Monday, October 26, 2009

I Should Have Listened to Cookie Monster

I love cookies. I love cookies the way this guy does--shoveling them in as fast as I can crunch 'em up with crumbs flying everywhere. Somewhere along the way, though, I lost that inborn knowledge that every kid has: there is no such thing as a bad cookie.
As an adult with more sophisticated tastes and cook with stronger skills, I became a cookie snob. The only really "good" cookies were homemade from scratch. Sure, we indulge in the efforts of those famous elves and can lick 'n dump with the Trump like everyone else. But those don't count. It's like eating burgers for supper on the fly--it's food, technically but who views it as "good food".
Reform came to my house in the guise of a fundraiser. As a teacher, Mr. Bittersweet is often persuaded by students to help their cause. Mr B is the biggest cookie hound I know and I strongly suspect that fundraiser had his name as chief target on it. After spending that much on cookie dough, I wasn't about to let it rot in the fridge. I made some up for the grands. They loved them. (So did the quality control inspector who visited the kitchen.) I made up some more tonight while dinner cooked as a treat for a job well-done in the garden. So fast. So easy. Only what we needed for a small treat without all those others calling out to be eaten, too, so no guilt. I'm sold! I'm reformed! Those coupons for cookie mixes and dough will no longer be relegated to trade. Cookie Monster has the right idea--just enjoy!!!!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Secret Pleasure

Like so many others, I have a wayward attention span. I can rarely sit still for long, let alone sit still and do one tedious thing. Watching TV is usually accompanied by handsewing or copying recipes from magazines into my recipe book. Big sewing projects require a novel on CD.

My favorite is Lauren Wellig's Pink Carnation series. I love them! The current indulgence is "The Seduction of the Crimson Rose".

These books are a combination of Georgette Heyer's Regency romances (from Jr High) with spies, more substance, and a parallel life in the present. It may sound goofy, but I just love to sew to them--I can't "read" one, but I can listen all day to the audio version. Then wait impatiently for the library to obtain the next one.....

And yes, sewing is happening again.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Baked Fish with Pasta-Veggie Salad

The heat and odd family schedules have put a damper on my cooking lately. Today was my day off, so naturally I worked like crazy to clean the house and catch up on laundry. Oddly enough, this kind of cleaning/nesting puts me in the mood to cook new things.

We've not had fish in a while and the tilapia was calling me from the freezer. It's a family favorite to bake it in a parmesan cheese-herb-bread crumb crust. The pasta salad was the new dish from one of Betty Crocker's cookbooklets "Great Pasta" . It was so yummy. I omitted the chicken as we already had fish on the menu and used more veggies from the garden instead. Shell pasta, about 2 cups of quartered cherry tomatoes, a whole bell pepper diced, and about 3 tbsp of olives. These are then tossed with 1/2 cup Miracle Whip (light) and 1/3 French Dressing (also light) then chilled. It was so creamy and tasty. Dessert was a blueberry cream cheese tart using fat-free cream cheese to keep the naughty factor down a little. Mr. B says he's saving the rest for breakfast tomorrow--as if it's all his! Looks like I need to change to date stamp on the camera. Poor thing keeps trying but hasn't been quite right since I dropped it in the lake on vacay. Oops.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Singin' the Blues

Down on Bittersweet Lane we're singin' the blues--the college registration blues. Although this is not my daughter, the photo captures her spirit completely. She is so lost and confused. Child #3 forgot to pre-register last term and now must join the melee that is mass-registration tomorrow. It's her last semester at the local community college before transferring to the bigger, more expensive University. She knows what she wants to be--social worker/counselor--but is hating the process needed to get there. Enter the procrastination. Mr B and I encourage her to make her own decisions but this is our "independent clinging vine". Like a wisteria, she's strong, lovely, and blooms profusely--as long as she has a strong support. She knows the answers, she can do this process and has several times now. She just has to map those last few classes that she needs against what she's already completed. Yet last night were wails of help, despair and doubt escalating into frustration and snappish remarks. Growing up, taking responsibility, making decisions--it's a scary process but one we all face eventually. I think the blues will be playing softly here for a few more days.....

Monday, August 10, 2009

Monday. Again.

photo: TNT
The best thing about Mondays---The Closer! I'll be making some whole wheat oatmeal raisin coookies as soon as I get off work to nibble on as I watch the show.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Take My Breath Away

I was just aimlessly surfing this morning while I try to caffinate a headache away and this beauty popped up. I actually gasped when I saw it. The neckline is to die for! Even though the gal in red looks rather evil--like some business exec. up to vieious, ambitious plotting--that's the one I'd wear in a heartbeat. Unfortunately, this pattern is already headed to a new home but there are lots of other beauties available at Lanetz Living. She has an amazing stock at great prices.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Reading and Sewing

Now who couldn't get her sewing mojo on when reading such a great book! The title alone makes you want to rev up your sewing machine. Erin McGraw's book, The Seamstress of Hollywood starts weaving its spell right off the bat. I'm half-way thru and can barely put it down. The main character Nell is so driven and possessed by very need to sew beautiful clothes; to make the most of each person that she possibly can. Reading it, a sewer can't help but be inspired to get sewing, too.....

Granted, its no glamous Jean Harlow satin gown cut on the very clingy bias, but it is sewing. It is needle and fabric and constructive process. Good, good and good. What I am sewing is: Butterick 4549,
view A, the pink one in the picture
A simple summer top, using simple, cool breathable cotton: a cute little lavender/white stripe with little bitty flowers I've had for a while. This is The South, so even though the pattern companies & designers are "doing Fall" now, it will still be hot, hot summer here until sometime in October. Lots of hot days for a cool top.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Quick Thoughts

Today I'll be shopping at Walgreens-- after work :( --using my lovely coupon:

They're having some great sales to go with lots of great coupons from and last weekends papers. This one's only good today so don't forget to use it!

Checking my e-mails this morning resulted in a lust-fest. I fell in love with this Jessica Howard dress. I love the beading on the waistband!It should be a cute dress, but all I see is a Bullseye. At hip level, no less!
But this is the one I most want, click on the dress: From ebay seller Oncillikat

It's a vintage Marion Martin pattern. I love the big faux-belt waist and the angled front button closure. I hesitate because I'm "trying" not to buy any patterns or fabric for a while. I'm also unsure of my skills in altering the dress for my larger measurements. Somebody please buy this dress first and put me out of my misery!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

A special thank you for all the moms out there for all you do. Whether you're a born to the job mom, a foster mom, a mentor/mom, or just a general molley-coddler to all, you are so appreciated for your love, encouragement and support all year through

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Wigelia Joy

I love wigelia bushes! They're so happy with their dancing little trumpets. We have several and they've begun to bloom in earnest. I just had to share.

This one is a purple wigelia: the foliage is a deep burgundy purple fading to green in the center as you can see below. The blooms are a dark pink. This bush grows under window of the home office; from the inside, those blooms are dancing on the window ledge.

This is a row of a different variety of wigelia. Their foliage is a brighter green and the blooms are a paler pink.

The fencing is a salvage propped against the side of the house behind the bushes. They look so cottagey cute and the wall is so suburban blank without them. It's not visible in today's pictures but we've hung a copper sun on the wall above the fencing. The scene makes me so happy when I pull into the driveway.

Hope your spring is lovely, too.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Feed My Soul

It seems like I've had this pair of pants on my sewing table for months. They're finally finished and I got to wear them to work yesterday! They're the Simplicity 4366 that I wrote of earlier. They're made from a navy blue microfiber I purchased on a mini-vacay to Land Between The Lakes. I've tried to photo them on, but I'm a poor self-photographer and my schedule is so wonky this week what little time I have with family is better spent without a camera. The fly treatment was new for me and I'm still undecided whether I like it or not. I had one of those lightbulb moments, and suddenly the hemming foot made sense to me and worked beautifully. I have a lovely blind hem for for the first time!

Sewing seems to have fallen very low on the priority list since October. I'm not sure how that happened but I sure need to change it--it gives me so much that "feeds" my spirit. I dearly love fabric & colors and sewing allows me to saturate myself in them. It's also a creative process matching the color scheme to fabric and pattern and determining the processes to be used in construction and whether or not add embelishment to the project. There's also the visible gratification when a problem, and there's always a problem, is successfully resolved. (I also have a "That was easy" button I can hit for a little verbal praise, too.) I enjoy learning and sewing involves so many skills there'll never be nothing left to learn. Best of all, I love that wonderful sense of accomplishment and pride when that project is finished. For there's always a 3 year child lurking in all of us that says "I made that!"

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

What's For Dinner?

I'm really enjoying the quiet this morning. We're having one of those soft, soaking, spring rains that even the birds play in. Mr B's little herb garden is visibly growing it seems. Especially since he put up the little chicken wire fence to keep out the bunnies. Bad bunnies, nibbling on those baby herbs before we get to!

Last night was one of those quickie dinners that looks like Rachel Ray or Martha made. (I was so proud of it and basking in the compliments, I'll admit.) We had Pepperoni Grill Cheese sandwiches with Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms for Mr B and I and kids had Cucumbers in Sour Cream-Dill Dressing (they hate mushrooms).

Pepperoni Grill Cheese Sandwich
1 foccaccia bread (I use one from Walmart that comes with a pepperoni & cheddar topping, you could easily add that yourself)
Cheddar Cheese slices or Spread. (I found a super-yummy spread at Sam's Club 24oz for around $10 that family loves and actually goes pretty far.)
I simply slice the bread horizontally, spread on the cheese, re-top it, then slice it in half to fit on my Foreman grill. Grill it for about 5 minutes with a heavy object (canned good, flour bag) on top for the panini effect. Repeat for the other half. Feeds 4-5.

Mushrooms Stuffed with Tomatoes and Spinach
2 Portobello Mushrooms
1 large tomato, diced
1 cup free spinach, chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
1-2 cloves garlic, according to personal taste, minced
2 tsp dried basil (until our basil grows large enough to use)
3 tbsp parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste
Rinse and pat mushrooms dry. Coat caps with olive oil using pastry brush. Place on baking sheet with caps down. Mix remaining ingredients in medium mixing bowl then fill the mushrooms with this "pesto". Bake at 350 for about 15 minutes. You can also grill this outdoors and is wonderful.

As a side note for the thrifty cooks out there: This meal came in at around $7 total including kid's cucumber salad; feeding 4 of us and took about 20 minutes from start to finish.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Martha Moment: Maple-Roasted Chicken with Sweet Potatoes

Ever have one of those moments in time where your domestic effort comes together so beautifully and perfectly you feel like Martha Stewart? Last night's dinner made me feel like Martha. I present to you:
Maple Roasted Sweet Potatoes over Brown Rice with Green Beans with Almonds
I've been yearning for this chicken dish since I saw in in the Feb '09 issue of Real Simple. I made it in the crock pot, however, instead of roasted it in the oven for 1 hour and 40 minutes.
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
1 onion cut into 1-inch wedges
6 sprigs fresh thyme (I used dried)
2 tablespoons of olive oil
salt & pepper
1 3½-4 lb chicken cut into 8 pieces (I used only 3 large breasts)
3 tablespoons maple syrup
After browning the chicken briefly, I placed it in the crockpot. In a medium bowl, I tossed the sweet potatoes and onions with the salt, pepper, thyme and olive oil then dumped them on top. Drizzle the maple syrup over all, cover and cook til done.
About 25 minutes before serving, I made the brown rice and served the chicken and potatoes on top of it. The green beans were frozen, sauteed with olive oil til crisp tender with a little basil and a bag of sliced almonds left over from a Wendy's salad--fake green bean almondine on the quick. Delicious, filling, and leftover lunches for three and cost approx. $7.50 for everything.
I still feel so very Martha ......

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Real Thai

Bad Thai ------- Good Thai

Oh what a world of difference! Until last night, the "Bad Thai" was the only Thai I had ever eaten before. And that was only purchased to add interest to the camping menu!

Mr B. and I went to the new Thai restaurant , the only one in our rural part of the world. What a wonderous treat!

Mr B. had the Pad Thai noodles:
I had the Red Curry and Rice

I am madly in love with the subtle complexeties of flavoring. Each bite showers the palate with taste sensations: citrus, coconut, curry, chili, ginger, garlic, basils, sweet, spicy. The appetizers were delicate spring rolls and a lovely cucumber sauce that was Mama the Cook's own recipe. I could make a meal off that alone but then would deprive myself of the treat of gorging on all the other great stuff!
A return visit is a must. Granted, the budget won't allow for that kind of eating out often, so I may have to look for some coconut milk and recipes and start learning. Mmmmm practice is half the fun.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

It's been kind of a funky last two weeks here on Bittersweet Lane. Both Mr. B and I have had emotionally draining turmoil in our workplaces but both places seem to be settling down (or we're aclimating to it). Kiddo 3 has been stressing over several papers for her college classes especially the one where she has to interview the owner of a hotel/motel that houses sex offenders (in a seedy part of town, of course). She was accompanied by a classmate. Kiddo 4 is struggling to write papers for his Senior Portfolio, necessary for graduation. He has a very dry, sardonic sense of humor (can't imagine where he gets it from) and is guarded about his emotions. Unfortunately, the teacher doesn't get the humor and has some kind of Lifetime-movie notion of reaching each child's emotional core, exposing it and saving/reforming/tranforming them. That is so not going to happen with this Aspy.

I was checking out favorite blogs this morning, and was amazed at Hip to Save's shopping trip to Walgreen's this week here. Isn;t she amazing!!

On the happy things front, my sewing machine is is happily purring away. After a monthlong hiatus, I finally got the sewing mojo back.

I'm working on Simplicity 4366, view B, the lower righthand photo, in a dark navy blue microfiber. It feels so good to sew again. That creative process is so restorative to my emotional well-being and keeps the closet stocked, too.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Music to My Ears

Wohoo!! I've been watching for this one to come up. Hoping. Hoping. Sound and Vision just came up on Thank you, Hip to Save. This is one of my husband's favorites but he only indulges in it at the Library. He'll be so happy when this one arrives.

Mail Call

The mail is so much fun since I've discovered the world of couponers & frugal living gurus. Before it was a disheartening deposit of bills--especially medical. Sigh. But thanks to all these amazing deal-finders out in the cyber world, my mailbox is happily transformed!

This week has seen the arrival of:

Dove Shampoo & Conditioner My daughter loves their products and these samples are so much easier/safer to deal with when traveling than bottles.

Today's Diet and Nutrition
I wasn't sure what to expect with this one when I signed up for the free subscription, but after thumbing through it yesterday I can't wait to try several recipes in there! Lot's of neat info about food and products, too.

The Light & Easy recipe book that was free from the Amereican Heart Association and Merck as part of their Go Red for Women campaign. The cook book doesn't appear to be available any longer, but the site is full of great info and even a fun little game. Check it out here.

And Martha:

Her covers are always so inviting. This was a freebie thru Rewards Gold. (I'll make more effort in the future to link to responsible deal hunters for their due praise and thanks in the future. Very remiss of me not to keep up with that.) She's got an article on artful doodles and lithographs that should convert well to embroidery designs and of course, some good looking food to try.
Looks like lots of new recipes are coming up on my table soon. The goodness just keeps flowing....from web, to mail, to table, to body, to spirit. He does provide for us.

Thursday, January 8, 2009


I've discovered coupon blogs. I've been heavily addicted to sewing blogs for about 2 years now and have added home dec blogs to those I follow. In my recent couponing efforts, I've stumbled onto these great frugal living blogs. These folks are fabulous! They are not only fun, savvy, and bright but so generous in their knowledge and joy in sharing their great deal/buy/find. In the coming weeks, I have several samples coming in the mail that I have registered for via manufacturer links or blog links. I confess, they are so many I've forgotten half what I've entered and unfortunately, who guided me there.

Being a word nerd, I'm looking forward to the two magazines most. The first, a year of Family Circle for---only $3.oo!! WOW! These things seem to go pretty fast! I registered on 1/4/09 and it's no longer there. Thank you It's Hip to Save! This magazine while not a favorite does have lots of coupons, food ideas, and organizational helps which will be well worth the small cost.

The second magazine I'm receiving soon is a fave. While visiting Chief Family Officer and her Little Debbies giveaway, I found this great magazine offer on the website: 12 issues for only $5.00. (They're offering other titles at this price, too.)

These are going to be a wonderful treat indeed over the next several months. In order to save money, we've let all our magazine subscriptions lapse and check them out at the library instead. We do receive three that are gift subscriptions from Mr. B's mom--thanks, Mom. By all means, check these websites/blogs out for more treats and great info.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

New Year--New Resolves

I'm not really much for New Year's Resolutions. I've found people, especially myself, rarely follow thru on them. I try to do things better each year that way I don't feel I've failed if I don't meet that complete and often time vague resolution. This year, however, I have several things I simply must do. Either because an outside force is dictating it, or due to an irresistable inner compunction.

1. I have to a) get in some form of improved physical condition and b) lose some weight. This is not the average resolution. Granted, part of it is the "popular" thing to do as evidenced by all the ads & tradition. This is a double-edged sword aimed straight at me. I'm not getting any younger, I've been gaining like a crazy lady the last 3 months and Mr. B's big health scare this fall scared both of us really good. The other side of the sword is that we are planning a trip to the Boundry Canoe area on the Canadian border in mid-June. Yes, just he, me, and endless "sea" for 2 weeks. This is usually the "man trip" for all the B-family men involving much canoeing, hiking with heavy packs and little bathing. I got talked into a modified version for two. In order to pull my weight, literally, this girl's got to lose minimum 15 pounds by then.

2. Be thriftier. I had this down to a mad science when the kids were little, money was nearly none-existant and Mr. B was in college. Life got easier and I got softer-fiscally and physically. LOL. I just feel like we need and should do better. Toward that end, I've been brushing off my old shopping skills and got out the coupon scissors. I'm also learning all kinds of new tricks on blogs. (Aren't they great?!) Our church offers scrip--gift cards essentially, that we purchase from church but the retailer then gives back a percentage to the church. The percentage varies with the retailer. We buy from certain retailers anyway and wanted to help the church income. We found coincidently that it is making us much more conscious of working within our budget. Plus for church and plus for us.

3. Start a garden this spring. This will relate to 1 and 2. We used to have a veggie garden and loved the peace and feeling of accomplishment that digging in the dirt gives. We both have more time for this once again and have set out sights at getting our hands dirty again.

4. Sew from stash!! I have lots of wonderful fabric and patterns and got very little sewing done in December at all. Now I need to use that stash as much as possible. No new purchases except notions or linings needed for specific project until March.

All these are very do-able. I have the tools and momentum to do them. March will be a good check-in date as it's halfway to vacay in June. June then will be a good check-in date for halfway thru the year. So--mark, set, go!!!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Birthday Cheers!!

My initial post is the birth of this blog and a celebration of someone else's birthday. Happy Birthday to the most wonderful man in my world--my husband, hereafter affectionately referred to as Mr. B (as in Bittersweet). Cheers and Salutions, Darling. Birthday spankings may insue in a more opportune place.