Tag Archives: happy

Friday Design: Spring in My Dining Room

It’s Spring in my dining room! As most of you know, I’m an architect by training. So when we moved into our apartment here, I was SO excited to actually have some space to decorate. I absolutely love bold colors so I was pretty bummed when I realized that we couldn’t paint the walls. Instead, I’ve learned to inject color into a room through wall art, dish ware, rugs, etc.

I found a deal at our local grocery on a dozen roses ($5!) and used them to bring Spring into our home. It’s still pretty cold here but the sun in shining and it’s putting me (and everyone else) in a great mood. Not to mention my Happiness Project is actually working 🙂

photo 2^ Pretty flowers in my new vase …

And, if you’ve checked out my tagline (“braving the world with no money in my pocket and a smile on my face”) you know that we can’t put much money into making our apartment beautiful. So here’s the breakdown:

  • Gorgeous Fire/Water painting – moving gift from a very close friend. You could probably do a simple, impactful painting for about $50. As a word of advice, shower praise on the artists in your life. There’s nothing better than a gorgeous piece of art that actually means something.
  • Table set with cool, high-back chairs (I plan on refinishing this) – Craigslist $80
  • Striped rug – TJMaxx $65
  • Plant – bought it as a seedling – Loews $10
  • Recycled tire pot – Unclaimed Freight Store (check for one in your area) $10
  • Yellow vase – Unclaimed Freight $3
  • Green and blue swirl fruit bowl – hand painted by me! $25 (but worth the experience)

photo 1Everything in this photo= $188

And now we’re at the weekend. YAY. Au revoir until Monday! I hope you all have a relaxing couple of days. Love and hugs – Ash

 

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Thriving Thursday: Mom’s Shepherds Pie

Happy Thursday to you all! It’s almost the weekend and I’m excited about it. This last couple months has been absolutely crazy at work. It’s really wonderful to see so many people starting their path to health but I’m a little glad that it’s starting to taper now. I was starting to miss my relaxation (and cooking) time. So here is a great recipe directly from my Momma’s kitchen.

My mom is a fabulous cook. She claims to hate it but how can you hate something you’re so good at?? I think she gets tired of cooking every single night (who wouldn’t) but goodness knows we would have been a MUCH less healthy family without her daily meals.

She is one of those people who can whip up a meal when the fridge and pantry are completely empty. If friends stop by for a chat, she has the most creative and delicious appetizers on the table within 5 minutes. She has mastered the art of feeding AND socializing with people. Those who have tried it know how hard that can be.

She taught me this recipe before I left for college and it quickly became my signature dish. She uses mashed potatoes from the box (understandable with 4 kids and no time) but I love mashing potatoes. They taste better and I get to let out my pent-up aggression on them. So I turned to my friend Alex for some further input. She is also an amazing chef and trained in the art of food.

So here is my combination from the two lovely ladies. My mom’s was quicker but slightly healthier and Alex’s was a little more time-consuming but richer and more savory.

ShepherdsPie-Published

Mom’s Shepherds Pie

Note: This is a delicious dish but if you’re trying to lose weight, do not eat it for dinner. You don’t want the potatoes sitting in your stomach all night. Unless you use the energy, it will turn into fat.

Ingredients:

  • 5 medium potatoes
  • 1 cup organic butter
  • 1 cup milk (unsweetened almond, coconut, whatever…)
  • 1.5 lbs ground turkey
  • 2 Tbsp high heat oil (like coconut or grape seed)
  • 1 onion
  • 3 carrots
  • 1 zucchini
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup gravy (I use Bisto but it contains trace gluten so be careful)
  • salt and pepper

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to its lowest setting.
  2. Chop potatoes into small pieces. Boil them in a large pot of water until soft when stabbed with a fork.
  3. While they’re boiling, chop the onion, carrots, and zucchini.
  4. Drain the potatoes and mix in a large bowl with butter and milk. Mash them all up! Set aside.
  5. In a large pot (yes a large pot) sauté the onions, carrots, and minced garlic on medium heat. Cook until onion is transparent, about 5 minutes.
  6. Add turkey and zucchini to the skillet. Cook for 5 minutes then add gravy. Continue to cook until meat is browned.
  7. Spread out the turkey mixture evenly in the pot then layer the potatoes on top.
  8. Heat in the oven for 5 minutes to let juices mix.
  9. Enjoy!

I hope you’re all having wonderful days. Love and a grin. – Ash

 

Workout Wednesday: Remeasure Time!

This workout capped off an 8-week weight loss challenge for a lot of my patients. At 4 weeks they were doing really well. The goal is to lose 10 pounds and most of them had done it. Then, as the weeks rolled along, they forgot about the changes they had made and a lot of them returned to their previous weight.

There were two people who kept weight off, but I know they slacked towards the end too. The interesting thing is that they all come to me with tips to get back on the healthy track but they already know how! If you’ve done it once before, you can do it again. Humans don’t really learn permanent lessons from doing something for a month. So if and when you fall off the wagon, jump back on! You know how to get back to health. And maybe this time you can make it stick. It’s all up to you.

Anyway, I love my health and the body it has given me. I’m right where I want to be, which I why I love helping people get to that state of mind as well. But I figured I’d participate just to see if there was any change. I measured the largest width from my arm, leg, and belly. My measurements 8 weeks ago and today are:

  • Right arm 8 weeks ago- 12″, today- 11.5″
  • Right leg 8 weeks ago- 24.5″, today- 24.5″
  • Stomach 8 weeks ago-  32.5″, today- 33″

HA! So pretty much exactly the same. I’m happy with that 🙂 And finally the workout you’ve been looking for.

Beginner through intermediate (12 minutes)

– 20 seconds on/ 20 seconds off

– each exercise 3 times in a row

Advanced (16 minutes)

– 30 seconds on/ 10 seconds off

– each exercise 4 times in a row

Exercises:

LowJacks2LowJacks1

1) low jacks (keep your upper body level)

PushUp

2) push ups (beginner- on your knees OR on your feet standing and pushing against a wall)

Squat

3) speed squats (lower ab brace is very important here)

Situps

4) sit ups (lift your shoulders first, DO NOT wrench your neck)

Lunge

5) lunges (shoulders over hips, knee over ankle)

burpees

6) 1/2 burpee (without the push up, step 4)

I hope you’re all having awesome days! Love and a big fat smile. – Ash

 

The Healthful, Happy, and Loving Project …

BullEye

March Goals:

  • Take a 5-minute walk down the block, every morning between shower and work. SLOWLY.
  • When I’m sad, stop thinking of the future. Just smile and try to make that moment happier.
  • Chose a day of the week to talk to each parent and sibling. Like I do with Gran.
  • Read this list every day.
  • Remember to be happy when I succeed.

These seem like some pretty specific goals right? How did I arrive at them? Well …

HappinessProject

There’s a really awesome book a friend sent me. It’s called The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. Instead of being all preachy and general, she chronicles the details of finding her way to happiness. She lays out a list of what she wants to improve and then divides that list into manageable parts. It’s basically a book about baby steps.

I’m finding it very inspirational so I’ve decided to do the same. Every month I’ll lay out my goals for you all to see. I’m not doing this because I’m particularly unhappy. I just have so much awesomeness in my life and I think I could appreciate it better. If I’m not 100% content when everything is hunky-dory, what will happen when life isn’t so nice? I want my happiness to be strong enough to withstand even the hardest challenges.

The questions I’m asking myself:

  • What makes me feel good?
  • What makes me feel bad?
  • Is there any way in which I don’t feel right about my life?
  • Do I live in a way that encourages growth?

My answers to solve these questions – 2013 Goals:

  • Stop being so concerned with the future (haha, does the list of goals act against that?).
  • Learn to switch off work and relax.
  • Be outdoors more.
  • Wake up more energized.
  • Pay off my credit card bills.
  • Invest in quality cooking and cleaning tools – then use them to their full potential.
  • Communicate more regularly with friends and family.
  • Improve our nutrition (eat more raw, nutrient-dense food and cut out all dinnertime grains and sugars).
  • Remove toxins from our food, personal hygiene, cleaning products, etc.
  • Learn to enjoy riding my bike again.
  • Stop putting so much pressure on myself.
  • Remember to be happy when I succeed at these goals.

Things I don’t want to change:

  • My commitment to exercise.
  • My love of healthy cooking.
  • The strength of Mike and My relationship.
  • The strength of my ties to my family.
  • My plans for travel.
  • My thankful heart.
  • My cleanliness and organization.

Happy

My Commandments:

  • Just because it’s fun for someone else, doesn’t mean it’s fun for me.
  • Me is the perfect person for me to be.
  • It’s NOT “doing nothing,” it IS “active relaxation.”
  • Life is play, not an endless stream of work.
  • A true smile and laugh can change a whole conversation.
  • Want what I already have.
  • I don’t have to be good at everything.

To that end, I will let you know, each month what my focus goals are for that month. I’ll pick as many or as few as I think I can handle. Some of them may be focused on for multiple months, some may be much easier than that. Since March is 1/3 of the way in, this month’s list is relatively short. But there’s no better time to start than today!

Does anyone want to join me in this? It can be as big or small of a project as you like. Let me know!

Love and a big smile. – Ash

 

Mindful Monday: Never Enough

This morning’s repost is from a very smart man. His name is Seth Godin. He wrote an awesome book on entrepreneurship in today’s world (The Purple Cow). The type of world where ads on TV and small, incremental product improvements are not enough. Where business starters have to have not only a unique idea but myriad ways to get people to actually buy it. It’s a great book. A quick read full of awesome information, I recommend it.

 

He also writes a blog. Short posts dense with recommendations for leading a successful life. I thought his post today was perfect. Especially for a Monday morning. Just read it:

SethGodin

Never Enough

-Seth Godin

“There’s never enough time to be as patient as we need to be … investing now, when it’s difficult, is the single best moment.”

So don’t save for tomorrow what you know you need to do today. Even if it was extra hard to wake up this morning. Happy Monday everyone! Love and a toothy smile. – Ash

 

DIY Friday: Meal Planning Board

So you’re trying to eat healthy? I bet you have tons of people in the wellness community telling you “it’s really not that expensive!” Well they are wrong. Eating healthy can be VERY expensive. To keep the cost manageable you have to do a lot of planning. You have you cook most of your own food and you can’t have any food waste. Unless you plan, IT IS time-consuming and expensive.

Mike and I have been gradually increasing our health factor over the last several months while trying to keep costs low. We have set up a system where, whenever either of us buys food, we put the receipt on the coffee table for the other to review. It holds us accountable and makes us analyze where money could be better spent.

Then I meal plan. I’m very organized and love to plan ahead so this isn’t too hard for me but I was lacking the necessary tools. That’s why I made this bad boy. My meal planning board.

photo 1 copy

 

My dinner system:

  • Cook double-portions every other day. This means only cooking from scratch 3 times a week! I cook half the meal only partially so it’s not overcooked when I reheat it for dinner the next day.
  • Eat leftovers on the days I don’t cook.
  • Have our “vacation meal” on the seventh day.

It’s quick and means that I can buy more in bulk. Our breakfast is the same every morning (Grainless Granola) and each of us takes care of our lunch separately. It’s a pretty nifty system but I was getting really confused about which meals I was going to cook and which food I needed on my weekly grocery shop.

So during our Simple Sunday this past weekend, the weather was nice enough to paint out on the porch. I finally did my Meal Planning board and I love it!

Supplies:

  • Pretty frame (mine was $5 at Goodwill)
  • Spray paint (for color)
  • Spray paint (for chalk or whiteboard coating)
  • clothespins
  • some cardstock to label the pins
  • fabric to hold the labels
  • hot glue gun
  • a little sandpaper to prep the frame glass
  • painters tape (if you want to do a pattern)
  • an old sheet to protect your floor

Instructions:

photo 2^ Make sure you have a surface to stick the pins to. This frame had lots of dips in it so I blocked it out with some chips of cardboard I had in the recycling bin.

photo 3^ Separate the frame and glass. Sand the glass so it will hold the paint. Spray down all pieces with however many coats they need. *I started with chalkboard paint but it didn’t work all that well. I went back and exchanged it for whiteboard paint and repainted the glass.

photo 4< If you want to paint a pattern, wait until the base layer is dry and then tape it off and spray. *I originally had yellow stripes in mine but it was just too much with the raised dots AND baby yellow. After I finished it I went back and repainted it all white.

Stick the clothespins down with hot glue. If that doesn’t hold, graduate to the messier but much stronger Gorilla Glue.

photo 2 copy^ Cut out your cardstock. And write out any of your favorite dishes. Hot glue your fabric pockets to store them in. Then label the pins with the same cardstock. Mine are for each day of the week and then Snacks to take to work for that week. Here’s the template I made for my labels:  MealBoardLabels

Another idea, for complicated meals, write the ingredients on the back of the card so you don’t have to look back to the cook book every time.

photo 1 copy

And now you have a meal planning board! I’ve only been using mine for a week and I already love it. It takes the strain out of meal planning and makes cooking SO much easier. I will say it looks a little sad and bland with all the white and gray but I’m hoping I can paint the walls our next kitchen so it will just be a pretty accent on a sunny yellow wall. 🙂

Let me know if you have any questions. And HAPPY FRIDAY! Love and a toothy smile. – Ash

 

 

Thriving Thursday: A Different Cook In My Kitchen??

Last night I had a visitor. His name was Dave. I’ve met him twice before. He knocked on my front door, unloaded his tools, and took over my kitchen! It was an odd experience but definitely an enjoyable one. That’s because he’s a SaladMaster Chef!

Now I’m not one to advertise for other people. It’s annoying, I know. But this company is awesome. I love their product and their way of advertising. I’m not getting any kickbacks or freebies for telling you this, I just think you should know.

photo 1

I enter drawings at all the festivals and expos I work and I finally won 🙂 SaladMaster is an elite brand of cookware. Now I know that sounds lame but it was seriously awesome (even Mike thought so). Their cookware is surgical stainless steel and, therefore, doesn’t leach any toxins into your food. He did an experiment with baking soda that showed just how much crap our other cookware put into our food. It was gross.

The other cool thing is that the pots and pans are designed to seal when they heat up so the little pot became like an oven. It heats all the food in half the time and keeps it under 182°F. This means that it loses very little nutrients in the cooking process but anything it does lose, it just circulates back in!

So Dave cooked for us while we sat with wine in hand and watched him. Check out the amazing meal he cooked us in 30 minutes (including the cake). 30 MINUTES!

photo 2

Because it’s so nice and has a lifetime warranty, this stuff is VERY expensive. Like take out a loan expensive. But for what we spend on healthy groceries, Mike and I are considering it an investment. We’re going to save for the next couple months and see what we can afford. Until then I’m going to be cooking in my pots and pans with a grimace on my face. Haha.

The great thing is that he did give us some freebies for having the dinner. Some bakeware that I’ll be using as much as possible instead of our current pots and pans.

Note to Peoria residents: I’m in the process of setting up our next dinner, but this time I’m going to invite some friends (more freebies!). A free healthy meal and a night with Chef Dave. It will also be a full education on American cookware and how SaladMaster fits into that equation. If you want to come, let me know, I’ll make sure I include you. And yes that means you PFC patients. Anyone is welcome.

I hope you’re all having very happy days. Love and a big grin. -Ash