Monday, monday…

January 27th, 2009 by Karen

I am deciding today was a total wash. There was nothing spectacular that went wrong, just lots of little things went awry, got broken and my shoulder is throbbing for the third day in a row. Coupled with my crampy lower back pain and the fact that my husband is ill and I’m just a certifiable hot mess today. It’s only 10 pm, but I’m calling it a day.

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Dining for One

January 20th, 2009 by Karen

Quick Minestrone – great for that small piece of leftover steak that you know you shouldn’t eat right now

1 TBSP vegetable oil
1 zucchini, chopped
small piece of leftover meat, chopped small
1 can chopped tomatoes (or whole and cut them up)
~8 oz green beans (fresh is better than frozen is better than canned)
1/2 envelope lipton onion soup mix
16 oz water
handful of macaroni/bowtie/similar pasta

In a saucepan on medium heat, add oil, zucchini & meat. Cook 2 minutes then add tomatoes, green beans and water and bring to a boil. Add the onion soup mix and pasta and stir well. Reduce heat to low and cover and cook for about 10 minutes. Add pepper and salt to taste.


Crock Pot “Roast” – rather than a big roast, get a nice size steak, roll it up and tie with butchers twine.

“Roast” (this also works great with cheaper cuts of meat that are normally tougher)
1 medium onion
1 or 2 carrots, sliced into pieces an inch or so long
1 or 2 celery stalks, sliced
1 envelope lipton onion soup mix
1 beef boullion cube

Tie up your steak and place in crock pot along with the vegetables. Dump in the onion soup mix, boullion cube and add enough water to come a little more than halfway up the side of the rolled steak. Cook for about 2 hours and check for doneness. (Timing will depend on the size of your roast)


Broccoli & Almonds

1 head of broccoli, chopped
2 green onions, sliced thin
2 TBSP butter
2 TBSP or so sliced almonds (bulk foods is great for this rather than the baking aisle)

Melt butter over high heat. When it’s hot, add broccoli, onions and almonds. Stir constantly until broccoli is tender, but still bright green. Remove from heat and squeeze lemon over after plating.


Saucepan Baked Apples
2 large baking apples (mackintoshes, rome, gala…I prefer the red blush colored ones)
2 spoonfuls of sugar
1/2 C water

Scoop out the core of the apples, but don’t pierce the bottoms. In the hole, add the sugar until almost full, add a pat of butter on top and sprinkle with cinnamon. Pour water into saucepan and carefully add apples. Cover and bring water just to a boil over medium heat. Lower the heat and cook for about 20 minutes or until tender. A nice variation on this is brown sugar.


Caesar Chicken and Orzo Pasta – this is all done in one skillet

1 TBSP vegetable oil
2 chicken breasts
1 C chicken broth or 1 chicken boullion cube and 1 C hot water
1/2 C water
1/2 C orzo pasta (looks like like pieces of rice)
~8 oz bag frozen mixed spring vegetables (carrots, green beans)
1 1/2 TBSP Caesar dressing

Heat oil in skillet over medium-high heat and cook chicken for about 10 minutes, turning once, until brown. Remove chicken from skillet and keep warm. Add broth and water to skillet and bring to a boil. Stir in orzo and bring to a boil again. Cook uncovered for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occassionally. Stir in frozen vegetables and dressing. Add chicken and sprinkle with pepper. Heat to boiling once more, then reduce heat to a simmer and cook uncovered for about 5 minutes or until the chicken is done.


Fish en Papillote – fancy talk for fish in parchment (or tinfoil!)

1 frozen lean fish fillets (perch, sole, just about any white fish)
1 C frozen mixed vegetables (broccoli, carrots & cauliflower)
1/4 tsp dill
salt & pepper
1 TBSP white wine (leftovers are good, or get a bottle of kitchen wine)

(Do this on a cookie sheet lined with foil. Little clean up that way!) Heat oven to 450. Place the
fish on a 12 inch square of foil and top with the vegetables, dill, salt, pepper and wine. Fold up foil and seal edges to hold in the steam. Bake about 35 minutes on a cookie sheet or until vegetables are done and fish flakes with a fork. (You can do this in parchment paper too, but rather than a square, you’ll need to cut the parchment in a heart shape. Put everything on one side of the heart, fold over the other half and roll the edge to seal.)


Maple Apples and Carrots – great with a nice pork chop or chicken

1 medium carrot, sliced
1 medium apple, sliced thinly (hint…slice like you would a potato, and then cut out the centers)
1 TBSP butter
2 TBSP maple syrup
1/4 tsp cardamom (use nutmeg if you don’t have cardamom)

Heat about an inch of water to a saucepan and bring to a boil. Add carrots and cover and heat to boiling then reduce heat. Simmer 12 to 15 minutes or until tender. Drain. While carrots cook, heat butter in a skillet over medium heat. Cook apple wedges in butter for 2 minutes, stirring occassionally. Stir in syrup and spice and cook for an additional 3-5 minutes sitrring frequently until apples are evenly coated. Stir in carrots.

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January 8th, 2009 by Karen

I’ve been rather introspective lately…thinking about life and the dynamics that cast eddys and waves across my existance and I’ve started to notice I have cycles of creativity. I’m sure everyone goes through patches of writers block and such, but right now, I simply long for more. To do more, to be more.

I want to wander into the woods for an hour simply to listen to my heartbeat and hear my breath mix with that of the trees.

I want to dance free and vibrant like I was 5 and didn’t care what anyone thought.

I want to break out my acrylics and delightedly fingerpaint.

I want to spin florid words across crisp linen with purple ink and a fountain pen.

I want to listen to jazz all day long and sing and weep.

I want to sit in a meadow and eat fresh picked blackberries that stain my fingers.

I want to wander through antique stores and smile at the trinkets and forgotten memories of souls long since past.

I want to sit in silence and weave stories from the depths of my being.

I want to cast hugs and kisses upon old friends.

I want to cry out the joy in my heart from the highest mountain and whisper it to the lowliest pebble.

I want to ground myself to the earth and strain to kiss the sky.

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2009 Goals

January 2nd, 2009 by Karen

Alright…I’ve never been one for “resolutions”. I’ve always thought they were stupid and lasted no more than a week at best, so I’ve never really participated in the hype.

This year, I really do have some things I’d like to get done and some things I’d like to change to be a better person, better mom and better mate. I figured I better get them written somewhere or I’d never do them.

Weight – this has plagued me since my first pregnancy. Just never quite got it off. Now I’m nearly 32 and I hate the way I look. And yes, that’s the right verb. Self loathing is no way to spend my life, so it’s time to stop dinking around and suck it up.
Goal: 15 lbs by my birthday, 45 lbs by June, 75 lbs by Christmas.

Finances – these are significantly improved over 2007, but still need a lot of work. I’ve been doing well with light budgeting and paring down what we don’t need, but I could do better with more significant meal planning, which would also help with my weight goals. I also want to pay off some of our credit cards and my final student loan this year.
Goal: pay off 2 cards by March, 6 by December, clear student loans

Clutter – Good lord is this place a mess. We’ve just been so focused on keeping our heads above water that the accumulation of crap is phenomenal. Amazing how little things seem to pile up…in my desk pen cup alone I must have 20 pens from various tradeshows and I know I have a bunch more in the office closet. Why? I certainly don’t need them! This house has ten rooms (if you include the bathrooms), six closets and the garage. It’s time to purge.
Goal: 30 min of cleaning each day (inc laundry and dishes), one major room and closet purge each month, garage sale and donation of first pile of stuff by March 31.

Kids – No, not a another one (sigh…still a no). My kids are amazing…incredibly smart and talented. There’s so much I want them to be able to do in life. I want to give them the same gift my mom gave me…faith in themselves to do nearly anything they want and the ability to work with their hands. I want them to be able to cook and bake, sew and garden, make music and give them license to be completely free and creative and not put into a little box that a school bubble test wants them to be in.
Goal: have them help with plan and prep of at least one meal each week, even if it’s just mac and cheese, teach Miss M beginning embroidery and some simple stitching, plan and plant our garden earlier this year, spend more time with Miss M and her guitar, get Master A into piano lessons, and Miss S into ballet.

Marriage – In the handmade box from my grandfather beside my bed is a stack of old love letters from 1995 with a list of things we always wanted to do…things we’ve always planned…little things like watching the sunset on the beach, ice skating, taking dance lessons. Things we’ve never done. Listening to my grandma’s regrets this Christmas now that my grandpa is gone was heartbreaking. I don’t want to look back at all the things we missed out on because we were too busy working and worrying.
Goal: find a way to get out more often by ourselves, go to a couple of concerts if it’s in the budget

Creativity – For several years, I have ignored the tiny scritching at the door in the back of my mind and the longer I have ignored it, the angrier I have become. I used to do so many things that made me happy, fulfilled me. For a long time now, I have not done many of the things that made my heart sing with gladness. I don’t paint, write poetry, play my flute, sew, hand embroider, or dance hardly at all anymore. I don’t play field hockey or lacrosse or ice skate. I bake occassionally, but not like I used to. I read, but in scattered bursts. I recently began writing again, mostly fiction, and a few poems I’ve scribed on my heart, but not on paper. I’ve found my smile. I want to keep it.
Goal: take at least an hour each week to simply be Karen. Not Mom, wife, daughter, sister, friend. Just Karen.

I think this is an acceptable goal list for the year…time to kick it into gear!

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