Saturday, February 25, 2012

DIY Princess Crowns




I caved and bought Disney on Ice tickets -- again.  Everyone seemed to like our first Disney on Ice adventure so much that we decided to do it again! This time, though, it was Disney Princess on Ice and I've got a four-year-old who is currently loving the whole princess thing.


I, on the other hand, am not so sure about the whole princess-some-day-my-prince-will-come message because let's face it: These days a lot of other great and wonderful things may come before your prince -- an education, rewarding career, your own house. And perhaps it's not until then that your prince may waltz into your life:


Ahem. Yes. Well. Righty-o.

But instead of denying all things princesses to my little girls, I believe moderation is key for a happy and healthy life. (If I forbade all princess things, all princess things is what they would want.) And anyhow, 10 minutes ago, both girls were knee-deep in Thomas the train.


So, yes, moderation fits us well. My niece was staying with us for the weekend and going with us to Disney on Ice, so I thought a nice Saturday afternoon project would be making princess crowns we could wear the next day. I had thought about actually making the crowns themselves, but after doing a quick Internet search and figuring it was harder (and more expensive) to make them yourself, I decided to take a trip to the craft store Michaels.

I found these awesome pink glitter crowns (six in the package) for $4.99 to which I used a 50% off coupon with bringing their price down to $2.49.


I then scoured the store for clearanced goodies we could use to decorate them: gems, stickers, brads -- anything that would be fit for a princess. (Okay, well, maybe real princesses wouldn't be caught dead in these crowns, but to a seven-, four-, two- and thirty-ahem-something-year-old pretending to be princesses, they were perfect.)


Before we started, I cut out all of our initials on white card stock using my Cricut machine.  I glued the letters on using a regular old glue stick. Then we pretty much had at it -- no limits, all creativity!


Even the little one got in on the action.


I gave the older girls their pick of the goodies.


And then I proceeded to decorate mine and the baby's. While most of the decorations were self-adhesive, some needed extra reinforcement from the glue stick to stay on.


When asked about making Daddy's (and Uncle Mike's) crown, I said that this time I don't think Daddy would want to take part in wearing our craft. Even though he totally has been a trooper in the past...

 Wearing the My Friends Tigger and Pooh t-shirt:


And then the Mickey Mouse t-shirts (multiple times):


And of course the Chuggington pins:


...I didn't think he would really like this one so much.

The show was pretty awesome, by far the best one yet.


And the crowns were really a big hit.


The total cost for all four crowns was around $16 which was about $4 per crown. It was a great, inexpensive way to spend a Saturday afternoon in preparation for our exciting Sunday show!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Roasted Beets and Sweet Potatoes


Growing up, whenever we had beets as part of our dinner, there was always a standoff. I couldn't stand their sweet, almost tangy flavor. In my mind, this was not a vegetable. And as a kid, I really liked vegetables. I still do. As a matter of fact, I ate an entire bag of baby spinach for lunch yesterday (wilted with a little extra virgin olive oil, salt and garlic). After eating the while bag of spinach, I looked at the back and discovered the whole entire bag was only 60 calories. Wow, I really love spinach.

Back to the beets though. Beets were on sale for 3 pounds for a mere $1 a few weeks ago and after hearing my mom go on and on and on and on about how delicious beets are I decided to give them a try again, hoping my relationship with them could change much like my relationship has changed with brussel sprouts. (Love those little sprouts now.) I came across a recipe in a magazine that paired beets with sweet potatoes, onions and a little garlic and oil. Not even having the faintest clue where I saw this recipe, I decided to wing it.


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Mmmmmm. Wow. This dish is sweet and savory and oh so good for you. The significant amount of vitamin C found in beets paired with the beta carotene and fiber found in sweet potatoes makes this combo a nutritional powerhouse that won't spike your blood sugar and will keep you feeling full. If you're on a low carb diet, this is not the recipe for you. But if you like to eat a balanced diet with a good mix of protein and carbs, add a little protein to this for a beautifully balanced meal.

Roasted Beets and Sweets Potatoes 







Makes 4 Large Servings

Ingredients:

2 - 3 large beets, peeled and cut into 1 1/2 - 2-inch chunks
2 - 3 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 1/2 - 2-inch chunks
1 large sweet onion, cut into 8 wedges
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Salt

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place the chopped beets on the baking sheet and toss with one tablespoon of oil and sprinkling of salt. Spread the beets out evenly on the baking sheet.


Bake the beets for 15 minutes. Remove from oven.

Add the sweet potatoes, onion wedges and garlic to the beets. Add the remaining two tablespoons of oil and another sprinkling of salt. Mix together with your hands and smooth out to as much of a single layer as possible on the baking sheet.


Bake for 1 hour, stirring a few times, until tender and roasted. Serve immediately.


Try it cold too; my mom claims it's da bomb. Of course, she didn't say it's da bomb, but I'm laughing right now for two reasons. 1. I don't think she's ever said da bomb in her life (I think this is a first for me as well) and 2. What a stupid saying that is. I mean, bombs are bad and da is not a word.

One thing is for certain: I think I've rekindled my relationship with beets. They are like the jealous boyfriend type though -- they leave their mark everywhere.









Nutrition Information: Calories 268; Total Fat 11g; Total Carb 39g; Fiber 7g; Sugars 10g; Protein 4g 
*Nutrition information has been calculated using an online recipe calculator tool.
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Monday, February 20, 2012

Minnie Mouse Thank You Notes


Even though our Minnie Mouse birthday party ended over a month ago, I still had one more Minnie Mouse task to tackle -- the thank you notes. I used large envelopes (5.25 x 7.25") because I always seem to run out of room for my message on anything smaller. I also used a cropped version of a picture taken from the actual party.

Since I didn't use my Mickey/Minnie Mouse mini punch for anything thus far, I decided to break it out for the thank you notes.


I purchased mine at Michaels last year for our Mickey Mouse first birthday party.

Here's what you need to make these quick and cute Minnie Mouse-themed thank you notes:

Black card stock
Yellow card stock
Red card stock
White card stock
Mickey Mouse mini punch
1/8-inch black ribbon
1/8-inch red ribbon
Double-sided tape

I started by cutting my 5 x 7" base out of black card stock. I then cut my second layer using the yellow card stock. I cut the yellow layer so it measured 4.5 x 6.5". Then in the the lower left-hand corner, I punched out my Minnie Mouse ears silhouette.


Using my double-sided tape, I attached the yellow layer to the black layer.


Then I created another layer using the red card stock. I cut this layer 4 x 5". I cut a white piece of card stock (this area is where I wrote my message) at 3.5 x 4.5". I attached the white layer to the red layer.


Next I attached the red layer to the yellow layer.


Then I taped the yellow Mickey Mouse silhouette I punched out of the yellow card stock to the top right-hand corner of the thank you note.



I cropped my picture and cut out a black background .25" bigger on all sides and then taped them together. I attached the picture to the lower right-hand corner.

The last step in this project is turning the Mickey silhouettes into Minnie silhouettes by adding a black bow and red bow to the ears using zots.



This was the perfect ending to our Minnie Mouse birthday festivities!


I completed the thank you notes by writing a personal message on each card and of course, popping them in the mail!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

168-Calorie Strawberry Cranberry Smoothie


I've been having problems getting in the zone with eating; I haven't been able to find a natural rhythm. It's been sort of spiraling downward since autumn and it all seemed to fall apart when Christmas hit. I felt like I was craving so much sugar. Every night I would get this huge sugar rush and I would search the house for anything with even a trace amount of sugar to devour.

Needless to say, I'm puffy and I feel a sort of general malaise. Through all of this though, I've been running and strength training and regardless of all of the hard work, I haven't been seeing any results. Quite honestly, I've gained weight. So two weeks ago, I decided to change my workout schedule. Instead of working out in the morning and rushing around all stress-filled, I decided to workout at night, right after everyone ate dinner and then jump straight in the shower. In addition to decreasing the stress in the morning, I was hoping this would stop my night time cravings.

It took a little getting used to, such as getting the energy to workout after putting in a full day with the kids, but I slowly figured out how much I need to eat so I won't be cramped or sluggish when running and what I need in terms of energy to actually fuel my runs. Coffee, I have found, drank about a half an hour before I run, is essential for me.

Even though I successfully moved my workout regimen from the morning to the night, I still was in a funk with food, so I decided to try eating six small meals a day in an effort to curb what has become my nocturnal eating habit. Guess what? I don't feel famished anymore, which of course, means I am not starving so much that I will shove whatever is closest to me into my mouth. Healthy eating habits seem to disappear when I'm starving, so the key for me seems to be eating six small meals a day. I'm not even hungry come 8:00 pm. It's great!

In essence, I am eating two small breakfast meals. So after I feed the kids, I have a Van's waffle with a bit of peanut butter and jelly and cottage cheese (I bought some Kalona SuperNatural cottage cheese because it was on sale and it is the best damn cottage cheese I have ever tasted. Ever.) with some chopped berries or fruit. Then roughly two hours later, I have a smoothie.


Ever since I got a Vitamix for my birthday last year, I have been experimenting with all sorts of smoothies. It just so happened I got it when cranberries were on sale because of the holidays, so I stocked up on bags and bags of cranberries and just threw them in the freezer. I also stocked up on strawberries during the summer when they are so sweet and so inexpensive and froze them on a baking sheet and then piled them into a freezer bag.


So that's how I became absolutely addicted to this 168-calorie strawberry cranberry smoothie. It is so naturally sweet and tart; I sometimes eat it with a spoon from a bowl because it is reminiscent of a thick sherbert.

Strawberry Cranberry Smoothie






Makes 1 Large Smoothie

Ingredients:

1 cup unsweetened almond milk
1/2 cup frozen strawberries
1/2 cup frozen cranberries
1 scoop Tera'swhey Pomegranate Cranberry Goat Whey Protein Powder
1 tablespoon chia seeds
1/2 teaspoon NuNaturals Stevia

Put 3/4 of the almond milk, plus the rest of the ingredients in the bowl of your blender and pulverize.


My Vitamix usually gets a little clogged, which is why I save a splash of almond milk to get it going again.

Mix until everything is smooth, including the chia seeds. Serve immediately.


Because I have a high-powered blender, my chia seeds get totally smashed and there is nothing crunchy at all in this smoothie. If you don't have a high-powered blender, you might want to grind the chia seeds in a coffee grinder before adding them so you're not chewing your smoothie. Because then I guess it would not be called a smoothie and instead maybe a chewy? I don't know.

Happy smoothie-making!



Nutrition Information: Calories 168; Total Fat 4g; Total Carb 22g; Fiber 8g; Sugars 7g; Protein 14g 

*Nutrition information has been calculated using an online recipe calculator tool
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