Monday, August 29, 2011

A day at the beach

This past weekend we went up to visit my family in a cute lake town in WI, called Lake Mills. My family has been spending summers up there since my mom was young so I hold it near and dear to my heart. It has grown so much since I was little and it’s not just a summer town anymore, yet it still holds so much charm. Most of my extended family has moved up there on a full-time basis to escape all the hustle and bustle of the Chicagoland area and have a slower pace of life living by the lake.
My cousin was so gracious to open her home to us to spend the weekend. As a token of our appreciation, I picked some just ripe tomoatoes from our garden and wrapped them up to give them.
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We had a great weekend; we couldn’t of asked for more perfect weather! Friday night we cooked brats from Glenn’s Meat Market for dinner. These bratwursts are amazing and they have a trillion different varieties!!!! We had the parmesan and garlic and the traditional Sheboygan, DELICIOUS. Warning, you can’t go back to a Johnsonville brat after these… I just found out due to popular demand from non-locals, Glenn’s will ship to you. YEAH!!!  I will for sure be ordering some next summer since we brought some back from this trip. Afterwards, the rest of the family came over for a bonfire. It was great to catch up with everyone since we don’t get to see them more than a couple times a year.
Saturday morning we hit the beach about 9:45 to get a good spot before the beach gets busy as more and more people are discovering this hidden gem.  Sandy Beach on Rock Lake is a cute little beach that really hasn’t changed much from when I was young and the water is still pretty clean.

A beautiful lake (it’s still early so not too many boats out yet…so peaceful)
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Cute little bait and snack shop
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Beautiful trees and covered pavillions for parties
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one of the many areas of boat slips (they are a HOT commodity, especially on the beach side of the lake)
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We played in the sand and water for a couple hours. Reed LOVED, LOVED, LOVED the beach. That makes me so happy, seeing him enjoy a place I did as a kid. We hope to make this part of our summers every year.
This first one I love…I am playing with my new zoom lens…wow what a difference in pictures it makes!
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going to the water to fill up truck bucket 
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he did such a great job carrying it back without spilling
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then off for a ride on my cousin’s boat
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There are some beautiful homes on the lake…I’ll take one of these please…
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I’d say this was a great way to end “summer”.


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Extra Tomato Paste

or anything left over in a can that you only need a small amount of for a recipe?
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Freeze it. I use the Beaba baby food containers I froze Reed’s food in when I made it, since they have a lid. You can also use an ice cube tray-the ones with the covers are ideal, but you can just wrap it since you only need it in your freezer until it’s solid and then pop them out and put in a baggie with a label or if you have a covered container like mine, just keep it in there to be “green” and save a plastic bag. Smile Measure out in increments that you most commonly use. For the tomato paste, I did 2 TBSP since I can easily cut the paste in half while it's still frozen in the event I only needed 1 TBSP for a recipe. Next time you need just a little tomato paste, you can just grab one out of the freezer and add to your recipe. I do this for leftover stock or broth if I don’t think I will be able to use it in the 7-10 days from opening. I do that one based on ounces.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Have you tried…

Starbuck’s Iced Coffee blend?  I found out about it while reading the New Nostalgia blog. Have you seen this blog? Amy’s blog is very inspiring to get back to simpler times, eat more healthfully and to focus on what really is important in life. Check it out, HERE.
She posted this recipe for a 3-ingredient chocolate almond iced latte using the new Starbuck’s iced blend. I had been looking for it in the grocery stores, but ultimately just picked it up at the Starbuck’s at Barnes & Noble last week. The other day, I had to get a couple things at Target so I picked up the Dark Chocolate Almond Milk and made it for the first time that afternoon. Ohhhh wow, it is heavenly! I must confess, I added just a splash of a terrible, terrible vice (Sweet Italian Cream Coffee Mate creamer) to give it a creamier taste. I was always a half & half drinker until I had to cut back on any dairy products while I was nursing to see if it helped Reed’s eczema.   Now I am addicted to the stuff…Anyway, this latte is a great afternoon pick me up! It’s hard to have just one though; at 120 calories for the almond milk (yikes, I drink the 35 calorie version in my Cinch shakes), this could be a bad habit ( I am drinking one right now). Smile
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 How about it? Treat yourself (and hey, it’s A LOT cheaper than running to Starbuck’s for an iced latte…now if I can find out how to make a good Pumpkin Spice Latte come fall…)
Have a great weekend! What are your plans?

Cinch Button

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Everyday Beauty Faves

There are a few makeup must haves that I use every day which are safe to use and give great results! Unless I am lounging around at home(which is all the time now that I have a 2 year old, wink wink), these are what I use everyday when I leave the house. It’s a quick enough regimen but leaves me looking put together for being out and about with Reed. You never know who you will run into…
I get most of my makeup items at Sephora or QVC(sometimes they have great deals on kits or larger sizes of products). I know ULTA also carries Bare Escentuals, too.
Bare Escentuals Foundation Primer-smooths out your pores and helps foundation last ALL day.
BE Primer
Bare Escentuals Foundation-it looks like it’s powder-but finishes like a cream and gives amazing coverage. What I love the most is doesn’t looks like you have makeup on-you do need to use the BE Flawless Application brush, though. I have been using this for about 7 years; even before I paid attention to being more “green” simply because I loved the results and it blends in so well with your skin. I have had my brush since I began using it and it’s still in impecable shape-all I do is wash it with facial cleanser every so often. It’s worth the investment and necessary to achieve the best results.
Bare Escentuals MakeupBE Foundation Brush
Bare Escentuals Mineral Veil-finishing powder that really makes a huge difference. Even if you think your skin looks great with just the foundation, wait until you put on the powder. It’s translucent, very light weight and gives such a great finish which controls shine. Use with “flawless application” brush above.
BE Mineral Veil
Shisedo Eye Lash Curler-I am not one of the fortunate who has naturally curled lashes…so if you are like me-nothing makes you look more awake than curling your lashes. Don’t even compare this to a drugstore eyelash curler! This might just be my desert island item. It’s not inexpensive as far as eyelash curlers go, but I have converted my mom who has the same stick straight lashes I do. I love how well it curls my lashes soooo much that sometimes after washing my face before bed, I curl my lashes in case I bat them at my hubby…he he Still flirting with your husband is a good thing. Smile
Shiseido Eyelash Curler
Tarte-Lights, Camera, Lashes Mascara-I am REALLY picky about mascara and I think I have pretty much tried them all at every price point. I fell in love with this one and was thrilled when I realized it was also safe and gives better results than other regular mascaras. I love that it builds and gives length all at the same time but doesn’t flake and stays put all day. Comes off easy at the end of the day, too.
Bare Escentuals Blush-ignore this awful looking color in the picture. One thing to keep in mind about Bare Escentuals colors-they seem really garish, but because you use soooooo little, they are very soft and pretty. Plus, they last forever so you also get great cost savings.
BE Blush
And last but not least…
Bare Escentuals Buxom Lip Gloss-this helps give lips a subtle fullness and has great colors…again, you need to try it to see it’s not too bright.
BE Buxom Lip Gloss

So, these are what I found to give me great results and I can feel good about using them. I hope I have inspired you to “green” up your makeup. Give some a try and let me know how you like them.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Garden Bounty Dinner

Finally, our garden is giving us tomatoes. They really seemed to take a long, long time to ripen this year. Of course, they are all ripening at once instead of the succession time we had hope for so I am scrambling to try to think of recipes to use them up. I hope Jeff is in the mood for tomatoes like every day. 
We have some Early Girl red, Heirloom Cherokee purple and some yellow cherry tomatoes so I thought we would have a tomato tart and a salad for dinner, no shortage of veggies there!
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I usually just make a pie crust from scratch because it’s so easy (this recipe makes 2 so you can freeze the other one for later) and you can find a delicious recipe here or you can certainly just buy pie dough that you “roll out” so you can fit it in the tart shell vs the pre-shaped pie crust.
I used Martha Stewart’s recipe for a tomato tart. Since I had 3 different varieties, I used all 3.
Look at these sliced up…YUM!
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Fresh basil from the garden to sprinkle on top…
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And here is the finished tart! It was delicious…..
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To go with it, I made a “what do I have in the fridge” salad…
I had just bought boston lettuce (the couple plants I had in the garden are toast from the heat we had this summer), I had some leftover cannellini beans, red onion, cucumbers, yellow cherry tomatoes and capers with just a simple red wine vinagrette (red wine vinegar, extra virgin olive oil and salt and pepper to taste). You can start with a 1/4 cup vinegar, 1/3 cup olive oil and then a pinch or two of salt and pepper and adjust accordingly. I am really starting to love challenging myself to be creative and use up what I have in the fridge/pantry.
I always just dress the amount of salad we are going to eat that night otherwise it gets all soggy as a leftover…
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Besides a tremendous amount of veggies, we also got some protein from the beans and the cheese in the tart. It was such a satisfying, healthy meal. I hope you try it. Smile

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Pottery Barn Outlet

We just got back in town last night from going to MI. Jeff had to go up there for business and ironically the day before he told me, I had just searched where Pottery Barn Outlets were…as it turns out it was only an hour or so away from Troy, MI. When he told me he needed to go up there, I was like, “YES, Reed and I can go shopping while you are working.” That sounds so wrong, doesn’t it? Well, it’s very fitting then that PB outlet wasn’t that great, for at least what I was looking for. I did see some good prices on the rugs and lamp bases and a few furnture pieces. Thought about a rug or a floor lamp, but the issue was where was I going to put it, we were already filled to the brim in the suv( although I am not the master packer that Jeff is, he assured me on the way home he could of got it to fit). However, most of the things I saw and would be interested weren’t that inexpensive, more like what you would find on sale at a regular PB store. So, if you have bumming about not having an outlet near you as I was, don’t fret- I wasn’t that impressed since I feel like the sales at the regular store are pretty good.

Sorry, I am so new to this blogging mindset that I totally flew out of the house and forgot to grab my camera-it would have been good to show you pictures, huh?

Monday, August 1, 2011

Deep Clean Kitchen

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Shortly after becoming a mom, I really struggled with how to get it all done; actually, I still struggle with it sometimes and am making new practices and habits for myself that let me accomplish more all the while spending time with Reed. So, this is what I have found works for me so far…
Every evening I put the kitchen “back together” which includes wiping down the table, counters, sink, cooktop etc. after all the dishes are done and I can start the next morning with a clean kitchen. For me, I have realized that I hate coming downstairs in the morning to a messy kitchen more than the 30 minutes or so after a busy day that it takes to get it all clean. There are days that I really have to remind myself of that! 
However, at least twice a month I try to give the kitchen a REALLY deep clean and wipe down practically every surface. I have always loved a clean house, but would get lazy and put things off and then it’s WAY WORSE and for sure I don’t want to clean then…so sadly, it’s taken me this many years to figure out myself and what I need to do to stay on top of things and keep a pretty clean home.
I usually light a great smelling candle (right now it’s Beach from Harry Slatkin candles-if you aren’t familiar, you can get them at Bath & Body Works or QVC) and put on some music or the tv to keep me company.
I start by using Shaklee’s scour off to scrub the sink and let it sit a few mintutes while I am taking everything off the counters and wiping them. It smells just like cherries! (This product has many other uses, I will have to talk about those in another post.)
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For the deep cleaning of the countertops, I go with a damp microfiber cloth and a drop or two of Shaklee’s Dish Soap.Blog Pics 036I wipe the cooktop really well and any cabinets that need it. It always seems to be the cabinet above the microwave that collects grease from the fan on the microwave. I also wipe down the utensil crock and the little tray by the cooktop that holds salt, pepper and olive oil for easy access during cooking. I wash the tray with soapy water and wipe everything on it down.
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It does take about 45 min, but I think it’s so worth it when the kitchen ends up looking like this…
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at least for a few hours. Smile