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July 2015

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No More Butterflies

One thing I realized when I was flying home this last trip was that I no longer got butterflies in my stomach.  I got butterflies every time I was coming home to see Tony.  It didn’t matter if I had been at work all day or away on a trip without him for several days.  This time I was just. . . coming home.  I can’t believe that on Sunday Tony will have been gone nine months already.  It seems so long ago and like yesterday, all at the same time.

I am leaving town again!  This time just for the weekend.  My cousin on my Dad’s side of the family has a son who is having a graduation party.  Her Dad, my Uncle, died when I was a freshman in high school, and my Dad died 18 years ago and somehow with those brothers gone, we never really kept in touch all that much, other than by Christmas cards.  I am really excited to see all my cousins and my Aunt.  We will be driving to Michigan for the weekend – a quick turn around too because it’s a 7 hour drive!  Pretty sure Hannah will be doing most of the driving – that girl loves to drive.

Yesterday’s breakfast was what I call an inside out omelet.  I scrambled egg whites and baby spinach and tucked it into a slice of honey ham, then sprinkled with Cabot cheese extra light sharp cheddar and stuck it under the broiler.  So delish!

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Usually around 11:30 I’ll check not only my blood sugar, but also how many steps I have so far for the day.  My blood sugar was 232 – perfect for walking.  I reached down to look at my Fit Bit.  It was gone.  I looked all around my desk and office.  I thought maybe it fell out at home, or in my driveway?  I was so bummed because that’s the last gift Tony ever gave me.  The plastic that holds it in is torn and I need to replace it – but the cheap me is like $15 for a replacement?  I guess it’s better to fork over that than to pay $50 for a new one.  So I went to my car to get my walking shoes, and there it was – right outside my car door!  So it didn’t capture my steps for a few hours, so it was probably closer to 13k.  It was really warm yesterday – maybe 86 when I walked, but I got my 3 miles in.

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Earlier in the morning my brother Charlie sent me a funny text – I love him.

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So lunch was a bit of a mystery!  I threw a bag of frozen soup in my bag and a can of green beans.  When I lost 70 pounds back in 1999, I added a can of green beans to almost every meal – a whole can is like 70 calories and it bulks up your meal and keeps you fuller longer.  I ended up adding 1/2 a can of green beans to my soup – which my guess was tortilla soup.

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I will be so sad when cherry season is over because I won’t have my grilled cherry salsa anymore.  But I have a BIG giveaway tomorrow, so you’ll have to come back tomorrow and check it out.

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Since there was salsa, it was only fair to make taquitos for dinner.  I did ground beef and cheese.

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So here is the continuing saga of my contractor.  First off, I had another contractor come in, and Jacob and I both felt that he completely understood the project.  And he basically said everything the first contractor did was wrong.  Not the right wood, not the right insulation, the supports he built weren’t correct because they didn’t properly distribute the weight, etc.  I have another contractor who is a preferred contractor with Home Depot coming today and we’ll make a decision between the two this weekend.

Meanwhile the first contractor was supposed to come last night with his receipts.  And he was a no show.  But he doesn’t understand what I am capable of doing.  This is just a sampling of texts I plan on sending him in the coming days.  He has a four year old daughter so I’ll text him “is this the example you want to set for your daughter of being a cheat?”  Oh, and then there is social media.  If he still doesn’t respond after a week, I am putting his business card on Facebook every day telling everyone in McHenry county to stay as far away from him as possible.  My being nice is so over and you have to look out when I get mad.

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Game on!

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So I know I don’t normally post on Saturday’s but you’ll want to check it out – BIG giveaway!  Here’s a hint!   Follow me on Instagram over the weekend – My Bizzy Kitchen – have a great weekend!

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International Can-It-Forward Day! Giveaway!

Depending on your age, I think almost everyone in the 40s, 50s and 60s grew up with someone in their family canning.  For me, it was my Grandma and my Mom.  My first experience with canning was when we would pick my grandmas almost black purple grapes into a big basket and would carry them into the kitchen of my Grandma’s house.  There she would dump all the grapes into her sink and sift through them all, pick all the stems off before putting them on the stove to cook down.  The sweet smell of grape jelly being cooked will always take me right back to my Grandma’s kitchen.  After the grapes cooled down, she would let us stick our hand in the pot and squeeze all the grapes out of their skins until our skin turned purple up to our elbows.  Then the mash was hung over a pot in cheese cloth for what seemed like days, but I don’t actually remember.  THEN it was finally time to make the jelly!

My Mom canned lots of veggies growing up.  Mind you, I was a picky eater as a kid.  The only vegetables I liked were cucumbers and carrots because those weren’t cooked.  I distinctly remember I was in high school when my Mom was sick with a cold right when the tomatoes needed to be canned.  You had to blanch them in boiling water, then peel off the skin before slicing the tomatoes.  I had an aversion to tomato seeds back then!  I remember yelling to my Mom “you know I love you because I am doing this for you!”  Well, that, and I am her favorite child.

Now that I’ve opened my eyes to all the goodness of fresh vegetables the color of the rainbow, I love canning.  Especially my salsa.  There is nothing like opening a can of salsa in the middle of January in Chicago and have the taste of summer on your lips while there is six inches of snow on the ground.

So I was thrilled when Jarden Home Brands asked me to join them in celebrating their 5th Annual Can-It-Forward Day to share the joys of home canning.  Not only is it economical, but I actually really enjoy the process.  With everything moving so fast these days, it’s nice to take a step back and spend time doing something healthy and nutrition for your family.  But because we do live a fast paced life, you will love their new canning system!

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Not only can you can up to 8 pint jars at a time, but this is also a multi-cooker.  You can make everything from soups and stews, to using it to boil water for pasta.  And it’s huge!  If you go to pot lucks or have big family gatherings, you could fit a ton of chili in that pot.

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The top right picture is a steamer rack that sits about half way through the pot – I can imagine us cranking out a ton of potstickers in that pot.  Another awesome feature is the spigot on the side of the canner.  No longer do you have to try to dump what seems like ten gallons of water from your canning pot, simply put this pot on the side of your sink and drain the water away.

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One of the first things I knew I was going to can is my grilled cherry salsa.  I have Tony to thank for that idea, and still need to try grilled pineapple salsa, grilled peach salsa, etc.  I love the sweet/heat combo of this salsa!

Grilled Cherry Salsa

  • 4 tomatoes, divided
  • 1 jalapeno pepper
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 cup cherries (I used Rainier cherries since they are in season, but regular cherries work well too)
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro
  • juice of two limes
  • zest from two limes
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt

I did this on my gas grill.  Just char three tomatoes, the garlic, jalapeno and cherries – it took me about 15 minutes at a temperature around 350.  Let the cherries cool, then pit the cherries and add all the ingredients to a food processer and puree.

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The wonderful people from Jarden Home Brand are going to share the love with my reader – one lucky reader will win this!

    1. FreshTECH Electric Water Bath Canner + Multi-CookerIn 2015, Jarden Home Brands launched the third appliance in its FreshTECH family. The new FreshTECH Electric Water Bath Canner + Multi-Cooker is a plug-in, countertop appliance that eliminates the need for stove top heating.  This removes the concerns of ceramic-glass stove top owners and makes it more convenient to handle than traditional water bath canning pots.  The appliance enables users to multi-task during the canning process, eliminating the need to monitor boiling water or move the pot to fill and drain. (Retail value: $149.99)

 

  • Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving: The new 37th edition of the Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving is the most trusted resource in home canning for over 100 years and this new 2015 release is its largest update since the first edition in 1909.  Expanding 56% from the previous edition, the 37th edition of the Ball Blue Book includes 75 new recipes, pictorial step by step

 

 

 

All you need to do is leave a comment with a canning memory you might have had, or if you won the canner + multi-cooker what would be one of the first things you’d make in it.

I would also think that this would work if you were camping where there was electricity – what are your thoughts on that Marcia?   I also know that this will come in handy during holidays, where you just need one more burner – it’s like having your own separate stove top on your counter!

Check out this video below – you will discover:

DETAILS:

  • Tune in to the live webcast of canning demonstrations from 11:00am – 4:00pm EST, featuring an integrated chat function to submit your home canning questions to be answered in real time. New this year, there will also be an exciting celebrity mason jar auction unveiled during the webcast!
  • Share what Made From Here means to you by hosting a home canning party on Saturday, August 1!
  • Share your home canning creations, tips and tricks via social media with the hashtag #canitforward.

http://www.freshpreserving.com/community/events/can-it-forward

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Running Club and . . . Salsa!

So after doing a tiny bit of research, turns out EOS brand lip balm has no SPF except for the yellow/lemon version.  So while I kept reapplying EOS to my lips all day Saturday, it did nothing to protect my lips.

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That is a comparison from Tuesday to yesterday.  This morning I have two more scabs on my upper lip, but I’ll spare you the details of that!  The swelling has gone down, so that’s good.  Hopefully in a couple days the scabs will heal and fall off.  Just don’t want anyone to go through this – it’s painful!

I love when leftovers from dinner can turn into a wonderful breakfast.  It was almost like I was eating at a diner on a Sunday morning.  3 ounces of beef, egg white scramble with Cabot cheese, baby new potatoes and cherries.  This was so filling!

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I opted out of my walk at lunch since I was going to my first session of my running club.  I ran some errands, put gas in my car, etc.  Lunch was pretty ballers too.  I love stretching out beef with refried beans in these tacos.  Just 3 ounces of beef mixed with 1/2 a cup of fat free refried beans, then I topped them with chopped red cabbage, baby spinach, shredded extra light Cabot cheese and these tri-colored organic carrots shreds that I bought at Mariano’s.  Such a colorful plate of food!  On the side I had mango, which I totally butchered while trying to cut it up – and more cherries.  I’ll be so sad when cherry season is over.

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So I was prepared with sunscreen stuff before my run!

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And I had spf 50 for my arms, neck and legs.

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So my co-worker and I decided to join this running club – it meets once a week and whatever we do that week we have to repeat it twice before the following week.  So I think my schedule will be Wednesday – group run, then Friday and Sunday complete my other two walk/runs.  Yesterday was only 30 minutes long – walk 5 minutes, then run 1 minute.  The “leaders” had whistles to let us know when to start or stop.  My friend as a Couch to 5k app that she’s going to tell me about today that has a similar feature, when I find out what it is, I’ll let you know.

So I get there at 6:20 and it starts at 6:30.  I text my friend and say “hey, let me know when you get here.”  I wait until 6:25 – no response.  Then finally at 6:29 I just said “go inside by yourself!”  Not going to lie I thought she got tied up at work and I contemplated leaving!  Turns out she was already in the store and left her cell phone in her car.

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What I liked about it is that there were all sorts of people – high school kids, fit runners and every level in between.  See the woman in the red shirt on the right hand side?  She walked with me and my friend for a while.  I was wearing my Spartan shirt and she asked what that was about.  I told her that I had gotten a free admission so I felt I had to do it, and my friend told her that I had a successful food blog.  She said “I love food blogs!”  I said, why don’t you check mine out and told her it was My Bizzy Kitchen – to which she said “I follow your blog and Pinterest page!”  Small world!  I will miss next weeks group run because I’ll be in Denver, but other than that, I don’t think there is any conflicts.  I believe our 5k is around September 27 at which time I hopefully will be able to run a 5k again without stopping.

So by the time I got home it was almost 7:45 and I was hungry!  We decided to make a vegetarian lo mein.  Guys, this could not be simpler:

  • 2 cups of any chopped veggies – we used mushrooms, baby bok choy, the tri-colored carrot shreds and peapods.
  • Cooked lo mein – my store sells lo mein in the Chinese section and it had three pre-wrapped bunches – best part is that it only takes 4 minutes to cook
  • 2 tablespoons good Teriyaki sauce – we used Kikkomen

Saute veggies in a bit of olive oil and cook just until the bok choy starts to wilt and the mushrooms start to brown – about 3-4 minutes.  Once the lo mein is cooked, I simply used tongs to drop the cooked pasta into the pan with the veggies.  Then added the teriyaki sauce and topped with chopped cilantro and chopped peanuts. 

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So simple, light and tasty!  At first Jacob was like “where’s the meat?” but he had two servings and didn’t miss not having meat at all.  I did pretty good on my steps yesterday!  I had time to kill after work before the running club started, so I went to the gym and walked 2.5 miles and stretched for about 10 minutes.

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I love it when blog readers send me stuff that remind them of me – it can be hot sauce on a shelf, or a goodwill find.  Yesterday blog reader Kris who I met in Milwaukee when I had my Spartan race sent me this text message – she said there was a heart in her watermelon and it made her think of Tony!  So sweet Open-mouthed smile

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More vacation stuff!  My Aunt Cele is the matriarch of our family at age 85.  She is a very proper Southern lady from Hilton Head and you will most likely never see her without lipstick.  A couple times at the family reunion she would whisper to me “darlin, is my lipstick still on?”   Her daughter Pam died a month after Tony, and we both helped each other through phone calls this past spring, even if it was just to cry to each other over the phone.  I love her so much.  She also gave me a check to buy a tree to plant in my yard in memory of Tony.  Love.

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This is Weare, Pam’s husband.  He and I were in the same boat as we both lost our spouses, however he had been with Pam for 34 years to my 14 with Tony.  It doesn’t make the grief any different, but when he talked to me he said more than half is life was with her and it’s kind of hard to imagine what kind of life he was going to have with her not in it.  He’s a psychiatrist, so we were talking about stages of grief, etc., but I really didn’t want to talk all that much because I would have been a pile of tears. 

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This is me and my Aunt Martha.  I am pretty much her favorite niece – duh!

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When I was at her house earlier this summer, since we drove I made a dozen quart jars of salsa to share with her and my two cousins.  I canned them so they would last a long time.  Well, Aunt Martha was already down to her last jar!  When I make salsa like that, I call it my “company” salsa – just a little bit of heat.  My Aunt Martha has a new friend in her life – his name is Will.  They ate the salsa one night and he said “does she make a spicier version?”  Yep!  So Sunday after the reunion I showed my Aunt Martha how to make it and we drove to his house to drop it off.  This is the longest hand delivery of salsa I’ve ever made!

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He seems very nice, down to earth, and I was glad that I had the opportunity to meet him.  I am running out of vacation days at work so that will probably be my last visit to Virginia this year.  But it’s a record year – I went there three times this year!

I guess I’ll get my shit together and go to work.  I checked my lottery tickets and um, I didn’t win so I guess that I have to go.

Oh, UPDATE ON THE CONTRACTOR!  I told you guys that he was supposed to meet me Tuesday night at 6.  Well, by 6:30 he wasn’t here, I texted him and he said he was in Chicago “working” on a job and that he was going to be another hour or so and with traffic, it would be best if we met a different night.  I had the running club last night so he’s supposed to come over tonight and bring his receipts.  I’ll probably never see him again, but who knows!  Jacob’s grandfather works at Home Depot and put me in touch with their licensed, bonded, and insured construction guys who should be coming over to give me an estimate in the next couple days.   Fingers crossed!