life is always about the journey...

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

It's Fall Y'all!


Hi all...hope you are having a great Tuesday!  Thought I'd do a little catch up and share some Fall pics of my patio and a couple of my son & his girlfriend at Homecoming with you case you missed some of them on Facebook ;)

This past Saturday was Homecoming for my son & his girlfriend. They decided to have dinner out on our patio because neither one likes fussy foods or crowds of people....and they asked for...wait for it.....PIZZA...hahahaha!  So I made salads and ordered the pizza they wanted but decided to make the "setting" a bit nicer.  Plus it was time to decorate the patio for fall as well.

Normally I have the dining table outside of the cabana but if its inclement weather or chilly we will move it over in front of the fireplace.  Thankfully it was fabulous weather but its always fun to change things up too.  So we moved the couch and chairs out of the way and put the table in front of the fireplace.

We like this setup for parties as well when the weather permits...spreads the furniture around into little seating groups and opens up the patio more.

A lot of my color schemes inside and outside fit well for summer and fall. In the fall I add more orange & rust tones to warm it up a bit.

A little bit of fall fun for the bar area too...I love the mini hay barrels you can find at most craft stores. I keep them OUTSIDE only because they can be messy.  I don't buy many large pumpkins anymore now that the kids are older...I have a few faux ones and get 2 for the front porch only.  I don't carve them anymore and the prices per lb have gone up so much in past 15 years too.  So I stick to the minis mostly which I love.

After the kids left, the hubs and I had homemade pizzettas and salad and then moved the furniture back around and built a roaring fire.  This is the setup we use when we have the TV out there..mostly to watch our sports of course.  But its like a second family room to us when the weather can find us out there most evenings.

And who doesn't love candlelight?  I have candles EVERYWHERE, I just love it and the warmth of the light it gives.

Paddywax Candles Apothecary Tobacco and Patchouli
 Speaking of fall candles...this is one of my faves to burn for fall...smells like an old camp fire mixed with a bit of tobacco...reminds me of fall evenings.  And its soy so it burns clean and for a long time...and the apothecary bottle is just too cool!

My son Riley who will be 17 in less than 5 months...sigh...why do they have to grow up?
But he's so handsome (says the momma) and on his way to becoming a fine, young man..I'm just so proud of him.  And he cleans up good right?  Anytime I can get him out of baseball caps & athletic wear is exciting for me LOL!

And his girlfriend Rachel (his 1st 'real' girlfriend) is just too cute for words.  She may be the female twin of my son that's for sure...she loves sports, hates fussy things, loves sweats and kicked her heels off as soon as we were done with pictures hahaha!  They had a blast at Homecoming, Riley even danced and said it was one of the best evenings of his basically a success.
I get one more Homecoming before this kid is off to college....I'm not looking forward to that empty nest thing that's for sure!


Thursday, September 25, 2014

Sticking It Out.....

Happy Thursday folks---

I'm sick with a nasty head cold...blah...I blame Kip Moore since he said he was sick on Friday night...and my mom is sick too. I HATE COLDS...nothing nice about them.  But I have been working through the pain and working out everyday but Monday (needed 1 rest day).

Here are my motivational quotes/signs for the week that are in various places around my house where I can see them regularly.  Thought they might give you a boost as well & a laugh...which is always good!

pretty much the truth...however as a woman & mom we know that
it doesn't matter because life goes on...unlike when a man gets a cold...hahaha!


Monday, September 22, 2014


HAPPY MONDAY! Hope you had a blast this past weekend!  We've had some gorgeous fall weather and the windows have wide open for past couple of weeks.

We had a blast at the Fair on Friday night and seeing Kip Moore...beautiful weather, good entertainment and hanging with the family = good times, every time!

Riley & his best friend Tariq....they ate their way thru the fair while we were at concert LOL!

Yup I was able to drag my mom to front of stage & about an inch away from Kip Moore after concert (that's her profile in the pic hehe). She's probably his biggest fan and I'm surprised she didn't faint hahaha...he always puts on a good show!


I'm on Week 3 and hope to rack up a few more lost pounds by end of week.  I'm already starting to feel stronger and my stamina is gathering strength so I love that!  And I've been under my alloted calories every day for 2 straight weeks...whoot whoot!  And working out 6 days a week along with my 10,000+ steps a day.  I love the ease of doing different workouts with Amazon Prime...keeps me from getting bored which is easy for me to do lol!


Here's the Week 3 Meal Plan as well....I love writing it out, having recipes pinned...easy to make my grocery list and have a plan every evening which makes it easy to stick to clean-eating :)  If any recipes have a (P) next to them they are pinned on my Pinterest board HERE if you need them.

On Cheat Dinners I keep them around 600-650 calories and watch what I eat the rest of the day so I don't go over my calorie allotment.

The Tuscan Chicken Skillet from last week was really yummy...I added a bit more fresh garlic, onions and a can of tomato paste to mine...num!!

Decorating for fall this week and this weekend is Homecoming for my son who is taking his girlfriend.  That means I am taking him shopping on Tuesday...pray for me...because it is NEVER easy buying or shopping for dress clothes for a boy who dresses for comfort 100% of the time ;)


Friday, September 19, 2014

Read It!!

Happy TGIFriday everyone!  
Today I'm headed off to the Frederick, MD fair with the fam and my mom.  My mom and I are seeing Kip Moore in concert (2nd row, center) tonight while the boys eat their way through the fair LOL!  We lived in Frederick for 10 years & their fair is one of the state's better fairs to attend if you get a chance.  Not to mention the concert line up they usually have.  My mom is slightly in love with Kip I know she's been looking forward to this. Feels funny to not have Alexa in concert mode with us!  The weather will be in low 70's so its perfect fair weather too!  Good time!


Anywho I thought I'd recommend a few good reads to everyone in case you need some books for the weekend!

An all around good read that will keep you turning pages to find the same answers as the main characters.  I really enjoyed this one a lot!
I'm a big fan of Cathy Lamb...all of her books have been incredibly enjoyable reads. And this one is no different...interesting story of a talented but troubled main character and a cast of unique & fun-loving friends to help her along the way.

A little bit of magic, a bit of drama, and an entirely engrossing story!
Love this one!

I'm not an overly religious person...meaning I don't believe in any one religion but I do believe in God.  Sometimes you read a book at just the right time in your life that does something for you that you didn't know you needed.  This book is an easy read, first in the series and just what I needed at the perfect time in my life

Enjoy your weekend everyone!


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Soup It Up!!

It's All About Flavor.....

Hi Folks!  Not gonna lie....I'm pretty excited for a multitude of reasons this week.  First my Washington Nationals clinched the NL East Division on Tues night in Atlanta...and it was such a sa-weeeet victory. The Dean family has our playoff tickets and we are ready to cheer them on in October!!

Secondly....I've lost 2.5 lbs in past 9 days of seriously working out everyday and watching what I eat. The Lose It app has been a revelation for me to keep track of fat & calories and I haven't had any cravings at all.  I feel full and satisfied after every meal or snack.  Now just 27.5 lbs left to go...its a long haul but I'm ready to do this!  I don't think you can ever get on a healthy path until you are TRULY ready...mind, body & soul or you won't be successful. For me I was beyond ready and excited to be getting healthy again.

Third...I made some French Onion Soup that will rock your world and then some hehehe.  It was so good we ate the leftovers for lunches in 2 days...I had to fight my son for a bowl lol.  I've been making this soup for years but could never get the depth of flavor I wanted like I've had in other restaurants. And trust me over the years I've probably taste-tested 400 different kinds so I knew what I was after.  WELL I DID IT....I had a revelation looking at a recipe I had pinned which called for similar things I used but with an made all the difference.  So I'm sharing with you all today!

Oh and best part....only 80 calories in a bowl...160 calories if you count a slice of low-fat Swiss Cheese and a slice of bread on top.  And its filling...can't beat that kind of meal!


French Onion Soup with Flavor Depth

Mmmmmm can you almost smell was sooooo good!


4-5 good sized Vidalia Onions sliced
2 TBS of butter
2-3 cloves of garlic diced/minced
1/2 cup of Worcestershire Sauce
1/4 cup of red wine
1/4 cup of Balsamic Vinegar (this was the difference in flavor folks)
1 TBS of brown sugar
1/2 TBS of Thyme dried powder or use fresh Thyme
Kosher Sea Salt & Black Pepper to taste
4 TBS of flour
64 onces of Beef Broth
Bread Slices
Low-Fat Swiss Cheese Slices


I cooked my soup in my Dutch Oven pot but if you aren't going to be home or want to simmer while at work..just follow Dutch Oven instructions in a pot then transfer to a Crock-Pot.

Put your sliced onions, butter, Balsamic Vinegar, Worcestershire Sauce, wine and garlic in pot or saute pan and cook till onions start to caramelize on med heat.  Add a shake of salt & pepper as they cook too.  This can take about 10-15 want them to cook slowly and not burn...burned onions equal yucky flavor.

**The Balsamic Vinegar made all the difference in the flavor I kid you not!**

Lower heat then add in the flour and stir well and cook for a few more mins.  I added another splash of Balsamic Vinegar & Worcestershire Sauce at this point too.  I cook to taste & rarely measure so please bear with me lol.

If you sauteed your onions in a pan, transfer them to a large pot and add your beef broth.  Stir well and keep on med/low heat.  Add your thyme and salt/pepper and simmer covered for at least an hour if not a couple of hours if you can.  Or cook on low/warm in Crock-Pot.  The longer it simmers the more flavor you create so cook it as long as you can...mine cooked about 5 hours.

Toast your bread/baguette slices, place on top of soup in your bowls...then top with 2 slices of cheese.
Broil in oven for a couple minutes until your cheese starts to bubble.  Make sure your bowls are oven proof. I put my bowls on a baking pan so they are easier to remove from the hot oven.

I served my soup with a side of fruit salad to finish off the meal!

Bon Appetit!!!

Soooo yummy!!!

When you have deep flavors in your food you don't miss all the other stuff including fat...makes the eating healthy experience enjoyable!!


Monday, September 15, 2014

Gettin' Healthy...

My Meal Plan for this week is below....I've pinned all the recipes onto my Pinterest Board "Lose Weight Recipes" in case you want to access any of them.  

Last week I stuck to the menu plan that I wrote up HERE except on Friday night when I went out for crab legs but I kept to my 600 calorie dinner plan thanks to the Lose It app.  Its been very eye opening to keep track of every single calorie that I put in my mouth.  So far I've had NO cravings, kept to the plan and feel good (minus my core muscles being REALLY sore lol).  I'm exercising 6 days a week with combined cardio, circuit training, weights and yoga on different days and getting my 10,000 steps in with my FitBit.


BTW....the mustard-maple glazed chicken recipe from last week was TOP NOTCH!
Really, really yummy and I cooked a whole pack of chicken tenderloins so I had the leftovers shredded in wraps for lunches. Mmmmm...making more this week too! Great flavor & low fat!


Just thought I'd share a few things that I do regularly and a few things I've added to my daily list to get healthy.

DVD WORKOUTS: If you are a member of Amazon Prime then you can take advantage of Prime Instant Video if you haven't already.  There are 100's of workout videos you can stream for FREE...yup for FREE instead of buying the DVDs. They range from Jillian Michaels, to yoga, to aerobics and if you are like me and like to mix it up to prevent boredom, this is an awesome thing.  I've been streaming different yoga videos right thru my SmartTV but you can also just stream them on your laptop, ipad or phone if you want.  The Jillian Michaels Power Yoga will kick your butt...3 different levels and you will sweat like a pig LOL. I'm mixing it in with regular stretching yoga a few times a week.

**TIP--Jillian Michaels Shred for Beginners is only $3.99 to stream online. I chose to do that for 10 days because I'm coming off of surgeries and illness and can't just jump into her regular DVDs like I have in the past. This one is great for anyone that has been ill, recovering physically or just getting started.  You only need a set of light hand weights to get started. And for under $4 you can access it whenever you want...cheaper than buying the DVD.

My fave DVDs when I want to get in shape are by Jillian Michaels but I've added some Tracy Anderson workouts in too. I'm using the Abcentric Metamorphosis series by her because I tend to add weight to my middle...she has others for other body types too.  Her beginning video is good to start with and EASE you into it all.  For her videos you need ankle & wrist weights.  I try to get in 45-60 mins of mixed exercise 6 days a week...with 1 rest day.

PUT ON WORKOUT CLOTHES as soon as you get up....that is if you have nowhere to be. I don't wear my workout clothes to run errands, not my style but it may be your's and that's ok. But I know if I put on my workout clothes it helps a lot...I don't have to run upstairs to get dressed and make excuses about why I don't have time.  If I can't find 35-45 mins a day to workout even if I break it up into 2 workouts that day....then I have to re-evaluate how I'm managing my time.  So I aim to do 45 mins of workout a day and then a 30 min walk every night at a brisk pace.  So far so good....

VITAMINS & SUPPLEMENTS:  These are things I take every day whether I'm seriously working out or not.  I have a weeklong pill case that I fill up each Sunday and take them during the day..makes it easy on me to just flip it open and take what I need each day.
What Do I Take:
-Prenatal Vitamins instead of Multi-Vitamin (my dr recommended I use these for a year & NOT because I'm no
-Vit D
-Slow-Fe Iron (slow release)
-Vit C with rose hips
-Flaxseed Oil
-DHA Omega 3 Complex
-Calcium w/ Magnesium

WEIGHT LOSS APPS - If you have an iPad/Tablet or Smartphone take advantage of the free apps out there.  I reviewed a lot before I settled on two...I'm using Lose It to track my foods/calories/exercise and set goals and I ended up buying the premium part of the app for $39 for the year to sync with my FitBit.  It helps calculate how many calories a day I can can barscan foods, enter restaurant foods, etc...then you can enter how much exercise you did that day.  I like to see exactly where I am and what I need to do.  You can also enter competitions like "lose 3 lbs by Columbus Day".  If I stay on track I am supposed to (haha we hope) reach my weight goal by Christmas...lawdy...the holidays are sooo hard though...gotta keep it straight LOL!  MyFitnessPal I'm using mostly for syncs with the FitBit...sets goals for you and more.

MOTIVATIONAL MESSAGES - Every now and again I will try and share my Motivational Print-Outs I'm hanging around the house.  Sometimes its that one message, that one mantra or saying that helps you stay on course or get motivated.  I'm a big believer in the power of WORDS. My first ones are HERE if you want to use them too.  The quote above is my most FAVORITE of them I ordered myself this workout top to remind myself every step of the way.

SMOOTHIES - I'm a big fan of smoothies but I try to keep them to only 1-2 a week.  Make sure that what you put in them is the purest and freshest you can get if you can.  I add some organic protein powder in mine and use Greek Yogurt as a base.  I stick to mostly fruit but I will add a scoop of organic peanut butter every now and again.

SNACKS - One of my favorite snacks is frozen white grapes in snack baggies with yogurt chips.  I make the yogurt chips myself....put your favorite yogurt (Greek for me) in a baggie with corner snipped off or Pastry Bag and squeeze small circles onto a baking pan lined with wax paper.  Then pop into freezer until frozen and add to your snack bags.  Makes a cool and healthy snack.

I also like peanut butter on bananas, Lara bars, a single string cheese, and cucumber & onion salad with balsamic vinegar helps cure a salty tooth.  If I'm craving potato chips (which are a downfall for me) I will go ahead and have 3-4...I take them out of the bag, count them and put the bag back. Usually just that small taste of chips is enough for me to be fine. I don't believe in NONE at all...I'd rather have a wee taste then think about it all day and be miserable. I don't operate well that way. And a small slice of angel cake has only 60 calories and 0.22% of fat in it,  so if you need something light & sweet, this is a good way to go.  I've cut most of the sugar from my diet but I still have a bit because I wasn't interested in going full out this time...but I try to keep it to just a couple times of week.

WATER - I drink a glass of water with lemon BEFORE every meal and snack, then drink more water during my meal. It fills you up so you don't overeat or want to grab more snacks.  I use a half of lemon in my water all day...I can't drink it all in one glass so instead I add a bit to every glass I drink.

Secrets of Lemon added to your water you may not know:
-Vit C boosts your immune system
-Aids digestion
-Helps flush toxins out of your system, stimulates your liver
-Antioxidants help keep breath fresh & skin clear
-Helps remove uric acid from your joints & helps with inflammation
-Helps fight hunger pangs

BRUSH YOUR TEETH - if you really, really have a craving & feel yourself caving...go brush your teeth with the mintiest of toothpastes.  Nothing tastes good with a fresh toothpaste mouth..guaranteed. Use this as needed ;)

TAKE A WALK-- I will take my dogs on a nice walk, come back and drink some water and usually whatever I wanted to eat isn't on my mind any more...gotta do what it takes and I have a really BAD sweet tooth sometimes. Although I haven't really found myself craving very much lately so that's a good thing!

And NEVER go in the grocery store hungry....never fix dinner when you're starving either...bad bad bad stuff happens LOL!

Have a good tip to share?  Let me know, because I'm all ears!!


Friday, September 12, 2014

A Touch of Gold

I saw these fabulous jewelry boxes on the web earlier this year at House of Earnest and knew they'd make great high school graduation presents for my daughter's BFFs.  Classy & elegant with gold accents look beautiful on anyone's dresser or nightstand.  I added monograms and polka-dots to mine to make them a bit different.

These are very inexpensive to make and you can customize each one, so they make great Christmas presents for the upcoming holiday season.  I'm actually making one for myself just to keep on my living room table as a pretty accent.

I wanted to add more gold detail other than just lining the top & bottom I added freehanded gold polka dots just along the bottom of the jewelry box. 

Supplies I Used:

I think the total for my supplies for 2 boxes was under $16...that's with a coupon at Michaels on frames and non-skid pads.  I had the paint pen and vinyl already.

acrylic box frames (I used 5x7) from Michaels
Gold Paint Pen (or any color you choose)
small gold hinges with screws
clear vinyl stick-on non-skid pads
drill & bit
vinyl in any color

I used gold vinyl cut with my Cameo and monograms from the Silhouette store to add to the front of each.  I went with a simple one letter monogram with swirls on each side...I liked the look of them.  And the oval around the monogram was done using an oval metal die that I traced around with my gold pen.

**A little tip....while you are drilling cover the frames with tissue paper just to protect them from getting scratched.  Tape it on with some painters or stencil tape and then drill. And use the painters tape to line up where you want your hinges & screws like in the tutorial, it will help**

You could of course buy a pre-made vinyl monogram if you don't have access to a cutting machine like the Cameo.  You can find lots of them for sale on Etsy for under $5 a piece in many colors and fonts.

Along with the jewelry boxes each girl got a pair of Kate Spade signature bow earrings in different colors...a gift that will carry them through college and beyond. Stylish, elegant and classy just like the girls :)

EDITED:  about the screws...I found clear caps at Home Depot that fit over the ends nicely...the screws don't cut well because they are shorter.  If these will be purely decorative and not opened much you could attach hinges with a glue like E6000.  When I post Alexa's you will see a very different take on these with NO stay tuned.

So pretty and easy to make....if you want larger ones you could go with a larger sized frame too.
And use different paint pens to make colored versions...I'm making a colored one now that I will share later too that's a bit different from these.

I love how the gold catches the light....definitely will be making one for myself soon!

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