Sunday, December 29, 2013

Cleaning Up after Christmas and The Daniel Plan

 
 
Hello Friends!  I don't know about you, but I always feel energized after the celebration of Christmas.  In the past two days I have taken down our Christmas décor and cleaned the place up a bit.  This included an overhaul of my fridge and pantry in an effort to begin The Daniel Plan.  My Pastor has recently written this wonderful book and I plan to incorporate many of its principles to the Wisdom of Balanced Eating which I began in November.  While I would not mind losing about 20 pounds, my main goals continue to be for my health, energy, and purpose.  The Daniel Plan is built around Faith, Food, Fitness, Focus and Friends and I have been preparing my heart, mind, and home to be very open to these essentials.
 
Here are a few shots of my improved fridge and pantry:
 
 
 




 
 

I don't think I have ever had so little flour and sugar in this pantry!!!!
 
 
 
 

Water is essential and this is an area I need improvement in!


Below are a couple of shots of the living room cleaned up after Christmas!  See if you can spot the remaining lone Christmas decoration!  (hint...it's red!)
 
 
 I have plans to tweak this room a bit in 2014 on a budget!  Stay tuned.  :)
 
Thank you for visiting and I wish everyone a healthy, happy New Year!


Friday, December 13, 2013

Christmas Decor 2013

Such a full time of year!  We returned from Thanksgiving just in time to host a Christmas party so I had to hurry and decorate quickly.  I am tiring of many of my decorations so this may be the last year for this particular look.  To be honest, I would like a new look altogether for my living and dining rooms.  I am considering something quite different for the future décor-wise....but we will see how organized I am for 2014.  Many resolutions are in store just around the corner.  ;)  I am working right up until the 20th and then younger son will be having his wisdom teeth pulled on the 23rd, older son is arriving from college for several weeks, and mother-in-law will be visiting from all the way from the east coast for  week, yikes!
 
Here are a few shots of the interior of our house right now (there are more decorations scattered throughout the house, but in the interest of time here we go...):
 









 












These last two are of the powder room off of the family room.  :)


 
As I am looking at these photos, I am realizing that I do not have any of the kitchen!  Will try to get the kitchen in soon!  :)  Happy Weekend!


Thanksgiving in Trinidad, CA

This year we spent a beautiful week in far northern California in a tiny town called Trinidad.  The town is approximately 90 minutes from the Oregon border on the Lost Coast and the setting is stunning.  Since we have not had a proper vacation in several years, we splurged and rented an oceanfront house for the week, where the Thanksgiving turkey was roasted and served.  The week was beautifully clear and we spent time walking, hiking, talking, eating, movie-watching and bonding as a family.  Our eldest son joined us since his nearby university was on break for the entire week.  It was wonderful.  Here are a few shots of this breathtaking area:
 
Our Thanksgiving table and view!
 

Yes, we did have grilled fish!


















Much to be thankful for!





Monday, November 11, 2013

The Wisdom of Balanced Eating

Quick phone picture of my breakfast set up yesterday morning!
 
 
Yesterday I found myself alone in the house on a cozy Sunday morning.  My husband had taken our youngest son rock climbing in Joshua Tree, and, having already attended church Saturday evening, I spent a lazy morning drinking coffee and puttering around the house before doing some gardening.

I have a longstanding history of dieting.  Never happy with my body, I have starved it, run it into the ground with exercise, and tried any supplement I could come across to slim it down.  My bookshelves have seen every diet book known to man, and I have tried nearly every program out there. 

In a nutshell, I am DONE.  I am not dieting, not counting calories, and no longer running marathons.  An odd thing has taken over me and it appears to be the voice of WISDOM.  I have thrown away the idea of a lovely number on the scale in favor of REASON.  Eating this way means eating God-made foods, eating reasonable portions, and eating a balance.  I am actually eating real butter, real mayo, and real chocolate (formerly forbidden foods) now and saying "no" to artificial sweeteners, packaged foods, skipping meals, and calorie counting.  My favorite exercise now is simply walking.  The countless hours spent in a gym are all behind me.

Have I lost weight eating and exercising this way?  No.  Maybe I will over time, maybe not.  But listening to this inner wisdom has been incredibly freeing.  In my case, a God-send.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Early November...and still Orange!

Hello there! 
 
I realize that after Halloween time, many people opt to use their pumpkins for baking or seed-roasting.  Or perhaps they just trash them.  I prefer to hang on to them.
 
Now that the kids are older (17 and 20) we typically do not carve our pumpkins.   Instead, I leave them by the front door and in the house for my November "decorations."  If they are not carved, pumpkins can last for several months without spoiling.  Once December arrives, we compost them, often exchanging them for pretty Poinsettias.  :)
 
 
pretty mums tie all of the orange together...
 
The older (and hopefully wiser) I get, the less I really care about how "proper" or "amazing" my décor is.  Instead of adding my usual orchid to this silver trophy ice bucket, I just plopped one of the pumpkins in as a sort of "topiary."  ;)  It is unexpected and I like that.

...and the winner is...orange!
 
I did a similar "plop" for my dining room table "centerpiece."  I like how the orange ties in with the blue and white platter underneath.  I don't really care that the pot and platter are unusual friends (see what I mean?!).
 

 
 
In preparation for my next someday (beach) house, I am finding myself morphing away from all the reds and greens I have been comfortable with for so long and slowly replacing them with more blue.  I have been pinning ideas for this NEXT HOUSE (click HERE! to see them...I think the look is awesome!).  The idea is clean...black, white, and blue, with a bit of an elegant "beach-y" vibe.   
 
 

I am slowly morphing to more blue in the home....here is a mishmash of color and style, yet I still think it works!).

 

Our mantle from late September will stay the same....
Our front door décor typically stays the same for 2 months....then I get to change it up for Christmas!

 
HAPPY EARLY NOVEMBER!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Best Kale Chips

 
 
Hi Friends.  I have posted kale recipes in the past, but I am updating this one now because I think I have improved it a bit.  :)
 
Nearly each CSA box we receive from Tanaka Farms contains a bunch of curly kale.  For a while, I used the kale in salads, and I often add the kale to soups or smoothies. 
 
I tried making kale chips but they would only turn out amazing once in a while. However, I have made a few tweaks to my technique, and hopefully someone reading this lonely little blog will try these kale chips.
 
First rip the kale off of the stems (compost the stems) and tear into small pieces.  Wash and dry, then spread the kale out onto baking sheets like so:
 
 

I usually need two baking sheets for one bunch of kale.  It is important that the leaves do not touch or overlap too much.
 
Next, pour some EVOO onto the leaves and massage into the leaves with your hands.  Sometimes I add the EVOO onto my clean hands and then massage the leaves.
 
Sprinkle lightly with sea salt.
 
NOTE!  My biggest tweaks to improving kale chips include spreading them out into two batches, adding MORE EVOO than I had been, using LESS sea salt than I had been, and baking them a bit longer.  I think I was trying to save calories by using less oil and more salt, when in fact they are superior if I use more oil and less salt.  Too salty=ICK.
 



Put the prepared kale into the oven at about 250.  I usually need about 35-40 minutes for the kale to end up as I like.  Stir halfway through to spread the leaves out as they start shrinking.
 

 
 
Final step:  EAT. 
 
:)
 
 
We usually eat a lot of salad, but once the fall and winter months are upon us, I find that I no longer crave salad.  One of the best ways to get healthy leafy greens in is to use a recipe like this one or to add them to veggie soups, a favorite for me.
 
Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

October...

A little cooler on the weather, long walks each evening, and a few fun events and decorations....
 
Photo: The path home from a 5 mile walk.  Pretty day!
(the bike path near our home)
 
(I repainted the small bench with chalkboard paint and decided to pain a small pumpkin the same)



(sweet watercolor print that I won at a silent auction honoring Japanese-American WWII veterans)
 
Photo: Rich and I are at a benefit for Japanese American veterans of WWII!!!
(The Westin Hotel, Los Angeles, where the fundraiser was held)
 
(funny photo from a friend)

My husband and I have been invited to a costume party this coming weekend.  We plan to go as Tacky Tourists....I will post a picture if I am not too embarrassed to!
 

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