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100 days

My sister-in-law, Kristen, is doing this cool project where she does a painting every single day for 100 days.  I think maybe I should try to do the same with my blog to help me get better about writing and posting… a post every day for 100 days… which would be from today until November 4th… I wonder if I could do it?  I’m not as disciplined, but I guess that’s the point.  Some days, I forget to even answer my text messages (I answer them in my head, but then it never quite gets alllll the way back to the person…)!

Today was “Ema” day (my mom came over) and A LOT got done! Not in order:

2 loads of laundry (1 of which is folded but maybe not yet put away), 1 kid to eye doc, pilates class, 3 blackberry cobblers made (one for us and 2 to take to a family gathering), library books read, garden picking (eggplant, tomatoes, cucumbers, okra and cherry tomatoes), all kids toenails and fingernails clipped, I showered!, kids bathed and fed dinner, cleaned out fridge, set up hummingbird feeder, learned how hummingbirds build a nest, and drew and colored pictures of hummingbirds, picked up some things we needed from the store…

Phew!

I also was able to get a little work done for Beautycounter and for Jessie Mackay, a local artist and friend who I help with marketing and sales.  We decided to try something fun and are setting up a daily auction instagram account!  You can follow it here.  Each day, we’ll post a new painting for sale and first person to reply in the comments with their email address we’ll send the invoice to.  Most all of the paintings will be under $200 and are unframed oil on board paintings.  A few that are odd sized will come custom framed.   The first one will post on Friday, July 29th – so go follow @jessiemackayart now!

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My little cutie at the eye doc.

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One of the blackberry cobblers. Recipe is here but it doesn’t need as much sugar as it calls for. You can do less than a cup and also we just sprinkled a teaspoon or two on top instead of 1/4 cup!

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1/100 done!  99 more posts to go…

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Lately…

Wow – it has been so long since I last posted.  Sorry ’bout that.  A few things on my mind lately…

This new album by Ellie Holcomb is great.  Especially love Broken Beautiful.  Ellie married a good friend of my sweet college roommate and her husband…so I feel like I know her, even though I really don’t.  It was fun to see her project from kickstarter (which is also awesome btw) turn into her amazing album though!  Listen to it here.

Also, I made these scrambled eggs the other day and they are perfect.   I didn’t do the tomatoes and mushrooms but that would be good too.  Just never knew this was the way to scramble them right!  Promise me you won’t curse like Gordon does…even if you do burn your toast too:)

That’s all for today!  Hopefully I’ll be back more frequently!

Cheers,

Anna

 

 

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Working on…

Meal Planning.  This might sound crazy to people who know me (and how I like PLAN THINGS AHEAD) but I really struggle with meal planning.  I think it is because I also give into impulsiveness…ooooh just saw Ina make a perfect roast chicken (folks, if you wanna cook a chicken, just follow this recipe) OR a bunch of yummy things just popped up on Pinterest…and then whatever I bought earlier that week at Harris Teeter just has to sit in the fridge and deal with it (but then I have to deal with it later, of course).  So I need to make a plan and, for the most part, stick to it.  Especially since it is my JOB to fix our family 3 healthy meals a day.  Plus snacks.  Speaking of which, if you don’t already keep up with 100 Days of Real Food, go check it out too.  I started reading it about a year ago and it has been extremely helpful with cutting down on the amount of processed foods we consume.

Today, I was inspired to get started on this by Pawley’s Island Posh (cute blog!) who referred me to this blog and motherload of genius ideas for meal planning…i.e. making repeating schedules on my google calendar…why didn’t I think of that especially since I’m notorious for leaving my list at home and having to play the memory game.

Anyway, it is too helpful not to share so go check it all out:

(image from lifeingraceblog.com)

I’ll post any good recipes I find as well as keep you up on any other tips I come across as I tackle this.  Got any meal planning tips to share?

And so I’ll leave you with this photo from Sunday afternoon.  We had to get outside, even though it was FREEZING and took a walk in our local arboretum.  Rand found some pinecones that are now hanging with peanut butter and birdseed in the yard.  I guess the birds got the first meal plan:)  Whoops.

 

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Kale Chips

Yesterday Rand, Aunt MD and I strolled down to the farmers’ market and got some goodies, including a huge bag of Kale for $2.

So, last night we made some of these kale chips.  They were YUMMY!  Even Wes liked them…and has now decided that he loves kale.

(photos: Food Network)

You are welcome to stick to the recipe, but here’s what we did (after looking at several recipes):

  • We omitted the garlic and lemon
  • Washed the kale and made sure it was as dry as possible.
  • Rip off the spine so you just have the leaves.  Keep the pieces on the larger side because they shrink.
  • Put them on a baking sheet (or several sheets) and toss with a little bit of olive oil  (1-2 tablespoons)
  • Make sure the kale is not on top of other kale otherwise it will steam cook instead of roast/crisp up
  • Put in a 400-425 degree oven for 10-15 min.  This step depends on your oven.  Keep checking because it cooks really fast!!!  Some of the larger pieces I was able to flip over.
  • When the kale is crispy, take out and sprinkle with coarse kosher salt.  (I read in one recipe it helped to salt AFTER it cooked.
  • Put in a bowl and munch on while you cook dinner!
We were planning on having the kale chips as a side dish, but it cooked down so much, we ended up having as an appetizer before dinner.  It was perfect!
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Go to Harris Teeter Today

Yesterday was the 7th anniversary of my dad’s death and I thought I would maybe do a blog about him but I just wasn’t up to it so…instead I thought I’d tell you about a great deal at Harris Teeter.  If you go today (I think the sale ends tomorrow, but I’m not 100% sure…new deals begin on Wednesday and not sure if this will continue after today), print out 2 coupons (link below) for $1.85 off a Birds Eye Voila!

Currently they are B1G1 Free at Harris Teeter so that makes each one only .84 Cents (normally they are $5.38 each)!  Wes and I are able to get dinner for the two of us, plus lunch for me the next day out of 1 bag.  We really like the Garlic Chicken.  I can’t believe how good it is for the price and it only takes 10-13 min. to heat it up in a skillet (which also means you only have to wash 1 pan!)

Birds Eye Voila! 22oz for .84 cents!  FOR REAL.

Coupon -$1.85 off Birds Eye Voila product printable

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Back to School

I feel like I’m back in school.  A much more fun school though.  If you’re wondering, I’m currently enrolled in the school of YouTube and Pinterest.  You can learn how to do just about anything. Recently I’ve learned:

How to do an easy half-up hairstyle (check out all this girl’s videos…tons of ideas)

 

How to unclog a drain

How to make a teepee (we haven’t made it yet…but one day I will do this for Rand…and me…)

How to make a healthier version of a California sandwich

How to make a toga out of a bed sheet (4 ways!)

How to make something yummy with Quinoa (note: food lion in Pinehurst does not carry Quinoa.)

How to wrap wine (or beer) bottles for a hostess gift or to take on a picnic

Other things I’ve learned from the “School of PinTube” (can you think of a better name?) include:

boiling eggs perfectly

baking chicken without it getting dry

how to get stains out

how to play (just about any song!) the piano

how to install an infant car seat (Wes did this one, not me…I still have yet to learn it)

how to change the ring in the frontload washer (Wes again)

how to help a choking infant/heimlich maneuver

and so on…what have you learned that’s been helpful?

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Food (part 1)

Several readers have asked me for some easy recipe tips.  While I’m still “in training” myself…I’m happy to pass along what has worked well for me thus far.

While Bisquick is a dirty word in some kitchens, I try and always have a box of Low Fat Heart Healthy Bisquick around.  I learned this one from my mama – she’d whip up some drop biscuits to go with dinner occasionally and it made dinner feel a little more special – wow, homemade biscuits!

I never had any idea how easy they were until now.  I NEVER take the time or make the mess involved with rolling them out/cutting, I just drop them with a spoon onto the parchment-lined baking sheet.  They are almost impossible to mess up.  Also…you can go nuts with all the uses.  Here are a few ideas to run with:

    • Add leftover mixed herbs or chives from your garden to dinner biscuits
    • Make pancakes or waffles (they taste great, I promise!)
    • Use this recipe and some blueberries and lemon zest to make blueberry breakfast scones
    • Tonight, we used Bisquick to make some Garlic Cheddar Biscuits (ever had the ones at Red Lobster?)

The bisquick box is my secret weapon for adding something fun (and in 15 min or less) to a boring breakfast or a plate of leftovers.
Also, be sure to check the coupon database at Southernsavers.com because often there is a .50 off coupon.
Got any secret weapons in your pantry?
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Buffalo chicken dip

Here is the recipe for the most delicious (and slightly healthier than the usual) Buffalo Chicken Dip.  I got it from this blog – “Healthy and Sane.”

It makes a TON, so you may want to cut the recipe in half…OR, if you are like me, you can make 1 for your upcoming girls weekend, and 1 for your husband (mine in this case will be keeping Rand all weekend) who will most likely be watching the NFL Division Playoffs this Saturday.  Wes will, no doubt, be cheering for Tim Tebow.  Don’t forget to leave some carrots, celery and multigrain pita chips out for dipping!

(note: mine needed a little more time in the oven than it called for.  Also, if you bake it in a glass dish, you can pop it in the microwave to reheat it, if needed.  Also, I did not have wing sauce and just used Frank’s Hot Sauce)

Ultimate healthified buffalo chicken dip (serves a crowd)

  • 2 poached chicken breasts, shredded
  • 2 packages (8oz ea) neufchatel (low fat cream cheese), softened
  • 1 cup low fat sour cream
  • 3/4 cup Frank’s RedHot buffalo wing sauce
  • 1 teaspoon of garlic powder
  • 1.5 cups shredded reduced fat cheese (I used 1/2 mozzarella, 1/2 cheddar), divided
  • Baby carrots and pita chips for dipping

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven, or toaster oven, to 350*.

2. Mix all ingredients together, hold 1/2 cup cheese. The Kitchen Aid with a paddle attachment does an amazing job of creaming it all together. Super easy!

3. Transfer to 9×5 loaf fan (or another baking dish), sprinkle remaining cheese over the top.

4. Bake for 15 minutes.

4. Broil for 1-2 minutes to get the cheese extra golden on top.

Thanks so much Elina for a great recipe!!

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Weekend Recap

This photo pretty much sums up the days around here (cheerios stuck to our faces), but what fun would only one photo be?

Saturday I went to two estate sales and found some awesome framed moths.  Moths? Really? Well, apparently if I’d gone the first day, I’d have gotten the butterflies, but I’m a bargain shopper and I always go the “50% off” second day of the sale.  I still think they are beautiful and I adore how they are framed.  I’ll keep you posted where they wind up in the house.

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Saturday afternoon, Sam and Kristen went with us to Weymouth Woods for a little hike to see the bridge that Sam built when he was in high school.  It was his Eagle Scout project.  It is pretty awesome.

Rand was excited to finally get to see it too.

Sam, Kristen, Wes and I have been trying to find the perfect shrimp and grits recipe and Saturday night, we tried our second recipe. This one has been the best so far, likely because it is from Crook’s Corner in Chapel Hill.

The only changes we suggest: we added chopped red pepper (at the same time as the green onions) and decided next time, the shrimp need to be cooked separately and then added AFTER they have almost cooked all the way. Our shrimp were large and took longer to cook and I think it made the veggie/sauce mixture a little overdone.  Also, we didn’t add all the salt it called for in the cheese grits. Shrimp and cheese are already salty folks!

(image from myrecipes.com)

Okay, on to another very exciting part of my weekend – my StitchFix arrived and I now have a new sweater that I LOVE!  StitchFix is a fun new venture (I admit, I was skeptical and just wanted to test it out) that turned out to be very impressive!  First, I filled out a style survey, then I paid $20 and scheduled a “Fix.”  Each StitchFix shipment is 5 items especially picked out for you based on your style survey.  I had to admit, I really loved all 5 items that came in my fix, but could only choose this time (so I’ll have some cash left to do it again!) The $20 you paid to schedule your delivery is deducted from whatever you choose to purchase.   And you don’t have to purchase anything if you don’t want to.  When you’re done trying everything on you just seal everything up in the USPS bag that is enclosed and put it back in the MAILBOX.  So easy.  So fun.  So clever.

Here’s my sweater.  Sorry for the scary iPhone eyes.

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Sweater – RD Designs via StitchFix

Oh and I have to mention that there is also a little card attached to each item with “what to wear” instructions.

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Soup Supper and Super Doubles

Happy New Year!

With the chilly temps that have settled in, we opted for a soup & grilled cheese night.  I found this recipe for Tomato-Basil-Parmesan Soup on Pinterest and it was yummy.  Even Wes, who is picky about tomatoes, went back for a second bowl.  Only things I changed…I used 1/2 cup of half and half and 1 and 1/2 cups of skim milk.  I think next time I may just use all skim milk.  Also, I used low-sodium chicken broth and omitted the salt.  Parmesan cheese is really salty, so taste your soup first before you add the salt!

Now I’m off to shop at Harris Teeter (HT Express online).  Super Doubles starts tomorrow…that means any coupon under $1.98 face value will be doubled (even some that say “Do not double” still double!)

 

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Pumpkin and Blue & White mania

I can’t stop eating THIS pumpkin bread (good by itself but REALLY yummy with the maple cinnamon cream cheese).

I’m contemplating this recipe from the Picky Palate too…don’t they look good?

I think I’m overcompensating for not actually getting a pumpkin this year.  We also didn’t dress Rand up.  Boo to us.  I’ve always said I’m “holiday minimal” in my decorating style but maybe that really = lazy.

Anyhow…for those of you who inquired last time, my dishes are a mixture of Mottahedeh Blue Dragon (large plates and butter plates)

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And Mottahedeh Blue Canton (dessert plate, large tea cup and saucer, cereal bowls and dessert bowls).

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The photos are from dinnerwareetc.com but One Kings Lane just had a big sale on Blue Canton and I missed it!

Our everyday wedding china pooped out on us a few years ago.  But hey, at least it was only the china.  It only made it 6 years…Wes and I are going on 9.  Take that Kim Kardashian!  So…since I don’t get another wedding, I’ve been slowly collecting it over time for birthdays and Christmas.  It is dishwasher safe and microwaveable, of course.  Our formal china is Wedgewood Platinum (i.e. white with platinum rim) so it mixes well with that too if we ever have ALL of the family over.

I also found some tin Blue Dragon plates a few years ago and we use those for outdoor dining and I can still use the real thing to serve from.

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Recipes For Ya

Last week, I was supposed to be packing and cleaning the house so we could get to the beach but I procrastinated. I usually bake when I’m putting something off. So I made these cookies.
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They were GOOD.  They were probably the most successful thin and crispy chocolate chip cookies I’ve ever made.  While I usually don’t follow recipes, I stuck pretty close to Barefoot Contessa’s recipe. Here’s the recipe.  Only things I did differently: 1. I used regular chocolate chips and some mini chocolate chips because that was all I had. 2. Did not use walnuts. 3. My eggs were not room temp as I decided to make cookies on a whim and didn’t have time to wait on the eggs 4.  Same goes for the butter.  10 seconds in the microwave…cheater!! 5. I took them out of the oven a few minutes sooner. If your first batch ends up too brown like mine did, you might want to do the same.

So…on to the second recipe.  Our beach staple: Broccoli Ramen Slaw.  What?  Broccoli?  Oh just try it.  I usually make a big batch on the first day and then we eat off of it for a few days…it gets better after sitting in the fridge.  Here’s my version of the recipe:

Broccoli Ramen Slaw

1 bag (16 oz) Broccoli Slaw (usually near the bag lettuce/bag veggies)

2 packages chicken flavor Ramen (pull out the seasoning packet and then crumble/crunch up the noodles in the package)

3-4 green onions chopped up

1 cup sunflower seeds

1/3 cup cider vinegar

1/3 cup canola oil

2 tablespoons white sugar

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl, be sure to add the 2 ramen seasoning packets.  Cover and keep in the fridge.

The original recipe called for 1/2 cup sugar!  Wowzers.  I have also made it with just 1 packet of Ramen and it is good that way too.  My brother made it with peanuts and sunflower seeds which was a nice twist.  I’m sure there are tons of variations.

Sorry, no photos of the slaw…instead, here’s one of Rand enjoying his first food: sweet potatoes.  He insists on helping with the spoon and then would rub his face with his little orange hand.  Good thing it is warm at the beach and we can eat shirtless!
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Birthday Brunch

So far the past few days of birthday parties have been fun…so much fun, in fact, that I neglected to take pictures.  Thankfully my sweet cousin Bissy picked up my slack and got some great shots from MJ’s party. I’ll post a few of the greatest hits as soon as I get them uploaded.

Today we had a birthday brunch for “Ema” here on our porch, but I didn’t get any photos…I will tell you that the menu worked out great (minus the waffles – a long and sad story that involved the explosion of my largest glass pyrex dish).  We made this Pioneer Woman recipe, Eggs Florentine Casserole:

Click the photo to go to the actual recipe…we substituted and used Jimmy Dean sausage and some Simply Hash Browns from the bag.  I can’t imagine having time to make my own hash browns.  Someday.   Honestly, this egg casserole was awesome.  And the hash browns were a good (and gluten-free) substitute for adding bread to the usual egg casserole.  We made them the night before and then baked them the next day.  Worked perfectly.

We also made this yummy thing, also from the Pioneer Woman:

Again…click to go to the actual recipe.  We made this one as it suggested and I think if I made it again, I would actually swap out the pita chips for the Simply Hash Browns.

Oh, my uncle did snap this photo of Rand in his bumbo chair.  He was a pretty happy guy with all the family over to party.  I wish I had a photo of his view…all 9 of us making animal noises to get him to smile.
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Images courtesy of www.thepioneerwoman.com and Dr. Fred Pfeiffer.

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