Thursday, February 27, 2014

February Shareworthy

I discovered a new-to-me vocal artist that I'm really loving.  I was watching a beauty tutorial by Samantha Schuerman and heard Mindy Gledhill for the first time.  I've had this song on replay ever since! Click PLAY while you read on!

For Your Reading Pleasure . . .
I've been loving The Deliberate Reader blog (I wish I could give credit to how I found her, but I already can't remember).  This latest review, of Women Heroes of World War II sounds intriguing (and in small, bedtime-accessible chunks - mommy bonus!).

This post by Jen Fulwiler on the Courage to Rest has given me a lot of food for thought (especially with Lent fast approaching).

If you're a casual (or not so casual) Kate Middleton follower, and you haven't discovered What Would Kate Do?, it's time to become acquainted!

For Your Eating Pleasure . . .
I'm looking forward to trying out some of these Paleo slow cooker recipes!  I already tested the roast chicken and gravy from Nom Nom Paleo and it was a winner - quick, easy, delicious and healthy - whether you follow a Paleo diet or not! (I used the leftovers in my Buffalo Chicken Salad!)

This Paleo-friendly green smoothie (I know, in some folks' books that's a contradiction in terms) was delicious and made a nice on-the-go meal that didn't involve a boiled egg.

This Paleo banana pudding hit the spot when I needed a sweet treat. My second batch was even better with a tablespoon of Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips thrown in!

On the nutritionally naughty end of the spectrum, Daddy M and I enjoyed this classic (and so easy!) margarita recipe on National Margarita Day (February 22nd).

Pure Girly Pleasure . . .
I'm always on the lookout for a good make-up tutorial to achieve a Kate Middleton/Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge look.  This one won big points from me for achieving Kate's cool, smoky eye without going too smoky (as many do).  The natural pink lip is also spot on (and uses a very-affordable Rimmel lipstick!).

If you love Downton Abbey like I do, you MUST see Michelle Dockery's {spoof} new series preview on Funny or Die!

For the Kiddos' Pleasure . . .
We've started planning a playroom for our as-yet-nonexistent new house.  I love this wall decorating idea from Anne at Modern Mrs. Darcy. I'm also in love with the idea of a tent/nest/book nook like this one or this one.

I've been ogling Olliblocks for months and months and haven't gotten my act together enough to purchase the materials to make a set for Moose and Mouse.  Happily, they've recently come out with four pre-made block sets called Mixmates!  I ordered the Animals and Careers sets to surprise Moose and Mouse on a plane trip we're taking in April.

Disclosure: The Amazon links contained in this post are affiliate links.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Five Minute Paleo Buffalo Chicken Salad

Our backyard in snow ~ February 13, 2014
With the next wave of the Polar Vortex due to hit this week, I thought I'd share a recipe that kept me warm on the inside during the last wave.

If you hadn't figured it out from my wingapalooza a few weeks ago, I adore buffalo chicken! I also love chicken salad (and since my Whole 30 adventure, I don't feel nearly as guilty about making it a frequent feature at lunchtime).  I threw together this easy peasy Five Minute Paleo Buffalo Chicken Salad while snowed/iced in at home.
Ingredients- 1/2lb cooked chicken, shredded or chopped
- 1/4c Paleo mayo (or regular mayo if you're not Paleo-inclined)
- 1Tbsp Franks Red Sauce (or your favorite hot pepper sauce), or adjust to your tastes
- 2 stalks celery, diced
- 1 green onion, chopped  
Mix all ingredients together and enjoy!  Whether this makes one or two servings depends on what the rest of your meal looks like.  When I eat this over salad greens, this makes one serving.  However, accompanied by some heartier vegetables, this could easily feed two. 
What's your favorite way to make chicken salad?

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Whole 30 Wrap-Up

Today marks a week since the 30th day of my Whole 30.  If I had written this post last Wednesday, the big bold headline would have been I LOST 13.6 POUNDS!  But having had the opportunity to ponder the other aspects of my Whole 30 experience, I've achieved so much more than just weight loss.

There is a whole list over at of possible benefits a graduate of the Whole 30 may have seen (174,203, to be exact).  Of all of these, here are my highlights:

  • Yes: amazing weight loss! To be fair, weight loss was one of the biggest reasons I decided to tackle the Whole 30.  As I've shared before, due to a foot injury, my ability to exercise declined dramatically in 2013 and although I still ate fairly "healthy", the number on the scale caught up to me.  Although I'm rehabbing my foot (successfully but slowly), the intensity level of my workouts is still lower than I'd like it to be.  This makes the weight loss even more amazing: I did not have to kill myself with crazy workouts to see these results.  Moreover, if Daddy M is to be believed, the weight fell off all the "right" places.  Unlike other rapid weight loss experiences I've had in the past, based on how I look and how clothes fit, it appears that the weight loss was actual fat loss!
  • Healthier skin and nails.  Another major motivator for me was the desire to improve my skin.  I continually battle adult acne - particularly around my jawline and chin.  Although my skin is not 100% clear as I write this overall, I've noticed clearer skin. Furthermore, my nails are rock solid (despite the total absence of dairy over the last month)! 
  • I've kicked the cravings! This is the BIG one.  The biggest surprise.  The most amazing change. The change with lasting, sustaining potential! I'm not craving the "junk" - even the "healthy junk".  When Day 31 came, I didn't want to go crazy.  I started the day with this Paleo-friendly smoothie from Danielle Walker of Against All Grain (the only non-Whole 30 ingredient was a touch of honey).  Then I made a tweaked, Whole 30-compliant version of this sweet potato tuna salad (using Paleo mayo in place of the hummus) from Brittany Mullins of Eating Bird Food.  In the days that followed, the non-Whole 30 foods I did try didn't tantalize me or suck me in to falling off the wagon.  

So where to go from here? My current plan is to keep going! I'm going to relax the sugar restrictions a bit (a touch of honey or natural sweetener here or there).  I plan to let myself do some occasional dietary "off-roading" for special events.  One thing is sure: I have no desire to go back to the way things were!  Fortunately for me (and my family), Daddy M and the kids have LOVED the recipes I tried out during my Whole 30 (if you missed them and area looking for some foodspiration, here are my recaps for Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, and Week 4).  I'm looking forward to continuing to explore new recipes, as well as evaluate how I can modify some of our favorite recipes to make them work with this new nutritional focus.

Thanks so much for letting me share! Have you completed a Whole 30? What surprised you the most?

Friday, February 7, 2014

Fitness Friday: Music to Move You (Home Edition)

(A 30 min. YouTube playlist I created to work out to - some pop, some alternative, a little rap, and a lot of beat!)

Having a goal is a great way to kickstart an exercise program: an upcoming wedding or vacation, the desire to lose a few pounds, or a race you're doing with a friend in a few month's time.  But how do you get motivated to actually tackle that workout on a daily basis when the alarm goes off at 5 a.m. or you drag yourself through the front door at the end of a long day?


The best classes I've taken and videos I own have awesome music!  But there are times that you want or need to supply your own grooves - maybe you're running on the treadmill or doing a routine from a printable, magazine, or book.  There are a lot of great FREE or low cost resources to find yourself some music to move to, and today we're going to talk about using music resources you can access so long as you have a browser nearby (a laptop, home theater computer, or browser on a tablet) while you're getting your sweat on.

If you're simply looking for music to get you out of the gate, pick something you like with a good beat and go for it! The above is a YouTube playlist (exactly 30 min. in duration) that I put together somewhere late in my 2011 P90X journey when I got tired of the repeat banter in the videos.  I've also created a couple Pandora stations that I enjoy when I'm working out.  This one (originally based on Britney Spears but tweaked over time) is the one I like to listen to while I'm doing one of my favorite Blogilates HIIT printable workouts.  Both of these options do have the downside of the occasional ad, but I use it as an excuse for a water break.      

If you're looking for a little guidance, some fitness instructors with an online presence put out a playlist.  For example, the Tone it Up gals put out a Love Your Body Playlist in January (which plays through a free spotify account; there are a few additional songs in the playlist that require a paid account).  I used to subscribe to the Pure Barre newsletter (when my feet used to allow me to do barre workouts) and they sent a recommended playlist each month which could be purchased through your preferred mp3 outlet.  If you're out in left field when it comes to picking music for your workout, some curated tunes can be a great investment.

If you want to get really technical, some music services with a fitness focus have playlists available by the BPM (or beats per minute) of the music and can tell you which is better depending on the type of activity you're planning: cardio, running, weight training, etc.  I recently discovered Motion Traxx and they have a ton of FREE playlists searchable by music genre, BPM, and type of activity.

I'm testing out some music app options for an upcoming Mobile Edition to this subject, but in the meantime what's your favorite way to add music to your workout and keep it fresh?

Monday, February 3, 2014

Whole 30: Week 4 - The Home Stretch & Adventures With Wings

The home stretch!  The snow and ice storm of doom that hit Atlanta on Tuesday made a mess of a lot of my meal plans.  Thankfully, I've learned over the last few weeks to keep some spare cooked chicken breast and veggies around and my ability to make pinch hit, hodge-podge meals has improved dramatically!


This week's egg cups used prosciutto and sun-dried tomato - a nice shake-up!


With three extra lunches snow/iced in at home, lunches were mostly hodge-podge.


We started the week with chicken "Parmesan", breaded with almond meal.  Daddy M and I both loved it, but the breading was much too peppery for Moose and Mouse.  I substituted chicken broth for the wine in the sauce, and it still had great flavor.  We had ours with steamed zucchini one day, and the leftovers with sauteed zucchini, just to keep things interesting.

I pulled out a favorite South Beach recipe for Marinated London Broil and substituted red wine vinegar in lieu of the wine in the marinade.  We made it a real comfort meal with baked sweet potatoes - I've been using this method from the Eating Bird Food blog to make a big batch of sweet spuds each week and it works perfectly every time!

Wing-a-palooza! One of the things I've missed most about my usual Saturday "cheat day" while I've been on the Whole 30 is wings.  So on Saturday, inspired by Danielle Walker's new recipe over at Against All Grain, I decided to try my hand at making my own.  All told, I made four flavors: ranch (for Daddy M, using packaged ranch seasoning), lemon pepper, Danielle's Buffalo, and a "dry rub" of my own concoction (see below).
Paleo Dry Rub Wings
2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/4 tsp salt (sea salt or kosher)
1/4 tsp ground pepper
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
6-12 Chicken wings (1/2 to 1lb), drumlettes and flats separated, skin on
Preheat oven to 400F and prepare a cookie sheet with a wire cooling rack over top.  Mix first six ingredients together in a prep bowl or small bowl.  Toss wings with mixture (in a larger mixing bowl or zip-top baggie) and space evenly on prepared pan.  Bake for 40 minutes, pausing to flip the wings over after 20 minutes. These are mild enough to eat without any ranch dressing but still flavorful.
I made my own ranch using this recipe but Danielle's dressing mixing proportions (1/2 instead of 1/3c of Paleo mayo).  All in all, it was a delicious, guilt-free treat!  That said, I spent about 4 hours in the kitchen. Next time I'll stick to one or two flavors to cut down both prep and clean-up time.  I was so disappointed that I forgot to take a picture of all my hard work, but by the time I remembered, all that was left to show were bones . . .

Finally, this is how I survived the Super Bowl party we attended on Sunday:
Yes, I totally missed not having an Irish Car Bomb with the rest of the wives.  I did treat myself with a few spoonfuls of coconut milk when I got home as a reward.

What food(s) do you miss the most when you're eating clean?

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Introducing FOTM: Foundation of the Month

Until last year, I was a devout Bare Minerals user.  However, I reached a point where I found myself wanting a little more coverage and, after years off the foundation market, started the hunt for the perfect foundation.

The road was rocky to say the least.  I fell in love with the Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Even-Finish foundation, but I couldn't maintain the $48 price tag on a consistent basis.

I bought, tried, kept some, tossed several YouTube-recommended drugstore foundations, and at some point it dawned on my OCD self that I was not being very organized about my experimenting.  Different days can be different, different primers, different finishing powders can all impact the end result.  So to be fair to each, I thought I would spend 2014 really trying out 12 well-researched foundations for a month apiece.

I am allowing a lifeline - if I truly discovered I hated one of the foundations, or had a rushed morning where I didn't want to pay as close attention to application, I could default to the Cover Girl Outlast Stay Fabulous that was the unofficial "winner" of my very disorganized 2013 testing.

My goals/parameters for an "ideal" foundation are that it be long-wearing (especially on my peskily oily chin) but not break out my oily skin.  It must not be too fussy to apply.  And it must come in under $40.

January's Foundation: Revlon ColorStay

I wore this the first day with no primer and was already impressed.  The second day, I wore it with MAC primer over my t-zone, and was really impressed.  I played around with application throughout the month and had the best results with a beauty sponge (I use the Sonia Kashuk one from Target).  I also played around with different finishing powders and had the best results with my Rimmel Stay Matte powder.

I had one or two days where it oxidized in a random spot, but overall the coverage and color were consistent and, most importantly, it lasted!  I found myself checking the mirror less frequently as I dashed out the door to lunch or into a client meeting.  Coverage like that for a $9.99 price tag can't be beat (I got mine at Target)!  

Overall, I only had two major gripes:

First, the difficulty in removing this foundation is a bit hard to get past. The first day I used my usual Michael Todd True Organics face wash on my Clarisonic, and it very nearly killed that brush.  Moreover, I had to use several rounds of toner to finish the job.  Thereafter, I prewashed with LUSH Fresh Farmacy and followed with my MTTO cleanser (with Clarisonic) and a quick swipe of toner.  In the long run, no breakouts.  However, I found myself dreading my evening routine as the month wore on and even opted to wear my fallback foundation a few days at the office when I didn't have as many client meetings.  On the day it snowed in ATL and it took Daddy M 10.5 hours to get home (after walking the last 8 miles!), I completely forgot to wash by the time we fell into bed, and paid for it with a few spots the next day.

Second, the packaging.  This foundation comes in a traditional glass bottle that you have to tip out onto your finger.  I had many a day where I took too much or two little.  I guess I've gotten spoiled by pumps and tubes, and the return to the mess and imprecision of the bottle was unwelcome.

I would definitely purchase this foundation again, but in the future I expect I will use it on days when I know I need my look to last longer or have a special event.

Overall grade: B+