Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Top Five: Whole Body Health in 2013

Written by the fabulous Kim, The Healthy Engineer.

So I went back and forth about what I wanted to share with you guys this week while Tabby is away.  I wanted to share something that you guys would be interested in while still talking about something that I actually know about.  And I after deciding and writing up almost a whole post I completely changed gears.  I decided to talk to you all about five quick things you can do today to improve your family's health.

Why did I decide to talk about this?  

Easy - because I think from talking to friends that people find today's health environment overwhelming.  Eat this.  Don't eat that.  Test this.  Read about this.  You are a bad mom/friend/wife if you cook this.  So on and so forth.  I think people get overwhelmed, I certainly have gotten that way, and don't know what to do. This list isn't inclusive, but it really is a great way in my experience, to start making some changes for your family that will make you all healthier and happier.

1. Meatless Mondays.  Adding one vegetarian or vegan dinner for your family a week will change your family in many ways.  First of all, it's typically cheaper to cook a simple meal without meat and second it also is a day to try out new recipes and try new vegetables.  Most of us eat the same foods a lot.  I know I did growing up.  Now I get a lot of strange looks from my mom when she realizes that I really never repeat recipes except for a handful of favorites.  Branch out!  Try new things!  Eat some seasonal fresh vegetable based dishes and for bonus health points have a bowl of fresh fruit for dessert.  My new favorite thing is to whip my own whipped cream (incredibly easy, cream whipped until it's stiff, then add to taste powdered sugar and a touch of vanilla extract) and put on top of sliced banana and strawberry with a few chocolate chips.  It's so so good and so so easy. It's a dessert you can serve your family daily and feel good because you have a nice healthy fat and carb combo that makes your body happy.

2. Shop Organic - Economically.  I tend to go for the organic if I can whenever possible because I'm really trying to cut back on the chemicals in the foods I eat.  Typically the canned and frozen organic foods are very similar in price, so it's easy to choose organic there.  But sometimes there is a HUGE difference in price when it comes to fresh produce between organic or not.  I've seen the difference be sometimes 100% of the price of the non-organic food.  Obviously that will make a huge impact on your grocery bill.  Enter the Dirty Dozen and the Clean 15.  The Dirty Dozen are the fruits and vegetables that tend to be highest in pesticides in the non-organic version.  The Clean 15 are the fruits and vegetables that are lowest in pesticides in the non-organic version.  So basically - if you have to make a choice, buy the regular Clean 15 items and spend the extra money on the Dirty Dozen.  I use this list regularly when shopping and it's a great way to make educated decisions on organic food choices.

3. Move as a Family.  This is my favorite one, because it's by far the most fun.  My husband and I have bikes and we go biking together when the weather permits.  It's the one exercise we have in common and it's nice to head out for a ride.  We also play Xbox kinect together - those dance and sports game work up a sweat.  These are ways for us to spend time together and also spend time not sitting down.  Other ideas are to go bowling, a walk after dinner, or play a board game like Cranium where you get up and move while playing.  Just think about what your family or significant other likes to do and go do it.  Get up and go do something now, I'll wait...

4. Relax and Find Your 'Me' Time.  This one is so so serious everyone.  I know between work, trying to blog, studying about nutrition/fitness, and being a wife, I feel incredibly busy.  I cannot IMAGINE how some of you feel with children or are taking care of other relatives.  But one of the worse things we can do for our bodies is to put ourselves in a state of constant stress.  Stress impacts the body in many ways, some of us overeat, some under eat,  and no matter who you are your hormones are not fans of the stress hormones.  Being over worked and over tired just leads to burn out.  So for our #4 tip - we are going to take a woosah and find time for ourselves.  Every day.  Even if it's only 20 minutes some days.  Find some time and make it your own.  Exercise, pray, scrapbook, meditate, read a book, take a long hot shower or hot bath...whatever you need to do to feel relaxed find this.  It will make you a better person, believe me.  Not that you aren't fabulous already, but you feel so much better when you nurture your person.  One of my favorite new habits is to do my P90x stretch DVD at night by candlelight.  I slept SO well after doing this that I wanted to do it every single night.  Work out a deal maybe with your partner to watch the kids for 30 minutes while you have your down time, then take over and let them do their thing.  Let's take care of our minds and souls as well as our bodies.

5.Call the Doctor.  This is probably the easiest thing to do, but it's the thing we don't do.  When is the last time you went for a physical?  I think everyone is really good at taking the kids to their appointments, but most of us don't go ourselves until something is wrong and it becomes an emergency.  This week add make an appointment for a physical and an appointment for the dentist to your to do list (don't get me started on to do lists...Tabby knows I love them!).  Keep up with your health BEFORE it is a problem and you will save yourself and your family a lot of stress.  Oh and ladies...this is a gynecology appointment AND a physical with a general practitioner   Not just one or the other.  If you haven't been in a while or are going to a new doctor make sure you know your family history, especially if you have immediate family members with illnesses that make your at higher risk for something so you can discuss this with the doctor.  Discuss with the person making your appointment that you want a full physical and that you want to fast before so they can take your cholesterol and all the other blood tests.  Make sure you are honest about anything you are feeling like being sluggish or tired a lot.  Most importantly, make a note in your smart phone to make another appointment right after you finish if you can, or to call back later for your next appointment.

I hope that you found something in here that you can use to help you and/or your family be healthier in 2013. Health is about so much more than your weight and if you are sick or not.  It's a whole mind/body/soul connection :)

Monday, January 28, 2013

Mexican-Style Brown Rice Casserole

Hello, Islanders!

I'm away on a fabulous vacation in lieu of my birthday celebration... That's right, I'm cruisin' the Eastern Caribbean... I'll have some updates during this time but I've also got a treat for all of you!  My sweet friend, Kim of The Healthy Engineer, is going to houseisland sit for me while I'm gone... 

I've watched Kim lose more than 60 lbs over the past year.  She is an AMAZING cook, an awesome workout buddy and currently transitioning to a healthy lifestyle one healthy choice at a time. You are in for a treat... and you're welcome :)  

Again, I've scheduled some minor updates but, don't worry, she's bringing the FABULOUS so you're in great hands.


Take it away, Kim!
...

As I have worked harder on my weight loss, I have fallen into the habit of doing meal prep of 2-3 meals a week on Saturday or Sunday. It saves me money as well as keeps me on the straight and narrow - meaning keeps us from going out to eat. I wanted to share a new recipe I found and made this week that is extremely easy to throw together but tastes delicious and has a lot of nutrients.  Casseroles are perfect for a busy family because you can throw it together and bake.  I often have left over rice from the batch I make in the rice cooker so this was a great way to use it up.

I am going to write it out as I prepared it, but you can go to the site for the original recipe.  It has a few mistakes or typos or something so you can take that and play with it as you want.  This is my interpretation.

Serves 6
Total time: 45 minutes



Ingredients
  • 15 oz Wegman's mild salsa
  • 16 oz organic frozen corn
  • 1/2 cup organic mild cheddar cheese
  • 15 oz can organic refried pinto beans
  • 15 oz can black beans
  • 1.5 cups cooked brown rice (mine was a combo of short grain and jasmine)
  • 10 oz organic frozen spinach, thawed
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tbsp cilantro
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Coat a 2 qt glass dish with EVOO.
  2. In a medium size bowl combine rice, salsa, and cumin.  Spoon 1/2 of rice mixture into a prepared baking dish and spread to cover the bottom of dish
  3. In a large bowl combine refried beans, black beans, corn, cilantro, and chili powder.  Mix well and spread bean mixture on top of the rice layer.  Smooth with rubber spatula.
  4. Squeeze excess water from thawed spinach.  Sprinkle evenly over bean layer.  Sprinkle with 1/2 of the cheese.  Top with remaining rice mixture and smooth.  Sprinkle with remaining cheese.
  5. Place casserole in the oven and bake until heated through, about 30 minutes.  Cut into 6 pieces and serve.  

I served mine with a little salsa on top instead of the suggested sour cream and had a salad on the side.  My husband had his with some roasted veggies we had left over.  This meal is incredibly filling because of all the beans and corn in it.  It's really awesome comfort food.  The serving suggestion is to add more vegetables, but you could easily grab some tortillas and wrap these up as an amazing burrito or have a smaller serving (maybe half of one serving) with a side of eggs for a healthy and different breakfast.  

I also like these types of casseroles because they are very easy to play with to make different variations.  I already have been thinking of making a fajita version that substitutes the spinach with a layer of sauteed peppers and onions.  

...
Didn't I tell you she's awesome? I had the privilege of tasting this dish and it is YUM! Go,quick and:

1. Make your variation of this fabulous casserole :)

2. Check out Kim's blog!
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Friday, January 25, 2013

Made In Paris - The Guestbook.

Yesterday, we discussed the gallery and I told you I used butterfly punches to unify the decor...


I found the butterfly paper punch at Michael's.  It's a Martha Stewart paper punch and I love it.  It really brought that extra something to the shower in more ways than one!

La Patisserie


I placed a cluster of butterfly punches on the awning for dimension and movement... I then added some butterflies to the frames

The Gallery


The butterflies tied it together and broke up the large white space behind the photos.

The Guest book


I'm sure you've seen the paper punch artwork around blog land.  You haven't?  Well, here's an example:
I thought it would be cute to use pink butterfly punches as a guest book that would turn into a piece of nursery decor!

Each guest signed a butterfly...




At the end of the shower, I took a few minutes and hot glued them to the frame.  The frame made it into the nursery, the scrapbook paper will be replaced with baby's picture and Sheena's asked that I provide more paper punches for all of baby's visitors to sign when they come to visit!

Just another example of using small details to have a larger impact! 

Thanks for stopping by!

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Thursday, January 24, 2013

Made In Paris - The Gallery.

The week before the shower, I headed to Dom and Sheena's to snap some pics for shower decor.  I wanted to create that Paris art gallery feel and use the photos to fill some of the blank space on the wall.  When I host events, I always think of affordable ways to have a big bang.  Some will splurge and focus on the small details that just don't translate well in a space.  Others will focus their energy on 1 aspect of decor... like a feature table... Have I told you how annoyed I am with feature tables?

I'm sure I have but let me just say it again:  Feature tables are great... If and only IF you take the time to invest some energy in other event elements! Nothing is more annoying than walking into a party that has this pretty party table with stuff no one is allowed to touch and nothing anywhere else... OR boring games... Focus on the event and use the feature table to enhance the decor story!

Now,  back to the gallery... For the gallery's purpose, I edited the photos quickly on picmonkey.com. It's a great site that allows you easy use of tons of features!  There are others but when picnik.com was purchased by Google, this was the first I found and I haven't looked back.

Quick and Easy Gallery

I was going to type up a step-by-step but... eh.  It's almost too simple.

I edited the photos, pasted them in a powerpoint and printed them on good ol' computer paper.  I then cut them out and taped them to foam core board I purchased from the Dollar Tree.  1 board for every picture.  I then added butterflies to add a touch of unifying decor.

These pics had a HUGE impact... They filled the walls, gave guests some things to look at and encouraged folks to walk around and mingle while admiring the images.  Would you believe this decor only cost $7?!  I am certain I would've spent more at a party store on "baby shower" decor and not had HALF the impact... 


Classy.  Beautiful. Unique.

Words every event planner wants to hear about their original decor designs :)

How can you make your next event special? 

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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Made In Paris - To Top It Off.



I ordered a printable package for the custom cupcake toppers.  I did, however, want to add my own shumthin' shumthin' to make them sparkle.  I purchased glitter paper from Michael's (a splurge at $2/sheet) and used a slightly larger paper punch to layer the topper.  For more information on how I use my paper punches to make cute toppers, check out the tutorial here.

As if the glitter wasn't enough...

I wanted a variety of toppers so I created another simple topper that I fell in LOVE with!  

Supplies

- Paper straws
- Coordinating feathers

Steps

1.  Cut your paper straws in half

2.  Place 2-3 feathers inside the straw

DONE.

Easy, right?  No glue, no stress, no time at all!  Wouldn't a larger version make an awesome topper for a cake?

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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Made In Paris - The Decor.

Now that we've covered La Patisserie dessert display, the buffet and the centerpieces, we're finally ready to show the space. 

I rented tables, chairs and pink linen to make this in-home shower have a polished and chic feel.  I highly recommend renting tables and chairs.  It really saves some stress and makes your event more orderly when you have a designated area for guests.

Sheena and Dom have a very large room so I needed the table to anchor the space.  


Other than that, I think the pics speak for themselves. Check it out:



  
Guest Book Table.




I used frozen strawberries to chill the punch.  We had 4 types of straw flags to include ribbons.

Yes, I still have tutorials to share and no, we haven't even spoken about games... It's coming, it's coming.

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Monday, January 21, 2013

Made In Paris - The Feather Centerpiece.

I've professed my love of boas and used them in centerpieces before.  Remember the design I developed for my cousin's baby shower?  



NO?! You must check it out here. Go ahead, I'll wait.

Have I told you about the housewares section in my home?  It's a shelf of knick knacks that stands next to a tub of pictures in the unfinished portion of the basement.  I use this section of my basement to hold the things I fall in and out of love with... It's perfect for those times I need to change my decor OR when I need to reuse a decor item for an event.

While brainstorming centerpiece ideas, I went rummaging through the junk treasures.  I found 3 candlesticks... silver with mirrors and I knew they'd make PERFECT centerpieces.  I originally planned to place tissue paper poms on top similar to how I've done in the past but instead, I decided to make a feather-y centerpiece.

Supplies
2 boas
3 candle sticks
3 large Styrofoam balls
Hot glue
Trash bag

Steps
1. Use your boa to eyeball how much you will need per Styrofoam ball.  Do not worry with covering the bottom of the Styrofoam ball completely.

2. Use the trash bag as a work surface (cutting feathers is messy) and cut the boa to the desired length.

3. Use the glue gun to adhere the boa around the Styrofoam ball.

4.  Fill in any spaces by gluing down the feathers.

5.  Place a dab of glue on top of your candle stick (or vase) to hold your feather pom in place.

VOILA!


An easy and fabulous centerpiece... Please note, this was not one of my more affordable centerpieces, here's a breakdown:

3 Styrofoam balls - $13/each
2 Boas - $10/each
Candle sticks - $0 because I had them on hand. Brand new, however, they cost $9, $13 and $17 each.

Total (not including, glue and trash bags): $88 - $59(candle sticks) = $39... Which isn't as bad as it could be, right?!

Tomorrow, I'll show you the entire space so be sure to come back!

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Sunday, January 20, 2013

Better - The 30th.

Today, January 20th 2013, marks the end of my roaring 20's and the start of a better me.

I've outlived people I never thought would pass away.  I know people who would give anything to have their loved ones live to see this birthday... On the flip side, I've watched friends dreadfully countdown to the day they say farewell to 29 and I'm happy to report there will be NONE of that for me. 

Put it like this, if 30 were a house guest, I'd have my home spotless, my fridge stocked and my best outfit on awaiting her arrival.  I would hug that heffa like a long lost loved one...

30, I'm ready for our embrace.

I've spent my adult life giving - to my husband, to my daughter, to my family, to my friends, to my clients, to people I barely know...


Don't get me wrong, I love to give and I love my family with all I have... The 30 year old me says I need to love myself a little more.  

I need to take better care of me.  I need to make serious strides towards becoming a better me.

I've held off on sharing my 2013 resolution until today.  Rather than the traditional resolution, I've decided to adopt a few words into my vocabulary for 2013.  After all, it is the year of my 30th.

RISK.

I'm going to take more of them... I'm going to live comfortably in my own skin.  I'm going to do what is best for me and mine without the burden of explaining decisions I make (I am 30 for goodness sake!).  

Yep, I'm going to take more risks.

CONFIDENCE.

I'm going to spend less time second-guessing myself, comparing myself to others and imposing impossibilities on myself.  I'm going to be the person I want to be MORE often.

I'm going to be confident.


BEAUTIFUL.

Yep, I am that word (OMG! Am I that word?).  I've always been the person to use my personality and smarts to get what I need.  I've also been the first to clown myself and to negate my physical attributes because I never wanted anyone to be able to say THAT'S what got me anything.  At 30, I realize I don't need anything but God.  He made me perfect so why ignore regular maintenance?  I've learned, if you negate something long enough it'll starve to death.

  This year, I'm going to commit to feeling beautiful more often.  I'm going to take the time to learn more about beauty-full stuff (is that what it's called?).  I won't gasp at spending money on myself (wait, is it on clearance? NO?! Then I ain't buying it...but I'll buy a $75 cardigan for my kid to wear twice.  Something is wrong with that picture!!).

When I feel good about myself I have better days and I'm a happier person... This year and beyond, I'm going to feel beautiful.

...

Have you made your resolution?  


If not, I challenge you to join me on this journey to become a better US

I've made a list of tangible goals to ensure this journey can be documented.  I'll update it periodically and I can't wait to share tips, products and stumbling blocks along the way... Here goes:


Ya know, it's not easy to acknowledge your faults.  To admit you don't always feel pretty, your house isn't always clean, you feel the need to defend decisions, you compare yourself to others, etc.  It's just not.  I have to admit, though, I do feel empowered simply by sharing my shortcomings with you...  Maybe my embracing 30 with the mission to become a better me will help someone make a commitment to improve also.

No other DIY project can offer as much reward!

So, how can you change for the better?

O and feel free to send lots of birthday love in the comments!!!

Happy birthday to me :)

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Friday, January 18, 2013

Made In Paris - The Food

I've always been a fan of individual servings... I love how they look and how they make it easy to account for every guest.  For the Made In Paris buffet, I wanted to have tasty food without compromising the pretty presentation.  I wanted pieces of France to be evident but knew French cuisine isn't a crowd pleaser...  Also, because this was a co-ed shower, I needed food to sustain manly appetites but still look cute.

Keep in mind, the shower was scheduled for 11:30 a.m.  With set-up the night before and an early scheduled start time, I knew I wouldn't have time to COOK and BAKE things myself.  As a result, I found ways to make it easier on me and here's what I came up with:


Menu.

Mini Meatball Subs (recipe coming soon!).

Chicken Salad with Panera Bread(Sheena's fave)
Mini baking cups held pretzels.

Mini Yogurt Parfaits

Individual servings of veggies (just add the dressing to the bottom of the cup and slice your veggies) for an easy-to-carry treat!

Decor.



Would you believe I stuck one of mom's large Eiffel towers on top of a chip bowl that I covered with a tutu to get the look in the above photo? Always works!

I slid mini pancakes, fresh strawberries, grapes and bananas onto a kabob then sprinkled with powdered sugar and chocolate syrup to create the perfect brunch menu item!

I used the above picture holders for menu cards - they came in packs of multiple holders and were a fraction of the cost as the holders at Michael's.  



I also used picture frames (that I filled with scrapbook paper and stickers) to unify the space and to make a subtle BABY shower statement.

The Recap.

  White serveware allowed the food to pop and really gave a clean presentation.  Quality decor items and fluffy half poms made this large wall and table fabulous without the nonsense of cheesy decor.  Aside from those items, the food itself, in mini portions, was cute and filling!



I can't wait to share the next tutorial with you.  The centerpieces really made a statement!

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Thursday, January 17, 2013

Made In Paris - Half Poms.

Sometimes, I feel like I'm ahead of the trends.  Yea, that's right. I *like* AM the trend.  What?! Welcome to my island, lol.  It's a place where I'm the bomb, where my ideas are *like* boss AND where I encourage others to feel the same way about their talents and blessings too.  Now, back to the topic...

No, seriously. 

I created a craft album and started documenting my crafts, get this, 5 years ago.  While other folks used facebook to post pictures of people(I did that too), I was taking pictures of brown bag lunches at my kid's birthday party, get this, 5 years ago. 

Disclaimer:  Now, this could TOTALLY be all in my head but... As we just discussed, my island, my thoughts.
All of a sudden, it seemed everyone became an event planner.  Everyone was taking pictures of their brown bag lunches at birthday parties and posting them on facebook.  Some of my signature event things were seen in other people's albums, on other people's kids... What the--

SURELY, I'm not the only one with a bright idea and everyone is entitled to do what's best for them and I'm excited to drool over other people's pics and such...

I do, however, remember when it felt like it was just me and Martha.  All alone on a swarovski crystal boat floating on Shirley Temple seas heading to Fabulous Island...  I remember when people were AMAZED at the tissue paper poms I made for Munch's nursery 6 years ago(which in pom years is FOREVER ago).

SHOOOOoOoooooOOot.  Now, everyone has poms at their parties.  It's like a sign that you're not the average hostess.  DUH! 

...

For the Made In Paris shower, I knew I wanted poms but I didn't want them to hang from the ceiling.  After seeing 2,936,427,856 events with lop-sided poms sloppily dangling from the ceiling, I have a pet peeve with them.  I actually started putting them on tops of tall jars as an innovative decor item.  How could I make this now-typical party decor item DIFFERENT for me?

I know!  Split them in half and adhere them to the wall for a textured effect. OMG! That's it!

I purchased a variety of pom kits from Party City. 

1.  Split the poms in half.

2.  Cut the enclosed ribbon(or wire depending on the package) in half.

3.  Fluff according to package directions.  Remember, you're only going to fluff a semi-sphere so leave the back flat.  It will make hanging the decoration easier.

4.  Tape to the wall...

Aren't they gorgeous?



So, for every 1 pom, you get 2 half poms. SAY WHAT?!  How awesome is THAT for budget?! 

Twice the bang for your buck also meant twice the labor... Ugh.  That means I had 30 half poms that required fluffing?! Allow me to introduce and thank my lady in waiting, Lauren.  Dom's cousin made herself available to help with whatever I needed... TO INCLUDE fluffing poms for O... about 2 hours.  She was a great help and we chatted until LATE into the night while setting up.



The half poms were a part of the feature wall above the brunch buffet... Tomorrow, we'll talk about the food and buffet table decor. See you there!

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Minnie Favor Bag Ideas and A FREE Printable!

Last week's Wordless Wednesday post was a sneak peek into the fabulous first birthday party hosted for god baby 'Lani. I know. ...

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