Best Christmas Decorations EVER-Haters, Line Up! Yoo Hoo, Pinterest, I’m Calling YOU!

 I hope you enjoy a repeat of one of my most clicked on posts of 2012 while I spend a little time with my tugboat man and my son, Angel Boy.
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It was last year that I was inspired by other topnotch decorators who so kindly blogged about their DIY Christmas tree masterpieces.

In fact, I was so inspired and so thrilled to be stuck here all alone for the millionth time during the holidays that I created a masterpiece of my own, just for you, my loving internet family.

As I looked around my house, the elliptical seemed like it had the best “bones” to adorn.

Plus, it had a ready-made beverage holder!

I didn’t have any Maxi-pads or other feminine hygiene products–‘cos THAT ship has sailed–if you know what I mean. (Hey cool, a nautical reference jauntily tossed in. Damn, I’m good!)

I added a toilet paper garland, a couple of Sophie Kinsella novels, two glittery seashell ornaments, a bottle of wine in the beverage holder, a white plastic poinsettia, a few EMPTY gift bags, and a festive plush Hello Kitty toy.

You can’t really see it very good, but there’s a chocolate bar too, which I don’t have to share with anyone! I’m such a lucky girl! This is the best use I’ve found for the elliptical. Hanging freshly ironed shirts hanging on it is a close second.

Now you can carry on with your day; just take a moment to let it all sink in.

The moral of the story is that it might not be a good idea to leave Princes Rosebud alone for long periods of time.

Don’t HATE…Emulate.

Decorated for Christmas elliptical

Property of Enchanted Seashells, Confessions of a Tugboat Captain’s Wife

decorated elliptical

Property of Enchanted Seashells, Confessions of a Tugboat Captain’s Wife

A Project-Based Life

peace-sign-flowersNope, this isn’t an inspirational life lesson about blessings or another sanctimonious diatribe about the rules of living harmoniously with peace signs and luv and future conditional acts of kindness that’ll result in good karma (although those are wonderful ideals.)

Nor is this a guide or doctrine or manual advising you about how to live a VALUE-based life or PLANT-based life (although those are great ideas, too)

In a way, you could say I live a PURPOSE-driven life because I’m on a MISSION.

I’m OBSESSED with buying the perfect wedge. That’s my purpose in life for right now.

As Paula Deen so eloquently waxed, “I izz what I izzz”.PaulaDeen

Butter, I mean but, I truly do live a project-based life.

I do a lot of projects. How’s that? Better?

Tee hee.

I mean, what else can I do to wile away the endless days and hours until my tugboat man comes home? And don’t judge me if you haven’t walked a block or two in my Louboutins.

It’s not like I can have a full-time job ‘cos then we’d never get to spend any time together and I haven’t found the right fit in a part-time position that would allow me enough shopping time. Oh, and project time. Cos I live a project-based life, remember?

Here’s my project du jour: Princess Rosebud shoe embellishment

I’ve been obsessively scouring the shops for the perfect wedge.

espadrillesI found these delightful slides but that just whetted my appetite for another pair. I’ve been everywhere in San Diego County. I went to Fashion Valley-nothing. I went to Saks Fifth Avenue-nothing. I stopped at University Towne Center in La Jolla-nothing. DSW, two locations — nothing.

Finally, I found the perfect lightweight wedge at Barneys Outlet in Carlsbad but they didn’t have my size. The sales associate informed me that they could have the right size sent to the store but I’d have to pay an extra $12.00 and the shoes were already a pricey $155.00. I thought that was totally ridiculous—I mean, it’s like I was being penalized for wanting to buy their stupid shoes. I told her to forget it and walked away dejectedly.

Life is SO tough for me.

Sigh.

Never one to admit defeat, I went to Famous Footwear mostly ‘cos I thought I’d get another pair of Nike cross trainers. I didn’t find anything I liked – yes, I’m THAT picky, in case you haven’t figured that out by now….but I did find these espadrilles for only $20.00, originally $50.00.

OK. You might think these are cute just the way they are, but I see a blank canvas that needs some sparkle, a little dressing up, a little beautification. It’s not that I’m never happy with the way things are; I believe almost everything can be made just a bit better with a little creativity and effort. Maybe that IS a life lesson…

espadrilleswhiteI went to Michael’s Crafts with a single shoe in hand, wandering up and down each aisle waiting for the muse to strike. Nothing seemed right until I found these flowery things (on sale). I couldn’t wait to get home and get started on this project.
espadrilleshowflowers

I embellished the embellishment, and added a sparkle in the middle.
Glue guns RULE!

espadrilleswhiteflowers2

espadrillescloseup

Cute, right? It seems to be the perfect finishing touch for a casual shoe.
Can’t wait to pin these on Pinterest.

espadrilleswhitefinal

BUT I still NEED that elusive perfect wedge. Maybe these Louboutins?
Now THAT’S such an awesome shoe that doesn’t need me to do a thing do it.
It’s so perfect I could kiss it. MWAH.
Louboutin
Since it appears that I’ll be a single woman for another week or so, I’ll be heading north to the holy grail — the the only place on earth that’ll fulfill my desires —
South Coast Plaza.  If I can’t find the perfect wedge there, I can’t find it anywhere.

And that’ll be my purpose for next week. Now I have to think of another project or two; seashells perhaps?

I Just Want to Pee Alone… A Must-Read Book Review

I Just Want To Pee Alone

Trust me, this is one of the best (and most irreverent) guides to the real world of mothering you’ll ever read.

It brought me back with laughter to the days when the bathroom was a place to hide for a few brief moments of precious solititude — where I’d hide a book to attempt to read and eke out a few sentences before the scratching and whining at the door would start to let me know I’d been discovered.

Ahhh, the good old days!

Way back when my son was a baby, we didn’t have blogging or the opportunity to use humor as an outlet to the rewarding — but unrelenting — job of being a mommy.

Raising kids properly is hard work. Every mom can relate to  “I just want to pee alone!”

I Just Want to Pee Alone is a collection of hilarious essays from thirty-seven of the most kick ass mom bloggers on the web. “Grown Up Words in a Pint-Sized Mouth” by Momaical (Tracy Winslow) is laugh-out-loud funny and is a must-read. She’s in great company with the rest of the bloggers, including People I Want to Punch in the Throat, Insane in the Mom-Brain, The Divine Secrets of a Domestic Diva, Baby Sideburns, Let Me Start By Saying, and Rants From Mommyland.

Read it for yourself and I’m sure you’ll agree with me.

This is a super gift for a baby shower or a new mom, as necessary as a stroller or a car seat!

A Grateful Monday

As part of my 2013 resolution to release my inner beeyotch, Helen Reddy‘s inspiredI am Woman helps me stay on track!

I would like to thank three awesome women for their creativity and imagination, especially since it’s all about ME!

1. Rarasaur’s delightful interpretation of ME! Check out her incredible blog and just try to figure out how her mind works! She’s another SoCal girl and she loves cats! And she’s only 60 inches tall just like me! I love her a lot and you will too. Rarasaur doodle enchanted seashells

2. IB DesignsUSA banner in nautical flags, because sometimes the best answer is “Meow”.  Kathy loves all things nautical and is a lovely lady with a great business. International maritime navy signal flags are a colorful way to spell names, messages, or to decorate your home. Give a personalized signal flag banner or wall hanging as a nautical wedding decoration, an unusual boating Christmas gift, or just for the plain fun of it!

Meow banner

3. In response to a tweet of mine bemoaning my lack of mail–no packages, no invitations to a ball, no requests to attend a movie premiere with Tina Fey–wonderful, awesome Red Dirt Kelly sent me a t-shirt!! I was so excited to return home (from my all day torture of my tugboat man as I dragged him from store to store at South Coast Plaza in the OC until he was so exhausted that he was at my mercy and he begged me to buy something, anything from Chanel so he could go home) and find a package to open and it was this t-shirt! Everyone needs to read the Red Dirt Chronicles!

reddirtkelly

Don’t miss Tuesday’s exciting blog! I’ll share an in-depth reportage of our day at South Coast Plaza, a day of torture and retaliation, culminating in a new Chanel acquisition!
Beeyotches RULE!

Best Christmas Decorations EVER-Haters, line up! Yoo hoo, Pinterest, I’m calling you!

I was inspired by other topnotch decorators who so kindly blogged about their DIY Christmas tree masterpieces.

In fact, I was so inspired and so thrilled to be stuck here all alone for the millionth time during the holidays that I created a masterpiece of my own, just for you, my loving internet family. S

o, Cousin Fur and Aunt Cheeky and Second Cousin Far Removed Tracy F for Fantastic, this one’s especially for you guys.

As I looked around my house, the elliptical seemed like it had the best “bones” to adorn.

Plus, it had a ready-made beverage holder!

I didn’t have any Maxi-pads or other feminine hygiene products–‘cos THAT ship has sailed–if you know what I mean. {Hey cool, a nautical reference jauntily tossed in. Damn, I’m good!} 

I added a toilet paper garland, a couple of Sophie Kinsella novels, two glittery seashell ornaments, a bottle of wine in the beverage holder, a white plastic poinsettia, a few EMPTY gift bags, and a festive plush Hello Kitty toy.

You can’t really see it very good, but there’s a chocolate bar too, which I luckily don’t have to share with anyone! I’m such a lucky girl! This is the best use I’ve found for the elliptical. Hanging freshly ironed shirts on it is a close second.

Carry on with your day; just take a moment to let it all sink in. Don’t HATE…Emulate.

Decorated for Christmas elliptical decorated elliptical

I sat at the children’s table

That’s because there was only me plus the kids here, so I was outnumbered. No tugboat man nor BioDad this year. I know it might seem crazy, but am I the only one who can’t seem to think of their grown son as an adult? I still see him as a four-year-old, and I’m still bringing him tissues when he sniffs and I wait until he blows his nose. I still praise him for the simplest things, “Look who’s reading a book, what a good boy!” Then there’s, “Please take out the trash”.  A few minutes later, “Please take the trash out.” After fifty requests, I give up and take out the trash.  Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose. The more things change, the more things stay the same. I’m short on time while everyone’s still here–cooking, driving, shopping, cleaning–but I’ll be back as soon as I’m free. All my little birdies’ll be leaving the nest on Monday, but while they’re here, my time is not my own. It’s 6:30 a.m. Soon they’ll be awake, needing a first breakfast of homemade granola and Greek yogurt before a surf sesh, which’ll leave me time to get their Breakfast Burritos prepared.

Breakfast Burritos are so easy! Refried beans with cheese, scrambled eggs, sliced avocado, tomatoes, salsa, and sour cream–all rolled up in a huge tortilla. That’s what the cool kids eat!

Our T-day table and one of my son, DIL, and sister wife (on the left). ImageImage

A Kugel-icous Recipe for Passover, too!

I posted this for Hannukah but we make it for Passover, too. I hope you try it and enjoy! Since my stupid oven broke for the 4th time yesterday as I was making my son’s birthday cake, I’m not sure I’ll be able to make Kugel since we couldn’t get a repair appointment until Thursday and the stupid part will take a week to arrive, so we are out of luck! Stupid Sears! Stupid Kenmore! Stupid planned obsolescence!
A pic of kugel (not mine) from http://www.jpost.com/ArtsAndCulture/FoodAndWine/Article.aspx?id=290152

 

What is Kugel?                                                                                                                            Kugel is a savory or sweet pudding of potatoes or noodles usually served as a side dish. It’s of German/Jewish origin. Our family’s traditional Kugel is the sweet noodle kind and my mom’s version is to die for. Really. It’s spectacular hot or cold. I’ll make it tomorrow and take pics. It’s one of those recipes you can make a day in advance and it gets better and better. If you have any leftovers–which we never do- it freezes pretty good. I limit myself to making it only a couple times a year and I eat as much as I want and just work out a bit harder and a bit longer to burn off the calories.

Angel Boy’s Grandma’s Kugel

Ingredients

One large package wide egg noodles
One large can fruit cocktail in juice
One small can pineapple pieces in juice
One large can canned peaches and pears in heavy syrup, yes, you read that right.
At least 3 Granny Smith apples, sliced with about 1/3 cup sugar and 1-2 TBS cinnamon.
3 Eggs
2 tsp vanilla
One lemon,  juiced and zested.

This is a good dish to make in advance especially if you’re also planning to make apple pie (which I am) ‘cos you can just prepare all the apples for both dishes. The secret to this dish is a LOT of cinnamon. If you think you have enough, add a little bit more! Cook a whole package of wide egg noodles and drain. Add 3 beaten eggs with vanilla; it will be super slippery. Add the lemon juice and zest to the apple slices. Drain all the canned fruit but keep the juices; you will need them. Mix together all the canned fruits. Butter one large and one medium deep baking dish. Add a layer of noodles, then a layer of canned fruit, a layer of apples, then another layer of noodles, a layer of the canned fruit, sliced apples, more noodles, more canned fruit and apples, ending with a final layer of noodles. Pour over any remaining egg mixture, and a cup or so of the fruit juices. Be very liberal with the juice. It will all get soaked up as the kugel bakes. Jason’s grandma would dot the whole thing with a bunch of Crisco, like ¼ cup, which sounds gross, but I still follow her recipe. Some people use butter, but we don’t. Other recipes add cottage cheese and raisins, but I’ve only made it my mom’s way, although I’m sure it would be delicious. Bake covered at 300 degrees for about an hour or so depending on the pan size. Take cover off for final 15 minutes. Excellent reheated and/or cold.

Black Bean Brownies and Lentil Cookies

These recipes were requested by TheFurFiles. I hope you and your family enjoy them as much as mine does! I’m taking a break from baking until Thanksgiving when my son, DIL, and sister wife are in town.

News Flash…I’m losing my best buddy. The captain’s leaving tomorrow for about 7 weeks. I know it’s crazy, but that’s the way it is. One day he’s here, and one day he’s not. Right now I’m in shock. We knew it would happen eventually–the call would come–but neither of us was expecting it so soon. He hasn’t even been home a full month. Oh well, I’m a glass half full kind of gal so I won’t be too upset. It’s watching him pack that’s making me sad right now!

Black Bean Brownies

  • 1 can or 3/4 cup cooked black beans
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil, or olive oil (I always use a bit less)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2/3 cup sugar ( I’ve tried brown sugar and I’ve tried agave, not sure what’s better, kind of a personal taste thing)
  • 1 teaspoon instant coffee or espresso
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips, divided
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9 by 9-inch square baking pan. In a blender, puree the beans with the oil. Add the eggs, cocoa, sugar, coffee, and vanilla. Melt half the chocolate chips and add to the blender. Blend on medium-high until smooth. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add to the blender and pulse until just incorporated. Stir in the remaining chocolate. Pour into the prepared pan. Bake until the surface looks somewhat matte around the edges and still a bit shiny in the middle, about 20 minutes. Let cool at least 15 minutes before cutting and removing from the pan. My family thinks they taste better the longer you let them sit, so the beany texture dissipates.

Lentil Cookies (Alton Brown‘s version)

  • 9 1/2 ounces whole-wheat pastry flour, approximately 2 cups*
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 8 ounces sugar, approximately 1 cup (1/2 white, 1/2 brown)
  • 4 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature, approximately 1/2 cup***Sometimes I use half oil, half butter, or all oil. Depends on my mood and my pantry.
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups lentil puree, recipe follows
  • 3 1/2 ounces rolled oats, approximately 1 cup
  • 4 ounces dried fruit, approximately 1 cup
  • 2 1/4 ounces unsweetened dried shredded coconut, approximately 1 cup

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and allspice. In the bowl of a stand-mixer with a whisk attachment, cream together the sugar and butter on medium speed. Add the egg and mix until just incorporated. Add the vanilla and lentil puree and mix until combined. Add the flour mixture and blend on low speed until just combined. Remove the bowl from the mixer and stir in the oats, dried fruit and coconut. Form the dough into balls about 2 teaspoons in size and place on a baking sheet with parchment paper, leaving about 1-inch of room in between. Bake for 15 to 17 minutes.

Lentil Puree:

  • 4 ounces lentils, approximately 2/3 cup, picked over and rinsed
  • 2 cups water

In a small pot over medium heat, combine the lentils and the water. Bring to a simmer, cover, and simmer for 30 to 40 minutes, or until lentils are tender. Remove from the heat and puree. If using immediately, let cool. The puree may be stored in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days or in the freezer for 2 to 3 months. Yield: 1 1/2 cups lentil puree.

Wholesome whole wheat bread

I baked a loaf of whole wheat bread to go along with the Veggie Lentil Soup. This is a  consistently good recipe.  I’ve had a lot of success with it. Sometimes I don’t have nonfat dried milk and it comes out great anyway. I’ve tried it with honey, agave, maple syrup, and brown sugar.  Still good. They’re right about adding orange juice; it really does soften the whole wheat-y flavor. My son loves raisin bread so I’ll add a cup or so when he’s around and he can eat a whole loaf right in front of my eyes. “Course he’s over six feet tall with a freaky uber-metabolism; he’s the only one I know around here that can do that.  Plus with the whole portion control thing, no one else is allowed to have unlimited amounts of anything.

Just out of the oven I spread about a half teaspoon of butter on top to get a shiny crust.

King Arthur was founded in 1790 and is located in Vermont.

Classic 100% Whole Wheat Bread

  • 1 to 1 1/4 cups lukewarm water*
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup honey, molasses, or maple syrup
  • 3 1/2 cups King Arthur Premium 100% Whole Wheat Flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast, or 1 packet active dry yeast dissolved in 2 tablespoons of the water in the recipe
  • 1/4 cup Baker’s Special Dry Milk or nonfat dried milk
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • *Use the greater amount in winter or in a dry climate; the lesser amount in summer or a humid climate.

tips from our bakers

  • Why the range of water in the dough? A lot depends on the weather, the season, and how you measure flour. You’ll need the lesser amount of water in the summer; or when it’s humid/stormy; if you measure flour by weight; or if you sprinkle your flour into the measuring cup, then level it off. You’ll need the greater amount of water in winter; when it’s dry out, and the humidity is low; or if you measure flour by dipping your cup into the canister, then leveling it off.
  • The liquid sweetener you choose makes a difference. Molasses produces the darkest loaf, one with old-fashioned flavor. Honey yields a lighter, milder loaf. Maple syrup makes a less-sweet loaf — unless you use real maple syrup, in which case it’ll be similar to a loaf made with honey, albeit with a faint hint of maple.
  • If you’re someone who tends to taste whole wheat as somewhat bitter, try substituting 1/4 cup of orange juice for 1/4 cup of the water in this recipe. A bit of orange juice tones down whole wheat’s somewhat tannic taste.

1) In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients and stir till the dough starts to leave the sides of the bowl. Transfer the dough to a lightly greased surface, oil your hands, and knead it for 6 to 8 minutes, or until it begins to become smooth and supple. (You may also knead this dough in an electric mixer or food processor, or in a bread machine programmed for “dough” or “manual.”) Note: This dough should be soft, yet still firm enough to knead. Adjust its consistency with additional water or flour, if necessary.

2) Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl or large measuring cup, cover it, and allow the dough to rise till puffy though not necessarily doubled in bulk, about 1 to 2 hours, depending on the warmth of your kitchen.

3) Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled work surface, and shape it into an 8″ log. Place the log in a lightly greased 8 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ loaf pan, cover the pan loosely with lightly greased plastic wrap, and allow the bread to rise for about 1 to 2 hours, or till the center has crowned about 1″ above the rim of the pan. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 350°F.

4) Bake the bread for 35 to 40 minutes, tenting it lightly with aluminum foil after 20 minutes to prevent over-browning. The finished loaf will register 190°F on an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center.

5) Remove the bread from the oven, and turn it out of the pan onto a rack to cool. If desired, rub the crust with a stick of butter; this will yield a soft, flavorful crust. Cool completely before slicing. Store the bread in a plastic bag at room temperature.

Yield: 1 loaf.

Psst. Really cool re-purpose. Pass it on.

I’ve never seen this anywhere so I will take total credit for it unless someone sends me a prior version. Ya know how we have so many makeup brushes and applicators in all shapes and sizes? Well, my organizational-type brain was tired of losing them or having a problem locating what I needed (now that I purchased all that Chanel makeup and want to start wearing it.) So I had a lightbulb moment when I took the cap off my 7Seconds Uniteleave-in conditioner. I thought it would make the perfect receptacle for the smaller applicators. Check it out. Cool, huh? There they are, standing at attention, nice and clean.

I daubed a little Museum Wax on the bottom to help it adhere to the plastic.