Tuesday, April 28, 2009

you have to try it

I just made this Baked Ziti from The Biggest Loser Family Cookbook. Ohhhhhhh it was so good. You have to try it! Plus, I prepared it early in the day, put it in the refrigerator and then baked it at dinnertime. Sooo good considering it has 350 calories and 6g of fat. It has 8 servings so make sure you dole it out properly and save the rest for leftovers. 

Olive oil spray
1 (14.5 oz) box fiber-enriched ziti or penne rigate (reccomended Ronzoni Smart Taste)
1 (15 ounce) container fat-free ricotta cheese
2 large egg whites
8 ounces (4 cups) finely shredded reduced-fat mozearella cheese
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
Salt, to taste
Ground black pepper, to taste
Crushed red pepper flakes, to taste
3.5 cups low-fat, low-sodium, marinara
2 tablespoon grated reduced-fat parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Lightly mist a 13 x 9 x 2 ceramic or glass baking dish with olive oil spray.

Cook the ziti according to package directions until al dente. Drain.

In a large mixing bowl, mix the ricotta, egg whites, and all but 1 cup of the mozzarella until well combined. Add the garlic powder and season with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Stir in the cooked pasta until well combined.

Spread 1 cup of the marinara sauce on the bottom of the prepared dish. Add half of the pasta in an even layer over the sauce. Top the pasta evenly with another 1 cup sauce. Layer the remaining pasta over the sauce. Spoon the remaining 1.5 cups sauce evenly over the top of the pasta, then sprinkle the remaining mozzarella and the Parmesan over the top.

Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and bake 10 minutes longer, or until the mozzarella is melted. Let stand 5 minutes. Cut into 8 pieces or spoon among 8 bowls and serve.

Makes 8 servings.

Per serving: 350 calories, 22 g proteins, 57 g carbohydrates, 6 g fat (3 g saturated), 20 mg cholesterol, 8 g fiber, 429 mg sodium

Monday, April 27, 2009

they make me feel thin

I'm digging my new workout pants from Target. They are called C9 by Champion and they are the Yoga Capri Pants. I was put off at first because they are really tight, but that makes them almost better. They have that band that folds over and I actually don't pull it over to a low rise, I keep it higher so it helps keep my muffin top in! :) They are softer and less tight after washing They actually make me want to work out. They are $21.99 and you can find them online here, although you should probably try them on in the store.

my life

I feel myself aging every day, but in a good way. I feel myself getting wiser, stronger and closer to God. This last year has been hard, painful, amazing and a blessing all at the same time. I'm nearing my 29th year and I am loving the wisdom, grace and compassion that it brings. I like getting older (maybe that's also because I'm the youngest so I'll still never be the oldest). I wish you peace in your life, even at the most difficult of times.

great snack

Our new favorite snacks are mandarin oranges. I usually buy the small plastic cups. They are perfect because they are easy for Piper to eat, Brody likes them and so do I. They taste sweet and are refreshing. I think they are one of those things you pass over thinking you just want to add them to your Chinese Chicken Salad, but I'm telling you, they are a huge hit at our house!


I walked through Anthropologie yesterday and I was in a little bit of heaven. Everything was gorgeous! I wish their prices were a little more recession friendly, but their clothes are definitely worth it. It is my slice of clothing heaven.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

family documentary

I am so excited to share another family documentary by my company Family Bliss Films. Contact me for more information! Click here to see our previous documentary!

The Williams Family from Family Bliss Films on Vimeo.

earth day

My Earth Day post is very simple. As soon as I had Brody, I felt this immediate need to recycle more. I understood that I would need to teach him good practices to be friendly to the earth, and recycling is the easiest and most basic way to do it. We should all be recycling. As I get older I am trying to practice more ways to be environmentally friendly and I have a long way to go. This blue trash can was $5.50 at Home Depot. It's a bit of an eye sore in our kitchen, but it ensures that everything that can be recycled gets recycled. We are always throwing stuff in it. If you don't have your own eye sore, go get one!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


Lately, we always have a big pitcher of iced tea in the refrigerator made with Lipton tea bags. Not only is great for hot weather, but it's so much better than soda when you want something a little more than water. What's so great about tea? It has protective antioxidants and is 100% natural. I actually don't buy the iced tea bags, we but the regular lipton like the box above and follow their iced tea directions. I don't like to sweeten my tea so really it couldn't be any easier to make.

Pour 4 cups of boiling water over 3 to 5 tea bags and brew 3 to 5 minutes. Chill or add ice.


old navy

Old Navy had a LOT of cute stuff right now. I don't usually shop there but over the last few months I have been more than pleasantly surprised!!!!! Above are the cute sandals (I paid $12 in store) and shorts I got. It was 95 degrees today so it's time to get prepared for summer. Check out Old Navy when you get time, all their sandals are really cute too if you are on a budget!

Monday, April 20, 2009


Design Mom gave Family Bliss Films a shout out on her post last Friday!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

summer time

Sunglasses- Old Navy Baby
Romper- Old Navy
Gladiator sandals- Target

on the flip side

A few days ago I posted on the top fruits/veggies that you SHOULD buy organic because they have the highest levels of pesticides. Well this weekend in Cooking Light Magazine I found the top 5 fruits and top 5 veggies that you can SKIP on buying organic. They are the least likely to contain trace levels of pesticides.
  1. pineapples
  2. eggplant
  3. asparagus
  4. onions
  5. broccoli
  6. mangoes
  7. kiwifruit
  8. bananas
  9. avocados
  10. cabbage
Great to know since it's pretty expensive to try and buy everything organic, now I can feel less guilty about these 10. Obviously someday I would love to go all organic, but for now I want to focus on the most important products. Thank you Cooking Light!

Friday, April 17, 2009

um yum!!!!!

Today my husband brought home some popchips. He supplies them with stretch film and got to bring home a whole box. Holly guacamole they are good. I had never heard of them before. Basically they are like potato chips without being fried or baked. Instead they are "popped". They are totally all-natural and not bad for you, no trans fat, saturated fat, no preservatives and the nutrition contents aren't horrible either. They don't have organic ones yet but I'm sure they will in the future.

salt & pepper
sea salt & pepper
parmesan garlic

And to get more info on what they mean when they say they "pop" them, I went to their website and here's what they say, "Popping is a way of cooking our all-natural ingredients using heat, pressure, and a little snack magic to burst the ingredients into the shape of a chip before we season it. In fact, making popchips is almost as much fun as eating them. We said almost."

So where can you pick up a few bags? Whole Foods, Safeway, Target, most grocery stores, Jamba Juice and Bev Mo.

Thursday, April 16, 2009


I love Baby Gap!! I use to work there for years when I was in high school and college and they have always cranked out really cute styles. Plus, things always go on sale and I know that I can get good prices. Lately though they have been having extra great sales and incentives online and in-store and quite frequently. 30% off here and there. If you haven't signed up online you are missing out. Plus you can shop at GapOld Navy, Banana Republic and Piperlime all at the same time and in the same cart. Discounts apply to all!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

let's rewind

We went to Georgia & Alabama a few weeks back and it was my first experience in the South. We had an amazing time exploring and visiting family. Some of my best moments were just driving and look at the landscape before us. I have to share some of my favorites from the trip.

First, a shout out to all the really nice people in the South. I get what people have always been saying. People were genuinely nice and had a deep respect for each other.

So, I am a bit of a hotel snob but I let my dad do the hotel booking in Georgia. After all, there are not many hotels in Americus, Georgia. So he booked us at a particular hotel (no names) that was pretty disgusting. It wasn't his fault, he didn't know and my dad has great taste. There is something about being a mom that makes you see exactly how dirty things are. I many not have cared as much before I had kids, but watching my daughter crawl on that floor made me want to vomit. So, after one night I told my dad that I couldn't do it and we drove over to the Hampton Inn next door. Wow, when we walked inside it was a breath of fresh air. There was actually someone on their knees scrubbing the tile floors. So I have to say that my hero of the vacation was the Hampton Inn, a hotel I probably would have never gone to before, but I hold dear to my heart now. And of course to my dad for moving us.

I had sweet tea for the first time. Okay it wasn't a favorite but I was really excited to try it!

All the beautiful churches everywhere you went. They were all different and amazing in their own way. 

The run down houses, although sad for the people who no longer have them. They added a realness to the landscape that I found beautiful and both sorrowful. 

There were so many of the same So Cal restaurants on our trip that we always eat at. I was a little disappointed. Plus, we had home cooked meals every night so we didn't get to explore too much. On our last day there, we stopped at a Zaxby's, which I had never heard of, and it was good! I wouldn't eat there every day since everything is fried, but it was yummy and so clean.

My true favorite though, of all the vacation, was just spending time with my dad, my kids and my husband. Sitting in a car for four hours is not a bad thing when you get solo time with busy people. It was awesome. And of course, seeing family that you love, especially when you see them every few years. I love to rediscover people in my life as I get older. It takes on a new meaning.


Monday, April 13, 2009

to set the table

We had Easter at our house and I was on a budget after throwing Piper an extravagant birthday party. My only problem was that I still wanted it to be somewhat formal, you know, real plates, silverware and non-paper napkins.  I had no money to go buy anything new even though I really needed tablecloths and napkin rings. Plus my decorations were minimal. So here's what I put together:

I used bunny pillows I had already gotten at Target and added them to the table as decorations. I also used tulips I got from the grocery store for like $4 each. I didn't want the dirt to show so I added colored Easter eggs to the plant before people arrived.

To solve my non-napkin ring problem, I found some fake flowers I have had forever and stripped them down and tied them around the napkins. I ended up loving them!

For a centerpiece I used a garland type thing that was $5 at Home Goods and put the tulips with it as well as plastic eggs I had from last year at Target. They are see-through so I filled them with candy. Much to my surprise they were pretty empty after people left. I also put a candy carrot on each plate and before everyone arrived I added the colored egg with their name on it so they would know where to sit.

By no means is any of this perfect. But it was done with what I had, a very small budget and with some creativity. I actually loved it in person and it made the room bright and cheery. Just because you are broke doesn't mean you have to use paper plates. Use anything you can find! 

ummmm yeah

Anyone else feeling a little pressure to start getting into summer mode? Bathing suit time is right around the corner and I'm feeling a little anxious about it. It doesn't help that my house is filled with lots of candy and leftovers from yesterday. I need to get about 5 pounds off of me and tone up. I hope to share some good tips and ideas that I find over the next few months for inspiration. I think I'll wait and take one more day to enjoy all the sweets around the house.


getting ready for spring and summer

Look at all the cute shoes a certain Grandma got Piper from Target. I tell you, I love buying designer shoes for the kids, but Target makes the cutest little girls shoes!! All shoes below are $12.99 and under.

Friday, April 10, 2009


I love Easter, I love everything that it stands for. I love Easter church. I love Easter dresses. I love hiding the kids baskets before they wake up. It's truly a family day. It is a fav. 

Wishing you and yours a wonderful Easter.


Thursday, April 9, 2009

when to go organic

Found this nice tip out of Everyday Food, which is one of our favorite magazines. A reader was asking, "when is it worth buying organic?" Here is their list of  12 fruits and vegetables that contain the highest levels of pesticides and that you should buy organic.
  • apples
  • bell peppers
  • carrots
  • celery
  • cherries
  • grapes (imported)
  • kale
  • lettuce
  • nectarines
  • peaches
  • pears
  • strawberries
And as I said before, I heart Everyday Food. We make the recipes all the time and look forward to getting it every month!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

A new venture....

My new business venture, Family Bliss Films, comes with a lot of love. Please watch the video below. My partner, Steve Luxenberg, is an award winning wedding cinematographer and together we have created something you will cherish forever by documenting your family in a 3-5 minute video. You have to see it to understand!

Please also explore our website at www.familyblissfilms.com for more information.

We are offering a discount for the first 5 families who sign up. Please email me at amanda@familyblissfilms.com for more information. I would also appreciate it if you forward our info to anyone you think might want one for their family. Enjoy!

The Elhaj Family from Family Bliss Films on Vimeo.

so sorry!

I've been out of town for a bit but now I'm back. I have a lot of great stuff to blog about so keep checking back!