Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Peacock Birthday Fun!

All Night Long (All Night) by Lionel Richie on Grooveshark
I celebrated my birthday this month and because I love peacocks, I made it a peacock themed birthday. If you look up at my blog header there's peacocks on her dress, my pink Christmas tree has a peacock on it, so naturally I had a peacock feather on my birthday cake and had a peacock design on my nails.
One thing birthdays will show you is who your real friends are by who wanted to come out and celebrate with you. I'm really grateful for all the wonderful friends I have.



My cake had a peacock feather on the other side and one of my balloons also had a peacock on it. My birthday gifts included a Kindle Paperwhite and the Naked Palette which my friend came over before my birthday to help me apply.

If you have a Noodles & Co  sign up for their email list, they will send you a coupon for a free bowl the month of your birthday! I've never had the pasta bowls, just the Japanese Pan Noodles and the Indonesian Peanut Sauté. Both are delicious and I have them add tofu to it! Their tofu is made just perfectly! I like how they have the calorie count on their menu so I always get the small size bowl and while it may look too small, with the tofu, I feel full 10 minutes after I eat but overly stuffed.


Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Medicine Cabinet Makeover

So Fresh, So Clean by OutKast on Grooveshark


One of the shelves in my medicine cabinet broke in half and everything fell out. I guess I saw it coming, the crack in the middle had been in there a long time and I had too much stuff in there. So now I'm stuck with just two shelves and it brought to my attention how ugly I thought the plastic shelves looked to begin with. I went to Home Depot to see if the could cut glass shelves for me but strangely on a Sunday no one was working in the Kitchen department. I tried Ace Hardware but the solutions they gave me just weren't pretty. So for now I'm stuck with just two shelves and it gave me the opportunity to really organize my medicine cabinet and simplify what I keep in there.









I decided to make the inside of the cabinet adorable by adding a pretty purple quatrefoil print to the back of the wall to match my purple towels. The snowflake in the plug is a wallflower that makes the bathroom smell so amazing! The scent is a mix of sweet bamboo, lush jasmine and wild grasses.


Then I took it up a notch and added chalkboard to the back of the door. If you saw my winter bucketlist then you know I have a thing for chalkboards. The neat thing about it is I don't have to use messy chalk to write on it, you can now buy chalk pens! It wipes clean with a wet washcloth. On it I wrote the words to the Outkast song "So Fresh, So Clean" that you can listen to at the top of this post.  Then I bought a drawer to hold all my safety pins, bobby pins and cotton balls which always created a mess inside my cabinet. It gave me more space to put more things on the top shelf. Now everyday I love looking inside my medicine cabinet, it's so pretty it always makes me smile!
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Friday, January 17, 2014

Friday Fashion Find

New Year, new shoes, new pants! These are now my new favorite workout pants because they have a pretty black rose print on them!
Fitness



Since I changed jobs my new office is located near a yoga studio so I'm taking advantage of their new student special - unlimited classes for the first month. I'm going 5 days a week after work because I find that yoga helps me sleep better, it really tones my abs, builds strength in my arms, increases my flexibility and gives my body a long stretch after my tough workouts. I'm still doing my workout videos in the morning and walking on the treadmill at lunchtime since it's too cold to do my outdoor daily lunch
walk.
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Thursday, January 16, 2014

Nike Lunareclipse review


I buy new shoes every January and it's always a hard process because I like them to be stylish and
sometimes there's not shoes out in colors I like. Since half my workout wardrobe is purple I naturally like to buy purple shoes. I've been a loyal Nike wearer since college but I also need shoes that give my feet stability so I bought Nike Lunareclipse+ 3 which has the following features:
  • Ultra-lightweight Flywire Technology wraps the midfoot for a dynamic, glove-like fit
  • Carved-out TPU heel support clip activates with pressure at heel strike to increase stability and comfort
  • Lunarlon cushioning for reduced weight and enhanced flexibility
Notice the laces are off center, its built for the mild to moderate overpronator who requires enhanced cushioning and support. It has a removable insole which I switched out for a superfeet insole which my podiatrist recommended for me.  If you workout at the gym, gyms put springs/cushioning underneath their floors. So if you're working out at home with videos you want to have a proper surface to workout. I discovered this the hard way. It's definitely key to your foot health to cushion them during jumps, burpees, and planks. I also use this jumpmat and I immediately felt the difference in how my feet feel afterwards. I'd say the mat helped 85% and the insole the other 15% with no foot pain afterwards.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Vitamin D - the Sunshine Vitamin


Why is vitamin D important? It helps your body to absorb calcium and to keep your bones strong. So you can eat all the calcium you want, but without vitamin D present you won’t receive any of the benefits of it. That’s why you’ll see cow and soy milk fortified with vitamin D. Did you know that most of the industrialized world is vitamin D deficient? It’s because we spend less time outdoors. Especially those living in cold climates like Canadians or northern USA.

Serotonin, the hormone that signals your brain to feel happy, is stimulated by sunlight. You might have heard of SAD or seasonal affective disorder a type of depression that affects people in the winter months due to lack of sunlight. That's why many people in colder climates like Russia have special indoor light therapy lamps to combat that. Vitamin D is a good choice supplement choice to raise your spirits.

Vitamin D activates your immune defenses which improves your immunity and lowers your risk of many diseases.  So without enough vitamin D in your body, your immune system has a difficult time fighting infections such as the cold and flu. Vitamin D is critical to the normal functioning of every organ in the body. Low levels of vitamin D have been linked to increased health problems such as heart disease, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease and depression. Gwyneth Paltrow said that she had a severe vitamin D deficiency and as a result her bones were thinning. She was prescribed high dose vitamin D and told to spend more time in the sun.

Vitamin D is in very few foods: salmon, swordfish, and small amounts in eggs and a number of fortified products.  The pill form of Vitamin D comes in two forms: D2 (from irradiated mushrooms ) and D3 (from sheep wool). The third source of Vitamin D is the sun.

When you get your annual exam make sure your doctor tests you for a Vitamin D deficiency. It’s a good thing to know, I found out I was a little low. I used to take a dozen vitamins a day, but when I discovered Shakeology I stopped taking them because Shakeology had all of those ingredients in it. You can see the picture and story here. But in the winter time Vitamin D is the one supplement I still take. Vitamins are not made equally, I buy Vitamin Code because they have no binders or fillers and is a high quality vitamin.


Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Why you should have a humidifier at home


In the winter time your windows are closed and your heating system makes the air dryer, which in turn causes nasal congestion, dry skin, chapped lips, and dry throat which can make you more likely to get a cold or the flu. Also check out my post how to prevent getting sick. The moisture that humidifiers give help to alleviate that as well as static electricity and peeling wallpaper. I know the humidity is low when I walk in my carpeted bedroom and constantly get shocked when I hit the light switch. Also adding humidity to your air makes your home feel warmer so you don't need the heat on as high, thus lowering your heat bill.

I read in Allure magazine that Consumer Reports had ranked Crane as the best humidifier for a small room. Let me tell you I've been in the market for one since last winter but couldn't decide on a model, I was so overwhelmed. I got this humidifier from Amazon which mid-December was on sale for $40 score! I had the hardest time deciding on a color since my bedroom is dark purple, but ended up with the blue and white one. They have also have children designs that look like animals.  It's operates quietly and is easy to use, there's no water mess on the floor or wet mist over nearby furniture. 

I know it's working because I no longer have winter time stuffy nose in the morning from the dry air from indoor heating. And I have a humidity monitor that tells me the humidity has gone up 10-20% in the room (depending if the door is open or closed). The reason I bought this monitor is because in the summertime the humidity is so bad it erodes the batteries in the programmable thermostat on the wall which prevents me from turning on the a/c, obviously that's a huge problem so the monitor allows me to monitor the levels at home so I can make adjustments to the temperature.

Back to the humidifier, you have to care for this appliance carefully for it to work properly, which I think the people who wrote the negative reviews did not. The instructions tell you to keep it at medium level (not sure why there is a high level), to change the water daily and use filtered water if your city has hard water so I only use water from my Brita filter. It also says to empty the water in the basin daily and to clean it weekly with vinegar so it will operate smoothly. Dirty humidifiers breed mold and bacteria.

It has an auto-shut off when it runs out of water. However the on light stays on while I'm sleeping and gives my room a night light.  Expect to refill this daily.  Another healthy winter tip which I follow:
We shed millions of skin cells every single night when we go to bed. These cells build up and cause problems with our breathing including stuffy nose. Make sure that you wash the linens on the beds in your home regularly, especially during the winter months when the air is dry. The dry air causes the skin to become more dry and this means more cells are flaking off at night in bed. Bed linens should be washed in hot water at least one time every week. This will help to prevent a stuffy nose before it starts.

For dry skin check out my review of Trader Joe's Coconut Body Butter and for my face I've been really happy with the Collagen Lift Moisturizer I've started using this nourishing cream this winter to keep my skin hydrated from indoor heat and outdoor cold and wind. It has Encapsulated Retinol which helps increase skin's natural cell turnover and promotes collagen production.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Favorite Magazines

Do you have a favorite magazine that you read? Mine is Allure and Oprah and I save them to take with me when I go to the hairdresser to read. I love that fact that Allure comes with a page of stickers that I can peel and use as bookmarks to flag pages in the magazine that interests me to return back to. Just from December edition of Allure magazine I got tips on wear a new shade of Essie nail polish I coincidentally just bought! Saw some eyeshadow palettes I just had to have and lotion recommendations for the winter. It's just a great learning tool for someone addicted to buying beauty products and learning new things related to them.

I just happened to have the nail polish color features so I copied their design on my nails.

I was going to subscribe to the digital version as well (which is not free even though they make you think it is until after you download it) however the reviews say it has a lot of kinks so I'm going to hold off on that fr now. I can usually get a deal for the print version for $5 for a year.

My co-worker made a joke that he was somewhere where there was nothing to read but Oprah magazine and everyone laughed. I chimed in that it was my favorite magazine because it truly is an extension of her show. I no longer watch her show because I don't have cable but I grew up watching it for years when I was an adolescent. Her magazine gives money tips, personal development, style makeovers, book recommendations and recipes. It's really all about celebrating life and being a better you.

Oprah had an 11 page article on the benefit of Shakeology and where in the world the ingredients come from.

You can read the whole article here.



Friday, January 10, 2014

Chia Pudding Updated


I have a new Chia Pudding recipe! Here's the old one. Yes chia seeds are the same things that make those chia pets. They are rich in omega-3 fats and fiber so you'll feel full after eating them.

rich in omega-3 fats and fiber
rich in omega-3 fats and fi
The Sunday before Christmas I got up early to mail some packages at the post office before I went to church on a rainy day. I didn't have time to eat breakfast and the food court had Au Bon Pain and Le Pain Quotidien. Since I'm not familiar with the latter I went to ABP and stood in the longest line and the whole time I'm thinking how unhealthy it is for me to get a bagel with cream cheese, it's a lot of empty calories. I know they have healthy egg white sandwiches but I only eat organic free range eggs, have been since high school, so I couldn't get that.

Then I remembered an article I had read online recently saying that surprisingly a buttery croissant is actually a better option than a bagel with cream cheese so I thought I'll go over to Le Pain Quotidien and get that. While I was in line there I happened to see in their dessert section Chia Coconut Pudding topped with mango. It was the most delicious thing I have ever had! It was because they used full fat coconut milk and a lot of agave nectar. So I've been making my own healthy version of it at home that still tastes good. This is my new breakfast!

I only used half the coconut and substituted the rest with low fat greek yogurt. Then I made my own topping with pureed fruit, much healthier than buying yogurt with fruit on the top. For my first batch I pureed 3 kiwis and that was enough for 2 servings.  Did you know that kiwi has more potassium than a banana, one kiwi has more Vitamin C than an orange, contains tons of fiber, and enhances energy levels too. Kiwis are my mother's favorite fruit and as a puree I can really appreciate how delicious the flavor is! For my second batch I used pomegranate seeds mixed with raspberries. For both batches I sprinkled a little zsweet artificial sugar on it.

Ingredients:
½  cup Trader Joe's Coconut Cream Extra Thick&Rich
3 Tbsp  Trader Joe's Chia Seeds
1 Tbsp Trader Joe's Organic Blue Agave Sweetener
½  cup 365 Whole Foods Greek Yogurt 0%
½ tsp vanilla
sprinkle of cardamom and ginger (optional)

Directions:
Mix the chia seeds with the coconut cream. Then add the rest of the ingredients. Refrigerate overnight so the seeds can expand.

Nutritional Analysis
Makes 2 servings
303 cal, 12g protein, 10g fiber



Thursday, January 9, 2014

Thai Black Pepper and Garlic Tofu

I got this recipe from the Fat Free Vegan. You can use whatever vegetables you have on hand, I used kale, orange bell peppers and asparagus. This takes a bit of prep work with the tofu, but it's worth the results. The sauce made the kale absolutely delicious.I know my plate looks full, but there's only 1/3 cup of cooked quinoa underneath it, but a ton of kale on top. It made three servings for me so I had leftovers for lunch at work.





Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Thai Peanut Satay

If you like peanut sauce dishes in Thai restaurant but don't want the calories, you're going to love this Clean recipe!

Ingredients:

1 package extra firmTofu
2 cups frozen Broccoli florets
1 large carrot, sliced
1 ts Crushed Chilli
1 ts Cumin
2 ts minced Garlic
1 ts Coriander
½ Onion, finely chopped
1 ½ TB Coconut Oil
Juice of half a fresh Lime
3 TB Natural Crunchy Peanut Butter
1 ts Tamari
1– 2 cups water
2 TB Coconut Sugar (optional)


Directions:
Heat fry pan, add the coconut oil, coriander, cumin, garlic and red onion and fry for about 30seconds. Add the peanut butter, chilli, lime juice, Natvia (or coconut sugar), coconut and tamari sauce and stir. This will form a paste. Gradually add the water, about 1/2 cup at a time till you get the sauce to a consistency that you like. (more water = runnier sauce) Simmer for a few minutes and turn heat off and set aside.I n another heated pan, place a little coconut oil and a little garlic. Add the tofu and brown it up. Add the vegetables and stir fry for a few minutes. I served this on top of rice.
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Monday, January 6, 2014

Edamame Corn Succotash

With the new year I know everyone wants to get a jump on their health and fitness goals. If weight loss is one of them, then you know that results come from 80% diet. This week I'm going to post some healthy new recipes for you to try.

Ingredients:
¼ cup frozen Edamame (no shells) ½ cup canned Corn
½ Orange Bell Pepper (diced)
½ cup Onion
¼ Tbsp. Rice Vinegar
half of a Lime juiced

Directions:
Bring water to a boil, and cook the edamame for 5-7 minutes.  Drain & set aside.
Saute onion and red pepper in oil for 10 minutes or until soft.
Add corn and edamame to onion mixture; cook on medium for 5 minutes.
Add vinegar and remove from heat. Top with lime juice.

Makes 3 servings

This recipe is from the Ultimate Reset which is a three phase, 21 day program of an all-natural alternative to harsh "cleanses" and starvation diets that returns your body to optimal health. The Reset lets you have real food, 6 specially formulated supplements, and tea to help return your metabolism to optimal function.I brought this to work for lunch by adding a half of a vegan roast.






Friday, January 3, 2014

Closet Organization: Boot Fillers


Now that I have a new shoe closet, I stumbled upon a new problem (first world problems lol). My boots aren't standing up, they're slumped over! And well it's not a good look at all. lol  Since everything is exposed in this closet I wanted to make it look nice and polished.

I googled this problem and found a couple DIY ideas. One was to put two paper towel tubes together and taping together with wrapped paper. I think it's ingenious, but I'm not feeling crafty right now. Plus I don't use paper towels at home and I'm not about to stalk the paper towels in the kitchen at work to see when it's almost done to take home. lol Another option I found was to use Smart Water bottles because they are tall and narrow. You cut off the top section then tape together two bottles.

I ended up going to Bed Bath and Beyond and bought these boot shapers for $8.50 with my 20% off coupon. I wish I'd known about them before, I could have prevented the years worth of creases in my boots. See how with the boot shaper inside the boot it stands up on it's own? The glitter chevron art work is what I've decided to hang at the top of my shoe closet.
Compare this pic to the first one at top. Problem solved!




Thursday, January 2, 2014

P90X3 - it's here!


I want to share with you something that I am so excited for! Beachbody just released P90X3! It's only 30 minutes a day of working out but it will give us all incredible results! I'm a big fan of short and sweet workouts as I've really enjoyed T25I'm putting together a P90X3 challenge group where you will get daily support and motivation, comment below or message me for more information on how you can be a part of this exclusive group!

I should mention that P90X3 is not the third step to P90X so it doesn't matter if you've never done P90X before. With every workout being just 30 minutes long, it's so much easier to plan for your workout and there's no room for I don't have time excuses. P90X is one of the most successful brand names in the world! Having something new to keep my focus and interest is exactly what will keep me engaged this new year!   

The base kit includes 16 workouts so you are never going to get bored. Everything from cardio to strength, pilates, yoga and MMX.

What is P90X3 about? Well many P90X fans were hooked on the science of muscle confusion – which introduced variety to the workouts and prevented plateauing. P90X3 takes a hint from that success and from studies showing the most dramatic body transformations happen within the first 30 minutes of exercise. Enter muscle acceleration, a Tony Horton-approved highly-structured schedule with an incredibly high level of intensity and an unprecedented variety of moves. The gurus behind P90X3 combined exercises and added some twists to maximize your time and keep every muscle challenged for a full 30 minutes

For the first time the P90X app is available on Android and iOS. The app includes P90X guided workouts, tools to track your reps, weights and progress. Launching soon, is the P90X3 addition – which brings you workout specific tracking modules, scheduling options and the motivation you need to power through the 90 days. There's two ways you can purchase the system, either the Challenge Pack which includes the 90 day workout, the nutrition guide, program manual, schedule of workouts, shakeology, free 30 day trial of the club membership, free shipping and a discounted price when you get the package. Or you can just purchase the program alone.  That is $119.00, and the equipment needed are weights, bands and an optional pull up bar but you can use a band with an over the door attachment if you don't have one!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

2014 | A Brand New Year Full of Possibilities

2013 was a fun year for me! I participated in my first race doing two 5Ks - Color Me Rad and Electric Run. I went to the Presidential Inauguration parade. I flew my first kite and got back into bike riding. I'm thrilled with my new shoe closet! I traveled to Panama, Spain, and Ibiza. I started a new awesome job! I've really been inspired by this book and trying to live by its principles. I stuck to my resolution of keeping a weekly yoga practice and started up again with my tennis lessons. I spent a lot of time by the pool this summer with friends. I took a painting class. I went to my first corn maize (in the pouring rain). I dressed up for my favorite holiday events - Halloween and Santarchy. I'm thankful for my health, my family and my friends. One of my most fun things I did this year that was quite the accomplishment for me has been starting this blog, not my first blog, but my most substantial blog since I've kept up blogging daily. Thank you for reading and for each and every comment, your support means a lot to me.

My church recently had guest speaker Christine Caine who is an Australian pastor from Hillsong and founder of A21 which fights modern human trafficking in Greece and other countries around the world. She shared an incredible message about making the most of your current situation instead of always looking towards the next best thing. She used the example of needing the newest and greatest iphone. Or saying you won't be happy until xyz is right in your life. It was a wonderful reminder that you should aim to be happy just as you are. So think about all the blessings you have in your life right now and take the time to be grateful for what is going good for you. Sure things may not be perfect, but your challenges are determined by the perspective in how you see them.


As you write your New Years Resolutions are you one that says "I hope my thighs are thinner, my bank account is fuller, my happiness has increased?" Well the Christmas cookies are gone and I can help you get a jump start on those healthy New Years Resolutions! 2014 will be the year we can achieve them once and for all! Everyone deserves to sparkle so I want you to Dream Big, Shine Bright, and Sparkle Louder!

Start by creating a SMART Goal (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-Sensitive) — By creating goals with end dates on them you will see your resolutions in a clear, concise way. For example, "I want to lose 10 pounds by March 2014 by eating clean and working out 5 days a week," is a lot more descriptive than just "I want to lose weight." I personally don't like calling them New Year's Resolutions because I work on them all year round, so I will say that my goal for 2014 is to stay consistent about my diet. Here's a list of the most popular New Years Resolutions in this country.

I know changing your body with fitness and disciplined eating when nobody is making you do it is hard. Everybody can succeed. But only those who have will power to work through the difficult weeks will stay with it long enough to see the rewards. The rewards are there, waiting for you!  Will you start the new year with energy and enthusiasm, or will you just stay the same? This year your body, your transformation, your success is in your hands and nobody else! No excuses.



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