Monday, May 23, 2011

{recipe} tuna tapenade

Yesterday, I made Tuna Tapenade from Barefoot Contessa's How easy is that? It's my new favorite cookbook. You are supposed to put the tapenade on crostini (yum!) but I made salad with it since I'm counting points.

As opposed to 'regular' tuna salad (tuna + mayo + pickles), this recipe has deep rich flavors. It's what happens when tuna salad grows up and becomes a sophisticated adult. In particular, it was the thyme, lemon zest, and kalamata olives that gave it its flavor.

The recipe asks you to pulse everything in a food processor, but I just mixed the ingredients with a fork.

Added to romaine lettuce and radishes... a lovely, healthy meal.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

returning to the mother ship

image via flickr

I have returned to the mother ship...Weight Watchers. I have tried going it on my own, and had some success. Unfortunately, after an extended period of time, I tend to become despondent and tired of the slow success. "What's the point?" settles in to my overall attitude, and before I know it, I'm back where I started.

I also had a couple attempts at eating the French Skinny way. In a nutshell: eating anything you want, but only a few bites of it. Sitting down to eat, never eating on the run, and savoring every bite. Paying attention to your body signals and only eating when you are truly hungry. Admittedly, I had great (fast!) success with FS, but I couldn't stick with the FS mentality. See, if I want to eat ahi, tomato/mozzarella salad, and garlic bread, I want to eat more than just a few bites of it. I don't mean that I want to gorge myself; I just mean that I want to sit down to a true meal. Overall, I think I'm just too Type A for the French Skinny. I tried to fight it, but I'm naturally inclined to measuring, charting, recording...

And so, Weight Watchers is my girl. She has helped me lose the weight before, and she'll help me again. Now I just have to get used to the new 'Points Plus' program.

By the way, week one:  -3.2 lbs.  (yay!)

Friday, May 20, 2011

graceful creative {what it means}

Graceful Creative is my style statement. It's who I am, at my best.

Greek mythology tells of sister goddesses of joy, charm, and beauty called the three Graces.Graceful is poised and dignified and, at her best, is a giving, generous spirit who seeks to impart kindness and dignity. Love is her fuel; goodwill is her motivation and guide. Graceful prefers meaning and substance but will practice courtesy and compassion rather than forcing her views about a situation. Graceful has a sense of fit and propriety, a craving for balance and good form and proportion. She adores harmony and material and immaterial--from finery to leisure. Rooted in feminine power, Graceful has a quiet and steady confidence. She endeavors to make everything special in the most considerate and ultimately charming ways, and tends to make it all effortless.

Look & Feel: Adroitness, agility, allure, attractiveness, balance, beauty, cleanliness, ease, elegance. The proper fit and hang. Flow, warmth, comfort, harmony. Shapliness, smoothness, style, suppleness, symmetry.

aesthetic, artistic, clever, cool, crafty, cultivated, cultured, dramatic, elegant, exquisite, fertile, formative, gifted, graceful, grand, harmonious, hip, ideal, imaginative, ingenious, innovative, inspired, inventive, musical, original, ornamental, pictorial, picturesque, pleasing, poetic, productive, prolific, refined, rhythmical, satisfying, sensitive, skillful, stimulating, stylish, sublime, talented, tasteful, visionary.

Monday, February 28, 2011

{assignment #4} 39 by 39

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Some are silly, some are deep...

39 by 39

  1. Get to my happy weight.(139)
  2. Establish a nightly skin care routine.
  3. Establish the habit of the whole family sitting down together for dinner.
  4. Perfect the skill of a "smokey eye."
  5. Perfect the skill of beach waves in hair. (quick version, not time intensive)
  6. Perfect the skill of "natural and dewey" make up routine.
  7. Develop my own "boho chic" style.
  8. Perfect a signature dish or two.
  9. Overhaul my lingerie situation.
  10. Add some oomph to my intimate situation.  ; )
  11. Decide on that tattoo, once and for all.
  12. Learn to cook seasonally.
  13. Learn the art of flower arranging.
  14. House renovations {mostly} done.
  15. Obtain perfect pair (or 2) of jeans.
  16. Establish an exercise routine that works around my life, instead of my life working around it.
  17. Write a personal manifesto.
  18. Successful blog???
  19. Successful etsy endeavor???
  20. Make and grow friendships in my new community.
  21. Date and court my husband.
  22. Be courted by my husband.
  23. Solve the daily headache mystery.
  24. Find a good way to organize photos.
  25. Organize my wedding album! (from 13 years ago)
  26. Go on a tropical vacation and walk around in a tiny bikini.
  27. Establish the habit of a daily vegetable appetizer before dinner.
  28. Go antiquing at the Rose Bowl Flea Market.
  29. Establish a closer relationship with my sister.
  30. Throw a fantastic bbq/party at our new house.
  31. Find a good babysitter and establish an official Date Night.
  32. Establish daily "me" time, where the whole family respects it.
  33. Get up to date on all medical appts. (gyno, derm, allergy)
  34. Get life insurance for me.
  35. Establish system for paying off our mortgage.
  36. Set up a living trust.
  37. Make an effort to be in more photos.
  38. Thank my mom for the influence she has been in my life.
  39. Thank my dad for the influence he has been in my life.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

my 38th year

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I just turned 38, and for the first time in my life, I feel old. My skin feels dry, my eyes don't shine so bright, and I have more and more body aches.

I am at a crossroads. I can either continue down this path, accepting my age and life as-is, or I can fight for a life of passion. The life I have dreamed of and know I am capable of having. A life I am worthy of living.

Another thing that has been freaking me out is cancer. Lately, it seems that every friend-of-a-friend has just found cancer. Many of these people have young children, and all I can think about it is What if that was me? What would my kids --or J-- do without me? I don't want my kids to grow up without a mother.

My heart breaks for the life I didn't lead.

I have done the responsible thing, and I have begun to make doctor's appointments for routine check ups. Since moving to a new part of California, I have needed to find new doctors anyway. Instead of worrying that I have cancer {knock wood}, I am being proactive and doing what is within my control.

In the meantime, I have also started making a 39 by 39 list: A list of 39 things I want to do before my 39th birthday. I hope to have that list complete by tomorrow. However, a list is just a list until you start checking things off of it.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

{assignment #3} follow up

This is the follow up to yesterday's assignment: Design a rubric for your life.

home + stuff
We are 100% unpacked and moved in. We have weeded out and eliminated everything (toys, clothing, household items) we don't use and/or love. Every item has a home. Kids rooms are decorated to be creative, inspirational, and functional. Our bedroom is clean and serene, and airy -- a place of tranquility and calm. The kitchen + great room is something like this.
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House is full of daily fresh flowers and many live plants & trees.
**We don't have to be totally finished with our renovation, but we need to have made considerable progress.

fashion + personal style
I "get dressed" at least 5 days a week (as opposed to wearing my workout gear all day long.) I own two pairs of perfect jeans (that make my ass look fantastic!) I have eliminated all things from my closet that are ill-fitting, have stains, or holes. I only own things that I wear regularly and LOVE. I have developed a certain look -- maybe boho chic? I own a kick-ass pair of boots. I have a growing collection of accessories -- scarves, hats, long necklaces, earrings,... I have mastered the "smokey eye", as well as the quickest "get out the door but still look hot" make up routine. I have mastered "California beach hair."

SJP's casual style
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I have started a collection of sexy lingerie. Collection is still growing because they are quality pieces. I {almost} always go to bed feeling sexy. (can't account for sickness or certain days of the month) I have gotten rid of all old pajamas that are undesirable and frumpy. j and I have a healthy intimate life -- sometimes romantic, sometimes spontaneous. j and I have a standing date night, twice a month -- and nothing interferes with it.

I know exactly how much we are worth because everything is organized and accounted for. We set monthly goals for paying off the mortgage, and we have stuck to them June - December. (In January - May, we were paying for RENT + mortgage, so we weren't able to overpay.) We were able to set up an additional bank account to save for the future purchase of an Airstream trailer. I transferred my strs account to something better. I substitute teach 6+ times a month.

friendships + community
I have at least two good (local) girlfriends. Meaning, I can call them and say, "Blah! I've had a $#@&* day... let's ditch our families and go out for dinner." I volunteer in both kids' classrooms. The kids have made good friends and I involve them in regular play dates. As a family, we enjoy having other families over for a meal once a month.

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rest + relaxation
We went on a tropical vacation and it was awesome. So awesome that we have already started budgeting for the next one. Every sunny weekend, there was at least a few hours set aside for beach, hikes, or just playing together. For colder, wetter weather, we were creative and found other things that the whole family enjoyed.

creativity + learning
I get at least 1 hour --every day-- of uninterrupted me time. I studied flower arranging through books and resources. I practice 20 minutes of Spanish, five days a week.

body + wellness
I weigh 140 (give or take 2 lbs.) I have body confidence and no longer spend any time trying to camouflage the size of my hips and butt. I listen to my body and eat only as much as I need. I don't count calories, points, or carbs. I start every day with a green juice smoothie. The rest of my day is filled with fresh fruits and vegetables and local fish and lean meats. I exercise five times a week, but it is not excessive. I am strong and flexible, and my body is free of body aches and pains. I am headache-free. I am up to date on all medical appointments, such as gynecological, dental, dermatological, and allergy-related.

Monday, January 3, 2011

{assignment #3} design a rubric for your life

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When I was a teacher, one of the most important grading tools we used was called a rubric. (Prior to teaching, I had never heard of a rubric.) As best as I can describe it, a rubric is used when evaluating a subjective matter, such as language arts. For example,  a first grader learning how to write a complete paragraph...

At any point in time, a teacher can have one student who can barely strings letters together to make a word, much less a sentence. In the same classroom, the teacher may have a student who writes five-sentence paragraphs, complete with descriptive language. And there will also be the majority of students who fall somewhere in the middle. The best way for a teacher to evaluate these writing samples is with a rubric.

This rubric would describe --in specific detail-- what level of writing skills were required to each a certain score. For example,
4: Paragraph consists of a minimum of five sentences. Uses complete sentence structure. Contains at least two uses of descriptive language, etc.
3: Paragraph consists of 3 -4 sentences. Uses complete sentence structure. Minimal spelling errors. etc.
2: Paragraph contains only 1 or 2 sentences. Many spelling errors. Many or all sentences are incomplete, etc.
1: Paragraph is several words. No example of a complete sentence. etc.

You can see how this "score card" would come in handy when an angry parent came in the classroom, demanding how their child earned a certain score. The more specific the rubric is, the more valuable it is.

Design a rubric for your ultimate fulfilled life. How will you know when you have achieved it if you don't know what it looks like?

Using the same categories in yesterday's letter of intention, describe what a perfect 10 looks like. No need to describe what 1 - 9 looks like, you just need to focus on the ultimate goal.

Be as specific as you can be. The magic is in the details.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

{assignment #2} write a letter to your future self

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This exercise comes straight from Makeunder My Life, one of my all time favorite blogs.

Write a letter to your future self, congratulating your {future} self on all that you have accomplished this year. It is important to write this letter in the past tense, since you have already accomplished all these things. Be specific. Be bold. Be courageous. Be TRUE.

*     *     *

Dear gc,

As 2011 winds down, I am amazed and impressed with everything you have accomplished this year.

home + stuff
In the spring, you moved into your new home. The contractors moved the new walls, roofed it, and closed it in. Ever since April, you and j have been working hard to continue making progress. You installed new floors, insulated and painted the walls, and changed the lighting situation. The kitchen is mostly done -- only a few details left to finish. You and j have made beautiful design choices so that your new home reflects that modern dwell quality. The kids' rooms are completely finished, and they each love their rooms so much. j built loft beds for each of them. The kids' rooms are personalized, comfortable, and organized.

All year, you have made a conscious effort to avoid acquiring any useless *stuff*. It has helped you to not waste money, and it has also been more peaceful to own fewer things. You own fewer things, but the things that you do own hold more value. This means that decorating and accessorizing your new home has been a slower process. You have been okay with that, and you enjoyed the slow, careful process.

fashion + personal style
The less is more philosophy also translated to your wardrobe. Over the course of the year, you became more in tune with your own personal style and less in tune with fleeting trends. You developed a comfortable, chic, and sexy personal style. You learned which cuts and colors look best on you. You also experimented with quick and easy ways to style your hair and do your make up. You learned the best ways to enhance your beauty in a fairly low-maintenance way.

Developing and embracing your own personal style boosted your confidence and your sensuality. It has become a daily habit of yours to take the time to feel pretty, and you learned the importance of feeling sexy for your partner. And boy does j find you sexy! Sometimes it's what you wear to bed, sometimes it's your scent, and sometimes it's your actions, but you and j have created an enviable intimate life. In fact, it is better than ever.

This year, you took responsibility for your financial future. You took proactive steps in budgeting and saving, and you learned where your money regularly goes. You and j have an ambitious plan to pay off the mortgage in 7 years, and you have been sticking with the plan. j is proud of you, and he feels like he has a partner instead of having to solely bear the financial burden. In the fall, you successfully pursued substitute teaching jobs, and you have been able to work a couple of regular days a week.

friendships + community
You have made a few more friends, and several of these friendships seem like ones that will last for the long haul. You organized a couple Mom's Nights Out with the moms of both g and i's classrooms. The parents and teachers at the kids' new school see you as a valuable new addition to the community. You regularly volunteer in both kids' classes, and they have settled in nicely. Both kids have already made good friends in their new classes, and we are all finally settled.

rest + relaxation
Despite the ongoing house renovations, your family made time for regular family fun. All year long, you took time out for beach days, local hikes, and regular bbq's with friends. In the spring, you organized a two-week vacation to Hawaii. It was such a memorable and happy experience for the four of you to get away.

creativity + learning
At the beginning of the year, you created a system where you enforced consistent, daily one-hour personal time for yourself. It became an invaluable part of your routine, and it made you a better person. You don't know how you ever lived without it. You also took the time to pursue outside interests like flower arranging, calligraphy, and Spanish.

body + wellness
This was your biggest triumph of the year! You are no longer at war with your body. This year, you embraced a diet of regular fresh, raw veggies and fruits, and lean protein. You eat good delicious and nutritious food, but only as much as you want and need. You lost the desire to binge on processed and refined-sugary foods because you started seeing your body through a filter of love and admiration. No food is off-limits, but you only want the good stuff. Processed foods taste fake and chemically to you. You regularly exercise, but you don't beat yourself up for missing a workout. Over the year, your body became a lean, strong, and efficient being. Without even realizing it, you achieved the strong, lithe shape you always desired. Now, it seems effortless and the only way to exist.

Cheers to you and congratulations on a great year. You are everything you ever wanted to be.