple of years and they were closer than they had ever been. He was just 69.

But age means nothing. My uncle had been up early that morning and was out in the garage working under one of his beautiful classic cars. He died down there of a heart attack. It could have been anyone. I’m struggling with health issues long standing and this past year has seen my thyroid disease (autoimmune… Hashimoto’s) freak out over the fact that my body decided it doesn’t need certain hormones anymore. Call me allergic to life now, but that’s okay. At least I’ve lost over 70 pounds thanks to the madness. But just because your thyroid decides to go from hypo to hyper doesn’t mean you get rid of the underactive symptoms: feel cold all the time, no energy, feeling completely drained, hair starts falling out. So between my uncle’s death and my thyroid making me feel downright miserable, I pushed all things to the back burner.

However, I finally talked my doctor’s office into doing more bloodwork than just for the one that they always only check for and was finally prescribed an additional thyroid medicine. I’m finally getting my energy back (can someone make my hair grow back?) and not feeling so weepy and moody. But at least I can read books without getting headaches and falling asleep again! YES! I used to read ALL the time when I was growing up. But after having 3 kids in 2 1/2 years time and raising them while fighting health problems, I had stopped reading. The desire was there, but never could get far in a book without having to put it down from headaches. No more!

I have my middle son to thank for that. He has the same love of reading. He has a number of books (not enough for even a small library yet, but he’s growing it!) and he has been loaning them to me to read. I’m a fan of science fiction, fantasy, historical fiction, thrillers (psychological and supernatural), mysteries, crime, and adventure. The only kind of books I really can’t get into are romance. I read a few of those in college, but it was such a burden to try and get through them!

So now my secret garden has been set free for the first time in over 20 years and it is wonderful! All the magical, wonderful things that you can possibly dream up can happen when you open a book. The real world disappears and you become part of a world unlike anything you can find in real life. And that is magical indeed!

Now to begin on book 7 of The Demonata series by Darren Shan:  Death’s Shadow. It may be considered Young Adult/Horror/Fantasy, but I consider the series pretty darn cool! Check out Online Book Club. And look up Darren Shan and go read his books. These are his books meant for adults as well as young adults. But if you’re looking for something a little bolder, check out his other site, Darren Dash. I’m off to watch Supernatural, again, until I fall asleep.

Grandma’s Incredibly Moist Banana Cake

I am going to start this blog off with the easiest and most delicious banana cake you will ever try. Seriously! This is my MIL’s recipe and although you could play with it, change things, add things (like frosting), you don’t need to and you won’t want to once you try it! It’s a perfect sweetness…not too sweet. Believe me when I say my family is one who loves to take a recipe and play with it and dress things up, down, and all around!  We definitely like to experiment! I’m not going to bore you any further with step-by-step pictures because this cake is just too simple to make! Without further ado:

Ingredients:

  • 1 C. Crisco shortening (or lard if you have it since it’s better for you)
  • 1 1/2 C. Organic Cane Sugar
  • 2 Organic Pasture Eggs (room temperature)
  • 1 C. Sour Organic or Raw Milk (1 tspn. vinegar added to milk)
  • 1 tspn. Baking Powder (Non-GMO – Bob’s Red Mill has some)
  • 1 tspn. Baking Soda
  • 2 C. All-Purpose Flour (can also use King Arthur Gluten Free Flour or I am starting to make my own with the instructions from Gluten-Free Girl)
  • 1 tspn. Vanilla Extract
  • 1 C. Mashed Ripe Bananas (3 average size VERY ripe)
  • 1/2 C. Walnuts or Pecans (optional – never add since one of us can’t eat tree nuts but if you aren’t allergic, go for it!)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly grease 9″x13″ pan or spray with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Cream Crisco and sugar together; add eggs. Beat till creamy.
  3. Alternate beating in milk and dry ingredients.
  4. Add vanilla and mashed bananas. Mix well.
  5. Pour into pan. Bake approximately 30 minutes, checking after 20 minutes with a toothpick in middle (will cook faster in metal pans, glass can take up to 45 minutes depending on oven). You want the toothpick to have a few crumbs, but not be wet.banana cake

This is wonderful served with a tall glass of ice cold milk! It’s delicious both fresh out of the oven AND room temperature. How you eat it depends on your preference! Hope y’all enjoy!