Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Oh To Live The Life Of A Cat

With the warm weather approaching and looking like it may actually stay around, we have been enjoying a good bit of our time outdoors. The cats especially are thrilled that they are able to roam around outside and stretch out in the warm sun. Although they usually stay on our patio and don't roam too far, Atlas does try to test his limit quite often and wander up the stairs. I couldn't resist snapping a few photos of the cats lounging outside this past weekend. Oh to live the life of a cat. No worries at all, just pure enjoyment relaxing in the rays of the warm sun. What I wouldn't give to live one day in their life and experience the world as they do.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Aldi's Brownie Review (liveGfree Brownie Mix)

As many of you know I am gluten intolerant and with that comes the search for items that compare to "gluten filled" goodies, especially baked goods. I usually stick to making my own cookies, cakes, and brownies from scratch, however, every now and again I like to pick up a boxed mix that I can easily whip up in a couple minutes. I came across the gluten free brownie mix that Aldi carries quite some time ago. At only $2.99 a box I figured it couldn't hurt to give it a try, especially considering my normal go to brownie mix is nearly $5 a box. I figured at only $2.99 a box if I hated it, no big loss and if I loved it, I would have a new go to mix.


One thing that I love about this mix is the fact that there are very few ingredients. The box lists the ingredients as sugar, cocoa powder, tapioca starch, rice flour, baking powder, natural vanilla flavor, and salt. Not too shabby in my opinion.

Now, in order to make this mix you only need 3 items:
1/2 cup melted butter or oil (I have tried both & find oil gives it a closer consistency to a "normal" brownie)
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons of water

Once you whisk all the ingredients together you will end up with a yummy batter that looks something like this. I will say, I can't help myself and I eat some of the batter. I know, I know, it is bad for you but it tastes so good and I figure a little bit every now and then won't kill me ;) 


Now I personally am not a huge fan of just plain brownies. Sure I will eat them, I will NEVER say no to a brownie but I do prefer my brownies doctored up in some way. My personal preference is M&M's or peanut butter cups.  Lucky for me I had my all time favorite peanut butter cups from Aldi on hand and decided to toss some of those into the brownie batter. 

Once the peanut butter cups are folded into the brownie batter you pour it into an 8x8 pan and place it in a 350 degree preheated oven for 30-35 minutes. I found it took 30 minutes exactly in my oven.


After the 30 minutes was up I pulled the brownies out and let them cool on my counter. One thing I noticed with this brownie mix is you need to let them cool completely before cutting, otherwise they will crumble everywhere and the texture is different warm opposed to cooled down. 


After my brownies had cooled I had to dive in! I love how you can see the peanut butter that melted from the peanut butter cups. That is exactly how I like my brownies. YUM!


So what is my overall opinion about this brownie mix? 
 
If I had to give it a score of 1-10 I would easily give it an 8 or 9. Nothing compares to a gluten filled brownie but this brownie mix sure comes close. The top of the brownie has that nice crackling affect that normal brownies have, the inside is extremely soft and gooey and the add in of the peanut butter cups give it an extra bit of flavor. I will say that these brownies do taste delicious on their own but I have found that with most gluten free brownie mixes adding in some additional items make the taste even better.
 
 My husband also eats these brownies right along with me and can't tell the difference between gluten filled brownies and these gluten free ones. I would say that says alot about this mix. I love when a gluten free item is so close to tasting like the real deal that others can't tell the difference. That is what I love most about this mix. While it accommodates my gluten free diet, I could easily take them to a party and no one would know the difference.

If you have not tried out this brownie mix yet and you have an Aldi near you I would definitely encourage you to give it a try. The price is amazing and the taste is as well!



DISCLAIMER: This is not a sponsored post. All views and opinions are my own. Product was purchased by me with my own money.


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Well Hello Nikon D5200

For as long as I can remember, I have wanted a DSLR. The past year or two being on Youtube my desire for this camera has increased. I have alwasy been hesitant about buying one though for two reasons. 

1. I could never justify the price. Even the older models cost $500 and up. That is/was alot of money for a want and not a need.

2. I am technically challenged. With a DSLR comes a TON of learning. I would need to learn about white balance, ISO, and aperture. Things I had and have no clue about it! It all seemed so difficult and I wasn't sure I wanted to put in the time to learn something new. 


Within the past couple months however, I have been having issues with my current camera, A Canon Powershot Elph 320HS. I bought this guy about a year ago from Amazon for just under $300. It served my purpose well however I had two, quite big in my opinion, complaints. I wasn't able to manually focus this camera which led to an issue with the auto focus always going in and out of focus making my videos blurry. The sound quality was decent but not the greatest and one big drawback was the inability to add an external microphone to help improve this quality. About a month and half ago, my husband and I talked about finally getting me a DSLR. He said since I make Youtube videos and daily at that, having a good camera could only benefit me. Also with having a DSLR I would now have a camera that could grow with me as I can buy different types of lens as well as the ability to purchase an external microphone. 


My sweet sweet husband worked a couple Sunday shifts so we could use that extra cash to purchase my camera. This allowed us to leave our savings account and normal money alone. We often joke that weekend work is our fun money or our toy money. Many times Colby will work a weekend or two in order to buy a new 'toy". His recently was a new upgraded part for his computer and mine a DSLR lol.


I have been having so much fun with my new camera, taking all kinds of photos and thought I would share some in this post. I can't get over how clear the photos turn out! I am still getting used to having a heavier bulkier camera and of course I still need to learn all of the buttons and controls and how to change everything and use the correct settings, but I am sure all that will come in time. I have also ordered two different external microphones for my videos on Youtube. This should really help with the sit down types of videos that I do.I decided to purchase two different kinds so I could do a little bit of experimenting to see which one produces the best sound. I figured it couldn't hurt to try them both and go from there

For those interested in what items I bought, I will have them listed below with links to where you can find the item/where I purchased the item. I can't way to continue learning about this awesome camera and I hope it helps to increase my quality in not only photos but my videos as well. Until next time :)


Items purchased:

Nikon D5200- Best Buy $749.99

Audio Technica ATR-3350 Lavalier Omnidirectional Condensor Microphone- Amazon $18.25

TAKSTAR SGC-598 Photography Interview MIC Microphone - Amazon $37.99

Thursday, April 10, 2014

What Happened To Mr. Cat?

A lot of you have been asking where is Mr.Cat? What happened to Mr.Cat? Did we find a home for Mr.Cat? Seeing as how I did promise I would keep everyone updated, I thought I would share what has happened to Mr.Cat.

Going back to the day we brought home Mr.Cat, we knew that we wanted to try to find him a home. We already have 2 cats and weren't looking for a 3rd. However, little did we know what we were in store for. After the first couple days of Mr. Cat being here and being incredibly friendly, everything changed once he was well rested and fed. Now, we are not sure if Mr. Cat was originally an indoor or outdoor cat, but I will say, once he was well rested and fed that cat tried everything he could to get outdoors. Every single night he would rentlessly meow at the door and every time we tried to open or close the door, Mr. Cat tried to make a run for it. A couple times he did manage to get outside and immediately booked it towards the woods. We obviously ran after him and brought him back inside. However, it was quite apparent that he wanted to be outside and wasn't completely happy being indoors. After learning this we decided we needed to find him a home where he would be able to be both indoors as well as outdoors.

However, the more and more we looked for a new home for him and the more time that passed it became apparent that Mr. Cat was getting quite frustrated from being indoors. While our cats are indoor animals we do let them out on occasion but they never stray from our porch, we couldn't do the same with Mr. Cat because he would run towards the woods, putting himsefl at danger of being hit by a car. The more we opened our door, the more he tried to run out and eventually he started to become pretty mean. He would claw at our legs if we tried to step around him to go outside and he would claw and bite at our arms if we picked him up to move him from the door. All in all, Mr. Cat was being more persistent and hostile about wanting to go outdoors. 

A couple nights ago, we opened the door to put out our trash and Mr, Cat bolted out the door towards the woods. My husband ran after him and followed him into the woods. However, it was quite dark and that cat was nowhere to be found. After looking for quite awhile, we decided to call it quits and hoped that he would return on his own. We placed a bowl of food and water outside on our porch in case he came back during the night. The next 2 days we searched the woods and the nearby areas for any sign of Mr. Cat. Luckily there are streams of water that run through the woods and plenty of birds for Mr. Cat to hunt (which is something he seemed to enjoy doing and what he would chase after when he ran outside.) However, so far we have had no luck in finding him. There are some neighboring houses that Mr. Cat could have easily wandered in to as well as the possibility that he ended up at one of our neighbors in the apartment complex.

As much as it saddens me to say we have not been able to find him and we were not able to find him a home, it was to the point where that cat would have done anything to get out of the house. He loved chasing the birds and I hope that if he is in the woods still that he has found plenty of birds to hunt and the streams of water are keeping him hydrated. We will contune to look for Mr. Cat every day and if by some chance we do find him, we will continue looking for a new home for him. Honestly though, I don't think we will ever see him again and if that is the case, I do hope he is happy where he is at and I hope the week he spent with us gave him the time he needed to rest, plenty of food, and the chance to heal his battle wounds. I like to think that we were meant to find him and we were just one stop along his travels to where he wants to be. I hope we were able to provide him with everything he needed before he continued on his journey and if we do see him again, I will take him back home with us and give him the love he needs until he moves on once again.

I promise to keep everyone updated if anything changes and if we do find him, but until that happens, please keep Mr. Cat in your thoughts.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

My Spring Cleaning Schedule

Now that Spring is officially here, it is time to get out the mop and broom and get busy! Spring cleaning is probably one of my favorite times of the year. I know, I know, I probably sound crazy right? In all honesty, I actually enjoy cleaning and I enjoy purging items and making my home clutter free. 

Spring cleaning is the one time out of the year that we can really focus on all the nitty gritty things that need done around our home. I often find myself putting off some of the bigger cleaning tasks until Spring cleaning and welcome that time to finally accomplish those tasks that I have been putting off all year.

 One BIG task I always put off is cleaning our couch and loveseat. We currently have micro suede furniture and it is a huge pain in the butt! I don't know if any of you are familiar with this type of fabric but the one thing I do know, if you have children DO NOT buy this type of couch lol Every single spill shows up and essentially "stains" the couch. Now, we don't have any children but that doesn't mean we don't ever spill our drinks or make a mess lol I have watched so many videos and read so many blog posts that I have found on Pinterest, on how to clean micro suede couches and I think I am FINALLY going to try it.

With that being said, I thought I would share my personal Spring cleaning list that I created for our apartment. Feel free to use my list as a guide for your own home and/or adapt it to fit your needs. I know I personally love seeing other peoples Spring cleaning lists and the nice thing about them is I find out if I have left out any important Spring cleaning tasks that I may want to add to my own.
 
Now, on to the list! 



As you can see from my list, I do list just everyday normal cleaning as well. The reason I do this is although I vacuum every day for instance, I don't move my big furniture (ie. couch) when I vacuum. So during my Spring cleaning, I move the furniture and do a really good deep clean with my vacuum. I also like to make a to do list of things I may need to buy or make that I haven't had a chance to get around to yet. These items usually aren't extremely important but more along the lines of wants. While I do write these down, if they don't get accomplished, no big loss, I can do them another time. I just prefer to list them to remind myself that I want to take care of those items at some point. 

Well, there you go folks, this is my Spring cleaning list in a nutshell. Please feel free to share your Spring cleaning list with me as well.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Hello Mr. Cat


This past weekend my husband and I decided to go check out a house that was for rent. Upon reaching the house we noticed there was a cat wandering around outside on the porch. The lady who was showing us the house mentioned that the previous renters had abandoned the cat and had no intention of coming back to pick him up. This little guy was incredibly friendly and just wanted to be pet. After a few minutes of petting, we turned our focus on the house, you know, the main reason we were there lol. Although the cat did not come inside with us, he did greet us once again outside in the back yard. As I was looking at the storage shed and garage, my husband was paying attention to the cat. At this point, he had already made up his mind about the house and knew we would not be taking it (the basement had flooding issues). 

 After thanking the lady who showed us the house, we made one final stop on the porch to say goodbye to the cat and give him a couple more minutes of our attention. While petting this cat, we both knew he had our heart. He was/is the friendliest cat we have ever known and with its previous owners abandoning him, we were worried what would happen to this little guy. So, we talked it over on the porch about what to do. We both agreed we needed to take this guy home. Although we already have two cats and had no intention of adding a third, we did not feel right just leaving him to fend for himself, especially with the upcoming weather. (It rained that afternoon and snowed the next day). So, my husband went back inside to ask about the cat and made it known we wanted to take him with us, at least to give him some food and take him to the vet before finding him a new place to live.

 It is almost a week since we brought this little guy home and he is still with us haha. Although we have asked around and we are trying to find him a new home, for the time being (and possibly forever lol) this guy is staying with us. Needless to say, it took no time at all for this little one to win over our hearts and took no time settling in at our place. It is safe to say, he feels 100% comfortable here. Oh, and why the name Mr. Cat? Well we couldn't agree on a name and since we needed something to call him for the time being, Mr. Cat has stuck, although on occasion we do just call him kitty cat lol

Oh! I bet you are wondering how our other two cats are getting along with Mr. Cat. Well, our cat TigerClaws is still hiding under the bed and probably will remain there for months (she did the same thing when we brought Atlas home.) As for Atlas, he is still not quite sure what to make of this new addition. On one hand he is very curious about Mr. Cat but on the other he is still trying to display his dominance and claim that he is the Alpha male. It is a work in progress, but he will stay in the same room as Mr. Cat now, which is improvement from the first couple of days when he hid lol 


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

A Simplier Place In Time: Amish Country

This past weekend I took a little trip home to join my family on an outing to Amish Country. For those of you that have never heard of Amish Country, let me tell you, it is a really neat place! Amish Country is located in Ohio. 
Sugarcreek, Walnut Creek, Millersburg, & Berlin are among the most common cities that "tourist" frequent when they come here. Ohio is actually home to the world's largest Amish community. There are so many things that you can do here. You are able to enjoy the vast and beautiful scenery of farms and Amish life. Not a visit goes by without seeing at least one horse and buggy, often you will see the horses tied up outside of one of the stores where its owner is either tending to errands or simply working that 9-5. Tours of a real Amish farm are offered as well as buggy rides for the whole family. The best thing about Ohio though is their food! Nothing beats Amish home cooking. They seriously have some of the best cooking around and I would lie if I said I did not leave feeling quite full every time I visit.

This most frequent visit however, was not without its adventures. I left my house on Friday around 6am to begin the drive to my families house where we were all meeting up before taking one car on our trip. While the skies were still dark outside when I left and the morning air was quite cold and crisp upon my skin, I was happy to be making the trip to one of my favorite places. The forecast for the day was a high of 50 degrees with rain and snow only in the morning hours. Upon arriving at my parents house, the sky was brightening and there wasn't a rain cloud in sight. My nephew, who will be three in a few short months, informed me that "he wasn't going to go trick or treating because it was Easter and the bunny was going to bring him candy." Oh how I miss the stories he tells. He is starting to have quite the imagination! 
His stories and songs kept us all quite cheery as we started on our two hour drive. Shortly into the drive however, the weather shifted and we began to see some slight flurries. No problem we thought, some flurries and rain were called for, surely it would pass. Not long after, the snow began to fall harder and the roads were quickly covered. Our car slid to a stop as the roads turned icy. We were literally in the middle of a white out and the snow was coming down hard...we pressed on however, certain it had to stop and a sunny day would be upon us. 
While the snow eventually did halt and the air warmed a bit I can honestly say it was the craziest thing! By the time we made it to our first stop there was barely any sign that mere hours earlier there had been a large amount of snow fall. Weather can be quite odd sometimes. But, we were happy to now be able to fully enjoy our day.
Our first stop was Sols. This is a very large building, two stories actually that is filled with handcrafted items. I ended up purchasing two candles for $9 each and they smell amazing! I have them burning currently and my whole house smells like a delicious bakery! I also picked up a floral Spring sprig for my dining room table and love the way it looks with the white vase I recently picked up from Goodwill.
Now, a trip to Ohio is never complete without enjoying dinner at our favorite restaurant: Der Dutchman.For as long as I can remember, every trip made to Ohio has ended at this very spot. The food is AMAZING! Nothing beats good ole' Amish home cooking. My favorite dinner and the one I always  seem to get includes:  oven roasted turkey, crisp hash browns, and an order of fries. Of course the meal wouldn't be complete without their amazing BBQ sauce and a tall cold glass of chocolate milk to wash it all down. Yum! I am not a huge milk drinker but I absolutely love their chocolate milk! 
 After a delicious dinner at Der Dutchman we head next door to their bakery. Here you can pick up lots of the same items they serve in their restaurant, including their famous bread and rolls. While I can no longer enjoy these items, thanks to my gluten intolerance, I still make sure to pick up a pack of rolls for my husband. One of us needs to enjoy these and while I wish it was me, at least my husband is able to. They really are amazing! They are soft and fluffy and with a little bit of their homemade butter, they are to die for! 

 Now if you head down the street a little ways you will come across the Coblentz Chocolate Store. There is one item I always pick up when we go there: their mini chocolate buckeyes! For those of you who watch my grocery haul videos, you will know I always refer to Aldi peanut butter cups as addicting, well these little buckeyes are just as addicting if not more so. It is a good thing I only go up to Ohio a few times throughout the year. Combine the amazing food from Der Dutchman with the Buckeyes from the candy store and my waistline would be in for some serious trouble haha  
Another stop that has amazing food (have you noticed a pattern yet haha) is Heini's Cheese Factory. You guessed it, they have amazing cheese lol.One really cool thing about Heini's is that you can actually go on tours and see how their cheese is made. They also do not use preservatives in many of their products. Yep, you get the real deal when you come here.
I always like to stock up on cheese when I go as well as grab a big bag of beef jerky for my husband. Nothing is better than homemade beef jerky. Yum! While it is pricey ($17.99 per lb) it is worth every penny. 
Overall, it was a great weekend and I am so glad I got to spend it with my family, who unfortunately I don't get too see that often. I returned home with wonderful memories, a stuffed belly, and enough treats to last us for quite awhile! Oh who am I kidding, they will be gone in a couple days hehe.
 If you haven't already, you can watch the video below where I share all of the amazing things I picked up during my trip. 

Until next time...