Thursday, April 29, 2010

Gluten-Free Cracker Recommendation!!

If you are a gluten-free consumer, then you may already know about the CrunchMasters collection of gluten-free crackers. We just discovered them at Sam's Club recently. I am giving you a link to the crackers from
We bought them at Sam's, but if you can't get to one, then Amazon is the next best place to get them. We use them in place of chips for eating salsa, as a side to go along with a sandwich and a cracker with cheese or peanut butter. They are wonderfully versatile and I HIGHLY recommend these crackers.
While our home is not necessarily a gluten-free home, we try to eat as gluten-light as possible. Mostly, because my body does not do well with lots of carbs of the "white" variety. One thing I've learned is that gluten-free can be just as tasty, if not more so, than regular white flour filled foods. :)
Hope you try them and let me know if you do! I would love to know what you think of them!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

If At First You Don't Succeed.....

......try, try again! When I signed into Blogger today, I realized that I haven't posted in 10 days! I told myself I wouldn't let the blog go anymore...yet, here I am....

There hasn't been anything terribly exciting to update you on. My arm is doing great. I can't put much for pressure on my hand but I am noticing a lovely lack of pain when I am writing, crocheting, knitting, typing.... I am working my way back into cooking. I can cut veggies and fruits but I still cannot cut chicken. It takes a particular torque and pressure that I just can't achieve in my present level of healing.

I am discovering that not every dish I create for supper is a hit. Take the Chicken and Wild Rice soup I made for supper last night. I had boiled down a deli chicken carcass, removed the bones and peeled the meat off of the bone and threw it back in the broth. Then I chopped some celery, carrots and onion and threw it in. I added about a cup of wild rice, maybe a little more(?). Flavored it with some basil, thyme, pepper, garlic salt and rubbed sage. Thickened it with a little corn starch and milk. Added about a 1/2 cup of milk and 2 tbsp butter to the pot and called it good. Hubby and I loved it. Daughter gagged down a bite and son wouldn't touch it with a ten foot pole. Go figure. I just had a leftover bowl for lunch that was just as good as last night. lol

However, the chicken (or chicken/black bean) enchilada recipe that we have been messing with has been perfected and the kids beg for those! All you do is cube up about a pound or so of chicken breasts and cook, in a decent sized skillet, with about 2 tbsp olive oil, a chopped onion and about 2-3 cloves of minced garlic. Then, you add to the pan 1 little can of diced green chilies, an 8 oz cream cheese cubed or cut into strips for easier melting and 1/2 a can of nacho flavored cheese (this is my one processed food item I just can't give up yet). Mix until smooth. At this point, you can either add a can of drained and rinsed black beans, or leave it as is. Then, spoon a small portion into warmed (wrap in tinfoil, put into 325 degree oven for 15 minutes) 6" corn tortillas, roll and place seam side down in a sprayed or greased 9x13 pan. This should make you two pans. Pour a can of enchilada sauce on EACH pan. So if you have two pans, you'll need two cans of sauce. Sprinkle generously with cheese (we like sharp cheddar). Leave uncovered and cook at 375 for 30 minutes or until hot and bubbly and cheese begins to brown a little at the edges. This has become an absolute favorite food in our house. I don't know why I ever thought enchiladas were hard to make!! lol My hubby has had to make the last few batches, though, cuz of the inability to cut chicken. I'm sure he'll be happy to hand the job back to me. :)

I've been working on knitting some coffee cup cozies. I started with this pattern. Mine does not turn out as cute and tight as hers. Mine is all loopy on the bind off. So I sort of redid it to suit me. Here's what I came up with:

Knitted cup cozy
material: less than 2 oz of yarn, 7dpns

CO 40st, join to make circle
row 1: k1, p1
row 2: inc, continue in established pattern around.
row3-16: repeat rows 1 and 2 ending with 48 stitches
row 17-18: purl each st around
BO in purl. Cut, leave long end for winding.

I will try to post a picture of it soon. It's sort of cute. :)

Ok, I think that's all I have to blather on about for today. Let me know if you try any of the recipes. :)


Monday, April 12, 2010

USAPL National High School Powerlifting Meet 2010

Most of you know that Stefani, my daughter, is a powerlifter. If I had more time, I would post about each of her meets this year. You may not want to read it, but I like to brag. :) However, I do NOT have that much time on my hands. So I will just share with you the best and hardest fought meet of her season. The USAPL (United States Amateur Powerlifting) National High School Powerlifting Meet was held in Wisconsin Dells this year at the Kalahari Resort. It was an amazing weekend!

Stefani had her work cut out for her. As much in her mind as anything. We found out just before the meet that there was going to be a girl in her weight class at JV that we didn't think should be allowed to lift there due to her age. We made this "assumption" based on the rules that the USAPL had listed for the competition. Apparently we were wrong and this girl was allowed to compete against Stef. C'est la vie! She had to get herself mentally prepared for this. The other things she had to over come were the fact that she had decided to lift in the bench competition without the assistance of a bench shirt. It can increase the bench by 50-100 lbs depending on how well you let the "tool" work for you. She never got comfortable with it in her practices and felt overwhelmed by the possibility of having to compete with it on. So she made the choice to lift "raw". The last thing to overcome was the fact that when her weight class started...she missed her first squat on a technicality. This can be a hard thing to come back from. If you bomb all three squats, you scratch on the whole competition and you have just come all that way for nothing.

She came back from all of the things she had to overcome with shining colors! She ended up taking first and is the 198+ USAPL JV NATIONAL CHAMP! I couldn't be more proud of her!
The thing that made me the proudest was something she told me after she had won. She was in the back waiting to see what the last two girls were going to do. If either of them got their last deadlift, they could take first. And Stef would end up in either second or third. She prayed and said "God, if this is what you want for me, then you'll make it happen. If not, then I'm ok with second. I'm really ok with it." She felt as though she had done the very best she could and gave it over to God. I hate to say that God made a team win at football over another team, or anything like that. But, I will say that my daughter had favor. The second to last lifter was able to increase her lift in the last minute to a weight she could not lift in hopes of taking over...and missed it. The last lifter wanted to increase her lift in the last minute to a weight she knew she could get...and would have won...but the head judge had called "bar loaded"...and she couldn't get her lift increased. Luck or Favor of God? Call it what you want...I call it favor.

1st Pic: Stefani, Cassy, Morgan and Tyler. The four freshman that made to it National's from our school. The girl's all took the Championship in their respective weight classes and Tyler pulled out a fourth, when by all intents and purposes should have been on the bottom of the list.

2nd Pic: Stefani seated on the National Guard Orange County Chopper. My cousin, Isaiah, is a recruiter for the National Guards. He, also, helps coach a powerlifting team in Mauston. He helped with the National Meet and requested the Chopper to have at the meet. All of the Champions had their picture taken on the bike.

3rd Pic: The family. Teo, Tony, Stefani and Me. Tony is an assistant coach on Stef's lifting team.

4th Pic: Stefani's last squat. 140kg/308.6lbs She nailed it.

5th Pic: Stefani's second bench. I think it's 125lbs. Can't remember the kilos. She missed her last bench for 132 lbs. She did lift 130 at State. The most amazing thing to me is that Stefani lifted raw and almost out benched the other girls that wore bench shirts. Next year, she will be wearing a bench shirt and she is going to ROCK!! When she does use it, she benches somewhere around 180-ish.

6th Pic: Stef's second deadlift. I got a really bad pic of her last deadlift that was 308.6. I was cheering so much, I forgot to take the picture of her lockout. I think this lift is around 300-ish lbs.

7th Pic: Stefi on the podium. :) I couldn't have been happier for her. She worked SO HARD!!

Next time, I'll be better about posting about her lifting competitions. She and her brother and Daddy are back up in the gym tonight to start her summer training schedule. It will be Teo's first season in powerlifting next year. Tony wants to get him over the 'whining' that will occur as he learns how to squat and deadlift, etc. And Stefani has the goal of seriously increasing her raw bench, so that when she does wear her bench shirt she will blow everyone away. She wants to work on her squat too. She is going to have a title to defend next year in Corpus Christi, Tx. :)

Homemade Granola

Home Made Granola
by Elizabeth Mareno 2010


6 Cups Rolled Oats
1/2 Cup Honey
1/2 Cup Canola Oil. (I'm sure you could use less, this is my preference)
1/2 Cup Rough Chopped Raw Walnuts
1/2 Cup Rough Chopped Almonds (blanched or peel on...your preference)
1 Tsp Vanilla Extract
1 Tsp Almond Extract
1 Tbsp Cinnamon
1 Cup Raisins or other dried fruit of choice

Place your oats and nuts in a large mixer bowl.

Put the honey, oil, cinnamon and extracts into a small pot. Warm until honey is loose and runny and the flavors are well incorporated. Then slowly pour the liquid into the mixer bowl while using the large paddle. I find that it sticks less. :)

Once you have all of the wet and dry ingredients incorporated, spread a portion of the mix very thin on a large, greased cookie sheet. You will have to do this several times to make it through all of the oat mix.

This picture is just a freebie. lol. It has no purpose, I just wanted to show you an example of the size I leave my walnuts. I take a portion of the mix before I add the nuts and cook it separate for my daughter...she's not a nut-lover.
Then put the pan in the oven for 20 minutes set @ 300 degrees. You can cook it longer to get a crisper granola. At 20 minutes, there is a bit of a "chew" to the oats. Don't get me wrong, they are crisp after cooking (It crisps as it cools)...but, once you start adding any moisture to is chewy. If you find you don't like this texture, double bake it. I have done that and it has enjoyable results. OR just avoid the double-baking and bake it about 25-30 minutes watching to make sure you don't burn it or get it darker than you like.
After your granola is cooled completely. Add your dried fruits of choice and store in an air-tight container. Our house is not hot, so I leave it on our counter. I've heard some others say to store it in the may have to see what works for you.
This granola makes a lovely cereal, yogurt topping, fruit topping, name it. I leave the fruit out and use it in any recipe calling for a "granola cereal" cookies. :)

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Carpal Tunnel Repair

Well, I have gotten my right arm's carpal tunnel repaired. Just gotta say, it's not something I'm looking forward to for my left arm. Even though they say I should....??

It was a 12 minute procedure. The longest 12 minutes of pain I can remember. The doctor had to keep shooting my arm up because I could keep feeling it as he was cutting my arm open. The tourniquette hurt like *BLEEP* and by the time he was done, I was just ready for him to cut the whole arm off just to stop the pain. Yes, world, I am a wuss!!

Friday and Saturday were a blur of narcotic laced pain killers. By Saturday afternoon I was thoroughly sick to my stomach. My husband put in a new ceiling in my living room and I slept for hours on the couch in the middle of the room. He could've dropped ceiling dust and cooties all over me (and probably did) and I would never have noticed. I do not do well with codeine, so it seems. Sunday I was pretty proud of myself for breaking my addiction (tee-hee-hee) and going to church "clean". (I do not mean to offend anyone dealing with addictions. I know they are horrible things.) Then I spent the rest of day asleep. A four hour nap and I was more than ready for bed that night.

Monday...enter in the frustration. I am wearing a cast of sorts on my arm to restrict the mobility of my wrist while it heals. I have trouble cutting things, feeding myself, writing, typing, etc. We won't even get into the adaptations my personal hygeine has had to undergo. Today is Tuesday. I am at work today. My arm is absolutely exhausted from the funky position I have to hold it in to do anything. I never realized that my ENTIRE job consists of lifting heavy, awkward things, writing, typing and working a mouse. My co-worker has graciously said she will work for me Thursday. And I get this vile thing off my arm next Tuesday. Thank GOD!!

So, with all of that.....they say I should get my left arm done because it was in the same condition my right arm was in. I am afraid that when I see my doctor on Tuesday next, that he will suggest scheduling the surgery.

How do you nicely say.....Not a chance, bucko!...??