Sunday, August 18, 2013

R.I.P Troy

Well, Troy, Mason's dwarf hamster, has crossed the little hamster rainbow bridge. It was sad. He was a pain in the little furry-hamster-butt (both of us will readily admit), but it is still sad to lose part of the family. He got a proper burial and now we will never sign up for hamster ownership again ;)


Moving forward..

I seem to have quite the aspiring chef on my hands! Mason has really enjoyed learning new recipes, recreating some, and inventing his own this summer! Last year at the Potato Fest he indulged in a pirogi (here we go with that word again!) sandwich. Ever since his first bite he has wanted to make his own. So, a year later I managed to pull together all the ingredients (hey, I'm busy) for him to make this "amazing" sandwich. And this is what he came up with..

He enjoyed it. I wouldn't touch it with a 10-foot pole. I was SO happy, though that he had the desire to get into the kitchen to cook and create!! I am so proud of him!

I found bananas!! Lots and lots of bananas!! Years ago I used to find these bags of overripe bananas at the grocery store all the time, then they just sort of disappeared. I picked up a few items today for the week and I spotted the "old ripe banana" cart sitting right in the middle of the produce aisle!! I screamed a little and darted straight for it as if I had competition (obviously these bananas have been around for so long, no one wanted them, that's how they landed themselves into the sad looking cart!). No worries, I wasn't fighting off any sweet old ladies to score this deal (sadly, I admit I have used my ability to speed walk to my advantage when I see a good produce deal. Shamefully, it has involved the elderly). I wanted so bad to take all the bags of bananas but for fear of being looked at as a "banana hoarder" or a "crazy banana lady", I refrained. I know that I would use them all, but..I guess I would let others have a chance at baking some amazing banana bread or cake or enhance their own smoothies. I don't want to be greedy, now!

So, here is my big deal:

Ready for the cost?? $.99 a BAG!! For $1.98 I got 24 bananas (.8 cents a banana!) Some of them are still fresh enough to last a few more days. The others, I peeled, cut in half, and froze. Mason drinks a lot of smoothies (I do, too), he can whip them up in a flash for a quick, healthy snack, so this makes the smoothie dollar stretch that much further!

All in all it was a pretty good weekend. I have been daydreaming about Maine so much lately, I really want to be there right now! Check out this photo that was posted by an amazing photographer from Maine:

That has to be the most perfect picture, ever!!

Sunday, August 11, 2013


So, apparently blogging once a year is my new thing. That's just how I roll. I would bore all of you with a life update, but I will sum it all up in one word: INSANITY.

I am working on a laptop without a "T" key, so let's just say, "Mason had some_hing _o do wi_h i_ ".

I decided to blog this morning because my inner (frugal) genius decided to rear it's wonderful presence into my kitchen this morning. I was making my annual summer "Panera Salad" and just as I was getting ready to throw away the strawberry tops, that "genius" (I will call her Wilhelmina, for lack of a better name & that is the first name that popped into my head (kind of strange, huh?)) yelled at me to "STOP"!! I was just as confused as you are reading this, but I decided to go with it. I found this new yogurt at the store:

I was THRILLED ECSTATIC!! I usually get the SO Delicious brand, which actually lives up to it's name (if I start to dream about almonds then I will know this yogurt will also live up to its name), but I am always up to trying a new dairy-free yogurt! So, as I was pondering Wilhelmina's demand to not throw away the strawberry tops:

I took out a smaller knife and diced up the sides of the strawberry tops and had enough to make 2 yogurt parfaits!! One cup of yogurt was stretched to two parfaits (with the addition of yummy blueberries!). I turned scraps into two breakfasts (yes, I am patting myself on the back-High 5, Wilhelmina!!).

I will add granola before I eat it (I have an abundance of granola thanks to amazing deals at Big Lots!).

I am trying so hard to switch to organic produce on the 12 most pesticide-absorbing fruits and veggies. I have been reading articles left & right about what these horrible pesticides do to our bodies. With what I see on a daily basis in my line of work, I do not want to be on the other side of that. I will do what I can to prevent all of that. It seems like EVERYTHING is bad for you, though. I watched Dr. Oz the other day (not recommended unless you want to become a hypochondriac) and the entire hour was dedicated to all kinds of cancers, what causes them, what doesn't cause them, etc. Soda is bad (duhh.) for pancreatic cancer, meats are bad (double duhh.), the water we drink, the air we breathe, the plastic container our lettuce comes in, tin foil, makeup, hair dye, lip gloss, waking up (not really!), etc. etc. I know I can't live in a world where this consumes me, I have to live a good life & do what I can. It is just so sad how so many chemicals, additives, etc. are added to everything. Let's live simply!

On a much happier note..I LOVE perogies! However, since becoming vegan, I can't find any vegan ones. I have adapted and have made perogi pizza. Yum! It is one of our favorites around here. It has become second to my new favorite dish that I decided to make yesterday:

Perogi Lasagna!!

SOOOO GOOD does not even start to describe this! It is layered with homemade (organic!) mashed potatoes, sauteed onions & mushrooms, sauerkraut, and vegan cheddar cheese. OH my...
Mason happens to think it is an "11" on a "1-10" scale! It is definitely a keeper! Now I am hungry for leftovers :)

Ok, so how did I do? I am a little rusty in the blogging area & honestly I should be studying, but come on, it's Sunday morning!
Enjoy some good food today!!

P.S I realize that Perogi is spelled 25 different ways in this post, but I believe in the real world it also has 25 different spellings, so I just decided to honor every spelling of the word :)

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Frugal Bars

I have been embracing the vegan lifestyle and I love it! Years ago I remember reading a magazine and the article was talking about new "energy bars" that were healthy and less calories than those power bars. They had amazing flavors like cookie dough and peanut butter cookie, you know, healthy. I stocked up on them because they were so good. Then I started to notice that on the days that I would eat one, I felt something was not right, (it took me a long time to come to this conclusion because I didn't want to stop eating these bars!!!). My throat would start to swell up! It got so itchy and irritated that I thought that I was going to have to go to the ER! I do not have any food allergies, but obviously something in these bars thought otherwise! So, no more delicious, guiltless energy bars for me.

That was a few years ago, since I knew that the bars were vegan I thought maybe I should give it another try. After all, I wasn't 100% sure the bars were creating a reaction (only 99.999%). And, hey, what else do I have to do, right?

While I was shopping that week I decided to go over to the power bar section of the store and look for the bars. There they were:

Luna Bars. So good! Just as I was about to grab a few to take home with me, I looked over to the box just to the left. There they were! I forgot these bars existed:


This is exactly what I wanted. These bars are SO good and they have an ingredient list shorter than my attention span. Dates. Dried Cherries. Almonds (or cashews). That's it. It depends on the flavor (some are better than others), but some contain other dried fruits and different nuts. Simplicity at it's finest. Lara Bars got it right. Fiber and protein all mashed into a bar that tastes like dessert!

The only thing stopping me from filling my cart with a months supply was the price tag. On sale these little bars cost $1.25 each. That is not bad if you want to get one here and there, but I want these ALL THE TIME! So, I bought a couple to hold me over until I could devise a cheap alternative. Even though the ingredient list was short, I wondered how they got perfection in a bar. Thank goodness for Google! A short internet search pulled up a plethora of homemade Lara Bar recipes! Yeah!

It took me longer to pull the food processor out of the pantry then it did to make these things! I took 3 boxes of dates (the .98 cent boxes), half of a small container of cashews, and a couple of handfuls of dried cherries (I don't do measurements!!). A little bit of vanilla (the recipe called for sea salt, but I forgot to put it in) and I processed the mixture until it wouldn't process anymore! I put it in a baking dish to rest in the fridge for a few minutes until I could cut them into bars. The final result was AMAZING! Soooo good. I wanted Mason to try one, but I just knew by the mood he was in (can you say...grouchy?) that even if he did like it, he wouldn't have admitted it. I could have given him a stack of Oreo's and he would have said he hated them (ahhh, pre-teen boys!), but I gave it a shot anyway. I was right. He was being difficult! I "think" he did actually like it because he didn't run to the sink in a dramatic fashion to spit it out, so I call it a success. And, if anyone needs more fiber in their life, it's Mason! I figured out the total cost, I got 8 bars out of this recipe for a total of .74 cents per bar! That sounds much better than $1.25 per bar, it's almost half the cost! The calorie content is about the same. Lara Bars have about 190 calories per bar, mine were about 205. This is not a light snack, but all the fiber and protein makes for a very filling snack. I can cut them in half, too, for a quick 100 calorie snack! Yum!

So, the moral of the story is Lara, not Luna!

Try 'em, I bet you will love them!!

Sunday, June 17, 2012


I know one thing about Mason's appetite and that is if he asks for a second helping, it must be good! He has been a real trooper with trying new, vegan foods! My last few attempts at pizza were, lets just say....not so good! The cheese-less pizza has been very bland and dry lately, so I came up with a new idea. I had a bottle of basil-flavored olive oil (that is so delicious!) and I thought that I would try it on a pizza. I put some on the dough and sliced up one of those tomatoes that come on the vine (my favorite!) and some fresh basil leaves. Oh.My.Goodness! So good! When I baked it the leaves got a little crunch, so I also chopped up some more fresh basil and sprinkled more on top before serving. Is there anything better than fresh basil? I love it. I was afraid it was going to burn because olive oil has a tendency to burn faster at higher temperatures, but all was good! I did blot some of the extra oil before we ate it! I gave Mason two slices and he said, "Uhh, tomatoes on the pizza?" About two minutes later he was asking if there was any more pizza left! Tell me this is not restaurant-worthy?!


Friday, June 15, 2012

Mind. Blown.

Some of you may or may not know my fascination with Mason jars. No, my one and only child was not named after the jar, my obsession came years after he entered my life. It gets a little more interesting when I found out that the Mason jar was actually patented on November 30. Yep, Mason's birthday! I may have blogged about this before (excuse me if I repeat myself, but I have quite a few things going on in my life right now!), but some Mason jars are actually molded with the words, "Mason's Nov 30", so perhaps you can see why I like Mason jars!

I use these versatile jars for just about everything, except canning!! That will change this summer when I will be taught the proper way to can from my Mom Mom! I can't wait! So, in the mean time I will continue to use them for drinking, storing, leftovers, and of course, my beloved smoothies. Which leads me to the most mind-blowing trick I have ever seen. Perhaps I am the last person on Earth to learn this because after I googled it, page after page came up. So, in case you are not aware, here goes...

First, gather your smoothie-making supplies:

I chose a strawberry-banana smoothie for this experiment

Fill the Mason jar and hold onto your head because your brain is about to explode.....

wait for it....

I am getting so excited to share this I can hardly contain myself! Fit the bottom of the blender with the blades onto the Mason jar!!!

Flip it and blend it!

Stick a straw in it and enjoy...

I have been guilty of making smoothies that are too big, so these are perfectly portioned!

I was a little afraid to try this at first, I thought the blades would hit the glass, so I tried it without anything in the jar at first with a towel covering my eyes in case glass went flying everywhere!

The smoothies are just the tip of the iceberg here. Pretty much anything that can go in a blender can be made into single-serving jars. Chopping nuts, ground coffee, and specialty coffee drinks, OH YEAH! It is already in a storage container, just pop a lid right on! It doesn't take much in this world to make me happy, just hand me a Mason jar and I will come up with something!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

I Truly Love Baseball!

Today we had a make-up game because every single event scheduled last week was rained out. It was a great day to play! We arrived knowing that the team that we were playing was undefeated (just like us), so we knew it was going to be a good game. Just how good, I had no idea! It started just like any other game, the parents cheering the kids on and having a good time. By the 4th inning, it was still a scoreless game.  It could be blamed on the hot sun beating down on us and the kids in polyester, but things started to get, for a lack of a better term, heated. The umpires (who were coaches for the OTHER team) started making really bad calls. Really bad calls. One of the Mom's on our team started getting a little (ok, a lot) vocal about it. Of course, the other teams Mom's did not want to be out done, so they started yelling. Mason had an AMAZING play at 3rd base, he tagged the runner and he was....SAFE? Ohhhh, let me tell you, people far and wide could hear all of the Mom's yelling! The field had a score board (a luxury, let me tell you) and two little kids were put in charge of it. They "forgot" to update it, which led to the other team getting more balls, strikes, etc.! They were getting more time at bat than they were supposed to! That is what lead to.....The parent/coach fight! Oh my goodness, yelling back and forth, the other team was going to quit, people were getting thrown out. They were cheating, they were not honest and fair and by the 8th inning we were tied 2-2.  We thought for sure with the bias, that there was no way to come back and win this thing. The second to last time Mason was up to bat, he got beamed with the ball right in the back:

(That is going to hurt tomorrow)
By this time in the game, not only are the kids tired, hot, and hungry, but so are the parents. I got the worst sunburn. I have not had sunburn in years and it hurts! I guess I should not complain, I did not get hit in the back with a pitch! So, this story seems to be as long as the game today, 10 innings!! I do not ever remember playing 10 innings, ever. Mason got up to bat with 2 outs (at this point we are up 1, the score is 3-2), I was so nervous because he has not been on a good hitting streak lately, he got up to bat and cracked the ball to the fence (everyone thought that it was going to go out!!) and he brought in 2 runs!! WE WON!! It was the most exciting game that I have ever seen! We are still undefeated!!

I saw this video circulating Facebook last week and not only is it very timely, it is VERY accurate!!

Oh, and I found spell check :P

Friday, May 18, 2012

I Blinked..

I closed my eyes and it became 2012, I swear, I blinked and it was the end(ish) of May. Where has the time gone? Time needs to slow down, for goodness sake, my "baby" (not to be confused with my "little baby" that has four legs and fur) is going to be a MIDDLE SCHOOLER. Nooooo...But anyway, I am enjoying the time raising my "baby" to be a great person!

Some of you may know that I have chosen to become a Vegan! After 30+ years as a vegetarian, I think it is just a natural progression. To be honest, I do not know what took me so long (cheese, maybe?). I wanted to start this journey after my birthday (the end of this month) because Mason and I started a tradition last year of making a trip to Pittsburgh to celebrate my birthday at The Cheesecake Factory (yummm, cheesecake!). I wanted to take a week and try it out before I went "cold tofurky." I went grocery shopping and loaded up on the usual vegan supplies: fruits and veggies! As long as I wash and cut the fruit, Mason will devour it. Breakfast was not too much of a change. I usually eat a smoothie with whole wheat toast, very rarely would I eat eggs. Lunch was a different story, I would choose cottage cheese or a Chobani (ohhh, chobani, you stole my heart) yogurt. Dinner went either way. So, with a few adjustments, I was ready to tackle that week animal-product free. I started eating a big salad for lunch with any and every veggie (or fruit) that I could find to top it. Sunflower seeds for some crunch and a low-fat dressing, YUM! I started craving and looking forward to building a new (and much different) salad everyday! After a week of creating new, interesting recipes (most off the top of my head), I have to say, I LOVE THIS!! I feel so good! I found a lot of resources online that have been very helpful in making the (not so big) switch.

My dilemma: Friday night pizza night. Every Friday night Mason and I have pizza. Sometimes it is plain cheese, other times it is mushroom and black olive, but my favorite is green-salsa pizza! It is so good and easy! What to do? So, in an effort to try and solve my problem, I looked for Vegan Cheese. Yep, they make that. I found a company on facebook that makes all kinds of dairy-soy-meat alternatives. So, I "liked" them on Facebook and wouldn't you know it, they had a contest to win full-size packages of their Vegan Cheese! It was a timed contest, the first 75 people (they have almost 35,000 fans, so my chances were not that great) that filled out the form on their page won a bag of their mozzarella or mexican shreds. I WON!! I chose mozzarella but they sent me BOTH flavors!

How exciting! It arrived UPS on Tuesday and I had it sitting in the fridge until this afternoon, when I planned on making the pizza early (Mason has to be somewhere tonight). Ok, I put on the green salsa and opened the bag of mozzarella. Yep. My enthusiasm stopped there. It was odd and crumbly and smelled a little "off." But, I gave it a shot anyway. I baked the pizza as usual and when I opened the oven, I was a bit disappointed, this is what the pizza looked like:


Now, looks are not everything (I'm not that shallow), so I decided to cut a slice and give 'er a try.

The truth is, it did not taste *horrible*, but after the first few bites, I was done with it. Oh well. I think pizza night will resume with pizzas made with lots of extra veggies, sans cheese. I like pizza like that anyway, so no biggie!

After all that I have been reading about dairy and the dairy industry, the less I miss it. I really think that, as a nation, it has been forced on us how dairy is so good for our bodies. I'm not so sure about that, and after this week and a half without it, I cannot see a point in my life where I will want to have it again. But, with foods like this:

Whole grain toast with vegan cream cheese (that is good!), fresh dill, ice cold sliced cucumbers topped with sprouts:

Homemade Tropical Oatmeal with creamy almond milk:

Who needs dairy? Yum!

~Apparently Blogger removed spell-check. This isn't good...