The holidays were so very HAPPY, hectic, exhausting with visitors and decorating, shopping, eating and spending quality time with friends and family. Now that things are semi back to normal, it is always nice to reflect on the year and then gear up for the new one, with high hopes of attaining our goals and dreams.
I love setting goals and planning out my dreams for the year, and fortunately I stay pretty true to them. My goals for 2017 were to have a healthy baby, done, lose that baby wait, gone, and have some financial freedom – that is a work in progress but at least the goal is set in motion.
For 2018, I wanted to focus on my mental and physical fitness. I want to be stronger, physically and mentally and more energetic in order to keep up with my kids. So I did what so many of us do to start the new year and that is join a gym. I know, I know, I will probably stop going in a month, but I figure since I can’t consistently work out uninterrupted for 30 minutes, (mommy this and mommy that), I need to have a place to go, a space free of children, so therefore I joined the gym. It is close by and open 24 hours so I am hoping I can squeeze in a workout in the wee hours of the morning, prior to kids waking up and going to work. This also means I will probably have to go to bed by 8am every night but hey, I am at the very least going to make the effort.
For the new year, I also wanted to focus more on me, which kind of goes with the mental and physical fitness. So in order to spend more time and focus on my physical and mental well being, I have to give up a few things. I do think this blog is one of them. I enjoy the writing aspect of the blog- it is nice to be a able to journal, but I have to find time from somewhere and since this blog is not a priority, it will have to fall to the way side…for now.
In the meantime, set your goals and live your dreams, they are never out of reach. Have a wonderful New Year and maybe I will check back in when I am ready.
Well it’s been a hot minute since I last wrote. Lots of changes in life – new job for my husband, new job for me and with an entire household recovering from some nasty viruses (our sitter and Nana included) November seemed to be a month of just trying to survive! And now with the holidays getting revved up, I have been so short on time that writing seems difficult to squeeze in, but from now on, I am going to do my best to post at least once a week.
First the weight:
I actually haven’t lost any more or gained any more. I am back down to pre baby weight and even though I would like to lose an additional 10 lbs. for the heck of it, holiday food (eggnog) is every where and it seems to stick to me! My solution to maintain my weight has been to limit my carb intake, particularly during the week, always have a protein packed breakfast, and then splurge a bit on the weekend, (more eggnog).
What is it about the holidays that make everyone at work want to put candy and baked goods in front of my face? I just can’t resist the peppermint bark and gingerbread, to me peppermint bark IS Christmas! That and eggnog 🙂 So overall my sugar intake definitely increases during this time of year, but I have been a bit better about baking and cooking more at home. I have also made sure to do more salads and veggies for lunch. Resisting the holidays treats just isn’t going to happen for me- I used to be a Grinch, but now that I have kids, the Grinch is in hiding and I say, bring on the holiday cheer- including the sugar!
There is so much to do during this time of year. We have already visited Santa twice, (apparently Santa likes to hang out in Denver for the month of December) and we have attended two lighting events. And it is only December 3. This year the holidays have been much more fun. My son is three so he is full on into Christmas. So much so we are now at the age that we can threaten our son with the “no visit from Santa/no presents” and he straightens right up. Even when he makes a mistake, he asks mom to “not tell Santa”. If only this threat could last throughout the year….
We did spend some time this weekend donating toys. I think it is so important to teach children to give. My son didn’t want to let go of anything at first, but once we got started, he was okay with giving toys to other kids to play with. As much as he loves his superhero costumes and toys, my son seemed to have much more enjoyment in decorating the house and attending holiday events and actually spending time with family. While going through his toys, he also knew he was scoring extra brownie points from Santa, (and Mom and Dad). Despite the strong presence of advertisements and the “buy, buy, buy” mentality during this time of year, it is easy to lose sight of the true meaning and spirit of Christmas. My son is only three, but I believe he is not too young to learn goodwill, no one is, and really, that is what Christmas is all about. Here’s to Christmas cheer!
Bring a new season and all, I finally got my hair cut. It has been at least 2 years since having an actual styled cut. There have been a few trims but a real cut with style was in order. Now having turned 40 and had my second baby, I really needed a change. I didn’t do anything drastic- just a slightly angled bob but I did cut off several inches, maybe 8-10 and it definitely made me sad.
What is it about hair? I think especially for women, we have such a bond with our hair. Not every one does and I envy those women who can pull off a pixie cut and not give it a second thought. But most of us struggle with finding the right cut for our face shape, our style and most importantly one that fits our life style. Long hair is coveted amongst most women and unfortunately most of us don’t have naturally glorious thick hair (yes I am looking at you Joanna Gaines- jealous). I for one, for most of my life, have had long straight hair. There is not an ounce of volume in my hair so if it becomes too long, it’s literally just dead weight, and ends up making me feel dragged down, heavy and like Cousin It (see The Addams Family- an old black and white sitcom based on a monster family), or the girl from The Ring. But once my locks are cut, there is a sense of not only physical lightness, but freedom. Freedom to not have to worry about styling it, or carrying around the sheer weight of my thick hair. Also, I can go longer without washing it. I did still keep it long enough to pull it back into a pony tail so at least I still have that. But when losing that much hair, there is a sense of loss. Long hair really symbolizes femininity. It goes back to biblical days when women’s hair was their crowning glory. And ultimately it then circles back to youth. Long beautiful hair represents youth, in turn fertility and thus men find this characteristic attractive. That’s not to say all men find long hair the epitome of beauty but the statistics show they do prefer long hair and this really is instinctual. But beauty trends, along with hair styles come and go. And being 2017, you would think hair should not be that big of a deal our hair somewhat represents our beliefs (maybe keeping it long reflects your more traditional side, whereas cutting it short shows you are unconventional), and our hair reflects our personalities. So it’s no surprise that changing it from your normal daily uniform has a big impact.
Long hair although it can be attractive and has the ability to showcase a variety of styles (if you have the time and money) also has a lot of cons. Long hair is expensive to maintain. I mean the amount of products us woman (and some men) spend on hair care is ridiculous, especially long hair. And most people get their hair cut, trimmed or styled professionally every few months if not more frequently. It also can get in the way. One of the main deciding factors of cutting off my hair was due to my 8 month old little girl constantly pulling and tugging on my hair, putting it into her mouth or just plain pulling it out. And then there is the regrowth. After having a baby, your hair sheds an obscene amount, like so much I thought I was going bald. Now that it’s over, the regrowth has begun and it is not fun to have tiny baby hairs peaking out or sticking straight up out of your head. I will give myself at least 6 months to a year before my hair is any where near normal again.
Since cutting it, I use different makeup, even my outfit selections are a bit different. In fact, by having shorter hair, I tend to dress more “girly” and wear more makeup to appear more feminine. I didn’t realize I do this until actually looking back on my fashion choices and how I dressed and wore makeup once getting my hair cut. And I believe I do it because deep down, I feel like short hair makes me look like a boy. I know I don’t look anything like a boy but I guess I don’t feel as pretty or as confident as I normally feel with long hair. So now that I can see this, I am going to try and embrace the shorter hair. I will wear it confidently, and will be more aware of my fashion choices to accentuate my hair style rather than distract from my shorter hair. I not only need to do this for myself but I should set an example for my daughter. She needs to know that long hair, although it can be pretty, is not the only choice for a girl and her hair can be a fashion statement as well as a reflection of a phase in her life. She should feel pretty and confident no matter the length of her hair and should be open to trying out styles and cuts to suit her personality, rather than adhering to the Rapunzel prototype.
Don’t get me wrong, I love long hair and will most likely end up growing it out long again, but until then, I will welcome this change, and now I don’t have an excuse to hide behind a curtiain of hair.
My last blog was a short and sweet one on sweaters. And since I am still carrying on with the fall weather theme, I thought I would keep with the fashion theme and write about my FAVORITE shoe of choice, which really aren’t shoes but BOOTS! I love boots. I love knee highs, over the knee, ankle boots, booties and even cowboy boots! I actually got married in pink cowboy boots which I have worn many times outside the wedding and and to this day, they are one of my favorite pair of boots. Which is kind of strange because I am nothing like a cowgirl- I don’t wear cowboy hats (unless its for a costume), Wranglers are not my thing and I don’t even like country music but I suppose if there is one thing western about me (besides being from Colorado and loving the mountains) is that I can rock a pair of cowboy boots with pretty much any outfit.
I decided to splurge on two pairs of boots for the fall season this year. I always have a pair of taupe suede booties. My most recent pair were my main maternity shoe. They were extremely worn in and stretched out making them too big for me now. I am so into this style shoe, I believe this is my fourth pair of this type of bootie. They are so useful- the color goes with everything since they are a really nice neutral. The suede can get worn in and dirty, and they still look nice. They are short enough to wear underneath a boot leg jean and look great with skinny jeans. There is a slight heel so they give me a little lift. And actually the shape of the bootie is very similar to cowboy boots. I wear them with long and short skirts, and even jean shorts in the summer. They really are my perfect go with everything shoe.
The second pair of boots I purchased for the season are an over the knee suede black heeled boot. Now I would normally never wear something like this but I had a complete nineties flashback and nostalgia kicked in when I saw these boots. I had a pair similar to these in high school. They were a slouchy black suede boot with ties at the top. I wore these slouchy black boots with ruffle collared bell sleeve shirts- apparently in the nineties I was channeling my inner pirate, (see the Seinfeld episode about the ruffle shirt- and yes I am totally dating myself). But besides the nostalgia brought on by this pirate-esque boot, they also fit so perfectly. It can be difficult to find a tall boot that fits well over my calf and since these did, I had to get them. And they were on sale – that alone is enough to convince me I need to buy a pair of boots. I can’t wait to wear these with a couple of my fall dresses. They are slim enough on my legs that tights and nylons are not necessary (thank God because I can’t stand nylons) and they actually stay up while walking since they are fitted just right. I will probably wear these with a couple of skirts and maybe some leggings with tunics. So even though they would not be my usual boot of choice, I think I will have plenty of options for these!
Another favorite boot of mine that I can’t seem to find, are combat boots. I have a pair that are so beaten up- they have been re-soled twice. There is no more tread and barely a sole. These combat boots were the boots I wore to Burning Man, carried me through many Denver Cruiser nights (for costumes and riding my cruiser all over the city), and were worn year round, not just the winters. So not only do I love the style, these in particular have a ton of sentimental value. I guess nothing could really replace them. I keep debating about getting a pair of Doc Martens since they would probably last me through much more wear and tear than my original combat boots, but I am not sure they would wear in as nicely. They may be too clunky for me, and maybe too young and trendy for my age but I am still on the look out for a similar pair of tried and true combat boots, but I am certain if I do find another pair, they couldn’t live up to my originals.
It is still fairly warm here in Colorado but in the morning and late afternoon, there is definitely a chill in the air. The mornings are much cooler and as the nights get dark earlier, the temperatures start to drop, making it perfect temperatures for breaking out my cozy sweaters. I am very prone to throwing on one of my cashmere cardigans. I have several from J. Crew and though they are expensive, every so often you can find them on sale. I used to get one every year, but haven’t purchased one in a few years since the last time, I purchased two. I have had them for years, and have even repaired my beloved navy one a couple of times. The nice thing about these are they are lightweight, but extra warm, small and thin enough to throw into a bag, super soft and they come in a variety of colors. They are also a nice and easy option to throw on over a t-shirt or tank top for the office . I have s few from Nordstrom Rack as well but I will be honest, they don’t get as much use as J. Crew cashmere cardigans. I personally prefer the three quarter sleeve version but I am not opposed to anything cashmere.
The cooler weather is definitely welcome, although we should still be hitting the 80s for the upcoming week. The last few weeks have been very dry and hot, only adding fuel to these ever burning fires. It seems the smoke will never go away. I can’t even imagine what people are doing who are located in actual fire zones. How are you able to breathe or see? The air here is very hazy and my sneezing and itchy eyes and nose have been pretty miserable, so any lower temperatures help in the allergy department. There is a small chance of getting some moisture this weekend but I am not sure what effect it will have, if any, on our parched land.
In the meantime, I will get ready for sweater weather by pulling out my trusty go-tos and some recently purchased ones from Free People that I am so excited to break in- big, soft and flowy sleeves seem right on trend this season – and I may need to update my cashmere cardigan collection as well. Thank God there is online shopping!
Just the first weekend of September and there were already hints of yellow amongst the trees, fall is officially here!
Unfortunately, with all of the fires happening around the north west, Colorado has been socked in with smoke making the skies look hazy and brown, hiding the mountain views and creating a fiery orange filter on the sun.
Fires are our biggest concern here in the west. There has to be just the right amount of moisture to keep our mountains green and protected from turning into tinder. But it seems every summer, the threat of fires is always a looming concern and we never have enough rain. If we do happen to get some rain, the landscape turns green and the foliage becomes overrun, which then dries out and we become an easy target for fires. Of course fire can and does naturally occur but what bothers me the most is that many of these fires are started by people, making a majority of these fires easily avoidable. We have (careless) people that start fires (accidentally) by a cigarette being thrown out the window, (yea, its 2017 and apparently people still smoke cigarettes AND litter???) or an inexperienced (not so bright) camper decides to make a fire where there is almost always a fire ban, and then you have the pyros who just like to start fires. All three types of idiots make for high risk in Colorado and with the increasing population in our beautiful state, it’s no wonder that fires happen frequently. So what to do? You could enforce stronger penalties for those people who litter and throw cigarettes for starters, but doubtful that littering is high on the law enforcement list. So this is me on my soap box saying PLEASE DO NOT LITTER and STOP SMOKING CIGARETTES! Seriously, these are probably my biggest pet peeves, littering might be number 1! Until then, all you can do is lots of rain dancing and pray for the best.
When fall begins, I always get into more hearty foods, like casserole, chicken pot pie, and lasagna but now that I try and avoid carbs most of the time, I needed a low carb alternative to these heavier, heartier meals. So as I was searching the internet for low carb recipes, I came across a low carb recipe for a taco bake, courtesy of http://www.food.com.
This sounded perfect for the holiday weekend. This bake resembles a sort of Mexican lasagna. It’s not carb free, (it has a healthy dose of dairy) but there are no noodles, pasta or rice used. Instead, the “crust” consists of 1 egg, cream, and cream cheese. I did half the recipe since it makes for 8, and I still had plenty of leftovers with three of us eating it, (even with a healthy amount of second servings for the adults). Here is the recipe with my alternatives and tweaks, adjusted to serve 4:
2 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 egg & 2 egg whites
1⁄4 cup half and half
1 tablespoon taco seasoning
5 to 6 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded
1 lb ground turkey
3 tablespoon taco seasoning
1⁄4 cup tomato sauce
4 ounces chopped green chilies
4 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded
*I added 1/2 can black beans, 1/2 cup corn and some hot sauce to the topping but feel free to add whatever you like to the topping mixture!
For the crust, beat the cream cheese and eggs until smooth.
Add the half and half and seasoning.
Grease a 9″x13″ baking dish (I used PAM); spread the cheese over the bottom.
Pour in the egg mixture as evenly as possible.
Bake at 375ºF, 25 minutes.
Let stand 5 minutes before adding the topping.
For the topping, brown turkey.
Stir in the seasoning, tomato sauce and chiles.
Spread over the crust.
Top with cheese.
Reduce oven to 350ºF and bake another 10 minutes or so until hot and bubbly.
I served mine with homemade guacamole. Add any toppings of your choice.
The taco bake came out great and was not too heavy or too filling. My husband and toddler ate it with tortilla chips but the bake itself was plenty hearty for me. I wouldn’t make this every week since it’s not completely slow carb friendly due to the cheeses, but if you want to lower the calories even more you could easily sub in soy or vegan cheese, and it would probably taste just as good.
As I mentioned in a previous blog, Fall is my favorite time of year, so entries this month will focus on all things fall!
I will start my first blog on all things fall with my favorite drink of the season, chai tea! I am not much of a coffee drinker and I actually don’t care so much for pumpkin spice, (shhh, blasphemy!) so tea it is! I enjoyed iced green tea this summer but once September begins, I really get into the Iced Chai Tea Lattes at Starbucks. Chai tea is a black tea and contains plenty of antioxidants, which aids in inflammation. It also contains spices as cinnamon, clove, cardamom and black pepper, which are also beneficial. These spices are known to aid in digestion and “warm” the body. I do like the chai tea iced this early on in the season since our temperatures here in Colorado are still in the 90’s. In order to stay true to my slow carbing, I do hold off on cream, and have skim/low fat or almond milk and limit the pumps of flavor- the syrup contains loads of sugar, definitely not slow carb friendly so I don’t take Starbucks trips daily but just once a week as a treat! You can also make your own – I have tried the chai mix from Trader Joe’s that is pretty good, although a little too heavy on the creamer and sweetener for me, or you can do it the good old fashioned way -buying tea bags and brewing your own cup.
I am a fan of the Yogi tea brand! They are organic and have lots of different types of chai- black, red, green, etc. Click here to find where you can get yours!
Make sure to let the bag (or leaves) steep for at least 5 minutes,
And (if needed) add cream or milk of your choice, and / or natural sweeteners, (agave and honey are my favorite!
UPDATE: I just made my first tea of the season and used the Tazo Organic Chai. Used about a spoonful of agave and low fat milk. Poured it over ice and voila! Pretty good! Slightly spicy- you can definitely taste the cinnamon- although not as spicy as Starbucks. But it certainly made my kitchen smell warm, cozy and delicious- I need a candle that smells like that.
Since I didn’t spend nearly as much time on meditation as I thought I would this month, I thought I would do my last August entry on a few favorites. These are things I enjoyed throughout the summer. With summer coming to a close, I thought it would be fun to list some favorites of the season.
Beauty: My Lorac pro palette 3 – I mean as you can see, besides being beat to heck, the thing is practically at pan on every color. I am now using the Pro palette 2 in conjunction with the 3 but I have to admit, I am strongly considering repurchasing the 3 because I love it that much. I can do any kind of eye look (every day to dramatic), liner too, and I even use it for blush, under eye powder and highlight. I don’t contour much but I have used the shade cool taupe for a subtle contour.
Body: Lavender scrub from Trader Joe’s finally restocked this summer! So after a year of waiting to locate it and get my hands on it, it finally came into my local Trader Joes and I use it all the time. Love the scent, love the scrubbiness, all around my favorite body scrub.
Bits and Bobs: Bamboo shower stool. I know, really random. But I know many of you ladies out there (and maybe some male cyclists swimmers 🙂 ), have all been there. You try and shave the legs but there is no where to hold your leg up. I have a standing shower and it didn’t occur to me that I needed something to set my foot on to shave until I wasn’t pregnant any more. I moved into my home while pregnant and literally never shaved because bending over was such an issue. But once I wasn’t pregnant any more, every time I would shower, I kept thinking I really need something to set my foot on. And of course, I would forget this need and relive this annoying void in my life until I finally sucked it up and purchased small bamboo stool to fit into my shower, and I absolutely love it. It may have been one of the best purchases ever. Such a small thing but huge impact- definitely no regrets.
Book: Seven Habits of Highly Effective People – this read was the kick off to my summer and to my motivation in losing weight and the revamping of the blog itself! I would like to re read this highly inspiring book but I have to get through a couple other reads first.
Baby: Mum mums – Mum mums are rice crackers shaped like surfboards that come in a variety of flavors. Ever since my daughter got her first tooth at just about 7 months, she has been loving these things, (I also give her pizza crust, I know, mom of the year award). Get them at your local grocery store or Target. Learn more about them here:
Bon Voyage: this summer for travel and every day essential would be my Petunia Pickle Bottom diaper bag – this bag is great for many reasons.
1. The multiple straps make the bag very versatile and convertible so you can use it as a cross body, a shoulder bag or as a backpack, which when traveling, I love using it as a backpack- it keeps you hands free and the multiple pockets stores loads of things for yourself and your kids. I did add the handle strap on the top of the bag for added convenience.
2. It has a diaper pad built in to the front of the bag which can detach for throwing in the wash or tossing it separately into a purse, and;
3. Lots of pockets to separate baby items and your own things. Not to mention it doesn’t look too much like a diaper bag so I don’t feel too dorky carrying it.
As August comes to a close this week, there is a hint of fall in the air. Fall is probably my favorite time of year here in Colorado. I love the cooler nights and beautiful warm days. When I was younger, I always loved school starting up and wearing all my new clothes. I love fall fashion- boots, light jackets and scarves. The leaves begin to turn gold and red, football has returned and the season itself is just cozy. I don’t so much like the days getting shorter but us Coloradans are so very lucky we get so many sunny days per year, more sunny days than Arizona! In fact, people who don’t live in Colorado, often think Colorado is just a year long ski season (like lots of snow,) but if you don’t live in a mountain town over 9000 feet, you are likely to experience pretty amazing whether up until Thanksgiving, and very mild winters. On any given morning, you can see a foot of snow outside and the sun will melt it away and you would never have known it snowed at all by lunch. I have personally been witness to sitting outside by the pool, on a 75 degree day, then by the time I headed back into my apartment, and looked out my sliding door, a snow storm is brewing, snowflakes and all, while Im standing there in my bathing suit, in June.
Since I grew up here in Colorado, and a small mountain town at that, I always swore as soon as I was able, I would live somewhere there wasn’t snow. I couldn’t stand dealing with the cold, and even more so driving in it. So after college, I moved to Phoenix, Arizona. Now I did enjoy the year long warm weather for a couple of years, but then days, seasons and years started melding together. I could never remember if something happened at Christmas or Fourth of July, because every day was pretty much the same. In Colorado I came to recognize periods of my life by seasons – it was easy to think back to a time in my life and relate to the weather at the time, or the season, the landscape, even the clothes I was wearing. But in Arizona, after eight years, they all blobbed together and I could not tell you any distinguishing factors in my life for these eight years, except maybe by what job I had at the time.
In Arizona, I started to miss Colorado snow days, the changing leaves and the holidays actually feeling like the holidays. I had no idea I would miss the seasons so much. I was thrilled to move back to Colorado and since I returned to Denver, I actually came to love and appreciate Colorado even more because of this. It is true that absence makes the heart grow fonder. The weather is very nice here, you get a nice mix of hot, warm, comfortable, cold, and very rarely, freezing. But despite the mostly temperate weather, you still experience seasons, and seasons all have their own feel, their own character and their own qualities that identify times and phases in your life. Now back to our high number of sunny days-
I am a sun worshipper. I can sit on a beach for days and not do a thing, include swim in the ocean. I am perfectly happy laying by a pool and never experiencing the chlorinated water. So Colorado is quite perfect since there is not too much water in these parts but plenty of sun. Arizona had the sun, but since practically half the year is over a hundred degrees, being outside is pretty limited, (although I did spend A LOT of time by my pool, no matter how sweltering it was- yes I have sat outside in 119 degree weather!). I tend to do better when I am outside as much as possible. The sun here is very intense so vitamin D is not missing from anyone’s diet so long as you spend any amount of time outside, and judging from the ever increasing population here, people do appreciate that. It effects our moods and overall, makes us a pretty happy people.
There is no end to the amount of outdoor activity you can do here- biking, hiking, skating, sledding, skiing, snow boarding, kayaking, paddle boarding- you name it, you can see it everywhere here, even in a city park! I swear Wash Park hires REI models to run, play volleyball and hang out there to keep every one motivated and in great shape! It is fact that sun makes you happy. It’s good energy and I think I need more of it. Other benefits include: healthy bones, builds immunity, and lowers blood pressure.
Since moving to the ‘burbs, I have not been outside (as far as physically active) as much as I would like, and I am just not a gym person. Me and the family do try and take walks throughout the week after dinner and we do try and get out on the weekends to do some light hiking with the kids, but I miss riding my bike to work and running the park every couple days. I do think I will be able to do more next summer since my baby will be more mobile and not as fragile. So until then, I will try and soak up as much of the last of the summer sun. I will vow to spend at least 30 minutes a day outside and maybe even step away from my desk to experience a little more vitamin D break on week days.
The sun does not shine for a few trees and flowers, but for the whole wide world’s joy.