Tuesday, July 16, 2013

On Going Primal...

Well folks...I'm going Primal.  What is Primal?  Well, from the research I've done, my loose definition would be that it's a slightly looser Paleo.  Paleo people can sometimes be pretty hard core (at least the ones I've encountered).  However, that wasn't my reasoning behind not going Paleo.  In all honesty, they're pretty darn close to each other.  They are like the cousins that grew up living so close to each other that they end up more like siblings.  The main difference I found was that Primal seemed to be a little more understanding of what modern society has to offer and looked at a more holistic approach.  Primal also was not quite as "you may only eat these foods or you'll die!" as Paleo seemed to be.  Yes, I am over exaggerating alot a little.

Technically it's the Primal Blueprint (PB for short).  But when I say "I'm going PB" I think of peanut butter...which leads to all sorts of cravings.  Hence "Primal"...but it kind of sounds bad-ass.

80/20 Principle

What drew me to this was Mark's philosophy...."The Primal Blueprint, as we say, is all about Primal living. Living. Enjoying. Even chilling out. This is not a lab controlled experiment or a boot camp. No interns in white coats with clip boards will show up at your door or spy on you. No screaming sergeants will get in your face."  Let's be honest, with everything going on in my life, I could use some help chilling out.  Sometimes I could use alot of help!  What I don't need is an insane "diet" that will add stress or have me all paranoid about failing.  Enter the 80/20 Principle which outlines that you always want to shoot and plan for going 100%, but understands life sometimes gets in the way.  Likewise, they aim for more of a lifelong change rather than temporary cosmetic fix (like many "diets").  That, among many other reasons, is why I don't even call it a diet.  It's not.  It's cleaner eating.  It takes into consideration life and that a cheat meal every so often is not, in fact, going to kill you.  How many is probably dependant on what your personal goals are.  I read one case study who said she abided by the 80/20...and when that 20 included a cheat meal, she just made sure she enjoyed the hell out of every bite!  


This one is a tough one for me.  Paleo is very definitively against dairy---"the cavemen didn't eat cheese".  BTW, that is the worst comeback ever...talk to me when you have something more than a tagline.  Anyyyyyway.  I like my dairy; I have no digestive issues with dairy.  Therefore, I was not willing to cut it all out 100%.  Why?  I looked and still didn't find any real reason other than people that threw out that tagline or had digestive issues.  Again, this is why I like Primal; Dairy is put in a grey area.  You can have it...just try to make it the best stuff you can.  This doesn't mean you have to spend $100 on cheese, but it does mean that some things are out.  All that high processed stuff??  You gots to go.  Really, who thought that those slices of american cheese were "good" for you anyway.  The less they have to do to it, the better!!  I had already made a switch to unsweetened almond milk, so that's no problem.  But I love my greek yogurt and an occasional cheese.  

My tweeks: 
  • Opt for plain greek yogurt
    • Mix in my own fruit, nuts, etc
    • Don't eat it every day
  • No junk cheese!
    • Get the good stuff and enjoy it in small quantities
    • Goat cheese, feta, a nice sharp cheddar...
    • Don't eat it every day
Mark even has dairy in some of his meal diaries, so it firmly falls into that "with moderation" category in my opinion.  The exception to all this is probably kids/babies.  I have no idea how it works or what adjustments to make, but I don't really need to know :) 

Issues on my "ToDo"

Another thing I appreciate about Primal is that it's not a "cold turkey is mandatory" thing.  Example: I can't just stop drinking diet soda.  Ummm can we say rebound migraine from hell??  So I'm weaning off it.  If there are areas you know are going to be problems, take it slow.  It's a lifestyle change, not a "lose 10 pounds in 10 days" thing.  If that's what you're looking for, you should probably go elsewhere.  Don't get me wrong, I'm planning to lose weight, but I also know that I can't have an entire week or two of my life where I'm just tired-grumpy-irritable-dizzy and have migraines.  BTW, if you've ever gone cold turkey on something, those are all things that can happen (and do).  

My first step was to identify things I knew would be issues for me and research them.  Grains and legumes are out according to Primal.  Does that mean that you can never have brown rice again?  No...but the goal is that you won't want it.  I didn't think I was too bad on grains and legumes to begin with.  BUT, once I started really looking at it, I realized how much of that was in the things I do eat.  It all has to go and I have to figure out how to replace it with something I won't feel bummed about eating.  That left me with a little apprehension (what?!?! no fruit loops ever?!?!) and a little excitement, surprisingly.  I get into moods where I like to try new foods...yes, I have to be in the right mood.  And I have some weird sense of accomplishment when I try one and I like it.  It's like I just overcame something huge!  Hey...whatever works.

Sugar is going to be tough, but I know it's necessary.  I knew that before even looking at Primal.  *sigh*.  I don't think that means I'll be one of those raving crazies who tells someone to eat a can of sardines rather than have a few skittles, but I am going to have to work on this one.  Cause gosh-darn-it do I have a sweet tooth.  Luckily for me, quality chocolate is still an OK for occasional consumption.  Score!  It's all the cookies, skittles, twizzlers, and ice cream of the world that is going to bite me in the arse.  It will definitely be a work in progress.

Who am I kidding, this whole thing is going to be a work in progress...but what lifestyle change isn't???

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Triple 'C' Cookies

Who doesn't love cookies?!?!?!  Am I right?!?  Nothing is better than a cookie that is just the right mix of soft and chewy...savory and sweet...a tasty-happy dance for your mouth...beautiful to look at...so good as soon as it hits your lips...

We're still talking about cookies by the way.  Get your head out of the gutter!

This has become one of my favorite cookie recipes and most popular with my friends.  I love it so much that I hesitated sharing it because I secretly love being the person who walks into a party and hears her friends say "OMG she brought those cookies!  Saweeeeet!"  But I'll be nice and share :)

As a side note, the original recipe was from another blog and I can't find it now to give credit.  I'm sorry!!!  I've modified it, as I do with pretty much every recipe.

What you need: 

  • 1 canister of seamless crescent roll dough
  • 1/4 cup sugar (note: I tried this with stevia, splenda, etc just because I was curious.  verdict: not as good)
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 package (8 oz.) Fat Free Cream Cheese (room temperature)
  • 1 bag of mini chocolate chips: how much you use is dependant on how much chocolate yumminess you want!
What you do: 
  1. Layout a layer of saran wrap on  your counter that is a good 6 inches longer than what your crescent roll dough is going to be.  Spray a little Pam or something on there so nothing sticks.
  2. Spread out your dough.  Don't make it hard...just open it up and unroll.
  3. In a bowl, mix your cream cheese, vanilla and sugar until it's all nice and creamy.  I don't need a hand mixer for this, btw.  Just a good spoon or scraper works fine.
  4. Spread your mixture out over your dough.  This isn't going to be the easiest thing ever because they're both a little sticky, but just do your best to get it even and as close to the edges as possible.
  5. Now that you have your dough and layer or cream cheese mixture, sprinkle those lovely mini chips all over in a single layer.  How many you use is up to  you.  I love chocolate, so I use alot...like at least half the bag.
  6. Start at one end of the roll and start rolling it up.  You'll want to get it a little tight at first, but after you get it started it will just naturally even out.
  7. Wrap your roll up in that saran wrap, twist the ends, and pop it in the fridge for a good 60 minutes to harden it a little.  If you're shorter on time, you can put it in the freezer for a few minutes.  Keep an eye on it in there, however, because you don't want it to form crystals!!
  8. Preheat oven to 350.
  9. Pull your roll out and slice it just like cookie dough!  I do about 1/4" thick slices.
  10. Place on cookie sheet with non-stick spray...or parchment paper...whatever your "thing" is.
  11. Bake about 10-12 minutes.  You're looking for just slightly golden.
My justification for these badboys: simple ingredients, not too shabby on the calorie side, and they stay soft!!!  Plus it's cream cheese and crescent rolls, so you can totally justify these for breakfast, right??  Well, I do...

Shared on: Buns in my Oven

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

I'm on Bloglovin Baby!!

<a href="http://www.bloglovin.com/blog/5030195/?claim=2vadtgjepy2">Follow my blog with Bloglovin</a>

With this whole ridiculous frustrating as hell annoying google reader closing deal, I decided I need to figure out an alternative.  So here goes a test...

Follow up: 5 minutes later

This is the FIRST thing I've messed with today on my blog that has actually worked!!  Praise Jebus it's about friggin' time!

Sign up was super easy AND it even took me right into importing all of my current google reader subscriptions into Bloglovin!  Double Score!!  I'll be testing more over the next days, but i'm hoping that's a good sign.  They seem pretty on top of it.

I'm digging their motto....

"Sure, there were other blog readers out there, but they were technical, boring, and cluttered with features. We wanted to build something for the rest of us. For everyone who doesn't care about the technology behind it. For everyone who just wants things to work."

Friday, March 29, 2013

Stuffed Bell Peppers

The quest to make healthy eats is a tough one...am I right??  I try to cook clean as much as possible AND make extra (because leftovers rock).  Sometimes it's dang hard though!!  Today's post is an example of my version: cooking mostly clean!  One of the things I love most about this recipe is that you can change stuff out to suit your taste...you'll see below.  I can't take credit for this recipe, as the original came from my someday sister-in-law :)  However, just like all my recipes, I modify/alter/adapt until I find the mix that is perfect for me.

What you need:

  • 4 Bell Peppers (any color)
  • 1 lb Ground Turkey (or ground beef)
  • 1 Packet Good Seasons Italian Seasoning
  • 1 Can Hunt's Diced Tomato with Roasted Garlic (or whatever kind you choose)
  • 1 Small Onion (or more if you LOVE onion) diced finely
  • Minced Garlic: I used about a tablespoon.  Adjust based on your tastes.
  • Uncle Ben's Ready Rice Whole Grain Brown (again, use whatever you want...I just like that I can pop it in the microwave and it's done)
  • Mozzarella Cheese

What you do:
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Cut the tops off your 4 peppers and discard the insides (all the white stuff).  Fit the 4 peppers in a baking dish.  I like to use one with higher sides because the peppers get heavy and sometimes want to tip.
  3. In a skillet, heat some EVOO and start to saute your onions and garlic.  Do this only until they're softened.
  4. Add your ground turkey and brown.  After it's browned, I usually try to drain off whatever grease I can.  Call me crazy or picky...but it's what I do.  
  5. Turn down your heat and add the Good Seasons.  Mix well and let this simmer for just a few minutes.
  6. Open up your diced tomatoes.  Again, I like to drain of the extra liquid...I just don't like liquidy food.  Add your diced tomatoes to your skillet and mix well.  Simmer for about 5 minutes on low heat.
  7. Get a big bowl and mix your skillet concoction and cooked brown rice well.  With a spoon, add your mixture to your hollowed out peppers.
  8. After filled, put a sheet of foil loosely over the top and cook for 30 minutes in your oven.  
  9. Take out, add mozzarella cheese to your heart's desire and stick back in the oven for a few minutes until it's all melty and delicious.
  10. Eat and enjoy (after it cools)
You can also do this recipe on the grill.  Seriously.  I tried it this summer.  I used a cookie sheet as a surface and kind of propped the peppers against each other for support.  I think it only took about 15 minutes on the grill...so BONUS!!!

Don't veggies look pretty???

Turkey is just as good as beef!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Crunchy, Non-Fried, Onion Rings

Onion Rings and I have a love-hate relationship.  I love the taste...the crunch...the dippability!!  I hate the frying and all the fatty fat that comes with it.  Yuck!!

A few years ago, I created this recipe based trial and error.  They're tasty, zesty, crunchy, dippable, easy and *shock and awe* NOT fried.  Yes, they can be just as crispy...the trick is just doing them correctly!  I'm not sure what the calorie count would be on these, but you can see from the ingredients below that it is very simple.  The worst ingredient is probably the breadcrumbs, and you can go lowfat on those.

For this round, I decided to go with onion chunks rather than onion rings only because you can do more than one at a time in the dipping process...and I was super hungry :)  Onion rings just take a smidge longer.

What you need:

  • 2 peeled onions
  • 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 2-3 egg whites (only the whites!)
  • 3/4 cup breadcrumbs (I used lowfat)
  • 2+ teaspoons italian seasoning
  • 1+ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1+ teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
What you do:
  1. Peel then cut your onion rings (or chunks)
  2. Spray a baking sheet with evoo cooking spray and preheat oven to 425 degrees
  3. Mix your breadcrumbs, italian seasoning, garlic powder, onion powder and garlic salt in a bowl
  4. Place your flour and egg whites in two separate bowls...so you'll have 3 shallow bowls--flour, egg white, breadcrumb mix
  5. Now you go down the line! Dredge in flour...dip in egg white...douse in breadcrumb mix
  6. Place on baking sheet evenly spaced out.  This is the time to add a little extra sprinkling of seasoning if you want.  I always add extra italian seasoning!
  7. Bake for about 15 minutes, give or take.  Watch these guys because it really depends on the thickness.  They're done when the edges start to look a little darker brown.  Feel free to snatch one and give it a taste test if you're not sure!!
That's it!!! Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy!!  Crunchy, non-fried, onion rings in the comfort of your home!

Shared on: Jam Hands

Bacon Wrapped Garlic Pork Chops

I'll be honest, I haven't cooked a pork chop in probably 5+ years.  For some reason though, they sounded amazing this past weekend!  So with permission from the htb, I decided to go for it.  I found some inspiration from a few different recipes and melded them together to put my own spin on them.  I give you...

Bacon Wrapped Garlic Pork Chops

I like mine with a little carmelization :)

What you need:

  • 2 thick boneless pork chops
  • 4 slices of bacon (at least)
  • 1 cloves or garlic (or more depending on your garlic love)
  • EVOO
  • Red Pepper flakes (to taste)
  • Salt & Pepper (to taste)
What you do:
  1. Preheat your skillet or grill to medium-high heat so it's good and hot.
  2. Pat the pork chops down and add salt & pepper to taste.
  3. Wrap at least 2 pieces of bacon around each pork chop.  Add more if you have big pork chops...or really like bacon.
  4. Drizzle EVOO in your pan and place the pork chops.  You might want to cover with a splatter guard if you're doing it on your house!
  5. Cook on one side for about 8 minutes (depending on thickness) and then about the same on the other.  If you have a meat thermometer, you can check them.  I pulled mine off at about 140 degrees, but I wanted some carmelization (see above).
  6. As your chops are cooking, mix some EVOO (1/4 cup) with your minced garlic.  Add this as a sauce JUST after you take your chops off the heat.
  7. Add red pepper flakes if desired.
These were waaaaay easier than I thought they'd be, btw.  Total time (prep+cooking) was about 20 minutes.   Easy.  Seriously.  And TASTY!!  Dang I love bacon...

Thursday, March 21, 2013

DIY Update a Light Fixture with Spray Paint

Are you one of those super duper lucky individuals who has an ugly outdated light fixture?  I was.  My house was blessed with alot of ceiling fans (BONUS)...but those ceiling fans were not blessed with style.  To be honest, when I moved in 6 years ago, that was one of the first things I set out to do...update!  I'm only the 2nd owner of the home, which was built in 2000.  So you'd think that fixtures and finishes would be more modern...but you'd be wrong.  Anyway, it was a work in progress, but I digress...

Final Product in all it's Satin Nickel glory.
Here's what I started with - ugly bronze.  Yuck.
Updating your light fixtures is actually not nearly as complicated as I would have thought it to be.  It's certainly cheaper than buying new!!  (Ceiling fans are expensive).  And what a difference it can make!!!  See above.

Since my ceiling fans are high and won't be touched, I chose to go the even easier route which cut out the sanding step.  Sanding helps remove the finish on the existing fixtures and allows the spray paint to adhere better.  I did a test on a spare fixture with the same ugly bronze finish and loved how it turned out--so I went for it!!

What you need:

  • Tools.  You'll probably only need a screw driver though.
  • Newspaper or something to layout your pieces
  • Painters tape
  • Spray Paint of choice: I used Krylon Satin Nickel
  • Optional: Sand paper

What you do:
  1. Flip your breaker!!!  EMPHASIZE---Electrical shock is no laughing matter.
  2. Remove your fixtures.  If you're doing a ceiling fan, I recommend an extra set of hands.  (Thank you to my awesome fiance!!)  You might not need it for a simple light fixture though.  Note: this was the hardest part for us.  My ceiling fans were a bit complicated to get down.  Still worth it!
  3. Optional Step: Lightly sand your pieces.
  4. Layout your pieces leaving enough room around them to access all sides.
  5. Tape any electrical components, motors, etc.  Paint on those guys = bad.
  6. Spray!!!  Tip: it is 300% better to do many light coats than a few heavy coats.  You will regret it.  I promise.  Follow the directions on the can and do short bursts keeping your hand moving.  Think a "swoosh...swoosh" type of movement.  Go ahead and make the sound if it helps...I did :)
  7. Let dry.  I let them sit for an hour between coats in my garage, which was about 60 degrees that day.
  8. Re-assemble your fixture and put it back up!!
2 Ceiling Fans = Lots of Space
Scrap wood makes a great lift.
More scrap wood assistance
Electrical tape!

Do as many coats as you feel is necessary (I think I did 4 coats).  Keep your hands off them...fingerprints suck.  If you need to flip them over to do the other side, make sure you let it dry extra long before you do!!!

I highly recommend doing a test piece on something (maybe a spare fixture or piece of it).  Not all spray paints are created equal.  Satin Nickel in one brand can look completely different in another brand.  I'm a big supporter of TEST first!

That's it kids!!!  If you want, you can add a coat of spray poly.  Like I said, my fixtures weren't going to be touched much if ever, so I skipped this step.  I didn't need the extra touch protection.  Warning: the poly will make it shiny.  

Sit back and enjoy your updated fixtures!!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Chalkboard Wine Glasses & Mugs

If you're on pinterest, then you've probably seen the whole "chalkboard" trend.  It started with mugs...then bowls...then glasses.  Originally, all I saw was a very pricey tiny bottle of chalkboard paint that you could only find on Amazon.  Frustrating.  You can make, what, 2 mugs with that??   Pssssh!

After a little blog searching, I decided to give an alternative product a try.  On a quick visit to Home Depot, I bought Rustoleum Chalkboard Paint.  I already had the proper foam brush on hand in my little craft drawer.  Boom. The hardest thing to find was probably the actual chalk!

Wine Glasses

Wine glasses were the first things I decided to try, as I had a few spares on hand.  These seemed simple enough, right?  Dip them, let them dry, and bake them.  Yeah, well not so much.  Haha.  You definitely want to wrap and protect the rest of the glass with aluminum foil AND tape the edge with painter's tape.  You can see a failed attempt when you don't use tape below ;)  That sneaky paint gets right under there!

FAIL!!!  (but easy to wipe off)

  1. Lay out your drying area.  I used parchment paper.
  2. Wrap your glasses where you don't want paint and tape the edge with painter's tape so you don't get runs.
  3. Dip! and let excess run off back into the paint can.
  4. Brush off excess from the bottom of the glass.  If the paint is too thick, it will bubble when you bake it.
  5. Flip those puppies upside down and let them dry.
  6. Just like walls, remove the tape before they are 100% dry so nothing peels.

Mugs & Miscellaneous

You can use painter's tape to section off areas you want to paint on glass or ceramic as well.  Brush the paint on with your foam brush in a decently thick coat.  You don't want to go over the same area too many times as it will start to remove the paint.  I did a mug for a friend's birthday and a candy dish for my counter top.  Easy.

Make it Stick!!

If you plant to wash these guys (so anything you're going to eat or drink from), then you'll want to bake it so it doesn't chip.  I was extremely nervous about this step and imagined my oven blowing up the pieces cracking or breaking.  In the end, it was easy also!  Go figure.
  1. Let your pieces dry COMPLETELY.  I let mine set overnight.
  2. On a baking sheet, set your pieces out so that none of them touch.
  3. Put your sheet in the oven BEFORE turning it on.  This is uber important.
  4. Turn your oven on to 350 degrees and set the timer for 30 minutes.
  5. When your timer sounds, turn off the oven but leave the pieces in there to cool.  This could take quite awhile, so don't do this if you need to be using the oven for a few hours.
That's it!  Draw on them and enjoy!  All in all, I made a set of wine glasses for my future sister-in-law, a mug for a friend, a candy dish for myself and a flower vase for a future gift.  And I still have a TON of paint leftover.  

Next step...wander around house and think "what else can I chalkboard paint?"

Shared on: Lovely Crafty Home

Friday, February 22, 2013

The "Unwich" by JJ (Jimmy John's)

This week, after a bit of convincing from a coworker, I finally gave the "Unwich" a try.  Why, you ask, was this so hard??  Well....I'm a bit of a carbaholic bread-lover.  Have you ever walked into a Jimmy John's?!?!?  It smells like heaven...

Anyway, I was hesitant and pretty sure that my "unwich" was just not going to satisfy me like my good ole #4 Turkey Tom normally would.  I looked up the nutritional info...which made my decision for me.  Say what?!?!  Under 300 calories!!  Shoot...Go For It!!

Less calories actually, because I always do E-Z mayo

Like always, Jimmy never disappoints when it comes to speed.  I swear that sucker is at my office front desk before I have a chance to go to the kitchen to get an accompanying beverage!

Here she is!  #4 Unwich
After a few bites of turkey yumminess
Eating the unwich is kind of like eating a big burrito...only more slippery delicate.  For under 300 calories though, I found it pretty dang tasty and fulfilling!  I had to grab a yogurt snack about 3 hours later, but that didn't bother me at all.


  • I found a great image online from inside a Jimmy John store that said "Don't unwrap it".  In hindsight, I think that is the BEST advice for eating this puppy...unwrap only enough to not get a mouth full of paper.
  • Do NOT order this if you're on a date or eating with someone you don't mind looking a bit sloppy in front of.  (why are you on a date at Jimmy John's??)  There is no way to eat this and look lady-like.  Period.  I'd compare it to eating ribs...
  • Add veggies.  Might as well and it gives it a little more substance!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Taxes & Tacos....oh, and Valentine's Day

Well, it's Valentine's Day...and I had a hot date with my tax professional.  Hot.  Happy Valentine's to me, right?!?!?  Well, it kind of was...I'm getting a refund, so that's awesome.  As a treat, I made a spur of the moment decision involving a hasty lane change...Taco Bell.  Tasty.

Taxes: If you can do them yourself, bravo to you.  I can't.  My stuff is more complicated than my limited very limited tax knowledge will assist me with.  Mortgages are complicated.  In my humble opinion, I'd rather pay to make sure it's done right!!  And my time (especially these days) is valuable.  I'd prefer to not spend it translating, preparing, checking, double checking, and crunching numbers.  Booooo.  I like gathering my stuff, taking it to my person and walking away with a smile an hour later :)  No worries and a guarantee.

Tacos: The new cantina things at Taco Bell....not a fan.  It was ok I guess, but not the kind of zest I was hoping for.  It ain't no Chipotle!!!  Oh well.

Valentines Day: hmmmm, well I'm getting a refund, so that's Fun #1!  And they gave me a rose as I walked out accompanied by a "Happy Valentine's Day!".  Fun #2.  Maybe I'll pick up a mini dessert when I grab my salad from Schnucks...round it out to a solid Fun #3.  Exciting, haha.

By the way, if anyone wants a referral to H&R block, let me know...it will get you a discount if you use my super secret code to hook you up :)  Who doesn't love a discount, right?

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Better Life Bags...aka My Newest Bag Obsession!!!

If you know me, then my "obsession" with bags is not news to you.  I like love them.  Period.  Purses, clutches, totes of all sizes, cross body, satchels, etc etc etc...   Before you judge, you should know that I use them all.  I cycle through whenever I'm feeling bored and this keeps me from buying new!  Smart strategy, no?

A few years ago, I started to limit my collection to what would fit into ONE storage container (the size of said storage container is private).  I also made a rule for myself that every new purchase would require at least one or more existing bags to exit the premises.  This was a little tough to get used to, but it did help me evaluate a little better.  I even installed a system so I could hang/display my favorites.  Pretty Pretty Pretty

However, as I've been purging my possessions more recently, I've parted ways with quite a few.  I plan to go through them a few more times in the next 2 months--every time gets easier and easier after all.

WITH ALL THAT SAID, I officially want one of these bags...check them out!  Better Life Bags are custom bags with a story.  Not only does she give a percentage to her community and developing entrepreneurs through kiva.com, but she hires women that couldn't otherwise work to create these awesome bags!!  That's style & charity people.

Some of my favorites are:

I'm not sure what fabrics I'd get, but these are definitely going on my list next time I'm treating myself to a new bag!!!  Or if anyone needs gift ideas....

Friday, February 8, 2013

Apple Nachos...A Friday Night Experiment

Friday night...salad...super exciting.  Yeah right. 
Soooooo in an attempt to bring a little bit of actual yumminess to an otherwise ho-hum Friday food, I created a twist on a random recipe I found online.  I bring you the most simple-yummy-can't believe this is mostly healthy-snack...ever.
What you need:
1 medium apple sliced in about 1/4" slices
1 tablespoon of natural peanut butter (I like Smuckers)
1 teaspoon of hot fudge (again...Smuckers)
1 teaspoon of caramel (and again...Smuckers)
Almond slivers and crumbles.  As many as you like!!
1.   Slice your apple.  Thinly.
2.   Throw your peanut butter, fudge and caramel in the microwave if you need to get them oohey-goohey    drizzle worthy.  Then GO TO TOWN!!!  Drizzle to your heart's content.  Add more if you want...it's dessert after all!!!
3.   Sprinkle your almond slivers and crumbles all over.  You could also add more twists such as: coconut, mini chocolate chips, other nut crumbles, or anything that sounds interesting.
Go crazy.  I'm pretty sure you can't mess this up.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The Limited FREE gift!!! (and other reasons they rock)

I left for work in a pretty great mood this morning...but then again, Wednesday mornings are often great these days!  But when I got the mail, what did I find?? A random FREE gift from The Limited!!!  woop woop! Hello even awesomer Wednesday!!  (is awesomer a word??)  Check out that cute wristlet!!  How cool am I?!?!
I've been told this "free gift" thing is something new they're trying--a reward for their loyal and repeat customers.  Yeah, I think I definitely qualify as that! haha.  More times than I can count, I've looked at myself in the mirror and thought "yup, I'm a walking Limited ad".  I've been a big fan for quite a while now, but more so in the last year and a half as I've been refining my "style".  They have so many pieces that can go from work to play AND interchange with each other.  Their sizing is pretty consistent between different styles and cuts (which makes online ordering so much easier).  I wear the same size in dress pants as I do pencil skirts!  As silly as it sounds, it's actually not that common.
They have GREAT coupons and deals, offer free tailoring, and have some pretty helpful chics working there...at least at my store they do.
Did I mention they also sent me a 40% off coupon??  Totally awesome.  I'll be going there over one of my lunches in the coming weeks!!!  Grab my best work buddy (Shan)--do some shopping--maybe grab some panda.  A pretty good little lunch break :)

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

"GIVE IT AWAY" Therapy...otherwise known as cleaning out your closet

For the entire month of January, I've been sorting through my house...room by room, stuffed closet to stuffed closet and through every hidden nook.  I'm sure most of you have been there.  If you haven't, then you've either a. never moved or b. are extremely good at being "minimal".  Don't get me wrong, I'm not a fan of clutter or holding onto things.  I grew up in that house.  Trust me, I'm not a fan.  However, after a few years of being in the same place you just, sort of, accumulate things.  After going through most areas of my house, I was totally feeling it...the therapeutic high of getting rid of junk I don't want!!!  Until I got to my closet...

I fall into your classic "but I might wear this sometime" category...or "I forgot I had this"...or, my favorite, "awww, I remember when I got this".  Yup...all crappy excuses.  Seriously ladies, if you're at all like me, we gotta cut the crap and be honest with ourselves.  There is no point in hanging on to all that stuff!  (Especially when all that stuff ends up filling a very large walk in closet).  To better tackle this task, I am choosing to break it into 3 stages.

The Strategy

  1. Quick sort: go through every piece of that closet (bags, belts, clothes, shoes, etc) at a relatively fast pace.  Make quick decisions of yes or no.  Then take the no stuff away.  My donation place of choice: Salt&Light
  2. Moderate sort: go through the remaining pieces and pull out items that do not fit.  This includes pieces that technically "fit", but just don't look right.  This probably seems like a "duh" step, right?  However, if you've lost a decent amount of weight, like myself, then it's not always so easy.  There is that weird evil voice in your head that says "you better keep that bigger size just in case".  I know, it's dumb.  But it takes awhile to beat that voice into submission...and to muster the stones to get rid of those clothes. You always end up keeping those few pieces...
    1. Sub-Step: If it doesn't fit quite right, could it be tailored?  If yes, is it WORTH tailoring?  In this age of cheap clothing, some pieces just aren't worth the $ to tailor.  Likewise, I have to really love it to go through the process of having it tailored or doing it myself.  (yes, I have a sewing machine and YES I know how to use it)
  3. Hard-core sort: go through what remains and rationalize the usefulness of each piece.  Where does it fit into my style now?  Or does it?  How often do I wear this?  Do I feel good when I wear it?  (sidenote: this can include schlumpy tshirts and sweats)  And the weird one...How many do I own that are the same or very very similar?  I used to be the girl that would find a piece that fits and buy it in every color.  I thought I was being practical, but I was left with a wardrobe that just didn't excite me.  Two in different colors=acceptable...Three or more in different colors=boring.  For me.  The exception to this is probably dress pants and button down shirts because great fitting ones are hard to find!  At least they are for this chic...
So that's the plan folks!!  I've done #1 a few times over the past 2 years, but always got stuck when I moved to #2.  I blame it on the evil voice...

All this sorting is really brought on by two factors: I need to downsize (for reasons that will remain private for now) AND I need to further define my wardrobe and "style".  I've had way too many mornings in the past that start with me standing in my closet thinking "I don't want to wear any of this".  I'd end up feeling frumpy, lumpy and dumpy...a depressing trio.  Now that I feel better about myself on a personal and physical level, those mornings have changed to an occasional "why would I wear this??".  Hence the need to further define my style as I am NOW!  It's a work in progress, but I'm giving it a violent shove into def con 5.

One last tip: just because it's on sale, doesn't mean it's a good buy!!!!!  I need this printed and laminated on a card to keep in my wallet...

Fashion Blogs  

In general, I'm not a huge fan of fashion blogs.  I find alot of them very unapproachable and unrealistic...and too "look at me, look at me".  Who changes their bag, nail polish, etc every single day??  Not this girl...no time for that of focus!  BUT, I have a found a few that I enjoy following because they are actually useful.

  • Putting Me Together  Audrey is in process of doing something similar to what I am.  She's trying to define and refine her style.  She's got some great tips on how to wear one piece many different ways, shopping tips, ideas for revamping pieces you probably already have, etc.  This particular entry on mistakes was so spot on that it had me wondering if we were somehow linked...
  • The Small Things Blog  Kate is probably one of the first blogs I followed and it all started with pinterest!  She has a style that, in my opinion, mixes pretty with casual in a very grown up way.  I can relate.  I'm 31, so I don't really want to wear things that make me look like I'm 21...been there, done that.  Likewise, I don't want to dress 41!!!  Let's not go there.  She also has some awesome hair tutorials; I've tried a few.  They're great for adding a little variety.  Who wants to look the same every day?!?!
  • Hems for Her  Katie is pretty great at addressing those feminine curves!  It can be a challenge for those of us who are, ummm, well endowed.  Belts in the wrong size or wrong spot can emphasize rather than flatter...the same goes for necklines, lengths, etc.  Alot of us just say "forget it! I can't wear belts".  Katie has some great ways to pull things together and show that you can...it's just about knowing how.
Other than that, I can officially say I'm addicted to pinterest!!  I'm a pinning machine at times :-/  BUT it is a great place to get inspirations for alot of things.  Just take my advice and don't get too set on things being perfect...they are just ideas, suggestions, etc.  Make it your own!  If you're not having fun doing it, then stop doing it!  Or at least fail so extravagantly that you can't help but laugh.

Closing thoughts

Go donate!!!  It's seriously therapeutic.  There are alot of great places out there (other than goodwill) that you can donate your items depending on what they are.

Happy sorting!!

Monday, January 14, 2013

DIY: Cork Coasters using Mod Podge

Mod Podge is all over the place these days in the DIY world!  I've used it before to seal a puzzle, but was interested in trying it for something else...maybe something slightly more useful.  With that I give you...Cork Coasters using Mod Podge!  (a tutorial so easy you can watch some crummy reality TV while doing it!)

What you'll need:

  • Cork Coasters.  You can buy these in a pack at Hobby Lobby or similar craft store.  You could also buy a chunk of cork board and cut out shapes yourself if you're feeling ambitious or especially creative!  Other options: square tiles, glass tiles, etc.  You could probably use many different things...I was just looking for something that had non-skid qualities built into it.  For things like tile, you could add felt or little rubber feet to the back.
  • Mod Podge: I picked up the gloss.
  • Xacto knife: or similar.
  • Craft Brushes
  • Cutting mat
  • Water resistant, Clear Acrylic Spray.  You can get this at the craft store also.
  • Finally...Whatever image you want on those coasters!  The person I was making these for has a thing for penguins...don't judge, it's cute.  I used an old calendar.  You could use photographs, magazines, comic books, books, craft paper, etc.  I don't know how well your typical computer printed image works, but if someone tries it, let me know!!

What you'll do:

  1. Choose your images.  Get creative and select interesting shots!  *Tip: cut the excess from around the image you want to minimize the extra paper you deal with.  
  2. Add a thin layer of your Mod Podge to the cork coaster and adhere it to the back of the image.  I held mine up to the light so I could get it exactly where I wanted it.  *A side note: you can also cut your image out before attaching.  However, I decided it would be easier to cut them out after so I could just trace the outside of the coaster.
  3. Stack them up.  Put a heavy book on top and let them dry for 15-20 minutes.
  4. Trim (if you didn't cut previously).
  5. Apply at least two more layers of Mod Podge.  Let them dry about 15 minutes between coats and make sure you hit the edges.  It dries clear, but will leave some brush marks depending on your application.  Mine curled up a little (cork if flexible!) but they flattened out on their own.  No worries.
  6. Let your final coat of Mod Podge dry for at least and hour...more if you can.  Add your clear acrylic spray.  I did 4 thin coats, making sure to hit the sides, because I wanted to be sure these bad boys were water resistant.  Let dry about 20 minutes or more between coats.  
  7. When you're 100 %, let them dry really well before using them.  I let mine sit for 12+ hours.  *A side note: as with any other wet medium, it takes longer to dry in cool or hot areas.  Adjust accordingly.

Step 1

Step 4

Step 5

The final product!  Shiny, waterproof, and cute!

 All in all, this project cost me about $12.  The Mod Podge and acrylic were the two more expensive items.  However, now that I have them, I could easily make more coasters for super cheap :)  With some parental guidance, you could do this with kids.  How cute would that be for a gift to grandparents!?!?

I also made puzzle magnets.

Get creative and see what is around your house that you could be spontaneous with!  You can use these same steps to make magnets, add images to an old tray to give it new life, a pot for interior house plants, etc.  The options extend as far as your creative mind will go!!  Have fun :)

Shared on: House of Hepworths

Friday, January 11, 2013

Rebel Experiments...take 1

Everyone loves taking pictures, right??  Of course you do...don't lie.  What varies from person to person is their choice of subject.  There are photographers that almost exclusively shoot people; likewise, there are people (like myself) that don't ever seem pleased with those pictures.  Generally speaking, I prefer my subjects to not talk back.  Being in architecture, most people would assume my subject of choice would be buildings.  Lame guess people!  More and more I find my interest lies somewhere between the macro world and the landscape world.  I fully realize this is a pretty broad range, but it really varies for me based on where I am and how I'm feeling.  Of course, right now I only do photography for myself...so who cares.  Someday I hope to branch it out, but we'll see.  As i've been told too many times to count..."you have too many hobbies".  To that I say POPPYCOCK!

As most budding photography hobbyists do, I decided I really wanted a DSLR.  That, however, was a chunk of change that I just didn't have--no way, no shape.  Lucky me (and I mean uber lucky), my beau pays attention to my many ramblings and thoughts that start with "It would be really cool if I could...".  As a side note, a man that listens AND remembers is still shocking to me.  For my birthday last year, I received my wish in the form of a Canon Rebel T3i.  He is A-mazing.  Happy Birthday to me!!!  I call her "Rebel".  Creative, right?  With just shy of a year under our "together" belts, I'm convinced now more than ever that he is my good karma reward.

For those just starting with a DSLR, here are some tips:

  1. I highly recommend the book DSLR for Dummies.  It's huge...but it explains things in a way even a beginner can understand.  AND it has pictures--bonus!
  2. Take pictures of everything!  Don't get frustrated if they aren't what you think...it's all a process of learning.
  3. Don't be scared of the different settings.  Try them all.
  4. Learn about light!!  (read the book)
  5. Buy a good bag for yourself.  After all, it's expensive equipment!  I got a Tamrac and love it.  It's the perfect size for a beginner and the sling is super convenient.
  6. Ask around.  Talk to friends that are photographers...get tips...ask questions.
  7. DON'T go crazy and buy 5 different lenses!  Holy Moly.  Get a basic 18-55mm or similar and work with that one until you understand what your camera can do AND what you want from it.
  8. Last...don't be afraid to look dumb.  No matter what, you're going to look silly squatting inches from that crazy twig...or leaning out over an outcropping of rocks to capture that water drip.  Deal with it...embrace it.

On to a series I call Rebel Experiments!  This is my version of somewhere between macro and landscape...with a few randoms thrown in either direction.

Grrrr...angry driftwood.
The best "release your frustration" tool.  Period.

Monday, January 7, 2013

I'm your huckleberry...

I have a confession...this post has nothing to do with huckleberries.  Or any type of fruit really (not that I'm even sure what a huckleberry is).  How I got to the topic of today's post is a small journey...jump aboard my  "train of thought"!!

If you can name the movie that title is from, then major points to you!!  You are officially cool.  For those not as awesome, it's from Tombstone (only my favorite depiction of Doc Holiday...ever).  Last night, while watching this movie, I was intrigued by the character of Mattie who, from what she tells her husband, suffers from migraines.  Her treatment of choice: Laudanum.  As a migraine sufferer myself, I was curious as to what this was.  According to wikipedia, "also known as Tincture of Opium, is an alcoholic herbal preparation containing approximately 10% powdered opium by weight (the equivalent of 1% morphine).[1] It is reddish-brown in colour and tastes extremely bitter. Laudanum contains almost all of the opium alkaloids, including morphine and codeine. A potent narcotic by virtue of its high morphine concentration, laudanum was historically used to treat a variety of ailments, but its principal use was as an analgesic and cough suppressant. Until the early 20th century, laudanum was sold without a prescription and was a constituent of many patent medicines."  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laudanum.  

This doesn't exactly sound like the best route to treating migraines, but then again, I don't know what options were back then.  As a migraine sufferer, I CAN say that when you have a bad one, you're willing to try just about anything.  It's rumored that, while suffering from a particularly severe migraine, Van Gogh cut off his ear in a desperate attempt at relief.  (I'm aware there are a ton of theories out there btw).  Let's just say, during some of my worst migraines, I've understood where he might have been coming from with that choice.  Desperate.  

*an odd tidbit: Van Gogh is my favorite artist and has been since grade school.  Van Gogh is a fellow migraine sufferer (which I didn't know until high school).  Many have said that if it had not been for his migraines, he would not have seen the "auras" that produced such famous paintings as Starry Night.  Ironically, this is also my favorite work of his...creepy.

Other famous sufferers: Louis Carroll (maybe the white rabbits were talking to him while recovering from a migraine), Elvis Presley (who popped alot of pills as we know), and Julius Caesar (who is noted as having epilepsy as well as migraines).

I once had a co-worker say (after I returned from a missed day of work due to a migraine), "I'm not sure if I've ever had a migraine.  Are they that bad?".  Really??  If you're "not sure", then you most certainly have not!!  You'd know.  Trust me.  For all you migraine suffers, you know exactly what I'm talking about.  And you understand how hard it was for me to not slap her right then and there...

Everyone has their own treatments and things that work.  I thought I'd share some of mine...maybe they'll be useful to someone else!  My migraines are hereditary (thanks mom & dad), but if you can figure out your triggers and learn what works for you, you're that much closer to being an "occasional sufferer" rather than "frequent sufferer".
  1. Keep a diary.  This is crucial to tracking down your triggers.  Sometimes they are weird.  One of mine is too much marinara or tomato sauce.  For ladies, it can relate to your cycle.
  2. Ice and heat.  Ice packs, hot packs, etc.  Keep them around.  Many of my headaches link to neck and shoulder pain; if I can alleviate their pain, many times the migraine will lessen it's hold on me.  Ice is great if you can tell it's swollen or inflamed.  Heat is good for relaxing.  My hot pack is one that you microwave and lay across your shoulders and upper back.  Lifesaver.
  3. Learn what medications (otc or other) work for you...or don't work for you.  It really is trial and error sometimes.  I personally have Imitrex for the really beastly ones...but I try to use ibuprofen + heat/ice + other options before I resort to Imitrex. 
  4. Caffeine.
  5. Water.
  6. De-stressing.
  7. Pressure points.  If you don't know much about them, there are some great websites!!  Go look.  I use what you see below as soon as I can feel a headache coming on that feels like "more than a headache".  My grandma showed me this when I was little.  I still use it today.  As a side note, it's not supposed to feel good...
You want to find the fleshy spot right in front of where your bones meet. 
Like I said, there are a TON of things you can do to help with migraines.  I am by no means an expert; I just know some things that work for me.  Likewise, just because you are careful or do what you need to do doesn't mean they won't happen.  Sometimes they just do...no matter what.

Do you have migraines?  If so, what do you do?

I'll close with my second favorite Doc quote..."I have not yet begun to defile myself".  Love it!!!

Friday, January 4, 2013

Bibbidi Bobbidi Booyah!!

I was trying to think of a creative title that had something to do with beads or baubles and all that kept popping into my head was this line from Big Bang Theory..."Bibbidi Bobbidi Booyah!".  That show gets me every time...and contains a surprising number of similarities to my life.  Go figure.  Anyway, back to the program...

Jewelry making is something I've been doing off and on since I was just a wee lass living in the thriving metropolis of Arrowsmith, IL (population 300 if you count dogs and cats).  Back then it was those weird fabric bands you could braid and manipulate.  They came in a big bag with enough colors to satisfy any 80s child.  I can't find an image, but I did just see a bag of them at Hobby Lobby last week...I was tempted.

After that phase, I moved onto the hemp bracelets.  I know all of you 90s kids remember this trend!  I braided, twisted, looped beads, attached baubles, integrated little bells, and even took custom orders.  Not too shabby for a junior high kid.

About two and a half years ago, I was looking for a calming activity...something to use up just enough of my mind that it distracts me, but not enough that it stresses me.  I had tried knitting in the past; it's not for me.  I decided to dip my toe back into the waters of jewelry making.  I started off slow, not wanting to throw a bunch of $$ into a hobby I didn't care for.  My first creations were some basic bracelets.  I coordinated my beads with care and thought about items in my closet I would actually wear them with because, honestly, what's the point of making it if you never wear it?  These were my first few bracelets (earrings followed months later).  Many more followed...some of them I still have while others have been gifted.   

Purple, smokey grey, and dark steel
Dark turquoise, wood and agate
This whole process spanned over months and was only "when I felt like it".  In the past year I've slowly started thinking of what else I could make or how to expand this hobby.  My supply was still limited; I bought only what I needed for a specific project.  In case you couldn't tell, I'm kinda a big fan of turquoise.  There wasn't anything out there I really liked...or if I did like it, I couldn't afford it.  As a result, I just made my own.  Below is a more recent set along with some random earrings. 

Turquoise & silver
Isn't that bead awesome?!?!
A random selection

Recently, I decided (or more accepted) that I really enjoy this!  I enjoy finding interesting pieces, coordinating parts, brainstorming what I can make, figuring out how to do it, and (obviously) wearing it!  Lucky for me, my guy relayed this information to his mom (a fellow creative soul)...who went hog-wild for Christmas picking out different pieces and parts!!!  Holy Moly!!  It's on...like donkey kong!!  What will I create next...

I've learned that I need to take better pictures of my pieces if I want to actually show them off!!  Geesh lighting!!  (no judgements please...it was late).  I have some ideas on creative ways to display them for photos...but at 11:30pm, my kitchen counter sufficed.

What kind of calming activity do you do?  (If you say meditate, I'll slap you through this computer screen).  Do you like turquoise?  If no, then why the heck not?!?!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

It's a New Year...where's my confetti??

If you look at my profile, it says I started this blog April of 2012... and I'm just now doing my first entry.  Epic FAIL of blogger proportions.  Its my first blog though...cut me some slack!
BTW, I'm starting this blog on my new nexus 7 (insert your admiration here)...thanks to a fabulous Curt Binder!!  Pretty freakin' amazing...but I'm still getting the hang of it, so please forgive any weird typos.
One off my resolutions (although I prefer to call them "goals") is to start this blog.  Let's call that check #1 off the resolution list.  BOOM.
My thought is that by listing my goals here, someone might keep me in check.  Make sense to me!  So with no further adieu...
- start my blog (check!)
- run at least 3 events
- beat my 5k personal best
- take all 6 of my remaining ARE exams
- devote at least 1 hour a month to furthering my photography
- practice positivity in the face of negativity
Stay tuned...