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June 25, 2009

Good News, Bad News, Good News

Nothing like sandwiching a little bad news in between two helpings of good news to make the bad a little easier to swallow.

Excuse all the food references, but since my news is all Wildtree-related it seemed appropriate. We've tried a few more Wildtree products --- and since I always promise to be honest with you -- I will even share the "not gonna do that again" experience.

Good News -- Pesto & Alfredo Sauce mixed together is A-OK!

We love Wildtree's Alfredo Extraordinaire on its own. It's a nice, light Alfredo that really goes a long way when tossed with pasta (as opposed to pouring it on top). The sauce actually comes as a powder mix to which you add either heavy cream or milk and some butter. I use skim milk so it's very light -- whole milk or cream would obviously make it heartier. I've also substituted chicken broth for half the milk which makes it even lighter and healthier.

We love the Basil Pesto on its own. Unlike some pesto, this is not an overwhelming flavor -- but it's just plain good. Making it is super easy (read that, embarrassingly easy). You simply add a small amount of water to the dried herbs to hydrate them, then add Grapeseed Oil (adding Garlic Grapeseed Oil adds a great extra kick of flavor).

So what happens when you mix two great flavors together? Awesome!

I actually came up with this by chance the other night. I was making pasta, and no one felt like having red sauce. Everyone was in favor of my Alfredo recommendation, but I spoke in haste. When I grabbed the jar of Alfredo mix, I realized we didn't have quite enough for everyone, so I made what I could (as directed) then whipped up the Pesto (also as directed). I added the Pesto to the Alfredo just before tossing it in with the pasta. It was OUTSTANDING (i.e. no leftovers)! We'll definitely make that one again.

Bad News - We won't be using the Wicked Good Slow Cooker Sauce on beef again.

You have heard me rave about the Wicked Good Slow Cooker Sauce on pork and chicken. Well, yesterday I tried it on a rump roast, and based on how much was left on everyone's plates, we won't be making that again. Maybe if you're a big fan of BBQ beef you'd like it, but we all agreed that it just didn't have the same delicious flavor that we've come to enjoy on the pork & chicken. So while it's bad news for beef, it's not bad news altogether.

Good News -- Kidz Mac 'n Cheese to the Rescue

Fear not, the family didn't go hungry because they didn't like the beef. I also made a pound of penne and a double recipe of the Kidz Mac 'n Cheese sauce and they devoured every last bite. If your kids (or you) are big into Mac 'n Cheese from a box, I cannot stress how highly I recommend our Kidz Mac 'n Cheese sauce.

Here is a list of the ingredients in Wildtree's sauce mix and the nutritional guide.


INGREDIENTS: Cheddar Cheese Powder (Cheddar Cheese [pasteurized milk, salt, cheese culture, enzymes], Salt, Lactic Acid, Natural Flavors), Buttermilk Powder, Lactic Acid.

Versus Kraft:

CHEESE SAUCE MIX (WHEY, MILKFAT, MILK PROTEIN CONCENTRATE, SALT, SODIUM TRIPOLYPHOSPHATE, CONTAINS LESS THAN 2% OF CITRIC ACID, LACTIC ACID, SODIUM PHOSPHATE, CALCIUM PHOSPHATE, MILK, YELLOW 5, YELLOW 6, ENZYMES, CHEESE CULTURE).
(Click here to see Kraft's complete label)


Besides all those mystery ingredients and food dyes, notice the huge difference is the sodium content.

Wildtree: 160mg
Kraft: 580mg
Wildtree's Kidz Mac 'N Cheese is just one of many products that could make a huge difference in your family's overall health. Compare the labels on the taco seasoning, chili seasoning, etc., and you'll quickly realize why I talk so much about Wildtree in this blog.
I apologize if this was a little of a rant -- but this label comparison hit me hard last night. I hope you'll consider how Wildtree products can make it very easy for you to cut those preservatives, MSG and food dyes from your diet, and start serving healthier foods for yourself and your families.
OK -- so that's the Good News, Bad News, Good News sandwich! Gotta run -- all this food talk has made me awfully hungry. Time for lunch!

June 24, 2009

Angel Food Cake Bliss

My Aunt wrote to me yesterday to tell me about the way she used Wildtree's Strawberries and Dark Chocolate Jam to make a quick and easy dessert to bring to a friend's house. The final product sounded delicious...I figured I would share it with you!

She made an Angel Food Cake and when the cake was cooled, she warmed Wildtree's Strawberries and Dark Chocolate Jam, mixed in some fudge sauce and drizzled the warm mixture over the cake, letting it run down the sides of the cake. She refrigerated for a few hours so that the sauce could firm up a little on the cake.

To quote her, "It was so good and everyone thought it was pure genius to mix strawberries and chocolate."

As she was describing it, I couldn't help but think how delicious this would be with fresh strawberries and a dollop of fresh whipped cream. And for those of us who are trying to really restrict the preservatives, food dyes, and artificial sweeteners -- Wildtree's Rich Dark Chocolate Fudge Sauce would be the perfect, all-natural choice for the fudge sauce.

My mouth is watering just thinking about it. I will definitely be trying this one -- and will be sure to take and post photos for your viewing pleasure!!

June 22, 2009

A Dog's Welcome

I know I write a lot about my dogs -- probably too much -- but I can't help it. I just love those boys -- and it seems like they are always reminding me about the important lessons of life. Today was no exception.

Today was such a gorgeous morning -- sunny with beautiful blue skies and cotton candy clouds (that were actually white instead of the grey that we've been seeing for most of the month of June). My office window was open just enough to let in a nice cool breeze. Truly a perfect morning, and I wanted to take advantage of it. I slipped on my sneakers and headed to the park across the street for a quick walk before the heat of summer overcame the breeze.

I know I should take the dogs with me when I walk, but for many reasons, I don't.

#1 - They've never been trained to walk on leashes, so walking them can only be described as a lesson in weaving, as they dart from side to side until their leashes are a tangled mess.

#2 - We have invisible fence which they are deathly afraid of. In order to get them to come across the street with me, I'd either have to carry them, or put them in the car and drive (which seems to defeat the purpose of using a park that's out our front door).

#3 -- There are two of them and only one of me. I am strong, but let's face it, if we came across another dog, or if a bird or bunny got their interest, I would be flat out on the ground.

#4 -- There are hundreds of trees at the park -- and dogs who walk there every day. I'd never get a good walk for all the trees we'd need to sniff (and mark).

Besides, Bear and Champ have free run of our yard all day and get plenty of exercise. I don't feel too bad about leaving them behind so I can get some exercise myself.

So anyway, off I went this morning. The sun was warm on my face, but the air was still cool -- perfect walking conditions. I didn't pass a soul on the first lap and when I walked by the house there was no sign of the dogs. The second lap was a little different -- several people (some with dogs, some without) had arrived at the park --which meant my dogs would be offering their usual "welcome to the neighborhood" greeting to each person and dog who walked by.


The neighborhood welcoming committee

Sure enough, when I rounded the final bend, about 1/8 of a mile from home, I saw them -- standing at attention on our front step, watching two walkers go by. They stood there, side-by-side, their bodies were still, just scanning the park to see who would be the next passerby. I could tell the moment that Bear saw me because his fluffy tail wagged ever so slightly. Three steps closer to home, and they both saw (and recognized) me and their whole bodies started wagging in excitement. Oh how they carried on, running back and forth across the yard, and jumping up on their hind legs as if to wave to me to make sure I saw them.

From across the park I imagined what was going through their minds:

"There she is! There she is! We've missed you!!"

"Woohoo! She's back! I hope she has TREATS!!"

It didn't matter that there were other dogs walking in front of the house. For that last stretch of my walk home, they saw only me -- and carried on in such a way to make sure I saw them too!

As I crossed the street and walked into the yard, the two of them lept around like fools, running circles around me, and pouncing on each other. If dogs could skip, that's what they were doing. They were SO HAPPY to see me. What a welcome home.

They skipped beside me all the way to the back door, and waited there as I went inside to fill a bowl of water for them. I poured myself a glass of water as well, and watched the two of them lap up what I had given them, then run out to the back yard to chase each other around for a few minutes before returning to their posts in the front yard.

I went back into the house and thought about the way the dogs greeted me versus how I greet the kids or Jeff when they come home after a day of work, school or play. I am embarrassed to say that I don't remember the last time I did anything besides shout out from my office, "Hi Honey! How was your day?"

How sad is that? The people who are nearest and dearest to my heart get a shout out -- when, in fact, they should be getting a hearty dog's welcome. It took my dogs to remind me how good it makes people feel to be greeted warmly, and to be shown how much they're loved.

Oh those little puppies -- they should be counselors or philosophers with all their life lessons. Once again -- dogs just get it.


Bear's generous kisses


Silly Champ loving life!

June 18, 2009

A Wildtree Review

A few weeks ago I stumbled upon a great blog called Prissy Green. The owner, Karissa, is all about living a green and natural lifestyle. If you're looking for ways to start living a little greener, I would definitely recommend swinging by her site for some great ideas about the little ways you can make a difference. In addition to the great info she provides, Karissa also does product reviews on everything from skin care products, to cleaning supplies...and food.

I contacted her about doing a Wildtree review. I know that I can go on and on about Wildtree products, but I wanted a completely unbiased review to share with you. I also had a feeling that Wildtree's all-natural, easy-to-use products would be well aligned with her desire to "find easy ways to live a better life!" (a quote taken from her Blogger profile).

After a few emails back and forth to figure out the types of things she and her family enjoy food wise, I sent her a couple samples to make a great Italian dinner -- and have been anxiously awaiting her feedback.

So without further ado - I'm delighted to share Karissa's review. The drum roll please...

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

WildtreeReview
Wildtree was founded by a mother (Leslie Montie) whose children have medical conditions. She wanted to prepare foods that they could enjoy and yet not react. And due to being a working mother, she also needed these to be easy to prepare. She and her parents (frank and Judy) started experimenting and came up with some great ideas and knew others could benefit.

Judy and Leslie started selling their specialty blends at local fairs. Then started home parties, and now is a party plan company in 1999.To make a long story shortened. Wildtree uses unique blends of herbs and spices so that all you have to do is throw them together with fresh ingredients and shortly thereafter you have a delicious meal. They are easy to prepare and do not have the hydrogenated fats, preservatives, artificial flavors and additives in the packaged food you find in the store. Click here to read about a recent study that was covered by The Today Show that links hyperactivity with artificial food dyes and preservatives.


Lauren a sales consultant for Wildtree sent me over a three items to review. i am sad to say our camera was out of the house the night I made dinner, but we had one of the best spaghetti dinners we have had inside the home, maybe even outside. I had their Hearty Spaghetti Sauce Seasoning, and all I had to do was add crushed tomatoes. I let this simmer for about an hour, you really only need to let it simmer for 20 minutes, but you can release more flavor by allowing it to cook additional time. I used whole wheat pasta and no meat. I also added a few chopped peppers and onions. Nothing fancy, but pretty much the same routine that I use when i make spaghetti from a jar. (no meat) It was 100% easy, and 100% wonderfully delicious!


I also had the Tuscany Bread dipper blend. This was excellent. All I had to do was take the mix, add a little water, wait a couple minutes for the water to absorb, then add the oil. It called for Garlic Grapeseed oil, but I did not have grapeseed oil and neither did my healthfood store, so i added a little garlic powder and Extra Virgin Olive Oil from Tree of Life. This was a huge hit. We don't eat a lot of bread on our house, so it was a true treat. We both love bread!

I also mixed up Wildtree's Basil Pesto Sauce. it too was delicious with the bread. Craig isn't a huge fan of Pesto, but I am! I also added a little to my spaghetti. We ate like Kings this night. It was our first night of eating after the cleanse, and probably not the best meal to eat (bread) but all in all, we were very satisfied and so were our tummies.

I am anxious to try the salsa seasonings as well as the guacamole. I make both of those at home at lot, and would love to have some extra spices for a little more zing. There is also a whole section to Slow Cooker Meals and those look great! Maybe with fall rolls around I will order a couple of those and report back to you. From salad
dressings to dessert your whole meal can be simple, easy and healthy, plus
delectable!

There is also a Culinary Club you can join to earn 20% off but I will let Lauren explain that if you have more questions about it or even becoming a representative. (yes you can make money selling food!)

Click here to read the review at PrissyGreen.com

Ahh..this review is music to my ears! I'm so glad I'm not the only one who found these products to be enjoyable! Thanks Karissa (and family) for trying them out and writing such a detailed review!

Just as a quick follow up to Karissa's post. The Culinary Club that she mentioned is a discount program for online shoppers. Membership includes a 20% discount on all Wildtree purchases made through the designated club website, as well as frequent member-only specials. There is a one-time $25 fee to become a Culinary Club member, and the membership is good for life, with no minimum purchase requirements. You just need to keep an email on record with Wildtree.

During the month of June (2009), Wildtree is offering a great customer special -- spend $60 and receive a FREE Culinary Club membership. Please feel free to contact me or visit my Wildtree website for more information!

June 17, 2009

Mission Organization Update -- NOT

Remember, a few weeks ago I gave you a sneak peak at the mess that was gracing my office? Well, last week one of my friends asked me for an update on my progress -- and I cringed at the thought. The truth is, it's been pretty slow going. In fact, I pretty much cleaned up a small corner of the office, then called it a day...and I haven't thought about it since.

That confession is more than just a little embarrassing to admit -- because folks, I read your blogs. I know how crafty and creative you all are. I see what you're able to do with a can spray paint and some yard sale finds. I am dazzled by your ability to get organized and stay that way. Yes, I've seen what you do -- and I have absolutely no business writing about my "accomplishments." They are non-existent.

That said, I will give you an little update -- but I'm not posting pictures -- not yet anyway. I have:
  1. Sorted and priced two boxes of stuff for a yard sale (no idea when I'll have it...but hey, at least I'm getting prepared!!)
  2. Organized my Wildtree materials
  3. Picked up paint samples to paint the bead board in my office (I know that's not organization -- but I have to paint the wall before I can hang the pictures...and the pictures are stacked up on the floor waiting to be hung)
  4. Filled two bags of stuff for the recycle bin
  5. And ordered a new day planner!!

#5 is probably the thing I am most excited about. I am one of those people who is in constant search of the "perfect" planner. After years of searching, I've finally realized that there is not one single system that works for me -- and you know what, that's OK! I'm at peace with it.

My perfect system combines:

  • a 2-page per day planner where I keep my daily to do list, and notes from any meetings I have that day;
  • a small journal where I keep a "to do this week" list on one side, and "open items" (i.e. things that are pending or awaiting action from someone else) on the other;
  • a second journal that has my goals for the year (broken down into monthly goals)
  • and finally, my Outlook software where I have monthly task reminder set up, and I flag emails for follow up.

Like I said, it's a hodge podge system -- but the good news is, it works for me! I can't tell you how long it took me to come to terms with the fact that I was not a "one-system" girl. I've learned to spread the organizational "love" around, combining my affinity for Franklin Covey products, with my desire to be a good neighbor to the folks over at Day-Timers (they operate just a few miles from my home).

Anyhow, I was extremely excited when I went to check out the planners online, because it's time for Franklin Covey's Biggest Sale of the Year!! Lot's of great ideas for organization, and some deals on items I've been eyeing up for the past few months. So needless to say -- I may not be able to spot a yard sale find...but I know a good sale when I see one!

Lame as it may be, that's my update on mission organization. Photos will come eventually...but since we all know that patience is a virtue...I know you won't mind waiting. :)

June 15, 2009

Good Thing He's So Cute

Who would believe that something this cute...



Could make a mess this big?


If I didn't know better I'd think I needed to call in crime scene investigators - but this is just what happens when a high-energy dog comes in the house after playing in the rain for a couple hours and decides to "decorate" the mudroom by shaking off his body.

All that artistic play must have tired him out.



Good thing he's so darn cute.


June 12, 2009

The Deals Keep Getting Better

Oh my word -- this deal takes the cake (and the appetizers too!!)
Last week I emailed my friends & family to tell them about the 50% off savings at Restaurants.com....but the deals keep getting better -- check it out!

I looked at the restaurants near where my daughter is going to college to see if I could buy a couple for her to use when she is a poor college student. Limited choices but still a great little gift to send in a care package....

I wanted to pass it along to my blog buddies. It's the real deal -- just make sure you are aware of the restrictions.

EDITED: This offer goes through June 15 -- the code to get the discount is PRESENT.

Restaurant.com Weekly Promo Offer 300 x 250

An Ah Ha Moment

We all have those times in our lives – those memories that are so vivid you feel like you could just close your eyes and relive the moment. Well I'm convinced that those vivid memories stay with us because our subconscious knows that there is a valuable lesson to be learned from that experience. Sometimes we learn the lesson right as it’s happening (visions of my first accident come rushing to mind) – but other times it takes years until the lightbulb goes off and we finally realize why that memory has lingered for so long. When we’re ready to see it, I call it an “Ah ha moment” -- a realization on life. In the past year, I've had a lot of those realizations -- and today is another one of those days.

In the very truest sense, today is a day that defines me. Today is my birthday. But today, like every birthday since I was 7 years old – my thoughts aren’t about my birthday – they’re about my brother, Jim.

Let me forewarn you, you might not like this story so much – because it’s not necessarily the most uplifting. But it’s reality – and a humbling realization about life. So here we go…

Family History
I am the youngest of five children in my family – the youngest by eight years. These days that age gap isn’t necessarily a big deal…but growing up the gap seemed monumental.

I was a definite whoops. “The best mistake I ever made,” is the way my Dad describes me. Some people cringe when they hear that. I don’t -- in fact, I think it’s pure and sweet. I have never doubted that my parents love me – my Dad is just being honest, and I appreciate that. Anyhow, the point is that with anywhere from eight to eleven years between my siblings and me, even though I am part of a big family, I grew up kind of like an only child. While my brothers and sister were off working, or dating, or doing high school and college stuff – I was going to grade school. So from my little kid perspective, the world pretty much revolved around me.

The Story Goes
So flash back to my seventh birthday -- it was the last day of school, and the first night of the church Carnival. I had spent all day peeking out the classroom windows at the rides that were set up in fields behind the school, and I had convinced myself that I was going to be brave enough to go on the enormous ferris wheel with the “cages” that spun around.

As soon as my Dad got home from work, we would all head down to the Carnival and stay there until way past bedtime. I was beside myself with anticipation. It was the perfect way to spend my birthday!

I remember playing with some dolls on the floor of my bedroom when I heard a car pull into our driveway and start honking its horn like crazy. I jumped up to peer out the window to see what was going on, and I saw my Mom walk out of the house to the car. Seconds later she and my brother, Jim, came racing into the house. I didn’t think much of it at the time and went back to playing with my dolls, but then I heard my Mom’s voice coming from downstairs. She wasn’t yelling – but I could tell she was upset about something.

I made my way downstairs to see what was going on, and though I don’t remember the details exactly, I remember seeing my brother sitting at the table with a blood-stained white towel wrapped around his hand, and my Mom was hustling around the kitchen and putting ice in a bag, yelling at Jim to keep his hand in the air.

She told me I needed to go across the street where my sister, Karen, was babysitting. She had to take Jim to the hospital and I was to stay with Karen until she came home. I had no idea what was happening, and the only words that came out of my 7-year old mouth were, “What about the Carnival?”

“Not tonight,” Mom told me. Jim just looked at me and said, “Sorry Lolly.” In the blink of an eye they were pulling out of the driveway, and I walked across the street with tears in my eyes. I'm embarrassed to say, I wasn’t crying for Jim. I was seven years old, and devastated.

A few hours later Mom called from the hospital to tell us that Jim was going to be ok. He had severed his finger in a freak accident while riding his bike. He had almost lost his finger completely, but fortunately they got there quickly and the doctors were able to restore it perfectly. Mom knew it was still going to be a few hours until they got home, so she told me where I could find my birthday present, and I opened it while I was on the phone with her. It was the “Busy Lizzy” doll that I had been wishing for, and I played with it until it was time for bed.

I don’t know if we ever made it to the Carnival that year, but I remember when we picked Jim up at the hospital a day or two later. He felt so bad for “spoiling my birthday” that he asked my parents to go to the store and get a present that he could give me when we came to get him. It was a diving mask with a snorkel and flippers – and he promised me that he’d teach me how to use the snorkel as soon as he could go in the water. What a good big brother he was (and still is). When I should have been doing stuff for him, there he was thinking of me.

The Lesson
It’s been 37 years since that freak accident, but as sure as the sun rises, Jim is the very first person I think of every year on my birthday. I guess it is just one of those “moments” that is permanently etched in my memory.

But remember how I said that I think we keep the memory in our subconscious until we’re ready to learn the lesson? Well today I think I was ready -- because for the first time since that accident I cried at the memory -- but this time I didn't crying about missed Carnivals. This time I cried for all the times when I've selfishly thought that I was the center of the universe. And for the times when I should have cared more, or done more, or given more to people who had less. And mostly I cried for the people who will never know what it’s like to love and be loved in a family like mine. I am truly blessed.

It may have taken me 37 years to figure it out, but Jim, thanks for giving me the best gift ever -- a gift that no amount of money could ever buy. Now whenever you’re ready to teach me how to snorkel, I'm game.

This has nothing to do with the story...but it's probably the funniest e-card I've ever gotten for my birthday.

June 8, 2009

Garden of Weeding

I spent almost the entire day in my garden last Sunday, diligently pulling weeds and trying to restore some order to my perennial garden.



Despite the story that my pictures tell, I'm really not much of a gardener. In fact, over the years there have been many times when my husband and I have stood there and examined a plant that was growing, trying to decide if it was friend or foe to the garden. Sometimes it can be hard to tell. So hard, in fact, that I have already let full crops of weeds grow for a season, sure that eventually they’d bloom; and in the same season wondered when the daisies were going to sprout, only to realize that I had mistakenly pulled them as weeds early on in the season.

The wild violets that have slowly overtaken my garden are my most recent brown thumb blunder. I had always admired what seemed to be a very delicate violet growing along the side of a friend’s house. When she offered to divide a plant for me a few years ago, I jumped at the chance to add it to my garden. Little did I realize that these violets weren’t so delicate at all. In fact, in just a few short years, they have invaded my garden to the point that they appear to have a strangle hold on peony plants that have bloomed in utter abundance for at least two decades. These stunning peonies were the hub of my garden when we first moved here, but this year they have been reduced to just a handful of blooms. I’d like to believe that they are just tired or that perhaps the soil needs to be enriched – but when I see those little violets flourishing below the peonies, I know the soil is fine – it’s just that the violets are literally strangling the roots of my peonies.

Fortunately, I'm pretty sure that I’ll be able to uproot and transplant the peonies later this season to free them from the grasp of these invaders, and restore them to their full beauty. It will require some intensive care and attention, but I'm hopeful that it can be done. Sadly, it all could have been avoided if I had I only known that the violets were garden bullies.

Anyhow, as I worked that day in the garden, trying to distinguish the weeds from the plants, my mind drifted, and it dawned on me how similar a garden is to life. The soil -- our foundation that needs to be tended to keep it rich and fertile. The plants -- our blessings, our talents, our gifts that grow in the light of day. The water and sun – that which sustains us. And the weeds – the vices that keep us from being our best. It’s scary to realize how quickly (and sometimes unexpectedly) the weeds can invade. Like the violets, sometimes we even plant them ourselves – mistaking them for something that will enhance the garden -- only to find that over time they invade and choke out the good.

These thoughts have been weighing heavily on my mind lately. What are the plants that are essential to my garden? What are the weeds that are invading? Are there plants that need some intensive care and attention?

We all have weeds growing in our garden – heaven knows they’ll never be perfect. Our best hope is that we spot them easily, remove them quickly, and let the flowers bloom in fragrant abundance.

June 4, 2009

Going to the Birds

I work from home, and as I've mentioned before, my office is in the front of my house, overlooking a beautiful walking park across the street. My two furry friends, Bear and Champ, love to sit in the front yard during the day and watch the people (and dogs) walking by.

It's kind of funny to watch them really. When it's just people, they are unfazed. There are also a handful of dogs that they are apparently pretty cool with, because they just sit and watch them go by. But the majority of the time when they see a dog frolicking in the park they carry on like crazy -- running back and forth along the property line and barking their heads off. I'd love to know what it is about the ones that they don't bark at, that makes them so special.

Anyhow, this morning I was trying to concentrate on my work, and they would NOT stop barking. I kept trying to tune it out, but then I realized that it wasn't their typical bark that sounds like they're begging the passerby to come and play with them. No, this was a fierce and protective bark that said, "We're the masters of this property and you are not welcome here."

I got up from my desk to go peer out the window to see what the commotion was all about. A brief wave of panic overcame me as I flashed back to an armed robbery I was involved with a dozen or so years ago (another story for another time), but quickly subsided when I looked out the window and saw the cause for the doggy-hysterics.





An uninvited guest was helping himself to a bag of trash that was awaiting pickup -- and if my dogs couldn't get to the trash, they were not going to let some stranger eat it. No way, not on their watch.

I am still not sure exactly what kind of bird this is -- initially I thought a wild turkey -- but as I got closer I started thinking maybe buzzard, or [gasp] vulture. Whatever it is, it is definitely not going to win any "pretty bird" awards.

I'm sending the photo over to my former Ornithology professor, Dr. Dan Klem, at Muhlenberg College for help in identification. But if any readers want to take a guess, I will send a free sample of a Wildtree product to the first person to properly name this beauty (common name accepted).




I look forward to your feedback. In the meantime I'm heading out to clean up the debris that this beast spread around the street...and to calm down the pooches after this "hair-razing" morning!

June 3, 2009

Outsmarted

I poured a cup of coffee for myself twice this morning. Both times when I went to add the milk, I accidentally grabbed the jug of iced tea from the refrigerator door instead. Fortunately I caught myself before pouring it.

After the first pour, I made a mental note that the milk was the 2nd jug in when I opened the door. Obviously my internal post-it note system failed, so after the 2nd pour, I switched the position of the tea and milk in the fridge, to avoid making the same mistake a third time.

Alas, when I poured myself a bowl of cereal, that initial mental note sprang to mind and I reached for jug #2.

Yepper. Who knew iced tea and Total Cranberry Crunch was such a good combo? Yuck.

June 2, 2009

Chicken Delight a la Lolly

Did you ever have one of those days when your day just got totally away from you and before you knew it, it was dinnertime and you have NO CLUE what you're making for dinner? I have those days pretty frequently because I am just not the best when it comes to meal planning. After almost 20 years, I've finally realized that if I keep some basic staples in the cupboard, I can usually whip up a semi-decent dinner on the fly. And when all else fails, we always enjoy those "Breakfast for Dinner" nights.

My latest dinner on the fly was a definite hit -- and was way too good not to share. This was inspired by a meal Jeff and I have enjoyed at a local Italian restaurant -- but is adapted depending upon what goodies are "on hand."

For lack of a better name, I'll call this one Chicken Delight a la Lolly (you can't help but smile when you say that, can you?). The quantity here fed four...with few leftovers. If #5 had been with us for dinner that night, we'd have stretched it...but all been yearning for more.
Prep time: 20 minutes.

You'll Need
  • Boneless Chicken Tenderloins (I try to keep Perdue flash frozen ones on hand at all times) - I figured 3-4 tenderloins per person because they are more petite

  • Cheese Tortellini (or pasta of your choice) - family size

  • One can Whole Artichoke Hearts (in water)

  • One can Button Mushrooms (in water)

  • One jar Roasted Red Peppers (in oil)

  • 3 Tsp. Garlic Grapeseed Oil

  • 1/2 cup Wildtree Piccata Sauce
Step By Step
  1. Saute chicken tenderloins in Grapeseed Oil over medium heat until the juice runs clear, turning regularly

  2. In separate pot, bring water to boil for tortellini

  3. Drain artichoke hearts and mushrooms

  4. Remove roasted red peppers from jar, being careful to reserve oil

  5. Slice peppers lengthwise into strips

  6. When meat is finished, add roasted red peppers with oil, artichoke hearts and mushrooms

  7. Add Piccata sauce

  8. Mix gently, cover and reduce heat to simmer for 6-8 minutes.

  9. Just before you're ready to serve, cook tortellini as directed (the type I used was ready in 2 minutes).

  10. Serve chicken, vegetables and sauce over tortellini.
Wonderful when served with a tossed salad, steamed broccoli or spinach!


NOTE: I've also used marinated artichoke hearts for this recipe and added the artichokes with marinade for extra flavor.
ENJOY!
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