Sunday, July 24, 2016

The Big 58! Inching towards the 60's

Well guess who celebrated a birthday this week?

This Girl!


Yep, me...me with that cheesy grin. Can you believe I'm 58 years old? It's hard for me to believe, in my mind I'm still in my early 30's, sometimes in my mind I'm still 18...but trust me, my body knows it's nearing 60! Those aches and pain remind me every day!

But it was a great birthday this year. It started out with a hug and birthday greetings from my mom who couldn't wait to give me my birthday gifts. She knows me so well and knows what I love!

A beautiful butterfly necklace and purse. I just love them! Thanks mom, you're the best and I love you!


Then I get to the office and my co-worker has all kinds of surprises for me. You can see in the first picture with the cheesy grin, all kinds of goodies! Starbucks coffee, my favorite, a beautiful blue creamer, sugar bowl and bowl that I love and she even made a special Lemon Cream Pie for me...low-carb!

Here's a close up of the dishware, I love them and her! Thank you Angelica! You're the best!


Later in the day I received this beautiful floral arrangement from my employers!


My wonderful sister Lisa put together a "girls" birthday celebration after work where family and friends got together to help me celebrate. With Margaritas, balloons, laughter and fun we had a great time!


It was a fun day and all the festivity made me feel like a kid again! Thank you all for sharing in this special day with me!





Sunday, July 10, 2016

Onion, Ham, Jalapeno and Cheese Frittata

July 7th was exactly one year that I have been on my low carb, high fat lifestyle and I've lost and maintained a consistent weight loss of 23 pounds. I was aiming for 1 pound a week which would have been 52 pounds, but I have to be realistic and realize that sometimes life happens and for one reason or another you can't stick to the plan. Don't fret and beat yourself up, just get right back up on that horse and keep on trucking! I know that is mixing up a couple of different quotes, but you get what I mean, you're a smart bunch!

In the spirit of my one year anniversary on LC/HF, I decided to share a great Frittata recipe! Cause why wouldn't I? I mean just look at this deliciousness!


I also love sharing recipes on my blog because that way I can always find the instructions on how to make something because I'm pretty forgetful!

So you start by melting 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter in a non-stick, oven safe pan. I used my cast iron pan which I love, love, love, but next time I will make sure to use it on a lower heat level. Once the butter is melted I toss in my diced onion and about a 1/2 teaspoon of salt and cracked pepper to taste. I just love the smell of onion caramelizing in butter, it makes my heart happy!


I cooked the onions...oh about 4 minutes, then added my chopped ham and diced jalapenos. I would have preferred to use red bell peppers but I didn't have any so I improvised. It's all my training from watching episode upon episode of Chopped and Iron Chef! I stirred and cooked that for about 2 minutes. 


While that was going on, I cracked 8 eggs in a bowl, added a 1/4 cup of half & half, but you can use milk if you so desire. I added a 1/4 teaspoon of salt and pepper and a dash of paprika and whisked the eggs. Then mixed in 1 cup of grated cheddar and I mixed in a bit of mozzarella as I didn't have enough cheddar to make up a cup. (Again, my Food Network Chef Training) See the little red flakes of Paprika in there? Yummmmm! Gives everything a great smokiness!


Now was the time to marry the ham, onion, jalapenos with the eggs and cheese and I said my blessings over them and they all became one with the world and it was beautiful!


So you gently stir to try to get all the ingredients uniform so they aren't all just clumped together in one spot and then you kinda leave them alone, see how they get along, for about 5 minutes. During this time you heat up your over broiler and then you place the whole pan under the broiler and you add a little heat to this beautiful marriage and see if they still blend beautifully even when things get hot! And they do and they did and it was good!



Wanted to cut into this right away but I know that patience is a virtue and so I covered it with foil and let it sit for about 5 minutes then turned it over onto a plate and then turned it over again onto another plate cause I wanted the pretty top to be showing. Then I cut into it!


And it was good and my heart was happy, especially after I paired that slice with my favorite low carb beverage.


So I enter into another year of low carb/high fat and here's to hoping I can lose another 23 pounds in the coming year.

RECIPE:   4 to 6 servings

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 large onion, diced (about a cup)
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Dash of Paprika
  • 8 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup Half & Half (you can use milk instead
  • 1 cup diced ham
  • 1 or two jalapenos, seeds removed and diced
  • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
DIRECTIONS:
Melt butter in a medium, non-stick, oven safe skillet. Add the onions and season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and cracked pepper to taste. Cook, stirring often for about 4 minutes until the onion gets soft, then add the diced jalapenos and ham stir and cook 2 or 3 more minutes.

Crack the 8 eggs in a bowl, add the half & half (milk) add 1/4 teaspoon salt, paprika and pepper again to taste and whisk and pour into the pan over the onions, ham and jalapenos. Stir to make sure the fillings are evenly distributed and cook, stirring gently a couple of times during the first minute of cooking, and then let the mixture cook undisturbed until the eggs are just beginning to set, about 5 minutes.

Transfer the skillet to the oven and broil 3 to 5 minutes until the eggs are just set. Remove from the oven, cover with foil and let sit for another 5 minutes, then invert onto a plate, then invert again. Cut into wedges and serve warm. 



Saturday, July 2, 2016

I'm Taking An Art Class

One of the things that I've always wanted to do is to draw. Draw and play piano. Draw and play piano and sky dive, yep...those three things are what I have have always wanted to do.

I'll admit now that I've taken piano lessons. Years of piano lessons, and I can play a mean Yankee Doodle Dandy...but that is about it! For some reason I just cannot read music. I haven't given up yet, someday I hope to take lessons again.

As to skydiving, I should have done it back in the day before I developed a fear of heights, now I know it's one of those things that I will never try! I get anxious just standing on a hotel balcony!

That leaves drawing. I think this one is still doable! So I'm taking an Art Class with my sister and our friend Lupe. Wish me luck because I have never had an eye or an aptitude for drawing. 

One of the classes was on perspective, which is tough for me. When I was in high school I wanted to join the Air Force. I took the test and failed. I failed because of questions like this. Once the shape below is folded up, what will the end result be? Can you guess? Answer later on, let me know if you got it. I didn't!


That being said, I'm learning that even someone who has no natural born talent with drawing can still draw using simple techniques. 

One Point Perspective is one way. You can find an explanation and really great diagrams at this link. I will admit it still took me a while to understand this concept while my sister got it right away.

Here was my first attempt. It's not bad, but the couch cushions are wrong and it throws off the room a bit.


Then I went rogue and during the week, outside of class I watched some youtube videos and came up with this. I thought I was doing really well on this one, but can you see the BIG mistake?


This is a subway train, people are going to sit in the seats and the ones that can't find seats will hang on to the poles. You got that right? Well first look at the seats on the left, see how they are almost sitting on the floor? Imagine if you will, someone sitting there, they are going to have their knees up by their ears!

And the seats on the right, imagine sitting there. You would have to jump up there or get a boost from another passenger and even once you were seated your legs would hang about three feet above the floor! FAIL!

But what I lack in artistic ability I make up for in perseverance, so I tried yet another one and this one I think I nailed and my art instructor said this one was pretty good as well.

We'll just call this one the hall in the library because this is the longest room I've ever seen! I'll keep practicing and the great thing is that it's very soothing to concentrate on this and it relieves a lot of tension!


Another technique that we learned just this week is drawing objects using shapes. He's teaching us to see the shapes around us and using 4 simple shapes we can draw almost anything.

In the drawing below, I drew the 4 shapes free-hand, not using a ruler so don't worry that they aren't perfect because one of the things that I am having to learn with art is that it's not perfect and sometimes it's those imperfections that make things beautiful; cones, cylinders, circles and squares. 

He had us make this simple diagram using those shapes and what does this drawing bring to mind? If you said a lamp you would be correct. I need to practice drawing this one some more because I drew it too big. Once I get the perspective of how big it should be I can add detail and make it look like a lamp.


With that lesson in mind, I drew this cute little guy. Can you see the shapes? What he had us do first in pencil was to draw him in shapes, the head, ears, eyes of course are circles. His paws are cylinders, the base of the cup is a cone. Once the shapes were there we simply created the rest of him and then outlined him with a black Sharpie, erased the shapes and there he was!


I'm really enjoying this and hope to learn more techniques and eventually be able to accomplish this! I would love to paint this on one of the fences in my backyard, that would be amazing! And since Lisa and Lupe are taking the class with me they can come and help! There's a method to my madness!


So that's what I'm up to this summer! Oh and by the way, don't think I forgot...the answer to the diagram question above is A. Did you get it right?






 

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Chicken Fajitas - Englishman Style!

I don't know why, but lately I've been on a cooking kick. Not a good time for a cooking kick since today and yesterday were our first full days of over 100 degree weather!

It's 102 outside right now! And I'm in here slaving over a hot stove...with an ice cold bottle of Michelob Ultra of course,! Hey, I don't have to suffer that much!


Yesterday I made some chicken and had three big breasts left over! Mom had gone shopping and found bell peppers on sale so she bought me 6! 3 Red and 3 Yellow ones and they were ripe! What to do with them, what to do?

I decided that I would make some Chicken Fajitas. You would think being that I am Mexican that it would be no problem, but I had never made Chicken Fajitas...so I went to YouTube and found a video by an Englishman by the name of Warren Nash.

Seriously! An Englishman from Nottingham, England who posted a video on how to make Mexican Chicken Fajitas with Mexican Mariachi music playing in the background! I fell in love with this guys accent and the way he said Oregano! So I followed his recipe. An Englishman taught this Mexican to make Fajitas!

First I prepped all my food. Chicken breast cut into strips, hence the name fajitas as fajitas is Spanish for strips. Then cut up onion the way Warren did it, then bell pepper.



While I was cutting up my veggies I marinated the chicken in a bowl with some Olive Oil, the juice of one lemon (I had no lime, sorry Warren), Cumin, Oregano, Salt and Pepper. I changed 2 things from Warrens recipe, I added no sugar since that adds carbs and I added the diced garlic in so that it would marinate with the meat.

Then it was time to get cooking! First I added Olive Oil to my favorite pan and added the onions. I stirred these lovelies for about 10 minutes. Oh the aroma!!!!


My poor mom came by to look in the pan and I told her, wouldn't you love to just put a spoonful of these in a torilla and just eat it? She HATES, DETESTS, DESPISES Onion! She looked at me like I was nuts and said "I wouldn't touch those things even with that wooden spoon!" I guess I don't have to share with her then, do I?

While they were caramelizing I decided to do something different from Warren, just cause I was feeling the Mexican blood boiling in my veins from the scent of the onions and I tossed in some chopped Jalapeno. Next time I'm leaving the seeds in!



I will tell you that at this point Warren adds the chicken. But maybe his chickens are not as juicy in Nottingham, England because I know now that at this point I would take the onions and jalapenos out of the pan and just saute the chicken alone in the drippings as it let out quite a bit of juice so the onions got more boiled than caramelized!


You can see that the onions are almost translucent in the photo above, I wanted them caramelized. But live and learn right? So I added the peppers and stirred and stirred, doesn't take long, maybe 10 to fifteen minutes since the chicken is sliced thinly into "fajtas"!

Voila! Chicken Fajitas as taught to me by Warren Nash, a Nottingham Englishman! Not bad for an Englishman and a Mexican right?


But no one had to teach me how to eat these babies! Just heated myself up a low-carb tortillas, added fajitas and guacamole...oh yeah, wait! I made guacamole. Just a simple one. Normally I add Jalapeno and Diced tomato but I wanted the Fajitas to be front and center.


Voila! Let's try this again, the finished product. Muy delicioso, Old Chap!



Saturday, May 14, 2016

A Beautiful Wedding - A New Life Together


Who doesn't love a wedding? On April 23rd, I had the honor and pleasure to attend the wedding of my nephew Sean, the son of my sister Lisa. It was a joyous occasion!

The day before the wedding the weather was horrible, the wind blowing like crazy, lightening, thunder, hail, rain, flooding! And the wedding was planned in an outdoor setting! The couple didn't even have a chance to hold their rehearsal because of the weather.

But the wedding day dawned bright and beautiful, much like the love between Sean and his beautiful beloved bride to be, Rocio!

Remember Baby J? I think this was the last picture I posted of her on my blog. Our little Minnie Mouse.




Minnie Mouse has grown up into a beautiful little girl who was the flower girl at her daddy's wedding. Here she is with Baby J's Nini and Poppa, my sister Lisa and her husband Sean Sr. Just Precious!

Don't my sister and her husband look way to young and gorgeous to be grandparents?




Of course I had to pin down that little flower girl and get a picture taken with her. She was starving and not about to let go of her bread so this was the best shot of all the photos I took with her and in every photo this little doll was eating! And eating carbs at that!





The Groom has three brothers who were all part of the wedding party as well. From left to right, Richard aka Richie, the oldest; Edward, then the baby of the family, Issac aka Ikie. Handsome boys!



The father of the four brothers, Sean Sr only knew how to deal with boys since he never had a daughter, but then this little Princess came into the picture and wrapped her Poppa around her little finger and life was never the same again! Here he is helping her to put her slippers back on! Like Cinderella and her Prince!



As you can see there's a lot of dirt in these photos. It was a year ago when the bride and groom choose this venue for their wedding and it was grassy and beautiful. Perhaps you've heard on the news that California is going through a drought? Well this is the result of the drought. Because this venue was outside the city limits and part of a running farm whose well dried up, the farmer was forced to use the water he has been able to get to nurture his animals and crops and not to water the lawns. A sad reality in California right now. But this couple persevered and the wedding was beautiful, dirt and all!

I wish my dad could have been here to see his "Tony" get married. Dad always called him Tony as his name is Sean Anthony. My mom was in attendance though, nothing could keep her away even though just a few weeks earlier she had been hospitalized for five days with double pneumonia! She was so happy for Sean, she's beaming in this picture!



The day was gorgeous, the bride and groom so much in love, weddings are so great!  Here's the new little family and I see so much happiness and joy in their future.



But as we all know, in marriage there are those days when you wonder, "why did I do this?" Just in case I want to post this video of a beautiful song by Kenny Chesney so that this couple always remembers this wedding day, their courtship and the many days filled with "The Good Stuff" that they will have in their future together and just let go of anything else because there will always be more "good stuff" than bad. Love you both Sean and Rocio!






 

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

My New Obsession - Art and The Red Dress



For several months I've been seeing lots of my friends and family members posting photos on Facebook of Wine and Paint Parties. Last night I had a chance to attend one of my own and I loved it. The quote above by Picasso is so true! Just spending one night creating Art helped me to forget the challenges and stresses of every day life, I recharged and it felt like I'd taken a trip to the beach...very relaxing!

The basic premise of a wine and paint party is that you gather together with a group of your friends and family at The Art Cellar. You start with a nice glass of Wine and a little social hour. Then the moment of truth and you sit at a long table with everyone and we each have an easel and paint brushes and a pallet of paint, brown, black, white, yellow and red. 



Then you follow the steps in this collage! Trace the dress image onto the canvas and take another sip of wine then draw arm holes and create the neckline, sip some wine, paint the shoulder area, get a refill on your wine glass and then the other steps just fall right into place! Play a few Trivia Games, sing along to some great music and just totally enjoy yourself!


Then it's time to look around and see what everyone else has created! You will be amazed when you see how creative everyone is and how everyone puts their own spin on the dress! They're like snowflakes, no two are alike!


Some are so unique that they aren't even a dress, like this beautiful flower my friend Pat created!



Shared the evening with my one and only favorite sister Lisa. Here we are holding up our creations. We had a great time and were both so glad that we went!




Our hostess for the evening was our friend Connie and here's her creation. Thank you Connie for a wonderful, relaxing, enjoyable evening!



Then of course the group shot! These ladies were wonderful. Our hostess Connie is the first lady from the left and you can see Pat holding up her unique flower picture. Great time beautiful ladies!



The second I walked in the door at home I found a great spot for my new work of art and I plan to return again soon! If you have one of these art galleries in your area I would recommend you take a class. I can't draw a square and look what I created!