Friday, February 28, 2014

Eat Some Strawberries Today

Why yesterday, February 27, 2014, was National Strawberry Day is beyond me.  It's the middle of winter, and I wouldn't think it's peak season for strawberries in most parts of the country.

But I am not the one who decides these things.  And, I will keep wondering who is it that picks these National ______ Days, anyway.

My father often tells a story with great fondness of a time when I was very small.  Perhaps I was about two years old at the time when this strawberry event occurred.

He was working in his garden out in the back yard and had taken me out there with him.  After a very short time of weeding and cultivating with me happily playing nearby, he turned to check on me.  What he saw was a happy little toddler with both hands full of strawberries, and a face quite dripping with strawberry juice.

He had been happily gardening.  I had been happily eating.

When he looked at me, I smiled and said, "Draw bees.  Eat draw bees."

To this day I like strawberries, and just looking at that header picture up there makes me want to stuff my face with them.

Even though I don't have any fresh strawberries today, if I did, I'd be making the following two recipes.

The first recipe comes from Karen, from her blog "Karen in the Kitchen."  She posted the recipe for these strawberry towers in her blog on April 20, 2012.  What takes my eye about this strawberry recipe is that it's a little exotic, yet simple to eat.

If I were having an Academy Awards Party on Sunday, I'd be making these strawberry towers for my guests.  I'm not having a party, but I may make them anyway.

The other recipe relative to strawberries, or any other dip-able fruit for that matter, is a very delicious fruit dip.

I found this dip recipe on the website Yes We Coupon, although I have made very similar versions of it before, too.

Simply mix together the following:

1 8 ounce cream cheese
1 7 ounce jar marshmallow creme
1 cup powdered sugar

Cut up fruit and dip away.

Well now I've gone and make myself hungry.

Guess I'll be spending some quality time with some strawberries.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Moose Steaks

We are certainly expanding our culinary adventures here at the Thomas household lately.  Proof of this fact is that there is one papaya in our refrigerator and there are were some moose steaks in there, too.  I still don't know what to do with the papaya, but the moose steaks were delicious.

Several weeks ago a co-worker of my husband's gave him some frozen vacuum packed moose steaks from a recent Alaskan hunting trip.  I promptly put them into our freezer, as I have no moose meat recipes anywhere in my collection of cookbooks.

However, we are game (haha, I crack myself up) for anything, so I went to my computer, and as always, Pinterest came to my rescue with a recipe for moose meat that looked promising.

This recipe for Moose Steak Marinade I found on a blog, "Live the Alaska Life."  Kara shared this one in her blog on May 9th, 2012.  It's a keeper.  Well, I take that back.  I won't be putting this one into my collection of recipes, because it's simply too infrequently that I have occasion to make moose meat.  Perhaps if I lived in Alaska...

Anyway, here are the ingredients you will need to mix together to make your marinade:

1/3 cup of soy sauce
1/2 cup of olive oil
1/3 cup of lemon juice
1/4 cup of Worcestershire sauce
1 Tablespoon garlic powder
3 Tablespoons dried basil
1 Tablespoon dried parsley
dash of pepper

Mix all together.

Put moose steaks into a large ziploc bag and add the marinade mix.
Man handle it all around so the meat is covered on all sides with the marinade.
Marinade for six hours, flipping the bag over after three hours.

Grill and enjoy!

For dinner, I served the moose steaks with some boiled potatoes and a colorful mix of veggies.  It was a delicious meal, and we found the meat to be quite tasty, yet not as tough as many beef steaks.

My only regret is that I hadn't invited company to join us for dinner.

They would've been impressed!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

A Weird Snow Phenomenon

This post is generously offered for the enlightenment of those folks that are convinced my hubby is the teller of tall tales.

Now I know that on a very rare occasion Bob has been known to tell a whopper or two.  And, boy can he embellish those tales he tells.  But, after 35 years of marriage, it has become hard for him to get one by me any more.  All I have to do is look into his eyes, and I immediately know if he's making up crap or not.

However, throughout this endless winter we are having, a winter that is setting records with its snowfalls, he has told about a snow phenomena that he has seen numerous times.

Snow donuts.  Yes, snow that Mother Nature herself has made into the shape of donuts.

These folks say he's nuts.

I say he's telling the truth for once in his life,  and in this blog post I have the evidence.

This past weekend on our little road trip, we were passing through a snowy area in Hamburg, Pennsylvania when we zipped over to the side of the road to take the following photos that will prove to any naysayers that snow donuts are FOR REAL.

Snow donuts, or snow rollers as they are sometimes called, are formed as the result of an ideal combination of temperature, snow, and wind.

See for yourself:

So there you have it, folks.  Snow donuts are REAL.  And now you will know without a shadow of a doubt that Bob is a genius, and that you should believe whatever he says.

The rest of our trip home was uneventful.  We saw a lot of very dirty snow which needs to go away soon.  

Also we passed this leftover Christmas manger scene in which the shepherd seems to be holding off a catastrophe:

As for me, I'm just about snowed under for this season.  Enough's enough.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

On the Road to Paradise

Paradise, Pennsylvania, that is.

Theater lobby
Yes, we went road tripping again over the weekend, heading to the Lancaster, Pennsylvania to attend a dinner theater production of "Weekend Comedy" at the Rainbow Dinner Theatre in Paradise, PA.  Paradise is somewhat in the same general area where Blue Ball, Pennsylvania and Intercourse, Pennsylvania are located.  Weird names, but nice places to visit.

This was our first experience at this venue, and our initial look into the lobby gave a very good impression.  After our host greeted us warmly at the door, we were escorted into the dining and stage area.  They were obviously prepared for all newcomers, as we were kindly presented with a first-timers package of information and a coupon good toward the next show.

This dinner theatre is an all comedy place, and this show, "Weekend Comedy," was no exception.  The dedication to comedy was evident from the prominently placed quote on the wall in the lobby area.

This was a story that many of us old coots can easily relate to.

Eager to rekindle the romance in their marriage, Peggy persuades her husband to take a weekend vacation in the Catskill mountains.  There's only one snag - their secluded one bedroom cabin has been accidentally double booked by a young couple who are unable to keep their hands off each other.

The "cabin" set and dining area
The decision to share the tiny cabin for the weekend is a formula for disaster - and laughs - as youthful exuberance collides with middle-aged stodginess.

This was a very funny and thought-provoking performance, accompanied by stellar service and delicious dinner fare.

As photos are discouraged in most theaters, here are a few I've found on the internet.  The cast members in these photos are both directors and cast members of the Rainbow Dinner Theater.

We enjoyed our road trippin' date night thoroughly and would recommend that anyone traveling to the Paradise area of Pennsylvania check the Rainbow Theatre schedule and book yourself a fun-filled evening.

I even walked away more thankful than ever for the wonderful old coot of a husband with whom I've shared my life for the last 35 years.  

He's pretty awesome, and this show certainly helped remind me of how lucky I truly am.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Self Reduction Adventure: Week #2 Report

Week #2 of my Self Reduction Adventure has just concluded.  Although it seems like I've been working at this for months, it has just been a mere 14 days.  I attribute that to the fact that I am still in a "suffering" phase.  Still struggling to break ugly longterm habits.

Just to catch you up a bit in case you are new to this adventure of mine, here's a recap so far.
One of these per week


To cut out all evening snacking completely.  Nothing to eat between supper and bedtime.  I'm still fighting to break this bad habit.


To consume only one 16 ounce soda within a week.
To consume only one small glass of wine or adult beverage within a week.


1.  I received in the mail my order of the Les Mills Body Combat Workout program.  Now I can look at it and at least wish I was in shape enough to begin using it.  I know that may sound strange, but weirdly enough, that is a small thing that inspires me to greatness in the future.  I've been very able to do those types of workouts in the past; I'll get there again.

2.  I drank my entire weekly allowance of soda on Tuesday, just one day into the week.  Why did I do that?  I badly wanted a soda every day for the rest of the week, but I did reach my goal of consuming only one.

3.  Appropriately, I had a margarita (my one allowed adult beverage of the week) on Saturday.  In case you didn't know it, that day was National Margarita Day.  Who decides these things?  Whatever, I celebrated and still kept to my goal of just one per week.

4.  There are an increasing number of fruits and vegetables in my refrigerator these days.  I am trying to stick to the advice of most nutritionists who recommend shopping mostly only around the perimeter of the food store.

5.  Son Caleb tells me he will smash my scale to smithereens if I obsess over the numbers on it.  He suggests weighing myself maybe only once a month.  I suggest daily.  For now, at least.

6.  Tonight I'll be trying a new recipe using moose meat.  If you look closely in the picture, you will see several moose steaks.

7.  Son Caleb received notification just this morning that he had "won the gold" in a fitness challenge that was issued by Tony Horton a month ago.  Tony Horton is a well known fitness guru and is the exercise guy featured in all those P90X fitness programs produced by the Beach Body fitness company.  Click on this link to watch the video Horton posted featuring the challenge he issued and the winners:


3.2 pounds (YAY!)


3.6 pounds


From now on, any time we eat out, I will split any restaurant meals in half, eating half there and taking the other half home.  In my experience, serving portions at most restaurants are enough for two meals.

In addition to this new goal for week three, I will continue using the goals from the first two weeks.

This is definitely a work in progress, and it won't be finished overnight.

To be continued....

Friday, February 21, 2014

Baked Broccoli Recipe

It has been quite a while since I posted anything in the crafty and/or cooking Martha Stewart style department, although don't think I haven't been crafting and cooking.  In fact, I've been so crafty around here lately that I completely missed one entire holiday.  Valentine's Day zipped right by us here.  There were no cupidish/heartish things placed around, nor were there chocolates and flowers.  In fact, the fireplace mantel sat there bare as could be.  The hubby said I should've just left the Christmas nativity set there all the way until next Christmas.  But nah, that's not how I roll.

Sometimes life gets in the way of our best laid plans, though, doesn't it?

Some of the craftiness must wait to be shown until after a certain upcoming baby shower.  Some of the recipe trials, too.  Just know that there has been lots of good cookin' and craftin' going on here in these parts.  I wouldn't want you to think I've been laying around watching soaps and eating bon bons.

Here's one interesting recipe I tried recently and decided is a keeper.  This one comes from Teresa Price, the administrator of www.ThinItToWinIt.info.


1 head broccoli

2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced

2 to 3 Tablespoons olive oil




Cut up the broccoli into florets and make sure it is completely dry.

Place all the ingredients into a large Zip-loc bag and give it a good shake.

Line a baking sheet with foil and spread the broccoli out on the pan.

Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes.  The edges will be a bit toasty and browned.

Usually when I make spaghetti, I serve it with salad and garlic bread.  For this meal I replaced the salad with this baked broccoli, and it was delicious.  

Broccoli is one of my favorite vegetables, and I was so glad to find yet another delicious way of preparing it.  I would imagine you could make a similar recipe using a head of cauliflower.


Thursday, February 20, 2014

Snow Haters' Antidote

This past weekend, following the Memorial Service for my sister-in-law Sherri, her husband (my brother Chris) and several family members retreated to our cabin up on the mountain for some comfortable family time together.  

My mom and dad
Due to the 18-20 inches of snow up there, we had to park our truck and then ferry ourselves and our belongings from the entrance to our property in to the cabin by snowmobile.  Son Caleb drove me in on the back of his snowmobile while I held puppy Sheila tightly between us.  Keeping a frightened 70 pound weimaraner on one's lap while zipping through the woods on an open vehicle is no small task.  The tops of my thighs are bruised from her claws digging in, but we did make it safely to shelter and warmth.

Although parts of our country have experienced a very difficult winter, a winter that is not over yet, gliding through this winter wonderland on a sunny, crispy cold day always gives me a new appreciation for the seasons and the beauty of an unspoiled snowfall.

Son Caleb, along with his lovely girlfriend Stacy, made this little video with his GoPro camera.  This is the incredible beauty we experienced in our few days up on the mountaintop.  Enjoy the ride.

It was truly a winter wonderland:

At one point, nephew Luke commandeered a minor skirmish on the kitchen table:

As always, a crackling fire and our trusty clothing dryers keep us in warm attire.

There were plenty of chances for much needed relaxation.

The time up there seems to always be speeded up somehow, and before too long it was time to return to civilization.  It had snowed another four inches overnight during our last night.  We loaded up the snowmobiles and headed back out.

Another beautiful weekend spent up there with family, playing in the snow.

I just can't hate snow.  It's too pretty.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Self Reduction Adventure: Week #1 Report

It was approximately one week ago that I launched my self reduction adventure.  Since baring my soul and making it public in a blog post, which you can read here if you missed it, numerous readers have encouraged me and asked me to make public my weight loss journey.  Several have even asked if we can be accountability buddies.  It would seem that losing weight and becoming more healthy is a very common endeavor these days.

So, with all of the very kind and positive feedback, I've decided to give a report at the beginning of each new week.  Normally I will plan to do this on Mondays, but as I was away spending time with family at and following the memorial service for my sister-in-law, this first report is a bit late.

Several people have point blank asked me what I have defined as my goals, so I will spell them out here.

GOALS - There are three:

1.  Lose weight slowly and safely until I am at a healthy BMI (Body Mass Index).  For a person of my height, the middle of the healthy BMI range is at a weight of about 145.  That means I have a lot of weight to lose.

2.  Be able to participate in some strenuous sports as I did before.  Kickboxing and Judo.

3.  Maintain a practice of healthy eating that I can sustain for the rest of my life.

METHOD - The Compound Effect

Basically I will make lifestyle, dietary, and exercise changes, one week at a time, compounding them over time.  At this time I am not able to do much physical activity due to some injuries and surgery.  I will incorporate exercise into the mix later.


My plan for the first week was to eliminate all evening snacking completely.  Nothing to eat at all after dinner.  I knew that this modification would be extremely hard for me.  I did accomplish my plan this week, as there were no evenings in which I snacked.


1.  Thank you Sharon and Sarah for offering to be accountability partners with me throughout this journey.

2.  Thank you Pamela for offering to support me in prayer.  I will certainly return the kindness.

3.  For now, I have decided to step on the scale every morning and record my numbers.  I may change my mind about this later.

4.  The husband/lover/best friend decided to join me on this adventure, but apparently forgot that the evening he sat next to me eating pretzels out of the bag in front of me.  He probably lost five pounds this week just thinking about it.

5.  I spent a bit of time thinking about and researching possible future exercise regimens, and as always I gravitate towards the martial arts/kickboxing/boxing types.  I may start eventually with a walking program like Shapely Girls or Leslie Sansone's "Walk Away the Pounds."  Later I will progress to Les Mills "Body Combat."  I ordered the Body Combat program, because I know that having it in my possession will inspire me.  Finally, I will return to the gym for kickboxing and possibly judo.  I do like the social aspect of working out with others, but I know that I must feel confident first.

6.  I cannot deny that evenings were very tough.  I wanted to eat snacks.  I really wanted to eat snacks.  I thought about it every five minutes.  It's a bad habit that won't die without a fight.  I'm a fighter though, and I will win.

7.  I attended the memorial service for my sister-in-law on Saturday.  I found myself wanting to find comfort foods throughout the next few days.  Grief makes me want to comfort myself by eating.  That is another tough battleground.


I lost only 4/10 of one pound, which I found a bit discouraging until I looked up what a picture of one pound of fat looks like.  See it here, in all its grossness:


In addition to the changes of week #1, for week two and thereafter, I will reduce my soda intake to only one 16 ounce soda per week and my adult beverage intake to one small one per week.

These are tough battles for me, but I am tenacious.
Hang on, this ride might be bumpy.

Friday, February 14, 2014

The Valentine's Day News From This Neck of the Woods

Happy Valentine's Day, everyone!  I hope there is somebody in your life upon whom you can shower some special  lovin' today.  Make sure you don't forget those pets, neighbors, store clerks, and yeah, even the houseplants need attention once in a while.

Granddaughter Ellie is dressed up in her special Valentine outfit for school today.  She's also got her classroom Valentines all made up and ready to go.  Ellie says, "I've got my eye on you!"

Son Caleb is somewhat economically challenged these days, as he is just getting a new business established.  He used his noggin and very resourcefully created a dozen roses for his girlfriend.  Watching a 26 year old young man trying to do rose origami is somewhat surreal, but hey, what girl wouldn't be melted by an effort like that?

He also handmade his Valentine card for her, and he tells me he is taking ingredients to her place where they will make some "healthy" pizzas together.  I'll wait to hear the report from the female end.

While Caleb was finishing up his roses, his other special girl brought him a valentine.  Isn't she a sweetheart?

In other news, I received word that twin granddaughter Tori has finally lost the matching tooth to her sister's.  Now the husband/lover/confused grandfather says he has no hope of being sure of who's who.
I don't know - they're twins, but to me they don't look alike.

Brianna and Tori
I recently received a new bank card from my local bank, following the Christmas season Target security breach.

According to the Washington Post, "The Target department store security breach already ranks as one of the worst ever.  During the peak of holiday shopping in December, Target said that up to 40 million customers' credit and debit card information had been stolen from people who shopped in stores from November 27 to December 15, 2013.  
     Later the company said a new group of 70 million customers - some of whom might also have had their card data stolen - have had their personal information compromised, as well."

All of that makes me want to think twice about shopping at Target right now.  Or anywhere, for that matter.  Again, I'm utterly amazed at the evil some people can conjure up.

Somewhat trapped inside these days by the snowstorms that keep hammering our area, I've kept myself busy with behind the scenes prep work for a very special upcoming baby shower.  I can't reveal more than that at this time due to a extremely nosy and very pregnant daughter, but let's just say I've blistered the tips of my fingers over the last two days using my glue gun.

 I think there's a book along those lines, isn't there?

The memorial service for my sister-in-law Sherri, who died last Thursday, is scheduled for tomorrow.  I'm hoping our travel to there is not too difficult.  The area where it is being held had 20+ inches of snow yesterday and last night, and another 3 to 6 inches is predicted for tonight.  Ironically, Sherri hated the cold and snow.  She was a California girl, through and through.

We'll definitely be taking our boots, packing a few survival rations, and driving our four wheel drive truck.

And, all the while I'll be thinking of sunnier and warmer days ahead.  Spring is coming.