Posted in Foodie Pen Pal

Foodie Pen Pal – January

This is my third time participating in this program. I love it because I get to buy for one person and another person buys for me. It’s a challenge to buy for someone who I’ve never met. Getting a box in the mail makes me feel special and excited.  

This month I sent it to Nicky. My box was sent from Alex, who lives in Iowa. She did a great job because not only did I enjoy the goodies, but so has my family.  

Here’s a picture of the goodies I received.


My husband and I went away for a quick overnight trip the day I received the box. We took the Popchips and yogurt raisins with us. While we were at the zoo, we snacked on yogurt raisins. Oh my goodness, they were so good!!!:)  After walking around the zoo, we opened up the Popchips. My husband loved them. (He’s had some salt and vinegar Popchips before but not the plain flavor.)  I loved them also.

I’m saving the spaghetti sauce for a special meal. We love spaghetti around here, so it will be enjoyed by my whole family.

The Iowas honey was used in a salad dressing. It was good, and I love the bear-shaped bottle!  

At night, I treat myself to a few pieces of dark chocolate. I love letting them melt in my mouth. I also love coffee, so I couldn’t wait to try the candy bar. It is delicious and something I normally wouldn’t have bought for myself.

The brown bag is ground coffee from a local coffee shop. Before leaving for my overnight trip, I had planned to brew a cup of coffee to take with me. I had woken up at 3:30 and fell in and out of sleep. I knew I would be staying up and unable to get a real nap. This coffee came at a great time.  

Thank you so much, Alex! You did a great job!

And now it’s time for some details about Foodie Penpals. In case you’re a new reader, here’s a reminder of what the program is all about:

-On the 5th of every month, you will receive your pen pal pairing via email. You will be responsible for contacting your pen pal and getting their mailing address and any other information you might need, like allergies or dietary restrictions.
-You will have until the 15th of the month to put your box of goodies in the mail. On the last day of the month, you will post about the goodies you received from your pen pal! 
-The boxes are to be filled with fun foodie things, local food items, or even homemade treats! The spending limit is $15. The box must also include something written. This can be anything from a note explaining what’s in the box to a fun recipe…use your imagination!
-You are responsible for figuring out the best way to ship your items depending on their size and how fragile they are. (Don’t forget about flat rate boxes!)
-Foodie Penpals is open to blog readers as well as bloggers. If you’re a reader and you get paired with a blogger, you are to write a short guest post for your pen pal to post on their blog about what you received. If two readers are paired together, neither needs to worry about writing a post for that month. 
-Foodie Penpals is open to US, Canadian & European residents. Please note Canadian Residents will be paired with other Canadians only. Same with Europeans. We’ve determined things might get too slow and backed up if we’re trying to send foods through customs across the border from the US to Canada and vice versa. 

If you’re from the US or Canada and are participating for November, please CLICK HERE ( to fill out the participation form and read the terms and conditions.

You must submit your information by February 4th as pairings will be emailed on February 5th!

*If you’re from Europe, please CLICK HERE ( to signup.

Posted in Grandma, Randomness

My Journey Part 3

The First Part of the Journey

The Second Part of the Journey

My other grandma’s health declined after her fall. We gradually began going through her belongings and cleaning out her house. She was unable to live on her own anymore.

I maintained my weight during that time, but I was not as focused on my health because of the stress in my life.

Fourteen months after her fall, I received the call I was dreading. Grandma was slipping fast.

For the next 5 days, I sat by her bedside with the rest of my family. Christmas Eve of 2008 was the day she left her Earthly body.

I gradually gained about 10 pounds and went up 2 ppantssizes during the next year and a half.

Then I was transferred from an elementary school to a middle school.

To be continued. . .

Posted in Menu planning

What’s For Dinner? – Week of Jan. 28

I can’t believe it’s the last week of January.


bacon and corn quiche

oatmeal, cranberry overnight oatmeal

feta and broccoli egg mug (x2)

chocolate overnight oatmeal

blueberry almond coffee cake muffin


zucchini pizza

spicy chicken wraps

Asian pork salad

spicy chicken and black bean burrito bowl

baked ziti with roasted veggies

gyro salad

steak salad


spicy chicken and black beans

crispy pork tenderloin

skinny chicken gyros

baked ziti with roasted veggies

maple chicken

steak and cheese sandwiches

sausage, kale. And white bean soup

Posted in Grandma, Randomness

My Journey Part 2

The First Part of the Journey

On the last Saturday of October 2007, I talked to my grandma (Grandma H.) for the last time about life and supper. Soon after that last conversation, her foot fell asleep, and she tried to walk on it. She ended up falling down and breaking her leg. Soon afterward, her health began to decline.

The next day I got a call from my father’s sister (my aunt). My other grandma (Grandma B.) was dying and was not expected to live past the evening. At 3 o’clock in the morning, I woke up suddenly. My grandma was saying goodbye to me.

While at work the next day, I got a call from my aunt that Grandma B. had died at around 3 o’clock that morning. I left work, went to the hospital to visit Grandma H., who broke her leg, and then went home to pack. My sister and I left the next morning to drive to Pittsburgh.

We went to her funeral on Halloween. Ironic because she had a big sweet tooth.

Although Grandma B. and I were not close, I associate many memories with her. Her twin beds in her guest bedroom – one had plastic covering the mattress. You would slip and slide all night long if you were the unfortunate one to get that bed. She did not cook. How much she missed my grandpa, who died in 1992.

Her death has impacted me but not as much as what was to come.

To be continued . . .

Posted in Grandma, Randomness

My Journey part 1

Five and a half years ago, I saw my weight creeping upward. My youngest was almost 2, and the “I’m going to lose the weight when he’s 1 no longer applied.” It was time for action. Memorial Day 2007 was the official day I decided to take over my life.

But at that time, I believed and thought I almost needed to starve myself to lose weight. I joined Spark people and realized I needed to eat differently, not starve myself.

I kept eating some of the same foods but in smaller quantities. It became a numbers game instead of a real lifestyle change. (I love math, so this was perfect for me.).

My biggest supporter was my maternal grandma. She and I would talk daily about life and what I would cook for supper.

By the time I was back at work, II was down almost 30 pounds and wearing the smallest pant size I had ever worn as an adult.

Then October of 2007 came, and my life completely changed forever. . . .

To be continued

Posted in chicken 1, Ingredients, Main Dish, Meat, Pasta, Recipes

Chicken Scampi

My family doesn’t like shrimp, so traditional shrimp scampi is a no go at my house.  So I decided to make scampi with chicken instead.  You know a meal is a winner when the hubby, the Wee One, and the Imaginative One all love the meal.  There were no complaints about the meal.

About five years ago, I got a spaghetti pot that cooks the spaghetti whole.  The boys loved eating whole pieces of linguine.  They loved slurping up the pieces.  It made the meal fun for them.

Chicken Scampi


Stars of the recipe:

  • 1/2 box of linguine, cooked (reserve 1 cup of the cooking water) – I used whole wheat pasta.
  • 1 lb. of chicken, cubed
  • 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 5 Tbsp. butter (separate into a 2 Tbsp. piece and a 3 Tbsp. piece)
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 2 Tbsp. minced garlic
  • 1 c. white wine
  • 2 lemons, juiced (microwave them for 10 seconds before juicing them)
  • 1 TbspDrieded parsley or 2 Tbsp. fresh parsley


  1. Cook the linguine, reserving 1 cup of the cooking water.
  2. In a skillet, heat the oil and 2 Tbsp. of the butter over medium heat.
  3. When the butter is melted, add the chicken, onions, and garlic.  Cook until the chicken is cooked.  (5 to 10 minutes)
  4. Remove the chicken, onions, and garlic.  Tent a piece of foil over the chicken to keep it warm.
  5. Place the skillet over high heat.  Add the lemon juice and white wine.  Deglaze the bottom of the skillet and then cook until boiling.  Add the cooking water and 3 Tbsp. Butter.
  6. Lower the heat.  Once the butter is melted, add the chicken, onions, and garlic.  Cook for about 3-5 more minutes until the sauce is thickened.
  7. Add the parsley and remove from heat.
  8. Pour over the cooked linguine and combine.
  9. Serve and enjoy!

Printable Recipe



Posted in Menu planning

What’s for dinner? – Week of Jan. 21


Homemade Egg “McMuffins,” fruit (x3)

yogurt, cereal, fruit parfait (x2)

Nutella banana muffins, fruit (x1)


Derby chicken salad, veggies

Broccoli cheese quiche, bagel thin

teriyaki  chicken salad

chili mac

Shepard’s pie


teriyaki chicken


chicken cacciatore

shepard’s pie

pepperoni pizza

roasted chicken, baked potatoes, veggies

Posted in Ingredients, Recipes, Salad, Spinach

Spinach and pear salad


This is an easy salad to serve on the side.  It’s full of flavor!

Spinach and Pear Salad

Stars of the recipe:  (Serves 1)

  • 1 c. spinach or spring mix
  • 1/4 pear, diced into big pieces
  • 1 Tbsp. feta cheese
  • 1 Tbsp. dried cranberries, optional
  • 1 Tbsp. Walnut pieces, optional

Stars of the dressing: (Makes enough for 2 salads)

  • 1/4 tsp. garlic
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil


  1. Place spinach or spring mix on a plate or bowl.
  2. Top with pear and sprinkle with dried cranberries, feta, and walnut pieces.
  3. Combine the dressing with a whisk or in a blender.
  4. Drizzle the dressing over each salad.
  5. Enjoy!

Printable Recipe

Posted in Chicken, Ingredients, Main Dish, Pork, Recipes

Pork (or Chicken) Stir Fry

My husband loves Chinese food and had been craving some when I had planned to make stir fry. So he was excited when I told him that it was for dinner.

Since I don’t have much time to cook dinner before I have it on the table, I cut the pieces smaller, especially the broccoli. My husband does not like broccoli but eats it when I cut it into smaller pieces.

The Wee One made chopsticks out of two spoons during dinner to scoop up the food better. It was so funny! (I wish I got a picture of how he ate dinner.)

This meal can be adapted to your likes.

Pork (or Chicken) Stir Fry

Chicken stir fry

Stars of the recipe: 

  • 1 lb. pork chops or chicken, chopped into smaller pieces
  • 3 c. vegetables, diced into smaller pieces (Examples:  celery, carrots (peeled first), onions, peas (do not dice), broccoli) – Use your imagination and clean out your vegetable drawers
  • 1/4 c. soy sauce (I used low sodium.)
  • 2 Tbsp. ground ginger
  • 1 Tbsp. Granulated garlic or 2 Tbsp. minced garlic
  • 2 Tbsp. Extra virgin olive oil


  1. Heat up 1 Tbsp. Of oil in a saute pan on medium heat.
  2. Once the oil is heated up, add the pork or chicken  Cook the pork or chicken until no longer pink  (5 to 10 minutes)
  3. Once the pork or chicken is cooked, remove from the pa  Tent a piece of foil over it to keep it warm.
  4. Add another 1 Tbsp. Of oil to pa  Add the diced veggies except for the pea  Cook until softened. (5ish minutes)
  5. Place the pork or chicken back in the pan with the veggie  Add the peas, soy sauce, ginger, and garlic Cook for a few minutes longer.
  6. Serve over rice.
  7. Enjoy with a fortune cookie!

Printable Recipe