Thursday, April 30, 2015

Fab Fiction: April 2015



As a writer and former book reviewer, people ask me all the time for book recommendations, and now that the weather is (finally) getting nice and summer vacations are on the horizon, I'm getting more requests than usual. Even though my official reviewing days are over, I've decided to do a monthly book post here on the blog. Lori might chime in occasionally, too!

As a mom, I know it's hard to find a spare minute to read (and even harder when you're a writer and any free time has to be dedicated to working on your own book). I've been trying to be better about making time to read lately, and like most of you, I do read a lot more in the summer. I'm excited to share my favorites each month with you, so here we go: our first edition of Fab Fiction!

The Royal We by Jessica Morgan and Heather Cocks

My favorite book of 2015 so far, and this probably comes as no surprise to anyone who knows me. It also seems appropriate this week (Dear Baby Cambridge #2, please show up soon). I've been following The Fug Girls for a while on social media, and especially love their hilarious Downton Abbey recaps, so I was excited when I saw they'd written a Will and Kate-esque novel. The Royal We tells the story of Rebecca Porter, an American studying abroad at Oxford who happens to fall in love with Prince Nicholas, the heir to the British throne. While the book is fairly long, it's such an engrossing read you'll find yourself flying through the pages and sad when it's over. Also, you might fall in love with Nick's brother, Prince Freddie, who is quite a cheeky ginger and also my new book boyfriend. I actually bought the hard cover of this book, even though I'd received an electronic review copy from the publisher. In five years of reviewing, this was actually the first time I've ever done this, so that's my highest compliment!

At one point in the story, Nick gives Bex a lapel pin with an American flag and a Union Jack crossed at the bottom, and I had to laugh because I've had a pin like that for ages (You can see mine sitting on the book below). It used to hang on my cube at work, and years later I moved it to the corkboard in my kitchen. I love that the Fug Girls know about this pin, and that I've found other people who think it's normal to drink tea out of a 1980s Princess Di engagement mug you bought on Ebay. Cheers!


Untrue Colors by Veronica Forand

I'll admit I'm not a romantic suspense reader, but Veronica is a friend of mine and a super talented writer. I'm a big fan of her contemporary stories, so I definitely wanted to check out her latest novel, Untrue Colors, as my first-ever romantic suspense read. Well, I absolutely loved it, and now I'm wondering why I've never read anything in this genre before. The story is super fast-paced and surrounds Alex, an art appraiser on the run from her abusive ex, who used her talents to help him judge the worth of stolen art. She flees from Paris to England, taking refuge in Oxford, but ends up in a world of trouble yet again. I'm obviously a sucker for anything set in the UK, and I loved traveling back to Oxford again after reading The Royal We. The romance was totally believable, and I'm one of those people who often thinks the relationships in romance novels are eye-roll inducing. I luuuuurved the hero, Henry, a hunky Oxford professor who just so happens to be an Earl. And owns a castle. And is trying to renovate said castle to help a battered women's charity. Swoon city. Oh, and he's Earl of Ripon, so I totally heard Anna from Downton Abbey in my head like, "Oh I'm just going to pop over to Ripon to buy some things for Lady Mary." Veronica definitely kept me guessing and isn't afraid to kill people off, but it wasn't one of those "I'm freaked out and can't sleep" books at the same time, which I appreciated. Can't wait to read the next one, which features Henry's brother Simon, a hot MI6 agent. Double swoon!



The One & Only by Emily Giffin

This one's not a new release, but it's new in paperback this month, so that counts. Emily is one of my all-time favorite authors (and Lori's too), so we were both fan-girling a bit when we met her at the signing for Where We Belong. One thing she said really stuck with me. A girl in the audience mentioned she was an aspiring writer trying to get a novel published, and Emily told her she WAS a writer. I never said I was "aspiring" again. Plus, she told me I would finish my book, even when the baby came (I did - and it will be published this August) and also said I totally didn't look pregnant, which made my day. Thanks, EG!

Anyway, back to this book: I got sucked into the small Texas college town setting, where football is practically a religion. Shea works for the university, and her best friend's father is the team's head coach, a Joe Paterno figure if you will, although much younger and DILF'ish. When his wife passes away, she finds herself wondering if the man she's idolized her entire life is something more. Not going to lie, it's kind of weird to think about falling in love with your best friend's dad, but Emily totally pulls it off. If you're a Friday Night Lights fan, this is the book for you!

Posing with Emily at her book signing a few years ago.

The One That Got Away by Bethany Chase

Speaking of Emily Giffin, if you like her books, you'll definitely want to pick up Bethany Chase's debut novel, The One That Got Away. I read it in two nights after the crazy person toddler went to bed, and anyone with a two-year-old knows that might as well be two hours in normal person time. The story follows Sarina, an up-and-coming architect who finds herself working on the home of Eamon Roy, a retired Olympic swimmer who is a close friend of her roommate. It should be her dream job, except for the small detail that she happened to have slept with him years ago. Even though she's on the verge of getting engaged to the guy she thought was the one, Sarina's always wondered about that night with Eamon (I loved her description of him being the one you Google at 2 a.m.) When Eamon moves back to Austin and they start working together, she can't stop her crush from coming back ... or questioning whether her own relationship is as perfect as she thought. This was one of those books I expected to be a lighthearted, fun read, and although it was, I also found myself moved to tears at certain points. Definitely a title to put on your must-read list! I'm also super excited because Bethany's second book will be a spinoff featuring Eamon's brother, Colin.



The Far End of Happy by Kathryn Craft


While this book is quite the opposite of the others I read this month, I loved it in a very different way. The Far End of Happy takes place over the course of 12 hours during a husband's suicide standoff, and is actually based on the author's own experience surrounding the events of her first husband's suicide. It's told from the POV of Ronnie, the wife; her mother, and her mother-in-law, so you get to know the background of what led to this day from three very different perspectives. I really liked the little details she injected into the story, like how The View and Live With Kelly and Michael played in the background while the cops were pacing around - one of those reminders that the mundane things in life go on no matter what you're going through at the time. Making the book take place over the course of 12 hours also gave it a sense of urgency and moved the story along quickly. I was definitely up late to find out what would happen next, and rooting for Ronnie and her family. She ends the day as a stronger person, despite dealing with a situation most of us can't even imagine. This book really made me think about life and what people can be battling behind closed doors.

I know Kathryn from the Women's Fiction Writers Association and I'm impressed by her courage and ability to tell this story in a way that's sad, yet still inspiring. I'm pretty sure most of us were moved to tears at Kathryn's book launch event when she spoke about her experience. The official release date is May 5, but you can pre-order the book online now. And, since I love our readers, I bought a copy at Kathryn's launch party last week and had it signed for a giveaway! One lucky F-it reader will win it - just enter via the Rafflecopter widget below. The contest ends next Friday, May 8 and we'll announce the winner on our Friday Finds post. Good luck!

That's moi with authors Leah Ferguson and Kathryn Craft at Kathryn's book launch.


a Rafflecopter giveaway



*I received review copies of The Royal We and The Far End of Happy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Try-it Tuesday: Green Goddess Smoothie


My son has always been a fairly decent eater but recently he seems to have gotten a little pickier. I'm always worried that he's not getting enough veggies (fruits he's usually a fan of so I'm not as concerned about that) so I looked on good ol' Pinterest and found a smoothie recipe that was chock full of fruits and veggies. Recipe here from Happy Food Healthy Life.

I ended up on this one because there was no added juice - the only liquid it required was ice water. In my opinion when you add OJ or another type of juice to smoothies, you just add unnecessary sugar and the smoothie gets way too sweet.

The first time I made it, I followed the recipe to a T. I tried it and was not a fan. My son however seemed to really enjoy it. The celery and cucumber were very potent and considering I don't like either, this pretty much explains my dislike.

The next time I made it, I used the following fruits and veggies:

1/2 Granny Smith Apple
1/2 Pear
1 Avocado
1 Kiwi
1 large handful of baby spinach
1 handful of blueberries
Enough water to get everything moving around in the blender
Handful of crushed ice to give the smoothie a chill (I tasted it without ice and it was lukewarm. Bleh!)

This one was soooo much better (to me). My son seemed to like it the same as the one with celery and cucumber.

The verdict: F-yeah! 
I encourage you to give a veggie/fruit smoothie a try and serve it to your kid.They are sweet enough that they think they're having a treat but enough vegetables in it that you feel a little better that they're getting some nutrients. Experiment with different combos and find something you and your family like and F making veggies with dinner!  I think the secret to smoothies is packing it full of vegetables (I'm talking handfuls of spinach at the very least) and then some sweet fruit to balance it out. The takeaway from this is that you can't really F up a smoothie as long as you don't add things you wouldn't find appealing alone (celery and cucumbers in my case).




Monday, April 27, 2015

Momma Mondays: What the F is in your bag?


It's a well-known fact that if you have kids, you carry around a lot of crap with you. Aside from the obvious items (diapers, wipes, etc.) we're here to tell you some of the other essentials we bring with us on a day-to-day basis. Whether we're heading to the playground, Target, out to eat or visiting friends, these are a few things that make our lives easier.

What's in Lori's bag:


External battery charger
Whether the charger is charged up is always a crap shoot but I generally always cart this around with me. If we are out for lunch or dinner or shopping and *someone* gets cranky, I hand my son my phone (that always dies rapidly) and I like having the extra security and insurance of some extra juice. You can pick one of these up just about anywhere. I got mine on Amazon but I've seen them at CVS, Rite Aid, etc. This is a true lifesaver.

Cooler bag
Whether you live in the suburbs or the city, and especially with warmer weather on the horizon, this is a must. You never know how long you'll be out and what you'll pick up, and nothing puts a damper on things than having ice cream milk rotting away in your stroller/car. I have several in different sizes. The one pictured below is from Homegoods, but I have a Vera Bradley one that is large enough to hold a 6 pack of beer cans. For larger trips, I have one from Wegmans that can fit 3-4 gallons of milk.


Lanyard keychain
As a childcare giver, you know that you can never have too many hands. Getting in and out of the door or strapping a little F-er into a stroller or car seat is not for the faint of heart. Nothing sucks more than to realize you lost your keys but losing them with a screaming kid is a whole new ballgame. Sweating and cursing come to mind. Retrace my steps? Ha! I couldn't even tell you what I ate today! Sure you'll look like a janitor or gym teacher with a ton of keys dangling from your neck but at least you'll always know where they are.

*editor's note: just because you have a lanyard doesn't mean you won't lose your keys at the Please Touch Museum. *ahem* If you have one or get one, make sure you strap this baby around your neck so you don't lose them. Thank God for honest people*


Cooler bag, external battery charger and lanyard

What's in Kristin's bag:


Play Pack
These little F-ers cost a mere $1 (I've found them in the Dollar Spot at Target and at Michaels) and are the best thing to carry around in your bag for a toddler in my humble opinion. Inside a resealable plastic bag you'll find a mini coloring book, a few crayons, and a sheet of stickers. They're available in all different characters like Mickey, Disney princesses, Ninja Turtles, etc. We actually gave these as birthday party favors, too. Whether you need to distract your kids in the car or at a restaurant, this is the best dollar you'll spend!

Wet Ones:
As I mentioned in our Earth Day post, I'm a hand sanitizer freak. In addition to my Honest Company spray, I always carry Wet Ones because you never know what your kid is going to touch (or wipe on you), and sometimes you need something more heavy duty than sanitizer or a baby wipe. Gross. Plus, they come in handy for wiping down restaurant highchairs/tables, dirty swings, etc. Expert tip: Don't leave a pack in your car, because they'll dry out ... or freeze solid in the winter. 

Sunscreen
Since both of us have extremely fair skin, I need to keep sunscreen on hand at all times. If you're the type of person who gets burnt just from driving to/from the food store, you know what I mean! Currently, I have Bare Republic SPF 30 in my bag (you can see my post about it here). In the summer, I often carry a spray bottle as well for easy reapplying. 

Snack trap
Whenever we go to out, it seems *someone* is screaming for a snack the second he sees another kid with one. I like to keep one of these on hand just in case, and it helps prevent him from throwing food all over the F'ing floor.

They don't make this version of the Vera Bradley backpack anymore,
but this style is similar. 

What's in your bag? Anything we should check out? 

Friday, April 24, 2015

Friday's Fab Finds: Earth Day Edition

Fresh off the heels of Earth Day, we thought it'd be fun to share some of our favorite natural and environmentally-friendly musts.

Lori's picks:


Sodastream
Three years ago (on Earth Day no less), I made one of the best retail decisions I've ever made and purchased a Sodastream. My seltzer drinking addiction was at an all-time high and I was drinking about a 2 liter bottle's worth everyday. At the time we lived about 5 blocks from the nearest grocery store so hauling them back and forth was getting to be too heavy. I had heard about the Sodastream but didn't think that it would taste the same as bottled seltzer. I was wrong. I got the basic Sodastream model and 2 extra carbonating bottles and have never looked back. I do love flavored seltzer so I will occasionally buy flavored bottles still, but 95% of the time my seltzer comes from my handy dandy Sodastream.

If you're not familiar with how it works, it has a carbonator canister and the Sodastream appliance. These range from basic to ultra fancy. You need a special carbonating bottle that can handle the pressure. If you want you can add flavoring that Sodastream sells, but I just drink it plain or squeeze some lemon or lime in it. You fill the bottle with plain water then attach it to the appliance and give it three buzzes and you have a fresh bottle of sparkling water.

When the CO2 canister runs out, you can bring it to pretty much any retailer and exchange it for a new one (they run about $15). Say so long to full recycling containers and plastic bags ripping at the seams hauling tons of seltzer bottles home from the store. A great thing about it is that there's no electricity so I really can't see how it can ever break.

*tip* If you are an everyday seltzer drinker, buy an extra CO2 canister so that you always have a full one on hand. The next time you're out bring the empty and get a new one so you always have one at the ready! 






Tervis water bottle
Tervis is a mug company and all their products are made in the USA. They come in fun designs, patterns, sayings, logos, etc. You can even completely customize a mug with a picture or anything you want it to say. The possibilities are endless. They keep hot things hot or cold things cold. I have a minor obsession with their products. They recently started making water bottles and in true Becky Bloomwood form, I had to wrack my brain to justify a reason to buy one of these beauties. Well, I found one... It's called seltzer from my Sodastream. I got one for my husband too so he is forced to drink more water at work.



Reusable snack bags
When you're out and about with your little f-er, you know that snacks are mandatory. I was using way too many plastic bags and found these cute little Disney reusable bags. They're washable and hold a lot of snacks. Well, at least enough to satisfy my son while we're out. You can find them pretty much everywhere online and in stores.


Kristin's picks:


Better Life What-Ever Cleaning Spray
I'm always on the lookout for green cleaners that are both non toxic and effective, so this spray is a home run for me. Lori and I are both big fans of Shark Tank, and when we saw the episode with Better Life we both immediately purchased some of their products. Everything is made from safe ingredients (seriously, the guy who created it sprayed it in his mouth) so you don't have to worry about harming your kids, pets, or the environment! While I mainly use this for the kitchen, it's an all-purpose spray you can use nearly anywhere. It definitely does a good a job and smells nice, too. I've also tried their "Even the Kitchen Sink" kitchen and bath scrubber, but I hate to admit I wasn't as impressed with it as the What-Ever spray. You can find their products at Crate and Barrel, or order via the Better Life website.



PACKiT freezable lunch bag
Whether you're packing your kid a lunch for a day out or to go to daycare, this is a great bag to keep food cold and not waste brown paper bags, plus you don't have to worry about using cooler packs. You just pop the bag in the freezer, and the gel liner inside the bag freezes and keeps everything nice and cold for up to 10 hours. The bag is made from food-safe material and it's PVC, BPA, phthalate and lead-free. F-yeah! It also has a trusty little buckle handle on the top so you can attach it to a stroller or bag. I got mine at Hallmark a few years ago, but they sell them at stores like Bed Bath & Beyond, Kohl's and many others.



Honest Company hand sanitizer spray
I'll admit, I'm kind of obsessed with sanitizer, especially during the winter months. However, I have an issue with the ingredients in most sanitizers, which sent me on a search for a more natural product. After trying out a lavender scented spray at Whole Foods last year (wasn't crazy about the smell) I picked this up at Target and it's become my go-to sanitizer. It's free of parabens and all the scary stuff, the scent is really light and subtle, plus the spray just works so much better for me. Don't you hate pouring out sticky, goopy sanitizer and then your hands feel wet for ages afterward? This dries super quickly so it eliminates that problem, plus I feel like I use way less because the spray method is more effective. You can get a bundle of two for $5.95 on the The Honest Company website, but it's easier for me to just grab one at Target when I run out.



Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Try-It Tuesday: Nutella Banana Bread


I've had a love affair with Nutella ever since I studied abroad in London many moons ago and had my first Nutella and banana crepe. They used to have the best crepe stand by our tube station ... sigh. But I digress. Nutella is one of those staples that I always, always have in my house (thank you, Costco) and I rarely turn down a Nutella-related recipe. 

That being said, I rarely bake unless it's a holiday or special event, unless the mood strikes me for some reason. But, since we started the blog, I've been taking one for the team and trying more recipes. See what I do for you F'ers? :) 

A few weeks ago, I needed a recipe for banana bread, since I'd decided to make it for brunch at our friend's house. When I came across this Nutella banana bread recipe on Pinterest, I thought F-yeah! 

(Recipe from Chef in Training)

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups flour
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1¼ cup mashed ripe bananas
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ⅓ cup milk
  • ¾ cup Nutella

Steps:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Spray 9×5-inch loaf pan with nonstick spray. 
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda & salt.
  • In a separate large bowl, cream sugar and butter together. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each egg is added. Add mashed bananas, milk and vanilla and beat until well combined. Add flour mixture, beat at low speed just until flour is incorporated.
  • Scoop the Nutella into a small bowl or microwave-safe measuring cup and microwave for 15 seconds. Stir to evenly mix heated Nutella. Add 1 cup of the banana bread batter to the Nutella and stir until well mixed.
  • Spoon Nutella batter into the pan, then a layer of plain banana bread batter, alternating the batters as you go. Swirl batters together with a knife and don't assume it will look like a perfectly swirled bread you see in a cookbook. (See photo below)
  • Bake 50 to 60 minutes* Cool in pan for at least 15 minutes and then remove loaf from pan and place on a wire rack to cool completely. 
*While the original recipe said 50-60 minutes, I baked mine for 60 and it still wasn't done. It ended up being more like an hour and 10 minutes, so check yours often, I'm sure it varies depending on the oven. 

This was the only picture I managed to take ...
probably because I was too busy getting Nutella out of my hair.

The verdict: F-Yeah!
While this made a MESS, as you can tell from the picture, I would still make it again. The recipe wasn't overly complicated for a non-baker, although the Nutella didn't add as much flavor as I'd hoped to the recipe. Either way, it was a yummy enough brunch treat. 
Monday, April 20, 2015

Momma Mondays: Toddler-Approved TV


If you're like us, you probably had grand aspirations when it came to TV time and your kid. "He's definitely not watching any TV until he's older," we'd say. And then we realized we needed to get some F'ing work done.

Now it's not like our kids watch TV 24-7, but a few shows a day isn't really going to hurt anyone. We tried to narrow it down to our top five, but said F-it and included a sixth! Here are a few of their favorites:

Thomas and Friends
Maybe it's the accents, maybe it's the blinking faces on trains. Whatever it is, this show is a favorite with our kids. Each show has a song and some 'real-life' train action that captivates kids much to our dismay. If you want your kid to get hooked on a show that has licensed products galore, this is where it's at.

Sesame Street
We loved it as kids and we can still love it as adults thanks to the incorporation of people we like (Bruno Mars, Andy Cohen, etc.) that are not Elmo. Not only is it educational, but it's entertaining even for parents. This is the lesser of all evils as far as children's shows go in our honest opinion.

Fireman Sam
This is an Amazon show that my kid loves. There's a ton of fire trucks and ladders to keep him occupied for hours. Give it a shot if your kid loves trucks, sirens, flashing lights, etc.

Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood
At first you might wonder what the F is going on, because it's like a cartoon version of Mr. Rogers. But then your kid will be so quiet you'll be yelling, God bless you, Daniel Tiger!! He's a little whiney, but not in the Caillou sort of way, so it's manageable. Bonus: They might even want to go to the potty after watching the one episode about it. Downside: You'll be singing, "If you have to go potty, STOP and go right away! Flush and wash and be on your way!"

Sofia the First
This is Kristin's personal favorite kid's show, but unfortunately A's Sofia kick seems to be over and is replaced with Daniel. Princesses like Aurora and Mulan and Jasmine show up magically! Tim Gunn is the royal steward and every so often slips in a "make it work" reference! I was more excited about the Tiana Christmas episode than most children. You go, Sofia.

Bubble Guppies
This show raises a lot of questions. Like, how is it raining underwater? And how do they have airplanes? Whatever, because kids love this stuff and it's actually educational - whether it's an episode about instruments in an orchestra or how bees make honey. The songs really are pretty catchy, so don't be surprised if they're stuck in your F'ing head all day. "Super, super supermarket!"

Any other shows we should check out? Did we miss any of your favorites?
Friday, April 17, 2015

Friday's Fab Finds

It's Friday, and you know what that means: Fab Finds time! Check out some of the things we're into this week:


Lori's picks:


Jack Daniel's Pulled Chicken
When I saw this at Costco and I saw "Fully Cooked" and "Just heat & serve" it's like the heavens opened up and the angels sang. These people really get me. The Costco package has 3 bags of pulled chicken for around $10. You can either heat them all up together in the handy dandy provided tray or heat individually. I heated one and it was more than enough for dinner for my husband, son and I. It has a long shelf life which is nice so I have 2 more guaranteed meals ... at least until June 5 when it expires. Kristin bought some on her last Costco trip and reported a similar "F-yeah" reaction!





Garnier Moisture Rescue Gel Cream

This is a not-so-fab find. While I liked the idea of the gel moisturizer, this one just didn't do it for me. It moisturizes well, but the glass container it's in isn't conducive to a clumsy person like myself. Fumbling around with a jar fresh out of the shower is just an accident waiting to happen. I also am a minimalist when it comes to my morning routine so the fact that this doesn't have SPF in it makes it not so fab. I think that if i refrigerated this for the summer and got sunburned it would feel great.
Manayunk Calligraphy's Hamsa Home Blessing

I stumbled into Manayunk Calligraphy at a Farmer's Market in Philly last year and thought their stuff was just the cutest. I never really had an occasion to buy anything until recently when my best friend bought a new house and I saw this home blessing print. I wanted a keepsake that they could have if they ever moved in the future that had their address, but would be a nice addition to their new home decor. I've never heard of this home blessing before but if you read it, it's beautiful.

May you always be blessed with walls for the wind, a roof for the rain, a warm cup of tea by the fire, laughter to cheer you, those who love you near you and all that your heart might desire. 

I contacted Kim at Manayunk Calligraphy and asked if she could personalize it with the family's name and new home address and she said no problem. A few short weeks later, a perfectly packaged personalized print arrived in my mailbox and was ready to frame. To be honest, I wasn't exactly sure what I was going to get but if you look at her Etsy page I was practically guaranteed something f-ing jaw-dropping. If you're looking for a truly unique gift or print for your own home, check out Manayunk Calligraphy's Etsy page and don't be afraid to contact Kim with any ideas you may have because I bet she'll create something gorgeous.

Frame from Homegoods

Kristin's picks:


Mario Bedescu Drying Cream
I've been a devotee of this cream for about two years or so, and it's the one thing I'll probably keep buying as long as they make it. Today I had the realization I probably need to suck it up and buy a new container soon ... as you can see, I definitely am down to the bottom! I've had problem skin since I was a teenager, but in my late 20s/early 30s it actually got worse. Let's not even talk about pregnancy, because I might cry thinking about my pizza face. A minuscule amount of this cream goes a long way to shrink a zit - seriously, the current jar I'm using I've had for probably close to nine months. I buy mine from Nordstrom ($17) but you can find a huge selection on the Mario Bedescu site, and they'll even send you free samples.




Old Navy Active Patterned Compression Capris
I was on the lookout for a pair of workout capris that don't cost an arm and a leg (looking at you, Lululemon) and since my husband has had luck lately with the active line at Old Navy, I figured I'd give it a go. I'm loving these capris. The fit is great, and the material is a decent quality, which I can't say for the workout clothing at Target. You can't beat that for $26.94 (I had a $10 off coupon, so they were even less!) These come in loads of colors so I'm sure down the road I'll be grabbing a second pair. I stuck with basic black since they match with everything, but they do have a cool monochrome pattern on them.



Costco daisies:

We picked these flowers up the day before Easter, and two weeks later they're still going strong. I actually don't even know how much they cost, but it was obviously worth it since most of my flowers are dead within a week. This was my first time getting flowers from Costco and I'll definitely do it again. Once again, Costco for the win!



Have a great weekend, and stay tuned because we'll have a special spring reading post and more fun stuff next week!









Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Try-it Tuesday: Cheesy Cauliflower Bake


If you're looking to try a new side or are a vegetarian looking for a new main dish (sans bacon of course), look no further. Ever since I was pregnant with my son I've been extra cautious of my carb intake due to a diagnosis of gestational diabetes so when I saw this recipe floating around on Facebook, I decided to give it a shot.

The original recipe can be found here but here is the F-it version! I'd like to preface this by saying that I was going to stop at a 'regular' grocery store but had to go to Target before which is why it looks like it's a post sponsored by Target (much to F-it's dismay, it's not). Also if I can get around cutting cauliflower or cooking bacon, I'm f-ing doing it which explains the adjustments to the ingredient list.

Ingredients:

2 - 12 oz. bags frozen cut cauliflower
1 cup reduced fat mild cheddar cheese
8 oz reduced fat cream cheese (aka neufchatel cheese)
6 strips fully cooked bacon (i bought the whole box but only used 6 strips)
1 bunch scallions/green onions
Smart balance (in place of butter)



Directions:

  • Cook cauliflower according to package and drain
  • Mash together cauliflower, cream cheese and butter in a bowl. Cauliflower will be hot so it will melt cheese and butter. You can decide whether you want this chunky or smooth depending on your taste.
  • Spread in a dish and sprinkle with cheese (you can use as much or as little as you want), bacon and scallions 
  • Cook uncovered at 350 degrees for approximately 30 minutes
Mashing the cauliflower, cream cheese and butter together

Spreading out the cauliflower mash. I kept mine pretty chunky.

Ready to go in the oven. While I was making this it reminded me of a baked potato, which kind of makes sense since they have those 'cauliflower as mashed potato' recipes everywhere now



Tips:
  • I would definitely make this again but would buy real bacon bits. Who has time to cut the precooked bacon? Not me.
  • Next time I might use 3 bags of cauliflower to cut the creaminess down and have plenty for leftovers
  • If you buy precooked bacon, I wouldn't even bother microwaving it. It'll heat up in the oven anyway so just cut or rip it and throw it on top.
  • To bring this to a new lazy level, use a disposable dish for virtually zero clean up. I'm definitely doing this next time.
  • This was the perfect amount as a side for 4 people. If you want a hearty vegetarian main dish, this would be great for 2 people.

Verdict:

F-YEAH! While I realize this may not be the healthiest recipe, it's f-ing good so give it a shot. And there's cauliflower in it so it totally counts as a vegetable side.







Friday, April 10, 2015

Friday's Fab Finds



After the craziness of Easter (seriously, no more candy in our houses EVER again) we're ready to TGIF-it! As always, here are some of our favorites this week:

Lori's picks:


Zing Zang Bloody Mary Mix
Always on the hunt for a good bloody mary mix, I have found the holy grail. Ironically, I stumbled across this one at a 1st birthday party and haven't looked back. I looked up their website and was about to order a case online but held off because the shipping costs were astronomical. I'm glad I did because when I was in Target, they had it. For less than $5 you can mix up your own bloodies and add whatever accouterments you f-ing feel like. I like bacon, pickles, olives and shrimp. Not necessarily all at once, but far be it from me to judge you if you had a small salad hanging off your glass. My husband and I have Sunday Bloody Sundays and this takes the guesswork out of what mix to buy every week or *gasp* resort to making my own. F-ing phenomenal. Check their website and there's a store locator to find out what places near you carry Zing Zang. Make sure you get a few bottles so you never find yourself without.

Homegoods Print
For $16.99 I have some new love for my walls. Cheaper than a frame this size, this is a great find. I'm somewhat of a Homegoods whore so if there's one near me, chances are I'm going in it. Granted this is usually a sweatfest since my kid isn't much of a shopper, but I can tell you that every Homegoods store in the tristate area I've been in in the past few months have had adorable framed prints similar to this one.


8 Minutes on A&E
I'm obsessed with the show Intervention so when the good people of A&E put out another reality show, I'm definitely dvr'ing it. In the past 2 years, my TV watching has took a turn for the worst but I manage to keep the regulars in my rotation (The Bachelor, Big Brother, etc.). Every once in a while I add a new favorite to my arsenal and 8 Minutes has officially been added to the series recording list on my DVR. If you haven't heard or seen it, it's about an ex-police officer, Kevin who just also happens to be a pastor. He works with a team of sex trafficking advocates (ex-victims) to find women they feel are in need of help and guidance to get out of "the life." They give themselves 8 Minutes to try and convince the woman that there is a way out and that they're there to help.  If you like this kind of show, watch. This show is eye-opening, fascinating, sad and hopeful. Basically everything The Bachelor is but in a much different sense.


Kristin's picks:


Honest Kids Organic Super Fruit Punch
I'll be "honest" (ha ha) about this juice: I totally buy it for myself, not my kid. I like to use it in my chia drinks! It has a very light fruit flavor, and doesn't taste super sugary like most juices because it's only sweetened with fruit, not sugar. I get mine at Wegmans or Target but I'm sure you can find it at most grocery stores.


KitchenArt Adjustable Measuring Spoon
I don't know how this happened, and I'd love for someone to explain it, but all of my measuring spoons disappeared. Like, socks? Okay, I kind of get it. But measuring spoons? What the F. I headed to Bed, Bath & Beyond to get another set and discovered this gem. You just slide the little guide on the top to adjust the spoon to the measurement you need, so you only need one spoon instead of five or whatever. Not only does it save space, it saves on doing dishes! I've been doing more baking/cooking than usual lately - thank you, Try-it Tuesday - so this has seen a ton of use.



MUA Heaven and Earth Palette
This has been my go-to eyeshadow palette for about two years now ever since my friend Lizzie in England sent me a few different MUA kits. Heaven and Earth is a fraction of the Naked palette's cost at just £4 (about $5.86), and I've found the shadows are super long-lasting and highly pigmented. Unfortunately you can't get them in America, and Superdrug (UK drugstore) doesn't ship to the States. I just recently found out you can buy MUA palettes online from Crush Cosmetics, an Australian site that features global beauty brands. For $7.99 plus $10 international shipping, it's not a bad deal ... and unless you have a trip abroad planned or a friend in the UK, it's probably the only way you'll get one.






Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Try-It Tuesday: One Pot Garlic Parmesan Pasta



Our friend Michelle told Lori about this recipe last week, and I happened to be looking for a meat-free dish to make on Good Friday, so it was perfect timing. Thanks, Michelle! I was excited for myriad reasons, one of them being I'm ALL ABOUT the one-pot meal. First of all, I'm lazy and don't want to clean four thousand dishes. I'm also not the world's best chef, and I have a two-year-old running around that makes it extremely difficult to concentrate on a complicated recipe. Making things as easy as possible is key when it comes to dinner, so the first time I tried a one-pot creation I was sold.

That being said, I'm pretty sure it would be nearly impossible to F-up this meal, unless you forgot it was cooking or didn't set the timer. My kind of recipe! It tastes like fettuccine alfredo, but not as heavy and unhealthy.




Recipe from Damn Delicious

Ingredients:

1 TBSP olive oil
4 cloves minced garlic
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup milk
2 TBSP unsalted butter
8 oz uncooked fettuccine (I used angel hair because we didn't have fettuccine ... and I wasn't going to the F'ing store)
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (The original recipe says "Freshly grated." I used the stuff in the can. Ain't nobody got time for that)
2 TBSP chopped fresh parsley leaves (I didn't bother with this)


Steps:

So this is ridiculously simple:

  • Pour the olive oil into the pan and let it heat up for a bit. Or like, 5 seconds if you're me.
  • Add garlic and let it cook for about 1-2 minutes, stirring frequently
  • Dump all of the rest of the ingredients, except for the parmesan cheese, into the pan. Seriously ... all of it. You might have to break the pasta in half to fit in the pan.
  • Cook it for 18-20 minutes, then pour cheese on top. DONE. No straining required! 


The verdict: F-YEAH! 

This was quick, easy and affordable, plus there was hardly any cleanup required ... and it was definitely toddler-approved. "Noodles!" The only downside is I didn't think it was super filling, probably due to the lack of meat in it. It ticked all the boxes for a meatless dinner, though. Next time, I'll serve this with a rotisserie chicken for a super easy weeknight meal.
Monday, April 6, 2015

Momma Mondays: Feeding your little F-ers


If you have a kid, are having one, are babysitting or are passing one on the street, we have compiled a list of some foods and snacks that our F'ers love.

Dr. Praeger's Spinach Cakes
For a quick lunch, dinner or snack, I just grab one of these from the fridge, lovingly prepare microwave it for 1:30, and then cut it up and my son goes to town. It's hearty enough that it fills him up, has vegetables in it so it's fairly healthy (hey, I could be flying through the Mickey D's drive-thru!), and I don't have to cook it. Although I don't eat these myself, I've tasted them and they are delicious.

Cheerios
Duh. An old standby that have probably been around longer dirt. I bring these up because I know you're probably sitting there with those empty plastic canisters of puffs surrounding you. Yes, I bought them too so I definitely can't judge. But I'm here to share wisdom that was passed down to me by a veteran momma (hi Amy!) which was just give those little f-ers Cheerios. You can get a lifetime supply for about 1/1000000 the price of those glorified Cheerios. And less waste. Because we know our little f-ers fly through puffs like it's their job and you're left in a room surrounded by puffs containers.

Snapea Crisps
I stumbled across these because another kid at the library had these one day. We all know how that goes. I'm far from a nutritional expert but these have the word PEAS in their name so they have to be somewhat healthy. Right?

Belvita Bites
Regular chocolate Belvitas are pretty satisfying so I figured the miniature version would be as well. The 'bites' come in chocolate and mixed berry. I've only tried the chocolate because why would you choose berry when you can have chocolate? ANYWHO, these f-ers are an awesome on-the-go snack. Besides being adorable, there are a ton of little bites in each packet. Your kid will definitely think they're getting 'cookies' and not a semi-healthy chocolate snack.

Chobani Kids Greek Yogurt Tubes *frozen*
I hate yogurt. I take that back. I hate feeding it to my kid because it just makes one big f-ing mess. You're one hand slap away from having that sh*t everywhere. On my hands, on his hands, on the floor, in his hair. No bueno. Well, when I saw these little tubes I decided to give it a shot. The flavors are geared toward children (I got the grape and watermelon pack) and it was a Target cartwheel item so I went for it. I gave Nolan a watermelon one as soon as we got home and he liked it. I wouldn't say he loved it. I tried it and the flavor wasn't overpowering or fake tasting so if you're worried about that, don't be. Next time I was in the fridge, I noticed on the box that it says clear as day that they are FREEZABLE. It was like a lightbulb went off in my head. I froze the rest of the box and have been giving it to him for lunch as a 'side' and he loves them. I guess everything's better frozen!

*tip* If you do end up trying these and freezing them, make sure all yogurt is pushed down away from the 'tear here' end. When you take it out and try to tear it, it's near impossible if all the frozen yogurt is shoved up near the end.

*last tip* Refer to the frozen yogurt tubes as ice cream and watch your kid act like he's pulled one over on you. Joke's on them! Use as bribes, rewards, etc.



Annie's Bunnies (crackers or fruit snacks)
If I had a dollar for every time I heard "BUNNIES!"I'd be F'ing rich! The individual packets of crackers are the way to go, perfect to throw in your purse or diaper bag in case of meltdown. The fruit snacks are more of the occasional treat since the dentist wasn't a fan, but these things are like crack for kids. And since they're organic, they've got to be better than the high fructose corn syrup kind, right?

Friday, April 3, 2015

Friday's Fab Finds: Easter Edition


It's Good Friday and we're being crafty mother F'ers this afternoon in preparation for Sunday!

Personalized Easter Buckets


Lori ordered a personalized Easter bucket on the Mark and Graham website and (in her words) had a "severe lapse in judgement" since it cost $45.31 with the shipping, etc. Luckily, they contacted her and said the buckets were out of stock, and she got the idea to make one herself instead.

I spotted these buckets at our beloved Target for $5, plus I had a 5% off Cartwheel coupon, so it was game on!


One of Lori's Instagram followers, aNn_Monograms, has an Etsy shop and makes the cutest monogram decals, so Lori contacted her about making a bunny/name decal to get a similar look to the Mark and Graham style. We were super excited to get them, and she even offered two different font options (we used the extra names on sippy cups). All for six bucks! Thanks, Ashley - we'll be back so we can monogram anything that isn't moving!

We sat down to make the buckets after an unsuccessful attempt at the Chick-Fil-A playground today (don't ask) and found it to be a super easy project, if not slightly challenging with two toddlers who keep stealing the buckets ... and if you spill a glass of water all over the table in the middle of doing it. Hey, I never claimed to be coordinated.


We gathered our decals, buckets and a credit card to get the air bubbles out of the decals. Application was really easy and quick. If you end up making a basket similar or want to personalize anything, Ashley sends detailed instructions, but just think of it like a temporary tattoo minus the water. Even the most craft-challenged people can make something look like you paid $45 f-ing dollars for it. Start to finish the entire decal application took probably 4 minutes.

Easter Tablecloth and Bunting

Two more Tar-jhay finds! (Really, we do shop in other stores .... I swear). The tablecloth is the vinyl kind, so it's super easy to wipe clean, aka toddler friendly. Plus it's only $4.99! And the bunting ($6.99) is made from a nice fabric and definitely looks more expensive than your regular old Target decoration.




Don't forget about our Easter desserts -- who can resist Peeps Krispies Treats? Happy Easter, everyone!




Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Guest Post: Cha Cha Cha Chia (and Why You Should Try It)


Today one of our good friends, Dana, is here at F-it to share her love for chia! I'll admit I'd never even heard of eating chia seeds until Lori made me a chia drink one day. Normally I'm weird with texture, but I thought it tasted kind of like bubble tea, plus chia is super healthy for you ... so why the F not? I got a huge bag of chia seeds at Costco and now I'm all about the chia, too.

Take it away, D! 




Hello, my name is Dana and I'm addicted to Chia! 

As a child of the 80s, I would have never thought that I would ever want to consume the seeds that are spread on the top of a terracotta animal statue.  But sure enough, I do and weekly for that matter.

It all started when my sister and I were training for a half marathon. We had just completed a long run, and she informed me that she needed to stop at Whole Foods on the way home. All I could think about was how thirsty I was. She agreed to buy me a drink to hold me over (I had no cash with me). So I picked up a Mamma Chia drink and F-it, I went for it. The texture was so strange - kind of like watery jello with seeds, but I really liked the flavor, and then about 15 minutes later, I loved the way I felt! My energy levels went up! It didn't necessarily quench my thirst, but it was enough to hold me over until I got a glass of water.

I decided to read into the benefits of chia and found that they are "filled with two times more protein than most grains and five times more calcium than milk. Plus, it has of high levels of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, soluble fiber, potassium and antioxidants." (http://www.mensfitness.com/nutrition/what-to-eat/fit-food-the-benefits-of-chia-seeds). So...consuming chia became a weekly thing.  My sister even bought me a case of Mamma Chia for my birthday.

Since then, Lori sent me a video on how to make your own chia drinks and it's so easy! You simply put 1 to 3 tablespoons of chia seeds into 1 cup of water and let it sit for at least an hour. When the water is cool, add another cup of your favorite juice, stir and then it's ready! I've also experimented with chia puddings,which I found on the beloved Pinterest. I found that if the ingredients that you are using are too wet, then the pudding doesn't solidify. As a solution, I would just put the portion that I was going to eat in the freezer for about 20 minutes before eating, so the consistency is less "soupy".

Now it has never happened to me but be careful using chia seeds and never eat them dry. They expand when wet and could cause choking.


Raspberry Lemon Chia Pudding Recipe (From The Healthy Maven)

Ingredients:
  • 2 cups milk or coconut milk
  • 4 1/2 T chia seeds
  • Zest and juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup raspberries (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 T honey (or agave or maple syrup)
Steps:
  1. Combine all ingredients in a large, sealable container. Make sure all chia seeds are mixed in.
  2. Let sit overnight or for at least 8 hours.
  3. Serve cold with toppings of choice.