3.29.2013

Good Friday Letters

Dear Huckleberry - You little escape artist you! Usually you get the run of the yard while Steven and I are at work, but yesterday we had some complications and had to put you in your doghouse (aka the garage). Just this one time! And when I got home you are no where to be found! I panicked, maybe shed a tear or two, and shouted your name up and down the street. When I finally knocked on the neighbors door, you came prancing out of their home like you own the place. Turns out, you decided to open the garage window (!!!), climb out, and head to their place to pass the hours. You are rotten. And you're lucky the neighbors love you, too. Dear Sunshine - Rumor has it you will be shining bright this weekend. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Dear Easter - You are one of my most favorite days!! I am flooded with great memories every time I think of you. A new Easter dress with a big floppy hat, a scavenger hunt for me and my brothers to find our baskets, and then those baskets, full of chocolate and other goodies...Easter was always so much fun!! Now that I'm older I see that it really isn't about all those things, but I still hold those memories near and dear to my heart. Dear Mom and Dad - Thank you so much for being amazing! All of my holiday memories are so fond because you both went above and beyond to make them special for Justin, Nathan, and I. You've given me traditions and values I plan on passing down to my children one day, and I can never say thank you enough for blessing me with such a wonderful childhood. Dear Lord - Thank you for loving me and for your sacrifice. I'll never be able to fathom the depths of your love.

Happy Good Friday! I hope you have an amazing Easter weekend surrounded by the ones you love!
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3.28.2013

Steamrolled

That's what I feel like this morning. Like I got steamrolled. By a steamroller.
I have no idea what a steamroller is. 
However, in this case it's hot yoga.

For some sick, masochistic reason I thought it would be a good idea to go to hot yoga these past two nights. See, Steven has been in Utah for business, and I figured my options were to sit on my butt and watch bad TV or get off my booty and head to hot yoga. I opted for the later and regret it deeply. 

I hurt ya'll! In places I didn't even know were capable of hurting!  So for the remainder of the day I'm going to sit at my desk and move....very....very....slowly. 

That is all.

3.27.2013

A Memory Jar

"I sometimes find, and I am sure you know the feeling, that I simply have too many thoughts and memories crammed into my mind...at these times...I use the Pensieve. One simply siphons the excess thoughts from one's mind, pours them into the basin, and examines them at one's leisure.
- Albus Dumbledore
I too have a Pensieve. A memory jar, if you will. It is filled with moments, big and small, that tell a story. Items that would be insignificant to anyone else, but that hold great meaning to me. From movie tickets to concert wrist bands, from brochures from our honeymoon to ticket stubs from the plane ride I took from D.C. to Washington that signify the start of my new life....I kept them all and look through them often.
It's important to keep tokens and stash them away. Our minds are amazing and wonderful tools, yet they tend to forget. As time goes on, the details fade. We need those visual cues to help us recreate the moment, to relive the excitement and laughter, to see again the color, life, and joy. 

With Steven, I've experienced some of the best moments of my life and I desperately want to hold on to each and everyone of them, so I store them away in my Pensieve (ahh, Harry Potter references always feel so good) to help me remember. I can't even tell you how many times I've reached my hand in there when I'm feeling sad or discouraged and pulled out happy memories that never cease to make me smile and restore my good humor. I'm so glad those moments I've spent with him will always be safe.

Tell me, do you have a Pensieve where your favorite memories are stored?
..................................
Speaking of special moments with people you love, today I want to introduce you to one of my lovely sponsors, Tiff, who has a very special moment in the making! She's the blogger behind My Smile Saga,    where you can find posts chronicling her intense jaw surgery and recovery process as well as her upcoming wedding! (Which is fast approaching in May!) On her blog you'll also find helpful meal plans for the week along with yummy, healthy recipes. So head on over there to meet this cute, bubbly girl next door and hopefully make a new friend! :)

3.26.2013

Paleo "Spaghetti" + A Misfit Squash

Being Italian, pasta lies near and dear to my heart, and this weekend I was definitely craving some Italian cuisine. Browsing yeast free/Paleo recipes on the interwebs, I've discovered that a lot of people substitute spaghetti squash for noodles in their pasta. Awesome, I thought. I'll give that a try, I thought. Easy, I thought. 

So to the grocery store I went. And there was one squash there. Only one stinking squash. And this squash had three stickers on it, one labeled "summer squash," one labeled "organic," and the last one labeled "Mexico."(Fishy, I know.) Not being very knowledgeable in the squash department, I decided to believe those stickers and assume summer squash and spaghetti squash were interchangeable, and I bought that squash.

Turns out, that squash was not a summer squash at all, but a winter squash (Butternut to be exact). And I highly doubt it was "organic." I'm thinking the only properly placed label was "Mexico." 

Moral of the story?? Shop at farmer's markets when possible and Google image spaghetti squash before you head to the grocery store.

Luckily, that misfit squash was tasty.
Ingredients:
- 1/2 butternut squash
- 1/2 onion
- 4 garlic cloves
- pine nuts
- red chili peppers
- parsley
- ground turkey/beef (optional) - we used ground turkey
- salt to taste

Directions:
1. In a large skillet, cook ground turkey until no longer pink. Drain fat and set aside.
2. Heat olive oil in a large saucepan on medium-high heat. Dice 1/2 onion and garlic then add to saucepan. 
3. Cut the butternut squash down the middle. Scoop of the seeds and then julienne the flesh to get even, thin stripes. Add the squash, pine nuts, red chili peppers, and parsley to the saucepan.
4. Cook for 10 minutes or until squash becomes al dente. (Cook longer if you like your pasta noodles soft.)
5. Add the cooked, ground turkey. Add salt to taste.
Yummy "spaghetti" that your body will thank you for! Yeast free, gluten free, diary free, and exceedingly delicious!
You're welcome ;)

3.25.2013

Weekend Review: A few Rays of Sun and Zombies

It's time for another weekend recap where I pretend like my husband and I have a life ;)
Truth is, we are really just concerned about getting our home in shape. 
Mainly outdoor projects right now like the chicken coop and some yard maintenance. 
So if the weather is nice, that's most likely what we'll spend our weekend working on.
And it turns out that after the weather man's fake out last Thursday (calling for sun when what we actually got was hail!! Grrr..) the rest of the weekend he was pretty spot on!
While Steven worked on the chicken coop and made a run to the dump,  I started burning the brush pile. It felt good to be outside and be productive! Plus, I snapped this pretty funny photo of Huck that looks like he's blowing smoke out of his butt ;) Ha!
And to reward ourselves for being the amazing homeowners that we are, we decided to go on a little dinner date at Salty's that night. It was surprisingly easy to keep my meal yeast free, too! My lobster dish came with two sides (veggies and mashed potatoes) and I simply told them to give me double veggies instead. Win! And as of this morning I am 10lbs lighter! Win Win!
Steven on the other hand opted for a yeast infested beer.....
Boys will be boys.
In true Sunday fashion we decided to keep things simple. Went to church, made some home cooked Paleo "spaghetti," and partook in lots of couch sitting. 
And like almost every other American, we ended our Sunday watching the Walking Dead. Did you watch it? If not, then why are we friends? Are we friends? I am obsessed with this show. I found last night's episode to be quite disturbing and really sad! :( I don't want to spoil it for anyone who hasn't watched yet butIneedtotalkaboutittosomeone!!!!!!

And zombies are gross.

Okay. The End.

How was your weekend??

3.22.2013

Friday Letters

Dear Weather Man - You tricked me. Yesterday I was teasing all my Instagram friends with photos of the sunny forecast ahead and then....it hailed. Yep. It freaking hailed! Not cool. And although your updated forecast is still calling for sunny skies this weekend, I refuse to believe you. Dear Huckleberry - You have recently developed a love for tennis balls (you like to chew them a part into multiple, tiny pieces), but you still don't really comprehend the game fetch with one. You much prefer an oversized stick. Luckily for you, our yard is filled with them. Dear To-Do List - You are overflowing. There are many "to-do's" I am dying to cross off, unfortunately most of them involve money. Sooo....Dear Money Tree in the Backyard -  Will you please grow me some Benjamin's so I can get things accomplished on that dang list?? ;) Dear Husband - I think we are overdo for a date. Like a real date where we actually leave the house (and Home Depot doesn't count). I don't see a better way to usher in Spring than by spending it dating you. So let's hang out ;)

Hope you have a fun filled weekend planned! 
See you on Monday!
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3.21.2013

Yeast Free in 1, 2, 3...

To be honest, I'm feeling slightly overwhelmed because the yeast free cleanse was a HUGE success for me and there is so much information I want to share with you! I've decided the simplest way for me to do this is to divide my yeast free information overload into three different posts: (1) Guidelines and example meals, (2) my experience with the 30 day cleanse, and (3) Q&A session where I answer any questions about the cleanse and/or my results that you may have for me. 

So let's start with the basics.

Yeast. Yeast is a living fungus that thrives in moist, dark places where it can be provided with a constant food supply (i.e. your GI tract). Over the years, yeast cells being building up in your system and are multiplied every time you take a bite of sugary, over processed food. Luckily, we were all creatively designed with natural detoxify organs (your kidneys, mainly) that control the yeast levels by eliminating them as waste. However, some people have a hard time eliminating the yeast and it continues to build, clinging to the walls of your GI tract and making it harder for your body to absorb nutrients. Basically, you start feeling icky and you probably will begin to gain weigh. (Yeast rises, right? It makes sense a yeast filled belly will rise too.) To get rid of the yeast in your system not only do you have to eliminate yeast all together, but also you must eliminate its food source.
Yeast Free Guideline. (30 day cleanse) The following foods must be avoided during the cleanse.
For the first 2 weeks avoid:
-fruit
-butter

For the entire 30 days avoid:
-bread
-grains
-pastas
-dairy
-potatoes
-sugar
-alcohol
-vinegar (Only apple cider vinegar is allowed. I avoided all vinegars though.)

Sounds tough, huh? But the key is to focus on what you can have.
-meats
-vegetables
-eggs
-beans
-nuts and nut butter (no sugar added)
-coconut oil & olive oil
-coffee & tea
-natural sweeteners (like Stevia)

For a more in-depth list, go here!

Example Meals. A lot of people have asked what my day-to-day eating looks like now. I think you'll be surprised at the variety available even with such a restricted diet!

Breakfast. 
-eggs with turkey bacon or sausage (& oftentimes with avocado and/or tomato slices on the side)
-omelettes 
-chocolate protein shake: 1 scoop chocolate protein powder, 2 scoops peanut butter, 1 cup of unsweetened vanilla almond breeze, 5-7 ice cubes. Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend!
-almond pancakes
(after two weeks a side of fruit can accompany any of these)
Lunch. This meal has the least variety because usually I eat leftovers from last night's dinner.
-tuna lettuce wraps (made with veganaise)
-salad with steak or chicken
-leftover dinner from the night before

Dinner.
-homemade chili
-salmon/tilapia/cod/chicken/steak/turkey patties (there are endless options for protein!!) with a sautéed vegetable melody
-eggplant stuffed with ground turkey and veggies
-lobster amandine
Snacks.
-veggies/hummus
-apples/peanut butter (all natural)
-fruit
-nuts

No worries, I plan on sharing the recipes for the stuffed eggplant and lobster amandine eventually! But for the sake of your attention span, and my day job, I think it's time to wrap up this post :-) (Sorry! I tried to make it as condensed as possible!)

I'd love to hear your thoughts/concerns/questions on the yeast free cleanse, so don't be shy! Leave a comment or email me directly! (email found here

*Please note I am not a doctor (obviously) nor do I have any medical training. I am simply sharing my personal experience with the yeast free cleanse.  

3.20.2013

Seven Little Quirks

circa 2008
One | Sometimes I fall asleep during hot yoga. (Obviously this only occurs when we are doing postures on the floor). It is just so warm and toasty in there how could someone not fall asleep...in a room full of strangers...

Two | I hate socks. I avoid wearing them at all costs. They make me want to kick people.

Three | I don't like to watch a lot of TV shows because I easily become too emotionally invested. I once lived for Tuesday nights with Lucas Scott (OTH fans, you know what I mean) and I'm still upset Rory and Dean didn't end up together on good ole' Gilmore Girls. 

Four | I use my fingers for addition and subtraction. It helps. It really does.

Five | When I step into the sun after being inside for a few hours I sneeze. This especially always happens when I leave a movie theatre. 

Six | I'm a bibliophile. 

Seven | I couldn't think of a seventh quirk, so I asked the hubby.
Come on now! How else are you suppose to dance to your favorite tunes when your driving and strapped in by a seat belt! Opening your mouth and shaking your head seems like the only logical solution to me. And just so you all know, that last text from me that is cut off says I look freaking sexy in that bathrobe! 

So tell me, what's weird about you?
Post inspired by Megan.

3.19.2013

What I Wore || Birds

Sometimes you just stumble across something and it quickly becomes your go-to. You have no reason for it, and can't lay your finger on what exactly it is that draws you towards it so...but you love it.
That's my bird shirt. I love it. It's weird.
Shirt: Nordstrom Rack | Boots: Fred Meyer | Necklace: Linkel Designs
In other news, I'm late to the blogging game today because I went to the Dr. for a little checkup. Turns out I'm fit as a fiddle and I'm pretty stoked about that. She also told me some interesting information in light of my yeast free cleanse that I hope to share with you soon. You might get grossed out, but no worries, I won't include pictures...

Oh, I have your interest peeked now, don't I?!? 
:)
Happy Tuesday, friends!

3.18.2013

My Boys, Froyo, & a Little About Habits

But not in that order.
This weekend consisted of healthy eating with a little froyo on the side! Steven and I finished our 30 day cleanse and decided to celebrate with a froyo trip. It probably would have made more sense to celebrate with a new pair of skinny jeans, but since I discovered that I now fit into all my size 4 jeans that were too tight to button a month ago, clothes shopping seemed unnecessary! 
And although I thoroughly enjoyed my froyo, I think I would have been just as content with some apple slices and peanut butter for a sweet treat. It's funny how simply cleansing your body for 30 days will do that do ya! We didn't consume any processed sugars. So now sweet is just sweet. No matter what form it comes in. 

They say it takes 30 days to form a habit, and I feel like I'm living proof of that now. The last 30 days I've eaten clean and now it's just easy. It's easy to choose a handful of cashews over a bag of chips to snack on. It's easy to enjoy my tuna salad in a crispy lettuce leaf instead of between two slices of bread. It's genuinely easy and I don't plan on even going back to how I ate before. 

I'll post more on the cleanse (example menu plans and recipes and other physical benefits I haven't shared with you yet) later this week, but for now let's continue to relive the weekend!

Saturday night I pulled a huge blogger fail by not bringing my camera along with me! ;) But in my defense it was a pretty low-key night. Stevie and I went to a good friend's who have the freaking cutest baby in the world. I'm not even kidding. Every time I get to hold that kid I get intense baby fever! We spent the evening catching up and laughing over some intense games of bananagrams. If you don't know what that game is you're missing out! Go buy it now.

And on Sunday I cuddled with my boys. The funny thing is I've never been much of a cuddler, yet I married the most cuddly man, adopted the most cuddly cat (who likes to wake me up by purring on my stomach), and, as you all know, own the cuddliest golden in all the land!  
My boys love me, so I suppose it's okay to take some time out of each day to simply cuddle them.
(Have you ever read the word "cuddle" more times in one post?)
Hope you had a great weekend as well!
I'm already counting down the days till the next one...

3.15.2013

Friday Letters

Huckleberry in the midst of an intense stick chewing session.
Dear Yeast Free - My 30 day cleanse will be over on Sunday! I can't believe how quickly the time flew by and I really can't believe that I was disciplined enough to stick with it!! I am down 8 lbs. and up lots of energy! I feel great! Dear Work -  You have been wayyyy too busy this week. It's about time that you settle down and get back to a more steady pace or I just might hyperventilate or break out in hives. I need a vacation. Dear Husband -  Speaking of vacation....I am so glad or one year anniversary trip is booked!! I cannot wait to celebrate with you for a whole 7 days in Cabo! Dear Friends - I really hope you don't pass up the opportunity to be entered to win the Gilded Arrow bracelet from Stella & Dot! They sell beautiful, high quality jewelry at their online boutique, and for every $25 you spend through my online trunk show, you're entered to win that beautiful, gold Gilded Arrow Bracelet. So get out your pocketbooks and get shopping! ;) 

Sorry for the inordinate amount of exclamation points in this post. (!!!)
Happy Friday!
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3.14.2013

Saw it. Pinned it. Did it. // Blue Pantry Door

A few weeks ago I revealed that I painted my pantry door blue after being inspired by this pin.
I tried really, really hard to take some good pictures for you all, but photography is obviously not my niche! (Maybe I should read my camera's user manual? Haha!! That will likely never happen...) At least you can get the overall idea even though the colors in the photos are a little off. (My walls look pale(ish) yellow. They are really just white.)
I painted two coats of a paint/primer combo on one side, flipped the door over when dry, and then painted two coats on the other side! An easy way to get a pretty pop of color in my predominately color neutral kitchen. Originally I planned on distressing the door like the Pinterest version above, but when all was said and done I decided I liked the bold blue as it was!


And before I sign off for the day we should probably discuss this Google Reader booting business. I'm sure you've heard that Google is saying goodbye to their Google Reader feature, which I'm guessing means the Google Friend Connect (the way that many of you have chosen to follow my blog) will bite the dust here shortly, too. 

So, if you do follow my blog via GFC and want to continue to follow along after July 1st, I encourage you to pick a second means of following now to make the transition easier! (And I would recommend Bloglovin'. It is easy to use and much more organized then Google Reader in my opinion.)

Bloglovin' | Facebook | Pinterest | Twitter | Instagram

I appreciate every single one of my readers and am blown away that anyone other than my mom even reads this blog (hi, mom)! So I would love for you to continue following along with my journey after the changes are made in July.

But beware, if you do choose to follow along on Instagram you will be bombarded with photos of Huckleberry and Herschel. I warned you.

3.13.2013

Unedited Memories

Shortly after Christmas I received a thumb drive in the mail from my uncle along with a mason jar full of lake water. Water from Lake Ontario where Steven and I got married last July. 

The thumb drive was full of raw, unedited photos from my wedding that another guest had taken. Photos of the small things mostly. The things that are so easily forgotten in the midst of the wedding hustle and bustle. But moments I don't want to forget.

Like how amazing my photographer was to kick off her shoes and walk in the lake with me and Steven to capture some stunning shots!
And how the ice cream truck began rolling down the street a few minutes before I walked down the aisle. I heard the music but wasn't able to see all the kids (and some adults) rush to it, and I think it's simply hilarious!

And my bestie maid of honor! I cannot recall a word she said during her speech, but this captured moment (and the look on my face) reminds me just how hard I was trying to keep myself together. I am so glad she was a part of my day! Just as she has been a part of all my most important days since 1st grade.
And as the festivities were winding down and Steven and I were saying our goodbyes, I remember hugging my aunt and holding back tears just because I love her so much and was overcome with so much joy! (And look at that mop of hair on my head!!! I forgot how disheveled it was by the end of the day! Note to any readers who want a lakeside wedding: you're hairdo with not stay intact. It has no chance against the wind.)

My wedding was the best day of my life. Things didn't go perfectly and, to be honest, much of that day is a blur to me, but looking back on these moments brings back a lot of memories, and I am so thankful for each one that was captured!

3.12.2013

Stella & Dot Online Trunk Show

Today I am super excited to talk about one of my favorite online jewelry boutiques, Stella & Dot!
If you haven't heard of Stella & Dot then you live under a rock must be new to the world of blogging because their stylish jewelry adorns the wrists, ears, and collar bones of all my favorite bloggers!

And if you haven't noticed their designs on any of your favorite bloggers yet, then maybe you'll recognize a few of their pieces from appearances in Gossip GirlIn Style, or Lucky Magazine!!

I was recently given the wonderful opportunity to host my very own online trunk show through Stella & Dot and each of you are invited!! All you have to do is grab a glass of wine, click on this link, and begin shopping for the perfect accessories to add to your wardrobe!
(I have my heart set on this bangle with these matching studs.) 

But it gets even better! For every $25 you spend, you will be entered for a chance to win this beautiful Gilded Arrow Bracelet!
My trunk show will be open for two weeks, so be sure to place your order before then to be entered in the giveaway! 

Good luck!

All orders must be purchased through My Trunk Show's link to be eligible for a chance to win.