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Sunday, August 12, 2012

Review: Kindred Spirits

Kindred Spirits
Kindred Spirits by Sarah Strohmeyer

My rating: 0 of 5 stars

I'm not even 50 pages in yet, and I've already cried through half the pages... It definitely starts out in an emotional way.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Steppin' Out Again

It's that time of year again...the time everyone dreads.  Yep, the time that I harass all of my friends and co-workers for their participation and/or their hard-earned cash.

Now, I rarely ask people for money (never for personal use...okay, only jokingly), but I make an exception once or twice a year when I participate in a fundraiser for something I believe in.  This time it's the American Diabetes Association®'s Step Out® Walk to Stop Diabetes®.  I think it's a good cause, especially considering that Diabetes has affected a number of my friends and family members, including my grandfather and my brother to name only a few.  I walk for them and for the other 25.8 million Americans living with Types I and II Diabetes.
Come join me on October 13th at Lake Merrit in Oakland, CA for the walk!  In addition to the 3 mile walk around the lake, lunch will be provided as well as activities, music and a healthy living fair.

If you want to register as a part of my team, visit my team page and click the link at the right hand side of the page.  You don't even have to live locally to participate!  If you'd like, you can join my team as a "virtual participant."  By becoming a virtual participant, you will help the American Diabetes Association provide community-based education programs, protect the rights of people with diabetes and fund critical research for a cure.  Registration for the event is free, and while it is a fundraising event, you do not have to meet any minimum fundraising requirements in order to participate.

As always, donations to my campaign are highly appreciated and can be made using the newly installed widget at the top of my page (nifty new gadget!) or by visiting this link.  If you use the widget, you can search by "Tami'sTeam" with no spaces or by my full first and last name. 

To anyone that continued reading to the end, thank you so much for your attention!  That in itself is a form of support.

Thank you!!

Wednesday, June 06, 2012


Oh look at that!  That date can't be right, can it?  It's been two months since my last post!  Someone has been busy!  Honestly, I can't remember what was keeping me so busy during the month of April, but May was chock-full of business trips, vacations and other social occasions...

So, now that I'm back here, I'll try to catch you up (you 4 people that read me, that is).  While I've been remiss in my blogging activities, I've mirrored that in my WW vigilance.  My tracking has been sporadic, starting in late April with my friend's daughter's birthday party.  It's hard to track during parties (it can be done, and I've done it, but I got lazy) - there's excuse number 1.  Past experience has taught me that I need to track my food or I slip quickly into old habits...which I did.  As a result, my weight loss has been pretty much flat-lined for the last 2 months.

I'm still down over 15 lbs, so I'm not using this plateau as excuse #2 to stop trying!  Nope, excuse #2 was the last minute whirlwind business trip to Long Island, NY.  Traveling on-plan is tough to start with, and I didn't plan ahead.

Excuse #3 was the bachelorette weekend in South Lake Tahoe that immediately followed the business trip.  After 2 weeks of not tracking, the old habits were just waiting in the wings to take over.  I discovered Ben & Jerry's Frozen Greek Yogurt and the fact that I have no control with anything that comes in a single pint container.  Still a better binge than their regular ice creams, but heavy on the points...

Enter Excuse #4 - vacation in Florida visiting my old college roommate, Moriah.  We hit the beach, the zoo, St. Augustine and had an all-around good time.  (I'm hoping she did too, as I can only speak for myself.)

After that, I did half-arsed tracking for about a week before slipping again.  I managed to maintain during the week that I tracked, though I did use all of my weeklies.  I blame cheesecake, which has a direct correlation to my lack of control.  That cheesecake was fully tracked and accounted for, though.  So, that's something.

Excuse #5 was all of the recent activity surrounding my step-brother Mark's wedding this past weekend.  I got permission to work remotely last Thursday and Friday so that I could attend the rehearsal (I did half of the prayers of the faithful during the ceremony) on Thursday evening and the luncheon on Friday afternoon.  Naturally, much food was involved...not to mention the wedding on Saturday and the brunch on Sunday - none of which was tracked.

So, my WW week has reset as of today, and I am done with the excuses!  (Please hold me to that statement.)

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Kale Fail

Lately, I have seen an awful lot of hype regarding kale chips.  Recipes abound all over the internet - on the Weight Watchers site, AllRecipes, Skinnytaste...everywhere.  They've even made it into the grocery store in highly priced single-serve baggies.

I realize that I am probably late to this little party, but I figured that maybe I should look into this phenomenon.  I checked out some different recipes and noticed that they all seemed highly rated by the public.  That's a good sign, right?  Everyone says they were surprisingly delicious, and terms I saw included:  "to die for," "a healthier alternative to regular chips," "fantastic."  You get the picture.

So I picked up a healthy looking bunch of kale at the grocery store the other night and got to it.  I settled on this recipe from The Food Network, since it seemed nice and quick.  (Every recipe I found was for a different heat setting and time period.  This one blasts the kale at 425F for 15 minutes.)

First step - wash and dry the kale.  Done.

Second step - cut away the tough middle stem.  I chose to tear it, since I didn't want to dirty a knife needlessly.

Third step - tear leaves into small chip sized pieces.  I combined this with #2.  Warning to anyone who hasn't worked with kale before: look closely at those leaves - they harbor little green insects that almost look like they are part of the leaf.  I hope I got them all, but if I didn't, it didn't kill me.  (Or as my father would say, extra protein!)

Step four - toss leaf pieces with olive oil and seasonings.

Step five - wait patiently as your chips roast to crispy healthy perfection in the oven, stirring halfway through the roasting time.

After taking the "chips" out of the oven, I impatiently popped one into my mouth.  Definitely crunchy.  Fantastic?  An alternative to regular chips?  I think not!  It just tasted like you would expect a roasted leafy garnish to hot grass.  Crispy as it was, you just can't chew it enough to break down the fibers of the leaves...or is that just me?  I'd say that it was a waste of $1.99, except that I still ate most of the "chips," hoping they would grow on me.  They did not.  At least I got in more vegetables that night, and healthy oil (still going strong on my WW plan).

Okay, I will admit that I am not a big fan of kale, though I have made a good pea soup that used it as extra veggies (cut into thin strips).  I have no problem relegating this particular vegetable to the salad the greenery dividing the dishes.

*Sigh*  Am I the only one totally unimpressed with the kale chip phenomenon?  There have to others out there like me...

Monday, March 26, 2012

Hidden Talent

I have a hidden talent.  I think it's hereditary, because my brothers and my mother seem to have it to.  This talent will really never get me anywhere in life, but it comes in handy while watching Psych and during trivia games.

What's this talent I possess?  The uncanny ability to recall obscure and bizarre scenes from old television episodes and commercials.

I told you it wasn't going to get me anywhere.

What brought on this revelation?  This new Verizon commercial:

Clever?  Maybe.  Original?  Oh, I think not...

Here's where my talent comes in.  Immediately upon seeing this ad (hearing it really, I was in the other room listening to the tv while making dinner), I flashed back to an old Saturday Night Live commercial spoof for Bad Idea Jeans.  (I can't embed the link because it's not on YouTube, but go watch it, I'll wait.)

After finding the Verizon commercial and watching it in full (before I posted it here), I saw that the two were even more similar than I had originally thought.  I suppose that's one way to save money on marketing...I wonder if SNL or the original writer got any credit for this idea.

Of course, my real takeaway?  I miss Phil Hartman.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Muffin Madness

It's been nearly a month since my last post, which I just realized as I logged in for today's entry.  Where does the time go?  To the corporate overlords, plain and simple.  Work has kept me quite busy, and fairly stressed out lately.  While I've been keeping up my new year dedication (not a resolution - those are destined to fail) to healthier eating with a decreased reliance on convenience foods, I have noticed myself slipping a little bit this past week.  I hit fast food twice after work this week after avoiding those places for months (every once in a while, I would grab something that was pre-decided, but rarely).

I've also been trying to keep up my nails with fun color, since when I'm mentally exhausting myself during the work day, I like to look down at my nails and have something to smile about.  Is is weird that a good manicure can boost my mood during a tough day?

So, while I've been spending time at work and letting my nails dry, I haven't been keeping up the blog like I'd like to.

However, I have been inspired.  Gina over at may not realize it, but I semi-stalk her.  Earlier this month, I was on a banana bread kick, and tried out two different recipes in single serve and two serving portions.  The problem I found with the recipe I made into 2 serving portions (using mini-loaf pans), was that I seem to be physically incapable of only eating half of the loaf.  Those are in the freezer and are a bit of a treat on those low-point days.

Onto the inspiration.  I was sitting at work toiling away and fantasizing about that banana bread, but wishing it were fewer points (the 2 servings together are 11).  I had also just eaten my lunch - 1C of oatmeal with chopped apple and maple syrup (easier to throw together in the morning than a sandwich, when there's nothing in the freezer).  I was thinking of making an oatmeal fruit bread, similar to my lunch but with leftovers.  Later that day, while taking a short sanity break, I checked and found the recipe for Insanely Good Blueberry Oatmeal Muffins.  I already had most of the ingredients on hand, and had chopped up strawberries and blueberries in the fridge.

Naturally, I had to hit the grocery store to pick up some things first.  I didn't think I had enough honey at home and didn't trust the applesauce in my fridge to still be good.  Long story short, the baking was delayed until last night, at which time my berries were dried out and sad looking.  Quick change - apple pie muffins instead.  I substituted chopped up apple for the berries and added some apple pie spice to the dry ingredients.

 I'll admit that sometimes I get intimidated by lengthy ingredient lists, but this recipe is really rather simple and easy to follow.  
Ingredients ready for assembly
Since the first step in the recipe is to let the oats soak in the milk for about 30 minutes, it gave me time to prepare all the rest of the ingredients while the oven pre-heated.  Once the oats are sufficiently soaked and the wet ingredients are mixed, everything comes together quite quickly. 

Ready for the oven

Normally, I would worry about filling a muffin-tin to that level with the batter, but since the photos in the recipe page showed this level (and the finished product), I was okay with it.  And you may be wondering what all that liquid is on top of the muffin-tin.  One of the recipe steps was to spray the tin and liners with oil.  I had never done both steps before, but after reading the comments, saw this to be integral.  I used non-stick cooking spray.


This is the first time I've baked something that didn't rise up and out over the top of the pan to the point that you have to destroy them to remove them.  I guess actually following written instructions has its perks.  Of course, since it's me, I had to do something stupid during the process.  This time, when I slid the muffins into the oven, I realized that I hadn't moved the racks to their usual positions (I had planned on putting these on the rack in the middle position, but had forgotten that I'd moved that rack to the top position to broil something earlier this week).  My solution was to bake these on the top rack for the first 11 minutes and then move them to the bottom rack for the last 11.  Result - some of the muffin bottoms are a bit over-done.  I'm not sure if this is due to the rack issue, or the fact that while I was mixing the ingredients, the pan was on top of the hot oven waiting to be filled.  I need a larger kitchen, or more inclination to keep the counters clutter free.  Normal people probably will not get this result.

The first taste

The verdict:  Moist and tasty.  I will definitely be making these again, and trying different fruit combos.  It has a good oat flavor and a subtle sweetness.  The big apple chunks cooked up well, and there's a nice fruit to muffin ratio.  When I first folded in the fruit, I was afraid it wouldn't be enough, but it is.  

To circle back to spraying the liners with the do not want to skip that step.  These muffins come out of the liners completely with no precious points lost to the wrapper.  That is so important to a Weight Watcher's member, since I know when I have counted points for an item, I am eating every morsel, even if it means gnawing the crumbs off of that muffin liner (I'm not proud).  From the recipe comments, you will want to use liners because otherwise these tend to fall apart when removing them from the pan.  Other comments have remarked that the muffins bottoms tend to be rather wet, but dry by the next day (I didn't have this issue, but I'm "special").

I may be smuggling one of these in to The Hunger Games later for a WW-Friendly movie snack.