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Mar 31, 2009


It's spring break and I'm keeping it simple!
Last night we had a simple supper of chicken tenders (Tyson from Sam's Club) tossed salad, biscuits (Pillsbury), and green beans sauteed with whole wheat orzo (Bella~Mella). It was simple yet tasty. But what made it even more enjoyable for me was using pretty serving pieces. The salad bowl is from Pier 1, but I got it for $2 at a thrift store last year! The Flamingo platter is fun with the perfect spot for honey mustard.

Tonight I am serving another simple supper: Crockpot potato soup and toasted cheese wedges. Even though it is in the 80's here, we like soup any time of the year.

Word Walk

The boys asked if I would take them to a local park today. As they tested their fitness in the fit circuit area of the park, I ran a little and walked a little. I had my mind on developing a new teaching topic. Knowing I had a little Gideon Bible in my van, I stopped and picked it up just to double check the wording on Philippians 4:8. As I continued my route of running/walking I memorized, "Finally brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy~ meditate on these things."

My learning style is visual but I find it easier to concentrate when I am walking/running. So that would be a combination of visual/kinesthetic.
Do you know how you learn best? Are you a visual, auditory, tactile or kinesthetic learner?
Do you know how you can use this to your advantage?

Mar 27, 2009

A New DoTellMel post & Healthier Banana Muffins


A new DoTellMel post ~ Living La Vida Diva! Another Devoted Woman here.



Whole Wheat Banana Muffin


Since I am not consuming sugar or artificial sweeteners, I tweaked a couple of recipes and came up with this version which uses a small amount of honey.


For more Saturday Stirrings recipes, visit Carol @ I Throw Like A Girl.


1 C whole wheat flour


1 C self rising flour *


1/2 tsp. baking soda *



1 tsp. baking powder *


dash of sea salt




1/4 tsp. cinnamon


1/3 C oil


2 eggs


3 mashed ripe bananas


1/2 C buttermilk


1/4 - 1/2 C honey (I used 1/4 cup.)



Mix dry ingredients. (If using all purpose flour, then adjust recipe to: 2 t. baking powder 1 t. baking soda.) Stir in bananas, oil, eggs, buttermilk and honey. Makes a dozen muffins.


Bake in lined muffin pan @325 for 20 - 25 minutes. I use the "toothpick" method to check if middle is done.



Verdict: I enjoyed mine toasted with a bit of butter or a bit of cream cheese. One Fine Man liked it best toasted w/butter. Tech~Son sprayed whipped cream on his. Skate~Boy passed. Guitar Girl is doing South Beach so she did not do the "taste test." Guitar Girl's beau gave his approval on toasted w/butter. Two of my taste testers said the muffins could be sweeter. Keep in mind, I only used 1/4 cup of honey. As for me...muy delicioso!

No More Beauty Shop Boo Boos - DIY BEAUTY!




I hope I haven’t scared the mousse out of anyone with my beauty shop boo boos!
These mishaps occurred over a period of years. I don’t highlight my own hair anymore. I do the base color and Susan, a real stylist, does my highlights. Last time she gave me highlights and lowlights. ‘Loved that! While I do prefer my fingernails au natural, occasionally I go to my neighborhood nail place for a pedi. But let me share where I have had real success in my DIY BEAUTY treaments.
Last weekend, I made myself an anti-aging facial of honey and orange juice. One caveat: I kept asking the kids and One Fine Man to smell my face! Good thing the mailman didn’t ring the bell.

You want the recipe, right? I thought so.
Mix 1 tablespoon of honey and a couple of drops of o.j. Spread honey/o.j. onto clean face. Help out with Spanish homework. Conjugate a couple of irregular verbs. Memorize, “El mono loco esta en el arbol.”

Time’s up. Remove mask with a warm wet cloth. Voila! Smooth, soft skin.
Or try this one: 1 T honey, 1 T yogurt (plain of course), 1 egg yolk ~ Leave on for 5 minutes and remove as above.
Honey stimulates and smooths, egg yolk penetrates and moisturizes, and yogurt refines and tightens pores.


More DIY BEAUTY to come…

Mar 25, 2009

MORE "Beauty Shop Boo Boos"












"Your dove eyes are veiled by your hair as it flows and shimmers, like a flock of goats in the distance streaming down a hillside in the sunshine."
Song of Solomon 4:1 ~ The Message

Like I said earlier, I wish I could say the "hot wax" incident was my last beauty shop boo boo. But there was that one time when I was doing my own highlights, didn’t set a timer and got distracted. This accident, if you really want to call it that, led me to a talent I like to refer to as “art”. I was able to artfully separate the pale blonde strands with just enough dark strands to get a really attractive effect…kind of like a halo! “I look great!” I told myself. Just. Great.

Another time I thought I’d try acrylic nails. But they just weren’t me. So I removed them myself at home. Two words: “ouch” and “ooh.”


Speaking of nails, I’d like to offer you one of my artistry tips." Often I find I need a quick nail polish touch up on my toes. While getting dressed, I slip on my open toed shoes, and proceed to paint only the toenails that show!

Later you can paint that last little piggy. Yeah…I’m pretty much a beauty artiste.


Wanna hear what beauty treatment I gave myself just last week?

Then come back soon!

Mar 23, 2009

My Beauty Shop Boo-Boos




"Your beauty is too much for me ~ I'm in over my head." Song of Solomon 6:5. The Message



From the time I was very young, I remember wanting to be really, really good at something. Many things have piqued my interest and I figured I could learn how to do most anything from a book. Undoubtedly, that is why I enjoy research. (Thankfully, I have never wanted to do brain surgery nor go to the moon. Although I would like to watch brain surgery.)

Years ago, pre-pc, my public library totebag included books on such diverse topics as nutrition, fitness, cooking, “real books” for home schooling, d├ęcor, fashion, marriage, parenting, homeopathy, and an array of diy manuals.

One such manual (video included!) gave instructions on cutting hair at home. You could say I had a wild hair that we could save big if the kids and husband would let me play beauty shop. On them. And because one of us had to have her hair done professionally to observe technique, my hair was not included in Project Run-a-way. As in, “Don’t run away from me when I chase you with the scissors!”
However, my attempt at family hair care was a no go due to a couple of mishaps. Involving hair. Not skin. Well…maybe a tad of skin on the ear.


Undeterred, I moved from head hair to convincing Guitar Girl into letting me wax her eyebrows. Can I just say how sorry I am? Clearly, hot wax and eyelashes are not a good combo. But thank goodness for Vaseline. I wish I could tell you that was my last beauty shop boo-boo...


Guitar Girl


(I promise there's an eyebrow under there. And an eye. And eyelashes!)


Check back for more of my Beauty Shop Boo-Boos.

How about you? Made any beauty boo-boos lately?

Mar 21, 2009

Swiss Cheesy Bread - Saturday Stirrings


Go see Carol @ I Throw Like A Girl for more Saturday Stirrings recipes!

Warning: You'll be tempted to hog it all for yourself!


1 large loaf French Bread
16 slices Swiss cheese
2 sticks of butter
1 small bell pepper
1 clove garlic, minced or crushed
1 small jar mushrooms/or fresh
1 large onion

You can play around with the components of this recipe. Use fresh or jarred mushrooms/garlic. You can use less butter...but don't cut it down too much. Omit onions if you are not an "onion person." But please, don't "cut the cheese." (A little "boy humor." I couldn't resist! Well I could, but that was funny!)
Place large piece of aluminum foil on baking sheet. Place a loaf of bread on cutting board and split French bread into 1" slices, careful not to cut through bottom of crust. Transfer bread to aluminum foil. Layer 1 slice of cheese in each split. Saute onion, pepper, garlic & mushrooms. Pour this over bread, letting it run down into slices. Cover with foil & bake at 350 for 15 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Mar 18, 2009

I HEART Heat & a New Post @DoTellMel


(If you're interested in my Living La Vida DIVA series, go here for a new post.)
(photo by Linda Charlene.)

I HEART Heat but If You Can't Take The Heat, Then I Have Another "Season"ing For You!

I don't know what it is with me and spicy food but I like it! A friend of mine from back in the college day, paid me a visit a couple of weeks ago.
She reminded me of our "runs to the border" when I would order extra jalapenos on my nachos. She laughed about how I ate with one hand and wiped the sweat beading over my lip with the other. Yeah...that was pretty.

One of our sister-bloggers actually tried my recipe for Chipotle Roast. This was a seasoning idea I came up with when I didn't want to make a run to Publix for my usual ingredients for my crock pot roast.


Then I gave you my favorite Jalapeno Cornbread recipe. Today I share one of my favorite simple dinners. And yes, there is some heat involved. Thanks for asking.




A simple dinner we enjoy is: baked salmon, roasted potatoes and sauteed green beans.


Each dish utilizes this heart healthy oil:


Have I ever told you that I sometimes use evoo to remove my make-up? Does anyone else do this?


Roasted potatoes - Rinse/scrub and either cube or slice them like fries.


Drizzle w/evoo and shake your favorite seasoning on them. I use either an Italian blend by McCormick or Alessi's dipping seasoning. Bake at 375 degrees for 30 - 45 minutes depending on the size of your cubes/slices. I always use my Pampered Chef jelly roll pan for this.

Salmon fillets - I like the Atlantic Salmon center cut fillets from Sam's Club. They are flash frozen and vacuumed sealed (6 oz. fillets individually packaged). Thaw them, drizzle with evoo and squeeze fresh lemon juice on each fillet. HERE COMES THE HEAT. I like them seasoned with Tony Chachere's creole seasoning.


But as an alternative to the spicy creole seasoning, you can season them with dill and lay thinly sliced lemons over the top. This is good, too.

Lately I have been using a cedar plank to bake salmon. Here's a cool link to learn about cedar planks.I got mine in the seafood department at the grocery store. I soak it for an hour, pat it dry and oil it lightly with olive oil. I sprinkle coarse sea salt over the top and put it in the oven on a jelly roll pan to heat on its own for 5-10 minutes. Removing the hot plank, I lay the salmon directly on it.
I like to start the potatoes first, then 15 minutes later I have the salmon ready to go into the oven. They both bake up nicely at 375 and are finished at the same time.


Green Beans - I like the Birds Eye whole green beans from the freezer section.

Using my green pan, I add my beans and a little water. This goes on at med - high heat. Stop before they are too soft. I drain any remaining water then add evoo and roasted garlic (about 1 tsp.). Saute til beans are done.

This is where I like to do the chef thing and toss the green beans. Try it. It's fun. Impress your dog! Our pup likes to watch me cook.


Add your favorite rolls or garlic bread. I cut calories by omitting bread when I have potatoes or pasta.

Do you know about the green pan? It's the only non-stick pan I'll use. Do you use a cedar plank? If so, will you share your recipe?

Any other Tony Chachere fans out there?



Another update: I have decided to go beyond my 21 day goal of no sugar, no sweetener. And I haven't had Mr. Chips in 10 days! I've lost 3 pounds. So it's all good! And SWEET!

Mar 16, 2009

Love Him Like No One Else



(Bella~Mella & One Fine Man)


Love Him Like No One Else

In January I shared a very intimate word that the Lord had given me to prepare my heart for what I knew not then. However, soon the reason for the preparation became quite obvious. The word the Lord spoke to my heart regarded loving my husband. HIS specific words were these, “Love him like no one else.”
(Go here to read the back story.)

Today I love my husband more than I ever have. I love him more now than the day I walked the aisle of a church in Georgia to stand at his side.

I love my husband more now than I did in the hours in which he was my labor coach (hee, hee, hoo, hoo). At the birth of our third child, I will never forget my husband’s compassionate gaze and his words, “You are my hero.” (‘So glad he did not say, “You are my hee, hee, hero!)

I love my husband more now than I did in the spring of our love. Besides even in the season of spring, storm clouds swirl and hard rains fall.


One summer our love suffered a season of drought. We sought shelter from the scorching heat and once again the Creator crafted something beautiful from dust. Our hearts could love again.

I love him more now than I did last year or even at the beginning of this year. Love grows when the weeds are pulled. Love grows when you water it daily. And love grows when its face is toward the SON.

Because I am loving him like no one else, Love has grown.



Update: One Fine Man is no longer using his crutches. He is limping but walking! The skin graft is almost completely closed up. He is back to work 100%. He has been riding a bike for exercise. He remains the ONE FINE MAN who has my back and holds my hand.

Mar 14, 2009

Saturday Stirrings - Jalapeno Cornbread!

For more Saturday Stirrings recipes or tips, visit Carol at I Throw Like A Girl.
Jalapeno Cornbread
Everytime I make this cornbread, I wonder why I don't make it more often. It's "flat-out" good.
1 cup cornmeal (I use Martha White corn meal mix - no need to add salt or baking soda if you use the self-rising mix) ***

2 eggs, slightly beaten

1 cup cream style yellow corn

1/3 cup oil

2/3 buttermilk

1 - 4 oz. can green chili-peppers, chopped (The amount of chili peppers you use determines the "heat" in your cornbread. I like heat so I use all of the chilis.)

1 cup sharp Cheddar cheese, grated


Combine all ingredients, except cheese, in a bowl. Mix well and pour 1/2 batter into hot, oiled black skillet (large one) or into a greased 9" square baking pan. Sprinkle cheese and cover with remaining batter. Bake @ 375 for 30 - 40 minutes. The top should be golden. Do not overbake.
*** If you use corn meal that is not self-rising, add 1/2 t. baking soda & 1/2 t. salt

My tips for great cornbread: I always use the Martha White self-rising corn meal mix. This way I never have to add additional salt, soda or baking powder. Also I always use an iron skillet. When I make cornbread I put enough oil in the skillet to cover the bottom and then some. While I mix the batter, I have the oiled skillet heating in the oven. I use the "hand over the skillet" method to determine whether the oil is hot enough. It's ready just at the smoking point. I swirl the oil in the skillet to coat the sides and then pour about 1/2 of the hot oil into the batter for regular cornbread. Stir quickly and pour the batter into the skillet. (For this jalapeno cornbread recipe, no need to add more oil from the skillet to the batter as there is already a 1/3 cup in the batter.) If you hear the "sizzle" when you pour the batter into the skillet, that is music to your cornbread ears! That means your edges will be crispy. Please do not try this cornbread unless you have buttermilk; I fear you will be disappointed.

The original recipe is from Southern Elegance (Junior League of Gaston County, NC).

My only tweak to this is using the cornmeal mix rather than cornmeal, salt & baking soda.

The last time I posted a cornbread recipe, I was contacted by Crescent Dragonwagon, the author of The Cornbread Gospels (Workman Publishing).

She very kindly sent me a copy of her book. There are over 200 recipes in her book and I have enjoyed reading about the differences in "southern" and "northern" cornbread. She includes recipes for quick breads, yeasted breads, spoonbreads and griddled & crisped breads!
If you are a cornbread connoisseur, you'll enjoy the book, too!
Happy Jalapeno-ing,
Melanie

Mar 13, 2009

Pray for Joy

Many of you are already aware of the trial that Joy from Ponderings is going through. Her father is in the hospital with complications from medical errors following surgery last week.

My heart goes out to her and many of you feel the same way, I know. Please leave a comment as a way of signing up to pray for Joy's dad & mom, for Joy and her family at noon today. Even with time differences, let's support this sister in a focused time of prayer at or around noon today.
If you came here after noon, join me in prayer again at 6:00 p.m. est.
The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much!

Melanie

Mar 9, 2009

Living La Vida DIVA! & 3 Matters of Bidness: a prize, a shortcut & a cut-out



My other blog found here is where I am now writing my teaching posts. (photograph by Linda Charlene)

If you are curious about this speaking topic: Living La Vida DIVA, click on the link!


WARNING: You are about to read an eclectic post.


First matter of bidness is the give-a-way from A Roof With A View! A Roof With A View is a fresh blog with several contributors, one of which is my blog buddy, Angela, from Crumbs In My Butter. Check out her blog and her spring nail polish picks & the cute, cute scarf that is included in the give-a-way.


Second matter of bidness is a shortcut when you make Chicken & Dumplins. (Yes. I know it's actually dumplings but I like to say dumplins. I also like to say bidness.) Although I can and do make dumplins from scratch meaning I mix the dough and roll it out and cut it into strips, sometimes I take this shortcut.


Instead of the delicious but time consuming art of dumplin' makin' I sometimes use a can of refrigerated biscuits for my dumplins. I flatten each biscuit in my hands, and using a pizza cutter I cut them into quarters (or more depending on the size of your biscuits). When my stock is at a rolling boil, I drop the "dumplins" into the pot. I never stir the dumplins as they may fall apart. Just lift the pot from the burner and swirl it to submerge the dumplins.
If you don't already have a good recipe for chicken & dumplins' let me know and I'll share mine. For now...I just thought I'd give you a delicious time saving tip!
Chicken & Dumplins ~ it's what's for dinner at my house tonight. And I served it early so I could take a walk after dinner. Because even though I will not be having dessert, I had chicken & dumplins for dinner. With cornbread. So, you know, I might need a walk. *

Third matter of bidness is I have decided to take a vacation from what may be the only junk food I eat: chips - wonderful salty, crispy tortilla chips or sour cream and onion potato chips, or original sunchips...

Mr. Chips will be going the way of sugar & the fake sweetener (except stevia). I am on day 15/21 of my sugar/sweetener free ride. Whee. My ride has lost it's ! because One Fine Man brought home a BOGO yesterday. Pecan Sandy and her luscious twin sister - Dark Chocolate & Almond Sandy. I say she is luscious but I'm only surmising as I have nibbled nary a crumb! NOT. ONE. CRUMB.


I'm going to give myself a vacation from Mr. Chips for 21 days. That is the same amount of time I picked for the sugar/sweetener. Why 21 days? The whole habit thing.


Eventually I will post on why I am taking a vacation from the sweet stuff and now the chips! It may not be why you think. Then again...it may.

Have you ever "disciplined" yourself for 21 days in hopes that it would become a habit? Were you successful?

Eclectically Yours,
Bella~Mella


* I took that walk and now I'm ready for my Florida ruby red grapefruit ~ chilled and sprinkled with sea salt. Ahhhhhhhh as good as the Sandy sisters. At least that is what I tell myself!

Mar 7, 2009

Saturday Stirrings ~ My Favorite Roast

My Favorite Roast


Chuck roast
McCormick's Montreal Steak Seasoning
Chipotle peppers in Adobo Sauce
canola oil for searing roast
sliced onion (as much as you like)


Trim fat from roast if desired.
Season liberally with steak seasoning.
Heat an iron skillet with enough canola oil to cover the bottom of skillet.
Sear all sides of roast. This gives the roast a bit of a crust and great color.
Put roast in crockpot then, with the back of a spoon or small ladle,  rub adobo sauce over roast. (I use the La Costena or San Marcos brand. It comes in a small can. Use what you need and refrigerate the remainder until you need chipotle peppers again.)
Put 2 -3 chipotle peppers on top of roast.
Top roast with sliced onion.
Add enough water to just cover the roast.
Set crockpot on high and cook roast for 5 hours.
optional ~ add peeled, quartered potatoes and chunked carrots (the carrots are especially delicious with their natural sweetness and the spiciness of the seasonins.


I have experimented with different ways to season a roast in the crockpot. This simple recipe is one I came up with when I was out of my regular line up of ingredients for a crockpot roast. But it is my FAVORITE now and I wouldn't fix a roast any other way.
The chipotle peppers add a bit of spice but also a great smoky flavor. My kids love it, too!
Searing the roast gives it great color and the outer texture is fabulous. It doesn't take much more time and is well worth the bit of extra effort.


Happy Eating,
Melanie

Mar 3, 2009

What Was I Thinking?!

Lately I have been asking myself, "What was I thinking?!"


I have some clothes hanging in a closet which I don't use often. (Neither the clothes nor the closet.) The other day I was looking for something and saw a skirt which I payed good money for and thought was cute. And I thought I looked good in it! It kind of resembles old lady drapes to me now.
What was I thinking?!


I bought a 5 lb bag of egg noodles. We are not noodle people. We are potato people. Call me Mrs. Potato Head.
What was I thinking?


I almost gave away a perfectly good black "iron" plate hanger because the stinkin' plates would not fit in the holders. Upon closer examination, I realized I had been hanging the thing upside down!

What was I thinking?


Last summer at Dillard's I bought a pair of shoes in gray - the new "in" color. The first and only time I wore them my husband said they reminded him of a pair his granny wore. They're kinda cute, aren't they? Anybody wear a 7 1/2 and you don't mind donning footwear that looks like One Fine Man's granny's shoes?

What was I thinking?


I decided to give up sugar and anything sweetened with sugar or sweetener for 21 days. Enough said.
What was I thinking?

So....I'm rethinking these choices and this is what I've come up with:

I think I'll take the skirt to GoodWill because one woman's ugly skirt is another crafty woman's pillow.

And I think I'll make beef stroganoff 2 or 20 times.

And I think I'll check for where the hanger holes are (What else do you call them?) the next time I buy a hanging thing.

And even though the shoes look better off than on, I think I'll wear them with trousers.

And since I've lost 2 pounds since going sugar/sweet free, I think I'll keep my goal of 21 days!

Those are pretty good ways to use my "noodle(s)" don't you think?
How about you? Have you had a "What was I thinking?!" moment lately?


Thoughtfully yours,
Melanie

Go to my DoTellMel blog to read Humble & Big.

Mar 2, 2009

Still the Sweet Life But I Need an Arnold



This is day 8 of my sugar free/sweet free ride! Again, Whee!!!
That means no white stuff, no stuff with white stuff and no artificial sweetener which I rarely use anyway ~ especially since I quit drinking Diet Pepsi a while back. It hasn't been that bad except for a few times when I have really wanted a Dove moment. But that was only for the inspirational quote inside the foil wrapper!
Not.


Instead of a Dove moment, I have been turning to Arnold Palmer for my moments. Not him. His famous drink:
The Arnold Palmer
1/2 tea & 1/2 lemonade in a glass w/ice
That's my glass up there. The mega Tervis! As you can see, I like my tea strong. It looks like chocolate in the picture. Hmmm. Odd.
Trust me. It's tea. I squeezed a big ol' Florida lemon to get my "lemonade." Then I added my strong tea and a little purified water to the fresh lemon juice and mixed in a little Stevia. Stevia is an herbal sweetener.
Click on the link to find out more. I figure I have my bases covered. Tea is an antioxidant and fresh lemon juice is good for your liver. Click on the lemon link to find out more. And I have not added the other white stuff.
So I'm good.

I think this is my 3rd post featuring Florida Citrus! They really should hire me to be their spokesperson.

Remember the picture at the bottom of my post about grapefruit? Only one commenter identified the mystery woman. That was RefreshMom. Check out her refreshing blog here. Oh and go back to that post and read the comments to see who the orange picker is.

Putting the "sweet" in the "sour",

Melanie