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Running out of ideas for all of those veggies?

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Lots of friends here in our town participate in a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program.  These programs provide the user with a box/bag of produce from a local farmer on a regular basis.  Some programs are monthly and others are more often.  This is determined by the farmer(s) providing the produce.  The one in our community is through Bountiful Harvest.  CSA Programs can be found in lots of communities throughout the country.  Look around, and you can probably find one where you live.

Its a great way to support the local economy and farmers.  Its also a great way to have lots of fresh, local produce at home.  However, for every person that I know participating in the program in our town, I have heard the following, "I have a lot of (fill in the blank) and don't know what to do with it."  Or, "I've run out of ideas for (blank),"  Its a good problem to have, but a common one.

I have one idea for those people looking for new ways to prepare lots of fruits, vegetables and healthy meals.  The Food Matters Cookbook by Mark Bittman has become a staple in our kitchen over the past few years.  My friend Emilie gave me this as a birthday gift, and it is something I use weekly!

This book is awesome for lots of reasons.

First, recipes are basic and call for lots of common/simple ingredients.  This is a plus because simple makes my life easier.  In the case of this book, simple doesn't sacrifice flavor.  It is amazing how well matched ingredients work together creating dynamic flavors.

Next, if you don't have one ingredients, most recipes contain variations.  If you don't like an ingredient or flavor, no worries.  There are many times a variation that can be adjusted for just about anyone.  This is particularly great for vegetarian diners.

Finally, the book is organized and indexed in a way to search for recipes based on ingredients.  So you have an abundance of carrots.  Look up the ingredient and you are in business - carrot gnocchi here you come!

I have had great luck with this book.  My husband loves the meals I prepare.  And the desserts are even great.  Mark Bittman has a very practical approach to healthy eating that is balanced and teaches you to rethink your meals.  And you don't have to participate in a CSA to use this book.  If you are gardening this summer for the first time and have lots of fresh vegetables, this is a great idea.  Or, if you are just trying to eat healthier at home.

One last plug for this book, meals are EASY.  I work out of town a lot and need something easy to prepare when I get home or with the little time that I have at home.  This cookbook won't disappoint and will quickly become a staple in your home.  I'm sure of it.  Give something new a try at dinner.  You'll find that vegetables fly off the table with a little creative help!

Why isn't getting back into shape easier?

Monday, August 25, 2014

Here we are pre baby at a family reunion 3 years ago
I've decided that getting back into shape isn't supposed to be easy.  Don't close this window just yet!  Keep reading for just a minute longer.

Being healthy and getting into shape is hard work!  Trust me, I work out often and have been working on getting this baby weight off for a while.  But, the hard work does have benefits!

For starters, the harder you work, the more determined your are to keep it up and keep it off!  A girl said to me at a conference last year, "I'm not about to eat that doughnut.  It defeats the whole work out I just did!"  Good point!

Does that mean I can't ever have a doughnut?  No!  But, choose them wisely and not often!

Also, I'm not willing to go on some crazy fad diet that I can't keep up.  I am committed to making changes that I can live with for life!  It may take me longer to get there, but I don't want to be up and down sizes like a yo yo.

Post baby for our second Christmas
This past year has really been a struggle.  I said last summer, "next summer…."  Well, I'm not back to a happy size or weight.  It just is.

But, I'm determined to keep working hard and pressing forward.  After all, it will pay off.  Here are a few things to remember:
  • Eating healthy is important even if you aren't trying to or you don't loose any weight in the process.
  • Exercising regularly is just as important.
  • And even if you don't loose weight from the exercise and healthy diet, You are still better off than if you did nothing!
Hard work is a motivator to me.  I'm not competitive by nature.  So, I'll keep eating healthy and exercising.  I'll have the occasional doughnut or burger.  But, at the end of the day, week or year, I'll be healthier and motivated by the hard work I put in the majority of the time.

Find what works for you and make it happen.  Life is a marathon of sorts.  If you are going to make it to the finish line, you have train your body by the choices you make daily.  And remember, you aren't racing to cross the line first.  You just want to make it to the end in one piece!  (and hopefully a little healthier!) 

Have a great week!



The sippy cup solution

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Spill proof trainer
Sippy cups are a big part of our lives right now.  My mother is the certified germ general!  Every time we leave the house, she is slipping sandwhich bags over King Diaper's sippy cups to keep them clean.

There are cups that do have covers, but that is just something else for me to keep up with.  Every time I open the cabinets in our small kitchen its raining lids, cups, plastic bowls and anything else for King Diaper's eating and drinking!  When you are short on space, every purchase and decision counts!

Tommee Tippee makes a cup called the Truly Spill Proof Trainer Cup.  And it has solved lots of problems at our house!  So what makes this cup so special?
  • There is an attached spout cover that keeps it clean.
  • The spout cover is easy enough for King Diaper to open and close it for drinking if I have it closed.
  • Handles are easy for grip.
  • There is also a removable flow control insert into the spout.
It has most definitely become our favorite cup. It is easy for travel and just the right size.  And for us, the right cup.  But, every child is different.  So this might not be the option for your household.

If you are looking for cups to transition your little one from bottle to cup, consider the following:
  1. Does your little one prefer a silicon spout the mimics the nipple of a bottle?
  2. Do you need flow control inserts for the spout?
  3. What is the best size of cup?
  4. Do you need handles or would a slimmer cylinder that can be hand held like a bottle work best?
  5. Is there an insert that will keep liquid from coming out when you travel?
Bottle to cup transition is not always easy.  I went out and bought several different kinds of cups to find the one that worked best for us.  

This may not seem like a big deal to some, but it was one for us.  Bottle feeding was an ordeal and took quite a while to get him just to take a bottle so that we could leave the hospital.  Cups were the same.  We are finally getting there.  Slow flow was what we needed at first because he would be drowning and choking on milk, juice or water.

Tommee Tippee makes additional items that are great.  This company offers a full line of bottles.  I used a different brand, but lots of people love them.  The Tommee Tippee Milk Bibs were a big help with bottle feeding.  The absorbent, pillow like collar soaks up milk dribbles and keeps clothes from getting all wet.

Looking for baby gifts for a new mom?  The milk bibs or this spill proof cup would be great items!  I just stumbled on these things and fell in love with the practicality of the products.

This is definitely a baby brand that is worth exploring.  The cup has been a great find.  And, it it germ general approved.  And in my house, that is task numero uno!

Have a great week.  Check out my blog again next week.  I'll be posting on Monday and Thursday each week.





Life - With or Without Make Up

Monday, August 18, 2014

Happy vacation days with King Diaper
I think it took well into my thirties to actually feel comfortable in my own skin. And by that I mean being able to just be - without make up and feeling fussy about every single detail.  These details still bother me on occasion but don't define me.

This morning it occurred to me that I will easily post a social media photo without makeup.  I never even think about it.  It's a moment where I'm happy, and I'm sharing with the world.

When I think back, I feel like too much of my life has been devoted to make up hair, heels and clothes.  Never fear.  I'm not canceling my Stitch Fix or getting rid of my heels.  I'm just at a happy place in life.

Weekday at work
Funny how that happens.  I have been slimmer and bigger.  Not at the same time obviously.  But I don't think that I was happier or better off in any way regardless of shape, size, dress, make up or hair do.  

And I've said for years that a number on the scale or in the dressing room doesn't define me.  Yet I don't know that I've known the meaning of that statement until now.  It was what I wanted to be true but just wasn't ready to live it.
Celebrating the New Year, 2014

I suppose in reality I've come to the point that my life is about the moment, being healthy, and embracing life as it comes.  Life can't and won't ever be picture perfect.  And with that there isn't a perfect size, weight or picture moment to go with it.  Waiting on that just delays what life has to offer.  

Will I keep working out, putting on make up and dressing up?  You bet.  But if I don't, I'm the same person either way.  And life is happening no matter what!  

Negating Southern Deliciousness

Thursday, August 14, 2014

I think Southern food has lots of delicious contradictions.  And with all of the lard, pork, fried, cheese - its a balancing act for sure.  Memories from my childhood include my grandmother's breakfast.  Biscuits made with lard.  Eggs fried in bacon grease and plenty of cheese on the table.  Don't forget the jams and jellies. Yes.  We had fruit.  It was cooked down in sugar for our biscuits!

Okay, so that is all true, but it isn't how we eat every day or even often at our house.  To be honest, I don't know that I've had a biscuit made with lard since about 1990.  If you have never had one, I hate to be the bearer of bad news.  But, it will be the best thing you might ever eat.  Just don't eat a pan full.

I really do try to balance out delicious southern recipes with a simple salad or fruit.  I think this is the easiest way for me to have a clean conscious and enjoy both.

There is little better in summer than a slice of tomato pie with a side of fresh blackberries and Chilton County peaches.  It is summer on a plate!  And, that is just what we had for dinner several times this summer.
Tomato pie start to finish!

Southern Living had a tomato pie recipe last summer that is the epitome of Southern summers.  It starts with a homemade crust of butter, sour cream and bacon pieces.  Tomatoes are sliced and laid out on paper towels to soak up extra liquid.  The pie is constructed by layering tomatoes between a mixture of cheese, mayonnaise, eggs, dill and onion.  It is just what to do with a ton of tomatoes and you've had 25 tomato sandwiches this week!  And who wouldn't love this?  If you are vegetarian and are raising your hand, skip the bacon and all is well with your world too!

With that rich tomato pie, fresh fruit is just what you need.  I like to slice up peaches, mix in some blackberries and finish with a couple of teaspoons of honey.  Chill while your pie cooks, and dinner will be awesome.

Fruit salad with honey
finish off the plate.
We may not be afraid of the swine, cheese, butter or fried food in the south, but serving it all up with a side of fruit makes it all worth it.  And its like having dinner and dessert all on one plate.

What other meals are lightened with something simple and fresh?  How about fried chicken or even fried fish?  And, no, I'm not suggesting that anyone eat this way on a regular basis.  But, when you do, negate your choices with a lighter side (or one less meal that day!)

I'm raising a little boy that is proving to be Southern to the core.  He likes nothing better than sweet potatoes, greens and cornbread.  But, I always look for ways to sneak in fresh fruit.  He loves it.  I've got to balance things for him too.

If you pass a fruit stand this summer, stock up on peaches, tomatoes and blackberries.  Even better, pick your own.  These are staples in our house this time of year.  We eat peaches morning, noon and night. They go with everything and really do make everything a little more delicious!


Give the Gift of Books

Monday, August 11, 2014

Books are one of my favorite gifts for children.  While overlooked, books are one of the best items one can give a child.

Children at any age can enjoy books.  And remember, books can be gifts that grow with children.  Here are a few guidelines for children's books:
Books are in constant use at home!
  • Ages 0 - 2 - Board books and feel-y books are good selections.  Select books that have large colorful pictures, few words and are simple.  
  • Ages 2 - 5 - Books that have predictable text or even picture books that children can make up their own story with developing language and imagination.
  • Ages 5 - 7 - Books that have simple text that students can start to 'read' on their own with simple sentences that match the pictures.
  • Ages 8+ - Start to introduce longer text books and introduce chapter books to children as they are ready to begin reading more.
At any age children love to be read to.  Help children to develop a love for reading by having routines that include books and reading.  This can be at bed time, before a nap, after lunch or other activities that seem like you and your child needs a break.

Point to the pictures.  Read slowly and encourage the children to start to say words as you read to your child.  I find that reading is one of the most enjoyable tasks that we do at home.

King Diaper has a bookshelf in his room complete with lots of books for him at eye level for him to pull off the shelf and enjoy at his leisure during play time.  We have built books and reading into his routine throughout the day and especially before naps and at bedtime.  It is something I look forward to as much as him.

The next time you are looking for a party or holiday gift for a child in your life, look for books.  It is something that is seldom purchased as gifts.  But, they are the best gifts that you can give to a child.

Happy Monday!


Sample Up Something New

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Samples are a great way to shake things up.  There are lots of sites online that offer free samples to subscribers.  Free samples are also a way to save money on lots of items I already use.  From shampoo to face creams, samples are a way to save money.  Especially when you travel or just use the items at home.

Last month, a co-worker told me about Influenster.  Subscribers fill out a profile and take quizzes that match up subscribers with products related to the profile.  You will be selected for Vox boxes that contain items for you to sample and give feed back.

My first Vox box was for Aveeno Targeted Tone Corrector Cream. When I filled out my profile, I had indicated that one of skin care concerns is age spots.  Yes.  You did just read that.  I'm just owning the moment.  And, voila, my Vox box had tone correcting cream.  It was awesome.  Not the age spots!  The cream.

Registered users will be emailed periodically about campaigns for participation.  Its a great way to try products that specifically do match with personal interests and purchasing.  This time the campaign I was selected for was for a $25 gift card for writing a couple of eBay selling guides.  I did this in an hour while watching tv.  Its like working while watching tv really.  And we all do plenty of surfing after we start winding down for the night.  Its just a way that I make this time useful.

If you are looking for other items to sample, Pinch Me is another place to order samples.  Each month, registered members receive an email announcing new samples.  Visit the web site to order sample items.  For July, my samples included:
  • Crew Power Shampoo
  • Garnier Shampoo, Conditioner and Intensive Repair Treatment
  • Garnier Hair repair
  • Gevalia coffee
  • Moisturizer
  • Sinful colors nail polish (full size)
  • Garnier Grapefruit face cleanser
Dove shampoo and conditioner samples from Pinch Me
It was a nice box of items that were easy to pack and use on the go!  I have really liked all of the products that I have tried.  And, the ones that I wasn't crazy about, well I'm not married to them.

And sometimes I pass on samples to someone else.  This month, my nail polish sample was great.  It was just a super bring pink that wasn't a necessary item for me.  I passed this along to the baby sitter Saturday night.  She was super happy and loved the color.  Again - score.

Try some samples at your house.  Its fun, easy and something that really does save money by swapping the need to use things that you already purchase to use for something free you received in the mail.

Have a great week!  Make the Bravo time on the sofa count with some sample surfing.  


The Balancing Act

Monday, August 4, 2014

My two handsome guys
Life has become this delicate balancing act for me during the past couple of years.  Juggling work and home is not easy, but I'm determined not to let life become a miserable stress magnet.  And over the past few months, I have embraced the power of choices.
  • I've been out of town all week for work, therefore I'm choosing to grab take out and enjoy a night at home and skipping the gym.
  • Or, I'm out of town all week, so I'm choosing to make my workouts a priority in the morning or at night on the road so that I can enjoy my time at home.
  • I'm meeting friends out later tonight, so I'm choosing to get King Diaper to bed before going so I can spend this time with him first.
  • While on a recent trip for a family wedding, I chose baby duty so that I spend more time with him and allow my husband time with his family that he rarely sees.
A night of baby duty with
King Diaper!
Whatever it is, I'm in a constant trading game of one thing for another.  At first, it was hard and at times frustrating.  Now that I'm in this routine, I look at my week and forecast my necessary choices and tradeoffs so that I can have an enjoyable week.  So its not all spontaneous and spur of the moment.  That's okay too.  I chose that when we had a baby.  It has proven to be the best decision yet!

Before baby, I was caught up in guilt driven decisions that didn't always leave me with a clear conscious or happy mind.  But, with a little planning, I feel like it really is possible to have most of what I want from life.  The concept of having it all just really isn't possible.  I'm sure this is an unpopular concept and many will disagree.  But, that is how I see it.  

I do feel like I have less time and that I have to plan more.  But, I also think that I use my time more wisely than ever before.  That isn't a bad thing.  And, on the days that I have less time or don't accomplish as much, I choose the path of least resistance.

Regardless of children or family size, life does come down to a series of choices.  Being an adult just seems to force that hand.  I've just started to look at them a little more closely.  Hopefully, I'll get better at making them and make the right ones.  After all, the choices I make don't just affect just me any more.

Have a happy week and choose wisely!  Your life will thank you for it!  

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