Monday, August 26, 2013

Eco Friendly Lunch Containers

School has started again which means it is time to get creative with lunches. With that comes the proper storage. While at Bed, Bath and Beyond I discovered this awesome pop-up lunch container from Smart Planet.
I have tried other collapsible lunch boxes before and they collapsed too well (meaning all the time) and that gets messy. But this one has stayed strong throughout the whole day. It is also BIG! I could have put two sandwiches on top of one. It also comes with a spork (with a sharp-ish knife side) that attaches to the lid. And my most favorite part? It has a condiment spot with a tiny lid! 

It is also dishwasher safe--top rack--and very easy to just rinse off. Though I can't find it online at BB&B I know it is in stores for around $12, but just in case here it is on amazon :) enjoy!

P.S. it comes in a smaller size too

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Rhubarb

I should probably start off by apologizing for my absence the past month. Let's just say life got away from me. But here I am! Hopefully back in the game for good :)

I have been doing this crazy Ideal Protein diet and drumroll please....

I have lost 40lbs! That is right, 40! As crazy as it is and as hard as it gets sometimes, it really and truly works. So this recipe can be IP friendly but it is also just a great way to get in your veggies!!!

Rhubarb. That big scary red thing that looks like celery. You may have heard of it used in pies such as Strawberry Rhubarb Pie but it can also be used alone! It is also very inexpensive--4 stalks for maybe $1.50.

Trim off the ends and slice it down the middle. Chop it up.





Throw it in the pot on medium heat and put about a teaspoon of vanilla extract and a teaspoon of water and start stirring. If it sticks to the bottom add more water.  Add about a tablespoon of cinnamon and 1/4 of a cups of splenda or stevia or whatever you use these days. Stir away.









It starts smelling like apple pie. Cut the heat and add 1/4 a cup of splenda brown sugar and stir until dissolved.

Now you have two options--either eat it out of a bowl like it is, yum! Or you can put them in tiny ramekins and add oatmeal to the top. I use the IP maple oatmeal but you can also use instant oatmeal. Add a little water to make a pasta and them spread the oatmeal mixture on top of the ramekins. Bake it in the oven at 375 until it is bubbly and brown.



May not look the best but it sure tastes good!!!

So there you have it! Veggies that taste like dessert :)

Thursday, February 28, 2013

My First Canning Adventure: Tomato Sauce

Over the last few weeks I have been channeling my inner 80 year old. For Lent I took on working on my kneeler for church. Yes, that's right, I needlepoint. So going with the old lady theme, I decided to take on canning. I have been super fascinated with it lately! After reading a million books on the techniques and tricks, I decided to give it a whirl.

Disclaimer: I am NOT an expert canner. This is my first attempt. EVER. I have not poisened anyone yet but no one has tried any of my sauce yet either! So forgive me if the science and amounts or anything is not up to par.

The first step in canning is getting the equipment. I started off by reading tons of books! I reccomend the Ball recipe book since they are in fact the canning experts. Also the book on the far left is wonderful as well! I bought mine on Amazon! Book One, Book Two, Book Three


Next comes the actual hardware. From all the sources I read you need a stainless steel stock pot. Other materials will react with your sauces. Copper is good too, but crazy expensive. I bought my big ole pot on Amazon. It is the Cuisinart kind that I knew I would use for other things as well as canning.


As far as canning supplies go I ordered this kit also found on Amazon. It comes with tongs, funnel, timer, stirer, magnetic lid placer and jar lifter tongs. 
I also went ahead and got a basket that dips the jars into the hot water bath...more on that later.
Ok, so now onto the actual food. I wanted to make a basic tomato sauce--one that could be turned into spaghetti sauce, pizza sauce or whatever you want!

This recipe makes 3 Pints

First you need 10 lbs of tomatoes. I bought roma. Luckily, my Kroger had a scale so I could weigh them! Cut off the ends and quarter them. Peel out the seeds with your fingers. Be prepared. It is A LOT of tomatoes. I watched some Pretty Little Liars while cutting :)

Here is where I veered a little from my recipe...they wanted me to heat everything and THEN puree it...instead of pouring hot tomatoes everywhere I pureed them first (don't worry, I found another recipe where someone did this).
Set all this aside. Dice up 2 small onions, garlic (I cheated and used the minced kind in a bottle) and about 2 tablespoons of basil.
In your big pot. Pour in some Olive Oil and cook your onions and garlic until translucent.
Add the pureed tomatoes and the fresh basil.
Now you cook and cook and cook. Bring it to a boil and then turn it to simmer for 45 minutes or until reduced by 1/3. It turns to a darker color too.
In the meantime, get everything else ready. In your big ole cheap pot (mine is from walmart) for the canning, put in tons of water to where it will be about 1 inch above the jars. Simmer the jars so they are hot for the sauce. I read a rule that says hot things go in hot jars and cool things go in cool jars.

In a separate little pot simmer the lids (not the rings).
When your sauce is done, use your tongs to pull out the jars and dump out the water. Put them on a clean towel to protect your table/counter. Using the funnel, fill your jars with sauce leaving about 1/2 inch of headspace.
In each jar you need to put a tablespoon of bottled lemon juice. Fill all the jars. Use the magnetic lid lifter and place them on the jar. Put on the rings and tighten them to just finger tight. When all the jars are ready, lower them back into the big pot with your rack. Bring the water to a boil and boil for 35 minutes.
After the time is up, pull up the basket and set the jars back on a towel and do not touch them for at least 12 hours. You will hear a popping sound when the lids seal. Touch the top after 1 hour and see if they pop in and out. If they do then yay! they are sealed. If not, then you need to refrigerate them ASAP!

Aren't they so cute?!?

Here is the original recipe from Ball for Basil-Garlic Tomato Sauce.

My final word on this is that it is not nearly as scary as I first thought it would be! I am sooo excited to try it all! Yum!









Friday, February 22, 2013

Ideal Protein Update

It's that time again...the time where I update you all on my crazy whirlwind of a diet. I started Ideal Protein on November 2nd and with only one real cheat month (birthdays, Christmas, etc) I have lost 41.4 pounds. I am in utter shock. If you have been reading for a while. you know I have tried just about everything! (I have not tried Weight Watchers so I will not comment on that) But nothing has worked for me...until now! I have lost 20 inches total. 20! That is the length of a new born baby!

So here is a basic day of eating for me:

Breakfast:
5 pieces of turkey bacon
1 Ideal Protein oatmeal

Snack:
Ideal Protein Cappuccino

Lunch:
2 cups of veggies (cucumbers)
4 ounces of homemade turkey meatloaf

Snack:
Protein Bar

Dinner:
2 more cups of veggies (zuchinni)
4 more ounces of protein

Right now I am averaging losing 3 pounds per week. But since I re-started this on last wednesday for lent I have lost 10 lbs! In 8 days!

I feel like a whole new person! 41 pound is a LOT of weight. I still have about 20 or so more to lose! But I am more than 1/3 of the way there!

I really suggest checking out the Ideal Protein Site so you can get the scoop on what they do! It is really quite phenomenal!

Maybe I will get gutsy enough to show you my before and after picture soon....It is quite scary to look at though!!!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Vanessa Craft Erin Condren Giveaway

From one OCD organizer to another...

Vanessa Craft (who has a SUPER cute blog) is doing a $25 Erin Condren giveaway! I think you all know my obsession with Erin Condren, right? So you should know that this is an incredible act of kindness for me to tell you about this giveaway because I WANT IT! So please don't enter so I can win....ok ok fine, you can enter too. Go HERE to enter to win! GOOD LUCK!




Saturday, February 9, 2013

Super Bowl Spread

This Super Bowl I went as healthy as I could. I took my favorite recipes: buffalo wings, mozzarella sticks and spinach dip; and made them healthy but still tasty. My splurge? Baked Brie. Was it worth it? Duh. Plus it is cheese. Is it really THAT bad? Shhh! Don't answer that...


On the menu:
Baked Buffalo Wings

After reading lots of recipes on both pinterest and food network I ended up creating my own based on all of the recipes that I read.

Ingredients:
1 package boneless skinless chicken tenders, cut into bite size pieces
1 cup of flour
3 eggs
1/4 cup of skim milk
Spices and seasonings--I used cavenders, paprika, pepper, onion powder and garlic powder
1 bottle Frank's Hot Sauce
Lite Blue Cheese Dressing

Preheat oven to 375

In one bowl combine the eggs and milk. In another combine the flour and all your spices. I LOVE cavenders. It goes in just about everything I make. I also just added (about a tablespoon) of onion powder, garlic powder and paprika. Play around with this. I think flavorful flour makes a flavorful chicken bite.

Dip the chicken in the egg and shake off excess. Dredge it in the flour (the lighter the better) and place on a baking sheet. Do this with all the pieces.

Bake for about 20-30 minutes or until golden. Flip halfway through.

Place cooked chicken in a big bowl and pour the hot sauce over. Give a good stir and serve hot!

I used Lite Blue Cheese dressing as a dipping sauce. You could use light ranch too.
How yummy do they look???

Skinny Spinach Dip

This recipe I found on SkinnyTaste--a yummy blog with healthy food!

Here is her recipe:
Hot Spinach Dip
Gina's Weight Watcher Recipes 
Servings: 10 • Serving Size: 1/4 cup Old Points: 2 pts • Points+: 3 pts

Calories: 92.2 • Fat: 6.8 g Carb: 3.0 g Fiber: 0.7 g Protein: 5.3 g



  • 10 oz frozen chopped spinach, thawed and excess liquid squeezed out
  • 1/2 cup light sour cream
  • 5 tbsp light mayonnaise
  • 1/3 cup Parmigiano Reggiano
  • 1/4 cup scallion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 cup (4 oz) shredded part skim mozzarella cheese
  • fresh pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 375°.

Combine all the ingredients in a medium bowl. Place in an oven-proof dish and bake at 375° for 20-25 minutes, until hot and cheese is melted. Serve right away.

 Click HERE for her full blog with pictures and all! Mine turned out really well! I served them with Baked Scoops.


Baked Mozzarella Sticks
These were by far the FAVORITE of the party. I found them on Pinterest. But it turns out they are from Skinny Taste too! Quickly becoming my go-to resource for food. Click HERE for the full recipe with pictures!

Basically you cut the cheese sticks in half (I used the weight watchers ones) and put them in the freezer. When they are frozen, roll them in flour, dip in egg and them dip in a mixture of Panko and Italian Breadcrumbs. Bake in the over at 350 for 20 minutes--turning once in between. SO yummy!!!

My brother (who is NOT so in to healthy foods) LOVED these! And asked me to make them again the next night. I call that a success.

Easy Baked Brie
This is one of my go-to party pleasers. It is SO easy and so yummy.

Ingredients:
1 Round of brie
1 can of crescent rolls
Jelly/Jam of your choice

Preheat the oven to 350.

Unroll the crescent rolls. Place the brie (white skin on) in the middle of the crescent rolls. Start wrapping the rolls up the sides, but leave the top open. Spread your favorite jam (I love raspberry) on top of the brie. Continue to cover in the crescent rolls.

Place in a round oven safe dish with a lip because when the brie is hot it will leak. Cook for about 20-30 minutes or until golden brown. Serve with nice crackers (we use Breton) and apples and/or grapes.

So there it is! My super bowl spread. It was so delish we ate it all for days!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Suave Shampoo Part 2

In a previous post on bargain deals and shampoo I talked about Suave's Rosemary Mint Shampoo and Conditioner. Well, Suave has done it again! Now they make different shampoos that are similar to Aveeda's more expensive brands. My new favorite is the Almond and Shea Butter kind. It is made for dry or damaged hair, but I think it works for anyone looking for a little bit for moisture. Plus it smells phenomenal!

They also make some for color treated hair!! Did I mention it is only $1.99 for this stuff??? Aveeno-like shampoo for under $2.00! How can you go wrong!!! Go try it! I promise you will be happy you did. I found mine at Wal-Mart!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

DIY Window with Magnetic and Chalkboard Paint

It seems 2013 is going to be the year for DIY projects...so here goes one of many!

I have a window in my laundry room that was filled in with plywood. Who knows why. But I decided it was the perfect place for some chalkboard paint! My brother pushed for dry erase board paint but I couldn't find that! But I did one up the chalkboard paint a little :)


At Lowe's I found Magnetic Paint! It was about $19 for a little can so a bit pricey but SO cool!! You use it as a primer...so of course I decided chalkboard paint HAD to go over it!!! You do three coats of magnetic paint (waiting at least 30 minutes in between each coat) and then do a few coats of chalkboard (I haven't decided how many yet bc you HAVE to wait 24 hours in between each coat...which ruins my fun).

What will I draw on my new chalkboard? Hmmm, well I haven't gotten that far. I am thinking grocery list? Cute quotes? Calendar? The world is my oyster!

I can't wait to show you the finished project! With magnets, chalk and more!

Also on the DIY list today? New curtains hung in the kitchen, lights put in my ceiling fan, new bedroom doorknob that will not fall off and new and improved floor vent covers! Eek! We did SO much today!!! Stay tuned for more of my home makeover projects!

P.S. My plants are getting bigger and bigger!! So stay tuned for more on them too :)

 

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Earth Box and Plants

I have always had a black thumb. I kill plants. Always have. But this year I am determined to grow some plants. Not just any plants, vegetables! So I can keep up my eating healthy by eating my own plants. I mean, how cool right? So after some research I discovered the best way to grow plants was in an earth box. What is this, you might ask. It is a big ole box that pretty much self waters itself and grows fabulous plants.

However, in order to plant the seeds you have to grow them a bit first. So I picked up some starter kits from Home Depot and some seeds and got crackin! After a mere 4 days here are my little babies!

As you can see, my label maker was rather helpful in this task. I am growing 8 vegetables: Arugula, Bibb Lettuce, Cabbage, Green Onions, Regular Onions, Spinach, Iceburg Lettuce and Broccoli. The lettuce ones are def the big growers though. Check out this arugula!



Such tall little sprouts. Anywho, next step. Put them in lots of sunlight and when they get bigger I will put them in the earthbox. So come springtime, I will have big ole great, yummy vegetables. Get ready for lots of big updates!!!

PS you can get an earthbox for about $45 from amazon :)

 

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Homemade Sugar Scrub

It seems this Christmas was the Christmas for crafts. So in an effort to join in the band wagon I whipped up a homemade body scrub. I am biased but I really really LOVE it! It makes my elbows and feet so so soft--which is hard to do in the winter months. It was also inexpensive and really fun to make!

Ingredients:
Coconut Oil--I bought my off of amazon but they have it at Whole Foods as well (by the vitamins)
Essential Oils--I also got these off amazon but I think even Wal-Mart has them!
Sugar--plain ole kroger brand for me
Jars--I used 4 ounce ones but you could make them much bigger! Just remember that people have to be able to fit their hands in the jar to get the scrub out!

Steps:

Heat up the coconut oil in the microwave--it is a solid like butter and needs to be melted to mix. Does this in the container for about 10 second intervals. It does not take much at all and I literally lit the jar on fire and one point because I left it in too long---it was scary. Use 2 parts of sugar for every 1 part of coconut oil. For my 4 ounce jars we did about 1/4 cup sugar (at 6 jars that is 1.5 cups). I did 6 jars in cinnamon and 6 jars in peppermint so I made 2 different batches. So mix 1.5 cups of the sugar with 3/4 cup of coconut oil. Drop in about 12-15 drops of the essential oil of choice (or more depending on how strong you want it).

Spoon the mixture into the jars. I labeled my lids with the date and scent. The mixture does harden some. You can either scrape it out of the jar or (my favorite) set the jar on the ground while you shower and it will heat up a bit itself. The coconut oil is the key--I read somewhere that you could use olive oil but I decided against it.

Here is the price break down:

Big Container of Coconut Oil: $17.00
Essential Oils (2): $6.00
Sugar: $.79
Jars: $10

That brings us to a total of $33.79--we will round it to $35 for tax and what not. 35 divided by 12 jars is $2.92 a jar! **I apologize to those of you who got these for Christmas and now realize how unbelievably cheap the were to make. It is the thought that counts right????

I also made a batch for myself and I keep it in a Tupperware container. It just floats in the bathtub to warm up and at the bottom of the shower.

So that is it! Easy peasy right???? Go make some! Now! It is SO simple! I can't believe I haven't been making my own scrub this whole time.

Tip: for super sensitive skin I read that you could use brown sugar instead of real sugar. Or salt would work just as well as sugar--but might hurt if you have a cut!


Thursday, January 3, 2013

Label Makers and New Beauty Tip

WOW. Somehow an entire month went by without me posting. Can we say busy? New Year's Resolution? Take the time to blog. Whew.

Here is a tiny update on my life and then away with all the personal stuff and bring on the good stuff! I am STILL doing Ideal Protein. After 7 weeks I had lost 32 lbs. Wowsies! 32 pounds! In 7 weeks! Crazy right?? I took a little break around Christmas (my first real cheat or break since November 3rd) and am back on track now. I will say I am not sure it was worth it to cheat because now it is even harder to get back on track. boo. School started back today which is great because I am MUCH better at controlling my food there! Hmm...what else? Christmas was superb. I got my Kindle Paperwhite! And of course I love it. Oh and a label maker...which brings me to my new post:

The Power of the Label
I know what you are thinking. Why would I waste my time labeling things? Well let's just say that the organizing guru's swear by it. It just makes life easier. And since we know that I may have some OCD tendencies (who me?) it just worked out dandy that I got one for christmas! Eek! Here is my gorgeous beauty:
So what have I labeled? Well my friends, you can label anything you damn well please. You can even IRON names onto the inside of clothes. The possibilities are endless. Of course the first thing I wanted to label was...well...EVERYTHING! But I restrained myself. I started off with things that I knew would be up high. For example I got a power drill (more on this later) and a tool bag (filled with man tools according to my uncle) and they both came in similar black bags. Now, since I do not use these all the time, they go on the shelf in the laundry room. But how to know which bag is which...the horror! Well, I labeled them. Problem solved. Now you just look at the shelf and boom. Knowledge. Scary huh? Ok, ok, so I MIGHT be carried away with this. But trust me on this one, it rocks. Have big tubs of purses, sweaters, etc? Label them. It doesn't fade away like sharpie. Did I mention it has fun pictures too?

So to spice up the rest of the post, for those of you who have been bored stiff by the talk of labeling things...I also wanted to through out my new favorite beauty tip. You know those Biore nose strips? the ones that are supposed to clean your nose of all the blackheads. While I have used them in the past I felt like they were not super effective...but I tend to have dry skin so this could just be me. BUT I discovered if you take a bath beforehand...BATH NOT SHOWER. A steamy, hot bath especially. And THEN you put the strip on after you get out...BAM! works like a magnet. I know they say that after a shower helps loosen up the skin. But nothing works better then literally sitting in steamy water. It was really crazy how well they worked.

Moral of the story? Go get a label maker and some Biore nose strips and get down to business...