29 August 2016

Our Good Life's Top Ten Things to Try

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I read a wonderful post by The Craft of Laughter and it inspired me to do this post.  In their post they talk about stepping out of your comfort zone and feeling the exhilaration of trying new things.  For us, it may be more of just broading our lives and deepening our commitment to be the best we can be. Looking at our bucket list, here are the things we want to do before the end of next summer.  So without further ado, there are our top five for each of us:


Bob's Top Five



1. Start a book
2. Save money for a trip to one or more of the following events: Masters Golf Tournament, a NASCAR Race, Kentucky Derby, College Baseball World Series, Packers Game at Lambaugh
3. Save money for a trip to one or more of the following destinations: Napa Valley, Spain, Italy, ​Alaskan Cruise, France, European Cruise, Ireland/Scotland 
4. Save money to do one or more of the following activities: really cool hot air balloon ride, sky dive
5. Go on a trip, or to an event, or complete an activity listed above


Terri's Top Five


1.  Write my children's book.  *whew, said it out loud and wrote it on paper.  Scary.
2.  Learn some type of yoga.
3.  Take a painting class and paint a landscape.
4.  Travel to Cabo San Lucas for our 40th wedding anniversary.
5.  Travel to Disney World during the Christmas season.

In all fairness, we had planned a couple of these things already but they were on our bucket list and we are doing them, so we wanted to include them.

What bucket list item are you putting off?  How can I inspire you to make the leap?

26 August 2016

Products I Loved!

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All products and books were given for free or at a reduced price in exchange for my honest opinion!

I'm in a few different groups where I am fortunate enough to do a review on products that are just coming out or that need a boost by someone who has given it a try.  I am sharing some of those wonderful products here!

My dogs are so excited to be a part of the review team at chewy.com!  We receiving a product to test and here are a couple that we did in August.  First was the poop bags.  We go through a lot of these with having two healthy dogs.  These bags were functional and easy to replace.  They come in a pleasant, fruity scent or unscented.  

We also tried the snacks Blue Buffalo Health Bars in pumpkin and cinnamon.  Wilson, our husky Westie, loved these snacks.  They were too hard and big for my 9 pound Cavachon, Truman.  He licked them but didn't try to eat it.  I was glad to see they didn't have wheat or corn in them as Wilson is prone to some skin conditions that these are known to aggreviate.  


Another product for the dogs that I love is this Gone for Good spray that I purchased through Amazon.  This stuff is awesome and works so well.  Our dogs have accidents from time to time and this product is amazing for removing the smell.  It's a stain remover, too.  The product was safe on our carpets.  It works nearly instantly, too.  We'll be ordering this again when we run out.


For me, I am in love with this rose water spray, Teddie Organics Rose Water Spray that I purchased through Amazon.  I use it as a toner but also to refresh my face during the day.  I love how it has the light smell of roses.  I buy the larger bottle for the economy and so I don't have to reorder often.  I find myself using it several times a day!  It's good for all skin types and as an added bonus, it is perfect to use after a workout or yoga as a calming effect.


I hope you found a product or two that you would like to try!  I know that I like to know in advance that a product I am interested in has been tried and proved effective.  Let me know if you decide to give any of these a try!



25 August 2016

We Have a Name! Final Edition

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For those of you who kindly participated in helping us name our house, I am sure you are glad this is over.  I have a real issue of committing to something and once I do, I lament all the choices I didn't get... but this time, following the wise advice of some dear friends, we chose a name that meant something to us which I will happily explain to you.



We chose the name Lakeside Resort.  Why?  Of all the names suggested, and some oh, so cute ones like La Vie, The Principals Office, The Doctors Inn, and others, we chose this name for some of the connections we have to it.  Let's look at Resort, first.  My son-in-law cleverly named the house The Resort the very first time he was here.  We have a special guest room for them, overlooking the lake, with its own bathroom and walk in master closet.  The room is spacious and we added a reading chair, a desk and a TV so when they come they will be in all kinds of comfort.  

Let's look at Lakeside, now.  If you know us, you know our house is across from a lake.  No one will build on that side of the lake, so we will always have a wonderful view from the porch.  Before we moved here to St. Charles, we lived on Lakewood in Jefferson City.  We chose Lakeside to honor our time in Jefferson City.  

So that's how the name Lakeside Resort came to be.  We are so happy with it, and while I would love to live in Sunset Cottage or La Vida Dulce, the best name for this house is Lakeside Resort!

Many blessings to all who helped with a name, or gave advice, or who prayed for me to make up my mind (Bob).  We love you all!


23 August 2016

Drunken Fruit

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This weekend we had a blast at two different pool parties that were held in our neighborhood.  We love the area we live in and I know we've talked about it here and here.  These pool parties are so much fun.  I'm not a big swimmer, but the atmosphere and company can't be beat.

Both times we were to bring a snack and we decided on this adult concoction called Drunken Fruit.
We've seen it called Boozy Balls and Drunk Watermelon and a number of other things as well.  The recipe is simple and is a hit where ever we take it!


Drunken Fruit

by Our Good Life
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours
Ingredients 
  • 1 medium watermelon
  • 1 large canteloupe
  • 1 c strawberry rum
  • 1 c pineapple juice
  • 1/2 c triple sec
Instructions
Cut the fruit in either balls or cubes. We think cubes are faster. Place into a large bowl.
Mix together triple sec, rum and juice.
Pour over fruit and stir to coat.
Refrigerate at least three hours, stirring to distribute liquid.
Strain and reserve liquid (if you'd like to make some amazing jello shots later!)
Serve with toothpicks handy!
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We always put a label or let people know when we get there that this dish has alcohol in it if there are going to be some kids around.

To make jello shots, open a package of watermelon jello, and place into a bowl.  Add one Knox gelatin package.  Heat up one c of juice.  Pour into jello, stir until dissolved.  Add one c of unheated juice and stir well.  Pour into disposable shot cups.  Refrigerate until firm.


21 August 2016

How to Make a Cake Mix Taste Homemade

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I bake a lot of cakes.  A lot.  Like once a month and sometimes more!  For a home cook, that's a lot of cake and especially when there are just the two of us at home.  That means we share a lot of cake. Often people ask me if it is homemade and are surprised when I tell them it's not!  I get asked over and over what my secrets are for making cake mixes taste so good.  Here are some of my not-so-secret secrets!


I use different techniques depending on the flavor of the mix.  My two most common flavors are chocolate and vanilla, so I will share what I do for each of those.  If you have a flavor that you want me to discuss, just ask in the comments.


Vanilla Cake Mix

1.  Use a good vanilla cake mix like Pillsbury Moist Supreme, Duncan Hines French Vanilla or Betty Crocker Golden Vanilla.  I like these because they are readily available in my supermarket.  When I plan ahead, I will buy the King Arthur Vanilla cake mix from their website.  

2.  Add in an extra egg or two.  

3.  Replace water with whole milk.

4.  Add in 1 teaspoon real vanilla or 1/4 teaspoon almond extract.

5.  Use melted, unsalted butter for the oil, doubling the amount of oil called for on the box.

6.  Add 1 teaspoon lemon zest.

7.  Add in 1 snack pudding cup of vanilla pudding.

8.  Add in 2 tablespoons of mayo.

Chocolate Cake Mix

1.  Add in an extra egg or two egg yolks.

2.  Use hot water instead of room temperature or cold water.

3.  Add in 1 tablespoon of coffee.

4.  Use melted butter in replace of oil, using twice the amount called for on the box.

5.  Add 1 snack pack pudding cup in chocolate.

6.  Add 2 tablespoons of mayo.

Other tips:  you can replace all the oil with applesauce in equal amounts.  The cake will tend to me a bit drier but does cut down on the fat content.  Replace milk with buttermilk and add 1/4 c more than the directions ask for.  

Be sure to check the temperature of your oven.  If you overbake or underbake, your cake will not be at its best.  There are oven thermometers you can purchase to help you with this.



I also like to use the best pans I can afford.  I have had my cake pans for years and I love them.  The heavier pans heat more evenly but are more expensive.  Try your local kitchen store or look for some online.

I hope these tips have helped you out and that you get a delicious cake to share with family and friends.  Do you have any tips for me to try?




19 August 2016

Continuous Candle Light

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This is a sponsored post. All opinions are mine.

I am the owner of several (like around 20) battery operated candles.  I love them.  I love the ambiance that candlelight provides and I want the safety that comes with battery operated candles.  My neighbors tell me they love seeing the candles on my front porch.  That makes me so happy!


However, my husband isn't thrilled with the amount of money I spend on batteries each month keeping my fix alive.  He doesn't complain but I know that he sees it as a waste.  So imagine my glee when I found that Groupon has fantastic deals on ...  batteries!  At Groupon Goods you can find such great deals on batteries that it even makes my husband smile!  



We use mostly C, D, and AA batteries for our candles, but I noticed that they have hearing aid batteries, chargers, button batteries, AAA and some cell phone batteries.  It would be worth your time to see if they have batteries you need.  They even have a few battery organizers!


I am always happy about saving trips to the store, so these huge multipacks of batteries save me several trips to the market PLUS, they are delivered right to my door.  How convenient is that?



Do you use Groupon Goods?  What are your favorite products to purchase through Groupon Goods?

18 August 2016

Easy Garlic and Rosemary Naan #ImprovCookingChallenge

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This month for the Improv Cooking Challenge was to use Garlic and Rosemary.  Dreamy!  These two flavors go so well together.  I can tell you I have even had them in ICE CREAM!  It was unusual but very delicious!


We grow our rosemary and many people in our neighborhood ask about it.  For us it is easy to grow, but we aren't ones to try to keep it year after year.  We like to grow it new each year as we don't care for the woody stalk one gets from an older plant.  Here's this year's batch:


We keep it in a shaded but hot place.  The garlic and the basil like sharing a home together!  There are two types of basil in there but I can't remember what they are.  We purchase these plants each year at our favorite local nursery.

This naan is super simple.  I purchase pre-made naan at my local Aldi's.  I think their naan is fantastic!  Then I whip up this simple butter and slather it all over.  Then I either grill it or broil it in my oven.  The house smells amazing while it heats up and makes you drool!

Easy Garlic and Rosemary Naan

by Our Good Life
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Ingredients (6 servings)
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt, plus more for seasoning
  • Cornmeal, for sprinkling
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary, plus a handful of small sprigs for topping
  • 3 plain premade naan
Instructions
Preheat oven to 425. In a small saucepan, heat butter and oil over medium heat. Add garlic and salt; cook, stirring, until garlic is fragrant but not browned, about 1 minute. Remove from heat; set aside. Arrange the naan on a baking sheet. Brush with butter mixture, leaving most of the garlic behind. Sprinkle rounds with chopped rosemary; arrange a few small sprigs on top of each.
Broil naan until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly. Drizzle with oil, and season with salt. Serve warm or at room temperature.
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14 August 2016

Homemade Blood Mary with Candied Bacon Swizzle #SundaySupper

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This week for #SundaySupper it is all things bacon!

If you cook bacon, they will come.

This Bloody Mary mix was created and shared at one of my husband's infamous Christmas parties and was deemed the best of the best.  We love it and it is so easy to make.  We are huge olive fans, hence the olive juice and we love Trader Joe's tomato vegetable juice blend.  There's our secrets!


For me, Bloody Mary's are about the garnish.  I have had fantastic Bloody Marys but have been disappointed due to the wimpy garnish.  Bloody Marys deserve a garnish meant for a Queen.  After all, they were named for Queen Mary 1 of England.  There is controversy about that statement, but that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Garnishes:  we love candied bacon in about anything and chose to use this as one of our favorites. You can find our recipe for Candied Bacon here.  We also love using Shrimp Cocktail on skewers. Yum.  Other favorites: slim jims, dill pickle spears, and celery filled with pimento cheese (lay it across the glass, not in it.

Homemade Bloody Mary Mix

by Our Good Life
Ingredients
  • 3 Tbsp dijon mustard
  • 3 Tbsp worchestershire sauce
  • 2 Tbsp prepared horseradish
  • 2 Tbsp Sriracha sauce
  • Juice of two lemons
  • Juice of two limes
  • 2 Tbsp olive brine
  • 1 tsp celery seed powder
  • 2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 64 oz tomato vegetable juice (I love Trader Joes)
Instructions
Combine all ingredients into a blender. Pulse several short bursts. Pour into glass, add 1 shot vodka (or more as taste prefers) and stir. Garnish.
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This Bloody Mary has kick, punch, jab, and will knock you flat if you aren't ready for it. Enjoy!


Bacon in Appetizers
Bacon for Breakfast
Bacon for Dessert
Bacon for Dinner
Bacon in Beverages
Bacon for Lunch
Bacon as a Side Dish
Sunday Supper MovementJoin the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest board.

Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.

12 August 2016

Swiss Diamond Cookware Review

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*We were given this product for free in exchange for our honest opinion. 

When I was first contacted by the Swiss Diamond Nonstick Cookware Company, I was instantly intrigued.  Diamonds are a girl's best friend, according to Marilyn Monroe, after all!  Bob and I had recently retired our former nonstick skillet and were in the market to replace one.  We thought we'd give this skillet a go and see how it worked.  But why diamonds?  Here's what the website says about it:



  1. Diamonds are durable - As the hardest material known to man, diamonds lend the coating additional strength and longevity.
  2. Diamonds are a better heat conductor than metal - Four times more conductive than copper, diamonds help distribute heat evenly across the surface of the pan. Diamonds also allow the pan to brown food like stainless steel, creating a “fond” that can be used for gravy - or easily washed away with warm soapy water.
  3.  Diamonds are naturally nonstick - One of the most valuable properties of diamonds is that they have intrinsic nonstick properties, unlike titanium reinforcement. This gives the coating outstanding nonstick release properties.
So we decided to give it a try. The skillet arrived in a timely manner in a well packed box.  The directions for care were well worded and easy to understand.  We followed the directions to give the skillet a quick soap and water wash before we used it.

Bob decided to break the skillet in with a dish that would require some nonstick power,  pan frying sausages. Pan frying is cooking with little fat.  Since sausages already have some fat in them, the skillet would have to do the work of keeping the food from sticking.


The skillet worked beautifully!  The sausages didn't stick at all, and clean up was a breeze.  We've since cooked eggs, hamburgers, sauteed vegetables and all foods released and cleaned up easily.

Some other selling points of this skillet:

You can bake with it in an over up to 500 degrees.  Bob often will create a char on a protein and want to finish it in the oven for a more tender cut.  The skillet held up easily in the 400 degree oven we used and still cleaned beautifully.

It is dishwasher safe, but the company does recommend handwashing and that is what we do.

You need very little oil so we can make our meals more healthy.

We are using bamboo utensils and have not created a scratch since using for 30 days.

The handle is designed so that the skillet is easy to handle even when filled with food.

We give this line of cookware high marks!  For people who use top notch cookware all the time, we are extremely satisfied and happy with the skillet.


10 August 2016

Blender Split Pea Soup #FoodnFlix

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This month for Food n Flix we watched the cartoon Hotel Translyvania 2 and while I was sure I wouldn't like it, I LOVED IT.  What a darling show!  It wasn't anything like I thought it would be and now I have to go back and watch the first one!  For those of you new to Food 'n' Flix, we watch a specific movie and then use it to inspire us in cooking.  A big thank you to our host, Coffee and Casseroles!

If you are not familiar with the movie, here is a synopsis: 

 Everything seems to be changing for the better at Hotel Transylvania... Dracula's rigid monster-only hotel policy has finally relaxed, opening up its doors to human guests. But behind closed coffins, Drac is worried that his adorable half-human, half-vampire grandson, Dennis, isn't showing signs of being a vampire. So while Mavis is busy visiting her human in-laws with Johnny - and in for a major cultural shock of her own - "Vampa" Drac enlists his friends Frank, Murray, Wayne and Griffin to put Dennis through a "monster-in-training" boot camp. But little do they know that Drac's grumpy and very old, old, old school dad Vlad is about to pay a family visit to the hotel. And when Vlad finds out that his great-grandson is not a pure blood - and humans are now welcome at Hotel Transylvania - things are going to get batty! Written by Sony Pictures

Cute, huh?  There are a number of food scenes, but this split pea soup was inspired from a certain, well, soup scene that happens in the movie.  Just go see it.





Blender Pea Soup

by Our Good Life
Ingredients
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 medium onion, quartered
  • 2 carrots, roughly chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, roughly chopped
  • 16 ounces frozen peas, lightly steamed in the microwave for one minute
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1⁄2 tsp ground black pepper
Instructions
Add garlic and onion to jar and secure lid. Press “Pulse” 4-5 times until ingredients are chopped up. In a large 3-quart saucepan, sautee garlic, and onion, until onions are translucent.
Zap peas in the microwave for about three minutes.
Add carrots, celery, and enough water to cover vegetables to jar and secure lid. Press “Pulse” 10-12 times until vegetables are chopped. Add peas, sauteed vegetables, milk, vegetable juice, salt and pepper into blender. Pulse until smooth.
Heat on the stove until soup begins to bubble.  Garnish with sour cream, chive oil or mint oil.
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