Headed towards back to the basics living.


Luscious Lemon Spaghetti & Veggies

Image via Woman's Day. We ate ALL of ours before I remembered a picture would have been a good idea. But it actually looked just like the picture. Love that!

It’s all in the name. Or so I’ve heard. So  I can’t figure out why  Woman’s Day magazine named this luscious yet light lemony spaghetti with vegetables “Spaghetti with Shaved Veggies.” Sorry but it sounds bland, and this recipe is NOT bland. They are the professionals, but the only reason I tried this recipe was because the picture looked delicious. If there had been no picture I highly doubt I would have tried out the recipe. And I would have missed out on a really great recipe. (Maybe they we’re counting on a picture being worth a thousand words???) Okay,enough with me being the word police, I’m just really hoping others won’t miss out on this recipe like I almost did.

Seriously. This recipe is my new favorite meatless recipe. It meets all my requirements for a keeper: tastes good (of course), doesn’t seem like its missing “something” (a.k.a. the meat), doesn’t leave me starving an hour later, is easy to make, and one of the most important is that DH asks for me to make it again. With this recipe DH actually asked me without prompting to make it again. And it’s a pretty healthy recipe to boot, depending on your definition of healthy.

I can totally imagine having this at our old favorite restaurant in Salt Lake City, Tucci’s. (Sounds like Two Cheese.) Oh how I miss that place! It was this great family run restaurant and one of the waiters actually knew our names and always stopped by to say hi. They made the BEST Shrimp Puttanesca with a dash of white wine! MMMM! Well since I won’t be making a pit stop to SLC anytime soon unfortunately, I guess I’ll have to settle for this lemony spaghetti served with a salad and maybe some HM bread sticks.

“Okay, okay” you’re probably thinking, “I know you love this recipe, get on with it already!” Okay, here you go, seriously try it if you like lemon at all. Happy eating (=

Easy Lemon-y Spaghetti & Veggies

The Goods:

  • 1 lb. Zucchini, ends trimmed
  • 1 lb. Carrots, peeled
  • 1 box (1 lb.) Spaghetti (I used Whole Wheat)
  • 5 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cut up
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. Grated Lemon Zest (I actually used a bit more, I wanted a bit more intensity)
  • 1 Tsp. Lemon Juice (I increased this just a bit more too, to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp. Salt
  • 1/4 tsp. Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • Shaved Parmesan

The Grind:

  1. Bring a 5-6 qt. pot of salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, if zucchini are long, halve crosswise. Using a vegetable peeler, shave zucchini and carrots into ribbons.
  2. Cook pasta until al dente as package directs. Add zucchini and carrot shavings to the pasta pot. Cook 1 minute or until vegetables are just tender. Remove and reserve 1 cup pasta cooking water, then drain pasta mixture.
  3. Meanwhile, melt butter in same pot used to cook pasta. Add garlic, cook 30 seconds. Remove from heat.
  4. Return pasta and veggies to pot. Add lemon zest and juice, salt and pepper; toss. Add enough reserved pasta water to create a thin sauce. (I only used about a 1/4 of a cup.) Top with parmesan to taste.

Per Serving: 488 calories, 16 g protein, 79 g carbs, 6 g fiber, 13 g fat (8 g sat fat), 31 mg cholesterol, 399 mg sodium.


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Do you know if your sunscreen is safe?

I’ve been debating whether or not to post about sunscreens today or about that lemon-y vegetarian pasta that I raved about last week. Tough call-what’s more important to discuss-healthy eating or avoiding nasty chemicals??? Probably nasty chemicals directly at the moment as there are a number of healthy well-known food choices and only a few known sunscreens worth giving out cold hard cash for.

image via The Daily Green

I just keep picturing mamas loading up their kiddos and heading off to the local pool or for a long summer vaca and slathering their kids with  a big ol’ dollop of white goo (a.k.a. sunscreen) thinking they are protecting their kids when actually they might be harming them! (Gasp!) Fellow blogger Rachelle at Some Mama Drama brought up this point recently on FB and it reminded me of just how many products are out there that CLAIM to keep us all safe from that “horrible sun” but might actually be  causing us harm in a different way.

The problem with SOOOOO many sunscreens  is that the chemicals they contain can act as hormone disruptors in the body. Basically your body can’t tell the difference between an actual hormone and these chemicals-they are able to connect with certain “docking stations” in your body that receive hormones. So not only is your body linking up with chemicals but you’ve then got your actual hormones free floating around in your body. This can lead to all sorts of potential problems causing your body’s hormone levels to be off balance. For example, a frequently mimicked hormone is estrogen.  The fake estrogen’s presence is known to lead to high breast cancer rates and reproductive problems. I’m sure you can guess why I brought up the fake estrogen. After spending just a few months avoiding as many chemicals as possible I am now halfway through a much anticipated pregnancy. Am I saying it was definitely the lack of chemicals that did it? No, but do I feel it made a difference? Um, yeah, I do!!! I could really go on and on here-bringing up my anti-milk preferences and The fertility Diet I followed but I will save that for another day.

So thankfully there is a group out there called the Environmental Working Group that has an extensive database where you can check out just how potentially hazardous your sunscreen is for free. And for that matter you can check out a LOT of other beauty products you probably own to see just how potentially hazardous they are too. Products are rated on a scale of 1-10. The lower the score the better. The database will also list the ingredients in your product and rate the ingredients individually and give a reason for a certain score.

Every year the EWG puts out a list of recommended sunscreens just to make things a bit easier.  To check it out, click here. This was really helpful to me last year when I prepared to go on an awesome family vacation to Yellowstone where I knew I would be outdoors most of the time and would definitely need to be slathering on some sort of sun protection. I was so amazed and disappointed when I took that list to Wallies and only found one product listed on the safe list. That’s one out of about 100 other products  to choose from.

I did check out a few other sunscreens that I thought might be safe but after looking at the EWG’s sight I knew what chemicals to avoid and why so I was easily able to rule them out. I did feel a bit like a dork standing there with my list of dangerous chemicals and comparing them as several people walked up and grabbed a sunscreen bottle, popped open the lid and when they found a good smelling one tossed it in their cart. Oh wells, that’s a small price to pay for safety I guess (= You can call me “el queeno, el dorko” if you must!


Making Your Own Mocha Frappe’

I‘ve got a weak spot for those icy cold chocolate flavored coffee drinks. You know the ones sold at Starbucks, Sonic & now even at McDonald’s covered in mounds of delicious cream?  They’re everywhere! And they cost a fortune if you get one on a regular basis at all. Then try multiplying that by two if your spouse wants one! So what’s a cheap money smart girl like me to do? Make your own! I found this recipe in a women’s magazine (sorry I don’t know which one) and have been hanging on to it for the last couple of months just waiting for our first hot day to surprise DH with a cold treat.

This weekend proved to be the perfect opportunity to try it out. I was a bit skeptical at first. There are only 5 to 6 ingredients in this recipe. Had I really been paying 3 or 4 bucks for something this easy? I think so. And if you already drink coffee and have  a little leftover each time then you are already one step ahead. Try it for yourself and see what you think…

Iced Mocha Frappe’

  • 1/3 c. cold strong brewed coffee (just use a little more if using regular strength coffee)
  • 1/3 c. whole milk (or if you want to lower the fat/calories try 2% milk)
  • 1 Tbsp. chocolate syrup (or to taste)
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 1 c. ice cubes (I just used the crushed ice feature on my fridge to be kind to my rather old blender. I would really love this one. Any recommendations?)
  • Cool Whip or Whipping Cream (optional)
  • Chocolate Shavings for Garnishing (optional)

***This recipe has about 125 calories and 3 g of fat before adding whipped cream.

Combine all the ingredients in a blender and mix until smooth and the ice is completely crushed. If you are using real whipping cream it will take about 3-4 minutes using a handheld mixer on high  to get semi-stiff peaks to form.

Enjoy! And know you’ve saved yourself some money, aren’t consuming something with who knows what in it and who knows how many zillions of calories. Yum, so delicious!


Raising our first Baby Chicks and all that Jazz

Whew! It has been a busy, busy weekend! Have you ever noticed how it seems like there is a period of time when nothing is happening and then bam!  Suddenly there are twenty different things happening and a million more to do? That is the story of my life right now.

On Saturday it finally really felt like summer here. I had my shorts and a tank top on and the breeze was a warm one. Snow is no longer a realistic possibility-thank goodness! So that means its finally time to get out there in the garden-get the tomatoes in the ground and every other vegetable and flower that needs to be sown directly in the ground. For me that means a LOT of planting. I was quite ambitious when I saw all the seed packets there in Lowe’s a few weeks ago. Now I’m wondering if I bit off a bit more than I can chew this year. Reminds me of going to eat at a buffet when your eyes are always bigger than your stomach!

At the same time DH is busy building our chicken coop. We got our little chicks (or pullets, as they are called) a couple of weeks ago. They will be ready to go out soon and the coop is a priority project. So no help from DH with the planting. The chicks are adorable but those little girls are fast! Meaning its up to DH to catch them and get them outside for some sunshine.  Just imagine a 5.5 month preg-o lady squatting and lunging with imagined lightning speed arm reflexes- and all the while trying not to hurt herself or the chicks. It was quite hilarious the first and only time I tried it! And with the weather being so chilly lately they barely got their first couple of days out this weekend. They looked so happy pecking and scratching around on the ground. And of course they we’re intensely guarded obsessively watched by our two fascinated labs.

And to add to all that excitement ,”luck”  brought us not one-but two bull snakes passing through our yard. One was a baby (relatively harmless). The other was a mammoth size creature that I thoroughly wish I had snapped a picture of  DH the snake wrangler proudly holding up before tossing him to the outside of our fence.

Did I tell you about the yummy chocolately marshmallow cookies I made or the two new vegetarian recipes I tried out? MMMM…they turned out pretty good-stay tuned for the recipes on those this week. They passed DH’s test of meatless dishes: seconds requested and no mention of “something’s missing” (i.e. the meat). One he actually requested without prompting to be made again. Ha ha-success!!!!! And it was the one I was least expected too. Go figure!

DH was actually my hero this weekend.  He painted the frame and legs of this previously ugly forest green card table.

Ugh! Depressing color! (Did you know you can remove the top of most card tables with a little help from a drill and an excited labrador assistant?)

I have hated the color since the day we bought it and have refused to use it in my craft room until its somewhat “beautified.” I’m doing a redo of my craft room that I hope to have completed at least in the next couple of weeks. Here’s a sneak peek of the table. (Stay tuned for the full reveal of the table -and the room, of course.)

Sorry about the lighting here-it looks a bit dark or yellowy color but it's actually a pretty celery green.

Busy, busy, busy-buzzzzzzz!!!!!

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Feelin’ It Friday: A Walk on the Water

I’ve started this post about 10 times. No exaggeration either. Some days I wake up wanting to conquer the world so to speak but feel a little overwhelmed when I think about how to do that. I’ve got a lot of ideas circling round my head right now-plans for the baby’s room, plans to live a greener life (and save money at the same time), plans for eating healthier (starting with dinner tonight), and even just plans for the next few hours ’til DH gets home. Sometimes all these plans cause me to just stall-I freeze up-wanting for things to go so perfectly that in the end things don’t get accomplished. You know how a deer in the headlights just freezes up and the is frequently squashed by an oncoming car? Oh, I so don’t want that to happen to me-in any area of my life. So rather than just go on and on I thought I’d share this video with you. I have so been feelin’ this song. (Thought you might enjoy it to.)

Honestly, I was thinking of just not posting today. I see so many blogs out there with super cute and creative ideas perfectly polished and put together. They are great inspiration, but on days like today I think “Wow! They are so put together? Are they always like that? How do they do it? What is their secret?” It can seem a bit intimidating. Well to me anyways. And then I remembered the thing I love about blogging and fb and myspace and email the most: the connection with others. Not perfection but connection. I think it’s about real life and sharing it with others. Technology is great if it lets us connect with others but not so great if it intimidates us and is just another platform to impress others. So, while I don’t have any projects or happenings to blog about today I thought I would just take a minute to connect and wish you a long beautiful sunny laughter filled weekend. To start you off (and in case my philosophical ramblings have been a bit too much on the serious side) I thought I would share this Geico commercial. Yes, commercials are annoying but sometimes-they just really make you laugh (=

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Gorilla Gardening

Gorilla Gardening. I guess its the rebel in me, but I absolutely love this concept. It’s like my own personal way of protesting all the ugliness in the world and proving that it has the potential to be something beautiful. It’s doing something for others knowing that you probably won’t get anything in return except your own personal satisfaction and the knowledge that you’ve made the world a little bit brighter.

If you’ve never heard of it you’re by now you’re probably wondering what in the world I’m talking about. Let me enlighten you, if I may. Gorilla Gardening is a growing concept being adopted worldwide by people tired of seeing sad neglected little patches of land. Often times they are surrounded by lots of concrete, other times its just a little plot of land that once upon a time was maintained and contributed to the aesthetic of the place. Gorilla Gardeners are those people tired of looking at these depressing little spaces and determine to do something about it. Often sneaking quickly into the area and working the soil, getting the plants in the ground and then returning as needed to maintain their new public garden. is a website started by a man named Richard back in 2004. It connects you with others in your area interested in sprucing up your neighborhood/town. You can start your own “dig” or you can find a current dig to join. If you’re interested in meeting up with other like-minded individuals its awesome. But I think you could totally do this yourself with a family member or two, especially if it’s somewhere near your house.

I am very blessed to live out in the country where trees and grass grow wild and abundantly but there is this spot-a row of mailboxes down the road that I’ve got my eye on. Perhaps it could use a bit of color-native species of course.  After all we do go there everyday and no one actually walks behind the mailboxes only in front of them so the flowers could probably grow without getting squashed. Hmmm…I’ll have to post some pics in a few weeks once I get the little seedlings into the ground.

Here’s some before and afters from the GG page just so you can see how fun and pleasing to the eye this could be.

Sorry about the quality of these, here’s some really great “Afters” for a little bit of pleasing eye candy to hopefully make up for it (=

And here’s one more…

Now, go plant something in a totally ugly spot and make it beautiful just like you, you gorgeous reader (=


How to remember your Reusable Shopping Bags

I have a confession to make. Probably 9 times out of 10 time I forget my reusable shopping bags at home. Gasp! I know, in terms of someone trying to live an eco-friendly lifestyle this is not good. So what happens when I’m out? You guessed it- I take home the plastic bags. While I am very good at reusing them as trash can liners and I faithfully return them to those recycling bins located by the entryway of many stores today I definitely could do better. I just feel guilty every time a clerk hands me one and then think of my  unused little bags sitting at home. Don’t get me wrong reusing and recycling them is good. It’s way better than just throwing them in the trash, but I really want to take this to the next level.

One thing that drives me nuts is when I have the means/goods to complete a project or idea and then I fail to implement it for quite sometime. Did I mention that I always have more than one thing going on at once-I’m easily distracted.  I’ve heard that until you think and plan out specific ways to do something it remains just a vague idea. All of that brings me to where I am today. I’m not happy with my plastic bag mountain. And yet, the reusable bags sit, unused.

So I came up with a plan of action to help me get my butt in gear! First, I had to figure out where the problem was. (See paragraph above. Emotional short comings acknowledged. Moving on.) Now onto the practical. When I head out the door, honestly I am not an hour ahead mentally seeing the cashier hand me my purchases. I am thinking, ” Did I grab the list? Do I have my wallet? Sunglasses? It’s bright out there today! Did I grab a small snack in case I get hungry? Are the dogs put up?”  You get the idea. So bags are the last thing on my mind. So how to remember? I think its time for the old reminder note. I’m sure stickies would work-at least until they lost their stickiness. So when I came across an idea during one of my recent blog surfings-I told you about my new obsession right?-I knew I had to try it. I am not afraid to admit I don’t have the world’s best memory. (I think that’s why God gave me a love for organization because otherwise I would be in deep trouble!)

Jennifer, over at Once Upon a Baby, is trying to live a green lifestyle while raising three young kids. She reviewed a product called Bagnesia. The idea of this product is to help you remember your reusable bags. It’s a little kit that contains a shopping bag, produce bags, and…wait for it… A door hanger and a steering wheel wrap. Really! Such a great idea, just wish I had thought of it myself.

Since I already have a couple of bags at home I just going to create a door hanger and a steering wheel cover for myself. It’s a good excuse to try out my sewing skills and use my nifty Silhouette machine. Ever seen one of those babies? They are awesome! It was one of my last big purchases before I settled into my future mama role. They are  pricey but they can save you money on gifts and cards if you get creative. How Does She? has hinted that they are going to be giving one of these away this week so keep an eye out if your interested.  They also have some great tutorials to show you some great ways to use it if you’re in the market to just buy one out right. (They do go on sale too.) I really like this tutorial. Was thinking of making a girlie version of it for my little girl’s room. What do you think?

But I digressed. Back to the subject at hand, literally. Another idea I had was to try to make or buy really inexpensive but CUTE reusable bags that way I would be more likely to think about them and carry them proudly. I am such a sucker for a cute bag, ya know?

Tell me, tell me, what ways have you tried to remember your reusable bags? I know there has to be a secret somewhere out there that works!