Saturday, March 12, 2011

Craft Schooling Sunday!

OK, I know it isn't Sunday in the US yet, but this morning I woke up with a KILLER sore throat.  I wanted to pull together a good article, but my head is pounding.  So instead I'm posting a link to the craftiest site ever!  I already have a list of projects I want to attempt.  Sara is so clever in thinking of new ideas for her kiddos, and life in general around her house.  She is such an inspiration!  While your posting your link, take a look around her site, you'll find your new project in no time!

Join me here and link up to Craft Schooling Sunday!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Spring Challenge

March 14 - April 13, 2011

Head over to the happy life blog and join me in this challenge.

Day 1 – A picture of you and something you like about like about yourself
Day 2 – Something you really don't like about yourself.
Day 3 – A photo of something you ate today. Was is it worth the calories?
Day 4 – Something or someone you can't live without, because you’ve tried.
Day 5 – Something you definitely could live without.
Day 6 – Tell us about your best friend when you were 16, and where you two stand today.
Day 7 – Tell us about your wedding or dream wedding.
Day 8 – The best advice you've ever received.
Day 9 – A photo of your last significant purchase. Did it satisfy a need or a want?
Day 10 – What is your favorite way to pamper yourself?
Day 11 – The greatest vacation or trip you've ever had.
Day 12 – A photograph of the town you grew up in. What did you love/hate about it?
Day 13 – Where are you spiritually? In a valley or on a mountain?
Day 14 – If you had unlimited resources, what would your life look like? (Have fun with this one!)
Day 15 – Something you don’t leave the house without. Why?
Day 16 – What do you miss most about your childhood?
Day 17 – Something you crave a lot.
Day 18 – What is something you wish you could change about yourself?
Day 19 – What is something you hope never changes about you.
Day 20 – The meaning behind your blog name.
Day 21 – A photo of something that consistently makes you happy.
Day 22 – A letter to someone who has hurt you recently.
Day 23 – Tell us something you think no one really knows about you.
Day 24 – A photo of something that means a lot to you.
Day 25 – Someone who impacts your life regularly.
Day 26 – How have you changed in the past two years?
Day 27 – What is something you need to forgive yourself for?
Day 28 – What is something you need to stop blaming yourself for?
Day 29 – Something you could never get tired of doing.
Day 30 – A photo of you today, and 3 good things that have happened during this blog challenge.

I'm so excited to do this!  Writing in a blog every day can be very challenging.  As I post my normal posts, I will post these challenges as well.  I hope you join me so we can learn a little about each other!

Friday Blog on Social Parade

Smart and Trendy Moms

Please join me on Social Parade Friday!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Indoor Terrarium

After years of secretly desiring to make one of these, I finally stepped up to the task. An indoor terrarium can be a unique, natural and inexpensive feature that can be added to your home in under an hour.  You can make any size to fit any budget and lifestyle.  It's also great for cat owners, who's cats eat plants!  Let’s get to it!

What You’ll Need
  • A glass jar with a lid (I bought mine at Hobby Lobby for half off at $25.00.  I have seen smaller yet still impressive sizes at Target for under $20.00.)
  • Sheet Moss
  • Gravel/River Stones/Fish Gravel/Rocks from your back yard
  • Activated or Horticulture Grade Charcoal (I couldn’t find this ANYWHERE so I omitted.  It’s good for moisture and odor control.)
  • Potting Soil (I used moisture control.)
  • 3,5,7 plants depending on the size of the jar.  An uneven number is aesthetically more pleasing to the eye.  Try to get plants that need low light, and like moisture.
  • Place a piece of sheet moss on the bottom of the jar
  • Put a 2” layer of gravel or rock on top of that.  The gravel suits as drainage for the water so the roots of your plants won’t be sitting in water and rot.

  • If you found the activated charcoal, put a 1” layer on top of that.
  • Add another layer of sheet moss, so the soil doesn’t mix with the gravel.

  • Using a plastic cup, scoop some potting soil onto the moss.  Stand your plants next to the jar so you know how tall to put the soil in.  Ideally, you don’t want the plants to touch the side of the jar, but every picture I’ve found, it rarely happens.
  • Take your plants out of their planters.  You may need to pull them apart so you get a smaller plant.
  • Dig a hole in the center of the soil, and start placing your plants in the hole.  Pat the soil around the plants, over the roots back in place.  I added a little more soil at this point.
  • With a spray bottle, spray the plants and soil until they’re damp, not drenched.  You can also squirt down any soil that crept up onto the sides.
  • Clean the inside of the jar with newspaper, and replace the lid.
  • If your terrarium becomes too foggy, remove the lid for a few hours to dry out the soil.  Feel the soil every couple of weeks to see how dry it is and if you need to re-spray.
  • Remove any yellow leaves that may grow.

There you have it!  A wonderful, natural piece of artwork for your home!

Thursday Blog Hopping

Obviously MARvelous

Bassgiraffe's Thoughts Thursday Blog Hop

Pregnancy and Baby 411 Fab Friends Thursday Blog Hop

Follow Me for Thursday Blog Hops!  I promise to follow back!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Wardrobe Malfunction

I’m seriously wondering at what point, my daughter accumulated a better wardrobe than me.  I used to go out and drop a buck on an outfit for the weekend party, or wherever I was going.  Even the random, yet consistent, occasional shirt or pants I’d throw in during my ‘grocery’ trip to Target has diminished, and has now been replaced by the ‘cute shirt that Aubrie just HAS to wear to that birthday party this weekend,’ purchase.  I’d replace that ‘extra’ $7.99 bag of Bertolli meal in bag with two Circo shirts for the same price.  I’ll make tuna again. 
I mean, those cute strappy sandals that light up come in both purple AND red, but Aubrie can’t wear purple shoes with a red outfit.  She’d look like a member of the ‘Red Hat Society’.   So she just has to have both.   Besides, buying two pairs of her shoes still cost the same (if not less) than ONE pair of shoes for me.  And let’s face it; I’m not perusing the new local-band bar anymore so I don’t need those new platform Steve Madden-hooker shoes.  Maybe for Mother’s day.
The new shiny piggy tail holders replaced my yearly purchase of a new curling iron.  The glue-like plaster mixture of hairspray and hair isn’t all that gross. Where’s the brillo pad?
The mountain of fluffy tutu’s that Costco carries, replaces my new blingy belts that I used to get at those ‘at home clothes’ parties.
My fake ‘Miss Me’ jeans have been replaced by packs of sports bras, yoga shirts and gym shorts.  After all I need to still FIT in to the fake ‘Miss Me’ jeans.
The sequence and bling that used to twinkle in my closet, has mysteriously disappeared and re-appeared into Aubrie’s.  It shines so bright that even Tinkerbell herself would have to wear sunglasses.
When did it all happen?  Where was the shift that replaced my purses with hers?  I wonder as I dig through the bottom of my once prized Coach purse, burrowing through moistened globs of crushed cheez-its and water from her sippy cup that spilled, trying to locate that one die-cast heart-shaped acrylic bracelet with glitter embedded in it that she swears is in there.
I wipe it down with a wipey and hand it to her, looking up at me with those big blue eyes and round sweet-cheeks.  I pass the Charlotte-Russe store with all the too-young-for-me clothes that I’m just dying to fit into again.  I’ll do 5 more squats on the smith machine.  I think as I head towards the Mrs. Fields cookie bar right across the aisle. 

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Gym - Week 1

My first week of re-dieting and re-exercising was easier than I expected, and harder than I expected.  It was easy getting to the gym, but once I got there it was hard as hell to get the right kind of workout in.  I fumbled over my feet as I walked onto the gym floor, trying to decide what to do first.  I  put on this face like my shit doesn’t stink, and act  like I know what I’m doing…but I’m secretly wanting push over all the tall, thin, beautiful ladies on the stair climbers who’s asses you could bounce a quarter off of.
I think back to when I last trained, I was going to the gym 5 days a week for an hour and a half maybe two hours at a time.  I would do a 5 minute warm-up, free-weights or machines for 40 minutes and at least a 40 minute cardio workout.  Ok then, I think to myself. So I hop on the treadmill, bump it up to a 14 incline at 2.3 speed.  After all, that’s what I used to do for 40 minutes.  I could handle this.  Before the treadmill even inclines to the top, my feet are kicking each other and as I strained to catch myself from falling off completely, I accidentally knocked my water bottle off the machine and it flies behind me into an elliptical.  Well, shit.
I finally made it through 5 minutes and decided to work on my upper body on the free weights.  I soon discover that not only because I haven’t done this in 3 months, the fact that I started an all protein-no carb-detox-diet, I’m only pushing 2/3rds the weight I used to.  How much time does it take to lose muscle anyway?  I wonder.  I’m able to finish all my sets, but I had to do it on lighter weights.  And, by the time I was even thinking about doing cardio, my muscles were already feeling sore.
I hop on the death machine again in an attempt to do some cardio.  After all, I did it for 5 minutes already, I knew what to expect.  No tripping this time, but I convinced myself that I did enough, cut it short at 20 minutes.  Sigh.
I ended up skipping two workout days, so I only went three times last week.  It did get easier though, and today, I actually did a full workout.  I even broke out the kettlebell.
The harder part was the diet.
To shock my body into ‘health mode’, and to get rid of all the junk that’s been in my body, I did an all protein and veggie diet for the week.  By no means am I qualified to tell all of you that this is what you should be doing.  I just know based on my personal physique, this works for me.  If you want to try it, go-ahead, but it may not result in anything for you.  Below is a list that I compiled of foods that I ate:
  • Eggs/Egg Whites
  • Chicken
  • Turkey (no deli meat)
  • Fish
  • Whey protein
  • Black beans
  • Any and all vegetable EXCEPT carrots and corn
  • Almonds
  • Olive oil
  • Natural Peanut Butter
  • Water
  • Coffee with splenda
*NO sugar, NO breads, NO fruit
*Splenda, I can’t believe it’s not butter and Pico de Gallo were used as seasonings.
I ate 5 meals a day, which is supposed to be a healthy balance of protein, carbs and fats.  Carbs in this case being veggies.  A typical day looked like this:
  • Meal 1:  2 egg/3egg white scrambled, with handful of almonds, coffee.
  • Meal 2: Post workout whey protein shake/ 2 cups of edemame (soy beans), water.
  • Meal 3: Tuna fish with relish and horseradish (no bread!!), green salad with oil and vinegar, water.
  • Meal 4: Whey Protein shake, 1 whole small cucumber, almonds, water.
  • Meal 5: Chicken with black beans and pico de gallo, almonds, water.
Besides a few cheats (I get midnight munchies BAD!) I stayed pretty much on track.  HOWEVER, I know those few cheats means that my system isn’t completely clean.  For me it’s just a matter of telling myself that I want the body more than food!
Overall, my first week back on track went better than I expected (the diet), and worse than I expected (the gym).  I ended up losing 3 lbs, which is a pretty big deal for my weight-loss history.  I NOW know what I need to work on for this second week coming up.  I need to drink more water, at least a gallon a day, and I need to GET RID OF ALL THE CHOCOLATE IN THE HOUSE.  Will I do this by eating it?  Maybe, maybe not.  After all, I want to be able to play quarters off of MY ass!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Organic – What Does it Really Mean?

If you’re like me, you try to buy organic, free-range and natural products for yourself and your family.  However it was a little confusing to me about what these products actually meant.  Do I want to buy just organic eggs?  Or eggs from chickens that have the label “free Range” on it?  When I do make a trek to Whole Foods, there are a ton of products offered such as ‘natural’ and ‘organic-fed, free range’.  It all sounds good, but what does it all really mean? 
To grow any kind of crop and label it ‘organic’, farmers must adhere to national organic standards specified from the National Organic Program (NOP), and comply with the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA), which are a set of standards set by the Department of Agriculture, (USDA).    Phew!  Now that I got all the acronyms out of the way, let’s talk about what the standards are.
In order to grow organic crops, the land must not have prohibited substances applied to it for at least three years before harvest.  However, the list of approved substances does contain synthetic substances.  So, if you do not want these synthetics, then you need to look for the ‘natural’ labels, but keep in mind that ‘natural’ does not always mean that the product is organic.  To see lists of prohibited and allowed substances for growing organic crops, click here. 
I also want my food to be ‘healthy’ which The USDA states that in order for a product to be labeled healthy, it must meet certain criteria that limit the amounts of fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium and require certain amounts of minerals and/or vitamins. 
Organic livestock must not be given growth hormones or antibiotics for any reason.  They are allowed to be given vaccines to treat sickness, but if the medicine is on the prohibited list then they may not be sold as organic.  Animals must be fed products that are 100% organic, and they may contain vitamin and mineral supplements.  Animals must have access to outdoors, including pastures for cattle and other cud-chewing animals.  They may and will be confined for reasons of health, safety, the animal’s stage of production or to protect the water or soil quality. 
For milk to be labeled organic, the cows must be managed organically for at least 12 months before their milk can be sold.
So then I learned that just because the animals may have access to pastures, it does not mean that they are treated humanely.  The standards state what the animals need to be fed, not their living conditions, or how large their pastures have to be.
O.k.  So then I want something that’s ‘free-range’ right?  I want my meat to be organic AND come from happy cows.  My mind flashes to those commercials of the California cows on the farms playing tricks on one another.  Well, in doing research, I learn that free-range is not necessarily humane either.  A chicken farmer can cut a hole in his chicken coop and fence in a 5’ x 5’ cement slab and label his chickens free-range.  Chickens, can be free-range, but because free-range does not mean organic, they can still be genetically altered to grow abnormally big.  So much bigger, so fast that their legs can’t hold all their weight and they become crippled and disabled by the time they are ready for slaughter. For more information on that, read this article here. 
The American Humane Association introduced its own “Free Farmed” labeling program called the “Animal Welfare Standards”.  It provides “third-party, independent verification that certified producers’ care and handling of farm animals meet the science-based animal welfare standards of American Humane Association.”  However, this program is strictly voluntary by farmers.  To read more about the American Humane Association, click here. 
(Without getting political, I highly recommend the documentary, Food Inc.  It dives into the companies that monopolize and manufacture most of our farming, which they may not want us, the public, to see.  It is a very disturbing eye opener.)
So now I’m really bummed out.  Everything I thought I was doing right doesn’t necessarily mean that the livestock were treated fairly.   And, I don’t think it is possible to buy humane chicken or beef AND it be a natural and organic product.  I’d be looking for labels that stated “Certified USDA Organic, Naturally grass-fed, approved and certified free-ranged by the AHA…oh yeah, it’s healthy for you too.”  How many farms out there are doing THAT I wonder…all at a low cost to the consumer?
I think that if you are ethically inclined to buy humane products, search for local farmers that claim to be so.  Tour their farms and see for yourself, then you can buy directly from them.  Otherwise I think you have to choose what you are willing to budge on when buying a product.  Don’t want synthetics?  Buy natural, but your food may be processed and not necessarily organic.  If you want organic, then buy organic, but it may contain synthetics.
There are also other alternatives; I have two neighbors that have their own chickens to harvest for eggs…AND we live in an HOA subdivision.  Apparently, in my area you can have chickens as pets for their eggs and they are not considered livestock.  Also, grow your own produce organically, you can do research on chemical-free pesticides.  Become vegetarian or vegan.  Like I said I think you have to pick your battle when it comes to food.  If you have specific diet needs, it’s spelled out for you.  Otherwise, judge for yourself what you’re willing to give and take.


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