Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Recipes? I thought this blog didn't "do" recipes!

If you've been here before, I've told you that I don't cook much.  I can make a few things well, most of which have been shared here before.  Before I get into why I'm going to be sharing some things with anyone who stops by, let me give you a little background...

I'm a Sales Manager in real life.  This often requires putting on a suit, heels, and makeup.  At the end of May and beginning of June, I did it every day for two weeks - to sit in conference rooms.  The meetings were great - they weren't the issue.  The issue was that I didn't have time in my car between stops where I could remove my jacket and maybe unbutton my pants.  I couldn't take off the heels that were squeezing my feet and slip on my trusty flip flops.  I had to sit in those conference rooms and feel the waistbands cutting into me, knowing that I would even be able to see the thread holes from the buttons marked on my skin at the end of the day, trying to hide my belly behind untucked shirts or buttoned jackets.

So, I decided to do something about it!  Two dear friends had just shared some "before and after" photos on Facebook from a fitness challenge they had completed.  Both of these ladies had babies last year, and they looked absolutely amazing.  I decided to jump in on the game.  One of them had become a Beachbody coach, so she sent a ton of info and suggested I try 21 Day Fix as I hadn't really exercised anymore than walking from parking lots to my car for quite some time.  I checked it out and decided it was the good way to go!

I won't get too much into the details of the plan, though if you want more info, you can get it by clicking on the banner down there at the bottom of the page or shoot me an email.  Suffice it to say that it makes eating right and exercising very, very simple with color coded containers.  No counting calories, and the best part, no eating a bunch of cardboard for a few weeks to drop some pounds only to put it back on (and then some) within a week.  If you can buy it at a farmers' market, it's probably OK.  What I really like about the program is that it's full of foods I already like, it just teaches portion control and makes me get up off my booty for at least 1/2 hour a day for the workouts!

In these last couple of weeks, I've seen lots of Pins, posts, and blogs about plain boiled chicken, brown rice, and basically cardboard.  No way!  Eating healthy does NOT have to mean tasteless "fuel." You can still enjoy food and lose weight.  I'm proof - since June 7, I've lost 15 inches overall and though I don't know exactly where my weight was because I didn't buy a scale until after I started, I know what the scale said at my last doctor appointment a couple of months back, and I'm 12 pounds lighter than I was then.  Maybe I'll share some before and after photos here when I'm done, too.  We'll see!

This program focuses on fresh, healthy foods, which for the most part, I already love.  However, one of the primary groups is protein, and with needing to eat 4 servings a day (red container - which is 3/4 cup, which is more than you think it is), I was struggling to reach my goal each day even with my breakfast shake counting as one and with eating two more by having chicken, turkey, beef, or pork loin with lunch and dinner. Beans fall into a different color category, I'm allergic to shellfish, and I have a phobia about eating fish that wasn't caught that day (ok, call it being spoiled from my years in Florida), so I had to revisit the list of approved foods for that red container. In comes the need to incorporate some yogurt.  No, not fun, sugary Peaches n' Cream, either.  Straight, plain, nasty Greek yogurt.  Show me someone who says they love to eat plain Greek yogurt, I'll show you a liar. Seriously, the first couple of times I tried to eat it, even with fruit mixed in, it was rough.

So, I checked the book AGAIN, and came up with a winner - and there's no cooking required!


This has quickly become one of my favorite snacks.  Actually, there's so much goodness in here, you could almost make this one of your meals!  


3/4 C plain Greek yogurt  (1 Red)
1 small apple, cut into small cubes (1 Purple)
Cinnamon to taste
Homemade toasted oats (1 Yellow) recipe below - so easy!

It's that simple.  The cinnamon is what got me to be able to actually enjoy the yogurt, and when I load it on, I don't hold back.  Seriously - there's an overload of cinnamon here.  It's a good thing you can have as much of it as you'd like (along with most other spices!)


Top it off with some toasted oats - YUM!  If you're fending off a major sweet tooth, add a teaspoon of local, raw, organic honey and consider that craving curbed! I just finished one of these, and now I want another.

Toasted Oats:  
Preheat oven to 350°.  
Spread 1 Cup of oats in single layer on cookie sheet (I also stirred some up in 1 tsp of coconut oil to make some clusters.)
Sprinkle with cinnamon
Bake 15 - 20 minutes, stirring every few minutes
Store in sealed container

Have you found a favorite healthy POWER food?

Saturday, June 7, 2014

I didn't know I had tulip trees.

In the last post, I referenced something new that I had discovered.  Last weekend, as I floated around the still cold pool, I noticed something in the tree behind it.  It was so interesting to me that I actually got off of my raft into the cold water so that I could inspect closer.  What I saw was so exciting, and I think my husband thought I was a complete idiot for not noticing it before in the four years we've lived here.


There were some really cool "cups" sitting throughout the tree, and as I walked over, I realized the tree was FULL of them.  I had to run inside to get the camera and capture this awesomeness.  I had no idea!



I asked my husband what these were, and he rolled his eyes not believing that I didn't already know this.  I'll admit - I didn't spend a ton of time in the backyard gazing at the tree before I had the pool! Once he explained that we also have them in the front yard, I got to Googling and learned that these are Yellow Poplar trees, aka Tulip Trees, and that the flowers only bloom in late May/early June - so I just happened to catch them at the right moment!  

This tree was covered - they're already starting to shrink up - and for the rest of that day, I just floated and stared!  It's hard to see in the picture below, but with this view alone, I counted 47.



What pleasant surprises have you had in a place you've lived?

Sunday, June 1, 2014

It's the most wonderful time of the year!


Most people rightfully identify with Christmastime when they hear the words in that headline.  Not me, I'm a Summer girl, and OUR POOL IS OPEN!  Yes, yes it is!  I have been outside just about every waking moment that I'm not working since the air temperature has been above 50° and loving every minute of it.

On April 12, I pulled all of the pool stuff out of storage and got it all kicked into gear.  Following the methods on this site (which includes opening before the water temp reaches 50°), I opened to this beautiful clear water!


It didn't take much more than some additional water (with the help of my trusty DIY fill water filter) and a little sun love to get to the point where the past few weekends have been spent just like this - except with me ON the raft.


The water's still a little chilly at 76° today, but you know what, if I can get on the raft just right, I don't even know how cold the water is!

Now for all the not so fun, but oh so worthwhile stuff about making an above ground pool not only relaxing, but look good too...

My awesome husband finished up laying the rocks under the deck and came home with some plants on Mother's Day that will soon fill up some of the blank space. 


We had this small retaining wall done by a great landscaper so that all that mud you can see in the picture on the day I opened wouldn't happen anymore. I've never been so excited to pay someone else to do a project in my life!  Not only did I not have to fight the rocky soil, but I know it was done right, and there won't be any more mud pushing into the pool after a rain.


This pool has been a process, but we're finally nearing the finish line. With the help of the huz and my brother, since this thing was installed last year, about 3-4 tons of rocks have been moved, I've learned how to take care of it, and now all we really have left to do is stain the deck and this project is DONE. I can sit back, relax, and float my stress away!!


Wait until I tell you about what I noticed for the first time in four years as I floated yesterday!!

What's your favorite (at least nearly) finished project so far this Spring?

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Stress Banishing Balm


Have you ever had a massage, facial, or any kind of body work really and noticed that the smell of the spa stays with you and continues to relax you even after you've left?  With allergies and being one who doesn't like to have to take medication, I've always been something of a believer of aromatherapy.  

Carrying around essential oils or cloth scented with them isn't really practical.  I picked up a "stress stick" at Reading Terminal in Philly a few months ago, and while I loved the idea, something in it didn't agree with my skin.  I remembered my mom having solid perfume when I was a kid, so I thought I'd take a shot at combining the two!  I had made lotion bars before (which I'm still using up, by the way - the store in the fridge wonderfully!) so I decided to apply the same idea to "stress sticks."

I knew that to keep the lotion bars solid, it was 1 part wax to 1 part oil, so I picked up some supplies and finally had some time today to melt them all together!


I used all organic ingredients - coconut oil, hemp oil, beeswax pellets, and essential oils.  I studied up using essential oils quite a bit before putting this together, and all I can say is... pretty much anything goes.  I decided to include top, middle, and bottom notes, and knowing that I wanted this to be used for stress relief, went with Ylang Ylang, Vanilla, Lavender, and Lemongrass.  I found many different sites that explained that for the best balance, you need to vary the amount of each oil you use to get the best fit, and blended them before hand.  

I set up a double boiler using a pot and a measuring glass.  I wanted the measuring glass so that I would have the spout to pour the mixture into tubes.  You could just as easily use a mason jar and a dropper.  That would require some thinking ahead though, which I don't always do well.

The tricky part was keeping the water hot enough, but not too hot on our electric stove.  Once the water was warm, I put in the beeswax and stirred it pretty constantly with a chopstick until it was almost completely melted.  


Once it was almost liquid, I added coconut oil, and when it melted, hemp oil.  Once they were all in the pot and nice and melty, I added the essential oil blend.  Once you add the oils, you need to get them into whatever they will live in pretty quickly so that you don't cook the essentials out!

I added the essential oils with a "30% top notes, 50% middle, and 20%" balance and oh my - let me tell you how wonderful the house STILL smells!

Once the oils were sufficiently blended in, I lifted the measuring glass out, wiped the bottom, and poured into lip balm containers.  


Before I added the essential oils, I actually poured one container just so I could see the texture/consistency was right.  Best lip balm I've ever used, so I'll be using the rest of the containers I bought for major lip balm stockage!  This being my first round, the regular sized lip balm twist containers were the choice because I wasn't sure how it would work out. If it goes over well, you may just see larger Boho Willow Stress Balm sticks for sale somewhere!

I also created a label using my Silhouette and some Waterproof Vinyl Inkjet labels I purchased here.  I love the way they turned out!



Do you make any skincare or aromatherapy items?  Do you like to use them?  One reader will win 3 tubes of this awesome small batch, hand poured balm by entering below (even if you're already following on Facebook, be sure to click to enter!)  Contest starts when this post goes live and will end Friday, May 23, 2014.  Good luck!!


a Rafflecopter giveaway


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