Thursday, August 31, 2006

Barium for breakfast?! My favorite!


Ok, now that I'm back from 7th grade, let me just say, if you don't have to get an upper GI done, don't! Of course, why would you?

My "temporary" physician (it's better than the other nicknames I have in mind...I am not fond of this woman) ordered an upper GI to see if my little heartburn problem had caused any real damage.

So, here's how it works.

First, you put on a stylish hospital gown, preferably one that leaves a draft coming in the front so that you feel you will expose your chest at any moment. Check.

Second, you take a little cup with crystals in it and throw them all in your mouth at once, chasing them with another little cup of fluid. The little crystals start reacting at once in your mouth, sort of like medicinal Pop Rocks. Heres the tricky part: you have to swallow them really quickly, so that they pop in your esophogas/stomach and expand, leaving you full of gas...and you can't burp. Or at least, they tell you not to. This process fills you with "air" so they can get a better look. Check (interspersed with quiet burps).

Third, and my personal favorite (note the sarcasm), you start to drink big gulps of chalky, lumpy barium. Mmmmm. In this third step, you will stand up, get x-rayed, then lay down, and get more x-rays. I almost couldn't drink anymore on cue. That was the worst part! Check.

Fourth. While lying down, roll over. Roll over again. Roll part way. Lay on your stomach, lay on your back. You get the picture. Check.

Fifth, you drink a thinner version of the barium mixture. On cue. While lying down. Check.

And if you're lucky (like me, yippee!), at the end, they'll tell you that you're fine.

I guess that the peace of mind was worth drinking and eating all that stuff. Thank God!!

Scrapbooking at Cut It Out!

Last weekend, I got together with a new friend for a little scrapbooking. Luckily for me, there is a new store in Louisville, CO called Cut It Out that has tables where you can work. And the owner Trish is super nice!

My friend Steph and I had a lot of fun (although I'm afraid that we might've talked more than we scrapbooked) and got a bite to eat at a local New Mexican style restaurant. I tried a bite of her flan, which was very good, I must admit. I've never tried it before because the texture looking a little "wobbly" for me. But this was more like a soaked cake texture.

I managed to finish my second scrapbook, which covers the second year of my son's life. I plan on doing three more to cover the first 5 years of his life. My first two have turned out so cute, that I can't wait to finish the rest and start working on a school scrapbook for him!

Trish demonstrated the Cricut (pronounced cricket) machine for us, which is like a printer, except that it prints out a die-cut design. Just put in the cartridge with the style font/graphics you'd like, type in the design and press go. It was pretty darn cool. You can even feed in whatever kind of paper you'd like the design to be cut out of, so it coordinates with your page.

We'll be getting together again on September 9th, and I'll post the event on My People Connection. My People Connection is a great site that allows users to host events and sign up for events (with no fees to them) as a way to meet new friends. And they do mean friends...this is not a dating service. Which makes it so great, because married folks like me can attend events and there is no pressure, just nice people who like to do stuff!

If anyone out there is in the Boulder/Denver area and would like to come hang out on September 9th, check out MyPC about a week before and I'll post the information. It's free to attend and you only purchase what you like from the store as needed (they'll open a tab for you).

Cut It Out

Louisville, CO 80027

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Isabella at Last!! Congratulations to Kristi!

My blog-friend Kristi has just announced the arrival of her beautiful baby girl. Please congratulate was a long and difficult journey!!!

Congratulations Kristi!!! She's beautiful.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Cat Photo and a Crazy Week!

What a crazy week.

My son started 1st grade. I've been volunteering at a local thrift store that benefits the Birds of Prey Foundation (this has been fun...I'm redoing their jewelry case). I've had a doctor's appointment, a portrait studio sitting and tomorrow I'm hosting a scrapbooking event through My People Connection.


But most importantly, I've been reading every possible moment and falling in love with the main male character in Outlander by Diana Gabaldon.

Ladies, this is a book for you. This is similar to what they would call a "chick flick". I guess this goes in that category "chick lit".

Boy, oh, boh. It doesn't have a photo of Fabio on the cover and, in fact, it has been recognized for it's historical and geographical accuracies. But even so, it certainly does make my blood pump.

It won't teach me how to increase my income; it won't teach me how to improve my personal relationships.

However: I don't care.

This is reading for the sheer enjoyment of it. It's an indulgence when I read it. Like eating a ripe strawberry. With champagne. By the fire. With some hunka-hunka Scottish love next to me. Well, you get the picture.

The story is about an English woman who falls slips through a "door" back in time over 200 years. The year is 1743. The place is Scotland. Everything is different in that time period and the main character is trying to find her way back home to her husband and 1945 without being hanged, raped or who knows what else, and along the way meets Jamie.

I'm doing it quite the injustice above, so I'll just say that I strongly recommend the book. You won't regret it!

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Going back to basics: Glazed Carrots


Some days, I look at the kitchen and that is the feeling that comes rushing to the surface (not so unlike my acid reflux problem): frustration.

What am I going to cook for dinner? It's only a matter of time before someone else actually asks me that question. What am I going to tell them?

Since I can't very well tell them, "Shove off, I'm not in the mood...," I have to change the way I think about food.

My husband always manages to prepare some ultra-easy, piece of cake meal that makes everyone happy. And sometimes, I feel like a little knowledge (and a small budget) can be a dangerous thing.

I know just enough to know that I want to make miraculous meals that make my family swoon, but I also know that - well - I'm tired. I'm tired and I don't have three New York strip steaks in the fridge to whip out.

But I also know and have to remember that food, at its most basic, is simple.

And when I can remember that, we're all better off.

Here is a simple side dish, suitable for chicken, pork, beef, or any hot meal.

Glazed Carrots
Serves 4

1 pound medium carrots (about 6), peeled and sliced 1/4 inch thick on the bias
1/2 teaspoon table salt
3 tablespoons granulated sugar (although I prefer brown sugar)
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
2 teaspoons lemon juice
Ground black pepper

Bring carrots, salt, 1 tablespoon sugar, and chicken broth to boil, covered, in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat; reduce heat to medium and simmer, stirring occasionally, until carrots are almost tender when poked with the tip of a paring knife, about 5 minutes.

Uncover, increase heat to high, and simmer rapidly, stirring occasionally, until liquid is reduced to about 2 tablespoons, 1 to 2 minutes. Add butter and remaining 2 tablespoons sugar to skillet; toss carrots to coat and cook, stirring frequently, until carrots are completely tender and glaze is light gold, about 3 minutes.

Off heat, add lemon juice; toss to coat. Transfer carrots to serving dish, scraping glaze from pan. Season to taste with pepper and serve immediately.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Cherry Cream Cheese Tarts

These mini-cheesecakes are a wonderful alternative to bustin' your hump for hours, and you still get to enjoy that delicious, light, cream cheese flavor and the fruit topping of your choice. People always remark about how good they taste!

I recommend that you share them with friends, family and neighbors to avoid that "oh-my-god-I-just-ate-12-mini-cheesecakes" feeling.

Instead of spooning the cream cheese mixture over the vanilla wafers, I pour mine into a large ziptop bag, close it, and cut off a corner for a quick piping bag. Much, much easier!

When you first pull your tarts out of the oven, they will be these gorgeous rounded top muffins.

But before you know it, they will be cooled...and sunken. Don't Panic.
This is supposed to happen. Place your fruit topping in the indentation, it fits perfectly!

Cherry Cream Cheese Tarts - AKA Blueberry
Recipe courtesy of Paula Deen

2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened (they MUST be softened...can't skip this step)
1 cup sugar (white, granulated)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 eggs
12 vanilla wafers
1 (21-ounce) can cherry pie filling or other pie filling

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Place a paper cupcake liner in each cup of a muffin pan. Beat cream cheese with a handheld electric mixer until fluffy. Add sugar and vanilla, beating well. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Lay a vanilla wafer, flat side down, in each muffin cup. Spoon cream cheese mixture over wafers. Bake for 20 minutes. Allow tarts to cool completely. Serve with cherry filling on top, or pie filling of your choice.

Friday, August 11, 2006

You're On Notice!

This was too funny! I saw it over at Interrupted Wanderlust and had to create my own.

If you want to create your own, go here.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Eldorado Springs

On Thursday, we went down and checked out Eldorado Springs, about 20 minutes southwest from where we are.

It is a beautiful canyon between rocky outcroppings of mountain, which you are very likely to see daring climbers ascending high above you.

Eldorado Springs Aug 06

There is a freezing cold river that you absolutely have to walk into (don't ask why, it's a river, do you need another reason?) and hunt for unique, sparkly and colorful rocks.

Eldorado Springs 2 Aug 06

There are trails that head off in different directions, including one which is wheelchair accessible.

I saw a group of four young climbers in the middle of a climbing lesson with their instructors helping them into harnesses. I saw a small Asian family grilling some little foil packages over some very fragrant wood charcoal.

I saw lots of flowers and a few bugs. Here is one very cool bug:

Eldorado Springs 3 Aug 06

Some lovely purple flowers:

Eldorado Springs 4 Aug 06

Some chokeberries (no, actually, they won't make you choke):

Eldorado Springs 5 Aug 06

It was a fun day and a beautiful place. We got out just before it started pouring, too!

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Dinners, easy as 1, 2, 3!

I love fondue.

I love the idea of this wonderful, interactive food and also love the taste.

However, making fondue sometimes just doesn't seem convenient.

And while there is something to be said about working hard to make a meal and enjoying the fruits of your labor, there is also something to be said about working smart with quick-to-prepare foods that offer less work and great quality.

Usually, quick-to-prepare and great quality don't go hand in hand. But luckily for me and my family, two meals this week fell under this category with much success.

The first, was Voila from Bird's Eye.

Voila comes in the freezer section and is easily and quickly prepared in a skillet.

I tried the Three Cheese Chicken with radiatore pasta, carrots and broccoli. The most important part: my son liked it. The next most important part: my husband and I liked it, too!

The veggies weren't overcooked, the chicken wasn't rubbery or grisly, and the pasta was perfect.

The second meal that I had this week that fell into this category was fondue.

No, you say, fondue that is quick and easy? Yes. It's true.

If you have ever seen this package and wondered if it was any good, here's your answer: YES.

Swiss Knight Fondue is a quality product that is half gruyere and half swiss cheese and tastes so similar to a pot of fondue that I once slaved over that I was shocked the first time I tried it.

I served mine with some kalamata olive bread, some parboiled white potatoes and some blanched broccoli. Dinner with flair in no time flat!

So next time you're looking for a quick meal but don't want to stop at the local burger joint, try some Voila or'll be glad you did!