Thursday, February 27, 2014

My Weight Loss Journey Part I

I used to skate. That's right, I used to rollerskate. Every weekend, mostly every Wednesday night and sometimes even during the week when I wasn't in school and they were open. I skated for like 8 years , a massive portion of my life. It was my thing, and I was good at it...really good at it. It was my escape from reality, and the place where I built a non related family.
Most of all, it was the best exercise for my body and my health. I wasn't always the healthiest eater and at a young age I became obsessed with soda, specifically Coca Cola. Skating allowed me to eat or drink whatever I wanted as long as I spent the majority of my time rolling around the rink and sweating my booty off. It was one of those excersises that wasn't forced it was fun and I maintained and kept off unneeded weight from my body. I continued skating up until the end of my senior year in high school. I just lost interest and the second family of friends stopped going which really pulled the fun out of it. That's when I started slowly putting on the weight. I hated going to the gym and nothing or nobody was going to stop me from drinking my beloved coke. So pounds and pounds later and a few years later the weight kept piling on. Luckily I carry weight pretty well, I still have a lot of the muscle I collected during skating for many years and It takes me a lot of time to gain weight. But I wasn't happy with myself, so I started pushing myself and calorie counting and all that jazz, about a few months before I found out I was pregnant. I lost about 15 pounds and I was feeling great and accomplished and then a plus sign on a stick turned all my progress back around. I let myself go.
Being pregnant took a huge toll on my body and spirit. I had major sciatic problems because Lola was sitting on a nerve that prevented me for standing long periods of time and transformed me into a limping freak for the whole duration or my pregnancy. I don't know if it was the lack of self control, or the fact that my cravings got the best of me, but I gained and gained and gained.
Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos I hit 212 pounds the day I was sent to the hospital for high blood pressure. Lola was born that night and I had lost a lot of it once she was out. A week passed and after attempting to breast feed and pumping I had got back down to 188. As I've mentioned before breast feeding never worked out for us and that sent me spiraling down into a pit of guilt. All the changes that came with having a baby and beating myself up too much for not feeling like I was good enough threw me back into the loss of self control category. So I ate really bad food and sucked down soda like it was nobody's business. I was unstoppable and literally loss all care in what I was putting in my body.
When Lola was about five months old I started feeling nauseas every single day, all day long. I was exhausted all the time and just felt miserable. I can't tell you how many time I feared I was pregnant again. I avoided the scale and I avoided the idea of making meals and quitting soda. I figured It was just a thing and it would pass. It never passed, it just increasingly got worse.
One morning I had enough and I got up and got directly onto the scale. I was 202. I had hit an all time low. I no longer could blame pregnancy on being overweight, the only person to blame was myself and my choices. Like I said, I let myself go.
That day changed my life around. I went straight to fridge and dumped every thing that was terrible for me especially the 2 liters of coke went straight down the drain. It was a Tuesday and ever since that day I haven't had a soda since. I decided that day that calorie counting wasn't going to get me far I just had to be reasonable with my choices of food and minimize my portions. I decided that coke was my enemy and water was my friend. Whenever I got a craving for soda I would simply drink green tea...not diet just regular. Diet anything is a no no in my plan to lose weight.
A week went by and then another and things got easier. The hardest moments were when we had friends over and sodas would be consumed around me or when Ryan and I would go out to eat and he would order a soda. But I got over it and became empowered by the people around me putting horrible chemicals in their bodies. I felt good...and now I feel great.
It's been a month and I've lost 6 whole pounds. I'm down to 196 and I know I know it's not much, but it's a lot for somebody that has never given up soda and doesn't even include exercise into my plan. Eventually I intend on walking every other day, but for now I'm focusing on one thing at a time. I noticed that the other times I've "dieted," I threw myself into it like a whirlwind and I felt restricted and trapped. Which in turn forced me to give up easily. So I spent the last month quitting soda, now I have no urge for one AT ALL. I have defeated one thing, now it's about time I defeat my hatred for excersise.

Monday, February 24, 2014

A Date with Freedom

In honor of the debut of my extremely ugly, but lovely at the same time drivers license... I decided to take the car for the day on Friday for the very first time. This is a whopping big deal for me because I've never really had that form of freedom in my very own hands, like leaving at any moment and being one with the road (of course working around a 7 month old's naps). I felt like a 16 year old taking their parents car to school for the first time, it really doesn't lose it's novelty honestly. Getting my license even at the age of 21 is still just as exciting, as it would have been 5 years ago. And it's even better now because Lola and I get to jam out together. I get way overly excited about the mommy and daughter days that are yet to come.

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos
So we started our day off taking Ryan to work. His bread warehouse is in Pinellas Park so it's about a 20 minute drive. Lola and I were in our jammies still because why not? And I was thoroughly enjoying the extra time I got to see Ryan while the sun was rising up ahead. After dropped him off I thought it was only nessecary that I stopped at the nearest Dunkin Donuts to grab a latte to start our fun filled adventure.
Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos
Then we spent the rest of our morning pretty normal, catching up on laundry, dishes and learning to crawl. Makes for an eventful morning. Which in turn makes for a sleepy nappy Lola. And she did just that, knocked out while I stared lovingly at the car sitting outside our apartment window. So close, yet so far. (Lola loves sleeping, I'm sure I've mentioned that before).
She finally woke up and had a bottle and we were off to visit Grandma at work for lunch. She works at an elementary school (the one that I attended to be exact). It was a windy day out and a bit cloudy, but that didn't stop us and definitely didn't stop the giggles from being belted out. We chatted and Lola got uber amounts of attention from just about everybody and I reminisced about being that little kid walking "single file," through the halls. Oh the innocent days.
Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos
Ryan got done early that day so we were off to pick him up from the warehouse. It rained and Lola napped the whole way there. Which was pleasant in every little bit for the both of us.
We scooped up Ryan and headed home, and later I took the car out once again because the weather was screaming for me to bake something delicious.
Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos
Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos So Ryan got to have some daddy daughter time and I had some time to myself...for a change. It was nice and this new freedom is so cherished even if I don't get to keep the car everyday.
There are so many things that make life easier with a car and my license, like being able to drive to school when it starts back up. I also plan on opening up my availability for a night shift at work to make a little extra money. And just the oppurtunity to leave at any given moment and take Lola on hundreds of adventures is so well worth it. I think I'm happy that it took this long because now I cherish such a small everyday thing more than any average person would.
The power of freedom and transportation in a big city can be a really big deal.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Dueling Birthdays and Road tests

I know I've mentioned time and time again that this family is huge...like hot air balloon huge...like skyscraper huge. So when it comes to birthdays it's like a weekly process. One after another after another after another. And it just so happens that the majority of everybody's birthdays reside from December to April. And then there's the stragglers like myself that are out in the middle of no where (aka: the month of May). So there's at least one birthday a month, but the months of January and February are especially jam packed.
This past weekend we celebrated Stephanie's birthday and then on Tuesday night we celebrated Kyle's birthday. On Saturday night Ryan and I rushed home from work to start decorating our house with mismatched kid birthday decor while I started baking the most wonderful cake I've ever ever ever baked (which I will be sharing later this week). We had cheetah print birthday banners, zebra print streamers, a Monsters Inc. table cloth and nothing would make this party more ridiculous without My Little Pony birthday crowns. All perfect for a 22 year old's birthday party right? Well in our world it works. I got this clever idea to use a tub of frosting that was snow cone flavored on my absolutely perfect cake...but that was a total flop...NEVER AGAIN. So needless to say when she blew out the candles we cut into the cake and dug out all the good stuff, leaving the disgusting frosting behind. It was totally worth it.

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos For Stephanie's birthday Ryan and I got her a gigantic waffle iron so we thought the best way to break it in was to have a breakfast for dinner waffle party for Kyle on Tuesday night to celebrate yet another birthday. So that's exactly what we did.
And man did our house smell amazing. And this time we made the same amazing cake and transformed it into a mustache with cookies and cream frosting which was to die for. A much better choice. Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos So with all the birthday bonanza aside, I must announce that I FINALLY received my drivers license. This is a big whopping deal considering the fact that I'm 21 years old. I probably dreamed about this moment for years and then finally my dreams just diminished and I just dealt with the fact that I was always going to be the passenger or I was going to go get a horse and ride it around town. I also developed a sort of fear of the day that I would take the test because I waited so long and the anticipation was gigantic. But I ended up defeating my fear and now I finally have the freedom I've needed for so long. I will not be revealing the license because I look a hot mess, because while everyone's enduring a snow storm around the US, Florida is making me sweat and resulting in a hot hot mess, which equals a really bad license picture. But it's done and I'm a happy camper. Now time to rest because the last few days have been hectic and I need to pop all these balloons scattered through out my house.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Tarty but Sweet Raspberry Heart shaped Hand Pies

Valentine's Day has never been a huge deal to Ryan and I as a couple. Our anniversary is 4 days before it because we couldn't wait 4 more days to have a "cutesy" anniversary date. That doesn't mean that we don't overload each other in the lovey holiday. I know everyone says that valentines day is lame and just an excuse to get fat off of too much chocolate and to feel loved for just one day. Well, I think all of that is crap, because I feel loved each and every day and we still spoil each other with too much chocolate and kisses. I mean, that's like saying if you already have enough stuff you don't technically "need" christmas gifts every single year. A holiday is a holiday for a reason, and why not celebrate one full day of just plain good old fashioned love?
Well that's what we did, in our own way of course. I decided I would bake Ryan something because all my heart goes into my baking and this time I mean it in the most literal way. 
Oozing Heart shaped raspberry hand pies....absolute heaven I tell you. But I think you might just have to see for yourself. Although Cupid has shut his doors for the year, that doesn't mean you can't bake these lovelies for any ol' day for your special somebody. I mean everyone wants raspberry pie goodness in the shape of a heart...right?
I also used my crumbly flaky pie crust recipe that I shared a few months back right here when I made caramel apple mini hand pies. It works wonders and it's probably the only pie crust recipe I will ever use because it's so simple. Now that your dough is ready to go, let's get started on that tarty, but sweet filling!


Raspberry Heart Shaped hand pies

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

Make the dough here

Ingredients for the filling:

  • About 2 cups frozen raspberries
  • 4 tablespoons of sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • A squeeze of half a lemon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • A pinch of salt
  • Egg wash for coating the crust (1 egg + 1 tablespoon of water)
  • Sanding sugar (I used red and white colored sugar)
  • Cutesy adorable heart shaped cookie cutters
Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos
Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos
Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

Making the filling:

  1. Thaw out the raspberries pretty good before starting. Then drain them well and rinse a tiny bit.
  2. Pour the raspberries, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and cornstarch into a small bowl. Crush the raspberries but not fully so it stays chunky as well. 
  3. Grate your lemon and cut it in half and squeeze the juice out of it into your raspberry mixture. Set bowl aside.
  4. Now that your dough has set and been rolled out, take your heart shaped cookie cutters and make as many hearts as your little heart desires, but make sure it's an even number so you have a top and bottom for each hand pie.
  5. Lay your hearts onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and scoop a little bit of filling onto each one, it's okay if they ooze out a little. Now place your heart lids on top of each heart.
  6. With a fork press around the sides just pinching everything in place.
  7. Make the egg wash and brush a little onto each heart. Now take a knife and make slits into the center to let em' breathe. Sprinkle a little sanding sugar on top to make them shine and sparkle.
  8. Place your hearts in a preheated 425 degree oven and play the waiting game for about 20-30 minutes or until they are golden brown on the tops, but not too brown!
  9. Take them out and serve with ice cream or whipped cream whichever you prefer and give your heart shaped goodness to the one you love the most. No matter what day it may be.
Happy Hearty Baking!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Thursday, February 13, 2014

My Go To Muffin Recipe

The other night my friend Stephanie and I thought that our painting night wouldn't be complete without a nice big bunch of homemade blueberry muffins. A few months back we were actually both in this same situation trying to find the perfect blueberry muffin recipe, so it was pinterest to the rescue! Thanks to Joy the Baker we finally we came up with the most mouthwatering blueberry muffins we have ever tasted, and with a few pats on the back we felt accomplished. So the other night we brought forth the sacred recipe and decided to get creative. We added some raspberries into the mix. Which was absolute genius I must say. While my house became infused with blueberry raspberry goodness we started conjuring up all these other elements that could get thrown into these muffins. Cranberry orange, strawberry, lemon poppy seed...the options are endless. Today I went out of the box a teeny bit and threw in some chocolate chips. One of the best decisions I've ever had. It's like bye bye fruity goodness, hello chocolatey goodness. So it's a fact, this muffin is the all around muffin, whether you wanna go super sweet, fruity, savory...this muffin has got your back! Want the recipe? Well of course you do, and please please embed this thing in your head because it is THE go to muffin for any occasion.
Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

For the Muffins:

  • 7 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • About 2 cups of whatever fruit or munchie you would love to add (blueberries, raspberries, lemon zest, cranberries, chocolate chips etc. GET CRAZY)

For the oh so crumbly topping:

  • 3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons sugar
Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

Instructions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees and line your muffin tin.
  2. Melt the 7 tablespoons of butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. When it's completely melted down wait for it to get a golden brown color, but do not burn it. Remember keep that baby on medium heat. Slow and steady. Once you see little speckles in the butter, like it's sizzling take it off the heat.
  3. While that's doing it's thing combine the milk, egg, egg yolk and vanilla in your stand mixer or medium sized bowl. Whisk it up a bit, but not too much just to combine.
  4. Next, add the browned butter to the milk mixture, whisk a little and set to the side.
  5. In a small bowl mix the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.
  6. If you're using your stand mixer keep it on the lowest setting and slowly pour your flour mixture into the milk and butter mixture. After about a minute stop mixing. (Do the same with a bowl and spoon). 
  7. Now the fun part, add in your mix ins! Just make sure that if you're using a fruit to gently fold them in to keep them in tact! But a little blueberry juice running down the top is decadent.
  8. Pour your muffin batter into each liner about 2/3 of the way full.

Making the crumbly topping:

  1. Place all the topping ingredients in a small bowl and with a fork or your hands scrunch it all up so it becomes kind of like a crumbly clay like texture. 
  2. Now sprinkle it bit by bit on each muffin and I always sprinkle a little bit of additional sugar on top of each muffin.


Happy Muffin Baking!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Horses and Downtown Tampa

Every year around our anniversary we always go on some sort of new adventure that we wouldn't normally do on a regular day. The first year we attended the Florida state fair and I shrieked on pretty much every ride with joy and we ate tons of fried everything. The second year was the year that Harry Potter world had been built at Universal and Island of Adventure so it was a must that we cheers to two years together with butter beer. Not to mention everything else the parks have to offer. We were in heaven, amusements parks = heaven. We also went to the annual Rennaisance festival and lived in the medieval times for a day (this was the day that a magician sawed me in half on stage...yes I was frantic). And then there was last year, the third year. We spent the day gazing at underwater friends at the Florida Aquarium and they had the freaking best chili cheese fries ever invented (yes I was pregnant, but they were amazing).
We look forward to these adventures every year, because our lives are already super crazy and adventurous as it is, but it's nice to just get away from it all and discover something new. This year, we decided to go horseback riding. Neither of us have rode horses before, and I'm going to tell you right now watching somebody ride a horse and actually riding one are two totally different things. Everybody makes it look so easy peezy! So we met our trail guide and our horses, I had Buffy and Ryan had Tootsie. And soon enough we set off into the wilderness, except for the fact that Buffy was all about doing her own thing and was not a follower. So there goes the trail guide, tootsie and Ryan and I'm kicking like a mad woman trying to get this horse to go. It was like pulling teeth people. Finally she decided that it was time and I caught up. Once we got further away from the ranch she started to warm up to me, but goodness was this horse stubborn. A horse after my own heart...
As we got deeper into the trail we started trotting and I was for sure I was going to fly off and get trampled by my stubborn horse, but Ryan and I balanced pretty good and it was a blast. Such an adrenaline rush, and we both couldn't help imagining we were in Game of Thrones heading to Kings Landing.
We will definitely be back.

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos
We waddled back to our car, thinking we would probably never feel our thighs ever again. We decided it was time to get some grub. We visited Downtown Tampa and walked around a bit to get the feeling back in our legs. We came upon a little pizza shop and it was love at first sight. I pretty much fell in love with the dough I could have probably just ordered their dough and been a happy camper. Afterwords we walked around a bit stumbled upon a chocolatier and I got the richest truffle I've ever had, it was like a chocolate explosion in my mouth. We also adventured around a bit and discovered the biggest bowling pin in the world, and a bowling alley right smack dab in downtown. So we definitely have plans on coming back as soon as possible.
Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos
So all in all it was a blast, just like every year because adventures with Ryan always are. I love adventuring through life with him and every year is always something new. And that's what I love the most about our relationship, we still know how to surprise each other even after four years. That, I know, will never change.

Monday, February 10, 2014

12/52

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos
*I think Elmo's foot was quite tasty on this day.

Four years

Today marks four whole years of love with Ryan. I think we both knew from the beginning that this was going to be a forever type thing. Even through everything we have been through, all the roads we have traveled...we knew. I fall in love more and more everyday with our past, present and future together. This year has begun a new chapter in our lives and has changed us and tugged us in so many different directions. I'm glad to say that we never actually needed a map to direct us where to go we just needed each other and the breeze and the sun to guide us.
This time last year I was just starting to bump out of my normal everyday clothing. The little one inside me was getting cozy and I was getting more and more uncomfortable. This is where Ryan came to the rescue. All the late night water calls, getting dessert after every meal (because it was the most important meal of the day), and massaging my tree trunk feet so I could feel them again. Oh, and not to mention shaving my legs because that was pretty impossible. He did it all, you name it. Especially putting up with my hormonal self. He has been my mountain to lean on this entire year.
Then we discovered the adventures of new parenthood. As I lay in my hospital bed, Ryan tended to Lola (cleaning up tar poop diapers, rapping to her when she was crying, going to the lobby and watching Cartoon Network with her while I got rest). I left the hospital in a tizzy with baby blues and worries, but you were there in the drivers seat telling me it was all going to be okay. And you've always been so sure, so I trusted you.
7 months later here we are. Parents and really freaking good ones at that. Time together is now spent with our daughter and our best friend, which may mean watching sprout hours on end and finding fun ways to play with her baby toys, but it's a blast. And then the minute she lays her head down at night, it's time for hgtv and food network marathons or whatever crazy stuff we can come up with.
This year with you has been monumentous. Every year has been, but this one takes the cake. Our relationship was tested and taken to another level. I love this chapter and all the ones before, but what I'm most excited for are the chapters to come.
Happy four years my breezy. I love you.

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Tzatziki

The other day while grocery shopping I was searching high and low for a container of tzatziki sauce. Ryan even hunted down an employee to guide us to some and he had no idea what the stuff was! Yes, it's a very strange sounding item, but it's one of the greatest dip creations invented.
Well, sadly I never found the lovely stuff so yesterday I decided I would make some of my own. Take that grocery stores! Anyway this sauce/dip is fantastic with just about anything including atop of my homemade Greek pizza I threw together last night. Which is also what inspired me to make some of this nifty stuff on my own. And let me tell you I will never pick up a store bought container again. Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

Ingredients:

  • About 1 cup and a half of plain yogurt (I used Greek to make it super dooper thick)
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 large cucumber, peeled, shredded, and thoroughly squeezed of moisture
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon garlic powder
  • A few pinches of salt and pepper 
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • Squeeze of half of a lemon
Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

Instructions:

  1. The first very very important thing you need to do is peel your cucumber and shred it up. We all know that cucumbers are chock full of water and when making tzatziki we must get rid of as much of that moisture as possible so our dip doesn't get super watery. So after shredding, throw your cucumber pieces in a colander and with your hands squeeze, squeeze and squeeze. Do this for a few minutes, then let them sit for about 30 minutes in the sink to drain.
  2. While that's doing it's thing, grab a medium sized bowl and combine the yogurt, sour cream, all the dry seasonings and squeeze the lemon. 
  3. On the side chop up some dill and add that to mixture. Now sit and marvel at your masterpiece of a dip come together (maybe even sneak a finger dip...or two).
  4. After thirty minutes is up check on your cucumbers shreds. Do the same thing you did before with your hands, squeeze squeeze and squeeze. 
  5. Now after that mini workout, add the cucumber shreds to your dip. Mix it all up and enjoy on anything you can think of!
Happy Cooking and Happy Dipping!