Friday, January 30, 2015

Friday Five!

{bringing back the 90’s with these awesome jeans (on mega sale!)}

This week was rough. Some serious shit hit the fan on a couple projects and started my week off on an extremely sour note. But working through it & solving problems helped speed the week along, and the appreciative comments I received because of my hard work made it a little sweeter. Let's just say I think the week is ending on a fantastic note!!

The countdown for Florida has officially begun. 3 weeks from now we’ll be packing up and headed down to Marco Island for a Winter vacay with the family! I can almost smell the sea water and sunshine!

This weekend I’m excited to spend quality time with quality friends, catching a little gymnastics at Western Michigan (where our old coach is now the Head Coach) lovin’ on some Food Dance brunch and enjoying the Superbowl commercials from the comfort of my couch.

{preparing for Paris w/ cute little chocolates}

{delicious chili nachos at the Garage}

{fun & functional drawing notebook for my 52 Week Hand Lettered Challenge}

{THE.BEST. bar snack mix found at Kale’s Korner while dive bar hopping downtown}

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Dirty 30: Sister-in-Law Edition

A couple of weeks ago, Max and I ventured down to St. Joe and celebrated his sister’s 30th birthday! I haven’t been to a house party in YEARS so this I was looking forward to. The evening started off visiting a local brewery, The Livery, before heading over to the celebration. Once the guests started to arrive a wicked game of Never Have I Ever was busted out and the party really got going. Between the meatballs, beer, games, cocktails, pizza rolls, champagne and conversation there was always something going on and entertainment all around! We had a blast from the second we left our house all the way to our Taco Bell breakfast run on the way home!

What else is there to do in January…?
Nada :)

Monday, January 26, 2015

Monday Motivators: Whole Life Challenge, Week 1

[Earning the exercise points is the least of my worries. 
Day 9 of the challenge was my 3rd half marathon of the 
2014-15 race season]

We're already into the third day of week 2.  I'm glad I decided to upgrade my status to the Performance level of the Whole Life Challenge because the middle level wasn't enough of a change from my previous day-to-day. The point of the game is to adjust your habits in a way that will allow new, lasting lifestyle behaviors, and I wanted something that would keep me on my toes. 

Over the next 7 weeks, I'll be sharing different aspects of this challenge and the changes-both big and small-that I'm making as a result. All of which hold the promise of motivating me each Monday morning. 

The first week, it was mostly changes in the nutrition category that took me through the ups--new recipes & strategic workouts--and also some wine temptations at a reunion happy hour. 

All in all, I am starting to feel the mental shift. Even the slightest changes have made me feel successful and motivated me to keep trying to better myself.  Best of all, I'm participating with my husband, so the team work and accountability have twice the meaning. 

[Now that my husband's joined the game, the produce in our house has doubled...yay!]

[A salad every day doesn't mean you're in the clear. Homemade dressing is now a must to avoid sugars & unwanted chemicals. *Read the ingredients of these recipes carefully; they're not all WLC approved.]

[My nightly glass of wine (or two) is now herbal tea with fresh fruit.]

[3rd attempt at sweet potato chips. Still no luck. I'll get there...we need something to dip into the fresh, homemade salsa.]

[Luckily for my husband, our chili recipe is almost completely WLC compliant...I just had to make another batch without corn. Yellow bell peppers are a nice substitute--and a trick to the eye--for the duration of the challenge. Tates just as good!] 

[Adding peanuts to the diet in place of crackers and pretzels was fun for awhile, but I quickly decided the idea needed some spicing up.]

[Which is exactly what I did. In the sauce pan, I added olive oil and cooked the peanuts until golden brown. After about 10 minutes, I added garlic powder, pepper, cumin, & cayanne.]

[Once I got a bit obsessed with the idea of enhancing peanuts, I must admit I went a bit nutty myself. Above, I followed the recipe more closely, but to keep my WLC points--and save a few calories--I used egg whites instead of butter to coat the nuts before baking and did not include any cane sugars.  Here, I used them as a crunchy topping to a completely natural, sugar-free apple & pear sauce (recipe later). Perfect for dessert or breakfast. Spices for these sweet spiced nuts include nutmeg, ground cloves, all spice, cinnamon, salt and a dash of stevia (allowed!)]

Day 7. I had been earning ALL  of my points, EVERY day...until my dear friend, who I hadn't seen in months, called me up and invited me to a happy hour at a wine bar. Instant 4 point deduction. Woops. 
Gotta say, the pinot noir and company was well worth the sacrifice! Temporarily off the wagon. Saturday, I was back in business.

Now that the food routine is back on WLC auto pilot, I want to conquer the stretching part of this new lifestyle. Other than two minutes here and there in between sets, I'd like to actually carve out 10 solid minutes each night before bed, where I follow a calming stretching routine.

Who Says I Can’t be a Cook… Eventually

In honor of my New Year’s resolutions, I thought I would document my first meal J

So, lately, I’ve been seriously toying with the thought of breaking out a cook book (and by cookbook, I mean Pinterest) and actually attempting some simple-ish recipes. I know what you’re thinking, “you haven’t thought of that already, Meg”. Well, the answer is not really (hence my resolution to ACTUALLY learn how to cook). I can hold my own when it comes to certain things, ie nachos, frozen meals, and salads consisting of raw vegetables and unthawed shrimp, but when Max looks down at a delicious (or so I thought) looking plate of nachos and replies with, “the microwave isn’t cooking”, I get the sense that I should step up my game. Plus, I figure one day I will need to be at least somewhat domestic when it comes to the kitchen, even though, in my opinion, I live with the world’s greatest cook.

With that being said, I finally bit the bullet and decided that Max could be my cookbook and instruct me on making a nice healthy, winter chili. Not a hard dish, I realize, but I a girls gotta start somewhere!

I even got a “good job” from the hubbs! So proud. Next up… TURKEY TACOS!

Here are the MANY ingredients that went into my masterpiece chili!

1/2 red pepper, 1 Large onion, 3 stalks of celery & 1 green pepper
1 Lb of frozen beef stock
2 cans of corn, 2 cans of diced tomato & 12 oz tomato paste
1 can each of black, kidney & chili
1 lb ground turkey
Nutmeg & ground cinnamon
Ground Cayenne red  pepper
Garlic powder
Italian seasoning
Chili powder
Salt & pepper

I know I know so many ingredients... but worth every one of them!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Happy 6th Birthday, Jackson!!

[Without a doubt, the most wonderful, gentle soul I've ever known.]  

My baby boy, Jackson (better known as Monkey) turned six years old today. I'm happy to report that he is in great health and even better spirits. Though I'm convinced his hearing is not what it once was, the way he chases a tennis ball in our backyard and plays with his baby sister, he could convince any vet that he is as spry as the day we brought him home.

[The day we brought him home. 10 weeks old. 11 pounds of wrinkles.]

[He used to be so little, he'd hide and take naps under our bed.]

[First trip to the park.]

[First time in the snow.]

[First birthday]

[First alcoholic beverage.]

[Present day. Big boy.] 

He was beyond frustrated that I wouldn't help him with this handy new toy we bought him today...eventually he did figure it out, of course.  
Typical 6 year old. As a special birthday snack, we made him and Apple a plate of nachos to share. Big splurge for this carrot-munching health nut. 

Here's to six more years, little man!