Friday, August 10, 2012

My lifestyle shift & Lose it! app review

This is my goal.

It's a dress I've never worn.  It was given to me by my mother, who has worn it, and she bought it in Hawaii when she and my dad were meeting there while he was on leave from Vietnam in the late 60's.  There's no size in it, so I have nothing to go by except whether or not it zips.  Right now, it doesn't zip.

Back story:
Recently I went to the doctor expecting him to say I'll need to have my gallbladder removed.  I've had 2 bouts of severe abdominal pain in the last 6 months, and even the nurse practitioner at the walk-in clinic said it's most likely my gallbladder.  She said "eat bland food, avoid anything fried."

Ummm, what does "bland food" look like?

She replies "Chicken and rice. Nothing heavy, Nothing spicy."

Great.  I failed to mention to her that I absolutely love cooking yummy meals. Food is one of my passions and I don't eat many pre-packaged foods, if at all.  Have you met me before? HELLO?!

When I got home, I did what most paranoid people would do - Google.  Search: Gallbladder food not to eat.  And there's the list... as long as my arm-- basically an inventory of what I have in my refrigerator and pantry.  Deep sigh.  There are several articles.

Avoid spicy, fried, avocado, cold cuts, dairy, such as milk, ice cream and cheese, butter, shortening, oil, mayonnaise, bacon, cream, nuts, olives, cream soups, pasta, bread... just to name a few.

Needless to say, I had to break up with bacon.  Moreso, I need to change my eating habits and get healthier, gallbladder problems or not.  I decide whole grains, chicken and rice, and veggies are now going to replace chicken and dumplings and mac n cheese in my life.

I remember that Brooke told me about this new app she's using to track her weight loss and exercise. It's called Lose it! and she loves it,  it's free so I download it.

I enter my current weight: 190
I enter my goal weight: 165
I choose the date I'd like to be at my goal: October 20.
I choose how many pounds I want to lose per week: 2. (That's the maximum) 

Immediately, the app calculates how many calories I need per day to lose 2 lbs every week until October 20.

After 2+ weeks of using this app, I've lost some weight, AND no gallbladder attacks!   

What I love:
- It's a calorie counting app that's easy to find common foods and their calories are built in to the program.
- It even allows you to scan a bar code on foods you purchase.
- The layout is easy to see where you are in the day, how many calories you've consumed, and how many you've burned.
- Set up and customize "Motivators" to remind you to log your meals and exercises.
- Their website is linked, and you can do the same activities through, plus there are forums where you can search advice, recipes and more ideas to help you stay on track.
- Goals can be modified.
- The date adjusts if you lose weight faster or slower.
- Sexual Activity is a calorie burner!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

I love my home.

I know that sounds a bit materialistic, but I wouldn't consider myself obsessed with THINGS.  I love my home and all the little things that it's filled with that make me smile. There are so many more things, but this is good for today.

My Collection of vintage cameras and some of my owls - all thrifted or gifts.

This globe was rescued from my parents attic, and the owls were thrifted by my husband.

I call this collection "The Natural History Museum" - it's mostly Marine, though. (That's a stingray barb in the magnifying glass.)

This collection is very special to me. It's made of military items from both my Dad and my Husband.

My Kitchen/Dining Room
Painting is a recent thrift, it reminds me of my grandmother.  Gas Can Guitar is a work-in-progress of my Husband's)

Basil and Chives in the kitchen window.

Owl cookie jar from Jason, scale and wooden fish - thrifted.

The mashup where everything fun ends up.

Collection of planters and succulents, thrifted.

My Girls and Back Porch/Yard


Deer head in the background - thrifted.

Theres a lizard in the plant, Lola is sure of it.
Our handmade path, and Lola waiting for someone to throw the ball.

I love all of the lizard babies on our porch. Lola does too. (This lovely hanging planter was my mother's)

Sweet bench - thrifted.

I'm so proud of the deck we built, and the funky edge we made.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Macaroni Shrimp Salad

The best thing about this salad is: it is so easy to make. It's great for a summer party, it looks very gourmet, and it's a crowd pleaser.  This could feed 4 to 8 people.  This takes about 30 min to make, and I highly suggest making it ahead, so it can have time to marry flavors in the fridge.

1 Cup Macaroni - you could substitute sea shells or another small pasta
1 Can Yellow Corn
1/2 Small yellow onion, minced
2-3 handfuls of shrimp (I used frozen, but you could use any shellfish, fresh or frozen)
1 handful chopped green onions
1 handful sweet peas (frozen works best)

2 heaping spoonful Sour Cream
2 heaping spoonful Mayo
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp dried dill (or 1 tbsp fresh dill)
salt & pepper to taste

I used frozen Publix Shrimp, Luckily I had a bag that was half full
and I just used what was left about 25-35 med. shrimp.  Place
in a bowl of cold water to thaw, shell if needed.

I always add plenty of salt to the water when I cook pasta, probably
close to 3 tbsp.  It seasons the pasta, and in this case, we're going 
to cook everything in one pot, so I'm seasoning everything else too.

Bring a medium Sauce pan of water to a boil.
Put in the macaroni.
While you wait for the water to boil, and whilethe pasta cooks, we prep:

I like making dressing in a large glass measuring cup so I can pour
it easily.  I used whatever was in my kitchen at the time.  I keep
lemon juice like this in my fridge, since every time I buy lemons,
they go bad before I can use them.

Shell the shrimp if necessary, making sure any veins are gone.

Mix all the ingredients for the dressing and set aside.  Taste it
and add more of what you need.

When Pasta is about halfway cooked, add in the corn.

TIP: take out one piece of pasta and bite into it,
if it has a thick darker line, or if it's very chewy, but the outside
is slightly soft, you're ready.

Chop all of the shrimp into smaller bite-size pieces.

Add the shrimp to the pasta and corn.

The shrimp really should take 2 minutes to cook through,
you can tell it's done when it turns pink!
Drain the pasta and put in a large bowl.

Chop the onions.  

TIP: For green onions, I have them on hand all the time.
Anytime I buy green onions, I immediately chop them and put them
in my freezer in a water bottle.  They keep really well and I just
shake out how much I need.  Anytime they're on sale: STOCK UP!

Combine all of your ingredients while they are warm, and they will
really absorb the dressing flavor.

Make sure to taste again, and add salt and pepper to taste.

Before serving, chill in fridge for at LEAST an hour. 
(Although, it's good hot too!)

Friday, March 9, 2012

Thunder Soup - Recipe

Thunder is a word my husband and I use for food that's really really good.   We REALLY love this soup.

Thunder Soup, as I've named it, is something I came up with as an experiment in the kitchen.  I happened to have all of these supplies lying around, and I think you'll probably have some of them if not most of them currently in your pantry.  Not only is it delish, and full of veggies... The best part about this soup - to me, anyway - is the leftover factor.  Not only is it GREAT the next day, I've also frozen half and eaten it weeks later, and it's possibly even better than the day I made it. 

There are a lot of ingredients, so lets get started!

- 1/2 lb Bacon, chopped
- 6-8 chicken tenderloins or 3-4 boneless skinless breasts, cubed
- 1/2 pkg. Smoked Sausage, chopped
- 1 Medium Sweet Onion, Chopped
- 1/4-1/2 Cup Milk or Heavy Cream (optional. this binds the soup more)
- 2 cups Chicken or Veggie Stock
- 1 Can Sweet Corn, drained
- 1 Can Carrots, drained and chopped
- 1 Can Butter beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 Can Campbell's Golden Mushroom Soup  
(this is my go-to ingredient, I buy some every time I go shopping)
- 1 Can Cream of Potato Soup
- 1 Cup frozen Spinach
Salt and Pepper to taste


Chop the bacon, onions and chicken first while your pan is heating up.  In a large Stock Pot over medium heat, brown the bacon and onions, and remove from the pan immediately once it's done.  Raise the heat to med high. Add the chicken to the bacon fat and cook till almost done. Reduce heat to low. 

Now dump in the rest of the ingredients, yep all of them. Chicken and bacon, sausage, spinach, cans of everything - Dump it all in. Stir until it comes to a slight boil, and turn to the lowest setting on your stovetop.  Cover, and go do something for 30 minutes (check on it occasionally, to stir).  Let the flavors marry... then Taste it. Add salt and pepper to taste, and you're done!
(If it comes out thick, I serve over green onion mashed potatoes)

This one was freshly made.

*IMPORTANT: Make sure your pan is fully heated before adding chicken, otherwise you'll end up with water instead of bacon grease at the end.  If that happens, dump the pan, and use reserved bacon grease, crisco or butter.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Refinishing a Desk - Before and After

I think the photos will speak for themselves. 

After -- The Finished Desk



 What do you think of the new desk?

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Part 3a - Refinishing a desk...

I'm sure you're wondering - "Did she finish the desk?"  or  "Show us already!"

The truth is... I'm still working on it.  I've painted, sanded, painted again, and painted any touch-ups in spots that needed it.  I've also painted the INSIDE of ALL the drawers, to make it prettier.

What really slowed me down in this process is the drawer pulls.  I had decided from the beginning that I would throw out the old ones and get new ones.  But then, I started looking for new ones, and some were nice, some were beautiful, but none felt like they belonged with the style and paint job of this desk.  Until NOW.

Today (JUST NOW), I purchased a set of Fire Orange Vintage pulls on Etsy, and just can't wait to get them on the desk!  Here's a sneak preview...  what do you think?

Friday, February 3, 2012

Part 3 - Stripping and Painting

Now it's time for the FUN part - the desk has been stripped, sanded and primed - ready to PAINT!

Currently, I look to Pinterest for inspiration for everything from dinner to art, so I was pleasantly surprised when I found a ton of great DIY before and after images that involved refinishing furniture.  When I came across THIS photo (courtesy of Jesse Nine Red), I stopped in my tracks.  I turned to Jason and said "this is it." He smiled and said "that's AWESOME!"  I bought the paint the next day.

So, I've only just begun to paint. The above table was a jumping-off point for me, an inspiration. As you can see, my desk is starting out primarily Aqua/Turquoise (which I love!), but the cobalt just doesn't look "cobalt" enough for me. I painted the drawers anyway, hoping that after they dried, I'd like it better.

I don't.

So here we are in a holding pattern.  I'll be heading to Lowe's to get my paint darkened sometime this weekend.  I'll also be shopping for drawer knobs.

After seeing how great the wide drawer looks, I plan on painting the inside and outside of all the drawers now.

Your thoughts on the cobalt dark blue?

Thursday, February 2, 2012

First Time Stripping (Furniture) - Part 2

Day 2 of stripping! Drawers are done and ready to prime, the next step is the beast of this desk. I started this at 11:30am by spraying the stripper all over the desk, coating it as evenly as possible.

(Note: let me remind you how harmful this stripper is - use protective gloves, and don't spray against the wind.)

I used nearly a whole can for just the drawers, so I was concerned that I might need more stripper for the desk body.

As expected, within about 5 minutes, the paint was already bubbled.  My suggestion: WAIT at least the full 10 minutes before you start clearing the paint off, or longer if you have the patience.

Again, the multiple layers of paint were a challenge.  The desk only had 3 layers of paint over the wood finish, and was easier to go through than the drawers.  Areas that didn't have as much stripper didn't bubble up as much. 

These legs were torture.  Using a flat scraper across a curved surface will make you a little nuts.  For tight corners, angles and curves, use a wire brush, tooth brush or steel wool. I used the paint scraper first, then followed up with a super scour pad.

At this point, I was ready to apply more stripper...

... and it helped! more of the paint was coming off, but it wasn't good enough, and I ran out of stripper.

Hours later...

When all else fails, grab a power tool.  As you can see from the shadows, this is much later in the day, around 5pm.  I broke down and used the power sander, which worked brilliantly.  I started with a 50 grit paper (very coarse) and finished with a 110 grit.  (Higher number = finer sandpaper)  My makeshift dust mask protected my air passages, but my glasses really weren't enough protection from getting bits of sawdust in my eyes. I'm ok.

All stripped, sanded, and ready to prime!

Since the sun was going down, I flipped the desk to prime everything except for the top.
I also primed the drawers, and since I was planning to paint the inside of the wide drawer, I primed that too.  I used about 2 cans of Valspar primer on all of it.

Coming soon: Part 3 & 4 - Painting and Finishing the desk!