Thursday, March 31, 2011


Chirping birds woke me up this morning.  I knew it was a good sign, so I rolled over towards the window and realized:  no sunshine.  This is the sixth sunshineless day in a row!  I've been good about not complaining about the weather all spring break, but today the weather kinda ticked me off.  Please sunshine, I beg you to show yourself tomorrow!

Despite the lack of sunshine,  I managed to get out of bed and get reading.  I finished the book Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper.
It's a book written for middle school students; I read it for a book club.  The book is written from the point of view of a child who has cerebral palsy and cannot speak.  The main character Melody is extremely smart and has so much to say, but she can't say it.  Her thoughts and feelings were so real!  I cried bawled at three separate parts of this story.  It was so touching and sad, and I just wanted her to be able to talk!  Her parents were so loving and always believed in their daughter.  I get choked up just thinking about it!  I have no idea who I would recommend this book to, but it opened my eyes and has made me a more compassionate person.  It's perfect for teachers to read and reminds us that all students can and want to learn.

Enough mushy stuff,  my food today was uninteresting, more of the same- it was a 'left over' day.   I got in a nice walk at the gym in my new kicks and followed that by weight lifting.  Hopefully, I'll be up to 7.5 pounders by the middle of April!  I came home and instantly became a gardener- weeding the raised beds we have in our backyard.  I plan on doing a lot of posts about last year's garden, what we learned, and what this year's garden will be like.  Get excited!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Shoes for the Whole Family

Remember how shoe shopping for Buster was on my to-do list?  It's crossed off because I went shopping on Monday and found these booties!  Aren't they slimming?  I'll do a whole review of this product once I've taken my lil' guy on a long walk.
Even more exciting than Buster's booties are my new kicks!  After reading a Young House Love post about Sherry getting Reebok EasyTone sneakers, I secretly started wanting these shoes.  So I online shopped a bit and realized they were out of my price range.  There was no way I could justify spending $70+ on shoes I didn't actually need.  This is the part of my story where Marshalls swoops in an saves the day!

Last night when Kyle and I were at Marshalls, I found a selection of three different EasyTones for $39 a pair! SCORE!  That's the price I always pay for sneaks, so I quickly grabbed up these in pink.  Aren't they beautiful?  I wore them around all last night at home and was even tempted to sleep in them.   I resisted the temptation, but put them on first thing this morning and enjoyed a 40 minute walk on the treadmill.  After the walk, I noticed my leg muscles twitching with gladness.  I think the EasyTones did their job!   
After working out, I came home and got ready for my day by grabbing a lunch/snack.  Pomegranate Chobani, apple, and whole grain orange-craisin muffin.  DELISH!
A few hours and handfuls of pretzels later,  I sat down to a tasty bowl of Wolfgang Puck Chicken and Wild Rice soup.
Then Kyle came home and we set off on chilly walk at the park where Buster wore his booties.  The park we went to is a rehabilitated wetland so there was a lot of wildlife to enjoy.  We saw about 6 muskrats.  They are much uglier than I thought and have tails that look like snakes, but besides the muskrats, the walk was nice! 
Post walk, we put a Dominoes coupon to work.  Here's a picture of half my meal which was four slices of pineapple pizza and organic milk.  Yes, I feel like the person who orders two big macs and a diet coke.  I can't help it, whether I like it or not, I'm American.
What's your best Marshall's find?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Oat-Crusted Chicken Tenders and Oven-Roasted Kale

When I first got mt pups, I felt guilty about leaving them home all day in their kennels.  They were missing out on so much activity during the 9+ hours I was at work.  All it took was one day off work for me to realize that all my dogs do all day is sleep, but at least outside of the kennels they can snuggle.
I was planning on making fancy pizza rolls for dinner tonight- the same ones I was going to make last night.  However, around 4:30-5:00, I was unable to view the webpage with the recipe.  Since the dough would take 1+ hours to rise, I decided to go with plan B: oat-crusted chicken tenders and oven-roasted kale.  The chicken tenders were crunchy and tasty.  I highly recommend trying them! The yellow blob is honey.  It's not as photogenic as one would think.

Oat-Crusted Chicken Tenders (From Better Homes and Gardens) 

 Quick-cooking oats
dried bread crumbs
chicken strips
butter, melted

1.  Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees.
2.  Combine equal parts oats and bread crumbs in a shallow dish.  Add a pinch of salt and pepper.
3. Dip chicken in melted butter, then oat mixture.  (Think assembly line)
4.  Place chicken tenders on a baking sheet that has been coated with cooking spray.
5.  Bake chicken tenders in oven for 15 minutes or until cooked through.  (It took us 20 minutes)
6.  Enjoy chicken tenders dipped in any or all of your favorite sauces!

As for the oven-roasted kale, we followed this recipe exactly.    The kale was super crunchy and delicious.  The only down side to cooking it was the prep time- about 25 minutes of cutting and washing.  The washing took the longest because of some little 'friends' I found.  By friends, I mean bugs.  This is par for the course when you eat organically*; sometimes you will come across a bug or two.  I pulled off all the bugs (about 6) I could see, then thoroughly (we're talking one tiny leaf at a time) rinsed each leaf.  Plus, I'm telling myself the 15 minutes at 375 would kill anything!   *Note: the last bug I found in my produce was in July when there was a caterpillar in my broccoli.   I do not think there is anything okay about bugs in food.  It grosses me out, and I am composting the remainder of the kale to not have to deal with the critters.

Have you ever found a 'friend' in your produce?  What did you do?

My New Obsessions

Obviously, I have a few many obsessions- being green, garage sales, my dogs, my house, eating, movies.  The list goes on and on.  Best of all, new obsessions appear daily! Here's what I've recently started loving.

Online Shopping
Last weekend, I stayed up till 11:40 shopping on   I bought two shirts, one jacket, and a gift.  Since I spent over $50, I got FREE shipping.  SWEET!  Yesterday I hit up 1800PetMeds to get the little pups their Frontline and HeartGuard both of which were totally on sale!  And you guessed it- free shipping, but that's not all, I also googled "Coupon codes for 1800PetMeds" and found a 5% off code.  Seems like nothing until you realize I spent about $130 on this medicine.  I LOVE LOVE LOVE shopping online and finding coupon codes.  You can't magically find coupons in the checkout line at stores in the mall, but you can when you're 'checking out' online. Plus, everyone loves getting packages in the mail!

Here are some items I'm currently swooning over at websites.
Curtains at Anthropologie. I like these ones.... but I also like ALL of their other curtains.  Even the one with the enormous blue octopi!  Anyone have any coupon codes for Anthropolgie?  Preferably a 75% off one so I can actually afford some curtains!
After reading Tina's blog yesterday, I've got my eyes on these reusable produce bags.  With all the apples and oranges we buy at the grocery store, combined with weekly trips to the farmer's market coming up, I would really use these!  Plus, they're machine washable.
The Cuisinart's Shredding Ability
I have used a hand held grater for the longest time.  I would take 10s of minutes to shred carrots, sweet potatoes, zucchini.  Then there were the cuts I would get on my fingers.  Gross, right?  Then I discovered (or maybe Kyle discovered) the shredding adaptation of our Cuisinart.  It's been love ever since.  I've been shredding 3-4 carrots at a time and storing them in a container so that I can have shredded carrots on my salad each day.  Genius!  It majorly cuts down on the time it takes me to make lunches.
Here today's eats so far. 
Breakfast was a whole wheat bagel with organic cream cheese and a glass of local & organic milk.  Check out the stack of 12 magazines!  Just when I thought I had gone through all the outdated magazines in my house, I came across this dirty dozen.  Good news- I've already gone through them and pulled out all the interesting info and recipes!  After going through the mags and watching the TODAY show, I hit the gym.
The workout was decent, 30 minutes on the 'mill at around 4.1 MPH followed by lifting weights (5 pounders, baby!) then 15 minutes on the elliptical.  I was really surprised how many people were at the gym at 10:30 on a Tuesday.  Shouldn't they be working?  Also, there were some HOT workout outfits.  My workout attire isn't always stylish, but today I saw OVERALLS and a t-shirt tucked into gray biker shorts Both outfits were on guys. I was seriously wishing I had a spy cam to take pictures for you.  For now, you'll have to create a mental image. : )

I was starving for lunch, but as usual, nothing sounded good.  So I picked up some of this and some of that.  Plus some Annie's Organic pretzels.

I've told you a few of my favorite gym outfits.  I want to know what's the best outfit you've seen at the gym?

Monday, March 28, 2011


As the spouse off work today, it was my job to make dinner.  I had a grand plan to make homemade pizza rolls and fill them with Kyle's favorite 'toppings;' however, at 5:45 when I went to make them, I realized the dough would take over an hour to rise.  Boo.  This called for me to improvise.  There wasn't time to defrost meat and I've been tired of meat/poutry/fish lately so I had to get creative with the protein.  Beans were a likely choice, but I had already made a colorful salad and wanted something tasty to put on top of it.  Enter: hard-boiled egg.

I'd never hard-boiled an egg before so Kyle googled directions.  First, we covered the eggs (local and organic) with about an inch of water and put it on the stove to boil.  After the water got to a rolling boil, it was turned down to medium low for 10 minutes.
When the ten minutes had passed, the water was poured out and replaced by cold water and ice.  The eggs soaked in their ice bath until their muscles felt better for a few minutes.
Then they were taken out and cracked.  VOILA!
The egg was a perfect topping on my salad!  The greens were a mix of local from the farmer's market and the rest of a bag I had from Hyvee.  The salad was topped with carrot, red bell pepper, and Annie's Organic Cowgirl Ranch dressing.  Kyle and I also shared a fruit plate. I'm full after that dinner!
I'm off to watch Due Date with the family.  Although I'm sure Kyle and I will end up watching the movie while the dogs just do this again:

Drinking Diet Coke and Driving an SUV

Breakfast today was YUMMY- a whole wheat bagel with organic cream cheese and a glass of OJ.  I sure wish the organic food companies would make 'whipped' cream cheese that spread easily.  Until then, my cream cheese spreading will look like this.
After breakfast I headed to the DENTIST.  This was my first trip to the dentist since June 2009.  Crazy, right?  Especially since I am blessed enough to have full dental insurance through my job.  With how much I like a deal, I realized I couldn't keep letting my 'free' dental visits go by without using them.  The dental hygienist who cleaned my teeth was sooo talkative.  Don't you hate it when they ask you, "So have you been flossing everyday?"  The answer is always, "Of course not. Who flosses everyday?"  I didn't say this, but I did say, "Once a week." So then she went on a rant about about all the bacteria that multiplies on the food stuck between teeth.  YUCK! Then she compared not flossing to not washing your hands all day which of course, not one would ever do.  She also made the comment while flossing my teeth, "Whoa!  There's a picnic back here."  Embarrassing, but true.  I will now floss daily.

After the dentist, I ran a ton of errands and crossed a few items off of my spring break to-do list.  Then got home and played outside with Busta-move and the Sis.  He's such a little stretching boy!

One of the items I've already crossed of my list is changing the filter on the heater. Now, I never realized the value of changing filters.  While on walks, I would see them leaning against people's trash cans and think "how wasteful" and "why do people feel like they have to change those filters all the time?"  I wrote off changing the filter as an overindulgent American habit, like drinking Diet Coke or driving an SUV.  I strive to be a minimalist in my habits, so changing the filter would not be something I would be doing.  How serious was I about this?  We had only changed our filter once in 1.5 years.  

So what changed?  I attended a DIY: Residential Energy Conservation class at the Columbia Career Center earlier this month.  The class was informative, and it was there I learned the importance of changing air filters.  I learned that a dirty air filter will slow down the air flow which makes the system work harder and thus inefficiently.  This wastes energy!  We actually simulated this with a miniature room, air conditioner, and filter.  We measured the amount of energy used and what we found was astounding- the heating/cooling system had to work 33% harder when the filter is dirty.  Check out this filter we just took out:
Talk about a picnic! It was more than time for this filter to go into the trash and be replaced by a new one.  Hopefully our heating/cooling system will work much more efficiently with this clean beauty!
Now, you probably already knew the importance of changing your air filter, but this was a learning experience for me, so I thought I'd share.

I'm going to pretend  to be a dental hygienist here and ask how often do you floss your teeth?  Do you floss in the morning or at night?

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Sarah Palin's Alaska: A Spring Break Experience

You know how when you walk outside and you can see your breath and you think, man, I just want to go inside.  Well, that was how I felt this afternoon when Kyle and I embarked on a walk.  We bundled up as if we were going out into the Alaskan wilderness and headed out into a gray Missouri day.  I made it five houses before saying, "Yeah, I'm not going on this walk with you."  To which Kyle laughed, and I had to say, "No, I'm serious" and turn around.  Kyle kept on walking- for three hours while I enjoyed the warmth of my house and the enjoyment of cleaning.  Somebody's got to do it, right? 

When Kyle got home, the domestic goddess in me was baking crispy sweet potato fries.  I've tried these before and have always failed- the fries would be mushy.  Tasty, but mushy.  So today when I stumbled upon this recipe at Amy's Cooking Adventure, I thought they'd be worth another try.

I started off by cutting a pound of sweet potatoes into sticks.  (Kyle even commented on how fry-like they looked!)
Then I mixed together the egg wash and bread crumb mixture.  Check out the assembly line!
After the potatoes were dipped in the egg wash, rolled in the bread crumb mixture, and placed in a single layer on a prepared cooking sheet, they went into the oven at 450 degrees for 30 minutes.  The end result- a fry that was crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside.  PERFECTION.  Michael Pollen has a food rule that you can eat unlimited junk food as long as it's food you've made- so I ate this entire plate full and dipped them in ketchup.  Do yourself a favor and try this recipe.  You'll love it- and according to Mr. Pollen, you can eat as many as you want!
My dinner. going clockwise: kiwi, orange, FRIES, strawberry Stonyfield yogurt.
  Well, the husband and I are sitting down to watch SALT which we rented from the Red Box for free thanks to Courtney's promo code!  Hope you've had a great weekend!

Learning to Decorate

When Kyle and I bought our house in July 2009, I had no idea how to decorate.  I knew that I liked things that were decorated, but didn't know how to get there.  I'm slowly learning how to get there through reading blogs and magazines.  I'm also figuring out my decorating 'mistakes,' and I'm trying to fix them. 

Decorating Mistake #1  Not having a color palette

In 2009 I was in love with bright green.  The bedroom was painted green.  An accent wall in the kitchen was painted green- moss point green to be exact.  Then the guest bathroom was painted blue because it matched the shower curtain.  Through the next door over, you'll find the guest bedroom is Victorian Pewter (dark purple gray) because I love the color.  Then we have the rest of the house which is the same light brown/dark tan as when we moved into the house.  All of these colors collide into a mess of in-cohesiveness!

Decorating Mistake #2 Being matchy-matchy

Bed in a bag sets.  Matching shower curtains, bath rugs, and sink accessories.  Two of the same couches.  I'm guilty of all of this!  Initially, this made decorating easy for me- everything went together!  I was done with the bedroom, then the bathroom.  However, now when I go into these rooms, I notice they lack personality.  Additionally, since I wasn't mixing and matching, I couldn't envision any non-matching accessories in the rooms.

Check out that matching bed set!  Note how the curtains are made of the same fabric!

Decorating Mistake #3 ???????

I'm positive I'm making another mistake as I type this.  I'll let you know when I wise up and figure it out!

Now that you know my mistakes, I'd like to let you know how I'm learning from them.  First, I am claiming a color pallette.  Much like the folks at Young House Love with Sue the Napkin, I have Burt the Shower Curtain. I love the calm colors- light grays and browns mixed with the vibrant orange, teal, and yellow-green. 
This morning K and I hit up Lowes (to return those blue curtains- UGH!  They didn't go at all!) and while we were there, I picked up some paint swatches for the bedroom! The colors range from a gray called Cold Steel to a green called Pale Moss Green.  They'll be hanging in my room all week as I attempt to make a decision.  K is already a little unenthusiastic about repainting the bedroom.  My rationalization for it is that we did such a shotty job the first time, that we'd have to paint it again before we move any way.  Why not enjoy the color ourselves?

As far as the matchy-matchy problem (and a problem that is!), well- check out this shower curtain post.  Goodbye blue, blue, blue!  Also, I've already moved the curtains out of my bedroom.  They are currently hanging in the living room.  Additionally, I have a 'hot' date with the iron  and a different duvet cover.  Hopefully these little changes will make a big impact! 

Thanks for being patient with me while I learn to decorate!  Any advice or encouragement is appreciated!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Spring Break Snow Day

Spring break got off to a snowy snowy start today, and I was happy to stay cozy (re: in my pajamas) inside working on my to-do list.  The first thing I got to was organizing the magazines underneath my coffee table.   These were all magazines I had read through before, but they all contained some information I wanted to keep.  So I spent two hours going through 19 magazines of various titles including Martha Stewart Living, Better Homes and Gardens, Sunset, and Southern Lady.  These are not magazines I subscribe to (with the exception of BHG), but my mom's neighbor subscribes and gives the magazines to my mom who then passes them on to me!  She also passes on her People magazine (a favorite!), but those go in the recycle bin right after I read them because let's be honest- there's nothing in them worth knowing/keeping.  That being said, I memorize just about all the celebrity gossip the first time I read it. 

Back to the two hours I spent going through the magazines, I pulled out dozens of recipes, crafts, decorating ideas, and pictures of items I want to buy!  Afterwards I had three piles:
The top left pile will be reused. I will take them to school for the kids to look through and cut out pictures for various projects.  The top right pile contains all of the pages I am keeping while the bottom middle pile went straight to the recycle bin.  After all of that organizational fun, I had some lunch.  A can of organic chicken and wild rice soup, orange (not organic), apple, apple sauce, and some Kettle Chips (not pictured).
After lunch,  I organized all of the recipes into my recipe binder.  It's safe to say I cannot WAIT for summer's bounty- zucchini cake cookies, fresh vegetable lasagna, and blueberry cheesecake!  I will be Martha this summer with the amazing food I bring to parties.

Around 4, I hit up the kitchen again for a snack.  Looked out the back door and saw this.  The snow had stopped at this point.  I honestly don't mind the snow, but I hope all of my flowers are okay! 
 Back to my snack... I chowed down on an Orange-Craisin Muffin fresh out of the oven, two organic kiwi, and a glass of local organic milk.  The kiwi and muffin were a weird taste combination, so I just ate all of the kiwi and then the muffin.
Later on, I went to the gym.  Only got in 40 minutes of cardio, but personally, I'm just happy I got out the door and to the gym.  Maybe tomorrow I'll put a little more effort into my sweat-session.  Dinner was Bruschetta Chicken Bake.  This dinner is usually one of those meals we make creepy "Mmmmm" noises while eating and then fight over the leftoevers the next day, but tonight the chef added a little to much stuffing (re: twice as much).  It was quite the dry dinner, and we're going to have to force ourselves to eat the leftovers tomorrow.  However, despite tonight's experience, I highly recommend this recipe.  Just be sure to use a box of stuffing mix instead of a BAG of stuffing mix.  Even if it's an bag of organic stuffing mix that's on sale for 49 cents. Here's to hoping tomorrow's dinner (whatever that might be) will be better!

Much Ado about a New Rug

A few weeks ago, Kyle and I were scouring the big box stores- Lowes, Home Depot, Ace, Menards- for a faucet.  While in these stores, my eyes wandered.   In Lowes, I found some curtains I just had to try in the living room.  Menards had beef jerky, milk, and Cheerios; I thought that was weird.  Menards also had a decorative area rug for $15 that I just couldn't pass up.  Check out that pattern!!!  It immediately reminded me of Young House Love.
The dimensions of the rug are 3'3" X 4'11."  Awkward, right?  Since the rug arrived in my house a few weeks ago, it has been all over the place.  First in the living room.  It was obviously too small for the space. 
Then it moved to the bedroom.  Replacing a lighter colored rug we had in front of our bed.  It's a good size, but it seemed too dark. 
So then I tried it in the hallway.  Nope; didn't work there.  Plus, as Kyle reminded me, carpets hallways don't really need rugs.
Next I moved it to a spot where I knew it would be too big, but in a laundry room, who cares, right?   The verdict is- I LIKE IT! 
Here's a before shot of the rug that was in there.  It was free from the in-laws and served us well for a year and a half
 but I like the new one better. 

Where Have I Been?

Whew!  It's been awhile since I've updated.  I'd like to have some grand excuse for you as too why I've been MIA, but I don't give excuses. : )  The important thing is that I'm back now and will be updating this regularly since I am on Day 1 of SPRING BREAK, and the weather around these parts is supposed to be yucky.  My loss; your gain!  jk- I'm looking forward to sharing projects and food with you!

Spring Break 2011 promises to be epic productive.  I spent many minutes creating a to-do list for the coming week. Hopefully by next Sunday, I will be able to report I've accomplished all of my tasks.  Without further introduction, my to-do list for Spring Break 2011:

*vacuum, dust, clean the whole house
*change filter in heater
*clear plants from around the air conditioner
*organize and thoroughly clean hall closet
*grade a pile of papers
*go through the dozens magazines beneath the coffee table.... pull out stuff I want, recycle the rest
*find a spot for the coffee table
 *research school board candidates for the April 5 election
 *clean bird cages
*clean and organize the garage
*hose off patio furniture and cushions
*go to the dentist (haven't been in almost 2 years!)
*find a spot for my new rug
*iron clothes
*iron curtains and add more clips to the top of them/decide if I want to keep them
*send gift and card to a friend (maybe that friend is you?!)
*buy materials for and help Kyle build a clothesline
*plant a garden
*visit HaHa Tonka State Park and Bridal Cave in Camdenton, MO
The spring at Ha Ha Tonka
*hit up the outlet mall at the Lake of the Ozarks
*workout daily
*use a Barnes and Noble Groupon
*shoe shop for Buster

Obviously, I'm in for a wild spring break! I started it off right with a delicious breakfast of a whole wheat bagel with organic cream cheese.  No picture though-  The bagel didn't last long enough for me to take one! : )