Category Archives: Food

Thanksgiving Yumminess

Don’t you just love Thanksgiving? It’s like Christmas without all the commercialism and stress. It seems like every year we are either traveling or invited to a friends house since we don’t have any family around. Last year our friend’s parents invited us over and the year before that we chowed down at the amazing buffet at Wynn in Las Vegas and the year before that we ate at Denny’s on the way to NYC. Yuck. This year we are going over to another friends’ home and we were asked to bring a vegetable dish. I’ve narrowed it down to two options:

Cauliflower Gratin

OR…

Spiced Butternut Squash

I figure just because it’s a vegetable doesn’t mean it has to be healthy. It is Thanksgiving after all! If there was ever a day to cheat that would be it. Even though we’re spending Thanksgiving at a friend’s house we decided to cook a meal ourselves, too. I bought a cute little ten pound turkey and I plan to cook it up after our Black Friday adventures for Thanksgiving round two. I mostly just want the leftovers since it’s been so many years since I’ve opened a fridge to find stacks of Thanksgiving leftovers. I really can’t remember the last time I had day old turkey, stuffing and mashed potatoes hiding under a pool of gravy. My mouth is watering just thinking about it!

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Filed under Family, Food, Friends, Holidays, life

The Seven Day Challenge: Drink Lots of Water

I have a confession to make. Even though I’m passionate about bringing clean drinking water to the eight billion people in the world who don’t have it, I have a hard time choking down the stuff. Sure a tall glass of ice water is great on a hot day or during a workout, but when I’m just sitting at my computer a glass of water does not sound appealing. When I do drink water it’s usually because I’ve flavored it with kiwi strawberry fitness powder or because I’m too cheap to pay for a drink at a restaurant.

Yesterday I got a really bad headache and I started to wonder if it’s because I’m dehydrated. So I decided to put myself to a seven-day test. I’d do what people have been telling me to do for years– drink eight 8 ounce glasses of water a day. Here goes nothing.

Day 1: My head was still pounding so I thought a workout might help get my blood flowing. I easily downed the first eight ounces while on the elliptical. I filled up my water bottle again and tried to drink it as I got ready for the day. I made it through about half the bottle. I made myself some breakfast and purposely chose wheat toast so I’d be able to drink more. I made herbal tea which I’m permitting myself to substitute for plain old water. I chugged another eight ounces with my toast. Now I’m feeling really full. As the day went on I drank another glass of tea, and carted my water bottle with me to Spartanburg for a writing assignment so I could finish two more bottles. I had a nice dinner at La Bastide, chugging water the whole time which I’m pretty sure also saved me boat loads of money.

Day 2: Started the day with a ten mile run so drinking the first two bottles was easy. I’ve slowed down since then. I came across an ironic freebie deal. When you buy Dr. Murad’s new book The Water Secret you can score $200 worth of free Murad products. I used Amazon gift cards I earned through Swagbucks to buy the book for free. Judging by the book blurb it sounds like Dr. Murad doesn’t think drinking eight glasses of water a day is as effective as getting water from fresh fruits and veggies. I think I’ll have a salad for lunch, but I’m not sure how much water that equals so I’ll keep drinking. Finished the day with an organic tea. I think I fell one glass short.

Day 3: Woke up thirsty for some odd reason. Downed one glass right away. Drank another late-morning and logged a third with a mug of hot tea. Got my fourth in around lunch but now it’s dinner time and I realized I’m only half way through my challenge for the day. Ugh. Better get chugging.

Day 4: Started the day downing two glasses before breakfast. Working my way through another glass and a half before lunch. I’m definitely noticing a decrease in the amount of food I’m eating. I just can’t fit it all in so I guess that’s a good thing.

Day 5&6: I think I did pretty well over the weekend. The hubs and I ran a 20-miler on Saturday morning so I drank almost a full days worth of liquid during the three-and-a-half mile run. I also chugged lots of water and tea throughout the weekend. I did have a little soda, but I figured as long as I was consuming enough water that would be OK.

Day 7: The last day has arrived. I started off with a big glass of ice water which has become the norm for me lately. I also treated myself to a pumpkin spice latte to celebrate a fun announcement. I finished the day out with more tea, water and milk which I’m not sure is a substitute for water.

The week started off a little rough, but the more water I drank the easier it became. I think I notice a slight change in my skin. It looks a little more fresh, but I also did have a facial last week and I am trying some new skin products so that could be part of it. I’d say I have felt fuller while eating less which is always a good thing. Even though my seven day challenge is over, I’ll definitely continue to drink more water. And not just because I’m too cheap to pay for another beverage option.

Photo courtesy of gfrphoto

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A Di’Giorno Pizza Party… Yummy and Free!

A few weeks ago I signed up for an account at HouseParty.com. I applied to host a Di’Giorno Pizza Party and I was selected! They sent me lots of great freebies and coupons to give to my party guests, plus six coupons for free pizza!

It was so fun to go to the grocery store and walk out with $48 worth of food without paying anything! About 20 people ended up coming to the bash.

They all got to try Di’Giorno’s new Pizza and Breadsticks combo packs and everyone seemed to enjoy the free food! I’ll gladly host more parties if it means I don’t have to cook!

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Sharing the Knowledge: My First Coupon Class

Last night I held my first coupon class at my church, LifePoint. About 20 people turned out to learn how to save more and give more than they’ve ever done before. My main goal was to encourage and inspire people to turn something as seemingly routine as grocery shopping into a task that can bless others and serve God. I’ve been thinking about teaching a class for a while now. But it wasn’t until my church recently brought in two big bins for us to fill up with food to give Miracle Hill Ministries that I realized that now would be a great time to teach others about couponing. Our local food banks are dangerously low so my desire would be that even in this tough economic time people would use couponing as a way to continue to give– and give big!

To explain the concept of finding “moneymakers” I showed them how last week I made more than $80 by “buying” four diabetes monitors from Walgreens. That got a big round of applause which just thrilled me. 🙂 That must be how Taylor Swift feels after performing in front of a packed auditorium.

I heard from three women who told me they had been praying for God to put someone in their path that could teach them about couponing and they said that person was me! It gave me goosebumps to hear how God’s plan was working out. One lady told me that she wanted to learn how to use coupons so she could give food to a friend that was struggling to make ends meet. I had brought in a bunch of food I bought this week to illustrate what $1 can buy so I ended up just giving her all of that food to get her started. I was going to donate it anyway so this worked out perfectly! I feel really good knowing that maybe I inspired some others to think about how they can use couponing to give more.

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The Michael Jackson Butter Sculpture Debate: Should MJ be Memorialized in Butter?

Should the King of Pop Become a Butter Sculpture?

Should the King of Pop Become a Butter Sculpture?

Forget the issue of where the King of Pop should be laid to rest– we’ve got more important things to debate! My home state of Iowa has a bit of controversy churning. Following Michael Jackson’s death organizers of the Iowa State Fair decided to add Michael Jackson to their list of butter sculptures that would be created by artists during this year’s fair. The announcement garnered hundreds of comments– both positive and negative. That lead fair organizers to do one thing– take the vote to the public. Starting July 9 you can vote whether you think Michael Jackson should be memorialized in butter. The online poll will be available at IowaStateFair.org until 3pm on July 16. The final results will be announced on July 17. Don’t let this issue melt away without letting your voice be heard!

UPDATE:  After a week of voting, the results of the Iowa State Fair online poll are in. With a margin of 65.24% “no” to 34.76% “yes,” people have voted down the Michael Jackson butter sculpture planned for the 2009 Iowa State Fair. More than 10,000 people voted in the unscientific online poll.

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Backyard Summer Baby Shower

My lovely neighbors are having their first baby and this weekend I had the honor of throwing them a baby shower. Honestly though, I couldn’t have pulled it off without my awesome husband. He helped me make the favors, get the yard ready and dry off all the tables and chairs after it poured just before guests were set to arrive.

This spring we totally landscaped our yard, front and back. We layed sod, put down a path and filled in flower beds. Since we’d gone to all that work we thought the backyard would be the best place to hold this baby bash. Here are some of the highlights.

The Invitations

The Invitations

I found the perfect invites on a really cute website. But they were pricey. So my friend David designed these, which I think are even cuter than the expensive ones. He did it for free and I got them printed locally. Total cost was less than $15.

The Favors

The Favors

These are the favors. I took seed packets from Walgreens and dolled them up using wax paper envelopes, wrapping paper and ribbon. Sadly I forgot to hand them out.

The Backyard Set-up

The Backyard Set-up

Some of the brown table cloths were used in our wedding. The mom-to-be is using chocolate brown in the nursery so it worked out perfectly. The rest of the baby shower color palletet was light blue and goldenrod yellow.

Baby Shower Tables

Baby Shower Tables

Each table was decorated with two jewelry trees. I found the idea on this blog and thought it was super cute. But instead of using them to hold necklaces I used them as centerpieces. The goldenrod yellow table runners are made from wrapping paper. I wanted to use fabric, but couldn’t ever find what I was looking for.

Baby Shower Flowers

Baby Shower Flowers

Those vintage polka dot glasses came from my kitchen cupboard. They worked perfectly to hold the little bouquets of white and yellow flowers that I picked up at Costco.The wrapping paper with the blue print was used for the head table.

Baby Shower Game, Help Name the Baby

Baby Shower Game, Help Name the Baby

Using a ten-pack of bibs I picked up at Target for $2.50, I decorated a corner of the yard and made a game at the same time. The bibs say the words “Girl or boy?” Guests were asked to fill out a ballot guessing whether Jenna was having a girl or a boy and to help her name the baby. Jenna picked a winning boy name and a winning girl name and each person got a prize.

The Baby Food Challenge

The Baby Food Challenge

We also played the Baby Food Challenge. Have you tasted baby food? Yuck! The winner got a nice prize, though.

Baby Shower Scrapbook

Baby Shower Scrapbook

I also made a mini-baby shower scrapbook for Jenna. Inside I put one of the invites and a few other momentos from the party. We also listed her gifts in this book so she can reference it when writing thank you notes.

Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes

Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes

The food was kept simple. I made (with my husband’s help) slider-sized burgers, potato salad, pasta salad, fruit skewers and bunch of desserts. A couple of other sweet ladies brought some food as well.

A Baby Shower By Candlelight

A Baby Shower By Candlelight

After the sun went down we lit a bunch of candles and enjoyed the white lights my husband had put up around the base of several tree trunks. I think it turned out to be a relaxing and fun backyard summer baby shower.

Jenna Picking Her Favorite Names by Candlelight

Jenna Picking Her Favorite Names by Candlelight

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New York City Girl At Heart

Even though I grew up in Iowa and my first real job was detasseling corn, I think I was destined for the big city. I love everything about it, except maybe when someone hits in the head with their cello on the subway which happened to me twice. We rented this super cute apartment in the Upper West Side, three blocks from Central Park and one block from these little yummies at Magnolia Bakery.

I tried their muffins, cupcakes, cheesecake and bars. Yum, yum, yum and yum!

I tried their muffins, cupcakes, cheesecake and bars. Yum, yum, yum and yum!

There were so many fun moments. Laughing our butts off at Robin Wiliams during our Letterman taping, tap dancing down Central Park West on the eve of my 30th, eating desserts that look like sculptures and running all the way from the Upper West Side to the Brooklyn Bridge. A cab driver told us that was 15 miles which is amazing since we did it in less than an hour. We thought it was more like five miles.

This Gorgeous Bride was Dancing on the Brooklyn Bridge When We Got There

This Gorgeous Bride was Dancing on the Brooklyn Bridge When We Got There

My actual 30th birthday was spent partly on a rowboat in Central Park, partly at a fancy restaurant on Park Avenue, partly on a water taxi in the Harlem River, partly in a circus tent and completely in love.

Looks like I got a hair cut in this shot but I didn't

Looks like I got a hair cut in this shot but I didn't

I admit I even cried a little when we had to leave. There’s just something about the big city that has my heart. But as for my 30th birthday? It rocked.

How Many Other 30-year-olds Have This Picture?

How Many Other 30-year-olds Have This Picture?

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