Monday, July 30, 2018

I.R.L. Tips

Blogs, magazines and Pinterest are full of great tips and ideas. In my lifelong quest to do all things domestic things as quickly and easily as I can, I'm always game to try new shortcuts. But you always wonder...does the tip apply to real life or does it take a staff of artist to master the tip? 

Here's a few I tried this month:
How to remove the melted wax from a burner easily. 

The tip called for a chunk of ribbon, but that seemed like a waste of ribbon, so I folded a piece of scrap paper and placed it in the melted wax. 

To remove the wax cleanly from a burner, turn off the burner, place the paper in the wax, and wait for it to cool and harden.

It worked!
I'll give this tip a B for effort. The tip worked, but honestly, it was more work than just setting the whole wax cup in the freezer for a bit. Once frozen, the now-hardened wax slides out with ease.

Another idea was zesty tater tots.

This idea gets an A. It was easy as pouring tater tots in a bowl, sprinkling with garlic salt, cayenne pepper, paprika, stirring, and baking.

How about you? Have any tips that were better or worse in real life?

Monday, July 23, 2018

Easy Beach Tips!

Sand, sand everywhere!
so long ago... miss those days!

Well, I'm on vacation in Florida this week so I thought it would be a perfect time to give some summer vacay tips!

First, check out this post by Liz: Life's a Beach for some awesome sand aversion advice! Great minds think alike, as I have an essential, go-to packing list too (I love lists!) But my favorite is the Sheet Seat:

"I’m lazy. I hate lugging chairs and stuff to the beach. I throw a few sheets in my beach bag and I’m good to go. I can dig a “seat” in the sand, cover it with my sheet, and I’m comfy. Then when I’m ready to go- sand whips off a sheet much easier than a towel or blanket. No more gallons of sand going in the washer!"

Thanks, Liz!

Here are a few more beachy and vacationing tips...
  • Apply sunblock before you get on the sand - then it won't stick as much, and you won't have to keep your kids from having fun as soon as you arrive. And don't forget the lip balm with SPF!
  • I'm going to re-emphasize the importance of resealable bags:
    • to keep stuff protected - phones, money, sunscreen, a book, snacks
    • but also, to bring back souvenirs - shells, driftwood, even sand and critters!
  • A golf umbrella is a saving respite if you've had too much sun - I need shade! And it's usually several degrees cooler, a good place to put phones and drinks.
  • Freeze bottled waters the night before - when you're at the beach all day, they melt slower and stay cold longer.
  • Don't forget your sunglasses:
    • easily lost and broken, I suggest having a cheap, fun pair just for the beach
    • but if you wear prescription specs like me, you're blind for the day with regular shades or get a headache with perma-squint. (I've tried the specs that shade in the sun - not a fan; they always looked dim, even inside!) So, I found these clip-on shades for my glasses. They're not too expensive, and they come in lots of sizes/styles (thank you, Walmart). I love them!

  • Back at the "house" we love playing games, so we always bring some with us. And we even come up with a few of our own (look for an upcoming GAMES post!)
  • Lastly, check out this video I found on Facebook with a bunch of easy, demonstrated beach tips. I especially love the Flip Flop Fix (with a pop can tab!) and the Frozen Aloe Sunburn Relief!

So, get out there and enjoy the blistering summer! Do you have any summer vacay or beach tips to share?

Monday, July 16, 2018

Lower the Carbs in Mashed Potatoes

To use in mashed potatoes, I peeled the thicker skinned squash, but the smaller,
thinner skinned ones, I simply removed the seeds and cut into cubes. 

My little garden must be the perfect soil for squash because we are being overrun with the veggie.* The basket of squash above was one afternoon's bounty. There is that much more every day.

I've added it to soups and fried it, but still there is more and more coming.

Soo, when I peeled potatoes the other night for mashed potatoes for dinner, I chopped up a couple of squash (removing the seeds!) and threw them in the pot. I cooked them together in salted water until both were tender, then drained and mashed them.

Since the squash must have a higher moisture content, I didn't add any milk. I did add my regular amount of butter for flavor.

No complaint potatoes with less carbs!
Boom. Skinnier mashed potatoes. They tasted great. My picky potato connoisseurs couldn't tell the difference. There was also the added bonus of the yellow veggie giving the potatoes a very buttery look thus fooling my husband into thinking I added extra butter, which stopped him from adding his usual extra dollop of butter. Another win!

*I know that squash is botanically a fruit, but my philosophy that if it it isn't in a fruit salad and tastes best with butter, it's a veggie!

Monday, July 9, 2018

Smoothies and snacks!

You know if I’m talking about food, it’s got to be easy to make.

As I’m counting my calories, I have to make easy to grab-and-go snacks. For me, fruits and veg are free. This encourages me to eat better too.

So here’s my process:
  1. Buy a bunch of produce that’s good raw: berries, kiwi, grapes, cherries, oranges, apples, melons, bananas, celery, mini peppers, broccoli, carrots, etc
  2. Each day, I pick one or two and cut them up then put them in snack-size baggies. Don’t cut it all at once! They will go bad faster. And I suggest doing rasp-/black-berries first, since they go bad quickest.
  3. These snack size sacks also encourage my boys to eat more fruits and veg! When they open the fridge looking for something to eat and see the ready to eat baggies, they grab-and-go. And they can tell me they had something healthy, since I do nag them about that...
    yes, eating while I write!
  4. Now these snack sacks aren’t just for plain snacking. You can eat them so many ways!
    • with dips - veg goes with lots of dips or just some light ranch dressing
    • in eggs - those mini peppers are awesome in scrambled eggs esp with some cheese, if you haven’t tried it, you should! salsa works too.
    • with peanut butter - skip the jelly, use berries, apples, or bananas for sandwiches; and my boys love celery with some pb
    • nutella nom noms - I spread this sinful goodness on waffles with any fruit
    • in parfaits - any fruit makes the perfect parfait mixed with yogurt and any topping you like, from granola to crushed cereal to cookie crumbs
    • with whip cream - whip cream is one of the best things on a diet, low cal and no carbs = no guilt!
    • SMOOTHIES - cool off this summer with a fresh fruit smoothie. Take a few of the fruit baggies - and cut up bananas, especially just before they go bad - and toss them in the freezer. When they’re ready, here’s my recipe for awesome, low-cal smoothies:

Sweet Summer Smoothies:
  • 2-3 baggies of frozen fruit
  • 1 cup lite yogurt
  • 1 cup low-fat milk
  • 1 cup lite juice
You can use some ice if you can't wait for fruit to freeze and use fresh. (a little tasty tongue twister!)

Smooth it up!

Happy Healthy Eating!

PS - even with all the travel days, I'm down 5 pounds. Hope this trend continues cause the travel ain't over!

Monday, July 2, 2018

Weight for It...

A couple of months ago, I mentioned I wanted to lose weight. I wanted to "obsess smarter" and make healthy changes that would lead to lasting results. Tara was like-minded, so we decided we'd make our goals public and band together to get smart about out weight and our health. Tara checked in last week with her update and some great tips, now it's my turn! 

Since we started, I've lost 6 pounds. That's not exactly an impressive amount of weight to lose in two months, but as a friend said, it's 6 pounds down, not up. So that's a good thing!

After that post, I got wonderful feedback from you guys. Some great ideas I wanted to share.

Sandy suggested buying ready-made rotisserie baked chickens from the grocery store deli for quick snack and meal fixes. My son loved this idea. Ever since I told him, he's been bringing home chickens for himself. Tasty, win.

One of my favorite snacks to make with the chicken comes from my sister who told me to use a lettuce leaf as a wrap. Fill the inside with chicken and a bit of low-fat cheese, roll, and eat.
Another quick and tasty recipe, also from Sandy, is chocolate oatmeal. When boiling the cook and serve oats, add a little cocoa powder. This is actually tasty, even without adding sugar, but a bit added wouldn't hurt...unless you want to lose more than a few pounds a month. LOL

Fellow blogger, Jo Wake, was kind enough to share a healthy recipe with us. Jo  posts tasty recipes and life anecdotes on her blog, which you can read here.

Chicken and Broccoli Rice Bowl
Do not cook broccoli too soon, difficult to reheat
3 cups small broccoli florets
1 (8.8-ounce) pouch precooked brown rice (such as Uncle Ben's) I cooked 1/2 cup basmati up for both of us
1 Tbs olive oil
8 oz skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 cup chopped green onions
3 oz light processed cheese (such as Velveeta Light), cut into 1-inch pieces, I used a regular cheese which was spicy.
2 Tbs sliced almonds, toasted
1. Steam broccoli 5 minutes or until crisp-tender.
2. Heat rice according to directions.
3. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook for 4 minutes or until done, stirring occasionally. Add onions and cheese, stirring until cheese begins to melt. Stir in rice; fold in broccoli. Cook 1 minute or until thoroughly heated. Sprinkle with almonds.
Servings: 3
Nutrition Facts
Serving size: 1/3 of a recipe (1 ounces).
Percent daily values based on the Reference Daily Intake (RDI) for a 2000 calorie diet.
Nutrition information calculated from recipe ingredients. 4 of the recipe's ingredients were not linked. These ingredients are not included in the recipe nutrition data.
Amount Per Serving
Calories 79.89
Calories From Fat (82%) 65.5
% Daily Value
Total Fat 7.58g 12%
Saturated Fat 0.85g 4%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 159.6mg 7%
Potassium 91.14mg 3%
Total Carbohydrates 2.45g <1%
Fiber 1.16g 5%
Sugar 0.67g
Protein 1.59g 3%
Source: Cooking Light

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