Friday, May 29, 2015

6 Healthy Popsicle Recipes


I love popsicles! They remind me of summer, my childhood, sunny days and happy things. My favorite from the ice cream truck was the Good Humor Strawberry Shortcake popsicle.

The Today Show did an interesting segment titled "Can you believe diet frozen dessert labels? Tests show that some products have up to 68 percent more calories than labels promise." Turns out Weight Watchers bars and Arctic Zero (protein) ice cream had more calories than their labels advertised, but Skinny Cow bars had less. They can get away with this because the industry allows a percentage of error and the companies do their measurements based on averages of containers. So last year I decided to make my own frozen treats, from whole ingredients and 
had a blast experimenting with different homemade popsicle recipes. 

I’ve made it a personal goal of mine to make and eat as many popsicles as possible this summer! I definitely think home made popsicles are worth the effort because you can make exotic flavors and limit the sugar all at a fraction of the price. I don't want to consume something that is made with sucrose (splenda) or fructose cane syrup. I only consume organic daily yet companies like Breyer's and Haagen Daas use milk that has been treated with rGBH (a growth hormone) in their ice cream.  It’s very easy to make popsicles into a healthy snack full of nutritious ingredients. 

I borrowed this book from the library that has given me tons of new ideas for exotic flavored popsicles. Cupcakes had their heyday a few years back then macaron were the height of summer 2014, this summer is all about popsicle! If you want to jump on the bandwagon, order the popsicle molds I have. In order to release the popsicle from the mold you just have to run it under warm water.

I like to make small batches of popsicles so I can change flavors often. I already have some ideas of new flavors to make! Here are links to my top 6 popsicle recipes that you have to try this summer: 


Thursday, May 28, 2015

Trader Joe Summer Favorites

I love macarons! I took a baking class at Sur La Table to learn how to make them and it's quite tricky. I was so excited to see that TJ's now sells this gourmet treat in their freezer section! My local macaron store sells one macaron for $2.50 but at TJ's you can get a dozen for $5! It comes in 6 flavors: Fig, Lemon, Apricot, Coconut, Pistachio, and Salted Caramel. I've definitely been enjoying this tasty treat!












Eight years ago my co-worker invited me to visit her country of Peru with her. Machu Picchu was amazing and the food was good too. I'm still always on the hunt for authentic Pisco Sours (a cocktail made with egg whites) or Chicha Morada (purple corn juice). TJ's Giant Peruvian Inca Corn is compared to corn nuts which I've never had so I'll say the taste is similar to Fritos. On first bite I thought I might break my teeth on these too hard kernels, but then I got addicted to them. If you like salty snacks, this is for you.  


Cashews are my favorite nut, I eat them everyday as my snack at work. I buy the individual serving packets from TJs. So I was super excited to get my hands on their cashew butter which retails for $7.


After my trip to Spain, I've become addicted to Spanish cheese! Iberico is a hard cheese and a mixture of  cow's, sheep's and goat's milk. It's similar to manchego cheese. 

Hobo Bread is called such because hobos made it during The Great Depression. They'd cook it in old tin cans, hence the cylindrical, tube-like formation.  For $3 you get a moist dense bread filled with raisins, walnuts, brown sugar, and molasses. 



Fresh Apricots which I've been using all week in my oatmeal for breakfast. I also make apricot popsicles from them. I find it hard to find in my regular grocery store, they only seem to have the dried ones, but I can always count on TJ's to have them fresh. 

One of my most popular posts is Trader Joe's Brown Rice & Quinoa Pasta

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Hello Sunshine, Hello Summer!

I can't believe it's the end of May already, where has the year gone?! I really enjoyed this relaxing three day weekend but also want to respect the meaning of Memorial Day, not just as the start of summer. Seems that many people don't know what exactly Memorial Day means, it's a day on which those who died in active military service are remembered, not Veterans Day for those who are currently serving. So it's not really appropriate to wish a living person a Happy Memorial Day. I appreciate the sacrifice of those who lost their lives for our country and freedom. There's new book out on the women who fought in Afghanistan.

I spent the weekend soaking up the sunshine starting with Friday when I went to Jazz in the Garden with a group of friends and sipped on Sangria.


On Saturday I went to my favorite annual event - the Caribbean Wine Festival! Not only do they have the best fruity wines, there's also great music, and tons of people!


I spent Sunday afternoon outdoors picnicking while sipping wine and listening to live music as I explored Virginia wine country. I visited a couple wineries with good wine, beautiful outdoors, and one had live music. The view was gorgeous, just take in this amazing scenery from the deck!




The vineyard had peach trees planted on its farmland and made an amazing peach wine!


Monday I just needed a day to relax, so I chilled poolside with a good book and ended up with my first sunburn of the year, boo!

The long awaited annual Summer Safety Kit was released by Sephora on Friday. It's valued at $155 but retails for $32. You can buy it here before it sells out. It has some of their best selling products from Dr. Dennis Gross, Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment, Josie Maran, Murad, Ole Henriksen, Origins, Peter Thomas Roth, Shiseido, St. Tropez and more! 


My summer bucketlist is pretty much the same as last year and I'm looking forward to checking off all of those items!

Friday, May 22, 2015

Reorganizing My Kitchen and Taming Clutter




Having a clean, uncluttered kitchen counter sets the tone for me when I come home, it feels calm and refreshing like everything is in order. But for me, the kitchen counter is one of the most difficult places to keep uncluttered with paper and it’s the last place I feel like cleaning as it just stresses me out with dread. The kitchen is the first room I walk into when I get home thus I end up emptying my purse of papers and opening bills all on the counter, and there the collection stays because it’s convenient. In Marie Kondo’s book I read that one of the most essential steps in organization is that everything you bring into your home must have a proper home. I already have a spot for my keys and purse, but have been lax with paper. Since I know I’m prone to paper clutter, I've adopted a new habit of not putting anything down on my counter. Because once I put one thing down, the volume just grows Living in a small space its sometimes much easier to leave the things I use daily out instead of trying to find a place to store them. But now I won’t leave the room while there is stuff on the surfaces. I also created a small corner in my kitchen where I will keep a cup holder of pens. The idea is to create new habits to form clutter free surfaces. 

You can find my spice rack here.



 I've also discovered that one of the best ways to keep a clean kitchen is to organize your cabinets because when cabinets are not organized, I’m less inclined to put things into them. I emptied out the junk draw in my kitchen which was filled with appliance manuals. In living here 8 years I have never once had to use them so I felt ok throwing them out. I figure a repair won’t need the manual. I organized my kitchen utensil drawer which I was constantly digging through to find whatever I was looking for. I couldn't buy a drawer organizer for it because the slots were not the right size for the things I kept in here. Plus I also kept my aluminum foil/plastic wrap/ wax paper in there and that was always as hassle to rearrange everything to pull out. So I took out those 3 boxers I had of wrap to create more space in one drawer. Now I hang them up on the side of the under sink door with adhesive hooks which makes it much easier to access the boxes. Then I found that Bed, Bath and Beyond sell small plastic boxes that I mixed and matched and put 3 into my drawer to help create some order. I have a huge collection of plastic food containers that I don’t use, so I took those out of the cabinets to create space for all the odds and ends I was keeping on my counter. I’m absolutely thrilled with how much better my kitchen looks as everything is organized and easy to reach!



Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Fre Alcohol-Free Wine Review


I recently discovered the world of non alcoholic wines and  have been having fun trying them out. They contain a third of the calories from real wine as I gave up wine for 3 weeks to shed a few pounds. I find that drinking makes me hungrier and I end up consuming more calories. Alcohol free wine could also appeal to pregnant women (think baby shower mocktails) and people who need to abstain for medical reasons like a woman I know who is sickly allergic to alcohol.

Alcohol-free wine is made by extracting the alcohol through a filtering or vacuum process, while leaving the other components intact. The real question is how to do alcohol free wine stand up to their counterparts? I've tried a few flavors so far and it’s all about having the right mindset and not expecting it to be exactly the same.

Fre Wine is made by Sutter Home Wine which I purchased at my local Harris Teeter and Target (which strangely had their registers set up to ask for ID). I've only been able to find these four flavors:

Brut sparkling - I was pleasantly shocked, it does not taste like sparkling cider, it really tastes like champagne. It has an apple flavor with a dry finish. It tastes good on its own but I also mixed it with an apricot I chopped in my food processor. I think grapefruit juice or peaches would also be a nice accompaniment.

White Zinfandel - This was my favorite with it's pretty pink color and berry taste. It tastes just like a sweet zinfandel without the alcohol kick. I think adding some soda water and strawberries to it would help give it that kick.

Chardonnay - It has the same buttery oak smell, but it tastes like crisp green apple.

Red Blend - This regrettably tasted like a mix of grape juice and balsamic vinegar.


In conclusion while alcoholic free wines may not stand up to their counterparts with their red wines, but they come pretty close with their white Zinfandel and sparking wine.

For some of my other mocktail recipes check out this post and this post.



Monday, May 18, 2015

Graduation Gift Ideas

I wanted to share some cute way to gift money that I found on pinterest.





Tape all of the bills together in a long row and roll them up. Place the roll inside the empty box, leaving one end hanging out the opening.



 post signature

Friday, May 15, 2015

Travel Bucketlist

I've traveled to 72 countries but there's still so much more of the world I want to see. Here's my travel bucket list:






































Then there's travel experiences I'd like to have:


Ice Hotel Quebec
Dog Sledding
Phuket
Banff
Hot Springs
Yoga retreat in Europe
Turks and Caicos




Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Target has outdone themselves!

I know everyone was disappointed they couldn't get their hands on the Lilly Pulitzer collection (which I personally wasn't a fan of) but Target has lots of great jewels in stock.  I'm really impressed by how they are copying expensive designer looks! I got the flutter top dress which is absolutely gorgeous in person! The hardest part was deciding on what color to get it in, I went with pink. The black roper has been on my wishlist since last summer. The sheer crochet pants was another must have for me! Target has some nice work dresses as well!


Monday, May 4, 2015

Spring Highlights

One of the traits of happy people is keeping a gratitude journal so I wanted to jot down all of my highlights from the past couple months.

I attended Fashion for Paws which is a fundraising event for the Humane Society where they have a doggie runway show. I finally got to try the trend of crop tops with this outfit.


Now that the weather is warming up I’m getting back in the groove of filling my calendar with fitness classes! In March I completed the Pure Barre challenge of 20 classes in 30 days and it was tough! It's a ballet inspired work out that uses light weights. Last fall I did a month of The Bar Method so I wanted to see how they compare.


In April I took 10 yoga classes. This month I signed up for SolidCore (which is done on a machine similar to the Pilates reformer) and Flywheel (which is similar to SoulCycle).

I took two paint classes, here are my master pieces:


I enjoyed the Cherry Blossoms in the short time they were here and ran in the Cherry Blossom race.

I saw the musical Memphis which was fantastic! It's loosely based on Memphis disc jockey Dewey Phillips, one of the first white DJs to play black music in the 1950s.

 

I got addicted to the TV show Secrets and Lies, which made my Sunday evenings fun.

I read a lot of great books this spring, check out my spring reading list3 must read memoirs, and audible review.

I got the iphone6 and am still trying to get used to where the buttons are. lol

Tomorrow I'm doing a Cinco de Mayo Zumba class. I'm looking forward to going to a comedy show this weekend!


Friday, May 1, 2015

I Think I Could Start a Rainboot Collection!


April showers bring may flowers right? Here are some must have rain boots for this season! My motto is just because it's raining doesn't mean you can't be stylish, check out my rain look.

Rainboots






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