My Friday Five

I am not one to do these day of the week type posts.  BUT!  Today I had a few random things to share, none of which was enough to make a post about on its own.  So I hereby present to you my Friday Five:

1.  Did you know that my husband lost thirteen pounds recently?

I am so proud of him!  He participated in Scale Back Alabama with a team from work, where their goal was to lose ten pound apiece.  And he lost thirteen by watching portion sizes and cutting out fried foods.  And of course it didn’t hurt that he was consuming the healthy dinners his wife has been making.  Ahem.  So YAY and BRAVO to my honey!  Isn’t he so cute?!

2.  I am picking back up Pinterest! 

I have left my account without much activity for so long.  But Pinterest is really a great place to draw inspiration, if I can keep my mindset in check.  So after a long break, I am giving it a go.

You can follow me here.  I will be using it to find more healthy recipes and gardening ideas for my vegetable garden.  I will NOT be using it to feel bad about my shortcomings, such as my lack of good decorating skills. Just sayin’! :)

3.  I need more Fitbit friends! 

(Side note: If you are wondering about the Fitbit, I wrote a review post here.) I am realizing just how much seeing my friends activity motivates me.  So bring on the friends!  If you are a Fitbit user, add me to your Fitbit friends with the address fitbitfriends@thehappymommyproject.com.

4.  Reconsidering my Blog Name. 

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I am tossing around the idea of re-naming/re-branding my site.  I have written here about having second thoughts about what to call this little slice of the internet.  My topics have taken a different turn than when I started.  So there’s that.

It is starting to bother me more now because I fear that it is becoming a hindrance to my readers.  I am afraid it confuses readers, especially new visitors.  Is this site just for moms? (Answer: no) Isn’t life about SO much more than just being happy? (Answer: yes)  And my posting has taken more of a healthy living theme, so I would love a site name that reflects that.

The funny thing is that probably nobody even cares but me!  Maybe I am letting it distract me too much.  I don’t have a particular name in mind, but it is just something I have been thinking about lately.

5.  Challenge #HMP100milesamonth Check In

I am playing catch up because I am behind in my own challenge!  Eeeek!  A demanding work project, plus a sick baby put a small damper on my mileage.  So I am at 48.7 miles as of April 16th.  BUT!  That is no excuse.  So I will be squeezing in steps wherever I can for the second half of April.  And I still know I can make it, even with a shorter 30 day month.  It may not be easy, but that is why it is called a challenge, right?!

It just helps me so much to have that goal.  I see the progress I make throughout the month, and it helps me know how active I have been, and it gives me something to strive for.

Already thinking ahead to May: Who is going to take the challenge with me?  (Answer: YOU!)  Join me!  It helps so much to have a goal to aim for.  Even if you do not want to commit to 100 miles, start with something.  Plus it is so fun and motivating to see everybody’s progress and posts!  And you can still use the hashtag #HMP100milesamonth to report your progress on social media, even if you are starting out smaller.  Who is with me?

 

Easy Homemade Single Serving Balsamic Vinaigrette

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Here is an easy recipe that I created to make my own balsamic vinaigrette at home.

This dressing is pretty strong and flavorful, so you don’t need a ton to get big flavor.  Balsamic vinaigrette is one of my all time favorites because it is so versatile.

The ingredient list is pretty simple, and you likely already have these items in your pantry or fridge:

  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon water
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard (spicy brown mustard will also work)
  • small drizzle of honey (about 1/4 teaspoon)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • small jar with a lid for mixing

Put all ingredients in a small jar with a lid and shake to mix.  How easy is that?!

I like making one serving at a time because it helps me to count Weight Watchers points more accurately.  If I am making a big salad, I might double this recipe and make a 2pp serving.  If you would rather make a bottle, just up the proportions.

Let me know if you try it.  It is one of my favorites!  Enjoy.

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A video tutorial for this recipe is also available here, FYI.

What I Ate Wednesday 28 – On Weight Watchers

Note: This post contains affiliate links.  All opinions are always my own.

Happy What I Ate Wednesday.  Every week I share a day of my healthy eats.  I get a lot of visitors on Wednesday, so if you are new I would encourage you to check out my page for visitors and new followers.  This just tells you a little bit about me, plus it navigates you to some of my favorite posts.

And now let’s move on to the eats, shall we?!  For breakfast I made an egg white (1pp), thin cheddar (1pp) and avocado (1pp) sandwich on light wheat (2pp).  I also had a red pear and some coffee with half and half (1pp) and sugar (1pp).

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For lunch I had some pre-made cranberry walnut chicken salad.  This is a Costco find, and I love it!  They come in single serve packs, and they are 4pp a piece.  That is really good for chicken salad!  I see that they use greek yogurt in it, which has fewer points than the traditional mayo-based chicken salads.  It is very tasty.

So anyway, I put the chicken salad on some light wasa crackers (1pp).  To go along with it, I made a huge salad with watermelon, grapes, goat cheese (1pp) and my home-made single serving balsamic vinaigrette (1pp).  I also had a few slices of cabot reduced fat cheddar (2pp).

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Post lunch I had some iced coffee (1pp) which makes me feel like I am having dessert. (recycled picture)  Also (not pictured) I had a square of Dove dark chocolate (1pp).

For afternoon snack I made a smoothie: banana, frozen unsweetened strawberries, blueberries, greek yogurt (1pp), coconut milk (1pp) and chia seed (1pp).  I am still loving my Nutri Bullet!  I use it often, and it does a great job of grinding up even tiny seeds like chia.

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For dinner I made another recipe from one of my new favorite cook books, Weight Watchers What to Cook Now: 300 Recipes for Every Kitchen: mustard and herb crusted salmon (4pp for the serving size I had).  It was pretty good.  I served it with some asparagus roasted in olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper (1pp) and some jasmine rice (4pp).

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Bonus!  I got to use fresh herbs from my garden.

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For more WIAW goodness, check out my archive posts here.  If you want to hop on over to the link party, check out Peas and Crayons here:


Weekly Weigh In. Plus Tackling the Mental Side of Weight Loss.

Today I give my weekly weigh in results from doing Weight Watchers.  Plus I talk about tackling the mental side of weight loss, and why it is a must-do to make the weight loss permanent.

http://youtu.be/3j2S-JxvD40

Lastly, I thought I would share a promotion with you that Vitalicious is running right now.  If you have been wanting to try Vitacakes (a 1pp points bargain!), this would be a great time to try them.  Just use this link (affiliate, thank you!): Happy Easter – Get 12 FREE VitaCakes when you buy 30 VitaTops and enter coupon code: EMEPQ4Y6Y4FP. Coupon expires 4/16/14 at Vitalicious.com.

Fun Weekend and a Weekly Meal Plan

I hope everybody had a great weekend.  Our was great!  Friday my husband and I had a date night.  We went to eat at one of our favorite Birmingham restaurants, John’s City Diner.

JCD

This place holds special meaning to us because it is one of the places we used to meet for lunch during our pre-dating period.  The place has been there forever, although the current owners breathed some new life into the place about ten years or so ago.  They have really focused on quality, local ingredients…which I love!  I got the nightly special: pan seared snapper with corn grits and green beans.  It was awesome.  I have no idea how many points!  I am just going to try to stay within my daily points allowance for the rest of the week to compensate.

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From dinner we headed over to the beautiful and historic Alabama Theater to see the Alabama Symphony Orchestra perform with a Beatles tribute band, The Classical Mystery Tour.  It was so much fun.  My husband and I both love The Beatles music, so we really enjoyed the beautiful setting with fun music.

alabama

Alabama gets ragged on a lot, and I forget how much until I travel someplace else.  I get some strange questions from people who have never been here.  Like are there paved roads and indoor plumbing there.  Seriously, people?!

Anyway…There are certain extreme stereotypes about our state.  But I am proud to live here, and I especially love Birmingham, which has been my home for the last twelve years.  It feels like Birmingham is one of the southeastern USA’s best kept secrets – great restaurants to make any foodie happy, plus a really great culture for music and art lovers.  And not too big of a city that it gets to be a big headache to get around.

Saturday was spent shopping for some much needed new clothes.  I usually hate shopping.  But it wasn’t terrible!  Thanks to Weight Watchers!  I am starting to see my progress, and that makes me happy.

Saturday night I got together with some of the girls from our Sunday School class for a little baby shower and dinner.  We had a great time!  Sunday we went to church, followed by lunch at our favorite Thai place.  So it was a fun-filled weekend!

Now, on to my menu for the week:

Monday – mustard & herb crusted salmon (ww cookbook page 174), rice and roasted baby carrots

Tuesday – crock pot chicken, cous cous, asparagus

Wednesday – chicken marinara pasta bake

Thursday – hamburger steak with roasted potatoes and carrots

Friday – home made pizza

Saturday - pulled pork sandwiches and oven fries

Sunday – leftovers

I am trying one new recipe this week from the latest Weight Watchers cook book.  So far I am impressed.  Everything that I have made out of here has been delicious and husband approved!

What did you do this weekend? Have you tried any new recipes lately?  Let me know in the comments.

Grow Your Own Food: Herbs 101

Today starts a series on my blog dedicated to gardening.  It is the perfect time to be getting your garden going, so I thought I would share some tips, photos of my own garden and ideas for you to get started growing your own food.

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My fascination on this subject started several years ago when I saw the Dervaes family featured on Oprah.  They created the most unbelievable and beautiful edible gardens on their small fifth of an acre lot.  They even have a few farm animals.  It is amazing what they are able to create with so little.  They are very inspiring, and I still read their blog .

While my skills do not rise to the level of the Dervaes family, I do enjoy getting my hands in the dirt and reaping the tasty rewards of some home-grown goodness.

If you want to get started, my advice would be to start slow.  If you All Out right away, you will most likely get overwhelmed and quit.  And it’s supposed to be fun, right?! Herbs are a great place to start for several reasons:

  • They are easy and relatively low maintenance
  • They are pretty hearty, and some even do well in the colder months
  • They are fun to cook with, and easy to sprinkle on top of something to give that finishing touch
  • For the health conscious, they are a great way to add awesome fresh flavor without adding a ton of calories/points
  • You don’t have to worry about fending off a lot of pests.  Many herbs even repel pests!

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Steps to Planting Your Own Herb Garden

1. Pick a sunny spot.  Your herb garden will do best with five to eight hours of sunlight every day.

2. Choose your planting medium.  I use a square foot raised garden.  Mine is 4 feet x 4 feet, and it is only about 4-5 inches deep with organic soil.  Alternatively, you can use a big pot, if you want.

3. Brainstorm a few herbs to plant that you already enjoy eating.  My favorites: sweet basil, rosemary, chives, thyme, oregano, flat-leafed parsley.

4. Head to your local nursery and pick up some baby plants.  You can start from seed, if you want to, but this can take a while.  Some herbs can take 2 – 3 weeks to sprout, and they would need even more time than that to harden off and be ready for planting.  At this point in the season, I would suggest baby plants.  (Note: If you are in a colder climate than me, there may still be time to plant from seed.  I live in Birmingham, AL, FYI.)

5. Plant them in your garden. Note: You will want to check your famer’s almanac for your local region’s last frost.  Plant after that.

6. Cut of a few stems to use as needed.  Clipping actually encourages them to grow!  So use them.

7. Enjoy!

Are you planting an edible garden this year? What are you growing? Are you interested in more posts on growing your own food?  Let me know in the comments!

Five Life Lessons I Learned from My Dogs

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When I was little I begged my mom and dad for a dog.  They finally gave in and got me one in exchange for bribing encouraging me to learn how to water ski when I was twelve years old.  Ever since then, I have always had a dog.

Right now we have two, actually – a sheltie and a shih tzu.

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They both have their very distinctive personalities. The shih Tzu is mine.  She and I have been together (13.5 years) longer than my husband and I (9 years).  She will be 14 years old in September.  She plays the part of the stubborn, grouchy old lady.  She loves to sleep, snuggle and eat…and not much else!  She whines at me (in more of a cooing a pigeon-like fashion) when she wants something, and I am usually able to figure out what she wants.  I am her favorite person in the whole world.

Our sheltie plays the part of the antagonistic little brother.  He loves to aggravate his furry sister.  He is playful, smart and he has a sense of humor.  He thinks he is in charge, and he is perpetually trying to keep us all in line.  He is very charming when he wants to be.  My husband is his favorite person in the whole world.

But beyond their funny quirks, having dogs has actually taught me a few life lessons.  So I thought I would share!

1. Be present and in the moment.

I tend to be a futurist, meaning that I focus on dreams and the things I want to accomplish.  It is easy to get lost in my own thoughts and miss what’s right in front of me!  But dogs don’t worry about tomorrow, and they are never mentally someplace else.  All they know if the here and now.

2. Show affection to those you love

Always greet loved ones when they walk in the door.  Don’t just tell them, but show your loved ones that you love them.  Never take for granted how much joy you can bring your loved ones just by showing you love them.

3. Don’t forget to play!

It is easy to get very tasked focused, especially when there is so much to do!  And so little time to do it in.  But we are robbing ourselves of the joys of life if we forget to stop and enjoy ourselves.  And to find joy in even the simplest things like a walk outside or the wind in our face.

4. Trust your instincts

So many times when I was younger I would have a gut feeling, only to talk or reason myself out of it.  But as I get older, I am realizing that my instincts are pretty darn good most of the time.  My dogs amaze me at what good judges of character they are.

5. Be humble.  Because it’s not all about you.

Is there anything more humbling than cleaning up dog poop?  Or dog puke?  Seriously though, a dog does not care if you are a Big Deal.  A dog doesn’t care if you have millions of dollars.  A dog does not care if you are overweight.  All they care about is that they love you, and you love them back.

Do you have pets? What life lessons have you learned from them?

What I Ate Wednesday 27 – On Weight Watchers

Note: This post contains affiliate links.  All opinions are always my own.

Happy What I Ate Wednesday!  I’ve got a lot of good eats to share with you today, so let’s get right to it.

Breakfast was one egg (2pp) scrambled with some pourable whites (1pp) with chives from my garden.  Side note: I am working on a series of gardening posts.  Coming up will be my first post: Herb Gardening 101.  Herbs are a fantastic way to add lots of fresh flavor without adding calories or points.  Plus they make you feel all fancy! Ha!  So stay tuned for that coming up on Friday.

But back to breakfast…I also had a piece of light wheat toast (1pp) and grapes.  I had two cups of coffee with half and half and sugar (2pp for the two cups).

breakfast.jpg

I was able to take an early lunch to get out and get some miles under my belt for the #hmp100milesamonth challenge.  It was a beautiful day, even though it was a little bit on the cool side.


When I got back, I searched the refrigerator for lunch.  Sometimes I will just use leftovers thrown together with whatever else I have and hope it turns out alright!  This was definitely one of those days.  I had a leftover turkey burger patty (3pp) on a salad with baby bella mushrooms, kale sprouts, reduced fat Mexican blend cheese (2pp), salsa and single serve guacamole (2pp).  It was surprisingly tasty.

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I was craving chocolate, so I made myself a little low points dessert: I put light whipped topping (1pp) on a Chocolate Vitacake (1pp) from Vitalicious.  These are incredible!  I can’t believe they are only one little point and 50 calories!  I could not find these in my local supermarket, so I order mine online here.

I also made a little DIY iced coffee to go along with it (1pp).  The point is for some sugar and skim milk.  I put it in my reusable Copco Tumbler to make it feel like it came from a coffee shop.

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For snack I had a 3pp smoothie that I whipped up in my Nutri Bullet.  Today was banana, frozen unsweetened strawberries, frozen unsweetened blueberries, coconut milk (1pp), Greek yogurt (1pp) and chia seed (1pp).  It was so delicious and filling.  And I also had a Dove miniature dark chocolate (1pp).
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For dinner I made a recipe from the new Weight Watchers cookbook, Tilapia with spinach and grapes (5pp).  It was totally out of my norm since I have never cooked grapes before.  It was good!  And my husband like it too.  I paired it with garlic parmesan cheese grits (5pp).

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If you want more WIAW goodness, see all 27 weeks of my archives here. You can also visit the host of this link party, Jen, over at Peas and Crayons here:


Weekly Weigh In. Plus Don’t Deprive Yourself.

Today I share my weekly weigh in results.  Plus I offer a reminder not to deprive yourself.  Always try to eat all of your daily points.

Links mentioned in today’s episode:

My About Page with my back story, including the weight I lost prior to Weight Watchers

Weekend Recap with Pictures

100 Miles a Month Challenge

http://youtu.be/XVQR1VxBt2M

 

Weekend Recap and Meal Plan

Happy Monday!  I hope that everybody had a great weekend.  We sure did.  My parents visited this weekend.  I took a lot of great photos.  So I will share!

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We went to a local church event that held a Spring carnival for charity.  They had face painting.  Or in our case, hand painting!

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Daddy got into the games.

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And he helped little buddy take a turn or two.

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They even won some prizes.  Little buddy loved the clappers the best!

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The best part was getting to spend time with my parents!  Little buddy sure loves his Nana and Pop!

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So on to the week ahead!  A meal plan is open to change, of course.  Things come up, and sometimes I switch things around.  But I always start with a plan.

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Monday – Sautéed tilapia with spinach and grapes (page 187 of the Weight Watchers cookbook)

Tuesday – Meat loaf (from freezer), mashed potatoes, blackeyed peas

Wednesday – Mexican quinoa casserole from Lindsay over at Broke and Bougie

Thursday – Steak, baked potato, broccoli

Friday – Baked chicken tenderloins, rice, lima beans

Saturday – Burgers and oven fries

Sunday – leftovers

Lunches for me are almost always leftovers from these meals, with the occasional sandwich or salad.  Breakfasts are always either oatmeal, eggs, or egg white sandwiches.

I am trying two new recipes, which are linked for you above.  One is from the Weight Watchers cookbook, and the other is from a fellow blogger.

 What did you do this weekend?  Have you tried any new recipes?  Do you meal plan?