Thursday, August 20, 2015

Iced Coffee

Like many people, I saw this recipe for Iced Coffee and had to try it.

Also like most people, I quickly realized that I do not own an 8 quart container, and that I didn't have room in my refrigerator for 8 quarts of cold coffee.

Here's the amounts I used:

1  1/3 cups ground coffee
8 cups water

Most pitchers hold 8 cups, so you will need two - one to steep the coffee, and one to strain the coffee. I used a double layer of cheesecloth to strain.

And yes, it is that good. So easy and so worth it.

Some tips:  I mix the coffee with four cups of water first, then add four more cups of water.  I mix up the coffee before bedtime, then it is ready for me in the morning.  After I pour out all the cold brewed coffee, I scoop all the grounds out, then add a bit of fresh water to the pitcher and slowly pour the rest of the grounds out over the strained grounds.  I can usually get another cup of coffee by rinsing the pitcher and letting it slowly strain through the grounds.  This last coffee is a little bit weaker, but still so good.  Seriously good iced coffee.

When you are shopping, buy some more cheesecloth.  Some ground coffee, Extra creamer.  Try out the cold brewed method.

Friday, July 25, 2014

knitting gloves

I wrote a knitting pattern for some fingerless gloves a while back.  I've made several pairs.  It's a pretty quick pattern, and since I usually use Malabrigo yarn (my favorite), it's really good knitting.


I started this pair last year, and got sidetracked.  Last week, I decided to knit the second glove, and something bad happened.

I did not look closely at the first glove, or at my notes.

I added five rounds on the cuff to make it a bit longer.  I figured this out after I knit three rounds wrong, so I ripped those back and fixed it.

I was making excellent progress, until I noticed this.  I added an extra set of pattern rounds before the thumb.

I did not do that to the second glove. (If you look closely, you can see - they are different.)

The second glove is almost done.

Instead of ripping back all those rows, I have decided to knit two more gloves, so I will have two pairs.  One to keep, one to give away.  Luckily, I do have plenty of yarn.  And it's so pretty.

Pattern:  i carry ur heart fingerless gloves
Yarn: Malabrigo Rios ~ Color #870 Candombre

sugar cookie bars

One of my better Pinterest finds has been this recipe for Sugar Cookie Bars.  These are seriously good!  Also, they are pretty easy to make, the work time is not long, and they look like you spent a long time in the kitchen to make something lovely and tasty and homemade.

But they are really good, and this recipe does make a big batch, so plan to give some away.  I'm not kidding.  Take some to a friend or to work, because if you leave these at your house, you'll eat them all.

Recipe here:  Sugar Cookie Bars

mini chocolate donuts

It's a beautiful summer morning here.  I love the light in the kitchen.

Sam has been wanting to make donuts.  Today is the day!

After searching Pinterest for the easiest way to make these, here's what I found:

Cake Mix Donuts
1 box cake mix
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1/2 cup milk

Mix everything in a bowl (it's going to be a thick batter) and then put it all in a gallon ziplock bag.  Cut a VERY SMALL corner off.  Now go! Fill up your heated donut maker, and let the magic begin! You'll want to cook these until the are a little hard or crunchy - if they feel springy like cake, cook them longer.  The glaze works better when they are really done.

Oh yea. The glaze.

Glaze Frosting
1/4 cup milk
2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla (optional)

Mix everything in a small bowl.  You can make this thicker by adding more powdered sugar, but I like the thin glaze.  Dunk your donuts in, and let them cool a bit.  Or eat them hot.  It's your party.

Today we used a chocolate cake mix, but it really does work with any flavor, so go crazy.  But be warned - this makes a LOT of little donuts.

You're welcome.

Saturday, April 26, 2014


today we made these pancakes
we decided to make it a pajama day
and we stayed in our jammies until afternoon
best saturday :)

Sunday, March 16, 2014

green salad

romaine, spinach, cucumbers, zucchini, celery
black beans, red quinoa
mozzarella cheese

the build-your-own salad bar

taco salad

taco salad bowl
romaine & spinach
tomato, avocado, celery, corn, zucchini
black beans & quinoa
here's the build-your-own spread

Sunday, January 26, 2014

the perfect bite



brussel sprouts
from the farmer's market


oven roasted
brussel sprouts
butternut squash
& onions

Saturday, January 11, 2014

saturday morning

today's juice
green apple
~ thanks to cousin jen for the lemons, fresh from her tree ~
* tip for juicers: cranberries are not easy to juice because they fly out as soon as they hit the juicing blade.  load the entry with kale, then add a few handfuls of cranberries.  the kale keeps them from popping out.


pumpkin muffins (recipe here)

The post I wrote with the recipe for Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins has been my most popular and most commented on post.  Thank you!  To everyone who searched for this recipe, who made it, who came back and commented on the post - you really made my day.  Thanks for your thoughtfulness!

This post has also been shared without giving me credit or linking back to my original post.  Please don't do that.  I really did create this recipe.  I modified a recipe for pumpkin bread, made several batches to get the spice mixture right, and then tried several versions to get the cream cheese flavor right.  So if you share - and I'd love it to be shared - mention me and put a link back here.  Thanks!

I've made these dozens and dozens of times since I came up with the recipe in 2005.  Over the years, my kids have come to like them with and without the cream cheese.  Also, they like the cream cheese plain - no flavoring, no added sugar.  I just use a sharp knife to cut the cream cheese into small rectangular prisms, and then push them to the bottom of the middle of the muffins.  I always replace some of the oil with applesauce, and sometimes I replace some of the eggs with ground flaxseed and water.  If I have walnuts, I add them on top.  Anywhere I bring these, everyone likes them and I always get asked for the recipe.  Also, they freeze well.

Again, thanks for the follow and for the feedback.  Here is a printable version of the recipe in a 3x5 format.  One for you, and three to share!

Monday, December 30, 2013


cereal & strawberries

farmers market

(no filter)



veggies ready for juicing
oranges from our tree
 his & hers

stir fry

veggie stir fry
red bell peppers

grilled veggies

grilled veggies & rice

soup & bread

butternut squash soup

the best bread recipe ever

Merry Christmas


green & red


Time for another remodel at the musings blog.  I'm going to try and post more pictures and inspire myself to eat healthier foods.  2014 marks my ten year blogaversary.  Woohoo!  Happy New Year!

stir fry

veggie stir fry
red & yellow bell peppers
brown rice


Monday, June 10, 2013

Summer Break

First day of summer!  I am super happy to be out of school for the summer (although I still have a few comments to enter for my student's report cards . . . ).  I started my day off by getting up early and making blueberry muffins for the kiddos, who have four more days of school.  Having our schools on different schedules has been a challenge, and while August was tricky with me working and them not in school yet, June is a.w.e.s.o.m.e.  I can get the house in order in peace while they finish up school, and I can attend all their last-day-of-school festivities.

I am also looking forward to actually doing some of the things I have been pinning on Pinterest.  (I know, I know, everyone says that.)  I put together some Homemade Taco Seasoning this morning, thanks to Rachel Cooks.  I'm going to use it to make some Quinoa Taco Salads for dinner, thanks to The Yummy Life for inspiration.

Of course, summer is for lots and lots of reading.  I'm working my way through the Thursday Next books again (just finished the third one last night), and I am picking up so many more of the overlapping inside jokes this time around.  I have a stack of books to make my way through, and I'll be visiting the library more than a few times.

And the knitting.  Yes, I still do that too, just not as often as I would like.  I made a darling baby sweater and matching hat for an arrival this summer.  LOVE knitting for babies!  Everything is so DARLING!  I have a whole mess of things that I want to knit, and I can't wait for a few uninterrupted hours to sort through all my yarn and needles and line up some new projects.

The family plans on spending lots and lots of time in our lovely pool, which was just cleaned and looks brand-new.  I really think June is one of the best months for swimming, especially in the evenings.  The air cools down to just lower than the temperature of the water, and it is such a luxury to swim after dinner. (Somewhere, someone is worried that we violate the "don't swim until thirty minutes after you eat" rule.  We do.  We're fine.)

So that's the summer plans.  Who has time for cleaning or getting ready for back-to-school?  Not me!!!

Friday, April 05, 2013

Recipe Links

We've been trying new recipes over here!  Click the links below.

These buttermilk pancakes are winners. 
(this post is a work in progress.  more to come!)

With all the recipe websites, food blogs, and pinterest, I'm at a crossroads with my cookbooks - keep or toss?  There are a few standards that I will always keep - the Betty Crocker classic that I got as a wedding gift, the Barefoot Contessa cookbook that inspires me, and one or two more.  The rest?  They are dusty.  I think it's time.   What do you think?

Saturday, February 02, 2013

Foods that make you feel good

It's been awhile since I posted here.  Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram have been my main outlet for the past few months.  However, the New Year has brought a new challenge for me:  my husband wanted to do the Virgin Diet.  I'm pretty skeptical about most diets - I'm not even a faithful vegetarian! - but after hearing him talk about this, I became interested.  It's a diet to help you figure out what foods make you feel good and healthy, and what foods you may have an intolerance to and should eliminate from your diet.  I decided to give it a try, and shortly after the New Year, we begain the 21-day elimination of these 7 intolerance foods:

sugar and artificial sweeteners.

That's a pretty big list!   Soy, corn, and peanuts weren't so hard to do without, but gluten? dairy? EGGS? Those were a challenge for me!  And that last sneaky category, sugar AND artificial sweeteners.  Well, that eliminates almost everything to drink - no soda of any kind, no juice (too much sugar), no creamer for my coffee.  I started drinking green tea more, and tried almond milk in my coffee.  (By the way, no good.)  I tried hot tea for breakfast - with almond milk and no sugar - and that didn't do it for me.  By the end of week one, I caved in and said I was adding back my non-dairy creamer to start my morning with coffee!  I couldn't deal with the alternatives!

The rest of it, though, we did without.  We ate lots of fruit and vegetables.  We tried lentil chips with hummus (which we like very much).  We tried kale chips (no good) and black bean chips with guacamole (not bad).  We ate chicken and salad and homemade soups (the best was this one) and sometimes lean beef (not me, but it's allowed on the diet) and more fruit and more veggies and lots of water.  And by the end of the 21 days, I did not crave sweets like I used to!  But I really missed dairy, so we deicded to add in dairy and see what happens.  The diet has you add back one category, and notice how you feel after you eat it.  I am sorry to report that cheese and eggs are not good for me.  I feel bloated and bleh after eating them.  However, gluten is good (oh, thank God for bread!) and small amounts of sugar don't seem to make much difference (except being unhealthy, but that's another issue).  Corn - I learned that my body does not digest corn at all.  (yuck - sorry.)  So cheese and eggs and corn are off the list.  After being soda-free for over a month, I am actually happy about that.  I think the soda and artificial sweeteners are on the No List for me as well.

Although I really was skeptical about this diet, it was worth a try.  It's main goal is not to lose weight (although all my clothes are looser now) or count calories or fat, but to find what foods are really good for YOUR body.  Everyone is different, and everyone should learn what foods to avoid to feel your best, sleep your best, and LIVE your BEST.

Friday, October 12, 2012


When the girls were small, I heard Poppy tell one of her friends, "I don't see how you could ever have a favorite when there are just two:  one will always and forever be your first, the miracle baby, the one who paves the way, strikes out for adventure - the intrepid one, the one who teaches you how to do what nature intended all along - and the other, oh the other will always be your baby, your darling, the one you surprised yourself by loving just as desperately much as you loved the first."
~ from The Widower's Tale by Julia Glass

Yep, that 's it.

Monday, October 08, 2012

The New Dog

Well, the kids and Stuart won.  One morning in July, we were talking about the possibility of maybe looking for a rescue dog to adopt, and about three hours later, we brought home our new dog.  He's a darling rescue dog, about a year old, and he's a Lhasa/Shihtzu mix.  We've named him Snickers, because his coloring is exactly the color of a snickerdoodle cookie.

In the past few months, he has quickly become one of the family.  We learned that he was rescued from a home that neglected him, and we can't imagine what tradegdy would befall a family that would train a cute puppy like this guy and then neglect him.  He's so very needy - he wants to be with us all the time and to be petted frequently.  Which of course we have been trained to do!  He loves to sleep at the foot of someone's bed, and he checks in on us throughout the night.  We had some chewing issues, but I think the worst is over.

Like Stuart has said several times, we had specific criteria for any new dog, and Snickers fit all of them.  It's like he was meant to be our new dog.  Having him has helped us through the last stages of grieving for our old Simba, who we still miss, but not as sharply or painfully.  All of us at one point or another have yelled "Simba!" to Snickers, only to be painfully smacked with reality once again.  But those times are becoming fewer, and thankfully more nostalgic than painful.  I do believe that owning pets helps children deal with grief in good and healthy ways, and that the joy that we see on their faces and on the dog's face when we come home at the end of the day are completely worth it.

(Please remind me that it's worth it in fourteen years when I start the "my old dog just won't die" nonsense.  Thanks.)

PS - Yes, we do realize that the new dog looks shockingly like the old dog.  We know that.  We love that.  We won't be sad or upset if you point it out to us.  (I wish the nice lady at the dog hotel read my blog, because you can bet that she was kinda creeped out and very nervous about saying anything about the new dog looking like the old dog.  The kids and I laughed about that in the car on the way home!)

New thing I learned while making this post:  you can access your instagram photos on the internet using several different websites.  I used  It worked great!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Enchilada Day!

It's a cooking day today at our house.  That means I'm making a double batch of something good for dinner - usually lasagna or these enchiladas.  I'm using yams and making one batch with meat (for the carnivoires in the house) and one batch without.  It's acutally better as leftovers, and I freeze single portions for lunches.  Enjoy!

Black Bean & Yam Enchilada Casserole
Recipe by Sheila at musings of a
Adapted from a recipe from Vegetarian Times (December 2011)

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2-3 yams (or sweet potatoes), peeled & cubed
1 15oz can diced tomatoes with green chiles
1 jar salsa
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 15 oz can black beans, rinsed
1 cup frozen corn kernels
1 large (19 oz) or 2 small (10 oz) cans enchilada sauce (or more!)
Small corn tortillas (30 small ones)
Shredded cheese (I used 4 cups Monterey jack)
Sour cream, hot sauce, avocado, cilantro, and limes for serving

Heat olive oil in large saucepan/pot.  Add onion and sauté 5 minutes.  Add yams, tomatoes, salsa, garlic, and ½ cup water.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 30-40 minutes, until yams are soft.  Mash mixture with potato masher.  Add beans and corn and cook 5-10 minutes.

Spread sauce on the bottom of a baking pan. (I make two 8” or 9” square casseroles, adding ground beef to one of them.)  Top with tortillas (overlapping to cover completely), sauce, 1/3 of filling, cheese, sauce, tortillas, sauce, filling, etc.  End with tortillas, then sauce.  Cover.

15-20 minutes at 350 F.  Remove cover, sprinkle with cheese, and bake 5 minutes more to melt.  Let rest 10 minutes or more before serving.  Garnish with sour cream, hot sauce, avocado, cilantro, and lime wedges.

Great for potlucks and freezes well for leftovers.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


Yesterday, the kids and I picked a bowl full of tomatoes, and then peeled and crushed them to make soup.  It was fun showing them how to put the tomoatoes into boiling water for a few minutes, then cooling them in a bowl of ice water, then peeling them.  They were fascinated that the peels came off so easily.  Then we mashed them and pushed them through a strainer to get out the seeds.  Messy work.  Kids love making a mess in the kitchen.  Then I made the best homemade tomato soup.  Guess what the secret is?  Sugar.  It tasted good, but very acidic, until Stuart suggested that I add a few teaspoons of sugar.  It worked!

Today we are off to the mall.  Sally wants to shop with a friend, and Sam needs new shoes.  I don't normally shop for shoes at the mall, but we have two hours to kill, and I don't want to spend them all at GameStop.  We may go to the pet store and look at the puppies.  Maybe.

I'm planning on writing up a long post about our fantastic trip to Disney World, but I am still too busy.  Busy in summer - loving it.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

in memoriam of our dog

Our dog died this week.  It should not have been a surprise to us, because I have been trying to prepare the family for this dog's death for months now.  "He's an old dog - fifteen years!"  "That poor dog is deaf and mostly blind."  "It might be time to ask the vet if he's suffering."  Yes, I said all those things to my husband and the kids over the last few weeks.  I was trying to prepare them for what was certain to happen.

I was trying to prepare myself.

Of course, as with most things in life that you think you are ready for, we were not ready at all.  When I saw my old dog's lifeless body, I was not prepared for the depth of my grief.  I instantly started sobbing.  I sat in front of my dog's body and cried over it.  I touched his head, his body, his head again. I'm pretty sure I scared the kids.  I think I heard one of them say, "Dad, she's touching the dead dog!"  But I could not stop myself from crying and sobbing and generally falling apart.

It was awful.

However, I'm not sorry.  Simba was a great dog - a part of our family for fifteen years.  He was our first baby.  We got him when he was a puppy, before we had babies of our own. He was the first pet of both of our kids.  We have dozens of Simba stories that make us smile, dozens of pictures of that dog.  He deserved to be mourned, and mourned deeply.  After I was done falling apart, Stuart called the county and found the address where we had to take the dog's body.  (They don't want you to bury your dead pets in your yard, by the way.)  It was the quietest car trip our family has ever taken.  The people at O C Animal Care were kind and professional; each person expressed condolences before helping us.  We drove home in silence.

It's been a sad time at our house.  I found a pet brush that I hadn't thrown out, and it made me cry.  I found a coupon for dog food in my wallet when I opened it to pay for groceries, and I almost cried.  I opened the back screen door, and the sound made me remember how Simba would stick his nose in the screen and open the door and walk around the house.  It made me laugh, then cry.  Twice I have started to ask the kids if they remembered to feed the dog . . . then stopped myself.  I'm sure these moments of sadness will continue over the next few weeks.

There have been hidden blessings.  We remembered a few days before he died, we let Simba in the house and he wasn't on his leash.  This was rare, because he was starting to lose control of himself, and I kept him in the two rooms without carpeting.  He had accidents in the house almost every week in the last few months.  Anyway, he walked over to Stuart and licked his leg.  Now, Simba loved to lick people, and mostly Stuart.  Back in the day, Simba would run at full speed through the house, jump on our bed, and jump on Stuart to wake him up.  It was our favorite Saturday ritual, having the dog wake up Daddy.  But about six months ago, he stopped being able to jump on the bed.  He stopped licking us.  He didn't even like us to pet him anymore.  He was an old dog and just wanted to be left alone.  But when he walked over to Stuart and licked him that night, it was his goodbye kiss.  He knew it was time.  Looking back, I did too, but I didn't want to see it.

The emails, facebook posts, and text messages from our family and friends have been another blessing.  Everyone understands how hard it is to lose a pet.  That helps.  That heals.

As I write this, I'm crying again.  And I'm laughing at myself, because I really have no idea why or how we become so attached to our pets.  I also have no idea why we still want to have pets, knowing that their loss is certain, and that we will feel so much pain when they are gone.  This is one of the mysteries of life - it is wonderful and awful, it is joyful and painful - it is sometimes both at the same time.  You can't have one without the other.  I've been thinking of the other pets I have lost in my life - of our dog Roxy, our dog Cocoa, my sister's cat Spook, my mom's bird Pico.  I don't know if it's good theology to believe that animals go to heaven, but I believe it anyway.  Don't tell me I'm wrong, because in this area, I don't care if I'm wrong.  I believe that dogs go to heaven.  I like to imagine them up there, running around and getting in trouble and waiting for us.  I like to imagine my grandma, who was a great dog lover herself, in heaven taking care of my dogs for me until I get there.

Goodbye, Simba.  We love you so much, and we miss you so much.  I hope Grandma is giving you lots of treats, and I hope there are some of those flowers that you love to sniff up there.  We'll see you when we get there.