Friday, September 27, 2013

REAL Mac & Cheese

A few days ago I was lucky enough to receive the Mama Voxbox from Influenster. Here's what the box included:

Of all of these things, though, the one I want to highlight is the Aged White Cheddar Mac & Cheese.
I was a little leery to try it because I'm not a huge fan of 'boxed' mac & cheese. But I received it for free, so it was my duty to try it and review it.

Y' was so good. I don't generally care for the tiny macaroni noodles, but the sauce was delicious. I'm a sucker for white cheddar popcorn, and this? This is my new vice. I shouldn't even call it a vice because although it's delicious, it's much better for you than other 'boxed' varieties. Plus, one single serve package is only 220 calories!
Here's a snippet straight from Annie's website:

The best part? My daughter LOVES it! Mac & cheese is her favorite, & this did not disappoint. Run [don't walk] to your nearest Target  & pick up some! It's a little pricier than other brands, but honestly, you get what you pay for. 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013


About 6 weeks ago, I decided that I wanted to try running. It's never been something that I enjoyed doing, but after seeing so many infographics about it, I thought I should give it a shot.

I started by going to the 3 mile track on post and I was just happy to get around the whole thing without passing out. I mostly walked. I jogged a few times, I didn't run. But most importantly, I didn't give up. I kept up with my time, and tried again. And again. I invested in a jogging stroller so that pushing my daughter would be a little easier. Every time I saw a difference in my time, it motivated me to go again. Each time, I've jogged a little more. More recently, I've been switching between going to the 3 mile track and running on the treadmill at the gym. I feel like the treadmill gives me confidence that I don't yet have at the track. I actually run on the treadmill. I jog, too, but I barely walk. I push myself to the limits, and it's helping increase my endurance and stamina. I can now run several minutes [on the treadmill] without stopping. I've gone from doing a 18 minute mile to a 13 minute mile. That's what hard work and dedication can do, y'all. I'm not done, though. My goal is to be able to run 3 miles without slowing below a jog the entire time. As of now, after mile 2 I start to get sluggish. I know this is going to take a lot of work, but I'm all in. I'm ready for the day that I can do a 5k in 36 minutes.

What are some of your fitness goals?

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

3 Times A Day Will Keep The Doctor Away...Probably

During my never ending research [to better my health], I came across an article that said drinking green tea 3-5 times a day has several health benefits. Here they are:

Isn't that amazing? What do you have to lose? A box of 40 green tea bags is less than $4. Get a box, some raw honey, and a few lemons, and drink a few cups a day. It's a delicious addiction. Your health is worth it!

Monday, September 9, 2013

For Your Sweet Tooth

If I didn't know any better, I would think that my sweet tooth is the size of Texas. It is probably the biggest reason that I've had so many relapses, but I'm here to share with you some of my favorite sweet treats to fight your cravings.

*Mind over matter! It's okay to indulge as long as the indulgences are within reason. Don't just eat aimlessly. Preportioned snacks are a good idea [especially for beginners] because once the package is done, you move on to a new activity. DON'T be tempted to open another pack! 

What are your favorite healthy [or low cal] sweet treats?

Sunday, September 8, 2013

My Fitness Pal

Today I'm here to sing the praises of My Fitness Pal. 
 My Fitness Pal is such a valuable resource to those who are looking to lose weight. What initially drew me to it--It's free! On, you can keep up with your caloric intake [separated by each meal!], add your exercises and calories burned, & track your weight loss progress. 

It's more than just a weight loss journal, though. It's a community. You have the ability to add friends and see what they've been up to. This has been a huge motivator for me to be able to connect & interact with my sister & other bloggers who are rocking their weight loss journeys! You can post in forums, print reports, and calculate your BMI. 

Not sure what the calorie count is for a meal you made at home? Easy. Just add all the ingredients to a 'new recipe' and let myfitnesspal calculate the calories for you! What I love about this site is that they also have an app. I have it on my phone and it's so easy to just enter everything I eat as it happens instead of trusting myself to do it later. Don't take my word for it, go see for yourself! And add me as a friend while you're there [username: jakintheb0x] :)

*this post was in no way sponsored by my fitness pal.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Portion Distortion

Until recently, I had no concept of portion control. I'd usually make my meals in a similar way to how I grew up eating. A meat, a veggie, a starch, and some sort of bread. Don't get me wrong, health class taught me the food pyramid and to eat 8 servings of fruits and veggies a day, but that was something that I pushed to the very back of my mind. When I started to care about my health and body, that's when I started caring about how I ate. When I was learning to count calories, I was also learning how to portion my food. Did you know that an 8 oz chicken breast [what I used to eat on a normal basis] is actually more than TWO servings? A 'normal' serving of meat is 3 oz. At first, cutting my meat intake to this amount was a huge struggle. I just wanted to eat a WHOLE pork chop! But that was my big problem. I was constantly eating over sized portions of food, and I wouldn't just feel full afterward, I would feel stuffed. It's not a good thing, y'all. Here are a few images that are eye opening.

Since educating myself on proper portioning and caloric intake, I feel a lot better. I've lost cravings that I once had, and have found healthier alternatives to ones I still have. Even though I have the occasional splurge meal, I'm lucky to say that I no longer suffer from portion distortion. 

Friday, September 6, 2013

The Green Monster, PB2 style

It's time to revisit the green monster again. 
I recently discovered PB2, all of the peanut butter taste--85% less fat calories. Whhhhhhat! Sign me up. 
I was a little hesitant, but decided to try it anyways. It comes in powdered form [to be mixed as needed] and TWO tablespoons is just 45 calories. Compare that to 190 in most other brands. Plus it comes in chocolate. I digress...

Here's a modified version of my beloved smoothie:
1 sliced banana, frozen 100 cal
2 tbsp PB2 45 cal
1 cup almond milk 80 cal
1/4 cup nonfat greek yogurt 55 cal
1 cup fresh spinach 13 cal
4 ice cubes 0 cal

Throw everything in a blender & blend until smooth. A refreshing, delicious breakfast for just 293 calories!
Find original recipes here & here.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Meatless Monday Tacos

Back in April when I really decided I needed to change my lifestyle, not just go on a diet, I decided to start eating less meat. For some people, this isn't an issue. But I was raised with the mentality of eating meat at basically every meal. I decided to try a few 'meatless' options, and I was pleasantly surprised. It tricks my brain into thinking that I'm eating meat. I'm getting the nutrients I need. I'm staying full on a lot less calories. Win, win. I swear by Morningstar, but Gardein is delicious, too. I usually keep a bag or two of the meatless crumbles in my freezer because I use them for just about anything! I came up with this recipe on one of my busy days. I forgot to thaw anything out for supper and I was not about to ruin all of my hard work on fast food. Thank God for the meatless crumbles! Aaron was a little skeptical, but I won him over. He even said he wouldn't mind having them again. Score!

1/2 cup meatless crumbles 80 cal
1/4 cup salsa 20 cal
1/2 cup black beans, strained 70 cal
shredded lettuce 10 cal
2 tbsp cheddar cheese 55 cal 
2 tortillas 240 cal
2 tbsp nonfat greek yogurt 28 cal

Pour crumbles in a nonstick skillet on medium heat. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add black beans and salsa. Stir to incorporate & cook 5 more minutes. Assemble your tacos using the rest of the ingredients & serve!

Here are mine:
You can barely see all the delicious goodness for the mound of lettuce on top. JUST the way I like them :)
Two hearty tacos for a total of 503 calories. For less calories [383 cal], pile one tortilla high with all of the ingredients and serve open face.

What is your favorite meatless product?

Friday, August 30, 2013

Love my Mister

*Disclaimer: This post is not about my husband. I DO love him, though!

A while back, I saw the neatest little kitchen gadget in a magazine. An olive oil mister? How neat! I'm a sucker for kitchen gadgets, and although this peaked my interested, I wasn't interested enough to pay $19.99.
As luck would have it, I found this nifty little guy one day as I was browsing at Ross. I was shocked that they actually had it, but also shocked that it was only $7! Of course I got it. And I've been using it religiously. Gone forever are the days of spending $2+ on these aresol cans filled with a little bit of oil and God knows what else. I will never look back. Simply fill the can half full with YOUR choice of oil, pump a few times, and spray. Easy Peasy. Do yourself a favor and run [don't walk!] to Ross to get one. You can thank me later :)

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Spicy Sweet Potato Home Fries

I've been a bit obsessed with sweet potatoes lately, but with all of these benefits, can you blame me?
This is the perfect side to any lunch, especially a lunch that you would usually eat chips or fries.

Spicy Sweet Potato Home Fries
Make this wrap! 1 tortilla [120 cals], 1 wedge laughing cow cheese [35 cals], 4 slices deli style lunch meat 
[56 cal], shredded lettuce [10 cal], sweet potato home fries [54 cal]
total for the whole lunch: 275 calories!

1 small sweet potato, peeled & cubed [54 cals]
1/2 teaspoon Lawry's low sodium seasoned salt
Red pepper flakes, to taste

Spray olive oil in a skillet on medium heat. Meanwhile, put potato cubes in a bowl and toss with seasoning. Add seasoned potatoes to the skillet and cook for 10-15 minutes [depending on how 'done' you want them, I like mine to have a slight crunch to them]. And Voila! There you have your spicy sweet potato home fries. Eat these plain [no ketchup!] or, if you must have something to dip them in, try 1 tbsp fage nonfat greek yogurt [14 cals] with a squirt of horse radish sauce. So good

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Stop Making that Face

I was introduced to the deliciousness that is fermented fish sauce by way of kimchi.
Stop making that face. Yes, I said fermented fish sauce, and it's amazing.
A lot of times I'll use it in the place of salt, because it adds so much more flavor than JUST salt.
Why do I feel like I'm being judged right now?

If you eat asian food [specifically Korean or Thai] you already EAT it and you don't even know it. So go ahead, run to the store and pick up a bottle of fish sauce. The brand doesn't really matter, just make sure the bottle says first grade [the best kind]. 

Mark Sisson is the author of a wonderful blog, and in one post he speaks solely on the benefits of fermented foods. Read it here.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Green Eggs &...Jam?

Y'all, sometimes breakfast can be boring for me. I get stuck in a rut and I get tired of eating the same stuff every day! So this weekend I was looking for something a little different [I usually eat things on the sweet side for breakfast] and came up with this simple recipe with ingredients that I had on hand.

1 cup fresh spinach 13 cal
1 whole egg 70 cal
3 tbsp egg beaters [or 1 egg white] 25 cal
1 tbsp fermented fish sauce 20 cal [note:if you don't like or don't want to use the fish sauce, just season with salt as you would normally]
Pepper, to taste

Spray olive oil in a pan on medium high heat. Add spinach and allow to wilt. Meanwhile, beat egg & egg white together with the fish sauce & pepper. Once spinach has wilted, add the egg mixture & stir occasionally to 'scramble'.

Serve with a piece of whole wheat toast [60 cal], 1 tsp low cal butter [17 cal], & 1 tbsp sugar free jam [10 cal]!

A delicious, easy breakfast for just 215 calories!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Simple Tips & My Current Workout

Sometimes people ask me what my 'secret' is to my weight loss. I WISH I had some sort of secret that I could patent and become a huge money maker, but truth is, nothing that I've been doing is a secret. There is no 'get rich quick scheme' or a magic pill to get the weight to fall off. So, I'll share with you some tips and tricks that have gotten me this far.

1. Keep up with your progress from the beginning.
Use myfitnesspal, caloriecounter, or just a piece of paper. Take your measurements, your weight, & anything  else that you care to document. 

2. Pick one day a week to be your 'official' weigh in.
I weigh myself every morning, after I use the bathroom but before I eat or drink anything else. My 'official' weigh in day [the day I record my weight & measurements] is Monday. Trust me, you want to keep up with your measurements because even the weeks you don't lose a pound, you could still lose inches. And every little bit is motivation for upcoming workouts! Don't forget to take progress pictures, it's amazing to see.

3. Stay hydrated.
If you think you're drinking enough water, drink more. You should drink at least half of your body weight in ounces of water per day, OR, you could drink even more and match your weight. This is what I try to do, daily. So, 4 liters it is! 

4. Cut down on carbs/sugar.
Notice that I said cut down, not cut out. Baby steps. Obviously, if you want to completely cut these things out of your diet, then go for it. Just from my experience, I always crave something more if I tell myself I can't have it. Remember, Everything is okay in moderation.

5. Exercise!
Find something that works for you! Don't feel obligated to do insanity or zumba just because everyone else is doing it. Try various workouts and then stick with the ones that make you feel the best! 

6. Don't skip breakfast.
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day for a kick starts your metabolism. If you're beginning your weight loss journey, you need to get your metabolism in check. There are several things that you can do, start by eating breakfast every day.

7. Stop making excuses.
It's so, so easy to say, "I can't because..." 
8. Treat yo'self!
When you've worked your butt off to meet a goal and it finally happens, go 'head and get you a mocha cookie crumble. You deserve it.

As for my current workout, I've started doing the Jillian Michael's 30 Day Shred. I think this is my third try with it [I've never made it the full 30 days before!] but I'm hoping that this time around is different! 
Let me start out by saying that I am not a fan of JM. Even though I think she's annoying, I've known several people who have gotten great results from her workouts, so commence with the volume on zero.

Have any tips to add to the list? I'd love to hear them!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

My Journey

A couple of months ago, I wrote about finding out that I have [had?] high cholesterol. Since then, I've been on this mission to get healthy. Even before then, I had been losing weight, but had hit a plateau.
This is my journey.
A few weeks ago, I posted my one and only progress picture on Instagram. I was nervous, and a little embarrassed, but I did it. And I'm so glad I did! I got so much motivation from my friends, it was slightly overwhelming.
Left: 6/18/2012 The day I decided to stop hating the way I looked & felt. I had to take a picture because I knew at some point I'd need a reminder of where I came from & where I'm never going to be again. Right: 8/13/2013 14 months of hard work, changing my eating habits, a few relapses. I'm still a work in progress, but I'm happy with how far I've come & excited for where I'm going.

The best part, though? When one of my dear friends messaged me to tell me that I have inspired her. During my journey I have hit a lot of 'relapses'. From trying to go completely soda free, to drinking a 32 ounce every day for a week. From trying to go sugar free, to stopping by McDonalds every day to get chocolate chip cookies. One step forward, 500 calories back. I've had my high points and my low points, but I wouldn't have gotten where I am without having other people to help me [whether they know they're helping or not]. Over the past 14 months, I have scoured the internet. I spent numerous hours on pinterest finding health and fitness blogs, new/healthy recipes. I did a lot of research on calorie counting. I've tried various workouts, I've even bought a few things to help me along the way. My blog, for now at least, will be turned over to my health and fitness journey. I will be posting healthy recipes, no matter how simple or complex. I will be posting pictures, reviewing products, & sharing tips and tricks that keep me going. For all of the motivation I've been given, I want to give back. If I can help inspire or motivate even one person, I will be happy.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Easy Toddler Chores

I know what you're thinking. "Really?" Yes, really. My 2 year old does "chores", and let me tell you why.
Growing up, the only time I had to do "chores" was on the weekend. I'd have to make my bed and dust in the living room. Occasionally I'd have to vacuum. It wasn't until I was 20 years old and moving into an apartment that I learned how to wash my own clothes. Yes, I was very spoiled. At the time of course, I thought I was living the life! Most of my friends had daily chores, or spent all of Saturday morning cleaning, but not me. It wasn't until I had my own family that I realized that it was actually detrimental that I didn't do chores as a child. It's so much harder to get into a routine when you're not USED to doing it.
So I decided I was going to start Adelei out young. She might not do much now, but at least she'll grow up with a routine and hopefully she'll be better at this whole thing than I am.

The best part about chores with Adelei is she's still young enough to think it's fun [usually].
Here are some things that she does around the house:

-Makes her bed 
Right now it's more like she throws her blanket, animals, and pillow on there, but we'll work on neatness later.

-Helps me put clothes in the dryer
This? May be the most fun thing for her. It's kind of like throwing a ball through a hoop. How can that not be fun? Especially when I cheer her on.

-Picks up her toys
Our living room isn't very big, so when she has all of her toys scattered throughout, it can be a little annoying. Several times in the day I have her pick up the toys she's not using and put them away. Then, before bedtime I help her put them all away. I noticed that productivity increases when she has help.

-Cleans up her messes
If she spills some milk, she cleans it up. If she tears the paper off of a crayon, she cleans it up. You get the idea. 

What chores do your children do?

Monday, August 5, 2013

Flavorfy Your Life with Dasani Drops

I like to attribute a big portion of my weight loss to the fact that I starting drinking more water. I cut down the sugary drinks like tea and soda [from one or two a day to maybe one a week]. I started drinking 2-3 liters of water each day, which not only flushed out my system & got me back on track, but it also makes me eat less! Did you know that your hunger pains could really just be your body telling you that you're not hydrated enough? True story. But if I'm being honest, I still crave those sugary drinks from time to time. 

When I was contacted by Influenster saying that I qualified for the Dasani Drops challenge, I was so excited! I could hardly wait for the box to arrive. And when it did? I was pleasantly surprised.
Not only did it come with two full size bottles of drops [in grape and strawberry kiwi], but also with a bottle of Dasani water and coupons to give to my friends!

What I like about the drops is that it gives a good flavor without all the sugar or weird after taste that you get from drops like MiO and Crystal Light. It calms my craving for a soda and I don't feel guilty about it after I finish. My daughter even likes it and asks for it in her sippy cup daily.

The only downside I've noticed so far is that it is a little pricey. Compared to some of the other brands it's $1+ more at my local grocery store. I whole heartedly believe that [for us] it's worth it.

Have you tried Dasani Drops or any other water flavor enhancers? What did you like or dislike about them?

Disclaimer: I received these products complimentary for testing purposes from Influenster.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Finding Happy

Earlier in the summer, I found myself in a weird, dark, ugly place. 
It took me a while to realize it.
I had everything I could have ever wanted; a new house, a reliable car, a healthy in the bank, clothes on my back, food on the table.  
But there I was, a crying mess pretty much every day. 
I blamed it on my birth control. 
I blamed it on my husband. 
I blamed it on my lack of 'me' time.
I blamed it on my lack of sleep.
Sometimes I blamed it on my friends. 
Of course I blamed it on the heat, and even the fact that I was 1000 miles away from my family. 

Luckily, when I was at my absolute lowest point, I was in Alabama at my Nanny's house. I was going on and on about everything and nothing. How nothing was making me happy. What was wrong with me? I'm only 25, why do I feel like I'm going through a mid life crisis. And then she said something that made me stop in my tracks. 'How can you be happy with anything when you're not happy with yourself?'

That's pretty much all it took. She's 100% supportive of everything I do, but sometimes all it takes is a little tough love to steer me in the right direction. She's not afraid to say something that needs to be said, and I'm glad she did. Over the next couple of weeks, I did a lot of thinking. I did a lot of praying and soul searching.
Nanny came back with me to Oklahoma, so I had plenty of 'me' time to figure out why I wasn't happy, what makes me happy, and how to feel like myself again.

Is life perfect right now? No, but it's pretty darn close.
I'm learning every day that it's not up to anyone else to make me happy, it's up to me to find happiness. So I drink coffee every morning and sometimes at night. I 'play pretend' with my daughter and color outside of the lines. I sing loud and out of key.

But now, for at least today, I'm happy.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Adelei's Favorite Apps

Adelei LOVES all things technology. Of course that's not really surprising, most kids do. But don't leave your phone [or iPod, or Nook, etc] just lying around. She knows how to turn them on and how to unlock the simple lock screen. Baby genius or the product of a tech savvy generation? I'll let you decide. Anyway, here are a few of her favorite apps! 

I was introduced to this app by a friend who's kids used it and loved it! Being a free download, I wasn't really sure what to expect, but I was pleasantly surprised. Not only does it have a ton of popular age appropriate videos, it also has an art studio, and a library [where you can record yourself reading for your child to hear!]. The best part, though? It's all in kid mode! Which means that once you get in the app, they can't get out! NO more random phone calls or asjdlkfjaks text messages! 

I can't tell you how many times having this app has saved my sanity on a grocery trip. They have some really great shows on there that are not only fun, but full of learning! Some of Adelei's favorites include Sesame Street, Super Why!, and LeapFrog Phonics Farm.

Every night at bed time, we turn on the nursery rhyme station on Pandora. We sing a little, dance a little, and before you know it, baby girl is fast asleep.

Adelei loves to 'play' ABC Mouse on the computer, but let's be honest, NO one wants to sit at the computer all of the time. Luckily, she can play a condensed version on the iPod. This definitely comes in handy on road trips!

These apps have fun little songs to learn the alphabet, numbers, shapes, & more! It's a nice change of pace from flash cards and workbooks.

What are some of your children's favorite apps?

Thursday, July 18, 2013

I'm Back [again, maybe]

Every time I come back from a long break from blogging, I almost feel the need to apologize for my absence. But life happens, so I can't really be sorry for getting caught up in the moment.

What's been happening with us for the past few months?
We bought a house.
We went on a mini vacay to Dallas [and fell in love].
I took a 16 hour road trip with a toddler and a dog, all by myself.
We got a new pup.
Adelei turned 2!
Nanny came to visit.
And finally, life is slowing down a bit. So maybe I'll finally have time to blog again...soon ;)

Saturday, April 27, 2013

The Embarrassing Truth

Can I tell you guys a secret?
Last week I found out that I have high cholesterol.
Yep. I'm 25. 
How terribly embarrassing.
At first I was devastated. "Are you sure?" I asked the nurse.
She was positive. Blood tests don't lie.
My throat started closing up, because even though I wasn't 100% sure what that meant, I knew it wasn't good. I cried. A lot. And then, in my head I blamed the way I was raised...eating fried foods daily, drinking sweet tea instead of water, cake for breakfast. And yes, I'm sure that had something to do with it, but the minute I turned 18 I took control. I made the decisions, but it wasn't until recently that I decided I couldn't live like that anymore. At this point I've been counting calories for 3 weeks, and I feel better. I'm going to the gym 3 days a week. I'm taking nutrition classes. I have taken control. I can turn this around. I have changed my lifestyle for the better. 
The craziest thing I've heard so far? Most people my age probably have it and don't even know it. Lucky for me though, I get the chance to fix it now. I don't have to wait until it's so high I have to be prescribed medicine.
And no matter how embarrassing that is, I'm thankful I have another chance.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Sneaky Mom Meals

I think I've posted this recipe before, but I completely forgot about it. Adelei loves tots, and she liked eating these before, so I thought I'd try them again.

Yield: 12-15 mini tots
  • 1 cup zucchini, grated
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ of an onion, diced
  • ¼ cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • ¼ cup dry breadcrumbs
  • salt and pepper to taste
Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Grate zucchini on a paper towel, then use the paper towel to wring the water out of the zucchini. If you skip this step, your tots will be mushy, not crispy! Dice onion.
Put all ingredients in a bowl and mix. Spray a mini cupcake tin with olive oil and fill each hole until full.
Bake for 15-18 minutes!
That's it. Easy peasy.

Simple & Yummy. The proof is in the picture ;)

She loved them! Definitely going to be making these more often. The best part? They're not just toddler food. So go ahead and whip up a double batch for the whole fam. They're so delicious, you won't feel guilty indulging.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Why Isn't Always Legit

I've been using for several years to find the best deals on hotels when we travel. I've always been pretty pleased with the prices, but looking back, I blame that on my ignorance. Ignorance is bliss, right?
Last year, we booked our spring break hotel room through We got a decent price ($101 per night), considering it was spring break, and we were staying at the beach. I didn't complain. But when we were checking in to our hotel, the front desk clerk just happened to mention that if we would have booked directly through the Hampton Inn we could have actually gotten a significantly cheaper rate. Interesting. Fast forward to present day.

We're planning a vacation to Dallas in May. I searched for days looking at the rates, even signing up for their 'price watch' alert. I was very disappointed in the prices and even thought we may have to postpone our trip, until my husband reminded me about last spring. Call the actual hotel, he said. And so I did. Right after I called to make sure that I was getting the 'lowest price possible'. They assured me that the price on their site was the cheapest rate. Add $10 per night to upgrade from two double beds to a king ($77 per night). Makes total sense, right? Pffff! I called the hotel directly. I told them exactly what I was looking for, and the dates that I needed. The price that they gave me was $19 cheaper PER NIGHT of what was offering, for the exact amenities I was looking for. doesn't offer a military discount, according to the customer service representative that I spoke to. MOST hotels DO offer them. I've learned my lesson the hard way, and I wanted to share it with you all. Even if you don't get any additional discounts, it may be cheaper to book directly through the hotel. At the very least, it can't hurt to try.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Sweet Indulgence

Counting Calories can be fun and all [especially when I'm seeing results!], but it can also be annoying. Like when I have a hankering for a frappe, but realize that there's almost as many calories in one little cup as there was in my entire lunch [300 calories in a 12 oz caramel frappe from Starbucks]? That's annoying. But realistic. So when I want to cheat these days and have a sweet coffee treat, I came up with a little something to fit my needs. Not only is it less calories, but it's also budget friendly because it uses ingredients that I always keep on hand!

4 frozen coffee cubes*
12 oz almond milk
1/4 cup vanilla frozen yogurt
fat free whipped cream [optional]

Take your frozen cubes* and put them in the blender with your frozen yogurt and milk, blend for 10-15 seconds or until there are no large chunks of ice left. Pour into your favorite glass and top with whipped cream!

Not only is it deliciously rich and creamy, but it couldn't be easier to make!

Here is the calorie breakdown:
coffee cubes - 2 cal
almond milk - 120 cal
fro yo - 35 cal
whipped cream -  5 cal
Total: 162 calories

Looking for less calories than that? Try using 8 oz of almond milk [80 cal] with one less ice cube & you'll have a smaller treat with the same great taste for only 122 calories!

*To make the frozen coffee cubes, just brew your favorite coffee and once cooled, pour into an ice tray. Freeze for 2-3 hours or overnight.
If you're going to add any sweeteners, do so while coffee is still hot [just be mindful in doing so, as you're adding calories!]. Six cups of brewed coffee for me made two trays of coffee cubes.

Monday, April 15, 2013

A Better Breakfast

From time to time, I get burnt out on drinking shakes for breakfast. When that happens, I look for something low in calories while also being delicious and filling.

That's how I discovered this treat:
It's so simple. Honey Wheat Toast with Almond Butter and Honey Drizzle. So. Good.
I've been pairing this with a banana and 8 oz of 2% milk for a total of 395 calories. That may seem a little on the high side, but it keeps me full until lunch. No mid morning snacks for me!

What's your favorite healthy breakfast?

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Sneaky Mom Meals

I always say that my daughter was born hungry, because, well...she was.
While I was being sewn up, the nurses fed her an ounce of formula, and from what I've heard, she sucked it down in no time.
My sweet girl, she's always had a good appetite. She's pretty much always eaten anything I've put in front of her.
Until lately...
For the last few weeks, she hasn't been eating very much. Even her favorite foods [spaghetti and chicken nuggets!] have been pushed to the side [or thrown on the floor]. She isn't being very receptive to 'new' foods, either. Do you know how frustrating that can be?
Anyway, I've been trying to find ways to get her the nutrients that she needs while masking it with something 'fun' so she doesn't immediately start demanding to get down from her high chair [yes, she does that.]

Here's my first try:
Cheesy Carrot Quesadilla
It's as easy as it sounds and it was a huge hit.

1 Carrot, shredded
1/4 cup Cheese
1 whole wheat flour tortilla

Shred a carrot [or 4 baby carrots]. I just put them in my food processor for a few seconds, and it was perfect. Heat a skillet on medium, using olive oil spray or a little bit of butter to help it brown. Add the quesadilla, carrot, and as much or as little cheese as you think is appropriate for your child. I used very little (1/4 cup) since Adelei already has digestive issues. Once the cheese has melted, just fold the tortilla in half and cut into 4 triangles. Wa-La! I served it with a side of raw carrots and homemade ranch dip.

I know I can't be the only one going through this phase, so I decided to document it, in the off chance that someone else just as frustrated may come across it. If you have any sneaky mom meals, feel free to share them! If you take a picture of your sneaky mom meal, use hashtag #sneakymommeal on instagram or twitter. Let's help each other out!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Flashing Lights

I'm coming to y'all today from a dark place.
I was trying to be optimistic, but at this point I'm saying, 'What else could go wrong?'
First of all, it has been rainy/cold for the past 3 days. Which means no playing outside. And Adelei is refusing to nap. Can you see where this is headed?
Today I had my second, yes second, pap smear in a month. Ladies, take a moment to let that sink in. You know how bad it is to have it done once a year, nevermind the fact that my doctor apparently did it wrong the first time and couldn't even get a reading.
Really? Awesome. I love feeling violated and sore for days.
But to add insult to injury, on my way home I got a speeding ticket. My first one ever, and a really, really expensive one.

So that's my rant. At this point I'm just hoping that the pap smear comes back fine and that my husband doesn't kill me for getting a ticket. It could be worse, right?

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

A Brighter Future

This past weekend, while we were browsing around the Easter Festival, we stumbled upon the credit union booth. They were setting up savings accounts for children with no start up fee, no monthly fees, and as an added incentive, if you completed the paperwork then, they would put $5 in the account. How could I say no to that? We've been toying around with the idea of doing this since before Adelei was born, but kept putting it off for one reason or another. Seeing how easy it was to get started, though, allowed me to fully commit and get the ball rolling. Now that it's opened, we're looking at our monthly budget to see how much we feel comfortable depositing each month. We are hoping that this account will be untouched over the next 16 years, so that Adelei will have money to use to pay for college/living expenses. 

For those of you who have kids, do you have savings for them? What other options have you found to help them become financially stable?

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Mom Life.

Because sometimes we need to remember that we're all just doing the best we can with what we're given. That just because we get frustrated doesn't mean that we love our children any less. That we may have to do things we said we'd never do just to save our sanity. That doesn't make us bad parents. It makes us human.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Focaccia is for Lovers

Y'all should know by now that bread baking is something that I absolutely love to do.
My bread machine is one of my most prized possessions, along side of my cast iron skillets.
But sometimes, I don't like to wait for bread.
So when I saw this recipe, I thought it would be perfect for those nights when I don't feel like waiting around for my perfect little bread machine to make it's perfect little dough.

I was a little skeptical, but I carried on, none the less.

I had all of the ingredients already, so it was just a matter of mixing it all together.
You don't need a bread machine, a simple hand mixer will do.
Once the dough had formed, I rolled it out and placed it in a cast iron skillet.
This created a lovely, crispy crust on the bottom, and the rest was light and fluffy.
It was the easiest bread I've ever made, and definitely one of the most delicious.
If you have an hour, and enjoy fresh baked bread, take a leap and make this.
I promise you won't regret it.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Bless My Heart, Bless My Soul

At this moment, I'm lounging on the recliner with my laptop & one earbud in listening to Alabama Shakes as loud as my ear can stand. Yes, only one earbud, on the off chance that my sleeping baby may wake and need me. 
Mom Life.
 It's been a while since I last updated, as a few of my blog friends have emailed to remind me. Where have I been? What have I been up to?
Everything and nothing.

To summarize the past month...
I quit my job. That was a glorious feeling.
I got really, really sick. I wouldn't wish gallbladder issues on my worst enemy.
My family came to town for two weeks. We went to a ball, and even had a few date nights without having to pay a babysitter! 

Other than that, I've been settling in to the whole stay at home mom routine again, and staying busy with my shop.

I do intend on blogging more regularly from here on out, but I can't make any promises. So if you'd like to keep up with me, you can find me on instagram, facebook, and sometimes even twitter.

Happy Weekend!

Saturday, February 9, 2013


I've been wanting to write this post for a couple of weeks, but I waited.
I waited until I could tell the people that needed to be told, you know, just in case they read my blog. [Doubtful, but possible]
If you follow me on twitter, you may already know, but...
I quit my job.
I didn't just up & quit, though.
Last Monday I put in my letter of resignation, and felt an overwhelming sense of joy and relief wash over me.
For the sake of staying professional, I'll just say that the biggest reason that I decided to call it quits was because my babysitter is PCSing & daycare is just too expensive. 
The budget will be a little tighter, but I think it will ultimately make for a happier momma & baby.
So there we go. A single income family, once again.
I am excited to get back to teaching/learning with Adelei. I'm excited for library visits, afternoons at the park, play dates, and the hour or two each day I'll get to myself while baby girl is taking a nap!
And of course I'm excited to get back to my crafting. I've missed it so much!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

New Way of Life

Last month, Aaron and I totally revamped our budget. A few things are changing in our life, and in order to prepare for that, we needed to change our spending habits. 
We did a lot of research. 
None of the cookie cutter budgets fit what we wanted. We picked things that we liked about different styles, but we're focusing on the Dave Ramsey way of life. So far, we've paid off one of Aaron's student loans, and things are looking very promising. We've only been doing this for one month, but it just feels so good to be getting out of debt! That just leaves two more student loans plus my car loan, and we'll be debt free. I know it will take a few years, but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, and that my friends, feels amazing.
Here are a few of the things that we've changed so far:
  • We quit going out to dinner so often. This may seem kind of silly, but it has worked. When we do want to go out to eat on the weekends, we usually go during lunch. Not only are the portions generally smaller at lunch [better for my waistline], but the prices are usually cheaper, too.
  • During the work week, I come home for lunch since my office is about 5 miles away. Aaron packs his lunch on most days.
  • I go grocery shopping once a month. Again, I've only been doing this for a month, and January was pretty successful, but I have some kinks to work out. My plan is to do all of my bulk shopping once a month, and then pick up milk/eggs/bread as needed. To some this may sound crazy, but here's how it worked for us: 1) not going to the commissary weekly saved me $5 a week in tips for the baggers alone ($15 savings for the month) 2) Bulk shopping [buying family packs of meat & breaking it down] saves me so much, compared to buying single serve packages for each meal. 3) The less I'm in the store, the less money I spend. In other words, every time I go, I may pick up extra things not on my list if they are on sale, etc. even if I don't necessarily need them at the time. 4) I'm not wasting my day off going to the store with a grumpy toddler. On the days I need milk, Aaron will pick it up on his way home from work...saves time & gas.
  • I've started making more things homemade. This includes buying dry beans to prepare instead of buying canned. Making my own soup. Making my own rolls, pizza crust, bread sticks, etc. You get the idea.
  • I've gotten back in to couponing. I quit for a while right after I started work because it was just too much for me to keep up with at the time. It's definitely worth it for us, though, because most of the hygiene items that we use are on a Walgreen's/CVS sales rotation.
I don't have any hard figures at the moment for how much these small changes are helping us, but I'm hoping that once I work out the kinks I can share them with you all. 
If there's one thing I've learned, it's that you can't save for the future until you get out of debt. **
This, for us, was life changing. 

**Another blogger pointed out my mistake. You can put money into savings while getting out of debt.  However, I continually tell myself that I can't start really saving until we get out of debt. We have a savings account with an amount that we are secure with, and until we pay off our debt, we don't plan on adding to that. If you do not have a savings account, but want to save while trying to become debt free, please ignore my mantra!

Monday, January 28, 2013

On Life

When we first found out that we were moving to Fort Sill, I was overwhelmed with negative comments. Some of the people had been here and experience first hand what the Lawton/Fort Sill area had [or didn't have] to offer. Most had not, but had 'seen on t.v.' or 'heard' about what it was like here. Not only were we moving to our first duty station, but it just so happened to be 1,000 miles away from our friends and family. It was nerve wracking, to say the least, and everyone else's two cents didn't help.
In the short time leading up to our move, I tried staying positive. 
I'd be lying if I said I didn't cry about it a few times, and I often had worries about what life would be like that far away from familiarity, but mostly, I was looking forward to our 'new' life together.
Life is what you make it.
After 7 months of living here, I'm writing this [mostly for myself], but also on the off chance that someone else can relate to how I was feeling.

This is what I heard:
There's nothing to do in Lawton.
The crime rate is terrible.
Better watch out, it's tornado alley!

This is how I feel:
There is so much to do in Lawton! You have to be proactive, but there are lots of things to do. Even if the things going on in town aren't your cup of tea, OKC is 1.5 hours away, Wichita Falls less than an hour, and Dallas is about 3 hours away. I guarantee you will find something to do with ALL of these big city choices so close by!

As for the crime rate, there are several websites that you can go to to check it out. For me, someone telling me how bad the crime rate in the town was did nothing but scare me. It certainly didn't stop me from moving because the move wasn't my choice to begin with. All I can say about that is either live on base, or live on the good side of town [which we do], and take all of the necessary precautions to make sure that you're not a victim due to your own stupidity [locking cars, deadbolts, windows, etc].

We haven't been here during 'peak' tornado season [March - May], but the weather hasn't been too bad here thus far. I've survived my fair share of tornadoes in Alabama, though.

There are always going to be people trying to ruin your happiness, trying to sway your opinion, trying to make you miserable. Misery loves company.
One of my biggest struggles is trying to see the positive in all situations, but at least I'm trying.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Salted Caramel Cake Pops

Last year, my dear hubby introduced me to the salted caramel mocha from Starbucks, and I became obsessed
More recently, my sister introduced me to the salted caramel cake pops and I couldn't believe how amazing they were. I found myself craving them, but they're kind of expensive, so I wanted to try to learn to make them myself.

Alas, here is my version of the salted caramel cake pops, inspired by starbucks.

1 box chocolate fudge cake mix
2-3 tbsps chocolate frosting
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
1/4 cup caramel melts
kosher salt

heavy cream

Make the cake mix according to directions. Bake & allow to cool completely before you begin creating the balls. Break cake up into tiny pieces into a large bowl (this should be super easy since the cake is fresh and moist). Add frosting a tablespoon at a time. Less is more. You don't want the balls to be so moist and sticky that they don't stay together. Once you have a nice, firm consistency  let the mixture rest for 10-15 minutes. Roll mixture into 1 to 1 1/2 inch balls and place on a wax paper covered sheet tray. Once all balls are formed, place in the refrigerator for 30-45 minutes in order to firm. [Optional: dip sucker sticks in melted chocolate before inserting into the middle of the balls.] 

After balls have hardened, put chocolate chips in the microwave in 30 second intervals until completely melted. Dip each ball with the chocolate and tap to get rid of excess chocolate. Allow to dry [10-15 minutes]. Melt white chocolate in microwave in 30 second intervals until completely melted. Melt caramels the same way. I found that the caramels didn't get as soft as I wanted, so I added a tbsp of butter and a tbsp of heavy cream and microwaved until it was a smooth consistency. Put a dollop of white chocolate on each pop. Then put a dollop of caramel on top of that. Add a sprinkle of kosher salt and refrigerate for 30-45 minutes.

They aren't perfect, but they taste like heaven. I promise, they're so good, you won't regret the time it takes to make! Plus, take these to a party and you'll really impress your friends!

During this process, though, I did find a few things that I want to change next time. Instead of chocolate chips, I want to use candy melts. From what I hear, the consistency is a lot thinner and would be easier to work with. I also want to create my own caramel frosting to use in the mixture rather than chocolate frosting to add more of a caramel flavoring. Lastly, I'm going to use coarse sea salt in place of kosher salt. My hubby said these didn't have enough salt on them to truly be called salted caramel. So there you have it!

Do you have any fun ideas or tips for cake pops?