Sunday, November 30, 2014

Slow Cooker Chicken Corn Chowder with Bacon

Chicken Corn Chowder is one of our favorite soups.  One that I make several times a year, but usually a different recipe each time.  This is at the top of my list at the moment.  The flavors are wonderful and the recipe is so easy to prepare using the slow cooker.  I threw this together in the morning and let it cook while I did the rest of my chores around the house that day.  It was great not having to figure out dinner by the time I was finished my other tasks!

Slow Cooker Chicken Corn Chowder with Bacon
     Adapted from: Damn Delicious

  • 1-2 lbs red potatoes, diced 
  • 1 yellow onion, diced 
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 16 oz. frozen corn
  • 3 Tbs. flour 
  • 1 tsp. Thyme 
  • 1 tsp. Oregano 
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder 
  • 1/2 tsp. onion powder 
  • 1/4 tsp salt 
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper 
  • 6 cups chicken broth 
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 6 slices thick bacon, cooked and crumbled 
  • 1 cup chicken, cooked and diced
To prepare: 
  • Place the potatoes,onion and bell pepper in the crock pot.  
  • Stir in the flour. 
  • Pour in the frozen corn and combine well.  
  • Add seasonings and chicken broth.  
  • Cover and cook on high for 4-5 hours.  
  • Stir in the heavy cream, chicken and bacon.  Allow to cook for another 15-20 minutes or until heated through.  
Yum!  So, so good!  This soup really hit the spot after a busy day!  We'll definitely be having this a few more times this winter!  Can't beat easy and delicious!  

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Don't Forget the Duracell ~ Make Your Holiday a Success! #PowerTheHolildays

*This is a sponsored post for SheSpeaks and Duracell.

Every year, while I shop for and then wrap all of our holiday gifts not only for Grace but for our many nieces and nephews, it's Joe's job to keep track of the batteries we need for any of the many toys we are gifting for Christmas.

Nothing can ruin a Christmas morning more than having a new toy to play with, but no batteries to power it up!  So we are always prepared with a large stock of batteries in assorted sizes to go with each gift.  I even pack some extras in my purse when we visit, just in case another gift giver forgets to include batteries with their gifts!

During the winter months, we use a lot of AA batteries.  Between marathon bowling tournaments on the Wii and lots of family movie nights, we always need to be prepared with new batteries!  In fact, while normally our battery stash is kept in the garage, along with a smaller stash in a kitchen drawer, I always have a smaller pack of Duracell AA batteries handy in the same basket we use to hold our remote controls!  That way we don't have to go searching for the right size in the middle of our bowling match or when snuggled on the sofa watching Christmas movies on the Hallmark Channel!

Right about now, I'm done with hitting the stores for my shopping.  It's too cold outside and the parking lots are crazy!  I'd rather sit by the fire with a cup of hot cocoa, with a Christmas movie on the TV and my laptop on my lap and shop online!  Now, that's my kind of shopping!  I'll be adding some batteries to my next online Walmart purchase!

Here are some shopping links to make it easy for you:

Our thermostat also takes a AA battery, so at the start of the winter season, Joe always replaces last year's battery with a new one.  Always with Duracell batteries!  We also use Duracell Batteries in our smoke detectors, flash lights and in one of my cameras.

Here are some handy links:

So, don't forget to check your gifts and get the batteries you need to go along with them!  While you're at it, grab an extra pack or two just in case!  Power the Holidays with Duracell!


VTech Learning Cartridges Review and Giveaway

Disclosure:  The VTech product, gift card, information, and additional gift pack have been provided by VTech.  All opinions are honest and my own.

After completing the review that I shared here for the VTech InnoTab 3S Plus Learning Tablet, I was contacted by the nice people at VTech to try out the compatible Learning Cartridges with the opportunity to share a set with a lucky giveaway winner here on the blog!

Knowing how much we love VTech products in our home, I had a hunch that our readers would love the chance to win a set of cartridges as well!

Until reviewing the InnoTab, Grace was very limited in her use of electronics.  Occasionally, she'd use our phones to play a game, but aside from that and some Wii Bowling the concept of video games and tablets is pretty new to her.  So, I love that VTech has games appropriately geared to her age and learning level.

Since Grace has started school in August, I have seen how much she is enjoying learning new things. How excited she is to come home and tell me about what she learned that day.  I've also noticed that she lacks the desire to learn at home.  I've been told more than once that "homework is boring!"  Yep, already, homework is a nightmare in our house!

With the VTech InnoTab and the Learning Cartridges, she is able to learn when she thinks she's just having fun playing a game!

Before I get to the giveaway portion of this blog post, let me share some information with you about the VTech Learning Cartridges:

  • With the VTech Learning Cartridges, parents can extend the play value of their VTech toys.  Purchasing the Learning Cartridges will allow the tablet to grow more with your child's abilities. 
  • A range of education cartridges are available, offering age-appropriate games, e-Books and more.  These allow kids to learn key subjects such as math, reading and science in steady stages.  
  • Interactive e-Books teach reading and vocabulary, while creative activities and camera fun help to get your kids using their imaginations. 
  • Children can learn as they play with their favorite characters from Winnie the Pooh, Toy Story, Finding Nemo, Monsters University and more! 
  •  The cartridges are compatible with all current InnoTab models and will also work with new models that will be released later this year, including the InnoTab MAX, which is VTech's fastest Wi-Fi tablet yet and it's first to feature Android learning content.   
We had the chance to try out three VTech Learning Cartridges as shown in the photo above.  

InnoTab My First Nursery Rhymes Learning Cartridge 
(Ages 12-36 months, MSRP: $24.99) 

  • Join Cody and Cora on a musical adventure in My First Nursery Rhymes for VTech's InnoTab Learning Tablets!  Listen to nursery rhyme songs, play mini learning games, watch playful animations and learn baby sign language. 
  • This InnoTab Learning Cartridge includes 25 popular nursery rhymes, mini games, introduces five baby sign language signs and allows you to customize parent settings.  
  • In lullaby mode, you can set the timer for 15 minutes and play a loop of 5 sleepytime songs to soothe your child to sleep.  You can also customize characters and create and avatar that interacts within the songs.  

***Our thoughts:  Although this is for younger kids, Grace still wanted to give this cartridge a try.  She enjoyed hearing the the nursery rhymes and applauded after each one and sang a long during a few.  The games didn't hold her attention for very long, but I can see this being a hit with Grace's one-year old cousin when she comes to visit!  I love that parents can set the timer and play a loop of songs!  Why just use that timer for bedtime???  Those 15 minutes of music can be a lifesaver when a busy mom needs to distract her little one in the supermarket, car ride, or even so mom can start dinner or run to the bathroom!  

InnoTab Disney Winnie the Pooh Learning Cartridge
(Ages 12-36 months, MSRP: $24.99) 

  • Winnie the Pooh is always hungry for honey in Winnie the Pooh for VTech's InnoTab Learning Tablets.  Help him find his honeypot and learn shapes, colors, opposites and more along the way.  Includes fun songs and baby sign language with Roo and Piglet!  
  • This InnoTab Learning Cartridge features and e-Book about Pooh and his great day bouncing with Tigger and friends, four sing-along songs with familiar melodies about Winnie the Pooh and friends, and a Music Box plays four sing-along songs in a loop for up to 30 minutes.  

***Our thoughts:  Again, Grace is older than the recommended group for this cartridge, but who can resist Winnie the Pooh?  I know he's always been a favorite in our house!  Grace enjoyed watching Pooh and his friends get ready for a party picnic and listening to the sing-along songs.  Again, this will be a great hit with my niece when she comes to visit!  

InnoTab Classic Stories Learning Cartridge 
(Ages 3-6, MSRP $24.99) 

  • In Classic Stories for VTech's InnoTab Learning Tablets, children can read three classic stories:  The Frog Prince, Pinocchio and The Three Little Pigs, each with three different reading levels.  
  • This InnoTab Learning Cartridge includes three learning games which introduce writing, rhyming, phonics, reading comprehension and more.  

***Our thoughts:  This was the favorite of the three cartridges as the recommended age group is more appropriate for Grace.  So far, her favorite game on this cartridge is "Help the Princess"  She is still on level 1 and it seems to be really easy for her, but showing that she knows the answers is really helping build her confidence.  Grace's penmanship skills can use some work, so my favorite game is "Writing with Pinocchio" where kids can use a "pencil" to practice writing their letters.

Now that you've learned a bit about the VTech Learning Cartridges, are you ready to enter for your chance to win a gift pack of your own VTech Learning Cartridges?  Of course you are!!!

Entering is easy using the rafflecopter form below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway rules:  US residents only, please.  Giveaway winner will be contacted via email and will have 48 hours to respond with mailing information so that our sponsor may ship your prize.

Disclosure:  The VTech product, gift card, information, and additional gift pack have been provided by VTech.  All opinions are honest and my own.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Ginger Snap Pumpkin Smoothie

At our house, we LOVE Autumn!  Bulky sweaters, brisk days, and the sound of leaves crunching under our feet as we walk.  Of course, me being a foodie and all, I love all of the yummy fall flavors!

I'm sure most of you have been hitting your neighborhood coffee shops for your fall drink fix, but I'm not a coffee drinker.  When Joe brought home some pumpkin pie flavored yogurt the other day, I knew I just had to turn that into a smoothie!  The result?  This creamy smoothie is  perfect for breakfast or lunch or even as an alternative  to pumpkin pie for dessert!

Ginger Snap Pumpkin Smoothie 


  • 4 oz. container of pumpkin pie yogurt (discard the "pie crust" crumbles)
  • 1/4 cup Plain, fat free Greek Yogurt 
  • 1/4 cup skim milk 
  • 1 frozen banana, cut into chunks
  • 1/4 cup crushed ginger snap cookies + additional for garnish
  • 5 ice cubes
To prepare:  
  • Combine ingredients in blender pitcher and blend until smooth and creamy.  
  • Pour into glass.  
  • Garnish with crushed ginger snap cookies. 
  • Add a straw and enjoy!  
  • I crushed about five smaller sized ginger snaps before making my smoothie.  I still had some crushed cookies left after preparing my smoothie.  
  • I crushed the cookies using the same method that I used when I crushed the Whoppers Candy for my Whopper of a Smoothie!  Alternately, you could probably just toss the whole cookies into the blender with the other ingredients.  
I made this smoothie for myself for breakfast over the weekend and LOVED it!  I was having a difficult time concentrating on taking photos of the finished product because I really just wanted to devour it right away!  While I sipped this for breakfast, I realized that if I had this instead of pie for dessert, I'd be totally satisfied and not feel as if I was depriving myself of dessert!  In fact, I'd even splurge and allow myself a dollop of whipped cream on a special occasion!  

A Whopper of a Smoothie

Did you know it's smoothie week?  Well, it is over at Williams-Sonoma and they've asked me to whip up a smoothie using a unique ingredient.

I'm not sure why, but Whoppers Candy was the first thing that popped into my head.  Maybe because I had a huge bowl of Halloween Candy sitting next to me and they were calling my name!

Regardless of what inspired this delicious dessert smoothie, I was super pleased with the result!  This smoothie is a perfect way to add some dairy and fruit to your day while satisfying your sweet tooth at the same time!

So, go ahead and raid your kids' Halloween candy and get your blenders ready to whip up this yummy, almost-guilt-free treat!

While Whoppers Candy isn't something totally off-the-wall unusual, it is a bit of a jump from my normally healthy smoothie ingredients.


You'll want to crush those candies and that's really easy to do!  Just pour the candy into a zipper bag.  Seal the bag after squeezing out the air.  Place the bag of candy into a folded dish towel and crush the candy by whacking it with a meat mallet or rolling pin.  Grace had fun helping me with this part of the preparation!

Grace and I crushed up a movie theater sized package of Whoppers because I wasn't sure how much I'd need for this smoothie.  I love that we have enough to make at least 2 more smoothies!  This is great because normally, I'd sit there and just devour the entire box, but by adding some of the crushed candy to healthy smoothie ingredients, I was able to enjoy a sweet treat without feeling too guilty!

Now that we've gotten past the candy crushing, scroll down for the recipe!


A Whopper of a Smoothie

  • 1 frozen banana, cut into chunks
  • 1/2 cup plain, fat free Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup skim milk 
  • 1/4 cup crushed Whoppers Candy 
  • 1/2 cup crushed ice
  • 1/2 Tbs. crushed Whoppers Candy for garnish, optional 
To Prepare: 
  • Add all ingredients (except the 1/2 Tbs of candy used to garnish) to blender pitcher
  • Blend until creamy. 
  • Pour into a glass. 
  • Garnish with additional Whoppers Candy.  

Creating this smoothie recipe started me thinking about a dessert I used to get as a kid and how I'd like to transform the concept of that dessert into another dessert be sure to check back soon for more healthy dessert options!

In the meantime, check out my latest recipe for a Ginger Snap Pumpkin Smoothie.  The delicious flavors of fall in a tasty breakfast smoothie!  Psst!  It's great for dessert, too!

If you like, you can also check out the rest of my smoothie recipes by clicking the smoothie tab at the top of the page or by following this link Smoothie Recipes

Disclaimer:  I was not compensated for this post in any way.  All ideas and opinions shared in this post are original and my own.  

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Slow Cooker Vegetable Soup

If you're a regular here, then you know I love soup!  When summer begins, I count the days until it's cool enough to make soup again.  This year, I'm slacking!  I've only made two pots of soup so far and October is almost over!

This soup was inspired by the overflowing vegetable bins in my fridge.  I had to use 'em or lose 'em! So, after dinner one night, I began chopping and throwing everything into my crock pot.  Before I went to bed, I turned the slow cooker on low and let it cook overnight.  Cooking overnight seems to be the only way I manage to get dinner on the table these days.

Slow Cooker Vegetable Soup 

  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 28 oz can petite diced tomatoes
  • canned kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • canned black beans, rinsed and drained 
  • 12 oz. bag fresh baby spinach, torn
  • 1 onion, diced 
  • 1 large carrot, diced 
  • 2 celery ribs, diced 
  • 1 tsp dry minced garlic 
  • 1 Tbs. Italian seasoning 
  • crushed red pepper flakes (to taste) 
To Prepare: 
  • Combine ingredients in slow cooker.  Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours.  

This recipe was a hit! We both enjoyed it for dinner the first night, then I ate the rest throughout the week for lunch.  

Here are more of my favorite meatless, slow cooker soups:  

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

VTech InnoTab 3S Plus Learning Tablet Review & Giveaway

Disclaimer:  I received this product as a sample to test and review for this blog post as well as an additional product to giveaway to one lucky reader.  All opinions are honest and my own.

I don't know about your kids, but Grace is hooked on electronic gadgets.  I saw it right away when she was a baby.  She would pull herself up to the desk and try to use the mouse of my old, clunker of a desktop computer.  (My current laptop is a clunker, too!)  Even now, if I walk away from the desk, I'll catch her typing her name on the keyboard.  Mostly, though, anything with a app catches her attention.

I was recently asked to review an InnoTab 3S Plus Learning Tablet by VTech and with the holidays quickly approaching, I figured it was perfect timing!  Especially since they are allowing me to give one away to a lucky reader!

Before we get to the giveaway, let me tell you a little about the the VTech InnoTab 3S Plus Learning Tablet:

  • The recommended age group is 3-9 years and the suggested retail price is $79.99.  

  • The InnoTab 3S Plus is a value-packed 5" tablet that features a rechargeable battery power pack so you don't need to worry about constantly purchasing batteries, a cost that really adds up. 

  • This tablet offers access to more than 800 educator-endorsed, age and stage appropriate cartridges, software and apps that can be purchased and downloaded from VTech's Learning Lodge app store.  

  • InnoTab 3S Plus features Wi-Fi and comes with 16 apps, including free access to an enhanced 2nd generation of VTech Premium Kid Connect, a tablet-to-mobile communication app that lets kids communicate in real time and exchange voice and text messages, photos, drawings and fun stickers with their parents' smartphones.  

  • New enhanced Kid Connect features include a parent-controlled group chat and a fun multi-player game which will be available in the fall.  (Kids can explore VTech and parent-approved websites through the kid-safe Wi-Fi.) 

  • Children will also love taking photos using the 180 degree rotating camera with over 55 special effects and using the video recorder for movies.  They can even import and listen to their own MP3s with the music player.  

As I expected, Grace really loves the VTech InnoTab 3S Plus and just like our iPhones, we have to limit her time otherwise she'll want to use it during dinner!  She won't tell us what her favorite feature is, but I suspect it's the 180 degree rotating camera!  Also, she loves that she can send her daddy text messages when he's working late or on the weekend.  We love that it's helping keep her interested in learning!

To learn more about the VTech InnoTab 3S Plus Learning Tablet and other VTech products,
check out these links:

Would you like to win a VTech InnoTab 3S Plus Learning Tablet?  Use the rafflecopter form below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Winner will be selected using  Winner will be notified via email and will have 24 hours to respond with their shipping information which will then be forwarded to the sponsor.  US residents only, please.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

ZonePerfect Blog Forward Challenge Part 3 with a Giveaway!

Lately on Facebook, I've been seeing some posts counting down to Christmas already.  I know a lot of people wish it was Christmas all year 'round and are really looking forward to the holiday season.  Me?  I'm just getting past the start of the school year and am counting down to Halloween, as this might just be the year that Grace decides to go out for Trick or Treat for the first time!  She loves the decorations and the pumpkin patch is her favorite place in the world, she's just not into the scary parts and every year opts out of costumes (even her princess costumes) and trick or treat.

Seeing these crazy, Christmas Countdown posts has made me realize that this year will soon be coming to a close, which I find really hard to believe!  Where has the time gone?  It also has me thinking about the goals that I set for myself earlier this year when I signed up for the ZonePerfect Blog Forward Challenge.

Currently, we're in part 3 of the challenge and while I've really done well on some of my goals, there are still a couple of points that I need to make an effort to address.

Eating Healthy was at the top of my list.  For the most part this year, I did really well in making healthy food choices.  Lots of fresh fruits and vegetables were served with meals throughout the past several months, though, I will admit that I didn't do such a great job kicking the junk food habit completely.  On a good note, though, I have been grabbing an apple to eat in the car while waiting in the pick up line after school!

This year, I wanted to Become More Active.  I wish I could say that I stuck to this one from the very start but sadly, it took a while for me to get my butt in gear for this one.  But for the past several weeks, I've been getting myself (and the dog) to the walking park for a daily walk.  Occasionally, I manage to fit in two walks a day!  It's not much, but it's definitely a start!

Saving Money is hard for us.  We've been on a single income since we moved into our home 7 years ago and finding extra money to stash away isn't easy.  This year, with Grace starting school, we've had some additional expenses making it even that more difficult to save but at the same time, we're trying to make smart choices with our purchases and really making it a point to avoid late fees by paying our bills on time.

Getting Organized is still a big problem for me.  I thought with Grace being gone from the house for 2 hours, that I'd be able to get a ton of stuff done and organized around this place.  Nope!  Not at all.  If anything, I feel like I'm more unorganized than ever.  Something seems to come up every day, not to mention the ton of paperwork in Grace's back pack every day!  This kid needs her own filing cabinet!  I joke...but hey, that's a great idea!  I'll be focusing on this goal in the upcoming weeks so that I can be organized by the holidays.

It was difficult to admit that I need to Be a Better Wife and Mother.  I'm having a tough time with this goal, too.  I think time management is a big issue.  I get up, get Grace ready for school (this takes several hours and usually there's an argument during this time), drop her off, come home, eat lunch, try to clean up a little, then pick her up, then it's time to make dinner, etc.  I've been trying to fit in some mommy/Grace time with visits to the playground and play dates, etc.  But all of that cuts into the time I need to be doing stuff around the house.  Often, I'm tired and grumpy.  Not my idea of a better wife and mom.  This needs more work.

I vowed to Take Care of Me this year.  This seems to be the goal I focused on the most, as I felt it was important for me to be well (mentally and physically) in order to follow through with any of the other goals on my list.  While I still haven't gotten in touch with a therapist for my depression and OCD, I have taken care of other things that have been neglected.  I learned how to drive this year, I saw an eye doctor and got glasses (I haven't worn my glasses in over 12 years) and I'm currently recovering from some some dental work I had gotten done.  I joined Weight Watchers online and even went to a meeting recently.

Part 3 of the ZonePerfect Blog Forward Challenge has reminded me that I do need to work more on my goals.  Reading the letter I wrote to myself at the beginning of the challenge also reminds me that I need to order myself some Dark Chocolate Almond ZonePerfect bars!  They are my favorite, but I have a difficult time finding that particular flavor in the stores we shop.

With just about 2 1/2 months left in the year, I plan to reall dig in and get involved in working on reaching my goals.  Here's what I plan to work on:

Eat Healthy.  It's soup season, so this should be a no brainer!  Lots of fresh vegetables and lean meats in my soups, along with whole grains in my hearty, keep-warm soups!  Keeping a handful of ZonePerfect bars in the glove box of the car will help me keep on track when I'm on the go!

Stay Active.  I'm keeping up with my daily walks.  The dog won't let me skip them anyhow!  With it getting dark earlier, I'll have to take my walks before picking Grace up from school.  Also, I'm considering checking out a local gym.  I need to see if this is something we can afford.

Save Money.  I started my Christmas shopping earlier this year and have been taking advantage of sale prices and some daily deal sites.  In addition to avoiding late fees, I also plan to focus on saving money on groceries.  With Joe doing the majority of the food shopping in the past, we didn't pay a lot of attention on the cost of groceries, just getting what we needed when we needed it.  Now that I'm driving, I think I should be able to comparison shop and save more money on the food we purchase.  Also, I am continuing to transfer money to our savings account every week.

Get Organized.  I'll be putting an empty box in the back of my truck each week.  Every day after dropping Grace off at school, I will add items to the box that we no longer use.  At the end of the week, when the box is full (hopefully), I will drop it off at a local thrift shop that takes donations. Working on time management will also be something I will be focusing on in the next several weeks.

Being a Better Wife and Mother and Taking Care of Me.  These are tough ones.  I believe I will always be a work in progress when it comes to both of these goals.

How about you?  Did you set goals or make resolutions for yourself at the start of the year?  How are you doing with reaching those goals?  Did you forget about them, like I sometimes do?  What are your plans for finishing out the year with those goals in mind?

To help give you incentive to reach your goals, ZonePerfect will give one lucky Under the Big Oak Tree reader a ZonePerfect Wellbeing Essentials Kit which includes hair ties, a pedometer, lip balm, a tumbler, and some ZonePerfect bars!

It's super easy to enter using the rafflecopter form below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*As required by the Federal Trade Commission: The information and gift packs have been provided by Abbott Laboratories to Under the Big Oak TRee at no cost. All that was asked of Under the Big Oak Tree was to review the product, and give our honest opinion. 

Friday, August 29, 2014

Ozeri WeightMaster 400 lbs. Digital Bathroom BMI Scale #Ozeri

We've been dealing with our first "back to school" over here at Under the Big Oak Tree and this momma has been doing some emotional eating while dealing with the stress and anxiety of it all!

School started on Tuesday and our kiddo is handling it well.  So, now it's time for momma to get rid of the junk in the house and get back to healthy eating and watching my weight...that is, I mean, after the holiday weekend!  I want some grilled burgers and hot dogs!

Anyway. Even though I haven't been really paying attention to my weight the past several weeks, I did get the chance to give a new scale a try.

For some reason, we seem to have a collection of scales in our home.  It didn't take long for the Ozeri WeightMaster 400 lbs. Digital Bathroom BMI Scale to become the family favorite.  It is awesome!

When I first took it out of the box, I loved the sleek design of the scale, but was slightly intimidated. Then again, I get pretty intimidated over anything that comes with an instruction manual!

Seriously though, this scale is amazing and really simple to use, I was able to figure it out right away!

Here are some of the features of the Ozeri WeightMaster 400 lbs. Digital Bathroom BMI Scale:

  • just as the name states, this scale calculates your Body Mass Index (BMI) 
  • displays both your current and net weight change, recording up to 7 weigh ins per user.  
  • Highlights your net weight change in GREEN for weight loss and RED for weight gain 
  • Weight capacity is 400 lbs. / 180 kg 
  • Automatically turns on when you step on the scale
  • Auto power off to save battery life.  
  • Easy to set using the 3 Touch Screen Function Keys 
  • Tracks stats for up to 5 unique users with Automatic Recognition. 

For me, I am really bad with numbers.  My brain just doesn't retain the information.  So, with daily weigh ins (to see if I'm on the right track), I love that the scale will note my weight change by using color codes.  That way I really don't have to obsess with the number on the scale as I'm checking in to see my progress each day.

Earlier in the post I mentioned that I loved the sleek design of the scale.  Not only is it pleasing to the eyes, but the smooth surface also makes it super easy to wipe clean.  No grooves or divots to collect dust and dirt!

Another feature that is useful is the Memory Access Mode which allows the user to look up 7 of your most recent weigh ins!

The scale can also be used in a basic mode for users that choose to not set up a profile.

If you are interested in purchasing the Ozeri WeightMaster 400 lbs. Digital Bathroom BMI Scale, you can do so using this link:

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Crock Pot Quinoa ~ Tex Mex Style

Since trying quinoa for the first time a couple of months ago, I've been eating it a lot.  Quinoa, black beans, corn and taco seasoning seems to be my favorite combination.  It's very flavorful and really filling.  Finding a crock pot recipe for this delicious, healthy food just makes me love it even more!

This makes a lot and since Joe isn't fully on board with my love for quinoa, I decided to freeze the leftovers in smaller portions for myself.  Perfect for a quick lunch during the week!

Crock Pot Quinoa ~ Tex Mex Style
        adapted from:  Chelsea's Messy Apron

  • 1 1/2 cups Quinoa, rinsed
  • 1 can black beans, drained/rinsed
  • 1 can fire roasted diced tomatoes with liquid
  • 1 jar Trader Joe's tomato-less Corn Salsa
  • 6 mini sweet peppers, sliced
  • 1 vidalia onion, diced
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic
  • 2 Tbs. Chili Powder 
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 2 Tbs. reduced sodium taco seasoning
  • 3 cups water
To Prepare: 
  • Spray crock pot insert with nonstick cooking spray.
  • Rinse quinoa as directed on package.  
  • Combine all ingredients in crock pot.  
  • Cover and cook on low for 5-6 hours.  

  • This is great served as is or with additional toppings like sour cream or shredded cheese (fat free varieties for me please). 
  • This recipe reminded me of Spanish Rice, so while it's great on it's own, it would also work well as a side dish.  
  • Excellent in a wrap, too!  

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Menu Plan Monday 2014 ~ Week of August 18th

Sorry for the late posting of this week's menu plan.  I had a really busy weekend that didn't allow me time to sit down to work on my plan or get anything else posted.  With the busy weeks ahead, I'm thinking of working on a month long menu plan for September.  


As part of my driving lessons,
Grace's uncle thought it was very important
that I know how to get to McDonald's
to get Grace's favorite meal ever!


Tex Mex Quinoa 
I didn't have all the ingredients on hand for this one,
so I had to adapt the recipe a bit.
I'll be sure to let you know how it turns out!


Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches 
This is the perfect meal for a busy week
since there's always tons left over!
This shredded buffalo chicken is
great on buns, in a wrap or even on top
of a baked potato!


Pasta Night 
I'm not sure what sort of pasta dish I'll prepare this night,
I just know we're long over-due for an Italian-inspired meal.  


Leftover Night
Have I mentioned before how much I love leftovers?

Hot Dogs, Baked Beans
Macaroni Salad


Now that you know what we're eating this week, let us know in the comments what's for dinner at your house this week! Or, if you need more menu planning inspiration? Follow me over to Menu Plan Monday hosted by I'm an Organizing Junkie! Or, if you like what you see here, you can check out my past menu plans.

What Makes Me Smile #7

I tend to be a Negative Nelly about my life.  I'm great about putting a positive spin on things when friends vent to me about their bad days, but when it comes to my life, I only see the bad things.  In an attempt to change this aspect of my personality, I want to journal some things that make me smile each week.  Hoping that when I look back, I'll see just how many things I have to be grateful for and smile about in my life.

Sorry this is posting late this week.  We've had a busy weekend and I didn't get a chance to sit down to write.

Last week was a sad week.  Hearing that Robin Williams lost his battle with depression made it difficult to smile much.  Suffering from depression myself, hearing of his death really hit close to home.  I spent a lot of the week in denial and each morning a logged into my Facebook account, I was hit again with the news of his death.  This went on for several days.

Maybe it seems silly to be hit so hard by a celebrity's death.  Someone I've never met before.  One of my cousin's said it best:
"Losing Robin Williams is like everyone in the world just lost their crazy uncle at the same time." 

Thankfully, a busy weekend helped in keeping me from dwelling on it much longer and gave me a few things to smile about:

  • Great friends.  We are truly blessed with wonderful friends.  Always here to lend a hand with the house, listen to our troubles, celebrate happy times, or just plain spoil Grace.  

  • Family.  We had a family event over the weekend.  Life gets busy and everyone's work schedules get in the way, it's nice when we're all able to get together for some good food and conversation.  

  • First Birthdays and cousins.  My youngest niece turned one over the weekend (see family event listed above).  She is so adorable...all babies are, I know!  Grace, who normally keeps a big distance from babies, really enjoyed playing with her cousin and we all loved seeing them interact with each other.  

  • Twinkle Toes.  Last week, we hit the dollar kiddie movie again.  Six adults and one kid!  That alone made me laugh, but just trying to get all of us together and out the door so early was something out of a comedy movie!  During a slower part of the movie, Grace was a little bored and decided to tap her toes on the floor.  It was funny to see her Twinkle Toes sneakers lighting up the dark theater!  

Hoping you all had a happy week with lots of smiles!  I'd love for you to share by leaving a comment!  

Wednesday, August 13, 2014


Grace is pretty anxious for Autumn.  It's her favorite time of the year.  Last week, she saw a leaf fall from the tree and exclaimed:  "It's Fall!!!"  I tried to explain to her that we still had some time before the fall and that the leaf she saw was probably from the windy, stormy day we were having that day.  

Adding to her excitement is the fact that the farm that is directly behind us is growing pumpkins this year!  Usually, the farmer plants corn or soy beans.  This is the first year for pumpkins, at least in the field that we can see from our yard!  

Every day, we've been walking to the end of our property to check the progress of the pumpkin field.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Homemade Fajita Seasoning Mix ~ Control the Heat and Sodium

I love to cook, but I'll admit sometimes I get lazy about preparing meals and the last thing I feel like doing is measuring a bunch of seasonings for a recipe.  I could go out and buy some premade packets of seasoning, but those are usually loaded with salt and we've really been trying to steer clear of seasoning packets since Joe's been watching his blood pressure.

I was really pleased when I came across a recipe for a homemade fajita seasoning.  I adapted the recipe a bit to omit the paprika that I recently ran out of and I used less salt, too! Also, I quadrupled the recipe so I could have a decent sized jar of it in my pantry for whenever we want a quick meal of fajitas!  With school and dance class starting, we're gonna be all about quick meals this fall!

Homemade Fajita Seasoning Mix 
     Adapted From:  Chocolate Moosey

  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • 2 tsp. oregano
  • 4 tsp. black pepper
  • 4 Tbs. chili powder 
  • 1 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 3 tsp. salt
  • Measure ingredients into a clean jar with a lid. 
  • Screw on lid and shake until seasonings are well combined.  
  • Add to chicken, beef, soups or stews.  Start with a tablespoon, taste, then add more as needed. 
  • This is pretty good sprinkled on air popped corn, too!    

Monday, August 11, 2014

Menu Plan Monday 2014 ~ Week of August 11th

Last week was drama-filled and stressful.  I wasn't able to work on a menu plan, nor did I care much about exercise or weight loss.  Mainly we ate a lot of quick thing like sandwiches or hot dogs.  One night I made some delicious fried chicken and Joe and I even had dinner out one night...dinner that did not require shouting into a speaker from the car window!  

This week, I'd like to get back on track with my diet and am looking forward to some healthy dinner choices.  


Lemon Fettuccine with Carrots 
After all of the not so healthy choices I made last week,
I think this light meal is what's needed
to start the week off on the right track!  


Spanish Quinoa 
Corn Quesadillas 
I've been toying with the idea of replacing our rice with Quinoa
in our favorite Spanish Rice recipe.
Great minds think alike since my buddy Nicole from Colie's Kitchen
obviously had the same idea!
Check out her recipe by clicking the link above!  


Chicken Fajita Soup
All this back to school talk has me thinking about the autumn
and all of the fall-weather comfort foods.
Trying a new recipe for soup this week,
I'll be sure to share if it's a success!


Leftover Night 


Chili over Quinoa 
Another quinoa idea that's been inspired by my buddy Nicole!
So loving quinoa right now!  


Family BBQ
I'll probably bring something a little on the healthy side
so I won't have an excuse to pig out all day!
Sure, I'll probably cheat, but not too much since
Weigh In Day is Sunday!


Chicken Taco Salads 
A big batch of chicken taco filling is just
what I need in the fridge!
A little goes a long way when added to fat free
refried beans and some fat free salsa
on top of a bed of lettuce!

Now that you know what we're eating this week, let us know in the comments what's for dinner at your house this week! Or, if you need more menu planning inspiration? Follow me over to Menu Plan Monday hosted by I'm an Organizing Junkie! Or, if you like what you see here, you can check out my past menu plans.

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