Monthly Archives: January 2014

New Home!

Peace, Love, and… Real Life now has a new home! You can now find us here. There are several new posts including:

Bedroom Boob Tube

The Snoring Saga

Attitude of Gratitude

Access our new site to continue reading posts about real life. Find us on facebook, like, comment and share! In addition, you can sign up to receive posts from the new site via Email. I look forward to hearing from you soon!

Total And Complete Dinner Failure

After the post yesterday about a dish I made the night before that my family absolutely loves (Baked Frank’s Red Hot Buffalo Wings), I felt it was only appropriate to post today about the total and complete dinner fail from last night. Because as you know, this is real life, and sometimes things don’t turn out the way we planned!

First I have to state that we recently went gluten-free after discovering that gluten was the root of the majority of my gastrointestinal issues. And cooking with gluten-free ingredients is WAY different than cooking with gluten laden ones. Flours are different and have to be used in combinations, and pasta has a completely different texture and can become overdone in a matter of seconds.

After a looooong snow day with all of the kids at home, cooped up, and trying to work from home, I was ready for a quick and easy meal. So I figured that my go to pasta dish would be perfect. I had all of the ingredients on hand. Since we have gone gluten-free, I have only made this dish once. And on top of using different pasta, I began attempting to substitute the canned tomato soup that I used to use with a homemade recipe that I found on Pinterest. Being that I am substituting what I was used to using, I am still trying to figure out the amount of the homemade soup that I need to use.

Well, you have an idea of the setting. I was in the middle of trying to cook the dish when the doorbell rang. Seriously. Who could it be? No one is EVER at our door. So I answered it to find my daughter’s basketball coach dropping off her new uniform. Great, thanks! Okay, back to cooking. Well, not so much. He walked right in (tracking snow and salt all over the floor that I had just mopped) and wanted to have a lengthy conversation. I hollered to my daughter to watch the meat that was cooking, thinking that he would get the hint. By the time he headed out the door and I got back to the kitchen, the ground turkey was a little overcooked and starting to get dry. Ugh. Oh well. The soup in the dish will moisten it up, right?!

I cooked the pasta, made the soup, combined all of the ingredients and popped the dish in the oven. Great! Dinner is almost there, just 30 minutes to cook in the oven. Now back to trying to finish playing the very long game of Monopoly that I started earlier with the older kids.

The timer went off and I pulled the dish out of the oven. Hmmmm. It definitely doesn’t look the way it normally does. VERY dry looking. Apparently it needed a lot more soup that I added. I seriously wish I had taken a picture of the horrendous dish. Well, I’m sure it’s just the top and the rest will be fine. I plated the pasta and steamed broccoli and we sat down to eat.

The first bite I took I knew this wasn’t going to be a hit. Parts of the pasta were crunchy, and parts of it were chewy. My husband took one look at it and decided that it needed more sauce. So he grabbed the jar of pasta sauce that I keep on hand for when I’m in a pinch. (I usually make my own homemade spaghetti sauce.) He asked the kids if they wanted more sauce and they both responded with a resounding “Yes!”. I opted to not add sauce to my dish because to be honest, I had already calculated the calories I was eating and entered them in My Fitness Pal, and I didn’t want to have to measure it out. Pure laziness.

We began to eat. I could tell that no one was impressed. Bless my family, they all tried to be nice about it. My 9-year-old daughter said that it wasn’t that bad, but I could tell by the look on their faces that they certainly weren’t enjoying it, and neither was I. My 12-year-old son referred to the pasta as “pasta chips”. After a bit of them all trying to make me feel better about the meal I told them that they didn’t have to be nice about it, the meal was terrible and they weren’t going to hurt my feelings.  At that point it all let loose and there was no turning back. I wish this morning I could recall all of the comments that were made because we were all cracking up. At one point Lydia said that her drink was her favorite part of the meal, and then recanted and said “It’s really not that bad mom.” Nice try honey! I told them they didn’t have to eat it, they wouldn’t hurt my feelings. The kids were discussing what they could grab quickly when my daughter said “You can’t have chips for dinner Garrett”. He responded that if he wanted chips he would just eat the pasta! Gotta love my family and their honesty! But in all seriousness, the meal was terrible. And a total waste of calorie intake. Thank goodness I had gotten a good work out in! At the end of the meal my husband said something that at the time was hilarious, but for the life of me I cannot remember it this morning. When I asked him later if he recalled exactly what he said he responded that we are getting old and he can’t remember everything anymore. Great, another reality slap in the face! Neither one of us could remember.

So there you have it. Other people make the same mistakes that you do. It’s real life! Not every project or every meal turns out the way you want, especially in the midst of chaos. So what should we take away from this experience? That even though the dinner I fixed was a total disappointment, I didn’t take it personally, and we ALL got a good laugh out of it. I have to admit, sometimes I have a hard time doing that, but last night it was all pretty funny, especially after a very long day. And it would sound even funnier today if only I could remember the things my husband said. As you will come to know him, he is never serious about anything. He jokes around so much that the kids don’t believe anything he says anymore. I often say to him “Can we just have a serious conversation for once!” So next time he says something hilarious, I am going to grab some paper and make a note, because clearly I am getting too old to rely on my memory. Or his for that matter!

Welcome to real life. Dinner failures, reality slaps in the face, and all of it!

Baked Frank’s Red Hot Buffalo Wings

Yesterday I thought that it would be a great day for some buffalo wings, given the frigid temperatures and snow outside. Our family typically enjoys buffalo wings on Sunday evenings for football, unfortunately all of the games were earlier in the day. But what’s to say that we couldn’t enjoy them anyway! I thought I would share this since Superbowl is around the corner, and those of you that are trying to watch what you eat may prefer a healthier version. It’s real life right? Of course everyone enjoys something like wings every once in a while!

If you have been following my posts I’m sure that you are asking yourself “If she just started a diet how can she be eating wings?!” Well, it’s all in how you plan your day and the choices you make throughout the day. I knew in the morning that I was going to be consuming a considerable amount of calories that evening. So, I made sure to get enough exercise in so that I could increase my calorie intake for the day. I also made good, healthy, low calorie choices throughout the day that would fill me up but not ruin my calorie intake, like fruits and vegetables. In addition, you would be surprised at the calories that are in skin on chicken when you bake it and don’t fry it in oil. This recipe makes wings much better than the normal fat full fried versions, and the use of Frank’s Red Hot Wings sauce has butter flavoring in it so that you don’t have to add all of the calories from butter.

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I use the ingredients shown above. My family eats A LOT of wings, so we use three packages that contain 20 wings/drum sticks. Frank’s Red Hot Wings sauce has a great flavor, and reduces the fat and calories because you don’t need to add butter to a homemade recipe. Cornstarch is a key ingredient as it helps the skin to crisp up without the addition of oil or butter.

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Preheat your oven to 500 degrees. High temperature is key to the wings coming out crispy without oil. Place about 15 wings in a container with a lid, or a sealable storage bag. Sprinkle about a Tbsp. cornstarch over the wings. Add another 15 wings and sprinkle more cornstarch on them. Cover the container with a lid or seal the bag and shake until all wings are covered.

Line baking trays with foil. Given that I bake 60 wings at a time, I use two trays. Place the cornstarch coated wings skin-side down on the lined baking trays. The skin will get crisper when directly on the foil than facing up. I have found that my oven doesn’t seem to heat evenly when using more than one rack, the bottom gets hotter than the top causing the bottom set to burn. Therefore I rotate my trays every 10 minutes from top rack to bottom rack. You may not need to do this if your oven heats evenly. Put the trays in the oven for a total of 20 minutes.

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The kitchen tools shown above are a great help when making this recipe. I found the nylon covered tongs at Wal-Mart. Tongs are much easier to remove the wings from the tray with, especially once they start sticking some. These particular tongs allow you to scrape and scoop them off the tray. When using a nylon basting brush like this one, I don’t get freaked out like I do when using a hair based brush on raw chicken!

Remove half a tray of wings and place them in a container with a lid. Drizzle Frank’s Red Hot Wings sauce over them. Place the other half a tray in the container and drizzle with more sauce. Place the lid on the container and shake until all wings are evenly covered. My 9-year-old daughter loves to help with this part! The baking tray will likely contain quite a bit of drippings. Drain all of the drippings off so that the wings will get crispy. Spray the tray with Canola Oil spray. Place the sauce covered wings on the tray. Place the wings back in the oven for another 20 minutes.

My husband prefers his wings spicier than the kids and I do, so after the second 20 minutes of baking I remove his and cover with a second round of sauce. Make sure to place the wings skin side down again on the tray. Bake the wings for another 10-20 minutes until the skin is nice and crispy.

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This is what the finished wings look like! Yum! Yes, this is the amount that I bake for two adults and two children to eat. There are 60 wings here. My husband can take down an entire tray on his own, that’s 30 wings! When we have wings, we don’t add a lot of side dishes with it. We just serve them with carrot and celery sticks. I ate several carrot and celery sticks to avoid eating more wings.

 

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My husband prefers to dip his wings in Ranch dressing. He likes the Bolthouse Farms Classic Ranch Yogurt dressing as it has fewer calories than regular Ranch dressing. I have never been one to add a lot of condiments to my food, and I don’t care for Ranch dressing at all, so I eat mine plain.

This recipe is certainly a labor of love, as it takes over an hour to prepare, and for me, rotating trays every 10 minutes means that I don’t get to really leave the kitchen. However, I promise you that you won’t be disappointed. You can’t even tell that these are baked and not fried if you get them crispy enough. It took me awhile to achieve adequate crispness, so don’t forget cornstarch and to have your oven at a high temperature.

I hope that your family enjoys this recipe as much as mine does. Happy eating!

 

 

Here’s To Health!

As I sit here drinking my coffee, every muscle in my body feeling sore, I reflect on the past couple of days that got me to this point.

It’s a new year. Happy New Year! With the new year comes an opportunity for a new beginning, fresh start, new goals, and resolutions. I have never been one to make resolutions. Or goals for that matter. I know, if you don’t set a goal you can’t reach it. But that’s a discussion for another time. Back to resolutions. I don’t make them. I never have. But the events of New Year’s Eve made me think about it. Really think about it.

We had plans to go out to dinner with friends. I became very frustrated trying to find something nice to wear, that fit. This has been an issue the past year since the birth of my third child. I still have a few remaining pounds left, and most importantly, my body shape has changed. You know, the hips and belly pooch! Don’t pretend like you don’t know. I have tried to eat pretty healthy, and attempted to get exercise in, but real life seems to get in the way. I even cut out gluten (for other reasons, but reducing the carbs should have helped!). I tried on outfit after outfit, only becoming more frustrated. It was 6:00 pm. We were supposed to meet our friends for dinner at 8:00 pm. I still had to finish getting ready. My husband suggested that I go buy something to wear so I would feel better about myself, since I rarely buy things for myself. At first I resisted, feeling guilty, and knowing that I would be pressed for time. But then I decided he was right. So at 6:15 I headed out. My go to stores were closed because, well, it was New Year’s Eve. So I headed to the mall and quickly ran into one store, which I left empty-handed. Sigh. Let’s face it. Buying new clothes isn’t really the solution. Getting back in shape and losing the remaining weight is the solution. So I headed back home and ended up in an outfit that was too tight, which I threw a long cardigan sweater over. Ugh. Needless to say, I didn’t feel great about myself, and I was kind of depressed, especially when I saw all of the young girls in their cute little outfits. On top of not feeling good in the outfit I was wearing, I have to say, I felt old! We rarely go out, and when we were out that night, I quickly realized why. It’s just not our thing! We aren’t in our early 30’s anymore! Reality slapped me in the face.

That’s it. Enough of this. It’s time to do something about it. I have to make time in real life for myself. And I’m not one to sit around on the couch. But between having two older children involved in sports with games and practices multiples days and nights a week, running a business, working part-time, keeping up with daily life, and doing it all while taking care of a one-year old at the same time, there just never seems to be enough time. But I know that I have to make time for it, for myself and for my family. You know, when momma’s happy everyone is happy?! And in all seriousness, I have always enjoyed working out. Not only does it burn calories and tone muscle, but it gives you more energy and a sense of accomplishment that you took the time to do something for yourself. As a mom, that is extremely important. We often put ourselves back seat to care for the rest of the family. I know it, I am completely guilty of doing that all too often.
Low and behold, on New Year’s Day a friend of mine and fellow blogger, Nicole Diehl from http://heresthediehl.wordpress.com/ created a post about her year-long commitment to diet with a friend. After reading her post, it gave me the encouragement I needed to make this happen. If you are interested in dieting or getting in shape, I encourage you to read her last two posts, they are both full of some great information and encouragement. Both her and her friend are mother’s of young children, and they persevered and committed to it for the entire year. Nicole lost 29 lbs. and her friend Kelli lost 39 lbs. Way to go girls! That’s an awesome accomplishment that you should be really, really proud of. I hope that I can be as committed as they were to getting back in shape. But let’s be honest, this is real life! Only time will tell.

So, with a few suggestions that Nicole made for apps and workout routines to follow, as well as some very helpful pointers, two days ago I began my journey, working out and dieting. (If you use My Fitness Pal, find me and friend me, I would love to have a community to go through this together! My screen name is lleclair75.) And now we are full circle to why I am sitting here on the couch, every muscle in my body sore from the past two days of working out. So, although I don’t make resolutions, I do plan to diet and exercise so that I can get back in shape, and feel better. So here’s to the new year, to new beginnings, or resolutions if you make them. (I’m toasting you now with my cup of coffee.) And now, I’m off to get today’s work out in. Real life, step aside!

What’s In A Name?

So what is in a name? How do we come up with names? Something we have heard that we like, someone we are fond of, or sometimes something we make up. When deciding on the name for my blog, I thought about my life, and what I want to share or accomplish through this blog. Therein the blog name was born.

Peace

My 9-year-old daughter is all about peace. Okay, maybe not peace with her brother, maybe peace signs. They are on everything, her clothing, her gloves and hat, the décor in her room. They are usually bright and colorful. Looking at them seems to evoke a feeling of happiness. So that got me to thinking. To some degree or another we all strive for peace in our lives. In the 60’s it was all about peace not war. We could still use more peace and less war. But in our personal lives, we strive for peace in our relationships, peace in our family, peace in our work life. And sometimes, just sometimes, we just want a little peace and quiet!

Love

We all have love in our lives to some degree, and we all desire to love and be loved. We love our spouse, our parents, our children. Some of us love chocolate, sunshine, fall days, clean sheets, a quiet house. Love. It’s in our lives in many different ways. We give it, and we receive it. As I type this post, my one year old is sitting next to me, with his arms wrapped around me hugging me. Love. Until of course he turns around and starts typing on my keyboard!

Real Life

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This is my family. With all our flaws. I love each of them dearly with all of my heart. Some days are full of peace, and some days, well, you know the story. It’s real life! In the social media society, we all like to portray a certain side of our life. Seriously. Who wants to show the not so fun times, the projects that fail, and the bad days? We have our real life, and well, our social media life. I don’t claim to be perfect. I’m not the perfect mother or wife. In all honestly, none of us are. But perfect is subjective. We all have our own idea of what perfect is. My life isn’t perfect, but it’s the life I live. So with that, I will be sharing about real life! The ups, the downs, the good times and the bad. The things we do, the ways in which I try to keep our family healthy. The trials and errors. Because that’s what life is. It’s like the projects and recipes that we try from Pinterest. They look great on Pinterest, but sometimes, they don’t always turn out the way we planned or hoped. Real life.

My real life is hectic, busy, and many times chaotic keeping up with three children in different phases of life. Owning a business with my husband. Working part-time from home. So how on earth do I have time to create a blog? Well, it’s something that I am doing for myself. For many years I have toyed around with the idea, I have just never made the time for it. Writing is my passion. It is my outlet. When I put pen to paper, or the screen in this case, it lets my creative energy flow. It’s an outlet. Writing to me is a way to free my soul. Writing has always been my passion. I have a degree in Communication. But then life happened. And I finally was lucky enough to find a job through which I can utilize my passion. But I am a Technical Writer. And it’s, well, technical. It isn’t fun or creative. But nonetheless, I enjoy it. So this blog was born out of my desire for a creative outlet in which I can express my words, the way I want to. My hope is that through this blog a few people will gain a good idea, some new knowledge, or just get a chuckle. So here it is. Welcome to my little piece of the real world! Thanks for joining me!