Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Spaghetti squash... my new favorite Pasta?

Spaghetti squash is my new favorite food, I love it and so do my kiddos. I have been looking for some healthier alternatives to pasta (OK, so all my Italian friends out there, it is still my favorite food, but sometimes we need something just a little different)

Spaghetti squash is a medium sized cylinder squash it is usually yellow or tan in color, it has a sweet, mild flavor and a four-pound squash makes about 5 cups of “spaghetti.” A good squash is hard and has no soft spots or green spots. It will last about a month in your home at room temperature, and two days in the refrigerator.

Start by figuring out how you are going to cook yours, I prefer to cut mine in half and bake it. I like this way the best for two reasons, it is easier to make the spaghetti and it is like a make and forget kind of meal! You can broil, boil, microwave or even use a crock-pot when making yours. You just have to figure out what is your favorite way to make it.
cut in half- a tiring task!
1. Start by preheating your oven to 375°.
2. Cut your spaghetti squash in half, you will need a really sharp knife and some elbow grease. You can also choose to just poke holes in the skin and bake it whole.
3. Place the squash face down on a baking sheet.
before it was scooped!

after cutting

on the sheet ready to go

4. Bake for one hour, when the squash is cool enough to handle, pick up on half and using a fork scrape the edges and then shred the inside to look like spaghetti. It is really easy and will almost fall from the squash.
baked right out of the oven
Now, my kids love theirs with just a little bit of marinara sauce and some Parmesan cheese. I personally like mine with a little bit of minced garlic, olive, oil (you could use butter too!) parsley, and some cheese. 

my favorite with olive oil, garlic and cheese

with sauce-great instead of spaghette

Either way, you will love the squash and the fact that you can feed your entire crew for a bit of money is even better.

How do you like your spaghetti squash?

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Nomination....check, voting... up to you!!!

What an honor. Barefoot in Paradise was nominated for  2nd Annual Parenting blog Award by! Thanks to your nomination as we couldn't do it without you.

Now, I need your help again, help us to win by voting from now until July 27! The top 5 blogs win.

In no time at all, you can help us win! Vote for Barefoot in Paradise.

Thank you for your continued support and continue to follow our adventures one day at a time!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Advocare: and how it changed my life!

This has been a couple of years of growth for me and my children. I know children always grow but this type of growing is different, we have grown in our faith, grown in our ability to be a family. One of the biggest areas, in which I ignored, for many reasons, time, money, lack of patience the list goes on and on (you get the point) was our diet and healthy lifestyle.

I have tried to be healthy, organic (in my food and life) and for lots of reasons I have pushed it to the side because of convenience. Well needless to say that has created a few monster problems, first being the fact that I gained so much weight, I could barely recognize myself and move. I was exhausted halfway through my day and loosing my patience with my children for no reason other than I was tired. This is not what I wanted for them or myself and something needed changed, as we could not continue on in this way.

The other problem I started seeing was my children who have always liked healthy foods were choosing the crap that is over processed over the good stuff. This was not OK with me; I want my children to have a life of health and not being overweight and full of garbage. They also started to show signs of not being properly nourished and I was failing as a mom.

Now, that this was recognized and my goal was set, get my healthy life back! How? I have tried every fad diet from Atkins to slim fast, to the improvement programs like Weight watchers and Jenny Craig. None of these worked for me (and I emphasize me), too many restrictions and to hard to follow along and then I felt like a failure for stopping which just fed the problem more (pun intended). I needed to feel results (and see them) in order to maintain my desire to continue. I know it sounds bad, but I do something for over two weeks and nothing shows or I don’t feel better it is hard to continue.

I had a friend who started Advocare and to be very honest, I was sick of hearing how wonderful it was on her facebook feed. I kept praying for an answer, how can I get healthy, see results and maintain a healthy lifestyle! One day, she posted again about Advocare and how much Energy she had, so I sent her a private message. “What’s this Advocare? And how does it work?”

Well that was a very detailed email back and guess what, I am so glad that she took the time to explain Advocare to me, as my life hasn’t been the same since. There are so many things I love about Advocare; I cannot even begin to tell you.

I like that Advocare advertised a 24 day challenge, where in 24 minutes, you can feel the difference, 24 hours you will know the difference and 24 days you will see the difference that was intriguing to me, I needed that or my desire to continue went right out the window.

Other things that I adore about Advocare, everything is made in the USA, not saying that things are bad if they aren’t, just nice to know it is made in my country. I also liked that I was able to change my lifestyle with help and not follow some diet!

Advocare has some great products, first of all the spark! How many of you have ever said about your children if you could only bottle their energy? Well, Advocare has. Spark is a life changer, if I could only have one Advocare product for the rest of my life (good thing that’s not the case) it would be Spark. It is an all natural energy drink, packed full of vitamins and minerals. I drink one every morning and not only does it give me the energy to last all day but it is a natural way to have it. All of the energy drink s I have tried in the past, were just a does of energy to where I felt like I had plugged myself into a socket, I couldn’t’ function, I just was a ball of energy and then all of a sudden I crashed and crashed hard, to where I needed a nap to even function. That’s doesn’t; work for me. 

Spark-helping Mommies function :)
Spark comes in many flavors, fruit punch, grape, orange, pink lemonade, watermelon, mango strawberry, cherry, and mandarin orange. I cannot even begin to sing this products praises, I could stand on the rooftops and sing for joy, how much I adore spark. I love that when I take a spark, I feel focused and ready to go for the day. I find myself being able to hold conversations and not going off in 50 different directions.

Love this example: Lorren on spark (left), Lorren before spark (right phone)
I love spark so much that my Peanut who has ADHD (and I was tired of pumping his little body full of medication), now drinks half a spark in the morning and half around 1:00pm. Advocare does not support giving spark to young children, but this was my decision as a parent and I stand by it 100%. Peanut now, will eat on a schedule as opposed to not eating all day and then when the medication wears off, shoves food down his face at alarming rates. Peanut is able to sit and do his work at school, focus when it comes time to homework, pay attention to his coach at practice. This is a huge win in my book. He has also got to the point, where he is at a healthy weight and I do not have to give him more medication to help him gain weight. I am not saying that this is the cure all for every child but I was willing to try it with Peanut to make a life change for him as well as me.

my favorite flavor: its a limited availability product

Advocare has changed my life. I cannot wait to share all of the great things that have happened to our lives since Advocare was introduced. Let’s say that Advocare was the answer to many prayers in our household.

Thanks to Advocare, I was able to hike this gorge!

Over the next few days/weeks, I plan on sharing my helpful hints to how to be successful on the 24 day challenge, give you fantastic recipes to try and share my journey with you. 

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Bella Kai Events: Firetruck Birthday Party

I love throwing events… I love the planning stages, coming up with ideas to fit in the budget, spending time with the children having them help me, spending time with them making crafts, food, coming up with the theme and just plan putting it all together and having them as part of the process. Honestly, I think that is my favorite part; just having them enjoy all of the prep work and then seeing the fruits of the labor come together.

When Peanut turned 8, (where has the time gone????) he was so excited and had picked his theme months ahead of time. I was shocked because he usually wants to have a simple party like cake and a movie, and it is always me, like are you sure? This year was different, he had figured out his theme, what he wanted his cake to look like and even what his birthday shirt would look like.

Each year they get a custom made t-shirt (or outfit) to match the theme of the party; you can read my original post about them here during our Birthday Week posts

He wanted a fire truck party, yes easy enough. He wanted to have it at a fire station (umm a little harder). A Very long and complicated story short, you cannot host an event at our local fire station without being a member of the fire department or a family member, so that idea was out. Next best thing, having some of them available so the children can tour the firehouse.

Peanut actually started the planning this year, by coming up with his shirt design, a shirt with the number 8 on fire and a truck putting it out. Where does he come up with these ideas, oh yes he is my child! Here is the shirt in all of its glory. I love how it turned out and he was super happy with it.
Birthday shirt!

Next came the cake, again he knew what he wanted, a fire hydrant for a cake. Well, ok then, I was afraid of the weight and the logistics of moving the cake to the party location, so we compromised and came up with a smaller hydrant and cupcakes made to look like flames. I love the way they turned out; it was the perfect match to the theme.

Fire hydrant cake up close

fire cupcakes up close

Finally came the menu and this it my favorite and lest favorite part. I love to come up with food ideas that match the theme using food that is easy to make and inexpensive but it is also the hardest part for me as it is the most time consuming. I change the menu over and over again, sometimes up until the last minute when I am setting up for the party.

We settled on a menu of: pizza for the main meal (which was great, because I could have it premade and I didn’t have to worry about it). For drinks, bottled water with red and orange duct tape on them (fire extinguishers) and fire truck fuel (lemonade). Pretzels with chocolate (matches), Oreo balls (fire truck tires), licorice (fire truck hoses) fruit kabobs with fire hydrant and number 8 tops (fireman ropes), chocolate chip cookies (Dalmatian droppings), and of course the cake and cupcakes. I loved the way the menu turned out and even how it looked on the buffet!
pretzel matchsticks

fruit kabobs

fruit kabobs with numbers and hydrants

fire cup

fire truck fuel

fire extinguishers
Life savers

fire truck wheels

match sticks

firetruck hoses (my hydrant fell apart :( )

Dalmatian droppings'
both cakes together
overall buffet love the way-it looked especially with the vintage town pictures in the background

Next came the activities for the party, one of the biggest challenges that I face is how to make the party fun when I have multiple age groups and often parents come with the younger siblings. I used to try and come up with elaborate ideas and that just stressed me out, so for this party we kept it simple playing games that we all know how to and just changing them to make the theme. We played Duck Duck Goose or in our case, fire, fire, help. The kids and adults loved playing it, all of the kids could play by themselves, which was great for the parents and I didn’t have to spend time coordinating, we could all just play. Then we played limbo, but in this case called it fire. Again the children could play by themselves and all could play.  The next game was Help a firefighter, (it was a modified of a baby shower game). We told the children they were fighting a huge fire and they had to pull enough rope to help the firefighters. Using Crete paper, we had the children take turns wrapping their partners up in the hose, as sometimes the hoses get tangled. They had to make it out of the hose but they couldn’t wiggle out, they couldn’t rip the paper and they couldn’t cut the hose. It was fun to watch them try and make it out of the hoses. The last inside game was to play pin the badge on the Dalmatian. This one was a store bought game and usually I am all about DIY and inexpensive but I got such a good deal on plates, cups, games, hats, and cupcake stands ($4.000 for it all), that it was too hard not to purchase it, plus it saved me a ton of time!

fire fire help!

dont get burned!


pin the badge on the dalmation

finished game

After we played the games we had an eating break and then came time to tour the firehouse and the last activity, ire fighter training! I think I was the most excited about this part of the party, just because it seems the most fun.  We walked the block to the firehouse only to find out that they had forgotten (even thought I had confirmed the day before) and no one was there. I felt so bad, Peanut looked upset (could you blame him?) but soon recovered when we went right to fire fighting training.

Fire fighter training was an obstacle course. We started the children with putting on the plastic hat, then as carefully as they can run through a ladder on the ground. At the end of the ladder was a “fire truck” that they had to step into, and then run to a water bucket filled with sponge balls. This were something we use all summer long and you can find direction on how to make them here, I also used these same balls for Pumpkin’s art party.  The six balls had to be soaked, carried to another bucket then rung out and dropped on the ground. The next part of the course was to run around the hydrant. I originally had them glued to a stick and pushed into the ground but they kept flopping over so we just laid them on the ground. To end the run, they had to run to the next person in line and hand them the hat.

grabbing the fire truck to run with

start of the course, ladder run

go back you lost your hat

filling the buckets with the sponge balls


The children loved this part of the party and it was so fun to watch them play. The best part was this game cost me nothing but 30 minutes of prep time! You can’t beat that.

To make the fire truck, I covered an old box in a red table cloth and Peanut drew the truck parts on with a marker and we bent two pool noodles inside the box for the hoses. The sponge balls we had around the house already (make sure to check out the links on how else I have used them), finally the fire hydrants were cut out of painted cereal boxes!

the beginning of the truck
cereal box designs

painted and cut out ready to go!

Finally came the party favors, we used paper bags filled with orange and red tissue paper (left over from Christmas and other birthday party) cut to look like flames. Inside the bags, we red and orange rock candies,  fire house cookies, homemade bubbles (you can find that recipe and other activities here)  and s'mores kits.

finished bag
bags at the party

sign at the party

Party cost breakdown: for 35 guests( this includes the parents and younger siblings)

Cake: and 25 cupcakes: $50

Food including pizza, $20 (yes, I used lots of coupons and most of the items were free or as little at 50 cent0

Decorations from the store bought kit: $4.00

Party t-shirt: $20

Overall cost of the party: $94

Not my best budget party but honestly what threw me over budget, I usually stick to a $50-75 budget was having to purchase the pizza and t-shirt. Usually I am able to get food for cheaper as I make it but this year it was all about convenience. 

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