Friday, July 29, 2011

Thoughts of the Week - Going To The Gym!

Hi guys!  How has everyone's week been?  Ours has actually been pretty uneventful which is nice, I love a quiet schedule.  This means the kids get a little more restless but we always seem to find something fun to do at home.  Other than the progress of the backyard, the quest for a healthier me, a healthier family continues this week.  I've stayed steadfast on my coffee-less mission, although have brewed a couple of cups of decaf, which does in fact taste just as good as regular.  I'm definitely not as tired this week which I'm so grateful for, and I'm also grateful for all the encouragement.  Thanks so much.  For the last 4-5 weeks I've also finally gotten back into a consistent workout routine that goes something like this:

Sunday-Monday: Rest
Tuesday: 45 minute Cardio mix of Precor machine and running
Wednesday: Core Central class with Zoe (she whoops and hollers in a high pitched voice a lot but she's over 50 and kicks major butt, so I totally forgive the whooping it up)
Thursday: Shadow Boxing class with Lori (she just yells at us but manages to do it in a not scary Jiliian Michaels sort of way.  She is over 40 and is so incredibly strong and fit you can't help but be inspired)
Friday (if I can squeeze it in): Jillian Michaels type of workout from my 30 Day Shred book
Saturday: Rest
The shadow boxing class is my favorite by far.  I feel strong and powerful during and afterwards and I swear you need at least one day in your exercise routine to get you going and keep you going.  I totally like to imagine that I could actually box somebodies daylights out with a jab/cross/punch combo if I needed to in a dark parking lot, but I'm sure I actually could not.  Either way it's the one day of exercise I look forward to each week.  
I do feel stronger and healthier now that I've gotten consistent again.  I can go longer, push harder, and my legs are starting to tone up again.  But I've gotta say I am getting a little discouraged.  I swear I'm not one of those gals that constantly looks at the scale (ours at home doesn't even have batteries) and I don't judge my happiness by my weight, really I just go by how my clothes fit.  But when your shorts from last summer start riding up your crotch, no matter what size you are it just ain't cool.  These pants I fit into lat month fit almost like leggings when I put them on the other day, and finally to confirm my suspicions, the sales girl that measured me yesterday gave me the news, I have grown a full cup size.  My husband was pleased, but me not so much.  I weighed myself and sure enough, I've gained over 5 pounds in the last few weeks, making my total weight gain almost 20 pounds in the last year (at 5'10" I can hide my weight gain fairly well, but it's there).  Maybe I'm pregnant?  KIDDING!
I'm pressing on and trying to not let it get me down because of course I know there are much more important things in life to worry about, but it's just a bit of a bummer after working hard for the last few weeks.  I'm hoping the recent weight gain is just a combo of some muscle and water weight from no longer drinking so much caffeine, which is a diuretic.  Either way I'm going to keep doing what I'm doing regardless of what I weigh because it FEELS GOOD to get my sweat on!  Has anyone else ever experienced this type of set back when starting up a workout routine?   

Oh and the healthier family part I mentioned up top?  We're red meat free for almost 2 weeks now!  I was telling Miranda that we all love red meat in this house and would probably keep it in our diet if the grass fed variety was cheaper, but I just can't stomach spending at least $10/pound for organic beef.  We really don't love it that much ;)  The kids and Art could really care less, but I'm sure he'll be ordering beef now every time we go out to dinner.  And even our sweet dog Maddie got a health check yesterday.  At 10 years old she passed with flying colors.  
  so gross but couldn't resist; Syd and Maddie have always had a close relationship, sharing everything  :)

have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Backaryd Progress

Hi friends!  Apologies for being a little more silent than usual, but we've been a bit preoccupied with the progress of the backyard.  The pool has been complete for almost 2 months now but because of various reasons, we've had to put the landscaping on hold until this week.  The Decomposed Granite ("DG") has now been laid and the sprinklers are being installed today.  Sod goes in on Saturday and then after it's safe to walk on the sod we'll start the planting of shrubs, plants and trees. 

When we were designing the backyard it was very important to us to still have a good size grass area for the kids and dog, as well as for us.  Grass just seems to keep a yard cooler don't you think?  Which is why we placed the pool in the very far back corner of the yard so we could have grass going right up to the pool deck.  Another important factor was to limit the amount of concrete.  Our garage is detached and so we have a huge stretch of concrete driveway that already runs along the entire side of the backyard.  With this in mind, we chose Decomposed Granite for the patio, and around the fire pit.  We also made a winding pathway from the fire pit to the back of the pool to create some interest.

We love the rustic and natural element that the DG lends to the yard.  I love how a patio set looks resting in DG (reminds me of a lot of wineries we've visited).  Plus it's significantly cheaper than concrete which is an added bonus.  We spent 1/3 of what we would have spent on concrete.  I really hope I'm not kicking myself later though with the mess.  We're going to spray a light glue adhesive down to help keep the small pebbles in check.  If that doesn't work, we can always lay some slate right into the DG, and we'll still end up spending less than if we had poured concrete.  We'll see how it goes.  For now, here's some pictures with notes of the progress so far.  There still is so much to do but we'll get there eventually! 
That huge wall along the right side of the yard in the picture below is the neighbor's garage that they converted into a 2 story guest house/rumpus room.  That whole wall needs to be painted and hopefully the Japanese Maple will hide most of it.
The planter wall on the side of the pool will also be filled with climbing vines on trellises to help cover up the huge wall, which is our garage.  The back concrete pad was the only other concrete we had poured.  Eventually chaise lounge chairs will go there.  I can't wait till I'm hanging back there with a margarita in hand :)
Note to self: find some sort of pool toy storage so they don't all end up dumped to the side as in picture below :)
 There's the trunk to our beautiful and HUGE Chinese Elm that hangs over the pool.  That tree was one of the main selling points for me on this house :)
The DG is packed down pretty hard so that it doesn't give at all when you walk on it.  Tiny little pebbles do lift up as you're walking, but eventually they should all get ground in. 
And that's it so far!  Thanks for taking the tour :)

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Shop Your Own Closet Challenge - Round 2

{Top: James Perse; Shorts: cut from romper; Shoes: Sam Edelman; Nails: OPI Lucky, Lucky Lavendar}
Oh guys I'm just not feeling it this week.  I'm going to chock it up to summer because I don't have much other explanation for the lack of zeal to blog this week.  And I wanted to really compose a well written post about the cheetah romper that turned into a pair of shorts and a top with the magic of scissors, but when I started to write about it, I realized it's nothing all too exciting.  I basically just took something from my closet that I no longer liked as a whole and gave it a little transformation by cutting it in 2.

This romper was part of my Shop Your Own Closet Challenge from back in May.  So far I've transformed 2 of the pieces from the challenge (you can see the denim jacket transformation here).   Scroll down to the bottom to see the piece as a romper and a top.  I hope everyone's enjoying their summer so far.  With exactly 2 weeks to go before Taylor starts 1st Grade, we're all feeling a bit rushed and anxious to make the most of summer.  Off to go do that right now in fact :)

Linking up with Lindsey for WIWW &
Worn as a top in a P&L post just a few weeks back
 And worn in a P&L post last year; the original romper that I hacked into
Happy Hump Day!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Thoughts of the Week - Giving Up the Bean

I gave up coffee this week.  I can't really say I've given up caffeine because I'm surviving off of green tea and iced tea, but for all intents and purposes, my regular 2-3 cup a day coffee habit has been kicked to the curb.  I'm not gonna lie, it's been painful.  I've been exhausted and stabby.  I've continued to exercise but even that usual endorphin rush hasn't done much for my energy levels.  Neither have these green smoothies.  "Try a green smoothie for a pick-me-up in the afternoon."  Total BS.  They do taste good though.  I put a bunch of spinach, some swiss chard if I have enough in my garden, and just whatever fruit I have in the kitchen.  This one has some leftover figs from Saturday night, strawberries and frozen mango.  I've also started using coconut water instead of orange juice to make it a bit cleaner.

Many people have inquired why I've given up caffeine (as a side note, I've also given up red meat but that's another story).  Well, the simple answer is it gives me heartburn.  The not so-simple answer is that I hate having to "need" something every morning.  I hate not feeling like I can function without it.  And you know what else, it makes me feel old!  I remember growing up seeing my parents HAVE to have their morning coffee everyday and I would think "Poor old people, can't even function without coffee, I'll never be that way, I have natural energy."  Oh how smug we are in our youth.  But here I am, so desperate for coffee I'll drive through Shell gas station to grab some cheap ass coffee because I think I need it.  I know it sounds silly but I've never claimed to be rational.  I have decaffeinated in the house for the mornings when I just want the taste of it, and of course I'll still enjoy a Peet's latte every now and then, but I want to drink it because I enjoy it, not because I have to have it.  Make sense?  

Anyhow, enough about my coffee addiction.  Here's a few other pics from our week that helped me not be so stabby :)
From the top:
1. Tomatoes from the garden (Russian Red, Beefsteak and Cherry)
2. Beet Greens also from the garden, sauteed with mushrooms, EVOO & garlic.  Excellent healthy side dish tossed with quinoa or couscous.
3. A twist on the usual spin art; we added small pebbles to make the paint splatter and spread in different patterns.
4. I continue to play with the mantel but I think I've settled on a display I like; just had to move some things around in the house that I already owned.
5. & 6. Beach day with some of our cousins. 

Have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Frozen Bananas

Growing up in Southern California, we had prime pickings of theme parks to adventure to during the summer.  We never had "annual passes" to any of them and now as a grown up I can appreciate that.  It made the once a year trip to each park that much more special; I could hardly sleep the night before.  The rides were of course always exciting, but I loved the snacks almost just as much.  Funnel Cakes & Montezuma's Revenge always belonged to Knott's Berry Farm, Frozen Lemonades and Colossal always belonged to Magic Mountain, and Frozen Bananas and Space Mountain belonged to Disneyland alone.

After years of loving bananas, my 6 year old daughter is now on a "I hate bananas" kick.  She despises them with a passion, dry heaving each time her 4 year old brother eats one in her presence.  He of course loves them and it sometimes makes snack time more filled with drama than it ever needs to be.  Nostalgic for my childhood's past the other day, I decided that a chocolate covered frozen banana should help the girl change her views on bananas.  Covered in rainbow sprinkles could of course only help seal the deal right?
Nothing fancy was involved, just some ripe yet still firm bananas chopped in half, dark chocolate chips melted over a double broiler, and some toppings of course.
Rolling the chocolate covered bananas in the toppings proved to be a messy affair, so I just started sprinkling them on top after the first try, which worked much better.  Then popped them in the freezer for at least 3-4 hours and you're done. 
Turns out the girl was not converted.  Smart little thing that she is, she simply plucked off the frozen sprinkle covered chocolate pieces bit by bit...
...and did not eat a single piece of banana ;)
Gotta hand it to her, the girl sticks to her guns.

*the Popsicle sticks are from this set here

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Playgrounds & Lollipops - Rules & Myths

{Blouse: Zara; Shorts: Forever 21; Shoes: Sam Edelman; 
Necklace: Stella & Dot; Watch: Michael Kors; Bracelet: J. Crew; Nails: Lucky Lucky Lavendar by OPI}
I must have been about 8 when I experienced my first lesson in fashion rules and myths.  It was early summer here in Southern California, still a bit breezy and chilly but just warm enough to wear a pair of shorts comfortably.  I slipped on a pair of khaki shorts and paired it with my favorite (and only) Lacoste sweater.  My mom, the bank teller, was ever patient with finding the best sales and managed to score me a white loose weave knit sweater with beautiful primary colored stripes.  We could have never afforded it at full price, but I didn't care.  I LOVED it!  I was a preppy girl's dream.  I think I even sported a pair of knee high socks with the outfit.  I bounced out of the house, ready for my Silver Spoons audition, happy as can be.

My sister, 9 years my elder, abruptly stopped me and declared, "You can't wear a sweater with shorts!  It's summer time, you don't wear sweaters in summer."  But why I begged?  I'm not hot, why can't I wear it?  Thoughts raced through my head; if I really can't wear it until Fall, the primary colors will look all wrong amongst the burnt siennas and emerald greens of the season.  Even at 8 I had figured out there was a color theme to the seasons.  I was heartbroken.  Looking back this all seems very dramatic and silly, but at 8 everything is dramatic isn't it?

There are still countless fashion rules and myths that we hear on a daily basis and have been somehow emblazoned into our minds as law: You can only wear white after Memorial Day and not after Labor Day.  White shoes make your feet look big.  Short girls can't wear maxis.  Black and brown don't mix.  Pleated pants hide a pooch.  And as with this outfit, horizontal stripes make you look, you know, the "F" word.  Well I say, "Screw the rules!"

Wear what you love, what makes you feel good, not what some myth or rule or trend tells you to wear.  It's your body, and it's your money.  When I saw these shorts it was love at first sight.  I loved the bold stripe, the neutral color palette and the sophisticated waistline.  It also didn't hurt that they were $14.  Yes, the age-old fashion rule about horizontal stripes immediately popped into my head, but sometimes you gotta just ignore those voices in your head and go with your gut.    

So tell me, do you abide by the rules or are you a rule breaker?  Linking up to Lindsey's WIWW
*I played around with the Pioneer Woman's Action Sets on these photos, using Lovely and Ethereal on all of them.  They were really easy and user friendly to use and you can download them here.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

A Short List

Our summer list is small this year consisting of only 7 items, 2 of which are things we can do at home.  It's only our 2nd time composing a list, but I think going forward I'd like to always limit the list to no more than a few items.  A small list allows for days where there's nothing better than to just have a friend over and share popsicles on the front lawn.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Easy Summer Entertaining

I really do love to entertain, but quite honestly, it makes me a nervous wreck.  I can think of very few events I've hosted that did not in the end, give me hives and turn me into a lunatic an hour before start time.  I'm trying to change that though by taking on less, preparing easier dishes and not fretting about how spotless my floors are.  What I'm finally learning at the age of 35 is that as long as you light a few candles, add a simple flower arrangement, and have plenty of good food and wine to drink, your guests really won't care how clean (or dirty) your floors are and if you have holes in your wall that need patching (although some may ask) ;)  Also crucial is to wear a smile when you open the door to greet them.  There's nothing more unsettling to a guest than having the hostess greet you with a frenzied look of panic on her face.  I speak from experience.

Saturday night Rachel and Jules came over and since they both stayed out past their bed time, I'm guessing they had a good time.  I know I did.  I always assume my friends enjoy food as much as I do, so once we'd established a date and time for our get together, the topic of conversation quickly turned to food.  They each brought something to share and between it all, you'd thought we were feeding an army.  We kept the dishes simple and light with a balance of both sweet and savory, focusing on fresh in season fruits and veggies, details below...

Vegetable Platter: heirloom tomatoes, baby sweet peppers, celery, french green beans & mushrooms with a zucchini hummus for dipping.  The hummus recipe I use is very similar to this one.

Cheese Platter: Herbed goat cheese, Double Cream Brie & Manchego with honey roasted figs & prosciutto.  I tried a new cracker from Trader Joes; Rosemary Raisin Crisps and they were delicious.  

Spicy Watermelon Salad: Inspired by an appetizer we ate during our PTA Moms Gone Wild night, I've been recreating this salad by mixing cubed watermelon, heirloom tomatoes and baby seedless cucumbers together with the juice of 1 lime and a few dashes of sea salt and cayenne pepper.  A refreshing salad for warm summer nights. 

Jules brought me those beautiful avocados that included a hand selected quote for me.  Jules loves a pretty package and she has inspired me to amp up my next hostess gift, something I'm really not very good at.  She also added this salad from Better Homes & Garden which was delicious and Rachel brought a Parmesan beer bread that was the perfect balance of sweet and savory.  For dessert, again I kept it light and simple by putting out dark chocolate, craisins & almonds and these Hail Merry raw Macaroons, which are incredible.  I am just about running out of adjectives to describe the food so I will end it here.  I hope your weekend was filled with both a mix of sweet and savory.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Playgrounds & Lollipops - Maxis For Everyone

{Top: Refashioned from a romper; Tank & Maxi Skirt: James Perse; Sandals: Sam Edelman; 
Necklace: DIY by me; Watch: Michelle; Bracelets: Forever 21}
While this look isn't exactly the most bright and cheerful of summer looks, sometimes nothing feels better than a bit of black, especially for a breezy night at the Hollywood Bowl.  We went to our first Summer Concert Series at the Bowl on Sunday and I wanted to feel comfortable and stay warm.  This soft maxi skirt served the purpose perfectly.  This isn't the typical flowy maxi skirt that I'm used to wearing; it has more of a mermaid feel to it, so I always layer it with a long tank for a bit of coverage.

Before we get off the subject of maxi skirts and dresses, can I just tell you something?  It drives me crazy when petite girls say they can't wear maxi skirts and/or dresses.  YES YOU CAN!  Maxis elongate the frame and actually make you look even taller.  I promise!  In fact I think maxis sometimes look EVEN better on petite girls.  I actually have a difficult time finding ones that are long enough for me and they end up looking like a faux maxi.  In fact I have to wear this skirt super low so that it will trail on the ground just a bit.  Bottom line, petite girls, don't always rule out the maxi.
Let's move onto the leopard top.  Anyone remember it from my Shop Your Own Closet Challenge I started a couple months back?  I chopped that sucker in half and landed up with a perfect little layering top.  I'll reveal a bit more of how I hemmed the edges and pinned the back on Monday's post.  I'm really happy with how both the top and shorts turned out.

Linking up with Pretty Shiny Sparkly's Bloggers Do It Better Maxi Challenge


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