Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Kathleen Turns 10 Years Old!

I can hardly believe that my baby girl is now in the double digit numbers. My sweet little blessing and miracle baby that surprised us after years of trying. Going from being told that I would never have children to having 2 incredible girls, I have been blessed beyond words.

From the moment I knew I was pregnant I had so much love for this new little life I would soon be meeting. Her feisty movements in my belly as I carried her let me know early she was head strong and going places, lol!

                  Her wonderment for life never ceases to amaze me, I love everything about her.

                   My mini me, my passionate dancer, singer, crafter, and so much  more.

She has always loved to pick me flowers from the yard and give them to me, just one of the many ways she shows me she loves me.

Her determination in everything she does is admirable and she makes me so very proud to be her mom.

           Watching her grow up has been such a joy to me, the laughter and silliness, so much love.

Kathleen, my beautiful baby girl, you are growing up so quickly I wish I could turn back time to slow it down. I love your giggles, laughter, smiles, your passion for everything you do in life. Your amazing huge and caring heart, how you help others, your love of animals, your talented crafting abilities, your artwork, your love of learning and so much more.

My heart is so full of pride and love for you and I wish you every happiness in the world!!!!!!!!!!!
Happy 10th birthday baby girl and many, many, many more to come. May each and every day bring you only good things and know you are loved more than you could ever possibly know.

Never stop smiling and enjoying all the little things around you and count your blessings every day!

                                                                  Love, Mommy

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Review of Crown Coast Heavy Duty Umbrella #crowncoastumbrella

               * I received this product for a discounted price in exchange for my honest review*

Having an umbrella that is lightweight and easy to carry is a must for busy moms and others on the go! I loved that I was able to choose this pretty Turquoise colored Crown Coast heavy duty umbrella for my review. The umbrella has other color choices and they are: black, blue, red, yellow,white, green and pink. Colors to fit everyone's preference. It measures 10.9 x 1.6 x 1.6 inches and opens to 39" wide open. It weighs just 10.6 ounces. Perfect for the glove box in your vehicle, purses, briefcases, diaper bags, boats, school bags and more.

The umbrella is nicely constructed and has been wind tunnel tested to withstand winds up to 60 miles an hour. If it's flipped inside out, it will bounce back to it's original shape.

                            Kathleen and Hayley model how it easily covers both of them. :-)

There is an automatic button on the handle that allows you to both open and close the umbrella canopy. Kathleen thought that was a pretty cool feature. :-)

 The umbrella is not just for rainy days, in fact I often use mine against the sun's rays. The umbrella block 99% UV rays.

The umbrella has a resilient flex, memory frame technology and non absorbent synthetic polymer that's water-repellent. Treated with anti-corrosion layer stainless steel frame so no rusting.

We thought we'd have a bit of fun with it and test how well it held up under large piles of leaves being thrown over top. ;-)

Jerry scooped up a large shovel full of leaves and threw it over top Kathleen, she was laughing and smiling through it all.

As you can see it held up just fine! Another great feature is Crown Coast offers a life time guarantee; if there were any problems it would be replaced or you will receive a refund. Can't beat that benefit and the company was great to work with and wonderful about answering any questions and providing helpful information about their product.

              It's a great umbrella and I already have it stored in my purse to have on me at all times. It's the perfect size for travel and it would make a great gift for someone on your list this holiday season. 


Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Food Prep and Recipes

OK, so I can't take credit for this amazing blueberry muffin, all bragging rights go to the bakers at Sam's Club where we bought a membership this weekend. It was so moist and delicious and rich... we seriously had to cut it in half to delicious!!! Ooops did I say delicious again? LOL, it truly was!

In this post I am going to share some of the meal prep I do to prepare my family for the upcoming week. We used to be members of Costco and BJ's where we used to live, but this is the first time we have ever been fairly close (45 minutes) to a Sam's Club. When planned out right it can really save you a lot of money. I spent the entire day on Sunday prepping our food for the week. Going to share some recipes and tips with you. :-) It is a lot of work, but it is so worth it to have things ready during the week when things get crazy! I find it works out so much better with as busy as our week days are.

So on the days that I meal prep, I like to start a crock pot meal early so I don't have to worry about dinner later. Usually have a big breakfast and just grab something light for lunch, like a sandwich or a couple hard boiled eggs, yogurt and fruit.

This past Sunday, I made lentil soup in the crock pot. I've had this recipe in my collection for quite a few years, I believe it came from my mom's collection of recipes. :-)

1 cup dry lentils
1 1/2 cups carrots
1 1/2 cups celery
1 1/2 cups onion
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tsp basil
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp thyme
1 Tbsp dry parsley
2 bay leaves
3 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1 1/2 cups water
1 14 ounce can diced tomatoes

Cook on low for 12 hours or high for 5 hours.

Another tip is to buy onions and cut, dice and freeze them yourself. I found this awesome dicer for onions at my local kitchen store. Since I am super sensitive when trying to cut and dice them and have my eyes water and go blurry, Jerry is sweet and will prep these for me on the weekends to help out. Then I lay them out on a cookie sheet to flash freeze them for about an hour or so. Then I transfer them to a large freezer bag, flatten them out and I make sure all the air in the bag is released. Then I lay them in my freezer. Perfect for when I need them for a recipe :-) I use onions in just about everything I cook.

I also dice and chop peppers and other veggies that I will use for recipes through out the week. I like to add these little labels with the day i'm going to use them so they are all together and easy to grab.

I have also spoiled my family.... if mom prepares veggies and fruit and places them in accessible containers, they will get eaten! LOL. I will add peanut butter to celery sticks and have ranch or other veggie dip available. And of course using a bowl for the trash is a big time saver. Just fill it up and empty it all at once. After learning what they do to pre washed carrots I have refused to buy them that way. I'd rather spend time peeling and slicing to keep my family healthy. Sometimes pre preparation is not always a benefit.

I love my salad spinner I got from Walmart a couple years ago. It's perfect for rinsing my lettuce and then spinning it to release the excess water. I use it frequently and prep salads for the week.

Another time saver is boiling a few hard boiled eggs for the week. We enjoy them on our salads or by themselves. I like making up our salads in the Ball canning jars with different things we like. Sometimes I add dressing on the bottom and just shake it up and other times I will have it in a separate smaller container. Hayley likes when I have these made up for her lunches for the week. I do about 3 days at a time to keep them fresh. Also do pasta salads and topping are very versatile! A quick grab and go... we love it! You can eat it directly from the jar or flip it onto a plate or bowl to enjoy. Ball mason jars are great for so many things!

I also found this awesome recipe for breakfast burritos and they are a huge hit here. They freeze great and are so delicious! I found this YouTube channel called Mind over Munch and she has a lot of great healthy recipes. I don't know her personally or anything but when I find something I like I have to share. :-)

I made two kinds, one turkey and one beef. I don't eat red meat so it was an easy adaptation.

Breakfast burritos

I can't recall the link to her exact video that I saw it on, so I will share the recipe, but the credit is all hers. :-) I did adapt ours a bit and used ingredients I had on hand, it tastes wonderful!

2 cups of eggs whisked together
Spray frying pan with cooking spray and add
1/2 cup diced onions
1 cup diced mushrooms
2 cups chopped Spinach (I used a kale, spinach mixture)
Cook, then add in eggs and a packet of taco seasoning.
Stir and work eggs into a scramble, when they are almost done add diced tomatoes (1 can) or salsa and the meat (12-16 oz) I made a little extra ;-)

I cooked my meat in a separate pan first before adding it to the pan.

Lay out a sheet of plastic wrap and place an 8 inch tortilla in the middle. Scoop egg mixture onto tortilla, add shredded cheese of choice if you would like or leave it plain. Both ways are great! Fold corners in then roll up from the sides. Wrap tightly and label, eat within a few days if keeping in the fridge or you can freeze them.

I made about 60 of them at one time and have enough to last us awhile, lol. ;-)

Something else I have always liked doing is  prepping bags for smoothies. This can be changed up in many ways. I flash freeze my fruit of choice, in this case bananas, strawberries and blueberries. Then add in my greens, in this case a kale spinach mix. Squeeze out all the air, roll them up, label them and put them in the freezer. When ready to use I let them thaw for a few minutes while I get ready in the morning. Then I add milk or water along with the bag of fruit and greens to blend. I also like adding protein powder, flax seed or almond butter to them for flavor. Stevia or honey helps to sweeten it a little more too. Kathleen was my helper getting them all prepped. :-)  She was also a big help making the burritos.

                                                       She thought it was pretty fun! :-)

All labeled, rolled and ready to freeze! Thanks again to Mind over Munch for the great recipe, hope you don't mind me sharing it! :-)

Just had to throw in a picture of the  Naked smoothies we like to drink mid day when schooling for a little extra boost! Making it ourselves is always best, but these smoothies are so good and not loaded with sugar or preservatives. They don't last long in our house and are quite filling!

I've also been wanting to try a cauliflower crust pizza and so glad I did! There are many variations of this recipe and it's a bit of work, but so worth it! Much healthier choice than the tradition greasy pizza! Again this is pretty easy to change up with spices, toppings, etc., but here is the recipe that I found and tried. I was quite pleased with how it turned out. The biggest thing I can recommend is make sure all the water is squeezed out of the cauliflower, works better for building the crust. I found this recipe by Doris Choi. Again, I don't know her personally but she has some great recipes on her site also!

It was a hit with the girls and Jerry. Any way I can make healthier choices for our family is a plus for me :-) The chicken tenders on her plate are a quick, easy and delicious way to cook them. I just add Italian dressing to the pan and heat, then add several chicken tenders. Let them cook and enjoy! I also made fresh mix of veggies and homemade bread for this meal.

So this is just a few things I do to get ready for our week. I also buy our meat in bulk and freeze it in separate smaller freezer bags. I will also freeze bag meals that are easy to dump in the crock pot. A lot of work, but it really does go a long way. Helps for making healthier choices and for saving money.