Friday, December 22, 2017

Marbled Cake Bars

Hello, dear readers. Happy holidays!

I think Christmas time is my favorite holiday. It's a time of giving and generosity. It's a time for family and traditions. We've put up a smaller tree this year, decorated the house with all of the collected nutcrackers, and started cooking up the old-time favorite recipes. We even sent a Secret Santa gift to an elderly gentleman at a nearby retirement home.

Fortunately, (or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it) I've been cooking a lot of unhealthy but delicious things.  These things are irresistible and should only be eaten in small quantities because they make you pack on that dreaded "winter weight." But that is what New Year's resolutions are for!

I've been making these marbled cake bars for years and they never had an official name.  I've snooped and found out that others call them Can't Leave Them Alone Bars. That name really has no staying power in my memory banks, so I'm just going to keep thinking of them as Marbled Cake Bars. Or maybe they're just those yummy pot-luck cake bars. This recipe is an absolute hit at pot-lucks.  People love these!  They're pretty easy to make, so that's a bonus. I hope you enjoy!

1 box yellow cake mix
2 eggs
1/3 cup canola oil
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 14oz. can sweetened condensed milk
1/4 cup butter

1. Combine the cake mix, eggs, and oil.  Mix with a wooden spoon. It will be sticky and thick.

2. Spread slightly more than half of the cake mix dough into the bottom of a 9"x13" pan that has been sprayed with nonstick baking spray. You might want to nonstick spray a rubber spatula or use slightly damp fingers to flatten the dough out.  Reserve the rest of the dough for step 5.

3. Combine the chocolate, canned milk, and butter in a microwavable bowl.  Nuke it in the microwave about 30-45 seconds then stir.  Nuke another 30 seconds and stir. Repeat nuking and stirring until smooth.

4. Pour the hot melty chocolate mixture over the cake dough in the pan.

5. Drop spoonfuls of reserved dough across the top of the chocolate layer until used up.

6. Bake in a 350F preheated oven about 20-25 minutes, or until the top is light golden brown.  Don't use a toothpick test because it won't be true.  Just trust that when the top has browned a bit that it is ready.

7. Let cool overnight, or as long as you can stand it, and cut into tidy squares. You should get 20 bars.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Apple Farro Salad

Hello, dear readers!  Welcome back.

It's been hot here in northern Nevada, not melting trash can hot, but we've already had a few days at 100F.  When it's warm out, we tend to cook and eat outdoors. Grilling, and now smoking with hubby's birthday present (a Camp Chef Woodwind) has been our recent favorite cooking method.

Since you have to balance out the hot with something cool, I made this refreshing and simple farro salad to go with dinner one night. We ate outdoors al fresco and the fresh air makes everything taste better!

2 cups farro
1 apple, peeled and diced
3 green onions, whites only chopped
1/4 cup parsley chopped
juice of one tangelo or orange, freshly squeezed
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

1. Boil the farro in a large pot of water for about 20 minutes. Drain and set aside.

2. Heat the olive oil in a small pan.  Saute the onion until soft. Add the apple and cook about another 5 minutes or until softened.

3. Place farro in a large bowl.  Add cooked onion and apple mixture.  Add the other ingredients and toss everything together. Serve warm or cool.

Thanks for stopping by. I hope you enjoyed my post. See you again soon!

Friday, June 30, 2017

Your Bijoux Box April 2017

Hello, dear readers. It's time to play catch up on posting.

Let's take a look at the April box from Your Bijoux Box. There were two Karen Kane products featured, and they varied. I'm digging what I received!

First, the large Karen Kane hoop earrings are really nice. I'm not fond of jumbo hoop earrings since they catch my hair, but these are not too enormous.

Second, the Karen Kane necklace I received was a delicate chain with little pave donut shapes in-line. I like this one a lot.  Also, after seeing the single pave disc, I really prefer this style!

Third, the chunky Goldenrod bracelet. It's very pretty, not something I'd wear every day. But for a special occasion, I can find a reason to wear this.

Finally, they included a bonus fourth item two April Showers hair pins.  I like that they are different from each other. Mix and match!

Thanks for stopping by. I hope you enjoyed seeing this batch of goodies.  Bye-bye for now!

P.S. For the sake of transparency, I paid for this subscription myself. It was in no way "free" or provided to me for some exchange of services. I just really liked the products and wanted to share my opinion.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Rhubarb Strawberry Crisp

Hello, dear readers!  Welcome back for a lovely recipe.

In honor of my dear hubby's birthday, I baked up something special.  At first, he wasn't sure what to ask for, so he mumbled something about coconut cake, then a pie, then he settled on something rhubarb.  Our rhubarb patch was doing well enough for me to get some for his birthday dessert.

He got a crisp instead of pie or cake. Strawberry rhubarb crisp with a hint of cinnamon and vanilla. It was heavenly!

The middle daughter (the picky eater) was unsure about the stuff that went into the fruit layer.  I told her it's pretty much just sweet and sour strawberry, like sour patch kids. It worked!  I wouldn't say she loved it, but she ate some without flipping out.  I think we're making progress on reducing the pickiness.

So for your dining enjoyment, give this a try.  It's sweet and tangy, sticky and oozy, buttery and crispy in all the right places.

For the fruit base
3 cups diced rhubarb stalks
3 cups sliced strawberries
3/4 cup sugar
for the topping
1 1/2 cups AP flour
3/4 cup quick oats (uncooked)
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup butter, melted

1. Combine the fruit base ingredients together, rhubarb, strawberries and sugar.  Let it rest at room temperature until the sugar has mostly dissolved and it's syrupy, about 15 minutes.

 2. Combine the remaining dry ingredients.  Add the vanilla to the melted butter, then pour into the dry ingredients.  Stir to combine so it's evenly moistened.

3. Prepare a 9x13 baking dish by coating it with nonstick spray.  Pour fruit into bottom.  Spread the oat topping over the fruit evenly.

4. Bake in a 350F preheated oven about 35-40 minutes or until hot and bubbly and the topping has browned.

5. Serve with whipped cream or ice cream. Enjoy!

By the way, thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Lactation Support

Hello, dear readers!

I've survived the rush of birthday season and now we can resume our regular, hectic schedule. That's good news for you because I have some great posts waiting to be shared with you! I have  jewelry boxes, a new box from Influenster to review, a couple awesome recipes, and then this post.

Today's post is something near and dear to my heart. That's breastfeeding. Mom's can never get too much support, if you asked me.

I have successfully breastfed my three kiddos.  I worked full time and pumped two or three times a day for the first year of each child's life. Once I got the OK from the pediatrician, I introduced cow's milk and gradually reduced pumping at work to a stop. But I still had a great milk supply. I know, I know. Lucky me!

My oldest had a huge appetite and even with my great milk supply, using supplements and galactogogue foods, I still had to supplement with formula.  He weaned just before he turned two because my supply changed (being pregnant does that!)

My middle daughter was completely different. She ate like a bird, so my super milk supply tended to be too much for her sometimes so I had to find ways to tone it down. She weaned at three years, but at that point it was just comfort nursing before bedtime.

I'm currently BFing the youngest. She is 22 months old now. Thankfully, she has a great appetite and is willing to try new foods.  I'm aiming to wean her near her upcoming birthday.

Before I go any further, let's briefly address the positive aspects of breastfeeding.

  • Baby is getting nourishment that can in no way be reproduced in a factory. 
  • Mama and baby are able to bond. 
  • Baby has lower rates of sickness, like respiratory issues and allergies.  
  • Mom also gets health benefits like a lower rate of breast cancer and nursing can help mom lose weight. 
However, there is no guarantee that mom will lose weight. Hormones are tricky things and maybe you'll be like me where your mom body is very happy and functional above your mentally ideal weight. So you accept the new you and help that little angel thrive.

Plus, breastmilk is FREE!!! Cans of formula are so expensive!

Let's talk about foods that can increase milk supply. My go-to food was oatmeal.  I normally eat oatmeal for breakfast 2 or 3 times a week. It doesn't have to be anything fancy. Instant packets are great. I've found that all kinds of oatmeal have a positive effect on milk production. It can be a granola bar or as an ingredient in a dish and still have positive effects, like oatmeal cookies, apple crisp,  or multigrain waffles.

I also occasionally added flax seeds or chia seeds to my diet.  They are not specifically known to be lactogenic, but I figured any extra nutrients from those superfoods couldn't hurt.

Certain vegetables can be beneficial.  Sweet potatoes, fennel, and kale come to mind. Oven roasted diced sweet potatoes are so tasty!

I also used herbal supplements. I did not use these on a day-to-day basis, only if I felt like I wasn't getting enough milk.  The easiest for me was drinking herbal tea for mothers.  My favorite was Traditional Medicinals organic Mother's Milk tea.  Yogi Tea Woman's Nursing Mom tea also helped. There are other brands out there, but I tried these myself and they worked for me. I've been able to find these teas at my regular grocery store. I also used an herbal tincture for mothers that came from a health food store.  These typically contain herbs like blessed thistle, anise, coriander, fenugreek, and other flowery herbs.

Keep taking prenatal vitamins.  It might sound funny to take pregnancy vitamins, but nursing moms need all the vitamins they can get. At least take a good multivitamin. Babies do a really good job of sucking the nutrients out of you.

A food that helped my milk supply, I found quite by accident, was at Trader Joes.  The frozen chicken tikka masala with rice entree did a great job of boosting my supply.  It contains fenugreek seeds, which are lactogenic.

When I started to wean, or just needed to cut my supply down, I cut back on the oatmeal consumption and stopped the herbal tea.  I also used certain herbs to help suppress my supply. Sage, parsley, and oregano are easy to add to foods and they did noticeably work to reduce my supply.

There were foods that I ate that flavored the milk, foods the kids didn't like.  Bell peppers, spicy foods, and blue cheese would make all three very cranky. Sometimes they would just flat out refuse the boob when I ate those. That knowledge can come in handy when it's weaning time.

What about alcohol? I had heard from other moms that drinking a beer (yes, just one) helped them boost their milk supply. I think that hops may be the helpful ingredient. I don't like beer, so I tried a bottle of hard cider or glass of wine.  I found alcoholic drinks diminished my supply. Perhaps this is one to test with caution. Any more than a single drink, especially a drink with a higher alcohol content is not safe in my opinion. Alcohol can travel to the milk supply.

If you're just getting started with breastfeeding, or not, it doesn't hurt to brush up on local laws if you're planning on nursing out in public.

For example,  Nevada Revised Statues NRS 201.235
"Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a mother may breast feed her child in any public or private location where the mother is otherwise authorized to be, irrespective of whether the nipple of the mother’s breast is uncovered during or incidental to the breast feeding."

I am by no means an expert. I am not certified in anything regarding lactation or health. I am just a mom that has read a lot and tried a zillion things in the past 11 years of my motherhood experience.  I hope this is a useful piece of information for someone else.

Thanks for stopping by! See you next time!

PS I paid for all my own stuff myself. No sponsorship here.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Your Bijoux Box March 2017

Hello, dear readers!

Welcome back for the March jewelry reveal. This month had a theme of beautiful deep emerald green, inspired by St. Patrick's Day.

The first item, which was previously revealed in one of the sneak peeks, was a cuff bracelet by House of Harlow.  I received the Tessellation Cuff with the stacked triangle design. 

If you look back to the June 2016 box, you might recognize this next design.  They brought back the Danielle Vintage pattern, but this time in gorgeous emerald green. This box included a set of earrings and a double strand layered necklace.  

Lastly, everyone received a scarf by Life of Fashion. My scarf is an infinity scarf in a zebra-ish faded stripe with cream and pea-green. I already wore this and received tons of compliments.

Thanks for stopping by. I hope you enjoyed seeing this batch of goodies.  Bye-bye for now!

P.S. For the sake of transparency, I paid for this subscription myself. It was in no way "free" or provided to me for some exchange of services. I just really liked the products and wanted to share my opinion. 

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Your Bijoux Box Freebie Bonus

Hello dear readers!

By now, you might have realized that I love the goodie boxes from Your Bijoux Box.  And I have one more reason to love them.

Every month they choose one lucky person to win a box of unique jewels! All you have to do it follow Your Bijoux Box on Instagram and post a selfie with their jewels tagged #YourBijouxBoxStyle.

No kidding! I was chosen and got a box of jewels!!! Yes, a whole free box from Your Bijoux Box!

Check out what I got!

P.S. For the sake of transparency, I paid for this subscription myself. It was in no way "free" or provided to me for some exchange of services. I just really liked the products and wanted to share my opinion. This box was a prize-winner because I followed the monthly contest rules and posted a photo on Instagram of myself wearing their product.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Your Bijoux Box February 2017

Hello, dear readers. It's time to catch up on the jewelry boxes.  I hope you're ready! 

Let's take a gander and the goods from Your Bijoux Box that were sent for the month of February.

Isn't it a lovely set? Don't forget the card with their names!

First, let's check out the Champagne Crystal Collar Necklace. It's blingy without being too much, but still classy.  Very nice

Second, they added another necklace, this is the Ginger Rose Gold Necklace. It's really long and delicate.  Cute!

Third, they added another gorgeous piece from Deepa Gurnani!  Check out this Velvet Bracelet.  I love the beading and tassels!

Fourth, yes they gave us a fourth item, is a cute set of hair bands by Lucky Feather.  Two have charms and two don't.

I hope you enjoyed seeing this batch of pretty jewels.  Until next time, bye for now!

P.S. For the sake of transparency, I paid for this subscription myself. It was in no way "free" or provided to me for some exchange of services. I just really liked the products and wanted to share my opinion. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Your Bijoux Box January 2017

Hello dear readers. The January box arrived and it's loaded with lovely jewels!

Let's see what goodies are in store this month!

First, the Yvette Y Necklace. It has been freezing cold here and seeing this necklace instantly made me think of warm summer days. The shades of blues and green are really deep and beautiful.  If these are semiprecious stones, I'd say they look like blue lapis lazuli, green malachite, moonstone, and chalcedony. These colors make me think of green grass and deep water.

Second, using the same color scheme is the Art Deco Bracelet from House of Harlow. I love this bracelet. It's very delicate and the colors are gorgeous. It was a real pick me up to get something so amazing.

Third, the chunky and gorgeous Petra Pearl Collar necklace. I need to pair this with my chunky tan mock turtleneck sweater.

And lastly, two goodies from Anne Taintor. The box included a slide-open tin of raspberry lip balm and a matchbook of purse-size emory boards.  These are too cute! Also, the tin of lip balm is like a flashback to my childhood and yummy Avon lip balms, except with cheeky graphics! 

There you have it. More great stuff from Your Bijoux Box. Thanks for stopping by!

P.S. For the sake of transparency, I paid for this subscription myself. It was in no way "free" or provided to me for some exchange of services. I just really liked the products and wanted to share my opinion.