Off My Chest

Rant #137

I have something I need to get off my chest. I've been carrying around my irritation over the subject for weeks now, fuming over it, being annoyed by it, and seeking validation from my friends about it. Several weeks back, I attended a get-together and was asked to provide something to the meal. After careful evaluation of what others were bringing, I opted for a favorite side dish of mine, and some cupcakes for dessert.

Now, before I get into the dirty details, I should say that I have a rule for Brielle at my house. We all know that kids can say some random things, at random times, so our rule is this:  

If you're given food you do not like, or do not care for, politely say "no thanks."  DO NOT criticize the cook, or express words of disgust to anyone. Keep it to yourself.

As goes the conversation with a teenage boy I did not know as I help myself to a second serving (I know, shame on me) of my favorite side dish (name of side dish to be omitted, to avoid incrimination)...

BOY:  "You don't want those."

ME:  "Why?"

BOY:  "Because they are tasteless."

ME:  "Excuse me?" (completely shocked)

BOY:  "They are the most tasteless, disgusting (side dish) I've ever had. You really don't want to have any."

ME:  "I'm sorry?" (confusion sets in and anger starts to brew)

BOY:  "I'm not joking.  They're gross."

(I point to the cupcakes)

ME:  "What if the same person that made those, made (side dish)?"

BOY:  "That's not possible."

ME:  "Ya sure about that? (now, I'm furious)

BOY:  "The person who made those cupcakes could never had made (side dish)."

I shoved the largest bite of (side dish) in my mouth, exaggerating my every move, and stormed out of the kitchen. And then ate 2 cupcakes, which surprisingly, did not make me feel better.

At least Thumper's mom taught him right. "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all!"

There.  I feel better now.

MyPlate by LiveStrong

Click HERE for More Info
This may not mean anything to you, but it is my new weight loss help tool. I downloaded it to my iPad and I love it. It's the MyPlate LiveStrong.com Calorie Tracker and Weight Loss app.

I love it more than the WeightWatchers online tool.  And I almost love it as much as my Grocery Store List app. It is so easy to use, doesn't take a lot of time to enter workouts & meals, and you don't have to worry about calculating points. Whoot! Whoot!  I'll continue to track my progress using this app on my Project Skinny {R2} page.

It's not a free app, but so far, it's been worth the $2.99.


Chewy Cherry Almond Granola Bars

I'm in the "we need to stop eating so much processed food" mode.  Between cereal, crackers, chips, bread, etc. is seems that we eat more processed junk than we do whole foods.  Brielle especially.  She lives for anything processed and getting her to eat otherwise is challenging.  She prefers a bowl of Reese's Puffs Cereal to a bowl of homemade soup.  

We've since replaced sugary cereal with some fresh fruit & yogurt smoothies -- bit hit.  Next, I thought I'd better home-make some snack foods rather than buying them.

I stumbled upon a Chewy Cherry & Almond Granola Bar from Iowa Girl Eats.  All I had to see was "cherry" & "almond" and I was instantly sold.  L.O.V.E. that flavor combination.  After calculating the nutritional info, here is what I found:
  • 138 Calories - each slice is about the size of a regular granola bar, which can be 150 to 180 calories a piece.
  • 9 grams of Fat - however, because the main ingredient is almonds, and you use coconut oil (which Dr. Oz raves about) in the binder, they are all good fats.
  • 13 Carbs - not bad.
  • 3.5 grams of Protein.
Perfect after school snack... mid morning snack... or lunch box addition. So, rather than continue to document my families poor eating habits, we'll move on to where you can find the recipe.

Chewy Cherry-Almond Granola Bars COURTESY OF IOWA GIRL EATS

For RECIPE, click HERE

I didn't have pecans on hand... just almonds, which worked just fine.  They are sweet (but not too sweet), chewy and a bit tart from the dried cherries.  Oh, and they literally took me 10 minutes to make.

Give them a try!  I hope you like them as much as we do!  Now I'd better sign off to go clean up the mess in my kitchen left behind from making them.


Snickerdoodle Cupcakes

If you are a fan of a Snickerdoodle Cookie, then you can't go wrong with a Snickerdoodle Cupcake.  Aside from the texture (and the dollop of super fluffy marshmallow frosting) it literally tastes like a Snickerdoodle.

I started with my perfected Vanilla Cupcake recipe (why use something different when it works every single time).  HOWEVER...  I did add a 1/2 tsp Cinnamon to the batter.

I then made my Marshmallow Frosting.  Now, while you are making this frosting, it may not seem like you're making much, but trust me, once it has been completely beat into submission and filled with air, it will double in size.

Marshmallow Frosting (sometimes called Seven-Minute Frosting)
  • 3/4 cups Sugar
  • 2 Tbsp Water
  • 3 Egg Whites
  • 1/2 tsp Vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp Cream of Tarter
To a sauce pan, add sugar and water and let simmer until the sugar mixture reaches 230 degrees on a candy thermometer.  While that's cooking, beat egg whites in a mixer fitted with the wisk attachment until you have stiff peaks.  Add the cream of tarter.

With the mixer on medium speed, slowly add the sugar mixture by pouring it down the side of the mixing bowl.  The hot sugar will cook the egg whites, turn the frosting very glossy, and you'll end up with a fluffy marshmallow frosting.

Do not stop mixing until the bowl is cool to touch (roughly 7 minutes).  At this point, add the vanilla and continue to mix until combined.  Now it's ready to pipe onto cupcakes, or frost a cake, and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar.

Frosting Disclaimer.  Marshmallow mixtures tend to be dry, so I suggest not making the frosting until you intend to serve them. 

Lazy Afternoon

You'd think they had died.

But not.  Just like everyone else, they are enjoying the warm temps, and Spring sunshine.


Family Night Favorite -- Caramel Popcorn

My twin introduced me to this caramel popcorn recipe, but I've modified it a bit to my own personal liking.  This treat has become a family night favorite and is gone within seconds.  Since my life has become a "throw some chick-fil-a chicken on a salad and call it dinner" kind of life... easy and quick is what I look for.

You'll need:
  • 1/3 cup Butter
  • 1/3 cup Brown Sugar
  • 8-10 large Marshmallows
  • 1 bag Microwave Popcorn (I use Light Butter)
While the popcorn is popping,  I melt butter with brown sugar in a sauce pan until smooth.  Add the marshmallows and continue to stir until completely combined.  Drizzle over popcorn when done, allow to cool slightly, then enjoy.


Spring Soccer

What do cute little soccer chicks do when it's 46 degrees, the wind is blowing, it's raining and they are sidelined for a bit?

They steal my chair and blanket, and cuddle.


Teacher Appreciation Week

Teacher Appreciation Week is coming soon in May (yes, May is like... 3 weeks away).  So naturally, I've been spending hours in front of the computer creating tags for teacher gifts. Maybe... just maybe, I'll be so on top of things, that I'll actually post a picture of the teacher gift, complete with tag, right here on my blog.

But lately, being "on top of things" is not the story of my life.  Then again, Teacher Appreciation Week starts May 7th, so it's possible 4 weeks is enough time.

I see this "Smart Cookie" tag being attached to a box full of chocolate chips cookies (made by someone else of course, because I am no good at cookies).

The "S'mores" tag would be attached to a bag filled with all the fixin's for homemade s'mores.

I've posted pdf files of both tags on my Printables page.  Have at 'em if you want them!


No cast!

Soccer season may now officially begin.



We packed up, headed out, and lucky for us, avoided the Spring Snow Storm that hit Cache Valley during Spring Break.  Our Easter weekend was spent visiting the in-laws in Tridell and even though we left the snow behind, the cold weather still followed.  It. Was. Frigid.  

Easter weekend, however, was gorgeous and warm, and gave us the perfect opportunity for an outdoor Easter Egg Hunt.  The mom's stuffed roughly 250+ eggs full of treats, and the dad's hide 'em.

Now, although the some of the eggs look creatively placed, I must say that these particular egg hiding dads were lazy.  With hundreds of acres on the farm, you'd think they could have found many more creative places to hide the eggs, supplying the kids with a lot more than 5 minutes of egg finding fun.

Because the hunt ended so quickly, we were forced to watch my husband act like a fool.  And oh boy, did he look like a fool.

But we still love him.


Brielle walked away with plenty of candy and an Easter basket filled with lots of fun stuff.  Izzy... well, Izzy spent the weekend guarding her squeaker toy from another pup with an attitude problem.  I also saw her steal a few candy filled eggs (which wasn't hard since they were just laying in the lawn).


Rodeo... Merkley Style

I have absolutely no idea what to say about these photos.  Except, maybe, that I married a goof ball.



 My most favorite girl... by far.