Saturday, January 31, 2015

Day 31: January recap!

It's hard to believe, but month one of 2015 is already in the books!

This website was started as a personal project for me to record some of the small day to day aspects that can ultimately over time can make a difference.  

Some of the posts have been about weight loss, since living a healthy lifestyle is a concern for many in the new year.  But there were also some posts of recipes, beauty suggestions, home suggestions, and personal motivations.  

Hopefully we can see how taking the year one day at a time can improve our lives and our perspectives.  After all, Rome wasn't built in a day, right!

Happy living!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Day 30: Cabbage steaks: it's what's for dinner!

I've been trying to incorporate vegetables into more of a lead role, rather than a supporting one, for dinner.  I was hesitant to try this recipe out since I rarely cook or eat cabbage.  But it was a winner!  Don't let the photo fool you - it was delicious.  And so easy to prepare!  Check out the recipe here!

Day 29: Life is...

In "Instant Karma" John Lennon sings, "Life is what happens when you're busy making other plans."  In Sex in the City, Carrie says. "Life is what happens when you're waiting for a table."  I have my own variation:  "Life is what happens when you are getting from one destination to the next."

Travel is great for family time.  Not necessarily the quality time spent at the destination, but the time spent getting there.  The hours spent in line, on a plane, in a car.  That's where the quality time comes in.  And ironically, I do enjoy that more than the destination!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Day 27: Meditate right now

The mind is a powerful tool.  It holds so much of what makes us happy and fulfilled with our lives.  I've never considered myself to be "new agey" or a fan of meditation.  You mean I just sit there doing nothing wasting time that I could be doing something else?  It's an investment, a small investment of time with big dividends.

Meditating it turns out is simple, but not as easy as it seems.  Find a nice quiet place, and set your phone timer for 5 minutes.  Play light music if you like.  iTunes radio has many yoga stations if you are looking for inspiration.  Pandora does too.  Then close your eyes, focus on your breath, and try to empty your mind.

Not as easy as you thought right?  Getting your mind to stop can be tricky, but will get better with practice.  Somedays it'll be hard, and somedays it won't.  But trust me, it's worth it.  There are plenty of pinterest challenges too if you're interested.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Day 26: 5 ways to use a kitchen timer

Over the holidays, I had bought a fancy timer from Anthropologie.  I had gotten it for myself, but I had a secret Santa party that I forgot to get a gift for, so instead I took the timer with a cute little note inside that had a list of things you could do with a kitchen timer.  

Magnetic kitchen timer from Anthropologie, $16

These things included:
1.  Meditate
2.  Do a plank challenge.
3.  Clean your kitchen.
4.  Take an Internet/Facebook break
5.  Journal

I eventually got one for myself, and it basically sits on my fridge looking pretty.  I guess you could also use it to bake something, but most stoves (and iPhones) come with timers right?

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Day 25: January polish

Pastels are in this winter for nail color, and my hue of the moment is OPI's "My very first knockwurst."  This subtle color is not quite pink, but gives a neutral a touch of femininity.  

Found at ULTA, $9.50.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Day 24: Gluten free pancakes

We have a close friend who has a severe gluten allergy.  Since she comes over quite a bit, I've been dabbling in gluten free cooking and baking.  A lot of this involves coconut flour.  Over the past weekend, we had a brunch and I experimented with these.  Though more "eggy" than traditional pancakes, they do hit the spot when it comes to breakfast time.  I prefer mine with ample amounts of maple syrup and nutella, though fruit doesn't hurt them either!  Mine are a little browner than the blog post where I found the recipe, though I had the griddle on low heat.  In any case, they still tasted good, just more omelet like, as I mentioned before.  

You can find the recipe here.  Enjoy!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Day 22: How to increase your steps per day

1.  Skip the elevator, use stairs whenever possible.

2.  Park your car far away.

3.  Chase your kid or dog around.

4.  Make multiple trips to your car when unloading it.

5.  Walk in place while watching TV.

6.  While doing housework, including making multiple trips.

7.  Instead of driving, walk if you can.

8.  Take a walk during lunch.

9.  When at an airport, take laps instead of sitting at the gate.

10.  If all else fails, 20 minutes at a brisk pace outside or on the treadmill will help you reach your goal!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Day 21: Chalkboard labels

Tempted to use chalkboard paint in your kitchen or other areas of your house?  If you are like me and hesitant to commit to it, try these labels by Martha Stewart.  You can use them anywhere in the house, but I find them most helpful in the kitchen for jotting down recipes and labeling containers.  And they are less messy (and less permanent) than paint!

Martha Stewart Home Office with Avery Chalkboard labels, available at Staples

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Day 20: Chocolate chip banana cookies

I have a weakness for chocolate chip cookies and I'm always in the lookout for new recipes.  Lately, in an effort to make myself feel better about, I've been substituting flour and butter for more healthier options.  Namely coconut oil, whole wheat flour, and by using dark chocolate chips.  

After coming home after a five day trip to find an overripe banana on my kitchen counter, I decided to make these.  It's an adaptation of a Martha Stewart recipe found here.  The cookies came out moist and cake like.  The banana flavor is subtle, and not too over powering.  I felt there was a bit too much salt, but that could be because my 2 year old may have used the salt shaker while I had him mix the dry ingredients!  



1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour 
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt 
1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
6 tablespoons granulated sugar
6 tablespoons brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla 
1 ripe banana
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.  Line or coat baking sheet with butter or olive oil.

2.  Mix flour, baking soda and salt in bowl.

3.  In large mixing bowl, mix oil, sugars, egg, and vanilla.  Add flour mixture.

4.  Add banana until mixed in.  Add chocolate chips.

5.  Spoon dough onto baking sheet.  Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until slightly browned.  Makes 12-16 cookies depending on size.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Day 19: Say it with Stationary

I've always been a fan of stationary.  Who can resist the boxed sets with different accessories?  I justify them by using blank cards for any special occasion.  It allows me to write a personal note, instead of letting Hallmark do the talking.  Plus, your friends and relatives will appreciate a sincere sentiment in your own handwriting.  I am also an old fashioned gal, and still write lists down.  Isn't it more fun to accomplish your to do list when it's on a fun notebook?  It doesn't have to be expensive.  You can find good deals at Marshall's and TJ Maxx.  Even Target has some cute styles.  My favorite though, is still Papyrus.  Seeing that most of their cards are $6.95, you may even save money!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Day 18: Weight loss is all about strategy! Pick your weakness, then attack it

Over the weekend I was talking to a friend about her new personal trainer.  Since it's January, and we are both carrying extra baby weight, we've both amped up our weight loss efforts.  As she was telling me about her training I got super excited and was envisioning future training sessions with her as our children peacefully napped!  

But then I caught myself.  Exercising has never been an issue for me.  I've been a steady gym rat for the past decade or so.  I make the time to go to the gym, to go to yoga classes, do zumba, walk, swim even wake up at 5 am to meet my personal trainer!  Not to mention, I don't have a desk job and am all my feet all day.  I used to wake up at 5 am to meet my personal trainer to lose the baby weight after my first child!  So I basically lead an active life!  But then why the extra thirty pounds?  (I can't blame everything on the children, can I?)

No matter how much I focus on exercising, my weight issues have more to do with my eating habits, as is true for most people.

So I began to rethink my strategy.  For some it is inactivity, such as having a desk job and going from bed to car to desk to car to couch.  For some it's large portions.  Sodas, sweets, fast food, all these individually or combined can be your weight loss nemesis.  Lack of time to work out or prepare healthy meals is also a factor.  

There is a ton of information out there on what to eat, and what to do to help you lose weight.  But adopting a lot of rules can be overwhelming.  It's better to adopt certain changes that focus on a few key things.  

There is no easy answer here!  You are going to have to find your weakness, and then attack it!  

Make a food journal for a week.  It doesn't need to have calories.  Just a list of what you eat, including portions, during the day along with when you eat it.  If you start paying attention, you may notice that bad eating habits are related to certain patterns in your day or week.  Just by writing what you eat down, you are already paying attention to what you are putting in your body, and this recognition is so important!  You may find that a few small tweaks may be all you need!  Inherently, we should all know what is good and what is bad (vegetables good!  cupcakes bad!)  It's all about maximizing the good and minimizing the bad.  Remember, all in moderation!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Day 17: Homemade Lara bars

As a delicious natural food and nut bar, I've basically fallen in love with Lara bars.  This all started when I kept them stashed in my nightstand drawer for late-night feedings with my newborn.  Not only are they delicious and filling, but I feel like they aren't that bad for me since they have mainly dates and nuts in them.  Ok, so some chocolate too, but who doesn't want chocolate in their "granola" type bars.

My favorite kind is Chocolate-Chip cookie dough, thought I also like Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip too.  I've been making them at home, which is super easy to do.  I followed the recipe from Oh She Glows, and every time I make them they only last about a day.  They are so good, so good, and I feel good because it limits my dependence on packaged foods.  

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Day 16: Best time of day to work out

Some say the best time of day to work out is in the morning, the reason being that more people stick morning workouts over a longer period of time.  If you are like me, you may have trouble getting up earlier than usual to exercise and may prefer to do it after work or at night.  No matter what time, it's best to do it whenever you know you will make time for it.  If you have kids that probably in the wee hours of the morning or night (when they are asleep).  Or if you have a sizable lunch break, during lunch.  Post work when you are the most productive is another option.  I used to have.a gym that was on my route home from work.  I used to change into my gym clothes before leaving work essentially committing to working out.  Find what works for you to help you stick with it!  

Day 15: What's your style?

On-line you will find a myriad of quizes that will tell you what your personal style is.  This refers to not only your sense of fashion but also your decor, and overall design and aesthetic approach.  I always thought that I was more traditional or classic, with a hint of ethnic.  As it turns out, at least according two Internet quizzes, I am "Whimsical" primarily and "Bohemian" secondarily.  With my flowing peasant shirts and paisley printed bed spreads I knew I was part bohemy, but whimsical?  What does that even mean?  

Since then I've noticed touches of whimsy in my house!  It actually is quite fun and rather spontaneous, for I like to have colorful things around my house that make me happy!  Case in point:  my tea and coffee station that I've recently set up in my kitchen.  In it I have a bright yellow IKEA napkin holder with printed napkins (also from IKEA); set of Christmas mugs from Caribou Coffee I got years ago; and a yellow ceramic egg carton dish that I use for used tea bags and such.  I also have a bouncy stand clock from pottery barn kids.  All these items I bought at separate times in my life, and now they've all converged to display my whimsical style!  

What's your style?

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Day 14: Find work out space!

One of the perks of working out is having some time to your self.  It helps you relax and focus on your work out.  Besides having all your gear in one place, it should be a visually appealing place - a place that you want to go to.  

In my apartment, that happens to be in my dining room!  It may sound crazy, but it has hard wood floors and floor to ceiling windows giving me a great city view.  It's also quiet, and away from noisy children and their toys.  I even have two plants to keep it liven it up.  I've carved out this area just for me.  Having a set place helps keep me motivated!  Whatever works, right?

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Day 13: Monogram Gift Idea

Looking for a cool, yet personal housewarming gift?  Check out these hand carved letters made out of books from Second Nature.  I had bought the LOVE set for some family members last year, and recently bought this mini version for myself!  These recycled book shelf art pieces are one of a kind!  Find them, and other whimsical home decor items, at Nordstrom!  

(LOVE set is $52, S mini letter is $10)

Monday, January 12, 2015

Day 12: Take Five

Have you ever been about to leave work, but thought it would be best to stay late instead of leaving a stack of unfinished tasks on it?  Or are you ever about to call it a night, and there is a load of laundry next to a pile of bills adjacent to a tower of dirty dishes?  here is a way to simplify things: just pick five.  They can be as big or as small as you want, or the tasks with the highest priorities.  It can be dealing with five pieces of mail, or folding five pieces of laundry.  Doing that little bit can make that mountain of work seem less daunting in the morning, and may even help you sleep better at night.  It'll make you feel better because you've accomplished something, even if it's not a lot.  It's not as much about clearing your desk, but clearing your head!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Day 11: Find space with a reading nook

Sometimes the simplest things can make us happy.  Having a quiet, peaceful place to read, reflect, or just to enjoy a cup of coffee can brighten even the dullest of days.  If you don't have a space already in your home, try creating one.  It doesn't take much, in fact it doesn't even have to be inside.  Be creative, and don't be afraid to add your own personal touches to give it comfort.  In this particular corner, I have a comfy chair, pillow and throw, as well as a leather accented footstool in case I need to prop up my feet.  I also have some personal touches, such as an antique camera, a framed poster depicting a map of Manhattan, and a stuffed Eiffel tower that happens to be for a dog!  All it's missing is a tasty book.  Happy reading!

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Day 10: The Supernut, the Almond

Almonds are a great snack to munch on!  Investing in 250 calories (approximately 35 almonds) will provide you with healthy fats, and may ward off such diseases such as diabetes and heart disease! These filling nuts are also very portable.  Keep them on hand to subside those hunger pangs!

Friday, January 9, 2015

Day 9: Find your Mantra

Sometimes it's not a bad thing to have a mantra.  It keeps your mind clear, and helps you focus on the positive.  As we settle into a new year, we are reminded that the past is just that - the past.  And we have no choice but to move forward.  Find a mantra that spreads to you.  Translate it into a different language if it helps.  Use it in your yoga or meditation practice, at work during stressful situations, even while stuck in traffic.  It'll help you get mentally unstuck in your day!

Be positive!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Day 8: Gratitude Journal

There was a recent trend on social media to post the top five things that you are grateful for.  Oprah made gratitude journals popular, writing daily the top 3 or 5 things that you are grateful for.  But it may be hard to do it on the daily.  So why not list three things that you are thankful for every hour.  Starting at 8 am, and ending at 8 pm.  You may have to dig deep, but it's easy to find things that you are thankful for.  For example, clean drinking water, or when your child smiles at you.  So much to be grateful for!  So if you ever need a daily boost of gratitude, try it!  It'll make you appreciate what you have, and hopefully help you let go of the negative.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Day 7: Floss!

A dentist told me once that if you don't floss, you may as well not be brushing.  This daily act that goes hand in hand with something that nearly all of us do is something that often gets sidelined.  

Besides oral hygiene, flossing can also help more life-threatening diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and certain respiratory illnesses.

So it's important to floss!  If you haven't already, add that on to your New Years resolutions!  It takes less than a minute to do and could potentially add years to your life!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Day 6: Work it with a new wardrobe

Need some motivation to get yourself to the gym?  Here are a few reasons to get you off the couch and in the move!  Having a few key favorite pieces will help you build a great workout wardrobe as well as a great body.  It'll help you feel good by wearing things that you like!

Start with a good pair of sneakers.  Many athletic shoe stores have knowledgeable staff that help direct you to the right pair.  If running is your thing, they will even observe your gait on a treadmill to help you decide.  

Having comfortable track pants are also important.  Many yoga stores have popped up the past decade that also fill this need.  Not to mention help you transition from your errands to a workout.  

Hint: start your Saturday's off in workout clothes!  You'll be more likely to hit the gym later on in the day!

Need a few other accessories? Get a Fitbit to help you monitor how active you are.  You can even log your calories and compete with your friends!  

Reebok slim fit black pants; RBX patterned pants;  Adidas walking sneakers;  Under Armor "urban uptown" French terry cloth hoodie;  Lulu lemon yoga pants; Adidas love shirt.  

Put together and ready for a work out with an Aerie lace bra.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Day 5: The importance of being consistent

Many times we have a good workout day or week and feel like congratulating ourselves.  Which is great of course, we should recognize change in all of its sizes.  But with all these baby steps there is one thing that goes hand-in-hand with it:  consistency.  It's these small acts that are done again and again that become habits and cause real life changes.

There are many times in life where we want to make changes and set a start date.  Sometimes we stop and restart again.  There is no shame in that!  Better to resume again instead of admitting defeat.  Let's remember it's not just one bad meal that makes us obese, and it's not one healthy day that makes us slim. It's all about the trend, and that's why being consistent is something that the earlier you expect and do, the mentally easier your goals will seem achievable!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Day 4: Walk it off

Walk.  Just walk.  It's easy, one foot in front of the other.  Fast or slow.  Uphill or downhill.  Listening to your iPod or listening to the birds.  Just do it.  It's so good for you.  I would list the benefits, but there are so many and you know them already.  And if you need a list of reasons, you can google it.  

So just open the door and go for a walk. Ten minutes, 20 minutes, or an hour.  You want to be fancy about it, get a pedometer or put on a dress.  Just kidding about the dress part.  And when you're walking, look up at the sky.  It'll make you and your problems feel smaller.  

Walk.  You'll be glad you did.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Day 3: Linens: a quick and comfortable way to redo a bedroom

January is not only known for new year's resolutions, or the Super Bowl, but also for "White Sales," which quickly replace the after Christmas sales at most major department stores.  This is the perfect time to change up your sleeping quarters.  After all, up-dating linens is the easiest, and sometimes the cheapest way to redo the bedroom.  

Comfort is key, and good quality bed linens will not only enhance the already eight hours you spend nightly in bed, but also be more inviting after a long day.  Though linen and silk sheets are available, cotton is the most readily available and the most popular material.  It's not hard to see why, since cotton sheets are comfortable, breathable, and perfect for any season.  In addition, they tend to become softer with repeated washings and use.  Getting not just a high thread count, but a high quality thread count is also important.  Calvin Klein sheets offer amazing comfort, and get better with wear.  Their basic sheets and duvets are 250 threads per square inch and are 100% combed cotton sateen.  (They also offer 300 thread count and 450 thread count sheets as well).   These are regularly on sale at major outlets, and though they may seem expensive than other brands, they are worth it.  They will last forever and get better with time!  Not to mention, they come in modern patterns and colors which are gender neutral.  Pictured below are the Portofino duvet and sham.

Other notable brands are DKNY, and Sky which is available at bloomingdale's.  Throw a few throw cushions on top, and you are good to go!  Er, sleep!

Friday, January 2, 2015

Day 2: The Pre-Shower Mini Workout

Getting in shape is a common new year's resolution.  One recent pin-worthy item making the rounds is a pre-shower workout routine.  Sometimes just the thought of facing a strict one hour, six days a week workout can seem daunting.  However, a quick five-minute circuit on days that you can't make it to the gym can help prevent a total derailment of your fitness goals!  This is the very simple four step routine, plus some jacks and lunges.  This entire routine takes just under five minutes!  

If you have more time, or want to make it more challenging, here are some suggestions:

- increase the reps
- repeat the cycle, once or twice
- for more cardio add some mountain-climbers and/or high-knees
- add plie squats
- add back and/or side lunges

Good Luck!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Day 1: Happy New You!

Happy New Year!  

2015 is for many not only the beginning of a new year, but the beginning of new habits, and (hopefully!) the ending of old ones.  Though more than 90% of us will fail at our resolutions, that shouldn't stop us from making them.  Recognizing areas of improvement, and attempting to change is an important step in moving forward, and not just with a new calendar year.  

Since making big changes may be hard, small changes may end up benefitting us more in the long run.  Taking baby steps daily can add up, especially over the course of a year.  Achieving these personal goals can not only improve our physical selves, but also our self esteem and mood.  

Welcome to Day 1 of 365 days.  Everyday something will be posted that could improve your health, or your outlook on life.  It may help you live better, or just perk up a bad day.  It may be products, or DIY projects; travel or reading.  

There are simple things that we do, whether they be rituals or habits, that enrich us.  Sometimes we don't even notice them.  It can mean that you took 15 minutes out of the day to look at the clouds.  Or treat yourself to a home pedicure.  Or enjoy a really good piece of dark chocolate.  These things can be simple, yet very important.  And this is ultimately what life is all about - the simple acts that weave the days that make up our lives.  

So we are going to start off 2015 by doing something really simple, but really important - drinking more water.  Staying hydrated throughout the day can help you look younger, and may even reduce weight.  It really is a win-win situation.  Start with two glasses of water (16 fluid ounces) in the morning right after waking, and two glasses of water before bedtime.  That's 50% of the required 64 ounces already out of the way.  Then make sure you are drinking it at meal times and take it with you wherever you go.  It's an easy habit to start, and such an important one.  

Here's to 2015 with our water glasses in the air!  Cheers!