Chocolate cakes – trying a HEALTHY version!

I’ve been trying to embrace this health craze. Less fat, more protein — pancakes, waffles, cakes – NOTHING is the same anymore. Lately, the talk of the town is the Kodiak Cakes brand. Different people I spoke to were raving about their high protein pancakes. Delicious and kept them full until 1 pm. Of course, I asked, “What are you talking about?”

I like to eat pancakes / waffles occasionally, so was not up to speed on this Kodiak Cakes brand. Turns out, Kodiak Cakes, has been around since 1995. The company was started by Joel Clark based on his mother’s buttermilk flapjack mix. They are located in Utah. Due to funding the company was slow to take off, but now it has and it’s the latest craze.

It’s an interesting story, you should read about it. Joel Clark was even on Shark Tank in 2014; however, he did not accept a deal with any of the Shark Tankers. That show though introduced his product, people were interested and sales took off at Target. 14 grams of protein per serving does sound good, right!

I bought a box of Kodiak Cakes and made pancakes. I have to say, they had a great chocolate taste. This chocolate mix though, I felt was heavy and the texture was more like a cake than a fluffy pancake. I found a recipe for using the Kodiak mix to make little muffins. I decided to make mini cakes instead. They are cute looking, but the recipe I used was not good. The texture of the cakes were so dense. I went by the reviews and they were saying how “fantastic” their muffins were.

Imagine a cake with these ingredients (too much protein): 1 cup Kodiak mix, 4 eggs, 1 cup unsweetened applesauce or 4 smashed medium bananas. Mix, cook at 350 until done.

Baking is about experimenting. We win some, we lose some, but we don’t give up.

I’m on a quest to make these little cakes healthy and delicious. I just need to fine-tune the recipe.

If you haven’t heard of Kodiak Cakes give them a try. They have all kinds of flavored mixes. You can’t go wrong! High protein, just add some fruit, light syrup – you’ll be in breakfast heaven!

When a Moose means a lot!

Moose memories. For over 30 years, every September my father went moose hunting in Canada. He’d be gone three weeks in the wilderness with either my brothers or friends. That was a highlight of his year. Two months before he left, he’d go shopping for groceries to bring on the trip. He’s start pulling out his hunting gear, etc. It was a big ordeal, all of us helping to pack up the truck.

We then would eat moose meat ALL year. The moose burgers were good, but if we heard my Dad yell to my mother, “Pull out a moose roast for tonight,” we ran to visit our friends. Moose roasts were so dry and gamey tasting, just AWFUL! My Dad wised up to this tactic of ours and would say, “EVERYONE will be home for dinner tonight!”

My Dad liked to play pranks on his buddies. Since we had a lot of moose meat, he would give some to his friends. One year he had the hoof of the moose, wrapped it in the white paper that the butcher shop uses and wrote “TENDERLOIN” on it! Gave it to his friend and waited. It took a few months, but you can imagine when his friend called. He sure was mad, his poor wife was unwrapping the “tenderloin” package and found the hoof. She was NOT amused and did not want anymore moose meat from my Dad.

When we were kids we’d have our friends over for dinner. They were excited about having hamburger and french fries. We would stare at them as they ate their burger and keep asking, “So, what do you think? Do you like the burger?”

They would say, “YES, it’s really good!”

When they were finished eating we would tell them they had just eaten a moose burger. At first they looked at us and said, “WE WHAT???” You just had a moose burger. Wasn’t it good! They had to agree, moose burgers were good.

Now my Dad is in his 80s, going moose hunting is too strenuous for him. So, of course, there is sadness to this. I know my Dad misses going. A surprise happened at the store. LOOK, what I found — A MOOSE PLATE!!

I smiled. My Dad would look great at the head of the table for Thanksgiving with his very own MOOSE PLATE!

So, he will have a BIG SURPRISE this year. I hope he likes it as much as I do.

He’s got to smile… RIGHT!!

In Australia a peony blooms… snow comes to Chicago

Winter is coming. Actually, it’s almost here. I think we will get our FIRST snow in Chicago today. The first snow is always exciting and beautiful. Then the shoveling and slipping on ice starts (laughing). While I was “thinking” about this, a friend sent me this BEAUTIFUL picture of a peony.

The message was… Thought I would brighten your day. We are having summer, but your winter is starting.

So true, beautiful flowers still bloom when we have winter. I remember falling in love with the Bird of Paradise in Hawaii. What a special flower, it does look like a colorful bird.

How about the orchid. I fell in love with this too. Growing up in the Midwest, we didn’t have exotic flowers. When I moved to California that’s when I started seeing amazing flowers. They say you can see Angels inside the orchid. What do you think?

So, we end the week with a smile and gratitude.

A BIG thank you to my friend for brightening my day with the PINK PEONY.

Have a great weekend!

Rhode Island – Providence

On the way to Providence, our flight was in line to take off. I looked out the window and took this photo. So many planes in line and pretty close together. Looked beautiful. Upon landing, I saw this map that shows how close other well known cities are. So, depending on how much time you spend in Rhode Island, you can travel quickly to Boston, New York, etc.

As Rhode Island is on the water, I saw this gold ship on the top of one of the buildings.

We walked over to Brown University and saw their Mascot, the brown bear.

Along the way, saw this house. You can see the style is so different, so took a photo. Not sure of the significance…

Another interesting house. I liked the BLUE doors, but they don’t seem to fit with the style of the house.

I was reading in the Brown University newspaper that these scooters have become a big deal for Athletes. Since they have so many practices and would be walking 1-2 miles between class and practice, they were getting worn out. So, some of them started using these scooters. Then more started using them, while they can be dangerous in traffic, the athletes said it was worth the risk.

Here is an old bank, now that looked like a fortress.

Here you can see the river…

The Rhode Island trip comes to an end. Providence is small. We did walk the street where they have the Italian section. Being Italian, I would like to jump up for joy, but I was not impressed. It felt like a run down area, so that was sad. They did have my favorite cookies from Italy, but expiration date was June 2021. How fresh do cookies stay after expiration date? I passed.

I did meet a woman who had moved with her family from Southern California to Rhode Island. She said she LOVES Rhode Island. Simpler way of life, not so materialistic and she liked the change of seasons.

So, if COVID is holding you back from International travel. Take some small trips close to you, it’s worth it! We had fun!

Rhode Island — Signs from Heaven

Sometimes we realize we have signs from Heaven! When I was in Rhode Island, I kept finding Lucky Pennies, then two quarters. I have not found lucky pennies in a long time. I found it strange to keep finding money like this in the oddest of places.

THEN I realized, signs from my cousin in Heaven. She died this summer of illness / COVID. What’s important here, is that she went to Rhode Island School of Design. Here I was in Rhode Island walking where she walked for four years. Once I realized this, my HEART grew so big. When I would find another coin, I would think, “OK, YES, I’m looking at your beautiful city.”

I always have this blue pouch in my purse with my Angel, so I kept adding the coins I found to the blue pouch.

Another strange thing happened. The day I was leaving, I found two lucky pennies in the airport. One was RIGH UNDER the seat where I was sitting. My cousin saying, “Good Bye.”

Stranger… the next day, I found out her father passed away while I was at the airport.

Life is interesting — signs, coincidences?

I don’t know, but I do feel a sense of comfort at this moment. Might be silly to some, but to me, it’s a loving sign!

Be open to signs that might come to you for whatever reason or purpose! They do come!

Rhode Island – Sunset on way home.

I’ve always wanted to see Rhode Island and this was the time. I traveled with my daughter, we stayed in Providence and took a day trip to Newport. TRAVEL TIP: Take the bus from Airport to the city – $2 / bus versus $35+ / Uber. We also took the bus to Newport about one hour 15 min ride. Again, $2 per trip versus $60+ / Uber. Can’t beat that and it was a pleasant bus ride driving through the different cities along the way to Newport.

I REALLY liked Newport. It’s on the water and has the most amazing homes, shops, etc. In fact, on our way to the Cliff Walk, I found an Irish shop and bought this cute hat. You can see a view of the Cliff walk too.

This huge home is The Breakers. Cornelius Vanderbilt II built this as a summer home between 1893-1895. In 1994 it was declared a National Historic Landmark. It’s now a tourist spot with tours, owned and operated by the Newport Preservation Society. The Society agreed to let the Vanderbilts live on the third floor, which is closed to the public. It appears in 2017, the Society wanted the Vanderbilts out. After 120 years of living there the Vanderbilts were told there were issues with electrical/plumbing, etc.

So many articles, hard to keep up with the latest. I will leave that to YOU, if you are interested. BUT there is an article stating that Trump bought The Breakers for $112M, plans to turn it into a casino? That would be sad, I hope not. This is such a beautiful area, why have a casino there.

This house is next door to The Breakers.

Many homes are hidden by bushes, so you cannot see them. In many ways, this walk reminded me of parts of Ireland on the cliffs and also the weather was sunny, then shady like it might rain.

There are a lot of nice shops down by the marina. Shop owners said they really suffered last year during COVID, not sure if they could stay open with no tourists, hard to pay the rent, so some places closed, some remained.

It’s a BEAUTIFUL area. I’d like to go back and stay a few days in Newport, explore that area more.

Happy Halloween Birthday — You know who you are!

I was visiting a friend, we went walking and saw FUN Halloween decorations! Some houses were really creative. It makes walking more interesting.

GUESS WHAT — I have a friend whose birthday is on Halloween!

So, a BIG SHOUT OUT TO Maura. If she’s reading, she’ll know I’m thinking about her.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY! MAKE IT FUN!

And if YOUR birthday is on Halloween… Happy Birthday to YOU too!

Diners… American Breakfast – the BEST!

This past weekend, I was in the mood for a “real breakfast.” I mean a little bit of everything. There is something wonderful about going to a diner, they still have that old fashioned feel. Simple and full of choices.

When I got there I knew exactly what I wanted. Although, if I go to The Original Pancake House in California, I like to order the 49er pancakes, they are huge and bit chewy – wonderful! They are probably crepes, just made larger.

Back to my diner experience, I went for the usual… scrambled eggs well done (my mother used to make them so runny, I could not eat them), bacon or sausage, toast and pancakes. I KNOW, this is why they say Americans are fat. So true, this meal is really for two people, I could not eat it all. Mainly, I like the variety. So, too bad they can’t offer one egg, one slice of bacon/sausage, one slice of toast and two small pancakes, right! Anyhow, I wasn’t going to complain, this is what I wanted.

Oh, when I got to the diner, there was a line. So, I put my name on the waiting list. To keep myself busy, I got the menu. Laughing, everyone is line was eyeing each other. I mean, what else do you do, when you are waiting, right.

There was a man next to me, it appeared he was with his wife. He decided to be flirty. I wasn’t too keen on that. His wife looked grumpy. He asked me HOW I got the menu. REALLY – the menus were on the counter in front of us. To try and shooooo him away, I said, “There they are, but here you can have mine, I’m done with it.”

To which he said, “So, what are you going to order?” He leaned into me like an eager puppy to look at menu with me.

WHAT??? Wasn’t that his wife next to him??

This guy was an expert at trying to pick someone up. I didn’t like it!

So, I politely looked at his female companion, smiled, said I had not decided AND moved away.

I HOPE that wasn’t his wife. Awful to have a husband like that.

GOOD NEWS – they did not seat me next to them. Thank goodness or my dining experience would have been ruined.

Instead, I was next to a family with a little girl who was loud and super talkative. She must have been two years old. Then another family across from me. The little boy kept talking about coloring his monsters, looked like he had a coloring book.

So, I had a delightful dining experience!

Photography – A rabbit poses…

By chance, I became a photographer. This rabbit ran in front of me and then stopped in the bushes. Of course, I wanted to get a better look at him. As you see, he had his back to me. He wasn’t afraid, but definitely hesitant of my presence.

I took the first picture, which was a back view. Playing photographer, I wanted to see him more from a side or front view. After waiting for what seemed like an hour for him to move, not really, but it seemed that way. I politely told the rabbit that seeing his derrière was not the best photo. It would be nice if he could turn toward me a little bit for a front view.

I kid you not, as soon as I said that and moved just a little that made a noise. The rabbit shifted his stance to a side view. Laughing, that was the BEST he was going to offer. I took my photos, thanked him and went on my merry way.

Ah… it’s nice to see a rabbit when you are not expecting it.

Have a great weekend!

Halloween – How do YOU write your SPOOKY story?

A spooky typewriter. I LOVE this! I’m sad it’s not real!!

When I saw it, I immediately thought how perfect it was. In fact, as it has a page in it already, I thought of this old dusty piano my grandfather had that played music by itself. This would be similar.

Imagine you get up in the morning, depending on the keys you hit, the typewriter starts typing! You sit with your coffee, feet kicked up on the desk, reading the newspaper. What a glorious morning. Typewriter makes a cackling sound when story is done. You rip off the pages. THEN – Off to the editor!

My girlfriend’s birthday is on Halloween. She’s been doing research on her Irish family. They have some haunted cemeteries there. She could use this typewriter to RECORD family history. What do you think?

I HAVE SOMETHING BETTER. Although, if she survived the heart attack on opening the birthday box, I’m not sure we would still be friends. Imagine my fright, when I was “innocently” looking at Halloween stuff, turned TOO QUICKLY and saw this boa constrictor.

Oh my gosh — I DID JUMP BACK!! Realized it was a FAKE, then said a few… well, BAD WORDS!!

So, I decided neither of these were quite right.

The search continues… I did see a HUGE purple spider in someone’s yard. It had googly eyes. FUNNY!

I enjoy seeing the decorations. Some people go ALL OUT with their Halloween decorations & costumes.