Saturday, January 23, 2010

Leftover Lunch

Today I wanted to use up some leftover's that I had.

I wanted to make something like this; but I wanted to make it a lower fat version.

I sauteed all of this:

1/2 chopped onion,
1 T fresh chopped garlic,
A large handful of shredded carrots (The preshredded bagged ones are great to have around for throwing into casseroles and salads)
A chopped rib of celery

in 1 T olive oil and a splash of vegetable broth, cooking on med-high until mushrooms were browned and veggies were soft.

Into a glass casserole dish I put about 3/4 cup brown rice that I had leftover. (I didn't have any egg noodles and Will doesn't like them and brown rice is much healthier.)

I cut up the rest of a leftover rotisserie chicken - probably about 5 ounces and mixed it with 1/2 cup light sour cream and a can of reduced fat cream of mushroom soup. I added all the vegetables and some black pepper. I added a dash of worcheshire and a little more vegetable broth.

I poured all of this down over the rice and then sprinkled it with 2T of French's Onions. These are really bad for you - but, like bacon, a small amount makes an entire dish seem very decadent.
Baked at 350 for 30 minutes.

Cleaning Bathrooms

I have resolved myself to the idea of blogging about totally mundane things. This is the first in a series about house cleaning.

I have a love/hate relationship when it comes to housecleaning. I like actually doing it; I have a negative attitude towards the time that it takes (I would rather be playing, reading, blogging, lounging, shopping, et cetera). Last year I began to pray about my attitude towards cleaning because I wanted to instill in my children that we must be stewards of our resources and that cheerfully doing the work of the day is important; the work itself is important on earth and the attitude with which it is done is important in heaven.

This is how I clean my bathrooms:
1.Gather supplies: I use a laundry basket
Lysol wipes
Lysol Toilet Bowl Cleaner
Toilet Brush
Scrubbing Bubbles spray
A small thin rag, two tea towel type rags.
squigee if you have shower doors
If you have a porcelain tub then add Bar Keeper's Friend and a magic eraser.
A notebook and pen

Visit your area where you stage your housegoods, extra toilet paper big container of handsoap, fresh towels etc. and get what you will need.

2. Take everything off of every surface: Kleenex, shampoos, soap dispenser, EVERYTHING. Trust me, this one step is what makes a huge difference. Don't skip this step. Try it once and you will really notice how much cleaner everything is once you are done. Pile everything up on the floor or in the hallway. Take a piece of kleenex or toilet paper and go over the sink and tub to get up any dust or hair or fuzz or whatever that is going to be harder to clean if it gets wet.

3. Windex the mirror. Spray scrubbing bubbles on the sink and tub/shower (if they are porcelain then use Bar Keeper's Friend instead.) Starting as high up under the rim as possible use the Lysol Toilet Bowl Cleaner, let it run down the insides of the bowl. Notice I did not say wipe anything! Let the products work.

4. While all the products are sitting, scrubbing and sanitizing; empty out the trash bin. Change out the towels. Restock the toilet paper from your larger stash that is kept somewhere else. Note in your notebook any supplies that are running low including cleaning supplies, toiletry items and prescriptions. Refill your soap dispenser from your larger bargain stash. Clean out the drawers and cabinets if anything has gotten into the wrong spot over the course of the week. Clear out mail or magazines or reading material that winds up in there. Don't get so absorbed in this that you let the products actually dry. This should all take about 3-4 minutes. If you don't finish that's OK, just work on it over time. Eventually once you do it weekly then it won't build up on you.

Do not leave the bathroom if you can help it, throw everything in the hallway.

Housework takes forever because of distractions, so try not to leave the room you are concentrating on. If you find you keep forgetting things then make a list so that you are more efficient the next time with what you take in there.

5. Wipe the mirror with one tea towel. This is your "dry" towel, don't use it for anything but mirrors and shower doors. Use the thin rag to wipe out the sink. Rinse the rag and use it to go over the counters. Be sure to clean the lip of the counter where it meets the mirror. I use a thin rag because I can feel dirt and the lip of the drain with it, I can use my fingernail to scrub through it. Use your 2nd tea towel to dry everything off, including the sink and faucets. Pick up and dust or wet wipe all the stuff that goes back on the counter.

6. Take a Lysol wipe and wipe down the top of the toilet tank, the handle and sides. Then SKIP the toilet seat area and clean the tile and baseboards behind and around the base of the toilet. Lastly use the wipe to clean the toilet seat pieces,top, bottom, and the lip of the toilet. If the hinges need work then try spraying some scrubbing bubbles in there. If you do this weekly then you can probably just use one wipe for the whole thing. If you are playing catch up or in a house with small boys or tall men, then you may need more.

Finally use your toilet brush and scrub out the toilet, get down and peer into the inside of the top of the rim, get the kind of toilet brush that will let you get in there really well.

7. Scrub out the tub or shower. Scrubbing bubbles will really get shower doors very clean. You must squigee your doors after every use if you want them to look nice. You can skip this if it isn't that important to you, they will still be clean but will have water spots that will basically become impossible to get off without using CLR or something like that. Use your Tea Towel #2 to dry off the faucets and the lip of the bathtub. Use windex and your dry towel to give a final shine to faucets and shower doors and counter tops (for granite only use water and dry cloth) Put everything back in the shower/tub area.

8. Start dispening all the stuff that is left; the laundry in the laundry room, the toys, magazine and mail etc. Don't get sidetracked on those tasks those, just set the items in the room where they go. They will get put away when you get to that room. Go on to the other bathrooms.

The only exception I make to the concentrate on one room at a time thing is with regards to laundry. I know this is counter to what Fly Lady does but it makes no sense to me not to keep the laundry going while you do other stuff.

We do floors separately after the whole house is done; so we'll cover that at another time.

Apple Cinnamon Muffins

Do you ever feel kind of grounchy and can't pinpoint why? Maybe you need more fiber...most of us do! Bella, in particular requires more fiber in her diet to offset her love of cheese.  One tasty way to get fiber is to make muffins.  I use the Betty Crocker Fiber One Premium Muffin mix, we like the apple cinnamon version. You can make it with applesauce & eggbeaters and it is very low in fat, but even made the regular way, these muffins are just 2 points each.

I make the mix as directed but then I add a tablespoon of cinnamon and a tablespoon of honey. I use those sillicone baking cups (watch for them in the dollar bins at Target) so I don't have to spray the cups or anything.

These things are REALLY fast, tasty and there are usually coupons for $1  off two boxes, so these are very economical too. 

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

In Which Bella Gets A Haircut

The teachers at Bella's school told me last week to please not send Bella to school with bows, clips or pony tail holders any more. She keeps eating them. Or rather taking them out and chewing on them, usually while running around. Yikes! This coupled with the fact that she has been looking downright shaggy lately made me cave on my original plan to grow out her fringe (bangs). It is one thing to grow them out with the help of cute accessories, just letting it hang in her face was not an option.

It had been summer of 2008 since her one and only cut to the length in back. It was long, like bra strap length (if she had such a thing) and it was all different lengths. It was very dry and tangled and she would cry every morning when I combed it out. I was reluctant to cut it because I felt sure that once we cut off her curls they would not come back as her hair seems quite straight now. The cut she got in summer of 2008 was quite crooked to begin with (1 year olds wiggle) and overall I thought it would be better to cut it blunt and get off the long straggely bits.

We had almost grown out the fringe...

See how long the back was? Oh those curls!

She wanted a magazine while we waited, so cute!

Sitting like a big girl. Still, quiet, and happy. So different from her big brother (even now he squirms during haircuts!)

There are those pretty blue eyes! I didn't take one of the back, it is  about shoulder length, healthy, straight and so much thicker. And best, best, best of all - the curls sprang back!


As a Mexican-American I feel obligated to preface with a disclaimer - this recipe is mostly about putting together ingredients and not so much (at all) actual cooking, but it is a great, quick, Weight Watcher friendly dish.

6 oz. shredded rotisserie chicken breast
2 cups Cookwell and Company Texas Two Step Chili mix
8 corn tortillas
1/2 cup cheddar cheese

Put enough sauce in a pyrex dish to coat the bottom
Warm the corn tortillas (This keeps them from breaking on you)
Place the chicken in the tortillas (This would be the time to add onions if you like them)
Cover with remaining sauce
Cover with cheese
Bake 30 minutes on 350.

These are 3 points each. You can have two, plus a tablespoon of light sour cream and a salad with a tablespoon of dressing for an 8 point dinner.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Happiness is...three shelves

I have a small pantry. When I started couponing what was a minor annoyance became a bigger problem. So, an idea began to form in the back of my mind.  This weekend my Dad, who we call Abuelo, came to Houston and 2 hours and $42 later I now have strong, custom built shelves in my laundry room! Woo hoo, I am so excited!

Picking up the supplies

Jacob tries out the riding lawnmowers

Yep. It's level.

Will decided we need a router. Then he comes home and uses the new router to smooth over the shelf edges. It really looks perfect, once it is painted no one will ever know it wasn't built with the original house. Note, the cost of the a new router is not included in the $42 budget on this project! (MEN!) This picture however, is of the sander (which thankfully we already had!)

The beautiful finished product! OK, so really it still has to be painted but that will wait until the whole room gets painted later this year.  What a huge difference three small shelves can make.

Thank you Abuelo, we love you!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Finished Dish

Seriously good stuff. I will definitely make this again. It calculated out to 7.5 points per 1 cup serving. Not super low in points but since the Panera macaroni and cheese came out to 17 points, this seems like a decent alternative. Along with a salad I will finish off the day right where I need to be!

3rd Stir Update

At the third stirring I gave the Macaroni & Cheese a taste - the consistency was good but it needed more flavor.

I added:
1/2 t garlic powder
1/2 t onion powder
2 T parmesian cheese (I wanted the saltiness and a bit more cheesiness)

Now it is VERY tasty.
11 more minutes of cooking on high and then I will switch the crockpot to warm to wait for Will to be home.
And make a salad.

Dinner (In the Making)

I am attempting to make a crockpot version of macaroni and cheese for dinner tonight. I have no idea how it will turn out yet, but here is what has gone into the pot (which I sprayed with cooking spray):

4 cups slightly cooked Barilla Plus Multigrain Pasta
13 oz. can skim evaporated milk
1/2 cup light cream
1/4 cup egg beaters
2 cups cheddar cheese
1/2 onion finely grated
1 T butter (chopped up and dotted around)
1/4 t black pepper
1/2 t salt
1/2 t dry mustard

I am mixing together my standard "light" version of mac and cheese combined with another low fat crockpot version, combined with the full fat version from which is a long way of saying I really have no clue how it will turn out.  We'll see how it goes. It will cook on high for 2.5 hours, with stirring every 30 minutes. Personally, the stirring part bugs me because I think the whole point of the crock pot should be not having to stir! However, since I'm home today I thought I  would try it the stirring way first and then I'll be able to tell if I think it would be fine to cook on it's own another time. 
I will keep you posted. (I know you are on the edge of your seat!)

Lunch Time

Today's lunch is actually more points than I would typically eat when working in the office. Usually I eat a frozen lunch in the 4-7 points range. Having more choices at home is probably not a good thing in my case!
Here is my lunch:

2 slices whole grain bread (2 points)
2 slices Ham (2 points)
1 slice mozzarella skim milk cheese (1 pt)
Tomatoes & Lettuce (0 points)
1 tblspoon low fat mayo (1 pt)
48 pretzels (2 pts)
1 4 ounce cup of sugar free apple sauce (1 pt)
total = 9 points

I'm ready to go eat it! And yes, I totally know that this blog topic is probably of no interest to anyone! LOL!

A Day in the Life

on Weight Watchers.  I've had people ask me about how Weight Watchers (WW) is working out for me.

I like it very well, I have just about lost all the weight I wanted to lose. I have about 5 pounds to go which are not wanting to come off. Most likely I will need to excercise them off, because I'm not too keen on eating much less than I am now.  It might be that my goal weight isn't realistic (it is my weight at about age 22!) but I still want to keep trying. If after another 6-8 weeks I'm still where I am now, then I may have to just stay here.  Since both my current weight and my goal weight are within healthy range for my height; I'll be OK with it either way,  truthfully I think I just need to move more and redistribute things. I am just so short and carry my weight in my belly area, so those 4-5 pounds do make a difference!

So I thought I would post what a typical day on WW is like for me. I try to stay at about 24 points. When I work in the office I usually eat oatmeal, coffee and fruit for breakfast. But on days like today when I work from home; I prefer a hot breakfast with more protein and less carbs.

Here is today's 5 point breakfast:
2 eggs (2 points each)
1 corn tortilla (1 point)
3 slices Canadian bacon (2 points)
Black Coffee (Point Free)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


This so cheesy - like those jokes in the Reader's Digest, but it is too funny not to post.

Bella went to the doctor today because she is running a fever. [Yes, that is right she just finished her antibiotics on Sunday from strep throat and now just two days later she is running a fever. Will stayed home and took her up to Kelsey Seybold to see our new pediatrician.]

When I got home here is our conversation:

Bella: You go bye bye and Daddy and I stay home.
Me: That's right, I went to work and Daddy stayed with you.
Bella: I'm sick, I'm not feeling very well, we went to the doctor.
Me: Oh, did you go see the new doctor today?
Bella: No. We didn't.
Me: Are you sure? I think you did go see the new doctor.
Bella: No, he not new, he was old.

Bah hah hah. Kids are funny.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Random New Year's Thoughts...

So it is a new year and my head is full of all kinds of random thoughts.

Thoughts about Will:
Will has lost over 20 pounds and is growing a full beard. It’s funny, sometimes I catch a glance of him out of the corner of my eye and he looks so different to me.
Will always thinks of me, puts me first in every way. After ten years, I still feel lucky!

Thoughts about Jacob:
He is talll. Tall compared to other kids his age. His 5T jeans (bought in September!) are all too short now. I need to get him a couple more pair of size 5 ones.
He is very interested in numbers, calendars, maps and time.
He talks all.the. time.
He asks questions, he absorbs everything.
He has an excellent memory.
He still has very emotional responses to things, like a toddler, but it is decreasing in frequency. This morning Bella was in a rage over having to wear a coat and Jacob told her “It’s cold outside, you have to wear a coat. Mommy and Daddy just want you to be warm.” He is growing up.
For over a year Jacob has been very specific about the exact order in which he would perform his “bathroom business” such as brushing hair, brushing teeth, nose spray etc. If one step was missed or done out of order then he would start over again or else have a meltdown. Recently he told his Dad that he thought he would be OK with switching things up a little bit now and then.
He is eating a few more foods now. In recent months we have added spaghetti and spaghetti sauce, hot dogs, hot dog buns, whole grain English muffins and a return to two foods he ate when he was smaller but then dropped: macaroni and cheese and Boca chikn patties. Hooray to a few more foods!

Thoughts about Anabel:
She is fine to go and down the stairs on her own.
She is still too short to open doors; although she loves closing doors and so she gets stuck in closets and bathrooms every day. “Hey guys!” she yells.
She is learning to ride her Christmas tricycle.
She is not as accepting of as many foods as she used to be but still eats a larger variety than Jacob.
She is very tough, if she falls or scrapes her knee she just hops right back up and keeps going.
She has one pink blanket that she loves and carries around everywhere.
She has a huge vocabulary. I understand her speech the best of anyone, so sometimes I have to translate a bit but she can speak tons of words. She speaks full proper sentences and even makes little jokes and plays on words.
She loves to scribble and color and draw.
She loves Scooby Doo. Fervently. She would watch Scooby Doo for HOURS if I let her. My mom got her a pair of Scooby Doo pajamas – she loves them and wears them as often as they are clean.
She weighs 28 pounds but has finally grown tall enough that her size 24M and 2T clothes are the right length now. She is lengthening out overall, losing some of her baby roundness. She is still pretty solid though. I’ve seen her rough house with the kids in her class, she is tough and has a low center of gravity, she holds her own.

Thoughts about me.
I am settled in at work. It no longer has that “new” job feel.
My hair is over 30 inches long. I will keep growing it until it gets in my way.
I am itching to create or build or do something; in no particular order: I want to bake some bread, make my own yogurt, start (and finish!) a crochet or knitting project, paint my laundry room and get back the abs I had in college.
I also really need a pedicure.
Find myself hungry for God’s word lately. I am desperate to spend time alone with God and then disappointed in myself for not figuring out how or when, I try at night and in the morning but am so tired and my mind is just numb. I wish there was a midday mass I could walk to from work. I need quiet; I need to hear His voice.
I have been reading the blog about a woman whose husband is very seriously mentally ill. He hasn’t left their one room flat in 6 weeks. He is afraid the Freemason’s are after him. This Sunday she was going to tell him that if he didn’t cede control of the finances and get help that she would leave (not divorce, just not live with him any more). I am completely riveted to this blog. I hope she is OK.

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