Busy times keep coming

The kitchen looked almost exactly like this, except for the turquoise counter tops.

I might have mentioned this before, but my husband and I currently run a catering business. Lately it has been picking up and this past weekend was no exception. Friday we had two events, one at a winery and one was a private memorial luncheon at a BEAUTIFUL home. It was really amazing, it looked like it had been built and decorated in the 1950s and not changed much since. I loved it. It reminded me so much of the home I grew up in.

The antipasto platter we made for one of the events.

Saturday we had THREE events; one was appetizers at a private home, one was a wedding at a winery and the last was a birthday party at a private residence. They hired mariachis to perform, it was so cool. I spent a lot of time last week getting ready for them, boy am I glad they are over. It was exhausting! But overall I had a pretty good time. Hopefully I’ll be able to catch up on my blogroll this week!

Keeping it Real: Weight Loss

So I’ve been reading over the blogosphere about how to increase readership and one of the recommendations is to “keep it real.” Readers can tell when you’re being fake and not being real. My post about my Granny’s death was my first step towards improving that aspect of my blog, as hard as it was to post and be vulnerable out there. Life is not always sunshine and quilting, is it?

Today’s post is another along those same lines. In 2010, I joined Weight Watchers and lost 25 lbs, just by restricting my caloric intake (no exercising). Once I hit the 25lb mark, I stalled. Even though I stuck to my points allowance and didn’t cheat, I could not drop another pound. I knew I needed to start exercising to lose even more, but I hate exercising. So I didn’t and I gave up on restricting calories… and my weight slowing crept back up. I’ve gained back 15 of those pounds.

Yummy Greek salad!

This past weekend I decided to get back on track. I planned out all of our meals using the New Complete Cookbook by Weight Watchers. So far I’ve had a Greek Salad, Meat loaf, mashed potatoes, roasted asparagus & red bell peppers, and last night I made lasagna. And it was all really yummy! I think I stalled on my plan last time because I got tired of what I was eating. I hate cooking so my staples were microwavable items, which got old quick. This time I am going to cook more, which will give me more variety and eliminate getting tired of eating the same things.

This is week one, I will try to keep posting on my progress! Hopefully by this time next year I will be down to my goal weight!

Are you trying to lose weight this year? How are you going about doing it?

Weight Watchers Part 4: Late Night Snacks and Shopping Tips

(Continued from Part 3: Evenings and Dinner)

I used to love having ice cream at night while I watched my favorite TV shows after dinner. I thought I would have to give that up on my new diet, but Weight Watchers has a line of ice creams that are REALLY good, and really low in points value! The Giant Chocolate Fudge Bars are a favorite at one point each, as well as the Cookies and Cream bars, two points each. They’re a bit pricey (usually about $5 for 6 bars), but being able to eat ice cream is worth it to me.

Points value for the day: 16-23

As you can see, I’m by no means starving myself. What I’m not doing is eating fast food everyday, which was what was hurting me before. If I absolutely must eat out for meals, I try to find options that are very close to what I would normally be eating; such as a Pollo Bowl (rice, pinto beans and chicken) from El Pollo Loco (fast food chain in Southern California). I used to have this attitude of, “I’m eating out already, might as well splurge!” If I eat out every day or every other day, these “little splurges” really add up.

Another thing you might have noticed is that I rarely shop at Big Chain Supermarket Stores. It’s not that they don’t have many of the items I’m looking for, they have EVERYTHING I’m trying to avoid. I have really big weaknesses for Cheetoes, Cheez-Its, Apple Jacks, etc. Trader Joe’s just doesn’t sell these items, so I don’t have to test my will every time I go grocery shopping. I’m really not good at resisting temptation, so the less I have to do it, the better. The only items I consume on a regular basis that Trader Joe’s doesn’t sell are the diet sodas and Weight Watchers desserts, which I have to go to a regular grocery store to get. But since there are only two items, I can go straight to them and get out; I don’t have to go into the cereal aisle and risk the tempting sugary cereals to get my oatmeal, or browse other aisles to get my other items.

Isn’t consuming so many fresh vegetables expensive, you may ask? Yeah, it can be. Eating fast food is definitely cheaper and easier, which is why a lot of Americans are overweight, in my opinion. Going through the drive-thru at Taco Bell for dinner is cheaper and more convenient than going to the market and getting some vegetables and frozen chicken. But I’ve decided to make weight loss my biggest priority, so if I have to cut out some luxuries so I have enough money to go to the market twice a week to stock up on veggies, that’s what I’m going to do.

Another thing that’s been hard is going out with friends. We usually like to hit up the local bar on Tuesdays for Taco Tuesday. Between drink specials on margaritas, unlimited chips and salsa and tasty tacos, it’s hard for me to resist eating to my heart’s content. I’ve started cutting back, only going twice a month instead of every week, and limiting my alcohol consumption. It’s easier to pay attention to what I’m eating when I’m not wasted. Not as fun, but neither is being fat.

I hope you enjoyed my series!! I’d love to hear your tips or questions! 🙂

Weight Watchers Part 3: Evenings and Dinner

(continued from Part 2 in the series, Lunchtime!)

Evenings are a bit tough for me too, if I didn’t pack my snack veggies that day for work I’ll usually come home ravenous and want to eat whatever is quickest. If I need a snack before dinner, I’ll have chips and salsa (15 chips, two points) or even better, celery and salsa. No points!

Another thing that’s been rough for me is avoiding cocktails. I used to come home every night and pour myself a glass of red wine (still good! Only two points!) and finish half a bottle by the end of the night (not so good, six to eight points), make myself a margarita (usually about four points), or some other cocktail. Now if I really want some alcohol I’ll stick to a glass of red wine.

Dinners are usually close to my lunches, indeed my lunches are many times left overs from my previous night’s dinner. I like to buy the packaged frozen dinners that Trader Joe’s sells. When shopping for the packaged frozen dinners, be sure to check the Nutritional Facts for the fat and caloric content. I try to stick to no more than 200 calories and about 5 grams of fat per serving, but sometimes I’ll go up to 400 calories and up to 7 grams of fat per serving. One of my favorites is the Garlic Chicken Pasta Stir Fry, four points a serving. The frozen dinners that include shrimp are also good bets, usually three to four points.

I also like to buy the Marsala Sauce from Trader Joe’s (one point a serving) and sautee it with half a chicken breast. Add brown rice, it’s eight points and very tasty. If I’m still hungry, I’ll eat some salad.

Points so far: 15-21

Check back tomorrow for the final installment of my series!

Weight Watchers Part 2: Lunchtime!

(continued from Part 1 in the series: What to Eat)

For lunch I have a couple of options. Normally I’ll have a rice-beans-chicken bowl, which consists of brown rice (1 cup, four points), black beans (1/2 cup, one point), and a serving of chicken (3 oz, three points), a grand total of eight points. Trader Joe’s sells this really good, pre-cooked, pre-seasoned, pre-sliced frozen chicken, called Just Grilled Marinated Chicken Strips. It’s a lot tastier than plain chicken. Sometimes I substitute pork carnitas instead of chicken, which are the same points value. It’s a simple meal, but it’s really good.

Another lunch option is a sandwich, during the week I’ll normally get it at Subway. A six-inch turkey sandwich on wheat bread, with yellow mustard, no cheese and any vegetables will run you about five or six points. Stay away from the special dressings, cheeses and avocado; they will increase the points value of your sandwich to burger status. If you want chips, the Baked Lays (any flavor) are a good bet, those are two points. Add any diet soda for a drink, which are zero points, and you’ve got lunch for seven or eight points. I usually also eat a baby greens salad with lunch, with an awesome balsamic vinaigrette dressing that I found at Trader Joe’s, a zero points value.

A note about Balsamic vinaigrettes: They are not all created equal! I used to think that I hated them, I thought they tasted horrible. I took a chance on the Trader Joe’s Fat Free Balsamic Vinaigrette because I wanted to make my salad a zero points option and loved it. So if you think that you hate them, give a few different brands a try. Salads (especially baby greens) is a great way to supplement any meal for zero points, as long as you stay away from the creamy dressings such as Ranch or Blue Cheese. If you really cannot find a vinaigrette you like, salsa is a great dressing substitute, also zero points!

Points so far: 9-11 points

The afternoons are a tricky time for me, I normally get bored at work and then really want to start munching. I keep vegetables handy, and since they’re zero points I can eat as many as I want. I try to stay away from fruits because they are usually about two points a-piece. My morning banana is usually the only fruit I’ll eat, but in the evenings I’ll sometimes snack on an apple, two points. Carrots, broccoli, grape tomatoes, cucumbers, mushrooms, all raw, are delicious and all zero points. If you love cheese, most light brands of string cheese are only 1 point a stick, so those are a good snack that I love as well.

Points so far: 9-12 points

Check back tomorrow for part three in the series!

Weight Watchers: What to Eat

I joined Weight Watchers on Sept 19 of this year and to date, I’ve lost 17lbs! I’m still a long way away from my goal weight, but I’m really happy with my progress and I’m especially happy with the Weight Watchers program, it offers exactly the kind of guidance and flexibility I needed. Since I’ve lost weight with little to no exercise, I thought I would share what I’ve been eating and what works for me. I know I’ll probably have to start exercising soon (my daily points allowance has already been reduced by two points since the start) but I think diet is a great place to start.

For breakfast, I normally have a banana (two points) and black coffee (zero points). I recently discovered this fat-free half and half that I buy at Trader Joe’s that is only twenty calories per serving, so I can add a whole bunch of that and only rack up a point. If I don’t have black coffee or the half and half, I’ll drink black tea with some kind of artificial sweetener, zero points. My brain may turn to formaldehyde, but at least I’ll be thin! 🙂

If I want to have a bit more of a substantial breakfast, I’ll eat hot oatmeal (two points). Be sure it is PLAIN oatmeal, the flavored ones add all kinds of points. If you can’t eat straight oatmeal, you can add the fat free half and half and the artificial sweetener, which only racks up a point.

Points so far: 2-3

Check back tomorrow for Part 2 in my series on eating on Weight Watchers!

Greg’s and the Huntington!

On Monday I was able to take off early, so Mike and I jetted up to Westwood, home of UCLA to visit Greg and his fiancee, Kristin. We stopped off at Tommy’s Burgers (Mike’s favorite Burger joint, mine is In N Out) for lunch and got there around 2 or so. Parking was horrendous! We hung out at Kristin’s and watched the awesomely bad Merlin miniseries. Once Greg got off work we walked down to Westwood Village and Olive Garden for dinner, then went separate ways for the evening. Greg and Kristin had play auditions to conduct at UCLA and Mike and I decided to see HairPo at the Village Theatre (soo cooool!!)

The rest of the night passed uneventfully, Mike and I eventually fell asleep on the floor together :loveeye: I don’t get many chances to sleep next to Michael, so when I do I really enjoy it. I think that may be one of the things we are looking forward to most about getting married, (besides all of the crazy SEX we’ll be having, of course!) is just being able to sleep and be together all night long. It’s hard for me to sleep much past 7 or 7:30, so I woke up and watched My Neighbor Totoro until Mike was ready to get going.

Our plan for Tuesday was to visit The Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens in San Marino, about a 45 minute drive from Westwood. Once we got there we encountered the most beautiful gardens either of us has ever seen.

Awesome view of the LA skyline we saw on the way to the Huntington.

There’s Mike in front of the entrance.

Me in front of the first garden we visited, the Rose garden. Our favorite rose was called Tamora, it’s a peach colored rose that smells wonderful.

View of the magnificent Japanese garden.

Amazing Bamboo forest.

Mike in front of the rock garden. After this picture was taken, a squirrel ran across the rocks, lol! :faint:

Look at that bonsai tree! It bends over the edge and then goes back up, amazing.

Mike at the entrance to the lily ponds.

Aww koi fishes! Cute!

If you look closely, you can see some of their little mouths open for food. Precious!:grin:

Ahh being attacked by huge desert tree monstrosity! I can’t remember what the tree was called but it is NOT to be confused with a joshua tree! i remember that much, hehe. :angel:

Mike and a new friend, a brown preying mantis we saw at the entrance to the art galleries.

Overall we had a really fun and exhausting time. Thanks to our host and hostess for having us over. 🙂

Mike’s culinary Delights!

A while ago {Mike} had a final for school and also he made this really pretty and more professional looking dinner for us when his grandparents came to visit. So I thought I would share. 😳

Mike being silly. He doesn’t always wear that hat at his school, usually he wears this black beret thing.

this guy in mike’s class carved this swan ice sculpture for the presentation.

Here’s a close-up of it.

Here’s all the food they made. Actually this picture only captures about half of it.

Here’s the meal he made us. It tasted excellent! Halibut marinated in butter sauce and mushrooms, asparagus, mashed potatoes, shrimp and butter sauce.

Here’s a close-up of the meal. The amazing part is he didn’t follow any recipe, just made it up as he went along… and it tasted so yummy!!

Hope this makes you hungry. :tongue:

Crappy weekend had by all!

Firstly, Happy Valentine’s Day :madeup: Hope you all had a wonderful time with your loved ones. :loveeye:

Secondly, let me tell you. Let ME tell YOU. About my Sunday. Friday and Saturday passed by pretty uneventfully, but SUNDAY. Of course when Mike and I get together, things are bound to get rambunctious. I know this. But let me get on with the story.

The night before, I pretty much raked Mike over the coals about not having anything planned for Valentine’s day. He made excuses of course (work, school, tired, blah blah) but I didn’t buy them. I had been reminding him that it was coming for two weeks, that is more than enough time to at least find a restaraunt and make a reservation. At least. So after we talked, I felt pretty bad, like a complete superficial bitch that you always hear guys talking about, saying how they feel so pressured by their girlfriend to make awesome, outstanding plans for Valentine’s Day. I didn’t want to be one of those bitches. So I called Mike and apologized. He felt bad anyway, and Sunday morning planned out our day, since we were pretty sure a restaurant would be impossible to get on Valentine’s Day.

So Sunday morning we went to church (I wore the dress that he gave me for Christmas), and he decided to take me home to get a fancier outfit for dinner. So we did, bid farewell to my ‘rents, and drove away. As we were driving, we noticed that it sounded like something was grinding — really badly. We pulled over and looked under the car, nothing. Then I reminded Mike that it only happened when we were slowing down, so it might be the brakes. Compile the fact that Mike’s car is known for having crappy brakes, and you got yourself a recipe for disaster.

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