Fifth Time is the Charm!

Okay. I admit I just pulled that number out of the air. I’m sure if I’d been counting, I’ve tried far more than five recipes for low/lower carb bread and biscuits. Some were tolerable. Some were wet and kind of gummy in the middle (all together now, “YUCK!!!”). Some were just totally underwhelming.

So mostly, I’ve stuck with one version or another of mug – aka microwave – bread. Those always seem to get done – all the way through. And once they’re toasted, buttered, and buried under a fried egg or two … or sugar free jam … it’s not too bad. It’s not what I’d call good. Maybe ‘better than nothing’ is the description I’m looking for.

Because one thing I can say with certainty is that, for me, they’re nothing like the beautiful loaf of bread above. Nope. They’re dry. They’re very eggy. And there’s no yeast. 

The recipe I made tonight tasted very eggy straight out of the oven, but was much less so after it cooled. It was surprisingly good. Enough so that I had two slices with my supper (below are two slices cut in four pieces – with three left because had to eat one 😀 ). I got the recipe from the Wonderfully Made and Dearly Loved website.

The rest of the meal is roasted pork and radishes boiled in beef broth, which I then thickened with a combination of 1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum to every 1 tablespoon oat fiber (per Briana Thomas’s recipe on her website). I LOVE this thickening mixture and will be mixing up a batch of it and keeping it handy for whenever I need gravy! It wasn’t slimy at all.

Are you still wondering about the radishes? I don’t know where I first read about using them as a potato substitute but I found the first time I used them in stew, they did taste potatoes. Or close enough that I was happy. Cooked in packaged beef broth – without the meat, carrots, and onions to help flavor them… Well, they weren’t awful, but they didn’t taste as much like a potato. Fortunately, they no longer tasted like a radish either.

But the best thing about my supper tonight? Chocolate ice cream with my version of Oreo flavored ‘skinny chocolate.’ I melted half a cup or so of refined coconut oil, added a couple of heaping cereal spoons of black cocoa (affiliate link – click here to learn more), a couple of pinches of salt, and powdered Swerve, to taste.

Honestly, I’d forgotten I bought the chocolate ice cream this time and had been looking forward to some vanilla with the chocolate. But this was soooooooo good, I’m not sorry at all. I just hope I won’t have a stomachache all night because I love Carb Smart ice cream a whole lot more than it loves me. 😀

Oh yeah. I think I’ve finally hit a happy medium and won’t be falling off the Trim Healthy Mama wagon again for a while. ’bout time!

Photo Credit (bread): Pixabay.com

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The Best Part of Waking Up?

And no, this isn’t a reference to coffee commercials. It’s a question I’ve been pondering for a few days now and I’ve been reflecting on what ‘waking up’ has meant to me through the years. And it’s meant very different things at different stages in my life.

I’ll admit I don’t remember giving it much thought until now, and in looking back, I don’t really remember having any opinions but when I was in school, if it was a weekday, I was very much not enthused. In elementary school, if it was a Saturday, I couldn’t wait to get up to watch my favorite cartoons. Beyond that, it usually meant sleeping in and then, because I was shy and a bit nerdy, reading a good book. Or a few.

There are other memories of times when I couldn’t wait to jump out of bed. The mornings we’d leave for a vacation – and my dad would make a run to the bakery because the first day of vacation meant a breakfast of donuts and rolls while driving to one lake or another.

Christmas mornings were also some of the best times. When I was growing up, my siblings and I would be up before sunrise to see what Santa brought. One year, we all slept on the floor in one room – and tied strings to our feet so if anyone tried to sneak downstairs before the rest of us, we’d all know.

Now my kids… They’re another story entirely. I would wake up long before they did, excited to see their reactions to the gifts I’d so lovingly shopped for and wrapped. And I knew they were excited about the prospect of gifts too. They just didn’t want to wake up early to get them. I’d walk around the house like I’d strapped bricks on my feet and bang cupboard doors. Eventually, my efforts would wake them and they’d stumble out to the living room – but I was still more excited than they were.

And that’s what life has been like as an adult. Sometimes, something happens and I can hardly wait to jump out of bed. Mostly though, it’s just something I have to do.

The past three years though, is making me rethink my attitude. Which isn’t bad, mind you, it’s just … kind of … blah.

But Aria is my polar opposite. Every day is an adventure. She wakes up with a sleepy smile most mornings, gives me a big hug, a, ‘G’mornin’ Gramma,’ and then she hits the floor running. Daylight is burning and she’s not wasting a minute of it.

I dread the day when she decides sleeping in is preferable to jumping out of bed.

That is the attitude I want again. The excitement. That energy! The determination to find the best in everything I do, even if it’s the adult equivalent of stacking a pile of blocks twenty times, knocking them over, and then giggling like it was the first time.

Image by kaboompics on Pixabay

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“You Do Know This is a Television Show, Don’t You?”

To the best of my knowledge, I’ve only ever joined AND participated in one group for a television show. A Million Little Things. I love that show. It’s one of very few I’ve ever loved so much I can hardly wait until each new episode – and Thursday nights will find me parked in front of my television like a kid watching their favorite cartoons.

That’s why I joined the group. And I think most people in the group are like me. We can suspend disbelief enough, get involved in the story enough, that we talk about the characters and what’s going on in their lives like they’re real people.

Not everyone, however, is able to do this, as evidenced by the regular questioning of our sanity. “You do know this is a television show, don’t you?”

Umm… Actually, I do know that. I also know if I can’t lose myself in the story and characters enough to CARE about them and what’s going on in their fictional lives, there’s not much point in turning the television on.

Maybe it’s because I’ve been a reader since I was old enough to check my first book out of a school library. And I can hardly wait for those special books. The ones that suck me in from the first page. The ones that are nearly impossible to put down. The ones I find myself reading so late at night I have to keep arching my brows in order to keep my eyelids open so I can read a few more pages. And a few more after that because I just have to know what happens next.

Do I know I’m just reading a book? That the characters and the things they’re going through aren’t real? Yes. Yes, I do. At least in my head. The thing is though, when the story is so good I totally lose myself in it, and the characters are written so well it’s like I actually know them, my heart doesn’t care if it’s real or not. I will care about the story, and I’ll care even more about the characters.

And I’m going to keep on caring. About books. About the occasional series. And I’m going to care about them like they really exist because if I can’t, what’s the point of reading or watching anything? Right?

Photo Credit: Pixabay
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Worldbuilding

It’s one word. Who knew? Not me. I just looked it up to see if I’d need a hyphen. Anyway…

In literary circles, the term is generally used in relation to sci-fi, fantasy, and paranormal stories. But that doesn’t mean it can’t refer to every day life on planet Earth. And in the case of the series I’m putting all of my writer’s block hopes in, I need to create a fictional town. A small town in northern lower Michigan. As opposed to Michigan’s Yooper-filled Upper Peninsula, which is across the Mighty Mackinaw Bridge (where Lakes Huron and Michigan meet).

 

 

I was making really good progress on that, basic plots for each book, and the beginnings of characters I hope we’ll all fall in love with. But three days after my last blog post, I wound up getting what I thought was a flu virus but sounds like it’s RSV instead. So I don’t really know what that is, nor do I care. It’s seems to be a bit worse than a cold but not as bad as the flu though so I’ll be glad to bid it goodbye. I hate being sick.

While I’m getting over it, I’m still doing some work in the plotting and character creation but not as much as I’d like. All the coughing is interrupting my sleep, and just wiping me out. So I decided the next best thing to forcing myself to think coherently would be to find some television series about small town life and do a little binge watching.

That led me to Everwood, a series I loved in the early 2000’s. For some reason I’ve never understood, I missed the last few episodes so when I found it on Hulu, I had to watch them. But now I’m on the fifteenth episode in season one. And I’m remembering that there was one thing I absolutely hated about it – and I still do.

While the show ended in 2006, I’ll put ***SPOILER ALERT*** here so if you haven’t seen it, it won’t ruin it for you. In case you ever decide to give it a whirl. I’ll tell you about the story line I hate after the trailer below…

Now for the spoiler alert. Technically, only the first season was about Colin and whenever I think of Everwood, I’ll always be sad the powers that be decided his story needed to end. I still enjoyed the rest of the series – but I really did like Colin.

***END OF SPOILER***

Everwood is a prime example of why I tend to like stories set in small towns. While everyone might not know everyone else, you know enough other residents that you almost always run into someone while dining out or shopping. And it’s really nice.

It’s that atmosphere I worked hard to add to the Coach’s Boys series. And that I’m trying to achieve with this series, only on a larger scale. The atmosphere, not the town. 

I’ll be sharing progress on the new series here, and in my newsletter. In fact, subscribers to the newsletter will likely get a few more sneak peeks than visitors to the blog. So if you want to get everything, you might want to subscribe now. Just click the link below:

Newsletter

Photo Credit: Pexels.com

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Revisiting ‘Choose Your Hard’

I first heard the phrase, ‘choose your hard,’ last fall. Technically, I probably read it. Regardless, it’s something that has often come to mind since then. Why? Because it resonated with me then – and it still does today.

What brought it to mind this week though is something else that hit home. Since becoming interested in Trim Healthy Mama (THM), I’ve become quite the fan of YouTube vlogger Lindsey Murphy. A few days ago, she posted a new video titled No One Is Doing This for You

It really hit me that if I want to get healthy and feel good again, I can’t depend on anyone else to do it for me. The night I saw it I realized some things. First, short of a miracle, my hypothyroidism is never going away. Second, that means unless I do the things I know will make me feel better, I’m always going to be exhausted. Beyond exhausted. And third, if I don’t do those things, I may never shake writer’s burnout that’s plagued me for the past couple of years.

I tried to choose my hard in September, but the constant fatigue wore my resolve down until I pretty much gave up. Watching Lindsey’s video renewed that resolve.

So I decided to make some changes. The changes that resulted in the need for the motivational music I blogged about a few days ago. Unfortunately, I still hate making meatballs so those haven’t gotten done yet. But I did do the bread and spaghetti squash. 

I did something wrong. The bread, while it looked okay – and the end pieces were really quite good – the middle was pretty disgusting.

The squash, seasoned with oil, garlic, and salt, turned out better than I expected. I couldn’t tell the difference in the spaghetti I made the next day. As long as each bite had plenty of sauce anyway. Tomorrow, I’ll use more of it for chicken Alfredo. And then I’ll freeze the rest because there’s only so much spaghetti squash I’m willing to eat in the space of a few days.

The bread made pretty awful garlic toast too!

Just making myself do those two things has given me the motivation to eat right again. Like every other time, it’s easy – as long as I make the effort to prep some foods. This time, I’m determined to keep doing it. And to stay on plan … long term.

Why? Because I miss writing. So improving my health has been moved to the top of my goals list for the year. If I don’t make it a priority, I’ll never be able to accomplish everything I want to get done over the next eleven months. And beyond. I can’t make the hypothyroidism go away – but I sure can use all the tools available to me to fight the effects of it.

And maybe, just maybe, I’ll have something new published in the next few weeks.

Photo credit: Pixabay

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Needing a Little Motivation Tonight…

Nothing motivates me much more than music. And since I still haven’t baked that spaghetti squash or made the meatballs, and I still don’t want to, I need something I can take to the kitchen with me. My computer isn’t exactly portable but the phone is – and I can get to my blog on it. That way, I can kill two birds with one stone. Do what needs to be done – and think about the series I’m working on.

Did I mention that I dreamed the entire plot of one of the stories? Yup. It woke me out of a sound sleep a few days ago – and sent me running (okay, staggering like a zombie) to my office to write it down. Why? Because it was was a really good idea. It was also too much information to text to myself. I type fifty or sixty words a minute. I text about three words a minute. It would have taken me six months to get all that in Messenger.

So, since I want to run it through my head a little more, I need help keeping my focus where I want it. More on the story than the baking. Well… I’ll focus on the baking a little bit. It’s still really cold and I can’t think of a single fireman I’d like to meet tonight. 🙂

 

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Snowmageddon + Polar Vortex = A Cold Kristy

Hello from the North Pole. I’m sorry. Michigan. Hello from Michigan – who thinks it’s the North Pole with windchills that will drop as low as thirty and forty below zero this week. Crazy, isn’t it? But at least we’ve got snow on the ground again – for the first time since November. And no matter what anyone says, a scant dusting that’s gone by the afternoon doesn’t count. Of course, the foot and a half more we might have by Wednesday does. 😀

So I’m thinking that this week is going to be a great time to bake things. Lots of things. Like the two spaghetti squash I got on sale yesterday. Like bunches and bunches of meatballs, and THM rolls, and pizza crusts, and biscuits. Like cookies for Aria, and a pork roast, and chicken.

And anything else I can think of as an excuse to get some extra heat in the house. Because old houses tend to be drafy houses and mine is no exception. But that’s okay. ‘Oven weather’ should give me ample opportunity to come up with blog photos to last a while.
And enough ‘on plan’ food so I don’t have any excuse to keep putting it off. Things get so hectic lately that it’s just been easier to have convenience foods rather than taking the time to prepare what I need to be a Trim Healthy Mama.

The weather this week, a continuation of last week (but on steroids!) is going to help me make that happen. It’s also going to make someone very, very happy. When it warms up a little next weekend so she can enjoy the snow again.

Having fun in her new winter duds earlier this week.


Another thing I’ll be doing this week, in addition to continuing to work on some outlines and character profiles, is catching up on a book series I’ve been reading. I’m not sure how it happened but I managed to read books 4, 5, 6, and 7 in Carol Moncado’s The Monarchies of Belles Montagnes series (affiliate link) … before I read books 1-3. I’m rectifying that now. This is a Christian romance series but the focus is far more on the romances.

But enough of the rambling. It’s almost two-thirty in the morning here and it’s time for me to get to bed. I hope all of you in Jayden’s path stay safe and warm. Until next time, I will leave you with this little chuckle…


(This is an old video so I don’t think the free offer at the end is still valid)

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My Instant Pot Didn’t Explode

Unfortunately, I didn’t get the Christmas story finished. More on that in my next post. I’m also not as much on the THM eating plan as I want to be either. Okay, so I’m not really on it at all. Yet. More on that in the next post too.

So much for updates. 🙂

I really had intended to do better about posting more often but the holidays – well, enough said about that. Then, there was switching everything from my nearly full computer to a newly refurbished one. And the chore of replacing my storm door. I’d say my daughter helped me with that job but it was actually the other way around. She loves doing the whole handy-woman thing as much as I do and it was cold enough, well, I didn’t argue when she wanted to remove the old frame and install the new. Mostly, I just pitched in as needed.

The other excuse for waiting so long is that I wanted to make this post about cooking my first spaghetti squash in my new Instant Pot (affiliate link) … but I was kind of nervous about using it. I don’t know why because I’ve used both stove top and electric pressure cookers many times without incident. But there was something about this small appliance that brought to mind news reports and fire trucks so I kept postponing it. Now though, I guess it’s time.

Off to the kitchen I go.

Yikes.

By the way, read to the end to find out about a promo I’m involved with for free books – AND a chance to win a $50.00 gift card!!!

So far, so good.

And the countdown begins.

Instant Pots really don’t explode.

Right?

Be back later. Once it’s done, and cooled enough to handle, I’m going to try and make a hash brown patty or two from a recipe I found on the Oh Sweet Mercy website. I also want to try and make some baked spaghetti or a spaghetti-like lasagna with what’s left, but I’ll do that in a day or so.

Quick check in.

Initial test run???

Oops.

So now it’s about half an hour later and I’m going to consider the spaghetti squash the initial, and successful, test run. It was falling apart and is currently cooling in the oven. In a bit, I’ll see if I can make a passable hash brown.

Please, please, please taste at least a little like real hash browns. Or even a little like pasta…

Not exactly impressive, are they?

The flavor, while nothing like potatoes or pasta, was better than I expected. Especially the side with the cooked (nearly burned) crumbled bacon. The tiny one without bacon – that was a hair on the burned side (but not too bad) – but – would have been better with the bacon. Still, it wasn’t half bad.

But neither turned out crispy. Not even a little bit. Because, even though the woman at the Oh Sweet Mercy website suggested cooking it without poking holes in it for venting, I chickened out and added some. A couple made some pretty big cracks in the squash so I’m guessing that was the main cause for the soggy mess.

How do I know that? When I squeezed the water out of it, it just all mushed together. There were no strands left.

Next time, no holes. In the meantime, I’ll try baking the strands at a low temperature for a while to try and dry them out. Maybe the next batch of ‘hash browns’ will be better.

Now, about that promo…

There are 24 books of varying heat levels, all free, so now is a good time to add to your library. My book, A Prince on the Run, is included. Just click on the link below to check them out. And don’t forget to enter the drawing for the gift card!

Mystery by Candlelight book promo

Editing to add that 5 of the 24 books are excerpts (they are labeled ‘preview or sample’ above the covers). The rest are complete books.

Photo credit (praying girl): Pixabay

 

 

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Merry Early Christmas – and a Recipe

First…

Well, I’ve managed to find pretty much every excuse on the face of the earth to avoid making a batch of Trim Healthy Mama approved bread or rolls. Not because I don’t want to be 100% … okay, 85% on plan, it’s just that even though some gluten free breads were much better than others, none were like ‘real’ bread. And a keto/low carb/low calorie bread? Yeah…

Still, I decided to dive in tonight and give it a try. First, I broke out my brand spanking new digital food scale, similar to this kitchen scale (affiliate link) to whip up a batch of Nili’s Baking Blend (recipe about 2 minutes and 15 seconds in). And then I decided to try this roll recipe…

 

Mixing up all of the dry ingredients

All finished.

Ready for the oven…

In all honesty, given the ‘aroma’ of the raw dough, I’m not holding out a lot of hope for the finished product. In fact, I’m imagining an eggy textured, nasty tasting glob of ‘uck.’ Yes, uck. If Aria doesn’t like something, it’s ucky. And the dough smells ucky!

I’ll be back when they’re finished baking…

And a little over an hour later, the verdict is in.

They’re fairly small. And when you ‘thump’ them to see if they’re done, which – apparently – doesn’t sound like a loaf of homemade glutenous bread, you might wonder if you could break windows or cause concussions with them.

Fortunately, they’re lighter than I first thought.

I made ten rolls (two is one serving) – and meant to take a single bite out of the first one so I could try and take a cool photo. Except I wound up eating the first one, which would be four sort of regular bites, or six dainty bites.

Are they better than I expected? Yup. Much better. At least fresh out of the oven. Do they have an eggy taste? Nope. Not at all. Texture? Slightly, but that could have been because the roll was still pretty warm and the butter made it a bit soggy. I added some sugar free grape jam to the second one and that was good too. In a while, I’ll go out and try a cold one. (*still good!)

One of the things I really like about this recipe is that the rolls don’t have a biscuit-y texture. I could make five larger rolls and use them for sandwich or hamburger buns – and they’d hold up instead of crumbling.

Next time, I’ll add a packet of rapid rise yeast. It likely won’t make them rise a bit more than they already do – and that isn’t much, but at least I’ll get the yeasty flavor that’s missing from this batch. Even without it though, they’re surprisingly good.

I don’t know what the nutritional counts are, but on the Trim Healthy Mama plan, one fifth of the recipe (in this case, two rolls), would be considered a Fuel Pull – low enough in both carbs and fat that you can enjoy them with any kind of meal, or just as a snack.

If you decide to try this – or any other Trim Healthy Mama-friendly baked goods, remember, they’re preservative free and should be stored in the refrigerator.

***Editing to add, about twelve hours later, I’m still impressed with these rolls. My kitchen is really chilly in the winter so I just left them on the plate, covered with plastic wrap – and in the oven to prevent a couple of curious cats from checking them out. Today, the texture is still good, so close to ‘real’ rolls that once I add a little yeast, it would be hard to tell the difference. Last night, the crust seemed a bit tough but now they’re just as soft and nice as can be. 

Honestly? I didn’t think it would be possible to come up with a low carb bread substitute I would like. But I am thrilled to say – I was wrong! 🙂

Second…

Merry Early Christmas!

I’m doing my very first newsletter swap with Jo Grafford. She’s got a new Christmas story out, Angel Cookie Christmas, and you can pick up your copy today by clicking on the book cover (also an affiliate link). Or read it free with your Kindle Unlimited subscription. 🙂

Willa Murray receives a gift of an angel cookie ornament with a note signed by Mrs. Claus. It bears a cryptic message about watching for an angel in disguise who will soon cross her path. With her job as a lead actress in jeopardy (since the theater owner’s niece wants the position for herself), she shrugs off the strange gift and heads home to Pinetop, Arizona for a long overdue visit with her folks.

One of the first people in town she encounters is the annoying and cocky blast from her past, Angel Castellano, who’s been bragging since age eight that he plans to marry her some day. He’s grown into a much taller and handsomer man than he had any right to. He’s also the owner and head chef of a dinner theater in desperate need of a new entertainment director for the upcoming Christmas pageant, a position he is quick to offer her. Plus he makes the world’s most amazing gingerbread cookies shaped liked angels, which he clearly is not despite his name — cookies that bear a startling resemblance to the ornament she was gifted before leaving the city.

For the first time in months, Willa begins to hope there might be something more for her to look forward to than life as a has-been actress in full-blown spinsterhood. Perhaps the elusive Mrs. Claus was right and Willa’s very own Angel has been hiding in plain sight all these years.

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Stepping Out of the Author Box

It’s not often you’ll find me writing a post like this. In the same way I don’t like people shoving their beliefs down my throat- be politics, religion, whether the toilet paper goes over or under, or whatever – I make it my policy to return the favor. That’s why I’m giving fair warning here…

If you’ve ever read Enza or A Fine Mess, you know where I stand when it comes to ‘religion.’ So, because it’s what I believe, and because Christmas is right around the corner, I’m going to share one of the most beautiful videos I’ve ever watched.

If you find religion offensive, or you believe something else, please skip today’s post. If, on the other hand, you’re okay with this subject, you might want to grab a few tissues. You might just need them. I know I do – every time I watch it. Fair warning too, I will delete/not approve any hateful comments.

In other ‘news,’ like everything else in my life, changes come hard. And with the holiday craziness – shopping, cooking, baking, etc… – I’m still working at getting back on the THM (Trim Healthy Mama) eating plan. Hopefully, in a couple of days, I’ll have a picture of the first loaf of bread I can eat with any meal – and still be on the diet. Even more hopefully, it will actually taste good. 🙂

Photo credit: Pixabay

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