25 Things About Me

1. I’ve lived in Pennsylvania, Florida and North Carolina.

2. My husband and I met on the internet when I was 20. He was a Brit living in England at the time. We’ve been married for nearly 11 years.

3. I have a 7 year old Westie who I can’t imagine life without.

4. I have a huge crush on David Tennant.

5. My first concert was Steve MIller Band.

6. I taught myself how to crochet and now I am addicted to it.

7. My mom is my hero.

8. I think everyone should be born with a million dollars.

9. I started working when I was 13 years old.

10. I have one tattoo I got when I was 18 years old. (On my calf – two dolphins in a yin-yang.)

11. I have books in nearly every room of our house.

12. I’ve had my hair dyed over 20 different colors.

13. I love Japanese and Indian Food.

14. I met a rockstar.

15. I’ve been to 5 different countries.

16. I sometimes think I’d like to run away, live off the land and sell berries on the side of the road.

17. My first car was a 1978 Oldsmobile.

18. I have a guilty pleasure of boy band brit pop.

19. I’d move to Australia in a heartbeat.

20. My perfect afternoon would include antique shopping.

21. I like football and Hello Kitty.

22. I don’t know my left from my right.

23. My dream job would be a professional photographer.

24. I know far too much about Formula One racing.

25. I can’t read a map and, because I can’t tell my left from my right, when I use my GPS I still get lost!

Two in One recipe – Easy Oatmeal Pancakes and To Go Oatmeal Muffins

Last week I created an awesome Easy Oatmeal Pancake recipe that’s healthy, quick and satisfying.  Ever since, I’ve been thinking of ways to repurpose the recipe to be able to take with me on the go.  We have a road trip coming up next month.  I’m trying to plan out food to take with us as well as food to bring and prepare while I’m at my sister’s house so that I’ll be able to stay on plan and not slip up while I’m there, which I’ve been known to do… many many times.  Most of my diets have failed due to the delicious (and fattening) food back home!  So today I’m sending out to the CrazedVeggie Universe both the original Easy Oatmeal Pancake recipe as well as the revamped To Go Oatmeal Muffins recipe.  Enjoy!

Easy Oatmeal Pancakes
(Serves 1 = 9 Weight Watchers PointsPlus)  *I know this seems high but trust me, you will be so satisfied you will skip the mid morning snack!*

3/4 cup old fashioned oatmeal
3/4 cup egg whites (In a carton, refrigerated section of the grocery store – buy them and keep them on hand at all times.)
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 packet (tsp.) stevia

Combine all ingredients in blender.  (It’s important to blend them so you have more of a true pancake consistency.)  Heat a non stick skillet on med/high heat.  Scoop 1/3 of pancake batter onto the skillet and cook for 2 minutes or until edges start to brown.  Flip and cook for another 2 minutes.  Recipe makes about  3 sand dollar sized pancakes.  Top with sugar free pancake syrup and eat them up!

To Go Oatmeal Muffins
Makes 8 muffins – 5 Weight Watchers PointsPlus for 2 muffins)

1 cup old fashioned oatmeal
1 cup egg whites
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 packet (tsp) stevia
3 tbsp. sugar free maple syrup
2 tbsp. ground milled flaxseeds
1/4 cup almond flour (in organic section of most grocery stores)

Preheat oven to 350F.  Combine first 6 ingredients in blender.  Once blended, transfer to bowl and stir in the almond flour.  Line a muffin tin with 8 paper baking cups.  Pour batter evenly into each cup.  Bake for 11-12 minutes or until top is firm to touch.  Allow to cool.

To Go Oatmeal Muffins

To Go Oatmeal Muffins

*Disclaimer —  This isn’t your traditional “cakey” muffin.  They are a bit denser than a typical muffin, but they are a great way to rock your oatmeal on the go!*

I’d love to hear your variations.  Remember, none of my recipes are set in stone.  Cooking and baking should be a constantly changing process, we never know how something is going to turn out unless we try it.

The muffin recipe had 3 attempts before I found one that worked!

5 PointsPlus lunch

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Yesterday was weigh-in day and I’m proud to say I lost another 3 pounds! I seem to have a good handle again on what I should and shouldn’t be eating.

Today’s lunch is my 5 PointPlus mega lunch! To make the flat-out chips just take one piece of flat-out light original wraps, spray with a mist of water and sprinkle with whatever seasonings you prefer (I like garlic powder), then pop in a 350 degree oven until crispy. So easy and great to dip into hummus!

Cucumber = 0PP
Carrots = 0PP
Cantaloupe = 0PP
Hummus = 2PP
Tomato with fat free cottage cheese = 1PP
Flat-out chips = 2PP
Total = 5PP !

This is an awesome power lunch, packed with 20+ grams of protein!

I’m also using my iPhone to post for the first time. Definitely not easier but nice that I have the option to do so.

Love to Japan.

I want to extend my thoughts and prayers out to the people of Japan as they go through this trying time in their lives.  In thinking of just the right thing to say, I came across this and thought it fit perfectly.

“There is a saying in Tibetan, ‘Tragedy should be utilized as a source of strength.’
No matter what sort of difficulties, how painful experience is, if we lose our hope, that’s our real disaster.”                                                          –Dalai Lama XIV

There are many sources out there where you can help.  Yahoo has a great article that makes it very easy to donate.  Please do what you can.

A friend of mine living over there posted on Facebook that even blankets and clothing are helpful.  In searching the internet for places for donations, I ran into this website:  Crochet-A-Rainbow.   They ask for crocheted granny squares that they then make into blankets.  The project has been sending blankets over to Australia after their devastating floods and are planning on sending to Japan as well.  This is a wonderful way to use up stash yarn and contribute to helping someone else!  I’m planning on crocheting up some squares this afternoon to send out, hopefully you’ll do the same!

Here we go again. A new start!

So I know a couple of months back I said I was going to start the blog back up, then did one post and that was about it.  This time I really am going to start it back up.  Not sure which direction I want to take it because I haven’t really been doing the bento boxes much lately but I feel like the few followers I have might not be interested in much else.  Let me tell you where I am right now with everything.

I have gained all the weight back that I lost.  I was up to 60 pounds down and I feel like such a failure to say out loud that I gained back 60 pounds.  Looking back I’m not even really sure what made me do it.  We bought the house and moved, and during that time it was a lot of snacking, late dinners and pizza delivery.  I blame no one but myself because at the end of the day, that was over a year ago and I had plenty of opportunities to get back on track, but I never did.  I also found myself moving into a deeper depression, realizing that I was so many miles away from family and not having anyone here.  Sure my husband is here and I love him with all my heart, but there are other relationships and company that I enjoy.  One being my mom in FL and the others being my sister and her family along with my dad in PA.  And here we are smack in the middle.  It’s tough.  Because of the depression I had felt the need to not only eat my cares away, but also developed a bit of agoraphobia.  I didn’t want to leave the house unless I had to, I didn’t want to work, I became a hermit.  It wasn’t the person that I knew I was.  It wasn’t the person that I wanted to be.  I’m still slowly starting to get out of the depression and one thing I decided to do was to join Weight Watchers.  I wanted to lose weight and to meet people.  That was two weeks ago and so far it seems to be working great.  I lost 5 pounds in my first week, I’m not scared to go to the meetings thinking that people are going to judge me.  I’m hoping that this will help me get out of the place that I was in and get me on the right path.  Anti-depressants can only do so much for you.  I’m not really one to go pour my heart out to a therapist either (that’s what the internet is for right?).  I know why I feel the way I do, and it always comes back to my weight and me not being happy with myself.  Time to change that and love myself again!

As for the blog, I found it to be such a great outlet for my creativity the first time around, so I really want to get back into doing it.  I’m not sure if it will be bentos or recipes and what’s working for my weight loss, or just a place where I can let out how I feel about things I’m going through.   Maybe it’ll be a combination of all those things!

I hope that I still have some support out there because this is going to a long journey, but I’m ready to start over and get the ball rolling!

-CrazedVeggie, Tracy

Homemade shumai dumplings

It never fails that when I become infatuated with a food the stores are bound to quit selling them.  My recent letdown has been from Trader Joe’s who stopped doing their vegetarian/edamame shumai.  I loved these little things but all good things must come to an end, even if they continue making their pork and chicken versions!

Well, thanks to Maki over at JustBento, I found an awesome recipe for vegan shumai dumplings.  She made them look so easy to make and all the ingredients were easily found at the asian market, so I decided to give it a go.  You can find the recipe on her site here.

I took her advice and got all my ingredients together and sat in the living room making them on the coffee table.  Forming them took a bit of time to get right, but once I had the technique down it took me no time to make a total of 20 dumplings.

Once I was done forming the dumplings, I opted for the pan fry/steam method of cooking them.  I added oil to the bottom of the frying pan to heat, then added my shumai.  I let them fry on the bottom for about 3 minutes then added boiling water to the pan to cover the dumplings halfway then covered to steam for 10 minutes.  They came out perfectly.

We enjoyed these in bento boxes for dinner along with stir fried noodles and vegetables, inarizushi and dragon fruit grenata (so easy, find my recipe here!)  It was a nice and refreshing dinner and we had plenty of shumai left over for snacking on!

Dragon Fruit Grenata

This recipe is so uber quick and easy and adds just a little bit of pizzazz to dragon fruit.  It’s a great palate cleanser or dessert on a warm day.  Not to mention the fact the dragon fruit is packed with fiber and antioxidants!

Dragon Fruit Grenata

Serves 2

1 dragon fruit (sliced in half and fruit scooped out)  Save the skins intact!

agave nector or organic cane sugar to taste

1 tsp lime juice

1 tsp lime zest

extra lime zest, lime slice or mint leaf (optional)

1.  Put dragon fruit skin halves in freezer to serve grenata in.  This adds visual appeal as well as keeps the dessert cold while serving.

2.  Add all ingredients to food processor or blender.  Transfer mixture to bowl and put in freezer.

3.  Stir the dessert in the freezer every 30 minutes until an ice mixture forms and grenata is set.

4.  Transfer to fruit halves.  Garnish with extra lime zest, lime slice or mint leaf.  Enjoy!





Feeling inspired again!

I’m starting to feel inspired again to start back on the blog.  I have no real reason for ending things the way I did except for feeling overwhelmed to come up with ideas and I kinda got burned out.  I stopped into the Asian market yesterday and realized how much I missed the whole bento creation.  I plan on starting back soon, so if I do still have any followers I’d love to hear from you for motivation!  In the meantime, watch this space!

Where the h*ll have I been?

BUSY! We bought a house! As exciting as that may sound, it’s been completely exhausting. We went out on the first Saturday of May to look at about 6 houses. We just wanted to get a feel for what was out there and never thought we’d find anything to make an offer on, but we were wrong. The last house we looked at, we immediately fell in love with. We thought about it for the rest of the weekend and decided to make an offer Sunday night. After going back and forth with the sellers, our offer was accepted on the Monday and then started our process of pure hell.

Starting with the inspection. We knew we were buying an older home that had dated wallpaper, popcorn ceilings and hideous paint colors… but we never imagined the items that came up on the inspection report. The electric wasn’t up to code, the HVAC unit was 20+ years old and leaking air, there were gas leaks and the chimney was pulling away from the house. We immediately went into panic mode! We went to the sellers with a list of items that needed to be repaired. This ended up being practically everything that was on the inspection report!  Might as well as for it all and go from there, right?

We loved the house, but we were also ready to walk if the major repairs weren’t going to be done. It’s a buyers market right now and if they didn’t want to do the repairs, we knew we could find a house that didn’t have massive cosmetic work that needed to be done as well as somewhere where the fireplace wasn’t going to end up falling into the house at some point!

The sellers were difficult to work with.  Example:  There were electric receptacles that were loose and we asked them to have them tightened by the electrician since he was already going to be there to do other work, their response was (and I quote), “Buyer is welcome to tighten these receptacles as desired after closing.  Seller will leave a screwdriver in garage for this purpose.”  Seriously?  Are we 12?  Pete’s response (equally as immature), “Buyer reserves the right to withdraw offer if work not completed by a qualified electrician and purchase house which does not require integrated screwdriver in order to ensure correct electrical operation and safety of family and pets.”  (lawl/smiley face, I love my husband!)

They originally told us the GFCI outlets weren’t in the house when they bought it and they weren’t going to have them installed now. Well guess what, the house was built in 1986 and GFCI’s were required on homes in North Carolina as of 1975 (gotta love Google!).  So Mr. and Mrs. Seller, that would mean that the electric in your house is not up to code and if you don’t fix it for us now, you will have to disclose it to other potential buyers. They decided to get it fixed.  Your chimney not being structurally sound isn’t going to help you sell the house any faster either.  They fixed that too.

Cost them over $3000 for repairs, so good thing we had an inspector that was so thorough because we need that cash to remove the disgusting popcorn ceiling and 1980′s flower wallpaper that someone once thought was a wonderful idea.  Not to mention the painted over pale green grass texture wallpaper in the living room.  The 1970′s hospital look was apparently very popular those days.  We had the ceiling tested for asbestos as well, which they didn’t like.  They thought we were being too picky.  If there are other items in your house that are not up to code, there is nothing that says the contractor who originally built the house didn’t spray your ceiling with 10 year old material.  Luckily for them there was no asbestos in the ceiling, unfortunate for us because we now will have to remove it ourselves since it falls under the “cosmetic” category now instead of the “could kill us” category.

So now that everything is over with the arguing back and forth about who’s going to fix what and whether or not a screwdriver is required to sell the house, it’s nearly ours.  We close on Thursday and I can not be happier to be done with these people!

Needless to say, we will be spending every waking moment for the next few months taking down that disgusting ceiling, removing wallpaper, painting, sanding, sweating, swearing, yelling at eachother, bleeding, getting drunk, eating too much, going to the hardware store every 5 seconds, crying at bank statements and then more swearing.  Following it all up with a great big sigh of relief, a feeling of accomplishment and adding massive value into a house that we brought up into the current decade all on our own.  All in all, we’re looking forward to all of it!

As for the bento blog, can’t say when I’ll be starting it all again.  I’m hoping it won’t take too long to get back into some sort of a routine.

As for all the repair work and house stuff, I’m going be updating our personal website with info on the renovations.

May the force be with us…

Bento #40 – Tortellini Salad

Oh my.. this was so good!  Thanks for bentolunches (Flickr) for the cute picks and the yummy candies.

Finally went grocery shopping the other day. Trader Joe’s now has gelatin free gel cups! WIN!

(I didn’t iron the fabric…. Fail.)

Box 1:  Cheese tortellini salad  Box 2: Strawberries and carrots, Cottage cheese.  Side items:  No gelatin gel cup and strawberry choc candy

Box 1: Cheese tortellini salad Box 2: Strawberries and carrots, Cottage cheese. Side items: No gelatin gel cup and strawberry choc candy