Monday, December 31, 2012

#Reverb12 - Day 31 - Finish the year with a BANG!

Take a moment to yourself, somewhere quiet.

Take a deep breath, and if you have the time/space/inclination do something that has significance for you e.g. light a candle, brew a put of your favourite tea, play your favourite music, whatever.

Think back to where you were all those moons ago, on 1 December when you started #reverb12. All the way back then, I asked: "How are you starting?"

Now, I am not going to ask you "Where are you finishing?" because this is not the end. What I want to ask is, "Where are you now?".

You have spent a month honouring everything that has brought you to this place: the highs, the lows, the messy middles, the exuberant rainbows, the turbulent storms, the fresh strawberries dipped in dark chocolate, the too-tight jeans, the unexpected windfalls, the toddler tantrums (theirs or yours!), all of it.

You have thanked each end every one of these things for the things they have taught you and brought you, and fully know that they reside benignly in your physical, emotional and spiritual being. You know know that while they brought you here and will always be with you, there is no reason for them to hold you back any longer.

You are standing where you are, all that you are, splendidly imperfect and right in the middle of this messy delicious life.

Take another deep breath.

Now quickly and without thinking too much about it, finish these five sentences:

2013 is going to be MY YEAR because... I will get out of it what I put into it and I will be putting my heart and soul into this year!

In 2013, I am going to do... amazing things, like finish my degree, move into a house (rental), try to start a family, and create the life I WANT, not the life I settle for.

In 2013, I am going to feel... Alive, awakened, revitalized, rejuvenated! I'm bringing Sexy Back, hehehe!

In 2013, I am not going to... dwell on the past, sweat the small stuff, worry about things out of my control, or allow myself to get walked all over.

In December 2013, I am going to look back and say... Hot Damn that was an exciting year! And look at me now, a better person, a lighter person, an enlightened person! My husband and I can take on anything thrown our way, just try to tear us down, I dare you!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

#Reverb12 - Almost the end of 2012!

So, here we go - from Christmas Eve to the 30th of December! Here are all but the final #Reverb12 prompts and my responses.

Day 24: What is the single most important habit you intend to cultivate in 2013?
A Morning routine. If there is any habit I need to focus on more than anything, it is a morning routine. Now, that could include working out, being up early enough for a shower, making breakfast at home, or even just 20 minutes of ME time. Regardless, I need a morning routine!

Day 25: How will you be vulnerable?
I will open myself up with no restrictions. I will no longer hide behind a shell and peer through the cracks. Its time to just open myself up and see what happens. I'm so guarded with so many aspects of my life and I feel like in some areas, it is holding me back. Time to leave that behind in 2012 and open up in 2013!

Day 26: How do you intend to carve out more time for the things that are the most important to you in 2013?
Time in 2013 is going to be a tough thing to come by. I will be working full time, attending school full time, focusing on my health full time and of course strengthening my relationship with my husband. I guess if I really think about it, those ARE the things that are most important to me.

Day 27: How will you continue (or start) making time and space for your creative passions in 2013?
I always tend to find a few hours on a weekend to do something crafting. However, for 2013, I want to make time for blogging and sharing. I want to find a community that I feel like I belong to wholeheartedly, and not just partially.

Day 28: Think of three things that daunted you in 2012: how are you going to work towards overcoming them in 2013?
I already overcame one of the largest thing that daunted me in 2012: starting school. 1 month in and I've already completed a 3 credit course and am on my way to the next one. The only other item would be my health. I was on such a great path in 2011 and felt like things were really going to go my way into 2012. But once the year started, everything just fell apart. So many other things were going on and I felt like I couldn't get a handle on anything. And here we are, at the end of 2012, and I have gained back all that I lost last year. Its heart breaking, but I know I can not give up. My husband is on board to making us BOTH healthy just year. No longer just supportive, but joining in the lifestyle change. Here's hoping we can overcome that obstacle in 2013 and beyond!

Day 29: What word did you select to be your travelling companion in 2012? What gifts did this word bring? What word will you choose to guide you through 2013? What do you hope it will bring into your life?
My 2012 word was Growth - and boy did I ever grow. So many things happened in 2012 that just showed me that there is SO much more to learn in this world. Good, bad, fun, sad, it was all about growing in work, in play, and in love! In 2013, I choose the word Action. I will take Action on thoughts and feelings and goals. I will not make resolutions to get me through the year, I will take action for a life long change. Time to get into gear!

Day 30: Describe joyously and in great celebration the BEING that you ARE. 
The best way to describe the Being that is Me, is to read my About Me page! It is all about me, glorious me!

One more post before the end of the year! Stay tuned!!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

#Reverb12 - A Week of Reverb

So - between studying, work, and Christmas, I've completely slacked on my duties to keep up with #Reverb12 this year. So - I intend to do 2 big posts to finish out the year. This one will be up to December 23rd, and the last one will be til the 31st! That will put me right up to my New Years post! Without further ado, let's jump right in!

Day 16: Who inspired you? My husband. Every day, the Caveman inspires me to keep going. He was, and is, my biggest supporter when I decided I wanted to go back to school. His outlook on life is amazing and I know there is a reason we were meant to be. He calms me down, keeps me level, and maintains that cool look towards life, as if to say "Bring it, I can take whatever you throw!" I'm  jealous, but also inspired, by that outlook.

Day 17: How did you make a difference? I can't really think of anything I did that made a difference. I dont' feel like I affected someones life in any profound way. I feel like there are many things I let myself down on. I didn't do any charitable things this year. I know I did great, but I really feel like I didn't make a difference. I just lived. That's really all I could do in 2012. A fabulous year, a busy year, but just a year when the day is done.

Day 18: The colour of you? Orange. Always Orange. Bright and cheery and happy. And yet I also see it is lonely and angry and full of despair. Its close enough to red to be full of frustration but also close enough to yellow to be full of hope. That's how I am, that's how I always am. I live on this line, always wavering from one side to the other. Some days I'm dark orange, hiding in a corner, wallowing in the thoughts in my head, hoping to find a light at the end of the long dark day, week, or even month. Some days I'm bright orange, bouncing through life without a care, loving everyone and everything and trying to remember to be grateful for what I DO have instead of worrying about what I don't. Its a delicate line I live, but it's my line and I live it to the fullest!

Day 19: How did you nourish yourself? To be honest, I didn't nourish myself at all in 2012. In fact, I was mean to my body all year. I stopped going to Zumba, regular exercise, no more hot yoga, started eating worse, let negative thoughts fill my head, allowed stress and work to control me, and just beat myself up emotionally and physically. I was NOT good to myself, not at all. I want to change. I need to change. I'm starting to change. I feel like every year I learn more about myself that causes me to rethink how I've done things in the past. "Hard Work and Determination" just don't seem to cut it for me. My body and my brain don't work with that philosophy. I want to take better care of myself in 2013. I have plans and goals and I have a husband on board to help me reach those! It'll be a new year, but I'll make the best of it yet

Day 20: What was lost and what was found? Keeping this one simple. I lost thousands of dollars in debt when I finalized my bankruptcy. I found a new respect for money management. The mentality for money management has always been there for me, but I let a horrible relationship dictate my financial decisions for 5 years and wound up in the biggest hole I could ever imagine. I'm recovering, quickly, and on track to reach my financial goals much quicker now! Student loans are getting paid off fast, and I just bought my first car with CASH! Making progress!

Day 21: What’s on the dream list?
* Finishing my Bachelor's Degree
* Live in a HOUSE, not an apartment
* Become a mommy
* Move somewhere with BETTER Seasons (I want SNOW in Winter and SUN in Summer)
* Start my own company (hmmmm - family business with my Daddio sounds good to me!)

Day 22: What was the greatest gift you received in 2012?
I got my Christmas present from the Caveman at the beginning of December. He gave it to me because it is to be used as a TOOL, not a TOY! He wanted to get me something that would help me with school that I really wanted. So, he went out and bought me a Kindle Fire HD! I was completely amazed that he bought it for me. We are a little tight with money, but he still wanted to get me something that I could have fun with but would also be EXTREMELY helpful in me accelerating through my coursework to finish my degree. I couldn't have been happier!

Day 23: Name three excuses -- stories you tell yourself that are holding you back -- that you are going to let go of in 2013.
I'm going to let go of my emotional attachment to food.
I'm going to let go of the internal fear I have that I am not good enough for the great things I already have.
I'm going to let go of half my wardrobe - not hanging onto anything anymore that is too small or too big.

So there you go! Next week I will post the last of the #Reverb12 posts.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

#Reverb12 - Tastebuds

What was the most extraordinary dish you sampled in 2012? What made it so magical? 
The first two weeks in August, I was in Sacramento for a business trip. I was with another co-worker and one of my bosses doing a big project. One of the first nights we were in town, we dined at the Cheesecake Factory. After a 12+ hour day, you can't go wrong with Cheesecake! One of the items on the appetizers menu was Avocado Eggrolls. My boss insisted we had to try them because they were absolutely delicious.

Now, I have never been a huge avocado fan. In recent months I have become more open to trying foods I previously didn't enjoy and avocados is one of them. My co-worker and I decided to order the plate and give it a try. And boy were they delicious! Avocado, Sun-Dried Tomato, Red Onion and Cilantro Fried in a Crisp Wrapper. And it came with a Tamarind-Cashew sauce, the perfect amount of sweetness!

Friday, December 14, 2012

#Reverb12 - Important things

What was the most important thing you learned in 2012?

This year, I learned patience. I'm an impatient person most of the times. Yes, there are many things that take me a long time to decide on, but 9 times out of 10, i'm an impulse person and usually feel dumb afterwards. but this year was all about patience. With people, with work, and with choosing my school. I've taken the time to think things through before making decisions. I'm more patient with people and have learned to not get so worked up about people and situations I can't change to affect in any ways. I've learned how to just wait for things at work, reluctantly, but doing it. I hope I can take this into 2013, as I feel I will need a lot of patience to get through the year.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

#Reverb12 - Self-portrait

Please post your favourite picture of yourself from 2012, self-portrait or otherwise!
I have a number of memorable and favorite pictures from there year - but this is one I'm really proud of!

Me after finishing my FIRST 5K, the Color Run on Mothers Day 2012!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

#Reverb12 - Dancing

What made you dance in 2012? What made you weep?

Weddings! SO many weddings! They made me dance AND made me cry!

The first one was in April in Vegas. Two great friends of mine decided to do a recommittment ceremony in Vegas with close friends and a couple family members! It was the first time I have ever been a bridesmaid and was so incredibly honored. After the ceremony, we had a party bus for the evening. There was lots of drinking, dancing, and merriment to be had! It made me happy to be able to be in Vegas, with my friends, and celebrate!

The next wedding for the year was in May in Philadelphia. I attended Penn State my freshman year of college and am still friends with a handful of people I met when I was there, nearly 10 years later! This year, one of my dearest friends got married and I was able to make the trip across the country to see it! It was nice to bring the Caveman with me to meet people that I talk about but never get to see! And there were a number of group dances on the dance floor with my girls! They all belong to the same sorority, a sorority that I was asked to join but never got the chance to pledge because I moved back to Washington  I feel like the honorary member with these girls and it was so great to see them!

And then of course my own wedding! The friends who were married in Vegas helped with the DJ activities for my own wedding and it was a blast! Getting to dance to some crazy songs from my childhood with my mom, in front of all my family, was absolutely amazing! I miss late night weekends of watching movies, listening to loud 80's music and dancing around the living room with my mom and siblings!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

#Reverb12 - Bye Bye Jelly Bean

What was music to your ears in 2012, literally or metaphorically?

"All debt from your car accident is now paid off"

One of the greatest things I heard all year. Nearly 2 years after my accident, that totaled my lil Jelly Bean, I no longer owe a dime!

Monday, December 10, 2012

#Reverb12 - Risks

What was the greatest risk you took in 2012? What was the outcome?
Short and Sweet - the biggest risk I took in 2012 was choosing to go back to school! I know there are many life things ahead of me in the next year or two, and adding in being back in school is only going to make it more interesting! 

I spent MONTHS weighing the pros and cons. Ultimately I decided that all the pros outweighed any con I could come up with. So, my term started December 1st and I am embarking on what I hope is only an 18 month adventure to obtain my Bachelor's in Business Management. I think it will go great with the skills and knowledge I already have and compliment my drafting and design degree perfectly!

Here's to a new Adventure!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

#Reverb12 - I {heart} The Bloggess

What was the best book you read in 2012, and why?

"Let's Pretend This Never Happened" by Jenny Lawson.

I have written about Jenny (AKA The Bloggess) before and in that time she released her own book. A mostly true memoir, in fact, that was the best thing I read all year. She's wild and crazy and should probably be in an institution  but she faces life every day and conquers it in the most glorious of ways. She has a daughter and an awesome husband named Victor that love and support her and her crazy antics. There is a small part of me that wishes I could be more like Jenny and tackle the world with all the magic that she does!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

#Reverb12 - Relationships

Considering the idea that nothing lasts forever: what was the most important relationship that you fostered in 2012?

How will you continue to nurture it in 2013?

In 2012, I had 3 stages of significant other. I started 2012 with a great boyfriend who I loved so very much and could see myself spending the rest of my life with him. Within 3 months, he proposed in the most amazing way ever and I couldn't have been happier! We set a date for the summer of 2013 and slowly began the planning steps.

However, by summer time, not only had the idea of wedding planning and the stress of everyone's "advice" gotten to us, but familial situations had us rethinking what we TRULY wanted. And suddenly, we were planning a wedding for end of summer 2012!

Having a husband is a wonderful thing. For us, we still operate in much the same way we did when we were boyfriend and girlfriend. We knew, even at that level, that anything we did would affect the other and that we had to work together to get through life's ups and downs. If anything, being married has helped solidify our methods of working through things and has made things a lot easier. 

I have no worries that we won't continue this same method into 2013 and beyond. For the 3 years we've been together, although we've faced some difficult times, we always seem to work WITH each other and not AGAINST each other. It is one of the things I love about our relationship and hope to only strengthen it in years to come.

Friday, December 7, 2012

#Reverb12 - Growing

What's the one thing you want to take with you into 2013?

As odd as it sounds, I want to take my growth with me into 2013.

As part of last years Reverb, I chose one word that I wanted to capture in 2012. That word was Growth. I wanted to grow personally, emotionally and financially. I wanted to expand my career, my skills, and my relationships, both professional and personal. I feel like I fully accomplished this in 2012 and I am a better person because of it.

And for that reason, I would like to continue that in 2013. I feel its natural for people to grow and learn every day, but when you make the conscious effort to do so, you grow leaps and bounds! You open your mind to new things more willingly and take on more tasks that allow you to learn new skills, expand your knowledge and make yourself more valuable.

I want to grow more in 2013! I feel I still have so much to learn and so much to do! Bring it on!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

#Reverb12 - Learning

Compare the “you” from the beginning of 2012 to the “you” that you are now. What new skills or talents have you learned or discovered this year?

The "me" from the beginning of 2012 had hit a weight loss wall and was struggling to get back on track. She was extremely broke and stressing about finances every waking moment. She was handling a huge project at work and feeling like she was drowning in work and no one was listening to her. She was contemplating her future and her options to go back to school. She was rethinking how she handled her relationships (famiily, friends, significant other). The "me" from the beginning of 2012 felt like a stepping stone for everyone else's successes. She was breaking through a major barrier and still had so much to tear down before feeling like a whole person again. She was talking small steps backwards to reevaluate everything and wanted to take a slower approach at life.

And now? At the end of 2012, what have I learned or discovered?

I'm a rockstar, that's what I am! I still have some barriers to break down, but I am steam rolling things down left and right now. Instead of taking steps back, I pushed full steam ahead. I handled my financial situation like a champ and am making things much smoother for me to handle. Still some work to do in 2013,however I finally feel confident that I am making smarter financial decisions that will lead to great things in the future. I'm still drowning in work, but I've stopped being the stepping stone. I'm standing up for myself and taking names! I am an overachiever at work and I'm finally making sure people are aware that it was ME who did the awesome work that made a client happy or made a project a huge success. I'm not letting anyone push me over anymore and it feels great. I feel more confident in the workplace, with clients, with management. After spending most of the year weight my options, I started back at school to finish my Bachelor's degree. I'm hoping to learn some new skills to use at work, but also finally have a degree to support the vast knowledge and long list of skills I already have. 

I thought 2012 was going to be a rough year. I wasn't looking forward to the billions of things that I knew I would struggle with throughout the year. I just wanted to hide in a whole. But now, I can look back at this year and say WOW! I did a LOT! I went to Vegas, I went to Philly, I got engaged, I GOT MARRIED, I moved, I advanced my career, I got a new puppy (to keep the other puppy company), I finally got a car (after 2 years of not driving!). And all of this I did because of my Caveman. Talk about a husband who is consistently supportive and provides encouragement and constructive criticism that keeps me going daily! I don't think I would have accomplished so much had he not been there to endure it all with me!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

#Reverb12 - Dream Destination

What was your dream destination in 2012 and why? 
My dream destination this year was New York. 

At the beginning of this year, the only thing Caveman and I were planning was moving in the summer and a trip to Philly for a friends wedding at the end of May. We got really excited about how our finances were looking and the prospect that we would be able to extend our Philly trip and get 3-4 days in New York City. It is a place that we both badly want to visit and were so excited to go! And then.... we didn't go!

Right as the New Year started, a good friend of mine called and said she was getting married and I was to be in the wedding! Oh boy was I thrilled! This girl and I are very similar and have very few female close friends, so I was totally honored and couldn't believe it. And then she said that they were doing a destination wedding in Vegas, but with real dresses and tuxes (no shotgun/drive thru style)! That made me even more excited because I have never been to Vegas. And then the date.... April..... THIS YEAR!

There went our New York plans. Our extra money went towards our trip to Vegas. And I loved EVERY MINUTE of it!! Well, except the part where we walked for miles and my feet got blisters! It was lots of fun to spend a whole weekend with some great friends, experience a new city and watch two amazing people get married! Wouldn't have traded it for the world! 

Just means we will have to save New York for another year! Perhaps 2014?

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

#Reverb12 - Celebrating Me!

How are you going to celebrate your self this festive season? 
Not a whole lot I can do to celebrate myself this festive season - but I will do something pretty nice for myself that I desperately need. I will be getting a haircut - a REAL haircut. Not a super cheap Hair Masters haircut! I will be going to a salon to actually get a haircut that makes my hair look pretty! It's the little things that matter to me and make me feel better about myself! hehe!

This is Claudia from Warehouse 13 - and this is the hairstyle I would really like to get! I think my bangs and whatnot are finally long enough to achieve this! Only a few more days til I can get my haircut!

Monday, December 3, 2012

#Reverb12 - One Wish

Imagine a scenario where you only had one year left to live. What is one thing that you really wish to do that you just haven't had the chance to accomplish yet?

I would like to add: what steps could you take (however small) to ensure that you accomplish this thing in 2013?

I'm a very realistic dreamer. I like setting goals and wishes that are achievable, even if not for many years. I have almost everything I could ever want. A good career/job, loving friends, a supportive family, and the most caring husband ever. We have a nice life, 2 lovely puppies, and simple things! The only thing we would like is a home with a yard for our pups to play. But if I had to pick one thing that I really wish, that I haven't accomplished yet, it would be to be a mother.

I want a family of my own. I want to pass down traditions, teach my young one the rights and wrongs of the world, watch them grow and learn, and one day be proud of the life I brought into the world. With Christmas coming up, I sorta get jealous when my friends start new traditions or share old traditions with their kids. I really want to be able to do that one day with my own kid. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE spoiling my Nieces and Nephews, but its not the same.

Caveman and I were going to wait a year or more before we tried for a wee one, but we've recently talked about just trying now. If we keep waiting until we are "ready" and "prepared" to have a child, we will NEVER have a child! We feel we can handle anything, and adding a bundle of fun to our life, as crazy as it may be, would be awesome and fulfill a part of our lives that only a wee one can! Plus, Caveman as a dad would just be amazing to see!

As for what steps I could take to ensure I accomplish this in 2013.... well, I'm sure you can figure that out for yourself! ;)

I know the scenario is "if you only had one year left to live" - but I still feel that even a few short months of being a mother would be the best experience in my life.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

#Reverb12 - Your most Significant Expenditure?

Got the email for today's #Reverb12 prompt, and got excited. Something I could actually write about and quantify!
What was your most significant expenditure in 2012?
The best way to describe my most significant expenditure is with a picture.

A heartfelt discussion, a change of plans, and 28 days notice led the Caveman and I to move our wedding date up a whole year and get married in the most amazing way ever! The craziest part of the wedding planning is that for 2 weeks after we made the decision, I was on a business trip in Sacramento, CA. We decided on the last day of July that we were going to get married the last Saturday in August, and it was a whirlwind of planning immediately afterwards.

That weekend, I went dress shopping. On Saturday, I went with my good friend and tried on a handful of dresses that were OK, but nothing really outstanding. I decided on a dress that was pretty and in my price range, but would have to go to a different store to get it in my size. On Sunday, I went to the second store with the Caveman's Aunt and Uncle. I tried on the OK dress, but then Aunt pulled a dress that I loved off the rack. I was nervous to try it on, because it was outside of my price range, but she insisted. Putting the dress on was like magic. I felt like a princess. I truly felt beautiful and I immediately started crying! When I had to choose which dress to get, I said I would buy the OK because it still looked good on me and I could afford it. Aunt and Uncle asked me if I really wanted the other dress. Of course I said yes, but with the wedding date moved and the lack of funds, I just couldn't afford it. That was when I really started crying, because they offered to cover the additional cost to get me the dress I loved!

After that, the whole wedding process just snowballed to completion! We had our marriage license and wedding venue selected within 5 days. And during the 2 weeks I was in Sacramento, so many family members stepped in to help!

My grandma took on taking care of food and place settings, she even helped create the post cards for the guest book idea we used. My Aunt helped house things at her place and put things together. The Aunt and Uncle that helped with the dress, made our wedding cake. The other Aunt handmade my veil. Caveman's mom made the bouquets. His Grandma cleaned up my dress and fixed all the loose beads. She even sewed on little clasps so that the small jacket would stay clasped to my dress! My close friends handled music. Caveman's former youth pastor did the honor of being our Officiant. and our 2 best friends agreed to step in as Matron of Honor and Best Man. And even on the short notice, our originally photographer (the amazing Luminous Photography by Krystal) wound up being available to cover the event. It was like all the pieces just fell together.

I will admit that there were some hectic times. There were moments where I felt like things were getting TOO out of hand. We changed  the date by a whole year, and agreed to keep the event super small and intimate, but that didn't stop people from trying to grow and grow and grow the plans for the day. We agreed only immediate family and the super CLOSEST of friends only. I felt bad that we couldn't invite everyone we wanted to, but time, venue, and finances just wouldn't allow it!

It cost us all our savings. Especially since we did it only a month after moving. It was the largest expenditure we had all year, and was worth every penny we spent. I've shared a few pictures over the last couple months, and have been meaning to write about our wedding for ages - now I have! and I will end this with a slideshow with TONS more pics of our magical day! Caveman and I could't be happier!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

#Reverb12 - How are YOU starting?

Its that time again! The time to reflect on the past year and prepare for the next. Its time for #Reverb! This will be the 3rd year that I have participated in the December blog challenge.

This year I was invited by Kat at I Saw You Dancing to follow the prompts she will be providing throughout the month. Each day in December there will be a new reflective prompt to respond to. So without further ado, let's get started with the first prompt!
How are you starting this last month of 2012?
Take a moment, close your eyes, take a deep breath and ask yourself the question: how do you feel...
... in your body? in your mind? in your day job? in your creative life? in your heart?
Exhausted, excited, broke, full of love, married, happy, healthy-ish, anxious, nervous, defeated, depressed, eager, hopeful.

There you have it. I closed my eyes, I took a deep breath in, and thought about how I felt. As a feeling came to me, I wrote it. 13 words to define where I stand right now. These are feelings I experience each and every day. Some more the others, some I wish I could get rid of. I don't want to elaborate on all of those feelings quite yet, but to see them written out makes the think about where I can make improvements to the negative feelings.

So how am I starting this last month of 2012? I am starting it with a fresh mind, a fresh set of eyes, a new outlook on life, and a more positive attitude towards living. I am married to the love of my life. I started school to finish my Bachelors. I am achieving greater things at work each day.

I'm starting this month with a BANG!

Friday, November 23, 2012

A Day of Thanks...

Today was a great day! Getting to spend the day with Josh's family to enjoy good food and great company was nice. Throughout the day, I kept thinking about all the amazing things I am thankful for.

Many of my friends spent each day this month saying a different things that they were thankful. I don't participate, because I am thankful for EVERY day. But today, I really spent the time thinking about what I am thankful for.

I am thankful for my family, both immediate and extended. I am especially thankful for my mother. We didn't live the greatest life and we didn't always get along, but every day I face this world, I think about all the sacrifices she made to raise me, my brother, and my sister. This year she celebrated 12 years sober and I am  so incredibly proud of her for it! She's the strongest woman I know and I love her so much.

I'm thankful for my friends, the ones who stand by me through all the struggles I face and are willing to be honest with me. The ones who are there for the random calls. The ones who deal with all the craziness. Over the years I've weeded through all the friends I thought were "true" and left only the ones I can truly trust. Its been a rough learning experience, but now I know I have the best support system around me. I'd rather have a small handful of the best friends ever, than dozens of crummy ones!

I am thankful for my husband. At a time in my life where I had given up on relationships, felt useless and unwanted, and generally wanted to spend my life alone, I met a wonderful man. He let me be who I wanted to be. He supported me in the things I was passionate about. And he never made me feel like I was anything less than amazing! After 3 and a half wild and crazy years together, we married this summer in a small beautiful ceremony on the beach with our family and closest of friends! He makes everyday fun, regardless of the situation. He is a great husband and I know one day he will make a wonderful father!

And lastly, I'm thankful for a man who isn't here anymore. This week marks 15 years since my Grandpa passed away. Not a day goes by that I don't think about him. I am thankful for every day I got to spend with him, every holiday we spent together, and all the amazing times we celebrated as a family. I live everyday in his honor and know he's watching over us all. I think about all the things he hasn't been here to see; the birth of my baby sister, my graduation, my brothers graduation, first cars, first loves, and even my wedding. Its hard not having him here, but I remember all the great times and cherish them. Love you Grampy!

I hope everyone had an amazing day with friends and family!!

Peace and Good JuJu,

Monday, November 12, 2012

I made an awesome meal.....

and realized when I was done that I didn't track anything for the blog! I was in such a rush to make up some Breakfast wraps from a recipe I found, that I completely spaced on taking pics and documenting my process. I feel bad, but I will not let you down!

I used a recipe I found from Pinterest, that linked to a blog called Are We There Yet? Here is the recipe I followed/modified to make my breakfast wraps: Breakfast Burritos. I made a small batch of these breakfast wraps, without the sausage, and put them in my freezer for the next week+. I can't wait to wake up tomorrow morning and give them a try!

Next week, I promise to make sure I have my camera on hand! I picked up a new recipe book, Just the Two of Us Cookbook by Betty Crocker, and I will be trying a new recipe this week for the Caveman and I!  Stay tuned for more yummy foods!

Peace and Good JuJu,

Friday, November 9, 2012

Giving Up...

I give up - eating crummy foods.
I give up - being lazy about my exercise.
I give up - buying my lunch every day.
I give up - coming up with excuses NOT to exercise or eat healthy.
I give up - not checking in more frequently!

I am realizing that my life has gotten INCREASINGLY busy since we moved and go married. Home life is running a million miles a minute, work is running a million miles a minute, and coming up in a couple weeks I am going to start school again, which of course will be a million miles a minute. And in all the craziness, the one thing that always suffers if my fitness goals.

Taking a page from a fellow work out buddy Lesley, I've decided to plan every day with what NEEDS to be done, while still leaving open space for the spontaneous things. I need a schedule, a routine I can stick to, and one that will allow me to get everything accomplished, keep my sanity, and be easy to manage.

This weekend I will be working on my Google Calendar to plan my days with meal and snack times, exercise, travel time, work, anything and everything that I know for a fact can be planned. Additionally, I will finish the final touches on our Home Organization white board.
Our new Organization board!
This board is right outside our bedroom door, in perfect view of the kitchen, and in the most open part of the main living area of our apartment. You CANT miss it! I will have my cleaning schedule organized and my weekly planned meals listed to eliminate the "what do you want for dinner" debate. I used some scrapbooking tape to divide it up, and Caveman picked up some Days-of-the-Week magnets for me. I even included 2 pieces that require Caveman and I to update - his doodle corner and the " I love you because" section. So far, both have been very successful!

Additionally, I've decided I need to start being more active in the fitness community, like I was when I was successful last year. So, to help wtih that I've decided to start writing fitness posts for the gaming community I belong to, Popchix. And perhaps starting up the fitness challenges I used to do with my gaming girls! It could be fun!

So there you have it! Haven't blogged in forever, life is keeping me busy, but I don't want to slip too far away! Keep a look out, because I'll be posting more!

Peace and Good JuJu,

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

October is my favorite month of the year, because it means Halloween is coming! Halloween is my favorite holiday! the decorations, the smells, the fun foods, the parties - its all just a wonderful time!

The other day we had a pumpkin carving night at our house! Caveman and I hosted and invited his brother and little sister over to carve pumpkins with us. 4 large pumpkins around 1 table! It was a fun time! The best part was the bonding over something fun and not just sitting in front of the TV zoning out and ignoring each other.
The 4 pumpkins! (Ours are the two in the middle: Tardis and Face Hugger)
Other than the fun, and mess, that comes with carving pumpkins, I love this time because of the seeds! Roasted pumpkin seeds are one of my favorite fall treats! For the last couple of years, we haven't had a pumpkin because we've always been moving in October, so this is the first time we've had a pumpkin and pumpkin seeds since our first year together! Roasting pumpkin seeds is easy to do and once they are done, they are delicious to eat!
Pumpkin Seeds
Olive Oil
Kosher salt
Cayenne Pepper
The first thing you need to do is thoroughly rinse the pumpkin seeds and ensure all the pulp is removed. Once that is done, it is best to lay the seeds out on a backing tray, single layer, and let them dry over night. Now that you have a bunch of dry seeds, its time to combine the ingredients in a large bowl. I like to use 1 teaspoon of olive oil for every cup of seeds that you have. once the seeds are lightly coated with olive oil, add the seasonings of your choice. I like a little kosher salt and some cayenne pepper! Gives a bit of a kick and warms up the body, perfect on those cold Fall days! You can use any kind of seasoning you prefer. 4 Pumpkins yielded us over 7 cups of pumpkin seeds!

Once you've coated the seeds and dashed them with your favorite seasoning, place them on a baking sheet win tin foil over it. Make sure the seeds are laid in a single layer and not doubled up, for proper cooking. Next, bake at 325 degrees for 25 minutes. Before long your house will smell like the delicious spices you used to coat the seeds!
the left over seeds after cooking 2 larger batches!
When you are baking the seeds, be sure to let them cool completely. Then, store them in an airtight container. 
One of 3 containers we filled!
Delicious fall-time snack! Always a favorite of mine this time of year and now it provides an excellent mid day snack while I'm at work! Let me know if the comments below what kind of seasonings you like to use on roasted pumpkin seeds!

Peace and Good JuJu,

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Bacon Wrapped Chicken

Bacon! Who doesn't love bacon? Well - to be completely honest, I'm not the biggest fan of bacon. However, I have found some meals that make bacon the perfect complement to an amazing meal! And a big hit at my house is Bacon Wrapped Chicken! 

I love this recipe so much that I've tried a variety of different pairings with it! I can honestly say that there is no wrong way to pair this item! Its delicious with everything! So let's get cookin'!
Chicken breasts cut in thirds (think of chicken tender size)
Bacon slices
Salt and Pepper
Garlic Powder
Chili Powder
Brown Sugar
Begin by preheating the oven to 400 degree. I like to cover a sheet pan with aluminum foil and then spray lightly with an olive oil spray.

Next, you will cut the chicken breasts into tender sized pieces. Generally that means cutting the chicken breast into 3 slices. Once its all sliced up, season the chicken with a dash of salt and pepper, garlic powder, and chili powder.

Now, you will wrap a bacon slice around each piece of chicken. If you need to, cut the bacon slices in half. I find it is sometimes easier to do this if the chicken piece is small. After it is wrapped up, roll the combo in some brown sugar and place on your sheet pan. Sprinkle a little brown sugar over the top, but only if you missed a spot originally. Too much brown sugar can be a bad thing in this case!

Now, bake your bacon wrapped chicken at 400 degrees for 30-40 minutes. Make sure your chicken is cooked thoroughly and the bacon is brown and crispy!

I serve this with a salad, mashed potatoes, pasta, or even some brown rice and veggies. It all depends on your mood for the evening! So give a try for yourself and tell me how you like it!

Peace and Good JuJu,

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

How to plan a wedding in 28 days!

While not ideal, it is possible to plan a wonderful wedding in just 28 days!

As I stated in an earlier blog, on Friday July 28th during the 6:30am walk to the bus station so we could go to work, Pre-Hubby turned to me and asked "So, you think you could find a wedding dress in a month?" and the ball started rolling! There were factors that went into making this quick decision (and no, i'm not pregnant!) but I don't regret it one bit! Before I got to work at 7:30 we had picked a date, made a tentative plan, called my mom, called some of his family, and started the process of planning a wedding!

And the most difficult of all the planning? The Venue. Since we were originally planning a wedding for a year from now, we had chosen a venue that wasn't cheap, but also wasn't super expensive like most places. It was beautiful and on the water. As soon as we bumped the date up, that venue went right out the window. Why? 2 reasons:
  1. The venue was almost $1000 to rent for 5 hours. Planning a wedding in 28 days, when we had just nearly drained our savings to move 2 weeks prior, left us with maybe $1000 for the WHOLE event.
  2. It was already booked! Duh - people book these places a year in advance!
So, I resorted to plan B - a beautiful park near the water. It shouldn't be that hard to find a park that has a covered picnic area and a small bit of privacy for us to throw a quick ceremony and enjoy time with family. With so many options available, I figured I'd find just want I needed in no time. WRONG! I called at least 10 different city park offices and looked up/researched/questioned over 100 different parks from Mukilteo all the way to Lakewood. Boy was it hard! Most places were booked all day or all day except for 1-2 hours. and that just wouldn't do.

I kept my bestie updated with all my struggles in finding a park and she reminded me of a beautiful park in Steilacoom that she had looked at with her sister-in-law when she was was planning her wedding. I knew it was a bit of a drive from where we live (about 2 hours) but in relation to most of the people that would be coming, it was a great location. When I called and asked if it was open for the morning (I originally wanted a wedding at 11am) I was told they were booked. I started to get discouraged until she said "But the location is available from 5pm until the park closes at 10pm"..... Really? I know it is in the evening, but its RIGHT on the beach and its beautiful and its open?! AND... its only $80 for the rental?? SOLD!

This whole process took about 4 days to complete. From calling all the places, researching options, finding the right one, and then having Pre-hubby drive all the way down to the venue to check it out and pay the deposit. The best part was that when he got to the location - he LOVED it!

And then it became real! there was no turning back! We'd locked down a venue and the rest would just fall in to place.... sorta!

That's all for this week! Next week - the dress! And man was it a gorgeous dress!

Have a great day everyone!

Peace and Good JuJu,

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Spicy Chili Soup

Now that Fall is here - I must share one of my favorite Crock-Pot recipe! I learned this recipe last fall and since then have made it at least a dozen times! It provides plenty of leftovers for the Caveman and I and is a big hit with some of our friends! Each time I make it, I love it a little bit more!

1 1/4 lbs. Lean Ground Beef, Turkey, or Shredded Chicken
1 Onion, chopped
2 cloves Garlic, chopped
1 Bell Pepper, seeded and chopped
8 oz. Sliced Mushrooms
1 (14oz) can Crushed Tomatoes
1 (48oz.) can reduced sodium tomato or vegetable Cocktail Juice
1 (14oz) can Beans rinsed and drained.
1 Tbs.Ground Cumin
1/8 tsp. cayenne, or to taste
1/4 cup each fresh Cilantro and Parsley, chopped

This is an easy recipe! First things first, cook your choice of meat. I love using ground turkey seasoned with cayenne pepper. I'm a fan of spicy soup to warm me up in the cold weather!

While the meat is cooking, combine the remaining ingredients in your crockpot. Start with the vegetable juice and the can of crushed tomatos. Then add the beacns and the chopped vegetables. Make sure to stir everything together. Once stirred together, add the spices and chopped parsley and cilantro. Stir everything once again.

By now the meat will be done cooking and properly seasoned. Make sure to drain the meat from any juices. once drained, toss into the crockpot with the rest of the ingredients and stir well! Turn the crockpot on High heat and let cook for 2 hours 30 minutes.

The smell of the soup cooking will fill your whole house and it will be glorious! Pair with some bread of your choosing, like Naan, and you have yourself a hearty meal for the whole family! This typically makes enough soup for 6-8 people, depending on the size of the bowl.

I would love to head what you think of this meal and any variations you use to improve it!

Peace and Good JuJu,

Friday, September 21, 2012

The week of meetings

Want to know the one thing that kills my diet plans? Meetings! Meetings at work that are always last minute, stressful, all over the place, and have to be conveniently scheduled during my snack time or my lunch time. REALLY?!

I set up a plan for my meals for all last week. I was motivated to bring my lunch and make dinner every nights. So what happened? random meeting at lunch, impromptu "gathering" at lunch, dinner for josh's birthday, missed lunch, forgotten snacks, and an overall mess of my eating habits for the week! I bought all the ingredients to make turkey wraps for lunch and here it is Friday and I haven't made a single one! ARGH!!!

How do I manage this? How does anyone manage this? I don't have the budget to be eating out or eating on the fly when I'm at work, but I have a hell of a time scheduling my meals and being able to get them in during the work day.

I would love to hear any ideas on how to get through a workday without ruining an eating plan! In the mean time, I'm slowly working on increasing my water intake. Its going well. Still not where I need to be in general but working hard!

Before I head off for the night - I thought I would take just a quick second to say HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my hubby! I love you Caveman and am so glad you enjoyed the birthday surprise today!

Peace and Good JuJu,

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Goals: Failed!

So, if you read my last post, you know I've been just a little busy the last 2 months. This week made me see how that has affected other areas of my life. Like my kitchen! HOLY MOLY - there is almost no food in my house! And my last weigh in? Not so pretty! And my goals I set for myself at the end of June? Totally blown, not a single one was kept. Yup - this is me saying I screwed up - AGAIN! You can shake your head at me, trust me, I know how pathetic it sounds. But if losing weight and keeping it off was an easy task, there wouldn't be a billion books and articles and exercise and diet plans created every year to help "battle the bulge"!

Back in May, I listed my health goals. and after reading them, I still want to accomplish all of the goals on that list. To recap - here they are again:
  1. I want to weigh 150lbs - this will require me losing 100+ lbs.
  2. I want to be able to Jog (not run) for a minimum of 30 minutes without getting winded.
  3. I want to fit into a dress I still own from my first year of college.
  4. I want to be able to try on wedding dresses without worrying if they will carry my size.
  5. I want to have children and not be overweight when I do.
  6. I want to expand my food knowledge so that I make healthier food choices.
  7. I want to work towards a whole month with no fast food.
  8. I want to step on the scale at my doctor's office and for the nurse to tell me my weight falls into the NORMAL category.
  9. I want to train for a half marathon.
  10. I want to share my experiences with other women, and men, to help them gain the courage to get healthy as well!

I've looked over these goals and really tried to break them down in my head. I've tried to plan on when I could accomplish these goals and how I plan to accomplish them. To make it easier on myself, and to prevent myself from getting discouraged when I don't accomplish ALL OF THEM, I've decided I need to make smaller, more attainable goals. I always feel like I'm setting realistic goals, but then I look at them and feel overwhelmed. Lose 100+ lbs? Yeah - because that's just so easy! (Yes, that was sarcasm!)

To reach any of the goals, I need to have an organized home! I find that when I don't have an organized home that I am scattered, stressed, and less likely to do something productive. Lucky for me I'm spending the weekend working on organizing the apartment! That includes unpacking enough items to clear room in the living room and spare room, reorganizing the kitchen, stocking up the apartment with nutritious food, and putting my workout stuff in an easily accessible location (not in a bag in a box, hidden in the closet)!

So what are my smaller goals? Here are just a couple and how I plan to reach them!

  1. Lose 20lbs. by Christmas. - This will take some time. I'm learning to rely less on the NUMBER and more on the feel of clothes and my fitness level. However I know the number is still important in the grand scheme of things.
  2. Increase Water Intake. - I know I need to be drinking 64oz of water a day, minimum. I have a water glass at work that I can refill and I need to start drinking more water at home. I would like to increase to 100oz of water a day. I feel this will help flush some of the "yuck" out of my system and make my body feel better during the day. 
  3. Cut back on fast food. - Never fails, whenever I try to give up fast food completely I wind up gorging for days! I can't escape getting a meal at lunch on occasion, but I can control what I eat for dinner. My goal for the month of October is to not have any fast food for Dinner and ensure I make the time to have a home cooked meal each night.
  4. 4 days a week exercise! - I do a lot of walking during my work day. To and from the bus station is 10 minutes minimum and then there is 8 minutes each way to walk to and from the bus at work. I've started to NOT count that in my exercise and instead will strive to do ADDITIONAL exercises 4 days a week. I really love the programs and enjoy how they are usually between 12 and 20 minutes to complete. They are high intensity interval training exercises, and every time I have done them in the past, they have KILLED me! They work every muscle and get my heart rate going! So, since the recommendation is 3x's a week at 30 minutes, I'm going for 4 days a week at 12-20 minutes!
If I work hard at these smaller goals, I know the bigger ones will fall into place. I still want to lose 100+ lbs, I still want to fit into my dress from college, I still want to train for a half marathon - but I will be doing it all on a much smaller scale. Slow and steady wins the race, right? And now that I already OWN a wedding dress, I would like to get to a point where I can alter it to fit my NEW size!

Over the next couple weeks, I'll touch on each of the 4 smaller goals and check in with my progress. After a couple months, I'll reevaluate how I want to continue and go from there! Until then, hope you stick around to watch the journey! So many adventures, so little time!

Peace and Good JuJu,

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Guess Who's Back?

Welcome back Blogging friends! Or should I be welcoming back MYSELF?! Boy has it been a wild 2 months. Can't believe so many things have happened and I haven't had a chance to blog about them and share with you all! First, lets recap the last 2 months: Got accepted to a new apartment, packed, moved, cleaned, started unpacking, decided to get married in 28 days, started planning wedding, left for 2 week (hellish) business trip in Sacramento, came home, got married, still unpacking!

Yup, that about sums up the last 2 months! A whirlwind of crazy and fun and so many emotions! I know I posted a quick blurb with some pics from the wedding, but other than that I haven't posted since we started the move! Here's a little run down on where I've been!

Let's start with the move! Oh the glorious move! So much packing, so much cleaning, so much stuff!! Where does it all come from?! And how does it all fit in one place but never the next? Packing was an adventure and moving took far longer than expected! We ran into every bump in the road that you can imagine! And after we got everything OUT, we still had to clean the old place! Even though we started moving on June 11th, we didn't get fully out of the old place and cleaned until the very last day of the month! We tried scheduling a walkthrough of the old place, and the complex wasn't willing to work with our schedules. Needless to say, they did the walkthrough on their own and are trying to vastly over charge us for "damages". I'm still working with them, over a month later, to get things resolved but am optimistic for a positive resolution soon.

The new apartment, is fun! Its bigger, 2 bathrooms, and has covered patio that has full paneling all around. It makes it easier to just put the dogs on the back patio and let them enjoy the sun and be outside. Its not a yard, but that is the goal for next summer! Hopefully things go our way next year! In the mean time, I'm still unpacking and trying to find homes for everything. Even though the place is larger, I feel like the amount of room there is to place thing is smaller. We don’t have drawers in the kitchen, except a couple small ones for utensils and dish rags, which means I don't have a home for my Tupperware right now. Its sort of all over the counters! I do love the layout of my kitchen though! It has a center bar area with the dishwasher and sink and small counter. I just envision how useful it will be when we have our annual Christmas Eve party! Or even better, the Halloween party we are having this year! FUN!

So in addition to the big move that didn't get finished until the last day of July, I spent the first two full weeks of August in Sacramento with a co-worker and my boss. Well, boss was only there the 1st week. We are doing some new work lately that required us to be onsite at a clients location and remeasure the whole building! THE WHOLE BUILDING!!! That included 8 standard floors, a basement, 2 penthouse/roof levels, and a whole new site plan that included renumbering their parking spaces and redrawing their parking boundary fence. It was a government building, where the immigration offices are located, and in many of the areas we went to we had to be escorted with people following us around as we did our measuring with laser devices. It was 10 hour days on site to get all the measurements we needed. And even then, we found we missed spots after we got back. It was rough, it made me want to cry, but all in all, it was a wild adventure! Some of the roughest days were when I had to go back to the hotel and work on stuff for my client back in Seattle, because I didn't have anyone who could do the work in my absence! It added 4-5 hours to my days sometimes. It was exhausting! As a bonus though, I did get a slight tan because of the heat and lounging by the pool and I got to drive over to Reno to visit my Grammy and my aunt. It was definitely good to see them. Especially since I decided a week before leaving to have my wedding a week after I got back, and my aunt wasn't going to make it. It was nice to see her and mini-celebrate with her!

So, wedding! A wedding that was planned for August 17th of 2013 wound up happening on August 25th of 2012! A Lot of factors went into making this decision. I started planting the seed in June with the Pre-Hubby that we should just get married in August. Small, simple, intimate, immediate family only. I was tired of the stress that was coming along with trying to plan a party for under 100 people without spending a fortune that we didn't have. Additionally, his Grandpa was having heart issues and had to have a triple bypass surgery. He tried acting tough, but you could see how worried he was that something was going to happen and Grandpa wouldn't make it. Regardless, he kept telling me to relax and keep planning what I wanted and we would find a way.

Midway through our move, we got a call that Grandpa had a heart attack and was back in the hospital. His Grandpa is as important to him as my Grampy was to me. And when we saw his grandpa a week after the heart attack, he just looked defeated. While we were, and still are, praying that Grandpa would be just fine, I could sense that Pre-Hubby wanted to make sure that his Grandpa got to see him get married. And heck, if he came through everything fine and lived long enough to see grandchildren, it would just be a bonus! Again, I mentioned we should just get married in August. We didn't have to have a big party, we were both worried about his Grandpa's health, and for my family that was out of town, we could get them over really quickly.

So, on Friday July 28th, on the 6:30am walk to the bus station so we could go to work, Pre-Hubby turned to me and asked "so, you think you could find a wedding dress in a month?" and the ball started rolling! Before I got to work at 7:30 we had picked a date, made a tentative plan, called my mom, called some of his family, and started the process of planning a wedding! I won't bore you with all the details (I'll save that for the Wedding Wednesday posts) but things got planned quick, family stepped in and helped wherever they could, and we wound up having the most amazing wedding, on the beach, at sunset, that I ever could have asked for. My dream sure came true! I had my family, my closest friends, and married the love of my life who is no longer Pre-Hubby, just Hubby (I call him Caveman)!

And now, I'm back at work. No honeymoon, that will wait until next year. While it didn't cost us an arm and a leg to get married, it did deplete all our extra savings. So, we have to save up to take a nice vacation to Florida next year! As you can imagine, the chaos of the last 2 months has not fared well with my Fitness goals. And I slipped WAY off the wagon. But knowing that all the stress that I would have endured for a year of planning is done and over, and I can just live my life every day with just normal day struggles, I'm at a better place to get back on board and "trim the fat"!

Fitness Friday will start back up tomorrow, where I will re-evaluate my goals. Getting married changed my outlook a lot on my fitness goals! Not sure why, but I feel like something just clicked in my brain! More on that tomorrow!

Savory Sunday will be back this week with a yummy new dish! I've been eating out FAR TOO often in recent weeks. With my kitchen almost in order after the move, its time to get my culinary skills to work by making up a delicious new treat!

And Wedding Wednesday! I wanted to share the wedding planning as it was happening, but we kept the whole thing a secret from everyone except immediately family. I'll spend a few weeks (maybe longer depending on how detailed I get) going through the different planning steps and how we wound up NOT going broke for our dream wedding!

Lots of rambling, lots of grammar errors, but lots of adventures! If you stuck around during the Hiatus - THANK YOU!! If you are just joining - WELCOME! I can't wait to get back into a normal blogging rhythm and sharing my many adventures with you all!

Peace and Good JuJu,

Thursday, August 30, 2012

SURPRISE - I got Married!

Don't have time to write about it at this moment, but here are some pics to keep people busy!
Holly and Josh's Wedding
Peace and Good JuJu, Holly

Friday, July 6, 2012

On Hiatus while Moving

The Many Adventures of Hef will be on Hiatus for the next couple weeks! I am currently in the middle of a rapid speed move! How rapid? We were approved on Thursday and get the keys on Tuesday! My internet connection will be down for about a week and I will be packing, unpacking, and cleaning during that time! I will be back in a couple weeks with more great recipes, fitness followups, and of course Wedding news (big things coming!)

Peace and Good JuJu,

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy 4th of July, 2012

Today's Wedding Wednesday post will be replaced with a simple holiday message.

Peace and Good JuJu,

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Mediterranean Pita Pizzas

This meal is a simple meal that is completely customizable! Pre-hubby LOVES pizza, particularly Papa John's. I love pizza too, but this man could eat pizza all the time if he wanted to. To help cut costs and create a healthier option, I discovered this great recipe for Pita Pizzas. A lot less calories, a lot less cost, and way more fun!

4 large whole-grain pita rounds
1 cup spaghetti sauce
8 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese
2 chicken breasts, diced in 1 inch cubes OR Pepperoni slices
4 cups sliced mixed vegetables (onions, peppers, mushrooms, olives, etc.)

First, heat the oven to 350°F. If you plan on having chicken on your pizza, heat a large skillet on high. After the pan is heated, spray with a big of olive oil cooking spray and cook the chicken for 3-4 minutes, until there is no pink left.

Arrange pita rounds on one or more baking sheets covered with tin foil. Spread about ¼ cup of spaghetti sauce on each pita (use the back of a spoon for easy spreading). Top each pizza with 2 ounces cheese (about 2/3 cup), then arrange your choice of vegetables and the cooked chicken or pepperoni slices on the top.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the cheese is lightly browned.

There ya' have it! A quick, healthy, and cheap solution to having pizza! I often make 2 pizzas, one for dinner and one to take for lunch the next day! So yummy!

Let me know if you try the meal and what you think of it!

Peace and Good JuJu,

Friday, June 29, 2012

Can I really do this?

The day has come. The Biggest Loser contest at work starts on Monday! I have been slowly getting my habits in place over the last few weeks so that I'm not just jumping into everything and failing again. I read a friends blog today about constantly picking yourself back up again after falling off the weight-loss wagon. It really hit home. I feel like that constantly. I did so wonderful for around 3 months, and then its been this on-again, off-again relationship that I'm really getting tired of.

I've set some goals for myself lately. Small and attainable ones. The real fun will be seeing if I can stick with them. Its been a high stress time for me at work and home lately. Work is a mile and minute, while home life has me worrying about wedding planning and trying to move in July. Its just a lot to deal with lately. I get stressed way too easily and it really takes a toll on me!

So, here are my goals that's I've set up.

  • Exercise with my Your Shape: Fitness Evolved game at least 3 days a week for 30 minutes
  • No more soda - period!
  • try to go on one long walk or hike every other weekend
  • While in California (first 2 weeks of August) try to eat in at least 5 nights a week.
  • no buying lunch unless it is a team lunch activity. MUST MAKE OWN LUNCH
There ya' have it. My simple list of goals I want to accomplish for this year. Notice how there is no weight goal listed? I have one in my head, but I am tired of putting it down and being extremely disappointed when I don't reach it. We will see how this goes!

Weigh in and my personal measurements will be on Monday, so I will probably make a special post just for that!

Other than that, stay tuned and lets see what I can accomplish in the next 9 weeks!

Peace and Good JuJu,

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Trying to win my Dream Dress - Won't you help?!

This is my pathetic plea! I don't normally do things like this, but this is probably my only chance to get my dream dress!

If you've read any of my posts, you understand that I don't come from a rich family, I don't have lots of money, and I live a rather average lifestyle. But its my life that I'm completely happy with! Since becoming engaged, I'm realizing just how expensive the whole wedding planning/process is.

I know we will have to have a budget wedding, and the vision I have is totally doable! I think I've finally settled on a venue too! The one thing that really concerns me, that is most important to me, is my wedding dress. A budget wedding doesn't really have the wiggle room to plan for my dream dress. Not to say my dress is outrageously expensive, but its over my budget. This means that I will probably have to settle for a  very pretty dress, knowing that its not truly the one that I want!

And what is my dream dress? THIS is my dream dress!
The Ariel Disney Princess dress from Alfred Angelo's Disney Bridal collection! Its absolutely gorgeous and everything I want in a dress. Its just the right shape and style to make me look great on my wedding day! I stare at the dress a lot and I can completely envision myself wearing this dress down the aisle! But alas, it is outside of my budget.

That's where the HELP part comes in! I recently found a contest through Pear Tree Greetings, the company we are looking at to do all our wedding invites and other stationary items, to win $1500 towards my dream dress. That is more than enough to cover the cost of the Ariel Dress! The contest rules stipulate that I must enter a picture of Pre-Hubby and I and tell our engagement story. After that, I am to get  friends to vote for us! For the first two days after I entered, we were in the lead, and now we are bordering on 5th place! I need to be in the top 5 to even be considered for the grand prize!

The contest is held on Facebook. You have to go to the contest page and vote for the couple you want to win. You can only vote ONCE during the whole contest. I need as many votes as possible to win this dress and would love if you all would vote for us and share with your friends to vote for us as well! Vote for us here! You may have to like their page in order to vote, but I know people who have unliked the page afterwards and the vote still remained! If you see this picture, you know you are in the right place!
Pre-Hubby and I all dressed up in Vegas!
EVERY VOTE IS FOREVER APPRECIATED!!! And any shares with your friends and votes from them are greatly appreciated as well! Please help us win. I want nothing more than to wear my dream dress on my wedding day!!

Thank you to everyone!

Peace and Good JuJu,

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Summer lunch for the kids!

A couple months ago, I made the "long" drive to go visit my best friend. I live almost 2 hours north of her, so to us, it is a long drive! Her husband was out for the day, so it was just us and her 2 kids, my adorable niece and nephew! I was so happy to spend the day with them all, so I found a couple Disney Junior recipes to make a fun filled lunch for the kids. Well of course, it was a total hit! And why wouldn't it be, Auntie Holly is one pretty cool lady who makes awesome food! We made Meatloaf Cupcakes and Veggie Skateboards! Not only did my niece and nephew love them, but even the neighbor kids who came over enjoyed them. So, first up, Meatloaf Cupcakes.

2 medium russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
1 1/4 pound lean ground turkey
3 large egg whites
2 medium carrots, peeled and grated
1/4 cup shredded asiago cheese
1/4 cup low-sodium tomato sauce
1 1/2 cups panko bread crumbs
3 tablespoons fat-free milk
Salt and pepper to taste
First up, preheat oven to 350 degrees. With the oven going, place the potatoes in a medium saucepan and fill with cool water. Bring potatoes to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-high and cook until potatoes are soft. Drain the potatoes and set them aside.

In a medium bowl mix together turkey, egg whites, carrots, asiago cheese, tomato sauce and bread crumbs. Use your hands to completely combine the ingredients. Line a muffin tin with 8 cupcake liners. Scoop the mixture into the cupcake liners, mounding mixture so that it rises higher than the surface of the muffin tin. Bake until cooked through, about 22 minutes. Let cool somewhat before removing from muffin tin.

Next up is the potatoes. Place potatoes, milk, salt and pepper in a medium bowl and beat with an electric mixer until fluffy. Last step is to spread the potatoes over the tops of cupcakes and serve. You can do this by either scooping on top with a spoon, or using a cupcake tip and a pastry bag!

And now for the veggie snack!
1 extra large carrot, peeled
2 small cucumbers
3 slices mozzarella or Swiss cheese
These are extremely simple to make and super fun! First, trim up the carrot by cutting off the ends. Then, cut carrot in half. To make the board part of the skateboard, slice carrot lengthwise into four 4-inch-long slices.

Trim the top and bottom ends from the cucumber. To make the skateboard wheels, cut cucumber into eight 2-inch-thick slices.

Cut cheese slices into strips, circles, stars, or any other shaped desired. For fancy shapes, use small fondant cutters.

Last thing to do is to assemble skateboards, place a carrot strip on top of two cucumber wheels. Decorate carrot with cheese. Now, in my photo it will look different because we did it backwards with carrot wheels and cucumber tops, but either way works great!

So, there you have it. A fun weekend meal for the kids! Let me know if you try it and what you think of it!

Peace and Good JuJu,

Friday, June 22, 2012

Warning: Yoga is DANGEROUS!

I would like to tell a story about my exercise session from Monday!

First off, I'm doing a lot better with my eating habits! I know that if I can just conquer my eating habits, I'll be on a better path towards a healthier me. If only I could just keep going with the exercise part, I would be much better off!

Now, onto my Monday story. I own the Your Shape: Fitness Evolved 2012 game for the Xbox Kinect. I have used it a number of times, but never consistently. I know, I'm bad, but I'm getting better! So, I decided to start small and do a mix of routines for 20 minutes, 3 times a week. I know its something that I can commit to and start with. Eventually I hope to build up to more time, and maybe 5 times a week.

The main thing I love about the game is the wide variety of different programs and exercises you can do. There are activities set up for specific body parts, for toning, cardio, dance type classes. and even yoga. With all stress I've been under lately, I decided to try the yoga part.

I've done yoga before. My experience isn't broad by any means, but I've done a few yoga DVDs in the comfort of my home and also tried Hot Yoga (which I loved by the way!). So, I figured doing Yoga with the Your Shape game would be a nice mix up and could possibly help alleviate some stress. I love how the game plays calming music as you are doing the yoga poses. I started with some breathing exercises. Then moved into some light poses. Everything was going great. Until I started moving into a Warrior III pose.

Warrior III is a pose I've done a handful of times, but never inside of my cramped spare room. So there I am. Doing a light squat, stretching out my arms, reaching forward and beginning to pull my left leg up. Once I have my leg up, I begin to stretch my leg behind me and balance on my right leg.... only instead of balancing, I stretched my leg back a LITTLE too forcefully and slammed my foot right into the closet door. And I don't mean lightly. Let me tell you, I fell face first on the ground! Immediately followed by hysterical laughter! I realized then that I was standing way too close to the closet doors. 4 days later and my leg STILL hurts.

After telling my friends and coworkers about why I was limping, everyone just laughed. The most common response I got was "You know, yoga is supposed to be a peaceful exercise!" This I know, but now I know just how dangerous it can be too! HEHE!

Okay, cheesy story, I know, but its all I could think of right now! Its been a crazy busy and stressful week. I'm just trying to keep up my light workouts and keep sticking with my eating habits. Before long they will just be second nature and that's when the real fun begins!

Peace and Good JuJu,

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

To do or Not to do - Engagement Photos?

I've been in a battle with myself since the Pre-Hubby and I got engaged.. should we do Engagement photos or not?

To me, I feel like everyone I know has some sort of photo session shortly after the engagement and before the actual wedding. But is it worth it? Is it cost effective? Remember, we're trying to have a fun but budget friendly event. So is this something we can cut for the sake of saving money?

And then I found the following photo and I realized we MUST do an engagement photo session.

The photos, by DWJ Studio, were just amazing and made me FEEL happy! I realized that I wanted that for myself! I wanted those photos, that memory, that happy moment before the crazy begins! I want it to remind us that we can have crazy fun together.

I immediately started looking up other engagement photo ideas! I was filled with ideas and thoughts, and so much wonder. I wanted pictures of us making a heart shape, pictures with the sunset, pictures on the beach, pictures running from zombies (so awesome, right?!) and so much more. Then I realized I had NO IDEA where to start!

So I emailed the above photo to my photographer friend at Luminous Photography, who we want to do our wedding day photos, and said this is what I wanted to do! At the end of our Washington summer (which only lasts 3 weeks here, so its gotta be planned perfect!) I want to do a small session with Pre-Hubby and have these wonderful memories to take us all the way to the big day! She said she would help find locations and I got so excited! I know for a fact that I want some photos taken at Kerry Park, the place that Pre-Hubby proposed!

Now, I just wait. I need to find a couple relevant ideas I like, order some awesome color powder, get white t-shirts, and plan a fun day at the end of summer for photo fun!

So let's hear it! Did you do engagement photos? did you do a theme, or just have fun with it? If you decided against them, why? I'd love to hear other peoples thoughts!
Peace and Good JuJu,

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Angel Hair pasta with Pesto, Mushrooms and Arugula

This meal is delicious and super filling. The recipe calls for only 1 cup per serving, and it is definitely enough! I made this meal during the week and it is super delicious and Pre-Hubby loved it! Finding healthy things that he will eat makes me so happy! I will apologize now for not having a slideshow showing the whole process. My camera cord is broken, so I wasn't able to download my pics. I will make sure to add a photo as soon as I get the camera cord fixed!
1 tsp. Kosher salt
8 oz uncooked angel hair pasta
1 TB extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup diced onion
8 oz baby portobello mushrooms, sliced
1/3 cup Pesto
3 cups Arugula
Freshly shaved parmesan cheese

First, fill large pot 2/3 full with water, add salt, and place over medium-high heat. Bring to boil, add pasta, and cook per package directions. Once fully cooked, drain the pasta and put off to the side.

Next, Heat a large skillet on high. After the pan is heated, spray with a bit of olive oil cooking spray and add onion. Cook for 4 minutes until onion is soft. Then, add the mushrooms and cook for 5 minutes or until liquid released from mushrooms has evaporated. Remove the pan from the heat. Add the arugula to the mushroom mixture. I like to put a lid over the top to help wilt the arugula a bit faster. Wilted is fine for this meal.

With the veggies done cooking, toss the pasta into a large bowl and add the pesto. Make sure to mix it all together well. All that's left to do now is serve up pasta on a large serving dish or on individual plates and top with Arugula and mushroom mix and some freshly shaved Parmesan cheese 

It was so easy and quick to make and tasted so good! I even had left overs to bring for lunch so I can make everyone at work jealous :)

Let me know if you try this recipe yourself and if you enjoy it!

Peace and Good JuJu,

Friday, June 15, 2012

Let the Contest Begin... almost!

***OH NO!!! I just realized that this post was still in Draft mode and didn't post Friday night like it should have! My apologies! I'm posting now!***

So, today was an awesome day! I've gotten the full go ahead to do a Biggest Loser contest at work and today I sent out the rules email!  I'm so excited to get it started. My boss and I even went down to the 24 hour fitness on the floor below us and are working to get a couple prizes donated, as well as getting them to host a group fitness class or two during the duration of the contest!

Here are the rules for the contest:
  • First – HAVE FUN! Eat Healthy, Exercise, and listen to your body. More than losing weight, this is about getting healthy! 
  • First weigh-in will be Monday July 2nd (shoes off!) 
  • The final weigh-in will be Monday September 3rd 
  • There will be a $5 entry fee for all contestants that must be paid by the first weigh in 
  • Weigh-ins MUST be submitted by 11AM on Mondays to the Moderator 
  • Any weigh-ins NOT submitted on time, will be charged a $1 penalty 
  • There will be a $1 penalty for each pound gained ($.10 for each .1lb gained)

The winner of the contest will be the person who loses the largest percentage of body weight, not pounds lost. I'm so excited for the contest and for the opportunity to get healthy WITH my co-workers. I keep hearing flutterings around the office of people wanting to lose weight and get healthy, and I'm so excited to be able to bring the opportunity to them! The owner has even  signed on to MATCH the buy in pot to get a nice prize for the winner! Its great to work for a company that really wants to help people get healthier!

Well, I'll keep you updated on all the happenings of the contest! Hope you all have a great week!!

Peace and Good JuJu,