Tuesday, October 29, 2013

How to be nice during Halloween

Awhile back I may have mentioned to you that I had to create a list by week for projects I wanted to complete this fall season. This past week I found myself making one that I wasn't planning on making. However, I love it! I have started to get more excited about Halloween, not only because it is the kick off to my favorite two months of the year, but because it seems that everyone else is getting excited about it too. Unfortunately for me, I believe there is an age and time limit. Last year around 8:30 we had a knock on our door and saw that it was a group of teenagers coming around for candy. Number 1, it's 8:30 on a week night, I'm preparing for the next day, thus, among other reasons, why parents bring their kids around early. Number 2, if you can drive a car, you're to old to be trick or treating. I know some people believe that is too old but that is pretty much my age limit. So, at 8 o'clock this year, I'll be putting up my handy dandy little sign.

What you'll need:

Wood Plaque (can be found at crafts stores)
sand paper (optional)
craft paint
paint brush
hot glue gun
2 eye hooks
letter stickers
decorations (optional)

How to make it:

1. Usually wood plaques are sanded down nicely and don't need any extra sanding. Take a look at your edges and see if yours needs any extra sanding for smoothness.

2. Paint your plaque. If you're using a color combo like mine, it's important to paint your outer edges first and top with the black after.

3. Add your eye hooks. I used small ones that I was able to screw in by hand.
4. If you don't have a fancy machine or great hand writing to make those perfect letters, letter stickers are a great option. Cut out your stickers and make sure they fit the way you want on your plaque. Place letters on your plaque.
5. I decided mine needed a little something after sorry so using a fine tip brush and a little orange paint I added three dots.
6. Run your ribbon through your eye hook.


 7. So that edges don't hang over once the ribbon is glued together, cut ribbon as shown above. Glue together.

8. Add a little extra flare to your sign by adding some scrapbook stickers or a witches hat to the corner.



Sunday, October 27, 2013

Veggie Loaded Mac & Cheese

It's squash season! A couple of years ago I was intimidated by these yummy things. It seemed so daunting to cook them much less figure out what to cook them with. Intimidated no more my squashy friend! I love finding ways to cook healthier versions of our favorite dishes. It's also great when its budget friendly! This week I've been playing with my friend, butternut squash, and we have come up with some fabulous yummy dishes!


Have any of yall seen the Bethenny show, hosted by Bethenny Frankle from the Real House Wives of New York? If you haven’t, she started out as a healthy food chef and has now made part of this a segment on her show. Last week she made a "healthy" mac & cheese. WINNER, one of the hubby's favorite dishes! Check it out here. This, of course, made me start thinking about what can I do to jazz it up just a smidge more and make it into a meal. Here is my version of a healthy mac & cheese…


5 chicken tenders
1/2 cup bell pepper (whatever you have works)
1/2 cup broccoli florets
12 ounces whole wheat mini pasta
1 cup skim milk
1 1/4 cup freshly shredded Parmesan
1 1/2 cup reduced fat sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1 cup butternut squash puree (don't feel like making it? It's in the freezer isle) (see notes)
1 teaspoon salt plus some for seasoning chicken
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon pepper plus some for seasoning chicken
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp chili powder
2 tablespoons whole wheat bread crumbs
Reduced fat Monterey jack cheese, shredded


1.       Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. On a baking pan lined with foil, lay out chicken tenders and salt and pepper on the top. Cook in the oven for about 10 minutes or until cooked.

2.        Boil pasta shells in salted water until slightly firm, according to package directions. Once cooked, drain and blanch broccoli florets in the water. Once they turn a bright green they will be cooked. Remove pan from heat, drain and splash broccoli with cool water. Return both pasta and broccoli to the pan  

3.       In another saucepan, combine the skim milk, Parmesan, cheddar, and butternut squash puree over medium heat until melted and combined. Turn off the heat. Add salt, mustard, pepper, Worcestershire sauce, and chili powder.

4.       Using two forks, shred chicken to desired size.

5.        Add cheese sauce, chicken and bell peppers to the pasta and broccoli. Mix together well.

6.       Spray a shallow baking pan with cooking spray and put the pasta-cheese mixture in it. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs and Monterey jack cheese. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes.

Notes: For a quick and easy butternut squash puree, see my recipe here.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Squishy Squash

You’re probably thinking 'woohoo butternut squash puree…who cares', right? Well my friend, until you discover the rich, creamy, butter-y-ness this baby has to offer, I suggest you don't knock it till you try it! After looking at a couple of recipes on how "chefs" make it and noticing it took an hour to make I realized a) oh yea, you technically have and hour to make it since this is your job and b) what normal person has 1 hour available to make a puree? Not me! Off on my lonesome I went on a journey to find something suitable for the modern everyday women/ man. Here's what I found…


1.       Peel your squash and cut it down the center. Clean out its guts. Depending on the size (I usually get the smallest one I can find) and how much you need, generally half of a squash will be sufficient for puree. Save the rest for a yummy side dish!

2.       Cube your squash into about 1 inch cubes or something that will fit in your blender or food processor.

3.       Place your squash in a blender or food processor and chop/ puree. Using the puree button on my blender very finely shredded by squash (see below).

4.      In a skillet on medium heat, cook your squash with roughly 3/4 cups of water this should take 5- 10 minutes. Cover with a lid and stir occasionally. Use your judgment on how much water the squash needs. Your squash is cooked when it starts getting a mushy texture.
5.     Return Squash to blender/ processor and puree until there are no more chunks. There you have it, butternut squash puree in under 20 minutes!

P.S. This is freezer friendly recipe if you decided to make it in bulk.
P.S.S. Adding a little cinnamon, nutmeg and butter would make this a lovely side dish.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Fitness Friday

Welcome to Fitness Fridays! If you've read my 'about me' page I let you know that I'm an avid outdoor runner. I hate going to the gym where I feel like people are judging me and truly, I don't have time to go to the gym. Fitness research seems to fascinate me as I do my best to lead a healthy life style. My goal for this new addition to my blog is to inspire women and their family to go out and be fit in fun quick ways. Many of my friends are new mommies or getting ready to be a new mommy which leaves them even less time to take care of themselves. I will do my best to keep helpful work out tips to a maximum of 15 minutes total even though the recommended daily amount of exercises is a 30 minutes, but we'll get to that later!

In my own house I have my own room for whatever I want. It's a multi purpose room that I have set up for crafts but mostly excersise. In our apartment I took over a corner in our living room. Over time I have made an investment onto work equipment for my own room. Note the word INVESTMENT! I do not own any machines but instead I have 1 set of 5 lbs dumbells, 1 set of 10lbs dumbells, 1 8lbs kettlebell, a set of resistance bands, a pullup bar, a stability ball, a 5lbs medicine ball and a yoga mat.  I bought all of this over time.

How many of you have one of those stability balls you purchased way back when? When is the last time you actually used your stability ball? A few months ago I purchased my own stability ball . I always loved sitting on my moms whenever I would go over to her house. Unbeknownst me I was actually doing a very lite core exersize when sitting on it. This past week I was feeling like I needed to do a little bit more core work and I really wanted to incorporate my stability ball, so off I went googling and pinterest-ing to see what I could find. I needed something I could do in between comercial breaks of my weekly TV shows and that’s exactly what I found! See the exercises from Pop Sugar contributer Susi May below or click here to go to the Pop Sugar webpage .


Keep reading for more details.

After warming up with light cardio for five minutes, work your way through this series of six exercises. Repeat entire workout two to three times.

1. Plank
Place your hands on the floor and your shins on the ball, coming into a push-up position with your shoulders directly under your hands. Hold for 30 seconds. Increase the difficulty by adding 10 push-ups after your plank. Repeat three times.

2. Knee-Tuck Crunch
Start in a plank position with the tops of your feet on the ball. Pull your knees to your hands, rounding your spine by engaging your abs. Lengthen back to starting position. Do 10 reps.

3. Classic Crunches
Begin sitting on the ball, and walk your feet out until your rib cage is on the ball. Squeeze your glutes to keep your pelvis in line with your shoulders. Interlace your fingers, and place them behind your head for support. Exhale, pulling your abs to your spine and pressing the rib cage into the ball to lift your head. Lower head, and repeat for 20 reps.

4. Inner-Thigh Squeeze
Lie on your side, and place the exercise ball between your feet. Slowly lift the ball up toward the ceiling, working your inner thighs and hips. Do 15 reps.

5. Hamstring Curl
Lie on your back with an exercise ball under your heels. Lift your hips up, and keep them up as you slowly bend your knees, rolling the ball toward you and bringing the soles of your feet onto the top of the ball. Return legs to straightened position. Do 15 reps.

6. Ball Pass
Lie on your back, holding the ball with straight arms lifted toward the ceiling; raise your leg toward the ceiling too. Keep your lower back pressed into the floor as you lower the ball toward your head and your legs toward the floor. Return to starting position, and switch the ball so you're holding it with your feet. Lower your feet to the floor, reaching your arms overhead. Return to starting position. Do 10 reps.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Money Matters Thursday

It's Thursday! Yay! I would like to start a new segment today on ways to save money. Did you realize that Christmas is only 10 weeks away? Seriously?! I've barely had time to take in my Texas fall weather. This time of year I know a lot of people try to cut back so that they can save up to pay for those awesome Christmas/Hanukkah/ whatever reason you're purchasing gifts. I happen to also have 3 little nephews birthdays in the next two months and whatever else decides to show up on my calendar that I've forgotten about…joy.

I think this post collection will also help me think of more creative ways to save a dime and hopefully help you!

Addicted to Coffee

I am blessed with the luxury of working from home 80% of the time. While I have a morning "schedule", it certainly isn't a typical one. The first thing I do when I get up is turn on my Keurig and wish that it would warm up faster. In the mean time I put away dishes that dried overnight and as soon as I hear the Keurig's warm up wind down I head over and get the show rolling.

I could make it as simple as popping a pod in and hitting brew but a little over a month ago I had a small epiphany. While I am fully aware that buying a box of pods at the grocery store is still cheaper than getting a cup of coffee at coffee shop, I can still do better. With 2 coffee drinkers in the house, averaging 1 cup of coffee a day, equals roughly 60 coffee pods a month. That’s  a lot. Yes, I use to use coupons and at the very minimum I would pay $30 month. If I literally spend only $30 a month on coffee that $390 annually. I'm sure some of you at this point think I'm nuts but look, if I can spend half of that on a yearly basis that’s almost $200 back in my pocket. I have dreams of traveling the world!

The first month was pretty much a wash as I went out and bought another reusable filter so I had 2 and some coffee grinds. At the time I didn't realize that places like TJ MAXX and Marshalls had packages of 2 for around $5. I bought 2 for a reason because I have a tendency to leave the pod in the keurig and this way I have one for the next day. It's one extra step but over time I know it will be well worth it! Not to mention it's also "greener" since we aren't throwing these away any more. By the time the holidays roll around I'll have a little extra cash to spend on gifts.

Disclaimer: I am in no way being paid to write or review about Keurig or Keurig products. This post is solely my opinion on products I purchased.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Easy Hearty Sloppy Joe's

In my house, we try to get creative for weeknight dinners to try and keep it interesting. When we know we're making something yummy, we're less inclined to crave easy takeout. Once again, this is a great recipe to hide veggies in for those picky vegetable eaters I know a lot of us have in our home. While Ive tried some finely diced red and green bell pepper and a couple of other veggies, I've been wanting to add in some fresh corn! Now before I make myself any more hungry right before we're ready for dinner, I'm going to get this typed up for you and your families.

Hearty Weeknight Sloppy Joe's
Makes 4 filled sandwiches
1 tbsp Vegetable Oil
1 small Onion, chopped
1 lbs. Ground Beef
1/2 lbs. Ground Turkey (optional)
3 tbsp Tomato Paste
1/2 cup BBQ Sauce
1/4 cup Ketchup
2 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
2 tbsp Soy Sauce
Any Add in Veggies
Salt & Pepper
Sandwich Rolls
1. Heat Oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and cook, stirring till they turn translucent. Add beef and  ground turkey to skillet, stirring and breaking up till crumbled. Once cooked, drain excess liquid.
2. Stir in tomato paste, BBQ sauce, ketchup, Worcestershire, soy sauce, pepper and salt to the skillet and mix well with meat and onion mixture. Let cook until sauce is slightly thickened.
3. Top your sandwich bun with your desired amount meat and top with extra goodies till your heart's content!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

It just needed a facelift....

A few months ago I was over at my mother-in-laws house shuffling through some stuff with her in the garage. She has a lot of stuff and at the time she had more stuff in her garage because my sister-in-law, her husband and 3 babies were living with her while their house was being built. It's always fun going over there to see what's new and what creative project she's currently working on. While we finished up searching for whatever we were searching for in the garage that day she pointed to 2 lamps she had sitting on the golf cart and asked it I wanted them. I knew exactly where they would go but knew they were not going there in the condition they were in, not that they were bad just not my style. Spray paint has become my friend! With a little love and creativity I re-vamped these beauties to work perfectly in my decoration deprived bedroom.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

DIY Halloween Wreath

I use to not really care about Halloween. Honestly, why would I? I'm to old to go trick or treating, don't have any kids and until we moved into our neighborhood I use to roll my eyes at those crazy apartment neighbors who would decorate for the ghoulish occasion. However, last October that all changed and I couldn't wait for the kids to come by our new home and pass out candy. Not surprisingly, I completely over bought and over paid for candy (this year, hello dollar store!), didn't realize that you should turn your outdoor lights on or even better, just stand outside, and definitely didn't have anything fun and friendly to show my "holiday" spirit. This year I'm actually going to add some Halloween decorations to my yearly fall decor and I'm very excited to post my first craft to my blog!

Halloween Wreath  
I will say while it's a decent picture of the wreath, It's so much better in person!
What You'll Need:
Grapevine Twig Wreath
Black Spray Paint
Glitter Spray Paint (optional)
Hot Glue Gun
Spooky Little Trinkets for Your Wreath
Step 1: Find a grapevine twig wreath. I found mine at JoAnn's for regular price $12 (always use a coupon to make it cheaper!)

 Step 2: I laid some old newspaper down to prepare for spray painting. Using a flat black spray paint, paint the wreath from several different angles to make sure its completely covered and let dry.
Step 3: Using Krylon's Glitter Blast Starry Night (JoAnn's), spray a light layer of glitter to give it a fun 3-dimensional look.
Step 4: Once completely dry, first glue on your words and secondly your spiders (hobby lobby). On the off chance that your trinkets have picks on the, as if to put in floral arrangements, use a pair of pliers to gently pull off, or if needed, cut off.
Step 5: Add a hook to display your wreath for all to see!