What happened? Part 2

Vancouver

Incredible view of Vancouver from our hotel room.

So what have I been up to?

Oh, lots of shit. We did a lot of traveling. Turns out there’s a lot of fun stuff to see in the West Coast. We went to Vancouver, BC and The Redwood Forest in California. We went to Lincoln City, OR and saw the Devil’s Punchbowl on the Oregon Coast. We also did a couple of trips to Seattle, we even went sailing on Puget Sound.  We took a trip to the Ape Caves in southern Washington state. I visited Florida for a work trip. Exciting for me as I had never been to the Florida and have only been on the East Coast once. All of which was incredible!

Redwood Forest

Giant trees in the forest

I did some crafting with some good results and a lot of disatrous results–jewelry, sewing, knitting, painting, dye jobs, making shoes. These may make good posts, watch out for more content!

I did a little bit of cooking with some new recipes and also jumped on the cold brew coffee bandwagon. What can I say? I am sheeple, hear me bahhhhhh. But, but, but! Best coffee ever! Can’t wait till summer so I can start making more.

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Cold Brew Coffee

 

Dealt with a bunch of medical stuff. I’m not sure how much of that I should talk about and how much I should keep to myself. On top of all that noise, I found out I have severe seasonal allergies. Haven’t stopped coughing since September.  Major sad face.

So, there ya have it. Two years in a nutshell. Mostly, the good, the bad and none of the ugly!

What happened? Part 1

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A lovely day at the coast last summer.

 

I really enjoyed writing in this space. I got to be creative in a whole new way and it was really thrilling to have readers, yes readers! And then after a solid year of posting, I disappeared. Poof! Into thin air. What happened?

Well, remember that new job I got? Back in 2012? I’m still there! Almost three years strong! Yay me! But the time that I had carved away to plan and write posts disappeared. I tried to find time elsewhere but I was kinda left with a choice: write a post or spend time with my family. Fortunately for me and unfortunately for my blog, family wins every time. I’m a piss poor time manager for my blog. I accept that. I also had this weird depression that I just could come out of. It was like driving slowly in miles and miles of fog. I could only see ahead of me a few feet but everything else was a blurry mess. Maintaining a happy face was slowing killing me on the inside. And then I had the culmination of a shit ton of medical problems. Nothing life-threatening (mostly) but I’m on the mend. I’m feeling much better mentally and physically. And I miss this. I miss blogging. I really do.

In the meantime, I haven’t stopped creating. I haven’t stopped traveling (or dreaming of traveling) and I most certainly have not stopped taking photos. I even created an Instagram account. (I know, I’m super fancy like the cool kids! My username there is Toast Hungry.)

Sooooo, I’m gonna try this again. I’m sorry I left you but I hope you come back.

The PDX Grinch

Hello everyone!

You have disappointed me in the following ways…

I know I’ve neglected you , dear readers but I hope all of you had a great Hannukah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Festivus, Winter Solstice,  New Year’s and MLK day!

I’m so sorry I haven’t been posting like I thought I would. I have to admit, I haven’t had much to say and I haven’t been crafting much. I would rather not post anything than just put up some drivel. I read a few blogs like that. They’ll disappear for weeks, sometimes months, and then a new post!  And I get so excited. Yay! New post from semi-regular blogger!  Sure, it’s frustrating as a reader but life happens and you find yourself with other things to do besides writing a post. As a blogger, I don’t want to just slap up something just to say I made a post. I think that’s a disservice to you, dear reader. Anywho…….

Christmas, holidays. Bah humbug! As I get older, I find that I’m losing all desire in celebrating the holidays. It’s all BUY! BUY! BUY! And CONSUME! It’s all so crass. Personally,  I really don’t want or need any gifts or items – I have everything I need. The one thing that I crave and deeply want more than anything is time. A little time spent talking to friends; a little time to hang out; a little time for a vacation; and most importantly, a little more time with The Husband and The Boy, together and separately.

At the same time, is it fair to ruin The Boy’s Christmas because I’m the Grinch? Not at all. I will put on a happy Christmas face for him. He asked for the usual amount of crap that sound amazing to all six-year old boys: TOYS! Nerf guns! Angry Birds Star Wars! Angry Birds Space! More toys! Games!

Despite everything, Christmas was good. I got what I’ve needed for a long time. Friends, I got a space heater! Hells. Yeah. I also did some holiday cooking! It felt really good to cook again. Since it’s just the three of us, we decided to only make enough food for the three of us. Why in the world we were making these huge spreads, I have no idea. But we had just enough food. Second post about Christmas dishes, coming soon….

Testing

Trying out new app. Don’t know if this will work but the story below really did happen.

Last week, we were on our way to pick up pizza for dinner and The Boy decided he wanted chicken wings. We told him no because the last time we let him order chicken wings, he ate about two of them and forgot about the rest. He kept pleading until he said,
“But I will eat those wings like a man!!!!

Almost Vegan Almond Joys

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It looked nothing like this. Mine were better and not gooey in the center.

Holiday work parties.  Make something that everyone will enjoy but ensure that nothing is left over. So much pressure! Hmmm, what to do?

I got invited to my old office’s holiday party. I was extremely flattered, especially since I don’t work there anymore. I miss those crazy cusses! I knew there was gonna be around fifty people so I wanted to make something that was a little different, something that didn’t need any refrigeration and could be transported easily to the site since I use mass transit. Then I got invited to my current office’s party. This one was for the whole building, four floors! I knew there was gonna be a TON of food, so I didn’t need to make a lot. Didn’t matter about refrigeration since I could store it as soon as I arrived but it had to be easily transported. Dilemma, people! What to make?

For the old office, I decided to make my Jolly Lollies. Instead of three pieces of Jolly Ranchers, I only used two. We also used a package of the tropical-flavored Jolly Ranchers. The Boy and I had a great time picking out colors/flavor combinations. We created some really cool modern-looking color blocking stripes. I got many compliments and only had about five left over.

For the new office, I remember reading about some vegan almond joys that made me drool at the sight of them. I signed up as bringing “Homemade Almond Joys (no pun intended-since that’s my name). After hunting down the recipe–I forgot to bookmark it, I found it at the Free People blog. I had all the ingredients but of course I changed a few things. I used sweetened coconut, so I couldn’t be sure the sweetening agent was vegan like the maple syrup and I used whatever chocolate I had around the house, which was a 1/2 of a bag  Ghirardelli semi-sweet chocolate chips and another 1/2 bag of Ghirardelli milk chocolate chips.

I received many compliments on this one! I only had a few left but I ended up not taking a single one home and three people asked for the recipe and one asked if I could make them again for a special occasion. I asked, “Like when?” He said, “Oh, like it being a Wednesday.” Ha!

Below, is my version of the recipe and a link to the original. Enjoy (again, no pun intended)!

Almond Coconut Chocolate Bites from the Free People Blog(with my mods)
makes 12 treats (using tiny mini muffin liners, I made about 40)
Coconut Filling:
1 1/4 cups unsweetened coconut, finely shredded (I used about two cups of sweetened coconut)
1/4 cup melted coconut oil
2 tablespoons maple syrup (or about a tablespoon if you’re using sweetened coconut)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Dark or Milk Chocolate Coating*:
10 ounces of good semi-sweet or milk chocolate chips
Plus: approximately 1/3 cup toasted almond slices (I used whole almonds)

Lightly grease a nonstick mini-muffin tin with a little coconut oil and set aside. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine all of the coconut filling ingredients and mix together until very well combined. Evenly divide up the filling between the 12 mini-muffin cups, pressing it in very tightly, making sure it is somewhat even.  (I used a 1/4 teaspoon to scoop out little portions that fit into my liners. I placed them on a pan and stuck almonds on top.) Don’t worry they won’t stick. Place the muffin pan in the freezer make sure it is sitting flat, and freeze until filling is solid, about 30-45 minutes. (I left it in overnight. I’m lazy)

Take the muffin tin with the frozen coconut mixture out of the freezer, carefully remove each coconut treat out of the pan, running a thin knife around the edge to loosen and pop them out. Place them on a parchment or wax paper lined baking sheet, if you want to place the pan back in the fridge to keep them cool while you melt the chocolate, you can do that.

Once you are ready to coat the treats with the chocolate you can carefully melt the chocolate using a double boiler setup on the stove top or you can carefully melt it in small increments in the microwave, stirring often. Turn off the heat on the stove and keep the bowl of chocolate over the pan, remove the coconut treats from the fridge. Place one coconut treat on a fork and slowly lower it into the chocolate, spoon additional chocolate over it to fully coat it. Lift the fork out and gently shake to release any of the excess chocolate.  Scrape the bottom of the fork along the side of the bowl and place on the lined baking sheet. Sprinkle a few toasted almond slices on top into the chocolate. Repeat until all of the treats are coated in chocolate and have almonds on top.  If the chocolate gets too thick, you just turn on the flame and heat slightly to melt it again. Put the tray back in the fridge and let them harden for about 45 minutes.

(I used mini muffin liners and drizzled a little chocolate in the bottom of liners. Then I placed coconut filling on top of chocolate and then drizzled chocolate on top of filling. They had a little chocolate sandwich look about them. I placed them back in the freezer overnight.)

After these set, store them in the freezer/fridge until you’re ready to serve. The chocolate will remain solid at room temperature but the coconut filling might not.

Star and Stars

Lately, I’ve been obsessed with stars. I have a neglected Pinterest board of star projects. (I have an absolute love-dislike-hate relationship with Pinterest. A post for another day). It all started with this star hair clip from the Fall 2012 Rodarte Fashion show. Beautiful, that hair clip was. I haven’t gotten around to making one but there have been a ton of DIY’s about it. In addition to wanting to make that star clip, I have two boxes full of star Christmas ornaments. I have tons of star stickers and strands of festive star garlands. I have some acrylic star buttons and a star cookie cutter for the cookies my son refuses to eat. And a set of star sheets for our bed, as well as some cheap-o star lights I bought on clearance at Ikea. I think I have some star stamps, too. What can I say, my eyes are full of stars. (Wait, is that a quote?  Can I make a poster of that?)

Anywho, the star clip got me to thinking about a quote I saw on a greeting card. It said, “We are made of stars. -Hungarian proverb”

  1. First off, I thought I bought it to save and display. Can’t find it anywhere.
  2. If you try to Google, “we are made of stars”, two things come up. That song by Moby and a quote from Carl Sagan. Not quite what I was looking for.
  3. No way, shape or form was that Hungarian. I tried all sorts of variations and nothing even remotely matched.

I’ve been looking for the source of that damn card for years now off and on, whenever I’m bored and I remember to look. Finally, last month or so, I found it! It’s actually part of a longer Serbian proverb. It’s actually a lovely sentiment.

Here’s the poster I did with the proverb:

Click photo. Right click to save or drag to desktop. Use and enjoy.

I tried to use a stock photo from NASA’s public domain of their universe photos but I couldn’t get the visuals and text to work in a way that I liked. This is not quite what I had in mind but it comes close. I might redo it in the future, haven’t decided yet. I still like it though.

Please use and enjoy! Have a spectacular weekend!
-Joy

 

Weight Watchers and Me

So I’m sure you remember me talking about losing weight as a new year’s suggestion? Well, like I said, it was a suggestion. If I actually had that as a goal it would have been epic FAIL!  I’ve been trying to get back into the running again but something isn’t clicking. I’ve had a few runs and I can’t seem to keep up the momentum and motivation. So I let a coworker talk me into Weight Watchers.

She was pretty persuasive. All she needed to do was to show me bunch of group photos of all the people that work on our floor from nearly two years ago. Now, I walk past those photos every day to get to the break room and bathroom and I had noted that there seem to be a bit of turnover because several of the faces I didn’t recognize. She took me over to the photos and said,” That’s me, 60 pounds ago.” I think my jaw dropped. Then she said, “That’s So and So on our floor and that’s Such and Such around the corner. So and So lost 30 pounds and Such and Such lost 50.“  Holy shit! I honestly did not recognize these women that I see every day. I thought they were a part of the high turnover. You know, moved on to better positions, etc.

“See This Here?” she said. “This Here lost 60 pounds. ” This Here popped up and said, “Nope, I’m at 68 pounds!”  My coworker then pointed out all the women on our floor that have all lost weight thru Weight Watchers. Only a handful of them exercise and all have lost significant amounts of weight.

Yes, I know, right? It sounds too good to be true. But I’m staring at the results right in my face and I can’t deny the facts and since our company pays for weight watchers thru our insurance, why not?

The first week was amazing. I lost six whole pounds.  I was running and eating salads and skipping meals – and constantly hungry! But I was losing weight! And then the second week happened and I gained two pounds and the third week I lost .2 pounds and have continued to gain or lose .2 pounds each week up until this week.  I’m not one for tracking my meals or eating a bunch of low-fat, no fat bullshit to substitute real calories. But I have cut out snacking and started watching my portions. Stopped eating a lot of my favorite processed foods. I try to walk as much as possible and I’m still trying to find my mojo to get back into running again.

I also only do the weigh in because the group sessions uncomfortably remind me too much of being a little kid and testifying at church. I know that you get more successful by attending the meetings (and even more successful by combining the meetings with tracking your meals) but I really don’t feel comfortable at them at all. I know, I know, I’m self-sabotaging but I lost 2.2 pounds this week! I can live with that! And I figured out a balance wherein I don’t feel hungry all the time.

I’m not endorsing Weight Watchers one way or the other. Your mileage may vary but this is what I’m trying right now. I’m not sure I’m going to sign up again. I might since it’s free but we shall see…