Monday, July 30, 2012

DIY Crayon Canvas Art

I completed another craft project! This time a really fun one to spruce up Kaydin's room.
If you are on Pinterest, I'm sure you've seen this melted crayon canvas art.  It was surprising easy and really cheap!  I got my crayons from Kaydin's art box. Turns out she had a couple boxes of unused 24 packs of crayons in her art box already. But if you get your Crayola crayons now, they're only $.50 on sale during back to school time.  I also just happened to catch a great sale at Micheal's. I was in there browsing one day and realized I still needed to get a canvas to make this particular project. I found a 2-pack for only $5! Score!!
Supplies needed are minimal, also. Just a glue gun, a few glue sticks (I went through three), and a blow dryer.
The most time consuming part was gluing each individual crayon onto the canvas. Tedious task, but not unbearable. Make sure to face the Crayola label out so it is uniform.

Little Miss even helped with the melting. We found that using the high setting helped to melt the crayons really fast but once it started to drip, we quickly changed the blow dryer setting to low or else the wax would splatter everywhere. Once you got a some good "drippage" just guide your air stream down the canvas to make the lines of wax.


I  love our finished product! And the splatters that occurred when we didn't get the low setting flipped on in time made it even better. I love those colorful splatters at the bottom the canvas.

It's a really easy project but my artsy brother, Josh, should be proud! :)
'

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Zucchini Bread- A Healthy Version!

Last weekend when my mom visited us in Des Moines, she brought with her some loot for the garden. Sweet corn, tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, and zucchinis! I knew right away I'd be making some zucchini bread.
I've used a few different recipes through years but nothing that was that great. I wanted to find a new one to try out this year. A quick Google search turned up a bunch of recipes to sift through. I chose the right one, though, cuz this certain recipe was a winner! I did make a couple small changes but it turned out great!
The original recipe called for canola or peanut oil, I used coconut oil; it also called for using some all-purpose flour, instead I used whole wheat white flour and whole wheat flour. These slight changes made the bread even healthier!




Whole Wheat Zucchini Bread
Adapted from Simple Bites
Ingredients
Dry ingredients:
  • 1 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat white flour
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground cinnamon (or 1 Tablespoon pre-ground)
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (or pre-ground)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
Wet ingredients:
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil
  • 3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt  (or homemade plain yogurt)
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk (or regular milk with a splash of vinegar)
  • 1 cup organic Turbinado sugar (or brown sugar, firmly packed)
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups finely grated zucchini
  • 4 oz dark chocolate, chunked
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Oil a loaf pan, muffin pan, or mini loaf pans.
  2. In a bowl, sift together dry ingredients and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, beat eggs until foamy; beat in yogurt, buttermilk, oil, sugar, and vanilla. Combine well. Stir in grated zucchini and chopped chocolate.
  4. Fold flour mixture into the wet ingredients and stir until combined.
  5. Spoon batter into pan. Bake for approximately 50 minutes.


What's your favorite recipe for zucchini?
I once made some savory zucchini patties. Those were petty good, but bread is definitely my favorite way to use them.  Well- besides sliced and grilled with seasonings :) 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Greek Dip and a Girls Night Out

This year for my birthday, I decided it would be fun to get together with some girlfriends since the last couple years I hadn't done too much. I'd been craving this Greek dip and I hadn't made it for awhile now so I figured this was the perfect time to bring it back out.  This is a super easy dish to make that can be used for many occasions and meals. It would be the perfect snack or even a light meal that doesn't require turning on the oven during the horrendously hot summer days.
I really hate to wish away summer, but this year I am looking forward to fall even more than I normally am. The only thing you can do outside in this sweltering heat is spend time at the pool. Kaydin baby's hair can only take so much chlorine-- and I can only take so much detangling! Let me just say again that I am ready for fall (or at least temps below 100 degrees).

First, layer a thin spread of plain Greek yogurt. Next, comes the hummus, your flavor of choice. On top of the hummus goes the tzatziki sauce.

Once your "spreadables" are laid, you are free to add whatever vegetables you choose. The best choices to match the yogurts and hummus are red onion, tomato, cucumber, kalamata olive, red and yellow bell pepper, and artichokes. Lastly, add a sprinkling of feta cheese. Perfection!

I put together a healthy little spread for us to munch on through the afternoon and evening before we headed out to dinner at Buffalo Wild Wings.
The two white substances in the small bowls are a ranch dip and fruit dip.
For the ranch dip, I simply mixed 16 ounces plain Greek yogurt with a ranch dressing packet.
For the fruit dip, I combined 8 ounces cream cheese with one container of marshmallow cream. So easy and SO good! This is my favorite variation of fruit dip out there!

Little Miss crashed the party AND the fruit bowl!



Not often do I head out to the bars these days, but it's always fun getting together with the girls! Cheers!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Whole Foods Birthday

Friday night Tim, Kaydin and I planned to go out to dinner for my birthday. I knew exactly where I wanted to go!


Whole Foods opened earlier in West Des Moines this week.  I knew it'd be a zoo to visit in the first week of opening, but we decided to brave the crowds anyway.  Kaydin and I got there a little before Tim on Friday evening leaving us some time to do some exploring. 

I can't wait to start shopping out of these bulk bins! Sooo many of them with so many options!





I think I'm rubbing off on Kaydin. She took over my phone while we walked around the store so she could take pictures. She took most of the pictures from above.  At one point, I turned around to make sure she was still behind me. She wasn't but was only a few feet back focusing the camera on my phone up at this brew wall.  Looks like I might have a little photographer on my hands.

I chose to try all the different salads they had to offer on their cold bar and also thew on a piece of salmon.  Yum! So happy to have this store in our community.  The prices may be a little higher than other choices, but the quality is so much higher. Great, healthy food to fuel our bodies.  And if you choose some of their items that are on sale for the week like I did, you can keep your tab pretty low!

So excited to try the coconut alomond mix!
Hopefully I like this natural, no-calorie cream soda. Cream soda is my favorite! I don't drink it often, though, because I don't like pop. It's just not worth it health-wise. I don't want the extra sugars and if you choose diet, you are just comsuming a bunch of chemicals. No thanks, I'll stick with my water ;) But maybe this Zevia will be a good find for the random carbonation craving Tim and I get.
Only $22 for all the things pictured above plus a couple more items that I didn't get in the picture. See? Who says eating healthy needs to be expensive. Sure, it can be. But if you do it right, it can be really cost-effective. Especially when considering how much is spent on junk food and unhealthy choices.  Even when choosing healthy options at a specialty grocery store, don't forget to shop the weekly specials!
After our trip to Whole Foods, this is what I saw when I walked up to the door.


Tim had decorated the kitchen area for my birthday! And we had a special treat to round out our night!  S'mores ice cream cake and a variety cheesecake platter. Does he know me or what?!? :)

Friday, July 20, 2012

Catch-up

I just stuck my SD card into my laptop to get some recent pictures uploaded for a new blog post. I was surprised to realize that I hadn't uploaded any pictures since 4th of July! That's very unlike me. I guess I was just being lazy when I thought to myself that I just had nothing to blog about lately.  Some things you'll be seeing in the future while I do some catch-up are...
  1. Trip home to get Kaydin from her vacation
    1. Swimming at Twin Lakes
    2. Big harvest from the garden
    3. Camping in the backyard
  2. My homemade vanilla extract is ready!
  3. My birthday!!  How am I 27 already!?!?  Seriously, it feels like it was just the 90's-- except those were already 20 years ago!
  4. Whole Foods opened in West Des Moines this week!

Until next time friends..... :)

Friday, July 13, 2012

California Getaway 2012

 Ok, totally late on posting about our recent California vacation. Here goes...

Almost two months ago, Tim, Kaydin and I hopped on a plane to Southern California to spend a few days visiting the zoo and Sea World. It was Kaydin's second time on a plane and our first time all vacationing together (well, besides the weekend trip to Chicago). Unlike other vacations involving airports, we actually didn't have any close calls in the airports. Well, I guess we did walk up to our gate in Des Moines and get right in line to get on the plane. But I call that perfect timing ;)




We got in on a Friday night and Tim and Kaydin wasted no time getting comfortable and playing around in the room. We got in later in the evening on Friday so we stayed at the hotel and got some sleep.
Working on loosening another tooth! Maybe it would fall out while on vacation!

The next morning we found a popular breakfast spot that was fairly close to our hotel, Naked Cafe. This restaurant specialized in whole, natural ingredients. A great find!

They even had fresh juiced apple juice for their kids meals. She downed this well before our food made it to the table.

I ordered the coconut crusted French toast. From reading reviews online, this seemed to be their signature dish. It did not disappoint. I'm gonna have to recreate this at home soon!


Our next stop was the San Diego Zoo. I was really excited to take Kaydin here! I had heard both good and bad reviews of the zoo, but I can report that it is definitely worth it! Everything is pretty spread out but at the same time it all connects easily with blacktop roads and walking trails.


We got there at opening time so we hopped on the first bus tour of the day. I would recommend this because you get a bird's eye view of all the animals, get transportation to see everything, and then can figure out the lay of the land. The whole tour took about 35 minutes and gave us an idea of the things we wanted to see up close.




Meet Sam, Kaydin's pick from the zoo gift shop to take home with us.  This was all Tim. ;)  I said no to the huge overstuffed animal, but little princess got to bring her home. Carting it through the airport, along with her Shamu whale she got from Sea World, got her lots of attention. lol

After the zoo we ventured back to our hotel to get cleaned up and relax before finding a place for dinner. After some research, I came up with an authentic Greek and Lebanese restaurant, Fairouz Cafe and Gallery, that offered a dinner buffet. We all opted for that after we perused the spread. So many different things to choose from. And believe it or not, I had never had a gyro.  After this place though, I am hooked! I have always loved Mediterranean fare, but there were so many options on the buffet we got to try that were sooo good. Tim and I still always talk about this restaurant and have been craving Greek food since!

The next morning we hit another popular local breakfast spot, Broken Yolk Cafe.  Our plan was to get a good breakfast, take the shuttle from our hotel to Sea World and spend the day there.

The Mommy Omelet. All veggies with alfalfa sprouts and avocado. Really good!

Still wiggling it...

We got to Sea World just as people started pouring into Shamu Stadium for the first show of the day. Since the timing worked out so perfectly, we decided to hit this show and get it out of way so we could see everything else and not have to worry about seeing the Shamu later on. Tim and Kaydin really wanted to sit in the Splash Zone. I, however, did NOT. I didn't want to start off the day being soaking wet from salt water. Fortunately, we say high enough that we didn't get soaked, just a few splashes. The people lower than us, though, were completely soaked, just dripping! Tim and Kaydin were lucky that didn't happen to us!


Later in the day, after we watched the dolphin show, we checked out pricing for swimming with the dolphins. The cost was pretty high and she was just a smidge too short. She was able to do the encounter that didn't involve getting into the water. She got to touch, feed, and do a couple commands with them. I'm almost certain she liked the experience. I mean, she did walk away saying she wanted to be a dolphin trainer, be obsessed with the movie Dolphin Tale, have a dolphin in a pool in the backyard, and want to buy anything dolphin related. But I think she only kinda liked it. ;)





For dinner we decided to try one of the hotel's on-site places. Firefly, the most up-scale one to choose from, turned out to be a great pick. After such a long day at Sea World we thought Kaydin would be all tuckered out. We were wrong! We also observed that she needs more practice in nice restaurants. The girl was loud and crazy!
I chose the salmon for my meal. I should have taken a pic of the menu so I could've remembered what all was in it and tried to recreate it at home! This was the first time I have tried salmon skin. I realized if it's cooked and crispy, I like it!
Of course the little moocher had to steal some of everyone's meal. I swear no matter what I have, she wants it too! Always stealing bites of my meals!

The next morning we set out North to drive up the coast a bit,


Tim's mom was actually born in La Jolla so we took a little detour and visited the hospital she was born in. Sadly, I never got the chance to meet his mom, but it was really cool to be able to see the place she was born. I think Tim really enjoyed it, too.
Our next stop was La Jolla Cove. The views here were so pretty. It was an overcast day so I can just imagine what it looks like in the bright sunshine.  There were pelicans and seals all along the rocks just hanging out, making tons of noise. The views were beautiful but the smells- not so much! It was enough to make you gag at some points. Those seals make look cute and fun but they stink!





Kaydin was sooo excited to finally get to step foot in the ocean. The water was freezing, though!








Our next stop was Mission Bay. Here we just lounged in the sand and played at the water's edge.


Beach Babes!

We decided before we left Southern California, we needed to have some good, authentic Mexican food. A quick search showed that Guadalajara in Old Town was a popular pick.
And still wiggling....
I went with the fish tacos. Not the best I've had, the fish wasn't that flavorful, but still good.
Tim got a combination plate. This enchilada was the best I had ever had! The ones here at home do not even compare.
We were leaving the next day and by now her tooth was beyond loose. It was time for that sucker to come out! After lots and lots of wiggling and loosening, Tim finally pulled and the little tooth was out! Shocked her a little bit, but she was excited once it was finally in her hand and not her mouth.
We had a dentist appointment the day before we left and her dentist gave her a tooth box to keep her tooth in case it fell out while we were on vacation. That box ended up getting put to good use :)

The next morning we had some breakfast, packed up and said goodbye to Southern California.