I have so many things to be thankful for & that I'm happy about, I can barely stand it!
* Remember when I asked for prayer re: being able to stay with our pediatrician, even though JB's job changed insurance this Jan. 1st to one they do not accept? Our prayers were heard! The entire practice just announced that as of Jan. 1st, for the FIRST time they will be accepting our new insurance!!! What a huge load off!!!
* I was called out-of-the-blue this morning to fill in teaching the Zumba class I usually take at The Gym. Class this morning was good - getting used to someone else's mic system is always interesting, esp. when you have to jump around :-P but I'm teaching it again tonight at 5:30! :-) They're taking me on now as their #1 permanent sub - yay! (Maybe they'll get interested in getting me licensed for Zumba Toning? :-))
* The weather this week was AMAZING: perfect high 70's until a little cold front came through last night. (Lows 30's, highs 60's for the next week - chilly! :-D ;-)) I had all the windows open yesterday, even upstairs. I cannot express how *THIS* kind of winter has made me a completely renewed person! Lighter, joyous, & full of hope! Seasonal affective disorder = banished!!! It is totally shocking how different I feel. I knew how much I thought I hated northern winter & then on top of Annelise's cold urticaria - but I guess I had no idea how heavily it truly weighed me down every.single.day from October-May (even as I tried to focus on enjoying everyday life) until now! I literally almost cried with thanksgiving, putting on my sandals the other day & sending Annelise to school in short sleeves w/ no coat. I am re-amazed & so grateful every day!!! Last year, anything over freezing was "great" - and THAT was part of the nasty weight on me. My body was just not made to properly handle it! This has been on my mind a lot - it was one year ago this weekend we came down to get this house! :-)
* I'm officially on the Downton Abbey bandwagon. I'm thankful for the new(-ish) [pre-owned] Wii the kids saved up for (yay for fiscal responsibility!) so that I can stream Netflix on the TV while still being able to otherwise use my laptop, and that Netflix had the first season so that I could catch up. It does, indeed, live up to the hype, and now I'm ready to start this new Season Two I've been DVRing!
* Everyone knows restaurants are my ultimate favorite, and we are about to get quite a few happy new additions around here! This area does not have a lot of the big chains that people take for granted elsewhere (not that I care much; I *hate* most chain restaurants) but THE one that we *do* actually love - Buffalo Wild Wings - is about to open here! It was a family tradition for us for a long while - watching football (ALL the Redskins games!), playing trivia, etc. No buying Sunday Ticket for us next NFL season! :-) Also, in the shopping center virtually right across the street from our house, two new places are opening: a family-friendly version of the yummy barbeque & steakhouse restaurant JB & I went to for our 9th anniversary last year, and...be still my heart...a 2nd location of my super beloved CAFE 230!!! Which will ALSO be open for SUPPER, as well as lunch, since this area is more conducive to an evening family crowd than downtown. [It's a good thing I'm doing this extra Zumba now. :-P My calories count is going to need it! ;-)] Lastly, we finally tried the new frozen yogurt place beside our Publix called Swirl. I wondered what could be so special about it? How different from TCBY? Ohh.Emm.Gee! They have 12 different (often-changing) flavors & tons of toppings, but the KEY is: you only pay for as much as you want to take by the ounce. No standard sizes - the kids can have as much or as little as I give them. I mixed triple chocolate, cookies & cream, & red velvet cupcake frozen yogurts = HEAVENLY! I can't imagine ever going back to Brusters or Maggie Moos here ever again! I LOVE FOOD TREATS!!! :-D
* I admit, I am totally in love with Pinterest. I am so thankful for the fun sharing and for the motivation to try new *EASY & HEALTHY* recipes. Two big winners this week:
Simple healthier Mac & Cheese with the pasta cooked in the milk, which forms the base for the sauce. No water, no draining:
2 cups dried whole wheat pasta
2 cups skim milk (we drink Smart Balance)
1 cup loosely packed 2% cheese
1 tsp salt (or more to taste)
1 tsp mustard
-In a small saucepan, add pasta and milk. Bring to simmer, then reduce heat to low and cook for 20 minutes, until pasta is soft, stirring frequently and ensuring milk does not boil.
-Turn heat off, add cheese & salt and stir to combine. Stir in the mustard a little at a time to taste. Cover and let stand for about 5 minutes, then stir again and serve. If not creamy enough, add milk a little at a time, and gently stir.
[If you would like to bake it at this point, place in a baking dish and top with a generous sprinkling of cheese. Bake at 375 degrees for approximately 10 minutes until cheese has melted.]
-As a side dish this makes enough for 4 people with no leftovers (can easily be doubled).
-Feel free to add broccoli, diced tomatoes or jalapeno to give the mac & cheese a little more zing and amped up flavor!
And Broccoli Cheese Bites
10 oz. package of frozen chopped broccoli, thawed and drained of liquid
1 cup of grated 2% Mexican or cheddar cheese
2 eggs (or Eggbeaters)
2/3 cup of Panko breadcrumbs, seasoned to taste (I used Tony Chachere's Original Creole Seasoning)
-Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl.
-With your hands, form small patties and lay on a parchment lined baking sheet.
Delicious! Fabulous! Praise-worthy!