Wednesday, May 4, 2016

DIY Fruit-Nut-Cheese Snacks (aka Sargento Balanced Breaks)

Months ago, my mother in law was visiting and we ran into the grocery store to grab a few things for dinner. She pointed to, then bought, a package of Sargento Balanced Breaks - a little plastic container that was divided in two - one half was some cheese, one half was a nut/dried fruit mix. Nicely portioned, calorie controlled (7 Smartpoints, per Weight Watchers), and, as I discovered, pretty tasty. It took me VERY little time to become hooked. They're pricey though - but they went on sale and there was a rebate on SavingStar, so I bought multiple packages to keep in the fridge. And then I finished them....and didn't want to pay the money to buy more.

I mean, yes, they're portion controlled, and that's great - but of course you pay for that convenience AND you pay for a bunch of plastic that you don't need to be adding to a landfill. The obvious answer was to make my own snacks, and I'm sharing with you how I did it so you can too.

As you know, if you've read my blog in the past, I'm not fancy. I used a digital scale that I also use to weigh and mail packages (cleaned! covered! I didn't put any food directly on its surface! also it's not as accurate as a food scale would be - I'm OK with it because I'm on maintenance in WW, but if it matters to you, use a better scale).

I bought my nuts, raisins, and cheese at Your Dekalb Farmers Market, which has great bulk prices but which also more or less makes you buy whatever portions they've already packaged up and put on the shelves. (Yes, I believe you can ask for a different size, but I also believe that only works well if you want a lot MORE of something, not a lot LESS. I just buy the size that's about what I want to use and to spend.) Next time I think I'll buy a different cheddar (they sell one I think I like better at the Kroger cheese counter) or use pepper jack.

I started with raisins (regular old raisins, though going forward I'd also try this with golden raisins and cranberries), oil roasted organic cashews (which I bought by mistake - I'd have preferred dry roasted, but the Smartpoints aren't different, really, so it's not a huge deal, and I didn't actually need organic but that's what they had), and dry roasted almonds. I also bought a block of medium cheddar. And that's it. I spent right about $13 total for these ingredients - that would be approximately 12 individual "Balanced Breaks" containers, and I can easily make 20 or more with what I bought.

I then went to the Weight Watchers calculator and figured out my ideal ratio of fruit to nuts to cheese that would add up to 7 Smartpoints. Based on my calculations, that equaled:
  • 1/4 oz. cashews
  • 1/4 oz. raisins
  • 1/2 oz. almonds
  • 1/2 oz. cheddar
Now of course you can tweak these amounts to your personal taste while still remaining in the 7-9SP range. More raisins? More cheese? Just cut back/keep the ratios as you need them. But this balance worked for me.

I placed a plate on my digital scale and zeroed it out.

I then placed the cashews on - I think it's about 5-ish cashews per quarter ounce. That's plenty, trust me.

Then I zeroed the scale out again. (I learned this magical trick from Smitten Kitchen and it's so obvious and yet so fantastic!)

...and I placed the almonds.

Zero out, place the raisins.

Zero out, place the cheddar.

And then chop the cheddar into little snacky bits.

Seriously, couldn't be simpler. Then I just poured everything into a plastic baggie (I plan to use reusable containers in the future but right now this is easier) and voila. Snacks.

Snacks that fit into the Weight Watchers lifestyle, snacks that taste good, snacks that keep me satisfied because of the balance of fats/proteins/carbs. And snacks that SAVE ME MONEY and still are convenient. Hooray!

*I have nothing to do with Sargento nor Weight Watchers and all their trademarks belong to them.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Small Thrifting Post with One Major Score - March 6, 2016

On Friday I took a mental health day with Amy. We went to two thrift stores - favorite-of-all-time doggy kitty store and new intriguing religious-based shop that recently moved and reopened a bit bigger and better organized.

I didn't get much and I put a lot back (trying to keep the KonMari Spark Joy concept in the back of my mind - I have also, over the past month, purged 50 books - a tiny fraction of what I need to do but a start! - and started filling a garbage bag with clothing I don't wear/don't like/don't need/doesn't fit).  Somehow I unfortunately still wound up with a piece of clothing that needs work - but also one of my top ten favorite thrifted items of all time.

These pictures are terrible - I took them with my iPhone when I realized that the current setup of my DSLR wouldn't do for this set and I didn't have time to switch everything out this morning but I really wanted to get a post up for my own records. However, I now have a tripod and wireless remote (and nice flash that I need to learn) so my plan is to start posting pictures of me actually wearing the clothing. Maybe I'll even get to updating these pictures that way this week.

See what I mean? Bad pictures. But this is a black Gap dress that I loved because it is absolutely a "throw this on when it's really hot outside and look fancier than I feel" dress. I think it was $2.50?

This sweater SPARKED JOY. It's super soft and it fits me beautifully. But you can't really see anything in this picture, can you? It's a V-neck with a sort of cable going on. $1.50?

(Here, I took this with the DSLR really fast and while it's blurry, you can see the shape and detail of the sweater far better.)

Target-Levis (Denizen jeans). They claim to er, squish/hold you in or whatever. They were fine and I pretty much live in denim capris in the summer. I don't know - $1.50?

Argh. These are Levis capris and I really liked them. Amy pointed out that they were missing the buttons on the back pockets and I said eh, I wear long shirts so it won't show. What I just noticed is it's also missing a button on the front - it's a two-button closure. Again, a long shirt will probably hide it but if I'd noticed that one, I might've just put these back. Oh well. I'll make them work - I really do like how they fit.

Just a basic purple Gap t-shirt, NBD.

So that was all from doggy-kitty store and I think I spent $10 plus change - honestly, as I told the cashier, the least I've likely ever spent at that store. I was so well behaved, I'm telling you.

Then we hit the religious-based store because I wanted to look for frames for some of the prints I've had made and that store has a pretty good price on a pretty good frame selection. I didn't find any frames, and I was sort of aimlessly wandering when Amy pulled this out of the juniors-shirts section. And I screamed and I said "I don't care if it fits, I'm buying that." BUT I TRIED IT ON AND IT FITS.

It is a real Betsey Johnson babydoll dress! And it's older, based on what the tag looks like to me, and it is FANTASTIC. The empire waist hits me just right, at least as far as I'm concerned, and it twirls out a little bit and it's fabulous. I love it. It's wrinkly and I think that for a change I'm not going to chance it with hand-washing, I'm really going to have it dry cleaned. (It is 100% rayon and my Googling tells me that I'll really be risking it if I wash it myself and I LIKE THIS TOO MUCH.) I convinced the cashier that it was more of a shirt than a dress (it's short and I actually really liked it over my skinny jeans and black boots and likely will wear it more as a long-shirt-with-leggings I think) so it was $2.50. AH! And I promise that I will get a picture of me wearing this - me in all my pink-and-orange-haired glory. I look very 90s Riot Grrl/Courtney Love I think. This is actually my second Betsey Johnson piece but my first is this weird lace overlay thing that I bought for a dollar as a joke. This. THIS I WILL WEAR.

Stay tuned for better pictures. Of me!

...Like this!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Not Really a Photo a Day Anymore

But I LOVE how this came out.

It's the new banner for my button business's Facebook page. And my experiment in perspective and focus. Nifty!

Sunday, January 31, 2016

A Photo a Day: Day 31

Ending this experiment/month with a cheat.

My daughter took this picture with her "toy" camera. And I love it.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

A Photo a Day: Day 30

Photos photos photos!

Mr. Moo and his favorite mousie!

I set up what was, as far as I'm concerned, a gorgeous shot here - the beautiful blurred trees in the background, the lovely light. And my girl? She would either look at her camera or look around or wiggle or stick out her tongue (no, not on purpose) etc etc etc. But hey, I still love this shot (and the others that I'm not sharing here).

Friday, January 29, 2016

A Photo a Day: Day 29

It's almost the end of the month and I've posted a new picture almost every single day!

I think I'll keep going. Why not, right? A post a day keeps the traffic uh......arriving?

Today I went on a photo walk and made myself just sling the camera over my shoulder (with its new comfy AND cute AND long strap from Crafty Staci, that's not hard at all) and just go. What good are things you own if you don't use them? (I also now have an iPhone after many years of Android use - which I did by default, iPhones are expensive and I couldn't afford them until last week when I scored a new 5S for $150 directly from Virgin Mobile to go with my $35/month unlimited plan so - and I threw a case on it, incorrectly put a screen protector on it (I'll fix it...soon), and shoved in my pocket. No babying this thing!)

I took many pictures. Here are a few of my favorites:

Decatur is home to Pete the Cat - he may be famous worldwide now, but he's from here - and I have always loved taking pictures of this Little Free Library that features him. I worked really hard to get the bokeh going. I would actually consider printing and framing the top one, honestly.

And then just a few more odds and ends:

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Thrifting Post AND Photos from Today: Day 28

As promised, LOTS of photos today to make up for the lack of photos yesterday.

Yesterday I went to three thrift stores but only bought things at one - the doggie/kitty awesome seekrit fabulous store. AND WAS IT EVER FABULOUS.

As always, I don't know the exact prices on most things, but when I know, I'll list them.

Not shown - until I can get it out of the dryer and take a pic - one pair of brown cords for the kid.

All pictures taken with the DSLR and tweaked in Photoshop, which is why there's no excuse for the poor quality of some of them, oops. I may update them in the future - I was overwhelmed today because I also just got a new iPhone 5S and was setting it up and settling into it, moving from Android to iOS (I'm pretty familiar with iOS already and the transferring of contact info was pretty easy, hooray). (I got a deal as far as I'm concerned - a new 5S for $150 added on to the $35/month unlimited service from Virgin Mobile that I've had for forever. UNLIMITED - and the data throttle threshold is so high I never reach it. Nice, eh?)

Plain green shirt - but it's J Crew so it's a good, STRONG plain green shirt.

Pink waffle shirt that Amy said matches my hair, does.

Hard-to-photograph black waffle shirt with 3/4 sleeves. LOVE.

Faux-vintage Star Wars shirt. The purple looks really good with my hair, don't care. Also it fits me well.

FAVORITE #1: FOX SWEATER. It's a little bit and a little boxy but it's SO CUTE with a tank top under it. Also soft.....ALSO FOX.

I did a little dance in the fitting room with this. It's also maybe a smidge big but way soft and so frilly and flowy and adorable.

Another impossible-to-photograph thing: A Guess sweater that is so fancy it has a little silver charm at the middle edge of the back of the collar. It's black and silver/gold sparkly. It has belt loops that I may clip off but I kind of like the idea of belting it. (The sweater goes below my hips in a cute way.) Update: It's this. Now I know what style belt to copy.

Plain dark blue T-shirt.
FAVORITE #2: LOOK AT THIS BELT. It was 50 cents. That buckle is giant and heavy. The belt itself is stamped leather and the buckle removes easily. I just...had to.


Boots!!!! IN MY SIZE. They look new - the soles are flawless. They are leather. They are a high-end brand. They are brown. They FIT. AND????? They were $4.50 for the pair. BUT WAIT!

MORE BOOTS! (I will...eventually take a better picture.) These are Clarks, black, leather, fit me, soft, comfy... ALSO $4.50 for the pair. PERFECTION.
Boots, fox sweater, sparkly black sweater, cute cardi, fancy belt, more more more....I spent about $30 TOTAL. WOOHOO!