Wrapping up 2010

I hope you all enjoyed the first day of 2011.  Chris and I laid low today both taking care of some household work.  I packed away all of the Christmas decorations while he went to my sister’s house to continue working on getting the over-a-thousand-piece swing put together.

Last night we attended a small get-together at a friend’s house to ring in the New Year.  It was just three couples with food, fireworks, and fun.  No big party scene, but we had a good time!  For some reason I couldn’t really get any good shots outside; my camera just wasn’t cooperating on a bunch of different settings I tried.  Perhaps it was due to rain, humidity, and smoke in the air.

Here I am just as we were walking out the door with hat in tow because I knew we’d be outside and the weather was super yucky.

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Our hosts provided all of the food and drinks, which was really nice.  I wanted to make something, but after running around all afternoon I ran out of time.  Here is a look at the eats.

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Creole gumbo with chicken, sausage, and shrimp

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Finger sandwiches, fruit tray, and veggie tray

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Spinach and artichoke dip

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And I made some frozen margaritas.

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Yeah, so that didn’t work.   I was hoping for at least one good one, but last night was not the night for pictures.

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We had a few fireworks and rockets to shoot, but the real show was around the corner at midnight watched from afar.

We headed home shortly after midnight; needless to say I slept late today.  I started off my first day of 2011 with a  bowl of creamy oatmeal and coffee.

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To make the oatmeal, I mixed the following in a saucepan and whipped for five minutes or so on medium low heat with a fork:

~1/3 c each of old fashioned oats, low fat milk, water

~1 mashed banana

~vanilla, cinnamon, dash of salt

Topped with:

~granola

~raisins

~peanut butter

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Lunch was an easy spaghetti bowl with whole wheat spaghetti from fridge, spinach, and french onion light laughing cow wedge all mixed up after heating in the microwave.

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Plus some honey greek yogurt since I was still hungry.

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And more coffee because I was coooollldddd…the weather changed drastically over the day after all the rain we’ve had the past two days.

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I’ve been waiting for mom’s traditional New Year dinner all day long.  She texted that it was ready and I headed over to pick up some food for the husband and me to enjoy at home.

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She sent me home with homemade-never-canned-in-this-family black eye peas and rice for luck; cabbage, rice, ground beef, cheesy, tomato casserole for money; rolls; and fruit with dip.

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The food was delicious, Mom!  I always look forward to your cooking.  Thank you!

I’m about to have some of the fruit with sweet cheesecake dip as I watch the ever so sad and make me ball my eyes out “The Green Mile.” 

Additionally, I am still working on a list of New Year’s Resolutions in my head.  I should get to sharing them with you all tomorrow.  Do you set New Year’s Resolutions?  What goals are you setting for 2011?

If you need to gain some insight into setting your resolutions, here are some blogs I found helpful.

*Assessing Your All Around Well-Being 

*How to Make Resolutions You Can Keep

*10 Tips for Making New Year’s Resolutions

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What Would You Do for the HH Bar?

Wheeewwww!!! It has been a busy past few days as I’m sure it’s been the same for you.  I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas! 

I’ve been running around like a crazy person since this past Wednesday trying to get shopping done, presents wrapped, and helping my husband put together a very large wooden swing set with literally over a thousand parts including screws, nuts & bolts, and wood for my nephew over at my sister’s house. 

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Speaking of my sister–she was super excited about giving me my Christmas gift this year.  She had it custom made and ordered it online through a website she found through some navigating the world wide web.  To my surprise, she had a nutrition bar customized for The Healthified Haven in me and based the ingredients off of my three-times-attempted failure of a cookie recipe.

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Do you see the name of those nutrition bars?  That is the very first box of Healthified Haven Bars.

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The real test was in the taste.  Well, the truth is they taste much like my cookies.  ;)  Slightly chocolaty, crumbly, dry—wait, much like a protein bar.  However, I’m not sure they could go for a “protein bar” since they only contain 7 protein grams.  Though the stats would suffice in my book for a snack bar with 198 calories, 20 grams of carbs. (4 of which are fiber), and 11 fat grams (from the cashew butter); I am not sure I will be lapping them down any time soon nor trying to make a profit. 

On the other hand I do love the concept of having my own personalized bar and think it is hilariously awesome that my sister was so thoughtful in her gift giving.  She also gave me some mismatch bowls and placemats which will soon be making an appearance on The Healthified Haven.  Thank you sis!  Truthfully, I loved all of the gifts. 🙂

On a cold, rainy morning–

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Christmas Day, Chris and I made three different family visits.  The first stop was at my sister-in-law’s house to exchange gifts with hub’s family and also have lunch.

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Twin Nieces posing for the camera.

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Nephew opening gifts.

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Chris’s grandmother opening her pelican (LA state bird) pendant.

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The husband and his uncle—not quite sure what was happening there.

Just a tasting plate of all the food because we still had two more stops.

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Cornbread casserole, sweet potato casserole, smothered green beans, and ham. 

On to the next place—we went to my paternal grandparent’s house.  I chose to skip the meal which included mac-n-cheese, turkey, salad, casseroles of all kinds and lots of desserts.  I did enjoy some of my pawpaw’s fruit salad.

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My grandpa has made this as long as I can remember.  I think it is a mix of fresh fruit with Hawaiian Punch poured on top.  It is so tasty and refreshing with the mix of apples, oranges, grapes, cherries, peaches, and maybe some other fruits.

I only took a couple of pictures of my niece, but their were a ton of people jammed packed in the grandparent’s small house including aunts, uncles, cousins, and second cousins—about fifty people.  Here is one of the pictures of my niece because it is too cute not to share.

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She did have a pretty Christmas dress on to match her bow, but she had a little accident all over herself and one of my aunts.  So she got to don her warm and cozy Christmas PJs.

The last stop was to see my mom along with my sister and her family.  Mom made chicken and sausage file’ gumbo, potato salad, and baked ham.  I had some of each.

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I’ve recently been informed that some people in this area actually mix their potato salad with the gumbo.  So I gave it a try; not really my thing, but it was worth a try.

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Baked ham on a pistolette with mustard on a new placemat from sis.  I did also eat some more potato salad.  And for dessert—an Italian crème cake.

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We also opened presents.

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My nephew listening to his Frosty the Snowman song book.

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Mom playing Santa Mom to me and Chris, my brother-in-law, and sister!

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Nephew so excited to try out his truck potty he just sat right on the box. 🙂

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Me getting some final smooches from my niece just as we all said good night!

It was a wonderful day spent with the ones I love!  And I’m grateful for all of the presents I received—perfumes, scarf and glove set, gift cards, boots, bowls, and of course The Healthified Haven Bars.

What gift were you most excited to give or receive this Christmas?

3 Reasons I Dislike Shopping During the Holidays

Starting with Reason #3: I don’t know what to get!  Each year I struggle with what gifts to purchase for coworkers, husband, family members(especially dad).  Honestly, the people on my list don’t necessarily need anything, but of course I want to give them something.  I want that special something to be a gift that they can actually use, not just shove in a closet never to be seen again until they themselves need a gift to give.  Re-gift anyone!?!  After all, I don’t want my gift to be the talk of the White Elephant Party.

Reason #2: People are nuts!  Shopping during the holidays means crowded aisles of stores where rude consumers push, shove, fight over the last medium sized shirt on the sale rack…where they refuse to say excuse me if they cut you off or bump into you (I personally must have said excuse me at least 20 times on Friday)…where they steal your parking spot as you wait in the lot with your blinker on. Or where they park their cart directly next to yours facing the opposite direction and proceed to take your cart with your purse sitting at the top of the basket in the child’s seat and only notice after being chased by the screaming woman (ME) saying, “Excuse me, ma’am; excuse me ma’am, you just took MY basket!”  I swear she appeared to have a wig with a hat on and is sure to be a scammer.  I would be the naive one that gets scammed by the woman who accidentally took the wrong cart.  Luckily she didn’t steal anything and maybe my analysis is completely off basis.

Reason # 1:  Because of the two latter reasons, my mind gets lost in the madness.  I forget to eat…I forget my budget…I forget who I need to buy gifts for…mainly I forget that the down escalator takes people from upstairs to downstairs.  On Friday I literally stepped onto the downward escalator tripping over my feet and after a few seconds I realize…I am on the wrong escalator.  So I turn around and see adults and children laughing.at.me.  So I shake my head, laugh, and say out loud, “I’ve lost my mind!”

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Likewise, today my mind got lost in the holiday luncheon held at work and I failed to bring my camera, err iPhone.  I will say I had a plate full of a scoop of red beans and rice, 4 seafood salad finger sandwiches(two too many), a deviled egg, marinated veggies two ways, 2 pinwheels, 2 mini meatballs and  2 mini sausages plus I went back for some salad and a scoop of decadent, rich Butterfinger brownie pudding trifle with douses of whipped cream.  Honestly, with all that I wasn’t overly stuffed; I definitely could have gone back for seconds on some things but withheld. 

I did eat a solid breakfast of oatmeal, banana, milk, water, cinnamon, vanilla, cottage cheese, peanut butter, granola, and raisins.

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With hot gingerbread tea.

Dinner was eaten out with the sister and her two babies.  At Sake Cafe I had a salmon avocado roll, California roll, and snow crab roll after a cup of miso soup.  I couldn’t finish all of the rolls eating 4 pieces of salmon and California rolls each and 2 of the snow crab, but they were tasty as usual.

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Once home I snacked on two dough balls which taste like chocolate chip cookies in case you’re wondering.

Do you have any bad shopping experiences to share? 

It’s the Thought That Counts

With Christmas right around the corner, so much emphasis is placed on shopping, gift buying, giving and receiving.  I say it all the time; the actual gift makes no difference.  It is the thought that counts.  But truthfully is it really just the thought or does the gift matter? 

This afternoon as I picked up my fourth grade students for my last math class, one student says, “I have something for you.”  I acknowledged him, but I no longer get too excited about receiving gifts from my students because it is usually the same old smelly lotion, candy, used ornaments, or the favorite teacher gift of all time—a mug, sometimes with goodies in it and sometimes without.  So sure enough I thought to myself it was going to be another one of these to stuff in my kitchen cabinet and add to the pile that my husband says, “You really need to get rid of some of those.”

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We made our way to the classroom and the student was then called over the intercom to check out early.  Just before he left he said, “Do you want your gift now?”  Of course I did.  He then asked, “Which color do you like best—white, baby blue, or dark blue?”  Okay, maybe this is something, my excitement evolved slightly.  I went with baby blue and emerged from his pocket was this…

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A decorative bead, a baby blue bead.

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I smiled and accepted whole heartedly as he handed it over and thanked him so much.  He had a grin from ear to ear.  It was the joy that he handed over to me; it wasn’t about the gift at all. 

What’s a girl to do with a baby blue bead?  I will place this in the third drawer of my jewelry box with other student mementos and on the rare occasion that I see it I will remember and smile. 

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Not that it is as special as my gift, but today’s meals…

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Oatmeal with crumbled gingerbread cake and a mug (from a student) of tea.

Lunch was a salad of romaine, tomatoes, carrots, turkey, feta, ranch light, and some chobani greek yogurt.

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I did make it to the gym, but did NOT feel like being there at all.  I did 20 minutes on the bicycle, followed by 20 minutes on the elliptical, and 12 minutes on the stair stepper.   I ended with some stretching.

By the time I got home I was hungry.  I snacked on crackers (shared with the dogs)and honey flavored goat cheese that has been sitting in my fridge.

On Monday, Mom stopped at my house to let out my dogs since Chris and I both worked late and she snuck some leftover Chinese takeout in my refrigerator.  So dinner was composed of fried rice.

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I also had a piece of gingerbread cake.  I guess my body was craving some carbs. tonight.

Have you ever received a gift that meant a lot, but wasn’t exactly something you would want or could ever use?

In the Spirit of Christmas

Christmas is less than two weeks away.  And in the spirit of the holiday, Chris and I purchased our very first Christmas tree yesterday.  In the five years of living at our house and the four years of being married, this is our first family tree.  So I am super excited about it.  Not only does it make the house smell fresh and piney, but waking up to the vibrant reds and greens puts me in a happy mood looking at all of my Christmas decor knowing the holidays are here.  I mean, my husband actually hopped out of bed this morning singing “Silver Bells” in his deepest manly voice.  🙂

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I always admire trees that have a coordinating color scheme rather than a mish mosh of random ornaments collected throughout the years.  Although I have a collection of ornaments that I’ve been given as gifts from students, coworkers, friends, and family; I opted to decorate the tree without them.  Perhaps when I have children of my own that may change because I couldn’t possibly leave off my child’s handmade picture wreath or popsicle stick snowflake, but only the future will tell.

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As for the husband’s and my method of decorating the tree, we first trimmed the trunk and got the tree into some water—about a gallon.  I put on the tree skirt, which I purchased for half off at Michael’s craft store, and the St. Nick tree topper, which was a gift from Mom several years ago.

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Chris added a poinsettia to his hand for an added touch.  We then strung 600 lights around the tree for that traditional Christmas tree glow.  Artificial poinsettias were added in what I would like to think was a thoughtfully placed pattern.  Next, thirty green, gold, and red ornaments were added to the eight foot tall tree.  Lastly, I wanted to add some cascading ribbon for the final touch.  I purchased some red velvet ribbon; however, I decided it just wasn’t the look I was going for.  So I asked Mom to take a ride with me back to Michael’s to help pick out a ribbon for my tree.  We decided on the red and green plaid, which I think adds the perfect touch of casual sophistication.

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You may be wondering why this is our first Christmas tree.  Well, having two dogs and a cat I always feared they would knock the tree over, eat the ornaments, lights, etc.  I am keeping my fingers crossed that doesn’t happen now that the dogs are out of the puppy stages hopefully.  The cashier at Michael’s suggested tying the tree to a 3M hook on the wall to prevent the cat from tipping it; Chris said he would tie it today to prepare for the animals being left home tomorrow while we are at work.  I keep telling them no when they walk over by the tree.  Maybe they’ll get the message (because we are convinced the two dogs understand English) and stay off my tree!

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My tree came out just as I envisioned and does just what I hoped it would—put me in the Christmas Spirit.

Enough Already

I have not had enough of this little guy and girl on my week off because I didn’t get to see them as much as I wanted to.  😦

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But enough Thanksgiving leftovers that is.  I have not only had the rich, buttery foods on Thursday, but also on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.  Tomorrow, I am going back to my normal eating habits, fingers crossed.  Each year, we only have about ten people eating Mom’s Thanksgiving cooking, but it seems we have enough for forty.  So I took quite a bit of leftovers home on Thursday night and kept  on eating, and eating, and eating.

This year my sister and I decided to help mom with the cooking; she still did most of it, but we eliminated some of her normal menu items by cooking them ourselves. 

Michelle, my sister, did the baked macaroni and cheese and ham.

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Mom did the potato salad…

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praline sweet potatoes…

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green bean and artichoke casserole…

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and the turkey, but no picture was taken because it was still in the oven at this point.

I cooked the cheesy, crawfish pies…

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mirliton and shrimp casserole…

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And we each cooked dessert, but I did not get pictures of all of that.  Mom made pumpkin bars, jam bars, brownies, cupcakes for the baby, apple pie; Michelle made a pumpkin cheesecake, and I made chocolate dipped almond meringues using this Cooking Light recipe.

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These must be meant to be cooked in Northern winter climates because with the high humidity and heat we had on Wednesday and Thursday the meringues did not keep their crunchy texture.  Though my sister thoroughly enjoyed the chocolaty almond taffy that resulted.

As for my plate, I tasted everything except the praline sweet potatoes because I chose to eat pumpkin cheesecake for dessert in place of the potatoes.  Hey, they both provide some beta-carotene right? 😉

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A little lacking of natural veggies, but that is how we roll down South for Thanksgiving. 

So this is what I’ve been eating the last four days and it has been good while it lasted.  Check back this week for when I will share my unhealthy recipes from the two sides I cooked.

Happy Thanksgiving Y’all

Happy Turkey Day!

I have so much to be thankful for:

~I thank the Lord for giving me life free of too many complications. 

~I am thankful for my family–especially the miracle baby, my nephew, who brings joy to the hearts of so many.

~I am thankful that I have live in a country given the freedom to say what I want.

~I am thankful to spend this day with far too much food than any family needs, but we are blessed.

And for a sneak peek of what I’ll be eating today:

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That’s what I was busily working on til midnight last night.  But that is okay, I am up and at it.  Just got home from a two mile jog/walk at the park.  Thankfully, my body can do that. 😉

Gonna head to my sister’s house today for family time, food time, and football time.  Go SAINTS!! Who Dat!

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving everyone!! 🙂