Coffee Creamer Simplified

I love coffee. I mean I went to college in Seattle what would you expect?

But I like my drip coffee with a little liquid creamer in it. Not so much that you can’t tell it’s coffee anymore but enough so that it’s not black.

Over the years I have bought every brand and flavor (minus hazelnut or amaretto- remember tree-nut allergy). But once I got out of the all-nighter college haze I began to think clearer about health. I saw that a lot of  creamers had ingredients I could not pronounce. And I began to question: Why? There has to be a simpler and more natural way.

So then I started buying vanilla Coffeemate Natural Bliss. The ingredients stated online are milk, cream, and sugar (supposedly that simple). But it comes in a small container and it costs more then the fake stuff (go figure).

Finally my husband asked me a very good question: “Why don’t you make your own coffee creamer? It will probably cost you a lot less”.

So I did my research and have been making my own coffee creamer for the past 3 months.

Here’s what I use: 1 % milk, Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk (fat free), and a little vanilla extract. Usually I will use half a can of condensed milk, about 7 ounces, and mix it with 7 ounces of milk.

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But I will change this up. I can add a little cinnamon, cinnamon extract, ginger, peppermint extract, or canned pumpkin and pumpkin pie spice. Then you have all you need to make your own pumpkin spice creamer, gingerbread latte, mocha, or peppermint mocha creamer. Just look at your spice rack or baking shelf and experiment!

In going with the chocolate theme of the month, I added some cocoa powder to my creamer mix. If you want to use cocoa powder heat up the powder with a little milk so it dissolves.

I store my coffee creamer in a to-go Starbucks cup giving to me by my brother and sister-in-law who live in China. It is a good reminder to pray for/ think about them.

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How do you like your coffee?

Do you use cream or sugar?

Do you have a favorite coffee creamer or flavor?

Quote

“The future is …

“The future is a blessing to be embraced; not a curse to be controlled”

This is a quote I wrote a few days ago.

As I begin my job-search here in New York I feel myself dealing with emotions of fear and hope about the future. It is hard not knowing the details of what type of job I will get or when.

But the future is not something I can control. It is not this unknown curse or beast of a burden I must bear or subdue.  

I have now, I have today and the future-well that is not mine. The future is something I can look forward to. I can choose to be grateful my life will continue beyond today.

I choose to accept/embrace the blessing that I have a future. 

What does this quote say to you?

Marriage Myth-Busting Round 2

I told you there was more where Dispelling Marriage Myths blog came from.

3. After marriage your image of your body can still be distorted by the media .

The truth is, I was highly motivated to loose weight when I thought of all the life-long pictures associated with marriage. So I worked hard and off came the stress weight of three jobs and my MA degree.

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But then I went on a honeymoon, moved, and the holidays hit. (If you need an update see  Part 3 update: life in 2012 blog).

In addition to this, I’ve been learning to cook for someone who needs about 1,000 calories more than me a day. So of course I’ve gained weight. (I’m enjoying zumba at the Y and getting back on track-but that’s another blog).

Staying healthy is a constant struggle but it’s even harder to believe that you are a beautiful/handsome individual. The media will make you think, that once you have someone in your life who will always tell/show you that you are beautiful/handsome that you will never doubt your physical attractiveness again.

Sorry, not true.

You may have one very important voice in your life reminding you of the wonderful being that you are, but if  you watch TV at all you’re going to begin to doubt it.

I don’t know about you, but I do not have a personal trainer, diet coach, makeup artist, or hairstylist.

I also don’t have the lifestyle required to be as the media would consider “beautiful”.

Think about it: their lives are not glamorous-they are torture. Who wants to have their lives micromanaged? Not me. I’d like to know that it’s my choice whether to have pizza, a salad, dessert,  another drink or a drink at all! I’d like to know I can run my errands in peace without wondering how they can be twisted into a soap opera for moms to browse at the grocery store checkout stand. I like being able to say what is on my heart and mind without my agent wondering how it’s going to effect movie offers.

Still this lifestyle is what the media-world considers a requirement to be deemed physically attractive. Unless I live without any exposure to TV,  smart phones, or a computer with internet, marriage will not change the influence media has on my body image.

No matter how often your spouse compliments you, it will never be enough to prevent the on-slaught of the media-world saying you’ll never be “_________ enough” (fill in the blank: strong, skinny, tall, toned, etc.).

The truth is our physical attractiveness is in our personal physical uniqueness, in the genetic combination of physical attributes that represent our ethnicity and family background. Weight (or any other specific physical “flaw” you obsess over) is not what measures or defines you as beautiful/ handsome.

What you are thinking about when you watch TV or look at magazines?

What are your thoughts about the character’s/actor’s physique /style vs. your own?

Believe it or not,  your mind does not shut off when the TV turns on.

And just so you know that I am not pointing fingers, I am sharing this all from personal experience. If this speaks true to you at all: it is because I does for me too.

Sorge’s: local food and wine

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This past holiday weekend (federal=holiday for us) we went to an Italian restaurant in the Gaffer District  called Sorge’s. We were given a gift card to this local family-run business by close friends of Luke. Open for 62 years, Sorge’s is known for their homemade pasta. In fact in the summer of 2011 they made it into Guinness World Records book for the world’s longest egg noodle!

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We took advantage of their weekend special: pasta and salad bar buffet with a complimentary glass of wine (hard to turn down). You never know what you are getting with a buffet, but the food was great! Since my trip to Italy I can tell when pasta or noodles come from a box or are homemade. With Sorges there was no question, I could tell they make their own pasta noodles.

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The buffet included three Italian cheese ravioli, stuffed cheese manicotti, veal and spinach cantaloni, cavatelli (similar to gnocchi), cheese and vegetable lasagna, and meatballs in meat sauce (am I making you hungry?) We were also given the option of white or burgundy house wine and served warm bread at the table with olive oil and seasoning .

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Sorges also offers a Gluten-free Menu  including an alternative pasta made with corn and several yummy gluten-free desserts.

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Their service was great, in-spite of how busy they were. And as I looked around I  saw large families enjoying a meal out, couples on dates, and friends catching up. You could tell this is a family-oriented comfortable place where people can be themselves and enjoy some great pasta.

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When we left we decided (in a belated Valentine’s day celebration) to pick up some wine to enjoy with our homemade pie. When we went into the liquor store  (wine isn’t sold in grocery stores here) we were surprised to find a large selection from local wineries. We found one of the wineries we’d given an score of 8 at the wine tasting at 2300 degrees: Bully Hill Vineyards. So we took home a bottle of their goat white and a bottle of love my goat their red wine which we had tasted before.IMG_2725IMG_2724

(The white rose was from Luke for Valentines day.)

Cheers to a more than successful local date-night out!

My new hometown

Luke and I love to explore but sometimes for cost sake it’s better to stay local. Yet in this still very winter weather, no matter how tempting, we don’t want to get stuck inside. Fortunately we live in Corning.

Spending more time close to home, I realized I haven’t blogged about my new hometown.

(As I have written before click on any picture or word/phrase in orange to see more!)

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Corning is probably known best for Corningware or Corelle. You know, all those plates and baking dishes you buy for wedding registries? (maybe even bought for mine). This is where it all got started.

Corning was first known as a lumber town because the Chemung river runs through it. When the industrial revolution hit the city became a center for the railroad. By 1868 it had become the new home for Corning Glass Works. This is why Corning’s nicknamed “Crystal City”.  Tourist come in the summer to the Corning Museum of Glass featuring modern glass art, the science behind glass, glass uses, live glass blowing demonstrations, and an extensive collection on the history of glass.

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On the same property is their glass making studio where you can sign up to make a featured item.

Ornaments Luke and I made in the glass studio in December

Ornaments Luke and I made in the glass studio in December

Or you can take one of many glass shaping/art classes at the glass making studio.  You may remember my 2300 degrees blog; that event was hosted at the museum. Corning Inc.’s offices and one their research and development facilities, which test glass products for industry, science and technology, are also in Corning.

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As much as I love history, what you will probably hear me talk most about is our historic downtown called the Gaffer District (a gaffer =a glass blower/maker). This area encompasses several blocks of glass art studios, museums, eclectic speciality shops, antique stores, bars, bakeries, and restaurants.  Many events and festivals are held here annually (some of which I  will attend in the future and share with all of you ).

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If you are a history buff and want to know about Corning’s history: Click Here!

Want to know more about the historic downtown Gaffer District? : Check it out here!

or take a look at the Gaffer District’s Facebook page: Click here!

So that is a short tour of my new hometown. What do you think?

A Vegetarian Mediterranean meal

Smells evoke memories, especially foods. They can remind you of a relative, a place you’ve lived, or a holiday. For me one such meal is lentil soup and salad. They remind me of my travels around the Mediterranean.

While I was living in Egypt I had the option to take a cooking class once a week and wish I had (I couldn’t pass up a belly dancing class instead). But lucky for me those that did take the class created a list of recipes provided by our program’s wonderful cook.

Lentil soup was one of those recipes. I’ve made it several times since my semester abroad and the smell of tomatoes, lentils, and cumin always bring me back to living in a flat in Cairo.  I make it from scratch, requiring some peeling and cutting of veggies but is well worth it (see I told you I don’t always use a box).

carrots, onion, potato, and celery leaves

carrots, onion, potato, and celery leaves

This time I chose to put it in the crockpot to slowly simmer all day. It ends up tasting more like a stew than a vegetable soup because the lentils fill you up.

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The stars of the show are the lentils

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spicing it up-we like red-pepper can you tell?

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Most nights-out on my college choir tour in Italy we ate large several course meals. But  during the day we would find lighter things to eat. One of my favorites was caprese salad: chunks of fresh mozzarella, basil, and little tart tomatoes in balsamic vinaigrette. Well my Mediterranean salad is a cross between this and a Greek salad.

I use small tart tomatoes, basil, and balsamic vinaigrette, but substitute feta cheese for the mozzarella (less cheese and less fat) and add some quartered cucumbers.

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More color in your meal=healthy. You definitely get your 5 servings of veggies for the day.

I usually add hummus and pita bread (for those who crave some carbs).

And that is my vegetarian Mediterranean meal.

Do you have foods that when you smell them evoke memories?

Do you have a favorite veggies-only dish you would like to share?

Judgement-Free Living: An Introduction

My subtitle for the category: Transcend, is: learning what it’s like to live nut-free, barley-free, and judgment free.

To transcend as my Transcend page states is:

a : to rise above or go beyond the limits of

b : to triumph over the negative or restrictive aspects of overcome

So far I have provided some yummy examples of how I choose to transcend my barley allergy. In the future I will do the same with my tree nut allergy. But I thought it was time that I explain what I meant by learning to transcend judgment, or how I plan to become judgment-free.

This is a very honest and at times vulnerable portion of my blogging, which I hope, may be encouraging to others.

I over the years have learned (for the most part) to not judge others. I humbly recognize that is not my place or role. By doing so I have opened myself up to the freedom to love, forgive, and show patience and grace to others. What I have yet to explore is how to attain the same freedom for myself.

It is true what they say that we are our own worst enemy and our harshest critic. (To be clear I’m not sure who they is. The reason I mention this is because a good friend and ex-roommate of mine always asked that question: who is they?)

Displaying patience or any of those other qualities to other people is one thing; showing them to yourself: well .  . . that is another.

This is just an introduction I will in the future delve deeper into what this portion of the transcend journey looks like. I plan to do this (as you may have guessed) through addressing ways I am learning to find freedom to attain the qualities of love, forgiveness, patience, and grace for myself.

Whether you are a self-critic or have “been there done that” I hope you find my stories, experiences, and journey to be compelling and encouraging.

Any initial thoughts on my launch of this portion of the blog?

Any words of encouragement from those whom have “been there done that”?

Overall, I would encourage you to be honest and vulnerable, like I will be-it will always be appreciated!