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 :)

Monday, July 14, 2014

Q & A Getting to know the OSSS Bloggers

I love the idea of getting to know others in this creative community, so when Mariel of Or So She Says asked all of the OSSS blog contributors to share a little about themselves, I was all in and I am excited to learn more about the other contributors too! Here are just a few things about me.....

What inspired you to start your blog (or shop?)
My blog started a little over three years ago when I was pregnant with our youngest, Liam. At the time it was just the outlet I needed. I always feel a little more creative while I am pregnant... maybe all those weird pregnancy dreams seeped into my awake time too, and I was creating things all the time and wanted to share them. I never actually expected to have readers... but the best part about having my blog now is interacting and getting to know other creative souls! The business part came a little later, I am have been overwhelmed by the support and encouragement... it truly is such a blessing to be able to create special pieces of jewelry with others in mind. It makes my heart smile so, so much! 

What's your favorite and least favorite thing about blogging?
Favorite... "meeting" and connecting with other creative friends. It is true joy to know that I have inspired others to live a creative life. I am inspired daily by so many of the blogs that I follow, I am just so happy to be a part of the community too!  Least favorite..... finding the time to be still long enough to actually write blog posts! I struggle with ADD symptoms and sometimes it's hard to make my mind be still long enough to write. There have been many times that I have gotten on the computer and one hour later remembered why I even sat down... I have learned to limit my time on social media sites like Facebook that drain my time so quickly. {sorry if you follow me on FB, hopefully this explains why you haven't seen me there as much }

Tell me with only 20 words, 20 things you love.
GOD. prayer. family. faith. calm. summertime. sunshine. light. creating. relaxing. reading. hiking. running. writing. painting. pizza. movies. crafting. gardening, & smiling :)

What is the one recipe you are most often asked to share?  Please share it with us!
Oh, that's a good one! My mom and I created a recipe for Cherry Delight, it is SO good! You can find the recipe HERE

5 favorite beauty products, right now... what are they? 
1.) Dream Waves, Beach Spray by Marc Anthony ~ just a couple of sprays of this on your damp hair gives you that beachy, summer vacation hair and it smells amazing!
2.) Maybelline Colossal lash masscara
3.) White gold cream eye shadow by City Color a summer favorite for sure!
4.) St. Tropez self tanner.... ah-mazing stuff. No streaking ever!
5.) NYX brand Butter Gloss.... any shade, I love them all

What's your personal mantra(s)?  Something you tell yourself on a regular basis?
"I am enough" ~ I think all of us need to remember this on a daily basis

What movie made you laugh more than any other?
Hubby and I recently got a surprise date night, as in, the grandparents called and surprised us by asking if ALL THREE of the kids could spend the night. After we stopped jumping up and down..hehehe we went to see "Tammy" and laughed for 2 hours straight!

If you could recommend one family vacation, what would it be?
We love state parks... you could camp or stay nearby. It's our family goal to visit all of the Tennessee State Parks before our oldest is out of the nest. It's something we all enjoy and we love marking them off of our list too!

What goals are you currently working on?
Life goals include finding a better balance between my business and family. I love being able to work from home but struggle with having an "off" time. {advice welcomed and appreciated!}

Please share links to 3 blog posts (or items from your shop) that are special to you (or favorites of yours), and explain why
A couple of years ago I wrote a post about a conversation I had with a stranger that moved me so much that I still think about it all the time. You can read it HERE

Another favorite was the post I wrote after Liam was born... this is one my very favorite reasons I started this blog, I love going back to read the letters that I wrote to my babies.. you can read Liam's letter HERE

This post is special because it was a project that we all did as a family. It was made even more special when I was asked if a picture of our "Family Trees" could be published in the book, "Building Family Ties" by Dave Stone! 

Well, Friends... that's it. Thanks for taking the time to get to know me a little better. I wish I could forward questions to all of you too... It would be a dream to have all of us get together some time and really get to know each other!

Well... in the meantime, I would love for you to Get to know my fellow contributor friends too! They have fantastic blogs that will keep you pinning all day. (There are just a couple that couldn't participate in the blog hop, but pay them a visit anyway. You'll be glad you did! :)) Participating Blogs: Cooking with Ruthie Blissful Roots Lemon Tree Dwelling Tips for Family Trips Five Heart Home Double the Deliciousness Nine a Plenty Creative Carmella So Festive! Family Volley Bits of Everything Kiki & Company Additional Contributors (not in blog hop): Packed with Fun Darling Darleen Prepared Housewives Kleinworth & Co. Blahnik Baker Shopgirl The Connection We Share

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

DIY Scrapbook Paper Wall Art

Hey, hey! I hope you all are enjoying your summer... I know we are for sure! I feel like I have lots to catch up on here, but the outdoors keep calling my name so I better just get to the tutorial before I leave this post half written {there are currently 5 half written blog posts waiting for me to finish... oops }

So... here we go....

This wall art is perfect for summer... we all feel just a little more adventurous then, right?? The best about about this project was having almost everything I needed to make it already on hand. The only thing I bought was a piece of scrapbook paper that was on 29 CENTS! .29 wall art? Awesome.

Here's what you will need to get started on your own wall art:

Map scrapbook paper {this sheet came from Hobby Lobby when all the scrapbook paper was 50% off}
A piece of wood or canvas {this board is actually a lid from a vintage crate that I had, it measures a large 16.5 x 11}
X-acto knife
Acrylic craft paint
Mod Podge, matte finish

First, cut out the image with a sharp X-acto knife. Be sure to lay a think piece of cardboard or a cutting mat underneath. This is the hardest part of the entire project, it takes a steady hand so just take it slow. The rest comes together really easy, I promise :)

Next, paint your wood or canvas. I went with a beachy blue to match the look of the scrapbook paper. For the lettering, I just went free hand. You could always use a stencil too!

After you have all of your lettering painted in, it's time to add your paper. A tip for making sure no air bubbles pop up while you are decoupaging your paper down, spray the back of the paper with water first! It works like a charm!

Once the paper is damp, start painting Mod Podge on the wood or canvas and lay your paper out over it. You can slide it around and smooth it out as much as you need to at this point.

Once everything is all smoothed down, cover the entire piece with a layer of Mod Podge to protect it.

And, that, ladies and gents is it! Now all you need to do is hang it and enjoy! 

I use Command Velcro strips to hang anything in our house because I tend to rearrange our wall decor with every season.

I hung ours above our entryway table... you know, to remind us to be adventurous before we head out the door ;) 

Thanks so much for stopping by! Be sure to look for me on Instagram at @creativecarmella, my new favorite place to share and interact! 

Happy Summer!!