Packing Up and Moving Away from My New Roots

I know, I know. You thought I had stopped blogging, huh? Nope. My mom always told me that if I couldn’t say anything nice, I shouldn’t say anything at all. Oh, I’ve been saying plenty for my contract blogs and sites but, personally, I would’ve just griped had I actually opened up my blog dashboard. I finally feel like writing something…more for me than for anyone else.

As a military family, we’re accustomed to moving and even accustomed to moving to practically the middle of nowhere (hello, Ft. Leonard Wood, Ft. Knox, Ft. Riley, and Ft. Rucker) but the darn manager told Eddie we were headed to one of our top picks in the Southeast only to assign us to Ft. Hood, TX. I have nothing against Texas per se but, by golly, I was looking forward to some good job opportunities, tons of education options for Zoey, and (yes) some world class shopping spots. Instead we’ll be at least an hour if not more from anything “me.” After looking at school reviews in the Ft. Hood/Killeen area, it’s a safe bet to say that I will find a way to homeschool (and I am against homeschooling as a whole) before I’ll enroll Z in one of those. So here we are.

So besides the letdown of moving, I’ve realized that I do kind of like it in St. Louis. Even my tiny house is pretty nice when I consider what we’ve gone through here. I brought a new baby home here. I lost a baby here. I learned how to tile and put down flooring and decorate. And I learned to put down roots. I’ve made friends, which is NOT something I can usually say. It’s my fault 100%, but I break up with friends (totally without telling them) every single time I move. I promise to write, I promise to call. Then I disappear. I don’t want to lose track of some of my St. Louis peeps. They helped me through all the said events above.

This one is going to be a toughy. My realtor will be here in a few minutes. I’m ready but I can’t say that I’m really happy with everything this time. And I will get over it and move on but for now I’m already missing these small moments in this place I never expected to live to begin with. Maybe I’ll be saying the same about Texas in a few years?



Cheesecake Update

Well, this is a first. I always, and I mean always, overcook my cheesecake, leaving a Grand Canyon-sized crevasse in the top. Besides just feeling defeated, it’s really no big deal with my Chocolate Amaretto Cherry Cheesecake recipe because the top is covered in a thick layer of cherry pie filling. But I know, and it drives me crazy. The cheesecake-baking gods were smiling on  me yesterday ’cause this little gem came out perfect! I would say that I’m so proud of myself but it was a total fluke, I’m sure.

So, here it is… cracks!

A (Marginally) Healthy Chocolate Cheesecake Recipe Just in Time for Valentine’s Day

Remember back in the ’90s when “low fat” and “no fat” meant something was good for you even if it had cups of sugar and sky-high sodium? Okay, we were sorely wrong about all that but the trend did give me a pretty darn good cheesecake. I’m talking good by even full-fat, full-calorie standards. Chocolate, Amaretto, cherry pie filling…you really just can’t go wrong. One year Mom made it for Valentine’s Day and the tradition caught on. I’ve made it every year since. I must be totally dedicated, too, because it really should be made the day before you want to eat it. And so here I am, racing to finish my freelance work before I pick Zoey up at daycare all while constructing the Chocolate Amaretto Cherry Cheesecake that I’ll dive in to this time tomorrow.

I thought I would share the recipe here. As you peruse the ingredients list, I can promise you’ll be shocked because this puppy has cottage cheese in it. I hate loathe detest cottage cheese by itself but here it’s pretty unrecognizable. It takes the place of bricks upon bricks of cream cheese, and while you aren’t going to get that silky cream cheese cheesecake texture, it isn’t exactly gloppy like cottage cheese (we’ll call it artisanal since that term seems to mean coarse in terms of texture these days). Oh, and you’re going to need a good food processor. A mixer will mix but the food processor delivers the very best artisanal texture.

Since I’m in the process of making my own, I’ll be back later with pictures. Let me know if you try it!

Chocolate Amaretto Cherry Cheesecake

1 1/4 c. graham cracker crumbs
3 tbls. white sugar
1/3 c. melted margarine

1 1/2 c. light cream cheese
1/4 c. flour
1/4 c. Amaretto
1 c. white sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. salt
1 egg
1 c. low fat cottage cheese
1/4 c. plus 2 tbls. cocoa powder
2-21 oz. cans of cherry pie filling

1. Pre-heat over to 350 and prepare 8-inch springform pan with non-stick cooking spray.

2. Mix graham cracker crumbs, 3 tbls. white sugar, and melted margarine.

3. Pour into springform pan, spread, and compact to cover the bottom.

4. Bake for 8 minutes. Cool. Turn over down to 300.

5. In a food processor, add cream cheese, sugar, cottage cheese, cocoa, flour, Amaretto, vanilla, and salt. Process until smooth.

6. Add egg and process just until blended.

7. Pour mixture over cooled crust.

8. Bake at 300 for 65-75 minutes, or until set. (If the top cracks, it’s overdone.) Cool.

9. Cover and chill 10 hours or overnight.

10. Spread cherry pie filling over cheesecake, remove springform pan sides, and serve.

Becoming a Barre Fly…Again

When I was 3, I began what turned into a life-long love of dance. Once a week from 3 until age 16, I went flying up the steps at the Gail Herring School of Dance and then Chelle’s Dance Studio (after Gail moved) with tap, ballet and jazz shoes haphazardly thrown (with love) in a navy blue tote bag. Admittedly, about all I did the first year was hang from the barre like a little orangutan, but later I began to appreciate the grace and strength dancing gave me. Even when I became a chubby teen, I still had killer leg muscles and rock-hard abs. You couldn’t see them with a few pounds of tub but they were there.

The crazy thing I’ve learned is that despite being thinnest in my adult years, I’m much less toned than I was as a dancer…even when I was chubby. And that’s why I picked up Xtend Barre off Amazon. Both running and walking are good for me and I do enjoy it but ballet is just zen. That ache you get where your hamstrings meet your gluts after 50,000 plies? Heaven in muscle fatigue form.  Even the ab session was divine because it wasn’t just a crunch here and there. It was intense and yet comfortable all at the same time.

The result? Great! I am a big believer in muscle memory both because I know it is physiologically possible and because I’ve seen it work on my own body. I completed one (yes, 1) 55 minute session of Xtend Barre on Monday. Talk about feeling it! I generally have defined arms but they looked even better the next day. Best of all, I had great posture without much effort because I had forced myself to pull in, tuck under and lift up long enough to remember how to do it.

I’m of the opinion that a great fitness routine is NOT built upon a single method of exercise. This is going to be the one I go to when I don’t feel like exercising. If you’ve been a dancer (and even if you haven’t), this may be a great option for flexibility and strength. If you try it, let me know what you think.

Been Up in the Gym Working on My Fitness, Or Day 7 of Skechers GOrun

Okay, so I couldn’t resist the Fergie song reference. I’m a card-carrying hard rocker but who doesn’t love a little Fergie sometimes?

Today marks day 7 with my Skechers GOruns. I absolutely adore them! One of my concerns had to do with barefoot running, and the possibility of funky shoes. This is so not the case. I’ve been on the treadmill every single day during my trial and they are as fresh each morning as they were on day one. So there goes that concern. The shoes are actually molding (not like the fungus) to my feet. They seem to fit and feel even better with each wear. They don’t look quite as factory-perfect now but they conform beautifully to my feet. Oh, and I have yet to wear a blister or hot spot. Unheard of, I tell you!

Here’s the best part: my knees don’t hurt at all. I mentioned last week after my first run that I didn’t have knee pain that day. I’m 7 days into it and still don’t have knee pain. I’m actually of the opinion that they perfected my stride, which has reduced the pain. I really did feel it in my Asics the day before I started this trial but not since. Perhaps this is TMI but I’ve had hormonal aches and pains (sciatica with shooting pains down my leg, hip pain, etc) since I was pregnant three years ago. During that hormonal window each month, I’ve generally been in pain since I started my foray into running. I’m still feeling some aches in my hip and back but the other pains that are exacerbated by the run are much less this month. I hate to sound like a snake oil salesman but I’m starting to wonder if it’s the shoes. I think I’ll know for sure after a couple of months of this. If it’s the GOrun style that helps, I’ll be a Skechers athletic shoes convert for life. Testify, right? (Insert goofy smiley emoticon.)

So nothing but glowing reviews so far. Along the same lines, I finally fell for the Zumba hype and ordered a set. It got here today. If you can stand another product review, look for one soon. Oh, and I also bought the Barre Method. I had outstanding gluts when I was a ballet dancer. I’m hoping it will bring some 15-year-old perkiness back to this 30-something physique.

Toodles for now.