Sunday, April 29, 2012

Cooking up a storm!

Pin It This was supposed to be my gym night, but I decided to do some cooking/baking for the week instead :)  I made Quinoa Apple Muffins and Cauliflower-topped Shepherd's Pie.  Both recipes turned out really good!  The muffins are really dense, so maybe not everyone's cup of tea, but I like them.  They are 4 Points+ and I think well worth it.  The Shepherd's Pie...AMAZING!  The bottom was a basic (I think) shepherd's pie - I used leeks (first time cooking with them!), carrots, red onion, mushrooms, green peas, chipotle peppers, ground beef, various spices and then I mixed a bit of flour with some beef broth to give it a bit of a gravy.  Into my 9x13 pan it went.  For the topping, I steamed cauliflower.  Once cooked til soft, I added 1/4 cup light sour cream and blended it up with my hand blender until it was smooth.  Spread this over the top of the beef mixture and bake at 350-375 for about 30 minutes.  Top with 2 oz light cheddar cheese and broil until cheese is melted and bubbling.  YUMMMMMMM!!!!!

Cooked quinoa mixed with dry ingredients
Quinoa Apple Muffins (ran out of regular muffin
liners, so had to use Halloween ones!)
Cauliflower-Topped Shepherd's Pie

Tonight's supper...yummmy....Shepherd's Pie
with raw veggies and Pete's guacamole
on the side :)

Consolation prize

Pin It This week's WW topic was on Be Nice (for a change) yourself.  Basically, don't say anything to yourself that you wouldn't say to your best friend...would you tell your best friend she were a failure for not having lost a couple of pounds?  Um....I have my doubts!  So then why say it to yourself?

Yesterday was my deadline for reaching my ultimate goal.  This was a self-imposed deadline - not one set by anyone else.  I've had enough and it's time to get this DONE!  Sadly, I did not accomplish THIS goal, but I am choosing to look on the bright side of things - I have accomplished many huge goals over these past couple of years:
  1. I have lost 122.9 pounds (as Fiona might say, TWO super models!)
  2. I have gone from a size 24/26 to a size 9/10 (did I tell ya I started wearing a belt on my jeans??)
  3. I have lost a total of more than 86 inches over my entire body (sadly, some of those inches were in places I wouldn't have minded keeping it!)
  4. I have gained a LOVE of fitness.  I look forward to working out and look for opportunities to be more active...going for walks with friends, working out at the gym with friends.  I love zumba, step, walking and even a little bit of running.  Next Saturday I am doing my first ever bootcamp...I'm a bit nervous as "bear crawls" and "bur-pees" have been has getting dirty!  Yesterday I bought myself a hula hoop and a skipping rope...stay tuned for more adventure!
  5. I've learned to like/make new healthy foods and I crave them!  This weekend I am going to do something with the two new foods I bought this week...leeks and artichokes...hmmm, what will I do??  I only bought two tiny artichokes and all the recipes call for larger amounts...I'm just not ready to commit though!

So there you have it...I'm turning this pity party around and refocusing on the ultimate goal.  My friends are right - I WILL get there in time.  I am now 1.7 pounds from goal.  It would be nice to see it this coming Saturday.... my 31 month WW anniversary (and my little brother's birthday!), but maybe it's not fair of me to outshine my baby bro on his special day, eh? :)  Maybe the following week.   My WW leader (Fiona) is looking over my food journal for the past week (yes, I journal EVERY BLT and my fitness) to see where I may be going off course.  We'll see if anything comes of that or if I just have to push forward.

As a consolation prize/runner up prize to myself (since I almost made my goal this week), I bought myself a Keurig!  I wasn't going to buy one...the tiny little ones were still almost $100 and you had to refill them for every single cup of coffee (pain in the neck!) and the next model up was well over $100...and then Walmart had a "sale" on the B40 Elite (the next model up from the tiny one) for $88...but my gift cards I had were for Best Buy, not Walmart...thankfully, Best Buy has a price match guarantee!!!  So after the price match discount, plus 10% of the difference (theirs was $139.99!), and my gift cards, it ended up costing me $45!  I am super excited.  Drinking my Caramel Vanilla Cream coffee right now....ahhhhh  Sorry, just had to share my great deal, even though it has nothing to do with my WL journey :)

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Ask the expert

Pin It Something occurred to me today.  I'm always looking online and in books for new recipes and ideas.  I tend to get bored of eating the same thing day in and day out (except my breakfast...I kinda love that).  Today I realized something though..if you want an idea on healthy things to eat or do...why not ask someone you know who eats in a healthy way or works out what they do?  There really is nothing like a give and take conversation with someone you know to get advice like this. 

I recently asked a friend that I know is a really healthy eater about her intake of carbohydrates because I was curious - do healthy people eat a starch (like sweet potatoes, etc.) on a daily basis?  Or do I just do it because we were raised that way (as I'm sure my entire generation and the ones before were)?  Turns out that she doesn't eat many carbs at all!  These past (almost) two weeks I've been making a conscious effort to reduce my "bad carbs" as I call them - potatoes, rice (not a big deal for me), cracker-ish things and what I would typically call "snacky" foods.  So far it's going well and I don't really miss the potatoes, other than I am finding it harder to get my minimum points (calories) in each day...which is odd to me as I usually have my minimum points PLUS some of my weekly on a daily basis... hmmm, do carbs create carb cravings?  Maybe.... I'm sure I'm not the first person to discover this! 

I guess all this to say that we don't necessarily need books and the Internet to get ideas - they could be as close as your best friend, a co-worker or a neighbour.  When I really think about it, I know a tonne of people who are fit/healthy living people and they are all a fountain of useful information!

Three and a half days left to reach my goal.  I did strength plus running/walking on the treadmill on Sunday and am doing my second strength workout tomorrow night with my friend Amanda.  We've set a standing date for Wednesday nights to workout together, so if any of y'all have any pair exercise suggestions that can be done in the fitness centre, let me know!  Tomorrow is our first go of it :)  Step class last night was brutal and Zumba tonight was a real workout too...I feel like I'm working my BUTT off...I just hope it's literally coming off (or abs...whatever...don't care, so long as it's worth 2.3lbs!!).  Two more workouts before weigh-in, so fingers crossed (and lips zipped!!!).

PS - I just want to add something about exercise here that's not really related to today's post.  Twice this week I've come home in a crabby mood/not feeling great and BOTH times I've gone to class at the gym and come home feeling chipper(er) and happier...endorphins???

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Not giving up yet

Pin It So this was the first week of my two week plan to finally GET TO GOAL.  I succeeded at all of my goals for the week except for two of them, which I let myself down on - eating at the table (did it once and was bored!) and planning my meals in advance...I didn't do so great at this, although I did keep on plan despite this.   I had no bread or potatoes this week, I had one All Bran bar and a few low fat graham crackers.  I upped my protein (lots of egg whites!), I worked out five times and earned myself 45 activity points for the week - weight training, jogging, zumba, step...

Results for the week... a loss of .7 pounds.  Disappointing, yes.  Had not gained 1.2 pounds last week, I would have been happy with a .7 pound loss this week.  I know, I know, it's just a number.  And you're right.  I am hoping that this week coming will reflect my hard work from last week.  I will continue with my plan of action this week and am still aiming to reach goal by next Saturday.  2.3 pounds in a week is do-able I think...I hope!

Here we go....

Sunday, April 15, 2012

It's time to get serious

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It's time to get serious.  I have decided.  Enough playing around.  April is the month that it IS going to happen.  I know I've said before that I am not going to set goals (because I end up sabotaging them every time I do), but enough is enough.  I think I'm getting lazy, laid back and a bit overconfident in this whole weight loss thing.  I feel like I'm almost complacent in this yo-yo/roller-coaster that I've been on and for some reason I just can't seem to break free from it.  It's like I'm on a merry-go-'round and can't get off.  I am going to set some serious goals for myself for the next two weeks and I'm putting them down on paper (virtual paper) so that you all can hold me accountable.  Here is what I pledge to do:
  1. No more BLTs (I don't mean bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwiches)... bites, licks and tastes I think are getting the better of me.  All too often I'll snag one little little candy didn't make me fat after all, did it?  No...but if I do that 10 times a day with different little all adds up.
  2. I will strength train TWICE each week on top of my regular cardio that I already do (step, Zumba, Zumba).  Even if I just do the circuit at the gym - it's more than I've been doing.  I've already got one workout in for this week as I went to the gym with Cynthia last night for TWO hours (probably 40% of that time was spent talking/laughing...but the other 60% legs can tell the story today!  Thanks for a great time Cynthia!)
  3. I will increase my protein.  I don't have a set number that I will increase it to as I don't know how much I usually get (one downside to WW vs calorie counting), but I know I don't eat a huge amount of protein.  In conjunction with this, I am going to eliminate potatoes for at least this week to see if that makes a difference.  I usually eat sweet potatoes, but I think for this week I will replace the points I'd normally spend on them with protein sources.  My "diet" might be a little "Atkins"-ish, but don't worry, I'm not going all out carnivore here!  I will continue with my oatmeal (as I love it and it's great for me!) and maybe bread here and there, but I've never been a big bread person anyway.  
  4. I will try to reduce the number of packaged carbs that I eat (All Bran Bars, crackers, granola bars, etc.)
  5. I will plan my meals ahead of time - packing/preparing my lunches the night before.
  6. This last one is going to be tough.  I am going to turn OFF the TV and actually sit at the table to eat my meals.  I can't recall the last time I did this while eating alone...have I ever done this?  Hmmm, perhaps not!  I will set the table as though I were having guests and will maybe even light a candle or two.
Ok folks, here it is.  My two week plan.  The last weigh in in April is on the 28th - two weeks from yesterday.  That gives me two weeks to lose 3 pounds.... will you hold me accountable? 

Here we go....I'm off to clear off the dining room table to make room for me and my supper...oh, I guess I should also plan my supper!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Savoury oats!

Pin It I had a very late breakfast this morning (probably 11:30 before I finished!) so I wasn't hungry come lunchtime, so I had an equally late lunch :)  I'm running out of ideas for lunches, so I was going to just have oatmeal...normally I add fruit to my oatmeal (banana or apple typically), but where I'd eaten a mountain of fruit at Cora's this morning, I didn't really want fruit, so I turned to my friend Google for some non-fruit oatmeal ideas and up popped a ton of ideas for savoury oats!  Some of them sounded gross...but I thought I'd give it a try. 

Tanya's savoury oats

1/3 cup large flake rolled oats
1 scant cup of water (slightly less)
1 raw egg
seasoning to taste (I used my Epicure  Red Garlic Sansel...just got a new bottle!!)

Mix all ingredients together in a microwave-safe bowl (make sure it's a deep bowl!!) and microwave on high for about 2 minutes.  Stir well and then add 2 Tbsp of shredded cheese (I used Parmesan) and return to microwave for about 40 seconds.  Mix well and add additional seasoning if you like.  Enjoy!

 Overall it was a very satisfying lunch!  I thought the egg in the oats would be ewy, but it wasn't at all.  I think I might try to come up with some more savoury oatmeal ideas to have as back-up plans for lunches (and suppers too!).

Don't be afraid, give it a try!  If you are following WW, then the points+ value would be 6 if making it exactly like I have here...a great deal for a very filling lunch.

Friday, April 13, 2012

What others see when you think they aren't looking

Pin It It's funny how there are some people in your life that you have an effect on and you don't even realize it.  It could be people you work with, people you see on the way to work every day or acquaintances.  I've had a couple of people recently make comments to me that, frankly, surprised me (in a good way!).  One of the ladies who does the weighing in at WW told me a few weeks ago that I'm always so nice and initial thought was "isn't everyone???"  I guess my parents are owed kudos for that, as I was raised to be pleasant to everyone :) Today someone at a very senior level at the company where I work emailed me to tell me that I was an inspiration to them!!  I nearly fell off my chair!  This is a person of great significance at work, but not someone I'd say I was close to, nor did I think I had any great impact on them (personally or professionally).  This is also someone who is incredibly busy, but as it turns out they've been paying attention to my weight loss and they've been inspired by me.  Wow!  And here I didn't even know they were looking :) 

I guess I write this for all of you out there who think you are not making a difference in the lives of those around you.  You ARE!  When you think that the body builder guy lifting five bazillion pound weights is laughing at you huffing and puffing away on the treadmill, what you are not realizing is that there is someone behind you who has just come to the gym for the first time in their life (and is terrified) and who is looking at you MASTERING the treadmill and they are inspired by you (oh, and the guy lifting the weights...he's not really laughing at you....he's probably thinking good for you! or else he's thinking about his biceps...not you ;-).  When you smile and thank the clerk at the grocery store or ask them how they're doing, it might be just normal conversation for you, or the way you were raised, but to that person, you may have been the first smiling face they've seen after a very long day.  So, be aware.  Be aware of how you treat people and know that your kindness is appreciated and noticed by others.  Be aware of the impact that your life has on others and be proud that you are inspiring someone else by something you are doing - raising great kids, being an awesome [insert your profession here], being a super wife/husband, being a great friend, losing weight, exercising, etc.  The list is endless!!

This email from my colleague today meant a lot to me and it has inspired me to be the best me I can be and to push harder to reach my goal....and when I reach this goal, to set another one (not weight related this time!).

Happy Friday everyone.  I hope you live an inspiring weekend :)

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

I'm just getting what?

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Often I'm asked for my input on where someone should start their healthy living journey or what tips I can offer someone else going through a similar journey.  While I am not a health professional or a nutritionist or a diet consultant of any kind, I am nearly a graduate of the weight loss school of hard knocks and am more than happy to share some suggestions from my experience for those of you who are interested.  If these suggestions/tips do not work for you, please do not come back here and blame me...I'm just a simple girl offering simple tips :)  I will break these tips/suggestions down into my Top 5 food-related and non-food-related tips/suggestions:

Top 5 non-food related tips/suggestions:
  1. First and foremost, make sure you are doing this for YOU.  If you are doing it for someone else, in my experience, it will not "stick".  Realize that YOU are worth it and you alone are reason enough to do it.  
  2. Decide on a plan that works for you, but make sure it is something that you can live with long-term.  All too often I hear people say "I joined [insert weight loss plan of choice here] and it worked for a while, but as soon as I went off it, the weight came back on!"  That is what I (personally) love about Weight Watchers ("WW").  They teach you that it is a lifestyle change, NOT a diet.  The WW plan is a plan that is completely doable for life and the beauty of WW is that when you do get to goal, you can keep coming to meetings for free*!  This brings me to my third tip...
  3. Make sure you have a strong support system.  For me, I am blessed to have an absolutely amazing support system involving family, friends, co-workers, blog/Facebook followers and the ultimate support WW group.  If you go the route of group meetings like I did (I highly recommend them), please, please, please, please don't just weigh in and leave.  Please stay for the meetings.  You might have to shop around a bit to find a meeting/leader that suits your style (I shopped around on and off for nearly 20 years before I found one that "fit"!).  People think they can do WW (or other plans) alone and that they don't need to stay for the meetings, but let me tell you, as someone who has done the "weigh and dash" method, meetings work!  The support, the discussions, the topics of the meetings are so much more than you can get from just taking home your weekly flyer or reading the message boards (although these are good too).  Take full advantage of your weight loss plan.
  4. This is really a multi-part tip:  when you start your journey, take photos of yourself (or have someone else do it for you), record your measurements and write a letter to your slimmer/healthier self (see mine here).  Take photos/measurements along the way, even if you just keep these for yourself.  On weeks when the scale is not moving, look at your total inches lost and at the photos (to get a real sense of your progress, try taking photos in the same outfit/pose each month).  While the scales may lie from time to time, photos and tape measures don't!
  5. Don't join a weight loss program with a friend.  I know, I know, this sounds strange.  While it's great to have a buddy in this journey, the problem with starting something like this with someone else is that it is sooooo easy to a) let them drag you down or b) drag them down with you.  If you are going to the meetings for you and only for you and are not relying on anyone else to go with you, then you have fewer excuses not to go.  I've joined in the past with a friend and have found myself convincing them to skip the meeting with me or to binge with me.  This time I did it on my own - didn't know a soul at the meeting (though that changed over time!) and therefore had nobody I could blame if I didn't attend.  I'm not saying don't share this journey with your friends/family, just try not to rely on them to get you going or keep you there...hope this makes sense!!
Top 5 food related tips/suggestions:
  1. Don't be afraid to try new foods - even foods you think you hate or hated as a child...believe me, I have tried more foods in the past year that I used to think I hated and have found some of my favorite foods (pineapple!!!!)
  2. Try to have some regular "go to" meals that you really like, that you know the Points/calories for that you can make/grab when you are tired and might be tempted to go through the drive-thru.  For me, I have pretty much the same breakfast every single day (oatmeal, peanut butter, banana and a bit of splenda to sweeten...sometimes I add blueberries too).  I was never a breakfast person (YOU MUST eat breakfast!) before, but I discovered I LOVE oatmeal (not the instant kind...go large flake or steel cut if you can) and I am 100% OK with having the same breakfast every keeps me eating breakfast, it keeps me full and it's super healthy!  For a main meal, I love roasted veggies and try to keep roast-able veggies in the house at all times (peppers, mushrooms, cauliflower, zucchini, potatoes/sweet potatoes, carrots, turnip...yep, this girl'll roast just about anything!) and then protein on the side (you can cook frozen fish fillets in about 15 mins).  Eggs are also a great go to meal or snack...nature's perfect food!  Don't be afraid of the yolks (unless your doc has told you to stay away from them!).
  3. Think outside the box.  Get creative with your meals - try mixing steamed cauliflower with mashed potatoes, adding some Laughing Cow cheese and maybe a bit of chicken stock and mash away...voila, powered up mashed potatoes (my Dad never even noticed when I fed them to him!)  Try beefing (no pun intended) up your spaghetti sauce with as many veggies as you can think of.  Want to make fried rice?  Why not try it with quinoa instead?  Try a new spice (visit the Bulk Barn or similar to buy smaller portions to try).  Like chicken wings, why not try low fat chicken nuggets with hot sauce?
  4. Fill your plate up with veggies.  Season with spices instead of butters and oils.  I am a volume eater, so rather than using a smaller plate (as suggestion by most diet plans), I fill (pile!) half my plate with veggies then about 1/4 is protein and 1/4 is carbs (sweet potato, quinoa or regular potatoes...if not having carbs that night, I just add more veggies!).  Try steamed veggies (or re-try).  I bought an in-the-pot steamer after Anonymous Ann got me hooked on steaming.  May sound boring, but steamed cauliflower/broccoli/carrots (don't overcook...10 mins should do it) are SO fresh and yummy!
  5. Plan your meals ahead of time - not just when you're going out to eat, but on a daily basis.  I usually plug my daily food into my online tracker (you can use eTools if you are a WW member, or has a great free tracker if you are doing calorie counting) and then I adjust during the day if something comes up (a craving...or a dinner out).  It's much easier to change a plan than to remember what you ate at the end of the day...or even worse, to get home from work at 6pm only to realize you a) have no clue what to make or b) you've eaten a bazillion calories/Points during the day and it's nothing but celery for you tonight!  Plan, plan plan.... if you fail to plan, you plan to fail is a quote often heard at WW meetings and it is so true.
So there you have it.  Not quite a Tonight Show worthy top 10 list, but hopefully it'll help someone!

Sunday, April 8, 2012


Pin It This week's WW topic is Anchoring.  Finding something to focus on when we are faced with challenges.  For some people it may be an object, for others it may be a person/people.  One guy at our meeting said he used his kids as his anchor.  When he felt like going off program, he thought about his kids and it reminded him that that saddest thing he could imagine happening was his kids standing around his coffin because he'd died of obesity-related disease.  That was powerful!  My leader uses her glasses - she taps the side of her glasses when she's tempted and it reminds her to keep on track.  My friend Karen uses her 10% key chain with her 25, 50 and 75 lb WW washers.  In the Weekly (April 1-7, 2012) this week, one member said she focuses on her collarbone!  For me, this one really hit home!  When I was at my heaviest, I didn't (appear to) have a collarbone.  Now I notice my collarbone whenever I look in the mirror and it makes me feel good.  I'll admit that I struggled with seeing myself differently until I discovered I had a collarbone.  I guess I never missed my collarbone...because I never realized it was there because it was hidden :)  So, I will try using my collarbone as my anchor this week.  It's something I can see, I'll never forget to take with me (I'll be in trouble if I do!) and it's a constant reminder of how far I've come.

no collarbone

look!  I have a collarbone

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Healthy Pumpkin Spice Latte

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One cup of skim milk, splash of vanilla, 1 tsp brown sugar, pinch of pumpkin pie spice, heaping Tbsp of pumpkin puree (not pie filling!). Heat in microwave for 1-2 minutes (stirring partway through). Pour into talk glass (heat proof) and then pour in 1 cup hot strong coffee (I used Tiramisu flavoured coffee). Top with ultra low fat cool whip and a bit of pumpkin pie spice. Add more sweetener if desired.

Product Review: Weight Watchers Praline Cluster 2 PP Bars

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They were handing out samples of these at WW this morning.  I tossed it in my bag and thought I might try it later.  The packaging didn't draw me in, nor did the hefty $7.50 price tag for a box of 12 (on sale!), nor did the 2 Points+ per bar.  My initial reaction was...meh, we'll see, but I doubt I'll ever buy them.

I got home from WW and found myself a bit hungry, but given that it was almost lunch time, I didn't want to have anything significant... so...out comes the little, tiny, 2 Points+ WW bar.  To say I was pleasantly surprised is an understatement!!  This little creatures pack a wallop of taste!!!  I begrudgingly give these bars a 5/5 rating.  Still not sure I'd pay $7.50 for 12 bars.  At almost 63 cents per bar, I just don't think I can justify it...but maybe.  I'm certainly drawn to the flavour!!!

Is this a dream?

Pin It This weekend marks the two and a half year mark of my weight loss journey.  I am thrilled to bits to be less than 2 pounds from my goal weight, but.... every once in a while I get this gripping fear that this has all been a dream and I'm going to wake up tomorrow back where I was in the Fall of 2009.  Does anyone else get these feelings?  I know two and a half years is a long time to dream, so I do know it's not a dream, but I do still sometimes feel like the rug might be yanked out from under me and I will have to start over again ;-)  Silly, I know.

I am very thankful for my loss today of 0.2 pounds, especially given my little bit of falling off the wagon at my friend's going away party last weekend.  I'm not concerned about staying on track this weekend as we got together with the family yesterday for Easter dinner, but I still want to be extra cautious/diligent this coming week, just in case last weekend's escapades catch up with me :)  I may invest in a nice piece of dark chocolate tomorrow though, given that Lent will officially be over.  As some of you may recall, I gave up chocolate, cookies and cake for Lent.  I stuck to it probably 95% of the time...I had a few slip ups (mainly just forgetting and grabbing a cookie at work!!) and I did have a plant pot cupcake for Easter dinner yesterday (see photo below).  Overall, I think (for me) I did quite well.  I didn't miss chocolate as much as I expected to.  I think I may still try to stay away from those "C things" during the week and limit them to just the weekends (within my points).

Off to do some laundry and housework and then I think I'll relax with a good book this afternoon.

Happy Easter everyone!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Why not validate someone else?

Pin It I think we are sometimes so inwardly-focused that we forget to get out of ourselves and purposefully validate others.  I was listening to the Jillian Michaels show (podcast) recently and she and Janice (co-host/producer) were talking about this and it's so true (if you are a fan of Jillian from Biggest Loser, you should really check out her podcasts...I love them!).  I know, for me personally, I need to do more of this.  Remember how good it felt when someone told you that you looked nice, looked like you'd lost weight, looked more buff, asked if you'd just gotten your hair done, told you they appreciated you, that you did a great job (I know I feel great when I hear these things!!)... imagine if for every positive affirmation you received from someone else, you turned that around and validated two more people...what would this world come to?? ;-)  I'm not proposing false flattery here.  I think we need to look for the positive in people (not just appearance-related) and use that to affirm those around us.  Can't hurt, right? Just a thought!

I know I've been absent these past couple of weeks.  I haven't really had too much to say to be honest.  Nothing super exciting going on.  Two pounds from goal as of last Saturday.  Happy about that, but trying not to set expectations on when that might come off.  I am off now until the Tuesday after Easter for an extra long weekend, so hope to get some extra workouts in, some freezer cooking made and all of my housekeeping/laundry done..that's just today's plan :)  Tomorrow is family day as the folks are going to be away for Easter Sunday when we'd normally do our Easter dinner/family day.  I have something I am going to try to make for tomorrow for the family...not sure it'll turn out, so I won't say any more here...but if it does work, I'll post photos over the weekend :)

Happy Easter everyone!  I'll be back on Saturday, most likely.