Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Quickie Workout and the Desire for Yoga

This morning I started to wake up around 4:30 and was NOT in a great mood.  I did not want to get out of my cozy bed.  I had taken a melatonin last night and was still groggy.  However, I changed my attitude and decided to do the Tone it Up Workout that was posted yesterday.

Working out was the fix I needed!  I immediately became in a better mood as I finished 4 rounds of the Tone it Up Quickie Workout (click to try it yourself!).  You do four total body exercises and can repeat the workout 4 times like I did.  I highly recommend giving this one a try!

I did the first round of the TIU Quickie Workout with 5 pound weights.  The 2nd & 3rd rounds I used 8 pound weights and then would switch to 5 pounds part way through an exercise if I was feeling too week to continue.  ON my final round I would switch between 5 to 3 pounds.  And boy was I feeling it!   This workout is the perfect workout when you are short on time!  My arms, legs, booty, and shoulders were all feeling nicely worked out. 

There was a pop-up video in the bottom of the Tone it Up workout called "Yoga Where You Least Expect It" and it was all about Tara Stiles, a girl from a small Midwestern town with bigger dreams.  She moved to New York, has been practicing and teaching yoga, and went back to her hometown to demonstrate the power of yoga.  After watching the video while I was cooking breakfast, I became calmer, I remembered how much I loved yoga, and I think I may have to do some yoga tonight after work!.

Here's the video with Tara Stiles if you are interested!

2 Yummy Breakfasts:

Eggs and turkey bacon.  This is our typical protein powered breakfast.  We cook 9 eggs.  Yes you heard right NINE!  We use 6 egg whites and 3 whole eggs, scrambled with a little milk.  We found the only way to cook turkey bacon is on the stove top.  Microwave turkey bacon is gag worthy.

Pumpkin & Walnut Steel Cut Oats.  Prepared for 2: Cook 2 servings of steel cut oats (regular plain oats are fine too). Near the end of the cooking, add in 1/4-1/2 cup of chopped walnuts (however nutty you want it), 1/2 C Pumpkin (canned) 1/2 t Allspice, 1/2 t Nutmeg, 1.5 t Cinnamon, and 1 T of Brown Sugar. You can add more or less of the spices and sugar pending on how flavorful and sweet you want your tasty pumpkin/walnut steel cut oats.

Question of the Morning:  Do you ever workout in the AM?  Why or why not?

Monday, November 26, 2012

Weekly Dinner Post: Nov. 26th-30th

Thanksgiving has passed us by and left me stuffed!  Now back to our regular food schedule…that includes a pizza every Sunday night J We ordered a delicious Brooklyn style pizza from Dominos.  It had Cheese, Bacon, Feta Cheese, Onions, Roasted Red Peppers, Spinach, White Sauce…YUM!
For our 4 meals this week, we plan on Fish with Parmesan-Garlic Asparagus, Chicken Fajitas, Creamy White Chicken Lasagna, and Soups with grilled cheese (a classic)!  We never plan more than four meals, because some nights we have leftovers or it’s Friday and we do something with friends or get takeout!

Meal 1 Fish w/ Parmesan-Garlic Asparagus
What you need: Tilapia or white fish, spices, asparagus bundle, olive oil, minced garlic, block of parmesan cheese.
This week we are cooking fish the easy way, simply with a buttered pan and spices.  One of our favorite spices is a real treat, it’s Penzey's Spice Northwoods. 
TO COOK FISH:  We simply take frozen fish & thaw it the quick way by putting it in the sink w/ water – WHILE it’s in the plastic PACKAGING!  After thawing the fish, heat a nonstick stovetop pan on medium heat.  Once warm, drop about ½ T of butter into the pan, and add your fish.  Sprinkle seasoning.  I typically cover both sides of my fish with enough seasoning that the entire fish is moderately sprinkled, but you can still see the white…you can always add more seasoning after you cook the fish.  If you don’t have the Penzey spice, I highly enjoy most of the salt free Mrs. Dash flavors.
How We Make Asparagus


Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Fresh Grated Parmesan 

Bring water to a boil on your stove top. In the meantime, wash and cut your asparagus into more bite sized pieces. Boil the asparagus for 2 minutes and drain. Put your asparagus into another bowl, drizzle on your olive oil, and toss. Toss in fresh grated garlic (or a few teaspoons of garlic that comes in the jar), and grate the heck out of a block of Parmesan. Serve!

Meal 2- Chicken Fajitas 


1 lb Chicken cut into bite sized pieces
Green Pepper – cut in long slices
Onion – cut in long slices
Whole Wheat Tortillas
Optional toppings
Sour Cream
Shredded Cheese 

Spices to marinate the chicken w/ for @ least 10 min:
Franks Red Hot (or other hot sauce)
Chili powder
Optional – Liquid smoke (1 teaspoon or less)

***Neal makes this, and has never opted to share his technique…I would say use 1 teaspoon of the cumin, Creole & chili powder with ½ - 1 Tablespoon of the hot sauce.

Marinate your chicken.  Heat a non-stick stovetop pan on medium heat and add the chicken.  Stir and cook the chicken 5-8 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through & not pink the middle.  Then add in your onion & green peppers slices.  Cook those for a few minutes or until the onion no longer looks stiff.  Serve with tortillas and your choice of optional toppings!  Enjoy! 

Meal 3 – Creamy White Chicken & Artichoke Lasagna

I use this recipe from Kraft foods. Typically I will add sautéed baby bella mushrooms, spinach and onion to mix, but it’s also great without those additions. We are also doing ½ of this recipe so we don’t have too many leftovers, thus eating white lasagna for 3-4 days!

Meal 4 – Soup & Grilled Cheese

What you need:  Warm tomato soup with a freshly toasted grilled cheese sandwich…it doesn’t get much better, and easier, than that!  If only I could eat tomatoes…okay so Neal will get to enjoy Tomato Soup.  I will have the chose between Hearty Lentil Vegetable and All Natural Black Bean…hmm which one to enjoy?

Grilled cheese tip: we put 1/2 T of butter into a pan that's heated on medium, let that melt a little and then add in our un-buttered bread & cheese sandwich ( 2 slices of bread and 1-2 slices of American cheese…pending on what you are feeling).  I let that cook a little until crispy, add another 1/2 T of butter, and crisp up the other side.

I hope you enjoy this weeks meals!  Let me know if you try any and enjoy them!

Friday, November 23, 2012

DIY Christmas Cards

DIY Holiday Cards

So easy, so beautiful, and perfect for giving! 

Learn how to make these pop-up Christmas tree cards.  They are very easy and quick to make!

You will need a Cricut machine with the Winter Frolic cartridge, 5 different cardboard papers, blank cards, a sewing machine, & silver thread.

First, cut out all of your trees in various sizes, using the same color for each size.  In mine, I used   4 ¼ in. khaki green, 4 in. plaid, 3 ¾ in. sparkling green, 3 ½ in. red, and 2 ½ in. sparkling dark green.

Then you stack your trees.  I used a clip to make sure they stayed together.

Next sew them with a basic stitch straight down the middle using your silver thread. I used a very short backstitch and a knot at the end.

Cut off the ends and ‘fluff’ up the tree. 
Send them to your friends and family for a great homemade Christmas card!

Do you make your own holiday cards?  Feel free to share!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Thanksgiving Week Meals

Thanksgiving week!!!

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday!  To me, it’s all about spending time with friends and family.  Baking together, eating together lounging together, celebrating all that has happened over the past year, being thankful for what you have, and giving to others!
Because it’s Thanksgiving, we are only planning two meals to make here at home since we will be sharing food and baking with family for most of the meals this week.  In lieu of all the dinner recipes I would normally give, I am going to post 2 dinner meals, 1 holiday breakfast, & 1 holiday dessert!
Dinner 1Fajitas
Posted here!
Dinner 2 – Chicken Veggie Noodle Soup


4 cups chicken broth
3 cups of frozen veggies (I used Normandy Blend)
1 t oregano
1 t basil
½ t pepper
1-2 t salt (to your taste)
1 ½ cups uncooked noodles
2 cups cooked chicken

In a saucepan combine broth, veggies, basil, oregano, & pepper. Boil and then reduce the heat to simmer, covered, for 5 minutes. Add in your noodles. Return to boiling, then reduce heat & simmer, covered, for 8 to 10 minutes or until noodles are tender but still firm and vegetables are just tender. Stir in chicken; heat through. This makes about 4 servings.
Pumpkin Cream Cheese Mix for Breakfast & Dessert

Ingredients Pumpkin Cream Cheese Mix

8oz Neufchatel cheese, softened
1 can pumpkin
1 t Cinnamon
½  t All Spice
½  t Nutmeg
½ t Ginger 
2 T Sugar (or more for something sweeter)

Combine spices in a bowl and then add in pumpkin and softened cheese.  Use 1/2 for the Breakfast and ½ for the Dessert.

***This mix will be good for 1 large pan of the Pumpkin Swirl Brownies and 8 Pumpkin Crescent Wrap-Ups.

Holiday Breakfast – Pumpkin Crescent Wrap-Ups
You will need 1 crescent packages. Half the Pumpkin Cream Cheese mix.  1 cup chopped pecans (set 1/4 cup aside), 2 T melted butter, 2 T brown sugar mixed together.
Unwrap the crescents, plop spoonfuls of the pumpkin cream cheese mix onto the crescents.  

You can do as I did and add 1/4 cup of chopped pecans on top of the pumpkin mixture and then wrap them. 

Top them with your sugary pecan mixture

Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes, or until golden.

Holiday Dessert – Pumpkin Swirl Brownies

You can follow the recipe on this post here
I hope you enjoy your Thanksgiving week!  Let me know if you try any of these tasty recipes!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Stress & the Power of Positive Thinking

Each day is only as good as you allow it to be.

Each day is only as good as you allow it to be..

Each day is only as good as you allow it to be...

And my day begins.

I don't normally talk about work in detail on this blog as I feel my work and my 'play' are two different aspects of my life.  However, what can I do when they are both affecting each other so strongly that I begin to lose faith in other aspects of my life?  When work sucks, my creativity sucks. When my creativity sucks, I can't finish projects such as jewelry making or Christmas gifts I have planned to create.  When I can't finish my 'fun' gifts or projects, I get upset at my failure.  When I am upset with my failure, I can't even focus enough to make a simple family meal. When I can't make this simple meal, I begrudge Neal into cooking.  When I begrudge my husband I feel like a bully.  When I feel like a bully, I become depressed with my behavior.  When I am depressed, my husband gets depressed.  When we are both depressed, even the dogs get depressed.  And they cycle continues.

Work demands can be stressful.  I understand that, my coworkers understand that, my boss understand that, my husband understands that, my family understands that, and even my dogs understand that.  However, what I sometimes don't understand is how to deal with this stress.

Two types of stress, eustress & distress.  We learned these both in school years ago and I was always under the impression that meeting deadlines at work should be eustress.  The stress that encourages you to keep going, to get things done, to solve problems, to be productive.  However, there is a fine line between eustress and distress, and I think I found myself teetering on that fine line.

How do you know when you are tettering between eustress & distress?  When on a call with 12 other people, you are talking about meeting a deadline and instead of saying you are about to upload these spredsheets, you say, "I am doing this as we speak, I am working on these spreadSHITS."  And you don't even notice what you called them until someone starts to just did that!

Again, so how do I deal with this stress?  If I talk about it with my husband or others, I tend to stress them out too.  If I bottle it up, I explode.  If I try to go to yoga and calm my mind, I can get  there for an hour or two, but then once I am done, the stress picks back up.  WHAT do I do?

Seeing as my work is the main cause of my stress, I decided that I would tell myself "Each day is only as good as you allow it to be."  I want each day to be better than good, I want it to be great!  So I am going to revert to completely positive thinking for a day.  I am going to try really hard to not be negative about the projects that keep coming my way.  I also quite enjoyed these two Forbes articles:  14 Things You Should Do at the Start of Every Work Day & 14 Things You Should Do at the End of Every Work Day.  I particularly related to the Start list at Don't be moody:

     Don’t be moody. You’ll want to pay attention to your mood and be aware of its effect on others. “First and last thing in the day is when emotional intelligence can have the greatest impact,” Shindler says. So if you’re not a “morning person,” try to suck it up and have a positive attitude when you arrive at the office. Grab a second or third cup of coffee, if that’s what it takes.

The End of the Day is a little harder, and I need to be more creative since I work from home.  The final two bullet points are "Leave your stress at the door" & "Go home".   Leaving stress at the door is metaphorical for me since my office door is my computer room where I also blog, work on my Etsy store, where I find many of my workouts , and where I connect with others through social media.  Going home is also metaphorical.  I need to not be a workaholic.  If I can't meet a deadline, then I can't meet a deadline.  So be it.  As my boss even said something along these lines to me, "It is what it is & what can you do when there is this amount of work?"

So I am ending this post the way it began, I want to think positive so I can be positive.

Each day is only as good as you allow it to be.

Each day is only as good as you allow it to be.

Each day is only as good as you allow it to be.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Workout Wednesday & Bad Memory

Neal nor I wanted to be the first one to take a shower this morning as we both laid in bed while our alarms kept ringing.  He assumed I would be up and at 'em as I had been doing consistently for the last week.  I said, "No, I just want to sleep today!"  How long did that last?  Only another 5 minutes until Walden's head stayed firmly planted to the right of my sluggish body on the bed, letting out little whimpers every 3-5 seconds.  Sasha sat like a princess at the bedroom door awaiting her butler (me) to open it for her, she too was whimpering every 3-5 seconds.  I suppose there is no sleep to be had. 

Instead of getting ready for the day by cleaning myself up, putting away drying dishes and starting breakfast, all a part of my usual routine, I worked out!  I opened up an email from the Tone it Up girls from their Holiday Hottie series I signed up for a week or so ago, and I began the Fine Toning Arm Routine.  After 10 minutes, I realized I was done with the AM workout (these were actually yesterday's workouts, but I worked almost 11 hours yesterday and decided not to work out...who can blame me). 

I really like the Fine Toning Arm Routine, it would be great paired with a run, but it's frickin' cold outside and I don't run in the cold & I especially don't run in the dark!  After all, it's not even 6 am!  So I decided I would do the PM workout they posted yesterday, the Goddess WorkoutThe Goddess Workout is sorta like a power yoga without all the asanas and meditative movements.  You power through the moves, though they aren't all linked together.  Somewhere between Warrior 2 Lunge and Warrior 3 Fine Toning on my second round, I remembered that I was planning on going to Hot Yoga tonight on a guest pass!  "Oiy Vey!  Why do I do this to myself?  My memory sucks!"  Those were the thoughts running through my mind as I pushed myself to complete the 2nd round of the TIU Goddess Workout.  Tonight will feel like a new day after I work, and I will push through my first ever HOT YOGA class!  Pray for me :)

By the way, did you see the list of November Workouts?  I try to update it every day so you can see the workout I am doing.  I try to include links or details so you too can try the workout!

Question of the day
Have you ever done Hot Yoga?  If so, any tips?

Monday, November 12, 2012

Menu Monday

Breath in, breath out, breath in, breath out....

I have to keep telling myself to breath slowly these days.  I have been swamped at the office and haven't had time to do much but work & stress about work.  It's not healthy, but I think the workload will decrease soon!

I have some easy meals planned for dinner this week so that I can still eat well and have time to work and workout!  By the way, November Workouts are found HERE!

Meal 1 - Warmed Spinach Salad with Shrimp
This meal is quick and tasty!  Warm up some shrimp with a 1/2 T butter and some creole seasoning in a pan on medium heat in a large pan.  In a small pan,  toast up 1/8th of a cup or so of almonds.  In the shrimp pan, add 1/2 a container of chopped roasted red peppers.  Once those were warmed, add in 4 heaping handfuls of spinach, your toasted almonds, and about 1/4 a cup of freshly shredded Parmesan.  Cook until wilted and top w/ your toasted almonds!

Meal 2 - Beef Stir Fry
All you need is the meat of your choice (we chose beef), frozen veggies, and your favorite sauce!  Cook the meat on a stove top over medium heat, add 2 cups of frozen veggies per every 4 ounces of meat, and then coat with your desired amount of sauce!  We normally mix some teriyaki, sriracha, and soy sauce.

Meal 3 - White Chicken Chili
We follow this Bush's White Chicken Chili recipe.  We add salsa to flavor while we cook and then since I am not supposed to eat tomatoes, I normally add some sour cream to mine so my throat doesn't hurt ad badly!

Meal 4 - Chicken Divan
This recipe is courtesy of Neal's mother (we cut it in 1/2 so we don't have a ton of leftovers)
1 10oz package of frozen broccoli
2 chicken breasts cut in to bite sized pieces
1/2 cup toasted bread crumbs (or crackers)
1/2 T butter
1 can of cream of chicken soup
1/2 cup mayo
1/2 tsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp curry powder
1/4 cup shredded sharp cheese
Use the butter to spread a layer on an 8x8 baking pan.  Layer the broccoli & chicken.  Pour the sauce over this and top with the bread crumbs.  Bake for 25-30 min at 350 degrees.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

November Workouts

November 1-10th
  • 1st, Thursday: Tone it Up 'Spooktacular Workout'  I didn't do the runs, and I did all the moves 3 times through
  • 2nd, Friday: off
  • 3rd, Saturday:  Workout with Neal, he is now doing 'Blood & Guts' designed by Dorian Yates and we did the Chest & Bicep Workout
    • 10 Minute treadmill warm-up
    • Decline Dumbbell Press - I did 12 reps at 20 lbs., 25 lbs. and 30 lbs.
    • Incline Dumbbell Press - I did 12 reps at 25 lbs. and then 6 reps at 30 lbs.
    • Flat Bench Dumbbell Flyer - I did 12 reps at 17.5 lbs. and 9 reps at 22.5 lbs.
    • Dumbbell Concentration Curls - I did 10 reps at 15 lbs. and then 7 reps at 20 lbs. with 3 negatives
    • Barbell Curls - I did 10 reps at 40lbs. and then 2 negatives
      • This workout was fast and really got my blood pumping.  I know most of you would see this as a "man's only" workout due to the trainer and the title, but every now and then I enjoy doing something more weight heavy so I can get my muscles moving differently and be able to enjoy a workout with Neal!
  • 4th, Sunday:  Walking all around Nashville for the Titan's vs. Bears Game!
  • 5th, Monday:  off
  • 6th, Tuesday: off - I had the intention to workout...then we noticed Walden's eye was super red, so we took him to the Vet and found his eye was poked/scratched...after that we watched the election news and made dinner.
  • 7th, Wednesday:  I plan on doing yesterday's Tone it Up Malibooty Workout 3 times through as well as their suggested follow up of 3 sets of 12 pushups and 3 sets of 20 crunches!  Can't wait for the work day to be over to fit this in!
  • 8th, Thursday:  off
  • 9th, Friday:  off
  • 10th, Saturday: off

November 10th - 17th

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Menu Monday 11.5-11.9

Ooops!  The weekend caught the best of me and I didn't do any meal planning until this morning as Neal and I munched on some delicious Pumpkin Wrap-ups.  (Recipe to come!)

This was a busy weekend for Neal and myself!  On Friday, we both were exhausted from an extra long work week where I put in 47 hours and Neal put in near 55!  We decided it was the perfect night for beer and Mexican food!  After our dinner, we passed out from exhaustion.  It's weeks like that where I am thankful that we don't yet have someone little to take care of, because honestly, I don't know how moms do it sometimes!

On Saturday, I spent the majority of my morning crafting beautiful jewelery for my Etsy store, Lively Happenings:

In the mid afternoon, before our super hard workout, we dropped Walden off for a 2 night stay at dog daycare so he wouldn't be tempted to eat our couch while we were out.  :)  He's adorable that way!  Sasha, on the other hand, got to enjoy 2 nights of loving from just Mom & Dad!

The remainder of Saturday was spent at Neal's company's appreciation dinner.  I forgot to take pictures, but we looked good!  We stayed out a little later than I had planned, but thankfully daylight savings helped us out, because we had an even bigger day on Sunday....Nashville for a Titans game!!!

My first NFL game was a BUST! Neal had won tickets to the Titans vs the Bears game and we were SO excited to get to go. We had amazing seats! Now if only the Titan's had been amazing...the final score was 51-20 with the Bears just kicking out butts. It was quite sad. Neal's friends also came up for the game, so we left around half time... :( Driving home in the dark and experiencing a disappointing first NFL game did not make for an enjoyable 3 hour drive back home.

However, we did have fun in between driving and a disappointing game.  We got some cute pictures as well!

There was a rainbow in the sky that I first saw through Neal's glasses so I got my 'artistic angle'.

 This was where our seats zooming in required!

And us in the seats!  So excited!
 Loved this Nashville skyline & a yacht on the water.  It couldn't get much better than that!

Looks like the Batman building is coming out of his head!

Since Walden was in daycare until Monday, Sasha got lots of loving when we came home, and she even slept at the foot of the bed almost all night!

On Monday morning, instead of getting our meal plan together & writing the Menu Monday blog post, I took a few hours to update my Etsy site, Lively Happenings, and celebrate that the store had been opened for a full month!  I am excited to say that I have sold over 15 items on and off the Etsy site!  Now I am hoping for an even better 2nd month!  Only time can tell!

Now finally for the food that I promise comes with Menu Monday.

Meal 1 - Chicken Pesto-Alfredo Pasta
This meal can be prepared various ways.  We took the easiest way possible.  First we boiled water for the pasta, we had linguine, and we cut up 2lbs of chicken in to bite sized pieces and cooked them over medium heat on the stove with some spices.  Once the chicken was cooked, I cut up roasted red peppers and grabbed 2 large handfuls of spinach to heat up & wilt with the chicken on low heat.  Once the spinach was wilted, I added 1/2 a jar of pesto (4 oz), and a jar of Alfredo.  No homemade sauce this week, we wanted to make this meal very simple as were were both still exhausted from our long day on Sunday!  In the oven I warmed 2 slices of sourdough bread with butter & garlic salt at 350 degrees for 5 minutes.  Once the pasta had cooked, I tossed it into my chicken & sauce mix and we enjoyed!

Meal 2 - Pork Loin with Beans & Rice
Neal went grocery shopping yesterday and picked up a pork loin which we will cook in the oven according to package directions.  I am cooking up some wild rice on the stove top and am getting black or red beans to toss into the rice. 

Meal 3 - Vegetable Chowder
I simply love a good broccoli & cheddar soup.  I have had this recipe pinned to my Pinterest board "Scrumptious Foods" for at least a year.  It's finally time to try it out!

Meal 4 - Beef Tacos
Neal told me this morning to "But a taco kit" and we will have that one night.  Honestly, I am not sure I know what a 'taco kit' is...but he explained it was a box with sauces, shells, and seasonings.  So I said, "Oh, okay, now I just need to buy the lean beef and lettuce."  To which he responded, "Yea, you just need to buy the beef."  I don't think he cares so much about the lettuce.  :)

Question of the day - "Taco Kit"...  Is this a common meal in your house?  If so, do you have an recommendations?