Category Archives: Feeding the Tribe

Sugar-Free Basketball Anyone?

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For the last couple of years, some of the folks in my office have filled out brackets for the college basketball tournament. It’s painfully (and hilariously) obvious pretty early in the tourney who actually pays attention to college basketball, and who picks the winning teams based on their favorite jersey colors and home towns. I may be in that favorite color group…  And of course, my FAVORITE team is always the Arkansas Razorbacks – GO HOGS!!!

I work at a nonprofit that supports cancer patients in our community, and we decided this year that everyone who participates can donate $5, which will then be donated to our patient assistance programs. We’ll be turning in brackets and turning over our cash tomorrow, and I thought it would be fun to have a few snacks on hand when we get started … some sweet treats (#SnackMadness!) to get us ready for some sweet dunks, so to speak.

Around my house we are trying to maintain a low-carb lifestyle, which can get in the way of having any kind of sweet treat, but when I told my husband of my plans he reminded me he’d picked up some sugar-free candies at Walgreen’s in the past, so I ran in this morning to get some goodies. Let me tell you, there aren’t just a couple of random, generic options – they have LOTS of sugar-free candy! There were Russell Stover varieties, and Werther’s hard candies… but I am all about chocolate, so I was immediately in love with the Reese’s and Hershey offerings. AND, they were on sale!

Reese's sugar-free candy

On top of the sale, I use Walgreen’s Rewards on my iPhone app and earn points on some selected purchases. The basketball tourney gods were smiling down on me, because they have a special running for Reese’s and Hershey’s candies if you buy them with Coca-Cola products. Done!

Walgreen's rewards

A word of caution for anyone trying sugar-free candy for the first time – you don’t want to eat a handful just because they are lower in calories and carbs than the originals. The sugar-alcohols used to make these lovely little treats can cause side effects that can be unpleasant… especially to someone sitting next to you on a crowded bus, if you know what I mean. Take it easy – you’ll thank me later!

I picked up a few bags of sugar-free for me and a couple of other folks at work who are working on losing weight  (but will probably keep some here at home!) and got some “fully loaded” candies as well. Then I headed to the drink aisle to pick up some Coke. We always have drinks in a fridge at work, but Coke Zero is my go-to and it’s not always stocked. I think it’s closer in taste to regular Coke, but with zero carbs. I really appreciate all the nice people in the snack and beverage industries creating products that allow me to pretend I’m not on a diet. 😉

I have a recommendation for the folks at Coca-Cola: The refrigerator boxes need their graphics adjusted… when the box is shelved with the ends placed to be readable the handle that’s built into the box is on the side of the box. There’s no good way to get hold of the thing unless you dig around at the edges to pull it half-way out of the display first. Kind of odd.

So we’re set… got the candy, (and put it in some cute jars I picked up recently) got my own drinks to keep at the office, got my bracket set up on our online work team… now I just have to go look at all the uniforms and decide who’s going to win! Did I mention?? GO HOGS!!!!

Reese's and Hershey's

Coke Zero

To see my shopping trip unfold before your very eyes, take a little peek at my Google+ album here. 🙂

I am a member of the Collective Bias Social Fabric® Community. This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias and Walgreens #cbias #SocialFabric. Regardless of this affiliation, all opinions are my own.

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Chickens and other old/new hobbies

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Chickens and other old/new hobbies

I’m not sure what happened to suddenly make backyard chickens so popular. Maybe it’s the economy – a handful of chickens cost less to buy than a nice dinner out. Maybe it’s the next step for those of us who have been recycling and buying second-hand for a while… we look around for the next challenge. Maybe it’s just a hipster thing. But if you hang out on Pinterest or read a shelter magazine, or pretty much just talk to anyone under the age of 50, you’ll end up hearing about their plans, desire to have plans, or how they executed their plans to build a chicken coop and welcome a little flock of fluffy ladies into their family.

When I was a girl my grandparents had a great chicken house built out in the woods, between their house and their enormous garden that provided countless jars of fresh-picked delicousness throughout the year. The memory of gathering those eggs has always stayed with me. The soft clucking of the hens as I unlatched the gate, the warm nest and feathers of the broody ones that only chided me a little as I took their eggs out from under them and put them in my basket. Later, sitting on the ground in the run digging hundreds of earthworms out of the ground when the chickens were gone.

I guess I’m joining the trendy urbanites who have decided to build a little coop and start collecting eggs. I’ve reserved six baby chickens to be delivered on April 28th. I’ve been reading about the care and feeding of chickens, and researching coop plans, and – just as important – trying to figure out what to name them.

The breeds I’ve chosen are Cherry Egger, Production Black, Gold Sex Link, Black Australorp, Partridge Rock and Ameraucana. One of each. They’re being hatched by a local farm, so they’re already proven in the climate and environmental pros and cons of the Ozark Mountains.

Usually, when I latch onto a new project like this, the hubster looks at me sideways and goes about his business just trying to stay out of my way. This time, however, he’s all about getting those chickens. He’d love to get ducks too, in fact. The biggest drawback there is that we have no water in the backyard. Kind of a big deal, that.

He went by the local Tractor Supply Company yesterday and picked up a little baby chicken kit with a feeder and waterer and mobile fencing… none of which we really need, but I’m happy that he’s going to join me in this adventure. We drew out a plan for the coop and run today, and it looks like he won’t get too crazy… he tends to overbuild, overplan, overspend on almost every project he undertakes. I love him dearly, but he’s a little impractical. From discussions I have with girlfriends, I don’t think he’s the only man like this.

But chickens are only one thing I’m going to do to try to make our family a little more conscious of our impact and responsibility to our home planet. In addition to harvesting some yummy fresh eggs I’m also planning to can my own veggies this year… I am joining a CSA and will be frequenting the local farmers’ market, since I can’t seem to make any tomato plants put on more than 3 fruits. I also want to put up some laundry line to cut down (a little) on the time we spend using the electric dryer. We already have a composter, but it’s been pretty lonely. I’ll be utilizing it more often – while I’m heading out to check on the chickens and take the sheets off the line…

Here are some of my favorite ideas for chicken names, thanks to my friends on Facebook:

Twilight females – Victoria, Rosalie, Bella, Renee, Esme and Alice

Grease (is the word) – Frenchy, Sandy, Rizzo, Marty, Vi and Blanche

Happy Days & Laverne and Shirley – Laverne, Shirley, Pinky, Joanie, Marion and Leather (remember her??)

Harry Potter – Hermione, Luna, Bellatrix, Lily, Minerva and Ginny

Musicians – Carly, Joy, Babs, Whitney, Florence, Adele

Hollywood – Kate, Audrey, Marilyn, Lauren, Ava, Rita

So, tell me… are you raising chickens? Composting? Canning your own veggies? Planning any of those? And please, feel free to chime in on name ideas. I have a few weeks to decide. 🙂

here’s a crazy idea…

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I was noshing on my yummy little Quaker Breakfast Cookie the other morning (which drives my hubby who works at Kellogg’s crazy) and I thought to myself, why don’t I make these myself instead of paying for the pilgrim guy to make them for me?  I know this isn’t a new idea.  I also know my generation is one of the first who have had “convenience” foods like breakfast bars and bottled coffee available and we’re getting fat and lazy.  It seems like a no brainer. 

The new year has come and gone and I haven’t really made a commitment to any kind of renewal in my life.  I have already committed myself to being an artist and writer, and I do need to be better about daily work along those lines.  I have taken a challenge to blog every day in the effort to keep my writing juices flowing.  I need to challenge myself in my craft room along those lines as well.  But my new years resolution is going to be to make more homemade foods for my family and quit buying as much of those pre-packaged and made with who-knows-what things that I have been relying on too much lately. 

It’s not like we have a lot of crap in the cupboards, really.  I don’t buy ice cream but once a month or less.  I never buy cookies.  We do have things the hubby brings from work, and I have asked him to ease up on that a bit.  But I really do buy more fruit than sweets.  I want to start experimenting with oatmeal bar recipes and things like that to carry with me in place of the bars I’ve been buying to keep in the car.  They are easy for me to eat on the way to work, and to give Griffin when he and I are running around.  They keep me away from the fast food, so they’re good, right?  It’s just that they’d be so much more cost efficient and healthy if I made them myself.

So, that’s my plan.  To make more things on the weekends that I can eat for lunch during the week and take with me for breakfast.  What kinds of changes are you making in YOUR life this year?