Wednesday, October 28, 2009

It's Your Tush... Tame It!

Howdy Doo All! Several weeks ago while listening to the Martha Stewart channel on my satellite radio I came across a tip from a guest speaker. A caller asked the pro a question that I have often wondered myself so I piped in and listened good. The caller said that for exercise she walks and sometimes jogs but still cannot "tame her tush" which seems to be her problem area in her eyes. The speaker told her to get a set of five pound ankle weights and begin with simple leg lifts and knee lifts. I perked up and thought.. I can do that.. or at least try!

I'm not the type person to go to the gym or join an aerobics class. I like to do things on my own time and preferably where no one else can watch! I maintain a healthy weight by walking and running almost every day but like most bodies when you hit a certain age things just "move" when you don't want them to and you either watch it jiggle or do something about it. My daily walk while good for me physically was not "taming my tush" either.

For my birthday I asked my Mr. to check in on getting me a pair of ankle weights. When my birthday arrived on the 18th he delivered! I did get ankle weights. They are 2 1/2 pounds for each ankle which is really probably better to begin with. The Monday following my birthday and right after my walk I tried them out. I didn't have a routine to go by so I made up my own. To my surprise it was simple and took hardly no time and I was done. The next day I felt a mild soreness in muscles that I didn't know I had. I have been using the ankle weights for only 10 days now and I am shocked at the results that I have so far. Now I am sure that the combination of walking and using the weights help each other out but I highly recommend giving either or both of them a good try. Right way or wrong way, here's what I am doing each evening:

Standing at my kitchen counter (reading a magazine or cooking) I do a 10 count leg lift, with each leg, out to the side with my leg straight. Then 10 count knee lift, with each leg, just lifting my foot behind me. If I'm not finished reading then I'll do this twice.

Next, since I have hardwood floors, I grab a couch pillow, get down on all fours with my knees on the pillow and lift each knee to the side in an L shape. I call this a knee lift. This exercise burns a little so surely it's helping. After a 10 count for each leg, I add a 10 count of lifting my foot into the air behind me for each leg. Make sure no one is standing behind you on this one!

Lastly, I lay on my back with the pillow under my tush and perform the old faithful bicycle in the air trick for 20 count. The entire routine takes... well you can count.

You can get a decent set of ankle weights for under $20.00. Give it a try and after a couple of weeks let me know what you think! If nothing else... Jane Fonda would be proud!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Planting For Spring

Hello everyone! Thanks for visiting! I have to say that although the fall colors are beautiful and there is nothing like the quiet peacefulness of a winter's snow, I am a spring girl. Spring is what gets me through the cold winter months with nature in all it's nakedness. A thought of warm days and spring flowers just tickles me.

I always love the first signs of spring. My favorite being the perks of spring bulbs popping up. Yellow daffodils blooming and tulips galore... there's just not much that I like more. (how'd you like that rhyme?) This year I decided to try my hand at planting bulbs in containers. We haven't yet landscaped at Hulsey Manor and the Mr. does fancy using weed killer so I have to be careful of where to plant my lovelies.

Yesterday, while at the do it yourself store I decided to pick up the bulbs that should bloom the earliest which are crocus. Since you only have to plant them about two inches deep I had a better selection of containers at home that I could use. I also bought a package of tulips. They required a much deeper pot since they need six inches of growing room.

Planting bulbs in containers is easy. Just make sure the object you use has drain holes because the bulbs will rot if left too wet. I say "object" because I've been known to plant in some strange things. As long as it's got a drain hole... it's a flower pot in my eyes! Here's what I did:

I picked out what I wanted to plant in, put some rocks in the bottom for better drainage and filled the container with potting soil up to about three inches from the top of the bowl. Next I placed the crocus bulbs where I wanted them and filled almost the rest of the way with soil on top of the bulbs. I always put a layer of mini pine bark mulch (about $2.50 for the big bag at Wal-Mart). It helps to keep the soil moist and provides an extra layer of insulation for the tiny bulbs in this case. Finally I watered them using a little fertilizer mixed in and placed them outside on the porch. Be sure to water them at least once a week if they aren't exposed to natural rain. I truly hope this works and am looking forward to posting pictures of my results in February or March!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Pecan Tea Cookies

Hello Friends! Sorry I've been so quiet this month. It is beginning to be a beautiful fall season in Tennessee. All of the colors on the trees are just gorgeous! I had the pleasure of staying home all day yesterday. I cleaned house, made a huge pot of soup and craved shortbread cookies all morning. While I did not make any shortbread cookies I did pull out a different, semi-similar cookie recipe that I thought I would share. Please don't shy away from making these because of the kind of lengthy directions. They really aren't a bother and they are well worth it.

Pecan Tea Cookies

2 sticks butter - softened
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups all purpose flour
1 Tablespoon vanilla
1 cup powdered sugar (and more for later)
1 3/4 cups pecans (finely chopped)
1/3 cup mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Arrange two racks in oven to first (bottom) and third (middle) positions. Lightly grease 2 baking sheets.

In a medium bowl combine flour and salt with a whisk.

Using a stand mixer (if you have one, if not a regular mixer will work) whip butter sticks on medium high for 3 minutes. Add powdered sugar and vanilla and whip for 2 minutes on medium high. Add half of the pecans and mix well. Gradually add flour mixing well. Stir in remaining pecans and chocolate chips. Roll by tablespoons full and place on baking sheet one inch apart. I like to give mine a little pat down so they're not so much a ball shape. You can get a lot on each sheet because they don't spread.

Place one baking sheet full of cookies on lower rack in preheated oven and the other on the middle rack. Bake for 25 minutes alternating baking sheets halfway through. I time mine for 12 minutes then switch the sheets and time for 13 minutes.

Remove from oven and let cool on pans for 5 minutes. As you remove the cookies, drop into powdered sugar and coat well. Place cookies on cooling rack and let cool completely then drop in powdered sugar again.

Hope you enjoy them!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Mmmm Chicken & Dumplings

Chello everyone! I would like to confess that I... peppysis... a.k.a. Laurie, am a lover of Chicken & Dumplings. Whew.. that feels better. Alas I've never felt as if I have mastered any recipe that I have come across for the dish that I love so much. Although my Mr. would beg to differ. He is so sweet to say "Mmm that's the best I've ever tasted!" after every meal or any special dish that I make. I just let the appreciation soak in. Back to the topic... my dumplings have never risen to satisfy my tastes... until yesterday. I finally succumbed to an easier version of the dumpling and I was very pleased with the result.

As much as I would love to claim this recipe as my creation I cannot. However from now on it will be found in my own personal cookbook, in my own personal writing so that my children someday will be able to make this dish and say it taste just like Mom's :) What they don't know won't hurt them.

Yesterday, I was able to compile a small addition of ingredients to my grocery list. I actually wound up only adding around eleven dollars of extras to make up the necessities of this dish. I was really proud. It includes one of those roasted chickens that comes precooked and piping hot from the deli and let me tell you I barely made it home without climbing into my backseat and breaking open the bag of chicken! Yum, it smelled sooo good! My grocery store had them on sale for $4.99. I couldn't believe it. From there it was on! Shaun helped me by tearing the chicken to shreds while I chopped, sauteed and prepared the base for this dish. The entire process actually took about 30 minutes and our supper was on the table.

I was extremely pleased with the taste and FINALLY pleased with the simple dumplings and will probably never try to make them on my own again. Well that's probably not true... I will try it again. But I will from now on have the old faithful just in case. Are you ready for the recipe?

Here's where you can find it. I hope you enjoy it just as much as we did.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Thrifty Ladies

My niece Lacey and I have always enjoyed what we call "Lacey Laurie Days". These are usually Saturdays where we spend the entire day together doing whatever we feel like doing. This past Saturday, since my niece and nephew were spending a few days with us, we decided to go out for the day and thrift our hearts out.

With the help of the internet I compiled a list of thrift stores in Nashville. I called to get hours, verify addresses and to make sure some of them still existed. I got pretty good vibes from a few of the stores just by the person that answered the phone so those were the stores I chose for us to visit.

On Saturday, we got up and got ourselves ready, stopped for a quick biscuit and sweet tea at Mrs. Winners and hit the road. I decided to make our first stop the furthest on the map so that we could work our way back home throughout the day. Luckily our first stop, ThriftSmart, was the best thrift store in both of our opinions. We spend about 2 hours in this store and left there with arms full of goodies.

Our next favorite stop was close to Baptist Hospital called "Ladies of Charity". I was surprised to see the quantity of ladies volunteering at this place! They were everywhere and ever-so helpful to all of the shoppers. This particular place had more "name brand" clothing and was a bit higher priced but it was obviously worth what they were asking. We had no trouble finding items to try on and left there with huge smiles on our faces because we both had a new favorite pair of jeans in hand as we exited!

Our third favorite, I would have to say, was the Southern Thrift Store on Charlotte Pike. Lacey, who is in love with certain t-shirts, found quite a bit here with very good prices. I came away with only a couple of shirts and an enamel serving tray but I was very pleased with the store.

We had a wonderful day and managed to squeeze in lunch at our favorite spot... Baja Burrito! Which is always a good choice!

Here are our top three thrift stores in case you would like to visit them yourself:

ThriftSmart - 4930 Nolensville Rd, Nashville, TN 37211

Ladies of Charity - 2216 State Street, Nashville, TN 37203

Southern Thrift Store - 5010 Charlotte Pike, Nashville, TN 37209