Friday, April 22, 2011

Sharing the Good

Did you ever come across a product that was so good you just had to share it with anyone who would listen (or in my case, anyone willing to read it)?  Well, I came across one tonight and while I am not receiving any kind of monetary reward from the company for endorsing this product, I just have to share it... it is a cooking product.

First, let me say that while I CAN cook, and at times, I can be a REALLY GOOD cook, I just prefer not to cook.  Unfortunately (in my case), I do cook, and I cook more often that I'd like too.  Why?  Because CT LOVES to take leftovers to work for lunch, and frankly, our dinner leftovers are much healthier and less expensive than any kind of lunch he would find in downtown Chicago.  I appreciate that one on both counts.

So, tonight was Salmon (it is Good Friday for us Cat'lics, after all).  There are a gazillion ways to prepare Salmon.  I do love Salmon on the grill with a little lemon and seasoning, but given the very cool temperatures with rain and thunderstorms all day today, grilling outside was not going to happen.  (Now that I think about it, we haven't even broken out the grill for the season!)  So, I turned to the next best thing:  McCormick's Recipe Inspirations. 

Have you seen these in the grocery store?  They are FABU!  These nifty little items provide you with the exact measurements of seasonings (for one dish), along with a few basic items you have a home, and turn a simple item (like Salmon) into a fancy restaurant-style dish just full of flavor.  More importantly, for me, a dish that is 'EASY-PEASY-LEMON-SQUEEZY" to make. (Ok, so I just used Ella's favorite quote to describe something that is easy.)  And, you don't have to spend a lot of money on full bottles of spices that you may only use once (particularly if you find out that you don't like the spice or the dish.) 

So, this particular McCormick's Recipe Inspiration kit called for 1/3 cup of honey and 2 tbls. of soy sauce (low sodium for us) along with the individual seasoning packets of sesame seeds, minced garlic, minced onion, ground ginger, and red pepper flake (which I only used 1/2 -- I don't care for a lot of spicy red pepper flake in my dishes.)  And Salmon, of course.  When mixed together, the result is a lovely glaze for the Salmon.  After baking at 375 for 20 minutes, well, the Salmon just melted like "buttah".  I threw together some frozen veggies and McCain's "Purely Potatoes" (which are nothing more than small golden potatoes - no seasoning, no extra fat - that come in a steamable/microwaveable bag), and voila - dinner was served!

I know that CT likes a dinner when he says, "Yep, this one is a keeper."  Tonight, I received such comment.  

McCormick's also makes a great Garlic Lime Chicken Fajitas kit and a Rosemary Roasted Chicken and Potato kit.  I love them both.  I haven't yet tried Apple & Sage Pork Chops or the Spanish Chicken Skillet, but those are next.

So, if you're looking for something easy to make for dinner, I recommend you try one of McCormick's Recipe Inspiration kits.  Bon Appetit!


Saturday, April 16, 2011

Unconditional Love

According to Wikipedia, Unconditional Love is a term that means "to love someone regardless of the loved one's qualities or actions."  This morning, I experienced unconditional love, and when I mentioned it to Leanne, she said, "You have to write a post about this!"  So here goes.

For those of you that know me, recently I have been focused on living a more healthy lifestyle.  I joined Weight Watchers in January (with a bunch of my friends), increased my workout routines, and tried to keep a most positive spin on almost everything going on in my life (which is REALLY hard to do since I am still unemployed.)  While I've attempted this many times in the past (as I am sure many of you have), I have been VERY successful at times, and then not-so-successful at other times.  But that is LIFE.  Period.  And in life, you try to learn from your previous successes and failures.  Period.

Anyway, my Weight Watchers meetings are every Saturday morning.  8 a.m. sharp.  When I decided to join Weight Watchers, CT was most supportive, but never pushy.  What I love about CT is that he truly believes that whatever makes me happy will make him happy.  So, if I decided NOT to engage in a a healthy lifestyle, and NOT workout or go to Weight Watchers, he would be ok with that too.

Back to Saturdays... CT and I get up at our usual early morning hour, enjoy our cup of coffee, and then head our separate ways; I go to my Weight Watchers meeting, and he goes to workout.  When I return from my meeting, he is usually already home, waiting for me and excited to hear my good news (aka, results) or maybe not so good news.  If you've ever been challenged with weight loss and healthy eating, you know that some weeks are good, some are bad.  Again, this is LIFE.

So since January, I've had mostly good news to share with CT each Saturday ("Honey, I lost x lbs. this week!")  Last week, I had a great loss, and CT's response to me was, "Honey, that's terrific!  I can hardly see you -- you are melting away before my eyes!"  Ok, we all know that is definitely not the case -- I am NOT melting away before anyone's eyes, but the fact that CT was so encouraging just made my heart feel good.

This week was a "not-so-good" week.  When I came home this morning, CT greeted me and said, "How was your meeting?"  Very frustrated and disappointed, I said, "Not good. I gained one pound."  Sensing my frustration and disappointment, CT paused for a moment, and then said, "Well, I gotta tell you.... that one pound looks TERRIFIC on you, and I LOVE YOU, BABE."   Well, that's all he needed to say to me.  And that, my friends, is unconditional love.


How lucky am I that I truly have someone who loves me unconditionally?  Very lucky.  In fact, everyone should be so lucky.  I hope that you have or find unconditional love in your life, for it is truly the very, very best.  (And if you have any stories of unconditional love, feel free to share!)

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Getting In Shape for Spring

This past week, we had one beautiful spring day here in the Chicago area.  I think temps were in the 60's, and there was a light breeze.  This presented a great opportunity to survey my landscaping, see what's starting to pop up and perhaps what might need some additional TLC this season (or even replacement).  While I walked around my property I decided that I might as well grab my garden gloves, my picker thingy, and my garden bucket and start the spring clean-up.  You know the kind --  the picking-up of remaining leaves, twigs, and branches from fall, and yes, even pulling those nasty new weeds that are sprouting up faster than my flowers.

After an hour or so, I called it quits.  Quite happy with my progress I made, I had two full buckets of clean-up to be tossed.  The next morning, I awoke with a happy surprise -- my legs were not sore!

I don't know about you, but in the past, anytime I've done extensive yard work, the next morning I could feel it in my legs.  You know the kind - sore muscles from the constant up and down of bending/crouching, etc.  But this time, no soreness.  I attribute this pain-free experience to my recently changed workout activity.  For those few of you who know me personally, you know that I've been I have really been trying to focus more on healthy eating and all the great stuff that goes along with that.  In addition, I've been "upping the ante" on my workout schedule and routine (longer workouts with increased resistance.) 
I am happy to say that the change in my workouts have paid off.  There's still much yard work to be done for spring, and then, of course, the ongoing yard work until the end of fall.  In the meantime, I'll continue my new workout plan.  Eventually, both me and my yard will be in great shape!


Saturday, April 2, 2011

Am I an "Old F-A-R-T"?

As it has been a couple of weeks (again) since I have written my last post, I am sorry that my topic is probably more negative than it should be.  But there is something that just really bothers me and compells me to write about it.  Here it is.

Over the last three or four weeks, every time CT and I have gone grocery shopping to our local Jewel Food Store, we have been approached by various groups seeking donations.  These groups stand in front of the entrance doors to the grocery store with donation buckets in hand.  There is really no way to avoid them, because you have to practically walk THROUGH them to get in to the store.  The groups are comprised of school children with their parents, asking for "donations".  The donations are for their sporting teams.  Yes, extra-curricular activities that these kids and their parents volunteer to join and participate.  One week it was, "Would you like to donate to our hockey club?"  The next week it was, "Would you like to donate to our softball team?", etc. etc. etc.  Each time I politely reply, "No, thank you."  This has gone on for weeks on end, and quite frankly, it just frustrates me.

First, I understand that times are tough for EVERYONE.  I am still unemployed, and have been looking for a job for longer than I ever thought imaginable.  Second, while I pay taxes which support local schools (and I don't have children which receive the benefits of such taxes), I understand that the schools struggle just as much as the next person.  Third, I have nieces that I support through their various school fundraisers -- you know the kind, gift wraps and greeting cards, cookies or food items, general donations, etc.  When I get the call from Katie or Ella and they say, "Hey Auntie, we're doing this at school, can you help out?"  I always say "Yes!  Of course!"   Fourth, I'm the one who says to CT, as we're determining how much tip to leave the wait staff/waiter/waitress, at a restaurant, "Oh, honey, leave another dollar or two.  The service was good, and you know, the waiter is a struggling _______ (I insert the most appropriate phrase that I  image fits our wait person... single parent, college student, etc.)  And then CT leaves AT LEAST a 20% tip if not more.

But I have to draw the line when it comes to complete strangers who approach me as I'm trying to walk into my local grocery store, coupons in hand trying to figure out if I can save any money that week, asking me to support the extra curricular activies of their children who I do not know.

Is this wrong of me to feel this way?  Have I turned in to a crotchety old-fart?  (Heck, I'm only 47, so I don't consider myself to be a crotchety old fart yet!)  Or is it ok for me to expect to walk in peacefully to a grocery store to buy my groceries without being approached by kids and their parents asking me to pay for their kids sporting teams... for kids that I do not know, and sporting teams that I have no interest in watching as a spectator?

Please let me know -- am I an old fart or do I raise a good point?  Tell me what you think - I can handle it!