Tuesday Tea

Oolong Tea. This tea has been touted as an antioxidant that helps with weight loss, promoting heart health and reducing high blood pressure and treating skin disorders. I just really love its nutty, no frills flavor. I prefer to drink it after lunch as it helps settle my stomach and keeps the digestive tract moving. I bought the Triple Leaf brand at Sprouts.

eventpic_576CLEAN EATING

With the onset of warm weather, the presence of more fruits and vegetables in the markets and the pure and simple need to put food into my body that I can pronounce, I’m on a mission to make and eat more foods that are in their most natural state. We eat pretty well in my house, but there’s always room for improvement.  Ok, so I may have to steam my broccoli versus eating it raw because, well, that just keeps me from dipping it in dressing I don’t need. I figure as long as I’m not adding it to a cheesy casserole, I’m a giant step ahead.

You may remember I’ve been here before back when I did the summer real food challenge. I introduced my family to some great recipes we still eat to this day.  One of the best things I learned then, and even now, is I don’t have to slave in the kitchen to eat this way.  And trust me, if I had to, I wouldn’t do it.  Every Friday or Saturday, I plan our meals for the following week.  I go to the store and load my fridge with the good stuff – lots of green, red, orange and yellow – and most of our dinners consist of simple eats like a veggie, pita and hummus plate or quinoa salad with apple slices.  I like to eat light at night and it’s a win-win for me because I avoid the exhaustive meal prep, I eat right and I leave the table feeling satisfied but not full. I really hate that full feeling, don’t you?  It’s just not necessary and it makes me feel bad and a tad bit grumpy.

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Tonight we had the Chopped salad with cilantro lime dressing from Damn Delicious. The one thing I changed is I replaced the yogurt in the dressing with half an avocado.  It was still creamy and, yes, damn delicious.  I will certainly make this again.

Do you have any favorite “clean eating” websites?  If so, please share! 

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Five Senses Monday

On Saturday, we took a day trip to Sedona.  Here’s how one day in this beautiful place filled my senses.

Hearing. The sweet sounds of an acoustic guitar while lounging out on the patio at The Enchantment Resort.

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Tasting. A glass of red wine sangria while lounging on the said patio and listening to the said musician.

Seeing. A 360 degree view of these red beauties while watching a mix of sun and developing storm clouds create a stunning light dance on them.  A great backdrop for a little game of croquet.

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Smelling. Fresh air and a newly built fire as the sun goes down along with the warm day’s temperatures.

Feeling. Privileged to have such beauty close to home. It makes those day trips easily obtainable when the need to get out of town seems so great.

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Please feel free to join in.  You can also visit No Apathy Allowed for Five Senses Friday.

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Tuesday Tea

Pu-erh Tea. A very mild, earthy tea from the Yunnan province of China, best known for improving mental alertness and sharp thinking. It is also used for reducing bad cholesterol and assisting in weight loss. I drink two cups in the morning after breakfast.

eventpic_576A few months ago, I had the privilege of going through Franklin Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People training at work. It was a very dynamic and engaging two-day course that has continued to challenge me (in a good way) several weeks later. In Habit #2 – Begin with the End in Mind – they ask you to write your own personal mission statement. A statement that focuses on what you want to be and do; your plan for success. It reaffirms who you are, puts your goals in focus, and moves your ideas into the real world. Your mission statement makes you the leader of your own life. It challenges you to begin each day, task, or project with a clear vision of your desired direction and destination.  

While I’m not yet ready to divulge my destination goal, when writing my mission statement, words like simplicity, mindfulness, meditative, present and contentment dominated my thoughts, and my pencil, while I quickly scrawled out my life in the allotted five minutes. In my mind, these things – these frames of mind – are all interconnected and don’t exist without the other, or at least not at their full potential. I strive for simplicity so I can de-clutter my space and my mind, and make more room for the things that, ultimately, give me contentment and peace. Yes, I am still a novice at this, albeit a spirited one!

My morning walks and meditation have resumed and, oh, how I love this one little hour in the day. I use my walking time to think about what I want to accomplish in the next 15 hours towards my mission, and the meditation time to completely close my mind and just focus on my breathing. I know life is going to get noisy once I hop in the shower, so that time gives me the peace I need to get going. Pair it with a little tea, and I’m off to a great start.

I would like to use this space on Tuesday’s to continue on this adventure, and I would be delighted if you’d join me. What are some key words or phrases in your personal mission statement? 

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Friday Favorites

Oh my, this week brought some great moments and discoveries, and I thought I would share them here with you on this Friday.

Favorite Moments: (1) Having an impromptu afterwork margarita at the beautiful Four Seasons Scottsdale. (2) Games, books, coloring and snacks in a pop-up play tent with my daughter.

10984609_10206522574126275_9215590507756367101_n _DSC3908Favorite Healthy Snack: Snapea Crisps. I can’t seem to put these down once I put one in my mouth. We just go for the lightly salted flavor. Delicious, healthy and portable. You can see in the above photo they are great for snacking in compact tents, too.

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Favorite Baked Good: Fresh Strawberry Muffins from Real Mom Kitchen. We made these last night and shared one as an after-dinner treat, and again for breakfast this morning. They are fluffy and tart from the strawberries, but sweet from the cinnamon and sugar sprinkled on top.

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Favorite Dinner Idea: Cauliflower pizza crust. I must try this in this next few days. I really like cauliflower rice and this looks right up my alley with the mozzarella cheese, artichokes, sundried tomatoes and olives.

Favorite Blog Post: 10 Life-Affirming Reasons to Live a Simple Life over at Slow Your HomeThis wasn’t so much about the information as it was about the timing of it.  May is usually a very busy month for me with birthdays, visitors and an annual work banquet, and this year we’re adding our first dance recital to the list.  Simplicity is hard to come by during these times, but I need to strive for it because I don’t want to lose focus on my priorities.  Decluttering and meditation are on the top of my list, so stay tuned for further musings on these.

What are your favorite things this week?

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Homemade Ginger Chews

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As you may have read here, here and here, I’m a big fan of fresh ginger – the spicy taste, the aroma and the health benefits.  Did you know ginger can help alleviate nausea, sore muscles, boost the immune system and promote digestion?  Check out The Ginger People to learn more.  Meanwhile, I’ll take the largest root available, please.  Of course, it does mold quickly once cut, so time is of the essence when working with this little gem.

While visiting my mother-in-law a few weeks ago, she shared with me these delicious homemade ginger chews.  Once I returned home, I immediately purchased a root and took to the kitchen.  These are easy to make, they taste amazing and you can reserve the liquid to add a little kick to your next club soda cocktail or juice.

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HOMEMADE GINGER CHEWS
Peel and very thinly slice 1 large ginger root (about 8 oz). In a large saucepan, cook 2 cups water, 2 cups sugar (I used 1 cup and they still taste great) and a pinch of salt over medium heat until just boiling, stirring to dissolve sugar. Add ginger slices. Simmer gently, uncovered, 30-40 minutes or until syrupy. Remove from heat; let stand 1 hour. Strain the ginger, reserving the liquid for another use (see above suggestions). Arrange ginger slices on a wire rack set over a shallow baking pan/cookie sheet. Dry overnight.  Eat plain or add 1 cup of sugar to a large bowl and toss in ginger to coat. Store in sealed container and refrigerate up to 1 month.

Do you have any favorite ginger recipes?  If so, please share them in the comment section.  

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Five Senses Monday

I use Five Senses Monday as a way to reflect on the past few days. Feel free to join in if you’d like and leave a link in the comments. You can also visit my friend, Mandi, who posts on Fridays.  

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Seeing. My all-star husband in his lead role of lunch production artist.  It’s his Sunday evening ritual that makes our weekday mornings a breeze, and this mama happy to see a fridge stocked with healthy lunches.  If you’re looking for tasty, healthy meal ideas that are geared toward the whole food diet, check out Marla Meridith’s post where she provides ideas for adults and kids alike.

Hearing. While trying out a new lunch spot over the weekend, this song came on and I was transported back to the many road trips T and I have taken together over the past 12 years.  Talking Heads is in our iTunes library and well played – from up and down the west coast, to the Four Corners and in between.

Tasting. At O.H.S.O., I tried their veggie burger made with black beans and kale and loaded with guacamole and pico de gallo – absolutely delicious!

Smelling. Homemade ginger chews brewing on the stove.  Stay tuned for photos and recipe for this little treat.

Feeling. The beginning of warm weather in the air. Not warm enough for the air conditioning yet, but enough to bring the summer dresses out of storage.

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Through the Lens of a Five Year Old

Over a year and a half ago, I posted photos of D’s first “photoshoot” adventure with my camera titled, Through the Lens of a Three Year Old.  I loved seeing her perspective through those stills.

Now, at nearly five years old, I thought it would be interesting to see how her perspective – and skills – have grown.  While playing in the backyard yesterday afternoon, I gave her the point-and-shoot and told her to take some pictures.  Her first response was, “Of what?” I told her to look around the yard and take pictures of anything she thought was worth capturing.  She immediately took off with a smile and began clicking away.  I loved watching her move things around, bend down, hover over and play around with different vantage points.  Furthermore, she was excited to share her snapshots and I can see why. Here, I share with you my top favorites from our budding photographer…

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