Friday, September 12, 2014

2014 Fall Mantel

 Hello there!

Today it's gray and cool outside so what better time to share my fall mantel, right? I'm sure you were on pins and needles just waiting for me to share it, haha!

This year was all about simple, muted colors......

 Lots of handmade goodness too... the handmade pears were from the Crow Lily booth at The Marketplace at Amberleaf, and the watercolor pumpkin print was one I did a few weeks ago.... I added in some Dollar Tree leaves and the little squirrel a friend found for me and this corner of the mantel was finished...

This side of the mantel has more fun details like the painted acorn from a precious friend, and a wooden block perfect for my love of the woods....

I made my moss covered monogram this spring. I used real moss from our back yard! It held up so great that I just added some cotton blossoms and leaves and decided to use it again....

Thanks so much for stopping by! I would love for you to stop by Instagram and say hello... I love to share our creative projects there too! 

Friday, September 5, 2014

Whole30 Apple Crumble ~ And a life after Whole30 update

So, apparently summer is over... even though it is still hot as blue blazes outside, everyone is rolling up their beach towels and parking their flip flops in hopes that crisp fall days are right around the corner.

Well, maybe "everyone" is actually me.

I'm ready for fall and all the glorious things it brings with it... like apples, lots and lots of apples. {and pumpkins, cute boots, sweaters, cardigans, flannel scarves, lattes, pretty leaves, pumpkin pie, football.....} Oh, wait, was I rambling?

Okay... let me try and get back to the point of this post.

You may have noticed that because I am so amazing at blogging these days, my last post happened sometime mid summer {months ago} and I had just finished my first round of Whole30! I was on top of the world, feeling great, looking great, and all around feeling like I could move a mountain if I wanted to.

You might be waiting for the part where I tell you that instead of moving the mountain, I fell off of it. You'd be wrong... and maybe just a little right too. I did in fact fall off the healthy eating wagon for just a minute. I celebrated my sweet Nola girl's decade of life with a homemade birthday cake and then continued to follow that with a few other questionable choices in food for a few days after that. But.... I quickly found my way back to my healthy path and completed another round of Whole30 a week ago.

I had the same amazing results as last time... better sleep, less anxiety, tons of energy and weight loss too! What I have learned after having completed two rounds of this Whole30 journey is that I just feel better when I eat better. My plan now is to fuel my body with the best foods that I can, and not be to hard on myself if I have a day {or entire week} that I don't eat healthy. The bottom line is, I know too much now to go back to my old ways of eating.

I have loved finding all kinds of new recipes since I started on this journey and I have created a few new recipes along the way too. This recipe for apple crumble happened one night that we were having breakfast for dinner. I wanted a fruity side dish to balance the savory sausage, eggs and veggies... and this was a hit!

Here's what you will need:

{* note * I made a small batch of this for the first round, as I do with most all of my trial recipes so that I don't waste any ingredients if it's a dud... you can always double this recipe to have more to share with your family ;) }

2 baking apples diced {I used Fuji because they were on sale}
2 tablespoons Ghee (clarified butter) I followed these instructions to make my own
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup almond meal
2 tablespoons Ghee
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Heat oven to 425*
Stir apples, ghee, and cinnamon together and pour into a small baking dish.
In a separate bowl, stir together almond meal, cinnamon, and ghee until crumbly. Sprinkle the topping over the apples and bake for 20-25 minutes until the topping just starts to brown.

That's it! Let me know what you think if you make it too!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Whole30... What's that all about?!

Here's something a little different than you are used to seeing from me... Let's talk about getting healthy. I know, I know... you are probably just as overwhelmed with seeing things all over the web about "join my team", "email me for more info on my eating plan".... yada, yada, yada.

I'm not talking about any of that...nope. Not a shake, not a hardcore, carry tires around on your back exercise routine, not a private group that you pay to be a part of.....not that a single one of these things are bad, I just wanted to eat better, plain and simple.

If I am on any social media at all these days, it seems to be Instagram that I am drawn to. It's the lack of adds that clutter every inch of my screen {Facebook, I am talking about you}, and the abundance of beautiful pictures that draws me there. I started seeing pictures of beautiful meals there too. Healthy meals. Meals that were followed by #whole30 or #whole30approved.

I got curious.

I followed those little hash-tags and found a whole world of tasty, healthy eating that I wasn't even aware of until this year. Perfect timing, because this is the year I promised myself I would put my health first. Part of that was less stress, and the other part, the bigger part, was eating healthy. And.. let's be honest, I wanted to lose some of the weight that stress helped me gain.

You can find the Whole30 program, every single detail of it, HERE. <--------

 It is very strict. It is very detailed. It is truly the most amazing thing you will do for yourself.

I gave myself a few months of learning about the program before I started. My biggest hang up was battling the sugar cravings.... So, I started work on this well before I started my 30 days. I began with the first thing I have in the morning. Coffee. Oh, you lovely little cup of happiness, full of cream and sugar.


That was a problem. I actually started my day with sugar. I didn't think I would be able to stop. How in the world could I go without sugar in my cup of morning sunshine??

Enter, organic coconut milk. This was my turning point. I read or saw other whole30-ers using this to replace cream and sugar and I knew I had to at least give it a try. I grabbed a can of it at Kroger {in the health food section} and it was awesome! No, it's not sweet like my coffee was before Whole30, but that's the point. I don't want to need things to be that sweet before I enjoy them.

Once I had coffee under my belt, I started trying to eliminate other things that weren't part of the plan. I had already, much earlier in the year, given up my CokeZero's. I never thought that would happen but I said, "see ya!"  and never looked back. Next was my sweet tea... this one proved to be a little harder. At first I switched the sugar for Stevia, but I knew that this wasn't part of the plan either so I slowly took that away too. Iced tea, sans sugar, was a bummer. Rather than dwell on that idea I just switched to something else... cucumber water. Now that was tasty! Who need sweet tea anyway, right?

Moving on.

We started amping up the vegetable intake. I used to give all of our veggies a "southern accent" which meant adding so much butter and seasoning that I'm not even sure you could call them veggies after that. Not any more. We started grilling more, took out any unapproved Whole30 oils. Things were going good. I was 90% in the program already.

So, let's see... I had taken out my biggest food road bumps... was I ready to start the program now?!

Nope. I had one more weekend {yes, and entire weekend} of indulging in some things I knew I wouldn't see for a while.... for that we drove straight to Alabama for a little family get together complete with my mama's potato salad, my aunts baked beans, my dad's famous marinated grilled chicken, and homemade ice-cream. Lots and lots of ice cream.

When we got home, I gave myself a few more days of meal planning and then on Wednesday {6/18/2014} I dove in head first. {Why Wednesday? I have no idea. You would have thought that Monday would have been more appropriate for such a thing} weird.

Things started out awesome. I remember waking up that first morning with so much resolve and excitement about making these healthy changes that I sailed through the day eating my three veggie loaded, protein packed meals... and then nighttime happened. Ugh... I am a snacker. I didn't even realize it was a problem until I knew I couldn't have anything. I wanted something sweet... I wanted something salty.... I just wanted food. But I wasn't hungry. To save myself from going insane I just went to bed really early those first few nights.

There is an awesome timeline on the Whole30 website that is eerily accurate... I found it during my second week and was happy to know that my "kill all the things" stage was normal ;)  Trust me, you will want to read it too!

There were definitely some tough days, I won't lie to you. We are a family that likes to eat out, and during the entire 30 days we only ate out two times. Preparing that many fresh, wholesome meals will take it's toll on you. Planning ahead was what got me through it.

There were days, early in the month, that all I could think about was chocolate.... but the cravings passed and I didn't hurt any one at all during those times. That is something to be pretty proud of, right??

As the weeks went on I lost a little of my fire, my excitement was wearing thin.... the timeline warned that this would happen. I got so sick of seeing eggs that I wanted to scream. But, guess what? That passed too.

And after 30 whole days of following the Whole30 plan, here are my results.... I guess I should start with the most obvious physical results first:

{note to self... I should reallly hang up some clothes before I take pictures, haha!}

I lost 11 pounds! You can't step on a scale for the entire 30 days, {I actually loved that part} but during the last two weeks, I started to notice that I needed a belt with all of my jeans. ~ oh, yeah!

I have had so many other benefits too.... four years ago I was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, I battled with panic attacks and anxiety for so long. The best part about my Whole30 results have been the overall calm that I feel. I may always be a "nervous" person, I tend to let my mind get the best of me sometimes, but I am in love with this feeling of contentment that I have now... it's so hard to explain, but honestly I haven't felt so relaxed in such a long time.

Other notable benefits for me have been better sleep {for a mama of three this is priceless!!} I sleep so soundly now that I don't even think I move at all during the night. Along with better sleep, I also have more energy ~ also a major bonus for a busy mama. I haven't had to work as hard at keeping up the the kiddos these past few weeks :) My hair and nails have never been healthier... and I might be imaging things, but this fine hair of mine seems to even be thicker?! Didn't know that would happen...

I am so grateful I found this program... it might sound cheesy, but it was pretty life changing for this girl. I come from the land of comfort food, the South. Food seems to be our love language, it's the first thing we think to do for someone who has lost a loved one, it's what we plan first for a celebration, it's how we "treat" ourselves for a job well done. Years later, and three kids later, I have learned so much about the way I let food have the driver's seat while I was busy taking care of everyone else but me. Oh, my.... times are changing. The best gift I can give my babies is a healthy mama. I'm pretty happy I started when I did.

Thanks so much for reading....I  hope to be posting some of my favorite Whole30 approved recipes in the coming days, along with sharing all the Instagram feeds that kept me on track and excited during this past month too! Hopefully I will have inspired a few of you to take this journey too! I feel like my journey is just getting started, I'm so happy to be on the right path for me now :)