Independence Day

Politics is a big deal in my world.  I often find myself lamenting the choices of our government and shaking my head at those who seem oblivious to decisions that affect us all, but I’m still thankful to be here.  I’m proud to be an American.

There’s something exciting about spending this day so close to our nation’s capital, but my plan is to spend the day in the sunshine, barbecuing by the pool. I’ll watch fireworks too.

What are your plans for today? How will you celebrate the birth of our nation?

 

Catching Up On Stuff

Everyone knows I struggle with food, but you may also know that I enjoy a good workout. I’ve been wanting to challenge myself to do something different – something that will help me climb out of this rut that I’ve been in this year, and I’ve decided what that challenge will be.  I’m going to do Jillian Michaels’ 30-Day Shred.  Yep, I’ve pulled out one of my old favorites, and I completed level 1 last night.  I plan to do it over the next 30 days, taking no more than 2 days off from it during that time.  Level 3 is my favorite, but I’ll get to that at some point over the next month.

Maybe my eating needs work (okay, it needs a lot of work!)  But exercise has always been my saving grace, and it felt so good to sweat last night!  I’ll still hit the gym, but before I lay down at night, I’ll have completed at least one level of the 30-Day Shred which means I’ll do it in three different states because I’m traveling a lot over the next month.  Does anyone feel like accepting this challenge with me?  If so, leave a comment, or shoot me an e-mail.

In other news, I had an amazing trip to my sister’s house last week (so amazing that I didn’t even make time to blog) so I’m going to share a few of my favorite pics.

I ate this red velvet pancake and skipped the others...it was amazing.

Red velvet pancake...nope, not kidding..

Choomi!!!!!!!!!!! <3

The kid loves to decorate cookies!

Katy made these!

She met Santa after we saw Happy Feet 2!

Last week was fantastic, and this week has been great so far.  Cal came to see me yesterday, and he’ll be around a lot this week.  And we’re taking a little trip together after a wedding that we’re attending the week after next so life is fun, and I’m thankful for that.  We’re doing a taste test for dinner this evening, and I’m looking forward to talking about it on my blog!  Of course, I’ll have to post a picture or two.

How did everything go for you last week?  Did those of you in the US enjoy Thanksgiving?  Did you eat well? Workout?

I Know It’s October, But…

The last couple of days have been great, and I’m officially excited about Fall.  It’s my favorite season because of the crisp mornings, the array of squashes found at the supermarket (love every kind of squash I’ve ever tasted) and college football.  And at this time of year, I start preparing for the holidays.

I went to Hobby Lobby and Bed, Bath and Beyond today with Mom yesterday, and they already had Thanksgiving and Christmas decorations all over.  And I love it, and Mom loves it too.  (Sorry, Kelly..ha)

I love the holidays, and I also love the anticipation that starts building for me in October.  I love cheesy movies, baking cookies and making candy and Christmas music.  Yes, I realize that it’s October, but it’s who I am. =)  Tomorrow, after our trip to the gym, Mom and I plan to venture out to explore other stores with Christmas displays.  See? I come by it honestly. ;)

Christmas 2008 at Macy's on 34th St, NYC

I bake sugar cookies (among other things) every year, but sugar cookies are one of my favorites because I like decorating them more than I like eating them.  I can pass by cookies on the counter without feeling the need to eat them though it’s harder for me to pass up cupcakes.

This year, I’m trying new recipes for cookie frosting because somewhere along the line, I lost my favorite.  I found one today that is very similar, and it seemed to work though it still needs to be adjusted a little.  I want my cookies to look and taste great before the benefit that my family is hosting for my Uncle Wesley at the end of the month.

My latest frosting attempt...It needs work. ;)

I was out of icing bags so I used ziploc bags. Ha...

I typically bake sweet treats and make candy over the holidays, but this year it’s starting early.  I plan to share them at a benefit at the end of the month so it’s important to create a plan of attack before the parties begin.  I wrote about it during my first year of weight-loss, and I think it’s important to remember what worked so I can do it again.  Here’s an excerpt from a post I wrote in December of 2009:

Over Thanksgiving I learned that I could eat things that I enjoy without gaining weight, and I plan to do that again over the Christmas holidays. Baking, making homemade candy and fudge and parties can be challenging though I try to remind myself that the next bite will taste like the last. And so far, it has worked for me.

This is really good advice to give to myself because it applies everyday, and in the past, I’ve proven that it works. And now it’s time to prove it to myself again.  I’m a firm believer in living life and enjoying it, obviously.  But I also know that it’s important to remember that I have goals if I want to achieve them, and I do.  I made great strides (including solid losses on the scale) in September, and I’m going to stop letting one week define how I feel about my progress.

So while it’s only mid-October, it’s never too early to start preparing mentally.  I’m working on a list of things that I can do to make it through the holidays without a hitch, and I’ll share that list in detail at some point later.  Until then, I’m going to keep trying to perfect my recipes and remind myself that each healthy decision I make will lead to a longer, healthier, holiday-filled life.

 

Happy Mother’s Day Mom! I Love You!

I wrote this post about my mom on Mother’s Day 2009.  And while my life has changed a lot in the past two years, the same truths about my mother still apply.  I couldn’t ask for a better mother.  She is unconditional love personified, and I am grateful and lucky to call her Mom.

—–

I live over a thousand miles from my mom, but she’s still one of my closest friends. We talk on the phone at least once almost every day. She can be aggravating at times, but I’m guilty of that more often than she is. =) And she has always had the ability to comfort me or make me laugh regardless of how far apart we are.


She is definitely the strongest woman I know, and she’s also an incredibly talented singer. She speaks sign language and French as well (perhaps even better) than she speaks English…and she always keeps her word. She gives good hugs and makes the best fried chicken, pork roast and gumbo anyone could ever taste. And even in our roughest times, I never doubted her love for me.





She has sacrificed SO MUCH of herself and her life to be sure that my sister and I had opportunities that she didn’t have or that she knew we should have.


From the sneakers on our feet to the trips to Disney World and Europe she and my dad have provided opportunities for me that helped to mold my world view. And I will, forever, be in debt to her for that.


When I was growing up I was selfish. And I suppose I’m still pretty selfish though my mom never has been. I owe my parents everything I am and more. She rarely gets the credit she deserves, but I could never say thank you enough to Mom for helping me become the person I am. I’m so lucky to have her as a mom, and I hope she lives forever…!

Fat Tuesday

Where my family comes from, Mardi Gras is a big, big deal.  Fat Tuesday, the day before lent,  is a day of epic indulgence.  It is a day when folks get together and splurge on food, drinks and fun…

And while I have only participated in the festivities a few times in my life, I always used this day as an excuse to eat in excess until last year.  Now it’s just another day – a day in which I will eat responsibly and exercise.  My plan is to indulge in a 5k or a 10k.  Why not? ;)

In spite of my lack of willingness to indulge in food and drinks, I couldn’t let this day go unnoticed.  It is, indeed, a part of my heritage.  And I always smile at the thought of my mom catching beads and stuffed animals and other fun things at the parades.  =0) 

Do you celebrate Mardi Gras?  Is there anything special about this Tuesday for you? How do you plan on making this day a success for yourself?

I plan on making today an incredible day!  Laissez Le Bon Temps Roulet

Friend Makin’ Mondays: Valentine’s Day and My Healthy Valentine Gift

It’s Monday again, but this Monday is special because it’s a day to eat chocolate and celebrate your love or something. ;)  If you’ve taken part in FMM then you know the rules. If you’re new, please take a moment to answer this week’s question on your own blog then add a link at the bottom of this post so we can all see your post. The idea is to connect with other awesome bloggers so take a moment to post your own FMM post and comment on a couple of other posts.

 
This week’s question is:

How do you plan on celebrating Valentine’s Day? 

This is the first year in as many as I can remember in which I haven’t had a valentine.  It’s strange to think that no one will give me tulips or share a romantic dinner with me or give me a Reese’s Peanut Butter Heart.  I’d like to say that it doesn’t bother me at all, but it’s a little annoying.

I miss the fun that comes with being in a relationship, but I don’t miss the heartache that comes when it’s over so I’m going to embrace the positives and be thankful for the people in my life who do love me.  I’ll enjoy dinner, watch a cheesy and romantic movie and maybe even gift myself with a Reese’s Peanut Butter Heart that I promise not to eat all at once. ;) 

How will you celebrate today?  Are you in love? Do you love/hate this holiday?  Are you hoping to have a valentine next year?  It’s your turn to answer so do it then come back and link up!

 

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And because we already link up on Mondays on this blog, I’m going to talk about the Healthy Valentine’s Swap that Janna and I hosted this year.  By putting everything in one post, we can all link up and share the love and the fun!

I also want to share a picture of the prezzies I received from Kelly in our Healthy Valentine’s Swap!  I received my goodies from Kelly Saturday evening, and I loved EVERYTHING! =)  She knows how much I’ve missed Trader Joe’s since leaving New York so she sent a fun package filled with my favorites!  How cool is that? =)

She gave me recyclable bags, raw almonds (my favorite) and my favorite Tea Tree Oil soap.  She topped of my package with a really cute card with a sweet message inside. =)  It took about 3 minutes for me to help myself to almonds.

Thank you for the awesome gifts Kelly!  And thanks for always being such a good friend too!

Did you take part in our swap?  If so, leave a comment about your gift and link up with the FMM folks so we can see your gifts for ourselves! =)

Friend Makin’ Mondays: What Did You Do?

It’s a new year, and I can’t think of a better way to start FMM 2011 than by sharing what we did on the first day of the year. If you’ve taken part in FMM then you know the rules. If you’re new, please take a moment to answer this week’s question on your own blog then add a link at the bottom of this post so we can all see your post. The idea is to connect with other awesome bloggers so take a moment to post your own FMM post and comment on a couple of other posts.


This week’s question is…

How did you celebrate the new year? Details, please!

I spent the weekend in Texas, and it was a great way to celebrate the new year. Janna and I had a blast in Austin! We took pictures at the beautiful State Capitol and at the tower at UT. We ate sushi and other good food, and we had a great time talking about life, boys and many other things. She met some of my family in Houston, and I met some of her family and friends too. Her nieces are totally ‘super.’ ;)

Janna, Reese and me..sitting on the steps at UT

Janna took this picture of me with my iPhone, and look at the sky. It was brilliantly blue…a perfect day…
We ate pumpkin pancakes with friends too..they were so delicious and big! I couldn’t finish them, but I enjoyed every bite I consumed.

I also got to enjoy some time with my “cousinlaws” (yeah, I made up a word.) I copied a zillion recipes for my recipe books and laughed into the wee hours. On our way home, a woman who was driving recklessly drew her gun and waved it at us. My cousin, who happens to be a police officer, drew his much bigger and scarier gun, waved his badge and he made the woman pull over. It was scary for a few minutes, but I take comfort in the fact that there are many big, fearless, protective men in my family.


How did you celebrate the new year? What are you looking forward to most in 2011? Don’t forget to add your link! And enjoy the third day of our new year! =)

Happy Days

It has been such a busy week, but I’ve loved every moment so far. And if Dad could have been here for Christmas it would have truly been a perfect day. I guess I won’t complain about being so close to perfection. ;)

I stayed up late baking last night then baked with Mom, Steph and the banana today. We opened presents, visited with the neighbors who are like family and enjoyed a tasty meal.

My workouts were great a few days last week, but they’ve been non-existent since I flew here on Thursday. Tomorrow, however, is a new day. And I’m committing (again) to making exercise a priority. The beautiful thing about this journey is that I can recommit as often as I need to, and I’ve needed to a lot lately.

Anyway, my trip has been good so far, and I want to share a few pictures. I’ll share pics from the 12 Days swap soon too! It was so much fun..Until then..here’s some family fun..

We baked and decorated cookies!
Aunt Janice, Mom and Me
I’ve looked forward to baking cookies with my niece since before she was born! Today it happened for the first time..:)
My neighbor who is more like family, Steff…
My cousin, Lil Jerry, will always be Lil to me! =)
I spent time with Dad before heading to Mom’s, but I miss him already!
My Uncle Jerry is awesome..it was great to see him!

I have so much more to share, but I’m sleepy so I’ll do that later. How were the holidays for everyone else? What was your favorite part?

On The Second Day of Christmas….

My friend, Janna, said to me “Let’s do 30 pushups, and crunches starting with 3 sets of 30!”

Okay folks…it’s time to get to work on Day 2. :)

Here’s what I ate today:

Pomegranate and banana…
A lovely salad….


I also ate lean proteins, a sweet potato and other healthy foods. It has been a successful day of eating…good for me, right? :)

And my swap prezzie today was awesome! I received Acai Berry Burt’s Bees lip balm and cuticle cream. And I LOVE it! =)

I forgot to photograph it before I ripped the package open. Ha..Thank you Janna!