Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Low (er) Fat Appetizers

To go along with my "Here Is The Skinny" post I decided to share some low (er) fat appetizer ideas that I am going to try out this holiday season (to discourage those pounds from packing on). 

Perhaps you would like to try them as well? 

Feta Cheese Dip
Serve with fresh raw veggies and low fat crackers.

Servings: 24
Yield: 3 cups

• 2 (8 ounce) packages fat free cream cheese, softened
• 1 (8 ounce) package regular or low fat feta cheese, crumbled
• 3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
• 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill

In a medium bowl, thoroughly blend cream cheese, feta cheese, garlic, and dill with an electric mixer. Cover, and refrigerate at least 4 hours.

Per Serving: 44 Calories. 2g Fat (47.3% calories from fat). 4g Protein. 2g Carbohydrate. Trace Dietary Fiber. 10mg Cholesterol. 209mg Sodium. Exchanges: 1/2 Lean Meat; 0 Vegetable; 1/2 Fat; 0 Other Carbohydrates.

Cherry Tomato Scoops
These little bitty bites are full of flavor!.

Servings: 6

• 2 cups (one pint) cherry tomatoes
• 1 3-ounce package fat free cream cheese
• 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
• 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
• 1/4 cup roasted sunflower seeds
• 3/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
• 1/3 cup fresh basil, shredded
• 2 cloves garlic, crushed

Wash and pat dry cherry tomatoes. Cut 1/4 inch off top of each tomato. Scoop out pulp. Drain tomatoes upside down on paper towels.

Meanwhile, beat cream cheese and lemon juice in a small bowl until smooth. Combine with Parmesan, sunflower seeds, parsley, basil and garlic. Mix well.

Spoon cream cheese mixture into tomatoes. Chill for 30 minutes.

Do not prepare too far in advance - the basil tends to become bitter.

Per Serving: 63 Calories. 3g Fat (41.0% calories from fat).5g Protein. 5g Carbohydrate. 1g Dietary Fiber. 4mg Cholesterol

Artichoke Cheese Rolls
Serve on a pretty party tray with chive yogurt sauce for garnish.

Servings: 8
Make about 24 slices

• 3 green onions, very finely sliced
• 1 - 14 ounce can artichoke hearts, drained and finely chopped
• 1/2 cup (1/2 of an 8 ounce tub) low fat cream cheese
• 1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
• 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese (use low fat if you can find it)
• 3 tablespoons low fat pesto
• 8 - Eight inch fat-free flour tortillas
• 1 - 8 ounce jar roasted red sweet peppers, drained and cut into strips
• 1 - 8 ounce container of plain fat-free yogurt (optional)
• 1 tablespoon snipped fresh chives (optional)

In a large bowl, mix together the artichoke hearts, green onions, cream cheese, parmesan cheese, feta cheese and pesto.

Spread 1/4 cup of the mixture onto each tortilla. Top with roasted red pepper strips and roll up. Arrange tortills in a cooking oil spray 3 quart baking dish. Light spray rolls with nonstick cooking spray. Bake uncovered in a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes or until just heated through.

Stir together snipped chives and yogurt. Cut each tortilla into thirds and arrange on tray. Serve with yogurt sauce for dipping if desired.

Per Serving: 77 Calories; 3g Fat; 1g Saturated Fat; 4g Protein; 10g Carbohydrate;1g Dietary Fiber;7mg Cholesterol; 142mg Sodium. Exchanges: 1/2 Grain (Starch); 1/2 Vegetable; 1/2 Fat.

Spicy Southwestern Tortilla Pinwheels
Just the right amount of heat that is offset by the creamy cheese!

Makes 30 Pinwheels

• 1 - 8 ounce package fat-free cream cheese, softened
• 1 - 2 ounce can chopped black olives
• 1 - 4 ounce can diced green chiles
• 1 - 4 ounce jar sliced pimento peppers, drained
• 2 green onions, minced
• 3 tablespoons hot pepper sauce, I prefer Cholulu
• 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
• 10 - 10 inch fat-free or low fat flour tortillas

In a medium-size mixing bowl, combine cream cheese, olives, chiles, pimentos, green onions, hot sauce and fresh cilantro. Spread the mixture onto tortillas. Roll the tortillas up and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Slice the roll ups and serve.

Per Pinwheel: 29 Calories; trace Fat (9.8% calories from fat); trace Saturated Fat; 2g Protein; 5g Carbohydrate; 2g Dietary Fiber; 1mg Cholesterol; 147mg Sodium. Exchanges: 0 Grain(Starch); 0 Lean Meat; 0 Vegetable; 0 Fruit; 0 Fat; 0 Other Carbohydrates.

Chicken Satay Appetizers
Serve with your favorite dipping sauce.

Servings: 12

• 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
• 3 tablespoons light soy sauce
• 1 tablespoon chili paste or chili sauce
• 2 garlic cloves, minced
• 1 tablespoon peanut oil
• 1 tablespoon brown sugar
• 1 lime
• 36 bamboo skewers, soaked in water for 1 hour

Mix soy sauce, chilli paste, garlic, oil and sugar. Cut chicken into 36 thin strips and marinate in a bowl with the soy sauce mixture, turning to ensure chicken is coated. Thread chicken pieces on to the bamboo skewers, line skewers up on a parchment/foil-lined baking tray and keep covered in the fridge until ready to cook.

Preheat oven to 190°C/375°F.

Bake the chicken skewers for 10-15mins in the hottest part of the oven (maybe 4-6" from top heating element).
When done, remove the tray from oven and squeeze juice of 1 lime over the chicken.

Per Serving (3 skewers): 67 Calories; 2g Fat (22.5% calories from fat); trace Saturated Fat; 10g Protein; 4g Carbohydrate; trace Dietary Fiber; 23mg Cholesterol; 186mg Sodium. Exchanges: 1 1/2 Lean Meat; 0 Vegetable; 0 Fruit; 0 Fat; 0 Other Carbohydrates

Enjoy! (but not too much remember everything in moderation)

Shopping "Real" Local

What do you think of when I say the term "Shop Local?" 

Does that mean shopping at the store closest to your house or going to the coffee shop within walking distance? That of course is nice and convenient for you but chances are that store is probably a Fred Meyers owned by a HUGE corporation located in a state thousand of miles away.  And that coffee shop probably a Starbucks right around the corner, which although I visit them to often...

Starting immediately I am diversifying my coffee drinking habit.  I am now going to Beanarinos down on 238th & Halsey.  It is locally owned and operated by one of my old neighbors.  And it is much cheaper!  I bought a Tall Non Fat No Whip Mocha this morning and a muffin instead of paying $6.80 or whatever at Starbucks, I paid $3.80! Now of course they don't have the SB Breakfast sandwiches, but that is ok because I have been making those at home anyways (most days).

When I say "Shop Local" I mean shopping at stores or eating at restaurants that are family owned and operated by people in our own backyard.  These could be owned/operated by your fellow church member, your neighbor, your best friend, your friends sister...They may employ your child one day or you for that matter. 

They long (ed) for the American Dream but in this economy it is going up in smoke...They are struggling everyday to stay open for business and I am tired of seeing the local shops suffer.  It seems like every time I go into downtown Troutdale or Gresham, there is a new "For Lease" sign in an empty storefront.  I feel so frustrated as a consumer that our options are dwindling before our very eyes however I know that as a local consumer, we are part of the problem too because rather than spend our money at the locally owned shops, we are spending our money at the huge corporations or franchised restaurants...And for what?  A few dollars savings? A little bit more variety? 

We, as local consumers, need to be held accountable for their possible failure and therefore TAKE ACTION.  They are not going to continue to survive unless we shop there, regularly.

So next time you shop for that "perfect" present instead of going to Fred Meyers how about going into Troutdale to the Troutdale General Store.  They have a wide variety of gifts, old time candy, fudge, and we can't forget the ice cream or old time soda fountain.  During the holidays the basement area has an assortment of Christmas ornaments and decorations too.

Eat lunch or dinner at Ristorante Di Pompello.  This restaurant is awesome and will give back a portion of your bill to a local non profit of your choice.  When you check out, you just have to ask. 

Need a haircut how about Sage Salon? 

And a new pub just opened up, Ye Old Pub.  I hear they have a great happy hour menu.  Give it a try.  (This might just be where we go to watch The Civil War game this weekend).

Want a tasty breakfast that won't leave you hungry an hour later?  Try The Village Grill down off of 238th & Halsey.   

Reuse, Reduce, Recycle and go to several of the resale shops in downtown Gresham...

Rewind Resale
All About Kids
Norma Jeans Closet

Or browse the unique items at

Elegantly Funky
The Feathered Nest (I always find neat items in this store.  We bought a Rooster wall clock for my MIL a few years ago which she loved).

Hungry while shopping in Gresham?  4th Street Brewing always has good food and drink.   And they are very reasonably priced especially if you sit in the bar area and eat off of the Happy Hour Menu.  The bar area is not your typical bar either.  It is very bright and clean.

Have the kids with you?  Wall Street Pizza will entertain them for awhile.  They have some of the best garlic rolls.

Just you and a girlfriend?  Nicholas has great hummus and pita bread.  They are the only authentic Lebanese restaurant on the east side that I can recall.

Have a sweet tooth? Cupcakes anyone?  Bella Cupcakes has some of the tastiest cupcakes I have eaten.

And we can not forget one of the newest natural markets...Lillians Marketplace! They have meat and seafood, dairy, juices, beer and wine, produce, baked goods, bulk products, health and beauty, and floral.  They are adding new products almost daily. 

Let's take this one step further...Looking for a unique, one of a kind piece of jewelry for a special someone?  Visit http://www.beadlesbyjen.com/.  She is a very talented, local jewelry maker that happens to also be one of my friends.

Hair clips for that little girl in your life?  Visit Lil Bees Facebook page.  This business is owned/operated by a sister of a friend who is raising money to adopt another child. 

Need unique burp clothes or blankets?  My MIL makes these in her spare time (I will post some pictures on another post).

I challenge you to Shop "REAL" Local the next time you are out and about.  Invest in your community and its future.

I know I am!

Disclaimer:  None of the businesses listed have paid for endorsements.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Here Is The Skinny....

On average statistics show *we* (I say we because I am including most adults that eat anything of substance) gain 7-10lbs between Thanksgiving and New Years….

Let me put that in perspective: *we* gain the weight of an average new born baby! 

Oh my, I think I may have gained that just as I was typing this post and if not then I probably already did at Thanksgiving and/or will by New Years for sure.  I am one of those that if I even *think* about chocolate cake it goes to my hips.

Between all of the actual holiday meals of Turkey, Ham, Stuffing, Green Bean Casseroles, Pies, the never ending potlucks at work, the "just one more" hor d'oeuvres at the company Christmas party, etc....it definitely makes it hard to stay on task.  Kinda like the *Freshman 15*, did any of you experience that?

Here are a few tips of ways to avoid becoming a statistic and not gain the *Holiday 10* as I like to call it.
  1. Practice Portion Control.  Everything in moderation.
  2. Stay active.  This is a no brainer.  Hopefully all that mall shopping will do us some good.
  3. Make your holiday meals healthier.  Instead of serving a pie or cake for dessert make something lower in fat with fruit.  Or instead of a "creamy" casserole dish make a vegetable dish.
  4. Don't party hungry.  Eat a healthier light meal at home before attending party.  Then you will be full and not so tempted to over eat on all the snacks.
  5. Do not overload on alcohol.  These are empty calories.  Drink water instead.
  6. And last but not least if you slip up, don't give up and continue to overindulge.  Start again on the next meal. It's never too late.

Here is to a happy and healthy baby holiday season!  Cheers!



We have a Love-Hate relationship in our house when it comes to football…not only on the level of my husband and son LOVE (more like obsess about)  football and I (HATE) it (not really but at times I would curse it, if I cursed).  But also on the level that we have a bit of a rivalry when it comes to the college teams we all root for….

Ty (our 12 yr old) loves the Oregon State University Beavers as does Ky (our 18 yr old daughter) while both my husband and I love University of Oregon Ducks.  Most weekends during the season you can find us watching a game or two but at times it gets pretty intense between husband and 12 yr old.  They just love to rib one another when their teams win or lose.  They both talk smack non stop.  I end up being the referee to the (sibling) rivalry.  

This weekend and every Civil War weekend for that matter, the intensity comes to an all time high.  For those that live under a rock and/or live nowhere near Oregon, The Civil War is always the game of the season when the OSU Beavers play the UO Ducks for bragging rights until the next season.  Now this year, again, unless you live under a rock and/or nowhere near Oregon, you know that UO Ducks are undefeated in the Pac 10 and are #2 in the BCS (don’t even get me started on that since they should be #1).  I am not sure where OSU stands because remember I root for UO.  All I know is this game is going to be GOOOOOD (even if you hate football).

I can smell the testosterone now…

Quack! Quack!
I think the Duck and the Beaver have a Love-Hate relationship too...

Who are you rooting for?


Monchichi, Monchichi, ohh, soft and cuddly....

Remember those? 

My Monchichi was my favorite stuffed toy for many years growing up.  I used to carry that monkey everywhere I went.  I am not sure what happened to her...over the years of moving around, she must have got stuffed in a box and given to Goodwill or something.  Poor Monchichi. 

But never fear, a couple years ago I was shopping at Safeway, of all places, Safeway had a Monchichi in their holiday toys.  I snatched that up so quick nobody else even had a chance.  Now I have my beloved Monchichi, still new in the box in the top of my closet for safekeeping.

What about Baby Alive?  I just saw one of those at Walmart when I was shopping this past weekend.  The new ones look a little freaky if you ask me.  I never had one of these, not much into playing with dolls, since I was surrounded by boys (cousins & brothers).

Of course, Cabbage Patch Kids are a mainstay...They have been around for many years and still seem as popular as ever. When CPK first came out, remember how coveted they were.  My dad actually won mine in a raffle otherwise I probably wouldn't of had one since they were so scarce and expensive.  I still have mine to this day and have passed it down to my own kids.  Her name is Adriane. 

And then there was the Garbage Pail Kids, parody of the CPK.  Me and my cousins used to collect the trading cards and trade them with one another.  Ohh man, flashback...

Of course you can't forget Easy Bake Oven and the Kool-Aid Slushie Maker.  I used to *entertain* as a child inviting everyone over for brownies and kool-aid slushies....LOL.  We partayyyyyyed...Let me tell you.

What was your favorite toy growing up?

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Cyber Monday

I read in a recent survey that over 90% of shoppers will be partaking in Cyber Monday. 

Are you one of them?

Below you will find a few tips on ways to shop safe online (on Cyber Monday or anytime):

  1. Only purchase from trusted retailers sites (check for “s” in https:// and in the lower-right corner for the “lock” symbol before paying)
  2. Do not purchase items from unsolicited email links
  3. Do not respond to unsolicited emails verifying account information
  4. Read the privacy policies to be assured that they will not be selling your information to other 3rd parties.  If no privacy policy that is a good indicator that you might not want to purchase from site.
  5. Pay with credit card because your credit card most often has some type of fraud protection which will refund your money should you not receive your merchandise
  6. Always watch your statements for incorrect charges
  7. Make sure to keep all your order information handy i.e. order number, confirmation email, company contact info, etc...
  8. Make sure you know the return policy just in case (before you hit the "buy" button)
  9. Do your own price comparison (www.bizrate.com and www.pricegrabber.com)
  10. And last but not least, if it looks too good to be true, it probably is!

I found this great website that highlights the best deals from over 700 online retailers. www.cybermonday.com

Here's to shopping in your pj's in the comfort of your own home!

Turkey Enchiladas

On my Thanksgiving Leftover post, Turkey Enchiladas was one of the items that I was going to make with my left over turkey...which I did however I substituted a few things because I didn't have all the ingredients on hand (and I was too lazy to go to the store). 

Here is how I made it instead:

  • 2 cups chopped cooked turkey
  • 1 1/2 cups KRAFT 2% Milk Shredded Colby & Monterey Jack Cheddar Cheese, divided
  • 1 1/4 cups KNUDSEN Tillamook Sour Cream, divided
  • 1 cup salsa
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 10 6 (6 inch) flour tortillas
  • 1 cup shredded lettuce
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 1 packet of taco seasoning
  • 1 can of Tomato Soup


  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Spray 13x9 inch casserole dish with non stick cooking spray
  3. Combine tomato soup (no water), taco seasoning packet and turkey together in a bowl
  4. Combine turkey, 1 cup each cheese and sour cream, 1/4 cup salsa, cilantro and cumin.
  5. Spoon about 1/4 cup turkey mixture down center of each tortilla; roll up.
  6. Place, seam-sides down, in 13x9-inch baking dish; top with salsa.
  7. Cover.
  8. Bake 30 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining cheese; bake, uncovered, 5 minutes or until melted. Top with lettuce, tomatoes and remaining sour cream, more salsa, green sauce and hot sauce if you so desire.
These were devoured within minutes after I pulled them out of the oven, literally...

I made the Black Friday Pie which we had for Mother In Laws Birthday dinner Saturday night.  I also made the Turkey Soup but with rice (with French Bread). Both of these were yummy!!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Was It Worth It?

Black Friday...did you go?   Where you one of the "crazy" people out waiting in the middle of the freezing night air for the doors to open?

Open, Open, Open....(face smashed into the glass in anticipation)

Not me....I posted about this a few weeks ago and typically I am one of those people but this year other than the socks at Fred Meyers, there wasn't anything else that was on the "have to have" list nor were the savings for most items worth going out in the night air. 

My daughter on the other hand, kept with tradition along with her boyfriend and a friend...They pulled an all nighter....going to Walmart @ 12:01, Target, Fred Meyers, Old Navy, you name it they probably went there.  I heard them come in a few times and drop bags off and out the door they ran again for the next store.  AND I gave her money for every ones socks so I didn't miss out on the "Sock Sale" even.

Me, I slept instead.  I got up around 7am, leisurely went to Walmart, got a few sale items, nothing that was a hot seller so there was plenty in stock, onto Kmart for a few more things and then over to Big 5 Sporting Goods...I stayed under budget, was able to buy a few gifts for each of the immediate family members and I got to "sleep in" (if you consider 7am sleeping in which I do since I am normally up around 5am).

I *think* I am passing the baton to my daughter...I am getting too old (lol).  Sleep is much more important to me these days which is really hard for me to say since I am always looking for the next great deal.

Life is too short to spend 2 hours in line waiting for the store to open, 2 more hours in line to purchase said item (s) after having 3 hours of sleep to save $5.00 on a toy that will be broken before New Years. 

Can I get an AMEN???

Thursday, November 25, 2010

I Am Thankful For...

For my husband who you can often find on the couch watching football but he is home safe with me and our children.

For my *complaining* teenager, my *social butterfly* tween, my *energetic* toddler and my *teething* infant who are happy and healthy.

For the *high* medical premiums and taxes we pay out each paycheck because it means we are employed and have medical insurance.

For the mess I will have to clean up after Thanksgiving dinner for that means I have been surrounded by friends and family.

For the pants that will be a little more snug after dinner because I have enough to eat.

For being able to see my breath when outside in the cold or beads of sweat when it is hot for I am outside and free.

For the lawn that needs mowing, the garden that needs weeding, the gutters that need to be cleaned out, the yard that needs to be winterized...I have a roof over my head.

For the parking spot out in left field on Black Friday for that means I am capabale of walking and I have reliable transportation.

For my huge heating and water bill.  I am warm and I have clean water to drink.

For the pile of laundry that never ends.  My family has clothes to wear.

For the alarm that goes off in the early morning hours because it means I am alive, I can hear and have somewhere to go.

I am truly blessed and thankful to have such wonderful friends and family.  Please count your blessings and be thankful for the things that you might normally complain about. 

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

What To Do, What To Do (Thanksgiving Leftover Ideas)

With all that left over food....

Here are some ideas:

Black Friday Pie*
Turkey Soup
Turkey Pot Pie
Turkey Enchiladas*
Turkey Salad Sandwiches
Turkey Casserole*

*These are the leftover meals that I will be making over the weekend.

 I will let you know how they turn out.  In years past I have made Turkey Soup and Pot Pie so this year I am going to try some new recipe ideas.

If you hover over the meal, I have included a link to the recipe.

Hope you all have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Dust Bunnies

I must, I must, I must decrease this dust….

Right now you are probably scurrying around doing that last minute shopping for those forgotten items, mopping/dusting and scrubbing before everyone shows up for the big day (except your not because you are reading this blog instead)…I should be doing that but I am not because I am writing this blog….Most of my shopping is done and cleaning well.... it has left something to be desired but that’s ok…

Remember ladies (and gents), imperfection is ok.  Nobody will care if there is layer of dust underneath the DVD player, spaghetti sauce splattered in the microwave, bathrooms trash cans not clean as a whistle, that they can’t eat off your floor (who would want to do that anyways even if they were spic-n-span?). 

Take a break, put your feet up (ok, maybe not) but do what you can do without killing yourself to do so….

Remember do the things that people will see (do not clean out the closets and garage), like the common areas: the kitchen where most people will congregate I am sure, the living room for watching football, maybe the family room if you have one where people can hang out and play games.  

Keep your cleaning short and sweet though, try not to break a sweat and clean as you go while in the kitchen so you don't have as big of a mess when you are done. 

Here in a little bit I am going to set my timer and do some "speed" cleaning.  Typically when I do this I set my timer for 20 mins and clean as much as I can.  My speed cleaning mostly includes putting items where they belong (dirty dishes in dishwasher, shoes in closets, laundry in laundry room), wiping tables and counters down, empty bathroom trashes, rinsing out sinks....You get the point...No heavy duty cleaning allowed...You will not find me scrubbing the kitchen floor with a toothbrush anytime soon.

And then I am going to move onto the more important things like starting the food prep for tomorrow...and thinking about all the things that I am thankful for...

Hope you all have a Happy Thanksgiving! 

Who You Going To Call?

Courtesy of Foodday in The Oregonian November 23rd, 2010

Where to call when the dinner plan blows up:



National Turkey Federation




Approximate Roasting Times for Stuffed Turkey
Turkey Weight
6 to 8 pounds
3 to 3-1/2 hours
8 to 12 pounds
3-1/2 to 4-1/2 hours
12 to 16 pounds
4-1/2 to 5-1/2 hours
16 to 20 pounds
5-1/2 to 6 hours
20 to 24 pounds
6 to 6-1/2 hours
Approximate Roasting Times for Unstuffed Turkey
Turkey Weight
6 to 8 pounds
2-1/2 to 3 hours
8 to 12 pounds
3 to 4 hours
12 to 16 pounds
4 to 5 hours
16 to 20 pounds
5 to 5-1/2 hours
20 to 24 pounds
5-1/2 to 6 hours


I used this....

Instead of this.....

to scrape the ice off my windows this morning...

Now if I was more *prepared and organized* I would have one of these:

readily available and easily accessible when it got cold and icy outside...

But I am not that person....so I used the spatula instead...Hey, it worked!

Talk about improv and thinking outside of the box...Give me kudos for that!

Stay warm!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Driving Miss "Crazy" Part Deux

It's me again...crazy driver...Actually I am not a crazy driver...opposite of that most of the time...I am pretty defensive when it comes to my own driving especially in inclement weather...I would much prefer to stay home during bad weather but we know that is not always an option...

I have a mini van though, you know one of those things that you tote many small children around in playing taxi?  With the sliding doors on both sides: easy in, easy out (and automatic at that so I can open them from a distance) , seats 7.  That's me...so driving a mini van in the snow, not so good...They definitely don't handle well.  I mean, they aren't meant for 4-wheelin, they are meant to tote kids around...to soccer, to football, to dance, to basketball, wherever you may be going...and they take a beating with all the equipment thrown in the back, couple of car seats, strollers, food mashed into the seats, cheetos under the car mats...You name it, I am sure you can find it in our mini van.  (I once found a rotten banana under one of the kids seats..couldn't figure out what the smell was for the longest time).

Anywho, back to my point of this post...driving in inclement weather...that's what I was talking about, right?  I *hate* driving in the bad weather...This morning after it thawed for the most, I had to get out in it, drop the kids off at Grandma's for a couple hours and head into work.  I work near the airport so not too terribly far but never the less, my drive that normally takes me 7-12 mins (usually down Marine Dr at 540am or so in the morning), took me about 45 mins going down the main streets.  I swear I was going like 20 miles per hour....Even though everything looked thawed there were definitely some "shady" spots that had black ice. 

I probably looked like a *grandma*,  my hands tightly gripping the steering wheel sans driving gloves,  seat pulled up as close as possible to the wheel, beads of sweat running down my forehead (not really but close)...anxious not necessarily about my driving ability but more about others as they fly by me on the left (yes, I was in the slow lane).  I saw a few people spinning out in the slick areas...but thank goodness, nothing major...

Me...driving 20 miles an hour made it safely into work...all by my lonesome.  I was the only one that ventured in. Everyone else decided to work from home and play it safe.  I am such a risk taker...lol...

I wonder what tomorrow will bring?  Another white knuckle driving day?  I hope not...Not too fond of the snow at my house and in the areas that I drive.

If I want snow, I want to go to it, not have it come to me... (sorry all you skiers and snowboarders)

Monday, November 22, 2010

What's For Dinner

This is a bit of a short week cooking wise...Last night we had our Thanksgiving potluck at church so I made Loaded Bake Potato Casserole to bring (see prior post). 


Beef Portabello & Broccoli
  • 2 boneless beef sirloin steak or top round steak (about 2 pound), cut into 1-inch cubes (Or use stir fry meat which is already sliced which is what I do)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups thinly sliced baby portobello mushrooms or 2 regular portobello mushrooms, thinly sliced  (OR you can substitute with mushroom soup which is what I do)
  • 1 cup Swanson® Beef Stock 
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen broccoli
Season the beef as desired. Heat the oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add the beef and cook until it's well browned, stirring often. Pour off any fat. Add the mushrooms or mushroom soup, cook until the mushrooms are tender and/or soup slightly boiling. Stir in the stock. Add the broccoli and heat to a boil. Reduce the heat to low. Cover and cook for 20 minutes or until the beef is cooked through and the broccoli is tender. Serve the beef and broccoli by itself, with another side item OR over noodles or rice and call it good.


Crockpot Pork Roast (Pork Roast on sale at Safeway for $2.99/lb)
Stew vegetables (can use fresh pots/celery/onion/carrots OR frozen stew vegetables if your are crunched for time)

  • 1 boneless pork roast (about 3 pounds)
  • 1 envelope dry onion soup mix
  • 1 cup water
  • 6 potatoes, peeled and quartered
  • 6 carrots, peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks
  • 3 celery stocks, sliced
  • 1 large onion, sliced
Spray 5-qt. crock pot with vegetable oil spray (like Pam). Put vegetables in the crock pot. Cut pork roast in half; place meat fat side up on top of the vegetables. Combine onion soup mix and water; pour over roast. Cover and cook on high for 5-6 hours or on low for 10-12 hours or until a meat thermometer reads 160 - 170 degrees. 


Since this is the night before Thanksgiving and I will probably be doing last minute shopping, cleaning, food prep for Thanksgiving day tonights meal will be quick and easy.

Quesidillas (we have a Quesidilla maker which we bought at a garage sale years back.  It is still one of my "best" finds.  I love it!)
Spanish Rice (white or brown rice with salsa mixed in)







Come back and visit for my TBA meals.  They will include Thanksgiving  leftover recipes.  I will post them on Wednesday.

Until next time....

Loaded Baked Potatoe Casserole

This is what I made for our church potluck last night. 

Thankfully, I was able to have some before they were all gone.   

They were D-E-L-I-S-H if I do so say myself. 



  • 2 bags of Hash Browns (do not fully defrost)
  • 2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese (or more if you really like cheese)
  • 4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled (or you can cheat and get the "real" bacon bits for salads located in the salad dressing area of your grocery store; I cheated)
  • 1 (10.75 ounce) cans Campbell's® Condensed Cheddar Cheese Soup*
  • 16 oz sour cream
  • Green Onions
  • Salt & Pepper to the taste
*Do not add milk to the soup.  The sour cream is the substitute.  If you use milk for soup plus the sour cream, it will come out soggy.



  1. Spray casserole dish (13x9 inch) with non stick cooking spray
  2. Spread the hash brown potatoes into the baking dish
  3. Bake for 20-30 mins at 375 degrees, mixing around often. (This allows them to crisp a bit rather than become too soggy)
  4. Stir the soup and sour cream into the potatoes.  Add bacon, onions salt and pepper. Stir.
  5. Bake for another 20-30 minutes or until hot. Stir periodically.
  6. Sprinkle cheese on top the last 5-10 mins.
  7. Cheese should be melted and golden brown when you remove from oven
  8. Serve while still hot so the cheese is nice and gooey
I am going to be a rebel this year and make these for Thanksgiving dinner rather than "ordinary" mashed potatoes.  I am sure they will be a hit!

Yummy!  Yummy!  Can't wait....

Holiday Events

I am always trying to find low cost, family friendly activities to do for the holidays and I ran across a few that I wanted to share.

2010 Holiday Event Guide for the Portland Metro area.  This guide has tons of activities however some are definitely not for the cost conscious.

Downtown Gresham kicks off their Spirit of Christmas Saturday evening at 6pm.  Santa Claus will be there and most merchants will be open later.  **Our family usually goes to this event and has always had a good time singing Christmas Carols, drinking hot cocoa and exploring the local merchants**

Always fun for our family too is just getting in the car, turning on a Christmas CD and driving around looking at Christmas lights.  There are several "organized" displays near by that we have gone to over the years but remember there might be some right in your own neighborhood.

Peacock Lane
Pittock Mansion
Portland International Raceway
The Grotto Festival of Lights (always a favorite of ours; we go every year)
Queen Anne Victorian Mansion
Christmas Ships

Around The Neighborhood:

The Paz Family on Hensley Road in Troutdale always have a HUGE display

Birdsdale neighborhood in between Division/Burnside (not too far from Gresham Civic Shopping Ctr) tends to have a lot of decorated houses

Highland Area (off 182nd/Powell)

Hope you all have a blessed and Happy Holiday Season.

Friday, November 19, 2010

If You Give A Mouse A Cookie...

I love this book!  But if you give a mouse a cookie, they will come back for more as the story goes....

We have "a" mouse in our house...We have actually had a few on my count that our cat has so eloquently chewed up and left in various places in our house.  I know gross.  I couldn't figure out what the small pile of rubbish was over in the corner until I went to pick it up and EEEKKKK!  It was a dead mouse.  Nice....

It looks to me like they are entering our house through a small hole under our kitchen cabinet and having a hay day in the recycle bin we keep under there.  Tyler went to take out the recycle the other day and there it was, its beady little eyes staring back at Tyler for just a brief second before it bailed back through the crack.

They probably have a menagerie under our deck and now with the weather getting cold, they are looking for food and warmth inside.  Come one, come all is probably what they are telling their cousins, siblings, etc...It's an all you can eat buffett under the kitchen sink in the Bailey household.

Home Depot here we come!

Low Cost or No Cost-UPDATED

With Christmas rapidly approaching I wanted to share some low cost or no cost gift ideas for those with small children. 

We have many ornaments that the kids have made over the years they hang on our tree year after year.  Memory books.  Place mats.  Macaroni wreath with a picture in the middle of a toothless child.   I have a small clay bowl that Kyleigh made me years ago that I have on my desk at work that holds my paper clips.  Every time I look at it, it brings back memories of when she was young.  I have a "coffee cup" also at work that Tyler made that I keep my pens in. 

I know the "gifts" I cherish the most are the handmade gifts.  The ones that were made by the little hands of the ones I love the most.

These every day treasures didn't cost much to make but they are worth a million dollars to me.

Here are some quick and easy gift ideas that your small children can help make for gifts:

Handmade coupons for cleaning, babysitting, pet walking, yard work...
Ornaments (Craft Warehouse and Michael's have weekly ornaments making workshops)
Macaroni/Pretzel Wreath Picture Frame
Hands & Feet Reindeer (you can always laminate this so you or loved one can display in the years to come and remember back to when their hands/feet where so small)
Pine Cone Christmas Tree
Candy Cane Reindeer (These are always one of my favorites.  They are cute and yummy!)


Don't forget HomeDepot Kid Workshops on the first Sat of every month and Lowes also offers these on most Saturdays (Build & Grow).  Hayden goes to the HDK Workshop each month and always brings home cute projects and he gets a pin for his apron each time.  (Thank you MG for reminding me about these; I totally spaced them)

 If you are not very crafty, how about some easy cooking projects:

Homemade cookies in holiday bags/tins (Dollar Tree has a good assortment of bag/tins)
Cocoa In a Jar or Brownie/Cookie Mix in a Jar
Homemade Chex Mix (this is super easy and there are tons of recipes EVEN Gluten Free)
Homemade Salsa
Popcorn Balls (you can add food coloring to make them red/green)

This is just a few ideas of items that I have received and/or made over the years.  If you have any ideas that you would like to share, let me know and I will post them.

If you hover over each of the items, I have put a link for each to a coordinating website.

Happy Holidays!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Money Tree

Do you have a money tree? Is it flourishing with $20.00 bills? 

Unfortunately,  I don't ...therefore I am one of those "CRAZY" people out on Black Friday...at the crack of dawn or in the middle of the night depending on how you look at it.

I know you have heard about this...Black Friday...How can you not?  It is all over the place, on the news, in the ads, on the Internet....it is barreling towards us like an unstoppable freight train…Don’t try, there is nothing you can do about it so you might as well embrace it....

Every year around this time I go into stealth mode.  I am on a mission to get the most bang for my buck.    We do it every year…..  It has become a tradition in our household.  Now grant it there have been a few years when I really didn’t want to go hassle with the crowds, pushing and shoving for that coveted toy that by New Years will be broken in the bottom of the toy box, but I still do….

For the sake of saving A LOT of money and tradition.  It is the one day that my daughter will actually go shopping with me because you know, Mom isn’t cool anymore (not that I ever was in her eyes anyways).

On Thanksgiving Day after we are lethargic from all the turkey we have eaten, while most people are visiting with their family or watching football, Kyleigh and I, we plan our “attack”…Thumbing furiously through the ads highlighting the “coveted” items.  Of course, we ALWAYS hit the Fred Meyer SOCK Sale first (getting into line around 4am or so), yes, for SOCKS.  You know there are more items than just socks on sale but it has become known around here as “The Sock Sale.”  You know how expensive SOCKS are for a family of 6?   If I can get a years worth of socks for all of our family for half the price, I’m all over that…And I  really don’t buy socks again until the next BLACK FRIDAY (unless of course kids feet grow too much and grow out of the socks which rarely happens).

We also typically buy new pillows (full body pillows) and towels (sometimes Tupperware) since those are usually half off at Fred Meyers, too.

We then move onto the next stores and whatever else is on the list.  Target, Kmart, Old Navy, Best Buy….and we are usually done by 9am or so and then go out to breakfast (if we have any money left which we usually do).  Often times we get most, if not all, of our Christmas shopping done on Black Friday which is nice so we don’t have to be in the rush for the next couple weeks plus we end up saving TONS of money. 

Kill two birds with one stone...now that's what I'm talking about...

If you want a peek at some of the ads that have been released and/or leaked visit this website:


Do you shop on Black Friday?  What are the "coveted" items on your list?

If only....

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