Monthly Archives: April 2014

A beautiful spring day

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Creative Idea Jar for Summer Fun!

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Summer is almost here and with it will be lazy weekends spent at home as well as hours at the ballfields for my sons’ games.

In order to avoid the “I’m bored” broken record once school is out and to encourage good behavior, I made an idea jar for us to pull ideas out of when we can’t make up our minds or when the kiddos deserve a special treat. I combined creative ideas from several lists to make it specific for our area as I wanted to stick with free or very cheap activities.

Here is my list:
Ha Ha Tonka State Park
Big Spring Park
Explore a new part of town
Tennis
Street hockey
Basketball
Volleyball
Badminton
Bike ride
Morse park trail
Play board games
City pool
Creek
Lake
NWA
Make dessert
Picnic
Candlelit Dinner
Make a news show
Scavenger Hunt
Show
Puzzle
Karoake
Legos
Reading time
Water balloon fight
Tea party
Yoga
Make a writing code
BBQ
Spa night
Play Charades
Work out
Lift Weights
Play frisbee
Color/draw
Sprinkler
Campout
Sidewalk chalk
Write letters to family
Play with Larry the dog
Dress up Larry the dog
Food art
Go fishing
Make a fort
Obstacle course
Paint rocks
Nature Hike
Play memory
Mini golf
Dance party
Stargaze
Make popsicles
Make nature rubbings
Fly a kite
Skip rocks
Wash the car
Ice Cream Sundae party
Feed the ducks/fish
Go to the library
Play soccer
Magazine clipping collage
Play I-spy
Bake food for neighbors
Eat watermelon
Catch some lightning bugs
Ride bikes
Ride scooters
Feed the birds
Make sun tea
Go yard saling
Go to the donut shop for breakfast
Read outside
Blow bubbles
Have a sleepover
Make your own pizza
Watergun fight
Make tie-die
Geocaching
Play hide and seek
Hit golf balls
Batting cages
Go to drive-in
Go bowling
Make a wind chime
Science experiments
Go to a baseball game
Have a weenie roast/s’mores
Have a race
Hickory Creek boat race
Make paper airplanes
Make a bird feeder
Make pasta necklaces
Microwave Ivory soap
Make toy parachutes
Fun with glow bracelets
Bat with water balloons
Road trip
Walk to the flea markets
Walk to the coffee shop
Walk to the donut shop
Sidewalk Mancala with chalk
Play catch
Cloud watch
Diet coke and mentos mix
Run at the football field
Make a stepping stone
Balloon tennis
Go to the Crowder trail
Go camping
Night walk with flashlights
Pictionary
Eat every meal outside all day
Make a solar oven
Take something old apart
Play poker with pennies
Make and play cornhole
Painter’s tape on floors to make lava
Solo cup wall building
Toothpick–mini marshmallow building

The kids were so stoked when they read the list. I was surprised by their favorite ones. The library? Cloud watching? Mmkay…

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I have this lovely jar I acquired that was just perfect for our project. We are all excited to have a free night the next few weeks to start trying some of the ideas! 🙂

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Brownie in a Mug. Oh yes.

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So tonight I made the legendary Brownie in a Mug that I’ve seen pinned time and time again. With a few changes. Walk with me…

In place of dairy milk I used soy milk. Only because I bought some and the use by date is coming up quickly. I also used dark chocolate chips instead of milk chocolate. Because that’s healthier. And that’s exactly what brownies are about is health. I also used only 2 Tbsp of oil.

Looking good…

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Ooh looks like brownie batter!
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Ok– a little spongey but the texture isn’t too bad. With ice cream it would be pretty spectacular.
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I don’t have any ice cream, so I throw a marshmallow on top of the next mug. 20140408-202323.jpg
All in all, a successful pin. And definitely great for us singles when we start craving something sweet! Ok Pinterest, I’m on the road to trusting you again…

Dating – stop being too nice

So a mutual friend kind of introduced me to a guy who she thought would suit me. (We shall call him Mike. As in Mike Rowe from Dirty Jobs.)

Anyway, I should have been tipped off that we were different people when he texted me the following: “Hey this is Mike. [friend] jus gave me ur number jus wanted too say hey sorry it’s so late”. He also spelled our mutual friend’s name wrong. I wrote it off as rushed guy texting and swore not to hold it against him.

So we text a little for a day or so and he calls me. I answer. He is yelling and cussing a lot – mainly about other drivers but also about his drive thru service. I wonder at his slurred sound if he is drunk. He shouts at me to tell him where I live as he is headed my way. I don’t want to. He can’t hear me. I already might have plans. He keeps yelling at me over the roar of his diesel truck. I give up and tell him where I live.

Now let’s pause a moment. I realize I sound like a moron at this point. I really did not want to meet up with this guy and actually already had talked about making plans with a friend but she wouldn’t make up her mind for like an hour. And I was cornered. I’m a people pleaser. And I don’t like confrontation.

Back to the story…Mike pulls up to my house in the largest and loudest truck I’ve ever seen and heard. It sounds like a tractor pull is taking place in my driveway. He sits in the truck. I eventually worry that my neighbors will be annoyed and wander out to the truck where he is frantically throwing trash from the passenger seat and floorboards into the back seat. I say I really can’t come as I might have plans, I’m just waiting on my friend to text me back. He tells me to get in, we’ll just take a drive and talk. (Yes, I realize I’m very naïve.)

We drive. Engine noise and smell come through a hole in the dash. He smells like he has been drinking already. The exhaust is made to sound loud as well. I cannot hear a thing he is saying and we are screaming. Also, he is very dirty from work, which isn’t generally a big deal but he wants to hang in public. We go to a restaurant bar and he orders the special, which is a 32 oz. beer. We sit mostly in silence as I endure his slow sips of beer. I lament that I have to work early. The third time I mention this, he asks if I’m ready to go. I am relieved. “Yes.

We leave and as we pull out he turns the opposite way from my house. I remind him that my home is the other way. He says he knows but that he wants to drive around and talk. I get nervous. I again remind him that I need to get to bed like now. He starts saying I must not like him and that he will never see me again.

I lie. I tell him I like him just fine it’s just that I have to make work a priority. His driving scares the batshit outta me and I realize his complaining about others’ driving earlier is because they were in his way as he drove down the center of the road.

I make it home, I quickly stick my hand out and shake his hand and get the hell outta that loud truck. I’ve still texted him back but I don’t answer the phone when he calls. I don’t have the guts to tell him that it isn’t going to work out. Long story short, I’m bad at dating as well as breaking it off.
)

Ridiculously Deliciously Healthy Vegetable Soup

Let me take a selfie…
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Ok, now let’s proceed. Years ago when I was a newlywed, I made this incredible soup from a recipe I got from Leanne Ely, a nutritionist. I didn’t know how to cook just yet. I remember shopping in the produce department for a rutabaga or turnip and not knowing what they looked like. Regardless, it turned out really delicious and the only complaint was “I feel like it should have meat in it”. What can I say? We are Americans living in the Midwest! So I threw some diced ham in there and the husband was appeased.

I recently found this recipe again and made a big ol’ pot of stew and have been reheating it for a hearty, low-calorie lunch or dinner. Give it a try! I don’t like cabbage and I sure as heck didn’t know what a turnip tasted like but this always turns out pretty dang delicious. I did read somewhere that the cabbage can get kind of slimey if you freeze it, so you might leave that out if you are planning to freeze it.

Awesome Veggie Soup
Serves 12

1 tablespoon olive oil, or as needed
1 large onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, pressed
2 large carrots, chopped
2 small celery stalks, chopped
1 medium turnip (or rutabaga), chopped
1/4 head cabbage, chopped
2 small russet potatoes, peeled and chopped
2 cups green beans, cut in 1″ pieces
1/2 teaspoon thyme
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 (28-oz.) can diced tomatoes, undrained
6 cups low sodium chicken broth (or vegetable broth)

In a large soup pot, heat the one tablespoon of the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the onion and cook till nearly translucent, now add the garlic. Don’t let the garlic brown and saute another couple of minutes.

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Add the rest of the chopped veggies, sauteing for just a minute or two; use extra olive oil if you need it for the rest of the veggies. Remember–you’re not cooking them– just sauteing them for the wonderful flavor this quick step will infuse in your soup. Add the thyme and salt and pepper while sauteing. Now put the veggies in the crock-pot, add the tomatoes and broth. Cook on low 7-9 hours (depending on your crock-pot) or high 4-6 hours. Just before serving, gently mash some of the potato chunks against the side of the crock-pot to thicken the soup, give it a stir and serve.

Nutrition Per Serving: 94 Calories; 3g Fat; 7g Protein; 12g Carbohydrate; 3g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 286mg Sodium. Exchanges: 0 Grain(Starch); 1/2 Lean Meat; 2 Vegetable; 1/2 Fat. Points: 2

Give it a shot! You won’t regret it! Here is how it looked just before I put it in the crock pot!

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The simple pleasures in life

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Call me crazy, but one of the most simple and wonderful activities for me is hanging clothes on the line. It brings to mind hot summer days as a child, riding my bike back and forth through the cool, damp clothes.

It takes me back to when when I cloth diapered my babies and hanging the cloth diapers on the clothesline was one of my few personal pleasures, a moment in the sun to myself.

Lastly, it reminds me of my grandma. The simple pleasures in life that bring you happiness are invaluable indeed.

This weekend, I finally replaced my rusted and fallen traditional style clothesline with a new umbrella type that screams city dweller. However as I rushed home at lunch to hang out sheets to dry in the sun and wind, my dress heels poking into the ground, I found my zen.

A better workout in 14 minutes AKA how to look a fool in public

Thank the good Lord that I have found an alternative to jogging. I try – oh how I try – to hit the gym and get a good run in. But I suck at it. I get short of breath, get fatigued quickly, and generally dislike jogging (I get motion sickness when I try to watch TV while running). Today, I read an article that stated that jogging is too damaging to the body to use as a form of excercise when there are alternatives. Since sprinting requires more force and a greater range of motion than jogging, it’s more metabolically demanding. Also, a combination of sprinting and walking increases metabolism better than simple jogging.

Also, sprinting requires more fuel than jogging, which is better for those who want to slim down. When training for body composition, you want to make movements as inefficient (and inherently difficult) as possible. As with any movement, the more you jog, the more efficient you become at it, and the longer you need to run to trigger the same response. So, here’s the High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) that they recommended:

The Tabata interval program is performed four days a week in accordance with the following protocol:

  • 10-minute warm-up at 50 percent max effort
  • 20 seconds max effort
  • 10 seconds rest
  • Repeat 2:1 cycle eight times

Now I can do this. And if you add the time up, thats only 14 minutes! So much more doable than an hour in the gym.

However, we run in to the next problem– If you are constantly sprinting and walking on the treadmill, you’re going to get some weird looks. (I totally stared at the girl doing lunges on the treadmill…it was weird.) So the obvious alternative is to do this outside. But I will have to push through the stares pf passersby and try to stick with this. For you information sponges, here is the full article on this method of HIIT.

Happy Sprinting!

Damn you, Pinterest

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I was making my grocery list and adding some SUPERFOODS that I had seen mentioned on Pinterest. I capitalized it because that just seems obligatory. I added chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, blueberries, kale…all the healthy crap we should be eating instead of the Arby’s I had for lunch.

One thing I read about today was that sardines are really great for you. As a lackluster fan of fish in general, I thought snacky lil fish might be more palatable so I bought a variety of types of sardines. I’m ready to get my SUPERFOOD on!

Ok, have y’all ever tried sardines? There’s bones and guts in there. I’ll stick with the blueberries.

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Spanx–proceed with caution

At the end of a long workday…and after a day of killing it in my little black dress (yeow!), I thought I was going to finally have to make the “Help, I can’t get out of my spanx” phone call to a friend. While removing my black undergarment, it got kinda stuck below my shoulders and my thumbs became entangled with my arms wrapped around me. In essence, I was locked into a Spanx straight jacket. This went on for several minutes, resulting in sweating from the effort, which didn’t help matters. After some pretty intense struggling, I was able to free myself. That was a close one.

My friends should still consider themselves on call as the weekend is approaching.

Don’t scare me…a cautionary tale

As a result of my ex-husband constantly scaring me, I have developed an uncontrollable startle reaction. He loved to hide and scare me, come home early and psychologically terrorize me…just generally scare the crap out of me purely for his own enjoyment. In sharing this with my girl friends, I find this is a common male talent/past time. Also…excessive tickling and sticking their finger in your mouth when you yawn.

Why do they do these things?! I’m not going to be able answer that today, but what I am going to do is give an example of the havoc this can wreak on a woman’s psyche.

Fast forward a year after my divorce. I’m at work. I’m alone in the office. I’m on the phone with a client discussing their case. Suddenly, an arm reaches around me and gently places a paper on my desk relevant to my phone conversation. I did the natural thing and screamed into my client’s ear like I was being stabbed. My boss stood there wide eyed and wary, not understanding what just happened. The client freaks out asking if I’m okay. I am stunned and embarrassed at my instinctual reaction. Too ashamed to explain that I screamed at a helpful arm, I stutter out, “Uh, something fell and scared me.” Not my most professional moment.

These days, my boss tries to walk loudly on the carpet when coming into my office. If he comes in when I don’t expect him, he makes a lot of noise so as to avoid another screaming situation. Let me tell you, divorce isn’t the answer unless there is no other option, but thank God I can relax in my own home without fear of some jerkwad hiding in the closet.

And this, friends, is why I’m single.