Making Life Easier: To Go Snacks

There have been a few times where I have reached into my bag for some replacement snacks and the bag of cheerios only has three left. Sometimes when running out of the house for some quick errands I forget to stop and refill a bag with goldfish or graham crackers. Sometimes I assume they are already filled, because I’m super mom right?

Well to help prevent this from happening again I started to pre-pack cheerios, goldfish, raisins and graham crackers in snack sized Ziplock bags. I place the snack baggies in the Tupperware container that was holding all of her baby food jars. When you are running out of the door it’s so easy to grab these bags! Another plus, is that I make room in my pantry by emptying all the snack boxes and containers! This literally takes but five minutes to complete. I think five minutes making my days easier is five minutes well spent!

For any parent who is rushing out the door, you know how stopping to do a simple task like filling a bag with cheerios can lead into spilling them on the floor, stepping back and then crushing them. Your dog and kid start to go nuts picking up the food while you rush to wipe up the mess…and then when you finally get buckled in and start to drive away….you realize that bag of cheerios is sitting on the counter. Or maybe this just happens to me!

This is one step taken to make this momma’s life easier…

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  1. Elizabeth commented:
    September 28, 2012 Reply

    Great tip!

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Lemon Orzo With Asparagus

This dish was so simple and tasted so good I couldn’t wait until Monday to post it with my final installment on my eat clean challenge!

We are big fans of orzo pasta. It cooks fast, tastes great with any ingredient and you can serve it up warm, cold or even in a soup!


Lemon Orzo with Asparagus, Spinach and Feta
From Two Peas In Their Pod

1 cup orzo
Salt-about 1/2 tsp. for boiling water
2 cloves garlic finely chopped
1 teaspoon olive oil
8 asparagus spears cut into 1 inch pieces
1 cup packed fresh spinach
Juice of 1 large lemon
1/3 cup feta cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

Bring 4 cups of water to boil. Add the salt. Stir in orzo. Cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain orzo and set aside.

In a small sauce pan, saute garlic in olive oil. Add in asparagus pieces. Saute for 3-4 minutes. Stir in spinach. Cook until asparagus is tender and the spinach shrinks down.

Put the orzo in a medium bowl and add in the vegetables. Squeeze fresh lemon juice over the orzo and vegetables. Stir. Season with salt and pepper. Taste-add more lemon juice if you wish.

Sprinkle feta cheese over the top of the salad. Serve warm or cold!

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A Meltdown In Pottery Barn

It seems that the terrible twos are coming seven months too early.

I understand that being sick is frustrating. Not being able to communicate what “Boo dada da tha ee” can probably be frustrating as well. But for all the reasons why, Lily’s meltdowns still blow.

For those moms that have been there…you know those times when your kid throws their body to the floor screaming, flailing their arms back and forth, maybe wildly kicking a leg or two and when you try and pick them up your kid goes limp making it difficult to pick them up? Lately these meltdowns have been a common occurrence in our household.

I tell myself that it is just a phase. I tell myself that it will be over shortly. But when you are experiencing these toddler tantrums it doesn’t feel like a phase. It feels like your kid is possessed. It feels like this tantrum is far worse than the previous one.

Oh and when it happens in public….doesn’t it feel like the AC goes out and Ashton Kutcher is about to punk you? And what about when you get the crazy eye from someone who doesn’t understand why you can’t control your child. Let’s be honest, those people probably don’t have children. And if they were parents then they spawned Stepford children. Or I pity their kids because they probably sit around a table on a Friday night engaging in a flash card game of the periodic table of elements.

Lily had a little meltdown in Pottery Barn as I was shopping for drapes. She went from 0 to zombie by the time I made it to the back of the store. Graham crackers where beinging flung all over. She hurled her sippy cup and it rolled under the drapes (which was a lot of fun to crawl and get). And then came the spitting bubbles. This is her new thing. When she gets so heated she starts to blow spit through her lips creating bubbles of saliva down her chin and neck. She really starts to resemble a zombie.

As I started to pick up the broken crackers I couldn’t help but notice the woman standing no more than 100 feet from me with her mouth wide open. She started to shake her head and that’s when I just turned away and proceeded to walk to the front to make my purchase.

As I was waiting for the drapes to come from the back the woman walked up to buy something, but stopped to keep her distance from an obvious child that would give her rabies if it was unleashed. I was floored. Annoyed. And then I heard “Oh goodness…I remember those days.” Two women had walked in the front door and gave me that sympathetic eye only another parent could give. As they walked by one sweetly patted my arm and whispered, “Just know it’s just a phase my dear…she still looks adorable when she’s mad!”

On cue the crazed zombie stopped kicking her legs and flashed a smile.

A HUGE THANK YOU to those two women. I don’t know why I let that woman get under my skin so much.  I think it’s because I have never had someone so blatantly reveal dislike for Lily, me or my parenting.

So whether the terrible twos are making an early appearance or Lily was just having a moment yesterday, I know that I will have more of these meltdowns in the future. And you know what, screw anyone who gives me the stink eye.

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  1. Elizabeth commented:
    September 26, 2012 Reply

    Oh girl, I feel ya. I’ll never forget the first public meltdown Ella had. It was at her cousins soccer game. She was not happy that she couldn’t go on the field to play soccer with the other kids. The meltdown was bad…..I felt like everybody was looking at me as I carried her over my shoulder kicking and screaming. I never said a word the whole time we walked. I wrangled her in the vehicle, buckled her in and just sat in the front seat and cried along with her. It was exhausting. I was literally sweating from anxiety and from trying to carry a very strong willed little girl across the fields. Ten minutes later she was sound asleep. I blame that on being overtired. We both needed a nap after that episode! LOL. My cousin made me feel better by saying “everybody on that field has been there. You’re not alone.” Yet doesn’t it feel like that when it’s happening though? Hang in there, momma!

    • Amy Romano commented:
      September 26, 2012 Reply

      Thanks Elizabeth! I think what you did is smart and I too try to keep my cool…which might lead some people to believe that I don’t care. I’m a BIG believer that your child’s inner voice is created on how you treat them. Lil’ is only 15 months so I’m 100% positive more meltdowns are in my future!

  2. Elvira commented:
    November 6, 2012 Reply

    I found your blog when I googled how I to start clean eating. I read this post and I have to say I felt relief and a small smile appeared on face. I have gone through those “tantrums” with my son and I have gotten the stink eye. I feel alone at times and it is so nice when another person comes up to you and says its ok! You are not alone and my son is very tall for his age, so I get really awful looks. Most people assume he is 4 years old and he turned 2 this month. Thanks for posting this! Look forward to browsing more of your blog 🙂

    • Amy Romano commented:
      November 6, 2012 Reply

      Lily is very tall for her age too…and you know I never thought to equate that to the mean glares!! Glad you found the blog 🙂

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Tip Tuesday: Saving Your Avocado

I LOVE avocado. I can put it in my eggs, salad, grilled cheese and eat it even with a little sea salt. Sometimes I don’t use the whole avocado and that is where today’s tip comes in handy.

Avocado browns very easily. Do keep half of an avocado fresh leave the pit in. So when you cut it in half use the half without the pit first. Place the other half with the pit in a Ziplock bag and place it in the fridge.

So don’t fret over wasting that delicious avocado…now you know what to do with it!

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  1. Elizabeth commented:
    September 25, 2012 Reply

    I love me some avocado too!!! I eat one at least once a day

  2. Diane commented:
    September 25, 2012 Reply

    Great tip Amy! I do this too – but only if there is any avocado left! 🙂

  3. molly commented:
    September 25, 2012 Reply

    YES YES YES! This is awesome. It turns so quickly so I am excited to try this!

  4. Alana commented:
    December 21, 2012 Reply

    Thanks for the tip, already put it to use tonight!

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Eat Clean Challenge: Week Three

Week three is done and only one week to go!! Surprisingly this challenge has not been as hard as I had anticipated it to be. (Read week one & week two)

There are a few reasons why this challenge has been easier than any other fad diet I have failed at. Reason one: I have been realistic at setting my own personal rules. I drink alcohol and I knew that if I took that completely out of my diet for 30 days that as soon as I had a beer that my body will bloat back out. I give myself two days a week to enjoy an adult beverage. Now some people might drink more than me so they might want to cut back more to see a difference. If your two drink days have already been used but you would like a beer and relax after a hard day of teething and tantrums, go ahead. Don’t beat your self up. We all go through those days. If you end a rough teething day by beating up on yourself for enjoying a cold Pacifico then you will have a low confidence to tackle the next day. So enjoy that beer and just go for a nice brisk walk in the morning!

Reason two: Having useful tools at my fingertips has made this challenge doable, straightforward and convenient. I know I have spoken about it on the other posts but I LOVE Plan To Eat (FYI I am not being paid or given a free subscription, I just love that website!). Plan To Eat is incredibly easy and once you figure out how to use it you can plan the next three days or even a whole week in a flash! My sweet friend Emily gifted me one of her amazing Simplified Planners. Let me tell you for a compulsive list maker, OCD calendar planner and lover of pretty paper goods, Emily Ley has brilliantly created the ultimate planner. I love that there is designated space for breakfast, morning activities, lunch, afternoon activities and dinner for each day of the week. Both the weekly and monthly calendars are set up for Monday to Sunday viewing, unlike the Sunday to Saturday. It’s the little details of putting Saturday and Sunday together that make me enjoy this planner so much. Once I have used Plan to Eat to plan my meals I write them in my lovely Simplified Planner along with the printed recipes that I paper clip to the corresponding week. Waking up and having my meals planned makes it easy!

Reason three: I’m not looking at the challenge as a diet. I’m taking this on as the beginning to a life change on eating healthy. I’m not eating some disgusting non-flavored soup for seven days. If I’m not fond of the dinner I’ve prepared I don’t care. I know that tomorrow I get to eat something else and I’m not forced to eat the bad leftovers, or the same horrible soup again. The only plan I have to go by is the menu I planned for myself, not some corporation.

So even though my challenge is technically over in little over a week I’m going to continue this eat clean lifestyle. I feel great. I’m seeing results and the food I’ve been cooking has been delicious!

Mike was out of town today so I planned my meals accordingly. My day started out with a new recipe from Fit Foodie Finds. When you have a toddler that is having a fun morning tantrum, sometimes actually cooking a breakfast is difficult. Blending a smoothie or microwaving some oats are usually my go to options, especially when Lily wakes up on the wrong side of the bed. BUT the baked blueberry oat bran recipe (found here) was simple and made the perfect amount for me to nibble on while I danced to the Wiggles to make Lily’s frown turn upside down.

For lunch and dinner I went for two recipes I have already made so I knew how easy they were. For lunch I had a smashed chickpea & avocado sandwich (recipe found here) and for dinner I made grilled garlic dijon herb salmon (recipe found here). The salmon was huge and was actually all I needed or wanted.

Mike got back from a boys weekend trip today. It always seems that he is gone when Lily has been sick and since I have been under the weather too, I can’t wait for him to get home and take over parent duties so I can rest.

I cooked up a spinach and egg white omelet (recipe found here) that was super easy and something that Lily and I could both eat!

After breakfast I started prepping lunch while Lily played with my Tupperware. I marinated some chicken for a copy-cat version of Applebee’s fiesta lime chicken. The recipe calls for you to marinate it for 30 minutes, but I let it chill for an hour and a half while we went to pick Mike up from the airport. We fired up the grill when we got back and had some brown rice as a side. This chicken is delicious! We will be making this meal again. Recipe found here.

I had planned for us to go out to a local restaurant for dinner but Mike and I were both exhausted so we ordered in. Mike was craving a meatball pasta dish (TOTALLY unhealthy but tastes sooo good), but I kept it healthy getting a whole wheat flatbread with fresh mozzarella, basil and tomatoes.

With Mike working from home today and since he was gone at a boys weekender while Lily and I were sick, he stuck around in the kitchen to keep Lily busy while I whipped up a yummy cherry vanilla muffin for our breakfast (thanks babe!). I completely forgot to buy more cherries for this recipe, but luckily I had a can of cherries I never used for a pie. I know it’s not the “clean” way…but oh well! I doubled this recipe thinking that one muffin wasn’t enough and I ended up with too much! I used two smaller ramekins and a large one. So there was plenty to feed the whole family!

Cherry Vanilla Muffin For One
From Anytime Health

1/3 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
¼ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg white
2 tbsp vanilla low fat yogurt
1 tbsp vanilla almond milk
½ tbsp honey or agave nectar
8-10 cherries, halved

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a small bowl, mix together whole wheat pastry flour and baking soda. In a separate small bowl, mix together vanilla extract, egg white, yogurt, almond milk, and honey.
Combine wet and dry ingredients and add in your cherries.
Spray a small ramekin with nonstick cooking spray and pour in the batter.
Cook for 25-30 minutes.
The recipe suggested to serve the muffin topped with Greek yogurt and fruit preserves but I kept it plain!

Breakfast was really filling so I made a green monster spinach smoothie (recipe round here). I crave these smoothies and if you have been reading along, I have this smoothie all the time!

After breakfast I started prepping our crock pot dinner. I was super excited to try this Itallian Stallion recipe from He and She Eat Clean because you make your own clean marinara. It’s surprising at how easy this recipe is. The best part….my Italian husband liked it!!! Check out the recipe here. The only changes I made: omitted red pepper flakes. I made some pasta for mike and quinoa for me and poured the sauce and shredded chicken on top. I love avocado and sliced up some over mine. This was full of flavor and was given a big thumbs up by Mike!

I tell you I’m addicted to these green monster spinach smoothies. You cannot taste the four cups of spinach at all! Plus it actually fills me up. I had this yesterday and again for breakfast today….and it is on the menu for tomorrow! Recipe here.

For lunch I tried a new quinoa recipe today with all the strawberries I had on hand. It was sooooo yummy. You know the one thing I enjoy about this challenge is that it has gotten me back in the kitchen and inspires me to start cooking for Mike again. We were starting to get hung up or ordering out a lot…and that doesn’t help the waistline!

Strawberry Quinoa Salad
From Fit Foodie Finds

1 cup quinoa, dry
2 cup water
2 cup sliced strawberries
Crumbled Feta Cheese, to taste (I used low-fat)
1 tbsp basil, fresh or dry
½ cup chopped walnuts
2-3 tbsp honey
1 tbsp olive oil

In a small pot, bring 1 cup quinoa and 2 cups of water to a rolling boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and let simmer for about 15 minutes or until the water is absorbed. Refrigerate for about an hour or until room temperature.

In a large bowl or Tupperware, mix together quinoa, sliced strawberries, feta cheese, chopped walnuts, and basil. Then drizzle on honey and olive oil. Toss
Serve cold or at room temperature!

For dinner I tried making a healthy meatloaf for the family and it was a hit…for everyone but Lily. She is going through a weird picky eating stage. I will try and feed this again to her and hopefully she will like it as much as Mike and I did. The only changes to the recipe: it called for lentils and I didn’t have any so I just used some white northern beans. Mike despises mushrooms, but I still used them. I just used a cup less and chopped them up real good (he still picked them out!).

Turkey Meatloaf
From Eat Live Run

1 lb lean ground turkey
1 cup cooked white northern beans, I chopped them up(or cooked black or green lentils)
1 large carrot, diced
1 large onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup mushrooms, chopped
1 1/2 tsp worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup ketchup
1 tsp salt
1/2 tbsp olive oil
1/4th tsp black pepper
3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/3 cup milk
1 egg, slightly beaten


2 tbsp ketchup
1 tbsp pure maple syrup
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

Preheat oven to 400.
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the diced onions and saute for about six minutes, until soft and translucent.
Add the carrot and garlic and cook for three minutes. Add the chopped mushroom and cook for another five minutes or so, until the mushroom has turned soft and all the veggies are nice and juicy. Remove from heat and transfer to a large bowl.
Add the cooked chopped white beans (or lentils), salt, pepper, worcestershire sauce and ketchup and mix well.
In a small bowl, combine the milk and panko bread crumbs. Let sit for three minutes so the breadcrumbs can absorb a little of the milk. Add to veggie mixture.
Add ground turkey and beaten egg and mix well.
Transfer to a greased loaf pan and press down to smooth top.
Combine the ingredients for the glaze and pour over top of meatloaf. Spread with a spoon to cover the top.
Bake for 55 minutes or until a meat thermometer reads 165 degrees.
I drizzled some ketchup over and it was Y to the U to the M!

Lily is yearning already to be Miss Independent! While I was feeding her oatmeal this morning she would whine to touch her spoon, which is nothing new and I thought she just wanted to play around with it. But as she took her spoon she slowly put it up to her lips and sweetly let out a “Mmmmm.” So I took her spoon and put a bit of oatmeal on it and gave it back. Staring at the oatmeal and back at me she lifted it to her mouth and ate it! After a couple more bites things got a little crazy and oatmeal ended up in her hair, nose, highchair and even on the blinds. While all of this crazy oatmeal slinging was going on I was enjoying the view from my chair as I enjoyed my apple cinnamon quinoa (recipe found here).

We had a bunch of errands to run today so I was glad I had the turkey meatloaf leftovers, it was just as good the next day!

Since Breakfast was so much fun I decided to introduce Lily to breakfast at dinner. Growing up I loved it when my mom made pancakes or French toast for dinner. Breakfast is so good sometimes it needs to be repeated! So I made some banana oat bran pancakes again (from day nine) and topped it of with Justin’s Chocolate Hazelnut Butter.

Is it a surprise that the smoothie I made today for breakfast was the green monster spinach smoothie??? I think I might have a problem.

For lunch I made a classic, a grilled cheese sandwich. I spruced it up a bit by adding some avocado….MMmmmm! I didn’t put butter on the bread to keep it healthy. Super easy and super delicious!

Today was Mike’s 34th birthday and I surprised him by taking him to one of his favorite Italian restaurants, Iavarones Steakhouse. The restaurant has been open since 1948 serving up classic Italian fare and Mike is always asking to go there. I used my cheat day and enjoyed a few bites of bread, a few bites of the meatball appetizer, grouper with green beans and two glasses of white wine. BUT I went off the wagon and split a crème brulee…and it was heaven!

What a special day today was. Not only was it Mike’s birthday yesterday but two of my girlfriends gave birth to two healthy beautiful girls. Elisa gave birth to her first daughter, Emelia (her twins are playgroup buddies with Lily). Alisha, my friend I co-hosted a baby shower for, gave birth to a gorgeous daughter named Makyla. After breakfast I dropped Lily off at my mom’s while I ran to get flowers and headed to the hospital to visit my friends.

Alisha was only a few doors down from the room I stayed in and I was flooded with memories. The past 15 months has flown by. I have known Alisha since junior high school. To be in her hospital room holding her baby girl is really hard to describe. I am so happy for her and Adam and I can’t wait for Lily to meet her. Elisa was in the same hospital so it was nice to be able to just walk to the next tower to see her and her new bundle of joy. I remember when Elisa told me the news of her pregnancy. I smiled and tensed up because I didn’t know if it was good news they were planning or a whoopsie (the best kind of whoopsie right!). We were all elated to find out she was having a girl with three boys at home already! Sweet Emelia was so tiny and had an adorable knit hat from Elisa’s grandmother. AH, the smell of newborn babies. There is nothing like it. I must admit, when I came home I was a bit depressed that the past 15 months has gone so fast. I want another one…..but not until I loose some more weight!

For breakfast I made a berry oatmeal bake from Fit Foodie Finds. I have made another similar one before, read that post here. I LOVE oatmeal bakes and if you haven’t tried one, do it. It is beyond simple and lip-smacking good! On the way to the hospital I grabbed a Starbuck’s skinny iced vanilla latte since I didn’t have coffee with my breakfast.

I got home from the hospital just in time for lunch.  Mike was working from home so I called him on the road and told him to defrost some shrimp and start the water for the orzo. I used a recipe for roasted shrimp and orzo (recipe found here). The only thing I didn’t do was roast the shrimp, I just left them plain. This was a tasty lunch that was quick and easy!

For dinner we made the mouth watering parchment baked sea bass again from week one (read here). So good and pretty easy!

Are you seeing a reoccurring”easy” theme? Making easy recipes is reason number four why this challenge works!


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Discounts Make Friday Even Sweeter

Helllllooooo Friday!

It is the end of another exhausting week and I am overjoyed with the arrival of two sweet baby girls born yesterday to two of my girlfriends at the same hospital! Life IS good!

And you know what else is good???? Finding a good deal! Are you a fan of Groupon (the website that brings you a discount to stores in your area)? Are you a fan of Etsy (the website that brings you adorable handmade and vintage finds)? You are in luck if you answered yes to either, because GroopDealz is a sweet blend of both!

Groopdealz sends their customers messages alerting them of their daily deals that typically last anywhere from 24-48 hours…BUT some deals are so good that they can sell out quick! I scored an adorable sea foam colored petti skirt for Lily and colored straws for her birthday party. I even landed FREE mini chalkboards. Yep, they had a quick deal giving away mini chalkboards for free! Now I just need to come up with an excuse to host a party so I can use them!

So double thumbs up to Friday and a website that brings you deals! Enjoy the weekend ya’ll!

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  1. Melody commented:
    September 21, 2012 Reply

    I am so happy that you posted this! I haven’t heard of Groopdealz before, but I jumped on there today after reading this and saw the fabulous chevron ring set that I have been looking for for a while! They are on their way to my house! Thanks!

    • Amy Romano commented:
      September 21, 2012 Reply

      So funny I have my eye on that same ring set! So CUTE!!

  2. Elizabeth commented:
    September 21, 2012 Reply

    Oh, no I don’t think I needed to know about this. Thanks, Amy!

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Master Bath Makeover: Phase One

Mike and I have come to the conclusion that our home value has dropped so low that we will be living here for a looooooong time! We originally planned to live in this house around five years and then move to a larger home for a growing family. Our plan tanked right along with the horrible housing market!

Our new plan….to wait it out until the value of our home goes up.


As one of the last homes to close at the height of the market, we had a lengthy fall. Knowing that we might never get our large down payment back has been a very hard pill to swallow.

We have started to make changes to our home now so in five to seven years we won’t have to spend the money for fixes/updates needed to sell quickly. Painting is an easy fix that anyone can do to update a room. Besides Lily’s pink bedroom, the rest of the walls are painted in deep earth tones. The colors are great, but lighter colors are easier on the eye and more buyers are receptive to homes that they feel they don’t have to re-paint.

First area for new paint….the master bedroom and bath. I have been dying to go grey and after several samples I couldn’t find one that would go well with my furniture, bed and the various frames hanging on my walls. Then during a playgroup at my friend Emily Ley’s house I fell in love with the new color she recently used while giving her home a mini facelift (click here to read all about her gorgeous kitchen makeover).

The color is Conservative Grey by Benjamin Moore. The swatch looked so green that I even brought it to MyGym for Emily to confirm I had the right color. Conservative Grey changes depending on the light that comes into the room and the décor. Emily has amazing light that pours in through her kitchen bay windows and sliding doors that lightens this color. She has touches of blue spread through her décor that helps bring out a soft blue in this tone of grey. After sampling the color on a few walls I fell in love with it.

Mike and I went to work during Lily’s nap painting our bathroom. The next morning when we started to put our rug, glass decanters and frames back into place we were in awe how much of a difference just the paint made. The lighter color makes the bathroom seem larger than before. It’s fresh and clean.

Phase one of our bathroom makeover is complete. The next changes are a little more drastic and expensive so we need to plan and search a little longer for the best prices. Mike wants to get rid of our large mirror and replace it with two separate mirrors for each sink (an idea that I’m warming up to) and frame them with molding (an idea I’m loving!). We are going to move the lighting above our mirror and replace the dated light fixture in our guest bath with it. New lighting to go over each new mirror will need to be purchased. Our counter will need to be replaced since it is scratched and has yellow heat marks from years of flat and curling iron use. I might just go ahead and paint the cabinets and swap out new knobs too!

Due to the amount of changes and their cost this makeover is going to take place over the next several months so stayed tuned!

But for this phase I am thrilled with the outcome!

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  1. Jenn commented:
    September 20, 2012 Reply

    Too funny- we are in the exact same boat and about to redo our master bath as well in preparation for what I can only imagine is going to be a LONG stay in our current “starter” house. I’m trying to focus on the things I CAN control (decor!) and not the things I can’t (the dang housing market) but I definitely get frustrated some days! I’m looking forward to following along in your updates 🙂

    • Amy Romano commented:
      September 21, 2012 Reply

      I think many people will be in their starter homes for a while! I totally understand the frustration. I hate when I receive letters in the mail from realtors informing me of homes in my neighborhood that have just sold….for a substantially lower price! Good luck on your redo, let me know how it turns out!

3 Trackbacks

  1. By Lily & Bliss | Just Spray It on October 4, 2012 at 12:41 pm

    […] our bathroom makeover (read here) our three iron candleholders stuck out like a sore thumb against the new light wall color. So I […]

  2. By Lily & Bliss | Master Bath Makeover: Phase 2 on January 18, 2013 at 1:43 pm

    […] since I last blogged about the makeovers we’re making to our home. Read all about phase one here. Long story short we are stuck in our home for a few more years than we anticipated. Until the […]

  3. […] the other posts from our makeover Here and […]

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Splurge or Save: Media Storage

I received a catalog in the mail from Home Decorators Collection, a company I have never ordered from or heard of. As I was glancing through it I noticed that many of the items looked like ones sold from Pottery Barn and Ballard Designs. Then I came across the Quin Media Cabinet. It was almost the exact replica of the Andover Media Console  that we purchased from Pottery Barn this past Christmas. They even had the Quin Cabinet that matched the Andover Cabinet that we also purchased for our dining room. I became annoyed when I started adding up the pricing and noticed we could have saved $647.13 if I had found this company earlier. So if any of you are about to purchase anything, check out this Home Decorators Collection to see if they have a cheaper version to help save you some $$$!



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  1. Elizabeth commented:
    September 19, 2012 Reply

    I’ve never heard of that magazine either. I will have to check it out though because I love me some Pottery Barn!

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Tip Tuesday: Stubborn Dish Grime

I love to cook, but I despise the clean up! There is nothing worse then that stubborn grime that is caked onto your dish and even a brillo pad won’t break it up.

Well save your manicure and your sanity with this EASY tip. All you need is a dryer sheet. Yep one dryer sheet will loosen up that grime easier than your trusty brillo pad! When my mom taught me this trick it was like the heavens opened, a light shined down over my sink and little cherubs played their harps and sang out “Halleluiah!” I’m a bit dramatic, but seriously this is genius.

Fill up the dirty dish with water so that the grimy areas are covered by water, no need to completely fill it up, unless your stubborn leftovers are at the top! Unfold the dryer sheet and submerge it in the water. Then wait.

If you have a really bad dish….you know the ones where you are testing out a recipe and might have cooked it a tad too long and on a really high temperature. It is like black tar is permanently attached to your baking pan. Those are the worst dishes to clean and I call them the “two dryer sheet” dishes!

You don’t have to wait that long. I typically leave it in the sink or on the counter for at least 30 minutes, sometimes an hour. Now if you have really done some damage to that dish, let it marinate overnight. Toss the dryer sheet when you are done and rinse the dish. You don’t even need to scrub very hard to remove that filth. Most of the time the once stubborn grime has floated to the top of the water. Is it weird that I get joy when I see that? It’s like I defeated the dirty dish dragon!

So don’t worry about that soiled dish you will chip your polish on…relax while your dryer sheet does all the work!

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  1. melia commented:
    September 18, 2012 Reply

    This is AWESOME! I HATE it when this happens! My fingers turn to prunes when I scrub my dishes…thanks for the tip!

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  1. By Lily & Bliss | Other Great Uses For Dryer Sheets on April 16, 2013 at 1:40 pm

    […] For the best way to clean nasty caked on food from pans, plates or pans remember this tip with a dyer sheet??? It’s a game […]

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Eat Clean Challenge: Week Two

Football is finally here!!! There is just something about that recognizable referee whistle and stadium echo that makes me smile…oh and the fact that Lily wore her mini Steeler jersey with a black tutu! It was so freaking adorable. To show my Niners some love I stripped the jersey off & put her in a super soft mini t-shirt I purchased from Kitson Kids in Malibu (still can’t believe I spent that much on a kids t-shirt, but whatever I believe they won because she wore it).

For breakfast we noshed on cupcake sized quiche with salsa….Mmmm. The recipe calls for a mini cupcake tin and I used a regular size instead. Warning, I would eat these with a topping like salsa, balsamic, or ketchup. These are pretty plain, but the flavor was perfect when combined with a chunky salsa. Hop on over to Fit Foodie Finds for the recipe. Note, I doubled the batter since I was filling regular sized muffin tins (made 6).

Greek quesadillas were served for lunch with a plain cheese one for Lily! Mike hasn’t totally committed to my challenge, so he opted for regular flowered tortillas. I was very proud of myself for sticking with the measurements for the mozzarella and feta cheese. You don’t need that much with all the other ingredients. The pre-challenge Amy would have piled on the cheese! For the recipe check out A Couple Cooks, the only changes I made was that I added chopped artichoke hearts, and omitted red pepper flakes.Okay I totally slacked on dinner tonight. It was one of those nights that as soon as Lily went to bed I wanted to pass out myself. So I poured myself a bowl of bran cereal with almond milk….easy and not as bad as the bowl of fruity pebbles or captain crunch I would have gone for pre-challenge.

Today is a great example of a breakfast and lunch that kept me feeling full until dinner. They were tasty and kept me from snacking.

My little family was served some delicious pancakes topped with a little chocolate sweetness! In my opinion the chocolate hazelnut butter was better than the usual maple syrup. But I must admit that I usually don’t eat pancakes with syrup…yes I am strange…I eat my pancakes with my hands. No I was not raised by dogs, I just really enjoy the taste of Bisquick pancakes. Sometimes I will dip a piece of pancake in a little bit of syrup, sometimes! This recipe was adapted from Fit Foodie Finds and I have found some great recipes from this blog lately! For the original recipe check it out on the blog as I made a few changes.

Banana Oat Bran Pancakes
Adapted from Fit Foodie Finds

1/3 cup oat bran
1.5 tbsp whole wheat flour
2 mashed bananas
1 tbsp egg whites
1/4 tsp baking soda
2/3 cup water
¼ cup of vanilla almond milk
cinnamon (to taste)
toppings: Justin’s Chocolate Hazelnut Butter, bananas, peanut butter or raisins

Mix all of the ingredients.
Coat pan or griddle with cooking spray and pour your mix to the serving size you would prefer.
Don’t worry that the mixture is thick, it’s suppose to be!
When the pancakes are done spread the chocolate hazelnut butter on top. You don’t need much as the heat will melt it over the pancake!
Top them with sliced bananas (or whatever you want) and enjoy!

For lunch I baked a small potato. I LOVE baking potatoes, Mike sadly doesn’t share my love for this easy, delicious no-brainer meal. I usually always make them when he is out of town. There are many ways to cook a potato, here is the way I always make mine.

Easy Baked Potato

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
Make sure you wash you potato(s).
Place your wet potato on a piece of foil and grind sea salt over the potato and foil.
Roll the potato on the excess salt on the foil to coat all sides. You don’t need that much and the salt will stick to the wet skin.
Roll the potato in the foil and place it in the middle of the oven.
Bake for 45 to an hour. I like mine soft, so I bake it for 1 – 1 ½ hour.
To test for softness I always take my oven mitt and give the potato a squeeze, depending on how soft/hard it is I take it out or keep it cooking!
The salty skin is my favorite part. I slice my potato open and sprinkle it with pepper, oregano and a little shredded mozzarella cheese.

Lunch was easy peasy and so was dinner! We haven’t had Chinese food in awhile so when I saw this recipe on Mckay’s profile on Plan To Eat I was excited to try it. The easy chicken fried rice recipe hails from Iowa Girl Eats blog, check it out and other tasty recipes patiently waiting for your belly!

Mondays are usually depressing as it sadly answers that question we always ask, Is the weekend already over? But this Monday, was an AWESOME Monday (minus the choking dog part).

And it all started with an amazing new oatmeal recipe from The Gracious Pantry. The apple pie oatmeal had me feeling like I was cheating this challenge big time! It really tastes like the dessert it’s named after. I was sitting on the ground watching Lily play when she crawled over making her typical “Gimme Gimme” sound, so I let her have a small taste. This is made with steel cut oats so I didn’t think she would enjoy it, boy was I wrong. She sat there and ate my breakfast with me (and this was after she had hers).  I had to even show her there was none left in the bowl and she gave me the cutest little scowl ever. I am sure I will see more of this facial expression in the future…I need to remember this day when I actually thought it was cute. Check out the recipe here, and the only change I made was that I cooked the oats in vanilla almond milk instead of water.

Now the choking dog part. I was chopping up the apples for the recipe and had some leftover pieces. I have given Lily a slice of Apple before, and she holds it in both hands while she takes small bites. I bent down to give her a slice when Bentley jumped out of nowhere stealing the fruit from her hands. Her face was priceless. She usually is happy to give Bentley handfuls of her Cheerios and goldfish crackers. But this face was like “Oh NO he didn’t just do that!”. I pointed to the living room rug and said Bentley took it. She walked over, got on her knees and put her head down attempting to give Bentley the evil eye, but he was too busy trying to chew the slice down to small edible bites. She then tried to grab the piece of apple and Bentley took it over to another spot on the rug, now trying to accelerate the situation but inhaling it. As I was walking over to stop the madness Lily launched over to Bentley causing him to completely suck the apple down. The poor fella instantly started to walk around with his back curled up and head hung low, making a horrible wheezing like sound. Thank GOD Mike was working from home as I screamed for him to come in. A few moments later with the help of Mike’s finger-down-the-throat maneuver the piece of stuck apple landed on the kitchen tile and all was well again in the Romano Household. I on the other hand was traumatized and sweating profusely.

Lunch came with no headaches as we enjoyed chickpea and avocado sandwiches after a fun morning of MyGym with her buddies, Becket & Brady. These sandwiches are easy and SO yummy! Mike loved them as well. I was sure not to tell Mike what the sandwiches were, as he would have likely wanted to skip it , but he was pleasantly surprised with how good they really were. Check out the recipe on Two Peas and Their Pod, the only thing I added was a few cherry tomatoes. (and yes that sandwich is on a paper plate….don’t judge!)

After Lily’s nap we met her buddies Becket and Brady (Mckay & Emily’s sons) at a local splash park I didn’t even know existed. Finding fun things for your kid to do close to home is like striking gold, well it is to me! The only thing was, Lily wanted nothing to do with the water and everything to do with running towards the street. I would run after her, turn her around and she would then start the trek to the street on the other side of the fountain.

After our fun in the sun we decided to have a glass of wine al fresco at a local restaurant. The kids had a blast chopping on goldfish and animal crackers, all the while their mothers happily enjoyed a lovely glass (or two) of some pinot. Happy hour turned into dinner. Emily was already planning on meeting her husband and neighbors there, so Mckay and I called our hubbys to join. All the sunshine made for a tired Lily so I doggy bagged my sea scallops, broccoli and plantains. We had so much fun that we might start having these Monday happy hour al fresco more often…a perfect way to start the week if you ask me!

Every now and then I find a good smoothie and I make it so much that I get sick of it. I might eat (or drink) my words, but this green monster Spinach Smoothie from Iowa Girl Eats is so lip-smacking good I will never get sick of it!

Green Monster Spinach Smoothie
Slightly adapted From Iowa Girl Eats

1 frozen sliced banana
1 Tablespoon peanut butter
1 cup Vanilla Almond Breeze (or other kind of milk)
4 cups baby spinach (or more or less)

Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.

For lunch I made the appetizing greek quesadillas from day eight.

I love trying out recipes that become popular on Pinterest and tonight I tried a chicken one that claims to be the world’s greatest. I’m a southern girl at heart and any chicken recipe that isn’t fried chicken will never be called the greatest in my book. This one was tasty, but again not as good as fried chicken. But fried chicken doesn’t help me loose the lbs. The great thing about this recipe…there is no marinating. You just mix the ingredients, pour it over the chicken and bake it. So check out the recipe here and let me know what you think!

For sides I made the quick Seeds of Change Quinoa and Brown Rice that I have told ya’ll about…easy and good! I cut up some yellow squash and sautéed them in a pan with a tbsp of extra virgin olive oil. Half way into I add about a tbsp of minced garlic (I’m a big garlic lover). I cook my squash until its super soft (that’s the way we like it). We always have zucchini and yellow squash in our fridge. This is a simple side to any meal.

Today is when the nasty head cold took over the majority of the house, Mike was lucky enough not to get it. As soon as I started cooking my breakfast (takes about 20 minutes) Lily woke with a 103.5 fever and her first deep cough. We gave her Motrin and a bath to help with the fever and waited for the doctor’s office to open. We had some warm oatmeal that felt good on a raw throat (post-nasal drip blows) as we waited to make an appointment.

For my breakfast I put ½ cup of steel cut oats in a small pot with 2 cups of vanilla almond milk. Bring it to a boil, and then simmer for about 20 minutes or until it reaches the consistency you desire, stir occasionally.

For Lily’s breakfast I put ½ cup old-fashioned oats and 1 up of vanilla almond milk in a bowl and microwave for about 3 minutes. Stir in about 1 tbsp of peanut butter and a small squirt of honey and let it cool before you give it to your child. Sometimes I toss it in the freezer for a quick cool down. (*remember to ask your pediatrician when your child should be allowed to have honey!)

After we were able to put some healthy fuel in our bodies we ran to the doctor and found out it luckily wasn’t in her lungs. She has a bad head cold, post nasal drip and a sore throat. The doctor’s office was jammed packed with other children with the sniffles and by the time we made it back home, with a trip to the drugstore, Lily went straight to bed for a nap. Being so exhausted myself I made a quick bowl of oatmeal again and crawled on the couch with a box of tissues.

Coincidentally soup was already on the agenda for supper and even though I was feeling sub par I sucked it up and made it…in slooooow stages! I chopped up the needed ingredients and curled back on the couch. Mike got home by the time Lily woke up so he took over watching her as I finished in the kitchen. The only thing left to do was toss the ingredients in the pot and then puree it in a blender. While I was cooking I was thinking of giving up and looking for an easier alternative. But making excuses is the reason why I haven’t lost my baby weight. I think if my symptoms (tired, runny nose, scratchy & sore throat) were any worse I might have had Mike attempt to cook (scary!). The soup was hearty and just what I needed for my raw throat. My basil plant needed to be trimmed, so I had plenty to make the delicious pesto sauce. Soup is on the agenda for tomorrow’s lunch because this makes a lot!

Tomato–White Bean Soup With Pesto

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large yellow onion chopped
4 celery stalks chopped
2 medium carrots chopped
3 cloves garlic quartered
1/2 cup dry white wine or water
1 qt low-sodium vegetable stock
2 cups canned cannellini beans rinsed and drained
1 can (14 oz) diced tomatoes
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt divided
2 cups (packed) fresh basil
1/4 cup walnuts
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

In a large pot, heat oil over medium heat and cook onion until golden, stirring occasionally, 3 to 5 minutes.
Add celery, carrots and garlic; cook, stirring, until vegetables soften, 3 to 5 minutes.
Add wine; stir to scrape brown bits off bottom of pot.
Add stock, beans, tomatoes, bay leaves and 1/4 tsp salt. Bring soup to a boil; reduce heat, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until carrots are very soft, 15 to 20 minutes.
In a blender, puree basil, walnuts, black pepper, remaining 1/4 tsp salt and 1/4 cup water. Transfer pesto to a bowl; wash blender.
Remove bay leaves from soup; discard. In blender, carefully puree half of soup; transfer to a bowl; repeat with remaining half of soup.
Divide soup among 4 bowls, dollop each with 1/4 pesto, and swirl in; serve.

Thanks to rest, medication and plenty of water it seems that Lily and I are (hopefully) back on the mend. Not yet 100%, we kept it real simple today by chilling in our pajamas all day! Mike is out of town for a guy weekender (an early birthday gift & why is he always conveniently gone when she is sick?).

Breakfast was a cinch with the Green Monster Spinach Smoothie. Lunch was even easier with re-heating last night’s soup. Dinner was a repeat recipe from day nine.

Have you ever tried the Uncle Ben’s individual cups of Ready Rice? I used one tonight to make one serving of the chicken fried rice. There are two cups per package and you just peel the top off and pop it in the microwave for 1 minute…and poof you have a perfect serving of whole grain brown rice! Listen I don’t care that I cooked it in a microwave and it came from a package. It is so much better than any other option I would have cooked for myself in the past! I’m a big believer that you can have healthy options even if you microwave it! Tip: Don’t throw away the paper packaging as there is a coupon inside!

I weighed myself and I’m down another two pounds!! That is a total of 4 pounds!  {Doin’ a happy dance}

Can’t believe it is already the last day of week two! This challenge seems to be flying by and I am feeling GREAT! When my mom started to eat clean she was so gung ho about it. It felt like it was the only thing she wanted to talk about. “Ooooh I am making this stuff called quinoa, and it is sooo good for you!” or “I only eat things that come from the earth or from a momma.”  I can’t tell you how many times we rolled our eyes as she preached about something new like chia seeds.

And now I am the one that gets giddy over some new ingredient like chickpea flour. Besides the head cold Lily and I got I have been full of energy and had no feelings of starvation, unlike other times I have tried new eating ways in attempt to shed some pounds.

Am I going to quit eating clean after the 30 days are up? No.

Will I never eat processed foods ever again? Of course I will. But it is all in moderation. I am feeling great while loosing this weight and this is a major difference than anything I have ever tried.

So onto my breakfast. I enjoyed another winning recipe from Fit Foodie Finds called, Quinoa Egg Bake. This was beyond simple as I already had chopped onions and red pepper from the chicken fried rice recipe! This is similar to a quiche except there is no crust! Check out the recipe here.

I didn’t feel like making the spinach salad I had planed and instead I was craving the green monster spinach smoothie for lunch (from day 11).

For dinner I cooked myself a Mexican rice bowl (recipe here). I know I keep referring to many of these recipes as easy, but this one really is. It is trouble-free and uncomplicated. You literally just add as many of each ingredients as you want!


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  1. mckay commented:
    September 17, 2012 Reply

    so glad that my week two meal planning menu is filled out…oh wait. that didn’t happen. starting over today!!! 🙂 I love that you love the green monster. my favorite!!

    • Amy Romano commented:
      September 17, 2012 Reply

      HA!I was about to send you a HeyTell saying “Yay, we have passed the half way marker!”….and I am obsessed with that smoothie. You should have seen how many bananas I had on my counter waiting to ripen so I could toss them in the freezer!

  2. September 19, 2012 Reply

    I do trust all the ideas you have introduced in your post. They are really convincing and can definitely work. Nonetheless, the posts are too short for newbies. Could you please lengthen them a bit from next time? Thank you for the post.

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  1. By Lily & Bliss | Eat Clean Challenge: Week Three on September 24, 2012 at 5:31 pm

    […] Week three is done and only one week to go!! Surprisingly this challenge has not been as hard as I had anticipated it to be. (Read week one & week two) […]

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