Thursday, February 12, 2015

Love Affair With a $5 Shelf

Back in December, during the holiday shopping season, I decided to stop into a local thrift shop to see if there were any hidden treasures there that could make good stocking stuffers for my kids (ornaments, books, handmade pottery, scarves, etc.)

While perusing the vast assortment of less than stellar items that day, my eyes suddenly fixed upon something tucked to the back on the lowest shelf.
It was a small wall shelf, perfect for holding little treasures I already had at home.
Thought it was covered in a layer of dust, I was immediately smitten.

I did not hesitate for a moment before carting it up to the checkout line and handing the woman $4.99 plus tax to take it home.

I wrapped it, added a bow, and proudly told my husband, 
"You bought me a $5 shelf for Christmas!"
To which he replied, 
"Great! Hope you like it!"

I most certainly do.

Yes, there is a throw pillow continuity error in my photos of which I am acutely aware.

À la vie et à l'amour

Monday, February 9, 2015

Easy Homemade Bread

There's something so comforting about the scent of fresh baked bread right out of the oven.  
I'm not really one for putting a lot of effort into baking as I like it to be fast so I can get to the eating part as soon as possible.

That's why I like Beer Bread.
The beer in it acts as the yeast and helps it rise and be all doughy and delicious.  
My recipe has only 3 ingredients and mixes together in about 5 minutes or less so you can be buttering your freshly baked bread in about an hour.

Beer Bread Recipe:
3 cups SELF RISING flour
1/4 cup sugar
12 oz bottle of beer

Mix ingredients and place into loaf pan.  Bake 50-55 minutes until golden brown on top.

I like to top my buttered bread with a little honey, too.
Makes it go down smoother!

À la vie et à l'amour

Friday, February 6, 2015

Rock the Lunchbox Day 4

Welcome to the final installment of Rock the Lunchbox week!

I'm so thankful to Influenster for inviting me to participate in this campaign and providing products from these great companies!
We've had a great time trying some new products that me might have otherwise not considered.

As the end of the week drew near, it was evident that many of the Annie's snacks I purchased were being consumed outside of lunch time.

Mainly the Annie's Snack Mix and Cheddar Squares which were evidenced by the empty bags I found in my son's room and the Animal Cookies which were consumed mostly by myself.

But I did manage to get a bit of the Snack Mix into one final lunch along with a few Animal Cookies.
I also used some leftover rotisserie chicken to make a tortilla wrap complete with buffalo sauce (yes, it's my son's go to condiment), as well as a banana and an Honest Kids fruit punch.

I also got some feedback from my daughter at college who received the White Cheddar Bunnies in a care package I sent to her.
She said she really liked them and that they are much better than the fish shaped crackers she normally buys.

Click here for more great Rock the Lunchbox ideas!

Please note: While I did receive these items for free, all opinions regarding them are my own.  
Those opinions are based solely on highly non-scientific research conducting by various members of my food-eating family.

À la vie et à l'amour

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Rock the Lunchbox Day 3 (GAME DAY!)

Welcome to today's installment of Rock the Lunchbox!
It's also Blurry Photo Day.

All I can say is that the photos pretty much sum up how things actually look for me most mornings - just a complete blur.
BUT! It's GAME DAY for my basketball playing boy which means he needs a lunch packed with good stuff.

It's pre-prackaged with Applegate Natural Turkey (juicy, antibiotic-free), classic Applegate American cheese, Annie’s Buttery Rich Crackers™, Annie’s Organic Berry Patch Fruit Snacks™ and Stonyfield® YoKids® Squeezers® Strawberry Organic Lowfat Yogurt.

I really like that their meats are antibiotic-free because no one wants their kid to end up with man-boobs from eating hormone and antibiotic filled poultry. 

As you can see I did also pack an Honest Kids fruit punch as well as a chicken patty sandwich with a side of buffalo sauce and a Cuties orange because the Half Time pack isn't quite filling enough for a 13 year old boy who has basketball practice in the morning and a game after school.

The Half Time pack was his FAVORITE lunch this week!
It was probably my favorite, too, as it took very little thought at 6:30am to make it the main part of his lunch.

Yes, even my game photo is super blurry which I'm going to pretend is because my son was super fast due to his excellent lunch and just moved like a blur across the gym floor as a result.

Today I also tried the Rudi's Gluten Free Bread.
My son actually detests gluten free bread so he was not going to make a good test subject for this item but the rest of us are rather fond of it.

The main reason I like a gluten free bread is that I've discovered that gluten makes me feel like an old lady when I eat it.
My joints hurt and my stomach hurts and I just have this un-well feeling all day after eating gluten.

So, my husband and I decided we would give the bread a try!

Yes, I did make myself a PB & J because I love PB & J sandwiches!
The bread has a great flavor but I will say it's a bit more dry than gluten filled bread.
My husband remedies this by toasting his first.

Also - at over $4 a loaf, Rudi's gluten free bread is not cheap.
It's probably the only item that I wouldn't necessarily buy again because the price to taste ratio for this particular Rudi's product was not justifiable for our family.

That being said, I would definitely give their gluten free Cinnamon Raisin bread or their gluten free Rosemary Olive Oil Ciabatta Rolls a try!
If you want to try them, you can find a coupon for $1.25 off right here.

Check back tomorrow for Day 4 of Rock the Lunchbox week!

In the meantime, click here for more great Rock the Lunchbox ideas!

Please note: While I did receive these items for free, all opinions regarding them are my own.  
Those opinions are based solely on highly non-scientific research conducting by various members of my food-eating family.

À la vie et à l'amour

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Rock the Lunchbox Day 2

What 13 year old boy doesn't love pizza rolls?

Mine is no exception so I knew right away I would be using my voucher for an Annie's frozen food item on these guys right here.

It took only a few minutes in the oven to heat them so they were prepared quickly before school and packed along with an Honest Kids fruit punch, some broccoli & carrots, ranch dip, Annie's Cheddar Squares and Annie's Bunny Friends (which have started disappearing quickly so I suspect they are being eaten as after school snacks as well!)

Annie's Pizza Rolls got a big thumbs up from my son who said they tasted much better than some of the other brands we have tried.
He also mentioned they had a little bit of spicy kick to them which is always a plus in his book.

The only drawback is that 1 box contains about 11 rolls which is only enough for 1 lunch for him.
(As I mentioned earlier this week, he eats ALL the food!)
At $3 per box (on sale) it would be a pretty expensive to add them in as a regular weekly item.

Check back tomorrow for Day 3 of Rock the Lunchbox week!

In the meantime, click here for more great Rock the Lunchbox ideas!

Please note: While I did receive these items for free, all opinions regarding them are my own.  
Those opinions are based solely on highly non-scientific research conducting by various members of my food-eating family.

À la vie et à l'amour

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Rock the Lunchbox Day 1

Most mornings I wake up in a complete stupor until I've had at least 2 cups of coffee.

It was actually really great to wake up this morning knowing I had a great supply of healthy lunch options for my son that also made it super easy to throw a healthy lunch together pre-coffee.

As I mentioned yesterday, he isn't fond of traditional lunchmeat sandwiches or PB & J but he really has a thing for Chicken Patty sandwiches.

Today's lunch was a chicken patty on a bun with some buffalo sauce, carrots and ranch dip, Annie's snack mix, a Cuties orange, Annie's Friends Bunny Grahams, and an Honest Kids fruit punch juice pouch.

Yes, it sounds like a lot of food but he's a 13 year old boy so it's not actually possible to pack too much for him.

Every last bit of lunch was consumed with one exception...
the Cuties orange.

Which brings me to why I absolutely LOVE LOVE LOVE the
Honest Kids drink pouches.

My son will guzzle those things like a college frat boy at a keg party!
It's made from all organic fruit juice with no added sugar so I can actually get a bit of fruit into him without complaint.
He said he really likes the Fruit Punch flavor but would love to try the Lemonade next.

Also in this particular lunch were some Annie's snack mix and some Annie's Bunny Grahams.
Both received the '13 year old boy stamp of approval'!

Check back tomorrow for Day 2 of Rock the Lunchbox week!

In the meantime, click here for more great Rock the Lunchbox ideas!

Please note: While I did receive these items for free, all opinions regarding them are my own.  
Those opinions are based solely on highly non-scientific research conducting by various members of my food-eating family.

À la vie et à l'amour

Monday, February 2, 2015

Rock the Lunchbox

I vividly remember taking my lunch to school almost daily from 1st grade through my senior year of high school.

First day of first grade.  Peanuts lunchbox.  Serious business.

It's odd because I don't recall any sort of dislike of the school prepared lunches and I would often buy my lunch on particular days of the week (namely, Wednesdays which were Hamburger Day and Fridays which were Pizza Day.

First day of my senior year.  Different lunchbox.  Tan legs, white face.  Wtf?

I do, however, remember various times that I would peel the ham from betwixt my mustard coated slices of bread, blow the tiny bits of cheese out of the ham & cheese loaf, and carefully place the emptied out ham remnant back between the slices of bread before eating it.
Fortunately there was often a tiny box of raisins for dessert to balance out my gourmet lunch.

It's still baffling that I didn't turn out to be a stripper or something as a result of those lunches.

Anyway, my kids have never been particularly fond of school prepared lunches so the task of preparing nutritious mid-day meals during the school year has fallen onto my shoulders.

This task is not without obstacles...

First, I have a teenage son.
He eats very much food.
Like, ALL the food.

Second, he doesn't like PB&J sandwiches.

Or lunchmeat sandwiches.

He's basically a princess.

Anyway, I was super mega thrilled beyond all normal levels of excitement when Influenster invited me to take part in the Rock the Lunchbox campaign!

They sent me these vouchers for items from various companies who offer healthy, organic drinks and snacks that are great for packing school lunches that go beyond the 'ol PB&J or ham loaf and raisin boxes.

I used all of my vouchers at the same time at Target which happened to be running great sales on all of the items, including a really great 'buy 4 get one free' sale on their Annie's Organic snacks.

Obviously I took full advantage of that since it meant I'd end up with 5 packages of snacks for the price of 3!
We kept everything but the White Cheddar Bunnies which went into a care package that was shipped off to my oldest daughter at college!

Starting tomorrow and continuing through the rest of this week, I'll show you how we used these great items to Rock the Lunchbox and let you know what we thought about everything.

In the meantime, you can click here for more great Rock the Lunchbox ideas!

Please note: While I did receive these items for free, all opinions regarding them are my own.  
Those opinions are based solely on highly non-scientific research conducting by various members of my food-eating family.

À la vie et à l'amour

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Jam of the Month: Always Alright

There are just some songs your ears thank you for listening to every time you put the needle on that certain groove in the vinyl.

This is one of those songs.
It's blues rock at its finest from the Alabama based band, appropriately named, the Alabama Shakes.


The song is titled Always Alright and you can watch their SNL performance of said song right here.

You can keep Beyonce and I'll take lead singer Brittany Howard as my favorite powerhouse female wailer.

Check out the Alabama Shakes website for more awesomeness.

À la vie et à l'amour

Friday, January 30, 2015

Photo Album

During a recent mental vacation/Pinterest perusal, I happened upon the above photo by photographer Jaime Beechum.

I am terribly in love with the intimacy and comfort of her photography along with the lack of pretense.
Nothing feels contrived or overly polished.
It just feels real.

Like I'm looking at my best friend's photo album of a road trip I was invited on but was unable to attend.

Her perfectly captured photographs give me a sense of belonging and balance.
I could look at them for hours.

If you would like to look at them for hours, too, you can visit her website.

À la vie et à l'amour

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

(Leftover) Jam of the Month: Astral Weeks

Yes, I completely failed on your Jam of the Month shipment in January.
But I assure you there has been much jamming going on in these parts.

When it comes to music, my tastes and preferences change like the tides, depending on the season, my mood, and an assortment of other factors.

Currently I've been feeling a very mellow vibe.
So, today's leftover jam is from Van Morrison.

The song is Astral Weeks from the album Astral Weeks.

In usual Van Morrison style, it's growly and mumbly and I can't tell what the hell he's saying most of the time, but it's happy and wonderful and jammie nonetheless.

So, slap this onto a piece of bread and sink your teeth in!

Jam on, my mumbly hippie friends!

À la vie et à l'amour

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Important Things

Last Sunday was a glorious day.

I had no real plans and the weather was sunny and unseasonably warm for January.

After finishing the perusal of my stack of decorating books checked out from my local library and loading myself with plenty of coffee, I decided to throw on jeans, a t-shirt and my rain boots and work in my backyard.

Dear Local Library: I love you. That is all.

I spent hours back there with my 3 trusted assistants scooping dog poop, raking leaves, lifting stepping stones, and trimming an overgrown grapevine.

My assistants

Eventually my husband came out to admire my work and to retrieve one of the dogs and banish him to the crate indoors, as his obnoxious barking at the neighbor's roof repairs next door were simply too much to endure.

My husband laid a towel out next to the pool for the 2 smaller dogs to lay on and sunbathe and I sat down next to them and my husband, passing him a beer and popping the cap on my own.

We sat for almost an hour talking about his running, my brilliant idea of wearing rainboots to do yardwork, our kids, the dogs, and all sorts of important topics like that.

Thrifted $5 rain boots

It was ideal and I would give anything to replicate it every weekend.

Except for the poop scooping.

À la vie et à l'amour

Friday, January 23, 2015

Pressing Matters

At my own bequest when asked what sort of 'together' gift my husband and I might like for the holidays, a French Press was at the tippy top of the list and has, at long last, made it's way into my home and, most assuredly, my heart.

It's easy as pie to use so I have been partaking of it's offerings every day, and, more often than not, multiple times a day.
My husband has remarked that a coffee intervention may be needed.

I would elaborate more but I just heard my teakettle finish boiling water and there are some 'pressing' matters which need attending.

À la vie et à l'amour

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Strings and Things


There are 3 guitars currently residing in our house and not a single human within these walls who can play anything outside the first few notes of Smoke On the Water.

So far.

Obviously a live studio audience indicates growing popularity so I should probably begin making plans to arrange my decor around a collection of guitars.

Something along these lines will do nicely.


via the Instagram account of A Beautiful Mess


Don't worry - the thought of potential future fame and riches has not changed him one bit.


À la vie et à l'amour

Friday, January 16, 2015

Memory Jar

Though many are tempted by post-holiday clearance sales, I have found that they are of little appeal to me.
I did, however, open my pocketbook as well as my mouth for this item that was half off at Sam's shortly after Christmas:

Originally priced at $20 and cut by half to a mere $9.98, and filled to the brim with assorted chocolates I quickly added it my bounty of groceries that day.

Though the chocolates themselves were nothing to write home about, they steadily disappeared over the course of the past few weeks when all three of my chocolate loving children were home for winter break.
We are now left with only a handful of chocolates and a mostly empty jar.

At the urging of my middle child, I have decided to use the empty vessel as a 'Memory Jar' for this year.
My plan is to fill it with bits and pieces throughout the year, then peruse the contents next New Year's Eve with my tribe and relive some of those tiny moments.

The first item going in is a ticket stub from my son's basketball game last week.
A win for our team and an evening when it became clear that my son, who currently stands at 5 feet 8 inches tall (for now), is no longer a little boy, but well on his way to being a young man.

And, as I sat next to my oldest daughter, who was still home from college for the holidays and had the good fortune of attending her brother's 7th grade basketball game, I realized that not so long ago, each of my three children were no bigger than that memory jar itself.

Don't be surprised if you see me walking around with my jar this year, cradled like a tiny baby in my arms.

À la vie et à l'amour

Monday, January 12, 2015

Jumping In


Even as a child, I've always been one to ease into the water, never understanding how others could bravely leap into that unknown expanse of liquid, not knowing whether they would be bathed in warmth and comfort, or if chilly temperatures would stab at their skin and chill them to the bone. 

To this day, I'm still an 'ease-r in-er', plunging a toe, and then a foot to gauge the initial surprise, then often sitting on the top step of our swimming pool for an hour before slowly settling myself onto the next step as my body adjusts to the change slowly, even when others deem it "like bathwater."
(Which tells me that they have no idea how hot I actually like my bathwater because if my skin isn't pink and steamy like a fresh out of the pot boiled lobster when I finally emerge, it was not nearly hot enough for my preferences!)

This morning I return to blogging with no proclamations of resolutions or empty promises of blog plans.
I am, quite simply, jumping in to this year with a renewed energy for accomplishing goals that have, so far, continued to be out of reach despite my best efforts.

Which makes me wonder if maybe I should have brought a flotation device?

À la vie et à l'amour