Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Fashion Wednesday #7 (To Prepare For Travel)

To celebrate ten years of marriage, the hubby and I are planning a cruise. You know, sleep, read, be fed (not have to cook) and see beautiful beaches? Yep! I can't wait!! To get ready, I'm beefing up my beachy wardrobe. Here are the newest acquisitions. And yes, I'm breaking a few rules with this one: do you see how short this dress is? That is definitely different for me! It's fine for the beach, but I think for church, I'll probably put my flowy black skirt underneath. 
And yes, another rule I'm breaking is showing off neon legs in February (on the blog, nonetheless!) 
Also on the docket (so far) for the trip (you'll see all of these in later weeks):
1. striped knit dress, small sweater and cute belt to match
2. purple skirt, green tank, blue jean jacket, gold belt and gold platform sandals
3. ruffly black sun dress
4. new navy "cocktail" dress that my mom made from an old prom dress's skirt
5. sarong that matches my new "grown up" swim suit and can be worn as a dress, a skirt, or a swimsuit cover-up

Food Remixing

Have any of you been keeping up with the new movement in the fashion world called "remixing"? It's actually a trendy bringing back of the very old idea of mixing up your clothes. This blogger is the queen of remixing and is sponsoring a "30 for 30" challenge right now. If you take the challenge, you can only wear a carefully chosen 30 items of clothing (and shoes) for 30 days. Pretty interesting, right?
Well, last night I got to thinking. This is exactly the way I cook! I get hooked on about 30 items and use them over and over in different ways. So, today's post will show you how to do that. Here are 30 main ingredients that will make you at least 30 (3 x top ten!) different meals.
Along with baked or grilled meat with a starch and vegetable on the side, this is what I cook for my family. Here's how to make this remixing chart work for you:
1. Choose a meat, a starch, and a veggie.
2. Decide on presentation: casserole, pie, cold salad, etc.
3. Decide on a topping (opt.)
4. Start mixing.
Chicken and rice with cream sauce and frozen peas is what we had for dinner last night (and it got rave reviews from everyone.) 
*Try mixing ham, pasta, cheese sauce and broccoli and baking for 20 minutes for another yummy casserole. 
*Mix tuna and chopped boiled eggs with mayo for a cold salad. 
*Saute chopped, cooked pork (or chicken or ham) with cooked rice, peas and carrots, scrambled eggs, and soy sauce for a yummy stir fried rice. 
Get the idea? I've never thought of it this way before, but this is basically all I do to feed our family for the 300 or so nights that I cook each year!
*Cream/cheese sauce. Melt 2T butter over medium heat in sauce pan, add 2T flour and whisk until just brown. Add 2C of milk and stir constantly until thickened. Add 2 bullion cubes and stir until dissolved. For cream sauce, reduce milk to 1 1/2 cups and add 2/3 cup mozzarella. For cheese sauce, add 2C of sharp cheddar. I make mine like this because I'm lactose intolerant and I can use soy milk instead of regular milk. If I weren't lactose intolerant, I might make my own or I might cheat and use cream soup!
Linked with Menu Plan Monday and MMMmonday.Linked to Tempt My Tummy TuesdayTuesdays at the TableAnything RelatedDelicious DishesSlightly Indulgent TuesdayTuesday TwisterHearth and Soul HopGraceful Abandon's Blog HopTuesday Tastes, and Tasty Tuesdays over at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam and Shades of GreenLinked to Top Ten Tuesdayand Lucky Linky Tuesday What's Cooking Wednesday and It's a Keeper

Monday, February 21, 2011

Cord Blood

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of CryoCell International. All opinions are 100% mine.

I am just beginning to learn a little about stem cells, and the research is quite compelling for saving your baby's cord blood. Have any of you done it? I haven't with any of my children, but if any of the diseases that could be cured with stem cells were on our radar, I would probably consider this even more. According to www.Cryo-Cell.com, there are 75 of these diseases and they include cancers, leukemia, lymphoma and certain immune disorders. 

Cord blood seems uniquely able to do many things that bone marrow cannot--and it has a pretty high chance of being useful for siblings as well.

The cord blood is taken directly from the umbilical cord before the placenta is delivered. This is the only time that cord blood can be taken to be used for later incidents in your child's life.

If you are at all interested in banking your unborn baby's cord blood, I would recommend contacting www.Cryo-Cell.net for more information. If you 

 right now, they are offering a free "belly bag" (it looks like a belly--quite funny!). Cryo-Cell has been around since 1989, they are licensed and accredited, and they operate their own state-of-the-art processing, testing and cryopreservation operation. Their cord blood has been used in many life-saving transplants.

So anyway, if you are pregnant, this is definitely worth checking out.


Visit Sponsor's Site

Friday, February 18, 2011

Rolled Roses Smell Sweet

I usually start planning Valentines surprises just after Christmas, but this year, Valentine's Day kind of snuck up on me. About a week before Valentines, I found this wonderful tutorial for rolled roses and decided to make a few for my friends. We mommas rarely exchange Valentines, and I decided this year was a good time to start!
After filling my right middle finger full of holes and bending my needle (!!) I finished the nine I planned to make. Each one cost about $.50 to make and took 30-45 minutes to stitch--but that's extra time for adding the leaves (just folded, ironed, and tacked) and a backing for the rose (also folded, ironed, and tacked).
I was very pleased with the results and will definitely make more of these soon! 

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Fashion Wednesday #6

I'm getting a little braver with colors--mostly just being able to mix my base colors to come up with experimental outfits. Until now, I've always had in my mind that you can use either navy, black or brown as a base for your outfit. This outfit uses black (or really dark) skinny jeans with a brown belt and shoes. I know, not all that crazy, but it's a learning curve for me, okay?
Just putting together outfits like this is definitely changing my shopping habits. When I bought these brown shoes, I was deliberating between the brown and a bright pink pair. I think if I were in that situation again, I would go for the bright pink just for fun. Next time, right?

Monday, February 14, 2011

What I Want for Valentine's...

Is a changed heart.
That's not too much to ask, is it? I have shared that our family has a complaining disease lately, and instead of sharp words, fighting and complaining as the tenor of our household, I would really love to be, as my hubby put it in a prayer recently, all about being grateful, joyful, and prayerful.
I pray that would be our motto and, eventually, our legacy.
Happy Valentine's Day!

Linked with Motivate Me Monday and Makes My Monday,

Friday, February 11, 2011


About four years ago, I bought 20 or so boxes of Valentines from Walmart in their after-V'day sale for 10 cents a box. Since then, I have let the children go "shopping" from those Valentines to choose ones to give to their friends and classmates. But this year, after seeing this wonderful idea, I felt like we needed to get a little more creative.
So we made heart shaped crayons for all our Valentines!
These creative Valentines were very inexpensive because we have tons of crayons, bajillions of crayons that will never again be used. We put those together with scrap card stock (from back when I used to scrapbook) and bags that I bought from amazon.
The kids loved crumbling up the crayons to put in the heart shaped muffin tins, but our favorite part was popping the crayons out after they'd been in the fridge for a while. The tops of the "crayon muffins" tend to be quite dull, but the bottoms are works of art. Each one is unique! For even more pizzaz, we used some of our glitter and sparkle crayons in our hearts.
This project was overall a huge success: Kids loved it (check), super frugal (check),  not all that time consuming (check), beautiful results (check!).
The kiddos are very excited about handing out their Valentines!
You might also be interested in:
(I went a little Valentines Crazy Last Year!)

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Fashion Wednesday #5

Today's outfit is a brainstorm from the whole remix idea. I've never been able to wear this dress to church (see the slits up the sides!) but with leggings and a sweater to camouflage the definite "date night only" qualities of this dress, it made a nice church outfit. The striped sweater is a thrift store find, the dress is old (way before kiddos), but I felt like the look was completely new. 
Mandatory goofy look pic

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

10 Basic Specific Carbohydrate Diet Recipes

A friend of mine recently found out she had a condition that required her to follow the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD). When my friend first told me that she was cutting grains and starches of all/most kinds out of her diet, I was floored. "What do you EAT?" I wondered. And the truth was, she wasn't eating much. Salads and plain slabs of meat kind of lose their wonder after about the 100th day! After a while she began searching out recipes, and the challenge of finding recipes safe for her to eat began to entice me. So, here's a list of recipes she's given me and recipes I've discovered (or am suggesting) for SCD. I'm going to skip the ones heavy in substitutionary flours because those flours can get expensive. I'm also going to skip the (sometimes quite wonderful) things you can do with just cooked meat or just cooked veggies. This hunt is about finding recipes that use mostly regular ingredients with only small amounts of those substitutionary flours. Oh, and I am relying heavily on this listing of legal vs. illegal foods for those on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet.
So here goes:
1. This first one is a suggestion that I've shared with readers before as edible play dough. This is definitely fun to play with, but, it could make a great sweet, healthy snack as well. Peanut butter is (so I've read) something that those on this diet should not take in too much of, but this recipe could also use almond butter or cashew butter (yum!).
Peanut Butter Balls
Mix 1 cup instant nonfat dry milk, 1 cup peanut butter, and 3 T honey. Form dough in small balls and enjoy.
2. Here's a recipe from an SCD Recipe site that my friend recommended:
Egg Noodle Soup
Blend 3 eggs, 1 t water, and 1/2 t salt. Spread on heated and greased frying pan and allow to set. Flip to cook other side slightly. Flip out on a towel and cut into strip. Add these noodles, 1 cup chopped chicken and 1 cup frozen mixed vegetables to 6 cups chicken broth. Season to taste.
3. I found this one here and I think it would be a standard go-to if I were following this diet. Even though it calls for some unusual (and therefore expensive) ingredients, it doesn't use very much of any of them. The great thing about these is that you can leave out the honey and vanilla and add a pinch of salt to use them to wrap savory ingredients (see suggestions below.)
6 eggs

1 tsp coconut oil

½ tsp vanilla essence

1 Tbs coconut cream

1 tsp honey

3 Tbs coconut flour

Combine the eggs with the coconut oil, vanilla, coconut cream and honey and whisk until light and frothy. Add the sifted coconut flour and combine. The consistency of the batter should be the same as normal crepe batter. It should coat the back of spoon but be quite thin.
Heat a little oil in a frying pan on medium and pour about 3 Tbs of batter into the pan. Lift the pan by the handle and roll the batter over the surface of the pan until the whole surface is covered. It only takes around one minutes for the crepe to brown on one side. Turn it over and brown on the other side.
4. Savory Crepes: Make the above crepe for savory ingredients. Choose one kind of meat, a cheese, one or two veggies, and one of these home made salad dressings. (There are 9 different kinds to choose from!) Examples might be ham-swiss-spinach-poppy seed dressing/chicken-cheddar-no sugar bacon-zucchini strips-italian dressing/turkey-carrots-green leaf lettuce-ranch dressing. These all sound yummy and easy to me.
5. Sweet Crepes: Make the above crepe for sweet ingredients. Chop and heat 1 peach in a bowl with 2 T water and 1 t honey. Bring just to a boil. Pour peach mixture into crepe and fold crepe over. Top with SCD safe yogurt. (I am making myself very hungry.) 
6. I love casseroles, so I was especially looking for some that my friend could put together. Here's one from this site that sounds very yummy to me.

Zucchini Egg Casserole 
1/4 C water, 1/4 t salt, 1 lb. zucchini (coarsely chopped) 1 T butter, 1 C sliced fresh mushrooms, 1/3 C chopped onion, 4 eggs beaten, 1 1/2 C shredded Cheddar cheese, 1 2-oz. jar diced pimiento (drained), 1/8 t garlic powder, 1/4 t salt, 1/8 t pepper 
Boil zucchini in water and salt for about 7 minutes, stirring often. Drain well and set zucchini asisde. Saute mushrooms and onions in butter until tender. Add remaining ingreients and zucchini to sauteed vegetables and mix well. Pour into a greased baking dish. Bake at 350 F (180 C) until eggs are set.
7.  This is just a group of vegetables, but since the combination makes me salivate just thinking about it, I thought I'd share: Mushroom Broccoli Medley has the wonderfulness of being cooked in bacon grease and tossed with bacon. I know the SC Diet recommends not too much bacon, so you'd have to make this a different week than #9.
8. Here's a recipe my friend says she's been enjoying a lot lately. They strike me as something every momma would want to have around the house for the kiddos (and herself too, of course. If I were making them I would use 2C whole wheat flour and 2C AP flour.) This recipe is also from scdiet.org. This is my token high substitutionary flour recipe.

Almond Flour Cookies
4 C of almond flour, 1/3 C melted butter, 1/4 t baking soda, 1/4 t salt, 1/2-1 t SCD-legal vanilla, 1/2 C honey, 1/2 C raisins, 1/2 C unsweetened coconut flakes, 1 T natural peanut butter, 2 eggs 
Cook dough balls of this mixture on two cookie sheets at 350 F degrees (180 C) for 6-8 minutes and then flatten them with a fork. Lower the temp to 300 F (150 C) for another 10-12 minutes. Every few minutes alternate the two sheets on the oven racks. Use heavy duty cookie sheets that are extra thick to help avoid burning.

9. I'm sure that those who are on the SC diet do A LOT of tweaking recipes. This recipe for Chuck Wagon Stew could easily be tweaked for this diet.  I recently put rutabaga (legal according to this list) in a beef stew instead of potatoes. You could do the same for this hearty comfort stew. Chop it well and it will take just a little longer than potato to cook.  Use frozen green beans (put them in when after rutabaga has cooked about 20 minutes.) And chop a fresh tomato to put in about 10 minutes before serving the stew.
10. How about ending with an appetizer/ calorie booster? These Green Bean Bundles sound very yummy. Leave out the sugar, use homemade bullion,  and make sure the bacon is low sodium, no sugar.
So I'm certainly no expert, but even just making this list has given me a huge admiration for those of you who have to follow any kind of strict diet. It would be hard to look for recipes you could use just because you have to weed through so many (that sound yummy and) that are full of taboo foods. I hope this helps a teeny bit--even if it's just knowing that someone else sympathizes!

Other Food Posts You Might Find Helpful:

Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Pacifier

So last Saturday was D-day, get rid of the pacifier day. We talked a lot about our romantic method of separating girl from pacifier before the day. We were going to let it go with balloons. We spent all day getting said little girl very tired--we went swimming at the Y, out to lunch, to Sams, and to BiLo. We came home from BiLo with three lovely helium balloons. We readied a prepared, celebratory cake and then attached the pacifier to the balloons and went outside to do the deed. 
The youngest seemed remarkably unaffected by the whole affair. 
She released the balloons with very little emotion. And we all oohed and ahed as they floated away...

And immediately got stuck in a tree!
What a way to end a moment! The hubby had to pop the balloons with a little fancy gun-work, but the pacifier will hang there as long as the tree shall live.
We went inside for the cake and celebrated the youngest being such a big girl. The first two nights the youngest did great! Then a certain boy found an old infant paci hidden in a drawer and gave it to her. The momma had to take it away and that caused a lot more consternation than the original balloon ordeal! The next two nights were a little harder, but I'm happy to announce that everyone (to my knowledge) slept well the last few nights.
Oh, and by the way, when the youngest tells the story, she usually says something like, "Balloons popped and I'm a big girl and daddy had a gun and my pacifier is in the tree for the baby birds." I hope I'm always there to interpret!

Friday, February 4, 2011

DVD Shelf Project

I know there is supposed to be something called "Spring Cleaning" and maybe we'll have that and maybe we won't, but I usually do get a little fire in my pants for cleaning out the house after the influx of Christmas toys. This year the attic and all of the closets and drawers were on my list. Maybe I'll show you the attic (which looks pretty doggone good compared to the end of last year!) next week, but today I want to share a little shelf.
We got a new tv for Christmas--finally upgraded to the fancy, schmanzy high def pizzaz. We had to get rid of our lovely cabinet that closed the old tv away from the family room. The new tv now sits on a chest until we can get a cabinet for it. So, that left the DVDs with no home. Fortunately I was cleaning out closets and found a shelf that my brother built for my oldest quite a while ago. It was unique with a decorative trim. It had a shelf on top with two small drawers underneath. I forgot to take a "before" pic of the shelf, so you'll have to settle for just seeing the two old drawers. The bottom part of the shelf was a very tall opening. So, the hubby took out the drawers, rearranged the shelves a bit, and I spray painted the whole thing a shiny black. It had been a very, very light pink.
And there you have it, a perfect DVD shelf! 
When I put it in the family room, the space above it looked very empty, so I headed up to the newly organized attic. And what would you believe that I found? A large frame and an old painting of my dad's. (Is that right, dad, or did one of your old art students do it?) The frame had a mat with cutouts for smaller pictures. I just cut around the edge so that it was a simple large-frame mat and inserted the painting. and again, there was a perfect, frugal re-do for that empty space.
And the total cost for scattered DVDs and empty space to organized, beautiful shelf and painting? $2 for the spray paint! 

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Fashion Wednesday #4

The youngest (2yo) took this pic to show you guys my "casual fashion" for the week.
cords--Old Navy, t-shirt (with a beautiful rose graphic)--Limited flannel--Target belt--NY&Co and scarf around my bun--really old, can't remember
Why do I like to poke my belly out in pics? This is my dressed up fashion for the week--dress--Old Navy, t-shirt--Ann Taylor Loft. You can't see it from this pic, but I turned a beautiful flower jeweled pin into a necklace with black ribbon. I love the fact that looking at fashion blogs has made me much more creative when I'm getting ready!
Oh, and it always makes me very nervous to break a rule that I probably made up for myself: don't wear navy and black in the same outfit. But I took a deep breath and did it anyway with this one!