Jul 2, 2015

Easy Cheesy Stuffed Zucchini Recipe

I am a huge fan of all things vegetables, but unfortunately that's not really the case for my family. We try to have vegetarian meals a couple times a week and I feel like I get stuck making the same old things. One of my favorite summer vegetables is zucchini. I can eat it prepared in any way-- sauteed, baked, in soups or stews, and even raw with dips. My husband and daughters do not share my love of zucchini at all. I decided to come up with a way to make them at least give it a try again. I figured a little cheese and savory flavor would help with those picky eaters. I came up with the perfect dish that is big hit with my family. My husband had to admit that zucchini isn't as bad as he thought it was. 

Check out my delicious recipe for Cheesy Stuffed Zucchini...


Ingredients: 
3-4 small zucchini 
4 ounces (half pack) of cream cheese 
Grated Parmesan cheese 
Garlic powder
Cracked pepper
Red pepper flakes (optional) 
Feta cheese
Seasoned bread crumbs 
Olive oil for your baking dish

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly coat a baking dish with your favorite olive oil and set aside. Cut the ends off each zucchini and then slice lengthwise in half. With a spoon, scoop out the seeds without taking away too much of the flesh. Mix cream cheese with a few sprinkles of Parmesan cheese, garlic powder, black pepper and crushed red pepper flakes to taste. Spread cream cheese mixture evenly in the zucchini halves (layer will be thin). Sprinkle a little bit of feta on top of cream cheese mixture and then follow with the bread crumbs. Just a little of both will do. Bake in oven uncovered about 35-45 minutes depending on how big your zucchinis are. You can insert a fork to check for doneness. Enjoy!

You can serve this recipe as a side dish or even a main dish. Feel free to add or take away any ingredients to make it your own. Let me know if you try it!

Jun 25, 2015

Plan Your Wedding With Stationery from Minted #ad

I remember over 20 years ago when I was planning for my wedding, before the convenience of the Internet. I had to do a ton of running around for everything I needed. One of the first things on my long list of things to purchase was the wedding invitations. In those days we had to thumb through enormous catalogs with card samples. It took us probably 3 hours to get it all done between picking a layout, figuring out what we wanted printed, the ink color and font. Fast forward to 2015, we can now do all of those same things without leaving our house in a fraction of the time. Minted.com offers a wide variety of styles and themes to choose from.
Look at these gorgeous "Save the date" cards. 
You can really customize your order in any way to suit your needs. The website makes it so easy to break down the colors, themes, card style, paper type and more. I played around on the site to make my dream invitations and guess what? It took me all of 20 minutes and I never got off the couch!
I absolutely love this design and shape. I also like that Minted automatically shows the matching RSVP cards, envelopes, thank you cards, labels and more. Minted also auto-saves your recent product views in the event you want to go back for another look.

I think the hardest thing is having to settle on one design! If you are looking for beautiful wedding stationery, I highly suggest Minted. You can even get free samples to get to see stationery items up close.

A couple years ago, I had a billing issue (a mistake I made) and spoke with someone in their customer service department. I was so impressed by the level of customer care and my issue was resolved right away. They even sent me a personalized follow-up email to make sure everything was correct. Now that's what I call great service! Consider Minted for your wedding stationery needs. Be sure to connect with Minted on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter for product promotions and updates.

I received a gift code to share my honest opinions about Minted.com. All opinions are 100% mine as always. 

Jun 19, 2015

Looking For A Low-Cost Flat Iron That Works?

Hey there! I wanted to share my latest find that I was so impressed with, I had to write a (non-sponsored) review. My daughters have been using flat irons since the middle school days, and their very first one was a $100 CHI. It was the most amazing straightener ever and made their hair super smooth, silky and of course, straight. It lasted 2 girls with a ton of hair for about 2 years. We thought it was worth the $100 so we purchased a second one. This time it was just okay. It straightened the hair, but the plates seemed like they were not aligned evenly and it made the task harder. That one lasted a couple of years and we bought a CHI once more. For some reason this last one did not straighten very well at all. We decided to switch brands and go with Rusk. I read several Amazon reviews and the thing that made me want to buy it was the fact that many users had very thick biracial hair. I found a $199 version for $80. I decided to order it. This flat iron was hands-down the best one ever! It straightened coarse, curly hair and transformed it into a super smooth, shiny and luxurious look. It was worth the money and they girls really loved it until... Brie went away on a trip to Washington a couple months back and her flat iron never made it back home. She called the hotel twice as well as her roommates and there was no sign of it. It was barely a couple months old and I was NOT spending the money to replace it.

After doing some more research on Amazon, we found another flat iron by Rusk, this time for $29.99. I figured since I was going to have Brie buy it with her own money, she may need something less expensive. It had great reviews, so we decided to order it and give it a try.
The shocking result? It worked just as well as its $199 big sister version! See how smooth and straight Brie's hair comes out?

I highly recommend the Rusk w8less STR8 IRON if you are looking for a really good, inexpensive flat iron. It really is a great value! We are thinking of ordering another one to keep as a back-up. Let me know if you buy one.

Have a great weekend.

Jun 12, 2015

Good Things Come To Those Who Wait

I remember many years ago when we first moved into our home, the front and back yard was littered with various trees, shrubs and bushes. The previous residents were renters and let's just say that yard maintenance was not a priority to them. My husband and I spent countless hours, weekend after weekend chopping, trimming, pruning and removing anything that was manageable for us to do ourselves. We were pretty certain that the yard trash collection guys hated us because there was always a pile of branches, bags of leaves or some time of yard debris for months on end. I think it took us a good 2 years to really get the yard under control. We did have some plum trees, one Bradford pear and a couple other big trees that up to this day, we really never knew what kind they were.

Of course when you have large trees so close to your house, there comes a lot of risk. Every storm that blew through, we would panic that a large branch would crash through our bedroom window or it would break and fall onto the roof. It finally came the point of letting it all go. In late December, we had our trees removed with the exception of the Bradford pear since it was not causing any problems. It was really hard watching the trees that our daughters used to climb and swing from the branches get cut down. They were just too overgrown and the roots were getting way out of control. We just couldn't risk keeping them anymore. When all of the trees were removed it looked and felt so strange outside. We no longer had shade and our back yard became overly plain and sad looking. I have hinted around to my husband for probably more than 7 years that I really wanted a willow tree in the back yard. Now that all of our trees were gone, it made him a bit more open to getting one planted for me. Of course, he complained that I wanted so badly to get rid of the other trees only to turn around to get another tree.

We were looking around our local Lowe's recently and noticed that all of their trees were on clearance. Although we were just browsing, we came across a willow tree. Even better, the clearance price was only $5.00! My husband did not hesitate to buy it for me. I'm pretty sure he was side-eyeing me just a pinch :)

So here she is, my lovely corkscrew willow! The branches are supposed to have a curvy shape as the tree grows and it is supposed to be pretty for all 4 seasons. I'm so happy to watch her grow and add some much needed beauty and shade (eventually) to my big, empty yard. My hubby even threw in a few evergreens on the fence line. We are planning to plant a poplar tree on the other side since we need a fast-growing tree to give some extra shade. I guess good things come to those who wait. Even better, on clearance!

Thanks for reading and have a great weekend xoxo

Jun 11, 2015

Do You Think You're Depressed Or Crazy?

Have you ever felt like you are spiraling into depression or feel like you are going crazy? I think every person goes through this some time in their life and often times physicians will prescribe anti-depressants or sleep aids. I remember 3 years ago having feelings of sadness to the point where I would cry daily for hours and not know why. This went on for longer than I should have let it and I went in for a full physical. Long story short, the culprit was vitamin D deficiency. It was horribly low and I was placed on a high-dose supplement once a week, for 12 weeks. To my surprise, I felt so much better and had my life back!

This same problem has hit my entire family minus the little guy. It turns out that the darker your skin, the harder it is to absorb vitamin D from the sun. That really amazes me since we spend a good deal of time outdoors. I had labs done a month ago and my vitamin D levels have dropped again. The normal range is 30-100 and mine was at 19. I have been put back on a high-dose supplement and am due back to test my levels at the end of the twelve weeks. I really hope it works and I can find a way to get more vitamin D in my body naturally. The supplements are not good for long term since they can cause damage to your kidneys.
Image credit: The Mayo Clinic
I have noticed a lot of family and friends complaining of fatigue, exhaustion or depression and I mentioned having their vitamin D level checked. Turns out each and every one of them had the same issue. As a matter of fact, over 85% of people have low vitamin D levels and may not even know it. So before you get misdiagnosed or self-diagnose that you are depressed or anxious, get your vitamin D level checked by a simple blood test.

If you have ever had issues with vitamin D deficiency, what did you do to raise it? Please share any advice you have in the comments. Stay healthy! xo
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