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I’ve learned…

don'tstop

 

What the what?!?!  I thought I would brush the dust of this old blog and write a post.  Where have I been, you ask? Well, it’s an excellent question. I have been under construction.  All of me has been under construction; mentally, physically, emotionally…I’m in the process of being revamped. I’ve learned the hard way that my life without the ol’ man isn’t a life I want. Although I love being behind the camera, I’ve learned that every once in a while, I need to get in front of it or there won’t be any pictures at my funeral.   I’ve been seriously evaluating what’s really important to me and making positive changes in my life.

I have put focus on my health.  I have become a Beachbody Coach, and I love it.  I suck at the business part, but I love the products. I love the workouts and I’ve come to not go a day without the Shakeology.  I have made changes to my diet in the past 6 months I would have never done say 3 years ago. I’m eating clean. (Expect some clean recipes in the future!!) I’m exercising everyday.  I’m meditating everyday. My life is so much better and I feel great.

And the final result?  Is a better me, but still under construction.  I have come to determine it’s ok.  It’s ok that I don’t have all of my shit together yet.  It’s ok that I’m still trying to figure life out.

2016

NewYears

Well, 2015 has come and gone, and I’m not sure where it went.  For me it was a good year, with just the normal ups and downs. I will definitely take that, and pray that this year is the same.  I spent some time doing some self-improvement. It’s been good for me and probably everyone around me. I’ve been spending a good amount of time at the gym and started guided relaxation at home. Before bed. Ok…so I fall asleep to the guy subconsciously talking me off the bridge but whatever.  I’m limited on free time. On the up side, I think it’s working. I feel good and a little less anxious about well… just about everything.

What’s on tap for 2016? I have no idea. I never have any idea. My best laid plans go to the shitter. This is the year to just wing it. Don’t get me wrong, in my mind’s eye I have a vision of what I how I would like this year to go. Clean eating in on my 2016 list of goals for example.  I read something on Facebook that really stuck with me.  It was a sponsored ad from clean eating site. All it said was “If you think buying Organic is expensive, you should see the cost of cancer.”  Nothing profound, but powerful nonetheless. I work in oncology, and I know the cost of cancer. I guess it was just a different perspective that you know, but you don’t think about. Off to the library I went to research the latest health trend. And it does make sense. Clean eating for the whole family will be a big challenge, but one I’m going to take on. Wish me luck. It will be a work in progress for everyone. Especially since I had a chocolate chip cookie this morning. And this afternoon. Get off my back. I went to the gym 4 days this week.

I’ll keep you posted.  Happy New Year!

There’s no confusion about soup.

Is it me or does this time of year cause a lot of anxiety and confusion?  I went to the mall yesterday to just look for a skirt for Autumn’s band concert.  The mall had Christmas decorations up. Christmas music was playing. SANTA WAS ALREADY THERE! When the hell did Santa get to the mall?  It used to be a big production! Is it Christmas season already? I missed the turkey. I’m so confused.  And then I get all anxious because all the decorations and music and Santa make me feel like I’m super behind!  I haven’t started shopping.  I may have thought about it, but nothing is purchased. I don’t have room for the tree. I don’t have my 25 Days of Giving plan together yet. I still have “It’s ____ Days Until Halloween” sign up for Pete’s sake! Don’t get me wrong I LOVE THE SEASON. When it’s appropriate; like after Thanksgiving. Oh! And fuck you Hallmark Channel for sucking away all of my free time. I effing love all of those stupid Christmas movies.

Rant over.  What’s going on in our neck of the woods you ask? I mean, it’s been a while since I’ve been on here. You can thank Hallmark. Just kidding! Luckily for you, you haven’t missed much. I’ve been behind the camera a lot over the past few months. It’s a lot of work but I love it! I’m working on a blog page showcasing my work. That certainly is a work in progress. I took a WordPress class. I haven’t taken a class in years! All it did was just prove I have a lot of work to do to make my blog awesome. I’ve increased my gym schedule. Trying to get a rockin’ bod for 2016. Probably should stop eating the Halloween candy eh?

Ms. Autumn is fantastical.  She’s kicking 5th grade butt. French Horn is going well. She was invited back to Solo Fest in January.  I’m super proud of her!

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Although here where I live it’s been unseasonably warm, which is fine with me by the way, it will soon get chilly. I found (via my inbox from a coworker at work, thank you Taste of Home) this soup over the summer and tried it the first cold day in the autumn.  It’s delicious. All 3 kids, and the ol’ man love it.  It’s perfect for a cold day.  I’ve altered it a little since I like my veges.  You know, rockin’ bod for 2016.

Italian Tuscan Soup

  • 5 Italian turkey sausage links without the casings
  • 2 Onions, small and chopped
  • 6 Garlic cloves, minced
  • 32 oz Chicken broth, reduced sodium
  • 1¾ C Water
  • 2 Cans (14½ oz) Diced Tomatoes, undrained
  • 2-9oz packages Cheese Tortellini, refrigerated
  • 1-6oz package Fresh baby spinach, chopped
  • 1 Medium Zucchini, cubed
  • ¾ tsp dried basil
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • Shredded Parmesan Cheese
  1. Crumble sausage into a Dutch oven; add onion.  Cook and stir over medium heat until no longer pink.  Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer. Stir in the broth, water and tomatoes. Bring to a boil.
  2. While it’s coming to a boil, in a separate fry pan, lightly saute the zucchini, for about 5 minutes, or until softened.
  3. Back to the soup. Add tortellini; return to a boil.  Add the zucchini. Cook for 7-9 minutes or until the pasta is tender. Stir occasionally. Reduce heat; add the spinach, basil, and pepper.
  4. Cook 2-3 minutes longer or until spinach is wilted.
  5. Serve with sprinkled cheese.

 

italiantuscansoup

 

italiansoupcollage

Zucchini Fritters and Puppies

Wow.  Has it been 2 months since I’ve been on this thing? Seriously, where does the time go?  Somehow I’ve missed the whole month of August.  We’ve made it through summer school, the 2015 soccer season and camp. We had a death of a puppy, then we acquired 2 more puppies. Now it’s already autumn.  And who doesn’t love Autumn?

I’ve never had puppies. Ever. Dogs really aren’t my thing. But the kids were super sad about the passing of Tinkerbell. We went to the pound and we looked. We found a little one named Diva. I wasn’t opposed to Diva, but she was adopted before we got the chance to. For the record, the idea of brand new, fresh out-of-the-womb-puppies wasn’t even run by me. These puppies that we have are little, and not trained. They are like babies. They whine, and cry and shit every where. The kids will take care of them he said. The kids. The same ones who simply can’t put their dishes in the dishwasher are going to train and take care of the puppies? Diva was trained, just saying.  These puppies, albeit very cute, are a pain in the ass. I’m going to leave it at that.

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Kids are back at school! Who else is doing a little dance? I love the start of school.  It’s like New Year’s Day. Everything is fresh and new.  This year we have a senior, a junior and a 5th grader. Already Ms. Autumn in the 5th grade, with the attitude of the senior. Seems like yesterday she was just starting kindergarten.  Who am I kidding?  It seems like she was just a baby! The school gives the 5th graders an iPad this year.  Who on this planet thinks it’s a good idea to give her an iPad? She’s cute, and smart; but she is as clumsy as clumsy can get. Why?  Why do they do this? And yes, I took out the insurance. And yes, I’ve already started saving for the deductible.

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It’s fall.  I’m so excited for football, and Halloween, and falling leaves and crisp mornings. Don’t forget pumpkin. Pumpkin every-freaking-thing. But I’m not quite done with summer.  A co-worker of mine put this recipe in my inbox.  I think I’ve made it a half dozen times since. I added corn once to it even.  It’s a nice light, fresh side dish. So delicious!  And I know you still have a zucchini or two lying around.

Zucchini Fritters

  • 1 1/2 lbs   Zucchini, grated
  • 1 tsp. Salt
  • 1/4 C All purpose flour
  • 1/4 C Parmesan, grated
  • 2 Cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1 Large Egg, beaten
  • 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  1. Place grated zucchini in a colander over the sink. Add salt and gently toss to combine; let sit for at least 10 minutes.  Using a clean dish towel or cheese cloth; drain completely. I mean, really make sure it’s dried completely.
  2. In a large bowl, combine zucchini, flour, Parmesan, garlic, and egg; season with salt and pepper.
  3. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Scoop tablespoons of batter for each fritter, flattening with a spatula.  Cook until the underside is nicely golden brown, about 2-3 minutes. Flip and cook the other side, 1-2 minutes longer.
  4. Serve immediately

zucchinifritters

 

 

There’s always room for Ice Cream!!

It’s National Ice Cream Day!!  I honestly don’t think there needs to be anything more said. Ice cream is like the f-bomb of the food world.  When you win the big game, what do you do?  You go get an ice cream. When you break up with your significant other, what do you do?  You sit in front of a sappy movie and eat ice cream. You eat it straight, in a sundae, in a milkshake or over pie.  My favorite?  Vanilla ice cream over a warm chocolate chip cookie.  Yummm  I love parties that have a sundae bar!  So much fun!!

I don’t indulge too much into regular, full fat, normal ice cream.  I usually do the extra churn reduced calorie ice cream, or frozen yogurt. Trying to keep a healthy lifestyle and my girly girl figure. And ice cream makes my gums itch.  Doesn’t stop me though!

Caramel corn milkshake. OMG..Food Network. You are truly evil! This recipe from them is heavenly.  I made it a few weeks ago for Ms. Autumn’s sleep over.  The girls LOVED it.  The recipe is for 2 servings.  But I used small mason jars and got 4 servings out of it.

Caramel Corn Milkshakes

  • 1 Cup Caramel Corn
  • 1 Pint of Vanilla Ice Cream
  • 1/2 Cup Milk
  • Pinch of Sea Salt
  1. Pulse caramel corn in a blender until finely ground.
  2. Add vanilla ice cream, milk and salt.
  3. Blend until smooth
  4. Top the milkshakes with caramel corn and a drizzle of caramel sauce

caramelcornmilkshakes

Don’t forget about the prize!!!

From “Mommy” to just “Mom”

It’s been a work in progress. I’ve noticed little changes here and there.  But it finally happened.  My little girl is no longer “little”.  I used the (“) because she will ALWAYS be my little girl.  At 10, she’s no longer little. In the past few weeks things have happened.  She now sits in the front seat of the car; and was very proud that she could call shotgun on the oldest and actually mean it.  She’s begging for Jordans for the school year, so she can be cool. She doesn’t understand why she can’t have a smart phone. You know, because all her friends have phones. I’m no longer allowed to give her kisses or say “I love you” to her when I drop her off at camp.  Apparently, it’s embarrassing.  The most notable change?  I’m no longer Mommy. I’m just Mom. Oh, it’s said often, and usually with some sort of demand.  But that’s the change that’s breaking my heart a little. Mom. Not Mommy. We’ve gone from this:

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to

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Dear fantastical daughter of mine:

I know you are growing up. You are growing up, and I’m growing old. Those are facts.  Here are a few other facts for you. Fact #1: I’m also proud that you get to call shotgun, and mean it.  But now the game is real.  If Allison calls it before you, suck it up and get your ass in the back seat.  Those are the rules sweetheart. Just learn to be smart enough to call it for the ride back. Fact #2: I don’t know what fucking Jordans are. Like any supportive mother, I Googled it.  News Flash: You will get sneakers I can afford.  Your feet grow too fast for me to spend $100 on sneakers every 3 months.  Fact #3: You my love, will not have a phone for at least another 3 years. I don’t give a shit that all of your friends have smart phones.  They probably have Jordans, too.  I DON’T CARE. And if you keep asking me for one, you’ll be 16 before you can hand out your digits. Or your dad pays for it.  You know the answer to that. Fact #4: I gave birth to you. I labored for NUMEROUS hours with no epidural.  When I drop you off at camp, I will give you kisses. I will tell you I love you.  No one goes through that much pain unless they truly love something; that my dear is you. I am your mom. Your mother. Your Mommy. I will embarrass you for the rest of your life. Deal with it. Just think of it as payment for all those temper tantrums you threw in Target when you were 2. For the record, oh wee one, for me to tell you that I love you isn’t embarrassing. It’s essential. I need you to know that I LOVE YOU.  And given the amount of times I have to tell you to clean your room, it will take a while for it to sink in.

Can’t wait for the teen years.

Love,

Mom

 

 

Chocolate and a Sweater. Summer 2015.

Ah Summer. I love summer. Sundresses and sandals. Long walks on the beach and picnics. Warm nights with a cool breeze and mosquito bites. Salads and meat on the grill.  This may be true where you are right now. Today, I’m in a sweater and muddy sneakers. I mean, it’s warmer in Alaska than it is here.  What’s up Mother Nature?  Who pissed in your Cheerios this month?  We only get 3 months of summer! Get your shit together and give us some sunshine! The up side of this weather rant? There is no snow.

Good news!! Everyone is moving on to the next grade.  Well, with a little help from summer school for the oldest. Now let the childcare games begin! And may the odds be ever in your favor.  I’m going to start petitioning for year round school. Seriously, I have 6 weeks in the middle of summer break covered.  This year, one week prior to camp, and 3 weeks after camp, I will be frantically looking for childcare.  My sister takes her a lot, which is greatly appreciated, but still there is so much running around.  Selfishly, I’m finally in a gym routine.  Not that I’ve lost a single pound, but still the routine is there.  All the running around mucks it all up!  Who has time for all that?

The. Whining. Stops. Now.  Moving on…

On a much brighter note, I helped photograph a wedding last weekend. It was a beautiful wedding.  Yes, it rained. Luckily, all the outside shots were taken before the heavens opened up!  Editing give or take 800 photos is a lot of work. Creatively, it’s a lot of fun. But time consuming!

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Since I have about 200 more edits to do, I leave you with this.  If you are experiencing any sort of summer and are looking for an easy ice cream treat, this is it.  If you are in need of a chocolate fix, this is perfect.  Triple Chocolate Brownie Bites. We all need a little chocolate now and again, even if you are on the wagon.  That’s the great thing about these babies!  They are small. And super chocolaty.   The original recipe is from Food Network Magazine. The idea is they resemble Snow Caps that you get at the movies, but you eat them at home while watching movies there. They used donut holes not brownies.  Well, I tried the donut holes, and they didn’t work out so well for me.  The mini brownies worked great!  I was, like always, short on time.  I purchased the already-made-for-you-thank-you-Danny-Wegman mini brownies.  Of course, you can always bake your own using your favorite brownie mix and a mini muffin pan.

Triple Chocolate Brownie Bites

  • 1 package Mini Brownies
  • 1/2 gallon Slow Churned reduced calorie chocolate ice cream
  • 1-12oz package semi sweet chocolate chips
  • Nonpareils, optional
  1. Set the ice cream out at room temperature just to soften (about 10 min)
  2. Cut the brownies in half.  Set in freezer for about 10 minutes, just to set a little.
  3. When the brownies are hardened, and the ice cream is soft, spoon about a tablespoon of ice cream on the bottom half of the brownie. Set the top part of the brownie over the ice cream, making a sandwich.
  4. When all the brownies sammies are finished, set in freezer again to set.
  5. Meanwhile, in a double boiler, melt chocolate chips. (I add a tablespoon of shortening in with the melty chips, it just gives it a shine)
  6. When the chips are melted, take the brownie bites out of the freezer; pour over chocolate sandwiches. Tip: if you set the sandwiches on a cooling rack, set cooling rack in a cookie sheet lined with foil, it makes clean up sooooo much easier.
  7. Sprinkle the nonpareils over the top.  Freeze.  Store in an air tight container in the freezer.

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Maybe if you eat one of these fantastical little babies, you will have a hot flash, and need not worry about a sweater!

 

 

J.T. Carlton

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