Alaska Agenda!

Just finished packing for Alaska! Here is a very brief rundown of our agenda!

Day 1 – Travel to Alaska, Stay one night in Anchorage

Day 2 – Travel to McKinley – Stay one night

Day 3 – Travel to Denali Wilderness Lodge – Stay 2 nights. Will be visiting sled dog farms & hiking!

Day 4 – Denali

Day 5 – Travel to Whittier to board Cruise Ship

Day 6 – Scenic Cruising

Day 7 – Scenic Cruising

Day 8 – Skagway – Rock Climbing & Rappelling – Skagway Brewing

Day 9 – Juneau – Bike & Brew Mendenhall Glacier

Day 10 – Ketchikan – Sea Kayaking

Day 11 – Scenic Cruising

Day 12 – Arrive in Vancouver, Fly Home!

I CAN NOT WAIT. Going to do one more workout/shower before heading down to my parents for the night so we can catch a ride with the van to the airport!  ITS HERE ITS HERE ITS HERE! ITS HAPPENING! Zooohhmahgidygoddlajwdoihasdw!!

I will try and post and bring you updates while its happening, but the last thing I want is for blogging to get in the way of me fully experiencing everything I can, so no promises! But I’ll be journaling and writing down the deets to transpose to my blog when I get home!

xo R

Overwhelmed

I leave for Alaska on Tuesday and have so much stuff to get done. This is also one of my rare weeks that I’m working 40 hours. (YAY MONEY!) Needless to say, it has been crazy .

I’m drawing power from my very wise sister-in-law’s advice about how IT’S OKAY TO SAY, “NO!”.

We need to create priorities and we dont always have time for everything. Sometimes I just need to cancel. Not because I have something else to do, but because its been a freaking busy week and I need a moment to myself to breathe and not punch everyone I see in their ovaries (or testicles).

I’m such a people pleaser. And I ALWAYS try and make time for everyone and go everywhere with everyone. But we have to remember that WE are our own number ones!

Its okay to be selfish when it comes to you’re own happiness. “Do what you want, when you want to”….as my best friend, A, said (not so eloquently during Cinco De Mayo freshman year in college).

Cheers to “Me Time”.

xo R

Wine or Chocolate?

I love my boyfriend because when I’m having an off day, he just says, “Wine or Chocolate?”

He will do anything to put a smile on my face, put me in better spirits and make me feel loved. He gets me. And I love him for that. 

Work-it Wednesday: Look at what you’re putting in your mouth!

The quality of the food you put into your body is going to determine how successful you are in achieving your weight management goals.  Which is precisely why when I did Insanity everyday and followed the exercise portion to a tee, but still had a Wawa classic hoagie for lunch most days, I didn’t lose ANY weight.

I always thought that formula for weight loss was making Output > Input.  As long as I’m getting rid of more calories that I’m putting in my body, I’ll lose weight.  Wow, was I wrong.   The moment I started changing my eating, it was a light switch reaction. 

Low-Glycemic diets — the word diet means ANYTHING your body is consuming, let the adjective describe the noun, you can have a fast food diet, a terrible diet, a paleo diet etc. — consists of an abundance of high-fiber vegetables, fruits, beans and legumes, lean proteins from both meat and dairy sources along with healthy fats from almonds and avocados.

The glycemic index was created by Dr. David J. Jenkins and a team of researchers at the University of Toronto in 1981 to help diabetics manage their blood sugar levels. It ranks food containing carbohydrates on a scale of 1-100. Carbohydrates often get a bad-rap, but the right carbs, rich in fiber and nutrients, dictate how full you feel, how mentally alert you are, and how much energy you have throughout the day!

 

GLYCEMIC INDEX RANKINGS:

Low: 0-55

Medium: 56-69

High: 70 and above

 

Controlling the GI (Glycemic Index) of your foods promotes normal blood sugar levels and enables the body to stay in fat-burning mode. WOOO! By changing your diet, you will have more energy, more focus and be more productive.

ITS NOT EASY TO EAT HEALTHY. Especially at first.  I’m not gonna lie to you. Losing weight is rarely ever easy. It requires planning and preparation, two things that frozen meals and drive-thru windows make it SO EASY to ignore. 

Benefits of Glycemic-Impact Eating:

  • Reduce sensitivity to insulin
  • Support normal blood sugar levels
  • Healthy Heart
  • Lose weight & Control Weight
  • Support normal blood cholesterol levels
  • Minimize carb cravings
  • Manage hunger and keep you fuller longer
  • Minimize energy crashes
  • Prolong physical endurance

GI explanations  <—Great explanation of GI eating and its relation to your energy levels throughout the day!

I hope to talk more in the future about food and planning and meal preparation, but hopefully this enlightens some of you to something you may not have known! 

If you have any questions, please feel free to comment so I can respond, off to work!

xo R

Prepping for Alaska

We leave for Alaska in ONE WEEK! I can’t believe this trip we’ve been planning for two years is almost here!

I’ve done research on weather, hours of daylight, sunrise, sunset, where the cruise boat ports, local town maps, craft breweries, excursions, cruise ship photos, videos, room layouts, packing lists, what to wear, and how to layer! I’m sure that doesn’t even cover half of everything I’ve looked into!

I can’t wait to experience Alaska.  I’ve got my GoPro, so I’ll will be taking videos hiking, rock climbing, biking and kayaking to edit into a documentary film of the family vaca. 

Itineraries have been made! WE ARE EIGHT DAYS AWAY!

I plan on posting as often as I can.  I am not sure how the wifi situation will be, we will have to be flexible, and I don’t want this to get in the way of fully experiencing everything I can while I’m there.

If you have ever been to Alaska and have any tips for packing, sightseeing, what you liked, etc., I would love to hear it!

xo R

DIY Cardboard Letter with Découpage Tutorial

In honor of our beautiful little bun bun that passed away 2 weeks ago, I wanted to create a little memorial for her.  The corner where her cage was is looking rather empty, and it’s always sad to notice the emptiness… so I came up with an idea that incorporates lots of photos of her to help bring a smile to our faces and keep our memories strong. 

Cardboard letter with Decoupage

Yes you can go and purchase a cardboard letter from your local craft store.  They aren’t that expensive. But say you want a specific font, or size, or you just like crafts and saving money (like me!), you can make your own at home!

Attention to Balance DIY Cardboard Letter & Découpage!

Materials:

  • 2 cereal boxes (you may only need on, depending on the letter, 2 to be safe!
  • Exacto Knife/Scissors
  • Scotch Tape
  • Newspaper or Phonebook
  • Water (for Paper Mache Mix)
  • Flour (For Paper Mache Mix)
  • Sandpaper
  • Acrylic Paint
  • Mod Podge (Get DIY homemade version here (SeeKateSew))
  • Paint Brush
  • Photos (optional)

First, I started by opening the box up by just ripping it apart where it was glued together, no cutting needed.

Attention to Balance DIY Cardboard Letter & Découpage!

Attention to Balance DIY Cardboard Letter & Découpage!Second, I free-handed the letter “E” (for Ellie) that I wanted.  You can find one on google, print it out and trace it.  That’s the easier way to do it, especially if you don’t trust your free hand skills, but we also have no ink in our printer lol

 

Attention to Balance DIY Cardboard Letter & Découpage!

 

Next, using the Exacto Knife, I cut out the cardboard that wasn’t needed, only the area in the middle, do not cut off the tabs/nutrition labels, etc.  I then traced the E on the other side of the cardboard, and cut out those scraps as well.  

As you can see, I did not cut the center piece already connecting the two E’s where I was going to have to connect them later anyways, saves some hassle! As you will soon be able to tell from the pictures, I’m essentially turning this cereal box inside out. 

Attention to Balance DIY Cardboard Letter & Découpage!Attention to Balance DIY Cardboard Letter & Découpage!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once both sides have been cut, start taping everything together to make a solid E.

Attention to Balance DIY Cardboard Letter & Découpage!Attention to Balance DIY Cardboard Letter & Découpage!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now, using the remaining scraps of the Cheerio’s box and some pieces from the other cereal box, measure and cut and tape so the E becomes a solid structure.

Attention to Balance DIY Cardboard Letter & Découpage!

PAPER-MACHE TIME!

Mix equal parts flour and water to create a pancake-batter-like consistency.  I recommend starting off with 1/2 cup flour & 1/2 cup water.  Rip (not cut) the newspaper or phonebook paper into strips of varying lengths about 1-2 inches wide.

Lay down something on the table/ground, this will get messy.

Dip the strips into the mix, wipe off as much excess “batter” as possible and start applying it to the letter in a random, mismatched, criss-cross pattern. I try not to overlap too much so that it dries quicker. Once you have completely covered the letter with one layer it is very important to let it dry completely. If you put on a second layer while the first is still wet it could get moldy. Be patient, let it dry.  

Now I only did two layers of paper-mache, but I’ve seen people do three or more. I am just too damn lazy.

Sorry I couldn’t get pictures of this process, my hands were SO MESSSYY!!

Attention to Balance DIY Cardboard Letter & Découpage!Wait a full 24 hours for it to dry, and then take some sand paper to it. I used whatever we had, it was a fine grain sandpaper. I then painted the letter (using acrylic paint) everywhere that I didn’t decide to paste pictures too (i.e the sides & back). Here is the E sanded and painted!

You could just paint the letter and be done here!

If you want to make it more personalized, continue on!

Attention to Balance DIY Cardboard Letter & Découpage!

Buy or make Mod Podge using glue & water, See tutorial here (SeeKateSew))

The final step was the toughest. Choosing, cutting, and positioning the pictures. Be patient, put on some Doctor Who, and get to work! I put a coat of Mod Podge on the E, then on the back of the picture, let it air dry a little, waved it around for about 10 seconds, and then stuck it on and held it for about 10 seconds. 

Seal the pictures on by by using some Mod Podge on the front of the pictures where they overlap or meet the edges.

VOILA! You can hang this or just sit it in a window sill like we did. If you have any questions, please comment and I will answer :)

Renee

You could just paint the letter and be done

Work it Wednesday! HIIT Benefits & Workout

High Intensity Interval Training HIIT workout fitness exerciseConfession: I’m not a fan of working out.  I do it so I can drink good beer and eat more cheese than a person should. Living a healthy lifestyle is a give-take relationship. It requires flexibility. It requires balance. KICK ASS for 12 minutes a day and enjoy more of your day to a fuller extent!

I lost 25 pounds at home doing HIITs and eating right. So today, I’m going to share with you on why I chose High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) and why it may be a good fit for you as well.

1) AIN'T NOBODY GOT TIME FOR THAT

An hour long workout?  Running endlessly on a treadmill? Going to the gym? These are a list of things that I don’t want to do.  High Intensity Interval Workouts only take 12 minutes.  That was the biggest selling point to me.  Working out at all is not going to be fun for me, but I’d rather suffer for only 12 minutes than 60!  HOWEVER, you will be busting your ass harder than you ever have running on a treadmill.  If we are only going for 12 minutes, WE ARE GOING FOR 12 MINUTES!

2) AFTERBURN

Your body will continue to burn calories for up to 48 hours after you are done working out. Wait…..WHAT? Yes please.

3) NEVER BORING

Ever zone out running on a treadmill?  Yeah, me neither! However, when I’m on a treadmill, I try and not look at the time, I cover it with a towel or magazine just hoping it will make time move faster (it never does). 

With HIIT, you are working your ass off for 30-50 seconds and then changing to the next thing. It’s constantly challenging your body and you never have time to get bored.

4) WEIGHTS BURN MORE FAT, FASTER

Alright ladies: You will not get bulky. So just stop, right now.  Lifting heavy will only help you shed fat faster.  If you’re not taking daily doses of synthetic testosterone, you are in the clear.  MUSCLE DICTATES METABOLISM.  The more lean muscle you have on your body, the more fat you are burning, even at rest.  Incorporate some weights into your HIIT workouts for even faster results!

5) DO IT ANYWHERE!

HIIT incorporates bodyweight exercises (lunges, squats, burpees, tuck jumps, push-ups) so you can literally do them anywhere. Apartment? Check. Hotel Room (while your family watches in jealousy)? Check. Park? Check. 

HIITs are great for vacation and business trips.  You want to stay active and get a workout in, but you have a busy schedule? Easy. HIITS are roughly 12 minutes. No more sneaking down to the hotel fitness center to run on their 1980’s treadmill! 


So, to RECAP!

You will burn more calories, in less time, doing an exciting workout anywhere you want to? Now your next question maybe, What does a HIIT workout look like? 

I’ve created one for you to try!

Work it Wednesday HIIT Workout Fitness

Using your smartphone, you can download in Interval Timer app, or you can find one online and just pull it up on your computer for your at-home workout.

If you have weights at home or take this workout to the gym and can include a medicine ball/free weights to make this a little more difficult, do it!  It’s even more efficient!

You work as hard as you can for the full 50 seconds!  Make alterations where you have to, drop the weight, but DO NOT STOP. Lower the intensity before you just give up and take a break. The most important part is to keep going until you hear the buzzer.  

Let me know how you did and what you thought of the first ever Work-It Wednesday!  Did you learn anything? Did you sweat? 

Whole Wheat Blueberry Pancakes, BITCH.

This weekend, I attended a Blueberry Festival and now have a quart of blueberries to use!

That means ALL DA BLUEBERRY PANCAKES! This is a great recipe for just two people, and we each got two decent sized fluffy pancakes! (Four Pancakes Total)

Whole Wheat Blueberry Pancakes Recipe

RECIPE:

  • 1 cup Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoons Baking Powder
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 cup Milk (we use 1%, but you can substitute with your favorite)
  • Blueberries, HOWEVER MUCH YOU WANT! See photos to see how much I used :)
  • Butter ( appx 1 Tbsp total) for after flipping, coating pan optional
  • Non-Stick Cooking Spray for coating pan

 

Whole Wheat Blueberry Pancake IngredientsINSTRUCTIONS

Heat pan over medium heat and spray with non-stick cooking spray or coat with butter, depending on how fat you want to be today.

Combine Dry Ingredients (Whole Wheat Flour & Baking Powder)

Whole Wheat Blueberry Pancake IngredientsMix in wet ingredients (Milk & Egg).  If it is too water-y, add a dash more flour until you’ve reached desired consistency. If it is too thick, add a dash more milk until you’ve reached desired consistency. Then just mix that shit up a couple times, don’t go crazy…you ….crazy people.

Whole Wheat Blueberry Pancake Ingredients

Pour some of that goop into a pan and plop some blueberries in it right away!

I’m a crazy person and prefer every bite I take to be consistent, so I prefer to plop blueberries into pancakes rather than into the batter so that I know I’m getting even distribution. Yeah, I know…..I’m a crazy person. Do what makes your heart happy!

Whole Wheat Blueberry Pancake IngredientsFlip that shit, LIKE A PRO, no excuses. Then put a little bit a butter on top.  Every stove is different, so just test/check the readiness using your spatula around the edges and taking a peek underneath!

This picture shows more butter than I ever use, but it was extra delicious. #fatday

Whole Wheat Blueberry Pancake Ingredients

Stack on a plate, add some syrup of your choice! This would obviously go even more delicious with a blueberry syrup, but I just use whatever we have on hand, which happened to be some good ole Log Cabin made with no High Fructose Corn Syrup.

My boyfriend was spawned from the devil and doesn’t use syrup.  I don’t know why we are together sometimes. He clearly doesn’t have his priorities in line ;-)

Whole Wheat Blueberry Pancake IngredientsWhole Wheat Blueberry Pancake Ingredients

 

Let me know how you like them.  Did you make an substitutes? How did they turn out?

R

Historic Bethlehem Blueberry Festival!

Blueberry Festival

Yesterday, T and I went to the Historic Bethlehem Blueberry Festival!  I’ve been planning to go for the last 6 weeks and somehow forgot about it until we drove past it on our way grocery shopping. So we made a 2 hour pitstop to get the full experience!

The festival had:

  • Tasting Tent
  • Three stages providing various entertainment
  • Craft Tents
  • Food
  • Produce
  • Pony Rides & Petting Zoo
  • & the Bethlehem Township Mounted Police

The Tasting Tent featured 6 companies providing Beer, Wine & Mead of different varieties all crafted locally. This
“Pints from the Past” Tasting Tent included The Colony Meadery (made from fermenting honey!), Pinnacle Ridge Winery, Brew Works (a local and regional favorite), Funk Brewing (taproom opening soon in Emmaus, PA, very exciting!), and Frecon’s Cidery.

Blueberry Festival Tasting Tent Historic Bethlehem

The Colony Meadery provided a very large variety of meads to sample.  My favorite was Mo-Me-Doh, as it’s name hints, it is like a Mead Mojito and had hints of mint and lime! Very delicious.  This was my first time sampling mead and I’m hooked!  Sweet to the taste, full of flavor that hangs in your mouth, more viscous than a wine or beer.

The Pinnacle Ridge Winery also had a large variety of wines to sample.  I love Rieslings, so I sampled their award winning recipe.  It was more tart than I was expecting, reminding me more of a Gewürztraminer, which I still love :)  I also tried “Niagara” which reminded me of Welch’s White Grape Juice. It was sweet and delicious!

20140719_170614

Brew Works had their thematic Blueberry Belch on tap. One of my personal favorites.  It’s light and refreshing and a great summer fruit beer. They make each 15 barrel batch with 150 pounds of 100% real fruit!  It’s definitely noticeable and makes a real difference compared to breweries that use artificial crap.  This unfiltered wheat ale is one to try!  I highly recommend it!

Blueberry Festival Samples Historic Bethlehem

I was expecting more for the Entrance Fee w/ Tasting Tent @ $15/person.  The website made it seem there would be food for sampling and more breweries than the 6 they had.  The Tasting Tent was the highlight, without it, the Blueberry Festival would have been a bust for us.

Overall, we had a great time, ran into some great friends, tasted some great beer, wine & mead, and spent a beautiful day outside!  We also walked away with a quart of blueberries!  Follow me to be notified when I post some awesome recipes featuring blueberries this week :-)

Burnside Plantation Historic Bethlehem Blueberry Festival