Monday, August 31, 2009

Making Food Prep Easier

When my husband and I were getting married and began registering for gifts, I was "in charge" of registering for kitchen supplies....until he laid his eyes on a stick (immersion) blender. I thought he was being silly, but I "let" him register for it anyway, thinking that no one would buy it and if they did, we could just return it. I thought it would never be used in MY kitchen.
Boy, was I wrong.
As it turns out, we use that blender for everything! I already mentioned that I use it to make salsa, but the other day I used it to make a graham cracker crust....we make smoothies, whipped cream, etc. And my husband makes the world's best (ABSOLUTELY best, hands-down) shakes and malts with it (another money-saving tip...going out for ice cream can be so expensive, but it's a special day when Daddy makes milkshakes in our we make memories AND save money...everybody wins!).
I probably use my blender at least every other day, and sometimes more often. Clean-up is much quicker than with a conventional blender; and I think we're all looking for speed these days!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Today my mother, sister, sister-in-law, brother's girlfriend (and her mother), and I all went to see Julie & Julia. What a great movie! A few highlights:
1. There was butter. Lots and lots of butter. And bread. So naturally I wanted a lot of butter...with or without bread.
2. One of Julia Child's famous quotes: "Never apologise." How great is that? I think as women we feel that we must constantly apologise....for our children, for our house, for our cooking, etc. etc. And it's not that we don't need to apologise's just that it's ok to have confidence. That Julia Child was one confident woman.
3. The men in the movie were supportive and reliable! Not in the "I'm-a-hero-so-I-don't-do-anything-wrong" kind of way, but in a genuinely loving way. Also, the male/female relationships were all (gasp!) marital! How delightfully bourgeois!
Definitely recommend it...I would love to see it again.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Look for WAY Less

One of my favorite shows on the Style network used to be The Look for Less...the object was to take a runway look and create it for $100 or less. I remember thinking, "$100! I could do it for so much less than that!" But then, those of you that know me know that I think even paying sale price is paying too much.

I came across this picture in a magazine and thought it was a really cute look, and then my brain started spinning, trying to figure out how I could re-create it without spending much money. I love the whole plaid trend, but couldn't find any in stores (especially long-sleeved, considering that it's still summer) on sale, much less at a price that I would consider paying.

So I hit the Goodwill.

I found the denim shorts for $2.

I wasn't even charged for the plaid shirt, but it was supposed to be $3.

The sandals I have had for 3 summers now (time to get new ones, I know), but I paid $1.70 for them when I got them.

The watch was an anniversary present from my husband 6 years ago.

I'm still working on the bag. Since I don't have much to spend, I have to be really picky.

I hope you get a kick out of this! I had fun trying to put it together.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

You Can DO It!

Here it comes....the dreaded work-out speech!
Don't you think that each of us has some kind of fitness goal that we are trying to attain? For most of us, weight loss is a primary concern; we are constantly bombarded with pressure to be thin, whether we realize it or not. But weight loss is only a tiny component of fitness, and very often, it is not sufficient motivation to maintain an exercise program.
I read (or heard) somewhere that people who envision being healthy rather than being thin have a greater tenacity when it comes to working out. In my own life, I found this to be true; when I got pregnant with my oldest, I realized that my body was about to go through its biggest test, and I wanted to be prepared for it. As time has gone on, my fitness goals have modified somewhat as I began to focus on heart health (since heart disease is the #1 killer of women in America today), mental health (LOVE those babies, and I'm so grateful to have them every day, but sometimes staying at home taxes my mind and patience beyond what I ever thought possible!), and stamina.
If you get up today and walk for 5 minutes, that's 5 minutes more than you walked yesterday.
If you do one set of crunches, that's more crunches than you did yesterday.
If you walk up an extra flight of stairs, your bum got more exercise than it did yesterday.
If you think you have big thighs, remember those thighs are going to help you power through.
If your lungs are screaming for air, remember that you are increasing their capacity to help you breathe.
If your muscles ache, remember that they are getting stronger.
Today, you DO NOT have to run a marathon. You just have to pick up one foot and put it in front of the other. Just one more step.
I guarantee you will feel better. You will feel better physically, you will think more clearly, and you will feel better emotionally. I promise.
You can DO it!

Monday, August 24, 2009

It Only Takes a Minute... do your nails! Here's what's (still) hot for fall:

1. DARK.....if you're not comfortable with black, there are plenty of navies and purples out that will give you the same basic look without crossing into goth territory....not like we're really afraid of that, though, right? :P

2.'s popular again to rock that retro '40's look, and few things accomplish that more effectively than red polish (have you seen the original version of The Women? The old black-and-white has "Jungle Red" manicures at the center of the's amazing how many stereotypes are connected to the color).

3. BRIGHTS....they were hot for summer, and bright nails help transition into fall.

4. NEUTRALS....always a good stand-by, neutrals don't show chips as quickly, so you can stretch your manicure out a bit further without as much maintenance.

Just remember to keep your nails filed on the shorter side, and this little step will keep you modern this season!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Outdoors on a Shoestring

If you're like me, your garden has suffered some heat-related casualties. Right now is a great time to revitalize your landscaping....home improvement centers, gardening centers, and nurseries are clearancing off some of their plants in preparation for fall merchandise. My husband, who knows the way to my heart, went out today and purchased a and red Lantana for 50 cents, a couple of spirally rushes (LOVE that cool texture!), and a Wine-and-Roses Weigela (perfect for a bare spot in the corner) for $2, among others.

We are coming into perfect outdoor-entertaining weather, so I would really encourage you to go out and look for plants to enhance your container gardens as well. It's amazing how having that garden-y environment relaxes your guests and adds to the ambience of your evening. It may sound cheesy, but it's true!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Making Lemonade

Ok, we've got it. Times are tough. Enough already!
Does anyone else feel that way?
Here's the husband, just like a lot of husbands, has been laid off for a while, and while we are searching for work and praying for our situation to change, we're still ALIVE....we're living the same life and doing all the same basic things.....just on a lot less!
I feel like I've been given the opportunity to learn how to live well while also living wisely, and over the past few years, I've picked up things here and there that I think others will also find helpful.
So we don't go out to eat as often....that's taught me to cook better (hopefully, anyway!) so that a home-cooked meal is as enjoyable or more enjoyable than a dinner out. I'm still looking for a busboy and dishwasher, though. I haven't quite worked that part out yet.
Of course there are other areas of our lives that have required some creative thinking as well. The thing is, I don't want anyone else's life; I happen to like mine pretty well. I just want to make it as enjoyable as possible for myself, my family, and other loved ones. Hopefully I can pass on some of what I've learned to you, and hopefully you will feel free to share your insight with me as well.
God bless!