Thursday, May 21, 2015

my weight loss toolbox: active living // guest post!

This is another special, guest post by my friend (and sister ;) Jasmine. I invited her to share tips for maintaining an active lifestyle. (See her first guest post: 12 Dates // Valentine's Day or Anniversary Gift Idea here; her second: 8 1/2 x 11" Pocket Scrapbook Idea here; and her third: Making Time to Craft here).

You may be surprised to find out that I am passionate about more than crafting- *gasp.* ;) It’s true! I am interested in a variety of things, so I was really excited when Jessica suggested I write a guest post about fitness. I have not always been passionate about fitness and up until a few years ago I had never made an effort to work out… ever. I had never really been taught how to live a “balanced” lifestyle nor did I consider it all that important growing up. This lack of knowledge coupled with the stress of starting college and other young adult crises really took a negative toll on my health. My sisters and I all started to take our health more seriously at around the same time and Jessica had asked me to start an at-home workout video with her (doesn't she always have the best ideas ;). [Oh, go on... ;)] Before we knew it, we were shedding off the weight and were really motivated to not only keep it off but to learn more about how to create and maintain a healthy lifestyle. After losing a significant amount of weight (collectively we lost about 100 lbs!), we joined Weight Watchers, which not only reinforced the healthy choices we were making, but also gave us the additional tools we were searching for. I really enjoy Weight Watchers because I believe it has a realistic philosophy in regards to leading an active and healthy life.
my weight loss toolbox: active living With all of that said and all that I've learned and the progress I have made, I still struggle with maintaining a healthy life style (like the phrase suggests, it requires a lot of maintenance!) I especially had a hard time staying active when I starting working. Spending most of the day sitting at a desk isn't conducive to an active lifestyle, so I thought I would share the tips I have learned for staying active at a desk job (though these tips can be applied to trying to increase your activity in general).

1. The little things add up

I work in a multi level office building so I always make it a point to walk up and down the stairs to my office on the second floor. I avoid the elevator at all costs and sometimes even take the back entrance to the building if I want to get a little extra walking in.

2. Look for opportunities to be active

Along the same lines, you have to be intentional if you want to increase your activity at a job that’s mostly sedentary. I use the bathroom on the third floor even though there is a bathroom right next door because I am a firm believer that the little things add up. I also make it a point to run my own errands to the other departments on campus even though it’s technically not in my job description and I avoid using the office golf cart to make these deliveries (could they make it any easier to stay immobile all day??).

3. Track your activity

There are a number of ways to track your activity and countless fitness monitors on the market to choose from, but I'm partial to the Active Link. ;) [Read more about the Active Link here.] I like that you can set challenges for yourself every 3 months and that it gradually increases the amount of activity you should be doing from week to week. Not reaching your goal? Adjust it to a more manageable one or vice versa. Am I sounding like a Weight Watchers spokesperson yet?? ;) Seriously. However you choose to track your movement, I think it’s so important! I am constantly searching for ways to reach my activity goal and find myself running in place at night just to make sure I reach it. It’s so motivating.

4. Be prepared

I think one of the most important elements of staying active is being proactive and removing any excuses- searching for ways to overcome any potential obstacles. One of my obstacles is having to wear heels for work. It’s hard enough to walk in those things let along trudge my way across campus in them. I have found that I am drastically more active when I carry flip flops in my purse. Not only am I more willing to volunteer to go on errands, but I also enjoy more active recreational activities during my lunch and throughout the day. Rather than sitting and playing with my iPad during lunch, I will plug in my headphones, turn on a podcast that I've been meaning to get around to, and enjoy a nice walk for 45 minutes. I see the evidence of my activity when I plug in my Active Link and I have accomplished my goal sooner than usual. It is so motivating! my weight loss toolbox: active living You know what else is motivating? This adorable gym bag that Jessica gave me for my birthday! [This is how we celebrated Jasmine's birthday this year.] She filled it with a mint glass water bottle I had been eying, dry shampoo, an eos lip balm, and face wipes (I had been complaining about my makeup getting into my eyes and blinding me halfway through my workout). So thoughtful; so cute. Now I have absolutely no excuse to not want to go to the gym. ;)

Thank you, Jasmine! 

Keep up with Jasmine on Instagram. :)

Read more about my Weight Loss Toolbox here

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

workspace wednesday / "sunday afternoon" paper bag album

Friendly reminder that today is the last day to receive 10% off in my etsy shop with the code BLOG10. :) Pick up recently listed retired acrylic and rubber stamp sets and artistic kits here.

Earlier this week, I had a pretty collection of paper and embellishments on my work space for a paper bag album my girls and I were making:
workspace wednesday / "sunday afternoon" paper bag album
We went to a birthday party at the beginning of a week for Evie's best friend. The theme of the party was "Cupcake Wars." It was too cute! There were 4 groups with a couple kids in each group. They were to bake cupcakes and then decorate them for judging.
workspace wednesday / "sunday afternoon" paper bag album
I repeat: it was too cute!
workspace wednesday / "sunday afternoon" paper bag album
My girls came home with aprons and a cupcake in a take home box. Did I mention it was all too cute already or no? ;)
workspace wednesday / "sunday afternoon" paper bag album
Oh my gosh, my little nine year old self would've died. ;)

Anyway, my girls and I decided to make a paper bag album for the birthday girl.
workspace wednesday / "sunday afternoon" paper bag album
We made this album upright (I didn't fold the paper bags for this one). The size of the album was 6x12." We didn't seal the top of the paper bags, so little notes or extra pictures could be tucked in. We used binder clips to put the album together. There are many ways to bind an album. Check out two of my paper bag album tutorials: here and here.

This is the front and back cover of the book:
workspace wednesday / "sunday afternoon" paper bag album
We used DCWV's now retired "Sunday Afternoon" paper stack. I. love. this. paper. To embellish the album, we used paper clips and buttons- nothing too fussy this time.

This is the first layout of the book:
workspace wednesday / "sunday afternoon" paper bag album
Hearts, clouds, bicycles, kites, airplanes, happy messages. I just can't even.

This is the second layout of the book:
workspace wednesday / "sunday afternoon" paper bag album

This is the third layout of the book:
workspace wednesday / "sunday afternoon" paper bag album

This is the fourth layout of the book:
workspace wednesday / "sunday afternoon" paper bag album

... and this is the fifth and final layout of the book:
workspace wednesday / "sunday afternoon" paper bag album

We made the photo mats 4x6" (standard photo size). The pictures could be slightly trimmed to fit in the photo mats.

It's been too long since I've made a paper bag album. They're such fun, tiny projects.
workspace wednesday / "sunday afternoon" paper bag album

See more paper bag albums here.
See more Pretty Parties I've hosted (or attended!) here.
See more Workspace Wednesday posts here.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

greek yogurt 52 ways: #15 cool lime pretzel squares

I randomly got a craving for a pretzel-crusted dessert the other day (not pregnant. ;) I thought to search for desserts with both Greek yogurt and pretzels. I came across this pin, in which the caption said "I think I may try it with Greek yogurt instead of sour cream." Good idea! The pin was for this cool lime pretzel squares recipe on Kraft's site.
greek yogurt 52 ways: no. 15 cool lime pretzel squares
To make this dessert, preheat your oven to 350*. Mix 2 c of finely crushed pretzels, 1/2 c of butter, and 1/4 c of sugar. Press to the bottom of a 13x9" dish. Bake for 10 minutes and allow it to cool. Add 1 cup of boiling water to lime gelatin (6 oz.) until the gelatin dissolves. Blend 14 oz. of sweetened, condensed milk and 1 cup of Greek yogurt. Add gelatin and blend well. Finally pour the mixture over the crust slowly. Refrigerate for 2 hours or until it's firm. Finally, garnish with whipped cream.
greek yogurt 52 ways: no. 15 cool lime pretzel squares
Jesse, who doesn't  like any yogurt, really liked this recipe. I thought it was really good, as well. I did think the pretzels were slightly too salty, which is weird coming from me- I tend to like salty foods. Overall though, it was a good one. I'll be repeating this dessert with other jello flavors and possibly other crusts.
greek yogurt 52 ways: no. 15 cool lime pretzel squares
Have any Greek yogurt, dessert recipes you'd like to share? Leave your recipes or links in the comments. :)

If you try a recipe I share, be sure to let me know! Use the hashtag: #greekyogurt52ways.

**This year I'm making Greek yogurt 52 ways. Read about why I'm doing this project right here and read about the health benefits of Greek yogurt right here. See all of the ways I've incorporated Greek yogurt into my dessert or breakfast so far here. I recently completed a 52 sandwiches project. Read more about that project here.**

Monday, May 18, 2015

mickey / minnie mouse / breakfast & a movie for dinner party

It was my sister Jasmine's birthday yesterday. When we asked her what she wanted to do to celebrate, she said she wanted to have a low-key birthday of watching a movie and having breakfast for dinner. My sister Jennifer suggested we decorate simply but in one of Jasmine's favorite themes. Jasmine is a fan of Mickey and Minnie Mouse- especially the vintage characters. Jennifer suggested that we add a few fun details to celebrate for Jasmine's birthday.
mickey / minnie mouse / breakfast & a movie for dinner party
We hung red, black, and white lanterns (see here); added a focal wall using coordinating black, red, and Minnie Mouse patterned paper; had my dad arrange a couple bouquets of red and white roses (he used to be a florist); had Oscar draw a portrait of Mickey and Minnie; made a donut cake using several red and black frosted donuts; and decorated some plastic cups with Mickey Mouse silhouettes.
mickey / minnie mouse / breakfast & a movie for dinner party
A few, simple details can really add to a celebration.
mickey / minnie mouse / breakfast & a movie for dinner party
mickey / minnie mouse / breakfast & a movie for dinner party
We had breakfast for dinner as Jasmine wanted. Jasmine's husband Oscar bought this Mickey Mouse waffle maker. (So cute). We had your typical breakfast: waffles, scrambled eggs, links, tater tots, French toast kabobs, fruit, and orange juice. (Jasmine shared a picture on Instagram here).
Afterwards, we watched a family favorite Mrs. Doubtfire. Jennifer made these sour candy bags as party favors for us to enjoy during the movie. The entire party was mostly Jennifer's idea with Oscar and me helping here and there. ;)
mickey / minnie mouse / breakfast & a movie for dinner party
It was fun (and cute. :)

See more Pretty Parties I've hosted (or attended!) here.

Friday, May 15, 2015

five on friday

Happy Friday! (or Friyay! as I've been hearing it said lately. :) My girls didn't have school today, so I slept for an extra hour. Did you hear the heavens open and reverberate with angelic singing?? My regular alarms went off and it was so nice to turn them off- "Won't be needing your services today. Thank you!"

I had pictures from my Greek yogurt 52 ways project printed to put on my fridge.
five on friday // printing my greek yogurt 52 ways recipes for my fridge
I'm putting them on my fridge because I read that "low calorie food pics or photos can have a beneficial effect in keeping us on track when we get those awful cravings. They help to remind us of our weight loss goals." I shared the link to the article a few weeks ago here- it was 40 Weight Loss Tips Backed By Science by Robert Locke.
five on friday // printing my greek yogurt 52 ways recipes for my fridge

Anyway! I came across 5 links this week that I'd like to share:

1. Jackie from Love Jac shared Introducing: Inkable Envelope Stamp. Though many companies make these types of stamps, Jackie's are unique. The "Handle with..." stamp and "#happymail" stamps are cute. I can see myself using those often. I'm standing in line to order my set!

2. I've been following Miriam Rodriguez on Instagram for a while. I enjoy getting glimpses into her pretty craft space. This week she shared her entire work space on the Studio Calico blog. Miriam says her favorite items in her space include the desk and paper organizer her husband made for her. Those are my favorite, too.

3. You had me at "lists:" 8 Lists To Keep If You Want To Be Successful by Casey Imafidon and also related to success: 10 Things Early Birds Do that Make Them More Likely To Be Successful by Amy Johnson.

4. Really. I like helpful lists: 20 1-Minute Habits That Will Make Your Day Better by Sarah Lipoff.   I'm happily already doing #2 "Create a to-do list for the day," #3 "Write down daily goals," and #9 "Take one minute to do something you love." For my evening routine, I have been trying to review my accomplishments for the day. I'm thinking I might try #18 on the list instead: "Write down five things you did today that made you feel good."

5. I know very little about photography, and try to learn where I can. I appreciate posts that are easy for a novice to understand. (Sometimes, I'm like "Aperture- what??!") I was intrigued by this post (and understood most of it!): What are Catchlights? by Janae Hardy.

Hope you have a good one!! :)

Read more Five on Friday posts here.