Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Get Ready...Soup Swap 2011!

The Fifth National Soup Swap Day is January 22, 2011.

Can you believe it's already here?? This will be my 4th annual swap, and I am very much looking forward to it...not only for the company of friends, but to stock my freezer with delicious homemade goodness. Check out my post from last January to read more about soup swap, and maybe plan an event of your own! Stay tuned for more information....

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Shutterfly’s Holiday Card Promotion

Look at that cutie pie! The card above was the first holiday card we made as a family. You know how important that *first* card is - you want to show off the baby to everyone! So I tried a couple different card-making-websites and decided that Shutterfly had the best design at the best price. Since then, we've used Shutterfly for TONS of projects, like photo books, and also just for simply sharing photo albums and printing pictures.

I can't wait to get started on my 2010 cards! We usually go with a simple look, nothing religious, mostly just a wintery type of feel. I was thinking this year we may do a "happy new year" card and kinda shake things up a bit. My little sister got married this year and we have a boatload of great pictures of our daughter dressed up as a "flower maid", so we might use a photo from that event - or maybe her school picture (after we see whether or not it's acceptable to show off!).

Whatever photo you choose to make your cards, you know there will be a ton of options from Shutterfly for backgrounds and types of cards. Have fun with it!

If you want to browse around, here are a few links for Shutterfly:

holiday cards

new years cards

canvas wall art (very cool!)

And if you're a blogger like me....guess what?!?! You can try to earn 50 free holiday cards from Shutterfly. After all, good quality cards are certainly worth paying for...but getting some free is even better! If you blog, go sign up at www. and you can earn some too. So yea, I'm writing this post to try and earn some free cards...but I wouldn't be doing this for crappy free cards. I know that Shutterfly makes a great quality card, and I'll definately order more stuff while I'm there. I'm thinking photo canvas...

Happy Card Making!

Friday, November 12, 2010


Yea, I'm a blog slacker. Life just gets in the way of my blogging ability. I think they days are getting shorter too.

But fear not....I'm going to start making a plan to submit a blog post every weekend. And I have a ton of stuff to tell you about, from my newest hobbies (crafting for the holidays, a small fabric addition I've recently developed, and attempting to make cake pops) to new products that I love and stories about things my hilarious daughter says.

So if you're still checking my blog, thank you! I haven't forgotten about it. I'm still here, surviving my new life as a working-out-of-the-home mom who's trying to "do it all"... with the help of a cleaning lady a few hours a month. (Lifesaver! That woman is a lifesaver. And I'm skipping my eyebrow/bikini waxes to afford it....worth every penny.)

Anyway, stick with me and check back early in the week for more fun stuff.


Thursday, September 16, 2010

Freezer Cooking Revisited

I got a full time job!!

In preparation for returning to work full time, I'm trying to plan out how I'mn going to continue to do all the "at home" stuff that I currently do, like grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, laundry, etc. I'm certain I won't be able to do it *all*, but hopefully we can figure out a way for things to run relatively smoothly. And one of those things involves freezer cooking. I am pretty sure that is going to make a big difference between coming home and eating dinner vs coming home and having a panic attack because it's 6:30pm and there's no plan for dinner.

I love my husband, don't get me wrong...but left to his own devices, I suspect he and the child would end up eating cold cereal and soymilk for dinner every night.

So, freezer meals to the rescue! I've experimented a bit before with freezer cooking, really just doing a few big batches of chicken meals and ground beef meals, maybe 2 of each of 4 different kinds (8 or so meals at once). But the problem has been that once I make a few meals, I end up not liking them very much so they hang out in the freezer for several months. The key to avoiding waste, is to only make meals I know my family likes and will eat.

I'm currently making a list of said items and will then devise a way to bulk cook & freeze them for easy preparation on hectic weeknights. Voila! Freezer cooking returns. :)

For the sake of me not forgetting, here are a few ideas:
ground beef red chili
taco meat (tacos, burritos, taco soup)
sloppy joe pockets
fried rice with meat
perogies & red sauce
white chicken chili

Actually, now that I am thinking about the food we like, I realize that not only do we need the convenience of pre or half cooked meals (a la freezer cooking) but also just simply having a meal PLAN is important. Some of our favorites, like chef salad, can't be frozen...but knowing that I want to have that one week means I have to be prepared to have all the ingredients on-hand. So after doing a bulk cooking session, it's important to make a meal plan. I like to do mine in 2 week increments. Any further than that and my brain can't handle it.

Here I go!

Monday, September 6, 2010

40 is the new 30....really!?!

Today, I am 39.

This means I have one year to really get it together, because I am a far cry from the woman I was in 2001 - the year I turned 30. I mean, in some ways, (many ways) my life is SO much better now. I'm happily married and have a beautiful, smart, loving daughter, a nice house, a nice life really. But personally, physically and mentally, something doesn't seem quite right.

My weight is not where it was when I was 30. I *could* blame it on having a baby, but that's really just a lame excuse for not paying attention to myself. And I could also blame it on not having enough time to work out, but again, lame excuse.

So September 6, 2010 marks a new chapter in my life. A year-long adventure to be my personal best, whatever that means. I want to get my 30 year old body, I want better than my 30 year old body! I want to be healthy, inside and out. Body and mind.

I can do it. Wanna join me on this journey?

Friday, August 27, 2010

Energy Audit

Thanks to my friend Sandy over at Modern*Simplicity, I had the brilliant idea to get a home energy audit. Technically, this was her idea... but still. Not only is this a free service offered by the utility company (at least it's free here), they also give you a free energy efficiency kit. Cool! So, Randy from the local energy company came by today to check out the house and give me some tips.

First we sat in the dining room and he asked me several questions. I'm embarrassed to admit I really didn't know the answer to some of them - things like, do I have a gas or electric water heater and furnace (both are gas, now I know). He opened the free energy efficiency kit and explained how to utilize all the items inside (things like efficiency bulbs, weather stripping, a low-flow shower head and faucet thingy, and these cool outlet insulating foam things.) Next, we did a tour of the house. He looked at the windows, peeked into corners, checked outlets, checked faucets, measured the water temperature...and a bunch of other things. All the while, I took notes and he explained what he was looking for and why. VERY informative.

Then, he went to the attic. I stayed in the garage. My attic freaks me out... I'm always afraid I'm going to fall through the ceiling into the living room! After that, he went outside to check out the exterior. Finally, we sat down again in the dining room while he completed a report for me to keep and refer to in the future.

So, want to know what he said??

First of all, the amount it costs to heat our home in the winter (tops out around $250) really isn't that bad, all things considered. So that's good to know. And for the most part, the house is relatively efficient...also good to know. But of course, there were some areas where we can improve. And ironically, many of them are simple things we can do ourselves with very little effort and cost. Yippee!

1) Seal leaks. He said we should caulk around the fireplaces in both the upstairs and basement, where the brick connects to the wall.

2) Insulate. We need to insulate the exterior outlet with the little foam plates that came in the kit. A box of them can be purchased for about $3 if we run out. Also, we need to wrap the hot and cold lines on the water heater with 3/4 pipe wrap insulation. And, a bigger project, the recessed lights in the ceiling on the main floor are visible in the attic - they need to have insulation boxes built around them so they can be insulated with insulation. HA! (how many times can I use a form of the word insulate in one sentence? Three.)

3) Keep it Clean. The exterior air conditioning unit needs to be cleaned. Apparently, it's pretty "gross", and that can affect the operation of the unit.

4) Turn it down. We are pretty good about keeping the thermostat set at a reasonable temperature, but it wouldn't hurt to dial it down a few degrees in the winter - especially during the daytime when nobody is home (assuming I get a job!) and overnight. Even a few degrees can make a difference. Also, our hot water coming from a bathroom sink measured 134 degrees, too hot! He recommends no hotter than 120 degrees, so we need to turn down the thermometer on the water heater too.

So all in all, I think for a 12+ year old house, we did pretty well! With a few minor adjustments, we will be on our way to (hopefully) a lower energy bill and certainly on the road to saving energy.

Check out Sandy's energy audit on her awesome blog, Modern*Simplicity. And while you're at it, give your local electric company a call and ask about getting an audit for your home!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Farmer's Market and other news....

I've been setting up at the Market, selling my homemade jams and fresh bread. I love it! Makes me feel like Ma from the Laura Ingalls Wilder chapter book series. :)

My daughter is going to come with me next time we set up and have a mini lemonade stand. She's very excited. I think it's because she's saving up for glasses for her American Girl Doll...and braces. Strange. I know.

In any event, I'll have fresh bread loaves, blackberry jam, blueberry syrup and raspberry jam next time. YUM!

And in other news, I've started making reusable sandwich bags with a fold over flap closure. They are SO cute, photos still to come. I am waiting for my snap press to arrive with my KAM plastic resin snaps so I can finish the bags. I'll have sandwich size and snack size available, just in time for back-to-school.

Last but not least, a giveaway is on the horizon...for Maggie's Pureland Soap Nuts. Very cool, and I'll tell you more about them very soon!

Happy Summer!

Friday, July 16, 2010


I'm all over the place lately. Really, summer is killing me. In a good way, but also in an exhausted-all-the-time-can't-get-it-together kind of way too. I'm setting up at the local Farmer's Market to sell my homemade goods like bread, biscotti, jam and apple butter. And I'm also starting to SEW.

With a sewing machine. Can you imagine?!?! LOL

I love sewing, despite the fact that I'm not very good at it and can't cut a straight line of fabric to save my life. But still, I'm sewing my heart out making snack size reusable bags for my daughter's lunches in the fall...and for every other child I know who wants one.

Frankly, I'm beginning to think I should make a spreadsheet because I've had so many people say they want some...and some of them even want to pay me. (note to self, move the paying people up to the top of the list!)

We took our house off the market as of July 1st, so it looks like we're here to stay. At least for a while. So I guess it's time to set up my Sewing Room for real!

Monday, June 14, 2010

A Cleanse Day

Today I thought I'd blog about what a typical cleanse day looks like when you're on the Isagenix program, if you choose to cleanse. I choose to cleanse, mostly because I like the idea of ridding my body of toxins that have built up from a variety of sources.

However, TODAY I am cleansing in a completely different way and for a completely different reason. That's right...I'm having a colonoscopy tomorrow. TMI? Sorry, it's my blog and I tell it like it is. :)

Anyway, I figured since I have to do the pre-op cleanse I may as well think of it as a total real cleanse and do a semi-Isagenix cleanse. Because I didn't think to ask my doctor about the Cleanse for Life drink, I am only using it in the morning and afternoon instead of all day long. And no snacks. GAH! I'm hungry, but it's a good test of will-power. Right??

Here's what to expect from a typical day of an Isagenix cleanse:
7am - 4oz Cleanse for Life with 8-16oz cold water
1 serving of Ionix Supreme
1 IsaSnack (little chocolate wafers which I actually think are delicious!)
1 Natural Accelerator
9am - 1 IsaDelight (actual chocolate, SO YUM!) & 8-16oz cold water
10am - 1 IsaSnack & 8-16oz cold water
12:30am - 1 IsaSnack
4oz Cleanse for Life with 8-16oz cold water
2pm - 1 Natural Accelerator
1 IsaDelight (chocolate, again?!? AWESOME!)
8-16oz cold water

....and this continues on, basically with Snacks, Cleanse for Life and cold water into the evening.

In all honesty, because you drink so much water and eat a few snacks, chocolates and the Cleanse juice - you aren't starving to death. You can also change up the snacks to inclue a small apple, a few almonds, or other choices if you really are struggling. It's more like the *idea* of food is what consumes you., I guess. LOL Mind over matter.

But today, I exist on water, lemonade, 6 oz of Cleanse for Life and chicken broth with a popsicle or two thrown in for good measure. Wish me luck tomorrow!!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

My Isagenix Journey

I like to do a springtime cleanse to get things back into balance and ideally, lose a few pounds. So, several weeks ago, I was ready for a new cleanse and considered doing the Master Cleanse again. Last time I did it, I lasted 5 days (out of 10) and it was horrible. I lost very little weight and found the salt-water flush to be extremely difficult and time consuming. I remembered a cleanse my sister's friend told me about a YEAR ago. Yes, it was a year ago that I first heard about Isagenix. I wasn't ready then, but decided to give it more research this time around....and it turns out to be exactly what I was looking for. So, I signed up for the program and awaited my shipment.

I started the Isagenix 9-day cleanse while working with my Cleansing Coach, Gretchen. Unlike other cleanses I've done, this is not a G.I. cleanse...meaning I wasn't spending my life in the bathroom. In fact, it's quite easy to do but it just takes some will-power. For those who know me, you'll probably agree that when it comes to food and dieting, I have very little will-power. But I'm determined to lose those extra pounds I've gained over the past year, and also make some really healthy lifestyle changes to my diet along the way. Again, Isagenix fits the bill.

After my 9-day cleanse, I was feeling wonderful! I had only lost about 4-5 pounds, but the additional benefits were far worth the time I spent cleansing. (most people are said to lose 7-10 lbs) I had an unreal increase of energy and mental clarity. I was completely off my morning (and sometimes afternoon) coffee, and I would literally snap awake around 7am every morning and just be completely ready to get up and get moving.

Then, I started with the 30-day program...which I'm still working on. Confession time: I'm a cheater. After following the strict schedule for the 9-day cleanse, I decided I could create my own plan for the 30-day. WRONG! Well, partially wrong. I am tweaking the general plan to "make it my own" and I probably could really just do shakes and cleanse days here and there IF I were just in this for the nutritional benefits of Isagenix. But I'm not. I'll be honest, my primary motivation is weight loss...and I know that *for me*, the key is to be strict with my food choices until I lose some weight and see some more results.

What the heck IS Isagenix?! It's basically a program of shakes, bars, snacks, cleanse juice and other products designed to provide your body with perfect nutrition. Here's my website, you can browse around at and see for yourself. It's really important to talk with a Cleansing Coach, so my friend Gretchen is happy to speak with anyone who wants more details on nutritional cleansing for weight loss, or just for good health.

So far, so good. I'm still down a few pounds and feeling great. I am kicking up the exercise and will be sharing my Isagenix daily food plan with you next week (both for the sake of interest and also to keep me's that pesky will-power problem getting in the way again!).

By the end of June, I hope to be down 10 pounds from where I started this month. Think I can do it??

Oh, and some of my friends have asked why, if I like this program so much, haven't I blogged about it before now? The answer is simple really. I tend to get into fads, and then quickly find a new thing to be in to. I wanted to try Isagenix for at least 3 weeks and see if this was something that woul stick, or if I'd just move on to something else. My friends, it STUCK! :)

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Summer Jam

It's not officially summer, but it's absolutely strawberry season here in central Indiana! My 5 year old and I picked strawberries yesterday afternoon at a local place that charges $1.49 a pound for u-pick. We ended up spending about $8 and getting over 3 quarts! That much would have cost $14 if we bought it from the farm stand, so that's a great deal.

Today, we're going to make strawberry jam. You may recall that I'm not really a fruit person, but I do love to make off we go!

ps- The jam turned out perfect! All but one jar sealed (thank you, inversion method) and it set up just like it's supposed to. Love making jam!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Aerogarden...aka, Fun With Hydroponics

I bought myself a used Aerogarden Classic 7 from a dude on Craigslist. Best investment ever! Well, not really, but probably a close 2nd to the Prius....

These are my new tomato babies growing in the light of the dome at just over 2 weeks old. So cute!

More on this topic as things develop...

Monday, May 3, 2010

Clean Energy....WIND!

I am obsessed with wind farming. Even the name of it seems whimsical, and yet it provides such a vital service, that calling it whimsical is almost insulting. For those who haven't seen the beauty of a wind farm first-hand, I'm including some pictures I captured yesterday of what I believe to be a portion of the Meadow Lakes Wind Farm off I-65 in Indiana.

Achieving commercial operation just recently in October 2009, the wind turbines in Meadow Lake can generate enough clean energy to power 60,000 average Indiana homes each year. How freaking cool is that?!?!?

And mostly, I just like looking at them. Which is why I think I should be a *passenger* next time we head back to Chicago....because I can't take my eyes off them!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Meal Plan week of 4/4/10 & a clothes line

Spring!! Yippee. I will keep saying that for at least another month, until it gets hot and muggy and then I'll be complaining about summer and wishing for fall!

I've been a little off my game lately, and I blame spring fever. LOL! I'm getting back on track and back-to-basics, so let's start with a meal plan for the week....

Sunday: Corned Beef Rubens
Monday: Turkey Chili (a la Homemade Gourmet)
Tuesday: Taco Soup (a la Homemade Gourmet)
Wednesday: Gumbo & Rice
Thursday: Spaghetti & homemade Meatballs, salad
Friday: BBQ Smokies and Coleslaw
Saturday: leftovers

So the part about being back-to-basics refers to the sad, sad state of appliance affairs at my house. Murphy's Law, as it were, has decided to wreak havoc over here. My microwave went out last week, so I've been heating coffee (and everything else) on the stove or in the oven. Then yesterday, my clothing dryer decided to stop heating. ACK! So I asked DH to rig up a clothes line for me...which I've actually been wanting for a while now. Desperate times call for desperate measures, so I now have a clothes line hanging off my lower deck.

It's actually pretty cool. The clothes do dry out there pretty quickly, but I was only able to get 2 loads done yesterday due to extended drying times. So that's a bit of a drag, considering the dryer can dry double that in the same amount of time (at least). But I LOVE the idea of saving resources and being a little more green whenever possible.

Yes, I *am* going to have my dryer fixed...but not the microwave. At least not for a while. It's an interesting experiment to see how I can adapt to a way of living that is not unlike the way I grew up. We never had a microwave at home as a kid. Nor did we have a computer, cell phones, dvd player, video game system, bread maker or any of the other things I sometimes feel I "need". I will admit, we did have a dryer...cause living in the Midwest is a tricky proposition for trying to dry clothes in between rain and snow storms!

So for now, that's my story. I planted spinach outside yesterday and I'm looking forward to more blogging later this week.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010


I'm still here!
I'm just SO distracted by Spring...I love how the weather has turned so beautiful all of a sudden.

I'll be back next week to blog some awesome stuff, but in the meantime, here's a preview!

  • I bought an AeroGarden and ordered a seed kit. This is going to be SO fun!
  • I have perfected my sourdough bread recipe and am working on a "breakfast bread" version.
  • I'm trying to figure out how to make soy yogurt using the crock pot and my dehydrator.
  • I'm getting back into sprouting seeds (to eat) and am looking into sunflower greens - yum!
  • I got a new mop for the hardwood floors that I totally need to rave about, it's amazing.
  • I've started Jillian Michaels' 30 Day Shred, and while I hate it, I also love it!

More to come soon, just stay with me!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Free $5 at - love free stuff!

Have you discovered the wonders of Sweet Almond Oil? If not, you really should. I've been using Sweet Almond Oil for a while now, and I keep finding new things to do with it. My skin loves this stuff, and I bet yours will too...unless you have a nut allergy, in which case it's probably not a good idea. ;)

But the real point of this post is to share a coupon code for $5 off at which is my newest favorite online "health food" store. They have SO much stuff on this website, so be sure to check it out. You can order even just a couple small things, use the $5 credit and only pay for shipping! Sweet. Better yet, click the link at the top of the page called FREE SAMPLES and choose as many free samples as you want (one of each will be free).

I have found lovely essential oils, raw sunflower seeds, a myriad of vitamins and supplements, gluten-free products, cleanse products and melatonin...just to name a few things they offer. But again, my all-time favorite is Sweet Almond Oil. Want to know what I use it for?? I'm glad you asked.

  • facial moisturizer, just a few drops
  • cuticle softener
  • hair smoother
  • eye make-up remover
  • sugar scrub base (white sugar, almond oil and essential oil....divine!)
  • bath oil
  • post-bath body moisturizer

I bet there are more ways to use this amazing, all natural stuff...what am I forgetting?

Oh yea, here's the CODE for $5 off your first order... KON547 and don't forget to add some freebies to your shopping cart! Happy Bargain Hunting!

Monday, March 1, 2010

March 1st


Well, ok, not really. But the first day of March always makes me feel like we've turned a corner and can really start to see the first signs that winter truly will be coming to an end soon. Since the Vernal Equinox isn't for a couple weeks, I can't get too excited about it actually being spring but I can see it on the horizon.

The snow is almost all melted (which in Central Indiana doesn't really mean much since the weather can turn on you in an instant), and I bet if I look closely there are some daffodils coming up already.

The temperatures are also steadily on the rise. Sure, it's only supposed to be 37 today...but the birds are singing this morning like I haven't heard in months! Surely, they know something wonderful is going to happen.

And lastly, today is a great day because I *think* (knock on wood) I am finally on the mend from a nasty sinus infection. It must be the pre-Spring air filling my sinuses with happiness! ;)

Happy March!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

My First Sourdough Starter & Loaf

I love bread, and sourdough is a treat for me. Lately, I've been reading the King Arthur Flour baker's catalogue like it's a magazine. I'm really getting into bread making, and decided it was time to make a starter.

I've been reading Nancy Baggett's book, Kneadlessly Simple, and found her sourdough starter recipe to be pretty simple (ha ha) and that's what I used. The pictures here include the starter just getting going and the finished product.

My starter, unfortunately, isn't bubbly enough to make those really big holes in the bread like you usually find in sourdough loaves. Maybe it's still young, or maybe it's because I accidentally used cold water instead of warm when feeding it daily. Oops! Today, my baby had nice warm water and is bubbling away on the counter much more lively.

The taste of this loaf is lovely, it's sour and soft on the inside - just a bit chewy, but not enough for my liking. The crust, while perfectly browned and crisp, is a bit thin and almost too flaky. So I clearly have more practice ahead of me. But for now, I feel successful. The starter worked!! And it's still alive, so that's a good thing. I hope to be able to pass this starter on to my daughter someday. But in the meantime, maybe some friends will want to bake with it....
Do you make bread? Do you have a Mother Starter? Post a comment and share!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Freezer Cooking on a Whim

I've been known to do some freezer cooking here and there, but mostly I just double or triple recipes I make and freeze the extras for separate meals. But yesterday, I stumbled upon a chicken sale and I knew it was fate! Because just the day before that, I received 2 big boxes of my hostess gift products from when I had my Homemade Gourmet party last month. So, with several packets of mixes and spices in my pantry and a chicken sale...what else could I do but freezer cook today! (I also went to Kroger this morning to stalk the manager's meat specials and came home with some good deals.)

Here's what I started with:
1 big pack chicken breast (about 6 lbs, 8 large breasts) $7
3 packages of ground beef (each was just over 1 lb) $6
4 cube steaks (each about the size of my hand) $4
1 package of stew meat (full price) $3ish

Meat cost = ~$20

Here's what I ended up with:
onion & mushroom cube steak in the crock pot right now
BBQ chicken sandwich kit
Hawaiian Chicken
Burgundy Beef Tips
Santa Fe Chicken
Crock Pot Meatloaf
and ground beef cooking now to make Hamburger Macaroni Dinner and Ground Beef Egg Rolls

That's 8 meals, which will surely provide leftovers on at least half of them, for just about $20. Of course, add in the Homemade Gourmet mixes I used (6 recipes used HG items) and it's a bit more. But still...this is a good example of how freezer cooking can save you time, money AND headache.

The only thing left to do now is work these into a meal plan...and I bet I can do 2 weeks at a time on Sunday! :)

Want any of these recipes? Check out for most of them (and you can be creative if you don't have the proper spice mixes).

Monday, February 15, 2010

Oh Deer!

I wish I could get a picture of this, but they're moving too fast and it's too snowy. :(

My backyard woods is the most amazing place to watch deer. There is currently a small family of 6 frolicking back there. It's so cute! The 4 young ones are literally chasing each other like really tall dogs (LOL!) while the 2 adults watch. The snow is coming down pretty steadily, but they sure don't seem to mind.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Love That Custom Granola

Do you love granola as much as I do? You should. It's practically the perfect food. You can eat it plain, with milk, in yogurt, on ice cream, over fruit...however you want, really. But sometimes, it's hard to find just the right flavor. Especially if you're picky, like me, finding the idea granola combo of flakes, fruits and other goodies can be nearly impossible if you're hoping for low fat to boot.

BUT. The time has come granola lovers! I've discovered a shop online where you can custom create your own's incredible! Why? Because not only do you choose a base granola
(like gluten free, low fat, cinnamon, organic or whatever), but you also can then add in all kinds of fruits, nuts, seeds, tasty treats (like organic gummy bears), and various powders.

It's called Mix My Granola.... and it's soooo fantastic! (and no, they aren't giving me free stuff for saying this...although if anyone is reading, I'd LOVE some free stuff!)

Before you order, click on the nutrition stats button and it give you the low down on your custom blend. Need more fiber? Add some chia seeds. Need less fat? Take out those chocolate covered peanut butter balls.

You get to name your mix and place your order. When it arrives, it's in a tube. A TUBE! How freaking cool is that!?!? I love this site. I actually have 3 custom mixes sitting in my online, where's that email with my discount code??

(ps - if you want a discount code, just fill out the refer a friend thing and you'll get 10% off too!)

Check out and let me know what you choose!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Meal Plan week of 2/9/10

I was out of town until yesterday and didn't do a meal plan until this I'm starting it for today. :)

Tuesday: white chicken chili with naan bread
Wednesday: garlic lemon chicken in the crock pot (homemade gourmet seasoning for freezer meal)
Thursday: 2 chicken breasts from yesterday to make Creamy Italian Casserole (also a homemade gourmet pasta mix)
Friday: crock pot meatballs with Trader Joe's Soyaki marinade & salad
Saturday: leftovers
Sunday: Happy Valentine's Day! I'm not cooking, so it's up to my husband and daughter to figure out dinner. LOL!

The Game On Diet

As many of you know, I am ...let's do I say this...."doing" Weight Watchers. It's more than just *doing* it, because it's a complete change of eating habits and making different choices so it feels like I should say "living it". But 4 weeks ago, a group of girlfriends challenged each other to a new game called The Game On Diet. Because I can barely count my daily points, I opted out. That is, until the first week of the game had ended and ALL my girlfriends had lost weight. Alternatively, I was still on Weight Watchers and I had gained a pound. So, I signed on to the game for the remaining 3 weeks.

Long story short, in three weeks of playing the game, I lost about 4 pounds. Yes, I still counted points (although not as strictly as usual and I stopped tracking after 2 weeks). But there is a lot more to Game On (GO, as I call it) than just what you're eating.

If you're interested, check out this official website and see for yourself. I'll give you the low-down here too...

There are certain rules and regulations to the game. Frankly, it's a bit overwhelming in the beginning, but it makes a lot more sense as you go along.There are points involved, gaining points for doing things on the list and deductions for not doing them or cheating. I'm going to skip the part about the points and just give you the basics. Like I said, it's not just about food...

1) eat 5 balanced, small meals a day - this basically means a carb, protein and fat at each meal.
2) eat at least 4 servings of veggies a day with meals, unlimited sizes
3) drink 100 ounces of water a day. (Holy Cow. That's a lot of water!)
4) no alcohol, no artificial sweeteners
5) you can have one day off a week and one additional meal off
6) work out 20 minutes a day
7) for the duration of the game, choose one new good habit to do and one bad habit to avoid
8) get at least 7 hours of sleep each night

There may be more, but these are the basics. I loved drinking all that water. I've noticed a huge difference in my skin, and I think that's largely what helped my weight loss. After playing for 3 weeks, I realized that I'm not drinking nearly enough water on a regular basis. Now, I noticed that instead of wanting water with crystal light, I prefer plain water. Crazy! LOL

Has anyone else tried this game? Shoot me a comment and let me know your thoughts. We start another round at the end of this week!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Albino Squirrel

I just had to take a picture of this little guy (or girl?) who somehow landed on our upper deck last week. My daughter saw it and thought he was cute....that is, until he tried to jump through the window into the house (fortunately, since it's freaking cold here, the window was closed). Not too bright, those albino squirrels. Once he realized he couldn't get into the house via the window or the sliding screen door, I think he freaked out a little. He started running in circles and then eventually took a flying leap off the edge. I'm sure he's fine. Probably just landed on the lower deck....

In any case, check out the color on this little dude. Very interesting. Has anyone else seen him, or his family members, around? Incidentally, he's also featured on the cover of the community newsletter.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Guest Meal Planner - week of Jan 31

This evening as I was sitting down to do the meal plan, I asked my husband and 5 year old daughter for ideas since we have 5 leftover cooked chicken breasts. My daughter decided *she* wanted to make the meal plan for the week. Whoo hoo! Mission accomplished. I have successfully trained her in the ways of meal planning.

Actually it was pretty cute, because not only did she want to choose the meals for the week, she also wanted to write them down. See the picture? That's her handwriting. And in case you can't interpret kindergarten handwriting, here's what we're having:

  • Sunday - pea soup
  • Monday - taco soup
  • Tuesday - chicken tacos
  • Wednesday - bbq chicken pizza
  • Thursday - gumbo
  • Friday - leftovers
  • Saturday - leftovers
Most of these meals involve leftover chicken, except the pea soup which is from the Soup Swap. I'm going to be so sick of chicken by the end of the week....good thing I'll be hitting the city of Chicago to meet up with my sister for some bridal planning bonding (and eating out!). She's the bride, not me. I'm the matron of honor. That makes me sound old, right? Ahhh, well I am old. Guess that works. ;)

Monday, January 25, 2010

Meal Plan week of 1/24/10

Have I mentioned that I love Homemade Gourmet? Probably, but it's worth repeating. Right now, all the soup mixes are on sale at 15% off regular prices...and just because it's a soup mix doesn't mean that you have to make soup with it. The website has a recipe search and there are tons and tons of variations for all the mixes. Yippee!

You can even order online and skip the whole party thing (but then you wouldn't get to sample stuff!). My friend Sherri has a website, even if you don't think you want to order, check it out!

Here is my meal plan for the week:

Sunday- burgandy beef tips (crock pot, amazing!)
Monday- salmon soup & salad
Tuesday-WW lasagna in the crock pot
Wednesday- Homemade Gourmet chicken in the oven
Thursday- pea soup & bread
Friday- leftovers
Saturday- pizza

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Soup Swap!

Yesterday, January 23rd, was National Soup Swap Day. My friends and I participated by gathering at my house for the 3rd annual Soup Swap. It's so much fun, and I hope to be able to continue this tradition for many years to come.

Essentially, each guest brings 6 individual containers (1 quart each) of one kind of soup or stew. Freezable recipes are best, so not usually cream soups or potato. We do a "Telling of the Soup" where everyone says a little something about the soup they brought; special ingredients, if it's organic, family story behind it, etc. Then we draw numbers and take turns selecting a soup from the table - until all the containers are gone.

I give prizes for First Picked (the first soup to be completely taken) and Last Picked. This year, I made a No-Knead bread from the book Kneadlessly Simply (by Nancy Baggett - could that be a more perfect name for a bread author?!?). It was the multi-grain recipe and I made 3 batches to use as door prizes, and as a taster at the party. By the way, if you bake, you absolutely must check out this book, it's amazing and will change the way you bake bread!

At the end of the party, we each ended up with 6 quarts of homemade soup to take home. Fantastic!

Here's what everyone brought: (sorry, I always forget to take pictures!)
  • buffalo chicken soup (mine)
  • chicken noodle
  • Texas chili
  • chicken & noodles #2
  • cabbage soup
  • vegetable beef
  • minestrone (last picked winner)
  • creamy salmon soup (first picked winner)
  • vegetable beef #2
  • split pea

The cool thing is that even when you have 2 or more of the same named soup, each person's recipe is as unique as they are you still get something new every time you reach into the freezer for a quick dinner and hearty lunch. I love soup swap!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Meal Plan for the Week

Ahh, you know me so well. Yes I *am* on another kick. I always seem to have something that I'm raving about...something that I'm "totally doing right now". LOL, and this month it's meal planning for the future. I hope to work myself back up to monthly meal planning, but for now I'm just taking it week by week.

Over the weekend, I had a Homemade Gourmet party. I'm impressed! I love the idea of buying a pantry staple of a seasoning mix (it comes with a tub and a!) and then being able to use it for over a dozen different meals. Talk about multitasking, there are many recipes on their website to help you figure out how to create awesome meals in minutes.

Speaking of, they even sell a 4 Meals in 4 Minutes kit....that was the demo my rep. did at the party. I bought chicken and a roast, she brought the seasonings and recipes. I now have 4 meals in my freezer for this week...but the best part is that each "meal" is really 6 chicken breasts, so for our family I can stretch that into THREE meals. I am so clever! Ha ha ha...

Anyway, we made freezer bags of italian chicken, garlic basil chicken, garlic lemon chicken and grandmother's sunday roast. Cool!

Here's my meal plan for the week:
Sunday (yesterday) : italian chicken
Monday: leftover linquine with clam sauce (thank you Tastefully Simple!)
Tuesday: white chicken chili (using Sunday's leftovers)
Wednesday: grandmother's sunday roast, bbq in the crock pot
Thursday: chicken spaghetti (with more leftover chicken from Sunday)
Friday: leftover bbq roast, probably made into burrito style something-or-another
Saturday: out to dinner (I hope!)

Each meal will be accompanied by a veggie and a salad...we're working on eating more veggies, so trying to eliminate bread and cut down on the pasta. I'm also doing weight watchers, and every single meal will fit nicely within my points plan. I only get 22 per day, so I do have to be careful.

I feel so organized!! Meal planning, Homemade Gourmet and Tastefully Simple all rock!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year!

And welcome to 2010!

I don't make resolutions.
I used to. I even had this cute system where I'd put all my resolutions on paper and seal it in an envelope, and at midnight of the new year I'd read all my prior year's resolutions. But for the most part, I'd just end up feeling bad about all the things I *didn't* accomplish - instead of looking at what I did accomplish. So several years ago, I banished resolutions as we know them.

Instead, I just have "plans". Plans can change, which means things are flexible and fluid. And that also means, if I need to focus on something else instead of one thing I had hoped to change, I don't have to beat myself up for it next new year's eve.

One plan I have this year is to try and post at least once a week with something interesting that people will want to read about. And I'd love a few more followers too!

So with that said, here's a post for the new to a good start already! :)