Healthy Eating and Guiltless Cookies

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Much like many people, I have been making a conscious effort to improve the quality of foods that I am eating.  Sodas were the first to go! Yes, it was hard, but I started by cutting back until I would allow myself one a week as a treat. Now I honestly do not even want that. Best of all I notice a difference in how I feel.

Adding more fresh veggies and fruit was not a problem since I have always loved and eaten lots in this area. Now I just don’t buy anything processed (canned, frozen, pre-prepped).  I even started making my own bread so that I can control the ingredients.

This all sounds good, but I must admit that there is one area that is really, really, REALLY hard for me . . . sweets.  I would always keep some ginger snaps around to snack on. I’d grab two or three from the cookies jar a couple of time a day.  My husband would take five (or more) at a time.  We decided not to buy cookies anymore and I have been missing them.  Lately, I have been craving a cookie.

Okay, so where AM I going with this? A couple of weeks ago I saw a recipe on Facebook for a healthy cookie. I have seen it before, but never made them.  This time, I told myself, would be different. Well, it took a little while but I finally made them this morning! Not sure where the original recipe comes from, but this was version posted by PerezHilton.com.


3 ripe mashed bananas (I measured and had about 1 – 1/2 cups)

1/3 cup applesauce (I used unsweetened – otherwise you are defeating the purpose)

2 cups rolled oats (NOT 5 minute or instant)

1/4 cup almond milk

1/2 cup raisins (optional, but yummy and adds sweetness)

1 tsp vanilla

1 tsp cinnamon

Basically, this is an easy one bowl recipe. You don’t even need to get out your mixer. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Peel and mash your bananas. I used the vintage potato masher that my mom gave me. Add the remaining ingredients in order, stirring after each addition. That’s it, easy peasy!

Using a medium scoop, place dollops onto a baking stone and lightly press down.  Bake 15 – 20 minutes, allow to cool for a few minutes before removing to cooling rack.

I only put about 8 cookies per sheet, because I was not sure how they would spread and the mixture is loose. I ended up with 2 dozen cookies (plus one that was sacrificed to the taste tester – me!) If you use metal sheets, I would recommend lining the sheets with parchment paper. Personally, I do not use cooking sprays or shortening. When necessary I will use butter (not margarine).

The results: a soft, moist, cake-like cookie with good flavor.

I took the cookies I made this morning to The Stitcher’s group at my church. We meet every Tuesday morning to work on any project that involves stitches – from crochet to quilts.  At first this group – with some very good cooks – was extremely skeptical of a sugarless, flourless, eggless, dairyless, fat free, cookie. However, one taste let to another and even to seconds and requests for the recipe.

The verdict: this is a keeper

Future modifications: add coconut, unsweetened cocoa, pecans

If you try this recipe, please let me know what you think!

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Testing

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I’m not in school and am not teaching full-time, yet testing is still part of my life. Much of yesterday was spent testing a new crochet pattern – – this type of testing I LIKE!

The Official CCC Social Group on Facebook is a group of women AND MEN who support and encourage each other in life while working on crochet projects. A member asked for help in testing a new pattern she wrote that honors and remembers a young woman who was a victim of domestic violence. This horrific violence committed by those who are supposed to love you have been much in the news these days. Too long have people looked the other way and her pattern is intended to continue to raise awareness of this tragedy and support those who have been touched by domestic violence.

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Beginning of Shawl

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Time to transition to new stitch pattern (and color?).

The test pattern is available on Ravelry and you can get it here. Modifications are still being made, so you might want to wait before starting a project with this pattern. I’m about two-thirds finished and are some pics of what I have done so far.  I’m getting ready to transition to the next stitch pattern (and perhaps a new color). Can’t wait to see how it turns out.

Happy Crafting, Happy Life!

Moms’ Afternoon Out

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If you haven’t seen “Moms’ Night Out” yet – SEE IT!  It is a great movie with Patricia Heaton, Sean Astin, and Trace Adkins in a surprising role!  You can get the movie on DVD from Netflix and Redbox

Our day started with lunch at a nearby bakery cafe. It was a cold a rainy day (sounds like the start of Snoopy’s writing), and the weather called for something warm and hearty. There was a choice of a chicken and a beef stew on the menu. Since I eat a lot of chicken at home, I decided to go with the Moroccan Beef Stew served over brown rice. Yum!! Hearty and filling – couldn’t eat it all, but maybe I should have had less bread :-)!  My friends each had lovely fresh green salads.

Then it was on to the next part of our “Moms’ Afternoon Out” (I started to title this blog entry “Ladies Afternoon Out,” but figured that I still qualify as a mom to Pounce and Shadow).

Pounce

Pounce

The main feature of the day was held at the church my friend attends.  It was great! We chatted and nibbled on chocolate; then the movie started. I laughed, chuckled, and yes, even snorted as I watched this flick with two friends. This afternoon was over too soon, but we are planning on getting together soon for a crafting afternoon.

Shadow

Shadow

Once home, my yummy lunch led to a quest to find a recipe for the beef stew so I could make it at home. This search for Moroccan Beef Stew led to a recipe from Gourmet Magazine (the bakery cafe did not have the recipe available at their web site). I found the recipe on Epicurious and you can find the recipe here.  I’m always on the look-out for new dishes to try and have added this one to my recipe box!

Interested in planning you own movie afternoon? I would definitely recommend “Moms’ Night Out” (unless you don’t like to laugh)!

Projects, Projects, Projects!

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Since I am not teaching full time this year there are more hours available to spend and knitting and crocheting (YEA!). I’ve also re-added sewing into my repertoire and am currently exploring quilting.

Just finished three sets of basic curtains for the classrooms of some of teachers at the school where I used to teach. These were great projects to practice sewing and to get to learn my new Brother sewing machine (which I love, love, love). My next set of curtains will be a bit more involved and challenging. Learning and growing!

Yesterday, I picked up a hook and started chaining. My husband, seeing what I was doing asked, “Is that another new project?” Of course I had to admit that it was. This brings the total of active projects to five, which I feel is still a manageable number.  🙂  On my hooks are two scarves, a baby blanket, and one lap robe for CUMC’s Shawl Ministry.  Plus, I am knitting a third scarf.

Knit Mystery Scarf from Yarnspirations

Knit Mystery Scarf from Yarnspirations

Two of my scarves are a Caron’s Mystery Scarf, one knitted and one crochet.  I couldn’t wait to get started, which is one reason my list of active projects is growing. The knitted scarf started with a stitch that was new for me. The written directions AND Yarnspiration’s video tutorial made the stitch easy to understand and follow. Add one more stitch to my tool box!

Knit Mystery Scarf from Yarnspirations

Knit Mystery Scarf from Yarnspirations

This was the first week, so it is definitely not too late to start. Caron’s Mystery Scarf project is both fun and skill building. Interested in starting one?

Go to http://www.yarnspirations.com/kal-cal and check out the details! The suggested yarn, Caron United, helps to provide scholarships for the children of fallen patriots. You can purchase the yarn on-line at Caron, or do what I did and wait for a sale at a local craft shop.

Crochet Mystery Scarf from Yarnspirations

Crochet Mystery Scarf from Yarnspirations

Crochet Mystery Scarf from Yarnspirations

Crochet Mystery Scarf from Yarnspirations

Before the Mystery Scarf project started I had decided to begin work on the projects listed in the book Go Crochet! Skill Builder by Ellen Gormley.  So far I’ve completed the “Honeysuckle Beret” (see photo below) . . .

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and have the “Pineapple Stolen Time Stole” on a hook. This book has written and charted instructions. I usually follow written instructions, but have found the charts very helpful for clarification. Best of all, I didn’t purchase any NEW yarn as I used what was already on hand in my stash (did I mention that I might have a yarn addiction).

Pineapple Stolen Time Scarf from Go Crochet! Skill Builder by Ellen Gormley

Pineapple Stolen Time Scarf from Go Crochet! Skill Builder by Ellen Gormley

Pineapple Stolen Time Scarf from Go Crochet! Skill Builder by Ellen Gormley

Pineapple Stolen Time Scarf from Go Crochet! Skill Builder by Ellen Gormley

My lap robe pattern is the “No Beginning Chain Granny Ripple Afghan” from stitcheryprojects.com and I’m using three color ways from my stash.

No Beginning Chain Granny Ripple Afghan pattern from stitcheryprojects.com

No Beginning Chain Granny Ripple Afghan pattern from stitcheryprojects.com

If you need help with the directions, there is a video tutorial to follow. It’s the first ripple afghan that I have ever attempted and so far it is coming along smoothly.

Last but not least is a baby blanket I’m making for a friend. I found a charming free “Granny Square Baby Blanket” pattern from daisycottagedesigns.net. Sometimes I follow a pattern exactly, and when I feel comfortable with the techniques and pattern I’ll make some changes. Because I want a larger blanket, I’ve changed the number rows for color repeats – a simple modification – and will add more rows.

Granny Square Baby Blanket pattern from daisycottagedesigns.nt

Granny Square Baby Blanket pattern from daisycottagedesigns.nt

Whew! Those are the yarn projects that I’m currently working one. When I finish one I am going to have to add one of my UFOs (unfinished objects). I think my sewing projects will need to be a separate blog post.

Happy crafting, happy life!

Crochet Mania

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Lately I’ve been busy with so many different crochet projects that I’m afraid my knitting needles are feeling neglected.

Included in the projects that I’ve completed over the summer is a colorful lap robe (made for our church’s Shawl Ministry) that used leftover skeins. For the squares I used the Dream Catcher pattern from stitch11.com.  To keep the joins open and airy like the squares, I used a rope stitch. To finish, I added a crochet edge that ended with picots.

 

Rosey Afghan made with Dream Catcher Squares from crochet11.com

Rosy Afghan made with Dream Catcher Squares from stitch11.com

 

I also tried my hand with crocheting twisted jute twine. No blisters but I did put some band-aides on my fingers for cushioning. This project was started using the Harvest Bowl pattern from the Lion Brand Yarn Design Team. As I worked up the bowl, I added some elongated stitches and slip stitches to create a gentle scallop edge.

It did not take long to finish the bowl, but boy were my fingers tired! I started the bowl with an acrylic hook, but switched to a sturdier wood one (in the same size of course).

My husband told me that I should block the bowl.  I’m not sure if you can block twine, but now I know he actually listens when I talk about projects. 🙂

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Twine bowl based on Lion Brand Harvest Bowl pattern

Interior view of twine bowl

Interior view of twine bowl

Can’t wait to add some mini-gourds for a rustic fall display.

Please let me know what you think. I’ll keep adding photos of the projects I’ve made. Some still need ends woven in before they are totally finished. With the Rosy Afghan I started weaving in ends as I go along so it is not such a huge chore at the end. It is a strategy that is working. Now I just need to catch up with some of the earlier projects. 🙂