Friday, July 29, 2011

Adventures in Furnishing!

It's the age-old transformation story.

An old, tired, tattered, unloved chair....

Becomes the chair of my dreams!!

Last week, my mother-in-law (MIL) and I set off to fulfill the hubs' desire for a "comfortable chair" that also fit our budget. When we walked into a second-hand store, I was admittedly skeptical. The furniture looked tired, and although the MIL reassured me we would have any piece we found re-finished, I couldn't seem to visualize it.

So, knowing I am clueless when it comes to furniture selection, I asked her to select the chair she thought would be the best to work with. She decided on the gray striped one, with torn fabric and worn out arms, at the cost of $140. I wasn't feelin' it. However, after a trip to a discount fabric store, where I found a richly beautiful fabric on sale, I started to see the vision.

We hired a family friend to recover the chair, and viola! I never expected it to turn out this good! I am in love with this chair (never, ever thought I would say that...who am I and since when do I care about furniture?).

Workout + Breakfast

Before my super-exciting chair arrival, I tried a Body Step class at the Y. It was so high-energy and a great workout. I also went for a 4-mile walk on the treadmill after class was over. When I got home, I re-fueled with a delicious smoothie:

*strawberries & mango
*1 cup 1% milk
*1 T white chocolate wonderful PB
*Drizzle of agave
*Frozen banana

Off to lunch with a friend!

Q: What are your tips for furnishing on a budget? I am so glad to have experienced the world of buying something second hand and having it re-done. It was far cheaper than if we had walked into a store and bought something new!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Summer Breakfast + Mocha on the Mount

Good afternoon!!

I officially had my first day of work for my new teaching job yesterday. After over a month of rest and relaxation (which although nice, was slowly turning into boredom), I was really excited to get back into a routine.

This week, I am being trained on the school curriculum, philosophy of education, and policies & procedures. It is so refreshing to be in a work environment with other believers who truly love the Lord and seek their approach to educating children from God's word.

My Favorite Summer Breakfast

My summer morning routine looks something like this: wake up, run, sweat enough to fill a pool, burst through the door famished and overheated. It's a doozy.

What is the best way to cool down from the Texas heat?

A delicious ice cold chocolatey smoothie! This is by far my favorite smoothie combination. The "backbone" of it looks something like this:

*1 cup milk (soy, coconut, 1%...whatever we have on hand)
*1 frozen banana (works best if you let it get really ripe before freezing, then peel and put in a ziploc bag to freeze)
*a couple shakes of ground cinnamon
*1 t xanathan gum for thickening
*2 T cocoa powder
*1 T nut butter (anything that floats my boat that particular day--almond butter, chocolate hazelnut butter, peanut butter, etc.)
*1/4 to 1/2 cup of cereal or granola on top

This combination never disappoints and always cools me down after a good run!

Summer Bible Study

I am participating in a summer women's bible study through our church, so my morning breakfast routine also includes a daily quiet time to go through the material for the day.

We are going through Mocha on the Mount by Sandra Glahn.

I love this study because each week's topic is easily broken down into six parts, so you complete one part every day from Monday-Saturday. This is a great study on God's word that truly extols His truth. It focuses on the sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5-7), which outlines key principles to "kingdom living." It is a good length, the idea being that you can complete your daily study over a good cup of coffee (in my case, a smoothie!).

What does your summer morning routine look like?

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Healthy Road Tripin'

Today was a whirlwind! I woke up bright and early for a 3 mile walk before saying goodbye to the padres and hitting the road to Houston. When I got back from my walk, the hunger beast was ragin', so I fixed a quicked yogurt bowl that sat like a rock in my stomach!
Caramel oikos, strawberries, blueberries, Kashi cinnamon harvest.
Eating Healthy on the Road
With my parents four hours away in Dallas, our family ranch seven hours way, and lots of college and high school friends all over the south, hubs and I take a lot of road trips together.
Road trips are always challenging for me in terms of sticking to healthy choices. For one thing, driving on highways can be both monotonous and boring. Sometimes the only "exciting" thing I can think of to do is stop for a treat. Secondly, no matter where I am headed, there are usually lots of tempting pit stops along the way. It's pretty easy to say no to Dairy Queen (LOVE me a blizzard) the first time I pass a sign for one, but by the fourth time? Combine frequency of temptation with increasing boredom, and I'm more likely to give in.
Over the years, I have found that these ideas help me stay healthy on the road:
1. Plan ahead for entertainment
Listening to music all day in the car simply doesn't do it for me. I do, however, love a good book on CD. I've invested in a few, including Emily Giffin's Heart of the Matter. Although pretty pricey up front, I've listened to the whole book 3-4 times thise year, so to me it was worth the extra money!
2. Pack your own drinks and snacks

I find that it's much healthier (not to mention cheaper!) to pack my own lunch and snacks for the car ride. If I know I have a waterbottle and a larabar in the car, I am less likely to be tempted to snag a diet coke and a pack of Reeses on a gas stop. Today, I brought along my own lunch of a morningstar farms veggie patty with Mmm sauce and cucumber slices with spinach dip.
3. Don't be afraid to succumb to a craving every now and then!
There are lots of fun food indulgences along the road, so I try to think about what I really have a hankerin for. Chances are I don't need hree treats on the road--but what's wrong with one? Variety is the spice of life! Today, I decided to treat myself to a piece of heath bar fudge from Buccees. I didn't feel deprived, so I wasn't tempted to overdo it later down the road or when I got home.
When I arrived home, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the hubs had already taken the initiative to defrost some trout for dinner. We went to the evening service at our church, stocked up on groceries for the week, and then arrived home to cook up some dinner.

Thanks, hubs!
This guy is pretty great in the kitchen. He is one of those people who can smell spices to determine what will taste good together. Me, I have to follow a recipe at this point. But he can wing it.
Tonight he made a delicious marinade of lemon juice, dijon, basil, onions, and honey for the fish. This was melt-in-your mouth fantastic! Served alongside some sweet potato rounds and asparagus.
Something to chat about: How do you stay healthy on the road?

Saturday, July 23, 2011

"Mama doesn't drink or eat dessert by herself"

And who am I to break that rule? ;)

Today was all about spending some quality time with my precious peach of a mama. We have a very simple routine: shop, drink, eat. Check it:


We started out at Nordstroms Rack and Off 5th because they were having some good sales. And we scored big time! I found an Elie Tahari shirt that will be fun for a date night dinner for $30...


the answer to my prayers in boot form. In early January, I sent the hubs the following email from school:

"Sooo...I found the perfect pair of boots (teacher at school suggested-don't judge. I was not online shopping at work). And I want them more than I want to mother my own child. Well, maybe not that much. But I reallllyyy realllyy want them. I might even say that I need them. Put it in the budget? Thoughts? I love you...thinking of you...and boots."

Long story short, I didn't end up buying the boots. Practicality (and the hubs astute budgeting) won the day. But clearly these boots were destined to be mine, because I found them 50% off today! woo hoo!! Bring it on, fall weather!


The Mambo Taxi (margarita + sangria) is love.


We finished up our day at one of my favorite Dallas restaurants, Mi Cocina. It has a great atmosphere and delectable Tex-Mex fare.

We started with chips & salsa...

added some queso (NOT cheese dip people. In Texas we call it queso)...

and I ordered my favorite salad, the Rico. Highlights include grilled chicken, avocado and famous Mi Cocina dressing.

Bye Dallas!

I'm heading back to Houston early tomorrow morning. The padres and I ate some leftovers from last night's gathering for dinner. I ate my weight in spinach dip before dinner, so I stuck to one turkey slider and salad.

Before I turned in for the night, my parents did have a small request: "Can you make some of that dip?" Yep, I have made some Mmmm sauce believers out of them! I happily obliged and whipped up about 4x the normal recipe.

I've got an ice cold root beer float in my tummy (and perhaps the icing off the top of 6-7 baby cupcakes...whoops) and I think it's time to slip into a sugar coma.


In Biblical times, I'd sell my birthright....

For one of these muffins:

Chocolately, chewy, warm A-mazingness from JD's Chippery! In high school, one of these babies (along with a large vanilla Dr. Pepper) was my morning meal after cheerleading practice. I probably ate these babies three times a week. Of course these days I realize what a treat a chocolate chip muffin the size of my head is, so I have scaled back a bit :)

This morning I went for a three miler on the Katy Trail, my favorite place to run in dtown. It is a 3.5 mile trail that is a straight shot from Highland Park to the American Airlines Center downtown (so if you complete the whole trail, you've gone 7 miles).

It features shaded walking and biking paths.

Hand mile markers.

And safety precautions.

These definitely are a necessity as accidents happen. There was a very tragic collision on the Katy Trail this year you can read about here. Good reminder to always be alert!

I hope your Saturday includes a good ole sweaty t shirt! Enjoy it!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Party on the Pati-O

Sheesh! I can't believe it's pushing 2 am again. My parents seriously keep me up late, and I love it because it makes me break my usual "in bed by 9" routine.

It's not like they're "party animals" or anything, they simply lack a set routine, which is what I set my heart by in my own daily life! Because my dad is retired and my mom only works a couple of days a week, they tend to set their own pace. Plus, when we haven't seen each other in a solid month, there's usually quite a bit to catch up on!

Let's rewind to this afternoon. Our big plans for the day revolved around getting ready for a small gathering on their patio this evening. When my brother passed away, my parents had just moved to a new part of Dallas. They'd literally been in the house for a week. The neighbors were wonderful and really reached out to support my parents. From bringing homecooked meals to dropping off notes of encouragement, these "strangers" were anything but!

We started our preparations for the day with some grocery shopping at my fave--Central Market!

The padres and I also picked up salad bar treats for lunch, since we had a full day ahead of us. Central Market has quite the extensive salad bar, and I concocted a mish-mash of sorts, including tofu and snap peas, noodle and shrimp salad, red quinoa, and veggies with red pepper hummus. Hit the spot!

After eating lunch, I spent the rest of the day cooking and baking up a storm with my mama. On the menu:

*Appetizers: Crudites with Mmmm sauce (my own healthy contribution!), flatbreads with spinach dip, chilled watermelon slices, tortilla chips with guac and pico

*Dinner: Grilled sliders (beef & turkey) with assorted toppings, Grilled mushrooms stuffed with mozarella, Bacon and ranch pasta salad, Baked beans, and Mixed greens salad with French vinagrette

*Dessert: Rootbeer floats and mini cupcakes

I didn't snap any photos because I was so busy with prep work! Bad blogger, I'll learn :)

It was such a blessing to have the opportunity to thank these wonderful people who reached out the my parents when they did not even know them. One of the neighbors told me, "It's people helping people. If we don't have that in this world, we'll never make it."

Couldn't have said it better myself :) So blessed by God's people!

Home Again

It feels good to be home!

I stayed up until 1:30 talking and catching up with my mom, and then turned in for the night. I stayed up a little bit longer to make a dent in a gripping book I am reading right now:

Look Again is the story of a woman who sees a "missing child" notice and can't help but notice the resemblance of the child in the picture to her own adopted son. The story that follows is suspenseful, engaging and heartfelt. I highly recommend it!

This morning, I completed a sweaty t-shirt inducing track workout. I warmed up by jogging a mile, and then completed 2 miles of walk-jog-sprint, an interval workout a coach taught me in high school. Basically, you alternate walking, jogging and full-out sprinting on the curves and straights on the track. (i.e. start by walking the straight. When it turns into a curve start to job, and when it straightens out again sprint). It's a heart pumper!

When I got back home, I refueled with a delicious yogurt bowl:

Caramel Oikos, strawberries and blueberries, and my dad's favorite cereal.

Happy Friday!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

On the road!

Greetings from Dallas!

Hubs headed out on a second guys' weekend in a row, and I headed home to spend some time with my parents. I grew up in Dallas and I love to go back to D-town! It's always fun to revisit places that were a part of my daily life back in the day and to see friends from high school, so I am really looking forward to the next couple of days.

I headed out of Houston this afternoon with a carrot, celery and green apple juice in tow.

I started to get a little hungry sitting in traffic on the way out of the city, so I muched on a carrot cake larabar. How delicious is this flavor? Love, love!

Houston traffic can be a beast. I spent a good chunk of my driving time stuck behind some big trucks, quite literally inching along.

Needless to say, I was overwhelmed with joy to see my favorite pit-stop: BUCCEES!

Buccees is way more than your average gas station. You can pick up a fresh sample of sausage, homemade fudge, and then browse their own line of boxer shorts and bever backpacks! What a treat! But in all seriousness, the cleanest gas station restrooms you'll ever find. That's reason enough for me to stop.

I felt a rumble in the tumble by the time I reached buccees, so I picked up a little refreshment--diet coke and kettlecorn.

This popcorn was a great find! Only 200 calories for this whole bag, and it was delicious! I also picked up some of my mom's favorite candied jalepenos to take home to her.

I arrived in Dallas a little after 8 pm, so my parents and I headed out to a late dinner. We settled on something quick, easy and fun. Enter Pluckers! My parents really wanted to introduce me to their "to die for" fried mac and cheese.

No complaints here! This was quite an indulgence, but I enjoyed every cheesy, fried bite. It was easily 9:15 before we got our food. The menu was lacking in healthy choices, so I decided on a buffalo chicken salad.

Currently munching on ginger snaps and catching up with my sugary sweet mama. Nite!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Oh.My. Goodness.

Is there any more perfect combination than chocolate + peanut butter? I submit no.

I heated up a chocolate chocolate chip muffin and whipped up some easy White Chocolate Wonderful PB frosting to glaze the top (1 T PB, 2 T coconut milk, got a little sassy this morning and added a pinch of powdered sugar). Served with pineapple and cherries on the side.

My to-do list today includes:

*a 4-mile walk & yoga class
*ironing clothes
*call my sweet mama
*read unbroken--lay by the pool perhaps?
*family dinner with hubs
*Bible study tonight
*Relax and enjoy the day!!

Sometimes it's difficult for me to accept that it is okay to take a break and not be working all day! I'm just used to 12-14 hour work days, and now that it's summer, I have a hard time taking a chill-pill. Today I will be okay with chillaxing!! Bye for now!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The hubs is home!

I'll drink to that :)

He's exhausted and sunburned, and I am babbling non-stop from lack of human interaction this weekend, but it's great to be together again! I really missed him. It sounds like the guys' weekend was full of fishing, beer, and some "incredible" banana rum--and hubs came home with 5 lbs of trout to show for it!

Can't wait to cook this up! For now, into the freezer it goes.

Lunch today was some good "southern" eats: gardein chicken tenders with ketchup for dippin', sweet potato fries, and baby corn. YUM!

For din-din tonight, we will be feasting on the Pioneer Woman's chicken spaghetti.

How do I know my sweet mama loves me? Because she cooks these babies up for me to store in my freezer for use on nights such as these, when the hubs is too exhausted to cook and our budget is too tight for take-out. Thanks, mom! ;)

Off to chow down and watch August Rush with my baby! LOVE this movie.

"The music is all around us, all you have to do is listen."