community & the liebster

When you start a blog or even just start reading blogs, you become part of a huge community. This is one of the reasons why I love blogging. You make friends and support each other. Specifically, the healthy living (including food!) bloggers are awesome influences. They’re so positive and encouraging. You can read about some of their influence on me here.

About a month ago I received a comment from Nicole at Apples & Arteries informing me that she had given me a Liebster Award!

I had no idea what she was talking about so I had to google it. I found out that it’s just a sweet way to let a new blogger know how great they are! A little – I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine. Since the blogging community has done a lot for me up until this point I thought I should spread the love too!

To quote Nicole:
The rules of this award state that you link your blog back to the person who gave it to you and you chose 5 other people with less than 200 followers to receive the award.  You let them know you have given them the award by commenting on their blog.

The winners… in no particular order ARE:

🙂

elisariva – Elisa mainly blogs about her workouts and training for upcoming races. She inspires me to get off my butt and do something. That ‘something’ might not be the 3000 meters she swam yesterday morning but maybe I’ll clean the whole house or go for a training run!

Cast Light – Kathie writes about how to ‘give your best to others’. If you’re in a slump and need a little boost, she’s your gal. A great read if you’re striving to be a positive person.

My Fascinating Life – Melinda has two kids and still finds time to eat healthy and exercise! She gives a good glimpse into her daily life which is helpful for people like me who are visual learners.

EatDrinkBreatheSweat – Jessica is another healthy living blogger. She is currently in training for a marathon! She gives great insights on her thoughts about running. It’s nice to know that other people have similar issues and successes!

food4theheart – Lauren is a college student who eats healthy and exercises. Very impressive! I especially like her posts on food and her daily eats.

Now I’m not sure if all of these bloggers have under 200 followers but I know they’re all pretty new like me!

Thank you to Nicole for spreading the love! She is a food blogger with a giant love for dogs too. 🙂

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Today I also have to mention that it’s my husband’s birthday.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY AL! You’re my best bud.

Al with Roary when she was a little puppy. 🙂

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yummy: guacamole

It is sad to say that I am the only avocado lover in the house. This means that the only time I get to devour one is at lunch, usually in the form of guacamole.

Last week they were on super sale so I picked up two.

I usually just wing it with simple ingredients and taste test as I go. Here’s what I used for this batch:

  • 1 avocado
  • 1/4 of a red onion
  • leftover orange bell pepper
  • salt
  • cilantro
  • lime

Normally I don’t use bell pepper but my sister had some leftover in the fridge and I was scared that it was going to go bad before she ate it. 🙂

First I chopped up the onion into tiny pieces. Please make sure they are SMALL pieces! Often times I’m so excited to be eating guacamole that I chop up the onions into larger chunks only to painfully choke them down later when they’re burning my mouth. No good.

Then I chopped up the bell pepper. I could taste them in the guacamole but they didn’t overpower anything so I might start adding them regularly to my recipe. Usually when I make this, I eat the whole thing and lots of chips, so any added veggie is a nice bonus.

Next I mashed up the avocado.

Mixed in the onion and bell pepper then shook in some salt.

I added in the dried cilantro but if you’re fancy (unlike me), you could use fresh. Oo la la.

Finally I squeezed in the ‘fresh’ lime juice and mixed it all together.

Pour a giant bowl of chips and dig in! A tasty, healthy snack… or lunch.

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NOTE: My sister just read this post to proofread it and said, ‘Now that just makes me hungry.’

And I responded with, ‘But you don’t like guacamole!’

To which she said, ‘No, but the chips!’

Nice, guacamole hater.

Do you have a favorite food that everyone else seems to hate yet you love it with all your heart? Mushrooms is another one for me!

flowers & fighting

Flowers get me so excited about spring. I love watching everything grow. Even my husband has noticed and comments daily on some bulbs that have randomly popped up in our backyard, ‘I can’t believe how fast they’re growing!’.

Like January 1st when I started this blog, the springtime is another fresh, new beginning. So great.

Unfortunately for many of us, new growth outdoors comes with sinus pain, sneezing, and lots of tissues. Bah, humbug.

I’ve had four years of allergy shots so you’d think I’d be immune to pollen and whatnot but with this crazy-warm winter and predictions of ‘the worst allergy season yet’, this season is already proving that I’m not.

On Saturday morning I woke up with a sore throat. Then on Sunday it was much worse. I battled the dang sore throat as well as major aches all day long while sulking on the couch.

Not until today did I realize that this sickness was from allergies and not the flu. My car was covered in pollen this morning and it sits in a carport! I also witnessed a pollen tornado in the middle of road. Yikes.

I’ve got to fight these allergies hard because I’m going to be pretty disappointed if I’m sick for the 10k next weekend. I must run like the wind!! I don’t think I’d be able to do that with a throbbing sinus headache.

Since I’m sure some of you are also struggling, I thought I’d tell you what I’ve been doing to get over this thing quick!

1. Stay Inside
I’m attempting to stay inside and away from the pollen as much as I can. I don’t think my old house has a great filtering system so who knows if staying inside is helping but at least I’m sitting near my plug-in air filter. If you do have to head out, the article linked in the beginning of this post mentions not going outside until the afternoon when the pollen has settled.

Right outside my kitchen window I have these gorgeous azaleas that taunt me. Every time I open the door (to the right of them) to let the dogs out, I get a twinge in my sinus headache and I run back inside defeated.

2. Liquids
I don’t know how many times I’ve heard from my mom, ‘Drink more water!’ when I’m sick. So per her instructions, I am upping the liquids to flush out any bad stuff that I can.

3. Tea
The past couple days I’ve been drinking a variety pack of teas from Traditional Medicinals called Seasonal Herb. I don’t know if it’s all in my head but I’ve gotta tell you that i think these teas work better than anything else for relief! The pain goes away almost instantly. It comes back after a while but it’s nice for a time.

4. Fruits and Veggies
I’ve been slacking in the veggie and fruit department lately so I blame myself for the pollen getting to me. If I was eating lots of them, maybe I wouldn’t have gotten sick! I’ve fixed that mistake and am now getting in all those micronutrients to help me heal faster.

5. Saline Flush
Sometimes you’ve just gotta do it. No mater how gross you (I) think it is. Today I’ve been using the Simply Saline Mist but you can always go big and get a Neti Pot to get all that pollen out of your nose. Yum.

6. Drugs
If all else fails or I need more help, I’ll take some allergy medicine and pain killers. I’d rather not but goodness is a sinus headache uncomfortable or what?!

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I just realized that 3 out of the 6 things that I listed should be done on a regular basis! I regularly exercise but that isn’t enough when taking care of your body. Gotta keep up those good habits! #mmm

So this morning I didn’t want to get out of bed. I was afraid that I was even more sick. Much to my surprise the aches were gone and the sore throat was better! My sinuses are still bothering me but I’m going to keep up my regime until I’m well again (but stick with the water, tea, fruits, and veggies as I should).

Roary seems to be the only person/animal in the household that isn’t affected by the pollen… yet! Lucky duck.

Do you have any tips or tricks for getting over allergies or a cold? Any natural remedies?

leaping bunny

As you all know, I love animals.

I mean, how can you not love this face?

But I don’t just love dogs, I like all animals. Well I don’t enjoy bugs and spiders but I’m wimpy so yeah.

A couple months ago Caitlin from Healthy Tipping Point wrote a post on where to find a list of cruelty-free household and beauty products. (I can’t find the post again to save my life but I know it was her.) Here’s an article on animals and how they’re used for the testing of certain products if you don’t know what I’m talking about. Depresssssing.

It got me thinking. If I love animals so much why don’t I help them any way that I can? I should support the companies that support the animals.

The website is called LeapingBunning.org. Here’s a little blurb from the site to help you understand the coalition’s concept:

‘By 1996, ‘cruelty-free’ shopping had become popular, but it was also confusing, sometimes misleading, and ultimately frustrating. Companies had begun designing their own bunny logos, abiding by their own definition of ‘cruelty-free’ or ‘animal friendly’ without the participation of animal protection groups.

In response, eight national animal protection groups banded together to form the Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics (CCIC). The CCIC promotes a single comprehensive standard and an internationally recognized Leaping Bunny Logo. We are working with companies to help make shopping for animal-friendly products easier and more trustworthy.’ source.

After reading about the company, I didn’t go out and search for the brands listed but I DID look for the little bunny logo on the back of products. You can find the logo at the top of the website.

Target has a great selection of organic and cruelty-free products if you’re interested in trying some out.

You can kind of see the bunny logo on the turquoise bottle above. Once you know what it looks like, it’s easy to spot when browsing.

I thought I’d tell you a little about what I’ve used and what I plan on using.

Recently I ran out of shampoo so I decided on this new line of hair care products from Burt’s Bees. I like it so far. It has a nice smell – not too strong, not too weak and it cleans well. The conditioner is thick which I haven’t seen much in natural haircare products (I’ve found that they’re usually runny). Another plus is that it’s a little cheaper than the regular Burt’s Bees brand! There’s also a variety of smells which is fun. I like to change it up once in a while.

Jason’s is what I use for body wash – it lathers great and has a nice, strong smell. The bottle is giant so I’ve had it for a while and I have no complaints so far.

And lastly for my face, I currently use a Burt’s Bees face wash. I’ve used many of their face products and had good results.

I think the only other cruelty-free brand that I’ve tried is Yes To. I’ve used the shampoo, conditioner, and make-up remover. Like Burt’s Bees, it has a huge variety of products which is great.

As I was thinking about what to write for this post I thought to myself, ‘How the heck is someone going to remember all these products?’. No one’s going to want to write them down before shopping! Then, I saw a link at the bottom of the website for a Cruelty-free App. Perfect! I downloaded it right away and now I’m set (and you can be too)! Whenever I head to the store I can just browse the isles and see if the companies are listed on my phone. Easy Peasy.

In regards to makeup, deodorant, toothpaste, cleaning products, and anything else I might be missing, I haven’t converted to the cruelty-free products yet. BUT now that I found that great app I plan on using it regularly and replacing my old products whenever something runs out.

Sure I’m just one person and I might step on a few toes with this post but oh well! These are my thoughts and I’m stickin’ to them. 🙂 I’m glad that I’m able to help support these great companies in hopes that one day animal testing will be no more. No act of kindness is too small!

Do you have any cruelty-free products in your arsenal?

yummy: turmeric brown rice con pollo

Last night I was supposed to make ‘Saffron Quinoa con Pollo’ but I changed up the ingredients a bit. Do you know how expensive saffron is?? I didn’t until I found it at the grocery store. I also thought I had quinoa in the cupboard but I didn’t so that’s where my rice substitute came in. No biggy.

Because of the saffron, I stood there in the grocery isle having a mental battle – Do I spend that amount of money on tiny little flecks? Is there a substitute?? I searched on my phone for an answer and turmeric came up. I already had turmeric so I was good to go.

I was on a roll with my photography for this dish so I have a few more than normal. Enjoy. 🙂

The recipe comes from this book by Robin Asbell. Super random but I found it in a store in Napa Valley on a wine tasting trip.

I was originally interested in buying the book because of the pretty colors and crisp design. I bought it a few years ago while I was still in the graphic design biz and liking it. I was happy to find that after trying a couple of dishes the recipes were good too. An added bonus.

The recipe called for green peas or edamame so I went for the edamame. But for added veggies I would suggest putting both in the dish!

Oh wait. One more substitute. I also used canned artichokes instead of fresh ones to save a lot of money. Unlike the fresh artichokes that the recipe calls for, I added the canned artichokes at the end of the cooking so they wouldn’t get really mushy. It worked out well.

Funny story. I had to ‘ungift’ the dutch oven from my sister because I realized that I needed it for this dish. Good thing she hasn’t moved out yet or I would have be screwed!

Chicken still doesn’t interest me much (that’s a-WHOLE-nother post) but I don’t think the dish would be much without the one of two main ingredients. Ha.

Taking Shape. Such great colors!

Look at that new oven. Preeeetty. It was awesome to only have to cook the dish for a few minutes on the stove before letting it finish up for 45 minutes in the oven. It gave me time to wrap up laundry and tidy up. Multi-tasking at it’s finest.

We did not play Banagrams last night but it now lives on the dining room table… just in case. 🙂

It was a good, well-balanced meal but a little bland which was probably my fault! From the taste of the supposed Spanish dish, I’m pretty sure turmeric isn’t similar to saffron BUT it was a good experiment. I do believe I need to shell out the $12 for the saffron and remake the dish. If you try this dish, make sure you quadruple the amount of turmeric. When I read about substituting, that’s what was suggested.

Have you used saffron in your cooking before? Please tell me that it’s worth it!

PS: Find the face!

refreshing the fireplace

I took the following photo of our den when we were first house hunting. Notice the gold fireplace, brown brick, paneled brown walls, and wood grain (?) tiled brown floor. 1970 as I live and breathe.

We’ll be tackling this room project by project. Course it’ll probably be sporadic since I already went from the master bathroom window to the den but it’ll all get done in time! Shall we begin?

I decided to start on the easiest thing first which was the fireplace cover. I like gold in jewelry form but definitely not on my fireplace.

To keep the project ‘green’ I painted the existing cover instead of buying a brand new one. I used this paint from Lowe’s that withstands high heat. We have black fireplace accessories so that’s the color I went with to tie it all together.

To start I took the cover outside and detached the doors from the frame.

Then, per the instructions on the can, I sanded any rough spots with a fine sandpaper first.

I used this ugly blanket because I didn’t want to get the drop cloth, a material that is supposed to be used to catch paint drippings, dirty. My husband was confused and you probably are too.

The next step was cleaning off all the dirt and debris. I used my homemade all-purpose cleaner which worked fine.

I then started on the spray painting. After the first coat of paint, I had the great idea of putting some of those garden stones in the background of the next photo underneath the blanket to elevate the cover. It saved me some time since I was able to spray paint the sides as well as the front. I did the same thing with the doors using flower pots that I have yet to plant anything in.

I protected the glass on the doors with paper I had laying around and painter’s tape.

The front side of the doors were a little tricky because of the curved edges. I cut up small slivers of the tape and curved them along the gold.

I did two coats of paint and finished off the can. I think I’ll need to add one more coat to smooth out the look. It’s a little blotchy due to my spraying ability the windy conditions. Joking aside, it was a bit windy so I should have moved my project to the carport to help make the spay more consistent. Alas, I did not.

If you can tell from the next photo, the ‘black’ of the fireplace cover is much different than the ‘black’ of the fireplace accessories. I’m not sure if it’s because of the matte finish or what. When I head back to Lowe’s for another paint can I might see if there are any other options that would help with this issue. Maybe I need a glossier finish.

Next it’s on to all those brown elements. We’ve got a lot of painting to do!!

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Oh and this lady is still around! She’s still screaming up a storm when we leave the house but I THINK she’s getting better. She wags her tail once in a while and is getting used to us and our routine. Pretty darn cute.

That’s a cat bell collar she’s got on, it really helps to know where she is! Ha.

She decided that since none of the blankets were readily available, a pillow perch would have to do. Five minutes later she screamed because she wanted the Snuggie. I gave in to shut her up. 🙂

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Have you painted a fireplace before? What color did you use?? I’m thinking white for ours.

a passion for puzzles

You got a little worried that I wasn’t going to blog on Thursday didn’t ya? Well here’s Thursday’s post… on Sunday.

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Stemming from my post from Monday,  I decided to revive little healthy habit that I’ve always had.

Puzzles.

With some challenge and creativity they help keep the mind sharp and depending on what kind you do, you can also get good one-on-one time with family and friends.

I love puzzles and I always have. Not just jigsaw puzzles like the world map that I immortalized in smelly puzzle glue (in elementary school, don’t worry) but puzzles in any form whether it be in board games, sudoku, crosswords, etc.

Lately I’ve been playing Scrabble and Bananagrams with my family. So FUN. The TV is off, we’re learning a bit, and actually having conversation. My husband and I don’t chat much while watching TV, so taking a break from it to get competitive and chat is great.

my sister – winning as always.

On the weekends when we’re watching TV and it’s movie time I often push for a documentary. Again for the education! Maybe it’s my ‘old’ age but I haven’t been feeling other genres for a while. I do need to get crackin’ on the award winners though.

So this Friday when I was fighting for a documentary I kept our recent board game habit in mind. I tortured my husband by making him sit through an hour and twenty minutes of a Scrabble documentary called Word Wars. I know what you’re thinking – ‘Poor husband!’ BUT I frequently asked him if he wanted to watch something else and he said ‘no’ even with a pretty bored look on his face. He stuck it out until the end! Good man.

If you’re curious and dorky like me, anagrams, tons of overlapping, and seven letter words are the way to win if you want to be a Scrabble national champion. They average 400-500 points per game! Very impressive. If I break 100 it’s a tolerable game for me!

The point of this random post? I thought I’d show you how I’m making progress in sticking to my Moments, Mondays, and Mornings  plan.

There are sooooo many different things you can do to make your life a healthy one. This is just another example!

Do you have a healthy habit that you’ve stuck with for a while?