August 30, 2016

Refrigerator Pickles, Without the Yucky Additives

Refrigerator  Pickles, Without the Yucky Additives

I have a love affair with pickles. Mostly dill, but sometimes I'll wander into the sweeter ones. Lately one thing has been deterring me from my pickle affair, additives. Truthfully what sticks out to me is the food coloring. Why in the world do I need my already green pickles to be colored with Yellow #5 and Blue #2? The answer, I don't! Yes, there are a few brands that offer pickles without unnecessary additives, but truthfully, they are expensive and I forget to check the refrigerated section for them. 

Low and behold the One Hour Refrigerator Pickle! 

Lets get started! You will need:

1 large washed cucumber, unpeeled 

1c distilled white vinegar

1/2 c water 

1 3/4 t salt

1/2 t dill (I used dried) 

1/2 t Garlic (I used dried) 

1/4 t red pepper flakes (optional) 

1 large glass jar (pint is best) 


Slice your cucumber as thin as you would like your pickles. The thicker the slice, the longer it will take to pickle. I like thick, crunchy pickles, so my slices were rather thick. Throw those slices in your clean, dry glass jar.

Place vinegar, water, salt, dill, garlic, and red pepper flakes in a small sauce pan and boil. (You can play around with different spices if you would like, bread pickles might be fun) 

After the brine (what you just made over the stove) begins a good boil, poor the boiling mixture into the jar over the pickles.(please be careful!) Cover the jar with a lid and place in the refrigerator for one hour. Take out the pickles and give them a good shake.

That's it! If you sliced your pickles thin, they will be finished! If you did yours a little bit thicker, or in spears, they might need to finish overnight. These pickles will last about 10 days in the refrigerator or one Heart of Dixie episode ;)  This took me about 10 minutes and $.75 for a whole jar, so I'm calling that a win. And guess what, theses babies are plenty green for me :)



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August 22, 2016

Back to school: Our 6 picks for the healthiest lunches.

Back to school: Our 6 picks for the healthiest lunches.

Summer is winding down and school is back in session. School lunch can be a headache, but here's a few healthy ideas to make brown bagging it more tolerable!

#1 Salad- From 100 Days of Real Food


It would be IMPOSSIBLE to list healthy lunches without linking-up 100 Days of Real food. Lisa has a mecca of delicious children's lunches. You can even customize vegan, nut free, hot/cold, etc. I've tried a few out, and they are truly healthy and importantly, enjoyable! Her recipes and ideas range from pita and humus to make your own pizza. I dare you to not like her recipes.


#2 Wraps- From Our Best Bites



I have been an avid follower of Kate and Sarah since... well, since I stopped cooking from a box. Our Best Bites not only shares delectable (that always makes me think of Little Rascals) recipes, but in this post they share their best tips for a successful packed lunch, because who wouldn't want to eat a monkey shaped sandwich?



#3 Soup- From Super Healthy Kids



Much to my disgust and disappointment, when I make soup for dinner the little people revolt! But for some unknown reason to the reasonable mind, throw that soup in a thermos the next day for school lunch, you're a super hero! Super Healthy Kids is my go-to site for easy, healthy food (you HAVE to try their Larabar recipe). This vegetable stew is hearty and filling, making it the perfect lunch for your kiddo! Browse their site for loads of other school lunch tips. 



#4 Pasta- From Mel's Kitchen Cafe



Pasta is the way to go. Mostly because I can deceivingly sneak as many vegetables as possible in the sauce without notice. Mel's recipes are so good, no sneaking is necessary! Throw in those veggies and watch them get gobbled up. Here's the most amazing part, Mel is soooo nice and soooo generous, she has included in her post weekly menus, including shopping lists, FOR FREE! Let Mel's kitchen cafe take away the stress of meals(including school lunch) , because she is that awesome. This pasta is going on the menu right now. 



#5 Breakfast- From What Lisa Cooks



French toast for lunch. Amen. Did I mention Lisa serves it with maple syrup yogurt? That is an all around favorite in our house! My kids are weird, and that's ok! They do. not. like. breakfast. BUT breakfast for lunch or dinner is a completely different story. Lisa has a whole page of breakfast-for-lunch ideas, and every one of them is killer. Throw some in some fresh fruits and veggies and you have a winner. Breakfast for lunch= muy bueno.



#6- Jokes From Kristen Duke Photography


So jokes might not be a "healthy lunch idea" .... for your tummy, but it is for your mind, and an essential to any great lunch. My kids are just getting old enough that they are understanding jokes better and better, and even making up a few of their own. Kristen Duke shares her favorite jokes with all of us, and they are great! (you have to follow her on Facebook, her Photography is so precious). Here's a joke for the road:

Why did the banana go to the doctor?

Because he wasn't "peeling well" 




There we go, our picks for the six healthiest lunches!




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July 18, 2016

4 Quick International Travel Tips

4 Quick International Travel Tips

There are thousands of posts out there in the massive net about traveling international. But here are 4 QUICK (it's a miracle, I can have a quick conversation!) tips for your next jaunt across the border.

-Passport Expiration

Recently the US has tightened their grip on visa expiration guidelines. If someone is entering the country with a visa that will be expiring within the next 6 months, the traveler may denied entry. Other countries have returned the favor and now have similar guidelines. Check your passport and your destinations rules. If your passport is expiring soon you may be denied entry. Recently a group from my hometown went to serve in an orphanage in Ecuador for a few weeks. Several of the travel party were stuck in Miami, then returned home when they were denied entry due to expiring passports. So check your dates, and contact the State Department with any questions if you are unsure of specific guidelines. 


-Money exchange tips

When my husband would tell me that he and his dad would wash and iron their money, I thought they were one crayon short of a box, but it turns out they were on to something! Depending on the country, your money may be exchanged for less than it's "worth" depending on the condition the bills are in. Wrinkled, ripped, or marked bills can be seen as damaged and worth less. I would recommend heading to the bank before heading abroad and asking for clean , crisp bills. When we would do exchanges, each of our bills were carefully inspected by the staff before we were given a rate,(We later tried to exchange and wrinkled, marked bill with a clipped corner and were completely denied)  so I was very grateful for my husbands advice.   

Contact your bank and credit card company ahead of travel to let them know you will be out of the country. While in South America, we used cash for the majority of the trip. Unexpected expenses may arise, and your card may be your life saver. If you do not inform your institute of your intent to travel your credit or debit card may be blocked, leaving you in quite the pickle! 

-Taxes and fees

An Awesome friend recommended to find out exactly what taxes and fees were included in our airline ticket. Some traveler may be required to pay more taxes and fees upon arrival at the airport, it's important to know where you stand. We checked with our airline and checked the country's policies, our tickets included all of the necessary fees to enter the county(and sometimes leave the country). We weren't surprised when we arrived, an agent informed us that we owed several hundred dollars(in cash of course) in taxes and fees. We showed them our tickets and informed them that our ticket did indeed cover the necessary expenses(well, my husband informed them, I stood there like an idiot and smiled).  We ended up just having to pay fines to leave the airport because my husband had not voted in the last two elections..(Yay forced voting!)  But it was still a lot less than we had first been confronted with. 

Be aware that should you take any other flights, trains, or buses, in and out of cities, states, or Providences you may encounter extra fees. When we went to Machu Picchu, we had to pay a fee for leaving the city and reentering, as our flight did not cover any of these fees. 

Having a heads up and being aware can save you lots of stress and money in the long run. 

-Electrical outlet

He swore. My husband swore that Peru had the same electrical outlet that we do in the United States. He lied.... ;) My charger, hair dryer, and computer did not fit in the outlet. LUCKILY, his awesome parents had a few converters that we borrowed for the rest of the trip. Save yourself the headache, research before you leave if you will need to purchase an electrical outlet converter. 

I bet everyone found at least one helpful tip. Learn from the mistakes of those before you and have safe travels! 


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March 09, 2016

5 Ways to Beat the Monday Blues!

5 Ways to Beat the Monday Blues!

Monday. Blah! If you are one of the few that thrive on Manic Monday, this post is not for you. After a laid back weekend full of good food, fun, and little responsibilities, Monday is the grim-reaper of days. But I'm here to turn that frown upside down, and show you 5 ways to beat those Monday blues.  


#1- Do you have a "cheat" day? A day you make a special treat? We've got Taco Tuesday, Spaghetti Saturday, why has poor Monday been branded "Meatless Monday"? Easy peasy, if you have a special treat that you allow yourself once a week, why not make it Monday? It so desperately needs some sprucing up.   We usually reserve a baked treat like brownies for Sunday night, but saving that guilty pleasure for Monday might be enough to help lift your spirits. Who says your treat needs to shoot your blood sugar through the roof, If the Bachelorette doesn't count as a guilty pleasure, I don't know what does... #teamluke

#2-  I get it, I really do. After a hard week of running around like a chicken with it's head cut off (that's some rural Idaho lingo for you!) the weekend is a time to pig out, stay up late, and do all of that glorious stuff you've held back on all week. But where does that leave Monday? It's the Debbie Downer, back to reality, suckfest. Maybe one of the reasons that Monday is so darn awful is because on the weekends Americans tend to drink more, sleep less, and  eat worse. So do Monday a favor, make sure you are resting up over the weekend too! Your body needs it. PS, oversleeping can cause you to feel as yucky as lack of sleep, so take it easy. 

#3-  A kind deed goes a long way, especially on Manic Monday. Come on, no one is expecting you to do a scavenger hunt for your boss, or cook a ten course meal for your next-door neighbor, but scraping the snow off the car next to you, bringing in a doughnut for the secretary, a fruit basket, or flipping some pancakes for your loved ones can go a long way! Not only will your day be brightened, but paying it forward sneaks into your little Grinch heart, and pumps it up a few sizes. Who could use a little Monday lift?

#4- Do you have an automatic subscription that brightens your day? A direct deposit that fattens up your bank account (for about 5 minutes)? Monday. Schedule those bright spots in your week for Monday! When I was placing an Amazon order last week it gave me a few delivery day choices, would I like my book delivered on Monday, with a $5 prime pantry credit, oh yes I would! A package + free money, what more could a SAHM ask for? Even if it was a potty training book, the doorbell gave me an extra spring to my step. 

#5- It's July, it snowed in my home sate of Idaho today, so you all might be rolling your eyes. But here in Utah, it was actually bearable to be outside today. The sun was shining and the birds were singing. Get outside! In our Netflix, Facebook, smart phone world of today, we have little reason to leave our cocoon (speaking of cocoons, our three "pets" spun their cocoons this weekend! ahh!). But fresh air and sunshine is proven to do your body good. Walk to work, eat your lunch outside, mow your lawn, get outside!!! Monday needs a little bit of sunshine in it's soul (yes, Monday has a soul), you can help. 

There you have it, it is possible to do your Monday a favor and chase away those blues. Don't you already feel better just thinking about how to make your Monday better? Well, don't just think about it! Stop dilly dallying, and make your Monday a day to look forward to. 




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