Thursday, January 30, 2014

Grilled Cheese Win

Linda had a blast with Penelope today on their Thursday play date.  She seemed to really like the muffins that Linda made the other day.  You can tell by her expression she thought they were yummy. 
Wow!  These are good Nana!
Speaking of best food ever, that award has to go to Linda's lunch today.  It was a 100% slam-dunk delicious spur-of-the-moment kind of meal.  No Pintrest or cooking blog recipe, she just made it up as she stood in front of the refrigerator.  (Right now her fingers are so frozen that she keeps typing gibberish and having to auto-correct the words because she can't tell where her fingers are on the keyboard.  Yes, its still freezing in our house.)  This is the best grilled cheese sandwich she ever ate.
First you must use two slices of fresh Spinach and Feta bread (from Great Harvest Bread Company.  It's a local bread bakery that does some amazing things with dough.  Since you probably don't live anywhere near one, the sandwich probably won't taste as good if you use regular bread) then spread a light layer of minced basil and olive oil on the inside. Add sliced fresh mozzarella cheese on top.   Next mix chopped artichoke hearts and slivered sun dried tomatoes together and spread over cheese.  Grill.  It would have been great as a panini, but since we don't have a panini maker (and there isn't $ for one in the budget) grilling the sandwich worked fine.   She almost made the same exact thing for dinner but opted for a salad instead since she is trying to eat lighter in the evenings.

P.S.  She just googled panini makers.  You can get a basic one for under $25.  Hmmm... maybe she can squeeze it in the budget somehow.  

Wednesday, January 29, 2014


Could it really have been 114 degrees in Linda's car?  It seems like a lifetime past, but it was only two summers ago when she took this picture. Given the choice of being sweltering and being frozen, Linda would pick sweltering 100% of the time. Even though it has been this cold (or colder in the single digits) the past month, for some reason it seems way worse to her the last few days.  She is just freezing right to the bone.  The heat is set on 70; but it feels so cold in the house she keeps checking to see if she left the sliding glass door open or the air conditioner kicked on.  If she watches TV or reads, she wears her parka and a scarf.  Getting in and out of the shower is just brutal.  Maybe our heat isn't working right.  If she turns it up just a few degrees, it gets super warm.. fast.  As long as she keeps in around 68 or 70, the house is an igloo.  The anticipation of a double or triple increase in the electric bill is forcing her to keep the thermostat set low.  If only we had a fireplace she would probably spend the night in a sleeping bag right on the floor in front of the toasty flames. 
Chimi knows the secret to keeping warm.  Stay pressed up against Linda at all times.
"Get in my belly Chalupa!"
Linda found this old picture of Snickers having a Chalupa snack.  Look what a giant beast he was!  He was the most gentle and protective dog ever.  Part of the reason that Linda picked Chimi to adopt was because they have the same exact coloring. They could have been father and son.  (Totally different personalities though.) 
It still makes her sad that he is gone


Ugh, gym classes are canceled again this morning.  Linda had a sinking feeling when she woke up at 5:10 a.m. that she wouldn't be working.  After checking the closing/delays on her phone..sure enough, schools delayed 2 hours.  When that happens, gyms usually don't hold their groupX classes.  There is barely a dusting of new snow and our road (which is a side road and a little bit hilly) looks totally cleared.  By 9:00 a.m. Linda had done her devotions,cleaned the whole house, laundry was done and put away, and she made these melt-in-your-mouth healthy muffins.  It's super easy clean up because you just hand stir and everything is made in one bowl!
The recipe only has a little added sugar because it is sweetened with 3 large bananas and Greek yogurt.  She decided to add some different mix-ins since there wasn't any sprinkles in the pantry. Three have dark chocolate chips; three have walnuts, three have mini-M&M's (those are for dessert) and three are plain.  There was enough batter left for a mini loaf pan too. 

Aunt Tierney calls Penny "Muffins" 
Penelope loves the Dora coloring book that Nana gave her for doing so great with her potty training. She basically figured the whole process out in 3 days (with a lot of help from Mommy.) I'm sure there will be accidents but she is totally into the big-girl Princess underwear and tells Sarah when she needs to go. 

While Linda was cleaning this morning, she stepped out on to the deck to wipe the dog paw prints off the outside of the sliding glass door.  The Windex froze right to the glass!  In an instant there was just a sheet of ice.  Linda tried to wipe it off, but the Windex just made more ice and it wouldn't budge.  She was afraid to use warm water on it just in case it cracked the glass.  Hah!  I guess school got delayed because its only 9 degrees out and not from the 1/8" of snow!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Prima Penelope

It's been awhile since we reported a cable TV issue. Every few months something goes wrong.  Linda only watches cable TV (Hulu is different) about once every two weeks, so she never knows how long it was actually broken.  She wanted to catch-up on White Collar and found out that surprise! there wasn't any audio.  The TV audio isn't broken because Hulu was working fine.  The repair people were able to fix it remotely, so no service visit was necessary. She actually almost knows the serial number on the cable box by heart since she has had to report so many problems. It's a good thing Sarah keeps sending Linda a steady stream of Penny photos, it keeps things in perspective.  How can you get irritated at snafu's with such cute pictures to look at? 

Check out those ballerina toes! A future Prima Ballerina

  Linda hasn't been cooking to many new recipes lately.  (Not counting the waffles on Sunday!)  She is using up all the freezer meals she made before she cooks something new or just eating fresh salads.   Desserts, that's another story.  Today for lunch she had some Berry Shortcake.  The biscuits weren't homemade and she didn't put sugar in the berries to make them syrupy, but it still hit the spot!
Very patriotic looking.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Just Saving Lives

How come its so much colder in the house when Linda sets the heat at 68 instead of 70?  The two-degrees that she lowered it before she left for church about made us Pup-sicles!  She went ahead and put it back to 70 when she got home. We can already feel the heat kicking in and the house getting warmer.  In the meantime, thank goodness for thick blankets! 
"Mister, Mister... are you OK?"

Linda is so glad she went to her CPR training today.  There has been a lot of changes in the way CPR is done, so it is important to stay current.  The important part is learning how to use the AED or automated external defibrillator.  It was an option to stay and do the Infant CPR training, but its something she really wanted to learn.  Only 5 of the 17 people in her class stayed, so each person got their own baby. 
Don't worry Penny, Nana loves you best
There was time after the training for Linda to come home to shower and eat before church.  Ever since Tierney posted the picture of the Nutella Belgium waffle she had on Saturday, Linda has been craving one in the worst way, so she decided to make her own..  There wasn't any Nutella, but she used chocolate chips and whipped cream as toppings instead. They turned out pretty amazing.  The key is to beat the egg whites into frothy peaks and then gently fold them into the other ingredients.
Halfway done!
This Belgian Waffle maker is about 25 years old.  She hasn't used it in over 20 years, but it heated right up when she plugged it in!  Half way through cooking she added the chocolate chips and then cooked it another minute.  Next time she'll mix the chips in the batter. She was afraid it would make the iron too hard to clean.  Instead of regular milk (which Linda doesn't keep in the house) she used vanilla sugar-free almond milk.  The recipe said it was for ten waffles, but it only made five. Oh well, they should freeze OK and will make great toaster oven meals when she gets home from late night classes.

Something funny happened to Linda while she was at the gym today.  She got to the CPR class an hour early so she could run.  The only treadmill available in the cardio-cinema was the first row about 2' in front of the giant screen.  Linda has pretty bad vertigo and motion sickness, so it's a little disconcerting for her to be that close to the action.  At one point in the movie the actress tripped and fell down the steps.  While the actress was tripping, Linda thought she was the one actually tripping and she stumbled on the treadmill! It was so embarrassing because everyone saw her almost face-plant.  It's a good thing it was so dark, maybe no one recognized who she was.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

53 Days Til Spring

Pizza party!
Sarah made another one of her amazing pizzas for dinner last night.  It's Linda's absolute favorite kind of pizza ever.  There is a layer of blue cheese, mozzarella, kale, mushrooms and broccoli.  Sarah and Penny had pepperoni (or as Penny says "peckeroni")  on theirs.  Taylor was at a basketball game with his team, so it was just the girls for an impromptu dinner party. 

It is so cold that even the big L.L. Bean coat isn't really warm enough for Linda. The town next to us is already reporting a light snowfall.  Please, no!  We don't want any more snow.  Poor Chimi is stir-crazy because he hasn't been having walks.  The freezing temps could damage his paws on the icy sidewalks.  Plus, Chihuahua's are always cold (even big Chi's!)  He is still shivering from our 1 minute backyard visit that happened almost 10 minutes ago.
Must. Snuggle. Now.

Linda just never gets tired of waking up to a beautiful sky.  Her morning "quite time" chair faces right towards the morning sunrise. She actually went outside on the front step in the bitter cold wearing her robe and slippers to snap a photo. 
Good Saturday Morning!
"I did it!  I did it Nana!!"

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Snow Day Fun and Happy Birthday Tier

Finally, Linda got to teach all of her classes today!  Gyms are open regular hours tomorrow too.  We are ignoring the weather reports that it might snow again.  Penny has loved the snow days!  She had so much fun playing outside with her Mommy and Daddy. 

Sledding with Daddy

Shoveling with Mommy

"What? Doesn't everyone go down the slide in the snow?"

"I'm glad Nana got the ATV Wagon!"
Today is Tierney's birthday!  Happy Birthday to you!!  I love you so much!!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Italian Roots

 Snow day, again.  Two more classes canceled for Linda this morning.  So frustrating but there is nothing she can do about it since its not her decision if the gym holds classes.  At least her 2 afternoon classes will be on.  Shoveling is always a good workout in a pinch, but unfortunately it doesn't pay the bills.  This morning was the easiest shoveling job ever.  The snow was so light and powdery.

I guess Linda's 1/2 Italian roots were deeper than she thought.  The pizza came out amazing!  She has to work on her dough rolling and shaping skills though.  It was hard to get it into a perfect circle and she didn't make the edges thick enough.  The crust consistency was perfect.  It has the right amount of crisp to hold all the toppings; but still was chewy and soft.  The sauce was simple to make.  Mashed fresh tomatoes, olive oil, roasted garlic, seasonings and a little tomato paste.  The toppings:  fresh mozzarella, artichoke hearts and sun-dried tomatoes.  Even though she separated the dough into 4 mini-balls, one dough made enough pizza for two meals. 
Such great photography skills.. (not.)

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Dough Babies

It's still snowing.  It hasn't stopped since earlier this morning, but surprisingly the snow is not really that deep, nothing like a few years ago when our car was totally covered.  Linda still had to shovel a path on the deck, the stairs and a patch of grass (three times total so far) so we could go out in the backyard.
It's not really that cold outside, but Linda wasn't taking any chances so she bundled up in her sub-zero outfit to shovel. 

All her classes were canceled today, but she was super productive.  Before the roads were totally snow-covered, she went to the store to pick up a few groceries.  Then cleaned the house, made some killer baked mac-n-cheese for future meals, and finally made some pizza dough.  It might not have come out right, but since its the first time she ever tried making dough, she won't know until she bakes it.  Instead of one big crust, she made 4 little baby ones.  Tomorrow she will make her first totally from scratch pizza. 
Before picture.  It has to rise for 3 hours.

Running with Tom Cruise

There are no pink-red-orange skylines today.  This is what is outside our front door right now:
Just a wee-bit of snow lightly falling.  The roads are fine. The government, schools and Linda's morning classes were still cancelled because the know-it-all weatherman is saying "DON'T LEAVE YOUR HOUSE!! 7-10" OF SNOW IS COMING!"

"Let me back inside!  It's a blizzard out here!"
  Linda woke up at 6:30 a.m. with this nagging sensation to go fill the car with gas.  It had about 38 miles still on the tank, and she planned on getting it later on this afternoon when she went out (if she went out) to teach her evening classes.  She couldn't go back to sleep because it was pinging-pinging-pinging in her mind to "go get gas right now."  How strange, but she decided to go... in her pajamas and sneakers.  After she filled-up she realized she wouldn't be getting a workout this am teaching, so she just went to the gym since she was already 1/2 way there.  It's a good thing her pj's are old workout tights and a baggy tee shirt.  She ran in the pitch black cardio-cinema because she looked like she just got out of bed... which she did so no surprise there.  An action movie was playing where Tom Cruise is running from the bad guys for 30 minutes straight.  Linda pretended she was dodging bullets and ran fast right along with him!  Thanks Tom for making Linda faster!!

All the running made her super hungry (she didn't eat breakfast or even drink water before she left the house.)  What's better than hot oatmeal on a cold morning? 
Hot oatmeal with fresh blackberries, walnuts and cream- that's what!  If the storm gets bad and Linda really is stuck home today, she is going to have to battle the 11 remaining cupcakes from ending up in her belly. 

Monday, January 20, 2014

Linda's Cupcakery

Going into the bakery today got Linda's cupcake craving going.  Instead of doing a chocolate or something she has done before, she picked a Brown Butter Toasted Coconut recipe.  Lucky for her, she had all the ingredients in the pantry and fridge. 
She could have left them under the broiler a little longer to brown more, but the butter was oozing out of the muffin tin into the bottom of the oven.  The recipe called for 12 cupcakes, but she really had batter for 13 and overfilled them a bit.  Anyway, they are DELICIOUS!  Moist and rich and probably about 500 calories each.
Linda's My Fitness Pal exercise calories burned today:  1,282!  Splurge earned!!

Linda was talking to Tierney about Chimi's inability to run on a leash.  Tier made a good point.  Maybe Chimi is a "special" dog and she shouldn't try to mold him into her idea of what a dog should be.  After all, she doesn't make me run since my legs are only a few inches long plus I have breathing issues.  Chimi is physically a beast, but mentally he isn't all there.  Linda decided to take him back out this afternoon and only walk.  Boy-oh-boy, was he a happy camper to just walk.  He was going fast and leading the way. No flops, skids to a stop or melt-downs.  Remember earlier today they did 2.25 miles in 28 minutes?  This afternoon they did 2.25 miles in 35 minutes.  That's only 6 minutes slower.
 The 35 minutes includes pee stops (for Chimi, not Linda), smelling 30 mailbox posts, and stopping to wait and cross a 4-lane busy road twice!  I guess from now on she won't make him run unless he wants to.

Snow is in the forecast for tomorrow.  But today 50's degree weather was so nice! Linda sure enjoyed being outside today enjoying the beautiful skyline! 

Sunrise this morning

Sunset this evening

Black Beauty and a Garmin Record

First, we'll do Black Beauty.
A life size horse!  See the tiny ketchup bottle?
Linda took Tierney to Clyde's for a pre-birthday celebration lunch today.  Clyde's is an all-American type restaurant that serves all-American type food.  It's at a nice town center where they could see everyone ice skating in the rink right out the window.  There are three rooms:  The horse room, the nautical room and the old-time airplane room.  Guess where they sat?   Linda got the baked apple, walnut, goat cheese salad.  Tier had some sort of she-crab soup and they shared a flat-bread with walnuts, honey, and blue cheese. (Tier made the "OK, this is strange" face.  Linda loved the tangy, sweet, crunchy combination of flavors.)
The goat cheese was fried!  YUM!!
Linda stopped in at The Red Velvet Cupcakery after they ate but came out empty-handed.  Honestly, the cupcakes were small and expensive so she passed.  It did inspire her to make some sort of cupcake this afternoon though.  Maybe a Red Velvet?

Now for the Garmin record.  It was finally nice enough for Linda to run outside.  She taught her Pump and Combat, and then just stayed in her workout clothes that were already sweaty.  (No sense double the laundry, right?)  Chimi just begged and whined to go with her, so she caved and took him. BAD MOVE.  Or should I say NO MOVE?  He was just terrible today.  Here's where the record comes in.  Yesterday, Linda shaved another 30 seconds off her 5K time... 28:10.  Today she was going to try to shave 30 more seconds off.  (So far every time she has tried to beat her previous run, her time has gotten better.)   She should have known taking him was a mistake.  It was the slowest run of her life! In the exact same time, 28 minutes, she only was able to run 2.25 miles and it was the worst Garmin run she has had yet.  Thanks Chimi.  Linda even found a light stick on the trail to encourage him to go faster.  Of course she didn't hit him (don't worry), but she did use it to hit the ground behind him.  It would speed him up for 5 seconds, then he would stop and flop.  If she ever gets another dog, it's going to be a good running companion.
Yes, that was running (trying to run anyway) the whole time.
"But wouldn't you rather have a good cuddle companion?"

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Hit and Miss

We had our walk with Jerry this morning.  He tries to come most Saturday's while Linda is teaching all her classes.  When Linda and Jerry got divorced, they stayed friends.  I was really Jerry's dog, but he let me live with Linda.  *Well, and also because she would have probably not given him a choice if he didn't offer. HA!

Jerry plays with me like he is another pup.
Sometimes I go to his TH for a sleepover.  I pretty much have him wrapped around my paw.

Linda tried out a couple of knew baking recipes this afternoon.  She loves her new mixer so much! It is so easy to use and does such a fabulous job.  The first recipe came out delicious.  They are Toffee-Blondie Brownie bars.  4 stars.  They would have been 5, but she used the wrong size pan to cook them and they are too thin. These were a hit!

Since most of the ingredients were out and the kitchen was already a mess, she made these chocolate chip cookies.  About 5,000 people reviewed the online recipe and everyone loved them.  Except they just didn't work for Linda.  There wasn't enough flour.  (Yes, she was careful to check and recheck to make sure the ingredient amounts were correct.  She never made cookies were the dough was that sticky and wet, but all those people couldn't be wrong.) 
The cookies spread too much, were as thin as paper, wouldn't brown, and all the chocolate chips puddled in the middle of the cookie. Before she put more in the oven, she added a cup more flour.

This batch was puffier, but they still didn't brown properly.  These are a miss.  They actually don't taste bad though.  Maybe she could crumble them up and use them as a mix-in for her banana ice cream!

It's been a whole week since Linda has done any running.  The cold/sickness just wore her down.  Tomorrow she is going to get back to her training, but won't be pushing for a new low time or extra miles.  If she wants to keep eating all these desserts, she better lace up those running shoes and strap on her Garmin!
Check out what's for dinner.  Roasted yellow & red mini peppers topped with Cous-Cous, kale, tomatoes, corn and mozzarella cheese.  And a Blondie for dessert!  (Chimi and I are having chicken..surprise!)

Friday, January 17, 2014


Try not to be too jealous of Linda's dinner tonight.  She is feeling better (although still very congested, phlegmish and coughing a bit) but she is getting her appetite back.  All she could think about was a salad for dinner.  Not a normal lettuce and tomato salad, but this salad:
A mix of organic spring greens with chopped apples, grapes, strawberries, blackberries (fresh!) walnuts, feta cheese, craisins and the most amazing Panara poppy seed dressing on the planet.  She ate it really slow to make it last a long time.  Even Chimi was begging for a bite.

If you want to make an easy, delicious super healthy ice cream (and you don't have your Kitchen Aid ice cream attachment maker yet!) try this:
Put one frozen banana (slice it before you freeze it), just a little Silk Pure Almond chocolate, a few dark chocolate chips and a sprinkle of coconut in the Ninja blender (or any heavy duty blender or food processor.)  Press go.   Freeze for an hour, or if you are like Linda, just eat it right away because you can't even wait that long. If you don't care if its healthy, you could add mix-ins like peanut butter cups, M & M's, peppermint patties, use Vanilla Almond Milk; the possibilities are endless.
A few extra chips on top to make it look pretty
 Penny had her first ever breakfast at IHOP this morning.  She has found her new favorite "FOOD!"  When Penny is hungry, she starts yelling out "FOOD!- HUNGRY!" until you cave and give her something.  She might say EGGS, CHEESE, GRAPES, OATMEAL, SAN-WICH, RAISINS or PRETZELS" Today they went out for a special treat meal at IHOP. Sarah said she just shoveled her pancakes and eggs in her mouth saying "IHOP, IHOP!" over and over.
These IHOP eggs are so much better than Daddy's eggs!
When she woke up from her nap later in the day, she whined and cried that she wanted "MY PANCAKES, more IHOP."   Sarah will have to keep an IHOP to-go cup and one of the take-out menus at home so Penny can look at it while she is eating in her highchair.
"Life is so hard"
 Linda's crushed fingers just finished being totally healed from the Body Pump mishap 2 months ago.  The ring that she couldn't wear on that hand now fit because the swelling went down.  Today in Pump she did the exact same thing on the same hand, except it was the tips of her fingers.  She has to rush between songs to change the plates on the bar, and once again.. she clipped her fingers in between plates. 
Her top two knuckles and one nail is starting to bruise, but its not nearly as bad as the last time.  She just needs to slow down and take an extra 15 seconds between sets.  Besides being clumsy, this is her favorite Body Pump release in a long time!  Yay for BP 88!!