Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Tasty Tuesday: Chophouse Buffalo Chicken Pita

There are few foods that make my mouth water just thinking about them. But a Chophouse Buffalo Chicken Pita is definitely in the top 3. Quite possibly even #1!

First you'll have to be sure you have some pita bread on hand. Some with pockets would have been better, but I'm addicted to this recipe. (Seriously, I make them at least once a week.)

You'll Need:
•carrots & celery, diced
•olive oil
•margarine, divided
•grilled chicken breasts, chopped
•hot sauce
•pita bread
•desired toppings (such as shredded cheddar, lettuce, Blue Cheese dressing...anything your little heart desires)

*Note: Remember my lack of measurements? Everything is up to your liking.
How To:
•Saute carrots & celery in a splash of olive oil & a bit of margarine until crisp/tender.
• Add grilled chicken, hot sauce & enough margarine to get to the desired amount of heat.
•Pack Buffalo Chicken mixture & desired toppings into pita bread.
•Grab a fork because you're going to need it & Enjoy!

Monday, April 29, 2013

Messy Monday: DIY Produce Wash

Don't you just hate it when you get fresh produce from the store & it's covered in...gunk?! Of course you have to wash it, but how?

Water just doesn't seem like enough. Soap & water seems a bit extreme. perhaps a rinse filled with chemicals, no thanks.

The Simple Solution:
•3 parts water
•1 part white vinegar

Give your produce a good spray, rub & rinse. You can also make a soak in a large bowl for leafy vegetables.

*Note: Avoid soaking in a sink due to bacteria.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Simple Sunday: A Toddler Lunch

A little lunch, at a little table, for little kids. 

*Note: It's amazing how well Hayden eats at a little table, rather than a highchair or booster seat. And she brings her dishes into the kitchen when she's done.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Boogie Wipes: Take the Pledge!

I know April will be over in just a few days, but there's still time to take the pledge! Pledge for what you ask...to Save the Sleeve of course.

In the month of April, Take The Pledge for a chance to win a Save the Sleeve kit (Backpack badge & Boogie Crew Tattoos)! We will select 1,000 winners at random. Be sure to tell your friends!

Take the pledge & learn some "Boogie" facts along the way. Then don't forget to check your email in May.

*Open to US & Canada

Snacktastic Saturday: Kettle Corn

Popcorn is a great little snack that you can make in a variety of flavors nowadays.  But it just so happened that my kids wanted some good ole fashioned Kettle Corn.

Mine is a bit on the darker side, but it also got cooked a lot longer since I didn't have a tight fitting lid. No worries though, it  was still tasty!

How To:

•In a pot with a tight fitting lid (very important) heat 1/4 C. oil
•Add 1/2 C. popcorn kernels
•When the oil begins to sizzle, sprinkle 1/4 C. sugar over kernels
•Cover pot with lid & shake for 3-5 minutes or until popping begins to slow
•Remove from heat & sprinkle with coarse sea salt for the perfect sweet & salty blend. (Or leave it as is, it's up to you.)


Friday, April 26, 2013

Fun Friday: Upcycled Wall Art

Let me start by saying that Pinterest is great to get the creative juices flowing. 

Know what that is? Toilet paper rolls. I mean, my new wall art. OK, it's both. I simply flattened the rolls & cut them into 1 inch pieces. Then I (Elmer's) glued 10 pieces together at one end & placed them in between books on the bookshelf to tightly secure them until they were dry. Then of course I opened it, & glued the 2 ends together to make what looks like a flower. (Paper clips came in handy for this part.)

So far I have 6 "flowers" glued together. Although I'm not too sure what to do next. Maybe make it a bit more elaborate in design? Perhaps a splash of paint here & there? Or maybe just a whole other piece (or more) of wall art. After all, there are 5 people in this house & a constant demand for toilet paper.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Think It Thursday: What's In Your Purse?

I have a big black Fossil purse that seems to swallow everything. So I decided to dump it out & see what all was in it. And I suppose to clean it out a bit too.

For the record, my purse was actually on the lighter side. It gets loaded up with cups, extra snacks & books for the kids when we're going somewhere.

•makeup bag with necessities like sunscreen, feminine products, neosporin, band-aids, hair ties & facial cleansing wipes (to name a small handful)
•wallet (stuffed with receipts)
•diaper, pull-up & baby wipes
•2 pigs, 1 bear & a truck
•Boogie Wipes (can't leave home without them!)
•Kandoo foaming hand sanitizer (another can't leave home without it!)
•restaurant.com gc's & a printout for a free something from Panera
•Always Radiant pouch filled with loose change
•pens, pens & more pens!
•lip glosses, hand lotion & eos lip balm
•2 pairs of sunglasses (1 is in a pouch)
•pouch for my phone (what do you think I took the picture with?)
•hair tie for Paige & socks for Hayden (the girls will ditch these the moment they can so I always have to have extras)
•nail file
•Luna bar 
•pen light (pink for breast cancer awareness)
•Oral-B brush-ups (wonder how old those are) & dental floss
•GPS case
•ticket stubs from my cousins high school spring performance (he played "Beast" in Beauty & the Beast)
•Coke bottle cap (for my Coke Rewards)
•a binky (that I have been looking for!)

I think that's everything (as if it needs to be more.) And even though I know that's a lot, most is essential. At least for my sanity it is. No wonder the hubs calls it "Mom's suitcase" (as he shoves things in it...)

What's in your purse? 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Work It Wednesday: Carols Daughter Monoi Oil

Ever wish you had a magical potion to make your hair healthier, shinier & more manageable? I know I did. Of course there's no such thing as a magic potion. But there is Monoi Oil from Carols Daughter. Actually it's (Repairing) Sacred Strengthening Serum.

This serum can reverse & prevent damage from styling, coloring, chemical treating & even sun exposure. Not to mention giving you more good hair days from the improved manageability.

Sans makeup - except for my favorite gloss of course!

As you can see by the picture I forced myself to take (I'm not a fan of getting my picture taken at all), I have long hair. Which I only get cut once every year...or two. Terrible, I know. But my hair is actually pretty healthy considering. It just tends to get frizzy towards the ends & generally lacks shine. My hair in the picture is still slightly damp, but after a couple weeks of only  1-2 pumps a day of Monoi Oil, you can tell the difference. And I really do love how it brings out my waves more. 

What else is there to love? No silicones, parabens, petroleum, mineral oil, or alcohol. 

"Protect your hair from all damage. Its strengthening power comes from Monoi Oil – a sacred Tahitian blend of the Tiare Gardenia Flower and Coprah Coconut Oil. This silicone-free, restorative oil rebuilds your hair’s structure from the inside out for true repair that doesn’t wash away or weigh hair down like silicones do. It’s also blended with Mirabelle Plum Seed Oil to restore health and Kukui and Rose Hip Seed Oils to reduce frizz and boost your hair’s natural shine. Take your hair to its maximum strength and length – no matter what you do to it." 

**Disclaimer: I received this product from Klout & am simply sharing my opinion which may vary from yours. I was not compensated for this review.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Tasty Tuesday: Steak Salad

It's been 8 years since I said "I do" & so much has changed. Aside from the obvious (the kids), my hubs also asks for salads now. But not just any salad, a "man's" salad.
OK, so a Steak Salad isn't just for men, but you'd better have the appetite of one when you eat it! 
I should've taken a picture before the dressing so you could get the full effect. Unfortunately my taste buds were interfering with my brain waves & I was lucky my fingers were able to cooperate at all. Aside from grabbing a fork of course. (I had the total man appetite thing going on, you'll have to excuse me.)

How To:
•Start by making your salad however you like it. (Mine is lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes & red onion.)
•Top with homemade french fries (secret man ingredient), shredded cheddar cheese (or any other preferred kind) & sliced steak (cooked to desired doneness.)
•Top with dressing (I used an Asiago Peppercorn that was amazing on this salad) & a small handful of sliced green onions (if you're an onion fan, like me.)
This is a great way to trick any guy into eating a salad! And just so happens to be a great meal during those summer months when it's too hot to cook. 

Monday, April 22, 2013

Messy Monday: DIY Liquid Fabric Softener

Of course after we made our DIY Laundry Detergent we had to make some liquid fabric softener too.

After scouring for a recipe to use, I decided to give a few a try. After trial & error, I found that they just weren't working for me. I prefer the baking soda & vinegar solution, but with far less baking soda. The reason being that I add my fabric softener when I add my laundry, which gives the baking soda time to settle. 

How To:
• Using a sturdy container (I use a Sunny D jug), add desired amount  of baking soda . Start small, you can always add more later if you'd like.
• Add enough hot water to almost dissolve the baking soda. Set aside 15-20 minutes.
• In batches, add vinegar & give it a good shake. You can keep the lid covered with a towel so that when you release some of the pressure it doesn't spray everywhere (been there, done that). Just be sure to leave plenty of room for the pressure to build (found that one out the hard way too).
•1/4 C. (or a little more if you'd like) per load.

*Note: You can add a bit of your favorite hair conditioner if you prefer a softener with a scent.

Sorry for the lack of measurements, but if you've been around here long enough you should know that's not really my thing. Besides the fact that everyone prefers their softener differently & this leaves (plenty) of room for adjustments. It also saves plenty of room in your wallet for all the money you'll be saving!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Simple Sunday: Beauty and the Beast

This weekend we packed up the kids & traveled across the state for an impromptu mini family reunion. We were all there to see my younger cousin play the lead role of "Beast" in his final high school performance of "Beauty and the Beast". (He was amazing by the way!)

This is my program guide & a cupcake leftover from the party my Aunt & Uncle had before we all left for the performance. (She had an awesome idea for the cupcake toppers!) So now that the excitement of a new place with a lot of people has worn off for the kids (mostly); I can sit back, read the program & enjoy my cupcake.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Snacktastic Saturday: No Bake Almond Raisin "Granola" Bars

I know it may come as a surprise, but I found a recipe on Pinterest that I just had to try. Shocking, I know. Chewy S'mores Granola Bars (no bake) sounded simple to make, & better yet, I had all of the ingredients. Not to mention how big of a hit they would be with the kiddos!

I knew they would be good when I snuck a pinch while I was packing them into the pan. No way was there going to be enough to share between us all for a few days. But that was OK, I wanted something slightly...healthier. So I started scouring the cupboards to see what I could come up with.

I didn't have quite enough of a couple ingredients to make another batch, so I made a few substitutions.

•Instead of 2 C. oats & 1 C. rice cereal, I probably used 1 1/4 C. oats & 1 3/4 C. rice cereal. As long as it equaled 3 C. I was satisfied.
•I had virtually no honey left, but I did have some Agave Nectar. The syrup just seemed like it cooked a bit faster than with the honey.

And since I wanted it a bit healthier, I added some raisins & crushed almonds into the mix. 

The end result was much better than the S'mores Bars in my opinion. I'm not sure if it was from the Agave Nectar or not, but these were definitely crunchier. The only downfall being that they were much harder to cut into uniform shapes. But I had no problem munching on the crumbs (I even saved some in a Ziploc baggie to add to my morning cereal.)

Friday, April 19, 2013

Fun Friday: Upcycled Bird Feeder

I've always thought about making an upcycled bird feeder, but today I finally followed through with it. My nephew made one at school some time ago out of a Gatorade bottle. Which probably would have worked out much better than my giant (yet flimsy) 2 liter bottle. The end result looks good, but I may need to experiment with different materials & a different way to cut the holes (I just used a sturdy steak knife).

You can get the gist of it from the picture. However, I did make the holes slightly larger by moving the spoons around once I had it hung up so that the seeds would come out a bit. I didn't want to do it before & have bird seed falling into my eye while I was balancing on the porch rail (in the wind I might add).

The best part was that the younger two kiddos had fun helping make this. Well, Hayden did get a bit upset when I wouldn't let her eat the seeds, but she got over it when I gave her the funnel we used to help fill it.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Think It Thursday: Clean Eating vs. Paleo

I've been giving some serious consideration lately to clean eating & Paleo (a.k.a. the caveman diet). Although I've seen many body transformations from a Paleo diet alone, I just don't think I could do it. My main reason being, that I like my whole grains. 

That being said, I should probably start out with a less drastic approach & ease my way into the clean eating lifestyle. I already purchase organic products, but not exclusively, which is actually a start in itself. Plus I find it a lot easier to get an abundance of organic produce during the spring & summer months in NE Ohio.

Clean Eating:
•consuming food in it's most natural state
•nothing white (flour, sugar, rice, etc.)
•no processed or refined foods
•lean proteins & healthy fats (nuts)
•lots of organic fruits & vegetables
 •no preservatives or alcohol
•no or limited dairy

•consuming food in it's most natural state
•nothing white (flour, sugar, rice, etc.)
•no processed or refined foods
•lots of organic & grass fed lean meats
•lots of buts & healthy fats
•lots of organic fruits & vegetables
 •no preservatives or alcohol
•no dairy
•no sugar (unless from fruit or natural sweeteners such as honey or agave nectar)
•no legumes
•no grains
•no gluten

Have you ever considered a clean eating or Paleo lifestyle?

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Work It Wednesday: Spring's Hottest Nail Trends

I know it may not seem like it in some places, but Spring has sprung. So while you start switching over your wardrobe & accessories, you can get a jump start on the latest nail trends.

It seems that bold colors, pastels & sparkles accompany the classic hues this season. Which means that there's a variety of ways I can spice up my sometimes dull outfits. (Yes, I totally just admitted that.)

The Line-Up:
 •Neutral (somewhere between white & nude)
•Bold Coral
 •Hot Pink
•Classic Red

After that, I've come to a realization. I need to go shopping! I'm in the mood for mint...polish & ice cream.

P&G "Most Loved"

Ever wonder why you tend to gravitate towards certain brands? I know I did. And not too long ago it dawned on me why. Lots of different brands are made by a "parent" company.

I find myself checking out CoverGirl cosmetics before any others. Dawn is my #1 choice for dish detergent (thanks to my Mom.) I love how soft Pantene Pro-V makes my hair feel. And Bounty paper towels are used for a variety of tasks in my house. (Just to name a few.) Translation: I'm a P&G gal (Proctor & Gamble). That's right, all of the above as well as Olay, Venus, Gilette, Cascade, Charmin, Febreeze, Swiffer & Tide, are part of the P&G family. Their "most loved" products actually.

The great thing is that the brandSAVER coupon booklets that are inserted into the occasional Sunday paper, offer tremendous savings on P&G products
*Check out the brandSAVER coupons booklet from March 31st if you still have it.

Guess what! It gets better! Join SheSpeaks today (if you're not already a member) & then join in on the Twitter Party!

Join us on April 18 at 9 p.m. for the #PGmostloved Twitter Party! You’ll have the chance to win P&G’s award-winning products from some of your favorite beauty, grooming and household care brands.

When: Thursday, April 18 at 9 p.m. ET
Where: Twitter - follow hashtag #PGmostloved Custom TweetGrid: http://bit.ly/XXeAIX Brand: @PGeveryday Party Panelists: @LisaSamples, @StacieInAtlanta, @Zipporahs, @AlyWalansky, @MommaDJane, @SavvyMommy RSVP: bit.ly/pgml

 "We inspire women to discover, influence and share products. SheSpeaks is a community powered by women who love to get the latest scoop and share what's hot. SheSpeaks gives you many ways to have a say, share and inspire others. Read and comment on our blogs, share hot deals and offers, create a review or join our discussion boards. You'll get helpful information, tips and expert advice on a range of topics, to keep you in the know. It's free to join and if you participate regularly in our community you might just get something free delivered to your door."

*Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post for SheSpeaks/P&G

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Tasty Tuesday: Apple Butter Glazed Ham

Now back to the task at ham, err, hand. A while back I was looking for a recipe of some sort of sauce to serve with some ham steaks. I was so happy when I found one & loved it. But today, I decided to slightly modify it.

I followed the recipe for Apple Butter Ham Glaze, as much as I could without measuring anyways.  But then I brushed it right on my bone in ham I was about to put in the oven. Of course I couldn't just leave it at that. So I sprinkled black pepper & cinnamon generously over the top skin. Next up was a foil tent & a 275 degree oven for about 5 hours. Periodically I would brush on more glaze, but after 4 hours in the oven I decided to then score the ham & give it one more glazing. 

After 5 hours, I removed the foil tent, turned the oven up to 350 & cooked it until everywhere in the house smelled like ham. Which is more like 45 minutes in case you were wondering. 

The end result was the juiciest, tastiest ham I've ever made. I had a bit of the ham glaze left & used it as an accompaniment. 

Monday, April 15, 2013

Messy Monday: DIY Laundry Detergent

I like to save my family money where I can so that we can splurge on other things. One of the best ways Ive found is to make homemade cleaners.
Let's face it, laundry detergent can be pricey. especially if you do an obscene amount of laundry like I do. So unless there's a great sale or a high dollar coupon, i like to make my own. I know it sounds a bit...involved, but the best part is that even the kids can help me make it. Here's how.

•1 C. Borax
•1 C. Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda (not baking soda)
•1 bar Fels Naptha or Ivory soap, finely grated (I was making a double batch so I have 2 bars in my picture.)
Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. Stir 5 minutes or until grated soap is thoroughly combined. Store in an airtight container.
•1 Tbsp. per load
•2Tbsp. per heavily soiled load 

•Recipe can easily be doubled, tripled, quadrupled, etc.
•Scent booster such as Downy Unstoppables can be added for a "fresh laundry scent". 

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Snacktastic Saturday: Fruit Salsa & Cinnamon Chips

Earlier this week it was in the 70's. Pure heaven for spring in NE Ohio. (We'll overlook the fact that it's now in the 50's.) Of course that first little bit of heat instantly has me wanting some fruit. So after I finally made it to the store, I got everything I needed for fruit salsa. (I already had everything for the cinnamon chips.)

Now some may refer to this more as a fruit salad, but when served with chips, it's salsa to me. Just toss in small pieces of whichever fruits you'd like. I used a can each of pineapple tidbits & mandarin oranges (drain most but not all of the juice), strawberries, kiwi & banana. Drizzle a bit of honey, sprinkle a bit of poppy seeds & give it a good stir. Just be sure you let it sit for about 20 minutes so the flavors can marry. - I always chuckle when I hear people say it that way.

For the cinnamon chips, cut pieces or tortillas & place on a baking sheet. Lightly spray with some nonstick cooking spray, dust with a cinnamon sugar mixture & bake in a 425 degree oven for a few minutes. Just be sure you keep a good eye on these so they don't burn.


Friday, April 12, 2013

Fun Friday: Garden Marker Stones

One day I happened to see something on Pinterest (shocker). They were these cute little painted marker stones for your garden (here). So I thought I'd give them a try. Plus it would be fun to have the kids involved too.

We've already been collecting rocks that look like they would be perfect for our little project. And I've managed to paint one so far. (Although I do have to say that it's more of a rough draft.)

My "R" is a little off, but not waiting for the paint to dry with a 16 month old on your leg will do that. Regardless, I think this will be a cute little way to keep track of our plants before they start to produce. Not to mention it's something the kids can have fun with too.

Only a dozen or so more to go...

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Think It Thursday: Freezer Meals

I've recently been considering preparing some freezer meals, because let's face it, life gets hectic. I may not work outside of the home, but if you want to get technical, I do 20+ jobs a day. So when we have a day of errands, the last thing I want to do when I get home & settled is stand in the kitchen & make dinner. And let's admit, a full freezer is a major accomplishment. Especially on a meager grocery budget.

Now I pretty much have breakfast covered. I always have extra pancakes, french toast, waffles & slices of quiche in my freezer. But I do have to try out these Breakfast Burritos

For lunch I'm thinking "uncrustable" style PB&J sammies & small pizza crusts. (I need to think of a few more kid friendly options here.)

Then there's dinner. The mecca of freezer cooking. I already freeze leftover soups & single serve lasagna pieces. Which I thought was a good start. Especially since I thought that all of your food was cooked prior to the freezing stage. I was wrong (in case you didn't know.) I found a couple blogs with what looks like some awesome recipes.

But don't forget dessert! Or snacks. Or side dishes. One of these weekends I'm going to have to whip up a few...or more. Besides, it's a great excuse to stock up on a good sale! *wink*

Have you ever tried freezer meals? 

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Work It Wednesday: Whole Living

When you hear the phrase "work it", you generally think fitness or beauty, right? But how about a little more, like a healthy lifestyle?

I recently discovered Whole Living & let me tell you, I'm workin' it! Really, they cover everything. Amazing recipes, beauty tips, green living, stress relief, cardio & even money matters (to name some.)

All brought to you by Martha Stewart (WWMD-What Would Martha Do...now we know.) And after you register for your weekly Whole Living newsletter, you can also opt in for other Martha newsletters.

So check it out, then you can work it on a whole new level!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Tasty Tuesday: Cincinnati Style Chili

I love spaghetti. Probably more so than I should. But after a while, it all starts to taste the same to me.

That's when I make Cincinnati Style Chili. I use my current fave chili recipe (thank you Pioneer Woman), shredded cheddar & diced red onion on top. of course any chili recipe will do. 

*Note: Other great toppers include diced peppers, sour cream, shredded pepper jack & hot sauce.


Monday, April 8, 2013

Messy Monday: How to Clean Your Microwave

Here's a great tip to clean a microwave in a matter of minutes/ All you need is some vinegar, a mug & some extract. (I used maple extract because that's what I had the most of.)

Just pour a splash or two of vinegar in your mug, microwave for 3 min. & wipe clean with a damp cloth. Just be careful with the vinegar fumes possibly "burning" your eyes. If need be, wait a min. or 2 before wiping.

Top, before. Bottom, after.

Now I bet you're wondering how bad your kitchen will smell like vinegar. That's where the extract comes in. Using the same mug, dump the vinegar & rinse it out. Add about a tsp. of extract (whichever kind you want to use) & microwave for 30 sec. You can even leave the mug to sit on your counter for a day or two until all of the extract is dissolved. 

Friday, April 5, 2013

Beautiful Incentives: Gfreely Giveaway

By now you all know, I'm a fan of Beautiful Incentives. I find reviews about products that I'm actually interested in. And of course a giveaway is always the icing on the (gluten free) cake. 

See, I'm even writing gluten free references. My not so subtle way to really convince myself to try it out. Although a Gfreely box would probably convince me better. You'll have to check out the review to find out why.

Now that you're craving a bite of those gluten free goodies, be sure you enter the amazing giveaway below. Hosted by none other than Beautiful Incentives of course. (Don't forget to head on over to facebook & say thanks for this great giveaway.)

Good Luck!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Light It Up Blue for National Autism Awareness!

Today was National Autism Awareness Day!

I found a great site to learn more about Autism, http://www.autismspeaks.org/.

Did you wear any blue to show support?

Monday, April 1, 2013

Beautiful Incentives: Healthy Surprise Giveaway!

So I have to admit, I've been considering going gluten-free. At least in small steps. But when you're on a budget to feed a family of 5, there's only so many products you can try at a time. At that rate, I might make the full conversion by 2033

Luckily for me, I found the greatest thing over at Beautiful Incentives!

Healthy surprise is a monthly subscription box full of gluten-free & vegan goodies. Do you know what that means? I can start my gluten-free sampling to find out what products I love & which I don't at a fraction of the cost & be done much sooner than 20 years. Perfect! (Be sure you read the full review here.)

But of course, the always wonderful Brie, is having a giveaway too!  Just be sure you head on over to facebook & say thanks for another awesome giveaway.