Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Seeing is Believing: One Month Down and Counting

I'm writing this post a happier person. I'm not happy because I lost weight. I'm happy because I am trying to find a self again that I thought I had lost - a girl who liked to line it up with the boys in the weight room, run on pavement, had energy and interests outside of my job and my kids, had something to talk about with my husband besides our jobs and our kids. That girl was buried somewhere I thought was undisclosed, and I believed digging her up again would be a challenge. It actually was a lot easier than I thought.

Motivational Quotes
And your old one. Via

It seems silly that one 24-day Challenge devoted to healthier eating and living could change me that distinctly. But it did. When I decided to take it on, I was committed. Ready to be someone different. Ready to admit that I drank way too much wine as a way to relax (I actually really don't like all the mommies-who-wine memes on Facebook, because they obscure a larger problem at work). Ready to admit that I no longer ate as healthily as I once did. Ready to admit that I was beginning to look and feel middle-aged. So making the changes recommended by the Advocare Challenge was actually pretty easy. And it became easier and easier because I saw such great results - mentally and physically. Seeing is believing.

I took these pictures so I could show the physical difference (I did lose 11 pounds and 10 inches - 4 inches in my waist alone). But I think the mental difference is more important . The smile on my face in the second picture says it all. I FEEL better. I wanted to stop assaulting my body, and I've started down a new path. I decided that I was worth it - worth what I would have spent every day on wine and coffee alone;), worth what I easily spent on one of my children in one month.

Advocare 24-Day Challenge Results

Advocare 24-Day Challenge Results

Our next big group challenge starts September 8th. If you're ready to make a change, message me and I can help you along. You can read more about the challenge here (and even order one if you want:)). You can read more about other people's success stories here. Who knows, you might be the next one:). J

Friday, August 15, 2014

Back-to-School: Easy Scrabble Binder Project

Scrabble Binder Project
So my daughter has been bugging me incessantly for the last month about purchasing her school supplies. I mean, constant harassment. I'm ready to call the police.

We stopped in Jo-Ann Fabrics this past Wednesday because they were having some great National Grand Opening Event specials, and found these Scrabble tile stickers and metal-stud stickers, both on clearance for $1.97.  Two $2 binders later and we were in business.

I like this project because she could design it entirely herself; I just had a hand in purchasing the materials and some words of advice about making sure she had enough letters.

She first figured out how she would arrange the words and whether she would have enough letters to create the words she wanted to use (a good refresher in spelling and counting;)). Then, she decided to use the nail-head studs to decorate the spine of each binder.

Nail-head binder spine.

The finished project. I love how they turned out. PS: While you're there, get a $1.29 birdhouse for your little one to paint (in the $5 and under bins at the front of the store). She'll love you forever.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Favorite Blogs of Late

Sometimes, I obsessively check in with certain blogs. I mean, I read everything that they have possibly written over the course of a week. Here are my latest favorites.

The first: Daniel Kanter's Manhattan Nest. Kanter and his partner made the somewhat crazy decision to buy a run-down Greek revival home in Kingston, NY and have spent the last several months diving into renovating it. He's funny, self-deprecating, and thorough. Have a read, and make sure you look at the earlier posts about the house so you can see just how far they have come.
The next stop is usually Design Sponge. I made my way here from Kanter's blog, because he told us about this house that was formerly an inn that a renovatory friend of his was rehabilitating. First of all, this house is ridiculously good. Go look at it. I love John McKinney's design sensibility. Also, Design Sponge on the whole is a Filofax filled with great ideas.
Yet another click away from Manhattan Nest is Door Sixteen. This blog, about renovating a Victorian, music, books, food, and more, is run by Anna Dorfman, who did the design for Manhattan Nest. I also love Dorfman's aesthetic - simplified, but electroshocked.

The last blog I've been reading obsessively is Hey Lauren Rene. I am on day 24 of my Advocare 24-Day Challenge, and Lauren's blog is very motivational in terms of eating clean and staying focused (especially on the days after the challenge, when you want to remain invested in your health).  

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Six Aerobics Videos that Will Make You Look Ridiculous If You Try Them

Proof: Even Gwyneth Paltrow looks ridiculous here.
These videos. I just can't help myself. A/J

1. Tracy Anderson Method: The Mat Workout: I decided to try this video out after I decided that the Pure Barre classes I absolutely love are too expensive to attend on a regular basis. Well, I felt like an idiot doing this video. With her hip-hugging micro-leggings, pout, comments about "bulking up," and sexed-up leg-lifts, Anderson is hard to take seriously. My suspicion that I looked like an idiot was confirmed when my daughter came downstairs, sleepily asked me what in the heck I was doing, and then started laughing uncontrollably.

2. Jane Fonda's Advanced Workout: This one is a classic. Put on your leotard, thread a belt underneath it, and you are ready to go. Oh, while doing this one, you must yell "Woo" a lot (see 15:30 as a case in point). Sometimes even "Woooo-oooo-OOP!"

3. Lady Gagaerobics: So, apparently there's a thing called "Gagaerobics"? I missed the fad. A) These people are having way too much fun. B) I kind of want to do this routine, just to show off my sexy walk.

4. The Best of Gilad's Bodies in Motion: Oh Gilad. His videos will make you a champion discus-thrower.

5. Prancercise: Who could forget Prancercise? I actually love this chick. Just go for it. Who cares who's watching??

6. The Champions of Aerobics: Just try keeping up with these folks. Just try.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Nectarine, Tomato, and Basil Salad

Nectarine, Tomato, and Basil Salad
Yesterday, over lunch, I read about this amazing-sounding salad in House Beautiful magazine. First of all, I am seriously addicted to magazines. I have been ever since I was a kid. I have a subscription to about 10 magazines a month: Country Living, Redbook, Martha Stewart, Better Homes & Gardens, HGTV, Self, Real Simple, Cooking Light, Gourmet (I used to also get magazines like Glamour, but they are so ridiculously insipid anymore, I don't bother; one can only read so many articles about how to look sexier or accentuate one's eyeballs). I don't like reading magazines on an e-reader either. It's just not the same experience (I recycle, so there's that). Sometimes, however, I just can't get around to reading them all and they pile up. One of the sweet joys of summer is wallowing around in the stacks of magazines that have collected upon themselves during the end of the school year.

So, this salad. This guy told a story (which made me very envious) about tooling around the Hamptons in a convertible (I think he was in a convertible; I imagined him in one anyway) looking for ingredients to pair with a "perfect" Burrata cheese from "the city" and picking up peaches, heirloom tomatoes, and basil from three of the scads of farmstands dotting the leisurely roads along the shoreline. Ugh. I hate rich people.

In my refrigerator, I had a bag of nectarines, some roma tomatoes, a shard of parmesan cheese, and basil (from my mom's garden). Those would have to do.

I diced up the nectarines and tomatoes, cut the basil in chiffonade (that was fancy anyway), drizzled the concoction in honey and balsamic vinegar, cracked on some pepper and sea salt, stirred it around, and shredded some parmesan over the top. It was absolutely delicious. Not as delicious as the heirloom tomato salad designed to complement the perfect Burrata, but it was pretty damn good anyway. You should try it:). A/J

Friday, August 8, 2014

Painting Linoleum Floors: Basement Rehab

Painting Linoleum Floors
Turns out painting linoleum floors is fairly controversial amongst one's friends. But I decided to throw caution to the winds and do it anyway, because the situation in our creepy-looking basement and its creepy-looking floors couldn't get any worse. The linoleum in the basement was beyond repair - it was so dirty-looking and gross it didn't even require a good sand because so many years of wear and tear had left it without any sheen on it whatsoever. Plus, painting the floors would cost a fraction of what laying vinyl plank or any other acceptable floor-covering would have cost, money that we just don't have right now (repeat after me: DIY on a budget. Like a shoestring).

I did a lot of research on painting linoleum floors before I decided to bite the bullet and do it. I found this site and its advice particularly helpful (this laundry room was also featured in a copy of Better Homes and Gardens magazine last year). So, I took most of her advice.

Here's what I did: I sanded any spots that seemed to retain a shine, cleaned the floors thoroughly with a high-powered floor cleaner, and then primed them, carefully painting the floor with a brush around the edges and then rolling on the primer (rolling it on is actually pretty fun - you can just pour the paint directly on the floor and then swish it around).

I then painted the floors (two coats) with Valspar Deck and Porch Paint (buying this type of paint is key, as it is durable, scratch- and water-resistant). One gallon was sufficient for the space, which is actually fairly large.

Here are some side-by-sides so you can see how far we have come at this point in the basement rehab:

Angle 1: This side of the basement actually gets a fair amount of light from the door and two windows. The space looks so much brighter without the 1970s dark-brown paneling, which I painted in Valspar Paint and Primer: Desert Fortress. The trim is Valspar's Dove White, which matches perfectly with the paint color of the other woodwork in the house. This space will be transformed into the "mudroom," as the entry to the garage is just off-camera to the right.

This formerly wasted space will soon be the dance room, where the girls can practice and play. You can really see how bad the shape of the linoleum floors was in this photo. The floor color is Valspar Deck and Porch paint in Teddy Bear. I thought this would be a good color to keep the space bright, but it would still hide any dirt we tracked in. I'll tell you more about the dance space when we finish it up.

Old linoleum versus "new" linoleum (plus my piggies). I actually kind of like the scrolled pattern now that it is subdued by the paint.
Here's me in my "painting overalls." Priming. This particular mirror has a funhouse quality. Oops.

I will let you know in a few months how they are holding up. Let's just say that, right now, I am beyond thrilled with the state of affairs in the basement. It looks so much better than it did! Stay tuned for more updates as we move along. What a project. A/J

Thursday, August 7, 2014

A Delicious Greek Salad (Sort of) ...

I just finished my lunch. Mid-way through my salad, I realized it was so unbelievably delicious that I had to stop eating and take a picture of it so that I could tell you about it after I was done.

Here's the breakdown. It's easy:

I used sweet baby lettuce as the bed for the salad. Then I topped it with one roma tomato sliced, one banana pepper from my mom's garden (cut in half and sliced), a handful of chopped dill (also from Nana's garden), and one serving of chopped chicken (I prepare a week's worth of this chicken for my salads by putting chicken tenderloins or breasts in a crockpot with a little broth and letting it cook on low for about six hours; you can then shred or chop it for your salads throughout the week). Over everything, I squeezed one fresh lemon and added a little reduced-fat feta cheese (I just had to; the salad wouldn't have been as good without it).

In the astute words of Rachel Ray, Yum-o. I think it was so good because of the freshness of the ingredients (nothing beats garden vegetables). I actually found myself trying to drink the leftover juice/dill out of the bowl. A/J

Down time ...

Wow. I have been a really horrible blogger this summer. We've just been so busy. And sometimes, when I sit down to write, I think, I have no idea what in the hell I want to write about. I think all of us creative types go through this kind of creative malaise sometimes - a period when the batteries have to recharge. During these times, when my brain needs a break, I wallow in physical activity.

There have been some fun goings on around the Nest lately, and I'll have big updates for you soon. Here are a few pics from the last month:

I took the kids on an impromptu trip to Ohiopyle State Park to play in the water (more on this place soon).
Work continues on the basement/man-cave/diy dance-room. Here, the mirrors are going up:)!! I'll share a whole post on the space when it's finished.
I started painting the old gross linoleum floor yesterday. More on this also when I'm finished. For our other linoleum painting projects, look here.  

I'm on day 18 of my Advocare 24-Day Challenge. I will be sad when it's over! (Just kidding, I plan to keep going with the Max Phase after day 24). I know I'm not supposed to weigh myself until day 25, but I couldn't help myself. I'm down 10 pounds and feeling amazing. Stay tuned for my day 25 update:)!!

The kids popped some bubbles.

My pretties in the yard are finally growing and blooming - after two years. Check out this gorgeous girl.
I promise I'll be back in full force sometime soon. But now, I'm off to paint a floor. A/J