Monday, March 30, 2009

Conference References

For those who are LDS, its conference weekend and here are a couple of links to some good resources for entertaining those kids during the 2 hour meetings for church! This is compliments of my super talented and awesome friend Robyn! Thanks girl!

Recession Gardening

Howdy all,

I hope this Monday morning is treating you all well. Mine started at 5:00am with another boot camp workout....I need to post another workout soon, and I will....I promise!

I heard on the radio the other day that Gardening is growing in popularity because of the financial recession that the US is in. People are trying to save money and be a little more self reliant so they are planting gardens. One figure even showed that you could spend as little as $50 on gardening supplies and your yield could be as much as $1200 worth of produce! WOW! That is a lot!

My garden is coming along nicely and I have found that I really enjoy being outside and working in it and my yard. We have done some work on our front yard too and I can't wait for the roses and other flowers to start growing and blooming so that they fill up their little spaces. Right now they are just twigs coming out of the ground....but soon they will be shrubs and beautiful, I am sure!

So, even if it is just planting a tomato plant because you like them....and they are so much better when you grow them....then just try it and see how it goes. I used to not like tomatoes....until one year someone brought me some small yellow pear tomatoes and I loved them....they are firm and tasty! I have one of those growing in my garden now and I hope that it booms with those yummy things, they make an excellent Tomato Vinaigrette Salad....I should post that recipe as well....will do. (Do you like how I talk to myself as I write?)

Anyway...if you think you have a brown thumb...then just get something that is hardy and needs very little care....just try might like it....and its good to stretch and grow and learn new things, right?

Have a beautiful day...make your day beautiful, even if the odds are against ya!


Recipe: Basic Meatballs

This is a basic recipe for meatballs using ground beef. My husband and I both liked them so I thought I would post....I love a good meatball! This is from The Pioneer Woman (one of my favorite food blogger) website.

BBQ Meatballs - Comfort Food to the Max

1 1/2 pounds ground beef
3/4 cup oats
1 cup milk
3 tablespoons very finely minced onion
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
plenty of ground black pepper

1 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons vinegar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire
4 to 6 tablespoons onion
Dash of Tabasco

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine all meatball ingredients. Roll into medium-small balls and place on a cookie sheet. Place sheet in freezer for five minutes.

Remove from freezer and immediately dredge in unseasoned flour.

Brown meatballs in canola oil until just brown. Place into a baking dish.
Combine all sauce ingredients. Pour over meatballs and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Serve with egg noodles, mashed potatoes, or crusty french bread.

Her sauce is a ketchup tasting sauce, similar to what I have had on meatloaf. If you don't want that kind of sauce, you could just use your favorite barbecue sauce or use a can or two of Cream of Mushroom Soup and it would be more like Swedish meatballs.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Healthy Living

There are a few things you can go....just little changes...that can help you to eat better and healthier. Here are a few suggestions.....please note....if you made a New Year's Resolution to eat better, it almost April! If you haven't started, then there is no time like the present!

This is what I would suggest.....
  • Eat 3 small meals a day (like breakfast, lunch, and dinner) plus 2 snacks, one in the mid morning and one in the mid afternoon (which I like to call my after school snack even though I am not in school and am sitting at my desk).
  • Include at least one fruit or vegetable with every meal and snack....French fries and the like do not count, even if they are the best thing since sliced bread.
  • Speaking of sliced whole grain breads, the white stuff sure is gooey and yummy but its just fluff and you body needs more!
  • If you aren't big into eating fruits or veggies, then try to mix them in a smoothie. Carrots, Kale, and spinach are great add ons to a fruit smoothie and I hardly even notice they are there. Kale is a super food with lots of good stuff in it, so just throw it in an feel better. I have a fact sheet on kale I will have to post because it has lots of good stuff.
  • For potatoes, substitute white ones with sweet will be surprised how easy it is to use them instead and they are packed with all sorts of goodness....and better for you...they even make great French fries, in fact I prefer them as french fries over white potatoes. I should probably post that recipe, I will sometime soon.
  • Organic versus regular old produce. My husband read an article the other day from a nutritionist that asked him the question about which was better. He said most Americans get 7% of their nutrition from really....just eat produce! While organic may have some benefits, its better to eat produce than drink a coke!
  • If you are going out to eat to your favorite Mexican food something healthy and nutritious before you go....fill the void in your stomach so you don't eat as much. And, when they deliver your food, immediately ask for a "to go" container and take at least half and put it away. You are less likely to eat it if you cannot see it on your plate.
  • Try to eat at home as much as you can, generally you will eat healthier there.
  • Fill your home with nutritious and healthy foods, you are less likely to eat that bag of Cheetos if they are not there!
  • My neighbor said his wife won't let him eat anything that ends with "i-to" and I think that is pretty funny, not Doritos, Cheetos, etc. Its pretty good advice. I love Cheetos but they are so calorie and fat full.
  • Get forced exercise....park a little farther away, take the long way at the store, park on the other side of the mall from the place you are going (although that may cost you some money as you pass a sale.). Every step counts, so walk a little further.
  • Find someone to get together with and cut up and prepare all your produce. I think its a fun idea to go buy everything and then get together and cut up all your veggies and wash everything so its ready to go! It will make your meal prep go quicker and you will actually use your produce more.
  • Green bags--Get green bags or Tupperware or something that prolongs the life of your produce so that you aren't throwing away wilting lettuce.
  • Buy groceries from a list that you prepared with your meals planned. It takes the hassle out of getting home and figuring out what to make for dinner.
  • Try new things! Don't get in a recipe rut, branch out and look for healthier alternatives!

These are just a few suggestions but I hope they can inspire you or kick start you into some nutritional eating!

Stay dry, don't get blown away, or stay inside if its snowing...weird weather going on all over the place!

Love ya!


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Book Club: The Last Lecture

Howdy Folks--

I am back from my retreat and back to the grind at work....sorry I have not been around to post lately but I will strive to be better about it!

Tonight I am recommending the book "The Last Lecture" by Paul Rausch. you may have heard of it, it is a best seller. It is about this man (true story) that is a professor at Carnegie-Mellon and he is diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. At the school, they have a tradition of having a "last lecture" for people who are retiring or leaving and they gave him this opportunity since he was only given 3-6 months to live. He talks about life lessons and things he learned from others. Its a great book, a fast read, and I found it really inspiring in a non-depressing I am going to die kind of way. He faces his disease head on, does what he can to fight it, and is frank with his feelings and what legacy he was trying to leave his 3 very young children who may not remember him.

This is a great bedtime book, one of those books you can read before you go to bed and just read a little or a lot, it doesn't matter. All the "chapters" are his life lessons so its okay if you skip for a few days and then pick up reading again. His courage and grit I found inspiring....and I hope you will too!

Be beautiful people!


FHE: Food Storage Scavenger Hunt

I was talking to my friend Diane at boot camp this morning and she said for their Family night that they did a Food Storage Scavenger Hunt. She said the kids had to go find and figure out what foods they had and then report back and then they cooked with some of the food to make sure it was still good and should stay in the pantry/storage some more. She said the kids loved it and it was fun for all, plus she made dessert with some of the flour they had! YUM!

So, I thought I would pass along this idea to others because I thought it was creative and fun....who knows what I would find in my pantry!?!?

Love ya!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Recipe: Brie Mushroom Burgers

I experimented with the recipe last night and it turned out quite good. The mushrooms and onions in the burgers kept it moist and tasty and the brie was subtle but added a nice richness to it. This is how I did it. Since this was an experiment, I didn't take any forgive me...but I had many requests for the recipe so here goes...

This is enough to make 3 decent hamburgers.


1 pound of ground beef (leaner is better for your health but Chuck sure is good)
1/2 Large Portabella cap, finely chopped
1/2 large onion, minced
Whole Wheat Hamburger buns (or whatever your preference)
Hamburger fixins of your choice
salt and pepper--to taste
1 teaspoon Mrs. Dash
1 tablespoon of olive oil
6 slices of brie

I took the pound of ground beef and put it in a bowl and seasoning it with salt, pepper, and Mrs. Dash. I use Kosher salt, and probably used about a teaspoon of each. Mix it up really good, you may have to use your hands.

Then I took the onion and mushroom and shopped them up to a fine chop or close to a mince. I wanted the pieces to be small so that they would evenly distribute throughout each hamburger patty and give flavor throughout. I then took the onion and mushrooms and sauteed them in some olive oil until they were golden brown on the edges and translucent....and you house smells wonderful! I then took those off the burner and let them cool a little.

Now its time to mix the beef and the mushroom/onion mixture. Mix it so that it is all evenly distributed and each bite gets a little of everything.

Now, lets form the patties! You will need to make 2 really thin patties to make one hamburger. Take one of the patties and place 2 slices of brie on it and then top with the other patty. pick up the patties and go around the edge and seal them up so that you cannot see the brie from any angle. Its like a secret pocket of yum on the inside. Form all the patties.

When its time to cook, I sprayed the pan with Pam and got the pan hot so that it would make a nice sear on the patty (because that is the way I like them). You don't want to turn them too much because they are kind of delicate with the brie in the middle. Place them in the pan and wait. When the bottom is nice and seared, it will release from the pan.....flip it over and wait. At this point I turned the stove top down to about middle heat. The leftover heat will sear this side and the lower heat will help cook it through. I left it on this side a few minutes longer to make sure it cooks through, then I covered the pan with foil and just set it aside so that the meat can rest and the ambient heat will continue to cook and keep it warm.

At this point I toasted the buns. Its also great to put the buns in the pan and kind of grill them in the pan with a little butter....but I was trying to cut a few calories so I just toasted them.

Then I fixed them up like a normal burger and we ate. I really like how juicy they were and you really don't notice the brie since it melts throughout the burger, its just the heightened flavor that rounds it out. If you love mushrooms and onions, you could top them with more sauteed ones and eat up!



Friday, March 13, 2009

I have my hands full

Howdy all,

Sorry for abandoning the blog a little this week, its been a busy week. My husband has to work the late shift at work 2 weeks out of every semester and that has been this week! I have a great appreciation for military spouses and single parents because by last night, my little boy was just driving me crazy. So, we went to bed early so I could relax a little and have some quiet. I should clarify that we were in bed but my little one certainly wasn't to sleep early, he rolled around and sat up and was generally just restless, but he finally conked out! It doesn't help that this week I started to get up at 5:00 a m so that I could start my boot camp workouts, so after coming home from work, making dinner, and eating....I was spent! Its 8:00pm and I am thinking it would be lovely to take a nice long hot bath and tuck in for the night....but no....needless to say my kitchen is a mess. I at least got the dishwasher empty, but the dirty dishes are still on the counter. I hope I don't win the Publisher's Clearinghouse tonight and they come surprise me with a big check and film me walking in my kitchen!!!! (Okay, I might take the humiliation for a large amount of cash.....or even just an awesome pair of shoes.)

My accomplishment last night was that the living room was fairly decent because we did get the toys picked seems like it only took about 12 hours for that to happen....I said the phrase "put the letters in the bag" about 87 times as he would get distracted while "cleaning up". Poor little guy was probably thinking "but mom, this is the letter R and I REALLY like this letter." and I was thinking "I think he has put 2 letters in that bag in the last 5 minutes." Oh well, I slept well and got to sleep in until 6:00 a m since I didn't have normal boot camp today.

Today my goal is going to be to not get sick! My throat has been sore for 2 days so I am trying to drink warm liquids, take my meds, and heal! Its probably allergies that were blown in with this cold front....did I mention it went from 70 to 50 within a few hours on Wednesday and its been rainy and in the 40s since. We needed the rain, but the cold with the rain sure does make it miserable....unless you are one of those people who gets to stay inside, snuggle in your PJs and read a good book with some liquid chocolate in an amazingly cute mug....if you are one of those people....I am with it!

So, I leave next week for my scrap booking retreat so I will have some ideas and new crafts from that. I will also try to post some fun things before I go!

Stay Safe and be good! Remember to do something beautiful for yourself today!


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

High Heels Workout--You just need to bring your body

I know many of you are saying that you can't really workout because you don't have a gym membership...or weights....or an eliptical machine.....etc, etc, etc.

My answer to this statement.......OH YES YOU CAN!

You don't really need all that stuff....a small set of 5 pound weights are hand and a yoga mat for sit ups and push ups is nice...but you can also use a towel or the carpet if you have to and bottles of water or canned goods can work as weights.

They key is to use your body as your weight. I have rejoined my Adventure Bootcamp group and it has been so motivational for me and I feel so great when I workout....I want you to feel that way too. I have started to get up at 5:30am and go workout for an hour...that is 5:30 in the morning....I know, I know, its EARLY but its worth it and you are worth it and you will sleep better and need less of just stop your complaining and GO!

Here is what I want you to is a workout with just you, yourself, and I. You can do it in close proximity to your home, I promise!

To warm up....start at one end of your driveway and go to the other end
(if your driveway is 5 feet long, you will need to go longer, more like at least 40 feet and if your driveway is a mile long...then shoot for an area that is close to 40-50 feet long.

Start at one end and go to the other end and then turn around and come back...doing this as a warm up....

  • High knee steps....walking, not too fast, just stretch out those muscles
  • Hurdler one leg down and the other leg back, just pretend like the one leg is the back leg going over a hurdle.
  • Mummies-arms out straight and straigh-ish legs
  • Hiney kickers--a quick jog where you kick your hiney as you run
  • arch touch walk00with each step you touch the opposite hand to the opposite arch on your foot
  • High knees Fast-jog this time getting those knees up
  • Giant steps-basically a walking lunge
  • Grapevine--turn sideways and walk sideways alternating feet in front and back

Okay--Now that you have done that, you are a little warmed go run a little might just be to your neighbors house 2-3 doors down but jog down there and jog back.

**Back at your home base, now do 10 push ups...then run another little lap....

Back at home base, now do 10 sit ups, run/jog/fast walk to the end of the drive and back to home base.

Do 10 squats and 10 lunges, and run/jog to the end of the drive and back to home base.

Now run another little loop.

And then do it all again starting at the ** sure to stay hydrated and drink lots of does a body good!

Okay, now lets work on some arms....go to a wall on your house on the outside and do 20 wall push ups. Then, hold your arms out so your body makes a T shape and do small arm circles for 20 seconds and then big arm circles for 20 seconds. then repeat starting with the wall push ups.

Now get you a yoga mat or a towel and lay down for sit ups. Do 20 standard sit ups, then put your feet in the air and do 30 crunches (10 in the center and 10 to the left and right). Now get up and go run another little loop.

Come back and lay back down for sit ups and do that rotation again but cut everything in half, so start with 10 standard sit ups instead of 20. Try to do them faster than you did last time.

Now, roll over and do push ups....for 30 seconds, just do as many as you can. Roll over and do 10 crunches, then roll back over and do 30 seconds more of push ups. You can do it!

Okay, now lets stretch out those muscles we just used....

Sit on the ground with your legs out straight and bed forward and hold for 15 seconds, then come up and do it again, this time going farther down. Don't forget to breath!

Now, pull bend your right leg and cross it over your left straight leg and pull it in (hug it). Do the other side. Hold those about 20 seconds.

Roll over on your tummy and go up into cobra, which is laying down flat and then pushing your shoulders up...just go up to your elbows if that is all you can do, if you can go on your hands, so that and stretch out that back. Now get on your hands and knees and stretch that back into an arch like a cat.

Take some deep breathes and feel good! You may be sore tomorrow, but that is a good sign because it shows your body that you are moving and using muscles that may have been a little dormant! Stay hydrated and eat a fruit or veggie with every meal or snack.

Be fine in 09!


Saturday, March 7, 2009

Daylight Savings Reminder

For those who live in areas with Daylight Savings....its tonight...ugh....I hate loosing an hour of sleep, I don' get enough as it is! Maybe I should just go to bed now and compensate for it!

So, 2:00am becomes 3:00am....blek!

Gardening: A tree Planter

Purple Petunia's in a tree planter area!

This is one of the projects we worked on today and I was surprised at how quickly it went. I went to Home Depot (since it was the kid's free workshop day) and bought these gray edging pieces. They are somewhere between $1.33-$1.43 each, depending on whether you want the curved ones or the straight ones. I bought 12 thinking that would be enough and actually had 2 left over, but if we had tweaked the circle a little, we could have made it bigger and used all of them. I bought 2 bags of soil, one was a gardening mix that was less than $4 and one was a topsoil that was less than $2. The flowers are purple Petunia's that were just beautiful and vibrant and I got a flat of 18 of them for $11. So, for somewhere around $30-$35, I put in this planter and planted the flowers and it looks so much better than it did before. I took the 2 bags of soil and put one on one side of the circle and the other on the other side and then mixed them before I planted them. I put the edging stones around first and then filled with the soil and planted, then watered. They are so pretty and it really took no time at all.
So, do something to spruce up your environment! Add a planter or a edge row and put in some color. Just be sure to buy a flower that can take whatever kind of sun you get there. This part gets full sun for us because the tree is still young but a bigger tree would offer more shade and you could go with a partial shade flower.
Make your world beautiful!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Just a reminder:Home Depot Kid's Workshop is tomorrow!

Remember that tomorrow is the FREE Home Depot Kid's Workshop from 9am-12 pm. They are doing a little race thing for cars but I bet the girls would love it too!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Random thoughts:Where in the world have I been?

I am sorry that I have been a MIA blogger this pas couple of weeks. The only explanation is that I have been BIT...BIT, I say by the gardening bug and I have been working on getting my raised beds in. I thought I would chronicle a little of it so you can see why I have been away from the old computer and blog.

First, we talked and discussed where we should put our beds....we analyzed the light, because morning sun is better than blazing hot afternoon sun for most things, so its better to plant on the east side of a north facing house. Plus, there are parts of our yard that will get just full out sun all the time, and that would probably kill many a plant.

Once we decided that, I drew up plans for the back yard....all those years as a landscape architecture major (2 years before I switched) paid off in that I can draw up some fairly decent garden I had grid paper, which always helps!

So, I drew up plans and then figured out the height, width, and length of beds and then calculated how much dirt I would need for each one and bla bla blah blah blah....I really did all that and have done it numerous times since the first time I drew it up when I changed my mind. So then, we decided we would have 5 cubic yards of dirt delivered to our arrived a little over a week ago on Monday afternoon. At first I thought it wasn't as much dirt as I thought it would be...and then as we started moving it shovel full by shovel full...we realized that every grain of that 5 cubic yards was there.

(For those who need to know how to figure cubic yards, take your weight times your height times your length of your bed and divide it by 27...that is how you figure cubic yards...or at least that is what I was told...if I am wrong let me knoiw but it worked pretty well for us.)

So, we started on Monday night and worked from the time we got home and changed clothes until it was dark, so from an hour and a half to 2 hours. We did the same thing Tuesday, and Wednesday...and we got 2/3 of the dirt moved into place.

After all my measuring and planning, this is what we did. We just picked kind of scientifically, kind of randomly...5 cubic yards to be delivered and figured we would just use it until it was gone and then order more if we needed it. We also didn't want to order so much that we couldn't park in our driveway for weeks.

This picture below was taken when we only had about 1/3 of the dirt you can imagine how much it was when it was all there....

This picture kind of shows you what we were doing. We had the dirt delivered to the back of our driveway and then we would shovel it into the wheel barrow ($30 at Wal Mart for the wheel barrow), and take it to the fence where the beds would go, and then dump it. Our beds are about 4 feet wide, 12 inches deep, and probably 50-55 feet long.

Here is one a little closer up (and probably actually taken before the one above).
We just dumped the dirt in the general area where it would go. now most people would probably make their beds first, but this is the way my husband wanted to do it so I just went along. I probably would have made the beds like the link I will post at the bottom, but his way worked just fine and I am happy with it...see, sometimes you have to compromise in a marriage and just let the man win or at least let him think he was right. :)

Then, once the dirt was placed, we took untreated cedar planks that are 6 feet long and laid them next to it.

Then he pounded wooden stakes to keep them upright and then went through and put stakes on the other side. Notice in the above picture the large sledge husband paid a lot of money for that...its an 8 pound sledge....he said its something he always
Then we went through and evened out the dirt and finished it all off. It was really easy to do it his way, plus he wants to eventually replace the wood with stone, so he said this is an easy way to do that. If you come to my house in 5 years and there is still wood there, don't be too surprised, but we can dream that we will have stone there someday.

And now it is late and here was the last shot of the night as the sun went down!
I should explain that the beds do not look 12 inches deep from here...our side yard is sloped down, so the edge where the cedar is will only be about 6 inches deep but it quickly drops to 12.
So, we finished all that on Saturday and tonight we started to transplant some plants and to get things ready to plant. We have been hardening off some of the other plants so they can go out this weekend. The last average frost/freeze date of the year for us is March 3rd, so we can plant our tomatoes on Saturday!
More pictures to come as we go along....really, its been so fun. The exercise has been good...the family time has been great...and being outdoors in the lovely weather we have had has been really nice. On Saturday, it was 50 and really windy, but we just bundled up in our sweatshirts and went about our business.
Now...its planting time! More to come....
...and for those of you who could't give a hoot about gardening, don't worry, I have other things I will talk about RETREAT is in 2.5 weeks and I will have my 3 days of scrpabooking with my sisters and friends and I can't wait!
If you want a step by step instructions with pictures on how to make really nice free standing beds, here

PW does a great job of telling you how to do it.
Now plant something...its the green thing to do!
Love ya!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Recipe: Blueberry Pound Cake

This recipe is from my friends the Strattons. I made it last night for our monthly birthday celebration at work and received lots of compliments and it was almost gone by the time I left. Its a nice cake because it tastes like it could even be a breakfast cake....similar to a blueberry muffin but still cake like...very yummy!

2 cups sugar
1-cup butter, softened
1-tablespoon pure vanilla extract
4 eggs
3 cups flour, divided
½ teaspoon baking powder
2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries, thaw if frozen
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans (I leave them out)

Preheat oven to 325.

In a large mixing bowl, beat sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Add vanilla. Beat in eggs, one at a time until well blended.

Mix 2 cups flour and baking powder; gradually beat into creamed mixture until smooth.

Mix blueberries, pecans and remaining flour until coated. Carefully fold into batter.

Sprinkle 1 tablespoon granulated sugar into bottom of a bundt cake pan, then pour in batter.

Bake 1 hour 15 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan 10 minutes. Invert on cooling rack; cool completely. Sprinkle with powdered sugar when serving.
Silly me, I forgot to take a picture of it once I turned it out...sorry! But its really a lovely cake. I suppose you could also drizzle it with a little mixture of powdered sugar and milk...but I was trying to save some calories.

Hmmm, that is interesting

My sister just called to tell my that the words on my blog were not shoing I checked and sure enough...she is right! So, I went into the settings and everything was set correctly so I reset a few things and the words are back. I don't know how long that was going on...but I apologize!

I will hopefully post some more tonight...I spent the weekend working on my garden beds and I have pictures!

Beautiful Basics

Life is about a journey, and you are the only one who can make yours... So, embrace life: the good, the bad, and the is the only one you've got.

Here's to being Beautiful, inside and out!