Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Peanut Butter Chocolate Bars

Okay, I'm not a peanut butter fudge lover because if I want creamy peanut butter I'll eat it out of the jar.  What I do like are Reese's Peanut Butter eggs/trees/pumpkins/hearts.  I have to limit myself to one a week or I will sit there and eat a whole package or bag of the things.  So I saw a few ideas on pinterest for making these at home and I adjusted the recipes that I found.  The bars didn't turn out creamy or mushy, but they turned out almost like a semi-crunchy cookie texture which I loved.  By the way, I made these because my mom hosted the dessert part of a progressive dinner this weekend held by our church and I convinced her to make everything homemade.  (If you don't already have a church family, allow me to throw in a little word for Liberty Baptist Church here.  I love my church and there are so many opportunities for anyone who desires to do work for the Lord to get involved.  You can visit our church website HERE for more information.)   If any of you know my mom, she is a perfectionist when it comes to keeping her home clean.  So we really made some sweet memories slinging powdered sugar across her kitchen, and Kollyns ended up looking like she went swimming in a pool of peanut butter.  Fun stuff.  That's what life's about.  So here's my recipe & I hope you enjoy! :)

Nanny Shawn & Kollyns mixing up the graham crackers & powdered sugar!
She wanted to do it by herself!
Loving her sweet little peanut butter nose!
Aren't they so pretty?
I feel like I need to workout from just looking at these jewels. ;)



Thursday, January 24, 2013

Birthday Party Planning

I have discovered the most amazing little party shop called Shop Sweet LuLu.  Visit the store HERE.  Kollyns' party planning has officially begun and I have placed my first order of many I am sure.  I will post some DIY's and my recipes as we get closer to the big day.  For now you can check out Beautiful Life, to see the menu and what I've purchased so far!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Recipe Review: Berry Cobbler

While browsing pinterest the other day, I came across an easy recipe for berry cobbler.  It was just too simple not to try.  So to the store I went for a couple bags of berries, 1 box of cake mix and 2 cans of sprite zero.  I mean seriously, who could resist such a simple recipe?  Mom and I have a Tuesday night dinner tradition so I loaded up the ingredients in Kollyns' bag, and to nannie's house we went.  While she was cooking dinner I preheated the oven & prepped the cobbler (it literally took maybe 3 minutes to prepare).  By the time we had finished eating the cobbler was ready... and OH, it was good.  Here's the recipe and pictures!

1 Box Betty Crocker French Vanilla Cake Mix
2 Cans of Sprite Zero
1 Bag of Frozen Blueberries
1 Bag of Frozen Mixed Berries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Spray Clear 9x13 Pyrex Dish (or any dish) with Pam
Layer blueberries evenly on the bottom
Pour the mixed berries over the blueberries
Evenly Pour the dry cake mix over the frozen fruit
Pour a little more than a can of Sprite Zero over the cake mix
Be sure to coat the cake mix good to avoid lots of dry spots
Bake for 55 Minutes


Recipe makes 16 servings!  140 calories per serving! 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

My Health & Fitness Journey Before, During and After Pregnancy!

Oh look, it's another baby boom!!!  I love babies and I think pregnancy is the absolute coolest thing in the whole entire world.  There is nothing more amazing than experiencing pregnancy and birth...and life from that point forward with a precious little darling of your very own. I'm so happy for everyone that is getting to experience this because I can promise you, your heart will be so full and your cup will runneth over from now on!  One question that I've been asked over and over and over again is how I got back to my pre pregancy shape, and so fast.  I've been putting off this post for it seems like forever because it's kind of embarrassing.  I don't like putting myself out there like this and making it seem like I think I have this great figure, and that I want to show off.  Nope, not for me.  I workout almost every day and eat relatively healthy...but as you can see from my recipe reviews and baking experiments I LOVE to eat.  And from time to time even I get lazy and skip a workout.  I'm no fitness vault of knowledge by any means, but it does help to have parents that own a gym and that love fitness because it's all I've ever known, and I have picked up alot of helpful info along the way. Oh, & did I mention how ridiculously wonderful my labor & delivery experience was?  And I think staying in shape had ALOT to do with it.  Read my labor/delivery story HERE.

1) Develop Healthy Eating Habits & Get Yourself Healthy

Crazy diets and depriving yourself from the foods you love is not a good plan to get in shape before you have a baby.  You should be trying to get healthy, not skinny.  Big difference.  Plus, you can't maintain those eating habits once you get pregnant because it is not healthy for you or your little bundle.  Make eating healthy a lifestyle and indulge in a little guilty snacking once in a blue moon.  You've gotta live a little, but you don't have to live it up everytime you are tempted to snack.

2) Get Moving

Start working out or getting active before you get pregnant so your body can adjust to that level of activity.  At my first OB appointment, the very first question I asked my doctor was how often and intensely can I workout.  He told me to keep doing what I have been doing.  And if I have already been working out...maintain that level of fitness.  If not, I would have to be careful with pushing my body into new things while carrying a baby.

3) Trick yourself into loving water and wean yourself from caffeine.

Everyone knows you shouldn't drink alot of caffeine while you are pregnant, it's not good for you or the baby.  But also drinks contain alot of calories.  Empty calories I might add, that you just don't need.  Your body does, however, need water.  Lots of water.  This wasn't an issue for me because I love water and sodas gross me out.  But if you do love drinks, start by trading one a day for a bottle of water and gradually work your way out of your drink dependant days.

4) Start loving your body now. 

A woman's body is an incredible thing.  Just look at what it can do.  We get to grow our babies in our tummies and that is an amazing miracle. So no matter what shape, size, weight, whatever you are...RESPECT your body and love it for what it's about to do and don't stress about your changing figure.  Be prepared to embrace the changes that come with your growing belly because it really is the most beautiful thing.

 1) Give your body what it needs.

Eat alot, but eat alot of the good stuff.  Baby needs those nutrients and so do you.  Cheeseburgers and Blizzards won't cut it though.  Time for an abundance of fruits, veggies and protein.  I craved apples when I was pregnant. If there had been an apple truck driving down my street I would've chased that bad boy down and rode for miles eating apples (haha). I actually think I talked myself into craving fruit because I knew that was best for little Kollyns. 

2) Stay Active

The more active you stay, the better you will feel.  I had only 1 morning of nausea during my entire pregnancy and I don't know if it was because I was extremely blessed, or because I stayed active.  I worked out just about every morning and that was a good start to making healthy choices throughout the day.  I lightened up on my weights but I did alot of body weight exercises and cardio always making sure to keep my heart rate down!  A typical 1st & 2nd trimester workout for me would include different types of squats, an assortment of lunges, leg extensions, and leg curls and free weight arm exercises as well as ab exercises on a stability ball.  I also used the elliptical alot because it was a smooth, effective form of cardio.  My 3rd trimester included alot of stability ball exercises as well and I used alot of different forms when doing exercises to accomodate my growing belly.  If you aren't familiar with proper workout techniques I would definitely hire a personal trainer for a few sessions to show you some great pregnancy exercises! 


I cannot emphasize enough the role breastfeeding has played in my health and my daughter's health.  I was back down to my pre pregnancy weight within 2-3 weeks and my belly was flat.  Making milk is a calorie burner girls.  Not to mention, it's a superpower ;).  Most importantly, Kollyns has not had a single sick visit to her doctor, ever.  And she will be 2 years old next month. Ahhhmazing.

2) Keep Working Out

My doctor gave me the go ahead to start light workouts 3 weeks after I had Kollyns.  If you thought it was hard to drag your butt to the gym before you had a kid, you just wait until afterwards.  Thankfully, my parents own our I would take Kollyns in her carrier with me when she was an infant so I didn't have to part with her.  For those of you that have to part with your precious jewel, look at it as a time for your little one to bond with daddy, and time for mommy to get a little alone time.  Ease back into it, letting your body lead you because it knows best...and DO NOT let it stress you.  Getting your body back is not your number one priority.  Enjoy your time with your sweet baby because you can't get those moments back, and just workout when you can! 

3) Keep Eating Healthy

If you are breastfeeding, you HAVE TO up your caloric intake.  Do NOT try to diet if you are breastfeeding. I know it's hard. After having Kollyns the last thing I wanted to do was stuff my face while feeling like a bloated puffy marshmallow.  And I'm not talking loading up on the Reese's peanut butter cups, chocolate chip cookies and chips.  You need milk makers, ladies!  Good, healthy fats are super important for your body to take in, in order to produce milk!  I'm talking peanut butter, eggs (not peanut butter eggs...don't get excited girls, there's a comma there), avocado and oatmeal!  Like before, eat an abundance of HEALTHY food (fruits, veggies & lean protein) also.  Also find a few HEALTHY SNACKS you like and keep them on hand.  My faves were yogurt, celery with peanut butter smothered on it, and REAL fruit popsicles (not the ones loaded with sugar).  And of course, stay hydrated and drink lots and lots and lots of water. 

4) Stay active!

If you have a spring/summer/fall baby you have the weather on your side.  Take your baby for long strolls or strap him/her in that jogging stroller and put those running shoes on.  Fresh air is good for you and your little one.  Kollyns was a winter baby, so I didn't have that working to my advantage.  But when she got older and more mobile we would have some dance parties with moves that would make JLo jealous. :)

5) Let your little one be your motivation.

Model a good healthy lifestyle, exercise and show off some crazy good eating habits for your kid.  We want what's best for our sweet babies, and they learn from US. If that isn't enough to keep you motivated, I dont' know what is!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Recipe Review: Red Velvet Poke Cake

I love to bake.  But I also love to be healthy.  So the number one trick for me is to bake something that I won't be tempted to eat an entire pan of.  In this case, it's red velvet cake.  I like red velvet, but I don't love I figured this would be a safe dessert to have staring me in the face everytime I opened the fridge.  Now if this were chocolate cake, nothing would be able to hold me back.  Exactly why it's not a chocolate cake.  I saw this recipe on pinterest and baked exactly according to the recipe.  But after tasting it, I would definitely use cream cheese icing instead of the cool whip.  The cool whip icing makes for a less fattening version of this cake, but red velvet cake isn't very bold in taste and I think cream cheese icing would give it just the right amount of sweetness.



Monday, January 14, 2013

(Pin)spiration:$2 Teeth Whitening

I'm obsessed with white teeth. I have been since I got my braces off in 10th grade! Back then, Crest whitestrips were my go to treatment...but they made my teeth super sensitive (I get chills thinking about it, ickkk). I don't drink any soft drinks at all (eww), but I do enjoy coffee everyday.  I sip my coffee through a straw & put it behind my teeth so it doesn't stain them. I know, who would go to all that trouble for white teeth right? It seems so vain & superficial, but it really isn't. It's the same to me as working out or eating healthy or washing my hair! It is taking care of what God gave me...& I don't think that's unreasonable! Well the dreaded Crest commercials with the lovely slogan "If you're not whitening, you're yellowing..."  seems to be on repeat on the tv lately & it made me kind of paranoid.  And I had noticed that my teeth were not as sparkly as they used to be, we can't have that.  I saw on pinterest that the main ingredient in most whitening products is before I brush I mix a capful of peroxide with water & swish for 30 secs to a minute. Then I mix my normal toothpaste with a little bit of baking soda & brush as usual. Instant results, I tell ya! I plan on doing this a few times a week as it's simple, CHEAP (my favorite part) and effective! Below are my results, yes those are my teeth. And after seeing the after pics, my before pic seriously grosses me out. The 2nd picture was taken immediately after the 1st treatment in the same light. The 3rd picture was after a 2nd treatment and the flash was on, which makes them look brighter too! It works guys, I promise!!!


Wednesday, January 9, 2013


I will be the first to admit that I am not a breakfast person.  I love breakfast foods...just not in the morning.  I prefer eggs and pancakes at night over morning anyday.  I will shamefully admit that if I had to choose a breakfast food to eat in the morning and knew that I wouldn't have to wear it later...I would choose the biggest Krispy Kreme glazed donut that was ever made, Now I'm drooling.  But as we all know, breakfast is a super important part of getting/staying healthy and Krispy Kreme donuts don't really fit in the category with health. No matter how early I get up, I just don't see carving out the time to make myself an egg white omelet and slice up fruit or cook old fashioned oatmeal (the good stuff)...I would much rather spend those extra few minutes sipping my morning coffee and getting my daily dose of Good Morning America while painting my face on.  So my breakfast is super fast, too yummy to be called healthy, and better for me than anything else I eat during the day.  It's a smoothie.  My mom got me this amazing little kitchen gadget called The Ninja.  Oh, let me tell you...this thing has simplified my life in more ways than one.  I used to spend a good 30 minutes shredding chicken with a fork to make my homemade chicken salad...and one press of a button makes it deli-style.  The first time I tried it, my jaw dropped and I jumped with joy.  It's really the little things that excite me.  But that's beside the point...I'm talking about smoothies here.  I throw in 1 heaping scoop of Syntha 6 Vanilla Protein Powder (i love protein), 5 whole frozen strawberries, 1/2 c. plain greek yogurt (more protein), 1 c. almond milk, 1/2 c. old fashioned oats (protein/good carbs), and a little bit of water because I don't like a really thick smoothie.  I press that ninja button for about 5 seconds and BAM... there's breakfast, and I drink it on the way to work.  I win.