Tuesday, August 31, 2010

No-Fear, No-Fail Peach Jam

Alternately titled, “Yes, I’m telling you to use white sugar.” :)

I mean, I’ll be honest, people: there are times when I eat white sugar.  Let’s just lay that on the table from the get-go!  (And while I’m being honest with you, I totally had french fries and ketchup at a baseball game last night.  It was heavenly. haha) I like Michael Pollan’s philosophy of “Treat treats as treats” - so when I do let myself have white sugar (or other junk), I attempt to free myself from the inevitable guilt-trip that ensues. (Attempt being the key word here.) 

Anyway, if your area is anything like mine, peaches are ridiculously ripe and delicious right now – and relatively cheap.  Two weeks ago I was able to get a bushel of native peaches from a local farm stand for $22 – there were about 50 huge, deliciously sweet peaches in that box. 

I set out to make peach jam and peach cobbler with my loot – plus I had tons of peach slices left over that I froze for the winter.  
 August PA & CT 011

Before you run away, please hear me out on making jam!  Freezer jam is SO easy, an elementary student could do it – no boiling, no sealing, no heavy pots required. 

Here’s all that you need:

any kind of freezer-safe jars or containers with lids or covers
peeled and mashed peaches
lemon juice 
white sugar
I package Ball freezer-jam pectin

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The frozen jars

Follow the directions on the back of the package (which basically involves just slicing, mashing, and stirring.  From start (i.e., unwashed, unpeeled peaches) to finish you need less than an hour, depending on how fast you can slice. (The jam does have to set for 30 minutes after finishing.) The recipe will make you about 5 and a half jars. 

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This jam is delicious – I use it to make Luke’s PB&Js or to mix in with his plain yogurt.  Whole-wheat bread, all-natural peanut butter and homemade jam is a great healthy snack or meal for a baby.  Stonyfield Farms’ organic milk and yogurt is made from pastured cows milk, which also makes it a great choice for babies.  August PA & CT 009

I personally enjoy eating it plain, by the spoonful – but I try not to. :)

So far I’ve made strawberry and peach jams with success – anyone else have a favorite fruit to use? 

Linked to these foodie parties:
Tasty Tuesday @ Beauty and Bedlam
Tuesdays at the Table @ All the Small Stuff
Tempt my Tummy Tuesday @ Blessed With Grace

Sunday, August 29, 2010

How to Get Started with Clean Eating {Part Two}

Before I begin, just wanted to remind you all that my giveaway ends on Tuesday, so you still have time to enter if you’d like! 


There were a few points I wasn’t able to fit into my previous post that I’ll be finishing up here. Again, this is my humble advice – remember, I’m learning as I go, too! :)  For part one, click here. 

4.  When shopping, try to keep Michael Pollan’s simple statements (all from In Defense of Food) in mind:

“Don’t eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.” (148)

“Avoid food products that make health claims.” (154)

“Avoid food products containing ingredients that are a) unfamiliar, b) unpronounceable, c) more than five in number, or that include d)high-fructose corn syrup.” (150)

“Shop the peripheries of the supermarket and stay out of the middle.” (157)

Obviously there are some caveats to these rules – for instance, brown rice, whole wheat flour, and all-natural peanut butter are definitely found in the middle aisles.  And just because you don’t recognize the name of something doesn’t mean it’s necessarily bad (i.e., sodium bicarbonate is plain old baking soda).  Overall though, these are great tips to think about.  Most processed foods today are chock-full of artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives.  My great-grandmothers weren’t raised on Red #40 and probably never had BHT added to their food packaging.  Think simple, basic, whole when shopping.

5.  Try to develop a repertoire of clean foods so you have some go-to recipes up your sleeve.  

Since we’ve temporarily moved in with my parents, my mom has laughed at how many times in a week I can eat spinach salad.  And it’s true – if there’s no leftovers for lunch, I usually resort to this.  I can have it 4 or 5 times a week (either for lunch or as a dinner side) and not ever get sick of it.  Fresh organic spinach, homemade vinaigrette, creamy feta, crunchy veggies, tuna or turkey breast on top if we have it – what’s not to love?  :)

My point is, try to develop a few clean recipes that you can fall back on.  Maybe start with just one or two nights a week where you’ll eat as clean as possible – grilled chicken and fresh veggies, or a homemade whole-wheat pizza made with fresh, whole ingredients (and sauce without HFCS!).  Over time, you’ll add more and more recipes to your list and they’ll become old hat.  You may never want to go back to cream of chicken casseroles again. :)

6.  Try to be open-minded about the cost of healthy foods. 

Remember that with each healthy food choice you make, you’re extending the life and health of yourself and those you love.  Diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity are more than just diseases – they’re expensive to treat!  Think long-term when you’re debating about the cheaper food at the store (this is definitely something I still have to tell myself when I shop).

7.  Be willing to invest in cooking.
I’m willing to bet that most of you (like me!) are sometimes just exhausted at the end of the day.  Getting fast-food or eating processed frozen food is so much easier to think about. Most convenience foods will come back to bite you, though!  Try to take the 20-30 extra minutes to prepare healthy food – everyone has nights they fall for easy food, but try to make those the exception rather than the norm.  Some people take the time on Sunday or Monday nights to chop up all their veggies and meat in preparation for the week ahead.  I tend to do my prep each night before dinner.  Find something that works for you – you’ll probably be surprised at how much time you will find when the result is delicious, healthy food. :)

8.  Try to read and learn as much as possible.  Knowledge is power! :) 

I know many of you are probably busier than you want to be and don’t have a lot of time to read.  I’m actually one of those nerdy people who would never put a book down from my hands if I didn’t have to because I enjoy reading so much.  :) I have learned SO much in the past several months – I thought I was a decently healthy eater before, but I seriously knew nothing! :) Below are some of the books and websites that have really helped me in learning how to eat better (as a bonus, they keep my mommy brain learning and growing! :):

By Michael Pollan (my only complaint is how heavily he believes in and refers to evolution):

- Food Rules (great starter book if you’re short on time)
In Defense of Food (history of American food policy; great practical tips on how to eat better – you can read my reviews here)
- The Omnivore’s Dilemma (traces food all the way up the food chain; it is extremely long and to be honest I gave up on page 320 of 415 – no offense Michael. :)  The first two sections were extremely helpful, though!)

By Nina Planck
- Real Food: What to Eat and Why 
   Gives more great history into how we as Americans got ourselves into this mess; great insight into healthy eating (a great section on healthy fats)

By Barbara Kingsolver

- Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life 
  One family’s journey to eat only local, self-grown food for the year.  I’m currently reading this and it’s one of my favorites so far.  Unfortunately, also relies heavily on evolution and talks about animal and plant s*x in some immature ways – maybe not for younger kids to read alone.)

- Food, Inc.  (book and movie – a comprehensive look at our food supply and gives insight into organic farming and foods)

Helpful websites:
Kelly the Kitchen Kop
Keeper of the Home
New Nostalgia
Passionate Homemaking
The Nourishing Gourmet

Whew, I think that’s it!  lol As always, feel free to add ideas or suggestions in the comments!  Remember, I am NOT an expert and I’m still working on applying all of these principles in my own life. It’s a process! :)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A Blogiversary Giveaway!

Hey everybody! I can’t believe that it’s already been a year since I started this blog. Last year, I had a one-month old, I lived in PA, I was about 20 pounds heavier (lol) and I was looking for an outlet from the mommy routine. Now I have a 13-month old, I live in CT, I'm quite a bit skinnier :), and I still love blogging for the community of wonderful women it has brought me into contact with.

I want to take this time (again) to thank all of you for reading! Blogging is so.much.fun for me (I wouldn’t be doing it otherwise!) and I am so thankful for those of you who read and leave me wonderful comments.

So in honor of all of you who keep me comin’ back, how about a giveaway?! :)

I basically decided that this giveaway would be an extension of my favorite things – like thrifting, CVS-ing, Target, and the fall season. (You better believe I contemplated shipping one of you a jar of all natural peanut-butter, but I reconsidered due to shipping weight. ;)


So without further ado, here’s what one lucky winner will get!

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- Alba coconut cream lip balm (my absolute favorite)
- Nivea cherry lip balm (that I got for free from CVS)
- My total language-fail Frenchy plate from Salvation Army
- “Autumn Wreath” and “Harvest” Yankee Candles (I have used both of these scents in seasons past, and they’re awesome)
- $5 gift card to Target, aka The Happiest Place on Earth

To enter the giveaway, please just leave a comment telling me one thing about yourself!

Yup, that’s it! I want to get to know you guys better – you can write me a paragraph or you can write me one fact – but that’s all you have to do to enter. :)

For a second entry, let me know your favorite topic to read on the blog – thrifting, healthy eating, crafty projects, etc. I’m just curious to see what brings you back! lol

{This giveaway is open to all Google Followers of This Blessed Life – as in, your name and/or face must be in one of the blocks on the left side-bar. I am really thankful for the 200-or-so of you who also follow in a reader but I want the prize to go someone I can be sure reads the blog regularly – not someone who happened upon the giveaway. I hope you understand!}



Bring on the next year of blogging! :)

Monday, August 23, 2010

Miscellany Monday {4}

Miscellany Monday @ lowercase letters

1.  The goal today is to make peach jam and freeze a bunch of peach slices with the bushel of them that I bought on Saturday.

I swear when peaches are in season and fresh, they are divine.  As in, I’m pretty sure we’ll be able to eat them in heaven.  These peaches are fabulous.  I love freezing fresh produce in the summer and then pulling it out in the middle of winter and capturing the essence of summer all over again.  Wow, I would be a really lame food critic.  haha

2.  The only reason I can do all of this today is because my sister’s friend offered to come over and help me watch Luke for two hours.  HI NICOLE! :)

3.  Speaking of my little boy, he took his first steps yesterday!  And do you want to know where I was?  In the car.  Chris called me and told me, and I bawled my eyes out.  I couldn’t help it – I am home all day with this kid and he takes this major milestone without me?!  Thankfully, I did see him do it twice more yesterday afternoon.  Chris said not to worry, he’ll make his first soccer goal when I’m there or something.  (Totally not the same honey but thanks for trying to make me feel better.)

4.  What is the deal with all the rain in Connecticut?!  I need sunshine!  I think it has rained 5 of the last 7 days we’ve been here.

5.  I watched Food Inc. last week, thanks to all of your suggestions.  Let’s just say that if it’s within my power, I’m never buying Tyson, Perdue, or Smithfield meat again.  Ew.  Even though I’ve read a ton of clean/whole eating books, nothing can really compare to seeing something with your own eyes.  I can’t recommend this movie enough – odds are high your local library probably has it! 

Have a lovely, SUNNY day! :)

P.S. Tomorrow is my “blogiversary” so come back tomorrow night for a GIVEAWAY!

Image via The Pioneer Woman

Thursday, August 19, 2010

How to Get Started With Clean Eating {Part One}

After my last post about clean eating, several of you commented that you would like help in starting the journey – hence this post.  I’m going to attempt to give you some basic ways to get started on a healthier way of eating.  This is what I have learned, both from living it and reading it, so please just take my advice with a grain of salt, okay?

1.  Cut out refined sugars whenever possible. 

This is one of the single-most important things an American can do, because sugar. is. in.EVERYTHING. If you don’t believe me, go look in your pantry and start reading the boxes.  Remember that sugar hides under a whole bunch of names, like high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, glucose,  barley malt, malt syrup, and the list goes on and on and on again.   You will find it in your bread, your crackers, your relish, your ketchup, your cereal (even “healthy” ones), and nearly every snack sold. 

Then when you think about the fact that milk and fruit also contain sugars in their *natural* state, you get a feel for how much sugar we actually consume on a daily basis.

Did you know that white sugar is actually an anti-nutrient?  As in, not only does it not provide your body with any nutrients, it actually leeches nutrients from your organs?  Yikes. 

You may be thinking, “But I LIKE sugar.  How can I just cut it out?  Won’t I get headaches and cravings and won’t I just go crazy?”  Well……maybe, at first. :)  I can promise you though that if you cut out sugar (or even greatly reduce), your tastebuds will change.  Things that you once enjoyed will become waaaaay too sweet for you after a while, and that’s a good thing.

As a bonus, you might not even realize how sluggish and bloated you felt until you change your diet and then eat sugar again one day.  I never realized how bad I felt on sugar until I went off it for a while and then had it again one day in a normal quantity.  Ugh.  Personally, I feel my best when I’m not eating any refined sugar.   

2.  Take it slow.

If you make your kids chocolate chip cookies once a week, (as a special treat because you’re no longer eating sugar every day ;) and suddenly decide to start making them with all whole-wheat flour, your kids will probably rebel, because compared to soft, fluffy white flour, the cookies will feel like bricks. 

So you start with half-white (always unbleached, though) and half-whole-wheat flour for a few weeks before switching to whole-wheat pastry flour or all-whole wheat.  (P.S. King Arthur makes a white-whole wheat flour that I have used many times with success.)

If you are used to drinking non-organic milk and hate the taste of organic (I certainly did!), try using it your cereal for a while before going cold-turkey and drinking it plain (personally, it took me about 2 weeks to warm up to organic milk). 

Do you see what I’m saying?  For your sanity and for the sanity of your family, ease yourself into the transition. 

3.  Figure out what foods you eat the most of, and replace those foods first. 

If you eat white pasta several times a week, but serve white rice only rarely, don’t stress so much about switching to brown rice as switching to whole-wheat pasta.  (And again, keep #2 in mind.) 

I eat spinach anywhere from 1-3 times a day, which is why it’s one of the few foods I routinely buy organic.  The three of us eat so much of it (plus I’ve read that it’s one of the highest-sprayed foods), that the switch was worth it to me. 

If your husband or kids down peaches like they’re going out of style but rarely eat bananas (and peaches often rank #1 on the pesticide list), commit to buying only organic peaches when you can and don’t stress out so much about the bananas. 

The most important thing I think you can remember about this whole process is that anything is better than nothing. 

Maybe you can only afford to buy one organic veggie right now.  It’s a start!  It’s one less pesticide-laden thing you’re feeding yourself and those you love.  Maybe you start making homemade granola bars instead of buying regular ones as snacks – that’s one less thing you’re eating that’s full of preservatives and chemicals. 

This is not all or nothing.  Take baby steps, and you won’t be overwhelmed.  Remember that the end goal is SO worth it! 

This got so long, and I have so much more to say, that I’ll have to come back with Part 2 next week!  Stay tuned! :)

Oh, and if you have a question, feel free to ask in the comments.  Normally I try to e-mail back responses now, but today I will answer them in the comments. 

Image credits:

Monday, August 16, 2010

Miscellany Monday {3}

1.  We’re here in sunny Connecticut.  I am surrounded by boxes and boxes of items that still need to be unpacked.  So, clearly, I am blogging. 

2.  On August 15, 2008, we were in an attorney’s office, signing the papers to close on our house.  On August 15, 2010, we locked our house up to move.  Isn’t that freaky?! 

3.  My situation here could probably best be described as a domestic adventure.  I have no idea exactly how this is all going to work out – with all of the possessions that we brought crammed into our bedroom and Luke's little room.  It is forcing me to be creative with space, which is never a bad thing.  It’s crazy to me, though, when I’m traveling somewhere, to realize how I can survive with so much less.  But will that stop me from yard-saling?  Ha!  What do you think? ;)

4.  It was so interesting to me to read all of your different opinions about what to do with my cabinets!  2 people said beadboard, 7 said chalkboard, and 7 of you said definitely-not-chalkboard, go with art.  The fact that so many of you were so adamant against the chalkboard paint made me feel even more uneasy about the decision to do it – and then I was really freaking out!  lol

Thankfully, Lindsay saved the day!  I have a Nester-style wall of plates in my dining room, and she just suggested I add more white plates to the sides of the cabinets.  I absolutely loooooove the way it came out!  The girl is a genius.  :)

house after 026house after 035 

{Please know that this is totally a staged picture for the realtor.  My house is never that clean in real life.  hahaha}

5.  Have you all tried Starbucks’ “perfect oatmeal”?  It will change your life.  I am a loser if I’ve been thinking about that oatmeal for 3 days, right? 

6.  Lastly, just for fun, one of all-time favorite YouTube videos. 


Happy Monday!  I’m off to attempt to organize my life. :)

Miscellany Monday @ lowercase letters

Friday, August 13, 2010

Giveaway Winner



The Nature Valley giveaway winner is ERIN! Congrats woman! :) 

I met Erin and her DH when we lived in WV for a year.  My DH was in grad school, and I got a job waitressing at Cracker Barrel to make extra money while I was teaching.  Erin was my trainer and it turned out she was a Christian so we had a good time at work!  God was really cool to work it out like that.  So yes, I do know Erin personally, but I promise that she won fair and square!  8 was the first number that popped up! 

Erin, e-mail me your current address (blessedlifeblog {at} gmail {dot} com) and MyBlogSpark will send you your box!

Have a great weekend, everyone, and thanks for participating!  :)


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Giveaway: Nature Valley Prize Pack!

**Edit: This giveaway is now closed.**

Hey guys, I have a fun giveaway for you today!

MyBlogSpark, together with Nature Valley® granola bars and Patricia Shultz, author of 1,000 Places to See Before You Die, want everyone to know about the this year’s National Parks Project.

From their e-mail:

This year, the National Parks Project will focus on restorative work at Grand Canyon, Yellowstone and Biscayne National Parks.

To get involved, simply purchase a box of specially marked Nature Valley Bars and mail in your wrappers to the address below:

National Parks Project
PO Box 450328
El Paso, TX 88545-0328

Nature Valley will not only recycle the wrappers, but will also contribute $0.10 to the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) for every wrapper received (up to $600,000 in total). To learn more about the National Parks Project and how you can make a difference, check out PreservetheParks.com today. And don´t forget to visit Nature Valley on Facebook or Nature Valley on Twitter to "Like" or "Follow" the brand. Facebook fans can enter to win a trip, as well as share photos and videos of their summer vacations.

Well, guess what? MyBlogSpark generously gave me a Nature Valley® prize pack to sample, and one of you will get a pack for yourself!

house after 131

Here’s what’s included in the box:

- a box of Nature Valley® granola bars
- a Nature Valley® mini backpack {my little nephew will love this!}
- a military-grade compass
- a cool green water bottle {BPA-free – yay!}
- a solar-powered, key chain flash light
- the book 1,000 Places to See in the U.S. and Canada Before You Die

One of my “bucket-list” items is to take an RV trip with my kids around America one day. This book will be the perfect companion! I’ve already enjoyed checking off the places we’ve visited around the country, and I’ve gotten ideas for more great places to see.

You all know that I’m trying to eat clean and not a lot of sugar, but these granola bars are perfect for packing in my DH’s lunch when he starts his new job next week. “Whole grain oats” is the first ingredient, and they’re not made with high fructose corn syrup, which makes me a happy lunch-packer. :)

To win the prize box, just leave a comment answering this question:

Have you visited any of the National Parks? If not, which one would you like to visit most?

- We used to go camping every year on Mount Desert Island, Maine, home to Acadia National Park. We haven’t gone in a few years due to pregnancy and Luke being too little, but we hope to go back next summer! It is literally one of my favorite places on earth (and it’s listed in the book!). :)

Good luck! Giveaway ends Friday at 5:00 Eastern Time.

Disclaimer: Nature Valley provided me with the free product, information and gift pack through MyBlogSpark. I chose to accept this “spark,” and all opinions are honestly my own.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Packing Up and Leaving

These past few weeks have been totally, utterly insane at our house.  We have been working non.stop. on the house in preparation for the realtor coming today.  On a positive note, our house is cleaner than it’s been….well, ever. 

The number he gave us today was lower than we were both hoping for, but he’s been in the business for 30 years and he told us he wanted to price it aggressively.  After initially bawling my eyes out to my husband (after the man left), I’ve realized (since Chris talked me through it, lol), that it is probably the better move for us.  We’re staying with my parents until our house sells, and while I love my family, the faster, the better!  Extra money would have been nice, but a couple thousand dollars can make the difference between a house selling in 6 months or 2.  I am still not 100% happy with the number, but I am at peace with the decision. 

It’s the last few days in our house, and I’m definitely starting to get sentimental.  We have put our heart and soul into this place over the last two years, and I’m going to miss it.  We have literally changed almost every surface in this house.  Chris and I have both said before that it basically feels like we built this house, for all the changes we put into it.  Anyone who comes to see it always comments on how crazily different it looked on the day we moved in.  It was – and always will be – our first home, and the place we brought home our first baby.  I think I will probably bawl my eyes out again at closing when we have to hand the keys to the new owners. 

Anyway, tonight we are finally taking it easy.  We ordered pizza and we are just going to lay around and do nothing and probably watch a bunch of episodes of Seinfeld when Luke goes to bed.  The rest of the week will be spent seeing friends, finishing up a few projects, and then my parents will be here this weekend to help us move and prepare to leave on Sunday. 

So, other than a giveaway (come back tomorrow!!), I won’t be around the rest of this week. 

However, within the next two weeks, you can expect the following posts:

- how to get started with clean eating
- healthy fats and misconceptions about them (wow, I sound like a PBS special)
- Luke’s birthday, part 2
- hopefully a whole bunch of house before and afters!

See you on the flip side! ;)

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Flea Market Finds – 8/1/10

Thank you all SO much for your help with my cabinet dilemma! I made a decision and I will show you soon. :)

Last weekend Lindsay and I sold at the flea market again. I only made $90 this time, but you can’t really complain about getting $90 for ridding your house of all the crap stuff, right? Of course, I didn’t exactly come home with $90, because I couldn’t resist these beauties……..

Toile fabric-lined basket: $2 (I think it’s official that I have an obsession with toile – I’m in deep, baby!)

july house nyc sales 054

Twig balls (what do you call these?), perfect for fall decorating: $.50 total

july house nyc sales 055

While we’re talking about obsessions, it’s also fair to say that I have a big thing for baskets. Lucky for Chris we do not live near a Container Store (although you can you imagine working there and getting the discounts?! Be still my heart!)

I am in loooooooooooove with this giant basket. I’m keeping my living room blankets in it: $4

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Check out the worn leather handle! *Swoon*

july house nyc sales 058

Lindsay was getting rid of this one so I swapped her something I was selling – I’m using it as a second shoe basket by the front door. We don’t have a mudroom or a foyer or anything so the shoes have to go somewhere!

july house nyc sales 056

Vintage pamphlet – $.25 (Did you know you can freeze eggs?!)

july house nyc sales 060

I find these baskets everywhere. I already have two that I use for holding crafts and in my pantry. If you spray-paint them Heirloom White they turn out really cute! {$.50 for both}

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I also have a minor obsession with fake fruit – I’ve never decorated with artichokes before, but I put some in my kitchen and I love them! {$2.00 for all the fruit}

july house nyc sales 062

So, I was out $9.25 for the day. But can you blame me?! :)

Linked to:

Today’s Thrifty Treasures @ Southern Hospitality
Thrifty Thursday @ Tales from Bloggeritaville
Frugalicious Friday @ Finding Fabulous
Garage Salen Party @ Debbiedoos

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Design Help!

Okay guys, I could definitely use some opinions here. As you know, we are in the process of super-speedily selling our house to move to CT.

So before I go on and explain my design/decor problem, let me just say that we have *no time* to paint our kitchen cabinets - otherwise I would have done it, b/c clearly that would have solved my problem.

So, here goes…

The dipwads (trust me, it’s merited – wait ‘til I show you the before and afters) that lived in this house before us thought it would be a great idea to hang those crappy sticky-poster-hangers on the sides of the crappy veneer/fake wood/whatever it’s called cabinets.

When they left the house, they also left us with this:

001 002

Now, here’s my problem. Clearly, it needs to be covered, but I’m not sure what my better option is. I can only think of 2 solutions so far.

1. Paint both sides with chalkboard paint (which I already have, so I wouldn’t need to buy it). Chris isn’t crazy about this idea, and I understand his point – someone might hate that.

2. Try to find two matching, long photos/pieces of artwork that we could hang/tape/whatever over the sticky marks. The downside of this is that our realtor is coming to take pics on Tuesday, and we have a serious lack of extra money right now.

So if it was you, what would you do?? Go bold with the chalkboard paint since you already have it in the house, and risk your homebuyer hating it? Or spend who knows how much time and/or money to go with the safer option? Or go with a third option that you are going to share with me in the comments? :)

I should also mention that today is our 4-year-anniversary. We spent the whole day sweating, painting, and stripping wallpaper. It’s okay though, because my DH has promised that we can go to the Cheesecake Factory in Providence together next month after we’ve moved. I can handle anything if there’s a 7-Layer Chocolate Cake in my future. :)

Jessica Gigliotti Brubaker Our wedding day, 8/5/06ocean city 051Atlantic city, 7/19/10

Happy anniversary, sweetheart! I love you!

If you have advice on my kitchen problem, I’m all ears!

Or eyes. whatever. ;)

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

My Pantry Looks a Lot Different Than it Did at Christmas

I feel kinda bad that I told you all I would be posting 2 new clean recipes per month and then didn’t really deliver!  The thing is, once I started Somersizing, I pretty much stopped eating most processed foods, and now that I’ve jumped on the clean food bandwagon my diet has really changed. 

Basically, my whole entire diet has changed a lot faster than I thought it would.  Because of this, I thought I’d show you some of the ways that we’re eating differently these days.

Here’s a sampling of some of the things I’ve thrown out half full/not bought a replacement for:

- Regular (sugar- and oil-laden) peanut butter
- My beloved Aunt Jemima’s (sniff)
- Vegetable oil (someday soon I will do a whole post about healthy/non-healthy fats)
- White rice
- Smart Balance spread
- Regular (sugary) pasta sauce

- Cool Whip (be still my heart)
- Non-organic milk
- My delightful coffee creamers
- Regular baking powder (made with aluminum)
- Lite mayo

And what have these things been replaced with?

wordwed and food 005 (Not everything below made it into the picture.)

- All natural, no sugar, no nothing-but-peanuts peanut butter

- We eat waffles plain, buttered, with peanut butter, or with my homemade low-sugar jam now.  We really don’t like real maple syrup, plus it’s crazy expensive. 

- I use butter (rejoice! It’s actually good for you in small amounts), coconut oil, or olive oil

- Brown rice (I’ve also been cooking with bulgur and really enjoying it)

- Melted butter in the micro (ya know, old-school)

- Pre-made pasta sauce sweetened with carrot juice (I do make my own occasionally but sometimes the convenience triumphs)

- Real homemade whipped cream (it’s growing on me)

- Luke and I drink organic milks (whole for him, skim for me.  Chris hates the taste of organic so he still drinks regular.  So yes, there are 3 cartons of milk in our fridge at all times.  You’re welcome, dairy farmers of America.)

- I drink coffee with cream, cinnamon, and a Splenda (see, I have a food flaw!!! Although I don’t drink coffee everyday.)

- Aluminum-free baking powder

- Full fat, full delicious regular mayo

This is just a glimpse into our food lives.  We are a normal family on a tight budget, still working our way into total whole-food-living. 

For the most part, Luke and I eat fairly “whole” everything (he eats animal crackers and puffs occasionally, for instance, and I definitely eat desserts and junk food every so often).  Chris eats clean dinners (because I cook – ha!).  I’m still working on him, but he’s a good guy and he’s come a long way. :)

With small changes at a time, I’m totally convinced that nearly every middle-class family (the poor are a different story at this point in America, unfortunately), can eat whole, clean foods. 

I’m contemplating writing a post about how to get started with clean eating.  Would that help anyone?  If it would help you, will you please say so in the comments?  Thanks! :)

Sunday, August 1, 2010


We are basically on a no-spending-except-for-necessities budget right now. My husband didn’t have a lot of work for a while, and then he had to officially quit to devote to time to fixing up our house to sell.

So, I’ve been reduced to spending money out of my change purse. People love it when you pay with 18 dimes, let me tell ya! haha

Seriously, though….I’ve been able to buy some pretty cute stuff with my loose change, which feeds my thrifting addiction even in this “no-spending” time. Everything you see (except for the last picture) was paid for with change. :)

From the flea market:

Glass canning jar with vintage top - $1

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Cool plastic canister with sliding top (good for rice storage) – $.25

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2 Pyrex bowls – $.50 (for both)

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From Volunteers of America 50% off day:

Canning tongs- $.65

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Pyrex glass pourer (for creamer, syrup, etc.) – $.45

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Rubber-seal-top glass jar – $.65

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From yard sales:

Gap lounge pants, Old Navy cut offs - $1 each

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Rubbermaid reusable plastic lid – $.50

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“Build a Word” cards for Luke – $.10 (I’ve started collecting preschool/kindergarten items when I can.)

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This last item was bought several weeks ago when I actually had money! haha A local store is going out of business and clearing out everything – Lindsay went in and got this for me for only $3! I absolutely love it for holding pantry items. :)

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So, except for the wire basket, that’s what you can buy for only $5.11! :)

Linked to:

Today’s Thrifty Treasures @ Southern Hospitality
Thrifty Thursday @ Tales from Bloggeritaville
Frugalicious Friday @ Finding Fabulous