Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Coconut Brownie Cookies (2015:4)

When my mother-in-law decided to get rid of cookbooks last year, I took Brownie Mix Bliss from her, deciding to give some of the recipes a try.  Camilla Saulsbury has written quite a few books and I own her Power Hungry....though I haven't made much out of it.  I tend to buy cookbooks and never use them.  Sigh.

I love her recipe from the brownie book for Big Brownie Cookies.  They're decadently delicious and even Mr. Higgins - not the biggest chocolate fan - adores them.  This past weekend, when I was craving chocolate, I turned to Camilla and her brownie mix recipes once more.  

When I saw the Coconut Macadamia Nut Cookies, I was intrigued.  I love I decided to leave out the nuts and make Coconut Brownie Cookies instead.

1 19.5-19.8 ounce box brownie mix
1 2/3 cup sweetened coconut
1/3 cup light coconut milk
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 large egg (I used egg substitute)
1/2 cup chocolate chips (my addition because I love chocolate)

Toast the coconut until fragrant on a foil-lined baking sheet (no non-stick spray required) for 7-8 minutes at 350 degrees.  

Mix other ingredients, adding the coconut once it's out of the oven.  

Drop by level tablespoonfuls on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, 2 inches apart.  Bake for 10-13 minutes or until just set.  Allow to cool for one minute on the sheet and then transfer to a wire rack.  

These cookies were very tasty.  They didn't knock my socks off like the original Big Brownie Cookies...  But they're the same in chocolate-y goodness + coconut.  So yum!  

Monday, March 30, 2015

Week Two: Peak 10 Challenge #3

After eating too much last weekend, I'm ready for some serious workouts this week!

Monday: Pure Cardio + yoga

I woke up with a mind-numbing headache this morning so Pure Cardio was more difficult than it should have been.  I made it through with my skull still intact, thank goodness, and then downed copious amounts of Excedrin.  Yoga was good but I think it aggravated my already sore back.  I'm getting really frustrated with the back pain!

Tuesday: McLean's Unleash Your Inner Strength + Amy's Skills and Drills + weights

Today it was time to take it down a notch.  These two workouts are perfect together.  McLean gets your heart rate up and then takes it down, up and down.  Amy alternates kickboxing with bursts of cardio - jumping rope and jacks.  All this got me sweating in no time!  And it was easy on my back!  At lunch, I did weights at the rec.  It was not fun but I got through it.

Wednesday:  Anytime Anywhere No Excuse Workout + yoga

I was dreading this workout, as always.  But I got through it and did better than last week.  I still modify the burpees and will continue to do so as long as my back is iffy.  At yoga, I asked the instructor about my back and she let me use a foam roller before class.  It felt great.  I may do that before each class!  Thankfully, she went a bit easier on us and gave us a good stretch with some movement, but not too much.

Thursday:  Dozois' Total Body Cardio + Strength on Glo + BodyFit 360 Vol. 3 - Athletic Conditioning

Today I needed to do some weights so I turned to Michelle's workout on Glo.  It alternates cardio and weights with four sections of each.  One part, she has you on the floor in single-arm plank and then you raise up to your arms and go back down to the elbows.  This one is always tough for me but I get better and better.  I had a work lunch so no workout.  I got home a bit early so I did the cardio in Athletic Conditioning followed by a 10 minute stretch.  It made me feel better after eating not so great at lunch.

Friday:  Ellen Barrett's Grace and Gusto + walk

It was time for something light this morning so I turned to Ellen's new workout.  It's low-impact and full of side stretches and plies.  Very nice!  At lunch, I went to the rec and walked the track.  I did some good stretching, too, since I was super sore for some reason.  Also, some ab work to round out a 30 minute lunchtime workout.

Saturday: Peak 10 Cardio Interval Burn - Fat Blaster + Amy's All Around Energy 

After eating a bad dinner last night, I was ready to burn some calories.  A new workout from Michelle got me super motivated.  The CIB Fat Blaster is a lot of fun.  I was clueless on a few moves but quickly picked them up.  Michelle is just so innovative!  After an hour of that, I wanted 20 more minutes of some low-impact cardio so I turned to Amy's workout on Glo.  That was fun - lots of squats, lunges, plank work interspersed with low-impact cardio.  It was nice to finally do a longer, 10-minute, stretch after all this!

Sunday:  Peak 10 Cardio Strength - Fat Blaster + Ilyse's Groovy Dance Party

Another bad day of eating yesterday....ugh.  I chose to do the Fat Blaster CS again to get more familiar with it.  It's definitely fun - and tough.  There's a section of floor work in the last circuit that gets me every time.  I warmed up and cooled down with Ilyse's dance workout, which is fun.  So, I did an hour and twenty minutes of cardio plus ten minutes of stretching and ab work.  I love weekend workouts!

Calorie Counts:

Monday - 1292
Tuesday - 1262
Wednesday - 1247
Thursday - 1518
Friday - bad
Saturday - bad
Sunday - 1289

Good news!  My thyroid levels are now normal!  So, no change in medication this week - yay!!  Bad news - no change in weight either.  I know I haven't been eating as great as I could be so I guess it's good I haven't gained anything.  I'll just focus on that positive.  

Now that I'm normal, I'm hoping my body will figure out that it can go back to behaving as it used to.  Please!  

Friday, March 27, 2015


Sometimes I forget just how lucky I am to work where I do.  It's definitely the prettiest, most maintained, greenest place on this side of the Metroplex.  And I'll be the first to admit that, over the years, I've been ungrateful and have taken it for granted.

Spring is such a beautiful time on campus, too.  The tulips are bursting out from under the pansies...everywhere!  The squirrels are so excited and they make me smile every single morning.  

Sorry for the digression.  Sometimes I have to step back, reflect, and count my blessings.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Fiber Fest 2015

For the third year in a row, I had the pleasure of attending the local Fiber Fest with my knitting buddy, CS.  We had a blast, as usual.

And, per the norm, I spent way too much money!  I went into it allowing myself one purchase. And then three yarns called my name.  Sigh.

There were two big trends this year...

--Perfect self-striping yarn, like this from Fishknits.

Yes, I bought some - it's the yellow/gray/dark gray skein.

--Gradient yarns, like this from Freia.

No, I didn't buy any and have regretted it every day.  ARG!  I'll have to get some online  in the near future.  There's a purple shawl in a gradient yarn just calling my name!

It was a super fun outing with a good friend.  I can't wait until next year!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Week One: Peak 10 Challenge #3

My second Peak 10 Challenge ended in November so I'm due for another one!  And the timing couldn't be better: 10 weeks until the next cruise and hopefully close to honing in on the right thyroid dosage.  

Monday: PeakFit Pure Cardio + yoga

I really enjoy Pure Cardio so it was fun to get back into it this morning.  It's like a Cardio Interval Burn but without the peaks - so just a tiny bit less intense.  At lunch, I did yoga at the rec but our teacher was sick and we had a sub.  She was not nearly as good and practically yelled at us the entire time.  Ugh. 

Tuesday: Dozois' Tip Top Shape

Since I do weights at least once a week at the rec, I'm skipping the Pure Strength workouts in this Challenge.  I'll do weights at the rec instead and one weighted workout in the week, like today's.  This workout combines cardio and weights and I love it!  Despite not doing consistent cardio, the weights keep my heart rate up throughout.

Wednesday:  PeakFit Anytime Anywhere No Excuse Workout + yoga

I knew today's AA workout would be a killer and it was, though it wasn't quite as bad as my mind had built it up to be.  But going from cardio to the floor and then back up for the "peak" move is difficult anytime.  I got through it, modifying only the burpies for another high impact move.  At lunch, our instructor was back for yoga.  She made us work but it felt good.  I just wish she had let us stretch more.

Thursday:  Ilyse's Full On Cardio Blast + McLean's Attack Your Metabolism + weights

This was supposed to be my "rest" day (when I do BodyFit 360 or yoga or something) but it looks like a workout will not be an option on Saturday, making that a real rest day.  I'm bad about taking real rest days so it's good to have them forced upon me now and then.  I had to reshuffle my schedule and did a lighter workout today.  Ilyse's workout surprised me: I did not remember the amount of non-stop running, jumping, and skipping she does in this one.  Dang!  McLean's workout was a level 1 so I amped it up a bit, jumping and running when he stepped.  At lunch, I did weights and walked a lap.  

Friday:  Peak 10 More Cardio Interval Burn

My rest day tomorrow means a CIB today.  This was my first CIB and still one of my favorite workouts ever.  It's so much fun and feels so good to do again after a long break.  I wanted to walk at lunch but had to go to a work thing instead.  Boo.

Saturday: rest

Sunday: Peak 10 Cardio Strength - Fat Blaster + Ilyse's Groovy Dance Party

A new workout video from Michelle….oh my goodness!!  I was so excited when she put out a new CS and CIB and even more excited when they arrived this week.  After watching the movement review on the DVD, I started this new workout - and it was a lot of fun!  I'll have to do it again before I review it for you - but it's good!  I wanted to get some more work in today so I turned to Ilyse's Dance Party, which is fun and kept my heart rate up.  After 1.5 hours of cardio, I decided to stretch and do some ab work.

Calorie Counts:

Monday - 1280
Tuesday - 1284
Wednesday - 1298
Thursday - 1298
Friday - bad
Saturday - bad
Sunday - 1263

I really wanted to weigh this week but didn't, choosing to wait one more week to let the new meds get into my system.  My mom was in town on Friday and Saturday; then I met a friend for dinner on Saturday.  I ate way too much but I'm to the point of not feeling guilty.  Sometimes, you need to be able to splurge, as long as you don't make a habit of it.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Thyroid Update

It was the beginning of October, last year, when I killed my thyroid with radiation.  Since then, I've been on what feels like a hormone roller coaster.  I guess that's a bit extreme but let's just say that I'm still not back to normal.

I went on medication for being hypo (since I no longer produce a thyroid hormone naturally) in December.  Ever since then, I've been getting bloodwork done every two weeks and then my doctor has tweaked my meds after every bloodletting.  It's been a bit tiresome.  

This last time, I was so close to having the perfect number - 0.  But it was 5.  So, more tweaking, yet another trip to the pharmacy...  Here's hoping this final round of meds is the right dosage.

My main symptom of being hypo is weight loss - or lack thereof.  My weight just....stays.....about 7-10 over my norm.  Given my workout schedule, you can imagine how much this frustrates me.  

I'm tired of going to labs to have blood drawn; I'm tired of the pharmacy; I'm tired of having no control over my body.  Who knew such a little organ could cause so many problems in the grand scheme of your body!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Omelets (2015:3)

Within the last year, my relationship with eggs has taken a dramatic turn.  It started with hard-boiled eggs.  Growing up and in my 20s, the only way I'd eat eggs was scrambled.  But last year, I decided to try to perfect my hard-boiled egg technique and, in doing so, learned that I really like them!

And so I started trying omelets.  Cruising gave me the chance to try them for free and I learned that I really like them, too!  Holy cow!

The next step was learning to make omelets at home.  I tried but kept failing, inevitably having to make them semi-scrambled.  And then a co-worker said to keep the heat low and steady.  Voila!  Those simple words yielded the perfect omelet.  It was so perfect that Mr. Higgins smelled me cooking one and asked, rather sheepishly, if I could make him an omelet sometime.  Wow!

It's incredible just how limited my palate was in youth.  I keep finding more and more yummy things...which is not always good!