Screen Time

>> Monday, January 30, 2017

I have some good posts coming up this week! I am currently filming a little day-in-the-life bit so you can see what I do on the daily. I always love posts like those -- especially from other work-at-home moms. And I am also planning to share why I have decided to stop it already with the LuLaRoe obsession. I was going to just write my thoughts, but I also think it would be interesting to show you why. So, that will also be a video/post.

Today, I want to get out there one of the goals I added to my resolution list. It's a common one, but it is something I didn't think I had a huge issue with until recently. See, I was writing a freelance article and came across the statistic that the average adult spends over 10 hours a day on screens. Initially, I scoffed. "That's ridiculous!" And then I started estimating my own computer, phone, and television time.

Gulp. It's pretty accurate.


I'd say I spend about 4 hours doing computer work for my jobs and also some casual browsing each day of week. Stephen and I have the television on for around two hours each night, even if it's just in the background. And I have my smart phone on me (BTW: I am IN LOVE with my Cell Mate case. In love!) a lot of the time, I don't think I spend three hours on it -- but it might be close to that if you count browsing while nursing, etc.

So, say I spend maybe 8 hours a day on devices most days of the week. I don't like multiplying to get the total. It's too much. I've also noticed that I've been experiencing eye strain lately. I've been trying to follow the 20-20-20 rule (for every 20 minutes on a screen, look into the distance 20 feet for 20 seconds), but it's hard.

I'd love to say "but those hours of screen time when you're working don't count -- you HAVE to do that."

But they do count. At least toward the negative health effects, etc. I don't really know what to do about those. Still, I am hoping to cut down TV time and smart phone time by half to start. Maybe more. I am actually considering proposing to Stephen that we have a few TV-free nights. We don't have cable, but Hulu and Netflix have plenty.

Last night I started by cracking open my Alexander Hamilton biography. I like Chernow's writing style so much, I also ordered his George Washington biography. As if I'll be done with the 800+ pages anytime soon. (And I am going to start doing more library borrowing as well! I just know I'll be trying to read these books chapter by chapter for quite a long time.)

What have you guys done to cut down on screen time? We have phones banned from the dinner table. Otherwise, we've really let any rules slide. I am also looking into this whole single-tasking approach to see if it might make my work more efficient and less time-consuming.

Whatever the case, I'm signing off for the day.

More soon, though! And don't worry -- my review of Weight Watchers is coming up soon. I am down 4 pounds for January. But I've hit some bumps in the road. If you have specific questions you'd like me to answer, leave them in the comments below.

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In the Kitchen // Vegan Protein Waffles

>> Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Hey, friends! So, here's that waffle recipe I've been promising for a few days. I've written about my love for Kodiak Protein Waffle mix, but the $5 price tag (about 50 cents per waffle)? I didn't love that so much.With our new budget stuff on the horizon, I figured I should figure out something homemade.

But how to get 14 grams of protein into delicious waffles?

Well, you can see how I figured it out -- in a vegan recipe with no protein powder!


 

INSTRUCTIONS 



To make 4 waffles . . . 
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup white flour
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter powder
  • 1 tablespoon coconut sugar (or plain sugar)
  • 1 tablespoon cacao powder (or cocoa powder)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Whisk all ingredients together in an airtight container for storage.  

You can easily double this recipe to make 8 waffles.

And all you need to do to make the waffles is combine a half cup of mix with a half cup of either soy milk or water -- whisking works best. Then fire up your waffle maker* on its higher setting, spritz with just a little cooking spray, cook, and you're done. That's all.

* I have a ceramic Oster Belgian waffle maker -- it was less than $25 and I end up using it daily either for waffles or pressed sandwiches (grilled cheese!). You definitely don't need to go fancy with this appliance. And when you're cooking these waffles, even if the green light turns on indicating it's "done" cooking, I like to wait another full minute to get it a bit crisper.

BTW: These waffles end up being 7 Weight Watchers points if you use unsweetened soy milk. (You can also use water if you don't care as much about hitting 14.5 grams -- the mix alone has 11-ish grams.)

And I broke out how much these waffles cost each and it's about 40 cents. No, that's not a HUGE savings on the Kodiak mix (and the cost would be lower if I used plain sugar and cocoa powder), but if you consider I eat one of these waffles almost daily, that's 10 cents a day or the potential savings of $36 a year.

That's a month of internet (at least after yesterday's switch).

Every little bit counts!

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Tuesday Tidbits

>> Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Snow day over here -- without much snow to speak of. Still, it's a nice change of pace. This time of year gets the best of me, especially since I work from home. Anyway, I have that protein waffle recipe to share (that's only 7 weight watchers points!), but I want to make it into a video. With everyone home today, it's been too crazy to film. Plus, I haven't yet showered.

Here are some random things that are going on.


#1: Last night, I felt compelled to do something beyond the march. So, while we sat down together to mock The Bachelor, I took some time to write a personal story that I intend to send to my local and state lawmakers. I also decided to submit it to Pantsuit Nation, so if you're a member of that community, you can check it out here.

The response has been incredible, and I feel very happy that I took the energy I almost didn't have to get that all off my chest.


#2: Like I mentioned, this time of year just gets me down. I am not being flip when I say that I do get a touch of SAD. It makes sense. I work at home. So, relatively isolated. We have more cloudy days than Seattle. So, I'm considering making one last purchase before our journey to debt-free. And I'm hoping some of you might have suggestions.

Does anyone have this HappyLight lamp or one like it?

Does it help you?

#3: We called Time Warner Cable this morning to stop our cable and internet service. We didn't watch the TV often anyway, but having a few channels made internet cheaper in some weird scenario. We switched over to EarthLink. Get this: It costs HALF of what we were paying even without a promotion . . . and it's the SAME exact service. Yeah. We switched with no interruption because EarthLink internet is through TWC.

There's another $40 off our monthly budget. WINNING!

Come to think of it, I may have mentioned a while back we were planning to do this. I don't know what took so long. We were just paying like fools when we didn't have to!


#4: Eloise is now over 7 months old. She's sitting up and even beginning the moves to start crawling. We need to get on baby-proofing -- ASAP. We made some major changes to the back of our living room, and I love how kid-friendly it is now. I hope to write more about our house soon. I have been meaning to do an updated tour for ages.

Maybe that's another video idea!

#5: One of the big changes in our budget is the grocery money. We had been sticking to around $125 a week and buying a meal out on weekends. Now, I am trying to dip down to $400 per month plus around $100 of flex food/entertainment funds. I know when I've talked grocery budgets in the past, people have been shocked that we can stick to $100, but it truly is possible. I may even be able to go lower if I am smart about cooking.

For next month, I'm planning to try an approach I've eyed on blogs and vlogs for a while -- shopping one big monthly shop -- say, $300 of the $400 budget -- and then doing little $25 shopping each week for fresh stuff. Have you shopped this way? Any tips for me? I'm going to try hitting up three stores in one day to make it happen. Aldi, Sam's Club, and Wegmans.

Here's to getting that waffle recipe filmed and posted tomorrow!

Read more...

Rise UP

>> Sunday, January 22, 2017

My family marched together this weekend along with millions people worldwide in support of women's rights. In support of HUMAN rights. Together. We live in a red county, and I wasn't sure how the turnout would be. There were several thousand of us when only hundreds were originally expected.

It was inspiring. It was powerful. It was i.m.p.o.r.t.a.n.t. Thank you to my fellow marchers -- whether you were able to participate in this Saturday's events or not (we almost didn't make it because Ada was upset by all the noise, for example -- I know some of you were there with us in spirit). Thanks to those of you who are fighting this good fight with us in other ways.

POWER TO THE PEOPLE!*


This photo will forever be one of my favorites. My daughters deserve to live in a world that values them. They deserve to live in a world where their friends and family have equal rights. Where they aren't dismissed or disregarded for what they look like, who they love, or what their economic status is. Where we won't do irreversible damage to our very stomping ground because we choose to ignore science. Oh, gosh. I need to stop. There is just so much at stake, friends.

I've discovered that some people who follow this blog aren't totally on board. I don't expect everyone to feel how we feel. And I don't share my sentiments to sway you; I've learned in my real life that bombardment with my beliefs isn't particularly persuasive. Regardless, I will keep on keeping on. I won't turn this blog into a political battleground.

This is my piece. But certainly not my peace.

Now it's back to programming as usual, at least 99 percent of the time. Regardless of how much I hate to say it, this is the new normal. We need to find a way to function and keep fighting for what we believe while going on with life. It's going to be hard. It may even feel impossible at times, especially with terms like "alternative facts" and other crazy things going around.

Anyway, here are some things you can do now that the marches are over. Back to waffle recipes and vlogs and marathon training notes soon. Because that's what bloggers do, right?


* Several people have expressed that they haven't appreciated my language in several things I've shared lately. In particular, the word "pussy" on my sign. I stand by what I've written and I'm merely using the words of our president. But I do apologize to anyone who feels I am being too crass. I get it, and I don't mean to alienate people who do agree with my thoughts but would rather keep it clean.

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Making Sense of Our Debt // Plan + Numbers

>> Thursday, January 19, 2017

Have you ever had one of those crazy Ah-HA! moments? Like, you've been doing it all wrong this whole time? Yeah. This post is about one of those.

Warning: I'm going to get a little TMI. A little taboo . . . and I'm going to share a few details about our financial situation. Honestly, it's embarrassing. But at the same time, I've learned so much from other bloggers and vloggers who have done the same (one of my favorites is Pennies Into Pearls). 

And -- really -- this is only the beginning of what I am hoping will be a major success story.

Also: I'm not subscribing to any particular school of thought with budget matters. I know there are some big names in this area with detailed plans to boot. The whole snowball debt thing is even taken directly from Dave Ramsey -- but I don't agree with all of his practices. 


So, much all of my adult life, I've been saddled with debt. Like, a lot. Stephen and I both have been. Student loans for private liberal arts education are killer, you guys. I think I brought something like $33K to the table when we got married. That was after my parents generously paid half my way. I worked a lot (two jobs) during college as well. I also got a nice grant. Still, I was $33K in debt by age 21.

Stephen also brought his graduate school loans which amounted to about the same. We've dutifully paid the minimum of these loans since we graduated school. We've picked up a few cars along the way. And then there are things like when you furnace or air conditioning dies or you want new carpet in your basement, etc. Thankfully, we never really got into credit cards.

The thing is, I've always just paid minimums. Seemed manageable enough. Try not to think about interest. Break it down monthly, and those gigantic numbers didn't seem so frightening. Keep the interest rate a vague number so you don't think about how much you're throwing away in the long run. It was a system that worked. It works for many people. Not all debt has to be bad. But when it starts to mount, it's not something that makes it easy to sleep at night.

Anyway, I had more compelling financial things to take my attention. Like saving 3 to 6 months of our monthly budget to have in our bank account. My focus has been entirely on building this number for so long. We did have 6 months at one point right when I had left my full-time job. In those last five years, life has happened. We've had to dip in for various reasons. We have about 3 months of our budget in savings currently. I am not thrilled it's only 3 . . . but also not saddened by that number. It's solid.

Then, I had this moment. I found out that my interest rate on my student loans went up very minimally when the feds increased the prime rate. It prompted me to take a look into my account beyond just paying my bill. I started to think we could do better. Maybe we SHOULD try to pay off some of this debt faster. I mean, we can't have TOO much more, right? So, in the new year -- I set this as a goal. At least to LOOK at how much we still owe and think about tackling it a bit faster.

At age 33, our family is carrying about $34K in debt.

Breathe.

Almost half of this amount is in student loans. There is an amount we had to take out to pay for our air conditioner that broke on one of the hottest days of summer last year when Eloise was a few days old. There's a bit left over on a 0% financing deal for when we moved and got new carpeting in the basement (worth every penny we are paying, IMO). And the rest is the worst of all -- debt on two used cars (UGH! We have the worst luck with cars, too). One of the loans (I'm looking at you, van) is higher than either of our student loans if you break them out.

Yikes.

So, $34K. That sounds super overwhelming, especially considering all the interest we're thrown away in the last decade just paying minimums. I maybe even feel some judgement from those of you who are smarter with your money. It could be worse, but the more I read into it . . . we probably could have paid off all of this YEARS ago if we had been smart. If we had buckled down and spent less. If we had just paid attention at all.

And that's what I think we're going to do in 2017.


There's no how-to in today's post. This is just my declaration that we are committed to using the snowball technique to pay down this debt as quickly as possible. Thing is, I do not want to deplete what we have in the bank to do it, which I think deviates from Dave Ramsey. It might not make the best financial sense, but I do want to retain a large cushion because my income is somewhat volatile.

That being said, we are going to try our hardest to live on Stephen's salary alone and use all my freelance money to pitch toward the debt. As much as possible.

If we start in February -- in just a week and a half -- with our smallest car loan and progress by using my freelance income + minimums, etc., we could potentially be debt-free (OK, not counting our mortgage) in just 15 months! Fifteen months! That's just over a year. Holy moly. Now, I know Ramsey says to pay off the smallest debt first, but we aren't going to do that. Our smallest debt is also our smallest monthly payment with 0%. We'll let that one wait.

Instead, we're hoping to do them in this order. This list takes into account paying minimums on all loans each month BUT adding my freelance money to the first loan, and then adding the minimum money we put toward the FIRST loan PLUS my freelancing income PLUS the money for the second loan toward the second loan, and so on.

Does that make sense?

  • Car (3 months)
  • Van (7 months)
  • Stephen loan (2.5 months)
  • Ashley loan (1 month)
  • Air conditioner (1 months)
  • Carpet (will basically be paid off)

= 15 months total

Without this plan, we wouldn't be totally out of debt for like 78 months. How many years is that? Oh, it's 6.5 years. I'll have an almost 12-year-old Ada by then. Now, that isn't the norm. On average, the length we have left on our loans if we just pay the minimums is 36 months. Our student loans don't have terrible interest, but it's just darned silly to be paying long loans on used cars. We did what we had to do, but it's something I don't ever want to do again moving forward.

The best part of all of this is that when we're done, we'll be freeing up $1,100 a month that we currently have built into our budget to pay off all this debt. That is SO much money to us. And it's that kind of stuff that makes the whole having-a-third-child conversation less scary.

Obviously there's more to this conversation. How will we modify our budget to live on just Stephen's income? What will we be giving up? What happens if we feel we can't be this aggressive? There are many more things I'd like to cover another day. But I feel good getting this out there. Motivated. I sort of don't care if people judge us. We have a plan. The debt is what it is. There's no changing it at this point.

In the wise words of Hamilton's Aaron Burr: "I am the one thing in life I can control."

(BTW: My brother-in-law and sister-in-law saw Hamilton on Broadway last night. I'm green with envy. Hamilton tickets, though. That's definitely one thing I will NOT be purchasing in the next 15 months!)

Image credits here and here

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Mommy + Daughter // Pink Hair

>> Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Good morning, everyone! You may have gathered on Instagram that Ada and I dyed our hair pink this weekend. What fun! Really -- I love Overtone hair coloring conditioner so much. I've gone purple, orange, grey, purple again, and now pink. Each and every time, the product impresses me.

I promised Ada that she could temporarily dye her hair pink for Valentine's day. So, I ordered a bottle of vibrant pink, waited a few days, and here's what happened.



We love the color.

I really wish mine looked exactly like Ada's.

Some major hair goals right there.


So, there you have it. Pink hair. At least for a while.

If you'd like to hear more about my thoughts on Overtone, check out my first Before/After YouTube video when I did orange. (Don't forget to subscribe while you're there!) PS: As with many of my reviews, I bought the product myself and have no affiliation with the company.

Happy Wednesday!

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How I Feel About // Essential Oils

>> Monday, January 16, 2017

This is such a long-overdue post. I've hinted from time to time that I use essential oils in anything from household cleaners to DIY personal care stuff. But I've never gone on record explaining the full extent of my usage. The thing is, I've not one of those crazy hashtag oily moms.

At least not yet.


I started using essential oils when I was in college. I've mentioned many times that I went to Ithaca College, which is in Ithaca, NY. To me, this meant I was living in a total hippy town. And my very first independent persona as a college freshman was, well, a completely granola girl. It's something I have yet to shake all these years later.

You see, I used to have bouts of insomnia and headaches. I blame it on stress my first year of college. On a bad relationship I was in that had me all sorts of crazy. I marched into the local food co-op one afternoon and was looking for anything "natural" that might bring me calm and contentedness. I picked up two things -- a small bottle of Valerian root extract and a small bottle of lavender essential oil.

I'll get into the Valerian another time. But the essential oil was something I fell in love in instantly. I had started my first yoga class that semester, and our teacher actually would rub lavender mixed with jojoba on on necks during the final savasana. So. Incredibly. Relaxing.

I had no idea what I was doing on my own. I sniffed the bottle. I put the plain oil on my wrists and neck (oops -- I never had a reaction, but undiluted oil is usually a no-no). I dripped it onto this rice pillow I kept in my bed. It helped me feel calm.


Fast-forward many, many years but I started using peppermint, lemon, tea tree, and eucalyptus oils in my homemade cleaning supplies. I loved the natural scent and antimicrobial properties it added to the mix. Eventually I even got a diffuser and started unwinding with a few drops of lavender at the end of a hard day. If I felt a cold coming on, I'd do some peppermint mixed to eucalyptus.

And, really, up until today -- that's been the extent of my oil usage. I've seen a gigantic surge in essential oil popularity over the last couple years. I've remained rather skeptical about it all. I mean, can oils really CURE sickness? Can they ward it off? Should we REALLY be slathering our babies in this stuff? My first inclination is to say, uh, no. Be safe rather than sorry. This stuff is potent.

But many friends of mine who I know and respect -- some of them with medical degrees -- swear by the stuff. Am I missing out? Is it all snake oil? Will it kill my cats or injure my children? There are just so many questions. There are not that many iron-clad sources either.

Then there's the whole sourcing issue. I have only Aura Cacia oils in my personal collection. I can buy them at Wegmans. I respect their company, as they claim to be free from fillers and don't advocate ingestion (perhaps the biggest usage I'm skeptical about), and their prices seem reasonable.


I currently have:
  • Peppermint
  • Lavender 
  • Eucalyptus
  • Tea Tree
  • Lemon
  • Frankincense (my new favorite)  
  • And my diffuser is from Gurunanda
I hear that other oils from Young Living, doTerra, and Rocky Mountain are better quality -- at least perhaps.

So, how do I feel about essential oils? 


Curious.

As a long-time user, I'm still just on the tip of the iceberg. I'd love to hear from you more experienced oily people what I may be missing out on. Should I dip my toes in deeper? Am I right to be skeptical? What safety do you follow around kids?

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More Thoughts on the More Kids Question

>> Thursday, January 12, 2017

I feel like I JUST wrote a post all about how we're not ready to think about having more kids. (Oh, I did. It's right here.) And -- really -- it isn't like we've made any decisions. We aren't trying anytime soon or closing up shop. I still haven't gotten my cycle back after Eloise, for example. We only recently started sleeping through (a good part of) the night.

Still, this question has been coming up more more. This time, it isn't from other people. It's in my own head. So, I thought I'd share my current thoughts on the matter.

As confusing as they may be:



Also! I know some of you cannot watch videos (while you're checking blogs at work, etc.) or would prefer to not watch videos. I'm not planning to share them quite this frequently (I've been doing two a week) forever and ever. Instead, I'm trying to create a habit. Vlogging is something I like doing, but it takes a lot more foresight and work. Thanks for your patience!

And if you like the videos -- great! That makes me happy. What else would you like to see? I did an Overtone hair color conditioner review a while back that seems to be sort of popular. People also seemed to like when I did a cooking video in my kitchen. Let me know! I'm going to also do more written content over here, including more recipes and the like.

Anyway, I'd love to know how you approached the more kids or done-having-kids thing in your own family. There are days when I feel like YES, we DEFINITELY would want to have another one. And then others -- like today, when Eloise will not nap for anything -- where I question my sanity and think #NOPENOPENOPE.

Hard to believe this was ME last year at 16 weeks pregnant!


We are both so incredible thankful for the two beautiful girls we already have as well.


It's just a complicated beast of a family decision, is it not? And, as I mention in the video, sometimes it isn't a decision at all. It can just happen or, on the flip side, not happen. Ah, life.

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Leaf Nature Review + Why I'm Returning

>> Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Hopping on to give you guys that review on the Bellabeat Leaf Nature (I have the Rose Gold edition) fitness tracking device. I had very high hopes for this gorgeous piece of smart jewelry. I've wanted it for a few years and -- yes -- I bought it with my own money. So, this review is unbiased.

You can wear it as a necklace, bracelet, clip it on to your clothing, etc. I even bought some cute accessories for it on Etsy!


But here's the deal.

And why -- sadly -- I am returning it:



PROS 

  • It's beautiful
  • You can wear it many different ways
  • It tracks you steps, sleep, breathing, menstrual cycle, etc.
  • Its app is relatively user-friendly 
  • Did I mention how pretty it is?!

CONS 

  • Leaf Nature cannot get wet. (The Leaf Urban can, however.) 
  • Doesn't allow you to override for running steps (see video for explanation)
  • Has issues with tracking sleep
  • Breathing tracking can be random
  • Clunky in that you have to always mark in app how you're wearing it
  • Customer service is just OK, not great

WHY I'M RETURNING

Ultimately, I decided to return this tracker because there are others out there that do more for a similar price point. If the Leaf's app gave me the ability to override steps to account for the miles I've run in a day, I may have kept it. But it doesn't. Instead, I spend my days frustrated that I cannot meet my step goal on the screen when I've obviously already met it in real life. And customer service is vague about when developments will be made.

In the end, the Leaf Nature is a nice fitness tracker that looks gorgeous . . . but it just doesn't have enough power for me.

Do you have the Leaf? I'm majorly sad to return!

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Peanut Butter Swirl Black Bean Brownies

>> Monday, January 9, 2017

I won't make you guys wait any longer for this vegan black bean brownie recipe I posted on Instagram last week. I mean, I've already made it several times! I tweaked it from an old favorite to make it even more Weight Watchers friendly.

And -- though I'm still new at all of this -- I got this batch down to just 3-4 points per piece (depending on if you cut them into 8 or 10 pieces).


PEANUT BUTTER SWIRL BLACK BEAN BROWNIES


What you'll need . . .

  • 1 can of black beans, drained + rinsed
  • 1 medium ripe banana
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened peanut butter powder*
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa or cacao powder 
  • 1 tablespoon flax meal + 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda 
  • Pinch salt
  • 4 tablespoons peanut butter**
* I used JIF unsweetened peanut powder
** I recommend a stir peanut butter. I used my favorite Everland Organic Coconut Peanut Butter (pictured below).

Method . . .

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Spritz a round or square baking dish with a little coconut or canola oil and set aside.
  2. Combine all ingredients except the 4 tablespoons of peanut butter in a food processor.
  3. Spread into your baking dish evenly. Then drop the peanut butter in half tablespoon amounts throughout the top.
  4. Fold and swirl in peanut butter with a knife and bake in the oven for around 25 minutes. The brownies should start to pull away from the sides of your pan.
  5. Let cool almost completely before slicing and enjoying.

Related Recipes:

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January Foods + Carrot Boost Soup

>> Thursday, January 5, 2017

If you click over to the website, you'll see that I'm playing around with some new design. I also want to make things easier to find. With limited time, this might be a long process. So, please be patient! If there's a feature you'd like to see on neverhomemaker, let me know! If there's something that isn't working for you, please let me know that as well.

Let's jump in with my favorite foods for January. I'm hoping to make this a monthly video feature where I rummage through my cupboards and refrigerator and share with you the stuff I'm loving to eat that particular month. As mentioned yesterday, I'm doing Weight Watchers -- so some of these foods are particularly friendly for that program.

JANUARY FAVE FOODS




// If you aren't watching the video: PB2 Premium Chocolate, Kodiak Cakes in PB Protein, Grillo's Pickles, Republic of Tea Gingerbread, carrot soup (below), and Poor Gal's Kombucha.

Our family has r.e.a.l.l.y taken to this carrot soup. It's full of immune-boosting ingredients. Stephen has been making a carrot soup for quite some time, actually. In a way, this is his recipe. Ada and I keep getting sick. And I decided I wanted to see what I could add to the mix that might help matters.


Immunity-boosting ingredients, according to Healthline:

  • Ginger
  • Garlic
  • Lemon
  • Turmeric  
We actually made a TRIPLE batch of this soup recently. Feel free to play with the recipe and make more if you want to stock up. Though I'm still new at it, I'm thinking this soup has only 1 point for WW people who are tracking. We ate the first bit for dinner and then packed the rest for lunches. It's easy to sip down soup even when you have a Velcro-baby.

See?


CARROT BOOST SOUP


What you'll need . . . 

  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 pounds organic carrots, scrubbed and chopped into 1-inch coins
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 large cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1-2 inch piece of ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 5-6 cups water, depending on how runny you like your soup
  • Juice of one lemon 
  • Pinch salt and pepper
Method . . . 

  1. Heat oil in a large stock pot over medium-high heat. Add in onions and cook until softened.
  2. Add in the garlic, ginger, and spices. Cook for a minute or so. 
  3. Then add your carrots and water. Increase heat and bring to a boil.
  4. Lower to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes. 
  5. Then let cool for a little while before blending until smooth. Feel free to add more water, if necessary.
  6. Return to stove to season with the salt and pepper + stir in lemon juice.
Enjoy!

Read more...

Weight Watchers + Other Goals

>> Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Here's that video I promised you! It's sort of dark because, well, it's raining and very cave-like in our area in January. But I'll chat first and then write a bit more down below.

Hello!



WW


So, yes. Weight Watchers. I don't really know why I decided to sign up. I think I should first mention that this post is in no way sponsored or affiliated with the program. I joined on my own. Actually, come to think of it -- I think I saw that Oprah recently lost weight and I went to read an article about it and ended up looking into the program.

Why did I sign up? I've done calorie counting with sites like MyFitnessPal and the like. But counting calories really tips my eating disorder stuff. Obviously, I know you're counting something different -- points -- with Weight Watchers. But something about it is better for me. The points are based on the nutritional value or food. It's not a perfect plan, and I'm still getting the hang of it. Like I mention in the video, I've only been on it for four days or so . . . I'll save a review for a month from now.

I actually started loosely following the WW app in the days after Christmas. I have lost two pounds already. My goal is 15 total. I can chat more about why I am looking at the scale another time. I know weight isn't everything. 

Half Marathon


I've done lots of half marathons. Nothing new or exciting there. But I'm hoping to get back into working out more regularly now that Eloise SEEMS to be sleeping better. We hit a rough patch after the initial newborn phase. I mean, in the summer? I was killing my workouts and feeling great. Then I didn't sleep for several months and, you know.

My only time goal is to finish in under two hours. But training for a specific pace might be too lofty for now. We'll see. There's actually a half marathon + 5K at the race I'm eyeing, so I may even try to go for that and run 16.2. I have another month to decide before the registration rates go up.

Meditation


Or spirituality. Or something. I don't know. I haven't been a regular church-goer since my teens. I haven't regularly practiced yoga since my twenties. These two things aren't the same -- I get it. But there's a certain sense of calm and serenity that can go with each of them. I'm not sure how I feel about church . . . but I definitely feel there's something more in this world. I'm figuring it out even at the ripe age of 33.

Regardless, centering myself is something I neglect. I get all up on my energy and nervousness. Taking even 10 minutes to sit and breathe (prompted by my Leaf tracker) has been helpful -- especially before bed. I don't really know what to say about this goal right now. I'm still learning what exactly it means for me.

Those are some of my goals for this year. I'll be back with a soup recipe tomorrow AND my favorite foods for the month (another video!). You can actually check out that video now on my YouTube channel. Be sure to subscribe if you want to see more updates as they are posted over there. I'm thinking I'll do a makeup routine one next. That is, if I can figure out better lighting!

What's on your goal list this year?


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2017 + Poor Gal's Kombucha

>> Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Happy 2017! 

I actually recorded a YouTube video for y'all, but it won't upload. I have so much I want to share about my resolutions, stuff I'm trying out (Weight Watchers, the Leaf tracker, etc.), and Eloise's long-awaited crib transition. (The short of it: I got 8 hours of sleep last night!) Today, though, I want to share with you one of my new favorite drinks.

I call it the . . .


POOR GAL'S KOMBUCHA


What you'll need . . . 

  • 1 tablespoon (or so) apple cider vinegar
  • 1 can sparkling water

// Pour ACV in a glass, pour sparkling water atop it, and enjoy. Stephen likes to add ice, by the way.

To me, this mix tastes almost exactly like my favorite kombucha -- but at a fraction of the cost. You can change up the flavor by using different sparkling waters. You could add some ginger or lemon to the mix. Oh, and this drink also has some possible health benefits. One of them is getting your digestion in better order.

Or it just tastes good. Whatever the case, I hope you try it out and let me know what you think! This apple cider vinegar drink is one of my new favorite foods/snacks/etc. I'll actually be back with a video with a few of my other favorites later in the week.

YES! TWO videos this week.

Can I keep up this pace? I'm not sure. My last video was about a year ago where I declared there'd be more video blogging in 2016. We all know how that went. But I give myself a pass because I was pregnant and all.

Anyway, I hope to be back soon with the first of two videos. If you want to see it sooner, subscribe to my YouTube channel! I also have a carrot soup recipe on tap for this week. Gotta love the new year motivation, right?

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