Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Chicken, Artichoke, Oven Dried Tomato Salad with Pesto Dressing

I finally made the salad I've been wanting to make since making my first batch of oven-dried tomatoes a few weeks ago. I made a second batch of tomatoes on Saturday with tomatoes from my in-laws' garden. I didn't pack them in olive oil this time so they wouldn't be soggy for my salad. Oven-dried tomatoes is a perfect way to use up extra tomatoes from your garden.

This yummy salad is a recreation of something I had a few years ago at a little cafe. It was the first time I had oven-dried tomatoes, and I fell in love with them that day. I also adored the creamy pesto dressing.

I don't have exact amounts for anything with this salad. Just throw it in a bowl and enjoy. I also made two pesto dressings - one creamy and one not. No exact amounts with the dressings either. I just add and taste until I'm happy with the outcome.

  • Romaine lettuce, chopped
  • Spinach
  • Grilled lemon chicken (recipe here)
  • Oven-dried tomatoes
  • Artichoke hearts (I used marinated ones, rinsed & drained.)
  • Pine nuts, toasted
I like half romaine and half spinach to add some variety. I like the crunch of the romaine. Spinach by itself as a salad is a little too wimpy for me.

Pesto Dressing
  • A couple tablespoons of pesto (I used basil, pine nut, parmesan pesto.)
  • Splash of balsamic vinegar
  • Squeeze of lemon (I like lots of lemon.)
  • Salt & pepper to taste
Just mix everything together. If it's too thick, add a bit of olive oil.

Creamy Pesto Dressing
  • About 1/4 cup of pesto
  • A couple tablespoons of Greek yogurt
  • A spoonful of mayo (optional)
  • Splash of balsamic vinegar
  • Squeeze of lemon
  • Salt & pepper to taste
Mix everything together.

That's it. Easy salad to throw together. I had the pesto dressing, and Husband loved the creamy pesto. I think the salad would be equally delicious with just plain pesto as well. Hope you like it!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

New bikes

We've been on the hunt for a very specific bike for a very specific girl.
It's taken over a month.
Blue girl bikes with blue baskets are really hard to find.
We almost bought one just to spray paint it blue.

Then Miss M saw the Disney Cars bike.
She changed her mind.
It was easy to find.
We picked it up tonight along with a matching helmet and bell.
Also got a tricycle and helmet for Mr. T.

Husband is downstairs putting them together.
First bikes.
They are growing up so fast.

Tomorrow will be a fun-filled bike-riding day.
So excited for them.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Moroccan Carrot Soup

I received two pounds of carrots in my last bountiful basket. I decided to look for a new recipe that would use a bunch of the carrots. While on our cruise, I had the most delicious curried pumpkin soup. It sounded good, and it tasted better than I had expected. So when I found this Moroccan Carrot Soup recipe, I had to try it.

I made this for lunch today, and it was a hit. I loved it topped with yogurt and an extra squeeze of lemon. The kids enjoyed it, too.

Moroccan Carrot Soup
adapted from Bon Appetit via Pinterest via epicurious

  • 2 T butter
  • 1 C chopped yellow onion
  • 1 pound large carrots, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch dice (about 2 2/3 cups)
  • 2 1/2 C low-salt chicken broth
  • 1/2 t cumin
  • 1 T honey
  • 2 t fresh lemon juice, plus more for serving
  • 1/8 t ground allspice
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
Melt butter over medium heat. Add onions and cook until softened. Add carrots. Add broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until carrots are soft, about 20 minutes.

Remove soup from heat and puree in blender. Return to pan and add cumin, honey, lemon juice and allspice. Serve with a dollop of yogurt, lemon wedges, and extra cumin if desired.

I think I already know what I'll be using the other pound of carrots for. Yum!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Oven-dried Tomatoes

I love tomatoes. Not just any tomato. I love cooked tomatoes. I used to stand by a pot of anything that had tomatoes in it - soup, pasta sauce, whatever, so I could eat stir it. (I also love to stir things, but we'll save that for another time.)

Last summer, I had the most delicious salad. One of the amazing ingredients was oven-dried tomatoes. That is the first time I tasted them, and it was love at first bite. They were full of the yummy tomato flavor I love. I even like them better than sun-dried tomatoes. A whole lot better, and I like sun-dried tomatoes pretty well.

When I received some beautiful tomatoes in my produce basket one week, I decided to make my own oven-dried tomatoes.

I couldn't decide if I wanted to slice thin or in wedges so I did both. First, I placed the slices on paper towels to absorb some of the juice. Then I tossed them with a bit of olive oil, some chopped garlic, and salt & pepper. I put them in the oven at 200 degrees. I checked on them every 30-45 minutes and would turn them over as needed. Due to the varying thickness of my tomato slices, some were done sooner, so I just took them out along the way. The thickest ones took about 5 hours. The wedges held up better over time, but the slices looked really pretty.

I ended up with extremely flavorful little tomatoes. I could have eaten the whole pan right there. I decided to put the in a jar covered with olive oil, rosemary, and basil. They looked so pretty in the jar.

Over the next few weeks I used them in pasta dishes and on sandwiches. I will say when eating simply eating them, I liked them much better before they were drenched in olive oil. The olive oil has a nice flavor and has made a great addition to pasta sauces and salads though.

I can't wait to make them again.
This is such a great way to use up all those garden tomatoes.

I have a yummy salad recipe using these beauties to share with you soon.

What's your favorite way to eat a tomato?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Apple Hearts

When I was thinking about what to make for dinner the other night, I decided to do something quick and simple that involved Miss M. She hadn't eaten much that day or the day before since she wasn't feeling well, so I wanted to make something she'd be excited about.

I decided mini pizzas and apples would be perfect to make with a little kid-help. I pulled out a little heart cookie cutter and the ingredients. Miss M was excited to cut out little cheese hearts and put the pizzas together. While they were cooking, I sliced an apple and cut the core out with the cookie cutter. Miss M loved the apples and ate twice as many as usual. She had a great time looking through the holes and trying to wear them as bracelets.

It was such a hit! I need to find more simple ways to make her food that exciting. I definitely think food is more fun when presented differently.

Do you have any fun food ideas?

Friday, August 12, 2011

Cruisin' Recap

Can't have a cruise without delightful towel animals!

Going on a cruise was a last minute decision. We heard about it a month before the ship was to set sail. It was a good decision for several reasons. 1) It was a work-cruise (bit of a contradiction, but we had meetings each day). 2) We were going without the kids. 3) We were going without the kids.

I quickly called my mom to see if she would be willing to watch my little monsters. (Oh yes, monsters they were for her. Sorry, Mom!) Luckily, she agreed and bought a plane ticket to come.

We said goodbye to the kids and drove to Los Angeles two Sundays ago. We got stuck in nasty traffic. It took 3 1/2 hours to travel a distance that normally takes 1 hour. Luckily, we didn't have any tantrum throwers in the backseat. Although, Husband and I both came fairly close multiple times. We met up with a dear friend for dinner and spent the evening catching up with him.

On Monday, we met up with a very sweet friend for lunch. We danced together in college, and she moved away several years ago. It was wonderful to see her. After lunch, we went to the port and boarded the ship.

We had good food, wonderful company, and the best time just the two of us. We relaxed, socialized, and sang many hours of karaoke with some great singers. Our favorite being a really drunk lady in a tumuu - Husband's creation for tube top muumuu.

After the cruise ended Friday morning, we got back in the car and drove to Arizona. Husband's brother was blessing his baby Sunday, and almost the whole family was going to be there. Quite a feat with 6 siblings and 5 spouses. Husband's parents had picked up our kids and drove them to Arizona so we could meet up there. It was fun to meet our new nephew. We had a fabulous weekend spending time with family and visiting friends, mixed with some work time.

It's nice to be home again. Just the four of us. Planning out our next several months. Enjoying our time together.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Home Sweet Home

We arrived home last night. The drive took a bit longer than expected because we had to keep stopping for . . . a sick kid! This time it was Miss M who was sick. Poor thing! Before we left that morning, she had been feeling a little sick and frequented the bathroom. We made a potty stop because she said needed to go, and we didn't want to take any chances. We were about 20 minutes from the next town and suggested if she had to go that bad, she could go outside. (Yuck, I know. Not as bad as a nasty carseat though.) She got really upset and said, "I just don't go poo-poos in the grass! I am not a doggy!" We found a gas station 10 minutes away, and she ended up tossing her breakfast in the bathroom. Gross place. I'm very happy that it wasn't a mess in the car though. It was pretty pitiful. She started to cry, "I think I must be sick!"

We had to make a few more stops. Luckily, we had some ginger essential oil with us which seemed to do the trick at calming her tummy the rest of the way.

On top of that, Miss M and Mr. T both had stuffy noses as well and seemed to be feeling pretty blah. The drive took two hours longer than normal.

After this trip and the trip we took at the end of June where Mr. T was very sick in the car, I'm dreading all upcoming car trips.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Driving home

We are hitting the road early this morning. It's finally time to go back home. The last ten days have been fantastic. The cruise was wonderful, and the family time in Arizona has been fun.

Wish us luck. The last road trip with the kids didn't go so well. Hoping the ten hour drive isn't too bad with Mr. T since he's not much of a car traveler.

Excited to share so so much about what we've been up to once we get home and back in the swing of things. Also can't wait to get back to normal eating and exercise. It gets tricky on vacation.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Fresh, Homemade Dill Pickles

I had been wanting to try a food co-op for a while, and a few weeks ago I finally decided to give it a shot. I joined Bountiful Baskets and have loved it. One week I had three cucumbers in my basket. I'm not a big cucumber lover. I like it in tzatziki. I can tolerate it alright in a salad if I have to, but that's about it. However, I do like dill pickles. I remembered my sister-in-law had let me try some fresh pickles she made a few months ago. She sent me the recipe, and I ended up with some very delicious homemade dill pickles.

I made an oops and added too much garlic. I do love garlic, but these little pickles are pretty strong. They are amazingly delicious chopped up in tuna or chicken salad.

If you have too many cucumbers or are a pickle lover, give these a try. They are crunchy and yummy.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Still Rocking

We are off the boat, but I still feel like I'm rocking. Has that happened to you?

We had an incredible time.

Can't wait to see Miss M and Mr. T tonight!

We are about to hop in the car and drive to Arizona.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Setting Sail - Off to Mexico

Wish I could have packed these two cute dresses from Shabby Apple.

Today we are setting sail on a cruise ship. We are going to Mexico for the week. Just Husband and I. We are in need of a little break before our lives get even more ridiculously crazy for the next four months. Although, it's also a "work cruise". There will be plenty of business and play. I can't wait to spend some time with Husband sans kiddos. Huge thanks to my mom who will be watching them this week. Also, a big thanks to my in-laws who will be taking the kids to Arizona at the end of the week. We'll meet up there and stay for a few days.

I surely don't want to be disappointed by the things I didn't do.
This week will also be a big planning week for the next few months for us.
We are certainly leaving the safe harbor.
But we are really excited about it.

I'll catch up after we get off the boat.

Lovely Weekend: Just about everything

This past week was amazing. Husband and I started working on our next big adventure. We spent so much time together as a family, and it was wonderful. We had dinner together four of the five week days. It was fun to have my little family together so much.

I spent the majority of Saturday trying to reclaim my house from the last few crazy weeks of job finishing and changing. Cleaning everything, doing dishes, laundry, and packing for our trips. Husband left early in the morning to drive to Idaho with his brother who is moving there with his family in a week. They unloaded a big moving truck and then drove back. Quick little trip.

My mom flew in from California Saturday afternoon. She will be watching the kids while Husband and I take off for the week. We had a dinner get together with some family friends Saturday evening. Two of them head off to law school in California, so we wanted to wish them well.

On Sunday, Husband and I drove to Los Angeles. We had dinner with a good friend, one of Husband's friends from high school. It was great to see him and get caught up.

Later this afternoon, we are catching a ship and sailing away. I can't wait!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Pink sequin bow heels

Source: via Marina on Pinterest

I know this photo is a bit old, but I love everything about these shoes.










Wishing you a fabulous weekend.

P.S. Will be finally getting my camera cord back today.
So much to post.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Practice makes . . .

What does it make?

I'm sure you are familiar with the usual saying. A few nights ago when Husband was reading a book to Miss M, he said, "Practice makes . . ." and Miss M said, "Fun!" I love that idea.

Practice makes fun.

Practice should make fun. It doesn't mean it's easy. It doesn't mean it's not down right hard, frustrating, and grueling at times. But why are we practicing if there is no element of fun involved? Being perfect does not mean you had a good time. It does not mean you enjoyed getting there or even the end result. When practice is fun, the result is fun. Going to try remember this. It's a tough one for me.

Love the lessons I learn from my kiddos.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Big Changes, New Adventures

There are some big changes taking place in our little world right now.

I am excited and a little nervous.

First up - Today is Husband's last day of work at a job he has worked at for the past two years. It was supposed to be "the one" and we were really excited about it when he started. He's learned a great deal in the past two years. It's been tough, though. Really tough. Most weeks he has worked 60+ hours, and that doesn't include the after-hours at home or the weekend hours. He's been one busy guy.

We decided it is time to say goodbye.

Second - New job is exciting. Very exciting. Still a lot of work, but we will be working on it together. We'll set our own schedule and work our tails off. Husband will also be home more. We actually had dinner last night as a family. I've mentioned that is a rare thing around here, and I'm thrilled it will be happening more frequently. Probably on a daily basis!

Third - Sold my car. Decided we didn't need the car payment with the new job, just to be on the safe side. Also, Husband will be based at home. We'll survive with just one car again for now. Best part, got more out of it than we owe. Miss M will be getting her grass shortly. We are all thrilled about this. Oh, and her first bike.

Why the changes? Husband was no longer happy, which was also affecting me, and the kids weren't seeing their daddy nearly enough. All those work hours were stressing everyone out. We are fortunate enough that we can do something about. We will now be in more control of our lives, and we could not be more excited about it.

We have big dreams in this house.
Huge goals we want to accomplish.
We are off on a new adventure.

And we are just crazy enough to go for it.

Have you ever walked away from a sure thing for something you really wanted?
Were you excited, scared, or both?

Monday, July 18, 2011

Lovely Weekend: Not much of a weekend

This weekend was not much of a weekend. Husband was at a conference the entire day on Saturday. He left at 8:30 am and came back at 7:45 pm. Not too different from a normal work day, but simply lame for a Saturday.

I took the kiddos to a friend's birthday party at a waterpark Saturday morning. We had a blast, but it is far from relaxing watching a 1 1/2 year old try keep his face out of the water. Luckily, I had nice friends there to help me out a bit. They all have kids of their own, and we had a wonderful time playing.

When it was time to go, we helped birthday girl's mom load up the car and then headed home. We had a quick lunch, washed the pool water off, and put Mr. T in bed. I tried very hard to convince Miss M to have a nap because I was beat. Literally about to fall asleep standing up. She politely declined. Thankfully, Mr. T had a three hour nap! Once he woke up, we had a snack and headed to the grocery store.

Going to the grocery store with two kids at the end of a long day is one of my least favorite activities. Miss M complained the whole way about how tired she was and that Mr. T was being too noisy so she couldn't sleep. Luckily, once we were in the store, both kids were happy. It still took forever, but they were happy. Sucess.

Headed home to put things away, make a quick dinner, and put the kids in bed asap. Husband came home just in time to play with the kids and put them in bed. Sweet relief.

On Sunday, we had dinner with a family in our neighborhood. A few weeks ago, we found out the husband served a mission in Taiwan just like Husband. We made plans to get together to cook some delicious Taiwanese food. The food was amazing and the company was delightful.

Now it's back to the grind. Crazy, busy week up ahead. Husband is leaving on Thursday for a quick business trip, and there is much to get done before.

Wishing you a wonderfully productive start to your week!

Friday, July 8, 2011


Sorry for the lack of posting the last few weeks. I went to California to visit my family for a week. Then came the wonderful Fourth of July festivities. Finally, there have been some big changes around here the last few days. Lots of thinking, talking, and major decision making. Things should be back to normal fairly soon.

I'll leave you drooling over this gorgeous pair of Dior heels.

Wishing you a lovely weekend!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Kid-size Silverware

I love this mini silverware set I picked up from IKEA a few months ago for Miss M. She absolutely loves it. She no longer wants to eat on any plastic "baby" forks and spoons. I need to pick up another set after a couple spoons took a spin in the disposal (thanks to Husband). It's a bargain at $6.99.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Show Time

The preparation and rehearsing is over. It's time for my girls to hit the stage tonight.

I'm so proud of how hard they have worked these last few months.

I hope they will get on that stage and have a blast. That's what dancing is all about.
(And remember the steps.)

Friday, June 17, 2011

Moments That Matter Most

I needed this today.

Have a lovely weekend filled with the moments that truly matter most.

Broccoli Water Popsicles

Last night as I was steaming broccoli for dinner, I remembered a funny thing my sister (J, aka Dr. J) and I did in high school. It started out when we saw the green-colored water at the bottom of the steaming pot my mom had just used to steam broccoli. Although the wording is not exact, it's pretty much what happened.

J: "Wow that water is really green!"
Mom: "When you cook vegetables, some of the vitamins and nutrients are lost in the water."
J: "So, that green water is full of broccoli nutrients? Maybe I should drink it."
Me: "Drink it? I guess it is full of good stuff, huh. Sounds like a good idea."
Mom: "You will still get plenty of good things from eating the broccoli."
J: "Maybe I should save the broccoli water."
Mom: "It would probably taste better as a popsicle."
Me: "Great idea, Mom. The popsicles would definitely taste better than just drinking it."

J and I get out the popsicle molds, dump the green water in and pop them in the freezer. All while my mom is probably thinking we are completely psycho.

A few hours later . . .

J: "Let's go check our popsicles."
Me: "Ok."
J: "They're done." Pulls one out.
Both: Sigh.
J: Tastes it. "It's not that bad. Plus, it's full of healthy stuff."
L: "Yeah, it's not that bad, Mom."

A few licks later . . .

L: "This is kind of gross."
J: "Yeah, you're right."
Mom: Laughing.

Moral of the story is - If you want to save your nutrient-filled steamed veggie water, add it to something else that actually tastes good.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Some days I just need some cookie dough.

I don't know about you, but I love cookie dough.

I mean love.

Truly love.

Some days I just need some cookie dough.

Glad I found this recipe.

(Or not so glad.)

We'll see.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Last Class

Today I taught my last ballet and pointe classes for the school year. Their end of the year recital is next week, so we spent the entire class times cleaning and perfecting their dances. It was slightly exhausting.

I'm excited for the show. Just hoping the girls remember all the details since we won't rehearse again until the day of. (Eek!) I'm sure proud of their improvements in the last few months. They have worked hard, and we've had some good times together.

Summer classes are off and on in July and August. I'll be teaching ballet technique three times a week for five weeks. I'm really excited to have them a few times a week. Improvement happens more quickly, and it just works out better that way.

Oh, how I miss dancing!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Recent Meatless Favorites

Husband and I are meat-lovers. It's true. However, we have been trying to incorporate more meatless dishes into our lives. Here are three winners I have tried recently plus an incredibly rich, chocolatey dessert.

First up we have Curry Chickpea Cakes with Yogurt Cucumber Sauce from one of my current favorite cookbooks. They were fantastic.
Husband loved them and said he didn't even miss the meat. You can find an almost identical version here.

This soup was surprisingly delicious with yummy asparagus, spinach, and creamy rice. Both kids loved the rice. Still working on these particular green veggies. Another hit with Husband.

Decided to make a tart last night and needed a quick crust. Tried this recipe from Chocolate & Zucchini which uses olive oil and whole wheat flour. Verdict? Delicious! I topped my crust with a mixture of yukon gold potatoes, leeks, and fontina cheese. Yum!

Cookie & brownie together is a glorious combo. Miss M shouted out, "This is amazing!" Simply take your favorite brownie recipe and your favorite cookie recipe. Put the brownie batter in the pan first and then layer the cookie dough on top. Bake and try not to eat the entire pan. Try really hard.

What are some of your favorite meatless dishes?

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Cleaning makeup brushes

Ok, I'll admit it. I hardly ever clean my makeup brushes. I know. Super gross. I think about it a lot, but don't actually do it. But lately, I keep breaking out on my chin. It's driving me crazy, so maybe this will help prevent future breakouts. And besides, it started grossing me out.

It really is best to thoroughly clean brushes at least once a week, more frequently if needed. They get full of all sorts of gunk such as makeup, body oil, and dead skin cells. Talk about a breeding ground for bacteria. Yuck! I don't want to keep putting that back on my clean face.

I like to pour a small amount of mild dish soap into a littlel bowl. Then I add a few drops of tea tree oil. Tea tree oil is antibacterial and antifungal and really helps get those brushes sanitized. Then each brush gets a dip in the solution, and I swirl the brush around on the palm of my hand and use my fingers to really get in between the bristles. I rinse under running, warm water until the water runs clear and the brush is clean.

Hang your brush to dry with the bristles pointing down or at least slanting downward. You don't want to let it dry with the bristles pointing up because water will cause the glue holding the bristles together to breakdown much faster.

Hopefully, I'm a newly-reformed brush cleaner now :)

How do you clean your makeup brushes?
Or do you?

Monday, June 6, 2011

Lovely Weekend: Relaxing & Celebrating

Why do weekends have to fly by so quickly? This weekend was relaxing and spent with my little family. I haven't had a relaxing weekend like this for quite a while. Very much needed. Here are a few highlights.

Watched The Social Network with Husband on Friday night.

Slept in on Saturday. (Joy.) Had pancakes. Bummed around with the family.

Ran a few errands with the family.

Played with the family.

Had yummy dinner with the family.

Went to church Sunday.

My sister, brother, and brother's girlfriend came over to celebrate brother's birthday. The big 2-5. Had tons of fun. Ate good food. Laughed until we cried. Multiple times.

The best things in life really are simple.
Having loved ones around is definitely one of the very best things.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Add a little fancy

I would love to wear these to a super fancy party.
Or the grocery store. Because that's the place I frequent most.

Bring a touch of glamor into your every day life.
You will feel amazing.

Thinking about this because Miss M and I have been reading lots of Fancy Nancy books.
She put every one she could find in our bag at the library.

That Nancy, she's got a point.
Everything is better when it's fancy.

How do you bring a touch of glamor into your everyday?
Do you think making things fancy makes a difference?

Have a lovely weekend!

Out with the pyramid, in with MyPlate

Yesterday, the Food Pyramid was finally replaced with a more useful plate icon. Fruits and vegetables are finally getting more attention as an important part of the American diet. It's great to see a step in the right direction in helping America overhaul our SAD diet (Standard American Diet).

Here are a few of the main recommendations:
  • Make half your plate fruits and vegetables.
  • Eat less, avoid oversized portions.
  • Eat more whole grains.
  • Choose lower sodium foods.
  • Drink water, avoid sugary drinks.
Hopefully, this is just the beginning of making changes across our country that is in desperate need of a healthy lifestyle reform. It would be great if high quality fruits and vegetables could become more easily accessible. Everyone deserves to feed themselves and their families well.

Need help remembering what to feed your kids? I ran across these plates from Super Healthy Kids. The sections make it easy to plan a meal for your child. I just wish they had adult ones, too!

What are your thoughts on My Plate?
Did you use the previous Food Pyramid as a guide?
Will you use MyPlate?

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Clean that produce! More than a quick rinse.

Mr. T enjoying just-cleaned grapes.

Several years ago when I was pregnant with Miss M, I was sitting on the couch after work watching Oprah. A lovely woman, Sophie Uliano, was on the show talking about her book Gorgeously Green. I was intrigued to hear her talk about so many tips and tricks for healthier, greener living. At the time, green living and organic food wasn't as widespread as it is now.

Sophie Uliano mentioned that she cleaned her produce by spraying a solution on it and then rinsing it off. She shared the recipe, and I decided to give it a try. I now keep it under my sink and use it to clean pesticides and bacteria from my produce. Plain water just doesn't clean as thoroughly. Although, it is better than nothing.

The veggie cleaner spray is a simple recipe using water, vinegar, baking soda, and grapefruit seed extract. Chances are good you have 3 0f the 4 ingredients on hand. Mix them together, spray your produce, wait 5-10 minutes and rinse. So simple! The recipe can be found here.

If you don't have grapefruit seed extract, and are not interested in purchasing it, you can substitute the juice of half a lemon according to Dr. Oz. You can also use an even simpler solution of one part vinegar to three parts water. I just like the addition of baking soda and grapefruit seed extract.

Do you clean your produce? Do you use a cleaning solution or simply water?
Do you think it matters?

It at least makes me feel better because who knows how many dirty hands touch that food before I buy it. Blech. Like Miss M who took a bite out of a bunch of broccoli yesterday at the store. Oy.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Standing at a Crossroads

We are standing at a crossroads, Husband and I.

There are two great roads in front of us.

Both have their fair share of twists, turns, and bumps.

Both show promise, great promise in leading to beautiful places we would like to go.

We have been traveling one for a while. The ride has been long and rough,
but the potential is still great off in the distance.

The other is new and exciting and brings renewed hopes for achieving our dreams,
but it, too, will be a difficult one.

We are not ready to give up on the first, and we do not want to pass by the second.

Neither one is a sure thing.
Both are roads less-traveled.

Can we do both?

Time will tell.

How do you decide between two good things?
Do you pick just one or go for both?

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Lovely Weekend: Three Whole Days

Happy Tuesday! I surely enjoyed the last three days spent with my little family. We worked hard and played hard. Here are a few highlights.

Made pancakes for breakfast Saturday morning. Miss M has named Saturday morning "Pancake Saturday". We've had pancakes for the last four weeks I think. She's loving it because she gets to make them with her daddy.

Took a walk to the park and played. The weather was perfect.

Went out for a yummy dinner. The kids were so cute and very well-behaved.

Put the kids in bed and watched the Chronicles of Narnia: The Dawn Treader with Husband. Have you seen it? It's been a long time since we've watched a movie. So fun.

Went to church Sunday morning. Husband and I take care of the little nursery kids. They were all exhausted and kept laying down on the floor. I felt the same way!

Husband and Miss M cooked dinner while Mr. T and I had naps. Miss M came running upstairs and said, "Dinner's ready, Mom. I love you." So sweet, right? Dinner was delicious, and it was so nice to have dinner at home with just the four of us. It's a rare event these days.

After the kids went to bed Sunday night, I was sitting in bed reading, and Husband was playing games on his iphone. He fell asleep just after nine. I thoroughly enjoyed the peace and quiet in the house and didn't want to put my reading down!

Spent all of Monday putting a few more things away and organizing. I finally feel like things are getting close to being finished.

Reflected on the incredible blessing it is to live in our beautiful country. My grandpas both served in the Armed Forces. I am so thankful for all of the brave men and women who have served, and those who are currently serving, to protect our freedoms. What a blessing it is for us all. May those serving be continually watched over.

I feel rejuvenated and energized after this lovely weekend. Ready to tackle the coming week. Hope you had an equally as enjoyable weekend.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Long Weekend and the Perfect Spring Jacket

I am loving this darling jacket.

The stripes.

The bow.

Oh my. Love.

So ready for a long weekend. Husband actually has Monday off! Hooray!
We are planning some fun things, weather permitting. We'll have fun either way.
Miss M is stoked that Husband will be home for three whole days.
So am I.

Have a lovely weekend!

Try Cork As Toxin-Free Shelf Liner

Before moving into my new house, I started looking for shelf liner because I wanted to protect my cabinet shelves and drawers, especially in the kitchen and under the sinks. Most liners I found were made of some type of plastic. I really wanted something that provided some cushion and was also toxin-free, so my search began.

After some quick searching, I realized this wasn't going to be an easy task. There wasn't a single website that listed their liners as BPA, phthalate, or PVC free. I picked a handful of companies and sent requests for information about the material content in their shelf liners.*

While waiting to hear back, I started thinking about alternative materials. I had noticed that a few sites offered cork shelf liner, but it had adhesive backing which I wasn't thrilled about. Since cork is used for a variety of things, such as bulletin boards and under hardwood floors, I started searching for rolls of cork I could cut myself. The vast number of options surprised me, and after reading more about cork, I ordered a big roll of it.

A bit about cork: Cork comes from a tree. It is naturally toxin-free and considered environmentally friendly. It is also hydrophobic, meaning it repels water, which is perfect for under the sink. Cork also provides the bit of cushion I wanted, and it is easily cleaned. A roll of cork costs significantly less per square foot than cork shelf liner and regular shelf liner. It also doesn't have the adhesive backing which can attract pests.

It took about a week for my cork roll to arrive. It looked huge on my doorstep. It took some time to cut the cork to size, but it would have taken that long with any other shelf liner, too. I'm really happy with the cork on my shelves, and I love how it looks.

Do you use shelf liner? Have you found a great, toxin-free product?

*Of all the companies I emailed, only one company, The Container Store, said they had a few toxin-free natural fiber shelf liners. The woman at customer service went way above and beyond in contacting every company that The Container Store receives shelf liner from to find out the materials used. That right there impressed me very much with their service. However, I had already decided on cork.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Lovely Weekend: Hanging in there

Loving these shaded sandbox ideas to protect from the sun.

Went on a date with Husband Friday night. It's been a long time since we went out by ourselves. Saw Pirates of the Caribbean. Enjoyable. Big thanks to brother and his girly friend for watching the little monsters.

Took sister-in-law out to breakfast for her birthday Saturday morning. Yummy food. Better company. Proud of her.

Took a walk with Miss M and played outside in the dirt. Enjoyed the bit of sun we had. Love that girl.

BBQ'ed with friends on Saturday night. Wonderful to catch up and kiddos had a blast. Dirt-covered and all.

Semi-relaxing Sunday complete with a big family dinner.

Husband got sick. Miss M still coughing. Still raining. Will it ever go away? I'm not sick yet. Trying to hold out this time. Fingers crossed. Like the rain, but ready for some sunshine.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Roasted chickpeas

Chickpeas, or garbanzo beans, are a favorite snack at my house. (I like to call them chickpeas because it sounds cuter.) The kids both love them, and so do Husband and I. Well, I think Husband just "likes" them or tolerates them.

I cooked up a batch of dry chickpeas on the stove this morning during breakfast with the intent to roast them for snack time. Mr. T couldn't even wait for them to cool down after cooking, so I pulled a bunch out and set them in a little bowl. He would toddle over with his empty bowl and hold it up to get more. Miss M soon followed with a request for her own bowl.

Mr. T devouring his chickpeas.

My favorite way to eat them is roasted. I love foods with a good crunch. Roasted chickpeas are a great replacement for your favorite high fat, salty snack. Chickpeas are a good source of fiber and protein. They are also high in copper, folate, and manganese. To learn more about chickpea nutrition facts, go here and here.

My finished chickpeas. Crunchy and delicious!

Roasted Chickpeas

2 C freshly cooked chickpeas*
Olive oil, about 1 T
Garlic salt or another seasoning of your choice

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spread chickpeas on a baking sheet and roast 20 minutes. Give it a little shake about 10 minutes in. After the 20 minutes, take it out and lightly drizzle on olive oil and seasoning. Gently toss to coat. Return to oven for another 10-20 minutes. Ovens vary quite a bit, so your time may be longer or shorter to get a nice crunch. I also watch pretty closely the last 10 minutes or so to make sure they don't burn. The chickpeas along the outside will brown quite a bit faster in the end.

*I prefer the taste of freshly cooked, dry chickpeas. I soak them overnight and gently boil them in water for 60-75 minutes or until tender. Adding a bit of salt the last 15 minutes or so. You can use canned chickpeas if you prefer.

Besides being super tasty, I love that my kids will devour them. I much prefer feeding them something like this for a crunchy snack than less-nutritious alternatives.

Leftover roasted chickpeas (if you have any) make a nice, crunchy addition to salads.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Grilled turkey, goat cheese, and roasted red pepper sandwich

Last week, Husband and I made one of the most delicious sandwiches. I've been craving lighter meals as the weather warms up, and this sandwich makes a perfect light meal with a side of veggies.

The sandwich we created was based on this recipe from Cooking Light. First, I decided against using a pre-made pizza crust for the bread. Instead I found a nice, freshly baked loaf of ciabatta bread. After slicing the bread, I drizzled balsamic vinegar on the inside before layering the filling ingredients on. I also layered in some fresh baby spinach to add nutrients and color. Don't skimp on the roasted red pepper or basil. I thought the amount in the original recipe would be overwhelming, so I added less, and it really needed more. The second time I made it, I added one whole red pepper per sandwich and a couple of basil leaves. It was fantastic! Husband gave it a 9 on his 1-10 scale. He doesn't throw his 9's around lightly either. It's a really high number around here.

Grilled turkey, goat cheese, and roasted red peppers sandwiches
Adapted from Cooking Light

1 small loaf of crusty bread (I used ciabatta, but focaccia would be really yummy, too.)
balsamic vinegar
4 oz goat cheese
3/4 lb sliced turkey
1 (7 oz) bottle roasted red peppers or 4 peppers
1 C. baby spinach
fresh basil leaves (I just used a little packet from the store)

Heat a skillet over medium low heat. The sandwich will be thick, so cooking it slowly ensures the cheese melts, the turkey gets warm, and the outside bread gets crispy.

Cut bread in half horizontally if it is thin. You'll build the sandwich and then cut it in quarters. If it's a thick loaf of bread, just slice it and build your sandwiches that way. Drizzle balsamic vinegar on top half of bread. Spread goat cheese on bottom half of bread. Then layer turkey, peppers, spinach and basil on top. Top with balsamic drizzled half. Cut sandwich in quarters. Add to pan and cook until desired crispiness is reached and middle is warm.

I hope you like it!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Are brown eggs healthier?

Have you ever wondered, "What's the difference between white eggs and brown eggs?" Are brown eggs more nutritious? Is one better for you than another?

Maybe you already know the answer, but I sure didn't. I actually hadn't really thought much about it until a few days ago. My sister came to visit and asked me if I knew what the difference was. She told me it had to do with the chickens' earlobes. Whaaaat?

Here's the scoop on brown eggs versus white eggs. Even though many people believe brown eggs are healthier, brown and white eggs are nutritionally the same. The difference in the egg color is determined by the breed of chicken. Chicken with white feathers and white earlobes lay white eggs. Chickens with red feathers and red earlobes lay brown eggs. Oh, and one more difference is brown eggs are usually more expensive because we think they are healthier.

So, next time you are picking up eggs, check out how the chickens are treated instead of just the color of their eggs.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Salad in a jar?

Have you seen this way to prepare salad for a whole week? I think Paula over at Salad in a Jar is on to something.

I'm super interested to try it since I'm really good at buying lettuce and really bad at preparing it as often as I should :)

I also appreciated this post by Paula about deciding if food should go in the waste or on the waist.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Sticky gum mess

About a month ago I found a wad of gum ground into the floormat of my car. At the moment, I didn't have time to try figure out how to get it out, and I soon forgot about it until a couple of nights ago when Husband and I were cleaning out the car.

I went inside and looked around at what I had on hand. I decided to see if lemon essential oil would take care of the sticky disaster. It not only smells wonderfully fresh, but it cleans wonderfully and dissolves sticky, gooey messes. I put a few drops on a rag and scrubbed for a few minutes. The gum came right up with a little elbow grease. The added bonus is my car smells delightful.

Lemon essential oil is great to have around. I love to clean with it. I'll be doing a post later about many more of its benefits.

*Make sure to do a spot test before using on fabric or upholstery and follow with a damp rag or water rinse.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Splashing in the rain

Source: via Sarah on Pinterest

Yesterday and today have been cloudy and rainy.

Wishing I had these to splash in the puddles.

Rain is always better when you can splash in the puddles.

Don't you agree?

Monday, May 9, 2011

Lovely Weekend: Celebrating Mothers

Received a beautiful bouquet of tulips and a sweet card from my dad. He's the best.

Attended a graduation party on Friday for my dear friend who just completed architecture grad school. So proud of her.

Spent Saturday with the family running errands and working on house stuff. Boring stuff is always better with people you love.

Woke up to breakfast in bed on Sunday morning. My two little kiddos helped me eat it as they jumped on my bed.

Got to spend the day with my own mom who is in town this week. She is one of the most incredible women you will ever meet.

Went to church and had a big family dinner at my house with my mom, siblings, and in-laws. Always love a good party.

Big thanks to Husband for the breakfast, much-needed afternoon nap, and wonderful dinner. He also gave me the sweetest card. Simply my best friend and favorite person ever.

Hope you had a lovely weekend.

Thursday, May 5, 2011


The last couple of days we have started to explore our new area more.

Source: via Ariel on Pinterest

We finally went to the library in our new city. I was slightly disappointed that it wasn't as cool as the one by our last place. But to Miss M, it's still a fantastic place to explore and find lots of great books, and that's what matters. We have been devouring our new books. I love reading to Miss M. I love to watch her little facial expressions as we read and listen to her cute comments about the stories.

On Tuesday, Husband came home early, and by early I mean before six o'clock. He surprised Miss M with a gift certificate to get a treat at a local dessert bakery. She was so excited and hurried to finish her dinner. Upon walking into the bakery, Miss M's eyes got big, and she started looking at the pretty cupcakes and other treats in the glass cases. We let her pick out what she wanted and headed home to eat. Miss M and Mr. T each thoroughly enjoyed half a cupcake. They had a bath directly after. Small, simple outtings like this make being a parent so fun.

Yesterday, we went to our neighborhood park. I met a few other moms, and we thoroughly enjoyed the fresh air. Miss M was surprisingly nervous to play with the other kids. She kept asking me to come play with her, so I also enjoyed a few good runs down the slide. I'm thrilled it's supposed to be warm all week! Playing outside is the best.

My mom is flying in this afternoon. I'm excited to see her and let the kids have grandma time. I sure wish my dad was coming, too. He's headed to Japan for business instead.

Do you ever wonder what it would be like to be a kid again? When life was magical, simple, and full of play and learning. Sometimes I think it would be nice to go back with the knowledge I have now. Maybe I would do things differently. I know it doesn't work that way, but sometimes I just wonder what it would be like. And sometimes, it would be nice to be carefree again.

Do you ever think about being a kid again?
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