One of my passions is reaching out to people who can’t cook or are extremely new to cooking. Before I went to culinary school I was barely capable of feeding myself so it’s a topic that is dear to my heart. I want to create an interview series on my blog that will help encourage this audience on their journey. The topic of the interviews will be about learning to cook. Think questions about what influenced you to learn, advice you may have for getting started, etc. I think that some people will find these interviews inspirational!
I’m trying to reach out to other food bloggers right now so that I can start this series. I’m really excited about it! You do not have to be a food blogger in order to participate in this series. If you are a cook, chef, highly skilled housewife – whatever! I want to talk to you!
I’m going to be contacting bloggers that I adore, but if you see this and want in please send me an e-mail. My address is firstname.lastname@example.org
Lately I’ve been posting recipes to the main GiMK page and setting it up to be mainly a food blog again. I’ve joined a professional food blogging group that has been helping me a lot. I think my photography is improving little by little.
Recently I’ve started trying to learn Japanese again. I’ve been doing OK so far, and I think that going to college and learning about my learning styles has been extremely helpful. I used to feel really dumb and like I was beating my head against a language wall but now I am actually learning new things. Including, gasp, kanji!
My weight loss is still going really slow, but I’m still keeping at things – so that’s good.
Ah, I guess the major update right now is that I found out that I need almost $7,000 worth of dental work.
I went in for a full exam and I need a tooth extracted, a wisdom tooth extracted, a bone graft, 15 fillings, two crowns, and two root canals.
Luckily the coverage I have now will pay for the extractions and the fillings, but I have to pay for everything else myself. I was feeling pretty upset about it, because I just decided to start stashing money away to go to Japan – right? They told me to apply for financing and I didn’t think I could get approved for that. Luckily I tried to apply and I did get approved. I’m going to get everything fixed now and It will help build up my credit more. So happy!
Weight Watchers spends a lot of time talking about “why.” I always give the stock answer that I want to set a good example for my kid, I want to live a better life, and that I want to accomplish something awesome. Those are great reasons to lose weight, and these are all reasons that are dear to my heart, but lets be honest and also say that I want to enjoy life and look great doing it lmao.
I used to look down on people who set goals like losing weight by their wedding day. When we got married I purposefully ignored all that jazz because I was not about to add that kind of stress onto an already stressful event. Also, seriously – alterations are expensive.
There are a lot of celebration goals that you can decide to set for yourself when you are losing a massive amount of weight. I’ve seen some people shoot for the goal of getting a beauty procedure done, a new wardrobe, or maybe even fancier workout gear. I thought that maybe I would commit to getting a nice wardrobe.
For the past couple of months I’ve been hovering around the same weight. Gaining some, losing some, but not losing anything too additional. I don’t think it’s the elusive “plateau.” It’s me. I’m bored and I’m losing willpower. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about all the things that I am learning at meetings. How often do I learn something and forget it by the time my leader brings it up the next week? There’s a phrase that I hear mentioned on connect a lot. “Work the program like it’s your job.” OK. I get that. Let’s do this like it’s my job – but what am I getting out of it?
I know what I need to do to fix the boredom aspect of this. I’ve been eating mostly the same things for months. So I did a grocery trip this week and cooked up a weeks worth of foods that I’ve already pointed out. I’m eating the same things every day for 7 days…but they’re new things and they are going to change next week. I used the “save as meal” function inside of the app and now it takes me less than a minute to log my meals too. I purposely left about 10 points room in for snacks or things that pop up…and I’m not touching my weeklies. They’re there…but the goal is to leave them alone because when I eat my weeklies I tend to loose a lot less.
Last night I also opened up a second savings account with my bank and I titled it, “Let’s go to Japan!”
I’ve been thinking – what is the one thing that I really want to do, that I might not do, that I will absolutely regret at the end of my life?
One of those things for me, for many years, has been that I want to go and visit Japan.
When Felipe and I met we were both in Japanese at our high school. When I was older and I was going through a lot of difficult things I thought that I wanted to go live in Japan as an English teacher. I think I would have had a difficult time…but many of my friends were there doing the same thing or similar. You had to have a certain level of college education in order to get hired, and I couldn’t get into college at the time, so I wasn’t able to go. (I think there is also an age limit to those program too, I’m probably too old now.) My heart was really set on it at the time though. I made a lot of Japanese friends, was trying to learn the language, listened to nothing but Japanese music, etc. When I started learning how to cook, Japanese food was the first cuisine I learned. I really wanted to go and just start a new life.
I’m glad that I didn’t end up doing that. I think that if you are having a hard time living your life in your own country and culture, chances are it’s going to be super tough to adapt to living life in a new one. Since then a lot of things have really changed for me. I’ve been really focusing on taking care of my mental health, trying to be a better functioning member of my own family, and enjoying my life where I am already planted.
But, I still want to go to Japan!
Felipe and I have discussed it a couple of times recently, and the conversation is always about what if we could go. What if we could afford it? Oh, maybe we’ll go someday if we have the money. Wouldn’t it be nice to take Bruce? Even if it was just for a few weeks in Tokyo or something?
In my experience someday is mostly never. I always thought I would lose the weight “someday.” I’ll get this project done, “someday.” I’ll go to Japan, “someday.” In my Weight Watchers meeting I learned that if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.
So I want to start planning on going to Japan, even if it’s not a date set in stone.
Just having the account there and a token amount of starter money ($5) has got me feeling really excited! I can start saving money for our trip, and we can go once I’ve finished losing weight as a celebration and an epic vacay. We have other things we are working on (like getting a house) that come first, but having part of the trip saved up is a whole lot better than having nothing saved up and no concrete intention on going.
Just some thoughts:
Once I hit lifetime Weight Watchers becomes free and I can take the $50 a month and start putting that into the Japan trip account as well.
If I’m not an obese person it would be a whoooooooole lot more fun to check out all the fashion shops in Shibuya and Harajuku.
Having the goal of putting more money into the trip savings could be a great motivator for getting my YouTube channel going. (Other than the vague…I want to make money, lol.)
How much is Bruce gonna freak out when we take him to the Ghibli museum?
When I hit lifetime and get my passport, and have my ID picture taken, it’s going to feel like a huge accomplishment.
Here’s an easy lunch idea! Try my lemony caper shrimp with zucchini zoodles! If you haven’t been on the internet in the last uh….10 years, zoodles are basically noodles made from zucchini and other types of vegetables. They are a low-carb and low-calorie option for creating dishes, and luckily for those of us on Weight Watchers vegetables are FREE! So there points tracker! Take that! I don’t have a fancy zoodle making machine so I make linguine style zoodles with a vegetable peeler.
I’ll be honest with you though, zoodles are not super filling for me. I will serve this next with some french bread or even mix the zucchini noodles in with some real pasta for something more filling. So keep that in mind, but do try this dish out – it’s super yummy!
The cheese that I am using in this dish is from Star Market. They are locally owned and sell a lot of local products. They provide a selection of things you might not be able to find at the big national chains. If you are in the area, check them out! I have never seen this cheese before so I decided to try it. It’s very similar to feta like the label says, but I think it’s more like a cotija than a queso fresco. It’s very salty and delicious! It’s perfect for lemony caper shrimp.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Then take 3 ounces of frozen shrimp and place onto a large square of foil.
Thinly slice half of the lemon. Squeeze some of the juice from the unsliced lemon over the shrimp. Season the shrimp with dried dill, salt and pepper. Then smash the clove of garlic underneath the heel of your chefs knife and then add it to the packet. You can leave the skin on the garlic clove.
Add 1 tablespoon of capers to the packet. I like to get a full tablespoon of the capers without the brine, and then add another tablespoon of brine only to the packet. I like salty stuff and I want as much salty stuff as possible!
Fold the tin foil over the shrimp and then curl up the edges to create the packet. I usually end up with a tear somewhere so I don't vent it for steam, but I don't think you really have to worry about that. Place the packet on a baking sheet and put into the oven to cook. Cooking times will vary. Mine took a little over 30 minutes, but check your packet after 20 minutes and make sure that everything is cooked through before you create your noodles. You can speed up this process by allowing your shrimp to thaw in the fridge before cooking this dish, but I usually never remember to do that!
Next you are going to take 1 whole zucchini and wash it. Put your frying pan on the stove top and preheat it on medium heat with 1 tsp of olive oil. You don't need a lot of oil to cook this recipe, and it's very high in points, so make sure you measure it out
Use the vegetable peeler to create your zoodles. I keep the skin and the inside zoodles, but I stop at the seed filled core and don't include that.
Add the zucchini noodles to your frying pan and quickly add a squeeze of the half lemon, some salt and pepper, a few shakes of dill, and the other tablespoon of capers. Stir to quickly coat the noodles and baby sit the pan. You don't want them very cooked at all, or they will get mushy. You just want them to heat through for serving.
Putting Everything Together
Now we're going to put everything together. So get a couple of dishes, your food scale, the cheese, and all your hot ingredients together for the final assembly. I bet your ready to eat now!
Put your zucchini noodles into a bowl and crumble half the cheese over the top.
Put your shrimp on top of the noodles and then crumble the other half of the cheese on top of that.
In the bottom of the packet that the shrimp cooked in is this lovely sauce - spoon some over the top if you'd like, it's good!
Smart Points: 6 points per serving, recipe is for 1 serving.
You can reduce the points per serving easily by reducing the cheese. I calculated the cheese in this recipe as 4 points.
You should consult your physician before starting a new diet and fitness regimen. All information I've written is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions.
My son is really into the movie My Neighbor Totoro right now. So for his 3rd birthday I decided that I wanted to make him a Totoro cake.
I also made another Lightning McQueen cake for my nephew. I’ll do a separate post about that cake.
The cake is chocolate with chocolate buttercream filling. I mixed some chocolate pudding mix into the buttercream filling because I read that it can help buttercream keep a little stiffness in the heat. It seemed to have worked!
The cake is a little rich, but I think that’s due to the filling. I’d like to try some other styles of buttercream that are less sweet, but they are also less shelf stable. Might be something I can experiment on a smaller cake during the wintertime with.
I was really proud of how the cake looked. I tested a new fill and freeze method. I was able to fill the cakes and freeze them using the baking pans as a mold. This meant that I could get all the cakes ready ahead of time and I could spend more time decorating before the party. It was much more relaxed and the cake looks very straight! I used a leaf fondant cutter for all the leaves but I made all of the indentations by hand.
I had some problems with the totoro figures because I forgot that it’s better to use modeling chocolate for a large figure. Modeling chocolate is a lot stiffer.
All in all – learning more things and I feel like my cakes are starting to “get there!”
As a bonus here is a fruit platter that I also made for the party. I got the idea from this blog post. I’ve never carved a watermelon before so I was pretty happy with how it turned out! Recently I went to my nephews birthday party and my sister had made this lovely palm tree for a fruit platter out of pineapples. I thought it was really wonderful, so I got excited when I saw the idea to make a Totoro watermelon on Pinterest. All of the fruit disappeared so I think the guests liked it too.
Recently I received some Maybelline Color Sensational Vivid Matte Liquid lipstick in the mail!
Woohoo! I signed up for Influenster last year hoping to get some makeup but have gotten everything from food to parenting products instead. Not that I mind those things, mind you, but I’ve starting hoarding makeup and I want more.
I received two colors: A nude style color called Nude Thrill, and a classic red called Rebel Red.
The come in gloss style tubes with wands, but because they are liquid lipsticks they are seriously opaque. The formula is designed to layer with one layer drying more towards matte, and two layers looks increasingly pigmented and glossy.
Vivid Matte Liquid Lipstick in Rebel Red
Rebel Red is a truly classic shade! I like the look of both the thin layer and thicker layer. The formula stains quite a bit, which is great, so I like to put on a thicker layer. As I go through my day the lip wears down but I still look like I am wearing lipstick.
Vivid Matte Liquid Lipstick in Nude Flush
The Nude Flush shade is so pretty! The color is pretty similar to my natural lip shade, but wearing it give it a little boost and hydration. The color is very pigmented though, so if I layer it on too thick it can look a little um…90’s?
Another thing that I really enjoy about this formula is that it feels like butter. They are way more hydrating than a quick setting matte. So while I don’t find them to be quite as matte as other lippies, I do find the formula really enjoyable. I consider it more like a Gloss to Matte. A reversible bag if you will.
One thing that I think people might not like is the strong scent. It smells like a very heavy handed vanilla extract to me and it’s extremely sweet. I don’t particularly mind it, but I know that a lot of people are very sensitive to certain scents, or choosy about how things smell. Hopefully they will tone it down in the future because a lip product doesn’t really need a strong scent to be enjoyable.
Both shades can be found at Ulta, and likely many other retailers where Maybelline is sold. They are retailing for about $7.99.
I received both Maybelline Color Sensational Vivid Matte Liquid Lipstick shades for free, for testing purposes, through a program called Influenster. You can sign up and receive products to test too! I don’t think you have to have a blog to become an Influenster (though it helps) as long as you are willing to post reviews to your social media. Give it a shot! I actually really liked these lipsticks and I am thinking about purchasing a few more shades!
Okay ladies, or dudes, if your relationship is anything like mine then the typical fathers day gifts are NOT going to do. My husband BBQs sometimes, isn’t super into building stuff, and hasn’t worn a tie since we got married. I’ll be straight with you – I haven’t the foggiest idea what much of anything is about when it comes to this hobby. So it would be kind of hard to pick out the right miniature figures, or books, or whatever since he has so much of it and I’m not sure what is what. He’s tried to explain it to me. It’s kind of like sports, lol.
But here are some gift ideas you do NOT want to give your man:
It’s basically like buying a vacuum for mothers day.
Books about tackling your obsessive compulsive collecting problem.
I don’t want him to give me any help with tackling my Sephora problem.
Savings account pamphlets.
Cause he thinks getting a discount on more box sets counts as saving money.
THE WRONG TEAM
Look, I’m not an expert on this but your guy probably has a few favorite army types. You probably don’t want to get him a bunch of stuff from the wrong army. That’s like getting him a bunch of stuff from the Oakland Raiders if he’s a 49ers fan.
Alright, now that we got that out of the way here are some Warhammer Father’s Day gift ideas that might actually work.
COFFEE FOR THE COFFEE GOD!!!
Who doesn’t love a cheeky coffee cup?! Created by 66level on Etsy, and it’s sure to make him chuckle! $13.50 but it’s gotta ship from Poland, so make sure you give it enough time and order early!
A Sadly Ironic Wallet
Now he’ll be forced to think of what an awesome wife you are when he empties it for the millionth time at the local gaming shop.
MiniWarGaming is probably the most played thing in our house at times. Not sure how sad it is that as the non gaming person in this relationship I know most of the guys names and can match the names to their voices.
Get him a vault membership if he doesn’t have one, or renew his membership if he does. I’m not too clear on how you would do this, but don’t buy a gift certificate from the store for that because I think it’s a separate system. If he left it logged in on the computer you can probably just sneak in and handle it from there >_> (Use your shared computer powers for good – not evil!) If he’s not a member you could always just create an account and then give him the login details too.
Husbands reading this might wanna save their login to the password manager if they want this to happen just sayin JUST SAYIN.
Warhammer Hobby Essentials
Look, getting him the stuff he has to run to the gaming store 100000000000000 times a month for is going to save both of you money and hassle in the long run. This is not the same thing as the vacuum analogy.
HE NEEDS GLUE.
If you look in his hobby area you can probably figure out what colors he’s using for his army and what glue he likes and get more of that.
And yes those stupid little paint pots are FOUR F******** DOLLARS.
I sure hope our kid gets to go to college.*
*Yes, family we’re sending him to college that’s a joke. Stop judging us.
$$$ For The Gaming Store
You can go through the trouble of buying a gift card but you don’t really have to bother cause that’s where all his spare cash tends to go anyway.
BUTTER FOR THE CAKE GOD!!!
This girl knows what’s up, and she made a video about it so you can totally make this too. If you are more advanced in your cake making do a quick google image search and you will be amazed. Omg! So many crafty people out there.
This guy does a lot of illustration for the game and for other games too. If your guy is into creating other art, especially digital art, you can get him some tutorials created by the master himself!
Valhalla Retreat Vacay – I don’t see where you can buy for this year online yet. It seems they had a Kickstarter style presale and may have battle passes for sale later on. (Meaning you will have to arrange lodging in town and he can take a shuttle to play.) You might find other events that are close to you that you can buy tickets for too. Box Sets – You’re going to have to figure out what he needs, and it’s hard to be subtle if you don’t know what everything is. Books – Once again, you have to figure out what he already has and what he needs next.
This book is about how to transform your roof into a vegetable garden or a farm. It also promises to be of use to those of us who have limited growing space such as a porch or balcony, and other essential growing advice that applies no matter where you live. There is advice on best practices for growing in different environments like greenhouses and container gardens.
Who wrote it?
Annie Novak, who cofounded America’s first fully landscaped rooftop farm. She also interviews many other experts across the country, but her own knowledge of the subject really shines through. There is a lot of information I never would have considered such as how can you find out how much weight you can put on a roof? Also – how can you prevent watering the entire building. (I would probably mess this up, lol.)
How is the material presented?
The book is full color with many helpful charts, and stunning photographs. The text is presented in a column, leaving a wide margin on the outer edge of the pages. On many pages there are charts or photographs in this space, but many parts of the book leave this blank. It’s a great space for jotting down your own notes. I also liked that they created a form for assessing your own rooftop (or heck, even just your general gardening space) so that you can copy it, as many times as you need, and just fill it in.
What can you learn from this book?
If you have a rooftop space that you’d like to transform into a garden – then you can learn everything you need to know from this book. It will teach you how to plan, how to get the right permits, and how to put the garden together.
If you do not have a rooftop space and are looking for advice on other types of gardening you will still benefit from the planning advice, as well as advice on how to properly care for your plants. I liked learning about how to purchase seeds, how to properly plant them, and even how to check the soil to see if you need to water. Much of the advice in this book is written so that even the most novice gardener can start growing things in whatever space they have.
What could be improved?
I think the book is exactly as advertised and is a great resource for an even wider audience than intended. I would love to read a book written by Annie about gardening in yards and in smaller apartment type spaces. I’m still horrible at keeping plants alive (my fault entirely) but I really learned a lot!
Who would benefit from this book?
Anyone who is interested in gardening, but the person who would benefit the most is someone building a rooftop garden.
Omurice is a way to say “Omelette with Rice” in Japan, and it’s a very nostalgic dish for me. It’s one of the first dishes that I learned how to cook. I loved to watch this kids show called “Kamen Rider Kiva.” My Japanese friend thought this was really stupid, but to be fair I watch a lot of cartoons in English ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. One of the characters would ALWAYS order omurice at the cafe and squirt lots of ketchup on it. I thought ketchup on egg was kind of weird, but rice? Really? Yes! It’s so good! I learned how to prepare it and loved making it for my friends and the endless stream of Las Vegan roommates.
When I was asked to participate in Del Real’s yearly recipe competition once again this year I thought it would be fun to try a version using their fried rice, but instead of the more traditional chicken add some of their lovely pork chile verde. The recipe for the filling makes several servings, so you could serve this as a large family breakfast or store extra portions for a different day and make a few servings at a time. Rice freezes really well, btw!
1 package Del Real arroz
1 package Del Real chile verde
2 tbsp vegetable oil
8 tbsp ketchup
2 eggs per serving
Salt & pepper
Additional ketchup for serving
Preheat your pan and add 1 tbsp of vegetable oil.
Once the oil is hot add the entire package of arroz to the pan.
Next, add the entire package of chile verde and mix it into the rice. Cook until the mixture is heated through.
Add 8 tbsp of ketchup to the filling and mix well. Set the filling aside for the omelettes. Store any filling that you don’t need for later use.
Preheat a frying pan and add 1 tbsp of vegetable oil.
In a separate bowl whisk together 2 whole eggs.
Once the oil is hot add the eggs to your frying pan.
Season with salt and pepper.
When the egg is nearly cooked through add the rice filling to the center of your omelette. I find it best to go for a football shape.
Fold one side of the omelette over the egg mixture and then push the omelette towards the unfolded side of the pan. Use the outer edge of the frying pan to help you fold the second side and shape the omelette.
Flip the omelette over onto a plate.
Decorate with ketchup and enjoy!
I did a simple zig zag but you could also do a heart or a happy face if you like.
When you cook the omelettes you want a really good amount of filling. You always think that there’s no way you are going to get this thing to fold correctly, but the rice is pliable. Don’t worry, it will work out!
Also don’t worry if it cracks a little bit. Once you decorate the top of it nobody will be the wiser. If you don’t like ketchup you could always top with cheese, or sour cream, or sliced avocado. Do whatever you want, it’s your omelette!
If you want a really smooth ketchup line, don’t forget to shake all the ketchup down to the nozzle on the bottle first. I don’t think it’s really important if you are just eating at home, but if you are trying to draw something more precise it’s something to keep in mind. As you can tell, when I made this omelette the first time I had a really jagged line. When I made the second omelette for the photo’s at the top of this post the ketchup came out much smoother because I shook the bottle down.
Hopefully those additional tips help! ♥
Let me know if you try this recipe, and whether or not you liked it! It’s one of my favorite breakfasts. If you cannot find Del Real products in your area try it with leftover rice and chicken. Just fry it up with ketchup like I showed you, and don’t forget to add some veggies and onions. If you need to watch your carbs, I bet cauliflower rice would be pretty good too.
HEY GUESS WHAT!
This recipe is part of Del Real’s Blogger Recipe Challenge if you could please stop by for a sec and give me a vote I would REALLY APPRECIATE IT! 8D I think it takes two clicks, no registering or anything weird!
I made this cake for my husband’s friend. His wife asked for a cake for her baby shower. She said she wanted a bassinet, a lamb, baby blocks, the name, a duckie, and showed me a cake with the color that she liked. They asked for strawberry and lemon flavor. I think I ended up going with the lemon flavor. There were a lot of elements to this cake and it was the first time I created a cake of this size, stacked a cake, and worked with fondant. Here are some pictures of the cake in progress.
My favorite part of this cake is the lovey sheep. I created the lamb and sheep out of hand colored fondant. I created the headboards out of modeling chocolate, the mattress out of rice krispy treats, and the bedding and teddy bear out of fondant. The baby blocks were created out of rice krispy treats and fondant. The icing is all buttercream.
The hardest part about this cake is that I did not have a proper mixer for this. It was very hard because I had to use a hand mixer and work in small batches.
The biggest problem I had with this cake was that I think it came out a bit dry. I’m not sure if it’s a fault in the recipe or because I had to use a hand mixer. It may have been over mixed or over baked. The bottom tier is 14 inches so over baking it to cook the center is entirely possible. This could be alleviated with the use of a core, a metal tube placed in the center of the pan while baking.
We ended up having to deliver the cake to an address that’s different from where it ended up. I was so scared it was gonna get wrecked before the party but it made it!
Things I learned:
– Trying to cut rice krispys into perfect squares is awful, lol.
– I needed a proper mixer.
– Hand colored fondant saves money, but buying small packs of each color saves hella time.
– Buy extra butter so you don’t have to make 3 trips to the store.
– 14 inch cake pans take a crazy amount of cake batter. xD
I was really proud of the rosettes on the cake. I think that’s my favorite way to ice a cake!
The cake was used to reveal the baby’s name at the baby shower. Everyone had nice things to say about it so that was nice.