The Funnest Summer Workout...

Saturday, July 21, 2012

...has got to be this:




Kids have it all right, don't they? Workouts should...

*Be fun. Check.
*Be taken outdoors when possible. Check.
*Involve a workout buddy. Check.
*Make you lose track of time. Check.
*Not feel like you're working out. Check.
*Have a built-in cool-down system. Check.
*Make you sad when you have to quit. Check times two.

Not to mention, running down the slip and slide is the coolest form of HIIT cardio I've ever seen. Someone should invent sprinkler group exercise classes.

What summer "workouts" are your favorite?

Geocaching Adventure

Friday, July 20, 2012

I've always thought that geocaching sounded like a fantastic grown-up version of a treasure hunt. Turns out, it SO is!

A seasoned geocaching friend of mine offered to take Peanut and I out for a geocaching adventure at a local park. We followed her GPS device to a nearby baseball diamond. We may have looked like gawking fans to the outfielders that eyed us with curiosity, but we didn't care. Nevertheless, we found the cache, magnetized in a crook below one of the towering stadium lights. Yes!



After signing the log and exchanging "treasures" (a fun coin for a pink bead, ha!), we headed to the next spot. The GPS showed a small thicket of trees along the bike path. We searched and searched and climbed and combed, but couldn't find it. Alas, it was still fun to climb through the trees and stumble upon a small surprise:

Boys will be boys

duck eggs
We wondered why one lone duck stayed so close to us while we were rummaging around. We didn't notice this perfect camouflaged nest until we were about to leave. Breathtaking!

I love how geocaching exposes you to little nooks that you might not otherwise explore. It's a purposeful way to be outside, to go on a family outing. It's active. It's great for Peanuts and adults alike. There is such a sense of anticipation for what you'll find and where you'll find it. There's this secret little society that is covertly planting and discovering buried treasures all around the world. It's exciting!


Now, you'll be wondering what little trinkets might be hidden all around your city. I know I do!

**Note: you don't necessarily have to own a GPS device to go geocaching in certain areas. Just go to and use their Google Earth mapping system to pinpoint cache locations. I don't own a GPS, and I've found caches that way!

Living in Food Heaven

Thursday, July 19, 2012

farmer's market

Lately, I've been trying lots of new foods. I go in spurts of being apathetic about what I eat and being very intentional. Right now, I'm feeling intentional and excited about my food choices. Especially since pondering/writing about making food more fun.

My husband was away for a week for work recently, and to get myself excited about him being gone, I planned a week's worth of healthy meals for my son and me. Everything had tomatoes in it because Hubster's allergic (this was my only chance!) and everything was super-healthy (something Hubster resists). Suddenly, a week without him sounded fun. Sure, I missed him, but planning something I couldn't do with him around made the week fun.

For the majority of the week, I used recipes from Self's Drop10 plan. It cut out all the work of making my own menus. They used a lot of the same ingredients in the easy-to-make meals, making preparation easy. Plus, they built the menus around superfoods that have loads of health benefits, something that really motivated me.

penne pasta

Penne Margherita: onion, garlic, olive oil, grape tomatoes, edamame and penne

potato skillet
Sausage and Potato Skillet: red potato, onion, yellow pepper, pre-cooked sausage.

I printed the meals that I wanted to use, cut them out, and pieced them together on a clipboard that I hung in the kitchen.

SELF Drop10 plan

While motivation was high, I decided to try out a few more health foods purported to make my body a lean, mean, disease-fighting machine. Here's what I ended up trying:

1. Edamame: I had never really tried these pea-pod like legumes. But I'll be keeping a regular supply of them in my freezer from now on. Yum! They're easy to add to just about anything. They were in the Drop10 quesedillas even.

2. Sushi: I should've known I wouldn't care for this. I am not a fish eater. Maybe my taste buds are really different than anyone else's, but I just don't have a taste for fish. I know all the health benefits of fish, so I have given them a shot again and again. But I even tried a non-meat version of sushi and wasn't enthused. Oh well. I am still proud that I gave it my best shot. And I had a great time spending time with some girlfriends in a neat little local hotspot.

3. Seaweed: However, the sushi joint served a really good seaweed salad! It wasn't all for naught! I remember tasting seaweed in grade school and thinking it was terrible. I turned another one of my perceptions around, and I love that!

4. Protein Powder: Every fitness website I frequent mentions protein powder. To me, protein powder seems like something a beefy guy who hangs out at GNC would use. However, I've been reading a lot about the health benefits of whey protein powder, so I thought, why not? Target even offers their own version. Hey, guess what? It's pretty darn good. Especially mixed in oatmeal, pancake batter or prepared as a breakfast cookie.

5. Beets: I may have tried these before, but I never intentionally buy them. However, Peanut and I have made a Saturday morning farmer's market ritual. For $1, how could I not give them a shot? First batch of beet chips? Eww. Second batch? Not so bad. A friend clued me in that they taste better peeled. Duh! I also tried the canned version recently and I could take them or leave them. However, they're super-healthy, so I wouldn't be completely adverse to mixing them in with other things.

6. Avocado: This was another take-it-or-leave-it experience. I think I need to learn more about preparing avocado. I'm willing to give it another shot for all this healthfulness. I sliced it up and made some little finger sandwiches with crackers, sliced tomato and feta. I could barely taste it. Only the texture was noticeable.

7. Chia seeds: I finally purchased a batch when I noticed a local store sold them in bulk. Yippee! They're ok, it just takes a little getting used to the gel-like consistency they take on. Given their benefits, I have gladly mixed these into pancake batter, oatmeal, yogurt, etc. Definitely keeping these on-hand. Especially with not eating fish, I need to find new ways of getting Omega 3s.

I hope this has inspired you to experiment with some new-to-you foods. What have you tried that you didn't like? What have you tried and thought "how have I lived without this all this time"?

A Thrifting Guide for Mommas on a Budget (Part Two)

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Vintage Love

Welcome to Part Two of my guide to thrift shopping, filled with tips and tricks to navigate those beautiful, dusty aisles. If you haven't already, check out Part One.

6. Think unconventionally. I’ve been known to buy large plaid men’s shirts to turn into toddler pants. Women’s nightgowns provide great yardage of satin material (because it can get expensive at the fabric store). Board games missing their pieces are perfect for recycling into wall art or jewelry. Those tacky wreaths can be deconstructed and remade into modern spring door decorations. Items do not need to serve their intended purposes—they can be made to serve yours!

For example, this vintage sewing basket makes a great corral for takeout menus and phone books.

thrift shopping

7. Don’t judge the bed by its coverlet. Similarly to the above, you can make almost anything suit your taste with a fresh coat of paint. Don’t dismiss furniture because of a few nicks and scratches or metal baskets because of an ugly shade of pastel. It’s amazing what sandpaper, a half-hour, and a small can of spray paint can do!


8. Schedule the dates. Almost every thrift store has a special sale day of the week or month. Find out when they are and you might enjoy a ½-price discount. You may also benefit from knowing which days the store tends to stock up for fresh pickings. Be prepared to battle for personal space if you go on Saturday mornings.


9. Make sure you have a truck lined up. And make sure said truck actually has working brakes. Ha! This is especially true for rummage saling and flea market shopping. When you buy new patio furniture for $5, you need to find a good way to bring it home that won’t put anyone’s life in jeopardy. But seriously, this is your warning to have proper transportation at the ready when you find an amazing vintage dining room table for $50 that you can’t live without.


10. Iffy items. Now, I know some people who are completely creeped out by thrift stores. I think they think vintage stores are just teeming with all sorts of unsavory things and characters. The truth is, there are lots of everyday people participating in the equivalent of an indoor rummage sale. It’s not taboo anymore! That being said, there are some things you just can’t buy used (underwear, really???), and we all have our limits and that’s ok! Mine are shoes (unless they still have tags), underthings, anything with holes/pills/stains, pillows, and stuffed animals. I especially stay away from things that can’t easily be sanitized or washed.


Thrift shopping isn’t the only way to nab unique deals. Other places to find one-of-a-kind steals: rummage sales, consignment shops, flea markets, antique stores, estate sales, and Etsy Vintage. I have barely bought a single article of clothing for my son for full price at a retail store. I mostly go rummage saling or get clothes from other people I know with boys. It seems illogical to me to spend $20 for an outfit that might be worn three times before it doesn't fit anymore when I can buy a barely-used outfit for $1. We'll leave those prices to the boy's grandmas who like to spoil him, right?

I'm not a natural-born mall shopper, so I too like to buy my clothes on consignment or secondhand. That way, my style isn't a regurgitated version of everyone else's. I love the thrill of the unexpected, unusual and extra-special. And I loved these longs long before it became popular to pick through the thrift stores and resell items for a giant upcharge. To me, it's more about clothing my family in a truly unique style on a shoestring budget. After all, that is exactly what those stores were created for.

I hope you are inspired to hit up the thrift store this weekend. What is your favorite secondhand treasure?

If you're interested in learning even more, here are some other great vintage shopping articles that I've come across:

*An amazing post with sizing tips for vintage clothing
*Elsie also has a great list of thrift shopping tips.
*The Girls with Glasses have an inside-Goodwill video series to guide you through the aisles.
*Great comprehensive mother of all thrifting guide from a professional, Freckle Wonder: Part One, Part Two, and Part Three.