Friday, December 3, 2010


Dec 3
In the closet of our guest room I have an old dresser that I use as a place to keep all my stationery and fun things like twine and washi tape along with my stamps and Christmas cards that I need to write out this weekend. It's nice because it's out of the way since I don't use it all the time and still looks nice when guests are using the room.

Letter 12/3/11

Additional pics:

Thursday, December 2, 2010


Focus on one drawer, table, or surface today and spend 15 minutes making it pretty! (And take a pretty picture afterward to motivate yourself!________________________________________________

Well, we just refinished our hardwood floors throughout the living room/dining room/bedrooms of our house, so everything has been going through major reorganization. I didn't want things coming back upstairs until they had a proper home, which so far is working well, even if it makes the process take a little longer.


I work from home, so my office doubles as a crafts space. Squeezing all of this into one room is a bit of a challenge, as I have interest in many different types of crafts, and on top of that there are Christmas gifts piling up that need to be wrapped.

One more Before:


The pictures didn't turn out great and it still needs work, but theres a start.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010


December 1st advent journal

It astonishes me that it's December. I've had a hard time keeping up with the calendar, it seem like months are flying by.

I always want it to slow down, I keep thinking the next month it will but it never does.

This year started out tough on me, dealing with injury, loss, difficult challenges with work but there has been a lot of good too. I finally got settled into our new house, we were able to afford furniture and aesthetic changes like painting, crown molding and refinishing the floors. I also got to grow a garden, which even though I only deem partially successful, I got started.

Even though did not get to do most of my plans for the yard and garden or they did not turn out as successfully as I had anticipated, I learned things that will make it better next year. I forget that sometimes life is a process, and not everything is perfect the first time around. It's ok not to conquer a goal right away, or else you would get bored very fast.

In the past 5 years it seem like not much has changed for me. I am now married to my then boyfriend, I have essentially the same job and same friends. When I really think about the person I was then, it's hard for me to remember what has changed but when I really think about it I remember how insecure I was in our new relationship, how naive I was about certain friendships and how I have especially changed more in the past year than I did the four years prior. My desire to 'party' has declined, I've taken a greater interest in a more natural lifestyle (don't worry I won't stop shaving or go on a drastic no sugar no fat no meat no alcohol nature diet) and started wanting to understand things I ignored in the past.

Next year, I'd really like to spend a holiday in our home, something we haven't done yet, I want to join the neighborhood pool and make some friends that are local, and I hope to create some more stability and structure to our lives. Structure has been a part of my New Years resolution at least 2 years running, I guess it's time I get on it.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Trying new things

Although I've had them before, I've never made Lentils. It was surprisingly easy and addictive. You basically rinse a 1 lb bag of Lentils and boil it with plenty of water, a bay leaf, an onion cut in half, some chopped carrot, a garlic clove smashed and some S&P in a large pot, then cover and simmer for about 25 min on low until tender. Tasty.
Even more tasty was the dressing we covered them in while hot to absorb the flavors.
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley leaves
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

I've been eating the leftovers non-stop, it's oddly addictive.

Now to tackle spaghetti squash and the giant zucchini I've been meaning to shred for zucchini bread.

Plastics are bad, mmmmKay?

This can be confusing and most feel it's an ever-changing topic.
As of right now, the Institute for Agriculture and Trade. Plastics marked 7 are especially confusing since 7 is the throw all "Other cateogory".
So the general rule of thumb
Avoid Plastics marked as:
#3 #6 or #7-PC
If it’s labeled #7-PC, it’s unsafe polycarbonate.
If it’s labeled #7 “PLA” or #7 “compostable,” it’s a safer, bio-based plastic. For example Gerber baby food containers and BornFree baby bottles are part of the safe category.

Safer Plastics are those marked as: #1 #2 #4 #5 or #7 labeled labeled “PLA” or “compostable

Other tips they recommend are avoiding using plastic containers or plastic wrap in the microwave or with hot foods and liquids, buy a BPA free reusable water bottle, avoid PVC products (toys, building materials, etc.)

Most Plastics are marked with recycling symbols 1-7. These symbols signify the following:
3: PVC or V: Polyvinyl chloride, used for cling wrap,plastic squeeze bottles, cooking oil and peanut butter containers, and detergent and window cleaner bottles.
6: PS: Polystyrene, used in styrofoam food trays, egg cartons,disposable cups and bowls, carry-out containers and opaque plastic cutlery.
7: Other: This is a catch-all category for plastics thatdon’t fit into the #1-6 categories. It includes polycarbonate,bio-based plastics, co-polyester, acrylic,polyamide and plastic mixtures like styrene-acrylonitrileresin (SAN). Number 7 plastics are used for a variety of products like baby bottles and “sippy” cups,baby food jars, 5-gallon water bottles, “sport” waterbottles, plastic dinnerware and clear plastic cutlery.

1: PETE: Polyethylene terephthalate ethylene, used for soft drink, juice, water, detergent, cleaner and peanut
butter containers.
2: HDPE: High density polyethylene, used in opaque plastic milk and water jugs, bleach, detergent and
shampoo bottles, and some plastic bags.

4: LDPE: Low density polyethylene, used in grocery
store bags, most plastic wraps, Ziplock bags and
some bottles.
5: PP: Polypropylene, used in most Rubbermaid, deli
soup, syrup and yogurt containers, straws and other
clouded plastic containers, including baby bottles.

Personally I'm especially guilty of using products in Category 3:
cling wrap, plastic squeeze bottles, cooking oil and peanut butter containers, and detergent and window cleaner bottles. However not all items in this list are always #3s, my peanut butter and olive oil containers were #1s. I did notice my plastic bottle of syrup was a #3. I never buy styrofoam trays or cups but have on occasion bought styrofoam egg cartons, disposable cups and bowls used styrofoam carry-out containers and opaque plastic cutlery. Time to be more dilligent.

Info source:

Monday, September 27, 2010

Travel snacks

Dieting while traveling is not the easiest, but a big part of my diet plan includes eating about every 2 hours to maintain my blood sugar levels without big dips from not eating (this seems to be very effective for me). On my most recent trip to New York, I tried to stay on track by bringing Apples, hardboiled eggs and string cheese in a cooler, Emerald Cocoa Roast Almonds, buying Oatmeal for breakfast, eating chicken salads for lunch, drinking as much water as possible and using the bank account analogy from Bethenny. Overall, I didn't lose or gain any weight this week which I take as a win. I didn't get the excercise in that I wanted and I was stressed from work, so I attribute that as the blocker that kept me from loosing. On to next week with an optimistic view :)

Trees aka Broccoli

Roasted Broccoli is to die for. Seriously so very very good.

Recipe for Roasted Broccoli
Roast 1 head of Broccoli separated into it's own little trees with some Olive Oil, Lemon zest from 1 lemon, Chopped garlic, ample salt and Red pepper flakes at 400 degrees for 20 minutes stirring once half way through.

SOOOOOOO good and easy it's scary. Dave said please make broccoli like this every time from now on.

Thursday, September 23, 2010


In an effort to continue loosing weight (8lbs so far) I've been trying to find different ways to cook healthy foods following the Diet plan I've adapted for myself using the concepts I've learned from Jackie Warner and Bethenny Frankel.

I made Ina Garten's perfect roast chicken (sans fennel since I didn't want to go back to the store) and made Cauliflower Mash instead of mashed potatoes (my dad even said he like the cauli mash better) which is much lower in carbohydrates. The result is a little thinner, but still very tasty.

CauliMash recipe
Steamed a head of chopped cauliflower until very tender
Blend in food processor or blender with a spoonful of lowfat sour cream, S&P.
Add in a few splashes of milk one at a time whenever it looks like it stopped processing and needs the liquid until smooth. Serve while warm.

side note: I like how Dave pronounces Cauliflower with an emphasis on the U. I find it weird that I like that, I could say it that way too, but somehow I just like hearing him say it.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Healthier Alfredo

Hungry Girl recipe for 1 serving:

My adapted recipe 4 servings:
Sautee 1/2cup of finely chopped onions
or ¼ cup finely chopped shallots
in a small amount of butter in a sauce pan until soft but not browned

1 cup skim milk
6 wedges Laughing Cow Light Swiss cheese
1 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
1 Pinch garlic powder
4 Leaves fresh Sage chiffonade(roll up leaves, slice thinly into ribbons) Alternatively fresh or dried dill could be used

Whisk until everything is melted and the sauce is smooth, about 20 minutes.
It will thicken as you cook, but if it still seems liquidy after 20min you can add another wedge.

Add Salt and Pepper to taste Serve immediately over noodles, shirataki tofu noodles, chicken, etc.

Laughing Cow Wedge Flavors:
The Laughing Cow® Wedges
Light Creamy Swiss
Light Garlic & Herb
Light French Onion
NEW! Light Blue Cheese
NEW! Light Mozzarella, Sun-Dried Tomato & Basil
NEW! Light Queso Fresco & Chipotle
Original Creamy Swiss

Thursday, September 16, 2010

"This is Why You're Fat"

Jackie Warner, famed trainer from the Bravo network shows Thintervention and previously Workout wrote "This Is Why You're Fat (And How to Get Thin Forever): Eat More, Cheat More, Lose More--and Keep the Weight Off". I haven't purchased the book yet, but I have skimmed the Look Inside feature and watched Thintervention in attempts to gain some knowledge on her philoshophy. It covers most of what I already have heard, but has a simple to follow plan that seems to work for me when I follow it to heart. This is what I took from perusing the info provided (not at all meant to provide as much info as in the book

Eggs (2 daily)
Oatmeal (1 cup daily)
Detox Vegetables (2-3 cups daily)
Fresh Fruit (2 servings is 2 whole fruits)
Water and Lemon Juice Herbal Teas
Whey Protein Shake (8-ounce serving daily)

Sample menu basics: four proteins, three veggies, two grains, two fruits, and one fat per day.

My interpretation of her sample menus from the book:
Protein (2 eggs) hardboiled, sunnyside up, scrambled no added fats
1 cup of chopped fresh veggies (or 1/4 c avo, I usually add spinach tomatoes, zucchini and/or broccoli to my omlets)

Fruit (1 cup of fresh berries, for example)
Grain (1 cup of oatmeal)

4 ounces of protein (sirloin steak, chicken breast, scallops, shrimp, or 2 eggs)
1 cup of a vegetable or 1 baked sweet potato

~Protein shake (scoop of whey mixed with water and 1 cup fresh fruit, for example)
~OR 1/4 cup Almonds (I like Emerald Cocoa Roast Almonds) with 1 cup of fresh fruit or apple
~OR 1 oz cheese with an apple

4 ounces of protein (sirloin steak, chicken breast, scallops, shrimp, or 2 eggs)
Vegetable (1 cup of steamed broccoli, for example)
Grain with Bfast OR Dinner (1 slice Whole Wheat bread, 1 cup of oatmeal OR 1 cup of brown rice)

~I try not to do the same protein twice in one day, or the same grain. If I don't have time to make eggs for breakfast, I'll eat the Oatmeal with fruit for breakfast and have 2 hardboiled eggs and 1 cup of raw veggies that I can take on the go.

~Another option for a snack I sometimes substitute is 1 ounce of cheese and an organic apple (and yes I weigh the cheese along with my 4 oz of lowfat proteins)

~As for right now I also drink coffee in the morning, but I am planning to cut that out in the next month and I really try to drink as much Lemon water as possible. Jackie does emphasize the importance of adding lemon juice to the water for extra fat burning power, and the value of eating the yellows of the egg for the same reason.

~There is great value to eating 6 meals a day 2 hours apart, and I really try to space the meals out 2 hours. She also encourages two cheat meals on the weekends to give your mind and body a break from dieting.

~I think a big part in my recent success has been lowering my sugar intake. On the show, she had participants purge their homes of foods that had over 6 or 7 grams of sugar per serving (which I now look at nutrition labels for)

~My interpretation of Detox Vegetables is spinach, tomatoes, zucchini and/or broccoli (ie. not corn) and for fruits I'm sticking with apples, pears and berries (not bananas, ewe, or grapes which are high in sugar), it may be more defined in the book

~my only gripe is the lack of Calcium, so I'm alternating adding in milk and considering Calcium supplements

Cardio Workout:
20 min
"Raise ramp to maximum uphill and slow walk (almost a lunge) for 2 minutes. Then lower the ramp and run for 2 minutes. Take 1 minute to bring your heart rate down and then start over. Repeat 4 more times (equals a 20 minute session). It’s less boring too! "

Do 4,5min intervals swim or run or bike
2min Medium pace swim or 40% bike or uphill walk
2min Fast pace swim or 80% bike or no hill run
1 min Recovery slow pace

Strength Training:
"Women, make sure to include weight training at least 3-4 days a week. If you add 3-5 pounds of muscle to your body, you will burn 250-500 extra calories per day which equals 3-5 pounds of fat loss per week"

"The only muscle groups that really burn fat are the primary muscles like the chest, back, quads, glute and hamstrings. Focus hard on those!"

"Your body hits a plateau with cardio and resistance training in one month so change your weight, reps and exercises accordingly"
"The fastest way to get the body you want is through my power circuit training. Combine 3 upper body exercises and 3 lower body exercises together to make one big set. Do not rest in between and alternate quickly from upper to lower for maximum fat burn."

One Shiny Star

"In Defense of Food" Book Giveaway on

Should be a pretty interesting read.

Friday, July 23, 2010

BPAs and Pesticides making us Sick and Fat?

A few articles recently struck my attention regarding Organic foods and dangerous Plastics. While it can be frustrating to "keep up with it" since the news seems to change every day, I think it's worth paying attention to. I'm sure many people asked their parents why they starting smoking and their response was "We didn't know how bad it was for you back then". It seems like it may be a sentance we'll be uttering to our children/grandchildren about BPAs, fertilizers and pesticides. Not only have these substances been linked to causing cancer, recent studies have shown they can also affect your weight gain, chance of developing ovarian cysts and possibly autism. The cited articles below mark items such as Plastic baby bottles, Canned goods, food containers including the ones at the grocery store that you buy meat in, water bottles and plastic wrap as containing BPAs. I'm not saying to never buy meat in the grocery store again, or ban all foods you can not buy organically, but definately try to cut back where you can.

The basics I've taken from these articles are:
1. Try to buy these foods (click here to download The Dirty Dozen list) organically as they are found to absorb/be exposed to the highest levels of pesticides*
Celery, Peaches, Strawberries, Apples, Blueberries (Domestic), Nectarines, Sweet Bell Peppers, Spinach, Cherries, Kale / Collard Greens, Potatoes, Grapes (Imported). Lettuce is next on the list so I'm including this too since most people eat it close to every day. the full list

2. Do not use plastics marked as 3s or 7s **

3. Use glass containers in the microwave and avoid using plastic containers for reheating, storing hot foods or outside in hot weather.

4. Try to eat fresh veggies as much as possible vs. those in packaged in cans/plastics

If you've successfully implemented these, try to take it a step further:
1. Buy fish marked as Wild-caught vs. Farm Raised
2. Buy organic meats straight from your local farm, not only does it limit your exposure to hormones in most grocery store meats, buying locally supports your community cuts down on emissions created from shipping foods all around the country/world
3. Dispose of plastics in your kitchen all together (those microwave meals really aren't good for you anyways)
4. Start eating a more natural diet with more beans, fish, fruits and veggies
5. Try to cut down on/elminate corn syrup, trans fats and hydrogenated oils in your diet
6. Beware of Plastic baby toys that children put in their mouths, try to purchase BPA-free toys like Sophie the Giraffe

*Washing and Peeling fruits and Veggies isn't always enough. Pesticides can be found all the way to the core of a peach

**It's easy to check the numbers on the bottom most plastic containers in your home (Generally 3 and 7 are considered the worst). Unmarked plastic containers are tricky, the article cited below from Health magazine indicates that Clear Plastics that look similar to glass are probably 7s and should be avoided. Any Plastics that give off that strong Vinyl smell are probably 3s.
"Me Versus Plastic" by Amy Keyishian in Health Mag July/Aug 2010

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Mary Mary Quite Contrary

How does my garden grow?

Well here some updated pics of our perennial flowers we inherited:

See the teeny strawberry poking out? I don't think they're the edible kind, but still cute

Friday, June 25, 2010

Veggie Garden updates

Well it's a lot of green, so the pictures look a little silly in my opinion, if you look hard you can see a few tiny green tomatoes and a tomatillo in the last few pics, but everything is growing

My parents gave us this fantastic potting station as a 1 yr. anniversary present that will definately be utilized a ton! Dave's mom gave us a Home Depot gift card that is burning a hole in Dave's pocket. I think we'll be using it for supplies to stain the deck if we can ever decide on a color. I'm not sure if we should try to match the potting station or use a contrasting color.

Thursday, June 24, 2010


Oh how I want one! I'm heading to the Paper Source next week for a Tutorial on how to use it, it's be great to win one. Check here for all the great ways you can use it!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Beet Obsession

(image from

Yes I'm still on the beet kick, don't expect it to go away any time soon! I've also got the hubs hooked on beets, so you're just going to have to come to terms with the fact that at my house that's all we eat. kidding. So I need to add some to my garden, I'm just waiting to free up some space after I harvest the radishes and some lettuce and get some QT to spend away from work and outside. In the meantime, I found a recipe for Beet Chips I'm dying to try in addition to my other beet recipies in my repetoire.

I promise to post new garden pics this week, there's alot of growing going on (and critters stealing my tomatillos) and I have a lot of new found inspiration for alternative garden plans I can't wait to try my hand at, like this:

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Just Beet it

I know, i'm super cheesy... i'm ok with it.
So I randomly decided it's time to start liking beets. I did the same thing with Tomato Juice one day, and now I'm addicted to bloody marys. I'm weird like that.

They can make a bit of a mess, but well worth giving a try. Just make sure to wash your hands right after your done working with them and clean up anything they've touched. If you want to avoid this problem, buy golden beets (yellow in color). They are sweet tasty vegetables not at all like the pickley image I had of them before. Some people online said the red ones affect the color of their urine, I've never experienced it, but thought i'd warn you!

Anyways, Martha sauteed the tops of the beets on her show the other day (the green leafy part) and in effort to eat healthier I decided to try it. I didn't really use her recipe, I just kinda threw in what I thought would taste good.

Sauteed Beet Greens
As soon as you get your Beets home from the store, you should twist the tops off the beet roots. Rinse the greens in a collander leaving some moisture on the greens and tear into smaller pieces. Save the beets for roasting as seen below.

In a large pan, heat about a TBS of olive oil until hot, and add 1/4 cup up to 1/2 cup of chopped shallot (preferred) or onion. After about a minute add some minced garlic (about 1 clove) and the beet greens, stir to coat the greens in the oil (it should be sizzling from the water on the green and the oil but not burning)
Liberally sprinkle with salt and add between 1/4 tsp to 2tsp of red pepper flakes depending on how spicy you like your food and 1 Tbsp of butter for a richer, less bitter taste (butter and red pepper optional)

I usually turn the greens with tongs instead of stirring them so they cook on all side until they have reduced significantly. Enjoy!

Roasted Beets

Rinse the Beets after you've removed the greens. Wrap each separately in tin foil and roast at 400 degrees for 50-60 min until tender.

Serve warm or cold. Taste great alone with a little salt or sliced up in salads, especially as a compliment to oranges

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

woMan with a Plan

I started planning out my garden before my plants were bought. I really liked this interface:

however, my parents warned me about growing some plants so close together ie: tomatoes and zucchini. I still used this as a basic layout and then altered as I went along so that this:

became this:

The sun rises from the right of the pictures above to the left. I get virtually no sun until it's almost overhead so I put my tomato plants all at the east end so that they wouldn't shade the plants at the west end. People that get sun throughout the day would probably want to plant perpendicular to this, ie planting tomatos at the north end and shorter vegetable as the south end, but then again, this is my first year, what do i know? :)

It was easy to go overboard with the plants especially since some came in packs of four. Luckily I had the forsight to give my dad and sister some tomatillos, I wish I had brought them the extra zucchini as well, but for now, it's planted else where in the backyard. I kept the chives in a pot on the deck in attempts to avoid it overrunning the garden along with the lavender and cilantro and a few others I haven't found room for yet!

Now I just need to pray that I can keep at least most of it alive til it's big enough to eat!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Anniversary +1

I can't believe it'll be a year this weekend that we've been married. It's def. been a crazy year for us, we bought our first house, a new car, moved to a different state, began working from home fulltime ... sometimes I forget so much has changed until I stop and look back. Being married is an adjustment, we haven't gotten along all the time, but I feel like we are learning more and about each other and growing together. I love having my husband there for me and being here for him, I feel very greatful to have him in my life :)

And even more here

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Photo Dump

Some pics from our First 6mo in our new house I finally took off my phone!

Kaizen Sushi at Tysons

Giant Tree Limb downed
from Snowstorm

Dave with freakish large Easter Bunny.

Seriously? what kid wouldnt be afraid of this? And for 499.99? what a steal!

New Grill!

Signs of Spring ... Finally

Chopping my hair off, and this was only the first cut