Thursday, August 29, 2013

Shoe Problems

To this day, I cannot find a truly comfortable pair of work shoes, whether they're flats or low heels.  I'm not comfortable in high heels unless it's for an occassion.  I pretty much sit all day, but we do have to dress up. 

The other day I ordered a new pair of black flats and a pair of these heels.  They both KILL my feet.  The flats are too narrow and the heels are pinching the outer part of my pinky toe.  Geesh.  The fact that I have bunions doesn't help when purchasing new shoes but neither of these shoes affect that issue.

I have the heels on today and I'm just hoping they need to stretch out a bit but I don't know how so many people wear 4 inch heels everyday and aren't in pain.  Maybe it's just my feet?!  They're narrow besides the bunion part (which is probably going to get worse as I age...great).

What are your "go to" shoes for work (if you have to get dressed up)?  Are they comfy or you just deal with the pain?  Ha!

I also spent a while in Lord and Taylor last week when they had a sale and none of the shoes I tried on were comfortable.  I wanted to try a pair of cushion-y flats but they were out of stock.

The other issue is dress pants.  I have to buy longer pants for higher shoes/dressy boots and shorter pants for flats.


The joys of being a woman!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Annoying Things

I saw my BFF Angela post things that annoy her last week and today I'm feeling a little annoyed so I stole the idea.  I think I'm a pretty laid back person but there are definitely things that annoy me.

1 - Using CAPS when it's not necessary.  I know sometimes it's a mistake but how do you not notice you're typing in CAPS?  STOP IT!  (necessary to use CAPS for that one).

2 - Leaving a drop of something in the fridge.  My sweet & loving Saro loves to do this.  Like leaving a drop of half and half because he wanted to "save me some."  Sweet, indeed but 1 drop does nothing.  Or leaving one bite of leftovers.  Just finish it, ha. 

3 - Grammar.  They're, there, their, your, you're, its, it's, then, than.

4 - Murphy rolling around on his back, happy as a pig in sh*t, on our area rug right after I've spent 30 minutes vacuuming his hair from it with the vacuum's brush attachment.  I think next time I'll take the brush attachment to his hairy body.  But it's hard to stay mad at him!

5 - People not using their car blinkers.

6 - Judgemental people and people who assume things about others.

7 - I use Facebook and Instagram often but it kind of annoys me when people screen shot their FB status and then upload it as a photo on IG. 

8 - Baaston accents (sorry if you're from there).  I'm sure my Jersey accent annoys them, too.

9 - Not being able to run.

10 - Finding out major life events or changes from close friends/family on Facebook.  I guess it's the world we live in now.

That's all I can think of right now but I'm sure there are more!

What annoys you the most?

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

RI30 September Challenge & Sneak Peak

Morning, all.  So I decided to join my friend's new gym for the month of September to see how it goes.  The only issue is that it's about a 20 minute drive in a traffic-y area.  Wait, I live in NJ and it's traffic-y everywhere.  Anyway, I loved taking her classes in the park and definitely saw results.  Cleaning up the diet was a must and I've pretty much stuck to it minus the huge pasta dish I made 2 nights ago which was lunch yesterday and today!  Whoops.  I swear pasta and bread are no good for my midsection.

The price for the gym was right so I'm going to see how it goes for the first month.  I'm thinking I'll do both Saturday AM classes and maybe one class per week at night, after work.

With that, I really want to stick to Jillian's Ripped in 30 for at least a month.  I did it 3 days in a row 2 weeks ago and I'm not sure why I stopped.  I think the excitement of the engagement took over and also experiencing hip pain again.

So I want to try my best to stick with it, even if that means skipping some of the moves that irritate my hip/lower back...because there are definitely a few and I don't want to injure myself more.

With the classes at the gym, I'm aiming for RI30 3-4 days/week.

It's time to really SHED TO WED ;-)  And now for a sneak peak from our engagement photo session.  If you follow me in IG (rayac1221) you'll see a different picture I posted last night.  I'll share a few more soon!


Friday, August 23, 2013

Review: Coconut Flour Muffins

Happy Friday, all!

I ordered coconut flour for the first time from one of my favorite sites, Vitacost.  Last night I had a little extra time on my hands so I decided to make muffins with it.  Here's the recipe followed by a review:

1/2 cup plus 3 TBSP coconut flour
2 TBSP coconut oil (melted)
2 TBSP raw honey
1 TSP vanilla extract
3 eggs
1/3 cup full fat, unsweetened coconut milk (I used organic Thai kitchen)
1 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)
1/4 cup almond milk
1/8 TSP baking soda

Mix all ingredients together - baked in a greased or muffin lined pan at 350 for 30 minutes.


Easy and quick to make.

Texture:  They won't "puff up" like normal muffins.  They'll stay about the same size and might even shrink when they cool down.  The middle was a little doughy but I toasted it and drizzled honey on it for breakfast.

Taste:  Good.  Definitely different than a normal muffin (no flour, butter or sugar - all the good stuff, ha!).  They are probably best sliced in half and toasted, then served with honey or a little butter.

Calories:  According to MFP, 205 each.

Have you baked without flour and refined sugar?  What did you make?  What's your opinion on flourless baking?

Thursday, August 22, 2013

I Should Just Eat Lettuce

Since ANY type of exercise is making my back, hip and/or leg SCREAM at this point.  I'm so frustrated!!!  I was able to run 3.1 a couple weeks ago and do Jillian's Ripped in 30, 3 days in a row last week.  I felt good during and after but the last 2 days, my hip is in major pain and the pinching feeling is currently in my calf as well.

The sciatica doctor called me Monday evening asking where I've been.  Well sir, I don't really have the $40/week to come see you right now.  I know it's my body we're talking about here and I HAVE to get better but that's a lot of $ right now.  He said he will lower my copay.  Ok, fine.  So I'm going back tonight and then he wants me to get an MRI.

Deathly afraid, people.  Deathlyyy.  No joke.  But, my coworker just told me about an open MRI that he just got, so I want to try that versus the coffin-like MRI where your nose is touching the friggin' machine.  I can't.  I will have a panic attack.

Back to the lettuce talk...I currently weigh 145 which is not bad.  I was 160 a year & 1/2 ago.  I'd like to continue exercising and I wouldn't mind losing 5-10 more lbs. 

Hence, the I-should-just-eat-lettuce theory.  Kidding.  I'm still eating pretty well - I'm not stressing over good fats and consume them daily.  I'm not worrying if I go over my calories on MFP because usually when I go over, it's only by a few calories.  I don't do low fat or reduced fat and I haven't in a while.  Now, I stock up on coconut oil, olive oil, peanut butter, avocado.  I cook my morning egg in coconut oil each day.  Dinner usually involves olive oil and my snack is often times an apple with peanut butter.

Don't fear the full fat products, my friends.  Visit my friend, Kate's page to read more about that.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Tuesday Ramblings

Happy Tuesday, all!  I have a few things I'd like to share from over the weekend.  First, a hydrangea bouquet from our garden and those other purple flowers (no clue what the name is).

You don't need to have a green thumb to care for hydrangeas.  We have one hydrangea tree and a bunch of bushes.  They've quadrupled in size since we planted them 2 years ago.  They just need a lot of water!  What's great is that they last in a vase for at LEAST a week - usually longer.

Next, Saro's stuffed pork loin recipe:

1 pork loin - about 5 lbs, butterflied and pounded thin
4 oz fresh spinach
8 oz shredded mozzarella
honey mustard dressing - we made our own - olive oil, honey, mustard, garlic and lemon juice
when pork is pounded thin, spread dressing, then cheese, then spinach.  Roll and secure with toothpicks or twine.  Bake at 425 for 30 minutes or until it's 160 degrees.

You can add whatever else you like - sundried tomatoes is a good option.  It came out really good!

Finally, a cherry pie.  We bought these cherries about a week ago and hadn't touched them so I figured I'd make a pie so they wouldn't all go to waste.  I used America's Choice pie crust which I'd rather make my own next time, but oh well!  I was pressed for time.  Anyway, here's the recipe:

4-5 cups fresh cherries, pitted
1 cup sugar
4 tbsp corn starch
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla extract
two pie crusts - whichever you prefer

Cook cherries on the stove for about 10 minutes.  Add sugar, corn starch, vanilla and lemon juice.  Stir and cook for 5-8 minutes.  Remove from heat & let cool.  Pour mixture on to the pie crust (in pie dish).  Spread even.  Lay 2nd pie crust on top and press edges of both pie crusts together.  Using a knife, put a few slits in the top crust.  Bake at 375 for 50 minutes.

Next time, I'm going to try raw honey instead of sugar and make my own nut crust.

Have a good day!

Friday, August 16, 2013

25 more minutes!

But who's counting?  I'm just excited to go shop for a dress to wear in our engagement pictures and then go to happy hour with my best friends!  Have a great weekend!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

I said "YES!!!"

...To the question "Will you marry me?" !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

After more than 6 years together and 2 & 1/2 years living together, I knew it was coming but I didn't know it would be a random Wednesday night.  I wouldn't have wanted it to happen any other way than in the comfort of our own home and in a thoughtful way.

On Monday night, he asked me if I wanted to have dinner on Wednesday before the girls come for the week.  Hmm, ok, I thought to myself.  But we have chicken in the freezer, I also thought to myself....LOL.  (We're trying to not eat out as often).

I had a Dr. appointment after work yesterday and more than once he asked what time I'd be back.  More than once I told him probably 6:30 and that we can go to dinner when I'm done.

Leaving the Dr., I told him I'd meet him at the restaurant (the restaurant where we had our first few dates AND our first kiss).  The restaurant has since changed names so we wanted to try it out anyway.

The food was great and during dinner, he mentioned we had our first date there.  Yes, I  I asked him what he wanted to do when we got home (normally for me since I don't really sit still and am always asking him "so what do you want to do now?")  He QUICKLY said "I wanna play Scrabble."

Hmm, ok I thought to myself.  We hadn't played since Hurricane Sandy nearly 10 months ago but sure, why not?

So we get home and I notice my Vitacost order arrived so now I'm distracted with that and getting changed out of my work clothes.  He's standing near me with a pad and pen.  I'm thinking what's the rush to play Scrabble?  Hahaha.

I finally go into the living room and he tells me where to sit on the couch.  Okay - now I know something is up.  He gets down on one knee and opens the Scrabble board where "Will you marry me" is taped down to the board.  I immediately shed tears & ask if this is really happening.  He opens the ring box, asks me, I say YES, and he puts it on my finger.  Perfect fit too!!!  I ask how he knew my size and said that I've *somehow* mentioned it more than once in the last few years - LOL.

We then spent about 2 hours calling/texting family and friends.  My Mom stopped by and Saro's Mom did, too. 

Needless to say, it was a great night and we're very happy and excited!!!!!!!!!  I may or may not be very tired today with a little headache from some champagne and a Yuengling, but it was worth it!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Ripped in 30 Update + A Recipe

Happy Hump Day!

On Sunday, after feeling *pretty good* after my 5K run on Saturday, I decided to try Jillian Michaels Ripped in 30 again.  I've done it before, a handful of times.  So, I did it on Sunday, Monday and last night.  I'm still feeling pretty good although my left calf is having some sciatica pain.  Tonight I'm going to rest but I'm hoping to do it again Thursday and Friday or Saturday.

I've been doing Week #2 and it's pretty tough for a 30 minute work out!  You're constantly moving, jumping, on the floor, standing, etc.  I like it.  Jillian can be a little annoying at times, like how she tells one of the ladies she wants to bite her butt.  Hmmm.  I might mute it next time and put Calvin Harris on Pandora.  I have to say when she starts yelling and gets all in your face aka all the way up to the camera, it's like having someone really in front of you, motivating you to keep going.

I recommend it if you haven't tried it yet and if you're looking for a quick, effective workout.

Now, on to my Banana Blueberry Walnut Flax Muffin recipe.  I found a similar recipe online but changed a few things and added a few things:

3/4 cup flour (unbleached or whole wheat) - I'm waiting for my Vitacost delivery which has coconut flour.  I'm going to try that next time.
3/4 cup almond meal
1 cup buttermilk (luckily I still had some in the fridge from when I made Gram's Buttermilk Cake)
1 egg, beaten
1 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)
1/4 cup raw honey (it called for sugar but I used honey instead)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 ripe banana, mashed
1 tbsp ground flax
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tbsp coconut oil (instead of vegetable oil)
1/4 cup Quaker oats

Mix all ingredients and bake in a muffin pan (with liners) at 350 for 20-25 minutes.

Lastly, here's a picture of Saro and Tux.  Tux will rarely sit still like that and he did for a good 5 minutes :)

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Time I Went To Bartending School

Yup...after college I thought I'd bartend.  It never happened.  Two things I went to school for that never happened.  Oh well - my life isn't over yet!  Everything happens for a reason I GUESS.  Why do so many jobs want experience but they won't give people who are fresh out of school a chance?  Extremely frustrating.  If someone threw me behind a bar now, 7 years later, I wouldn't remember half the drinks I learned but yet back then, I aced the test (both written and making actual drinks) and nada -nothing.  They all wanted experienced people.

I bartended a few private parties but that was it.  I might actually promote that for the upcoming holiday season.  We'll see.  It wouldn't hurt to make a few extra bucks doing something fun for a few hours.

Do you work in the field you went to school for?

Monday, August 12, 2013

Active Weekend

Happy Monday!  Not really since I really did not want to get out of bed this morning.  I was able to do a 5K on Saturday with minimal pain and knock on wood, I'm still pain free.  Sore, yes but nothing major.  I went slow and steady.

Yesterday, I did JM Ripped in 30 and took Murphy out for a 2 mile walk.

Saturday night we celebrated my cousin-in-law's birthday at an all you can eat sushi place.  It was good!  I hadn't had sushi in a long time. 

That's pretty much all I've got.  No major plans this week except to try to get another run in and do JM Ripped in 30 4-5 days.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Flourless Blondies

Happy Friday, all!!!

Today, I'm sharing a flourless blondie recipe.  I found a similar recipe online but switched it up a bit and also added vanilla extract.  They taste really good.  They're more crumbly than regular brownies/blondies because there's no flour to make them stick together.

1 cup peanut butter
1/3 cup honey
1 egg
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla extract

Mix all ingredients and pour into a coconut oil greased 8x8 pan.  Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes.

Here's a typical morning in my house.  Our cat, Tux, after drinking from the bathroom faucet, likes to sit on the toilet and swat and me each time I walk by.  Murphy, our 90 lb dog, likes to be right under my feet.  He'd sit on my lap if he could.

"Hey Mom, you trying to get ready for work? Not with us around!"

I hope you all have a great weekend!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

The Dairy Debate

What do you think about consuming dairy/cow's milk?  I've heard a bunch of people say that consuming cow's milk is for baby cows, not humans.  I do agree...until I need to have half and half or heavy cream (1-2 tbsp) in my coffee or full fat greek yogurt in my morning smoothie (a dollop = maybe 2 tbsp).  Other than that, I do try to avoid it.

I haven't purchased "regular" milk in about 2 years.  Almond milk it is.  But, I've tried it in my coffee and it's basically like adding water.  I've tried coconut milk creamer and blech - can't do it.  It has a strange after taste.

So, I'm thinking about trying to make almond milk creamer.  I'm not sure how cost effective it is, but it's worth a shot.  I do not use sugar in my coffee.

Do you like regular milk?  Nut milk?  Coconut milk?  I'd like to hear your thoughts on this.

Dairy Milk vs. Almond Milk

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Guest Post & Waffle Recipe

Morning, all!  I'm guest posting on Mean Ang's page today.  It's a recipe I posted a couple of weeks ago but in case you missed it, check it out.  It's yummy!

I also wanted to share a waffle recipe.  Saro loves these.

To make twelve 4 inch waffles:

3 1/4 cups Trader Joe's buttermilk pancake and waffle mix
2 eggs
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup coconut oil (rather than vegetable oil)
1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk

Mix all ingredients together and cook on a waffle iron :)

I like to have these with fresh berries and a little real maple syrup.  Bacon, too!

Have a good Tuesday!

Friday, August 2, 2013

Gram's Buttermilk Cake

Happy Friday, all!  I decided to enter my Grandma's *almost famous* buttermilk cake recipe into an online contest.  It's called "Grandma's Favorite Recipe" contest and I immediately though of her cake.  The prize is a Kitchen Aid mixer.  I already have one so IF I win, I'll donate it.

I called her last night to tell her and she was really happy  :)  Wish me luck!  This recipe is NOT healthy but is really good.  I may or may not have had a sliver last night with ice cream...

3 cups flour
3 cups sugar (!)
1 cup Crisco - yup, CRISCO - vegetable oil BADNESS.
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup buttermilk
6 eggs

Cream Crisco, sugar and vanilla until combined.

Add eggs, one at a time & mix.  Then add flour, baking soda, salt and buttermilk.  Fold 120 times by hand.  Not literally.  I used a wooden spoon.  Old fashioned recipe, people.  Before Kitchen Aid mixers and hand mixers.

Pour into a greased angel food pan.  Place in the oven (NOT preheated).  Turn oven to 300 and bake for 80 minutes, turning every 20 minutes or so.  Test with a knife in the center.  If any residue on the knife, continue to bake.  When the knife is clean, turn oven off but leave the cake in the oven for another 10 minutes.  Remove from oven and let it sit for a while before slicing.  It's very moist! 

Enjoy with ice cream and/or berries.  It's amazing!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Trader Joe's

I just love it there.  Maybe I should work there.  Kidding.

Some of their stuff is pricey but for the most part, it's cheaper than a "normal" super market.  Egg whites for $1.99 when I've seen the same brand elsewhere for $3.99.  Coconut oil is $5.99 versus $9.99 or more elsewhere.  Almond meal is $3.99 versus $6.99 or more.  You get the idea!

Some of their produce is priced decent - other stuff, not so much.  I like that their bananas are 19 cents each and spinach and kale is only $1.99/bag. 

Come to think of it, I haven't shopped at Shop Rite in months!  I've been going to TJ's, farmer's markets and the chicken farm.  If we are having beef, Saro buys it from work.  I've been couponing and using Extra Bucks at CVS for paper products and laundry detergent.

There is a Whole Foods on my way home from work and I sometimes stop there if we need something for dinner.  Yes, some of their stuff is definitely over priced but, some stuff isn't.  Plus, it's a really nice store.  They have frozen (USA) shrimp 2 lbs for $14.99.  You can't really beat that.  If you can, let me know where - lol.  This Friday they're having fresh wild salmon on sale for $9/lb - regularly it's $19/lb.  I'd never do a "big shop" there but they have their ups.

What's your favorite food store to shop in?  Do you live near a Trader Joe's and shop there?  What do you like/dislike about it?

Happy Friday Eve!