Monday, January 30, 2012

New Year New Stuff!

Well, I had no New Year's Resolutions to work on. Not that I'd make them if I did, but you know.

But it IS a new year here so we got some NEW stuff!

It all started with a new BLENDER!
Our previous blender, a Black & Decker with a beautiful glass jar, met an untimely end at the hands of a "helping" 1 year old. Or maybe he was playing. All I know is when I tried to remove octopus-boy from the dishwasher, the glass jar came with him. It was like slow motion. I SAW it fall from about 5 feet up. (I had picked him up to get him away from it.) So now we have a new Waring Stainless Steel Blender that we got from (An Acumen Brands store!) It's awesome! I've made my 2 point smoothies in it several times now. It also has less parts to clean than our old one. You just put soapy water in it and turn it on! (with the lid on, of course....)

Next, I ordered a Cuisinart Mini Prep Plus 4-cup Food Processor! I've been seeing recipes in several places *cough Pinterest cough* that called for slicing and dicing things in a food processor. I asked for one for Christmas but Santa must have been busy with other things and forgot to make it for me....Of course, after Christmas I looked at prices. Holy moly! $200???? So I searched some more and found this one for $39.99 on with free shipping! I made Chocolate Covered Katie's Cookie Dough Dip last week. It is fantastic! Everything was chopped just perfectly. I can't wait to try it for more things. (and I would have posted a picture of the dip, but, um, we ate it. All of it. Every last bit!)

Moving out of the kitchen and into the home office..... Our old Lexmark printer had quit working wirelessly about a year ago. So Jim just plugged it into his computer and added it to our network. (the cabled kind) A few weeks ago, as I was trying to print out a recipe for Quinoa and Black Beans, it quit. I mean, quit. Just kaput. Zip. Zilch. Nada. The computer would say "Printing page 1" but the printer just sat there like my 8 year old daughter being told to go to bed. (yes, it was IGNORING us!) So I got to go printer shopping! I started with my favorite ratings place I read review after review after review. I finally settled on an HP Photosmart 6510 eAll-in-One. I actually bought it from the HP store for $119 instead of the list price of $149 AND I got free shipping. Yay! And here's the weird but best part...I ordered it on Friday morning about 10:00 am. It arrived on Saturday morning around 11:00 am! That's 24 hours! Talk about customer service. Maybe I can score some cool ink deals on there, too. Yea right....    (One cool feature of this prints from our iphones and the ipad! How cool is that?)

I know you won't believe me, but I have even MORE new stuff to talk about. But this post is long enough and the other new things are bigger. So I'll discuss them when I can get better pictures and not bore you any longer. 

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Pins, Pinning, Pinterest!

So have you heard about Pinterest? It's the latest thing, I guess. It's both easy and hard to describe what it's like.

Easy --
It's a pinboard. Think pushpins or thumbtacks. In olden days of yore, you'd find a picture of something you liked in a magazine or newspaper. You'd cut it out and "pin" it to some cork board. A bulletin board. Message board. Things like that. So this website is just one big electronic cork board where people "pin" images of things they find interesting. (Pin + Interest = Pinterest! I didn't really have to explain that, did I?)

Hard --
Pinterest is filled with a million and one things to look at. There are "pins" for fitness, desserts, work outs, wedding dresses, outfits, hairstyles, photography ideas, baby ideas, kid ideas, teacher ideas, gift ideas, oh the list goes on. I saw one pin last night that said "Pinterest is like fantasy football for girls."

I resisted going there when I first heard about it because everyone said it was addicting. They were right! It's even more of a time waster than facebook, in my opinion. At least on facebook you are keeping up with news of your friends and family whom you might not otherwise talk with on a regular basis. On Pinterest, well, you're just wasting time. :)

HOWEVER, while it is a big time suck, it's not totally pointless. (haha!) By clicking on some pictures of things I liked, I've found a couple of new blogs to check out.

Can You Stay for Dinner?
This blog is by Andie Mitchell. She's a 26 year old who lost 135 lbs! She posts healthy recipes. Her story and take on exercising and weight maintenance is a great read. Since I'm in the middle of losing weight (15 pounds down!) I found it very inspiring.

Chocolate-Covered Katie -- the healthy dessert blog
I just found this one today by a pin of her "chocolate chip cookie dough dip." I totally have to try this now! It's made with chickpeas.....which sounds utterly gross but she took some to a party and everyone loved it! Being on Weight Watchers, I'm trying to find a way to have my cake and eat it, too. Or at least something similar.

So I'll keep checking Pinterest. Maybe not as much as I have been.....It's kind of like facebook in that you have to wait awhile for there to be new content. But there are some neat things to look at.

And who says girls can't have their own fantasy football team! LOL!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Point-less cake pops

So I figured out how to make cake pops. They are so much fun!

They are also incredibly fattening.....

I calculated the Weight Watchers Points Plus value for a regular cake pop. I came up with 3 points per pop.

3 points!!!

Which was actually less than I thought it would be. However, I wondered if I could make them less "expensive."

Also, I have a confession. I've found the taste of regular cake pops to be......sweet. As in, they had no flavor except sweet. Now, did that stop me from eating them? Oh heck no! But they weren't just the most scrumptious things I'd ever put in my mouth.

So I also set out to make them tastier.

I've been making Yum Yum muffins from Hungry Girl and Weight Watchers for a couple of months now. All they are is a devil's food cake mix and a 15 oz. can of pumpkin. Mix together and bake for about 20 minutes. You can't taste the pumpkin and it makes an incredibly moist cake. If you make 24 muffins, they are 2 points a piece. For comparison purposes, regular cupcakes are 4 points a piece.

Also from a Weight Watchers meeting, I discovered a new product! It's called PB2. It is powdered peanut butter. Somehow these people have figured out a way to get all the fat and oil out of peanuts. Then all you have to do is mix 2 tablespoons of powder with 1 tablespoon of water and voila! A tablespoon of peanut butter with a Points Plus value of 1. (A tablespoon of regular peanut butter is 5 points! yikes!)

It also comes in chocolate!
(But for this recipe, I used the regular flavor.)

So, as I was eating the last batch of cake pops at Christmas, I thought to myself. Hmmm, how could I make these have less points? Then I remembered those muffins. I also thought, how can I make these tastier? Then I remembered the PB2.

Chocolate and peanut butter?

Yep yep!

Even though they were the absolute last thing I needed to have around, I made another batch today. I had baked the muffins in a 9x13 pan the other day. Once again, I used only half of the finished cake. (I don't need 70 cake pops even if they are less points....) I had no idea how much PB2 it would take. I started with 3 finished tablespoons and it worked great!

I made the balls as usual and placed them in the freezer.

For the coating, well, there really is no substitute. They don't make fat free coating. I doubt they make a sugar free coating, though you could always look for one. But it would have to have artificial sweeteners in it and I try to avoid those.
I used Wilton light cocoa candy melts. Once again, I had to add shortening to thin it.

It worked! And the cake was very moist. They taste kind of like a peanut butter fudge ball.

The Points Plus value??????


Yes, I know. Big whoop. One freaking point. Of course, it means that if you eat 3 cake pops, that's only 6 points instead of 9. Every little bit helps, right?

I also had some left over red candy melts. So I used them to fancy them up a bit. Plus, I'm really getting into a Valentine's Day craft and baking mode. That can't be good. Well, for me, at least. My family and Jim's coworkers will love it! LOL!
And finally, I had leftover chocolate coating that I hate to waste. So I drizzled it over some pretzels. Yum!

(And if you want to talk math with me and see how I calculated the Points Plus values, ask me in the comment section. I love talking math with people!)

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Resolution Rant

Happy New Year's! It's January 1st. Time for my annual rant about the pointlessness of New Year's Resolutions!

Have you made any resolutions? Decided that Sunday was a good time to make a change? Thought that a new calendar brings with it skinniness, wealth, and happiness?

No?? Yes???

Ok, then. I have a secret.

It doesn't work that way!

Anyone who decides to change something just because it's January, the 1st, or they hung a new calendar is not going to succeed.

Unless you're my mother-in-law. One year, she resolved to "get fit". Or something like that. She began by dancing around in her kitchen to music she liked. Then she took an aerobics class. Then she TAUGHT an aerobics class. She ended up being an aerobics instructor full time. She even returned to college and got a degree! She's certified to teach many different types of exercise, swimming, and CPR. (I hope I'm getting all of these details right!) She also does personal training.

She IS the 1%.

The (approximate) 1% of people who make a New Year's resolution and stick to it. (The 1% is my number because you know that 79.5% of all statistics are made up on the spot, right? ;)

The rest of us, well, let's just say it doesn't usually work out that way.

So here are my 3 guidelines for making changes that will actually become CHANGES. That you'll stick with and incorporate into your daily life.

1. You gotta get mad!
To paraphrase Dave Ramsey, you've got to get sick and tired of BEING sick and tired! You have to put some emotion into it. You've got to get mad at the problem! You have to decide, once and for all, that you're not going back to that dress size, that food, that significant other, that job, that crappy situation. That whatever you have to do to change things is ok because it's easier than staying where you are.

2. Start small.
So I'm going to exercise every day this week. WRONG! You're going to tell yourself to exercise 2 days this week. Then 3 days next week, Then 4, etc. OR, you can also tell yourself, I'm going to exercise today. And not worry about tomorrow. Then tell yourself the same thing tomorrow. Take it one day at a time. Rome wasn't built in a day and these habits you're trying to change won't be changed in a day. We tend to get off course not by making one huge wrong turn but by making many small ones.

3. Describe your first step in actual words.
Make it a step you can do. "Yell at my family less" is very vague. Try something like, "count to 10 before calmly asking them to pick up their coats." Same thing with "exercise more". What does that look like? Rephrase it to say "walk on treadmill for 20 minutes while baby naps." (heh, heh, yes that's mine. Not off to a good start. I'm blogging instead!)

Change IS possible. New habits CAN be formed. They can even begin on January 1st. But they are more likely to begin when YOU decide they're going to begin. Whether that's January 1st, Feb 23rd, July 18th or any time in between. You'll change something when YOU decide it's time to change.

So don't feel bad if the resolution thing just doesn't work for you. It doesn't work for me. Nor for most people. But don't lose hope. Change is possible but YOU have to decide that it's possible!