July 31, 2010

Remember Bruschetta

I fell in love with Bruschetta again!  I haven't had it in about 4 1/2 years, ordered it as an appetizer at the Olive Garden the other night and ahhh...love again!  As I was eating my freshly toasted leftovers, sprinkled with melted cheese, I thought: "How can I make this an even better, more energizing snack?" "Add some protein of course." - I answered myself.  Hmmm...how to do that without losing the feel of a toasty bread snack?

Bruschetta and Hummus:
Spread a light layer of hummus (recipe) on your thinly sliced (already toasted) ciabatta bread, sprinkle with shredded cheese and broil in the oven until cheese is melted.  Top with the (delicious) bruschetta recipe below and "viola!"  A perfect pick-me-up snack, loaded with protein, a little carbs to keep your energy lasting longer and even a little fresh vegetables to balance out your decadent treat.
Ah, perfection.  Of course some of you are thinking I'm sacrilegious and just messed with an item of perfection, and that's okay.  We can all have our bruschetta any way we want...and eat it too!

Bruschetta Recipe: (Olive Garden's own recipe)

4 Roma (plum) tomatoes, diced 2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 garlic clove, cut in half
Black pepper to taste
Salt to taste
10 medium fresh basil leaves, chopped
4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
8 slices crusty Italian bread
Extra virgin olive oil (to drizzle)
  1. COMBINE diced tomatoes and chopped garlic in a mixing bowl. Season with salt & pepper to taste. Add half of chopped basil and 4 Tbsp of extra virgin olive oil.
  2. DRIZZLE both sides of bread slices with extra virgin olive oil. Grill bread lightly on both sides.
  3. RUB grilled bread with cut half of garlic clove to infuse with flavor. Top each slice with hummus and tomato mixture.
  4. GARNISH with remaining chopped basil and serve immediately.

July 29, 2010

Eco-Friendly Finds!

UPDATE.UPDATE: I just received my package of goodies today, August 14th!  So everything was out of stock but they got it to me quickly (except for the sunless tanner, still haven't seen that).
UPDATE: I am sad to say that nearly everything I have ordered from MotherNature.com is out of stock (except the free soaps) and is scheduled to ship on August 12th.  We will see.  So I don't know yet how this sunless tanner works!  I can't wait to find out...hopefully soon!

It has been a L-O-N-G journey looking for a healthier sunless tanner that will give me that summer glow without burning my skin to a crisp or lathering on the chemicals!  The best I've found so far for you and your pocketbook is Kiss My Face Instant Sunless Tanner.  I'm waiting for my bottle to arrive in the mail right now!  I was able to get 7% cash back through Ebates.com (plus you get an instant $5 for signing up).  Sign in and search for "Mother Nature," click "shop" and once you're in the site search for "Kiss My Face Sunless."  It's $7.13, add to cart.  Before checking out use these two codes to receive 15% off and get a free four-pack gift set of beeswax soaps!  LSAVE15 & BEEFLO.  Total, with shipping came to: $10.48!!!  (Look below for more deals on mothernature.com) Check out this article on how to find Safe Sunless Tanners from GreenYour.com, with a recipe to make your own.  Have you ever tried to make a homemade sunless tanner?  Leave a comment and share your experience!

Love, Peace the Planet by TiGi (Toni and Guy)!  I just found out about this new line of hair care products!  I can't wait to try the Eco Awesome Moisturizing Shampoo and Let It Be Leave-in Conditioner!!  Almost all ingredients are plant-based, 100% paraben free, and sulfate-free.  The bottles are made from 50% post consumer recycled materials and are 100% recyclable.  The best deal I've found online is at TiGiStore.  Choose from two different sets: Big Luv and Fun in the Sun. Both have three full-size products for $25 and free shipping!  I have done A-L-O-T of searching and this is by far the best price!  Each item comes under $8.50 a piece (regular $18+)!  If you don't want to buy three products at a time then the next best deal is on PerfumeWorldwide.com.  (Use Ebates to get 7% cash back and use code 10OFFORDER at checkout for an additional 10% off)
Update: I just got my bottles in the mail and they smell amazing! Cherry-Almond, Cranberry-Orange-Mint and Lavender-Citrus-Eucalyptus!  Mmmm!

MyEcoBaggingSystem is officially on my "Watch List," I'm watching and waiting for any deals that I can find so that I get this for less than it's already fairly decent price of $19.95.  Check out their videos on YouTube to see how awesome this is!

Below I have listed a bunch of items that I thought were a good price from MotherNature.com so that you can look through them yourself before making any purchases.  Remember the 15% discount code and free soap code above and $4.99 flat rate shipping (FREE shipping on orders of $49)!!!

MotherNature Deals: (prices reflect 15% off)
Organic Green Tea (box of 20) - $1.20
10ml bottle of Liquid Stevia for $1.75 - Check this site out for more info on Stevia.
Organic Popcorn (Kernels, 24 oz. bag) for $2.46*
Bath & Body:
80 Organic Cotton Balls for $1.35*
Kirk's 4 oz Castile Liquid Soap - $1.14*
Kiss My Face Organic Peppermint Foot Scrub - $.98* (only got a 2 on Cosmetics Database!)
Earth Therapeutics Anti-Bacterial Loofah Pad - $1.00*
Earth Therapeutics Wooden Massage Brush for $6.41* (best price I've seen!)
Green Sprouts Organic Cotton Mits - $2.06
Organic Cotton Nursing Pads (1 set) - $4.40
All Terrain Herbal Armor Insect Repellent Spray 4 oz - $4.46 (good reviews)
All Terrain Kids Insect Repellent Spray 4 oz - $4.69*
All Terrain Sheer Bandages (40 ct.,biodegradable) - $2.55*
* means I purchased!

Happy, Healthy Shopping!  Let me know if you buy any Eco Items and if so, what you think about them!

July 27, 2010

My Note is on OperationBeautiful.com!

Hey everyone, I just got an email from Caitlyn Boyle (founder of Operation Beautiful) saying that my note is posted on the site today...click here to check it out!  So cool!  Start leaving your own mark, here is a link to what Operation Beautiful is all about.

July 26, 2010

Green Goes With Everything

Mmmm...I love the smell of fresh books.  Opening the crisp pages, barely bending the tight binding and breathing in the delicious scent.  I don't even know how to describe what the smell is exactly...new paper, dried ink, stuffy packaging?  Anyway, I say that because I just received two brand new books from Amazon: Grocery Gardening: Planting, Preparing and Preserving Fresh Food and Green Goes with Everything: Simple Steps to a Healthier Life and a Cleaner Planet.  As you know one of my "steps to going green" is to start a garden!  This is one of those extremely intimidating steps.  I don't want to start and then end up with a bunch of dead plants.  I truly have to work hard at keeping my single flower pot from turning completely brown.
I kind of look at a garden as another child, and with three of them under the age of 4...I think I have enough to keep me busy for a while.  BUT!  When the day comes, that I am ready to take on this intimidating endeavor (hopefully next year), I want to be prepared.  So I thought I'd start with something practical, learning how to grow food I'll actually eat and cook with!  As of yet, I haven't done much more with it then sniff it's binding.
I have, however, actually read a bit of one my five books I'm trying to glean from (why do I try and read them all at the same time?).  Green Goes with Everything is PACKED with great information on "greening" every area of your life, with an extensive resources section, filled with great online sites to check out.  Information on everything from Activated Carbon Filters to Oprah Winfrey (really). This is one of those guides that takes a while to chew through.  So I'm going to do a bit more chewing and a little less sniffing so I can spread the love and share some goodies with you... keep your eyes peeled for them.  Or, buy yourself a copy and share some of your own thoughts with us.  After enjoying the aroma of course!

July 23, 2010

A New Addition to My Growing Library

I just got two new videos in the mail to workout with!  Yay!  I tried the Yoga Meltdown yesterday - not your typical yoga practice I must say... my arms and shoulders are burning!  I love Jillian's style of working out (check out my previous blog).  I just finished BFBM, OMG! (I don't even say that).  Definitely for intermediate to advanced Jillian-ers.  I know I'm back to a beginner as I slowly strengthen my post-third-pregnancy body, but I was still a bit shocked at how hard this was.  I made it through only 4 of the 6 circuits (or 3 of 5, I wasn't counting or thinking about anything but inhaling and exhaling and not falling flat on my face).  The 4 circuits I did do I could only do beginner-style and still only made it through about half of the movements.  Wow.  The exciting thing is, *bright side of life moment* I know I have a gauge for seeing how much stronger I'm getting.  The day I can make it all the way through BFBM will be a G-R-E-A-T day!!! So, my library of Jillian is slowly growing (I don't think I'm obsessed).

I am proud to say that I have been fairly diligent with my three-day-a-week workouts, slowly building up to more (I've started doing some cardio at our local YMCA as well).  I've been trying to eat better too, that's been going pretty good...so hopefully I will be back into my own clothes before the summer is over!  
What's next?  I know I can always increase my routine (more days, more weight, longer workouts, etc.) but I really need to keep a goal in front of me that excites me...so my second-ever 5K is next in line.  What are your goals?  What keeps you excited about being active?

July 20, 2010

My Sign: Time To Clean

I've never really believed in "signs." But sometimes, things happen in such a way, that I just wonder..."Am I missing something here?"

A few weeks ago, we had an ant infestation in our house.  I had to clear out half of my pantry (all my rice, peanut butter, pasta, cereals...)!  I was so frustrated, these are all the non-perishable items I'd slowly been stocking up on (using coupons and great sales) that were supposed to last "forever."  But my sister kept me focused on the positive: "At least you get to reorganize your pantry!"  *Always look on the bright side of life...*

Last weekend, after dealing with a flooded office and garage from our water heater going, our friend was walking through our kitchen and stepped in a puddle of water.  As I began wiping it up I realized our fridge was "leaking."  Little did we realize nearly everything in our freezer was thawed out and our refrigerator was barely even cool.  AHHH!  All my pre-made, frozen meals and steam-able bagged veggies, breads and meats (even the Mediterranean-crusted Salmon I just bought for a pretty penny)...dripping and half-frozen!

After spending the evening cooking everything that was still good, and stocking our fridge with dry-ice to keep our food cool until the "Maytag Man" made it out Monday morning, I started to wonder why I had now cleaned out my entire kitchen?  Is this some sign that I need to clean out the "dusty corners" and "drippy stuff" of my life?  I don't know.  But I do know that it really never hurts to spend some time re-evaluting yourself. What you invest your time/energy/thought/money into; where you are in your dreams/goals; the condition of your spirit man and physical man; who you are - your character/actions/words/thoughts/intents...

I still have a long way to go in my self-evaluation (all the way to go really, since I just had my "eyes" opened up to the idea), but I did get something else out of this experience: a few meals that require no refrigerated items.  So while chewing on the idea of evaluating your own life, feel free to stock up on some of these items just incase the power goes out or your freezer creates puddles all over your kitchen!

Non-Refrigerated/No-Cook Meals: 
(remember a manual can opener)
  • Basic Hummus & Crackers:
2 cups canned Chickpeas
1/4 cup Olive Oil
3 Garlic Cloves
Crackers or Veggie Chips
Blend together in a blender or food processor (I've never tried mixing without electricity, but you may be able to mash and whip the ingredients together for a chunky hummus if needed). Serve with crackers, pita bread, chips, veggies... There are many variations for times when you don't have to worry about your refrigerator not working: add in 1/4 cup Tahini and 1 Tbsp Lemon Juice; Black beans and jalapeno peppers; Experiment with different seasonings; Roasted red peppers; Sun-dried tomatoes; Mix equal parts hummus and yogurt for a creamy dip.
  • Tuna Salad Sandwich: made with vacuum-packed tuna/tuna-salad/chicken/salmon!
  • Apples & Peanut Butter
  • Granola Bars, Meal/Protein Bars (CLIF Kid ZBaRs are great for kids, and adults!) 
  • Fruit cups/Applesauce cups & Peanut/Almond Butter and Banana Sandwich
  • GoPicnic.com - I just found these, I haven't even tried them yet, but they would be great to have on hand for emergencies, lunches, camping, hiking, etc!  Check them out and use coupon code TRYGOPICNIC for 10% off your order!
  • Ketchup and Mustard don't have to be refrigerated, so they can add a little flavor to some dishes
  • Shelf-stable Milks: Soy, Almond or even Cows milk - Organic Valley has a few options!  Serve with cereal or drink up.

July 18, 2010

Operation Beautiful Part One

"Operation Beautiful is simple: all you need is a pen and a piece of paper. I’ve begun leaving positive messages on the mirrors of public restrooms — at work, at the gym, at the grocery store. I scribble down whatever comes to mind — “You are beautiful!” or “You are amazing just the way you are!"" -  Caitlyn Boyle, founder of the Operation Beautiful Movement.
I just stumbled across this website and instantly fell in love with the idea!  I remember collecting cool looking business cards when I was younger (I especially liked GAP's cards) and writing encouraging notes on them to leave for my waiter/-ress along with a good tip.  I have a huge passion for ministering to and encouraging woman in a lot of different areas in life, but especially in regards to self-image.  I have had to walk through a lot in that area, it's a continual journey (future post on my own story coming soon).  So I decided to jump on board with OperationBeautiful.com, and begin posting notes of my own!

Here is my first note, I left it in the locker room at my local YMCA

I really encourage you to check out her website and her personal blog (she is on her own journey to becoming healthier in the fitness/nutritional aspect).  Leave a comment and share some of your post-its.  You can also send a picture of your note and a short description or long story about it to Caitlin herself at seebriderun@gmail.com and she will post it on the operation beautiful site.  She even sent me back a short email with a little personal note thanking me!

July 12, 2010

Target Daily Deals: Organic Towels!

Target's Daily Deals has organic hand towels and wash clothes 40% off regular prices (on sale for $2.99-$3.59)!!!  I purchased a few hand towels in coordinating colors with the Target towel sets I already own.  So far every organic cotton I've touched/washed is softer than regular, and only gets softer the more I wash it!  If you want to see more on why to buy organic bath towels, click here.

July 11, 2010

A Special Thanks To...

I just want to show some love to Corbis.com and Google Image Search for helping me color my blog with beautiful images.  Thanks.

July 9, 2010

Free Woman's Day CookVook July 9th ONLY

That's right, Cookvook...it's an application for your iPhone or iPod from Woman's Day Magazine.  Usually this application is $10 but it's free today only!!  It is a CookVook because every one of the 45 recipes is also in video format!  It's a great tool to instill a little enthusiasm into your nightly dinner routine.  I don't know that I would pay ten dollars for this app, but it's great for FREE!  So far I really like the helpful tips on buying meat, pasta, etc. and the Asian Beef Lettuce Wraps recipe, definitely trying that soon! So download it on iTunes and get cooking!

July 7, 2010

Rewards Programs (For All You Diaper Buyers)

Huggies Rewards

10 Points for signing up and there are codes in every pack of diapers and wipes.  You can earn 6 points by taking 6 quick polls, literally seconds!  Watch 3 videos and earn 2 points each.  Tell a friend and get some points as well...it's pretty easy to collect.  Here is my collaborated list of codes, all worth 5 points each (good as of July 4, 2010):
That's a total of 92 Points to get you started!

I can't remember if there are sign-up points.  But there are codes in diaper and wipe packages.  I also receive quite a few print out coupon codes at my local grocery store.  Here is a pretty extensive list of free codes you can try, some of them may have expired.  I collect all the points and codes I can get, but I'm much more excited about the Huggies rewards.  You only need 300 points to get a package of diapers for free, Pampers doesn't have anything like free wipes/diapers...lots of online deals (snapfish poster, etc.) and toys...all very high point values.  

Feel free to leave a comment if you come across any codes I didn't list!

July 6, 2010

Happy Child, Happy House

My pastor Robert Morris, just finished a series on Broken: Repairing the Family (click to watch/listen to all the related sermons).  His two messages leading up to "Happy Child, Happy House" were "Happy Wife, Happy Life" and "Happy Husband, Happy Home."
I can't believe what an incredible, life-altering message this was for me!  It is all about raising your children, and training them up biblically.  It is extremely practical (which I love), and every time that I've had to correct my children since, I've run through the list of points in my mind.  I recommend that every parent, soon-to-be-parent, one-day-will-be-parent, and even grandparents listen to this message!!!
Here are a few of my favorite points:

  1. Be Clear
    1. Give Clear Instructions
    2. Give Clear Results
    3. Give Clear Reasons
  2. Be Convicting (Not Condemning)
    1. Say it Specifically
    2. Say it Repeatedly
    3. Say it Differently
  3. Be Chastening (Not Chastising)
    1. Give Correction, Not Punishment
    2. Give Covering, Not Embarrassment
    3. Give Justice, Not Fairness
  4. Be Compassionate
    1. Hold Them
    2. Hug Them
    3. Heal Them
Those are only half of the points.  To fill in the blanks and really get the revelation of this message, check out the full notes and take a few minutes to listen to it, I know it will change your life!  
God, help us all to understand You better as our Father and Lord help us to be better parents and children ourselves.  

July 4, 2010

Thank You...

I found this video on YouTube, and it seemed an appropriate reminder for today...

July 1, 2010

Happy Fourth of July!

I can't believe it's already July!  This holiday weekend seems to have just crept up on us!  I found a few cool things going on for the 4th of July weekend ... check them out!

Tweet4Track: Want some free music from Integrity artists?  Have a twitter account?  Alright, then you're all set!  Click on the link for more details.

$1 Flip Flops: July 3rd ONLY, Old Navy is having a solid flip flop sale for $1 each (up to 5 per person)!  Click on the link and print the page, take it in with you to get the deal.

$1 Popcorn & Drink at AMC Theaters: on Sunday, July 4th ONLY!  Click to read more and print coupons.

3 Free Blockbuster Express Rentals with codes: GGT16A, GT17A, and G417A.  Click here for locations near you!!

Want FREE Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream for you and your friends?  Check out the link and find how volunteering in your area can really be sweet!

Free Chick-Fil-A Meal on July 9th ONLY.  Wear a full cow outfit!
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