Monday, April 30, 2012

Food Matters


I'm on a bit of a health kick with my reading these days. I have two books to review for you this week and next and they're both related to living and eating well. Lucky you!

Food Matters: A Guide to Conscious Eating by Mark Bittman is all about reducing our country's dependence on meat. Apparently, our need for meat-based protein sources has skyrocketed in the last 30 years and far surpasses any other country in the world. He claims some (healthier) countries eat only 3 oz. of meat a day. That's not even a true servings worth here! Bittman says that if we find other sources for protein we can lessen our impact on the enivronment as well. Fewer animals produced solely for the factory farming industry, less gas used transporting said food and animals all add up to a happier you and a happier planet. He also gives a plethora of recipes following these strategies.

While I found a lot of his facts interesting (and shocking), I'm not ready to give up meat yet. I only eat red meat about once a week (if that) and really, I only eat a full 4 oz. serving of meat-based protein at dinner. The few chunks of chicken in my daily soup lunch probably don't constitute a serving. So, that made me feel pretty good about my dependence on meat. I'm actively pursuing protein in other ways as well, but that was happening prior to reading this book. I thought Food Matters was enlightening but like I said, not quite ready to go Vegan just yet.

Rating: * * *

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Recipe Reblog #13

I'm back in the kitchen with two new recipes this week after taking a week off. I didn't take a week off cooking, just off trying new stuff. So, here goes!

Apple Cider Vinegar Broccoli Slaw: We had this alongside fish tacos. The link gives you a fish taco recipe too but I used my old standby. This slaw was a nice complement to the tacos. It had a bright flavor to it and I had all the ingredients on hand, which I love, as you know. I will say, the flavors on this do not need to marry. Make it right before eating. I had some leftovers the next day and I didn't think it was quite as good. Still, a nice alternative to your regular old slaw.

Crockpot Hawaiian BBQ Chicken: I love a good crockpot meal. My sister sent this my way. It is super simple and delicious! I served it over brown rice. I did add red and green peppers to pump up the non-existent veggie quotient. I will also say you probably don't need to use an entire bottle of BBQ sauce. Hold back at least a third to half cup to save some calories. It will not suffer. Also, I didn't use the special Target sauce they recommended because I wasn't going to Target. We picked a sweet, brown sugar sauce and it was fine. Give this one a try!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Beauty Fail

A few weeks ago, I got the idea stuck in my head that I should just wax my own eyebrows for a fraction of the cost that my salon charges. Brilliant, right? Luckily, this post does not end in tears and I still have both eyebrows. Sorry to disappoint. I don't get my brows waxed regularly. I usually just tweeze into between waxings, which only happen about 3 times a year. So, you could say I'm mostly a tweezer (person, not

Sally Hansen

At Ulta, I puchased this Sally Hansen eyebrow waxing kit for $6.00. It comes with a microwaveable pot of wax, cooling cream, applicator, tweezers and brow guides. Not bad for much less than one salon waxing, right? I had let far too many stray hairs grow before I tried my hand at waxing. So many times I wanted to tweeze but had to stop myself. I wanted there to be plenty to pull off.

The instructions said not to heat for more than 2 minutes. Well, 2 minutes later and I could barely get the plastic paddle into the still hard wax. So I kept going. Here's where things got really sticky........

I was finally able to stir up some liquid wax and spread it on my skin between my eyebrows. This kit doesn't come with strips. The wax hardens in seconds and you rip that off instead. Well, it pulled out some of the hairs, but not all. I really don't think the wax was hot enough. So I tried again. And again. Then I tried under my brows where the actual shaping happens. Things didn't go so well there. The wax wasn't pulling off any hair!

There is a spot on my right brow where I got a tad overzealous and managed to take off more hair than intended. When I asked John what he thought after he said, "Ohhhh, they're really thin." I said, "I didn't even wax that part. That's what they always look like." Thanks, honey. Then I asked about the part on the inner edge that I screwed up and he recoiled in horror. Thanks again. Luckily, my glasses and bangs provide a little camouflage. I'm not showing a pictures because it's embarrassing.

Did I learn my lesson to leave it to the pros? No. Next time, I'm heating the wax for much longer. I really think that was the problem and will give me more accuracy.

Have you ever waxed your own eyebrows? Any tips or am I just crazy?

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Bronze Horseman

This book was recommended by one of the book blogs I read. The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons is the first in a series of three books. And we all know I love a good book series.

Set in Leningrad during World War II, Tatiana is a 17 year old Russian girl struggling to survive with her family in a time of hunger and strife. She lives in a two room apartment with her sister Dasha and brother Pasha, two parents and grandparents. When sent out to buy rations for her family, she meets Alexander, a Russian soldier, and becomes enamored with him from that day forward. Theirs, however, is a forbidden love for a big reason I won't spoil for you. As the war carries on, the family's troubles grow, along with their hunger. The fear that food will stop coming to the city is always on their minds. Through all of their tribulations, Tatiana and Alexander's love grows.

What a love story! Simons has some good, descriptive writing going on here. She does a brilliant job conveying each character's emotions. Fair warning, some of the scenes are quite racy and explicit. If that's not your thing, you might want to skip over those. There are many in one particular part of the story. I liked this book so much I went to get the second one from the library even before finishing the first only to find out my library doesn't have it! I had to buy a book, guys. You know, even though I love books, I try my darnedest to only borrow and not buy. I did get it used for $5 on Amazon though so that makes it a little better. Extra bonus, I got it in paperback so it won't be nearly as heavy in my carry-on to Florida in 3 weeks. (!)

If you like impossible love stories, give this one a try! Quite long but you will become so wrapped up in the characters that those 600+ pages will fly by.

Rating: * * * *

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Thursday Things


Y'all been watching SMASH on NBC? If you are a fan of musicals and haven't checked it out, shame on you. If you're not a fan of musicals, this is not GLEE (Which I love, don't get me wrong). There is a plot. Not just a plot that is attached to the music. Plot first, music second. Glee, take notes.

Nicki Minaj - I used to hate her music and now I can't get enough of it! This happens to me with a lot of artists. Do you think I look ghetto fab rapping along with her in my CRV? I probably do. No matter what you say. There's a good chance itunes will be seeing some activity from me in their store. Starships? Super Bass? Yes please! Awesome running music.

The newest issue of Bon Appetit graced my mailbox the other day and I squealed with delight when I saw the cover. Normally I think their recipes are mostly above my skill level but an entire issue dedicated to Paris? Oh yes! I am pining for Paris and planning a trip as part of my 30 Bucket List (more on that another day). Thanks, Bon Appetit, for kicking off my research!

Buy it here

A friend gave me this lip butter as part of my birthday gift and I love it! It's so creamy and makes your lips feel instantly healthier when you put it on. Plus, all organic! The one I have is plain flavored, not Sweet Fig as pictured but I can't find the original one online. Get it at Target and enjoy!

Buy Here

One more lip goodness and then I'll have you on your way. I don't like to pay much for lip gloss/balm/butter and admittedly, it was a freebie. However, it sells for around $20 at Sephora and it would be worth it. Worth it! So smooth with just a hint of color and shine. I have the Rose and it's not that bright at all. Don't be scared. I also have the untinted kind. I now have so many tubes of lip stuff that I have to rotate so they don't get jealous.

Au revoir, mes amis!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

To the MAX(i skirt)

Confession. I have the biggest blogger crush on Leanne from Elle Apparel. This is the third tutorial of hers I've used and I love them all! I'm also really jealous of her hair. If try really hard, will my hair get to be that length and not look gnarly? OK, enough about that and onto the sewing. Despite John's cries that I'd look like a hippie, I sewed up this maxi skirt anyway.

Remember this fabric? It looks purple and pink in the pic but really it's red and navy. I fell in love with it months ago and immediately bought the rest of the bolt on a subsequent trip to Joann's. I used it to make my long cardigan, also an Elle Apparel tutorial. No, I will not be wearing the cardigan with the skirt. Please.

The tutorial was easy to follow and while I would have liked a little more yardage to have some more flare at the bottom, I'm still pleased with the way the skirt turned out.

There was a slight snafu with the hem, however. I wanted to attempt to use a double needle. This is 2 needles, attached at a crossbar at the top. It allows you to sew parallel lines giving a really professional finish. Double needles are not expensive. I ordered mine on Amazon for $4. I was SO excited to use it. I read tutorials, I watched videos. Then, I loaded that double needle for some practice stitching. That's where things went south. Fast. There was some choice language flying in Atelier d'Ashley (that's what I call my sewing studio because I like French things). I took great care in threading the needles (you have to use two spools) so they wouldn't cross and tangle. Everything seemed okay but when I started sewing, nothing was catching.

I know it's hard to tell but this is a picture of failure.

I still don't understand what happened. Furthermore, I can't continue to fix the problem because after a good 30 minutes of effort, this happened.

Bye bye double needle - I hardly knew ye

And then I cried. John tried to cheer me up with a green monster smoothie (PBJ!) It was good but it didn't take away the sour taste of defeat.

I have a feeling the timing was off with the bobbin or something. Unfortunately, I've also just given my back up machine to my sister. I thought all was lost. I took apart everything I know how to take apart (sans manual, because I accidentally gave that away too) and put it back together. Then I sewed the hem with a single needle. Thank goodness the machine isn't broken. But, I think it's on its last legs. It costs about $90 just to have your machine cleaned and oiled. My question is: Is that worth it when I really want a new machine anyway? I guess it depends on if I have an extra $400 lying around. That's how much the one I want costs.


Back to the has a yoga waistband and is super comfy. Chances are I'll be living in it this summer. John also took back his hippie comment and said it looked cute on me. Success!

Are those squats paying off yet?

Photobombed by Sadie.......again

Why is it always windy when I take these pictures?

Love that rugby stripe, don't you? I wish I could find it in a wide assortment of colors. Or at least black and white. I'm definitely going to make more of these. Watch out!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

April Beers

Two new and opposite beers this past weekend, folks.

I have professed my love for Breckenridge Brewery many times in the past. Their regular and seasonal ales are hands down some of my favorites. In fact, I've never had a bad beer from them (skipping those IPA's though - girlfriend does NOT like IPA's) So last week when John said he saw SummerBright in the cooler of our fancy gourmet grocery store, I got pretty giddy.

At $9.99 / 6 pack, it's not the cheapest but all of their beers are priced like this and worth it. From the website: "A golden ale with a hint of natural citrus." Hint? More like a faint whisper. The bottle says "brewed with orange and lemon peel" but the citrus flavor was so subtle, it was barely there. While I did like the SummerBright, I don't know that I would buy it again. There are so many other summer beers that do it right (for less) that I think I'd rather go back to my old favorites. Sorry, Breckenridge. I'll see you again in the fall!

Every Friday at the local liquor store a beer tasting is held. It's a buck a (generous) taste. One weekend, Sam Adams was on tap. Sam Adams (like Breckenridge) is one of the favorites around Chez G for its seasonal beers but also for the everyday ones too. We skipped some of the ones we'd had before and tried this small batch brew instead.

Griffin's Bow is an oaked blonde barleywine ale in the Limited Release family from Sam Adams. From the website: "From the aroma and notes of sweet honeysuckle, pineapple, and grapefruit, to richer hints of burnt sugar, and toffee, this intriguing brew is full of complex flavors. The distinct character of toasted oak adds depth and contrasts the light fruit sweetness. This unique take on a barleywine ale surprises with its smoothness and balance of fruit, hop citrus, and warming strength."

I really enjoyed this one. It was $5.99 for a 1 pint, 6 oz. bottle so John and I shared it. Also, it's 10% alcohol (hence the price) but is surprisingly smooth with a nice sweet aftertaste. If you can find this, give it a try!

Monday, April 16, 2012

I smell a deal

Psst. Come closer.

I want to let you all in on a little shoe secret.

If you haven't been to, do yourself a favor and click on over! Everyone knows about Zappos, right? Well, 6pm is the clearance site for Zappos. Everyday, they list new sales for specific brands. These sales change each day. This is why I check it on a near daily basis. You never know when those Nine West wedges you've been eyeing will go on sale. In actuality, shoes aren't the only fare 6pm deals in. There are clothes and other great things too, for women, men and children! In addition to the daily sales, there are usually brand-specific sales that last the whole week. THEN - there are always shoes (and clothes, accessories, purses) in the Clearance section too.

I have purchased, no joke, more than 10 pairs of shoes from this site since I discovered it a couple years ago. To be fair, a couple of those were for John, but mostly for me. You would not believe the prices on these items. The other day, the sale was on Brooks, which happen to be my running shoe of choice. I would have gotten them for 50% off $100, if they'd had my size 10's in stock. Remember - act fast! There are limited amounts of each size and they do sell out.

PLEASE do not pay full price for shoes. A lot of the styles in 6pm are still being sold in stores which means if you buy them from a brick and mortar, you paid more than you needed to. Trust me! Go ahead. Go shopping. You earned it!

P.S. I hope you have your taxes done. They're due tomorrow! Abraham Lincoln was even nice enough to give you 2 extra days. If you don't know why, you should Google it for a little history lesson. Buy some shoes with your refund. Thank me later.

P.P.S. I wasn't compensated for this post. However, if 6pm wants to pay me in shoes, that would be okay with me.

Thursday, April 12, 2012


Is it stopping by the library on the off chance a copy of the last Harry Potter movie is available and finding one left on the shelf, just for you?

Is it surviving the worst day of the week (Monday, always Monday) unscathed?

Or seeing the cheerful tulips planted especially for you last fall bloom this spring as planned?

The look your dog gives you, tail wagging, when you walk through the door after work?

When your husband doesn't roll his eyes because you just came home with yet another bag from JoAnn's?

Could it be the perfect Saturday nap?

Discovering a piece of leftover chocolate in the back of the freezer you forgot about?

Or sharing that newly discovered chocolate with your husband because he didn't roll his eyes, even though you want to eat the whole thing yourself?

I think so.

Whatever Happiness is to you......I hope you find it today!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

American Sniper

I picked up American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in US History by Chris Kyle with Scott McEwen and Jim DeFelice because it was on the best seller list and a departure from my normal reads. It's a non-fiction work about Kyle's time overseas with the Navy SEALS. He chronicles the years he spent hunting and killing insurgents and all-around bad guys. He also discusses what it was like to readjust to civilian society after his deployments ended.

Sorry for the brief synopsis but I could not get into this book. I don't know what I was expecting but it just wasn't my thing. While I found some parts interesting, others (like when he described all of the weapons he length) went on far too long. This is a guy's book and I am not a guy.  Sorry if that's a slightly sexist opinion. Believe me when I tell you I am not trying to discredit Kyle's service to our country. I just didn't particularly enjoy reading about battles. I did enjoy the sections written by Kyle's wife describing what she was feeling at various times. If you are interested in descriptions of tactical advances by the armed forces, then you might enjoy it. Otherwise, skip it.

Rating: * *

Monday, April 9, 2012

But, I don't feel any older.......

Last Saturday, I turned 29. This was my last twenties birthday. I thought I was okay with it but I'm not. I guess I'll try not to focus on my years slipping by and just enjoy them instead. That's a better plan, right? Right. I declared multiple times it was the first time I was turning 29, not the last.

I got some lovely gifts from lovely people.


Michael Kors Tortoise & Horn Watch

Plus, workout clothes, spa day (Eeeee!!!!), new baking sheets, gift cards, especially to my guilty pleasure, JoAnn's and more! I celebrated with friends and family and CAKE! It was a great birthday that lasted an entire week.

I read a timely article about free birthday perks from restaurants. Thus commenced a flurry of filling out my email address on various websites and then watching the flood of free entrees, appetizers and dessert emails flow in. It was glorious! I highly recommend that you do this. Actually, I recommend you sign up the month before your birthday as they typically give you a coupon for something just for signing up, and THEN you get a bigger perk to use during your birth month. So, John and I will be eating free for the next 30 days! I signed up with:



Cold Stone Creamery

Melting Pot

Sephora - no free meal but I did get free Sugar lip gloss that is wonderful!

So, if your big day is coming up, or even if it's not, get on the free things train. Whoo whooo!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Recipe Reblog #12


These recipes aren't Easter related but they are tasty. John and I recently hosted some friends for a game night. Game night = snacks, right? Among other dips and treats, I tried these two new appetizer recipes.

Mini Corndog Muffins: I am so sorry I didn't take a picture of the cutest appetizer I've ever made. These were easy, delicious, crowd-pleasing little bites. You mix up the corn bread batter and pour it into a mini muffin tin. Then you cut up a hot dog and stick a piece in each muffin. The perfect poppable bite! I cut the recipe in half to yield 24 muffins. Great snack for all ages!

Garlic Chicken Bites: A friend of mine has made these a couple times when hosting us and I always want to eat the whole plate. They're like grown-up chicken nuggets. A little more spice and flair for you. I cut the oil in half and they didn't suffer one bit. Quick and easy and pretty healthy too!

OK, I'm off to eat my weight in Cadbury eggs!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Cutting It Out

This year, John and I focused on making some changes in our diet for the better. Fewer starchy carbs, more green veggies, lots more protein. It's helped but we've been slipping. It seems like there's always an excuse to pick up an extra sweet treat here or there. Holidays (like Easter) don't help one bit. Trips to our hometown don't help either. Neither of us are seeing any movement on the scale like we want. We have been adding in extra walking with Sadie and of course the new strength programs I talked about yesterday so the workouts are not the problem.

On our Sadie walk the other day John says he's considering making a very drastic dietary change. No sugar? I asked. No refined sugar, he says. And cutting out white things like bread, pasta, etc. I broached this subject with months ago and he scoffed at me. I don't know what article he read but all of a sudden he's spouting off facts about how gluten can be bad for your digestion and sugar is slowly killing everyone. After I picked my jaw up off the sidewalk, I wholeheartedly agreed. Of course I knew all these facts but to hear them from my sugar-loving husband's mouth was quite shocking.

Because our trip to Florida is a mere 5 1/2 weeks away, we decided now is as good a time as any to give it a shot. No one wants to look flabby in a bathing suit. Am I right? While nightly desserts will be difficult to give up, I think we'll be okay. It's just a retraining of the mind to not need a certain type of food. I've already done that with other foods for that last 8 years. Does this mean I have to give up the sugar in wine too? That might be a tad more difficult......

Any tips for tricking a sweet tooth? Have you gone off sugar? Let me know!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

New Rules of Lifting for Women

In 2009, I read the book New Rules of Lifting for Women. You can see what I thought about it here. I ended up re-reading the book last year but didn't repost it because I didn't think a double read counted. The first time around I found the workout plan interesting except for the part where he eschews most forms of cardio. I love my cardio and will never stop doing it in lieu of weight lifting. However, as Zumba Toning wasn't really doing it for me anymore, and I had access to heavier weights in my basement, I decided to switch my two strength days per week to this program.

I am halfway through Stage 1 of 7 stages and am happy to report I feel a whole lot stronger already. I've doubled the weight for my leg exercises in just 5 weeks and upped the weights for my upper body too. Initially, I saw a lot of change in my measurements but that has kind of plateaued a bit. I know the further I go with the program the more muscle I'll gain replacing the fat that used to be there. The entire program will likely take me about 6 months to get through because I'm only doing it 2 days a week instead of the recommended 3.

Perhaps I should have taken some before and after pictures. Oops. I already see changes for sure. And in an act of camaraderie, John is following the men's version of the same program. I think he's enjoying the challenge too. He even said after the first couple workouts that he's clearly been lifting all wrong his whole life. What an endorsement!

Stay tuned to see what other changes happen with my muscles!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Happy Halter Dress - Simplicity 4581

I have had this pattern in my to-sew box so long it is now out of print. This is unfortunate because it's a good little halter dress. I made the dress on the model and featured in the upper left-hand corner of this pattern envelope. Perhaps there's a Simplicity archive somewhere you can purchase this? This view I sewed calls for piping, I skipped that part.

Using a mustard colored cotton printed with juniper berries, I cut this out pretty quickly. I used their size 12 and actually graded up to a 14 in a couple spots. This proved a bit problematic later on when matching seams but I was glad I did. I have a big rib cage and it wouldn't have fit otherwise. No joke. Small chest, big rib cage. We all have our faults. And as we know, sizing on patterns is typically cut smaller than ready-to-wear clothing. In dresses I am always a 10, an 8 in certain cuts and on a good day! If you didn't know patterns do not necessarily equal ready-to-wear sizing, learn it now or face much sadness with your seam ripper.

                                                                       Here I am!


The halter on this is lined by the middle bodice section and the skirt aren't. I'm considering adding a lining to the skirt. I haven't worn it in the sun yet to see how see through it is but a little modesty never hurt anyone, right?

No warning from photographer

From the back - still windy

I'm really happy with the way it turned out. The pattern didn't have anything too tricky to it as far as skills go: some gathers, invisible zipper, fitting the halter. That's about it. It only took me a couple sessions with my machine to finish too. I'm hoping no one will look too closely at the side seams on the bodice. They cough-don'tquitematchup-cough. I forgot to take into account the fact that I used a combination of sizes. Oh well. It's not that noticeable with the print on the fabric......I hope.

If you can get your hands on this out of print pattern, don't hesitate to stitch it up. Can't wait to wear it as the weather continues to warm up this spring!

This dress kicked off a sewing roll for me. Watch out for lots more projects in the coming weeks. I can't be stopped!

Monday, April 2, 2012

March Running Round Up

March went much better than February in my running world. I'm off the Aleve, mostly. Sometimes I take one before a run, when I remember. I still have the pain in my right hamstring but it's a lot less prevalent. The doctor suggested physical therapy but for now, I've declined. I'm learning that a good stretch regularly, foam rolling and yoga help keep the pain at bay.

Running makes your muscles SUPER tight. I never knew the meaning of that until I started running twice as many miles a month as I used to.

Here's how it played out for March:

Mar 3: 3.5 mi in 32:00, neg splits, pain toward end
Mar 4: 6 mi in 57:11, avg pace 9:35, pain last 2 miles
Mar 10: 3.3 mi in 29:45, neg splits, would have done 4 sub36 but ran out of time
Mar 11: 6.5 mi in 61:41, longest run yet 10:00/9:42/9:23/9:16/8:46/8:41/5:00
Mar 13: 3.4 in 29:53, 1 aleve only, 9:01/8:46/8:36
Mar 17: 3.6 mi in 36:00, first outside run - no aleve, some pain
Mar 18: 4 mi TM, 1 aleve 9:51/9:41/9:28/9:22
Mar20: 3.45 mi in 29:45, 1 aleve, 8:36/8:25/8:07-fastest mile yet!
Mar 24: 4 mi outside in approx 40 min, no aleve had pain
Mar 25: 4.5 mi in 41:40, 9:15 pace, leg pain :(
Mar 27: 3.35 mi in 30:00, no aleve, no pain- walked Sadie beforehand
March 30: 3.4 mi in 32:04 9:51/9:31/9:20, pain halfway

49 miles

Not too shabby, eh? Did you see that 8:07 mile in there? Fastest for me, EVER! The pain is still there, yes, but I'm learning to manage it. I had two outside runs, first ones for 2012. I hate transitioning from the treadmill to the road. I feel so much slower and it's a lot harder to propel yourself down the sidewalk than it is on a rubber belt that's moving for you. My pace outside is all over the place, I know. I take some walk breaks, something I never have to do on the treadmill. It's a process, I suppose. I'll get there. Maybe this month I'll actually hit the 50 miles that I've been striving for.

Warmer temps in April and a beach trip coming in 6 weeks? Better keep on, keepin' on.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Recipe Reblog #11

Something exciting for you today! Breakfast outside of the box.

Breakfast Quesadillas: My sister passed this recipe along to me so we have her to thank today. These are sweet breakfast quesdillas using items you very likely have on hand. All it really takes is tortillas, cream cheese and fruit! I used strawberries because they are super sweet right now, plus I had a coupon. My sous chef and I cooked these up quickly on a Saturday morning. They hit the spot! Healthy breakfast with fruit and protein minus eggs? I'm in!

Happy April Fools Day, fools!