Saturday, June 1, 2013

Super Easy Healthy Guilt Free Stir Fry!

Okay, so I don't have action shots on this one, cause I didn't plan on sharing it.  But it was so darn yummy!  And easy! And guilt free!


That stuff, plus salt and pepper, powdered ginger, and just a bit of olive oil and chicken broth. 

1) heat 1t. olive or coconut oil to medium high in skillet
2) sauté thawed chicken (I had 4oz) 1 minute to quick sear
3) add 2cups veggies, sauté 2-3 minutes, add 1T. garlic, 1/2t. ginger, then 3T. chicken broth, s&p and 1/2t. liquid aminos (or soy sauce if you don't have the aminos.)
4) cook, stirring, 1-2 minutes or so until liquid is absorbed.  Season more to taste.
5) serve hot and be awesome.  

Serve over rice to make it into 2 meals. 

Nutritional info: (total calories 211!!!)

4 hours later and I'm still full!  That's a winner.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Cocoa Loco - Homemade Salted Dark Chocolate with Peanuts - with no fake stuff in there

Alrighty, this is my go-to sweet treat when I'm craving something chocolate (or something rotten for me).  I can whip up a batch of this treat in about 15 minutes, and it's ready in another 20 or so, and give me servings for 2 weeks or more.  I found a basic version of this a few years back (usually called 'Cocoa Crack' - it's popular with people doing Paleo or HCG) it was very different though, and I've modified this one over time to taste.
I'm calling it 'Cocoa Loco!!!!' although it's not realllllly crazy.  But it rhymes, and it gets me away from having to discuss the addictive properties of 'crack' with my kids. ;) 

To note: this is not going to taste like a Reece's peanut butter cup; cause it's not full of sugar and fake stuff that make those taste awesome.  It is going to taste more like a semi-sweet dark chocolate bar (maybe 70% dark), very yummy, but it won't fake people out who want to eat a yummy junk bar.  My hubby and kids do NOT like dark chocolate, which if fine by me, cause I don't have to share. :)
Cocoa Crack

Cocoa Loco
Ingredients - Makes 12 servings (or more if you have more self-control...)
  • 2/3c. Coconut Oil
  • 2/3c. Unsweetened Cocoa Powder (I'm using Ghiradelli now, but Hershey's or Nestle work too).
  • 10 packets Stevia (or stevia drops, to taste) (you could sub out the sweetener of your choice here)
  • 1/4c-1/2c.  Half and Half (or less, to taste)
  • 1/4 t. Vanilla (I like Mexican vanilla)
  • 1/3c Unsalted Dry Roasted Peanuts -optional - can substitute cashews, almonds, etc or have it without nuts
  • Sea Salt or Kosher Salt - Optional, to taste
    Cocoa Crack

    1. Lightly brush a silicone tray or dish with coconut oil (I use a 6-cup muffin tray)
    2. Measure coconut oil into microwavable dish, heat 30 seconds to liquify and warm
    3. While warm, whisk in cocoa powder until thoroughly mixed
      Cocoa Crack
    4. Immediately begin whisking in half and half; blending thoroughly to emulsify 
    5. Add vanilla, and stevia to taste.
      Cocoa Crack
      It will begin to thicken
    6. Crush Peanuts.  I like to put them in a bag and bash them with a measuring cup. lol
      Cocoa Crack
    7. Add a layer of the Cocoa Mix to the bottom of the cups, then divide the peanuts and sprinkle on top.
      Cocoa Loco
    8. Cover with remaining Cocoa.  Sprinkle sea salt on top (optional)
      Cocoa Crack
    9. Chill in the freezer 20+ minutes until soft-set, then remove and slice it into portions (this will be much harder when it is completely frozen firm).  Store in the freezer in ziploc bags or a sealed container.  It keeps for several weeks, at least.  You'll want to keep it cold until you eat it, because the coconut oil will soften and melt at room temperature. It will 'melt in your hands'.

      Variations: no nuts, more nuts, a few drops of flavored extract (orange is good, raspberry would be also, etc.), more half and half (gives it a creamier texture more like milk chocolate), less half and half (gives it more of a dark chocolate flavor), add dried fruit, etc.

      Here are the nutritional facts for it (made as recipe directs, above), divided into 12 servings.  This is obviously not a 'health food', as it has 20 grams of fat, but it is GOOD fat as compared to what is in most generic off-the-shelf snacks.  Having total control over your recipe helps too.  Just don't eat too many at once, or at least don't blame me. lol.
      Right now I'm doing a 2-week sugar detox (day 4, yay!) and I like having the option to have one of these little babies in the evening when I need a fix.

Friday, March 29, 2013

The Hair

While searching for pics on Pinterest of what to do next with my hair, I realized I should probably put a few of my own recent hair photos up; since I frequently get compliments about it.  I figure if I'm looking for ideas about new styles, someone else might possibly be inspired by mine.  :)

November 2012

I do my own color.  The grey streak is natural, it's scattered throughout, but is most concentrated on the right side so I just pull out that section when I color to let it stay natural.  The rest of my hair (dark brown) is the natural color, but I do give it a temp color every few months just to even out the greys.

January 2012 - curly!

The red streak is achieved by bleaching the tar out of it. lol.  Seriously though, I let it sit 1-2 hours the first time to reallly get it white so the red can be truly vivid.  My hair is great with this color, I only have to touch it up every 6 weeks or so.  I will just add the red back over my roots and the streak and let it sit a good hour.  Then, ever 2-3 months (the next time) I will bleach the roots again when I do it.  The first time I used 'Splat' luscious raspberries (2 in 1 kit) with great success - only $12 or so from the drug store.  For re-dyes, I use 'Manic Panic' vampire red (Sally beauty supply).  They are both very close in color. 

December 2011 - right  before I cut it

December 2011 - just after a fresh cut
I'm fortunate that I don't have to wash my hair more than 2x a week; I can get a good 3 days out of a blow-out, and wear it curly 1-2 days after a shower as well.  Then I'll add a hat or ponytail.  Since my job is so casual, I have to admit I have a ponytail at least 3 days per week.  I just don't need hair in my face when I have paint all over my hands! :)   Everyone is shocked when I tell them how long my color lasts - even the people at Toni & Guy were asking about it! lol.  I know the color could probably be way better if done by a professional, but I can't afford that.  $5/month to do it myself is good for me.

Here is my hair board on Pinterest with ideas about what to do next!  I'm REALLLLY wanting to go for it with the whole head, just even for once, to try it.  We will see if I get the guts.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

What to Do! Entertainment Tips for Great Wolf Lodge: Part 3 of 3 posts

I'm totally kicking myself, somehow I deleted ALL of the content I wrote for this in November (but never published it as I was waiting to add the photos).  I don't have time for it right now, but I am going to upload all of the pricing menus I took for the activities, so you can plan ahead and know how much you want to spend.

Several of my friends SWEAR by the 'Paw Pass', but I looked and decided we didn't need that, so we just could pick and choose from what we felt was important.


playing magiquest, you log in at the trees for your next 'mission'!

Magiquest accessories, costume, gift shop, etc.

Lazer Tag / Arcade / Creative Center Room /Movies:
cute creative center on bottom level

photo options for getting pics from the waterslides

Arcade pricing

"Creation Station" (Build a Bear type activity):

Gift Shop: Budget Friendly wolves and other mini animals are only $6-10.  MUCH cheaper than the build-your-own variety, and more cuddly too!

Beauty Salon was VERY expensive!!!

Hallway photo booth was less than $5 for an old-school black and white strip.  Coloring posters are FREE in the upstairs hallways; I suggest you bring markers or crayons from home to color in the rooms:

Thrifty Tips & What to Eat for a family night at Great Wolf Lodge (part 2 of 3)

Okay, Okay, I know 'thrifty' and 'Great Wolf Lodge' shouldn't necessarily be used in the same sentence, but I'm happy to report that our family made a great 2-day (one-night) stay full of fun, with only about $68 total spent at the hotel over the cost of the room.  Here is how.

(Disclaimer: We are a pretty simple family, we do not do 'fancy' things as we live on a pretty strict budget.  My kids delight in the little things, so ANY treat to them is a blessing.  We told them we would spend a family day together, and asked them what they wanted to do for fun, and they told us they wanted to 'have a family night with board games and hot cocoa in our jammies'.  Needless to say when we surprised them (at the hotel upon arrival) with the trip they were in shock, and very exuberant about it.   The hotel and waterpark itself was the treat, so they knew not to demand to do everysinglethingtheysaw.  We just don't raise them like that.  If you have 'I want that!!! Giveittome' (VerucaSaltTypeChildren) I don't suggest you go there unless you want to spend a minimum of $200 per each kid during your one-night stay.  If you have 'JustHappyToBeHere' (Charlie Bucket type kids) then this guide will help you.)  

Thrifty Tips for Great Wolf Lodge (Grapevine, Texas)

First, watch for sales on room rates.  I hear off-season (Fall to Winter) is generally cheaper, as well as mid-week; and sites like Living Social occasionally offer deals.  The lowest deal I saw was $169 for the hotel charge per night (plus hotel taxes and resort fees).

Here's the big way to save (and this is an easy one): Bring your own food and treats! (duh).
Before the trip, we hit the store for some special meals and snacks that we don't normally buy; this was how we ate for both days, without splurging at the restaurants, and everyone still felt like it was special.  You have a microwave and decent sized mini fridge in room, which was great.  Here are some things we took:
-Salads (pre-packaged at the deli)
-Individual gourmet, heat and serve soups (nuke it and done)
-Fried Rice, Eggrolls, and Chinese food entrees (frozen), as well as steam-in-bag Edamame.  Sushi would have been a great idea too!
-TV dinners.  My kids think these are a treat, and everyone eats what they want! :)
-Snacks: Trail mix, Pringles, Gourmet Gummi Bears, Yogurt Pretzels, etc.
-Fruit!  Fresh fruit, as well as mini containers of mandarin oranges
-Breakfast: Yogurts, fresh fruit, Juice, and Mini Muffins (or donuts)
-Hot Cocoa treats!  Add marshmallows, caramels, peppermint, etc. to make it special.  We let our kids take their hot chocolate down to listen to stories in the lobby at 8.
-A meat/cheese/veggie tray would have been a great choice too, with crackers.
-Drinks: Bring water, plenty of juices, etc.
-Make sure to pack plates, napkins, flatware, etc.!  I should have brought salt and pepper too.
-Something fun like frozen cream puffs would be a good idea for next time.

We did eat lunch before our 1pm arrival the first day, and on the second day we got a 2-topping family pizza from the Take-out restaurant in the Sweet Shop for $11.99!  It was BIG, plenty for the 4 of us.  It was good pizza too for the price.  The only other treats we bought were Dippin' Dots ($4 each cup) since my kids had never had them.  Oh, and Mommy needed good coffee to have enough steam for all the stairs in the waterpark, so she got a Starbucks brew.... refills are only .76 when you bring back your cup!

This is the pizza deal (menu and the size of it):

This is your ginormous posting of the cell phone shots I snapped of all the menus I could find, as I could not find these online.  I heard that if you book your breakfast in advance with the room it is a better deal.

Waterpark food stand

waterpark food stand

downstairs hallway vending machine

downstairs hall vending machine

Sweet Shop menu

sweet shop

sweet shop - some of the pastries, most probably 3-5$ each

sweet shop menu part 2

sweet shop candy bar

restaurant on main floor (I think)

restaurant on main floor

restaurant on main floor menu pic 2

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Things to Bring for a stay at Great Wolf Lodge (part 1 of 3)

I like to think of myself as a thorough packer, and I plan ahead for stuff (Girl Scout Style). :)  I was very happy with a few things I brought, but was left wishing I had a few key things more.  Here are my tips.

Definitely Bring:
-Snacks!  Drinks!  Other Food Stuffs (see my thrifty tips post for more ideas)
-Multiple Swimsuits for each person (in case they've grown out of one, or want a dry one to change into for another round at the water park).
-Swimsuit coverups (I like to wear a sarong, but quick-dry shorts, tanks, etc. are good).  Seriously, do not be THOSE people who let their kid walk all over the hotel barefoot in a bikini.
-Flip Flops for everyone, or, even better, Aqua Socks/Water shoes!  Let's face it, aqua socks are not really cute, but if it means you don't have to share toe germs with every other person on the stairs or in the walkways or bathrooms of the water park, sacrifice fashion and get you some.  We only had flip flops, and I regretted that we had left the watershoes at home.
-Bag of swim suits to change into if you check in before your room is open, to hit the water park.  Leave your valuables in the car, or a locker is $10.
-Nice PJs for your kids if they would like to go to storytime in the lobby at night.  Slippers too!
-Conditioner for your hair (none of this in the sample bottles in the room). Also, pack those Trial sized toiletries in your pool bag to use when you shower to go home (if using the locker room).   Also combs, deodorant, q-tips, etc. that you will need if you shower in the locker room before leaving.
-Plastic bags to bring the wet swimsuits home
-A little cooler to keep drinks and foods on ice if you are packing them

Recommend Other Stuffs to bring:
-Waterproof camera.  Fun for the water park! And you don't have to stress it getting stolen if you leave it in your stuff.  You can even use it in the big blue slide. :)
-Cash to tip at restaurants/Starbucks when you pay with your bracelet.
-Comfy shoes if you are doing Magiquest.  You will be up and down the stairs, and flip flops are LOUD on the concrete stairwell.
- Goggles for your kids for the waterpark if they are fish.  There is a LOT of chlorine in the air there.
-Fuzzy socks.  Okay, we just love fuzzy socks, but don't forget to pack socks for the fam, as that is one thing they do NOT sell at the gift shop.