Thursday, January 31, 2013

Saw, Pinned, Did....Link Up

SPD: Coffee Ice Cubes

 I LOVE Iced Coffee, but in an effort to spend less, I quit Dunkin Donuts....not Cold Turkey...but now it's just a treat....Once a month, twice at the most.

So I use my keurig in the afternoon, then I add instant espresso powder (JOLT!), Vanilla Stevia and Half and Half, but it always gets watered down....

Voila....watered down iced coffee no more!!
See the original pin here.

Here's My Version

I use the leftover coffee from the pot in the a.m!

I also use them to make Frappucino-ish treats in the summer!  I just stick them in the blender with Almond Milk and Stevia Yum!

Foodie Pen Pal Reveal

Foodie Pen Pal Reveal

This month my foodie pen pal was from Guam!  So interesting and exciting to open up my box and find tons of goodies I had never seen before!

First I should mention that my photo is a slight fail for a few reasons
(A) I was famished the day I opened my box and my camera was in the car so I immediately ate a few of the items (note the open hello panda box and the missing package of Wasabi Roasted Seaweed)
(2) One of my children (whom I love so dearly... all day..... everyday) STOLE AN ITEM FROM THE BOX BEFORE IT COULD BE PHOTOGRAPHED.

Thankfully I remembered the missing item and found a pic online...
I'm sure this treat of cookie sticks with chocolate and strawberry dipping sauce was yummy...You're Welcome kids.....

My favorite items are definitely the Roasted Seaweed in two flavors Wasabi (which I love) and Kimchi which I was intrigued to try.

The Hello Panda Choco Cream filled cookies were the perfect companion to my coffee! (I confess I often have sweet treats for breakfast after the kiddos and hubs have left for they day)

I ate the Crab Biscuits with my leftover Beef Stew for lunch yesterday...YUM.

I let my girls share the GIANT Lollipop as a Pre-valentine's sugar rush. 

The Calamansi Tropical Lemon Drink was DELISH but a little sweet for my taste straight from the bottle so I added it to plain old seltzer water and so refreshing! ...the perfect spritzer!

Great Box this month!

To see other foodie pen pal reveals visit here.

Thanks to

The Lean Green Bean
And now it's time for some details about Foodie Penpals. 
-On the 5th of every month, you will receive your penpal pairing via email. It will be your responsibility to contact your penpal and get their mailing address and any other information you might need like allergies or dietary restrictions.
-You will have until the 15th of the month to put your box of goodies in the mail. On the last day of the month, you will post about the goodies you received from your penpal! 
-The boxes are to be filled with fun foodie things, local food items or even homemade treats! The spending limit is $15. The box must also include something written. This can be anything from a note explaining what’s in the box, to a fun recipe…use your imagination!
-You are responsible for figuring out the best way to ship your items depending on their size and how fragile they are. (Don’t forget about flat rate boxes!)
-Foodie Penpals is open to blog readers as well as bloggers. If you’re a reader and you get paired with a blogger, you are to write a short guest post for your penpal to post on their blog about what you received. If two readers are paired together, neither needs to worry about writing a post for that month. 
-Foodie Penplas is open to US, Canadian & European residents.  Please note, Canadian Residents will be paired with other Canadians only. Same with Europeans. We've determined things might get too slow and backed up if we're trying to send foods through customs across the border from US to Canada and vice versa. 
If you’re from the US or Canada and are in participating for November, please CLICK HERE ( to fill out the participation form and read the terms and conditions. 
You must submit your information by February 4th as pairings will be emailed on February 5th!

*If you're from Europe, please CLICK HERE ( to signup. 





Wednesday, January 30, 2013

What I'm Reading..and Digital Library Awesomeness!

My first installment of What I'm Reading is a little eclectic...

First you should know that I am often reading multiple things at once, a book by the bed, a book in my purse, a book somewhere downstairs and a twelve books on my kindle... an effort not to spend all the grocery money on my Kindle, buying books,  I have been diligently placing books on hold at the Library, which often results in me being a little behind everyone else's current reads....

AND  Just yesterday I received my first Digital Library Lend through CW Mars...this could revolutionize my world...and put a damper on my effort to keep up with the laundry and keep the house clean. 

Which reminds me of an newspaper article my parents had hanging on the fridge for years
Titled "Cluttered Homes Breed Readers"  I'll take that as my excuse...

and proudly tell the world..."My house is cluttered so my kids will be brilliant and well read"   A girl can dream can't she!

A Book by the Bed 

 Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows
I know what you're thinking....but here's my reason for not reading book 7 (or seeing either of the movies...


Really...I know.....So New Years Resolution #3,456 Finish the 7th Harry Potter book and watch the movies, just as every other respectable Harry Potter Obsessed Gal would.

A Book in my Purse

Eleven on Top by Janet Evanovich  (Stephanie Plum series)  These are great! My mother got me hooked last year after buying me the box set of 1,2 and 3  and last year when I had foot surgery and was laid up I went on a six book, two day run.....Love Stephanie Plum!

 A Book Somewhere Downstairs

Death Comes to Pemberley by P.D James  This gem was lent to me by my Uncle Mat, a freshman/sophomore English teacher.  Who upon hearing that I was a Jane Austen aficionado quickly went to find his copy for me.  It features Elizabeth, Darcy and disgraced sister Lydia following Lydia's husband Wickham's murder.  Cannot wait to delve into this one....

Books on My Kindle

The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith.  This was a recommendation on GoodReads and also my first  Library Digital Download from CW my Kindle.  I downloaded it last night and cannot wait to get started.

If you've never tried to use the CW Mars Digital Catalogue I would highly recommend it!  The CW Mars website in general can run a little slow and have broken links, but that being said....
Finding books was easy, you can place 5 on hold at a time and it will notify you via email when your book is ready for download.

I simply clicked on the link in my email while on my Kindle and it directed me through the few easy steps to my amazon account where I downloaded the book!

I now have the book for two weeks at which time it will be returned (not sure exactly how this will work but stay tuned.....)

A Book I just finished

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, which was all the rage in the summer Book Clubs.  I had it on hold at the library and finally picked it up two weeks ago.  I sat down and read the whole thing in one evening

Thankfully I had bronchitis so no one even noticed I was shirking my motherly duties!
(NERD GIRL PROBLEM: being thankful you are laid up sick because it means you can sit and read uninterrupted)
It was INTENSE.  I now have two more of her books on hold and can't wait to get them!

What book(s) are you currently reading?



Jesslyn's Cowl


Jesslyn's Cowl



(This is one of those time where I actually FOLLOWED THE PATTERN)
This was my first cowl.
I found this pattern on Ravelry here Burberry Inspired Cowl
If you Knit/Crochet and you have never been to Ravelry watch out!  It can be addicting.  Lots of patterns and a great way to keep track of your projects, stash etc.....
I love this easy pattern...It uses cables to add to the scrunchy effect.
I used Lion Brand Homespun Yarn in Rococo.  I love the supersoft feel of this yarn right against your neck and face and this color is very versatile.
This pattern works up fairly quickly.

What are some of your favorite yarns?



Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Red Wine Marinated Beef Stew


There's nothing better on a snowy New England day than coming in from the cold and having the aroma of this hearty beef stew hit you as you walk through the door!



1 c. Red Wine (I use whatever's on hand...this time I used a Shiraz)
2 lbs. Beef Stew Meat cut into 1/2 inch chunks
2-3 cloves of garlic crushed
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary (strip leaves from stem and roughly chop)
1/2 c. flour
3 T of olive oil (more if necessary)
1 medium yellow onion finely chopped*
2 stalks of celery finely chopped*
2-3 medium russet potatoes cubed
2 large carrots cubed
4 cups beef broth
2 bay leaves
Salt and Pepper

Combine Stew Meat, Red Wine, Garlic, and Rosemary cover and marinate in the fridge for 1 hour or overnight.
Heat olive oil in a pan on medium high heat.

Remove stew meat from marinade with a slotted spoon, try to drain off as much marinade as possible. Season meat with a generous pinch of salt and pepper.  Reserve marinade.

In batches, dredge meat in flour completely coating and carefully drop into hot oil, browning meat on all sides. Add more oil to the pan when necessary between batches.
Place meat in bottom of slow cooker turned on low.
Add celery and onions to pan with a pinch of salt and pepper and sauté until translucent.
*I personally love big chunks of celery in my soups but my picky family feels otherwise so many of my recipes contain finely chopped onions and celery.

Add marinade to celery and onion mixture and deglaze the pan.  Bring this mixture to a simmer and allow it to cook for a few minutes (this will cook off the alcohol.)
Pour mixture into the slow cooker. 
Add carrots, potatoes, bay leaves, Old Bay Seasoning and beef broth and stir.
Cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4.




What's your favorite Crock Pot Soup Recipe?


Monday, January 28, 2013

Meal Plan Monday



Meal Plan Monday  1/28 thru 2/3

Until I have more of my own recipes posted I will include some links to my favorite recipes!
Monday:  Crock Pot Beef Stew, Biscuits (Martha Stewart Beef Stew)
Tuesday: Baked Mac 'N' Cheese, Steamed Broccoli (Bobby Flay's Mac N Cheese Carbonara)
Wednesday: Teriyaki Chicken, Honey Dill Carrots, Rice
Thursday: Breakfast for Dinner
Friday: Crock Pot-Pot Roast, baked potatoes, corn (Momma Neely's Pot Roast)
Saturday: Spaghetti, Garlic Bread, Salad
Sunday: Leftovers

A few tips for Meal Planning.... 

For years I was that mom that would just kind of "wing it"  far as dinner went...resulting in a lot of last minute meals thrown together or pizza ordered at the last minute.
I would throw out tons of expired food from the fridge or mystery meat from the freezer (you know those Ziploc baggies of frozen longer identifiable, that you never labeled.  The container of cottage cheese two months past due, never opened,  that you swore you were going to eat to be healthier.)
In the last year I have embraced the "meal plan" idea and it has made my life so much easier.
The fridge tells me every morning what I must get ready for dinner.
I haven't got the whole system down completely yet but I am definitely much better off than I was this time last year.
My meal planning tools:
I bought this gem at Staples  Martha Stewart Weekly Dry Erase Planner
(pictured above)
I LOVE this planner from ThirtyOne Fold and Go Organizer
It holds my coupon organizer from day runner, pad for my list and a pocket for the coupons I am using for my next trip!

Monday mornings after all the kiddos have left....
~I search through the fridge, freezer and pantry to find out what needs to be used for the week.
~I quickly peruse the calendar and figure out which days will be crock pot or casserole days and which days I will actually have time to cook.
~I print out new coupons from and grab the Sunday paper coupons.
~ Then I sit with my flyer and coupons and come up my grocery list.
(I shop on Tuesdays or Wednesdays simply because that is my "weekend")
  *I am not a crazy couponer and I tend to not be brand loyal....I only clip coupons for items that we eat/use.  I try to combine coupons and sales.  I only go to one grocery store.  I usually save anywhere from $50 to $80 (I am spending anywhere from $100 to $200) a week depending on the sales and what we need.
~After I have my list compiled I get together a basic Meal Plan for the week. 
Sometimes I change a few things here and there (sides or veg, or I swap days if I have run out of time to make something)  After I shop I will often add on specifics like a bread side or sauce that I was unsure of.
My biggest ally when it comes to meal planning is PREP,  I try to carve out a few hours after my shopping trip to prep my ingredients which is essential for not only making dinner easier but lunch packing and snack time as well .
I divide up all bulk meats into freezer Ziploc bags, add marinades, double bag, label and freeze.
I divide up all fruits, some vegetables, hummus, cottage cheese, dips etc.... and dry snacks into snack baggies or small Tupperware for lunches.
WARNING: Failure to follow through with your plan will result in "looks", sighs and whines from the kiddos and hubby when they thought they were getting Shepherd's Pie and sit down to Hot Dogs and Man N Cheese. 
 Hey at least they are eating!

What are some of your Meal Planning Strategies?






Friday, January 25, 2013

5 Friday Faves...Beauty Winter Edition

 Essentials for Winter Hydration Edition

I have super dry skin and I am prone to eczema.  I try to stay on top of it too keep everything hydrated, I don't always succeed being the busy mom that I am.  But these are some of the products I use time and time again during the cold  winter months to keep everything hydrated.
The unsung hero of the group of course being good old H20...When I don't hydrate on the inside, it shows on the outside!

#1 Hand/Nails

This is a creamy, thicker formula.  I wouldn't recommend it for right before you have to open a jar or a door but after the shower or before bed I slather this all over my hands and feet and it helps keep them soft and supple.
I got mine at my local drugstore. 


My home remedy for dry hair is a mixture of coconut oil and shea butter melted together. 
(there's no real science to this one, I took a big clump of each and threw them in Tupperware and let them melt by the heat of my shower)
I try to slather this mixture on my hair at least 2 X a week (and would most likely do it more often if I had time)  I put it on about 20 min before I shower.  I really work it through my hair, making sure I massage it into my scalp and then clip my hair on top of my head in a bun.
Once I get in the shower I try to keep my head out from under the water and let the heat of the shower open up my hair cuticles and really let the mixture seep in.   Then I shampoo and condition as normal.  I find I don't have to use any anti frizz products
 on the days I do this. 
I purchased the shea butter on Amazon, and I get the coconut oil at my local grocery store.

#3 Skin-Body

I have been faithful (mostly) to this lotion for about 15 years.  Every time I stray I am disappointed...and flaky.
I find with my sensitive skin I have no reactions to this formula and it just leaves my skin so soft.  I  slather my whole body (minus my face) completely with this immediately beyond exiting the shower, cover up in a robe and let it really soak in.

#4 Skin-Face


This one is tough.  I have gone back and forth between a few different products over the years but recently I have settled on this Burt's Bees Intense Hydration.
You don't need to use much.  Just a tiny pump and your whole face is covered.  I also use under my chin and neck.  I've been using this for about 2 months and it seems to be working great.
I got mine directly from the Burt's Bees website because I had an awesome coupon code from Martha Stewart before Christmas.  
 But you can find it in drug stores

#5 Lips

Burt's Bees...I don't discriminate with these gems
Rejuvenating with Acai Berry
Refreshing with Grapefruit
Replenishing with Pomegranate
Island with Passionfruit
Nourishing with Mango
I'm not wild about the Honey but that is just a personal issue I have with the smell.
I have them next to my bed, in my purse, in my car and often in the pockets of my winter coats.
I get these wherever I can, everytime they are on sale (heck even when they're not on sale.)
  Or online at Burt's Bees where they
 often run specials.

What essentials do you use to keep the harsh effects of Winter at Bay?



Thursday, January 24, 2013

Almost Instantaneous Gratification


Brandy's Seed Stitch Cowl

Big Needles...Chunky Yarn, terms knitting aficionado's everywhere often consider a crime. Countless knitters have scoffed openly when I admit that I often work up these quick projects on size 13 or larger needles and one of my all time favorite yarns Lion Brand Wool Ease Thick and Quick.
As many a knitter will know the weeks leading up to Christmas are fraught with last minute project ideas, frantic late nights, hand cramps and hours of weaving in ends* as one tries desperately to finish all those hand made gifts.  I think I can...I think I can.... 

*(my least favorite thing is weaving in ends..I am not good at it and I cannot stand it..this year I cheated delegated and commissioned my mother, a knitting guru, to help with this daunting task)

  This quick and easy cowl was the perfect post Christmas, easy, mindless and in my case a great way to stick to 2 of  my New Years Resolutions
 #845 I shall not buy new yarn until I have made a serious dent in my current stash.
#1244 I shall try to make something for everyone near and dear to me.

It is however a fail for # 432  I shall finish all current projects I have begun before starting a new one..(hey, I'm human)
My gorgeous friend Brandy modeling her new cowl!
As most of my projects, this one was adapted from the following pattern:
Brandy's Seed Stitch Cowl
Skill Level: Easy
Size: One Size
Gauge:  Ha Ha...yet another one of my Knitting Crimes....I can feel you cringing.
One (1) Ball Wool Ease Thick and Quick in Grey Marble (A)
One (1) Ball Bernat Boucle in Grey Shades (B)
Size 13 (9mm) 16 in. circular needle
Large eye blunt needle
Pattern is worked in the round with two strands of yarn held together throughout.
Holding a strand of both A and B cast on 55 stitches.
Join stitches in the round, being careful not to twist stitches.
Work in a K1, P1 pattern around, the odd number of stitches ensures that you're patter will remain throughout.
Keep up the pattern until your cowl has reach a desired length.  Mine was 9 1/2" opening to opening.
Cast off and weave in ends.
This cowl is extremely thick and warm!!
I'm new to the blogosphere so feel free to comment with questions or suggestions!