Sunday, January 30, 2011

healthy chocolate cake in 5 minutes :)

I'm all about finding and trying out new healthy recipes or interesting ways to eat food we normally wouldn't eat.

Not very exciting to eat raw. I'll nibble on it if I feel like I need to get some healthful food in my belly. But I found a very exciting way to eat kale and here's the kicker, the kids LOVE it too! Rip it up into small pieces, arrange them on a foil lined baking sheet, spray them with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Bake them at 375 degrees for 12 minutes (or until crispy). They are a great substitue for potato chips because they have that crisp saltiness. Sounds odd but honestly, they are fab.

GARBANZO BEANS (chick peas): I will put them in a salad sometimes but that's about it. Now, we roast them. Make a mix of olive oil and spices you like, toss in a can of rinsed and drained beans, and roast them at 400 degrees for 45-50 minutes. They turn out crunchy and delicious. We've been using salt, cinnamon, allspice and cumin in our mix of spices but you can literally use anything that blows your dress up.

I'm almost afraid of sharing this recipe because it's that good. I could mass market this stuff and make millions, I swear. And I'm sharing it with you. How nice of me, right? I love chocolate cake but two things that suck about it are BIG TIME calories and time it takes to make. Well, I've solved these two problems.

A while back I received a recipe for a 3 minutes coffee cup cake made in a microwave. I've tweaked this recipe to make it healthy and it also cooks a lot better in my opinion. Because unless you are using giant sized coffee mugs, it always spills out of the coffee mug as it's cooking. Here's the recipe:

4 tbsp almond meal (just finely ground almonds - find it in the organic section of the grocery store or make your own)
2 tbsp steviva or truvia (all natural sugar substitute)
2 tbsp dark cocoa powder
2 egg whites or egg white powder mixed with water
3 tbsp almond milk (or regular milk but you'll get less calories and less sugar with almond milk)
3 tbsp unsweetened applesauce
a splash of almond or vanilla flavoring (I prefer almond in this recipe)

And that's it! Tasty chocolate cake you can make whenever you feel like you HAVE to have something sweet and you won't have to feel guilty about eating it. No flour, no sugar, no butter!! And it tastes good. My husband even likes it and he is very sensitive to food substitutes (meaning he doesn't like anything made "healthier"). It's simply magic.

Your welcome.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

showing off my skills

As you may recall from a previous post, I have been playing around with PSE (Photoshop Elements) to see whether or not I want to purchase it. Here are some examples of what I've taught myself so far:

This is a cute picture of my Emma, but it's a little flat soc (straight out of the camera - for future reference)

Here is the same photo after I gave it a little boost. I think it looks MUCH better. Everything is a little brighter, I got rid of the crumbs from her bottom lip, made her skin a little smoother, got rid of the under eye shadows. I can see now that I might have overdone the saturation a little for my taste. My husband would probably argue that her face is too pale but I like nice bright faces in portraits. It's all about personal preference.

I was able to [finally] learn the proper use of layers and masks for this photo. Now that I have a better understanding, I can really go to town.

This next photo is soc. In the second photo, I have changed her eye color from blue to green. I just wanted to play around with this effect and try to make it as realistic as possible, to where if someone didn't know she normally had blue eyes, they wouldn't be able to tell. I don't think it turned out too bad. I also removed crumbs from her lip.

It's been really fun playing around with PSE. Although very time consuming also. Andreas asked me the other night, "How late did you work last night?". He used the word work. That sounds SO fabulous! I guess I would describe it more as studying, but either way, soon it will be my job!!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

I love tater tots

I got new gloves today. I went to Scheel's to get a pull up bar (finally - YES!!!) and while I was there I got some really kick ass gloves. The warmest in the whole store, says the salesman.

But good gloves are important when you live in a frozen wonderland 6 months out of the year. Especially for someone who has perpetually cold hands and feet. And I have Raynaud's phenomenon.

What is that you say? Raynaud's is a condition that causes some areas of your body — such as your fingers, toes, tip of your nose and your ears — to feel numb and cool in response to cold temperatures or stress.

You might think, well duh, everyone feels cold in cold weather. But this is a bit different because the tips of my fingers turn completely white from the top joint up to the tip, like there is no life in them. Sometimes it's only a couple fingers on one hand and sometimes it might be 2-3 fingers from each hand. It's very weird. It doesn't only happen in winter either. It's terribly annoying and uncomfortable.

These aren't my hands but I found a picture on the Internet that looks just like what happens to me, just so you get an idea.

I discovered that I had this while nursing Emma. Let's just say that certain, ehem, parts of the body that have to do with nursing a baby, went pure white and numb. The lactation specialist told me I was the first person she'd ever seen with this problem.


Anyway, I will certainly be enjoying both of my purchases. I can't wait to see how many (or rather, how few) pull ups I can do. I mainly wanted it for ab work but of course it'll work great for lats too! And now I will be able to shovel or snow blow the driveway for more than 10 minutes at a time! Well, at least I hope so.

p.s. the title of this post has nothing to do with the post itself, I know, but I do in fact love tater tots

Trying out Elements

I have been busy doing nothing in particular but it seems like there are not enough hours in the day to get around to blogging.

I'm of course busy with home and family but also I've been researching a bit about photoshop and thinking about whether or not I want to spring for it. I do, it's just that I'm so used to Gimp that I hate to think of learning all over again in a different program. Much of it is the same, it will just take a bit of getting used to, but still.

And then there is what to get. Do I get CS5, do I get Elements 9, do I try Lightroom?? So I've been trying to read and absorb as much as I can about the main differences and hopefully get an idea of what would be best for me and my uses for it. The cool thing about it is you can actually download the program for 30 days to try it out. And it's not limited in the tools you can use, it's the fully functioning program....30 whole Isn't that cool??!!

So first I am trying Elements. For the next 30 days. It is somewhere around $500 cheaper than CS5. That's a big difference.

I also tried editing a picture on, which is like a quick and dirty way of editing but it's really fabulous. Let me show you an example of what it can do. I was pretty impressed.

This is my handsome nephew, Joe. His eyes are quite something.

I don't know how well you can see the results "blog sized" but full sized on the screen they are pretty great.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

She wears the cone of shame

Have you ever seen the movie UP? Such an awesome movie. Funny, heartwarming, animated. I laughed, I cried...over and over. But "the cone of shame" should sound familiar to you if you've seen this movie.

A while back we bought Lizzy this big watering jug because she would always tip over her water bowl and then use herself as a mop and "clean" my floors. I swore this was going to be the solution. It looks the same as those clear blue watering jugs you see in businesses. It continuously refills the water bowl as the dog drinks.

Unfortunately, it isn't moose-proof. And we are basically living with a moose. She is able to remove the giant water jug easily and likes to play with it more than she likes fresh water apparently. She will roll it around until all the water is out of it and tear apart the base. The other day she was running around with the base and Eden said, "She wears the cone of shame". And I laughed. A lot. Then I grabbed my camera.

On an unrelated note; mornings have been breathtaking here lately. And not just because it's -10 degrees.

Lizzy is always standing proudly on the deck, watching the cars go by and scanning the yard for "prey". First thing she does when I let her out in the morning is take off like a freight train towards the fence. Sometimes it's after a rabbit but most of the time I think she chases the invisible rabbit, just to feel the cool air through her thick coat. Her favorite times to be outside are when the buses are picking up and dropping off children at school.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Wish you were here [spring]

Nearly everyone that lives in this area is ready for spring right about now. The weather is bitterly cold: 8 below zero with a windchill of 25 below. Ouch! At least the wind isn't blowing. If it were, I can imagine it would be about 40 below.

January and February always seem to be the longest months. The excitement of the holidays is over and there isn't much to look forward to (except Valentine's Day). Even March can get long because Mother Nature teases us with warmer temps and melting snow, then usually slams us with more snow. And we have so much snow right now. Spring flooding seems inevitable around here anymore.

I thought I'd share some of the beauty from warmer days. They will soon be here again!

Monday, January 17, 2011


It was tutu night at dance practice last week. Emma wore my tutu from Halloween because she doesn't have one. Yes, that means I STILL haven't gotten my butt to the craft store to get the stuff I need to make the adorable tutu from the pattern that my dear friend Carin gave me.....months and months ago. That's my horrible procrastinating nature though. Or maybe it's partly because I'm afraid of failing at something so simple.

But it all worked out because I think that the outfit was totally adorable and fitting since it's quite close to Valentine's Day. One of my favorite holidays! *Note - You might notice that I probably say that about every holiday.

Valentine's Day is one that truly gets me excited. There are so many fun things about it. There's the cutsey lovey-dovey aspect of it. Then there's the CHOCOLATE thing. And fun crafts with the kids. And preparing special treats and goody bags. Building Valentine's boxes for school and writing out cards. And romance.....I could go on and on.

That reminds me, I need to get out my decorations!! It's less than a month away!

Friday, January 14, 2011

When life gives you lemons....


Insensitive, Despicable Me

So the hubs has been sick the last couple of days. I think it was Tuesday, middle of the night, he woke me up to tell me that he wasn't feeling well and that he was going to go sleep in the basement. I asked him if he'd barfed yet and he said no but he probably would. Not even 3 minutes later, I heard him ralphing in the downstairs toilet. Poor man.

So he went to the basement for the night, where he continued to upchuck every hour until morning. He called me from his cell phone and said he thought he had the norovirus and was certain he would be sick like this for a week. He even told me to cancel his dentist appointment the following Monday.

I had to chuckle a little bit though. I said, " want me to cancel your appointment that's 5 days away?" to which he replied "Yes. I've had this before. It lasted about a week." and I said "Well, how do you know it's not just the flu?" he said "Because I don't have any body aches or anything like that". So I said, "But it still sounds like the flu." But he was very adamant about it.

Now, I know he has had this norovirus once before, but how can you tell you have that versus the flu? Plus, none of us got sick and I would think if it was something like that, we'd all have our heads in the toilet. But he insisted it must have been from the hamburger he ate Monday night.

Anyway, he stayed down in the basement, not wanting to come in contact with any of us and get us sick, for the next two days. Which was thoughtful of him because I have not been sick in forever and I'd like it to stay that way. After all, who would run this household if mamma got sick too?

Tonight he came up from solitary confinement and he was looking almost human again. I'm sure his buddies from work are missing him terribly and hope he returns soon so their lives will feel complete again ;)

p.s. Seriously? I could only come up with 3 different words for vomit? Come on, I can do better than that! Puke. Blow chunks. Hork. Toss your cookies. Spew. Retch. Heave. Hurl. Purge. Yack. Regurgitate.

That's more like it.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Something yummy I bet you've never tried

I want to share something AMAZING with you. K, are you ready? Here goes

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cauliflower rice

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You heard me.

This is such a revelation to me. Because there are certain days where I don't eat starches in the evening and so I need to replace them with other foods. For instance, for spaghetti night, I will use a spaghetti squash instead of noodles.

Well, the other day, while researching new dinner ideas, I came across cauliflower rice. There was a video and everything. And I was like, "Wow, that actually looks awesome!". So I tried it tonight and guess what? It was awesome!!!

Basically all you do is clean a head of cauliflower and cut off the florets, put them in a food processor using either the steel blade or the shredder blade. I can't find my shredder blade so I used the plain blade. Then, you put the shredded cauliflower, which is supposed to resemble rice, in a microwave container (covered) and nuke for 4-5 minutes. Mine more resembled couscous in look and taste but that's cool because I love couscous too. But anyway, you put some butter and salt and pepper on it and OMG! So. Good.

I DARE you to try it!!

Monday, January 10, 2011

I don't have anything to blog about....again.

I'm so anxious for spring to arrive. I know I have a long wait, but I can't help it. I want to run through the grass in my bare feet with the kids. Oh wait, we have large piles of poop in our yard now. Scratch that. But I want to take my camera outside and take pictures of all the budding new life that is so beautiful in the spring.

Right now, I am looking out the window at my Christmas tree carcass laying at the end of our driveway. It's so sad and lonely. I don't miss the holidays one bit this year. We were so dang busy, I was happy to get it over with. I'm pretty sure everyone that had to come in contact with me throughout the month of December hated me. I was a crabby bear, sorry for that dear friends and family.

Yes, I do actually have friends, contrary to what our Christmas letter may have indicated (thanks, Andreas). It's ok, we joke about it all the time. Well, mainly I say how jealous I am of my husband because he'll run into someone he knows nearly EVERYWHERE we go and I grew up in this area and still feel like I know no one some days.

I keep telling him he needs to invite his friends over for a game night Thursday or something like that. I feel like a hermit. Or, what I can imagine a hermit with no friends might feel like. What's a hermit anyway? But, still, no game night Thursdays going on in the Arff household. I'm starting to think maybe he doesn't want me to socialize with his friends. Then I think why. Is it because of my humor? I do like to use the word turd on occasion. And poop. And crap. Maybe I need to use less toilet words. But, as you might remember from this post, that's how I am. Or maybe I just think too much. No. That can't be it.

Am I rambling? Sorry.

So, I pierced my belly button yesterday. I have wanted to forever but have always been a little chicken. Then I thought, good God woman, you've given birth without pain medicine, you can handle a little belly piercing! And, while it wasn't something I'd want to do daily, it wasn't too bad. And I think it's really cute. Wanna see?

Ok, my mom says it's really small. Is this better?

I'm already excited for July when I can take it out and change to a cute little dangler.

Oh, and I didn't get a chance to try and fake catchlights with Gimp over the weekend. I was too busy doing nothing. I'll have to play around with it this week.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Emma's Sparkling Eyes

My darling girl. I took this photo with my 50mm f/1.8 lens. I did some editing with Gimp. Made her eyes pop a little more and a few other things. She was in her room playing on the floor and the light was making her eyes sparkle so beautifully. But I was able to intensify it even more with Gimp.

It got me to thinking, I bet I could fake catch lights with Gimp if I wanted to. I should try that sometime. Because a lot of times my subjects are not in the proper light and those pictures could use some help. That will be my assignment for the weekend. I'll tinker around a little, if I have time.

By the way, any of you use Photoshop? I would love to know what the main differences are between Gimp and Photoshop (Gimp being a free download and all). I wish I could take a little Photoshop course so I could learn what it does so that I know if it's worth the money or if I could just stick with Gimp. If anyone out there could fill me in a little, I would be so appreciative!!

I'm getting my belly pierced this weekend. I'll probably be super nervous when it comes time to do it. Luckily I have Chelsea to go with me so I don't chicken out. I'm also planning on seeing the third in the "meet the parents" movies. I think it's called Little Fockers or something like that. I own the first two movies and watch them a lot. They are so funny.

Have a super weekend!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

ho hum

I'm running on empty today. Sleep deprivation has gotten the better of me. I don't know what the deal was but I tossed and turned all night! As tired as I was at bedtime, I expected to fall right to sleep!

You should see me right now. Seriously. I'm wearing pj pants cropped to the knee and thick white sweat socks up to the knee. It's pretty sexy.

Anyway, that is my excuse for failing to come up with a good post for today. Just admire the picture of my adorable baby :)

p.s. what does it mean when your husband starts borrowing your hair clips?

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Like father like daughter

Emma has pretty much taken over my laptop. I barely get enough time to check email and a couple other things (5 minutes worth) before she's hovering asking to play. And so I always say "just a minute, Emma". Then she'll sit beside me waiting. If I take too long she'll ask again. And again. Until finally I can't take it. Not because she's bothering me, but because it's so cute. She tries so hard to be patient.

She will sit patiently waiting some days for me to bring her a cup of milk or to turn on a movie. Half the time, I forget and she'll come find me and say "did you forget?". And then I'll feel soooo bad because the poor little thing has been sitting in the family room for like half an hour waiting for me. sweet and patient little angel.

Look at her, my computer nerdling.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Last Day of Vacay

What did we do on our last day of Christmas vacation? Well, we played a little Risk.

Hanna and Andreas were thirsty for revenge after I totally womped their butts the other day! hehe
But we let Emma play this time and she won. We didn't finish because the girls wanted to play outside one more time before it got dark, but she would have won.

And the dog tried to play too. She is so funny sometimes because she thinks she is just this little lap dog and she will climb up onto our laps all the time. We had to put the muzzle on her though because she was trying to eat everything.

And there was an awful lot of candy eating today also (note the children's happy faces). Come back tomorrow for the grimacing of sugar withdrawal because this was their last sugar free-for-all pig out day. And they knew it too. They were chowing down! I honestly don't think we have anymore candy in the house except for my stash of dark chocolate kisses. I have to pop one in my mouth every night after dinner, or all hell would break loose.

And it's back to school for Hanna and Eden tomorrow. That makes me think of that Christmas song where it says, "...and mom and dad can hardly wait for school to start again". Actually, it hasn't been all that bad. Sure there have been little spats every now and then but most of the time they played really well together. I have great kids!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

A year in pictures

Looking back on the Arff's 2010:

January: It's back to another long cold North Dakota winter

February: I try to make every little holiday special for the girls because I know that to them it's a big deal

March: Battling the flood

April: I sprained my ankle really badly and it would take me a long time to get back to normal

May: We brought home a gorgeous puppy that would change our lives completely

June: We attended the wedding of my sister's step son

July: 4th of July boating with family and fireworks in Wahpeton

August: Eden and Emma would start Just For Kix

September: Eden's big birthday surprise

October: My oldest is a teenager

November: I get a tripod and attempt to do our own Christmas photo again this year

December: This month would FLY by but as always the season was merry and bright

And that is our year in a nutshell.

It's a new year. And many of us welcome the new year because it represents a time for us to make a fresh start. We reflect on the past year, on things we may not be too proud of, and vow to do better.

I seem to make resolutions every week so this behavior is like second nature to me. Maybe this year I should try to actually succeed with one resolution before I'm on to the next one. For instance, in the same week I might be trying to battle more than one demon (using the computer less, being more patient with my kids, trying not to complain as much) and each one is difficult enough on it's own. It's easy to become overwhelmed and mess up, and feel like I've failed [again].

But like everyone else, I'm trying to be the best ME that I can be. For my family and for myself. It's good to set small personal goals. It's even good to set BIG goals. Sometimes it's the scary goals that drive you to succeed. Because saying that you'll wear matching socks at least twice this week and then doing it, isn't really going to make you jump up in the air like "YEAH!". But saying you'll lose 10 pounds by your birthday (and doing it) will. Just don't set your sights too high. The unattainable goals will surely leave you feeling discouraged. You know, like saying you'll meet and marry Rob Pattinson. Probably ain't gonna happen.

But anyway, I do have a few things that I'd like to do in 2011. And here they are:
1)Start a business
2)Peirce my navel
3)Lose that last layer of fat and wear a bikini with confidence BY JUNE
4)De-stress on a nightly basis
5)Take a picture and make a journal entry every single day
6)Learn how to get crisper images out of my camera
7)Take a relaxing mini vacay with my hubby
8)Force feed myself more vegetables

These are the goals I have set for myself. But if I had to pick one stand out official resolution it would be to STRESS LESS about the stupid stuff that I stress out about all the time. I need to learn to just let go, be less uptight and ENJOY LIFE!