Goal Setting

Weight loss this time around has been a lot tougher. I don’t know where my motivation went, but I’m having so much trouble getting back in the swing of things this year. I look back at my 70 lbs. lost pictures, and I can’t believe I thought I was FAT in those. I was on top of the world last April. Like Jack on Titanic hands in the air…ON.TOP.OF.THE.WORLD.

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Picture collage made by Fit For a Bride

Now, I feel like I’m fighting for every pound. Every single last pound. It’s hard…crazy hard, and that’s why I haven’t been writing much about it. I’m sort of ashamed, and I feel like I’m letting myself down every single day.

I also feel a small tinge of guilt on this blog. I feel like the weight gain lately is sort of letting you guys down. Every single one of you who wrote emails, comments, tweets…the encouragement was/is amazing, and I’m only 40 lbs. down now. It’s a bummer.

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Also, the 30 Day Shred thing? Sadly, today is day 1, instead of day 16.

However, it’s time for positive thinking…at least I’m on day 1, right? It’s something. And more positively, at least I’m catching myself 30 lbs. up, instead of gaining back all 70 lbs. That would have been a really tough pill for me to swallow.

So, here I am. It’s taking me a lot longer to get back to where I was, but I’m going to slowly chip away at it.

I decided to redo my rewards. I pretty much LOVED my rewards and looked forward to them like crazy. Since I took some steps back, I’m redoing them. Fresh start.

Weight Loss Rewards

So, here we go again. I have to admit that my first reward is already purchased. I bought this palette when it was on crazy sale at HSN, but when I got it, I thought that it would be fun to break this open when I saw a new weight decade for the first time in months. :-)

How is everyone else’s weight loss journeys going? Are any of y’all also facing the fact that this is, indeed, a journey?

Dried Fruit Cream Scones

Cream Scones

I know some things are better done by hand when it comes to cooking and baking, however, I love a good shortcut. The last time I made scones, I made them by hand. It was quite an arm work-out, and they took a good bit of time to make, but they were worth it. Homemade scones almost always are.

A few months back, I gathered up a couple of gift cards and purchased a food processor. We’ve always had a mini food processor, which was great, but I really hated doing things in small batches and well, sometimes the mini food processor couldn’t handle things. This one, however, is a work horse. When I thought about making scones, I was so excited because hey, any excuse to use a new toy, right? These scones came together incredibly fast. In fact, I ended up making 3 batches of these in one afternoon for my husband’s coworkers. SUPER easy. I added coarse sugar on top, because that’s how I’ve had them at a few bakeries, and I love the added crunch. The scones themselves were so tasty. I tried one with dried blueberries, and loved that they were so buttery in flavor and not too sweet. Totally perfect with a cup of coffee..totally. I made them with dried cherries and dried blueberries, but I imagine they would work beautifully with cranberries, too.

If you have a large food processor handy, I highly recommend this recipe. These would be perfect to bring to the office for a morning surprise or even bake them up for a brunch this Easter. :-)

Dried Fruit Cream Scones
Source: The Cook’s Illustrated Cookbook

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 5 tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into chunks and very cold
  • 1/2 cup dried fruit, chopped if the pieces are large
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • Optional: Coarse sugar

Directions:

  1. Move the oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with parchment paper or a silicone baking sheet.
  2. In a large food processor, pulse together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt, about 3 times. Add the butter evenly over the top of the mixture and pulse the mixture again until it looks like coarse meal with a few slightly larger pieces of butter, which will take about 12 more pulses. Transfer the butter/flour mixture to a large bowl and stir in the dried fruit. Stir in the heavy cream, until dough begins to form.
  3. Turn the dough and flour bits onto a lightly floured surface, and knead the dough for about 5-10 seconds, until a rough, slightly sticky ball forms. Pat the dough evenly to a 9 inch round and cut the dough into 8 wedges.
  4. Place the edges on the prepared baking sheet, spacing them about 2 inches apart. Sprinkle the tops of the scones with coarse sugar, if using. Bake the scones until the tops are lightly golden brown, about 12-15 minutes, rotating the sheet halfway through the baking process. Place the baking sheet on a wire rack, allowing the scones to cool for at least 10 minutes.

Peanut Thai Quinoa Salad

Disclosure: I received a selection of whole grain products from the Whole Grain Council to sample, as a whole grain ambassador for “Whole Grain Sampling Day”, but was not compensated for this post. All opinions are 100% my own.

Thai Quinoa Salad

There’s nothing better than finally feeling in control of things again…at least diet-wise. Sure, I still have my splurge days, but for the most part, I don’t go over my calorie count. I have to admit, it really helps that the new office discourages eating at your desk. Walking to the break room for a handful of dried fruit or a granola bar makes me think twice before snacking. I actually like it….mindless snacking while at work was one of my biggest issues, and the new job sort of figured it out for me. :-)

I’ve also started trying new food items again. I was recently approached by the Whole Grains Council about being a Whole Grains Ambassador this year, along with some other fantastic food bloggers. I definitely jumped at the chance, because one thing I’ve learned throughout my weight loss journey, is that there is nothing wrong with giving new foods a try. One of my favorite whole grains is quinoa, which I wouldn’t have ordinarily tried when I was almost 300 pounds. I was looking for other options for lunch at the office, and there were so many great recipes out there involving quinoa…I just had to give it a try! I know it’s all the rage lately, but I can’t get enough of it. Not only is it tasty (it reminds me of brown rice, but with a nuttier taste), but I also think it’s versatile. You can serve it hot or cold, savory or sweet, and you can easily enjoy it anytime of the day!

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30 Day Shred (again)

As I’ve recently gotten back into calorie counting, one of the things that unfortunately took a back seat was my workout schedule. When I started my new job last month, I stopped with my lifting routine at the gym. Just a new routine…getting used to going home later…I just quit going to the gym, and seriously, that’s no excuse. While there’s nothing I can really do about slacking the past 4 weeks, it’s time to look forward!

I’m starting the Shred…again. :-) The last time I did Jillian Michaels’ 30 Day Shred, I had amazing results.

30 Day Shred post

I mean…with those results, how can I not? I have 20 minutes to spare…I can’t make excuses anymore.

(And no, this isn’t April Fools. I mean, why would I joke about work-outs? That’s sort of lame.)

So, April is the month. 30 days. I can’t wait to see the results in May! Are any of y’all trying some new workouts to mix things up this spring?

 

Taffy Plus Size Activewear Review/Giveaway

Disclaimer: This review/giveaway is sponsored by Taffy, in conjunction with Fit Approach/Sweat Pink. All opinions are my own.

Since I’ve gained some of my weight back, I’m gonna admit that I’m back in plus sizes. A 1X is my usual size, and while some of my XL clothes still fit, most of my closet isn’t being worn right now. It’s sort of depressing.

I know it’s just a tag, but eh…it’s still a tough pill to swallow. A while back, a good blogging friend sent me a link about reviewing this brand of plus size activewear: Taffy. Since some of my workout clothes are a bit snug right now, I went for it.

I was sent the Taffy Essential Jacket (in white) for review through Sweat Pink. Since it tends to still switch between cold and warm lately, this jacket is still getting some use! I mean, last week we had weather in the 30s and just Saturday when my husband and I were doing yard work, I couldn’t stop sweating…it was HOT. Anyway, for chilly afternoons/evenings, I like to wear a light jacket to say, go for a run, walk the dog or heck, just wear on the way to the gym!

Taffy review

 

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Roasted Cauliflower

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I love my job. I’ve been making maps for almost 7 years now, and while it’s a small little niche to be in, I just love it. At first when I entered this field, I was scared out of my mind. I was no longer a student, which I was very comfortable with since I had been one for 18 years. I remember my first day at my first “real world” job. While I took classes to prepare me for my job, I was afraid that all of my college years were a lie. I’d walk into my job and be completely lost. Those first few days were pretty darn nerve-wracking and sort of embarrassing. I’d ask my boss all the time…um, how do you do this? (feeling completely stupid) However, my boss was super patient and had no issues reminding me about a certain tool in the software or what this acronym meant, etc…..and for that, I’m super thankful. I loved my first job…loved it, but since an hour plus commute/day wouldn’t be fun once I moved to where my (now) husband lived, I had to leave it. It just made sense. I won’t go into why I left my job before this one, but I’ll just say I’m super thankful that I found a new job where I can still work in the field that I enjoy.

Now that I’ve been doing this for quite a few years, while I don’t know it all (honestly, in my tech-y map field, not many people, with the exception of the software developers, do), I feel like I know a good bit. I will admit that I had a good bit of nerves walking into this new job on day 1, but I feel like I’m getting the hang of things here with a lot more ease versus previous jobs. The software I worked in never changed….just the work type and the standards. I feel a sense of belonging when I’m asked if I know how to do this in the software, and I can say “yes”. While I’m still very much the new person, and I still have a lot to learn, I feel like the transition hasn’t been too too bad. :-) I finally feel comfortable working in my field, just like I was comfortable being a student back in college. :-)

Now, I know roasted cauliflower isn’t comfort food…at all. However, when it came to cooking plain vegetables, I usually steamed them. It’s what I thought was the only way to prepare vegetables in a healthy way, and well, it never crossed my mind to roast vegetables, but after reading multiple blogs where everyone was like YES…MUST TRY ::insert veggie name:: ROASTED. It was new to me, like say…a new job? (Heehee…trying to link stories here, but failing miserably.) Anyway, roasted is my favorite way to prepare most vegetables now. This is one of those posts where a recipe isn’t really needed, but I’m gonna share it anyway. It’s a technique worth trying! I love the roasted flavor of veggies, and I’ve done this with cauliflower, broccoli, sweet potatoes (cut in chunks) and fresh green beans, to name a few. I recently got another fun shipment of produce from Frieda’s Produce, and included in the shipment was cauliflower (white and purple) and romanesco (sort of a greenish cauliflower, but different shape). I just had to roast it up to see how pretty it would all turn out. :-)

If you roast different quantities of vegetables from time to time, you will want to adjust the oil and spices accordingly. It’s not an exact science by any means….I use just enough oil to coat the veggies and sort of gauge out the spices as I see fit. :-)

Roasted Cauliflower
Source: adapted from Simply Recipes

Ingredients:

  • 1 head of cauliflower, broken up into florets
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder (adjust this based on the amount of vegetables)
  • olive oil
  • coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place the cauliflower florets in an oven-proof baking pan or dish, and spread them into an even, single layer. Sprinkle the garlic powder evenly over the cauliflower, as well as the salt and pepper. Drizzle the vegetables with olive oil and toss to coat the cauliflower evenly in spices and oil.
  2. Once the oven has reached temperature, place the baking pan/dish in the oven and roast the vegetables, uncovered, for 25-30 minutes, until the tops of the vegetables are just turning brown. Enjoy!

Disclosure: The cauliflower and romanesco were sent at no cost to me by Frieda’s Produce.

Random Crafts

The holidays were a little over two months ago, and I realized while looking through photos, that I never shared some of the handmade gifts that I made! This year wasn’t very heavy on crafts. I had quite a bit of ambition, but I never get through my full list.

The gifts that I made were fabric rosette necklaces and a lace scarf. I really could have made more, but the holidays are just so darn busy! I feel like I need to start earlier and earlier in the year to get through the list that I have. :-) Maybe I should start now for 2014’s gifts? LOL!

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These were the rosette necklaces that I made. I have been so inspired by statement necklaces lately, and saw this tutorial for fabric rosettes (which I bookmarked ages ago, because they were just so darn cute).

Then, on Pinterest I came across the idea to make the rosettes into a bib necklace, and the idea hit me. Why not make them in my favorite team colors and give them as gifts? I gave the LSU ones to one of my sisters & my cousin, since they both go there. I also made one for me. :-)

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The other ones were, of course, for Saints fans. I gave one of those to my other sister and my future sister in law. :-) I won’t lie…it really takes some time to make the little rosettes and a good bit of tacky & hot glue. However, I love the results! I can’t wait to wear mine during football season next year!

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The fabric was Kona cotton, and since that’s normally a fairly pricey fabric (in comparison to other solid cotton fabrics), I just waited for it to go on sale. :-) I packaged the necklaces, using the same comic book boards that I used to re-organize my fabric collection a couple of years ago. I just cut them into smaller rectangles, and added in two slits on top of the board for the chains to stay put in. :-)

The other gift that I made was a lace scarf for my Memaw. Yes, I call my grandma, Memaw, and I love that Sheldon on Big Bang Theory has a Memaw, too. :-) She LOVES the color aqua, and since I had some aqua sock yarn in my stash, I decided to knit this scarf up for her. :-)

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I just love it. :-) It also was a fairly simple lace pattern, so if you’re a beginner with knitting and you’re looking to get into a lace-making pattern, this one is worth a try, in my opinion. It still takes some time, but most lace patterns do.

Did any of y’all make gifts for the holiday season? Or heck…now that we’re well out of the holiday season, are you planning to make any birthday gifts?

Apple Spice Mini Cupcakes with Spiced Cream Cheese Frosting

applecupcakes

You guys may remember how rough of a year 2013 was. Every time something would happen, I’d think…well, it really can’t get worse. Well, I feel like God really tested us last year, because oh man…it just kept getting worse. It was just a rotten year all around. :-\

2014 is proving to be so much better. I got some good news…like REALLY GOOD NEWS. You may have noticed lately that I’ve been a bit quiet on here and on social media….

…well….

I got a new job!

I don’t want to give specifics, but let’s just say I’m in the same field and I’m pretty darn happy here. While the job is still very new to me, I feel like I can honestly look forward to work every day. I have to admit, I had some new job jitters. What if I wasn’t smart enough for it? What if I didn’t make friends?

I had my doubts, because I held my previous job for almost 5 years. It’s what I knew, and this new job is a pretty big change for me. However, so far I’m loving it. LOVING it. Everyone I’ve met at my new job is very friendly, and it’s just a different, yet refreshing dynamic. It reminds me a lot of my first job out of college, which I loved (I had to resign from my first job, since I moved to a new city).

I’ve been in such a cheerful mood because of this change (amongst other things), and you guys probably know that “Happy” song by Pharrell? Well, yeah…that’s my theme song right now. In fact, I caught myself humming this in Target the other day…haha!

Also, another reason to be happy is that my birthday is coming up. I’m pretty sure I’ll be eating cake all weekend, so it’s fitting to share this recipe for cupcakes. :-) I made these for the Opal Apple dessert party, and they were SO good! I love mini cupcakes, because I can enjoy one and feel like I had dessert, or like some others who had these, enjoy 5 or 6 of these without too many judge-y stares. :-P

This made about 40 mini cupcakes for me, so it’s more than enough to go around for a party. :-)

Apple Spice Mini Cupcakes with Spiced Cream Cheese Frosting
Source: cupcake recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction & frosting is an original 

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup or 1 stick of unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup dark brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup whole milk
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 2 Opal Apples, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 batch spiced cream cheese frosting
  • Optional: 1 batch caramel sauce (for drizzle)

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare a mini cupcake pan by lining each cup with a mini cupcake liner and set the pan aside.
  2. Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg together in a large-sized bowl and set aside. Whisk the melted butter and sugars together in a medium-sized bowl, until well-combined. Whisk in the eggs, one at a time (beating for 30 seconds with each addition), until smooth. Add the whole milk and vanilla extract to the batter, whisking until everything is combined.
  3. Slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, stirring the batter gently until just combined. Fold in the finely chopped apples.
  4. Fill the mini cupcake liners 3/4 of the way full with cupcake batter (using either a small scoop or a piping bag, to make it easier). Bake the cupcakes for 15-18 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cupcakes comes out clean. Remove the mini cupcakes from the oven and allow them to completely cool before frosting.
  5. Once cooled, generously swirl on the frosting, and if you’d like, drizzle the cupcakes with a simple caramel sauce. If you’re not serving these immediately, refrigerate them until you’re ready to serve. Enjoy!

Disclosure: I’m a 2014 brand ambassador for Opal Apple. I was compensated in the form of free products, a party kit with all printed materials necessary for the party, and a gift card. All opinions are 100% my own.

Mini Apple Tartlets

applepietarts

Well, yesterday was Mardi Gras. Usually, I’m super jazzed about it, but I’ve had a lot going on in my personal life, and Mardi Gras sort of just snuck up on me. I’m glad I didn’t get my hopes up too much about parading though…we had SLEET on Mardi Gras Day. SLEET…ICE…they closed roads…in Louisiana…in March! Let that sink in for a little bit. This winter has been a weird one..

Now that Mardi Gras season is over, and I’m mourning over an empty king cake box, I have to face what I’m giving up during the lenten season: candy and soda. I was really considering all refined  & artificial sugar, but I really want it to be something I know I can handle. Soda is hard enough (diet coke addict here!), but candy during Easter season? Ugh…I’ll buy a box of Cadbury eggs for the week after Easter. :-P Hopefully, this will kick my sweet tooth to the side for a while…I really need to stop craving Reese’s cups darnit!

Speaking of the sweet tooth, I’m still thinking about these mini tartlets that I made for my Opal Apple dessert party. They were so simple to make, and they made quite a bit for a party! I think this would be a perfect dessert to throw together at the last minute, and if you have some caramel sauce or ice cream lying around, they would be perfection on these!

Mini Apple Tartlets
Source: Opal Apples

Ingredients:

  • 2 Opal apples, peeled, cored & chopped
  • 1/8 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1 tbsp. candied ginger, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp. water
  • 2 packages (containing 15 each) mini phyllo dough cups

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone sheet. Set aside.
  2. In a small saucepan, add all ingredients, except for the phyllo dough cups. Heat the apple mixture to a simmer over medium heat and cover. Cook the mixture for about 5 minutes and remove the mixture from the heat.
  3. Once slightly cooled, fill each phyllo cup with a tsp. of the apple filling. Place the cups on the prepared baking sheet, and bake them for 8-10 minutes. They’re best served warm, but also taste great at room temperature!

Disclosure: I’m a 2014 brand ambassador for Opal Apple. I was compensated in the form of free products, a party kit with all printed materials necessary for the party, and a gift card. All opinions are 100% my own.

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Tacos

pulledporktacos

I’m such a huge fan of the slow cooker. We don’t use it often enough, but every time I use it, I make it a goal of mine to use the darn thing more often. That never happens, though, because I just always seem to forget about the slow cooker when menu planning. ::sigh::

One of my favorite things about the slow cooker is the amount of time it takes to be in the kitchen. This recipe is a great example of that. It requires just a few ingredients, and you just let the slow cooker do its job for 8 hours. Not much work at all, and you have a delicious, homemade meal ready for you for dinner that evening.

A meal like this is perfect for a new mom, actually, and today I’m so excited to be a part of Katie’s (of Katie’s Cucina and Sew Woodsy) surprise virtual baby shower, which was organized by Julie of The Little Kitchen and Christine of Cook the Story.

Katie is a good blogger friend of mine, who I met at Food Blog Forum last year. When I met Katie, I felt like we were just instant friends. She’s just super sweet…just like she comes across on her blogs!

Food Blog Forum 2013

She and her husband, Jon, are expecting their first baby…a BOY in March. :-) Since they’re pretty much DIY gurus, I’ve especially enjoyed following the nursery planning on their DIY blog, as well as her Instagram. I’m sure it’s going to come out amazing!

For Katie’s baby shower, the theme is easy recipes & crafts for busy families. I instantly thought of the slow cooker for this theme, and since tex-mex cuisine is a favorite of mine, I just had to share this recipe with y’all.

This is such a great, basic recipe for a meal. The pulled pork takes very little prep time, and it’s super versatile. You could use it for tacos (like I’m showing y’all today), enchiladas, serve it over mexican rice, quick tortilla “pizzas”, nachos, etc. Also, since this calls for 3 lbs. of pork, you can easily make this for a dinner one night, freeze the leftover meat, and use it for dinner another evening.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a shower without a whole variety of recipes/crafts to try! Check out these amazing ideas from the other bloggers who contributed to Katie’s shower. Congratulations again, Katie…can’t wait to “meet” your little one!

Katies-Cucina-Virtual-Baby-Shower-500

Easy Broccoli & Cheddar Soup from The Little Kitchen
Buffalo Chicken Stuffed Peppers from Cook the Story
Individual Tortilla Caprese Pizzas from a farmgirl’s dabbles
Easy Cheesy Potato Corn Chowder from A Little Claireification
Slow Cooker Jambalaya from A Spicy Perspective
Italian Style Stir Fry from Aggie’s Kitchen
Apricot Chicken from Bombshell Bling
Easy Baked Spaghetti from Chocolate & Carrots
Cuban Casserole with Whole Grain Mustard Butter Biscuits from Climbing Grier Mountain
Freezer-Friendly Quinoa Meatballs from Cooking with Books
Baby Boy Subway Art Printable from H2OBungalow
Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Banana Cake from Inside BruCrew Life
Asparagus And Leek Quiche from Kokocooks
Roasted Lemon Parmesan Chicken with Red Potatoes from Life After Empty Nest
Yogurt Blueberry and Honey Smoothie from My Sweet Zepol
Pesto Parmesan Chicken Salad from Shaken Together
Printable Baby Whale Themed Cards and Project Life Mini Album from Simply Kelly Designs
Coconut Cookie Butter Sandwich Cookies from Simply Southern Baking
Slow Cooker Pot Roast with Garden Vegetables from Sweet Remedy
Easy Kofta Kebabs from Tasty Chomps
Crock Pot Fajitas with Chicken and Quinoa from The Dinner-Mom
Overnight Oatmeal from The Hungry Housewife
Honey-Dijon Chicken, Apple & Quinoa Wraps from The Kitchen Prep
Slow Cooker Italian Chicken Soup from The Lemon Bowl
DIY Whale Art from While They Snooze
One Pot Mexican Chicken and Rice from Yellow Bliss Road

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Tacos
Source: inspired by Can You Stay For Dinner

Ingredients:

  • 3 lbs. boneless boston butt/pork shoulder
  • 1 jar of store bought salsa
  • 1 batch of taco seasoning

Directions:

  1. Pour the jar of salsa in a 5-6 qt. slow cooker. Gently place the boston butt/pork shoulder over the salsa. Sprinkle the taco seasoning over the top of the pork. Set the slow cooker on the low setting and cook for 8 hours. Shred the pork using two forks and enjoy…..or for a more crispy texture, follow the next step.
  2. Optional: To give the pork a crispier texture for some pieces, shred the cooked pork and place it in a rimmed baking sheet, spreading the meat as evenly as possible. Place the meat under the broiler on “low” and allow it to bake, checking it every minute or so, until the meat starts to brown/crisp on top (about 5 minutes).
  3. I served mine with plenty of chopped cilantro and white cheddar, but you could also opt for finely chopped red onion, salsa and/or sour cream, to name a few ideas! Top them however you like!