Monday, July 21, 2014

The big move.

Our 24 hour road trip adventure to Spokane Washington! 

Since I just spent 45 minutes writing out our whole moving adventure story and my phone app decided to delete it, this will be the condensed version. I don't have internet or a computer or furniture for that matter. 
Movers loading up the truck. It's amazing how much stuff we actually had. Made us both want to become minimalists. 
The sun finally came out in Nevada after a long, long night. Lots of construction and detours and one stop on the side of the highway at 3am to try to let the cat do his business. It's not something I want to repeat. 
Tiny towns. This was not long before I got pulled over for going 60 in a 25 zone. Apparently that's frowned upon. 
Hot dogs. 
Crossing the border into Oregon. 
Somewhere near the Oregon-Idaho border. Did you know Oreida potatoes means Oregon-Idaho??? Mind blown.  
Oregon has the best rest areas. Beautiful.
 Are we there yet? 
Almost! As we arrived we found out most of the state was dealing with some intense wild fires. But it sure made for a beautiful sunset! 

So relieved to finally be here and all in one piece! 

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Discover: Matilda

The June book of the month for Bon's Book Club was Matilda by Roald Dahl. I finished it in just a couple of days. It's a children's book after all so it's not very long and a very easy read. What I loved was the spirit of the book. With all of Roald Dahl's books, he creates a vivid fantasy world that immerses the reader completely. Who hasn't read James and the Giant Peach?
Matilda is a very special little girl in every way imaginable. She is brilliant but not arrogant. She's mischievous without being rude or bratty. And she discovers a love for reading that honestly inspired me to read more myself! Here are a few of the books young Matilda read (and I must admit I downloaded a few myself) 
Classics! I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and although I haven't watched the movie version, I can't help but wonder if it even came close to capturing the "magic" of the book. 

If you haven't checked out The Life of Bon I suggest you take a visit and see what she has lined up for the upcoming books this year. The next book up is In Cold Blood by Truman Capote. Can't wait to check it out! 

Saturday, June 7, 2014

In a funk

I feel like I'm stuck in a rut... a funk... unmotivated... just blah in general. There has been a lot going on lately and I think the stress of it all is starting to catch up to me. My husband and I have been planning a big move up to Spokane, WA  for the last few months and it's getting down to the wire. I mean, is this not gorgeous?

There are tons of reasons we want to move and it will be a really great step for us in many ways. Housing costs are much more reasonable and you get a lot more for your money. We want to have four real seasons. We want our someday-kids to be able to camp out in the backyard in the summer. We want to watch the snow fall on Christmas and maybe make a snowman on the front lawn. We are SUPER excited to get the ball rolling and get up there but the transition, like any big change, is tricky. I've been in the job hunt process and my husband has been applying to school for Physical Therapy. It's just SO hard to put all your eggs into one basket and then not have any control over that basket! I keep telling myself it will all work out, it will all be worth it, and whatever it meant to be will be. But sometimes I need a little more motivational reminder... and for that, of course, I turn to Pinterest. 

OK, I am starting to feel better.... but then I think about the financial stress of a big move and I almost can't breathe. We have been working on the house every weekend trying to fix it up and make updates. New blinds, paint touch ups, kitchen drawer handles (THAT was no small task let me tell you!) and trying to tame our yard. Thankfully as far as the yard is concerned I have a great friend who is VERY knowledgeable about all things plant and has been helping. Seriously could not have made this much progress without her and I will forever be grateful. Sometimes situations in life show you who your true friends are and who are willing to help you and never expect anything in return. Before and after photos coming soon. I'm excited to see it finished. So I try not to worry too much about money because once we move it will all work out. Southern California is not exactly easy as a one income household. 

I've also been "dieting" the last few months. If you've read my previous posts you know how I feel about the word "diet". I strongly dislike it. Strongly. Anyway, the last two months or so I've been following the Dukan diet again and mostly doing well. But it really can get quite dull if you don't keep some variety going with new recipes. I haven't had the time or energy to get creative with my cooking and all I want to do is just go get a donut! Is that so much to ask for??? I tried and failed (miserably) to make spur of the moment fudge for my husband, but that's probably for the best because I would have been too tempted. I believe living a healthy and active life style (call it dieting if you must) is just as much mental as it is physical. It's easy to lose the motivation or lose sight of your goal. It's easy to want to quit. But nothing worth having is ever easy. 

Thanks Pinterest for keepin' it real. And for helping to lift me out of my funk. 

Friday, May 30, 2014

Friday funnies 5-30-14

Here are a few things that made me laugh this week.

The Bachelorette is back and that provides endless amounts of entertainment. This was the best part of the entire episode in my opinion. Nick S. was not given a rose and this is how he said his goodbyes.

Jimmy Fallon and Emma Stone Lip Sync Battle

This clip of Jimmy and Jennifer Lawrence had me cracking up. I mean, how COOL is she? I love her. Total girl crush.

And these door mats on Amazon 

Have a great weekend!!! 

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Discover: The Light Between Oceans

Today I want to share with you my thoughts on the May book of the month: The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman. It's part of Bon's Book Club from The Life of Bon. She's a hoot if you haven't checked out her blog yet I suggest you get on it. 
So this month's book was The Light Between Oceans and I literally finished it 10 minutes before writing this post. I have to admit the first half was a little slow going but by the time I got to the "good stuff" I couldn't wait to read the next chapter. It's been a while since I've found a book that I couldn't put down, didn't want to end, AND wanted the characters to somehow have a happy ending ... although all three of those seemed highly unlikely. 

It's based in Australia in the 1920's and takes place mainly on a desolate island lighthouse. I was hooked just on the description of the idyllic fantasy island and the beauty described in the fictitious lighthouse. Yes I googled whether or not it was a real place, sadly it's not. The story line is centered around Tom and Isabel who miraculously find a baby adrift in a dingy on the beach of their private island. They have endured three really tough miscarriages and are desperate for a child. So when one practically appears out of thin air, naturally they think it is a sign from God. Tom is very by the book and wants to report it to the authorities. Isabel is aching for a baby and honestly believes the babies parents to be dead. They decide to keep the baby and raise her as their own but the guilt eats Tom alive for the next few years. After learning the child's birth mother is still alive and she's living in the small mainland town where Isabel is from (AND he's met her years before only never knew her name, small world right?), Tom just can't take it anymore. He leaves a note saying the child is alive, safe, and loved. Well this sets in motion a series of events, and without giving away all the details, it is truly heart-wrenching. I actually shed a tear or two ten! If you can believe that! 

I thought the author told a beautiful love story between two people who truly, deep down, loved each other despite the many hardships they faced. To me that is what honest love is about. It's not always happiness and sunshine. Sometimes terrible storms happen and it is how you cope with them that bring out your true colors. Life will either bring you closer together or rip you apart and it all depends on the choices you make. No one is perfect and can never hope to be. Our past makes us into who we are and we can either dwell on the decisions we made or choose to move on and just live with them. At the end of the day the world keeps turning, the stars keep shining, and the ocean waves keep crashing. All the drama that goes on in one person's lifetime can seem so small and insignificant compared to the eternity of the world. 

I'm excited to check out June's book Matilda by Roald Dahl. I used to love his books as a kid! Who didn't read The BFG? Or James and the Giant Peach? I think we can all agree the man has a knack for writing for kids. I can't wait to read his books to my kids one day. 

So if you are looking for something to add to your summer reading list, why not join me in this book club amazingness? 

Friday, May 23, 2014

Dukan blueberry pancakes

This recipe is inspired by my adorable husband who made these for me yesterday. It was a surprise breakfast in bed and I could not have been happier. 

What you'll need: 
3 tbsp oat bran 
3 tbsp blueberry Greek yogurt 
1/2 cup egg whites or equivalent of 2 whole eggs 

Step 1: 
Mix all ingredients in a bowl. It will appear very runny. Don't worry that's ok. 

Step 2:
Spray a medium sized pan with no stick cooking spray over medium heat. 

Step 3: 
Once your pan is heated up, pour about half of your batter into the pan. You may need to spoon some of the oat bran into the pan since it tends to sink a little. 

Step 4: 
When the edges start to brown and the whole thing appears to be getting solid, give it a flip. You can do it!

Step 5: 
The second side will cook faster so keep an eye on it. Remove from pan and repeat with the rest of your batter. 

Step 6: 
Top with a drizzle of sugar free maple syrup. These would also be yummy rolled like a crepe with a sweetened cream cheese filling! Yum! Trying that tomorrow! 

Oh did I mention The best part? This recipe is only about 150 calories including the syrup. Less than 2 grams of fat, less than 4 grams of sugar, and 15 whopping grams of protein thanks to the Greek yogurt and egg whites! You'll feel full and satisfied all morning! 


Friday Funnies 5-23-2014

Who couldn't use a laugh on a Friday? So here are a few things that made me giggle this week

Have a great weekend!! 

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Healthy Dukan Crackers

These healthy, Dukan friendly crackers are super easy and definitely satisfy the urge for something crunchy! And as an added bonus, they are also gluten free without having to buy any expensive specialty ingredients like almond or rice flour! Oat bran is found in any grocery store usually near the oatmeal and is very inexpensive.

This recipe is for 1 serving and has 167 calories and 12 grams of protein, so you will feel full and satisfied

Prep time: 5 minutes. Cook time: 22-25 minutes

Here's what you will need: 
3 tbsp oat bran
1 large egg 
1 laughing cow cheese wedge, any flavor. You could also use plain fat free cream cheese. 
1/2 tsp onion powder 
1/4 tsp black pepper 
pinch salt 
egg whites, about 1/8 cup 
Step 1: Preheat toaster oven to 400 degrees. Spray a small, foil lined, jelly roll pan with cooking spray and set aside. You could use your oven if you don't have a toaster oven, but make sure you use a small pan with sides so your mixture doesn't spill over. 

Step 2: In a small bowl mix together the oat bran, egg, cream cheese, and spices until well combined. Slowly add in egg whites as needed until the consistency is thin enough to pour onto your pan. You want it thinner than pancake batter, but not too runny. More like crepe consistency. 

Step 3: Pour mixture into your pan and help it evenly spread out as much as possible. 

Step 4: Bake for about 15 minutes until it starts to get golden brown. 

Step 5: Using a knife or small pizza cutter, cut the crackers into squares. I recommend a knife because when I tried the pizza cutter it cut right through the foil. You've been warned!

Step 6: Flip crackers over, spray with a bit of cooking spray to help them get crispy, and bake for another 8 minutes or so. 
Step 7: Remove from oven and allow to cool for 1-2 minutes and enjoy! 

I prefer these warm and plain, but they would be good with cream cheese or salsa. You could even use them to make little appetizer bites with sliced turkey, cheese, and a pickle. Any way you like wheat thins! I want to experiment with different seasonings and see what I can come up with!  

Any suggestions are welcome! 

How I finally found the willpower to fit into my skinny jeans

First off, let me just say, I hate the word "diet". It's a miserable word. I mean, the first three letters of the word diet are DIE. And let's face it, most of the time when you are on a "diet" you feel like you might die without just ONE little oreo. But trust me, you can DO THIS and learn how to eat healthy but still enjoy food for the rest of your life. 
My journey in dieting has not been a short one. There is no magic pill or quick fix that will get you "bikini ready" in 3 weeks. What it boils down to is hard work, healthy diet, regular exercise, and finding the willpower to pass up fresh donuts. Trust me, that day is burned into my memory, but I did it. To accomplish this, the most important thing is FINDING WHAT WORKS for YOU. That is probably different than your best friend, your sister, your neighbor, or that celebrity who just dropped 50 lbs like it was nothing. What I found that FINALLY worked for me and became a lifestyle change was the Dukan Diet
Let me just say, this "diet" isn't for everyone. In fact, I have had several friends who tried it after seeing my success and could not stick with it. That's where the willpower comes in. It comes down to how motivated you really are deep down, and no one really knows that but YOU. When I first heard about the Dukan diet, I was a little skeptical. Allegedly Kate Middleton and Jennifer Lopez have followed the Dukan diet and I think they're both great examples of being lean and healthy... But they also have personal chefs and personal trainers and personal shoppers that buy them clothes to make them look thinner, etc, etc. I just have me, myself, and I, and I really don't have a ton of money to spend on even organic produce. I know I am not alone in this. 
This diet is pretty simple once you get the hang of the Do's and Don'ts and Cans and Cannot haves. I read the book cover to cover, and while it admittedly was a bit redundant, I really wanted to know what to expect and what I could eat. I won't go into the nitty-gritty details too much but the basis of the diet is low-sugar, low-carb, and low-fat. What you DO get to have is lean protein, vegetables, fat free dairy, and oat bran. Doesn't sound like much but trust me, there are tons of possibilities. You HAVE to get creative with the oat bran. That's the key and what will take care of those bread cravings. I've made muffins, waffles, pancakes, french toast, crackers, and hamburger buns all out of oat bran. And you can also get creative with all of the sugar free substitutions out there. My sugar free chocolate shake is one of my favorites. Easy and delicious. This would also be a great diet for anyone living with diabetes, just FYI. 
It's honestly just an all around healthy way to live. Once you get to your goal and get further into the phases you add in fruit, whole grain bread, and a serving of real cheese every day. You even get to have a free meal once a week. Dr. Dukan calls them celebration meals instead of cheat meals because really you are celebrating the fact that you have reached your goals and now can enjoy a glass of wine or pizza or ice cream or ALL OF THE ABOVE! You can have the things you have been missing without the guilt because you are now comfortable in your skin. For me, the temporary deprivation of the first two phases was COMPLETELY worth it when I just HAD to go shopping for new SMALLER clothes. Nothing beats that feeling! I think that was the thing that kept me going and helped me turn down all the temptations. You have to say no right now, but not forever. You don't have to swear off french fries for the rest of your life. You just need to learn how to indulge in MODERATION. How many times have you heard "Moderation is Key"? But this actually TEACHES you how to live in moderation. You slowly add in "regular" food so that your system can adjust to it and so you learn when to take it easy on the guacamole. 
I'm trying to find a "before" picture to show but there aren't many around. I think we have all gone through the "I don't want my picture to be taken because I feel fat" stage. But I can show you my favorite "after" picture! 
That's me on the right in the gold dress. And yes that is a Drag Queen in the middle. On the left is just Leonor, just another day for that girl. This was taken right after I had lost 40 lbs in 4 months! I felt incredible! I had so much confidence! Felt better about myself than I knew was possible! 
And then.... I started slacking on the maintenance part of the weight loss.... I tried pushing my own boundaries to see what else I could eat without gaining anything back. Wine, bread, candy, and basically anything fried became my BFF. I thought I could somehow "get away with it" but I was very, very wrong. It was a recipe for disaster. Before I knew it I had gained about 20 lbs back of that 40. Still a lot better than where I started 2 years ago, but completely disappointed in myself and just plain uncomfortable. I was still wearing my newer, smaller clothes, but they really didn't fit me well. Stacy and Clinton would not have approved. (Am I the only one who misses What Not To Wear?)
I reached a point where I needed to find that motivation and that willpower again. And not for anyone else but me. I remember what it felt like to be that girl in the gold dress and I am determined to get back to that. About 6 weeks ago I started back up with the Dukan diet and am proud to say that I have knocked about 10 lbs off so far! I now know that I need to be mindful for the rest of my life about what I put into my body. 
But I also know that I can make good choices and enjoy food without it taking over my life. I have learned so many lessons and learned so much about myself throughout this Dukan journey and I know it will continue from here. 
Weight loss is just as much of a MENTAL struggle as it is a PHYSICAL one. 
What do you hold onto for your motivation? How do you find the willpower when you need it most? 

Thursday, May 15, 2014

That time I got a concussion

So there I was minding my own business taking this guy to the vet. 
He'd been acting funny for a few days and walking kind of drunk (turns out he hurt his back and he's fine now). Anyway, I was in the vet's office during the exam and kind of crouching down while the vet checked him out. They were testing his spine and neck and things like that. If any of you have ever had an unexplained "something wrong" with one of your fur babies, I'm sure you can understand the frustration. You know something is wrong, you have no idea what's causing it or how to fix it, and possibly the most frustrating is they can't tell you what's wrong or what hurts. 

Anyway, back to the story, I was crouching down with the vet and then she asked me to pick him up and put him on the table so she could do some more tests. I stood up and the vet stepped out of the room to get something. I started feeling dizzy and sort of blacking out. I thought "I should sit down.... but I can't because he's up on the table and he will jump down and hurt himself..... as soon as the doctor comes back I'll tell her I need to sit down" Next thing I knew I was flat on my back with the vet trying to wake me up. It took me a good minute to figure out who the heck she was and where I was and how the heck I got on the floor. I started to come to and they were all pretty panicked. They asked if I wanted to call someone and shoved my phone in my hand. I could barely catch my breath so I just texted my husband who was in class. I think my words literally were "I fell down. Passed out." He was naturally quite confused but that was the best I could do. He rushed out of class to come to the vet to finish the appointment. Cooper still needed a blood test and x-rays and I didn't want all of this nonsense to be for nothing! 

One of the vet techs was already on 911 and the ambulance was on the way. At first I said "No I don't want an ambulance" because really, how embarrassing? What am I, an 80 year old woman who fainted? Come on, just give me a minute and I'll be fine. But the room just would NOT stop spinning and it turns out I hit my head on the floor in the fall. So I agreed to let the ambulance come. What's the point of having health insurance if you don't use it right? I'll skip the gory details, but they loaded me onto the gurney and quickly inserted an IV into my arm. I am not a fan of needles or blood. I tend to get light headed when I see blood, you can imagine the irony. 
So off to the emergency room I went. It seemed like a non stop influx of paramedics, nurses, doctors, and registration people. I have to say, they were all very efficient. Every one had their specific duty and each carried it out so the next person could get to their part. It was like a well rehearsed play. The doctor was the director, making occasional appearances to check on how things were going. The nurse (mine was named Elton, like Elton John he said) was like the production assistant who really did all the work, even though the director got all the credit. The paramedics were the set directors, moving things around and doing the heavy lifting. Then followed a series of supporting rolls... one nurse who took my blood, one who helped me into my costume hospital gown, one who took me to the bathroom and back. The CT scan was the big dramatic second act. They had to check for brain bleeding, which thankfully was negative. So I guess that made me the lead actress. It's weird for me to be the center of attention, but I guess when life tells you to take it easy and slow down a little, you have to listen right? The final diagnosis was a concussion and I was not supposed to read, drive, or engage in contact sports for several days. There goes my football career. And there went my blog for about a week. See my ET finger?
It was a pretty frightening experience overall. I have never broken a bone or even had a bloody nose, so needless to say a concussion was a whole new world for me. My husband was super worried, although he didn't show it until later, poor guy. My dog was even worried, he refused to leave my side even after all the doors were open and the could have escaped (he hates the vet). And all because essentially, I stood up too fast. It was the combination of crouching down for a few minutes and then standing up which caused a "quick drop in blood pressure" and caused me to black out. Guess it's a good thing I had gotten my hair done that morning so at least I had good hair while I was at the hospital. There has to be a silver lining right? This was taken mere hours before the "incident".
I guess if nothing else it made me appreciate my good health and I learned to be more careful! 

Top 5 Pinterest tricks I actually use (and you can too)

Everyone who knows me, knows I love me some Pinterest. I even went as Pinterest for Halloween last year. Here's proof: 
Truly the world's easiest, most comfortable, last minute Halloween costume ever. Boots, leggings, sweater tunic, a scarf, and VOILA! Basically a Pinterest inspired formula for a cute outfit and I pinned myself with a giant Pin it button. But I know that Pinterest can feel like a challenge at times and make us feel inadequate overwhelmed with SO many ideas and inspirations. So I've compiled my top 5 Pinterest tips and tricks that I actually use regularly and are so easy that you can (and should) use them too. 

1. Dish soap and vinegar shower brush 
You've probably heard of this one. If not, then I say, you're welcome. This trick has saved me so much time cleaning the shower, which I'll be honest is probably my absolute LEAST favorite chore on house cleaning day. I just hate the angle. I hate getting wet. And I hate the strong smell of those chemicals. But now I leave one of these scrub brushes in my shower and whenever I have an extra few minutes, scrub, scrub, scrub. Sometimes I just do one wall, or just the shower doors, or if I have a conditioning treatment that has to sit on my hair I might just do the whole darn thing. You're already in the shower and the brush is right there so you really have no excuse. There's really no special recipe but this is where I first learned about this genius idea. 
2. Shoe rack for scarves. 
These are my actual scarves in my actual closet. I've added a couple since this photo was taken but it has given me so much more space in the rest of my closet AND I can actually see all my scarves now. No more trying to loop them through hangers which they inevitably keep slipping off of and the cat sleeps on them. Now they add a pop of color to my boring closet door and I can see them and can pair them with more outfits. I ordered the shoe rack from Amazon and it was easy to assemble. It even has a little bit of a grippy texture so nothing slips off no matter how you hang them up. Brilliant. 
3. S'mores Krispy treats. 
If you can make regular Rice Krispy treats, you can make these. They are so simple but so delicious. You owe it to your mouth to try them. You can find the actual directions here. Mmmmmm I want some NOW! 
4. No knead bread. 
Is there anything better than the smell of fresh baked bread? Yes, if it means you didn't have to slave away in the kitchen for hours and hours in order to make said bread. This stuff is insanely good and you can create several variations once you get the basic recipe down. I've done a cheddar jalapeno version and an orange cranberry. The possibilities truly are endless. Find the recipe here. I don't know why, but I feel very accomplished when I am slicing up a loaf of bread I baked my very own self. So comforting. 
5. Salad in a jar. 
This one is probably my favorite. I do this almost every day for work. The key is to put the dressing at the bottom, layer up your toppings, and put the lettuce or spinach in on top so the dressing doesn't touch it and make everything soggy. Make sure it doesn't tip over and mix before you are ready, but I have never had a problem with that. The mason jars are adorable, but this works equally well in a regular Tupperware. No more worrying about someone at work stealing your salad dressing out of the refrigerator! Freedom! Click this link for other salad ideas. 

You can see more things I've actually tried from Pinterest here. So quit pinning and start CREATING! 

And since who doesn't love more lists I'm linking up with Erica Jacquline for Listed Tuesdays!