Low Carbin’

I wish I could tell you that reducing carbs and Splenda from my diet has resulted in a monumental weight loss. I can’t! In all fairness, I have not followed the prescriptive plan, and when I did that before, years ago, I lost weight substantially. I also wish I didn’t enjoy cooking and eating quite so much. I can’t! I wish I enjoyed exercise more at all. I don’t!

What I can say is that I have noticed fewer headaches and a lot less aches and pains in general as I have reduced the carb laden foods and Aspertame sweeteners.

One of the reasons I find the restrictions difficult is the lack of snacks and treats available. I mean, sometimes a girl just needs to grab a bag of crunchy chips or a bag of chocolate ones. (chips)

Last week I pinned a recipe for a sweet treat I thought I would try. I found it here:

http://simplecountryhome.com/2013/07/22/peanut-butter-cups/

I made them using these few ingredients plus a combination of sweeteners that I didn’t picture.

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I softened 1/2 cup of Coconut Oil in the microwave. I didn’t want it totally liquid, just stirable.

Then I added 1/2 cup of Cocoa

1/4 cup of Coconut Sweetener plus a packet of hardwood Xylatol. I liked this combo for sweetening.

1/4 t. vanilla

A scant pinch of kosher salt.

I found it easy to mix all this if I rested the bowl in a pan of warm water.

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You can taste and adjust the sweetness/saltiness at this point.

Next, I spooned a bit into these heart shaped molds I got to make fudge for our grand daughter, Carley, at Valentine’s day because she specifically requested fudge at Christmas and didn’t get it. She also hasn’t gotten it for Valentine’s Day…yet.

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I just covered the bottom, and then I added a dab of peanut butter.

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And finally, I spooned more chocolate over the top. And I sprinkled a few bits of sea salt on top.

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These went into the frige for solidifying. And they popped right out of the mold into cute, little heart-shaped candies. This recipe made 12 good sized candies with a little leftover chocolate mix, to which I added a bit of peanut butter and swirled. And ate. As soon as it hardened immediately. From my lack of patience I learned an important lesson. This stuff is delicious! And you don’t have to waste spend time making pretty little cups. You could just mix up the chocolate, add some peanut butter, mix, and pour into a buttered bowl to harden. Yay!!

I have enjoyed one or two a day. They really help the deprivation. 🙂 And they have about a carb to a carb and a half each, depending upon size and according to my unscientific, mathematically challenged figures. Which may also contribute to my lack of weight loss. 😉

Enjoy!

WIP to Finished…I think

Stick a fork in it. It is done! For now, at least.

This has definitely been a work in progress and a joint effort for Saint and me. And it has been fun. Mostly.

I have rounded up some before and after pictures to share.

BEDROOM BEFORE

BEDROOM BEFORE

 

BEDROOM AFTER

BEDROOM AFTER

 

DINING BOOTH BEFORE

DINING BOOTH BEFORE

 

DINING BOOTH AFTER

DINING BOOTH AFTER

KITCHEN BEFORE

KITCHEN BEFORE

 

KITCHEN AFTER

KITCHEN AFTER

 

 

OLD FLOOR

OLD FLOOR

 

NEW FLOOR

NEW FLOOR

NEW BATHROOM SHELF

NEW BATHROOM SHELF

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UPDATED BUNK AREA

UPDATED BUNK AREA

CHALKBOARD PAINT on FRIGE and SPICE RACK

CHALKBOARD PAINT on FRIGE and SPICE RACK

 

 

OUR SHABBY COASTAL THEME

OUR SHABBY COASTAL THEME

I’ll elaborate more on the campingcapers.wordpress.com blog post. Thanks for stopping by, she’ll be on the road soon!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cauliflower Cheddar Chowder…low carb and delicious!

If you enjoyed the low carb side dish we made over the campfire this summer,  recipe for that here, http://campingcapers.wordpress.com/2013/08/20/camping-side-dish-loaded-cauliflower/

you are going to LOVE this recipe!

I started playing around with the idea that, if cauliflower is a good substitute for potatoes in that recipe, perhaps it would be just as good in the loaded baked potato soup that I love to make in winter. I made a cauliflower soup using a soup starter, earlier, and though it was good, I can’t say that I loved it. Guess what! I loved this one! I only wish I had thought of it last week when the temps were below zero and the ground covered with snow and ice.

Today’s beautiful sunshine did not make this one bit less tasty, and the bacon and garlic made the house smell wonderful.

I started with 8 slices of bacon, which I chopped and put in the bottom of my soup pan to brown. Let me stop here and add that, next time, I will cook the bacon in my skillet and transfer it to the soup pan. It stuck to the bottom of my pan a bit and didn’t brown as thoroughly as I like. It was still fine. I added two cloves of garlic (chopped) and a stalk of diced celery, and about a fourth of a cup of chopped onion after the bacon had browned a bit.

DSC00005I stirred constantly until the garlic and celery were translucent and the bacon was nice and brown. I sat that aside while I steamed a head of cauliflower. I did it stove top, but you can easily use your veggie steamer or microwave. When the cauliflower was tender, I mashed it with a fork. I didn’t want to puree it because I wanted little chunks like potato chowder.

DSC00007Next, I moved the bacon back onto the burner and added the cauliflower. When it was all mixed together and heating, I poured in one and three fourths cups of chicken broth, a cup of milk, and a cup of heavy whipping cream. For potato soup, I use all milk, but replacing one cup of milk with the cream cut the few carbs in half! And it helps with thickening. When that was heated and smelling really good, I added 2 cups of shredded cheddar, salt and freshly ground pepper, stirring until the cheese melted.

I garnished with a  green onions and a few bacon bits I had reserved, and BAM! That’s all, folks. Easy, fast, and really, really good.

DSC00009Here’s the recipe in a nutshell:

Cauliflower Cheddar Chowder

Ingredients:

1 head cauliflower-steamed and mashed

8 slices bacon-cooked and crumbled (reserve a Tbs. grease and a few bacon crumbles)

2 cloves garlic-chopped

1 or 2 stalks celery-diced

1/4 to 1/2 half chopped onion, depending upon taste

2 cups chicken stock

1 cup milk

1 cup heavy cream

2 cups shredded cheddar

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Cook bacon, remove from skillet, drain and crumble. In a large soup pan, saute garlic, celery and onion in a tablespoon of the grease from the bacon. Add the mashed cauliflower and most of the crumbled bacon to the garlic mixture and heat together. Add chicken broth, milk, and heavy cream. Cook until soup is hot but not boiling. Add Cheddar, salt and freshly ground pepper and continue to heat and stir until cheese has melted. Garnish with the reserved bacon bits and sliced green onion on top.

 

Quick and Easy Low Carb Appetizer

It’s not too late! This takes only a few minutes prep time and a bit of “resting” time. Yes, you really could mix this up before your New Year’s Eve celebration TONIGHT!

DSC00002PECAN, OLIVE, BACON CHEESE BITES

Ingredients:

2-8 oz cream cheese (softened)

1/2 cup chopped green olives (pimento stuffed)

1/2 cup Kalamata olives (chopped)

1 or 2 green onions (chopped)

8 slices bacon (fried crisp, drained, chopped)

1 cup chopped pecans

DIRECTIONS:

Mix all ingredients in large mixing bowl. I use a fork and my fingers rather than a mixer. Shape into a large ball and refrigerate. This can be made a day or two in advance. When ready to serve, scoop out a teaspoon sized heap and roll it into a ball. Continue until all mixture has been used. Insert a toothpick into each one for easy handling.

I don’t have an exact carb count on this, but all the ingredients are extremely low in carbohydrates. Sometimes, I toast whole pecans and place one half on each side of a ball…kind of sandwich style. For those not watching carbs, I add a ring of snack crackers around the plate. Your guests have options. 🙂

I have great memories of New Year’s Eve celebrations when our kids were growing up. We would have several families with kids over to eat and play games. Now, we traditionally get together with our best friends for a quiet evening of cards, snacks, and welcoming in a New Year. This year we are going to their house, and the food…well, I can guarantee there will be enough for a crowd. I’m promised there will be several low carb options, so no excuses for me! I hope you and your family have a fun celebration planned, and that you have a very blessed 2014!

Christmas on Redbud Ridge 2013

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The stockings are hung. Decorating is done.

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Gifts are wrapped. Lights are on.

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Tables are set.

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Someday I hope to have a table that will accommodate 12 people so we can all eat and laugh together. Until then, we make the best of it.

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The hot chocolate station is ready for later. The candles are lit.

DSC00222The Christmas Story is ready. We are ready for the two day Christmas celebration to begin. This will be our first Christmas with the new family members Kris added this year, and we are very excited that we can all celebrate together. Schedules are hectic and time together is precious.

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Such beauty at the young adult table. And the wisdom of the other adult table. 🙂

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unwrapping gifts is hard work!

What a fun night. Now we are ready for the Sunday celebration with the Huffman family.

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Our youngest family members…for now. Congratulations to Matt, Terri, and Owen. There will be a new addition next year. Owen and Olivia had fun with the Pinterest inspired photo backdrop, and Jackson loved the props!

DSC00012And one of my favorite red headed beauties…Miss Kylee.

 

 

 

 

 

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Our White Elephant/homemade gift exchange is always fun.

 

And all were good sports as we played Holiday Family Feud.

 

 

 

 

WWe are so blessed to have all our family together over the past two days. No, it is not Christmas Day, but we have learned to celebrate Jesus and family everyday we can. Merry Christmas to all!

 

 

Pinspiration

Winter weather advisory + sleet = a pot of chili simmering. And projects.

My morning jaunt through Pinterest led me to a virtual holiday home tour here:

Jennifer Rizzo’s Holiday Housewalk 2013!

I tried. I really did, but after 30 minutes, I determined it would take me hours to find the exact spot for the inspirations for today’s projects, so just go touring like I did. Each and every house has its own flavor, and if you can’t be inspired…well, Bah Humbug!

The first attempt came from this comfy old sweater.

DSC00171Saint has loved this sweater for years, but the cuffs on the sleeves have frayed. Plus, I cut a big hunk out of it to make the sweater pumpkin last month. 🙂

I cut one of the sleeves off to wrap around this candle holder. I intended to use the frayed cuff at the top, but it wouldn’t fit. The tutorial suggested using the ragged edge, anyway, so this worked.

DSC00173A strip of burlap secured with a piece of jute twine tied in a bow with greenery and berries tucked in complete the coziness.

DSC00178This will feel right at home in a guest bathroom.

At another site on the tour, I saw a cute old toy truck carrying home a bottle brush Christmas tree. I don’t have any bottle brush trees, but I plan on adding some at end of the season sales, this year. In the mean time, I traipsed through the sleet and cold to one of the many little cedar trees we have here on Redbud Ridge and clipped a few sprigs.

DSC00179Finally, while touring, I found just what I had been looking for to complete one of my new family members’ stocking. The hostess referred back to the source of the vintage Paris print, and I found just what I wanted here:

thegraphicsfairy.com

I have used some of The Graphics Fairy’s free printables before. This is a great site for teachers who may be looking for art to enhance a project or center activity. I printed out the Eiffel Tower, mounted it on some brown bag paper, glittered it up a bit, and added some black ribbon so that I can pin the tag to the stocking. I think it gave it just the look I wanted for this lovely lady’s stocking.

DSC00176All that before noon! And I didn’t hit all the houses on the tour, so I may have to re visit this afternoon. The chili was good, the fire even better. What did you do on your wintry day?

Step by Step DIY for your Christmas Mantel

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I love a lush, gaudy full Christmas mantel, but it isn’t always an easy thing to achieve. A few years ago, I came across a tip in a magazine that completely removed all the stress of holiday decorating streamlined the mantel project. It started with a board, measured and cut to fit the mantel.

DSC00139Saint measured and cut out the space for the electrical outlet that allows us to plug in lamps and Christmas lights without a cord hanging down. Then he hammered small tacks in a triangular pattern all across the board. There is no need to measure or fret about where to put these as they are completely covered and only serve to anchor the wire that he threaded around and between tacks.

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Now it is time to add all the greenery. I like to use several small pieces rather than one long one because you can add texture by using different greenery, and you can alter the thickness as needed.

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Sometimes I wire the greenery on; other times I simply wind a strand of the greenery around the wire. This is nice and secure with nothing taped or tacked to the wood on our mantel.

I had not planned to use this antique frame this year, but it just jumped up there and would not let me take it down.

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Next, I add bits and pieces along with lights.

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I could stop here and hang stockings, but this year I have ten stockings to hang, and they will not fit here or on the basement fireplace. We do love stockings in our family! Maybe I’ll show you that update later. I’m still working on it, now. Anyway, I like the rusty jingle bells hanging down, and on the way to the Mizzou game yesterday, I scored these perfect over sized ornaments (at Home Goods) to accompany them.

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These ornaments are rather heavy, but they came with ribbon hangers which loop perfectly over the heads of the tacks in the anchor board and attach with no extra nails, tape, or danger of becoming detached from the greenery.

There you have it. It’s really all about the anchor board that you never ever see on the finished project.

DSC00167Cozy, isn’t it?

Let the Fa La La-ing begin!

I think I may be responsible for the killing of an elf, today. Our son told his wife that Santa has to kill an elf for every day that we start putting up our Christmas decorations before Thanksgiving. Sounds to me like a slacker trying to get out of putting up lights, but I’m not sure.

I usually do wait until after Christmas because I like to give Thanksgiving its due, but I’m not cooking or hosting this year, and Thanksgiving and Christmas are so close together, I decided it was the right thing to do. I’ll stop short of Christmas shopping on Thanksgiving Day, but I saw this cute idea that begged me to try it, and then that led to something else and another something, and, well, you know!

It started with an ordinary strand of twinkle lights. And ended like this:

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There is no way to capture the ambiance this little garland has created. I tried different lightings and flash settings, tried my phone camera, and my BFF even tried with hers. You just have to take my word for it.

It was a very simple, but somewhat time consuming project. It’s one you can start, put down for a bit and come back to…unless you are impatient like I am. Here’s the step-by-step DIY.

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1. Decide the tone or colors you want to use, gather fabric odds and ends and/or ribbon.

2. Cut fabric into strips. Mine were 5 to 6 inches. You do not need to measure, especially if you are going for the shabby look. The number of strips depends upon the length of your light strand and your personal preference about how you want it to look. This fabric is the only thing I purchased. I liked the color combo to go with the green tones in my dining room. To that I added some green ribbon I had already purchased for another project, some white I had cut off an old sheer curtain, some off white rayon scraps, and a few odds and ends.

3. Stretch the string of lights out on the floor and begin tying the strands of fabric between the lights. I tied all the fabric pictured first, spacing out the color

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Next, I added the ribbon ties, and finally, I added the other tones of white and off white in between those.

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4. Drape your garland any way you wish. I tied mine to the curtain rod using some of the fabric strands.

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These shabby lighted garlands would look great on a mantel, over a door, mixed with greenery, or even on your Christmas tree.

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I’m sorry about the elf, but I sure am enjoying these lights. And, no, I did not put up the tree, but I got a good start on the mantel. When I finish, I’ll share a few tricks you may or may not know about putting together your mantel decor…but I’ll wait until AFTER Thanksgiving Day. Be thankful!

 

Upcycled

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I know. You are wondering what this bright yellow-green tennis ball is doing in the middle of all these pumpkins, right? Well, at an antique shop the other day, I saw some pumpkins made from an old chenille bedspread. I thought an old sweater would work just as well, and I was pondering what to use as a form. I walked to the garage, and lo and behold, there was a tennis ball hanging down on a piece of fishing line. Saint put it there so I’d Know when to stop my car…to keep from running into the house, I suppose. No, it lets me know when my car has cleared the electric eye on the garage door, actually. Anyway, I asked if he had any more old tennis balls. I knew they’d be old since we haven’t played in months years a while. He found ONE! I also spotted some quilt batting, or pillow stuffing, depending upon the project. I cut out a circle that would completely encompass the tennis ball. I used both Tacky Glue and hot glue for this project, starting with Tacky, which I squeezed onto the tennis ball, pulling up the batting around it and patting it all down smoothly.

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Next, I cut a slightly larger circle from the sweater and followed the same procedure.

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This time, I pressed all the fabric in at the top, pushing down really hard, and hot glued the top shut. Next, I used jute twine to wrap around the form in places to create the pumpkin “creases” and tied a bow at the top. I added some bittersweet, and, voila! A pumpkin from an old tennis ball.

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On the hardness scale from 1-10, this was definitely an easy 1. This is a fun thing to do with your kids. If it is too late for the Thanksgiving table, you could play around with making them into Christmas ornaments. They would add warmth and texture to your tree decor.

Holidays Stressing You Out? Get Plastered!

Wait, my friends who know that, aside from the celebratory glass of wine, I’m pretty much a teetotaler; before you judge me, this post has nothing to do with forbidden fruit. Or beverage, although fruit would probably work well in this project. In fact, the only similarity to that getting plastered and this getting plastered is that it gets messy.

I came across this technique blog hopping at http://www.songbirdblog.com  and thought…hmmm. This should work on all sorts of fake stuff. I meant to get Dollar Tree plastic pumpkins, but they sold out at Halloween. I already had lots of fake leaves, but I finally found the pumpkins at an antique shop on clearance for cheap. Here’s what I started with:

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And this is how it ended:

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I do love orange, but it doesn’t go with much my decor, and whites are trending right now, so…not bad for pennies, huh?

Here is the tutorial for the technique:

Mix Plaster of Paris with water until you have a mixture similar to ranch dressing. If you get gravy, throw it out and start over.

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I moved outside to do this because I thought I needed my clothesline to hang the leaves. I spread a plastic sheet under the clothesline and started dipping.

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I dipped once and hung them on the line. MAJOR MISTAKE!

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What a mess! See how one hangs down like it is supposed to and the other one does not? The process of it going from hanging down to sticking up showered me with wet plaster and just made a mess of my clothes pins and clothes line. No problem, because, you know, clothes lines and clothes pins need to be cleaned often occasionally at least once in their lives, right? But I found that laying the items down on the plastic to dry worked fine.

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I gave the pumpkins (and the hanging leaves) two coats. How easy is that?!

In fact, I tried some old cheap roses and other small silk flowers and greenery. I found that the small ones turn out great…the larger ones droop!

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These will be pretty for Christmas!

 

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There you have it! Quite a transformation, I think. An easy holiday centerpiece or added decor for your Thanksgiving celebration. I think these plastered items would look elegant on a white ironstone platter, or in a ceramic turkey. Best of all…no hangover.   :))