Saturday, July 2, 2011

SmartKlean Laundry Ball (review)

     A while back another blogger had posted about the SmartKlean laundry ball. I became intrigued after checking out their website at .  I've been happy using soap nuts for a while now and feel they are still a fantastic eco friendly way to wash your clothes among other things. However, this laundry ball has some fantastic benefits that soap nuts do not.

     The ball itself is an interesting shape and feels like it's made of a rubbery plastic. It's heavy for its size and is filled with four different little round ceramic beads and magnets.  Their website states that everything inside the ball is biodegradable and the outer casing is recyclable. Each of the different ceramic balls inside have a different purpose, as do the magnets.  One is an antibiotic that eliminates mold and bacteria, another is an alkali that elevates the water's PH to similar levels of soaps & detergents, another is a far infrared and negative ions increasing molecular motion and decreasing surface tension ensuring sterilization, and the last one is for chlorine exclusion eliminating chloride compounds in water.  The tiny, but powerful magnets inside break down water clusters and help reduce rust in your washing machine. The shape and design of the ball beats & agitates dirt off clothing during the wash cycle. I love the idea of reducing chlorine in the water and that is what really attracted me to the SmartKlean ball in the first place.

     The SmartKlean laundry ball is reusable for 365 loads.  They say one year, but I don't do a load of laundry each day, so it could last me longer than that. Included in the package was a chart to mark off each time you do a load to keep track of the 365 uses. This could potentially save a lot of money over purchasing laundry detergent.

     Since the SmartKlean laundry ball does not use soap or detergent, there is no need for the rinse cycle and you can wash all of your clothes in cold water, saving you money on water and electricity, not to mention time.  I have been using the ball for the past few weeks and have been completely satisfied with its ability to clean and deodorize the kids stinky, dirty clothes.  I suppose if I had some really tough stains I could make a liquid soap from my soap nuts to pre-treat the stains before washing with the SmartKlean ball.

This is a great alternative to laundry detergents for people with allergies and sensitive skin. Check it out!

This review is my personal opinion of the product. I am not being compensated by the company in any way, except that they sent me one SmartKlean laundry ball to try out and review on my blog.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Father's Day

     I am so blessed to have this amazing man as my husband and wonderful father to my children. Happy Father's Day, Brandon! I surely do love you! =)

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Where does the time go?

     It has been almost a month since my last blog post.  I've thought about posting for a while, and then I get very busy.  I can't believe how time flies.  Who else thinks it's strange that it's already JUNE?

     Some days I feel very discouraged in my weight loss since I'm stuck fluctuating between 156-159 lbs and I can't seem to get it lower.  I must admit that I've not been as strict with my diet as I was at first, but all in all we are eating so much healthier than ever in our lives.  On the other hand, I have lost quite a bit so far.  At my heaviest, I was about 183 lbs a few years ago, just before I had my gallbladder surgery.  I'm still thick in the waistline, and I really need to become more motivated to actually exercise when I have some "free" time to myself... (I still laugh when I say that). In the past few weeks, my husband has MADE me go purchase a few pairs of pants for myself, because my pants were literally falling off of me.  I dropped two sizes. Yesterday he took my wedding ring to have it resized as well. I've been very hesitant about that since I really want to wait until I reach my goal weight to resize it. For a while now, I've been wearing it with a spacer.  I need to go through ALL of my clothes and donate everything that is too big for me, which will be most of my wardrobe.  I do have a lot of things that are too small for me that I've hung onto for a while in hopes that I will some day be able to fit in them again. So right now, I'm in between sizes.

     Looking back at my last post and seeing pictures of my garden from almost a month ago, I'm in awe of how much the garden has grown since then.  We haven't had too much of a bug problem in the garden, but something (I think a bunny maybe) has been eating our tomatoes, including that one HUGE one.  I've started picking them as soon as they start turning orange and bringing them in to ripen indoors.  We have a very small blueberry bush that had quite a bit of berries on it considering its size, however I've noticed less and less berries each time I go out there.  I think birds are getting to some of our produce as well. We should probably get some netting or something to put over the plants at this point.

    Brandon and I started doing the bulk of our grocery shopping at Whole Foods Market and buying mostly organic produce.  We've cut back to eating meat only a few days a week, usually on his days off so he can grill.  Since we hadn't eaten red meat in nearly a year, I decided it wouldn't kill me to eat it every once in a while. This made him very happy to try out some new recipes on the grill. I've found the best day to shop at Whole Foods Market is on Wednesdays. The previous ad ends on Wednesday and the new ad begins, allowing us to shop sales from both weeks.  I try to stock up on things we would want from both ads and arrange our meals accordingly. Whole Foods also takes coupons and has their own coupon flier.  So we shop from sales and coupons and actually don't spend as much as we did shopping for prepackaged, loaded with junk, foods from Walmart. My kids love trying new, healthier foods and are really LOVING our new healthy diet. I'm very blessed that they aren't picky eaters any more and prefer fresh veggies and fruit to prepackaged junk. It's amazing how eating healthier can really change your taste buds. Candy and sweets are still a weakness for all of us, but we don't eat them quite as often as we did before.

     I have taken on several new students for our Summer Session this year, and it's been so much fun getting to know this great group of kids.  We have been enjoying some fun activities together, like going to the library and swimming. We also made tie dye t-shirts to wear when we have our lemonade stand. Since my daughter is a year ahead in her academics and didn't have any work to do this summer, she has been a huge help to me with the younger students. I've given my students a challenge this summer to turn in a total of 100 book reports as a group effort by the end of this summer and we will have a party. About half of the class enjoys reading, while the other half need some encouragement.  I really hope this will help them all enjoy reading more.  Because our school has grown to its capacity, we will be rearranging some of the furniture in the living room and building new desks to accommodate more students.  We ordered one computer armoire from Walmart and are anxiously waiting its arrival so we can put it together to see if it will work out before we purchase the rest.  I figured since the school is in my living room, with the armoires when school is out, we can close the cabinets and reclaim a little space. We also plan to purchase some adjustable height, swivel tractor stools that will fit inside of the cabinets when not in use. I think everything will be neat and tidy that way. And finally, all of our class room furniture will match!

     We recently had a scare with our beloved 9 yr old Beagle puppy, Daisy.  For a few days last week she was very lethargic.  We also noticed that she had fat pockets on her neck and chest that were very large.  The kids and I all prayed for Daisy, that she would be okay and that her fat pockets would go away. Brandon and Bailey took her to the vet on his day off.  The vet wasn't concerned about the fat pockets and said that was normal for dogs. He was concerned about her significant heart murmur. We knew she had a murmur in the past, but the vet said it wasn't a big deal before.  This time, he gave her a chest x-ray and determined that she has a heart condition. So now we must give her medications every day. It's not easy giving a dog little pills. We may have to go get some soft treats to stick them in. In the past few days, she has improved a LOT.  She's much more energetic and playful. And her fat pockets on her neck and chest are completely gone.  I'm not sure if they had anything to do with her heart condition at all, but I'm sure it's much more comfortable for her to not have them on her neck where her collar is. I'm just happy that my sweet Daisy is feeling better. =)

Here's some photos of some yummy foods we have made lately.  Let me know what recipes you would like to try and I'll post them....

Mandarin Orange stuffed Chicken Breast with Grilled Pineapple, Salsa, and Mango Avacado Guacomole

Turkey Burgers with Onion Apple Relish and Sweet Potato Fries

Quinoa Vegetable Risotto
Spicy Tomato Soup (Yes, another tomato soup recipe)

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Garden Update

     Our garden is progressing nicely since I first shared pictures with you.  We have been enjoying fresh strawberries  and cherry tomatoes a few at a time.  Sometimes I wish that we would get one great big harvest so we don't have to figure out how to split them four ways.  For a while we were having some trouble with our tomatoes getting blossom end rot.  I picked off those bad tomatoes and decided to add a layer of straw mulch to the entire garden.  That seemed to help and now we have some beautiful, healthy, but still green tomatoes growing.  I realize now that gardening requires a lot of patience.  I have a lot of patience with many things, including children, but being patient for my garden to grow is extremely difficult. Here's some pics from our garden today:

I couldn't quite get the angle right to include the entire garden.  
Our blueberry bush is just to the left of this view.


Raspberry Bush

We have a few raspberries on the canes from last year.

Bell Peppers


Strawberry patch, catnip, mints, and you can see the onions in this view as well.

Mini pumpkins and corn

Three kinds of potatoes planted with Alyssum


LOADS of grapes all over the grapevine

Beefsteak tomatoes

Cherry tomatoes

Our biggest Beefsteak yet

More Beefsteaks

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Android Apps I Use

     My friend, Lisa, suggested I blog about the android apps I use and why.  I must tell you that I'm addicted to apps on my phone. Recently I had over 90 apps, but have since cleared out some that I don't use only to find more.  I like to play with different apps for the same thing until I decide on ones I like over all, but many times it's hard to find what I need and I'm seriously considering learning how to create my own apps for my purposes.  I only choose FREE apps, because there is no sense in spending money when you can find a free app that is just as good or better.

    First, I'd like to share with you the apps that I use that are geared more toward the nature of this blog, health and fitness. Actually, I found one app, Noom Weight Loss, which is a combination of 3 in 1.  With Noom you can track your weight and see your progress. You can set a workout schedule and track your calories burned using Cardio Trainer, which includes a pedometer and the ability to share your exercises and calories burned on Facebook.  And you can log your meals with Calorific by taking a photo and selecting the portion sizes to guesstimate your calorie intake.  It's not completely accurate, but it does help you think about your food choices. I also like True Food Network Center For Food Safety shopping guide.  It includes lists of brands that contain no GMO ingredients as well as contact information for companies that do use GMO ingredients if you would like to take action. CPR-Choking and First Aid are two great apps for emergencies with step by step instructions on what to do.  This is handy in case the children need to use it since they have not taken CPR or First Aid courses yet.

     I absolutely must have a Bible on my phone and I use YouVersion Bible, which allows you to choose what translation and to search for scriptures, use bookmarks, set reading plans, and take notes. I also use Daily Bible, which has a daily verse, daily plan, devotions and more. Each morning I give my students the daily verse to memorize for merits in school.  Our church even created an app for android called COTM, which is great for keeping up with news and watching services right on the phone. You could even use the mobile giving option to pay your tithe, we haven't played with that feature yet. I love the Bible Trivia game and have used it on long road trips with the kids. Remember Me is a Bible verse memory app to help you commit God's Word to your heart.

     Because I am a teacher, I try to find many educational apps that will be helpful for my students. This is probably the area I have the most apps.  Here's the list I keep just for them: 50 States, Algebra Tutor, Brain Genius, Google Sky Map, Kaka Flashcards (allows you to create your own flashcards on the phone), L&M Guitar (includes a metronome, guitar tuner, chord guide, and even links to youtube video lessons), Math Maiac, Math Tricks Lite, Memory Trainer, Music Sheet (helps you practice reading notes), Paint Joy (for creating animated art work), SBMX (Sketchbook for drawing), Sight Word Flash Cards, Speed Anatomy, The Periodic Table, The US Presidents, Ultrachron Lite (which is a timer and stopwatch- I use this daily with the kids), as well as a few fun thinking games like Blow Up and Slice It. I also have an app called Behavior Status which allows me to enter in all of the student's names, I can set up different classes, which isn't necessary for me right now. When I click on a student's name I can select red, yellow, or green from the stop light which will bring up the current time and allow me to add notes.  I can pull up the student's history and even email the parents. I also plan to use Glympse to share our location with parents when we are out on field trips.

     One great app for our family is Cozi, which allows me to share a calendar, grocery lists, and to do lists with my hubby.  I love that it emails the calendar for the week and that updates can be made on my phone or on the computer in real time. If we were both out shopping at different stores we can cross off items from the grocery lists as we get them and the other person can see it crossed off as well so we wouldn't double up on purchases. There is also the ability to keep a journal by jotting down notes and even taking photos. This is an AMAZING tool and I highly recommend it.  We also use Family GPS Tracker for when we are out and about in different placed.  It includes a panic button that will send a phone call, email, and a text message to your emergency contacts. It also includes a check in button to notify your family members that you have arrived at your destination safely. This is helpful late at night when Brandon is on his way home from work. Sometimes I worry when it seems it's taking longer than it should. I can see right where he's at through the GPS tracker.

     A few fun games I like to play are the different Angry Birds, Jewels Deluxe, Ninjump, Roller (it's like the ticket redemption game, Skii Ball), Words With Friends (my name on WWF is Sparklykttn if you would like to play with me), and YooNinja, as well as the games I have for my students to play. I also have Opera Mini for internet, Facebook, TweetCaster for Twitter, Youtube, Gmail, PicSay Pro for editing photos, and CamScanner for scanning photos and documents. ShopKick is one of my favorite apps. I don't really know why I like it so much, but it's kind of fun.  With ShopKick you can earn kick points for "logging in" to different stores, sometimes they have scavenger hunts to find things and scan them in the stores for more points.  You can trade in your points for different rewards.  I also like Animated Weather, for up to date weather forecast and the graphics are awesome! A few more random apps are: Antivirus Free, App 2 SD Free, Apps Organizer, Elixir, Hebrew Calendar, and Amazon Appstore,

     Of course my phone came preloaded with many apps that I cannot remove even though I don't use them, but some are useful. As you can see, I have a LOT of apps and not enough space for more. However, If I could create an app, I would make one that would allow me to keep track of my students by taking attendance, tracking test scores, tracking behavior, as well as keeping notes and emergency info on each one of them all in one app. I hope this information has been helpful to some of you.  Tell me, what apps can you just not live without?


Friday, May 13, 2011

Catching Up...

     I've been so busy the past few weeks that I've not had much time to blog, or do anything really. I've not been exercising, or even weighing myself regularly. I have dropped a few inches off my waist and hips and my clothes are continuing to fit loosely, so I'm not too worried about it right now.  We have been eating very healthy, with the exception of a few fast food meals here and there. I try to make the healthiest choices when we go out to eat, but I will admit that I'm still munching on Easter candies.  Some habits are just too hard to break.

     In the past few weeks I've added a few new students to my school, 3 brothers to be precise. My son is so excited that he's no longer outnumbered by girls. So far these boys are great, if not a little shy. But everyone seems to get along and they are very respectful. We have one week left of school, then a one week break before our Summer Session starts. I have two more students coming this summer.  We plan to spend some time throughout the summer building new offices to make room for even more students in the Fall. When I'm busy, it's usually with my school. The school consumes so much of my time, but I LOVE every minute of it!
      Just a few days ago I finally convinced Brandon to take me to Whole Foods to get our groceries.  We bought a ton of fresh fruits and veggies and actually spent less than our shopping trips to Walmart. The produce section at Whole Foods is phenomenal! I only wish there was a location closer to home. We have to drive a good 30 minutes out, but right now with construction it's almost 45 minutes. CRAZY!

     I have come up with a few new recipes that I would like to post soon.  We altered our Tomato Soup recipe just a tad and grilled the fresh vegetables that went into it first. It came out very good.  I've also made some breakfast smoothies as well as a few other things. I'm still reading a few books as I have time that I'd like to blog about and my friend, Lisa, suggested that I blog about the apps I use on my phone and why. Some are relevant to health and fitness, and some geared more toward my school use.  I guess I need to prepare a list of things to blog about and hope that I find the time to post them.  I guess I should be asking you all what you want me to blog about next.  Any suggestions?


A Few New Kitchen Toys

     Making changes in the kitchen is happening gradually. As you may already know, kitchen tools can be expensive.  We haven't purchased new knives in YEARS! You know it's time to replace your knives when they break while cutting something. It's pretty scary when your kids are using them and they break. Our knife "collection" was full of mismatched pieces, mostly with cheap plastic handles. They were unreliable and often I'd go through a few different knives to get a simple task done.  Then just a few weeks ago, Brandon brought home a beautiful set of Farberware one-piece stainless steel knives in a knife block. The set includes 8 steak knives, a 3.5" parer, an 8" bread knife, an 8" chef knife, shears, sharpener, a 5" serrated utility knife, a 5" fine edge utility knife, and a 5" santoku knife, all in a labeled knife block to keep them organized. I absolutely LOVE these knives! They sing like a sword being unsheathed as you pull them from the block and they slice through anything like butter. Pretty impressive compared to our old dull knives.  Brandon said he purchased them at Target and they were a decent price, not the most expensive. I cannot find them on Target's website to link them, but here they are...

     Another new kitchen toy we've added is the Hamilton Beach Big Mouth Duo Food Processor.  This is going to be a workhorse in our kitchen now that we are eating more fruits and veggies.  This thing can slice, dice, chop, and puree A LOT of food! It's HUGE! We purchased this at Target on sale yesterday and put it to good use when we made Grilled Tomato Soup for dinner last night. I'm already dreaming up new things to try with this.  I've named HER "Stevena"! (Brandon has a habit of naming all our new "powerful" appliances "Steve". (ie. our vacuum, carpet shampooer, our grill, etc.)   I just figured I better beat him to the punch this time. =) 

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Raw Honey GOODNESS!!!

     Last month I entered a giveaway on another blog (Mama Chocolate) for Tropical Traditions Organic Canadian Raw Honey.  I was so excited when she emailed me and told me that I was the winner. I have been eying several products on the Tropical Traditions website for quite some time now, and this was on the top of my list. Today my honey arrived and it didn't take me but two seconds to pry off the lid and dip a spoon into it. I have to say this is the most AMAZING honey I have ever tasted! It's solid instead of liquid like the honey I'm used to purchasing at the local grocery store, but it just melts in your mouth. It has the consistency of a thick spread.  I toasted a piece of 9 grain bread that I made in the bread machine and spread peanut butter and this honey on it and it was sooo good! Now I need to find some good recipes to include this.

     In addition to Organic Canadian Raw Honey, Tropical Traditions also sells a lot of organic foods, cleaners, body care products, even pet food and many, many other items. On my list of MUST TRY items is the Organic Coconut Peanut ButterOrganic Gold Label Virgin Coconut OilPowdered Dish Washer Detergent,  and Bug Arrest (for my garden). Their website is very informative and they even have some very tasty recipes that I'm dying to try. I also enjoy reading articles on their blog Created 4 Health.

     Tropical Traditions also has a great referral program. You will be able to acquire your own complimentary copy of  their Virgin Coconut Oil book.   When you choose “Referred by a Friend” and enter my User ID: 7454309 on your first online order, the book will be automatically added to your order.

Saturday, April 30, 2011


     I quit!! I've decided I'm no longer on a diet. I've never been one to stick to any specific diet anyway, so eating healthier is my new lifestyle. I must admit that, I do have lapses in judgement when it comes to food or food-like stuff. I usually find out that I don't really care for the same sweet treats I was addicted to just months ago and I'm enjoying healthier options more and more.  I do however, still have a thing for chocolate... I've had way too much Easter candy this past week. Which also explains why I've not lost any weight this past week. (sigh)

   I'm almost embarrassed to admit that I never really enjoyed cooking, until recently. I actually felt inadequate in that department. After all, being a wife and mother, that is the one thing I should do best, right?  Now, I'm looking for the next great recipe and I get so excited when my family enjoys the meals I prepare for them. Brandon even has his coworkers thinking that I'm some fantastic cook. He's been enjoying more veggies and less meat these days and has agreed to only eat meat 2-3 times a week. That means I must find more recipes for fruits, veggies, and healthy grains that are filling enough that he won't try to eat a deep dish pizza from Savastano's again. (That was a painful experience for him.)  I'm also determined to show him that we can eat healthy, organic meals on a reasonable budget.

    I love to read diet and nutrition books. I have so many on my shelves and I tend to pick the best information from each one. Last week I began reading The Maker's Diet by Jordan Rubin. First, I must say his story is nothing short of a miracle.  His book is very informative and includes a listing of many different companies that offer natural and organic products for your health, body, and your home. I haven't finished it yet, so I'm not to the point where he introduces his diet guidelines. I did skim ahead though, and it looks similar to the South Beach Diet with the different phases and the lists of foods to enjoy and avoid. I also purchased Reshaping It All by Candace Cameron Bure, which isn't really a diet book. I haven't begun reading her book yet, but I'm eager to get started, so I'm trying to finish the one I'm currently working on whenever I have a "free moment".(HA!! I crack me up!)

     The past few days we have been at the OCHEC (Oklahoma Christian Home Educators Consociation) convention in Tulsa. This is our third year attending and every year there is one lady that I'm very interested in going to her workshops, Karen Hopkins of Growing Healthy Homes. For the past few years she's been planting the seeds of healthier eating and living in my mind and heart.  A few years ago I was not ready to take the plunge into this new way of living and neither was Brandon. I guess I still believed that food and body care products couldn't possibly be THAT bad for you if they were FDA approved. As if the FDA had our best interest in mind. Riiight!  Last year I began paying a little more attention to what she had to say about body care products specifically.  I was really noticing a decline in my own healthy and began researching some things on my own.  This year, even before the convention, I told my husband that if nothing else, I wanted to purchase her curriculum book, Nutrition 101: Choose Life!  I cannot begin to tell you how excited I am to have this in my possession. It's chock full of information on the brain and nervous system, digestive system, respiratory, olfactory, auditory and visual systems, skeletal and muscular systems, cardiovascular and immune systems, endocrine system and emotions,  all laid out in a curriculum that is easy to use with kids of all ages. It also includes many healthy recipes. This is going to be a valuable tool in my endeavors toward healthy living for my family as well as teaching all of my students proper nutrition.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Grilled Banana Boats (recipes)

     Last week when my husband grilled fruit for a fruit salad, he grilled bananas.  I had never heard of grilled bananas before, so I decided to Google it and see what would come up. I found multiple recipes for banana boats, also called campfire bananas, and Brandon thought it would be the perfect dessert for Easter.  They were very simple to make and tasted soooooo good!

I cut the stems off of the bananas then slit them down the middles, but not all the way through the other side. I stuffed each one with Ghiradelli chocolate chips and those pastel fruit flavored marshmallows.  Brandon put them on the grill until the peels turned black and the bananas were soft on the inside.  The chocolate chips melted and the marshmallows were perfectly toasted, crispy on the outside, and gooey in the middles. You can eat them with a spoon right from the peel or scoop them out over some vanilla ice cream like we did. YUMMY!!!

Mojito-Rubbed Chicken With Grilled Pineapples (recipes)

     Brandon found this recipe online here and we just had to try this for our Easter dinner this year. I followed this recipe, except that I used melted coconut oil instead of olive oil and I doubled the recipe for the lime/oil mixture. I also used fresh chocolate mint leaves from my garden. Brandon also grilled some fresh yellow squash to serve with it. I really think that a coconut rice would have made this meal PERFECT. We will definitely try this one again.

Mojito-Rubbed Chicken With Grilled Pineapples

  • 4 medium (1 1/2 pounds) skinless, boneless chicken-breast halves
  • 2  limes
  • 1 tablespoon(s) olive oil 
  • 1 medium (3 1/2 pounds) pineapple, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
  • 1/4 cup(s) loosely packed fresh mint leaves, chopped
  •  Salt and pepper

  1. Prepare outdoor grill for direct grilling on medium, or preheat large ridged grill pan on medium.
  2. Meanwhile, with meat mallet, pound chicken (placed between 2 sheets plastic wrap) to an even 1/2-inch thickness.
  3. From 1 lime, grate 1 teaspoon peel and squeeze 2 tablespoons juice. Cut remaining lime into 4 wedges; set aside. In small bowl, combine oil, lime peel, and juice. Lightly brush pineapple on both sides with lime mixture; set aside remaining lime mixture in bowl. Place pineapple slices on hot grill rack and cook 10 minutes or until browned on both sides, turning over once.
  4. Stir mint into remaining lime mixture and pat onto both sides of chicken. Sprinkle chicken with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper to season both sides. Place chicken on hot grill rack and cook 5 minutes or until chicken is browned on both sides and no longer pink throughout, turning over once. Serve chicken with pineapple and lime wedges.

Read more: Mojito-Rubbed Chicken with Grilled Pineapple Recipe - Good Housekeeping 

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter

     I hope everyone has had a blessed Easter this year, I know I have. Our kids are 13 and 9, and they know there's no such thing as the Easter Bunny, so I didn't have to play that game this year. My Dad sent them some little baskets, candy, toothpaste, toothbrushes, and gift cards to Incredible Pizza, so we really didn't have to do much else for their baskets. Yesterday, I took the kids to Mardel to let them pick out a new Bible for each of them and had their names engraved on them. I also picked up a few books for myself at Mardel since they were all on sale for 25% off. I plan to blog about them after I read them. Then, last night, I volunteered in the nursery at church for two Easter services. I LOVE working with the babies. B.J. won a very nice Easter basket in the class he was in, and of course he shared with his sister. This morning we went to the last Easter service for the weekend at our church as a family.  Every year, service is AMAZING, I don't expect anything less from COTM. This year there were a total of 858 people who were baptized over the 5 Easter services and 238 elementary students gave their hearts to Jesus. It was truly a blessing to witness this.

     For dinner tonight, Brandon lit up the grill and we made hickory grilled, mojito-rubbed chicken, grilled pineapples and grilled squash, and for dessert... grilled banana boats! And I just had to try roasting a Peep... Dinner was AMAZING.  I think that it would have been very good with a coconut-rice.  It's definitely something we will make again. I plan to post the recipes tomorrow when I have more time.

     I didn't weigh-in or exercise today, I might not do it tomorrow either. I've eaten way too much easter candy/treats today and I'm afraid the scale will show it. I must work it off over the next few days. HA!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Grilled BBQ Pulled Chicken Breast and Grilled Fruit Salad (recipes)

     My hubby has been itching to use the grill lately.  He asked me if he could grill hot dogs for lunch.  EWWWW!! NO!! So he decided to look for some recipes that I can actually enjoy and came up with a very nice dinner.

     First, he grilled 4 large chicken breasts and added some BBQ seasoning while it was on the grill. When that was finished,  I pulled the chicken and put it in a large cast iron skillet, added 1/2 cup of shredded carrots and BBQ sauce to taste, and put it back on the grill.

     I cut up all the fruit into chunks and put them on skewers.  (Bananas, Pineapples, Pears, Apples, Strawberries, and Plums)  Brandon grilled each different fruit separately, because they require different amounts of time.  Since this was his first time grilling fruit other than pineapple, we weren't sure what to expect. Some of the fruit did burn, but this was a learning experience.

   While he was busy being "lord of the grill", I mixed up the dressing with 8 oz plain Greek yogurt, 1/2 cup honey, and a handful of chocolate mint leaves from my garden that I chopped up.

     When everything was ready, I served the grilled fruit on top of organic mixed spring greens and topped with the dressing.  My hubby and kiddos had their grilled BBQ pulled chicken on a bun with lettuce, but I skipped on the bun.  

     I've always loved grilled pineapples, but we have never tried grilling other fruits before.  I think I would prefer them fresh, besides the pineapple, but it was still very good. There's just something about grilled pineapple... The chicken was WONDERFUL!!!  This is definitely something we will have again.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Diet update: Week 8

     Once again, I've had a very busy week. I didn't really try any new recipes.  We've eaten pretty simple this week with baked chicken and veggies like green beans, corn, or peas for dinners.  I've noticed that my portion control has gotten a lot better over the past few months. I still eat from the small salad plates, but stop eating when I'm full, which doesn't take much for me these days. I used to feel like I had to finish everything on my plate so I wouldn't be wasteful. I did  make chili again this week, which is a family favorite, and usually is enough for two dinners. I've also decided that no matter what I do, I'll always crave chocolate. So instead of fighting it to the point that I go CRAZY, I just limit myself to a little bit each day.  I really like the Skinny Cow mint ice cream sandwiches, and will have one as a treat after dinner. That's usually enough to stave off my chocolate cravings.

     Saturday we had our 4th annual Easter party and egg hunt.  This year we had 11 kids (ages 6-13), over 200 eggs, and some very creative desserts/snacks, all of which were loaded with sugar. With the exception of the deli tray and fruit. After everyone snacked and visited a bit, I took the kids out to play some games while a few of my friends hid all of the eggs. We had a potato sack race for the kids and then for the adults. I actually won, which I wasn't expecting. I don't think I could have done that a year ago. Before I took the kids back to hunt for eggs, we sat in a circle and went through the story of Easter with my set of Resurrection Eggs. I let each child open an egg and read from the book what the item inside represents. Then it was time for the hunt.  I lined the kids up by age and gave the younger ones a bit of a head start by letting them go in pairs a few seconds before the next group. After all the eggs were found, I passed out some cute goody bags to each child. When I put on a party, I tend to go overboard sometimes, but it's totally worth it to me to see the kids having a good time. I have some pretty amazing friends with great kids, and I truly enjoy their company.

     Saturday evening, I worked in the nursery at church.  I consider it my break from my world. Fussing babies, diapers, and spit up... and I call that a break! Crazy huh? I love it though. I love holding and rocking babies and making them smile, while their parents are in church service hearing the Word of God.  I also love that our church thinks about even the littlest members. We have an AMAZING woman that comes to each nursery and sings Bible songs and plays with the babies. I actually think that's their favorite part of nursery as well, because they usually stop fussing and become captivated by whatever it is that she's doing. It's pretty cute!

Here's a few pics from our Easter party...

The most FUNtastic kids, EVER!
Ready to hop! 

Jody's Kitty Litter Cake... Nasty Right? Well, it sure did taste good!

My "mock" deviled eggs.

Da'Laine's "mock" sushi.

Kim's Dirt and Worms.

My "mock" grilled cheese sandwiches.