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Caffeine Free

My love affair with caffeine started when I was a child.  I can remember being allowed to drink Coke while watching “Little House on the Prairie”.  No wonder I was such a bad sleeper!

As a teenager, I became seriously addicted to Dr. Pepper.  It didn’t help that I worked in a restaurant that allowed us to have as many soft drinks as we wanted for free.  The Dr. Pepper flowed freely and I was loving it.

In college, all that Dr. Pepper caught up with me, and I began to gain weight.  Drinking diet drinks just didn’t seem worth it, but I gave it a try and quickly became addicted to Diet Pepsi — my drink of choice ever since.

I have never been a coffee drinker, so I always justified my Diet Pepsi in the morning as my “coffee”.  If I didn’t have it as soon as I got up, the headache that would follow would impair me to the point of having to lie down.  When I worked in my old corporate job, it was a well known fact on my floor that you didn’t dare enter my office until I had finished at least one large 20 oz. bottle of Diet Pepsi that I purchased every morning in the cafeteria.  Yes, I had become a caffeine addict.

I managed to stop drinking caffeinated Diet Pepsis during both of my pregnancies, but that was no big accomplishment because I couldn’t keep anything down — not even water– and was hooked up to IVs most of the time.

Fast forward to August of this year.  I decided it was time to break the cycle.  I hated the way all the soft drinks made me feel, and I knew I wasn’t setting a healthy example for my kids.  I had a really bad sore throat and was feeling bad already, so why try to choke down a Diet Pepsi?  I drank water instead.  Guess what?  I didn’t feel any worse — the bad headache didn’t materialize.  So the next day and the day after, I drank water and only water.  I had times of desperate cravings and almost gave in many times, but I managed to make it all the way to November without a soft drink.

For the last three weeks, I have been suffering with migraines.  They come at odd times and without any rhyme or reason.  I’ve never had so many so close together in my life.  Yesterday, I had to come home from work early due to another migraine.  My husband (who happens to be a very good family practice doctor) told me that in addition to my medication, a little caffeine would probably be the best thing for my migraine.  I reluctantly popped open the can.  It did help my migraine and made me feel a bit better, but I realized that I didn’t miss the Diet Pepsi as much as I thought I would….but, my frustration continues today.  These headaches and migraines are putting a damper on my post-caffeine life.  I guess I thought I’d feel great and have all kinds of energy without the soft drinks and, at least for the last three weeks, the opposite has been true.

Anyone else have a similar experience with soft drinks?  I’d love to hear from you.

Soup Time

I love soup, but not the canned variety.  I love homemade soup of any kind.  However, I have never really know how to make great soup.  I recently began checking out of the library every cookbook I could find that had some good homemade soup recipes.  I’ve been experimenting over the last few weeks.  I have an extremely picky husband and one picky daughter, which makes trying out any new recipes a challenge.  They have been great about all of my experiments, though!

I’ve learned a few things about making soup that, for me, have made it a bit easier and more economical.

  • I’ve been buying the split bone-in chicken breast when they are on sale.  I will buy 4 or 5 packages at a time and freeze them.  I always have chicken on hand for homemade soup!
  • I roast the chicken breasts when I have time in the afternoon (like on Sundays or a day I don’t work).  I simply place the chicken breasts on a foil lined baking sheet and rub the skin with olive oil.  I sprinkle kosher salt and freshly ground pepper on the chicken and roast at 375 for 1 hour.
  • After the chicken is finished, I have my husband (who is so much better at cutting up chicken) cut up all the meat and separate it in 1 cup increments.  I used what I can that day for a casserole or soup and save the rest for the next day’s meal.
  • I spend extra time on the weekends dicing up vegetables for my soups and putting them in glass containers with lids (thank you pampered chef).  This enables me to come home from work on a Monday and throw everything in a pot and end up with homemade soup!

So far, I’ve had success with white bean chicken chili, cream of chicken and wild rice soup, cream of potato soup and pasta e fagiloi.  In fact, my husband declared the cream of chicken and wild rice soup as good as Panera Bread’s! That is a high compliment from him.

What are your favorite homemade (and easy) soup recipes.  Feel free to share them with me!

Cream of Chicken with Wild Rice

2 tablespoons of butter

1 cup chopped celery

1 cup chopped carrot

1 teaspoon dried thyme

2 cans Campbell’s Condensed Cream of Chicken Soup

2 cups chicken broth

1 cup heavy cream

2 cups cooked wild rice (I used Uncle Ben’s without the seasoning packet)

2 cups diced chicken

freshly ground black pepper

In a stockpot, melt the butter over medium heat.  Add celery, carrot and thyme and cook, stirring until the vegetables are tender.

Stir in the soup, broth and heavy cream, whisking until smooth.  Stir in the rice, chicken and pepper (to taste).  Heat the soup to serving temperature.  I also throw in a little kosher salt to taste.

Enjoy — makes 6-8 servings.  Can also be refrigerated and warmed up the next day for lunch.

First Post

Well, here I am starting out my new blog.  I enjoy reading other blogs — in fact, I’m become kind of a blog-holic, so I thought perhaps I’d join the ranks.

I’m not sure if this will be a personal blog about my life, which would be totally uninteresting to 99.9% of the people who might stumble across it, or something a little more outwardly focused.  We’ll see.  I imagine I will write about the things I enjoy:  cooking, scrapbooking, personal finance, frugal living and family life, with a sprinkle of spiritual stuff thrown in.

About the title of my blog.. in case you haven’t guessed, it is a joke.  Most days, I find myself incredibly busy.  So much so, that I often don’t sit down until 9:00 p.m. and wonder where the day went.  But, at the same time, I wonder how much of our “busyness” is necessary.  We all mourn the fact that we don’t get to spend time with friends and family because everyone is so busy. Have you ever tried to schedule an evening out with friends who also have kids??   However, I think sometimes we choose busyness by spending our time the way we do.  So, I’m making a deliberate effort to be “not busy”.  It might be a lonely endeavor if I don’t find other unbusy people, but I’m going to make the effort nonetheless.  So, if someone calls and wants to have lunch, but I’m up to my ears in laundry, I’m going to grab the car keys and go to lunch.  If my kids want me to read with them or play a game and I’m “busy” putting dishes away, I’m closing the dishwasher and hanging out with them.  Such wild abandon is difficult for me, as I am a very task-oriented, to-do list, type of person.  But, you have to start somewhere, right?

Whew– my first entry is under my belt.  More to come…

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