Friday, November 13, 2015

The Start of My Journey and What I'm Drinking Now {recipe}

I love Starbucks' fancy sugary drinks. I'll admit it. I actually prefer to find local coffee shops to get my drinks, but let's face it. I have 3 young boys and a peaceful afternoon, spent relaxing at a local coffee shop just doesn't happen often for me anymore. Enter Starbucks. All of my local Target stores have one. Super convenient. I can get the little ones some cake pops to keep them happy quiet for a minute, then indulge in my favorite Starbucks beverage, along with a cake pop of my own (who am I kidding? They were a favorite of mine as well!). And since I like visiting Target 1-2 times a week at a minimum, my Starbucks consumption was starting to get a bit out of hand. I definitely contribute part of my recent balloon in weight gain to them. That plus a nightly glass of moscato, or riesling, and desserts as I pleased, and I was soon staring at a number on the scale that I had never before seen. Ouch. Enter Beachbody.

I've tried other things in the past for losing weight. It's a constant battle. I haven't been a skinny girl since I was probably 9 years old, despite staying active playing sports in Jr. High and High School, then also in college, too! They're usually fairly successful, but committing to them long term has always been a problem for me. The being preggo 3 times didn't help either though these past 7 years. I'm usually able to lose the baby weight fairly quickly, but after weaning my youngest this spring, and not being preggo for a change, I found my weight climbing regardless. It was time to do something. Looking back at what I'd learned in college/grad school, using the stages of change theory, I was there. I was finally ready to commit to a lifestyle change. I was ready for action. So I contacted my friend, Angela, a Beachbody coach, and told her I was ready to try the 21-day fix. And so began my journey.

I'm currently part of a 90-day challenge to challenge myself to lose weight this holiday season vs putting on another 10-15 lbs of holiday weight, because there was no way my body could take any more weight! I'm getting rid of the #excessbaggage. I'm now a month into my journey (in the middle of my 2nd round of Beachbody's 21-day fix). I've lost 10 lbs and I am so much stronger already than where I started. My measurements are down and I'm feeling good. Some days, it is still rough to wake up and workout at 5:30 am before the kids gets up, but I always feel better if I do. I love that I can workout in the comfort of my own home. Gyms have never really been my thing and with Josh traveling quite a bit, the opportunity for me to conveniently visit one regularly is just not possible. The 21-day fix workouts are challenging, but have the ability to be modified, if needed. It's a range of workouts from total body cardio, to upper body or lower body focuses, pilates, and even yoga. I love it. Well, not always (some mornings I still yell at Autumn), but for the most part I do. ;) For me, I would much rather do the workouts than go out and run a few miles. That's just not my cup of tea. The meal plan is easy to follow, too. You just figure out your target number of calories, which corresponds to the number of containers you get for the day. I still get to eat plenty of food and I never feel like I'm starving. I'm fueling my body with awesome, wholesome foods, which makes a difference in how I feel. I no longer feel lethargic all day, with killer heartburn in the evenings. I feel good. It shows, too. My skin has been looking great as well! The saying "you are what you eat" really is so true.

Before pics on left, after pics on right - these were my results after just 21 days!

I was so happy that as a part of this challenge, I don't have to give up coffee. But, I'm not a huge fan of drinking it black, with just a little sweetener. Enter Shakeology. I am still enjoying my coffee, my much needed source of caffeine (hello, I have 3 little, high-energy boys, remember?!?), and I'm not feeling a bit guilty about it. Why is that? Because by adding it to my shake, which is an amazing nutrient-dense drink, it's like drinking a frappuccino, but without all the extra calories and sugar. And mine includes an amazing amount of nutrients, too. Take a look...

To make my shake, I use 8 oz unsweetened vanilla almond milk, 1 scoop shakeology, 1/2 tsp Pure Via turbinado raw cane sugar/stevia blend, 2 espresso ice cubes, and 4 regular ice cubes. Blend and enjoy!

To make espresso ice cubes, simply take 1 shot of espresso and put it in an ice cube tray and freeze! It's really that simple. I recently had a Starbucks free reward to redeem (you get one after every 12 purchases), so you guessed it - I had them fill a venti-sized cup with straight espresso. That's 20 ounces, or 20 shots, of espresso! What a steal! ;) And that will last me for 10 shakes. :) I love how when you freeze it, it doesn't dilute at all. It's an almost buttery little cube of caffeine when you get it out of the tray. Yum. It keeps the drink nice and strong like an actual frappuccino vs using just brewed coffee.

My Vanilla Espresso Shake has just 171 calories vs the 370 in the Caffe Vanilla Frappuccino (which is one of the lowest in calories of their frozen drinks by using nonfat milk and no whipped cream). It also has just 9 g sugar vs the 86 g in the frappuccino. Yes, you read that correctly 86 GRAMS!! Mine also offers 4 g of fiber and 17 g of protein! That doesn't even touch on the plethora of vitamins and minerals it has as well. It is truly a meal in a glass. And it's what I'm drinking now!

I still have a long, long way to go before I'm at where I want to be. Where I need to be. But at least I'm moving in the right direction now.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

21-Day Fix Printables and Homemade Taco Seasoning Recipe

As most of you know, I started the Beachbody 21-Day Fix (an exercise and eating plan) last Monday. I'm about halfway through now and I am feeling great. I can tell that I am getting stronger, as I'm finally able to start following Autumn more and more during the workouts vs. Kat, the 'modified exercise' girl. I'm also feeling much better eating a portioned 'container' diet of real, wholesome foods. We normally eat pretty well, but I have a weakness for sweets, fancy coffee drinks, and wine. Unfortunately, I think those things really started to add up and I was packing on more pounds than ever, and feeling awful most of the time. Something had to give. Enter my friend, Angela. She got me started on the 21-day fix plan. I'm part of a group of women doing a 90-day challenge to keep us accountable through the holiday season, which I knew would be disastrous for me if I didn't do something. So, while I may soon be done with my 21-day fix, I'm going to keep repeating it through the end of the year. While everyone starts their New Year diet and exercise resolutions, I'm hoping that I'll already be looking great! ;) Hopefully, by the end of this 90 days, it will have become a habit for me to get up early and exercise, and I will continue to do so daily. I don't want to swear off desserts forever, but I do need to work on that 'in moderation' part of it. A little bit every now and then will hopefully be all I need. Fingers crossed!

One thing that has been a huge help for me, in addition to prepping veggies on Sunday, is planning my entire week out before it starts. There's no guessing how many containers I have left for the day - it's all right there planned out for me. I wanted something pretty (since I'd be staring at it all week) to hang on my fridge, so I created a planner, of course. I also put together a grocery list that lists the suggested foods, by container type, a measurements form to track progress, and another tally sheet if you don't want to, or can't, plan all at once. If you're interested in checking the package out, I offer it in my Etsy shop. You can find links to each specific caloric range at the bottom of this post. :)

When I started the plan, 'Taco Tuesday' was something that I still wanted to incorporate into our week. While Josh and the boys have tortillas, or taco boats, with their meal, I have a simple taco salad - spinach, seasoned ground beef, diced tomato, and a bit of shredded cheddar cheese. It's delicious, and I actually haven't even missed the tortilla (gasp!!). In the past, I bought the little packages of Taco Bell taco seasoning because we liked the taste. But, I decided I needed to start making my own seasoning. Not only is it cheaper that way, but I know exactly what I'm putting in, and it doesn't contain any unnecessary ingredients. This recipe is simple and easy to make. It has the perfect balance of spice. Depending on how hot you like it, you can either use, decrease or omit the red pepper flakes. Enjoy!

Taco Seasoning

  • 1 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1½ tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder
  • ¼ tsp onion powder
  • ¼ tsp oregano
  • ¼ tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
Combine all of the spices in a small bowl. Add to 1-2 pounds of browned, crumbled meat (lean beef or turkey). I also add a little water (~1/2 cup) to help make it saucier.

21-Day Fix Printables

Friday, September 25, 2015

Amos's Nautical Themed 2nd Birthday Party

Now that I've updated you about Amos's 2nd year, it's time to talk about the party!! Having a pool at our new house, I thought it might be fun to throw a nautical-themed pool party, so that's what we did for Amos's 2nd birthday earlier this month. I decided to go with classic shades of blue and red for the colors. First on the agenda, the invitations.

I also like to add a little something to the invites to make them unique. This time, I used Amos's favorite - Lifesaver mints! Yes, he loves these things! They were the perfect touch to add to his invites. I also created coordinating 2" round stickers to seal the envelopes when I mailed the invites.

After the invitations were mailed, I started brainstorming ideas for the party. To decorate the house, I bought some light blue, navy and red latex balloons at the local grocery store. I made a custom banner that read "Happy 2nd Birthday Amos!" using the same nautical/color theme.

Here's an example of the banner letters, close-up. I threaded jute rope through the pendant pieces to hang it. It worked well and looked great! I also made a "Welcome Aboard" sign for the front door to greet guests as they arrived.

For the party favors, I made little bags of goldfish crackers labeled as Amos's Catch of the Day. I also made personalized sailor hats for each of the little party guests. I ordered these from Amazon, then stapled on the name tags I made. Unfortunately, the hats didn't look as nice in person as they did online, but they served their purpose. I also bought the fun fishing net on Amazon as well. It was the perfect size for covering our entire table! After reading reviews on some of the other nets I found on Amazon, I decided to go with this one to be sure it would be big enough. I'm glad I did - it was perfect!

Amos shared his party with my side of the family this year with his cousin, Jacob, who turned 8 a couple weeks before he turned 2. :)

I made cupcakes for the party instead of cake. What better way to decorate than to turn the cupcakes into little sailboats!

I stuck these toppers in some delicious caramel cupcakes. These cupcakes definitely deserve a post of their own. Topped with a "sea" salted caramel frosting, they are my new favorite. You can find the recipe, from Sally's Baking Addiction, here. They are simply amazing, and super easy, too! Be sure you let the frosting cool longer than I did. ;) I waited 15 minutes like the recipe said, but it was still really warm, so you can see that the piping didn't hold up very well. The next weekend I made them, it worked much better giving it longer to cool first. :) You also don't want to wait too long though, because the frosting will stiffen and become hard to pipe/spread if it gets too cool.

I bought red napkins and used jute to secure the utensils in the napkins. I added another mint here, perfect for each guest to enjoy after dinner. They looked super cute in the anchor bucket that I scored from the dollar section at Target! ;) I also bought the red and white striped plates and navy plates at Target. They were perfect for the theme! An additional jar of mints was the perfect touch to the display.

I bought red and white striped paper straws on Amazon, and added some cute navy AHOY! straw flags to complete the look. These adorable mason jars (with lids that had cutouts for straws) were on sale at Target, so I couldn't pass them up. No more buying disposable cups for parties - I can re-use these for years to come. And decorate them to go with the theme, of course! ;)

I think these may have been my favorite part.

It was surprisingly difficult to find nautical-themed food ideas online! Fish-themed items were more common, but I wanted to try and keep it more nautical, if I could. I finally resorted to scouring a nautical glossary for ideas. So, no, "cog" and "helm" didn't just pop in my head. ;) For the dinner menu, I finally decided on the following:

  • WATER-melon: seedless watermelon wedges
  • Caprese SCHOONERS (skewers): grape tomatoes, basil, fresh mozzarella and balsamic glaze
  • BATTLEships (chips) & CRAB dip: Maryland crab dip and pita chips
  • Corn on the COG (cob): oven-roasted corn on the cob
  • HELM (ham) sandwiches: toasted ham and Dijon mustard on Hawaiian sweet rolls
  • ANCHORS away parfaits: layered cornbread, shredded BBQ pork, and coleslaw
  • SEA-salted caramel cupcakes: caramel cupcakes with salted caramel frosting
  • Chocolate chips AHOY!: cookies
  • 'Lil SAILOR'S punch: cran-pomegranate juice with Sprite, frozen blueberries
I love creating themed party food items. Seriously. It's so fun! It was a yummy spread, too!

Here are some pics of the birthday boy enjoying his parties!! :) I bought him a cute navy and red striped shirt from Target (surprise! haha!) clearance to look cute with the theme.

The final item to take care of was the thank you notes. I made a simple flat 4" x 6" card with a picture of the birthday boy.

Because who doesn't love getting something sweet in the mail instead of bills? ;) We had a couple adorable, fun parties for our water-loving tiny man!

Happy 2nd Birthday to our tiniest little guy!

All items you see above are available for customization and purchase through my business page, kreations by kristy. You can also find me on Facebook and Etsy.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Amos is TWO!

Age of Child: 2 years

Size of Child:
  • Weight: 23 lbs 6 oz (up to the 4th percentile), +4 lb 13 oz from his 12-month visit and +2 lb 4 oz lb from his 18-month visit
  • Length: 33 inches (down to the 16th percentile), +3.25 in from his 12-month visit and +1.75 in from his 18-month visit
  • Height-to-Weight ratio: up to the 7th percentile
Amos is still wearing a size 3 diaper (but it's probably about time to move to a 4), and mostly 18-24 month, or 2T, clothes. He is wearing a size 6 shoe now!

  • None! He did need to get another finger prick to check lead levels. All was good there.
Doctor's Visit Summary:

His visit went well. The only concern we're dealing with is that his speech seems to be a bit delayed. I think he is ahead of where Ethan was at this age, but definitely behind where Noah was. He has recently started trying to say many more words than he was though, so I think we're ok. I guess when you have 2 big brothers who talk constantly, it's probably hard to get a word in! ;)

Accomplishments this Year:
  • First trip to a zoo and aquarium
  • Made his first big move
  • Took his first cruise
  • Weaned from nursing after 20 months
  • First night away from Mommy
Last September, not long after turning one, we made a trip to Ohio for our university's homecoming football game. While there, we decided the kids might like to check out the Cincinnati Zoo and the Newport Aquarium. It was a packed weekend of fun, but they had a blast!

We packed up the family and moved from Tennessee to North Carolina in February. While the big boys had made the move from Georgia to Tennessee, this was Amos's first move. Lucky for us, it didn't seem to phase him much. While he misses his best bud, Owen, he is pretty happy about gaining a pool in the back yard. This boy loves the water!

We took a family cruise to the Caribbean in April and Amos was the perfect tiny traveler! Though he was relegated to the baby pool since he wasn't potty-trained, he didn't let that stop him from having a wonderful time. His highlights of the trip were multiple desserts with each meal, ice cream cones on demand, nightly strolls around the ship, and beach time! He had all the ladies wrapped around his little finger all week. ;)

Amos continues to be our very adventurous eater. He will still try literally everything you put in front of him, but his favorites are probably pasta, rice, fruit, and pancakes. I weaned him at the beginning of May, after 20 months of nursing. He was doing a great job with whole milk and it just felt like the right time. He did fine with it and we still enjoy nightly cuddles in the rocking chair in his room. We tried to then wean the pacifier shortly after this, but it did not go nearly as well. So, we allowed him to have it again for naps and nighttime. About a month ago, we tried taking it away again and this time it went much better, so we're paci free now! Yay!

Amos is a great little sleeper. He is going to bed around 8 pm, and sleeping until 8 am. He is also still taking a 2-3 hour nap in the afternoon. Fortunately, he also did ok with his first night away from me. Josh and I escaped to Charleston to celebrate our 10-year wedding anniversary in July and the boys stayed behind with Grandpa and Grandma Frank. He did great!

Amos has discovered a love of all things Star Wars. Some of his first words were "Star Wars," and "Darth Vader." Oh yes. He even hums the Star Wars tune whenever he sees anything Star Wars. It's pretty adorable. He loves to grab the Star Wars books from the boys' room and sit and "read" them. It's also one of the only ways to get him to sit still - by watching one of the movies! I guess you know where you will find ALL of us when the new movie comes out in theaters this year! ;)

Amos has continued to be our crazy little guy. As the only one of the three that we really needed to baby-proof the house for, he continues to keep us on our toes! It's not uncommon to turn around and find him dancing on the dining room table, climbing as high as he can get on a piece of furniture, digging out snacks from the pantry, removing all of the DVDs from their cases, emptying the coffee grinds from k-cups all over the dining room floor, and unscrewing child-proof medicine bottles. Sigh. He's so very creative. He's lucky he's cute! ;)

And here is his final year two summary.

Happy 2nd Birthday, little Amos! We love you!

Monday, August 10, 2015

Noah's Dinosaur Themed 4th Birthday Party

Now that I've updated you about Noah's 4th year, it's time to talk about the party!! When I asked Noah what he wanted for his birthday party theme this year, he told me he wanted dinosaurs. So, away I went planning an adorable orange, lime green and turquoise dinosaur-themed party for my little guy. First on the agenda, the invitations. I love including photos of the birthday boy on the invites, and of course, it also had to include his 2 favorite dinosaurs - "hammer head," and "long neck."

I also like to add a little something to the invites to make them unique. This time, it was wiggly eyes! Yep, wiggly eyes covered the dinosaurs at this year's party! I love how they turned out.

After the invitations were mailed, I started brainstorming (aka, browsing Pinterest and Google) ideas for the party. To decorate the house, I bought some turquoise, orange, and yellow latex balloons (inflated with helium and hi-float) at the local party supply store. For this party, I also bought a silver "4" and a generic T-rex dinosaur balloon. I made a custom banner that read "Happy 4th Birthday Noah" using the same dinosaur/color theme. I also hung up fun arrow signs directing guests to the watering hole (swimming pool), feeding area (seating area), privacy bushes (bathroom/changing area), carnivores (main course), herbivores (appetizers), and sweetivores (dessert)!

Here's an example of the banner letters, close-up. I attached the pendants with mini clothes pins to a jute rope. It worked well and looked great! I also made a mini "WELCOME" version for the front door to greet guests as they arrived.

For the party favors, I bought plain kraft paper bags with handles (from Target) and added tags that said "Thank you for making my party DINO-MITE! - Noah." Inside the bag, there was a bag of "Dino Chow," which I packaged in clear, plastic bags and topped them with tags. The chow consisted of pretzel sticks, chocolate covered raisins, peanut butter chips and a gummy worm.

To complete the favor bag, I added a "Grow a Dino!" egg with instructions for hatching their own dinosaur, along with information cards about the dinosaur they might find. I purchased the Animal Planet eggs from Amazon.

This year, I made cupcakes for the party. I didn't want to attempt any elaborate decorating of the cupcakes on the day of the party, so I made cupcake toppers and wrappers to coordinate with the banner and invite elements.

I stuck these toppers in some delicious dirt cupcakes that I could quickly make the day of the party. These cupcakes probably deserve a post of their own. They were delicious! I used my mom's recipe for Texas sheet cake for the cupcakes. Noah is a chocolate man, so I knew he'd love these! ;) Then I topped them with a peanut butter frosting that I'd never tried before, but I was so glad I did. It was heavenly. You can find the recipe here!

After the frosting, I crushed up some Oreos to sprinkle on top, as the dirt part of the dirt cupcake. :) They were the perfect touch for a dinosaur-themed party.

The napkins and utensils were some that I already had. I used jute to secure the utensils in the napkins. They looked super cute in the bucket that I reused from his 2nd birthday party! ;) I bought the kraft paper straws at Target, and added some cute ROARRR straw flags to complete the look. I used the plastic dinosaur skeletons for decorating the food area. I also purchased those on Amazon.

For the dinner menu, I chose:

  • DINO chips & dip (pita chips with homemade roasted red pepper hummus)
  • Veggies & DINO dip (carrot sticks with ranch dip)
  • Watermelon SPIKES
  • PB&J sandwiches (sandwiches cut out in dino shapes with this sandwich cutter)

  • PTERANODON wings (chicken wings with sauces)
  • BRONTOSAURUS burgers (sliders on Hawaiian sweet rolls)
  • DINO nuggets (dino-shaped chicken nuggets - thanks, Tyson!)
  • DINO bones (yogurt-covered pretzels)
  • Dirt cupcakes (chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter icing and Oreo crumbles)
  • FOSSIL cookies (I had also planned to make these, but ran out of time - sugar cookies with dino footprints, sprinkled with cinnamon)
To drink, I had JURASSIC juice for the kids (Honest juice pouches), and the WATERING hole for the adults (ice water with lemon and orange slices). I wanted the food to go with the party theme, which is why I chose what I did. ;) Added bonus that Noah loves PB&J and dino nuggets!

Here are some pics of the birthday boy enjoying his THREE parties!! :) His dinosaur shirt, featuring a "Noahsaurolophus," was made by my aunt, from the dinosaur I created for his invites. :)

The final item to take care of was the thank you notes. I made a simple flat 4" x 6" card to go with the theme.

Because who doesn't love getting something sweet in the mail instead of bills? ;) It was an adorable, fun party for a little guy who loves dinosaurs!!

Happy 4th Birthday to our little middle!

All items you see above are available for customization and purchase through my business page, kreations by kristy. You can also find me on Facebook and Etsy.