Halibut in Lemon Brodetto With Pea Puree

halibut pea puree

Okay, this sounds complicated right? I promise it’s not. I found myself wanting to make a recipe with a pea puree. What is pea puree you ask? (okay, you’re probably asking what brodetto is too, but that will have to be another post down the road) Good question and one I wanted an answer to recently. I’m addicted to watching “cooking shows” and it seems like somebody is always making a pea puree. (Remember the Top Chef scandal when Alex was accused of stealing Ed’s pea puree?) So I decided I was up for the challenge of making one. To my surprise there is nothing fancy or hard about making one.  Although there are many versions of pea puree, it is basically what the name implies, fresh or frozen peas and mint, then pureed (not mashed). Of course most recipes add a little more than that. Here is my recipe.


-buy fresh halibut if possible

grow mint at home so you always have some on hand (easy/cheap to grow too)

-keep frozen pea bags stocked in your freezer then you will always be able to whip up a batch of pea puree when you’re looking for a quick side dish to make (without having to run to the grocery store for the 10th time this week)

Buon Appetito! I hope you enjoy this dish as much as I did…so fresh and clean!




Week Four: The Spending Diet Finale


Stylebaggage contributor: Mrs. Colleen

IMG_3246True confessions…

After a day of painting the house, the last thing I wanted to do was make dinner, so we went out for happy hour. I could ramble on with a list of excuses but I’m not going to bother because the bottom line is that we blew our “No Spend Diet” on day 26 with only 5 days remaining of the challenge. Our teen blew it by going to a sporting event on the 27th day. I felt guilty, at first, until I realized the achievements this month has brought:

1) My goal to unload our freezer was a success. When I did my inventory at the beginning of the month, we had 87 items to consume. We ate 47 of them over the course of the month and cleared out more than half of the freezer goods. We had similar success with our pantry items.
2) We spent a lot more time together as a family. This was a highlight for me because like most teenagers, our teen is normally out and about with his friends on the weekend.
3) We ate at home and in turn, we ate healthier foods. This challenge opened our eyes up to how often we had gone out for pizza, burgers, and Mexican fast food. This was our teen’s favorite part of the challenge and one thing he hopes we stick with. He really loved the menu planning.
4) It encouraged creativity. For instance, when we ran out of our teen’s trail mix, he made his own using a variety of ingredients that we already had on hand.
5) We saved money. It’s hard to come up with an exact dollar amount but it’s undeniable that not going out to eat or spending money on frivolous things for a month is a money saver.

So the question is, would we do it again? In the same way that I think a cleanse or a fast is a good way to jump start a diet, I think the “No Spend” diet is a good way to reevaluate your budget and priorities. Our teen also said he would be on board to do it again. My husband…not so much.

Week Three: The Spending Diet

Stylebaggage contributor:Mrs. Colleen

This week I faced my biggest spending temptation yet on “the no spending diet”… COSTCO!  Our printer broke and is a necessity for our business so we had to go buy a new one.  Yes, I know, we could have gone to Office Depot or Staples and grabbed one, but I like Costco better for a variety of reasons including the ease of returns. I know you’re also thinking, “What’s the big deal? Go in and buy the one item and get outta there.” There are two problems with that. One is that we LOVE perusing Costco and the other is the cell phone reception in our Costco is terrible so I had to wander the store trying to pick up a signal to call our IT guy to ask him a question about compatibility. I walked past the 100-gallon jar of peperoncinis. No problem! The 50 pairs of Adidas socks? No problem! But I have to admit; I think I broke into a sweat when I went down the toilet paper aisle.  After getting our question answered, we grabbed the printer and got out of there lickety split without buying anything else.

Good-bye for now, Costco. I’ll see you next month.

The Not So Innocent Ant

This post brought to you by The Orkin Ecologist. All opinions are 100% mine.


I would not consider myself to have an arachnophobia. It’s fair to say I do get the heebeegeebees (That’s a real word according to urban dictionary!) when I see a hairy, leggy creature staring me down though! If you are interested in the science behind these scary buggers, you will enjoy the Ecologist site by Orkin. It helps to educate people and celebrate the different uniqueness bugs have.

The World’s Scariest and Deadliest Bugs is the article I recently found interesting on the Ecologist site. The one disturbing thing I learned that I have not been able to get out of my mind is about the so-called harmless ant. We all know to be scared of a tarantula, but an ant, really? It’s specifically called the bullet ant. Can you guess why? Believe it or not, it is because, if you get stung by this ant the pain has been compared to getting shot with a gun! Some say it feels like a burning nail is being driven into your flesh. You don’t have to worry about crossing paths with one of these tiny guys unless you live in the tropical region south, east and west of Mexico. There were many more interesting bug facts. I liked the article because it was simple, concise, but interesting.

The Orkin Ecologist site is a fantastic educational resource for both novice and experienced science lovers. I really enjoy the featured bug articles. The article on one of my biggest nemesis, the cricket, was amazing!

If you are a big pinner like me, follow them on Pinterest. If you have a creepy #Bugout experience, share it on Orkin Ecologist Facebook page or share with Stylebaggage followers right here in the comments section. Of course you can tweet your #Bugout story on Twitter.

world’s scariest bugs

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How To Make A Light Box



As promised from my article, The Easiest Way to Make Money, I am going to show you how to make a simple photography light box. Most people will find having a  light box useful for photographing items for eBay, blogging, taking stock of their personal inventory for insurance records or to enhance their photography hobby. For my son, who made me the light box, it was originally an assignment at school. I encourage you to find the items below in your home and re-use them. If you don’t have something on the list you can improvise. For example, instead of tissue paper, use an old thin sheet that isn’t useful for bedding anymore.

What you will need:

  • A large cardboard box (mine was approx 24″x 24″ x 22″)
  • Shipping or duct Tape
  • White tissue paper or white fabric (like an old sheet)
  • X-Acto knife (a.k.a. box cutter)
  • 2 Daylight bulbs —(see tips below for specifics)
  • 2 utility lamps w/ clamp bottoms
    (we bought lights like these)
  • matte poster board or something similar that is approx twice the length of your box (needs to be able to curve without creasing)
  • pen or pencil
  • right angle ruler or just a large ruler

supplies for a light box


The first thing you need to do is measure and mark a 2 inch border on the edges of 3 sides of the box.

light box directions

Proceed by cutting out the the marked sides with your box cutter. Be careful.

instructions for light box

Next cut off the box flaps.

box for light box

Cut your poster board to match the width of your box, but wait to cut the length. When you’re happy with the fit, insert poster board backdrop. It will stay in place due to the tight fit. If not, staple the poster board to the box. You will have a seamless background now. This sounds complicated and confusing but it’s not.

making a light box with poster board

Now tape the tissue paper to the outside of the 3 box openings. (trim to fit if needed)

tissue paper for light box

Next find some random household objects to attach your utility lights to. We used small ice buckets filled with random junk like sunblock that were laying around. Place one on each side of the box. If you happen to have a third light to use on the top of the box that would be great. It’s not necessary though. We just happened to have a ceiling one above our pool table where we set up. It worked out perfectly.


You officially have a working light box!

diy light box



  • You can use regular table lamps instead of utility lights as long as you change the bulbs out to be the right kind.Light bulbs will make all the difference with your light box color. You want clean white.  After 3 trips to Home Depot you might want to take our advice. we bought bulbs similar to these
  • Be sure the bottom surface of your objects is always clean.
  • You can change out the white poster board for black or other colors.
  • Use chairs to hold the utility lights.
  • You can move the lights closer and further to the box to adjust lightening.
  • Do not leave lights on unattended. The tissue paper can get hot!
Special thanks to my “Macgyver” son for making me this super cool light box!

Week Two: The Spending Diet

Leave It To Beaver Family

Stylebaggage contributor:Mrs. Colleen

Here’s a quick update on week 2 of the “No Spend Diet:” We are still going strong. No one has caved yet. This week our teen cleaned out his closet and took his clothing to a used clothing shop for teens and young adults. He received $55 for 15 items. Not bad, in my opinion.  He used the money to buy a t-shirt at a concert. This was acceptable according to the ‘rules’ he outlined for himself for the “No Spend Diet” because it was additional money earned this month.

I spent $52 on fresh produce and dairy this week. This is higher than last week but includes extra for a dinner party we had for 12 people. I baked a ham that was in the freezer and accompanied it with broccoli, a green salad, mashed potatoes, corn bread, and cupcakes. Entertaining on a budget is possible. Nellene will have tips for this in a future post.

I’ve determined that part of the success of this “No Spend Diet” for our family is that we are naturally homebodies. For someone who is always on the go or always eating out at restaurants, it may be more challenging. This area has probably been hardest on our teen. He has sacrificed going out with his friends. On the flip side, we’ve been able to spend more family time together. We’ve played music, board games, watched movies, and cooked together. He’s also had his friends over to do the same. As I said in my last post… PRICELESS!

The Easiest Way to Make Money

How To Make Money Easy

Don’t worry, I’m not about to encourage gambling to make a quick buck. Since this month we are on a spending diet“, I have the time to sort through my clothes and household items that I no longer want or need. I highly doubt most of you are like me: a borderline hoarder. Well, that’s what everyone tells me anyway. I am determined to get my overabundance of stuff under control. I never want to find myself on an episode of A & E’s Hoarders.

So what is my plan? It’s not a new idea, it’s simply eBay. Many people are nervous or don’t think it’s worth it, to sell things on eBay. In my personal experience, selling on eBay is the easiest and fastest way to make some money. Let me give you an example: I’ve had the dice you see pictured above sitting in a kitchen cabinet for years. A friend gave them to me, after finding them for practically nothing at a garage sale. I have a huge problem getting rid of anything that was given to me. I am sentimental to the extreme. Since I’m determined to be reasonably nostalgic, I thought I’d start small, like with these dice. They sell for over $100. My son who is cleaning through his stuff as well, found a small toy that most would people would toss out. It just sold for $120.

So this month I am earning money by not spending any and selling some of my stuff that I don’t need anymore. I encourage everyone who is on the “no spending diet” to join me. If you would like to know how to get started on eBay, here are a few articles that can help. You can find easy to follow directions on the eBay site as well.

My own eBay tips:

  • Research your item’s value. I always check completed auctions on eBay, as well, as the web.
  • Choose your words well in the title of your auction. This is how people will find what you are selling.
  • TAKE GOOD PHOTOGRAPHS and lots of them. Next week I will be posting HOW TO MAKE A LIGHT BOX for free.
  • Be honest. Let people know exactly what they are getting. Don’t hide flaws by leaving them out of your description. You’re allowed 12 free photos per auction, so show plenty of pictures.
  • Answer questions promptly. You can do this easily with the eBay app.
  • I only take Paypal in the United States.
  • Have your auction end on a Sunday. There is a feature on eBay that allows you to customize this.
  • Pack your items well. Leave a little personalized thank you note in your box as well. I think this goes a long way.

Week One: The Spending Diet


the spending diet week one

Stylebaggage contributor:Mrs. Colleen

My family decided to do the “Spending Diet” because we are thinking about moving and thought it would be the perfect opportunity to empty our freezers and pantry, in addition to clearing out the other items we’ve slowly stockpiled. (Seriously, I have three months worth of toilet paper.) My hoarding tendencies have made this spending challenge very easy for us. I only had to spend $26 of my $50 budget this week for fresh fruit, vegetables, and dairy products. The other helpful key in this challenge is to meal plan. After doing an inventory of my freezer and pantry, I made a two week meal plan. Surprisingly, this has been our teenager’s favorite part. He enjoys knowing what to expect for dinner in advance.

Speaking of our teen, he has also jumped on board for the ‘diet.’ He wants to purchase a big ticket item next month and so this is giving him the opportunity to save up. He agrees that this first week has been very easy.

We had a special occasion this past weekend and under normal circumstances, I would have been tempted to buy a new outfit. But since I couldn’t, I picked out one of my favorite dresses to wear. I also jazzed myself up by wearing a little more make-up than usual. (Which for me, is pretty much none.) Not wearing something new did not affect my confidence or the enjoyment I experienced at the event. And I even got complimented on my appearance by friends who’ve seen me wear ‘this ol’ thing’ plenty of times.

We returned from a camping trip the night before the start of the “Spending Diet.” Our car was filthy and I really wanted to take it to a car wash but a car wash does not fall into the necessity category. Ironically, washing my car at home is actually more expensive, time consuming, and wasteful for me to do on my own but I wanted to stick to the challenge. My teen lent a hand and we were able to get the car back to its shining glory in no time. Would I still prefer to take it to a car wash? Yes. But at risk of sounding like a Mastercard commercial…. washing the car with my son and getting to squirt him with the hose…was PRICELESS!

I can’t wait to see what challenges week two brings.

Ready? Set. Save!

benjamin franklin quote

Are you ready for the spending diet?

  • Have your rules list completed and posted in a convenient spot.
  • Write your goal(s) on a separate piece of paper and place them in several areas for motivation to not cheat.  Perhaps by your computer, bathroom mirror, car dash, inside your wallet or purse, etc…(Similar to posting a photo of yourself if you were on a food diet.)
  • Get your mind ready. Focus on the good that will come from this experience rather than what you’ll be missing.  For example don’t be sad you won’t be getting your $5 Latte every morning from Starbucks. Think of the money you will save, the extra time you will gain by not having to leave earlier to go to Starbucks before work. (set your coffee timer the night before so it’s brewed when you get up) 20 minutes of extra sleep everyday sounds great to me!
  • Splurge on something. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t scarf down 2 brownies and a gallon of ice cream the night before they start a food diet. If it will help you mentally to prepare for the money diet, splurge the day before. I myself will probably get a pedicure. Perhaps you’ll go to a movie or out for sushi. You get the idea.
  • Spread the word. Letting your family and close friends know your plan will help. This way they will be supportive and not tempt you with invitations to go out to dinner, shopping or activities that cost money. It was also give you an accountability that comes along with it.

Rules on my list you may have not considered:

  1. I have a stack of gift cards that I will allow myself to use. With so many establishments going out of business, I don’t want any of them to go to waste. (I’ve already had a few go under) I won’t spend gift cash though.
  2. Don’t be a mooch. I’m not allowing myself to say I can’t spend any money, but if you want to treat me then I can go. Not allowed.
  3. Trading items and services is allowed. For example I may make salsa for my sister in exchange for her cookie dough. If I need a light bulb and she needs some batteries we can trade.
  4. I’m allowing myself to entertain people with a potluck. Whatever I make will come out of my grocery budget.
  5. I contemplated allowing myself to earn money on E-bay or Craigslist and spend it. I have decided against spending even extra money earned. However, it gave me the idea to sell the stuff  and save the money to use for next month!
  6. I am self-employed and will not put my business at risk with my no spending month. I don’t plan on taking a diet from common sense.


Ready? Set. Save!




The Spending Diet


The spending diet

Are you ready for an exciting challenge? One that will test your self-control, help the environment, save you priceless time, help you reduce debt or put some extra cash in your pocket? Simply put, I will not be spending any money on non-essentials for the month of October. I decided to post this ahead to give you time to prepare if you dare join me on my adventure. You can depend on me for support next month as I post articles to keep us all going. Please don’t forget to share your questions, comments and progress. Thank you!


*How to do a Spending Diet:

1. Make list of your NEEDS. That would include items such as:

  • mortgage/rent
  • utilities
  • phone
  • insurance
  • car payment
  • gas
  • utilities
  • gym membership (we want to save money but health is more important)
  • food (decide on a strict budget & stick to it)
  • sundries related to personal hygiene such as toilet paper
  • business related items such as batteries or stamps

2. Look at your NEEDS list and see where you can cut back or reduce. Examples: Reduce phone data plan or cut grocery budget.

3. Make a list of things you will NOT be spending money on. That would include items such as:

  • coffee anywhere but home (no Starbucks unless it’s the free cup you get when you turn in your empty coffee bean bag)
  • clothes/shoes/jewelry
  • household items of any kind (if a light bulb goes out, switch it with another)
  • decorative items
  • garden or yard
  • gifts (re-gift or get creative and make them something)
  • make-up or hair products other than shampoo
  • movies/entertainment/i-tunes/paid apps
  • eating out
  • travel
  • hobbies
  • sports (golf, sorry hubby)
  • manicures or pedis
  • groupons or on-line pay ahead coupons

4. Stop spending money unless it’s on the predetermined NEEDS list. You might decide to make the exception with an emergency situation. If you get a flat tire, you will need to spend money on a new tire.

5. Make a goal. I think this is essential to being successful on your no spending diet. When it’s all you can do not go out for sushi,  you can focus on that trip to Maui, how you’ve been a little greener for the community by using what you have on hand and wasting less, the large donation you’ll be able to make to your favorite charity or family in need next month, paying double on debts, the good example your setting for your children, the support you’re giving to your friend by doing this with them, etc… If we have a clear reason for doing this, we will succeed!

*These rules are just to give you an idea of how this all works. Your lists may vary depending on your personal circumstances.


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