Wednesday, April 16, 2014

What I Ate Wednesday {the collection of cell phone pics}

Another week or so of eats have accumulated on my phone. What better way to share them than a What I Ate Wednesday post!

I'm linking up with Jenn from Peas and Crayons. Be sure to check out some other bloggers' eats this week at the link-up.

When in Trader Joe's last week, I noticed a mix of greens that looked good in another family's cart. I pointed out the bag to Kaydin and sent her to the lettuce section to retrieve it. She succeeded! I ate this for my lunch multiple times with some Bolthouse Balsamic Vinaigrette, sliced almonds, and dried cranberries. Oh, and some baby carrots thrown in for good measure. The mix contains green and red cabbage, kale, and shredded brussel sprouts. My only complaint is that they didn't have an organic version of the mix. :(

Tim bought a new grill a few weeks ago. One that better last a loooong, long time. As long as the weather brings warmth and sunshine, we've been grilling!

When I learned of the sale on Nuttzo at their website, I jumped on it. $5 jars of organic nut and seed butter?!? Yes, please!

Last weekend I tried a new variation of meatloaf, Greek Turkey Meatloaf. Besides it falling apart, it was so good! Ground turkey mixed with chopped spinach, feta cheese, and oregano is a winning flavor combination! Try it! I paired it with a green salad and baked sweet and Yukon gold potatoes.

Last Saturday, my friend Summer hosted a wine tasting/brunch party. I never turn down a reason to hang out with the girls and her spread was delicious!

My friend Traci gave me a couple sample of greens that she is really happy with. Mixed with some green juice, they are the perfect pair.

Last night was our first softball game. A little too chilly since our hands were pretty frozen by the end of the game, but it was a lot of fun! Before we headed out to the field I put together this easy spread. Organic cornmeal crusted pollack fillets pan-fried in coconut oil with roasted green beans, cottage cheese, and rosemary garlic bread.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Seitan Gyros and Pizza Quinoa Bites {Taft Tastemakers Seitan Review}

Who out there has tried seitan?

I had always been intrigued and interested in the non-meat protein. A few months back Taft Tastmakers sent me two different flavors to try out, one a Gyro Mediterranean and the other a sausage flavor.

I went with the typical option for the gyro flavor. I have to say, it's not a dead-on substitute for lamb meat in a gyro, but it really was pretty good!

Greek Seitan Gyros

Makes 2 full pita pockets

8-10 strips of gyro seitan
1/2 cucumber, sliced
1 cup spring greens
1/4 of a red onion, sliced
1 small tomato, sliced
2 tbsp feta cheese
2 tbsp tzaztiki sauce
2 whole wheat pita pockets

1. Heat the strips of seitan in a pan until warm.
2. Fill the pita pockets with greens, tomato, cucumber, onion and seitan.
3. Top with tzatziki sauce and feta cheese.

Once I saw Kristin from Iowa Girls Eats publish a new post featuring the pizza quinoa bites, I knew the sausage seitan would be a great recipe to try it in. The sausage flavor was really good and a dead ringer for typical pork sausage in a pizza recipe.

Pizza Quinoa Bites with Sausage Seitan 
Adapted from Iowa Girl Eats

Makes 24-32 mini cups

2 cups cooked quinoa
2 whole eggs
2 egg whites
1/4 cup chopped white onion
1/2 cup sliced black olives
1/2 cup chopped Taft Tastemakers Seitan
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup mozzarella cheese
1 tsp Italian seasoning
pizza sauce, for dipping

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 24 cup mini muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray.
2. Mix all ingredients except the pizza sauce in a bowl and stir until combined well.
3. Fill the muffin tins to the top with the quinoa mixture.
4. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until tops are golden brown.
5. Serve with warmed pizza sauce.

Have you tried seitan before? I need some more ideas of how to use the non-meat option. Leave them for me in the comments!

Friday, April 11, 2014

10 Ways to Get Your Kids Active this Spring

I believe it's so important for children to be active. It's so important to instill in them an active lifestyle when they are young. And there are so many ways they can be up and moving, so many options all around us! Winter can be a time for hibernation, but now that those cold months are behind us (hopefully), it's time to get moving!

1. Play some music and have a dance party.
What kid doesn't enjoy rockin' out to some tunes?! You might even realize you have a graceful ballet artist or bada** break dancer in the family!



2. Turn off the TV
Kids can't be sedentary in front of the TV if it isn't even turned on. That simple!


3. Enroll them in a community sport
Kaydin has been pretty active participating in soccer, softball, dance, and gymnastics. Exposing children to community activities brings many more benefits than just the competition aspect. They learn new athletic skills, they become part of team and learn to work with others, and they most likely have lots of fun participating. Not every sport may be for them (Kaydin wasn't a big fan of soccer) but at least she learned about it, got out there and tried!


4. Take a family walk around the neighborhood after dinner
A relaxing stroll around the neighborhood is a great way to wind down after a busy day. You get some quality family time in and also exercise for the whole group.

5. Limit the amount of time on the TV, Ipad, smartphone, or home computer
We have a rule in our house of 30 minutes TV time on weekdays and 60 minutes on weekends. We had to enforce that after Kaydin was becoming too interested and involved in a few Disney channel shows. Some kids wouldn't move an inch away from that video console and couch for hours if you let them. Set time limits for these devices and when that limit is up, it's time to get moving and be active!

6. Walk the dog
We have a Husky and Malamute at home. Two large dogs that have tons of energy to burn off everyday. Have kids with energy to burn off, too? A perfect pair!

7. Play catch in the yard
Or kick the soccer ball, get out the volleyball, volley a badminton birdie, etc. Playing these games in the yard isn't too strenuous, requires only minimal equipment and you don't even have to leave home. It's not a hard activity but it gets you both off the couch, away from the screens, and having fun!

8. Pull the bikes out and go for a ride
Most kids are always up for a bike ride. Strap on their helmet, hop on and let the wind blow through their hair! :)

9. Volunteer. Get out there and be involved in a service project in your community.
Kaydin and I have recently become involved with a local women and children's homeless shelter, New Directions Shelter. Here Kaydin can play with some of the kids, we can help with yard work outside, and help with any other things that need accomplished. There are always organizations looking for volunteers to help and make an impact with others that really need it. Do some research in your community, see what you can find out!

10. Explore the fun activities in your community. 
We have so many fun things to partake in when the weather gets nice. The farmers markets will be starting again soon, mini golf courses will be opening up, Sky Zone is always a fun place to go and you are guaranteed the kids will burn off tons of energy, the zoo is always popular this time of year, and parks and lake areas can keep kids busy with hours of activity. Really take the time to learn about all the offerings your own community has. The options are endless!

Check out this infograph on one of my past posts. The stats are crazy! Change is far overdue. Play your part in our kids' healthy habits and good health!

How will you or your family be getting active this spring season?

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Paint Sample Easter Egg Garland

I have a quick and easy Easter craft that you can whip up in about 30 minutes. Plenty of time to still make it and get it displayed this season!

I've had this project pinned to my Spring Pinterest board for awhile now and when browsing some pins I noticed it again. Perfect timing! 

All it takes are a few supplies and you're set. Pick out some multi-color paint samples from your local home improvement store and head to Google to find an Easter egg template. I used this one.

Also needed, are a pen or pencil, scissors, hole punch and something to string all the eggs together. I used jute twine for this part.

Use the egg template to stencil the pattern onto all the paint samples. Use the back of the sample so there are no pencil marks on the colored side. Also, pay special attention to make sure you choose the side of the sample with no words to stencil on. Next, cut out of the eggs using your scissors.

After all of your eggs are cut, use the hole punch to make the holes near the top to string them all together. Don't put them too close to the top or close together to keep an even, sturdy pattern when it hangs.

Next, string the eggs onto the twine making sure they are evenly spaced.

About 30 minutes later you have yourself a new spring mantle decoration!

I chose to string the eggs by in order of similar color, but you could mix all the colors up, follow the colors of the rainbow, light to dark... how ever you would like!

Original source of project. Unfortunately, I can't find the exact post, just the blog it originated from.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Treat Yourself Tuesday

For many weeks now, Becky has been hosting a Treat Yourself Tuesday linkup. After lots of treats this weekend, I thought it was the perfect week to finally join in. Head over here to read more about Becky's linkup and the philosophy behind it. 

Thursday night I learned from Jamie's Instagram post that Dairy Queen's confetti cake blizzards were back. I was just thinking to myself that I hoped they'd be back this summer. They're the April blizzard of the month so I figured a Friday afternoon was the perfect time to hit up the ice cream shop for a kickoff to the weekend.

On Saturday and Sunday we did some shopping both for groceries and some bargain finds at TJ Maxx and Marshall's. I really was only browsing those stores to find some new baskets for our laundry room. Right now I just really hate the set up and was determined find something to keep the dirty clothes off the floor and hidden. I did find some I loved among many other things!

When I found this multi-pack of EOS lip balms at Costco for only $10.99 they immediately went into the cart.

My new, totally-unnecessary-but-wanted-it-so-bought-it-anyway purse. I usually take more time deciding on purses and don't spend much at all per purse.  I walked past this one in Marshall's, knew I liked it, picked it up, and off to the register we went. Not sure why I made that impulsive decision but oh, well! I still love it and don't regret it! Treat yourself, right?!? :)

Two new Iowa State sweatshirts to add to the collection. Now I'm definitely set for fall. Bring on college football season!

I usually wouldn't choose a white sweatshirt, but it was marked down to $10. Can't pass on that!

I had been craving and thinking about blue cheese for a few weeks now. I ate a bunch while in the Dominican and wanted some for home. I picked out a flavor that they were sampling at Whole Foods and it was on sale! Score!

While I was wrapped up in my excitement of the EOS lip balms, Kaydin ogled over the fresh, bright flowers. She picked the most florescent colored ones she could find to bring home with us.

It had been months since I'd had any cookie butter in the house. It was time! Enough said.

Saturday night at about 7:30 I got a sudden craving for cake. I asked Kaydin if she wanted to run to Hy-Vee for some cake. She definitely thought I was joking since that's not a normal thing. A fun, impulsive, delicious end to our Saturday night!

I took a chance on this big container of strawberries we found at Costco. Still a little early in my opinion to get really good ones. There are definitely a bunch of winners in the package. Perfectly sweet and juicy.

How did you treat yourself this weekend?
Also included in our treats this weekend were some good finds for Kaydin. She picked out a new swimsuit, shoes for my brother's wedding this fall and also a really cute dress for the rehearsal dinner. I don't want to spoil her outfit, though, so you'll see those things later this year. :)

Thursday, April 3, 2014

A Day in the Life- 3.31.14

I always love reading people's A Day in the Life posts. I figured it was about time I post one, too! :) This type of day is pretty standard for us. Mondays Kaydin and I always stay at the apartment as opposed to the new house because Tim has a standing meeting in Ames. He serves as the Chapter Director of his fraternity and they always have the chapter meeting Monday nights. 

It wasn't too hard to keep notes and recall what happened throughout this particular day but I realized if I try to do this again, I definitely need to take more pics! 

Monday, March 31, 2014

6:36a- alarm goes off. I hit snooze. My snooze button is programmed for six minutes intervals. It takes a few before I'm actually out of bed.

6:58- finally keep my eyes open to check email and Instagram. I actually hate it when I do this in the morning because it sucks me in and I stay in bed far longer than I like.

7:14- get out of bed. Put in my contacts and brush my teeth. Start hassling Kaydin to get out of bed.

7:39- get dressed. Finish getting Kaydin ready and get all things gathered to get out the door.

7:49- leave the apartment. Few minutes later than I like but we're doin ok.

7:55- drop Kaydin off at school for the before school program. Her school day starts at 9:05. Far too late for me to take her to school when it starts. She goes to the before school program every morning and eats breakfast there, too, most mornings.

8:05- get to the office. Unpack my bags (lunch, phone, make-up bag), fill my water bottles, and get settled in. Check my email. 

8:15- Realize it's pay day and log on to my bank account, pay a credit card bill, fix satellite bill due to a new debit card and the auto pay needs updated. Put mascara on. That's the only make-up I wear most days and usually just put it on at my desk with a small compact mirror.

8:25- dig in to some more of my daily work. This morning I'm finalizing some grant counts and statistics.

9:30- decide to eat some breakfast- steel cut oats with roasted sweet potato, almond milk, brown sugar, and pecans. I got a pic, but with it being just in a little tupperware container, it looked less than appetizing. Next time I make it, though, I'll get some pics to share. So good! I can't take credit for the idea, though. One of my co-workers tipped me off to the concoction. 

9:35- do some more work while eating.

11:00- take a break to eat a string cheese.

11:05- work on some grant award paperwork that needs submitted to the agency.

11:45- eat part of my lunch, a Stonyfield vanilla Greek yogurt with Uncle Sam cereal with hemp seeds, before heading to a presentation across campus.

1:10p- return to my office, eat lunch (baked yukon and sweet potato with butter, salt and pepper and apple with peanut butter), read a few blogs posts and more work. 

2:00- weekly meeting with my boss to discuss issues that have come up or need addressed in the past week.

2:45- non-work related chat with a co-worker that I hadn't seen yet that day.

3:05- change for the gym. We have a full gym and workout facility on campus and are allowed to use the gym during our work day (for a reasonable amount of time). I love this perk because I can get my workout in most days before even leaving the office to pick up Kaydin. Plus, the wellness center staff offers classes we can take throughout the day, too!

3:15- head to the gym.

3:48- back from the gym to check email and finish any last quick tasks before leaving for the day.

3:55- Leave work to pick Kaydin up from school.

4:10- Stop by Walgreens on the way home for a couple things.

4:25- home. Start prepping dinner. Tonight it's smashed Yukon potatoes like Iowa Girl Eats just made, salmon for me, shrimp for Kaydin and quinoa.

4:45- make fruit smoothie in my Ninja Ultima for Kaydin and I to share to tide us over until we back from gymnastics.

5:00- turn on the local 5 o'clock news and help Kaydin with her math homework.

5:20- finally get Kaydin to change into her leotard so we can go to gymnastics.

5:27- drop Kaydin off at the gym and go tanning at the place nearby.

5:40- while waiting for a bed to open up take a call from a Drake journalism student. The weekend before I got an email asking if she could interview me for a blog/health article she was writing.

5:52- call ends. My name is finally called for an open bed.

6:05- head back to the gym to watch the last of Kaydin's class.

6:40- home from gymnastics and oven goes on. Get the last of dinner ready to be popped into the oven. Shower quick while the oven is heating.

6:50- pop dinner in the oven.

7:15- eat dinner. Realize the DVR timer for the series finale of How I Met Your Mother is not running. Realize Kaydin turned it off. Missed the first 15 minutes. Oh well!

8:00- get Kaydin ready for bed- pajamas on, teeth brushed, sleep cap on, bladder emptied, and tucked in.

8:10- load dishwasher and start it.

8:15- decide to finally quit putting off sewing her broken backpack and get it done while watching TV in bed. The new CBS sitcom, Friends with Better Lives is pretty funny! Might be a winner.

8:45- Kaydin is up and out of bed.Tuck her in one last time after having her pee one last time before she finally falls asleep.

8:50- Brush my teeth and take contacts out. Watch two DVR'ed episodes of Hawaii 5-0.

10:30- Lights out to get some sleep before we do it all again the next day!

And that's a typical day for us. Always busy and moving, just how I like it! :)

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Weekend Update and Weekly Meal Plan

Hi Friends!

Just a quick post today to tell ya a few things...

We had a great weekend! Finally some great weather so we were able to spend some time outside. We had softball practice Saturday morning with Kaydin's team. It was so fun!! It was great to spend some time with the girls learning about them and teaching them softball skills. I led the grounders station and Tim helped with the hitting station. So excited for the season!

Later that day I ran some errands, we spent some time outside playing catch, and we hit up a local spot, The Other Place, for an easy dinner out.

Sunday we had some more warm weather so we took advantage. First though, we enjoyed a great breakfast cooked by Tim. He's really becoming quite the cook and I think he's enjoying it! :) I know I am! It's nice to share that responsibility.

We spent the day cleaning up the yard, took the dogs for a long walk, cleaned up the apartment and planted some seeds for the garden!

I'll probably talk in more detail about the process and materials I used once I see some sprouts. I want to make sure my method was successful before I go explaining it. ;)

Weekly Meal Plan
Shrimp and grits
Lemon and dill salmon with quinoa and smashed yukon potatoes
Tilapia Foil Packets with potatoes and carrots
Egg Salad

I didn't follow my Meatless March challenged to a T all month but this week I am, even though it's April now! I stocked up on seafood last week and now we're putting it to good use.

Will you be growing a garden this year?

Friday, March 28, 2014

Five Things Friday 3.28.14

It's Friday!!

Hi Friends! Tell me...what do you have going on this weekend? We have a few things planned. I'm really hoping the weather comes through!

8 Day Forecast

Sunday it's supposed to be in the low 70's! I don't even remember what that feels like. Sure, I was in the hot Caribbean temps just recently but that was 87 degrees and hot! I hope you find yourself soaking up some sunny spring weather wherever you are, too!

Let's jump into a few other things I can update you on for this Five Things Friday:

1. Back to reality. After spending last week in the 85 degree temps and lounging on the sandy beach, I made it back home to Iowa to be thrown back into the reality of a reluctant spring and five day work week. It's always nice to get away because I love to travel, but actually, I'm one for routine. Vacations are great and always welcome but so is my home life. I missed my two sidekicks too much! :)

2. Blend. I finally booked my flights! Now it's even more real, I'm definitely going! :) Because of crappy schedules and high fares, I decided to go in on Thursday after reaching out to my Blend, Becky, who is also planning to come in Thursday.

I'm Attending Blend

3. Iowa State Sweet 16 game. Like the rest of the state I'll be watching our Cyclones take on UConn tonight in the Sweet 16 game. So excited to get home, put some comfies on and watch them hopefully come out with a win!

4. Softball. This year I am one of the coaches for Kaydin's T-ball team and tomorrow is our first practice. I'm so excited it's ball field season again. I'm not sure how much longer she'll stick with the sport as she's much more into dance and gymnastics so I'm gonna try and savor this season.

5. New Asics.  I found a great deal on that I couldn't pass up. The Kayano 19's were on sale for almost 50% off! I was needing a new pair since my 18's are almost two years old so I jumped on the deal. You can too! It's still going on! Plus, with you get free shipping!

That's all for today! I hope you have an awesome weekend!