129 days until "summer break", uuuummmmmm...

shit.  that's 18 weeks and 3 days.  i have over 30 pounds to lose before then.  shit. 

i LIVE to eat. 

but i need to...............

EAT to live.

okay, diets?  yuck.  exercise?  yuck.  but if i want to ACTUALLY lose over 30 pounds by summer, then i have to do one or the other.  fine.  i'll give both a stab.  (feels like the right word to use with diet and exercise, doesn't it?) 

over 2 weeks ago, i made a decision to eat healthier.  that means lots of fruits and veggies and protein.  and no.  no, not no, hell no does that mean going without carbs.  so far, 10 pounds down.  20 to go.

with changing my eating habits, i find myself no longer thinking about my next meal at all times.  and by eating better foods that are lower on the glycemic index (think, diabetics, kind of...) my blood sugar stays steadier all day.  that means i don't binge eat.  (and you're an idiot if you think i would EVER purge.  i hate to throw up.  and i hate to waste food.)  of course, eating healthier tends to be a little boring or bland at times.  i mean, i love pastries and lattes and fries and pie.  what's a girl to do?  well, i'll tell you.  get some creative juices flowing and tweak some recipes.  and i did just that.  TWO yummy recipes that are bikini-friendly. :)

the first is a breakfast recipe.  or i suppose you could have it for dessert...  i made a blueberry cheese danish.  it was good.  not awesome but definitely curbed a craving for me.  next time i am going to use strawberries instead since they tend to be sweeter than blueberries.

skinny blueberry cheese danish--single serving
nutritional facts: 231 calories, 2g fat, 18g carbs, 16g protein

cake batter:
1/4 c. heartsmart bisquick
1 T.   soy flour (you can sub for regular but your protein count will go down)
1 T.   splenda
3 T.   egg beaters
1 T.   skim milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 T.   zero-calorie butter spray

cheese filling:
2 T.  FF cream cheese
1 T.  splenda
1 T.  egg beaters
1/2 tsp. lemon juice

fruit topping:
1/2 c. fresh or frozen berries
1/2 T. splenda

preheat oven to 350 degrees.  cake batter: mix dry ingredients first then add wet.  pour into a PAM sprayed mini-loaf pan.  cheese filling: soften cream cheese (microwave 10 sec.) then mix with splenda.  next add wet ingredients.  spoon on top of cake batter but leave room around the edges.  fruit topping: defrost berries (if needed), then mash or chop.  add splenda.  spoon on top of the filling.  bake 16 minutes.  let cool.  enjoy :)

the second recipe is a beverage.  it is my own version of a caramel macchiato. yum!!!  i seriously sipped on this for an hour because i didn't want it to end!!!

skinny caramel macchiato--single serving
nutritional facts: 105 calories, 0g fat, 22g carbs, 2.5g protein

1/3 c. skim milk
1/6 c. boiling water (40 mL)
1/6 c. international delight: coffee house inpiration skinny caramel macchiato
3/4 tsp. instant coffee
dash of cinnamon
2 T. FF aerosol whipped cream

combine first four ingredients.  top with whipped cream and cinnamon.  enjoy!!

if you try these recipes, let me know what you think.  i'd love to hear any improvements or different versions!  i would LOVE to add to my "skinny" collection. :)


pantry shelf mini-make-over

do you ever open your pantry and suddenly feel an overwhelming sense of panic?  i do.  alot.  my pantry (if you can call it that since it used to be a hall closet that we had to convert into a pantry because our terrible house plans did not include a pantry at all but we failed to notice that before putting our initials on everything saying we approve) is always a freaking mess.  (sorry ML, i said freaking.)  every time i open that blasted door, i feel myself hyperventilating because it is so ugly inside there.  no thanks to the cheap wire shelving we chose to use to create a pantry in the first place.  i hate wire shelves.  especially in my pantry.  i hate the way you have to strategically place small cans on it so they don't tip over due to the lack of support.  i hate the way small packages, like my granola bars or popcorn bags, fall through those dagnabbit wires.  did i mention that i loathe wire shelves?

so much hatred is not healthy.  time for a change. 

here is what my ugly, hateful pantry looked like before.  don't judge me.

 um, no.  i NEVER have an empty shelf.  i had already started clearing things out when i took the pics.

why, yes, yes that is paper grocery bags on that empty shelf.  that was my white trash version of making my shelves less "fall-through" proof.

remember when i decrapified my office space?  i had bought some particle board from home depot to lay on the wire shelf thingy that i had had since college.  well, at the same time i did that, i had the hd guy cut the boards so they would fit in my pantry as well.  i think i spent a total of $5 on all the boards.  (cheap-o)  here is what it looked like cut to size...
real purdy, huh?  nope.  well, i found some super cute self-adhesive shelf liner paper at target a few weeks ago.  you know, the kind that you normally put in your cabinets and drawers.  i used it to cover the top of each board.  but i also added it to the bottom of the two boards that would be on the top 2 shelves in the pantry.  i did that because i didn't want to see the ugly brown board every time i opened the pantry and looked up.  here is what the pantry looks like now.  it may not appear to be a huge difference to you but i assure you that i no longer feel hatred when i open that door.

believe it or not, i can actually fit more into my pantry now.  the boards give me more space on each shelf since nothing falls through or tips over from the wires.  not a bad mini-make-over for under $10.  it definitely would have cost much more to replace that ungodly wire shelving.  as for pretty-ing things up, well, that is another project down the road.  i am really hoping to score some jars/containers that i can cutesy up with some labels and hopefully talk the hubby into the dessert bar i want to add to our kitchen area that will help me get rid of some of the bigger non pantry items, like my stand mixer, wok, and platters.  stay tuned for that...but don't hold your breath.


homemade Christmas granola

while on my quest to save money and be more thoughtful with gifts, i decided to make the usually gifts that neil and i love to give to our aunts, uncles, and cousins.  googling late into the night, i came across a blog called my.daily.randomness.  totally stole her idea, recipe, and labels. :)  and i sure am glad i did because everyone loved it!   look how adorable they turned out!
 i found the containers at joann fabrics.  they were on sale for $2 a piece plus i used a 20% coupon on the entire purchase.  (score)  the containers are actually for scrapbooking materials.  i found them in the ribbon cutting section on an end cap. 

i tweaked the recipe to my liking... the original called for flax seed (uh, what?), pumpkin seeds (no thanks.  only like those with a TON of salt), coconut (yuck), and raisins (seriously?  there are WAY better dried fruits out there).  here's my recipe:

mollie's homemade granola--makes approx. 6 cups
4 c. oats (not instant or quick cooking)
1 c. chopped walnuts (i put them in my food processor to make them fine)
1 c. slided almonds
3/4 c. maple syrup (dark)
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. dried cherries
1/2 c. dried blueberries
preheat oven to 325.  combine oats and nuts in a large bowl.  combine syrup, vanilla, salt, and cinnamon then add to the oat mixture.  spread mixture on a baking sheet.  cook for 30-40 minutes (stir occasionally) depending on how crispy you want it.  stir in dried fruits.  store in an air-tight container.

this was my first time using pure maple syrup.  um, hello!!  i now realize why buddy the elf considered it one of the 5 major food groups.

to decorate the containers, i wrapped a pretty ribbon around the middle and secured it with hot glue.  then i hot glued the label to that and the directions to the top of the lid.  waa-laa!  click here to get the labels.


out with the old, UP with the new!

every year, i love to decorate for Christmas.  it almost gives me a feeling that i am giving each room a facelift.  it tricks my senses into thinking that i get to redecorate without freaking the hubby out...  but, each year when it's time to take the decorations down, i lose that feeling and it's replaced with an overwhelming "blah" feeling all over again.  well, this year, i vow to keep those sad feelings at bay. 

when i was still teaching, one of my favorite things was to decorate my classroom for each season and/or holiday.  i got to do it in the privacy of my own classroom where my students could "oooh" and "ahhh" and my husband couldn't roll his eyes.  now with children of our own, i feel it is my motherly-obligation to decorate our home for each season/holiday.  right?  i mean, my mother did.  she would set her handpainted ceramic decor out for my brother and i to admire.  when the ceramic egg with the bow-for-a-handle made its appearance each year, that could only mean one thing...jellybeans!!!!  i LOVED helping and admiring the decorations.  truth be told, i still love it!  i have to catch my breath everytime i walk past the seasonal stuff in target!

with decorating for each season comes the #1 thing that makes my husband's gag reflex kick in...spending money.  since this is the first year that i have decided to contribute to my obligation, i have NO decorations on hand other than Christmas ones.  oh boy, how in the heck do i ask my hubby for money to decorate for (gag) valentine's day?  i can just hear his response now..."puhft, what?  nobody decorates for valentine's day.  we don't need more crap. blah, blah, blah."  okay, back to reality.  no WAY am i asking him.  surely i can scrounge around the house and pull somethings together.  right?  well, you betcha i did.  NOT the fanciest decorations but cute enough that my girls noticed them ALL when they woke from their nap the day i did it.  mission accomplished.  enjoy.
poofy tulle garland

paper doily garland and tulle tied garland (bought the doilies at target for $2)

a LOVE picture frame that has a pic of random children... (got it as a baby gift--first time used!)

a pearly-lilac vase with hot pink daisies (got the vase as a random wedding gift--first time being used! and had the daisies from making dirt pudding one year, haha)

red placemats with my go-to candles with tulle bows

a red pennant that i quickly sewed together--very cute (scrap material, pinking shears, ribbon)

be mine garland (made from scrapbook paper, muffin cups, and letter stickers), 2 heart pillows (target $ bins), glittery hearts in my apothecary jars ($ bins too)


merry christmas, happy new year!

sorry for the lack of posts lately...doesn't mean i have been busy creating new topics for the blog though.  hope to update my blog lots in the next few weeks with what's been going on. :)

the girls were sick over Christmas :( so i the fun and fabulous picture i had in my mind for Christmas morning did not go as i hoped.  the girls still had some fun digging in to some presents but not with the enthusiasm i wished for.  nonetheless, here are some cute pix i managed to get of our blessed day.  enjoy!

 Christmas eve watching scrooge

 santa's been here!  santa!!  i know him!

 vintage kitchen--this was my grandmother's and her twin sister's :)

 pillow pet from daddy--sadie is loving it!

 leni is sharing her kitchen with charlie :)

 sadie was up for ripping into some presents

 hmmm...what's in here?

 welcome home!

 leni is wondering if there is room for her since uncle aaron joined sadie...

 leni, checking out the view from inside

 having a snack at their new table from grammy and granpy

 granpy teaching them a lesson--i love how intently they are listening to him :)

 leni is obviously pleased with herself

 sadie and leni thought they needed to taste all of the wrapping paper...

 grammy, helping leni open the girls' gift from uncle aaron (noah's ark)

 leni, the carnivore

 leni, tasting the orange from her stocking

 sadie, tasting hers

 sadie with cousin mallory--sadie LOVED mallory's new light up shoes!

 sadie, chillaxing inside the playhouse

my poor, sick babies... :(