homemade vanilla extract

If you love to cook and bake you probably use a lot of vanilla. When I started cooking more at home I was surprised at how much vanilla I used and how expensive it really is.  Pure vanilla extract will usually run you a little over $4 for 2 oz.  I snapped this picture at Target and you can see that it’s $4.19 there.

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Family Picture CO

Every summer we go to Colorado for a family vacation.  My dad and step-mom live there in the summer so it’s the perfect opportunity to visit them and have an affordable vacation.  There are so many activities to do and it’s such a nice break from the brutal Texas heat!  What I love most about our Colorado trips is that we stay really active while on vacation.  It works out really well with our two young boys.  And as they grow up there will be more and more we are able to do as a family.

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I am so thankful for my freezer!  Because I keep it stocked on a regular basis I can usually put a quick meal together at the last minute if I haven’t had time to prep for dinner that day.  We did purchase a second freezer a while back and I am so glad we did.  It was an investment we chose to make because I knew healthier eating meant learning to use my freezer.  Here are a few things you’ll find in my freezer.

Freezer Soups

Freezer Soups and Broths

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Recently a friend of mine posted an article that made me think a lot about what message I want to convey on the Real Food – Real Family blog and Facebook page.  So I decided to take some time to think about my goals and share them with you.

First, I want you to know that I do not believe what you feed your family is the most important choice you make each day.  My family’s spiritual health is much more important to me than anything else.  Making sure my kids are kind and loving and respectful are more important than whether or not they ate a vegetable today.  Enjoying life and staying sane are just as important as what I feed my family for dinner each night.  Each of us has to find that healthy balance for our own family.  What I do may not work for you and what you do may not work for me!

Comparison quote

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I have not always eaten the way I do now.  Minus the last 3 1/2 years, I’ve spent almost my entire life losing and gaining weight over and over again.  I went through times of eating almost nothing, times of eating whatever I wanted, and times of eating what I thought was a healthy diet.  I just never seemed to be able to keep the weight off and find a healthy balance with food.  I was most unhealthy during my college and young adult years.  My highest weight during those years was about 35 pounds more than I weigh now.

Fast forward to almost four years ago.  This was about a year after I had my second son and decided to quit working to stay home with my two boys.  We needed to save money and I decided it was time I learned how to cook at home so we weren’t relying on eating out so much.  I started cooking more, though it was mostly out of boxes and I was still using heavily processed foods in my meals.  I honestly knew nothing about cooking home cooked meals that didn’t come from a box.  I started looking for recipes online and in cookbooks.  I started stepping out of my comfort zone by trying new things.  But still, at this point, I thought healthy meant low-fat, fat-free, Lean Cuisine type meals.

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Hello! Thank you for stopping by. My name is Dana and I am a wife and mom to two boys, ages 5 and 7. About 4 years ago I decided to start cooking and eating healthier and making family meals at home a priority.

For the last 6 months or so I have been toying with the idea of starting a blog but I’ve hesitated for multiple reasons. It feels a little stilly to think others would be interested in or care about what I might have to say. And what do I really know about nutrition and cooking!?!? I am not a dietician and I haven’t eaten healthy all my life. But with the encouragement of my husband I decided to take the plunge. I really do have something to share. I’ve gone from years of yo-yo dieting and having an unhealthy relationship with food to losing about 30 pounds and keeping it off for over 3 years. I’ve gone from a diet of almost entirely processed foods to a diet of mostly whole, real foods. Over the last 3 years I have found a joy in cooking that I never knew was possible. I absolutely love to talk about food. So why not blog about it?

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