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Have a Happy Thanksgiving…And a Healthy Leftovers Week!

Thanksgiving is one week away and most people are looking forward to indulging in all of the richest foods of the season. There are a slight few who might be concerned about the inevitable weight gain that happens over the holidays.  Welp, I don’t have an easy solution for you because I’m most likely going to eat some stuff that will cause me to acquire a pound or two. However, I do not plan to turn Thanksgiving Day into Thanksgiving Week so I do have a solution to minimize the impact of “leftover calorie-pocalypse”.

Three dishes that are of the most popular and calorific are: Dressing (aka stuffing), Macaroni & Cheese, and Candied Yams. I’ve lightened these dishes up and created a tasty & healthy substitute that combined with baked turkey and my greens recipe, will lessen the weight gain impact. 

So, here we have Quinoa “dressing”, Mac & Cheese, and Sweetened Yams. I realize that the three of these together are still a carb explosion so….maybe eat one at a time.

First up, Mac & Cheese. I used gluten free organic brown rice & quinoa pasta…. I know what you’re thinking but when you boil this pasta in chicken broth and add a dash of salt, flavor explosion!

I made a cheese sauce using fat free half & half  slowly melting in shredded cheeses until I reached the desired consistency (approx, 1 cup of each).

Layer pasta with cheese sauce making sure to add cheese/sauce to the top and bake until you get these lovely brown bubbly bits on top….enjoy.

thanksgiving-sides-macncheese1.jpgAccording to Webmd: a 12-ounce serving of Stouffer’s macaroni and cheese has 529 calories, 25.7 grams of fat, and 10.6 grams of saturated fat. This recipe has 215 calories, 27 g carbohydrates, 7 g fat, 11 g protein, 5 g sugar.

Next up, my version of dressing that has all the same flavors with a fraction of the calories/fat. Prepare quinoa according to package instructions substituting in chicken broth for the water. Saute the seasoning blend until softened and lightly caramelized. 

Combine the above ingredients with these seasonings. I season according to taste so keep adding teaspoons until it tastes like you like it!

When its all mixed together, you have this yumminess. And it tastes just like dressing with a slightly different consistency!

According to USDA data, a single one-cup serving of prepared bread stuffing provides 390 calories, 5 grams of protein, 38 grams of carbohydrate, 2 grams of fiber, 4 grams of sugar, 134 mg of sodium, and 27 grams of total fat. This version has 82 calories, 10 grams of carbohydrate, 1 gram of fat, 5 grams of protein, 22 mg of sodium, and 0 grams of sugar!

These yams (sweet potatoes) aren’t “candied” but they are no less delicious. Coconut sugar is far lower on the glycemic index than white or brown sugar. Coconut oil has many health benefits over butter and has been shown to even help burn fat! So I sliced the potatoes, and sprinkled with coconut sugar (to taste) and a tablespoon of coconut oil distributed throughout. 

Season with 2 teaspoons of cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg, a teaspoon of vanilla and a dash of salt. Cover with foil and bake in a  400 degree oven until softened.

I added a dollop of whipped cream to mimic the highly sugary marshmallow topping. 

According to a highly rated recipe for candied yams on Allrecipes.com: 
Per Serving: 397 calories; 7.9 g fat; 79.4 g carbohydrates; 3.7 g protein; 20 mg cholesterol; 179 mg sodium. This recipe has 165 calories, 35 g carbohydrates, 3g fat, 2g protein, 83 mg sodium, 11g sugar. 

All in all, Thanksgiving is a holiday for enjoying food and family. It’s ok to indulge for one day and if you normally eat a healthy diet, one day of extra calories is not going to hurt. The day after however, is no longer Thanksgiving so enjoy my recipes until all the turkey is gone….your body will Thank you.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

 

Spending My Summer in the Backyard Part 1…

So, I’ve been missing all summer from these blogging streets. Let’s just say that I’ve been taking some time to stop and smell the flowers….

Backyard Bending Pose Zinnia_edited-1

For the past few years, I’ve been really trying to work on my green thumb. Pinterest has me inspired and thinking that I can do anything! And what I can’t do, I can convince hubby to do!! lol! The picture above features a preview of the patio hubby built a couple years ago and the pergola he built this year. The flowers though…that’s all me!

Backyard Flower Bed

We’ll get to the details of the full patio/pergola design as well as the decorative touches that I add in part 2. In the meantime, the flowers are courtesy of of box of Zinnia seeds that I purchased from none other than Dollar Tree! One box claimed to contain 100 seeds and produced all this!

Backyard Orange ZinniaBackyard Pink Zinnia

They attract the most beautiful butterflies!

Backyard Black Spotted ButterflyBackyard Black Spotted Butterfly2

You have to appreciated God’s creations and how He perfectly coordinates the body of the insect to the wings! And did you see that extra splash of blue and orange??

Backyard Umbrella Stand

Another of my Pinterest inspirations was this umbrella base. I used a large 16″ flower pot from Home Depot, one and a half bags of cement mix, a pvc pipe, and spray paint. After everything set, I added dirt and flowers. This thing is heavy and holds a large 8 foot umbrella and all for less than $40!!

Backyard Pepper in Garden

Did I mention that I garden now too?? Well, I actually started that last year after hubby and daughter built a garden bed for me. I grew a variety of peppers and herbs this year.

Backyard Peppers Harvest

I harvested these peppers and made some deliciously spicy tacos!

I realize that summer is coming to an end but where I live, fall is an even better season to enjoy the outdoors. As fall approaches and the temps cool a bit, I’ll be adding the finishing touches and will share it all in part 2 so stay tuned!Backyard Standing Zinnia Pose_edited-1

DIY Summer Hair Color: No Bleach, Cover Grays, and Add Shine!

There comes a time in every woman’s life when she wants a little change in her look. Our hair is usually the easiest change to make and the easiest to reverse if we don’t like it. Well, I’ll be honest and share that I had some gray strands that were becoming downright disrespectful so I needed a little “highlight” to help me calm them down.

(Affiliate links are used throughout the blog and when you make a purchase using them, I will receive a small percentage of the sale.)

I went over to my local Sally Beauty to purchase a few items to begin my mini-transformation. Here comes some demi-permanent color to the rescue! I chose the color medium burgundy brown. From my understanding, the demi lasts longer than a semi-permanent but still washes away after about 20-25 washes.  I purchased this burgundy color because I wanted a not too obvious but show a little something in the sun type of color. I paired with with this 10 volume developer per the package instructions.

Dye Hair Materials

I mixed it all together in a non-metal bowl. I used equal parts color to developer because I wanted a strong enough pigment to match the level of disrespect to those pesky gray strands, lol.

Dye Hair Mixture

 

I gathered a few other necessary items to help me get the job done: hair clipsglovesplastic cap, and an optional application brush. The last item you see is an old t-shirt that I usually use to dry my hair so I don’t mind getting it messed up in this process.

Dye Hair Tools

 

I sectioned off portions of my hair and made sure that each part was saturated. I then twisted the section and added a clip.

Dye Hair in Hair

I put on the plastic cap (not shown here) then sat under my bonnet dryer for about 40 minutes.

Dye Hair under dryer

I applied a heat protection and proceeded to use a hair dryer to dry my hair stretched but not completely straightened. I then used a curling wand to create a wavy, curly look.

Dye Hair Styling Tools

Dye Hair After pics2

The result is va-va-va-voom! You have to squint one eye and turn your head in the sunlight to notice the color but it’s there and most importantly, no grays!

Dye Hair After pics

Still can’t see the burgundy too well in this pic but check out my bouncy curls, lol!

I’m working on editing a video that will give you more detail on this look so stay tuned for that if you’re interested!

Summer is nearly upon us and I have a lot of grand ideas from outdoor decorating, around town festival-ling and mini renovations that I’m excited/scared about executing. So I hope you follow the blog so you don’t miss all this excitement!

Until next time, friends….

Home Depot DIY: Wall Planter Turned This Novice Into a Pro!

So I had been contemplating for quite some time how I could artistically display house plants that I’ve been trying not to kill to grow. I had a failed attempt at some wall shelves that I “secured” to the wall with command strips. They looked good at first but came crashing down out of nowhere a couple of times nearing destroying the plants they were holding. To save my plants, and our lives by preventing the heart attacks induced by loud crashing plants, I gave up on that idea. I had been wracking my brain for a couple weeks on how to get these plants on the wall in a decorative fashion when I came across this post on Instagram:

home-depot-workshop-tall-400x342

Is Home Depot reading my mind? I know that Facebook and Google have infiltrated my whole life and know my thoughts before I have them but how did Home Depot know??? I’ll dismiss the creepiness of that for now since I did actually want to learn how to do this project.

So, I registered online and moseyed on over to my local Home Depot on the designated day. This was my first time attending a workshop here and I’m guessing it won’t be my last. It was a painless and fun experience overall.

Uncut Plywood

We started out with a 2 X 4 plank of plywood. We measured and marked the wood every 12 inches both horizontally and vertically.

I even had the chance to use an electric saw for the first time. We cut out 8 planks that were each 12 X 12. I thought I inspired my mini-me to be brave enough to take on the challenge of sawing but turns out she’s done this before with my husband. I guess I’m the only novice in this house.

 

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We were then given a sanding sponge thingy to get the surface all nice, smooth, and splinter-less.

Sanding Plywood

Then we were instructed to make a marking 3 inches from the top corner in order to affix a hanging device. We hammered the hanger in place.

 

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We measured to get to the center point of the wood and drilled in a 1/8 inch hole. We then attached a metal adjustable holder in the center.

 

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We added the flower pot and tightened the adjustable holder in place.

Finished at Home Depot

Now to finish it up and make it all pretty, we applied a couple coats of a dark wood stain. I don’t know if we were a little too heavy handed but it actually took a full couple days to completely dry.

 

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Nevertheless the end result is beautiful and looks like it costs a little bit of money. Did I mention that we got these completely for free!! Yes, not only was the workshop free but we got to take home our project for no charge…score!

I added my own touches to the final product by switching out the pot for these glass jars. I added some decorative stones at the bottom for drainage. These cost me a whole $3 at my favorite high end store, the Dollar Tree…lol.

Planters on wall

And there you have it! My first diy utilizing power tools. I feel so empowered and ready to saw and drill everything in sight!

Have you ever attended a Home Depot workshop? What did you learn? How come I’m just now finding out how awesome this is? That last one was rhetorical….

I’m going to keep riding this creative wave and have many more ideas that I’m going to implement so stay tuned! 🙂

Stopping to Smell the Flowers…Flower & Garden Show 2018


This past weekend, Chicago’s Navy Pier hosted the Flower & Garden Show. I’ve recently taken an interest in turning my brown thumb green. I  started a vegetable garden last year and have even been attempting to keep house plants alive. Since I still consider myself a novice in this game, I figured I’d head on over to get some inspiration and knowledge from the experts.

The Flower & Garden show had beautiful flower displays as well as a few teaching demos. I didn’t have much time so my focus was on visual inspiration. So I’ll take you all on this journey with me in case you also like to occasionally stop and smell the flowers…

By the way, this is the emptiest I’ve ever seen Navy Pier. Could have had something to do with the 30 degree temperature…

Flower Show 15

This year’s theme was “Every Garden Has a Story to Tell”

Flower Show 16

I was welcomed in to a beautiful flower landscape creating the ambiance of a storybook fairy tale.

Flower Show 11

Flower Show 12

These beautiful floral tablescapes used floral arrangements to create a story book feel.

Flower Show 14Flower Show 10

Although the camera could not pick up the water flowing from the large fountains, this display gave me tropical rain forest vibes.

Flower Show 8

I had to grab a close up of the tropical foliage displayed near the fountain. I love the variety of green foliage accented with pops of pink.

Flower Show 9

This plant is so amazing to me. Who knew Flaming Hot Cheetos grew on trees?? Lol

Flower Show 5

Hmmm….does this mean that Cheetos are organic??

Flower Show 6

I love the idea of creating a diy flower stand. This looks like it could be replicated by using recycled wooden pallets. I could imagine throwing on a nice coat of paint or stain.

Flower Show 7

Definitely going to try to recreate this display this summer. I love the concept of combining small scrubs with pops of color and some hanging foliage.

flower-show-1.jpg

Another plant stand that will work for an indoor or outdoor display. I think a spray paint of a glistening metallic color will really make it pop.

Flower Show 2

What a way to create height! I’ve been thinking about ways to use a floral display that also adds additional privacy to our backyard space. I also love the use of the stacked pots to add height variance.

Flower Show 3

The hubby built garden/flower box for me last year. I managed to grew quite a bit for a first try. This year, I’m trying to reach this level of goals.

Flower Show 4

I love the texture and beauty of succulents. Unfortunately, I can’t get enough bright sunlight in my house to keep them alive.

Flower Show 13

 

I hope you all have been inspired as much as I have been. I’m looking forward to some inexpensive diys, creating jaw dropping floral displays, and a garden of lush veggies! I’ll keep you all updated on how I’m doing it.

Do you have any plans for spring/summer gardening?

 

Easy Last Minute Christmas Gifts 3…DIY Shower Smoothie!!

We’re continuing on in this series of fabulously frugal d.i.y. gifts. Today, I am finishing up this trifecta of goodies by showing how I make a luscious and rich shower smoothie. Lots of brands have shower gels on the market but this smoothie takes that to the next level. It has the perfect combination of cleansing, moisturizing, and fragrant goodness.

For this smoothie, you will need:

1/2 cup of coconut oil
1/2 cup of pure unscented castile soap  (you can find it here)
1/2 cup of distilled water
Your favorite bar soap ( I always use Olay Ultra Moisture)
A grater
2 large bowls

Shower Smoothie Materials

Additional tools you’ll need are:

A measuring cup
Spatula
Hand mixer
Containers (Dispensers)

Shower Smoothie Materials2

In a large bowl, grate the bar of soap completely. Add the water to the grated soap and let it sit for a few minutes until it looks like this:

Shower Smoothie Soap

Because I’m all about smooth textures, I use the hand mixer to whip the soap and water mixture to eliminate the chunks and create a more smooth, fluffy texture.

Shower Smoothie Whipped Soap

Separately, I whip the coconut oil to remove any lumps. Since the coconut oil has a different consistency than the soap, whipping them separately will ensure its smoothiness.

Shower Smoothie Whipped Coconut Oil edit

Next, add the whipped coconut oil to the whipped soap mixture. Then add the castile soap. Whip all together until it’s one big batch of whipped fluffy goodness!

Shower Smoothie Whipped Mixture

Now you separate the the whipped shower smoothie in order to add the same soap grade premium fragrances that I used for the body butter and the scented candles. One heaping cap full is enough for each batch. Simply fold it in to the smoothie.

Shower Smoothie Fragrance

I found the perfect container/dispenser at my favorite budget buy location, Dollar Tree. These are actually nail polish remover dispensers found in the nail polish aisle. It dispenses this product perfectly.

Shower Smoothie in Container

It has a flip cap and has a nozzle that you simply push down to dispense.

Shower Smoothie Bottle Dispense

Now you are ready to gift someone one of the most luxurious shower experiences they’ve had all year! Look at all this lathery goodness the shower smoothie gives! It is sure to leave the skin clean, soft and moisturized.

Shower Smoothie Suds

Add this shower smoothie to the body butter and the scented candle and you have a complete gift set! Any one of these alone would make a great gift! Simply add on depending on how much you like the person to whom you are gifting :).

Shower Smoothie Gift Set

And there you have it folks! Simple and affordable gifts that won’t break the bank. Bookmark this page for anytime you need a quick gift idea that is sure to impress.

Wishing you and yours a Merry Christmas and a Happy, Prosperous New Year!!

Stay tuned for more money saving fashion and d.i.y ideas….

 

 

Easy Last Minute Christmas Gifts Part 2….DIY Scented Candles

We’re putting together gift sets on a budget this week just in time for Christmas. Yesterday, I showed you how I make my simple hair & body butter. Today, we’re going to add in a candle that matches the scent of the body butter!

Now there are places where you can purchase wax beads for melting to create your own candles. However, I could not find anywhere near me that sold them that way so what I did was improvise. I was able to pick up a 100 pack of these votive candles for less than $5.00. Using the tip of the sharp knife, I was able to break them up quickly and easily. Conveniently, these little babies come with a metal tab needed to anchor the candle thread so I set a few of those aside for later use.

Broken Candle Pieces_edited-1

I found this waxed thread at Joann Fabrics. It’s just cotton thread coated in wax which is what you need for efficient candle burning. Because this thread is on the thinner side, I double the stands by twisting them together. The thicker the wick, the better it will melt your candle evenly.

Waxed Threads

I found these glasses at Dollar Tree (you should know that’s one of my favorite places) in the candle section. Since these are made for candle burning, they are a little heavier than a regular glass. You can also use a mason jar.

Candle Glasses

Because I am creating a matching scent gift set, I am using the same premium soap grade fragrances that I used in the body butter I showed you yesterday.

Candle Fragrance Bottles

If you want to add a little color to your candle, you can use a crayon which will melt perfectly with your wax. I didn’t have any crayons but I did happen to have some leftover colored candles which I will melt together with my wax.

Colored Candles

To ensure even burning, I am going to go with the two wick approach in this glass. I tied the thread to the metal tab and used a bit of melted wax to anchor the metal tabs on the bottom of the glass.

Candle Glass with Thread

You can use the double boiler method to melt your candle wax. I used this small pot on top of an inverted lid of a pot of boiling water. The heat created by the boiling water underneath was enough to melt the wax. I used a long wooden skewer to mix because it is disposable and won’t melt in the wax. At this point, you can add in your fragrance, I use about 3 cap fulls to get my desired strength of the scent.

Melted Candle Wax

Because I used wax to adhere the metal tabs to the bottom, it will move when you add warm wax to the glass. Simply use a pencil on top of the glass, wrap the excess wick around the pencil to hold the wicks in place.

Candle wick with pencil

Lastly, you let the wax cool, cut the excess string and you are good to go!

To add a little embellishment, (because if we’re not extra then we’re not enough) I added some sugar flowers and a faux flower to the outside of the glass.

Candle Decor

Now, you have another cheap affordable and beautiful gift in your set with matching scents.

finished candles2

But wait; I’m not done yet! Stay tuned for the last item that I’m adding to the set. You don’t want to miss this luxurious treat! 🙂