September 25, 2009

Jewelry by Tara

Pin It Now! Fellow blogger The Plumber's Wife is offering a fabulous giveaway! Check out her page for a chance to win a $25 gift certificate!

 Good Luck!!

Some Weird Crab Giveaway

Pin It Now! Another great giveaway from The Plumber's Wife!  This time she's offering the Tulip Tote from Some Weird Crab.  Isn't it adorable?


September 24, 2009

Etsy Finds Thursday!

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A few of my favorite Etsy sellers this week...

Etsy seller tzaddishop has amazing jewelry all at a great price.  
Time to stock up on holiday gifts early! 

Aren't these adorable?  Perfect for fall and made of 100% cotton yard.  I love them!!
Check out Etsy seller MonikaDesign

Isn't this a great dress for fall??  I love the hood on this tulip-style dress.  
Check out Etsy seller CASTCOUTURE

September 21, 2009

Add my Button!

Pin It Now! You like me, you really like me!  And if you really do, you can add my button to your page or blog.  Just copy the HTML code and paste into a new Gadget into your sidebar (if you are using Blogger).

Isn't she just so cute?!  


September 20, 2009

Shop It To Me!

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Do you love to shop? Do you have champagne tastes on a tap water budget? I know the feeling. Shop It To Me is a great site that will email you when your favorite store, brand or particular item goes on sale. You will never miss a great sale or discount again! And really, what's better than a discount?

I always say shopping is cheaper than a psychiatrist.
~Tammy Faye Bakker

Rachael Ray Nutrish - Free Sample!

Pin It Now! If you go to Rachael Ray's Nutrish website, you can choose to get a free sample of a $3.50 off coupon.

September 16, 2009

Healthy Low-Fat Carrot Cake

Pin It Now! Who doesn't love carrot cake, seriously? With the thick cream cheese frosting and little bits of carrots and walnuts, carrot cake is a yummy end to the day. But there's a way to make it that's much healthier and about half the calories of regular carrot cake. Yes!


For the cake ~
1 orange
1 lemon
2 1/2 cup carrots, finely grated
3/4 golden raisins
1 cup ground almonds
1/4 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
3 large eggs
1 1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 cup self-rising flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

For the icing ~
3 cups confectioner's or powdered sugar
1/4 cup cream cheese
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
finely grated zest of 1/2 lemon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line bottom of 8" square pan with parchment paper. Lightly brush a little vegetable oil over the base and sides.

Grate the zest of the orange and set aside. Squeeze the orange juice into a bowl and add the golden raisins. Set bowl aside.

Using a mixer, whisk the eggs and sugar with the lemon zest for five minutes until pale and airy. Add grated carrot and beat to incorporate into mixture.

Slowly add in spices, salt, ground almonds, baking soda and flour, then quickly mix until all the ingredients are combined.

Using a spatula, mix in raisins and walnuts, along with any orange juice left in the bowl, until they are evenly distributed.

Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake and comes out clean.

Cool in pan for 15 minutes, then remove from pan. Chill in refrigerator for one hour.

To make the icing:

In a large bowl, beat the first cup of sugar with the cream cheese, using a wooden spoon. Once you reach a paste, add the remaining sugar along with the lemon juice and zest. Beat vigorously to combine. Refrigerate at least a half hour. Ice all over the top of the cake, slice into 9 portions and serve.

Life is uncertain. Eat dessert first.
~Ernestine Ulmer

September 12, 2009

Canning Dill Pickles

Pin It Now! I love buying produce locally, and we live in a great neighborhood surrounded by beautiful family farms that sell their produce. The farm across the street from our house has great pickling cucumbers and the best smelling, freshest dill. He literally pulled the stalk out of the ground when I purchased it. That's what I call fresh! From the 3 pounds of cucumbers I bought I was able to can 7 small and 1 large jar of pickles. Now the hard part is waiting 8 weeks before we can eat them!

Here is my homemade pickle recipe. If you are new to canning or want something simple to start with, dill pickles are the way to go. They are pretty much fool-proof, and fairly easy for beginners.

(I actually cut this down because I had fewer cucumbers, but it came out just the same.)

Tools Needed:
Large Canning Pot with lid and jar rack

Quart-size Canning Jars - I find canning jars on Craigslist, and at estate and garage sales for pennies. Goodwill usually has a great selection, too.

Canning Funnel

8 lbs. pickling cucumbers
8 sprigs fresh dill
8 heads fresh dill weed
16 cloves of garlic, peeled and halved
12 cups water
4 cups white vinegar
2/3 cup pickling salt*

*Other types of salt don't work the same - you can find Morton's pickling salt with the other salts in your grocery store

Wash all cucumbers well and place in the sink with cold water and lots of ice cubes. If you want to create spear pickles, place cut cucumbers in cold water. Soak for at least 2 hours, but no longer than 8 hours. Refresh ice as required.

Sterilize 8 1 quart canning jars and lids in boiling water for at least 10 minutes. You can also put them in the dishwasher on the "sterilize" setting.

In a large pot over medium-high heat combine the vinegar, water, and pickling salt. This is what is referred to as the "brine". Bring to a rapid boil.

In each sterilized jar place 2 half-cloves of garlic, one head of dill, then enough cucumbers to fill jar. About 1 lb. Add 2 more garlic halves and 1 sprig of dill. Fill jars with hot brine. Seal jars. Be sure to clean jars' rim of any residue.

Process sealed jars in a boiling water bath. Process quart jars for 15 minutes. If you are using smaller jars, process for 10 minutes. Jars lids should be flat, and the center "button" should not be able to be pushed down. If jars don't seal properly, refrigerate and eat within 2 weeks.

Store sealed pickles for a minimum of 8 weeks before opening. Refrigerate after opening. Sealed pickles will keep for up to 2 years in a cool, dry place.

September 8, 2009

...back on the wagon!

Pin It Now! So I've been slacking, big time! I've gone without exercising for a couple weeks now. We had some guests in from out-of-town and ate out ALOT, and also went to Texas where everything is smothered and covered and fried with grease and oil.

So, it's time to get my butt back into gear and GET INTO SHAPE! Finally. And I think I'm doing pretty well. I'm staying at my Basal Metabolic Caloric intake level each day - which really isn't that hard I've found out. I'm trying to cut out as many empty calories and carbs out of my diet as possible. I actually ate a sandwich, minus the bread today for lunch. Boy, how do I miss my bread, but I miss my little figure even more, so I think I'll be ok!

Husband and I have also been fast-walking/jogging (he jogs, I try to keep up!) every day at our local high school track. Plus, I enrolled in a weight lifting course at my school that I'll be starting out in 2 weeks. I get a lot of recipes from a great website called They are easy, yummy, and healthy! As we go along I hope to post some of my own low-fat recipes that I've created to share with you. Here's to losing some bootie!!

The cardiologist's diet: If it tastes good, spit it out.
~Author Unknown

September 7, 2009

Homemade Bath Balls

Pin It Now! I love anything for the bath. I have several bottles of different bath oils, bubbles, salts, and of course tons of bath balls. But these little buggers are expensive! I decided to try to make my own and they turned out great, and were super easy to make. They are also very inexpensive to create!!

4 cups Epsom salt
4 tbsp. water
2 to 4 drops food coloring
few drops essential oil

Plus a round bath bomb mold, or something round to mold the bath balls in (I used silicone ramekins)

Pour the Epsom salt in a bowl. Add water and mix well. While continue to mix, add food coloring one drop at a time until you achieve the color you desire - about 2 to 4 drops should be enough. Add essential oil until you are happy with the scent.

Spoon mixture into one side of the mold and pack firmly. Pack the other side of the mold, and press together. Remove the top of the mold. Let sit 2 - 3 days to dry completely.

Transfer into jars or cellophane bags to create an adorable gift for friends and family.

I made mine with purple food coloring and lavender oil. They look like a perfect little gift wrapped in these cellophane treat bags tied with ribbon.

September 5, 2009

Jar Lid Labels

Pin It Now! I love storing all of my pastas, beans and baking supplies in Ball jars. It looks much less cluttered than the boxes and bags they come in. However, my husband is always complaining that he can't tell the difference between the rye flour and whole wheat flour. I found these neat jar lid templates on Martha Stewart's website that you can print on cardstock and cut out, and they fit perfectly on wide-mouth jars.

They are designed to be labels for her body scrub recipes, but I thought they would be adorable in my kitchen. I printed an extra sheet, too, to keep on hand for any new ingredients I buy.

September 4, 2009

Homemade EASY Low-Fat Cheesecake

Pin It Now! Low-fat cheesecake that's easy to make? Yes, it's true! I did just say low-fat and cheesecake in the same sentence. I made this today to take to a dinner party and it turned out great and delicious. Enjoy!

(The original recipe makes 16 servings, but you can easily half it, just use an 8x8 pan instead)

4 packages (8 ounces each) light cream cheese, softened
1 container (16 ounces) light sour cream
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 1/8 cup white sugar
2 tbsp. brown sugar
2 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line 13" x 9" pan with parchment paper (or foil) with ends extending over sides of pan to create "handles." Mix graham cracker crumbs, melted butter and 2 tbsp. brown sugar. Press onto bottom of pan.

Beat cream cheese, 1 cup white sugar and 1 tsp vanilla in large bowl with mixer. Blend well. Add 1 cup sour cream, mix well. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating on low speed until completely blended. Pour over crust.

Bake for 40 minutes, until center is almost set. Mix remaining sour cream, white sugar and vanilla. Carefully spread mixture over cheesecake. Bake an additional 10 minutes. Cool completely, then refrigerate at least 4 hours. Use the handles to lift cheesecake from pan just before serving.

I topped my cheesecake with canned pie cherries (my absolute favorite thing!) but you can also use fresh berries, or just enjoy it plain.


Inside some of us is a thin person struggling to get out,
but they can usually be sedated with a few pieces of cake.
~Author Unknown