Index of Thoughts

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Girlfriends in the Kitchen - Butter Chicken, Vegetable Stew and Baked Ziti

When I lived in Montrose, I created a group of my girlfriends called Girlfriends in the Kitchen.  It was a fun collection of my friends at a time when we all had little ones and babies.  We would meet one to two times a month and create a meal or two to take home.  I have many blog posts with recipes on here from then.  I adored that time with my friends!  There's just something about a group of mamas making a meal together that nourishes the soul.

Since I moved back to Telluride, it has been an awesome thing but I have so missed my tribe.  I decided that I am pretty settled in now and feeling more grounded.  So, I decided to start cooking with my new tribe of ladies and today was the first day.

We made Baked Ziti, Butter Chicken (Makhani) and Vegetable Stew and as promised here are our recipes:

Baked Ziti

1 pound dry ziti pasta
1 onion, chopped
1 pound lean ground beef
1 (26 ounce) jar marina sauce
1 cup sour cream
1 cup ricotta cheese
6 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add ziti pasta, and cook until al dente, about 10 minutes; drain.
In a large skillet, brown onion and ground beef over medium heat. Add marina sauce, and simmer 15 minutes. Then add the ziti, ricotta and mozzarella cheeses and sour cream.  Stir together.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Butter a 9x13 inch baking dish. Put mixture in dish. Top with grated Parmesan cheese.

Bake for 30 minutes in the preheated oven, or until cheeses are melted.

Butter Chicken

2 pounds chopped chicken, skinned and boneless (I combine breast and thigh)
4-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
8 cloves chopped garlic
1 cup almond meal
½ cup water
1 1/2 cups plain yogurt (fat, low-fat, or non-fat)
2 teaspoons red chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons garam masala
8 green cardamom pods, lightly crushed in mortar and pestle
1 tablespoons salt
5 medium tomatoes, chopped
1 large onions, thinly sliced
8 tablespoons ghee or unsalted butter (1 stick)
½ cup heavy cream or half and half
½ - 1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

Turn empty slow cooker to high while you prep to heat it up.
Wash and cut chicken into chunks. Don’t cut it too small or it will dry out while cooking.  Set aside in a bowl.  Add all the ingredients except the cilantro into the crockpot and stir.
Turn slow cooker on low and cook for 6 hours.
After cooking, add the cilantro and stir.
Optional: Top with chopped onions and green chilies. Serve with Basmati rice or thick naan.

Vegetable Stew

1 med chopped onions
2 ribs chopped celery
2 medium chopped carrots
2 cups cut green beans
1½ tablespoon finely chopped garlic
5 cups vegetable broth
2 large cut up potatoes ( I leave the skin on)
¼ cup tomato paste
1 tablespoon oregano
1 bay leaf
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
Ground black pepper to taste

Heat your crockpot up. Then add all the ingredients. Cook on low for 6 hours.

Friday, July 29, 2016

A farewell toast to Marmie Lingerie

Well, it's here.  The last day of my adventure in lingerie.  It is definitely a bittersweet goodbye.  I have thoroughly enjoyed so many aspects of this business.  I have met and become friends with so many amazing women in my community.  It has allowed me to help empower so many women which is the whole reason I started Marmie.

I began Marmie with a need to do something for just me.  Marmie is an old southern term for mother. It was a name chosen to honor all the mothers including myself.  I just began it as a homemade business.  I needed something else other than kids and chores.  As I blossomed with self-confidence and learning to chose things to make myself grounded and fulfilled, it led me to really want to help others do the same.  Lingerie just fit the bill.

Now, after 2 years in the retail biz in a small resort town, it was a good decision to focus back on why I even started Marmie.  "Mother" comes first and having a family with 3 small children makes a retail business very difficult especially one that is just starting out.  I give big kudos to all the Telluride locals who work so hard and have so many long days during the busy time and the months with no sales.  That's why it is so important to support local businesses!!

Those of you who have known me a long time, will know that I will definitely not be sitting still.  I am really looking forward to switching gears and helping expand my husband's business who will be moving into my space with his wood flooring. And you know that I'm a lover of handmade & local small businesses so you can expect to see my Pop-Up Markets in the future.  I will always have my blog which is such a nice, soft place to come back to.

As far as my children, I will have more space for them and myself.  Honestly, I am a bit unsettled feeling about it all.  I had decided to homeschool my younger two but I haven't done anything to move forward with withdrawing them from school.  I have been a bit torn about it all.  This will be the first time in almost 12 years that I won't have a child at home with me (if I don't homeschool).  It is an easy transition for some women but I am a little sad about it.  And now that I am on the brink of my last day at Marmie Lingerie and getting so close for school to start, it feels like the future is wide open, and I am a nervously excited about the possibility of holding that open space for myself.

So here's to (raise your glasses) pretty lingerie, to fabulous women, to amazing bodies in all their glorious shapes, to all the working mamas, to unknown futures, to happily ever afters, to self-employment, to you and to me.  Thanks for this incredible ride!

Looking forward to what's to come...


Thursday, July 21, 2016

Peach Basil Mojitos & Buffalo Chicken Salad

Peaches are my absolute favorite fruit.  Pineapples are a close second!  Nothing says summer to me like a fresh fruity cocktail and a yummy salad on a summer Friday night.

I decided to make a Buffalo Chicken Salad and Peach Basil Mojito.  I am not much of a measurer - more of an estimator.  So a lot of my recipes are a round about idea of ingredient quantity.  I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we did. And yes, I use my christmas dishes year round.  We live in the mountains so I feel trees are relevant year round :)

Peach Basil Mojito

Fresh Peach
Fresh Basil
Fresh Mint
Sweetened Lime Syrup
Club Soda

I muddled a handful of mint, basil, syrup, 2 lime wedges and half of a peach in a cocktail shaker.  Then I added some ice and about 1/2 cup of rum.  Then, I shook it up really good.  I filled up two glasses with ice and divided the mixture between the two glasses only filling 3/4 full.  Then I top it off with the club soda.  Don't stir it.  The club soda cuts the rum a little at first and helps nurse your way into the stronger drink at the bottom.

Buffalo Chicken Salad

Grilled Chicken Tenders
Buffalo sauce
diced tomatoes
bacon crumbles
blue cheese crumbles
fresh corn
black beans
diced red pepper
dressing of choice

I like to serve my salads on platters that way the goody doesn't fall to the bottom.  Just load up all the ingredients and add any more that you may have in the fridge.  After grilling our chicken tenders, I tossed the adults in buffalo sauce and left the others plain for the kids (I did salt and pepper them before grilling).  I served my salad with several dressing choices.  I like blue cheese, ranch or a good vinaigrette with mine.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Best Bra Fit Tips

In the fitting room women often tell me that bras are uncomfortable and have the idea that “that’s just the way it is”.  That is not true!  A properly fitted bra should leave you feeling supported and comfortable without necessarily being conscious of wearing a bra even one with underwire.  

Here are a few tips for your next bra-shopping trip:

1. The Sizing Numbers aren't everything
In a bra size of 36D, for example, the number "36" represents the band size and is based on the measurement around your ribcage under your bust- directly where your breasts meet your ribcage.  But someone can go up, down an inch from their measurement.  The letter “D” represents the volume of the cup or the amount of breast tissue the cup can hold.  Many women don't realize that the number and the letter are proportionate, so that a 32D for example represents a COMPLETELY different breast volume than a 36D.

2. The breast should be contained
Breasts should be encased in the cups and not spilling out the side, top or bottom of the cup.  If the entire breast is lifted and contained in a well-fitting bra, irritation will be avoided.

The dreaded Quad Boob from overspilling is not attractive
A good fit is shown here.  See how the band is snug around the ribcage and all the breast tissue is in the cup.

3. Support is NOT from the straps
The support in a well-fitted bra always comes from the band, not the straps.  If your breasts look “saggy” even with a bra on, and your breasts are completely encased in the cups, try going down a band size (for example from 36 to 34) and up a cup size (for example from D to DD) INSTEAD of tightening the shoulder straps as far as they will go.  I’ve seen women with deep shoulder grooves caused by carrying the weight of their breasts on their shoulders instead of distributed around their ribcage as it would be in a well-fitted bra.  A good rule of thumb is to take your straps off and raise your hands above your head.  If the band isn't secure and snug, then it is too big.

Sagging, gaping cups are a poor fit
4. Breast Position
In a well-fitted bra your breasts should sit about mid-way between your shoulder and your elbow, with the nipple in line with your bicep.  If, with a bra on, your breasts are tending more towards your elbows than your biceps it's time to ditch that bra!

Saggy breasts or compressed ones from sports bras will change your shape and can even make you look heavier.

5. Underwire is your friend
Women of all ages complain about underwired bras and in most instances the cause of the discomfort is the same – the bra does not fit well.  In a well-fitting underwired bra the underwire should rest on your ribcage, not on breast tissue.  Also, the underwire should not press into your skin or cause pain at any point but should feel pretty snug which takes some getting used to if you have been wearing a bra size that is too big.  As a woman ages or in women with larger breasts, underwired bras will provide more lift, support and shaping than a soft bra can.  A seamed or 3 paneled bra also offers superior support than a molded or seamless cup.  It takes some getting used to for clients because the breast is more conical in shape which is actually more natural.

6. It should be a Hell Yeah!
When trying on a bra take a moment to be sure it is comfortable.  Raise your arms – the band should stay in place and not shift position.  Make sure there are no uncomfortable points because over the course of a long day that discomfort can be exaggerated. Put on your top and make you are happy with the profile the bra is giving you under clothing.  I always tell my clients that your bra should feel like a "Hell yeah" and you should walk away with something that feels and looks good.

Wall Candy Printables - I need this!!

Friday, May 22, 2015

Playing 1979

"Dolce Far Niente"

Or the "Sweetness of Doing Nothing" is a very easy concept for most societies in this world except for ours.

I had to check myself yesterday as I was planning the summer itinerary for myself and my girls.  I almost hit the Checkout Button on all of these wonderful programs that they have in Telluride for kids in the summer.  Paddle Board camp, mountain biking, art, hiking, camping trips, rafting trips, horse trips, swim team, tennis lessons, run with the wolves, etc....  You name it and they have it here. Plus, that's on top of all the amazing festivals lined up and free concerts in the park.  The summers in Telluride are the cherry on top of the year.

But, there was something that made me not follow thru with signing them up for all of these wonderful things.  Well, first selfishly, I don't want to be running kids here and there all summer long. And most importantly, I don't want to over program their summer where there's just no time before school starts back up again.

I don't know how you spent your summers as a kid but I lived on a farm that was 20 miles from town.  I was bored A LOT.  Don't get me wrong!  We had amazing summer vacations, and I always had my horse at home.  But, I also remember sitting around hot as hell in the humid Georgia heat being BORED.  My girlfriend from home asked me once if I played 1979 with my kids.  I told her that I didn't know that game.  She said it's when you lock your kids outside and make them play.  I laughed so hard and said I played that game all the time when I was a kid.  My mom would say "If you don't get off this porch and go play then you're going to have to go pick up rocks in the pastures!"

My brother and I being locked out AKA "Playing 1979"

Playing 1979 to me was 
playing indians in the woods, going fishing, riding my horse, building forts, doing yard work, making ice cream, having picnics, cutting grass, laying in the sun, picking flowers, drinking from a water hose, catching fireflies and crickets, watching the fillies and colts play in the thunderstorms, dancing in the warm rain, wearing your bathing suit all day long for days, playing in the sprinkler, slip n slides, bickering with and annoying my sister and brother, sleeping under the stars, picking apples on my horses back, cleaning out barn stalls, barn kittens, hauling hay, swimming pools, boating, intertubing, reading, making mud pies, riding in the back of my dad's pick up truck, and spending all day outside with no one able to reach us until we came home for dinner.

After spending time with my Aunt Evie and I'm sure it's probably 100 degrees here. 
I decided that my girls needed more time of being bored and playing 1979.  Heck, I need more 1979 in my life too.  I decided that instead of doing all these camps and organized activities that I should just hire a babysitter at home more this summer while I work so they can learn "dolce far niente". My Bucket list this summer is more time with friends and family and less time of being overly occupied.  I hope you and yours a summer filled with summer fun and maybe a little more time of being bored.

Churning that ice-cream.  Will it ever be done??

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

"Under Grace" and Love...Honoring a young soul taken too soon

ROMANS 6:14 says this: For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.

Read this verse in a sermon from Justin from Grace Church in Montrose, CO about the passing of a young soul.  For my friends and family who aren't a part of this community - a lovely, wonderful 17 year old girl took her life and has left everyone in such shock and sadness.  She suffered from depression which was antagonized by extreme bullying.  I did not know her personally but knew of her and had the pleasure of catering an event for her family a few years ago.  She was lovely, beautiful, involved in the church, had a loving supportive family.  She was not the person who you would picture to end her life.  She is your daughter, your sister, your best friend, your girlfriend.  She could be you.  And yet, it happened.

There have been so many tragedies lately in our community especially of those taken too soon.  The circumstances of this awful passing has left me so sad and concerned.   The entire Montrose community has been affected and are wanting to make a difference.  There are so many issues surrounding bullying and mental health.  And questions like Why is the suicide rate so high here?  I think it is pretty amazing that there is going to be a public forum for the community to address these issues and try to intervene in the future to help save others.

It makes me think about my three daughters with one almost in middle school and all the other children who I come into contact with.

How to prevent this?  How to help someone?  When should you step in?  
What signs to look for?

It's super scary!  It's scares the hell out of me to even consider my child dying before me.  I have witnessed so many brave friends who have travelled this journey.  The pain transfers over to the ones left behind.  Some are able to use their experiences to counsel or make a difference but that is not a calling for everyone.  Others just try to focus on each day at a time.  I have learned that at some point in time we all experience a loss or pain that we learn to carry.  Their courage inspires me and increases my faith.

The verse from Romans above really touched me.  I don't remember this one from Sunday School.  Being under the power of Grace feels so freeing and so loving.  My God is a loving and fair one who gives himself freely to everyone.  He is not a fire and brimstone God who governs with a strict law and iron fist.  I know that he welcomed her home.  I don't think that this was his plan for her but how can we use this for good under His Grace? How can this tragedy teach us all?  How can her life and her experiences change us?  

I know that for me the first thing I did was talk to my two older daughters and my mother.  To open the dialogue about suicide and bullying with my children.  To ask the tough questions.  To encourage their self-confidence as well as their support for other kids that they witness who are being picked on.  To ask my children's school what kind of programs and policies that they have in bullying.  

It also gave me the courage to approach one of my daughter's teachers who she told me was not stepping in when bullying was happening in their class.  It gave me the courage to do something and to speak up.  I hope this will also inspire you to do the same.  Her death has left a big mark and she will always be remembered.  I pray for all the losses that our community and my friends have endured.  

Under love and grace,

Monday, March 30, 2015

20 Dairy & Egg Free Meal Ideas

Well, we thought we were out of the woods with food allergies but they are back and are very apparent in my children's lives.  My oldest daughter has had a pretty strong allergy to eggs since she was little.  It's an allergy that the doctors thought she might grow out of.  We thought that she had after letting her try them a year ago but after only 2 weeks the allergy came raging back.

About a month ago, my second daughter was tested for food allergies after complaining for some time about her tummy hurting.  The results came in with a dairy and egg allergy.  I had gotten down how to cook without eggs and now adding dairy was another challenge.  I realized how much of it that we were eating including butter, cheese, yogurt, milk, sour cream, etc....

I scoured Pinterest and Google for more ideas then kept a meal diary of my own to share with you all.  I have found that the advice of others including my mother who also has a dairy and egg allergy has made it easier.  And that some vegan products are really good and others are just not worth the money.  I have been super happy with all the coconut milk products!  I also prefer to use oil or vegetable shortening instead of the vegan butter.  I just avoid vegan cheese although the vegan cream cheese isn't too bad.  I hope this might help some of you who are also not Vegan but cooking for food allergies.

-Tacos with guacamole cream
-Vegan pancakes/waffles and sausage and fruit smoothies (I like to add oats to my batter)
-Thai Coconut Veggie Stirfry over rice ( I like to use all kinds of yummy veggies)
-Hamburgers and hot dogs with salad, Vegan Mac & Cheese (used the box kind & it is pretty good) and fries 
-Baked fish with breadcrumbs/olive oil/lemon/Greek seasoning with broccoli & rice pilaf
-Bahn Mi steak sandwich, broccoli & sweet potatoe fries
-White Bean & Rosemary Soup with sourdough bread & olive oil w/balsamic
-Chicken pot pie soup (almond milk and oil to sub), toast & vegan brownies (using flax seed/almond milk)
-Greek Chicken pasta salad (we used penne and omitted the feta)
-Burgers, salad & tots
-Spaghetti and salad (vegan parmesan)
-Pork & veggie fried rice (good base recipe - omit egg) and potstickers (frozen kind are egg free)
-Mustard Glazed Pork tenderloin, green beans, roasted potatoes & salad
-Grilled Steak, rice pilaf and green salad
-Korean beef bowls (so easy and a new fave -topped ours with some shredded carrot & cabbage, cilantro, fresh jalepenos)
-Jamaican Beef Stew over rice (left out habanero)
-Chicken, broccoli & pasta skillet meal with almond milk "cheese" sauce (flour, almond milk, olive oil, oregano, garlic, basil, parsley, seasoned salt, nutritional yeast)
-Chili with corn chips (so many yummy chilis to make - we love it with sweet potato in ours)

So there you go!  As you can see that a lot of Thai/Korean meals are super easy on a dairy/egg free diet.  Bon Appetit!
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