Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Thirty Day Review and Chocolate

My fitness tracker tells me I have been logging in for thirty days.  Thirty days? THIRTY DAYS!!

I have followed my new years goals for thirty days. If I can for a moment to be very proud of myself.

On one hand it seems like I have been doing this forever. But on the other hand, it has been only thirty days.

Here is a brief summary into my first thirty days:
1. I have used the fitness tracker every single day.
2. I have only eaten out three times this past month. (Twice more than we aimed for but we did make a good choices...Subway).
3. We have been preparing meals at home on the weekend and eating them throughout the week.
4. Exercise. Yes I have been doing it. I was following the six days a week goal until last week. I am finding myself sacrificing the exercise in order to get ready for The Boy's party.
5. I have lost over 10 pounds.
6. I have lowered my BMI by two points.
7.My house has stayed relatively clean. You could drop by and I would not be embarrassed.

I am happy to report that The Husband is also doing very well. He ate out four times this month. He has lost 20 pounds in the past thirty days.  He is also following an exercise program. We have found this blog called SkinnyTaste.com. I highly recommend this blog! The writer is a weight watchers member and creates some of the yummiest foods I have ever encountered! In the past thirty days, I have not felt like I am dieting or starving myself.

I do not feel any significant need to change up the goals at this point.

I did get a little frustrated during my third week. I only lost 1/2 pound. I honestly think it is because I was eating too few calories when you factored in my exercise. I know this might be considered to be stinky thinking but this week, the week I have not exercised, I have been in my calorie guidelines and lost two pounds.

I have avoided baking this month. Baking is my weakness. But I am finding myself needing to do some baking to get ready for The Boys birthday party. I spent tonight working with chocolate. Lots and lots of chocolate. I made the toppers for the Super Bowl Cupcakes and the Oreo Truffles. I still have cupcakes and buttercream frosting to make. Pray for me! I might need it!!

Friday, January 27, 2012

The 2012 Academy Award Nominations and Movie Review

Have I told you all how much I love the Oscars?

Well.... I LOVE THEM!

In the middle of all the birthday excitement this week, I almost forgot it was nomination day! Thankfully I have some good friends who reminded me! {You know who else forgot? My BFF!!}

Let me give you some history:

Way back in 1998 I remember watching The Academy Awards ceremony and for the first time ever, I had actually seen several of the movies nominated. So had my BFF. I remember us saying to each other that the show was not so boring to watch when you actually knew something about what they were talking about.

An idea was born. Right then and there. We made a decision to see as many of nominated movies as we could each and every year.  Well, then we got confident and we started guessing out of all the movies out there, which ones did we think had a chance to be nominated. It changed our moving watching habits. {Well, mine anyways!} I had children and sneaking off to see a movie was like gold. So, no longer would I watch a movie that did not have any hope of being nominated. {YES, that makes me a movie snob!!}

This is our 14th year. You would think we would not forget the nomination day, but I got distracted with The Boy's birthday {another interesting side note: Being home on maternity leave was the reason I started watching so many movies in the first place!} and the BFF, well she is busy getting ready to have her own first baby. So, yeah, the morning slipped passed us unnoticed.

There are 9 nominations for Best Picture this year. I have seen three of them.

  • The Artist
  • The Descendants
  • Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
  • The Help
  • Hugo
  • Midnight in Paris
  • Moneyball
  • The Tree of Life
  • War Horse
I can't offer you any insights into movies I think got robbed or movies that do not deserve to be in the mix. I have not been a good movie watcher this year. I can tell you I am excited to see Melissa McCarthy from Bridesmaids on the list! I am also glad to see Michelle Williams back again this year with another nomination. And I always love a George Clooney movie! I am not happy that I have to watch a documentary on Sarah Palin, but I guess I will for the sake of Oscar. 

I am also happy to report that many of the movies nominated are on DVD and can be watched from the comfort of your own home. I stopped by the movie store on the way home and picked up a few. Can you guess what I will be doing this weekend?

A WEEKLY REVIEW: By no means am I a movie critic. But I will try and give you my take on the nominations each week. 

Let's start with: Midnight in Paris. Available on DVD. Nominated for: Best Picture, Art Direction, Best Director (Woody Allen), and Original Screenplay. 

                                                    Midnight in Paris Poster

I just watched this movie on DVD last weekend. I really did not know what to expect. I am an "on-the-fence" Woody Allen fan; sometimes I love him and other times I am not sure. {I also have a lot of personal issues with his personal love life and that might interfere with my opinion of him.}  But, I thought this movie screamed Oscar so I watched. And I am so glad I did. Fun story of a writer (Owen Wilson) who is visiting Paris with his fiance (Rachel McAdams). It becomes apparent to everyone but the main character that his fiance is not right for him. Instead of acknowledging this, he walked the streets of Paris at Midnight and finds a time warp to Paris of days gone by and runs into great artist of our past. What can I say? I loved the characters. I loved the setting. I loved the ending. Is this a Best Picture type movie. I do not think so. But, I would not count Woody out for a chance at the Oscar on Writing or even Directing. 

Moneyball. Nominated for: Best Picture, Actor in a Leading Role (Brad Pitt), Actor in a Supporting Role (Jonah Hill), Film Editing, Sound Mixing, Adapted Screenplay.

The Boy had to tell me this movie was based upon real life people. {Yes, I can be a little slow!} I thought Brad Pitt plays Billy Beane, the General Manager of the Oakland A's. Jonah Hill  played a statistical genius that advised Billy Beane on how to develop the best team they could based upon statistics and not money. This movie is for the baseball lovers! Okay, it might be for the math nerds who finally get to strut their stuff too!!
I am happy that Jonah Hill finally showed us that he can play something other than an overweight stoner and I enjoyed that.  And I do not know Billy Beane, or am even a fan of him but I thought Brad Pitt was amazing  in this movie. Without seeing the other Best Actor in a Leading Role movies, I would say he has a shot at the Oscar.

                                           The Help Poster

The Help. Nominated for: Best Picture, Actress in a Leading Role (Viola Davis), Actress in a Supporting Role (Jessica Chastain and Octavia Spencer).

Let me start off by saying, I loved this book and anytime a movie follows a book, I normally do not like the movie. So, with that I did not rush out and see this movie. I watched it over the Christmas break with Miss Medical Student while we were baking. And I loved it. 

No, it does not follow the movie exactly. But it honored the spirit of the book and that was enough to satisfy my soul. I thought Viola Davis was amazing  as Aibileen Clark.  I also think the two actresses who are up for Supporting Actress did a great job as well.  I do not know how this movie will fair in the race for Oscar but I can tell you this...There will be a Minnie's Chocolate Pie on our menu for our Oscar Night dinner!

Please, as always, feel free to leave me a note and let me know how you liked these three movies!

Happy Movie Watching!

The Boy is 15

The little boy I have been driving all over is old enough to obtain a driver's permit. He is almost old enough to drive himself to practice, or to the game, or to the movies. Almost. But not quite yet. When I think of him actually driving a car, panic sets in! He might be ready, but I know I am not.

We have not been eating out {yes, we have stuck with that goal} so our one eat out this month was to his choice. He had a lot of deciding where he wanted his birthday dinner to be. At first he selected Jimmy John's. I thought The Husband was going to explode! He had been anxiously awaiting his one meal out for the month and he absolutely did not want to waste it on Jimmy Johns!

In the end, he selected our favorite Japanese Sushi/Steakhouse. From the moment we set down and the chef started his first "fire" The Short Chic was engaged in the process. It was the first time The Short Chic was introduced to chop sticks. She loved them. She got so much pleasure out of picking up the smallest piece of food with her Chop Sticks. But in the end...she just slurped up those noodles in the way that was most fun!

She was much more prepared for the second fire of the night. The first one, she literally jumped out of her skin!

I normally get up and make him a large breakfast on the morning of his birthday but this year he is in high school and he has to leave our home by 6:45 a.m. No way could I get myself up and productive early enough to accomplish that. And since we already had our one eat out the night before, he had to settle for birthday Corn Flakes! {I provided him with "real" milk, none of that skim milk stuff for him!}
He was well supported at his game that night. His sister and I were there. Along with his father and brother.  As well as his Aunt and two cousins. We would have all liked a win but instead he got balloons and a slice of apple pie. {How does a child of mine NOT like cake?}

In the mean time, preparations keep happening at the house for his big birthday party which is on Super Bowl Sunday. Last night I finished up two more projects, banners. They are already hanging up in the house.  The one below is a generic Super Bowl banner made with greens and black. It is hanging right above the TV.
 I used 12x12 printed paper, black, green, light brown, dark brown, and white cardstock. I cut the shapes out with my cricut and tied it all together with ribbon. All the while, The Husband is shaking his head at me and saying, "They are 15 year old boys, they are not going to be looking at the decorations."  Even if they don't; I am.

The other project I have finished is the mantel banner. Here I used blue, red, and white cardstock and made mini 3 inch pennant flags and helmets in the team colors. This year that is pretty easy as both team colors are red, white and blue. The mantel is not 100% finished yet but I am getting closer.

9 days until kickoff! My house will be a buzz this weekend getting things ready.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Super Bowl Preparations

Today is one of my deadlines.

Since today is the day of the AFC and NFC Championships, I have given myself the mental due date to which all crafts that are not team specific must be completed. I am making a goal post out of PVC pipe and I made these cute little treat pouches from paper. I am kicking around the idea of a banner made of paper footballs. 

After today, I will be making decorations that are team specific.

I woke up this morning and started making these cute little football treat pouches.

These are super easy to make and a fun way of handing out a treat (mine are filled with M & M's).

I started off with some postal wrapping paper ($5.00 from Target).

Then I drew a football shape on the paper and cut it out.

Then I used my sewing machine to sew up the edges. Be sure to leave a space to insert the goodies. After you stuff the pouch with treats, go back to the sewing machine and stitch up the space. 

I promise these take about no time at all. I made about 30 of them this morning. I am so excited about the game and it is still two weeks away!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

One Cool Gift: Birchbox

There are those people out there that are great at gift giving. I so wish I were one of them. But, sadly, I do not believe I am.

My best friend on the other hand. She is unbelievable amazing at gift giving. In fact, one of her amazing gifts is so cool that it is blog worthy!

 Let me introduce you to the Birchbox. What is Birchbox? Only one of the coolest thing in the planet. This little box comes delivered to my door every month in  a bright pink shipping box. Who can't stand a little pink in their life?

 The box is full of pinkness! And samples. And more samples! Each month you get a new assortment of samples of beauty products. I have to say, they are really decent sized samples.

My January Birchbox arrived last week. It came with a sample of CO Bigelow shampoo and conditioner.

Anti-wrinkle cream. (I so wish I did not need this one! But since I do, YEAH ME!)

 A sample of Juicy Couture perfume, a bottle of lavender Zoya fingernail polish, and a bonus sample of Baume de Rosa by Terry.

Besides of delivery of samples each month, I get the opportunity to provide feedback to the distributors and earn discounts off of full size products.

Check them out on the web at www.birchbox.com

Just in case you are wondering, no, I did not get paid for this post.

It is just an amazing cool gift from an amazing cool person and I thought I would say, Thanks Girlfriend, I love it! I would bet your girlfriends would like it too, or maybe even a subscription for yourself?

Monday, January 16, 2012

Ginger Tea

Before Jamie Lee Curtis had Activia, there was ginger.

No, not the character from Gilligan's Island. The spice. Ginger.

You have probably seen it before. It is that root looking thing you pass over in the grocery store.

When Miss Medical Student was here, she fixed me some Ginger Tea.  And I have to tell you, I did not appreciate it at first. I think we used way too much lime in it and it was a little startling. As she was making it, Miss Medical Student was rattling off the health benefits of ginger. It is an anti-inflammatory, it is good at relieving nausea, and it is good for the digestion.

But, I gave it a second whirl. Decreased the amount of lime and I found it very enjoyable. Dare I actually say....good?

I am a firm believer in the gastrointestinal benefits of ginger. Maybe more so than the yogurt.

Next time you are at the store, pick up some ginger root. Make yourself some Ginger Tea. You might find it enjoyable too.

Ginger Tea

4-6 THIN slices of ginger
1 1/2 - 2 cups of water
Lime Juice to taste
Honey or Agave Nectar

Peel the ginger and cut it into paper thin slices (doing this increases the surface area). Place the ginger in 1 1/2 - 2 cups of water in a saucepan. Heat till boiling. Boil 10 minutes (you can go longer if you want a stronger ginger taste). Add lime juice to your taste. I think I added about 1 Tablespoon. Add honey or agave nectar to taste. Sip away.

It is said that Ginger Tea helps soothe an upset tummy. So next time your children eat too many sweets, keep this natural remedy in mind.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

We All Have It In Us...

My blogging has taken a back seat to my life these past few weeks. Or at least my soon-to-be new life.

The Husband and I have made it our goal to get healthy this year. You know, eat better, exercise more, lose weight type stuff. Doing those things is time consuming. I use to spend my time doing creative things; baking, crafting, and blogging.  These days, I am on the treadmill.

The realization that I have not baked in sixteen days hit me today. My coworker had  a birthday and I did not bake cupcakes (I did buy her a cupcakes scented candle).  My niece had a birthday and I did not make a cake (Kristin, can you believe I purchased one?).  Instead, I have been counting calories, planning healthy meals, breathing heavy and sweating. YES, me. I have been sweating.

Yesterday, I was doing an endurance workout (aka one hour on the treadmill) while watching an old episode of The Biggest Loser. One of the contestants, an older man who was walking a marathon, said something that has stuck with me for the weekend. He said, "we all have it in us, sometimes we just have to dig to find it."

I am digging right now. Somewhere inside of me, is a healthy person.A person who can eat out on occasion and not on a daily basis. A person who exercises on a regular basis.  A person who knows and understands balance.  I am just in the process of digging her out.

Then I thought about this some more, an hour on the treadmill is a long time, and I thought about other things. Some very dear people in my life are struggling right now. One is having some relationship troubles, one is having financial troubles, a few are struggling with parenting, and one is struggling with depression. These friends also have it inside them. They just need to dig deep.

Life is full of adversity. But one thing I know is true, we must not give into that adversity. We must never give up. I have often thought that I would like my life to be easier. To have a better hand of cards, if you will. But I know that who I am today, is because of my life experiences.  So, to a point, I think we can expect life to give us challenges, a good curve ball every now and then.

The real challenge comes from learning how to hit that curve ball. Not letting it knock us out of the game. Just when I had almost resigned myself to believing that I will always be overweight, I dug a little deeper. I pulled out some new tools. I reworked my thinking and find myself faced with this new challenge. A challenge to over come.

So I say to my friends, to you. Honestly, we all have it in us, sometimes we just have to dig a little deeper to pull it out. What change do you need to make? How deep have you dug? Did you scratch the surface? Did you stop there because you found a layer of hard impacted dirt?  Did you expect it to be easy? It can't be. We did not get here overnight. In my case, and probably in yours, it has been a long time in the making. Those old patterns and behaviors have roots that run deep. Of course, digging past them is going to be hard. But, once we get past the hard parts, it does get easier.

We just have to keep digging.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Football's Big Day

I kept scratching my head on Saturday. Why were there NFL football games on television this past Saturday. Then my husband explained (in his how could you not know this voice), "it's the playoffs!"

The playoffs!! That means Super Bowl is right around the corner. The Boy has called dibs on Super Bowl Sunday as his official birthday party. I have been making plans for his birthday party completely ignorant to how fast it is creeping up.

So, I am wanting to hear from you. What do  you serve on Super Bowl Sunday?

I have been surfing Pinterst and came up with these ideas. What do you think?

Pinned Image
I plan to make these to put outside to welcome our guest to the party. Just waiting to see who makes it the big game.

Pinned Image

The Husband might think I am crazy but I do kinda want to grow grass as centerpieces.

Pinned Image

I like this subway art. I think I might use this.

And how about food?

Pinned Image
Bacon wrapped chicken breast

Pinned Image
Pepperoni Pizza Dip- looks cheesy and yummy! Or maybe a buffalo chicken dip. Or spinach artichoke dip?

Pinned Image
I wonder if I can execute making these. The Boy loves chocolate covered strawberries!
Pinned Image
I think my diet is in serious jeopardy!

Thank you Pinterest! You sure have made planning my annual Super Bowl/Birthday Bash so much easier!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

My Cooking Marathon

When I decided to eat better, I started pouring through lots of old clippings I had of recipes that I would try if I ever decided to eat healthy. Next, I started looking through some of my favorite web sites.  Within an hour or so, I had a pile of maybe 15 dishes that looked good to me. But I am sure you Wives and Mommies out there know there is a huge difference between what looks good to us and what our husbands and kids will eat.

Friday night I sat down with The Husband and had him look through my suggestions. I have to tell you all, for the first time ever, he is actually invested in this process, so he actually read through them and selected seven of them. We then created a shopping list and a menu for the upcoming week based on those seven recipes.

What's for dinner? Well, at my house this week, here is what's up!

Skinny Barbecue Sloppy Joe's {recipe from SkinnyKitchen.com}
Mediterranean Fish Fillet Packets {Weight Watchers recipe}
Pasta Fagioli Soup {SkinnyKitchen.com}
Roasted Turkey Breast {SkinnyKitchen.com}
Stuffed Pepperoni Pizza Melt {SkinnyKitchen.com}
Low-fat Chocolate Chip Muffins {Weight Watchers recipe}
Taco Salad {Get Fit On Route 66 recipe}
Lasagne 'Ole! {SkinnyKitchen.com}
Coq au Vin {SkinnyKitchen.com}

(can you tell how much I love SkinnyKitchen.com???)

While I was out grocery shopping, I picked myself up a few extra large sized plastic containers for storing the cooked food in.

I got home from the store and started cooking.

I cooked one thing at a time (The wonderful Husband did the dishes in-between each dish!).

The Roasted Turkey Breast was prepared in the crock pot so it went on quickly and easily. It was the first thing on and the last thing off. For the first time in my life, I removed the skin off of poultry before I cooked it. {I am a country girl and I love the skin!} One serving of the turkey has 221 calories, 1 gram of fat, and 44 grams of protein. This week, I just need to add a side dish and dinner is served.

 Next, I made up the Coq au Vin. I have never attempted any type of French cooking in my life and I have to say, this recipe was very easy!

This is a lighten version, per serving it  has 234 calories and only 3 games of fat. After I cooked it, I let it cool slightly and then put it in the freezer. I know I am going to make some lightened mash potatoes and have a comfort food dish this week!

The Pasta Fagioli

I love going to Olive Garden and getting their Soup and Salad. So when I saw this recipe, I knew I wanted to have it for dinner. The Husband was my stumbling block as he hates soup. But, he actually approved this one!  This soup took a lot of prep work; cutting, cutting, cutting. The rest was super easy. Just add it to the pot and let it simmer. And should I tell you how much soup it made? A lot! How good for you is it? It is made with ground turkey, beans and veggies. 156 calories, 2 grams of fat, and 6 grams of fiber per serving. We will be having it for dinner and lunch as I froze up some individual serving sizes as well as a family size.

The next dish was the Lasagna 'Ole! My family loves Mexican food. We can eat it every day of the week. So, I am hoping this dish delivers us happiness. I did not take any photos of it, I will when we eat it but it is a layer of corn tortilla, refried beans, corn tortilla, a mixture cottage cheese/green chilies/chicken, a layer of corn tortilla, then salsa and cheese. This dish has the most calories per serving but we are gonna splurge.  Per serving the breakdown 359 calories, 5 grams of fat, 47 carbs, and 7 grams of fiber.

While I was finishing up all of that, The Husband made dinner for us last night. We had the Skinny Barbecue Sloppy Joes. I am not sure if this recipe cured any hankering one will have for sloppy joes but it definitely addressed any craving I had for barbecue. If you make this, please know prior to simmering it, it is really  runny. However, as it simmers, that cooks down and it is perfect.

There were three meals I did not prep in advanced. The one we had tonight: Mediterranean Fish Packets, The Taco Salad, and the Stuffed Pepperoni Pizza Melt. The last two of those three are easy quick fixes. Perfect for a busy night after work.

As I just said, we had the fish packets tonight. Fish is a funny thing in our house. Sometimes my husband likes it and other times he does not. Maybe it was because he was starving after spending an entire hour on the treadmill or he really liked it because he devoured them! This is an old Weight Watchers Recipe, so I am going to post the recipe here for you to try.

This recipe serves 2 people:

8 ounces fish fillet (the recipe called for Snapper, I used Swai)
6 medium cherry tomatoe(es), quartered
4 large black olives, pitted and halved
1/2 cup canned artichoke hearts, without oil, drained, and quartered
1 medium garlic clove, slivered
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Tear off a 12-inch long piece of aluminum foil and place it on your work surface; lay a 12-inch piece of parchment paper on top. Place one fish fillet in the center of the paper; top with half the cherry tomatoes, olives, artichoke hearts, and garlic. Add half the lemon juice, oregano, thyme, salt and pepper.

Bring the two long sides of the paper and foil together over the fillet; fold and crimp closed, using the foil to crinkle the parchment paper closed. Crinkle the ends closed and fold underneath. Make sure the packet is completely sealed with no leaks or holes.

Repeat the steps with the other fillet.

Transfer both packets to a large baking sheet. Bake until hot and steaming, about 15 minutes (this took a little longer in my oven). Cool on the baking sheet 5 minutes before using a large spatula to transfer each packet to an individual serving plate. When serving, open carefully to avoid a burn from the steam inside; you can eat the fish and veggies right out of the paper packets.

I started cooking around 3 p.m. yesterday. It took me about 5 hours to make the five dishes and get them safely in the freezer. I had a few leftover ingredients (leftover chicken) that will make good lunches this week. I am so far pleased with this process and look forward to my cooking day next week.

The key {at least for me} to healthy cooking/eating is preparation!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

New Year's Resolution

I do not perform well to pressure. So making new year's resolutions on New Year's Eve never works for me. I like a few days to mull it over. Think about it. Get it right.

I have spent some time thinking about my goals in the past few days.

Goal #1:  Better Eating Habits

My family is famous for eating out. I am embarrassed to admit out loud how many times a week we (all of us or parts) will eat at a fast food restaurant. We go to the grocery store, purchase food, and then never make a plan for meals. Then we find ourselves rushed or hungry and there we are...right back at a restaurant.

So my steps under Goal #1:
1. Plan a weekly menu.
2. Spend time on Saturday/Sunday preparing 7 meals to have in the freezer. That way we can just pull a completed meal out, reheat it, and eat at home.
3. Plan to eat out only ONCE a month.
4. Pack a lunch every day.
5. Learn and practice portion control.
6. If I can't wash it, I should not eat it. Which means I am going to have to curb my baking habits. Maybe I will only bake for others.
7. Clean out the cupboards and fridge. Get rid of those things that we should not be eating.
8. Use a food tracker to monitor what I am eating.

Goal #2: More Activity

We are not active people. We come home, put our jammies on and sit on the coach. A week or so before Christmas we were shopping at Nebraska Furniture Mart and decided to purchase ourselves a treadmill. My husband summed it up well when he said he is tired of watching The Biggest Loser from the coach. It is time to watch it from the treadmill. Well, a few days before New Year's Eve, they delivered the treadmill.

So my steps for this goal:
1. Get on that treadmill and walk 6 out of 7 days.
2. Walk at least 20 minutes a day.

Goal #3: Organize and Clean The  House

Housework is the second thing I will ignore for "fun" stuff (exercise is the first). I would rather watch TV or craft than clean! Then we invite someone over and we clean like mad. I like the feeling I have when the place is clean and organized. It is my goal to have that year round.

My steps under this goal:
1. Develop a cleaning schedule that everyone in the family participates in.
2. Select an area each week and go through it.
3. Eliminate possessions that we are not using/have not used/or are not needed.
4. Decrease spur of the moment purchases.

There you have it. Not sure if this is a completed list or not. I still have a few more things rattling around in my head that might end up in formal goal statements.

Happy New Year! And best of luck to you on your new year's goals.