Sunday, May 4, 2014

Healthy Menu Ideas

30 days ago, I started a health and nutrition program in an attempt to stop eating junk, stop drinking soda, shed a few pounds and just feel better. I've been amazed at how quickly I've lost pounds (7 to be exact) and inches (19 of them!) and not only that, how much better I feel. Have you ever been at a place in your life where you just feel good? Where you wake up energized, sleep like a rock, don't rely on coffee or soda to get you through the day and don't find yourself craving and giving in to every sweet treat that comes your way? I'm finally there and it feels so good. The girl who used to have to run to the store, fast food place or gas station daily to grab that fountain soda or the girl who needed some form of chocolate every day just to get that little boost - that girl is gone. Now, don't get me wrong, I still love chocolate, I still think Dr. Pepper is super yum and I'm not against having a treat now and then. This is real life and it is unrealistic to think you'll go forever without a piece of cake and at a birthday party or a hotdog at a ball game or a soda and a piece of pizza at your favorite pizza spot. I haven't gone crazy. But what I have learned is that those things are in fact treats. Not everyday necessities. And when you are putting good things into your body like God designed, your body functions as it should.

I've shared a bit about that on my facebook page and have had a few requests the past few weeks to post a menu or what I'm eating/cooking now. I have to say, it's not drastically different to what I've always cooked, I have just made some alterations to recipes and have cut certain things out. I'll also say that our kids eat what I make. They don't always love it (although most of the time they do), but they still eat it. I'm not making a meal for Mike and I and then something completely different for the girls. Make your kids try things - veggies, salads, etc. will not kill them. Macie doesn't just love green beans but when I make them, they are on her plate and she eats them. Tonight, Mabrie didn't want her watermelon, but she had to take 3 bites of it before she was allowed to get up. Often my girls will turn their noses up at a meal and then when they sit down and take a bite, they end up loving it and cleaning their plates. My mom was the same way with us, and I'm convinced that's why we would eat Chinese, Italian, American, Mexican, veggies, salads, fruits, and more - because if mom made it, we ate it. Period. I vividly remember when she'd make something like stuffed peppers thinking and probably voicing "GAG ME - I hate stuffed peppers!!" Guess what Chrissy ate for dinner that night? Yep, stuffed peppers. I lived to tell the tale. So will my girls. So will your kids.

So, here are some healthy menu ideas and I'll try to link you to the recipes or the blog where I found them.

Chicken and Lime Soup - Click HERE for the recipe - this is a great option for a cool, rainy night OR for Cinco De Mayo.

Copycat Chipotle Grill Burrito Bowls - Click HERE - these are a favorite go to for me! I enjoy Mexican food, but it can be SO fattening and heavy. These are perfect and light! I also used this rice last night for the chicken quesadillas that I made. I'll post that recipe separately.

Chicken Pizza - Click HERE - this is a great option for pizza lovers! It can be made even healthier by using a thin, whole wheat crust. Serve with a salad and you will have a satisfying meal with a lot less calories than take out pizza.

This one doesn't have a link, but I love to marinate chicken in olive oil, lemon juice, fresh rosemary, garlic, salt and pepper. Toss it on the grill and serve with a bunch of roasted veggies. My favorites are zucchini, squash, yukon gold potatoes, red onion, broccoli all cut up into bite size pieces, toss with olive oil, salt, pepper, maybe some other seasonings of your choice and roast for about 20-30 minutes on 400 degrees. These taste so good with the grilled chicken. Again, a side salad is a great option with this.

I got a fantastic recipe recently for Chicken Lettuce Wraps (Asian style). Take 3-4 chicken breasts, lightly coat in olive oil, salt and pepper and place on cookie sheet. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until done. Let cool for a few minutes and in a bowl add some chopped cilantro, shredded carrots and green onions. Using a food chopper, finely chop chicken (or shred with 2 forks). Add chicken to bowl and toss with a small amount of Asian Peanut sauce. Just enough to hold it all together. Serve in Bibb Lettuce cups. These are great and my kids loved them!

One of my favorite blogs for recipes is One Lovely Life - she has a whole section of gluten and dairy free recipes and is even compiling recipes for people that eat Paleo or Whole 30 - click here for the link

Another blog I love is Skinny Taste. She has Weight Watcher points listed for each recipe and has a great compilation of those things we all love to eat and has changed them up to be healthier. You can find so many good ideas on this blog!

If you are looking for good lunch options, some things I enjoy are tuna salad served over a spring lettuce mix and using Olive Oil and Red Wine vinegar for the dressing. A little salt and pepper and you have a filling and yummy lunch.

Cook with rice, veggies, fruits, salads, lean meats, fish, shrimp, as often as possible. I even like a good grilled burger now and then and find that it's great wrapped in a Bibb lettuce cup as opposed to a bun. You can jazz it up a million ways and skip the bread for a lighter meal. Don't want fries with it, how about dice up and roast a sweet potato for a side? If you're making pasta, use whole wheat. Or better yet, make spaghetti squash - yum!!

There are a million ways to make your favorite foods better for you - just think it through a little and see where you can save calories and fat here and there. Every little bit will make a difference. Make a fruit salad, slice up a watermelon for an after dinner bite of something sweet. Get some vanilla greek yogurt, add some honey, granola and strawberries for a yummy sweet treat in place of ice cream. Need something crunchy? Baby carrots and hummus are SO good!! Try it! I hope this has helped give you all a few ideas and a few places to find good options. Feel free to comment if you have questions or want other recipe ideas - I'll do my best. I am no expert of course, but I would love to help you find recipes that your family will love and that you can walk away from feeling good about!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Favorite Things Thursday

I see a lot of blogs doing Favorite Things Friday, but since I'm creative and a "think outside the box" kinda girl, I'm doing my favorite things on Thursday. You'll see me in Forbes Magazine soon.

The past few months, I've tried/bought some new products that I really just love and thought I'd share those things with you today. So, here goes!

1. Jamberry Nail Wraps

I know, I know. I mention them a lot. And it's not just because I sell them. They really have been so great for me! I had a party for a friend of mine back in late November. She sent me some samples to try out and I had my doubts that they'd really work for me. (I'm a nail picker/biter/tapper/peeler - you name it, if it's bad for your nails, I do it). I wasn't sure if I could put these on and keep them on - since I'm CONSTANTLY messing with my nails. I try painting my nails and within an hour they are chipped. And I'm too stinking cheap to go to the nail salon every 3 weeks to keep my nails looking like perfection. Plus, my thumb nail is totally jacked up and I don't want the nail people asking me about and showing their entire nail family, my whackadoodle nail (they've done this before). So, I thought I'd try these nail wraps and see if they work for someone like me. They did - in fact, for the first time in my life, my nails are growing and looking so much better. I have stopped picking and biting my nails and these have really been awesome for me. So, I started selling them because they are so much fun and so easy to use. They even have Jamberry Juniors for little girls! They stay on your nails for 10 days to 2 weeks and you get at least 2 full manicures out of each wrap sheet. So, for $15 per sheet (or $7.50 or less per manicure), they are a great deal! I love them - I really think you would, too! If they work for me and my horrid nail habits, they will work for anyone! You can shop them by clicking HERE!

2. Bare Minerals Warmth Face Color/Contouring Powder

I love a face bronzer. And I mean LOVE. I'm Paley Palerson so I need something to brighten up this skin. I've tried tons of bronzers and while this isn't an actual bronzer, it gives you a nice pop of color on your face and contours your face really well. And it can be used on all skin tones. It's awesome. Get it, you and your tan skin will thank me. And who couldn't use some color in this Arctic winter weather we are all having.

3. High Waisted Fleece Lined Leggings from Windsor

If you are friends with me on Facebook, you might remember that I asked about leggings a week or so ago. I may have found the greatest leggings in all the land. And they are a measly $8.90! Are you kidding me?! They are all the things that I wanted in leggings - and more. I didn't know that I'd want high waisted/wide banded leggings. But, oh, how I do. The high waist is just glorious. It's like maternity leggings without being maternity. They cover every little bump and bulge around the waist and allow shirts to flow over them so nicely. And they are fleece lined. Which is just pure glory when you live in the land of never ending snow. They come in a variety of colors and they are one size fits all - so you don't even have to guess what to order. And if you hate them, you spent $9. But you won't hate them. You'll love them. You'll want to live in them. Trust me.

4. Gain Original Scent Fireworks Scent Boosters

Hello most delicious smelling laundry ever. Toss these babies in the bottom of your washer and enjoy your house and your laundry smelling like a dream. Get your little self to Walmart and get these.

That's it for today. Four great things that I've been loving lately. Do you have any new favorites that you want to share with me? Let me know!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Mystery Party!

So, most of you that know me, know that about a month or so ago I started selling Jamberry Nail Wraps. I had a party for a good friend of mine and then decided that I'd sign up to sell because I loved the product so much! If you are like me, painted nails lasts about a day (if I'm lucky) before chipping off. And I rarely get to a nail salon to get them done, so these wraps were just perfect for me. They stay on wonderfully, are easy to apply and come in the cutest designs that I can hardly pick which ones I want to put on.

I heard about a fun party idea and decided to give one a try! It's called "Mystery Hostess" online party. Here's how it works:

Click the link below to "Shop for this party"
Check out all of the great designs (Jamberry Juniors are perfect for those little girls in your life)
Place your order (remember always buy 3 get 1 free)
Once the party total reaches $100, you are entered into the Mystery Hostess drawing.

What does that mean for you? Well, the party is open today, Sunday, January 26th-Friday evening, January 31st - any order you place under the party link will enter you in the drawing and to make it better, each wrap you order gets you one entry into the drawing! The lucky person will win 100% of the party hostess rewards! Which means free product, half price items and great discounts might be in your future! You earn all the rewards of having an in-home party, without doing any work! So easy and so fun!

A couple things to remember: You don't have to actually "know" me to order. All orders are done online and are shipped directly from Jamberry to your home. Jamberry is always buy 3 wraps get 1 free! You can combine the Jamberry Juniors and regular size wraps in that deal. Jamberry Juniors are GREAT for girls ages 3-11. Each set of nail wraps comes with enough for 2 full manicures and 1 pedicure, depending on nail length. And you get more than that with the Jamberry Juniors! These make super fun gifts - Valentine's Day, Birthdays, teacher gifts, etc. The wraps will stay on 10 days to 2 weeks.

Here are some fun designs out right now!

Have fun and good luck! Click the link below to place your order today!


Friday, January 24, 2014

Life Lately

Hi. It's cold here. I know, you already know that. But it's insanely cold. The kind of cold that makes your fingers shrink and your wedding ring spin around on your hand. The kind that makes you lose your breath when you step outside. That kind of cold. And while there are moments that I want to pack up our car and move to Miami and escape this craziness, it really isn't THAT bad. Sure, we can't play outside and we have to put on 10 layers of stuff before we leave the house, but this weather is so widespread, that even places that typically don't have snow/ice/cold temps are experiencing it this winter. It's just a bad winter and there's no way around that. Al Gore and his global warming. When the wind chill is in the negatives for a solid 2 weeks, I think we can all rest assured that Al is a doofus.

So enough about that. Cold schmold. Let's move on.

Our family is adjusting to life in our new town nicely. The girls are doing well at their new school and have made friends. They like their teachers a lot and according to Maddie the school lunch at her school is awesome, so I mean that says something, right? I couldn't pay them to eat lunch at their old school - not sure why except that they claimed it was "the most disgusting food EVER". We may have a little drama at our house from time to time. :)

Mabrie started going to preschool at our church. She goes three days a week for 2 1/2 hours each day. She really enjoys it and it's a nice break for me to run a few errands or come home and get things done around the house. She's in a class with 3 little boys and the first day her teacher said that Mabrie hold her own with the boys. HA! Yes, if there's anything Mabes can do, it's "hold her own". She's a feisty one.

Mike's job is going well and he truly loves his new role. He has always loved working for this company, but this new job is exactly what he's wanted to do for several years and it's great seeing him in his element and excited to get up and go to work every day. He works so hard to provide for our family and for that, I'm very thankful.

We have found a great church and joined a small group. I've also started going to their MOPS (Mother's of Preschoolers) group and have met some new friends through that. I've had lunch dates, play dates and am planning get togethers for the next couple of weeks. I joke that I'm like a tiger - I pounce on anyone that will be my friend - HA! All kidding aside, I just have learned from all our moving one very important thing - if you want friends, you gotta get out there and make an effort. Join activities, join a church and more importantly a small group, talk to people and get to know them. I read a quote right after we moved here and before we knew one single person that really stuck with me. It said "You have friends everywhere, you just haven't met them yet" - that is SO true. I think back on all of our moves and all the friends we have made in so many places and I'm so thankful for each of them. We have friends from our very first move in the Joplin area that are truly some of our dearest friends. Mike still talks to and texts his buddy from there on a weekly basis. They have a special friendship that will last the test of time. Then there's our Arkansas people - my goodness, after 9 years, those people are family. They have been there with us through 2 of our 3 pregnancies, served with us at church, kept our girls countless times when we needed a date night or had to leave overnight, invited us over on holidays when we weren't traveling to see family, and just loved our family - and so much more. Those friends will forever hold a special place in our hearts and I have no doubts that Arkansas will always be "home" to my kids. And now we are a little over a month into our new lives in Indiana and what do you know, we are making friends and forming new relationships that I have no doubt will be a blessing to us. They already are. I say all of that to say this - if you are in the middle of a huge change in your life, maybe you are moving, maybe you aren't moving but you are starting a new job with all new people, maybe your kids are switching schools, or going off to college soon - don't worry! God will provide! You really DO have friends everywhere. You just need to meet them. And you will, just like we have time and time again.

Speaking of friends - 1 week from today, I'm meeting a few of them for a little weekend girl's trip!! WOO HOO!!!! I'm SO stinking excited! Pretty sure we will eat too much, laugh like a bunch of fools and talk our heads off. I haven't had a girl's weekend in so long and I'm so ready. One funny thing - I was telling the girls about it and how I'd be gone Fri-Sun. Maddie goes, "Who's gonna fix our hair?" I said that daddy would have to do it on Saturday and Sunday and she goes, "WE ARE GOING TO CHURCH AFTER DADDY FIXES OUR HAIR??" Then Macie chimed in and said, "I'm just not taking a shower until you get home!" HA! I assured them that it would be ok. They might not look like they do when I fix it, but that daddy wouldn't let them look like the 3 stooges all weekend. They crack me up!

Have a good weekend everyone - time to get out from under my warm blanket and do some laundry.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

School's out for...Winter?!

The question I'm beginning to ask myself - will my children EVER go back to school? This snowstorm has caused them to miss Tuesday-Friday of this week. Now, that wouldn't be TOO bad if this didn't butt up to Christmas break, which butted up to moving and missing the last week of school in Arkansas. So as of right now, my girls have been out of school for 4 full weeks. FOUR! Now that is one looonnngggg Christmas break. We have been so sick of being at home that the last 3 days (against my better judgement) I strapped them in the car and headed out onto the icy, snowy roads and headed to the YMCA, Kroger, Michael's and/or Walmart. What else is a mom to do? We can only be in this house so much before we all start losing our minds. And patience. And to make it more awesome, it started snowing again this afternoon and once again - no school tomorrow.

Really, Indiana. REALLY?! Come on - let's agree that that's enough snow for one season and move along to warmer temps. And by warmer, I'm not even being unreasonable. I understand that it's January in the north. Can we agree that mid-30's is cold enough?
-40 wind chills are for Eskimos. Do I look like and Eskimo? No! Save that crud for Alaska.

So now, I have to figure out what to do with these 3 tomorrow that involves as little driving as possible and staying warm. That will probably mean going to the YMCA again and that's fine because they love it. And I was so happy to be out of the house yesterday that I ran my fastest miles ever. I did 2 miles in under 18 minutes. Of course I was listening to Fall Out Boy and so I was in fact on FIIRREEE!! Can anyone listen to that song and not feel the need to fist pump? I really had to hold back while on the treadmill otherwise I feared I'd end up going viral on YouTube where people laugh and make fun of me.

My girls did get to facetime with their besties today, so that made me happy. I got in on the facetime action with Macie, Ireland and Melissa tonight and it made my heart happy. I love that about technology - we may be states away from each other, but we can still sit and talk face to face and then we don't feel so far away.

I met a sweet girl yesterday while at the Y and we got chatting (I know you're all shocked). She told me about their church and invited us to try it out this Sunday. We plan to do just that. We are excited to find a church home and get involved. Making new friends and feeling a part of the community is so important to us - and a great way to do both of those things is by getting involved in church and a small group. Hoping that God shows us where He wants us to join and serve soon! We are ready!

Another much less important thing that I'm ready for is a cute pair of rain boots. Trudging in and out of the stores the past few days has me thinking that rain boots would be a good thing to own. There's so much snow/slosh that I need shoes that I can just rinse off. I found a couple cute pairs online from Target. I need to order those bad boys soon.

Ok, friends, family, other random people that I don't know but somehow found my blog - good night. I gotta get in bed so I can get up and at 'em tomorrow. Oh yeah, that's right - I don't have to get up and at 'em. Because snow day.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Snow, Snow and more SNOW

In the 3 weeks that we've lived in Indiana, we have had snow on the ground for around 2 1/2 of those weeks. But today, we are getting blasted! We already had 6" on the ground from a few days ago, and now we are due for another 9-14" on top of that. The temps are going to plummet tonight - colder than anything I've ever experienced. Wind chills are something crazy tonight and tomorrow - around -50! I'm pretty sure they faked us out and actually moved us to Alaska. :)

The snow hasn't been too bad because as soon as it snows up here, they are pretty quick to get the roads cleared, so you don't feel trapped inside for days. Thank goodness! As long as I can get out and about, I don't mind seeing snow on the ground.

Mike and the girls shoveled the driveway this morning and then it was play time. They had a ball outside with daddy! If I had a pair of snow boots, I would have joined them. I guess I better buy myself a pair, because it looks like I'll need them.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 Year in Review

2013 has proven to be a great year for our family - one full of blessings, accomplishments, and surprises. I just counted my total blog posts for this year and including this one, I blogged a grand total of 8 times. Yes, eight. I think I just kind of lost the desire to sit down and write about life. Not because of a lack of things to blog about - there has been plenty.

So, to make it as easy as possible, I'm going to just recap our year as best as I can remember. :)

January 2013: The new year started off very normal - finally having a moment to rest and catch my breath after a WILD 2012 Holiday season. We were so busy the months leading up to Christmas and then I was insanely busy with Women's Ministry at FBC Lavaca in November and December that January brought a nice break from the hustle and bustle. School started back and I started back babysitting a sweet boy and life was moving along as normal.

February 2013: Mike and I celebrated 12 amazing years of marriage, Maddie turned 7 years old and we celebrated her birthday at Simple Simon's pizza with a bunch of her friends. We also welcomed a new family member this month - our little Yorkie, Rocco, joined us and we just love him!

March 2013: Macie turned 10 and we enjoyed having the party at Simple Simon's so much, that she chose to have her party there as well.

April 2013: I turned 37 (I know, I know - you all thought I was only 27. HA!), Mike and I ran with some friends in the Primal Challenge Race - 4 miles of mud, dirt and obstacles - it was fun and something I never thought I would actually do! We were enjoying spring and winding down the last several weeks of school looking forward to summer.

May 2013: Mike's family came to visit us and see our new house. We celebrated the last day of school and we were officially ready for summer!

June 2013: DESTIN!! Our favorite vacation spot - we had a wonderful time with my family and made lots of great memories. Always a blessing to be able to get away for a week and lounge at the beach and pool. This month was also a sad month as we said good-bye to our amazing Children's Pastor and his family. They moved to a new church in Virginia and while we were so excited for them - we were so sad to see them go.

July 2013: We celebrated 4th of July with some great friends, traveled to St. Louis and Illinois to see family and Macie did FASdogs (a workout/training program that her school puts on every summer) and we enjoyed the last few weeks of summer break.

August 2013: I ran in the Color Vibe 5k with a bunch of friends - in the rain and cold (was this really August in Arkansas??!), we celebrated Mike's 35th birthday, started back to school and started back to the craziness that is the fall season. Macie was cheering for Pittbull Football again and had practice 2 nights a week, the girls started in a tumbling class and we were running all over town just about every night of the week. I also started training for my first half marathon.

September 2013: Life was as busy as ever. The beginning of the month brought Mabrie's 3rd birthday! We had her party at Goody's yogurt shop and also had a fun celebration at Chuck E Cheese. So hard to believe that she's already 3! She was going to Mother's Day Out 2 days a week and loved her "school". I was the new MOPS coordinator and our meetings started back up this month, Macie was cheering every Saturday, we practiced 2 nights a week, tumbled on Monday nights, church activities on Wednesday nights leaving our only night at home as a family on Fridays. Felt like we were going non-stop.

October 2013: Continued my half marathon training, traveled to St. Louis to celebrate my dad's 70th birthday, competed in my first Crossfit competition and at the very end of the month, Sarah and I ran the half marathon. This is the month that also brought the biggest surprise of our year. The night before the half marathon, we were dropping off our girls to a friend who was keeping them overnight and Mike's cell phone rang. He stepped outside to answer it and in a few minutes was back inside. We told the girls goodbye and hopped in the car to grab dinner before driving to Russelville (about an hour away from home - close to where we were running the half marathon). Mike tells me that it's his boss offering him a job at one of their plants in Fort Wayne, IN. To say I was shocked is an understatement. It was an offer out of the clear blue sky. We knew that some day we might be offered a new position and have to move, but honestly, I thought it would be years away. As soon as Mike told me, I knew we would be moving. While we knew we needed and wanted to pray about it, I knew in my gut what the answer was. I was a bag of emotions - nervous, sad, excited, anxious all rolled up into one. For nearly 9 years, we had made Arkansas our home. We loved our lives in AR. We felt at home there. We had friends that loved us and we loved them dearly. The thought of leaving all of that was so sad, yet, Mike and I both knew that God was calling us to step out in faith, uproot our family and take this job in Indiana. We accepted the job and started the awful process of telling our friends.

November 2013: Mike started his new position and for the first time in our marriage, we were apart for more than just a few days at a time. He was working in Indiana and I was allowing the girls to finish up their semester in Greenwood. We spent every possible moment with our friends - knowing that our time together was getting more limited with each passing day. We traveled to Illinois to celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas with Mike's family. As always, it was a great week. We missed Mike's brother, Taylor, who was (and still is) serving a tour of duty in Afghanistan and are so proud of him and his service to our country. We came home from Thanksgiving week and had just 2 weeks left in Arkansas.

December 2013: Our first 2 weeks were literally a blur. I packed in as many moments with friends as I possibly could - we had lunch dates, dinner dates, spend the night nights with friends and then it was really time. The moving company showed up at our door on the 12th and it finally hit us. We really were moving. They packed and loaded our house in 2 days and there we were - saying goodbye to an empty house that we just moved into 20 months prior. We said some tough goodbyes to dear, dear friends and we drove to St. Louis to spend the night before we drove to our new town and new home. We moved into the new house on the 16th, spent the week feverishly unpacking and getting settled, put up our Christmas tree 5 days before Christmas, did all our Christmas shopping in one day, made cookies for Santa, and celebrated our Lord's birth here in our new home just the 5 of us. It was quiet and simple and perfect. We had a wonderful Christmas. We then left for St. Louis to celebrate for a few days with my family and enjoyed it so much. We are back home and are ringing in the New Year on the couch, watching football and thinking about what this new year might bring. Praying that God uses our family in mighty ways next year. Praying that we grow as a family, grow in our faith, serve the Lord with all we have and build our lives in this new town - always being thankful for the memories we have and looking forward to many more wonderful moments.

Happy New Year, friends. Thank you for hanging with me as I recapped our wild year. Hopefully I will be better at updating my little space here in 2014. Love and blessing to you all!