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Monday, January 5, 2015

Miss Ginger Grant's Consumer Product Review®: MyFitnessPal® Calorie Tracking App

Miss Ginger promised you some Consumer Product Reviews on things she has used in her latest quest to a healthier life, so here's the first!  The MyFitnessPal app is a free download to any smartphone or computer, and is a great place to keep your fitness game on track!  It has some great features that make it easy to use, and it's web-based, so you can enter information into your smartphone, tablet, or computer, and it all syncs seamlessly! 

After you enter a little personal information about your physical dimensions, the app will give you a calorie goal appropriate for your gender and age.  Throughout the day, you enter the foods you consume, and the exercise you accomplish, and the app let's you know where you stand.  It's really quite easy! 

Entering foods is easier than it sounds because the app does so much of the work for you!  Once you've clicked the "add food" button, the meal chart pops up, and you click "add food" again under the appropriate meal.  Type the name of the food in the box and the app will search through thousands of foods to find a match, including brand-named products and restaurant foods!  

From your smartphone it's even easier to add grocery store products, because you can simply scan the barcode on the product with the camera and it will automatically add that food for you! Foods are always being added to the app, and in the odd case that you come across a food that isn't there, you can enter the item from the product labelling to add it to the app.  

You can also add your own recipes, so the things you cook often are always there in the app.  This works great for "make and freeze" meals, so you can fill your freezer with healthy, home-cooked meals and enter them as you eat them, as easily as you can enter packaged foods.  The app also remembers what you've eaten in the past, and give you those in a drop-down for fast entry. 

The app will also track your activity, and you add exercise in much the same way you add food.  You can select from a list of hundreds of different activities, then tell the app how long you did them, and it will give you those calories back, in effect allowing you to eat more when you are more active!  It even syncs with some of the most popular fitness apps and devices, entering those activities automatically as it is tracked!  

This was the "second" step in Miss G's journey, a fast, easy way to hold herself accountable and keep track of what went down her gullet! Several friends use the app as well, and by linking up with your friends, you can keep each other accountable as well! 

Check it out, download for free (the app shows you some relatively unobtrusive ads to cover its cost,) and add Miss Ginger if you decide to join up! MyFitnessPal definitely gets Miss Ginger's highest rating: 


Sunday, January 4, 2015

Miss Ginger is Back! Again!

Miss Ginger apologizes for her long hiatus, but this girl had to spend some time taking care of herself.  After her last attempt at weightloss got waylaid by boredom and monotony, she had about all but given up!  As you can see by the pic at the left, her rosy cheeks were getting a little too plump, and quite frankly, she grew tired of the limited selection in the big girls' section

Rather than looking for a "diet," she started with a couple of simple shopping tips, and before you know it, she's working out 2x's a week and and feeling better than ever.

Miss Ginger is certainly no expert on weight loss (perhaps the opposite!) and she's not recommending this program for anyone but herself, but she has had so many people ask "what are  you doing" that she thought she would share her experience. Trust, she still has a long way to go, but so far this has been working! 

#1: Start SOMEWHERE!  Find one thing you can commit to changing, and change it.  For Miss Ginger, it started at the grocery store. She looked into her cart and saw beef, sausage, more beef, frozen foods, and carbs.  Salt, fat, and carbs: her three favorite food groups! She decided the buck stops here with one simple rule:  no more beef.  It had become her default protein, and that's not healthy. So she put it all back, and got turkey instead. 

#2: Be TRUTHFUL and REASONABLE with yourself.  Miss Ginger knew that if she said "I will never eat beef again" she would be lying.  And she certainly knew that to say "no more salt, fat, beef, or processed food" would not only be a lie, it would be unreasonable!  So she refined her commitment to say what she really meant: "I will no longer buy beef as my default protein when shopping, and I will eliminate fast food hamburgers from my diet."  So there.  No more cooking a steak 2 nights a week "cuz it's too nice not to grill" or "I'm gonna swing through McD's cuz I don't feel like cooking."  So, when she's in a restaurant and she's in the mood for a steak, she'll make the decision to indulge.  

#3: MASTER #1 before moving on.  Whatever commitment you made, get it solidified before you start making more demands on your already scarce self-discipline! 

#4: USE CRUTCHES! (Even a hottie like this needs a little help now and then!)  In future posts Miss Ginger will tell you more about some of the tools she used to keep on track, but whether it's a Fitbit, a food diary, or a cheat day, make crutches part of your plan so you can control how frequently you use them, rather than grabbing them all the time! 


#5: ASK FOR HELP!  This was the hardest part for Miss Ginger:  she's an independent soul who likes to do things alone!  Her history with exercise and weight loss has been to take on the world, and then quit due to boredom, injury, or lack of results.  This time, she enlisted the help of a personal trainer, whom she sees twice a week, to help her keep moving forward without hurting herself or giving up.  This was not an easy decision, but one she doesn't regret! 

So now Miss G is moving more, eating less, and changing her body.  She's less focused on losing pounds and more focused on losing inches at the waist. She's feeling better, sleeping better, and has more energy and more stamina.

She also has lots of Consumer Product Reviews® coming your way to help you benefit from her experience and shopping prowess!!! 

How's everybody doing? We have a lot of catching up to do!  Drop me a line in the comments below and let me know what you've been up to! 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Isis and Osiris Ball I Was a Major Success!

Now that the Mystic Society of Isis and Osiris has completed their first ball, Miss Ginger can share the festivities with you and show you some of the magic that was produced!

First, look at the room when we first walked into it: 
Plenty of space, but not exactly an elegant environment for a black tie affair!  No worries, however, as the professionals from Townsley Designs of Austin arrived with 4 truckloads of glitz and glam, and in no time flat had transformed the room into this swanky environment:

Now THAT'S a room for a Mardi Gras celebration like no one's ever seen in Houston, TX! 

Once the space was set, the costumes were loaded in, and the Ball was ready to roll! And roll it did, with a never-stopping soundtrack provided by DJ Dylan Barnes that kept guests dancing and mingling! 

The first costumes out were Ball Captain I, followed by Isis I and Osiris I, dressed to the theme as "Venetian Red." 

After a couple more costumes, some dancing, and lots of beads flying, Miss Ginger appeared as "Murano Glass Chandelier:"

The chandelier's arms were made of 1 1/2" clear tubing, reinforced with a length of metal shelf strapping to provide stiffness without extra weight.  The globes of the chandelier were made from gallon-sized plastic water bottles, melted into shape with a heat gun.  Of course, a chandelier has to light up, so the power was provided by 7 led puck lights.  It was a very fun costume, easy to make and wear, and the audience seemed to love it! 

Next on Miss Ginger's Mardi Gras social calendar is Houston's "Mystery and Fantasy Mardi Gras Party," another black tie/fancy dress event, which this year falls on Miss Ginger's birthday, February 22nd.  The theme is 'The Mystery and Fantasy of Sci Fi," so Miss G is thinking she may get a little more use out of that gold morph suit!  Miss G is not much of a Sci-Fi buff, so she's looking forward to some great suggestions from all of her 'snaps!  leave your ideas in the comments…. who knows, she may just bring it to life! 

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Mardi Gras is Coming!

Yes, folks, there WILL be Mardi Gras at Chez Ginger this year!  Since leaving her former Mardi Gras group, there hasn't been a lot of revelry and costuming around here. But that wrong is being righted!!! 


Miss Ginger has been a member of this group since it's inception, as it is made up of people she loves and wants to be around. She has not been the most active member, since time and personal distractions have kept her from many of the activities, but wild horses could not drag her away from the inaugural ball:

Unlike her previous Mardi Gras group, which kept their event private, The Mystic Society's ball is open to the public… in fact, tickets are available through PayPal! 
It's a formal affair, but masking is encouraged, and Captain I has promised that instead of a long, drawn out presentation, this ball is going to be a non-stop party, with dancing, drinking, and the requisite debauchery!  All you folks along the Gulf Coast need to follow that link and snap up a ticket to this shin-dig, and if you're farther away… plan a road trip! It will be worth it!!  Hope to see you all there! 

Saturday, January 4, 2014


There! She finally did it!  Miss Ginger has been dying to say SPATCHCOCK on her blog since she learned the word… and still wanted to do it even after she learned what it meant!!

Not nearly as dirty as it sounds, "spatchcock" is actually a verb: to "spatchcock" means "to prepare a bird for roasting by removing it's backbone and flattening the carcass."  I know, "carcass" doesn't sound very appetizing, unless you are a vulture, but I promise you the results are delish! Oh, and by the way… if you are squeamish about raw meat, you will find the following pics repulsive.  But for those of you who are still with me, let's sally forth, shall we? 

Miss Ginger spatchcocked the turkey she cooked for Christmas dinner, and actually remembered to photograph most of the process! So, here is Henrietta, cowering before her surgery….

Using poultry shears, Miss Ginger cut along both sides of the backbone to remove it completely. It's not a total waste, however;  it goes into the pot with the neck and the giblets to make stock for the gravy and other dishes! 

Here's our spineless girl lying supine, with her voluptuous breasts to world. She's not completely spatchcocked yet, though! To finish the surgery, Miss G used the heel of her hand to thrust downward (really hard!) to break the breastbone and flatten the bird completely.

Finally, we tuck the bird's wing tips behind the thighs. 

It's just a jump to the left…
and then a step to the right….
with your wings on your thighs….
you pull your knees in tight! 

But it's the pelvic thrust
that really drives you in-say-ay-ay-ay-ay-ayne! 

Let's do the SPATCHCOCK again!!!   Sorry, got carried away there! 

This might be a good time to answer the question: why spatchcock at all, aside from the fun of saying it?  Miss Ginger can come up with 3 good reasons:

1: Spatchcocking allows you to brine a turkey in a much smaller vessel than would be required for an intact turkey. Not sure about you, but there is not enough room in Miss G's fridge for a 5 gallon bucket.
2: Spatchcocked birds cook much faster than  intact birds.  You can roast a large turkey in less than 2 hours, freeing up your oven for other dishes,
3: Spatchcocking sort of spreads the skin more evenly, providing a larger expanse of that crispy, golden-brown turkey skin that everyone like to pick at! 

If you choose to brine your bird, use a large, rectangular polycarbonate refrigerator container, available from Sam's Club or your local restaurant supply store.  Don't use a random plastic container not designated as food-safe, because, well, it's not safe for food. Duh. And don't use metal, because it will react with the brine.  Sorry to be so stringent here, but I don't wanna get sued, so follow the rules!  Start with a layer of sliced onions in the bottom of the container….

…and then place your bird in her spatchock pose.  

Add more sliced onion on top, and a handful or two of peppercorn melange.

Here's Miss Ginger's special Cajun twist… instead of salt, she made her brining liquid with Zatarain's Complete Crab Boil.  

2 cups Complete Crab Boil
1 bottle cheap sweet white wine
1 cup cider vinegar
enough water to cover… about 6 cups

Let the bird brine in the fridge for at least 24 hours… no more than about 72 hours. Then take her out, dry her off, and lay her on a baking sheet for the best suntan of her life!  Add a sprinkle of poultry seasoning and pop her into the oven until an instant-read thermometer registers 165 degrees F. Don't count on the pop-up timer that comes with the bird- they are not reliable and generally cause overcooking.  

Miss Ginger actually roasted her Christmas turkey on the grill, since the oven was full, and used  a dual-temp thermometer to monitor the oven heat as well as the meat temp to deliver a moist, juicy bird to her FABULOUS holidays guests!  Unfortunately, they gobbled it up so quickly she didn't get a photo of the finished product, but she promises, it was delish!  So, when are YOU going to spatchcock?! 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Happy Holidays from Miss Ginger and the Kitties!

This might just be the cutest Holiday commercial ever recorded! Sorta makes Miss Ginger wish the stuff at Chico's would fit her largesse frame! 

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Craftroom QuickTip®: Glitter and Be Gay!

Who doesn't love glitter?! It adds sparkle and shine to just about anything you can imagine, and come to think of it, a few things you can't imagine. Contained, as it is here in the glass shakers from the restaurant supply store, it's a sight to behold. When it runs amok, however, it can quickly tarnish our moods! 

Why can't someone invent a way to keep glitter in place, so it doesn't flake off of our projects and stick in every crack in our homes?  What if Miss Ginger told you there IS such a product, and you may even have some in your broom closet right now! 

Pledge Floor Care Multi-Surface Finish. Back in the 70's, this stuff was called "Future Acrylic Floor Finish" and came in a futuristic clear bottle. Since then, the folks at Johnson Wax have rolled it into the "Pledge" nameplate, and have changed the package since Miss G last bought it! It no longer says "Future" anywhere on the bottle, nor does it say "acrylic." But it does use the word "finish," which is what you want to look for. If it says "cleaner" it's not the right product! It will come in a clear bottle, and the liquid is crystal clear. Get the one for multi-surfaces, not the one for wood floors.

This stuff will seal glitter onto your project with a death grip, and unlike that hodgepodge stuff that the craft store sells, it won't dull the sparkle of your glitter- if anything, it enhances it. And once you seal it with this stuff, it's not going anywhere! 

After the glue under your glitter has dried completely, just brush it on and let it dry. It's that easy! It goes on so crystal clear that it's hard to tell where you've brushed it, so brush it on methodically so you cover every square inch. It's really runny, like water, so it goes a long way! Just flow it on generously with a brush, and when it dries, that glitter won't go anywhere! 

What about the glitter that got loose before you sealed it down? You've swept, you;ve vacuumed, you've mopped… and still, it has a death grip on your floor! How do you get it up?  This guy:

The same lint roller that you use to get cat hair off your suit will get those last stubborn flakes of glitter up from just about any surface!  

Try these tips next time you need to make something sparkle, and let us know how they work for you!!! 


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