Tuesday, January 31, 2012

My Favorite Things: January


 Curled up kittens.

 Pirate eyes and pirate ships.

 Perfectly organized shadow pods.



January GlamBag.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Bedroom Bedding

I bought bedding for the master bedroom. Some ridiculously luxurious sheets, a new duvet, and a throw pillow.  I have an entire vision for this room now, in fact.  I knew once I started some projects in here, the inspiration would start flowing.

Warm gold, soft gray, and deep purple make up the color palette. 

I have gorgeous Anthropologie curtains and an amazing West Elm headboard picked out, but they're way over my budget. Sadface.  So I've been working on a way to do both myself.  I'm pretty sure I can.  I'm very excited to try.


Sunday, January 22, 2012

Basketball Diaries

Narls was showing off his newly acquired dribbling skills to his cousin, who was less than impressed and offered up a few tips.  I can only assume that my son thought after two basketball classes that he knew all there was to know about basketball and was therefore highly offended by his cousin's unsolicited advice.

So he sulked off to emotastically spend some time alone. He decided to take his frustration out on the paper.

Em decided she needed to draw too.  Unfortunately I only had one writing instrument on me, and when I told this to Em, she started to voice this injustice.  Loudly.  Mothers of two children should have two writing instruments dammit!  Since we were at Clay's basketball game, and I didn't want to be the mom with the screaming kid, I did what I had to do: gave her my $15 MAC lip liner.  (It Taupe and I rarely use it anyway.  Luckily.)

Narls drew a detailed picture of himself dribbling.  "See mom. This proves I can dribble."  He's the one with the jersey number backwards 5 ("because I just turned five.").  Em has pigtails and is wearing jersey number 2.  Clearly.


Obviously I'm saving both masterpieces forever <3

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Clean Eating Breakfast Ideas

Making various breakfasts in advance and then freezing them has been my morning lifeline. In addition to the french toast I made previously, I've also made these breakfast bites that I'm sharing with you today.

It took less than an hour to make 12 mini egg, cheese & bread bakes that I can warm up in the morning and serve with some fruit for a healthy, balanced breakfast.
I've also made a huge batch of banana pancakes with a few tweaks to make cleaner, like replacing the flour with whole wheat flour, the oil with unsweetened applesauce and the sugar with fresh bananas and I plan on using a similar method to make lots of waffles, all of which can be froze and then served at a minute's notice.

Pre-made smoothie packets are a huge help, too. Just scoop greek yogurt into the cubes of an ice cube tray (each cube holds about a tablespoon), then freeze.  Once froze, add a cube or two to a freezer bag along with a half cup of frozen fruit (I did 1/4 cup blueberries and 1/4 cup strawberries in one bag, and 1/4 cup mango and 1/4 cup pineapple in another bag) and you have instant smoothie packs ready to blend when you are.

Planning, planning, planning has been my number one tool to easy clean eating.  We have a freezer stocked with clean breakfast options that are every bit as easy as the processed frozen options found at my grocer, but a hundred times healthier (not to mention tastier and less expensive!).

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Sporty Spices

It's been super crazy around these parts lately. Clay and I have Narls in basketball and Em in soccer and they're both having a blast. Between working and school and sports and our new making-meals-from-scratch, we've been BUSY. 

 It's worth it though.  I truly believe that.

Friday, January 13, 2012

What is Clean Eating?

Since myfirst post on cleaning up our diet, I've had a few emails asking me what exactly clean eating is.

Cleaning eating is, to me at least, removing all chemicals, additives, impurities from one's diet.  Clearly I'm not an expert- I've only been learning about this for about three months now and I've only been implementing it in my and my family's diet for only a few weeks, but I really believe it is the foundation for good health. Ultimately if you eat garbage, you will feel like garbage.  If you eat a healthy, whole, natural diet then your skin, hair, nails, mood, everything will glow.  

Basically, what we’re not eating is refined sugar, added sugar, white flour, trans fats, preservatives and unnecessary added ingredients.   

What we are eating every single day:

Lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. They’re the foundation for clean eating. If I can’t buy fresh, then frozen is my second choice and I’m looking for ONLY the frozen fruit or veggie - no added syrups, sauces, ingredients.  I’m no longer buying canned fruits or vegetables as they’re loaded with unnecessary ingredients and so. much. sodium.  Also, no more fruit juice.  My kids didn’t drink much juice anyway thankfully, and the fresh alternative (choosing an actual orange over processed orange juice) is a healthier choice.

A moderate amount of proteins and complex carbs, like breads and pastas made from whole-wheat and whole-grains, brown rice, beans, and oats.  And again, I’m still avoiding the highly processed versions of these products (anything with more than 5-6 ingredients).  We’re treating meat and fish like a side dish as opposed to the main course (think smaller portions) and then only eating it 3-4 times a week.   I pick the leanest options and try to buy organic, grass-fed meats whenever possible as these foods are generally free of pesticides, additives and hormones.

A small amount of dairy.  Now, from everything I’ve researched, dairy is subjective.  By definition it’s processed because the milk is pasteurized, but it’s not highly processed, as many dairy options have five ingredients or less.  Low-fat milk, organic eggs and block cheeses (not the prepared shredded options) are very good for the body and are a great source of non-meat protein.  

Tiny amount of good fatsMonounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats are known as the “good fats” because they are good for your heart, your cholesterol, and your overall health and include products such as olive oil, avocados, olives, peanut butter, and nuts.

Lots and lots and lots of water! With limited coffee and alcohol, le sigh. 

Thursday, January 12, 2012

It's Been Five Years

Although Narls has been literally counting down the days until his fifth birthday, it honestly snuck right up on Clay and me. 

Narls is a lot like I am. He gets obsessed with the things he loves.  Right now it's Angry Birds.  We wanted to surprise him with an Angry Birds party at a gym or someplace open, where he and his friends could run and tumble and throw plush Angry Birds at stacked cardboard boxes, but sadly we couldn't find a space that was available and reasonably priced. So that party has been pushed to the summer when we can do it in our back yard.  That's ok though; he'll be able to play with his friends on summer break. A last hurrah before they become big time Kindergartners.

In the meantime, we threw a little something together with a few close friends at Chuck E Cheese.  He had his Angry Birds cake that he loved (we all did!) and he had an absolute blast. 

I'm so proud of this kid.  He's special. 
He's bright and inquisitive and legitimately funny. 
He's tenderhearted and sensitive and kind. 

The other day I was driving him and his sister to school and I was sort of zoning out, thinking of that day's rundown, when I hear him say, "wow, we've caught every light green, Mom. That means we're going to have a lucky day!"

I smiled back at him in the rearview mirror as he stared ahead to the stoplights.
He always surprises me with his observations.

Shoot, Buddy, forget lucky day, we're going to have a lucky year.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Clean Eating

My biggest new year's resolution is to positively change my and my family's eating habits. It's something I've been thinking about and learning about for the last few months.

It started when I was at the library with my kids and stumbled upon a book called In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan.  I read a few paragraphs and was instantly hooked, and as cheesy as this sounds, the book changed my life. 

It's not that the book is so brilliantly written or full of information that is particularly ground breaking, but it did open my eyes to things that I had never thought about in terms of eating. Things like just how much processing goes into some "foods", how those "foods" shouldn't even be called food because they're really just manufactured products designed to never rot (so gross!), how the products that make the loudest health claims are actually the farthest thing from healthy.

From there I read his other books, and then other nutrition books, to visiting websites devoted to clean foods to talking and learning from friends who have embraced healthy eating to where I am now- ready to completely clean up my family's diet.

Take cereal for example.  My kids love Lucky Charms. Love, love, love it.  Commercials for this cereal play during their cartoons, there is a fun website kids can visit to play games, and the box claims to be a good source of whole grains. It's gotta be good for kids, right?

In fact, it's number three on the list of the top ten cereal with the poorest nutrition ratings that are advertised to kids. 

For lunch I'd make them some frozen fish sticks and box macaroni and cheese, followed by a warmed up bag of frozen pasta for dinner.  That, in a nut shell, was our highly processed, nutritionally low diet.

I hear so many people say, "there's way more autism/attention deficit/obesity/heart disease/cancer/blah blah now than there was twenty years ago" and once you start learning about nutrition and food and how real foods affect the body versus how manufactured food products affect the body, it starts to make sense

This, in case you couldn't tell by my rambling post, is my newest obsession.

And I've jumped right in.  I purged the boxed macaroni and cheese, the remaining Lucky Charms and so much more, and went on a major healthy food haul.  I'm in the process of restocking our pantry with healthier alternatives like whole wheat flour and beans and oats, etc. It's going to be a process but I'm fully committed and Clay is too, which makes this a thousand times easier.

One of the things that I worry about is our hectic weekday mornings when the kids and I are rushing to get ready, get breakfast and still make it to school and work without being too late.  Knowing this, I set aside some time yesterday to make something I could freeze and easily reheat in the morning.

I threw out our $3 box of 6 highly-processed, full-of-sugar frozen french toast slices and spent an hour (if even that!) making a whole loaf to freeze, using only whole-wheat bread, cage-free organic eggs, milk, vanilla and ground cinnamon.  I feel lucky that our local grocery store carries an awesome selection of natural and organic store-brand items, many of which (like this bread), contain five ingredients or less.


The process was so easy! And considering it cost me $5.39 to make sixteen slices of french toast, the benefits aren't just nutritional.

This morning I popped in a french toast slice for each kiddo and they toasted while I cut up some bananas.  Easy peasy.  Narls and Em ate it without the slightest hesitation, without even batting an eye at the whole-wheat flavor of the bread.  I served it with 100% pure maple syrup - a pre-measured amount, in a bowl for dipping; I found my kids eat less syrup this way.  My goal is to eventually pair french toast/waffles/pancakes with a heated sauce made from a berry puree, but that's an adventure for another day.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

New Year Organizing & Decorating

We've only been home from Vegas for a few days and I've already got a bunch of stuff checked off my to-do list.  I'm a little antsy from being behind on my new year's resolutions because seriously, I live for new years - brand new starts, brand new goals, out with the old, in with the new - it makes my over-achieving heart sing with joy.  In my defense, there wasn't any way I was eating healthy or working out while in Sin City though. No way, no how.  So my new year officially started when we got home.

First up? My & Clay's bedroom.  We've lived in our house for over two years now and the master bedroom is almost exactly the same as it was when we moved in. We haven't changed the paint or the curtains or the closet, nothing.  We haven't put anything on the walls or bought new bedding, mainly because we still don't have a clear idea on how we want this room to be decorated and I hate to invest the time & planning only to change it when we decide it's time to officially tackle this room.

So I started with the closet.

This is a picture taken the day we first viewed this house, before we even put an offer on it.  Up until a few days ago, the closet looked exactly the same only with, you know, our clothes hanging. 

The first thing I did was make two smaller shelves on the very top as opposed to one bigger one (where I used to store all my purses). Now I have two rows for my shoes, which previously were sitting on a basic shoe shelf and most of them had to be laid sideways because the heels made them bigger than the shelf space and this drove my OCD insane. Absolutely insane.

Next, Clay & I transformed the left side of the closet with only one hanging bar to match the right side that has two hanging bars.  This move alone gives us a whole nother (not a word, I know, don't care) 25% more closet space. 

Then we rearranged the middle shelving to make storage for a few of my regularly used purses, my jeans, his jeans, his sweatshirts and then his hats.


After the closet was done, I went to work getting the bedroom walls decorated.  I've been thrifting for mirrors and interesting frames for a while now, with the intention of creating a wall gallery in our bedroom. 

I built up a nice collection. 

I got them all cleaned and spray painted gold, and now they're hanging pretty above our bed.

I found this cute decorative bird cage and thought it would make the perfect earring holder.  Up until now I've had all my jewelry in a standing jewelry box that I've had forever.  Since I was 16 or something.  And I've always loved it (it was a gift from my mom) but it's not very... pretty.  All the pretty pieces are hidden inside of it.

But not anymore. In addition to displaying my earrings, I also hung some assorted knobs and hooks on the bedroom wall to hang my necklaces from.

And I have a lovely dessert stand on my dresser that now houses my bracelets.

It's amazing how much better this room feels with just these small changes.  In the next couple months, I'd like to buy new bedding, new curtains, find or make a headboard, and paint my dresser a vibrant gold color. 

I'm still on the fence about the wall color but after two years the lavender has grown on me.  I would like to paint an accent wall a rich eggplant purple to give it some eclectic flair, and then I think this room will be officially done. 

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Viva Las Vegas

At 7am in the morning on the first day of 2012, the first day of my 33rd year, my husband and I boarded a plane headed to Las Vegas.

Our flight went smooth, the day was beautiful, and we were together in Sin City.

We checked into our room at The Palms, the same place we stayed after we got married, spent a little time freshening up, then headed down to the Hard Rock where we watched Drake put on a phenomenal show. Literally phenomenal.  Watching him perform in Las Vegas was quite possibly one of the most amazing gifts I've ever received, second only to the trip to New York to see Phantom of the Opera that Clay surprised me with a few Christmases ago. 

We spent the rest of our days enjoying each other's company.  It's been so long since I had Clay entirely to myself... too long.  We both missed our kids, and talked about them so much during this trip!, but I think it's crucial to a healthy, happy marriage to find ways to reconnect with each other without anything else fighting for your attention.

And for four days, I had all of Clay's attention.  There were no distractions- no house to clean, no kids to feed, no jobs to wake up early to... just each other. And it was bliss. 

We spent 14 hours in bed, we had margaritas for breakfast and coffee for dinner.

We caught a movie, and we shopped, and we walked the strip and tried to go into every single casino (there are a lot of damn casinos, by the way). 

We even stopped to get a couple pictures that we knew our kids would love.

We caught a show, and we gambled and won some cash, and we experienced Vegas night life.

And we came home more in love than ever.