Monday, December 26, 2011


I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas with friends and family.  I enjoyed spending the weekend with family in Wisconsin where there was a beautiful dusting of snow. 

I recently received a package of Somersaults to review, and I am very excited to share this snack company with you!  Somersaults "are the result of our quest to create healthy, tasty snacks for people who want more than just empty nutrition."  They use absolutely nothing artificial in their snacks, "staying far away from trans fats, hydrogenated oils and high fructose corn syrup, so you can feel as good sharing Somersaults with your family." 

Here are my reviews of the various flavors:

Santa Fe Salsa: 10 of 10. Hot and spicy, but not too salty. Very flavorful and satisfying.

Pacific Sea Salt: 9 of 10. Thick, crunchy, and lots of delicious seeds.  It was a bit too salty for my liking, but packed full of flavor and slightly addictive.

Dutch Cocoa: 9 of 10. Rich, deep chocolate flavor and slightly sweet.  Crunchy and crispy outside.  This makes for a great dessert snack, though it could have been even sweeter for me.

Salty Pepper: 9.5 of 10.  A bit too salty, but a great, full flavor with pepper and other spices like garlic and onion.  It was like a flavor shot for my mouth.

Cinnamon Crunch: 10 of 10.  Sweet, rich cinnamon flavor.  A great dessert that was like mini cookies.

I loved these!!  They are such a tasty and healthy snack.  You do have to watch your portion size (around 140 calories for 14 pieces), but they are so good. ^_^

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Pumpkin Bread AND Winter Break!!

Fall semester is over!  I turned in my last final project yesterday and can finally breathe again.  Winter break is such a blessing, and I will definitely miss it once I'm working full time.  I have to say I'm still extremely pleased with my new home state of Illinois.  While we did get a dusting of snow a couple days ago, we have yet to truly experience winter, and it's already mid-December!  Back in Iowa that is most definitely not the case. 

The lack of snow and reasonable temps in the 30s have also allowed me to keep biking to class and work!  I'm trying to hold out longer than I did last semester, and so far I am succeeding!  Once the ice and snow arrive though, I'll resign and take public transportation again.

I baked some pumpkin bread recently too.  I decided to try a lower sugar and fat recipe, and it actually turned out to be quite delcious.  Here it is:

Ingredients (Makes 10 servings)

1/2c. sugar
3tbsp. olive oil
1/4c. applesauce, unsweetened
1 egg
3/4tsp. cinnamon
1/4tsp. nutmeg
1tsp. vanilla
1c. pumpkin
1tsp. baking soda
1/4tsp. salt
1 2/3c. flour
1/3c. water


Preheat oven to 350°F. Cream sugar, oil and applesauce together. Add egg and mix well. Add spices, vanilla and pumpkin. Mix flour, baking soda and salt. Alternately add flour mixture and water and mix well. Pour into 3 greased small bread loaf pans or 1 greased large bread pan. Bake at 350F degrees for 30 minutes for smaller loaves or 45-55 minutes for large loaf.


I hope everyone else is having a wonderful holiday season so far with good food and minimal stress.  Take care!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Thanksgiving Bread

Happy Thanksgiving!!  I hope you all had a wonderful day yesterday and were able to spend it with friends and family while eating scrumptous foods.  I decided to bake some bread, which is something I should do much more often since it is oh so delicious!  It's not that difficult either, especially when you make "Easy No Rise Bread" like I did (pictured below).  It's always the best right out of the oven - warm with a crisp crust.

Did any of you hit the stores to do some Black Friday shopping?  I went to CVS under the impression that their sales started today at 6am (I just wanted a hair dryer for $5.99), but when I got there I noticed the parking lot was empty.  It turns out that their sale started on Thursday and the hair dryers were gone :-(.  That will teach me not to rely on those Black Friday aggregator sites.  I should've actually looked at the CVS website...  Oh, well.  I ended up purchasing what will likely be a higher quality hair dryer from Amazon.

Now I must do homework - the end of the semester will be here soon!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Autumn in Illinois

Greetings everyone!  Fall is slowly (and at times quickly) transitioning into winter here in Illinois.  I am sad to see the warm temps go because that means I will need to retire my bike for the winter soon.  I am going to see if I can keep riding it for the remainder of November though since it is such a convenient and fun means of transportation.

My last post promised some beautiful Autumn pictures, and I shall not disappoint. 

Illini Union

Lovely street lamp at night

Main Quad

Rose on the Main Quad (in November!)

Rose on the Main Quad

I thoroughly enjoyed taking the above pictures and also adding special features to some, like the sepia coloring to the rose.

Also, did you all make a wish at 11:11 on 11/11/11?  I did :-).


Monday, November 7, 2011

Taco Tofu

I purchase tofu every once in awhile but rarely use it to make anything all that interesting.  I decided to try something new and scramble my tofu with taco seasoning.  The result was delicious, and it was super easy to make!  I only needed tofu, a pan, some oil, and a packet of taco seasoning.  Here's the gorgeous result:

Do you know of any easy, delicious tofu recipes?  Tofu is so versatile, and relatively cheap too :-).

And I must say I have been loving the extended fall here in Illinois.  Our temps our still in the 50s and the trees aren't bare yet.  I've definitely taken some gorgeous pictures, and I'll be sure to share them with you soon!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Crazy Dog Halloween Costumes and T-shirts!

Halloween is right around the corner!  Do you have a costume yet?  If not, Crazy Dog offers a variety of custumes, and they are letting me share some discounts with you.  When you check out, you can use the coupon code TRICK for $5 off any costume order, OR TREAT for 10% off any costume order. 

Crazy Dog also sent me a couple of their awesome t-shirts to review for you.  I chose the Hugs Not Drugs shirt, which is featured in their New Tees category, and also their super fun Duck Duck Goose t-shirt that can be found in the 80s T-Shirts category.  Regardless of what you find funny or adorable, you are sure to find at least one (and probably a lot more!) t-shirt designs you like.  I personally enjoy the 80s T-shirts category the best since I was born in the 80s.  The school house rock shirts are super (ie. I'm Just a Bill).

Here are the two t-shirts I received:

I just love the quality of each shirt.  They are soft, fit well, and each has a unique, fun design - what more could I want?!  I'm even going to be wearing the "Hugs Not Drugs" t-shirt to a dance tonight.  I'm curious to see if it'll work like a "Free Hugs" t-shirt.  I've never been one to turn down a hug :-).

Have a wonderful evening everyone!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Easy Sugar Cookies

Good morning all!  I had a wonderful weekend enjoying the beautiful autumn weather here in Illinois.  I also took some time to bake some sugar cookies.  I don't bake very often, so this was a fun treat. 

Easy Sugar Cookies (Makes 10 servings)

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2teaspoon baking soda 
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1. In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg and vanilla extract. Combine the flour, baking soda, and nutmeg; gradually add to creamed mixture.

2. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls 2 in. apart onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 350 degrees F for 8-10 minutes or until light brown. Remove to wire racks to cool.

You can find the recipe with nutritional facts here.  They were tasty :-).


Sunday, October 2, 2011

That's it. Giveaway Winner

The lucky winner of the That's it. Fruit Bars Giveaway I hosted is #7 according to, which translates into Lisa Calandrino!  Congrats!  Thank you so much to everyone else who entered.

And in case some of you haven't had the chance to check out my photo website, below are two of my favorite pictures I took over the summer.


Sunday, September 25, 2011

Chili Cheese Fries

Good morning!  I decided to try a new recipe this weekend: Chili Cheese Fries.  This is not something I normally make, but I thought I'd live a little and be more adventurous.  I used the last of my garden fresh potatoes to make the fries, and then I cheated and used canned turkey chili.  I topped it off with some shredded cheese.  Pictured below is the final result:

Maybe next time I'll try making the chili from scratch.  The homemade fries were delicious!

And don't forget to enter my That's it. Fruit Bars giveaway!  It ends Sept. 30!

Have a great week!


Monday, September 19, 2011

That's it. Fruit Bars Giveaway!

Hello everyone!  I hope you had a chance to check out my That's it. Fruit Bars review here.  Today one of you has a chance to win one 12 variety pack!

This giveaway is open to U.S. residents and will end on September 30, 2011. The winner will be picked via and will have 48 hours to respond to the winning e-mail to claim their prize or another winner will be drawn. Make sure you leave a valid e-mail address in your posts!

Mandatory Entry: Leave a comment stating one neat fact about That's it. Fruit Bars or share where you would take your That's it. Fruit Bars for a convenient and healthy snack.

Extra Entries (leave one comment for each): Post a link to this giveaway on your blog.

Add my blog to your blogroll.

Tweet about this giveaway: @ThatsItFruit Bars Giveaway by @cygirl88 at Food, Fotos, and Fun!

Best of luck!


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

That's it. Fruit Bars Review

I've discovered yet another new product: That’s it. fruit bars!  These bars come in 3 flavors: Apples & Cherries, Apples & Pear, Apples & Apricot.  I was sent all 3 flavors to review for you here.

I love how these bars are all-natural and made from only two fruit ingredients and no preservatives, purees, concentrates, added sugar, GMOs or nuts. They are kosher, vegan-friendly, gluten-free, diabetic-friendly, high-fiber, fat-free and low-calorie :-).  These bars also contain Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Beta Carotene and 3 grams of fiber per bar.

While these bars aren't exactly cheap, they are affordable at $19.99 for a box of 12 or as low as $1.29/bar when you buy a 1-3 month supply.  While I would normally just buy real fruit, I think these bars are great for road trips or a day out hiking, touring the city, or shopping.  In those cases, real fruit can get bruised, mushy, etc. and these bars provide a great alternative.

Check out my pictures and review below!

Apples & Pears: 10 of 10.  Simple and delicious.  Very sweet with a nice blend of apple and pear.  I liked the chewy texture with chunks of moist, dried pears and apples in a pureed fruit mix. 

Apples & Cherries: 9.5 of 10. Same great texture with the perfect blend of cherry and apple flavors.  My only complaint is that it was a tad too sour for my liking.

Apples & Apricots: 9 of 10. Sweet and a little sour.  The apricot overpowed the apple flavor by a little, but the bar was still moist and had a great texture.

They sound good, don't they?!  Well, if you'd like to try them, stay tuned for a 12-pack giveaway coming up soon!! 

You can also visit to find more information and purchase a 12-pack of Apples & Cherries, Apples & Pears, Apples & Apricots or variety pack of your own. The bars are also available to purchase on

* Check out That’s it.TM on Twitter and Facebook for special promotions and giveaways.


Monday, August 29, 2011

Simple Potato Hash

Good morning!  I've recently been blessed with a gift of lots of garden fresh potatoes, and I've been trying to think of various ways to use them.  So far I've microwaved them, made mashed potatoes, and baked potato fries.  Last night I decided to switch it up again, so I made my own version of potato hash.  The recipe is below:

Simple Potato Hash

3 small red potatoes
1 large onion
2 eggs
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp fresh rosemary
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp garlic powder

Place oil, onion, and potatoes into a covered skillet and cook until tender, stirring occasionally.  Then add eggs and spices and continue stirring.  Cook until everything is heated thoroughly. 

It's that easy!  I think I'll experiment with adding different spices, but this still turned out well.  Below is the finished product:

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore

Hello all!  Today I'm going to share some pictures with you that I took on a recent trip to Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.  It is a beautiful place to hike, swim, and sightsee.  You can really get a workout hiking up the hills and walking through the sand!  I absolutely loved it and was lucky enough to be there as a storm came through, which meant I got some awesome pictures.  Oh, and I also got soaked... but I survived :-).

The last picture is of the Chicago skyline!  I was so happy to be able to see it, since it's not always visible.

Thanks for reading!  I have a busy couple of weeks coming up now since classes resume for me on August 22.  This summer went by way too fast, but that's probably because I was having so much fun :-).  Now I've got to focus more on school and work.


Saturday, August 6, 2011

Olive Oil Chocolate Chip Cookies

I don't do much baking since I don't like to have a lot of sweets in my apartment, but I recently attended a cookout and decided to bring some cookies along.  I have a nice, large bottle of olive oil, so I decided to find a cookie recipe that used it instead of butter.  Olive oil is healthier too :-).

I found a few recipes, took bits and pieces from each and concocted my own since I can never seem to find a recipe I want to follow exactly.  My version wasn't too sweet, and the cookies tasted like shortbread with chocolate chips.  I liked them, and so did my friends, though some mentioned that they would have liked them to be sweeter.   Below is a picture and the recipe.

Olive Oil Chocolate Chip Cookies

2/3 c. sugar
1/3 c. olive oil
1 tsp. vanilla
1 large egg
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 c. flour
2/3 c. chocolate chips

Mix together sugar, oil, vanilla, and egg. Then add baking powder. Next stir in salt and flour until well absorbed. Add the chocolate chips last.  Scoop spoonfuls of dough onto parchment lined cookie sheet and bake for 10-15 min at 350 degrees until edges are slightly brown.



Thursday, July 28, 2011

So Delicious Coconut Milk with a GlassDharma Straw

I've been busy enjoying the summer, but am back here today with a couple of great reviews :-).  I reviewed Organic So Delicious Frozen Dessert in my last post, and I used my second product coupon to try So Delicious Coconut Milk.  I chose to try the Vanilla So Delicious Coconut Milk, which is pictured below.

10 of 10!  This coconut milk is so rich and flavorful for only 90 calories!  I thought it tasted like soy milk, but richer and sweeter with a hint of coconut.  It was great to drink plain, with oatmeal, or in a smoothie as pictured above.  Also, the coconuts used are organic and non-GMO verified.

As you can see, there is glass straw in the smoothie above too.  I was sent a GlassDharma glass drinking straw to review recently, and so far I'm loving it!  GlassDharma straws are "sustainable, reusable, durable, easy to clean, suitable for hot and cold drinks, and dishwasher safe." A better picture of it is below: 

The straw is simple, durable, and elegant.  I love that it comes with a little brush to clean it with too.  The straw even comes with a lifetime guarantee, so you really have nothing to lose if you want to get one.

I'll be sharing more pictures with you all in my next post!  I also made homemade pretzels recently, but forgot to take pictures.  I'll be sure to take pictures next time though so that I can share them with you.


Saturday, July 16, 2011

So Delicious Frozen Dessert Review

Are we really half way through July already?!  Why must summer always pass by so quickly?  At least I've been enjoying it :-).  And what treat can be more perfect for summer than ice cream?  How about some Organic So Delicious Frozen Dessert!  So Delicious kindly sent me a couple product coupons so I could try and review their products.  The first product I chose to review was Organic So Delicious Dulce De Leche Frozen Dessert (made with soy milk).

First, here's a little background on So Delicious:

So Delicious® Dairy Free products were created by Turtle Mountain LLC, a privately held natural foods company.  They "create the finest dairy free products on the market using the best all natural ingredients obtainable, while monitoring the quality of our processes through every step until the product reaches the hands of our customers."

So Delicious Dulce De Leche: 10 of 10!  Yum!  I loved the caramel ribbon and the sweet caramel hint to the cream.  It was very rich and smooth, and I honestly could not tell that it wasn't dairy.  The nutrition facts are pretty good too, especially for such a rich, tasty treat!

I definitely recommend this product, especially if you are looking for a dairy free frozen dessert.  You can see all of the dairy free products they offer here!

Enjoy your weekend and stay cool!


Saturday, July 9, 2011

No-Bake Peanut Butter Oatmeal Bars

I tried out a new oatmeal bar recipe today!  I love making oatmeal bars.  They're so versatile and on a hot summer day, no-bake versions are even better :-).

Without further ado:

Ashley's No-Bake Peanut Butter Oatmeal Bars

2 1/2 cups oats
1oz dark chocolate
1/3 c. natural peanut butter
1/3 c. honey
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. splenda
1/4 c. raisins
1/4 c. sunflower seeds
1/2 c. water (plus more as needed)

Heat chocolate, peanut butter, honey and vanilla in microwave and then mix with other ingredients in a bowl. Place mixture in a greased pan and store in refrigerator.

I hope you are all having a great summer weekend!


Friday, July 1, 2011

Fiber One Giveaway Winner!

Thank you so much to everyone who entered my Fiber One Giveaway.  And a hearty welcome to my new followers!

The lucky winner (via is #17 or Kim of Mo'Betta!  Congratulations!  I'll be emailing you shortly.

I hope everyone has a wonderful 4th of July weekend.  I'm looking forward to the fireworks :-).


Sunday, June 26, 2011

Pretty Pictures

First, I'd like to remind you all that I have a great Fiber One Giveaway going on right now.  It closes on June 30, so don't forget to enter if you haven't yet! 

I've also been having some fun with my camera lately.  Summer is definitely one of my favorite seasons for taking pictures.  The abundance and variety of flowers is especially amazing.  Below are a few of my recent pictures.  I hope you like them!

I hope everyone had a good weekend!  I sure did :-).  I went on a 70 mile bike ride in the countryside with a friend.  My farthest previous ride was 65 miles.


Saturday, June 18, 2011

Fiber One Giveaway

I am happy to announce another giveaway for everyone to take part in!  But first, to set the stage....

I was recently chosen to receive a Fiber One Dietary Guidelines gift pack from General Mills through My Blog Spark, and it contained some delicious varieties of Fiber One cereal.  As many of you likely know, fiber is an important part of our diet.  The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans say people should consume 25-38 grams of fiber daily, and that the average American consumes only 15 grams.  Incorporating fiber into your diet doesn't have to be hard.  Alongside fruits and veggies, you can enjoy Fiber One cereals that offer at least 30 percent of the Daily Value per serving. (Some Fiber One cereals offer more than 50 percent!)

As for my favorite Fiber One cereal, I'm going to have to go with the Raisin Bran Clusters®.  Yum!  Below are the other varieties:

Now one of you has the chance to receive a Fiber One Dietary Guidelines gift pack just like me!  This giveaway will be open to U.S. residents and will end on June 30, 2011. The winner will be picked via and will have 48 hours to respond to the winning e-mail to claim their prize or another winner will be drawn. Make sure you leave a valid email address in your posts!

Mandatory Entry: Leave a comment stating whether you think you get enough fiber in your diet, and how you might try to incorporate more if you think you're lacking.  Leave your email address too please!

Extra Entries: Become a new follower of my blog. (1 entry)

Link to this giveaway in one of your blog posts and comment below with a link to that blog post. (1 entry)

Thanks for entering and good luck!

Disclosure: General Mills provided me with the free product, information, and gift pack through MyBlogSpark.


Saturday, June 11, 2011

Baked Oatmeal Bars

Today I've got a recipe to share!  Granola bars are a favorite of mine, and I was looking through some bloggers' recipes and found a promising one from Kath Eats Real Food for Baked Oatmeal Snack Bars.  I tweaked the recipe a bit to give it my own spin and came up with Ashley's Baked Oatmeal Bars:

1 3/4 c. oatmeal
1/2 c. sunflower seeds
1/8 c. honey
1/2 c. raisins
1 1/4 c. milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 egg

Mix dry and wet ingredients separately and then combine. Pour mixture into parchment lined baking pan and cook for 30 min. at 350 degrees.  Cut into bars and store in refrigerator or freezer.

The bars were quite tasty, but not very sweet.  Next time I make them I'll add some applesauce and more honey.  Here's the final product:

Do any of you have a favorite granola bar recipe? 


Monday, June 6, 2011

Sunwarrior Protein Powder Review

Is it really June already?!  Summer is going to fly by!  I thought I would have more time to blog, but unfortunately that is not the case, but I do have a post for you today.  I was sent some complimentary Sunwarrior Protein Powder packets for review, and they are pictured below.   I find Sunwarrior Protein to be quite unique in that it is 100% raw vegan, 83% pure protein, hypoallergenic, non-GMO, gluten free, and has a complete amino acid profile among other things. 

I'd give all of the flavors (vanilla, chocolate, and natural) an 8 out of 10.  I mixed each with milk in a blender, but the end product still had a somewhat floury and gritty texture.  The actual taste for each was good, and I also liked the nutrition facts and ingredients.  I just wish the powder didn't create a fine, floury tecture since I really like smoother drinks. 

I hope you are all having a wonderful summer!  This is the perfect exercise season, and so far I'm taking full advantage of that fact by running or biking every day.


Sunday, May 22, 2011

Permalean Protein Bars Review

EnergyFirst sent me a couple Permalean Protein Bars to review in addition to the protein powder and green drink powder packets I reviewed earlier here.  Permalean Protein Bars are advertised as "the only 100% All-Natural, Low Sugar, Low Carb, Low Calorie, healthy nutrition bar in the world!"  I like that kind of confidence :-).  Below are the two bars I was sent:

Chocoholic Chocolate: 9 of 10.  This bar tasted like a tootsie roll to me.  It was chewy with a rich chocolate flavor.  The texture was a tad gritty, but not bad.

Stark Raving Peanutz: 9 of 10.  This bar had a tootsie roll/ 3 musketeers/ Snickers texture, but still tasted like a protein bar.  I liked the thin milk chocolate coating and peanuty inside. 

The nutrition facts for both bars was great, and I was also pleased with the ingredients.  I think these bars would be great to eat for a quick breakfast or a post-workout snack.

On another note, I hope everyone's summer is going well.  I'm enjoying mine so far!  The weather has been fabulous, and I even got in a couple 3 mile runs last week.  I haven't been able to run quite that far since my IT band started to bother me this winter, but I'm slowly increasing my mileage now.  So far all is going well.


Friday, May 13, 2011

Graduation: A blessing and a curse

The semester is over, and many people are graduating from high school or college and moving on in their life.  I'm not graduating this spring, but I do have friends that are.  I'm sorry to see them go, yet happy for them as they pursue their dreams and goals.  This is definitely an emotional time and sometimes I'm not sure how best to handle it.  I think the best thing one can do is to move on with confidence and trust.  New friends will be made, new opportunities will arise, and the pain of parting will subside.  These comforting words can be hard to internalize in the moment, yet such is life: people come and go, relationships begin and end, and change is the only constant.

This definitely reminds me of The Beatles song "Hello Goodbye".

Here's to new beginnings! 

I had to end on a positive, cute note :-).  I took this picture just a few days ago in Champaign.