Thursday, March 31, 2011

Servings Update

I am in the process of Spring Cleaning my house, which is hilarious with two little ones.  My time cleaning when they're awake is a hodge-podge of sorting items, putting them in containers and then turning around to find them thrown all over the floor.  Nap time is spent cleaning in hopes of not waking them up.  Perhaps your efforts have been more successful?

And don't even get me started about attempting to clean glass doors.  Between the hand and snot prints from the inside and dog paws from the outside, I have deemed it pointless.

But I digress.

I just wanted to update you on my progress to better equip my growing children (and myself!) with fruits and vegetables throughout the day.  My sister Allison got the girls these adorable little trays so I've been using them for most of their meals.  As silly as it sounds, they've really helped me remember that I need to put a different food group in every little slot.   

So here was Rachel's lunch today.  Mac and cheese (those are veggie noodles), green beans and pears.  

Holy portions, Annie! you say.  You're going to give all that to your one-year-old?

Why yes, yes I am.  Because if you've ever dealt with a one-year-old eating before, you have to be prepared for certain things...

The sweet and innocent look, while toying with her plate...

The "I'm totally over this lunch" move, while turning everything over - while the food was still on the plate, I might add.

And finally, my personal favorite, the What plate? look. 

Hope you're having more luck!

Monday, March 28, 2011

I've been quiet...

I'm so, so sorry.  I swear, I never had allergies until we came to Tennessee.  Now, all of a sudden, I have allergies.  

And my head is fuzzy.

And my baby has a snotty nose.

And Elizabeth has decided that she's wanted to be Princess Pee-the-bed the past few a row.  

Oh, and we're house hunting.

I know...the ultimate test of staying within your means and not banging your head against the wall.  I have become slightly addicted to all things Real Tracs / Zillow /  I could probably list every house within a 40 mile radius of where my husband works and literally squeal with delight when I get emails that new homes have been added within my search.

I name is Annie and I really have issues.  

So...this has lead me a little less than inspired to write.  Or cook.  Or clean my house.  

I've started back on the Body for Life workout, which we both highly recommend, and I felt a big difference after being in a structured program for a week.  Sometimes, you just need someone else to tell you what to do, you know?

Today, I was supposed to start week two and I was honestly dreading it.  Looking at the pile of laundry and my messy house and feeling our impending end-of-lease date around the corner, I was tempted to skip it.  "Really, I'll just get to it tomorrow,"  I told myself.

And myself almost won.

Thankfully, I was saved by a two-year-old banshee who decided that the perfect game of the morning was  catapulting herself off Mommy and Daddy's bed into a sprint around the house and screaming kind of thing.

We had shoes and jackets on in five minutes.

Dropping the girls off at the nursery, I zoned out and went right into my workout.  I probably could have used the steam room today, but I knew it would just be putting off the inevitable leg punishment I was in for.

30 minutes went by and after a good set of squats and lunges, I felt myself relax.  A few calf raises later and I was in a pretty good sweat and felt like I was literally sweating away my stress.  My mind was different and my body was no longer achy and whiny and feeling sorry for itself.  

Suddenly, I found myself at the opposite end of the spectrum into thankfulness.  I was thankful that we are in the position to buy a house and thankful that the only illness I have to complain about is a sinus headache.  I was thankful that my children are active and happy and healthy and loud and boisterous.  I was thankful for the ability to move and work and be joyful.  And I was even thankful for my messy house because at least I knew I wouldn't be bored this afternoon.


I think we all deal with stress in different ways and sometimes you need a cookie and sometimes you need a cup of coffee and a workout.  Me?  I had my cookies yesterday (ha) so today, I worked out.  And now, I'm oh-so-thankful.  

Have a great day!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

How well does your mailman know you??

This was the bounty that came in the mail yesterday...I would say our mailman knows us pretty well!  Not to mention the Better Homes and Gardens and Martha Stewart Living that came in the mail yesterday...can you tell I was a print journalism major??!!  And no, before you croak, I did not buy / pay full price for all of these.  Oxygen is worth full price - I've gotten it for years.  Great workouts and diet tips.  Muscle and Fitness, Parenting, and BHG, I got at a huge discount.  Martha comes for free (score!).  High Five is a gift my mom sent Elizabeth...a little too old for her yet but I'm saving them. 

Great reading material for the Stair Master...and yes, we recycle!  Have a great day!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

My sister's kitchen: Fresh Ginger Cupcakes

Aunt Allison with her favorite little cupcakes!
By Allison
Okay kiddies, on this episode of Baking with Allison, we're talking substitutions. You might be asking yourself, "But what's the point of having sweets if they can't be deliciously fatty and sinful?"  Well the good news is...THEY CAN BE DELICIOUS AND HEALTHY ALL AT THE SAME TIME! 
I know. I just blew your mind. Take a minute to collect yourself, I'll wait.  Okay, ready?

Think about the things in your favorite cookies and cakes that give you pause about eating them when you're trying to get fit. 
Oil? Gulp. 
Eggs? Double Gulp.
Butter? There goes bathing suit season. 
But wait! There is hope! Simple substitutions can cut down on most of this guilt. For example, if a recipe calls for oil you can completely substitute the entire amount with apple sauce. My mother has been doing it for years and it not only keeps the cake super moist (which is the whole reason behind the oil in the first place) but it is delicious. And it sneaks in some nutrition for the kiddies. You can also cut back on the cholesterol the eggs provide in your recipe by subing with egg whites. For every 1 egg you would like to sub, use 2 whites. If the recipe calls for 4 eggs (just as an example) I would only sub 2. That way you're still getting the idea but it'll be lighter.

So to keep with the spirit, I have provided you with a delicious recipe that not only has the substitutions done for you but....IT DOESN'T CONTAIN ANY BUTTER. Take it from me, an avid butter lover, this cake will rock your socks.

Allison's Is It Spring Yet? Fresh Ginger Cupcakes 

2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
3/4 cup sugar

3/4 cup molasses
3/4 cup applesauce (no sugar added)

3/4 cup boiling water
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3 oz ginger root

2 large eggs

Before you get mixing, I would peel the ginger root (I like gently scrapping the skin off with a spoon). Once it's naked, throw it in the food processor and make it slush and set it aside with the water.

Ginger root (*Annie's note:  I've always been terrified of these things!)

Put all dry ingredients (with the exception of the baking soda) into the mixer. Give a little turn of the paddle attachment - just enough to mix it together.  While that's mixing up, sprinkle your baking soda into the boiling water. Once it's dissolved, add the fresh ginger. Set aside.
Matching containers are fun!
Back to the mixer, add the molasses and the applesauce to your dry ingredients and stir until incorporated. (Scrape down the sides of your mixing bowl periodically to insure you won't have any flour pockets.) Add eggs, one at a time. Now you will add the ginger, baking soda, water mixture. Mix until incorporated. Be careful not to over mix-adding too much air to the batter will kill the loft of the cake. 

The batter will be wet, so don't worry if it's not as thick as most of the batters you've done. Scoop the batter into cupcake liners and put in a 350 degree oven for 20-25 minutes or until toothpick comes clean.
Adorable cupcake liners sold separately!
I would traditionally pair this with a cream cheese frosting but the cake itself is so 'BAM' that it doesn't need anything else trying to steal the spotlight and besides, we said no butter...So a simple drizzle of icing will do it.

 Whisk 1/4 cup powdered sugar with a 3/4 teaspoon of milk. And drizzle away babies!

Of course, I had to try make sure they weren't bad...

If you wanted to make the topping a little fancier, you could always make (or buy) some candied ginger for the top of the cupcakes.

Stop licking the computer...

Until next time.....
Lewis, out!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Music Rut

I blame my new ipod for my music rut.

It's just been so easy to walk into the gym, turn on "Annie's Workout" mix and go to work.  Now, I have not been that imaginative with this, so my "mix" is about 10 songs and they have gotten just a little bit old (since I got the ipod at Christmas from my wonderful husband).  I've gone with the Barney Stinson philosophy (if you watch How I met your mother on CBS) that you want all "up" songs in your mixes - so it's basically full of techno and high speed rock out music. 

But today, for some reason, I just needed a change. 

So I flipped through my music and did some box jumps to Bon Jovi ...You Give Love a Bad Name helped me through some lunges, but then I wanted something different.

Randomly, I picked a shuffle of Lonestar.


Songs I hadn't heard forever gave me the extra little boost to finish.  My mind drifted back to being a Graduate Assistant at Gardner-Webb and my pitchers and trips down I-77 with my sister, Andrea (we blared Lonestar in my little white Chevy quite a few times). 

In fact, I was on my way to the nursery to get the girls when Front Porch Looking In came on and I decided to do a couple extra sets instead just because that song touches me differently now than as a 23-year-old single woman then. 

What am I getting at here?  Spring is such a great time to clean out and revamp...there's just something about seeing the sunshine after so many months of blah to get your juices going again.  So maybe look for areas in your workout that you can do the same.  Mix up the tunes.  Totally revamp your routine.  Get a couple books from the library.  Try a new class.  Invite one of your best friends to do a challenge with you.

And enjoy it!  This shouldn't be a's your life!  Have a great weekend!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Rachel's Photo Opp!

My little mover and shaker obviously saw her opening last week when her big sister was down for the count.  She seemed to ham it up and play especially cute - enjoy!!

Yay!!  Spaghetti!!

Yay!!  Mama!!!

Mama, just let me see that camera for a SECOND!!

What do you mean, "Get down"?

Crusin' for a brusin'

Elizabeth, will you get up and play NOW??!!

Happy to see Grandpa

Happy that it's Grandpa's birthday

VERY happy to have cake on Grandpa's birthday!

The sick girl emerges...and plays with a puzzle for a little bit (thank you Aunt Donna!!)

Happy St. Patrick's Day - Eat Green!!

You know, it's funny to see the influence of your upbringing on your adult life.  My grandparents always ate very healthy - looking back now, I think my Memaw needed to for some health issues, although she passed away when I was too young to fully understand them.  I can remember them eating wheat germ and making  yogurt and growing bean fact, when I got my own apartment, I thought I was such a grown up because I bought wheat germ (still do!).

The same holds true to my mom and I've told you how much influence I believe she's had on my life and daily routines... one important one being to have a green vegetable on your dinner plate.  Now, sometimes she strayed from that and we had carrot sticks or corn, but almost every dinner found something green.  Today, I really don't feel like I've put a complete meal on the table without a green vegetable. 

By now you know that I'm battling picky eaters, so it doesn't always mean that my kids EAT them, but at least I put them out there. So I thought it would be fitting, being St. Patrick's Day, that we talk about our favorite green veggies and how to prepare them. 

Nutritionally, your best bet for eating vegetables is raw - it holds all the vitamins and keeps the most water in the food you're eating (think hydrating your body from the cells out!).  If you have little kids like me, though, you may shudder at the thought of raw veggies.  Elizabeth is not the best chewer and last night, we saw Rachel suck a piece of cabbage into her mouth like a spaghetti noodle and swallow it whole. *shudder*  So unless we have sandwiches or pizza (I may get teased for serving carrot sticks with pizza for the rest of my life...but that's how my mom did it!), most things that hit our table are cooked.

When heating vegetables, your best bet is to steam - and by best, I mean healthiest.   Steaming has gotten so much easier with the frozen steam-able vegetables, the bags that Ziploc makes (has anyone tried these?) or hand-dandy machines.  I very rarely pull down my big double-boiler pot to steam anything anymore.

Another option - now that the weather is warmer - is to use your grill.  When we were visiting my best friend a couple weeks ago, her husband made an awesome dish of  diced zucchini, yellow squash, onion, a little olive oil and salt and pepper.  He mixed everything and then put it in a little slotted pan designed for the grill and cooked it beside the burgers.  It was wonderful!

I pulled out my electric griddle the other day (because I swear, the thing can cook anything) and tried it with asparagus.  I think we were having steaks or something nicer and I wanted to make a fancier vegetable.  

This looks like a hodge-podge, but I ATTEMPTED to line them all up, like you cook hot dogs, drizzle olive oil and salt and pepper, and then rotate them until they were cooked on all sides.  They came out wonderful!

We have peas...mostly mixed with mac and cheese... and green beans (only canned for my little weirdos) and broccoli.  I haven't gotten into salads yet with the girls - when does that happen?!  I can get spinach in soups but can't sneak a brussel sprout past them to save my life.  

One day, I dream of a garden where I will grow rows of fresh produce and use my children as cheap labor... however, the idea overwhelms my brain right now.  Perhaps that will be the answer to this pickiness...  Hey, a girl can dream, right?!

Ok, tangent over.  Talk green to me, people!! 

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Speaking of Pushups...

Were we?

Ha!  We are now, I guess.

I was in a random mood at the gym today and did one of my "stream of consciousness" know, doing whatever exercise pops into your head next.  I've been in this little in-between workouts period for a couple of weeks, since we've been traveling and a little off our schedule.  

So anyway, one of my decided exercises today was push-ups - but instead of doing them on the floor, I put the bar across the bottom bar of the squat rack and gripped it while doing my push-ups. 


The action of gripping with your hands while doing the push-up totally engages that little flabby spot under your armpit.  No, I'm not kidding and yes, I bet you know the one.  The little flabs of skin that fold over the arm hole of your tank top?  I hate those.

And that's where I felt the action here.

You could also hold onto a pair of dumbbells or those little push-up things they sell on infomercials (although I never understood why you needed them before!).  If you use the bar, just make sure you rest it on the rack so you don't smash your fingers.

Bye-bye fat flabbies!!

In fact, you could do a whole little circuit right there at the squat rack, using just the bar...

10 push-ups holding the bar  
8-10 bicep curls
15 squats
10 bent rows
15 jump lunges

Repeat 3 times.

Then do abs...  :)  Oww...hurts to laugh! 

Juno Ransom

Ok, so I have never claimed to have all my brain cells working in the same direction and I nearly lost it when I realized that I forgot our precious Way to Go Juno DVD at Amanda and Ben's.  Luckily, we have TWO other Juno videos, so I doubt ERS will ever miss it.  But after calling my best friend to ask if she'd seen it, I received the following email...

Guess I have some baking to do. 

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Best Friends

This past weekend, we traveled to Greensboro to see my best friend Amanda, her husband Ben and their daughter Samantha.  Samantha was born exactly a year (to the day!) after Elizabeth - which we took as an obvious sign that we were meant to be friends forever.  Scott then made the solo trip up to Lynchburg, VA to watch GWU wrestle in the Regional while we stayed and totally destroyed the Williams' house.  

The girls all got along so well and shared (to the extent that this age can share!) and played as well as I could have dreamed.  There was something very sweet about watching our children get close.  My mind drifted forward to pen pals and shared summer vacations and the hopes that they, too, become best friends.  Maybe they'll choose to attend the same college and eventually stand up at each others weddings like we were so blessed to do. 

It's so funny how friendships change as your get older, start your own family and begin to stay limited to your own little bubble.  Long distance relationships - even as best friends - take work and I'm so thankful that Amanda is willing to keep ours going!  It was just so wonderful to sit and relax and visit and play.  

Please enjoy our weekend in pictures!

I'm trying to distract you with the puzzle so you don't realize that I have the keys in my other hand.  Just do the puzzle, Samantha... pay no attention to my other hand...

How cool that they have an easel in their kitchen and access to crayons 24-7?!  Definitely better than our house, Mom!

Oh Baby Honey...

Stacking blocks...and balls...and babies!!


Hey!  Dat's Mine!!  While Rachel says, "Don't pay attention to me, guys...I will just play with this Etcha Sketch that I know I'm not supposed to have..."

Trying to play with the big girls

Sweet hugs / choke holds

What?  This is it??  This little thing?  Come on, one more...

Sticky dessert = party with no shirt on!

Comparing full bellies

Yay!  It's a dance!

Samantha sharing her daddy...she wasn't too pleased to share his lap!

Chilling in the a.m. to Blues Clues!

Friday, March 4, 2011


Just a few odds and ends that I need to share - Fridays are good for that, right?

I have no idea where she gets this from. 
Clover Lane - Walking Drama  - I have really fallen in love with this blog.  I think she has such neat ideas and I've gotten caught up in reading her plan for her 40 Bags in 40 Days.  Of course my husband was thrilled to hear about the idea (because he thinks I'm a know because I pack away off-season clothes and nice things I don't want the girls to break...sigh...) and me actually throwing things away.  Anyway, here she is talking about walking daily to a movie on the treadmill and asking for other ideas.  Her readers provide a pretty substantial list and I know I have some treadmill walkers here so they may be right up your alley!

Just what I {squeeze} in - Granola Goodness - OH.MY.YUM.  Thank you, Tomiannie for this awesome recipe.  I was just thinking about buying coconut oil but thought, what would I use it for?  Hello!!  Too bad I can't count this as a fruit or vegetable...although I LOVE it in yogurt!  

Once a Month Mom - Tacos in a Sleeping Bag - I'm wondering if Elizabeth will go for these.  She is skeptical of all things meat - except for chicken nuggets.  But I'm thinking if it looks like this, she might try it.  Oh yes, I know what you're thinking.  She won't eat meat, vegetables or some fruit...which leaves goldfish and french fries and cheese.  I'm so proud. 

And I need to give a couple shout outs  - 

Stephanie at Stories of My Life - Posted an update to her impressive weight-loss pictures on her blog and announced that her mile time is down to 13:38.  She's doing the Couch to 5K program and has agreed to write a review for me when she's done.  Keep working hard, Stephanie!!

Also, Amy from May all Beings Be Well - Completed her first 10 K last week and finished 53/202 females and 10/46 in her age group - finishing in 54:58.  So proud of you, Amy!!

Ok, enough randomness for today.  Have a great weekend!!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Can we talk servings?

So earlier this week, we had Rachel's 12 month check up.  Is it just me or do you feel like you're being grilled about your parenting skills at those things?

Is she around lead paint?

Do we have anything in the house that could be dangerous to a child: stairs...a pool...cable...her older sister...

Is she talking and trying to memorize the periodic table?

Do I brush her teeth...all 6 of them?  Twice a day?  ARE YOU SURE? 

Is she getting 5-6 servings of fruits and vegetables every day?

WOAH!  This made me snap to attention.  5-6 SERVINGS?  Well of course, I'm nodding yes to my pediatrician, but thinking back to my meals, there is not a shot they are getting that much.

And do I count a serving based on what I put on their plate or what they truly eat??  Let me elaborate for you...
Rachel eating her birthday cupcake...she likes icing...go figure.
Breakfast that morning included a banana and pancakes.  I cut them up and put them on the high chair and then gave the rest to Elizabeth to eat.  I turned around to get the plates and, when I turned back, every single banana was thrown off of Rachel's tray and Elizabeth was using hers to color the table. Serving = 0.

Then came lunch:  mandarin oranges, pizza and green beans.  Rachel ate her green beans and pizza but wouldn't touch the oranges.  Elizabeth ate all her oranges and then Rachel's and pizza but wouldn't budge on the green beans.  Then she asked for more pizza.  When I told her there'd be no more without eating the green beans, she mushed them into a pulp and spread them under her plate.  Then asked for more pizza.  Awesome. So that's one serving for each of them there...well, two if I can count the tomato sauce on the pizza...WHICH I DID!!  So I'm up to two for the day.

Snack was goldfish and grapes.  Rachel wouldn't touch the grapes.  Elizabeth mainly likes pulling them off the stem.  I think she ate five.  Three servings for Elizabeth, two for Rachel.

So that leads me to dinner, where I have one vegetable planned...and there's a 50/50 shot that it'll get eaten.   


Not to mention I'm exhausted about trying to think about all these stupid fruit and vegetable servings.

So that got me thinking...what is recommended for ME?!  I might get 3...4 servings on a good day.  So I did some research (AKA Googled)) and found Fruit & Veggies Matter.  You're not going to believe this.

I'm supposed to get five servings too.

*Double Groan*

So now I need to look at my meal planning in an entirely new way - paying attention to the number of fruits and vegetables in my DAILY plans.  "Hoyie Moyie!" as my daughter would say .

This is going to require some organization...and for me to eat an apple as a snack instead of a granola bar...

Presently, I give myself a C in my organization of my household and meal planning.  My desire is WAY HIGH but my reality is about average.  I am attempting to put together a plan of attack.  Here is my start...with the help of some of my favorite mommy bloggers!

Jodi Furman over at Never Pay Retail Again is a super organizer and has the best ideas.  This week, she posted this little number and I thought it might help in this area.  Ok, so I really thought it was so cute and I have no idea how I'll use it yet...BUT I WILL!!

I get in a huge breakfast rut and an even bigger lunch rut.  I swear, my kids have cheese sandwiches at least 3 days a week...a stat I am not proud of.  So I purchased the $5 Dinner Mom Breakfast and Lunch Cookbook
and can't wait to flip through it.  Erin is really good about adding sides of fruits and vegetables and her meals also obviously work with the budget.  

She also has created these free menu templates that are really nice.  I think I'm going to print them off and then attach them to my new cork board...HA!

I found Once A Month Mom when I was figuring out the world of make your own baby food and her ideas on freezer cooking and meal planning is wonderful.  The best feature for me is that they also have a new diet version!  We have a lot on our plate this Spring, but I really think I may delve into this batch cooking a bit more when things slow down...hahahaha, when things slow down...  I know, I'm just a riot today.

Ok, so now for you...and my question is two-fold.  How do you go about planning your fruit and vegetable intake?  Or am I the only horrible one?  And how do I battle through this picky eating stage?  I have read Deceptively Delicious and I need to plan ahead more to be able to sneak things into their meals.  What do you do?