Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Sparkling Strawberry Champagne Cocktail

Strawberry Champagne Cocktail

Sometimes even the best laid plans go awry, don't they?  Take Mother's Day for instance.  I had plans of being unabashedly spoiled by my family.  Think pancakes prepared for me (not by me), someone else doing the dishes, a nice long nap and then dinner with my own mom.  Sigh... all the makings of a "perfect" leisurely day, yes?

Alas, the fantasy somehow doesn't always quite unfold as planned, and now I find myself questioning, "What really is prefect, anyway?".

Liv adding in a last minute dance competition on Mother's Day found me up at 4:50AM making pancakes to fuel her for the morning.  Rushing, we just made our 5:15 departure with hair and makeup done, costumes in hand, and lunch prepared and packed for the day.  Luckily our travel time to San Diego took a mere 26 minutes getting us to UCSD early, however I had left the kitchen strewn with the remnants of pancake and lunch prep along a list waiting for me to finish before my parents arrived later that evening for dinner.  

My Liv... :)
Competition days are exciting and bring me complete joy as I watch my confident, beautiful girl up there on that stage, however, after some 6 hours surrounded by blaring music and hundreds of teenage dancers one's head can begin to ache a bit.

Arriving home by 2PM and with only 2 1/2 hours to get dinner on the table I set to cleaning the kitchen from the morning mess and I'll admit to feeling a bit miffed that no one stepped up to help.   It was Mother's Day after all, wasn't it?

Hours later with a tidy kitchen, freshly made garlic and sundried tomato bread (my mom's favorite - recipe coming soon!), dinner prepared and dessert baked, Mom and Dad arrived and I shared a beer with my dad completely forgetting to prepare the Strawberry Champagne Cocktail I had planned.

After a lovely dinner, my husband and I cleaned up the kitchen again and I longed for a bath and bed when my son called in needed help with an issue at college.  Just finishing the call, Liv came down needing help with her homework and my husband commented that his uniform shirts weren't ready for him to head to work in the morning.  Sigh.

Feeling tired, overlooked, and even a little unappreciated, I finally found that bath.  Easing my tired back my phone beeped as my son texted a thanks for helping him along with "Looking forward to seeing you in a few weeks.  I have a few friends I hope you'll be able to meet."  Wow... he really wants me to meet his friends?  My heart lifted.

Popping in later to tell Liv goodnight she said, "Come here..." and enveloping me in a huge hug it was the "Mom... I'm so lucky God gave me to you.  You're the best mom ever.  I don't know what I'd do without you!" that completely melted my heart.

Heading to bed my husband also embraced me whispering, "You were amazing today... thanks for holding our family together."

It was then that I reflected that yes... my day had indeed been perfect after all.  I spent Mother's Day doing exactly what I love.  Being a mom.  And I wouldn't change a thing.

And so the spoiling was left for today when Stacy of Food Lust People Love completely spoiled me with her version of this fabulous Strawberry Champagne Cocktail.  May's Blogger Clue Series (#BloggerClue) prompt of "Berries" transported me to the other side of the world where I perused Stacy's incredible recipes and learned a bit about her life in Dubai.  With her lovely smile and kind heart, Stacy references her many travels and warms my heart with her love of her girls, husband and adorable boxer, Beso.

Choosing from a  plethora of luscious berry recipes including Blueberry Muffins, raspberry treats and even more strawberry muffins and breads,  this Strawberry Champagne Cocktail had been meant for Mother's Day, but ended up being the perfect complement to a spontaneous Day After Mother's Day brunch with my husband as we laughed and completed the photo shoot together.

So here's to Stacy, a mom like me who gets by day to day and loves her job as much as I do.  Cheers my friend!  Thanks for spoiling me today.

And now won't you join me as we discover what the rest of our lovely Blogger Clue Society brings to the table?

Strawberry Champagne Cocktail

Monday, May 4, 2015

Blueberry Banana Almond Smoothie


Blueberry and banana... simply one of life's perfect combos, and one we've been blending to morning smoothies for years.  Be it an addition to a plethora of fruits, creamy with yogurt or milk of some sort, or just blended together for a creamy frozen treat, we never tire of the pair.

But today we added almond, and oh my heavens, I have a new favorite.  Already creamy with almond milk, I attempted to boost Liv's protein even more with a scoop of almond butter, and the addition elevated the smoothie to pure decadence.

Almost more dessert tasting than healthy morning starter, Liv's comment of, "Mom... Yes. You totally win!" as she sent a snapchat to her friends had my heart swelling.

While we used almond milk for our version, any milk will do, and I can only imagine a carton of creamy vanilla yogurt would be a delightful addition.  Blueberries, banana and almond butter... who knew?

Blueberry Banana Almond Smoothie
Creamy and filled with blueberry banana goodness, a scoop of almond butter gives this a milkshake taste.
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1 cup almond milk (we use unsweetened Silk original)
1 cup organic blueberries
1/2 to 3/4 cup frozen banana (about 1 medium)
1-2 Tbs almond butter
1 Tbs maple syrup (optional)
handful ice

Place all ingredients into a blender and blend until creamy.  If the mix is too thick add additional milk or a little water.

Garnish with a blueberry or two and enjoy! 

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Not Your Average Margarita... A 10 Not-So-Classic Margarita Recipe RoundUp


Picture this... 108ºF in the shade, sunset overlooking the pool, and a Classic Margarita shaken tableside, then poured over ice.  Does it get much better than that?  Made with just a few quality ingredients, it's my favorite Margarita memory and took place at the Border Grill in Las Vegas.

I'm a Classic Margarita Girl through and through, and I've been known to send a drink back after I've been told "Oh... you're going to love it!".  I tend to grill my servers before ordering explaining that I'm extraordinarily picky about my 'ritas -  I don't like sweet and actually tasting the tequila is a must.  It continually amazes me how hard it is to find one that lives up to its hype.

However on occasion, I do like to shake things up and work in a flavored Margarita.  And here I have a fabulous roundup of 10 "Not-So-Classic" Margaritas from some of the most amazing bloggers on the web.  You just may want to whip one up for Cinco de Mayo, a pool party, or maybe just because it's Saturday.

Which one is your favorite?  (Click the Margarita Titles to go to the recipes and let these bloggers know what you think!). 

Pineapple and Coconut

Liv Life

Valerie's Kitchen
All Day I Dream About Food

Cravings of a Lunatic

The Housewife in Training Files

Chambord Margarita
Iowa Girl Eats

Mango Coconut Margarita
Snappy Gourmet

Paleo Margarita
A Girl Worth Saving

Margarita Lime Gelatin Shots
Liv Life

Thursday, April 23, 2015

NatureZway Bamboo Earth-Friendly Products


I don't often do product reviews here on Liv Life, however, this is a discovery I feel I must share.  Right up front, I'll tell you NatureZway sent me these products to try, but they have not paid me to write this post and there are no affiliate links included.  These bamboo cleaning products are simply too cool not to review, and as we celebrate Earth Day, what better time than now?

Made from sustainable, organic bamboo, NatureZway answers all sorts of cleaning and household questions in an eco-friendly manner,  but after using (and falling in love with) the products my first question was, "How much is this going to cost me?".  My next visit to Sprouts answered that question where I found the Bamboo Perforated Towels on sale for $1.99 (Note:  Regular Price is 3.29 at Sprouts).  Seriously... I'm totally sold.  Now let me tell you why.

Super strong and absorbant... Safe on all surfaces
I have to admit I let the products (Perforated Towels, Bamboo Sponge and Bamboo Drying Cloth) sit in the box for a while assuming a paper towel is a paper towel, right?  Wrong.  These Perforated Towels are like paper towels, only they aren't.  Yes, they can be thrown away like paper towels (but without the guilt because they didn't use trees and they are a natural product that degrades easily with no footprint), and they clean like paper towels (only they are way more absorbent), and they are soft.  Super soft, and most importantly can be rinsed out and used again and again - according to the NatureZway site up to 100 times.  Take that average, thin, scratchy paper towel!

After opening the package I found myself sort of hoarding the towels.  Liv wanted to use them for quick jobs, ie:  cleaning crumbs off of the counter, and then tossing the towel away, but I stopped her.  Actually, we've had the talk about using paper towels for such jobs too and how would she like to pay for them out of her spending budget?  Not so much, thank you, she said.

But I did let her put the towels to the test -  wet it, wipe the crumbs, then rinse it, wipe the table, then rinse it, then wipe the floor and rinse it, and I have to ssay she kind of had fun seeing how far the towel would go before disintegrating, and actually asked what else she could wipe with it.

Amazingly, I had this 16-year old wipe down the nearly the entire kitchen including the floor before she realized what was going on and promptly quit.  The towel, though, didn't, and made it through spot cleaning the entire floor after all the surfaces she had cleaned before I finally deemed it too dirty to rinse again and use anywhere else.

Suffice to say I love these towels.  I love the sponge, and I love the drying cloth.  The drying cloth is so soft, I've actually been using one to dust my dining room table and furniture (and I'm over-protective of those surfaces regarding scratching).

Facts about the products
  • Eco-Friendly made of renewable resources
  • Leaves minimal to zero footprint on the earth
  • No chemical or harmful residues left behind
  • Affordable (Seriously... $1.99 at Sprouts for the perforated towels!)

Bamboo Facts
  • Bamboo is from the grass family and is easily renewable
  • Fast growing... matures in just 3 years
  • Takes up less space and land than trees
  • Uses less water than trees
  • Uses zero pesticides to grow
  • Reduces Greenhouse gases and captures more CO2 from the atmosphere than trees or cotton

My thanks to NatureZway for reaching out to me and introducing me to their bamboo line.  I'm sold... a complete bamboo convert!  I haven't seen every product in stores yet (they have the perforated towels, sponges and drying cloths in addition to floor wipes, bath tissues, waste bags and I hear pet cleaning products are coming soon), but I'll be keeping my eye out.  I'm all about keeping things natural in my world, and these NatureZway Bamboo Products do just that.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Coconut Yeasted Belgian Waffles


Weekends are made for sleepovers and sleepy Saturdays.  And special breakfasts.  And sometimes second helpings.

So with a special request for "something coconut", I've got a batch of Coconut Belgian Waffle batter resting in my fridge, all ready to toss in the waffle maker for the girls in the morning.  Bringing a little bit of the tropics to your table, this recipe comes together in a snap and has crispy Belgian waffles ready for fruit and syrup in no time.

Liv likes coconut, but she only likes a hint of the flavor, and the coconut oil in this recipe does just that.  Want more coconut?  Sprinkle shredded coconut directly into the batter or simply top with fruit and sprinkle your extra shredded coconut there.

And while these waffles are a lovely treat for a leisurely weekend, the night before batter prep also makes them a good choice for a hot school breakfast when pressed for time in the morning.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Classic Pico de Gallo Salsa


Many times college days don't bring the best nutrition.  However, I have to admit I spent my college years practically living on salsa, and I hereby propose the concoction to be its own food group.

Filled with juicy tomatoes, onions, garlic, cilantro and a squeeze of lime, we can't really get more "fresh", can we?  And while it might be a
Instagram shot with a shot!  :)
stretch, if we add organic corn tortilla chips, we've now added corn too.  Heck... toss in a side of guacamole and we have a full meal!  But I'll save that one for another post.

In all sincerity, salsa really can be a healthy food, but you do have to be careful.  Many store bought jars can be filled with not so desirable ingredients, like added oils or sugars.  Really, do we need sugar in salsa?

Hence, making your own keeps the ingredients list in your control, and while your at it you can tweak the flavors to your personal preference.  This easy Pico de Gallo Salsa version is a snap to put together, and when you bring this bursting with flavor food group condiment to your next Cinco de Mayo gathering you're sure to be the hit of the party.

Fresh, simple, and so much more flavorful than the jar, keep an eye out for beautiful (or even not beautiful), ripe tomatoes at your local markets, and you too can call salsa dinner.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Green Tea with Ginger and Mint... A Detox Tummy Tamer


We've all done it on occasion.  You know... eaten a few too many helpings at a picnic, perhaps indulged in that extra cocktail we didn't really need, or maybe even finished off the last slice of pizza simply so we didn't have to wrap it.  And unfortunately, sometimes the after effects of these indulgences can leave us a little bloated, queasy, or purely parched from too much salt.

While many of us turn to "detox" drinks to help, and yes, many of them do make us feel better, I have a feeling that pure hydration plays a key role.  But add in a slice of ginger,  green tea and a few sprigs of mint, and you actually do add ingredients that can help.

Green Tea with Ginger and Mint... A Detox Tummy Tamer
Green Tea:  Filled with antioxidants and polyphenols, green tea is said to improve immunity, help rid the body of free-radicals thereby helping to protect against disease, speed up your metabolic rate and re-hydrate.  A little caffeine can also help ease an aching head. 

Ginger:  Known to provide gastrointestinal relief, ginger is many a pregnant woman's best friend.  Safe to take during pregnancy (in proper doses... check with your doctor first), ginger has been proven to provide relief in many cases.  Ginger is also the first thing I pack when heading on a cruise, and has seen me through rough seas with minimal issues (and I'm fairly sensitive to motion sickness).

Mint:  A well known appetizer or palate cleanser, mint promotes digestion.  Soothing the stomach in cases of indigestion or inflammation, even the aroma of mint can activate the salivary glands in our mouth as well as glands which secrete digestive enzymes.

Mixed together we have a concoction to rehydrate and hopefully soothe.  Poured over ice is my preferred Detox Tummy Tamer, but my husband prefers his steaming in a mug.  Either way, a concoction of these digestive ingredients is a lovely drink on a hot day, or, the perfect Tummy Tamer for a queasy kid or friend suffering from a day of over indulgence.

Healthy, fresh ingredients, the best way to detox out the bad stuff or hydrate by the pool.  Enjoy!

Green Tea with Ginger and Mint... A Detox Tummy Tamer

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