family · food · life

Is pasta a protein?

Mom, is my pasta protein? No, it’s a carb. But, I thought you said that gluten is the protein in wheat, so doesn’t that make pasta a protein. Ummm, Ummm, it’s carb that has some protein OK!?!

That was my conversation with Colby last night.

When I went back to work, one of the things that became the boys responsibility was making their own lunches. At the time, they had Sistema To Go Collection Lunch Cube Food Storage Container, 47.3 Ounce/ 5.9 Cup (2 Pack) Clear with Assorted Color Accents to pack their lunches. This is divided into three sections. They learned to pack a protein item into the large section, a fruit/veggie into one of the smaller and a junk into the third section. To this day, even though they don’t have these cubes anymore they still pack a protein (meal), fruit and junk in their lunch. So what constitutes a protein has often been and still continues a topic of conversation.

Over the years, the boys have taken to reading the labels of many food products. They look at the proteins, sugars and calories in the items they eat. They have learned that they need to increase their protein if they want to build muscle. They know that sugars tend to be empty calories.

While we don’t want them to feel they can’t have certain foods, we are trying to help them see how to pick certain foods in moderation. This doesn’t stop them from debating over whose food choices are better and typically who eats the better protein foods.

We still are working on what foods go into what food categories evidently, but hey at least they are thinking about food choices already, even if it is to challenge my responses.

**contains Amazon links, please read my disclosure statement**

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book · life · reviews · Uncategorized

Beach Rental book review and rambles

Happy Friday Eve!

This has been such a strange week for me. I posted a bit about it yesterday. On top of all the crazy busy of the boys’ schedules, Richard had 2 days of meetings. For his job when they have these big meetings where people travel in from other states it means full days of meetings followed up by dinner and/or drinks. This means he leaves the house at 7:20am to drive the boys to the bus stop and then didn’t arrive home until around 10pm. I’m not sure how he does it! At least it’s done now, and everything went as smoothly as he hoped it would.

I just finished reading another book on my Kindle Paperwhite E-reader . One of the biggest perks of reading on the Kindle is the free books I can get with out prime membership. On Monday, I posted about Coming to Rosemont: The First Novel in the Rosemont Series which I also got for free. I guess this is another bonus to having a prime membership even if the price is going up! I love the free shipping, we have a Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote | Streaming Media Player which is ALWAYS on playing music in the background of our life. I had to laugh yesterday listening to the boys request music on Alexa, we went from We Didn’t Start the Fire to Laughter In The Rain then Wake Me up Before You Go-Go. My sons have always had an eclectic variety of music they listen to, but it just seems to shine through more lately. Some of their favorite stations to listen to are Pop For Cooking, ’70s Light Pop Perfection, ’80s Pop for Runners and those are just a few that they pick. I find it crazy that they know the names of the songs as well as who sings the song. Me, well I could sing the whole song for you but couldn’t fathom to tell you the facts about the song. Oh well, guess I’ll never go on a music game show, but they can!

Today I finished reading Beach Rental (Large Print) (Emerald Isle, NC Stories) (Volume 1), but Grace Greene. I felt like I read this book really fast, but that maybe because I’m finally back to only reading one book at a time. I read all three of the Harry Potter books one after the other and then I was reading a book and an e-book at the same time while adjusting to reading on the Kindle. Beach Rental was the first book in forever that I read both during the day and at night. So I felt like I flew through the book. I was able to get this book free through my prime membership, notice a trend her?

Juli Cooke’s life has never been easy. She bounced around in the foster care system as a child and has worked hard as an adult to keep her nose clean and a roof over her head. She works at a grocery store during the day and picks up jobs with caters at night for extra cash.

One night while working as a server for a lavish party, her life takes a very unexpected twist. She meets Ben Bradshaw at that party and he turns her life on its ear with the proposal of marriage. Ben is dying and realizes he wants someone in his life to keep him company. He offers Juli a financial freedom for her friendship, that may or may not turn into more over time. Juli agrees with this arrangement, but finds more opposition from Ben’s family than she was prepared to deal with. Ben’s cousin and business partner Luke, noticed Juli at the same party and had a preconceived notion of who she was and what her motives really were. When Ben’s sudden death changes everything, Juli and Luke are forced to work together to settle the estate and so much more.

Read what happens in this unique love story that shows that often times love pops up in the most unusual places.

** This post contains affiliate links. Please read my disclosure statement**

book · reviews

The Night The Lights Went Out– Book review

What’s better than one book review in a day???? How about two? Click here to see the first one I did today!

I finished the book I was reading upstairs this week too. The Night the Lights Went Out, by Karen White is a contemporary novel. I love the description on the back of the book that says “…. it touches all the bases of a chick-lit thriller…”

This is the story of Merilee who is recently divorced who moves into Sweet Apple, Georgia. There she rents a house on the property of Sugar Prescott, the towns matriarch. Sugar is known to be aloof and a bit odd, but she hits it off with Merilee. Sugar sees a lot of herself in Merilee and begins to open up and share stores with her that she has not shared with anyone.

Merilee’s children are attending a private school, where Merilee meets Heather the queen bee of the community. Heather brings Merilee into her circle and encourages her daughter to befriend Lily, Merilee’s daughter.

As the story progresses, Merilee finds out that a blogger from the town is writing about not only the town and southern sayings, but also about Merilee and her life. She doesn’t know how to feel about this but since she is trying to keep her head above water and deal with all the drama of life.

As you read through the story, you hear more about the drama of Sugar’s life of the past. You read the many blog posts that show a different side of small town drama anddddd the real dramas of a small town. There is so much more to share, but I can’t without telling you too much.

I highly recommend this book. It is a perfect summer read. It is the type of book that keeps you thinking and makes you want to not put down the book. Read and find out what happens The Night the Lights Went Out.

** Product links included, please read my disclosure statement**

book · reviews

Coming to Rosemont- book review


The first book I read on my Kindle Paperwhite E-reader – Black, 6″ High-Resolution Display (300 ppi) with Built-in Light, Wi-Fi – Includes Special Offers was Coming to Rosemont: The First Novel in the Rosemont Series, by Barbara Hinske.

Maggie Martin’s husband dies suddenly, but this was just the beginning of the changes in her life. Upon his death Maggie discovers that the life she was living the last few years was not the life she wanted to live. After discovering that her husband was involved in a variety of elicit activities she also discovers that he inherited a house in the serene Mid-Western town of Westbury.

Maggie headed to Westbury to meet with a real estate agent to put the house, known as Rosemont for sale. When Maggie arrives there she discovers more that just a house. She finds home. Maggie then decides to sell her house in CA and move to Westbury.  What she doesn’t know is that this quiet majestic town has a secret or two of its own.

This is a great fast paced novel that is realistic and modern. It is a great story about a strong female who learns so much more about herself and what she is capable of doing. This is also the first book in series, so if you are like me and hate when a book ends… then this is a great book because you can read more in the second book: Weaving the Strands: The Second Novel in the Rosemont Series. I know I will.

**This post contains product links, please read my disclosure statement**

Must Have Monday · reviews

Must Have Monday- Water

TTM_MHM

If you ask my kids what I drink they will probably say Coke or Coffee, but the funny thing about that is I don’t drink either of those very often. I have had one cup of coffee every morning, or almost every morning since we got our Keurig. I don’t drink Coke very often either. Richard and I will split a Coke when we go out to eat. I do drink Coke whenever I have a headache. Whenever I get a headache I first drink a coke, then I grab Excedrin (which also has caffeine in it). This works almost every time for me now. I started that when I was having migraines and was trying to avoid taking the prescription medications. The doctor I had at the time suggested Excedrin and said just get extra strength, it has the same ingredients as the migraine version.

Ok…. back on topic. So the what do I actually drink the most of… WATER! I drink water all day long. So over the years I have has a large variety of different water containment devices. Here are a few of my favorites.

At home, I love having my BEAST!  BEAST 30oz Stainless Steel Tumbler Vacuum Insulated Rambler Coffee Cup Double Wall Travel Flask Mug with Splash Proof Lid, 2 Straws, Pipe Brush & Gift Box Bundle By Greens Steel. This double walled medal water cup, with straw works perfectly for me as I spend my day around the house. I fill it up with ice and water first thing in the morning. Then as the day goes on I only need to add more water to the cup. This stays ice cold all day long. There are many days when the ice is still there the next morning. I also like the size. Think about it, three fills equals 90oz of water! I don’t like to travel with this cup because of the size and if you knock it over by mistake the water will spill.

For traveling about, and going to the gym I use my Brita 20 Ounce Sport Water Bottle with 2 Filters – BPA Free – Twin Pack, Blue and Orange. We purchased these originally before our first Disney Cruise. The thought behind it was that we could always create filtered water no matter where we were going.  On that trip we got off the ship in Nassau and didn’t want to drink the water when we were on that island. After that, the boys and I began taking these to school because we could refill them in the school sinks and not drink school sink water. Anyone who has been to an elementary school knows the sinks have a level of funk no matter what you do. I take mine with me when I hike and go to the gym. Now I typically do not put ice in this because it is not insulated and will sweat. But, as I mentioned it has a filter that I like, but it also is spill proof which is why send it with the boys to school. It has a pop up top which is pretty easy to open and close, but for the most part you need to squeeze it to get the water out.

As I mentioned last week, we have two types of water containment devices for biking. All four of us have CamelBak Rogue Crux Reservoir Hydration Pack, Black/Graphite, 2.5 L/85 oz as well as CamelBak Podium Chill Insulated Water Bottle, Periwinkle, 21 oz Fill the pack up with ice and then add in the water. It will stay cold while you drink and bike or hike. I have often seen people have these at Disney as well. The water bottle is contoured to fit safely into the cage on the bike and not slip and slide while you ride. The ones I just got for the boys are insulated and which will help them stay cold longer. One thing to be aware of when using the pack is when you aren’t wearing it make sure the pack it NOT sitting on it’s bite valve. I can not tell you how many times we have put the down and found a puddle later (in the car, in the truck, on the ground, or even the kitchen counter). The water bottle has a twist close top, but just like the Brita bottles they don’t really leak even when open since you need to squeeze it.

Richard has two different water cups that he likes to use. He has a Tervis 1228352 UCF Knights Pregame Prep Tumbler with Wrap and Black Lid 16oz, ClearHe takes water with him to drink on his drive into work every day and then refills the cup with bottle water from work to drink on his drive home. The Tervis Tumbler he uses during the cooler months. He also has a YETI Rambler 20 oz Stainless Steel Vacuum Insulated Tumbler w/ MagSlider Lid, Black. This one he is using now because the water will stay colder and the ice will last beyond his morning drive. These fit perfectly into the cup holders in the truck.

Here you go… my must have for drinking water. Well I need to go refill “The BEAST” and keep drinking water. Do share… what is your favorite water containment device? You never know when I need to find another one.

** post contains product links. please read my disclosure statement.**

family · life · Must Have Monday

Must Have Monday– Mountain Biking

TTM_MHM

The boys start mountain biking lessons today. They have got pretty good at riding their bikes and are decent off the road too, but we wanted them to get some instruction on how to safely hit the trails. So here are our must haves for mountain biking.

First thing obviously is the bike. A mountain bike had much bigger wheels and different suspension than a street bike. They need to be able to go up, down, and over pretty much anything. The boys and Richard have Trek Mountain Bikes and Richard and I have Specialized Mountain Bikes. Yes, I meant to type Richard’s name twice, he has two bikes. His Trek bike is newer and “beefier” than his Specialized that he used in FL.

The next key item you need is a properly fitting helmet. All of us wear helmets and always will. My children learned when they were young that anytime they rode things with wheels they wear helmets. We also showed them how to wear it correctly. The helmet should sit flat on your head and the brim should sit just above your eyebrows. The straps need to be affixed below your chin and prevent the helmet from moving. The helmet should not be able to rock back and forth on your head more than an inch. It should also not be able to lift off your head. One reason the boys know that helmets is not an option is based on this story. When I was pregnant with Colby, Richard when mountain biking with some guys he knew. I received a phone call from him telling me he as on the way to the hospital. He had shattered his collarbone. The crash was bad. When we looked at his helmet when I picked up his bike and gear that one of the guys had collected from him, I noticed a dent in his helmet. I’m not sure Richard even realized that he had hit his head that hard. There wasn’t just a dent, there was a crack in the helmet and the foam on the inside was damaged. BUTTT, Richard’s head was not. If he had not been wearing his helmet that would have been his head, and the shattered collarbone may have seemed minor compared to him smashing his head on that rock instead of his helmet.

Ok enough of my pubic service message about helmets…

This weekend we went out and got the boys new hydration gear for them to use while biking. When we purchased their bikes we had Planet Bike Aluminum water bottle cage – black put on their bikes, this is one way they can tell their bikes apart (Blake’s cage is green and Colby’s is blue). We decided they needed bike specific water bottles (Camelbak Products Big Chill Water Bottle, Carbon, 25-Ounce) These water bottle fit perfectly into the bike water cage and will not slip. They need to have the indents in the top quarter to keep it from rolling out of the cage. We also decided to purchase them hydration packs. These will come in handy once they get more comfortable biking as you don’t have to stop to drink out of them. Richard and I both use them all the time when we bike and I use mine when I hike too. The boys have never had one before and are excited to have their CamelBak HydroBak Crux Reservoir Hydration Pack, Black/Graphite, 1.5 L/50 oz.

Now if you ask Richard what he needs there are a few other items. Richard has egg beater pedals which means he has to have Cycling Shoes. Richard and I both also have  Mountain Bike Biking Shorts, and Cycling Gloves . We both carry  Multitools Bicycle Repair Tool in our hydration packs. This tool pretty much can fix most anything on your bike or at least help someone who knows how to fix bikes help you fix it enough to get back to your vehicle.

The last big thing that we have for mountain biking is our Yakima FourTimer Hitch Bike Rack. This rack is right now mounted on the hitch on my car. The nice thing about this bike rack compared to many racks is the bike sits on the rack at the tires. There is an arm that brings a “hook” down over the front tire and a strap that holds the bottom of the back tire. So many of the bike racks have the bikes hang on their frame. This isn’t good for the frame of the bike and you have to make sure to balance it perfectly on the hook. With the Yakima FourTimer Hitch Bike Rack, you don’t have anything touching your frame and you can’t put the bike in wrong (for the most part).

So, when it’s time to go, I just need to the Camelbak Products Big Chill Water Bottle, Carbon, 25-Ounce filled. The we can load the bikes into the Yakima FourTimer Hitch Bike Rack. The boys will then bring their helmets with them and they will be good to go. Hopefully they enjoy this mountain biking class. I know Richard is ready for them to be able to hit the trails with more confidence. Me… today I’m going to walk and/or read while they are in their class and we will go from there.

**Please read my disclosure statement**

book · food · reviews · through my camera lens

Roasted Thanksgiving Salad- Alton Brown

This week we had a lot of new recipes on our menu. I really enjoyed all the recipes. And, they all came from on location:Alton Brown: EveryDayCook. First, we had fish sticks, then pizza dough, and then finally Roasted Thanksgiving Salad.

The roasted Thanksgiving Salad was the healthiest of all, and actually really yummy! Think roasted veggies, quinoa, apples and pumpkin seeds in a mustard vinaigrette. This was a great side dish and I’ve had it a few days cold for lunch.

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Roasted Thanksgiving Salad (recipe adapted from Alton Brown: EveryDayCook)

Ingredients:
  • 2 lbs. of Sweet Potatoes, ~3 medium, peeled & cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 lb. of Parsnips, ~3-5, peeled & cut into bite-sized pieces (use the smaller ones as the large ones are too woody)
  • 1 Red Onion, small, diced
  • ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons of Olive Oil
  • 2 teaspoons of Kosher Salt
  • 1 cup of Quinoa, rinsed in cool water & drained
  • ¼ teaspoon of Cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons of Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons of Agave Nectar
  • 1 tablespoon of Dijon Mustard
  • 2 medium Gala Apple, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1/2 cup of roasted Pepitas
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Place the sweet potatoes, parsnips, and red onion on a baking sheet pan lined with a silpat mat or parchment paper. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 1 teaspoon of salt. Roast for 15 minutes, toss and then roast for 10 more minutes or under the veggies are golden and tender.
  3. While the vegetables are roasted, prepare the quinoa. Boil 2 cups of of water and ½ teaspoon of salt in a saucepan. When boiling, whisk in the quinoa and cinnamon. Cover and reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool, still covered, for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork.
  4. For the vinaigrette, combine the remaining ¼ cup of olive oil, vinegar, agave nectar, mustard, and ½ teaspoon of salt in a jar with a lid, shake to emulsify.
  5. Toss the vegetables, quinoa, and dressing together in a large bowl. Top with apples and pepitas just before serving.

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I ended up doubling my dressing since I used more sweet potato, parsnip and apple than was originally called for in the recipe. You easily could change the veggies in this recipe, carrots would make a nice addition and add a bit more sweetness.

Richard and I both enjoyed this and said that the apple and pumpkin seeds added a nice texture to the recipe. I was thinking that if you put wheat berries into this for 1/2 the quinoa you would add in a chewy texture and an additional ancient grain.

The original recipe called for thyme and sage, but I didn’t add these to mine. I can see how they would add to the Thanksgiving feel, but since we were making it in April I didn’t see the need for it to feel Thanksgiving. It also used maple syrup instead of agave nectar, I only have cheap fake maple syrup and didn’t want to use that in this dish, plus it was almost gone. I figured it was looking to add sweetness as much as anything so that’s why I used the agave nectar.

I’m ready to start adding more veggie heavy dishes to our menu. The dish could be used all year long and is hearty enough, in my opinion to be used as a main dish. I served it with grilled chicken.

There is nothing new on our menu this week. Life is going to be busy for the next few weeks so I’m not sure how many new dishes we will see, but you never know.

Hope you enjoy your Friday Eve!

family · food · reviews

Alton Brown’s Pizza Dough

The week of Alton continues with tonight’s edition… pizza! I made a batch of Alton Brown’s pizza dough from his book Alton Brown: EveryDayCook, are you motivated to buy this cookbook yet? (Did you see my post about his fish sticks that I made on Friday? No?!? Click here and check it out)

I did not make any changes to this recipe, so you can find it here on Alton’s site. I did measure everything out with my kitchen scale. I made it in the bread machine instead of in the stand mixer, I just have better luck with dough this way.

You need to plan ahead with this recipe because the dough needs to rise in the fridge 18-24 hours. You take the dough out 30 minute before making your pizza product. Alton suggests cutting the dough into three. We used this to make three different products. We made a grilled pepperoni pizza, a baked two cheese stromboli and garlic butter rolls.

pizza1To make the rolls, I cut the dough into bite size pieces and then rolls them around into a ball shape. I put cornmeal on the counter while I worked as well as on the baking sheet to add extra crunch and prevent sticking. I baked these in a 450 oven for 17 minutes. While they baked I heated EVOO and microplanned 3 cloves of garlic into the oil. When the garlic just began to brown, I added 1/2 stick of butter and let this melt. When it was melted, I brushed it on top of the rolls. (These rolls were my favorite part of the meal.. .just saying!)pizza3

Richard made the pizza and stromboli. For the pizza, he grills both sides of the dough on screaming hot grill. When they are starting to brown on both sides, he brings it in and tops it with sauce, cheese and pepperoni. Then it goes back on the grill to crisp up and melt the cheese. The grill wasn’t as hot as we like it so the crust wasn’t as crunchy this time.

pizza2The dough for the stromboli gets stretched and tossed the same way the pizza dough does. He then lays it onto a cookie sheet and puts the toppings on one half of the dough. This time it was mozzarella and provolone cheese. (We never put sauce in our stromboli because it seems to make the crust mushy.) Then you fold the un-filled part of the dough over the filled and roll the edges together to crimp them. You also need to cut in vent holes to let the steam out. This gets baked for 20-25 min in a 350 oven. We have decided that next time we will make it in a hotter oven for less time since the rolls came out really crispy and yummy.

I will be making this pizza dough again!

A few things we learned:

  • Make sure you put the dough in a large enough bowl over night, ours was over the top and down the sides in the morning
  • These rolls were so worth it and I’ll make them again, but make sure they are closer in size, the bigger ones were good (by big I mean doughnut hole size instead of walnut size)
  • Possible additions/alterations to the rolls
    • put fresh mozzarella in the middle
    • put cheddar cheese in the middle and serve with soup or chili
  • The garlic butter needed more garlic and maybe a pinch or two of salt
  • Go for a hotter oven/grill and shorter cook time.
book · reviews

Snowfall at Willow Lake– book review

I just got back from a 2 mile walk in the neighborhood. I needed to go put something in the mailbox, we have central mailboxes not ones at each house, so I decided to take a real walk. I love the fact that I can get a good walk in right in my neighborhood and I don’t even have to walk the same route each time or walk in circles to get a decent distance in.

I could take this walk because spring has finally arrived. It is so nice to have the windows open. We have turned off the heat and don’t need to turn on the A/C yet so that will save on the gas and electric bill… that is always a good thing!

Yesterday while the boys were playing on the PS4 and Richard was building his workbench, which is almost finished, I decided to get my book from upstairs and finish it off. I have been reading Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban downstairs. I have been enjoying this trip back to Hogwarts that I decided to take. I also like having a book downstairs that I can read. I need something that I can put down at any time. I need something that will hold my attention, but not enrapture me so much that I loose track of time. AND most important, I need a book that has the qualities that I try to pick out in the books the boys read. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve caught them reading over my shoulder… some adult books are still very much not appropriate for them, and I don’t read smut books.

Anyway,…. I finished reading Snowfall at Willow Lake, by Susan Wiggs. This book is part of a series, but I’ve never read any of the other books in the series, at least I don’t think I have. My mom brought this book to me on her last trip up to PA.

Sophie Bellamy would appear to have everything someone could want in life. She worked in Hague as an international attorney. She dedicated her life to helping others. But, when life took a turn and she found herself in a hostage situation, she realized that the life she was leading was missing one big piece, her children.

Sophie decided then and there to move back to the United States, into the town where her children lived with her ex-husband and his new wife, and her whole family. This transition won’t be easy, and not even close to smooth, but she needs to put her life into a new perspective.

Life decides to throw her one more curve ball when she crashes her car the night she arrives in Avalon. Noah Shepherd, the local veterinarian came to her rescue that night. Read to find out if Sophie can mend her relationship with her son Max and daughter Daisy. How will she adjust to being a grandmother to her grandson Charlie? Can she live in a small town filled with her ex-husband’s family and new wife’s family? What will come about in meeting Noah Shepherd?

I just started reading my next book last night and I’m already enjoying it. Maybe I should take it outside and read it in the sunshine? What are you reading? Where is your favorite place to read? Do you read one book at a time or multiple?

–This link contains affiliate links. It doesn’t cost you anything extra if you purchase an item through these links, and I get a little extra to help. Please read my disclosure statement.  Thanks!–

 

book · life

To Kindle or not to Kindle… that is the question

So yesterday I began the search for my next book to read. I didn’t find one, but I began thinking that I may need to give in and get a kindle. So many of the books I was looking at I could get free for the kindle with my Amazon Prime membership, but had to pay over $12 to get the paperback version. I’m so hesitant. I have tried to read on my phone and on my tablet and hated it. I keep reading that if you get the kindle paperwhite it is so much better and feels more book-like. I read a lot (see my book reviews here) and know that I would make back the cost of the kindle in short time, but….

So, do you have a kindle that you read on or other device for reading? Do you have the paperwhite or the original version? What do you like most about it, least? Is it worth the expense? Can you find enough books on there that are worth reading with little to no expense?

On the same but different topic… I need a new books soon. I am almost done reading the book I have on my nightstand. I also just finished reading the Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, yes in the illustrated version again. I am going to start reading Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban as we have that illustrated version too. But, I do not have a desire to read those at bedtime, they are a bit cumbersome. So what should I look at next? I like historical fiction, mystery, romance (not smut), and just general fiction books.

**this post contains Amazon links. please read my disclosure statement.  thanks!**