Tuesday, August 20, 2013

In A Bit Of A Pickle

In a pickle!
I'm one of those moms who is really not creative in that if I were to post something that I found on a blog or Pinterest, it would look like the "before" picture. Ask me to whip up a gourmet lunch or dinner, I can do that! But to make chevron chalkboard walls or tissue paper pom poms, I'm out. So, the other day through of of my blog feeds StoneGable, I received this great pickle recipe.

I had just gone to the .99 Store and scored some great mini/smaller size cucumbers in a handy, dandy carrying bag and tons of fresh produce I wrote about here. These are almost a snack sized cucumber. So, I went and got a few ingredients; vinegar, pickling salt, jars, and dill seed. I had already gotten the cucumbers and fresh dill (also .99).

After carefully reading the recipe, I started the process. It was simple enough. I made a little extra brining solution to cover small Ball pint wide mouth jars. They looked good! Try for yourself. It was rather easy for a Challenge like me.

Update: I did not wait 24 hours to try these...I waited more like 5. They were delish! I am going to have to make more and share them! Can't wait to see what they taste like tomorrow.

Monday, August 19, 2013

The Dog on The Blog

Yep. It was me.
See that face? Yep, he destroyed his ball. And he is very happy. Dog Challenge had a great day at the beach today. It's our happy place..the place for at least one hour, we forget all that needs to be done, places to go, and technology turned off (well not for the photo). Dog Challenge frolics in and out of the surf, fetching, chasing, retrieving what is his and sometimes what is not. Each week, a new set of dog friends show up. Each week someone comments on his paws and asks, "Is that a Doodle?" No. He's a Portuguese Water Dog. Possibly the greatest breed of all time. Not familiar with it? Well, there is one living in the White House as I type.

So, each week, I try and trek Dog Challenge to the beach where even I think he forgets he's a dog. I've noticed lately that after he gets the ball, he brings it to an unsuspecting pile of seaweed back at the shoreline and plops it down. This goes on for like 20 or 30 times.

On our last fling of the ball to shallow waters, I noticed it didn't float and stay on time. Instead, it sank like a rock. I trudged out to find it myself since Dog Challenge had already given up and retreated to dry land. There, laying in some shallow sand of the Pacific was the ball. His seam split wide open, and was taking on water. Poor ball. You were well loved but will need to be replaced. Until next weekend......
The victim. The ball.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Score At The Dollar Store

Have you been to your local dollar store lately? It's amazing. They sure have come a long way from their past look and feel. I still have friends and family who have not "warmed" up to the idea of the dollar store. I know, they vary from store to store and city to city. You just have to find the right one. The one in our coastal town carries the basic canned goods, home and cleaning supplies, paper goods etc., but it also carries fresh and frozen food including produce which leads me this post: I scored at the dollar store! Since we have been on a juicing kick lately, and there has been a professional set-back, I am always looking for ways to save money. All of the items and then some in the photo were purchased at the dollar store. These are all FRESH vegetables and fruit including pineapple, basil, dill, grapes, etc. I also comparative shop at my local market and found the same items priced at least 3 to 4 times higher. I got whole pineapples for .99 whereas at my local market, they were 3.99! Even a whole watermelon was .99. Crazy!
The Score at the Dollar Store

We go through ALOT of produce so tossing this stuff out and wasting it is highly unlikely. It's all fresh, blemish free and appears to be of first quality. So, the next time you are looking to save a little, check out your local dollar store. The best is to call the store directly and ask what their delivery days are so you know you are getting the freshest items. When I went, there were actually people waiting for the store to open at 8am. We've all become "savings buddies".

Monday, August 12, 2013

Juice Sayin!

Bountiful Spread (image from Yahoo Images)
Everybody's doin' it, so now my body is. Recently a friend and I began talking about juicing, the benefits of juicing and the increasing trend of juicng. Mr. Challenge and I recently watched the movie Sick, Fat and Nearly Dead with Joe Cross. It was a bit interesting to say the least but presented quite a few challenges for regular people like myself.

First, I don't drive around with a juicer in my car. I would have to make all the juice needed for the day and take it with if I am out and about. Second, there is no lakefront resort I can just check-in to and enjoy the solitude of juicing and weight loss alone. And third, could I actually stick to Joe's plan for health and weight loss. These all sound like pretty viable obstacles, so to get started, another friend came over and brought her juice to test things out.

First off, my kitchen looked like a farm stand. We had everything from apples to carrots, kale to spinach, strawberries, lemons, ginger, cucumbers, celery! You name it. We had it piled on the counter. Then, we juiced. We juiced everything we had. We made vegetable juices, fruit juices and veggie/juice blends. Even Big and Little Challenges got involved and placed their orders. We all agreed it tasted delicious and we could not possibly eat that many vegetables or fruit throughout the day. The next few days, I hit up the .99 store for their fresh produce and saved quite a bundle. They had whole pineapples for .99. Our local market had them for 3.99!

We decided to continue for the next few days but not as extreme as Joe's program. We cut out alot of junk and processed foods already in our diets and reduced sugar, caffeine and alcohol(sadly). Grapes are just not the same in the juicer! We've incorporated some solid clean eating foods and do feel a bit better. I will report back as to the long term effects/results. So far, it's been rather good. Juice Sayin'!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

About a Month To Go Until School for The Challenges

Who's ready for summer to end? I am and I'm not. First, it's nice not to have a particularly structured day where were are hustling to get out the door and to a place. Big and Little Challenges sleep late and sometimes skip a meal, or two, depending on when they wake up. (Don't worry. They catch up their meals throughout the day.) They call it summer vacation but actually I am the one who needs a vacation. Plus, I think The Challenges are getting bored. Big Challenge just asked if we are going to Chicago anytime soon. Normally I would say, "Sure," but we are running out of time to book anything. Perhaps we can take a local road trip. I am not promising anything.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

100 Days Until China

Exactly whose idea was it to go to China. Both Mr. Challenge and myself were looking for a vacation to celebrate some milestones along with another friend of mine. The obvious places such as Europe, Caribbean and Bora Bora came up. But then, suddenly we were intrigued with an almost inclusive tour of China with airfare. Would we take Big and Little Challenges? Of course we would as this would be a trip of a lifetime, in their such lifetime, of late.

We are 100 days out and the excitement is building. We have scoured travel magazines, blogs, travel websites and the like, all in anticipation of the big trip. What will we pack? How will Big Challenge and Little Challenge survive a 13 hour flight. We have every electronic device on the planet. Let's hope the batteries and charge don't fail. Realistically, this is an overnight flight so after the excitement of boarding the plane, reality sets in and we really need to get sleep. I will update about the trip along with exciting details for organizing these Life's Challenges.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

The Guiding Light

Where is it? I am not sure I see it anymore or is it so faint? Each day we are presented with life's challenges. Things as simple as we are out of milk or where do we go on vacation or how to handle an impending yet realistic professional lay-off. As a very private person, I am about to embark on a very personal challenge, one that I hope you will share with me, and perhaps break through and discover any of your life's challenges.

Today Mr. Challenge and Big Challenge went "back to school" shopping. I did not attend. I was surprised how well they did being that I did not supervise the haul. Even Little Challenge got a few cute dresses that she can grow into. We are about one month away from going back to school. I'm ready. I know the Challenges are ready.