A Travel Theme Baby Shower

The only thing as exciting as finding out your pregnant is finding out your sister is pregnant. My younger sister, Kristie, is expecting her first child in about 3 weeks and I couldn’t be happier. I am so unbelievably excited about being an Aunt. How awesome will it be to spoil the little boy rotten and send him home to his Mama? Ahh I can’t wait!

baby shower biscuits

When I first found out, I immediately started pinning and planning for the baby shower. How the heck did people plan parties before Pinterest? Seriously! With Pinterest & the help of Kristie’s friend, my other sister and step-mom we were able to put together quite the impressive Travel Themed Baby Shower (if I do say so myself).

Here are some of my tips and inspiration for throwing a Travel Theme Baby Shower!

Personalization

Now, I’m no party planner. In fact, I’ve only thrown a handful of parties (mostly for my kiddos). But to me the most important part of throwing any party is personalization. When i first started thinking about my plans for the baby shower, my main focus was on the mom-to-be. I tried to think about her likes and dislikes, her personality, and ways to make the shower truly reflect who she is as a person. My sister is a free spirit who loves to travel, is passionate about eating healthy & being vegan, and she’s so funny and caring. She actually had the Travel idea for the nursery, so we decided to use that as the baby shower theme. We ordered some fabulous, delicious vegan cupcakes in strawberry, coconut, and vanilla – Yum! We chose incorporate some handmade items for a special touch. One of my favorite pinterest ideas that we found, was the poem that we included on the homemade invitations (see below) asking guests to bring a used or new book with a handwritten message for the baby. What a great way to establish a meaningful book collection. Adding personal and creative touches to any party is a great way to make it special and memorable for everyone.

DIY

Who doesn’t love some handmade goodness? I believe most beautiful things are handmade. Luckily for me, I have an aunt who is extremely crafty. Seriously, I look forward to her handmade cards and gifts for my kids every holiday. She made some amazing Travel Theme post card invitations for the baby shower. I ordered a handmade vintage passport journal to use as the guest book for people to write wishes and advice for the parents-to-be. We had a table set up with plain white onesies for each guest to decorate and add their personal touch. I used a chalkboard to add some information about the baby and parents for people to read as they entered the room. We made a small white board with pictures of the parents when they were babies and a picture of the baby’s sonogram saying, “Who do you think Silas will look like?”. Put in the time and create something special. You will not regret it.

GAMES

Not everyone’s a fan of the typical baby shower games, so we decided to keep it simple and fun. As I mentioned before, we had everyone decorate a onesie and decided to turn this into a game by having my sister choose her favorite one (she had no idea who did what). Another game we chose to do was the clothespin game. Everyone had to grab a clothespin when they walked in the door and then every time someone said the word “baby” they got to take their clothespin. The person with the most clothespins wins. See, simple and fun! Lastly, this one was a little more complicated, but it was a printable where you had to try to match the word baby with the language that it belonged. This game was a little more tricky, but it fit the theme perfectly and gave people something to do while the presents were being opened. When choosing games for a baby shower, be unique and keep them simple and fun!

GAME GIFTS

baby shower giftsPinterest has great ideas for gifts to give to the game winners. We had 3 games and 3 gift. We gave a bottle of champagne, bath and body products, and hand towels. There’s no need to spend a lot of money on the gifts, but try to add a little something extra to make it fun!

A baby shower is such a happy time and it deserves to be remembered in every way. Take photos of everything. Include the little details, the gifts, the laughter, and the joy. A baby shower can be very overwhelming and exhausting for the mom-to-be and may even seem like a blur when its over. The pictures taken will help to put all the pieces together. You will never regret having too many pictures and someday, when the baby shower is a distant memory you will be thankful that you captured it all.

CELEBRATE

Most importantly, don’t get too caught up in throwing the perfect party. This is a time to celebrate.

Socialize, photograph, eat, laugh, and enjoy!

The Best Vacuum Sealer to Preserve Food

If you’re someone who buys food in bulk then I’m sure you’ve encountered storage problems. Thankfully, a vacuum sealer is the perfect solution for this problem because you can easily buy these foods in bulk and then use this machine to ensure that they are kept fresh for a longer period of time. So what does this machine do? Basically, it just sucks all of the air out of a bag and then seal the bag that contains your food. This tight seal ensures that air cannot gain entry, which ultimately means that there won’t be any substances like bacteria that can potentially spoil your food. As a result of this, your food is kept fresh for a lot longer than you’d normally come to expect.

sealing food

To explain this a bit better, we all know that air is another term for oxygen. This oxygen is required by things like bacteria and fungi to initiate the decomposition of food. This is the process that spoils your food and eventually leads to a lot of food wastage in every home across the entire world. Buying the best vacuum sealer means that you can prevent these bacteria and fungi to have access to Oxygen and thus, prevent the food from going bad within a short period of time.

So by now, you’re probably thinking about checking out some vacuum sealer reviews. I think there are a lot of these products that perform brilliantly well. Some are pricey and some work well despite costing a lot less. It really depends on your personal needs and how good a machine you want.

When I was getting my first machine, I went looking for the best vacuum sealer for the money. I set a fixed budget and went to find something associated with high quality within that budget. I think I narrowed down the list to two products – one of them was the Foodsaver V2244 and the other was the Foodsaver Gamesaver Deluxe. The V2244 caught my attention initially because of the fact that it was one of the best selling vacuum sealers. The reviews were excellent and performance seems to match what I was looking for. The Gamesaver Deluxe on the other hand was a bit cheaper so that suited me as well.

After looking at the pros and cons of both machines and evaluating almost every aspect, I went for the V2244, simply because I wanted the highest quality product within my budget. My vacuum sealer arrived a few weeks back and to tell you the truth, I’m fairly delighted by it so far. I must admit I’ve not had the chance to test out every single feature but so far, it definitely looks like a good buy.

The sealing performance is great and I’ve been sealing meats and liquids as well. With liquids, I just freeze them before sealing them and then pop the sealed bag back in the freezer. This has meant that there have been no leakages and the liquids have remained intact within the bag. In terms of meat, I sealed some beef two weeks back and had the opportunity to cook it today and it tasted fresh and didn’t have any bad smell or funky taste in it. I don’t think I even need to talk about this because we all know that this process and the use of a vacuum sealer is fairly common now. But to be honest, I can only see the use of this machine increasing because I know that a lot of average households still don’t own a vacuum sealer. By the way, the V2244 comes in a fairly small size and is compact enough to be stored away quite easily. In my opinion, the combination of the compact design, performance and the price is what makes this the best vacuum cleaner if you’re looking for something that isn’t too expensive. Now I just hope the build quality is good enough to last me a few years at the very least.

Turlu Turlu Turkish Vegetable Herb Casserole & Kale Salad

First, I have to say that I am completely honored to have been featured on Kimberly Snyder’s blog for my Glowing Green Soup. This totally gave me the confidence I needed to keep on going with this whole blogging thing.

So this weeks assignment was a Turkish Vegetable Casserole dish. I’m fairly new to this whole veggie lifestyle. I’ve always been a HUGE meat fan. Although I don’t think I will ever completely eliminate meat from my diet, I have cut back tremendously and I feel great. To be honest, each time I make a completely meat-free meal I am shocked at how satisfied I feel after. And that is exactly how I felt about this dish. Completely satisfied. It was so flavorful and filling and my whole family really enjoyed it. Here’s my version.

vegetable casserole

Turlu Turlu Turkish Vegetable Herb Casserole & Kale Salad (serves 2-4)

1 zucchini, sliced

1 summer squash, sliced

1 yellow pepper, cubed

1 cup of asparagus, chopped

10 small purple potatoes, halved

1 medium onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1 cup carrots, sliced thin

1 – 14.5 oz can of organic diced tomatoes with basil, garlic, oregano

1/2 cup of water

2 tbsp coconut oil (plus some for greasing pan)

1 tbsp fresh oregano

1 tbsp fresh basil

1 tbsp thyme

2 tsp cayenne

1/2 tsp of ground cinnamon

salt & pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Chop all of your vegetables and fresh herbs and throw them into a large bowl. Mix in can of tomatoes, spics, and coconut oil.

Grease your casserole dish and spread the vegetable mixture evenly. I used two smaller casserole dishes (one with cayenne pepper and one without for the kiddos), but you could simply use one large casserole dish. Pour the half cup of water over the entire dish.

Bake in oven for an hour or until all vegetables are tender. I mixed the vegetables half way to make sure they were all cooking evenly. Top the veggies over some kale for a delicious salad. You could also serve this with brown rice, quinoa or pasta.

Sooo yummy. This is definitely going to be a new regular meal in my house. What’s one of your favorite go-to vegetable dishes?

My Glowing Green Soup (GGSo) Remix – Maine Style

Hi Beauties!

If you haven’t read The Beauty Detox Solution or heard of Kimberly Snyder, I feel sorry for you. Google her now, thank me later!

I’m an active member of the The Beauty Detox Solution Community and I will be sharing lots of BDS approved recipes and tips on this blog. (Disclaimer: I don’t always follow the book guidelines to a T, but I do feel the principles and information provided in this book are essential to living a healthier life.)

glowing green soup

The bloggers of the BDS community were given an assignment to create our own unique Glowing Green Soup (GGSo). At first, the thought of creating a Green Soup truly scared me since I’m not much of a Green Soup Lover. But I took a leap of faith and it turned out to be surprisingly great.

Since I’m from Maine and it’s that time of the year, I chose to incorporate Fiddleheads in my soup, along with some other yummy & healthy ingredients. The best part about this soup (besides that it’s SUPER nutritious) is that it’s very adaptable. You can easily substitute any of the ingredients to suit you taste buds.

Serves: 5-6

2 cups fiddleheads

3 cups spinach

3 cups vegetable broth

1 cup unsweetened original almond milk

1 small sweet onion (or ½ large small onion)

½ of a sweet potato

½ of a lemon juiced

½ teaspoon Himalayan salt

½ cayenne and/or red pepper flakes (use less if you don’t want it too spicy)

Jalapeños, cucumber, beets, for topping

*you will also need a Vitamix or high quality blender for this recipe.

Make sure to thoroughly wash your fiddleheads, spinach, and sweet potatoes.

Blend the first 3 ingredients in blender for 30 seconds.

Add the remaining ingredients and blend for 30-60 seconds, depending on the desired texture (the longer you blend, the smoother it will be)

Lastly, use a spiralizer on the cucumber, shred a little off the beets, and slice a few jalapeños for an extra spicy flare. Now dig in and Enjoy!

***Please note: There will be no need to heat the soup, the blender will warm it up perfectly. Also, this soup has a very earthly taste and is quite spicy, if followed exactly. I sure love A LOT of spice, but if you don’t, feel free to omit the spices and jalapeños and add your own special touch. Lastly, if you do not have access to fiddleheads, asparagus could be used as a replacement.

My Love-Hate Relationship with Grocery Shopping

I absolutely love food and cooking. Literally, I could eat and talk about food ALL day.

But shopping for it? Now, that takes time, organization, socializing, money… Ahh I’m exhausted just thinking about it.

relationship with grocery shopping

Let me elaborate. In my house I do all of the grocery shopping. Don’t get me wrong, I love being able to pick out the food I want and spend however much I want (sort of). Truthfully, if I had endless amounts of time I would LOVE grocery shopping. I would take my precious little time, browse up and down every aisle, inspect ingredient lists, and chat it up with all the familiar faces — but really? Who’s got time for all that?

So, let’s be real. When you work 40 hours, have 2 kids, a fiancé who works most weekends, a side job and endless amounts of other shit to do.. why would I want to spend part of my weekend in a grocery store? The honest answer to my rhetorical question is that I need to eat and so does my family!

One of my best friends used to do her whole weeks worth of grocery shopping in her half hour lunch break. I was always amazed by this and sometimes try to time myself or set an alarm reminding myself to “proceed to checkout”, but I definitely haven’t mastered her skills, just yet.

And don’t get me started on grocery shopping with the kids…now that’s a task in itself. Usually, if Seth’s working and I’m at home with the kids and need to go grocery shopping then that will be the big event of the day… and I mean BIG event. It usually will take up to 2 hours and if I’m lucky, I will only have 1 or 2 melt downs to deal with and only forget about 5 things (sigh).

So to help you & myself, I came up with 5 tips to help you get IN and OUT of the grocery store as quickly as possible:

1. ALWAYS bring a grocery list: I like to take this even further to the point where I organize my list by how the grocery store is set up (ex. divide list in sections by: vegetables & fruit // meat // grains, etc.)

2. Leave the kids at home: OK, this may not always be possible all of the time, but I’ve tried to get in the habit of only going grocery shopping when I don’t have to bring the kids. It’s just SO much faster, and often, cheaper.

3. Stick to the same grocery store each week: I used to change up the grocery store I went to often, but I realized if I just stick to the one I know by heart, I am able to get in and out much faster. Of course, if there are special deals at other stores, then by all means follow the sales! So if I wanted the ingredients for my sweet potato salad with avocado herb dressing recipe, I would be able to find these much quicker.

4. Just say “Hi!” & move along: If you live in a small town like I do, no matter how hard you try, you will run into someone you know. I’ve gotten into the habit of just smiling, saying “Hi” and keep on moving. If you seem focused on your list and in a hurry, most people get the hint and won’t bother to make small talk.

5. Make it fun!: If you aren’t in any rush, and just want to enjoy your grocery shopping experience, then do just that. Sometimes, I have the mindset where I want to go and explore, and perhaps buy a few new items. This is perfectly fine. Just expect your trip to be longer than normal and be okay with that. I like to do this about once a month when I’m feeling like a have a little extra time on my hands.

So, what are your thoughts on grocery shopping? Do you LOVE it or HATE it? Or do you have mixed feelings like me? Do you have any tips for getting in and out as quickly as possible?

Sweet Potato Salad with Avocado Herb Dressing

Since starting the Beauty Detox Challenge, I have really learned a lot.

I’ve learned that it’s exciting and fun of to change up a recipe. I used to always be the girl following the recipe exactly, afraid to make any little mistake and completely screw it up. I am no longer that person. I’m actually becoming obsessed with mixing up recipes and creating my own from whatever I have in the kitchen.

sweet potato avocado salad

I’ve learned that healthy eating is a lot easier when you invest your time in preparing unique dishes. I’ve always struggled with healthy eating, because I tend to stick to the same dishes and get sick of them. Now I feel like my options are truly endless!

I’ve learned that it’s always important to try things again and again. I’ve always been a bit of a “picky” eater, but I’ve never been afraid of trying new food (unless it’s something completely disgusting like chicken hearts or liver. NO Thanks!). However, sometimes I just assume I don’t like certain food because I tried it years ago and didn’t like it. This challenge has reminded me to keep trying food again and again even if you think you will not like it (hint: you just may like it the 4th time around)

This weeks recipe assignment is one of those “Ugh, I hate potato salad” moments. Well, let me tell you, I guess I had never tried sweet potato salad with avocado herb dressing! Really, I’ve only ever tried potato salad with mayo and I stand by my decision that that is gross.

Sweet Potato Salad with Avocado Herb Dressing

Salad:

2 Large or 3 small sweet potatoes

1/2 small onion, minced

1/3 cup celery, diced

dash of cayenne or cinnamon (depending on your preference, I chose cayenne)

salt & pepper to taste

Dressing:

1 whole ripe avocado (skin and seed remove)

1 garlic clove

1/2 of a lemon, juiced

1/2 cup of water

1/3 cup of fresh herbs (I used thyme, oregano, basil, & cilantro)

Directions:

Peel and cut the sweet potatoes in cubes. Place a single layer in steamer and steam until tender. Let potatoes cool while you begin to prepare the remainder.

Combine all of the dressing ingredients in a blender or a food processor for an easy 30 – 60 second blend. You’re dressing is ready!

Once the potatoes are cooled combine in a large bowl with the onions and celery. Pour in about half of the dressing and mix all ingredients together. You can decide if you’d like less/more dressing or save the remainder for a kale salad later.

I’m officially a potato salad lover. Tell me, have you always loved potato salad? Do you have any favorite potato salad recipes (sans mayo) you’d like to share with me?

10 Simple Steps to Ease Into a Healthy Lifestyle

Do you want to live a healthier lifestyle, but the simple thought of giving up food you love, working out and fully committing, terrifies you and stops you before you even start? Do you wish you wish you had the money to buy organic food or get a membership to the gym? Do you simply wish you had the time to put in the energy it takes to live a healthy lifestyle? Well, I’m here to tell you that I know exactly how you feel and I used to have all of these thoughts. You don’t need a lot of money or a gym membership to get started working towards a healthier life. When it comes to living a healthier lifestyle you have to first realize that no one is perfect. You may make mistakes or “fall off the bandwagon”, but that doesn’t mean you give up. As Kimberly Snyder always says, its about “progress not perfection”. I live by this quote and it keeps me motivated even when I feel like I’ve gone off track.

fruits and healthy eating

I created a list of simple and easy (but very important) steps you can take to ease you into a healthier lifestyle. Often times, when you make a drastic lifestyle change, such as completely changing the way you eat and going from not working out at all to working out everyday, you are more likely to get burnt out and give up. Small changes each and every day can have a much larger impact and can truly help you change your lifestyle.

If you are already living a healthy lifestyle, I’m sure there is someone you know who may be resistant or hesitant to change their ways and this list can give you some great ideas to help get them started on the right path without overwhelming them.

Start your morning off right: Drink hot water with lemon first thing in the morning to jump start your day. After a long night of sleep, you need to hydrate and energize and that is exactly what this drink will do for you. There are so many benefits to drinking hot water with lemon AND it’s absolutely delish!

Drink Green Smoothies: Now, just because I say “green” smoothies doesn’t mean it needs to be ALL green vegetables right away. Start with a simple strawberry and banana smoothie and add a bit of spinach. Overtime, increase the amount of spinach. Your taste buds will get used to the flavor and texture and eventually, you can start to add more greens and try different variations.

Get Sleep: Ultimately, this should be #1. You hear it over and over and read it everywhere, so why don’t you just listen? Sleep is so important to a truly healthy lifestyle. You should get between 7-9 hours of sleep every night. Make it a priority. No excuses!

Focus on what you CAN eat: When beginning a path towards healthy eating its important to focus on adding vegetables and healthy foods, instead of focusing on what you CAN’T have. If you put all of your energy and thoughts into what you “shouldn’t” or “can’t” eat, you will feel deprived and eventually, end up eating something unhealthy. Start by incorporate a salad with each meal and adding more vegetables and fruit throughout the day. Over time you will get used to the healthier foods and you may even notice that you start craving and actually wanting healthy foods over processed food.

Enjoy eating: Eating food is all about nourishing your body. You should never feel guilt or associate food with negative feelings. Eating food should be enjoyable, and not so much about the food, but the experience. Try to make preparing dinner fun by turning on some music or cooking with your family or friends. Sit down and talk and take your time while eating meals. Try to limit eating on the go and eating in front of the television. Food is wonderful, enjoy it!

Walk more: This is another commonly hear and read statement, but its so true. If you jump into a rigid work out routine while trying to get on a healthy track you may start out good and after 2 weeks you’ll be burnt out and possibly quit completely. Start simple, by taking the stairs instead of the elevator, going inside a Dunkin’ Donuts instead of through the drive through, part further at the grocery store. Start small and work your way up to a solid work out routine.

walk more

Write in a Journal: This is a great place to write out your health goals, track what you are eating, and write about how you are feeling. This may seem weird and/or pointless, but it’s important to write how you are feeling and keep track of your progress towards a healthy lifestyle. It can be quite inspiring to look back and reflect on how much you’ve grown.

Read a book: Pick up a book on health and start learning. A few of my favorites are Beauty Detox Foods, Whole and In Defense of Food. If you’re not into reading books, pick up a health magazine or two (my favorite!). It can me quite motivating when you learn the benefits of healthy living.

Prioritize “me” time: In today’s world, everyone’s busy. A lot of people forget to take time for themselves. It’s important to prioritize some “me” time, even if it’s for 10 minutes a day. Find something that truly makes you happy such as meditating or yoga for 10 minutes, a hot bath, painting your nails, or whatever it is, do it for you and no one else.

Practice gratitude: Be thankful. Make it a point to start each day by thinking about something you are thankful for. Practicing gratitude can greatly increase your mood. The more you practice, the more it will become natural to you. Gratitude will give you peace of mind and happiness inside.