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favorite things friday

15 Apr

I’m so excited it’s the weekend!

I haven’t been super productive today…unless you count spending hours browsing for decor inspiration as a major accomplishment.  Although I have done several loads of laundry and gotten in a really great workout, so I haven’t been all bad.

Anyway, for a little Friday fun I thought I’d share just a few things that I’ve been loving lately!

  • First up, the book I just finished this week – The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom.  Once it got going, I simply could not put it down. It was “one of those.”  I highly recommend it!

  • Simple and healthy homemade meals.  I’ve always loved to eat out, but lately I’m just really craving food from home, especially some of my old staples.  Today was lovely getting to be home rather than taking all my food on the go.

whole wheat bread with roasted garlic hummus, broccoli slaw and spinach

kashi, green yogurt, frozen blueberries

  • Apartment Therapy.  I’ve been getting tons of inspiration browsing this website for house decor ideas.
    The husband and I are contemplating what flooring combination to do – stained concrete, wood, tile – so many options!  I’m loving so many elements of this space right now.
  • These shoes I just bought to wear on Easter.  Yes, I’m 27 years old, and I’m still buying clothing items specifically for Easter.  Why not?  It’s a great reason to get some new staples for the beautiful spring weather!  Plus I just couldn’t resist the vintage modern vibe…and they’re comfy too:)
  • Dinners shared in the car with the husband while running house errands.  Actually, just being in the car with the husband while running house errands.  Who am I kidding?
  • And last, Dove dark chocolate.  Just one square (okay, two) does the trick:)

Hope you all have a lovely weekend!

What is one thing you’re really loving right now?

great books and other stuff

1 Apr

Despite the fact that it’s Friday and the weather has made vast improvements, I am dragging today!  The culprit?

This book.

Yesterday I was killing a little bit of time before picking the husband up from work, so I ran across the street to Border’s because they’re having a huge closing sale.  After wondering around for awhile, my eyes landed on the cover of Euna Lee’s memoire.  I am a big fan of memoirs; I just recently finished two different ones, Thin is the New Happy by Valerie Frankel and The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls – two books that could not be more different, but were equally engaging and wonderful.  I highly recommend both, but to give you fair warning, The Glass Castle is very harsh and somewhat disturbing at times…like when you see something so devastating that you want to look away, but you just can’t.  But in the end it shoots straight to your heart as it speaks of redemption and the ability to rise above any situation, and I walked away feeling inspired and more aware of the world.

But back to the book of last night.  I read a few pages right after I bought it and knew right away that it would be hard to put down.  After running a couple of errands and making the trek back home, I picked it back up; three hours and 275 pages later I stumbled into bed.  Lee’s account of her time in captivity in North Korea took me on a journey that ended in a renewed thankfulness for the most important things in life and a new perspective of how God leads us through the toughest of times.  Thought provoking and emotional, at times I felt I was right there with her as she agonized over missing her baby and having no certainty over her future – and upon her arrival back home where she embraced gratefulness, safety and those she loved most.  I loved it.

This morning I had plans to get some work done at Starbucks, but I just had to finish the last 15 pages or so.  This is my problem with books – if they’re riveting enough to keep me flipping the page, then I simply cannot walk away from them.  Gets me every time.  Having rushed out of the house in a blur of bags, laptops and keys this morning, I didn’t have time to eat breakfast, but Starbucks perfect oatmeal to the rescue once again!  The best option for breakfasts on the run.

topped with dried fruit and nuts

I also wanted to toss in one my favorite easy lunches that I had yesterday.  I’ve made a version of this before with just black beans, but the spices in this one had me over the moon.

Baked sweet potato with leftover Amy’s Chili poured over top. And a side of kale chips.

This could even be a portable snack to take to the office (which I’ll be needing soon!) if you have a microwave.  Maybe subbing out the kale chips for a bag of steamable broccoli?   I just love little meals that are warm and homemade tasting, but take minutes to prepare.

I’m so happy it’s Friday (duh), and I’m so excited because the husband and I are going to the OKC home show this weekend.  We’ve got some serious house decisions to make in the next week, so hopefully we’ll come away with some direction and inspiration.

Have a lovely weekend!

What is your favorite book you’ve ever read?
If I had to choose one, I’d probably say Barbara Kingsolver’s Poisonwood Bible – read it while we lived in Thailand, and could read it a thousand more times.  Side note – the other day I was re-listening to My Sister’s Keeper in the car, and I had this sudden realization that books can take on a whole new meaning and impact with each time you read them.  There are different things going on in my life right now that cause me to read it in a completely different way than last time.  Love that about books.

let's talk raw – juices and smoothies

16 Feb

Yesterday was a big day for green smoothies in our house.   The husband drank his first one.

While he’s had sips of mine before, he didn’t really like it and has never shown any real interest in drinking them himself.  For starters he doesn’t like banana, and since that’s the main ingredient in mine every day, it’s no wonder he sort of turned his nose up at them.  But in the spirit of wanting to up the health factor in his diet, he decided to give them a go. And he’s actually really liking them!  He obviously knows the way to my heart:)

Unfortunately I didn’t get a pic, but I ended up buying a bag of mixed fruit – peaches, pineapple and strawberries – and using that for sweetness instead of banana.  I also added a big handful of spinach, soymilk, 1/2 scoop of Amazing Grass and ice.

As I’ve mentioned, I’m currently reading Kris Carr’s new book, Crazy Sexy Diet, and I’m loving it.  As a wellness warrior, she advocates eating only raw food, preferably liquids (juices or smoothies) until lunch.

According to Kris that means “green juice, green smoothies, purified water, and teas.”  But this doesn’t mean that you have to starve as you can have as many servings of them as you need.  And “if that’s not enough for you, no worries, solid foods are definitely an option.”   I’m not one to jump on unrealistic fad diets, but as I’m learning more about the benefits of raw food, juices and smoothies, I am becoming more and more of a believer that the more raw foods you can incorporate into your diet the better. I feel overwhelmed (in a good way) by all the information I’ve absorbed, and while I want to share it all right here right now there’s just too much!

For now, I will say that one of the best things about starting the day off with green juice or a green smoothie (after a big glass of purified water with lemon of course) is that it gives the body an instant shot of vitamins, minerals, enzymes, protein and oxygen, plus a major hydration boost.  And the body barely has to do anything to digest it!  Little work + lots of healthy stuff = pure energy and vibrance.

One thing to remember though is that when our bodies are used to digesting and storing more acidic foods, it will take a sort of short detox phase to adjust as the body gets rid of toxins.   During that time you may in fact feel less energetic…but just give it a few days to a week and you’ll be so glad you did.  It took about 3 days for me, and this morning I felt noticeably more energetic than previous days.

There was a time when I didn’t understand how juicing was so good for you.  Doesn’t it remove all the good fiber?  Won’t it raise my blood sugar if the fiber isn’t there to balance out the natural sugar in fruit?  While it may raise blood sugar a bit, it won’t be a big deal as long as the overall ratio of veggies to fruit is about 3:1, as fruit has more natural sugars.  And make sure they are vegetables that are low on the GI scale – like cucumber instead of carrots.  A great one to start off with is 1 whole organic (or peeled if it’s not organic) cucumber, several stalks of organic celery and a small apple.  But have fun playing around with different combinations!

Coming full-circle now, let’s talk smoothies again.  Smoothies are almost just as amazing for the body as juices…and they also keep you full longer. The body does have to work a bit to digest them, but still not nearly as much as with solid food, and the fiber provides longer lasting fullness and energy.  Plus, they’re easier to make.

As Kris explains, “the difference between a juice and a smoothie is that a smoothie leaves no pulp behind – it contains all the fantastic fiber of the ingredients.  The tough cellulose structure of the produce is broken into tiny pieces that are easy for your body to digest and assimilate.  Think of it as a pre-chewed blast of optimum nutrition.”

My green smoothie was just a smidge different than usual this morning. In an effort to keep it 100% raw, I subbed in water for my usual almond milk.  I was kind of concerned that it would loose it’s delicious creamy factor, but I could hardly tell a difference!

2 big handfuls of organic spinach + 1 banana + 1 cup water + 1 scoop of Amazing Grass (with a side of folded towels:)

As I talk more about raw/vegan food, I want to make it clear (as always) that whatever each individual can do that improves their health and quality of life is like gold.  If that means introducing green juice or green smoothies once a week or eating three raw meals a week, then that’s great!  The fact is that no one is perfect and the more we put pressure on ourselves to be perfect – in any area of our lives- the more we’re setting ourselves up to fail. I’m currently trying to eliminate sugar from my diet as much as possible, but yesterday afternoon I got a serious craving and nothing but the vegan peanut butter cookies I’d made for the husband would do.  So I ate one.  And it was delicious.  It didn’t lessen the healthiness of my morning and I can definitely tell you it improved the healthiness of my mind because it reminded me that perfection is overrated and food is to be enjoyed.  The thing I’m realizing though, is that the more I use food to take care of my body and promote energy and vitality, the more I do enjoy it.

Amen?

This morning I’m spending some time going through my yoga class for tonight.  I only have two classes left!  I’m really going to miss teaching and am hoping I can get a new position asap.  Also on the schedule for today is three tutoring appointments and of course…packing.  I probably don’t even have to say that anymore, huh?  It’s kind of a given that there will be packing going on here during any down time for the next week and a half.  Crazy times.

Hope you all have a great Wednesday – the week is almost halfway over!

*Note that I’m only talking about food intake up until noon.  Kris doesn’t necessarily advocate eating a 100% raw diet.
**I also want to add that while I am really enjoying Crazy Sexy Diet, and I feel like I’m learning a lot of valuable information, Kris writing style is very forward.  At times she uses language that could be a bit offensive to some, and while I personally don’t like it, I choose to look past it because for me the information is worth it.  Just an FYI if you’re considering reading the book.

peace in heart and body

25 Jan

Well, I’m coming in a day late with my recap of the weekend. The husband and I spent most of the weekend in our new city, and I spent this morning playing catch up with some of the things I didn’t get to even think about doing.

On Friday I really enjoyed hearing all of your stories about geese!  I had no idea that so many people were afraid of them, ha!  It seems that several of you have some kind of scarring memory about a run-in with a goose as a child – never knew they could be such ferocious creatures.  In fairness I think I must clarify that I was catching the smaller, cuter white ducks…not the geese as shown in the picture.  And it sounds like it’s a good thing based on all your stories!

As I mentioned on Friday, we went to a party with our Sunday school class.  We played a game that Jonathan and I had gotten for Christmas called What’s Yours Like?  I was a bit skeptical about it in the beginning, but it ended up being pretty fun!  Everyone had brought different desserts, and there was definitely no shortage of sugar.  I took cupcakes as planned, and I’m excited to share them with you tomorrow!  They were a hit.  No one knew they were vegan, and our friend Greg went back for a second which let me know that they truly passed the test:)

Saturday we got up and after doing some tasks around the house, headed to the city.  We had plans to drive through our future neighborhood to get some ideas for the exterior of our house.  Jonathan carefully crafted a fun design that resembles a craftsman style, and now we’re just trying to get inspired about a color scheme.  While we recognize that building a house is going to be a lot of work, we are pumped to get to pick out everything and make it unique to our style as much as possible. We also met with our builder and signed our contract! Our names are written in blood…there’s not turning back.  Yay!  Building should start in the next month, and we’re looking at about 4ish months until it will be done.

gotta love that Oklahoma red dirt

The biggest decision (of many) that we are trying to make right now is where we’re going to live between now and the time our house gets done, which will be around the end of June.  Both Jonathan’s parents and my mom and step-dad have graciously offered to let us live with them.  We are so thankful for family who are supportive and will sacrifice to help us out. But the big decision is looming of which one to go with.  Jonathan’s parents live about one hour and fifteen minutes from his job, so he would have to commute back and forth everyday, which would be really taxing on him.  Especially considering he’ll be working on Outbox in the evenings as well.  My mom and step-dad only live about thirty-five minutes from his job, but the situation is such that Olive cannot live with us there.  So, we would need to figure out somewhere else for her to live, and it will be really hard for us to have to be away from her for 4 months.  I honestly cannot imagine it right now.  I know some people probably think that is crazy, but those of you who have pets surely understand…right?  But living with my family would be so much less draining of a commute for Jonathan, and more convenient all around (i.e. dropping by our house to check progress, finding a church to get involved in in the city etc).  If we are unable to find somewhere for her to live, then that will obviously make our decision…but even if we do find somewhere we are still torn as to what to do.  Too many decisions!!  The good news is we love both of our families, and living with either one, while being an adjustment, will be great.  We are very blessed. I’m hoping to get some new perspective from you guys on this!

Anyway, so Saturday night we headed to my hometown and got to watch my little cousin play basketball.  I hadn’t seen her play in years, and I had the best time!  I was a super proud cousin too because she played so great.  I think she scored the first ten points of the game all by herself!  She’s super cute, too:)

My sister played on the state championship team when she was a junior, and now a giant picture of her team hangs in the gym.  We got a huge kick out of taking our picture with the Cristen of 1998…I’m sure anyone walking by thought we were ridiculous, but that combined with my cousin being so embarrassed was what made it quite funny.  Maybe you had to be there.

The husband and I partied late with my family and didn’t get back home until late. We spent Sunday morning at church, and then headed to the city once again to meet my mom and step-dad to show them our lot and walk through a house that has our floor plan.  It was fun!  But I realized one thing really quickly – looking at houses after you’ve already signed a contract for yours is like looking at wedding dresses after you’ve already made the purchase for your big day.  Not a good idea.

All in all it was a busy busy weekend, but I’m pretty sure that’s becoming the norm these days….and we’re okay with that. I’m really making every effort possible to stay in a routine in the important areas of my life during this super chaotic time.  I’ll be sharing much of the journey with you as the months go by!  And for starters, that’s going to mean getting a lot more sleep.

The last few days I’ve been focusing more on getting a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables in my body.  When things get busy, stressful and/or crazy, the first thing I tend to slack on is having fresh food around.  While we were in the city I picked up Kris Carr’s new book, and I’ve really been enjoying it the last couple of days.  Sometimes a little inspiration goes a long way!  I’ll share more about the book as I keep reading, but so far it has really helped me get back on track.

I’ve been starting each day off with some warm lemon water, which is great for your skin (and we all know I need that!).

Green monsters have also been a daily staple.  Unfortunately the other day I ran out of spinach, so I got creative and decided to try broccoli!

I wouldn’t recommend it.  The only way I got the entire thing down was to chase each sip with water and picture all the amazing nutrients coursing through my veins with every swig.  It was not pretty.  I think I’ll stick to leafy greens for now.

I also had an apple mid morning

For lunch yesterday I threw together a concoction I haven’t had before, and it totally rocked!

baked sweet potato, Earth Balance, black beans, salsa, broccoli

I’ve always thought I only like sweet potatoes baked as rounds or fries, but those days are long gone!  I do think the key for me was having different foods mixed in with each potato bite – it helped break up the mushy texture, and all the flavors worked so well together.  Delicious!

Unfortunately, last night didn’t exactly go as planned.  The husband and I got a late start to the grocery store, and by the time we got done with all our shopping it was 9pm.  I was so tired and hungry, so we stopped at our favorite mexican restaurant.  I ordered two black bean tacos and ate a couple handfuls of tortilla chips.  Not exactly clean fresh food on the chips, but not a bad choice for a restaurant either!

One thing I love about Kris’s book so far is her stance on perfection.  It coincides exactly with my thoughts on the topic.

“The crazy sexy diet (not a diet, but a lifestyle) is an optimum way of life.  Let it be your foundation, a home base to come back to whenever you veer off.  The cleanse is intended to give you freedom from obstruction and liberation… It’s not meant to create or support more stress in your life.  As I said earlier, there’s no such thing as perfection.  Perfect is beige.  Obsessing over every bite is completely contrary to the purpose ans spirit of my book.  Your overall goal is to have a peaceful feeling in your heart and in your body.

With that, I’m off to bed…I hope you all had a great weekend and are enjoying the start to the week!

Any advice on our living situation?  What would you do?
Less than half the commute, but being separated from our baby?  Or a much further commute, but keeping our little family together?  Ahhh!

What was the best moment of your weekend?