December 29, 2011

Great Idea Looming

When we think back to childhood we all can identify with something that was a favorite toy or activity.  For me it was the Etch-a-Sketch; I have four of them still today.  For my friend Stephanie Harris it is the Pot Holder Loom.

Stephanie said when she was a kid she used to make millions of them; everyone got them as gifts and her family used them around the house, car and traveling in the family's RV.  She was never in short supply of loops to weave across her loom. After college Stephanie found herself in need of new potholders so she pulled our her loom that generated bright colored gifts for family and friends and started making herself new potholders.  She also replenished the well worn pot holders her mom still used. At that point she could go into the local store and find the cotton loops required to weave her new potholders. 

When I was a young girl I remember just randomly weaving color loops across the loom.  Stephanie weaves patterns into hers, "The letter "I" one is my favorite (the I with the full top and bottom of the letter!) and a 9-square pattern that I make is my second favorite."

Recently Stephanie wanted to weave back into the fun of childhood and make more potholders.  Unfortunately the cotton loops and metal looms are not available in stores, so she went online and was able to find an abundance of cotton loops and a new metal loom. Your local store might sell loops, but they are nylon; cotton loops hold up through the wash and remain durable.  "I have never felt heat through one." said Harris. 

I asked her where she purchased her supplies and she told me she bought them at  (Cotton Loops  Metal Weaving Loom.) She also said she found a "higher quality" of loops on that are specially made for  potholder looms.

“I love both types...the "imperfect" ones have a lot of character, but they are "imperfect." Some don't fit, some are flawed, so you can't use all of them. But you get so many in the bag it doesn't matter. And they are still nice and make very high quality potholders.

The Harrisville ones are "perfect." Every loop fits and is useable, they colors are very bright and vibrant, and they actually make slightly larger potholders.

In the future, I will continue to do the mix of brands. I got a TON of white loops with the Wool Novelty set and none with the Harrisville set, so I did mix and match the two brands in some potholders. With the Harrisville brand, you can purchase bags of individual colors, though. So if your kitchen is black and red, you can buy bags of black, red, and white loops to customize.”

Since her recent restart Stephanie has made 34 new pot holders.

December 27, 2011

Getting honest about losing 30 lbs.

The Christmas holiday has now past. Though I didn't over indulge during meals, I felt like I snacked too much. I set a goal to lose 30 lbs in 2012, I want to use the last five days of this month to refocus on good eating and exercise habits.

I brought my breakfast, lunch, and because I work at my part-time job tonight, my dinner today. I am reconnecting with, a free online food journal, to track what I eat, including everything from my morning coffee to any snacks, and what exercise I am getting. One thing I wish I would have remembered today is my pedometer.
So where am I at? Well here is where honesty comes in and it gets a bit personsal. I am comfortable sharing because maybe it will inspire someone else and it professing it publicly helps keep me accountable.
I am a single woman balancing full-time work life with full-time personal life. Awesome at keeping commitments to others, but I often forget to take care of myself. I have always been the heavy friend, the thick girl & the girl who guys overlook I feel because of my weight. I saw the word “obese” in my medical file. I don’t feel “obese”, but according to medical guidelines I am. I want to be a woman that continues inspires others. I want guys to ask me out. I want to wear a sassy cocktail dress.

In July of 2009, I went in for my annual physical. Because I was one year away from 40 my doctor and I started talking about baselines for things like mammograms (which I had when I was 35), bone density and because I was born with one kidney, she thought it would be best to have a baseline on that. To make a long story a bit shorter, I had a scan done at the clinic and the results of that lead me to seeing a kidney specialist because of some concerns. I had a kidney stone that measured ¼” x 1 ½”, a constricted urethra tube and possible reflux between the urethra tube and bladder. Again there is more to the story, but the protection of the kidney and prevention of further stones was the goal. The specialist referred me to a dietitian. I met with her on January 13, 2010. We discussed how and what I ate, exercise (or lack there of) and what changes we were going to make. I went in very honest and even told her I canceled my gym membership the week before; part of the reason was not making time to go, the other part was the expense. I told her at that point my goal is to have a treadmill at home so even if it is 15 minutes in the morning or while dinner is cooking I can walk. The dietitian gave me some foods to eliminate from my diet and we discussed portions and food servings. I was told during my first meeting with the specialist that I was to drink a MINIMUM of 3 liters of water a day (just short of 1 gallon).
I love to cook so I make sure I am making healthy meals for myself. I might sound cliche, but I find it saves money. I watch the ingredients I add; using a many fresh ingredients as I can and finding ways to cut fats and sodium. Quit adding salt to everything people!!

When I first saw the specialist in September 2009 I was at 221 lbs. I was not happy. Three months laterI had a pre-op physical and I was at 219 lbs.  I hovered between 210 and 219 for the next 2 years. As of last night I am at 208 lbs.  If..NO..WHEN I lose the 30 lbs in 2012 I will be at 178.

December 22, 2011

Make a list and check it...until it's done.

With a new year fast approaching the question “Do you have a new year’s resolution?” becomes the topic of conversation. It doesn’t matter if you resolve to lose weight, quit smoking, or learn to Tango; to be successful it often takes some sort of planning or maybe short term goals.  I am guilty of making lists of things to do each year; this year I have my 12 in '12 list. Making a list helps me keep the goals in front of me and having some of them made public provides inspiration (and maybe some pressure) to complete the list.   

People often say to me “You are always busy.  How do you get it all done?”  Simple: I make lists.

"People are attracted to lists because we live in an era of overstimulation, especially in terms of information," says David Wallechinsky, a co-author of the fabulous Book of Lists, first published in 1977 and followed by subsequent editions. "And lists help us in organizing what is otherwise overwhelming."

Did you know some of the most influential people like Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin were list makers?  I get my love of making lists from my dad; he always has a list scratched on paper.  Even in the age of smartphones with apps to track your “to do list” I, like my dad, still use the old fashion paper and pencil (or pen) method.  I have tried putting my lists in my phone, but find it a bit more work to be honest with you; besides I like the satisfaction of throwing away a completed list.

Note: I do not use POST-it notes for my lists.

December 19, 2011

Popcorn Salad

My friend Brenda Buus made this salad for me the first time I had it.  I thought "Is she crazy? Popcorn Salad?" She had made it before and it was a big hit. I was game and she was right it was good. She found this recipe on All  I have made it a few times for people who were probably saying, "Is she crazy? Popcorn Salad?"

10 slices bacon
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1 cup diced celery
1 1/4 cups shredded Cheddar cheese,
1 (8 ounce) can sliced water chestnuts,
1/4 cup shredded carrots
2 tablespoons minced fresh chives
6 cups popped popcorn
1. Place bacon in a large, deep skillet. Cook over medium high heat until evenly brown. Drain, crumble and set aside.
2. In a large bowl, combine the mayonnaise, celery, 1 cup of the cheese, water chestnuts, 1/2 cup bacon, carrots and chives. Mix well. Add popcorn and stir to coat. Sprinkle with remaining cheese and bacon and serve immediately.

December 14, 2011

Coconut Oatmeal Cookies

I automatically doubled the recipe

* 1/2 cup self rising flour
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
* 1/3 cup sugar
* 1 large egg
* 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla
* 1 1/2 cups sweetened shredded coconut
* 1/2 cup oatmeal
1. Preheat the oven to 375°. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
2. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar at medium-high speed until creamy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the egg and vanilla. Beat in the flour on low speed. Stir in the coconut and oatmeal
3. Place rounded teaspoons of dough about an inch apart on the prepared cookie sheet. Bake until the edges are golden, 12-15 minutes. Let cool on a rack.

December 8, 2011

Small Town - Big Party - Great Time!

Twas a few weeks before Christmas and all though the store 
customers were sampling foods that they soon would adore...

Radermacher's have been part of the Jordan, Minnesota community since 1954 when Roman Radermacher bought the Red Owl Agency store on Water Street.  Eventually the store moved to it's current location at 500 West 2nd Street in 1981.  Throughout the next three decades the family business continued to grow and partner with major grocery chain Cub Foods.  In 2006 the family started rebranding their company and the next year the Radermacher's officially changed the name of their company to Radermacher's Fresh Market. They wanted to reflect the cornerstone of what has been a family tradition; providing customers the freshest products in produce, meat, deli, and their bakery.  Their goal is to serve our customers "better than anyone else can."

On December 7, 2011 the Jordan store hosted their annual Holiday Open House.  The event draws people of all ages to sample wonderful flavors of the holidays. As you made your way around the stores there was no shortage of wonderful food to try, all which can be found at Radermacher' Fresh Market.  According to grocery manager Chris Thom, "we had about 2,500 people in the store for the holiday open house."

Lexi and Miss Jordan Ali Paul
Guests were welcomed by Miss Jordan Ali Pauly and her princesses Lexi Johnson and & Trisha Laabs.
You almost forgot the chilly temperature outside when you saw the produce department's tropical display of  pineapples and pomegranates in the shape of a Christmas tree.  Pomegranates can often be avoided because of their reputation for being hard to prepare.  Radermacher's and their produce supplier, H.Brooks & Company, brought in the perfect tool to assist with removing the arils in a pomegranate-the 60 Second Pomegranate Deseeder by Seed Out!.  This tool is a great idea for anyone who loves pomegranate.  Pomegranates are a super food high in vitamin C and potassium, a great source of fiber, and low in calories. The high level of antioxidants are credited with helping in the prevention of cancer and heart disease. (Pomegranate Council, 2011).

As visitors made their way to the meat department the aroma of freshly cooked ham and Radermacher's Signature Smoked Brisket filled the air. Both meats were perfectly cooked and made you want to have your holiday dinner right there.  In addition to the carving station, you could try a variety of appetizer that would make any Minnesotan proud; smoked salmon, herring, a quick liver pate, lefse with lingonberry jam, and pickle roll up dip.

Signature Smoked Chicken Pasta Salad
Everything I tried I enjoyed and would serve at any party I had.  I would have to say my favorite part of the store was the deli department--hey, they have cheese and I love cheese.  Before I even got to the cheese I sampled the Signature Smoked Chicken Pasta Salad.  It is available year round in the deli.  The secret, I found out, is they use their rotisserie chicken.  After my Signature Smoked Chicken Pasta Salad a Christmas tree of olives (another favorite deli item of mine) awaited me.Though you could not sample from the tree they did have olives for you to sample.  I definitely will be using this idea at one of my events. Olives were provided by Dellalo Olives.  
The reason for the deli visit was the cheese and I did not need to wait any longer, it was time!  Brie cheese is a popular cheese throughout the year.  I am always looking for new ways to serve my brie to guests; thanks to Radermacher's I have a new way - Parmesan Encrusted Brie.

Eichten Hidden Acre Cheese samples were available.  Eichten's is a local farm in Center City, Minnesota that has been producing all natural artisan cheese since 1977.
Tomato Basil Gouda, Smoked Gouda, Tilsit, Chipotle Pepper Gouda

Wild Rice Gouda           Smoked Gouda               Tilsit
The bakery also enticed guests with fabulous desserts including fresh baked gourmet cookies, Napoleon dessert, applesauce bars, and Radermacher's berry or cream filled cakes.  I had to resist putting the tray of applesauce bars in my purse because they would be the perfect treat on a cold day with a hot up of cider. 

Applesauce Bars

The various departments were not the only ones serving great holiday ideas, the aisle were full of people sampling pizza, lasagna, ice cream and much more.  The staff also walked around with samples of Sweet Chex Mix, Virginia Peanuts, cheese, breads and desserts. Everywhere you turned there was something new to try. If you left hungry it would have been your own fault. 
No holiday party is complete without Santa.  He was there getting everyone's Christmas list. After visiting Santa everyone got a candy cane.  I made sure to give him my list too

In addition to tasting the wonderful food and beverages Radermacher's had to offer, guests could partake in horse and wagon rides, visiting with Santa, and making Rudolph cupcakes.
These cupcakes would be an easy activity for any age.

Save time and stress by purchasing cupcakes frosted with chocolate frosting from the bakery department.
For each reindeer, carefully snap two pretzels into antler shapes and press them into a chocolate frosted cupcake.  Add 2 white chocolate chips for the eyes; dot each one with black gel frosting.  Use 1 cinnamon candy for the nose. (You could also use a red M&M) and enjoy!

Radermacher's goal to serve their customers "better than anyone else can" and their Holiday Open House is just one example of that goal.  From the moment I walked in the door I and was greeted by a young man on his way out to help someone outside (he had his coat on so I didn't see his name) to the time I checked out with Kelly at register #1 I felt like I was a customer who shopped there every week.  

...With the parking lot full and more folks appear
Thank you to Radermacher's their holiday cheer!

December 2, 2011

Spicy Artichoke Dip

This simple dip is a crowd favorite.  I have made it for my friend Mike Boe's birthday the past two years and when I have made a triple batch, yes I said "triple", there has been nothing left. 

1 1/2 c. Real Mayonnaise

1 c. Parmesan cheese, grated
1 (14 oz.) can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1 (4 oz.) can chopped green chilies, drained
1 (6 oz.) can water chestnuts, drained and chopped
2 tbsp. chopped green onions
2 garlic cloves, minced

Mix all ingredients together in an oven-safe dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until lightly browned. Serve with crackers, crusty bread or even veggies.

December 1, 2011

Add Some Sparkle with Derek (TheLavishKing) Ivy

I am currently working with Derek (TheLavishKing) Ivy in Kansas City, MO to add sparkle to my Minnesota Wild hat by adding Swarovski Crystals.
Hat Before

Not a hat wearer? Derek also adds Swarovski Crystals to shirts, pumps, t-shirts, blazers, letterman jackets, etc.. Each piece is custom made so no two items are identical.  Derek works with you to ensure your item is exactly how you want it; price of items are determined by how many crystals are used.

I have posted a link to Derek's YouTube videos on the side of my blog.  You can also find him on Facebook by clicking this link THELAVISHKING. Don't forget to let him know you found him on my blog!  You can also contact me for his email or phone number to place your order.

Stay tuned to see how my hat turns out. 

Here are some more examples of Derek (TheLavishKing) Ivy work. 
Kansas City Royals Before

Kansas City Royals After

November 30, 2011

Why you check recipes before sharing them

My coworker Marci and I have been discussing all sorts of cooking ideas and recipes.  She told me about her husband likes to collect recipes. His favorite method might just be a covert op of tearing out recipes from the array of magazines in the waiting rooms.  Oops...I hope I don't blow his cover.  She recently shared a few recipes he typed up for their friend.  It wasn't until after the friend received the recipe did Marci notice something was a bit odd.

For your reading enjoyment: