Saturday, February 25, 2012

Week 1 of the 12 Week Challenge!

Week 1 Challenge: Water and Vitamins
(If you are already getting your water and vitamins, keep reading. I have added an extra challenge for you at the bottom of the page.)

Step 1: Weigh and measure yourself. Measure your thighs, hips, waist, arms, bust and anywhere else you can think of. Record results.

We have all heard before that we need to be drinking 8- 8 ounces glasses of WATER a day. How much are you getting? Be honest. 64 ounces of water a day sounds like a lot right? Well a bottle of water is 16.9 ounces. So drink 4 bottles of water a day and you are done! 
Water is so important. It has been proven to reduce the risk of cancer by up to 50% !With cancer being so prevalent today, why not cut your chances down by filling up on water. Water also serves as a lubricant for your joints, so if you have joint pain or arthritis, drink your water! It detoxes your body and helps with constipation. There are countless reasons to drink water and here are the top 10 from
  1. Water is absolutely essential to the human body’s survival. A person can live for about a month without food, but only about a week without water.
  2. Water helps to maintain healthy body weight by increasing metabolism and regulating appetite.
  3. Water leads to increased energy levels. The most common cause of daytime fatigue is actually mild dehydration.
  4. Drinking adequate amounts of water can decrease the risk of certain types of cancers, including colon cancer, bladder cancer, and breast cancer.
  5. For a majority of sufferers, drinking water can significantly reduce joint and/or back pain.
  6. Water leads to overall greater health by flushing out wastes and bacteria that can cause disease.
  7. Water can prevent and alleviate headaches.
  8. Water naturally moisturizes skin and ensures proper cellular formation underneath layers of skin to give it a healthy, glowing appearance.
  9. Water aids in the digestion process and prevents constipation.
  10. Water is the primary mode of transportation for all nutrients in the body and is essential for proper circulation.

Plus, if you are drinking your water, that means you are not drinking soda which can contain BVO, a flame retardant chemical that can cause memory loss, nerve damage and skin lesions. You will also be cutting excess sugars and dyes from your diet. Dyes have been linked to abnormal brain function and ADHD. Keep it away from your kids people! Do them a favor. Did you know that red dye #4 is the crushed up torso of an African Beetle. I am not making this stuff up. Read more about it and other gross things in our foods by going HERE. So we are also giving up soda. Feel free to drink a cup or 2 of coffee or tea, as long as it is not replacing your water. :)
So Part 1 of this week’s challenge is LOTS OF WATER and NO SODA! 
Get your 64 ounces. 8 glasses a day. To help keep track of how much water you get each day, print my free printable by clicking HERE! Hang it on the fridge, mark off every 8 ounces you get. See if you are really drinking the recommended value. 

Part 2 of this weeks challenge is incorporate vitamins into your everyday routine. Get a pharmaceutical grade vitamin. It is best to get them at GNC or Vitamin World or someplace that specializes in vitamins. They can help you pick what is best for you and have high quality products. Don’t buy cheap vitamins. They will pass through your system quickly with no absorption. Vitamin C  helps with absorption, so make sure you are choosing a multi with Vit C or taking it as a supplement. You can choose separate supplements or a multi. Multis are a great place to start. It is simple to get into a routine taking a multi. For more info and facts about what vitamins you need, go HERE

I am a big water drinker. But I don’t care for the water out of our faucet. So I have been buying bottled water. You can get it relatively inexpensively at Wal-Mart. I keep the bottles in the fridge, so they are nice and refreshing and easy to grab when going on the go. If my water gets warm, I just toss it back in the fridge and change it out for a new one. Next time I need a bottle, I grab the one that I replaced.  I drink so much water this way! It has helped me get my daily intake and keep track of how much I need to go before bedtime.

64 ounces of water is equal to one half gallon. Find a half gallon jug or container and fill it up with filtered water. Keep it in the fridge. Pour your water out of it when getting a glass. This will give you a visual of how much you have consumed and how much more you need for the day. Plus, you will feel motivated to make that jug empty! 
Put your vitamins in a daily pill box. Ladies throw it in your purse. Men, stick it in your desk at work, or somewhere you will see it. Take them with food. I like to take mine with lunch. It helps to have them ready for the week! 

Good luck on Week 1!!!! If you are already getting all your water and vitamins and not drinking any soda, then I challenge you to amp it up by cutting one thing out of your diet and replacing it with a healthier option. For example, replace white bread with whole wheat. Replace chips with fresh veggies. Replace ice cream with yogurt. 
Let me know what you think and how you are doing! See ya next Sunday! :) :) :)      

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Preschool: J is for Jellyfish

I love, love, love this craft! I have the kiddos complete it during Table Time, which can get a little iffy because it does take some direction. But I have learned some tricks to make it go smoothly. I was inspired by some craft that I saw on the net long before I knew what a blog was and when pinterest did not exist. (So sorry for no shout out.)  The original idea used cupcake liners and they colored them with markers. I did that one year, but found that coffee filters worked a lot better for me and the blotters made the little jellies come alive! :)
Blue construction paper (1 sheet per child)
Coffee filter, folded or cut in half (1 for each child)
Wiggly eyes ( I love the self adhesive ones!)
Bingo Blotters or dot painters
Double sided tape (Trust me, this works better than glue for this project)
Yarn (several strands for each kiddo).

I prepped the paper by sticking a 4-5inch piece of double stick tape to the middle of each paper. 
When kiddos came in, they stuck the yarn onto the tape, then placed the coffee filter on top. 
They decorated with bingo blotters/dot painters.
Lastly added wiggly eyes!
I love these litte Jellies! :) :) :) 

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Homemade Donuts!

Warning: This is NOT part of the Get Healthy 12 Week Challenge.
Now that we have that all cleared up... Get out there and make your family some super simple donuts. You will not believe how ridiculously easy these are to make.

I originally saw Paula Deen doing these yummy little wonders. So for fausnaught day (It's FAT Tuesday, ya'll) I thought I would give them a shot! So glad I did. They are so easy. They would make a super easy yummy breakfast. :)

1 can of Grands Biscuits
Oil for frying ( I used canola... but veggie or peanut will work)
Confectioner's sugar
cocoa powder
cinnamon and sugar

Get your set up ready.
I used cookie cooling racks on top of foil for a super easy clean up. 
Mix up your glazes. You could do all sorts of glazes. They are super simple to make. I made a traditional vanilla and a chocolate.
For a vanilla glaze, you want to mix confectioner's sugar with a little bit of milk (or water) add liquids tiny bits at a time. Stirring until the lumps are out. Then add a tiny bit of vanilla. 
For the chocolate glaze, you mix a little cocoa powder into the confectioner's sugar before adding your liquid. I just did these to my tastes and texture preferences. You can look up a more specific recipe if that makes you feel more comfortable. 
I filled bowls with glazes and cinnamon sugar mixture.
(Note: I needed double the glaze shown in the bowl, but I also used 2 cans of biscuits)

Smash your biscuits down a little. Use a small round cutter to make a whole in the center of the biscuit. I used the lid from my canola oil bottle to cut the centers out. 

Meanwhile heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. I had about 1/4 to 1/2 inch of oil in my skillet. 
Test the oil by dipping the edge of a donut hole into the oil and see if it bubbles around the edges. When it bubbles, it is ready. Place donuts in the oil. Whole donuts took about 1 minute on the first side and 45 seconds on the second side. Donut holes take way less time. :) Just stand right over them. Remove them from the skillet, drip off extra oil and dip them in the glaze or sugar mixture. Decorate with sprinkles if you like! 

Sorry guys, no donut hole pictures. We were testing them as soon as they cooled off enough to pop in our mouths! 

Monday, February 20, 2012

Get Healthy 12 Week Challenge!

So the New Year is now over 2 months old. How did those resolutions of getting healthy turn out for you? Are you still doing them. Yeah, I'm barely working out and eating healthy some of the time. So I need a kick in the butt. I am challenging myself to 12 weeks of creating healthy habits and I am inviting you along! Here is how it works:
Each Sunday I will post a new challenge. You will spend the week completing that challenge. Each new challenge will build on one another. So for example by Week 3, you will be doing Week 1, Week 2 and Week 3 challenges. Building healthy habits over the course of 12 weeks. I am not focusing on weight loss (although I am hoping that will be an added bonus). I am focusing on kicking sedentary habits, educating myself (and hopefully you) on healthy lifestyles and encouraging one another to GET HEALTHY. :) 
So If you would like to join me on the journey to getting healthy, then WELCOME! 
I would LOVE it if you become a follower of my blog. Scroll to the upper right corner of the page and click the "Join This Site" button. It is a tiny blue button :)  Leave me comments to let me know what you think and how you are progressing! 
I will see you here next Sunday for Week 1 of the 12 Week Challenge.
P.S. You can join anytime! :)  

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Teeny Tiny Blueberry Tarts

Teeny Tiny Blueberry Tarts or Itty Bitty Baby Blueberry Pies. You pick. You can call it whatever you like. But I am gonna call it yummy :)  We had a church dinner today. I was supposed to bring a dessert. We usually have a million cakes, so I wanted to stay away from cupcakes. I had bought fresh blueberries on Friday. I don't know what it is with me and blueberries lately, but they were calling my name. I think it is the color. How they are deep frosty blue on the outside, but when you cook them, they turn this deep regal purple. Yet, the inside is clear-ish. I kinda love the enigma around that.  So back to trying to figure out what to take to the potluck. I remembered the blueberries. I remembered the Pillsbury Pie Crusts in the fridge. I only had a pint of blueberries, not enough for a pie (you would need about 2 pints).  So I thought maybe I can make little baby pies in my tassie pan. So I did! Here is how to do it:

(Free PDF printable of my recipe by clicking HERE)

2 cups of fresh blueberries (rinse and pick off any stems)
1/4 cup of sugar
1/8 cup of Splenda
a dash of cinnamon (about a 1/4 tsp)
1 tsp cornstarch
1 TBSP + 1 tsp of water
2 refrigerated pie crusts

Mix blueberries, sugar, splenda and 1 TBSP of water in a small saucepan. Heat over medium heat. Stirring constantly and mashing a little with a fork or potato masher. Bring to a light boil. Mix 1 tsp of cold water with cornstarch and stir into mixture. Boil for 1 more minute. Remove from heat. 
Meanwhile, unroll pie crusts. Use a small circle cutter to cut out mini crusts. ( I used a baby food jar lid, but it could have been a little bigger.) After they are all cut out, cut parchment paper in strips. Lay circles onto the strips of parchment and then press into the tassie pan. Like so:

It is a great little tip that I learned from Giada! You would not believe how easy they are to get out of the pan. Just lift right out!!!
Fill cups with blueberry mixture. Bake at 450 for 5 minutes. Yeah. So easy. So yummy. And I suppose you could make this with any type of pie filling. You will just need to cook the filling on the stove top first so it has time to syrup and thicken. :) 

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Smartie Valentines!

I was racking my brain this weekend trying to come up with something creative yet simple to make for my students for Valentine's Day. Also, I need something that doesn't hurt the wallet... with 27 students, the cost can quickly add up! So as I was stalking the candy aisles at Target I saw that a jumbo bag of Smarties were on sale for $2! Yay! There were 67 in the package. That made 2 rolls of Smarties for each kiddo! Plus, I thought getting Smarties from your teacher was appropriate. If you want to make some you can too! I even made you a free printable!

Black Cardstock (12x12)
Clear cellophane bags
Heart stickers

Print the free printable, cut apart.
Cut the black cardstock in half so you have 2- 12x6 pieces.
Then Cut each 12x6 piece into 3- 4 inch pieces.
Fold each piece of cardstock in half so that the tag will fit on. 
Glue on the tag and decorate with stickers.
Cut cello bags in half.
Fill with packs of Smarties.
Staple the tops onto the bags.
And you are done! 

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Snail Mail :)

What kid doesn't like getting mail? I am an adult and LOVE getting mail! Well... not the bills. But cards and letters and even some junk mail. Packages are even better! I am like a kid on Christmas even though I am usually the one who ordered whatever it is coming in the mail and already know what it is. :) Mail is fun! And we hardly get snail mail anymore. So why not pick a friend or kiddo that you know and send them some mail this week. I did a package for 2 very special kiddos. :) They will be getting this in the mail!

 Strawberry Icing
 Cake Mix and Sprinkles
 Cake Mix-- wrapped in Scrapbooking paper

 Stickers for the kiddos

 Valentine's Day craft items
 Special note for the special kids.

 Wrapped it all up in a box, wrapped the box in brown paper and decorate! :) 
Mail it :)

So the box included a cake mix, icing and sprinkles for the kiddos to make with their mom. ( I just cut the scrapbooking paper down to fit on the box and some ribbon to jazz it up! )
A bunch of scrapbooking stickers. (What kid doesn't like stickers?)
Valentine's foam stickers and doilies.
A glue stick.
Sounds like a box of fun to me! :) 
Happy Valentine's Day!!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Valentine's Cinnamon Pretzel Bark

I reorganized my baking supplies today. Guess what I found. I found that I have a slight obsession with sprinkles. Specifically Valentine's themed ones. I pulled them out of the cupboard and decided I would have to put them to good use. I also saw some white melting chocolate and grabbed that. I was eating some pretzels, trying to decide what to do with the overload of sprinkles sitting on the table when,  PRETZEL BARK!!! Duh!!! But kinda boring. But then I remembered I bought cinnamon imperials at the grocery store the other day! HAH! I had it! Cinnamon Pretzel Bark. Not so boring anymore! :) 

1 bag of Wilton's white melting caps
About 2 large handfuls of pretzels
Some cinnamon red hots or cinnamon imperials
Valentine sprinkles

Melt chocolate
***Okay, I know this is not as easy as it sounds. So see my tips at the end of the post on tempering chocolate:***
Cover a small baking sheet in parchment
While your chocolate is melting, gently break apart some pretzels and spread them out on the parchment.
After your chocolate is melted, tempered and ready to go, dump it over the pretzels, spreading it out gently with a spatula.
Drop cinnamon candies randomly throughout. (I was conservative with this part)
Sprinkle with sprinkles :) 
Toss it in the fridge for about 10-15 minutes or until set. 
Bust apart and enjoy. 
One little warning, the cinnamon candies can be hard, so be careful not to bust a tooth on it :)
This is really yummy! 

Chocolate melting/tempering tips:
~Do NOT use chocolate chips. 
~ Use the double boiler method. 
~Only melt half of your caps.
~Add the second half after you remove the chocolate from the heat.
~Stir like crazy. This is a hugely important part of tempering your chocolate. 
~Stir some more.
~Keep stirring.
~Dip the end of a butter knife into the chocolate and toss it in the fridge.
~Go stir some more.
~After about 2minutes, check the knife... if the chocolate is hard then you are ready to go.
If not, keep stirring and check the knife every minute. 
If it is not setting up nicely after 5 or 6 minutes... I recommend starting over. Your choice though. 

For more info go here.