Monthly Archives: December 2008

I wish all of you a very happy holiday season.  Have fun and be safe.  Give thought and energy to and be open to all the wonderful things in the coming year.  And most of all be grateful for and show love to those most precious to you.

This is yet another crazy recipe that I came up with while digging through the cupboards looking for something to eat.  Nothing fancy, but a great way to use up the little bits of vegetables that collect in the produce drawer.  You can substitute any veggies or meat that you like into this recipe and it would also be great with leftover roasted potatoes instead of  rice.  

Hearty Chicken and Rice Bowl

1. t olive oil
1 Chicken breast, cubed
3/4 C. Cramini Mushrooms, roughly chopped
1 pinch dried oregano
1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes
1 pinch each salt and pepper
3/4 C.  Cramini Mushrooms, roughly chopped
1/2 C.  Onion, chopped
1 Carrot, sliced
3 T Cilantro, chopped
1 C. Cooked Brown Rice
1/2 C.  Prepared Brown Gravy
salt and pepper to taste

Don’t forget to cook your rice (I seem to forget to do this more than I would like.  I can’t count the times we ate stir-fry with no rice because I forgot to put it in to cook, rice can take a while.).

Prepare or heat gravy in a small pan while preparing the rest of the recipe.  I just use a packet, but you could make it from scratch, use leftover from a previous meal or prepared in a jar.  Doesn’t really matter what you use, just make sure it is hot before the meat and veggies are done.

Heat oil in large skillet over medium high heat. 

Add Chicken Breast and Mushrooms along with oregano, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper.  Cook for a few minutes until the chicken and mushrooms are cooked through and nicely browned.

Add Onion and Carrot and continue to cook for another minute or two just until the cold crunchy rawness is gone, you want these crisp still.

For each serving, put 1/2 the rice in the bottom of a good sized bowl.  Add 1/2 the chicken and veggie mixture and top with 1/2 the gravy.  Sprinkle 1/2 the cilantro on top.

You can season with a little more salt and pepper if needed.

I have to admit that I thought this recipe would be lower calorie than it is seeing as it is just rice and vegetables and chicken breast. I guess it’s not too bad and it does get a good grade (A-) for being low in fat and sugar and high in nutrients. It is a one bowl meal so for a hearty, warm and really satisfying bowl of food, the calories are pretty reasonable.  

It is high in sodium so if you are watching that you may want to substitute reduced low sodium beef broth for the gravy as that is where the salt is concentrated. This would reduce the calories a bit as well. Not sure how good it will taste as I haven’t tried it, but it should be pretty good.   I would reduce the broth down a little before serving to concentrate the flavor.  I will give it a try and post an update sometime soon.

Nutritional Information for this recipe

Every mom is constantly trying to sneak more veggies into the kid’s diet, right? Well,  my mother in law inspired me last time we visited her and the outcome was this delicious mini meatball recipe that my kids love and is full of veggie goodness.  I think they are great too and usually make myself an extra one to snack on when I cook them for the kids.  They would even make a great burger.

I don’t worry terribly about the amount of fat my kids intake in a meal like this, because they are light eaters and  eat a pretty healthy, well balanced diet so a little fat is still good for them and these meatballs are very tasty the way they are.  But, if it looks a little fatty for you or your kids, then I would suggest  cutting the sausage in half and upping the amount of lean meat.  I wouldn’t suggest cutting the sausage all together though as it is integral to the flavor and really what makes them so palatable for the kids.

This is a good sized recipe and will make 20-40 meatballs, depending on size.  This is the best part though.  After cooking them, lay them out on a cookie sheet in a single layer and put them in the freezer for an hour to overnight and then put all the little meatballs in a gallon freezer bag.  You can then take out the desired amount and heat them in the microwave.  30 seconds on high, turn, then another 30 seconds on high.

This is best made using a food processor. If you don’t own one, look to the bottom of this article for notes on making them by hand.

Hide-a-Veggie Meatball Recipe

1 lb. Very lean ground beef or ground turkey (both are equally good)
1 lb. ground pork sausage
1 medium zucchini, cut into chunks
2 medium carrots or 2 handfuls of baby carrots, cut into chunks
1 small onion, cut into chunks (about 1/2 cup or so)
2 cloves of garlic
2 slices of whole wheat bread (or any other kind of bread), regular sized slices not large – adjust for larger slices.
1 egg
1 t dry Italian seasoning (or a smidge each of oregan0, basil, thyme and/or rosemary, whatever you have is totally fine)
1/2 t salt
1/4 t pepper

Put everything but the meat into the food processor and blend until very small bits, but not too much. Add the meat and mix until everything is well incorporated.

Pinch off small balls, roll them a little in your palm and place them in a large frying pan (oven safe only) in a single layer. Depending on how big of pan you have, you may have to do two batches.

Preheat the oven to 400F

Place the pan over medium heat and cook the meatballs until they are nicely browned on one side. Turn each meatball over using a pair of
and brown on the other side.

Take the pan and place it in the oven. Bake the meatballs until they are cooked through, about 10 minutes.

Remove and serve.

Remember to freeze any leftovers for an easy quick meal at a later time.


If you don’t have a food processor, you can easily make these by hand in a large mixing bowl, it will just be a little more work.

The carrots, onions, garlic and zucchini need to be shredded and then use a knife to cut those shreds as small as you can. Use dried bread crumbs instead of the bread slices, about 1 cup.

Add all the ingredients in the bowl and then mix well with your hands.

Proceed as stated above.

Nutritional Information –  Full Version
Nutritional Information – Light Version

Note:  Although the total fat and saturated fat is significantly lower in the light version, the grade didn’t change.  hmmm.


I just love this photo. It makes my heart melt a little to think about these kids growing up vacationing together. Excuse my sappiness, but this is what it is all about, building those unforgettable memories with others you truly care about.

This reading will look into this years financial outlook.

The Setup

For this reading I will use a cover and cross layout and will deal out three cover and cross pairs.  The cards in use include I-X of the Major Arcana cards and I-X of Coins.  Coins are the cards of money matters.

To Deal Out this spread, shuffle the Major Arcana cards and the Coin cards separately.  Deal out three cover cards from the Coins pile and then three cross cards that lay across the cover cards from the Major Arcana pile.

The Question

What is the financial outlook for this year?

The Spread

Tarot Reading

Cover:  IX Coins
Cross: IX Hermit

Cover: V Coins
Cross: VI Lovers

Cover: VII Coins
Cross: IV Emperor

The Answer

Pair 1: You will have enough to ease the pressure and pursue your goals.
Pair 2: You will feel your belt tighten and look for budget tightening measures.
Pair 3: Your earnings will maintain your desired lifestyle.

The Cards

IX Coins

My Take: A woman stands in a garden holding a dove, another flying overhead. Her dress suggests a traditional and conservative woman. Coins surround her head like a wreath. This feels like a card of adequate amounts, of building something comfortable.

The Card: You have worked hard and have created a peaceful and well deserved oasis for yourself. Be careful that you might be shutting out the rest of the world.

IX Hermit

My Take: The Hermit sits isolated looking inward for the answers. His light beacons for others to find him so that he may share what he learns. He is alone and withdrawn.

The Card: Self-imposed isolation. The hermit removes himself in order to gain perspective on his situation through meditation and self-reflection. The light from the lantern brings access to the deepest recesses of your mind. If you are using seclusion to escape, use the hermit energy to figure out why.

V Coins

My Take: It is snowing. A ragged woman begs for money, holding her baby close trying to keep it warm. She feels sad, reaching out to others to relieve her situation.

The Card:   Experience of misfortune, either financial or emotional.  You must be willing to do what it takes to get through this time and onto the next cycle of your life.  This is a temporary state.  Beware of a poor me attitude, your success or failure may depend on your attitude.

VI Lovers

My Take:  The couple is intertwine, joined in the intimate of ways.  Although this can obviously refer to positive sexual relations, it can also refer to two people being in sync with one another, working well as a team.  You must only be careful not to lose yourself in the other person.

The Card:  Any kind of relationship and the vulnerabilities that go along with it.  Being open, honest and vulnerable with another person.

VII Coins

My Take: This card shows a tree filled with coins with a woman sitting under it with he dog and some empty baskets.  The sun is out and she has a satisfied look on her face.  This card reminds me of the proverbial money tree, ripe and ready for harvesting.  Things are good and the money it there for the taking, just reach out and fill your baskets.  There is something slightly lonely about this card though.  She is far away from anything much and has only her dog for company.  There are two sides to every coin.

The Card:  The tree is ripe and ready but it is important to be patient and wait for just the right moment to optimize the harvest.  The woman ponders her situation, examining her next move.  Another interpretation might be that something that you have tended to and cared for is now ready to grow on it’s own.  Your immediate attention is no longer needed.

IV Emperor

My Take:  The emperor is all about structure and order and having the tools available to you to accomplish the task at hand.  In this reading it seems appropriate that there would be enough money to create the structure and material world that is needed for you to feel secure and powerful.

The Card:  The emperor sees the need for structure and order in everything.  He yields the power to decide what projects to take on and/or who is worthy of his civic offerings.  He must be aware of the consequences of his decisions.  This card can refer to all things dealing with power.  Fathers or fatherly figures, government institutions, laws and regulations, tyranny and charity.

Reading Analysis

I like to think of multiple cover and cross pairs as a sort of timeline.  I asked about the next year so I see it as the first pair being about the current situation, the second about the middle of the year and the last as the end of the year.  

There are no surprises here.  All of my inputs say the same thing, that money is here, will be here and will keep coming.  There have been some signs along the way that there is a lot of money somewhere, but there has been no sign of any big windfall anywhere.  Karli has been doing very well for us and I have no doubt will continue to do so.

There seems to be a little stumble sometime this year, where we might need to address the budget and our expenditures some.  I will keep this in mind as I can see it being an issue as for the first time since I left work, we are finally in the black and have been spending a little willy nilly lately.  We’ll have to make sure to keep that in check.

After examining each card individually, it is uncanny how the cards can address the questioned situation while still being very telling in other pertinent areas of our lives.  The cards speak of isolation, self-reflection, turning inward, pain, feeling sorry for yourself, reaching out for help and depending on those closest to us and then reestablishing order and looking closely at what the future looks like.  That sounds like a past present future reading for myself if I ever saw one.

I know, I know, he’s only 18 months old, but it was still very exciting.  After the whole poop in the tub incident, I have been watching Ian for signs that he may need to go potty while he is in the tub.  Well,  he grabs himself, of course.  So a couple of times while I was still a little jumpy, (understandably so, right?) I would pull him out of the tub and put him on the potty, because I had read on some forum somewhere that that had worked for someone.

Well,  lately he has been wanting to sit on the potty whenever he gets out of the tub.  He is also a total menace in the bathroom and he is getting old enough that the bathroom can’t just simply be off limits so I needed something to distract him away from all the no nos in the bathroom.  

The worst is the toilet brush.  Those brushes are nasty and I really wish there was some alternative.  I have been looking, but haven’t really found a suitable alternative.  I am going to start using baking soda and vinegar and see how it goes though because I just read way too much on the chemicals in toilet cleaners.

Oh yeah,  Ian and the potty.  

I decided that I would buy him his own little potty.  I put it in the bathroom and now he has something to do and concentrate on rather than the nasty toilet brush and flip up garbage can.  It has been working like a charm for the last two days.  Karli even got a great pic of him brushing his teeth on the potty this afternoon.


I wasn’t really thinking about him actually using the potty.  He’s very little still after all.  But, tonight after his bath, he climbed out of the tub and went right over to his potty and sat down and refused to get up.  So, I sat down and started talking to him about using the potty and how if he needed to go potty, he could point it down and just go.  

After a few minutes I was ready to move on and trying to distract him with all sorts of talk of milk and stories and jammies. I finally coaxed him off the potty and lo and behold, there it was.  A significant puddle. Frenzy ensues.  Karli ran to get a bite of brownie from the kitchen (they get a treat for using the potty, right?) and I wrapped him in his towel and smothered him with kisses and praise.

Ahh,  there is a light.  He will eventually grow up and learn to do things for himself.  He will eventually learn how to follow some rules and take to some structure.  

A pretty cool moment, I have to say.

With one cutting canine teeth and the other finally realizing that her little brother is sticking around and will continue to take attention away from her, I find myself relishing the cute things they do.  If I didn’t, the whining and complaining and acting out might drive me into some deep dark level of madness.

But, they are just the cutest damn thing you have ever seen.  How he snuggles into my lap and takes my hand and rubs his head just how he likes it.  How she looks at me with those big blue eye and demands milk and then catches herself  “Can I please have some milk mama?”, she says with a sly smile.  How he spins around until he falls down and jumps up and down with the imagination movers.  How she is so proud of her extraordinary coloring skills.  How he curls up with Pella in the giant new dog bed.  How she scrunches up on the couch in the morning, her little bum sticking right up in the air.

I could go on and on and on and on.  They have this very special way of driving you crazy and melting your heart at the same time.  These are the times when I realize how much I love this job.