Monday, November 28, 2011

On a Health Mission

As some may know, John and I are on a health/weight loss mission right now. We have just let it add up over time and decided that it is the time to stop and get to where we need to be. I have been working out *almost* every morning during the week with two gals and we also have been trying to follow a much more limited diet.

The basics of the diet we are following are:

Whole Grain Bread and Egg OR
Milk and Cereal (we limit the portion)

Small Protein Serving (3-4 oz or less)

Protein Serving
1 serving of a Healthy Starch (think beans, sweet potatoes etc)
Salad & Veggies
1 oz serving of cheese (usually we slice cheddar, is delish)

No butter, sour cream, etc. Limit Oil as much as possible.
Limit Sugar as much as possible. We have tried some fat free sugar free salad dressing.
2 fruits a day. We are primarily using fruits with breakfast or a snack and making sorbet for a dessert.
Unlimited veggies (except for really starchy/sweet veggies like potatoes, corn etc)
1 serving of Fat free popcorn is okay for a snack.

The same time we started this we also began an Eat Out Fast, which I have mentioned.

For exercise I am doing Jillian Michael's 30 Day Shred, and just recently her 6 week 6 pack.

It has been a month so far-- We have made exceptions and rules, but generally we have made a lot of progress. We feel good, enjoy what we are eating and are excited to keep pushing on.

However -- I write this post today to help us (really me) re-energize my goals after out little thanksgiving hiatus. It did slow us down a little and I can tell we are slipping back into some not so great habits.

This is my "motivation board" I made in our Family Home Evening last week. I don't have a picture of John's, but his said "Run and not be weary, walk and not be faint" and had pictures of water, veggies, and some of his favorite sports icons. They are hanging on our fridges and reminders of what we want to achieve.

Here's to upward and onward in our health mission!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

The Turkey Dance - A Family Tradition Continues

My family has an awesome tradition for thanksgiving-- each year the turkey is featured in a song a dance. My dad has done this my entire life... as this is our first thanksgiving away from family and John is now the turkey man, he of course had to continue in the legacy. For your viewing pleasure, the respective turkey dances were captured this year.

Here is my dad's turkey dance:

Here is the inaugural McElderry turkey dance:

What fun traditions did you participate in this Thanksgiving?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thanks Wikipedia.

Wikipedia (Wikimedia foundation) is having their giving campaign right now. I normally just click ignore to these types of things, but decided to give a little bit this year. I use wikipedia every day and think that knowledge sharing and open access is really important.

Back in the day at school I wrote an extensive paper on Open Learning, studying programs like MIT's Open Course Ware and other open learning programs and the impact they can have on development and learning across the world. While people don't come away with a paper diploma after taking these courses, it is an incredible way to share knowledge. The example that really struck me is a medical school trying to be established in a third world country. What a great resource for building curriculum and training doctors (and many other professions).

I guess the point is, I am a big advocate of social learning and collaboration, and think that Wikimedia's mission to "Imagine a world in which every single human being can freely share in the sum of all knowledge" is really admirable.

Consider donating if you have the resources or time and also believe in this mission.

Support Wikipedia

Over and Out. Back to our normal broadcasting.

new techie toys: home appliances

So remember when I had that no-good-very-rotten-bad-day?

Well that same week both my blender and vacuum died. As in... would not work at all anymore and required replacement.

And with all bad news... must come some good news. We replaced both with nicer models and are VERY Happy.

We got this fancy Dyson DC-24 (a splurge, we know!) and are loving it. John is determined to vacuum every day until "we get the cat hair under control", ie we don't have to empty the whole cartridge every time we use it. Our first run we filled it for each room in the apartment... strong vacuum or disgusting apartment? You decide.

We stumbled upon a Health Master at Kohls for a great price and snatched it up. It is similar to a vitamix in that it can do more sophisticated blending (nut butters, can boil soups, make ice cream and sorbet). We have been making sorbet virtually every other day with this-- it is so tasty. Also having creamier soups, and hoping to try on hummus soon.

What kitchen or home appliances can you not live without?

P.S. does this post put me in the league with folks who are jazzed about vacuum cleaners for Christmas? YIKES. Adulthood is here. I mean I didn't even see the midnight premiere of breaking dawn!! Life is virtually over*.

*cue sarcasm.

The Men in My Life

These are some fun shots we had taken while in Cancun. I just love the men in my life (my dad and my hubby). I have also loved watching as their relationship has grown since we got married.

My dad always wanted a son. In fact-- he was in total denial when they were picking out girl names when my mom was pregnant with me. He thought surely somehow it would be a boy. If you talk to him now though, he loves being a "ladies man" having three daughters and wouldn't trade it for the world.

He told me a story a few years ago that always makes me laugh. He took a colleague and his two teenage sons out on our boat one day. He said the boys were trying to compete with each other doing all kinds of crazy tricks on the boat and while skiing... it was nuts and he just was in awe of what it must have been like to have sons (he said he couldn't handle it quite frankly!) He said that day that he was definitely supposed to have daughters.

But now that John is in the family, my dad calls all the time to just talk to him. He wants them to go on Man trips together and feels like he has a backup in the chaos that is a house full of women.

I love these two men and am grateful for their example of kindness and love in my life.

Mackinac Island - October 2011

October was a beautiful month. It was unseasonably warm in Michigan, so the second weekend of October we drove up to Mackinac Island. We took a scenic route and drove up the eastern coast... it was stunning.

Such a fun and beautiful drive. I love drives like this. John and I listen to fun music and are completely carefree. This is when we have some of our best conversation.

We camped at Cheboygan state park, you could see Lake Huron from our campsite! It is a really nice park and had very few campers so it was really peaceful too.

Our favorite activity of the trip definitely was riding a tandem bike around the island. We did all of the classic activities (toured the Grand hotel, ate too much fudge, rode in a horse drawn carriage), but nothing was like this bike ride. The views were spectacular and we laughed pretty much the whole way trying to get the knack of a tandem bike.

Michigan is a really stunning state. I love living here-- I am frequently reminded of the wonder of creation seeing such beautiful places so close to home. Here are a few more of my favorites from our trip:

Natural Arch Rock

On the porch of the Grand Hotel. We were there during a Somewhere in Time Reunion. So much fun!

(Mackinac Bridge which connects upper and lower peninsulas of Michigan)

Cancun Trip: Fun Day at Xel Ha

Commence the Cancun trip posts! The same day we went to Tulum, we headed over to Xel-Ha for an afternoon of fun. It is a somewhat enclosed lagoon where the water is a lot calmer and is fun to swim in. We did cliff diving, snorkeled, ate at many of the yummy buffets, and mostly just relaxed. Here are some of my faves:

Does this look like paradise or what? I wish we could have been there longer so I could have enjoyed a nap in a hammock.

Many of the pictures from our trip are courtesy of this guy:

When I was shopping at wally world (wal mart) for some disposable cameras, I found this and it was around $65 (what a deal!) . Takes fairly good pictures and was a ton of fun to have on the trip. We also took some hilarious videos which I may share pending permission from the embarrassed parties (or maybe I share anyway?) lol.

Anyway, we had a great day at Xel-Ha and would recommend it to folks going to Cancun.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Menu Monday

In celebration of eating at home more and my attempts at meal planning, I want to start a new series called "Menu Monday". I can make no promises of frequency, though I hope to post weekly. Would like to include what we ate the previous week and what we plan to eat this week, also hoping for lots of comments on what you are eating lately and any recipe ideas you recommend. Without further ado...

Here is what we ate Last week...

Monday: Pumpkin Soup inspired by this, was more like this but substituting skim milk for cream.

Tuesday: Turkey & Veggie Tacos. (ground turkey w/ taco seasoning, fajita style veggies, whole wheat tortillas, homemade salsa).

Wednesday: FFYS (Fend for yourself). I had a work dinner and John... well he fended for himself.

Thursday: Apple Pear Chicken (something like this with no mashed taters) & Brussel Sprouts

Friday: Pita Pizza & Salad (Whole Wheat Pitas + Tomato Sauce + Toppings. My fave toppings are onion, mushroom, spinach and feta cheese!)

Saturday: Date Night Dinner at Red Robin (so about that diet we are on...)

Sunday: Chicken/Veggie Curry w/ jasmine rice and Dal (lentils). I am not much of a recipe person... I pretty much throw stuff that sounds good together and season until it tastes right. This curry included carrots, zuchinni, squash, a potato, ginger, jalapeno, and garlic cooked with chicken stock, seasoned with curry, cumin, cinnamon, nutmeg and thickened with cornstarch/cold water because it was too runny. Was one of the better curries I have made to date.

Week Accomplishments:
- Cooked and ATE two new veggies. Brusell Sprouts and Cauliflower.
- Ate Veggie/Turkey Tacos without cheese or sourcream. With my yummy homemade canned salsa, some cilantro and hot sauce... they are just fine on their own!
- Ordered sweet potato fries and broccoli as sides at red robin. And only ate until we were full. Still a splurge but better than usual!

Menu Plan for This Week:

Monday: Stir Fry Veggies + Potstickers. Inspired by our good friends Abe & Erin who have blessed me with a love of potstickers (or Jiaozi). Eat with Jiaozi Sauce (soy sauce + rice vinegar combo).

Tuesday: Chicken w/ Mushrooms & Zucchini. Love this recipe, got the idea from my friend Beth!

Wednesday: Salads + Pesto Ravioli (quick and easy dinner night, frozen ravioli + pre-made pesto sauce).

Thursday: TURKEY DAY! John is in charge of the bird. I am doing mashed potatoes, my favorite root veggie roast (close to this), pomegranate cranberry sauce, and a pumpkin chocolate cheesecake (going to try this cheesecake recipe and add chocolate chips maybe? not sure yet). We are doing with a progressive Turkey Day with some friends so will have all the other classics too.

Friday: FFYS (Fend for Yourself) with Leftovers.

Saturday: Turkey Tettrazini (lightened up a little... yowza on all that cream cheese and bacon)

Sunday: Turkey Dumplings (like my chicken ones, just like my momma's). And great for a leftover bone.

What are you eating this week? Any recommendations on something yummy you have had lately?

"Eating Out" Fast

John and I have been on an eat out fast for about a month or two now. We are trying to change our attitudes about eating out and reduce how often we eat out (health + cost implications). It has been really good for us and has been enjoyable.

I spent the last year travelling full time and ate out pretty much every meal Mon-Thursday, and then was so exhausted over the weekend I wanted to do anything but cook (and you know, excercise lol). So we ate out a lot over the weekend too. This led to a few more pounds for both of us... being in the red with our food budget each month... and the general expectation that food should be instantaneous (no need to wait when you can get it fast or order appetizers).

So a few weeks after I came home we started our "Eating Out Fast". We have sat our desks bringing our leftovers from the day before while our colleagues went out... we have grabbed food from grocery stores to cook at friends houses when we go straight from work so we don't just grab fast food. We have gotten better at planning menus, controlling our portions so we have enough for lunch, and waiting longer to eat in the evenings.

We do make exceptions.. We have gone out for friend's birthdays. If we have a work dinner (not paid for by us...) we go and try to order something healthy. We went out this weekend on a date to a restaurant-- and it was really special. Not just a hunger frenzied attempt to eat something fast, but a special event where we enjoyed food in one anothers company.

This may not be that big of a deal for some people -- but for us it is huge. Before we were eating out 2-3 times a week. Now we are at 2-3 times a month.Anyway-- hoping to keep up this "food-i-tude" for good, has been a great change for us.

Friday, November 4, 2011

no good rotten very bad day

don't you hate days like that?

I do. Having one as we speak and trying to stay positive. I will whine for a few more minutes and then I am off to do something relaxing that will bring me back up.

1. Have been planning a big meeting at work for about a month. Was today. Slides were ready, team was all set... details were all in line. Did a walk through yesterday via phone with everyone, got there 2 hours early to do a technology run through. And ofcourse technical difficulties came up. Feedback in all of the speakers so that none of our videos could be heard, none of the cool technology we rehearsed and practice beforehand actually worked. And all of the mics gave us those horrid squeaky noises Yep. And as I asked the guy working there what he could do to help me with the sound system he said: "Well, I didn't configure it so I would have to rip out all of the wires and start over." With 200 people in the room actively trying to engage in this meeting at that moment, I decided to just move on without all the fancy prep work and deal. Bummer? Yes. In my control? No.

2. Got home after lots of driving today (meeting was 1.5 hours away), exhausted and turned on the oven. Knew that I had burned something in there other day... but thought it would be fine (you know, that stuff kind of goes away lol). Anyway. Few minutes later I notice a horrid smell and look at my oven and it is SMOKING! Yep. There was a fire in my oven. Real live fire with real live flames. No worries, I googled it (thank you iphone*). Fire was out n a bit, but jeez? That stinks.

3. Few minutes later I jump online and follow a link from facebook for a friend to vote for her kids Halloween costume in a contest online. Yep. And then I get a virus. My computer crashes. I frantically shut down hoping it is all okay. Queue calling company help desk and following their prompts, only to get the blue screen of death. No hope for me. Someone will call me Monday to replace laptop. GAH! So much for working this weekend. Guess I have to tell my boss I DIDN'T finish everything I needed before planned (planning for aforementioned meeting was a ton of work so I was going to have work a bit over the weekend to catch up). Maybe a blessing in disguise? Maybe. Or may be I try to do my excel magic on my hubbys mac (why are ms products so horrid to use on a mac??! lol).

*Did I mention I dropped my iphone this week and the screen completely shattered? The second time this has happened to me? That I had the protective case on and everything this time? That I am not up for an upgrade until next year? Oh yeah. That happened.

BOO! Go AWAY you no good very rotten bad day.
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