Thursday, April 23, 2015

Things I'm Loving

Just a few things I've been loving lately...

theSkimm

TheSkimm

Its Skimm Day! I've been getting theSkimm emails since last fall. Love it! theSkimm is a daily email service that sends a summary of the world's biggest news stories right to your inbox every morning. It's one of the first things I read every day. It's nice to get a quick version of what's going on, plus the humor included is great. Use this link to sign up if you'd like to get the latest headlines delivered straight to your inbox.

Fed Up


(source)

This documentary is a must-see for everyone in our country. I really love nutrition documentaries in general but this one is really good. It focuses on the childhood obesity epidemic that our nation is being plagued with and the goverment's role in keeping it an epidemic. Such great insight that all parents and even kids should hear. Plus, it features some of my favorite nutrition experts and activists. Marion Nestle, Michael Pollan, Robert Lustig, Mark Hyman. #nerdalert

**A calorie burned is a calorie burned. A calorie eaten is not a calorie eaten.

Old Navy Active Wear


I swear by the Old Navy Active Wear line. Especially the sports bras. When I got an email of a one day sale for $6 sports bras, that was my first stop when I got off work yesterday. I got all of the above for only $41! You can never have too many workout tops or sports bras!

Almond Breeze Almond Coconut Milk


Have you tried the Almond Breeze Almond Coconut yet? So good! Kaydin is a huge fan of coconut milk and loves this almond coconut milk blend just as much. Blue Diamond reached out offering the chance to try this flavor and I was happy to accept given that it's already a regular purchase for us! Didn't have to twist my arm to share with the world. Great for cereal, smoothies, even baking! And Kaydin's favorite- by the glass full! :)

I was given free product but no other compensation was offered. All opinions are my own.

My life

Yep, loving life! So much has been going lately. Some things normal, basic routine parts of life, others just simple family time, and others different out of ordinary happenings. I'll hopefully get around to documenting it here soon. I've been slacking in updating this "online journal" of mine and I miss it!


Anything you are loving lately?


Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Easter Weekend 2015

I always love the Easter season! It means spring is here (or at least really close), green grass, warmer weather and sunshine!


And that's what we were treated with this year over Easter weekend. It's the nicest one I can remember for the last several years.

We loaded up the dogs and made the trip north Saturday morning to spend the day with my family. I was excited to get up there because I got an unfortunate and scary call from my mom on April 1st telling me the fire department was at their place. She tells me, "Well the fire department is here. Our place is on fire." Surprisingly she seemed pretty calm, but I was the one freaking out yelling for her to tell me what was going on and if the house was on fire. Luckily, it wasn't and they predicted it wouldn't turn that way either. It was the grove of trees, Kaydin's playhouse and possibly the big garage where they store lots of things. I didn't get much time on the phone with her because my dad had just rushed into the driveway. She called him when she saw the fire and he flew home from work. I was at work in Des Moines and nervous and just hoping for more news soon. 

My brother, Josh, texted me shortly after I got off the phone with her asking if' I'd talked to Mom. I told him yes I had and that she scared the sh*t out of me! He responds, "Is it an April Fool's Day joke?" I realized it was April 1st, that she seemed calm and her story didn't make much sense. I realized she had got us good, that it was all just a joke. I didn't get to live out that much preferred scenario for long, though, because she sent us a picture of many fire trucks in the yard! 

Ten firetrucks turned up on the property to fight the blaze but it all turned out fairly well considering. Kaydin's playhouse was completely burned along with everything in it. Lots of yard decorations and garden supplies among lots of others things. They lost a few big trees and the big garage had some flames start on the west side of it but the firefighters were able to out that out early and nothing was lost, just a few burn marks on the wooden walls. Dad replaced the roof with tin last year and it's a good thing he did or it would've have gone up in flames just as fast as the playhouse did. When Mom saw smoke out the kitchen window and ran to the backyard, the playhouse was completely engulfed in flames higher than she's ever seen.

The After

The Before

It's sad that we lost the playhouse because it was built by hand by my dad and Josh using old barn wood from the property, but it could have ended up much, much worse. I'm just glad the wind wasn't coming from the other direction or the house might've been in more danger.


 
After checking out the burned damage and hearing Mom and Dad's stories, Kaydin hopped on her four wheeler and was anxious to give me a ride. That little dare devil drives too fast in my opinion, but at least she wears her helmet!



She disappeared for a few minutes so Dad went out back to see what she was doing. The next thing I see is them pushing the thing. Guess she ran out of gas! Papa to the rescue! 

After we ate lunch and let the dogs run around for awhile, we headed into town for the annual egg hunt. She's participated in this one a few times in years past and there's always a huge turnout! 






This year she actually ran and tried hard to get in there and fight for eggs. She was really hoping for a piece of paper indicating a special prize. Sadly, she didn't find one but it was still a fun event we ran into some other family too. Aunts and cousins that live in the area or were home for the holiday weekend.


Back home we went and set up the ladderball game. We packed Tim's since Mom and Dad's was burned in the playhouse. Kaydin chose her Dad as her partner but they couldn't pull out a win. Papa and I racked up the points faster than they could! :)




Lunch was a mix of lots of delicious options with scalloped potatoes and ham as the main dish. A hands off entree makes for a pretty easy cooking day! 

I made a new to us salad with toffee baked pretzels, whipped cream, cream cheese, and strawberries. Turned out so well! I think it will be making more appearances on our holiday dinner tables. I also made a classic jello cake topped with whipped cream, the real stuff. No Cool Whip was in our desserts this year and it's so much better! Take the time and whip heavy cream with vanilla beans and a little powdered sugar. Real ingredients and delicious! I think for the most part, I've converted my parents.



I kicked Kaydin out of the family of four picture and she was not happy! So she had her own little photo shoot with her auntie and uncle posing like a little bunny. Kerstin and Kaydin were making lots of funny faces but no one told josh so he just sat there smiling like a good little boy. LOL

We headed back home that evening to be home for the Easter Bunny to visit Kaydin Baby at home. She was up bright and early checking her basket to see if he visited. He did and she immediately put her new movie, Big Hero 6, in the blu ray player. After that was over we had to watch Hop, an Easter tradition since we went to the theater to see it the year it was released on Easter.

After lounging for part of the morning while listening to the church sermon through the live stream, it was time to clean her room detangle her hair, and head out for lunch at Bravo.


She was bribed to eat the whole squids that ended up on our appetizer plate. That kid will eat almost anything Tim tries coaxing her into. Not surprisingly, she agreed to his offer and ate what he was encouraging her to, just like every other time. Surprisingly, she liked it!  


My entree choice was so good! Two homemade biscuits topped with arugula, bacon, eggs, and a creamy sriracha sauce. Loved it!


Another treat for the day was heading to the movie, Home. Kaydin had been asking for weeks to see the movie, even before it came out. So with not much more on the agenda for the day, we headed to the theater. Tim reeeeeally loved it! #totalsarcasm  It was a cute movie though!

The rest of the day was spent relaxing on the couch and and not doing too much of anything.

Did you have a good Easter weekend?

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Pin It Party 3.0

I'm joining in on another Pin It Party hosted by Lindsay at The Lean Green Bean!

pin-it-party

I looked back and it has been almost two years since I've participated in the Pin It Party linkups. CANNOT even believe it's been that long! I was searching through spring of 2014 archive posts cuz I really thought it had only been about a year. Crazy how fast time goes by.

Anyway...we are all Pinterest addicts, am I right?? Actually, I had really laid off and got burnt out because I started using it a lot back in early 2011 before it was very popular. (Although, I have gotten back into the habit of scrolling through the app the last couple months while I'm laying in bed at night.) In fact, I even remember that the way the Pinterest's creators actually originally envisioned the site was NOT to be self-promotion. That's the guidance the site gave in the beginning anyway. I specifically remember that it read Pinterest was not to be used for self-promotion.

Today, Pinterest operates in a completely different manner. People are constantly hawking their own websites and lots even get most of their hits and income from Pinterest. Since I remember and was participating in Pinterest during the early days, I wasn't too fond of the idea of all the self-promotion and the animal it's turned into. But technology changes and evolves everyday and more and more people are earning their living and supporting their families off of their websites and pinned content.

Of course, I have no desire to make this blog my sole career and income (hence why this is only my 10th post of 2015) and truly enjoy my work outside of my home. To those that have do earn their income by route of an online website and using Pinterest, more power to you and I'm sometimes jealous of your entrepreneurial spirit. Now, with all that said, how about a little bit of self-promotion and going against everything I just said above ;) And know that this post will probably earn me zero, zilch, nothing :) I just have a few recipes I'd like to mention again because they are that good!


Fresh Pressed Green Juice + Juicing 101




Blueberry Lemon Buttermilk Pancakes




Crab Rangoon Pizza




Bacon, Blue Cheese, Spinach Puff Pizza




Hop on over to Lindsay's link up page to find even more delicious recipes and lots, lots more, I'm sure!

Find me on Pinterest here! :)


Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Garden 2014 recap

I finally had the chance to have my own garden last year! Dad, Josh and Tim helped me build it and Kaydin helped me weed, water and harvest it throughout the summer.

The first year was spent learning how things would grow in the area, how rain would run off (It didn't. Instead I had many swampy floods through my rows of veggies), and if the soil was deep and healthy enough. Some tweaks are in order as well as lots of expansion for 2015! I've got my plan made, seeds in hand, and hopefully some little seedlings growing at my brother's house!

But first I thought I'd do a quick run down of what happened last year.

In late April we built the garden, throughout May we added lots of soil, planted seeds and picked up plants at the farmer's market. June was spent hoping my seedlings would make it through the streams all the rain brought barreling through the backyard, and July and August I was actually able to harvest some stuff!

Besides all the rain I also tried combating all the rabbits that kept eating all my little plants. The beets tops had to grow back three times! I used all of the piles of dog hair that is abundant at our house during the spring and summer and that helped a little I think. I also paired that with marigolds that I've read is also supposed to deter rabbits. Finally, I would sometimes use a liquid pepper spray that my brother mixed up for me. It never solved the problem completely but the situation got better as the summer went on.
















This fall I closed up the garden by adding all the compost I made throughout the spring and summer and covering the soil with some straw I got from Wills Orchard in Adel. 


Herbs- as always, my herbs did well and lots were harvested and preserved. I grew oregano, mint, basil, and rosemary.

Carrots- lots of green growth but because the backyard is new and mostly clay, I didn't get much of a harvest but a few knubs. I read that you can make pesto out of carrot tops so I saved them but never actually got around to making them into something.

Cucumbers- harvested many! And make some pickles.

Zucchini- Plant grew really well, harvested a handful of fruits and then the vines turned to mush and died. At least I got a few out of it.

Beets- Like the carrots, the beets didn't grow large. I only salvaged a few very small beets. I did however, enjoy the tops!

Bell peppers- A few small ones grew throughout the season that I was able to chop up and use.

Tomatoes, cherry- This plant performed well and I got lots of little tomatoes throughout the whole summer. Next time I will remember to empty my pockets every time I come in from the garden and not leave a few little guys in my jacket pockets for weeks! Yeah, not a fun find that far down the road.

Tomatoes, heirloom- I was able to get a few fruits from each plant. The plants just did not do well since they received so much water. I planted them on the west side of the garden and that was the first place all the rain streamed in. Plus, most of the fruit that did grow developed blossom end rot. Guess I'll be making sure I get more calcium in the soil this year.

Kale- not one single leaf grew this year. I had some rally small little guys going and then the rain would come. Then it would dry out an so would the plant. Major fail but I sure hope I get lots harvested this year!

Here's to lots of pounds harvested in 2015! Can't wait!


Have you grown a garden before?


Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Make Ahead Freezer Smoothie Packs {+ Smoothies with Blue Diamond Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk}

During the winter my smoothie making usually goes on a hiatus. Just too cold to sip on a drink containing ice or frozen fruit.


A couple weeks ago, though, as the temps have started to rise, I pulled my smoothie ingredients out of the freezer and cupboard. Since we're coming back around to smoothie making weather I wanted to make the fast and easy meal even faster and easier.


It just took 15-20 minutes of my time on a Sunday afternoon and I mixed together lots of smoothie packs that are now just waiting for me pull out in the mornings when we're short on time.


To add even more nutrients, my liquid of choice when blending smoothies has been Blue Diamond Unsweetened Vanilla almond milk. Adds such a creamy texture and lots of calcium without the dairy. I mixed one up for Kaydin that had grapes, berries, and almond milk and it was her favorite one I've made in a long time. Sometimes just the fruit with no other added sweetener leaves her requesting honey. This time she sucked it down no problem stating she loved it! I credit it to the almond milk adding great flavor and creamy texture.


Make ahead freezer smoothie packs

tsp or two chia seeds
tsp or two hemp hearts
tsp or two wheat germ
1 cup mixture your choice of fruit (fresh or frozen)
handful of spinach
2-3 ice cubes
sandwich size plastic bags

Add all ingredients to the bag.
Store in the freezer and pull put when ready to blend a smoothie.



*Disclaimer- This post is sponsored by Blue Diamond. All opinions are my own.


Monday, March 16, 2015

Crockpot Corned Beef and Cabbage Soup

Every March the impending St. Patrick's Day holiday always has me craving corned beef and cabbage.


Last fall, my brother, Josh, introduced me to a new variation of the Irish classic. He sent me home with a bowl of corned beef and cabbage soup he'd recently made. It was fully enjoyed that week for my lunch at work.


I've been waiting for March to get here ever since so I could recreate his version of the St. Paddy's Day staple!


I didn't get much help in the recipe department though...

Me: Send me your corned beef soup recipe.
Josh: There isn't one. Put sh*t together.

Well ok then! He gave me the list ingredients and I was on my own.


But really, though, you don't need a precise recipe to pull this meal together. Just the known ingredients and your trusty crockpot!


We've always paired our corned beef roast dinners with potatoes, carrots, and onions. Just as we do with traditional roast beef. Those ingredients make up this soup recipe, too!

And-- just because we've been getting lucky with some awesome 60-70 degree weather doesn't mean your crockpot has to be packed away until next winter. I like to use the crockpot year round to achieve a great meal with minimal work. The crockpot is the perfect tool to get your corned beef pull-apart tender.



Corned Beef and Cabbage Soup

Ingredients
1 package corned beef (weight depends on how meaty you want your soup. I used one that was about 1 1/2 lbs) + spice packet that comes with the roast
1/2 bag baby carrots
1 large onion, cut into large chunks
2 lbs of 5 lb bag of Yukon gold potatoes (about 10-12 potatoes), quartered
1 medium head of cabbage, cut into large chunks
1 32 oz carton beef broth
2-3 cups water
1 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried parsley

Directions
1. Optional step: The day or night before you want to make your soup, place corned beef in crockpot on low and cook for 6-8 hours.
2. If cooking all in one day: Add corned beef and a few splashes of broth to crockpot. Cook on low for 6 hours.
3. Add remaining ingredients and cook on low another 4 hours or until all veggies are tender.
4. Shred corned beef before serving so it's evenly distributed throughout the soup.




What are your go-to foods for this time of year?
I'm thinking a mint milkshake with some thin mints thrown in is in order this week!