Saturday, August 11, 2012

Things I'm Loving Lately

Summer time. I do love summer time. I remarked to someone at church yesterday last Sunday (It has taken me that long to finish this post) that I hate the end of summer when I have to start thinking about sending my kids back to school. I love them being home with me and I love lazy mornings when they can sleep until 9:30 if they want. I love how much they play together because they have no one else really. My kids get along very well especially for being opposite sex and 6 years apart in age.

They spent hours one afternoon outside in this blow up pool they are both too big for making their own fun. (Please ignore the dead grass and unstained swing set. It finally rained enough to green the grass up the other day and the swing set is on the to do list.)

Summertime also means grilled veggies! This is my favorite way to eat them. I pour a little olive oil and balsamic over them with a little garlic and herb seasoning in a bowl first and let them sit for a half hour or so then toss them into our grill basket.

We have also grilled zucchini a few times. This is my favorite way to eat zucchini for sure. I love the flavor the grill adds. If I have a really large one I cut it into rounds but the smaller ones are good cut like this.
Fresh blueberries!

I purchased this sea of fresh blueberries from a local farmer who has them shipped fresh from Michigan. I wash and freeze them like this then put them in Ziploc bags to enjoy for most of the year. Frozen blueberries are a special treat. Faith loves them for a snack and I love that they are super healthy for her. We also love to freeze grapes in a Ziploc too for an excellent summer snack!

Remember my addiction to spices. My cabinet used to look like this. It was making me literally crazy! I couldn't get anything out of here without knocking 14 things down and all over the counter thereby making me want to say bad words. Plus I would end up buying duplicates of things I thought I had run out of. It is possible there were three bottles of cumin in there.

It now looks like this! I actually did this some time ago and have been meaning to work it into a blog post but haven't gotten around to it. I was reminded of how much I love it when I looked at the above picture.

The drawers pull down and you can actually fit quite a lot of spices in there. I need to get a second one for the top shelf of spices. I found it at Bed Bath and Beyond for $20 but it may have been an As Seen on TV item so check those sections in stores. It also came with labels for the outside, but I chose not to use them in case I want to move things around. It only took me a few times to remember where I had put each spice.

Homemade Popsicles!!!! I was tired of the very cheap molds that don't actually let you get your Popsicle out so when I saw these molds at TJ Maxx for around $7.00 I grabbed them. Still cheap but much more durable.

I love that I am in complete control of the ingredients and sugar content and that they stand up like this making them so easy to fill. These were a mango pineapple coconut and the purple one above was simply a lite V8 Fusion juice. Ha Ha! The kids had a vegetable serving in their Popsicle and didn't even know it!

The only bummer is the length of time it takes for them to freeze but the same is true for all other molds as well. I would like to have that instant freeze Popsicle machine! They come out of the molds quite easily if you wait the actual amount of time you are supposed to for them to freeze. Just run them under hot water for a few seconds and they will pop right out.

If you want a snack that will freeze more quickly then try these yogurt drops! I used a low sugar blueberry yogurt and piped the circles onto waxed paper on a try. I topped them with a frozen blueberry and stuck them in the freezer. You can use an actual piping bag or put the yogurt in a Ziploc bag and snip the end off to make uniform size circles. After they are frozen you can put them in freezer safe Tupperware.

They will turn a bit darker but they make a great healthy grab and go snack that you can feel good about eating yourself or giving to your kids. With a little plain Greek yogurt the sky is the limit for all that you can mix in and top it with.

Food like this! Summer just makes me crave good healthy vegetables like this.
How about you?

The Farmer's Market. Funny I am not showing you pictures of the vegetables or the basil plant I have bought at the Farmer's Market but this raw honey! It is to die for! I mean it! It has to be the best tasting honey I have ever eaten. I will hoard it!

Summer time breakfast. For some reason this has been my favorite breakfast lately. I don't care what you say about eating celery for breakfast. Topped with Sunbutter it is awesome. Plus one egg over easy and my can of V8 makes for a protein filled nutritious breakfast. Try the spicy V8 if you don't usually care for the regular.
That is the only way that Miles will drink V8.
He is a big baby!

Grilled Very Greek Chicken. So I know everyone is sick of my love affair with Greek food but even if you don't care for Greek you will love this simple marinade for some grilled chicken. You don't even have to call it Greek. Visit the link below.
Just a few simple ingredients.
 Olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, Greek seasoning,
poultry seasoning, oregano, and black pepper.

My new iPhone. My husband is a technology loving freak. The minute his cell phone contract is up he is there exchanging his phone for the next latest and greatest. He can't  wait. I on the other hand was perfectly happy with my non smart phone, or as my 12 year old likes to call it, "My dumb phone." My contract has probably been up for 3 years and it has been driving Miles crazy. So he talked me into an iPhone and since we will be adding Evan soon we also switched carriers to be more affordable. That meant I got my phone for $50. I will admit that I am totally in love. It really has come in handy over the last couple weeks. Plus I found two new apps I am crazy about.

This first one is called Shop Well. It let me enter nutrition information that I am looking for/to avoid. For example I am looking to avoid high fructose corn syrup, preservatives, artificial colors, etc. and looking for whole grains, iron, folic acid etc. Then I can scan the bar code of any item at the store and it will give me nutrition information of the item and a score with a red, yellow, or green, circle telling me how good it is for me. It also gives me suggestions of better things to try.

For example I scanned my Hormel all natural, no preservatives lunch meat and it didn't like it so much. It didn't get a terrible score but it wasn't a green circle either. It suggested I try this roast beef.

When I click the nutrition tab it pulls this up and will high light in yellow the bad things and in green the good things. I had told the app I was looking for low saturated fat so it was happy about this.

Then I can click the ingredient list and see exactly what is in the item. In this case just 4 ingredients which makes me happy! Nothing is green but nothing is yellow either so that is why it didn't get an even higher score. I didn't exactly tell it I was looking for beef!

It also lets me add those items it has suggested to my shopping list. This way I can remember to look for them when I am at the store the next time. I scanned my favorite Fiber One cereal which got a score of 80. That was pretty good but I decided to add Uncle Sams and Grape Nuts to my list since they got perfect scores. I have learned that it isn't happy with any artificial sweeteners including Stevia or maple syrup and it only likes it if an item says 100 percent whole wheat flour. So I still check the ingredient list if something I like didn't get such a great score. I am okay with Stevia and wheat bran.

It also lets me browse an incredible data base looking for items with good scores.

And it lets me search for specific items I am wondering about. It has been super fun to scan items I have at home already and see what it tells me about them. I love that I can save them in a list otherwise I would completely forget what I had found because my brain is just getting old. Which is why I needed this second app.
My grocery store list.

So what I love is that I always have my list with me instead of forgetting to get it off the fridge and trying to remember what was on it! I also love that I can categorize my list so I am not back tracking in the store because I forgot something. I started with the free app to make sure I would like it but quickly upgraded. It was worth the $2.99 I spent on it because I needed more categories.

Like Toiletries and Condiments for example. I know I spelled toothpaste wrong on the list. No worries. I know what I meant.

When I have retrieved an item I put a little check mark in the box. This makes me so happy! I hate grocery shopping, but I love checking things off a list. I have occasionally added something to a list that I have already completed just so I could cross it off. Ridiculous? True. But that is how my brain works.

Every so often in the store I hit that little trash can you see underneath where it says cancel and I tap the Clear done items tab. This shortens my list and makes me feel good and it is just easier to see what is left. I also love that if I don't find an item, the store is out, or I know I have to go to another store for it, the item stays on my list! I can't tell you how many times I would get all but one or two things on my list and then forget to come home and write them on a new list. Annoying!

And one final thing I am loving lately......

My new chevron yellow and white curtains I made for the kitchen. Sewing is not really my forte, but I attempt it when I must to save a buck or to get what I really want. I am super glad that I also took time to line these which I wouldn't normally do because I am too impatient and I just want it done as fast as possible. It might be true that sewing always makes me end up wanting to say bad words.

But when I can close out the blinding sun every morning I am super happy. What I am not happy about is how much worse they made my nasty 1977 kitchen cupboards look. When I figure out how to plant and grow that money tree those will be going away as well or when I win the $5000 a week for life from Publisher's Clearing House. It's mine so you can all just stop entering!

So that is all for now! What have you all been enjoying this summer? Have you discovered any iPhone apps I should know about? Or better yet have you mixed up any homemade Popsicles that I need the recipe for???

Enjoy what is left of your summer. I know I will treasure every moment!


Jenny said...


Jenny said...

Okay, ha, sorry about above comment. I spent time punching in a comment off Facebook link then it wouldn't publish. Lots of good stuff here. Congrats on all of the fun with the new phone! I am squealing over the yogurt drops! And I love the chevron; I was eyeing a chevron shower curtain.

Bernice said...

Wonderful blog Pam, love the curtains, you did a great job. Love you