Posted in HomePage, Lifestyle

Summer Staycation

I have been MIA for the last little bit. Well, actually, not really missing in the literal sense, but rather my desk chair has been missing me and me missing it. The Mr. took some time off work and we decided to partake in a very much needed Staycation. It was glorious! It was so nice to spend so much time together and we really enjoyed being together. The Mr. works really hard and when not in the office, he brings his office back home with him and spends time with it in the evenings and on weekends (he is extremely dedicated), so some time away was long overdue, and I was more than thrilled to hold his attention hostage for a fistful of days.

It’s been quite some time since we had an actual VACATION. This is 99.9% due to the fact that we trust no one with our babies, and frankly no one is good enough. (I have an upcoming blog post dedicated entirely to our struggle finding a suitable pet/house sitter… stay tuned!) Anyhoo, we have a vacation scheduled for next month and another next spring, but in the mean time, a Staycation was very much called for and certainly well deserved. We got a ton of stuff done around our house, i.e. landscaping, i.e. sweated our heinie’s off in the sweltering armpit of the devil, aka Summertime in Texas. Our yards look incredible, but I had to catch up on my neglected household duties the last few days, but now… I AM BACK!!! (whoop, whoop)

Other than the yard work, we celebrated The Mr.’s day of birth, my favorite holiday, we shopped, we dined, we explored. We live in such an awesome place, we found things close to home that were new and exciting and not been done in the four summers of living here before now. One day in particular we took a short road trip 90 miles north, and slightly east to Waco, TX. I had stopped in Waco last fall with my visiting parents, upon returning home from Dallas after the State Fair, but The Mr. had never been, so I was anxious to take him up to the booming tourist destination!

I am a planner. Like, to a fault. Spontaneity, and the thought of it makes me anxious and uncomfortable. So, we had our entire day planned out as to do all we wanted and experience, while not leaving our babies alone for too long without relieving their bladders. Our first stop on our journey was to literally one of our favorite places in the world… a gas station! Nope! It’s more than a gas station… Convenience store? Double negative! It is FAAAAARR more than just a convenience store! It is BUC-EES! Oh, you sweet little beaver, how I am always ecstatic to see your chubby cheeks and buck-toothed grin. Be still my heart…

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If you are from Texas, or have driven through Texas, you best-know-what-I-be-talkin’-’bout. Buc-ee is a legend, and rightfully so. The store, literally has most anything you could want or need or dream of. From groceries, to pre-made meals, sides and desserts (my Mama LOVES their freshly baked brownies), to a counter service restaurant with REALLY tasty fare, clothing, pet goods, accessories, toiletries; all donning my boyfriend the beaver, locally made creations, jewelry, home decor, fishing/hunting supplies etc etc. And the bathrooms. They are world famous. Really. WORLD. They are by far the cleanest bathrooms you will ever step foot in, which, to this germaphobe is HUMONGOUS! The bathroom has a full-time cleaning lady that just hangs out in there waiting to clean up after you. Incredible. (Yes, I know, it doesn’t take much for me to get overly excited!)

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I realized later I failed in taking more than two pictures at Buc-ees… oh geez, I guess we’ll have to venture back just to get some photos I can share with my blog-reading friends… darn.

After tearfully waving a ‘See ya later, Gator Beaver’ to Buc, we continued North to the Dr Pepper museum…

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Soda is likely my biggest guilty pleasure. I absolutely love it and crave it, but since being more health conscious and on Weight Watchers, I don’t drink it often. I will treat myself every once in a great while, and 9 outta 10 times, I will want a Dr Pepper.

Dr Pepper is a native of Waco, Texas and happens to be the oldest major soft drink in America. The beverage was created by Dr. Charles Alderton at the Old Corner Drug Store in 1885, predating Coca-Cola by only one year (did ya know that?); it quickly became popular throughout Waco as well as surrounding areas. The museum is located in the 1906 Artesian Manufacturing and Bottling Company building in downtown Waco, and is listed in the Register of Historic Places as the ‘Home of Dr Pepper’. The building itself is quite charming. I am very intrigued and appreciate architecture, especially with such a history. Imagine if the walls could talk; the millions of people that have strolled through the doors over the last 111 years.

The museum actually surprised me with the amount of artifacts it had throughout the three stories in one building, and then another section, dedicated mostly to 7-UP, in the building across the courtyard, along with the old-fashioned gift and soda shoppe. It was very busy on the Thursday we went. Several groups of church folks and kids, so it was a challenge to see/read every detail, which was highly unfortunate. They are in the midst of constructing additional exhibits, and The Mr. and I will likely return to see that and revisit what we missed this go around.

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Looking out the window of the second floor of the main museum building, across to the ‘newer’ section. You can see the Magnolia silos to the right.

 

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Original, and still working water well

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We couldn’t go to the Dr Pepper soda shoppe without enjoying an old-fashioned, overly syrupy soda! I sucked mine down in two seconds flat. No regrets.

After the museum, we hiked around the block to the Magnolia Silos. Now, I enjoy the HGTV show, Fixer Upper, but that is not what draws me to Waco or toward The Silos like apparently everyone else and their brother and cousin and dog; I enjoy The Silos for the atmosphere, the shear fact that Joanna Gaines and I should be style BFFs and the cupcakes. Oh! Did I write cupcake?! Indeedy I did. I have been busting my bootie and slobbering at the thought of these darn cupcakes since October 2016, and I was ready to splurge!! I was even willing to stand in a crowded-like-Disneyland-was-giving-away-free-Mickey-Ears kinda queue to shove one (or two!) of those delectable, buttercream treats in my yapper.

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Really, people?! It’s just a bakery!!

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Last fall, when my parents and I popped quickly (literally, quickly) into the bakery, we only walked out with one single, Pumpkin with Cream Cheese Icing cupcake for us all to share… TO SHARE! Not this time! I really would have liked one of each, but refrained and chose to try the Lemon Lavender (I adore and cannot pass up anything with lemon) and Peach Pie. The Mr. chose The Chocolatier and Banana Pudding.

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Inside the bakery, another queue! And cupcakes.

Other than the total deliciousness of the cupcake, what I appreciate most is the attention to detail in the presentation of the treat. They are pretty…

With the box of goodies in hand, we sat at a cute a little table at the base of one of the Silos and each only ate one of our cakes. I chose to try the Peach Pie and The Mr. chose Banana Pudding first. Although the Peach Pie was tasty with the graham cracker crust as the base to the peach cake, I detected no peach flavor in either the cake or icing. There were chunks of peach in the icing, but no real flavor, which was pretty disappointing. The Banana Pudding on the other hand, was very yummy. **Fast Forward to the night; after returning home, we had our other cupcakes with a cuppa coffee for our dinner… Yup. Two in one day! Take that Weight Watchers!! We screwed you!! The Lemon Lavender was divine! I can’t honestly say I had never consumed the flower before, but both the lemon and the lavender were strong. Very tasty, and different. The Mr. said The Chocolatier was good, but he preferred the Banana Pudding.

We then skipped over to Magnolia and did our best to fight the enormous crowds and browse quickly, which was darn near impossible! Then strolled the rest of the grounds around the food trucks and barn to the gardens before taking the short-ish trek back to the museum where we parked (for FREE!).

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Although our cupcakes were yummy, it certainly did not count as a meal, so we stopped at a local eatery, George’s, for a quick bite to eat.

It was not a fancy joint, by any means, but extensive menu, good, friendly service and pretty darn good food. Most definitely a locals eatery, where the staff certainly knows their patrons by name!

After we ate, we headed towards home… But not before stopping to visit our beaver friend again and pick-up a few necessities; a welcome sign for our front stoop, a couple Rtic Stainless Steel Water Bottles, some farm animals for my kitchen… ya know, necessities.

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cutest couple ever
Had a super-duper-fantabulous-terrific day!
Posted in Cuisine, Lifestyle

Initial Impression: Power Air Fryer XL Pro

I am not overly fond of fried foods. Too much grease nauseates me; however, the fried foods I do like, I like a whole lot… fried chicken, doughnuts, cheese curds, french fries… mmmm nom nom. I have a gazillion kitchen toys (utensils, gadgets and appliances) and am always anxious to try out the next latest and greatest invention. When I get a lazy Saturday morning, which RARELY happens, I enjoy sitting in front of the TV with my mondo-sized-mug-o-coffee and watching Food Network with The Mr. and kids; or when flipping the channels getting captivated by either ‘In the Kitchen with ______’ on QVC or sucked in with one of those uberly-excited, over-dramatic, you’re-going-to-keel-over-if-you-don’t-act-now infomercials. And sometimes, I (we) fall for it.

I learned about Air Frying a year or so ago, and have had a Philips Airfryer in my Amazon cart for about that long. I just never felt the need to spend $300 on a toy I may use every now and then, because again, fried foods make me wanna hurl. But then – I saw the informercial for the Power Air Fryer XL Pro. The demo impressed me. The price was a helluva lot less than the Philips and it had a decent try-it guarantee, so as I do with ALL (literally ALL) things I spend money on, I did research! (Google is my inquiry BFF) It seemed to get some very promising reviews AND, long story short, QVC offered it with special accessories and on 5 Easy Pay ($23.80 got it to my door), so why not? I ordered the 3.4 Qt. in Black.

I was excited to receive my new play thing, and had been dreaming of all the fantastic goodies I could whip up prior to it’s arrival, as it claims to not only ‘fry’ things, but bake, sauté, roast, steam and grill – Whooppee!

First things first… what do you imagine the very first thing is to try in the brand new air fryer? Something I have not really had since starting Weight Watchers – Hand-Cut French Fries! Oh yes, tasty little starchy morsels of goodness, that’s what!

I began with a medium-sized, Texas-grown russet tater. (I failed to take a picture of said tater, but figure you know what I’m talkin’ bout, right?)

I scrubbed it with a potato brush and left the skin-on. Skin-on fries are the tastiest and my favorite!

I then cut it into sticks.

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To remove the access starch, soak in a cold water bath for 15-20 mins.

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Drain off the water and give another rinse with cold water; dry completely! I wrapped in cheesecloth and pressed. I let the bowl sit on the counter for a bit and continued to press to absorb as much moisture as possible.

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Remove the cheesecloth and drizzle with VERY LITTLE oil (olive or vegetable), maybe a 1/2 tsp; sprinkle with salt and toss/mix to coat each potato stick. Cooking with air requires little to no oil. I added oil to help aid in the crispiness of the fry. Place in the fry basket.

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The Power Air Fryer has several presetting options, one being for Fries. Once locking the basket into place, and hitting the Fries button, they begin to cook immediately at 400° for 18 minutes. The user manual instructs you to pull out the basket and toss half way through the cooking process, so at 9 minutes, I did as I was told and then placed back into the paused machine.

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At the end of the 18 minutes, I pulled out the basket and gave them another toss to ensure they all looked done. They probably could’ve gone for an additional minute or two, as the centers were less crispy than I would personally prefer.

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The French fries turned out delicious! I’d say they were a cross between those cooked in an oil fryer and those baked in an oven, with zero greasy or oily residue/taste. Essentially the concept of ‘frying’ with air is nothing more than cooking in a convection oven. The hot, pressured air circulates the food being cooked, sealing in moisture while making the outside crispy. However, the time and energy saved using the countertop appliance vs. my wall oven, especially in the summer, is outstanding!! After my first go, I am extremely excited to try out a plethora of other things!

So, on my scale of 1-5 Bellyrubs, after the initial use, I give the Power Air Fryer XL Pro:

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4 Paws-Up!

 

 

 

 

Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.

-Kate Moss

Food. It is no secret that I love food. I am, however very choosy in what I consume. Not necessarily picky, (ok, perhaps it could be said that I am picky) but I do my best to make good decisions when it comes to food; both for my health and wellness but even more importantly the source in which it came.

I have many likes and many dislikes when it comes to food. At one point in my young life I would give most anything a try and looking back now knowing what certain things are,(think, chicken gizzards, sardines from a can, SUSHI etc.) I am repulsed that I put such things in my mouth. Sure, they may taste good (but do they?!) or are part of some fad, but as a grown adult, I am much more wise as to what hits my tummy; and if I don’t know what something is, well, thank goodness for google!

Right now, at age 37.5, I cannot say I have ever been “fat”. Definitely overweight, but never obese. When I got married to The Mr. (aka Craig, the hubby) in 2001, I weighed less than 100 pounds; I stand at a whopping 5’2.5″, so I was tiny. Granted, I was 21 years old. In the beginning of a happy marriage I likely gained a few ‘comfort’ pounds, but nothing really noticeable. Then 2007 hit. The Mr. was diagnosed with testicular cancer. BOOM!! I became something I had never been, a stress eater. Honestly, during the entire time we were dealing with cancer, my world was a blur. I remember a few things standing out, but mostly my memories are triggered by photos and seeing the girl I had transformed into. My world crumbled to pieces. Perhaps I will dedicate a separate post to the cancer story, but at this time I will just say it was dark and painful. No one, other than Craig and I know what that time was like. No one. Except my scale. I was up at least 65 pounds.

After The Mr.’s treatment (successfully) ended, we decided to slam that chapter of our lives closed, and not just start a new chapter, but rather an entirely new book series. We packed everything we had left and headed for the hills desert. We moved to Henderson, NV in the blistering hot summer of 2009. Starting a fresh new life, I had the motivation to drop a good portion of the stress weight I had been carrying around the last two years. After a strict vegetarian diet and lots of working out via the Nintendo Wii, I lost 30 pounds. I was so very proud of myself and I felt good. I was not, and probably never would be again, the 100 pound petite girl I was 8 years prior, but I succeeded in my mission.

Now, fast forward to the present. Five summers ago, we picked up again, under very different circumstances, and moved to our permanent home of Central Texas. As far as my weight goes, it had fluctuated by only a pound or two here or there. With it being on a steady plateau for many years, I figured, ‘Ok’ I am okay with myself. I know I could shed about 10 pounds and feel even better, BUT– I live in Texas, for crying out loud! I don’t give a rat’s patoot what anyone says, Texas has the best food anywhere. Between the BBQ (oh yeah, I adopted some animal flesh back into my diet since moving South), the Tex-Mex fare and beer, I said I would never want to give any of those things up for the sake of being skinny; and why should I? I basically could eat whatever I wanted, drink between 1-3 beers a day and the scale would still reflect the same number. Oh, and I haven’t even mentioned the sweet tooth I had. I love to cook, but I LOVE to bake… and then eat it!

I believe I have body dysmorphia. I believe I feel and look to others much thinner than I really am. I’d look in the mirror and see someone I was happy with. My clothes sizes reflected the average sized woman for my age. My jeans were a size 8, my tops a Medium, and dresses 8-10. Normal. Why a need for change? I am approaching 40 years old, I think I look damn good for a woman my age, right? Ummm… not so much. I saw myself in pictures, from behind, and realized who I was in my mind was not who I actually was. Again, I am aging. I need to change my habits and ways of eating so that I may live the life I love for as long as possible. It is much less about vanity, but about my health. I want to be healthy AND feel good. I couldn’t care less about what anyone, other than The Mr. thinks of me, I care about my well being. So with that, I decided on a whim to change my life for the better.

There was really no particular ‘thing’ that made me put my foot down and say “I am going to lose weight, damnit!” I just did. I had no time to physically or mentally prepare for the new way of eating. In fact, my brother had come to visit for a few days and we had stocked our pantry full of delicious Texas foods and beer to indulge on during the visit. We ate out at a few of our favorite restaurants and barely touched the treats. The day after my brother headed back home to Colorado, The Mr. and I started our lifestyle change… why? Because perhaps we thought it’d be fun to keep a strict log of everything we put into our mouths and to waste all the stuff we had just lined our shelves with the few days prior, only to have it taunt us; not sure, really, but I was bound and determined to make it a success.

I signed up for Weight Watchers on 04 April 2017. I downloaded the app on my phone, purchased some measuring spoons to keep in my handbag (should we splurge and go on a dinner date) and gathered together meal recipes that included WW points. The Mr. joined me on the journey two days later. We take this very seriously. We are not on a diet. We have begun a lifestyle change. Diets are temporary. We have full intention that this is our permanent routine; it has been for the last 2.5 months, and it has paid off. I could not be more proud of ourselves. And I could not be more thrilled with our progress.

As of today, I am down 22.2 pounds and The Mr. is down 25.8 pounds. This is HUMONGOUS!! I have not been at the weight I am now, for… golly, I can’t remember. Long before the cancer. My initial goal was a reasonable 20 lbs. I have surpassed that and have created a new goal for myself. Once I hit that, I will be doing all I can to maintain the loss and tone-up. I am happy. I feel fantastic and I actually like what I see in photographs. The hard work and sacrifices are absolutely paying off… and the funny thing is, with a few exceptions, I don’t miss a lot. My tastes have changed. I don’t have cravings for sweets; I have a beer MAYBE once every couple of weeks; I really have no desire for those things. I have always loved fresh fruits and vegetables, so including those into my daily meals has been a joy. The toughest thing has been cutting down on dairy. I love milk. I LOVE cheese… but have found that almond milk is a fantastic and tasty alternative! As far as cheese… well, there is no substitute for cheese, so I have it in moderation. That is the beauty of Weight Watchers and what makes it possible for a successful outcome; you are not denied anything. Nothing! If you want to eat it, fine! Pizza? Sure! Ice cream, Ok! Just be aware of the amount it costs from the point bank (allowance) you get each day.

I LOVE life. I especially love MY life and what The Mr. and I have created together, and I want to make the best of it, for as long as I am granted. So, remember, nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.

 

 

What You Eat In Private, You Wear In Public

Posted in Cruelty-free, Lifestyle

My First LOVE GOODLY Box

I love the idea of subscription boxes. I began monthly subscriptions with two beauty boxes years ago when the concept was new. I always looked so forward to the next one arriving in my mailbox to find my new favorite brand. Over time, however they began to disappoint me. The items in the boxes became smaller and smaller ‘sample-sized’ products. (Sephora handed out larger samples than what I was paying for in my box!) So, I cancelled them both. I gave a couple boxes as gifts to others, but never started up for myself again until…

I stumbled upon, what I hope to be the Holy Grail of subscription boxes  – LOVE GOODLY! LOVE GOODLY is my kinda box! They offer Eco Friendly, Non-Toxic and Vegan, beauty, personal care, health & wellness, accessories and style products in their boxes while supporting causes like, Farm Sanctuary, Beagle Freedom Project and Cure Cervical Cancer. I was so excited to sign-up and was very hopeful in what I would get for the bi-monthly membership cost of $29.95. Unfortunately for me, I learned about LOVE GOODLY just after the last box ship date had passed, so I was forced to wait until June. Well, guess what arrived in my mailbox today?! Yup! And I was like a little kid on Christmas dying to see what was inside! Eeeeeep!

I have been putting off buying much needed mascara and a fun summer shade of nail polish in hopes one or both would be in my monthly box, since I had NO idea what I’d be getting; I even avoided cheating by looking online… Anyhoo, today I am posting what I received along with my initial impression. I will then update and give my Biscuit review after I have tried each of the products.

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Description and list of each item included in the June/July box supporting Farm Sanctuary:

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Fred + Far Trillion Pin

I have never heard of this company before, nor am I familiar with the self-love movement, but hey, sounds good to me!

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Gemtye Custom Heart Bracelet and Hair Tie

This is cute. Aaaand it’s turquoise so it’ll definitely be worn. My hair is no where near long enough to need a fancy hair tie, but just in case, I may have one on my wrist! When I did have long hair I just never felt a scrunchie was a fashionable accessory, so this would’ve looked lovely while also coming in handy!

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New Chapter Perfect Hair, Skin & Nails

Who doesn’t want healthy hair and nails while also supporting skin elasticity?! Sure, I’m on board!

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100% Pure Fruit Pigmented Pomegranate Oil Anti-Aging Lipstick in Poppy

First of all, I LOVE lip stuff (stick, gloss, balm) so I was excited when first seeing this. The packaging is lovely and it smells like pomegranate which is yummy, but GOOD LAWD! This color scares the ba-jeebers outta me! Um… I’m thinking this will be given to a gal with more guts and a brighter white smile than I have. Boo-Hoo. (It does goes quite nicely with my current nail polish color though!)

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Faby Nail Polish in Hula Hoop Pink

YES! A polish! Woo Hoo!! Commence Happy Dance… AND it is a color I will actually wear! Not blue or white or some other god-awful-less-than-flattering-shade! 99.9% of the time I sport red of various shades, so this pink will be fun! It’s actually prettier in person than the photo depicts. It is kind of a corally-pink shade that I think will look nicely on my warm skin-tone.

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Kat Von D Beauty Everlasting Liquid in Lovecraft

Now we’re talkin!! Other than the nail polish, I am super excited about this!! I’ve heard amazing things about this lip..stick? lip…gloss? Either is great! It claims to be ‘life-proof’, so I am anxious to give it a whirl; and again the color is gorgeous! Kind of a nudeish-mauve. I’m a fan of Kat, so this will be fun!

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So. Six items, with all but one(?!) full sized. I am very excited about this box! My only hope going forward would be to have products sent to me that would go with my beauty style/skin tone; perhaps more customized to my individual taste and look. Luckily, the two items I am most thrilled about WILL work for me! That one lipstick is the only bummer… Now, off to Ulta I go to get myself some lash-coating magic!

**The lovely ladies at LOVE GOODLY have NO idea who I am. I paid for this box with my own $$ and all opinions and impressions are my own candid thoughts.