Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Gym makeover - just in time for the holidays

If you read my recap post on Thanksgiving you saw I really did not get the chance to overstuff myself from Thanksgiving meals. It is that time of year though - when way too many treats are available and you start to think about your New Years resolution. You know the one - the one you make every year to hit the gym more! I started this early with making over my home gym. Sure it took a year but better late than never! It is a work in progress- I have a thought to add more mirrors to the room. 

Here is what I started with. I always had a treadmill but felt crowded in the room. It was a gym/extra guest bed/desk room. Too much all at once!

I had the shelves also not even on the walls - one was on one wall, and the other shelf was on the other. It made it feel even more crowded.

Proof that it always looks worse before it looks better. 

And now the result so far! I still have work to do on the walls but so much easier to workout in this room. I moved in my bike and trainer (just in case I get on the triathlon track again) and my rebounder (which I started using when I learned about Tracy Anderson)

It still is a gym/desk area/ soon to be my craft area but looking much better. 

I also tried to make the many books we have look a little better by placing a few items between the book and changing the way they are stacked.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Thanksgiving Recap

I really had the best intentions to take more pics of Thanksgiving...but a root canal the day before threw those plans off track! Note to everyone - don't delay going to the dentist too long! What I thought would be a filling and crown turned into a 4 hour ordeal at the dentist with a tooth that did not want to cooperate with a root canal. I still pulled through on Thanksgiving with making the meal thanks to B's help (THANK YOU!!). Its one way to eat less on Thanksgiving!

Now down to the meal... I bailed on making cake pops (like I said the day before was pre-occupied) and also bailed on the homemade pie crust. We still made all the other fix in's that I planned thanks to all those Williams Sonoma tools I tried! Two turkeys, the stuffing, mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes.....The best was the potato ricer - it was just fun to put the potato through that instead of mashing. Kinda that when you played with play doh as a kid (ahem) and made the play doh hair (was I the only person who liked doing that???) After the day was over I realized that I did not have any pics of food - I guess if you are having issues eating it my mind did not go to taking pics of it, so here are other pics of the day.

As for the table, I just put on the items I had from last year- when in doubt pull together what you already have!

The real fun on Thanksgiving was the football. If a bunch of people are playing, the pics just mostly ended up of my cute niece.

She's got mad skills... much better than watching football on TV

Are kids just playing and laughing the cutest??

Her daddy my brother teaching her how its done.


Brian Tossing the ball around

And for one last close up of cuteness 

Hope you had a happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Apple Pie with Williams Sonoma Piecrust Cutters

I have never made a pie - sure I had some of those pre made pies I heated up but never made a pie from scratch. Since I have never done this I thought to get a head start on Thanksgiving by making one over the weekend as a trial run for the big Turkey day. I admit I did cheat  the filling with an apple mix from Trader Joe's, but the crust was my first ever by hand!

I used the Williams Sonoma recipe for Basic Pie Dough - check out the site for the details, but here are the ingredients. 


  • 1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbs. sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 8 Tbs. (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
  • 3 Tbs. very cold water
If I can make a pie turn out like this the first time - you can too! The Williams Sonoma Piecrust cutters are the key to this! 

First I started with the ingredients in the recipe and used my new kitchen toys from Williams Sonoma - an Emile Henry Pie Dish and the Piecutters.

These piecrust cutters make all the difference. I was not perfect with the edges on the pie crust, but adding these made the edges looking uniform and decorative! Just a tip - someone at Williams Sonoma said these designs change from year to year so if you like them, get them now!

I then just used the pie cutters to cut the designs out and placed them around the edges.

TA DA! Here are the leaves and acorns around the edges.

 After putting in the filling, I then placed a few turkeys and pumpkins in the middle.

If you are a newbie like I was, I read online that placing foil around the edges helps with browning so that the edges do not burn. I took them after 10 minutes before the pie was done cooking. I cooked this for 1 hour at 350, but I have a convection oven so yours may be more or less.

And it is done! 

Friday, November 18, 2011

Thanksgiving Dinner Menu and Place card ideas

Once again I am having my family over for Thanksgiving. It really ends up being 10 people so it is not a big group but this will be only my second Thanksgiving doing this. Last year I wimped out  - I ordered half the meal including the turkey from AJ's Fine Foods (although I did attempt to make a second turkey on my own). This year, I am not having any of that! Now I need to do it on my own. Turkeys have already been bought and are just waiting for Thanksgiving! I may not be ordering in food but I did get a little help from my friends at Williams Sonoma! I love that they have meal plans already set to make, it helps newbies like me! 

So here is my Thanksgiving menu so far:
Potato Ricer - When I first saw this I thought ricer had more to do with rice than Potatoes. Although there is another brand at Williams Sonoma, this one is larger and was recommended by one of the associates here. It is supposed to make the best mashed potatoes!

Brine Solution - Last year the turkey I did make came out dry. Part of that is due to my oven since it is a convection oven. Most items I make need less time than on the recipe due to this. This year we are going to brine the turkeys to see if that can help as well.

Pumpkin Pie -Lastly, my goal this year is to attempt to make a pie. We will likely create a back up pie from the store, but I am giving this one a try. I got the pie cutters to make it decorative, the pie mix, and the emile henry pie dish.

I am still thinking about making these cake pops  from Bakerella as well if I can fit in the time!

I am still determining my place card holders, but here are a few ideas from Pinterest.

Source: via Debbie on Pinterest

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Pottery Barn Classes-10% off and new dining decor

Have you ever taken one of the Pottery Barn free decorating classes? Did you know when you go you get a 10% coupon?   I just went to one Sunday on holiday decorating and another a few weeks ago on Entertaining.  There is likely one in your area so check it out! Next one for me is on Nov 27th. People either love or hate PB decor, I am one of this that like it but also like to adjust it to stay away from too much matching so mix in other elements. I really love their dining decor so that is what I concentrated on this time, although my dining room table is not from PB (it is from The Dump if you happen to have one in your area, and I am not talking about the trash heap!).  I am once again hosting Thanksgiving for my family and was looking to get some ideas on how to set the table.

First, I feel in love with these chargers  - they are the Tava collection at PB. I tried in vain to find something less expensive but have found that there is still nothing like PB. Some I found were larger or not the same quality so I just gave in and got the PB ones with my 10% off! Another PB tip - I also got the PB credit card, it can only be used there but you get $25 in store credit back after each $250 spent - so another 10% off in my head anyway (although I will just got back and spend it there).

The plates and bowls are also from PB from the caterer collection - I highly recommend as they are perfect for entertaining.

You will also notice that I added a couple of new table items for Thanksgiving also from the PB collection. Their fall items are on sale now for their candle pumpkins. I just added a nice touch to the bowls with the mini candles and a couple of the larger ones to the table.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Dr OZ Green drink- my new afternoon pick me up

Healthy Monday! I recently got a juicer from Breville featured in the documentary "Fat Sick and Nearly Dead" if you have not see it, check it out for inspiration on getting healthy! It follows the story of a couple of men getting healthy from juicing (that would be veggies and fruit, not the other kind).

I do not want to live on juice but I have been trying to get more fruit/veggies in my diet by drinking rather than eating.  Instead of that afternoon diet coke I have actually been trying to bring green drinks to work. I have tried juicing mixes - mostly carrots, apples and greens. Then I came across the Dr OZ green drink looking to try something different.

Dr OZ green drink

2 cups spinach
2 cups cucumber
1 head of celery
1/2 inch or teaspoon ginger root
1 bunch parsley
2 apples
Juice of 1 lime
Juice of 1/2 lemon

You may see this and think it is not for you - but give it a try! I find that I like to leave out the parsley and celery, and then sometimes add another apple for sweetness.  I get the Spinach at Costco in a big bin with the apples and then just use lemon and lime from a jar. I use my vitamix to make this one - have I mentioned how much I love my vitamix?? It is the workhorse of my kitchen, my most used appliance, the microwave is even getting lonely. 

Dr OZ helping out one of my idols Oprah. Go green juice!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Grand Cayman Scuba Diving

This is actually from awhile ago but I realized I never placed it on the blog! Part of my life to make moments matter is scuba diving. There is still nothing like the peace and calm that happens when under the water.

B and I had been to Grand Cayman before and it is still one of my favorite places. When we thought to have a trip this great island came to mind. Grand Cayman has the perfect mix of great diving and fun on land - 7 mile beach always comes up as one of the best beaches in the world!

But now to diving!

First the critters of the sea.

Lobster. Too bad I see so many of them and then the first thing I want when I get back on dry land is to eat it! I never eat lobster at home but when on a scuba trip is to eat only 

Lion Fish  - luckily did not see to many of them as they are not native and have been eating the native fish.

Beautiful Coral

And now for fun with scuba poses - feeling weightless allows for fun poses!

I'm walking like an egyptian!

Learning how to ride a bike again!

This is the latest purposely sunk boat in Grand Cayman - trying our hand at steering it!

And the world famous swimming with the sting rays. You have the opportunity to feed them octupus  but a couple of year ago I tried that and instead one of them decided to suck on my leg - yes I said suck. They inhale food like vacuum. Instead this time I just kept putting it in the sand for them to eat.

B Staring down the ray...I think the ray is winning.

Psycho the resident sting ray came out - you have to hide your hands as they can smell the food on your hands.

Thanks to my frequent travel we were able to get the flights taken care of and due to hurricane season get a great deal on the room again at Sunset House - if you are a scuba diver this is a great place, if not stay somewhere else on the island! The benefit of staying at Sunset House is unlimited shore diving. Right off the dock there is a mermaid statue.

Strike a Pose

Cannot wait for my next scuba trip!

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