Happiness Project: Fruits and Veggies As A Snack

I want to eat more fruits and vegetables as a snack.  This is why I forced myself NOT to make peanut butter and chocolate chip cookies last week even though I was craving it.

I have friends who swear by smoothies…including green smoothies.  I love mango smoothies and peanut butter, banana, and oatmeal smoothies.  But I found the calorie content is much higher than I would normally eat for a snack. I am also keeping a food diary on My Fitness Pal again.

So I tried to make a carrot/apple/banana green smoothie and I even followed a  recipe.


And it was nasty.  I tried to give it a fair shot and drink the whole thing to which my husband replied:  “How are you enjoying your seaweed?”


My kids tried it and said it was gross.  I cannot say I really blame them.

What I learned from this whole experiment is I like fruits and vegetables.   I just do not prefer them all blended together.  I have had a couple salads this week.  I also have had banana halves, fruit and lowfat yogurt, and raisins.  I will continue to eat more fruits and veggies with my meals and as a snack.   I am a little afraid to venture into the green smoothie territory again.

My husband’s dessert blog

Some people make a New Years resolution to lose weight.  My husband’s resolution was to make a new dessert every week.  I told him since he was taking the time to try brand new recipes and take pictures of every single one (and I still laugh when my nephew said–“Why do you have all these pictures of food on your computer?) he really ought to create a blog.


So Weekend Dessert is officially launched.  You will find some gourmet delicious desserts on it.  I have always been a hot fudge sundae type person.  My husband has helped me expand my horizons.


My Real News Years Resolution: Trying To Focus

Here is January 24th and I have taken almost a whole month off from blogging.  That was not really planned.  No, there was not any major crisis that occurred the last two weeks and I am not any more busy than I am other times of the year (less so, actually).

I was reflecting on Everyday Mom and my life in general.  I subscribe to many blogs and read wonderful posts.  I have seen stay-at-home moms like myself turn blogging into a full fledged career with book deals, interviews, seminars etc.  I had no aspirations when I started this blog.  I wanted an outlet to write and remember some of the creative activities I do with my children. If I could get some perks along the way or reach out to other moms along the way…win, win.

Some blogs I read are focused.  They center on frugal living, crafting, food, homeschooling, or couponing.  Mine covers all these things (well except for maybe the couponing).  Sometimes I feel like it is a potluck of too many topics.  A blog with ADD.

But yet that is me.  I love organized people.  I adore them. I married one. Schedules, lists, cleaning jobs, laundry routines–I crave it.  Yet a part of me fights it.  That part is strong and she usually wins.  Too often my life looks like how my attic does right now…a somewhat organized mess.


Back in October I tried to have a “Going Dark” day one day a week as I am very distracted by facebook, e-mail, and the computer in general.  It proved to be a good thing–I got housework completed in record time. But  I realized how much I use the computer for day to day things like looking up addresses, researching news articles, ordering products etc.  Did it make sense to put all these things off for a day?  Not when I need to look up an address for someone’s house because I have to be there in a few hours or that I have to register my daughter for swim lessons on a certain day?

Through this experiment and learning more about my anxiety, I discovered that I put off doing what I SHOULD be doing (like laundry, vacuuming etc.) and do what I WANT to do.  I am relaxed by things I WANT to do (like facebook, running, reading a good book) versus what needs to be done.

Before I do anything I don’t want to do (or am unsure about) I fight a little bout of anxiety.  Sometimes when I need to write an article it takes me 45 minutes to focus and get in the zone before I can begin.  Once I get into it, I fly with it. Word and phrases come naturally.  It is the initial “start-up” where I am trapped.

And it’s not solely with writing.  It with other things…such as housework, craft projects, making dentist/doctor appointments, meal planning, etc.  Sometimes it is the simple task of beginning a new day.  Some mornings I get out of the bed at the latest possible minute I can without causing everyone to run late on my account.  It’s not the “my bed is warm and cozy and I want to stay in it” nor is it “I’m so tired because I’m not getting enough sleep.”  It is that I don’t want to start the day because it is uncertain. What will it bring?  Once I get a chance to wake up, get my morning coffee and bowl of oatmeal–I’m fine.  Again it is the initial “start up.”

The past two weeks I have been praying fervently that God would cast away that “morning anxiety” and give me a spirit of motivation.  I am happy to say the past couple mornings I have awoken before the alarm ready to start the day.  I have even gone to morning classes at the gym and maintained my triathlon training routine.  I know we cannot base everything on feelings because they change quite often.  I am continuing to pray that I find healthy ways to combat my anxiety and push through it even on bad mornings.

One of my New Years resolutions was to be more disciplined and organized…and waste less time.  For me that is not maintaining a sparking clean house (it’s just not possible with little ones running around) but rather fight distractions so I can do what needs to be done FIRST.  Here it is Day #24 of the year and I have probably failed more days than I have succeeded.  Understanding how easily distracted I am and accepting it is helping me deal with it.  I find myself throughout the day saying, “OK I am doing Task #1 right now, then what will I do next?  What needs to be done this afternoon–what can wait until tonight?”  It does not come naturally to me at all.  LIke I said, I love the scheduled people who sees it and does it.

With running, you train and train until you can accomplish long races.  It doesn’t come with the first run.  I hurt all over and want to quit.  As your muscles get stronger, you learn proper form, and your brain tells your body to keep moving–it becomes automatic.  I am hoping my disorganized, out of focus routines can become a little more structured in 2013.

New Recipes To Try

This past weekend I had some extra time in the kitchen to try out some new recipes.  If you still have garden fresh tomatoes (and we are about done), this soup is wonderful!  It is easy to make.  Put it with a grilled cheese sandwich and you have the perfect lunch.

I also LOVE to bake and keep coffee cakes and quick breads in my freezer.  I attend both a MOPS group and a Women’s Bible Study called Coffee Break.  I have to bring brunch to each every few months.  It saves time to simply pull something out of the freezer.

I had overripe bananas laying around.  Instead of making banana bread or muffins like I usually do, I made this delicious coffee cake.  I had planned on freezing it.  It looked so good coming out of the oven that the kids and I ate it over a couple of days.  I will have to wait until my bananas are overripe to make another one.

What recipes do you like to try in the fall?  I hope to do some more baking this week with the apples I recently picked.

Menu Plan Monday – September 3/12

I officially ended my summer tonight with a bike ride by sunset.  It was a bittersweet feeling seeing all the kids skateboarding and playing soccer in their front yards, the adults walking dogs, and the bikers like myself taking advantage of the beautiful evening.  It is hard to believe in a few short weeks it is going to be dark at 5:00 PM, probably rainy, and cooler.  I LOVE summer!  I do like fall too.  I don’t like the summer to fall transition.

To make things easier, I have spent the last few weeks getting my son’s preschool schedule together (I’m homeschooling him just for preschool), buying school supplies for my daughter, making some freezer meals for busy fall afternoons, and filling my freezer with muffins and breads.  And of course a more organized meal plan.

Here’s our meal plan for the first week of school!

Monday:  Tortilla casserole

Tuesday:  Country Chicken Rice Soup (In the fall/winter I do a soup about once a week as it is quick and easy and can cook in the Crock Pot all day)

Wednesday:  My husband’s meatloaf

Thursday:  Zucchini Boats 

Friday: Out to eat (?)

Saturday:  Homemade Pizza

Thankfully after some failures in past, we have a good corn crop this year!  So hopefully garden fresh corn on the cob with one or two of these meals!

I’m linking this up with MPM

Favorite zucchini recipes

I never thought I would become a fan of zucchini bread and muffins until last fall when a friend gave me several large zucchini to take home.

Here is what I have made so far this season…

These are the best zucchini chocolate chip muffins!  I bake them and they are instantly gone within 24 hours. My kids love them!  I also bake a gluten-free batch and they turn out great.

Zucchini Chocolate Bread with Chocolate Chips.  Very easy to make!  My oldest daughter brought this as a birthday treat last year and the first graders ate it up.

Zucchini carrot bread.  My first time making it.  Two out of three children plus myself enjoyed it.  Great way to use some of the carrots in your garden or fridge.

Zucchini chips.  Easy to make but you need to allow yourself some time.  Slice the zucchini very, very thin.  I had to use a food processor.  I tried to prepare a batch slicing by hand and they did not turn out.  Cover parchment paper over a cookie sheet and lay slices on the paper.  Spray with cooking spray.  Sprinkle with sea salt.

Do NOT use aluminum foil.  I did this on my first attempt and it was like peeling stickers off a paper–most of the slices broke.

Bake at 225 degrees for 45 minutes.  Turn the cookie sheet around and bake an additional 30-45 minutes.

They should look like potato chips. And they taste delicious!


My first positive cake decorating experience

A few years ago I made a list of things I will never do.  At the very top of the list was cake decorating.  After too many disastrous, I-am-way-too-embarrassed-to-show-you-pictures birthday cakes, I threw in the towel.  But the over last year I have formed a more positive relationship with my oven.  Baking has become one of my favorite hobbies.

So when the opportunity to make a birthday cake for an end of the summer/birthday party came my way, I seized it!  This is probably the first actual cake I have ever decorated that turned out halfway decent.  This is a simple flip flop cake that would be fun for a Labor Day barbeque or little girl’s birthday party.

My cake decorating attempts have only begun.  I have not one, not two, but three kid’s birthdays this fall!  I am already getting some ideas.

BTW – You should probably never say you will not do something.  There are some things on my original list that I currently do and enjoy.

Menu Plan Monday – August 3/12

Vacation is absolutely wonderful, but it is great to be in a routine again.  I actually got out of bed at 6:30 AM and exercised.  Which was a good thing because everyone and their mother was out running or biking.  Our town is supposed to get hit with the high 90’s all week.  Us Pacific Northwest dwellers are not used to heat nor humidity.  Thank goodness for central air…though I would trade it in for a pool.  Here is what we are eating this week…

Monday:  Macaroni and Tuna Casserole and brown sugar glazed carrots

Tuesday:  Meatloaf (husband is trying a new recipe)

Wednesday:  Gumbo (also made by the husband–one of my favorites!)

Thursday:  Summer Chicken Stir Fry (and hopefully using some veggies from the garden if they ripen by then!)

Friday: Parents Date Night (if we get a babysitter)

Saturday:  Hot Dog over the fire pit in the backyard

Sunday:  Dinner on your own

I’m linking this with MPM

Menu Plan Monday – July 2, 2012

Last week was VBS at our church and both my husband and I were involved.  VBS always equals very simple meals.  Now post VBS, our church got hit with some sort of virus.  We have counted at least 22 people with the same stomach bug who were at VBS last week.  All three of our kids are recovering from it, the husand currently has some form of it, and so far I am off the hook (though thinking I could still be doomed).

So our meal plan this week is not etched in stone, but hopefully everyone recovers at least by the 4th of July…

Monday:  Ham and Cheese Quiche

Tuesday:  Tasty Taco Bake (have not made it in years, just came across the recipe…will post it later)

Wednesday:  4th of July barbeque with friends

Thursday:  Chicken Stir Fry

Friday:  Hot Dog Roast over our firepit in the backyard

Saturday:  Husband’s Homemade Pizza

I love the summer outdoorsy cooking.  It’s supposed to be a warmer week here in the Pacific Northwest.  We’re ready for some heat!

I’m linking this up with MPM