First of all

Friday, January 29, 2010

A little of this and a little of that

I made the Beouf Borg. recipe last night. I had to cook it a good 45 minutes more than it said and really the thyme is crucial to the dish because the first 1 1/2 hours it was cooking I forgot to put it in, and it was lacking in flavor. However, once it was in there it was much better.

Now I don't know what the grocery stores have against frozen pearl onions, but I could not find any! So I bought fresh pearl onions and boiled them for 3 minutes and used those and it worked well.

This week I felt I did a great job of getting the best bang for my grocery buck. I circled all the good deals on the items I needed at Fairplay and then I did the same for the Jewel flyer. Fairplay was great, they had the stuff that was on sale, you could tell it was on sale and the prices were good. Then at Jewel, they put in their flyer this FAV 4 deal where you can pick any of large varieties of meat and pay $20. The flyer lists about 10 items and then it says many more in the store! The thing is some packages are marked with a green sticker, and others aren't so how would you know what is what, there isn't a complete list of the products anywhere. Grrrrr.

I thought an hour and 10 minutes would be plenty of time for my trip to Jewel, but it took way longer than I thought. Then there I was at the checkout at 11:26am, Anna's bus get to her stop at 11:34 (ish). Everything was rung up, then it was 11:28am, I give the cashiers my coupons and 1 valid coupon will not work. She tries for a good couple of minutes 11:30, and it won't go through...ahh I'm sweating bullets, must get to bus stop, don't want to miss Anna's bus. Hurry!

The manager gets called over and says that the reason it isn't ringing up is that I cant use a coupon and also get a deal that they have printed in their paper. The deal is buy one 2-4 count package of Orville Reddenbacher Popcorn @ 3.59 and receive 1 package of popcorn free and 2 2-liters of 7up brand pops. They have a special display up on an endcap and everything. I was excited because I had a $1.00 off a package of Orville Reddenbacher manufacturer coupon. Now, I don't think that is right because the add doesn't say no other offers accepted. It just lists the deal which I took advantage of and should have been able to use my coupon. I find the deals at Jewel extremely frustrating because what they say at the store frequently doesn't match up with their ad. This is just the latest example. Maybe I would have complained, but I really needed to get to the bus and get Anna. Also, I have visited the customer service desk before and it really has done nothing but cause me to be frustrated and angry.

I bet you are asking why do I continue to shop at Jewel. I ask myself the very same questions the answers are:
1. It's very close to my house.
2. I know where everything is (except for those french fried onions you put on top of green bean casserole because they hide those! LOL
3. Hope springs eternal. Every few weeks I think I'll be able to take my coupons, get the items I need on sale and go to the checkout, have things ring up the price listed in their ad, and have my coupons work.

And that is my story, I am though going to try to shop more at Fairplay since there prices are straight forward, typcially less on most items, esp. in the deli.

In a perfect world I would have my personal assistant do my grocery shopping.
And now a guest blogger
A Story by Anna Hamel:

Once upon a time, there was a beautiful princess named Mrs. Z. (that's Anna's teacher). And she was lost in the woods and there was a big bad wolf. And it sniffled and snapped because it wanted to eat the beautiful princess.

And so the princess climbed on his back cause the big bad wolf had a big back and it was because there was a river and she couldn't get past it. The big bad wolf said climb up closer to my head cause the water was getting deeper and then it said get closer to my mouth cause the water is getting deeper.

then he said climb up to my face because the water is getting deeper, deeper, and deeper. Then he almost ate her. Then she grabbed a rope and grabbed his mouth, then other people came and they had a fiesta.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Darth Vadar and MLK Jr

Every week Patrick brings home a study sheet to review for a Test that then occurs on each Thursday. A few weeks ago it was a science test and it was about volcanoes. Each week I quiz him on the answers to the test and sign the paper to prove it.

This week was a social studies test. The topic of which was Martin Luther King Jr, his life, impact and death. I went over the sheet, quizzed Patrick, and when I got to the question, Who shot Martin Luther King Jr, the answer listed was James Earl Jones. (as seen above)

Hmm, I thought to myself, that doesn't sound quite right. I mean James Earl Jones did the voice of Darth Vadar, but that only means he can sound evil, he surely isn't actually evil. If ever there was a moment to go google something, this was it. I can't have Patrick's classroom walking around thinking Terrence Mann from Field of Dreams was also an assassin.

Did a quick google search and discovered that James Earl RAY was the man who shot, Martin Luther King, Jr. So I call and left a message for his teacher. I didn't hear back from her, but when Patrick got home a red line was through the James Earl Jones and James Earl Ray was written in it's place.

Phew a major injustice, of either the kids thinking the wrong person was the shooter, or all the kids getting the answer wrong on the test, was avoided.
I had a few minutes to go through my copy of Weight Watchers magazine that I got for free from some website, you can find deals like that on blogs like Mashup Mom and they had a section of slimmed down versions of Julia Child recipes, including her Boeuf Bourguignon. This one is not only slimmed down but it has few ingredients and steps. As I am a fan of recipes that are simple, yet tastefully, I'm making this tomorrow after a trip to the store.

Boeuf Bourguignon

2 lbs bottom round roast, trimmed and cut into 3/4 inch cubes
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 tbsp olive oil
1 can low-sodium beef broth
1 c red wine
1 16oz package frozen pearl onions
1 10 oz package cremini mushrooms
2 tbsp tomato paste
4 garlic cloves, chopped (or 4 tsp Garlic Garlic)
1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme
1 bay leaf (I won't be using that, I can't stand bay leaf)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 lb thick sliced carrots
2 tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Toss beef and flour in med. bowl until evenly coasted. Heat oil in large Dutch oven over med high heat.
Add beef, in batches if necessary, and cook, turning occasionally until browned, about 6 min.
Transfer to med bowl with slotted spoon.
Add broth, wine, onions, mushrooms, tomato paste, garlic, thyme, bay leaf, salt and pepper, bring to boil, scrapping up browned bits from bottom of pot.
Stir in beef and reduce heat.
Cover and simmer 1 hour.
Stir in carrots.
Cover and simmer until beef and vegetables are fork-tender, about 30 min.
Serve, sprinkled with parsley.

Yum, should be great w/slices of Wheat Bountiful Beer Bread.

Thursday, January 21, 2010


Since Monday my side has hurt. At I was sure it was mittelschmerz because it's just like that and the timing was right, but that shouldn't last more than a day and my side still hurts. Great, thanks for the medical update Victoria, right? But I have a point, so read on.

This morning at 830 I called my primary Doctor. I wasn't sure if I needed to see a reg. dr or a girl dr, and I thought I'd start with my reg. Dr. I called and spoke to the nurse. I told her my side hurt and I needed to see my dr. She said the next appointment they had open was today at 11am (can't get there at that time b/cause of Anna in 1/2 day kindergarten and I have to get her off the bus since I don't currently have a nanny to take care of that sort of thing for me.) OR April 9th.

APRIL 9th???!!! Seriously???

I said: Even if I need to come in because I am in pain?

She said: well you could trying early in the morning in case someone cancels... or you can take the April 9th Appointment.


All I can say is I don't know so much why people are very up in arms about the possiblity of healthcare reform, it's not like good insurance is doing me much good! I figure either w/ or w/o reform our healthcare system is a PITA.

On the plus side, I called my girl doctor and the nice nurse got me in at 415pm today. So I've got that going for me :-D

I went to Aldi this AM and enjoyed the peace and quiet of Aldi (they don't play music over the PA system) and shopping w/o Anna. One of the many pluses of shopping there is that Aldi doesn't have a ton of yummy snacky items and sweets can derail healthy eating.

Let me share with you some of the highlights

8oz fresh mushrooms 69 Cents
3 lb bag Tropicana Clementines $2.49
Bag of Salad, 49 cents
Cat Food, 32 cents

A whole cart of groceries, enough for about a week (except for us running out of milk before then) Only $75. Some people think that Aldi stores are icky or that they don't have fresh produce. However, I have found the stores to be clean and the produce just as good as anywhere else.

I purchased a pack of Center Cut Pork Chops and I threw them in the crockpot with some of the Tastefully Simple Slow Cooker Savory Mushroom Sauce. We'll have that with the steamable bag of broccoli florets and roasted potatoes seasoned with TS Seasoned Salt. The family can eat that and I'll be off to my Tastefully Simple party tonight in New Lenox!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

3 bikinis, a cover up and some sunglasses

Yep that is what I am packing for my trip to Cancun w/Tom in April. That way I wont have to check a bag and pay $25 bucks. Haha, I don't want to scare people!

My favorite Airline is Southwest. I don't really have a problem with not having assigned seating. I'd rather pick my seat when I get on than pay $25 each way for baggage. But since this is an incentive trip, American Airlines it is. Wonder what the movie will be?

Anna has been by me for the last 1/2 hour whining because I don't have any work to give her. I don't need labels on things. Then she wanted to type my newsletter, which would be great if she knew how to read. So then I said, hey Anna why don't you call my clients. And she said for real? And I said well let's practice. This is what she came up with:

Hello, my name is Anna
How are you ? Good.
Do you want to be a customer? Do you want some Tastefully Simple Food? Okay well have a party at the end of January and you'll have your food.

Monday, January 18, 2010

I Gotta Feeling that my trip rocked!

Here I am in front of the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort in Orlando, FL. Yes this is the rundown dump we had our Leadership Conference at, LOL, Of course it was a fabulous resort, that's how we roll with Tastefully Simple.

We had the most fun at the best conference to date. I say this everytime. Each conference and trip is the best ever. This one is going to have a special place in all our memories. Let me explain, as it is with most things in life. Oprah was involved.

Back in 2002, I attended my first Tastefully Simple Conference. Our conferences always have a theme. The theme of that conference was Believe. And our conferences begin and end with a Welcome address and an "Off You Go" Address from our CEO, Jill B. Strahan. Now from the get-go I noticed a couple things about these addresses. One, Jill likes quotes. and Two, Jill likes to tie in her speeches to in the days before youtube a movie and now in the last few conferences a viral video.

What the heck you say? A viral video. Yes really, the very cool inspiring ones that spread like wildfire because when you watch them you get goosebumps. For example at our National Conference in August. Jill's address was centered around Susan Boyle on Britan's got talent. How Susan walked out there and everyone laughed at her, but she doesn't let them get her down and she started singing and bam! Everyone was blown away and amazed.

This time Jill showed us the video of the Black Eyed Peas kicking off the Oprah show downtown and the dance that starts w/one person and spreads out to 21,000 people on Michigan Avenue. I would have posted a liwk to it here but well, I couldn't figure out how to do that so if you haven't seen it you really have to go youtube and put in 'black eyed peas oprah' and watch it.

Then we discussed what the Leadership lessons were in the video. Such as, as a Leader sometimes you may feel like the lone woman up there dancing by herself, but if you are having fun and you put yourself out there, the next thing you know people want to join in.

But wait that isn't the really fun part about the story!

On Saturday morning, two consultants came onto the stage, Jody M and Leigh H and said. You know what? We were thinking wouldn't it be fun if we all did the dance to that song, here tomorrow morning and surprised Jill? And then there was thunderous applause. So whilst our CEO was off leading a panel discussion in another conference room, Jody and Leigh taught us the dance. And in 17 minutes we had the plan and had practiced. With the help of the HQ team at the conference, and about 600 consultants who can keep a secret, Jill was none the wiser.

Sunday morning Jill walked out the the I gotta a Feeling song, because that was going to be her walk-on music anyway, and we all stood up and clapped because that's what we do.

And then Jody was standing in front of the stage dancing all by herself, crazy lone woman dancing and Jill laughed and had a look on her face after Jody was dancing for about 15 seconds, a look like,
"Okay Jody, I get your point, why don't you go sit down now."
Right about then the 32 Senior Team Mentors started following Jody
and then the music picked up and !!! Everyone was dancing. The whole room. And Jill cried. Because really imagine, all those people, your sales managers so to speak, are fun enough, and care enough to give you your own Oprah moment.

It was such fun. Stuff like that never happened when I worked in an office!

When we sat down I saw that one of the resort employees was on his cell telling someone what had happened and how he thought we were great. Wonder if he recorded it on his cell and uploaded it to you tube!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

I don't like winter

Woohoo, I'm leaving tomorrow morning for Orlando, Florida!!! I am so glad to be going! I don't like winter. I don't like being cold and trying to run w/o falling on ice, and I don't like wind chill factors. The only thing I like about cold weather is Golden Winter Soup (butternut squash recipe) and boots. Other than that, give me warm weather, heck give me loads of humidity. And fresh fruit, and salads and grilled chicken, etc etc etc.

I was thinking that I should send a client newsletter tonight before I go, However, I am going to wait because I really shouldn't spend the next hour doing work on the PC instead of spending quality time with the family. IE ask them to be quiet and stop fighting 500x.

For the Tastefully Simple leadership conference we are staying at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort, which looks really nice. And icing on the cake, rather literally is that the resort's excecutive chef is award winning Pastry Chef David Ramirez who loves making chocolate creations. Ahhh yummm. Good thing I ran 8 miles today in preparation for some delicious desserts this weekend. :-D

The things I love about these leadership trips is 1. Earning them for free, 2. Staying at really nice resorts, and 3. It's the weekend of MLK day which means no one has to work/go to school at my house the day after I get back, so I can relax from my relaxing trip Sunday night and not worry about getting people out first thing Monday Morning.

And now I have to go play the comfy pillow game with Anna. This is a game she made up. :-D

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Recipe and the Biggest Loser

A new season of the biggest loser started last night, so to go with that I made a new healthy recipe that I felt was lacking something, it just needed some more flavor. This one is meatless. :-D Maybe it was because I substituted swiss chard for the broccoli rabe since Jewel apparently doesn't stock it anymore. Too bad I don't accross the street from a Trader Joes. I added 2 tbsp of Garlic Garlic and then I added another tbsp because, like I said it just needed something more! I think it is the broth that you add, too much broth IMO.

Broccoli Rabe, White Bean and Fontina Pasta from Eating Well


8 ounces whole-wheat shells, fusilli or chiocciole
1 large bunch broccoli rabe, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces, or 8 cups baby spinach
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth or reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 19-ounce can cannellini beans, rinsed
2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup shredded fontina cheese
2/3 cup Toasted Breadcrumbs, optional (see Tip)
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, according to package directions. Stir in broccoli rabe (or spinach) during the last 2 to 3 minutes. Drain. Dry the pot.

Whisk broth and flour in a small bowl until smooth. Heat oil in the pot over medium-high heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the broth mixture and bring to a simmer, whisking constantly, until it thickens, 3 to 4 minutes. Add beans, vinegar, salt and pepper and the pasta and broccoli rabe (or spinach). Cook, stirring, until the mixture is heated through, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat; add cheese, stirring until it melts. Serve immediately, topped with Toasted Breadcrumbs, if using.

To make toasted breadcrumbs, trim the crusts from 2 slices of whole-wheat sandwich bread. Tear the bread into pieces and process in a food processor into coarse crumbs. Toss breadcrumbs with 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil and a pinch of salt in a small bowl. Cook in a large skillet over medium heat, stirring often, until golden and crisp, 3 to 5 minutes.

Funny Children who are mine:
On listening to me making a Dr. Appt for Her:

Anna says: Why do I have to have a check up at the dr. I say: because your school says so. Anna says: Ohhh It's because I talk all the time, that's why. Did Mrs. Ziel call you? LOL!!!!

On going to bed after 2 weeks off school:

Bryce says: Ma, you are lucky, you have a job but you only work a few hours a week. I have to go to school all the time. I say, I know Bryce I am living the life. Go to school and maybe someday you can work as little as I do. :-D

While watching the Biggest Loser, two contestants are introduced as being from Pennsylvania:

Patrick says Ma, Is Pennsylvania where all the Vampires come from? No Patrick, That is where Cousin Chris and Aunt Lisa live, Transylvania has Vamps.

Monday, January 4, 2010

A new decade!

Well here we are it's 2010! A new decade is here. I like the start of a new year, I like resolutions and trying different things. In fact I found an app for that, well actually it is an app for making vision boards. For me that is where I put my goals for the year, and goals are what I like to make at the beginning of the year as opposed to resolutions. Goals just sound better to me.

Anywho on my vision board I have run the Chicago Marathon. So that is a big goal. Tom is starting out the year on the exercise and healthy eating bandwagon. I've been making some meals out of my Weight Watchers Slow Cooker book and my Best of Cooking Light Cookbook. Last night I made Brie and Caramelized Onion Stuffed Chicken Breasts and as a side I made stuffing because I thought stuffing with stuffed chicken breasts was funny. But the stuffing was tooooo salty. The other side I made was fresh spinach sauteed in Tastefully Simple Meyer Lemon Infused Oil (from last summer's catalog I really really hope it comes back this spring!) and Garlic Garlic. And that turned out really good. It's hard to believe that the Stuffed Chicken Breasts was a light recipes but it is and it was great!

Today I have Mediterranean Beef Stew with Olives and Basil in the slow cooker. This recipe is from the Weight Watchers cookbook. Tommorow's dinner, I dont know yet, I have to get a list together and venture out in the cold for provisions.

All of this typical January Weather, the cold and the snow we never totally get used to having, is really making me look forward to the Tastefully Simple Leadership trip next week. I love palm trees. Esp. when it's winter!