Tuesday, March 30, 2010

I have followers??

I was logging into blogger not too long ago and something strange caught my eye. My blogger homepage showed that my blog had a follower! And now I have two. Compared to the major blogs who have followers in the thousands, this may seem like small potatoes, but to me it is pretty cool. Considering the haphazard frequency of my posting and the random assortment of topics, it is somewhat hard to believe that anyone aside from my friends would be interested.

You’ll see that below the list of blogs that I read, there is now a little gadget where you too could become a follower. It looks a little sparse but that doesn’t bother me. Maybe seeing that little reminder that people actually read this blog will prompt me to get off my butt and write a little more often!

Thank you to the two lovely people who are already followers! I sincerely appreciate your interest in my sometimes ridiculous ramblings. And thank you of course to my friends who I know read as well and often comment. I love those comments!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Changing it up… again

Lately I’ve been feeling a little dissatisfied with how my blog looks. So I’m trying another new background and with it a new header. I’m liking the coordination. We’ll see how it sits after some time.

It would be so fun and motivating to have a custom design but that won’t be happening unless I start using this blog to make money. I’m not sure the Husband would see personalizing my blog design for my own benefit as a “necessary expense.”

Speaking of necessary expenses, we’ve been having a lot of unexpected additions to the bills pile recently. Our furnace was making this horrendous shrieking noise whenever it kicked into gear and because our house is small, you could hear it in all the bedrooms, which was a little unnerving at 3am. A repairman checked it and determined that it might need the motor oiled. Thirty minutes and 140 bucks later, no more shrieking.  Sometimes I wish that I had some sort of knowledge in the heat/AC/electricity/plumbing arena. For the amount of time that it seems to take, those guys sure do charge a bundle. We also had to replace our garbage disposal this weekend, but I’m proud to say that the Husband did that all on his own and it’s working great.

I also found some super cheap frames this weekend and finally managed to complete a project that I’ve had in the back of my mind for months (and months). I’ll hopefully get the frames hung this week and then I will be a very happy camper. And maybe I’ll post pictures too. I have the before pix already but I’d rather wait and reveal both at the same time. I think I’ve been writing a lot about projects yet to come and not a lot about the results. I wonder why that is.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

My Computer Caught a Cold

Aka a virus. A nasty one. One so bad that even my dad the software engineer couldn’t fix it. I had to physically take my laptop to a repair shop and let some guy remove the virus. And for the record, I wasn’t surfing “inappropriate sites” on the internet. I was actually looking for a picture to add to my blog post; a post which no longer exists because of course it wasn’t saved prior to my computer having a nervous breakdown.

Thankfully I didn’t lose anything. Even more thankfully I had recently backed up all our pictures and videos because obviously if I hadn’t, I would have lost everything. That’s how Murphy’s Law works and for once I was on the right side of the law. That being said, if I ever happen to meet someone who casually mentions that they write virus programs for a living, I will beat their ass to a pulp. Seriously? Get a real job and stop screwing with other people’s stuff!

Anyway… here are some pieces of the post I wrote on Friday. Just a few links really to blogs where people actually write posts on a regular basis (unlike some of us). In honor of spring, the web is buzzing with all the happy homemakers updating their home decor.

Layla at a The Lettered Cottage wrote a few great posts about updating your mantel. The one about her mantel update is great and definitely inspired me to lighten things up a little.

Kate at Centsational Girl has also been on the spring kick lately and I loved this post about freshening up her dining room. I like the idea that just a few small changes can have a big impact on the overall look and feel of a room. Our dining room is right at the top of my list right now and I have some ideas brewing.

Melissa from The Inspired Room brought the updating to the outside with a great post about bringing spring to your front porch.

That’s all I have for today. Hopefully my next post will be about my own house :) Many works in progress…

Monday, March 8, 2010

Know Your Enemies

We all have them. We all try to avoid them sometimes/most of the time/none of the time or all of the time if you have the willpower of an Olympian. I'm talking about our diet enemies.

I don't mean "diet" in the typical sense of the word, but more in the traditional sense of a balanced diet. Everyone has those certain foods that sabotage even the best intentions. Some of us are better at avoiding those diet killers than others (I would be included in the second group - the others.) But I'm trying to make an effort towards better health right now. Both the Husband and I are working on making regular exercise a part of our routine, and we've had many a conversation about cutting out the crap in our daily diet. If not for ourselves, we owe it to our daughter and any future children to be healthy parents and to instill that knowledge in them.

Unfortunately this is not a "keep your enemies closer" situation... if only that were the case. When it comes to your personal diet saboteurs, ignorance is bliss. If you don't know how bad that burger is for you, then you can avoid the guilt that often comes with eating something you know you shouldn't. I'm not into complete deprivation by any stretch, but I think I could probably deprive myself a little more often and not suffer too badly. Truthfully in this age of increasing awareness of calories, trans fats, high fructose corn syrup, etc., I believe it's a rare individual who doesn't have at least a slight idea of the nutritional content of the food they eat.

Below are a few of my personal enemies and their content. It's alarming in many cases, and while I'm not eating these foods every day, they certainly make the cut more often than they should if I want to slim down a little before summer. It's almost embarrassing to reveal...

*Islands (oh how I love you) is a favorite of ours on a Friday night so here's my typical order:
Big Wave w/ Cheese plus avocado and onion rings on the side
1230 calories + 60 (avocado) + 380 (onion rings) = 1670
83 grams of fat + 5 (avocado) + 15 (onion rings) = 103 g
Don't forget the Coke I usually have, which probably tacks on around 300 extra calories, bringing the grand total to almost 2000 calories. If I'm not mistaken, this is probably above the total calories I need in a day. Ugh.

Tall Caramel Frappucino minus whipped cream
220 calories
3 grams of fat
Note: Sometimes they add the whipped cream by mistake and the total goes to 300 cal and 11 grams of fat.

*Panera Bread
Favorite Order: Chipotle Chicken Sandwich w/ Panera Potato Chips
1150 calories (including chips)
64 grams of fat
Recent Favorite: Cup of Broccoli Cheddar Soup & 1/2 Napa Almond Chicken Salad Sandwich
530 cal
24 g fat

I thought it would be interesting to see how some of my favorites stack up and it's pretty grim. Again I'll reiterate that I don't plan to cut these items out altogether, but instead make it a once in a while treat instead of a weekly occurrence. By the way, I got the nutritional info from each company's website and the links go straight to the nutritional content pages.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Revamping the Routine

photo by calloohcallay

I will start with a disclaimer. I am NOT a morning person. I could gladly sleep until 9:00 every morning without any guilt whatsoever. But those days are over (except for the lucky weekend mornings when my wonderful husband takes the early shift.) Baby usually gets up somewhere around 6:30 or 7:00, and the Husband tries to go for a run before leaving for work by 8 or 8:30.

I'm trying to work a little more fit and a little less fat into my life but there are only so many hours in the day. By the time the Husband gets home from work, I want to sit down to dinner as a family, put Baby to bed and relax. My motivation level to work out at that point is hovering somewhere between "never gonna happen" and "I could give a rat's ass about being fit right now." Many people have suggested that I use naptime for working out but how many people go to the gym during their lunch hour at work?? Besides the fact that I don't usually want to use my "break" to work out and shower, there are also plenty of things that need to get done during that precious un-distracted time... like blog :)

Due to my own personal preferences, this leaves the morning as my opportunity for some exercise. As clearly stated above, I am NOT a morning person. But if it's a choice between a little extra sleep and not exercising, the time has come to change up my priorities. Today started an experiment in switching up our morning routine and I have to say that day one was a success. Here's the breakdown:
6:30 - alarm goes off and I'm out of bed
6:35 - my time to exercise (today I did a power yoga dvd in the living room and now feel like a "tight and sturdy structure" - thank you Denise Austin)
*the Husband gets Baby when she announces her presence and gives her the morning bottle*
7:30 - after a shower, I take over and the Husband goes for a run before leaving for work

I went to bed at a decent hour last night and felt good getting up. I also got out of bed as soon as the alarm went off before I could start the excuses and stay in my cozy bed. I recently read this post at Inspired to Action and it definitely got me in the right mindset. If I linger in bed after the alarm goes off, I won't get up. I feel good for getting up. I feel good for working out. I feel good for being in a better mood when I took over with Baby. Instead of the grouchy mama who doesn't want to get up, I was the motivated mama ready to conquer the day. It's nice to do something for myself as a way to start the day. On to day 2...

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Deceptively Delish

About two Christmases ago, I found the cookbook Deceptively Delicious on sale while I was waiting in line at Borders. This is the book that Jerry Seinfeld's wife developed based on the idea of sneaking vegetable and fruit purees into standard kid foods to up the health factor. At the time, Baby was barely eating solids but for $7 it seemed like a worthwhile purchase for the future. Now that she is eating a lot of big-kid foods, this cookbook holds a lot more interest.

Instead of buying frozen chicken nuggets that are full of preservatives and fat, I tried the "deceptive" chicken nugget recipe. Really not much difference except that they are coated in either broccoli, pea, sweet potato or spinach puree prior to rolling in a breadcrumb mixture. The recipe instructs to pan-fry them but I thought I'd try baking them instead. They turned out great. You can taste a hint of the broccoli in some bites but not if you dipped them in any sort of sauce.

I had a few bananas that were getting close to a trip to the trashcan so I decided to try her banana bread recipe. It calls for a mix of whole wheat and white flour and uses brown sugar instead of white. The recipe also calls for half a cup of cauliflower puree. Even as I write that, it sounds revolting but this is the essence of the cookbook. You add purees to recipes in such a way that the taste is not noticeable. The bread is actually very tasty. My only complaint is that it isn't as fluffy as the regular banana bread I make, probably because there are less dry ingredients overall. The texture of the bread is similar to my normal recipe but the slices are a lot smaller because the bread doesn't rise as much.

I'm digging the concept behind all this. The purees are relatively easy to make, but more time-consuming than it sounds when reading the introduction and directions. I like the idea of sneaking veggies and fruits into standard foods. Baby isn't fussy and eats pretty much whatever we put in front of her but I've seen enough kids to know this may not always be the case. Rather than make meals a misery, it's a simple way to help us all get a little extra nutrition without really noticing. Because as my own mom pointed out when I told her about the premise, I'm 30 and I still don't care for vegetables or eat them as much as I should. Maybe I'm not just doing this for Baby after all.
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