Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Adventures in the ER

I am not a medical professional.  Please do not take any of my rambling opinions as sound advice.

I hate how I so often second guess whether it is right to take my son to the ER.  In the past, I have felt like I've waited and waited... tried to treat him at home, use home remedies to bring down the fever, put him in a steam filled bathroom to ease his breathing.  Only when it became painfully obvious that my efforts at nursing were failing did I take him in to the hospital, at which point they give you the "why didn't you bring this kid in three hours ago" look.  I'm sure medical professionals aren't nearly that judgemental, but as a mom, it's easy to feel guilty.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Check Out #Looksima

Spring is a great time to do some spring cleaning.  I love cleaning my closets because I feel it make room for the potential for a new, more stylish me.  Nothing makes your day better than receiving a few compliments.  For example, today I paired a new skirt with my styling new glasses and a string of pearls.  For the first time in quite awhile I had multiple compliments from coworkers... really made my day.

So this post is for all of my fashion conscious followers, and all those who aspire to be just a little more fashion forward with their looks.  I've recently discovered Looksima, a great service for those who are looking for their next great look, but don't have the time to browse dozens of magazines and shop all over town.
 Looksima's mission is to make professional stylist services affordable for a wide audience. Your personal online stylist will help you determine your look, then build customized fashions for different occasions. Then, like the latest online magazines, you will be linked directly to partner stores where you can buy the item online.  Oh, and this personalized styling advice is all yours, FREE.
Discover Looksima today!

Connect with Looksima to learn more:

What's better than free?  How about a $50 Looksima giveaway?  Check it out here!


Monday, April 15, 2013

Hosting #mommyparties featuring #FastMetabolismDiet by @HaileyPomroy

Sometimes I can't believe my luck.  I was blessed with the opportunity to host a mommy party for my friends and family featuring Hailey Pomroy's new book The Fast Metabolism Diet: Eat More Food and Lose More Weight.

The Fast Metabolism Diet promises to help you lose 20 lbs in 28 days,  all while eating an amazing 5 times a day.  The trick here is to control what you eat during prescribed parts of the week. Each week is divided in to three major portions.  During Phase 1 the goal is to calm your metabolism by eating lots of healthy carbs, natural sugars (from fruits) and some lean protein. During phase 2 you "unlock" stored fat and build muscle by eating lots of protein and vegetables (no carbs, low fat).  During phase 3 you "unleash" the burn by eating some healthy fats, moderate cabs, protein, and low sugar fruits.

Each phase is accompanied by recommended exercise styles that will maximize your efforts during that phase.  Phase 1: Cardio, Phase2: Strength training with weights, Phase 3: Stress Reducing: like yoga or massage.  At the party we shared great ideas for different exercises and routines we could do throughout the week.  I recently found a great zumba set at the library--one disc contains typical zumba dance stuff--a fun way to cardio.  The second disc incorporates free weights with lots of reps--I know, maybe more cardio than the rules require, but I think it might be a good place for someone like me who doesn't typically do serious strength training activities.

Naturally, there are some big diet rules.
You must eat five times a day, every 3 hours... which seems like an aweful lot of food compared to the typically diet.  I think the idea is to keep you filled with good foods so you don't feel hungry enough to stray.  This would really be a problem for my schedule, as I only get the one lunch break at 10:30, and can't eat in front of the kids.  I want to try this diet, but won't have any luck with it until school is out for summer.

Next rules, eat within 30 minutes of getting up, stick with it for at least 28 days, follow the prescribed foods religiously and in order (again, probably easier in the summer since I'll have fewer family functions that would throw the diet off). Also, you must drink half your weight in ounces of water... oy! that's a lot of water... I should get working on this one now. 
As a rule, you should eat organic when possible.  I love that the party came with an opportunity to try Applegate Organic meats!  They were super delicious and everyone loved the meats we tried.  Organic can be so costly at the grocery store, so I had been reluctant to give it a try before.  Now that I know it's so good and good for you, we will have to find a way to make better food choices happen for us.

While I may have to wait to start the diet proper, I think the "don'ts" list offers some tips we can incorporate now.  No corn/no wheat.  The logic being that wheat/corn/soy have been genetically modified to withstand pesticides, poor weather, etc. that they are hard for the body to properly digest and gain nutrition from.  Also, no dairy... they are high in sugar and fat.  (don't read yesterday's article on my new obsession with making homemade ice cream).  No caffeine, no alcohol, no dried fruit or fruit juice and no artificial/ fat free or "diet" foods.

While I confess being scared a little by all of the rules, the what you can eat when, of this diet, I love that there is a complete menu for all 28 days, with all of the yummy recipes to go with it.  Before the party, I made a delicious phase I chili with scores of different beans. It was very filling and warming--it has been an unexpectedly cold gloomy and grey weekend.  I made it in the croq pot and and it filled the house with a great smell.
During the party, guest made and sipped phase III Berry Nut Oatmeal Smoothies...  (this was super good and may replace my typical protein shake in the morning).  We also made Phase III Sweet Potato Hummus which was an interesting twist on hummus.  In addition to sampling the Applegate meats, we also sampled Artisana's Cashew butter, which was as delicious as it sounds.

Guests received coupons and samples of Celestial Seasonings Tea to take home along with their own copy of Pomroy's book.

Big Thanks to Mommy Parties, Random House and all of the party sponsors.  We had such a blast and can't wait to start losing weight with the Fast Metabolism Plan.

Disclaimer:  I received books, recipe cards, a $20 Target gift card and other extra coupons and recipes from brand partners Applegate, Artisana, CrockPot and Celestial Seasonings to help put together my party. 


Sunday, April 14, 2013

Yum. Homemade Ice cream

I've always had a sweet spot for ice cream.  Lately we've been making our own at home.  It's really pretty easy once you have an ice cream maker. We bought ours at the end of last summer when they are heavily discounted.  I think we only paid $15 for a 4 qt maker.   When you factor in the cost of cream, making ice cream at home probably isn't any cheaper than just buying it at the store.  But I prefer the taste of homemade, and feel slightly better knowing exactly what is in the ice cream without those unnesissary additives.

Over spring break we made Mint and Chip Ice Cream using this recipe from

Because of the cooking required for the eggs, this wasn't nearly as two year old friendly as the first recipe.  Cooking with the eggs results in a very cus

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Spring Break Gardening

Most of my students came back from spring break from exotic and warm locations.  Our spring break wasn't nearly as sunny. I really don't have an aversion to sunshine, and wouldn't have minded a day at the beach.  Still, I loved our staycation just the same.

You see, we had these seriously hideous bushes in the front yard.  Maybe they weren't hideous, but they came with the house, were pretty hollow, pretty big, and a lot more maintenance for looking so mediocre than I really cared to invest.  Bottom line, they just really didn't do anything for our front yard. We decided to pull them out.
Pulling out 8 very old bushes turned out to be a bit of an adventure.

Step 1: Use large pruning shears to clear out most of the branches.  Use smaller pruning clippers to cut branches down so they fit in a lawn bag.  (after getting frustrated with the dumb bags, learn that bundling the limbs with twine is far more time efficient).

Step 2: With a shovel, clear dirt from roots around the base.

Step 3: Attach log chain to our truck's tow hitch. Wrap other hook around base of bush/roots.  I think this is the point where I started to feel just a little redneck about the whole process.

Step 4: Drive forward, preferably in 4 wheel drive.

Step 5: Reverse truck and repeat until bush is pulled.
Our first bush, which was on the very hollow and lean side  pulled out with just one good tug.  This feat really suckered us in to feeling invincible.  The remaining three we took out that day were by far less willing to be removed.  There was a bit more patience, shoveling to loosen roots, wrapping the chains lower and lower around the base, etc.

It took us two days to rip out all 8 bushes.  In truth, we usually didn't get started until after little man was at his afternoon session of daycare.  Another afternoon was spent amending the soil with some organic fertilizer and top soil from family friends.  Then planting and mulching.

We planted a boomerang lilac and japanesse maple in the corners.  The boomerang lilac claims that it will bloom twice, which is exciting.  I've always liked lilacs, but was never able to plant them growing up--my father is allergic. We planted a couple phlox, hoping they will slowly fill in as ground cover.
We also planted blueberry bushes, which I am super excited about. They are bushes, they flower, they have fruit... what's not to love.  At least it's a front yard plant that has a purpose!  We have three different varieties, Tophat, Bluray and Northern Chippewa.  The tophat came from a local garden center, while the others came from a big box store.  I'm curious to see how they turn out.

I'm a little worried to have planted outside so early, and we have had some coolish weather.  I'm looking forward to warmer weather, when the garden centers will have a greater selection.  I think I'll likely add more lavender, and a few hydrangea to fill in.  I may even plant a flat of annuals, just for color.


Thursday, April 4, 2013

Spring Break: Getting ready for spring

Spring Break started Friday at the Toledo Zoo.  Little man had the day off from day care, so it was time for a family picnic at the zoo.  During the day, they had special Easter egg themed activities for the animals and story times for the kids.  We just liked that for a change, it was a sunny day to get out and walk around.
While at the zoo, we stopped at the polar bear exhibit; one of little man's favorite stops.  He really likes to point out that there is water in the exhibit.  There was a large crowd around the polar bears, as the two adult polar bears, in Little man's words were "wrestling."  They were playful, it was all very fun and cute.  That is, it was fun and cute until the two polar bears decided to do their part to keep the polar bears off the endangered species list.  Lets just say, the crowds around the polar bears dissipated quickly.
Later that night, Little Man and his cousin met at Grandma's house to color eggs.  This was an interesting experience.  The concept of gently placing eggs in the color was a little lost on them.  Splashing commenced and the newspaper below was very colorful when all was said and done.

Saturday was spent with my family.  We took our bird nest treats (see this post) I also made a hot artichoke and spinach dip that was amazingly simple to make. Alton Brown's Artichoke and Spinach Dip Recipe. 
Little man and his cousin had a great day.  After nap time, they had a blast searching for Easter eggs in my parents back yard.  We did an Easter egg hunt last year too, but I was surprised by just how much he remembered.  He didn't need a reminder as to why he should go gather Easter eggs this year--he knew what was inside!  Little man had a zigzag method to searching that must have burned tons of energy.  He would spot an egg at the edge of the yard, then come back for one near the house, only to spot another at the far corner of the yard.  His cousin was far more methodic in her approach.  Surprisingly, they ended up with the same number of eggs. 
After eggs we played Frisbee and blew bubbles outside.  It could have been a little warmer, but we couldn't have asked for a better day at the rate nice days have been coming.

Easter was spent driving up to visit Little Man's other Grandma up north.  We hadn't planned to go because Grandma is recovering from surgery and we didn't want little man to cause her to "overdo it."  We decided to travel the night before, on the suggestion of my father who said that grandkids were probably the best medicine out there.  They still have snow up North, but it was totally worth it to surprise grandma. We sent little man in the house first, to a grandma who didn't even hear him come in.  It wasn't until she looked up from the deviled eggs she was making that she noticed he was standing there, smiling.  That may have been the best part of spring break.

When we arrived home, we noticed that our first crocus bloomed. This week we are tackling some major outside projects.  I know it's too early to plant outside, but I really can't wait for spring.  It wasn't a hard winter hear, but it just seems like winter won't let go quite yet.