December 31, 2013

To Begin Again

A new year and a good time to begin again.

So far, over the past year, I have lost 17 pounds.

It's not the first time I have done that, I have lost more in years past.

But I have never been able to keep it off.

This time has been different.

Even though I have not been trying to loose any weight these last couple of months, I haven't been really paying attention either to what I have been eating.

And since the middle of summer, I haven't been tracking my food.

I still eat pretty good - more sugar than what I should be eating does seem to find it's way into my diet though.

Exercise is still a priority - but not as much as in the warmer months - the lake is frozen for swimming and the morning exercise routine gets done about half the time now.

But I must be doing something right - the weight has stayed off.

So, as the new year begins, I will start to pay more attention again and see what happens.

From what I am seeing, it can only be a good thing!

December 22, 2013

Butternut Squash Secret

Butternut Squash has never been my favorite.

As a kid growing up, I used to dislike to see it on my plate, so much in fact, I have never served it in my house.

Until this past week.

We were lucky enough to find a bag of it on clearance already cubed and ready to be cooked.

I really didn't want to buy it, but it was a 2 pound bag and my husband wasn't giving up on it.

I read the recipe on the bag about how to cook it - and there were also several ways to cook it.

I remembered the dry, stringy stuff from the past, and I was determined not to end up with that.

So, I decided to spread it in a baking pan and drizzle it with butter and sprinkle it with brown sugar.

After tossing it around to coat it, I baked it for about 35 minutes in the oven, turning it once halfway through.

It smelled really good while it was cooking.

But the test was about to come once it finished baking.

And I have to admit, that Caramelized Butternut Squash is really good.

It's a good source of vitamins A and C.

And that two pound bag has lasted for four meals.

So now that I know the secret of cooking it, it will certainly find it's way into the grocery basket again.

December 6, 2013


I have heard of this grain, Buckwheat, but I have never seen or cooked with it.

My daughter uses buckwheat flour in her bread recipes, and she really likes it.

So when I found some buckwheat kernels on sale, I decided to give it a try.

One cup of it made a lot - it will be around for quite a few meals.

The taste is different - I prepared it as the package recommended - coating the kernels with an egg, cooking it in a skillet for a couple of minutes, then adding broth and seasonings and cooking until the liquid was gone.

I found the flavor to be strong but not unlikable.

We decided the next evening to cook some jasmine rice, and we made a mixture of 1/2 rice and 1/2 buckwheat on our plates.

That was just what that strong tasting buckwheat grain needed.

The rice mellowed the flavor and blended perfectly with the buckwheat.

It was really good, and I can see where we will be eating it on a more regular basis.

Something new and different for us and delicious to boot!

October 13, 2013

A Remembered Meal

Quite often when I use the oven for a roast or just for baking, I will throw a few potatoes on the bottom rack to bake too.

Multitasking the oven and the use of the fuel to heat it is always a savings.

With the leftover potatoes, I usually make them into hash browns which always go over really well in our house.

And since those potatoes are already cooked - those hash browns don't take very long to cook either.

I was whipping up another batch last night to go with the fish that my husband was cooking out on the grill.

He brought the cooked fish in and set it beside the pan of hash browns.

We both looked at each other with the same thought in mind.

It has been a good 20 years since we made a fish hash, but after 31 years together, I guess we think alike.

We chopped the fish and added it to the potatoes and onions.

It was as good as we remembered - and it stretched the fish and potatoes to make another meal.

We are a good team!

October 5, 2013

Turkey Markdown

We hit it just right at the market last week.

I was looking to cook a couple of small chickens so we could have a meal and some sandwiches for lunch.

I couldn't believe my eyes when we spotted a fresh all-natural turkey marked down to $9.69.

That was a lot of meat for the money as we soon found out.

That turkey served three people five meals each.

Homemade gravy from the drippings and homemade bread provided what was needed for the hot turkey sandwiches.

And our feral cat made out pretty good too.

He ate all week long the scraps that we picked from that bird.

So, when we figured it out, each meal cost us .65 cents each.

And the cat ate for free!

Now those deals are few and far between, but how we love finding the really good stuff for a great price!

September 30, 2013

Loving That Bread

There has been a lot of getting back to the basics around here lately.

This summer I have started baking my own bread again.

I used to do it all the time when the kids where growing up, but I have gotten away from it in the past few years.

But no more.

My Kitchen Aid mixer does a terrific job of the kneading.

The baking part is the extra step as I used to use a bread machine that took care of the entire job.

But I have gone a step further than the bread machine would have ever taken me.

In addition to the regular bread loaves, I now make free-form breads such as Italian, French, and our new favorite, Ciabatta.

All wholesome and natural ingredients.

Nothing artificial and no preservatives.

Just utterly delicious homemade bread from scratch.

It never lasts long and the smell of it baking makes the mouth water.

Just wish all those carbs weren't such a deterrent to the waistline!

July 7, 2013

Back to the Lake

We are back to our daily swims at the lake.

It has been over a month now, and the water has warmed up considerably since we first began swimming this season.

Even though it has been quite a rainy summer so far, it hasn't slowed us down.

The fog and raindrops that seem to "fall up" from dropping in the water make the swims a great experience still.

We just make sure to keep an ear tuned for thunder and an eye for the lightening - getting fried while swimming is not in the plan.

It didn't take long for us to get back into going along the lines - keeping our "old fogies" pace helps a lot.

It feels so good to be back to our swimming -and we intend to enjoy every minute of it too!

May 23, 2013

Planting Season Has Begun

The planting season has begun in our corner of the country.

We are declared officially frost-free as of May 31, but we have always put our seeds in the ground a week or so before that.

Once they all start coming up it is usually after that date anyway.

The plants will be going in the ground next week.

And what a batch a really beautiful plants we have this year.

My daughter started the tomatoes, eggplant, and basil from seeds a couple of months ago.

She only purchased the Heirloom variety seeds, and we are so excited to see how they produce.

She was very careful to watch out for those GMO ones - we are trying to stay away from them as much as possible.

She has some Quarter Century tomato plants, and they are the sturdiest, greenest, healthiest looking plants I have seen in a long time.

The plants are off to a great start and my fingers are crossed for a good growing season in the garden too!

May 13, 2013

Quick Delicious Cakes

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Private Selection for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

Private Selection

As most of my readers know, I like to make just about everything we eat from scratch.

Soups, sauces, veggies, all meals, meats, granolas, and most especially the desserts.

I will tackle it all to keep us as healthy as possible.

And one of the main reasons for doing this is so that I know exactly what is in our food.

I don't believe in anything artificial, and those hydrogenated and trans fats are a big no-no in this house.

Don't get me wrong, I use and consume fats, but not a one of them is man made.

And neither are any of the sugars or sweeteners - all natural stuff only in our foods.

It's great to be able to do this, but it is very time consuming.

And when unexpected company makes a visit, it is just about impossible to whip up something quick.

But now I will no longer have to worry about the dessert part of the meal when they do show up without warning.

There is a new line of Upsidedown Cakes that are sold exclusively at  the Kroger Family of Stores that are made by a private label brand called Private Selection.

These Private Selection Upside Down Cakes are the perfect thing to have on hand for a quick dessert.

Made of only all natural, wholesome ingredients, these cakes are a snap to make.

You warm it in it's own pan, flip it onto a serving plate, then serve the delicious cake to your guests.

And these premium cakes do not have a premium price - you could have dessert any night of the week!

With their homemade taste, they come in three different flavors, so there's something for every one.

There is currently a Private Selection Upside Down Cakes coupon available online to save a dollar on any one of these cakes.

And you can double that coupon to two dollars by Liking and Sharing Private Selection Upside Down Cakes on Facebook.

To find the nearest  store where you can purchase these Private Selection Upside Down Cakes, please check out this store locator link:

Be sure to follow Private Selection Upside Down Cakes on Pinterest too!


Coupon ends 6/2/13.  Official Rules. In order to load these coupons to your card, you will need to sign into your Kroger account or set up a Kroger account and enter your card number.  Limit one use per digital coupon.  Digital offers are not eligible on Manager's Specials, cannot be combined with manufacturer paper coupons on the purchase of a single item, and do not double.  Not all items are available in all stores.  A limit of 150 coupons can be loaded per household at one time.



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May 9, 2013

Finally, A Restful Sleep

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of ZzzQuil for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

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There are several different kinds of products on the market that are made to help you fall asleep on those occasional times  when it is hard to do so on your own.

And most of them are not very effective, or the sleep they deliver is not a restful, peaceful one.

We received yet another one of these fall asleep products as a sample from P&G, and were excited to try it after reading about it online.

We were sent a sample of ZzzQuil from the makers of Vicks NyQuil, which we know is an effective product when we have a cold.

We received this nighttime sleep aid in the form of a liquid that is in the flavor of Warming Berry.

True to that one of a kind Vick's taste, it was easy going down.

It came with a little cup to measure out the correct amount with no hassle.

In the past, when a sleep aid was used, it would have to be taken a good forty-five minutes to an hour for it to kick in.

We found this liquid to be very quick acting when compared to the pills.  

It worked within half an hour.

And the sleep it gave was a restful and peaceful one for the whole night through.

It is great to find a product that works so well, and the best part about it, it is not habit forming.

The active ingredient, Diphenhydramine HCI, really works to help you fall asleep.

We thank you, P&G, for giving us this opportunity to test your product - you have a winner with Vicks ZzzQuil!

If you haven't yet, check out and Like ZzzQuil on Facebook.  

And if you have tried the product, leave them a note to let them know if you liked it, and be sure to tweet with the hashtag #ZzzQuilNight too!

If you haven't tried it, and you need a good night's sleep, can't hurt to give it a try!



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April 6, 2013

It's a Beauty

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Moen, Incorporated for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

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Oh where was this little beauty when we were searching for our new kitchen faucet last fall.

And search we did - at all the hardware stores both in person and online.

It took us a few trips to finally decide on the model that we wanted at the price we could afford.

We compromised on the model - I wanted a high one, and my husband wanted one that pulled out with the sprayer in the faucet itself.

We got a pull out one that was just as short as the one we already had in there.

We couldn't find those two features in one model at the time.

But just a few months later the Kiran Spot Resist one-handle pulldown kitchen faucet hits the market at Lowe's.

I wish it had been available when we were looking as it has the features that we both wanted, plus a whole lot more that we could never have dreamed of.

Look at that beauty - so high with the perfect arch.

And it pulls down for easy rinsing and cleaning, and it slick at going right back up with the relex system that it is designed with.

The Moen name is also one of the top brands for quality when it comes to faucets.

But the best part about this little beauty is it's spot resistant finish.

That sleek stainless steel finish resists fingerprints and spots so it stays looking it's best all the time.

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We will live the choice we made last year, but it is good to know that if something happens to it, we will be able to replace it with this perfect one for us.

Check out and Like Moen on Facebook to keep up with their new products and be sure to follow @Moen on Twitter too!


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March 19, 2013

Grass Fed Beef - What a Treat!

Eating lean and low fat meat is a necessary part of a healthy diet.

We all know that too much fat is not good, but when eating meat, sometimes it's not only the fat that is not good for us.

There are whole new sections in the markets these days for organic and grass fed meats.

We usually check them out, but even on sale, these meats are very expensive, so they don't make it into the cart on a regular basis.

But every now and then, we hit it just right when the market is reducing them for clearance.

That's when we get to have a special treat.

The grass-fed ground beef makes the absolutely best hamburgers one can ever eat.

This meat is all natural and no hormones were used during the raising of the animal.

We would have never known the big difference between the regular and organic if we hadn't tasted this meat.

It is so good!

We now keep our eyes open more closely on this section in the market.

We don't want to miss a deal when it comes around.

March 4, 2013

Mixing Potions

I have been having some fun with mixing different ingredients for my own creams and shampoos.

In my last post, I was seeking a more natural alternative to all the chemical products on the market for our skin care.

Some of my experiments have been complete failures.

Some have just not been the mixture that my skin, especially my face, needs or likes.

And I have had some success with a couple of great potions that we use regularly.

But I still haven't found the perfect recipe for my face lotion or shampoo.

When I do make up the mixtures, I make smaller amounts so we can test them without wasting too much of the ingredients.

And the mixing of the oils and waters, which is what most lotions and creams are, is quite a learning experience as those two ingredients just do not mix well.

Using beeswax and watching the temps while mixing them will give better results, but it does take practice to get it right.

Finding the right oils for my skin type is also a learning process.

I will say though, I have always used ivory soap for my skin as it has been the only soap throughout my entire life that has not given my skin any problems.

I have tried numerous beauty bars, soft soaps, and cleansers over the years and not a none of them is agreeable to my skin, face or otherwise.

The ivory is pure, real soap, but as I get older, I find it is drying to my usually oily skin, hence the search for a non-greasy moisturizer.

As I mentioned above, I have had a few successes, but I know I need to make some changes to those recipes so they are perfect.

Once they get used up, the experimenting will continue.

I will share the ones that work the best for us.

February 8, 2013

Even More Natural

I have always tried to be aware of what I ate and what products I used on my body.

The more natural the better has always been my motto.

No processed foods, no make-up, and the "most natural" soaps and lotions I could find in the market that were not too expensive.

The expensive part has taken a jump these days and combine that with healthy or natural products and the price skyrockets.

So, I have been doing a lot of reading and researching.

Time to try making some of my own lotions, soaps, and shampoos.

This has always made me nervous thinking I couldn't do it right.

But I don't want to keep using all the chemical mixtures on the store shelves on my skin and hair any longer.

And if others can do it successfully, then I don't see why I can't.

I have ordered several types of organic carrier oils that are meant for my skin type - grapeseed, almond, apricot, and my favorite, jojoba.

I already have several bottles of essential oils, and my kitchen is stocked with herbs for cooking - and many of them are also used for skin and hair care.

My daughter is the queen of aloe vera plants - they multiply like crazy for her - so adding them to my supplies will be too easy.

I will start with very small batches, breaking down some of the recipes I have found to just a couple day's supply to see how well they work.

Once I know what works best, I can make bigger batches.

But as with natural products, they don't have the preservatives that the chemical ones do, so they are only good for so long.

I am excited to try mixing and creating my own "potions".

And of course I will share my findings right here!

February 1, 2013

Stevia Sweetener

In a previous post, I discussed how I was watching the added sugar intake in my diet.

It hasn't been as hard as I thought it would be, and I really do feel better because of it.

I tried the different sugar substitutes on the market, but I couldn't get past the thought that they were artificial chemicals - something our bodies should not be ingesting.

Even the stevia sweeteners on the market have been processed with additional ingredients.

They are white and look like sugar.

The natural stevia plant is green.

So why not go straight to the source - the plant itself.

I ordered some dried leaves and soaked them in some vodka for 24 hours.

After straining it, it is ready to use.

It only takes 1/2 a teaspoon to sweeten a  16 ounce cup of iced tea.

With no calories and no affect on blood glucose levels either.

And it is all totally natural.

I think next time I will make it with water instead of vodka.

It only lasts a couple if weeks in the refrigerator though, so it will have to be a smaller batch as the alcohol preserves the vodka method indefinitely.

I am giving some thought to purchasing some seeds and growing it myself this summer.

I am glad to have discovered it - it is amazing what mother nature provides!

January 15, 2013

Cute Outfit for Spring

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of No nonsense for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.


The January thaw that we have been having this past week has the mind wandering to the next season.


And a new dress for the new season can always bring a smile.

Checking out some of the new styles for this season, I found a cute outfit that is just the right color for spring.

A light blue dress with a graceful touch of lace around the neckline and puffy sleeves that are long for those chilly New England days is what I call a perfect dress.

Classic blue pumps and a white shoulder bag match perfectly with the dress.

But what ties the whole outfit together are the white tights.

No nonsense tights and leggings have a way adding just what is needed to complete an outfit.

And with all the colors that are available, there is a pair for every occasion and every outfit.

They can even be purchased at many food and drug stores, so dropping a pair in the cart while grocery shopping couldn't be easier.

They are a very affordable way to perk up an old outfit too - making it look new and different.

And I agree with the new face of No nonsense, Jill Martin.

She is a leading fashion expert and she thinks these trendy, high quality tights and leggings can change any outfit without costing and arm and leg.

To keep up with all the news on these new products, Like No nonsense on Facebook and follow them onTwitter @benononsense.

Good fashion that is affodable is just we all need during these trying economic times.


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January 13, 2013

Watching the Sugars

It comes in many different colors and forms and even has many different names.

But unless it is naturally occurring in the food that is eaten, it is considered an "added sugar" in any of it's forms.

Back in 2008, sugar consumption in the US was 136 pounds per person per year.

That's above and beyond the natural sugars already in our fruits, vegetables, and milk.

And the rest of the world is not far behind us in their consumption too.

Heck, I have even seen our cat eating the sweet-eating ants in the summer, and everyone knows how much bears love honey.

Sugar is just too good and all the Earth's creatures love it.

Even though it is considered "empty calories" it is necessary in supplying the brain with energy.

But being human, it is easy to let our love of something get too far out of hand.

Too much sugar contributes to many health problems, the most widespread being, obesity.

And that leads to many other diseases and ailments which can all be avoided.

So, I have been carefully watching my "added sugar" intake over the last six weeks.

According to my weight and calorie intake, it is recommended that I get 25 grams of added sugar a day.

Man, I was getting over that in just my breakfast alone.

And that iced tea that we always prided on making ourselves - that needed a serious makeover too.

That added sugar is everywhere and in everything.

And I am not one who will substitute those no calorie sweeteners to take the place of the real thing.

Don't need those fake chemicals that do their own damages in other ways.

When I first cut out the sugar, I was eating none, even the naturally occurring ones in the fruits.

But after reading more, I realized that those ones don't count.

I needed to only count the added sugars.

And when it comes down to it, it really isn't all that bad after all.

Even during the holidays with all the goodies, I could get by on just a nibble.

And that is still all that is needed now - it really does work.

And all my tea has been sugar free as well, and I enjoy it just the same.

And the weird thing, I can even taste the sugars in the lettuce now.

Who would have thought that?

January 1, 2013

Huge Cantaloupes

The cantaloupe melons seem to be running large this season.

The market has a fresh batch from Central America, and they are on sale this week.

I couldn't believe the size of the melon that I was getting for only $1.50.

I weighted it when I got home - 5 pounds on the button.

Now, that is going to be a heavy melon on our innards, or it is going to have us running to the bathroom from all it's water content.

It is a very tasty one - sweet and just the right ripeness.

Due to their textured skins, I always make sure I scrub them with a brush under running water to remove the potential harmful bacteria that settles into the nooks and crannies in the rind.

Cubed and served, they sure are a healthy, delicious snack!