Monday Mentionables: Crispy Baked Chicken, Avocado Recipes & Meegenius Author Challenge

Hi all! I can’t believe it’s June and there are only 1.5 weeks left of school for the kiddos! What a year it has been. Both they and I have grown, and hubby, too. Thank God that He keeps us in His hands each and every day.

So, given that summer is coming up and I will need to be keeping the munchkins entertained, this will be my last Monday Mentionables post for a while. I hope to return to it later this year or maybe even think up a new series – we’ll see. ๐Ÿ™‚ But I will still be keeping my regular posts coming once a week on Thursdays.

Here are today’s mentionables:

1. Crispy Baked Chicken. If there’s one thing kids love to eat, it’s crispy food. So with that in mind, I decided to buy some panko breadcrumbs from Trader Joe’s and use it on some chicken cutlets (also from TJ’s). I found an easy recipe here and even made my own Tonkatsu sauce from this recipe! The kids loved the crunchiness of the chicken and devoured it – and I felt like a master chef for a night. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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Oops, got E’s moving fork in the pic!

2. Avocado Recipes. Here’s a cool article with 10 delicious (at least delicious-looking) recipes using avocados! This is one green fruit (cause it has a pit!) that is yummy and good for you.

3. Meegenius Author Challenge. Just wanted to let any of you aspiring children’s authors know about this contest through Meegenius.com; if you win you get to have your story illustrated and published as an audio (read along) e-book. I participated in this challenge a couple of years ago and although I didn’t win, they still wanted my story! It’s a great way to get your foot in the proverbial door if you have written or want to write a picture book. Check out the contest info here, and my book, “A Rainbow of Nine Colors” here. ๐Ÿ™‚

And lastly, two pictures of our new pet, a preying mantis hubby caught yesterday while he was taking a walk. He said the preying mantis was literally crossing the road when he saw it and scooped it up. C decided we should keep it as a pet. Now we need to find some bugs to feed it – yikes! ๐Ÿ™

C has a soft spot for creatures, even crawly ones. :)

C has a soft spot for creatures, even crawly ones. ๐Ÿ™‚

Here's one up close and personal. Don't worry, we'll be moving "Manty" to a bigger home soon. ;)

Here’s one up close and personal. Don’t worry, we’ll be moving “Manty” to a bigger home soon. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Have a good week everyone!

Monday Mentionables: Almond Butter Cookies, DIY Beanbag & Microscopic Tears

Hello cyber-friends! Is it only Monday? ๐Ÿ˜‰ It has definitely been a more “manic” Monday here cause I feel like I’ve been moving non-stop since I woke up. But I suppose all this movin’ is getting me closer to Friday, right?

Here are today’s mentionables:

1. Almond Butter Cookies. I love the taste of almonds and even enjoy their scent; give me a bottle of almond extract to sniff and I’m a happy camper. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Not only are these nuts yummy, they are also good for your health (ie. lowering cholesterol, reducing your risk of heart disease and protecting against diabetes). These health benefits are reason enough to grab a handful of almonds to snack on. But for those of you who don’t like chewing on raw nuts, there’s another way you can eat almonds: almond butter! I bought a jar of almond butter from Costco and like everything else I buy from that store, I end up with way more product than I know what to do with. Which is why I googled “almond butter cookie recipe” the other day and discovered a new favorite way to eat almonds (besides almond tofu). This cookie is sooo good – it almost tastes like a healthy brownie! The kids loved it, too, even my picky eater, E. ๐Ÿ™‚ Check out the recipe here.

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Here’s my little assistant putting the chocolate covered sunflower seeds (which the recipe calls for and we just happened to have!) on the dough.

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The finished product! FYI, I substituted honey for the sugar which made them a little more gooey, but who doesn’t like gooey, chocolatey cookies? ๐Ÿ™‚

2. DIY Beanbag. So I decided to get crafty this weekend and make my own beanbag. I (again) googled “DIY beanbag” and found this easy set of directions (with a video of a room makeover, too!). I got an old sofa cover, cut it up and sewed the pieces together. I was hoping to have it finished by today so I could show you all a picture of it, but I didn’t realize how much stuffing it would take to fill it, so it’s not quite presentable yet. Stay tuned though… ๐Ÿ˜‰

3. Microscopic Tears. Did you ever wonder what human tears looked like under a microscope? Neither did I… until I saw this article online. Check it out to find out more about tears (there are actually 3 types of them) and to see them in a whole new way.

Alrighty, have a wonderful week! ๐Ÿ™‚

Monday Mentionables: Chia Seeds, Selfie Apps & DIY Popsicles

Hi everyone! I hope you all had a wonderful Mother’s Day! I don’t know about you, but it always seems like celebrations call for food, so that meant I was eating practically non-stop yesterday. Good thing Father’s Day is still a month away. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Here are today’s mentionables…

1. Chia Seeds. I feel like I may have blogged about chia seeds before, but a quick perusal through my “food” tagged posts didn’t bring them up, so here we go (hopefully not again, haha). Yes, these are the same seeds that grow into chia pets – but did you know that you can eat them, too (don’t worry, you won’t turn into anything leafy and green). Chia seeds are one of the new “superfoods” and are noted for their great health benefits, which include being a good source of fiber, omega 3’s and antioxidants, as well as helpful for blood sugar regulation. And the neat thing about chia seeds is that they “plump up” when they are soaked in liquid and turn into tiny, chewy gel-like balls. They are pretty popular in packaged drinks (ever heard of Mamma Chia?), which are convenient to buy and give to the kids as snacks, but also quite pricey. So I picked up a bag of them at Costco recently and am making my own chia seed drinks/smoothies. Here’s a video for DIY chia seed drinks if you want to give these seeds a try. ๐Ÿ™‚

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Here are some chia seeds I’m currently soaking in water. Don’t be scared by their appearance. ๐Ÿ˜‰

2. Selfie Apps. I actually very rarely post selfies anywhere on the web, but I think they are a great way to preserve memories (for your own personal enjoyment) when you have no photographer on hand. I have many selfies of me with the kids, as well as the four of us because sometimes that’s the only way we can get a family picture taken. ๐Ÿ˜‰ But for anyone who’s ever tried to take a selfie, you know there’s a lot of physical maneuvering involved to hold the phone as far away from you as possible and still be able to hit the button – it’s almost like playing Twister! So I was pretty excited when I heard about a new app that allows you to take hands-free selfies. It’s called FaceSnap and is currently $0.99. Check it out at this link. Also, here’s a review of 10 other camera apps to help you take the perfect selfie.

3. DIY Popsicles. If your weather is anything like mine this week (highs in the 90’s again!), then you’ll want to consider making some popsicles. ๐Ÿ™‚ Here’s a link with 21 homemade popsicle recipes that will get your mouth watering and your legs running for the kitchen! Number 17 even uses chia seeds! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Okie, have a good week everyone!

Monday Mentionables: Quinoa, Eyelid Artwork & Love Songs

Hola! Happy cinco de mayo and happy monday to you all. I hope you had a good weekend. I’m happy to announce that we finally took down our Christmas tree yesterday – it was a few months overdue, but better late than never, right? ๐Ÿ˜‰

Here are today’s mentionables:

1. Quinoa. Okay, so the first thing you need to know about this word is that it’s pronounced “keen-wa”. And it’s a type of grain with edible seeds that is closely related to spinach and tumbleweeds. Doesn’t sound too appetizing? Think again. ๐Ÿ™‚ It’s actually pretty tasty and also easy to cook. I just stick it in the rice cooker and add water (or you can try chicken broth); the ratio of quinoa to water is 1:2. Then you can either eat it straight like that in place of rice or pasta or you can mix it into a salad.

The other week we were at Sweet Tomatoes (E’s most favorite restaurant on earth) and they had a new quinoa salad. Hubby and I both liked it, so I took a picture of it and gave it a try at home. It turned out pretty well and has made it onto our regular “menu”. If you’ve never had quinoa before, I’d encourage you to give it a try. It’s super nutritious and high in antioxidant phytonutrients (try saying that fast!), which help with inflammation. You can find out more info about quinoa here.

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Courtesy of Sweet Tomatoes

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By moi ๐Ÿ˜‰

2. Eyelid Artwork. I saw this article online about a makeup artist who uses eyeliner and eye shadow to create beautiful masterpieces on eyelids. Sounds strange, but take a look and see how cool it is. Let me know if you try it out yourself. ๐Ÿ™‚

3. Love Songs. In light of today’s “holiday” – hubby and my 13th anniversary, I’m including a few of my favorite love songs. Take a listen to these if you’re in the mood for some romance. ๐Ÿ˜‰

I Will Be Here by Steven Curtis Chapman

Right Here Waiting by Richard Marx

Not a Bad Thing by Justin Timberlake

Okie, that’s all for today. Have a wonderful day! ๐Ÿ™‚

Monday Mentionables: Underwater Photos, Pie Crusts & Rice Crispy Treats

Happy Monday-before-tax-day! Argh, sigh, grr. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Let’s just say that I am thrilled to be done with taxes – finally! ๐Ÿ™‚ I feel like this calls for a celebration, don’t you? So, lift up your glass/mug/sippy cup (whatever you have on hand) and let’s toast to the next 365 days we have before the next tax day arrives.ย Clink!

I’m also celebrating the fact that E finished a major project for school – five days early! We spent Saturday afternoon working on a life-size replica of his rainforest animal of choice, theย tarsier. Thank God for the hairy fabric and big, brown eyes we found at Joann’s, which made for a much more realistic creation.

Too bad we couldn't find bigger eyes. :)

Too bad we couldn’t find bigger eyes. ๐Ÿ™‚

Moving on now to today’s mentionables:

1. Underwater Photos. I was very inspired by thisย story I read online about a photographer who overcame her aquaphobia by taking pictures of children – underwater. What a courageous and creative way of overcoming a fear! ๐Ÿ™‚ The photos are very cute as well.

2. Pie Crusts. I LOVE pie crusts. I may or may not have baked one before to eat by itself (no filling necessary!). ๐Ÿ˜‰ If you like pie crusts or pies in general, check out these 14ย designs that will make your mouth water and your creative juices flow. I think #13 (made with cookie cutters) is pretty cute.

3. Rice Crispy Treats. If you want a dessert that is faster to make than pies, you may want to try rice crispy treats. Here are threeย ideas for adding even more snap, crackle and pop to these yummy bars. They may be the prettiest and easiest treats you’ll ever make.

Alrighty, have a beautiful week! ๐Ÿ™‚

Monday Mentionables: DIY Dim Sum, Cleaning Myths & Easter Eggs

Hi everyone! Is it me or does it feel like the first few months of the year always fly by with busyness? This is the second year in a row where we have yet to take down our Christmas tree by spring. ๐Ÿ˜› I think it’s a combo of several family birthdays + holidays (Chinese New Year being one of them) + life = a tree that’s tucked away in a corner of the living room and has blended so well with the decor that we’ve forgotten about it. But I am determined to put it away THIS MONTH! Or else we won’t have anything to put up come this December. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Image courtesy of Suat Iman/freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of Suat Iman/freedigitalphotos.net

Now onto today’s mentionables…

1. DIY Dim Sum.ย If you’ve never had the chance to eat dim sum – you must try it! It’s basically a Chinese brunch type of meal that you order from little carts that the servers push around from table to table. Some of the dishes could be called “exotic“, but most of them are yummy and tasty. I came across thisย link where you can learn how to make your own dim sum! It’s worth taking a look at even if you’re not handy in the kitchen (as I am) cause the pictures are drool-inducing. ๐Ÿ˜‰ #15 is one of my favorites. What’s yours?

2. Cleaning Myths. True or false – you can use a squeegee to remove pet fur from carpets? Click on thisย link to find out the answer to this question (#7) and also learn the truth behind some other cleaning myths (ie. cleaning windows with newspapers).

3. Easter Eggs.ย It’s almost Easter! I know Resurrection Sunday is about so much more than egg hunts (and Christmas is about so much more than trees!), but I think traditionsย are important to kids and they can be a good way to share the real meaningย behind the holidays. So if you’re in the mood to decorate, check out thisย link for 5 new ways to add some color and bling (literally) to your Easter eggs.

Have a great week!

Monday Mentionables: Garlic Cheese Bread, Baked Bacon & Scrambled Eggs

Hi everyone, happy Monday to you all. ๐Ÿ™‚

So glad that spring is officially here and there are actually green leaves growing on the trees outside our house. Hope there are signs of spring in your neighborhood, too.

Today’s mentionables are all food related. I’ve been trying to make easy, no hassle meals that the kids (and we grown-ups) will like eating. I thought I’d share some of what I’ve tried with you.

1.ย Garlic Cheese Bread.ย Who doesn’t love fresh from the oven bread? Top off a store bought loaf with some butter, garlic and cheese, add a bowl of soup or salad or pasta and you’re good to go! I made my own two versions of thisย recipe I found online – one with just cheese and the other with cheese and crab meat. I think they both would have tasted better with garlic, but the kids have the taste buds of a vampire, so I left it out just to be safe. They still turned out quite yummy.

The top row is cheese + crab; the bottom row is just cheese.

The top row is cheese + crab; the bottom row is just cheese.

2.ย Baked Bacon.ย Breakfast foods are the best, don’t you think? There’s something for every kind of eater, whether you prefer savory or sweet things. The kids love to order bacon when we eat out for breakfast, so I thought we’d have our own breakfast at home – for dinner. One night last week I made a meal of scrambled eggs, bacon, hash browns and mini hot dogs, which the kids devoured. Okay, devoured may be a strong word to use here, but let’s just say they ate more than usual. ๐Ÿ˜‰ For the bacon, instead of frying it, I foundย directions online for how to bake it (and save yourself the effort of slaving away over a hot stove). It turned out nice and crispy and less greasy.

3.ย Scrambled Eggs.ย Speaking of eggs, for some reason when I have made scrambled ones at home, they don’t turn out quite as fluffy as the ones from a restaurant. So I did what any person would do – I went online to do some research and found theย key to making restaurant/hotel style eggs. The secret ingredient? H2O! I added one tablespoon of cold water for every egg and voila – fluffy eggs! Even E said they were good, which means they were GOOD. ๐Ÿ™‚

Now back to the drawing board (aka. internet) for more recipes to try out this week! If you have any suggestions for easy, kid-friendly meals, please pleaseย send them my way! ๐Ÿ™‚

Have a good Monday!

Monday Mentionables: Boiled Eggs, Penny Chic & Rascal Flatts

Happy Monday everyone! Hope you are not too blurry eyed from the time change. I think “springing forward” is much harder to adjust to than “falling back”, don’t you? Poor C (who wakes up with a smile on her face every day, I’m not kidding) woke up today in tears complaining, “I’m still tired!” Sigh. Another reason to move to Hawaii… ๐Ÿ˜‰

Here are today’s mentionables…

1. Boiled Eggs.ย Boiling eggs is not as easy as one would assume. There are actually “formulas” to getting the right soft or hard boiled egg. Here are a few tips hubby and I have picked up through our own research (aka. trial and error). For soft boiled eggs (runny on the inside), stick the eggs in a pot with enough cold water to just cover the top of the eggs (and not more), bring to a boil, turn off the fire and let the pot sit covered for 2-3 minutes, then remove the eggs and immediately submerse them in a bowl of cold water (to stop them from cooking). For hard boiled eggs, place the eggs in a pot with cold water, bring to a boil, turn off the fire and let the pot sit covered for 8 minutes, then remove the eggs and rinse under cold water. You may need to do your own research to get your egg yolks to the consistency you’d like because the type of stove you use makes a difference in how quickly it heats things up. For more detailed instructions (with cool gif’s = small moving pictures), check out thisย link.

Image courtesy of rakratchada torsap/freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of rakratchada torsap/freedigitalphotos.net

2. Penny Chic.ย Thisย website is all about dressing chic for less! We’re talking about putting together outfits with bargain finds – from Target, Walmart, H&M, Forever 21, etc. – that are easy on the eyes andย the wallet. I especially like their section “Penny Chic vs. Pricey Chic” which compares a similar clothing item from two stores, one high end and one not so high end. Also, check out their “Penny Tips” section to learn nifty information about everything from how to make the perfect sock bunย to how to wash yourย leggings.

3.ย Rascal Flatts.ย I’m not much of a country gal, but I do like this song by Rascal Flatts called “God Bless the Broken Road”. If the novel I’m working on could have a soundtrack, this song would definitely be on it. Take a listen to itย here.

Have a good week! ๐Ÿ™‚

Monday Mentionables: Green Smoothies, Cool Bikers & Editing Wizard

Welcome to Monday! It’s been raining here in CA (finally!) and it’s a great blessing. This might be the first year where I’m okay with winter lingering around a little while longer. What’s the weather like in your neck of the world? ๐Ÿ™‚

Here are today’s mentionables:

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Look at that bubbly green goodness!

1. Green Smoothies. Before you start gagging at the thought of drinking a green smoothie, you should try one! They are really quite tasty and easy to make (I use a Magic Bullet). Hubby and I started drinking them regularly this year as a way of detoxing from all the grease and sweets we devoured over the holidays. It’s a super easy way to get your intake of veggies and fruits in a couple (or more) gulps – no chewing required! I used this recipe for a kale/cilantro/apple smoothie, but you can really just make up your own. To make a smoothie more refreshing, try adding cilantro or cucumber and to sweeten it up a bit, try adding dates or any fruit.

2. Cool Bikers. I saw this very touching story on Yahoo recently about a group of bikers (of the motorcycle variety, not the pedaling kind) who are on a mission to help children who were abused. They use their tough guy/gal image to offer physical protection and emotional support to these kids by driving them to court hearings and even camping out in front of their homes overnight so the kids can sleep peacefully!ย Watch this video to see how they changed the life of one little girl.

3.ย Editing Wizard.ย For all you writers out there, there’s a great tool my critique group leader found online to help you edit your work. You just paste in your manuscript, click a button and it analyzes your text to highlight things such as overused words, cliches and redundancies. Some of its features are free to use, but you can also subscribe to their site (in other words pay money) to use the rest of them. I think this tool would actually be good for students as well. Check it outย here.

Have a good Monday!

Monday Mentionables: Pomelos, Dad Confessions & Zachary Levi

Hello everyone and hello Monday! I hope you had a good weekend. I spent some of it writing and burning the 2AM oil, so my head’s a little fuzzy this morning. It brings me back to the days when the kids were younger… and I was younger… and makes me so thankful we all are older and better sleepers now. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Here are today’s mentionables:

1. Pomelos. Do you like eating grapefruit or does the mere mention of the fruit make your mouth shrivel up in fear? If it’s the latter, then you’re in luck. Pomelos are similar to grapefruit, but they don’t leave you in a “sour sweat” (yes, I just made that up). I think they are in season because we keep seeing them everywhere or maybe C keeps seeing them everywhere because she loves round, yellow objects. She insisted on buying one and bringing it home to decorate as a chick. I kid you not.

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She gave it a picture so it wouldn’t be lonely in the fridge!

If you want to buy one and bring it home to eat, here are directions on how to cut and peel them.

2. Dad Confessions. This article on People.com was written by a “reluctant father” who learned over time how to love his daughter and love being a dad. I appreciate his honesty in sharing how his heart changed. Plus, the pictures that go along with his story are really cute.

3. Zachary Levi. Did you ever watch the TV show “Chuck”? Did you know Zachary Levi, the actor who played Chuck, can sing? I discovered his hidden talent in this video of his duet with Katharine McPhee. I’ve been listening to it on repeat this weekend as inspiration for my romance novel. ๐Ÿ™‚ Here’s also an interesting Q&A with him about his faith.

Alrighty, have a great day!