January 31, 2021

HERITAGE RECIPE: Onion Shortcake


Wait!! Before the words "onion shortcake" turn you off, open your mind just a little--because this recipe is delicious! It's the perfect side dish for just about anything. I could eat this as a meal all by itself, actually. It tastes like cornbread with a creamy onion topping.

I'm writing out the recipe exactly as it is written (submitted by Alverta Robillard) in my heritage cookbook. I cannot fathom using margarine in anything I cook--I use butter--but "butter or margarine" was written in the original, so I am including it here. I also cooked it exactly as written, with one exception that happened by mistake. See notes/photos below the recipe.

Here is a printer-friendly version!

Ingredients:

1 sweet Spanish onion
1/4 c. butter or margarine
1-1/2 c. corn muffin mix*
1 egg, beaten
1/3 c. milk
1 c. grated sharp cheese, divided
1 c. cream-style corn
2 drops of Tabasco sauce
1 c. sour cream
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. dill weed

Directions:

Peel onion; slice and sauté slowly in butter. Combine muffin mix, egg, milk, corn and Tabasco sauce. Turn into buttered 8-inch square pan. Add sour cream, salt, dill weed and 1/2 cup of the cheese to sautéed onions. Spread over batter. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake in preheated 425 F oven for 30-35 minutes or until set. Cut in squares and serve warm.

My own notes:

I didn't know what a Spanish onion was (I was picturing the red onions for some reason!) but it's basically just a sweet onion. 

I used butter. Margarine reminds me so much of the 80's! Haha.

For the corn muffin mix, I used one box of Jiffy's.

I used cheddar cheese, although it doesn't specify which type of cheese to use.

I accidentally used a full can of cream-style corn, even though the recipe called for one cup. I had no issue with it at all, so if you don't want to measure out the corn, go ahead and add the full can.

I used dried dill weed. I made the assumption that it wasn't referring to fresh dill.

I was tempted to use an extra onion, because I REALLY like onions and I wanted to make sure it was very, well, oniony. But the one onion was perfect. I cut it in half before slicing so that the slices were shaped like C's instead of O's.

I baked it for 33 minutes, but would probably stick with 30 if I did it again. I was afraid I burned it when I saw the cheese, but it still tasted delicious--not burnt at all!



January 30, 2021

Words of Wisdom

I am going to take a much-needed mental health day from blogging, so I'm just going to share these words of wisdom from a chalkboard on the side of a road. Love it!  I hope everyone is having a great weekend. xo 

January 29, 2021

Friday Night Photos

Yay, it's Friday! That doesn't mean a whole lot, other than the fact that the kids don't have to go to school tomorrow. However, I get to post my Friday Night Photos--random pictures that I took throughout the week that I never fit into my blog for whatever reason.

My birthday was on Monday and Jerry gifted me this shirt. I love it!! It's super comfy, too.



I've been doing really well this week getting back into intermittent fasting, and I like to have one good-sized meal followed by a dessert or something that I really look forward to. Banana bread or zucchini bread are favorites. I baked some banana bread and I usually eat it plain, but sometimes I spread some Peanut Butter & Co. Cinnamon Raisin Swirl peanut butter on it. It's delicious!



Eli walked Joey over to my parents' house today, so I took the opportunity to go for a walk by myself. Sometimes it's nice to walk without the dog! I took a different route, one that goes along a busy road (not the one below) and I really don't want to walk Joey on that road. It was peaceful on this road (shown below). I used to run this route often and I miss it.


While I was walking, I saw this package on the ground--dried slices of watermelon! I LOVE watermelon and I have never seen these before. I want to find them--they sound delicious. 


The ones in that package are chewy (according to the package--I didn't look to see if there were any in there, of course!), but my brother has a freeze dryer and I asked him if he could freeze dry watermelon in it. He said he'll pick one up next time he's at the store--I'm excited to see how it turns out! (He made freeze dried ice cream (aka "astronaut ice cream") for me one time--out of Ben & Jerry's Cherry Garcia!--and it was SO heavenly.)


Speaking of ice cream, I had "just one of those days" earlier this week and I let my cravings get the better of me. S'mores ice cream for the win! Although, if you read yesterday's post, you'll see that it wasn't a great idea.


I'm making some progress on my Snow White costume. I finished the dress part (this is a horrible photo taken in my garage). I obviously need to iron it, but I'm still working on the rest. I finished the white collar today and I have to attach the snaps (both to the collar and to the bodice of the dress). After that, I just have to make the cape! (Here is the story of why I'm making this)



Luke stayed the night at my parents' house, and my mom discovered that he locked her out of all the cupboards with rubber bands! Hahaha


I crocheted some more dish scrubbers. The ones that I made a while ago should probably be replaced soon. I LOVE these things! They are the best for washing dishes. I hold a strand of tulle with cotton yarn to crochet them--the tulle is a gentle abrasive and the cotton holds dish soap well. They only take about 30 minutes to make (double layered), and they're pretty mindless.


Ever since I started doing better with my eating (intermittent fasting) I've been feeling good. I have been going to bed at 10:00 the last few nights and waking up naturally at 5:00. I think my body finds seven hours of sleep to be ideal. Hoping for a great weekend. And maybe I'll get the dress totally finished!

January 28, 2021

Why I've Been Overeating (and the Subsequent Weight Gain)


I'm feeling brave today, so I'm going to get vulnerable. Eek! I always get nervous to write vulnerable things. But this topic has really come to light and hit me kind of hard only recently. (Also, there is power in vulnerability! Thank you, Brené Brown.)

I think I've finally figured out why I overeat and/or give up completely even trying to stay on track with my diet and exercise sometimes. Over the years, my weight has definitely gone up and down with my moods--that's nothing new--and in retrospect, I can see that most of my gains and losses were based on whether I was hypomanic or depressed. (Here is a post with the specifics and even nerdy weight graphs!)

Now that my bipolar disorder has been diagnosed and I've been on the correct medication for almost four years (can you believe it was almost four years ago that I was diagnosed with bipolar?!) I am seeing a different pattern.

I think my reasons for overeating have changed a bit over the years--when I was a kid, I didn't feel like I fit in with anyone and I found my own ways to deal with my emotions. Sneaking several Kudos bars from my Grandma's cupboard was a regular thing (I believe that was my first binge); coming home from school to an empty house in middle school and making a huge bowl of popcorn loaded with butter and watching TV (both were a distraction from everything); feeling stressed when the kids were little and ordering pizza way too often; periods of severe depression in my 20's and 30's where eating felt like the only thing that I looked forward to.

Lately, I've realized that the main cause of my overeating (and/or not being able to stick with my plans) is due to feeling extremely overwhelmed. And when I get overwhelmed or stressed, I procrastinate. ALl the things that need to be done? I find a distraction and pretend they don't exist. I say I'll worry about them tomorrow. My favorite distraction is eating or drinking or doing some other mind-numbing activity like playing Best Fiends on my phone.

There is nothing wrong with those things in moderation and at the right times, but when I feel overwhelmed, I use what I can to put things off until later. "I'll just do it tomorrow" and then I find a distraction (namely, food) so I don't feel guilty about what it is I'm procrastinating.

When I gave up drinking for all of 2019, I didn't have a glass of wine (or three) to look forward to in order to relax. And I started eating more, looking for something to distract me from all of the things on my "To Do" list. 

It never fails that I get comments from people on these types of vulnerable posts telling me to "get a job". That I need to "fill my boredom" with a job. I roll my eyes at these, because it's very rare that I am bored! Quite the opposite, actually. My "To Do" list is a mile long and it makes me feel so overwhelmed that I choose to procrastinate. (I did write a post about my choice to be a stay/work-at home mom, which you can read here. The comments are very interesting from different perspectives!)

Of course that is not ideal! I should just start doing the things that need to be done and as the list gets smaller, I'll feel less overwhelmed and have more time to relax. And also, I won't feel the need to use food to as a distraction. 

This is part of the reason that developing a routine is so important for my mental (and physical) health. The downside is that I get thrown for a loop when my routine is broken for some reason or another. Something as simple as going out to lunch with somebody throws me off! And going on a vacation/trip? Forget about it!

And that's not cool. It's one of the goals I have to work on this year. I want to work on not letting a break in my routine throw me off completely.

When I have a routine, I strive--mentally and physically. I feel best when I wake up at the same time every day, eat at the same time, drive the kids to school at the same time (since Noah drives now, it has helped a lot!), going for my walk at the same time, even walking the same route(!). I know that it may seem mundane to most people, but I like having the same routine every day.

It keeps me from feeling overwhelmed. Ideally, I would have a certain day to pay bills, a cleaning schedule to keep the house from getting too messy, and I would even schedule "fun time" where I can watch TV, play my Best Fiends game, or whatever--something pointless that I enjoy. When I do a little each day, it keeps me from letting it all build up and then just distracting myself with food or other bad habits to put off the stuff I actually need to do. 

I realize all this may not make sense--thanks, bipolar!--but I am trying really hard to develop a good routine this year. And along with that, I'm trying to figure out my "Plan B" for when things come up. And they will come up a lot! I've been journaling quite a bit about it, and I'm hoping it will help. I've already discovered just how much going to bed at a decent hour makes a difference in my energy levels. I hate sleeping (I feel like it's such a waste of time!) but I know it's necessary, so I'm doing the best I can to get to bed by 11:00.

I'm not so much doing this for weight loss/overeating as I am for just overall health. I want to feel better mentally just as badly as I do physically. I know that my physical stress causes some of my chronic pain in my neck, back, shoulders, and hips. The pain is lessened during times where I don't feel as overwhelmed. But when I feel stressed from all that needs to be done, I get knots in my muscles that are really painful. 

There are lots of reasons I need to get this stress/feeling of being overwhelmed under control. I'm working on it :) 

January 27, 2021

The Goals I Completed On My Original 40x40 List


Since I posted a new 40 Goals by 40 years old list on my birthday, I wanted to look over my previous list to check off the items that I completed. I still had one more year, but a lot of them have to do with traveling, and I don't think I'll be doing much of that this year with COVID being an issue. 

I started this list in April of 2018, with just under four years until I turned 40. Plenty of time to get these done! And then COVID threw a wrench in my plans, so I had to revise. (You can read my new 40 Goals by 40 Years Old list here.)

Here is my previous list and the goals I accomplished (as well as the ones I didn't)...

Watch all of Tom Hanks' movies - I got through about half of them (this does NOT include the ones I'd watched prior to starting this list. I've probably seen about 75% of his films. I was keeping track on this page in a bullet journal, but I stopped keeping track on it so I don't have several of them filled in.


  Read 40 books - I definitely did this, thanks to buying a Kindle Paperwhite! If I'd continued for another year, I'm sure I'd have at least 10 more. I did not include audiobooks on this list. Here are the books I've read (you can find more details on my Goodreads page).

  1. The Catcher in the Rye
  2. The Wife Between Us
  3. Coreyography
  4. Chasing the Merry Go Round
  5. The Gender Game
  6. The Gender Secret
  7. Working Stiff
  8. The Great Alone
  9. The Naked Mind
  10. The Silent Patient
  11. Vox
  12. The Woman in the Window
  13. Behind Closed Doors
  14. An Ember in the Ashes
  15. A Torch Against the Night
  16. Unwasted
  17. Drinking: A Love Story
  18. Into Thin Air
  19. Call Me Tuesday
  20. Keri
  21. The Pillars of the Earth
  22. World Without End
  23. A Column of Fire
  24. Born to Run
  25. Reborn on the Run
  26. Fall on Your Knees
  27. I Choose You
  28. Underlying
  29. Dry.
  30. A Curve in the Road
  31. The Last Thing She Ever Did
  32. Unspeakable Things
  33. The Stillwater Girls
  34. The Gifts of Imperfection
  35. Where the Crawdads Sing
  36. The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes
  37. If You Tell
  38. Every Last Drop
  39. Delay, Don't Deny
  40. The Boy in the Photo
  41. One Last Second
  42. The Selection

  Pay off debt - Done! We paid off $14,000 of credit card debt in 14 months. And now we've built up a savings account of about $14,000. It feels SO NICE not to have to worry about money all the time.

Visit the 48 contiguous United States - No, I didn't complete this. I'd been planning to do most of the traveling in 2020 and 2021. Here are the states I've been to (flying over them doesn't count). I've hit 34 out of 48:

  1. Arizona
  2. California
  3. Connecticut
  4. Florida
  5. Georgia
  6. Illinois
  7. Indiana
  8. Iowa
  9. Kansas
  10. Kentucky
  11. Maine
  12. Maryland
  13. Massachusetts
  14. Michigan
  15. Minnesota
  16. Missouri
  17. Nebraska
  18. Nevada
  19. New Hampshire
  20. New Jersey
  21. New York
  22. North Carolina
  23. Ohio
  24. Oregon
  25. Pennsylvania
  26. Rhode Island
  27. South Carolina
  28. Tennessee
  29. Utah
  30. Vermont
  31. Virginia
  32. Washington
  33. West Virginia
  34. Wisconsin

Read the Bible cover to cover - No, I didn't complete this one. I read Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. I took a break then, because I thought a lot of it was pretty disturbing. But I may attempt this again. Several people suggest that I read it in chronological order rather than cover-to-cover.

Get back to goal weight (133) - Nope, not even close, unfortunately.

Go to a concert (I've never been to one!) - No. I bought tickets and was SO excited about going with Jerry to a Korn concert (we loved Korn when we first started dating in 1999). It was even the weekend of our anniversary. But my anxiety was SO bad when the day came that we ended up not going :(

 Learn a new skill - I've learned several while working on the house--drywalling, woodworking, etc. But the skill I used for this item was to teach myself to draw. And this was the project I worked on.



 Watch Star Wars with Jerry - I did this, and it was the LONGEST couple of hours of my life. I even wore a Princess Leia costume because it was Jerry's birthday!

Handwrite a letter to each of 10 friends - No, I didn't do this one

Write letters to Noah and Eli - No, but I added this to my new list. 

 Watch a documentary to understand something I don't know much about - Yes! I watched The Many Parts of Jane, which was a docuseries about dissociative identity disorder (previously called multiple personality disorder).

See a movie at a drive-in movie theater - I came so close! My friends Andrea, Bonnie, Caitlin and I went to the theater and parked. Then we realized that the showing was NOT for The Sandlot, like we thought. It was for a young kids movie. So, we left before it even started (thankfully, we got a refund). This is on my new list, and I hope that the one that is being built nearby will be open this year!

 Complete a saved project on Pinterest - Yes! I made a festive skirting for a margarita table when we had friends over for Cinco de Mayo. I love how cute it was!



 Have my dad teach me to change the oil in my car - Done! It was a fun morning. He showed me all sorts of things that I should be checking regularly. But I changed the oil. I don't know that I would remember how to do it though, haha.


 Knit something - I finally finished knitting my hat!

 Crochet something - I crocheted a swiffer cover for my friend Emily.


Leave a very large tip for a server having a bad day - I didn't do this one yet, simply because we rarely go out to eat and I keep waiting for a server that really sticks out to me. Someone that seems like they really need it and is working hard.

 Create a vision board - I did this, and then shortly after, I was feeling really depressed. I stupidly tore it into several pieces and threw it in the garbage. Not at all childish! ;)

Build a bat house - Haven't done it yet, but I am going to this year!

 Write Jerry a love letter - Done! I don't remember much about it, but I wrote it and gave it to him.

 Read a classic novel - I read The Catcher in the Rye. I wish I could say I loved it, but I am just not into the "classics". I had to read several in school, but I don't remember them.

Cook a recipe with ingredients I've never heard of - I'm sure I probably did this, but I don't remember. It definitely wasn't intentional, so I'm not going to count it.

Make a time capsule with the family - Haven't done it, but this seems like the perfect time to do one with all of the changes that have happened in the last year.

 Go fruit picking - I did this with my friend Emily. We picked strawberries and made strawberry jam and strawberry margaritas. So fun!


Attend a murder mystery dinner - I still haven't done this. Hopefully this year!

Take a class of any sort - No, I haven't. This is way out of my introverted comfort zone, but I'd still like to do it.

Take each of the kids on a "date"--just the two of us - I think I did this, but I can't remember. So if I can't remember, I'm going to say no, I didn't. But I included something similar on my new list.

 Do an "Escape the Room" challenge - Yes! This was SO.MUCH.FUN. I did one in Kansas City with my girlfriends Andrea, Bonnie, and Caitlin.


 Try Thai food - Yes! I met up with a blog reader, Jen, who said she would take me to a Thai place so that I could check this off the list. It was delicious! I have a picture somewhere but for the life of me I can't remember when it was from! Found it! Thanks, Jen :)



Read a book out loud with the family - I haven't done this, but it's something I think would be fun. Unfortunately, I really don't think the rest of the family would find it fun, haha. Maybe I'll talk them into it.

Grow a vegetable or herb - I haven't done this yet, so I'll try this year. I included it on my new list.

Learn about (and start) and investment account - I did learn about them, but I did not start one. We had plans of meeting with a financial advisor last year, but again... COVID kind of messed that up.

 Go on a road trip - Yes! Jerry, the kids, Joey, and I all drove up to the upper peninsula (10 hours) to my sister's property. We stopped in Mackinaw on the way. It was fun!


Go camping - Still haven't done this! I write this as a goal every single year and I just never follow through with it. I want to have a camping memory with the kids, but I HATE camping and the outdoors and it just doesn't sound fun to me. However, I have great memories of camping with my family when I was a kid, so I want to take my boys this year. Noah will be 17(!) in July. I can't procrastinate any loner.

Go to a state fair - I haven't done this one, but it's kind of lost its appeal to me. So, I don't think I'll be doing this.

Develop one life-changing habit - I think I can call the walking I've been doing a "life-changing habit". I wrote a couple of posts about how much it has affected me for the better. Even if I don't continue to walk five miles every single day, it really has changed me mentally.

 Commit to a 30-day challenge - I committed to several, but did not finish them! Haha. However, I committed to giving up alcohol for all of 2019, and I completed that. I also committed to blogging every single day for all of 2020, and I completed that. So I'd say that I accomplished this goal!

Travel abroad - No. I had planned on doing this for Jerry's 40th birthday in September, but it was clear early in the year that we weren't going to be able to travel. We saved up quite a bit of money this year, however, so we might set aside some for a "vacation fund" and take the kids to Europe next year. I'd love to do that before they go off on their own!

See an orca in its natural habitat - This was something I wanted to do when we went out to the west coast. The next time I am in Seattle, I'm going to go on a whale watching adventure cruise and hope to see one!

I'm surprised! I've only completed 17 out of 40. Hopefully I'll do better with my new list! I only have 362 days left ;)

January 26, 2021

Transformation Tuesday #11


Happy Tuesday! I have a really great Transformation Tuesday post to share today. I'm going to post this one as a single transformation, because I feel like the topic should get the spotlight today.

I'm excited to share this story from Lynn in Ontario...


I’d like to share this transformation of my husband after his battle with leukemia and a life saving bone marrow transplant.

The first picture is about a week after he was given his new bone marrow cells (after going through heavy duty chemo and full body radiation to completely destroy his immune system). The cells were donated from an unselfish young man in Germany.


This was the most grueling part of the recovery and it was amazing he was even standing at this point. When I look back at that picture it makes me cry as it hardly looks like him and is a reminder of how much he went through to stay alive.

It is now 18 months post-transplant, and although he is still recovering and has had some ups and downs, he looks so much better.  He is feeling even better and is hoping to return to work soon. After two years we are allowed to contact his donor so we can let him know how much he has done for my husband and everyone who loves him.



Lynn, I am thrilled that your husband is doing so well! I hope that he continues to feel better and stays healthy.

I am very much in support of donation--bone marrow, blood, organ, tissue--I love to hear stories of all kinds of successful transplants. It is so heartwarming to see the good that comes from donation. It is truly a selfless act to choose to donate!

For anyone wanting more info, here is the UNOS page regarding living donations (kidneys, liver) as well as deceased donations; the Be The Match site for donating bone marrow; and the American Red Cross site to schedule blood donation. Jerry just registered for donating bone marrow (I tried but I don't qualify, unfortunately).


I only have a couple more Transformation Tuesday posts waiting in my inbox, so please consider sharing a transformation! It can be something silly or something serious--they are all fun to read and see the pictures.

Just send a before and after photo as well as some information about the transformation to my email: katie (at) runsforcookies (dot) com with the subject "Transformation Tuesday". 

January 25, 2021

A New 40 Goals by 40 Years Old List


Well, I'll just start this with a funny story. Yesterday, I was feeling bummed about turning 40. It just feels so old! (I'm not saying that those of you older than that are "old"--I'm sure you know how it is to FEEL old, though, at each milestone age.) I went through this when I turned 30, too, and now I would kill to be turning 30!

Last night, as I was cooking dinner, I texted Thomas to say that I was bummed it was my last day in my 30's. He said, "I thought you were turning 39 tomorrow?" 

Well, apparently as you age you forget how old you are. It turns out that I'm actually only 39 today and not 40! Hahaha :)

A few years ago, I wrote a list of 40 goals to accomplish by the time I turn 40 years old. Even though I have another year before I'm 40, there is no possible way to accomplish those goals. Thank you, COVID.

So, I'm writing a revised list. These goals are going to be smaller things that I can do within the next year--and hopefully COVID won't interfere. I'm choosing things that I should be able to do whether we are on lockdown or not. They may seem insignificant, but I like the idea of a 40x40 list.

Here is my new list of things to accomplish before I'm 40. Some of them are carried over from the previous list, but I'm not including all of the goals I already completed.

1. Go for a 10-mile walk.

2. Go for a 30-mile bike ride.

3. Build a bat house. 

4. Cook 52 new recipes.

5. Travel somewhere--anywhere--by plane.

6. Read 20 books.

7. Go camping with the family.

8. Write a "love letter" to Noah and Eli. 

9. Paint or stain our back deck. It's LONG overdue!

10. Go kayaking with Eli.

11. Bake a German chocolate cake (from scratch) for Jerry. 

12. Take Noah out for "real" ramen.

13. Make a time capsule with my family.

14. Take a single class to finish my associate's degree. I only need two credit hours.

15. Grow a vegetable or herb.

16. Complete a 30-day challenge.

17. Go on a picnic with the family.

18. Knit something.

19. Crochet something.

20. Sew something.

21. Complete a woodworking project.

22. Write a handwritten letter to five friends.

23. Teach Joey a new trick.

24. Watch a movie at a drive-in movie theater.

25. Make Amish Friendship Bread and deliver to friends.

26. So something altruistic.

27. Go to a Tigers game with the family.

28. Plant a tree.

29. Go without a phone for 24 hours.

30. Try a food I've never tried before.

31. Update my blog's pages to reflect newer posts.

32. Get a deep tissue massage.

33. Wear a dress.

34. Plant new landscaping.

35. Have a movie marathon with the family--a trilogy.

36. Sell three things on Facebook Marketplace or eBay.

37. Create a vision board.

38. Have a game night with friends (if not in-person, then via Zoom)

39. Play the Kicker in Keno.

40. Make fresh-squeezed lemonade.

And there it is! I tried to choose items that were more "one-off" that cumulative, so I can get them done in a day and not have to keep track all year. One year goes by way too fast!

January 24, 2021

HERITAGE RECIPE: Viola's One Course Meal


As promised, I chose a more obscure recipe to try this week from my heritage cookbooks. I wanted to pick something that seemed like it came mostly from memory--"a little of this and that"--and follow it as closely as I could interpret.

This recipe appealed to me because it said that it was from the handwritten recipe file of Edna Crispin. Since she called it "Viola's One Course Meal", and as I interpreted from the directions, I'm assuming it was her friend's or family member's recipe. I couldn't help smiling when I read it because of the way it was written--very cute!

This is definitely NOT a "pretty" meal, and it's kind of embarrassing to even post a photo of the finished product. ;)  However, a lot of times the best food is food that doesn't look pretty on a plate.


I followed this as-written, which is not very specific. I'll write out my interpretation below the one that was in the cookbook. Make sure you read my notes as well, because there are a few things I'd change if I make it again. I'll add some extra photos below the notes. (I always hate when I'm looking for a recipe and I have to scroll through a thousand pictures to get to the recipe itself.)


Here is a printer-friendly version of the recipe!

Ingredients (*see notes after recipe):

4 small potatoes, sliced
1 medium onion, sliced
1-2 carrots, sliced
1 pound ground beef
1/2 pound ground pork
1/4 cup breadcrumbs
1 (15 oz) can of peas (do not drain)
1 (4 oz) can of mushrooms (do not drain)
2 Tbsp. butter
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 F. Combine the beef, pork, breadcrumbs, salt, and pepper. Press a piece of foil along the bottom and sides of a 13x9 dish. Place the meat mixture on the foil and spread it out, pressing the meat down along the bottom until well-formed to the foil/dish. Then carefully lift out the foil with the beef and set it aside. In the 13x9 dish, lay out the potato slices, then the onions, and then the carrots.

Carefully remove the beef form from the foil and place it on top of the carrot layer. Then pour the peas and mushrooms over the top, including their liquid. Cut the butter into small pieces and dot around the top.

Cover the dish with foil and bake at 350 F for 60 minutes.*

*Notes: 

*The order of the layers wasn't clear to me, but from what I understood, it sounded like the potatoes, onions, and carrots were first, and then the beef on top of that--that way the juices from the meat will flavor the veggies underneath. (see photos below)

*I had to guess on the amounts of each ingredient and I was pretty much spot-on when it came to layering in the 13x9 dish. I did not peel the potatoes--just washed them well.

*If I make this again, I'd use 1-1/2 pounds ground beef (minimum 15% fat; I used 90/10 and it was too dry). I would also add something moist to the meat mixture--maybe an egg and a little milk?--to make the texture more like meatloaf. As I made it, it had the texture of a hamburger, which I think was too firm.

*I didn't see any cans of peas and mushrooms together at the store (I wasn't sure if she meant separate cans or that they came in one can) so I just used one can of peas and one can of mushrooms.

*The cooking time wasn't long enough for the size of my vegetables. The onions and carrots were still a little firm. So, I would either cut the slices thinner or bake longer, or both.

Here are some photos:

Here is how I pressed out the beef/pork layer--once it was formed in there, I gently lifted it out and set it on a piece of foil while I put the other layers in. (I should have just put the foil in the pan first, and then it would be easy to lift out!)


Layer of potatoes:


Followed by a layer of onions:


Followed by a layer of carrots:


Place the beef layer on top of those...



Then add the peas and mushrooms with their juice, and dot with butter.


This was an interesting recipe, and kind of fun to interpret! I wasn't crazy about it for the simple fact that the texture of the beef layer was too firm and the veggies weren't cooked soft enough. I would definitely make this again--I would just make the beef layer a little more like meatloaf and I'd bake it a little longer. I don't think I'd include the liquid from the peas and carrots, either.

Jerry loved this and said it reminded him of the inside of a pastie (an upper Michigan favorite--he grew up in Petoskey and developed a love for pasties).

January 23, 2021

January Read-Athon Book: 'The Selection' by Kiera Cass (a simple review)

A few days ago, I wrote about a read-athon (with a 'Friends' theme) and that I'd decided to go for it. The January prompt was "The One Where Monica Finds A Roommate", meaning to read the first book in a series. I wanted to pick a quick and easy read and after browsing around Amazon's lists, I chose a young adult book called 'The Selection' by Kiera Cass. (Amazon affiliate link)


The description from the publisher makes it sound so unappealing, but a friend highly recommended that I read the book. I was able to download it for free from the library, so I started reading it right away.

And I couldn't put it down.

I haven't been that absorbed in a book in such a long time! I'm not great at writing reviews, but I at least want to describe the book a little better than the publisher's description. (And no, I won't share any spoilers!)

It's a "young adult science fiction and dystopian romance" novel--the first in a series of five books. Hopefully this won't scare anyone off, but I couldn't stop thinking that it was a combination of The Hunger Games and The Bachelor, haha.

I don't know if the year was mentioned in the book, but it takes place after World War 3 and the country is torn apart and all that typical stuff of a teen dystopian read. Society is split into eight different castes, with 'one' being the highest (royalty, lots of money), and eight being looked at as pretty much nothing more than a cockroach. The job you have, the amount of money you earn, food you have, etc., is determined by your caste number. 

America Singer (yes--I, too, groaned out loud when I read the name) is a "five". The people in this caste have jobs in the arts, and she plays the violin. As fives, the families barely scrape by and certainly cannot afford luxuries.

America has been secretly dating a boy, Aspen, for two years. He's a "six", and it's very frowned upon for people to marry others that are in castes below theirs, so he and America keep their relationship a secret for the time being. They have little rendezvous in a treehouse at night, where America brings some of her dinner to him, and they dream about being together in the future. He wants to marry and provide for her, and feels guilty that he doesn't have the means to do so.

Meanwhile, the royal family invites all young women (I think ages 18-20?) to take part in The Selection. The girls fill out an application and only one from each area is chosen to move forward to the Selection contest at the palace.

The contest is for 35 girls to move into the palace and "date" the prince (Maxon). This is very much like The Bachelor, but there is no "rose ceremony" or anything like that. Maxon can send girls home whenever for whatever reason. The girl he eventually chooses will marry him, move into the palace, and become a princess.

America has no interest in trying to get selected, but if she is chosen, it would mean good things for her family--they would move up to a "three" caste and receive money from the palace. America's boyfriend encourages her to apply because he says he'll feel extremely guilty if she doesn't at least try for a better life.

Not surprisingly, America ends up as one of "The Selected". She thinks the whole contest is ridiculous and has no interest in actually trying to win, but she knows that the longer she stays there, the more money her family can save up (they are paid weekly while she is there).

I'll stop here, because I don't want to spoil the rest! I know it sounds silly and pretentious (and I guess it is in a way), but it really is a good story. I am a slow reader, but I finished this book in two days because I couldn't stop reading it. It ends with a cliffhanger, so I immediately downloaded the second book.

For February, the read-athon prompt is "I Wish I Could But I Don't Want To" - choose a book that is on your backlist. I have a lot of books on my backlist! I'm going to go through what I have downloaded to my Kindle and pick one.

January 22, 2021

Friday Night Photos

Unfortunately, this is going to be a rather short and unexciting 'Friday Night Photos' post because I simply didn't take many pictures at all this week! I just went through my camera roll to see what I could post, but there really isn't much. Still, I like these posts... so here are some photos from the week :)


Luke and Riley were at my parents' house this morning and I stopped over there while I was on my walk with Joey. Riley likes to do everything herself, and when it was time to get dressed, she couldn't quite orient her pullover jacket to go over her head. She was walking around like this in circles for a minute!



I was looking for a pattern for fingerless mitts to knit and I came across this one that was designed after Fiona's on Shameless. I really like them! I downloaded the pattern and started knitting them. Although, it'll probably be several years before I'm finished and can wear them, hahaha--seed stitch is my least favorite knitting pattern of all! But I love the mitts, so hopefully I'll eventually finish them.



Meanwhile, I've made a huge mess in my garage while I work on my Snow White costume. I've cut out all the pattern pieces and I stitched together the bodice and the sleeves so far. I was really intimidated to do the sleeves--they looked complicated. But I managed to figure them out and I'm proud of how they are looking :)

This is my garage mess. While it looks horrid, it's so much better than when I would sew in the house--because all of this would be sprawled out over my living room and dining room. 


This is what the sleeve looked like on the back...


And here are the sleeves after I sewed the underarm together


And of course, some pet photos...

Chick really loves Joey and he's always trying to cuddle with him. Joey seems confused and unsure of what to do, but he's started to let Chick cuddle up to him and he even started playing with him sometimes. They're a cute pair!



Speaking of cuddling, the kittens were cuddling on my bed together and it was adorable. Duck was lying on his back and Chick had is arm around him.



The kittens have gotten SO HUGE. Looking at this picture, I can't believe just how much they've grown. They were only 2 pounds each when we got them and now they're 11-12 pounds.



Today is my friend Sarah's birthday. We were born three days apart and we grew up two houses apart--we were always together! We were roommates in college and then she had to go and move to Arizona. But because our birthdays are so close together, we used to celebrate them together. Here are a couple of birthday pics. I believe we were turning 3 years old in the first picture and 11 in the second picture.




And that's all I have! Hopefully this will be a more exciting week :)

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