Wednesday, August 28, 2013

A little before and after

Yesterday I posted a before and after picture on the Monkeys and Moustaches Facebook page and on Instagram.  I keep getting questions from people about why I'm exercising and why I'm trying to eat healthier.  My nĂºmero UNO answer is that I need to be a role model for my kids.  I have a 9 year old boy, a 5 year old girl and a 16 month old girl that I have to be around a long time for.  I have to teach them the right things about living  healthy so they can live long lives and be role models for their children.  They watch my every move and pretend to be like me. Because of this, I try to keep a lot from them.  I don't curse, I don't watch questionable tv when they are awake.  I teach them to be respectful and polite and kind to others.  Unfortunately some of the things I did in front of them weren't the best choices.  That included my over-eating and poor food choices. Monkey see, Monkey do, right?  So I had to make changes so my monkeys would learn to live healthier and make better food choices.  I admit, it isn't easy.  And I also admit that I love desserts and fatty foods.  So almost 5 years ago I made a decision to change my life and do what is best for myself and my family.  

On the left was me about 4.5 years ago.  On the right is me about 3 weeks ago.  My right picture was taken about 25 lbs heavier than my lowest weight.  I had lost about 140 lbs after my first daughter was born.  Then after a death in my family i gained and lost 20-25 lbs back and forth and a pregnancy and then birth of my second daughter, I had 30 extra pounds on me.  I sort of gave up for a while. Back in May of this year I realized I had enough and wanted to be back at my lowest weight.  So Monkeys and Moustaches was born and my quest to continue to live healthier continued.  I started couch to 5k, and with the help of my friend Mika, I started doing daily exercise challenges like the 50-250 squats that I did for the month of July.  I started taking Bodywise classes and then started my own exercise challenge over on Facebook.  Since May, I will admit, I've only lost 6 lbs but the way my clothes are fitting now make me believe that the inches I've lost is more than 6 lbs worth.  My kids are watching me workout.  They do exercises right along with me.  They make better good choices and choose smaller portion sizes.  Do I cheat?  Of course!  Do I snack?  Yes! Do I let my kids eat fast food or sugary snacks?  Absolutely! But for the most part, our choices are healthy and balanced.  I am on a quest to make my life healthy and long and as happy as I can.  And knowing that other people are looking to me as inspiration just makes my heart feel like it will burst.  I'm in this for the long run, and I hope you are, too. Please continue to follow me and cheer me on.  And know that I am cheering you all on, too!!! 

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The benefits of Coconut Oil

It seems these days EVERYONE is talking about coconut oil.  People are cooking with it for their Paleo diets and letting everyone know how healthy it is for them.  But what I didn't realize is how versatile coconut oil really is!  This stuff can cure most minor first aid issues, help with your most tricky beauty problems, be used in a lot of recipes, and help with some health problems.  Crazy, right?  This is a pretty cool product!  So of course with all of these claims, I had to try it myself.  Off to Trader Joe's I went.  And I came home with this. 

Thursday, August 22, 2013

I watch this on repeat!

About 2 weeks ago, my friend showed me this video from Youtube.  It's a Funny or Die video and it is hilarious.  It stars two characters from The Sopranos, Paulie Walnuts, and Dr Jennifer Melfi.  I crack up every time I watch THIS.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Protein balls recipe

I can just imagine Beavis and Butthead laughing at the blog post's title.  he he he he. 

The other night as I was watching tv on the couch, I got my normal craving for a snack.  Of course 9pm is not the best time to be snacking, I know.  My first choice is usually a greek yogurt with toppings..... almonds, pistachios, chocolate chips, dried cranberries.  But I didnt feel like a yogurt that night.  So I searched the fridge.  And I found my chocolate almond butter that I normally dip pretzels into.  But I had no pretzels.  So I kept on searching and found this crazy concoction that at the time I had no idea if it would work or not, but it ended up being a really yummy treat! 

I took about 2/3 cups of uncooked oatmeal, and dumped it into a bowl.  Then I took my chocolate almond butter, about a half cup, (I normally keep it in the fridge) and melted it a bit.  You can use regular peanut butter, or another favorite nut/seed butter, too. 

I then took a scoop of a chocolate protein powder and added it to the oats, mixed in the almond butter and mushed it up with my hands until it was a thick dough.  I was going to add some chocolate chips, but then got the bright idea to melt them in the microwave (a handful, 20-30 seconds at a time until it is smooth and glossy) I then formed the dough into golf ball size balls and dipped them in the melted chocolate.  I then put them aside to cool.  I tried one before bed, then wrapped the extras in foil, then put them in a ziploc bag and tossed them in the fridge.  Now, when a craving strikes, I have the perfect quick snack.  

Monday, August 19, 2013

Allergies, Asthma, Eczema

I just got into a conversation over on the Facebook page with a friend who, although I didn't know it before, has allergies and asthma.  My 9 year old has allergies, asthma, and eczema.  My 16 month old has shown some signs of allergies, even though she hasn't been tested yet. And I have allergies (and am in my mid 30's).  I'm wondering if any of my readers have allergies, asthma, and eczema, and I'm wondering what ages and stages you all are at?  My son's allergies are mostly life threatening, although he does have some milder allergies.  His asthma is mostly sports induced.  His eczema is worsened by changes of seasons and heat.  My allergies are mostly mild, but my shrimp allergy has caused some anaphylaxis.  My baby's allergies are yet to be determined, but she has testing in about 6 weeks.  How about all of you?  Do I have any followers with allergies, asthma or eczema?  Do your kids or another family member have any of the above?  I'm curious.  Allergies, asthma and eczema are a huge part of my family, unfortunately.  I'll gladly post more treatment and allergy friendly posts here if I have enough of a following.  We have lots of treatment tips, recipes and advice!!! 

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Crockpot ranch chicken recipe

There are many days I am in a pinch for dinner.  My Husband works a lot, and so its just me, running around with the kids to appointments, classes, sports, school, etc.  My crockpot saves me a lot of time and frustration.  I've had the same crockpot since my wedding 10 years ago, and I use it on a weekly basis.  It is, hands down, the most frequently used item that we got for our wedding.  I use my crockpot mostly for dinner, but there are times I use it for breakfast or even dessert.  It is extremely helpful on those days when free time is non existent and fast food isnt an option.  As long as you have a recipe in mind and the groceries to match, with a crockpot, you can have dinner ready on time, no matter how busy you have been during the day.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Salty S'mores

You know me, always looking for a new twist on an old favorite.  So how could I resist making a new kind of S'mores when I heard of a salty alternative to my sweet campfire snack?  My family loves making S'mores.  We make them year round.  It's usually a Sunday night tradition.  My Husband is home, the fire is lit, the marshmallows are out and the family is sitting around, talking and roasting.  It's family bonding as well as dessert time. So much fun, so yummy.  This recipe can be made on the campfire, or in the house when it is too cold to roast those marshmallows outside.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

A healthy pizza recipe

We are on a roll with pizza posts lately, so why not add another one?   A good friend of mine told me about this recipe a few months ago and I've been making it for my Husband and I ever since.  It is delicious and filling and can be changed each time you make it, depending on what you have in the fridge or what you are craving. 

Sunday, August 11, 2013

A new pizza recipe

I'm always on the lookout for new recipes to try.  I have to please some pretty picky kids, plus make sure that it is allergy safe.  My kids (all three of them!) love pizza.  So when I stumbled across a recipe for a no dough pizza, I was excited to give it a try. 

Friday, August 9, 2013

Who's hungry for breakfast?

I have a super yummy and super easy breakfast for you.  Low calorie, decent protein, and you can change it up according to your likes and dislikes. 

1 egg
1 slice of pepper, any color you like. 
seasoning of your choice. 
cooking spray, or olive oil, or butter/margarine to lightly coat the pan

Put a small frying pan on medium-medium high heat.  (I use setting #6 on my stovetop) Spray the pan lightly (or mist/butter it).  Place your slice of pepper in the center of the pan and slightly push it down.  Make sure the pepper is cut straight and all sides are level with the pan, or else the next step wont work well.  Now crack your egg and gently drop it into the center of the pepper.  Some of the whites might leak out from underneath the pepper, but it shouldnt be a lot. 

Now cook it for about 7 minutes or until the egg inside the pepper is cooked to your liking.  It will take a little less if you want a runny yolk.  If you want a hard yolk, it will take a minute or two more.  Sprinkle with a pinch of your favorite seasonings, salt and pepper, garlic powder, cayenne, etc.  I use a dried pesto seasoning or a seasoned salt.  You can also put some cooked bacon crumbles, onions, ham pieces, etc on it if you'd like.  Put on a plate and enjoy! 

Food Allergy Friday

As a lot of you know, two of my monkeys have food allergies.  Today is "Kids with food allergies Friday" on Peanut Free Planet.  5% of all sales from today go to the Kids With Food Allergies Network.  This is a great resource for families with food allergies.  Please consider placing an order on PeanutFree Planet today.  This is where I order all my son's safe foods.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

My favorite way to use up leftovers

I'm really not good at eating leftovers.  As a kid it was a way of life, but now as a parent, I'm not into it.  So I try to find clever ways to use up the food so it doesn't go to waste.  I'm getting pretty clever at coming up with new meals.  My family's favorite way to use leftovers is to make calzones. 

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Click Protein giveaway!

By now, you all know about my love for Click coffee flavored protein powder.  It is my absolute favorite protein, and honestly, the only one I will drink.  This past weekend I went away for a mini vacation.  I forgot my protein at home and went crazy trying to find a local store that sold it.  I had no luck and tried a random off the shelf grocery store protein in my morning shake.  Needless to say, I got my protein elsewhere over the weekend because I just couldn't choke that other protein down.  Click is my protein powder of choice, and there just isnt a substitution for it.  Next time, my beloved Click protein will be right in my suitcase when I travel.  Lesson learned!!

I use Click protein for a lot of different things.  I order it directly from the Click website.  Obviously I use it in my daily protein shake, but I also use it to make protein ice cream, which I will post the recipe for soon.  I use it in pancakes, too!  I cut the boxed pancake mix in half in the recipe and use Click protein powder to make up the difference.  It makes for a protein loaded, yummy mocha pancake!  I also add Click to plain yogurt when I just need an extra protein boost.  I add dark chocolate chips sometimes when Im having it as a dessert.  In fact, Im not the only one who uses Click protein in my recipes.  Their website has a whole recipe page using Click protein as an ingredient! Check out their recipe page HERE

If you've never tried Click protein and want to try it, THIS is a great way to start.  Three sample packets, one of each flavor, Mocha, Vanilla Latte, and decaf Mocha, at a great price.  I think I may stock up on sample packets so I can pack them when I travel!!  That way, I know I wont ever forget my Click again. 

If you have tried Click before, or you order the sample pack and decide that you love it, let the Click team know!  Check them out on Twitter and on Facebook and let them know what you think!  They love hearing that they have loyal customers!  Tell them I sent you, they are a fantastic company!

Recently I was told by the Click protein company that I could post a Click giveaway on my blog! How awesome is that???   They sent me a tub of Click protein powder in Vanilla latte flavor, two packets of their decaf mocha protein and a shaker cup to make my protein shakes on the go.  This cup has a wire whisk ball inside that makes mixing drinks super easy and it mixes everything thoroughly.  It is awesome!  The Click company told me that my winner of my Click giveaway would receive a tub of protein and a wire whisk shaker bottle directly from them!

All you have to do is share my page. or Use Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram with the hashtag #monkeysandmoustachesLOVESClick  and post a comment here that you shared.  I will choose a winner at random!    GOOD LUCK! 

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

August's exercise challenge

I started an August exercise challenge.  It is two to four different exercises each day and I'm posting it each morning over on my Facebook page, which you can find HERE  Every day is different! Join us over there, say hello, and try a quick workout each day.   Thanks for following me!

A new game for your little readers


Who doesn't love to play Bingo?  I remember going to kids Bingo as a kid, in my church basement with my Grandmother.  Everyone trying to win the little Troll dolls or My Pretty Pony or Game of Life that was up for grabs when you finally filled your row and yelled out that beloved word.  BINGO!!!  I remember my Grandmother leaving every Wednesday night with her little bingo bag, her dobbers (That I thought were the most fun are project item ever!) and her little Saint that she just knew would help her win the big money prize. 

Now times have changed, but I still love playing the game.  I took my kids to a Jr Bingo game over school break last April and they loved it.  They won things like bags of playdoh and keychains that lit up and a little toy piggie that poops (ugh).  The magic of the game was still there, that twinkle in their eye when they had an almost full row or only one or two numbers left for a full card.  I saw the excitement when they were able to finally yell out that word...... BINGO!!!!  It was as much fun for me to watch them play as it was for them to win. 

This summer my family is playing Bingo.  But a different kind of Bingo.  My son is in a heated competition with his classmates.  The school is trying to break their record of minutes read over the summer.  They have over 60,000 minutes so far, and they shattered last years record!  The top three readers win gift certificates to the school book fair in the fall...... an important prize to win!!  My son started out strong, reaching 5th place, but now is sort of losing steam with his reading.  So I grabbed a bingo game that his third grade reading teacher used in her class.  Its a reading Bingo.  Each square, just like a regular bingo, has something to cover, but in this case it is a specific book or type of book, instead of a number.  And in the center is a free choice.... a book of your choosing.  You can fill the other squares however you want, using your child's reading level. 5 squares across, 5 squares down.  Our squares are filled with things such as "Read a book about science" or "Read a Geronimo Stilton book" or "Read a book receommended by a friend".  You can use some of our ideas, or come up with your own. 

Some other good ones would be "Read a book about your state", "Read a book that was your parents favorite when they were your age" or "read a book suggested by the librarian".  We are using prizes. For each row they fill, my kids win a trip to the library.  When they fill the whole Bingo card, they get a trip to the bookstore to buy a book of their choice. 

Monday, August 5, 2013

Shopping for back to school deals

Having to shop for all new clothes before school starts can kill the budget.  Let's face it, clothes are expensive and kids grow way too fast.  As kids get older, they want brand names, expensive sneakers, the most expensive things that a lot of parents don't have the money for.  I have found ways to get around spending a fortune on my kids clothing for back to school (and year round!). 

1.  Consignment shops.  Many places have kids consignment shops that go from newborn to size 14/16.  Here you can find lots of deals.  The clothes may or may not be brand new, but most places are really choosy when it comes to taking clothing in, so chances are, you'll find some clothes in great condition for a cheap deal.  If you shop in the off season, you'll find even better deals.  For instance, I shopped at a local kids consignment at the beginning of the summer.  I was able to find a ton of winter clearance marked at 75% off the tagged price, which was already super low. I got 7 items, including two Gap dresses, 1 boutique sweater, a pair of heavy cords, 2 jean skirts from Old Navy and a Patriots Jersey for my son for $7 total!! 

2.  Yard Sales.  There are a ton of people looking to get rid of their old stuff for super cheap.  One summer I found a house that was selling all of their son's clothes that he grew out of for $1 each.  I was able to dress my kid that year in all almost brand new Gap pants and jeans for $10.  I didn't have to buy him any more pants that fall!  Scour the yardsale ads in the newspaper, look for ads on Craigslist, and ask around.  And if the yardsales you find dont have your kiddos size, pass the info on to someone who has a child that size/age.  Your friends will love you for passing on a good bargain!

3.  Have a kids clothing swap!  Invite your friends with kids over.  Have them bring whatever outgrown kids' clothes they have.  Make sure you have friends with kids who are a variety of ages and sizes so everyone can leave there with something.  The less worn, the better, so kids can have what look like brand new items.  This works with your outgrown clothes, too!  Set up your livingroom or backyard as a clothing store.  Arrange items by size, and let everyone shop! 

4.  Buy in advance.  When you are at your favorite stores, hit the clearance bins and racks.  Don't see a winter coat or a pair of shoes in your kiddo's size but they have one two sizes bigger?  If it is at a HUGE discount and you know you can't buy it for cheaper later on, buy it now!  I was once at Walmart and saw puffy winter coats for $1.  Yes, seriously, $1.  They had none in my kids sizes, just 0-3 mos and size 14/16.  My kids were in size 3 and 8 at the time.  But you know what?  They'll grow into them and when else am I going to find another winter coat for $1?  So I grabbed 2.  Now, when my son is going to play in the snow, I have backups incase he gets his good coat wet.  Plus, at that price, if it gets ripped while he's playing, I really don't care. 

5. Shop the sales!!!  Do not impulse buy.  Do your research.  My favorite sales of all time are the Old Navy stuff and save.  Every few months, they have a promotion where you walk in, grab a shopping bag, and everything you can stuff inside is an additional 30% off, or 40% if you use their store credit card.  Everything is usually included in this sale.  This is a great time to buy things that you normally need, jeans, shirts, coats, socks, pajamas, undies, etc.  AND.....  if you shop the clearance bins, you get an additional 30-40% off the clearance price! I have gotten things for around 60 cents this way, no lie! The last time I shopped this sale, I ended up getting 21 items for $32 and that included long sleeve tees, pajama sets, shoes, bathing suits, one piece outfits for the baby, and leggings for my girls.

6.  Sign up for coupons.  My favorite coupon stores are Gap, Old Navy, The Children's Place, Crazy 8, Gymboree, Carters and Osh Kosh.  They all send out a ton of coupons!   Go to their websites, and sign up with your email address. You can print and use in store, or you can shop with them online. Target has an app on the phone where you get coupons texted to you, which saves me a ton, too!

7. Ask for deals.  In a store, find a piece that you love and its at a price that you cant afford?  Ask if there is a coupon.  Or ask if the person knows when its going on sale.  The associates usually know when a sale is going to start, or they may have coupons behind the register for customer appreciation.  Most stores dont want to lose a sale, so they will go the extra mile to make the customer happy.  Plus, if you are in a store and they dont have a specific size or color that you are looking for, ask if they have a coupon for free shipping online so you can order the correct one.  You'd be surprised how often the associate will say yes!  (Disney store is great for this!)

8.  Google, google, google!  When shopping, and I do this for ANY type of shopping.... clothes, housewares, groceries, etc, google the product and "coupon" or "Discount code".  You will be shocked at how many times you will find positive results!  I almost never pay for shipping on items, and I almost always find a usable coupon for the items I am shopping for.  It may be a discount on a specific item (20% off one pair of jeans at your searched store) or it may be a coupon for a total purchase ($5 off your $25 purchase at a certain store) or you may find a free shipping code. 

9.  Outlet stores!  There are a lot of outlets out there.  There is some stigma around the thought of outlets, but I have never had a bad experience with them.  Most clothing in outlets is leftovers of discontinued colors or styles, or last years items.  Most of it is in perfect condition.  There are some sections for returns, for example our local LL Bean outlet has a bin for returned monogrammed items.  How lucky would you be if you found a backpack at an outlet like this, with your kids initials, at 80% off the retail price?!?!  I love shopping the Reebok outlet.  I always have good luck buying shoes for the whole family there.  They usually have a buy 1, get 1 half price sale, plus they send me coupons.  I have plans to go buy both of my big kids new sneakers for school using the buy1 get 1 half off deal.  Most of their sneakers are around $30-$90 instead of the original $50-$130.  So if both of my kids pick higher end Reebok sneakers in their sizes, I'd be paying maybe $135.  Plus, I have a $25 coupon off a $75 purchase.  So I am estimating that my total for back to school sneakers (for top of the line Reeboks) will be $110 for two pairs, instead of the $260 that I could be paying if I paid full price at a sports store. 

Happy shopping and good luck with the deals!!!!!  I hope I have been a big help!  Let me know if you know of other good bargains!!  And let me know if you try my tips and how much you saved.  I love hearing that my followers are using my tips!

UPDATE:  Today I took the kiddos sneaker shopping at the Reebok outlet, as promised.  And the big news is that I came in WAY UNDER BUDGET!  We got two pairs of Reebok sneakers (really nice ones, too) and my total was $84.96!  Every regular outlet price shoe was buy one get one half.  They also had a large section of shoes that were on sale for 2 pairs for $99.99, and a smaller section of 2 pairs for $60. It included mens, womens, and kids shoes.  Plus, the clothes, backpacks and socks were all on sale, too, some were an additional 60% off!   I recommend shopping there for your back to school sneaker shopping!  Don't forget to sign up for coupons! 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

An easy chicken recipe

I'm going to share with you, my all time favorite recipe to make for dinner.  It is easy and quick and it makes everyone happy.  My family gobbles it up.  Everyone who has come over for dinner when I've made it has cleaned their plate, and I bet you'll love it, too! 


Boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 package of bacon, thawed, cut in half. (I use the maple flavored, but any kind of bacon will work.)

Preheat oven to 375*.  Cube up the raw chicken,  I like to cut them into nice chunk size pieces, big enough to get two to three bites out of each cooked piece.  Cut the bacon in half, vertically.  You want each piece to be able to wrap around the chicken pieces completely.  Wrap a piece of bacon around each peice of chicken, and secure it with a toothpick pierced through the center.  Place them on a tin foil lined baking sheet and bake at 375* for about 15 minutes.  Take the pan out and brush your favorite glaze or marinade on each piece.   I use a Bourbon sauce or a pomegranate chipotle, but marmalade, bbq sauce, hoison, etc will work.  You can flip each over if you want, but it isnt mandatory. The chicken will cook all the way through. Put the pan back in the oven for another 5-10 minutes or until the bacon is fully cooked.