Homemade Almond Milk

Do you remember when this article was circulating your facebook newsfeed? It claimed that one of the leading brands of Almond Milk contained less than 2% of almonds. What? Boy, these companies get away with a lot when it comes food labels. So, as consumers we need to be more aware of what we are purchasing.

Anyway, I decided I would go ahead and make my own. The result: pure deliciousness!  Now, I’m not trying to say that I won’t buy the stuff at the grocery store anymore. I am human. It’s a huge convenience being able to toss it in my cart and go. However, if I know I am going to be using almond milk for an upcoming recipe, I will make a batch of the homemade stuff. It just tastes better!

Print Recipe
Homemade Almond Milk
Servings
cups
Ingredients
Servings
cups
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Place almonds in a large bowl, cover with water and allow to soak overnight.
  2. Drain the water and pour almonds into a blender. I did this in 2 steps, 1 cup of almonds at a time.
  3. Add 8 cups of water, dates and extract (if using) and blend until almonds look like a small grain.
  4. If using a strainer, set up over a large bowl and begin pouring milk in and pushing through. If using a cheese cloth, pour into cloth and squeeze milk out into large bowl.
  5. After you have successfully squeezed milk out, you are left with almond meal. You can dry it out and place in an airtight container or throw into pancakes/muffins/cookies right away.
  6. Refrigerate milk. (last up to 5 days in your refrigerator)
  7. Enjoy!
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Crap you no longer care about when you hit 40

I turned 40 this last year and just like everyone warned there are changes you can expect when hitting this milestone.  I’m not talking hot flashes and mood swings, although those are probably in my near future.  I’m mean a certain confidence that comes along with reaching forty.  It’s like seeing life through an exclusive Instagram filter that allows you to no longer care about nonsense (a nicer way to say BS).

 These are the top 5 things I couldn’t care less about anymore

People not liking me

It’s okay. No, really it is. I probably don’t like you either. I try to impart my 40-year-old wisdom on my “tween-aged” girls. I explain how everyone is not going to like you and that is perfectly fine. You need to like you. Then you need find your tribe of weirdos, and stick together.

Wearing a swimsuit

Living in Southwest Florida, I just don’t have time to care about this anymore.  Don’t get me wrong, I want to be in better shape, I want to rock a bikini, but I also want to enjoy my life.  Plus, I’m raising two girls that I want to be comfortable in their own skin more than I give a flock what I look like in a bathing suit.  In case you skipped this lesson in 6th grade health class, our bodies change as we age.  Learn to be comfortable in every stage.

Sharing my opinion

Yup, in case you haven’t noticed yet, I have one.  I’ve learned in my forty years that I don’t necessarily have to always share. There are some battles you just won’t win, minds you won’t change, and conversations to be avoided. A question a friend taught me to ask is “Will my comment/opinion be beneficial to this conversation?”.  If the answer is no, it probably stems from selfish reasons.

A spotless house

I grew up in a what seemed like a showroom.  That sounds like fun, amirite?  Yes, that was sarcasm.  I do have expectations of what I want my home to look and feel like but I’ve also become more realistic.  There are seasons of our life where we are busier, or have home improvements happening.  It’s not rational to presume my home will always be neat and tidy.  I used to try to hide it like a bad habit.  Now, I sit it on the front porch and serve it a cocktail.

Knowing everything

This may surprise some of you, but I don’t know everything.  I spent so much of my life trying to prove myself. It may come along with being a perfectionist but it’s exhausting. The older I get the more I realize how little I know. Which is still infinitely more than I knew or thought I knew in my 20’s.  The difference is, I don’t pretend to know it all now.  I ask questions, even when I think it may make me look stupid, because 9 out of 10 times it doesn’t make me look stupid and someone else was too afraid to ask the same darn question!

How about you?  What do you not give a crap about anymore?

Girls trip to Clearwater Beach

(This is not an affiliate post.)

Sometimes you just need time away with your bestie.  Uninterrupted, talk until 2 am, no kids, act like middle school girls, time.  It’s just what my husband ordered.  My husband’s motto is “happy wife, happy life”.  He’s pretty awesome like that!  Actually, both of our other halves are and it’s not often that we get to spend time together without our families.

 

Abby & Dawn on the beach
Abby and I live 4 hours apart, which totally stinks.  Luckily, Florida has so many great cities for us to pick from when choosing a quick getaway.  I went back and forth between meeting by a natural spring, the ocean, or the gulf.  We settled on Clearwater Beach, Florida because it’s about half way between our homes.

I had never been before so I wasn’t completely sure what to expect.  As soon as you cross the bridge into Clearwater Beach you can see why its named so.  The water is a magnificent green-blue and it looks as though its crystal clear as far out as you can see.

We had some absolutes when choosing a hotel.  It needed to be beachfront, walking distance to restaurants, updated, and clean.  Not difficult requirements to meet.  It also had to be reasonably priced.  Typically, I don’t ever book directly through the hotel.  I never feel like I get the best deal that way and for this frugal momma, I needed the best deal!  In the past, I have been successful using Hotwire.com.  After comparing Priceline, Expedia, Booking, Trivago, and Hotwire, once again Hotwire came in with the best prices.

We scored The Dreamview Beachfront Hotel and Resort for $125 per night after taxes and hotel fees.  Being an inexpensive beach hotel could definitely attract a more partying crowd, but we shared the ground with quiet international vacationing families.  It was perfect for our laid-back girls weekend.

It was clean, updated, surrounded by other reputable hotels, and had a great view.  Unfortunately, our room didn’t have a view of the gulf, but the city view we had wasn’t too bad either.  It made for some great people-watching from the balcony.  The room was equipped with a refrigerator, which helped keep the total cost of food down.  We were able to bring some snacks & drinks with us.  Out on the beach, the beach loungers were free to use for hotel guests and most of them had umbrellas for when you needed to hide from the hot Florida sun.  The Gulf water was still cool enough be refreshing and the sand was soft and powdery.  We saw several dolphin swim by, and there was enough boat action to keep us entertained.

Photo credit: http://www.dreamviewresort.com/gallery/
Our only complaints were one of the elevators was extremely sloooow and loud, and our room had the hairdryer from hell.  Also, when we asked for a late check-out the staff member we spoke to wasn’t very accommodating.  However, the hotel’s check-out time is noon, which gave us ample time to use the beach one more time and get back to the room to freshen up before we hit the road.

This photo pretty much sums us up!
We ate breakfast one of the mornings at the Sand’s Beach Bar and Grill located on site.  The weather was gorgeous, so we sat outside.  I was pleasantly surprised by the omelette I ordered.  For around $12 each, we had a huge breakfast that filled us until dinnertime!

 

This post would not be complete without mentioning dinner!  A friend recommended Frenchy’s, which has several locations.  We settled on Frenchy’s Rockaway Grill on the beach because it was in walking distance (about 1.5 miles) and they had live music that night.

Photo credit: http://frenchysonline.com
We ordered the Stuffed Cucumber appetizer.  It’s cucumber slices topped with seafood mixture (lump crab, shrimp and scallops mixed with mayonnaise, tomatoes and parsley) drizzled with spicy mayo and creamy avocado sauce.  These were outrageous and my favorite.  We also shared some poppers and Abby ordered some crab fries.  The poppers were delicious and the fries weren’t very noteworthy.  The atmosphere was fun, the sunset view was spectacular, and the band was incredible!

Being seafood lovers, the following night we ate at the buffet at Shepard’s Beach Resort which seemed like a great choice!

Photo credit: www.shepards.com
Unfortunately, we weren’t impressed.  They did have a great selection, but both the shrimp and crab legs were overcooked.  Maybe it was the time we decided to dine at (8:30 pm) but we were bummed.  The prime rib was tasty, and the thai mussels were flavorful but really had our heart set on some fresh seafood, so it was a disappointment when the shrimp and crab were rubbery.

Photo credit: www.shepards.com
However, the following day Shepard’s Tiki Beach Bar totally redeemed the resort.  Abby and I sat outside, listened to live music, and ordered some lunch.  I had a Caesar Salad with blackened mahi-mahi and Abby enjoyed some fish tacos.  Both meals were mouthwatering!  It was the perfect way to end our girls weekend!

I would love to take my family back to Clearwater Beach for a few days.  I think my kids would enjoy walking Pier 60 and seeing the street performers like the guy covered in moss, sitting in a planter that jumps out on unsuspecting visitors to scare the daylights out of them and possibly making them pee their pants a little.  Watch this video!

Abby and I are going to try to meet up here again with both our families before school starts in August.  This time I will take more pictures of the area, the food, and the sunsets!

 

 

Tween approved summer crafts

Looking for some fun summer crafts to pass the time this summer?  Look no further!  My daughters (ages 12 and 10) helped me compile this pinterest board and we will be working our way through it the next few weeks on those days when we feel like we might kill each other.  When choosing the crafts, we decided that nothing was too big or too small.

Photo credit www.upcraftclub.com

Easy to Sew Cosmetics bag:  Free pattern to sew a cosmetics bag.  I don’t know about you, but I always have leftover fabric from the projects I have going on.

Photo credit www.petitboutdechou.com

DIY Felt Owl Magnets:  Have an owl lover in the house?  We do!  My youngest cannot wait to try this craft out.  How sweet are these little guys?!

 

Photo credit www.inspirationmadesimple.com

Popsicle Bracelets:  I thought this would be fun for the girls when they had some friends over.  The bracelets look so cute and all the girls could customize them.

 

T-Shirt Quilt:  This has been something in the making for us.  Each year my girls school has a themed t-shirt.  We have been saving them for 7 years!  I’m really hoping we get to finish this one this summer.

 

Photo credit www.craftsbyamanda.com

Ladybug Painted Rocks:  C’mon, how cute are these?!  I think they are adorable.  I cannot wait to add these to our front flowerbeds.

 

Photo credit www.brit.co

Macrame Hanging Planter:  I have plants in every room in my house.  Plants add vibrant color and texture when decorating and more importantly, they help purify the air.  Having a child that overcame asthma, it is very important to me for each of us to have a plant in our bedrooms.  I thought these simple tee shirt material macrame hanging planters would add a touch of color to each room.

 

Photo credit www.thisorganiclife.com

Make your own Lip Tint:  I loved this idea!  I would much rather my girls make a lip tint where we know all the ingredients being used are safe than something you buy off the shelf at the drugstore.  Especially when it comes to their lips!

 

Photo credit: www.positivelysplendid.com

DIY Fabric Charging Station:  We finally broke down and bought our 7th grader a phone.  Had I known Verizon would give upgrade us to the unlimited plan again, I may have done it sooner.  Anyway, wouldn’t this be a fun craft?  Plus, no more phone scattered all over the counters!

 

Photo credit: www.craftymorning.com

Flip-flop Summer Wreath:  My girls totally picked this one themselves.  I’m not too crazy about hanging this one on my front door but I thought they would look great on my girls bedroom doors.  All the materials needed can be purchased at the dollar store making this craft nice and inexpensive.

 

Photo credit: www.reasonstoskipthehousework.com

DIY Raspberry Lemon Sugar Scrub:  Doesn’t this combo sound refreshing?  I’m not gonna lie, I am absolutely making myself one of these scrubs this summer.

 

Well, there you have it!  10 tween approved summer crafts to keep you and your tween occupied this summer.

Lime Mockarita

 

In honor of Cinco de Mayo my family has been enjoying Mexican dinners all week.  Tonight, I whipped up some sugar-free, alcohol-free, kid-friendly “Mock”a-rita’s for my entire family!  This drink is sweet, tart and so easy to make.  I love letting it blend in my vita-mix until the ice is soft and scoop-able.  Then I spoon the ice into our cups, pour the juice over it and zest a bit more of the lime skin on top.  The kids especially liked that after they drank all the juice they still had the ice to eat.  It was like two treats in one!

Print Recipe
Lime Mockarita
Prep Time 5 minutes
Servings
small glasses
Ingredients
Prep Time 5 minutes
Servings
small glasses
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Place all ingredients in blender and mix until ice is crushed.
  2. Serve and enjoy!
Recipe Notes

For the adult drinks, I rimmed the glass with coarse sea salt and my husband may or may not have added a shot of tequila.

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Easy Guacamole

 

 

In our home Mexican cuisine is always our go-to dinner!  In fact, each week when I go shopping I buy at least ten avocados.  Both my daughters take half a one in their lunch box each day and my husband and I love to add some to our eggs in the morning.  My favorite way to enjoy avocado is in guacamole.  However, getting the flavors just right can be tricky.  This easy recipe is guaranteed to please even the pickiest palette.  Trust me, I live with one!

Print Recipe
Easy Guacamole
Prep Time 15 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Prep Time 15 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Cut avocados in half, remove pit and scoop contents out with spoon into medium size bowl.
  2. Zest lime into bowl with avocado.
  3. Cut lime in half and squeeze all over avocado. (this keeps it from browning)
  4. Mash avocado with either a fork or potato masher.
  5. Add diced tomato, onion, garlic, cilantro and salt.
  6. Mix all ingredients together.
  7. Serve and enjoy!
Recipe Notes

Use guacamole to top tacos, burgers, eggs, or just enjoy with some tortilla chips!

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3 ways this book changed my life

There have been many self-help-style books that have passed through these hands without having an effect on me.  I read the advice, try to implement, and fail miserably.  Something about The Fringe Hours really resonated with me.  Possibly because the author focused on small increments of time creating big change in our lives.  Squeezing in a chapter or two while I wait on the parent pick-up line at school for fifteen minutes is easier to swallow than attempting read a book in one single weekend.  Painting single coats of paint on a shelf I’m refinishing over the course of a week (or two), is way more attainable than dedicating several hours in one day to finish it.  If you are a woman that finds it difficult to squeeze everything you love into 24 hours then I highly recommend this book.  It has changed the way I attack every day in the following ways:

 Making time for exercise:  For many, many years (like 9 too many), I felt guilty taking even just a half hour for myself to exercise.  I viewed it as time away from my priorities until my health became a priority I could no longer ignore.  I’d like to say that getting sick was a wake up call and the catalyst to get in shape again but it wasn’t. Jessica N. Turner so eloquently writes in this book, “The reason so many women today struggle to make themselves a priority is because they are trying to be everything for everyone.”  During this read I decided if I wasn’t going to put me first, no one else would.  I’m not going to lie and say that it isn’t still a struggle for me, but I do try to make myself more of a priority now.

 

Requiring my kids to help:  this may seem like a no-brainer to some of you that have already enlisted your children in completing daily chores.  However, for someone like me, this was huge.  You see, I had this ridiculous notion that being a stay-at-home mom meant every single inch of the house was my responsibility.  I have a very unrealistic idea of what a moms role exactly is.  When I was little, my mom’s house was impeccable, spotless, and without clutter. Our clothes were laundered and ironed and hung in our closets. All rooms looked like they were straight out of a magazine and there definitely weren’t any dirty dishes in the kitchen sink!  Buuut, there’s a very big but!  My mom was not a mom like me.  She didn’t volunteer in the classroom, or with the drama club, or coach the odyssey of the mind team, or drive me to and from school, or make me breakfast every morning. I don’t say this to shame her parenting style but to remind myself how differently we spent our time.  We chose for our children to have different childhoods.  I am happy to report that after reading The Fringe Hours, my girls now several chores that they are responsible for completing daily.  It has not only freed up sometime for me but has relieved me of some stress.

 

Using my creativity:  This book helped me blog again!  I had given up, no joke.  My blog had been sitting there in the world-wide web wasteland until I read this book and realized I missed it.  Once I admitted to myself I missed blogging, the flood gates of creativity burst open!  That week I relaunched my blog, finished painting an antique door, organized my office, emptied unpacked moving boxes, and decluttered rooms by donating stuff we weren’t using.  Working through the mental block I was having released a physical block I didn’t even know I had!

7 reasons you NEED an Ikea Norsborg couch

 

This is not an affiliate post. This post reflects the opinion of the blogger. (photo credit: Ikea.com)

We recently moved (again!) and after taking a good look at our sectional in the new house under different lighting and against a different wall color, I came to the conclusion we needed new ones.  I know, #firstworldproblems.  So, I did what any other thrifty woman would do.  I sold our current couch on Craigslist.  It sold much quicker than I had anticipated (one day), which left my family a little unhappy with me and all of us sitting on outdoor chairs to watch TV.

I began my search for a replacement sectional in our location furniture stores.  I was pretty disappointed with what our budget of under $2000 could buy.  Nothing compared to our old sectional.  Either they weren’t very comfortable, or were half the size and I was not willing to compromise.  I took to the internet to see what I could find and read tons of posts and pins about Ikea couches.  I was shocked.  They received really great reviews!  So, my husband and I made the 2 hour trip up to Tampa to give them a look in person.  We spent hours in the store sitting on each and every couch.  We checked for depth, height, durability, amount of configurations that can be completed, fabric choices, and comfort.  We fell in love with the Norsborg.  Here are 7 reasons why:

 

 

1) 10 year warranty:  Yup, you read that right!  And, trust me, I asked exactly what that covered.  It covers the frame, springs, legs, and even the cushions!  Yes, if the cushions begin to sag, they will replace them!  The only items not included are the slipcovers.

2) 365 day return policy, no questions asked:  What?  Who offers this?  Ikea, that’s who!  I called Tampa to confirm and you don’t even need to disassemble the product.  Just bring it in with the original receipt and credit/debit card you paid with and BAM!  Refund, no questions asked!  Tip:  Make a photo copy of your original receipt as soon as you get home.  Over time the original fades and if the barcode is illegible, you are out of luck!

3) Easy to launder:  Each piece of this couch is slipcovered.  So, if you have a spill, or they just need to be run through the washing machine after a while, just unzip and go.  My only suggestion is to lay flat to dry and not run through the dryer.

4) Durability:  This couch has been put to the test!  As per the Ikea website: “At IKEA we test all our sofas and armchairs to be sure they’re durable. We’re especially tough on the ones that have long limited warranty. For example, we push 220 lb weights onto the seat 50,000 times – and 66 lb weights onto the back just as many times. We do all this to be sure the frames retain their stability and the cushions their resilience and comfort. The limited warranty we give is proof that our sofas and armchairs can take being used often and for a long time – and an assurance for you as a customer.”

5) Like having a custom couch with slipcover and configuration options:  Because of the selection of fabrics and configurations you can customize the couch to suit your likes and wants.  Need an extra-large sectional?  No problem!  Add extra pieces.  Want a stand alone chaise?  Sure, just add arms!  Tired of blue slipcovers after a year but still love the couch?  Buy new covers in a different fabric.

6)  Pockets in the armrests:  This may sound trivial to most, but having side pockets in this couch to store our remote controls has saved us time trying to figure out where the last person threw them!

7)  Comfort:  The comfort level in this couch is drool worthy.  I mean like don’t hang out here too long when your tired because you’ll be drooling before you know it!  My family loves to snuggle up under our favorite blanket and watch movies together but before you know it, one of us usually passes out!