Tuesday, December 30, 2014

How the Grinch Stole Snack Time

So much sugar...
 The new year approaches and we're getting ready to make some major dietary adjustments around here. My inspiration isn't the new year, it's the post-holiday food comas that have Linda, Matt, and me sitting on our duffs for days on end. It's time to get serious about eating well.
When aunt Linda moved in with us, one of our goals was to help her get healthy. In the past two years she's been able to eliminate one of her prescription meds (yea!), but not only has she not lost any weight, we've all gained it. Suggestions and will power don't work around here. I hate to have to do this, but for the sake of all of it, I'm locking up the food.

This hasn't been an easy decision to make. I'm an emotional eater. Matt's a late night snacker. Linda loves to munch while she watches the football/baseball/hockey game. That shouldn't be a problem, but it's the quantity of snacking that's showing up on our waistlines - three people splitting a bag of potato chips in one day. Yikes.

I've been trying to avoid this, but my attempts at portion control haven't worked. I bought single-serve salad dressings, but Linda put two on her salad. I pre-measured servings of peanuts, and she ate four throughout the day. I buy low-sugar cereal, but Matt eats 2-3 bowls at night. You don't want to know what I eat when my hormones are out of whack. We have serious impulse control issues.

We also have a late-night scavenger. I've been reduced to hiding Christmas cookies and Chex mix in my bedroom at night to make sure it doesn't disappear while I'm sleeping. Knowing that food disappears at night also prompts all of us to eat extra during the day because we never know if anything will be left in the morning.

Enough already.
We've even pulled our neighbor into our sphere of food.

I haven't broken the news to Linda yet, but I'm locking the pantry. My plan includes two 32 oz. water bottles for each of us (to make sure we're drinking enough plain water during the day), as well as snack bowls. Each day I'll set out a serving each of nuts or trail mix, crackers or chips, cereal, etc. When those are gone, the only other option will be the fridge, which we keep stocked with veggies and hard boiled eggs, and the fruit bowl. 

This may seem drastic, but when normal will power fails, sometimes you just need to lock up the chocolate chips. I'm anticipating some hostility and crankiness from all of is as we wean ourselves off large portions and too much sugar, but I also remember how much energy I had 30 lbs. ago, and I'd like to return to that lifestyle. 

Here's hoping the health benefits off-set the cravings quickly!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Christmas Music and Memories

Two weeks ago my friend BB called and suggested a fun new Christmas activity - the Music House Museum's Open House with a pre-tour tailgate. Armed with lawn chairs, hot coffee, and cookies, we arrived 30 minutes early for our inaugural event. With temps in the mid-30s, it was a beautiful day to tailgate.

Aunt Linda with her Rice Krispie treat.

I swear he's not really a Robertson, but he sure is cute.
You'll notice the tailgate only consisted of three people. BB showed up a little late, but he and his son did arrive early enough to enjoy a cookie before we went inside. If you've never been to the Music House Museum, I highly recommend it. There are some amazing instruments in there, and it's so fun to hear how people enjoyed music before the iPod.

Watching a silent clip of Laurel and Hardy with organ accompaniment. Linda wasn't all that impressed, "I saw this when I was a kid," but she did enjoy it.

My husband, Yooper Stewart, with BB and his son, Little D. Little D enjoyed his first silent movie.

The nickelodeon.
Our tour guide showed us so many things: a working nickelodeon, a reproduction of a portable organ that an organ grinder would have used (that is currently used for parades and festivals throughout the summer), and other German and American versions of self-playing pianos and organs. All but two of the instruments were cued up to play Christmas music, which was an extra treat.

Linda the organ grinder.
Check out the scroll at the top - it's an unending, never wrinkling, never creasing piano roll that lets this piano play itself nonstop!

This was the second largest organ we saw. The largest is below...
The crown jewel of the Music House is the Mortier Dance Organ. Not only is it majestic to look at, it's one of only 24 working Mortier organs in the world. It's also the only one played on a regular basis, as it gives daily demonstrations for museum guests.

A little history, if you can read it.

The organ sits on a platform in an old bar - you can tell how big it is by seeing it in relation to the barn beams.
Not only does the organ look amazing, it sounds pretty cool too.

We had so much fun tailgating and touring that we're thinking about doing it again next year. If you live nearby, you're welcome to join us!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Happy Birthday, Linda!!

 O.M.G. - guess who's 65 today?? We started the celebration Saturday with a party at the frozen yogurt shop and wrapped it up this evening with the season finale of Survivor. Overall, it's been a good birth-week. (I tried to put these pictures in order, but Blogger's being stupid again - sorry about that).

Shaina and Linda, post-froyo.

Beery, Beery, Beery.

Pretty sure she was the cutest party-goer.

Beautiful flowers from her brother and sister. If you look closely at that picture, you'll see a young Linda-lu and her siblings too!

That's right - it's Linda's birthday!

Ice cream cake and cookies from Hope and the kids.

Frozen-themed cookies and a candle - do they know Linda or what?

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Cookie Time!

When Aunt Linda moved in, one of my goals was to get her out of the house and active in as many ways as possible. Since she's been here I've taken her to a lot of events that I may not have attended on my own, and we've tried many new activities. Most recently we learned how to make fancy-pants Christmas cookies!

Our friend Rebecca is a cake and cookie decorator. She invited some ladies from church to her house where she showed us some amazing sugar cookie examples. Then she told us the most ridiculous thing - that we could make cookies just like those.
I was skeptical, but we had three dozen naked cookies. At the very least, we knew we could frost them and dump sprinkles on them, so we started.
It was the first time I've used a pastry bag, and I'm pretty sure it was Linda's first time too. We only had a few minor frosting explosions though, and Linda timed them perfectly to happen when she passed the bags to me, so she escaped relatively unscathed (I, however, ended up green).
Rebecca had us start with a base coat of royal frosting, which we let dry while we ate (of course - what would cookie decorating be without breakfast casseroles and muffins?). Here's a sampling of our cookies.
After brunch, we came back and started round two. Guess what? We made some pretty beautiful cookies! We also ate a lot of them, but we don't have to talk about that now.
Three hours later, we brought home the prettiest cookies I think either of us have ever made! I won't lie - it's inspired me. Next year I might forgo some of my Chex mixes and try my hand at more sugar cookies.