food

Fitness Challenge Update and Juicing

Posted by on Jun 1, 2012 | 8 comments

It’s been a while since I updated about my fitness challenge.  I’m amazed at the progress some of the women are making in our group.  Everyone has their battles, and mine appears to be the “comfort zone” my body has settled into.

As I posted earlier, I tried the HCG diet and had great success on it, but it sort of “weirded me out” a bit.  Now I’m on the opposite end:  I’m eating super healthy (with the exception of Memorial Day Weekend- yikes), and I’m exercising again (a LOT), but my weight is coming off a lot slower.  I know this is a good thing in the long run- it will be more likely to stay off.  But getting on the scale and seeing that number budge very little from week to week is discouraging.  We’ll see.  I’m going to keep at it and try to reach my goal weight by… oh, I have no idea.  Someday.

In the meantime, I’m running and doing Jillian Michael’s 30-Day Shred to get myself back in shape.  Jillian.  Oh, Jillian.  That’s another post, entirely.

Onto my new favorite thing:  juicing!  Now, have no fear.  I’m not going to tell you that you, too, should buy an expensive juicer and fill yourself with fruits and veggies and cleanse your body until you can’t leave the bathroom.   Nope.  But I will say this:  eating this many fruits and veggies does make you feel pretty damn good.

First and foremost, I love the juicer I chose.  It’s this one, and you have to look hard to find it available in any stores.  If you decide to buy a Breville *anything* be sure to call any store before going, because their stuff is pretty much flying off of shelves these days.

Why did I chose to get a ridiculously expensive juicer?  I want it to last.  It was recommended to me by a few different friends (who did not know each other- even better).  And the reviews of these juicers are just phenomenal.  I am also pretty comitted to juicing as a new part of a healthy diet.  I’m not going to do a juice cleanse just yet, but I do want a way to get more veggies & fruits in my system.  Juicing is the way for me to do that.

So what am I making?

It’s funny because when I was waiting for my juicer to arrive (it took FO’-EVA) I went out and bought some juicing books.  Now I hardly refer to them because I’m just having fun playing around with flavors and seeing what my tastebuds (and my digestive system) like.

Below is a photo of one juice I made- it made a LOT of juice, and I drank. It. All.  It was good. Sometimes I’m adding coconut water to my juice because it’s supposed to be good for you.  I don’t like it by itself, but you can’t taste it in juice, and it’s just more hydration.

This particular blend contained:  celery (2 stalks), carrots (2), cucumber (1/3), apples (2 small), spinach (a  few handfuls), heirloom tomatoes (a bunch- they were close to going bad, so in they went).  I add at least one apple to any veggie/green juice, because they give it a bit of sweetness.

Here are some things you should know about juicing:

{juicing is messy}

I had no idea how messy it would be.  It makes sense when you’re making juice twice a day (which is what I’m doing) that you’d have some sticky counters or floors.  And this juicer is great in terms of power, but every once in a while something squirts out of somewhere and catches me off guard.  This is mostly my error- if you push things through it too fast, it squirts.  (There’s a joke there, I know.)  I’m using my mop a lot more, that’s for sure!

{juicing is time-consuming}

This is partly because I have three kids.  I make their breakfast first, and then I make my juice.  I make their lunches, and then I make my juice.  Then I have a normal dinner.   But getting the produce prepped (washed, cored, peeled, etc.) does take some time.  I don’t mind- it’s an excuse to zone out a bit and give my brain a rest.  Even if a juicer is lauded as being super-strong or able-to-take-a-beating, you still have to prep your fruits & veggies one way or another.

{juicing is noisy}

This is only a pain for me because my kids are already scared (as in horrified) of the vacuum and anything else noisy (except helicopters and motorcycles- those are okay).  So bringing in the juicer was not popular at first.  Then I made them pineapple-orange juice and now they are okay with it.  This particular juicer is actually quite tolerable on “low,” but quite loud on “high.”

***BUT***

 

{juicing is good for you}

I don’t need to tell you that it’s good to consume more fruits & veggies.  Duh.

{juicing is delicious}

Unless you screw up your juice by adding too much of something or putting in something you aren’t fond of, you really can’t go wrong.  I will never juice a green, red, or yellow pepper.  I hate them.  Nothing will make me like them.  So I won’t juice them.  Even if you try kind of a wonky combo, your juice will taste at least okay so long as you like most of the stuff you put in it.

{juicing is fun}

It’s a new way for me to make food.  I’m all about that.

Do you juice?

Maybe you have a juicer in your cabinets that you received for a wedding gift, or you bought one and just haven’t used it.  GET IT OUT!

Would you like to see more juicing info here at Crafting Crazy?  I’m thinking about posting the juices I make every once in a while.  I’d love to know what questions you have that I can find answers to, or what other things you’d like to know about  juicing.  Leave me  a comment here or on my Facebook page and I’ll hop to it!

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Our CSA {Love}

Posted by on May 1, 2012 | 2 comments

 

We joined a CSA!  A friend of mine was posting about a local company that will deliver fresh fruits & veggies right to your door.  When I read that I thought to myself, “Well, no more excuses.”  I knew that if we joined a CSA but I had to go pick up the box, I would miss a week here or there.  But if they’ll bring it to me?  Love.  And now that I’m doing a weight-loss challenge (today is Day #1!) it will help a lot that I have fresh stuff to eat.

Now, every Wednesday is Squeeze Play Day.  Sometime in the morning they bring a box of fresh veggies & fruit to our door.  I’m never quite sure what they’ll bring, but it’s always beautiful, plentiful and organic.  How awesome is that?

If you are in California and interested in finding a CSA in your area, you should check out Abundant Harvest Organics.  They have a ton of locations where you can sign up for the same kind of thing, though I’m sure it varies area to area. One thing I love about our particular CSA is that they charge us weekly, which is nice for our budget.  We don’t have to pay for an entire season all at once.

Here are some photos of things we’ve received in our first few boxes.  They make for fun photography practice, too.

 

Time to open the box!

Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful!

And these peas; Oh, my they were so tasty! We cooked them with our butternut squash ravioli and it was heavenly- didn’t even need sauce.  Just a bit of olive oil & salt, good to go.  YUM.

We love you, Squeeze Play!  Thanks for making it possible for us to get good, organic produce!

Note:  I was not compensated for this post.  I am totally writing about it because I love Squeeze Play and think they are all rad.  No freebies here- just the real deal, folks.

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{Operation Organization} Meal Planning: A Free Printable

Posted by on Apr 19, 2012 | 0 comments

 

 

Just a reminder to check out my post from Monday about Clean Up Your Pinterest Boards Day on April 26th!  Hope you can join us!

 

I have a love-hate relationship with meal planning.  When I do plan our meals, things go so much smoother during the week.  I don’t have to think when 4:30 rolls around and it’s time to start putting something together.  I can go into autopilot mode because I already know what’s happening in that department.  However, the process of picking what to make for the week can be tiresome, challenging, and sometimes annoying.

To that end, I decided to spruce up my menu planner.  My old one wasn’t working.  It was an old green frame (you’ll see it soon in an upcoming post), too small to write on, didn’t stay on the wall because the hanger on the back wasn’t that great- it needed to go.

I was at Michael’s Crafts getting a few things and saw a simple, flat glass frame and I knew it was what I needed.  It’s super cheap, too- only about $5.  I played around in Photoshop and came up with this.

 

(Clearly I have not mastered my new camera yet.  More about that later.)

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Jack’s Party: Food, Treats & a Wrap Up

Posted by on Mar 30, 2012 | 1 comment

For our final installment of Jack’s party, we’ll talk food, treats and I’ll give my thoughts on throwing a “real” party. :)

So let’s start by saying that I am not a party-food creator.  I have serious personal issues making a bunch of pretty food that is only going to be chewed up and digested.  Yes, it must taste good, but that’s sort of where my sense of obligation ends.  Presentation of food is not my strong suit.

Given the number of people we had attending, we ordred giant pizzas.  That was our “main course.”  They came shortly after the scavenger hunt ended.  We also had some snack packs of goldfish crackers and snack mix available for empty tummies.

I also made fruit kabobs.  I went to Costco, bought a bunch of fruit, and skewered it up the day before.  One tray was all the same, with a little bit of everything.   When I got tired of making those I made another tray that had a bit more variety so people could pick and choose.  What I love about these is that you don’t need utensils. I’m all about the finger food.   Also, Costco had 12-packs of old-school soda- I couldn’t resist.  Everyone seemed to like them, too!  The kids had juice boxes, and we also had water available, and some Izze drinks, too- love those.

 For cake, Jack was sooo easy.  I didn’t really give him a choice on the cake vs. cupcake front.  We were having cupcakes.  But when I asked him what kind of cake, he said (in his adorably funny voice), “Ummmm, I fink… I waaaaant.. chalk-a-LOT!”  Done.  “What kind of frosting?”  “Ummm, I fink…..  white.” Done and done.

 I followed most of what I described in my mini-cupcake post.  This time I tried Trader Joe’s cake mix and I have to say I will not be using it again.  They didn’t taste bad… they just didn’t taste that great. I saw lots of cupcakes with the frosting licked off and just a bite or two of cake.  Bummer.  Back to Duncan Hines I go!

 I made candy-pops just because.  Yup.  Just because.  They were SO. EASY. TO. MAKE.  For reals.  Check it out:

  • Buy a mold (or two to make it faster), candy melts, and sticks (mine were 6″).  Sprinkles worked very well for these, too.  I got it all at Michael’s.
  • Melt candy melts and put in a pastry bag or a ziploc bag will do just fine- cut off the tip.  You may need to let it cool a bit as (duh) you did just melt it over the stove.
  • While it cools, put sprinkles in the bottom of each mold.  Make sure the bottom is covered well- not too much, not too little.
  • Fill the molds with the melted candy, smooth them over with the back of a spoon.  Doesn’t have to be perfectly smooth.
  • Place the sticks and put them in the fridge or freezer until solid.
  • *Important:  check the sticks a few minutes after you put them in the fridge or freezer- sometimes they come up a bit, and once the candy starts to solidify (ooo- I just said solidify) you can push them back in and they’ll stick better.
  • Pop them out and store.  Put on a cute tray to serve, or wrap them up in little bags for take-home treats.

 

Lastly, each kid got to take a little treat bag of M&M’s home.  I got the ribbon at Dollar Tree, and the bags are from Shop Sweet Lulu.  I LOVE these little bags.  They are so stinkin’ happy.  :)

 I got all of my trays at WalMart for ONE DOLLAR EACH.  Go now!  They are cheap but they are colorful and perfect for whatever.  And I don’t care about what happens to them because they were only…. a DOLLAR.

And now… the wrap up. Will I do this again?  Maybe.  I think if I do another party like this it will be next year for a different child, that way everyone gets a super-special party once every three years or so.  March is a huge birthday month for us- 10 people in my family/extended family have birthdays, so we have a lot going on.  But it was so fun to have happy, cheery decor and everyone seemed to like it a lot.

I have the utmost respect for anyone who can do this for every child’s birthday, especially if they have more than one child.  I’m also thankful that Anna doesn’t seem to expect the exact same party for her birthday, and we will keep it much more simple (I hope).

I will be back later today to create a “Jack’s Party” page and get everything properly linked up so you can go between posts easily.  Thanks for reading!

Here’s one last shot of the birthday boy…

And again, many thanks to Tonya for sending me so many photos, including this one of my  husband and my daughter, Em.   These posts would not have been the same without her photos.  You’re wonderful, Tonya!

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I’ve Given Up Soda

Posted by on Mar 14, 2012 | 4 comments

I’ve had it on my mind for a while to do a large post about changes Michael and I are trying to make in our eating habits (there are tons), but that post is never going to get written.  I can just tell.  So instead, I’m going to share tidbits of things we’re doing that I’d consider “small steps.”

If you know me, you know I love sweets.  I’m a person who leans towards creamy, sweet, and rich.  Those are my vices.  I go nuts for brownies, rich ice cream flavors (no vanilla for me unless it’s covered in something decadent), and glorious cakes.  I love sugar.

For that reason, I knew I needed to give up some things because I’m not getting any younger, and my metabolism is certainly not where it used to be.

The neat thing (for me) is that my body actually made my mind up for me.  Throughout my last pregnancy I drank a Diet Coke nearly every day at lunch.  It was my afternoon caffeine shot to get me through the rest of my teaching day.  I new it wasn’t good for me, but it wasn’t like I was downing a six pack every day- just one.  As soon as I gave birth to Emily it was like a switch went off.  Soda no longer sounded good to me.  I think I had one a few days after I came home from the hospital out of habit, but I didn’t enjoy the taste at all.  It was weird.

 

I decided to try natural sodas.  But after a few weeks of that I just asked myself, “What’s the point?”  I was failing to see any reason to consume something that had zero nutritional value whatsoever.  At least with a bowl of ice cream I’m getting some calcium- what’s soda givin’ up these days?  Nada.

I haven’t looked back since.  And even better, I’m now one of those snooty people who likes fizzy water.  It’s delicious.

I haven’t dropped tons of pounds or anything, but I do feel better knowing I’m not drinking it.  I don’t miss it, I don’t crave it.  Every once in a while I’ll have a 50/50 lemonade/Sprite combo if we’re out to lunch or something, but that’s it.

And what I really, really don’t miss is the oodles of soda cans in the recycling bin, as well as the unpacking of the soda after grocery shopping.  That was always a pain in the ass.

Have you given up a vice?

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Let’s Talk About Chocolate Wine

Posted by on Mar 5, 2012 | 1 comment

Yes, you read that right.  Chocolate Wine.

I’m watching Downton Abbey on Hulu Plus, so I can’t talk long.  I just have to tell you that you must locate a bottle of this stuff.  It is divine.  My friend and fellow blogger, Tonya, of Create-Celebrate-Explore brought it to me last week when I had some lady friends over to knit & crochet.  Tonya announced upon her arrival that she brought a bottle for us to try, and I have to say that I was quite happy when there was just enough for me to have one more glass after they left.  It is delicious.  Awesome.  Smooth.  And yes- it tastes like chocolate and wine.  At. The. Same. Time.

If you’re a wine snob and you think you shouldn’t mess with wine in it’s natural state, this is not for you.  If you love chocolate as much as you should, this is right up your alley.

 

Tonya got hers at Fresh & Easy.  Needless to say, I’ve found a reason to shop there again. :)  Thank you, Tonya!

 

 

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