Monthly Archives: November 2012

WritersButt Wednesday – Best Workout FAILS

Let’s have a laugh for this WritersButt Wednesday, shall we?  My sister posted this to her Facebook page this morning and I spent 3 minutes laughing my butt off. Ah, what people will do in the effort to workout. Some of these attempts are truly creative and they fail epically … all for our enjoyment!

Before you get any ideas that this is proof that y’all should avoid working out. Au contraire!! That doesn’t fly with me and you know it.  It would be really hard to have an epic fail on a Potty Squat. Well, unless you didn’t close the lid. And, if that happens, I sure hope someone gets it on camera and emails it to me!

So, sit back, put your water bottle down just for these few minutes so you don’t squirt water out your nose and have a laugh!!  You’re welcome!



WritersButt Wednesday – Snicker Salad!

I almost forgot it was WritersButt Wednesday and I had promised you on Monday that I’d give you a yummy ‘treat’ recipe today that is not WritersButt approved. But, it’s the kick-off for our holiday season and I’m feeling all soft-hearted toward y’all.

So, this recipe is for Snicker Salad and yes, it does indeed have Snicker Bars in it. I know!!  This is a family recipe from my Minnesota relatives. All of my extended family are from MN, because that is where both my parents are from. Fun fact, my parents grew up 50 miles apart but met and married (and had me) in Hawaii (Honolulu).

In the event you don’t know, when there is a family gathering in Minnesota, which could be anywhere from 2 people to in excess of a 100 over for coffee, the food will consist of ‘hot dishes’, ‘salads’ and ‘bars’. This is a known fact. Salads often don’t have a shred of lettuce in them. Often they are made up of pasta, other veggies or in the case of Snicker Salad, simple sweet pleasures!

Ingredients for Snicker Salad

True story — my husband started making my family’s Snicker Salad to bring into the office for the various pot-luck occasions. Soon, that’s all they requested of him. The bowl was scraped clean, usually with fingers and sometimes with tongues. It’s a sight, I tell you.  Women counting only a few Weight Watcher points because, well … it’s a ‘salad’. Well over a decade ago, when we just had the one child, William (my man) brought Snicker Salad into the office. A young co-worker loved it so much she called to tell her mother she was bringing this new, delicious salad to their family Thanksgiving. When she told her mother what was in it, the mother’s response was, “Oh Honey, that’s all that poor guy had in his fridge.”

His young co-worker couldn’t convince her mother that William was married with a child. He had to be some young bachelor living off of snickers and ramen.

So, if you’d like to indulge in a fun new treat that I can assure you, will be met with much appreciation and awe, try this out. But, be warned, you may have to bring it to every last family gathering from now on!

Snicker Salad

6 Granny Smith apples

6 regular sized Snicker Bars

16 oz tub of cool whip (found in freezer section)

Chop up snickers and apples in small bite-sized chunks. Mix in bowl with entire tub of cool whip.


Enjoy the angels singing and the adoration of your family and friends.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving or Grocery Derby??

I have just returned from my weekly grocery shopping and being that this is Thanksgiving week, I know it would be crowded. The experience reminded me of a blog I posted last year before Thanksgiving. I hope you’ll forgive me this ‘re-blog’ but it’s exactly what I’d want to say today. I’d love to hear about what you’re in charge of for the feast and recipes are always appreciated.

As a teaser – I’m going to post a family recipe on Wednesday that is not remotely WritersButt approved but I bet you’ll forgive me that too!

The bird my sister got for our 2012 Thanksgiving Feast

It’s Thanksgiving time … or is it more like grocery store roller-derby?

You know what I mean, that special time before a major holiday when the masses become possessed.  When there is no greater accomplishment than to out-maneuver that little old lady with the cane to fling yourself on that 24-pound butterball.  In fact, you suspect the cane is fake, brought along to increase her chances of hedging you out of the way of the canned cranberries.

I don’t know about you but I find shopping during this pre-holiday mania kind of fun.

What’s curious about this is that at any other time, if someone so much as pauses in front of the diced tomatoes I’m muttering, “Don’t you know what you want? Have a plan woman … let’s keep movin’!” And Holy-Heavens-to-Betsy on the person with bags and bags of frozen peas-n-carrots and they’re rummaging for more, their cart blocking my way to the brussel sprouts.  I just want to tell him, “Dude, I’m sure they’ll restock by spring and you have enough to last you at least that long.”

So you’d think that the aisles jammed with people and their holiday meal lists would annoy me.  Nope.  I get swept up in the fun of it.  I check out peoples’ carts.  When I see cans of sweet potatoes and bags of marshmallows, I know what they’re bringing.  A cart loaded with bags of breadcrumbs and cans of chicken stock – she’s bringing the stuffing!  And oh my goodness, the excitement over that prize turkey!

My grocery store (HEB) rocks! They hand out samples all over the place … even gourmet cheese and wine. (I KNOW! Awesome right?)

Funny thing is, I’ve never made a turkey.  Thanksgiving has never been at my house.  It’s always been at my mom’s, or my mother-in-law’s, my grandma’s and now my sister’s.  I don’t host Thanksgiving, so I’ve never baked the turkey.  But like most families, we all bring stuff.  I’m always in charge of the mashed potatoes.  I tried to get out of it this year but my husband said my brother-in-law, Bill, would have a heart attack if I didn’t do the mashed taters.  So, fine, 10lbs of potatoes and a pound of butter went into my cart.  (Yeah, they’re that good!) I’m also in charge of the veggie tray because I always want fresh vegetables to nosh on.  Update: In addition to mashed potatoes, this year I’m bringing a huge pan of roasted veggies (sweet potatoes, beets and parsnips) and my husband is making the family Snicker Salad. There will NOT be anything left in that bowl.

My sister-in-law is bringing the canned cranberry because that’s what she likes, still in the shape of the can so she can see the ridges.  My husband’s uncle bakes pies so there are always at least two of those. My mom always brings the ‘party potatoes’ and the booze. (Yay Mom!!) My mother-in-law makes the most amazing chicken tamale stuffing.  I’ve heard that she’s not bringing it this year but is instead bringing potato salad (because Lord knows we don’t have enough potatoes coming!) and chopped liver.  (Um, not sure what short of madness this is but I’m trying to have a Thankful heart and I will not pout over the missing tamale dressing, not too much.)

So dish! Are you in charge of a specific recipe every year? Do you host the meal at your home?  Share what YOU’RE bringing to the Thanksgiving Feast!

Also I’d like to wish for all of you the most Blessed Thanksgiving!  I have met so many new people lately on the net that I want you all to know that I have such a full and grateful heart! I wish for abundant joy and laughter for all of you!

{Group Hug}



WritersButt Wednesday – “Weight-Loss Soda” Crazy Talk!!

You’re in for an extra treat today folks. You see, this was going to be a short WritersButt Wednesday post. I was going to give you an easy and delicious recipe and send you on your way. But then, my good friend of awesomeness, Myndi Shafer, shares a link on Facebook that, well, let’s just say there was quick contact with my face and my palms.

That’s just crazy talk!

Hang on while I pull out my soapbox. It’ll just be a sec … need the big-daddy-box for this one.  Portable one (pull) not nearly (push) sturdy (shove) enough (kicks into place and jumps up) for what I have to say.

Whew, I’m ready.

Holy mother of all that is merciful and ridiculous! Are you kidding me? No, of course they aren’t kidding. Why? Because Pepsi is smart and opportunistic.  They know people are desperate for results and yet not quite desperate enough to make some sacrifices. They absolutely know people want to drink their beloved crap in a can soda. And they also know that people want easy. They want the magic pill or in this case ‘ingredient’. Pepsi knows they will make money.

I think it’s safe to say we all know soda is unhealthy. But now, well maybe, we can drink ‘this’ soda and lose some weight and isn’t losing weight healthy?

NO, it isn’t. Eating clean, natural food is healthy. Moving your body and breaking a sweat is healthy. Drinking water is healthy. Consuming a drink laden with chemicals and high fructose corn syrup and yes, even aspartame (etc) in diet sodas, is NOT HEALTHY, ever. It’s not that you can’t ever drink a soda.  Just know that it’s not a healthy drink. Keep it real.

A sheep in wolf’s clothing

Ok, let’s see what this Pepsi Special claims to do from this Yahoo Health article.

“Simply called Pepsi Special, the caffeinated soft drink has the added ingredient dextrin, a natural water-soluble dietary fiber derived from potatoes. … Pepsi claims that dextrin slows the absorption of fat in the body by binding with it and eliminating it as waste, not reserving it as empty calories.”

(see Ginger’s eye twitching)

And then the article says, “Japanese commercials touting the product’s effectiveness for weight loss even go as far as to ask, “Why choose between a hamburger and a slice of pizza? If you choose Pepsi Special, you can have both!”

(see Ginger pinching bridge of nose)

You’ll have to read the entire article but here are a few more zingers (all from same source) that stood out to me:

chances are your stools won’t be [solid] if you overindulge

destroyed a substantial amount of valuable nutrients

gave junk-food junkies more than they bargained for in terms of eliminating the additive

frequent diarrhea, gas, and bloating—would be overwhelming

“Pepsi Poop.”  

Who doesn’t want to get in on this deal? Woo … sounds awesome. Not.

I am relieved that the article does indeed warn readers that this might not be the best option for weight loss. They state,

“…still contains high levels of sugar in the form of high fructose corn syrup”

And finally say,

“And believe it or not, the best method to successful weight loss remains diet and exercise, not by gulping a popular soft drink with a secret ingredient.”

The voice of reason!

Listen, I know there are a lot of people who love their soda. It’s a tough drink to give up. I don’t have a problem if people want to drink their soda, knowing it’s not healthy. It’s their choice.  What kills me is someone drinking this Pepsi Special thinking that it’s a healthy weight loss choice. It isn’t. It’s asinine.

It reminds me of those shape/fit shoes. If you like the look of those shoes, wear them. But please don’t believe they are going to give you a rear-end like Kim Kardashian “…without ever setting foot in a gym.” That’s not logical and it’s not true.

So many people go from one gimmick, program, ‘diet’ after another and they don’t work because they are not lifestyles, they are products. Shakes and pills and eating only cabbage and tomatoes are not lifestyles. But people will continue to keep searching for the ‘secret’ when the answer is not a secret at all.

Eat real food that is not processed. Drink tons of water. Be active. Sleep. Be grateful.

The good news is that if you do those 5 things above, even just 80% of the time, giving you that 20% for your treats and indulgences, you will still be healthy and fit.

I’m going to give you all a recipe for a healthy and delicious dinner. Then I’ll need some help schlepping this soapbox out of the way. ~huge grin~

Recently, that same Myndi Shafer who launched me into this rant, (thanks, Myndi, I feel much better now) blogged about Happy Hausfrau: Easy Peasy ‘Italian’ Chicken and Veggies. I thought it looked fabulous and easy, so I made it, tweaking it a little for our needs and tastes.

Ginger’s version

2 packages of all natural, hormone-free chicken breast (at least 8 breasts)

Sweet potato


Brussel Sprouts

a poblano pepper

Seasoned everything with olive oil, kosher salt, pepper, dried minced garlic, smoked paprika, chili powder.

Chicken and veggies before their trip to the oven

Into the oven, covered, at 350 for an hour and found out it wasn’t even close to being cooked. Cranked up the temp to 425 and it finished within another 30 minutes. Maybe because I had a lot of chicken and my brussel sprouts were frozen, it took longer. Next time I’ll start with the oven hotter.

For a treat, I uncovered the dish and sprinkled shredded parmesan cheese over the top and let it bubble and brown under the broiler. Voila!

Who doesn’t want to dig into that?! YUM

My family gobbled this up. My husband may have drooled. Fortunately it was over his own plate.

You have to try this one. It’s so good and you can put in any veggies you like.

The way elections SHOULD be won!

I Voted! 2012

In the aftermath of this week’s presidential election, I’ve had some thoughts swirling around in my head. More thoughts than ‘I’m so incredibly glad that it’s over and some semblance of goodwill and joy can return to social media … or any form of social interaction for that matter.’ I’ve been thinking about what a total waste of money and effort campaigning and election fundraising are.

The fact that I’m even blogging about politics and elections is shocking. (Those who know me, you can get up off the floor. No need to be so dramatic.) It’s safe to say I can’t stand the topic. I never have. Pretty much the entire political arena is a turn-off for me. I like to associate with people who talk straight and honest. Who say what they mean and mean what they say. I do not believe you’ll get that from any politician. Call me jaded. Call me cynical. It’s what I believe.

Something my husband said as the election results were coming in was how sad it was that so much money, like millions and billions of dollars, were raised and spent on the various campaigns. And for what?  I wonder if any campaign ads or efforts the politicians did with that money changed your mind about whom you would vote for?  Did it?

In this Huffington Post article, it shows what else that money could have funded, things like, nearly half of FEMA’s budget, near universal primary education in 2015 and one month’s mortgage payment for 6 million Americans.

In the end, you will have one who wins and others who lose. And billions of dollars spent by each of them telling the world what they think we want to hear so we will vote for them.

What really gets me is all that money is spent in the effort to tell you what they are going to do. How they will makes things better. How they will make a difference.

It makes me sick when I see ‘so and so spent 3 million …’ I don’t give a figgity-do about what a person raised to get into office. Now, if that same person raised 3 million and funneled it directly to the northeast in the wake of Sandy, well, I might care a bit more. If a politician’s passion is the national debt, raise a billion and apply it where your passion leads. Be helpful. Be active. Be good!

Make a difference NOW!

Here’s how I think campaigns and elections should be run. I believe each candidate can and should raise funds all they want. Raise loads and loads of money. And then use that money to do what they say they are going to do. Don’t tell me what you’ll do after you move into the oval office, or take a seat in the senate … do it now. Prove it. Before Election Day, the American people will get a report on each candidate. We’ll see what they accomplished with their funds. We can then vote on the candidate we feel did the most, or managed to make the biggest difference in areas important to us.

There’s a lot of talk about our debt, the economy, health care … well, the campaign is the time to address those things with the funds being raised. I’d love to see who makes the biggest difference, the most positive impact on our nation.

Perhaps this will give more power to 3rd parties as well. Anyone can step up to the plate. Anyone can get creative, think outside the box. I mean, the candidates need to be in an all-out battle to out-good each other.

In the end, we will still have a candidate who wins and the rest who will lose. But we’d also have a whole lotta good accomplished in the effort. American wins on all fronts!

The only way I’m going to ever get into politics is if it fosters more good will than bad. More positive than negative. When it’s more constructive than destructive. Until politicians turn into Superheroes, I’ll just stay out of the game and remain hopeful that the human spirit will remain strong and that we are indeed a nation of people, with hearts and souls and the power to do good by each other.

WritersButt Wednesday – Onion and Honey Save the Day

Welcome to another WritersButt Wednesday where I talk about all things fitness and nutrition related and improving the mind-body connection to improve your overall health and boost your creativity.

Nothing puts a crimp in your creativity like being sick. With the winter months approaching, we’ll be spending more time indoors, houses shut up tight to keep out the cold, sharing each other’s cooties. In addition, people don’t eat as healthy during the winter months, consuming far more sugary treats, which suppresses the immune system and introduces all sorts of unfavorable side effects.

Tip: Your best defense against getting sick is to keep to the WritersButt course. Clean eating. 100 oz water daily. Physical activity throughout your day. Fresh air!

But getting sick is inevitable. My daughter just got over a case of parainfluenza. It started with fatigue and a sore throat moving into a fever of 101-102 for 3 days and full laryngitis for 4 days. (It was VERY quiet around Casa Calem) While she didn’t develop a hacking cough, when she did cough, it had the dry, barking sounds associated with croup.

Being that I have three children, ages 12-16 years, this was not my first trip about this block. I stocked up on ibuprofen, throat lozenges robitussin and poor-baby food. But Delaney just whispered one request, “Honey-Spoon”.

Let me explain. When our oldest was little and needed to take Dimetapp for allergies, we’d give it to him in those medicine syringes. It didn’t take him long to associate that syringe with yucky stuff. One time he needed antibiotics for an ear infection and he was not cooperating in the least. In the effort to trick encourage him, I told him he could have some on a spoon with yummy juice. (or chocolate, or soda … anything!) He was young enough that this sounded like it might be something fun. Ha! From that day forward, we’ve referred to meds as ‘spoon’ in our house. Allergy-spoon. Cough-spoon. Fever-spoon.

Onion, Honey, Lemon

But ‘Honey-Spoon’ or ‘Onion-Spoon’ is indeed special. It is a homemade cough syrup using onion, honey and lemon. It truly works. It does not taste bad. It’s cheap. It’s real food that heals!

ONION: Has antibiotic and anti-inflammatory properties. Also been found useful as a diuretic and as an effective expectorant (this would make it helpful for fighting coughs, colds and flu bugs). In addition, onions contain thiosulfi nate – a sulphurcontaining compound that reduces bronchial constriction. They are also mucolytic, reducing the viscosity, or thickness, of mucus, allowing it to be eliminated more easily.

HONEY: offers incredible antiseptic, antioxidant and cleansing properties for our body and health. ((Warning – do NOT give honey to any child under the age of 1.)

LEMON: control Blood Pressure, purifies blood, reduces swollen spleen, and strengthens immune system as it has vitamin C, B, B2, calcium and iron. It protects your body against germs and bacteria.


Cut up a large onion in big chunks. Throw in a glass or plastic container that has a lid. Liberally drizzle honey all over the onion. Squeeze the juice of a few lemons over the mixture. Cover and wait.

Drizzle-Drizzle that honey

Over a few hours, the honey will extract the juice from the onion. I stir or shake up the container from time to time. I will add more honey if I feel it looks too dry. Eventually, you will have lots of ‘syrup’ at the bottom of the container. You may remove the onion chunks or strain it. Normally, I just tip the container and dip a spoon in there to fill up a medicine cup measuring a few teaspoons. Can be given every few hours. (2-4 tsp for adults every couple hours or 1-2 tsp for children every few hours.) Once you have a good ‘syrup’ in your container, store in the refrigerator and use within a few days.

This syrup will help loosen congestion, ease coughs and soothe a sore throat.

Helpful Tip: The unfortunate thing is that when onions are cooked, most of the beneficial effects we get from onions are greatly reduced or even lost during the cooking process, so you should eat them raw whenever possible. Some have even suggested juicing onions and adding two to three teaspoons of honey to the juice as a way to maximize their beneficial potential. This juice, taken for a period of about three weeks, will reduce the length and severity of a cold, the flu or other virus. A good buying tip is that the smellier and stronger the onion, the more potent its healing properties are.

Helpful Tip: Another great old-school trick to help with croup, you know that dry, barking cough, is steam. In our house, we use the smallest bathroom, put the shower on full heat and sit and read in there (on the floor or a stool) until the hot water runs outs and the steam dissipates. We even put a towel at the base of the door so no steam will escape. It’s also helpful to rub vapor-rub all over the chest and neck. (I’ve also heard that it’s beneficial to follow the steam treatment by going out into cold air immediately after. If it’s warm where you are, head into the freezer it is!)

Last Tip: Regarding Vapor Rub. You can make your own Vapor Shower Disks. I think making a bunch of these and having them on hand would be great throughout the winter! Thanks to Myndi Shafer for finding me that great link!

Speaking of Myndi, I’m making a version of her “Italian” chicken and veggies tonight for dinner. My stomach is already rumbling for what is to come!

Whew, that was a lot of tips and info. Anyone else have any at home remedies that you swear by for common ailments? I’d love to hear them.

AND – since we are not all children in this house, I’ll take all those hot-toddy recipes! Who’s got the best one?

Can your dog tell time?

As we all know, we just had our ‘fall back’ in daylight savings time where we got an extra hour of sleep.  There were status updates all over Facebook about how this was fallacy if you had children.  Of course, they meant small children because let me tell you, teens sleep right through that extra hour and try to raise you another.

I’d love to say that we sailed right through this clock-shift. But enter Toula …

Toula – 1/2 Airedale 1/2 border collie

Isn’t she pretty in her furry glory?  She’s super talented too. She can tell time. In fact, the older she gets (she’s closing in on 10 years old) the more accurate she is. Her stomach is run on a clock so precise, Swiss watch-makers weep in envy.

Here at Casa Calem, Toula likes to be fed shortly after 6 am and on the exact dot of 5 pm, or earlier if she can trick you into not believing the time on your cell phone. The time calculated by the big satellite from Zeus himself.

If you are late in the morning, she will cry. She’s not above it, even though it’s embarrassing to be sure. To her credit, she’s subtle about it, at first. A little squeak on her exhale. A low moan thrown in for emphasis.  If ignored she will throw a big, furry paw up by your face, you know, as a reminder that someone is forgetting the time. Far be it for her to be pushy.

A sheepish Toula 😉

In the evening, her gentle, sweet reminder, well, isn’t so gentle or sweet. She smacks her paw down on Gia’s purple melamine dish so that it flips into the air and clangs back onto the tile. There’s no ignoring that folks.  Once she’s flipped it a few times, she’s collapse next to it as if on the very edge of her survival and sigh, loudly!

I have this thing about being told what to do by a dog. I feel like I should be the boss. In the past I’ve attempted to teach Toula a lesson. I tell her, in my most patient parent-voice, “For every time you whine in my face, I’m going to add 10 more minutes to the time when I will feed you.”

She never listens. Why doesn’t she get it?

When we finally approach the bag of kibble, she will thrust her head in there as if to make sure we’re getting it right. Like we’re going to accidentally scoop out something different from the large yellow bag on the floor of the pantry.

She has no faith!

Needless to say, Toula has been Miss Bossy Boots the last few days. She would like to protest the changing of the clocks and institute a new mandate. Live life through the clock in your stomach and make sure the humans tow the line.

Anyone else have pets bossing you around?

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