Monday, October 31, 2011

If you do one thing TODAY...

Throw away (or donate) all your leftover Halloween candy!

That means even your kid's candy too. Sure they might throw a fit. But you're the mom. You make the rules. You know what's best.

It has been said that the average American gains 7 pounds between Halloween and New Years. Don't let those tempting calories linger around. They aren't good for your kid's teeth or your waistline. Have your children pick out five more pieces and then rid the house of the sweets. If it kills you to simply throw it away, most every city has a school or organization that has some type of candy donation. Chase willingly donated his to the Blind Children's Center in our city.

On a side note; I can't believe it's been a year since I started Hailey's Helpful Hints! I set a goal that I would do this for one year and then re-evaluate how much I enjoyed it. Or better yet, how much my reader's enjoy it. I'm happy to report that I'm not going anywhere anytime soon.

Click here to read my Halloween tip from last year. You might be more convinced to toss out the candy once you read how much work it takes to burn off that bite here and nibble there...


Happy Halloween!! The United States might be in a tricky economic situation, but it won't stop Americans from buying vampire fangs or princess tiaras this year. And if the ghosts and goblins aren't scary enough, the health statistics and effects from all that candy might be. Get ready for trick-or-treating with these nuggets of information:

*According to an annual survey done by the National Retail Federation, 7 in 10 Americans will celebrate Halloween in 2011 (the most in the surveys history), and spending will be slightly up. Yes even in the down economy! On average, people will spend $72.31 on costumes, candy, and decorations. Total Halloween spending: $6.9 billion.

*According to CNN; The average household has shelled out $21.05 in Halloween candy alone.

*The U.S. Census Bureau says roughly 41 million children ages 5 to 14 go trick-or-treating each year.

*According to Nielsen Research, approximately $1.9 billion (or 598 million pounds) of candy is sold during the Halloween season in the U.S.

*Chocolate makes up about three-quarters of a trick-or-treater’s loot, according to the National Confectioners Association.

*National Confectioners Association more than 35 million pounds of candy corn will be produced this year: “That equates to nearly 9 billion pieces—enough to circle the moon nearly 21 times if laid end-to-end”

*One serving of Candy Corn (about 30 pieces) has 140 calories, the equivalent of three miniature Hershey bars.

*The average child collects an estimated 3,500 and 7,000 calories on Halloween night, according to Dr. Donna Arnett, chair of the Department of Epidemiology in the University of Alabama at Birmingham's School of Public Health. The estimate was based on nutrition facts of popular Halloween candies.

*A 100-pound child who eats 7,000 calories worth of candy would have to walk for almost 44 hours or play full-court basketball for 14.5 hours to burn those calories, according to Arnett.

*Four out of ten (41%) adults admit that they sneak sweets from their own candy bowl.

*90% of parents admit to sneaking goodies from their kids' Halloween trick-or-treat bags.

*, a Web site that debunks urban legends, has a well-annotated article entitled Halloween Poisonings in which the author finds no evidence of their ever having been a “genuine Halloween poisoning” — one in which a child randomly has been given a cyanide-laced candy or razor-embedded apple while going trick-or-treating. A documented case of a child being poisoned by Halloween candy, on October 31st, 1974 in Houston, Texas, turned out to be a filicide — a father deliberately poisoned his son, and blamed it on Halloween. (He allegedly gave the poisoned candy to other children to cover his tracks, but nobody else fell ill.) Ronald Clark O’Bryan was convicted of the crime of murder and executed. In other words: mom's stop freaking out!

*This from an article last year on CNN: “although some parents may be tempted to space out the amount of candy their children consume after Halloween, dentists have advice to the contrary: When it comes to teeth, it’s better to eat a whole lot of candy at once than to space out candy consumption over time. Basically, the fewer episodes of candy eating, the better. “It makes sense, given that cavities form when bacteria in plaque ferments the sugars in candies and creates acid that attacks the tooth’s surface, says Dr. Clarice Law, assistant professor of dentistry at the University of California-Los Angeles School of Dentistry. “Repeated “attacks” lead to cavities, so eating a bunch of candy — for example, with a meal — and then brushing your teeth is better than spreading that candy out over time. Law doesn’t recommend binging but does advise that children limit their candy-eating episodes.”

Have fun and be safe out there tonight!!

Friday, October 28, 2011

LAST MINUTE: Halloween Dessert Ideas

In case you need some last minute Halloween dessert ideas or are looking to do some fun baking with the kiddos this weekend, you must check out Glorious Treats. Drool.

You can find the recipe for this Candy Corn Cheesecake Mousse here. Enjoy!


Friday already?!?! Thank goodness. My week was filled with nothing but medical crap. From my 6 month old pulling all-nighters because of Croup and countless tests to diagnose a stomach infection that hit me hard last Sunday. Despite the not-so-fun stuff, my fancy was still tickled - aka; to enjoy, adore or be satisfied by.

This week it's LANTERNS.

I was so inspired by the above picture I found on Pinterest. How fabulously simple is that front porch decor using lanterns and candles? Keep the pumpkins through Thanksgiving then swap them out for glittery ball ornaments or pine cones for Christmas and change the candles to red. I'm sold.

Side-note: No, I do not have a personal Pinterest page. I think I might be the only girl on the face of this planet that doesn't. Why you ask? To be honest, I've deliberately stayed away from the monster. Now I know all you Pinners are thinking I'm totally missing out but for my addictive personality, it screams "Stay the hell away!" I'm not saying it won't happen in the future but for now, I'll stick to browsing when I have a free minute.

Ok back to Lanterns...

Having a party? Lanterns are an easy decoration for table centerpieces and add a whimsical, glowing effect when you hang them from tree branches.

To add lanterns to your holiday decor repertoire, you can find the classic set of three at Pottery Barn. The initial purchase will set you back a little money but they are timeless accents that you'll be able to use for years to come.

If you're looking for smaller lanterns and don't want to spend a ton, I noticed on Tuesday that Ikea has out their small tea-light lanterns (available in white, chrome, black and red) for $3.99 in their holiday section.

Thursday, October 27, 2011


If a picture is worth a thousand words, a single color is worth a choice few. Just as red, yellow, and green rule the roadway, a home color-coding system can bring order to your living space wordlessly, providing information at a glance without a miscellany of labels. Put hues to work, whether you are organizing papers, preparing food, or outfitting your entryway. With these bright additions, your living space will be far from drab - and far easier to manage.

Below are just a few places in your home where you could really benefit from a color coding system:

~Welcome Center~
Keeping clutter at bay starts the moment you walk through the door. A coordinated sorting station, with one color assigned to each family member, anchors household activities and the entryway's decor. Squares of Homasote fiberboard become vibrant pin boards when covered with linen fabric, which is secured with staples at the back. Personalized bins, made with linen-wrapped fiberboard that is slipped inside acrylic magazine files, help organize mail and paperwork.

~Spice Labels~
Categorize the array of seasonings in your cupboard into two groups with colored stickers. Spices typically used for sweet recipes, such as cinnamon, are indicated by orange tags; savory flavorings, such as cayenne, are dressed in yellow. Download Martha Stewart's templates here and print onto self-adhesive paper. Attach to matching tins or jars.

~Cutting Boards~
Minimize the risk of cross-contaminating kitchen work surfaces by designating a plastic cutting board in a specific color to a particular type of food: blue for seafood, green for vegetables and fruit, yellow for poultry, and red for other meats.

~Wine Tags~
Handmade labels let you survey your wine collection at a glance, quickly finding just the right bottle. Choose an organizing system, such as the type of wine or the country of origin, and assign a color to each category. Use a tag-shaped craft punch to create the label and a circle punch to cut a hole in its center, or download Marth's wine tag template. Snip a few small slits around the circle. Write the proper vintage, vineyard, and varietal on the tag. Spare labels can double as gift tags.

~Recipe Cards~
An overstuffed recipe box, brimming with generations of family favorites as well as recent additions from friends, can be made far more navigable with stickers affixed to a corner of each card. (This also works on newspaper and magazine clippings.) Select a color to represent a type of dish or a course, perhaps green for vegetable sides and yellow for dessert.

To minimize fumbling at the front door, paint the tops of frequently confused keys with distinctive shades of nail polish. Apply a different color to each key, letting it dry before flipping it to coat the other side. A single layer should suffice - no topcoat required.

~File Folders~
Exchange your manila folders for colored ones, assigning a hue to each category such as red for medical information and light blue for mortgages - so the next time you're hunting for a document, all you'll have to do is scan for the appropriate shade.

~Recycling Bins~
Think beyond green: Coordinated plastic buckets take the hassle out of sorting recyclables. Give each material - plastic, newsprint, glass, and any others your community accepts - a colored destination, and keep it consistent from week to week.

Designate a certain color towel to each bathroom or for each family member. That way when the kids are doing their chores and putting away the laundry, they know exactly where to put specific towels.

~Holiday Storage~
Whether your bins of decorations are stacked high in the basement or hidden behind bicycles and boxes in the garage, you'll be able to locate them in seconds with the help of bands of colored duct tape (and, perhaps, a flashlight). Wrap each container in shades that match the festive decorations stored inside: red and green for Christmas, black and orange for Halloween.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Who would have thought: SHUTTERS

Similar to my "New Uses for Old Things" section, I thought this idea deserved some love. How crafty is this? Shutters for paper organization. Yet another brilliant idea from Martha Stewart.

This particular trio hangs on the wall over a hallway console but you could do this in your office or area in kitchen. Their louvers are a perfect (not to mention plentiful) spot to tuck invitations, display artwork, or hang a message pad.

Here is the link for the tutorial on how to make and hang this awesome idea. I personally would just go buy the finished shutters at Home Depot or Lowes, have your hubby put a little hook on the back and hang. What a great project for him this weekend right?!?! ;)

Monday, October 24, 2011


On Sunday Target launched celebrity favorite and British sensation Nip+Fab, a body-care line, that I'm pretty freakin' stoked about it. Their price point is spot on with everything under $20 and I'm head over heels for their simplistically trendy marketing. Oh c'mon now, you can't deny that you too are swayed by pretty packaging.

While Target has a few beauty lines, this is by far the most appealing. All 18 products target most every body part we're looking to hit. Frown lines. Yes please. Cellulite. Hell yes. Tummy Fix. Seriously. Stop. The products are crammed with breakthrough natural and technologically advanced skin smoothing, boosting and firming ingredients. Nip+Fab is the answer to achieve results quickly with minimum fuss and expense.

Since several of you readers have asked about dark circles and puffiness under the eye, I think you'll want to get your hands on a bottle of the "Eye Fix." This is a 2-in-1 eye cream and concealer that hydrates and de-puffs the under-eye area. It also contains light-reflecting particles to conceal dark circles. For $9.95, I'll call that fab. Another one to check out is the Dark Circle Fix, a triple action eye cream. Alittle more expensive at $15.95 but a must-have to incorporate into your nightly routine.

Curious what the heck the "Bust Fix Plumping Treatment" is? If you've lost elasticity over the years, this screams your name. Ok this screams ALL our names especially those mamas that have done any form of breastfeeding. For $17.95, you can can get visibly plump, smooth and firm skin around the bust and decollete with this high performance bust serum. It contains CellActive, a plant-based complex of active ingredients which support the natural process of lipid deposition, lending fullness to the bust, it will reshape the contours of the cleavage area to optimally accentuate. I call this mega-fab!

Sunday, October 23, 2011


Carrot, pumpkin and applesauce - three ingredients that scream fall! Thanks Lori for this deliciously easy recipe.

~Carrot Cake Muffins~

1 box carrot cake (Duncan Heines super moist)
1 15 oz can pumpkin puree
1/2 cup of unsweetened applesauce
dash of pumpkin pie spice
dash of cinnamon

1) Mix all ingredients in a large bowl and stir.
2) Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes or until toothpick comes our clean.

Try this:
Add raisins or walnuts to the mix for added flavor & texture.

I hope this ends your weekend on a sweet note! xo

Friday, October 21, 2011


I was emailed this poem on Wednesday and I've read it over several times since then. It's funny how things fall into your lap when you're not looking but need them most. I am constantly struggling with "waiting" ie; being still and patiently allowing things to work in my life the way God has planned. I want to solve everything. Now. I want things to happen. Yesterday. I want to be in control. Of everything. But if I'm a true believer, I need to wait. I need to wait for the Lord to work miracles in life at the time He sees fit. Of course I still ask why - Why aren't you taking away the pain? Why are you watching me suffer? Why is this happening in my life? It is in those times, I lean on my faith for guidance, perspective and strength. And I wait. And He always provides.

by Russell Kelfer

Desperately, helplessly, longingly, I cried; Quietly, patiently, lovingly, God replied. I pled and I wept for a clue to my fate...And the Master so gently said, "Wait."

"Wait? you say wait?" my indignant reply. "Lord, I need answers, I need to know why!
Is your hand shortened? Or have you not heard?
By faith I have asked, and I'm claiming your Word.

"My future and all to which I relate hangs in the balance, and you tell me to wait? I'm needing a 'yes', a go-ahead sign, 
Or even a 'no' to which I can resign.

"You promised, dear Lord, that if we believe, we need but to ask, and we shall receive. And Lord I've been asking, and this is my cry:
I'm weary of asking! I need a reply."

Then quietly, softly, I learned of my fate, as my Master replied again, "Wait." So I slumped in my chair, defeated and taut, and grumbled to God, "So, I'm waiting for what?"

He seemed then to kneel, and His eyes met with mine...and He tenderly said, "I could give you a sign. I could shake the heavens and darken the sun. I could raise the dead and cause mountains to run.

"I could give all you seek and pleased you would be. 
You'd have what you want, but you wouldn't know Me. You'd not know the depth of my love for each saint. You'd not know the power that I give to the faint.

"You'd not learn to see through clouds of despair;
you'd not learn to trust just by knowing I'm there.
You'd not know the joy of resting in Me, when darkness and silence are all you can see.

"You'd never experience the fullness of love, when the peace of my spirit descends like a dove.
You would know that I give, and I save, for a start,
but you'd not know the depth of the beat of my heart.

"The glow of my comfort late into the night, the faith that I give when you walk without sight.
The depth that's beyond getting just what you ask
from an infinite God who makes what you have last.

"You'd never know, should your pain quickly flee,
what it means that my grace is sufficient for thee.
Yes, your dearest dreams overnight would come true,
But, oh, the loss, if you missed what I'm doing in you.

"So, be silent, my child, and in time you will see
that the greatest of gifts is to truly know me.
And thought of my answers seem terribly late,
my most precious answer of all is still..."Wait."

Thursday, October 20, 2011

HATE TO IRON? I have the solution!

If you hate to iron or just don't have the time, The Downy Wrinkle Releaser might be your answer to prayer.

What is it? Downy Wrinkle Releaser is an easy-to-use spray that smoothes out wrinkles in seconds and leaves clothes with a light fresh scent. Just spray, tug, and smooth any time you need to quickly reduce wrinkles without the hassle of an iron. Its unique formula relaxes fibers to help release wrinkles.

Although I'm notorious for ironing just about everything; sweatshirts, jeans, sheets and actually enjoy ironing, it can be a total time suck. So when I came across this product at Target ($6.99), I had to give it a try, especially since there is nothing but rave reviews on and Amazon.

My thoughts: This stuff is pretty spectacular. It's perfect for those shirts that are a crinkled mess from sitting in the dryer too long or have been shoved in the closet for some time. But I do need to set your expectations - it won't get them perfect. For deep creases and more substantial wrinkling, the spray alone isn't enough. I found that by spraying clothing and then tumble drying on low, most could be made wrinkle free without ironing. But for those that are super anal about having perfectly pressed clothing or for heavily crinkled clothing, you're going to have to still bust out the iron.

Overall, I give this product a B+. It does what it claims to do and can be a big saver in a time crunch. And how genius is it that they make a travel size for those annoying suitcase folds and wrinkles?!? Quick tip: If you really want to get rid of wrinkles for good, turn the hotel shower on really hot, close the door and let the bathroom get super steamy. Then spray the Wrinkle Releaser on your garments and hang your clothes on the shower rod with the water running for about 10 minutes. The steam combined with the Wrinkle Releaser will loosen the wrinkles just as good as an iron.

Beware: The product can leave waterspots on special fabrics like silk and rayon. And some of the reviews I read said it left a sticky film on their clothing.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


Since I didn't get to posting a "Sweet Sunday" dessert recipe this week (or for the past two months that is), I thought I'd do a mid-week dessert so you can stop worrying about what you're going to bring to your child's classroom Halloween party.

When I think Halloween, I think Candy Corn. Whether you love it or hate it, it's a Halloween staple. Did you know they now have caramel candy corn? Um yumm! Thanks to Our Best Bites, you can look very Martha Stewart'esk with these festive Candy Corn Cupcakes.

~Candy Corn Cupcakes~

1 18.25-oz. white cake mix (I prefer Duncan Hines)
1 c. sour cream
1/2 c. vegetable oil
3 large eggs
1 tsp. almond extract
Yellow and orange Wilton food gel (about a heaping 1/2 tsp. of each)
A double batch of Perfect Cupcake Frosting and Filling

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 24-cup muffin tins with white paper liners (although you may not make it to 24 cupcakes). Combine all ingredients except for food coloring in a large bowl and beat on low speed for 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and then beat on medium for 2 additional minutes.

2) Divide batter equally into two bowls; you should have about 2 1/4-2 1/2 c. of batter in each bowl.

3) Mix about 1/2 heaping tsp. of yellow coloring into one bowl of batter and 1/2 heaping tsp. of orange coloring into the other bowl.

4) Divide the yellow batter evenly among the muffin tins. I used a standard cookie scoop, which measures about 1 Tbsp. I only had enough to make 20 cupcakes with the cups filled about halfway. Holding the edges of each pan firmly, bang the pan a few times on the counter to level out the batter. Repeat the process with the orange batter. Bake for 20-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Remove from oven and allow to cool for about 5 minutes in the pan and then allow to cool completely on a cooling rack.

5) When ready, frost the cupcakes and garnish with a candy corn. When you cut them open, they look like this:

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

CHEAP FUN: Glow Sticks

A girlfriend of mine text last week with this fantastic idea to make bath time more fun during the month of October. I thought it so fabulous that I thought you should try it too...

In the spirit of Halloween, Target is selling glow sticks in packs of two in their Dollar section (front of store right when you walk in). Go spend $5, fill up the bathtub, turn out the lights and throw the glow sticks in the water. The kids will go c.r.a.z.y!!

Thanks for the fun idea Jodi!

Monday, October 17, 2011

DEAL ALERT: Piperlime Sale

If you're in the market for some fall/winter warm weather necessities; adorable kid's rain jackets, beanies, winter boots for the entire family, you've got to peruse the Piperlime website. If you watch Project Runway you are familiar with the "Piperlime Accessory Wall." But don't let that fool you - they too sell clothing.

Their Fall Sale is going on now until Oct. 23rd. They offer free shipping and returns on every order - no minimums. They have the latest styles and an amazing selection of riding boots for her, Hunter rain boots for the kid's puddle jumping fun and the most adorable rain jackets to match! Check it out!

Jacket: $36 Umbrella: $15.00 Boot: $25.00

If you do ONE thing this week...


There may be a few surprises lurking in your child's stuffed animal, bath toy or train set. Think dust mites and molds that can trigger allergies and asthma, and infectious germs that spread viral illnesses. "We know that the majority of cold viruses are transmitted on objects and hands, for instance," says Dr. Clifford Bassett, medical director of Allergy and Asthma Care of New York. "Your child can develop a rhinovirus within 12 to 24 hours of contact." Clearly, cleaning our kids' hands, house and toys is good for their health. Here's how to do it right and help keep allergies, asthma, colds and flus at bay:

1) Choose toys carefully. Look for washable toys and throw out items that won't come clean, says Dr. Bassett, who is also vice-chairman of public education for the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI). Where possible, avoid porous, stuffed or otherwise difficult-to-scrub items.

2) Wash 'em regularly. You don't need to scrub toys weekly, as many daycares do, but perhaps once a month or at least when toys are visibly dirty. Throw toys into the top rack of a dishwasher or the washing machine, or hand wash them in dish soap and water. Not all toys indicate whether they're dishwasher safe, so use your judgment. If you're concerned that something might melt, wash it by hand.

3) Blast germs when required. Disinfect toys and other surfaces (say, toy boxes or crib rails) if you, your child or a visiting playmate has been ill. Note that if your dishwasher or laundry machine uses 130-degree water, disinfectant is unnecessary. Wondering what products to use? Keep reading...

4) Give stuffed toys the deep freeze. If your child has tested positive for dust-mite allergy, put their stuffed toys in a plastic covering and freeze them for three to five hours once a week. "This kills most living dust mites," says Dr. Bassett. These microscopic, spider-like mites are one of the most common allergy and asthma triggers. To find out if your child has a dust-mite allergy, ask your family doctor for a blood- or skin-prick allergy test.

5) Ditch bath toys with holes. Sure, you can and should squeeze water out of tub toys, hang them to dry in a netting bag and wash and disinfect them as above. But bath toys with holes can become a breeding ground for mold, so why not avoid them altogether?

6) Keep washing those hands. This is important especially after school or visits to the playground. A recent University of Arizona study found that children's playground equipment and daycare centers were the most frequently contaminated public places of over 1,000 surfaces tested. Washing hands before kids play with their home toys can keep them from spreading bacteria around. "The average child has up to six colds a year, but regular hand washing can cut that in half," says Dr. Bassett. The good news? "People are more aware of environment and disease," he says. "We're all doing a better job of fighting germs these days."

In need of a gentle, kid-friendly cleaner to get started? You can't go wrong with good ol' baby wipes for a quick daily wipedown but for a deeper clean, I suggest one of these two specific toy cleaners: Dapple Toy Cleaner spray and wipes and Babyganics The Cleaner Upper Toy & Highchair Cleaner.

Both are perfect for cleaning what little hands touch – and not just toys. High chairs, swings, car seats and more. Great on countertops too! These cleaners are made from naturally-derived ingredients that are biodegradable and environmentally safe. Neither use any parabens, phthalates, SLES, bleach, alcohol, dyes, synthetic fragrances or other harsh chemicals. Basically just spray, wipe and play.

Other products that are sold as non-toxic carry the warning that if swallowed contact poison control, but not these. The product warning says if swallowed drink a glass of water. Within seconds of wiping down you won't have to worry about the toy going straight into babies mouth. I consider these products a must have for all moms with small kids.

Dapple is available at

Babyganics is available at

Thursday, October 13, 2011

MUST HAVE: Beauty Trimmer

Ok so you're going to learn a tid-bit of personal information about myself that may have you thinking I'm a total whack job but this is pertinent background information for this post...

I detest body hair. And no I'm not just talking about nasty back hair on men. I'm talking about my own body hair.

It started at an early age. My mom refused to let me shave until I was in 6th grade. She says she was protecting my youth. Yay-yay. As if the pre-teen years weren't the most self-conscious, awkward times in and of themselves, I strutted around with an excessive amount of glowing platinum blonde hair on my arms and legs. And peach fuzz like crazy. Ohhh how I hated that stuff. On my face, neck, earlobes, tops of my toes, small of my back, around my belly button. And no I didn't have a hormone imbalance. I can't tell you how bad I wanted to punch people in the face when they'd say - "at least it's blonde." {scream}

You better believe the day before my first day of 6th grade, I stood in the shower for hours ridding my legs and toes of this unwanted hair. Happiest day ever. It was then in the 10th grade, I shaved my arms. Yep, you read right - I shave my arms. And hands. And tops of my fingers. Not that I have a ton; it's just I don't want any.

Thanks to my Clio Beauty Trim (a MUST HAVE), I am able to get a precise shave on the delicate areas with the extra fine, stainless steel blade that painlessly trims unwanted hair quickly and effectively. What I love about this grooming tool, is I can take it anywhere. It's perfectly sized for travel and only takes one 'AAA' battery. Great for eyebrows, ears, tip of your nose, chin, upper lip, toes, tops of your fingers, bikini line and neck.

Oh and speaking of necks; there's nothing worse than a man with a hairy neck. C'mon ladies, help a brotha out and keep your man looking well groomed in-between trips to the Barber Shop. This grooming tool works wonders on cleaning him up in seconds which is another reason this is a MUST HAVE product.

You can find the Clio Beauty Trim on Target shelves for $7.99.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


Piggybacking on yesterday's post, I thought it would be helpful to give you a recipe that just might get you to embrace the "one vegetarian meal per week" idea. Packed with veggies and a powerful burst of flavor, this Vegetarian Tortilla Soup is one you could eat over and over again. Especially on those cold, dreary winter days when a colorful, warm soup might just brighten your day. The ingredient list looks long but most of it is spices.

~Vegetarian Tortilla Soup~

2 tablespoons ground cumin

2 teaspoons sweet paprika

2 teaspoons chili powder

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
3 tablespoons oil
1 large onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced (*Or you can just buy a one pound package of frozen pepper and onion stir fry mix to make it easier)
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 (10 ounce) cans RoTel Diced Tomatoes with Lime & Cilantro 

1 (15 ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained
2 (32 ounce) containers Swanson Organic Vegetable Broth
2 (15 ounce) cans black beans, drained and rinsed (*You can omit black for kidney or pinto beans or add a can of all which is equally as good.)

1. In a small bowl mix together cumin, sweet paprika, chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, salt and black pepper. Set aside.

2. In a large pot heat the oil over medium high. Add the onions and bell peppers. Sauté until soft, stirring occasionally. Add the spices and garlic; cook for 2 minutes.

3. Add the RoTel, corn and vegetable broth. Cook until warmed through. Add the beans and cook for 2 minutes before serving. Squeeze in lime juice. Serve in bowls and garnish as desired.

Garnish Ideas:
Tortilla chips

Shredded Cheddar, Mexican blend or Cotija cheese
Diced Avocado

Chopped Cilantro

Sour Cream

Hot Sauce

Monday, October 10, 2011

If you do ONE thing this week...


No I am not Vegan. Nor am I telling you to become one either. But one meal isn't going to kill you. In fact, do this and you'll protect your heart, help prevent cancer and if you can incorporate this into your weekly routine, you'll lose up to five pounds this year!

To me, lunch would be the easier option to cut out the meat. If you're like me, you have a handful of standby lunch meals on rotation. Turkey sandwich at Subway. Grilled chicken salad. Instead of ordering the usual, do your figure a favor and add a veggie option to your repertoire. Veggies are low in fat and calories but high in fiber, which keeps you feeling fuller longer. Dr. Lawrence J. Cheskin, M.D, director of the John Hopkins Weight Management Center in Baltimore found that when people ate a veggie-based lunch, such as meatless chili, they took in 371 fewer calories and 28 fewer grams of fat throughout the day than when they had a similar meal made with ground beef. Studies show occasionally going vegetarian also boosts your cardiovascular health and lowers your risk of breast cancer.

So sometime this week when you're reviewing your midday options, consider loading up that 6 inch sandwich with a mound-full of veggies and avocado. Or try a hummus and cucumber pita, lentil soup, or black bean and cheese burrito. I already fulfilled my week's goal with a bowl full of steamed broccoli and mushrooms. Mmmmm. Jealous??

Friday, October 7, 2011


Gosh it feels like forever ago that I did a Fancy Friday post. Sorry. I know it's one of your favorite posts but I've been really trying to focus more on my family and being "present" with my kids. This entails not being glued to my computer. The result; less blogs but less stress. To refresh your memory; this post is about something that tickled my fancy (aka; to enjoy, adore or be satisfied by ) during the week.

Something this week that tickled my decor senses was Urban Outfitters online home catalog. Most of you know Urban Outfitters as a funky, trendy clothing store. What you might not know is they carry an extensive line of home decor products ranging from kitchen and bath accessories to bedding and furniture. Just like their clothing, Urban Outfitters offers a home line that is a collaboration of vintage, bohemian, retro, and hipster. Curious what that all means? Check out their website under 'Apartment' and the items will speak for themselves. You will be pleasantly surprised at all the eclectic pieces. They offer free returns and free shipping on orders over $50 everyday.

Some of my particular favorites:

Zig Zag Printed Rug $39-69 depending on size

Vintage Wood Calendar Chalkboard $49.00

Industrial Stencil Letter $8.00

Big Garden Printed Rug $34.00

Ziggy Chair $279 (comes in 6 different colors)

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Got ANIMAL hair??

While the holidays are still a few months away, it's best that you start thinking about what you need to do now to prepare your homes for company. Whether you're having out-of-town guests for a long period of time or just a party for a few hours, there's nothing more embarrassing than having a guest stand up from your couch only to find them covered in your dog or cat's hair.

If you've been searching for the best way to remove pet hair from their floors and upholstered furniture or need to replace your ineffective vac for something with a little more umph, I think I might just have the answer...

The DC34 Animal.

The Dyson DC34 Animal is the perfect handheld vacuum cleaner that has twice the suction power of any other handheld on the market. Powered by the new Dyson digital motor, it is ideal for pet-hair pick-up, tight hard to reach corners in furniture, inside your car and high dirt areas.

How it works: First you must charge it for about 3.5 hours to get the full run time out of it. That’s 15 minutes on normal power, or 6 minutes at ‘max’ power. Once it’s fully charged, you press and hold the red button and … use it like a vacuum cleaner. Because that’s what it is. The DC34 Animal comes with a button on the back that says ‘MAX’. Essentially it’s a booster button, giving you an extra bit o' suction… and noise. In my mind, the bigger the sound, the better it's working.

The first thing that strikes me about the handheld DC34 Animal is it's shape. It's unlike any other handheld vac I've ever seen. It kinda screams ‘I mean business’ and boy oh boy, does it!

What I like best is that it's small and convenient. You can store it in the kitchen cabinet or pantry without any problem. I'm all about the quick pick-up and the thought of having to lug around the heavier vac to pick up a little hair or dirt, makes me irritable. I also like that it's cordless which makes it easy to maneuver and use in your car. Like all Dysons you get to see the crap that gets picked up in the clear-containery-thingy (technical term) so that's always a good visual that your effort is actually doing something.

There are two downsides I see to this product: 1) The vacuuming time vs. charging time is well, a lot. For every minute you charge it, you only get 4.28 seconds of run time. But again, other whimpier handhelds don't have good battery longevity either. 2) It's a pretty penny at $350 (or $299 for the slightly less powerful DC34). But with the fastest, highest power density motor ever developed for a domestic appliance and up to 15 minutes of constant cleaning power, the units are hard-wearing and an excellent value if you can find room in the budget.