Monday, April 30, 2012

When I Grow UP, I Wanna Be A Cowgirl, Baby

 I LOVE both of these pictures of my little baby princess, but I am not sure which one I like best.... Hat and boots compliments of her Texan cowboy papa....

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Beautiful Japanese Tanka

This is another Japanese tanka from Tawara Machi, translated by the same Juliet Winters Carpenter. Again, I'm a big fan.

Japanese Poem I Love

This is an English translation of Tawara Machi's tanka from Sarada Kinenbi (Salad Anniversary) done by Juliet Winters Carpenter.

I found this in my translation book as I was studying Japanese and something about it really struck me. So, I just thought I'd share.

Friday: Pefect (Inexpensive) Mother's Day Gift for Little Fingers

This week's Crafty Friday project is for Mother's Day. Price to make? (depending on the bag) less than a buck! Win-win, right?

Potpourri Sachet Bag (for mom)

1. Send your kids out in the yard or to the park to collect various leaves and flowers
2. Dry the flowers/leaves by either tying them together with string and hanging them, or else by pressing them in between the pages of a large, heavy book (if you press them, make sure to put wax paper down first to protect the book)
3. Mix 1/2 cup of baby oil with 4 Tb of your favorite flavoring (vanilla, lemon, mint, etc.) or your favorite perfume/body spray
4. In a large mixing bowl, combine all of your dried flowers and leaves and sprinkle the baby oil/scent combination on to
5. Portion into sachet bags (make simple drawstring bags from extra fabric or buy them at the dollar store)

BOOM! Gift for mom? Check. Made by kids? Check. Low price? Double check. Actually a cool thing to have in the towel closet, linen closet, or drawers for freshening? Of course. Need more ideas for a DIY mother's day gift? Try out DIY Sugar Scrub or DIY Bath Salts.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Thursday: Fast Food Breakfast at Home- Save Money AND Calories

If anyone is familiar with my hubby, you will know that he adores fast food- probably more than anything I can make. (Don't ask me why- I have no idea) So, I decided to make him some fast food at home- you save calories AND dinero. For our fast food meal, I made egg and cheese sandwiches and hashbrowns.

Healthier, because these hashbrowns are baked and not deep-fat-fried. Instead of eggs packed with preservatives and artificial cheese, these are made with 100% real cheddar and a simple egg/milk blend.

The way I made the hashbrowns is really similar to my Crispy, Delicious Roasted Potatoes
1- Grate well-washed potatoes with a cheese grater
2- Spread them on a greased cookie sheet that is lined with foil
3- Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes or until the potatoes are brown on the bottom
4- Broil for 2-4 minutes until the top of the potatoes are crispy and brown
5- Sprinkle with salt and pepper

BOOM! You make hashbrowns that are A: far cheaper than fast food breakfasts and B: CRAZY better for you- not only are these crisp and delicious, they are HEALTHY! Boom!

Egg McMuffins
1- Bake layered refrigerator biscuits (usually 12-15 minutes at 350)
2- Mix 4 eggs with 1/4 cup of milk and pour into a small, greased frying pan at medium  to medium-low heat; cover with a lid and allow to cook for 10 minutes until cooked through
3- Slice the egg into fourths and layer on the biscuit with a slice of cheese and allow to warm in the oven on a cookie sheet for 2-3 minutes until the cheese is just melted
My Finished Meal

BOOM! Egg and cheese muffins! Far less expensive and far healthier! And let's admit it- easy as pie to make!

Here is my full meal- a nice glass of milk, plus, since I had extra roll dough, I threw in some 4 Ingredient Blackberry Cinnamon Rolls. Yum!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Accidental Workouts- 5 Workouts You Can Do Without Feeling Like You Are Excercising

It's honesty time. We all say that we don't have time to work out- but if you watch one TV show a day, then you have time to work out- it's just that sometimes we don't want to..... When it comes to real health, though, small changes that you can do for the rest of your life are the ones that are the most beneficial. So, for those of us looking to do a little extra exercise but without actually feeling like you are exercising, here are five ideas.

1. Specially plan your grocery shopping trip- head to a store like Wal Mart or Sam's Club. Instead of going first to produce, then frozen, grocery, dairy, and health care, mix it up- hit produce, and then head to the other end of the store for non foods. Go back for dairy, then go go for grocery. Stop and visit the clothes/DVD section, and finish with frozen. By making a route through the store that is winding instead of direct, you will do a lot of extra walking and therefore burn extra calories! Grocery shopping may take a little longer, but it will be worthwhile. (Every extra 15 minutes of walking= 58 calories)

2. What is your favorite place to shop? Leave you credit card and money at home and go window shopping at the mall- or a hardware store- or a garden shop- whatever it is that you enjoy. Just getting out and wandering around will make you burn extra calories, but since you will just be out looking at things you enjoy, you won't even really notice all the extra walking. (15 minutes of walking= 48 calories)

3. Take your child on a walk in a stroller, but throw some heavy books in the bottom for extra resistance. You'll likely be distracted by your child, the walk, etc., and won't even notice the extra work that you're doing. (15 minutes walking=58 calories)

4. What is the dirtiest place in your house? Plan for a deep clean! Scrubbing, washing, vacuuming... It's an easy little something you have to do anyway- so the cleaner your house, the thinner your waist line! Not too shabby! (15 minutes cleaning= 38 calories. 1 hour cleaning=152 calories)

5. It's Spring!!! Want to get out in your garden? Mow the lawn? Pull weeds? Do it! (15 minutes of gardening=52 calories. 1 hour of gardening= 208 calories!)

EXTRA: Make it a habit to park far away. Easier to get a spot and if you make it habit, you will be doing extra walking and burning extra calories for your whole life! (Though I confess I HATE parking far away...)

Come on- none of these are overly challenging- but all of them are little lifestyle changes you can make to help you stay in decent shape.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

How to Clean Your Gross Plastic Containers

Let's face it. We've been there. Taco sauce, tomato soup, Spaghettios.... they wreck havoc on your plastic containers! Here is an easy how-to to clean your containers out.

1. Fill almost to the top with water and a squirt of dish soap
2. Add 1/4 cup of bleach
3. Microwave the container for 40 seconds, or until the solution is boiling
4. Allow to rest until the water is luke-warm
5. Wash out your container and it is as good as new!

PS: Any qualms about using bleach on plastic food containers? Then don't do this. Simple as that.

Tuesday: Improve Your Marriage (Part 4)

How-to Tuesdays: This is part 4 in the series "How to Improve Your Marriage this April". Each week in April, I've posted a few tips or tricks on things you can do to make married life a little sweeter. Today, we are going to follow up with one of the most important things you can do.

Improve Your Marriage (Part 1)

Improve Your Marriage (Part 2)

Improve Your Marriage (Part 3)

Week 4
Focus on changing YOURSELF and NOT on changing your spouse. This is the one time in married life when it is ok to make thinks all about you. Some learn this secret early on, while others try for years to change their spouse into exactly what they want them to be. Real change can only come from within- and while you can influence someone else in their changes, again, real change can only come from within. Meaning: You  cannot change your spouse- only your spouse can change your spouse.

So, stop trying to change them! Take a minute and change yourself instead!

For example, if you are upset that your wife wakes you up when she get ready in the morning, don't get angry and try to get her to be quieter when she gets up. Instead, try to not get upset by being woken up. Get to the point that even if she wakes you up ten times, you can just let it happen without getting upset.

Let's say that your husband won't take out the garbage until it is overflowing and it drives you CRAZY. All you can think is, it is SOO easy to just take it out- why does he wait? And then each time you see that full trash can you get upset. Instead of hoping and praying that he will eventually just take it out when you want him to, change your mindset. Decide that a full trash can is not the worst thing a spouse can do and that it won't kill you to let it sit until it gets full. Not only will you learn to make yourself more content this way, your husband will appreciate not being nagged for every little thing that he does that bothers you.

You will be far more successful in changing that way you look at things than you will at changing how your spouse acts.

Remember, you have the greatest control over the way that YOU do things- so instead of fretting over every thing that your husband or wife does that drive you crazy, think instead of what you can do to change yourself so that those things don't bother you.

I guarantee that this will result in less fighting and more domestic bliss.

Monday, April 23, 2012

5 Ways to Get Better Service in a Restaurant

After last week's article (Employee-Only Grocery Store Secrets) got thousands of hits, I was trying to think about some other tips I might be able to share that might be beneficial to everyone.

I've worked at a breakfast 24-hour restaurant, steak and sushi, and even an all American spot. (Not to mention a mom-n-pop burger joint.) So, I thought I'd share some employee-only restaurant tips that will help make your restaurant experience better!

1. You REALLY can send food back if it isn't what you want- Just tell them what the plate is missing and send it back for a better or different dish. No one will spit in your food or be overly upset. People really send their food back often, so don't stress it too much.

2. You will get better service if your server knows they'll see you again- Drop a statement about how this is your favorite spot, or how you might be coming back next week with you mother, whatever the case might be- if your server knows they are going to see you again, they will treat you better to avoid awkward future confrontations.

3. Get an extra drink. If you walk into a restaurant and see that it is swamped with people, ask your server to bring you 2 Cokes instead of one- just say, "Oh, I'm a quick drinker- bring me by an extra." Even the best of servers can't get back to you every few minutes when it is busy, so ensure that you will not go thirsty you'll need by getting an extra one from the get-go!

4. Worried about freshness? Ask for an addition/subtraction. If you are worried that your food isn't being made fresh to order for you, make a small change when you place your order: extra onions, no dressing, plus tomatoes- whatever the change might be, it will require the cooks in the back to make yours different, and therefore, fresh to order for you.

5. Don't make comments about prices to your server. Let's be honest- your server is there to make money. If your server thinks they won't make good money from you, there 's a good chance your service will be less than perfect. The fastest way to know someone will be a poor tipper? Comments about the price of food. Just don't say anything about it and your server will have higher hopes of getting a better tip giving YOU better service!

Just a little extra knowledge, but it will help you have a better time when you go out!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Thursday: Best, Crispiest Roasted Potatoes You'll Ever Eat

This may be one of the great wonder-foods in the world. It is:

WHAT? A triple hitter? You had better believe it! The ingredients and prep are simple- what makes these potatoes amazing is the cooking method.

6 potatoes, diced (scrubbed clean)
1 Tb garlic salt
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp chili powder
Step 1: Put the diced potatoes and spices all into a giant Ziploc bag and shake until the potatoes are coated in spices (don't skip this step- if you just sprinkle spices over your potatoes, the ashes that hit the pan and not the potatoes will turn to ash while broiling)
Shake and shake...

Step 2: Place the potatoes on a tin-foil covered cookie sheet. Spread them out evenly.
Ready to bake

Step 3: Bake at 350 for 30 minutes, or until the bottoms of the potatoes are crisp

Step 4: Turn on the broil function of your oven- let the potatoes broil for 2-3 minutes until crisp on top

Step 5: Enjoy your awesome potatoes- prepared with no oil, butter, or grease- awesome.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Wednesday: Employee-Only Grocery Store Secrets

As I was thinking about what kind of an article I could write to help other people out, I tried to think of something that I know that most people don’t- some kind of knowledge that I could share. And, as I thought it over, I realized that since I had worked at a grocery store in nearly every capacity for about a million years, there might be something I could share that I had learned there. So, here goes. 5 things most people don’t know about grocery stores.

1. When buying meat, milk, and bread, buy from the back and bottom because grocery stores rotate: meaning, oldest in front, newest in back. Pull your food from the back, bottom, behind, and underneath, and you will usually get a product that is a few days fresher.

2. Cheese normally keeps for MONTHS past when you buy it- check the expiry date on the back. A lot of the time, you’ll have 4-6 months until it expires- so you can feel free to plenty when it goes on sale.

3.Expiry dates vs. Code Dates: This is an important, albeit well-kept secret of grocery stores. Sometimes, in place of an expiration or best by date, there will just be a mix of numbers. The reason? Grocery store employees go through and check expiry dates to make sure that products on the shelves are fresh. If they are expired, a grocery store can send that product back to the manufacturer and get a refund. Some companies don’t want their product sent back-they don’t want to have to pay for a refund of expired food if their product doesn’t sell. Their sneaky way around this? Code dates. They are required by law to have some kind of expiration date on their products, so they make a special code for dates: Example: A45=November, AA=11, SD= 2012, and so on- so all you see on the label is a mix of numbers and letters (A45AASD) nonsensical to you and grocery store employees. Since no one except the manufacturer knows the code, they don’t have to worry about expired product being returned to them. Be safe: buy products with an expiry or best-by date.

4. When it comes to dairy, bigger is better. If you are at a store that is always jam-packed, THAT is where you want to buy your dairy products. Not every store is big or busy enough for a daily dairy shipment- so if you are at a store that is cram packed, usually it means that their dairy is sold so quickly that you are ensured absolutely fresh product from the truck that morning, rather than a shipment from 4-5 days ago.

5.  Produce employees are supposed to sample their wares: Want to know if something is fresh? Not sure if that batch of oranges is good? Find an employee and ask them to cut it open, or give you a slice to make sure it is good- they won’t say no.

EXTRA: Here’s one extra tip: When it comes to canned and bottled food, expiration dates really are not expiration dates. Nearly all canned and bottled foods are good for months and often YEARS past their expiration date. Why? No company ever wants to be sued. Better super safe than super sorry, so they put their expiration dates far in advance of the real expiration. (NOT true of boxed cereals- you will definitely notice that cereals past their expiration date are less than fresh and yummy)

Hope this helps you feel like a pro next time you go to the grocery store.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Tuesday: Improve your Marriage (Part 3)

I hope all is going well for you- we are up to week three in April and there is a new tip for you. This one will be a little less complicated- If you are still working on Improve Your Marriage (Part 1) and  Improve Your Marriage (Part 2)- you probably have your hands full! If you feel like you can handle it, here's part 3!

Use your actions to show love. You are probably already doing a lot of different things to show that you love your spouse, but try each day to do one thing EXTRA for your spouse: Make breakfast for him if you normally don’t- Take over one of her chores- make the bed if that is normally what he does. Whatever you choose, just do one thing for your spouse that you normally won’t do. As you continue to try to do go above and beyond to do something kind, you will notice that your spouse will likely do a little more here and there- and it will turn into a cycle of both of you working and helping one another.

Definitely a simple thing that will make life a little sweeter.

Post a reply with any good experiences you have! I’d love to hear. Doing great? Continue on with Improve Your Marriage (Part 4)!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Truth of Pinterest

Monday: 5 Tips for Working Moms

1. Clear your mind when you get off of work. Before walking in the door after work each day, take a minute or two to mentally switch-over from work stresses to home life. Take a deep breath (or two or three or four). The last thing you want your husband or children to associate you coming home with a cranky mom.

2. Make time for you. When you work, it sometimes feels like between your job, family, house, and husband, you have not a minute for anything extra. But, if you can carve out a little time for yourself, just a long soak in the tub, or a brief outing to a movie, the time that remains will be more productive because you will be better rested and less stressed at your family.

3. Spend time with you husband, sans children. Depending on you and your husband’s schedule, you may not be able to spend time your husband alone very often. However, this time should be a priority. Remember that your relationship with your husband affects everything: how well you can work, how smoothly the home runs, how your children react to both of you, etc. Regardless of your life’s schedule, you need to spend time with your hubby.  The time you spend just you and him will have the greatest impact on your family- happy mom and dad leads to happy children.

4. Have an ordered home, NOT a spotless one. Be realistic: YOU WORK! Add to that your relationship with your hubby, each of your children, cooking, cleaning- it is not necessary to have a spic-n-span house. Spend some time to make sure that your house in in order: Meaning, clean, knowing where everything (or, most things) are, but don’t sweat it if your house doesn’t look like a Swiffer commercial.

5. Make sure your children know they come before your work. Sometimes work can be stressful- it can take a lot out of you and you really might not be able to do every single thing that you want to do with your kids- that’s life. HOWEVER. Make sure that in all you do, your children know that you value time with them far more than what you do at work. Actually take them aside, regardless of their age, and explain that mommy has to work to help support the family to pay for food, clothes, and a house, but that she only does it because she loves them. You never want your child to grow up thinking their mother loves work more than time spent with them.

There are lots of reasons to work- regardless of your reason to work, remember that family always needs to come before work. Good luck to working moms out there everywhere!

New to mom-ing? Check out 5 Tips for New Moms.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Friday: Baby Onesie Swimsuit Bikini

As I was out hunting for a swimsuit for my little darling for summer, I found that I was too cheap to buy any of the suits that I found that were cute- when I was inspired by a swimsuit on a onesie! I already had paint, ribbon, and a white onesie... so I thought, why not just make my own? It wasn't tought at all and turned out even better than I had imagined in my mind.


*White and red fabric paint
*Sponge pain brushes
*Masking tape
*White onesie
*Ribbon/ rickrack
*Needle/ thread

Step 1: Using scissors, cut out rounded pieces of masking tape to be where the 'leg holes' go, then use just straight pieces to create a bikini outline on the onesie

Step 2: Using your red paint, use a slow, controlled brush stroke to paint the entire bikini area. Let dry for 3-4 hours, then peel the masking tape off.

Tape pattern
Step 3: Using the bottom of a sponge brush, make dabs of white paint for polka dots. Let dry for 3-4 hours.

Step 4: Using your needle and thread, use rick-rack for the bottom of the bikini top and the top of the bikini bottoms

Just needs ribbons and rick rack
Step 5: Use ribbon to make two small bows: Sew them to the top of the bikini top

DONE! And it is just darling.

Friday, April 13, 2012

5 Ways to Help you Sleep Through the Night

Here are 5 things that can help you to sleep through the night!

1- Don't have kids-
2- Don't have kids-
3- Don't have kids-
4- Don't have kids-
5- Don't have kids-

But, for those of us who have kiddos and just love them anyhow, we'll just have to deal with no sleep. Am I right or am I right?

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Thursday: Freakin' Awesome (and easy) Guacamole!

Crazy easy and SO good!

*2 RIPE avocados, chopped
*1/2 tsp lemon (or lime) juice
*1 1/2 tsp garlic salt
*1 tsp cumin
*1/2 tsp black pepper
*1/4 tsp red pepper

Mash it up and mix- then ENJOY! It is soooo good! (Maybe I'm just biased, but I'm eating this guac as I'm writing this post- oh, man, it's great. I've got it on a whole wheat tortilla, sprinkled with a little cheddar. YUM!)

Thursday: 4 Ingredient Homemade Oreos!

How do 4 ingredient  homemade Oreos sound? Not nearly as good as they taste! Let’s get started! This is the kind of dessert that you can’t help but munch on.
½ cup of oil
1 cup of devil’s food cake mix
2 eggs

1 can of vanilla frosting

*Mix oil, cake mix, and two eggs with a wooden spoon until combined.

*Using your hands, form the dough into small, chocolate balls. Place onto a greased cookie sheet.

*Once the dough has all been formed into balls, use the bottom of a small cup or glass dish to flatten the cookies

*Bake for 7-10 minutes at 350 (you can check if they are done by pulling a cookie out and cutting it in half- you want them to be soft, but solid, in the center)

*Wait for them to cool- then use a spatula to remove the cookies.

*Place a dollop of frosting on every other cookie- stack them, and BOOM!

*You have incredibly rich, yummy, homemade Oreos.

Slightly addicting- and the recipe makes dozens! 30 cookies if you make large ones, and 60 for smaller ones!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Wednesday: 5 Tips to Help You Get Out of Bed in the Mornings

Ok. I know there is nothing wonderful about the mornings- unless you count the mornings as past 11:00 am- BUT there IS something wonderful about waking up and not missing important engagements. Because, well, let’s face it. Americans LOVE to sleep in.

 I know I do.

And though my husband is a morning person, I, regretfully, am not. I recall a few times in college where it seemed easier to stay up all night than to wake up early in the morning- and though waking up is still painful every morning- this helps me to actually get up, out, and about.

1- Put your alarm (very loud) across the room, not next to your bed- that way, you have to get UP to turn it off

2- DON’T set multiple alarms, as it trains your body to need multiple jolts before you wake up- and as your sleepy mind has a hard time really thinking,  it is easy to turn off your last alarm, thinking you have another one left- leaving you to sleep longer than intended

3- DON’T rely on someone else to get you up- you won’t be able to rely on them every time, so when you DO need to get up without them, you have a much higher chance of missing an important deadline

4- Go to sleep at a decent time- and if you have a hard time going to sleep as early as you need, it can help to have someone wake you up hours before normal one day so that you are tired and ready to sleep much earlier that night (and hopefully keep you on a good sleeping schedule from there on out)

5- Prep a yummy morning snack in the kitchen- so when you wake up in the morning, there is a little incentive to actually get out of bed and be awake.

PS: Make sure to check back every Friday for Freebie Fridays! You have an AMAZING chance of winning!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Tuesday: Improve your Marriage (Part 2)

How are you doing from last week’s goal in Improve Your Marriage (Part 1)? Let me just tell you in advance that I wish you the very best for this week- as it is one of the toughest, albeit worthwhile, things that you can possibly do in marriage.
Control. Your. Tongue.

Yes, words can be used for good- lots of it- but today, I want to focus on not allowing anything negative about your spouse out of your mouth.
As clearly stated by Jeffery Holland, “Words can be more piercing than any dagger ever forged, and they can drive the people they love to retreat beyond a barrier more distant than anyone in the beginning of that exchange could ever have imagined.”
Imagine it for a moment. Think of your last few weeks, months, years, (even decades?!), and imagine the fights, problems, and hard times that could have been prevented by controlling what you said about your spouse.
Now, I don’t mean to say that you cannot discuss (appropriately) problems or issues that may arise- but there is a clear difference between,
“I can’t believe that you just went out and bought a new car! You didn’t even tell me! This is so frustrating!” and
“What an idiot! Ugh! Why on earth would you buy a new car? Does you not realize our financial situation!? Moron! Anyone in our shoes would NEVER buy a brand new car!”
The tongue is a small muscle, but if you can control your impulses to speak negative things to and about your spouse, your marriage will be so much happier! And, stepping away from marriage, your life will benefit.
It isn’t easy. It really, really, isn’t easy. If it were, you wouldn’t hear about so many marriages falling apart. Here are two ways to accomplish this seemingly impossible feat.
1. When you are upset and just want to let those words fly at your spouse, remember a time when they opened up to you, one of those moments when they showed you what was in their heart: admitting a weakness, telling you something incredibly personal, or telling you why they truly loved you. Imagine your spouse in that moment, as a human with weaknesses, and what your angry or upset words would do to them. Think about the hurt it might cause- and refrain.
2. Make a list of things you just adored about your spouse before you were married. When you are about to just let some negative remark slip, think of one of those things. “Ugh, she is being so selfish! Everything is all about her! But, she IS an amazing mother.” Think of what it is that you adored about them and use it as leverage NOT to say something awful.
So, easy? Of course not. But if you CAN accomplish this and truly not let an insulting phrase leave your mouth, you will be able to show your spouse how much you really do love them- even if they really are being a giant, stupid, selfish jerk for a minute or two.
Let me know how this works for you! Feel like you've got it down pat? Continue with Improve Your Marriage (Part 3) and Improve Your Marriage (Part 4)

Monday, April 9, 2012

I Love My Baby

Monday: Why I am Not Fat

Obesity epidemic. In America, more than 1 in 3 adults is not overweight, but obese.
I can’t speak for men- but I can give some perspectives from a woman’s side. Weight issues are EVERYWHERE. Regardless of a woman’s current weight, we are always looking to lose something. 5 pounds, 10 pounds, that belly jiggle, or those un-firm thighs. As soon as we accomplish one weight loss goal, we are unsatisfied and find something else ‘wrong’ with us to fix.
You  know how easy it is to get sucked in.

This is how I got out.
In junior high, all of my friends and I were always on some diet or another- no sugar, no carbs, low calorie, crazy workouts. This might make sense, if any of us had a real weight issue.

We didn’t. We were shopping the size 0-2 racks.
How could we be so obsessed?

Then, one day, as everyone was drinking their diet sodas and talking about the latest binges that they had gone on, “Ugh, last weekend, I TOTALLY went off my diet and ate an entire buffet table, I swear!” I realized something. I realized that this was not how food was meant to be eaten. It just seemed so….. off. And so I decided.
I would rather be a little overweight than have an obsession over food and an eating disorder.

So, off I went.  I ate what I wanted, when I wanted. I didn’t focus on calories.
This is what I found.

Once I had my mind wrapped around the fact that I could eat whatever, whenever, there was no need to binge. Or eat extravagant meals. If I bought a giant Symphony bar, I could eat just a few pieces and finish it later. Because I knew, , if I wanted some, I could have it. I had no need to eat every last piece of food on my plate- I could eat until my body was satisfied, not until my mind had finished its binge.
Over the years, my weight has fluctuated a few pounds here or there, but I have found that I mostly don’t notice. I don’t really shop by size, but more by what fits. And the best part? I don’t get fat. I go to a restaurant, eat what my body needs, and stop. It satisfies.

The moment you categorize in your mind that there are ‘bad foods’, there, in the back of your mind, is a list of every ‘bad food’ you have access to- and when your moment of resolve fails, you rush to every one of those bad foods and shove as much as you can inside of yourself. I know, because I have experienced it.

I can’t lie: there are those times (especially right after a baby!) where I think for a moment or two “Oh, no, I can’t eat that- I need to lose weight, and control eating, and exercise twice a day……..” But, before I get too engrossed in this thinking pattern, I remind myself: I’d rather be a little overweight than have an obsession with food.

So, I don’t get fat. I just eat normal portions, and the best part? I LIKE MY BODY. It isn’t perfect- and I know that I am my harshest critic- but I like it. I count myself lucky to be able to say that.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Chocolate Fountain: Without the Chocolate Fountain!

For everyone that loves chocolate fountains, but, perhaps, doesn’t love the mess, prep, cleanup, etc…… You’ll love these! So simple, and you can prep dozens for a large group dinner or party.

*Chocolate chips
*Mini marshmallows
*Hard cookies, crumbled (Oreos, chocolate chip cookies, etc.)
*Strawberries (bigger is better)

1- Hollow out a large strawberry
2- Soften mini marshmallows (2-3 per strawberry) in the microwave
3- Put the mini marshmallows inside of the strawberry

4-Dip the bottom of the strawberry in chocolate (place on a piece of wax paper to prevent the chocolate from sticking)

5- Drizzle the top lightly with chocolate, then sprinkle crumbs from the cookies on top

Voila! It’s your chocolate fountain- without the mess and cleanup! Yum!
Before and After!

Friday: Hunger Games I Heart Peeta T-Shirt

Hunger Games.

Obsessed much, America? I know I am. And if my Hunger Games Book Club Party isn't enough, how about a DIY t-shirt? (Perfect for the hostess of said book club party...)

This is how I made my Hunger Games t-shirt. I like the rough, almost unfinished look. Makes it more District 12-ish. (I know, obsessed...) Hope it works well for you! (Do you love Peeta? Or Gale? Vote Team Gale or Team Peeta! !)

Step 1: Collect your materials. You will need:
                *Black t-shirt
                *Red and black
                  clothing paint
                *Transparent tape

*Print out of “I PEETA” and print out of the mocking-jay symbol (I used Word, Rockwell Bold Font, size 175 and just looked up a mocking-jay symbol in black-and-white to print out)
*Box cutter
*Piece of cardboard (at least the size of your paper)
*Sponge paint brushes

Step 2: Using your box cutter (BRAND NEW BLADE), cut out the letters in “I PEETA” (the blank spaces become your stencil)

Step 3: Use your box cutter to cut out the colored parts of the mocking-jay symbol. Remember that the white of the cut out will be your stencil, so you will likely end up with 5-6 pieces

Step 4: Apply transparent tape to the back of your stencils (note: if you have a hard time with the mocking jay symbol, you may want to have an extra printed out to use for reference when you put it together)

Step 5: Pour the white and red paint in separate pools on a plate (disposable is best) and use your sponge brush to paint on the letters, white for the words, and red for the symbol (think of the coloring of ‘I NY’) Use a blotting, soft stroke to make sure that you don’t get paint UNDER the stencil. You want all of the paint to stay contained. Another thing that helps is to paint, again in  a blotting stroke, slowly in one direction

Step 6: Remove the stencil carefully, making sure not to smear the letters/character

Step 7: Allow to dry for at least 4 hours

Wear and show your Hunger Game/Gale pride!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Thursday: 4 Ingredient Soft Sugar Cookies!

When I lived in Japan, I decided to have a クッキー会(kukki kai) or a cookie-making party. I had received some sugar cookie mix in a package from my mom, but it wasn't enough for everyone. My Japanese companion, in all of her wisdom, taught me this recipe for sugar cookies- made with pancake mix! We compared the two cookies, Betty Crocker vs. Pancak Mix. The clear winner? Pancake mix cookies! Here's the recipe! (Want a softer cookie and have extra time? Try Perfect Sugar Cookies instead!)

3 cups of pancake mix (reduce by 1/2 cup if you prefer crispy, flat cookies)
1 stick (8 Tb) butter/margarine (softened)
1 cup of sugar
2 eggs

*Cream together the butter and sugar
*Add the pancake mix
*Stir in the eggs

*Once everything is combined, roll out onto a floured surface, cut your cookies (1/4-1/3 inch thick)
 (note) the dough is soft, so use a spatula to move from floured board to the cookie sheet
*Place them on a lightly greased cookie sheet
*Spread the cookies far apart, as they expand significantly during cooking

*Bake at 350 for 7-10 minutes (until just barely browned on the bottom)

*Allow to cool and decorate as desired!

Here are some ideas:

Frost normally, then mix 1/2 cup of white sugar with 2 drops of food coloring. Sprinkle it on top

Reese's chocolate peanut butter eggs
*lightly ice one cookie with chocolate frosting

*place another cookie on top and then swirl/stripe
*1/4 cup of melted Reese's peanut butter chips with 1 Tb of oil
*1/4 cup of chocolate frosting, melted (slightly) in the microwave
*top with   1/2 a  mini Reese's cup