Food Habits and Saving Dinner

One of my friends asked me the other day, as I ate chopped up raw veggies with  hummus for lunch, if I was “still on a diet” to which I proclaimed it’s a lifestyle change, not a diet (unless you have cake, because then I will want that).

lifestyle diet quote

I mentioned in this post  that I am working on being healthier and losing weight and today I wanted to share some of the most best steps I took and a service that really helped:

  • GRADUAL change. I’ve known I wanted to change things for quite a while, but to make it a lifestyle change you’ve got to be careful.  I was a TERRIBLY picky eater, and I spent about 7 months forcing myself to try new foods and develop a palate before I even attempted a diet. I also had to ease off bread. Man, I love bread. But you just don’t need it at every meal.
  • INVOLVEMENT in the process. I go to the farmer’s market and pick out good stuff that’s in season, and I grow a bit of food myself, which forces me to stare at my choices a lot more then running through the grocery store and grabbing the regular go-to’s does. The compost bin system I started is a surprisingly help too- if I have nothing to throw in the bin, then I know I didn’t eat any fruits/veggies that day.
  • PORTION control. This is a huge thing that a service called Saving Dinner has done for me, because they give you weekly meals portioned out to just 2 people. And cooking for just 2 people is surprisingly difficult. (There’s options to choose a menu for more people, but it’s just me and Matt at our house.)
  • OUTSIDE help. This is the other thing that Saving Dinner did for me. Saving Dinner is a menu planning service, which is perfect during a lifestyle transition time. I’m super excited to cook healthy meals, but if you’ve never done that before then you just don’t know what to cook, and Saving Dinner will help.

saving dinner logo

Some of my favoritest new meals, to which Saving Dinner provided me the recipes for in their weekly menu mailer are:

  • Grilled Salmon with Cucumber Salsa (ps- omg. cucumber salsa. you neeeeed this)
  • Chicken with Avocado Sauce (you can make avocados into a sauce!!)
  • Turkey and Vegetable Omelet (breakfast for dinner, hooray!)
  • Chicken and Vegetable Kabobs (food on a stick is always fun)
  • Lemony Pasta (yes, I still eat pasta. I just can’t quit you, pasta.)

So it’s nothing crazy or bland, it’s good whole meals that leave me full and happy. And it’s helpful to use a service because, for example, I just forgot that kabobs are a thing so I’ve literally never made them before. Then we had friends over for a bbq and made our own veggie and chicken kabobs instead of cheeseburgers and everyone was still happy.

eat better feel better quote

Here’s the run down on Saving Dinner:

Saving Dinner offers Classic, Paleo, Low Carb, and Daytime menus delivered to you each week via email. Each menu contains shopping lists and nutritional information, and you get lots of emails in between with tips and tricks for things to add-in to your food and things to substitute with. And even more, you get your own log in to the site so you can  pick and choose which meals want each night and plan for the whole week ahead of time. It’ll even generate your shopping list for you once you do so! I highly recommend you give it a try.

 

So tell me- what works for you when making big changes in your eating habits? Any good lunch and dinner suggestions? Are you a farmer’s market lover too?diet goal setting

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saving dinnerSaving Dinner provided me with 3 months of access to their site, but all opinions (and bread-less stomachs) are mine- this is a service that I really do think is great.

High 5 for Friday

Every now and then I link up with Lauren Elizabeth top list my top 5 for the week, so here’s what’s going on in my world right now:

1. I scored this sweet 7×10 rug from Bed, Bath and Beyond for just $90 (!!!) and it arrived on Monday. It is absolutely perfect in my living room, and spurred me to rearrange some things and I’ll be reupholstering a bench soon too. (Pro tip: This rug was on clearance and not available in my store but you can’t use a 20% off coupon online even though they don’t restrict clearance items– go into the store and order online with an associate to use the coupon)

grey and beige trellis rug

2. My garden is doing a great job at providing us with a bit of food. I’ve got more herbs then I know what to do with (a sprig of spearmint in my water everyday for the past few weeks…mmm!) and lots of cucumbers right now, my tomatoes are starting to turn red and both types of peppers should be ready in a few weeks too. Success!

backyard garden

3. Matt and I just finished watching the first 2 seasons of Hannibal and it is excellent. If you like horror tv then this is a must watch, every single detail is amazing from the set design to the script.

hannibal-tv-show

4. This past weekend from Saturday-Monday afternoon Matt and I had our nephew over to our house. We adventured to the children’s discovery museum, to a huge petting zoo farm, and to the park. He’s going to be 2 next month so it was really fun (and exhausting!) to have a long weekend slumber party and play all weekend.

jack and matt

5. Tomorrow we’re going on a day trip with 2 of our best friends to their home town and it should be a fun, silly day with good food and good laughs. I’ve been looking forward to it for weeks!

from a weekend getaway a few years ago

from a weekend getaway a few years ago

 

How’s your week been? What’s happening in your world?

GIVEAWAY: Painted Fox (Home Decor Awesomeness)

***This giveaway is now closed– Kelly, congrats on your win!!***

A few weeks ago Painted Fox started following me on Twitter and I ended up spending a good long time gazing longingly at all the amazing stuff in their store, so I put on my big girl pants and sent them an email asking if they’d like to collaborate. And they said YES! :)

The girls behind the store, Christine and Jen, are lovely and so so friendly- I’m thrilled to be able to offer one of YOU  a $50 gift certificate to their store.

giveaway painted fox treasures freeFrom their website:

Painted Fox is an online retailer, specializing in fabulous farmhouse décor! Our eclectic collection of vintage styled treasures has been hand picked for all of the spaces where you live your lovely life…and is sure to add a touch of farmhouse swag to your homestead!    At Painted Fox, it is our mission to offer you an unbeatable selection of home treasures at incredible prices.  

 

They sent me a few cute products to review, but their inventory changes constantly as they hunt down bargains and treasures to share so be sure to visit their site and take a look!

elephant ring holder painted fox

This little elephant now sits above my kitchen sink to hold my rings while I do the dishes, and when he’s not holding rings he still looks neat perking up the window sill.

 

small dish with heart logo

This past weekend my girlfriends and I went to Newport, RI and stayed in a little condo above a beauty shop. The shop was kind enough to leave us each little bags of samples, so now this dish holds them all on my sink. And when the samples are used up, it can switch gears and hold my jewelry and glasses while I shower.

 

small blue painted plate

This plate is absolutely perfect adding a splash of color to our bar while holding wine charms and a bottle opener.

 

And now on to the good part- THE GIVEAWAY! Literally all you need to do is leave a comment below (about anything! tell me how you’d use these accessories, find something on their site you love and share what it is, or just say hi!).  

Make sure to enter your email address so I can get in touch with you, and you’re entered. Winner will be notified Monday July 7th. 

giveaway

Homemade Lavender Lotion

Gift certificates are my favorite, easy, go-to presents for people… but I hate to just hand a card to someone without giving them something to open so I try to add a little trinket to go along with it.

For my sister-in-laws birthday a few weeks ago I went with a little jar of home made lotion, and it was so so easy. If you’ve been following along for a little bit, you know I partnered up with Stephenson Personal Care to develop DIY soap recipes- they recently asked if I wanted to give lotion making a try and I was allllll over it.

Here’s what you’ll need:

home made lotion ingredient recipe

As far as the jar goes, I used a glass jar leftover from some roasted red peppers and just painted the lid with craft paint. I think a salsa jar would work well too– anything with a wide enough opening that you could reach your hand in. It’d work with a pump too, the lotion isn’t super thick.

You can really use any scent you want, and make it any color you want. I went with lavender because I recently gave her some DIY lavender soap so I thought they’d pair well together. Then I followed the instructions on my food coloring box to color the lotion- but don’t worry, it doesn’t make your skin lavender too. :)

 

how to make home made lotion

Once it’s in the jar and colored I add just a small amount of aloe vera gel to give it a little more conditioning (especially in the summer time!) and enough lavender drops that it was even throughout but not overwhelming. You can stir with a spoon or whatever you have on hand.

easy DIY lotion

I used my Silhouette Cameo to cut out a monogram for the lid and a label for the jar, and it looks so so cute. I can’t wait to make a batch for myself!!

home made DIY lotion recipe

So what do you think? What scent would you make it? I was thinking I might try lemon, but something about yellow lotion is a little… unappealing… so maybe I’ll color it blue ;)

 

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Disclosure: I received the Stephenson’s Personal Care lotion base for free but paid for the other ingredients and created the recipe myself. And as always, this is something I’d love doing, and recommend to you, with or without the partnership.

State of Me

My friend Ashlie at Simple Mama in Massachusetts posted today in response to a journal prompt, and I really liked the idea (perhaps because I require all my students to respond to journal prompts throughout the semester? haha),  so I thought I’d respond too.

The prompt is from Danielle from Sometimes Sweet and says: 

This week, write a “State of Me” address. Write about how you’re really doing- what you’ve been thinking, what you’ve been up to. What have you accomplished lately? Where is there room for growth? Where are you right now in life and where are you headed? Current joys, currents sadness…write it all out. Discuss the current state of YOU. 

 

I have a LOT to say about this,  I’ve been really working on me a lot and now that summer’s here I’m working on me even more.

live create tell the story

 

I’ve been getting allergy shots since January. Sometimes I feel like nothing at all is changed, some days I feel ok. Some days I get wild reactions and feel like death. I’m sticking with it though, for at least a year, and then we’ll see. My allergies are so severe that it was never going to be a quick fix, as much as I wanted it to be. I just want to snuggle all the dogs and cats in the world and still be able to breathe. I’d also like to maybe be able to mow the lawn someday. Without an epi pen.

don't give up

I have made a huge and conscious effort to be more deliberate about what I put in my body. This is partly because of my allergies and partly because I’ve gained like 20 pounds in two years (UGH! WHY!). I have gotten reallllly into going to the local farms and eating what’s in season, as well as choosing organic foods at the market whenever possible (expect some recipe collaborations posts soon!). I also downloaded the MyFitnessPal app for my phone so I can force myself to look at what I am eating and how much I am sitting around. I’m not interested in a wild diet and fast radical signs of change, I’m looking for steady improvement that can become a lifestyle. It’s hard. I basically love eating and tend to disregard whether or not I’m actually hungry.

 

Life is, despite the previous 2 bullet points of frustration, really good right now. In fact, I would argue that this period in my life will end up being one of my favorites and best. I have been “finished” with my formal education for years and feel confident I’m on the right career path, I’m in a positive and healthy marriage with the best man I know, I have a house that I love, I have long term friends that are kind and generous, and I have figured out my hobbies. Woah. That’s a lot of good stuff. I am as at peace as I can be with the fact that within the next 5-10 years I’m going to lose loved ones, welcome new loved ones into the world, move to a new house in an undetermined location, and at several points have panic attacks about my finances. So I better soak up all this awesome while I can.

quote

And on a much simpler note, summer is bringing some real good times:

  • I’m headed to the Grossology exhibit at the Museum of Science this weekend
  • I’m headed to Newport, RI next weekend with some super fun girl friends
  • We have some really fun, relaxed weddings on the docket
  • We are pretty much always ready for a BBQ
  • We are taking my nephew for 2-3 days next month and I have SO MANY fun things planned

 

So now why don’t you join in… how are you doing? :)

 

On Life and Growing Up

In a few months I’ll be turning 25 for the 5th time (ok, FINE- I’m turning 29! But I’m not happy about it!) and it leads me to all these random thoughts I keep having, so while this post has literally nothing to do with DIY or home decor I thought I’d share anyway. Because maybe you feel some of this too and you needed to hear it from someone else.

  • There is no real point where I have felt like Ok! NOW I’m an adult! I got my Master’s four years ago, I bought a house three years ago, I got married one year ago and I’ve been working as a professional in higher education for over 7 years.  Problems and situations have gotten more difficult, my thought process has changed, but I generally just feel like I’m playing one giant game of pretend.
  • I have no freaking clue what to wear anymore. My clothes for work are separate from my clothes for going out which are separate from my clothes for hanging around. All I want to do is wear ripped jeans and a beater every day (is beater a Massachusetts thing? An Italian thing? It’s a white ribbed tank top in case you don’t know). I clean up real nice for work but the second I come home that goes out the window. Sometimes I start taking off layers in the car because I can’t wait another minute.
I just want to wear this everyday, minus the beefaroni "blood and guts."

I just want to wear this everyday, minus the beefaroni “blood and guts.”

  • It’s a lot more effort to maintain friendships now, and it’s important to decide who is worth the effort and who isn’t. When you’re younger and in school and before people get married and have kids and/or grow in their profession you are just constantly surrounded by everyone you know. Now, we’ve split ourselves up throughout the state (throughout the country, really), and it’s hard. I’m a natural introvert… which is probably why I blog. It takes a lot to get me to leave my house, but when I do I usually have a great time. I’m not the best friend I could be to a lot of people, but I think about a lot of people all the time.
  • I care not what people think of me. As a female teenager and younger 20-something this seemed so important for so long. Now? Whatever.  This thought continues to refine itself too… it now goes for both friends and family. I have made extremely deliberate choices in my life that left me feeling strong and confident. If you don’t want to fit into that, or you don’t want to at least try to understand it, then I really don’t mind. This is a hard thing to learn. I shed a lot of tears while I learnt it. But now that I have, it’s extremely freeing.

0310c6f715ce30b18b7e126ddb4b2577

  • I can pretty much do whatever I want all the time. This is another thing that used to plague me, but now frees me. I have spent my whole life fine tuning who I am and what I stand for, and now I’m old enough to be who I am and express what I stand for. That’s a BIG thought. It can be crippling… until you decide to own it. Once you figure out who you are, and start doing what you truly want to do, there’s no reason to be nervous or apprehensive or defensive about it. Unless what you want to do is you know, sell crack. :) I want women to feel empowered and strong, I want animals to be treated kindly and to be protected, I want people to care about what technology is good and what technology is bad.

be realistic

 

What do you think? What are your big, grown up thoughts? Currently, mine is that hitting “publish” on this post is kind of scary but I’m going to do it any.

High 5 for Friday

 photo H54Fbutton_zps973d26e1.png

Another week all wrapped up- and this one was a doozy. Particularly yesterday. I really needed to reflect on some good things, so here’s my high 5 for the week:

1. Sunday Matt & I took our nephew out for a little bit in the morning and it was so much fun. He’s such an easy, happy kid. We took him to get a haircut, for a little shopping (he said “stores! aisles!”), then to an ice cream place that has some farm animal you can visit (sheeps! goats! dada cow! baby cow!).

uncle and nephew

2. Matt wrapped up his 2nd and 3rd Master’s classes this week and I am so proud of how hard he worked this semester, taking classes while in his first year as a teacher himself. Way to go Matt! xo.

3. I got rid of the chalkboard wall, which I had been dying to do for a while, and hung up so really neat and very “us” art. I’m excited about how my style is growing and expanding.

Can you paint a thermostat? Because I kind of want to.

4. We went to the dairy farm last night and picked up some good, organic local food: free range eggs, grass fed beef, and fresh milk. Now that I’ve had the real stuff, I hate when I have to get these things at the grocery store. The taste difference is amazing.

farm fresh, organic, grassfed beef, local

via my instagram

5. We’ve been listening to a LOT of K-pop lately. A lot. It’s almost unhealthy. But I dare you not to be mesmerized.

 

High 5 for Friday: VACATION EDITION

Happy Friday, all! Instead of a round up of the 5 best things from this week, I thought I’d do a quick vacation must-have round up because we just got back from a week in New Orleans.

This was actually our first real vacation, and we’ve been together almost 5 years. WOAH. It was way overdue. We stayed from Sunday-Saturday and did about a zillion things a day.

As far as travel goes, these were my top 5 must haves:

vacation collage must have travel toiletries

  • Comfy age-appropriate tops: Here’s the thing, I could have easily just worn an old t-shirt every day. I have a million of them. But I knew we’d be taking  pictures and, ahem, getting drinks, and I just didn’t want to look like I was 14. So I bought some nice Mossimo sheer tanks at Target that I can also wear to work and it was super worthwhile to feel like a grown up out on vacation and look nice while still being comfortable.
  • Victoria’s Secret Make Up Spray: New Orleans is hot. We were out from about 10am-11pm every  day. I needed me a make up finisher and this was perfect- it’s actually the same one I used on my wedding day and I love it.
  • Colgate Wisps: These little guys are the best for on-the-go tooth brushing, especially at the airport. It really helps to be able to brush your teeth when you’ve been sitting in an airport, eating airport food, during a day of travel.
  • Denizen Cropped Jeans from Target: I am 5ft tall and have never, ever, ever found cropped pants that actually fit.  Until now. These jeans were an awesome fit, had a comfortable stretch to them, and looked great. (Note: they fell about 3 inches lower on me then they do on the model above. Darn short legs!)
  • Something different: I think vacation time is the perfect time to try something out of your comfort zone. You’re in a new place, with new people and you’ve got nothing to worry about. For me, it was red lipstick. I never, ever, ever wear lipstick because it intimidates me so while on vacation I put on a bold red lip every night before we went out. I loved it!

 

What are your vacation must haves? I’d love to know!

Homemade All Natural Soap

As you may have noticed in my oil pulling posts, I struggle with some skin issues- dry skin, psoriasis, and occasional breakouts. So when I got the opportunity to partner up with Stephenson Personal Care, I jumped right on it. Knowing exactly what I’m putting on my skin seemed like a good idea, and making homemade soap? SO FUN. Seriously.

I decided to ease in to DIY soap making to get a feel for it before I get too fancy, so my first soap is pretty straightforward:

stephenson personal care diy soap homemade

 

  • I used this melt and pour base, chosen because it has all sorts of natural & organic ingredients
  • 3 tablespoons of honey, bought at the local dairy farm and from a local town
  • a handful of mint leaves, grown in my garden last summer then frozen
  • soap mold and microwaveable container (something with a spout is particularly helpful

Putting it all together was a lot less intimidating then I thought it was going to be and only took a few minutes:

how to make homemade soap

 

  • I made 4 bars of soap, so I used half a container of Stephenson’s melt and pour
  • Cut the soap base into 1 inch sections using a butter knife (serrated probably would have been easier though)
  • Melt the soap in the microwave for a little over a minute, make sure to cover it in plastic wrap
  • While it’s melting, grab your mint leaves and chop them up- we want them to go right down the drain during use, not clog it up
  • Once the soap is melted pour in your honey and sprinkle in the mint leaves, then GENTLY wisk. We’re aiming for as few bubbles as possible here
  • Pour SLOWLY into the soap base, and if you do have bubble spritz them with some rubbing alcohol, then pop in the fridge to harden

organic soap how to

I wish the mint leaves were fresh so they’d be a nice green color, but you know- it’s April in New England and it snowed earlier this week. Freshly thawed will have to do!

Matt and I are out of town this week (in New Orleans!!) so I thought this would be the perfect thank you gift for the people we lined up to help take care of our pets.

all natural home made soap

I cut out the thank you tag on my Silhouette with some construction paper, then wrapped the soap in saran wrap and tissue paper. Super simple, but a nice touch to let people know they’re appreciated. Henry sure is happy someone’s stopping by to feed him all week :).

home made soap

 

Have any questions? Suggestions? Leave them in the comments!

Oil Pulling – One Month Review

After my first week of oil pulling I posted a day by day run down, which you can see here. I thought I’d check back in now that it’s been a month to review it again.

Before I get into the review though, it’s important to note 2 other health-related things I’ve been doing as well, because maybe they’re all working together:

  • I have been getting 3 allergy shots a week since January. If you follow me on Instagram, then you saw this picture back in December that basically showed I was severely allergic to all the things.  I’ve been told it’ll take about 6 months before I really notice a difference. My husband thinks he notices a difference already, I’m not so sure myself.
  • In addition to the shots I thought I’d try a more holistic approach too, so I started taking Juice Plus in January. It’s organic, vine ripened fruit that is basically dehydrated then crushed down into a capsule with a little added fiber- more of a booster then a supplement or vitamin I guess. I absolutely have noticed a difference in my energy level and immune system since I started taking it.

oil pulling how to introduction to oil pulling

As far as the oil pulling itself:

  • Swishing for 20 minutes a day is no problem at all. The texture doesn’t bother me at all anymore- I’ve only missed one day in the whole month and I felt strange not doing it.
  • I 100% feel like my teeth and gums are stronger. I don’t quite know how to explain it, but they just feel more grounded in my mouth? That sounds weird, but it’s true. I flossed after not having done so for quite a while (sorry, dentist) and there was no bleeding or swelling.
  • I also feel like my nails are stronger (maybe part oil pulling and part Juice Plus).
  • My complexion is noticeably better- no more breakouts and in addition, the dark spots from old breakouts are starting to go away too. I have maybe had 2 pimples in the past month, which is amazing.
  • It has done nothing for my scalp psoriasis. I even tried rubbing the oil directly on my scalp for a few days because I got desperate. This is kind of a bummer because it’s the result I was hoping for the most.

 

So overall, I absolutely recommend giving it a try. For me it hasn’t been the miracle worker some others have claimed it to be, but there are absolute benefits. Also, I still brush my teeth as normal. I just felt grossed out by the thought of no longer doing that. It’s also recommended that you oil pull in the morning, on an empty stomach, but I don’t have time then so I do it in the 20 minutes before I settle down for bed instead.

My biggest tip: for the love of God, do not sniff that jar you spit the oil out into. Just don’t. You might be tempted to, but trust me. It might be the worst smelling thing in the entire world. (You can’t spit it out down the drain because the oil hardens at temperatures lower then 76*.)

 

Have you tried it yet?