The D Word

Diet. I hate to say that word because of all the scariness and failure it entails, but I’ve been really pushing to be healthy recently. My life is a lot more structured now since getting my job and starting classes, which makes staying on track easier. I’ve also been using MyFitnessPal. I’m trying not to get too obsessed with numbers, as long as I aim for healthy and eat when I’m hungry. I’ve been logging for almost a month now and my intense cravings for greasy food have (mostly) subsided. Our challenge to not eat out is also making it easier to stay on track. I’ve cut out drinking for the most part, as well as fried food and junk food in general, but nothing is off limits. I left calories for one beer last night and I’ve been cooking homemade pizzas to recreate a healthier version of one of my favorite foods. I decided to weigh myself on the 1st and 15th of each month and keep the scale out of sight.

I’m not doing any special crazy diet. No low-carb, no sugar free or fat free, no paleo,  vegan or juicing and no obsession with everything being “clean”. Just simple portion control and self control. I lost 4 pounds in the first 2 weeks and and I’m hoping for a couple of more on March 1!

-A

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Cauliflower Crust Pizza

Cauliflower crust pizza has been on my list since it started making it’s rounds in the Pinterest world. It’s even on my cooking bucket list I made last year. Since I got a food processor for my birthday last year, I finally have the tools required! Last night I cooked this delicious, low carb crust and it was better than I even imagined!

I used this recipe from a Pin, but tweaked it slightly. So here it is:

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Cauliflower Crust Pizza

1 medium head of cauliflower
2 eggs
1/3 cup shredded mozzarella
1/4 cup shredded parmesan
1 TBS almond flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp dried oregano
Fresh ground pepper

Preheat the over and a round baking pan to 450. Start by washing and drying the head of cauliflower. Chop off the stem so you’re just left with florets. Add the florets to the food processor and pulse for about 30 seconds until it reduces to a powdery, light “grain”. I had about 4 cups of cauliflower grain. Place the cauliflower in a microwave-safe dish, cover with a paper-towl; nuke for 5 minutes. Carefully dump the hot cauliflower onto a dish towel or cheese cloth and let cool. Twist and squeeze the cloth to drain the water out of the cauliflower. I got just over a cup of water out of my cauliflower. Add the cauliflower “flour” to a bowl, along with the eggs, mozzarella, parmesan, almond flour, salt, basil, oregano and some fresh cracked pepper. Mix together into a dough. Spray a piece of parchment paper with nonstick oil and press your cauliflower dough into a pizza crust, making sure there are no holes. Mine was about a 10-12 inch pizza. Remove your preheated pan from the oven and slide the parchment paper with the crust onto the pan. Cook for about 10-15 minutes until it starts to brown. Remove from over and top with your favorite toppings! I used sauce, cheese, pepperoni, and olives! Place back in oven for 5-7 minutes until cooked. Enjoy!

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yum.    -a

Eat This Now

On today’s episode of Eat This NOW:

Monkey Salad: unsweetened toasted coconut chips, unsalted roasted baby cashews, and a banana. The recipe doesn’t specify amounts of each ingredient, but I used 1/8 cup of cashews and 1/4 cup of coconut. It was so easy and so satisfying.

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Also, last night I made green bean fries with dinner using this recipe, and they were amazing. Nothing like real fries, obviously, but crispy and satisfying. Be warned, it was super messy and time-consuming to coat the green beans.

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Best x.

Last Weekend of Freedom

This weekend one of my besties came down to take care of me and join me in my recovery laziness. I warned her that my life these days is far from fabulous and consists of sitting on the couch and watching large amounts of HGTV, but she assured me she didn’t mind. She was so wonderful; she cooked and cleaned for me and helped me take care of the girls. It was so nice having company. We even ventured out one day for coffee and I crutched(?) awkwardly downtown. Did I mention that she made me some fabulous cheese plates?

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And now, I’m just preparing myself for my last semester before graduating in May.

Best
-x

2014 Recap

January
2014 began with friends and fun! I went to Hilton Head Island with some of my besties and partied downtown for new years. I had injured my knee when I was running in December and was preparing for surgery. I had my first knee surgery towards the end of January and spent most of it in bed.
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February
By mid February I was feeling back to normal and trying to be more active and healthy. I went on a lot of walks downtown with hubby.

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March
I spent Spring Break in Gatlinburg, TN with the in-laws. Gatlinburg was a good redneck party spot. I think we spent the whole trip drunk between moonshine and whiskey distilleries. My favorite part was driving into Smoky Mountain National Park and driving up to Newfound Gap. The view was amazing and it was an Appalachian Trail access point, which I want to hike part of one day when my knee is healed.

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April
April was a wonderful month! There were walks downtown, a trip to Athens and a visit from a BFF. I hadn’t seen Val in years and it was wonderful to reunite. We went on beach trips and had girlie cocktail nights downtown. (there was also that bee getting into my bra incident that was really no fun). Also, in April I got a fabulous new haircut.IMG_2892

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ValandI

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May
In May I was done with Spring semester and had a week of freedom before the grueling summer semester. I spent that time hanging with my girlfriends, then road-tripping to beautiful Charleston, SC for some R&R with my hubs. We visited the beach, walked the historic cobblestone streets, and toured a plantation. It was lovely. Also in May, I discovered Zenni Optical and started my over the top glasses collection that I’m in love with!

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June
Summer school came on in full force and basically consumed my life. I was taking 4 classes that are normally 12 week courses in 4-5 weeks so I had exams, papers, projects and homework due almost every day. I spent weekends lounging by my parents pool and managed a quick weekend trip to Atlanta for Korean BBQ and Karaoke with friends.

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July
My second summer semester began (which included the WORST group project I’ve ever experienced I had a terrible partner). I watched World Cup games and cheered for USA whenever I wasn’t studying (blurry photo).  Also, I added to my glasses collection and managed a small weekend trip up to Athens. We visited a cute new brewery and ate some amazing food. I also helped my little sis move into her first real place.

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IMG_3920August
August was basically one of the best months of my life, because with less than 3 weeks notice we planned a trip to Europe and I was on a plane on a dream vacation. The adventure began with a huge road trip up to New Jersey, with an overnight stop in Virginia Beach. After 2-3 days of crossing our fingers and waiting (plus sleeping in the car one night), we boarded a plane to Germany, flying Space-A with the United States Air Force (did I mention it was completely free?). I need to post a full story of our big adventure, but short recap: we landed in Frankfurt and rented a car. We drove to Amsterdam where we spent 3 days before heading through Belgium to Paris (which I’ve dedicated 2 posts to: here and here). From Paris we booked a coach to London and travelled via the Chanel Tunnel, which was such a cool experience. We spent a few nights in London and took another coach up to Liverpool to visit my family. I reunited with an old friend and stayed with my Granddad in his idyllic little English town. We wished we could have stayed for week, but after 2 days we rented a car and left with heavy hearts. Luckily, my husband drove (on the wrong side of the road and no GPS) and we managed to get to the Mildenhall Royal Air Force Base to try to catch a flight back to the USA. After 3 days of being passed over for flights to the USA, we finally got on a flight to Seattle. We flew on a huge cargo jet with no windows and sat against the wall in little jump seats. After the plane took off, though, we were able to sprawl out of the floor and it was a pretty comfortable experience (despite the 9 hour+ flight). The whole trip back to Savannah was a whole miserable blur. There were missed nights of sleep, food poisoning, late flights, missing baggage, dead car batteries and jet lag. Eventually we arrived home and the whole thing was the best experience of my life!

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September
My fall semester was back in gear and I was back to the normal routine of class and studying. I discovered a new cafe in Savannah that I’m obsessed with now and practiced photography downtown with my new camera. I also spent a perfect, cloudy few days in Ponte Vedra, FL for our second wedding anniversary and got accepted to grad school! By this time my knee was really bothering me and it had been deteriorating slowly since March.

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October
This was a relatively quiet month. My little sis visited for her birthday weekend and we went for a fabulous meal downtown. I spent Halloween weekend in a mountain cabin with my girlfriends AND it snowed!! Also, I interviewed for a summer internship at the company where I really want to work.

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November
There were more walks with the doggies downtown and lattes in the park. On Thanksgiving week the hubby and I spent a few days at a cabin in the North Georgia mountains where we visited Amicalola Falls and Blue Ridge. Thanksgiving was spent with my family and we feasted like kings!

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IMG_4914December
And, December. In December I: finished finals, celebrated my birthday with the Black Keys in Charlotte, brewed beer, enjoyed a spa day, had my second knee surgery of the year, celebrated Christmas with my family, interviewed for an internship, and rang in the new year with champagne!

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IMG_5310And that wraps up 2014! What a year!!!

Best, x.

Body Acceptance

Today, as I sat in Panera eating my convenient “healthy” lunch and emailing potential internship leads, I began slowly eavesdropping on the conversation in the booth next to me. Sat deep in lunchtime discussion were two, well-dressed, fashionably accessorized middle-aged women. They obviously both took care of themselves and were picking at salads. However, their discussion made me sad. They spoke of their weights and hatred of how they looked and how much they wanted to weigh. They went on discussing how to cook fish without adding fat and which green beans have the least amount of calories. What made me sad was that this isn’t an unusual occurrence. This is normal, everyday conversation for many women; and yes I’m guilty of this too.

I always hoped that as I grew older it would be easier to love my body and accept how I look. It’s clear, though, that even 2 completely beautiful, thin 40-something women still don’t feel happy with how they look and hope to be thinner. Imagine what these ladies could accomplish if they had all the extra time spent worrying about weight loss? Maybe body hatred should stop. I don’t want to obsess about weight. It’s such a waste of time. I will enjoy my 180 calorie baguette with my soup and learn to embrace the one body I have in this life and you should too. In the end, our aim should be about happiness, acceptance and health; not the number on the scale or being a size 2.

A Few Days in the Mountains

I’m back from my cabin getaway with the husband and kids (actually dogs). It was perfect. The cabin was relaxing, secluded and beautiful! We spent the days walking the dogs, soaking in the hot tub, window shopping, indulging and enjoying the fresh air.

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DSC_0447I was a little apprehensive because this was the first time we’ve rented a place to stay that wasn’t a hotel. After Googling and reading a ton of reviews we decided on the Morning Song Cabin. The reviews were good and the owners were friendly. It ended up being perfect. The kitchen was fully stocked, it was spotless, and they thought of everything from books to boardgames to directions.

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DSC_0460Since check-in wasn’t until 4 p.m. and I’m a morning person (sorry husband!), we set out super early and headed to Amicalola Falls. It’s the tallest waterfall in Georgia and has a hiking trail that leads to the southernmost point of the Appalachian Trail. So far my travels have led me to many different points along the Appalachian Trail, perhaps this is a sign! I was unable to hike or climb the almost 500 stairs down the waterfall because of my uncooperative knee, but the views were breathtaking. The trees were nowhere near as beautiful as they were last month in North Georgia, all the colorful leaves had fallen leaving the trees barren.

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DSC_0426My sis and her boyfriend joined us on the second night for a night of mischief. In the morning I filled the cabin with the aroma of bacon and coffee to get everyone out of bed, and then before we knew it, it was time to leave. An awful 6 hours later we were finally home and had managed to escape Atlanta holiday traffic!

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Tomorrow is Thanksgiving with the fam, and I’m ready to cook up a storm and then gobble everything down. I’m in charge of the macaroni and cheese and green bean casserole. I’ve found a gooey, creamy macaroni recipe and I’m making the green bean casserole from scratch because the traditional method of plopping a can of Campbell’s soup on top of green beans is kind of gross.

Best x.

 

Day 2 & 3 and Breakfast

Day 2– 31 Days to a Better Photo: Read the manual
Sure I’ve flipped through the manual before…but who actually reads every page? So I sat down and read it.

  1. How to change the mode of your camera – auto / program, aperture priority, shutter priority. 
  2. What do the icons on your camera mean? The flower, the running man, a face, mountains, stars, etc. What does each symbol represent? 
  3. Which wheel controls shutter speed, which wheel controls aperture? ✓
  4. How to find the white balance menu, and change it. ✓
  5. How to change ISO ✓

Here’s a practice shot of breakfast: avocado, turkey bacon and an egg on a whole wheat english muffin + strawberries.DSC_0896

Day 3– 31 Days to a Better Photo: Shooting fast vs. Shooting slow

I practiced shutter speed by taking shots in shutter priority mode and manual. Of course, the puppies are my favorite subject. For these pics I kept the ISO and aperture the same and changed the shutter speed. I like visuals and seeing the numbers on the pictures helps me understand how shutter speed changes the photo.

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Best x.

Afternoon Bake Fest

Yesterday I suddenly had the urge to bake, and I hate baking.  I think it’s because I like to be able to only vaguely follow a recipe and with baking it’s more of an exact science. Rising, kneading, mixing; it won’t work unless your measurements are right! Plus, I like what I cook to look pretty (it’s the perfectionist in me), and whenever I bake….it’s not pretty.

I can't wait to bake!

I can’t wait to bake!

I decided to use this sudden baking compulsion to begin on my cooking bucket list. My sister joined in on the festivities and we picked 3 different recipes. I chose to bake a pumpkin pie (100% from scratch), my sister chose to bake orange chocolate chip scones and then we ended the evening with a pretzel twisting competition.

I used this pumpkin pie recipe. It was actually hard to find one that called for fresh rather than canned pumpkin. Honestly, the pumpkin pie crust was a struggle, and my little pumpkin’s yield was low; I was very skeptical, but it still turned out delicious!

Baking CollageKatie’s scones were delicious; crisp on the outside and soft on the inside ! We paired them with whipped cream, because what doesn’t taste better with whipped cream?

Baking6But, my favorite recipe of the day ended up being the soft pretzels! The recipe was so simple, but I was so impressed! It was also fun rolling, twisting and shaping them- there were some REALLY fat, misshapen and ugly pretzels. I don’t think my sister or I have a future career in pretzel-making. They paired perfectly with the sweet dijon sauce.Baking Collage2 Baking

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Best x.

Anniversary Getaway

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This week the husband and I ran off to Ponte Vedra, Florida for 3 days to unwind and celebrate 2 happy years together. We decided to stay at a golf resort on the beach (avoiding screaming kiddies and coeds). It was just us, the surf, and retired folks. Very relaxing! I spent my (Wednesday through Friday) weekend sipping wine and quickly turning the pages of Gone Girl (I can’t wait to see the movie). Skipping just one day of class was totally worth it- and I only burnt the tops of my toesies.

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PonteVedra6For our special anniversary dinner we ate at a cozy family owned Italian restaurant where the wine was served in carafes and the garlic bread made me reek for days. It was perfect.

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Ponte VedraI feel relaxed and ready to be healthy- seriously our dinner tonight consisted of a variety of items we bought at Dollar General. Barf.

Best x.