> hey what's for dinner mom?


Every Drop Water Filter Review and Giveaway

I live in the country and have gorgeous clean water to drink whenever I need it, so why in the world would I agree to review and giveaway a water filter? I'm constantly drinking water wherever I go and sometimes city water is hard to choke down. Blech. But with the Every Drop Water Filter from Whirlpool that's travel sized I can have fresh, clean tasting water anytime I want, near or far from our sweet water well. That's really important to me because as you may or may not know I've been on a year long journey to getting fit and one of the best ways for me to stay on track is getting in lots of fresh water every day, the Every Drop Water Filter keeps me very well hydrated. 

It's so perfectly sized, it fit's in my purse or I can leave it in the console of my truck or pop in my carry on bag, and it comes with it's own carrying pod so it's always clean and ready to filter. I've used it restaurants too and I always get asked a lot of questions about it and everyone seems impressed by it. I'm impressed by it. One thing I really liked about it is that it fits a lot of different size bottles, glasses and even pitchers because it's funnel shaped so the tip is small and it gets bigger in the middle, to fit many different sized receptacles. NICE!

It's quick too, filtering a gallon in about 2 minutes means my water bottle will be refilled and ready to roll in the time it takes to count to 10. No more plastic bottles bought because I'm parched and no more highly chlorinated city water when I'm out and about either, this little filter gets the job done. If I fill a pitcher using the filter I simply turn my tap on half speed and it filters at the right speed, no over flow, no lag time, it's all real time.

The Every Drop Water Filter lasts for two months if you filter about a gallon a day. So really it will last for 60 gallons, if you're filtering a lot of water you'll go through the filters faster, just an FYI. You can find the filter replacement cartridges online and that's awesome because Alaska can seem so far removed from life in the lower 48. Ease of replacement means I can keep using it without worrying I'll never find another filter replacement! 

Now the fun part, I'm giving one away! Who needs better fresher drinking water? Who needs the ability to drink water happily when they're traveling? Who wants one?

  a Rafflecopter giveaway  

Disclosure: I was sent the Every Drop Water Filter by Whirlpool to review. Of course the thoughts are all mine, the words are mine and the only compensation I received was a water filter and hydration.  

Pin It!

366 days of getting fit

It occurred to me yesterday as I was mowing the lawn, a wet and overgrown lawn, that it was so much easier to mow the lawn this fall, than it was last fall. I started adding up months when I realized that it was almost exactly one year since I started this most current journey towards getting fit. But more than getting physically fit, this past year has been about finding peace within myself, love for my body and having a positive impact on the world around me.
So before we get to physical results part of this year of discovery, lets look at the mental well being of the interested party. That'd be me. I've spent a lot of my life wishing things were different, hating myself and my body, waiting for the next great thing that was going to come along instead of finding peace and happiness in the moment. Do know what I figured out? That the only joy and love you have is right now, so enjoy it, what you had in the past is gone and it's memory remains and everything to come is still not here yet. So I've learned that what I have now, is what I have to enjoy, whether it's my body, my kids, the weather or anything else. And I've also learned that looking fondly back at things that seemed so hard is one of the joys of growing up. Man tearing out your kitchen and living out of crockpot for five months sucked but it was also wonderful because we learned to live with less, we happily ate the same several meals weekly for months, sometimes in our beautiful new living room or sometimes cozied up against the bathroom door in our mudroom. Those moments woven together make up the best of your life except you just don't realize it at the time. So the highs and lows even out in the sweet memories of life, which means what? Don't sweat the small stuff, do the best you can and keep doing it everyday, even if the best you can do is not a shining beacon of hope or a bright moment in parenting. 
So on to the physical changes. Well one year ago I was sluggish, I was tired all the time, I was depressed, I was blah, I wasn't even sleeping well at night. So I made an appointment to go get checked out at the doctors office. I started trying to cut calories before I went, just to you know, get my weight down a little or lose 100 pounds in the 2 weeks until my appointment. I also doggedly continued with our house remodel because when you're the adults in this situation you  just keep going until the project is done. Oh how I wanted to quit and hire out the rest of the work, but no that wasn't in the budget. Anyway by the time my appointment rolled around I'd lost a few pounds but I still felt blah. So I went and listened to what the wise doctor had to say, she told me I needed to do 5 things to lose weight which I wrote about in the True Secret to Losing Weight. I started writing down what I was eating, moving 4 times a week, drinking water and  and the weight started to come off, the more I did those things the more I built the determination to keep going.
And here it is a year later. I've just finished my workout for the day, a one and half mile run, followed up with 20 minutes of weight training and I feel great. No, I feel better than great, I FEEL SO ALIVE and awesome and energized and happy and well before I make anyone annoyed I'll just stop there. EVERYTHING IS AWESOME, sorry Lego movie shout out, I loved that song so much I bought it! 
Let's do the numbers. Physically I've changed this is me(one the left-Rachel I used your photo!!) July 2013
this is me September 2014. 
WOW so much different, eh? I've lost just a smidgen over 60 pounds in a year. My measurements have changed a lot too. I lost an inch off my neck, 1 1/2 inches off my upper arms, 8 inches off my waist, 7 inches off my lower belly, 9 inches off my hips, 3 inches off my thighs, 1 1/2 inches off my calves. 
I've gone from a solid 2x-3x in tops to a normal, not even women's size, l/xl. My pants size has dropped from a 20/22 to a 16 in all jeans and in the work out/yoga pants division I now wear just an xl. My blood pressure has dropped from highs around 135/90 145/90 to very normal 120/60, BOOM BABY! My family has a history of high blood pressure so having this under control for me is a very big deal. 
It's safe to say that after a year of sticking with it, it has paid off. Not only in the weight division but almost more importantly in the overall health division. I'm happier, healthier, determined, and loving myself and consequently I'm a better person and parent and partner. I can 4 miles, ski for 2 hours, ride 20 miles on my bike, mow a lawn for 2 hours straight, bust sod for 6 hours and hike up things I never thought I'd get up(both mentally and physically). The changes that 366 days have brought to my life can't be counted, they're too numerous to even try and some may not even be tangible for years to come. I can't wait to see what the next 366 days have in store for me but I'm willing wait for them and to enjoy the day ahead of me, the week that's just around the corner and revel in the week I just had.

And because I'm feeling happy and healthy I'm going to share the gift of clean water with one lucky reader, just pop on over to the Every Drop Water Filter Review and Giveaway and enter to win!
Pin It!


Quick Dinner Solution-Tuna Fish Cakes

Last week amid the thrill of a birthday for one boy and an overnight camping trip to the mountains for another I completely forgot dinner. I did round up rain pants, make brownies, make lasagna, prep for a kids party, clean the house (sort of) and assorted other fun things but dinner completely slipped my mind on the night of the camping trip. I guess I figured they'd all be eating happily around the campfire and those of staying home might slip out for a mom and kid dinner alone. Unfortunately it turned out I DID need to make dinner for the campers and the child I thought I'd slip away with wanted to stay home and build legos. FOILED. 

Thankfully a stocked pantry saved the day and some serious money, the prices for dining out just keep going up and up, wow. I don't have a microwave, by choice, so I was limited in the meat division to what was in the pantry or the fridge, so it was tuna or clams. I also wanted something hearty, filling and hot because the campers were going to be camping in the rain. Let me just interject with this public service announcement: I've never been so glad that I picked staying home rather than camping, it snowed in the night, not on them but in the mountains. 

What to make what to make, no time for tuna noodle casserole, tuna fish sandwiches brrrrr, tuna melts! Ugh no bread! Well tuna fish patties? Like salmon patties only tuna? A quick google search led me to the recipe from Kraft foods and with a quick pantry check I was good to go. I didn't have the Stove Top stuffing it called for but I had a box of Mrs. Cubbisons so I subbed that in for the Stove Top. The patties went together in 5 minutes, chilled for 10 and broiled for about 10 and we were in business.

Tuna Fish Cakes

2 cans of tuna fish drained-water or oil packed
6 ounces of dried bread-this can be a stuffing mix, your own dried bread pieces or even croutons
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
3/4 cup water-I used half pickle juice here for added flavor
1 carrot, shredded
1/3 cup of mayo
2 dill pickles, minced or run through a food processor
1 TBSP cooking oil or cooking spray like Pam

mix all the ingredients except the oil thoroughly 
chill for 10 minutes
turn the oven on to broil
use some of the oil to grease a baking sheet or spray with cooking spray
use a 1/3 of cup measuring cup to scoop the fish and form cakes on the greased baking sheet
lightly brush the top of each cake with oil, or spray with cooking spray 
broil 3-4 inches away from the element for about 10 minutes, if they appear to be getting too brown lower the rack and continue cooking until heated through
once they are nicely browned and heated through they are done
serve with cocktail sauce, tartar sauce or just fresh lemon wedges

Pin It!


Super Fudgy Cocoa Brownies

I went looking for a super luscious, ultimate Fudgy Brownie, no cake brownie would do, it must be fudgy or it must go home. I found it! When you hardly ever make sweet treats anymore and a birthday happens along, you know you only get one shot and it best be amazing. Or else.
Whew, luckily this recipe from Inspired Taste worked out perfectly for me. I made it the first time for my birthday way back in May and they were tasty, although a tad bittersweet. So I made them again and cut the baking cocoa down a bit and they were perfectly perfect. Not too sweet, nor too bitter and actually easy to make too. I baked them in a tart pan with a removable bottom so they would look pretty on a cake plate with candles, the batter was thick enough it didn't ooze out the bottom of the pan. 
Fudgy Cocoa Brownies
oven 325˚
10 TBSP butter
1 1/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup + 2 TBSP cocoa powder{I left out the 2 TBSP}
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
1/2 cup of flour
pre-heat the oven to 325˚
line an 8x8 inch square pan with foil or parchment paper or butter it well, set aside
heat a pan of water over medium heat, place a heatproof bowl over it, pyrex works well here
make sure the bowl doesn't touch the water
place the butter in the bowl and let it melt
once it melts add the sugar and the cocoa, mix them in well
remove the bowl from the heat, let it cool until it's just warm 
then stir the salt and vanilla
add the eggs one at a time and mixing each one in well
when the batter is nice and shiny add the flour and stir until just mixed in
the stir it an additional 40-50 strokes
scrape it into your prepared pan 
bake in a 325˚ oven for 20-25 minutes
begin checking for doneness at 20 minutes
use a toothpick but remember you're not looking for a perfectly clean toothpick, fudgy moist brownies will have a fudgy moist toothpick too but it won't be batter covered, it will be moist,
don't over bake them
If you're planning to bake in a tart pan please not that they run bigger than an 8x8 square pan and the baking time was right at 20 minutes. And also if using a tart pan you'll want to butter it well. 
Pin It!


We Tried--New Lunch Box Favorite NorPro Ice Pop Maker

Or as my kids call it the Gogurt Maker! Feel free to add in the unspoken words, "the gogurts that mom will let us have" because you know that's what they're thinking. We LOVE these little gadgets by Norpro (not an affiliate link) because they make cheap squeezable yogurt, they're refillable/recyclable, and we completely control the ingredients but best of all they make lunches fun. And fun lunches means my kids are 100% MORE likely to eat them. 

Our school doesn't have a hot lunch program and I'm totally ok with that, better than ok with it really because I don't have to wage a daily war against deep fried beef tenders, tater tots and corn as a 'healthy' lunch. But it does mean that every single school day out of the year, we need to have lunch makings in the house, whether it's leftovers or sandwiches or bento box style lunches, it has to happen every day. I'm not alone in the lunch box dread, I know a lot of moms face it too. These make ahead yogurt squeeze tubes make lunches a wee bit easier, just toss one in on the way out the door and by lunchtime it's soft enough to eat. Do they leak? Well my boys have put them through the paces in lunch boxes and we haven't had one explosion yet, although I do make sure they are packed upright in the lunch box to avoid any unnecessary pressure on the top. I even let one defrost upside down in the sun and the only wet from it was condensation from the tube itself. 

They cost less to make than pre filled tubes. Each tube holds a half a cup of whatever your putting in it, so in our case yogurt mixed with berries and a little honey if needed. A HUGE tub of organic Nancy's Yogurt is 6 bucks and that has 16 half cups in it. A couple cups of frozen berries cost us nothing if we grow it ourselves and 3-4 dollars in the store. A bit of honey to sweeten if needed, we'll say 1 dollars worth just make sure it's in there. So around 11 dollars and because we're adding fruit to the yogurt we actually get about 20 squeezable yogurt tubes for that price, or around .55¢ apiece. The average pre made squeeze yogurt runs about .80¢ apiece, that's not organic, that's regular yogurt and that's an average price. 

No trash! These things are refillable and add nothing to the landfill. Those little plastic pouches are not recyclable and somehow they never actually make it into the garbage cans but seem to litter the parking lot at school. They're so insidious in their ability to avoid the trash can, my son's teacher jokingly said he was going to call the yogurt factory and tell them his class was no longer allowed to have them in their lunches.

I really like that we can make whatever flavor yogurt we want too. I can whip up blueberry smoothies for kids and pour a bit in the bottom of a couple of tubes and then top it off later with raspberry yogurt if I want. We can also put pudding in them and have homemade pudding pops or even applesauce. They hold pickles if we need them to, or trail mix or I suppose even a cheese spread for crackers or bread, all those would go in NOT frozen of course. 

And again, squeezable yogurt makes homemade lunches seem more fun, more fun means more lunch gets eaten. And as long as lunches are going to the boys, and not the school chickens, I am A-OK with that. Last year my kids had pretty much quit eating lunches and came home starving. I started making them eat the things they didn't eat in their lunches for snack and I suspect some of the lunch, they didn't bring back home, may have made it out to the chickens at school. This is only a suspicion and I never confirmed it. 

I bought our NorPro Ice Pop Makers off of Amazon, that is an affiliate link, if you click through and buy it, I make a few pennies. I used our prime account, got free shipping and they arrived at our house in under a week, pretty good for Alaska. 

This was not a paid or sponsored post. I bought these with our money but we like them so much I wanted to share them. If you have kids in school and need a fun, budget friendly lunch box addition these are great!

Pin It!


Single Crust Cherry Slab Pie

My family always cheers for pie, I don't like pie so I rarely make pie and when I do they're exceedingly happy. This simple little one crust slab pie is so quick and easy to make I find myself making pie more often that I ever have. The ultimate summer dessert is a crunch or a cobbler, exactly because they ARE so quick and easy but I've discovered pie can be just as quick and easy, even more so, if you start with pre-made pie dough, yours or store bought, it doesn't matter too much, both will work. The secret to using a store bought crust is chilling it well before baking it so it has a chance to set up before melting into a mush puddle. (shhhh insider secret!) 

And how awesome is it that you can make one pie dough recipe and get two family pleasing desserts out it? COMPLETELY awesome is the answer you're looking for. When you bring pie to people who are hardly expecting it you will be heralded for your ingenuity and your kitchen prowess, you've been warned! 

Single Crust Cherry Slab Pie
oven 350˚
1/2 a batch of pie dough or use 1/2 a store bought pie dough
2 cups pitted cherries, I used Bing because they were in my freezer and already pitted1/4 cup of sugar

on a rimmed baking sheet rolled chilled pie dough to a rough rectangle/oval about 11x8 inches
lift each side up using a cookie spatula to carefully loosen them from the baking sheet
fold over a 1/2 or so and pinch up to form the crust, use your fingers to crimp the edge
when all four sides are crimped make sure the corners are sealed well
lay the cherries in a single layer on the crust, arranging them as needed to fit
you may have a few too many cherries to fit or they may all fit right in, depends on your expertise at folding the crust, not to worry any passing child will happily eat them or you can save them for a later use
sprinkle the sugar over the cherries making sure each one gets enough sugar to juice once it starts baking
firm your corners again, this is where they will leak when baking so you want them nice and set
chill for half an hour 
bake in a 350˚ oven for 30 minutes until the fruit is cooked through and the cherries have filled the crust with their juices 
cool slightly before serving and serve with ice cream or whipped cream

You can make any fruit into a slab pie, it's not difficult, it just takes the knowledge that if it's not perfect you'll have to eat it, learn from your mistakes and try again. You can also use BOTH pie crusts and cut the second crust into lattice work, or cut decorative pieces out of the crust, just have fun! 

Pin It!


Fresh Nectarine Salsa

This quick to make nectarine salsa makes the perfect topping for fish tacos, sweet and light with a gentle kick from sweet onions. 

I buy in bulk, no lie right now my fridge is home to 90 peaches and nectarines, or it was anyway, we've been chugging through them. We're eating them whole or in Any Fruit Cobbler, which is popular around here, and I'm currently making a batch of fruit leather in the dehydrator. We've got to eat them up because the next truck load comes in to town in a week. We buy our fruit from Tree Things whenever we can, they make several fruit runs to Alaska each summer delivering fresh fruit straight (or close to it!) off the farm. If you're local check them out, in my opinion it's one of the best ways to get buy bulk fruit in your life.

When I made fresh spicy salmon tacos last night I KNEW I wanted a fruity salsa to top them off, so turned to nectarines. I figured nectarines were sure to be as tasty as peaches but because they don't need to be peeled they'd be quicker and easier to use, I was right! The salsa took less than 5 minutes to whip up, it went in the fridge to chill while the salmon grilled and everything came together in the end, whew. The finished tacos were a put-it-together-yourself sort of affair, I just laid out the ingredients and everyone helped themselves. The salsa was met with disapproval at first, after one bite by the pickiest of my boys it was deemed edible and promptly gobbled up along with every bit of everything else. 

Nectarine Salsa

3 nectarines-you don't want them to be too ripe so look for slightly firm fruits
1/4 cup chopped sweet onion
1/4 cup chopped sweet yellow pepper
2 TBSP chopped cilantro
juice from half a lemon

wash the nectarines and slice the fruit off of the pit
cut it into slices and place in the bowl of a food processor
pulse to chop, you don't want it to be a puree just pulse to chop
then add the sweet onions, peppers and cilantro
squeeze the lemon juice over everything
pulse to chop and combine, making sure everything is chopped small enough to fit nicely on a taco 
pulse again if needed
once it's chopped fine enough transfer to a bowl and chill
if you're not using it within an hour or so cover it tightly
stir to combine before serving

Pin It!