If you're looking for Olson family updates, then visit our family blog, I Love You Same.

The rants and recipes found here are solely mine.

Monday, October 29, 2007

This Week's Five

Sight Orbit by John J. Nance

Kip has won the lottery and the prize is to get blasted into outer space. The kicker is, he gets stuck up there. And so he begins to write his epitaph, not knowing that anyone will ever receive it. Meanwhile, on Earth, the entire population is receiving his words. In fact, he's become a world phenomenon.

Sound Aida the Musical

I periodically delve into Broadway. Love this one. Elton John at his best and the vocals are amazing. Try to keep from singing along!

Scent Cinnamon and Sugar!

Taste Cinnamon Twists

I was dying for a cinnamon roll and these filled that craving! They'd also fit that, "I've got to have a cinnamon and sugar bagel or pretzel" craving!

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Take one can of refrigerated breadstick dough. Open, unroll dough, and cut in half to make 24 small sticks. Spray a baking sheet with butter flavored cooking spray. Place dough sticks on sheet. Spray dough with butter flavored cooking spray. Mix 2 TB of white sugar with 1/2 tsp cinnamon. Sprinkle about 1/4 tsp of cinnamon sugar mix onto the bread sticks. Tie each stick into a knot, stretching dough as necessary. Sprinkle evenly with remaining cinnamon sugar. Bake 12-15 minutes or until puffed and golden. Enjoy!

2 WW points each twist

Touch The new red checked pillows I made!

Celebrations in Small Packages

The best way to lose weight is slowly, and gradually. The old adage, slow and steady wins the race is repeated over and over and over again in the weight loss biz. In fact, I've heard it so many times on the aerobics tape that I do every week that I'd like to punch the speaker.

One of the hardest things to keep in mind is that I didn't just suddenly inflate into fatness overnight. So, it makes sense that it will take a long time to deflate into a healthier weight. It's taken me almost a month now, to really get this. And I mean, really get it. But, I haven't been whining about it!

I read a lot of message boards and blogs about weight loss. Sometimes I just want to scream at some of the people who go on and on about the struggle. The struggle becomes the issue and they don't take the time to celebrate the fact that they're on their way. I know. I know! Everyone takes a different approach and everyone has a different journey that they need to take towards a healthier lifestyle. But, in the same respect, you choose what you put out there. You choose how you wish to look at this challenge. And the choice you make is probably the same choice you make in dealing with any difficult challenge in life.

I guess what I'm trying to get at is this. You need to flip a switch in your mind. And you need to celebrate the small things. So, the number on the scale isn't falling as quickly as you wish it too. What else can you look at to measure progress? Can you take joy in your clothes fitting better or feeling more energetic? Can you focus on the fact that you're on your way to a better lifestyle and that the scale can't measure that? Can you take all of that negative energy and beat it out during a workout?

I ask all of this because I get glimpses of that darkness when I see you reaching out on the Internet. And I chase those contagious feelings away as quickly as I can. Maybe these people need more help than they can get from anonymous internet connections. And maybe they're not ready to take this journey yet. Whatever the reason, I try to stay away from these feelings as much as possible. No, I'm not covering anything up. I'm just refusing to go there.

I've lost 1.3 pounds this week, making me just shy of 10 pounds gone. Slow and steady. I know I can win this race.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Are You Kidding Me?

WASHINGTON — The White House scolded the Federal Emergency Management Agency on Friday for staging a phony news conference about assistance to victims of wildfires in southern California.The agency _ much maligned for its sluggish response to Hurricane Katrina over two years ago _ arranged to have FEMA employees play the part of independent reporters Tuesday and ask questions of Vice Adm. Harvey E. Johnson, the agency’s deputy director.The questions were predictably soft and gratuitous.“I’m very happy with FEMA’s response,” Johnson said in reply to one query from an agency employee.White House press secretary Dana Perino said it was not appropriate that the questions were posed by agency staffers instead of reporters. FEMA was responsible for the “error in judgment,” she said, adding that the White House did not know about it beforehand and did not condone it.




Can you believe this? I need to go bake or paint or take a walk. Something to wash this away.

Friday, October 26, 2007

ENOUGH



And we all say, "ENOUGH!"


I don't know what it's going to take any more. This picture is making the Internet rounds and, as always, it's turned into more about this woman with red paint on her hands and whether or not what she did was "rude" "crude" or "lewd." And they're talking AND TWISTING and we're forgetting what the point is.


This picture should speak for itself. I don't think there is much commentary necessary.


The question is, who really is the crude woman in the picture? Perhaps the focus on the one with red on her hands is so far from the truth.
Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. Let's turn the cameras towards Britney, Anna, thank God there's a fire in California we can focus on that. And the coffins and broken men are still coming home.


We're so shocked at the image of blood, even the thought of blood. But, this war has been sanitized, dry cleaned, and hung up for our approval. Photoshopped images flash on our screens at six and ten. We no longer refer to dead soldiers, but have changed their names to "troops." So many troops died today in Iraq. And no one even questions it anymore.

You have blood on your hands Condi and it isn't washing off. The scream are getting louder. ENOUGH. ENOUGH. ENOUGH. And we can't be silenced this time.


As you weave your web, as you begin aiming your guns at Iran, please know that we're watching.


Not in my name.


ENOUGH. ENOUGH. ENOUGH.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Simmered Apple "Pie"

My dad raised apples. His name was Bob, so I named his orchard, Bob for Apples. What started as a hobby for him became over 350 trees at its peak. As a youngster, there was a point where I thought I couldn't eat another apple, whether it was fresh off the tree or baked in a pie. But, now, as I get older, I can't seem to get through a day without an apple.

Fall screams apples and I've written about my grandma's apple sauce. Being on Weight Watchers, I've risen to the challenge of trying to fit my favorite treats into the points plan. It's actually been quite fun. But, last weekend, it took every ounce of my being not to make my mom's apple pie. In fact, I began to think I could smell apple pie cooking and could almost see them cooling on my counter.

Now, I was not hallucinating from hunger, it was just this serious craving that suddenly came over me. I haven't really experienced this before except for a sad fixation on pizza rolls and cheap frozen pizza when I was pregnant with my son (what was that all about, anyway?).

So, I decided to take a Skillet Apple recipe that I've had in my apron's back pocket for a few years and slim it down. I simmered 2 medium sized apples and ate the whole pan full myself, alone, while watching a movie. It was fantastic! And the pie craving subsided. Figure about 2 points per apple.

I hope you enjoy.

Simmered Apple "Pie"

2 apples--use sweet apples like Honeycrisp (my favorite) or Fuji (my second favorite)
1/4 to 1/2 cup water
1/2 tsp apple pie spice or cinnamon
1 TB Brummel and Brown
a little ginger if you like it

Wash, peel, core, and slice apples. Place pan over medium heat, add apples and the rest of ingredients. Cover and simmer, stirring often, and adding more water if they get dry. Cook until apples are tender, uncover if they're too wet. You can serve topped with low fat granola or crumbled cookie/graham cracker/animal cracker/cereal crumbs if you have more points. You must serve warm for full pie like nirvana.



Saturday, October 20, 2007

Little Butt

When I was a little girl, my dad called me Little Butt. I think the nickname actually originated from a cousin who couldn't say Elizabeth. I'm sure everyone thought it was quite cute at the time. Somehow, only with my dad, the nickname stuck. And he still called me that when, ironically, my butt wasn't so little anymore.

It's amazing how your perception of yourself can change over the years. Sorting through my closet recently, I noticed a great number of items that I haven't even worn yet. They were all purchased in sizes that are too small for me. I didn't buy them with the intention of wearing them when I lost a few pounds. They weren't extreme bargains that I just couldn't pass up. They were purchased thinking that they were the right size for me.

I'm always struck at the shock of seeing myself in a mirror at the mall or catching a glimpse of myself in a shop window. Who is that person standing so close to me? And then, I realize, it's me. I don't know how it happened and yet, there I stand. It's the same thing with snapshots. While I try to avoid cameras whenever possible, there are a few photos of me that are particularly eye opening. In fact, really seeing one for the first time is what prompted me to start losing weight.

There I am on the beach with my husband and son at my favorite place to escape to: Sanibel Island. And I'm enormous. I mean, even my elbows are huge--how does that happen? This is definitely my before picture. And I'll share it--once I have a really good after to show!

Anyway, I've got the before pictures and I have a couple of items of clothing that I just can't wait to get into. But, what keeps me going, is hearing my dad call me Little Butt again. And, while my dad has been gone three years now, I know that once I reach my goal, I'll hear it again, if only in my mind.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Chocolate Obsession

There are times when I become completely obsessed with just one thing. There can be no substitute. It's something I must have and nothing and no one should get in my way. Dramatic, yes, I suppose. But, if the ancient Aztecs could worship it, I guess I can too.

It's chocolate. And sometimes it's all that I can think about. Being on Weight Watchers and really trying to stick to my plan hasn't been as hard as I thought it was going to be. However, getting a real chocolate fix has been a challenge. Sorry folks, but a chocolate graham cracker isn't going to satisfy my cravings! Thankfully, there is a community of other WW devotees from which I can learn tricks, tips, and best of all recipes.

I discovered this recipe from one of them. I wasn't sure it would work. I mean, three ingredients and one of them is water? But, it did! And I'm happy to say, this recipe has more than satisfied my chocolate cravings. I'm looking forward to trying several variations of this recipe and I'll report my findings.

I hope you enjoy! The poster said it was one point for a piece, but using the recipe calculator thingamabob they have at ww.com it said two points. That's ok. It's worth it! It's decadent and delicious and you don't need to be on WW to enjoy it! Top with Cool Whip Free.

Chocolate Fudge Cake

1 Devil's Food Cake Mix
1 14 ounce can pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix!)
1/2 can water

Mix well and bake in a 9x13 inch pan as directed on the cake mix package. Serves 24. Cool and cut into serving size pieces for better portion control.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

This Week's Five

Sight The Owl and Moon Cafe by Jo-Ann Mapson

I'm not quite done with this one, but have enjoyed it so much, I wanted to share it with you. Four generations of women, all with their own unique perspectives and all with their own stories to tell, and all living under the same roof! I picked this book off the shelving cart of my local library and have enjoyed every page. I'm looking forward to reading more of her work.

Sound Firecracker by the Wailin' Jennys
Just buy it, they're fantastic! Folky, great harmonies, and some sing along even if you can't sing tunes.

Scent Mud Cake

Watching my diet has been difficult. And getting my chocolate fix has been more of a challenge. This cake smells fantastic. I won't post the recipe unless it's good enough for this blog, but if the smell is any indication, it will be amazing!

Taste Stay tuned!

Touch Petting my freshly groomed Border Terrier, Pip!

Monday, October 15, 2007

To All the Skinny Chicks

Dear Skinny Chicks,

This has to be said. I can't contain myself anymore. You look at me with your haughty superiority, holding your decaf skim latte to your side as you stare at my grocery store purchases while we wait to check out. I can read your thoughts.

You think, I did this to myself. That it's not because of the bad luck of inheriting fat genes. You know that it's because I sit night after night with my spoon rocketing back and forth between my mouth and a pint of Ben and Jerrys, even though there is no Ben and Jerrys in my cart.

For that matter, there has never been any Ben and Jerrys in my cart. I eat very healthy food. People are sometimes very surprised by that. That I love vegetables, don't eat fried food, and that my cholesterol is on the low end of normal.

I've seen you before. At the gym, at school functions, wherever I may wander. And you're all the same, same, same. The deep sigh of your attitude. I can't even meet your eyes.

There is nothing you can say or think that's any worse than anything that I've said to myself. There is no critical look or scrutiny that you can give me that I haven't already given myself. You see, we fat chicks wound ourselves every day with our thoughts, our avoidance of interactions, and our inability to just be who we are. We beat ourselves up daily. And so there's nothing you can do or say that will hurt worse than that.

Many of us work out daily. We lead active and fulfilling lives. We have loved ones, close families and friends. And we didn't get fat just from sitting around stuffing our faces. You see, the truth is, getting fat kind of sneaks up on you. You avoid facing it as much as possible. You hide behind bigger clothes and avoid even looking at those brands that you don't fit into anymore. You quit tucking in your shirt, but you don't really even notice that since it's much more comfortable not to.

I think the reason I'm writing to you, Skinny Chicks, is because I'm so tired of you making me feel worse than I already do about my body. I figured that if I just brought this out in the open, perhaps you would realize that what you are doing is in no way helpful to someone like me. In fact, it's really counterproductive. So, I've decided to just let you know, that we fat chicks aren't going to stand for it anymore.

And here's why: an ugly attitude is so much more ugly than my fat thighs. And judging someone based on their size is not only shallow, but perpetuates misunderstanding between people who are different from each other. And let's face it, we're all different.

So, instead of holding yourself superior, why don't you smile and say hello to me. Why don't you talk about the high price of groceries or make a joke about one of the tabloids? Why don't you mention the good old days when there were people who helped bag your food? Why don't you take a moment to try to connect with someone, bridge the gap? You might just find out that you like me and you might just find out how much I work out, exercise, and try to be active. You might just find out that it's you that has a problem reaching out--and maybe that's why you stand with your attitude.

I don't mean to be bitter. I know that most of this is my perception of what, for you, might be just a glancing look. And if that's it, I apologise. But, if it's not, then know I see you for what you are. And there's nothing worse than that.

Signed,
A Fat Chick

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Braised Pork Chops with Pan Gravy, Jasmine Rice, and Cider Roasted Squash

I don't usually take pictures of my dinner plate. Well, let me rephrase that. Having owned a food business that required I dabble in food photography, I got used to taking pictures before I ate or served a meal or dish. But, I haven't done it since I sold the business. I once spent two hours photographing chocolate raspberry cookies and I'm still not exactly pleased with the outcome.

Good pictures of food require excellent lighting, well placed garnishes, great backdrops, and most importantly, a photographer with a full stomach. I took this shot in the two short seconds after I set it at my place at the table. And I didn't even preview it. Now, I could crop, edit, photoshop, etc, but then I couldn't tell you about this fantastic meal as quickly as I'd like to!

My husband and I are trying to eat a healthier diet. We've both joined Weight Watchers and are working out at least five days a week. It's been difficult at times, but also a welcome new challenge. We both see this as a necessary life change and definitely not a diet. And, to tell you the truth, I've had a lot of fun surfing the internet for new recipes that fit with our healthier lifestyle. If you're interested in a fantastic dessert, scroll down and try the Lemon Souffle. If you're a lemon lover, you'll love this one! And it's only 2 WW points and/or very low cal.

Just a sideline, I remember as a child, watching my mom trying to lose weight. It seemed to involve a great deal of cottage cheese and pineapple. And also Heath bars, which she told me were diet. Believing my mother to be the ultimate truth teller, I didn't try a Heath bar until I was well into my late teens. Imagine my surprise, and laughter, when I realized her hidden Heaths were delicious!

Anyway, I stumbled on this great pork chop recipe when I realized there was nothing, but chops and some venison from last year's hunting season in the freezer. The chops definitely won out over the venison. I was looking for comfort food. Something that would be worth my husband coming home to! I know this new, healthier life is a real challenge for him.

I hope you enjoy this meal as much as we did! Total WW Points 7.

Braised Pork Chops with Pan Gravy

1/2 tsp Marjoram, dried
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp black pepper
4 Bone-In Pork Chops
1/2 cup water
2 tsp cornstarch
1/4 cup fat-free chicken broth


Instructions
Season chops with herbs, sear in pan coated with nonstick spray. Add water and cover. Cook 45 minutes to an hour or until tender. Remove from pan. Stir cornstarch and chicken broth together. Whisk into pan juices. Cook until thickened. Serve over chops and with cooked Jasmine rice.



Cider Roasted Squash

1/3 cup apple cider
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 pound winter squash
1 TB Brummel and Brown


Instructions

Cut squash in half, remove seeds and cut into eighths. Place into casserole. Pour cider over, sprinkler with cinnamon and dot with margarine. Cover and bake until tender.


Love love love pita bread. This is a great, low cal dinner bread.

Toasted Pita Bread

4 pita rounds
1 tsp olive oil
1/2 tsp minced garlic
sea salt

Preheat oven to 425. Mix oil and garlic. Place pitas on a baking sheet. Brush with oil mixture. Heat in the oven, watching closely, until puffed and slightly browned. Remove from oven and sprinkle with sea salt.

This Week's Five

Sight: Michelangelo and the Pope's Ceiling by Ross King



Michelangelo was intimidated by Pope Julius into painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Even more interesting than the politics, power, and corruption of the Papal court is the fact that Michelangelo knew nothing about the art of fresco. You'd think this would be a dry read, but it's not. My dream is to get to Italy soon and I'm trying to read as much as I can about it before getting there.



Sound: The Waking Hour by David Francey



Love love love this artist. I just discovered him while wandering around Amazon. Folky, poetic, Francey gets in your soul. Born in Scotland (I guess my Scottish ancestors led me to him!), he makes Canada his home now. His melodic accent comes through in many of his songs. Stunning, yet simple lyrics. I'm definitely going to be investing in more of his work. http://www.davidfrancey.com/



Scent: The oven cleaning. Yuck.

I hate this smell, but it's got to be done. How can you get rid of that burnt metal smell. Anyone know?



Taste: Lemon Souffle



This amazingly light and low calorie dessert will impress guests and thrill your family. Like lemon meringue pie without the crust. Put it in the oven just before sitting down to dinner and serve right out of the oven. Yummy.


2 Tbsp sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 Tbsp cornstarch
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup water
4 large egg white(s)
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
Instructions
Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat six 1-cup soufflĂ© dishes with cooking spray. Coat with 2 tablespoons sugar, tapping out excess so dishes are evenly coated.
In a small saucepan, stir together remaining sugar and cornstarch. Gradually whisk in lemon juice and water. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until boiling, thick and translucent, about 5 minutes. Transfer to mixing bowl. Let cool to room temperature.
Beat egg whites and cream of tartar until stiff. Fold into lemon base. Divide among soufflé dishes and smooth tops.
Set in a roasting pan and add hot water to come halfway up sides of dishes. Bake 20 minutes. Serve immediately.




Touch: new jeans!

I'm losing weight and got some new, smaller size jeans in the mail today!

Simple Moments


Every once in a while a little bird will perch on my windowsill and peer into my house. Eye to eye, we share a simple moment. Now, perhaps, he is just looking at his own reflection, but I like to think we're connecting. Maybe he's trying to thank me for feeding him or maybe he's just wondering what in the heck that big, weird-looking bird without feathers is.

Simple moments like that sometimes creep into my day. Today, I was in a hurry all morning. There was laundry to do, the kitchen and bathrooms to clean, and some very dreaded vacuuming. Dreaded, because I had just done it yesterday, and young one had brought in some mud and tracked it from the backdoor all the way upstairs to his room. Isn't that how it is? You get something done, checked off that big list, and then whammy, you find you're doing it again. But, I digress.

This morning, my hubbie complained that he couldn't hear me on the phone. I was scurrying around trying to accomplish something, rather than just sitting and listening, as I guess I should have been doing. I was attempting to feed the dogs, not quite a quiet task. As the kibble dropping into the steel bowl, I couldn't really cammouflage the fact that I wasn't completely focused on, what for him, was a very important conversation. A missed, simple moment. (And yes, I am feeling thoroughly guilty about this!)

It's so easy to get caught up in the day to day clutter. We all have huge to do lists and so much that is yet to be done. I think our country as a whole has gotten caught up in the hurry scurry of being BUSY and we're not focusing on what is really important in life, the simple moments.

So, try as I might to be able to reach dear hubbie, to try to apologize or at least rid myself of some of the guilt, along came my little bird. Bright yellow goldfinch, peeking in on me. I stopped my rushed cleaning, thinking, what the heck am I rushing for, and stopped to look into his beady brown eyes. Staying as still as possible, I noticed a rare sight at my bird feeder just beyond my little gold friend. A bluebird, bright feathered with his signature orange breast, sat at my feeder. If not for my little goldfinch friend, I would have missed a Bluebird. They don't often come to feeders (they don't eat seed) and I usually only just glimpse them as they pass through my area in the Spring and the Fall. As the bluebird sat and preened, I watched a bright red Cardinal, a Purple Housefinch, and a black and white checkered Downy Woodpecker join him. My heart rate slowed down and I felt just a bit of peace in my busy day. Just what I needed, a simple moment.

Taking a little time to play with words, to play with food, and just to play!