Equal Opportunity Celebrating

A really easy way to stay in the holiday spirit throughout the year is to decorate for more holidays.  I love Christmas and the festivities of decorating and celebrating.  The people in my life know that I can find any reason to celebrate and holidays are the perfect excuse. This year I am trying to stay in a festive mood throughout the year by decorating for each holiday or season.


The easiest and cheapest way I have thought of is to make a tablecloth for each holiday and switch them out throughout the year.  I started with Thanksgiving and I have fabric picked out through spring.


Yet, another reason why I love my sewing machine.  I am not limited to the choices at the store.  I can pick whatever fabric I want for my table clothes and the possibilities are endless. Another idea I have for decorating through the seasons is having seasonally inspired paintings that are changed throughout the year. But, more about that later.

-Callie Ham

Margo Crane – Practical or Barbaric?

Since moving to Washington I have joined a meetup group book club and last month we read Once Upon a River by Bonnie Jo Campbell.  I was disappointed that more people didn’t enjoy the book as much as I did after leaving our meeting.  Or it possible that the people that did not enjoy it were much more outspoken than the people who did.  There were so many aspects of this book that I enjoyed.  The book tells the coming of age story of Margo Crane.  Margo is somewhat cold but likable because of her independence and unapologetic sexuality.



I found it easy to read because the plot continued to be interesting and hold my attention throughout the book; constantly changing and keeping you wondering what Margo would do next and how she would handle her situation.  I don’t want to give away too much so I won’t go into details.

I also liked the realistic and sometimes gruesome details of what it means to be a hunter and live off of the land.  One of the criticisms that most people agreed with was that it was unbelievable that the story could have taken place in recent past.  Although I have never hunted and in the past have not had a desire to do so, this book actually made me more open to the idea.  Margo gets herself into a situation where she is homeless and the only way she knows how to survive is to hunt various animals-deer, squirrels, etc.  Which does seem very barbaric, but when you think about it, it is also very practical.

What I liked most was the overall message that I got out of the book- that it is more important to live the way that you want to than to live the way other people or society tell you- even if the way you choose is to live outside, bath in a river, hunt and eat wild game.

-Callie Ham

Seize the Food!

Getting in a rut in the kitchen is a bummer, and it is easy to just cook the same things over and over, so I have a few ideas for changing up your cooking routine to keep things inventive in the kitchen.

1. Try something completely new that you have never cooked.  Here a few things that I have recently tried for the first time:

My in-laws gave my husband and me a paella pan for Christmas and we recently made our first paella.  Yummy!


I was cruising on pinterest and found a recipe for pickle soup and thought that would be a good thing to try.  I would cut down on the flour next time but it was yummy as is too.



I also recently made pretzels at home for the first time.


This is the recipe I used for the cheese:


And this is the recipe I used for the pretzels:


Pinterest can have bad recipes so I always read the comments to see if people are saying them before trying it myself.

2. Subscribe to a cooking magazine.   

My favorite is Cooks Illustrated and it is the most expensive out of the ones I get but every recipe I have tried from them, I love.  I also like Eating Well; it has healthy and easy recipes.  Bon Appétit is okay.  Sometimes none of the recipes sound interesting to me but I have definitely found some amazing recipes from them.   Sometimes you can even do a trial subscription for 6 months for a low amount.  I signed up to try Food & Wine for $6 for 6 months.

3. Go the library and check out a cookbook (or buy a new one).

I recently checked out a few cookbooks from the library and I think I am going to make it a habit because it forces me to try new recipes and I won’t break the bank either.

4. Watch cooking shows.

Sometimes I put food network on for background noise or while I run on the treadmill and get ideas for new food.

5. Get ideas from your favorite resturants.

Here is another way to save money and bring your favorite dishes to the comfort of your home.  Sometimes the chef even has their own cookbook or is willing to share some of their recipes with good customers.

There are literally endless possibilities when it comes to food so go out and seize the food people!

-Callie Ham

Introducing the Metabolism Project

I have always been one of those people who have not had to work hard to maintain a skinny figure, and for YEARS I have been hearing from multitudes of people that once I hit my thirties that my metabolism would slow down and it wouldn’t be so easy anymore.  I would like to chronicle my emergence into the dreaded thirties with a discussion about my weight, workout habits and my love of food.  On a monthly basis I will post my current weight and how things are going with me in this area of my life.


As you can see right now I am at about 140.  My weight has maintained between 130-145 since I was in my mid-twenties.  But I did turn 30 in September so we shall see what happens.

As for my exercise habits, I am currently training for a xterra triathlon so I am working out more than normal, but as you can see from my training schedule (pictured below) I am not being super consistent with my routine.  For those of you who don’t know a xterra triathlon is like a normal triathlon except it is mountain biking and trail running for those portions of the race.


And last but not least eating habits:  I have never and I don’t ever plan on going on a ‘diet’ but I have been trying to eat healthier lately and frankly when I am working out more consistently like I am I crave the healthier options naturally.  I also tend to choose the more fatty and calorie-ridden foods.  For example my husband eats Yoplait light yogurts but I just like the regular ones better.  Also, I drink the full-fledged sugary sodas, but it takes me a months to get through a 12-pack.

-Callie Ham

The Secret to the Best Margaritas

Jalapeño Tequila!


A little spice on a classic.  This is an easy thing to do and adds a nice twist to margaritas.  All you need are a few ingredients and 1 month to infuse the yumminess into your favorite tequila; I prefer Hornitos because I like the taste and it’s a good value.  You only need the first 5 items, but having all items makes it a lot easier.

  • 1.75L bottle of your favorite Tequila
  • 8 fresh jalapeños (4 immediately, 4 two weeks later)
  • fine filter or cheese cloth
  • glass container to pour and filter jalapeños out of tequila
  • Knife and cutting board (somewhat obvious)
  • 2nd bottle of your favorite tequila (optional)
  • gloves to handle jalapeños (optional)
  • funnel for pouring tequila back into bottle (optional)


  1. I pour a few shots worth of tequila out of a new 1.75L bottle and into the other (as you can barely see in the picture above).  This makes room for when you add the jalapeños.
  2. Cut 4 jalapeños into quarters, length wise, and remove white part.  Cut the quarter pieces in half making 8 strips per jalapeño; this is so the jalapeños will fit through the bottle neck.  Cut them a small enough size so you can get them out of the bottle.20140127-234412.jpg
  3. Drop jalapeños into tequila, top up with tequila from second bottle to about 1inch from top and recap.  I add some seeds; the amount I add is shown above in the 2 right columns of jalapeños.  The more seeds you add, the spicier it will be, but the spice will hit faster too (discussed in Tips below).  I aim for a subtle after bite of spice.             20140127-234424.jpg
  4. Let jalapeños fuse their spicy goodness for 2 weeks.  Pour tequila through filter (or cheese cloth) into a glass container to filter out little bits of jalapeños, seeds and jalapeño slivers.  Then pour the tequila back into the bottle (a funnel makes this easy).  I usually discard the jalapeños, but you can use them to cook with.20140127-234434.jpg
  5. Cut 4 fresh jalapeños into 1/8s like before in step 2.  Add jalapeños into tequila and let sit for another 2 weeks.  I add the same amount of seeds as the first phase.
  6. After 2weeks of the second phase, pour tequila through filter and into glass container as in step 4 and then back into the bottle.

Now your jalapeño tequila is ready to enjoy.  I recommend writing “Jalapeño” on the bottle so you know which tequila is which.


  • I wear gloves so the jalapeño oils don’t get under my nails which is hard to wash off and later you’ll rub your eyes and slowly the sting will remind you where your fingers have been.
  • Amount of seeds:  The more seeds you use, the faster and harsher the spice will be.  If you infuse the oils from the green, the spice will come on slow and give the tequila a nice after bite leaving you wanting more.
  • When pouring out the jalapeños, they will naturally line up to come out the Hornitos bottles and allow you to just grab and pull them out into the filter.  After you pour out the tequila you may need to shake the bottle a few times to get the last few out.
  • I think the Jalapeño Tequila (made with Hornitos) and Freshies Margarita mix make an excellent combination.  I typically make them 1 part tequila, 1 part juice or stronger.  Beware, these will not taste it, but can be very strong and you might not notice it.

– Jack

The Best Spice in the World

McCormick’s Montreal Steak seasoning is my favorite all purpose use everyday spice.  As you can see I have a 1 lb container that I can use to my liking!  I think it could be used when cooking almost anything.   I would like to share one of my favorite staple recipes.  It is very simple and tasty.



Russet Potatoes
Olive Oil
McCormick’s Montreal Steak Seasoning
Veggie of choice (optional)


Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.  Clean and chop potatoes and veggies into bite size chunks.  This time I used brussel sprouts but broccoli or onions are both good options as well.  If you don’t want any veggies you can also just do the potatoes.  Put the chopped potatoes and veggies into your pan.  Drizzle with olive oil, then cover with the seasoning.  Wash your hands and then mix the olive oil, seasoning and potatoes all together so that it is mixed well.  Then sprinkle another layer of seasoning on the top.  Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour turning once.


I don’t want to give exact measurements because I never measure when I make this dish and depending on how much you would like to make it will change how much olive oil and seasoning you will use.  This can be used as a side dish and left overs can be cooked with eggs in a scramble for breakfast.

Another option for this recipe is to use Lemon Pepper, which is another staple at my house.  Does anyone have a favorite spice that I should try?

-Callie Ham

Read for Entertainment Only


Image from:


There are many reasons that people read books.  Some people read because they want to learn something new.  Some read because they want to be transported to a different time and place, others  because they enjoy a good story.  The list goes on and on.  I read different books for different reasons, but I read Janet Evanovich for entertainment only.  I just finished reading Explosive Eighteen by Janet Evanovich.  I have been reading this series of books for quite a few years.  As you can tell by the title it is the Eighteenth book in the series.  I would recommend these books to anyone who enjoys reading simple humorous mysteries.  They take place in a suburb of Jersey called the Burg.  My favorite part of these books are the characters.  The main character Stephanie Plum is a bounty hunter that is scared of guns and lives alone in a small apartment with her hamster.  In every book Stephanie is going between two men; Morelli who she has known her whole life who is a cop that is always involved in the mystery that she ends up solving and Ranger who is also a bounty hunter/security business owner and bails Stephanie out of numerous binds.  Then there is Lula who is a very large black woman who dresses in skin tight clothes and is an ex-prostitute.  Stephanie’s grandma is also a really amusing character who always carries a gun and goes to a funeral weekly for social reasons.  Through 18 books the characters have really taken on personalities and behave in expected ways and it is fun to see what they will say and do next in each new situation.   In every book Stephanie manages to catch her skips, blow up at least one car and solve the big mystery, all the while seems incompetent and in general a hot mess.  One of my favorite scenes from the books is from the 9th book when Lula decides that she is going to go on a diet in which she only eats bacon.  She starts carrying bacon in her purse and she gets chased down the street by a pack of wild dogs.  Needless to say that was the end of that diet for Lula.  Explosive Eighteen was a little weak on humorous happenings per usual but I am willing to keep reading on in hopes for further entertainment.  I would recommend reading them in order because you can see the development of the characters.  If you are interested in reading them, check it out:


-Callie Ham

Refashioned Jean Skirt


I had some jeans that were a little too small in the thighs so I decided I was going to make a new jean skirt out of them.  All you need to do this is a sewing machine, a small piece of fabric and a pair of jeans that you would like to refashion for whatever reason.


As you can see in the picture first you need to cut the jeans to about the length you want.  It is always better to cut off less and then adjust.  Next the inseam needs to be cut apart.  Then all you need to do is cut your scrap fabric to the size you want.  The larger you make the scrap fabric the wider the skirt will be.  Then you can decide what you want to do with the seam that is already in the jeans.  I decided I liked the look of the seam so I left it in the skirt.


After you have the front the way you want it the back seam needs to be sewn together.  I turned the skirt inside out for the look that is in the picture above.  There was a lot of extra fabric and as I said before it is better to cut less and then adjust to the size you need.  I also sewed around the bottom but it could also be left for a frayed look.

-Callie Ham

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