Monday, August 20, 2012

Conversations in our Home

Quite a few things have been happening around our house over the past month. Today, I'm going to write about some of those changes and the conversations surrounding those changes. Why? To serve as a reminder and an encouragement to myself.

Conversation #1 - Wedding Weight Gain
Participants: Jon and myself
Marriage is great for a lot of reasons, but in our experience the waistline is not one of them. After coming home from a long weekend away (months ago), Jon and I both realized the amount of weight we'd gained since getting married. We decided it couldn't be healthy, so we did what any rational person would do: make a bet! We bet each other that whoever could lose x number of pounds first would get $100. Now I realize our money is all the same, but still having $100 to go buy some new clothes with sounded pretty awesome!

Conversation #2 - Less Gluten
Participants: Myself and a good friend (then later me and myself)
We have some good friends who are reducing the amount of gluten they eat. They are getting creative and using spaghetti squash instead of actual pasta, making lasagna with zucchini instead of noodles, etc. She has said she doesn't want to completely restrict herself, but be more purposeful in the choices they make. So it got me thinking. I love bread. I mean, I really love it, but I might be able to do a gluten-less diet.

Conversation #3 - Paleo, Gluten, and Poison
Participants: Me
We have friends who have decided to adhere to a Paleo diet. If you haven't heard of it, it's basically eating the way hunter-gatherers did in the Old Stone Age (also called Paleolithic Age): fruits and veggies, grass-fed meat, eggs, nuts, but no dairy or grain. After reading about their decision to go Paleo, I started researching it, which led me to a search on gluten. And then the internal dialogue started. While I've generally thought I had a desire to eat healthy, I came to realize my perceptions were way different from reality. I'll spare you the nitty gritty details of my internal "duh" moment. It will suffice to say I realized I was poisoning myself, and I was inspired to stop.

I understand that may sound a little extreme or harsh, but it was the realization I came to for myself and how I was not taking care of my body.

Conversation #4 - Let's look into a gym
Participants: Jon and myself
The other day Jon brought up the possibility of us joining a gym, and my insides yelled, "Yes, yes, yes!" But since I wanted to do due diligence, I simply replied, "Yes, we can look into it." Jon did research on about 7 different gyms, created a spreadsheet to compare, and we went to tour one: Planet Fitness. It's about 8 miles from our house, but all freeway, and an incredible deal! I told Jon I didn't want to join right after taking a tour, so we didn't. That was Saturday. By Sunday afternoon, we were members of Planet Fitness and toughing it out through our first workout.

Some of the changes we've made are apparent in our conversations above, but here are the rest.

  • We are slowly changing our diets. We have food that I'm not crazy about in our pantry, but I'm even less crazy about wasting it, so we are slowly phasing it out.
  • We are reducing the amount of gluten we eat. This could be anything from substituting zucchini for noodles in lasagna or making cookies without flour. At the same time, I've promised Jon that we won't go crazy overboard, so once in a while we'll still go out for pizza (we'll share and order a salad now though). And he still gets pretzels in his lunch.
  • I'm buying more organic produce. When I ordered a Bountiful Basket last, I made it organic. When I grocery shop, I'm choosing the ones I think it's important to have organic (grapes, apples, potatoes, etc.). Again, we aren't going overboard on this one.
  • We are eating less processed food. I am literally standing in the grocery store counting the number of ingredients in the items I'm buying. If it's more than 5, chances are it's going back on the shelf. I'm not being a super stickler about this one, but I am trying to be more conscious of it.
  • We are eating out less. It's really easy for me to get home from work, think I'm too tired to cook, look at what food coupons we have, and convince myself we should go out. But now, I think about not knowing exactly what's gone into the food I order at a restaurant and it kinda weirds me out, so eating out is less appealing now.
  • And, I am drinking way more water. I'm aiming for approximately 5 refillable cups worth in a day, and most days I'm getting pretty close. I also am drinking one cup full of water before I even think about having coffee in the morning (and I eat my breakfast before drinking coffee).
After a few weeks, I can tell a difference in the way I feel and my attitude. Overall, I feel healthier. I know it will take time for the weight to come off, but I feel lighter, brighter, and better. Unhealthy food doesn't sound as good. For example, the new Pizza Hut commercial pretty much makes me want to hurl. (A close-up shot of the pizza does not make it look better, it just makes the grease that much more apparent.) It doesn't feel like we've made earth-shattering changes, but they are starting to add up.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Leftovers into Lunches

The other night I made Fancy Mac and Cheese from the Pioneer Woman Cookbook for dinner. It was gooey and cheesy and pure deliciousness. And rich, oh was it rich! Rich like...oh nevermind, I'm not clever enough to finish that sentence. I tried to healthy it up a little = turkey bacon, whole wheat macaroni, and less butter. Plus I altered the roux a little, didn't add the eggs, and didn't bake it (just mixed it all together in the sauce).

It made a HUGE amount of mac and cheese. I scaled the recipe back (by about a third) and we still could be eating on it for a week straight.

Fact #1: Around here, we aren't great about eating leftovers (one of the big challenges as a new wife is learning to cook for just the two of us or maybe enough to have leftovers for one day). After our Fancy Mac dinner, we were left with a big ole' bowl of leftovers. I hate hate hate throwing food out, so I always try to eat whatever we have left in our fridge. Which leads to Fact #2: I don't like eating the same thing for lunch every day of any given week. It's boring. Boring like a wanna-be cool kids party. (Look at me with the similes today)

Enter: Ziploc divided lunch containers.

I knew what was going in the big compartment - clearly the Fancy Mac, but that left me two more compartments to fill. I decided on roasted mini carrots and cinnamon apples, both things I knew would reheat fairly well and would be delicious warm. But you could easily do any roasted veggies and pretty much any sort of baked fruit, fruit cobbler, fruit crisp. I was thinking simple and as unprocessed as possible.

To roast veggies, simply lay them in a single layer on a cookie sheet or baking pan of some sort, drizzle some olive oil, throw on salt and pepper and roast in a 400 degree oven. The carrots took about 25 minutes. For my cinnamon apples, I simply sliced up 3 apples, put them in a baking dish, put cinnamon and a dash of nutmeg on them and baked them in the same oven as the carrots. The apples took about the same amount of time, but mine came out a little mushy (think closer to applesauce than baked apples). I was totally fine with this and of course they still taste great! You could follow the recipe for the filling from my Apple Crisp recipe as well. Seriously, so much freedom!

After letting everything bake and come to room temperature, I set up a little assembly line and filled my lunch trays. Carrots in one compartment, apples in another, and Fancy Mac in the big compartment. Now I'll have convenient freezer meals I can grab on my way out the door and I'll know exactly what's in them! There are definitely mornings that I need something that quick, but I hate buying frozen meals with all the sodium and preservatives I know are in them. And, I won't have to eat the same thing for lunch every day of the week! Double win!

Since I didn't mention this anywhere else, I got six lunches out of my leftovers. The original recipe serves 12, since I scaled back ours by a third, we should've had 8 servings out of ours. We each ate a bowl Sunday night, and I got six lunches = 8 servings! Right on the money!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

"Hey, That's My Rawhide!"

This isn't a crafty post or a yummy recipe. Nope, today folks, we are going plain ole' funny story here on the blog! This morning Sparky got to have a play-date with my mom's dog Kiva. The tone for this play-date was set very early in the morning.

Sparky has bounded upstairs. Stairs are so exciting when you don't have them in your own home, and they're such an adventure when you only weight 8.9 pounds! I've chased after him to make sure he doesn't wreak any havoc.

Meanwhile, Kiva walks over to Sparky's kennel and takes a rawhide out.

Sparky comes back downstairs and notices. He promptly marches over and proceeds to steal the rawhide from Kiva.

Sparky, having the puppy attention span he does, walks around downstairs to see what else there is for him to explore. Kiva, seeing her chance, starts chewing on the rawhide once again. Hearing the sound of rawhide being chewed, Sparky bounds over to steal back his rawhide. He chews on it for a few seconds, loses interest, and wanders off again. Kiva sees her opportunity again, and chews on the rawhide. Sparky bounds back over to steal his rawhide from Kiva's grip. And so the story goes a few more times back and forth. Now Sparky has lost interest in his rawhide and instead gained interest in chasing his tail.

Every time Sparky steals the rawhide, poor Kiva just looks at me and lets him take it. She's so good. He's such a brat!

The saga continues...

Thinking I could outsmart one or both of these canines, I grab the second rawhide out of the kennel. See, I saw this coming long before we even left the house and made sure we had two rawhides with us. I gave Kiva the second rawhide, at which Sparky began to lunge out of my arms. I told him he couldn't be selfish and gave him the other rawhide, which appeased him momentarily. For a few fleeting seconds, Sparky was happily gnawing at his rawhide on the couch while Kiva calmly chewed on the floor. Oh, but the Sparky bub is a clever one. It didn't take him long to figure out that Kiva was still chewing on one of his toys. So he leapt from the couch in an attempt to reclaim his territory. do you chew two rawhides at once? don't. You hoard one under your paws while chewing on the other. If Kiva happens to get her paws on the second, you steal it back, leave the first unprotected, and the story begins again...

Finally, there was peace and contentment. Rawhide stealing had ceased and each was happy with what they had been given.

Friday, July 13, 2012

New Office Lamp

This morning, I set out to find a new lamp for our office. Last night, I commandeered the old office lamp for use in our bedroom (pictures coming later!). So it left us with only the ceiling fan and ceiling light in the office. Oh, the horror! Don't get me wrong, I love my ceiling fans - especially here in Arizona where I can run ceiling fans on high and keep our thermostat a tad higher...BUT, overhead lighting can be so harsh. So, I love a good lamp.

I came home with this beauty lamp and no real plan as to how I was going to fix it up.

Then, I was catching up on blog reading doing something very important and productive and pinspiration struck! I remembered that my best friend had pinned a pair of gorgeous DIY lamps, and I went running for the hardware store. Seriously, you think I'm kidding, I actually ran through my house I was so excited about this one.

First things first, this shade was disgusting. I started ripping the trim off and dust was flying. And the stain you see above...

So I took the shade outside, after ripping some of the fabric and trim off, and gave it a little spray paint love. Looking back, this wasn't necessary at all, but something in me thought that if you saw through the burlap at all, I'd rather it be white than cream. Yeah, sometimes I'm weird. Just go with it.

Sparky was totally content with my spray painting craziness - he's such a great pup!

I couldn't find Krylon looking glass spray in my hardware store, so I opted for Rustoleum metallic finish in Chrome. After a quick google search in the paint aisle (thank goodness for smartphones), I was confident that it would do pretty much the same thing. So I grabbed a squirt bottle and the spray paint, taped up the lamp, and went to town! I sprayed some water, sprayed some paint, sprayed some water, sprayed some get the point. In the end, this is what I had. The texture is completely like mercury glass, but it is still pretty cool.

I wondered what a mix of black acrylic paint and water would do...if anyone's tried it let me know. I think it would give you the deeper color typically seen in mercury glass.

While the base was drying, I pulled out some burlap from my stash, plugged in the hot glue gun, and tried to contain my giddy self. Here is a good in depth tutorial for covering a lamp shade. But basically, I ran a line of hot glue down the lampshade (perpendicular to the openings), affixed one of the edges of my burlap, continued to wrap and glue, then folded over the opposite edge (to give it a finished look) and glued it down. I trimmed the excess, folded over the edges to the inside of the shade and glued as I went. Burlap was super forgiving to work with - it's a great material if you want to attempt covering your own lampshade!

And after a couple hours, I ended up with this!

Anyone else doing some Pinterest projects this weekend? I'd love to hear all about them!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Triple Knock Out!

Today was a project kind of day, a three project kind of day to be exact. I have been feeling the need to get projects finished lately, so a crafting sort of day was just what I needed.

For quite some time (about a year) I've been wanting to do something with our map from Costa Rica. Jon planned a wonderful surprise honeymoon to destination Costa Rica! Since we rented a car while we were there (our resort was 3 hours from San Jose), we needed a map to get around. It was such a fun and memorable trip, that I wanted to use our map somehow, but in a cool and useful way. I'd been searching Pinterest (where else?!) for map projects when I came across these pretty little things.

Perfect! I went to Habitat for Humanity's ReStore in search of tiles for the project and found some for $0.15 each! This project cost a total of $0.60 - makes my thrifty heart sing. I simply turned my map over (so the big map was face down), positioned my tile where I wanted it, traced around the tile, cut it out, and used Mod Podge to affix it to the tile.

I found that if I wanted to capture a certain part of the map (like the city we stayed in), it was easier to hold the map up with the tile behind it in the direction of a window. Then I could see the outline of the tile and what exactly would be on that coaster.

I am going to add little felt pieces to the bottom, so they don't scratch the furniture, but I'm really pleased with how they turned out!

I am a big fan of reusing glass bottles and jars - BIG fan! I did the candy corn bottles for fall, the snow bottles for Christmas, and now I have a Fourth of July arrangement too. Total cost of this project = $2.50! I had the spray paint on hand, so I thoroughly cleaned my bottles, sprayed them their respective colors, and let them dry. I ran to the dollar store for red carnation bouquets and some floral foam for the white jar. I cut my bouquets down a little, so they were the right height. To cut the bouquets, I used regular scissors on the plastic then just bent the wire to snap it. I used some burlap I already had to create a band around the jar.

This will definitely be a nice sight to see every time I come in the door.

The last project I finished really just involved moving furniture into place since I'd painted everything the last two nights. I picked up these chairs at a garage sale (I think I paid $10 or $15 for both). The lady I bought them from knew the Monti family and the chairs came out of one of their restaurants. When I first bought them, I removed their cushions and painted them a bright raspberry pink color. We moved them to the new house, but husband wasn't a huge fan of the pink. I was going to donate them, when inspiration struck. Well, more accurately inspiration struck after I finished the table for $2.00 from ASU surplus store.

So here's how the whole thing came together. I used Mod Podge and a whole bunch of pages from my craft book to cover the table. By the way, I totally remember these tables from outside the Memorial Union! Then I spray painted over a lace placemat in a couple spots. Then I spray painted my pink chairs this lovely navy blue. Besides running out of spray paint halfway through the second chair, this project was so easy!

The table and chairs definitely complete the nook area off our master bedroom. For now, we'll have to settle for sitting out there early in the morning or really late at night. No way I'll be pulling myself up at that table in the 112 degree heat! Speaking of the heat, this is how we're handling it around here. Yep, holed up inside with all the fans on (trying not to turn the AC down too low)

Hope you all are enjoying your Wednesday and the first official day of summer!