Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Clean & Green: Make a Little More

Make a Little More

Premix large batches of cleaning formulas so they're always on hand and you're not tempted to buy store formulas.

Monday, August 30, 2010

90 Day Challenge- Day 21

Ok, so technically as this posts it's Day 24 of the Challenge, but the weigh in actually happened on Day 21. I've just been behind in getting it posted.

This Week:
Weight lost: 2 lbs
BMI percentage change: 0.2%

Weight lost: 6 lbs
BMI percentage change: 1.1%

Pretty good so far! We've got another session with our trainer this week, mostly because we missed the first one. Totally our fault. So we'll get a new workout and hopefully have some time to go over our meal plans.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Textbooks, & CDs, & Tests- Oh My!

Some of you may have noticed the giant stack of books sitting on our kitchen table as I was eating my yummy soup the other day. If the title of this post is any indication, school is about to start! There are 2 weeks and 3 days until the first day of classes. Not that I'm counting down or anything ;-)

I'm just about done with my first week of the three week orientation. I've met my team, I'm figuring out the online course environment, and I've even turned in a few assignments. My inner nerd is oh-so-very-excited right now.

And then this arives...

These are the textbooks I'll be using in my first term classes.Which makes the intensity of the program all so very real. It's been mentioned several times in the orientation webinars- this is a Big 10 MBA program, and just because it's delivered online doesn't make it any less demanding. So the first term is designed to challenge all of us. Not a surprise, but still a little nerve-wracking. It's all finance. It's accounting. Any guesses what I've never taken a class in before? You're right! Finance and/or accounting.

Fortunately I have amazing team members. We're getting along great, there's already a sense that we're in this together and we're going to help each other a lot over the next two years. These guys are great. It's going to be quite the adventure. And I have some big plans to take the accountants from work out to lunch. A lot.

Quote of the Week

True generosity must benefit both parties. No woman can control her destiny of she doesn't give to herself as much as she gives of herself.

~Suze Orman

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Sweet Mint Pea Soup

2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 small sweet onion, chopped
two 10-ounce packages frozen peas
4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
1/2 cup fesh mint, minced
1 tsp grated lemon zest
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup heavy cream
plain yogurt

In a stock pot over medium heat, melt butter.

Add onions and saute until translucent, about 10 minutes. Add peas, broth, and mint. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and cook 20 minutes.

Stir in lemon zest, salt, and pepper. (This was especially fun because I got to use my lemon zester for the first time. Apparently I've not been very zesty before now.)

Cover and cook an additional 10 minutes. Transfer to a blender (or use an immersion blender, I love mine) and puree until smooth.

Return to pot and stir in heavy cream.

Cook on low for 10 minutes. Serve garnished with a dollop of yogurt and a small mint leaf.

Even Loki was excited by how the soup was smelling as it cooked. It's hard to see, but there's just a little bit of his tongue sticking out because he was licking his lips. He knew how awesome it was going to be.

Here's my final product. In a little soup bowl that used to be my parents. I have a set of two. There's something very comforting about having soup in the bowls that I used to use when I was a kid.

But the important part, it tasted amazing! I also made some baked chicken with garlic powder and rosemary. Simple clean flavors that paired well with the soup. I didn't take a picture of that though, I was halfway done with it before I remembered that I should take an after shot.

He's still interested. That's really how I know that a recipe is a keeper.

Yield: 6 servings (6 cups)
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time 50 minutes

Recipe from Katie Lee, Lonny Magazine, June/July 2010 issue

More on the giant stack of books later...

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Clean & Green: Get Rid of Sponges

Get Rid of Sponges

Replace sponges with washable and reusable items like microfiber cloths and dish rags.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Loki's Backyard: Adding Flowers

It's been a while since we did this, but I'm just getting around to putting up the pictures. I should clean my camera's memory more often. Note to self.
Anyway- after the fence and patio were finished, it was time to add some more fun things to the backyard and give it a little more personality. The big guy and some friends cut some flower beds on either side of the patio. Pretty grueling work, especially in the hot summer sun. Once the beds were cut and ready, we went shopping for flowers and plants.

A quick trip to Lowe's and soem discussion over color scheme and annuals vs. perennials, we were on our way home. We decided to start with some perennials and had 3 hydrangeas, one Japanese lilac tree, one Japanese blood maple, 3 arbor vitae, and an elderberry balck lace bush. I may have gotten some of the names wrong, but I think that's everything.

All will get much bigger with proper tending, and build up a little more privacy around the patio, and especially the area where we plan to put the hot tub.

This spot will hold the Japanese blood maple.

Our Japanese lilac.

We found these solar lights at Wal-Mart. They've got a clean modern feel to them, and I love the way the coppery finish plays against the grays in the patio. You can see a little bit of one of the chairs in our patio set. More about that later.

Loki does an excellent job supervising whenever there's work going on. He's very particular about what we do with his backyard. Perhaps the blog has gone to his head.

The black lace edlerberry bush

Our supplies. Lots and lots of potting soil to add the dirt we already had. We've got clay about two feet down, so we're hoping this will help give the plants more of what they need. We may to incorporate some Miracle Grow as well, but we'll see.
One of our hydrangeas waiting to be planted and some very dirty gardening gloves.

This is the Japanese blood maple waiting to be planted. The bucket it's in actually served dual purpose that day and helped to haul some of the dirt/grass away while the beds were being cut. A pretty far departure from holding kegs, which incidently is what we originally bought it for.

Look at us turning into grown ups.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

90 Day Challenge: Day 15

Week 2 is complete. The weigh-in is a day late, but all in all, I'm pretty happy with the results.

This Week
Weight lost: 1 lb
BMI percentage change: 0.1%

Weight lost: 4 lbs
BMI percentage change: 0.7%

Not bad, not bad at all. In addition to the workout schedule, lots more weight lifting, we met met with one of the gym's on-staff nutritionists. It was great. I went in thinking that it was going to be about what we need to stop eating and what we need to cut out of our diets.

Instead, Austin asked us a lot of questions about what we like to eat. He's taking that information and will be giving us a better plan for eating the things we already like. I'm sure there will be some modifications and shifts in the balance of what we eat, but if we already knpow that we like it, it'll be much easier to stick with.

He's meeting with us again on Thursday. He's going to be our trainer as well as our nutritionist. Kinda nice to have the one stop shopping and be working with someone who's going to have the whole picture of where we're at, where we want to go, and how we're progressing on the way there.

I'm already looking forward to seeing what Week 3 has in store.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Quote of the Week

Don't let a fear of being tacky render you tasteless

~Celerie Kemble

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Clean & Green: Dishwasher Tip

Dishwasher Tip

Run your dishwasher at night without the heat dry setting. Let things air dry overnight instead.

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Inspiration Files: A Calming Influence

I love this image. I think it speaks for itself.

You can see this and a few more, here. I originally saw it on Elements of Style, here. I would love this above our bar.

Friday, August 13, 2010

90 Day Challenge Check In- Day 7

Ok, the first week of the challenge is complete. I added a trip to the gym on Tuesday, got an additional 5 miles in. Not my first choice, but definitely a better choice than sitting at home. And that's what this is about right? Making better choices. Slowly but surely the choices that seem hard now will become second nature. That's what I'm working towards.

Wednesday night was Zumba.Thursday we worked out with one of the gym's trainers, and tonight I got another 5 miles done on the elliptical. I'm a little tired now.

So how has this week's work shaped up? Let's take a look.

Weight lost: 3 lbs
BMI percentage change: 0.6%

Not bad for the first few days. We'll take another look next week. I'll be looking at the overall changes, so it'll be a running tally in addition to the specific week data. We'll watch as these numbers get bigger, and my waist gets smaller!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The August/September Issue of Lonny is Out!

The newest issue of Lonny has hit the virtual newsstands. Enjoy

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Quote of the Week

Nothing is impossible, the word itself says "I'm possible."

~ Audrey Hepburn

The Inspiration Files- Orange Table with White Chairs

So what are The Inspiration Files? Simple- it's a folder in my email where I've been filing pictures and links for things that I really like. Things that I would love to find a way to do in our house. Will they all happen? Probably not. I might wind up driving the big guy crazy if I tried to find a place for all of these ideas. Ok, I would definitely wind up driving the big guy crazy.

So rather than keep them all hidden in my email where I forget about them, I'm going to work through them here on the blog. Really I should have given this more thought sooner. I've got 145 emails to sift through.

Let's start with one that would make even a Monday morning feel cheery. I saw this eating area designed by Susan Jones, featured on The Little Green Notebook. The post is about mirrored walls, but what I love is the bright orange table with the white chairs, the dark walls, and all that sunshine!

It's  a fun mix of traditional and modern that feels homey. I could totally picture some breakfast, soem tea and a newspaper spread across it. Not a bad way, or place, to spend a morning.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Clean & Green: Bleach Alternative

Bleach Alternative (for laundry)

1/4 cup hydrogen peroxide

Monday, August 9, 2010

Design Sherpa Contest Entry

Several weeks ago, I entered a contest hosted by Design Sherpa. The "What Inspires You" offers the winner a $10,000 plus a 10 day trip to Paris plus admission to the Maison et Objet design trade show. Sounds amazing, and I've made it past the first round! The first round was submission of a picture and 100 words about why that particular image is inspiring. They're featuring the top 100 submissions on their site, and one of them is mine! I'll link back to it as soon as it comes up, unfortunately I didn't save it before hitting submit.

Yesterday, I submitted my entry for round 2. Round 2 is 350 words about a design/architecture style that speaks to your design style and showcases a little bit more about your writing style. Here's what I sent in:

There are so many design and architecture styles to choose from, it can be a little overwhelming to choose just one. Like so many people, my tastes change. The styles that appeal to me most now are different than what I would have chosen five years ago and will continue to evolve over the years to come. For so many reasons, I like that.

I like the challenge of finding elements that will last over time. I like finding the basic components of a design or style that are at the core of that connection that makes someone say, “I like that” or “that’s me.”

I’ve always been drawn to prairie style homes. Growing up just outside Chicago, I see the connection between the low clean lines of the landscape and the sprawling layouts of the houses. There’s something about that style, with traditional craftsman details, that I find welcoming and comforting. It makes me feel at home, wherever home may be. I’m drawn to the natural woods. I’m impressed by the attention paid to the details and all the finishing touches that make a prairie style house a home.

Often when designing a home, Frank Lloyd Wright would include designs for the items that would fill the house; furniture, artwork, even dishes. It’s as though through the construction of the home, he was constructing a story about the people who lived there.

I think that’s an important element of interior design. Aside from the aesthetics involved, we all want our designs to be lived in. It’s more than just color choices. It’s a peek into personality. Are the homeowners art collectors with a vast collection they want to display? Are they animal lovers with three dogs and four cats, all allowed on the furniture? Are they newlyweds, still defining themselves and their style? (In case you’re curious, I fall into that last category.)

There’s a deeper story to be told through the design of our homes. When someone walks in, I want them to instantly know a few things about us. That’s something good design can help us do.

Keep your fingers crossed that I make on to Round 3! I'll keep you all posted as the contest unfolds.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Guest Room Detail

A few weekends ago we added a small detail to our guest bedroom. There's a space on the wall to the left of the dresser that was a little bit boring. You can see it here, in the "before" shot.

So we picked up some wall shelves from Target, and mapped out some space on the wall. We already had the books, the vase, the candle, and the pictures in their frames. We just hadn't really settled on where they would live. Yes- those are pictures from our wedding. It's not like we were trying to use our wedding as a theme to decorate the room, but we do have most of our pictures from the wedding there, along with our framed guest list/seating chart. We figure most of the people who stay in that room were guests at the wedding. Over time we'll add more pictures of family and friends, I'm thinking gallery walls, but for now, these are a very good start.

Not bad for $24 worth of shelves and about 30 minutes.

90 Day Challenge Day 2

You're probably wondering why I'm starting to track this challenge on day 2 instead of right away. I'll start by explaining what the challenge is and maybe that will lend a little insight as to why my excitement was lacking yesterday. But, a new day can sometimes bring some much needed perspective and a better outlook. So here I sit, typing away, with a more optimistic approach to getting done what needs to be done.

Yup, the picture is right. I've signed up for a 90-day weight loss challenge being pout on at our gym. There's a contest that goes along with it. By signing up for the challenge, we (yes, I made the big guy sign up with me so I wouldn't be totally alone doing this) get two sessions with one of the personal trainers as well as two sessions with one of the nutritionists. There's a competition component of the challenge as well. So there's some added interest and a little more motivation coming directly from the program.

So why was I not so excited on day 1? Day 1 meant officially signing in, which involved weighing in. Weight and BMI were recorded for everyone participating. I saw those numbers and was not happy. I know I've got some work to do, but it was a little hard to see it in writing. So I took a day to recover from my initial shock and lack of excitement. Today I'm a little more excited about what the next 88 days will bring. I'm planning to learn a lot in an area where I could use a little more focus, and I'm excited to see what the results will be.

In order to keep myself a little more accountable, I'll be checking in each Friday with a quick update on the overall progress. Some Fridays will be more exciting than others, but I think that's ok, it's probably just a part of the process of change. Change is hard, especially this kind of change. But change is good, especially this kind of change.

And what shifts and changes will become normal parts of my routine.

I think this is going to be bigger than just 90 days. And I think that's a good thing.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Quote of the Week

Courage isn't the absence of fear, but an ability to carry on in its presence.

~ Unknown

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Clean & Green: Fabric Softener

Fabric Softener

Add 1/2 cup to 1 cup vinegar to your softener dispenser.