31 Days to Fit— January Preview

This January, I am trading in my high heels and scuffed sneakers and dusting off my running shoes.

Over the past several years, each January, I have resolved to eating healthier and losing weight. Each year, I fail miserably and my resolutions fly out the window. My waist size increases and my self-control decreases. This year, I want it to be different. I want it to actually stick– don’t you? I want to develop a healthier lifestyle that embraces who I am and who I want to become.

In efforts to hold myself accountable and focus on better habits, this January all my posts will be dedicated to healthy living. Each post will be centered around various get fit topics. I’ll be sharing my successes and failures with you along the way.

I sincerely hope you enjoy this new year and that you meet every obstacle with strength. Join me each day as I transform my daily life and learn how to develop healthier habits.

 Here’s my blog schedule:

Move it Monday

  Exploring work out routines such as Pilates, Yoga, Zumba & PureBarre. 

Tasty Tuesday

 Featuring recipes from various cook books, sites and blogs that make your taste buds dance and are healthy at the same time. 
Whatcha Readin’ Wednesday

 Discussing my favorite healthy lifestyle reads. 
Tips & Tricks Thursday

 Tips & Tricks found from a variety of different resources. 
Failure Friday

Personal weight loss failures and how they have motivated me to push through. 
Style Saturday

Exploring my favorite work out gear— because when you look cute, you feel better! 
I am looking forward to a healthier 2012 and I hope you are too!

Cheers, 


Christmas Giving

Christmastime is more than gifts and glitz. It is a time to celebrate the birth of our savior, Jesus Christ. One way that I try to embrace the true meaning of Christmas each year is by giving back. I don’t make it a habit of broadcasting the ways J and I help our community or to sow into the lives of others but I think it’s important to let folks know how they can get involved too. In the Lexington area, I had three opportunities to serve this holiday season and was humbled by the experiences.

  • Toys for Tots: We were able to buy a few gifts for local children and drop them off at the fire department. J reported that the donations were low so we were dedicated to doing our part to ensure that the sweet kiddos in our city received a toy on Christmas morning.
  • Three One Six: My life group served at our church for two hours and packed meals for Haitians. 8,000 volunteers in the Lexington area helped pack 1,085,000 meals for Haitians during this event. Ah-ma-zing!

  • Kentucky Children’s Hospital— Christy’s Stocking: My girlfriend passed away a few years ago and her mother collects donations for the Kentucky Children’s hospital during Christmas.  Her friends and family gather gifts for her mother to present to the hospital in her honor. Christy loved Christmas and it’s an honor to remember her during this season in such a beautiful way! 
(I hijacked this photo from the facebook page of Christy’s mom!)
It doesn’t take a lot of money to make a difference. Sometimes it just takes a little bit of time. If you ran out of time this holiday season to give back, make it a resolution to do more in 2012. When we shift the focus off of our own lives, we gain so much— we get to give and receive the love of our Lord. It’s a beautiful thing! 
1 Peter 4:10, “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.”

Easy Holiday Treats: Festive Marshmallows

I made these little yummies for the ladies at work and thought they would be an easy recipe to share with you.

Ingredients:
Marshmallows
Almond Bark
Candy Canes
Lollipop Sticks (Optional)
Directions:

Melt Chocolate 
Crush Candy Canes 
(or buy pre-crushed candy cane! I did not know that existed until a few minutes ago.)
Dip Marshmallow into melted chocolate 
Roll dipped Marshmallow into crushed candy cane
I originally purchased the lollipop sticks because I wanted the festive treats to be similar to the original recipe (please forgive me for not citing my source correctly but for the life of me I cannot remember where I first saw the recipe. If it is yours THANK YOU!)…. However, I ended up taking the sticks out of the marshmallows to make transporting easier…. it does not compromise the deliciousness, I promise! 
Enjoy! 

Christmas Tree & Gift Wrap

Merry Christmas Everyone! 
Christmas is right around the corner and I’m thrilled. I cannot wait to spend a couple of days with my family and away from the office. 
This year we put up our tree the Sunday after Thanksgiving. Decorating for Christmas is one of my favorite things to do. I wait for it to come all year.  We turn up the music, pour some wine and get down to business. 
We’ve used the gold and red theme for a couple of years and I think it’s really classy. However, I’m thinking about making some changes next year. I buy new decorations after Christmas so I’m already starting to think about what we need for the next holiday season. 
I also buy the wrapping paper after Christmas and did not really like the paper that much this year. Therefore, I spiced it up by adding tulle bows to them instead of traditional stick and tape bows.
I purchased green, gold and red tulle at JoAnn’s Fabric and cut them into strips and simply tied them around our gifts. 
This photo reflects the 1/3 of our holiday gifts but I was able to wrap all of them using the tulle for around $8. (I love a deal!)

I’d love to know how you decorate for Christmas. Does your tree have a theme? Also, do you use traditional bows or make fancy ones? 

Geo Mesh Christmas Wreath

Geo Mesh Christmas Wreaths are gorgeous and expensive too! I looked online and fell in love with this one on Etsy for $105. I obsessed over the price tag and tried to justify the purchase in my head.
Finally, once I surrendered to the fact that I would not be spending $105 on a new wreath, I realized that I could make it for a fraction of the price. In order to make the perfect Christmas wreath, I needed some guidance. I found a tutorial on you tube and made my supply list.

Geo Mesh
Wreath Form
Satin Floral Ribbon
Floral Pins
Wire
Wire Cutters
Decorations
I was so proud of my purchase because I was able to by most of the supplies for $15 at Hobby Lobby. They have excellent sales and coupons frequently too! Another way I saved money on the project was by comparing prices of Geo Mesh. Many stores in my area do not carry Geo Mesh and as a result the ones that do, mark the prices up sky high. Generally speaking, the mesh you see above sells for around $20. However, I was able to buy mine for $10.95. Therefore, my total investment on my wreath was $26. That’s 1/4 of the original price tag! It pays to make your own! 
After I danced around the dining room table and celebrated my savings, I got to work and created the perfect Christmas wreath.  Isn’t she lovely?
   
                                                    
Oh yeah…I’m partyin’ over at:

Work Week Organization: Meal Planning

E-Mealz - Dinner Done

As I mentioned last week, I’ve been hyper focused on organizing our daily routines during the work week to save time and prevent chaos. If you are already busy, the minor annoyances (aka, the “what’s for dinner?” conversation) can really be a stressor in your life. That’s why we organize our work week and save time in the evening by meal planning.

My girlfriend told me about  E-mealz  several months ago and we can’t imagine our life without it. Trust me, we tried. 

For a small fee, E-mealz generates a menu and shopping list for your household.

Here are a few reasons why it’s perfect for our little family:

  • It keeps your grocery bill low. (The two person plan we use averages $35 a week.)
  • The meals are easy! On the nights when I work late, J can easily prep dinner and have it ready for me. 
  •  It helps newlyweds learn how to cook new things. (How many different ways can you really eat spaghetti?!?)

Meal time is a time for family not chaos. When I have a plan, I can focus more on what matters the most and that makes me very happy. 

Self-Imposed Craziness.

To set the stage for this post, I’d like to share with you some of the texts I’ve received recently from my friends.

Toni says: “Where have you been girl? You are the busiest person I know!”

Britt says: “Where in the heck have you been?!?”

Becca says: “I miss you!!!”

I hope I’m painting the picture a little more clearly now… Christmastime is crazy for everyone, I know. I think that we are plagued with busyness to begin with and Christmas is just the icing to the cake. We self-impose this craziness into our daily lives and walk around like psychos all day long and I am no exception to this rule.

Over the past week, I have worked two jobs (one full-time, one part-time), shopped for Christmas, fought with crafts I am attempting to complete, worked on two projects for school (finals are due Monday!), embraced my civil responsibility and served on jury duty versus receiving a bench warrant (I contemplated the warrant– at least I’d have time to catch my breath), attempted to clean my house (praise the Lord for a helpful husband), tried to wrap Christmas gifts that were promptly unwrapped by my poorly behaved pups, served with my life group and packed meals for Haiti and taught my little Water Walkers (my two year old Sunday School Class)— somewhere in there, I kissed my husband on the cheek and sent several texts and checked facebook while driving!

I am not sharing my task list to complain… I am sharing my list because I taking the first step and accepting my craziness. I want to experience life to the fullest and remember that all of these tasks are opportunities. They are moments that I get to live and choose to be filled with happiness. My to-do list is not burdensome, it is a blessing! My list is not in perfect balance but it’s mine and I’m satisfied with it and all of the hiccups that come along with it.

Friends, take a few deep breaths this holiday season and be thankful for your mountain of to-dos. Acknowledge the pile of sorted laundry in your hallway with a smile instead of a snarl. It’s hard, I know! I challenge you to embrace your self-imposed crazy and keep pushing forward with a joyful heart.

Good Reads: Emily Post’s Etiquette

(Source: Amazon)
The holiday season is upon us! Every weekend (or at least for me!) there is some social event that I must attend. While participating in those events, it is important to have good manners. The way I present myself to others, shows them that I value them and am grateful for their role in my life. That’s why when Lauren Conrad promoted this book on her blog this businesswoman, wanna be entertainer, traveler and a wife thought it would be a good idea to check it out. I’m glad I did.

The book, Emily Post’s Etiquette provides readers with tips and tricks for a variety of different situations and has helped me become more aware of my social behaviors. By reading this book, I have learned a lot about myself and ways to tweak my interactions with others. In all interactions, I strive to be polite and let others know they matter to me. I firmly believe that my generation has lost the desire to be courteous somewhere along the way and I refuse to fall into that trap.

After reading this book, I’ve learned how to improve my “small talk” skills, the importance of being on time and the importance of checking my naughty cell phone checking/texting/googling habits and more. 
I believe that this book is a “must read” for anyone with the desire to improve their social skills and  how they interact with others. I’ll be applying the tips I learned throughout the holiday season and am hopeful that it carries over into my daily life. 

Mama’s Banana Pudding

My mama makes the best banana pudding. It’s my favorite holiday dessert so I’m excited to share the recipe with you. Be prepared for seconds! Yummy!


Best Banana Pudding Recipe EVER: 

Ingredients:

Bananas
3 Cups of Milk
2 Jello Brand Vanilla Cook N Serve Pudding 
    (Mama says, “Don’t buy the instant! Pay attention!”)
1 Box of Nilla Wafers
Directions:
                                    Prepare the pudding per package instructions. Constantly Stir.                                                    (Mama says, “Don’t let it clump or burn!”)
  Slice the Bananas for layering into the trifle bowl.

                    (Mama says, “Add a little lemon juice to the bananas so they don’t brown!”)

Fill the trifle with layers of Nilla Wafers, Bananas and Pudding. 
(Mama says, “Don’t scrape the bottom of the bowl!”)
Repeat layering process until bowl is full. 

    Crush leftover wafers and sprinkle them on the top of the pudding. 

Add the tasty treat to your dessert table and viola! 

Enjoy! 

Work Week Organization: Clothing

My life (probably like yours) is rather chaotic right now. I work full-time, attend school full-time and try to stay attentive to the needs of my husband and our household. I am not as organized as I would like to be and constantly feel like I am rushing around. In January, I will pick up additional classes and really need to develop better habits in efforts to succeed. This month I am focusing on organizing my world and trying to get things in order for the next quarter of school.

One way I hope to achieve structure is by streamlining my morning routine. Presently, after I jump out of the shower, I rush to put on my clothes. One shirt goes on, it comes off, “too wrinkly”. The next shirt goes on, it comes off, “too tight”… you get the picture. I waste precious minutes trying to figure out what to wear!

This week I thought about that process and how I could organize it to improve my morning outcomes. I remembered an article I read in a magazine about parents laying out their kiddos clothing for the week and the light bulb went off! I can do THAT! I pre-selected five outfits, ironed them and matched them with appropriate accessories and hung them in the center of my closet.

I am very excited about how this will help me accomplish two goals: (1) being more intentional about the way I dress and (2) saving time so I can focus on other tasks.

How do you save time in the morning? Do you pre-plan your outfits?