Monday, April 30, 2012

First Hike of the Season! (and Insanity progress)

Yesterday Stacey & I went up to Frisco to do a hike up to Lilly Pad Lake!  

It was such a beautiful day - the boys went snowboarding at Breckenridge's last day of the season, and we decided to do our first hike of the season instead.  We brought some snacks, and hit the trail. 

I absolutely love this hike.  It was one of the first ones I did with my family when we first moved to Colorado, and this is probably the 4th or 5th time I've done it.  It's only about 1.5 miles to the lake, so 3 miles roundtrip.  And the scenery is just gorgeous! 

The weather was PERFECT too!  Not too hot, with a bit of a chilly breeze (but not too chilly).  It was gorgeous, and I had an awesome time. 

When we got to the lake we stopped for lunch.  I brought a sandwich (on a Rudi's Organic sandwich flat - only 1 Weight Watchers point!), with romaine lettuce, ricotta cheese, mushrooms, mustard, and roasted red peppers.  I also had an apple and some granola.  YUM. 

Stacey on our little lunch break by the lake! 

For some reason there were a lot of downed trees on the path this time - I think from the thunderstorms and wind that have been whipping through the area lately.  So we had to climb over some trees & such - it was quite an adventure.  Stacey decided to ride one like a cowgirl.  Hilarious. :) 

Our little dirt path of happiness. 

I drove home afterwards - it wasn't a terribly hard hike, but I was pretty exhausted!  My legs were still tingling from the walk - it was a great workout. 

Of course I had to come home and do my Insanity workout afterward - that was rough!  Haha!  But I totally did it. ;)
Speaking of which, as far as my progress with the INSANITY workouts go - I'm just over 2-weeks in (17 days to be exact)!  It's still hard as heck, but I'm pushin' on through.  I took my measurements, and my weight after beginning a couple of weeks ago - and I've got some great news! 

I'm down 5 more pounds (WOOT), which means I'm now down a TOTAL of 15 pounds since the beginning of the year.  YEAH!  

I'm also down a 1/2 an inch around my chest, a 1/2 an inch around my waist, and a FULL INCH around my hips!  Holy moly!  After 2 weeks!! 

Now again, I am combining the workouts with eating right - I've started Weight Watchers again (basically picked up from when I used to do their Core plan), and that's definitely sped up my results.  Remember, eating makes up 70% of your weight loss - the other 30% is activity! 

I think the best part about this so far is that my clothes are fitting me better.  My jeans don't pinch, and my t-shirts are starting to hang looser around my tummy.  It's AWESOME! 
After my crazy workout, I finally got to relax.  I watched Inception for the 4th time (LOVE that movie!!), and when I found out The Cutting Edge was on Netflix - I had to watch that one too!! 

I'd totally forgotten how great this movie is.  It's kind of a classic from my childhood!  It's actually really witty - some of the one-liners still crack me up.  I may need to watch Blades of Glory again too, just because of how much fun I had with this one! 

Hope you all had an AWESOME weekend! :) 


Thursday, April 26, 2012

A South American Inspired Salad - Lovely Weekend Lunch

Over the weekend I had time to make a recipe that I learned after going to a FREE cooking class at the Denver Library.  It was all about South American street foods, and one of the recipes was a quinoa salad.  It was SO DELICIOUS and I had to share it with you!  I added a few additions of my own, just to make it even more fun. :) 

Super Quinoa Salad
Serves about 4-5 

1 cup quinoa (cooked - in the end should equal about 2-3 cups total)
3 scallions (chopped)
1/2 a jalapeno (minced)
1 cucumber (skin removed, diced into small chunks)
1 tomato (diced)
2 cloves garlic (minced)
1 avocado (diced)
2 handfuls of arugula (or fresh spinach)
Juice of 1/2 a lemon (or lime)
Olive oil (about 2 tbsp, plus some extra for drizzling)
About 1/2 a cup of crumbled Queso Fresca (or you can use Feta cheese, but I really liked the mild taste of the Queso Fresca. You can find it in the refrigerated section where other Mexican foods are kept.)
Dill (about 1-2 tbsp, fresh or dried)
Salt & pepper to taste
Siryacha hot sauce (optional)

To cook the quinoa, soak in 2 cups of water for about 15-minutes (covered).  Slowly bring it to a boil, and let simmer for about 15-minutes until all of the water is absorbed.  Place quinoa in a bowl, and place in the refrigerator while you prepare the rest of the meal (preferably let cool for about 30 minutes to an hour).

In a large bowl, combine the olive oil, dill, lemon or lime juice, and some salt & pepper.  Whisk together and set aside.

Cut up the scallions, jalapeno, cucumber, tomato, and garlic - add everything to the bowl with the dressing, and mix well.  Chop up the avocado, and set aside (do not add to the bowl yet).

When the quinoa has cooled, add it to the large bowl with the vegetables.  Gently toss to combine.

To serve, put arugula or spinach at the bottom of the plate or bowl, and drizzle with olive oil.  Top with the quinoa salad, the Queso Fresca, and the chopped avocado.  Squirt some Siryacha on top if you like!

This was SO EASY to make, and so crazy delicious.  I even brought some to the park with me the next day to share with everyone.  It was a huge hit!  It stores well, and is great for leftovers.  Perfect for a Spring / Summer day! 

I enjoyed my salad with a glass of red wine, water with lemon, and a healthy dessert that I made up!

My dessert was just chopped banana, sprinkled with unsweetened coconut flakes, and a little drizzle of honey.  It was super yummy, and satisfied my sweet craving that I always seem to have after a meal. 

Very tropical, eh? :)

On another note, my tulips have come up - full bloom!!  Aren't they just gorgeous?  They make me so happy every time I walk up to the front porch.  

Yay for Spring!!  
These bloomin' babies got me so confident, that I planted some wildflowers in a pot in the house to see if they'd sprout with some love (and water, of course). :)  They already are, and it's making me SO HAPPY!  I never thought I'd get so excited about planting things and seeing them grow - but I totally am.  

Wooohoo!!  SPRINGTIME!! 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Cabin in the Woods - is TOTALLY AWESOME!!

John was out of town for a little while, so when he got back yesterday we decided to have a real date night!  We got some dinner at our favorite lil' Mexican restaurant, Benny's, then we went to go see Cabin in the Woods. 


Click Here to watch the trailer.

My older sister went to see it last week, and LOVED it which totally sold it for me.  She is NOT a scary movie person.  Well, she secretly loves them, but she's a big ol' scaredy cat.  The last time I was visiting her it took a lot of convincing to get her to go see the new Fright Night with me - and she had a lot of fun in the end. ;)

So when I heard that she thought it was awesome, I had to go check it out.

And it was. Totally. Awesome.

Let me revise - it's totally awesome if you are the type of person that loves dark humor.  That kind of likes scary movies already, loves a good twist, great comic relief, clever & witty writing style, and can laugh when the gore turns ridiculous.  I should have known that I would be destined to love this movie when I found out it was co-written by Joss Whedon - the guy who wrote two of my favorite TV shows (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Firefly).  Of COURSE it would encompass all of those things!

If you can't see the funny in weird / twisted / crazy / slightly disturbing things, then this might not be the movie for you.  But if you're already a fan of movies like Shaun of the Dead, Kill Bill, Fright Night, etc. - I think you'll have a great time.

I can't wait to see this one again!! :)

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Insanity!! It's, well...insane, really.

I wasn’t going to bring this up before, ‘cause I wasn’t even sure if I was going to do it full out.  I started doing the “Insanity” workout videos 10 days ago, and they’re kicking my BUTT!  I thought I was in relatively good shape before, but man, I was wrong.

These videos are probably the hardest workouts I’ve ever done.  It’s like doing a boot camp class 6 days / week!  The last time I went to a boot camp I couldn’t walk like a normal person without wincing in pain for about 5 days.  Same thing here – but I had to keep going!

I gotta say – it has been hard already getting up and doing these workouts.  Every time I hit snooze I think “I don’t want to get up and deal with Shawn T and his crazy workout!”  But once I get going (getting started is the hardest part), I really get going.  I want to hit it hard, and I want to finish strong.  I’m sweating like crazy, but I feel amazing when I’m done!

The plan goes for 60 days total, which seems like a lot since I’m only 10 days in!  But the payoff?  I’m ready for it.  I’m already seeing little results just over a week into it, which is kind of nuts when you think about it.  I’m down 4 pounds already since starting!  WHOA!!  That means only 16 pounds left to reach my goal.  Hellz yeah.

This program boasts crazy results (you've HAD to have seen the infomercial by now - it's on all the time), and I have a feeling it has a lot of basis to go on.  This is tough stuff, I'm not going to lie.  But the fact that I'm already feeling stronger, I have more energy throughout the day than I have in a very long time, and that I'm already dropping some pounds... that's pretty awesome! 

See what they're doing in that picture?  Those are jump squats.  They SUCK.  Haha! 

Anyhoodle, I'm going to stick with this, and see what happens.  I've been combining this with Weight Watchers to hopefully reach my goal weight!  I am basically doing the old Core plan that I did before, and tracking everything on a sheet I customized for myself.  

Yay for getting a toned, lean body back!!  I'm sick of being self-conscious about my figure (my tummy is the part I hate the most), and I want to feel strong and confident again.  This is the way I'm gonna do it!  WOOHOO!! 

Friday, April 20, 2012

Earth Day - It can be easy being green!

This Sunday is EARTH DAY - what are you going to do to help make less of an impact on our planet?

I just rented this movie from the library and I'm pretty excited to watch it!  

Here are some tips on things that you can do to be GREEN this Earth Day!

Take the bus, ride your bike, or simply WALK to get where you need to go. 
It's probably not as far as you'd think!

photo credit:  Copenhagen Cycle Chic. 

Be a vegetarian for the day. 
Believe it or not, the #1 pollutant in the air is methane gas... produced by cow farts on factory farms.  I'm not even joking.  Just eating vegetarian ONE DAY a week, will help save the planet.

 Beet, Arugula & Goat Cheese Grilled Cheese Sandwiches!  Photo credit BS'in in the Kitchen.

Get a reusable bag, and reuse it!
Mine wraps up really small, and I keep it in my purse at all times.  I never know when I'll need it!

Don't buy bottled water, soda, or any other pre-packaged beverage. 
Make iced tea at home, and put it in your stainless steel water bottle - or add cucumbers or strawberries to ice water for a flavorful treat!  Remember, bottled water is still the same darn water you're drinking from the tap - just from another location.  How much sense does that make?  NONE!

Click here for more information about the impact of saying NO to bottled water. 

Read a book.
Instead of watching TV.

Photo credit: We Heart It

Put a bucket in your shower. 
This might sound weird, but do you let your water run for a few minutes to warm up before you get in?  That's a lot of wasted water!  Leave the bucket near the drain for the run-off. You can use that water to give your plants or lawn a drink - or even dump it in the toilet to use as a flush!  My little sister told me of this tip.

Try not to buy anything pre-packaged or in a disposable bag, can, or container.  This might be harder than you think, because it seems like EVERYTHING comes in packaging these days!  But be aware, and see if you can do it for a day / week / month / year... get creative.

How are YOU going to be a little more green this earth day?  :)

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Recipes I'm SUPER EXCITED to try!

I have been all over Pinterest lately - pinning recipes left & right!  I love the community there - especially all of the recipes that are being shared.  It's such a great way to find new ones!  Shoot, that's where I found this awesome Pizza Monkeybread recipe, which I will be making regularly from now on.  :)  I actually made it for book club last month, just with spinach instead of fake pepperoni, and with a creamy tomato dipping sauce.  It was AH-MAZ-ING!

Here are some new ones I can't wait to try, along with links to the pages where you can find the full recipes!

Queso Potato Chowder - doesn't this look to DIE for!?  I will probably adjust the recipe a bit to my liking though - there's way too much cream & butter in there, and I'll probably use regular diced potatoes instead of the packaged hashbrowns.  It sounds amazing though, and super easy to make!  It'll be a fun & unique soup for me to make.

Lemon Poppyseed Cupcakes with Lemon Curd Filling & Blueberry Cream Cheese Frosting - what a mouthful, huh?  Haha!  These seem like they'd be quite a bit of work, but totally worth it.  And the color of the icing is just fantastic with the yellow custard.  Beautiful to the eyes AND the palette!

Baked Portabello Parmesean - aren't these just gorgeous?  And great for someone (*this girl), trying to cut back on eating so much pasta & rice.  I bet these would be awesome served with a spinach salad! 

Pomegranate & Queso Fresco Salsa - this looks SO amazing and something different from boring old tomato salsa.  And such beautiful colors!!  I can't wait to impress people at our next cookout for making this. :) 

Fig & Goat Cheese Pizza - I kinda want to make this just for me.  And eat it alllll by myself - no sharing. :)  YUM.

To follow me on Pinterest, click here. 

Hope you all had a great weekend!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

What I've been up to lately...

This past week has been pretty lazy for me - not too much going on in my life at the moment!  I've been in a bit of a funk the past couple of days due to the fact that I got turned down for yet another job opportunity.  

I haven't felt much like socializing, and since I'm not spending money I figured staying in and watching a good show or reading my book would be a safe way to go!  With wine, of course.  Lots of wine. ;) 

Recently I've started re-watching Firefly on Netflix.  I have one very important question for you.  How in the holy heckfire did this show ever get canceled!?!?  The writing is brilliant, the characters are awesome, the dialogue is funny and touching all at the same time... UGH!  It drives me crazy especially when I see what is on TV now (uhm, "Whitney" is still on the air.  What is up with that?).  Anyhew, I'm enjoying it very much. 

I'm still trying to finish Buffy the Vampire Slayer too (can you tell I love anything Joss Whedon creates?), and I'm almost done!  Just 2 more episodes to go, then I'll probably someday start all of that over again too.  SUCH a great show, I'm tellin' ya.  I've only been trying to finish it since last year, but whatevs. ;) 
I've also been reading two separate books for my book club.  We've been drawing books from the pot a month early so that A) we can be sure that we have it in time from the library, and B) we can get a head-start on the next month's book if we want to!  

This month's book is Little Bee by Chris Cleave.  So far I like it very much!  I'm actually listening to this book on my iPod, as I've been walking to work lately to get a little more movement into my day (and to be environmentally friendly).  It's also really nice to take my time getting to work, and to enjoy the morning air.  I just love it. 

Anyway, the girl who reads the book is AWESOME.  I believe she's actually British (one of the characters is a British woman), but she does an African accent AND a Jamaican accent perfectly!  It's fun listening to her.  

The book is interesting - sad, but really good.  I love the character of Little Bee!  I am only about 1/2 way through it, but I'm enjoying it so far.  

The other book I've been reading (actually reading, not listening to), is The Road by Cormac McCarthy.  It's a post-apocalyptic story about a man and his son, traveling across the barren landscape, trying to survive.  It won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2007. 

This was a book that I put into the pot myself, and I was super excited when we drew it!  I've been wanting to read this book for a while (it's my friend Matt's favorite book of all time).  

I only just started it yesterday, and I can't seem to put it down.  I'm about 3/4 of the way through it now, and I just can't stop reading it.  It's a very strange book, eerie in mood, but it has a kind of rhythm to it - the days flow into each other, and you really become attached to these characters.  It's almost as though I'm feeling what they feel, hearing the silence, my heart beats with fear when they're scared... I feel very involved in the story, and in the character's lives.  

There are no chapters - it's all separated by paragraphs, and no quotations are used when someone is speaking.  It seems like it'd be hard to follow, but it's really not.  It's actually very poetic and beautifully written.  It's very sad, but I'm so curious about it.  We've certainly never read a book like this before, and it has captivated me!  Hopefully I'll be able to finish it when I get home tonight! 

And that's about it for now!  I've been holing up in my house, watchin' Joss Whedon shows, and readin' some good books.  I'll get back to socializing soon I'm sure, but for now, I'm enjoying this. :) 

Hope you're having a great week!  

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Easter Sunday - Dinner with the Family

My family celebrates Easter in a pretty laid-back way since we're not very religious.  We just enjoy having dinner together!  :)  So Sunday evening, John, Taryn & I headed down to the parent's house to help with the cooking, and to enjoy a lovely dinner. 

Deb & Mom prepping some of the goodies!

Mmmmm - wine.  I may have had one glass too many, but wine + holidays = fun!  I do love me some wine!

Gabbin' in the kitchen while getting the rest of the meal together...

This is us "helping".  I swear. ;)

My lil' sis, Taryn.  What a cutie-pie!!

Mmmm-yum!!  Dinnertime!

My mom made Meatless-Loaf which I absolutely MUST get the recipe for.  It was super delicious, and she topped it with fresh basil from her plant in the kitchen.  YUM!

A simple (yet oh-so-delicious) seitan recipe - topped with my famous vegan gravy!

Overall a wonderful evening with family & friends. :)

That night we headed home and watched Unchained Reaction on the Discovery channel, then the making of Frozen Planet (which was fascinating).  I got 1/2 way through Mythbusters before I couldn't keep my drooping eyelids open anymore.  

Hope you all had a wonderful Easter weekend too! 

Monday, April 9, 2012

Weght Loss - Tracking Idea

While strolling down Pinterest lane the other day, I came across a pretty rad idea!

What a great visual motivator!!  As you might know, I'm a very visual person - hence the reason why I started my "money I'm NOT spending" tracking sheet for my Spending Fast (and the reason why I love Pinterest so much). ;)  I need a little bit more than the average bear to actually motivate myself - I need to SEE where my money is going.  So this is going to work in a similar way for me!

I decided to whip up a couple of my own, with re-used jars I had in my cabinet.

Now, I don't really have that much to lose.  In my New Year's Resolution for this year, I originally wanted to lose 40 pounds.  Well luckily I'm still down my first 10, which I just discovered this morning (WOOT!), and I decided that 20 more pounds would make me very happy = 30 pounds total.

To be honest, 40 was kind of a pipe dream, and I don't think it would've been terribly healthy for me either.  Right now I'm at 170 lbs, and am still very insecure about my tummy pooch (everyone has their most hated area - that is mine for sure).  The lowest I've ever gotten weight-wise in my adult life was about 143, and I was struggling to stay at that weight.  I'd rather have a few extra pounds on me and be happy, ya know!?  :)

I set the lil' jars on my window sill in my bathroom (between all of my pretty little plants).  Just so that I would see them every day, and remind myself to check in on how I am doing!  I also didn't have anything cool like pretty marbles - I had to think "what do I have that can be counted.... PENNIES!" so that's what I used.

Looking at it now though, 20 pennies look pretty pathetic!  Ha!  I'm going to have to try something else when I get home. ;)  I have a lot of wine corks saved that I was going to use for a project, so maybe some pretty painted corks will do the trick.

And they TOTALLY did!  Ha!

Yes, that means that I lost 1 pound over the weekend too.  :)  WOOHOO!

I just took some corks that we'd saved, and cut them in half.  Then I used some colored markers to doodle on them to make 'em a little prettier.  I think they turned out great!

I'm making little changes in my life to take the extra weight off.  I'm trying really hard to make good choices with every meal.  Here's hoping I can make it stay off this time! :) 

Friday, April 6, 2012

Clothing Swap!!

The other night I went to a Clothing Swap with my girlfriends.  It was SO much fun - and reminded me a lot about the Accessories Swap that Katy & I attended just last month!  This time it was clothing AND accessories though. 

I have to admit - I really needed to search my closet for stuff to donate for this!  I'd already done a pretty decent clean-out before, but there were a few things that I'd been holding onto for a while that needed to go.  It worked a similar way as the other swap - but you got "dollars" to spend on items depending on the quality of what you brought.  They sure did go a long way though! :) 

Katy just arriving at the Swap.  They had quite a spread of food there, matched with wine pairings - I was very impressed!  The cheese and snacks were totally delicious. 

They also had beautiful little tulips everywhere - such a lovely touch! :) 

The girls - mingling before the swap.  This was actually held at an interior design firm - their offices were absolutely GORGEOUS.  I wish I worked in such a cool space!  They were so open and airy - it just felt so bright and happy in there.  Very different from the basement I work in every day! 

They did a great job of organizing the clothes, and making it seem like we were actually in a store!  Everything looked so nice hung up on hangers, and on mannequins.  It made me think of our swaps we do at people's houses... everything is usually just tossed on a bed.  Ha! 

Katy totally snagged that black flowered dress in the pic too.  It looks ridiculously cute on her! 

Yes, they have a water feature in their office - filled with fish.  Could I be any more jealous?  Probably not. ;) 

Champagne & cupcakes?  Don't mind if I do!!  I actually brought a white chocolate macadamia nut cupcake home for John, but I totally ate almost the entire thing before he got home.  Whoops.  It was SO GOOD though!  I mean, did you hear what I said?  White chocolate macadamia nut.  I'm only human, people. 

Once the clothing swap began, I didn't take many photos.  I was too busy grabbin' up all the goodies!  I found some SUPER cute clothes, and I'm very excited about them.  2 of them are rompers (pants / shorts attached to a tube top) which I'm totally in LOVE with.  I can't wait to wear them!  

I also got a couple of gorgeous black dresses (one fits me absolutely perfectly - I couldn't believe it), a pair of diamond-sparkly hoop earrings, a pair of Lucky jeans, and a purple top.  Considering that everything was pretty much free (in exchange for my stuff), I felt like I got a hell of a deal!  

Once I got over my "shopping" high, a lot of us returned to the wine and the food...

This is the water they had set out for us - isn't it just lovely?  I have seen cucumber water many times before, but strawberry water!?  I had to try it - it was super light and refreshing, and I will definitely need to make it for summertime.  It was absolutely scrumptious! 

Two SUPER rad girls that Katy & I met while we were there!  Abby is on the left of Katy, and Danielle is on the right.  We had so much fun chatting with them!  They're pretty awesome. :) 

All-in-all it was a wonderful event.  I'm so glad that Geneva told us about it!  I guess they do it annually, so I really hope I can make it to next year's as well.  It was a total blast and we met some pretty great people.  Now I have to figure out where to wear my new treasures!