Saturday, December 3, 2011

Photo Card

Filled With Love Holiday
holiday party invitations and thank you cards by Shutterfly.
View the entire collection of cards.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Another Healthy Treat!

While I realize that I've been kind of obsessed focused on recipes lately, I have another great one for you!

I haven't really filled you in on my coupon/money saving techniques on my grocery shopping trips but it truly deserves a post of it's own.  Meanwhile, I will tell you that I've been saving a TON of money and able to buy some fun and healthy new things to try.  The first of which is quinoa.

There's SO many fascinating recipes with quinoa and I've been so eager to try it.  So I picked up some quinoa on my last shopping trip.  It's an organic variety and seems pretty simple to cook.  So in my quest to decide what to make first, I really wanted to find something that would be healthy and filling.  I did a foodgawker search for energy bars....none with quinoa.  Then I searched quinoa bars and nothing really stood out.  Then I found THIS RECIPE for apple quinoa cake - perfect.  I'm a sucker for dessert! As always, with my cheater / improv style, I had to make a couple of substitutions.

First mix the dry ingredients in a bowl.
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 ts[ ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt

In a separate bowl, mix the wet remaining ingredients.  I used:

1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 olive oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup chopped pecans (any nuts wold work)
1/4 cup raisins
2 tbsp ground flax
Add 1 large apple, cored & grated and 1 cup cooked quinoa,
 mix well and put in a greased bread pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes or until done.
 I chose to omit the topping referenced in the recipe linked above.  Allow to cool completely before slicing or it will fall apart ) not that I know ANYTHING about that!)
 It doesn't rise up as much as a regular bread but more like a cake would.  But much more dense.  Plus it's super moist and has great texture from the grated apple.
I've individually wrapped each slice so it's ready for anyone to grab and go.  A healthy alternative to the high calorie & sugary cereal or granola bars.  Plenty sweet and full of nutrition!  If you give it  a try I'd love to hear how YOU liked it!  Leave a comment below. :)

Monday, February 21, 2011

Only {5} ingredients

In my quest to eat healthier, I'm trying to incorporate more wholesome alternatives into my meal plan.  Especially for lunch.  Lunch is the perfect time for me to try new things since I eat at work, it won't matter if no one else likes it or not.

This week, I've prepared lots of precut veggies like carrots, celery, orange bell peppers...easy for grab and go.  Way better than dipping these in ranch is hummus.  So, today I decided to try my hand at making it.

Here's my ingredients:

The actual recipe for basic hummus calls for Tahini, not peanut butter.  Tahini is a sesame paste and should be readily available in any grocery store. BUT....being that I'm lazy creative, I replaced the Tahini with peanut butter.  It should probably be a natural kind, like from the health food store but we like to keep it simple around here :)

The directions I found gave a specific order to which ingredients to add and when...again, in keeping things simple, I tossed everything in the food processor and whizzed away!

It was delish!  Not fussy or complicated, just right.  Serve with fresh veggies and some pita or naan!  If you want to try my version, I (sortof) kept track of what I did:

1 can garbanzo beans - reserve liquid
3 tbsp reserved liquid
3 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp peanut butter
1 tbsp olive oil
1tsp minced garlic

Five ingredients and pretty much five minutes to a great snack.  I've packaged it up for lunches this week and am super excited to have found something healthy and tasty that's super easy to make.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

{English muffins}

Since my recent obsession discovery of the website, foodgawker, I've been motivated to try some new recipes.  One that has been showing up quite a bit is for english muffins.  There are many different recipes but SURPRISINGLY most do not require baking!  I know!!  I was super surprised when I first started reading the recipes but they were all the same!  Can you say "easy?"

To start with I used the recipe from King Arthur Flour, found here.  It's very straight forward and while I used the same ingredients, I mixed everything in my Kitchen Aid mixer with the dough hook, where their recipe calls to use your bread machine.  Didn't seem to make one bit of difference.

1 3/4 cups (14 ounces) milk, warm
2 teaspoons instant yeast
2 tablespoons (7/8 ounce) granulated sugar
3 tablespoons (1 1/2 ounces) butter
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 large egg, lightly beaten
4 to 4 1/4 cups (17 to 18 ounces) Flour (I used 2 cups of white and 2 cups of whole wheat flour)

Mix the milk, yeast and sugar until yeast is dissolved.  Add remaining ingredients and scrape into an oiled bowl.  Let rise in a warm place for 1 hour.
 Punch down the dough and roll out to roughly 1/4" thinner than you want the finished muffin.  Cut with a 3" cutter (I used the mouth of a glass jar) and place on a cookie sheet to rest for 20 min.
 Place cut out muffins onto a griddle on semi-low heat - do not grease the griddle just dust with cornmeal - for 6-8 minutes per side or until they reach desired color and doneness (is that a word?).
 These can be refrigerated or frozen and hold up very well.
This is a pretty generous recipe, as the final photo above is about 8 shy of what it actually made.  We ate them as fast as they came off the griddle :)  Yes, they are that good!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Feature Friday

There's so many wonderful creations out there and I mucho enjoy when others share awesome things they've found in blogland.  In that vein, I've decided to begin a "Feature Friday" post, where I highlight some of the best things I find each week.

This week I can't stop dreaming of stealing re-creating this idea from Make It and Love It!


This is so darling and included is a complete tutorial on how to recover your baby carseat.  It's so cute that it makes me want to have another baby, just so I can do it too! :)  ha ha OW!!  Just bit my tongue -

Do you love Naan (like flat bread)?  Love this version from The (ONE AND ONLY) Pioneer Woman
Find 10 different tutorials to make crocheted flowers from Skip to my Lou

More to come next Friday!  Will try to include more links, perhaps a little something for everyone. {wink}

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

{I'm a stalker}

It's true...I certainly AM a stalker.  But NOT the creepy kind.  Well, I guess that's left to someone besides me to decide.  I stalk blogs.  A LOT of blogs!  Google Reader has been the best and worst thing I've ever found.  It's absolutely spectacular!  It enables me to be a stalker!

If you haven't tried it, YOU MUST!  Instead of visiting all of my favorite sites each day, I subscribe to them via Google Reader and it automatically populates new posts into my reader.  Lovely.  Here's what it looks like:

I currently stalk love 162 blogs / websites. There's NO WAY I could visit these individually every day, without missing lots of good stuff :)

Those of you who don't know, I'm a full time working mom outside of the home.  An 8a-6p working mama of 3, thanks to the support of my husband, who knows the preschool moms, makes it to the school parties, drops by forgotten school lunches and gets dinner started MANY days of the work week for me.

So, on days like this, when I actually have time to be crafty, I instead try to spend time with my family. Prior to one year ago, I got to stay home with my babies everyday, until the troubled economy put the squeeze on us financially.  It's really easy to hold my own little pity party when I miss special times with the kids, but truth is, I'm fortunate to have a great job.

Now, having said's also days like this that I go along reading all the uber-crafty posts from blogland and I feel inadequate in the creativity department.  One of these days soon I WILL FIND BALANCE between the two important parts of my life; family and my pursuit of inner fulfillment.

Until then, I will admire and stalk the rest of you who continue to amaze me with your super talented selves!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Bountiful Baskets v.3

Another exciting trip to pick up our goods from the co-op.  This has been such a great endeavor for us - not only because we get fresh veggies and fruit from local sources, but it really encourages us to eat better.  We love to try to come up with new ways to use our loot, especially the veggies.  The fruit is pretty basic but some of the vegetables we have rarely or never tried!

This week:

One bunch fresh spinach
one bunch of broccoli
head of green leaf lettuce (have you seen the price of lettuce at the store lately?!)
a carton of mushrooms
4 orange bell peppers
2 bags of carrots

2 lemons
7 minneolas
5 fugi apples
a container of strawberries
one cantelope
one bunch of bananas

I can tell you that as I write this, those strawberries have long been polished off!

All of this was $15 plus $1.50 handling fee = $16.50!  And it's unbelievably fresh.  Last time I used the broccoli I was a bit short for my recipe so I added some that I had bought at the grocery store.  The co-op broccoli, upon cutting the florets off was a nice dark green color.  However, the grocery store version was almost white inside.  Funny how I'd never noticed the inner light green color until there was something to compare to.  Not only is this a great deal, but the quality can't be matched!

If you want to see if Bountiful Baskets has a pick up site in your area, go HERE.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Foodgawker and corn salsa

Recently, my journey through blogland has led me to a new website - foodgawker!

The recipes are crazy awesome and the photography is even BETTER!  What I like most is that you scroll through these lovely photos with just titles or brief write ups.  It's total eye candy!  If you like it or want to get the recipe or read more about it, you simply clock the photo and - wa lah - it takes you to the original article!

Here's a screen shot to demonstrate:
Nice, huh?  A small warning:  if you add this to your Google Reader, it will give you LOTS of posts to read!  It updates VERY often.

After coming across this post for corn salsa...
I had to give it a try.   But, being the lazy improvisational type I had to alter the recipe to fit what was already in my fridge.  Here's what I came up with:
First I took the corn (frozen of course) and put it in a pan with some hot olive oil in it (maybe 1 -2 tbsp or a quick turn of the pan) and roasted it up, until it started to smell nutty and sweet.  Then I added in some diced onion for just another minute.  Then I put the mixture into a glass bowl to which I had added a couple of small Roma tomatoes, garbanzo beans and some finely diced and orange & yellow bell peppers.  Salt and pepper to taste.  The heat from the corn speeds up the coming together of all the flavors.

You know how regular tomato salsa taste even better when it sits for a while....same is true here.  In fact, the next day I had this as a dip with some tortilla chips for lunch and it was delish!

Simple, easy and tasty! The best part is that you can use any ingredients that you have and it will taste great.  Don't have garbanzo beans?  Use black, pinto or white beans.  It wold also be fab with some diced avocado added!  A simple "go to" salad, dip or condiment :)

Sunday, January 30, 2011

February Menu Plan

Lucky for me I'm no longer dizzy & lightheaded but still have some time while sick in bed to organize my menu plan for next month! YAY!  {said with much sarcasm}

For the most part, I'm trying to keep the weeknights simple, so if I get delayed at work anyone can step in & get things rolling. {Insert best Wayne's World impression..."Shaa...right!} I'd like to incorporate more fish and you will notice I've started doing so on Fridays, especially with Lent approaching.

Some nights are themed (Sundays - Mexican, Mondays - Italian, Thursdays - Asian, Fridays - fish) and others are just things that everyone likes.

Doing this menu at the beginning of the month gives me a guideline for shopping and organizing.  Each week, on Sunday, I write the ACTUAL menu for that week on a weekly planner we have in the laundry room.  This planner also holds any appointments, play dates or special events for the week.

Even though I've already got the menu pre-planned, again it's just a guide line.  I revise & substitute according to what we get in our Bountiful Baskets or what sales may have influenced my Saturday shopping trip.

How do you organize your family meals?  Would love to hear your ideas!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Time Out

That's what I'm doing....taking a time out. Any guesses as to why?

Yup!  It got me.

Stuffy nose, dizzy, lightheaded, nausea, can't eat or sleep nasty cold.  A trip to the Dr. this morning revealed a sinus infection to boot.  Antibiotics and some rest are the only thing on the agenda for me.

Thus, no photos from the Bountiful Basket pick up today, or the grocery store, since I didn't go...but here's a run down:

One bunch of PENCIL THIN asparagus
Head of lettuce
3 cucumbers
8 roma tomatoes
2 bunches of broccoli
Head of cauliflower (looking for a good recipe, anyone?)

7 green apples
2 bananas
8 oranges
one container of strawberries
3 pummelos
one cantaloupe

Never heard of a pummelo?  My parents actually had a pummelo tree when we lived in California.

It's very similar to a grapefruit but sweeter.  Originally native to Asia, it's flower is also used in making perfumes.

That's one of the best things about the co-op...we look forward to the surprise of what we will get in our baskets :)  Plus the kids get to try new things which is ALWAYS a big plus in my book!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Black Heels & Tractor Wheels

Can I just say how much I LOVE the Pioneer Woman.  She's coming out with a new book titled "Black Heels & Tractor Wheels."  That's such a cute title and so is she!

Needless to say I SOOOOOO enjoy trying her recipes.  They're sophisticated and full of flavor, creative and delicious, but never so complex that I can't make them work.  Perfect for me!

This week in our Bountiful Baskets share we had Anaheim chiles and a pineapple.  I've only used these peppers a time or two.  And I've always avoided whole pineapples since it's so intimidating to attempt to cut it up.... but this recipe just screamed at me!

Meatballs with Peppers and Pineapple - absolutely di.vine!  Served over basmati rice.  My kids totally DEVOURED it and made me promise to make it again.

This recipe is simple and awesome!  I very much appreciate the Pioneer Woman's awesomeness and beautiful photography & tutorials on her site.   Check her out - you won't be disappointed.  Not just, family & life stories, farm life depiction, etc.  Plus, she's a total smarty pants and will make you laugh :)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Big Boy Status

It can't be put off any little guy isn't so little and BARELY fits in his crib any longer :( {sniff sniff}  After multiple attempts to order the side rails to convert his crib into a full size bed, along with many turn downs, I've resolved to the fact that I'm gonna have to wing it.

The crib manufacturer (of course) has since discontinued this particular model and it's accessories.  If I want to make the conversion I'd have to pay $175 for non-matching sides.  Not so much.  We'll just go without the footboard.  I've used this as my excuse for so long.  Now I just feel bad for making him sleep in his tiny crib.  The front has been off for the past year though, so at least it's like a daybed. here's the before:

and the after:

Since all of his clothes are in his dresser or armoire, I also decided to take off the bi-fold closet doors and make it into a little reading nook.
 (Yes, that's a punching bag!  Gotta get the wiggles out somehow on snowy days! :)
 The bookshelf was actually in the basement and recently came out of his sister room.  It worked out nicely for holding stacks of wooden puzzles, dress up clothes (capes, fireman costume and Go Diego Do vest & backpack), Lincoln Logs and his lap desk, which also has a sports theme.

This little leather chair:
 has a matching love seat and comes from Pottery Barn.  The "hideout" needs some sprucing up yet, perhaps some curtains and maybe some hooks or another shelf along the wall??

All in all, I'm happy with how it turned out so far, and feel very relieved that he can finally feel like he's graduated to Big Boy status.  Love you, my big boy!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Bountiful Baskets

As another component to my New Years SIMPLIFY goal, I've decided to partake in the Bountiful Baskets food co-op.  Local, fresh and less expensive - doesn't get any better than that, right?

There are a few food co-ops that I checked out before deciding on one:

Bountiful Baskets
Community Food Co-op of Utah
Green Bee Produce

They each have different pick-up locations and different guidelines, but we ultimately chose Bountiful Baskets.  Our first pick up was this Saturday.

 With Bountiful Baskets you have two choices for your produce:  Regular for $16.50 or Organic for $25.       They try to get as local of products as possible and whatever is fresh and in season.  Not knowing exactly what you will get is part of the fun :)

With the pick up spot less than 5 minutes from our house, we were super excited to see what we would get.  Typically you will get 6 fruits and 6 vegetables.  This time we received:

2 bunches of fresh spinach
1 head of green leaf lettuce
7 anaheim chiles
1 basket of cherry tomatoes
3 small butternut squash
1 bunch of fresh asparagus

6 apples
9 tangelos
6 kiwi fruit
1 pineapple
3 asian pears
1 5# bag of Bosc pears

We also signed up for 5 loaves of 9 grain bread from a local bakery for an additional $10.  It's honestly THE best bread I've tasted in such a long time and the kids can't stop raving about it!

Everything so far has been delicious and wonderfully fresh.  This is definitely something we look forward to continuing.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

50% off Winter Palooza tickets!

Having a busy household on a budget, sites like Screaming Daily Deals are AWESOME! For Utah locals today you can purchase tickets to Winter Palooza at 50% off.  This will take place at Southowne Expo Center on January 22nd.  Get out of the snow & have a ball indoors with your kids!  Here's the highlights:

Grab the kids and leave the snow suits behind for a day of crazy, indoor fun fit for all. Whether you’re a pack of rowdy boys or gentle girls, Winter Palooza has an activity for any kid. Little gals will take delight in the Princess Festival, complete with themed characters. The boys can have their fill of action packed fun at the paintball arena and the Boy Cave.

With rock climbing walls, eight bounce houses, a mechanical bull, live animal shows, face painting, laser tag, ropes courses, and more any kid will have their fill of fun at Winter Palooza. Fear not parents, you’re not forgotten; food, shopping, and more is available to keep you from a kid overdose.

Even snow-lovers need a break from the winter conditions. Take yours with the help of the Utah Kids Club's Winter Palooza and jump on this deal quick... It might be your only chance to escape.

If you're new to Screaming Daily Deals, you will get a $5 instant credit, making it an ever BETTER deal! Go the Screaming Daily Deals to take advantage of this great offer. We will be there for sure!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

January Menu Plan

As part of my New Years Resolution (of sorts) to "SIMPLIFY" I am trying to reduce chaos around the house AND the dinner table.  Being a full time working mom, weeknight dinners can be frustrating and less than nutritionally balanced if there's no plan.  Plus it pushes us to spend more money by using our "go-to" favorite take out places, which include the prepared foods at our local Harmons grocery store - which ROCKS!

So here's my rough plan for the month.

Weekends have a breakfast plan and dinner plan. We can wing it for lunch.  Weeknights have dinner only as we tend to have cereal, toast & fruit pretty religiously.  I always have lunch stuff around and the girls pack their own lunches each morning, as do I - mine are usually leftovers.  I've committed to bringing my lunch everyday instead of eating out to offset the cost of my joining the gym.

Not only will it (hopefully) help at dinner time, but for grocery shopping and spending less.  When we don't have a menu, we tend to buy stuff that sounds good but then we end up without balanced "meals." Then we're left having to improvise with junky hodge-podge dinners we lovingly call "whatever nights."

Chances are, we will probably be switching around the plan to coordinate with our bi-weekly haul from Bountiful Baskets.  More on that in the next post!!

I will be posting my menu at the first of each month and also posting my planning and shopping trips from the weekend each Monday, which I will call Menu Plan Monday.

How do you plan for meals?  What's on YOUR menu?

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Nicey Jane Quilt

Last July (yes, I said JULY!) while perusing my favorite fabric shop, Material Girls Quilts, I fell in LOVE with the new Heather Bailey line of fabrics called Nicey Jane.  My mom had requested a quilt for Christmas that was a little "vintagey" and this seemed to fit the bill just right.

I went with the yellow, blue & green colors for the quilt.  When I got home with it, I already knew I'd be using the "Perfect Ten" pattern by Swirly Girls.

Without further adieu:

 This quilt is a most generous size at 60" x 72"!

 The sashing and the back are a nice butter yellow Kona cotton.
Thanks so much to Abby from Gracie Lane quilts for the awesome job on the quilting!  And as you can tell by the date that, despite my early start last July, this wasn't done in time for Christmas.  Lucky for me my mom's birthday is the 4th of January :)  Happy Birthday, Mom! xoxo

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!

Can't even believe that 2010 has already passed!  The older I get the faster time goes - scary!  Rarely do I actually make Resolutions but this year, for whatever reason, it feels right.

I've noticed that so many people are trying to choose just ONE word that describes their goal or motivation.  If I'm choosing just ONE word for this is SIMPLIFY.


–verb (used with object), -fied, -fy·ing.
to make less complex or complicated; make plainer or easier: to simplify a problem.
Less complicated?  YES PLEASE! Make it easier? INDEED!
To achieve this one word state of bliss, here are some things I will be attempting to incorporate, in no particular order....
Balance, organize, structure, plan, focus, prepare, create, finish, refresh, repurpose, upcycle.
Be more specific?  I want to find balance in my life between work, home, me, family.  You won't "find" time for all these things...we have to "make" time. Being organized with meal plans (which I will share) which include using coupons and other strategies to save money.  Structuring time and life to incorporate the things I love, like scrapbooking and sewing. I have so many ideas floating in my head, start lots and only finish a few.  I will stay focused and finish those projects and begin new ones to satisfy my creative outlet, beautify my home and surroundings and make others happy in the process.  Using materials and things I've already got to save money, bless our home and become more "green" with less waste.
And of course, as I take on the above principles, I will take you along the journey with my weekly posts, which I vow to no longer put off :)
Happy New Year!