photo home1_zps4d192f6a.jpg  photo recipes1_zps4c065c0e.jpg  photo about1_zps9481e111.jpg  photo contact1_zps647fd1f8.jpg


Are you baking with petroleum gas, propane and/or butane?

If you are using Pam cooking spray, you are not only adding petroleum gas, propane, and butane to whatever it is you are baking, but you are also inhaling those harmful gases.  And that is exactly why the same lawyers who sued Big Tobacco are now going after certain food companies.  Check out the article:

Do you see the connection?? People used to smoke cigarettes without ever knowing they were doing their bodies harm.  That is exactly what happens every single day when people choose fake foods because of the health claims made on their labels.
 Let's take a look at just 1 unhealthy ingredient found in thousands of food products.
Coal tar...does that sound healthy? What about the same petroleum that fuels your car?  You would never guess it by the name, but "articial colors" or "artificial dyes" fit both those descriptions.  But just because these 'artificial colors' (known carcinogens) make foods more appealing, they continue to be added to foods without adding any benefit to food other than aesthetics. Some foods that include this toxin are Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, Lunchables, Fruit Roll Ups, Cheetos, the list goes on and on and people are just not aware.
If you want to learn more about food dyes, the Center for Science in the Public Interest published this article summarizing the risks associated with consuming such a dangerous toxin.

Since I am the one who does the grocery shopping, I am going to make sure that Ben and I aren't knowingly putting petroleium gas or coal tar into our bodies.  Will you do the same for your family?


All men should be taking notes from this 3rd grader

Interesting day in 3rd grade..

I confiscated this while the boy was about to pass it back to the girl, and the girl freaked out saying "That's just my pretend cell phone.  Can I put it in my backpack?!?!" 

It says, "From: your secret admirer". Amber excitedly showed me this note she found in her desk today.  Hope it's not from the same boy who checked the 'yes' box in the earlier note!


Have you ever had one of these months?!

It all started with our tortilla maker.  We made a handful of tortillas when we did the marathon cooking, and then it just decided not to turn back on.

Our slow cooker--which we *loved*--will not stay on!! Last month, I came home from being out all day and expected to walk into a house filled with the smell of yummy pasta sauce, but the slow cooker had somehow turned off.  I turned it back on and it was fine.  Well now it won't stay on for longer than 5 mintues.  I've read a handful of the 1 star reviews on Amazon and it seems that a lot of people have this problem.

Our washer broke the week I came home from church camp.  Yes, I came home with dirty, stinky clothes from camp and our washing machine would not spin or empty water.  Thankfully the owner of our home quickly ordered us a new one.  [Sidenote: The new one got delivered just moments before we had friends show up for lunch. And all that water that wouldn't empty finally did get emptied from the washer, all over our laundry room floor.]

disapproving look because of the smell from the old laundry water that got spilled.  thank you, other friend, for not caring. :)

You're not going to believe this...yes, the immersion blender.  Last night as I was turning tomatoes into marinara sauce, the blade stopped spinning and I didn't realize it, which made the motor work really hard and get really hot, which made something inside of it melt.  When I pulled the attachment off there was hot goo dripping out of it.

Have you ever had one of these months?!


Weeklong birthdays..

We like to celebrate birthdays for an entire week around here.  And this past weekend, we did just that.  Ben and I had an awesome dinner at his all-time fave restaurant, Halls Chophouse, unfortunately it's one of those *once a year* type places because of the prices.
We caught the sunrise on Saturday morning (this was definitely a gift to Ben--I am not a morning person) and then fished & crabbed for the rest of the morning and afternoon.
It was a great weekend.
What did ya'll do over the weekend??
happy birthday Ben!

love living on the coast
the stringray I caught--don't mind the crazy hair!

Ben accidentally hooked a crab on his pole!


Pure chaos

Last week, Ben and I had a conversation that went something like this:
Me: Guess what we are going to do Saturday?
Ben: What?
Me: Well, I found this blog...
Ben: (winces)
Me: It gives you a grocery store list and all the recipes/instructions to cook all of your meals for a month in 1 day!! 
Ben: Ummm,(starting to sweat and looking very nervous) oookay.
I know, our lives are pretty exciting. 
I wish I could say we actually succeeded, but we came so close!
It was pure kitchen chaos. We started the morning at the farmer's market getting as much as we could there, and the rest at the grocery store.  And then spent the entire day chopping, dicing, mixing, and freezing.  The exciting part about it is that for the rest of the month, all we have to do is pull a meal out of the freezer and throw it in the oven.  And so far, the meals we've had have been awesome!  In order to finish all of the cooking in a day, I would highly recommend doing the grocery shopping and some of the prepping the day before.
The blog is and we did the 'whole foods' menu.
Let me just say, I am very happy we are celebrating Ben's birthday this weekend and not chopping, dicing, mixing, and freezing.

What are ya'll doing this weekend?
most of the groceries that we used in 1 day

grating. so. much. grating.


My almost meltdown pt.2

Before I pick up where I left off, I have to give a shout-out to my handsome husband because it was his birthday yesterday--HAPPY BIRTHDAY BEN (yesterday)!  Of course, my true amateur colors found a way to shine when I forgot to spray the ramekins.  But we were able to scrape the sides and it was fine!!

banana chocolate souffle, vanilla gelato, and homemade chocolate sauce
birthday lunch 
We finished the night off eating Food Babe's version of a chick-fil-a sandwich and watching Cool Hand Luke--one of his favorite movies.  

So I left off with the thing that happened that stopped my almost meltdown from turning into a huge meltdown.  Let me tell you in 1 word what it was that happened: God.
God happened!  I started my car, still feeling really sorry for myself, started driving back home, and it hit me.  I have so much to be thankful for.  Maybe the person who got the job has a family to feed, or a lot of bills piling up that they cannot pay, or maybe they are just a better fit.  God made sure the right person got the job.

James 1:2-4  Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let  endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

God will give me that perfect result--I just have to trust in Him.


In the meantime

If you are looking for part 2 of yesterday's post, it's not here!  I can't wait to share what stopped that meltdown from getting out of control, and I should have time to do that later this week.

In the meantime, I thought this awesome video that my two sisters and cousin made just might hold you over.
A few things to keep in mind while watching it:

  • they made this video to show in place of their "maid of honor" speech...yes, I had 3 maids of honor! 
  • Ben and I had no idea they would be showing a video, or that they were videotaping us in any of the clips that you see
  • my cousin (far right) had a beautiful baby boy a few weeks after this video was recorded
  • the video is not over at 3:18, the bloopers afterwards are hilarious
  • if you have not seen 'scarecrow arms', you really are missing out


My almost meltdown pt.1

Friday was my first day back at the school where I substitute teach most often and it was bittersweet.  It was sweet because I love the school, love the students, and have gotten to know the staff really well (and I love them too!).  It was bitter because walking in the door made me go face-to-face with a realization that I have been trying to avoid: no, I did not get a full-time job.  This whole summer I have kept a positive attitude, responding to people's questions with, "I'm sure I'll get a call soon."  I truly believed I would be 'Mrs. Shea--high school English teacher' by the time August rolled around, so it was easy for me to keep that positive attitude, until my almost meltdown.
Well, this almost meltdown happened Friday.  It didn't have anything to do with the first day of school--that was great! I taught in an English favorite! I had 6th, 7th, and 8th graders and did not have a single problem all day-which is rare for a substitute teacher. It happened after school, around 3:20pm while I was sitting in my car in the parking lot of a high school.
About two weeks prior, I applied for an English opening at this high school.  Once I hit submit on my application, I received an email stating something along the lines of, "Thank you for your application.   The school will contact you if they are interested.  DO NOT CONTACT THE SCHOOL."  'Of course I'm going to contact the school,' I thought. All teachers know that it is always best to meet the principal in person, even when applying online.  But then these evil thoughts started creeping into my mind, 'Are you sure you want to contact them?! They will probably be frustrated that you are contacting the schools after already applying and receiving the notice about not contacting them!' 
So, I didn't contact the school.
Thursday night (the night before my first day back at school) the English position was still posted.  I finally convinced myself, with the encouragement of another teacher, that I need to contact the school.  So 2:45 on Friday rolls around and I head straight to the school (right after stopping at Ben's office to pick up my printed him!) and confidently stride into the front office.  I am greeted with a look of recognition from the principal (I substitute taught there several times last year) and I tell her of my interest in the open position.
Then. her. face. fell.
"Why didn't you come sooner."  "We just filled the position."
Well that did it.  The lump started forming in my throat, I thanked her for her time and left my resume in case something opens up.  I walked back to my car, and *voila*, the positive attitude was long gone.  I sat there in my car, unable to drive, having a big pity party for myself.
But then, right before the almost meltdown turned into a full-blown meltdown with Celine Dion's "Unbreak My Heart" blaring in the background, something happened
To find out what happened, subscribe (click 'Join this site' to get the blog post in your email) or check back tomorrow!


I'm famous!!

Not really.  But I am featured in this video.....and it's about to go viral.  ;)
Ok, so what if there are only 35 views?! 

Want to see another awesome video that I am featured in?
Check out this one.  I really love watching that one.  Can't believe it's already been 1 year.


30 broccoli florets?!

That's how much broccoli I need every day to meet the CDC's (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) daily recommended vegetable intake.  For me personally, they recommend I eat 2 cups of fruit and 3 cups of vegetables a day.  Or 30 broccoli heads and 2 large oranges.  Or 3 ears of corn and 64 grapes.  You get the point--that's a lot of fruit and vegetables.  Especially for someone who used to claim, "I just don't like vegetables, so I don't eat them.  Any of them."
You can put in your age, sex, and amount of physical activity by clicking here to find out what is recommended for you. 
So why does this matter? Who cares if we meet our daily recommended intake?!
Well, many studies, including this one done by Harvard School of Public Health, have proven that eating fruits and vegetables will lower your blood pressure, reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer...the list goes on and on! This sounds amazing--but the first downfall is that I have to eat 30 broccoli florets every day to get these benefits!! 
Another downfall is that most of the fruits and vegetables we buy from the grocery store are covered in pesticides.  Pesticides are toxic and have been linked (by U.S. and international government agencies) to brain and nervous system toxicity, cancer, hormone disruption, skin, eye, and lung you mean that my horribly dry and itchy skin can be related to pesticides?!  Crazy, right?
Well don't you fret, because the EWG (Environmental Working Group) recommends that while you should strive to always buy all fruits and vegetables organic to avoid pesticides completely, it is still always better to eat non-organic fruits/vegetables than processed junk food.  And it's better to eat them non-organic than to not eat them at all.  So to help us all out, they came out with the  'dirty dozen' and 'clean 15', and wouldn't you know, an apple a day might keep the doctor away, or it might not if it is not organic because 98% of apples are covered in pesticides.
Oh, and what about the '30 broccoli florets a day' downfall?  Well that's where this handy dandy juicer comes in that I just got and am super excited about!! I am new to the 'juicing' world, but have been learning about the benefits of juicing for quite some time now.
After opening it, I immediately had to try some juice--so I pulled every fruit and vegetable out of our fridge--carrots, celery, grapes, apples, blueberries, and part of a lemon.  And voila!! It was amazing, cancer fighting juice!!

If you have a juicer, what are some of your favorite combinations??


Church camp

A few Wednesdays ago (Aug 1) I had lunch with a friend.  We made awesome veggie sandwiches that included our own homemade hummus (I promise I'll make them again soon and take pictures!) and talked, talked, talked.  While chatting, she told me about her much prayed about decision to go to The Flow--a week long church camp for high-schoolers in the mountains of Tennessee.  She asked me if I would pray about it, and of course my response was "Yea--I will definitely pray for you"...but then she clarified, "Thanks, but I want you to pray about being a leader as well."  Fast forward 5 days and I am sitting in a van with that friend and a bunch of teenagers.  About to embark on an 8 hour journey.  Singing along to boy bands.
The week-long journey consisted of: morning sessions,  small group, quiet time, waterslides, sand volleyball, evening sessions, hiking, white water rafting, new friendships, getting blobbed at the lake, amazing rock-out worship sessions, laughs, tears, and just enough sleep to fuel all of these activities.    The best part of the entire week, better than all of these activities, was that I had an entire week without distractions to focus on God.  To study God's Word and apply it to my life.
Here is a little peak into my journal from the first night:

...Once we got on the road, the 7 1/2 hour drive went by fairly quickly.  I had so much fun getting to know the girls in my van and can already tell this week is going to be filled with some pretty amazing people.  We stopped for lunch and I had a sandwich with almond butter, apple slices, and granola that my wonderful husband packed for me.  :)  Thank you God for blessing me with such an amazing man.  :)  Our lesson tonight is one I know I will return to for many years to come.  Drew taught about storms and how God knows every storm I will go through, how He is always there in the storm, and that He has a purpose for the storm--to do something in me that He couldn't do any other way.  "Sometimes He calms the storm, but sometimes He calms His child."  Lord, I pray that if you choose not to calm the next storm I face that you'll calm my heart.  I wonder what storms Ben and I will face….
the group that went hiking

my small group, I love these girls 
the waterfall at the end of the hike

the 'rock slide' at the bottom of the waterfall


"See you laters" are always so hard....

I know, I know...I just came back! And now I'm leaving.  But don't you worry, I will be back.  Again.
Ben is sending me to church camp today.  He says I need to learn to be more churchy. So he's sending me away, for 6 days! 
Juuuust kiiiiidding (about the 'sending me away' part)!  But I am going to be a leader for a high school church camp, and yes--we are leaving today!! 
I'm sure I will have a lot of fun stories to share when I get back on Saturday, if only you'll be patient.  I'm going to try to eat as healthy as possible, which means I packed a lot of food and I don't even know if that's allowed.  Already breaking the rules! 

See ya'll Saturday!


Guilty pleasures

Guilty pleasures...I have a lot of them! We really try to eat healthy most of the time.  Ben likes to remind me that we do need a balance...and I do not mind finding that balance if it includes Indian food.
I grew up eating amazing, homemade Indian food on the weekends (and McDonalds, BK, Phil's Pizza, The Dugout's cheesedogs, White Castles, etc. during the week), so smelling curry powder, garam masala, and cumin when I walk into a building always takes me back to my childhood.  And makes me extremely hungry.
We have been looking for Indian restaurants in the area without success for quite some time now.  SO as you can imagine, I did not hesitate to buy a groupon a few weeks ago for Fusion when my happy little fingers came across it.  
The food was delicious! And yes, it was definitely a guilty pleasure as I am positive they do not use organic yogurt, organic spices, or hormone/antibiotic free/grass fed meat (I did opt for the veg. curry)..but we are allowed those every once in a while, right? 
My curry filled belly says YES! Or Delhi belly--as my sister likes to call it.  ;)
What are some of your guilty pleasures? Come on, I know you're not all perfect!!
perfect samosa

curry+naan+rice+lassi=pure joy

we try to eat only the desserts we make so we can control what is in it, but we could not help ourselves...would you be able to??


My first stir fry

I made stir fry for the first time last night and it was amazing! Oops...did I say I made it? I have a tendency of doing that, taking all the credit.  Well, Ben and I made stir fry last night and it was amazing.  It is too easy not to make, so I expect everyone who is reading this to try it and tell me how it was!! Take pictures, please!
Foodbabe is extremely knowledgeable in regards to healthy eating.  I love looking through her posts and learning more about what I'm putting in my body.
We used broccoli instead of cauliflower...Ben hates cauliflower.  And he said he would have liked a little more Tamari (type of soy sauce) on it next time.  There will be a next time!
What did ya'll eat for dinner last night? Did you cook alone or with a friend/hubby? 
We munched on a salad while doing the prep work..we were both pretty hungry!
This salad has arugula, kale, spinach, broccoli sprouts, blueberries, yellow pepper and lemon/evoo dressing.

prepping the veggies

helping chop--I love having a man who likes to help in the kitchen

so delicious! aaaaaand we get to have leftovers for lunch today!!  :)



I started this blog as a way to keep in touch with family and friends while I taught English in Okinawa.  
My last post was in February of 2010--right before I got engaged and Ben deployed.  I didn't keep up with posts because I was doing anything and everything except sitting home and thinking.  Or sitting home and writing.  
I took up karate.  Tennis lessons.  Japanese lessons.  Exploring Okinawa.  Going to baseball games and yelling things in Japanese that I didn't understand.  Walking my cat. You get the point.  
Hit fastforward and Ben came home in December. I moved home in March of 2011. We got married in August. I moved to South Carolina in September, and here we are at our 1 year anniversary...don't have a picture to share yet since our anniversary is August 13th. But will fo'sho have one as soon as we are back from..........Ben-please fill in the blank!! They won't tell me, they promise!  :)

So! As you can read by clicking on About, I am starting the blog back up and going to post every few days/weeks/hopefullynotmonths/Ireallyhopenotyears about what is going on in our 'trying to eat and live toxic free' lives.
And we've got major changes to make.  Can't wait to see how it turns out!

yelling things in Japanese
her classic 'low crawl' move

reunion at Okinawa airport

I moved home in March of 2011.
shocked to see all my friends and family at
what I thought was my sister's birthday party

surreal moment