Archive for August 2011

I'm a Thriftaholic image courtesy of Meet Virginia Design

I was reading the latest post from Alina at My Yellow Umbrella and saw this link entitled “I’m a Thriftaholic“. Wow, now that caught my attention!

I wouldn’t consider myself as loyal a “thrifty shopper” as my friend Kristen who buys & sells on Craig’s List and always knows the local thrift store sales (I wasn’t even aware that thrift stores have sales!)  Kristen faithfully goes to garage sales on Fri/Sat mornings (I think I’ve been to less than five Garage Sales ever, and it was with K!)  But I DO love to find a good bargain on Ebay, at a consignment store, thrift store, or church sale.

I’ve clothed my kids in Euro and boutique clothing which I’ve randomly found while looking for toys or DVDs.  I’m picky about smoke or animal smells, which is why I only like to pick up things which can be Clorox-ed or washed in hot water.   I’ve found some nice maternity clothing, business suits and blue jeans while thrift shopping.

So Morgan and her friend Ana over at the Meet Virginia and Sweet Serendipity blogs have come up with a way to unite the like-minded.  Brilliant–I’m in!

While looking for a fall calendar, I came across this collection of checklists on the Moms Who Think blog.

Checklist photo courtesy of Moms Who Think

What a great way to get organized for back-to-school!

Among the long list of checklists are Grocery Shopping, Budget Worksheet, House Cleaning, Vacation, Babysitter, and First Aid Supplies.

And while there, I also found these fantastic lists of Adjectives and Words that Rhyme!  To me, that is like finding buried treasure!

If a person who loves cooking and eating is called a “Foodie“, is a person who loves words called a “Wordie“?! (And I don’t mean verbose!)

Check out Angela’s blog “Anything but Perfect” and see all of her generous and adorable FREE printables! I was looking for a September calendar this morning and came across her blog.

She also has an etsy store, with an editable personalized version of her School Notes!

Thank you Angela!

Free Printable September 2011 Calendar.

I just made this delicious summer salad, first posted by Elizabeth Rider at Whole Living Blog and reposted by Alina at My Yellow Umbrella.  Thanks ladies!


Black Bean & Quinoa Salad
Prep Time: 15 min
Total Time: 20 min
Serves 4-6

Ingredients for the dressing:

•1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
•2 tbsp Agave Nectar (or Honey, but I prefer Agave as it’s low-glycemic)
•1/2 tsp Cayenne Pepper
•1 Tsp Cumin
•1 Clove Pressed Garlic
Ingredients for the Salad:

•3/4 Cup Dry Quinoa
•1 Can Whole Black Beans
•1 Red Bell Pepper
•1 Handful Cilantro
•1 Bunch Green Onion (about 7-9 onions)


1.Combine all dressing ingredients in bowl and set aside to allow the garlic to diffuse.
2.Cook quinoa according to package instructions.  (With whole grains in general, double the amount of water for the amount of grains you are cooking, combine water and grains in a pot, bring to a boil, then simmer until the water is cooked into the grains.  In this case, 1.5 cups of water and 3/4 cup quinoa should take about 15-20 minutes to cook. Careful to not let it burn!)
3.While the quinoa is cooking, chop the red bell pepper and green onion into small pieces.
4.Drain and rinse the black beans.  Make sure to give them a good run under the water and drain out completely.
5.Give the cilantro a medium chop.
6.Combine all ingredients and dressing and fold together. Salt and black pepper to taste. (Can be served warm or chilled, and keeps in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.)


I substituted a mixture of white, red & black quinoa and used honey because that’s all I had on hand.   I also only had 1/2 of a red pepper, but it still tasted excellent.

I stopped at a wonderful country farm-stand yesterday and purchased these striking vegetables!

Phenomenal variegated tomatoes!

A gigantic yellow one!

There were also several golf ball sized perfectly round, red, juicy tomatoes, and two or three large slicing tomatoes.

The baby ugly tomatoes were eaten like cherries on our way home so they are not in this photo.   I’m not sure of their variety but after doing a quick online search I think they might have been Costoluto Genovese.  Aren’t they cool?

Today for lunch I had a fresh salad made with several of the small variegated tomatoes and a spring mix of baby lettuces, greens and radicchio. I devoured it with the Lemon Caesar dressing that our family loves.


I also picked up purple basil and the most lovely variegated baby eggplant!

I’d love to find a “summer version” of egglant parmesan.  I like my own recipe but I usually make it in the wintertime because it’s hearty and filling.  I’m going to be looking for a lighter version to make with these fresh vegetables.  This is truly farm to table!

A hearty breakfast which is delicious and healthy is Greek yogurt with unsweetened Muesli

Today I’m eating CHOBANI brand yogurt, which is all natural and made in NY state! 

I put about 1/4 cup of Old Country Style Muesli (raw grains, fruit & nuts) on the fruit yogurt.  It’s chewy and satisfying. 



Great recipe to bring to a party!

Taco Mound    

Layer on a serving platter or quiche dish, in this order:

Mix together and spread on top:

  • 1 16-oz. container sour cream
  • 1 1-oz. package taco seasoning

Add fresh pico de gallo salsa made with:

  • 3 chopped tomatoes
  • 1/2 sweet or Vidalia onion
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic, pressed
  • juice of 1/2 lemon or lime (taste it and perhaps you’ll use both halves)
  • fresh cilantro, chopped (a handful)
  • olive oil (splash)
  • salt & pepper
  • Tabasco pepper sauce (a few shakes) or part of a fresh jalapeño pepper, minced

Top with:

  • 1 bag shredded sharp cheddar cheese or Mexican Style Finely Shredded Cheese (a blend of Cheddar, Monterey Jack & other cheeses)

Serve with tortilla corn chips. (We like TOSTITOS®  Scoops or Hint of Lime.)

This is so delicious and people always ask for the recipe!

 Thanks Sarah!

Okay so if most of your family doesn’t like seafood you can’t make traditional caesar dressing with anchovies.

We’ve found a delicious substitute which makes us want to have extra helpings of salad!

Caesar Dressing

  • 1 tsp. freshly grated lemon zest (I zest the entire lemon with my Microplane and add it all)
  • 3 TBSP. fresh lemon juice (Always use a real lemon – never bottled!)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (always use fresh garlic – never from a jar.  I press two large cloves with my Garlic Press.)
  • 1 tsp. white wine vinegar
  • 2/3 c. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp. coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt (I use Real Salt from Utah.)

This recipe is from The New Basics Cookbook by Julee Rosso & Sheila Lukins © 1989 (Authors of The Silver Palate Cookbook & several more.)

Serve over romaine lettuce, with Kraft Shredded Parmesan cheese and croutons.   If you have a Cheese Grater, then definitely use a hunk of authentic Parmigiano-Reggiano or asiago.

Eat with crusty bread and red wine.


One of our favorite board books is called Upside Down. It’s written by Jill Lamere of Minikin Studio.  It’s so cleverly done, that when you get to the final page you actually turn the book upside down and continue reading! The way the girl is positioned on each page works so that she’s either right-side up or upside-down.  She deals with common things that parents and children battle such as what to eat and bath time.  The rhyming is clever, the artwork is adorable, and the kids love it!  We’ve given this book as a gift to several preschoolers.

 Book Description

Upside Down is a story about a little girl who wishes the world was upside down … until she talks herself right out of it! This book is designed to be read through forward, then flipped around and read back through in the other direction.

Jill Lamere holds the Independent Publisher’s 2006 award for Best Children’s Picture Books (ages 6 & under). 

The King’s Crown, which is vinyl and meant to be used in the bathtub is another fave.  You read the book about a little boy in a castle, and when you’ve reached the end you snap the book together and it makes a crown for your child to wear!  There are snaps in two spots so that it will fit more than one toddler. 

Book Description
Age Level: 1-3 | Grade Level: P-K
Kids take a journey through an enchanted castle in search of hidden treasure and are treated to a surprise at the end of the book. As the journey unfolds, this waterproof book magically transforms into the reader’s very own crown, all shiny with gold foil. Children will delight in the story, and the crown will become a mainstay of dress-up wardrobes. Innovative and durable, this storybook is perfect for use in the tub or pool.


And this talented author and illustrator’s other book, The Wishing Star is as unique and innovative as the others.  It’s a bedtime story about a little bunny, and you actually fold the pages into a 3D star, which is glow in the dark, to hang in the child’s room at night. 

 Book Description
Age Level: 3-5 | Grade Level: P-K
A sweet, funny lullaby that opens up into a glow-in-the-dark three-dimensional star when the story is finished. Little ones can tie the front cover to the back cover and hang this star above their bed and make a wish.


The packaging is also very cool.  The King’s Crown, comes in a little bag with a handle, and The Wishing Star comes in a heavy-duty keepsake box.  Very classy.

Now go get yourselves copies of these awesome books for your kids!

This summer I had a super-yummy Sangria.  Here you go:

  • Barefoot “Sweet Red” wine 1.5 Liter bottle, chilled
  • De Kuyper Peachtree peach schnapps 1/3 of the 1 Liter bottle
  • Club Soda 3/4 of the 1 Liter bottle
  • Lemonade to taste
  • Cut up fruit (green apples, oranges, fresh cherries) and let soak all day!

Different and refreshing (although “girly” for sure!)

Thanks Sarah! 😉