Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

Did it work?   Leave a comment

I am sure you all have been anxiously awaiting my post concerning the week long leg slimming exercises. Did they work? Did I keep up with them? Am I still walking? That sort of thing….

The answers in summary are maybe, sorta and yes!

I’m delayed because we had our most awesome birthday weekend for Steve, followed by the Fourth of July….. lots of Daddy time, trip to Orlando and other coolness. I may do a post about it since it was pretty much the “cool thing” for LA and me for the week unless I do something else in the next few days.

So the exercises…. I definitely felt that the first two were the most effective of the bunch. There were a few in there that didn’t make me “feel the burn” or anything. I was very concerned that I would be sore doing them daily but there was only minimal soreness.

I really tried to keep up with them daily.

Thursday I rocked!

Friday I did all but one set and I did them right before having some girls over for Book Club…. dedication.

Saturday I woke up battling a migraine so I did all of them except the floor exercises but I felt like they put a strain on my neck/back a bit.

Sunday…. I did them all!

Monday…. I had a super productive morning so the universe had to compensate and send another migraine my way so I didn’t do anything ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

Tuesday …. I did only the standing ones, because I was afraid of the migraine returning.

Wednesday I did them all.

Thursday…. I did nothing.

Friday (I added an extra day in there because I was a slacker) and I did the standing ones again.

I really felt like the standing ones did the most for me…. but also for some reasons the floor work ones made me feel like they were inviting pain. This is nothing new. I have read in every migraine book and pamphlet that exercising is supposed to help migraines. Some even say if you feel one coming on to go for a walk. But, besides the occasional walk, it seems to be the opposite for me. I don’t know if it’s my body’s self defense mechanism as it fights exercise or if I’m totally doing it wrong. But it’s true… not an excuse. And it is especially true of anything involving “floor work”…. this is explains why I have less than spectacular abs. Or at least why I’m offering up that I have less than spectacular abs.
Also LA tends to think I’ma jungle gym whenever I lay on the floor to exercise.

I did pretty good watching what I ate. Resisted the ice cream and had fruit instead.


My weight stayed the same… went up a pound or two actually (or could be that I’d just eaten, I don’t remember).

When I started I measured my thighs and they were 20 inches and 22 inches in different locations. When I remeasured after a week they were 21 inches in both locations. So I’m not sure if this counts as a success….. hmmmmmmmm

BUT WAIT!!!! Then I read a blurb in Parents Magazine that says:

Danish scientists found that women with skinny thighs had a higher risk of heart disease and premature death than those with meatier ones.

At this point I’m thinking… ok so there is a benefit to my chunky thighs! Yes!!!!
I continue reading….

A circumference of 24.4 inches was most protective.

Not gonna lie… my first thought was “Yes! Danish scientists think I have slender thighs.”

I reveled in that for a minute before I realized, “Danish scientists also think I’m going to die prematurely! Yikes!”

But in all seriousness I am still on a somewhat fitness kick. I’ve looked into Paleo diet, but I’m not sure I can forego bread. I am working on a new exercise plan and I will be posting about it here too…..
Still need nagging! ๐Ÿ˜‰


Handmade Christmas successes- Coasters   3 comments

So another project that I felt turned out well was homemade coasters.

I purchased white tiles from home depot for 10 cents a piece (I think!). I made coaster sets of four.

I also had to buy Modge Podge, acrylic sealant and regular glue…. this was the most expensive part. If you are planning on making one set of coasters (as I originally was) this is not cost effective. If you will use these things or will make lots of coasters (or use them for future projects) than it is ๐Ÿ™‚

Then you need fun paper. You can use anything. I happened to use some cool scrapbook paper I had. You could even use family pictures which is fun!

You need to cut the paper until it is slightly smaller than the top of your coaster.

Then you paint on a layer of modge podge and set the paper in the center of the tile. Paint another thin layer on top and let it dry.

repeat this 2-4 times or until you feel it’s firmly “on”…. The modge podge will dry clear not to worry.

When you are done and they are dry you need to spray them with the acrylic sealant… this will make them waterproof, and effective coasters ๐Ÿ˜‰

I took mine outside to do this and I did several layers as well.

Next you cut out felt and glue it to the bottom… voila!

I failed to take completed pictures but you can get the general idea I think.
I was pleased with them, those who received them as gifts seemed to like them. My only complaint was even though I let them thoroughly dry the felt seemed to stick to the coaster underneath when you stacked them….
But they were cute ๐Ÿ™‚

Homemade Christmas- planning   1 comment

So last year I posted about the food gifts that I made for homemade Christmas. My standby is Apple Butter, I make a mean apple butter, and I tried something new, Red Velvet Cake balls, which were amazing. I also always make chocolate covered pretzels, I think Steve snuck that in our marriage vows so I have to.

This year I did not make the apple butter, and I did miss it a bit. I made one batch of chocolate covered pretzels, pretty much just to keep Steve happy ๐Ÿ™‚ Then I tried to make one batch of red velvet cake balls…. it took forever! Last year LA was immobile and if she got fussy I could talk or sing her out of it long enough to clean my hands. This year having my hands covered in cake and goo was a dangerous, dangerous game. So pretty much the only time to work on them was while she was sleeping and I had other homemade gifts to work on so it took forever!

I never really went back and posted what I made last year for homemade Christmas so let me tell you now ๐Ÿ™‚ I never really took pictures either, very neglectful of me.

I made homemade sugar scrub, which turned out really well, even had two recipients ask for the recipe so they could make more. The only issue I had with it was something to put it in that held it well and was nice for presentation.

Another popular thing I made was Skittle Vodka… yum!!! Pretty much all the boys on our Christmas gift list got this. It was easy but a bit time consuming in separating the Skittles and it took WAY more skittles that I imagined. We needed 8-10 skittles for each ounce we made. Then you soak the skittles in the vodka. I used mason jars because shaking them up occasionally is necessary to really help the waxy part dissolve. Then you strain the wax part from the vodka and voila! The straining part was annoying, they recommended cheesecloth or coffee filters, which is what I made and the straining took forever! I made a batch of purple, red, green, etc… and then each flavor was bottled individually. They were yummy…. although the yellow was super strong and vodka-y. Everyone who received them seemed to really enjoy them ๐Ÿ™‚

I also made the family little photo frames with LA footprint, a poem and her picture.

I am thinking I made other things but I can’t remember what they were. In fact I’m certain I did, perhaps it will come to me. Unfortunately one of the main things I remember about last years Christmas season was being stressed to finish the homemade gifts. It was lovely giving them and everyone seemed to enjoy them and it did save us money… but whew!

Oh and I made LA her own Taggie… ๐Ÿ™‚ she seemed to like that!

So fast forward to this year….

I learned my lesson, I decided to start early. A group of similarly minded mama friends created a Facebook board of ideas (mostly from Pinterest) of homemade Christmas gift ideas. I got A LOT (if not all) of my ideas from them, which was great because I had no idea what to do for this year.

There was a really great group created on Facebook where people posted ideas and helped people with suggestions. We also each created a list of who we were going to make presents for and what we were going to make. Mine was fairly ambitious but I did accomplish most of what I planned.

Here is said ambitious list…. If I crossed it out I made it.

Steve- Husband- 33 years old. Techie, Gamer, sometimes plays golf with his friends.

This is the hardest one! I was thinking of making him the “I love you because” dry erase board. I think he’d get a kick out of it, but I also feel like it’s more a family gift than one for him.

La-DD- will be nearly 16 months old

Mom- loves history, travel, archaeology, very sentimental. Also need to make her a b-day gift for a few weeks before Christmas

Fan family tree from Pinterest

Going to transcribe some old family movies onto DVD and make the covers and labels all professional like.

Going to make a photo book and DVD of La’s first year.

Maybe something like this

And maybe this or an ornament for her birthday- photo wreath

Step Dad- tailgating, techie, cooking (former chef)… probably my hardest person to buy or make for after my husband


Going to transcribe some old family movies onto DVD and make the covers and labels all professional like.

Going to make a photo book and DVD of La’s first year.

He might like this book safe

Step mom- loves spa things, interior design, reading…also have to make her a birthday gift for a month before Christmas

Think she’ll like this, the decorated wine glasses

And then maybe a spa package

milk bath-

lavender eye pillow

I also thought of the coasters….

and considered the basket

Grandmother- very sentimental…. likes music, wine… always saying she doesn’t need anything

Going to transcribe some old family movies onto DVD and make the covers and labels all professional like.

Going to make a photo book and DVD of La’s first year.


Brother- 30- professional photographer…. loves his dog, adventure, traveling etc

BIL- 36- loves to cook, technie, into mechanics thought about cooking something but not sure….

MIL- loves to garden, cook, history… tinkering

Going to make a photo book and DVD of La’s first year.

thought maybe something for her garden….

also thought of these wine glasses

Various close friends- definitely thinking the wine glasses

or the coasters

also thought of the jewelry stand


Usually get gift for best friends husbands too as they are my hubby’s closest friends.

Also usually make cookies, brownies, candy for co-workers and acquaintances…. usually something a little bigger and nicer for Steve’s boss…. last year did sugar scrub.

Maybe Plum Liquer or Blackberry Wine (my hubby could get on helping me make either)

How to- Dinner in a Pumpkin   1 comment

So I’m all for trying exciting, festive things for the holidays. You know, I want to be that cool mom who makes cool stuff… so I might as well start now.

A while ago I found this recipe and figured this would be great for Halloween. Althought, honestly it would look pretty cool on a Thanksgiving table too!

The whole idea is that you cook your dinner inside the pumpkin (using the oven obviously) and you have both a yummy dinner and a cool display!

Here are the ingredients:

  • 1 medium sugar pumpkin
  • 1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons white sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 4 cups tomato juice
  • 3 cups shredded cabbage
  • 1/2 pound fresh green beans, washed and trimmed
  • 1 cup uncooked white rice

LA helping pick out our dinner pumpkin!

Now, while reading the comments I found three things that seemed relevant. Some people advised against using the green beans at all…. so we omitted them. Others reminded that you really must use instant rice or it might not cook all the way…. I used instant brown rice. And I didn’t see any reason to use tomato juice and put in italian seasoning when I could just use spaghetti sauce.

I’ll walk you through the steps with any variations I made and how it worked out for us ๐Ÿ™‚

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C)…. easy
    ย 2. Wash pumpkin, cut off top, scrape out seeds and discard.

    ย ย ย ย ย ย  Always a fun, messy job…. if your kids are old enough this is best their job. I saved the seeds for yumminess later.

      3. Next place hamburger in a large, deep skillet. Crumble and cook over medium high heat until evenly brown. Drain fat, add onion and garlic; saute slightly.
    ย ย  I bought lean ground beef and avoided the whole draining thing.


4. Add sugar, Italian herbs, salt, pepper, tomato juice and rice; mix thoroughly. I used spaghetti sauce… in retrospect I might have used a bit more. But I like things saucy ๐Ÿ˜‰

5. Layer inside of pumpkin with 1/3 of cabbage, green beans and beef and rice mixture. Repeat layers, replace lid and bake for 2 to 3 hours.

Here it goes all stuffed….

And going in the oven!

Next step… wait and wait and wait!!! I used this time to make a really yummy apple streudal cheesecake dessert, corral a 1 year old and attempt to straighten my house for company.

Voila it was done!

I did not really shred my cabbage and I feel I should have. Some of the cabbage was a bit firmer than it should have been. I also think green beans would have been fine but perhaps INSTEAD of cabbage. My other thought was that I only baked it for 2 hours and I think the rice could have used a bit more cooking.

Everyone really enjoyed it… even the baked pumpking was delicate and lovely. It didn’t taste “pumpkin-y” at all…. It got us talking about variations you could do. Vegetable Stoup. Turkey and white beans. Sweet turkey sausage, apples, rice and sauce…. all sorts of things.

Oh and we did discuss how if you were really good at that half carving thing you could probably decorate it before you bake it… although I might worry about the structural integrity of the cooked pumpkin. BUT you could give your kids a sharpie and let them go to town before it’s cooked ๐Ÿ™‚

AND I was thinking that using pasta instead of rice might make for an interesting ghoulish visual when you scoop it out… especially if the pumpkin is decorated like a head! ๐Ÿ™‚

It makes for a very cool presentation and I look forward to making it again next year for Halloween!!!! Maybe next year LA will eat more of it… she was only interested in the corn on the cob!
Happy Halloween!

Posted October 29, 2011 by etainl in Arts & Crafts, Celebrations and Milestones, Food, How To

My black thumb   Leave a comment

I do not have a green thumb.

I would very much like to have one… I long to harvest foods from my beautiful garden and have flowers bloom with little effort. However, the opposite is usually what happens.

I try and I try and I try but plants just die.

When Steve bought me a rose bush we named George I was strictly told that there was a no touching policy in place. I was to look but not touch. He was sure that if I were to touch George he would immediately whither and die.

My grandfather, however, had two green thumbs. He probably even had some spare green thumbs hanging around his garage. Poppop tried to teach me. He gave me peace lillies to keep in my room and coached me. When they would begin to look ill he would take them home, fix them up and bring them back to me well.

In middle school I learned about pesticides and genetically engineered plants. I vowed to be vegetarian and start a garden. Poppop patiently tilled a section of the yard for me. We planted all sorts of things and I religiously watered and weeded my garden…. for about a week.

I think we had one serving of green beans from that garden.

Poppop always had fresh tomatos and green peppers ripening on the kitchen windowsill. I never ate one of those tomatos because I don’t care for them raw.

Now that he’s gone I’d give anything to eat one.

We lost my grandfather nearly 13 years ago now and, like deep pain, I still miss him as if it were yesterday.

So when we got our home I was excited at the idea of trying another garden.

Steve and I dutifully tilled a bit of early and planted seeds… not much happened. We chalked it up to starting too late.

The next year I planted some tomatos in a pot and some herbs in a little garden on the side of the house. As I dug into the earth I could hear Poppops voice in my ear saying, “Ange this is some good dirt.” I felt him coaching me as to where I should plant things and what steps were next. I was so encouraged that I planted some flowers in pots around our deck.

Well, we had several harvest of tomatos that I used in pasta and my herbs thrived. My flowers made it mid summer. I was proud.

Last year we had several meals of green beans and several beautiful cucumbers from my little garden (I gave up on tomatos because neither of us love them). My herbs were so plentiful I had to give them away. My flowers lasted all summer until LA was born and Steve and I both stopped watering them. To be fair, Steve did pick up the majority of the watering when I would forget…. and in my defense I was pregnant and not inclined to go out in the hot Florida sun to water.

This year I planted more herbs- now I have mint, sage, basil and rosemary. And I planted more vegetables and even some fruit. I have blueberries, raspberries, watermelon, cantelope, cauliflower, cucumber, zucchini, eggplant, leeksย and green pepper.ย  There is also one mystery plant that I lost the tag and I don’t remember what it is lol. There are flowers all over the deck.

Steve has always been supportive although this year he questioned buying so many plants since, “You don’t really produce that much.” I said I had to have something to start!

I sense Poppop with me… I’m taking baby steps. Each year I’m doing better.

I’m hoping to keep up my watering and weeding. It helps that in the evening I take LA out in her bouncer with her little sunhat. She coos at the dogs and the birds while I work. She laughs at the water I spray. I hope it’s enough to keep me outside as the temperature heats up… I’m not much for the Florida summers, even though I’m a native.

I will confess that I procrastinated getting some of the plants into the ground so the watermelon, leeks, raspberry and cantelope already don’t look so hot…. hopefully they are salvagable, otherwise I may get another starter. I did learn that I cannot start things from seeds. Seeds and I don’t get along.

Let’s see how I do.



Watermelon already not looking good

Believe this is cucumber or eggplant


My rosemary that is threatening to take over the garden area! three years old and not dead… whoohoo!!!

Some deck flowers

See me touch the rose without fear!

Posted April 14, 2011 by etainl in Cutting Costs, Food, Hippie Mommy, Stay at Home Mom

Homemade Cereal   Leave a comment


Snap! Crackle! Ka-Ching!

I don’t know about your house but cereal is darn expensive! My husband can go through one or two boxes a week… and that isn’t counting the weeks that I partake.

And those stupid things are expensive!!! For the good stuff it can be 5 bucks a week. Which means theoretically we could be spending 40-50 bucks a month just on cereal!

So in my Miserly Moms book I was pleased to find a homemade cereal recipe to try!

Now I am frustrated to report that even though I carefully photographed every step of the process the photos seem to have vanished! I cannot find them…

So here goes without them….

Here is the official recipe:

Nonfat Granola

3/4 C brown sugar

1/3 C concentrated apple juice from frozen

1/2 C nonfat dry milk

1/3 C honey

5 C quick cooking oats

2 T cinnamon

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 C dried fruit (your choice)

Mix sugar, juice, dry milk and honey in saucepan and heat over medium heat only until sugar dissolves.

Combine dry ingredients and fruit in mixing bowl.

Pour sugar mixture slowly over dry mixture and blend well.

Place on cookie sheet and bake at 375 for 10-20 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.

You can also add peanuts, sunflower seeds, coconut, sesame seeds, peanut butter, or whatever you like.

It comes out to 1.50 a pound or so whereas the store bought is 3.29 and up.

Here’s how it worked for me.

I purchased dried bananas because Steve loves those. I was a little skeptical on saving money because just the bananas cost like 4 bucks. But that package could probably make 6 or 7 batches of this stuff so it does still save money.

I automatically added a bit more honey because we like sweeter cereal.

I also put the dried banana in a bag and crushed them up so they weren’t so huge.

It smelled AWESOME! I was SO excited for Steve to try it.

And when he did he declared it…. bland.

I couldn’t believe it, I explained that it had apple juice and cinnamon and sugar in it. He shrugged. So I tried it and …. eh.

I wouldn’t go so far to say bland… and it does develop more flavor the longer it sits in the milk. But it is a very simple thing.

However, I will make it again with changes.

I have four ways of change in mind:

1. Same as before but with MORE bananas, honey and apple juice.

2. I love dried pineapple… and they are the perfect size to be in cereal… so I want to try that. Steve says he isn’t sure he’d like it but he’ll try.

3. I am going to make it with peanut butter added in. Melt it with the apple sauce step I think. Steve loves anything with peanut butter so maybe that will be good.

4. Aldi’s has these great trail mix or mixed fruit bags for a dollar. There are some with yogurt covered rasins etc… I thnk I’m going to try to make a batch with those. Thinking the vanilla yoghurt may melt off but the flavor will transfer to the oats…. could be good.

So we’ll see…. but in the meantime I’m still eating the homemade cereal… Steve gave up on it. And I kinda like it, although I do think there is room for improvement.

On a side note, save an oats container, it is the perfect recepticle for homemade cereal storage!

Posted March 25, 2011 by etainl in Cutting Costs, Food, Stay at Home Mom

I’m lovin’ it…. my attempt at Mickey D fries   Leave a comment

So since we have been pinching pennies and doing whatever it takes for me to stay home with the Little Angel (LA) I have been trying to cut down on food costs. It is one of those things that can easily get out of control in a household that likes to cook and eat.

I really hate the idea of having to keep track of which store has chicken at what price… but to save money I think it’s going to come to that. And I suppose it’s worth it. To be home with LA it’s definitely worth it… just so tedious.

However, I can embrace the idea of making things at home or trying lower cost recipes. My mother got me this great book for my birthday called Miserly Moms: Living Well on Less in a Tough Economyย and The Tight Budget Cookbook. They are both really good but I found a lot more useful ideas in the first book. I’ve tried some of the recipes in the second which are great… just need to use it more I think. The first book though is a lifesaver.

One of her suggestions is to make some things yourself that you’d otherwise buy. She has recipes in there for cereal, granola bars, sauces, bisquick type mix, biscuits and all kinds of things. She talks about how kids love McDonalds fries so she tried to make them herself and gives the recipe.

Now, we don’t really eat McDonalds. I stopped eating there when I was about 13 and was made aware of how gross it really is. Steve just isn’t into it. We are planning on keeping LA away from it as long as we can. I know all fast food is bad and we are definitely guilty of Wendy’s and BK but McDonalds just seems the worst.

But I thought I’d give it a try. Who doesn’t love french fries!

So you start by mixing a third of a cup of sugar with two cups of warm water. Then you drop two thinly sliced up potatoes into the mix and let it soak 15-30 minutes.

Next you heat vegetable oil to 350 degrees. Here I had a problem. We do not fry enough to have a fryer so I just put the oil in the pan and heated it on high.

The potatoes have to be completely dried off before dropping it in the oil.

Here I had a problem…. the oil was too hot. I knew the oil was too hot because at this stage it is simply supposed to stay in the oil for a minute to cook the inside of the potatoe. But it immediatley starting browning.

ย See way too dark…..That one freaky dark fry you always get in a batch. I didn’t want them all to be like that.

So I turned the heat down to medium and tried again. This time was good… they did not brown and I left them in about a minute before scooping them out.

So they looked like this….

Then you let the oil heat back up to 350 and drop them back in. This time you leave them in until they turn golden brown.

Then I dropped them on a paper towel to get off the grease. Salt heavily. And voila!!

My verdict- they were good. I haven’t had McDonalds fries in about 18 years so I don’t know. But they did taste like fast food fries.ย  I liked them… I’d do it again. It was a little extra work but if you are craving fries and want them on your own it’s good.

Steve’s verdict- almost like McDonalds. He said they were good… a bit greasy (which is probably bc I had to stop cooking midway through for a call so they were paused). He was impressed.

Honestly I don’t know what made them more like Mickey D fries. Maybe the soaking. Maybe the two process cooking. I don’t know if it saves that much money. Perhaps if you have fries several times a week or are just craving fries it’s good.

For me, I think it will be worth the fact that I know when I make them they are made with real potatoes vs whatever they make theirs with!!!

Next I make cereal!

Here is the offical recipe:

2 cups warm water

1/3 cup sugar

2 large potatoes (sliced thinly)

vegetable oil


1. Mix sugar into water and dissolve.

2. Soak sliced potatoes in water for 15-30 minutes.

3. Dry off potatoes completely. Heat oil to 350 degrees. Drop potatoes in for about a minute to cook the inside.ย  Remove potatoes.

4. Reheat oil to 350. Drop potatoes in and fry until golden brown.

5. Remove and place on paper towels. Salt. Enjoy!

Posted January 14, 2011 by etainl in Cutting Costs, Food, Stay at Home Mom